Fatima, widow of the Bab
Fatima, widow of the Bab; another one was her current husband;
and two were "Letters of the Living" that were appointed by the
Bab. The murderers were never punished nor disowned by
Baha'u'llah. The conflict between the two parties became so
fierce that the Turkish government separated them, sending Babis
to Cypress and the Baha'is to Akka in Palestine.
Baha'is often claim that Baha'u'llah was imprisoned most of
his life. He was in exile and was not free to leave Akka, but for
the most of his stay in Akka he was free to move about and owned
palaces and gardens that were purchased with funds supplied by
his followers in Iran and other countries.
Baha'u'llah's claim to be God put him under the difficult
pressure of having to play and live up to that role during the
twenty-six years of his life that followed. Contrary to his
previous custom, in Akka he lived largely in seclusion. No one
was allowed to visit him except by special permission.
One writer of this time wrote: "each visitor was carefully
prepared for his audience with the Manifestation of God. He was
told that what he saw when he came into the Divine Presence would
depend on what he was himself - If he was a material person he
would see only a man, but if he was a spiritual being he would
see God. When his expectations had been sufficiently aroused, the
pilgrim was led into the presence of Baha'u'llah and was
permitted to gaze a few moments upon the "Blessed Perfection",
care being taken that the visitation should end before the spell
was broken. Baha'u'llah, however, did not encourage the Baha'is
in their desire to visit him..there was too great a risk of their
seeing and hearing things in Akka which might weaken their faith.
There was a saying among the Baha'is of Iran that "whosoever went
to Akka lost his faith."
In Akka Baha'u'llah recognized that the Bab had designed his
religion in a manner suitable only to Persia. He also saw that
the Bab's vision of world wide theocracy was unrealistic. Thus,
in order to promote the universal aspirations of the Babi/Baha'i
religion, Baha'u'llah ignored many of the Bayan's injunctions and
sought to make the faith appealing to the Christians and Muslims
in the lands to which the religion had spread. Baha'u'llah
appealed to members of these faiths out of their own scriptures,
claiming not only to be the one whom the Bab foretold, but also
the return of the Shi'ite Hidden Imam, the return of Christ, AND
the Comforter whom Jesus said would come.
Baha'u'llah wrote numerous epistles called "tablets" to
believers, rulers, the Pope in Rome and other religious leaders.
He also wrote longer treatises. All are considered to be the word
of God. In all, these works number over 100. Baha'is have no
definite Canon of scripture. A small book called the AQDAS is
considered the most important of Baha'u'llah's writings, and yet
no authoritative translation of the Arabic has ever been
published. One Arabic scholar refers to them as "rehash of the
The essence of Baha'u'llah's message is aptly summarized
thus: "His writings reached the outside world. They advocated a
broad religious view upholding the unity of God and the essential
harmony of all prophesy when rightly understood. He called upon
all religions to unite, for every religion contains some truth
because all prophets are witnesses to the one Truth that Baha'ism
supremely represents. The human race is under one God and will be
united through his spirit when the Baha'i cause is known and
Baha'u'llah WARNED that NO NEW MANIFESTATION would come for
1,000 YEARS! "Whoever claims Command before completion of a
thousand years is a false liar....Whoever explains this verse or
interprets it in any other way than that plainly sent down, he
will be deprived of the Spirit and Mercy of God."
This warning is interesting because Baha'u'llah had
previously taken this very liberty with the Bab's writings, but
realizing someone after him could do just what he had done, he
forbade anyone else from taking the same liberty.
Baha'u'llah died a natural death in 1892 at the age of 74.
It is reported that between the years 1866 and 1891 about 31
Baha'is were killed in Iran.
With the death of the Divine Manifestation, leadership of
the Baha'i movement passed to Baha'u'llah's oldest son, Abbas
Effendi, who took the name Abdul Baha (Servant of Baha). Abdul
Baha was born on May 23, 1844, which is reputed to be the same
day that the Bab made his fateful declaration of deity.
While he never claimed to be an actual Manifestation of God,
Abdul Baha proclaimed that he was the "Center of the Covenant."
Though Baha'u'llah would have objected, Abdul insisted that only
HE was the sole rightful interpreter of his father's writings and
that his writings were OF EQUAL AUTHORITY with those of
Baha'u'llah. Most of the faithful gladly accepted these claims,
as to them it meant the divine manifestation of Baha'u'llah was
continuing with them through his son. However, an opposition
party arose headed by Abdul's brother, Mizra Mohammad Ali, who
had been appointed second in succession by his father. The
opposition contended that Baha'u'llah had never made provision
for his successor to take such absolute authority, and that, in
fact, only a Manifestation could rightfully claim such authority.
The opposition called themselves Unitarians and called the rest
"Violators of the Covenant. "Most of Baha'u'llah's family members
sided with the Unitarians, believing that Abdul was a self-
seeking opportunist. In return, Abdul excommunicated them and
deprived them of the funds that Baha'u'llah had arranged for them
to receive. The conflict grew extremely bitter, even to the point
of violence. The schism was especially significant because it
centered around two sons of Baha'u'llah, his appointed
successors. The Unitarians never became a strong movement and
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