eventually disappeared from the scene!
In the early 20th century Baha'i missionary efforts began to
take hold in Western lands. Abdul Baha himself was able to
personally promote the Baha'i Faith in Egypt, Europe, England and
America after the Turkish revolution of 1908 made Akka's
political prisoners free. Abdul was especially successful in the
United States, where he received a warm reception and good press
coverage in 1912. He was invited by Mrs. Hearst of the publishing
family, which assured heavy and favorable coverage. Abdul
traveled the United States for 7 months.
Abdul Baha died in 1921 and, by a directive in his will, was
succeeded by his grandson, Shoghi Effendi, who ruled until his
death in 1957. Abdul Baha had appointed his grandson to be the
first Guardian of the cause of God, and Shoghi Effendi made full
use of the authority vested in him, demanding absolute obedience
and excommunicating all who, in any manner, questioned him.
Virtually all of Abdul Baha's family, including his wife and
Shoghi Effendi's own parents and brothers and sisters, were
eventually counted among the excommunicants. It must be noted
that loving one's own family is depicted in the Bible as one of
the most basic commands of God. The consistent inability of
Baha'u'llah and his descendants to love members of their own
family when conflicts of ambition arose hardly confirms the
reliability of the exalted claims they made and make for
Shoghi Effendi's leadership was characterized by an
organization emphasis. He worked at establishing the local and
national spiritual assemblies. He also appointed Twenty Seven
Hands of the Cause, out of which was to be formed the House of
Justice; this in accordance to a stipulation in Abdul Baha's
will, would be headed by the Guardian of the cause or someone
appointed by him. The Guardianship was to be passed on from
father to firstborn son, or to another son if the firstborn was
not worthy. These were to be appointed in the Guardian's will.
However, Shoghi Effendi died childless and never wrote a
will. As a result, confusion reigned among the Hands of the Cause
as to who would succeed the Guardian until they finally
determined that there would be no Guardian. Instead, the movement
would be democratically ruled by the nine member House of
Justice, the members of which they appointed at that time. This
decision was accompanied by the (now traditional) internal
conflict, and a splinter group was formed which appointed its own
The "Hands'" ignoring of Abdul Baha's injunction concerning
the Guardianship was only one in a series of violations of
previous injunctions which began with Baha'u'llah himself.
Baha'u'llah claimed to be a Manifestation, thus violating the
Bab's appointment of Subh-i-Azal. In turn, Abdul Baha violated
provisions in Baha'u'llah's will that Abdul's brother Mizra
Muhammad Ali should succeed him when he appointed his grandson
Shoghi Effendi, instead. Shoghi Effendi ignored the command of
Baha'u'llah that a will must be written in order to avoid
squabbles over leadership, and he also violated Abdul Baha's
provision that he should appoint a successor in his own lifetime
"that differences may not arise after his passing." Since
appointments and wills were supposedly inspired by God, Baha'i
history is filled with "inspired" violations of "inspired"
The doctrine of Divine Manifestations is the central plank
of Baha'i theology. Through this doctrine Baha'is are able to
take seemingly amiable positions toward members of the major
world religions, for each of their founders were manifestations
of God and thus each religion has a measure of truth. On the same
premise Baha'is draw converts from other religions, for, they
insist, the other religions were for other ages while the
religion of Baha'u'llah is for today. To follow it in no way will
conflict with one's native faith, for there is truly only one
faith in mankind's history, best represented now by the Baha'is.
Though the recognized Divine Manifestations represent just
about every conceivable world view (Monotheism through Moses and
Jesus, polytheism through Krisna, Agnosticism through Buddah, and
dualism through Zoroaster), Baha'is insist that they are actually
united in purpose and teaching. The spiritually initiated see
beyond the apparent differences. In fact, Baha'u'llah warned that
anyone who saw even the slightest possible difference between
their words and messages would be guilty of disbelieving and
Among world religions, probably only Buddahism (in its
ORIGINAL form) and Confucianism are less concerned with man's
relationship to God than Baha'ism. The Baha'is are concerned
chiefly with man's relationship to man, as evidenced by the
Baha'i thirteen "principles" which denote social and political
concerns rather than religious. In volume 13 of "THE BAHA'I
WORLD", we read: "It is the avowed faith of Baha'is that this
Revelation has established upon earth the spiritual impulse and
the definite principles necessary for social regeneration and the
attainment of one true religion and social order throughout the
This understanding that the purpose of the current
revelation is SOCIAL regeneration is the reason Baha'is brush
aside the Christian emphasis upon PERSONAL regeneration as being
irrelevant to the present age.
Baha'is follow a number of religious laws and observances.
Included among these are daily prayer, an annual period of
fasting, monogamy, and marriage only by consent of all living
parents. Divorce is permitted after a one year waiting period.
Parents are under religious obligation to educate their children,
education being a KEY WORD to Baha'i. Use of alcohol and
narcotics is forbidden, as is cremation.
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