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

repudiating God.

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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