The Bahá’í Covenant The Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh

How the Covenant in the Bahá’í Faith creates and maintains a unified religious community.

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What were some of the challenges to the Covenant after the passing of Bahá’u’lláh, Part 2

Others who rose against the Covenant after the Passing of Bahá’u’lláh

Mirza Badi’u'llah

…the youngest son of Bahá’u'lláh who joined hands with his older brother Mirza Muhammad-’Ali, violated the Covenant and rose up in opposition to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Some years passed and he, for reasons of his own, went to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, repented his wrongdoings and begged ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to forgive him. With that loving-kindness characteristic of the Master, he was forgiven. On that occasion he wrote and published an epistle addressed to the Bahá’í world, in which he described some of the iniquitous activities of Mirza Muhammad-’Ali. However, Mirza Badi’u'llah’s change of heart lasted for only a short time. He allied himself again with Mirza Muhammad-’Ali and resumed his nefarious activities against the Centre of the Covenant. This son of Bahá’u'lláh, who survived his commander-in-chief Mirza Muhammad-’Ali by many years, inflicted much pain and suffering upon both ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi.
Adib Taherzadeh, The Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 152

Mirza Majdi’d-Din

Married to Mirza Muhammad-’Ali’s sister, he intended to use [Mirza Muhammad-Ali] as a tool — only too willing and wieldy — to nullify the authority of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and obtain power for his own ends. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá told him that he would be given a long life, would live on racked with miseries, welcoming death, craving for the release which death brings; but balm would be denied him, until the day when he should see here in this world the complete frustration of all that he had contrived, the total defeat of all his schemes — the vindication and the triumph of the Covenant of Bahá’u'lláh.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s prophecy was fulfilled. Mirza Majdi’d-Din lived to be more than a hundred years old, stricken down, incapable of movement, shorn of speech, but with eyes to see. In a house fast becoming derelict, which stood next to the Mansion of Bahji, casting a dark shadow alongside its effulgent radiance, this broken man lingered on until 1955. He saw the might of the Covenant triumph over violation. He saw, where he lay, Shoghi Effendi, the grandson of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the Guardian of the Faith — named, raised, and appointed by the Centre of the Covenant of Bahá’u'lláh — in the plenitude of his powers, create for the Shrine of Bahá’u'lláh the setting and surroundings that befitted such a mausoleum. Then he died. But before his unhappy fate overtook him dire was the mischief that he wrought.

H.M. Balyuzi, Abdu’l-Baha - The Centre of the Covenant, p. 53

Mirza Diya’u'llah

Bahá’u'lláh’s other son, Mirza Diya’u'llah, was a vacillating person who wavered in his allegiance to the Centre of the Covenant; he was easily manipulated and became a willing tool in the hands of Mirza Muhammad-’Ali. He lived in the Mansion of Bahji along with the rest of the family, all of whom were affected by the spirit of Covenant-breaking. Mirza Diya’u'llah died in 1898 not very long after the passing of Bahá’u'lláh. He did not live to take an effective part in all the hostile activities which his brother was conducting against ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. After his death ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said that He had forgiven him.

Adib Taherzadeh,
The Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 165

Mirza Aqa Jan

Among all the companions of Bahá’u'lláh, Mirza Aqa Jan was the only one who had been in close association with Him and was privileged to be His amanuensis. Yet in spite of this great honour bestowed upon him, his pride and ambition prevented him from standing firm in the Covenant, and he opposed ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and created much confusion in the minds of Bahá’ís.

Dr. Yunis Khan-i-Afrukhtih, a devoted believer during the ministry of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, who served the Master as secretary for several years, has left a most interesting account* of the events which took place during his nine years of service in ‘Akká. The following is a translation of an extract from his memoirs concerning Mirza Aqa Jan’s later years in ‘Akká, around 1897:

…At the time of the passing of Bahá’u'lláh, Mirza Aqa Jan, who had fallen from grace, was living an ignominious life. However, as a result of Bahá’u'lláh’s generosity, he had a reasonable income. The Covenant-breakers had secretly resolved to take his life. Probably the reason for this was either to seize his properties or because Bahá’u'lláh had not been pleased with his conduct towards the end of His life. Mirza Aqa Jan discovered their plot and went immediately to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, begged forgiveness for his misdeeds and took refuge in His house…

Later, the Covenant-breakers decided to take advantage of Mirza Aqa Jan’s situation to create trouble and mischief [for 'Abdu'l-Bahá]… They succeeded in establishing a secret link with him and urged him to help them in stirring up sedition among believers. They maintained communication with him and, over a long period, devised a plan to create discord and disturbance within the community. Since Mirza Aqa Jan had been Bahá’u'lláh’s amanuensis and had recorded the words of God as they were revealed, he was induced to arise and himself lay claim to divine revelation.

As a result of their promptings, Mirza Aqa Jan, this ill-fated man, worked for a long time to prepare some writings. In these he claimed that in a dream he had attained the presence of Bahá’u'lláh and had become the recipient of divine revelation and inspiration. These writings contained passages which invoked the wrath of God upon certain believers and were intended to be delivered to them.

Mirza Aqa Jan even claimed that he had received a Tablet from heaven written in green ink, in which he was commanded to save the Faith from the hands of infidels. The false accusations and calumnies with which he charged ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the Centre of the Covenant, were much worse than those which Covenant-breakers had already brought against Him. It was arranged that on a certain day, which should be the time of revolt, Mirza Aqa Jan would hand all these papers written in the same style as his ‘Revelation writings’ to the Covenant-breakers who would then have them transcribed, as in the days of Bahá’u'lláh, in the handwriting of Mirza Majdi’d-Din and disseminated among the Bahá’ís.

Dr. Yunis Khan, in his memoirs, goes on to explain that the Covenant-breakers had decided to put their plans into operation on the day of the anniversary of the ascension of Bahá’u'lláh. They knew that all the believers would then be assembled outside the Shrine of Bahá’u'lláh, and so they planned with Mirza Aqa Jan that he should speak openly against ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in that gathering, in order to create tension and unrest. At the same time the Covenant-breakers made arrangements for a certain Yahya Tabur Aqasi to be present on that day. He was a high-ranking government official hostile to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá but friendly towards them. His function was to remain out of sight until the expected disturbances had broken out, when he and his men would appear on the scene and take action against the believers. He would then send a report against ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to government authorities in Constantinople and request His banishment from the Holy Land.

…Dr. Yunis Khan describes how on the night of the anniversary of the passing of Bahá’u'lláh, as in previous years, all the believers in the area gathered together in ‘Akká and, before dawn, set out for the Shrine of Bahá’u'lláh accompanied by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. In that holy place they prayed until sunrise, and then retired to the pilgrims’ quarters at Bahji.

Here is Dr. Yunis Khan’s account of what transpired that day:

…After lunch we were seated for a short while… We noticed that the Covenant-breakers were moving actively around us and that there were also a number of strangers. It was not very long before we learned of their plans to create mischief.

Having had afternoon tea, everyone was on the point of going to the Shrine of Bahá’u'lláh, when we heard that Mirza Aqa Jan wished to speak and that there were chairs placed for us in front of the Mansion.

This old man who was always prostrating himself at the feet of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was now standing on a stool so that he might be seen by all… As he spoke I noticed that he was far from coherent and I waited to catch the import of his words, but eventually became frustrated… I could see that he was filled with fear and was trembling, but I could hear only a few words now and then, such as: ‘As I prostrated myself, I fell asleep…’ ‘The Blessed Beauty told me…’ ‘This letter in green ink was handed to me…’ ‘Why are you sitting idle?’ ‘Why, why?’ Having abstained from sleep the night before, and having now to listen to such ridiculous talk, I became impatient and left. Mirza Mahmud-i-Kashani, a resident believer, protested to Mirza Aqa Jan and soon there was an uproar.

Dr. Yunis Khan adds that just then one of the believers informed ‘Abdu’l-Bahá of the incident. As soon as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá appeared, Mirza Aqa Jan ran towards the Shrine of Bahá’u'lláh and went inside. A certain Mirza Ali-Akbar, a steadfast believer, immediately ran after him and was able to obtain from Mirza Aqa Jan the writings which were tied in bundles around his waist and hidden inside his cloak. These papers, which were handed to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, were written in the same style as Bahá’u'lláh’s writings, contained many passages attacking ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and were prepared for distribution among the believers.

As a result of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s presence the Bahá’ís were calmed within a few minutes. Mirza Aqa Jan went to the Covenant-breakers, and the government officials who were standing behind the window of Mirza Muhammad-’Ali’s room found no opportunity to carry out their sinister designs. After this event Mirza Aqa Jan threw in his lot with the Covenant-breakers and became one of their ablest supporters. He died in 1901.
Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh v 1, p. 319
* The complete memoirs of Dr. Yunis Khan are available as “Memories of Nine Years in Akka

Ibrahim Khayru’llah

“Among the party from the West which came to visit the Master [in 1898] was a man by the name of Ibrahim Khayru’llah. He was a Lebanese Christian who had embraced the Cause in Egypt during Bahá’u'lláh’s lifetime and had moved to the United States in 1892. Two years later he succeeded in converting Thornton Chase, the first western Christian to embrace the Faith of Bahá’u'lláh, and the Master referred to Khayru’llah as ‘Baha’s Peter’. For a few years Khayru’llah taught the Faith to several souls in various parts of the United States. He was the only teacher to whom the believers turned for enlightenment in that vast country.

“During the time that Khayru’llah was turning to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and was loyal to Him, he had succeeded in converting several people to the Faith. In one of his letters to the Master he expresses profound loyalty to Him and gives the news of the conversion of several souls in America…

“But here is an example of how pride and ambition can extinguish the fire of faith which burns in the heart of a believer. There is nothing more vital for a follower of Bahá’u'lláh who becomes successful in teaching the Cause than genuine humility, utter self-effacement and complete servitude toward the loved ones of God. But alas, Khayru’llah was vain and egotistical. As the years went by and he saw the fruit of his teaching work multiply, he became proud and entertained the thought of dividing the Bahá’í world into two parts, he becoming the leader of the Bahá’ís of the West, and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá that of the East!

“While nurturing these selfish ambitions in his heart, he arrived in ‘Akká and met the Master for the first time. He felt His majesty and authority as well as His love and compassion. For a short while He showed his subordination to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá who one day took him to Mount Carmel and there laid the foundation stone of the mausoleum of the Báb on the site purchased by Him and chosen by Bahá’u'lláh Himself.

“In the meantime, Mirza Muhammad-’Ali had discovered signs of ambition and egotism in Khayru’llah which he exploited to the full. Soon a clandestine relationship was established between the two and Khayru’llah became a tool in the hand of Mirza Muhammad-’Ali. He joined the infamous band of Covenant-breakers, rose up in opposition against ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, disseminated his misgivings among the friends, and published far and wide some of his own ideologies. His defection brought great tests for the believers in the West, but the vast majority of the American Bahá’ís remained faithful to the Cause.”
Adib Taherzadeh, The Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 246