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An Analysis of Abdul-Baha's 1912 Authentic Covenant

Abdul-Baha's 1912 Authentic Covenant


Abdul-Baha’s Interpretation of Baha’u’llah’s Teachings is a broad, open, loving Covenant of God with humanity, and it is articulated in simple language, in his 1912 Address Upon the Covenant. It is universal, moderate, predicated on pluralistic spiritual democracy, based on a separation of church and state, not tyranny, and emphasizes the universality, the non-creedal and non-exclusivism of religious truth.

Abdul-Baha delivered his Address Upon the Covenant, on June 19, 1912. It was clearly perceived to be important enough at the time to be almost immediately, and repeatedly, published, unlike the majority of Abdul-Baha’s addresses that year, yet it was quietly suppressed, just after Abdul-Baha’s passing in 1921, when the editing of the 1922 text of The Promulation of Universal Peace took place and in subsequent editions. Evidently, it contradicted too much the new theocratic interpretation. In it Abdul-Baha briefly highlights the various covenants of God with humanity, with each Manifestation alluding to His successor. Abdul-Baha makes no mention of a guardian or His “appointing” anyone, least of all Shoghi Effendi.

It was “approved” and published as a pamphlet on November 12, 1912 for the celebration of the Birth of Baha’u’llah, and thereafter at least three times in the Star of the West, one of which was a special issue devoted to this Covenant, Abdul-Baha’s authentic Covenant. From the pen of Abdul-Baha, no other document ever existed, among Bahais, that was given such prominence prior to his death in 1921.

Paradoxically, contrasted with his other statements that the Bahai Movement could not be “organized,” Abdul-Baha clearly indicates some type of organization leading to a Universal House of Justice, but nowhere did he ever suggest Bahai assemblies should become the oppressive and tyrannical “administration” known today for destroying marriages and families through excommunication and shunning and intruding into virtually every aspect of the life and conscience of the individual.

It was such statements and publications as this Address that led Mirza Ahmad Sohrab to remark on

the fact that Abdul Baha had never in speech or writing given the slightest indication that there would be a successor to himself. On the contrary, a number of addresses delivered by him on various occasions had made the opposite impression. Consequently , it took several years before a section of the Bahais could adjust themselves to the new situation (The Will and Testament of Abdul Baha, An Analysis, 1944, 61).

Ruth White was one of the early believers who was not about to forget such statements by Abdul-Baha and courageously fought to preserve the actual, authentic Covenant, as taught by Abdul-Baha, versus the fraudulent will and testament passed off on the community by the family of Shoghi Effendi. Neither could some thousands of other early believers “adjust,” and many left or were driven out during the next few decades (Abdul Baha’s Questioned Will and Testament, 1946, 11).

Abdul-Baha’s conception of the Covenant is not at all like the fanatical, oppressive one imposed by Shoghi Effendi and propped up by “administrators” who believed they knew better than Abdul-Baha, such as Horace Holley and Charles Mason Remey, both of whom were quick not only to “adjust,” but zealously supported and promoted the “appointee” of the spurious will and testament, who delegated authority in return back to them. Abdul-Baha clearly never conceived of any successor other than eventually an elected, democratic Universal House of Justice, one definitely without an hereditary guardian analogous to a Shiite imam or a Sunni caliph. Abdul-Baha knew all too well what social oppression and upheavals those systems of organization had led to, which is one reason he always emphasized spiritual democracy, not tyranny.

One of the typical tactics used to suppress and discredit such public, printed statements by Abdul-Baha was and is to claim that the original Persian transcript has not survived, it’s only a “pilgrim’s note,” hearsay, and so on. Similarly, tactics of slander and shunning, Iranian Shiite “takfir,” were unleashed relentlessly against Ruth White, Mirza Ahmad Sohrab, Julie Chanler, and anyone able to think and reflect independently for themselves about Abdul-Baha’s authentic Covenant, which, again, contains not the slightest suggestion of a so-called guardian:

After Abdul-Baha—whenever the Universal House of Justice is organized it will ward off differences.

Had the purported will and testament been written, as alleged, by Abdul-Baha in three sections between 1901 and 1908, when Shoghi Effendi was a young child, yet to prove himself worthy, despite subsequent attempts to cast him as a prodigy, Abdul-Baha would have known the contents of his own will and testament in 1912, as he delivered this Address. However, the three different hands that Dr. C. Answorth Mitchell of the British Museum attested actually wrote the fraudulent document, not a one of which was Abdul-Baha’s, had not and never did name Shoghi Effendi. One should also recall Abdul-Baha’s remarks on His own brother’s unworthiness to lead the Baha’i community. It is not credible that Abdul-Baha would have taken such a chance on an approximately four-year-old boy, even a family member.

Whether from a rational or spiritual view, given the overwhelming weight of evidence against the authenticity of the purported will and testament, the burden of proof resides with those Bahai denominations that claim its legitimacy, as Ruth White and other Bahais have stated for decades since at least 1929. It is evident in Ruth White’s documents deposited with the Library of Congress that Shoghi Effendi and/or others persuaded or bribed, with “baksheesh,” the Palestine officials to put the matter aside, common practice especially in the Middle East of the time. Revealing his calculating guilt, Shoghi Effendi instructed the NSA to do nothing to antagonize Ruth White and to avoid the issue, as she relates in her books and documents in the papers she deposited with the Library of Congress. Ruth White perceptively made a crucial observation a long time ago: The chief beneficiary of a fraudulent, unprobated, and unverified will and testament, Shoghi Effendi, TRANSLATES it, if not after writing it or participating in its creation, and then claims it’s “authentic,” accusing, discrediting, and castigating anyone who asks for proof of its authenticity as someone “seeking power.” Who was really seeking power should be evident to any thinking person.

It’s important to realize that unlike the customary legal procedure for authenticating a will, observed in most countries of the world, the one in question was never proven to be a legitimate instrument. It was merely asserted as such. Shoghi Effendi and others claimed they saw it, read it, and swore it was Abdul-Baha’s handwriting. These people were largely Persian Baha’is who all stood to benefit from the fraudulent document. Often the excuse is made that to authentic it now would imply the charges against it are true, so therefore the Haifan Baha’i administration will not allow examination of it except by “true believers,” which only serves to perpetuate the crime and deception.

Though perhaps as many as a few thousand Bahais left the faith over the claims of Shoghi Effendi, the majority of the early Bahai community accepted the will and testament on blind belief, as have subsequent generations, who have also been, to no small degree, brainwashed into unquestioning acceptance of its validity. The Bahai “Donation of Constantine” continues to harm the unsuspecting, those who have ceased to search for truth.

If the Haifan Baha’is were ever to allow examination of what they allege to be Abdul-Baha’s will and testament, which is highly unlikely, it would certainly be under a controlled and manipulated setting, with individuals or bodies of “experts” selected, in one way or another, to produce the desired verdict. More likely would be a theft, a fire, an explosion, or some other local or national event or upheaval, which would provide the opportunity to sweep the incriminating document, so “tragically,” from the annals of history, depriving the believers of Abdul-Baha’s “authentic” original, leaving conveniently the body of loyal followers with only Shoghi Effendi’s deceptive translation.

On all counts, the will and testament is a fraudulent document, and Shoghi Effendi knew it would never stand up to further scrutiny, as it didn’t with Dr. C. Ainsworth Mitchell, an unimpeachable authority still highly regarded in professional forensic circles.

Considering what actual use and purpose Shoghi Effendi’s will and testament has been put over the decades, it no longer truly matters whether it was written by Abdul-Baha or not, so thoroughly discredited has it become as a conception and interpretation of Baha’u’llah’s Teachings, transmogrifying them into an appallingly tyrannical system of oppression and coercion.

Reading backwards from a fraudulent document is one of the tactics regularly used by its beneficiaries, namely, Shoghi Effendi, his family, and now the denominations that depend on it. It is difficult for Baha’is committed to, and raised in, the theocratic vision to recognize the truth—but it’s right there in black and white in Abdul-Baha’s 1912 Address Upon the Covenant and won’t go away, decade after decade.

Unfortunately, the family of Shoghi Effendi, when they forged the will and testament of Abdul-Baha, followed their cultural biases from Iran, instead of the Teachings of Baha’u’llah and the Interpretation of Abdul-Baha. Essentially, they reverted to the Shiite imamate, creating the mirror image of Iranian obedience to the authority of the imam, the imam of the age, which they called a “guardian,” believing, in effect, that he’s infallible and must be obeyed in all things. Attempts to create a Bahai imamate are contrary to Abdul-Baha’s teaching of a properly elected and spiritually democratic Universal House of Justice, an institution of Bahai spiritual authority, not worldly.

This Address by Abdul-Baha is the evidence that Reform Bahais today can not forget, now come again to light, preserving Abdul-Baha’s vision of a universal, moderate, spiritual democracy, and the separation of church and state.

It is only by reading all of, or extensive extracts from, the Star of the West, the early newsletter journal of the Bahai Movement, published from 1910 in Chicago, but effectively the news vehicle for Bahais throughout the West, the United States, Canada, and the British Isles, most of the Bahai world of the time, that one can discern that Abdul-Baha’s actual conception and Interpretation of Baha’u’llah’s Teachings is significantly differently from the distortions of Shoghi Effendi. Though often repudiated and discredited by Haifan Bahais, for obvious reasons if one reflects, the Star of the West provides the pristine, universal vision of Abdul-Baha and Baha’u’llah. Abdul-Baha closely followed, shaped, and guided the editing and publishing of the ideas and views expressed in the Star of the West, and, it preserves not only what the Bahai Movement was in his Interpretation, but also what he believed it should become.

Abdul-Baha’s Address Upon the Covenant was first published in Star of the West, November 23, 1912, pages 9-10; again, a mere year later in Star of the West, November 23, 1913, pages 234-9; and just before his death, emphasizing the importance of the 1912 Covenant exactly when Bahais needed to recall Abdul-Baha’s guidance the most, in Star of the West November 23, 1921. The reader may corroborate independently this publishing history of the Address Upon the Covenant since the entire 1912 to 1913 and 1920 to 1921 volumes of Star of the West can be download directly from Google Books.

As far back as 1929 early Bahais were publicly emphasizing the importance of the Address Upon the Covenant. See Ruth White, Appendix to Abdul-Baha and the Promised Age, 1929, and her comments on this passage, bottom of the first page. Also see, Star of the West, Vol. VII, No. 15. p. 139: “When the Universal House of Justice is organized....” There might be further valuable documentation in Mahmoud’s Diary and Afroukhteh’s Memoires.

For a sample of the universality that Abdul-Baha’s Covenant inspired, see Janabe Fazel Mazandarani, Star of the West, May 17, 1921, “The Temple of Universal Religion—The Fundamental Oneness of All Existing Faiths.” (See other talks on universal religion by Janabe Fazel) For a sample of the method used to subvert the universality of Abdul-Baha’s Covenant, see Charles Mason Remey, Star of the West, Aug 20, 1921, “Bahai Organization.”

Comparing these two articles, it is easy to understand that, along with the 1912 Covenant, the universality of Abdul-Baha’s Teaching was already being put aside, before Abdul-Baha had even died, by Charles Mason Remey, Horace Holley, and others intent on creating an organization that concentrated power and control in their and Shoghi Effendi’s hands. Directly repudiating Abdul-Baha’s repeated statement that the Bahai Movement could not be organized, rejecting his Covenant, expunging the universality he publicly taught his entire life and throughout the West, witnessed by all the early Bahais, attested to by Ruth White and Ahmad Sohrab in their books, both of whom knew him personally, especially Sohrab, Charles Mason Remey assured Bahais in 1921 that they were “a little confused” and that he and others, implicitly Horace Holley and Shoghi Effendi, as would soon become apparent, knew better what Abdul-Baha intended. That their claims were based on a fraudulent will and testament, written by three different hands, not a one of which was Abdul-Baha’s, nor bearing his signature, as he repeatedly emphasized was essential to safeguard his Interpretation of Baha’u’llah’s Teaching, meant nothing to those who soon succeeded in undermining the universal faith of God, subjecting it to decades of corruption and ineffectuality, disrupting or destroying the lives of countless Bahais over the years, depriving humankind of Baha’u’llah’s saving vision of spiritual oneness and universal peace.

Before the decade was out, the subverters of Abdul-Baha’s Interpretation of Baha’u’llah’s Faith would be fighting amongst themselves, deceiving the authorities at the time in Palestine and the U. S. Copyright Office in 1928, slandering and eventually suing Bahais of other denominations who dared to realize and speak out against the crimes committed against the Bahai Cause (details under Early Reform Bahais on the Reform Bahai website). For the lawsuits of the 1960s and the one beginning in 2006 in the US District Court of Northern Illinois, consult the Internet by Googling “Orthodox Baha’is lawsuit rift.”

Compare the repeatedly published and emphasized 1912 Covenant and the cited article above regarding universality with these three crucial statements by Abdul-Baha published prior to his death in the Star of the West November 23, 1920, page 243:

“In New York City, July, 1912, Abdul-Baha said to several believers: ‘Any one quoting me must have authority written either with my own hand, or Tablets signed with my seal. Otherwise these statements do not belong to me. Every instruction, every teaching that I desire to spread I will write with my own hand. You must know this generally. Never accept any statement without my writing which is signed and sealed—any statement.”

“In Egypt, in August, 1913, Abdul-Baha stated (Mirza Ahmad Sohrab interpreting): ‘When in America I repeatedly said that no one must believe one word said by another regarding any commands, teachings or statements made by me unless they can produce the same in writing over my signature.”

“That which has come forth from the Center of the Covenant you must take fast hold of. That which issues from my lips and that which is written with my pen is the Reality. With this you can irrigate the vineyard of God. With this you can make the tree of the Cause of God become verdant. Through this Name the Kingdom of God will be spread all over the world. Through this the Sun of Reality will shine. Through this the clouds of Mercy will pour down. Whosoever utters a word you must ask: ‘Where is the authority of the Center of the Covenant? Show it.’ Without this you must not listen to him. If an angel comes down from heaven and has no authority from the Center of the Covenant, you must require his authority. Otherwise the vineyard will become withered and dry. This is the reality.”

Download Facsimile of Abdul-Baha's 1912 Covenant in PDF
2 megs. (or print)

Compare: Dr. C. (Charles) Ainsworth Mitchell - Certified Copy from the Library of Congress, corroborating that the purported will and testament of Abdul-Baha was a fraudulent document, not in his own handwriting, but that of three different people: Report on the Writing Shown on the Photographs of the Alleged Will of Abdul-Baha. 1930.

Compare: Hermann Zimmer, A FRAUDULENT TESTAMENT Devalues the Bahai Religion Into Political Shoghism. World Union for Universal Religion and Universal Peace, Free Bahais, 1973

Abdul-Baha, Tablet of a Thousand Verses:

"In the religion of God, there is no practice of declaring believers to be morally corrupt (tasfiq) or of declaring them not believers (takfir), nor is debasing or showing contempt for others permitted." Majmu`ih-'i Makatib, INBA Private Printing Volume 59 (Tehran: National Baha'i Archives, 1978; digitally reprinted, East Lansing, Mi.: H-Bahai, 2000), pp. 340. Tr. Juan Cole.