Spread Peace

Monday, November 16, 2015

Mizra Muhammad-Ali, the Arch-Breaker of the Covenant

[The] arch-breaker of the Covenant of Bahá’u'lláh is Mirza Muhammad-’Ali, the eldest son of Bahá’u'lláh’s second wife Mahd-i-’Ulya. He was born in Baghdad in the first year of Bahá’u'lláh’s arrival there. From the early days of his youth, he found that he could not rise to the level of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, who was nine years his senior. He lacked those spiritual qualities which distinguished his eldest brother, who became known as the Master from the early days in Baghdad.

The most essential prerequisites for the spiritual survival of all those who were close to Bahá’u'lláh were humility, self-effacement and utter nothingness in His presence. If these qualities were missing in an individual, he would be in great danger of spiritual downfall and eventual extinction.

While ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the Greatest Holy Leaf, the Purest Branch, and their illustrious mother were all embodiments of servitude and selflessness, Muhammad-’Ali, his brothers and sister, together with their mother, were the opposite. Although the latter group were all sheltered beneath Bahá’u'lláh’s protection, and flourished through the outpouring of His favours, in reality they were the victims of selfish desires and worldly ambitions. During Bahá’u'lláh’s lifetime they were subdued by His authority and kept under control through His admonitions. At the same time, Mirza Muhammad-’Ali and his brothers were the recipients of a great many favours from the believers who, because of their love for Bahá’u'lláh, honoured and revered them too. Thus these three sons acquired an undeserved prestige and basked in the sunshine of their Father’s glory and majesty.

Inwardly, Mirza Muhammad-’Ali was a faithless person, and he led his two younger brothers in the same direction. But outwardly he utilized the power of the Faith and the resources of the community to bolster up his own image in the eyes of the followers of Bahá’u'lláh. He emerged as an important person in the service of his Father by transcribing some of His Tablets and by the use of calligraphy of which he was a master. From the days of his youth he entertained the ambition to occupy a position of eminence within the Faith, a position similar to that of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, who, from early on, had distinguished Himself among the entire family.

In Muhammad-’Ali’s childhood Bahá’u'lláh conferred upon him the power of utterance, and this became obvious as he grew up. But instead of utilizing this gift to promote the Cause of God, he embarked on a career which hastened his downfall. When he was in his early teens in Adrianople, he composed a series of passages in Arabic and without Bahá’u'lláh’s permission disseminated them among some of the Persian Bahá’ís, introducing them as verses of God which, he claimed, were revealed to him. He intimated to the believers that he was a partner with Bahá’u'lláh in divine Revelation. Several believers in Qazvin were influenced by him and drawn to him.

…In his writings, which are of considerable length, the teen-age Muhammad-’Ali refers to himself, among other things, as ‘the King of the spirit’, calls on the believers to ‘hear the voice of him who has been manifested to man’, admonishes those who deny his verses revealed in his childhood, declares his revelation to be ‘the greatest of God’s revelations’, asserts that ‘all have been created through a word from him’, considers himself to be ‘the greatest divine luminary before whose radiance all other suns pale into insignificance’, and proclaims himself to be ‘the sovereign ruler of all who are in heaven and on earth’.

Such preposterous claims, such a display of personal ambition, evoked the wrath of Bahá’u'lláh, who rebuked him vehemently and chastised him with His own hands.”
Adib Taherzadeh, The Covenant of Baha’u'llah, p. 125

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