`Abdu'l-Baha Lauds the Establishment of the First Iranian Parliament, 1906
Juan R.I. Cole
Department of History
University of Michigan
O spiritual friends and true companions of `Abduíl-Baha. The calamity of a plague epidemic has shaken the sacred regions of Iran and thrown them into turmoil, and has caused a furor and perturbation. Therefore the hearts and souls of the oppressed have fallen captive to care and sorrow. Day and night they are helpless and needy before the threshold of the lord, saying,:
"O you who are informed of the mystery: even though we are sinners and afflicted, nevertheless the divine bestowal, mercy and forgiveness does not depend on the worthiness or capacity of human beings. Remove this unexpected calamity from the country of Iran so that your servants might find peace of mind and tranquillity of conscience."
Praise be to God for his pure grace and beneficence, insofar as this merciless catastrophe was ended in a short period, whereas in the rest of the world it endured for a long time. A few years ago, it struck all around this illumined spot save for the city of `Akka itself, lasting for two years in the Hijaz and Egypt, then in Damascus, Beirut, Hama, Homs, Tripoli, Jaffa and Jerusalem. Then it reached Iraq, and from Iraq spread to Iran.
The speed with which this calamity was lifted from the kingdom of Iran derives from the good fortune produced by the blessed intentions of the most great center of kingship [Muzaffaruíd-Din Shah]. For in past times the disease of plague struck that country and lasted for seven years. Now, it has disappeared so rapidly. This is solely a result of the holy intentions of his highness the shah and the justice of his excellency the prime minister [`Aynuíd-Dawlih]. In reality, his majesty the king cares for his subjects and is kindly. And the respected prime minister is just, experienced, determined, and expert. This servant had kept silent from the beginning of the prime ministerís term until now, so that I might speak only after scrutiny and investigation. In truth, I ask God to confirm his majesty the shah with a pure nature and good thoughts so that he may give attention to the repose and tranquillity of the generality of his subjects, and to bestow great success upon his excellency the prime minister.
According to the decision that has been announced, the shah and the prime minister have decreed that in every city a special center shall be appointed for the purpose of judging court cases, deciding lawsuits, and realizing the rights of the servants, and lawsuits will be confined to that center. This matter is extremely beneficial, and will produce public calm and serenity both near and far. If it is carried out, the cornerstone of the Most Great Civilization in all regions shall be laid. The pavilion and tabernacle shall be raised in Iran. This is the beginning of the reform of the kingdom. God willing, they will prove successful in implementing it, and that the ignorant shall withdraw the hand of shamelessness and instead obey and submit to just civil laws and ordinances.
Divine friends! `Abduíl-Baha is pleased with all of you, and gazes at how you cling to the threshold of divine unity and your complete love for the All-Merciful. Today all the nations of the earth are sullied by the vices of the satanic realm, and are devoid of the virtues of the divine world. All are bloodthirsty and sharp of claw, are unjust and act precipitously. Look at the turmoil and tumult occurring in Manchuria. Consider, you who have eyes to see.
All these conflicts take place in the world of dust. In the end, this unclean dust, like an impudent serpent, will swallow up every single human being, and will not spare a single soul. Despite its iniquity and injustice, this black earth is beloved of all, the seductive sweetheart of the horizons. How thoughtless, how ignorant, that for the sake of this useless dust, the affliction of the body and the soul, such sacrifices should be madeóthat blood should be shed, cities razed, and life and property despoiled. How many a loving father sighs and wails for his son, and how many a mother mourns her offspring by weeping tears of blood. How many innocent children have become grief-stricken orphans, and how many women have seen their respected husbands lying in earth and blood. This is the result of the "civilization" of the peoples and nations. Consider, you who have eyes to see.
In the midst of this concourse of the worldís factions, the party of God has the desire to serve the world of humanity. God willing, they will efface these calamities by the power of the proof, the divine confirmations, and boundless determination. Quickly, the intent of this oppressed people is good. Determination is decisive; what then can divine confirmations accomplish? God gives success to whomever he desires in whatever he desires. In truth, he is powerful over all things.
Source: `Abduíl-Baha, Majmu`ih-'i Mubarakih. Ed. `Ali Akbar Milani. Tehran, 1326/1908, pp. 88-91.
2. `Abduíl-Baha on the Establishment of the first Iranian Parliament, 1906
To: Jinab-i Aqa Mirza Ahmad, Washington.
You, who are firm in the covenant: You wrote a glorious letter saying that the time has arrived, of the most great glad-tidings that a national parliament [shura-yi milli] has been established in Iran and that arrangements are being made for a constitutional government that is in accord with the divine Law, in conformity with the explicit command of the Most Holy Book. I read what you wrote about the joy and delight of the American intellectuals and scholars at this life-giving good news, as well as the rejoicing at the Ottoman embassy. This became a cause for great happiness. The constitutional government is, according to the unequivocal divine Text, sanctioned by the revealed Law, and it is a cause of the might and prosperity of the State, to which allegiance is owed, and of the progress and liberty of the respected citizenry.
But, of a certainty, the hand of the selfish clerical leaders is at work. Outwardly, they desire a national parliament and raise a hue and cry. But secretly, they are endeavoring to spread turmoil, to instigate, and to oppose the good intentions of the State. Most secretly of all, they have no desire whatsoever to see the establishment of a national parliament. Their purpose is not in the least that Iran should become civilized, that the nation should gain insight, that modern progress be achieved, that sufficient information become available or that knowledge become the property of the masses. For thieves seek darkness, hunters desire to foul everyoneís water, and bats hate the light of the sun. The dung beetle does not smell of fragrant gardens. The ravenous wolf craves snow and food, and the wine-seller desires uncomprehending drunks. Likewise, these leaders of religion wish to cast the nation into the whirlpool of ignorance, so that the reins will fall into the hands of the evil clerics. In the same way, they believe that learning, rectitude, progress, and the nationís devotion to the truth would lead to their own debasement.
Yes, you must be assured of the grace and munificence of his majesty [Muzaffaruíd-Din Shah], for the throne of Iran is the recipient of divine confirmation, and the royal crown of the East has been guaranteed success. Without doubt, the pure intentions of his majesty in ensuring the progress of the nation will have a great influence. May God aid him, and may assistance arrive from the kingdom on high. May the powers of heaven render him victorious and may he attain the grace and generosity of the All-Merciful. You must pray that the nation will, with the utmost approbation, obey the government, and will invest with authority the considered views of the public servants at the center of authority. May it not listen to the whispering of the wreakers of corruption. And may it not engage in opposition to or conflict with the State, unlike the Russian Duma. I pray that the kingdom and the nation shall not become captive to such a catastrophe. Much prayer is necessary so that God will safeguard all. Upon you be the glory of the All-Glorious.
(circa late summer, 1906)
Source: `Abduíl-Baha, Majmu`ih-'i Mubarakih. Ed. `Ali Akbar Milani. Tehran, 1326/1908, pp. 222-223.