Abdu’l-Baha and Instant Karma: People Who Live in Glass Houses Shouldn't Throw Stones

In this article, we will examine a severe case of Instant Karma suffered by Abdu’l-Baha. The incident occurs when Abdu’l-Baha is bashing his father’s half-brother, Mirza Yahya Subh-i Azal, for making a minor mistake when citing verse 21:52 of the Quran. This is the verse:

Original Arabic:ما هذِهِ التَّماثيلُ الَّتي‏ أَنْتُمْ لَها عاكِفُونَ
Translation: “what are these statues/images that you are worshipping”
Transliteration: "mā hādhihī l-tamāthīl al-latī antum lahā kifūn"

Now the story: Abdu’l-Baha utters the following statement when criticizing Mirza Yahya:

«از جمله از شخص مجهول (منظور میرزا یحی صبح ازل است) نوشته‌ای به خطّ دست او داشتند، آیه مبارکه قرآن «ما هذه التّماثیل الّتی انتم علیها عاکفون» را عافکون نوشته بود و الآن در نزد میرزا یحیی قزوینی موجود است. ملاحظه فرمائید که مقتدای این قوم عاکف را از عافک فرق نمی‌دهد و چگونه آیه صریحه کتاب اللّه را به خطّ خویش تحریف می‌نماید.» (عبدالبهاء، منتخباتی از مکاتیب حضرت عبدالبهاء، شماره 430)
“He had written the blessed verse of the Quran ‘what are these statues/images that you are worshipping’ (mā hādhihī l-tamāthīl al-latī antum `alayhākifūn) [and had written the last word] as fikūn and the [text] is in the possesion of Mīrzā Yaḥyā Qazwīnī. Pay attention that the leader of this group cannot make a distinction between kif and fik and he distorts the evident verse of the Book of God in his own handwriting!”
(Abdu’l-Baha, Muntakhabātī az makātīb Ḥaḍrat `Abdu’l-Bahā [Selections from the Letters of Abdu’l-Baha], vol. 6, no. 430) The original Farsi text can be found here: http://reference.bahai.org/download/swa6-fa-pdf.zip

Now, the moment of instant Karma. Pay attention to how Abdu’l-Baha writes the verse (shown in red) and compare with the original:

mā hādhihī l-tamāthīl al-latī antum lahā `ākifūn (original)
mā hādhihī l-tamāthīl al-latī antum `alayhā `ākifūn (Abdu’l-Baha version)

Abdu’l-Baha distorts the same verse that he was bashing Mirza Yahya for distorting! He uses the word `alayhā  (over) instead of the word la (for). Would Baha’is feel good if we use Abdu’l-Bahas own words to describe him for distorting this verse of the Quran:

“Pay attention that the leader of this group cannot make a distinction between `ākif lahā and `āfik `alayhā and he distorts the evident verse of the Book of God in his own handwriting!”

To make matters worse, both Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha have made numerous mistakes and distortions when citing verses of the Quran. Baha’u’llah’s original version of the book of Iqan contained many such distortions that were fixed in later versions of the book (Yes in Baha’ism Gods words are edited and updated everytime someone finds an error in them) and many of Abdu’l-Baha’s tablets contain such distortions. There are even instances where completely new statements are created and then put forward by Abdu’l-Baha as being verses from the Quran. A large number of these distortions have been documented in the book: Twelve Principles: A Comprehensive Investigation on the Baha’i Teachings, Chapter 4, Section: 6-The Bāb, Bahā’u’llāh, and `Abdu’l-Bahā’s Religious Knowledge, subsections: b- Bahā’u’llāh’s Religious Knowledge and c- `Abdu’l-Bahā’s Religious Knowledge (download from here).

No the story doesn’t end here. Abdu’l-Baha continues the aforementioned quote like this:

«رغماً عن انفه از قلمش این خطّ صادر تا واضح شود که رئیس اهل تحریف است و زعیم اهل جحیم. بعضی از تابعین آن مجهول با وجود آنکه به رأی العین این را مشاهده  نمودند باز بیدار نشدند تا ثابت کردند که همج رعاع اتباع کلّ ناعق یمیلون بکلّ ریح هستند»
“This writing has been unwillingly inscribed by his pen so that it becomes evident that he is the chief of the distorters and the leader of those who are in Hell. Some of the followers of that unknown person [1]—even though they saw this [distortion] with there own eyes—didn’t wake up and proved that they were lowly flies that followed any caller and bended with any breeze.”

How would Baha’is react if we use the exact same reasoning and words to refer to Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha who have distorted numerous verses of the Quran, and the Baha’is who don’t wake up and follow them?

Oh and these not-so-loving, kind, and polite statements were uttered by the same Abdu’l-Baha who would continuously preach:

So far as ye are able, ignite a candle of love in every meeting, and with tenderness rejoice and cheer ye every heart. Care for the stranger as for one of your own; show to alien souls the same loving kindness ye bestow upon your faithful friends. Should any come to blows with you, seek to be friends with him; should any stab you to the heart, be ye a healing salve unto his sores; should any taunt and mock at you, meet him with love. Should any heap his blame upon you, praise ye him; should he offer you a deadly poison, give him the choicest honey in exchange; and should he threaten your life, grant him a remedy that will heal him evermore. Should he be pain itself, be ye his medicine; should he be thorns, be ye his roses and sweet herbs. Perchance such ways and words from you will make this darksome world turn bright at last; will make this dusty earth turn heavenly, this devilish prison place become a royal palace of the Lord—so that war and strife will pass and be no more, and love and trust will pitch their tents on the summits of the world. Such is the essence of God’s admonitions; such in sum are the teachings for the Dispensation of Bahá.” (Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p.34)

“There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.”
             ― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Collected Works

[1] ‘unknown person’ is a reference to Mirza Yahya. The Arabic word used is majhūl which literally means unknown and was probably used by Abdu’l-Baha to degrade him, or it could be that Abdu’l-Baha had intended to say jāhil which means ignorant.

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