Baha'i Peter: George Ibrahim Kheiralla

By former Baha'i Darrick T. Evenson

Kheiralla and his American followers.
The man that 'Abdu'l-Baha once called "Baha's Peter" was from Beirut, Lebanon, named George Ibrahim Kheiralla, the son of wealthy Maronite Christians in Beirut. Very rich family. They sent him to the Presbyterian College of Syria (American University of Beirut), where he learned good English. He went to Egypt after college, and there met a Baha'i. The Baha'i thought that the Baha'i faith taught reincarnation, so, he taught that to George. George should have went to Akka to meet the Baha'is, and find out what they really taught, but he didn't. George was an inventor of gadgets, like a spring-loaded "boots" that made it easier for soldiers to march longer. None of his inventions had any practical value at the time. Armies forced soldiers to march as long as they wanted them to march, or whip them or shoot them. So, no armies were interested.

George sailed to America to make his fortune. He was supported by something like a trust fund. By 1890 he found his way to Chicago, and fell in with a cult called "The Universal Temple". It was based on reincarnation, mystical healing, and offered people an "M.D." in "Doctor of Mysticism". George attended, got his 'M.D.' in Mystical Doctor (i.e. healing by a form of mind-over-matter Reiki), and started giving lectures at U.T. meetings. They met at a Masonic Temple (which rented out lecture halls to anyone willing to pay the fee). George did not have one Baha'i book. The Egyptian who taught him the Faith, probably never read any Baha'i book or Tablet. All George had was stories, some true, some not, some distorted, names, approximate dates, and some teachings (often distorted). There is also evidence the George was involved in at least on Rosicrucian Order, and Freemasonry.

George developed an esoteric religion, based upon reincarnation, secret doctrines, degrees, that he called "The Beha'i Religion". He started to invite members of the Temple of Universal Law (also called U.T.), and they got hooked. George was a magnificent orator, and left people wanting more. Secret names. He told them that the Father and Jesus had returned, first to Persia, but they were now in Palestine (oh my!) and ALIVE! Although Baha'u'llah died in 1892, George did not know that then. George wrote a long letter to Baha'u'llah c/o Acco, Palestine, Governorate of Syria, and, eventually, somehow, it eventually got to 'Abdu'l-Baha, who, of course, living in Arabic countries since he was 11, could read and write and speak Arabic just fine. 'Abdu'l-Baha, of course, had no idea that George was teaching "Behaism" which was a major distortion of the Baha'i Faith, but George did not know that. All 'Abdu'l-Baha knew was that some Lebanese man in America was making converts to the Baha'i Faith hand over fist, and that the converts wanted to know to what bank they could wire money (donations). To 'Abdu'l-Baha, it must have seemed like God was raining money on him.

At the time, 'Abdu'l-Baha was in terrible dispute with his young brothers, Mohammad Ali Effendi, and Badi'u'llah. The entire family of Baha'u'llah, except for a couple, sided with Mohammad Ali and Badi'u'llah. 'Abdu'l-Baha started to get money wired to a bank in Haifa. He started to get letters from Americans written in English, a language he did not know. But, lucky for him, one of the Baha'is in Haifa had lived in Cairo a number of years, and studied some English there. Also, Akka and Haifa had a few "physician missionaries to the poor" who were from America or Britain, who could read and write in Arabic as well as their own native language. At about this time, the Turkish courts ruled that 'Abdu'l-Baha had the right to inherit 100% of his father's estate (being the eldest son). So, poor Mohammad Ali Effendi and Badi'u'llah, and Diya'u'llah, had to get real jobs for the first time in their lives! No more trust fund babies! At least they could read and write Farsi and Arabic. But, oh, poor Badi'u'llah. He had a terrible time supporting his family. Horrible time. None of them had any useful skills. All their lives, black slaves had done everything for them, and the Baha'is supported them, paid for every morsel of food, but NOW, 'Abdu'l-Baha took away their "shares" of the Baha'i Pie. Oh my! Badi'u'llah was literally facing eviction and starvation for himself and his family. 'Abdu''l-Baha offered him financial help "if" he sided with him, and against Mohammad Ali. So, he did, got the help, then finally found a job, and switched allegiances again. Diya'u'llah got so malnurished that he caught a disease and died. His widow had to beg Mohammad Ali for help. So, yes, 'Abdu'l-Baha won everything in the Turkish courts, and also, George Kheiralla was converting dozens of Americans a week with his "Behaist Lectures" at a Masonic Temple in Chicago, and those people were making additional converts, and they were wiring 'Abdu'l-Baha money every month! Just as God had "blessed" Baha'u'llah but "cursed" Subh-i-Azal, God was "blessing" 'Abdu'l-Baha but "cursing" his younger brothers who thought they were defending the Revelations of Baha'u'llah.

(continued in Part II)

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