March 16, 2010

Mirza Abu’l-Fadl Gulpaygani (1844-1914) -- one of 19 Apostles of Baha’u’llah, a “very excellent and erudite Bahá'í teacher”, and recognized as the most outstanding scholar of the Baha’i Faith

                    
“Pure souls, such as Mirza Abu'l-Fadl, upon him be the Glory of God, spend their nights and days in demonstrating the truth of the Revelation, by adducing conclusive and brilliant proofs and expanding the verities of the Faith, by lifting the veils, promoting the religion of God and spreading His fragrances.”
(‘Abdu’l-Baha, from a Tablet to an individual believer; the Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 409)

by Ish’te’a’l Ebn-Kalanter, 1914

Mirza Abu’l-Fadl was born in 1844 in Galpaygan, a small Persian town founded by Humay, the daughter of Darius [an ancient Persian king]. The family to which his parents belonged was one of the most distinguished of that city, and, even to the present time [1914], is well known for learning and knowledge. [His given name at birth was Muhammad, but later in life he became known as Abu'l-Fadl, which means the father of virtue. After he became a Baha’i, Abdu'l-Baha frequently addressed him as Abu'l-Fada'il, which means the father of virtues] His father, Mirza-Reza, was one of the most noted Shi'ite doctors of religion in Persia; he died in 1871, at the age of seventy.

In the prime of youth, Mirza Abu’l-Fadl traveled to Isfahan and Iraq, with the object of perfecting his studies. Even in his boyhood he was noted for intelligence, sound memory, and diligence in discovering subtle scientific points, to such an extent that these qualities seemed to the people supernatural.

Before he was twenty-two years of age, Mirza Abu’l-Fadl had perfected himself in the branches of Arabic learning, such as grammar, rhetoric, etymology and composition; although Arabic is a foreign language to Persians. In accordance with the wishes of his father, he also acquired a perfect knowledge of Mohammedan theology and laws. At the same time he studied mathematic, algebra, arithmetic, geometry, and astronomy according to the Ptolemian system. He also mastered the Aristotelian as well as the rational Mohammedan philosophy.