October 18, 2010

Jinab-i- Fadil (1880(?)-1957): Mirza Asadu’llah Fadil Mazandarani -- 'Abdu'l-Baha's “gift to America”: “the ideal sage”; “Next to his honor, Mirza Abu’l Fazl, he is the best informed of his contemporaries”; “… is perfect in all the grades in knowledge and virtue, in sincerity of intention, in beauty of character, in severance from aught else save God and attraction with the fragrances of God.”

Excerpts from some Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Baha:

His Excellency, the ideal sage, Fazel [Fadil] Mazindarani, is the essence of humility and submission. God willing, with Manucher Khan, he has reached the United States under the protection of the Almighty. This respected soul is evanescent in the Cause of the Blessed Perfection. He is wise, well informed and a thinker. There is no doubt that he will become the cause of the exhilaration, rejoicing and the guidance of others. You must exercise toward him the utmost respect and consideration, and placing your hands in each other's, become ye engaged in the promotion of the Word of God. (‘Abdu’l-Baha, excerpt from a Tablet dated circa June, 1920; Star of the West, vol. 11, December 1920, pp. 263-264)

His honor Fazel is a revered person. He has been growing for a long time in the Cause. Next to his honor, Mirza Abu’l Fazl [Fadl], he is the best informed of his contemporaries. He has no aspiration save service to the Cause of God. He is a scholar, he is appreciative and grateful to thee. (‘Abdu’l-Baha, excerpt from a Tablet to Roy Wilhelm dated August 9th, 1920; Star of the West, Vol. 11, December 12, 1920, p. 257)

His honor Fazel [Fadil], in reality, is perfect in all the grades in knowledge and virtue, in sincerity of intention, in beauty of character, in severance from aught else save God and attraction with the fragrances of God. Truly I say, he is the manifestation of this blessed verse: "I do not ask ye any reward. Verily my reward is with God, the Lord of the two worlds. It is written: 'If for the sake of thy self sacrifice thou desirest a compensation, the compensation which is given by His Holiness the Almighty is the best of all.'” (‘Abdu’l-Baha, excerpt from a Tablet received by Star of the West on 20 July, 1920; Star of the West, Vol. 11,December 12, 1920, pp. 256-257)

The duty of his honor Fazel, is to travel in all parts of America and raise the call of the Kingdom of Abha in all the meetings, churches and gatherings. (‘Abdu’l-Baha, excerpt from a Tablet; Star of the West, Vol. 12, April 1921, p. 59)

Mirza Asadu'llah Fadil, one of the prominent teachers and scholars of the Faith, was born into a noble family in Barfurush(Babul) [the city of Quddus], a city in Mazindaran, Iran.

His studies began during his early childhood at his home under the tutelage of his father. When he was in his teens he participated in the discourses given by notable scholars in his city who were the followers of Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsa’i. Fadil became a recognized scholar when he was only twenty years old. His assiduous study made him an authority in the current knowledge of his time, in Arabic literature, philosophy, astronomy, logic and Islamic traditions. When he was still under the care and tutelage of his teacher, a number of his fellow students chose him as their own teacher. It was at this time that Fadil became acquainted with Baha'is who were his father's friends. Moreover, he had the opportunity to meet some of the survivors of Fort Tabarsi. Fadil traveled to Tihran with some of his own students in order to improve his knowledge and meet some of the outstanding scholars who lived in that city. At the same time, he himself used to teach.

In Tihran he was able to contact some of the prominent Baha'is. He expressed the wish to study the revealed Tablets of Baha'u’llah. The first of these which came to his hand was Bisharat ("The Glad Tidings"). As a result of reading this and other Tablets and Writings of Baha'u'llah, he became an enthusiastic Baha'i. Thereafter he immersed himself in the ocean of the Writings and improved his knowledge of the Faith. He immediately began to teach the Faith to his fellow students in Tihran and gradually he became known in the circle of his friends as a Baha'i. Except for a number of broad-minded friends who continued their admiration and friendship, the rest, particularly the Mullas. ostracized him.

Fadil in this period wrote a letter to 'Abdu'l-Baha and expressed his acceptance of the Faith and beseeched the Master to advise him about his future services. 'Abdu'l-Baha encouraged him to teach the Faith. From that moment he left everything and became one of the best known and most successful Baha’i teachers.

Shortly after, the Master gave Fadil a mission. He was asked to travel to 'Iraq and meet Mulla Muhammad Kazim, the head of the Shi'ah sect of Islam. The purpose of his mission was to acquaint this important Muslim personage with the Faith and assure him that Baha'is do not participate in political activities and are free of religious prejudices. He was to assure the Mulla that Baha'is are well-wishers of the world and do not wish to harm any person. The reason 'Abdu'l-Baha wanted Fadil to seek this interview was that at that time in Persia there had been violent confrontations between those who supported the concept of a parliamentary form of government and those who supported the monarchy. In the ensuing confusion the Azalis, who were the active enemies of the Baha’is joined hands with fanatical elements in the country and incited the heads of both factions against the Faith. To the monarchists the Baha'is were accused of being in favor of constitutional government and to the constitutional faction they were accused of being supports of the monarchic regime. If the true position of the Baha'is were not made known to the prominent leaders, the Baha'is would be placed in very grave danger. Such a delicate and important mission was not carried out without considerable danger to the life of Fadil and his companion, Mirza 'Abdu'l Husayn Ardistani.

In the first days of their arrival at Najaf which was the seat of the great Mulla both these friends were arrested, chained, imprisoned and later sent back to Persia. The letters and writings of Fadil were confiscated. However, he was able to discharge the task entrusted to him by the Master as a result of these events. An elaborate and exhaustive interrogation was conducted in the presence of the representatives of the Persian government and others during which Fadil had the opportunity to explain the purpose of his mission and defend the Baha'i position. The details of these interrogations were conveyed officially to Mulla Kazim and through the Persian representative reached the ears of other political figures in the country.

Fadil served the Cause until his last breath, in Persia and beyond the borders of his native land. During his fifty years of service to the Faith he had the privilege of meeting ‘Abdu’l-Baha three times: on his return from Iraq and before his visit to India; when he was sent by the Master to the United States; and upon returning from his teaching trip to America.

After the ascension of 'Abdu'l-Baha the beloved Guardian asked Fadil and his family to the Holy Land and from there go to the United States to teach the Cause. The first visit of Fadil to the United States lasted more than one year. On the second journey he spent over two years in various parts of the United States and Canada. He won many individuals to the Faith in those countries and held lectures in synagogues, churches, universities and addressed various organizations such as the Theosophists and others.

A moving appreciation of Fadil's services abroad is found in a publication of the Baha'is of the United States, ‘The Baha'i Centenary (1844-1944)’, a booklet describing the development of the Cause in the West:

"Undoubtedly the crowning event of the latter part of this entire period (1917-1920) was the arrival in this country of the distinguished Baha'i teacher from Persia, a precious gift from 'Abdu'l-Baha to the Baha'i teaching program in America for 'Abdu'l-Baha had said He would send us 'a ripened soul.' He did fulfill this promise in the person of Jinab-i-Fadil who He said had been 'growing for a long time,' that 'he was wise, well informed and a thinker, a revered person, learned, sincere, humble and severed from mortal things.'

"Jinab-i-Fadil's arrival in this country produced the greatest happiness. . . Literally volumes could be written about his brilliant services.. . He travelled from the Atlantic to the Pacific, visiting every Baha'i Center en route and in each Center he spoke before crowded audiences in churches, colleges, organizations of every kind. Indeed he travelled a pathway of Light, the Light of the Kingdom, and there is no doubt that thousands and thousands heard the Baha'i message proclaimed by him in a scholarly manner. He served sincerely and brilliantly, and, with wisdom, graciousness and eloquence. He proved to be indeed 'Abdu'l-Baha's 'gift to America'. The story of his teaching tour when recorded in detail will form a unique chapter in the Baha'i history of this country. . . his work was so deeply appreciated that it greatly surpassed any adequate expression of gratitude."

Of his travels in Canada, Van den Hoonaard, writes in “The Origins of the Baha’i Community of Canada, p. 124)” that “Jinab-i-Fadil’s visit is still the most significant Baha’i event to have occurred in British Columbia. His lectures drew “capacity audience” (Collin 1968). On the last day, 6 February 1920, four people joined the Baha’i faith ….

Other teaching trips were undertaken by Fadil. He spent about eleven months in India and briefer periods of time in various parts of Caucasia and Turkistan. His last years were spent in the service of the Cause in Persia. He travelled to all the important places in that country and for some years served as a member of the National Spiritual Assembly as well as of the Spiritual Assembly of Tihran. His services were greatly valued by the beloved Guardian and all those who entered his presence benefited from his vast knowledge.

The Persian section of the early Baha'i magazine Star of the West was edited by Fadil and the portions in Persian script were written in his own hand. In addition he wrote and compiled numerous books, some of which are encyclopedic works about the Faith. Perhaps his most significant work is a compilation of Baha'i history in nine volumes called Zuhuru'l-Haq [History of the Manifestation of Truth] which he commenced during Abdu’l-Baha’s ministry and completed in the 1950s prior to his passing. It is a unique record of the events associated with the rise and establishment of the Babi-Baha’i community which is based almost entirely on eyewitness accounts and other solid documentations. These volumes represent the largest single writing project of the Babi and Baha’i religions. He is also the author of many articles which have appeared in Baha'i periodicals – some that are translated to English are listed below

In spite of his prominence and scholarship Fadil was kind and humble by nature and was loved by all who came in contact with him. On December 26, 1957, when he was going to a Baha'i meeting he passed away of a heart attack and his seventy-seven years of service to the Cause of God were ended. A more detailed biography of Fadil is printed in the seventh volume of Masabih-i--Hidayat. (Adapted from The Baha’i World, 1963-1968)

Some of his talks in America:

First Public Address in USA. (at Baha’i Congress, New York , April 27, 1920) (Star of West, Vol. 11, p. 182)

The Baha’i Revelation (at the Bahai Congress , New York, April 27, 1920) (Star of the West, Vol. 11, p. 251)

The Investigation of Truth (at the Bahai Congress, New York, April 28, 1920) (Star of the West, Vol. 11, p. 249)

The House of Spirituality in Persia (at the Twelfth Annual Mashriqu’l-Adhkar Convention, New York, April 29, 1920) (Star of the West, Vol. 11, p.155)

The Temple of Universal Religion: The Fundamental Oneness of all Existing Faiths (at the Baha’i Congress, in Auditorium Hotel, Chicago, April 24, 1921) (Star of the West, Vol. 12, p. 67)

Religion Must Be the Cause of Love and Unity (at the Baha’i Congress in the Auditorium Hotel, Chicago, April 25th, 1921) (Star of the West, Vol. 12, p. 82)

The Conformity of Science and Religion: The Universal Education of the Future (at the Baha’i Congress in Auditorium Hotel, Chicago, April 26th, 1921) (Star of the West, Vol. 12, p. 99)

The Dawn of the Sun of Reality and the Power of the Influence of Baha'u'llah (at the Baha’i Congress in the Auditorium Hotel, Chicago, April 27th, 1921) (Star of the West, Vol. 12, p.131)

Some of his writings translated into English:

The Growth of the Baha’i Faith in the East (Star of the West, Vol. 13, p. 130)

Two Shining Lights of Isfahan: A Description of the Two Luminous Lights of The Most Glorious Kingdom, Their Honors, The King of the Martyrs and The Beloved of The Martyrs (Star of the West, Vol. 13, p. 242)

Seven Cities in the Spiritual Journey to God (Star of the West, Vol. 13, p. 301)

How the Message Came to Najaf: An Autobiographical Story (Star of the West, Vol. 14, p. 12)

The Glory of Deeds (Star of the West, Vol. 14, p. 173)

The Wonderful Life of Kurratu’l-Ayn (Tahirih) (Star of the West, Vol. 14, p. 138)

The Life of the Bab (Star of the West, Vol. 14, p. 193)

The Divine Servant, The Life of ‘Abdu’l-Baha (Star of the West, Vol. 15, p. 73)

Conquest of Prejudice (Star of the West, Vol. 16, p. 496)

The Life of Baha’u’llah (Star of the West, Vol. 14, p. 325)

Arabian Civilization (Star of the West, Vol. 14, p. 235)

The Cablegram of Invitation

Sent by the [American] National Spiritual Assembly

Sept. 26, 1922

Baheyyeh Khanoum,
c/o Abdu’l-Baha Family,
Haifa, Syria.

Kindly convey invitation National Assembly to Jenabi Fazel visit America with his family with all expenses assured.

(Signed) Mills, Lunt, Randall.
Sent Sept.30.
(Star of the West, Vol. 14, p. 26)

What Jenabi Fazel [Fadil] Brings to America – By Horace Holley

In a talk given to the Bahais of the New York Metropolitan District at St. Mark's Hall, Friday evening, February 23, Jenabi Fazel said that he had come to assist the American friends to cooperate with Shoghi Effendi in carrying out the plan drawn up by Abdu’l-Baha in his last Tablets and Testament. It is Jenabi Fazel’s hope to visit every Baha’i Assembly and in fact every large city of the country during this trip. He stated that the Houses of Justice will be built on the foundations of the present Spiritual Assemblies, and as the Houses of Justice are to be strong, therefore the foundations must be deeply laid and made perfectly firm.

He also said that it is Shoghi Effend 's wish for all the believers, as far as possible, to subscribe to all three Baha’i publications -- the STAR OF THE WEST (Baha’I Magazine); the SUN OF THE EAST (Ishqabad, Russia) and BAHA’I NEWS, India. On this he laid much weight.

In all his talks to the Assembly and gatherings of the friends, Jenabi Fazel emphasizes very strongly also the power of self sacrifice and martyrdom in the progress of the Cause since the first. (Star of the West, Vol. 14, p. 27)

Mirrors of the Master -- Addresses of Jenabi Fazel and a special interview, by Juliet Thompson, New York City, March 6, 1923

The power of God's confirmation, in its fullness, is very mysterious. Abdu’l-Baha said once to us in Akka: "The magnetism for the Word of God is sincerity of intention, and until you are entirely emptied of yourselves you will never be sincere enough." Jenabi Fazel is one entirely emptied of himself and filled with the love of God, and therefore whose words have a penetrative power, because the "trace of the Word of God" is in them. When he speaks the word "forgiveness" the attribute of forgiveness grows in your heart; when he speaks the word "faith" you step into the world of faith; his own holiness and wisdom illumine the word "love." By his positive representation of the attributes of the Kingdom, of the greatness of the life of the Kingdom, we see clearly where we have fallen short, where we have been childishly unseeing, where the self has gotten in the way of the larger handling of things. We see how easy it is for love -- love and faith -- to conquer all -- to solve simply every complicated problem.

When I went to him yesterday to ask him for news for the Star of the West -- news of Shoghi Effendi and Haifa he said:

"His Holiness Shoghi Effendi has commanded all over the world that wherever there were nine Bahais there should be a spiritual assembly and that the members of every House of Spirituality should be elected on the condition that they possess all the attributes mentioned by Baha'u'llah. These Houses of Spirituality must be in direct communication with one another, must benefit by one another in other words, must cooperate with and assist one another. They must be like the active power and the active members of the same body. All are joined to the Heart which is in Haifa.

"One of the teachings of His Holiness Baha'u’llah is the Law of Consultation. The people of Baha, in order to promulgate the Cause should help and aid one another in all their affairs.

"His Holiness Baha'ullah in his epistles and books, states that 'the tent of the order of the world is upheld by two pillars -- reward and punishment,' and the Heaven of the Command of God is illumined by two stars -- benevolence and consultation.

"In the epistles and tablets of Baha'u'llah and Abdu’l- Baha the foundation of consultation is laid down -- that all the individual Bahais may be joined and connected together like members of the same body, so that no event could separate them, or cause dissension among them.

"His Holiness Abdu’l-Baha, in reference to consultation, states: ‘The electricity of reality is produced by the friction of two opposite ideas'. When people consult together the friction of reality always is produced. Therefore the Baha'is, by the blending of thoughts, consultation and cooperation, should rise for the propagation of the Cause and diffuse its fragrances to the hearts and minds of the people.

"Of the great construction of the Cause planned by His Holiness Abdu'l-Baha, Shoghi Effendi is laying the foundation. And that construction is the building of consultation, union and cooperation among the Baha’is so that the Baha’is of the East and West may become like unto members of the same body, uniting their powers. Unitedly should they arise for the promulgation of the Cause, so that the banner of the oneness of mankind may be unfurled from the horizon of the world, that the children of the world may manifestly see this standard, and gather under its shadow."

Jeabi Fazel said further:

"I am greatly pleased with the immense activities of the Bahais in this city. They are engaged incessantly and untiringly in the promulgation of this great Cause. From every corner of New York City the call of the Kingdom is raised. Day and night those who have dedicated their lives are engaged in unfurling the banner of the Oneness of Mankind."

Jenabi Fazel’s first appearance in New York was at St. Mark's in the Bouwerie, where friends from Boston and Canada joined the New York friends in welcoming him.

The following night he honored my house by meeting a group of the teachers here, answering their questions. He spoke of His Holiness Shoghi Effendi in a way that enkindled in every heart a longing to make the pilgrimage to the Sacred Spot, where, as Jenabi Fazel made it so clear, the Divine Center of the Covenant, from his Abha Kingdom, is reflecting himself in the mirror of Shoghi Effendi. Shoghi Effendi, Jenabi Fazel told us, is the perfect mirror of Abdu’l-Baha. In him we see again our beloved Master. In face, in gesture, even in quality of mind, Shoghi Effendi gives back amazingly the reflection, the likeness, of Abdul Baha.

Friday evening he addressed Mr. Bert Randall's group at St. Mark's, where he explained the Hidden Word, "Unreal friends love one another for their personal interests, but the Real Friend loveth and hath loved you for the sake of yourselves," and where he also gave a talk the substance of which he repeated to me for the STAR OF THE WEST. Its subject was "The Salvation of Man From Egotism."

"Self and ego," he said, "were like a cage, a prison. A man may be outwardly prosperous, but if he does not save himself from egotism, he is degraded and debased; while outside of the prison of self he is free, though (bodily) he might be in the greatest prison. Salvation from self is only possible through the Manifestations of God, through love for Him, faith in Him, service in His path. The lives of the followers and adherents of the Manifestations of God are the greatest proof for the validity of this statement. The disciples of His Holiness Christ and the adherents of his cause forgot themselves in such wise that they sacrificed themselves for the world of humanity. There are no other means for salvation from self except through faith, love and service. Those who become ascetics, weakening their bodies in order to reach the ideal state, will never attain to their object for weakness of body is conducive merely to weakness of spirit; because a sound soul is only in a sound body. Therefore, we must have strong bodies and strong souls that we may rise for the service of mankind."

Jeabi Fazel speaks sublimely on forgiveness, with a power in his simple words so amazing that whatever of the poison of resentment remains in our hearts is somehow immediately washed away. No matter what we suffer from others we must at once forgive, he says, leaving the outcome of everything in the hands of God. We may gently admodish, speaking frankly, but always with love and forgiveness in our hearts.

The Baha’i martyrs softened the hearts of many of their persecutors, by the love they displayed to these enemies, under the very sword, even giving away their possessions to their murderers. One of these martyrs said to the man appointed to kill him: "My clothes and the money in my pockets are yours." The man could hardly go on with the execution but the Baha’i said: "Finish your work. You cannot help it."

Whenever Jenabi Fazel speaks he gives us great examples of deeds, of heroic living, either from the lives of the Manifestations of God, or from their sincere followers, detached and lofty spirits who, lifted entirely above the influences of this world, manifest naught save greatness of spirit, the greatness of the unconquerable love of God. On this positive aspect of life he dwells, till all that is less becomes revealed in the true measure of its littleness and unworthiness.

Of Jenabi Fazel Abdu'l-Baha has written, "there is considerable difference between him and others."

Tonight Jenabi Fazel spoke of the ascension of the holy reality of Abdu’l-Baha to the Abha Kingdom and of his increasing power throughout the world, resulting from his freedom from his body. He told us wonderful stories of the quickening of the work in Russia, of the stirring of a new life in Turkey, Egypt, among all nations. And he ended by saying that we are as many mirrors and the unseen Master is a Sun in the midst of mirrors. He told us the following beautiful tale:

In a meeting in Baku he had observed a man so humble that he marveled at such a degree of humility, and wondered how he had attained it. Later he was told the story.

The man had been born a Mohammedan, and had been a highwayman and a murderer. But one day he asked himself – “If indeed there is a God, how shall I fare for the way I have lived?”

At last he sought out a mullah and begged to be shown how to win the forgiveness of God. The mullah said:

"I will tell you. Go, and find a Baha’i and kill him, and you will be forgiven all your sins.”

This made the man very happy, for, he said "This is the easiest way for me to win forgiveness."

So he found a Baha’i, who was a baker, and one day went into his bakery and began to heap insults on him, to provoke the Baha’i, in order to have some pretext to kill him. But the more he insulted the Baha’i the kinder the Baha’i became. After a while the Baha’i asked him to be seated and brought him food, then told him of the coming of the Blessed Perfection, and the man was obliged to give up for that time killing the Baha’i, saying to himself, "I must try again, when he is not so kind."

However, when he returned the second time the Bahai avas still kinder, and on the third occasion showed a spirit so divine that his would be murderer, already two thirds a Baha, became entirely converted. On each visit, Jenabi Fazel said, a third of him became converted.

Wholely converted at last, he said to the Baha'i, "Now I want to go and kill that mullah."

But the Baha'i answered: "Rather, you must go and guide him, for among Baha'is there is no spirit of revenge there is only peace and love." (Star of the West, Vol. 14, p. 29)