'Abdu'l-Baha - by Hand of the Cause, H.M. Balyuzi

From the Foreword section:

The first chapter of this book was written as long ago as 1939. The book owes its inception to a gracious remark by Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha'i Faith. When my booklet on the life of Baha’u’llah was issued by the Publishing Trust of the Baha’is of the British Isles in June 1938, and copies were sent to him, he expressed his hope in a letter to the National Spiritual Assembly that companion volumes would be written on the life of the Bab and the life of 'Abdu'l-Baha. I set about organizing an outline for a book on the life of 'Abdu'l-Baha, which, because of the abundance of available material, would necessarily be of vaster proportions than the slim booklet on the life of Baha’u’llah. That booklet was reprinted in The Baha’i World, Vol. VIII (1938-40). In future years with added material it grew into a small book and came from the press in the Centenary year of the Declaration of Baha'u'llah.

The onset of the Second World War halted my work on the life of 'Abdu'l-Baha. And it was not resumed until more than a score of years had passed. Then I had to recast my outline of the book, because more material had come into my possession and to my knowledge. I had also come to feel strongly, for a variety of reasons, that Professor Edward Granville Browne’s connections with the Faith of the Bab and Baha'u'llah had to be explored and explained. It took a considerable time to put the material on Edward Browne into a coherent shape. But when I had done so it became apparent that a diversion of that magnitude was inappropriate in a book on the life of 'Abdu’l-Baha. It was suggested to me (with which suggestion I readily concurred) that the chapter on Edward Browne should be extracted and made into a monograph, to be published separately. Having decided on that course I realized that more research was required before an adequate monograph could be produced. That research, although time-consuming, was highly rewarding. Edward Granville Browne and the Baha'i Faith was published in 1970, having been thrice rewritten and recast.

I then went back to continue the story of 'Abdu'l-Baha. My principal source was now Shoghi Effendi's God Passes By which was published in 1944, five years after I had prepared my first outline. Other books mainly consulted were Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali's Bihjatu's Sudur, Memories of Nine Years In 'Akka by Dr Yunis Khan-i-Afrukhtih, Baday’ul-Athar by Mirza Mahmud-i-Zarqani (Diaries of 'Abdu'l-Baha's occidental tour), Khatirat-i-Habib (Memoirs of Habib) by Dr H. Mu'ayyad, The Chosen Highway by Lady Blomfield, and Abdu’l-Baha’s First Days in America by Juliet Thompson. Abdu’l-Baha In London, Paris Talks and The Promulgation of Universal Peace provided the texts of the Talks delivered by 'Abdu'l-Baha in the West. Certain discrepancies had to be reconciled, and particular difficulties with the dates of 'Abdu'l-Baha's talks and engagements in the West had to be resolved. These dates as given in Zarqani's Diaries and The Promulgation of Universal Peace did not tally on many occasions, and sometimes differed considerably. I decided to accept the version provided by the latter work, since the compiler was himself a Westerner and more qualified to use the Western calendar correctly. Dates relating to 'Abdu'l-Baha's second visit to Europe had likewise to be adjusted, whenever Zarqani's version differed from accounts provided by Western sources. A number of minor alterations have been made in the translations of 'Abdu'l-Baha's Talks, wherever the available Persian or Arabic text suggested a better rendering.

A word on the photographs of 'Abdu'l-Baha. The first photographs that we have of Him were taken in Adrianople. Then there were none until He reached London in 1911 and press photographers attempted to photograph Him. 'Abdu'l-Baha said, as reported by Lady Blomfield, 'If the photographs must be, it would be better to have good ones.' Therefore a number of studio portraits were taken in London, and again in Paris a month later. In the United States 'Abdu'l-Bahia was photographed frequently. On His return to the Holy Land, and in the closing years of His life, when pilgrims came again with their cameras, He was, once more, frequently photographed. No studio photograph was ever taken in the Holy Land.

As the year 1970 sped by and the opening months of 1971 were upon me, setbacks made it obvious that it would be a desperate race against time to complete the book to be available for the fiftieth Anniversary of the Passing of 'Abdu'l-Baha. Unstinted help given to me by Marion and David Hofman facilitated my task considerably, for which I am eternally grateful.

I am much indebted to the Baha'i Publishing Trusts of Great Britain and the United States for their kindness in allowing very lengthy quotations from their publications; and to Mrs. Doris Holley and Dr Edris Rice-Wray for permitting the reproduction of long extracts from the writings of the Hand of the Cause, Horace Holley, and from Portals to Freedom, respectively, as well as to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Canada for excerpts from 'Abdu’l-Baha in Canada.

My sincere thanks also go to Miss Angela Anderson, Mrs Beatrice Ashton, Mr and Mrs David Lewis, and Mr Rustom Sabit for their meticulous care in reading the proofs. Several of the photographs have been reproduced beautifully by Mr Horst W. Kolodziej, for which, too, I am very thankful.

Finally, without the encouragement, patience and suggestions of my wife this book would not have reached its readers thus soon.

H. M. Balyuzi
May 1971

From the back cover of the Book:

The Book

'He is, and should for all time be regarded, first and foremost, as the Centre and Pivot of Baha'u'llah’s peerless and all-enfolding Covenant . . . the perfect Exemplar of His teachings, the unerring Interpreter of His Word, the embodiment of every Baha’i ideal . . . --styles and titles that are implicit and find their truest, their highest and fairest expression in the magic name 'Abdu'l-Baha.'

'Abdu'l-Baha is the second in H. M. Balyuzi's trilogy portraying the lives of the three Central Figures of the Baha’i Faith. It is a comprehensive biography, which was written for the fiftieth anniversary of 'A bdu’l-Baha’s passing in November 1921, and makes available for the first time a full-scale study of His life. The author has drawn on Persian and English source material, much of it out of print, to create this enthralling book. He has written it for all those who seek to know more about 'Abdu'l-Baha, and who would follow the course of His long and fruitful life of service as His Father's ‘Ambassador to Humanity'.

The Author

H. N. Balyuzi comes of a Persian family distinguished for its scholarship and administrative ability. His father, a close correspondent of E. G. Browne, the Orientalist, was Governor of the Persian Gulf Ports. Although related to the Bab, the Herald and Martyr-Prophet of the New Dispensation, Mr. Balyuzi's membership of the Baha'i Faith is by conviction and not inheritance. He graduated from the American University of Beirut and later took his M.Sc.(Econ.) at London. At the outbreak of war in 1939 he joined the Persian service of the B.B.C. He was, for many years, chairman of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Raha’is of the British Isles. He was appointed a Hand of the Cause in 1957, has served in Haifa at the World Centre of the Baha’i Faith, and travelled, in 1961, through Canada and to Ecuador and Peru.


Part I

Youth, Imprisonment and Freedom
1. The Master
2. In the Days of His Father
3. The Ascension of Baha'u'llah
4. The Centre of the Covenant
5. Open Rebellion
6. Disciples in the West
7. Years of Peril
8. Raising the Tabernacle of the Lord
9. Liberty at Last
10. 'A New Cycle of Human Power'
11. Sojourn in Paris

Part II

America, From Coast to Coast
12. The First Visits
13. The City of the Covenant
14. New England
15. Canada
16. The Westward Journey
17. California
18. Farewell to America

Part III

Europe and the Closing Years
19. The Second Visit to Britain
20. Return to Europe
21. To Egypt and the Holy Land
22. The War Years
23. The Last Years of His Ministry
24. The Passing of 'Abdu'l-Baha
25. The Will and Testament

A Word in Conclusion

1. 'The Drama of the Kingdom'
2. From The Tablets of the Divine Plan
3. Tablets Regarding The Save the Children Fund
4. 'A Great Prince Speaks of 'Abdu'l-Baha
5. A Gift from the Shrine of Baha’u'llah