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1917 and all that

Posted by Sen on February 6, 2009

paperstorm Amended April 3, 2011
The Bahai community has a tendency to get carried away with its enthusiasms for prophecies that supposedly give an insight into the immediate future. I’ve discussed one of these in Century’s end, about the expectation that “unity of nations” would be achieved by the year 2000. The story this time goes back to the beginning of the 20th century, when the Bahais were waiting for cataclysms to strike in 1917, followed by a world at peace in which “all nations shall be as one faith.”

The story is still relevant today because the ‘1917 prophecy’ I am looking at is printed in Baha’u’llah and the New Era, which means that it has been translated into many languages and become part of the Bahai lore around the world. Baha’u’llah and the New Era is also included in the search engine Ocean, so it appears ‘official’ and is widely used. As of today (6 February), this prophecy is on the wikipedia page for “Bahai prophecies.” As such it is used by skeptics as an example of failed prophecy on the part of Abdu’l-Baha. One could of course argue that 1917 was an important year in world history, and rather cataclysmic, but we should first see if Abdu’l-Baha did say something like this, and what exactly it was.

This story is also another useful illustration of the way texts change as they are transmitted (and therefore, the importance of going back to first sources), and of the unhealthiness of living in the future, and these are lessons that bear repeating.

Esslemont's Version

Esslemont's Version


Baha’u’llah and the New Era
 
In the 1980 edition of Esslemont’s
introductory book on the Bahai Faith, Baha’u’llah and the New Era, Chapter 14 contains a section of predictions concerning the Great War (World War I), including a remarkable prediction about 1917, when kingdoms will fall and cataclysms will rock the earth (pages 243-4).

It is unlikely that Abdu’l-Baha, speaking through an interpreter, would specify a year in the western calendar in this way: he used the Islamic lunar calendar and sometimes the Persian solar calendar, neither of which has years beginning on 1 January. This means that if Abdu’l-Baha said, ‘in the year 1335’ the interpreter would have to calculate and then translate this, ‘in 1916 or 1917,’ because 1335 in the Islamic calendar begins on October 28, 1916. (Try this calender converter, and remember to use the Gregorian, not the Julian, date).

True's 1914 version

True's 1914 version

The source is also striking: Esslemont says “Reported by
Mrs. Corinne True in The North Shore Review, September 26, 1914, Chicago, U.S.A.” The North Shore Review was a feminist magazine printed in Evanston, Illinois. It ran from 1914 to 1916 and published articles submitted by Bahais. Several of these were reprinted in Star of the West (available on CD here), but this one was not. I have obtained a copy, thanks to the friendly efforts of the staff looking after the McCormick Special Collections at Northwestern University Library. In it, the interviewer asks,
“What are the two most important points in the teaching of Abdul Baha?”
“The oneness of humanity and the ‘most great peace,’ replied Mrs True promptly, adding: “Abdul Baha, in an address at Leland Stanford University in 1912 prophesied the present war. He said:

“We are on the eve of the battle of Armageddon referred to in the 16th chapter of Revelations. The time is two years hence, when only a spark will set aflame the whole of Europe. The social unrest in all countries, the growing religious skepticism antecedent to the millennium, already here, will set aflame the whole of Europe as is prophesied in the 1st of Daniel and in the Book of John. Before 1917 kingdoms will fall and cataclysms will rock the earth. Then all nations shall be as one faith, all men as brothers, and these fruitless strifes and ruinous wars shall pass away and the most great peace shall come; and man shall not glory in this, that he loves his country, but rather in that he loves his kind.”

True’s article is not cited in later articles in Star of the West. So how did Esslemont learn about it? True and Esslemont were both in Haifa in November 1919: presumably True had her box of clippings with her, and so the story found its way into Baha’u’llah and the New Era, without the last paragraph and with other changes.

Masson's 1919 version

Masson's 1919 version

It is unusual – perhaps unique – for a newspaper article by Corinne True to be cited as a source for the Bahai teachings. Where did Corinne True get her information from?
 
Versions
 
True does not say, but perhaps other versions of the story will give us a source. The next datable occurrence I’ve found is an article written by Jean Masson, in the Helena Daily Independent, in Montana, February 2 1919, and republished in Star of the West vol. 10 no. 3, April 28, 1919. This differs in inserting ‘are’ before ‘already here’, which means that what was a parenthetic phrase is now the end of the sentence, which in turn has required the insertion of ‘only a spark’ before ‘will set aflame.’ In Masson’s version, the kingdoms “will be annihilated” rather than merely falling, as in True’s version.

Mortensen's 1919 version

Mortensen's 1919 version

An article written by Fred Mortensen, and published in the Montana Record Herald, February 18, 1919, then reproduced in Star of the West vol 10, no. 1, in March 21 1919, refers to the “two years” prophecy, but not the 1917 prophecy. It gives the source as a talk given by Abdu’l-Baha to the students of Stanford University, and says simply “Europe is like unto a powder magazine and one little spark shall set all the world aflame, and the time is two years hence.” The differences between this and Masson’s article, published two weeks earlier and also in Montana, indicate two different sources, or that Mortenson is speaking from memory.

paper75recycledMasson is unlikely to be basing herself on a printed version of True’s article. She would be unlikely to to change “fall” to annihilation, or to have inserted “are” and “only a spark.” So it seems most likely that True and Masson are both using another source, which is being passed from hand to hand, copied and recopied.

I also have a copy of a single typed page from a collection of materials that circulated in the early American Bahai community (Barstow Collection item 22), which is almost identical to True’s version. I have no evidence to date it, but it omits the reference to Stanford University, so I think it most likely to be typed from the ‘text box’ in True’s article, rather than being a source that True has drawn on. bristow_version

Sources

The last paragraph of the True, Masson and Barstow versions (omitted by Esslemont) are recognisably words of Baha’u’llah reported by EG Browne in his edition of “A Traveller’s Narrative” page xl :

” …That all nations should become one in faith and all men as brothers; that the bonds of affection and unity between the sons of men should be strengthened; that diversity of religion should cease, and differences of race be annulled — what harm is there in this?…Yet so it shall be; these fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars shall pass away, and the `Most Great Peace’ shall come… …..Let not a man glory in this, that he loves his country; let him rather glory in this, that he loves his kind.”
(online here, and cited by Shoghi Effendi in God Passes By)

Which in True’s version becomes:

“Then all nations shall be as one faith, all men as brothers, and these fruitless strifes and ruinous wars shall pass away and the most great peace shall come; and man shall not glory in this, that he loves his country, but rather in that he loves his kind.”

True or whoever she got her material from has simply selected some phrases from Baha’u’llah’s interview with Browne and attributed them instead to Abdu’l-Baha.
 
starofwest3_12
 
That still leaves the question of the 1917 prophecy, which in True’s version, dated 1914, reads ‘Before 1917 kingdoms will fall and cataclysms will rock the earth.’ Where did this come from?

True, Masson and Mortensen attribute this to a talk at Stanford University, but given the differences between their accounts, there must have been multiple differing reports attributing these words to Abdu’l-Baha, at least two of them saying they were spoken at Stanford University.

The talk that Abdu’l-Baha gave at Stanford University, on 8th October 1912, was translated by Dr. Ameen Fareed, with shorthand notes taken by Bijou Braun, and printed in the Star of the West Vol. 3 No. 12, October 16 1912. It contains not a word of this – no “powder magazine”, no “spark”, no “two years,” no Armageddon, no book of Daniel, or John, no 1917.

stanfordpersianUnlike many such talks, this one can be authenticated, because Persian notes were taken and Abdu’l-Baha’s practice was to check and correct such notes before allowing them to be distributed. They are printed in the Persian section of Star of the West vol. 5 p. 16, and also in Khatabat-e Abdu’l-Baha vol. 2 p. 267. I’ve checked both: once again, there is no powder magazine, spark, two years, Armageddon, book of Daniel, or John there, and no prophecy of events in 1917.

Since the English version of the Stanford University talk was published in 1912, it is odd that True says that this talk is her source. She, and the Star of the West editors, could have checked and seen that Abdu’l-Baha was not recorded as saying these words or anything like them at Stanford University.

Let’s suppose then that the reference to a talk given at Stanford University is simply a mistake. Are there other possible sources for True’s account, and particularly for the 1917 prophecy?

The words “only a spark will set aflame the whole of Europe” do have a traceable origin, in a talk Abdu’l-Baha gave on October 26 1912, at the Hotel Sacramento (in Sacramento) about the paramount importance of International Peace. Dr. Fareed interpreted, and Bijou Straun took shorthand notes (there are no Persian notes), which were later worked up and printed in the Star of the West, according to which he said:sacramentohotel

“The European continent is like unto an arsenal. It is a storehouse of explosives, ready for just a spark, and one spark could set aflame the whole of Europe, particularly at this time, when the Balkan question is before the world.” Star of the West, Vol. 5, p. 259, January 1915.

Note that there is no “two years” here, no “Armageddon.” If this is the source, it has been freely embroidered. The impending war was seen by North American observers of the time as an important part of Abdu’l-Baha’s message. For example, the headlines of a report in the Montreal Daily Star in August 1912 reads “Apostle of Peace here, predicts and appalling war in the old world.” Again, there is no mention of a time, but note that this prediction of war comes two years before the war began. Perhaps, after the start of the war, it was widely noted that Abdu’l-Baha had predicted it two years previously, and this awareness crept back into the reports of his words at the time.

However there is a separate source for the “two years” prophecy (given in 1912, looking forward to 1914). It is in the fourth of the Tablets of the Divine Plan, which was published in Star of the West volume 7 p 88, in September 8 1916. The translation is by Ahmad Sohrab, and that has been republished with minor changes since: it is page 22 of the current edition of Tablets of the Divine Plan. The Persian text is printed in Makaatib-e hazrat-e ‘Abdu’l-Baha volume 3, this part is at page 12. What it says there (in my translation) is:

In the days when I was in America, I cried out in every meeting and called the people to promote universal peace. I explicitly said, “The continent of Europe is like an arsenal, susceptible to a single spark, and this is near at hand in the coming years. After two years, that which is mentioned in the Book of the Revelation of John and the Book of Daniel will be fulfilled.” And so it was. This report was included in the San Francisco Bulletin, dated 12 October 1912. Refer to it …

True’s article appeared in September 1914, but the tablet from Abdu’l-Baha was not printed until 1916. So True must have had another source that referred to a talk containing the ‘two years’ prophecy: if we could find that, we might find the 1917 prophecy as well. bulletin12oct1912

One possibility to check is that she might have had access to the account in the San Francisco Bulletin that Abdu’l-Baha refers to in the Tablets of the Divine Plan. There were in fact two, printed on October 12 and 13, 1912. Unfortunately neither mentions looming war in Europe, the Books of Revelation or of Daniel, what is to come in two years, or the date 1917. However the reporter, John D. Barry, says in both accounts, that while he was speaking to Abdu’l-Baha, there was always someone recording what was said. So it could be that Abdu’l-Baha did speak on these topics to the reporter, and later thought that these words had been published in the Bulletin, and that the notes which were taken by the Bahais in some way reached True. But we still haven’t found a paper trail leading to the source of the prophecy concerning 1917, before which date kingdoms will fall and cataclysms will rock the earth, to be followed by mass conversion and the most great peace.

1917 and all that
The date 1917 had a long history in the expectations of American Bahais. Kheiralla, who was the first systematic teacher of the Bahai message in North America, and Howard MacNutt, the editor or The Promulgation of Universal Peace wrote an introductory book in two volumes, called Beha ‘U’llah, published around 1900. It is available as an e-text at the web archive. MacNutt and Kheiralla had limited knowledge of the Bahai teachings, but did not let this hinder them: their work is important mainly as a window into the intellectual world of the early American Bahais. In volume 2, page 480, Kheiralla and MacNutt write: kheirellamcnutt480

In the 12th verse of Daniel’s prophecy, “Blessed is he that waiteth and cometh to the thousand three hundred five and thirty days.” The year 1335 from the Hegira, corresponds to 1917 A. D., at which time peace shall reign upon the earth and the wars of nations cease. Beha ‘U’llah prohibited war and ordered the settlement of national disputes by arbitration. He also promised that the “most great peace shall come.”

and on page 483:

Although the thousand years began with the departure of the Manifestation in 1892, the commencement of the “Great Peace” will be in 1917.

Kheiralla is not the only source for this prophecy. When Mrs. Finch and Fanny and Alma Knobloch visited Acca in November 1908, they were told by “Mirza Assad Ullah” (who is presumably the scholar Fadil-e Mazandarani): fccover

All the days end in this day. In the year 1335 (see Dan.XII. 12), you shall see the great unfoldment. In other words, we have nine years (A. D. 1917), to witness the outcome of these events. Whatever major events were to take place in accordance with prophecy are to come now, and we will witness these great events. The climax is in the days of Abdul Baha; the culminating events will take place.

The lion and the lamb will lie down together. All the prophetic statements of the coming of the Kingdom will take place in these days.

This world has an owner, and Abdul Baha owns the world and all that is in it; …Flowers Culled from the Rose Garden of Acca, page 3

George Latimer was one of a group of Pilgrims who visited Abdu’l-Baha in November of 1919. His pilgrim’s notes are particularly valuable because Shoghi Effendi was the interpreter, and because Esslemont and Latimer have given us independent versions of what they heard from Shoghi Effendi’s lips. According to Latimer, Mr. Randall asked Abdu’l-Baha to speak about the fulfillment of prophecies, and Abdu’l-Baha said:

“There are many prophecies but we do not use them as proofs. We prove the appearance of the Blessed Beauty in other ways. For the sun is in no need of having others say that it exists. Is this not so? Is there need for any one to say the sun is shining? Its own appearance is sufficient. So the knowledge which appears from the Blessed Beauty is quite sufficient. …”

Mr. Randall: “What date was referred to in the Book of Daniel [12:12]: ‘Blessed is he who comes to the thousand, three hundred and thirty and five days?'”

Abdu’l-Baha: “This date is reckoned according to solar time. From the declaration of Muhammad thirteen hundred thirty-five years will pass according to solar reckoning. There will be a very blessed Cause at that time, this is reckoning from the Hijrah.

Three or four years before 1917 the Jews interpreted it to mean the year 1917. They reckoned it according to lunar time. Now this reckoning according to lunar time is thirteen hundred and five years. Three years ago they were expectant. They wrote everywhere that the Messiah will appear. The Rabbis of the Holy Land wrote everywhere. Even a Persian Jew came to me. He said: ‘In the year 1335 the Messiah will appear. It is certain. All the Rabbis are agreed upon it.’ I said: ‘Your Promised One was Christ. He came nineteen hundred years ago.’ He said: ‘He has not come. He must come in 1917.’ I said: ‘If He does not come, what then?’ He replied: ‘Strike me one hundred times with a stick.’ In the beginning of the year (1917) I sent for him. He said: ‘Wait until the end of the year.’ The end of the year came and I sent for him again. He did not come. I sent for him several times, but he did not come. His name was Ishmael. He was a physician here, an oculist. No matter what I did he remained away until the poor fellow died.”

The narrative part of this, the story of the Jew who expected the Messiah in 1335/1917, and Abdu’l-Baha’s bemusement with him, comes through clearly. As for the interpretation of prophecy, it appears that Jews living in an Islamic-calendar environment had connected the 1335 days of Daniel to the year 1335 in the Islamic lunar calendar, beginning October 25, 1916. But Abdu’l-Baha is certain that it should be read according to the solar year. This is distinctly odd: in Some Answered Questions Chapter 10, he has used the lunar calender to interpret the previous verse, Daniel 12:11:

The beginning of this lunar reckoning is from the day of the proclamation of the prophethood of Muhammad in the country of Hijaz; and that was three years after His mission, because in the beginning the prophethood of Muhammad was kept secret, and no one knew it save Khadijah and Ibn Nawfal. After three years it was announced. And Bahá’u’lláh, in the year 1290 from the proclamation of the mission of Muhammad, caused His manifestation to be known. (Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 43)

The beginning of Muhammad’s preaching, at the end of the first 3-year period of his ministry, is about 7 years before the hejira (move to Medina). From there, 1290 lunar years takes us to 1283 after the hejira (AH): the year running from May 16 1866 to May 4 1867. Abdu’l-Baha is pointing out that there are 1290 lunar years between two equivalent events: the point at which Muhammad began to proclaim his message publicly (after previously telling only those closest to him), and the point at which Baha’u’llah began to do that, in Adrianople (after previously lifting the veil for his family and followers, at Ridvan 1863 in Baghdad). The events in Adrianople are described by Shoghi Effendi in chapter 10 of God Passes By, entitled “Proclamation of Baha’u’llah’s Mission in Adrianople.” (The footnotes in both the English and Persian editions of Some Answered Questions are misleading here.)

earthmoonsun According to the Latimer notes, Abdu’l-Baha described what had happened in Palestine through the millennial expectation and the application of the lunar calendar to Daniel 12:12, but he did not go on to work out for the pilgrims what year would be indicated if one counted 1335 solar years, either from the beginning of Muhammad’s mission in about 619 AD, or from the Hijra (1954 or 1957, respectively).

It would appear that Abdu’l-Baha’s purpose was not to substitute his own calculation of the 1335 days for an incorrect one (1917): rather he tells the story to show how foolish it is to live in a world of arcane books and prognostications, in expectation that God will step in any day now. The story of the Persian Jew who expected the Messiah in 1917 is a cautionary tale for Mr. Randall and those like him, whose concern is to master the prophetic calculations and the esoteric language of symbols. The story implicitly puts a question to Mr. Randall: what will you do if God doesn’t meet your deadline? Will you too turn away, and die?

bneedn1_212If Abdu’l-Baha had worked out the meaning of 1335, using solar years, it would surely have been noted down. (Esselmont, who was present, reported this talk in the first edition of Baha’u’llah and the New Era page 212; he too did not report Abdu’l-Baha working out a ‘correct’ calculation.) In the same way, in Some Answered Questions he shows that the 1290 days of Daniel 12:11 – using the lunar calendar – come to 1866/7, but he does not go on to draw the apparently obvious conclusion that exactly the same method, from the same starting date, if applied to the 1335 days would take us to 1328 AH or 1910. He appears to consider the 1335 days, which looks like a simple 45-day extension of the 1290 days of the previous verse, as something quite different. He specifically uses the lunar calendar in interpreting the 1290 days, but in the Latimer & Esslemont notes rejects its use for the 1335 days, and does not offer an alternative explanation in either of these accounts.

In a tablet in Makaatiib-e Hazrat-e Abdu’l-Baha vol. 3 page 223, he does give a reading of the 1335 days: makaatiib-e-hazrat-e-abdul-baha-vol3p223

“these are solar years, not lunar, for by that date, an era [qarn] will have elapsed from the dawning of the sun of reality. The teaching of God will be established on the earth, really in authority, and lights will flood the easts and the wests of the earth, ‘on that day the believers will rejoice’ (Quran 3:4). However the 1290 days announced in the previous verse, until the revelation of all things, are by lunar reckoning, as explained in Some Answered Questions.”

I have discussed the meaning of qarn in ‘century of light’ and will not repeat that here: it could be a century, but Abdu’l-Baha usually uses it to refer to the dispensation of a Prophet. Why does Abdu’l-Baha switch from emphatically using the lunar calendar for the 1290 days, to using the solar calendar for the 1335 days? Could it be that the 1290 days refers to the dispensation of Muhammad, whose symbol is the crescent moon, while he reads the 1335 days as a reference to the dispensation of Baha’u’llah, who is the sun of truth, and whose calendar is solar? But in that case, he would be beginning the count with the declaration of Baha’u’llah in Baghdad, or his public proclamation in Edirne, and would therefore be looking forward beyond the year 3000. I won’t work out the exact year for you, because the Quranic verse appears to caution against too much of making deadlines for God. It says, “The decision is God’s, in the past and in the future, and on that day the believers will rejoice.”

Tempting as this interpretation is, it runs against another tablet, published in Ma’ideh Asmani vol 9 page 22 (page 20 in the typeset edition) maideh_ismani9-22 which says:

O Servant of God! The 1335 years begin from the time of the hejira of his Holiness the Apostle Muhammad, the elect, blessing and peace be upon him, for in that period the spreading of his ineffable traces, exalted and sublime, from the Word of God, was accomplished.

If Abdu’l-Baha is being consistent, this rules out the idea that he saw the 1290 lunar days as the dispensation of Muhammad, and the 1335 solar days as the subsequent dispensation of Baha’u’llah. In this tablet he begins the 1335 days with Muhammad’s hejira (622 AD), and it is the period in which Muhammad’s message will spread, or flood, the world from the Word of God (the Qur’an).

The addressee here is presumably a Muslim, and would read this as saying that the 1335 days refer to the year 1335 of the Islamic calendar (1916/17). The tablet was presumably written after 1917, since the last verb is in the past tense. I do not know of any event in Islamic history at that time to which Abdu’l-Baha could have been referring as accomplishing or completing the spreading of Muhammad’s ‘traces.’ Perhaps the meaning is that the spreading of the ‘traces’ ended about then, followed by decline, with the defeat and dismemberment of the Ottoman empire and the occupation of much of the Middle East by European powers. However the Ottoman capitulation, in the Armistice of Mudros, did not occur until October 1918, and the Caliphate was not abolished until 1924.

So we have at last found something like a ‘prophecy of 1917’ in the writings of Abdu’l-Baha, but it was written after the fact, it refers to the fulfillment of the Islamic, not the Bahai dispensation, and from the date alone cannot have been the source of what True wrote in her 1914 article.

Conclusion
The search for a substantial source of True’s account has turned up evidence that Abdu’l-Baha may have said something like “The time is two years hence, when only a spark will set aflame the whole of Europe” at Sacramento in 1912, although there is no Persian source for this so it is just a pilgrim’s note.soldier_postcard But I have found no substantial source for the second part of this, “By 1917 kingdoms will fall and cataclysms will rock the earth,” being uttered in 1912: it is not even a pilgrim’s note, for with pilgrim’s notes we know the date and circumstances, who was the interpreter, and who is saying “this is what I heard.”

~~Sen McGlinn
Short link to this page: http://tinyurl.com/Bahai1917
Even shorter: http://wp.me/pcgF5-gx
[updated March 4, 2009: adding North Shore Review text]
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9 Responses to “1917 and all that”

  1. muslimsperspective said

    I like reading your articles very much. They’re really interesting and thought provoking, and the graphics/lay-out of this blog is great. It seems like people in every religious community get caught up in “prophecy fulfillment” at one time or another. The smaller the group, the more easy it is to create a “group think” mentality.

  2. The American Bahai community in particular has these periodic fads for an optimistic type of end-of-the-worldism, which are quite similar to end-of-the-world fads in American Christian sects. They reflect the strong millennialist streak in American religiosity rather than Bahai teachings. Being small does make group-think more seductive, but another factor is that the community consists largely of converts, each of whom imports various ideas about religion into their understanding of the Bahai Faith. If you get a lot of people from the same background entering, they can reinforce their own peculiar mix of old teachings and new: early Islam faced the same issue with Jewish converts. The solution is to go back to the scriptures and examine ideas critical, but also to get a mix of people from many different cultural and religious backgrounds: progressives and conservatives, Jews and Jains, peasants and professors.

    The Bahai scriptures and the ideas of its founding fathers – Baha’u’llah, Abdu’l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi – are a lot more practical, intelligent (and progressive) than those of some Bahais; but there are sensible Bahais and whacky ones, Bahais who know a lot about their religion and others who just know what someone told them. This is a great proof of the unity of religions, because Christianity and Islam are just the same :-)

  3. fraidoon said

    “If you get a lot of people from the same background entering, they can reinforce their own peculiar ”

    yes Mr.Sen, but in this case we have to see who was really leading them in to their “peculiar”,

    when Abdu’l Baha himself claim(and only claim with no founding) that he has said such, which by your search and finding non of those words or even close to those words has been noted by any one, not even persian translators , than why you blame people or Ms.True? he is the one spreading it.

    As far as of why prophecies to many people is important and event of 1335 and conversion of it to 1917,firstly, God has said in Bible:
    “when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously, you need not be afraid of him.” Deuteronomy 18/22

    there is clear and no doubt in 1917 God word By prophet Danial came to pass, when President Woodrow Wilson calls for “peace without victory” in Europe on January 22 1917, and start ending the war and began peace by getting involve in war, which completion of this operation was Nov 1918, which , in spite of many claim,fact is non of the Bahai prophet predicted what exactly going to happen on 1917,neither any of them predicted the 1914 WW1(as you found )how ever as you know Abdu’l Baha did have predictions, at least one which is noted that US does not enter to the war in WW1 , which that DID NOT came to pass and US did enter to the war, therefore 1917 put Danial as God prophet and unfortunately for Bahaies put Abdulbah in the category of false prophet for sure. God words are accurate and is not lie, 1290 is not 1286-7 and 1917 was day of great peace .

    Since WW1 was called great war, therefore peace of this war also was literally great peace, so we see it is in line with great peace prophecy in Danial 12:12.

    and most significant of all,bringing attention to message of Quran and Islam to whom have doubt if it is from God or not, which God way of saying to world Importance of masseg in Quran which people should obey as great gift of GOD to humanity.

    “say: Allah has spoken the truth, therefore follow the religion of Ibrahim, the upright one; and he was not one of the polytheists”3/95

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1917

  4. Sen said

    Your logic escapes me entirely. In 1914 Corine True attributed to Abud’l-Baha the words, “by 1917 kingdoms will fall and cataclysms will rock the earth.” (The North Shore Review, September 26, 1914). As you yourself have said, there is no record of these words from Abdu’l-Baha, either in Persian or English. Yet you somehow conclude that “he [Abdu'l-Baha] is the one spreading it.” Surely the evidence is, that Corinne True spread it? There may have been other and previous sources, but True is the source from which the story has reached us. But as I state in my article, the differences between True’s version and Masson’s version (“Before 1917 kingdoms will be annihilated, cataclysms will rock the earth..”) suggest that there was some earlier version from which they both drew their information. You are free to speculate that Abdu’l-Baha said something like this; all I can report is that I have found no evidence for it.

    As you indicate, many people at the time were reading the 1335 prophecy as referring to 1917, and this seems to me most likely to be the source of the words that Masson and True attribute to Abdu’l-Baha. The Christian interpretation was adopted by Kheirella and MacNutt in their book Beha ‘U’llah, published around 1900. The Knobloch pilgrim notes also have the date 1917 as the fulfilment of Daniel 12:12, but they say they heard this from Mirza Assad Ullah, NOT from Abdu’l-Baha.

    Your point about the spread of the message of Islam by 1917 is a valid one, and is in line with what Abdu’l-Baha says, in in Ma’ideh Asmani vol 9 page 22:

    O Servant of God! The 1335 years begin from the time of the hejira of his Holiness the Apostle Muhammad, the elect, blessing and peace be upon him, for in that period the spreading of his ineffable traces, exalted and sublime, from the Word of God, was accomplished.

    Since the Islamic calendar begins with the Hejira, this points to the year 1335 of the Islamic calendar, which is 1917. But this is quite different to showing that Abdu’l-Baha said anything like “by 1917 kingdoms will fall and cataclysms will rock the earth,” or for that matter, “1917 was day of great peace.” For that, as I said, I’ve found no evidence at all.

    I have read a story that Abdu’l-Baha said that the United States would not enter the first world war. I do not know whether it is genuine, and I cannot remember where I read it. If it was genuine, it would most probably be found in one of the volumes of Tablets of Abdu’l-Baha Abbas, but I have searched those and have not found it. So I assume for now that it is another piece of oral hearsay.

    Abu’l-Baha’s genuine writings are quite voluminous, and many are translated into English, here:
    http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/ab/
    If you really want to know what Abdu’l-Baha thought, read these.

    If you want a case study in how unreliable oral traditions are, in any religious community, study the Bahai hearsay about Abdu’l-Baha. As you can see from the various articles on my blog:
    http://senmcglinn.wordpress.com/tag/bahai-lore/
    only a very small proportion of the stories that are handed on from person to person can be relied on, however trustworthy and admirable the transmitters (Corinne True for example), may be.

  5. fraidoonv said

    Sen wrote:” You are free to speculate that Abdu’l-Baha said something like this; all I can report is that I have found no evidence for it.”

    I thank you for your respond ,I always read your articles ,and in many case they bringing new aspect to many subjects and they have been very useful, how ever on this Issue we need clear few things out together.

    1-we both do agree what Mrs. True said there is no base for it yet and for now she can blame of spreading baseless. But what about words like “war in Europe, the Books of Revelation or of Daniel,or what is to come in two years” which is divine plan and has been recorded in Makatib volume 3 P12 in Farsi(I don’t know if there is in English)which contradict with what was said and recorded on Oct 8 in KHATABAT .

    2-Part of your say in this article full of contradiction and does not make sense to me , you said :

    “One possibility is that she had access to the account in the San Francisco Bulletin that Abdu’l-Baha refers to in the Tablets of the Divine Plan. There were in fact two, printed on October 12 and 13, 1912. Unfortunately neither mentions looming war in Europe, the Books of Revelation or of Daniel, what is to come in two years, or the date 1917. However the reporter, John D. Barry, says in both accounts, that while he was speaking to Abdu’l-Baha, there was always someone recording what was said. So it could be that Abdu’l-Baha did speak on these topics to the reporter, and later thought that these words had been published in the Bulletin, and that the notes which were taken by the Bahais in some way reached True.”

    you must got hold of Sanfrancisco bulletin , the part I don’t understand is: are these words were found in that paper dated Oct 12 1912 or not, if not than how could True seek them from that paper and spread it?

    3- Abdul Baha predicting US does not entering the WWI for sure is not hearsay, it is either in Makatib I read or in one of khatabat.I will search and I let you know.

    THANKS

  6. Sen said


    > But what about words like “war in Europe, the Books of Revelation or of Daniel,
    > or what is to come in two years” which is divine plan and has been recorded in Makatib volume 3 P12 in Farsi..

    I have translated these words from the Persian source in my posting above:

    In the days when I was in America, I cried out in every meeting and called the people to promote universal peace. I explicitly said, “The continent of Europe is like an arsenal, susceptible to a single spark, and this is near at hand in the coming years. After two years, that which is mentioned in the Book of the Revelation of John and the Book of Daniel will be fulfilled.” And so it was. This report was included in the San Francisco Bulletin, dated 12 October 1912. Refer to it …

    However this was written on April 1, 1916, so it cannot be the source for True’s article, which appeared in September 1914. And it doesn’t specify 1917, or support True’s report that he said “Before 1917 kingdoms will fall and cataclysms will rock the earth. Then all nations shall be as one faith, all men as brothers, and these fruitless strifes and ruinous wars shall pass away and the most great peace shall come; and man shall not glory in this, that he loves his country, but rather in that he loves his kind.”


    > Part of your say in this article full of contradiction and does not make sense to me , you said :
    > “One possibility is that she had access to the account in the San Francisco Bulletin

    You are right, that was not clear. This was a possibility that I examined, and rejected for the reasons that follow. I’ve rewritten that section:

    One possibility to check is that she might have had access to the account in the San Francisco Bulletin that Abdu’l-Baha refers to in the Tablets of the Divine Plan. There were in fact two, printed on October 12 and 13, 1912. Unfortunately neither mentions looming war in Europe …

    Note that this also means that the later reference, by Abdu’l-Baha in the Tablets of the Divine Plan, is also incorrect. The report was not “included in the San Francisco Bulletin, dated 12 October 1912″ as he says. Or at least not in the pages that were made available to me. This suggests that there was another source in circulation among the Bahais, possibly another account of the same meeting between the Bulletin reporter and Abdu’l-Baha. It might be fuller version of the same report as was published in the Bulletin, and so was confused with the published version.

  7. Fraidoon said

    you have said:
    ” The report was not “included in the San Francisco Bulletin, dated 12 October 1912″ as he says. Or at least not in the pages that were made available to me.”

    We know for sure San Francisco Bulletin was bought by another company in 1930, is it possible you are looking at wrong archive ?
    would you be able provide link the San Francisco Bulletin or display picture of date 12 1912 of this paper on your article ?
    Thanks

  8. Sen said

    Sorry Fraidoon, the scan of the newspaper report was provided to me by a colleague, who had found it for another project. I didn’t keep the image, in order to avoid accidentally sharing what was not mine to share, I just read the text and used a corner of the page to illustrate my blog and confirm, for anyone who might be interested in the future, which page I had been looking at. As I understand it, the other project includes a republication of the relevant newspaper reports, on the centenary of Abdu’l-Baha’s visit to San Francisco. So in 18 months or so, you and I both will be able to purchase good quality copies.

    As I recall, the scan I saw included the name and date of the newspaper at the top of the page, so a mistake there is not possible. It is however possible that the “Bulletin” mentioned in the Tablets of the Divine Plan (سانفرانسيسکو بوليتن ) is a mistake, and the report was in the Examiner, or one of the other papers. That is, “bulletin” might not be the proper name of the paper, but rather a generic term for news publications. But I doubt it – there was a perfectly good generic term in Persian, روزنامه , if that was what Abdu’l-Baha meant. This too will be cleared up, once all the newspaper reports mentioning Abdu’l-Baha have been republished.

  9. dale ramsdell said

    Reporters are notorious for not getting everything right. Therefore, they cannot be relied upon as sources for Sacred Text.
    So much focus on details such as this, while interesting and have their place, sometimes distract our vision from the Sun of Truth shining for all to see. By this I mean that only the efforts of the seeker, or the seeking itself and the exercise of that capacity will ever allow someone to behold His Beauty. Even as Christ said, before His crucifixion: “Beholdest thou not the Son of Man seated on the right hand of power and might?” Few beheld their Lord when He was right in front of them. The same was true for Muhammad, the Bab, and Baha’u’llah

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