Covenant Breakers

The American Bahá’í community was suffering from three ailments during those early years of the century: covenant breaking, the cult of the individual and racism. The first problem was due to Abraham Kheiralla's. He learned of the Bahá’í faith in Cairo, then went to America in 1892 to teach the new faith, settling in Chicago. Kheiralla was an effective teacher and, together with Thornton Chase, the first American Bahá’í , he taught, raised up the community of a few hundred spiritually enlightened souls. Kheiralla’s teachings, unfortunately, included many of his own beliefs, including reincarnation, dream interpretation, and occultism. This great success, however, quickly inflated Kheiralla’s already overlarge ego and resulted in him hoping to split the leadership of the Bahá’í world with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. From Kheiralla’s viewpoint, since he was so successful in America, it seemed only right that he be the one to guide and administer the faith there, while ‘Abdu’l-Bahá could lead the rest of the world's Bahá’í community. Meeting ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Haifa in 1898 was a huge blow to Kheiralla because it became obvious that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá would have no part in his desire for leadership. That frustration led him to Mírzá Muhammad-Ali, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá's half-brother and Arch breaker of Bahá’u’lláh's covenant. Mírzá Muhammad-Ali sent his eldest son Shu’á’u’lláh to America to aid Kheiralla. Kheiralla had written a book which was theoretically about the Faith, but also included his superstitions and mistaken ideas. When ‘Abdu’l-Bahá told him not to publish his book he did so anyway, resulting in a split in the American Bahá’í community.

Earl Redman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 4

For this journey, the Master brought along his fifteen-year-old grandson, Shoghi Effendi. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had purchased Shoghi Effendi long robes and two turbans, one green and one white like his own, for Shoghi Effendi to wear in the West; when these were delivered in Shoghi Effendi dressed himself in them to show ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, he said the Master's eyes shone with pride and pleasure. Ali Yazdi wrote that his good friend 'was in seventh heaven. He had heard so much about America, and he longed to be with the Master as He traveled throughout North America and gave the message. He looked forward with great anticipation to the experience . . . He was extremely happy, and so was I very happy for him. I made him promise to write to me when he got to America, and he said he would . . . When the ship reached Naples, there was a serious problem which spring from the actions of Dr. Amin Fareed, the nephew of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá's wife. Ostensibly one of the Master's secretaries on the journey and a long time teacher of the Faith in America who traveled extensively with Lua Getsinger, Fareed was beginning a career that would lead him to become a Covenant-Breaker. When the Italian health inspectors examined the members of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá's group, they declared that the eyes of three of the party, the secretary, a cook and Shoghi Effendi, were diseased with trachoma and that those three could not continue. They were ordered to return. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spent a full day trying to change the decision, but he was finally forced to sail for America without Shoghi Effendi. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá always believed that Fareed was the root of the problem. Having suggested to the Italian authorities that the party were Turks, with whom the Italians were at war. In her book, The Priceless Pearl, Rúhíyyih Khánum writes that Shoghi Effendi said that Fareed had insisted to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá that Shoghi Effendi be sent home inventing many arguments in support of the Italian doctors. She writes, one can well imagine what heartbreak this brought to a boy of 15, setting out on the first great adventure of his life, how much more Shoghi Effendi, so attached to his grandfather, so excited over the trip on a big boat, the great journey to the West in a day when such long voyages were relatively rare and eventful! Ali Yazdi remembered that Shoghi effendi was heartbroken. When Shoghi Effendi returned to Ramleh, doctors there confirmed that he did not suffer from trachoma. Ali said that Shoghi Effendi grew despondent and lost weight, taking a long time before he regained his normal happy outlook on life.

Earl Redman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 50-52

He came companioned by five devoted servants of the Faith. Three of his entourage, Dr. Amin Fareed, Ahmad Sohrab and Tamaddunu'l-Mulk all later broke the Covenant.

Earl Redman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 195, 204

Ibrahim Kheiralla, who had caused such havoc in the early Bahá’í community, still lived in Chicago. Kheiralla had expected ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to send for him and possibly ask for favors, but the Master, though He left his door open if Kheiralla came in sincerity and humility, refused to have anything to do with him.

Earl Redman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 196

One of those 'unspiritual people' was at that moment a member of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá's party, Dr. Amin Fareed, who had already tried to fraudulently get money out of her [Phoebe Hearst]. It was probably during ‘Abdu’l-Bahá's stay at the Hearst residence that His signet ring disappeared. That theft and some of other activities of Dr. Fareed were described by Marzieh Gail in her book, "Arches of the Years":

‘Abdu’l-Bahá's signet ring disappeared during his Western journey. The Master had confided His loss to Florence and Khan, and named the thief but He did not wish them to speak of it. We in the family always thought that it took place during his stay at the Hacienda . . . Thereafter the Master signed all his tablets instead of using a seal, capitalizing neither abdu'l nor abbas but only Bahá.

Fareed's efforts to destroy the Master (who had seen to his education from childhood) make a page of triple darkness . . . Fareed was capable of whispering to the rich in the United States that although ‘Abdu’l-Bahá needed funds He would not openly accept them, but if they would pass over the money to him, Fareed, he would deliver it to the Master . . . After returning to the Holy Land ‘Abdu’l-Bahá sent Dr. Baghdadi a Tablet, and directed that copies be distributed to every community so that all could read it. The Master wrote here that during His stay in America He had forgiven a certain member of His suite four times, but that He would forgive the man's misdeeds no longer. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá returned to Haifa, He proceeded directly to the room with

His wife, Munirih Khánum, and said in a feeble voice, "Dr. Fareed has ground me down!"

Earl Redman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 228