The Secret of Divine Civilization and the Development of Iran

Therefore, The Secret identifies the truth of religion with historicity, correspondence with the requirements of time, and enhancement of unity, science and wisdom. What proves the truth of Moses is the fact that he transformed a group of oppressed and weak slaves into a majestic civilization that became the center of science and philosophy. Likewise, what vindicates the truth of Muhammad is not a list of superstitious and irrational miracles, but rather it is the unification of various scattered and hostile tribes into a global and glorious civilization. Thus, liberation of Iran is dependent on rejection of clerical supremacy and embracing the creative spirit of all religions including Islam in accordance with the requirements of reason and time. After discussing the backwardness of Europe in medieval times and its culture of prejudice and religious intolerance, ‘Abdu’l-Baha writes in his A Traveler’s Narrative: But when they removed these differences, persecution, and bigotries out of their midst, and proclaimed the equal rights of all subjects and the liberty of men's consciences, the lights of glory and power arose and shone from the horizons of that kingdom in such wise that those countries made progress in every direction; and whereas the mightiest monarchy of Europe had been servile to and abased before the smallest government of Asia, now the great states of Asia are unable to oppose the small states of Europe. These are effectual and sufficient proofs that the conscience of man is sacred and to be respected; and that liberty thereof produces widening of ideas, amendment of morals, improvement of conduct, disclosure of the secrets of creation, and manifestation of the hidden verities of the contingent world. 15 Rejection of Clerical Supremacy within an Islamic Context The Secret of Divine Civilization is written anonymously where the author is assumed to be a reformist Muslim. Writing social critique in an anonymous way was the norm of the time in Iran. Malkum Khan called his work “Kitabchiyi Ghaybiyyih” (Ghaybiyyih Booklet), where Ghaybiyyih meant anonymous. Akhund Zadih, introduced his own book “Three Letters” as a work that is written by an Indian traveler which then is translated by Akhund Zadih into Turkish. The life and writings of both Aqa Khan Kirmani and Jamal al-Din Asad Abadi (Al-Afghani) are filled with opportunism, dissimulation, lies and contradictions. However, there is a significant difference between the anonymous writings of ‘Abdu’l- Baha and the works of these authors. The reason that these authors wrote anonymously was that they were afraid that by declaring their real belief their life, property and station may be jeopardized. On the contrary, ‘Abdu’l-Baha day and night in most explicit ways identified himself as the most devoted follower of Baha’u’llah and actively defended and promoted the Baha’i Faith. Since he wanted to help Iran develop, and since he knew that by identifying the real author of his works addressing the development of Iran, Iranians, influenced by the prejudiced clerics, would never read his work, therefore, he concealed his name in order to advance the reform of Iran. At the same time, those who were perceptive could discover the identity of the author from the contents of the book. Even the title of the book, Asrar al-Ghaybiyyiah Li-Asbabi al-madaniyyah implicitly hints at the identity of the author. Asrar al-Ghaybiyyiah means ghaybiyyah secrets. But while anonymous is one of the meanings of the word ghaybiyyah, it also means divine. Thus the literal translation of the full title is divine secrets of the causes of civilization. ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s The Secret was written both anonymously and through divine inspiration, for it was written by the command of Baha’u’llah.

15 ‘Abdu’l-Baha, A Traveler’s Narrative. Wilmette: Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1982, P. 91.

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