Mírzá Áqá Ján

Following the ascension of Bahá'u'lláh, and as a result of Muhammad-'Alí's rebellion,* several outstanding teachers of the Faith, including some of Bahá'u'lláh's companions, broke His Covenant. They rose against 'Abdu'l-Bahá and created great havoc within the Bahá'í community. But the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh was firmly based and many heroic souls, devoted and faithful, rallied around 'Abdu'l-Bahá to defend the Covenant against the onslaught of the unfaithful.

Among all the companions of Bahá'u'lláh, Mírzá Áqá Ján was the only one who had been in close association with Him and was privileged to be His amanuensis. Yet in spite of this great honour bestowed upon him, his pride and ambition prevented him from standing firm in the Covenant, and he opposed 'Abdu'l-Bahá and created much confusion in the minds of Bahá'ís.

Dr. Yúnis Khán-i-Afrúkhtih, a devoted believer during the ministry of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, who served the Master as secretary for several years, has left a most interesting account of the events which took place during his nine years of service in 'Akká. The following is a translation of an extract from his memoirs concerning Mírzá Áqá Ján's later years in 'Akká, around 1897:

...At the time of the passing of Bahá'u'lláh, Mírzá Áqá Ján, who had fallen from grace, was living an ignominious life. However, as a result of Bahá'u'lláh's generosity, he had a reasonable income. The Covenant-breakers had secretly resolved to take his life. Probably the reason for this was either

* The reader may consult God Passes By, pp. 244-51, by Shoghi Effendi, for information about this situation.

to seize his properties or because Bahá'u'lláh had not been pleased with his conduct towards the end of His life. Mírzá Áqá Ján discovered their plot and went immediately to 'Abdu'l-Bahá, begged forgiveness for his misdeeds and took refuge in His house...

Later, the Covenant-breakers decided to take advantage of Mírzá Áqá Ján's situation to create trouble and mischief [for 'Abdu'l-Bahá]...They succeeded in establishing a secret link with him and urged him to help them in stirring up sedition among believers. They maintained communication with him and, over a long period, devised a plan to create discord and disturbance within the community. Since Mírzá Áqá Ján had been Bahá'u'lláh's amanuensis and had recorded the words of God as they were revealed, he was induced to arise and himself lay claim to divine revelation.

As a result of their promptings, Mírzá Áqá Ján, this ill-fated man, worked for a long time to prepare some writings. In these he claimed that in a dream he had attained the presence of Bahá'u'lláh and had become the recipient of divine revelation and inspiration. These writings contained passages which invoked the wrath of God upon certain believers and were intended to be delivered to them.

Mírzá Áqá Ján even claimed that he had received a Tablet from heaven written in green ink, in which he was commanded to save the Faith from the hands of infidels. The false accusations and calumnies with which he charged 'Abdu'l-Bahá, the Centre of the Covenant, were much worse than those which Covenant-breakers had already brought against Him. It was arranged that on a certain day, which should be the time of revolt, Mírzá Áqá Ján would hand all these papers written in the same style as his 'Revelation writings' to the Covenant-breakers who would then have them transcribed, as in the days of Bahá'u'lláh, in the handwriting of Mírzá Majdi'd-Dín* and disseminated among the Bahá'ís.1


* He was the son of Mírzá Músá, Áqáy-i-Kalím, Bahá'u'lláh's faithful brother, who for a time transcribed the Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, but later became 'the most redoubtable adversary of 'Abdu'l-Bahá'. He was a staunch supporter of Muhammad-'Alí, the arch-breaker of the Covenant.

1. Dr. Yúnis Khán, Khátirát-i-Nuh-Sáliy-i-'Akká, pp. 89-90. For an account of the author's life see The Bahá'í World, vol. XII, pp. 679-81.
Dr. Yúnis Khán, in his memoirs, goes on to explain that the Covenant-breakers had decided to put their plans into operation on the day of the anniversary of the ascension of Bahá'u'lláh. They knew that all the believers would then be assembled outside the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh, and so they planned with Mírzá Áqá Ján that he should speak openly against 'Abdu'l-Bahá in that gathering, in order to create tension and unrest. At the same time the Covenant-breakers made arrangements for a certain Yahyá Tábúr Áqásí to be present on that day. He was a high-ranking government official hostile to 'Abdu'l-Bahá but friendly towards them. His function was to remain out of sight until the expected disturbances had broken out, when he and his men would appear on the scene and take action against the believers. He would then send a report against 'Abdu'l-Bahá to government authorities in Constantinople and request His banishment from the Holy Land.

The following is Dr. Yúnis Khán's description of his first meeting with Mírzá Áqá Ján and of the events which took place on the anniversary of the ascension of Bahá'u'lláh, when a great tragedy was quietly and effectively diverted:

...On most occasions when we were summoned to the presence of 'Abdu'l-Bahá in His reception-room, I noticed that an old man, short in stature, with a white beard and brown complexion, arrived in the room after everyone else. First he would prostrate himself at the threshold of the room ['Abdu'l-Bahá's], then he would enter, bow to the waist and, when 'Abdu'l-Bahá acknowledged him, sit at the threshold. I was curious to know who this person was and several times it occurred to me that when I left the room I should inquire of the resident believers as to his identity. For some time, however, I forgot to ask. This was due to the fact that we were so intoxicated by the wine of the Master's bounteous utterances that when we left Him we were not in a mood to talk to each other.

One day I was sitting [in the presence of 'Abdu'l-Bahá] very close to the entrance of the room. I saw the old man arriving.


At first he prostrated himself at the entrance to the corridor, then approached the room and again prostrated himself at its threshold. He then entered, bowed low before 'Abdu'l-Bahá and stood there until 'Abdu'l-Bahá indicated to him to be seated, whereupon he sat with downcast eyes near the door...By this time I was very curious to know who this person was, and why I had not seen him among the believers in the town.

When we all left the presence of the Master, I noticed that this man went into the inner section of the house. I asked someone about him and was told that he was Mírzá Áqá Ján...I questioned my friends further, asking what Mírzá Áqá Ján was doing here. Is he not, I asked, the person who was rejected by Bahá'u'lláh and whom the Covenant-breakers were intent upon murdering? They told me that he had now taken refuge in the house of the Master. In those days I often thought about Mírzá Áqá Ján, who had fallen from grace, and wondered what would happen to him in the end. How little did I know then that, in a fortnight's time, he would play an important and unforgettable role in the arena of the Cause and that I myself would be one of the spectators.2

In his detailed narratives, Dr. Yúnis Khán describes how on the night of the anniversary of the passing of Bahá'u'lláh, as in previous years, all the believers in the area gathered together in 'Akká and, before dawn, set out for the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh accompanied by 'Abdu'l-Bahá. In that holy place they prayed until sunrise, and then retired to the pilgrims' quarters at Bahjí.

Here is Dr. Yúnis Khán's account of what transpired that day:

...After lunch we were seated for a short while...We noticed that the Covenant-breakers were moving actively around us and that there were also a number of strangers. It was not very long before we learned of their plans to create mischief.

Having had afternoon tea, everyone was on the point of going to the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh, when we heard that


2. Dr. Yúnis Khán, Khátirát-i-Nuh-Sáliy-i-'Akká, pp. 54-6.
Mírzá Áqá Ján wished to speak and that there were chairs placed for us in front of the Mansion.

This old man who was always prostrating himself at the feet of 'Abdu'l-Bahá was now standing on a stool so that he might be seen by all...As he spoke I noticed that he was far from coherent and I waited to catch the import of his words, but eventually became frustrated...I could see that he was filled with fear and was trembling, but I could hear only a few words now and then, such as: 'As I prostrated myself, I fell asleep...' 'The Blessed Beauty told me...' 'This letter in green ink was handed to me...' 'Why are you sitting idle?' 'Why, why?' Having abstained from sleep the night before, and having now to listen to such ridiculous talk, I became impatient and left. Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Káshání, a resident believer, protested to Mírzá Áqá Ján and soon there was an uproar.3

Dr. Yúnis Khán adds that just then one of the believers informed 'Abdu'l-Bahá of the incident. As soon as 'Abdu'l-Bahá appeared, Mírzá Áqá Ján ran towards the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh and went inside. A certain Mírzá 'Alí-Akbar, a steadfast believer, immediately ran after him and was able to obtain from Mírzá Áqá Ján the writings which were tied in bundles around his waist and hidden inside his cloak. These papers, which were handed to 'Abdu'l-Bahá, were written in the same style as Bahá'u'lláh's writings, contained many passages attacking 'Abdu'l-Bahá, and were prepared for distribution among the believers.

As a result of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's presence the Bahá'ís were calmed within a few minutes. Mírzá Áqá Ján went to the Covenant-breakers, and the government officials who were standing behind the window of Mírzá Muhammad-'Alí's room found no opportunity to carry out their sinister designs. After this event Mírzá Áqá Ján threw in his lot with the Covenant-breakers and became one of their ablest supporters. He died in 1901.


3. Dr. Yúnis Khán, Khátirát-i-Nuh-Sáliy-i-'Akká, pp. 84-5.