A Tablet of Abdu’l-Baha to the Spiritual Assembly of Ishqabad: A Passage about Shaykh Muhammad-Ali Qa’ini

What follows is my provisional translation (in other words, not official or authorized; see here for more) of a passage from a Tablet of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to the Spiritual Assembly of ‘Ishqábád, the original text of which has been published in Makátíb-i-Ḥaḍrat-i-‘Abdu’l-Bahá, vol. 1, pp. 33637. An authorized translation of roughly the first half of this Tablet has been published in Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, no. 97. The provisional translation below corresponds to most of the second half of the Tablet. 

It hath become apparent from reports that the government’s inspector of education hath passed through that land. He was not as pleased with the arrangement and order of the Bahá’í school as he ought to have been, and he wrote an article in the newspapers of Tbilisi. If this is so, it would make ‘Abdu’l-Bahá profoundly sad, for my wish is such that the school in ‘Ishqábád become renowned in all the regions of the world for the quality of its orderliness, the advancement of its young pupils, and the excellence of their conduct. That learned scholar versed in various disciplines, the honorable Shaykh Muḥammad-‘Alí [Qá’iní]—upon him be the Glory of God—is indeed a worthy teacher. The true friends must always show him absolute kindness and treat him with complete consideration, that with the utmost comfort and serenity of heart, and in a state of happiness and contentment, he may instruct the children and those newly born into the rose-garden of beauty.* This would bring joy to this prisoner, inasmuch as the gladness and delight of this wanderer are confined to these sorts of matters—the achievement of progress, the obtainment of gracious outpourings, and the mastery of children over sciences and arts.


* In 1906, deepening classes for Bahá’í children were expanded beyond Palestine and Iran into ‘Ishqábád, which had a significant Bahá’í population at the time, due mostly to the severe persecution of the Bahá’ís in Iran. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had sent Shaykh Muḥammad-‘Alí Qá’iní (1861/62–1924) to ‘Ishqábád and asked him to take charge of the education of Bahá’í children there, which he did. He later expanded that initiative to include classes for the Bahá’í youth when he began teaching at the ‘Ishqábád Bahá’í schools for boys and girls, the building for which was adjacent to the Bahá’í House of Worship there. At this point in the Tablet, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is alluding to the fact that Shaykh Muḥammad-‘Alí Qá’iní had been dismissed from his post, and is encouraging the Spiritual Assembly of ‘Ishqábád to reinstate him. It is unclear why he was dismissed or whether he was ever reinstated (according to his grandson, Naeem Nabiliakbar).

A typescript of the original Persian text of this passage appears below. 

از قرار معلوم مفتّش معارف دولت بآنصفحات مرور نموده ترتيب و انتظام مکتب بهائيان را چنانکه بايد و شايد نه پسنديده و در جرايد تفليس مقاله‌ئی نگاشته اگر چنين است عبدالبهاء را حزنی عظيم است زيرا مرا آرزو چنان که مکتب عشق‌آباد در جميع اقطار عالم بحسن انتظام و ترقّی اطفال و حسن آداب مشهور آفاق گردد جناب عالم دانا و واقف بر علوم شتّی حضرت شيخ محمّد علی عليه بهاء اللّه فی الحقيقه سزاوار معلّمی است بايد احبّای حقيقی همواره نوازش کامل و رعايت تامّه از ايشان بنمايند تا در نهايت راحت و سکون قلب و سرور و خشنودی بتعليم اطفال و نورسيدگان گلشن جمال بپردازند و سبب سرور اين مسجون گردند زيرا فرح و شادمانی اين آواره محصور در اين گونه امورات و آن حصول ترقّيات و فيوضات و ملکه اطفال در علوم و فنون است