A BRIEF BIO:
Mirza Ahmad Sohrab was born in the year 1894 (as mentioned in My Baha’i Pilgrimage, page 21), to a family who was already a Baha’i, or had recently embraced the Baha’i faith. Sohrab was born near Esphahan, the village of Isfahan Province, Persia (now Iran). Sohrab’s father Abdu’l-Baghi was the descendent of Prophet Muhammad. Abdu’l-Baghi was a farmer “possessed of broad lands” and also chief dyer of the town. Both sides of Sohrab’s family, his mother and his father, claimed descent from the Imam Husayn, grandson of Prophet Muhammad. His mother died when Sohrab was a few months old, while she herself was still a teenager, and he was taken to live with his maternal grandmother in Isfahan. (Source: My Baha’i Pilgrimage, page 25)
Mirza Ahmad Sohrab hailed from Isfahan, Iran. He immigrated to Acre at the age of 12. After a short stay there he was sent by Sir Abbas Effendi to Port Said, in Egypt, where he worked as a salesman in Sir Abbas Effendi’s son-in-law Mirza Ahmad Yazdi’s store. After several years he proceeded to the United States, and acted as an interpreter to Sir Abbas Effendi’s Baha’i proselytiser Mirza Add-al-Fadl of Gulpaygan. When Sir Abbas Effendi visited the United States in 1912, Mirza Sohrab became part of his entourage, and returned with him to Palestine. During World War I He was Sir Abbas Effendi’s Persian scribe and translator. When the war was over, Sir Abbas Effendi sent him back to the United States as a bearer of the “Divine Plan” drafted by Mirza Ahmad Sohrab, 1947.
HIS SERVICE TO THE BAHA’I FAITH:
He immigrated to Acre at the age of 12. After a short stay there he was sent by Sir Abbas Effendi to Port Said, in Egypt, where he worked as a salesman in Sir Abbas Effendi’s son-in-law Mirza Ahmad Yazdi’s store. After several years he proceeded to the United States, and acted as an interpreter to Sir Abbas Effendi’s Baha’i proselytiser Mirza Abal-Fadl of Gulpaygan. When Sir Abbas Effendi visited the United States in 1912, Mirza Sohrab became part of his entourage, and returned with him to Palestine. During World War I, He was Sir Abbas Effendi’s Persian scribe and translator. When the war was over, Sir Abbas Effendi sent him back to the United States as a bearer of the “Divine Plan” drafted by Mirza Ahmad Sohrab, 1947.
In his publications, the word Mirza which means Mr. is invariably prefixed to his name Ahmad Sohrab. According to him, he was “a descendent of the Prophet Muhammad”. Mirza Sohrab enjoyed the full confidence of Sir Abbas Effendi, with whom, he had been intimately associated as his Persian scribe and translator. He was also very well acquainted the members of Sir Abbas Effendi’s family, including Shoghi Effendi, with whom he was on the best terms. Like other partisans, under pains and penalties of expulsion from the faith, to communicate and associate with the members of Baha’s family excommunicated by Sir Abbas Effendi for their alleged deviation from him as the centre of the covenant, a title to which Sir Abbas Effendi took a fancy, with which he labelled himself, and which, on the strength of the Baha’s own revelation (Materials for the Study of Babi Religion by Prof. Browne P. 111), was exclusive to the god, alone, Baha who himself before the creation of the heaven and the earths that man should worship none save god alone.”
HIS POINT OF DIFFERENCE WITH SHOGHI EFFENDI:
He met Lewis Chanler and his wife during his visit to New York for business purpose. They both felt the need to teach the original teachings of Abdu’l Baha and Baha’u’llah openly and in an accessible manner. Been a translator and secretary to Abdul Baha, he has quotes from Abdul baha and Baha’u’llah emphasizing to make his teachings universal and not to restrict them to any particular faith or give an organizational form to his teachings. They started lectures on this and named their organization as New History Society. They also sent letter to Shoghi Effendi regarding this activity seeking his acknowledgment, blessings and support. Shoghi appreciated their effort but also gently warned them of forming new groups in Baha’i faith. The LSA and NSA of USA and Canada wanted to keep close watch on their activity and try to restrict their mode of teaching as per Baha’i administration. Mirza Ahmad opposed this idea of restricted preaching. Horace Holley, one of the chief Baha’i administrator of USA was the main to confront Mirza Ahmad. He believed Shoghi Effendi as the Guardian but had a question regarding his authority over people of faith. Despite repeated warnings and messages from LSA and NSA they continued. Finally they were excommunicated by Shoghi Effendi in 1939.
In 1941, Allen McDaniel and others, as members of the National Spiritual Assembly, filed suit against Sohrab to try to stop him from using the name Baha’i. This suit was filed in the Supreme Court of New York County. The judge granted a motion to dismiss, stating that “the plaintiffs have no right to a monopoly of the name of a religion. The defendants, who purport to be members of the same religion, have an equal right to use the name of the religion…” The judge mentioned that the complaint could be further amended and the NSA appealed but the Appellate Court affirmed the decision of the lower court. After his excommunication, Sohrab joined forces with other people who opposed Shoghi Effendi. Part of this combination was a court case raised by Qamar Baha’i, Jalal the grandson of Mirza Músa and others in about 1950-1, challenging Shoghi Effendi’s right to carry out major construction work around the Shrine of Baha’u’llah. One of their key witnesses, Nayyir Afnan, died shortly before the case was due to open, and it all came to nothing.
HIS VIEWS REGARDING THE FAITH:
An organized religion is hard, dour, rigid, iron-handed and iron hearted; it is stern, arrogant, coercive and merciless. An administered religion has been, is and ever shall remain an arrested religion; for the premise that a few individuals or a network of individuals are able to organize or administer the spiritual realities of God, is an assumption as false as it is impertinent, and as outlandish as it is sacrilegious. Here is the test of the true religion: Does it unite the minds and hearts of the people in the task of developing a stable society and a humane civilization? Does it make us more tolerant, more sympathetic, more compassionate, more joyous, more sincere, and more loving? If it accomplishes these things, then it is religion, indeed, and it comes straight from the Creator of the Universe”
1. Heart Phantasies, (sometime before 1929), date uncertain.
2. The New Humanity, appeared daily for some time in a Santiago newspaper, (sometime before 1929), date uncertain.
3. Abdu’l Baha in Egypt. New York: J. H. Sears & Co for the New History Foundation, 1929. Approved by the Publishing Committee of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada. Digitally republished, East Lansing, Mi.: H-Baha’i, 2005.
4. `Abdu’l-Bahá in Egypt on Baha’i Library
5. Living Pictures. In the Great Drama of the 19th Century. (with Julie Chanler) New York: The New History Foundation, 132 E 65th St, New York, 1933. Reprinted. H-Baha’i: Lansing, Michigan, 2004.
6. I Heard Him Say. Words of `Abdu’l-Bahá as Recorded by his Secretary. New York: The New History Foundation, 1937. Digitally republished, East Lansing, Mi.: H-Baha’i, 2004.
7. The Bible of Mankind, (ed.) 743 pp., Universal Publishing Co., 132 E 65th St, N.Y., 1939.
8. A Persian Rosary of Nineteen Pearls. 2nd. ed. New York, Caravan of East & West, n.d. [194-?] 3rd. ed. New York, Caravan of East & West, n.d. [195-?] ed., . New York: New History Society, n.d. .
9. `Abdu’l-Bahá’s Grandson: Story of a Twentieth Century Excommunication. New York: Universal Publishing Co for The New History Foundation, 1943. Reprinted. H-Baha’i: Lansing, Michigan, 2004.
10. Brand, Max and Mirza Ahmad Sohrab [libretto Max Brand, and Julie Chanler; Music Max Brand]. The Gate: Scenic Oratorio for Soli, Chorus, and Orchestra in Two Parts (19 Scenes). 61. New York: Associated Music Publishers, 1944.
11. The Story of the Divine Plan. Taking Place during, and immediately following World War I. New York: The New History Foundation, 1947. Digitally republished, East Lansing, Mi.: H-Baha’i, 2004.
12. Ioas, Leroy, Mrs Lewis Stuyvesant [Julie Chanler] Chanler, and Ahmad Sohrab. Three Letters.  leaves. New York: Caravan of East and West, 1954.
13. Living Schools of Religion. Vergilius Form, ed. Ames, Iowa: Littlefield, Adams & Co., 1956. Chapter 19, “The Bahá’í Cause,” by Mirza Ahmad Sohrab (pages 309-14)
14. My Bahá’í Pilgrimage. Autobiography from Childhood to Middle Age. New York: New History Foundation, 1959. Reprinted. H-Baha’i: Lansing, Michigan, 2004.
15. The Song of the Caravan. Another ed. also 1930, New York, The Grayzel Press ed., xii, 410. New York: George Dobsevage for the New History Foundation, 1930.
16. Broken Silence. The Story of Today’s Struggle for Religious Freedom. Published by Universal Publishing Co. New York for The New History Foundation, 1942.