Mrs. Ruth White was an influential and a devoted Baha’i. She met Abdu’l Baha in Boston in 1912, and who twice visited him shortly before his death in Haifa, became an enthusiastic admirer and disciple of the Master. When ‘Abdu’l Baha died in November, 1921, a cable signed by the sister of Abdu’l Baha was received in America in January, 1922, stating that Shoghi Efendi had been appointed in the Will as “Guardian of the Cause and Head of the House of Justice.” This news came to Mrs. White and other in America “like a thunder bolt out of a blue sky,” for they had never heard Abdu’l Baha say anything about appointing a successor. After four weeks a typed copy of the Will was received in America, undated and unsigned. As Mrs. White studied this document she eventually came to realize that it contained laws which, in her opinion, would change completely the Baha’i teaching. Of these she mentions the following: (1)
The appointment of a continual line of successors or popes for a thousand years who are to control man’s conscience….
These successors are to be supreme dictators over the House of Justice
The taxes….which were to be paid to the House of Justice are to be paid to Shoghi Efendi.
There was to be no organization of the religion itself, and no paid officials or priest- craft, yet despite this the Baha’is, at the dictation of Shoghi Effendi, have incorporated the Baha’i Religion and are trying to control it through a more bigoted priest-craft than almost any other in existence.”
As time passed Mrs. White became convinced that this alleged Will could not be authentic. She therefore requested Mr. Holley and Mr. Mills, the chief men in the American Baha’i Administration, to submit a photographic copy of the Persian original to an expert and get his opinion. They did not dc: this. So Mrs. White herself, at great personal expense and trouble, went to England in 1928 and succeeded in acquiring a photographic copy of the Will, and gave it to a recognized expert to examine. While in England she discovered that there “the administration of Shoghi Effendi has brought chaos to the Baha’i Cause. Lady Bloomfield(2)…..said there was practically no longer a Baha’i Cause in England,”(3) The handwriting expert for the British Museum, Dr. C. Ainsworth Mitchell, after long and careful study, on June 3, 1930 wrote a detailed report to Mrs. White, in which he stated: “A minute comparison of the authenticated writing [of Abdu’l Baha] with the writing on every page of the alleged will….has failed to detect in any part of the will the characteristics of the writing of ‘Abdu’l Baha.” (4)
In four of her books and pamphlets (5) Mrs. White professed complete devotion to Abdu’l-Baha, but brought a most scathing indictment against his grandson and the Baha’i Administration. Later, however, it seems that Mrs. White transferred her devotion from Abdu’l-Baha to a man in India named Mehr Baba, who had a considerable following as a result of maintaining unbroken silence since the year 1925, and in 1957 she wrote enthusiastically about visiting her new hero. It is reported that in 1969 Mrs. White, at the age of 100 went to India “to take Mehr Baba’s Darshan.” (6)
Regarding Mrs. White’s efforts to prove that the Will was a forgery, Shoghi Effendi wrote as follows: (7)
“The agitation provoked by a deluded woman who strove diligently both in the United States and in England to demonstrate the unauthenticity of the Charter….and even to induce the civil authorities of Palestine to take legal action in the matter – a request which to her great chagrin was curtly refused as well as the defection of one of the earliest pioneers and founders of the Faith in Germany whom that same woman had so tragically misled, produced no effect whatsoever.”
It is evident that whatever the merits of the case were, the civil authorities of Palestine would be unable to take any action on a Will which had not been probated. Accordingly, the Baha’i administration, unwilling to submit the Will for a probate, and unhappy that anyone should undertake an “independent investigation of truth” as to the authenticity of the Will, did nothing but denounce the investigator and ignore her charges .
While some like Mrs. White had their doubts as to the authenticity of the Will, there were others who accepted the Will as authentic, but were unhappy about the way in which the Guardian used the authority which the Will had bestowed upon him. Among these were two devoted Baha’is, one an American and the other an Iranian. As their story is instructive it will be told in some detail.
Mr. Hermann Zimmer (8) one of the pioneers of the Baha’i Faith in Germany, proved his devotion to the Cause by going at his own expense, and at the risk of his life, to Berlin during World War II, in an attempt to have the ban on Baha’is removed, but he did not succeed. He has stated that his friend Mr. Wilhelm Herrigel, also one of the Baha’i pioneers in Germany, was not “misled” by Mrs. White, as Shoghi Effendi stated, but came to the same conclusion by independent study of the evidence, and as a result, formed the “Free Baha’is” with a number of members who rebelled against the Guardian and the Baha’i Organization. Mr. Zimmer also is opposed to what he calls “Baha’i totalitarianism,” and has written extensively against it. (Letters from Mr. Zimmer to J. Anthony Sistrom).
The Baha’i Religion and its Enemy the Baha’i Organization, by Ruth White, The Tuttle Company, Rutland, Vermont 1929.
Author of The Chosen Highway, Baha’i Publishing Trust.
‘Abdu’l Baha and the Promised Age, by Ruth White, 1927, Appendix, p. 17.
‘Abdu’l Baha’s Alleged Will is Fraudulent, by Ruth White, 1930, p. 16.
Some years later Mrs. White wrote yet another book, Baha’i Leads Out of the Labyrinth, 1944, which is similar to ‘Abdu’l Baha and the Promised Age.
Letter from Mollie Lux, Mehr Spiritual Center, Myrtle Beach, S.C., to J. Anthony Sistrom. It is reported that Mehr Baba died in 1969.
God Passes By, p. 362.
Zimmer, Hermann. A Fraudulent Testament Devalues the Baha’i Religion Into Political Shoghism, 132. Translated by Jeanine Blackwell rev. by Karen Gasser and Gordon Campbell. Waiblingen/Stuttgart, Germany: World Union for Universal Religion and Universal Peace, 1973. Bjorland, p. 153 Collins 12.142.
Works of Mrs. Ruth White
White, Ruth. ‘Abdu’l Baha and the Promised Age xv, 224. New York: Ruth White (Also New York: J. J. Little and Ives), 1927. Bjorland p. 152 Collins 12.130.
White, Ruth. ‘Abdu’l Baha’s Alleged Will is Fraudulent: An Appendix to The Baha’i Religion and Its Enemy, the Baha’i Organization. 21. Rutland, Vt.: The Tuttle Co., 1930. Bjorland p. 152 Collins 12.131.
White, Ruth. ‘Abdu’l Baha’s Questioned Will and Testament. 129. Beverly Hills: White, 1946. Bjorland p.152 Collins 12.132.
White, Ruth. Baha’i Leads Out of the Labyrinth. 259. New York: Universal Publishing Co., 1944. Bjorland p. 152 Collins 12.133.
White, Ruth. Correspondence between the High Commissioner of Palestine and Ruth White, Concerning the Alleged Will and Testament of Sir ‘Abdu’l Baha Abbas. 11. Los Angeles, Calif.: White, 1932. Bjorland, p.153 Collins 12.135.
White, Ruth. Is the Baha’i Organization the Enemy of the Baha’i Religion? An Appendix to ‘Abdu’l Baha and the Promised Age. 22. New York: White, 1929. Bjorland, p. 153 Collins 12.136. 7 . White, Ruth. The Baha’i Religion and Its Enemy, the Baha’i Organization. 233. Rutland, Vt. : The Tuttle Co., 1929. Bjorland, p. 153 Collins 12.134.
Works of Zimmer Hermann
Zimmer, Hermann. A Fraudulent Testament Devalues the Baha’i Religion Into Political Shoghism. 132. Translated by Jeanine Blackwell rev. by Karen Gasser and Gordon Campbell. Waiblingen/Stuttgart, Germany: World Union for Universal Religion and Universal Peace, 1973. Bjorland, p. 153 Collins 12.142.
Zimmer, Hermann. Die Wiederkunft Christi: von der die Prophezeiungen sprechen (The return of Christ, concerning which the prophecies speak), Waiblingen, Freie Baha’i, 1986, 68 pp