The Life of
Dr. Ibrahim George Kheiralla
Dr. Ibrahim George Kheiralla was born a Christian on November 11, 1849 (Died: 6th March 1929) in the villages of Muhammadun of Mount Lebanon in Syria.
His father died while he was still a small child, and his mother undertook the responsibility of his education, placing him first in the primary schools in the area, and then sending him to the College in Beirut,.
Dr. Kheiralla was educated at the American University College, where, in 1870 he obtained the degree of Bachelor of Science.
He was one of the five original students of the college who were called as the first fruits of the college.
By profession he is known to be a merchant and a trader and the source of the title “Dr” remains quite unknown.
His Acceptance to the Baha’i Faith
In the year 1872 Dr. Kheiralla left Syria and took up his residence in Egypt for a period of about 21 years.
There he came in contact with a merchant from Iran named Hajji Abdu’l-Karim Efendi Tihrani (of Tehran), who was a follower Of (His Holiness) Baha’u’llah, who introduced Dr. Kheiralla to the Baha’i Faith.
The date of his conversion varies in records as between 1890 and 1894. Most of them referring to 1890 while a few call upon the year 1894 (the year in which he wrote a letter to Baha’u’llah and in return got a tablet.)
The mention of conversion of Dr. Khieralla is found as such :-
“Who gave him good tidings of this Most Great Manifestation. At first he did not believe these tidings and began to study the Divine Scriptures with the object of demonstrating there from the falsity of this claim, and he remained an unbeliever for a number of years, until God opened his eyes and he saw the Truth as it is. ”
Then he forwarded a letter of contrition and belief to His Holiness Baha’u’llah (glorious is His praise!), and there was revealed for him a Holy Tablet from the Heaven of Virtue gladdening him with the announcement that his cry had been heard and his request answered, and that he had been commemorated with a mention whereby [all men’s] hearts would be attracted.
This happened in A.D. 1890 (A.H.1308), and the text of the above-mentioned Tablet is inserted for a blessing at the end of his book entitled ‘Beha’u’llah’ ‘which he composed in the English language to prove the truth of this most great and wonderful religion.
His Service to the Baha’i Faith
Dr. Ibrahim George Kheiralla was the pioneer who flagged the trail for Baha’i Faith in the United States, and worked hard to introduce the Faith to the people. When he visited Abdul Baha Abbas Effendi at Acre, he was hailed by him as “Baha’s Peter”, and shepherd of God’s flock in America.
Kheiralla brought the Baha’i Faith to the West. He established the American Baha’i Community, bringing thousands of people into the fold, including the first generation of the greatest American believers.
Kheiralla carried on his missionary and conversion efforts amongst the people in America for love of God without any remuneration at all, to such an extent that he used even to refuse the presents which were offered to him.
This rule he made binding, on himself and on all the evangelists, male and female, whom he appointed to teach. He used to earn his livelihood by his lawful profession, which was the healing of the sick (supposedly), and oftentimes he expended his own private property as the hire of premises for assemblies of the believers and evangelizing work.
The stout-hearted Thornton Chase, surnamed Thabit (Steadfast) and designated by Him ‘the first American believer’, who accepted the Faith in 1894, the immortal Louisa A. Moore, the mother teacher of the West, surnamed Liva (Banner), Dr Edward Getsinger, to whom she was later married, Howard MacNutt, Arthur P. Dodge, Isabella D. Brittingham, Lillian E Kappes, Paul K. Dealy, Chester I. Thacher and Helen S. Goodall, whose names will ever remain associated with the first stirrings of the Faith of Baha’u’llah in the North American continent, stand out as the most prominent among those who, in those early years, awakened to the call of the New Day, and consecrated their lives to the service of the newly proclaimed Covenant…..
At first Dr. Kheiralla took his residence in New York, and later moved to Michigan. Then in February 1894 he settled in Chicago. His initial success was formidable. Many embraced the Faith through his untiring efforts,men and women who served the Cause of Baha’u’llah with exemplary devotion over the course of years.
Dr Kheiralla’s work was highly praised. Abdu’l-Baha called him ‘Baha’s Peter’ and ‘the Second Columbus’. However, Chicago was not the only arena of his activities. He taught the Faith of Baha’u’llah in Kenosha, Kansas City, Philadelphia, Ithaca and New York City as well.
His Rank, Praise & Honors
Honors bestowed upon Dr. Kheiralla
- Abdul Baha Abbas Effendi greeted Kheiralla, saying,
“Welcome to the friend ! ” Then he clasped him to his breast and kissed him, saying, “Welcome to thee, O Baha’s Peter, O second Columbus, Conqueror of America!” Then he sat down talking to him kindly and affectionately, and asking him about the pilgrims who went coming from America, and about the believers there. And on the next day a military officer came and put a fez on Kheiralla’s head instead of a hat, saying to him, “Verily Abbas Efendi has ordered this fez for Baha’s Peter, Columbus the Second, the Conqueror of America.” After this the believers there began to send congratulations on this distinction, calling him at one time Columbus the Second, Conqueror of America, and at another Baha’s Peter.
- When Abbas Effendi brought Kheiralla into the room wherein was deposited the body of His Holiness our Master Baha’u’llah, he told him that he was the first pilgrim to whom the door of this chamber had been opened for entrance” thereunto and to perform the ceremonies prescribed for the visitation. And thereafter he begun to open it for the entrance of other pilgrims.
- Another of the distinctions which he enjoyed was the that, one day Abbas Effendi came to Haifa and alighted at the house in which Kheiralla was lodging with his family, and invited him to accompany him to Mount Carmel to participate with him in laying the foundation-stone of the mausoleum which was to be erected to receive the body of the ” First Point ” His Holiness the Bab, this honour being assigned to him instead of to Abbas Effendi’s brother “the Most Great Branch” Muhammad Ali Effendi.
His Writings, Publications and Works
Amongst His well-known writings (books / essays) are :
1) Za-ti-et Al-lah: The Identity and Personality of God.
2) Bab-ed-Din: The Door of True Religion — Revelation from the East.
3) Beha’U’llah (The Glory of God), with Howard McNutt. 1st ed., Vol. 1. 545. Chicago: Privately published, 1899. Reprinted 1915; Beha’U’llah (The Glory of God), with Howard McNutt. 1 ed., Vol. 2. 545. Chicago: I. G. Kheiralla Publisher, 1900.2nd. ed. Chicago, Goodspeed Press, 1915, 545.
4) Facts for Behaists, with Rosamond Templeton. 64. Translated by Ed. and trans. Ibrahim G. Kheiralla
5) The Three Questions. Includes fifteen pages of Arabic quotations.
6) An Epistle of Peace
7) Immortality Scientifically Demonstrated.
8) Universal Peace and Its Sole Solution.
9) Behaism: In Reply to the Attacks of Robert P. Richardson.
10) Christians! Why do you believe not in Christ. Kheiralla’s first book following his defection to Mirza Muhammad Ali, Abbas Effendi’s half-brother, to whom it is dedicated. The last chapter is an autobiography
11) Ninety-Five Questions and Answers Concerning the Teachings of the Behai Religion, Which Is Organized as the Universal Religion of the World.
12) Immortality: Hereafter of Man’s Soul and Mind: Man Never Dies
13) Proof of the Existence and Immortality of the Soul from a Scientific and Logical Standpoint: The Mind, As Taught by the Society of Behaists.
14) Reincarnation: The Return of the Soul. ‘includes an essay by I.G. Kheiralla’.
15) The Creator and What it Takes to Win the Peace.