The Secret of Divine Civilization is a book written in 1875 by `Abdu’l-Bahá, addressed to the rulers and the people of Persia. It is considered to be part of the authoritative religious text of the Bahá’í Faith. The work was lithographed in Bombay in 1882 and received wide circulation in Iran under the Persian title Risali-yi-madaniyyih or the Treatise on Civilization.
The original text was written under an anonymous author, and the first English translation was published in London in 1910, and Chicago in 1918, under the title Mysterious Forces of Civilization written by “an Eminent Bahai Philosopher. The currently used translation was completed by Marzieh Gail and published in 1957, with an introduction by Horace Holley.
The book was widely known in its time as an attempt to improve the degraded condition of Persia. The author frequently references current issues that were being debated, such as whether to modernize and accept Western technology, or to reject Western culture and rely on technology developed in Persia and the Islamic world. According to Smith, “the book was written at a time when genuine reform of Iran seemed possible as Mirza Husayn Khan was still politically influential and Nasser al-Din Shah Qajar had just made his first visit to Europe” in 1873. The reform process petered out in the late 1870s and `Abdu’l-Bahá did not pursue his plan to write other books on related themes such as education.
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