Bahá'u'lláh's Departure from Adrianople
The activities of Bahá'u'lláh's enemies, who intended to impose upon Him the strictest of confinements, gathered momentum in the early part of the year 1868. The most glorious, yet the most turbulent period in Bahá'u'lláh's ministry--a period of almost five years--was drawing to a close. It had been a time notable for its dynamism, its tests and trials, its challenging events, its unfaithful who turned to evil and its heroes who stood steadfast against the unfaithful; and above all it had seen the mighty Revelation of God poured out and His Message proclaimed to the rulers of the world collectively.
The Tablets revealed by Bahá'u'lláh in this period are so vast in number that their mere volume is bound to astonish the unbiased observer. If we were to write in detail even about the best-known Tablets revealed in Adrianople, this book would assume such impossible proportions as to necessitate several volumes. All we can do in the circumstances is to list a few of the more well-known Tablets: Súriy-i-Bayán, Munájátháy-i-Síyám (prayers for fasting), Lawh-i-Tuqá, Lawh-i-Ridván, Lawh-i-Nuqtih, Súriy-i-Hijr, Súriy-i-Qalam, Súriy-i-Qamís, Súriy-i-Ahzán, Ridvánu'l-Iqrár.
The revelation of so many important Tablets, and the proclamation of Bahá'u'lláh's Message to the kings and rulers of the world, had endowed the Faith with such ascendancy that by the summer of 1868 the authorities in Constantinople had become apprehensive of its rising prestige and power. The exaggerated reports and calumnies of Siyyid Muhammad and his accomplice Áqá Ján together with further representations
[Fast] The Kitáb-i-Aqdas; The Kitáb-i-Íqán, p. 39-40; Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 109; Prayers and Meditations; Gleanings From The Writings Of Bahá'u'lláh; The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 3, vol. 4 p. 9
[Munájátháy-i-Síyám] God Passes By, p. 171
by the Mushíru'd-Dawlih, the Persian Ambassador, to the Sublime Porte, induced the Ottoman Government to remove the Author of such a dynamic Faith from the mainland and sentence Him to solitary confinement in a far-off prison.
The authorities in Constantinople were alarmed by the news that several outstanding personalities, including Khurshíd Páshá, the Governor of Adrianople, were among the fervent admirers of Bahá'u'lláh, were frequenting His house and showing Him veneration worthy of a king. They knew that the consuls of foreign governments had also been attracted to Him and often spoke about His greatness. The movement of many pilgrims in and out of Adrianople further aggravated the situation. Fu'ád Páshá, the Turkish Foreign Minister, passed through Adrianople, made a tour of inspection and submitted exaggerated reports about the status and activities of the community. Furthermore, a few among the authorities had come across some of Bahá'u'lláh's Writings and become aware of His stupendous claims. All these were important factors in deciding the fate of Bahá'u'lláh and His companions.
Those mainly responsible for Bahá'u'lláh's final banishment were the Prime Minister, 'Álí Páshá, the Foreign Minister, Fu'ád Páshá and the Persian Ambassador, Hájí Mírzá Husayn Khán (the Mushíru'd-Dawlih). These three worked together closely until they succeeded in their efforts to banish Bahá'u'lláh to 'Akká and to impose on Him life imprisonment within the walls of that prison city. Bahá'u'lláh prophesied that 'Álí Páshá and Fu'ád Páshá would be struck down by the hand of God as a punishment for their action; we shall refer to their fate in the next volume.
As to the Mushíru'd-Dawlih, Bahá'u'lláh had at one time sent him a strong message through Hájí Mírzá Hasan-i-Safá,* saying that if the Ambassador's aim in opposing Him was to destroy His person, there was nothing to stop him from carrying out his intentions against a Prisoner in the land. However, if he was
* See p. 55.
trying to exterminate the Cause of God, then he should know that no power on earth could quench this Fire which God had kindled on the earth. Its flame would soon encompass the whole world.
However, the Mushíru'd-Dawlih did everything in his power to enforce Bahá'u'lláh's imprisonment in 'Akká. The following is a translation of a letter he wrote to his Government a little over a year after Bahá'u'lláh's arrival in 'Akká.
I have issued telegraphic and written instructions, forbidding that He (Bahá'u'lláh) associate with any one except His wives and children, or leave under any circumstances, the house wherein He is imprisoned. 'Abbás-Qulí Khán, the Consul-General in Damascus...I have, three days ago, sent back, instructing him to proceed direct to 'Akká...confer with its governor regarding all necessary measures for the strict maintenance of their imprisonment...and appoint, before his return to Damascus, a representative on the spot to insure that the orders issued by the Sublime Porte will, in no wise, be disobeyed. I have, likewise, instructed him that once every three months he should proceed from Damascus to 'Akká, and personally watch over them, and submit his report to the Legation.1As the years went by, however, the Mushíru'd-Dawlih began to realize that the accusations made against Bahá'u'lláh by His enemies were unfounded. He saw in Him divine attributes and was impressed by His integrity and loftiness of purpose. After leaving his post in Constantinople, he spoke highly in Government circles in Persia of Bahá'u'lláh's uprightness and dignity. In Tihrán he is reported to have said that the only person outside Persia who had brought honour to the nation was Bahá'u'lláh, and later he assured Násirid-Din Sháh that the followers of Bahá'u'lláh were not, as alleged, working against the interests of the country.
In the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf Bahá'u'lláh has commended him in these words:
1. Quoted by Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 186.
His Excellency, the late Mírzá Husayn Khán, Mushíru'd-Dawlih--may God forgive him--hath known this Wronged One, and he, no doubt, must have given to the Authorities a circumstantial account of the arrival of this Wronged One at the Sublime Porte, and of the things which He said and did...That which was done by his late Excellency--may God exalt his station--was not actuated by his friendship towards this Wronged One, but rather was prompted by his own sagacious judgment, and by his desire to accomplish the service he secretly contemplated rendering his Government. I testify that he was so faithful in his service to his Government that dishonesty played no part, and was held in contempt, in the domain of his activities. It was he who was responsible for the arrival of these wronged ones in the Most Great Prison ('Akká). As he was faithful, however, in the discharge of his duty, he deserveth Our commendation...2Shaykh Kázim-i-Samandar, to whom we have referred previously, has recorded the following account in his narratives:
Once Shaykh Salmán was arrested and imprisoned in Aleppo by the Persian Consul because he was carrying a number of letters and some goods from the believers to Bahá'u'lláh. Hájí Mírzá Husayn Khán-i-Qazvíní was the Ambassador in those days. He happened to be passing through Aleppo at that time and therefore he carefully read all the letters, which numbered about three hundred. He noticed that none of them contained any political or worldly subjects. They were all supplications and questions on spiritual matters. He therefore ordered that all the letters and goods be returned to their owner. He then called Shaykh Salmán to his office and asked him to convey his greetings to Bahá'u'lláh. When this servant, the writer, was in the presence of the Blessed Beauty in the year 1291 A.H. (1874-5), He asked me once about the attitude and behaviour of Hájí Mírzá Husayn Khán who was then the most outstanding personality in Persia. In the course of His talks Bahá'u'lláh stated that Hájí Mírzá Husayn Khán was more prudent than the rest of the authorities in Persia, and had eventually mended his attitude towards Him.3
2. Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, pp. 68-9.
3. Shaykh Kázim-i-Samandar, Táríkh-i-Samandar, p. 199.
A loyal companion of Bahá'u'lláh throughout His exile from Baghdád to 'Akká
A selfless and trusted companion of Bahá'u'lláh throughout His exile from Baghdád to 'Akká
Speaking about Hájí Mírzá Husayn Khán, Bahá'u'lláh in one of His Tablets has said that since he had changed his attitude and because he was related to a believer, God might through His bounty, forgive his misdeeds. The believer to whom the Mushíru'd-Dawlih was related was Mírzá Muhammad-'Alíy-i-Kad-Khudá, a native of Qazvín. He was a devoted follower of Bahá'u'lláh described by Shaykh Kázim-i-Samandar as 'a man adorned with spiritual qualities and human virtues, knowledgeable and sincere in faith, one who manifested these qualities to the full in his associations with people and in business circles'.4
The statement that God may forgive a soul because of kinship to a believer is explicit in the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh. In one of His Tablets5 He states that one of the special bounties of God in this Dispensation is that in the next world His forgiveness and mercy will surround the souls of those who although bearing no allegiance to His Cause, are related to a believer, provided they have done no disservice to the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, nor caused any harm to His loved ones during their lives.
This bounty is especially true of parents who do not embrace the Faith. In a Tablet6 Bahá'u'lláh states that in this Revelation God has vouchsafed a special bounty to those believers whose parents are untouched by the light of the Faith. He affirms that in the next life God will illumine the souls of the parents through His favours and mercy. In one of His Tablets7 'Abdu'l-Bahá writes that the believers should earnestly pray for the souls of their departed non-Bahá'í parents. They should tearfully supplicate God for His forgiveness and carry out acts of beneficence on their behalf so that God may, through His grace, enable their souls to progress in His spiritual worlds.
While the authorities in Constantinople were actively engaged in their campaign of opposition to Bahá'u'lláh, Khurshíd Páshá, the Governor of Adrianople, did everything in his power to change their course of action but failed in his efforts. At last 'Álí Páshá, the Prime Minister, succeeded in securing from Sultán 'Abdu'l-'Azíz an imperial edict dated 5th. Rabí'u'l-
4. Shaykh Kázim-i-Samandar, Táríkh-i-Samandar, p. 268.
5. Bahá'u'lláh, Má'idiy-i-Ásamání, vol. IV, p. 173.
6. Bahá'u'lláh, Iqtidárát, p. 225.
7. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Má'idiy-i-Ásamání, vol. II, p. 12.
Ákhir 1285 A.H. (26 July 1868) ordering Bahá'u'lláh's exile to the Fortress of 'Akká and His life imprisonment within the walls of that prison-city. In the same edict five others, mentioned by name, were to be exiled with Him. They were: the two faithful brothers of Bahá'u'lláh, Áqáy-i-Kalím and Mírzá Muhammad-Qulí, His faithful servant Darvísh Sidq-'Alí, the Antichrist of the Bahá'í Revelation Siyyid Muhammad-i-Isfahání, and his accomplice Áqá Ján Big. Mírzá Yahyá was condemned to life imprisonment in Famagusta along with four of Bahá'u'lláh's followers: Mírzá Husayn entitled Mishkín-Qalam, 'Alíy-i-Sayyáh, Muhammad-Báqir-i-Qahvih-Chí and 'Abdu'l-Ghaffár.
Strict orders were issued in the edict to the authorities in 'Akká directing them to accommodate the prisoners inside a house in the Fortress, to guard it most effectively and to ensure that the exiles did not associate with anyone.
When Khurshíd Páshá was informed of the edict and learnt of Bahá'u'lláh's immediate banishment he knew that he could not bring himself to notify Bahá'u'lláh of the contents of the Sultán's order. He was so embarrassed that he absented himself from his office and left the task to the registrar.
Mírzá Áqá Ján, Bahá'u'lláh's amanuensis, has described8 the events leading to Bahá'u'lláh's departure from Adrianople. He states that one evening late at night Bahá'u'lláh instructed Jamál-i-Burújirdí and two believers from Persia who had come for the purpose of attaining His presence, to leave the city immediately and return to Persia. No one understood the wisdom of this action at the time, but it became evident on the following morning, when some Government officials called to ask Jamál's whereabouts, and were told that he had left the city a few hours earlier. (At this juncture it is appropriate to mention that before going to Adrianople Jamál-i-Burújirdí had rendered an important service to the Faith in Persia. He and Mullá 'Alí-Akbar-i-Sháhmírzádí, known as Hájí Ákhúnd,* whom Bahá'u'lláh later appointed a Hand of the Cause of God,
8. Quoted by Muhammad-'Alíy-i-Faizi, Hadrat-i-Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 195-6.
had been instructed by Him in 1284. A.H. (1867-8) to transfer the remains of the Báb which were concealed within the Shrine of Imám-Zádih Ma'súm to another place of safety. The details of this and subsequent transfers until the remains were laid to rest for ever in the bosom of God's holy mountain, Mount Carmel, constitute one of the most interesting episodes in the annals of the Faith.)*
Mírzá Áqá Ján states that the day after Jamál left Adrianople, the members of the community were rounded up early in the morning, and brought to Government headquarters. They were kept in custody while soldiers surrounded the house of Bahá'u'lláh and posted sentinels at its gates. An officer representing the Sublime Porte called and informed 'Abdu'l-Bahá that Bahá'u'lláh and His family were to proceed to Gallipoli.† According to Mírzá Áqá Ján's testimony, the officers had indicated that only those twelve companions who had accompanied Bahá'u'lláh to Adrianople were to travel with Him to Gallipoli. But the rest of the believers were extremely agitated by this proposition. They all wanted to accompany their Lord. Several of them who owned trading establishments in the city gave up their businesses, sold up what they could at very low prices and left many of their goods behind.
Áqá Ridáy-i-Shírází,‡ known as Áqá Ridáy-i-Qannád (candy maker), one of the companions of Bahá'u'lláh, who had come with him from Baghdád, has written about the reaction of the people of Adrianople to these developments:
A great tumult seized the people. All were perplexed and full of regret...Some expressed their sympathy, others consoled us, and wept over us...Most of our possessions were auctioned at half their value.' 9
* Shoghi Effendi has written a brief account of it in God Passes By, pp. 273-6.
† It appears that not until the exiles arrived at Gallipoli were they informed of their ultimate destination as set out in the Royal edict.
‡ See vol. 1, pp. 288-9, and Memorials of the Faithful.
9. Quoted by Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 180.
Another believer, Husayn-i-Áshchí,* who served Bahá'u'lláh as a cook for many years, has left the following account† concerning the events leading to Bahá'u'lláh's departure for Gallipoli:
Orders were issued from Constantinople for Bahá'u'lláh's exile to Syria. Since Khurshíd Páshá failed in his efforts to alter the course of events he felt ashamed to attain the presence of Bahá'u'lláh and therefore he announced his departure for another city. He left Adrianople leaving the affairs of the Government in the hands of an officer. However, he did not travel to another city; he merely retired to a summer residence on the outskirts of Adrianople. One afternoon after working in the kitchen I went to the bazaar. I visited Áqá Ridáy-i-Shírází and Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Káshání‡ at their shop. I had been there only a few minutes when two soldiers called and summoned the two of them to the Government headquarters. I attempted to leave the shop but the soldiers caught me and took me with them. I noticed that all the friends who had shops in the bazaar had been taken to the headquarters. We were all counted,§ then each one's particulars were recorded. When they realized that I was a cook in Bahá'u'lláh's household, a soldier was called in and instructed to escort me to the house of Bahá'u'lláh...
* See pp. 169-70.
† This account is edited by the present writer.
‡ See vol. 1, pp. 288-9.
§ Several times before this the members of the community had been taken to Government headquarters and counted.
enquired about the situation in town, but I was so frightened that I could hardly speak. My mouth dried up with fear. I came out of the room and asked for water to drink. Then I felt better and went again to attain the presence of Bahá'u'lláh. He looked at me, smiled, and jokingly said, 'Was the Káshí frightened?'†
* We should note that Husayn-i-Áshchí at that time was a youth who for some years had enjoyed a sheltered life in Bahá'u'lláh's household protected from persecution.
† A native of Káshán is referred to as Káshí or Káshání. Persians often make fun of the Káshís alleging them to be faint-hearted and timid. This of course is purely fictitious.
‡ These are not the exact words of Bahá'u'lláh, but they convey the import of what He said.
§ See pp. 329.
the house and were on duty day and night. This situation lasted for eight days...
* We have briefly referred to this incident in vol. 1, pp. 97-8. It should be noted that the surgeon who attended to him later found that the carotid artery had not been cut.
all over the place with blood pouring out I was riveted to the scene before me, dazed and in a state of shock. The soldiers were telling Hájí Ja'far that a surgeon would be coming to attend to his wounds, but although he could not speak, he made it clear to them by sign language that even if the surgeon was able to stitch his wounds he would cut his throat again...
* He had been martyred in Persia, see pp. 60-61.
cotton over his wound until a competent surgeon by the name of Muhammad arrived. But Hájí Ja'far was unwilling for his throat to be stitched up. He kept on saying 'Away from my Beloved this life is useless to me...' Eventually the Ancient Beauty came to his bedside...and with His hands touched Hájí Ja'far's head and face, and assured him that He would summon him to His new place of exile as soon as his wounds were healed. He urged him to remain in Adrianople until he was completely recovered.* When Bahá'u'lláh returned to His room the surgeon started to stitch the wound, but the thread kept breaking. He had to repeat the operation several times. During this ordeal Hájí Ja'far remained motionless. He endured the pain with such strength that he did not even screw up his face once!Among those who arrived in Gallipoli from the prison in Constantinople were Mishkín-Qalam, 'Alíy-i-Sayyáh, 'Abdu'l-Ghaffár and Muhammad-Báqir-i-Qahvih-Chí, all of whom were
* Hájí Ja'far and his brother were able to proceed to 'Akká soon after Bahá'u'lláh's departure to that city. See Memorials of the Faithful.
10. Husayn-i-Áshchí, unpublished memoirs.
condemned to accompany Mírzá Yahyá to Cyprus, while Darvísh Sidq-'Alí, whose name was recorded in the Royal edict, was to accompany Bahá'u'lláh to 'Akká. The other two prisoners, Ustád Muhammad-'Alíy-i-Salmání and Jamshíd-i-Gurjí, were deported to the borders of Persia. It appears that these two were released from prison partly through the prompt intervention of Mír Muhammad-i-Mukárí,* who, on learning that these two had not been freed, went to the Sublime Porte and vehemently demanded their immediate release.
Salmání and Jamshíd-i-Gurjí were taken as prisoners to one of the border towns and handed over to the Kurdish authorities for transfer to Persia. The Kurds, finding the prisoners to be men of integrity, and innocent of any crime, set them free, and the two of them managed to find their way to the Prison of 'Akká where they were reunited with their Lord.
Shoghi Effendi has briefly described Bahá'u'lláh's departure from Adrianople:
On the twenty-second of the month of Rabí'u'th-Thání 1285 A.H. (12 August 1868) Bahá'u'lláh and His family, escorted by a Turkish captain, Hasan Effendi by name, and other soldiers appointed by the local government, set out on their four-day journey to Gallipoli, riding in carriages and stopping on their way at Uzún-Kúprú and Káshánih, at which latter place the Súriy-i-Ra'ís was revealed. 'The inhabitants of the quarter in which Bahá'u'lláh had been living, and the neighbours who had gathered to bid Him farewell, came one after the other,' writes an eye-witness, 'with the utmost sadness and regret to kiss His hands and the hem of His robe, expressing meanwhile their sorrow at His departure. That day, too, was a strange day. Methinks the city, its walls and its gates bemoaned their imminent separation from Him.' 'On that day,' writes another eye-witness, 'there was a wonderful concourse of Muslims and Christians at the door of our Master's house. The hour of departure was a memorable one. Most of those present were weeping and wailing,
* See chapter 14.
especially the Christians.' 'Say,' Bahá'u'lláh Himself declares in the Súriy-i-Ra'ís, 'this Youth hath departed out of this country and deposited beneath every tree and every stone a trust, which God will erelong bring forth through the power of truth.'
of the previous journeys', and that whoever did not feel himself 'man enough to face the future' had best 'depart to whatever place he pleaseth, and be preserved from tests, for hereafter he will find himself unable to leave'--a warning which His companions unanimously chose to disregard.Súriy-i-Ra'ís
The Súriy-i-Ra'ís was revealed in honour of Hájí Muhammad Ismá'íl-i-Káshání entitled Dhabíh (Sacrifice) and Anís (Companion) by Bahá'u'lláh. It is in Arabic‡ and is addressed to 'Álí Páshá, the Grand Vizir of Turkey. Dhabíh, unlike his half
* See vol. 1, p. 204. (A.T.)
† See vol. 1, pp. 287-8. (A.T.)
‡ Not to be confused with Lawh-i-Ra'ís in Persian, revealed in 'Akká and also addressed to 'Álí Páshá.
11. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, pp. 180-82.
[Súriy-i-Ra'ís] God Passes By, p. 172, p. 173, p. 174, p. 179, p. 180
brother Hájí Mírzá Ahmad,* was a faithful believer and a man of piety. He arrived in Adrianople during the time that the House of Bahá'u'lláh was surrounded by soldiers. He therefore could not attain the presence of Bahá'u'lláh and was advised by Him to proceed to Gallipoli. Dhabíh wrote a letter to Bahá'u'lláh and this Tablet was revealed in his honour. It was after the revelation of the Súriy-i-Ra'ís and with Bahá'u'lláh's permission that he attained His presence in the public bath in Gallipoli.
The following is a brief account of the life and activities of Dhabíh as outlined by Shaykh Kázim-i-Samandar in his memoirs:
...Hájí Muhammad Ismá'íl-i-Dhabíh of Káshán was a brother of the late Hájí Mírzá Jání. When the Báb was on His way to Tihrán...He honoured these brothers by staying in their home†...In the early days of the Faith these two brothers worked together in the promotion of the Cause of God, until Hájí Mírzá Jání was martyred.‡ After the declaration of Bahá'u'lláh and as a result of much investigation and endeavour on his part, Dhabíh became an ardent follower of Bahá'u'lláh. Since that time he engaged in teaching the Faith and transcribing the Writings. He travelled to Adrianople, but his journey coincided with the time of troubles and persecution in that land, a time when the house of Bahá'u'lláh and those of the believers were guarded by troops and no one was admitted. Dhabíh and those who were with him proceeded to Gallipoli. The Súriy-i-Ra'ís was revealed in those days...
* See p. 137.
† See p. 110.
‡ See The Dawn-Breakers.
§ Prince Kámrán Mírzá, a son of Násiri'd-Dín Sháh. He was Governor of Tihrán for some years.
photograph of him for presentation to the Sháh and copies of it are available from some of the friends. Lately he went via Qazvín to Tabríz where he passed away* to the realms of eternity...12In one of His Tablets13 addressed to Dhabíh, Bahá'u'lláh urges him to arise and teach His Cause, as God has created him for this purpose. In another Tablet addressed to Dhabíh's son Ghulám-'Alí, Bahá'u'lláh states that Dhabíh wished to lay down his life in the path of God and affirms that he had the station of a martyr in the sight of God and was honoured with the appellation Dhabíh (Sacrifice) by the Pen of the Most High.
The revelation of the Súriy-i-Ra'ís began soon after Bahá'u'lláh left Adrianople in the village of Káshánih and was completed at Gyáwur-Kyuy on His way to Gallipoli.
The first part of this Súrih is addressed to 'Álí Páshá, whom Bahá'u'lláh calls Ra'ís (Chief). This is one of the most challenging Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, in which the Prime Minister is reprimanded by the Tongue of power and might. In its opening passage Bahá'u'lláh bids 'Álí Páshá hearken to the voice of God, calling throughout earth and heaven and summoning mankind to Himself. He states that no power on earth can frustrate Him from proclaiming His Message, and in strong language He unequivocally declares that neither 'Álí Páshá's opposition nor that of his associates can hinder Him from carrying out His purpose. He rebukes 'Álí Páshá for having united with the Persian ambassador in committing that which had caused Muhammad, the Prophet of God, to lament in the most exalted paradise. He proclaims the greatness of His Revelation and the exalted station of its Author, affirms that should He unveil His glory which is kept hidden because of the weakness of man, the whole of creation would sacrifice itself in His path.
In this Tablet Bahá'u'lláh identifies 'Alí Páshá with those who denied the Manifestations of past Dispensations and rose up against them. He recalls the arrogance of the Persian Emperor
* This was around 1297-8 A.H. (1880-81).
12. Shaykh Kázim-i-Samandar, Táríkh-i-Samandar, pp. 222-3.
13. Quoted by Fádil-i-Mázindarání, Asráru'l-Áthár, vol. I, p. 131.
in the days of Muhammad, the transgressions of Pharaoh against Moses and the wicked acts perpetrated by Nimrod against Abraham. Addressing 'Álí Páshá directly, Bahá'u'lláh asserts that his efforts to extinguish the fire of the Cause which the hands of God have ignited will be of no consequence; on the contrary they will help to fan it into flame. He prophesies that ere long it will encompass the whole world and that His Revelation will quicken the souls of all mankind.
The Súriy-i-Ra'ís was revealed at a time when Bahá'u'lláh and His companions were outwardly afflicted with tribulations and indignities on the eve of their banishment to 'Akká, yet from the Pen of the Most High these ominous warnings were issued to one who was the head of the Turkish Government at the time and the main perpetrator of the cruel injustices against Bahá'u'lláh.
The day is approaching when the Land of Mystery (Adrianople), and what is beside it shall be changed, and shall pass out of the hands of the king, and commotions shall appear, and the voice of lamentation shall be raised, and the evidences of mischief shall be revealed on all sides, and confusion shall spread by reason of that which hath befallen these captives at the hands of the hosts of oppression. The course of things shall be altered, and conditions shall wax so grievous, that the very sands on the desolate hills will moan, and the trees on the mountain will weep, and blood will flow out of all things. Then wilt thou behold the people in sore distress.* 14At one point in the Súriy-i-Ra'ís, Bahá'u'lláh turns His attention away from 'Álí Páshá and addresses Dhabíh in words of
* These prophecies, and others which were uttered by Bahá'u'lláh in 'Akká, foreshadowing the downfall of Sultán 'Abdu'l-'Azíz, 'Álí Páshá and Fu'ád Páshá were remarkably fulfilled. The Russian troops occupied Adrianople, Serbia, Montenegro and Rumania and announced their independence; Cyprus and Egypt were occupied; Eastern Rumelia was ceded to Bulgaria which became a self-governing state. In brief the Ottoman Empire was dismembered. We shall refer to these events in more detail in a future volume [3, 4].
14. Bahá'u'lláh, quoted by Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day Is Come, p. 62.
loving-kindness and appreciation. He states that as the soldiers were keeping guard, He found Himself in a state of immense joy and gladness, for nothing would be more meritorious in His sight than martyrdom in the path of God. He recounts the tragic actions of the Government authorities when they sent troops to surround His residence and those of His loved ones, and states that the believers and His family were left without food on the first night of the siege, and in the following words, depicts the scenes of lamentation by the inhabitants of Adrianople on the day of His departure from the city:
The people surrounded the house, and Muslims and Christians wept over Us...We perceived that the weeping of the people of the Son (Christians) exceeded the weeping of others--a sign for such as ponder.15He describes the attempt by Hájí Ja'far-i-Tabrízí to take his own life because of the love he cherished for his Lord, testifies that such an act was 'unheard of in bygone centuries'; it was an act that 'God hath set apart for this Revelation, as an evidence of the power of His might'.16 He recalls a similar incident in Baghdád when Siyyid Ismá'íl of Zavárih had been so carried away by the ocean of love which surged within his heart as to take his own life by cutting his throat.* Bahá'u'lláh declares that these souls were so magnetized by His love that they were driven by an uncontrollable urge to sacrifice their lives, and affirms that in spite of the fact that in so doing, they acted against His commandments, they are immersed in the ocean of His forgiveness and have attained an exalted station in the realms of God.
In the Súriy-i-Ra'ís Bahá'u'lláh affirms that tribulations and sufferings inflicted upon the believers will act as oil for the lamp of the Cause of God and add to its radiance and glory. He states that the Cause is immeasurably great, that nothing can undermine its rise and establishment even though all the forces of
* See vol. 1, pp. 101-3.
15. Bahá'u'lláh, quoted by Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, pp. 179-80.
16. ibid., p. 180.
earth and heaven league against it and the kings and rulers rise up to oppose it. He further prophesies:
Ere long will God raise up from among the kings one who will aid His loved ones. He, verily, encompasseth all things. He will instill in the hearts the love of His loved ones. This, indeed, is irrevocably decreed by One Who is the Almighty, the Beneficent.17So great is this Revelation that Bahá'u'lláh proclaims in the Súriy-i-Ra'ís:
Had Muhammad, the Apostle of God, attained this Day, He would have exclaimed: 'I have truly recognized Thee, O Thou the Desire of the Divine Messengers!' Had Abraham attained it, He too, falling prostrate upon the ground, and in the utmost lowliness before the Lord thy God, would have cried: 'Mine heart is filled with peace, O Thou Lord of all that is in heaven and on earth! I testify that Thou hast unveiled before mine eyes all the glory of Thy power and the full majesty of Thy law!'...Had Moses Himself attained it, He, likewise, would have raised His voice saying: 'All praise be to Thee for having lifted upon me the light of Thy countenance and enrolled me among them that have been privileged to behold Thy face!' 18One of the unique features of the Manifestation of God is that, unlike the human being, His thoughts and actions are not necessarily directed to the immediate issue of the time no matter how vital and pressing the situation may be. He can never be absorbed in one particular problem to the exclusion of others.* For He does not abide in the world of limitations. Although He dwells on earth, He is animated by the Spirit of God and, as stated in Islám, 'Nothing whatsoever keepeth Him from being occupied with any other thing.' 19
This characteristic of the Manifestation of God is clearly
* For a further discussion see vol. 1, pp. 262-3.
17. Bahá'u'lláh, quoted by Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day Is Come, p. 75.
18. Bahá'u'lláh, quoted by Shoghi Effendi, 'The Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh', The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 105-6.
demonstrated in the person of Bahá'u'lláh as He revealed the Súriy-i-Ra'ís in the midst of calamities and afflictions which even threatened His life and that of His family and companions. For in response to a question by Dhabíh, He describes the nature of the rational soul, and elucidates the conditions under which it can acquire different qualities. He explains that the soul may progress in two different directions. If it moves towards God it will acquire spiritual qualities, and after its separation from the body it will abide in the realms of God adorned with divine attributes. If it turns away from Him, however, it will become satanic and devoid of spiritual characteristics. Bahá'u'lláh dwells on this subject at great length; a detailed study of His explanations is beyond the scope of this volume.*
Concerning the significance of the Súriy-i-Ra'ís, Bahá'u'lláh in one of His Tablets revealed in 'Akká states:
So blind hath become the human heart that neither the disruption of the city, nor the reduction of the mountain in dust, nor even the cleaving of the earth, can shake off its torpor. The allusions made in the Scriptures have been unfolded, and the signs recorded therein have been revealed, and the prophetic cry is continually being raised. And yet all, except such as God was pleased to guide, are bewildered in the drunkenness of their heedlessness!
are regarded with favour, and are accorded full freedom to act...The dust of sedition hath clouded the hearts of men, and blinded their eyes. Erelong, they will perceive the consequences of what their hands have wrought in the Day of God. Thus warneth you He Who is the All-Informed, as bidden by One Who is the Most Powerful, the Almighty.20These warnings uttered by Bahá'u'lláh over a century ago and soon after His clarion call to the kings and rulers of the world in the Súriy-i-Mulúk, in which similar warnings were issued, have set in motion an immense cataclysmic process, breaking up the old order and destroying the foundations of human society everywhere on the planet. Helpless and agonized, mankind is held in the clutches of its devastating fury not knowing where to turn and how to stem the tide of its catastrophic course. And yet we live at a time when man's knowledge and material achievements, compared with the past, are phenomenal.
To the followers of Bahá'u'lláh the cause of these calamitous trends is clear and simple. The plight of man today is similar to that of a gardener who toils and labours in vain because he has planted his seeds in fertile soil but in a dark pit far away from the rays of the sun. Man has turned his back on the Sun of Truth. Not until he recognizes Him and turns to Him will he find peace on this earth and tranquillity in his heart.
Almost four decades ago, in the midst of the Second World War, Shoghi Effendi wrote a most illuminating analysis* of the world-engulfing calamities afflicting the human race, delineated their origin, and depicted their outcome. In this masterly work he describes on the one hand the inevitability of the breaking up of the old order and the suffering that it entails, and on the other the glorious vistas of the distant future when the Golden Age of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh will usher in an era of unsurpassed blissfulness and unity for the whole human race.
Enumerating the manifold persecutions and sufferings which
* The Promised Day is Come.
20. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, section xvi.
the human race, for almost eight decades, inflicted upon Bahá'u'lláh, the Báb and 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Shoghi Effendi Writes: 21
...Alas, a thousand times alas, that a Revelation so incomparably great, so infinitely precious, so mightily potent, so manifestly innocent, should have received, at the hands of a generation so blind and so perverse, so infamous a treatment! 'O My servants!' Bahá'u'lláh Himself testifies, 'The one true God is My witness! This most great, this fathomless and surging ocean is near, astonishingly near, unto you. Behold it is closer to you than your life-vein! Swift as the twinkling of an eye ye can, if ye but wish it, reach and partake of this imperishable favour, this God-given grace, this incorruptible gift, this most potent and unspeakably glorious bounty.'
21. Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day is Come, pp. 14-15, 16, 121.
world that has lost its bearings, in which the bright flame of religion is fast dying out, in which the forces of a blatant nationalism and racialism have usurped the rights and prerogatives of God Himself, in which a flagrant secularism--the direct offspring of irreligion--has raised its triumphant head and is protruding its ugly features,...and in which the virus of prejudice and corruption is eating into the vitals of an already gravely disordered society...
Religious and sectarian antagonism, the hostility of races and peoples, and differences among nations, will be eliminated. All men will adhere to one religion, will have one common faith, will be blended into one race, and become a single people. All will dwell in one common fatherland, which is the planet itself.'