Varqá, Apostle of Bahá'u'lláh

While Bahá'u'lláh resided in the Mansion of Mazra'ih, many Bahá'ís came on pilgrimage and attained His presence. Notable among them was Hájí Mullá Mihdiy-i-'Atrí, a native of Yazd, accompanied by two of his sons--the eldest, Mírzá Husayn, and the youngest, 'Alí-Muhammad, later surnamed Varqá by Bahá'u'lláh. The latter became one of the luminaries of the Faith, an Apostle of Bahá'u'lláh who in the end laid down his life in His path.

In his unpublished 'History of the Faith in the Province of Yazd', Hájí Muhammad-Táhir-i-Málmírí gives the following account:

Hájí Mullá Mihdí used to produce quantities of rose water and attar of rose each year in Yazd, hence he was known as 'Atrí (distiller of attar)...One day he held a large meeting* in his house in Yazd and invited the Bahá'ís, including the members of the Afnán family,† to attend. About two hundred believers attended this meeting. Among them was a certain Dervish Mihdí, who was a Bahá'í and had a melodious

* In those days the believers did not assemble in large numbers at a meeting as this was a very unwise action to take. They usually met very discreetly in small numbers to avoid trouble and persecution by the enemies. (A.T.)

† Afnán, literally 'twigs', is a designation used by Bahá'u'lláh to indicate the Báb's kinsmen who are the descendants of the three maternal uncles of the Báb, of the two brothers of the wife of the Báb and of her sister. The Afnán families lived mainly in Shíráz and some in Yazd. (A.T.)

voice.* He chanted Bahá'í songs in a very loud voice and a few others chanted Tablets. No such meeting had ever been held in Yazd since the Cause began in that city.

The next morning Shaykh Muhammad-Hasan-i-Sabzivárí {a leading mujtahid of Yazd and an inveterate enemy of the Cause} summoned Hájí Mullá Mihdí to his office and there ordered his men to flog him brutally in his presence. Then he issued orders for his exile from Yazd. Mírzá Husayn and Mírzá 'Alí-Muhammad {Varqá}, his sons, went into hiding at the time of their father's arrest. The other son, Mírzá Hasan, fled to a neighbouring town.

Hájí Mullá Mihdí, accompanied by his two sons Mírzá Husayn and Mírzá 'Alí-Muhammad-i-Varqá, left Yazd on foot and eventually travelled to the Holy Land via Baghdád. Because of old age and fatigue, Hájí became ill on the way. They arrived at Mazra'ih by way of Beirut and Sidon. But Hájí died on arrival and was buried alongside the road to 'Akká. Whenever the Blessed Beauty passed by his grave on His way to 'Akká or Mazra'ih, He would pause there, put His blessed foot on the grave and stop beside it for a few moments.

Although Hájí did not attain the presence of Bahá'u'lláh this time, he had, on a previous occasion, visited Baghdád with his eldest son Mírzá Husayn where he met his Lord face to face. Bahá'u'lláh had revealed Tablets for him for many years, all indicative of his deep love and devotion to the Cause. The outpouring of Bahá'u'lláh's blessings upon him were indeed boundless. In a Tablet addressed to Varqá, Bahá'u'lláh, in the words of His amanuensis† describes the way in which He and some of His companions once on their way to Mazra'ih stopped at the grave of his father and revealed such exalted verses in his honour that no pen could describe the glory with which his soul was invested. Bahá'u'lláh has revealed for him a Tablet of Visitation which clearly indicates how exalted was his rank

* Dervishes were in the habit of chanting the praise of the Lord in public. They were identified as Súfís. Very few of them became Bahá'ís. (A.T.)

† see above, p. 23 n.

among the Concourse on High.* 'Abdu'l-Bahá has affirmed that He built his grave with His own hands.

The following is a tribute paid by 'Abdu'l-Bahá to this noble soul:

...With his two sons, one the great martyr-to-be, Jináb-i-Varqá, and the other Jináb-i-Husayn, he set out for the country of his Well-Beloved. In every town and village along the way, he ably spread the Faith, adducing clear arguments and proofs, quoting from and interpreting the sacred traditions and evident signs.† He did not rest for a moment; everywhere he shed abroad the attar of the love of God, and diffused the sweet breathings of holiness. And he inspired the friends, making them eager to teach others in their turn, and to excel in knowledge.

He was an eminent soul, with his heart fixed on the beauty of God. From the day he was first created and came into this world, he single-mindedly devoted all his efforts to acquiring grace for the day he should be born into the next.‡ His heart was illumined, his mind spiritual, his soul aspiring, his destination Heaven. He was imprisoned along his way; and as he crossed the deserts and climbed and descended the mountain slopes he endured terrible, uncounted hardships. But the light of faith shone from his brow and in his breast the longing was aflame, and thus he joyously, gladly passed over the frontiers until at last he came to Beirut. In that city, ill, restive, his patience gone, he spent some days. His yearning grew, and his agitation was such that weak and sick as he was, he could wait no more.

He set out on foot for the house of Bahá'u'lláh. Because he lacked proper shoes for the journey, his feet were bruised and torn; his sickness worsened; he could hardly move, but still he went on; somehow he reached the village of Mazra'ih and here, close by the Mansion, he died. His heart found his Well-Beloved One, when he could bear the separation no more. Let lovers be warned by his story; let them know how he gambled


* The gathering of the holy souls in the next world.

Qur'án 3:91.

Qur'án 29:19; 53:48: 56:92.

away his life in his yearning after the Light of the World. May God give him to drink of a brimming cup in the everlasting gardens; in the Supreme Assemblage, may God shed upon his face rays of light. Upon him be the glory of the Lord. His sanctified tomb is in Mazra'ih, beside 'Akká.1
Mírzá Husayn, the eldest son, was a devoted believer. This pilgrimage was his third, as he had attained the presence of Bahá'u'lláh twice before in Baghdád. It was he who took to Yazd for the first time a copy of the Hidden Words, which he had obtained on his second visit to Baghdád. He also intimated to many Bábís then that Bahá'u'lláh, and no one else, was 'Him Whom God shall make manifest'. This was long before Bahá'u'lláh's declaration. He also informed some of the believers of the defection of Mírzá Yahyá, for whom the Bábí community of the time had high regard.

The second son, Mírzá Hasan, was also dedicated to the Cause, and Bahá'u'lláh has revealed some Tablets in his honour and showered His confirmations upon his soul.

Mírzá 'Alí-Muhammad, entitled Varqá, the youngest son, is one of the Apostles of Bahá'u'lláh. He was about twenty-two years old when he left his native city of Yazd. He was a poet of outstanding calibre, knowledgeable in the science of ancient medicine and well-versed in religious subjects. He was an erudite and eloquent teacher of the Cause, one who had truly recognized the station of Bahá'u'lláh; he was filled with His love and radiated the power and the beauty of the Faith to those who came in contact with him.

On his first pilgrimage in AH 1296 (AD 1878-9) when he lost his father, Varqá came in contact with the divine spirit and was utterly magnetized by the onrushing forces of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation. He truly became a new creation and emerged as one of the spiritual giants of this age. The first time he gazed upon the face of His Lord he was surprised, because he thought that he had previously seen Him somewhere, but he could not remember the occasion or the place. He was puzzled by this until one day after several times coming into His presence, Bahá'u'lláh said to


1. Memorials of the Faithful, pp. 85-6.
him, 'Varqá! Burn away the idols of vain imaginings!' On hearing these words, Varqá immediately recalled a dream he had had when he was a child. He was in a garden playing with some dolls when 'God' arrived, took the dolls from him and burned them in the fire. When he told this dream to his parents they pointed out to him that no one can see God. However, he had completely forgotten this dream until that day when the words of Bahá'u'lláh exhorting him to burn the idols aroused his memory, and he knew that he had seen Bahá'u'lláh in his dream as a child.

Varqá has told the story2 that on one occasion a thought entered into his mind as he gazed in adoration upon the countenance of Bahá'u'lláh. He said to himself, 'I know that Bahá'u'lláh is the supreme Manifestation of God, but I wish He would give me a sign to this effect.' At that same instant the following verse from the Qur'án flashed into Varqá's mind:

Thou seest the earth barren and lifeless, but when We pour down rain on it, it is stirred to life, it swells, and it puts forth every kind of luxuriant growth in pairs.3
In that very moment, he wished in his heart that Bahá'u'lláh might repeat this verse to fulfil the sign he was looking for.

After some time, in the course of His utterances Bahá'u'lláh recited that same verse from the Qur'án. Varqá's wish was fulfilled, but he said to himself, 'Could this have been a mere coincidence?' As soon as this thought occurred to Varqá, Bahá'u'lláh turned and said to him abruptly, 'Was this not a sufficient proof for you?' Varqá was dumbfounded. He was shaken but assured in his heart of the truth of these words of Bahá'u'lláh:

O heedless ones!
Think not the secrets of hearts are hidden, nay, know ye of a certainty that in clear characters they are engraved and are openly manifest in the holy Presence.4

It is not right for man to test God. Bahá'u'lláh seldom

2. Related by Varqá's son, the Hand of the Cause of God Valíyy'u'lláh Varqá, to the Hand of the Cause of God Dhikru'lláh Khadem.

3. Qur'án 22:5.

4. Hidden Words, Persian no. 59.

responded positively to those who demanded miracles from Him. But He often revealed a measure of His glory and power to those who had recognized Him in order to strengthen their Faith.*

Varqá never doubted the station of Bahá'u'lláh when such thoughts occurred to him. This is perhaps the human way of reacting when the individual stands face to face with the One whom he knows to be the embodiment of the 'Most Great Spirit' of God. Faith is a relative term. Its intensity varies from person to person. Those who turn to Bahá'u'lláh with absolute sincerity in their hearts and submit themselves to Him can reach the pinnacle of faith. Certainly Varqá, as a result of this and other experiences in the presence of Bahá'u'lláh, reached the highest level of certitude and assurance. He was so carried away into the realms of the spirit that this mortal life was of no value to him any longer. He begged Bahá'u'lláh to enable him to lay down his life in the path of God, and this he did.

Varqá returned to Persia as a flame of fire, a tower of strength, a mine of knowledge and virtues. He served the Faith with heroism and wisdom. It is beyond the scope of this book to go into the details of his distinguished services, or to recount the stories of his turbulent life. He chose the city of Tabríz as his main place of residence, but in the year AH 1300 (AD 1882-3) he went to his native city of Yazd to meet his only sister, Bíbí Tuba, who was very lonely after the exile of her father and brothers from Yazd. However, Varqá was arrested and imprisoned there. He was kept in custody for about one year and later transferred to the prison of Isfahán where he succeeded in converting certain tribal leaders to the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh. When released he returned to Tabríz.

Varqá was granted the privilege of a second pilgrimage to the presence of His Lord. This was about a year before the ascension of Bahá'u'lláh. This time, however, he was accompanied by two of his sons, 'Azízu'lláh and Rúhu'lláh, and his father-in-law


* For a fuller discussion of this theme see vol. 3, pp. 300-305 and 389-91.

Mírzá 'Abdu'lláh-i-Núrí, a devoted believer of note who was prominent among the government officials in Tabríz.

This time, as on the first occasion, Bahá'u'lláh showered upon Varqá much praise and admiration for his services to the Faith. The blessings and bounties that he received from His Lord were indeed boundless. He and his sons, though young in age, basked in the sunshine of Bahá'u'lláh's presence. They all became filled with the spirit of joy and certitude, and intoxicated with the wine of His presence.

In order to please Varqá, Bahá'u'lláh once told him that since he was knowledgeable in medicine he ought to prescribe a remedy for Him, as He did not feel well; later He told him that He had taken the medicine.

Once Varqá asked Bahá'u'lláh, 'How will the Cause of God be universally adopted by mankind?' Bahá'u'lláh said that first, the nations of the world would arm themselves with infernal engines of war, and when fully armed would attack each other like bloodthirsty beasts. As a result, there would be enormous bloodshed throughout the world. Then the wise from all nations would gather together to investigate the cause of such bloodshed. They would come to the conclusion that prejudices were the cause, a major form being religious prejudice. They would therefore try to eliminate religion so as to eliminate prejudice. Later they would realize that man cannot live without religion. Then they would study the teachings of all religions to see which of the religions conformed to the prevailing conditions of the time. It is then that the Cause of God would become universal.

Once Bahá'u'lláh spoke to Varqá about the station of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and extolled His virtues and heavenly qualities. He said that in this world of being there was a phenomenon which He had referred to in some Tablets as the 'Most Great Elixir'. Any person who possessed this power would be able to exert enormous influence in the world through his work and could do anything he desired. Consider Christ after His crucifixion: the Jews had


* These and the following accounts are not the exact words of Bahá'u'lláh, but convey the gist of what He said to Varqá.

completely ignored Him. They had not even mentioned His name in their books. But since He possessed this power, He could not remain unrecognized. He revolutionized the world. Yet Christ used to avoid fools. And now, look at the Master. Observe with what patience and compassion He dealt with all types of people. He possessed this power, therefore immeasurable was the extent of the influence He would exert upon the world of humanity.

When Varqá heard this, he was so filled with joy and excitement that he fell prostrate at Bahá'u'lláh's feet and begged Him to make it possible for him and one of his sons to lay down their lives in the path of the Master. Bahá'u'lláh favoured him with His acceptance. When he returned to Persia, Varqá wrote to Bahá'u'lláh and renewed his plea for martyrdom, a plea to which He again favourably responded. And, as we shall see later, this happened; he was martyred during the Ministry of 'Abdu'l-Bahá.

It is not possible for those of us who have not reached that level of utter devotion to Bahá'u'lláh, and have not become intoxicated with the wine of His Revelation, to understand the motive of a high-minded person, talented and well-balanced, in seeking to give his life for the Cause. These people who sought martyrdom must have attained the pinnacle of faith and assurance. They must have seen with their spiritual eyes a glimpse of the inner reality of their Lord, and have become magnetized by His glory. These souls, the moth-like lovers of His beauty, were so dazzled by the splendours of the light of His countenance that they wished to sacrifice themselves in His path.

But in most cases Bahá'u'lláh has discouraged the believers from seeking martyrdom. He has, in His Tablets, urged the friends to protect their lives by all means possible, so as to be able to teach the Cause of God to others. Indeed, Bahá'u'lláh has given the station of martyr to those who teach the Cause with wisdom.*

Some who had the privilege of attaining the presence of Bahá'u'lláh begged Him to accept them as martyrs in His path, knowing that only if He gave His assent would it come about.


* For further discussion see vol. 2, p. 94.

We shall see a noble example of this in the lives of the two illustrious brothers of Isfahán entitled by Bahá'u'lláh the 'King of Martyrs' and the 'Beloved of Martyrs'.

Varqá's two children 'Azízu'lláh and Rúhu'lláh who accompanied him to 'Akká also had the honour of attaining the presence of Bahá'u'lláh several times. Contact with the Supreme Manifestation of God left an abiding impression on their souls. Though young in age they both became charged with the spirit of faith. Rúhu'lláh in particular flourished spiritually in those holy surroundings. He may be regarded as one of the spiritual prodigies which the hand of God has raised up in this Dispensation. Although He was only about eight years old when He came into the presence of Bahá'u'lláh, his understanding of the Faith was very profound.

To cite one example: One day Bahá'u'lláh asked Rúhu'lláh, 'What did you do today?'

He replied, 'I was having lessons from - [a certain teacher].'

Bahá'u'lláh asked, 'What subject were you learning?'

'Concerning the return {of the prophets}', said Rúhu'lláh.

'Will you explain what this means?' Bahá'u'lláh demanded.

He replied: 'By return is meant the return of realities and qualities.'

Bahá'u'lláh, questioning him further, said: 'These are exactly the words of your teacher and you are repeating them like a parrot. Tell me in your own words your own understanding of the subject.'

'It is like cutting a flower from a plant this year,' answered Rúhu'lláh. 'Next year's flower will look exactly like this one, but it is not the same.'

The Blessed Beauty praised the child for his intelligent answer and often called him Jináb-i-Muballigh (His honour, the Bahá'í teacher).

On another occasion Bahá'u'lláh asked Rúhu'lláh how he spent his time at home. He answered, 'We teach the Faith and tell the people that the "Promised One" has come.' Bahá'u'lláh, obviously enjoying this conversation, then asked him what he would do if it


were found that the Message of the Báb was not authentic and the true Promised One appeared. 'I would try to teach him the Faith,' was his prompt reply.

Varqá had four sons. We have already mentioned the first two. The third son was Valíyy'u'lláh, who lived longest and distinguished himself as an outstanding servant of the Faith. He was Trustee of the Huqúq'u'lláh,* appointed by Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Faith. Later in 1951 Shoghi Effendi appointed him as one of the Hands of the Cause of God. He passed away in 1955.

The fourth son, Badí'u'lláh, died at a young age. All four were the recipients as children of Tablets revealed by Bahá'u'lláh in their honour and in each case He has abundantly favoured them with His bounties and blessings.

After the ascension of Bahá'u'lláh, Varqá, together with the same two children, went on pilgrimage to the presence of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. As in the past, 'Abdu'l-Bahá and His sister the Greatest Holy Leaf showed admiration and love for Rúhu'lláh, and both enjoyed talking to him.

One day the Greatest Holy Leaf noticed that Rúhu'lláh and his older brother 'Azízu'lláh were playing in the garden. She called them in and they sat in her presence. Also present were Mírzá Badí'u'lláh and Mírzá Díyá'u'lláh, the two sons of Bahá'u'lláh who later joined hands with Mírzá Muhammad-'Alí† the Arch-breaker of the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh. The Greatest Holy Leaf, often referred to as 'Khánum', asked them what they said to people when teaching the Faith.

'We tell them', Rúhu'lláh answered, 'that God has manifested Himself.'

Surprised at this remark, Khánum told them that surely they could not say such a thing straight away to people!

'We don't tell this to everybody,' responded Rúhu'lláh, 'we


* see below, pp. 248-56.

† For a further discussion of the Covenant and Covenant-breaking see God Passes By and Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vols. 1, 2 and 3.

only say it to those who have the capacity to hear such a statement.'

'How would you know such people?' asked Khánum.

'We look into their eyes and then know whether we can give them the Message,' replied Rúhu'lláh.

Khánum laughed heartily and then beckoned Rúhu'lláh to come close and look into her eyes to find out whether she had the capacity for hearing such words. In obedience to her request Rúhu'lláh sat down opposite the Greatest Holy Leaf, looked intently into her eyes and then said, 'You already believe in these words.'

Then it was the turn of the two sons of Bahá'u'lláh. Rúhu'lláh went close to them, looked searchingly into their eyes and sadly said to Khánum, 'They are not worth looking into!'

Truly, Rúhu'lláh was no ordinary child. He was an inspired being and acted as a spiritual giant. At a young age he wrote beautiful poetry which clearly demonstrates how deep was his love for Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá, how vast his knowledge of the Faith and how profound his understanding of the real purpose of life. He used to speak about the Faith in gatherings of divines and men of learning with such eloquence and knowledge, and produce such irrefutable proofs of the truth of the Faith that many were confounded after hearing him. His answers were profound yet simple and very compelling.

There are some delightful stories related to this indefatigable child-teacher of the Cause of God. To cite an example: Although only twelve years of age, Rúhu'lláh attended with his father several meetings in Zanján at which the divines of the city were present. The Governor of Zanján, 'Alá'u'd-Dawlih, had especially arranged these meetings in order that Varqá might confront the divines in defence of his Faith. Hájí Mírzá Haydar-'Alí has written about this in his celebrated book of reminiscences, the Bihjatu's-Sudúr:

Varqá...was prepared to prove, by the power of divine assistance, the authenticity of this most great Revelation



An Apostle of Bahá'u'lláh and one of the outstanding Bahá'í poets of the age



In chains in the prison of Tihrán where they were martyred

which is promised in all the heavenly Books, and to establish the validity of the basic principles, laws both spiritual and physical, and even secondary matters in the Faith using the Qur'án as the basis of his argument...

This prompted 'Alá'u'd-Dawlih, the Governor of Zanján, to convene several meetings. He ordered the divines of Zanján to attend, and arranged for Bahá'í books and Tablets to be taken to these meetings. After reading some of these, the objections of the divines were adequately answered sometimes by Varqá and sometimes by Rúhu'lláh. The answers, which were all supported by the verses of the Qur'án, were convincing and irrefutable.

Since the defeat of the divines in their argument became evident to the Governor, who was a powerful and courageous personality, the divines did not dare to label Varqá as an infidel and issue his death warrant. In these meetings 'Alá'u'd-Dawlih often permitted the twelve-year-old Rúhu'lláh to speak with the divines. He used to prove the subject with amazing courage, eloquence and profundity. His talks were so sweet that the Governor admitted that the proofs which that child had adduced were a great miracle in his sight...5

Another story goes like this: Once Rúhu'lláh and his older brother were walking in town. A Muslim clergyman riding on his donkey spotted the two boys and from their appearance he knew they were strangers in Zanján. So he went to them and said, 'Who are you?'

Rúhu'lláh answered, 'We are sons of Varqá, a native of Yazd.'

'What is your name?' the clergyman demanded.

'My name is Rúhu'lláh,' came the answer.

'That is a great name,' said the clergyman. 'Christ was Rúhu'lláh* and He used to raise the dead and give them life.'

'Sir, if you slow down the pace of your donkey,' Rúhu'lláh declared with great enthusiasm, 'I too shall raise you from the dead and give you a new life!'


* 'Rúhu'lláh' literally means the 'Spirit of God', a title of Christ mentioned in the Qur'án.

5. Bihjatu's-Sudúr, p. 413.
The clergyman hurriedly left saying, 'You two must be Bábí* children!'

The full story of the circumstances which led to the martyrdom of Varqá and his twelve-year-old son Rúhu'lláh is beyond the scope of this book. Both of them were engulfed in a series of arrests and imprisonments. They were transferred from prison to prison weighed down with chains, their feet placed in stocks. As a result they suffered much hardship and torture until at the end Varqá was martyred when in a rage Hájibu'd-Dawlih, the chief steward in charge of the Prison of Tihrán, pierced his stomach with a dagger. Rúhu'lláh saw his father fall to the ground, and then his body was cut into pieces. A short while later, refusing to recant his faith and earnestly wishing to join his father, that noble and heroic child was strangled to death. This was in May 1896.

Thus ended the life of two immortal heroes of the Bahá'í Dispensation. Both father and son have immeasurably enriched the annals of the Faith and shed such a lustre upon it that generations yet unborn will be inspired by the example of their lives and moved to scale the lofty heights of service in the promotion of the Cause of God.

Tablets to Varqá

There are numerous Tablets revealed by Bahá'u'lláh for Varqá which, if compiled, would make up a large volume. A common feature of them all is the outpouring of grace and manifold favours upon him. Bahá'u'lláh refers to Varqá as one who has truly recognized the exalted station of His Lord, and has had the honour of attaining His presence. He testifies that Varqá has immersed himself in the ocean of His words, soared in the heaven of His love, drunk deep of the living waters of His remembrance, turned himself wholly towards Him, and served His Cause with utter dedication. He showers praises upon him for his devotion


* For many years in Persia Bahá'ís were known as 'Bábís'.

and love, his steadfastness, his sincerity, his faithfulness and his meritorious teaching activities.

In one of His Tablets revealed about 1888-96 Bahá'u'lláh highly commends Varqá for having adorned his being with the mantle of servitude and assures him that it is God who has desired that same mantle for him.

We have stated in previous volumes* that the only station that God has destined for man in this life is that of servitude. Great powers will descend from on high upon a believer only when he renders service to the Cause in a spirit of utter humility and servitude. To seek to exalt oneself above others will inevitably lead to pride, spiritual decline and even downfall. A service motivated by selfish desires is not acceptable in the sight of God. 'Humble Thyself before Me that I may graciously visit thee', are the Words of Bahá'u'lláh.7 But it is not possible for man to become humble and attain the station of servitude until he discovers a motivating force to direct him in his path.

There is a beautiful story in verse by the renowned Persian poet Sa'dí. It is the story of a drop of rain falling from the clouds. The drop knew itself to be the water of life, the most precious element that God had created, and so it was very proud of itself. Boasting all the way down it suddenly saw an ocean beneath. It was then that it recognized its own insignificance and exclaimed, 'If this exists, then what am I?' And when the ocean heard this expression of humility, it attracted the drop to itself and caused it to become the companion of the pearl.

The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh is like the ocean and the believer like a drop. Whenever, through his own endeavours and with the help of prayer, the individual succeeds in seeing a glimpse of the majesty and grandeur of Bahá'u'lláh, he will, like the drop when it saw the ocean, become the embodiment of self-effacement and utter nothingness which are the highest attainments for man and the essential makings of a spiritual giant. For not until a soul recognizes the greatness of the Cause of God can it truly become humble.


* For further discussion see vol. 1, pp. 133-4, and vol. 3, p. 405.

6. Unpublished compilation, National Archives Committee no. 19, p. 279.

7. Hidden Words, Arabic no. 42.

The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh has ushered in the 'Day of God', a day that all the Prophets and Founders of the world religions have foretold. It is essential for a believer who wishes to attain the station of servitude to acquire steadily, through reciting the Holy Writings and the study of the history of the Faith, a clearer understanding of the station of Bahá'u'lláh and a keener insight into His stupendous Revelation, a revelation which 'stands unparalleled in the annals of the past, nor will future ages witness its like'.8 No Bahá'í can ever claim that he has fully understood the greatness of this Revelation.* This is a never-ending goal. Since faith and understanding are relative terms, people are all positioned at different levels on this path. The more an individual recognizes the glories of the Faith, the more humble he becomes.

The Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh to Varqá are replete with passages in which He extols with great eloquence the loftiness and grandeur of the Cause He has revealed, glorifies the Person of its Author, unravels some of the mysterious and superhuman forces which have been released by Him in this age and lays bare some of the truths which are enshrined in His Writings.

In a lengthy Tablet revealed for Varqá in about 1887-8,9 several years before His ascension, Bahá'u'lláh lauds in glowing terms the greatness of His Revelation, affirms that the verses of God have been sent down in great profusion, that proofs and testimonies of His Cause have encompassed the world, that the pearls of wisdom and utterance have been brought forth for all to see, and that the Tongue of Grandeur has uttered His call to the nations, and yet in spite of this outpouring of God's grace and bounty the people of the world have remained for the most part uninformed. Some have heard the Call of God but remained heedless. Only a few have witnessed the glory of His Revelation and embraced His Cause.

Deploring the blindness and perversity of humanity in this age, Bahá'u'lláh states that people are brought up to believe in


* For a fuller discussion of the greatness of the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh see vols. 1, 2, 3, and below, pp. 125-39.

8. Bahá'u'lláh, quoted by Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 65.

9. Unpublished compilation, National Archives Committee no. 19, pp. 303-4.

their old and antiquated traditions which are, for the most part, the product of vain imaginings. These traditions, though but a drop, are considered by them to be an ocean; while the ocean of God's Revelation, surging with the billows of knowledge and truth, seems to be but a drop in their sight. The cause of this blindness He attributes to waywardness and ignorance, to pride and unseemly deeds. He prays that God may vouchsafe to the people of the world the capacity to realize that He has released enormous spiritual forces for the regeneration of mankind. He further affirms that the Cause of God stands transcendent and supreme and that the influence it will exert upon the human race is irresistible.

In this Tablet Bahá'u'lláh calls upon the believers to render Him victorious by the hosts of goodly deeds and praiseworthy character. He states that day and night His tongue is engaged in exhorting His loved ones to a virtuous life and saintly conduct, through which His Cause will be glorified and His Word exalted. He urges the believers to teach His Cause, but counsels them to carry out this injunction with great wisdom, reminds them that speech in moderation acts as the water of life for the soul, whereas if it is carried beyond the bounds of moderation it will give birth to fanaticism and malice.

In an earlier Tablet to Varqá revealed about 1880-8110 Bahá'u'lláh describes the condition of humanity as grievous. Man can clearly see the instability of this mortal life and the continued disturbances and changes which overtake the world. He can witness at all times in every created thing the signs and tokens of ultimate extinction. And yet he is utterly heedless of his own extinction. Wayward and negligent he roams over the earth, occupies himself with that which perishes, and commits such deeds as will bring upon him everlasting loss and deprivation.

Bahá'u'lláh explains that all created things speak out at all times, but their call is muted. Only those who are endowed with hearing ears can hear them speak eloquently of their evanescent life. For example, the sun tells its own story; it rises in the morning and sets in the evening. The call of change and eventual


10. Unpublished compilation, National Archives Committee no. 32, p. 317.
perishing may be heard from all sides, but human beings with deaf ears cannot hear it. In a Tablet,11 Bahá'u'lláh metaphorically describes the sad plight of man, saying that this material world laughs at those who have attached themselves to it and become its bond-slaves. It addresses them scornfully, saying, 'Pity on you, people who have failed to find someone greater than me to follow.'

The main cause of man's blindness and perversity is his attachment to the things of this world. The subject of detachment repeatedly appears in the Holy Writings and we have discussed it in previous volumes. Man is usually attracted to material things. The heart is a focal point of warmth and love. The characteristic of the heart is to fall in love with another party, and it is the individual who finds and chooses that party. For example, if man turns his affections to the material world, his heart will become attached to material things very easily. But if he turns to God and spiritual things, then his heart can fall in love with Him provided he fulfils the condition stated by Bahá'u'lláh in the Hidden Words:

O Son of Being! Thy heart is My home; sanctify it for My descent...12
Elsewhere in the same book Bahá'u'lláh explains:

O Son of Dust! All that is in heaven and earth I have ordained for thee, except the human heart, which I have made the habitation of My beauty and glory; yet thou didst give My home and dwelling to another than Me; and whenever the manifestation of My holiness sought His own abode, a stranger found He there, and, homeless, hastened unto the sanctuary of the Beloved...13
and again:

O My Friend in Word! Ponder a while. Hast thou ever heard that friend and foe should abide in one heart? Cast out then the stranger, that the Friend may enter His home.14
It is a fascinating thought that God has given man an infinite

11. Iqtidárát, p. 301.

12. Hidden Words, Arabic no. 59; The Dawn-Breakers, p. 8; vol. 2, p. 216

13. ibid. Persian no. 27.

14. ibid. Persian no. 26.

number of things--all that is in heaven and earth. This means that everything in this creation belongs to man except one thing, and that is his own heart. 'The stranger' mentioned above is none other than man's attachment to this world and the most formidable type of attachment is the love of one's own self. This type of attachment manifests itself mainly in the form of pride in one's own knowledge and other accomplishments such as rank and position. It is the love of one's own self that renders the individual opinionated, self-centred, proud and egotistical. In fact, it denudes him of spiritual qualities. Such a person has indeed harboured within his heart a great enemy, namely, 'the stranger'.

That the heart is entrusted to man by God for the descent of His love and bestowals and not for harbouring passion and worldly desires is the very basis of the spiritual life of the individual. How vast is the gap between this concept and that of the great majority of the human race today who live their lives forgetful of the purpose for which they are created!

The heart pulsates within the body and through its life-giving energies every organ becomes active. The eyes, the ears, the tongue, the mind, the hands, all function in harmony with the heart. Since the heart is meant to be the dawning-place of the love of God, it is only logical that these organs should follow suit. Indeed, Bahá'u'lláh has confirmed this in many of His Tablets. 'Know thou', He states, 'that the ear of man hath been created that it may hearken unto The Divine Voice on this day...' 15 And in His Book of the Covenant he states: Verily I say, the tongue is for mentioning what is good, defile it not with unseemly talk.16 In one instance He states that the ears are created to hear His Melodies, the eyes to behold the effulgent light of His Countenance, the tongue to utter His praise and glorification and the hands to hold His Epistles and Tablets.17

These are very exalted teachings, all pointing to a new way of life in which the believer must be vigilant not to abuse his God-given powers. To the extent that the individual can abide by these standards in his daily life, and is able to harmonize his


15. Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 2.

16. Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 219.

17. Áthár-i-Qalam-i-A'lá, vol. 2, pp. 48-9.

thoughts, his words and his deeds with the Will of his Creator, he can succeed in reaching the goal of nearness to God. Returning to the theme of a perverse humanity, Bahá'u'lláh in a Tablet to Varqá 18 declares that in this day the whole world has been immersed in the ocean of God's Revelation; verses have been sent down from the heaven of the Will of God; the Sun of Truth has shone forth, all testimonies and proofs have been fulfilled; the Speaker on Sinai* has ascended the Throne of His Sovereignty, and the Shrill Voice† of His exalted Pen has been heard far and wide. But the people are found to be in palpable error, and deprived of any sense to discover the truth.

Such sentiments, with their sad features depicting the perversity of the human race in this age, are to be found in abundance among the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh. He grieves over humanity's blindness and in His prayers He invokes the power of God to bestow upon mankind the gift of a new vision so that it can see the Glory of God manifested in this day.

In another Tablet to Varqá,19 and expounding the same theme, Bahá'u'lláh states that even the German Templers,‡ who had discovered through the Gospels that the coming of the Lord was nigh, and had gone to the Holy Land with the express purpose of coming face to face with Him, had utterly failed to recognize their Lord when He manifested Himself to them.

Now, almost a century later, the Cause of God has spread throughout the world, multitudes of people from all walks of life and of every colour and class have embraced it, and the rising institutions of its embryonic world order have been reared throughout the globe; yet still the generality of mankind and its leaders, both secular and ecclesiastic, have so far remained unmoved or uninformed.

Humanity is desperately seeking solutions to the horrific perils


* One of the titles of Bahá'u'lláh, see God Passes By, p. 94.

† For an explanation of this term see vol. 1, p. 35n.

‡ A group of German Protestants who left their homes and took up residence mainly on the slopes of Mt. Carmel, Haifa, in anticipation of the return of Christ. For further details see vol. 3, pp. 28-31.

18. Unpublished; dated 29 Rabí'u'l-Avval 1304 (26 December 1886).

19. Unpublished compilation, National Archives Committee no. 19, p. 338.

with which it is faced today. It experiments with every ideology or creed that it may come across in order to halt the destructive process which in ever-increasing acceleration is threatening to destroy the fabric of its present-day society. But so far it has not found a solution. Religious leaders, who are witnessing the bankruptcy of their time-honoured institutions and the inapplicability of old standards to the modern age, try to adapt new standards through making compromises, but these in their turn seriously undermine those religious teachings which had remained unchanged for centuries. The strict standards of truth which in older days were to be found in religious teachings are now in many parts of the world replaced by public opinion. The incompatibility of the two has forced religious leaders to walk a tight-rope, while people become increasingly disenchanted with religion. Many have swelled the ranks of agnostics and atheists in this century, while others are creating cults and religious sects mainly based on trivial or sensational ideologies.

While the religious leaders are constantly engaged in finding a way out, a great many people embrace these cults which become fashionable for a time. But when the novelty wears off or dissatisfaction sets in, or the movements become impotent and disintegrate, then they look for another saviour, another movement or another sect, and there are many to turn to throughout the world. And so the experiment to find peace and tranquillity in one's life continues. But so far few have found happiness or peace of mind.

On the other hand, the political leaders and the world's statesmen are struggling both individually and collectively to solve the problems facing mankind. Like religious leaders, they too are trying very hard to discover a formula. But since their actions are based on expediency and short-term interests, the world's horizons become darker every day. Neither religious leaders nor those in the political and social spheres have as yet found an answer to the ills of mankind.

And so the struggle goes on. Humanity will try everything until it reaches the stage of utter hopelessness and despair.


Bahá'u'lláh forecasts the outcome in these words:

The world is in travail, and its agitation waxeth day by day. Its face is turned towards waywardness and unbelief. Such shall be its plight, that to disclose it now would not be meet and seemly. Its perversity will long continue. And when the appointed hour is come, there shall suddenly appear that which shall cause the limbs of mankind to quake. Then, and only then, will the Divine Standard be unfurled, and the Nightingale of Paradise warble its melody.20
We can see from the history of past religions too that each one has been ignored by the people in its own day. For instance, for some centuries the Message of Christ was ignored. But as it was the Message of God, it eventually penetrated into the hearts of people. Bahá'u'lláh in His Writings has made a very interesting statement concerning the future of His Cause. He unequivocally proclaimed that God has manifested Himself in this day and that there is no way out for the human race except to embrace His Cause. But it is apparent, from the world conditions now prevailing, that humanity will have to go through great suffering and tribulation and become chastised before reaching the final stage of turning its attention to the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh and entering into that tabernacle of unity of which He speaks in these words:

How vast is the tabernacle of the Cause of God! It hath overshadowed all the peoples and kindreds of the earth, and will, ere long, gather together the whole of mankind beneath its shelter.21

20. Gleanings, LXI.

21. Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 84.