SECOND PERIOD

THE MINISTRY OF BAHÁ'U'LLÁH
1853–1892

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CHAPTER VI

The Birth of The Bahá'í Revelation

 
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The train of dire events that followed in swift succession the calamitous attempt on the life of Násiri'd-Dín Sháh mark, as already observed, the termination of the Bábí Dispensation and the closing of the initial, the darkest and bloodiest chapter of the history of the first Bahá'í century. A phase of measureless tribulation had been ushered in by these events, in the course of which the fortunes of the Faith proclaimed by the Báb sank to their lowest ebb. Indeed ever since its inception trials and vexations, setbacks and disappointments, denunciations, betrayals and massacres had, in a steadily rising crescendo, contributed to the decimation of the ranks of its followers, strained to the utmost the loyalty of its stoutest upholders, and all but succeeded in disrupting the foundations on which it rested.    
From its birth, government, clergy and people had risen as one man against it and vowed eternal enmity to its cause. Muhammad Sháh, weak alike in mind and will, had, under pressure, rejected the overtures made to him by the Báb Himself, had declined to meet Him face to face, and even refused Him admittance to the capital. The youthful Násiri'd-Dín Sháh, of a cruel and imperious nature, had, both as crown prince and as reigning sovereign, increasingly evinced the bitter hostility which, at a later stage in his reign, was to blaze forth in all its dark and ruthless savagery. The powerful and sagacious Mu'tamid, the one solitary figure who could have extended Him the support and protection He so sorely needed, was taken from Him by a sudden death. The Sherif of Mecca, who through the mediation of Quddús had been made acquainted with the new Revelation on the occasion of the Báb's pilgrimage to Mecca, had turned a deaf ear to the Divine Message, and received His messenger with curt indifference. The prearranged gathering that was to have taken place in the holy city of Karbilá, in the course of the Báb's return journey from Hijáz, had, to the disappointment of His followers who had been eagerly awaiting His arrival, to be definitely abandoned. The eighteen Letters of the Living, the principal bastions that buttressed the infant strength of the Faith, had for the most part fallen. The "Mirrors," the "Guides," the "Witnesses" comprising the Bábí hierarchy had either been put to the sword, or hounded from their native soil, or bludgeoned into silence. The program, whose essentials had been communicated to the foremost among them, had, owing to their excessive zeal, remained for the most part unfulfilled. The attempts which two of those disciples had made to establish the Faith in Turkey and India had signally failed at the very outset of their mission. The tempests that had swept Mázindarán, Nayríz and Zanján had, in addition to blasting to their roots the promising careers of the venerated Quddús, the lion-hearted Mullá Husayn, the erudite Vahíd, and the indomitable Hujjat, cut short the lives of an alarmingly large number of the most resourceful and most valiant of their fellow-disciples. The hideous outrages associated with the death of the Seven Martyrs of Tihrán had been responsible for the extinction of yet another living symbol of the Faith, who, by reason of his close kinship to, and intimate association with, the Báb, no less than by virtue of his inherent qualities, would if spared have decisively contributed to the protection and furtherance of a struggling Cause.
Letters of the Living
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The storm which subsequently burst, with unexampled violence, on a community already beaten to its knees, had, moreover, robbed it of its greatest heroine, the incomparable Táhirih, still in the full tide of her victories, had sealed the doom of Siyyid Husayn, the Báb's trusted amanuensis and chosen repository of His last wishes, had laid low Mullá 'Abdu'l-Karím-i-Qazvíní, admittedly one of the very few who could claim to possess a profound knowledge of the origins of the Faith, and had plunged into a dungeon Bahá'u'lláh, the sole survivor among the towering figures of the new Dispensation. The Báb—the Fountainhead from whence the vitalizing energies of a newborn Revelation had flowed—had Himself, ere the outburst of that hurricane, succumbed, in harrowing circumstances, to the volleys of a firing squad leaving behind, as titular head of a well-nigh disrupted community, a mere figurehead, timid in the extreme, good-natured yet susceptible to the slightest influence, devoid of any outstanding qualities, who now (loosed from the controlling hand of Bahá'u'lláh, the real Leader) was seeking, in the guise of a dervish, the protection afforded by the hills of his native Mázindarán against the threatened assaults of a deadly enemy. The voluminous writings of the Founder of the Faith—in manuscript, dispersed, unclassified, poorly transcribed and ill-preserved, were in part, owing to the fever and tumult of the times, either deliberately destroyed, confiscated, or hurriedly dispatched to places of safety beyond the confines of the land in which they were revealed. Powerful adversaries, among whom towered the figure of the inordinately ambitious and hypocritical Hájí Mírzá Karím Khán, who at the special request of the Sháh had in a treatise viciously attacked the new Faith and its doctrines, had now raised their heads, and, emboldened by the reverses it had sustained, were heaping abuse and calumnies upon it. Furthermore, under the stress of intolerable circumstances, a few of the Bábís were constrained to recant their faith, while others went so far as to apostatize and join the ranks of the enemy. And now to the sum of these dire misfortunes a monstrous calumny, arising from the outrage perpetrated by a handful of irresponsible enthusiasts, was added, branding a holy and innocent Faith with an infamy that seemed indelible, and which threatened to loosen it from its foundations.  
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And yet the Fire which the Hand of Omnipotence had lighted, though smothered by this torrent of tribulations let loose upon it, was not quenched. The flame which for nine years had burned with such brilliant intensity was indeed momentarily extinguished, but the embers which that great conflagration had left behind still glowed, destined, at no distant date, to blaze forth once again, through the reviving breezes of an incomparably greater Revelation, and to shed an illumination that would not only dissipate the surrounding darkness but project its radiance as far as the extremities of both the Eastern and Western Hemispheres. Just as the enforced captivity and isolation of the Báb had, on the one hand, afforded Him the opportunity of formulating His doctrine, of unfolding the full implications of His Revelation, of formally and publicly declaring His station and of establishing His Covenant, and, on the other hand, had been instrumental in the proclamation of the laws of His Dispensation through the voice of His disciples assembled in Badasht, so did the crisis of unprecedented magnitude, culminating in the execution of the Báb and the imprisonment of Bahá'u'lláh, prove to be the prelude of a revival which, through the quickening power of a far mightier Revelation, was to immortalize the fame, and fix on a still more enduring foundation, far beyond the confines of His native land, the original Message of the Prophet of Shíráz.    
At a time when the Cause of the Báb seemed to be hovering on the brink of extinction, when the hopes and ambitions which animated it had, to all human seeming, been frustrated, when the colossal sacrifices of its unnumbered lovers appeared to have been made in vain, the Divine Promise enshrined within it was about to be suddenly redeemed, and its final perfection mysteriously manifested. The Bábí Dispensation was being brought to its close (not prematurely but in its own appointed time), and was yielding its destined fruit and revealing its ultimate purpose—the birth of the Mission of Bahá'u'lláh. In this most dark and dreadful hour a New Light was about to break in glory on Persia's somber horizon. As a result of what was in fact an evolving, ripening process, the most momentous if not the most spectacular stage in the Heroic Age of the Faith was now about to open.  
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During nine years, as foretold by the Báb Himself, swiftly, mysteriously and irresistibly the embryonic Faith conceived by Him had been developing until, at the fixed hour, the burden of the promised Cause of God was cast amidst the gloom and agony of the Síyáh-Chál of Tihrán. "Behold," Bahá'u'lláh Himself, years later, testified, in refutation of the claims of those who had rejected the validity of His mission following so closely upon that of the Báb, "how immediately upon the completion of the ninth year of this wondrous, this most holy and merciful Dispensation, the requisite number of pure, of wholly consecrated and sanctified souls has been most secretly consummated." "That so brief an interval," He, moreover has asserted, "should have separated this most mighty and wondrous Revelation from Mine own previous Manifestation is a secret that no man can unravel, and a mystery such as no mind can fathom. Its duration had been foreordained."    
St. John the Divine had himself, with reference to these two successive Revelations, clearly prophesied: "The second woe is past; and, behold the third woe cometh quickly." "This third woe," 'Abdu'l-Bahá, commenting upon this verse, has explained, "is the day of the Manifestation of Bahá'u'lláh, the Day of God, and it is near to the day of the appearance of the Báb." "All the peoples of the world," He moreover has asserted, "are awaiting two Manifestations, Who must be contemporaneous; all wait for the fulfillment of this promise." And again: "The essential fact is that all are promised two Manifestations, Who will come one following on the other." Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsá'í, that luminous star of Divine guidance who had so clearly perceived, before the year sixty, the approaching glory of Bahá'u'lláh, and laid stress upon "the twin Revelations which are to follow each other in rapid succession," had, on his part, made this significant statement regarding the approaching hour of that supreme Revelation, in an epistle addressed in his own hand to Siyyid Kázim: "The mystery of this Cause must needs be made manifest, and the secret of this Message must needs be divulged. I can say no more. I can appoint no time. His Cause will be made known after Hín (68)."  
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The circumstances in which the Vehicle of this newborn Revelation, following with such swiftness that of the Báb, received the first intimations of His sublime mission recall, and indeed surpass in poignancy the soul-shaking experience of Moses when confronted by the Burning Bush in the wilderness of Sinai; of Zoroaster when awakened to His mission by a succession of seven visions; of Jesus when coming out of the waters of the Jordan He saw the heavens opened and the Holy Ghost descend like a dove and light upon Him; of Muhammad when in the Cave of Hira, outside of the holy city of Mecca, the voice of Gabriel bade Him "cry in the name of Thy Lord"; and of the Báb when in a dream He approached the bleeding head of the Imám Husayn, and, quaffing the blood that dripped from his lacerated throat, awoke to find Himself the chosen recipient of the outpouring grace of the Almighty.    
What, we may well inquire at this juncture, were the nature and implications of that Revelation which, manifesting itself so soon after the Declaration of the Báb, abolished, at one stroke, the Dispensation which that Faith had so newly proclaimed, and upheld, with such vehemence and force, the Divine authority of its Author? What, we may well pause to consider, were the claims of Him Who, Himself a disciple of the Báb, had, at such an early stage, regarded Himself as empowered to abrogate the Law identified with His beloved Master? What, we may further reflect, could be the relationship between the religious Systems established before Him and His own Revelation—a Revelation which, flowing out, in that extremely perilous hour, from His travailing soul, pierced the gloom that had settled upon that pestilential pit, and, bursting through its walls, and propagating itself as far as the ends of the earth, infused into the entire body of mankind its boundless potentialities, and is now under our very eyes, shaping the course of human society?    
He Who in such dramatic circumstances was made to sustain the overpowering weight of so glorious a Mission was none other than the One Whom posterity will acclaim, and Whom innumerable followers already recognize, as the Judge, the Lawgiver and Redeemer of all mankind, as the Organizer of the entire planet, as the Unifier of the children of men, as the Inaugurator of the long-awaited millennium, as the Originator of a new "Universal Cycle," as the Establisher of the Most Great Peace, as the Fountain of the Most Great Justice, as the Proclaimer of the coming of age of the entire human race, as the Creator of a new World Order, and as the Inspirer and Founder of a world civilization.
["He Who in such..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 304; vol. 3, p. 264

["the Judge, the Lawgiver..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 3, p. 393

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To Israel He was neither more nor less than the incarnation of the "Everlasting Father"; the "Lord of Hosts" come down "with ten thousands of saints"; to Christendom Christ returned "in the glory of the Father," to Shí'ah Islám the return of the Imám Husayn; to Sunní Islám the descent of the "Spirit of God" (Jesus Christ); to the Zoroastrians the promised Sháh-Bahrám; to the Hindus the reincarnation of Krishna; to the Buddhists the fifth Buddha.
The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 304; vol. 3, p. 264
 
In the name He bore He combined those of the Imám Husayn, the most illustrious of the successors of the Apostle of God—the brightest "star" shining in the "crown" mentioned in the Revelation of St. John—and of the Imám 'Alí, the Commander of the Faithful, the second of the two "witnesses" extolled in that same Book. He was formally designated Bahá'u'lláh, an appellation specifically recorded in the Persian Bayán, signifying at once the glory, the light and the splendor of God, and was styled the "Lord of Lords," the "Most Great Name," the "Ancient Beauty," the "Pen of the Most High," the "Hidden Name," the "Preserved Treasure," "He Whom God will make manifest," the "Most Great Light," the "All-Highest Horizon," the "Most Great Ocean," the "Supreme Heaven," the "Pre-Existent Root," the "Self-Subsistent," the "Day-Star of the Universe," the "Great Announcement," the "Speaker on Sinai," the "Sifter of Men," the "Wronged One of the World," the "Desire of the Nations," the "Lord of the Covenant," the "Tree beyond which there is no passing." He derived His descent, on the one hand, from Abraham (the Father of the Faithful) through his wife Katurah, and on the other from Zoroaster, as well as from Yazdigird, the last king of the Sásáníyán dynasty. He was moreover a descendant of Jesse, and belonged, through His father, Mírzá 'Abbás, better known as Mírzá Buzurg—a nobleman closely associated with the ministerial circles of the Court of Fath-'Alí Sháh—to one of the most ancient and renowned families of Mázindarán.
["In the name He bore..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 305

[Sadratu'l-Muntahá] Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 208

["Speaker on Sinai"] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 4, p. 70

The Dawn-Breakers, Genealogy of the Báb (#11)

 
To Him Isaiah, the greatest of the Jewish prophets, had alluded as the "Glory of the Lord," the "Everlasting Father," the "Prince of Peace," the "Wonderful," the "Counsellor," the "Rod come forth out of the stem of Jesse" and the "Branch grown out of His roots," Who "shall be established upon the throne of David," Who "will come with strong hand," Who "shall judge among the nations," Who "shall smite the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips slay the wicked," and Who "shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth." Of Him David had sung in his Psalms, acclaiming Him as the "Lord of Hosts" and the "King of Glory." To Him Haggai had referred as the "Desire of all nations," and Zachariah as the "Branch" Who "shall grow up out of His place," and "shall build the Temple of the Lord." Ezekiel had extolled Him as the "Lord" Who "shall be king over all the earth," while to His day Joel and Zephaniah had both referred as the "day of Jehovah," the latter describing it as "a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers." His Day Ezekiel and Daniel had, moreover, both acclaimed as the "day of the Lord," and Malachi described as "the great and dreadful day of the Lord" when "the Sun of Righteousness" will "arise, with healing in His wings," whilst Daniel had pronounced His advent as signalizing the end of the "abomination that maketh desolate."
The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 305
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To His Dispensation the sacred books of the followers of Zoroaster had referred as that in which the sun must needs be brought to a standstill for no less than one whole month. To Him Zoroaster must have alluded when, according to tradition, He foretold that a period of three thousand years of conflict and contention must needs precede the advent of the World-Savior Sháh-Bahrám, Who would triumph over Ahriman and usher in an era of blessedness and peace.    
He alone is meant by the prophecy attributed to Gautama Buddha Himself, that "a Buddha named Maitreye, the Buddha of universal fellowship" should, in the fullness of time, arise and reveal "His boundless glory." To Him the Bhagavad-Gita of the Hindus had referred as the "Most Great Spirit," the "Tenth Avatar," the "Immaculate Manifestation of Krishna."    
To Him Jesus Christ had referred as the "Prince of this world," as the "Comforter" Who will "reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment," as the "Spirit of Truth" Who "will guide you into all truth," Who "shall not speak of Himself, but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak," as the "Lord of the Vineyard," and as the "Son of Man" Who "shall come in the glory of His Father" "in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory," with "all the holy angels" about Him, and "all nations" gathered before His throne. To Him the Author of the Apocalypse had alluded as the "Glory of God," as "Alpha and Omega," "the Beginning and the End," "the First and the Last." Identifying His Revelation with the "third woe," he, moreover, had extolled His Law as "a new heaven and a new earth," as the "Tabernacle of God," as the "Holy City," as the "New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband." To His Day Jesus Christ Himself had referred as "the regeneration when the Son of Man shall sit in the throne of His glory." To the hour of His advent St. Paul had alluded as the hour of the "last trump," the "trump of God," whilst St. Peter had spoken of it as the "Day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat." His Day he, furthermore, had described as "the times of refreshing," "the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy Prophets since the world began."
The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 306
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To Him Muhammad, the Apostle of God, had alluded in His Book as the "Great Announcement," and declared His Day to be the Day whereon "God" will "come down" "overshadowed with clouds," the Day whereon "thy Lord shall come and the angels rank on rank," and "The Spirit shall arise and the angels shall be ranged in order." His advent He, in that Book, in a súrih said to have been termed by Him "the heart of the Qur'án," had foreshadowed as that of the "third" Messenger, sent down to "strengthen" the two who preceded Him. To His Day He, in the pages of that same Book, had paid a glowing tribute, glorifying it as the "Great Day," the "Last Day," the "Day of God," the "Day of Judgment," the "Day of Reckoning," the "Day of Mutual Deceit," the "Day of Severing," the "Day of Sighing," the "Day of Meeting," the Day "when the Decree shall be accomplished," the Day whereon the second "Trumpet blast" will be sounded, the "Day when mankind shall stand before the Lord of the world," and "all shall come to Him in humble guise," the Day when "thou shalt see the mountains, which thou thinkest so firm, pass away with the passing of a cloud," the Day "wherein account shall be taken," "the approaching Day, when men's hearts shall rise up, choking them, into their throats," the Day when "all that are in the heavens and all that are on the earth shall be terror-stricken, save him whom God pleaseth to deliver," the Day whereon "every suckling woman shall forsake her sucking babe, and every woman that hath a burden in her womb shall cast her burden," the Day "when the earth shall shine with the light of her Lord, and the Book shall be set, and the Prophets shall be brought up, and the witnesses; and judgment shall be given between them with equity; and none shall be wronged."
The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 306
 
The plenitude of His glory the Apostle of God had, moreover, as attested by Bahá'u'lláh Himself, compared to the "full moon on its fourteenth night." His station the Imám 'Alí, the Commander of the Faithful, had, according to the same testimony, identified with "Him Who conversed with Moses from the Burning Bush on Sinai." To the transcendent character of His mission the Imám Husayn had, again according to Bahá'u'lláh, borne witness as a "Revelation whose Revealer will be He Who revealed" the Apostle of God Himself.
The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 306
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About Him Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsá'í, the herald of the Bábí Dispensation, who had foreshadowed the "strange happenings" that would transpire "between the years sixty and sixty-seven," and had categorically affirmed the inevitability of His Revelation had, as previously mentioned, written the following: "The Mystery of this Cause must needs be made manifest, and the Secret of this Message must needs be divulged. I can say no more, I can appoint no time. His Cause will be made known after Hín (68)" (i.e., after a while).    
Siyyid Kázim-i-Rashtí, Shaykh Ahmad's disciple and successor, had likewise written: "The Qá'im must needs be put to death. After He has been slain the world will have attained the age of eighteen." In his Sharh-i-Qasídiy-i-Lámíyyíh he had even alluded to the name "Bahá." Furthermore, to his disciples, as his days drew to a close, he had significantly declared: "Verily, I say, after the Qá'im the Qayyúm will be made manifest. For when the star of the former has set the sun of the beauty of Husayn will rise and illuminate the whole world. Then will be unfolded in all its glory the 'Mystery' and the 'Secret' spoken of by Shaykh Ahmad.… To have attained unto that Day of Days is to have attained unto the crowning glory of past generations, and one goodly deed performed in that age is equal to the pious worship of countless centuries."    
The Báb had no less significantly extolled Him as the "Essence of Being," as the "Remnant of God," as the "Omnipotent Master," as the "Crimson, all-encompassing Light," as "Lord of the visible and invisible," as the "sole Object of all previous Revelations, including The Revelation of the Qá'im Himself." He had formally designated Him as "He Whom God shall make manifest," had alluded to Him as the "Abhá Horizon" wherein He Himself lived and dwelt, had specifically recorded His title, and eulogized His "Order" in His best-known work, the Persian Bayán, had disclosed His name through His allusion to the "Son of 'Alí, a true and undoubted Leader of men," had, repeatedly, orally and in writing, fixed, beyond the shadow of a doubt, the time of His Revelation, and warned His followers lest "the Bayán and all that hath been revealed therein" should "shut them out as by a veil" from Him. He had, moreover, declared that He was the "first servant to believe in Him," that He bore Him allegiance "before all things were created," that "no allusion" of His "could allude unto Him," that "the year-old germ that holdeth within itself the potentialities of the Revelation that is to come is endowed with a potency superior to the combined forces of the whole of the Bayán." He had, moreover, clearly asserted that He had "covenanted with all created things" concerning Him Whom God shall make manifest ere the covenant concerning His own mission had been established. He had readily acknowledged that He was but "a letter" of that "Most Mighty Book," "a dew-drop" from that "Limitless Ocean," that His Revelation was "only a leaf amongst the leaves of His Paradise," that "all that hath been exalted in the Bayán" was but "a ring" upon His own hand, and He Himself "a ring upon the hand of Him Whom God shall make manifest," Who, "turneth it as He pleaseth, for whatsoever He pleaseth, and through whatsoever He pleaseth." He had unmistakably declared that He had "sacrificed" Himself "wholly" for Him, that He had "consented to be cursed" for His sake, and to have "yearned for naught but martyrdom" in the path of His love. Finally, He had unequivocally prophesied: "Today the Bayán is in the stage of seed; at the beginning of the manifestation of Him Whom God shall make manifest its ultimate perfection will become apparent." "Ere nine will have elapsed from the inception of this Cause the realities of the created things will not be made manifest. All that thou hast as yet seen is but the stage from the moist-germ until We clothed it with flesh. Be patient until thou beholdest a new creation. Say: Blessed, therefore, be God, the Most Excellent of Makers!"
The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 306
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"He around Whom the Point of the Bayán (Báb) hath revolved is come" is Bahá'u'lláh's confirmatory testimony to the inconceivable greatness and preeminent character of His own Revelation. "If all who are in heaven and on earth," He moreover affirms, "be invested in this day with the powers and attributes destined for the Letters of the Bayán, whose station is ten thousand times more glorious than that of the Letters of the Qur'ánic Dispensation, and if they one and all should, swift as the twinkling of an eye, hesitate to recognize My Revelation, they shall be accounted, in the sight of God, of those that have gone astray, and regarded as 'Letters of Negation.'" "Powerful is He, the King of Divine might," He, alluding to Himself in the Kitáb-i-Íqán, asserts, "to extinguish with one letter of His wondrous words, the breath of life in the whole of the Bayán and the people thereof, and with one letter bestow upon them a new and everlasting life, and cause them to arise and speed out of the sepulchers of their vain and selfish desires." "This," He furthermore declares, "is the king of days," the "Day of God Himself," the "Day which shall never be followed by night," the "Springtime which autumn will never overtake," "the eye to past ages and centuries," for which "the soul of every Prophet of God, of every Divine Messenger, hath thirsted," for which "all the divers kindreds of the earth have yearned," through which "God hath proved the hearts of the entire company of His Messengers and Prophets, and beyond them those that stand guard over His sacred and inviolable Sanctuary, the inmates of the Celestial Pavilion and dwellers of the Tabernacle of Glory." "In this most mighty Revelation," He moreover, states, "all the Dispensations of the past have attained their highest, their final consummation." And again: "None among the Manifestations of old, except to a prescribed degree, hath ever completely apprehended the nature of this Revelation." Referring to His own station He declares: "But for Him no Divine Messenger would have been invested with the Robe of Prophethood, nor would any of the sacred Scriptures have been revealed."
["He around Whom the Point..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 307

["to extinguish with..."] The Kitáb-i-Íqán, p. 92

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And last but not least is 'Abdu'l-Bahá's own tribute to the transcendent character of the Revelation identified with His Father: "Centuries, nay ages, must pass away, ere the Day-Star of Truth shineth again in its mid-summer splendor, or appeareth once more in the radiance of its vernal glory." "The mere contemplation of the Dispensation inaugurated by the Blessed Beauty," He furthermore affirms, "would have sufficed to overwhelm the saints of bygone ages—saints who longed to partake for one moment of its great glory." "Concerning the Manifestations that will come down in the future 'in the shadows of the clouds,' know verily," is His significant statement, "that in so far as their relation to the source of their inspiration is concerned they are under the shadow of the Ancient Beauty. In their relation, however, to the age in which they appear, each and every one of them 'doeth whatsoever He willeth.'" And finally stands this, His illuminating explanation, setting forth conclusively the true relationship between the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh and that of the Báb: "The Revelation of the Báb may be likened to the sun, its station corresponding to the first sign of the Zodiac—the sign Aries—which the sun enters at the vernal equinox. The station of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation, on the other hand, is represented by the sign Leo, the sun's mid-summer and highest station. By this is meant that this holy Dispensation is illumined with the light of the Sun of Truth shining from its most exalted station, and in the plenitude of its resplendency, its heat and glory."
The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 308
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To attempt an exhaustive survey of the prophetic references to Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation would indeed be an impossible task. To this the pen of Bahá'u'lláh Himself bears witness: "All the Divine Books and Scriptures have predicted and announced unto men the advent of the Most Great Revelation. None can adequately recount the verses recorded in the Books of former ages which forecast this supreme Bounty, this most mighty Bestowal."    
In conclusion of this theme, I feel, it should be stated that the Revelation identified with Bahá'u'lláh abrogates unconditionally all the Dispensations gone before it, upholds uncompromisingly the eternal verities they enshrine, recognizes firmly and absolutely the Divine origin of their Authors, preserves inviolate the sanctity of their authentic Scriptures, disclaims any intention of lowering the status of their Founders or of abating the spiritual ideals they inculcate, clarifies and correlates their functions, reaffirms their common, their unchangeable and fundamental purpose, reconciles their seemingly divergent claims and doctrines, readily and gratefully recognizes their respective contributions to the gradual unfoldment of one Divine Revelation, unhesitatingly acknowledges itself to be but one link in the chain of continually progressive Revelations, supplements their teachings with such laws and ordinances as conform to the imperative needs, and are dictated by the growing receptivity, of a fast evolving and constantly changing society, and proclaims its readiness and ability to fuse and incorporate the contending sects and factions into which they have fallen into a universal Fellowship, functioning within the framework, and in accordance with the precepts, of a divinely conceived, a world-unifying, a world-redeeming Order.    
A Revelation, hailed as the promise and crowning glory of past ages and centuries, as the consummation of all the Dispensations within the Adamic Cycle, inaugurating an era of at least a thousand years' duration, and a cycle destined to last no less than five thousand centuries, signalizing the end of the Prophetic Era and the beginning of the Era of Fulfillment, unsurpassed alike in the duration of its Author's ministry and the fecundity and splendor of His mission—such a Revelation was, as already noted, born amidst the darkness of a subterranean dungeon in Tihrán—an abominable pit that had once served as a reservoir of water for one of the public baths of the city. Wrapped in its stygian gloom, breathing its fetid air, numbed by its humid and icy atmosphere, His feet in stocks, His neck weighed down by a mighty chain, surrounded by criminals and miscreants of the worst order, oppressed by the consciousness of the terrible blot that had stained the fair name of His beloved Faith, painfully aware of the dire distress that had overtaken its champions, and of the grave dangers that faced the remnant of its followers—at so critical an hour and under such appalling circumstances the "Most Great Spirit," as designated by Himself, and symbolized in the Zoroastrian, the Mosaic, the Christian, and Muhammadan Dispensations by the Sacred Fire, the Burning Bush, the Dove and the Angel Gabriel respectively, descended upon, and revealed itself, personated by a "Maiden," to the agonized soul of Bahá'u'lláh.  
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"One night in a dream," He Himself, calling to mind, in the evening of His life, the first stirrings of God's Revelation within His soul, has written, "these exalted words were heard on every side: 'Verily, We shall render Thee victorious by Thyself and by Thy pen. Grieve Thou not for that which hath befallen Thee, neither be Thou afraid, for Thou art in safety. Ere long will God raise up the treasures of the earth—men who will aid Thee through Thyself and through Thy Name, wherewith God hath revived the hearts of such as have recognized Him.'" In another passage He describes, briefly and graphically, the impact of the onrushing force of the Divine Summons upon His entire being—an experience vividly recalling the vision of God that caused Moses to fall in a swoon, and the voice of Gabriel which plunged Muhammad into such consternation that, hurrying to the shelter of His home, He bade His wife, Khadíjih, envelop Him in His mantle. "During the days I lay in the prison of Tihrán," are His own memorable words, "though the galling weight of the chains and the stench-filled air allowed Me but little sleep, still in those infrequent moments of slumber I felt as if something flowed from the crown of My head over My breast, even as a mighty torrent that precipitateth itself upon the earth from the summit of a lofty mountain. Every limb of My body would, as a result, be set afire. At such moments My tongue recited what no man could bear to hear."    
In His Súratu'l-Haykal (the Súrih of the Temple) He thus describes those breathless moments when the Maiden, symbolizing the "Most Great Spirit" proclaimed His mission to the entire creation: "While engulfed in tribulations I heard a most wondrous, a most sweet voice, calling above My head. Turning My face, I beheld a Maiden—the embodiment of the remembrance of the name of My Lord—-suspended in the air before Me. So rejoiced was she in her very soul that her countenance shone with the ornament of the good-pleasure of God, and her cheeks glowed with the brightness of the All-Merciful. Betwixt earth and heaven she was raising a call which captivated the hearts and minds of men. She was imparting to both My inward and outer being tidings which rejoiced My soul, and the souls of God's honored servants. Pointing with her finger unto My head, she addressed all who are in heaven and all who are on earth, saying: 'By God! This is the Best-Beloved of the worlds, and yet ye comprehend not. This is the Beauty of God amongst you, and the power of His sovereignty within you, could ye but understand. This is the Mystery of God and His Treasure, the Cause of God and His glory unto all who are in the kingdoms of Revelation and of creation, if ye be of them that perceive.'"
[Súriy-i-Haykal] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 3, p. 133

["While engulfed in tribulations..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 3, p. 143

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In His Epistle to Násiri'd-Dín Sháh, His royal adversary, revealed at the height of the proclamation of His Message, occur these passages which shed further light on the Divine origin of His mission: "O King! I was but a man like others, asleep upon My couch, when lo, the breezes of the All-Glorious were wafted over Me, and taught Me the knowledge of all that hath been. This thing is not from Me, but from One Who is Almighty and All-Knowing. And he bade Me lift up My voice between earth and heaven, and for this there befell Me what hath caused the tears of every man of understanding to flow.… This is but a leaf which the winds of the will of Thy Lord, the Almighty, the All-Praised, have stirred.… His all-compelling summons hath reached Me, and caused Me to speak His praise amidst all people. I was indeed as one dead when His behest was uttered. The hand of the will of Thy Lord, the Compassionate, the Merciful, transformed Me." "By My Life!" He asserts in another Tablet, "Not of Mine own volition have I revealed Myself, but God, of His own choosing, hath manifested Me." And again: "Whenever I chose to hold My peace and be still, lo, the Voice of the Holy Spirit, standing on My right hand, aroused Me, and the Most Great Spirit appeared before My face, and Gabriel overshadowed Me, and the Spirit of Glory stirred within My bosom, bidding Me arise and break My silence."    
Such were the circumstances in which the Sun of Truth arose in the city of Tihrán—a city which, by reason of so rare a privilege conferred upon it, had been glorified by the Báb as the "Holy Land," and surnamed by Bahá'u'lláh "the Mother of the world," the "Day-spring of Light," the "Dawning-Place of the signs of the Lord," the "Source of the joy of all mankind." The first dawnings of that Light of peerless splendor had, as already described, broken in the city of Shíráz. The rim of that Orb had now appeared above the horizon of the Síyáh-Chál of Tihrán. Its rays were to burst forth, a decade later, in Baghdád, piercing the clouds which immediately after its rise in those somber surroundings obscured its splendor. It was destined to mount to its zenith in the far-away city of Adrianople, and ultimately to set in the immediate vicinity of the fortress-town of 'Akká.  
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The process whereby the effulgence of so dazzling a Revelation was unfolded to the eyes of men was of necessity slow and gradual. The first intimation which its Bearer received did not synchronize with, nor was it followed immediately by, a disclosure of its character to either His own companions or His kindred. A period of no less than ten years had to elapse ere its far-reaching implications could be directly divulged to even those who had been intimately associated with Him—a period of great spiritual ferment, during which the Recipient of so weighty a Message restlessly anticipated the hour at which He could unburden His heavily laden soul, so replete with the potent energies released by God's nascent Revelation. All He did, in the course of this pre-ordained interval, was to hint, in veiled and allegorical language, in epistles, commentaries, prayers and treatises, which He was moved to reveal, that the Báb's promise had already been fulfilled, and that He Himself was the One Who had been chosen to redeem it. A few of His fellow-disciples, distinguished by their sagacity, and their personal attachment and devotion to Him, perceived the radiance of the as yet unrevealed glory that had flooded His soul, and would have, but for His restraining influence, divulged His secret and proclaimed it far and wide.    

CHAPTER VII

Bahá'u'lláh's Banishment to 'Iráq

 
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The attempt on the life of Násiri'd-Dín Sháh, as stated in a previous chapter, was made on the 28th of the month of Shavvál, 1268 A.H., corresponding to the 15th of August, 1852. Immediately after, Bahá'u'lláh was arrested in Níyávarán, was conducted with the greatest ignominy to Tihrán and cast into the Síyáh-Chál. His imprisonment lasted for a period of no less than four months, in the middle of which the "year nine" (1269), anticipated in such glowing terms by the Báb, and alluded to as the year "after Hín" by Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsá'í, was ushered in, endowing with undreamt-of potentialities the whole world. Two months after that year was born, Bahá'u'lláh, the purpose of His imprisonment now accomplished, was released from His confinement, and set out, a month later, for Baghdád, on the first stage of a memorable and life-long exile which was to carry Him, in the course of years, as far as Adrianople in European Turkey, and which was to end with His twenty-four years' incarceration in 'Akká.    
Now that He had been invested, in consequence of that potent dream, with the power and sovereign authority associated with His Divine mission, His deliverance from a confinement that had achieved its purpose, and which if prolonged would have completely fettered Him in the exercise of His newly-bestowed functions, became not only inevitable, but imperative and urgent. Nor were the means and instruments lacking whereby his emancipation from the shackles that restrained Him could be effected. The persistent and decisive intervention of the Russian Minister, Prince Dolgorouki, who left no stone unturned to establish the innocence of Bahá'u'lláh; the public confession of Mullá Shaykh 'Alíy-i-Turshízí, surnamed 'Azím, who, in the Síyáh-Chál, in the presence of the Hájibu'd-Dawlih and the Russian Minister's interpreter and of the government's representative, emphatically exonerated Him, and acknowledged his own complicity; the indisputable testimony established by competent tribunals; the unrelaxing efforts exerted by His own brothers, sisters and kindred,—all these combined to effect His ultimate deliverance from the hands of His rapacious enemies. Another potent if less evident influence which must be acknowledged as having had a share in His liberation was the fate suffered by so large a number of His self-sacrificing fellow-disciples who languished with Him in that same prison. For, as Nabíl truly remarks, "the blood shed in the course of that fateful year in Tihrán by that heroic band with whom Bahá'u'lláh had been imprisoned, was the ransom paid for His deliverance from the hand of a foe that sought to prevent Him from achieving the purpose for which God had destined Him."
["the blood shed..."] The Dawn-Breakers, p. 634
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With such overwhelming testimonies establishing beyond the shadow of a doubt the non-complicity of Bahá'u'lláh, the Grand Vizir, after having secured the reluctant consent of his sovereign to set free his Captive, was now in a position to dispatch his trusted representative, Hájí 'Alí, to the Síyáh-Chál, instructing him to deliver to Bahá'u'lláh the order for His release. The sight which that emissary beheld upon his arrival evoked in him such anger that he cursed his master for the shameful treatment of a man of such high position and stainless renown. Removing his mantle from his shoulders he presented it to Bahá'u'lláh, entreating Him to wear it when in the presence of the Minister and his counsellors, a request which He emphatically refused, preferring to appear, attired in the garb of a prisoner, before the members of the Imperial government.    
No sooner had He presented Himself before them than the Grand Vizir addressed Him saying: "Had you chosen to take my advice, and had you dissociated yourself from the Faith of the Siyyid-i-Báb, you would never have suffered the pains and indignities that have been heaped upon you." "Had you, in your turn," Bahá'u'lláh retorted, "followed My counsels, the affairs of the government would not have reached so critical a stage." Mírzá Áqá Khán was thereupon reminded of the conversation he had had with Him on the occasion of the Báb's martyrdom, when he had been warned that "the flame that has been kindled will blaze forth more fiercely than ever." "What is it that you advise me now to do?" he inquired from Bahá'u'lláh. "Command the governors of the realm," was the instant reply, "to cease shedding the blood of the innocent, to cease plundering their property, to cease dishonoring their women, and injuring their children." That same day the Grand Vizir acted on the advice thus given him; but any effect it had, as the course of subsequent events amply demonstrated, proved to be momentary and negligible.    
The relative peace and tranquillity accorded Bahá'u'lláh after His tragic and cruel imprisonment was destined, by the dictates of an unerring Wisdom, to be of an extremely short duration. He had hardly rejoined His family and kindred when a decree from Násiri'd-Dín Sháh was communicated to Him, bidding Him leave the territory of Persia, fixing a time-limit of one month for His departure and allowing Him the right to choose the land of His exile.  
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The Russian Minister, as soon as he was informed of the Imperial decision, expressed the desire to take Bahá'u'lláh under the protection of his government, and offered to extend every facility for His removal to Russia. This invitation, so spontaneously extended, Bahá'u'lláh declined, preferring, in pursuance of an unerring instinct, to establish His abode in Turkish territory, in the city of Baghdád. "Whilst I lay chained and fettered in the prison," He Himself, years after, testified in His Epistle addressed to the Czar of Russia, Nicolaevitch Alexander II, "one of thy ministers extended Me his aid. Whereupon God hath ordained for thee a station which the knowledge of none can comprehend except His knowledge. Beware lest thou barter away this sublime station." "In the days," is yet another illuminating testimony revealed by His pen, "when this Wronged One was sore-afflicted in prison, the minister of the highly esteemed government (of Russia)—may God, glorified and exalted be He, assist him!—exerted his utmost endeavor to compass My deliverance. Several times permission for My release was granted. Some of the 'ulamás of the city, however, would prevent it. Finally, My freedom was gained through the solicitude and the endeavor of His Excellency the Minister.… His Imperial Majesty, the Most Great Emperor—may God, exalted and glorified be He, assist him!—extended to Me for the sake of God his protection—a protection which has excited the envy and enmity of the foolish ones of the earth."    
The Sháh's edict, equivalent to an order for the immediate expulsion of Bahá'u'lláh from Persian territory, opens a new and glorious chapter in the history of the first Bahá'í century. Viewed in its proper perspective it will be even recognized to have ushered in one of the most eventful and momentous epochs in the world's religious history. It coincides with the inauguration of a ministry extending over a period of almost forty years—a ministry which, by virtue of its creative power, its cleansing force, its healing influences, and the irresistible operation of the world-directing, world-shaping forces it released, stands unparalleled in the religious annals of the entire human race. It marks the opening phase in a series of banishments, ranging over a period of four decades, and terminating only with the death of Him Who was the Object of that cruel edict. The process which it set in motion, gradually progressing and unfolding, began by establishing His Cause for a time in the very midst of the jealously-guarded stronghold of Shí'ah Islám, and brought Him in personal contact with its highest and most illustrious exponents; then, at a later stage, it confronted Him, at the seat of the Caliphate, with the civil and ecclesiastical dignitaries of the realm and the representatives of the Sultán of Turkey, the most powerful potentate in the Islamic world; and finally carried Him as far as the shores of the Holy Land, thereby fulfilling the prophecies recorded in both the Old and the New Testaments, redeeming the pledge enshrined in various traditions attributed to the Apostle of God and the Imáms who succeeded Him, and ushering in the long-awaited restoration of Israel to the ancient cradle of its Faith. With it, may be said to have begun the last and most fruitful of the four stages of a life, the first twenty-seven years of which were characterized by the care-free enjoyment of all the advantages conferred by high birth and riches, and by an unfailing solicitude for the interests of the poor, the sick and the down-trodden; followed by nine years of active and exemplary discipleship in the service of the Báb; and finally by an imprisonment of four months' duration, overshadowed throughout by mortal peril, embittered by agonizing sorrows, and immortalized, as it drew to a close, by the sudden eruption of the forces released by an overpowering, soul-revolutionizing Revelation.  
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This enforced and hurried departure of Bahá'u'lláh from His native land, accompanied by some of His relatives, recalls in some of its aspects, the precipitate flight of the Holy Family into Egypt; the sudden migration of Muhammad, soon after His assumption of the prophetic office, from Mecca to Medina; the exodus of Moses, His brother and His followers from the land of their birth, in response to the Divine summons, and above all the banishment of Abraham from Ur of the Chaldees to the Promised Land—a banishment which, in the multitudinous benefits it conferred upon so many divers peoples, faiths and nations, constitutes the nearest historical approach to the incalculable blessings destined to be vouchsafed, in this day, and in future ages, to the whole human race, in direct consequence of the exile suffered by Him Whose Cause is the flower and fruit of all previous Revelations.    
'Abdu'l-Bahá, after enumerating in His "Some Answered Questions" the far-reaching consequences of Abraham's banishment, significantly affirms that "since the exile of Abraham from Ur to Aleppo in Syria produced this result, we must consider what will be the effect of the exile of Bahá'u'lláh in His several removes from Tihrán to Baghdád, from thence to Constantinople, to Rumelia and to the Holy Land."
Some Answered Questions, p. 13
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On the first day of the month of Rabí'u'th-Thání, of the year 1269 A.H., (January 12, 1853), nine months after His return from Karbilá, Bahá'u'lláh, together with some of the members of His family, and escorted by an officer of the Imperial body-guard and an official representing the Russian Legation, set out on His three months' journey to Baghdád. Among those who shared His exile was His wife, the saintly Navváb, entitled by Him the "Most Exalted Leaf," who, during almost forty years, continued to evince a fortitude, a piety, a devotion and a nobility of soul which earned her from the pen of her Lord the posthumous and unrivalled tribute of having been made His "perpetual consort in all the worlds of God." His nine-year-old son, later surnamed the "Most Great Branch," destined to become the Center of His Covenant and authorized Interpreter of His teachings, together with His seven-year-old sister, known in later years by the same title as that of her illustrious mother, and whose services until the ripe old age of four score years and six, no less than her exalted parentage, entitle her to the distinction of ranking as the outstanding heroine of the Bahá'í Dispensation, were also included among the exiles who were now bidding their last farewell to their native country. Of the two brothers who accompanied Him on that journey the first was Mírzá Músá, commonly called Áqáy-i-Kalím, His staunch and valued supporter, the ablest and most distinguished among His brothers and sisters, and one of the "only two persons who," according to Bahá'u'lláh's testimony, "were adequately informed of the origins" of His Faith. The other was Mírzá Muhammad-Qulí, a half-brother, who, in spite of the defection of some of his relatives, remained to the end loyal to the Cause he had espoused.    
The journey, undertaken in the depth of an exceptionally severe winter, carrying the little band of exiles, so inadequately equipped, across the snow-bound mountains of Western Persia, though long and perilous, was uneventful except for the warm and enthusiastic reception accorded the travelers during their brief stay in Karand by its governor Hayát-Qulí Khán, of the 'Allíyu'lláhí sect. He was shown, in return, such kindness by Bahá'u'lláh that the people of the entire village were affected, and continued, long after, to extend such hospitality to His followers on their way to Baghdád that they gained the reputation of being known as Bábís.    
In a prayer revealed by Him at that time, Bahá'u'lláh, expatiating upon the woes and trials He had endured in the Síyáh-Chál, thus bears witness to the hardships undergone in the course of that "terrible journey": "My God, My Master, My Desire!… Thou hast created this atom of dust through the consummate power of Thy might, and nurtured Him with Thine hands which none can chain up.… Thou hast destined for Him trials and tribulations which no tongue can describe, nor any of Thy Tablets adequately recount. The throat Thou didst accustom to the touch of silk Thou hast, in the end, clasped with strong chains, and the body Thou didst ease with brocades and velvets Thou hast at last subjected to the abasement of a dungeon. Thy decree hath shackled Me with unnumbered fetters, and cast about My neck chains that none can sunder. A number of years have passed during which afflictions have, like showers of mercy, rained upon Me.… How many the nights during which the weight of chains and fetters allowed Me no rest, and how numerous the days during which peace and tranquillity were denied Me, by reason of that wherewith the hands and tongues of men have afflicted Me! Both bread and water which Thou hast, through Thy all-embracing mercy, allowed unto the beasts of the field, they have, for a time, forbidden unto this servant, and the things they refused to inflict upon such as have seceded from Thy Cause, the same have they suffered to be inflicted upon Me, until, finally, Thy decree was irrevocably fixed, and Thy behest summoned this servant to depart out of Persia, accompanied by a number of frail-bodied men and children of tender age, at this time when the cold is so intense that one cannot even speak, and ice and snow so abundant that it is impossible to move."
["My God, My Master, My Desire!..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 51
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Finally, on the 28th of Jamádíyu'th-Thání 1269 A.H. (April 8, 1853), Bahá'u'lláh arrived in Baghdád, the capital city of what was then the Turkish province of 'Iráq. From there He proceeded, a few days after, to Kázimayn, about three miles north of the city, a town inhabited chiefly by Persians, and where the two Kázims, the seventh and the ninth Imáms, are buried. Soon after His arrival the representative of the Sháh's government, stationed in Baghdád, called on Him, and suggested that it would be advisable for Him, in view of the many visitors crowding that center of pilgrimage, to establish His residence in Old Baghdád, a suggestion with which He readily concurred. A month later, towards the end of Rajab, He rented the house of Hájí 'Alí Madad, in an old quarter of the city, into which He moved with His family.    
In that city, described in Islamic traditions as "Zahru'l-Kúfih," designated for centuries as the "Abode of Peace," and immortalized by Bahá'u'lláh as the "City of God," He, except for His two year retirement to the mountains of Kurdistán and His occasional visits to Najaf, Karbilá and Kázimayn, continued to reside until His banishment to Constantinople. To that city the Qur'án had alluded as the "Abode of Peace" to which God Himself "calleth." To it, in that same Book, further allusion had been made in the verse "For them is a Dwelling of Peace with their Lord … on the Day whereon God shall gather them all together." From it radiated, wave after wave, a power, a radiance and a glory which insensibly reanimated a languishing Faith, sorely-stricken, sinking into obscurity, threatened with oblivion. From it were diffused, day and night, and with ever-increasing energy, the first emanations of a Revelation which, in its scope, its copiousness, its driving force and the volume and variety of its literature, was destined to excel that of the Báb Himself. Above its horizon burst forth the rays of the Sun of Truth, Whose rising glory had for ten long years been overshadowed by the inky clouds of a consuming hatred, an ineradicable jealousy, an unrelenting malice. In it the Tabernacle of the promised "Lord of Hosts" was first erected, and the foundations of the long-awaited Kingdom of the "Father" unassailably established. Out of it went forth the earliest tidings of the Message of Salvation which, as prophesied by Daniel, was to mark, after the lapse of "a thousand two hundred and ninety days" (1280 A.H.), the end of "the abomination that maketh desolate." Within its walls the "Most Great House of God," His "Footstool" and the "Throne of His Glory," "the Cynosure of an adoring world," the "Lamp of Salvation between earth and heaven," the "Sign of His remembrance to all who are in heaven and on earth," enshrining the "Jewel whose glory hath irradiated all creation," the "Standard" of His Kingdom, the "Shrine round which will circle the concourse of the faithful" was irrevocably founded and permanently consecrated. Upon it, by virtue of its sanctity as Bahá'u'lláh's "Most Holy Habitation" and "Seat of His transcendent glory," was conferred the honor of being regarded as a center of pilgrimage second to none except the city of 'Akká, His "Most Great Prison," in whose immediate vicinity His holy Sepulcher, the Qiblih of the Bahá'í world, is enshrined. Around the heavenly Table, spread in its very heart, clergy and laity, Sunnís and Shí'ahs, Kurds, Arabs, and Persians, princes and nobles, peasants and dervishes, gathered in increasing numbers from far and near, all partaking, according to their needs and capacities, of a measure of that Divine sustenance which was to enable them, in the course of time, to noise abroad the fame of that bountiful Giver, swell the ranks of His admirers, scatter far and wide His writings, enlarge the limits of His congregation, and lay a firm foundation for the future erection of the institutions of His Faith. And finally, before the gaze of the diversified communities that dwelt within its gates, the first phase in the gradual unfoldment of a newborn Revelation was ushered in, the first effusions from the inspired pen of its Author were recorded, the first principles of His slowly crystallizing doctrine were formulated, the first implications of His august station were apprehended, the first attacks aiming at the disruption of His Faith from within were launched, the first victories over its internal enemies were registered, and the first pilgrimages to the Door of His Presence were undertaken.  
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This life-long exile to which the Bearer of so precious a Message was now providentially condemned did not, and indeed could not, manifest, either suddenly or rapidly, the potentialities latent within it. The process whereby its unsuspected benefits were to be manifested to the eyes of men was slow, painfully slow, and was characterized, as indeed the history of His Faith from its inception to the present day demonstrates, by a number of crises which at times threatened to arrest its unfoldment and blast all the hopes which its progress had engendered.    
One such crisis which, as it deepened, threatened to jeopardize His newborn Faith and to subvert its earliest foundations, overshadowed the first years of His sojourn in 'Iráq, the initial stage in His life-long exile, and imparted to them a special significance. Unlike those which preceded it, this crisis was purely internal in character, and was occasioned solely by the acts, the ambitions and follies of those who were numbered among His recognized fellow-disciples.    
The external enemies of the Faith, whether civil or ecclesiastical, who had thus far been chiefly responsible for the reverses and humiliations it had suffered, were by now relatively quiescent. The public appetite for revenge, which had seemed insatiable, had now, to some extent, in consequence of the torrents of blood that had flowed, abated. A feeling, bordering on exhaustion and despair, had, moreover, settled on some of its most inveterate enemies, who were astute enough to perceive that though the Faith had bent beneath the grievous blows their hands had dealt it, its structure had remained essentially unimpaired and its spirit unbroken. The orders issued to the governors of the provinces by the Grand Vizir had had, furthermore, a sobering effect on the local authorities, who were now dissuaded from venting their fury upon, and from indulging in their sadistic cruelties against, a hated adversary.  
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A lull had, in consequence, momentarily ensued, which was destined to be broken, at a later stage, by a further wave of repressive measures in which the Sultán of Turkey and his ministers, as well as the Sunní sacerdotal order, were to join hands with the Sháh and the Shí'ah clericals of Persia and 'Iráq in an endeavor to stamp out, once and for all, the Faith and all it stood for. While this lull persisted the initial manifestations of the internal crisis, already mentioned, were beginning to reveal themselves—a crisis which, though less spectacular in the public eye, proved itself, as it moved to its climax, to be one of unprecedented gravity, reducing the numerical strength of the infant community, imperiling its unity, causing immense damage to its prestige, and tarnishing for a considerable period of time its glory.    
This crisis had already been brewing in the days immediately following the execution of the Báb, was intensified during the months when the controlling hand of Bahá'u'lláh was suddenly withdrawn as a result of His confinement in the Síyáh-Chál of Tihrán, was further aggravated by His precipitate banishment from Persia, and began to protrude its disturbing features during the first years of His sojourn in Baghdád. Its devastating force gathered momentum during His two year retirement to the mountains of Kurdistán, and though it was checked, for a time, after His return from Sulaymáníyyih, under the overmastering influences exerted preparatory to the Declaration of His Mission, it broke out later, with still greater violence, and reached its climax in Adrianople, only to receive finally its death-blow under the impact of the irresistible forces released through the proclamation of that Mission to all mankind.    
Its central figure was no less a person than the nominee of the Báb Himself, the credulous and cowardly Mírzá Yahyá, to certain traits of whose character reference has already been made in the foregoing pages. The black-hearted scoundrel who befooled and manipulated this vain and flaccid man with consummate skill and unyielding persistence was a certain Siyyid Muhammad, a native of Isfahán, notorious for his inordinate ambition, his blind obstinacy and uncontrollable jealousy. To him Bahá'u'lláh had later referred in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas as the one who had "led astray" Mírzá Yahyá, and stigmatized him, in one of His Tablets, as the "source of envy and the quintessence of mischief," while 'Abdu'l-Bahá had described the relationship existing between these two as that of "the sucking child" to the "much-prized breast" of its mother. Forced to abandon his studies in the madrisiyi-i-Sadr of Isfahán, this Siyyid had migrated, in shame and remorse, to Karbilá, had there joined the ranks of the Báb's followers, and shown, after His martyrdom, signs of vacillation which exposed the shallowness of his faith and the fundamental weakness of his convictions. Bahá'u'lláh's first visit to Karbilá and the marks of undisguised reverence, love and admiration shown Him by some of the most distinguished among the former disciples and companions of Siyyid Kázim, had aroused in this calculating and unscrupulous schemer an envy, and bred in his soul an animosity, which the forbearance and patience shown him by Bahá'u'lláh had served only to inflame. His deluded helpers, willing tools of his diabolical designs, were the not inconsiderable number of Bábís who, baffled, disillusioned and leaderless, were already predisposed to be beguiled by him into pursuing a path diametrically opposed to the tenets and counsels of a departed Leader.
The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶184
113

For, with the Báb no longer in the midst of His followers; with His nominee, either seeking a safe hiding place in the mountains of Mázindarán, or wearing the disguise of a dervish or of an Arab wandering from town to town; with Bahá'u'lláh imprisoned and subsequently banished beyond the limits of His native country; with the flower of the Faith mown down in a seemingly unending series of slaughters, the remnants of that persecuted community were sunk in a distress that appalled and paralyzed them, that stifled their spirit, confused their minds and strained to the utmost their loyalty. Reduced to this extremity they could no longer rely on any voice that commanded sufficient authority to still their forebodings, resolve their problems, or prescribe to them their duties and obligations.    
Nabíl, traveling at that time through the province of Khurásán, the scene of the tumultuous early victories of a rising Faith, had himself summed up his impressions of the prevailing condition. "The fire of the Cause of God," he testifies in his narrative, "had been well-nigh quenched in every place. I could detect no trace of warmth anywhere." In Qazvín, according to the same testimony, the remnant of the community had split into four factions, bitterly opposed to one another, and a prey to the most absurd doctrines and fancies. Bahá'u'lláh upon His arrival in Baghdád, a city which had witnessed the glowing evidences of the indefatigable zeal of Táhirih, found among His countrymen residing in that city no more than a single Bábí, while in Kázimayn inhabited chiefly by Persians, a mere handful of His compatriots remained who still professed, in fear and obscurity, their faith in the Báb.  
114

The morals of the members of this dwindling community, no less than their numbers, had sharply declined. Such was their "waywardness and folly," to quote Bahá'u'lláh's own words, that upon His release from prison, His first decision was "to arise … and undertake, with the utmost vigor, the task of regenerating this people."    
As the character of the professed adherents of the Báb declined and as proofs of the deepening confusion that afflicted them multiplied, the mischief-makers, who were lying in wait, and whose sole aim was to exploit the progressive deterioration in the situation for their own benefit, grew ever more and more audacious. The conduct of Mírzá Yahyá, who claimed to be the successor of the Báb, and who prided himself on his high sounding titles of Mir'átu'l-Azalíyyih (Everlasting Mirror), of Subh-i-Azal (Morning of Eternity), and of Ismu'l-Azal (Name of Eternity), and particularly the machinations of Siyyid Muhammad, exalted by him to the rank of the first among the "Witnesses" of the Bayán, were by now assuming such a character that the prestige of the Faith was becoming directly involved, and its future security seriously imperiled.    
The former had, after the execution of the Báb, sustained such a violent shock that his faith almost forsook him. Wandering for a time, in the guise of a dervish, in the mountains of Mázindarán, he, by his behavior, had so severely tested the loyalty of his fellow-believers in Núr, most of whom had been converted through the indefatigable zeal of Bahá'u'lláh, that they too wavered in their convictions, some of them going so far as to throw in their lot with the enemy. He subsequently proceeded to Rasht, and remained concealed in the province of Gílán until his departure for Kirmánsháh, where in order the better to screen himself he entered the service of a certain 'Abdu'lláh-i-Qazvíní, a maker of shrouds, and became a vendor of his goods. He was still there when Bahá'u'lláh passed through that city on His way to Baghdád, and expressing a desire to live in close proximity to Bahá'u'lláh but in a house by himself where he could ply some trade incognito, he succeeded in obtaining from Him a sum of money with which he purchased several bales of cotton and then proceeded, in the garb of an Arab, by way of Mandalíj to Baghdád. He established himself there in the street of the Charcoal Dealers, situated in a dilapidated quarter of the city, and placing a turban upon his head, and assuming the name of Hájí 'Alíy-i-Lás-Furúsh, embarked on his newly-chosen occupation. Siyyid Muhammad had meanwhile settled in Karbilá, and was busily engaged, with Mírzá Yahyá as his lever, in kindling dissensions and in deranging the life of the exiles and of the community that had gathered about them.  
115

Little wonder that from the pen of Bahá'u'lláh, Who was as yet unable to divulge the Secret that stirred within His bosom, these words of warning, of counsel and of assurance should, at a time when the shadows were beginning to deepen around Him, have proceeded: "The days of tests are now come. Oceans of dissension and tribulation are surging, and the Banners of Doubt are, in every nook and corner, occupied in stirring up mischief and in leading men to perdition.… Suffer not the voice of some of the soldiers of negation to cast doubt into your midst, neither allow yourselves to become heedless of Him Who is the Truth, inasmuch as in every Dispensation such contentions have been raised. God, however, will establish His Faith, and manifest His light albeit the stirrers of sedition abhor it.… Watch ye every day for the Cause of God.… All are held captive in His grasp. No place is there for any one to flee to. Think not the Cause of God to be a thing lightly taken, in which any one can gratify his whims. In various quarters a number of souls have, at the present time, advanced this same claim. The time is approaching when … every one of them will have perished and been lost, nay will have come to naught and become a thing unremembered, even as the dust itself."    
To Mírzá Áqá Ján, "the first to believe" in Him, designated later as Khádimu'lláh (Servant of God)—a Bábí youth, aflame with devotion, who, under the influence of a dream he had of the Báb, and as a result of the perusal of certain writings of Bahá'u'lláh, had precipitately forsaken his home in Káshán and traveled to 'Iráq, in the hope of attaining His presence, and who from then on served Him assiduously for a period of forty years in his triple function of amanuensis, companion and attendant—to him Bahá'u'lláh, more than to any one else, was moved to disclose, at this critical juncture, a glimpse of the as yet unrevealed glory of His station. This same Mírzá Áqá Ján, recounting to Nabíl his experiences, on that first and never to be forgotten night spent in Karbilá, in the presence of his newly-found Beloved, Who was then a guest of Hájí Mírzá Hasan-i-Hakím-Báshí, had given the following testimony: "As it was summer-time Bahá'u'lláh was in the habit of passing His evenings and of sleeping on the roof of the House.… That night, when He had gone to sleep, I, according to His directions, lay down for a brief rest, at a distance of a few feet from Him. No sooner had I risen, and … started to offer my prayers, in a corner of the roof which adjoined a wall, than I beheld His blessed Person rise and walk towards me. When He reached me He said: 'You, too, are awake.' Whereupon He began to chant and pace back and forth. How shall I ever describe that voice and the verses it intoned, and His gait, as He strode before me! Methinks, with every step He took and every word He uttered thousands of oceans of light surged before my face, and thousands of worlds of incomparable splendor were unveiled to my eyes, and thousands of suns blazed their light upon me! In the moonlight that streamed upon Him, He thus continued to walk and to chant. Every time He approached me He would pause, and, in a tone so wondrous that no tongue can describe it, would say: 'Hear Me, My son. By God, the True One! This Cause will assuredly be made manifest. Heed thou not the idle talk of the people of the Bayán, who pervert the meaning of every word.' In this manner He continued to walk and chant, and to address me these words until the first streaks of dawn appeared.… Afterwards I removed His bedding to His room, and, having prepared His tea for Him, was dismissed from His presence."  
116

The confidence instilled in Mírzá Áqá Ján by this unexpected and sudden contact with the spirit and directing genius of a new-born Revelation stirred his soul to its depths—a soul already afire with a consuming love born of his recognition of the ascendancy which his newly-found Master had already achieved over His fellow-disciples in both 'Iráq and Persia. This intense adoration that informed his whole being, and which could neither be suppressed nor concealed, was instantly detected by both Mírzá Yahyá and his fellow-conspirator Siyyid Muhammad. The circumstances leading to the revelation of the Tablet of Kullu't-Ta'ám, written during that period, at the request of Hájí Mírzá Kamálu'd-Dín-i-Naráqí, a Bábí of honorable rank and high culture, could not but aggravate a situation that had already become serious and menacing. Impelled by a desire to receive illumination from Mírzá Yahyá concerning the meaning of the Qur'ánic verse "All food was allowed to the children of Israel," Hájí Mírzá Kamálu'd-Dín had requested him to write a commentary upon it—a request which was granted, but with reluctance and in a manner which showed such incompetence and superficiality as to disillusion Hájí Mírzá Kamálu'd-Dín, and to destroy his confidence in its author. Turning to Bahá'u'lláh and repeating his request, he was honored by a Tablet, in which Israel and his children were identified with the Báb and His followers respectively—a Tablet which by reason of the allusions it contained, the beauty of its language and the cogency of its argument, so enraptured the soul of its recipient that he would have, but for the restraining hand of Bahá'u'lláh, proclaimed forthwith his discovery of God's hidden Secret in the person of the One Who had revealed it.
[Lawh-i-Kullu't-Ta'ám] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 55

117

To these evidences of an ever deepening veneration for Bahá'u'lláh and of a passionate attachment to His person were now being added further grounds for the outbreak of the pent-up jealousies which His mounting prestige evoked in the breasts of His ill-wishers and enemies. The steady extension of the circle of His acquaintances and admirers; His friendly intercourse with officials including the governor of the city; the unfeigned homage offered Him, on so many occasions and so spontaneously, by men who had once been distinguished companions of Siyyid Kázim; the disillusionment which the persistent concealment of Mírzá Yahyá, and the unflattering reports circulated regarding his character and abilities, had engendered; the signs of increasing independence, of innate sagacity and inherent superiority and capacity for leadership unmistakably exhibited by Bahá'u'lláh Himself—all combined to widen the breach which the infamous and crafty Siyyid Muhammad had sedulously contrived to create.    
A clandestine opposition, whose aim was to nullify every effort exerted, and frustrate every design conceived, by Bahá'u'lláh for the rehabilitation of a distracted community, could now be clearly discerned. Insinuations, whose purpose was to sow the seeds of doubt and suspicion and to represent Him as a usurper, as the subverter of the laws instituted by the Báb, and the wrecker of His Cause, were being incessantly circulated. His Epistles, interpretations, invocations and commentaries were being covertly and indirectly criticized, challenged and misrepresented. An attempt to injure His person was even set afoot but failed to materialize.    
The cup of Bahá'u'lláh's sorrows was now running over. All His exhortations, all His efforts to remedy a rapidly deteriorating situation, had remained fruitless. The velocity of His manifold woes was hourly and visibly increasing. Upon the sadness that filled His soul and the gravity of the situation confronting Him, His writings, revealed during that somber period, throw abundant light. In some of His prayers He poignantly confesses that "tribulation upon tribulation" had gathered about Him, that "adversaries with one consent" had fallen upon Him, that "wretchedness" had grievously touched Him, and that "woes at their blackest" had befallen Him. God Himself He calls upon as a Witness to His "sighs and lamentations," His "powerlessness, poverty and destitution," to the "injuries" He sustained, and the "abasement" He suffered. "So grievous hath been My weeping," He, in one of these prayers, avows, "that I have been prevented from making mention of Thee and singing Thy praises." "So loud hath been the voice of My lamentation," He, in another passage, avers, "that every mother mourning for her child would be amazed, and would still her weeping and her grief." "The wrongs which I suffer," He, in His Lawh-i-Maryam, laments, "have blotted out the wrongs suffered by My First Name (the Báb) from the Tablet of creation." "O Maryam!" He continues, "From the Land of Tá (Tihrán), after countless afflictions, We reached 'Iráq, at the bidding of the Tyrant of Persia, where, after the fetters of Our foes, We were afflicted with the perfidy of Our friends. God knoweth what befell Me thereafter!" And again: "I have borne what no man, be he of the past or of the future, hath borne or will bear." "Oceans of sadness," He testifies in the Tablet of Qullu't-Ta'ám, "have surged over Me, a drop of which no soul could bear to drink. Such is My grief that My soul hath well nigh departed from My body." "Give ear, O Kamál!" He, in that same Tablet, depicting His plight, exclaims, "to the voice of this lowly, this forsaken ant, that hath hid itself in its hole, and whose desire is to depart from your midst, and vanish from your sight, by reason of that which the hands of men have wrought. God, verily, hath been witness between Me and His servants." And again: "Woe is Me, woe is Me … All that I have seen from the day on which I first drank the pure milk from the breast of My mother until this moment hath been effaced from My memory, in consequence of that which the hands of the people have committed." Furthermore, in His Qasídiy-i-Varqá'íyyih, an ode revealed during the days of His retirement to the mountains of Kurdistán, in praise of the Maiden personifying the Spirit of God recently descended upon Him, He thus gives vent to the agonies of His sorrow-laden heart: "Noah's flood is but the measure of the tears I have shed, and Abraham's fire an ebullition of My soul. Jacob's grief is but a reflection of My sorrows, and Job's afflictions a fraction of my calamity." "Pour out patience upon Me, O My Lord!"—such is His supplication in one of His prayers, "and render Me victorious over the transgressors." "In these days," He, describing in the Kitáb-i-Íqán the virulence of the jealousy which, at that time, was beginning to bare its venomous fangs, has written, "such odors of jealousy are diffused, that … from the beginning of the foundation of the world … until the present day, such malice, envy and hate have in no wise appeared, nor will they ever be witnessed in the future." "For two years or rather less," He, likewise, in another Tablet, declares, "I shunned all else but God, and closed Mine eyes to all except Him, that haply the fire of hatred may die down and the heat of jealousy abate."
["The wrongs which I suffer..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 13

["Oceans of sadness..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 57

["such odours of jealousy..."] The Kitáb-i-Íqán, p. 249

118
119
Mírzá Áqá Ján himself has testified: "That Blessed Beauty evinced such sadness that the limbs of my body trembled." He has, likewise, related, as reported by Nabíl in his narrative, that, shortly before Bahá'u'lláh's retirement, he had on one occasion seen Him, between dawn and sunrise, suddenly come out from His house, His night-cap still on His head, showing such signs of perturbation that he was powerless to gaze into His face, and while walking, angrily remark: "These creatures are the same creatures who for three thousand years have worshipped idols, and bowed down before the Golden Calf. Now, too, they are fit for nothing better. What relation can there be between this people and Him Who is the Countenance of Glory? What ties can bind them to the One Who is the supreme embodiment of all that is lovable?" "I stood," declared Mírzá Áqá Ján, "rooted to the spot, lifeless, dried up as a dead tree, ready to fall under the impact of the stunning power of His words. Finally, He said: 'Bid them recite: "Is there any Remover of difficulties save God? Say: Praised be God! He is God! All are His servants, and all abide by His bidding!" Tell them to repeat it five hundred times, nay, a thousand times, by day and by night, sleeping and waking, that haply the Countenance of Glory may be unveiled to their eyes, and tiers of light descend upon them.' He Himself, I was subsequently informed, recited this same verse, His face betraying the utmost sadness.… Several times during those days, He was heard to remark: 'We have, for a while, tarried amongst this people, and failed to discern the slightest response on their part.' Oftentimes He alluded to His disappearance from our midst, yet none of us understood His meaning."    
Finally, discerning, as He Himself testifies in the Kitáb-i-Íqán, "the signs of impending events," He decided that before they happened He would retire. "The one object of Our retirement," He, in that same Book affirms, "was to avoid becoming a subject of discord among the faithful, a source of disturbance unto Our companions, the means of injury to any soul, or the cause of sorrow to any heart." "Our withdrawal," He, moreover, in that same passage emphatically asserts, "contemplated no return, and Our separation hoped for no reunion."
["the signs of impending events..."] The Kitáb-i-Íqán, p. 250
120

Suddenly, and without informing any one even among the members of His own family, on the 12th of Rajab 1270 A.H. (April 10, 1854), He departed, accompanied by an attendant, a Muhammadan named Abu'l-Qásim-i-Hamadání, to whom He gave a sum of money, instructing him to act as a merchant and use it for his own purposes. Shortly after, that servant was attacked by thieves and killed, and Bahá'u'lláh was left entirely alone in His wanderings through the wastes of Kurdistán, a region whose sturdy and warlike people were known for their age-long hostility to the Persians, whom they regarded as seceders from the Faith of Islám, and from whom they differed in their outlook, race and language.    
Attired in the garb of a traveler, coarsely clad, taking with Him nothing but his kashkúl (alms-bowl) and a change of clothes, and assuming the name of Darvísh Muhammad, Bahá'u'lláh retired to the wilderness, and lived for a time on a mountain named Sar-Galú, so far removed from human habitations that only twice a year, at seed sowing and harvest time, it was visited by the peasants of that region. Alone and undisturbed, He passed a considerable part of His retirement on the top of that mountain in a rude structure, made of stone, which served those peasants as a shelter against the extremities of the weather. At times His dwelling-place was a cave to which He refers in His Tablets addressed to the famous Shaykh 'Abdu'r-Rahmán and to Maryam, a kinswoman of His. "I roamed the wilderness of resignation" He thus depicts, in the Lawh-i-Maryam, the rigors of His austere solitude, "traveling in such wise that in My exile every eye wept sore over Me, and all created things shed tears of blood because of My anguish. The birds of the air were My companions and the beasts of the field My associates." "From My eyes," He, referring in the Kitáb-i-Íqán to those days, testifies, "there rained tears of anguish, and in My bleeding heart surged an ocean of agonizing pain. Many a night I had no food for sustenance, and many a day My body found no rest.… Alone I communed with My spirit, oblivious of the world and all that is therein."
["Bahá'u'lláh's retirement to..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 60

["From My eyes..."] The Kitáb-i-Íqán, p. 160 (Brit.), pp. 250-51 (U.S.).

 
In the odes He revealed, whilst wrapped in His devotions during those days of utter seclusion, and in the prayers and soliloquies which, in verse and prose, both in Arabic and Persian, poured from His sorrow-laden soul, many of which He was wont to chant aloud to Himself, at dawn and during the watches of the night, He lauded the names and attributes of His Creator, extolled the glories and mysteries of His own Revelation, sang the praises of that Maiden that personified the Spirit of God within Him, dwelt on His loneliness and His past and future tribulations, expatiated upon the blindness of His generation, the perfidy of His friends and the perversity of His enemies, affirmed His determination to arise and, if needs be, offer up His life for the vindication of His Cause, stressed those essential pre-requisites which every seeker after Truth must possess, and recalled, in anticipation of the lot that was to be His, the tragedy of the Imám Husayn in Karbilá, the plight of Muhammad in Mecca, the sufferings of Jesus at the hands of the Jews, the trials of Moses inflicted by Pharaoh and his people and the ordeal of Joseph as He languished in a pit by reason of the treachery of His brothers. These initial and impassioned outpourings of a Soul struggling to unburden itself, in the solitude of a self-imposed exile (many of them, alas lost to posterity) are, with the Tablet of Kullu't-Ta'ám and the poem entitled Rashh-i-'Amá, revealed in Tihrán, the first fruits of His Divine Pen. They are the forerunners of those immortal works—the Kitáb-i-Íqán, the Hidden Words and the Seven Valleys—which in the years preceding His Declaration in Baghdád, were to enrich so vastly the steadily swelling volume of His writings, and which paved the way for a further flowering of His prophetic genius in His epoch-making Proclamation to the world, couched in the form of mighty Epistles to the kings and rulers of mankind, and finally for the last fruition of His Mission in the Laws and Ordinances of His Dispensation formulated during His confinement in the Most Great Prison of 'Akká.
[Lawh-i-Kullu't-Ta'ám] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 55

[The Poem of Rashh-i-'Amá] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 45, vol. 4, p. 406

The Kitáb-i-Íqán

The Hidden Words

The Seven Valleys

121

Bahá'u'lláh was still pursuing His solitary existence on that mountain when a certain Shaykh, a resident of Sulaymáníyyih, who owned a property in that neighborhood, sought Him out, as directed in a dream he had of the Prophet Muhammad. Shortly after this contact was established, Shaykh Ismá'íl, the leader of the Khálidíyyih Order, who lived in Sulaymáníyyih, visited Him, and succeeded, after repeated requests, in obtaining His consent to transfer His residence to that town. Meantime His friends in Baghdád had discovered His whereabouts, and had dispatched Shaykh Sultán, the father-in-law of Áqáy-i-Kalím, to beg Him to return; and it was now while He was living in Sulaymáníyyih, in a room belonging to the Takyiy-i-Mawláná Khálid (theological seminary) that their messenger arrived. "I found," this same Shaykh Sultán, recounting his experiences to Nabíl, has stated, "all those who lived with Him in that place, from their Master down to the humblest neophyte, so enamoured of, and carried away by their love for Bahá'u'lláh, and so unprepared to contemplate the possibility of His departure that I felt certain that were I to inform them of the purpose of my visit, they would not have hesitated to put an end to my life."  
122

Not long after Baha'u'llah's arrival in Kurdistán, Shaykh Sultán has related, He was able, through His personal contacts with Shaykh 'Uthmán, Shaykh 'Abdu'r-Rahmán, and Shaykh Ismá'íl, the honored and undisputed leaders of the Naqshbandíyyih, the Qádiríyyih and the Khálidíyyih Orders respectively, to win their hearts completely and establish His ascendancy over them. The first of these, Shaykh 'Uthmán, included no less a person than the Sultán himself and his entourage among his adherents. The second, in reply to whose query the "Four Valleys" was later revealed, commanded the unwavering allegiance of at least a hundred thousand devout followers, while the third was held in such veneration by his supporters that they regarded him as co-equal with Khálid himself, the founder of the Order.
The Four Valleys
 
When Bahá'u'lláh arrived in Sulaymáníyyih none at first, owing to the strict silence and reserve He maintained, suspected Him of being possessed of any learning or wisdom. It was only accidentally, through seeing a specimen of His exquisite penmanship shown to them by one of the students who waited upon Him, that the curiosity of the learned instructors and students of that seminary was aroused, and they were impelled to approach Him and test the degree of His knowledge and the extent of His familiarity with the arts and sciences current amongst them. That seat of learning had been renowned for its vast endowments, its numerous takyihs, and its association with Saláhí'd-Dín-i-Ayyúbí and his descendants; from it some of the most illustrious exponents of Sunní Islám had gone forth to teach its precepts, and now a delegation, headed by Shaykh Ismá'íl himself, and consisting of its most eminent doctors and most distinguished students, called upon Bahá'u'lláh, and, finding Him willing to reply to any questions they might wish to address Him, they requested Him to elucidate for them, in the course of several interviews, the abstruse passages contained in the Futúhát-i-Makkíyyih, the celebrated work of the famous Shaykh Muhyi'd-Dín-i-'Arabí. "God is My witness," was Bahá'u'lláh's instant reply to the learned delegation, "that I have never seen the book you refer to. I regard, however, through the power of God, … whatever you wish me to do as easy of accomplishment." Directing one of them to read aloud to Him, every day, a page of that book, He was able to resolve their perplexities in so amazing a fashion that they were lost in admiration. Not contenting Himself with a mere clarification of the obscure passages of the text, He would interpret for them the mind of its author, and expound his doctrine, and unfold his purpose. At times He would even go so far as to question the soundness of certain views propounded in that book, and would Himself vouchsafe a correct presentation of the issues that had been misunderstood, and would support it with proofs and evidences that were wholly convincing to His listeners.  
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Amazed by the profundity of His insight and the compass of His understanding, they were impelled to seek from Him what they considered to be a conclusive and final evidence of the unique power and knowledge which He now appeared in their eyes to possess. "No one among the mystics, the wise, and the learned," they claimed, while requesting this further favor from Him, "has hitherto proved himself capable of writing a poem in a rhyme and meter identical with that of the longer of the two odes, entitled Qasídiy-i-Tá'íyyih composed by Ibn-i-Fárid. We beg you to write for us a poem in that same meter and rhyme." This request was complied with, and no less than two thousand verses, in exactly the manner they had specified, were dictated by Him, out of which He selected one hundred and twenty-seven, which He permitted them to keep, deeming the subject matter of the rest premature and unsuitable to the needs of the times. It is these same one hundred and twenty-seven verses that constitute the Qasídiy-i-Varqá'íyyih, so familiar to, and widely circulated amongst, His Arabic speaking followers.    
Such was their reaction to this marvelous demonstration of the sagacity and genius of Bahá'u'lláh that they unanimously acknowledged every single verse of that poem to be endowed with a force, beauty and power far surpassing anything contained in either the major or minor odes composed by that celebrated poet.    
This episode, by far the most outstanding among the events that transpired during the two years of Bahá'u'lláh's absence from Baghdád, immensely stimulated the interest with which an increasing number of the 'ulamás, the scholars, the shaykhs, the doctors, the holy men and princes who had congregated in the seminaries of Sulaymáníyyih and Karkúk, were now following His daily activities. Through His numerous discourses and epistles He disclosed new vistas to their eyes, resolved the perplexities that agitated their minds, unfolded the inner meaning of many hitherto obscure passages in the writings of various commentators, poets and theologians, of which they had remained unaware, and reconciled the seemingly contradictory assertions which abounded in these dissertations, poems and treatises. Such was the esteem and respect entertained for Him that some held Him as One of the "Men of the Unseen," others accounted Him an adept in alchemy and the science of divination, still others designated Him "a pivot of the universe," whilst a not inconsiderable number among His admirers went so far as to believe that His station was no less than that of a prophet. Kurds, Arabs, and Persians, learned and illiterate, both high and low, young and old, who had come to know Him, regarded Him with equal reverence, and not a few among them with genuine and profound affection, and this despite certain assertions and allusions to His station He had made in public, which, had they fallen from the lips of any other member of His race, would have provoked such fury as to endanger His life. Small wonder that Bahá'u'lláh Himself should have, in the Lawh-i-Maryam, pronounced the period of His retirement as "the mightiest testimony" to, and "the most perfect and conclusive evidence" of, the truth of His Revelation. "In a short time," is 'Abdu'l-Bahá's own testimony, "Kurdistán was magnetized with His love. During this period Bahá'u'lláh lived in poverty. His garments were those of the poor and needy. His food was that of the indigent and lowly. An atmosphere of majesty haloed Him as the sun at midday. Everywhere He was greatly revered and loved."  
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While the foundations of Bahá'u'lláh's future greatness were being laid in a strange land and amidst a strange people, the situation of the Bábí community was rapidly going from bad to worse. Pleased and emboldened by His unexpected and prolonged withdrawal from the scene of His labors, the stirrers of mischief with their deluded associates were busily engaged in extending the range of their nefarious activities. Mírzá Yahyá, closeted most of the time in his house, was secretly directing, through his correspondence with those Bábís whom he completely trusted, a campaign designed to utterly discredit Bahá'u'lláh. In his fear of any potential adversary he had dispatched Mírzá Muhammad-i-Mázindarání, one of his supporters, to Ádhirbáyján for the express purpose of murdering Dayyán, the "repository of the knowledge of God," whom he surnamed "Father of Iniquities" and stigmatized as "Tághút," and whom the Báb had extolled as the "Third Letter to believe in Him Whom God shall make manifest." In his folly he had, furthermore, induced Mírzá Áqá Ján to proceed to Núr, and there await a propitious moment when he could make a successful attempt on the life of the sovereign. His shamelessness and effrontery had waxed so great as to lead him to perpetrate himself, and permit Siyyid Muhammad to repeat after him, an act so odious that Bahá'u'lláh characterized it as "a most grievous betrayal," inflicting dishonor upon the Báb, and which "overwhelmed all lands with sorrow." He even, as a further evidence of the enormity of his crimes, ordered that the cousin of the Báb, Mírzá 'Alí-Akbar, a fervent admirer of Dayyán, be secretly put to death—a command which was carried out in all its iniquity. As to Siyyid Muhammad, now given free rein by his master, Mírzá Yahyá, he had surrounded himself, as Nabíl who was at that time with him in Karbilá categorically asserts, with a band of ruffians, whom he allowed, and even encouraged, to snatch at night the turbans from the heads of wealthy pilgrims who had congregated in Karbilá, to steal their shoes, to rob the shrine of the Imám Husayn of its divans and candles, and seize the drinking cups from the public fountains. The depths of degradation to which these so-called adherents of the Faith of the Báb had sunk could not but evoke in Nabíl the memory of the sublime renunciation shown by the conduct of the companions of Mullá Husayn, who, at the suggestion of their leader, had scornfully cast by the wayside the gold, the silver and turquoise in their possession, or shown by the behavior of Vahíd who refused to allow even the least valuable amongst the treasures which his sumptuously furnished house in Yazd contained to be removed ere it was pillaged by the mob, or shown by the decision of Hujjat not to permit his companions, who were on the brink of starvation, to lay hands on the property of others, even though it were to save their own lives.  
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Such was the audacity and effrontery of these demoralized and misguided Bábís that no less than twenty-five persons, according to 'Abdu'l-Bahá's testimony, had the presumption to declare themselves to be the Promised One foretold by the Báb! Such was the decline in their fortunes that they hardly dared show themselves in public. Kurds and Persians vied with each other, when confronting them in the streets, in heaping abuse upon them, and in vilifying openly the Cause which they professed. Little wonder that on His return to Baghdád Bahá'u'lláh should have described the situation then existing in these words: "We found no more than a handful of souls, faint and dispirited, nay utterly lost and dead. The Cause of God had ceased to be on any one's lips, nor was any heart receptive to its message." Such was the sadness that overwhelmed Him on His arrival that He refused for some time to leave His house, except for His visits to Kázimayn and for His occasional meeting with a few of His friends who resided in that town and in Baghdád.  
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The tragic situation that had developed in the course of His two years' absence now imperatively demanded His return. "From the Mystic Source," He Himself explains in the Kitáb-i-Íqán, "there came the summons bidding Us return whence We came. Surrendering Our will to His, We submitted to His injunction." "By God besides Whom there is none other God!" is His emphatic assertion to Shaykh Sultán, as reported by Nabíl in his narrative, "But for My recognition of the fact that the blessed Cause of the Primal Point was on the verge of being completely obliterated, and all the sacred blood poured out in the path of God would have been shed in vain, I would in no wise have consented to return to the people of the Bayán, and would have abandoned them to the worship of the idols their imaginations had fashioned."
["there came the summons..."] The Kitáb-i-Íqán, p. 251
 
Mírzá Yahyá, realizing full well to what a pass his unrestrained leadership of the Faith had brought him, had, moreover, insistently and in writing, besought Him to return. No less urgent were the pleadings of His own kindred and friends, particularly His twelve-year old Son, 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Whose grief and loneliness had so consumed His soul that, in a conversation recorded by Nabíl in his narrative, He had avowed that subsequent to the departure of Bahá'u'lláh He had in His boyhood grown old.    
Deciding to terminate the period of His retirement Bahá'u'lláh bade farewell to the shaykhs of Sulaymáníyyih, who now numbered among His most ardent and, as their future conduct demonstrated, staunchest admirers. Accompanied by Shaykh Sultán, He retraced His steps to Baghdád, on "the banks of the River of Tribulations," as He Himself termed it, proceeding by slow stages, realizing, as He declared to His fellow-traveler, that these last days of His retirement would be "the only days of peace and tranquillity" left to Him, "days which will never again fall to My lot."    
On the 12th of Rajab 1272 A.H. (March 19, 1856) He arrived in Baghdád, exactly two lunar years after His departure for Kurdistán.    

CHAPTER VIII

Bahá'u'lláh's Banishment to 'Iráq (Continued)

 
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The return of Bahá'u'lláh from Sulaymáníyyih to Baghdád marks a turning point of the utmost significance in the history of the first Bahá'í century. The tide of the fortunes of the Faith, having reached its lowest ebb, was now beginning to surge back, and was destined to roll on, steadily and mightily, to a new high water-mark, associated this time with the Declaration of His Mission, on the eve of His banishment to Constantinople. With His return to Baghdád a firm anchorage was now being established, an anchorage such as the Faith had never known in its history. Never before, except during the first three years of its life, could that Faith claim to have possessed a fixed and accessible center to which its adherents could turn for guidance, and from which they could derive continuous and unobstructed inspiration. No less than half of the Báb's short-lived ministry was spent on the remotest border of His native country, where He was concealed and virtually cut off from the vast majority of His disciples. The period immediately after His martyrdom was marked by a confusion that was even more deplorable than the isolation caused by His enforced captivity. Nor when the Revelation which He had foretold made its appearance was it succeeded by an immediate declaration that could enable the members of a distracted community to rally round the person of their expected Deliverer. The prolonged self-concealment of Mírzá Yahyá, the center provisionally appointed pending the manifestation of the Promised One; the nine months' absence of Bahá'u'lláh from His native land, while on a visit to Karbilá, followed swiftly by His imprisonment in the Síyáh-Chál, by His banishment to 'Iráq, and afterwards by His retirement to Kurdistán—all combined to prolong the phase of instability and suspense through which the Bábí community had to pass.    
Now at last, in spite of Bahá'u'lláh's reluctance to unravel the mystery surrounding His own position, the Bábís found themselves able to center both their hopes and their movements round One Whom they believed (whatever their views as to His station) capable of insuring the stability and integrity of their Faith. The orientation which the Faith had thus acquired and the fixity of the center towards which it now gravitated continued, in one form or another, to be its outstanding features, of which it was never again to be deprived.  
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The Faith of the Báb, as already observed, had, in consequence of the successive and formidable blows it had received, reached the verge of extinction. Nor was the momentous Revelation vouchsafed to Bahá'u'lláh in the Síyáh-Chál productive at once of any tangible results of a nature that would exercise a stabilizing influence on a well-nigh disrupted community. Bahá'u'lláh's unexpected banishment had been a further blow to its members, who had learned to place their reliance upon Him. Mírzá Yahyá's seclusion and inactivity further accelerated the process of disintegration that had set in. Bahá'u'lláh's prolonged retirement to Kurdistán seemed to have set the seal on its complete dissolution.    
Now, however, the tide that had ebbed in so alarming a measure was turning, bearing with it, as it rose to flood point, those inestimable benefits that were to herald the announcement of the Revelation already secretly disclosed to Bahá'u'lláh.    
During the seven years that elapsed between the resumption of His labors and the declaration of His prophetic mission—years to which we now direct our attention—it would be no exaggeration to say that the Bahá'í community, under the name and in the shape of a re-arisen Bábí community was born and was slowly taking shape, though its Creator still appeared in the guise of, and continued to labor as, one of the foremost disciples of the Báb. It was a period during which the prestige of the community's nominal head steadily faded from the scene, paling before the rising splendor of Him Who was its actual Leader and Deliverer. It was a period in the course of which the first fruits of an exile, endowed with incalculable potentialities, ripened and were garnered. It was a period that will go down in history as one during which the prestige of a recreated community was immensely enhanced, its morals entirely reformed, its recognition of Him who rehabilitated its fortunes enthusiastically affirmed, its literature enormously enriched, and its victories over its new adversaries universally acknowledged.    
The prestige of the community, and particularly that of Bahá'u'lláh, now began from its first inception in Kurdistán to mount in a steadily rising crescendo. Bahá'u'lláh had scarcely gathered up again the reins of the authority he had relinquished when the devout admirers He had left behind in Sulaymáníyyih started to flock to Baghdád, with the name of "Darvísh Muhammad" on their lips, and the "house of Mírzá Músá the Bábí" as their goal. Astonished at the sight of so many 'ulamás and Súfís of Kurdish origin, of both the Qádiríyyih and Khálidíyyih Orders, thronging the house of Bahá'u'lláh, and impelled by racial and sectarian rivalry, the religious leaders of the city, such as the renowned Ibn-i-Álúsí, the Muftí of Baghdád, together with Shaykh 'Abdu's-Salám, Shaykh 'Abdu'l-Qádir and Siyyid Dáwúdí, began to seek His presence, and, having obtained completely satisfying answers to their several queries, enrolled themselves among the band of His earliest admirers. The unqualified recognition by these outstanding leaders of those traits that distinguished the character and conduct of Bahá'u'lláh stimulated the curiosity, and later evoked the unstinted praise, of a great many observers of less conspicuous position, among whom figured poets, mystics and notables, who either resided in, or visited, the city. Government officials, foremost among whom were 'Abdu'lláh Páshá and his lieutenant Mahmúd Áqá, and Mullá 'Alí Mardán, a Kurd well-known in those circles, were gradually brought into contact with Him, and lent their share in noising abroad His fast-spreading fame. Nor could those distinguished Persians, who either lived in Baghdád and its environs or visited as pilgrims the holy places, remain impervious to the spell of His charm. Princes of the royal blood, amongst whom were such personages as the Ná'ibu'l-Íyálih, the Shujá'u'd-Dawlih, the Sayfu'd-Dawlih, and Zaynu'l-'Ábidín Khán, the Fakhru'd-Dawlih, were, likewise, irresistibly drawn into the ever-widening circle of His associates and acquaintances.  
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Those who, during Bahá'u'lláh's two years' absence from Baghdád, had so persistently reviled and loudly derided His companions and kindred were, by now, for the most part, silenced. Not an inconsiderable number among them feigned respect and esteem for Him, a few claimed to be His defenders and supporters, while others professed to share His beliefs, and actually joined the ranks of the community to which He belonged. Such was the extent of the reaction that had set in that one of them was even heard to boast that, as far back as the year 1250 A.H.—a decade before the Báb's Declaration—he had already perceived and embraced the truth of His Faith!    
Within a few years after Bahá'u'lláh's return from Sulaymáníyyih the situation had been completely reversed. The house of Sulaymán-i-Ghannám, on which the official designation of the Bayt-i-A'zam (the Most Great House) was later conferred, known, at that time, as the house of Mírzá Músá, the Bábí, an extremely modest residence, situated in the Karkh quarter, in the neighborhood of the western bank of the river, to which Bahá'u'lláh's family had moved prior to His return from Kurdistán, had now become the focal center of a great number of seekers, visitors and pilgrims, including Kurds, Persians, Arabs and Turks, and derived from the Muslim, the Jewish and Christian Faiths. It had, moreover, become a veritable sanctuary to which the victims of the injustice of the official representative of the Persian government were wont to flee, in the hope of securing redress for the wrongs they had suffered.  
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At the same time an influx of Persian Bábís, whose sole object was to attain the presence of Bahá'u'lláh, swelled the stream of visitors that poured through His hospitable doors. Carrying back, on their return to their native country, innumerable testimonies, both oral and written, to His steadily rising power and glory, they could not fail to contribute, in a vast measure, to the expansion and progress of a newly-reborn Faith. Four of the Báb's cousins and His maternal uncle, Hájí Mírzá Siyyid Muhammad; a grand-daughter of Fath-'Alí Sháh and fervent admirer of Táhirih, surnamed Varaqatu'r-Ridván; the erudite Mullá Muhammad-i-Qá'iní, surnamed Nabíl-i-Akbar; the already famous Mullá Sádiq-i-Khurásání, surnamed Ismu'lláhu'l-Asdaq, who with Quddús had been ignominiously persecuted in Shíráz; Mullá Báqir, one of the Letters of the Living; Siyyid Asadu'lláh, surnamed Dayyán; the revered Siyyid Javád-i-Karbilá'í; Mírzá Muhammad-Hasan and Mírzá Muhammad-Husayn, later immortalized by the titles of Sultánu'sh-Shuhadá and Mahbúbu'sh-Shuhadá (King of Martyrs and Beloved of Martyrs) respectively; Mírzá Muhammad-'Alíy-i-Nahrí, whose daughter, at a later date, was joined in wedlock to 'Abdu'l-Bahá; the immortal Siyyid Ismá'íl-i-Zavári'í; Hájí Shaykh Muhammad, surnamed Nabíl by the Báb; the accomplished Mírzá Áqáy-i-Munír, surnamed Ismu'lláhu'l-Muníb; the long-suffering Hájí Muhammad-Taqí, surnamed Ayyúb; Mullá Zaynu'l-'Ábidín, surnamed Zaynu'l-Muqarrabín, who had ranked as a highly esteemed mujtahid—all these were numbered among the visitors and fellow-disciples who crossed His threshold, caught a glimpse of the splendor of His majesty, and communicated far and wide the creative influences instilled into them through their contact with His spirit. Mullá Muhammad-i-Zarandí, surnamed Nabíl-i-A'zam, who may well rank as His Poet-Laureate, His chronicler and His indefatigable disciple, had already joined the exiles, and had launched out on his long and arduous series of journeys to Persia in furtherance of the Cause of his Beloved.
Letters of the Living
 
Even those who, in their folly and temerity had, in Baghdád, in Karbilá, in Qum, in Káshán, in Tabríz and in Tihrán, arrogated to themselves the rights, and assumed the title of "Him Whom God shall make manifest" were for the most part instinctively led to seek His presence, confess their error and supplicate His forgiveness. As time went on, fugitives, driven by the ever-present fear of persecution, sought, with their wives and children, the relative security afforded them by close proximity to One who had already become the rallying point for the members of a sorely-vexed community. Persians of high eminence, living in exile, rejecting, in the face of the mounting prestige of Bahá'u'lláh, the dictates of moderation and prudence, sat, forgetful of their pride, at His feet, and imbibed, each according to his capacity, a measure of His spirit and wisdom. Some of the more ambitious among them, such as 'Abbás Mírzá, a son of Muhammad Sháh, the Vazír-Nizám, and Mírzá Malkam Khán, as well as certain functionaries of foreign governments, attempted, in their short-sightedness, to secure His support and assistance for the furtherance of the designs they cherished, designs which He unhesitatingly and severely condemned. Nor was the then representative of the British government, Colonel Sir Arnold Burrows Kemball, consul-general in Baghdád, insensible of the position which Bahá'u'lláh now occupied. Entering into friendly correspondence with Him, he, as testified by Bahá'u'lláh Himself, offered Him the protection of British citizenship, called on Him in person, and undertook to transmit to Queen Victoria any communication He might wish to forward to her. He even expressed his readiness to arrange for the transfer of His residence to India, or to any place agreeable to Him. This suggestion Bahá'u'lláh declined, choosing to abide in the dominions of the Sultán of Turkey. And finally, during the last year of His sojourn in Baghdád the governor Námiq-Páshá, impressed by the many signs of esteem and veneration in which He was held, called upon Him to pay his personal tribute to One Who had already achieved so conspicuous a victory over the hearts and souls of those who had met Him. So profound was the respect the governor entertained for Him, Whom he regarded as one of the Lights of the Age, that it was not until the end of three months, during which he had received five successive commands from 'Alí Páshá, that he could bring himself to inform Bahá'u'lláh that it was the wish of the Turkish government that He should proceed to the capital. On one occasion, when 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Áqáy-i-Kalím had been delegated by Bahá'u'lláh to visit him, he entertained them with such elaborate ceremonial that the Deputy-Governor stated that so far as he knew no notable of the city had ever been accorded by any governor so warm and courteous a reception. So struck, indeed, had the Sultán 'Abdu'l-Majíd been by the favorable reports received about Bahá'u'lláh from successive governors of Baghdád (this is the personal testimony given by the Governor's deputy to Bahá'u'lláh himself) that he consistently refused to countenance the requests of the Persian government either to deliver Him to their representative or to order His expulsion from Turkish territory.  
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On no previous occasion, since the inception of the Faith, not even during the days when the Báb in Isfahán, in Tabríz and in Chihríq was acclaimed by the ovations of an enthusiastic populace, had any of its exponents risen to such high eminence in the public mind, or exercised over so diversified a circle of admirers an influence so far reaching and so potent. Yet unprecedented as was the sway which Bahá'u'lláh held while, in that primitive age of the Faith, He was dwelling in Baghdád, its range at that time was modest when compared with the magnitude of the fame which, at the close of that same age, and through the immediate inspiration of the Center of His Covenant, the Faith acquired in both the European and American continents.    
The ascendancy achieved by Bahá'u'lláh was nowhere better demonstrated than in His ability to broaden the outlook and transform the character of the community to which He belonged. Though Himself nominally a Bábí, though the provisions of the Bayán were still regarded as binding and inviolable, He was able to inculcate a standard which, while not incompatible with its tenets, was ethically superior to the loftiest principles which the Bábí Dispensation had established. The salutary and fundamental truths advocated by the Báb, that had either been obscured, neglected or misrepresented, were moreover elucidated by Bahá'u'lláh, reaffirmed and instilled afresh into the corporate life of the community, and into the souls of the individuals who comprised it. The dissociation of the Bábí Faith from every form of political activity and from all secret associations and factions; the emphasis placed on the principle of non-violence; the necessity of strict obedience to established authority; the ban imposed on all forms of sedition, on back-biting, retaliation, and dispute; the stress laid on godliness, kindliness, humility and piety, on honesty and truthfulness, chastity and fidelity, on justice, toleration, sociability, amity and concord, on the acquisition of arts and sciences, on self-sacrifice and detachment, on patience, steadfastness and resignation to the will of God—all these constitute the salient features of a code of ethical conduct to which the books, treatises and epistles, revealed during those years, by the indefatigable pen of Bahá'u'lláh, unmistakably bear witness.  
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"By the aid of God and His divine grace and mercy," He Himself has written with reference to the character and consequences of His own labors during that period, "We revealed, as a copious rain, Our verses, and sent them to various parts of the world. We exhorted all men, and particularly this people, through Our wise counsels and loving admonitions, and forbade them to engage in sedition, quarrels, disputes or conflict. As a result of this, and by the grace of God, waywardness and folly were changed into piety and understanding, and weapons of war converted into instruments of peace." "Bahá'u'lláh," 'Abdu'l-Bahá affirmed, "after His return (from Sulaymáníyyih) made such strenuous efforts in educating and training this community, in reforming its manners, in regulating its affairs and in rehabilitating its fortunes, that in a short while all these troubles and mischiefs were quenched, and the utmost peace and tranquillity reigned in men's hearts." And again: "When these fundamentals were established in the hearts of this people, they everywhere acted in such wise that, in the estimation of those in authority, they became famous for the integrity of their character, the steadfastness of their hearts, the purity of their motives, the praiseworthiness of their deeds, and the excellence of their conduct."
["By the aid of God...] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 69
 
The exalted character of the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh propounded during that period is perhaps best illustrated by the following statement made by Him in those days to an official who had reported to Him that, because of the devotion to His person which an evildoer had professed, he had hesitated to inflict upon that criminal the punishment he deserved: "Tell him, no one in this world can claim any relationship to Me except those who, in all their deeds and in their conduct, follow My example, in such wise that all the peoples of the earth would be powerless to prevent them from doing and saying that which is meet and seemly." "This brother of Mine," He further declared to that official, "this Mírzá Músá, who is from the same mother and father as Myself, and who from his earliest childhood has kept Me company, should he perpetrate an act contrary to the interests of either the state or religion, and his guilt be established in your sight, I would be pleased and appreciate your action were you to bind his hands and cast him into the river to drown, and refuse to consider the intercession of any one on his behalf." In another connection He, wishing to stress His strong condemnation of all acts of violence, had written: "It would be more acceptable in My sight for a person to harm one of My own sons or relatives rather than inflict injury upon any soul."  
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"Most of those who surrounded Bahá'u'lláh," wrote Nabíl, describing the spirit that animated the reformed Bábí community in Baghdád, "exercised such care in sanctifying and purifying their souls, that they would suffer no word to cross their lips that might not conform to the will of God, nor would they take a single step that might be contrary to His good-pleasure." "Each one," he relates, "had entered into a pact with one of his fellow-disciples, in which they agreed to admonish one another, and, if necessary, chastise one another with a number of blows on the soles of the feet, proportioning the number of strokes to the gravity of the offense against the lofty standards they had sworn to observe." Describing the fervor of their zeal, he states that "not until the offender had suffered the punishment he had solicited, would he consent to either eat or drink."    
The complete transformation which the written and spoken word of Bahá'u'lláh had effected in the outlook and character of His companions was equalled by the burning devotion which His love had kindled in their souls. A passionate zeal and fervor, that rivalled the enthusiasm that had glowed so fiercely in the breasts of the Báb's disciples in their moments of greatest exaltation, had now seized the hearts of the exiles of Baghdád and galvanized their entire beings. "So inebriated," Nabíl, describing the fecundity of this tremendously dynamic spiritual revival, has written, "so carried away was every one by the sweet savors of the Morn of Divine Revelation that, methinks, out of every thorn sprang forth heaps of blossoms, and every seed yielded innumerable harvests." "The room of the Most Great House," that same chronicler has recorded, "set apart for the reception of Bahá'u'lláh's visitors, though dilapidated, and having long since outgrown its usefulness, vied, through having been trodden by the blessed footsteps of the Well Beloved, with the Most Exalted Paradise. Low-roofed, it yet seemed to reach to the stars, and though it boasted but a single couch, fashioned from the branches of palms, whereon He Who is the King of Names was wont to sit, it drew to itself, even as a loadstone, the hearts of the princes."    
It was this same reception room which, in spite of its rude simplicity, had so charmed the Shujá'u'd-Dawlih that he had expressed to his fellow-princes his intention of building a duplicate of it in his home in Kázimayn. "He may well succeed," Bahá'u'lláh is reported to have smilingly remarked when apprized of this intention, "in reproducing outwardly the exact counterpart of this low-roofed room made of mud and straw with its diminutive garden. What of his ability to open onto it the spiritual doors leading to the hidden worlds of God?" "I know not how to explain it," another prince, Zaynu'l-'Ábidín Khán, the Fakhru'd-Dawlih, describing the atmosphere which pervaded that reception-room, had affirmed, "were all the sorrows of the world to be crowded into my heart they would, I feel, all vanish, when in the presence of Bahá'u'lláh. It is as if I had entered Paradise itself."  
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The joyous feasts which these companions, despite their extremely modest earnings, continually offered in honor of their Beloved; the gatherings, lasting far into the night, in which they loudly celebrated, with prayers, poetry and song, the praises of the Báb, of Quddús and of Bahá'u'lláh; the fasts they observed; the vigils they kept; the dreams and visions which fired their souls, and which they recounted to each other with feelings of unbounded enthusiasm; the eagerness with which those who served Bahá'u'lláh performed His errands, waited upon His needs, and carried heavy skins of water for His ablutions and other domestic purposes; the acts of imprudence which, in moments of rapture, they occasionally committed; the expressions of wonder and admiration which their words and acts evoked in a populace that had seldom witnessed such demonstrations of religious transport and personal devotion—these, and many others, will forever remain associated with the history of that immortal period, intervening between the birth hour of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation and its announcement on the eve of His departure from 'Iráq.
["The joyous feasts..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 208
 
Numerous and striking are the anecdotes which have been recounted by those whom duty, accident, or inclination had, in the course of these poignant years, brought into direct contact with Bahá'u'lláh. Many and moving are the testimonies of bystanders who were privileged to gaze on His countenance, observe His gait, or overhear His remarks, as He moved through the lanes and streets of the city, or paced the banks of the river; of the worshippers who watched Him pray in their mosques; of the mendicant, the sick, the aged, and the unfortunate whom He succored, healed, supported and comforted; of the visitors, from the haughtiest prince to the meanest beggar, who crossed His threshold and sat at His feet; of the merchant, the artisan, and the shopkeeper who waited upon Him and supplied His daily needs; of His devotees who had perceived the signs of His hidden glory; of His adversaries who were confounded or disarmed by the power of His utterance and the warmth of His love; of the priests and laymen, the noble and learned, who besought Him with the intention of either challenging His authority, or testing His knowledge, or investigating His claims, or confessing their shortcomings, or declaring their conversion to the Cause He had espoused.  
136

From such a treasury of precious memories it will suffice my purpose to cite but a single instance, that of one of His ardent lovers, a native of Zavárih, Siyyid Ismá'íl by name, surnamed Dhabíh (the Sacrifice), formerly a noted divine, taciturn, meditative and wholly severed from every earthly tie, whose self-appointed task, on which he prided himself, was to sweep the approaches of the house in which Bahá'u'lláh was dwelling. Unwinding his green turban, the ensign of his holy lineage, from his head, he would, at the hour of dawn, gather up, with infinite patience, the rubble which the footsteps of his Beloved had trodden, would blow the dust from the crannies of the wall adjacent to the door of that house, would collect the sweepings in the folds of his own cloak, and, scorning to cast his burden for the feet of others to tread upon, would carry it as far as the banks of the river and throw it into its waters. Unable, at length, to contain the ocean of love that surged within his soul, he, after having denied himself for forty days both sleep and sustenance, and rendering for the last time the service so dear to his heart, betook himself, one day, to the banks of the river, on the road to Kázimayn, performed his ablutions, lay down on his back, with his face turned towards Baghdád, severed his throat with a razor, laid the razor upon his breast, and expired. (1275 A.H.)    
Nor was he the only one who had meditated such an act and was determined to carry it out. Others were ready to follow suit, had not Bahá'u'lláh promptly intervened, and ordered the refugees living in Baghdád to return immediately to their native land. Nor could the authorities, when it was definitely established that Dhabíh had died by his own hand, remain indifferent to a Cause whose Leader could inspire so rare a devotion in, and hold such absolute sway over, the hearts of His lovers. Apprized of the apprehensions that episode had evoked in certain quarters in Baghdád, Bahá'u'lláh is reported to have remarked: "Siyyid Ismá'íl was possessed of such power and might that were he to be confronted by all the peoples of the earth, he would, without doubt, be able to establish his ascendancy over them." "No blood," He is reported to have said with reference to this same Dhabíh, whom He extolled as "King and Beloved of Martyrs," "has, till now, been poured upon the earth as pure as the blood he shed."
["No blood..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 103
137

"So intoxicated were those who had quaffed from the cup of Bahá'u'lláh's presence," is yet another testimony from the pen of Nabíl, who was himself an eye-witness of most of these stirring episodes, "that in their eyes the palaces of kings appeared more ephemeral than a spider's web.… The celebrations and festivities that were theirs were such as the kings of the earth had never dreamt of." "I, myself with two others," he relates, "lived in a room which was devoid of furniture. Bahá'u'lláh entered it one day, and, looking about Him, remarked: 'Its emptiness pleases Me. In My estimation it is preferable to many a spacious palace, inasmuch as the beloved of God are occupied in it with the remembrance of the Incomparable Friend, with hearts that are wholly emptied of the dross of this world.'" His own life was characterized by that same austerity, and evinced that same simplicity which marked the lives of His beloved companions. "There was a time in 'Iráq," He Himself affirms, in one of His Tablets, "when the Ancient Beauty … had no change of linen. The one shirt He possessed would be washed, dried and worn again."
["So intoxicated..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 209

["There was a time in..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 169

 
"Many a night," continues Nabíl, depicting the lives of those self-oblivious companions, "no less than ten persons subsisted on no more than a pennyworth of dates. No one knew to whom actually belonged the shoes, the cloaks, or the robes that were to be found in their houses. Whoever went to the bazaar could claim that the shoes upon his feet were his own, and each one who entered the presence of Bahá'u'lláh could affirm that the cloak and robe he then wore belonged to him. Their own names they had forgotten, their hearts were emptied of aught else except adoration for their Beloved.… O, for the joy of those days, and the gladness and wonder of those hours!"
["Many a night..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 209; vol. 2, p. 215
 
The enormous expansion in the scope and volume of Bahá'u'lláh's writings, after His return from Sulaymáníyyih, is yet another distinguishing feature of the period under review. The verses that streamed during those years from His pen, described as "a copious rain" by Himself, whether in the form of epistles, exhortations, commentaries, apologies, dissertations, prophecies, prayers, odes or specific Tablets, contributed, to a marked degree, to the reformation and progressive unfoldment of the Bábí community, to the broadening of its outlook, to the expansion of its activities and to the enlightenment of the minds of its members. So prolific was this period, that during the first two years after His return from His retirement, according to the testimony of Nabíl, who was at that time living in Baghdád, the unrecorded verses that streamed from His lips averaged, in a single day and night, the equivalent of the Qur'án! As to those verses which He either dictated or wrote Himself, their number was no less remarkable than either the wealth of material they contained, or the diversity of subjects to which they referred. A vast, and indeed the greater, proportion of these writings were, alas, lost irretrievably to posterity. No less an authority than Mírzá Áqá Ján, Bahá'u'lláh's amanuensis, affirms, as reported by Nabíl, that by the express order of Bahá'u'lláh, hundreds of thousands of verses, mostly written by His own hand, were obliterated and cast into the river. "Finding me reluctant to execute His orders," Mírzá Áqá Ján has related to Nabíl, "Bahá'u'lláh would reassure me saying: 'None is to be found at this time worthy to hear these melodies.' … Not once, or twice, but innumerable times, was I commanded to repeat this act." A certain Muhammad Karím, a native of Shíráz, who had been a witness to the rapidity and the manner in which the Báb had penned the verses with which He was inspired, has left the following testimony to posterity, after attaining, during those days, the presence of Bahá'u'lláh, and beholding with his own eyes what he himself had considered to be the only proof of the mission of the Promised One: "I bear witness that the verses revealed by Bahá'u'lláh were superior, in the rapidity with which they were penned, in the ease with which they flowed, in their lucidity, their profundity and sweetness to those which I, myself saw pour from the pen of the Báb when in His presence. Had Bahá'u'lláh no other claim to greatness, this were sufficient, in the eyes of the world and its people, that He produced such verses as have streamed this day from His pen."
["None is to be found..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 69
138

Foremost among the priceless treasures cast forth from the billowing ocean of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation ranks the Kitáb-i-Íqán (Book of Certitude), revealed within the space of two days and two nights, in the closing years of that period (1278 A.H.–1862 A.D.). It was written in fulfillment of the prophecy of the Báb, Who had specifically stated that the Promised One would complete the text of the unfinished Persian Bayán, and in reply to the questions addressed to Bahá'u'lláh by the as yet unconverted maternal uncle of the Báb, Hájí Mírzá Siyyid Muhammad, while on a visit, with his brother, Hájí Mírzá Hasan-'Alí, to Karbilá. A model of Persian prose, of a style at once original, chaste and vigorous, and remarkably lucid, both cogent in argument and matchless in its irresistible eloquence, this Book, setting forth in outline the Grand Redemptive Scheme of God, occupies a position unequalled by any work in the entire range of Bahá'í literature, except the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Bahá'u'lláh's Most Holy Book. Revealed on the eve of the declaration of His Mission, it proffered to mankind the "Choice Sealed Wine," whose seal is of "musk," and broke the "seals" of the "Book" referred to by Daniel, and disclosed the meaning of the "words" destined to remain "closed up" till the "time of the end."
The Kitáb-i-Íqán

["Foremost among the priceless treasures..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 160

139

Within a compass of two hundred pages it proclaims unequivocally the existence and oneness of a personal God, unknowable, inaccessible, the source of all Revelation, eternal, omniscient, omnipresent and almighty; asserts the relativity of religious truth and the continuity of Divine Revelation; affirms the unity of the Prophets, the universality of their Message, the identity of their fundamental teachings, the sanctity of their scriptures, and the twofold character of their stations; denounces the blindness and perversity of the divines and doctors of every age; cites and elucidates the allegorical passages of the New Testament, the abstruse verses of the Qur'án, and the cryptic Muhammadan traditions which have bred those age-long misunderstandings, doubts and animosities that have sundered and kept apart the followers of the world's leading religious systems; enumerates the essential prerequisites for the attainment by every true seeker of the object of his quest; demonstrates the validity, the sublimity and significance of the Báb's Revelation; acclaims the heroism and detachment of His disciples; foreshadows, and prophesies the world-wide triumph of the Revelation promised to the people of the Bayán; upholds the purity and innocence of the Virgin Mary; glorifies the Imáms of the Faith of Muhammad; celebrates the martyrdom, and lauds the spiritual sovereignty, of the Imám Husayn; unfolds the meaning of such symbolic terms as "Return," "Resurrection," "Seal of the Prophets" and "Day of Judgment"; adumbrates and distinguishes between the three stages of Divine Revelation; and expatiates, in glowing terms, upon the glories and wonders of the "City of God," renewed, at fixed intervals, by the dispensation of Providence, for the guidance, the benefit and salvation of all mankind. Well may it be claimed that of all the books revealed by the Author of the Bahá'í Revelation, this Book alone, by sweeping away the age-long barriers that have so insurmountably separated the great religions of the world, has laid down a broad and unassailable foundation for the complete and permanent reconciliation of their followers.    
Next to this unique repository of inestimable treasures must rank that marvelous collection of gem-like utterances, the "Hidden Words" with which Bahá'u'lláh was inspired, as He paced, wrapped in His meditations, the banks of the Tigris. Revealed in the year 1274 A.H., partly in Persian, partly in Arabic, it was originally designated the "Hidden Book of Fátimih," and was identified by its Author with the Book of that same name, believed by Shí'ah Islám to be in the possession of the promised Qá'im, and to consist of words of consolation addressed by the angel Gabriel, at God's command, to Fátimih, and dictated to the Imám 'Alí, for the sole purpose of comforting her in her hour of bitter anguish after the death of her illustrious Father. The significance of this dynamic spiritual leaven cast into the life of the world for the reorientation of the minds of men, the edification of their souls and the rectification of their conduct can best be judged by the description of its character given in the opening passage by its Author: "This is that which hath descended from the Realm of Glory, uttered by the tongue of power and might, and revealed unto the Prophets of old. We have taken the inner essence thereof and clothed it in the garment of brevity, as a token of grace unto the righteous, that they may stand faithful unto the Covenant of God, may fulfill in their lives His trust, and in the realm of spirit obtain the gem of Divine virtue."
The Hidden Words
140

To these two outstanding contributions to the world's religious literature, occupying respectively, positions of unsurpassed preeminence among the doctrinal and ethical writings of the Author of the Bahá'í Dispensation, was added, during that same period, a treatise that may well be regarded as His greatest mystical composition, designated as the "Seven Valleys," which He wrote in answer to the questions of Shaykh Muhyi'd-Dín, the Qádí of Khániqayn, in which He describes the seven stages which the soul of the seeker must needs traverse ere it can attain the object of its existence.
The Seven Valleys
 
The "Four Valleys," an epistle addressed to the learned Shaykh 'Abdu'r-Rahmán-i-Karkútí; the "Tablet of the Holy Mariner," in which Bahá'u'lláh prophesies the severe afflictions that are to befall Him; the "Lawh-i-Húríyyih" (Tablet of the Maiden), in which events of a far remoter future are foreshadowed; the "Súriy-i-Sabr" (Súrih of Patience), revealed on the first day of Ridván which extols Vahíd and his fellow-sufferers in Nayríz; the commentary on the Letters prefixed to the Súrihs of the Qur'án; His interpretation of the letter Váv, mentioned in the writings of Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsá'í, and of other abstruse passages in the works of Siyyid Kázim-i-Rashtí; the "Lawh-i-Madínatu't-Tawhíd" (Tablet of the City of Unity); the "Sahífiy-i-Shattíyyih"; the "Musíbát-i-Hurúfát-i-'Álíyát"; the "Tafsír-i-Hú"; the "Javáhiru'l-Asrár" and a host of other writings, in the form of epistles, odes, homilies, specific Tablets, commentaries and prayers, contributed, each in its own way, to swell the "rivers of everlasting life" which poured forth from the "Abode of Peace" and lent a mighty impetus to the expansion of the Báb's Faith in both Persia and 'Iráq, quickening the souls and transforming the character of its adherents.
The Four Valleys

[Tablet of the Holy Mariner] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 228

[Lawh-i-Húríyyih] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 125

[Madínatu't-Tawhíd] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 109

[Sahífiy-i-Shattíyyih] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 105

[Javáhiru'l-Asrár] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 151

141

The undeniable evidences of the range and magnificence of Bahá'u'lláh's rising power; His rapidly waxing prestige; the miraculous transformation which, by precept and example, He had effected in the outlook and character of His companions from Baghdád to the remotest towns and hamlets in Persia; the consuming love for Him that glowed in their bosoms; the prodigious volume of writings that streamed day and night from His pen, could not fail to fan into flame the animosity which smouldered in the breasts of His Shí'ah and Sunní enemies. Now that His residence was transferred to the vicinity of the strongholds of Shí'ah Islám, and He Himself brought into direct and almost daily contact with the fanatical pilgrims who thronged the holy places of Najaf, Karbilá and Kázimayn, a trial of strength between the growing brilliance of His glory and the dark and embattled forces of religious fanaticism could no longer be delayed. A spark was all that was required to ignite this combustible material of all the accumulated hatreds, fears and jealousies which the revived activities of the Bábís had inspired. This was provided by a certain Shaykh 'Abdu'l-Husayn, a crafty and obstinate priest, whose consuming jealousy of Bahá'u'lláh was surpassed only by his capacity to stir up mischief both among those of high degree and also amongst the lowest of the low, Arab or Persian, who thronged the streets and markets of Kázimayn, Karbilá and Baghdád. He it was whom Bahá'u'lláh had stigmatized in His Tablets by such epithets as the "scoundrel," the "schemer," the "wicked one," who "drew the sword of his self against the face of God," "in whose soul Satan hath whispered," and "from whose impiety Satan flies," the "depraved one," "from whom originated and to whom will return all infidelity, cruelty and crime." Largely through the efforts of the Grand Vizir, who wished to get rid of him, this troublesome mujtahid had been commissioned by the Sháh to proceed to Karbilá to repair the holy sites in that city. Watching for his opportunity, he allied himself with Mírzá Buzurg Khán, a newly-appointed Persian consul-general, who being of the same iniquitous turn of mind as himself, a man of mean intelligence, insincere, without foresight or honor, and a confirmed drunkard, soon fell a prey to the influence of that vicious plotter, and became the willing instrument of his designs.
["scoundrel,..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 146
142

Their first concerted endeavor was to obtain from the governor of Baghdád, Mustafá Páshá, through a gross distortion of the truth, an order for the extradition of Bahá'u'lláh and His companions, an effort which miserably failed. Recognizing the futility of any attempt to achieve his purpose through the intervention of the local authorities, Shaykh 'Abdu'l-Husayn began, through the sedulous circulation of dreams which he first invented and then interpreted, to excite the passions of a superstitious and highly inflammable population. The resentment engendered by the lack of response he met with was aggravated by his ignominious failure to meet the challenge of an interview pre-arranged between himself and Bahá'u'lláh. Mírzá Buzurg Khán, on his part, used his influence in order to arouse the animosity of the lower elements of the population against the common Adversary, by inciting them to affront Him in public, in the hope of provoking some rash retaliatory act that could be used as a ground for false charges through which the desired order for Bahá'u'lláh's extradition might be procured. This attempt too proved abortive, as the presence of Bahá'u'lláh, Who, despite the warnings and pleadings of His friends, continued to walk unescorted, both by day and by night, through the streets of the city, was enough to plunge His would-be molesters into consternation and shame. Well aware of their motives, He would approach them, rally them on their intentions, joke with them, and leave them covered with confusion and firmly resolved to abandon whatever schemes they had in mind. The consul-general had even gone so far as to hire a ruffian, a Turk, named Ridá, for the sum of one hundred túmáns, provide him with a horse and with two pistols, and order him to seek out and kill Bahá'u'lláh, promising him that his own protection would be fully assured. Ridá, learning one day that his would-be-victim was attending the public bath, eluded the vigilance of the Bábís in attendance, entered the bath with a pistol concealed in his cloak, and confronted Bahá'u'lláh in the inner chamber, only to discover that he lacked the courage to accomplish his task. He himself, years later, related that on another occasion he was lying in wait for Bahá'u'lláh, pistol in hand, when, on Bahá'u'lláh's approach, he was so overcome with fear that the pistol dropped from his hand; whereupon Bahá'u'lláh bade Áqáy-i-Kalím, who accompanied Him, to hand it back to him, and show him the way to his home.
["Mírzá Buzurg Khán..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 143
 
Balked in his repeated attempts to achieve his malevolent purpose, Shaykh 'Abdu'l-Husayn now diverted his energies into a new channel. He promised his accomplice he would raise him to the rank of a minister of the crown, if he succeeded in inducing the government to recall Bahá'u'lláh to Tihrán, and cast Him again into prison. He despatched lengthy and almost daily reports to the immediate entourage of the Sháh. He painted extravagant pictures of the ascendancy enjoyed by Bahá'u'lláh by representing Him as having won the allegiance of the nomadic tribes of 'Iráq. He claimed that He was in a position to muster, in a day, fully one hundred thousand men ready to take up arms at His bidding. He accused Him of meditating, in conjunction with various leaders in Persia, an insurrection against the sovereign. By such means as these he succeeded in bringing sufficient pressure on the authorities in Tihrán to induce the Sháh to grant him a mandate, bestowing on him full powers, and enjoining the Persian 'ulamás and functionaries to render him every assistance. This mandate the Shaykh instantly forwarded to the ecclesiastics of Najaf and Karbilá, asking them to convene a gathering in Kázimayn, the place of his residence. A concourse of shaykhs, mullás and mujtahids, eager to curry favor with the sovereign, promptly responded. Upon being informed of the purpose for which they had been summoned, they determined to declare a holy war against the colony of exiles, and by launching a sudden and general assault on it to destroy the Faith at its heart. To their amazement and disappointment, however, they found that the leading mujtahid amongst them, the celebrated Shaykh Murtadáy-i-Ansárí, a man renowned for his tolerance, his wisdom, his undeviating justice, his piety and nobility of character, refused, when apprized of their designs, to pronounce the necessary sentence against the Bábís. He it was whom Bahá'u'lláh later extolled in the "Lawh-i-Sultán," and numbered among "those doctors who have indeed drunk of the cup of renunciation," and "never interfered with Him," and to whom 'Abdu'l-Bahá referred as "the illustrious and erudite doctor, the noble and celebrated scholar, the seal of seekers after truth." Pleading insufficient knowledge of the tenets of this community, and claiming to have witnessed no act on the part of its members at variance with the Qur'án, he, disregarding the remonstrances of his colleagues, abruptly left the gathering, and returned to Najaf, after having expressed, through a messenger, his regret to Bahá'u'lláh for what had happened, and his devout wish for His protection.
[Lawh-i-Sultán] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 337

["the illustrious and erudite doctor...] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 92

143

Frustrated in their designs, but unrelenting in their hostility, the assembled divines delegated the learned and devout Hájí Mullá Hasan-i-'Ammú, recognized for his integrity and wisdom, to submit various questions to Bahá'u'lláh for elucidation. When these were submitted, and answers completely satisfactory to the messenger were given, Hájí Mullá Hasan, affirming the recognition by the 'ulamás of the vastness of the knowledge of Bahá'u'lláh, asked, as an evidence of the truth of His mission, for a miracle that would satisfy completely all concerned. "Although you have no right to ask this," Bahá'u'lláh replied, "for God should test His creatures, and they should not test God, still I allow and accept this request.… The 'ulamás must assemble, and, with one accord, choose one miracle, and write that, after the performance of this miracle they will no longer entertain doubts about Me, and that all will acknowledge and confess the truth of My Cause. Let them seal this paper, and bring it to Me. This must be the accepted criterion: if the miracle is performed, no doubt will remain for them; and if not, We shall be convicted of imposture." This clear, challenging and courageous reply, unexampled in the annals of any religion, and addressed to the most illustrious Shí'ah divines, assembled in their time-honored stronghold, was so satisfactory to their envoy that he instantly arose, kissed the knee of Bahá'u'lláh, and departed to deliver His message. Three days later he sent word that that august assemblage had failed to arrive at a decision, and had chosen to drop the matter, a decision to which he himself later gave wide publicity, in the course of his visit to Persia, and even communicated it in person to the then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mírzá Sa'íd Khán. "We have," Bahá'u'lláh is reported to have commented, when informed of their reaction to this challenge, "through this all-satisfying, all-embracing message which We sent, revealed and vindicated the miracles of all the Prophets, inasmuch as We left the choice to the 'ulamás themselves, undertaking to reveal whatever they would decide upon." "If we carefully examine the text of the Bible," 'Abdu'l-Bahá has written concerning a similar challenge made later by Bahá'u'lláh in the "Lawh-i-Sultán," "we see that the Divine Manifestation never said to those who denied Him, 'whatever miracle you desire, I am ready to perform, and I will submit to whatever test you propose.' But in the Epistle to the Sháh Bahá'u'lláh said clearly, 'Gather the 'ulamás and summon Me, that the evidences and proofs may be established.'"
["Although you have no right to ask...] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 145

["We have,"] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 146

[Lawh-i-Sultán] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 337

144

Seven years of uninterrupted, of patient and eminently successful consolidation were now drawing to a close. A shepherdless community, subjected to a prolonged and tremendous strain, from both within and without, and threatened with obliteration, had been resuscitated, and risen to an ascendancy without example in the course of its twenty years' history. Its foundations reinforced, its spirit exalted, its outlook transformed, its leadership safeguarded, its fundamentals restated, its prestige enhanced, its enemies discomfited, the Hand of Destiny was gradually preparing to launch it on a new phase in its checkered career, in which weal and woe alike were to carry it through yet another stage in its evolution. The Deliverer, the sole hope, and the virtually recognized leader of this community, Who had consistently overawed the authors of so many plots to assassinate Him, Who had scornfully rejected all the timid advice that He should flee from the scene of danger, Who had firmly declined repeated and generous offers made by friends and supporters to insure His personal safety, Who had won so conspicuous a victory over His antagonists—He was, at this auspicious hour, being impelled by the resistless processes of His unfolding Mission, to transfer His residence to the center of still greater preeminence, the capital city of the Ottoman Empire, the seat of the Caliphate, the administrative center of Sunní Islám, the abode of the most powerful potentate in the Islamic world.  
145

He had already flung a daring challenge to the sacerdotal order represented by the eminent ecclesiastics residing in Najaf, Karbilá and Kázimayn. He was now, while in the vicinity of the court of His royal adversary, to offer a similar challenge to the recognized head of Sunní Islám, as well as to the sovereign of Persia, the trustee of the hidden Imám. The entire company of the kings of the earth, and in particular the Sultán and his ministers, were, moreover, to be addressed by Him, appealed to and warned, while the kings of Christendom and the Sunní hierarchy were to be severely admonished. Little wonder that the exiled Bearer of a newly-announced Revelation should have, in anticipation of the future splendor of the Lamp of His Faith, after its removal from 'Iráq, uttered these prophetic words: "It will shine resplendently within another globe, as predestined by Him who is the Omnipotent, the Ancient of Days.… That the Spirit should depart out of the body of 'Iráq is indeed a wondrous sign unto all who are in heaven and all who are on earth. Erelong will ye behold this Divine Youth riding upon the steed of victory. Then will the hearts of the envious be seized with trembling."    
The predestined hour of Bahá'u'lláh's departure from 'Iráq having now struck, the process whereby it could be accomplished was set in motion. The nine months of unremitting endeavor exerted by His enemies, and particularly by Shaykh 'Abdu'l-Husayn and his confederate Mírzá Buzurg Khán, were about to yield their fruit. Násiri'd-Dín Sháh and his ministers, on the one hand, and the Persian Ambassador in Constantinople, on the other, were incessantly urged to take immediate action to insure Bahá'u'lláh's removal from Baghdád. Through gross misrepresentation of the true situation and the dissemination of alarming reports a malignant and energetic enemy finally succeeded in persuading the Sháh to instruct his foreign minister, Mírzá Sa'íd Khán, to direct the Persian Ambassador at the Sublime Porte, Mírzá Husayn Khán, a close friend of 'Alí Páshá, the Grand Vizir of the Sultán, and of Fu'ád Páshá, the Minister of foreign affairs, to induce Sultán 'Abdu'l-'Azíz to order the immediate transfer of Bahá'u'lláh to a place remote from Baghdád, on the ground that His continued residence in that city, adjacent to Persian territory and close to so important a center of Shí'ah pilgrimage, constituted a direct menace to the security of Persia and its government.
[Mírzá Husayn Khán] Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 68
146

Mírzá Sa'íd Khán, in his communication to the Ambassador, stigmatized the Faith as a "misguided and detestable sect," deplored Bahá'u'lláh's release from the Síyáh-Chál, and denounced Him as one who did not cease from "secretly corrupting and misleading foolish persons and ignorant weaklings." "In accordance with the royal command," he wrote, "I, your faithful friend, have been ordered … to instruct you to seek, without delay, an appointment with their Excellencies, the Sadr-i-A'zam and the Minister of Foreign Affairs … to request … the removal of this source of mischief from a center like Baghdád, which is the meeting-place of many different peoples, and is situated near the frontiers of the provinces of Persia." In that same letter, quoting a celebrated verse, he writes: "'I see beneath the ashes the glow of fire, and it wants but little to burst into a blaze,'" thus betraying his fears and seeking to instill them into his correspondent.    
Encouraged by the presence on the throne of a monarch who had delegated much of his powers to his ministers, and aided by certain foreign ambassadors and ministers in Constantinople, Mírzá Husayn Khán, by dint of much persuasion and the friendly pressure he brought to bear on these ministers, succeeded in securing the sanction of the Sultán for the transfer of Bahá'u'lláh and His companions (who had in the meantime been forced by circumstances to change their citizenship) to Constantinople. It is even reported that the first request the Persian authorities made of a friendly Power, after the accession of the new Sultán to the throne, was for its active and prompt intervention in this matter.  
147

It was on the fifth of Naw-Rúz (1863), while Bahá'u'lláh was celebrating that festival in the Mazra'iy-i-Vashshásh, in the outskirts of Baghdád, and had just revealed the "Tablet of the Holy Mariner," whose gloomy prognostications had aroused the grave apprehensions of His Companions, that an emissary of Námiq Páshá arrived and delivered into His hands a communication requesting an interview between Him and the governor.
[Tablet of the Holy Mariner] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 228

 
Already, as Nabíl has pointed out in his narrative, Bahá'u'lláh had, in the course of His discourses, during the last years of His sojourn in Baghdád, alluded to the period of trial and turmoil that was inexorably approaching, exhibiting a sadness and heaviness of heart which greatly perturbed those around Him. A dream which He had at that time, the ominous character of which could not be mistaken, served to confirm the fears and misgivings that had assailed His companions. "I saw," He wrote in a Tablet, "the Prophets and the Messengers gather and seat themselves around Me, moaning, weeping and loudly lamenting. Amazed, I inquired of them the reason, whereupon their lamentation and weeping waxed greater, and they said unto me: 'We weep for Thee, O Most Great Mystery, O Tabernacle of Immortality!' They wept with such a weeping that I too wept with them. Thereupon the Concourse on high addressed Me saying: '…Erelong shalt Thou behold with Thine own eyes what no Prophet hath beheld.… Be patient, be patient.' … They continued addressing Me the whole night until the approach of dawn." "Oceans of sorrow," Nabíl affirms, "surged in the hearts of the listeners when the Tablet of the Holy Mariner was read aloud to them.… It was evident to every one that the chapter of Baghdád was about to be closed, and a new one opened, in its stead. No sooner had that Tablet been chanted than Bahá'u'lláh ordered that the tents which had been pitched should be folded up, and that all His companions should return to the city. While the tents were being removed He observed: 'These tents may be likened to the trappings of this world, which no sooner are they spread out than the time cometh for them to be rolled up.' From these words of His they who heard them perceived that these tents would never again be pitched on that spot. They had not yet been taken away when the messenger arrived from Baghdád to deliver the afore-mentioned communication from the governor."
["Oceans of sorrow..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 228
 
By the following day the Deputy-Governor had delivered to Bahá'u'lláh in a mosque, in the neighborhood of the governor's house, 'Alí Páshá's letter, addressed to Námiq Páshá, couched in courteous language, inviting Bahá'u'lláh to proceed, as a guest of the Ottoman government, to Constantinople, placing a sum of money at His disposal, and ordering a mounted escort to accompany Him for His protection. To this request Bahá'u'lláh gave His ready assent, but declined to accept the sum offered Him. On the urgent representations of the Deputy that such a refusal would offend the authorities, He reluctantly consented to receive the generous allowance set aside for His use, and distributed it, that same day, among the poor.  
148

The effect upon the colony of exiles of this sudden intelligence was instantaneous and overwhelming. "That day," wrote an eyewitness, describing the reaction of the community to the news of Bahá'u'lláh's approaching departure, "witnessed a commotion associated with the turmoil of the Day of Resurrection. Methinks, the very gates and walls of the city wept aloud at their imminent separation from the Abhá Beloved. The first night mention was made of His intended departure His loved ones, one and all, renounced both sleep and food.… Not a soul amongst them could be tranquillized. Many had resolved that in the event of their being deprived of the bounty of accompanying Him, they would, without hesitation, kill themselves.… Gradually, however, through the words which He addressed them, and through His exhortations and His loving-kindness, they were calmed and resigned themselves to His good-pleasure." For every one of them, whether Arab or Persian, man or woman, child or adult, who lived in Baghdád, He revealed during those days, in His own hand, a separate Tablet. In most of these Tablets He predicted the appearance of the "Calf" and of the "Birds of the Night," allusions to those who, as anticipated in the Tablet of the Holy Mariner, and foreshadowed in the dream quoted above, were to raise the standard of rebellion and precipitate the gravest crisis in the history of the Faith.
[Tablet of the Holy Mariner] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 228

 
Twenty-seven days after that mournful Tablet had been so unexpectedly revealed by Bahá'u'lláh, and the fateful communication, presaging His departure to Constantinople had been delivered into His hands, on a Wednesday afternoon (April 22, 1863), thirty-one days after Naw-Rúz, on the third of Dhi'l-Qa'dih, 1279 A.H., He set forth on the first stage of His four months' journey to the capital of the Ottoman Empire. That historic day, forever after designated as the first day of the Ridván Festival, the culmination of innumerable farewell visits which friends and acquaintances of every class and denomination, had been paying him, was one the like of which the inhabitants of Baghdád had rarely beheld. A concourse of people of both sexes and of every age, comprising friends and strangers Arabs, Kurds and Persians, notables and clerics, officials and merchants, as well as many of the lower classes, the poor, the orphaned, the outcast, some surprised, others heartbroken, many tearful and apprehensive, a few impelled by curiosity or secret satisfaction, thronged the approaches of His house, eager to catch a final glimpse of One Who, for a decade, had, through precept and example, exercised so potent an influence on so large a number of the heterogeneous inhabitants of their city.  
149

Leaving for the last time, amidst weeping and lamentation, His "Most Holy Habitation," out of which had "gone forth the breath of the All-Glorious," and from which had poured forth, in "ceaseless strains," the "melody of the All-Merciful," and dispensing on His way with a lavish hand a last alms to the poor He had so faithfully befriended, and uttering words of comfort to the disconsolate who besought Him on every side, He, at length, reached the banks of the river, and was ferried across, accompanied by His sons and amanuensis, to the Najíbíyyih Garden, situated on the opposite shore. "O My companions," He thus addressed the faithful band that surrounded Him before He embarked, "I entrust to your keeping this city of Baghdád, in the state ye now behold it, when from the eyes of friends and strangers alike, crowding its housetops, its streets and markets, tears like the rain of spring are flowing down, and I depart. With you it now rests to watch lest your deeds and conduct dim the flame of love that gloweth within the breasts of its inhabitants."
["O My companions..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 261
 
The muezzin had just raised the afternoon call to prayer when Bahá'u'lláh entered the Najíbíyyih Garden, where He tarried twelve days before His final departure from the city. There His friends and companions, arriving in successive waves, attained His presence and bade Him, with feelings of profound sorrow, their last farewell. Outstanding among them was the renowned Álúsí, the Muftí of Baghdád, who, with eyes dimmed with tears, execrated the name of Násiri'd-Dín Sháh, whom he deemed to be primarily responsible for so unmerited a banishment. "I have ceased to regard him," he openly asserted, "as Násiri'd-Dín (the helper of the Faith), but consider him rather to be its wrecker." Another distinguished visitor was the governor himself, Námiq Páshá, who, after expressing in the most respectful terms his regret at the developments which had precipitated Bahá'u'lláh's departure, and assuring Him of his readiness to aid Him in any way he could, handed to the officer appointed to accompany Him a written order, commanding the governors of the provinces through which the exiles would be passing to extend to them the utmost consideration. "Whatever you require," he, after profuse apologies, informed Bahá'u'lláh, "you have but to command. We are ready to carry it out." "Extend thy consideration to Our loved ones," was the reply to his insistent and reiterated offers, "and deal with them with kindness"—a request to which he gave his warm and unhesitating assent.  
150

Small wonder that, in the face of so many evidences of deep-seated devotion, sympathy and esteem, so strikingly manifested by high and low alike, from the time Bahá'u'lláh announced His contemplated journey to the day of His departure from the Najíbíyyih Garden—small wonder that those who had so tirelessly sought to secure the order for His banishment, and had rejoiced at the success of their efforts, should now have bitterly regretted their act. "Such hath been the interposition of God," 'Abdu'l-Bahá, in a letter written by Him from that garden, with reference to these enemies, affirms, "that the joy evinced by them hath been turned to chagrin and sorrow, so much so that the Persian consul-general in Baghdád regrets exceedingly the plans and plots the schemers had devised. Námiq Páshá himself, on the day he called on Him (Bahá'u'lláh) stated: 'Formerly they insisted upon your departure. Now, however, they are even more insistent that you should remain.'"    

CHAPTER IX

The Declaration of Bahá'u'lláh's Mission and His Journey to Constantinople

 
151

The arrival of Bahá'u'lláh in the Najíbíyyih Garden, subsequently designated by His followers the Garden of Ridván, signalizes the commencement of what has come to be recognized as the holiest and most significant of all Bahá'í festivals, the festival commemorating the Declaration of His Mission to His companions. So momentous a Declaration may well be regarded both as the logical consummation of that revolutionizing process which was initiated by Himself upon His return from Sulaymáníyyih, and as a prelude to the final proclamation of that same Mission to the world and its rulers from Adrianople.    
Through that solemn act the "delay," of no less than a decade, divinely interposed between the birth of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation in the Síyáh-Chál and its announcement to the Báb's disciples, was at long last terminated. The "set time of concealment," during which as He Himself has borne witness, the "signs and tokens of a divinely-appointed Revelation" were being showered upon Him, was fulfilled. The "myriad veils of light," within which His glory had been wrapped, were, at that historic hour, partially lifted, vouchsafing to mankind "an infinitesimal glimmer" of the effulgence of His "peerless, His most sacred and exalted Countenance." The "thousand two hundred and ninety days," fixed by Daniel in the last chapter of His Book, as the duration of the "abomination that maketh desolate" had now elapsed. The "hundred lunar years," destined to immediately precede that blissful consummation (1335 days), announced by Daniel in that same chapter, had commenced. The nineteen years, constituting the first "Váhid," preordained in the Persian Bayán by the pen of the Báb, had been completed. The Lord of the Kingdom, Jesus Christ returned in the glory of the Father, was about to ascend His throne, and assume the sceptre of a world-embracing, indestructible sovereignty. The community of the Most Great Name, the "companions of the Crimson Colored Ark," lauded in glowing terms in the Qayyúmu'l-Asmá', had visibly emerged. The Báb's own prophecy regarding the "Ridván," the scene of the unveiling of Bahá'u'lláh's transcendent glory, had been literally fulfilled.
["myriad veils of light..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 277; vol. 2, p. 66

["the companions of the Crimson Ark"] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 4, p. 318

[Qayyúmu'l-Asmá] The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 165, 216; The Kitáb-i-Íqán, p. 231 ; The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh vol. 1 Index, vol. 2 p. 179, 303, vol. 4 Index

 
Undaunted by the prospect of the appalling adversities which, as predicted by Himself, were soon to overtake Him; on the eve of a second banishment which would be fraught with many hazards and perils, and would bring Him still farther from His native land, the cradle of His Faith, to a country alien in race, in language and in culture; acutely conscious of the extension of the circle of His adversaries, among whom were soon to be numbered a monarch more despotic than Násiri'd-Dín Sháh, and ministers no less unyielding in their hostility than either Hájí Mírzá Áqásí or the Amír-Nizám; undeterred by the perpetual interruptions occasioned by the influx of a host of visitors who thronged His tent, Bahá'u'lláh chose in that critical and seemingly unpropitious hour to advance so challenging a claim, to lay bare the mystery surrounding His person, and to assume, in their plenitude, the power and the authority which were the exclusive privileges of the One Whose advent the Báb had prophesied.  
152

Already the shadow of that great oncoming event had fallen upon the colony of exiles, who awaited expectantly its consummation. As the year "eighty" steadily and inexorably approached, He Who had become the real leader of that community increasingly experienced, and progressively communicated to His future followers, the onrushing influences of its informing force. The festive, the soul-entrancing odes which He revealed almost every day; the Tablets, replete with hints, which streamed from His pen; the allusions which, in private converse and public discourse, He made to the approaching hour; the exaltation which in moments of joy and sadness alike flooded His soul; the ecstasy which filled His lovers, already enraptured by the multiplying evidences of His rising greatness and glory; the perceptible change noted in His demeanor; and finally, His adoption of the táj (tall felt head-dress), on the day of His departure from His Most Holy House—all proclaimed unmistakably His imminent assumption of the prophetic office and of His open leadership of the community of the Báb's followers.    
"Many a night," writes Nabíl, depicting the tumult that had seized the hearts of Bahá'u'lláh's companions, in the days prior to the declaration of His mission, "would Mírzá Áqá Ján gather them together in his room, close the door, light numerous camphorated candles, and chant aloud to them the newly revealed odes and Tablets in his possession. Wholly oblivious of this contingent world, completely immersed in the realms of the spirit, forgetful of the necessity for food, sleep or drink, they would suddenly discover that night had become day, and that the sun was approaching its zenith."  
153

Of the exact circumstances attending that epoch-making Declaration we, alas, are but scantily informed. The words Bahá'u'lláh actually uttered on that occasion, the manner of His Declaration, the reaction it produced, its impact on Mírzá Yahyá, the identity of those who were privileged to hear Him, are shrouded in an obscurity which future historians will find it difficult to penetrate. The fragmentary description left to posterity by His chronicler Nabíl is one of the very few authentic records we possess of the memorable days He spent in that garden. "Every day," Nabíl has related, "ere the hour of dawn, the gardeners would pick the roses which lined the four avenues of the garden, and would pile them in the center of the floor of His blessed tent. So great would be the heap that when His companions gathered to drink their morning tea in His presence, they would be unable to see each other across it. All these roses Bahá'u'lláh would, with His own hands, entrust to those whom He dismissed from His presence every morning to be delivered, on His behalf, to His Arab and Persian friends in the city." "One night," he continues, "the ninth night of the waxing moon, I happened to be one of those who watched beside His blessed tent. As the hour of midnight approached, I saw Him issue from His tent, pass by the places where some of His companions were sleeping, and begin to pace up and down the moonlit, flower-bordered avenues of the garden. So loud was the singing of the nightingales on every side that only those who were near Him could hear distinctly His voice. He continued to walk until, pausing in the midst of one of these avenues, He observed: 'Consider these nightingales. So great is their love for these roses, that sleepless from dusk till dawn, they warble their melodies and commune with burning passion with the object of their adoration. How then can those who claim to be afire with the rose-like beauty of the Beloved choose to sleep?' For three successive nights I watched and circled round His blessed tent. Every time I passed by the couch whereon He lay, I would find Him wakeful, and every day, from morn till eventide, I would see Him ceaselessly engaged in conversing with the stream of visitors who kept flowing in from Baghdád. Not once could I discover in the words He spoke any trace of dissimulation."
["Every day,..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 275
 
As to the significance of that Declaration let Bahá'u'lláh Himself reveal to us its import. Acclaiming that historic occasion as the "Most Great Festival," the "King of Festivals," the "Festival of God," He has, in His Kitáb-i-Aqdas, characterized it as the Day whereon "all created things were immersed in the sea of purification," whilst in one of His specific Tablets, He has referred to it as the Day whereon "the breezes of forgiveness were wafted over the entire creation." "Rejoice, with exceeding gladness, O people of Bahá!", He, in another Tablet, has written, "as ye call to remembrance the Day of supreme felicity, the Day whereon the Tongue of the Ancient of Days hath spoken, as He departed from His House proceeding to the Spot from which He shed upon the whole of creation the splendors of His Name, the All-Merciful … Were We to reveal the hidden secrets of that Day, all that dwell on earth and in the heavens would swoon away and die, except such as will be preserved by God, the Almighty, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. Such is the inebriating effect of the words of God upon the Revealer of His undoubted proofs that His pen can move no longer." And again: "The Divine Springtime is come, O Most Exalted Pen, for the Festival of the All-Merciful is fast approaching.… The Day-Star of Blissfulness shineth above the horizon of Our Name, the Blissful, inasmuch as the Kingdom of the Name of God hath been adorned with the ornament of the Name of Thy Lord, the Creator of the heavens.… Take heed lest anything deter Thee from extolling the greatness of this Day—the Day whereon the Finger of Majesty and Power hath opened the seal of the Wine of Reunion, and called all who are in the heavens and all who are on earth.… This is the Day whereon the unseen world crieth out: 'Great is thy blessedness, O earth, for thou hast been made the footstool of thy God, and been chosen as the seat of His mighty throne' … Say … He it is Who hath laid bare before you the hidden and treasured Gem, were ye to seek it. He it is who is the One Beloved of all things, whether of the past or of the future." And yet again: "Arise, and proclaim unto the entire creation the tidings that He who is the All-Merciful hath directed His steps towards the Ridván and entered it. Guide, then, the people unto the Garden of Delight which God hath made the Throne of His Paradise … Within this Paradise, and from the heights of its loftiest chambers, the Maids of Heaven have cried out and shouted: 'Rejoice, ye dwellers of the realms above, for the fingers of Him Who is the Ancient of Days are ringing, in the name of the All-Glorious, the Most Great Bell, in the midmost heart of the heavens. The hands of bounty have borne round the cups of everlasting life. Approach, and quaff your fill.'" And finally: "Forget the world of creation, O Pen, and turn Thou towards the face of Thy Lord, the Lord of all names. Adorn, then, the world with the ornament of the favors of Thy Lord, the King of everlasting days. For We perceive the fragrance of the Day whereon He Who is the Desire of all nations hath shed upon the kingdoms of the unseen and of the seen the splendors of the light of His most excellent names, and enveloped them with the radiance of the luminaries of His most gracious favors, favors which none can reckon except Him Who is the Omnipotent Protector of the entire creation."
[Ridván] The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶75; The Kitáb-i-Íqán; Prayers and Meditations, p. 6; Gleanings From The Writings Of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 31; The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, 2, 3, 4

["Day of supreme felicity..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 262

154
155
The departure of Bahá'u'lláh from the Garden of Ridván, at noon, on the 14th of Dhi'l-Qa'dih 1279 A.H. (May 3, 1863), witnessed scenes of tumultuous enthusiasm no less spectacular, and even more touching, than those which greeted Him when leaving His Most Great House in Baghdád. "The great tumult," wrote an eyewitness, "associated in our minds with the Day of Gathering, the Day of Judgment, we beheld on that occasion. Believers and unbelievers alike sobbed and lamented. The chiefs and notables who had congregated were struck with wonder. Emotions were stirred to such depths as no tongue can describe, nor could any observer escape their contagion."
["The departure of Bahá'u'lláh..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 281
 
Mounted on His steed, a red roan stallion of the finest breed, the best His lovers could purchase for Him, and leaving behind Him a bowing multitude of fervent admirers, He rode forth on the first stage of a journey that was to carry Him to the city of Constantinople. "Numerous were the heads," Nabíl himself a witness of that memorable scene, recounts, "which, on every side, bowed to the dust at the feet of His horse, and kissed its hoofs, and countless were those who pressed forward to embrace His stirrups." "How great the number of those embodiments of fidelity," testifies a fellow-traveler, "who, casting themselves before that charger, preferred death to separation from their Beloved! Methinks, that blessed steed trod upon the bodies of those pure-hearted souls." "He (God) it was," Bahá'u'lláh Himself declares, "Who enabled Me to depart out of the city (Baghdád), clothed with such majesty as none, except the denier and the malicious, can fail to acknowledge." These marks of homage and devotion continued to surround Him until He was installed in Constantinople. Mírzá Yahyá, while hurrying on foot, by his own choice, behind Bahá'u'lláh's carriage, on the day of His arrival in that city, was overheard by Nabíl to remark to Siyyid Muhammad: "Had I not chosen to hide myself, had I revealed my identity, the honor accorded Him (Bahá'u'lláh) on this day would have been mine too."
["Mounted on His steed..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 281
 
The same tokens of devotion shown Bahá'u'lláh at the time of His departure from His House, and later from the Garden of Ridván, were repeated when, on the 20th of Dhi'l-Qa'dih (May 9, 1863), accompanied by members of His family and twenty-six of His disciples, He left Firayját, His first stopping-place in the course of that journey. A caravan, consisting of fifty mules, a mounted guard of ten soldiers with their officer, and seven pairs of howdahs, each pair surmounted by four parasols, was formed, and wended its way, by easy stages, and in the space of no less than a hundred and ten days, across the uplands, and through the defiles, the woods, valleys and pastures, comprising the picturesque scenery of eastern Anatolia, to the port of Sámsún, on the Black Sea. At times on horseback, at times resting in the howdah reserved for His use, and which was oftentimes surrounded by His companions, most of whom were on foot, He, by virtue of the written order of Námiq Páshá, was accorded, as He traveled northward, in the path of spring, an enthusiastic reception by the válís, the mutisarrifs, the qá'im-maqáms, the mudírs, the shaykhs, the muftís and qadís, the government officials and notables belonging to the districts through which He passed. In Karkúk, in Irbíl, in Mosul, where He tarried three days, in Nísíbín, in Márdín, in Díyár-Bakr, where a halt of a couple of days was made, in Khárpút, in Sívas, as well as in other villages and hamlets, He would be met by a delegation immediately before His arrival, and would be accompanied, for some distance, by a similar delegation upon His departure. The festivities which, at some stations, were held in His honor, the food the villagers prepared and brought for His acceptance, the eagerness which time and again they exhibited in providing the means for His comfort, recalled the reverence which the people of Baghdád had shown Him on so many occasions.
["A caravan,..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 284
156

"As we passed that morning through the town of Márdín," that same fellow-traveler relates, "we were preceded by a mounted escort of government soldiers, carrying their banners, and beating their drums in welcome. The mutisarrif, together with officials and notables, accompanied us, while men, women and children, crowding the housetops and filling the streets, awaited our arrival. With dignity and pomp we traversed that town, and resumed our journey, the mutisarrif and those with him escorting us for a considerable distance." "According to the unanimous testimony of those we met in the course of that journey," Nabíl has recorded in his narrative, "never before had they witnessed along this route, over which governors and mushírs continually passed back and forth between Constantinople and Baghdád, any one travel in such state, dispense such hospitality to all, and accord to each so great a share of his bounty." Sighting from His howdah the Black Sea, as He approached the port of Sámsún, Bahá'u'lláh, at the request of Mírzá Áqá Ján, revealed a Tablet, designated Lawh-i-Hawdaj (Tablet of the Howdah), which by such allusions as the "Divine Touchstone," "the grievous and tormenting Mischief," reaffirmed and supplemented the dire predictions recorded in the recently revealed Tablet of the Holy Mariner.
[Tablet of the Holy Mariner] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 228

157

In Sámsún the Chief Inspector of the entire province, extending from Baghdád to Constantinople, accompanied by several páshás, called on Him, showed Him the utmost respect, and was entertained by Him at luncheon. But seven days after His arrival, He, as foreshadowed in the Tablet of the Holy Mariner, was put on board a Turkish steamer and three days later was disembarked, at noon, together with His fellow-exiles, at the port of Constantinople, on the first of Rabí'u'l-Avval 1280 A.H. (August 16, 1863). In two special carriages, which awaited Him at the landing-stage He and His family drove to the house of Shamsí Big, the official who had been appointed by the government to entertain its guests, and who lived in the vicinity of the Khirqiy-i-Sharíf mosque. Later they were transferred to the more commodious house of Vísí Páshá, in the neighborhood of the mosque of Sultán Muhammad.
["In Sámsún..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 292

[Tablet of the Holy Mariner] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 228

 
With the arrival of Bahá'u'lláh at Constantinople, the capital of the Ottoman Empire and seat of the Caliphate (acclaimed by the Muhammadans as "the Dome of Islam," but stigmatized by Him as the spot whereon the "throne of tyranny" had been established) the grimmest and most calamitous and yet the most glorious chapter in the history of the first Bahá'í century may be said to have opened. A period in which untold privations and unprecedented trials were mingled with the noblest spiritual triumphs was now commencing. The day-star of Bahá'u'lláh's ministry was about to reach its zenith. The most momentous years of the Heroic Age of His Dispensation were at hand. The catastrophic process, foreshadowed as far back as the year sixty by His Forerunner in the Qayyúmu'l-Asmá', was beginning to be set in motion.
["With the arrival of Bahá'u'lláh..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 292

[Qayyúmu'l-Asmá] The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 165, 216; The Kitáb-i-Íqán, p. 231 ; The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh vol. 1 Index, vol. 2 p. 179, 303, vol. 4 Index

 
Exactly two decades earlier the Bábí Revelation had been born in darkest Persia, in the city of Shíráz. Despite the cruel captivity to which its Author had been subjected, the stupendous claims He had voiced had been proclaimed by Him before a distinguished assemblage in Tabríz, the capital of Ádhirbáyján. In the hamlet of Badasht the Dispensation which His Faith had ushered in had been fearlessly inaugurated by the champions of His Cause. In the midst of the hopelessness and agony of the Síyáh-Chál of Tihrán, nine years later, that Revelation had, swiftly and mysteriously been brought to sudden fruition. The process of rapid deterioration in the fortunes of that Faith, which had gradually set in, and was alarmingly accelerated during the years of Bahá'u'lláh's withdrawal to Kurdistán, had, in a masterly fashion after His return from Sulaymáníyyih, been arrested and reversed. The ethical, the moral and doctrinal foundations of a nascent community had been subsequently, in the course of His sojourn in Baghdád, unassailably established. And finally, in the Garden of Ridván, on the eve of His banishment to Constantinople, the ten-year delay, ordained by an inscrutable Providence, had been terminated through the Declaration of His Mission and the visible emergence of what was to become the nucleus of a world-embracing Fellowship. What now remained to be achieved was the proclamation, in the city of Adrianople, of that same Mission to the world's secular and ecclesiastical leaders, to be followed, in successive decades, by a further unfoldment, in the prison-fortress of 'Akká, of the principles and precepts constituting the bedrock of that Faith, by the formulation of the laws and ordinances designed to safeguard its integrity, by the establishment, immediately after His ascension, of the Covenant designed to preserve its unity and perpetuate its influence, by the prodigious and world-wide extension of its activities, under the guidance of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, the Center of that Covenant, and lastly, by the rise, in the Formative Age of that Faith, of its Administrative Order, the harbinger of its Golden Age and future glory.
["Exactly two decades..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 293
158

This historic Proclamation was made at a time when the Faith was in the throes of a crisis of extreme violence, and it was in the main addressed to the kings of the earth, and to the Christian and Muslim ecclesiastical leaders who, by virtue of their immense prestige, ascendancy and authority, assumed an appalling and inescapable responsibility for the immediate destinies of their subjects and followers.    
The initial phase of that Proclamation may be said to have opened in Constantinople with the communication (the text of which we, alas, do not possess) addressed by Bahá'u'lláh to Sultán 'Abdu'l-'Azíz himself, the self-styled vicar of the Prophet of Islám and the absolute ruler of a mighty empire. So potent, so august a personage was the first among the sovereigns of the world to receive the Divine Summons, and the first among Oriental monarchs to sustain the impact of God's retributive justice. The occasion for this communication was provided by the infamous edict the Sultán had promulgated, less than four months after the arrival of the exiles in his capital, banishing them, suddenly and without any justification whatsoever, in the depth of winter, and in the most humiliating circumstances, to Adrianople, situated on the extremities of his empire.  
159

That fateful and ignominious decision, arrived at by the Sultán and his chief ministers, 'Alí Páshá and Fu'ád Páshá, was in no small degree attributable to the persistent intrigues of the Mushíru'd-Dawlih, Mírzá Husayn Khán, the Persian Ambassador to the Sublime Porte, denounced by Bahá'u'lláh as His "calumniator," who awaited the first opportunity to strike at Him and the Cause of which He was now the avowed and recognized leader. This Ambassador was pressed continually by his government to persist in the policy of arousing against Bahá'u'lláh the hostility of the Turkish authorities. He was encouraged by the refusal of Bahá'u'lláh to follow the invariable practice of government guests, however highly placed, of calling in person, upon their arrival at the capital, on the Shaykhu'l-Islám, on the Sadr-i-A'zam, and on the Foreign Minister—Bahá'u'lláh did not even return the calls paid Him by several ministers, by Kamál Páshá and by a former Turkish envoy to the court of Persia. He was not deterred by Bahá'u'lláh's upright and independent attitude which contrasted so sharply with the mercenariness of the Persian princes who were wont, on their arrival, to "solicit at every door such allowances and gifts as they might obtain." He resented Bahá'u'lláh's unwillingness to present Himself at the Persian Embassy, and to repay the visit of its representative; and, being seconded, in his efforts, by his accomplice, Hájí Mírzá Hasan-i-Safá, whom he instructed to circulate unfounded reports about Him, he succeeded through his official influence, as well as through his private intercourse with ecclesiastics, notables and government officials, in representing Bahá'u'lláh as a proud and arrogant person, Who regarded Himself as subject to no law, Who entertained designs inimical to all established authority, and Whose forwardness had precipitated the grave differences that had arisen between Himself and the Persian Government. Nor was he the only one who indulged in these nefarious schemes. Others, according to 'Abdu'l-Bahá, "condemned and vilified" the exiles, as "a mischief to all the world," as "destructive of treaties and covenants," as "baleful to all lands" and as "deserving of every chastisement and punishment."
[Mírzá Husayn Khán] Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 68
 
No less a personage than the highly-respected brother-in-law of the Sadr-i-A'zam was commissioned to apprize the Captive of the edict pronounced against Him—an edict which evinced a virtual coalition of the Turkish and Persian imperial governments against a common adversary, and which in the end brought such tragic consequences upon the Sultanate, the Caliphate and the Qájár dynasty. Refused an audience by Bahá'u'lláh that envoy had to content himself with a presentation of his puerile observations and trivial arguments to 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Áqáy-i-Kalím, who were delegated to see him, and whom he informed that, after three days, he would return to receive the answer to the order he had been bidden to transmit.
["No less a personage..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 57
160

That same day a Tablet, severely condemnatory in tone, was revealed by Bahá'u'lláh, was entrusted by Him, in a sealed envelope, on the following morning, to Shamsí Big, who was instructed to deliver it into the hands of 'Alí Páshá, and to say that it was sent down from God. "I know not what that letter contained," Shamsí Big subsequently informed Áqáy-i-Kalím, "for no sooner had the Grand Vizir perused it than he turned the color of a corpse, and remarked: 'It is as if the King of Kings were issuing his behest to his humblest vassal king and regulating his conduct.' So grievous was his condition that I backed out of his presence." "Whatever action," Bahá'u'lláh, commenting on the effect that Tablet had produced, is reported to have stated, "the ministers of the Sultán took against Us, after having become acquainted with its contents, cannot be regarded as unjustifiable. The acts they committed before its perusal, however, can have no justification."
["That same day..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 58
 
That Tablet, according to Nabíl, was of considerable length, opened with words directed to the sovereign himself, severely censured his ministers, exposed their immaturity and incompetence, and included passages in which the ministers themselves were addressed, in which they were boldly challenged, and sternly admonished not to pride themselves on their worldly possessions, nor foolishly seek the riches of which time would inexorably rob them.
["That Tablet..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 58
 
Bahá'u'lláh was on the eve of His departure, which followed almost immediately upon the promulgation of the edict of His banishment, when, in a last and memorable interview with the aforementioned Hájí Mírzá Hasan-i-Safá, He sent the following message to the Persian Ambassador: "What did it profit thee, and such as are like thee, to slay, year after year, so many of the oppressed, and to inflict upon them manifold afflictions, when they have increased a hundredfold, and ye find yourselves in complete bewilderment, knowing not how to relieve your minds of this oppressive thought.… His Cause transcends any and every plan ye devise. Know this much: Were all the governments on earth to unite and take My life and the lives of all who bear this Name, this Divine Fire would never be quenched. His Cause will rather encompass all the kings of the earth, nay all that hath been created from water and clay.… Whatever may yet befall Us, great shall be our gain, and manifest the loss wherewith they shall be afflicted."
["Bahá'u'lláh was on the eve..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 58
161

Pursuant to the peremptory orders issued for the immediate departure of the already twice banished exiles, Bahá'u'lláh, His family, and His companions, some riding in wagons, others mounted on pack animals, with their belongings piled in carts drawn by oxen, set out, accompanied by Turkish officers, on a cold December morning, amidst the weeping of the friends they were leaving behind, on their twelve-day journey, across a bleak and windswept country, to a city characterized by Bahá'u'lláh as "the place which none entereth except such as have rebelled against the authority of the sovereign." "They expelled Us," is His own testimony in the Súriy-i-Mulúk, "from thy city (Constantinople) with an abasement with which no abasement on earth can compare." "Neither My family, nor those who accompanied Me," He further states, "had the necessary raiment to protect them from the cold in that freezing weather." And again: "The eyes of Our enemies wept over Us, and beyond them those of every discerning person." "A banishment," laments Nabíl, "endured with such meekness that the pen sheddeth tears when recounting it, and the page is ashamed to bear its description." "A cold of such intensity," that same chronicler records, "prevailed that year, that nonagenarians could not recall its like. In some regions, in both Turkey and Persia, animals succumbed to its severity and perished in the snows. The upper reaches of the Euphrates, in Ma'dan-Nuqrih, were covered with ice for several days—an unprecedented phenomenon—while in Díyár-Bakr the river froze over for no less than forty days." "To obtain water from the springs," one of the exiles of Adrianople recounts, "a great fire had to be lighted in their immediate neighborhood, and kept burning for a couple of hours before they thawed out."
["with an abasement..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 62

[Súriy-i-Mulúk] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 301

 
Traveling through rain and storm, at times even making night marches, the weary travelers, after brief halts at Kúchik-Chakmachih, Búyúk-Chakmachih, Salvarí, Birkás, and Bábá-Ískí, arrived at their destination, on the first of Rajab 1280 A.H. (December 12, 1863), and were lodged in the Khán-i-'Arab, a two-story caravanserai, near the house of 'Izzat-Áqá. Three days later, Bahá'u'lláh and His family were consigned to a house suitable only for summer habitation, in the Murádíyyih quarter, near the Takyiy-i-Mawlaví, and were moved again, after a week, to another house, in the vicinity of a mosque in that same neighborhood. About six months later they transferred to more commodious quarters, known as the house of Amru'lláh (House of God's command) situated on the northern side of the mosque of Sultán Salím.
["Travelling through rain..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 62
162

Thus closes the opening scene of one of the most dramatic episodes in the ministry of Bahá'u'lláh. The curtain now rises on what is admittedly the most turbulent and critical period of the first Bahá'í century—a period that was destined to precede the most glorious phase of that ministry, the proclamation of His Message to the world and its rulers.    

CHAPTER X

The Rebellion of Mírzá Yahyá and the Proclamation of Bahá'u'lláh's Mission in Adrianople


[Mírzá Yahyá] The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶184; The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 3 p. 373, also vol. 1, 2, 3, 4
163

A twenty-year-old Faith had just begun to recover from a series of successive blows when a crisis of the first magnitude overtook it and shook it to its roots. Neither the tragic martyrdom of the Báb nor the ignominious attempt on the life of the sovereign, nor its bloody aftermath, nor Bahá'u'lláh's humiliating banishment from His native land, nor even His two-year withdrawal to Kurdistán, devastating though they were in their consequences, could compare in gravity with this first major internal convulsion which seized a newly rearisen community, and which threatened to cause an irreparable breach in the ranks of its members. More odious than the unrelenting hostility which Abú-Jahl, the uncle of Muhammad, had exhibited, more shameful than the betrayal of Jesus Christ by His disciple, Judas Iscariot, more perfidious than the conduct of the sons of Jacob towards Joseph their brother, more abhorrent than the deed committed by one of the sons of Noah, more infamous than even the criminal act perpetrated by Cain against Abel, the monstrous behavior of Mírzá Yahyá, one of the half-brothers of Bahá'u'lláh, the nominee of the Báb, and recognized chief of the Bábí community, brought in its wake a period of travail which left its mark on the fortunes of the Faith for no less than half a century. This supreme crisis Bahá'u'lláh Himself designated as the Ayyám-i-Shidád (Days of Stress), during which "the most grievous veil" was torn asunder, and the "most great separation" was irrevocably effected. It immensely gratified and emboldened its external enemies, both civil and ecclesiastical, played into their hands, and evoked their unconcealed derision. It perplexed and confused the friends and supporters of Bahá'u'lláh, and seriously damaged the prestige of the Faith in the eyes of its western admirers. It had been brewing ever since the early days of Bahá'u'lláh's sojourn in Baghdád, was temporarily suppressed by the creative forces which, under His as yet unproclaimed leadership, reanimated a disintegrating community, and finally broke out, in all its violence, in the years immediately preceding the proclamation of His Message. It brought incalculable sorrow to Bahá'u'lláh, visibly aged Him, and inflicted, through its repercussions, the heaviest blow ever sustained by Him in His lifetime. It was engineered throughout by the tortuous intrigues and incessant machinations of that same diabolical Siyyid Muhammad, that vile whisperer who, disregarding Bahá'u'lláh's advice, had insisted on accompanying Him to Constantinople and Adrianople, and was now redoubling his efforts, with unrelaxing vigilance, to bring it to a head.  
164

Mírzá Yahyá had, ever since the return of Bahá'u'lláh from Sulaymáníyyih, either chosen to maintain himself in an inglorious seclusion in his own house, or had withdrawn, whenever danger threatened, to such places of safety as Hillih and Basra. To the latter town he had fled, disguised as a Baghdád Jew, and become a shoe merchant. So great was his terror that he is reported to have said on one occasion: "Whoever claims to have seen me, or to have heard my voice, I pronounce an infidel." On being informed of Bahá'u'lláh's impending departure for Constantinople, he at first hid himself in the garden of Huvaydar, in the vicinity of Baghdád, meditating meanwhile on the advisability of fleeing either to Abyssinia, India or some other country. Refusing to heed Bahá'u'lláh's advice to proceed to Persia, and there disseminate the writings of the Báb, he sent a certain Hájí Muhammad Kázim, who resembled him, to the government-house to procure for him a passport in the name of Mírzá 'Alíy-i-Kirmánsháhí, and left Baghdád, abandoning the writings there, and proceeded in disguise, accompanied by an Arab Bábí, named Záhir, to Mosul, where he joined the exiles who were on their way to Constantinople.    
A constant witness of the ever deepening attachment of the exiles to Bahá'u'lláh and of their amazing veneration for Him; fully aware of the heights to which his Brother's popularity had risen in Baghdád, in the course of His journey to Constantinople, and later through His association with the notables and governors of Adrianople; incensed by the manifold evidences of the courage, the dignity, and independence which that Brother had demonstrated in His dealings with the authorities in the capital; provoked by the numerous Tablets which the Author of a newly-established Dispensation had been ceaselessly revealing; allowing himself to be duped by the enticing prospects of unfettered leadership held out to him by Siyyid Muhammad, the Antichrist of the Bahá'í Revelation, even as Muhammad Sháh had been misled by the Antichrist of the Bábí Revelation, Hájí Mírzá Áqásí; refusing to be admonished by prominent members of the community who advised him, in writing, to exercise wisdom and restraint; forgetful of the kindness and counsels of Bahá'u'lláh, who, thirteen years his senior, had watched over his early youth and manhood; emboldened by the sin-covering eye of his Brother, Who, on so many occasions, had drawn a veil over his many crimes and follies, this arch-breaker of the Covenant of the Báb, spurred on by his mounting jealousy and impelled by his passionate love of leadership, was driven to perpetrate such acts as defied either concealment or toleration.
The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶184
165

Irremediably corrupted through his constant association with Siyyid Muhammad, that living embodiment of wickedness, cupidity and deceit, he had already in the absence of Bahá'u'lláh from Baghdád, and even after His return from Sulaymáníyyih, stained the annals of the Faith with acts of indelible infamy. His corruption, in scores of instances, of the text of the Báb's writings; the blasphemous addition he made to the formula of the adhán by the introduction of a passage in which he identified himself with the Godhead; his insertion of references in those writings to a succession in which he nominated himself and his descendants as heirs of the Báb; the vacillation and apathy he had betrayed when informed of the tragic death which his Master had suffered; his condemnation to death of all the Mirrors of the Bábí Dispensation, though he himself was one of those Mirrors; his dastardly act in causing the murder of Dayyán, whom he feared and envied; his foul deed in bringing about, during the absence of Bahá'u'lláh from Baghdád, the assassination of Mírzá 'Alí-Akbar, the Báb's cousin; and, most heinous of all, his unspeakably repugnant violation, during that same period, of the honor of the Báb Himself—all these, as attested by Áqáy-i-Kalím, and reported by Nabíl in his Narrative, were to be thrown into a yet more lurid light by further acts the perpetration of which were to seal irretrievably his doom.    
Desperate designs to poison Bahá'u'lláh and His companions, and thereby reanimate his own defunct leadership, began, approximately a year after their arrival in Adrianople, to agitate his mind. Well aware of the erudition of his half-brother, Áqáy-i-Kalím, in matters pertaining to medicine, he, under various pretexts, sought enlightenment from him regarding the effects of certain herbs and poisons, and then began, contrary to his wont, to invite Bahá'u'lláh to his home, where, one day, having smeared His tea-cup with a substance he had concocted, he succeeded in poisoning Him sufficiently to produce a serious illness which lasted no less than a month, and which was accompanied by severe pains and high fever, the aftermath of which left Bahá'u'lláh with a shaking hand till the end of His life. So grave was His condition that a foreign doctor, named Shíshmán, was called in to attend Him. The doctor was so appalled by His livid hue that he deemed His case hopeless, and, after having fallen at His feet, retired from His presence without prescribing a remedy. A few days later that doctor fell ill and died. Prior to his death Bahá'u'lláh had intimated that doctor Shíshmán had sacrificed his life for Him. To Mírzá Áqá Ján, sent by Bahá'u'lláh to visit him, the doctor had stated that God had answered his prayers, and that after his death a certain Dr. Chúpán, whom he knew to be reliable, should, whenever necessary, be called in his stead.
["Desperate designs..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 153
166

On another occasion this same Mírzá Yahyá had, according to the testimony of one of his wives, who had temporarily deserted him and revealed the details of the above-mentioned act, poisoned the well which provided water for the family and companions of Bahá'u'lláh, in consequence of which the exiles manifested strange symptoms of illness. He even had, gradually and with great circumspection, disclosed to one of the companions, Ustád Muhammad-'Alíy-i-Salmání, the barber, on whom he had lavished great marks of favor, his wish that he, on some propitious occasion, when attending Bahá'u'lláh in His bath, should assassinate Him. "So enraged was Ustád Muhammad-'Alí," Áqáy-i-Kalím, recounting this episode to Nabíl in Adrianople, has stated, "when apprized of this proposition, that he felt a strong desire to kill Mírzá Yahyá on the spot, and would have done so but for his fear of Bahá'u'lláh's displeasure. I happened to be the first person he encountered as he came out of the bath weeping.… I eventually succeeded, after much persuasion, in inducing him to return to the bath and complete his unfinished task." Though ordered subsequently by Bahá'u'lláh not to divulge this occurrence to any one, the barber was unable to hold his peace and betrayed the secret, plunging thereby the community into great consternation. "When the secret nursed in his (Mírzá Yahyá) bosom was revealed by God," Bahá'u'lláh Himself affirms, "he disclaimed such an intention, and imputed it to that same servant (Ustád Muhammad-'Alí)."
["On another occasion..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 154
 
The moment had now arrived for Him Who had so recently, both verbally and in numerous Tablets, revealed the implications of the claims He had advanced, to acquaint formally the one who was the nominee of the Báb with the character of His Mission. Mírzá Áqá Ján was accordingly commissioned to bear to Mírzá Yahyá the newly revealed Súriy-i-Amr, which unmistakably affirmed those claims, to read aloud to him its contents, and demand an unequivocal and conclusive reply. Mírzá Yahyá's request for a one day respite, during which he could meditate his answer, was granted. The only reply, however, that was forthcoming was a counter-declaration, specifying the hour and the minute in which he had been made the recipient of an independent Revelation, necessitating the unqualified submission to him of the peoples of the earth in both the East and the West.  
167

So presumptuous an assertion, made by so perfidious an adversary to the envoy of the Bearer of so momentous a Revelation was the signal for the open and final rupture between Bahá'u'lláh and Mírzá Yahyá—a rupture that marks one of the darkest dates in Bahá'í history. Wishing to allay the fierce animosity that blazed in the bosom of His enemies, and to assure to each one of the exiles a complete freedom to choose between Him and them, Bahá'u'lláh withdrew with His family to the house of Ridá Big (Shavvál 22, 1282 A.H.), which was rented by His order, and refused, for two months, to associate with either friend or stranger, including His own companions. He instructed Áqáy-i-Kalím to divide all the furniture, bedding, clothing and utensils that were to be found in His home, and send half to the house of Mírzá Yahyá; to deliver to him certain relics he had long coveted, such as the seals, rings, and manuscripts in the handwriting of the Báb; and to insure that he received his full share of the allowance fixed by the government for the maintenance of the exiles and their families. He, moreover, directed Áqáy-i-Kalím to order to attend to Mírzá Yahyá's shopping, for several hours a day, any one of the companions whom he himself might select, and to assure him that whatever would henceforth be received in his name from Persia would be delivered into his own hands.    
"That day," Áqáy-i-Kalím is reported to have informed Nabíl, "witnessed a most great commotion. All the companions lamented in their separation from the Blessed Beauty." "Those days," is the written testimony of one of those companions, "were marked by tumult and confusion. We were sore-perplexed, and greatly feared lest we be permanently deprived of the bounty of His presence."
["That day..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 163
 
This grief and perplexity were, however, destined to be of short duration. The calumnies with which both Mírzá Yahyá and Siyyid Muhammad now loaded their letters, which they disseminated in Persia and 'Iráq, as well as the petitions, couched in obsequious language, which the former had addressed to Khurshíd Páshá, the governor of Adrianople, and to his assistant 'Azíz Páshá, impelled Bahá'u'lláh to emerge from His retirement. He was soon after informed that this same brother had despatched one of his wives to the government house to complain that her husband had been cheated of his rights, and that her children were on the verge of starvation—an accusation that spread far and wide and, reaching Constantinople, became, to Bahá'u'lláh's profound distress, the subject of excited discussion and injurious comment in circles that had previously been greatly impressed by the high standard which His noble and dignified behavior had set in that city. Siyyid Muhammad journeyed to the capital, begged the Persian Ambassador, the Mushíru'd-Dawlih, to allot Mírzá Yahyá and himself a stipend, accused Bahá'u'lláh of sending an agent to assassinate Násiri'd-Dín Sháh, and spared no effort to heap abuse and calumny on One Who had, for so long and so patiently, forborne with him, and endured in silence the enormities of which he had been guilty.
["He [Bahá'u'lláh] was soon..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 168
168

After a stay of about one year in the house of Ridá Big Bahá'u'lláh returned to the house He had occupied before His withdrawal from His companions, and thence, after three months, He transferred His residence to the house of 'Izzat Áqá, in which He continued to live until His departure from Adrianople. It was in this house, in the month of Jamádíyu'l-Avval 1284 A.H. (Sept. 1867) that an event of the utmost significance occurred, which completely discomfited Mírzá Yahyá and his supporters, and proclaimed to friend and foe alike Bahá'u'lláh's triumph over them. A certain Mír Muhammad, a Bábí of Shíráz, greatly resenting alike the claims and the cowardly seclusion of Mírzá Yahyá, succeeded in forcing Siyyid Muhammad to induce him to meet Bahá'u'lláh face to face, so that a discrimination might be publicly effected between the true and the false. Foolishly assuming that his illustrious Brother would never countenance such a proposition, Mírzá Yahyá appointed the mosque of Sultán Salím as the place for their encounter. No sooner had Bahá'u'lláh been informed of this arrangement than He set forth, on foot, in the heat of midday, and accompanied by this same Mír Muhammad, for the afore-mentioned mosque, which was situated in a distant part of the city, reciting, as He walked, through the streets and markets, verses, in a voice and in a manner that greatly astonished those who saw and heard Him.
["A certain Mír Muhammad..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 292
 
"O Muhammad!", are some of the words He uttered on that memorable occasion, as testified by Himself in a Tablet, "He Who is the Spirit hath, verily, issued from His habitation, and with Him have come forth the souls of God's chosen ones and the realities of His Messengers. Behold, then, the dwellers of the realms on high above Mine head, and all the testimonies of the Prophets in My grasp. Say: Were all the divines, all the wise men, all the kings and rulers on earth to gather together, I, in very truth, would confront them, and would proclaim the verses of God, the Sovereign, the Almighty, the All-Wise. I am He Who feareth no one, though all who are in heaven and all who are on earth rise up against me.… This is Mine hand which God hath turned white for all the worlds to behold. This is My staff; were We to cast it down, it would, of a truth, swallow up all created things." Mír Muhammad, who had been sent ahead to announce Bahá'u'lláh's arrival, soon returned, and informed Him that he who had challenged His authority wished, owing to unforeseen circumstances, to postpone for a day or two the interview. Upon His return to His house Bahá'u'lláh revealed a Tablet, wherein He recounted what had happened, fixed the time for the postponed interview, sealed the Tablet with His seal, entrusted it to Nabíl, and instructed him to deliver it to one of the new believers, Mullá Muhammad-i-Tabrízí, for the information of Siyyid Muhammad, who was in the habit of frequenting that believer's shop. It was arranged to demand from Siyyid Muhammad, ere the delivery of that Tablet, a sealed note pledging Mírzá Yahyá, in the event of failing to appear at the trysting-place, to affirm in writing that his claims were false. Siyyid Muhammad promised that he would produce the next day the document required, and though Nabíl, for three successive days, waited in that shop for the reply, neither did the Siyyid appear, nor was such a note sent by him. That undelivered Tablet, Nabíl, recording twenty-three years later this historic episode in his chronicle, affirms was still in his possession, "as fresh as the day on which the Most Great Branch had penned it, and the seal of the Ancient Beauty had sealed and adorned it," a tangible and irrefutable testimony to Bahá'u'lláh's established ascendancy over a routed opponent.
["O Muhammad..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 293
169

Bahá'u'lláh's reaction to this most distressful episode in His ministry was, as already observed, characterized by acute anguish. "He who for months and years," He laments, "I reared with the hand of loving-kindness hath risen to take My life." "The cruelties inflicted by My oppressors," He wrote, in allusion to these perfidious enemies, "have bowed Me down, and turned My hair white. Shouldst thou present thyself before My throne, thou wouldst fail to recognize the Ancient Beauty, for the freshness of His countenance is altered, and its brightness hath faded, by reason of the oppression of the infidels." "By God!" He cries out, "No spot is left on My body that hath not been touched by the spears of thy machinations." And again: "Thou hast perpetrated against thy Brother what no man hath perpetrated against another." "What hath proceeded from thy pen," He, furthermore, has affirmed, "hath caused the Countenances of Glory to be prostrated upon the dust, hath rent in twain the Veil of Grandeur in the Sublime Paradise, and lacerated the hearts of the favored ones established upon the loftiest seats." And yet, in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, a forgiving Lord assures this same brother, this "source of perversion," "from whose own soul the winds of passion had risen and blown upon him," to "fear not because of thy deeds," bids him "return unto God, humble, submissive and lowly," and affirms that "He will put away from thee thy sins," and that "thy Lord is the Forgiving, the Mighty, the All-Merciful."
The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶184
170

The "Most Great Idol" had at the bidding and through the power of Him Who is the Fountain-head of the Most Great Justice been cast out of the community of the Most Great Name, confounded, abhorred and broken. Cleansed from this pollution, delivered from this horrible possession, God's infant Faith could now forge ahead, and, despite the turmoil that had convulsed it, demonstrate its capacity to fight further battles, capture loftier heights, and win mightier victories.
[The "Most Great Idol"...] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 298
 
A temporary breach had admittedly been made in the ranks of its supporters. Its glory had been eclipsed, and its annals stained forever. Its name, however, could not be obliterated, its spirit was far from broken, nor could this so-called schism tear its fabric asunder. The Covenant of the Báb, to which reference has already been made, with its immutable truths, incontrovertible prophecies, and repeated warnings, stood guard over that Faith, insuring its integrity, demonstrating its incorruptibility, and perpetuating its influence.
["A temporary breach..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 299
 
Though He Himself was bent with sorrow, and still suffered from the effects of the attempt on His life, and though He was well aware a further banishment was probably impending, yet, undaunted by the blow which His Cause had sustained, and the perils with which it was encompassed, Bahá'u'lláh arose with matchless power, even before the ordeal was overpast, to proclaim the Mission with which He had been entrusted to those who, in East and West, had the reins of supreme temporal authority in their grasp. The day-star of His Revelation was, through this very Proclamation, destined to shine in its meridian glory, and His Faith manifest the plenitude of its divine power.
["Though He Himself..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 299
 
A period of prodigious activity ensued which, in its repercussions, outshone the vernal years of Bahá'u'lláh's ministry. "Day and night," an eye-witness has written, "the Divine verses were raining down in such number that it was impossible to record them. Mírzá Áqá Ján wrote them as they were dictated, while the Most Great Branch was continually occupied in transcribing them. There was not a moment to spare." "A number of secretaries," Nabíl has testified, "were busy day and night and yet they were unable to cope with the task. Among them was Mírzá Báqir-i-Shírází.… He alone transcribed no less than two thousand verses every day. He labored during six or seven months. Every month the equivalent of several volumes would be transcribed by him and sent to Persia. About twenty volumes, in his fine penmanship, he left behind as a remembrance for Mírzá Áqá Ján." Bahá'u'lláh, Himself, referring to the verses revealed by Him, has written: "Such are the outpourings … from the clouds of Divine Bounty that within the space of an hour the equivalent of a thousand verses hath been revealed." "So great is the grace vouchsafed in this day that in a single day and night, were an amanuensis capable of accomplishing it to be found, the equivalent of the Persian Bayán would be sent down from the heaven of Divine holiness." "I swear by God!" He, in another connection has affirmed, "In those days the equivalent of all that hath been sent down aforetime unto the Prophets hath been revealed." "That which hath already been revealed in this land (Adrianople)," He, furthermore, referring to the copiousness of His writings, has declared, "secretaries are incapable of transcribing. It has, therefore, remained for the most part untranscribed."
["A period of prodigious..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 299

["Such are the outpourings..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 254

["So great is the grace..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 23

["secretaries are incapable..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 269

171

Already in the very midst of that grievous crisis, and even before it came to a head, Tablets unnumbered were streaming from the pen of Bahá'u'lláh, in which the implications of His newly-asserted claims were fully expounded. The Súriy-i-Amr, the Lawh-i-Nuqtih, the Lawh-i-Ahmad, the Súriy-i-Asháb, the Lawh-i-Sayyáh, the Súriy-i-Damm, the Súriy-i-Hajj, the Lawhu'r-Rúh, the Lawhu'r-Ridván, the Lawhu't-Tuqá were among the Tablets which His pen had already set down when He transferred His residence to the house of 'Izzat Áqá. Almost immediately after the "Most Great Separation" had been effected, the weightiest Tablets associated with His sojourn in Adrianople were revealed. The Súriy-i-Mulúk, the most momentous Tablet revealed by Bahá'u'lláh (Súrih of Kings) in which He, for the first time, directs His words collectively to the entire company of the monarchs of East and West, and in which the Sultán of Turkey, and his ministers, the kings of Christendom, the French and Persian Ambassadors accredited to the Sublime Porte, the Muslim ecclesiastical leaders in Constantinople, its wise men and inhabitants, the people of Persia and the philosophers of the world are separately addressed; the Kitáb-i-Badí', His apologia, written to refute the accusations levelled against Him by Mírzá Mihdíy-i-Rashtí, corresponding to the Kitáb-i-Íqán, revealed in defense of the Bábí Revelation; the Munájátháy-i-Siyám (Prayers for Fasting), written in anticipation of the Book of His Laws; the first Tablet to Napoleon III, in which the Emperor of the French is addressed and the sincerity of his professions put to the test; the Lawh-i-Sultán, His detailed epistle to Násiri'd-Dín Sháh, in which the aims, purposes and principles of His Faith are expounded and the validity of His Mission demonstrated; the Súriy-i-Ra'ís, begun in the village of Káshánih on His way to Gallipoli, and completed shortly after at Gyáwur-Kyuy—these may be regarded not only as the most outstanding among the innumerable Tablets revealed in Adrianople, but as occupying a foremost position among all the writings of the Author of the Bahá'í Revelation.
[Súriy-i-Amr] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, cover, p. 161

[Lawh-i-Ahmad] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 137

[Súriy-i-Asháb] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 286; vol. 2, p. 65

[Lawh-i-Sayyáh] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 210

[Súriy-i-Damm] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 236

[Súriy-i-Hajj] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 240

[Lawh-i-Rúh] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 181

[Súriy-i-Mulúk] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 301

[Kitáb-i-Badí'] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 370

The Kitáb-i-Íqán

[Lawh-i-Sultán] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 337

[Súriy-i-Ra'ís] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 411

172

In His message to the kings of the earth, Bahá'u'lláh, in the Súriy-i-Mulúk, discloses the character of His Mission; exhorts them to embrace His Message; affirms the validity of the Báb's Revelation; reproves them for their indifference to His Cause; enjoins them to be just and vigilant, to compose their differences and reduce their armaments; expatiates on His afflictions; commends the poor to their care; warns them that "Divine chastisement" will "assail" them "from every direction," if they refuse to heed His counsels, and prophesies His "triumph upon earth" though no king be found who would turn his face towards Him.
[Súriy-i-Mulúk] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 301

 
The kings of Christendom, more specifically, Bahá'u'lláh, in that same Tablet, censures for having failed to "welcome" and "draw nigh" unto Him Who is the "Spirit of Truth," and for having persisted in "disporting" themselves with their "pastimes and fancies," and declares to them that they "shall be called to account" for their doings, "in the presence of Him Who shall gather together the entire creation."    
He bids Sultán 'Abdu'l-'Azíz "hearken to the speech … of Him Who unerringly treadeth the Straight Path"; exhorts him to direct in person the affairs of his people, and not to repose confidence in unworthy ministers; admonishes him not to rely on his treasures, nor to "overstep the bounds of moderation" but to deal with his subjects with "undeviating justice"; and acquaints him with the overwhelming burden of His own tribulations. In that same Tablet He asserts His innocence and His loyalty to the Sultán and his ministers; describes the circumstances of His banishment from the capital; and assures him of His prayers to God on his behalf.  
173

To this same Sultán He, moreover, as attested by the Súriy-i-Ra'ís, transmitted, while in Gallipoli, a verbal message through a Turkish officer named 'Umar, requesting the sovereign to grant Him a ten minute interview, "so that he may demand whatsoever he would deem to be a sufficient testimony and would regard as proof of the veracity of Him Who is the Truth," adding that "should God enable Him to produce it, let him, then, release these wronged ones and leave them to themselves."
[Súriy-i-Ra'ís] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 411
 
To Napoleon III Bahá'u'lláh addressed a specific Tablet, which was forwarded through one of the French ministers to the Emperor, in which He dwelt on the sufferings endured by Himself and His followers; avowed their innocence; reminded him of his two pronouncements on behalf of the oppressed and the helpless; and, desiring to test the sincerity of his motives, called upon him to "inquire into the condition of such as have been wronged," and "extend his care to the weak," and look upon Him and His fellow-exiles "with the eye of loving-kindness."    
To Násiri'd-Dín Sháh He revealed a Tablet, the lengthiest epistle to any single sovereign, in which He testified to the unparalleled severity of the troubles that had touched Him; recalled the sovereign's recognition of His innocence on the eve of His departure for 'Iráq; adjured him to rule with justice; described God's summons to Himself to arise and proclaim His Message; affirmed the disinterestedness of His counsels; proclaimed His belief in the unity of God and in His Prophets; uttered several prayers on the Sháh's behalf; justified His own conduct in 'Iráq; stressed the beneficent influence of His teachings; and laid special emphasis on His condemnation of all forms of violence and mischief. He, moreover, in that same Tablet, demonstrated the validity of His Mission; expressed the wish to be "brought face to face with the divines of the age, and produce proofs and testimonies in the presence of His Majesty," which would establish the truth of His Cause; exposed the perversity of the ecclesiastical leaders in His own days, as well as in the days of Jesus Christ and of Muhammad; prophesied that His sufferings will be followed by the "outpourings of a supreme mercy" and by an "overflowing prosperity"; drew a parallel between the afflictions that had befallen His kindred and those endured by the relatives of the Prophet Muhammad; expatiated on the instability of human affairs; depicted the city to which He was about to be banished; foreshadowed the future abasement of the 'ulamás; and concluded with yet another expression of hope that the sovereign might be assisted by God to "aid His Faith and turn towards His justice."  
174

To 'Alí Páshá, the Grand Vizir, Bahá'u'lláh addressed the Súriy-i-Ra'ís. In this He bids him "hearken to the voice of God"; declares that neither his "grunting," nor the "barking" of those around him, nor "the hosts of the world" can withhold the Almighty from achieving His purpose; accuses him of having perpetrated that which has caused "the Apostle of God to lament in the most sublime Paradise," and of having conspired with the Persian Ambassador to harm Him; forecasts "the manifest loss" in which he would soon find himself; glorifies the Day of His own Revelation; prophesies that this Revelation will "erelong encompass the earth and all that dwell therein," and that the "Land of Mystery (Adrianople) and what is beside it … 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"; identifies that same Revelation with the Revelations of Moses and of Jesus; recalls the "arrogance" of the Persian Emperor in the days of Muhammad, the "transgression" of Pharaoh in the days of Moses, and of the "impiety" of Nimrod in the days of Abraham; and proclaims His purpose to "quicken the world and unite all its peoples."
[Súriy-i-Ra'ís] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 411
 
The ministers of the Sultán, He, in the Súriy-i-Mulúk, reprimands for their conduct, in passages in which He challenges the soundness of their principles, predicts that they will be punished for their acts, denounces their pride and injustice, asserts His integrity and detachment from the vanities of the world, and proclaims His innocence.
[Súriy-i-Mulúk] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 301

 
The French Ambassador accredited to the Sublime Porte, He, in that same Súrih, rebukes for having combined with the Persian Ambassador against Him; reminds him of the counsels of Jesus Christ, as recorded in the Gospel of St. John; warns him that he will be held answerable for the things his hands have wrought; and counsels him, together with those like him, not to deal with any one as he has dealt with Him.    
To the Persian Ambassador in Constantinople, He, in that same Tablet, addresses lengthy passages in which He exposes his delusions and calumnies, denounces his injustice and the injustice of his countrymen, assures him that He harbors no ill-will against him, declares that, should he realize the enormity of his deed, he would mourn all the days of his life, affirms that he will persist till his death in his heedlessness, justifies His own conduct in Tihrán and in 'Iráq, and bears witness to the corruption of the Persian minister in Baghdád and to his collusion with this minister.  
175

To the entire company of the ecclesiastical leaders of Sunní Islám in Constantinople He addresses a specific message in the same Súriy-i-Mulúk in which He denounces them as heedless and spiritually dead; reproaches them for their pride and for failing to seek His presence; unveils to them the full glory and significance of His Mission; affirms that their leaders, had they been alive, would have "circled around Him"; condemns them as "worshippers of names" and lovers of leadership; and avows that God will find naught acceptable from them unless they "be made new" in His estimation.
[Súriy-i-Mulúk] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 301

 
To the wise men of the City of Constantinople and the philosophers of the world He devotes the concluding passages of the Súriy-i-Mulúk, in which He cautions them not to wax proud before God; reveals to them the essence of true wisdom; stresses the importance of faith and upright conduct; rebukes them for having failed to seek enlightenment from Him; and counsels them not to "overstep the bounds of God," nor turn their gaze towards the "ways of men and their habits."
[Súriy-i-Mulúk] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 301

 
To the inhabitants of Constantinople He, in that same Tablet, declares that He "feareth no one except God," that He speaks "naught except at His (God) bidding," that He follows naught save God's truth, that He found the governors and elders of the city as "children gathered about and disporting themselves with clay," and that He perceived no one sufficiently mature to acquire the truths which God had taught Him. He bids them take firm hold on the precepts of God; warns them not to wax proud before God and His loved ones; recalls the tribulations, and extols the virtues, of the Imám Husayn; prays that He Himself may suffer similar afflictions; prophesies that erelong God will raise up a people who will recount His troubles and demand the restitution of His rights from His oppressors; and calls upon them to give ear to His words, and return unto God and repent.    
And finally, addressing the people of Persia, He, in that same Tablet, affirms that were they to put Him to death God will assuredly raise up One in His stead, and asserts that the Almighty will "perfect His light" though they, in their secret hearts, abhor it.    
So weighty a proclamation, at so critical a period, by the Bearer of so sublime a Message, to the kings of the earth, Muslim and Christian alike, to ministers and ambassadors, to the ecclesiastical heads of Sunní Islám, to the wise men and inhabitants of Constantinople—the seat of both the Sultanate and the Caliphate—to the philosophers of the world and the people of Persia, is not to be regarded as the only outstanding event associated with Bahá'u'lláh's sojourn in Adrianople. Other developments and happenings of great, though lesser, significance must be noted in these pages, if we would justly esteem the importance of this agitated and most momentous phase of Bahá'u'lláh's ministry.  
176

It was at this period, and as a direct consequence of the rebellion and appalling downfall of Mírzá Yahyá, that certain disciples of Bahá'u'lláh (who may well rank among the "treasures" promised Him by God when bowed down with chains in the Síyáh-Chál of Tihrán), including among them one of the Letters of the Living, some survivors of the struggle of Tabarsí, and the erudite Mírzá Ahmad-i-Azghandí, arose to defend the newborn Faith, to refute, in numerous and detailed apologies, as their Master had done in the Kitáb-i-Badí', the arguments of His opponents, and to expose their odious deeds. It was at this period that the limits of the Faith were enlarged, when its banner was permanently planted in the Caucasus by the hand of Mullá Abu-Tálib and others whom Nabíl had converted, when its first Egyptian center was established at the time when Siyyid Husayn-i-Káshání and Hájí Báqir-i-Káshání took up their residence in that country, and when to the lands already warmed and illuminated by the early rays of God's Revelation—'Iráq, Turkey and Persia—Syria was added. It was in this period that the greeting of "Alláh-u-Abhá" superseded the old salutation of "Alláh-u-Akbar," and was simultaneously adopted in Persia and Adrianople, the first to use it in the former country, at the suggestion of Nabíl, being Mullá Muhammad-i-Fúrúghí, one of the defenders of the Fort of Shaykh Tabarsí. It was in this period that the phrase "the people of the Bayán," now denoting the followers of Mírzá Yahyá, was discarded, and was supplanted by the term "the people of Bahá." It was during those days that Nabíl, recently honored with the title of Nabíl-i-A'zam, in a Tablet specifically addressed to him, in which he was bidden to "deliver the Message" of his Lord "to East and West," arose, despite intermittent persecutions, to tear asunder the "most grievous veil," to implant the love of an adored Master in the hearts of His countrymen, and to champion the Cause which his Beloved had, under such tragic conditions, proclaimed. It was during those same days that Bahá'u'lláh instructed this same Nabíl to recite on His behalf the two newly revealed Tablets of the Pilgrimage, and to perform, in His stead, the rites prescribed in them, when visiting the Báb's House in Shíráz and the Most Great House in Baghdád—an act that marks the inception of one of the holiest observances, which, in a later period, the Kitáb-i-Aqdas was to formally establish. It was during this period that the "Prayers of Fasting" were revealed by Bahá'u'lláh, in anticipation of the Law which that same Book was soon to promulgate. It was, too, during the days of Bahá'u'lláh's banishment to Adrianople that a Tablet was addressed by Him to Mullá 'Alí-Akbar-i-Sháhmírzádí and Jamál-i-Burújirdí, two of His well-known followers in Tihrán, instructing them to transfer, with the utmost secrecy, the remains of the Báb from the Imám-Zádih Ma'súm, where they were concealed, to some other place of safety—an act which was subsequently proved to have been providential, and which may be regarded as marking another stage in the long and laborious transfer of those remains to the heart of Mt. Carmel, and to the spot which He, in His instructions to 'Abdu'l-Bahá, was later to designate. It was during that period that the Súriy-i-Ghusn (Súrih of the Branch) was revealed, in which 'Abdu'l-Bahá's future station is foreshadowed, and in which He is eulogized as the "Branch of Holiness," the "Limb of the Law of God," the "Trust of God," "sent down in the form of a human temple"—a Tablet which may well be regarded as the harbinger of the rank which was to be bestowed upon Him, in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, and which was to be later elucidated and confirmed in the Book of His Covenant. And finally, it was during that period that the first pilgrimages were made to the residence of One Who was now the visible Center of a newly-established Faith—pilgrimages which by reason of their number and nature, an alarmed government in Persia was first impelled to restrict, and later to prohibit, but which were the precursors of the converging streams of Pilgrims who, from East and West, at first under perilous and arduous circumstances, were to direct their steps towards the prison-fortress of 'Akká—pilgrimages which were to culminate in the historic arrival of a royal convert at the foot of Mt. Carmel, who, at the very threshold of a longed-for and much advertised pilgrimage, was so cruelly thwarted from achieving her purpose.
[Kitáb-i-Badí'] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 370

[pilgrimage] The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶32; The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1 p. 211-212; vol. 2 p. 240; vol. 3; vol. 4

[Súriy-i-Ghusn] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 388

Letters of the Living

177

These notable developments, some synchronizing with, and others flowing from, the proclamation of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, and from the internal convulsion which the Cause had undergone, could not escape the attention of the external enemies of the Movement, who were bent on exploiting to the utmost every crisis which the folly of its friends or the perfidy of renegades might at any time precipitate. The thick clouds had hardly been dissipated by the sudden outburst of the rays of a Sun, now shining from its meridian, when the darkness of another catastrophe—the last the Author of that Faith was destined to suffer—fell upon it, blackening its firmament and subjecting it to one of the severest trials it had as yet experienced.  
178

Emboldened by the recent ordeals with which Bahá'u'lláh had been so cruelly afflicted, these enemies, who had been momentarily quiescent, began to demonstrate afresh, and in a number of ways, the latent animosity they nursed in their hearts. A persecution, varying in the degree of its severity, began once more to break out in various countries. In Ádhirbáyján and Zanján, in Níshápúr and Tihrán, the adherents of the Faith were either imprisoned, vilified, penalized, tortured or put to death. Among the sufferers may be singled out the intrepid Najaf-'Alíy-i-Zanjání, a survivor of the struggle of Zanján, and immortalized in the "Epistle to the Son of the Wolf," who, bequeathing the gold in his possession to his executioner, was heard to shout aloud "Yá Rabbíya'l-Abhá" before he was beheaded. In Egypt, a greedy and vicious consul-general extorted no less than a hundred thousand túmáns from a wealthy Persian convert, named Hájí Abu'l-Qásim-i-Shírází; arrested Hájí Mírzá Haydar-'Alí and six of his fellow-believers, and instigated their condemnation to a nine year exile in Khartúm, confiscating all the writings in their possession, and then threw into prison Nabíl, whom Bahá'u'lláh had sent to appeal to the Khedive on their behalf. In Baghdád and Kázimayn indefatigable enemies, watching their opportunity, subjected Bahá'u'lláh's faithful supporters to harsh and ignominious treatment; savagely disemboweled 'Abdu'r-Rasúl-i-Qumí, as he was carrying water in a skin, at the hour of dawn, from the river to the Most Great House, and banished, amidst scenes of public derision, about seventy companions to Mosul, including women and children.
[Najaf-'Alíy-i-Zanjání] Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 73; The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2 pp. 222-3.
 
No less active were Mírzá Husayn-Khán, the Mushíru'd-Dawlih, and his associates, who, determined to take full advantage of the troubles that had recently visited Bahá'u'lláh, arose to encompass His destruction. The authorities in the capital were incensed by the esteem shown Him by the governor Muhammad Pásháy-i-Qibrisí, a former Grand Vizir, and his successors Sulaymán Páshá, of the Qádiríyyih Order, and particularly Khurshíd Páshá, who, openly and on many occasions, frequented the house of Bahá'u'lláh, entertained Him in the days of Ramadán, and evinced a fervent admiration for 'Abdu'l-Bahá. They were well aware of the challenging tone Bahá'u'lláh had assumed in some of His newly revealed Tablets, and conscious of the instability prevailing in their own country. They were disturbed by the constant comings and goings of pilgrims in Adrianople, and by the exaggerated reports of Fu'ád Páshá, who had recently passed through on a tour of inspection. The petitions of Mírzá Yahyá which reached them through Siyyid Muhammad, his agent, had provoked them. Anonymous letters (written by this same Siyyid and by an accomplice, Áqá Ján, serving in the Turkish artillery) which perverted the writings of Bahá'u'lláh, and which accused Him of having conspired with Bulgarian leaders and certain ministers of European powers to achieve, with the help of some thousands of His followers, the conquest of Constantinople, had filled their breasts with alarm. And now, encouraged by the internal dissensions which had shaken the Faith, and irritated by the evident esteem in which Bahá'u'lláh was held by the consuls of foreign powers stationed in Adrianople, they determined to take drastic and immediate action which would extirpate that Faith, isolate its Author and reduce Him to powerlessness. The indiscretions committed by some of its over-zealous followers, who had arrived in Constantinople, no doubt, aggravated an already acute situation.  
179

The fateful decision was eventually arrived at to banish Bahá'u'lláh to the penal colony of 'Akká, and Mírzá Yahyá to Famagusta in Cyprus. This decision was embodied in a strongly worded Farmán, issued by Sultán 'Abdu'l-'Azíz. The companions of Bahá'u'lláh, who had arrived in the capital, together with a few who later joined them, as well as Áqá Ján, the notorious mischief-maker, were arrested, interrogated, deprived of their papers and flung into prison. The members of the community in Adrianople were, several times, summoned to the governorate to ascertain their number, while rumors were set afloat that they were to be dispersed and banished to different places or secretly put to death.    
Suddenly, one morning, the house of Bahá'u'lláh was surrounded by soldiers, sentinels were posted at its gates, His followers were again summoned by the authorities, interrogated, and ordered to make ready for their departure. "The loved ones of God and His kindred," is Bahá'u'lláh's testimony in the Súriy-i-Ra'ís, "were left on the first night without food … 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." "A great tumult seized the people," writes Áqá Ridá, one of the stoutest supporters of Bahá'u'lláh, exiled with him all the way from Baghdád to 'Akká, "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." Some of the consuls of foreign powers called on Bahá'u'lláh, and expressed their readiness to intervene with their respective governments on His behalf—suggestions for which He expressed appreciation, but which He firmly declined. "The consuls of that city (Adrianople) gathered in the presence of this Youth at the hour of His departure," He Himself has written, "and expressed their desire to aid Him. They, verily, evinced towards Us manifest affection."
[Súriy-i-Ra'ís] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 411

["The people surrounded the house..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 415

["A great tumult seized..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 403

180

The Persian Ambassador promptly informed the Persian consuls in 'Iráq and Egypt that the Turkish government had withdrawn its protection from the Bábís, and that they were free to treat them as they pleased. Several pilgrims, among whom was Hájí Muhammad Ismá'íl-i-Káshání, surnamed Anís in the Lawh-i-Ra'ís, had, in the meantime, arrived in Adrianople, and had to depart to Gallipoli, without even beholding the face of their Master. Two of the companions were forced to divorce their wives, as their relatives refused to allow them to go into exile. Khurshíd Páshá, who had already several times categorically denied the written accusations sent him by the authorities in Constantinople, and had interceded vigorously on behalf of Bahá'u'lláh, was so embarrassed by the action of his government that he decided to absent himself when informed of His immediate departure from the city, and instructed the Registrar to convey to Him the purport of the Sultán's edict. Hájí Ja'far-i-Tabrízí, one of the believers, finding that his name had been omitted from the list of the exiles who might accompany Bahá'u'lláh, cut his throat with a razor, but was prevented in time from ending his life—an act which Bahá'u'lláh, in the Súriy-i-Ra'ís, characterizes as "unheard of in bygone centuries," and which "God hath set apart for this Revelation, as an evidence of the power of His might."
[Lawh-i-Ra'ís] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 3, p. 33

[Súriy-i-Ra'ís] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 411

["unheard of in bygone centuries..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 415

 
On the twenty-second of the month of Rabí'u'th-Thání 1285 A.H. (August 12, 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 neighbors 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, 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."
[Súriy-i-Ra'ís] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 411

["On the twenty-second..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 409

181

Several of the companions who had been brought from Constantinople were awaiting them in Gallipoli. On his arrival Bahá'u'lláh made the following pronouncement to Hasan Effendi, who, his duty discharged, was taking his leave: "Tell the king that this territory will pass out of his hands, and his affairs will be thrown into confusion." "To this," Áqá Ridá, the recorder of that scene has written, "Bahá'u'lláh furthermore added: 'Not I speak these words, but God speaketh them.' In those moments He was uttering verses which we, who were downstairs, could overhear. They were spoken with such vehemence and power that, methinks, the foundations of the house itself trembled."
["Several of the companions..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 410
 
Even in Gallipoli, where three nights were spent, no one knew what Bahá'u'lláh's destination would be. Some believed that He and His brothers would be banished to one place, and the remainder dispersed, and sent into exile. Others thought that His companions would be sent back to Persia, while still others expected their immediate extermination. The government's original order was to banish Bahá'u'lláh, Áqáy-i-Kalím and Mírzá Muhammad-Qulí, with a servant to 'Akká, while the rest were to proceed to Constantinople. This order, which provoked scenes of indescribable distress, was, however, at the insistence of Bahá'u'lláh, and by the instrumentality of 'Umar Effendi, a major appointed to accompany the exiles, revoked. It was eventually decided that all the exiles, numbering about seventy, should be banished to 'Akká. Instructions were, moreover, issued that a certain number of the adherents of Mírzá Yahyá, among whom were Siyyid Muhammad and Áqá Ján, should accompany these exiles, whilst four of the companions of Bahá'u'lláh were ordered to depart with the Azalís for Cyprus.
["Even in Gallipoli..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 410
 
So grievous were the dangers and trials confronting Bahá'u'lláh at the hour of His departure from Gallipoli that He warned His companions that "this journey will be unlike any 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.
["So grievous were..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 410
182

On the morning of the 2nd of Jamádíyu'l-Avval 1285 A.H. (August 21, 1868) they all embarked in an Austrian-Lloyd steamer for Alexandria, touching at Madellí, and stopping for two days at Smyrna, where Jináb-i-Munír, surnamed Ismu'lláhu'l-Muníb, became gravely ill, and had, to his great distress, to be left behind in a hospital where he soon after died. In Alexandria they transhipped into a steamer of the same company, bound for Haifa, where, after brief stops at Port Said and Jaffa, they landed, setting out, a few hours later, in a sailing vessel, for 'Akká, where they disembarked, in the course of the afternoon of the 12th of Jamádíyu'l-Avval 1285 A.H. (August 31, 1868). It was at the moment when Bahá'u'lláh had stepped into the boat which was to carry Him to the landing-stage in Haifa that 'Abdu'l-Ghaffár, one of the four companions condemned to share the exile of Mírzá Yahyá, and whose "detachment, love and trust in God" Bahá'u'lláh had greatly praised, cast himself, in his despair, into the sea, shouting "Yá Bahá'u'l-Abhá," and was subsequently rescued and resuscitated with the greatest difficulty, only to be forced by adamant officials to continue his voyage, with Mírzá Yahyá's party, to the destination originally appointed for him.
["On the morning of..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 411
 

CHAPTER XI

Bahá'u'lláh's Incarceration in 'Akká

 
183

The arrival of Bahá'u'lláh in 'Akká marks the opening of the last phase of His forty-year long ministry, the final stage, and indeed the climax, of the banishment in which the whole of that ministry was spent. A banishment that had, at first, brought Him to the immediate vicinity of the strongholds of Shí'ah orthodoxy and into contact with its outstanding exponents, and which, at a later period, had carried Him to the capital of the Ottoman empire, and led Him to address His epoch-making pronouncements to the Sultán, to his ministers and to the ecclesiastical leaders of Sunní Islám, had now been instrumental in landing Him upon the shores of the Holy Land—the Land promised by God to Abraham, sanctified by the Revelation of Moses, honored by the lives and labors of the Hebrew patriarchs, judges, kings and prophets, revered as the cradle of Christianity, and as the place where Zoroaster, according to 'Abdu'l-Bahá's testimony, had "held converse with some of the Prophets of Israel," and associated by Islám with the Apostle's night-journey, through the seven heavens, to the throne of the Almighty. Within the confines of this holy and enviable country, "the nest of all the Prophets of God," "the Vale of God's unsearchable Decree, the snow-white Spot, the Land of unfading splendor" was the Exile of Baghdád, of Constantinople and Adrianople condemned to spend no less than a third of the allotted span of His life, and over half of the total period of His Mission. "It is difficult," declares 'Abdu'l-Bahá, "to understand how Bahá'u'lláh could have been obliged to leave Persia, and to pitch His tent in this Holy Land, but for the persecution of His enemies, His banishment and exile."
The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 3, p. 14
 
Indeed such a consummation, He assures us, had been actually prophesied "through the tongue of the Prophets two or three thousand years before." God, "faithful to His promise," had, "to some of the Prophets" "revealed and given the good news that the 'Lord of Hosts should be manifested in the Holy Land.'" Isaiah had, in this connection, announced in his Book: "Get thee up into the high mountain, O Zion that bringest good tidings; lift up thy voice with strength, O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings. Lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah: 'Behold your God! Behold the Lord God will come with strong hand, and His arm shall rule for Him.'" David, in his Psalms, had predicted: "Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of Glory shall come in. Who is this King of Glory? The Lord of Hosts, He is the King of Glory." "Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined. Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence." Amos had, likewise, foretold His coming: "The Lord will roar from Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem; and the habitations of the shepherds shall mourn, and the top of Carmel shall wither."
The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 3, p. 15
184

'Akká, itself, flanked by the "glory of Lebanon," and lying in full view of the "splendor of Carmel," at the foot of the hills which enclose the home of Jesus Christ Himself, had been described by David as "the Strong City," designated by Hosea as "a door of hope," and alluded to by Ezekiel as "the gate that looketh towards the East," whereunto "the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the East," His voice "like a noise of many waters." To it the Arabian Prophet had referred as "a city in Syria to which God hath shown His special mercy," situated "betwixt two mountains … in the middle of a meadow," "by the shore of the sea … suspended beneath the Throne," "white, whose whiteness is pleasing unto God." "Blessed the man," He, moreover, as confirmed by Bahá'u'lláh, had declared, "that hath visited 'Akká, and blessed he that hath visited the visitor of 'Akká." Furthermore, "He that raiseth therein the call to prayer, his voice will be lifted up unto Paradise." And again: "The poor of 'Akká are the kings of Paradise and the princes thereof. A month in 'Akká is better than a thousand years elsewhere." Moreover, in a remarkable tradition, which is contained in Shaykh Ibnu'l-'Arabí's work, entitled "Futúhát-i-Makkíyyih," and which is recognized as an authentic utterance of Muhammad, and is quoted by Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl in his "Fará'id," this significant prediction has been made: "All of them (the companions of the Qá'im) shall be slain except One Who shall reach the plain of 'Akká, the Banquet-Hall of God."
The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 3, p. 16
 
Bahá'u'lláh Himself, as attested by Nabíl in his narrative, had, as far back as the first years of His banishment to Adrianople, alluded to that same city in His Lawh-i-Sayyáh, designating it as the "Vale of Nabíl," the word Nabíl being equal in numerical value to that of 'Akká. "Upon Our arrival," that Tablet had predicted, "We were welcomed with banners of light, whereupon the Voice of the Spirit cried out saying: 'Soon will all that dwell on earth be enlisted under these banners.'"
["Upon Our arrival..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 214; vol. 3, p. 13
 
The banishment, lasting no less than twenty-four years, to which two Oriental despots had, in their implacable enmity and shortsightedness, combined to condemn Bahá'u'lláh, will go down in history as a period which witnessed a miraculous and truly revolutionizing change in the circumstances attending the life and activities of the Exile Himself, will be chiefly remembered for the widespread recrudescence of persecution, intermittent but singularly cruel, throughout His native country and the simultaneous increase in the number of His followers, and, lastly, for an enormous extension in the range and volume of His writings.  
185

His arrival at the penal colony of 'Akká, far from proving the end of His afflictions, was but the beginning of a major crisis, characterized by bitter suffering, severe restrictions, and intense turmoil, which, in its gravity, surpassed even the agonies of the Síyáh-Chál of Tihrán, and to which no other event, in the history of the entire century can compare, except the internal convulsion that rocked the Faith in Adrianople. "Know thou," Bahá'u'lláh, wishing to emphasize the criticalness of the first nine years of His banishment to that prison-city, has written, "that upon Our arrival at this Spot, We chose to designate it as the 'Most Great Prison.' Though previously subjected in another land (Tihrán) to chains and fetters, We yet refused to call it by that name. Say: Ponder thereon, O ye endued with understanding!"
["upon Our arrival at this Spot..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 17, vol. 3, p. 1
 
The ordeal He endured, as a direct consequence of the attempt on the life of Násiri'd-Dín Sháh, was one which had been inflicted upon Him solely by the external enemies of the Faith. The travail in Adrianople, the effects of which all but sundered the community of the Báb's followers, was, on the other hand, purely internal in character. This fresh crisis which, during almost a decade, agitated Him and His companions, was, however, marked throughout not only by the assaults of His adversaries from without, but by the machinations of enemies from within, as well as by the grievous misdeeds of those who, though bearing His name, perpetrated what made His heart and His pen alike to lament.    
'Akká, the ancient Ptolemais, the St. Jean d'Acre of the Crusaders, that had successfully defied the siege of Napoleon, had sunk, under the Turks, to the level of a penal colony to which murderers, highway robbers and political agitators were consigned from all parts of the Turkish empire. It was girt about by a double system of ramparts; was inhabited by a people whom Bahá'u'lláh stigmatized as "the generation of vipers"; was devoid of any source of water within its gates; was flea-infested, damp and honey-combed with gloomy, filthy and tortuous lanes. "According to what they say," the Supreme Pen has recorded in the Lawh-i-Sultán, "it is the most desolate of the cities of the world, the most unsightly of them in appearance, the most detestable in climate, and the foulest in water. It is as though it were the metropolis of the owl." So putrid was its air that, according to a proverb, a bird when flying over it would drop dead.
[Lawh-i-Sultán] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 337

["According to what they say,..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 356; vol. 3, p. 21

186

Explicit orders had been issued by the Sultán and his ministers to subject the exiles, who were accused of having grievously erred and led others far astray, to the strictest confinement. Hopes were confidently expressed that the sentence of life-long imprisonment pronounced against them would lead to their eventual extermination. The farmán of Sultán 'Abdu'l-'Azíz, dated the fifth of Rabí'u'th-Thání 1285 A.H. (July 26, 1868), not only condemned them to perpetual banishment, but stipulated their strict incarceration, and forbade them to associate either with each other or with the local inhabitants. The text of the farmán itself was read publicly, soon after the arrival of the exiles, in the principal mosque of the city as a warning to the population. The Persian Ambassador, accredited to the Sublime Porte, had thus assured his government, in a letter, written a little over a year after their banishment to '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. 'Abbas-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." Such was the isolation imposed upon them that the Bahá'ís of Persia, perturbed by the rumors set afloat by the Azalís of Isfahán that Bahá'u'lláh had been drowned, induced the British Telegraph office in Julfá to ascertain on their behalf the truth of the matter.
["I have issued..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 399
 
Having, after a miserable voyage, disembarked at 'Akká, all the exiles, men, women and children, were, under the eyes of a curious and callous population that had assembled at the port to behold the "God of the Persians," conducted to the army barracks, where they were locked in, and sentinels detailed to guard them. "The first night," Bahá'u'lláh testifies in the Lawh-i-Ra'ís, "all were deprived of either food or drink … They even begged for water, and were refused." So filthy and brackish was the water in the pool of the courtyard that no one could drink it. Three loaves of black and salty bread were assigned to each, which they were later permitted to exchange, when escorted by guards to the market, for two of better quality. Subsequently they were allowed a mere pittance as substitute for the allotted dole of bread. All fell sick, except two, shortly after their arrival. Malaria, dysentery, combined with the sultry heat, added to their miseries. Three succumbed, among them two brothers, who died the same night, "locked," as testified by Bahá'u'lláh, "in each other's arms." The carpet used by Him He gave to be sold in order to provide for their winding-sheets and burial. The paltry sum obtained after it had been auctioned was delivered to the guards, who had refused to bury them without first being paid the necessary expenses. Later, it was learned that, unwashed and unshrouded, they had buried them, without coffins, in the clothes they wore, though, as affirmed by Bahá'u'lláh, they were given twice the amount required for their burial. "None," He Himself has written, "knoweth what befell Us, except God, the Almighty, the All-Knowing … From the foundation of the world until the present day a cruelty such as this hath neither been seen nor heard of." "He hath, during the greater part of His life," He, referring to Himself, has, moreover, recorded, "been sore-tried in the clutches of His enemies. His sufferings have now reached their culmination in this afflictive Prison, into which His oppressors have so unjustly thrown Him."
[Lawh-i-Ra'ís] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 3, p. 33

187

The few pilgrims who, despite the ban that had been so rigidly imposed, managed to reach the gates of the Prison—some of whom had journeyed the entire distance from Persia on foot—had to content themselves with a fleeting glimpse of the face of the Prisoner, as they stood, beyond the second moat, facing the window of His Prison. The very few who succeeded in penetrating into the city had, to their great distress, to retrace their steps without even beholding His countenance. The first among them, the self-denying Hájí Abu'l-Hasan-i-Ardikání, surnamed Amín-i-Iláhí (Trusted of God), to enter His presence was only able to do so in a public bath, where it had been arranged that he should see Bahá'u'lláh without approaching Him or giving any sign of recognition. Another pilgrim, Ustád Ismá'íl-i-Káshí, arriving from Mosul, posted himself on the far side of the moat, and, gazing for hours, in rapt adoration, at the window of his Beloved, failed in the end, owing to the feebleness of his sight, to discern His face, and had to turn back to the cave which served as his dwelling-place on Mt. Carmel—an episode that moved to tears the Holy Family who had been anxiously watching from afar the frustration of his hopes. Nabíl himself had to precipitately flee the city, where he had been recognized, had to satisfy himself with a brief glimpse of Bahá'u'lláh from across that same moat, and continued to roam the countryside around Nazareth, Haifa, Jerusalem and Hebron, until the gradual relaxation of restrictions enabled him to join the exiles.  
188

To the galling weight of these tribulations was now added the bitter grief of a sudden tragedy—the premature loss of the noble, the pious Mírzá Mihdí, the Purest Branch, 'Abdu'l-Bahá's twenty-two year old brother, an amanuensis of Bahá'u'lláh and a companion of His exile from the days when, as a child, he was brought from Tihrán to Baghdád to join his Father after His return from Sulaymáníyyih. He was pacing the roof of the barracks in the twilight, one evening, wrapped in his customary devotions, when he fell through the unguarded skylight onto a wooden crate, standing on the floor beneath, which pierced his ribs, and caused, twenty-two hours later, his death, on the 23rd of Rabí'u'l-Avval 1287 A.H. (June 23, 1870). His dying supplication to a grieving Father was that his life might be accepted as a ransom for those who were prevented from attaining the presence of their Beloved.    
In a highly significant prayer, revealed by Bahá'u'lláh in memory of His son—a prayer that exalts his death to the rank of those great acts of atonement associated with Abraham's intended sacrifice of His son, with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and the martyrdom of the Imám Husayn—we read the following: "I have, O my Lord, offered up that which Thou hast given Me, that Thy servants may be quickened, and all that dwell on earth be united." And, likewise, these prophetic words, addressed to His martyred son: "Thou art the Trust of God and His Treasure in this Land. Erelong will God reveal through thee that which He hath desired."
["rank of those great acts..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 3, p. 211
 
After he had been washed in the presence of Bahá'u'lláh, he "that was created of the light of Bahá," to whose "meekness" the Supreme Pen had testified, and of the "mysteries" of whose ascension that same Pen had made mention, was borne forth, escorted by the fortress guards, and laid to rest, beyond the city walls, in a spot adjacent to the shrine of Nabí Sálih, from whence, seventy years later, his remains, simultaneously with those of his illustrious mother, were to be translated to the slopes of Mt. Carmel, in the precincts of the grave of his sister, and under the shadow of the Báb's holy sepulcher.  
189

Nor was this the full measure of the afflictions endured by the Prisoner of 'Akká and His fellow-exiles. Four months after this tragic event a mobilization of Turkish troops necessitated the removal of Bahá'u'lláh and all who bore Him company from the barracks. He and His family were accordingly assigned the house of Malik, in the western quarter of the city, whence, after a brief stay of three months, they were moved by the authorities to the house of Khavvám which faced it, and from which, after a few months, they were again obliged to take up new quarters in the house of Rábi'ih, being finally transferred, four months later, to the house of 'Údí Khammár, which was so insufficient to their needs that in one of its rooms no less than thirteen persons of both sexes had to accommodate themselves. Some of the companions had to take up their residence in other houses, while the remainder were consigned to a caravanserai named the Khán-i-'Avámíd.    
Their strict confinement had hardly been mitigated, and the guards who had kept watch over them been dismissed, when an internal crisis, which had been brewing in the midst of the community, was brought to a sudden and catastrophic climax. Such had been the conduct of two of the exiles, who had been included in the party that accompanied Bahá'u'lláh to 'Akká, that He was eventually forced to expel them, an act of which Siyyid Muhammad did not hesitate to take the fullest advantage. Reinforced by these recruits, he, together with his old associates, acting as spies, embarked on a campaign of abuse, calumny and intrigue, even more pernicious than that which had been launched by him in Constantinople, calculated to arouse an already prejudiced and suspicious populace to a new pitch of animosity and excitement. A fresh danger now clearly threatened the life of Bahá'u'lláh. Though He Himself had stringently forbidden His followers, on several occasions, both verbally and in writing, any retaliatory acts against their tormentors, and had even sent back to Beirut an irresponsible Arab convert, who had meditated avenging the wrongs suffered by his beloved Leader, seven of the companions clandestinely sought out and slew three of their persecutors, among whom were Siyyid Muhammad and Áqá Ján.
The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶184

The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 3, p. 236

 
The consternation that seized an already oppressed community was indescribable. Bahá'u'lláh's indignation knew no bounds. "Were We," He thus voices His emotions, in a Tablet revealed shortly after this act had been committed, "to make mention of what befell Us, the heavens would be rent asunder and the mountains would crumble." "My captivity," He wrote on another occasion, "cannot harm Me. That which can harm Me is the conduct of those who love Me, who claim to be related to Me, and yet perpetrate what causeth My heart and My pen to groan." And again: "My captivity can bring on Me no shame. Nay, by My life, it conferreth on Me glory. That which can make Me ashamed is the conduct of such of My followers as profess to love Me, yet in fact follow the Evil One."
The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶184

The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 3, p. 237

190

He was dictating His Tablets to His amanuensis when the governor, at the head of his troops, with drawn swords, surrounded His house. The entire populace, as well as the military authorities, were in a state of great agitation. The shouts and clamor of the people could be heard on all sides. Bahá'u'lláh was peremptorily summoned to the Governorate, interrogated, kept in custody the first night, with one of His sons, in a chamber in the Khán-i-Shávirdí, transferred for the following two nights to better quarters in that neighborhood, and allowed only after the lapse of seventy hours to regain His home. 'Abdu'l-Bahá was thrown into prison and chained during the first night, after which He was permitted to join His Father. Twenty-five of the companions were cast into another prison and shackled, all of whom, except those responsible for that odious deed, whose imprisonment lasted several years, were, after six days, moved to the Khán-i-Shávirdí, and there placed, for six months, under confinement.
The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 3, p. 237
 
"Is it proper," the Commandant of the city, turning to Bahá'u'lláh, after He had arrived at the Governorate, boldly inquired, "that some of your followers should act in such a manner?" "If one of your soldiers," was the swift rejoinder, "were to commit a reprehensible act, would you be held responsible, and be punished in his place?" When interrogated, He was asked to state His name and that of the country from which He came. "It is more manifest than the sun," He answered. The same question was put to Him again, to which He gave the following reply: "I deem it not proper to mention it. Refer to the farmán of the government which is in your possession." Once again they, with marked deference, reiterated their request, whereupon Bahá'u'lláh spoke with majesty and power these words: "My name is Bahá'u'lláh (Light of God), and My country is Núr (Light). Be ye apprized of it." Turning then, to the Muftí, He addressed him words of veiled rebuke, after which He spoke to the entire gathering, in such vehement and exalted language that none made bold to answer Him. Having quoted verses from the Súriy-i-Mulúk, He, afterwards, arose and left the gathering. The Governor, soon after, sent word that He was at liberty to return to His home, and apologized for what had occurred.
The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 3, p. 238

[Súriy-i-Mulúk] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 301

191

A population, already ill-disposed towards the exiles, was, after such an incident, fired with uncontrollable animosity for all those who bore the name of the Faith which those exiles professed. The charges of impiety, atheism, terrorism and heresy were openly and without restraint flung into their faces. 'Abbúd, who lived next door to Bahá'u'lláh, reinforced the partition that separated his house from the dwelling of his now much-feared and suspected Neighbor. Even the children of the imprisoned exiles, whenever they ventured to show themselves in the streets during those days, would be pursued, vilified and pelted with stones.
The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 3, p. 238
 
The cup of Bahá'u'lláh's tribulations was now filled to overflowing. A situation, greatly humiliating, full of anxieties and even perilous, continued to face the exiles, until the time, set by an inscrutable Will, at which the tide of misery and abasement began to ebb, signalizing a transformation in the fortunes of the Faith even more conspicuous than the revolutionary change effected during the latter years of Bahá'u'lláh's sojourn in Baghdád.    
The gradual recognition by all elements of the population of Bahá'u'lláh's complete innocence; the slow penetration of the true spirit of His teachings through the hard crust of their indifference and bigotry; the substitution of the sagacious and humane governor, Ahmad Big Tawfíq, for one whose mind had been hopelessly poisoned against the Faith and its followers; the unremitting labors of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, now in the full flower of His manhood, Who, through His contacts with the rank and file of the population, was increasingly demonstrating His capacity to act as the shield of His Father; the providential dismissal of the officials who had been instrumental in prolonging the confinement of the innocent companions—all paved the way for the reaction that was now setting in, a reaction with which the period of Bahá'u'lláh's banishment to 'Akká will ever remain indissolubly associated.    
Such was the devotion gradually kindled in the heart of that governor, through his association with 'Abdu'l-Bahá, and later through his perusal of the literature of the Faith, which mischief-makers, in the hope of angering him, had submitted for his consideration, that he invariably refused to enter His presence without first removing his shoes, as a token of his respect for Him. It was even bruited about that his favored counselors were those very exiles who were the followers of the Prisoner in his custody. His own son he was wont to send to 'Abdu'l-Bahá for instruction and enlightenment. It was on the occasion of a long-sought audience with Bahá'u'lláh that, in response to a request for permission to render Him some service, the suggestion was made to him to restore the aqueduct which for thirty years had been allowed to fall into disuse—a suggestion which he immediately arose to carry out. To the inflow of pilgrims, among whom were numbered the devout and venerable Mullá Sádiq-i-Khurásání and the father of Badí, both survivors of the struggle of Tabarsí, he offered scarcely any opposition, though the text of the imperial farmán forbade their admission into the city. Mustafá Díyá Páshá, who became governor a few years later, had even gone so far as to intimate that his Prisoner was free to pass through its gates whenever He pleased, a suggestion which Bahá'u'lláh declined. Even the Muftí of 'Akká, Shaykh Mahmúd, a man notorious for his bigotry, had been converted to the Faith, and, fired by his newborn enthusiasm, made a compilation of the Muhammadan traditions related to 'Akká. Nor were the occasionally unsympathetic governors, despatched to that city, able, despite the arbitrary power they wielded, to check the forces which were carrying the Author of the Faith towards His virtual emancipation and the ultimate accomplishment of His purpose. Men of letters, and even 'ulamás residing in Syria, were moved, as the years rolled by, to voice their recognition of Bahá'u'lláh's rising greatness and power. 'Azíz Páshá, who, in Adrianople, had evinced a profound attachment to 'Abdu'l-Bahá, and had in the meantime been promoted to the rank of Valí, twice visited 'Akká for the express purpose of paying his respects to Bahá'u'lláh, and to renew his friendship with One Whom he had learned to admire and revere.  
192

Though Bahá'u'lláh Himself practically never granted personal interviews, as He had been used to do in Baghdád, yet such was the influence He now wielded that the inhabitants openly asserted that the noticeable improvement in the climate and water of their city was directly attributable to His continued presence in their midst. The very designations by which they chose to refer to him, such as the "august leader," and "his highness" bespoke the reverence with which He inspired them. On one occasion, a European general who, together with the governor, was granted an audience by Him, was so impressed that he "remained kneeling on the ground near the door." Shaykh 'Alíy-i-Mírí, the Muftí of 'Akká, had even, at the suggestion of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, to plead insistently that He might permit the termination of His nine-year confinement within the walls of the prison-city, before He would consent to leave its gates. The garden of Na'mayn, a small island, situated in the middle of a river to the east of the city, honored with the appellation of Ridván, and designated by Him the "New Jerusalem" and "Our Verdant Isle," had, together with the residence of 'Abdu'lláh Páshá,—rented and prepared for Him by 'Abdu'l-Bahá, and situated a few miles north of 'Akká—become by now the favorite retreats of One Who, for almost a decade, had not set foot beyond the city walls, and Whose sole exercise had been to pace, in monotonous repetition, the floor of His bed-chamber.  
193

Two years later the palace of 'Údí Khammár, on the construction of which so much wealth had been lavished, while Bahá'u'lláh lay imprisoned in the barracks, and which its owner had precipitately abandoned with his family owing to the outbreak of an epidemic disease, was rented and later purchased for Him—a dwelling-place which He characterized as the "lofty mansion," the spot which "God hath ordained as the most sublime vision of mankind." 'Abdu'l-Bahá's visit to Beirut, at the invitation of Midhat Páshá, a former Grand Vizir of Turkey, occurring about this time; His association with the civil and ecclesiastical leaders of that city; His several interviews with the well-known Shaykh Muhammad 'Abdu served to enhance immensely the growing prestige of the community and spread abroad the fame of its most distinguished member. The splendid welcome accorded him by the learned and highly esteemed Shaykh Yúsuf, the Muftí of Nazareth, who acted as host to the válís of Beirut, and who had despatched all the notables of the community several miles on the road to meet Him as He approached the town, accompanied by His brother and the Muftí of 'Akká, as well as the magnificent reception given by 'Abdu'l-Bahá to that same Shaykh Yúsuf when the latter visited Him in 'Akká, were such as to arouse the envy of those who, only a few years before, had treated Him and His fellow-exiles with feelings compounded of condescension and scorn.
["the palace of 'Údí Khammár..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 4, p. 104

["'Abdu'l-Bahá's visit to Beirut..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 4, p. 239

 
The drastic farmán of Sultán 'Abdu'l-'Azíz, though officially unrepealed, had by now become a dead letter. Though "Bahá'u'lláh was still nominally a prisoner, "the doors of majesty and true sovereignty were," in the words of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, "flung wide open." "The rulers of Palestine," He moreover has written, "envied His influence and power. Governors and mutisarrifs, generals and local officials, would humbly request the honor of attaining His presence—a request to which He seldom acceded."
The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 4, p. 241
 
It was in that same mansion that the distinguished Orientalist, Prof. E. G. Browne of Cambridge, was granted his four successive interviews with Bahá'u'lláh, during the five days he was His guest at Bahjí (April 15–20, 1890), interviews immortalized by the Exile's historic declaration that "these fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars shall pass away and the 'Most Great Peace' shall come." "The face of Him on Whom I gazed," is the interviewer's memorable testimony for posterity, "I can never forget, though I cannot describe it. Those piercing eyes seemed to read one's very soul; power and authority sat on that ample brow.… No need to ask in whose presence I stood, as I bowed myself before one who is the object of a devotion and love which kings might envy and emperors sigh for in vain." "Here," the visitor himself has testified, "did I spend five most memorable days, during which I enjoyed unparalleled and unhoped-for opportunities of holding intercourse with those who are the fountain-heads of that mighty and wondrous spirit, which works with invisible but ever-increasing force for the transformation and quickening of a people who slumber in a sleep like unto death. It was, in truth, a strange and moving experience, but one whereof I despair of conveying any save the feeblest impression."  
194

In that same year Bahá'u'lláh's tent, the "Tabernacle of Glory," was raised on Mt. Carmel, "the Hill of God and His Vineyard," the home of Elijah, extolled by Isaiah as the "mountain of the Lord," to which "all nations shall flow." Four times He visited Haifa, His last visit being no less than three months long. In the course of one of these visits, when His tent was pitched in the vicinity of the Carmelite Monastery, He, the "Lord of the Vineyard," revealed the Tablet of Carmel, remarkable for its allusions and prophecies. On another occasion He pointed out Himself to 'Abdu'l-Bahá, as He stood on the slopes of that mountain, the site which was to serve as the permanent resting-place of the Báb, and on which a befitting mausoleum was later to be erected.
The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 4, p. 358
 
Properties, bordering on the Lake associated with the ministry of Jesus Christ, were, moreover, purchased at Bahá'u'lláh's bidding, designed to be consecrated to the glory of His Faith, and to be the forerunners of those "noble and imposing structures" which He, in His Tablets, had anticipated would be raised "throughout the length and breadth" of the Holy Land, as well as of the "rich and sacred territories adjoining the Jordan and its vicinity," which, in those Tablets, He had permitted to be dedicated "to the worship and service of the one true God."    
The enormous expansion in the volume of Bahá'u'lláh's correspondence; the establishment of a Bahá'í agency in Alexandria for its despatch and distribution; the facilities provided by His staunch follower, Muhammad Mustafá, now established in Beirut to safeguard the interests of the pilgrims who passed through that city; the comparative ease with which a titular Prisoner communicated with the multiplying centers in Persia, 'Iráq, Caucasus, Turkistán, and Egypt; the mission entrusted by Him to Sulaymán Khán-i-Tanakábuní, known as Jamál Effendi, to initiate a systematic campaign of teaching in India and Burma; the appointment of a few of His followers as "Hands of the Cause of God"; the restoration of the Holy House in Shíráz, whose custodianship was now formally entrusted by Him to the Báb's wife and her sister; the conversion of a considerable number of the adherents of the Jewish, Zoroastrian and Buddhist Faiths, the first fruits of the zeal and the perseverance which itinerant teachers in Persia, India and Burma were so strikingly displaying—conversions that automatically resulted in a firm recognition by them of the Divine origin of both Christianity and Islám—all these attested the vitality of a leadership that neither kings nor ecclesiastics, however powerful or antagonistic, could either destroy or undermine.  
195

Nor should reference be omitted to the emergence of a prosperous community in the newly laid out city of 'Ishqábád, in Russian Turkistán, assured of the good will of a sympathetic government, enabling it to establish a Bahá'í cemetery and to purchase property and erect thereon structures that were to prove the precursors of the first Mashriqu'l-Adhkár of the Bahá'í world; or to the establishment of new outposts of the Faith in far-off Samarqand and Bukhárá, in the heart of the Asiatic continent, in consequence of the discourses and writings of the erudite Fádil-i-Qá'iní and the learned apologist Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl; or to the publication in India of five volumes of the writings of the Author of the Faith, including His "Most Holy Book"—publications which were to herald the vast multiplication of its literature, in various scripts and languages, and its dissemination, in later decades, throughout both the East and the West.    
"Sultán 'Abdu'l-'Azíz," Bahá'u'lláh is reported by one of His fellow-exiles to have stated, "banished Us to this country in the greatest abasement, and since his object was to destroy Us and humble Us, whenever the means of glory and ease presented themselves, We did not reject them." "Now, praise be to God," He, moreover, as reported by Nabíl in his narrative, once remarked, "it has reached the point when all the people of these regions are manifesting their submissiveness unto Us." And again, as recorded in that same narrative: "The Ottoman Sultán, without any justification, or reason, arose to oppress Us, and sent Us to the fortress of 'Akká. His imperial farmán decreed that none should associate with Us, and that We should become the object of the hatred of every one. The Hand of Divine power, therefore, swiftly avenged Us. It first loosed the winds of destruction upon his two irreplaceable ministers and confidants, 'Alí and Fu'ád, after which that Hand was stretched out to roll up the panoply of 'Azíz himself, and to seize him, as He only can seize, Who is the Mighty, the Strong."
The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 3, p. 419; vol. 4, p. 241
196

"His enemies," 'Abdu'l-Bahá, referring to this same theme, has written, "intended that His imprisonment should completely destroy and annihilate the blessed Cause, but this prison was, in reality, of the greatest assistance, and became the means of its development." "…This illustrious Being," He, moreover has affirmed, "uplifted His Cause in the Most Great Prison. From this Prison His light was shed abroad; His fame conquered the world, and the proclamation of His glory reached the East and the West." "His light at first had been a star; now it became a mighty sun." "Until our time," He, moreover has affirmed, "no such thing has ever occurred."
The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 3, p. 419; vol. 4, p. 242
 
Little wonder that, in view of so remarkable a reversal in the circumstances attending the twenty-four years of His banishment to 'Akká, Bahá'u'lláh Himself should have penned these weighty words: "The Almighty … hath transformed this Prison-House into the Most Exalted Paradise, the Heaven of Heavens."
The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 3, p. 419; vol. 4, p. 242
 

CHAPTER XII

Bahá'u'lláh's Incarceration in 'Akká (Continued)

 
197

While Bahá'u'lláh and the little band that bore Him company were being subjected to the severe hardships of a banishment intended to blot them from the face of the earth, the steadily expanding community of His followers in the land of His birth were undergoing a persecution more violent and of longer duration than the trials with which He and His companions were being afflicted. Though on a far smaller scale than the blood baths which had baptized the birth of the Faith, when in the course of a single year, as attested by 'Abdu'l-Bahá, "more than four thousand souls were slain, and a great multitude of women and children left without protector and helper," the murderous and horrible acts subsequently perpetrated by an insatiable and unyielding enemy covered as wide a range and were marked by an even greater degree of ferocity.    
Násiri'd-Dín Sháh, stigmatized by Bahá'u'lláh as the "Prince of Oppressors," as one who had "perpetrated what hath caused the denizens of the cities of justice and equity to lament," was, during the period under review, in the full tide of his manhood and had reached the plenitude of his despotic power. The sole arbiter of the fortunes of a country "firmly stereotyped in the immemorial traditions of the East"; surrounded by "venal, artful and false" ministers whom he could elevate or abase at his pleasure; the head of an administration in which "every actor was, in different aspects, both the briber and the bribed"; allied, in his opposition to the Faith, with a sacerdotal order which constituted a veritable "church-state"; supported by a people preeminent in atrocity, notorious for its fanaticism, its servility, cupidity and corrupt practices, this capricious monarch, no longer able to lay hands upon the person of Bahá'u'lláh, had to content himself with the task of attempting to stamp out in his own dominions the remnants of a much-feared and newly resuscitated community. Next to him in rank and power were his three eldest sons, to whom, for purposes of internal administration, he had practically delegated his authority, and in whom he had invested the governorship of all the provinces of his kingdom. The province of Ádhirbáyján he had entrusted to the weak and timid Muzaffari'd-Dín Mírzá, the heir to his throne, who had fallen under the influence of the Shaykhí sect, and was showing a marked respect to the mullás. To the stern and savage rule of the astute Mas'úd Mírzá, commonly known as Zillu's-Sultán, his eldest surviving son, whose mother had been of plebeian origin, he had committed over two-fifths of his kingdom, including the provinces of Yazd and Isfahán, whilst upon Kámrán Mírzá, his favorite son, commonly called by his title the Náyibu's-Saltanih, he had bestowed the rulership of Gílán and Mázindarán, and made him governor of Tihrán, his minister of war and the commander-in-chief of his army. Such was the rivalry between the last two princes, who vied with each other in courting the favor of their father, that each endeavored, with the support of the leading mujtahids within his jurisdiction, to outshine the other in the meritorious task of hunting, plundering and exterminating the members of a defenseless community, who, at the bidding of Bahá'u'lláh, had ceased to offer armed resistance even in self-defense, and were carrying out His injunction that "it is better to be killed than kill." Nor were the clerical firebrands, Hájí Mullá 'Alíy-i-Kání and Siyyid Sádiq-i-Tabátabá'í, the two leading mujtahids of Tihrán, together with Shaykh Muhammad-Báqir, their colleague in Isfahán, and Mír Muhammad-Husayn, the Imám-Jum'ih of that city, willing to allow the slightest opportunity to pass without striking, with all the force and authority they wielded, at an adversary whose liberalizing influences they had even more reason to fear than the sovereign himself.
[Mír Muhammad Husayn] Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 203
198

Little wonder that, confronted by a situation so full of peril, the Faith should have been driven underground, and that arrests, interrogations, imprisonment, vituperation, spoliation, tortures and executions should constitute the outstanding features of this convulsive period in its development. The pilgrimages that had been initiated in Adrianople, and which later assumed in 'Akká impressive proportions, together with the dissemination of the Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh and the circulation of enthusiastic reports through the medium of those who had attained His presence served, moreover, to inflame the animosity of clergy and laity alike, who had foolishly imagined that the breach which had occurred in the ranks of the followers of the Faith in Adrianople and the sentence of life banishment pronounced subsequently against its Leader, would seal irretrievably its fate.
Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh
 
In Ábádih a certain Ustád 'Alí-Akbar was, at the instigation of a local Siyyid, apprehended and so ruthlessly thrashed that he was covered from head to foot with his own blood. In the village of Tákúr, at the bidding of the Sháh, the property of the inhabitants was pillaged, Hájí Mírzá Ridá-Qulí, a half-brother of Bahá'u'lláh, was arrested, conducted to the capital and thrown into the Síyáh-Chál, where he remained for a month, whilst the brother-in-law of Mírzá Hasan, another half-brother of Bahá'u'lláh, was seized and branded with red-hot irons, after which the neighboring village of Dár-Kalá was delivered to the flames.  
199

Áqá Buzurg of Khurásán, the illustrious "Badí'" (Wonderful); converted to the Faith by Nabíl; surnamed the "Pride of Martyrs"; the seventeen-year old bearer of the Tablet addressed to Násiri'd-Dín Sháh; in whom, as affirmed by Bahá'u'lláh, "the spirit of might and power was breathed," was arrested, branded for three successive days, his head beaten to a pulp with the butt of a rifle, after which his body was thrown into a pit and earth and stones heaped upon it. After visiting Bahá'u'lláh in the barracks, during the second year of His confinement, he had arisen with amazing alacrity to carry that Tablet, alone and on foot, to Tihrán and deliver it into the hands of the sovereign. A four months' journey had taken him to that city, and, after passing three days in fasting and vigilance, he had met the Sháh proceeding on a hunting expedition to Shimírán. He had calmly and respectfully approached His Majesty, calling out, "O King! I have come to thee from Sheba with a weighty message"; whereupon at the Sovereign's order, the Tablet was taken from him and delivered to the mujtahids of Tihrán who were commanded to reply to that Epistle—a command which they evaded, recommending instead that the messenger should be put to death. That Tablet was subsequently forwarded by the Sháh to the Persian Ambassador in Constantinople, in the hope that its perusal by the Sultán's ministers might serve to further inflame their animosity. For a space of three years Bahá'u'lláh continued to extol in His writings the heroism of that youth, characterizing the references made by Him to that sublime sacrifice as the "salt of My Tablets."
[Badí'] Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 73; The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, Vol. 3, Ch. 9
 
Abá-Basír and Siyyid Ashraf, whose fathers had been slain in the struggle of Zanján, were decapitated on the same day in that city, the former going so far as to instruct, while kneeling in prayer, his executioner as to how best to deal his blow, while the latter, after having been so brutally beaten that blood flowed from under his nails, was beheaded, as he held in his arms the body of his martyred companion. It was the mother of this same Ashraf who, when sent to the prison in the hope that she would persuade her only son to recant, had warned him that she would disown him were he to denounce his faith, had bidden him follow the example of Abá-Basír, and had even watched him expire with eyes undimmed with tears. The wealthy and prominent Muhammad-Hasan Khán-i-Káshí was so mercilessly bastinadoed in Burújird that he succumbed to his ordeal. In Shíráz Mírzá Áqáy-i-Rikáb-Sáz, together with Mírzá Rafí'-i-Khayyát and Mashhadí Nabí, were by order of the local mujtahid simultaneously strangled in the dead of night, their graves being later desecrated by a mob who heaped refuse upon them. Shaykh Abu'l-Qásim-i-Mázkání in Káshán, who had declined a drink of water that was offered him before his death, affirming that he thirsted for the cup of martyrdom, was dealt a fatal blow on the nape of his neck, whilst he was prostrating himself in prayer.
['Abá-Basír and Siyyid Ashraf-i-Zanjání'], The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, pp. 223-32; Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 73; Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 135.
200

Mírzá Báqir-i-Shírází, who had transcribed the Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh in Adrianople with such unsparing devotion, was slain in Kirmán, while in Ardikán the aged and infirm Gul-Muhammad was set upon by a furious mob, thrown to the ground, and so trampled upon by the hob-nailed boots of two siyyids that his ribs were crushed in and his teeth broken, after which his body was taken to the outskirts of the town and buried in a pit, only to be dug up the next day, dragged through the streets, and finally abandoned in the wilderness. In the city of Mashhad, notorious for its unbridled fanaticism, Hájí 'Abdu'l-Majíd, who was the eighty-five year old father of the afore-mentioned Badí' and a survivor of the struggle of Tabarsí, and who, after the martyrdom of his son, had visited Bahá'u'lláh and returned afire with zeal to Khurásán, was ripped open from waist to throat, and his head exposed on a marble slab to the gaze of a multitude of insulting onlookers, who, after dragging his body ignominiously through the bazaars, left it at the morgue to be claimed by his relatives.
Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh
 
In Isfahán Mullá Kázim was beheaded by order of Shaykh Muhammad-Báqir, and a horse made to gallop over his corpse, which was then delivered to the flames, while Siyyid Áqá Ján had his ears cut off, and was led by a halter through the streets and bazaars. A month later occurred in that same city the tragedy of the two famous brothers Mírzá Muhammad-Hasan and Mírzá Muhammad-Husayn, the "twin shining lights," respectively surnamed "Sultánu'sh-Shuhadá" (King of Martyrs) and "Mahbúbu'sh-Shuhadá" (Beloved of Martyrs), who were celebrated for their generosity, trustworthiness, kindliness and piety. Their martyrdom was instigated by the wicked and dishonest Mír Muhammad-Husayn, the Imám-Jum'ih, stigmatized by Bahá'u'lláh as the "she-serpent," who, in view of a large debt he had incurred in his transactions with them, schemed to nullify his obligations by denouncing them as Bábís, and thereby encompassing their death. Their richly-furnished houses were plundered, even to the trees and flowers in their gardens, all their remaining possessions were confiscated; Shaykh Muhammad-Báqir, denounced by Bahá'u'lláh as the "wolf," pronounced their death-sentence; the Zillu's-Sultán ratified the decision, after which they were put in chains, decapitated, dragged to the Maydán-i-Sháh, and there exposed to the indignities heaped upon them by a degraded and rapacious populace. "In such wise," 'Abdu'l-Bahá has written, "was the blood of these two brothers shed that the Christian priest of Julfá cried out, lamented and wept on that day." For several years Bahá'u'lláh in His Tablets continued to make mention of them, to voice His grief over their passing and to extol their virtues.
Lawh-i-Burhán
201

Mullá 'Alí Ján was conducted on foot from Mázindarán to Tihrán, the hardships of that journey being so severe that his neck was wounded and his body swollen from the waist to the feet. On the day of his martyrdom he asked for water, performed his ablutions, recited his prayers, bestowed a considerable gift of money on his executioner, and was still in the act of prayer when his throat was slit by a dagger, after which his corpse was spat upon, covered with mud, left exposed for three days, and finally hewn to pieces. In Námiq Mullá 'Alí, converted to the Faith in the days of the Báb, was so severely attacked and his ribs so badly broken with a pick-axe that he died immediately. Mírzá Ashraf was slain in Isfahán, his corpse trampled under foot by Shaykh Muhammad Taqíy-i-Najafí, the "son of the wolf," and his pupils, savagely mutilated, and delivered to the mob to be burnt, after which his charred bones were buried beneath the ruins of a wall that was pulled down to cover them.
[Mullá 'Alí Ján] Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 73; The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 4, pp. 386-7

[Mírzá Ashraf] Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 79

 
In Yazd, at the instigation of the mujtahid of that city, and by order of the callous Mahmúd Mírzá, the Jalúlu'l-Dawlih, the governor, a son of Zillu's-Sultán, seven were done to death in a single day in horrible circumstances. The first of these, a twenty-seven year old youth, 'Alí-Asghar, was strangled, his body delivered into the hands of some Jews who, forcing the dead man's six companions to come with them, dragged the corpse through the streets, surrounded by a mob of people and soldiers beating drums and blowing trumpets, after which, arriving near the Telegraph Office, they beheaded the eighty-five year old Mullá Mihdí and dragged him in the same manner to another quarter of the city, where, in view of a great throng of onlookers, frenzied by the throbbing strains of the music, they executed Áqá 'Alí in like manner. Proceeding thence to the house of the local mujtahid, and carrying with them the four remaining companions, they cut the throat of Mullá 'Alíy-i-Sabzivárí, who had been addressing the crowd and glorying in his imminent martyrdom, hacked his body to pieces with a spade, while he was still alive, and pounded his skull to a pulp with stones. In another quarter, near the Mihríz gate, they slew Muhammad-Báqir, and afterwards, in the Maydán-i-Khán, as the music grew wilder and drowned the yells of the people, they beheaded the survivors who remained, two brothers in their early twenties, 'Alí-Asghar and Muhammad-Hasan. The stomach of the latter was ripped open and his heart and liver plucked out, after which his head was impaled on a spear, carried aloft, to the accompaniment of music, through the streets of the city, and suspended on a mulberry tree, and stoned by a great concourse of people. His body was cast before the door of his mother's house, into which women deliberately entered to dance and make merry. Even pieces of their flesh were carried away to be used as a medicament. Finally, the head of Muhammad-Hasan was attached to the lower part of his body and, together with those of the other martyrs, was borne to the outskirts of the city and so viciously pelted with stones that the skulls were broken, whereupon they compelled the Jews to carry the remains and throw them into a pit in the plain of Salsabíl. A holiday was declared by the governor for the people, all the shops were closed by his order, the city was illuminated at night, and festivities proclaimed the consummation of one of the most barbarous acts perpetrated in modern times.
The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 4, p. 347
202

Nor were the Jews and the Parsis who had been newly converted to the Faith, and were living, the former in Hamadán, and the latter in Yazd, immune to the assaults of enemies whose fury was exasperated by the evidences of the penetration of the light of the Faith in quarters they had fondly imagined to be beyond its reach. Even in the city of 'Ishqábád the newly established Shí'ah community, envious of the rising prestige of the followers of Bahá'u'lláh who were living in their midst, instigated two ruffians to assault the seventy-year old Hájí Muhammad-Ridáy-i-Isfahání, whom, in broad day and in the midst of the bazaar, they stabbed in no less than thirty-two places, exposing his liver, lacerating his stomach and tearing open his breast. A military court dispatched by the Czar to 'Ishqábád established, after prolonged investigation, the guilt of the Shí'ahs, sentencing two to death and banishing six others—a sentence which neither Násiri'd-Dín Sháh, nor the 'ulamás of Tihrán, of Mashhad and of Tabríz, who were appealed to, could mitigate, but which the representatives of the aggrieved community, through their magnanimous intercession which greatly surprised the Russian authorities, succeeded in having commuted to a lighter punishment.  
203

Such are some typical examples of the treatment meted out by the adversaries of the Faith to the newly resurgent community of its followers during the period of Bahá'u'lláh's banishment to 'Akká—a treatment which it may be truly said testified alternately to "the callousness of the brute and the ingenuity of the fiend."    
The "inquisition and appalling tortures," following the attempt on the life of Násiri'd-Dín Sháh, had already, in the words of no less eminent an observer than Lord Curzon of Kedleston, imparted to the Faith "a vitality which no other impulse could have secured." This recrudescence of persecution, this fresh outpouring of the blood of martyrs, served to further enliven the roots which that holy Sapling had already struck in its native soil. Careless of the policy of fire and blood which aimed at their annihilation, undismayed by the tragic blows rained upon a Leader so far removed from their midst, uncorrupted by the foul and seditious acts perpetrated by the Arch-Breaker of the Báb's Covenant, the followers of Bahá'u'lláh were multiplying in number and silently gathering the necessary strength that was to enable them, at a later stage, to lift their heads in freedom, and rear the fabric of their institutions.    
Soon after his visit to Persia in the autumn of 1889 Lord Curzon of Kedleston wrote, in the course of references designed to dispel the "great confusion" and "error" prevailing "among European and specially English writers" regarding the Faith, that "the Bahá'ís are now believed to comprise nineteen-twentieths of the Bábí persuasion." Count Gobineau, writing as far back as the year 1865, testified as follows: "L'opinion générale est que les Bábís sont répandus dans toutes les classes de la population et parmi tous les religionnaires de la Perse, sauf les Nusayrís et les Chrétiens; mais ce sont surtout les classes éclairées, les hommes pratiquant les sciences du pays, qui sont donnés comme très suspects. On pense, et avec raison, ce semble, que beaucoup de mullás, et parmi eux des mujtahids considérables, des magistrats d'un rang élevé, des hommes qui occupent à la cour des fonctions importantes et qui approchent de près la personne du Roi, sont des Bábís. D'après un calcul fait récemment, il y aurait a Tihrán cinq milles de ces religionnaires sur une population de quatre-vingt milles âmes a peu près." Furthermore: "…Le Bábisme a pris une action considérable sur l'intelligence de la nation persane, et, se rependant même au delâ des limites du territoire, il a débordé dans le pachalik de Baghdád, et passé aussi dans l'Inde." And again: "…Un mouvement religieux tout particulier dont l'Asie Centrale, c'est-à-dire la Perse, quelques points de l'Inde et une partie de la Turquie d'Asie, aux environs de Baghdád, est aujourd'hui vivement préoccupée, mouvement remarquable et digne d'être étudié à tous les titres. Il permet d'assister à des développements de faits, à des manifestations, à des catastrophes telles que l'on n'est pas habitué à les imaginer ailleurs que dans les temps reculés où se sont produites les grandes religions."  
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"These changes, however," Lord Curzon, alluding to the Declaration of the Mission of Bahá'u'lláh and the rebellion of Mírzá Yahyá, has, moreover written, "have in no wise impaired, but appear on the contrary, to have stimulated its propaganda, which has advanced with a rapidity inexplicable to those who can only see therein a crude form of political or even of metaphysical fermentation. The lowest estimate places the present number of Bábís in Persia at half a million. I am disposed to think, from conversations with persons well qualified to judge, that the total is nearer one million." "They are to be found," he adds, "in every walk of life, from the ministers and nobles of the Court to the scavenger or the groom, not the least arena of their activity being the Musulmán priesthood itself." "From the facts," is another testimony of his, "that Bábism in its earliest years found itself in conflict with the civil powers, and that an attempt was made by Bábís upon the life of the Sháh, it has been wrongly inferred that the movement was political in origin and Nihilist in character … At the present time the Bábís are equally loyal with any other subjects of the Crown. Nor does there appear to be any greater justice in the charges of socialism, communism and immorality that have so freely been levelled at the youthful persuasion … The only communism known to and recommended by Him (the Báb) was that of the New Testament and the early Christian Church, viz., the sharing of goods in common by members of the Faith, and the exercise of alms-giving, and an ample charity. The charge of immorality seems to have arisen partly from the malignant inventions of opponents, partly from the much greater freedom claimed for women by the Báb, which in the oriental mind is scarcely dissociable from profligacy of conduct." And, finally, the following prognostication from his pen: "If Bábism continues to grow at its present rate of progression, a time may conceivably come when it will oust Muhammadanism from the field in Persia. This, I think, it would be unlikely to do, did it appear upon the ground under the flag of a hostile faith. But since its recruits are won from the best soldiers of the garrison whom it is attacking, there is greater reason to believe that it may ultimately prevail."  
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Bahá'u'lláh's incarceration in the prison-fortress of 'Akká, the manifold tribulations He endured, the prolonged ordeal to which the community of His followers in Persia was being subjected, did not arrest, nor could they even impede, to the slightest degree, the mighty stream of Divine Revelation, which, without interruption, had been flowing from His pen, and on which the future orientation, the integrity, the expansion and the consolidation of His Faith directly depended. Indeed, in their scope and volume, His writings, during the years of His confinement in the Most Great Prison, surpassed the outpourings of His pen in either Adrianople or Baghdád. More remarkable than the radical transformation in the circumstances of His own life in 'Akká, more far-reaching in its spiritual consequences than the campaign of repression pursued so relentlessly by the enemies of His Faith in the land of His birth, this unprecedented extension in the range of His writings, during His exile in that Prison, must rank as one of the most vitalizing and fruitful stages in the evolution of His Faith.    
The tempestuous winds that swept the Faith at the inception of His ministry and the wintry desolation that marked the beginnings of His prophetic career, soon after His banishment from Tihrán, were followed during the latter part of His sojourn in Baghdád, by what may be described as the vernal years of His Mission—years which witnessed the bursting into visible activity of the forces inherent in that Divine Seed that had lain dormant since the tragic removal of His Forerunner. With His arrival in Adrianople and the proclamation of His Mission the Orb of His Revelation climbed as it were to its zenith, and shone, as witnessed by the style and tone of His writings, in the plenitude of its summer glory. The period of His incarceration in 'Akká brought with it the ripening of a slowly maturing process, and was a period during which the choicest fruits of that mission were ultimately garnered.    
The writings of Bahá'u'lláh during this period, as we survey the vast field which they embrace, seem to fall into three distinct categories. The first comprises those writings which constitute the sequel to the proclamation of His Mission in Adrianople. The second includes the laws and ordinances of His Dispensation, which, for the most part, have been recorded in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, His Most Holy Book. To the third must be assigned those Tablets which partly enunciate and partly reaffirm the fundamental tenets and principles underlying that Dispensation.
The Kitáb-i-Aqdas
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The Proclamation of His Mission had been, as already observed, directed particularly to the kings of the earth, who, by virtue of the power and authority they wielded, were invested with a peculiar and inescapable responsibility for the destinies of their subjects. It was to these kings, as well as to the world's religious leaders, who exercised a no less pervasive influence on the mass of their followers, that the Prisoner of 'Akká directed His appeals, warnings, and exhortations during the first years of His incarceration in that city. "Upon Our arrival at this Prison," He Himself affirms, "We purposed to transmit to the kings the messages of their Lord, the Mighty, the All-Praised. Though We have transmitted to them, in several Tablets, that which We were commanded, yet We do it once again, as a token of God's grace."    
To the kings of the earth, both in the East and in the West, both Christian and Muslim, who had already been collectively admonished and warned in the Súriy-i-Mulúk revealed in Adrianople, and had been so vehemently summoned by the Báb, in the opening chapter of the Qayyúmu'l-Asmá', on the very night of the Declaration of His Mission, Bahá'u'lláh, during the darkest days of His confinement in 'Akká, addressed some of the noblest passages of His Most Holy Book. In these passages He called upon them to take fast hold of the "Most Great Law"; proclaimed Himself to be "the King of Kings" and "the Desire of all Nations"; declared them to be His "vassals" and "emblems of His sovereignty"; disclaimed any intention of laying hands on their kingdoms; bade them forsake their palaces, and hasten to gain admittance into His Kingdom; extolled the king who would arise to aid His Cause as "the very eye of mankind"; and finally arraigned them for the things which had befallen Him at their hands.
[Súriy-i-Mulúk] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 301

[Qayyúmu'l-Asmá] The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 165, 216; The Kitáb-i-Íqán, p. 231 ; The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh vol. 1 Index, vol. 2 p. 179, 303, vol. 4 Index

 
In His Tablet to Queen Victoria He, moreover, invites these kings to hold fast to "the Lesser Peace," since they had refused "the Most Great Peace"; exhorts them to be reconciled among themselves, to unite and to reduce their armaments; bids them refrain from laying excessive burdens on their subjects, who, He informs them, are their "wards" and "treasures"; enunciates the principle that should any one among them take up arms against another, all should rise against him; and warns them not to deal with Him as the "King of Islám" and his ministers had dealt.  
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To the Emperor of the French, Napoleon III, the most prominent and influential monarch of his day in the West, designated by Him as the "Chief of Sovereigns," and who, to quote His words, had "cast behind his back" the Tablet revealed for him in Adrianople, He, while a prisoner in the army barracks, addressed a second Tablet and transmitted it through the French agent in 'Akká. In this He announces the coming of "Him Who is the Unconstrained," whose purpose is to "quicken the world" and unite its peoples; unequivocally asserts that Jesus Christ was the Herald of His Mission; proclaims the fall of "the stars of the firmament of knowledge," who have turned aside from Him; exposes that monarch's insincerity; and clearly prophesies that his kingdom shall be "thrown into confusion," that his "empire shall pass" from his hands, and that "commotions shall seize all the people in that land," unless he arises to help the Cause of God and follow Him Who is His Spirit.    
In memorable passages addressed to "the Rulers of America and the Presidents of the Republics therein" He, in His Kitáb-i-Aqdas, calls upon them to "adorn the temple of dominion with the ornament of justice and of the fear of God, and its head with the crown of remembrance" of their Lord; declares that "the Promised One" has been made manifest; counsels them to avail themselves of the "Day of God"; and bids them "bind with the hands of justice the broken" and "crush" the "oppressor" with "the rod of the commandments of their Lord, the Ordainer, the All-Wise."
["O Rulers of America..."] The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶88
 
To Nicolaevitch Alexander II, the all-powerful Czar of Russia, He addressed, as He lay a prisoner in the barracks, an Epistle wherein He announces the advent of the promised Father, Whom "the tongue of Isaiah hath extolled," and "with Whose name both the Torah and the Evangel were adorned"; commands him to "arise … and summon the nations unto God"; warns him to beware lest his sovereignty withhold him from "Him Who is the Supreme Sovereign"; acknowledges the aid extended by his Ambassador in Tihrán; and cautions him not to forfeit the station ordained for him by God.    
To Queen Victoria He, during that same period, addressed an Epistle in which He calls upon her to incline her ear to the voice of her Lord, the Lord of all mankind; bids her "cast away all that is on earth," and set her heart towards her Lord, the Ancient of Days; asserts that "all that hath been mentioned in the Gospel hath been fulfilled"; assures her that God would reward her for having "forbidden the trading in slaves," were she to follow what has been sent unto her by Him; commends her for having "entrusted the reins of counsel into the hands of the representatives of the people"; and exhorts them to "regard themselves as the representatives of all that dwell on earth," and to judge between men with "pure justice."  
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In a celebrated passage addressed to William I, King of Prussia and newly-acclaimed emperor of a unified Germany, He, in His Kitáb-i-Aqdas, bids the sovereign hearken to His Voice, the Voice of God Himself; warns him to take heed lest his pride debar him from recognizing "the Day-Spring of Divine Revelation," and admonishes him to "remember the one (Napoleon III) whose power transcended" his power, and who "went down to dust in great loss." Furthermore, in that same Book, apostrophizing the "banks of the Rhine," He predicts that "the swords of retribution" would be drawn against them, and that "the lamentations of Berlin" would be raised, though at that time she was "in conspicuous glory."
["the Dayspring of Divine Revelation..."] The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶86
 
In another notable passage of that same Book, addressed to Francis-Joseph, the Austrian Emperor and heir of the Holy Roman Empire, Bahá'u'lláh reproves the sovereign for having neglected to inquire about Him in the course of a pilgrimage to Jerusalem; takes God to witness that He had found him "clinging unto the Branch and heedless of the Root"; grieves to observe his waywardness; and bids him open his eyes and gaze on "the Light that shineth above this luminous Horizon."    
To 'Alí Páshá, the Grand Vizir of the Sultán of Turkey He addressed, shortly after His arrival in 'Akká, a second Tablet, in which He reprimands him for his cruelty "that hath made hell to blaze and the Spirit to lament"; recounts his acts of oppression; condemns him as one of those who, from time immemorial, have denounced the Prophets as stirrers of mischief; prophesies his downfall; expatiates on His own sufferings and those of His fellow-exiles; extolls their fortitude and detachment; predicts that God's "wrathful anger" will seize him and his government, that "sedition will be stirred up" in their midst, and that their "dominions will be disrupted"; and affirms that were he to awake, he would abandon all his possessions, and would "choose to abide in one of the dilapidated rooms of this Most Great Prison." In the Lawh-i-Fu'ád, in the course of His reference to the premature death of the Sultán's Foreign Minister, Fu'ád Páshá, He thus confirms His above-mentioned prediction: "Soon will We dismiss the one ('Alí Páshá) who was like unto him and will lay hold on their Chief (Sultán 'Abdu'l-'Azíz) who ruleth the land, and I, verily, am the Almighty, the All-Compelling."
[Lawh-i-Fu'ád] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 3, p. 87
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No less outspoken and emphatic are the messages, some embodied in specific Tablets, others interspersed through His writings, which Bahá'u'lláh addressed to the world's ecclesiastical leaders of all denominations—messages in which He discloses, clearly and unreservedly, the claims of His Revelation, summons them to heed His call, and denounces, in certain specific cases, their perversity, their extreme arrogance and tyranny.    
In immortal passages of His Kitáb-i-Aqdas and other Tablets He bids the entire company of these ecclesiastical leaders to "fear God," to "rein in" their pens, "fling away idle fancies and imaginings, and turn then towards the Horizon of Certitude"; warns them to "weigh not the Book of God (Kitáb-i-Aqdas) with such standards and sciences as are current" amongst them; designates that same Book as the "Unerring Balance established amongst men"; laments over their blindness and waywardness; asserts His superiority in vision, insight, utterance and wisdom; proclaims His innate and God-given knowledge; cautions them not to "shut out the people by yet another veil," after He Himself had "rent the veils asunder"; accuses them of having been "the cause of the repudiation of the Faith in its early days"; and adjures them to "peruse with fairness and justice that which hath been sent down" by Him, and to "nullify not the Truth" with the things they possess.
["weigh not the Book of God..."] The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶99
 
To Pope Pius IX, the undisputed head of the most powerful Church in Christendom, possessor of both temporal and spiritual authority, He, a Prisoner in the army barracks of the penal-colony of 'Akká, addressed a most weighty Epistle, in which He announces that "He Who is the Lord of Lords is come overshadowed with clouds," and that "the Word which the Son concealed is made manifest." He, moreover, warns him not to dispute with Him even as the Pharisees of old disputed with Jesus Christ; bids him leave his palaces unto such as desire them, "sell all the embellished ornaments" in his possession, "expend them in the path of God," abandon his kingdom unto the kings, "arise … amidst the peoples of the earth," and summon them to His Faith. Regarding him as one of the suns of the heaven of God's names, He cautions him to guard himself lest "darkness spread its veils" over him; calls upon him to "exhort the kings" to "deal equitably with men"; and counsels him to walk in the footsteps of his Lord, and follow His example.    
To the patriarchs of the Christian Church He issued a specific summons in which He proclaims the coming of the Promised One; exhorts them to "fear God" and not to follow "the vain imaginings of the superstitious"; and directs them to lay aside the things they possess and "take fast hold of the Tablet of God by His sovereign power." To the archbishops of that Church He similarly declares that "He Who is the Lord of all men hath appeared," that they are "numbered with the dead," and that great is the blessedness of him who is "stirred by the breeze of God, and hath arisen from amongst the dead in this perspicuous Name." In passages addressed to its bishops He proclaims that "the Everlasting Father calleth aloud between earth and heaven," pronounces them to be the fallen stars of the heaven of His knowledge, and affirms that His body "yearneth for the cross" and His head is "eager for the spear in the path of the All-Merciful." The concourse of Christian priests He bids "leave the bells," and come forth from their churches; exhorts them to "proclaim aloud the Most Great Name among the nations"; assures them that whoever will summon men in His Name will "show forth that which is beyond the power of all that are on earth"; warns them that the "Day of Reckoning hath appeared"; and counsels them to turn with their hearts to their "Lord, the Forgiving, the Generous." In numerous passages addressed to the "concourse of monks" He bids them not to seclude themselves in churches and cloisters, but to occupy themselves with that which will profit their souls and the souls of men; enjoins them to enter into wedlock; and affirms that if they choose to follow Him He will make them heirs of His Kingdom, and that if they transgress against Him, He will, in His long-suffering, endure it patiently.  
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And finally, in several passages addressed to the entire body of the followers of Jesus Christ He identifies Himself with the "Father" spoken of by Isaiah, with the "Comforter" Whose Covenant He Who is the Spirit (Jesus) had Himself established, and with the "Spirit of Truth" Who will guide them "into all truth"; proclaims His Day to be the Day of God; announces the conjunction of the river Jordan with the "Most Great Ocean"; asserts their heedlessness as well as His own claim to have opened unto them "the gates of the kingdom"; affirms that the promised "Temple" has been built "with the hands of the will" of their Lord, the Mighty, the Bounteous; bids them "rend the veils asunder," and enter in His name His Kingdom; recalls the saying of Jesus to Peter; and assures them that, if they choose to follow Him, He will make them to become "quickeners of mankind."    
To the entire body of Muslim ecclesiastics Bahá'u'lláh specifically devoted innumerable passages in His Books and Tablets, wherein He, in vehement language, denounces their cruelty; condemns their pride and arrogance; calls upon them to lay aside the things they possess, to hold their peace, and give ear to the words He has spoken; and asserts that, by reason of their deeds, "the exalted station of the people hath been abased, the standard of Islám hath been reversed, and its mighty throne hath fallen." To the "concourse of Persian divines" He more particularly addressed His condemnatory words in which He stigmatizes their deeds, and prophesies that their "glory will be turned into the most wretched abasement," and that they shall behold the punishment which will be inflicted upon them, "as decreed by God, the Ordainer, the All-Wise."  
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To the Jewish people, He, moreover, announced that the Most Great Law has come, that "the Ancient Beauty ruleth upon the throne of David," Who cries aloud and invokes His Name, that "from Zion hath appeared that which was hidden," and that "from Jerusalem is heard the Voice of God, the One, the Incomparable, the Omniscient."    
To the "high priests" of the Zoroastrian Faith He, furthermore, proclaimed that "the Incomparable Friend" is manifest, that He "speaketh that wherein lieth salvation," that "the Hand of Omnipotence is stretched forth from behind the clouds," that the tokens of His majesty and greatness are unveiled; and declared that "no man's acts shall be acceptable in this day unless he forsaketh mankind and all that men possess, and setteth his face towards the Omnipotent One."    
Some of the weightiest passages of His Epistle to Queen Victoria are addressed to the members of the British Legislature, the Mother of Parliaments, as well as to the elected representatives of the peoples in other lands. In these He asserts that His purpose is to quicken the world and unite its peoples; refers to the treatment meted out to Him by His enemies; exhorts the legislators to "take counsel together," and to concern themselves only "with that which profiteth mankind"; and affirms that the "sovereign remedy" for the "healing of all the world" is the "union of all its peoples in one universal Cause, one common Faith," which can "in no wise be achieved except through the power of a skilled and all-powerful and inspired Physician." He, moreover, in His Most Holy Book, has enjoined the selection of a single language and the adoption of a common script for all on earth to use, an injunction which, when carried out, would, as He Himself affirms in that Book, be one of the signs of the "coming of age of the human race."    
No less significant are the words addressed separately by Him to the "people of the Bayán," to the wise men of the world, to its poets, to its men of letters, to its mystics and even to its tradesmen, in which He exhorts them to be attentive to His voice, to recognize His Day, and to follow His bidding.  
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Such in sum are the salient features of the concluding utterances of that historic Proclamation, the opening notes of which were sounded during the latter part of Bahá'u'lláh's banishment to Adrianople, and which closed during the early years of His incarceration in the prison-fortress of 'Akká. Kings and emperors, severally and collectively; the chief magistrates of the Republics of the American continent; ministers and ambassadors; the Sovereign Pontiff himself; the Vicar of the Prophet of Islám; the royal Trustee of the Kingdom of the Hidden Imám; the monarchs of Christendom, its patriarchs, archbishops, bishops, priests and monks; the recognized leaders of both the Sunní and Shí'ah sacerdotal orders; the high priests of the Zoroastrian religion; the philosophers, the ecclesiastical leaders, the wise men and the inhabitants of Constantinople—that proud seat of both the Sultanate and the Caliphate; the entire company of the professed adherents of the Zoroastrian, the Jewish, the Christian and Muslim Faiths; the people of the Bayán; the wise men of the world, its men of letters, its poets, its mystics, its tradesmen, the elected representatives of its peoples; His own countrymen—all have, at one time or another, in books, Epistles, and Tablets, been brought directly within the purview of the exhortations, the warnings, the appeals, the declarations and the prophecies which constitute the theme of His momentous summons to the leaders of mankind—a summons which stands unparalleled in the annals of any previous religion, and to which the messages directed by the Prophet of Islám to some of the rulers among His contemporaries alone offer a faint resemblance.    
"Never since the beginning of the world," Bahá'u'lláh Himself affirms, "hath the Message been so openly proclaimed." "Each one of them," He, specifically referring to the Tablets addressed by Him to the sovereigns of the earth—Tablets acclaimed by 'Abdu'l-Bahá as a "miracle"—has written, "hath been designated by a special name. The first hath been named 'The Rumbling,' the second 'The Blow,' the third 'The Inevitable,' the fourth 'The Plain,' the fifth 'The Catastrophe,' and the others 'The Stunning Trumpet-Blast,' 'The Near Event,' 'The Great Terror,' 'The Trumpet,' 'The Bugle,' and the like, so that all the peoples of the earth may know, of a certainty, and may witness, with outward and inner eyes, that He Who is the Lord of Names hath prevailed, and will continue to prevail, under all conditions, over all men." The most important of these Tablets, together with the celebrated Súriy-i-Haykal (the Súrih of the Temple), He, moreover, ordered to be written in the shape of a pentacle, symbolizing the temple of man, and which He identified, when addressing the followers of the Gospel in one of His Tablets, with the "Temple" mentioned by the Prophet Zechariah, and designated as "the resplendent dawning-place of the All-Merciful," and which "the hands of the power of Him Who is the Causer of Causes" had built.
The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 3, p. 110

[Súriy-i-Haykal] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 3, p. 133

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Unique and stupendous as was this Proclamation, it proved to be but a prelude to a still mightier revelation of the creative power of its Author, and to what may well rank as the most signal act of His ministry—the promulgation of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. Alluded to in the Kitáb-Íqán; the principal repository of that Law which the Prophet Isaiah had anticipated, and which the writer of the Apocalypse had described as the "new heaven" and the "new earth," as "the Tabernacle of God," as the "Holy City," as the "Bride," the "New Jerusalem coming down from God," this "Most Holy Book," whose provisions must remain inviolate for no less than a thousand years, and whose system will embrace the entire planet, may well be regarded as the brightest emanation of the mind of Bahá'u'lláh, as the Mother Book of His Dispensation, and the Charter of His New World Order.
The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Description

The Kitáb-i-Íqán

 
Revealed soon after Bahá'u'lláh had been transferred to the house of 'Údí Khammár (circa 1873), at a time when He was still encompassed by the tribulations that had afflicted Him, through the acts committed by His enemies and the professed adherents of His Faith, this Book, this treasury enshrining the priceless gems of His Revelation, stands out, by virtue of the principles it inculcates, the administrative institutions it ordains and the function with which it invests the appointed Successor of its Author, unique and incomparable among the world's sacred Scriptures. For, unlike the Old Testament and the Holy Books which preceded it, in which the actual precepts uttered by the Prophet Himself are non-existent; unlike the Gospels, in which the few sayings attributed to Jesus Christ afford no clear guidance regarding the future administration of the affairs of His Faith; unlike even the Qur'án which, though explicit in the laws and ordinances formulated by the Apostle of God, is silent on the all-important subject of the succession, the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, revealed from first to last by the Author of the Dispensation Himself, not only preserves for posterity the basic laws and ordinances on which the fabric of His future World Order must rest, but ordains, in addition to the function of interpretation which it confers upon His Successor, the necessary institutions through which the integrity and unity of His Faith can alone be safeguarded.  
214

In this Charter of the future world civilization its Author—at once the Judge, the Lawgiver, the Unifier and Redeemer of mankind—announces to the kings of the earth the promulgation of the "Most Great Law"; pronounces them to be His vassals; proclaims Himself the "King of Kings"; disclaims any intention of laying hands on their kingdoms; reserves for Himself the right to "seize and possess the hearts of men"; warns the world's ecclesiastical leaders not to weigh the "Book of God" with such standards as are current amongst them; and affirms that the Book itself is the "Unerring Balance" established amongst men. In it He formally ordains the institution of the "House of Justice," defines its functions, fixes its revenues, and designates its members as the "Men of Justice," the "Deputies of God," the "Trustees of the All-Merciful," alludes to the future Center of His Covenant, and invests Him with the right of interpreting His holy Writ; anticipates by implication the institution of Guardianship; bears witness to the revolutionizing effect of His World Order; enunciates the doctrine of the "Most Great Infallibility" of the Manifestation of God; asserts this infallibility to be the inherent and exclusive right of the Prophet; and rules out the possibility of the appearance of another Manifestation ere the lapse of at least one thousand years.    
In this Book He, moreover, prescribes the obligatory prayers; designates the time and period of fasting; prohibits congregational prayer except for the dead; fixes the Qiblih; institutes the Huqúq'u'lláh (Right of God); formulates the law of inheritance; ordains the institution of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár; establishes the Nineteen Day Feasts, the Bahá'í festivals and the Intercalary Days; abolishes the institution of priesthood; prohibits slavery, asceticism, mendicancy, monasticism, penance, the use of pulpits and the kissing of hands; prescribes monogamy; condemns cruelty to animals, idleness and sloth, backbiting and calumny; censures divorce; interdicts gambling, the use of opium, wine and other intoxicating drinks; specifies the punishments for murder, arson, adultery and theft; stresses the importance of marriage and lays down its essential conditions; imposes the obligation of engaging in some trade or profession, exalting such occupation to the rank of worship; emphasizes the necessity of providing the means for the education of children; and lays upon every person the duty of writing a testament and of strict obedience to one's government.
["In this Book He..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 3, p. 281
 
Apart from these provisions Bahá'u'lláh exhorts His followers to consort, with amity and concord and without discrimination, with the adherents of all religions; warns them to guard against fanaticism, sedition, pride, dispute and contention; inculcates upon them immaculate cleanliness, strict truthfulness, spotless chastity, trustworthiness; hospitality, fidelity, courtesy, forbearance, justice and fairness; counsels them to be "even as the fingers of one hand and the limbs of one body"; calls upon them to arise and serve His Cause; and assures them of His undoubted aid. He, furthermore, dwells upon the instability of human affairs; declares that true liberty consists in man's submission to His commandments; cautions them not to be indulgent in carrying out His statutes; prescribes the twin inseparable duties of recognizing the "Dayspring of God's Revelation" and of observing all the ordinances revealed by Him, neither of which, He affirms, is acceptable without the other.  
215

The significant summons issued to the Presidents of the Republics of the American continent to seize their opportunity in the Day of God and to champion the cause of justice; the injunction to the members of parliaments throughout the world, urging the adoption of a universal script and language; His warnings to William I, the conqueror of Napoleon III; the reproof He administers to Francis Joseph, the Emperor of Austria; His reference to "the lamentations of Berlin" in His apostrophe to "the banks of the Rhine"; His condemnation of "the throne of tyranny" established in Constantinople, and His prediction of the extinction of its "outward splendor" and of the tribulations destined to overtake its inhabitants; the words of cheer and comfort He addresses to His native city, assuring her that God had chosen her to be "the source of the joy of all mankind"; His prophecy that "the voice of the heroes of Khurásán" will be raised in glorification of their Lord; His assertion that men "endued with mighty valor" will be raised up in Kirmán who will make mention of Him; and finally, His magnanimous assurance to a perfidious brother who had afflicted Him with such anguish, that an "ever-forgiving, all-bounteous" God would forgive him his iniquities were he only to repent—all these further enrich the contents of a Book designated by its Author as "the source of true felicity," as the "Unerring Balance," as the "Straight Path" and as the "quickener of mankind."    
The laws and ordinances that constitute the major theme of this Book, Bahá'u'lláh, moreover, has specifically characterized as "the breath of life unto all created things," as "the mightiest stronghold," as the "fruits" of His "Tree," as "the highest means for the maintenance of order in the world and the security of its peoples," as "the lamps of His wisdom and loving-providence," as "the sweet smelling savor of His garment," as the "keys" of His "mercy" to His creatures. "This Book," He Himself testifies, "is a heaven which We have adorned with the stars of Our commandments and prohibitions." "Blessed the man," He, moreover, has stated, "who will read it, and ponder the verses sent down in it by God, the Lord of Power, the Almighty. Say, O men! Take hold of it with the hand of resignation … By My life! It hath been sent down in a manner that amazeth the minds of men. Verily, it is My weightiest testimony unto all people, and the proof of the All-Merciful unto all who are in heaven and all who are on earth." And again: "Blessed the palate that savoreth its sweetness, and the perceiving eye that recognizeth that which is treasured therein, and the understanding heart that comprehendeth its allusions and mysteries. By God! Such is the majesty of what hath been revealed therein, and so tremendous the revelation of its veiled allusions that the loins of utterance shake when attempting their description." And finally: "In such a manner hath the Kitáb-i-Aqdas been revealed that it attracteth and embraceth all the divinely appointed Dispensations. Blessed those who peruse it! Blessed those who apprehend it! Blessed those who meditate upon it! Blessed those who ponder its meaning! So vast is its range that it hath encompassed all men ere their recognition of it. Erelong will its sovereign power, its pervasive influence and the greatness of its might be manifested on earth."
["this Book is a heaven..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 3, p. 275

["By God! such is the majesty..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 3, p. 276

["weightiest testimony unto all people"] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 3, p. 393

216

The formulation by Bahá'u'lláh, in His Kitáb-i-Aqdas, of the fundamental laws of His Dispensation was followed, as His Mission drew to a close, by the enunciation of certain precepts and principles which lie at the very core of His Faith, by the reaffirmation of truths He had previously proclaimed, by the elaboration and elucidation of some of the laws He had already laid down, by the revelation of further prophecies and warnings, and by the establishment of subsidiary ordinances designed to supplement the provisions of His Most Holy Book. These were recorded in unnumbered Tablets, which He continued to reveal until the last days of His earthly life, among which the "Ishráqát" (Splendors), the "Bishárát" (Glad Tidings), the "Tarázát" (Ornaments), the "Tajallíyát" (Effulgences), the "Kalimát-i-Firdawsíyyih" (Words of Paradise), the "Lawh-i-Aqdas" (Most Holy Tablet), the "Lawh-i-Dunyá" (Tablet of the World), the "Lawh-i-Maqsúd" (Tablet of Maqsúd), are the most noteworthy. These Tablets—mighty and final effusions of His indefatigable pen—must rank among the choicest fruits which His mind has yielded, and mark the consummation of His forty-year-long ministry.
["The formulation..."] Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, Preface; The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 4, p. 116

The Kitáb-i-Aqdas

Ishráqát

Bishárát

Tarázát

Tajallíyát

Kalimát-i-Firdawsíyyih

Lawh-i-Aqdas

Lawh-i-Dunyá

Lawh-i-Maqsúd

 
Of the principles enshrined in these Tablets the most vital of them all is the principle of the oneness and wholeness of the human race, which may well be regarded as the hall-mark of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation and the pivot of His teachings. Of such cardinal importance is this principle of unity that it is expressly referred to in the Book of His Covenant, and He unreservedly proclaims it as the central purpose of His Faith. "We, verily," He declares, "have come to unite and weld together all that dwell on earth." "So potent is the light of unity," He further states, "that it can illuminate the whole earth." "At one time," He has written with reference to this central theme of His Revelation, "We spoke in the language of the lawgiver; at another in that of the truth seeker and the mystic, and yet Our supreme purpose and highest wish hath always been to disclose the glory and sublimity of this station." Unity, He states, is the goal that "excelleth every goal" and an aspiration which is "the monarch of all aspirations." "The world," He proclaims, "is but one country, and mankind its citizens." He further affirms that the unification of mankind, the last stage in the evolution of humanity towards maturity is inevitable, that "soon will the present day order be rolled up, and a new one spread out in its stead," that "the whole earth is now in a state of pregnancy," that "the day is approaching when it will have yielded its noblest fruits, when from it will have sprung forth the loftiest trees, the most enchanting blossoms, the most heavenly blessings." He deplores the defectiveness of the prevailing order, exposes the inadequacy of patriotism as a directing and controlling force in human society, and regards the "love of mankind" and service to its interests as the worthiest and most laudable objects of human endeavor. He, moreover, laments that "the vitality of men's belief in God is dying out in every land," that the "face of the world" is turned towards "waywardness and unbelief"; proclaims religion to be "a radiant light and an impregnable stronghold for the protection and welfare of the peoples of the world" and "the chief instrument for the establishment of order in the world"; affirms its fundamental purpose to be the promotion of union and concord amongst men; warns lest it be made "a source of dissension, of discord and hatred"; commands that its principles be taught to children in the schools of the world, in a manner that would not be productive of either prejudice or fanaticism; attributes "the waywardness of the ungodly" to the "decline of religion"; and predicts "convulsions" of such severity as to "cause the limbs of mankind to quake."  
217

The principle of collective security He unreservedly urges; recommends the reduction in national armaments; and proclaims as necessary and inevitable the convening of a world gathering at which the kings and rulers of the world will deliberate for the establishment of peace among the nations.  
218

Justice He extols as "the light of men" and their "guardian," as "the revealer of the secrets of the world of being, and the standard-bearer of love and bounty"; declares its radiance to be incomparable; affirms that upon it must depend "the organization of the world and the tranquillity of mankind." He characterizes its "two pillars"—"reward and punishment"—as "the sources of life" to the human race; warns the peoples of the world to bestir themselves in anticipation of its advent; and prophesies that, after an interval of great turmoil and grievous injustice, its day-star will shine in its full splendor and glory.    
He, furthermore, inculcates the principle of "moderation in all things"; declares that whatsoever, be it "Liberty, civilization and the like," "passeth beyond the limits of moderation" must "exercise a pernicious influence upon men"; observes that western civilization has gravely perturbed and alarmed the peoples of the world; and predicts that the day is approaching when the "flame" of a civilization "carried to excess" "will devour the cities."    
Consultation He establishes as one of the fundamental principles of His Faith; describes it as "the lamp of guidance," as "the bestower of understanding," and as one of the two "luminaries" of the "heaven of Divine wisdom." Knowledge, He states, is "as wings to man's life and a ladder for his ascent"; its acquisition He regards as "incumbent upon every one"; considers "arts, crafts and sciences" to be conducive to the exaltation of the world of being; commends the wealth acquired through crafts and professions; acknowledges the indebtedness of the peoples of the world to scientists and craftsmen; and discourages the study of such sciences as are unprofitable to men, and "begin with words and end with words."    
The injunction to "consort with all men in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship" He further emphasizes, and recognizes such association to be conducive to "union and concord," which, He affirms, are the establishers of order in the world and the quickeners of nations. The necessity of adopting a universal tongue and script He repeatedly stresses; deplores the waste of time involved in the study of divers languages; affirms that with the adoption of such a language and script the whole earth will be considered as "one city and one land"; and claims to be possessed of the knowledge of both, and ready to impart it to any one who might seek it from Him.    
To the trustees of the House of Justice He assigns the duty of legislating on matters not expressly provided in His writings, and promises that God will "inspire them with whatsoever He willeth." The establishment of a constitutional form of government, in which the ideals of republicanism and the majesty of kingship, characterized by Him as "one of the signs of God," are combined, He recommends as a meritorious achievement; urges that special regard be paid to the interests of agriculture; and makes specific reference to "the swiftly appearing newspapers," describes them as "the mirror of the world" and as "an amazing and potent phenomenon," and prescribes to all who are responsible for their production the duty to be sanctified from malice, passion and prejudice, to be just and fair-minded, to be painstaking in their inquiries, and ascertain all the facts in every situation.  
219

The doctrine of the Most Great Infallibility He further elaborates; the obligation laid on His followers to "behave towards the government of the country in which they reside with loyalty, honesty and truthfulness," He reaffirms; the ban imposed upon the waging of holy war and the destruction of books He reemphasizes; and He singles out for special praise men of learning and wisdom, whom He extols as "eyes" to the body of mankind, and as the "greatest gifts" conferred upon the world.    
Nor should a review of the outstanding features of Bahá'u'lláh's writings during the latter part of His banishment to 'Akká fail to include a reference to the Lawh-i-Hikmat (Tablet of Wisdom), in which He sets forth the fundamentals of true philosophy, or to the Tablet of Visitation revealed in honor of the Imám Husayn, whose praises He celebrates in glowing language; or to the "Questions and Answers" which elucidates the laws and ordinances of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas; or to the "Lawh-i-Burhán" (Tablet of the Proof) in which the acts perpetrated by Shaykh Muhammad-Báqir, surnamed "Dhi'b" (Wolf), and Mír Muhammad-Husayn, the Imám-Jum'ih of Isfahán, surnamed "Raqshá" (She-Serpent), are severely condemned; or to the Lawh-i-Karmil (Tablet of Carmel) in which the Author significantly makes mention of "the City of God that hath descended from heaven," and prophesies that "erelong will God sail His Ark" upon that mountain, and "will manifest the people of Bahá." Finally, mention must be made of His Epistle to Shaykh Muhammad-Taqí, surnamed "Ibn-i-Dhi'b" (Son of the Wolf), the last outstanding Tablet revealed by the pen of Bahá'u'lláh, in which He calls upon that rapacious priest to repent of his acts, quotes some of the most characteristic and celebrated passages of His own writings, and adduces proofs establishing the validity of His Cause.
[Mír Muhammad Husayn] Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 203

Lawh-i-Hikmat

["Questions and Answers"} The Kitáb-i-Aqdas

Lawh-i-Burhán

Lawh-i-Karmil

Epistle to the Son of the Wolf

 
With this book, revealed about one year prior to His ascension, the prodigious achievement as author of a hundred volumes, repositories of the priceless pearls of His Revelation, may be said to have practically terminated—volumes replete with unnumbered exhortations, revolutionizing principles, world-shaping laws and ordinances, dire warnings and portentous prophecies, with soul-uplifting prayers and meditations, illuminating commentaries and interpretations, impassioned discourses and homilies, all interspersed with either addresses or references to kings, to emperors and to ministers, of both the East and the West, to ecclesiastics of divers denominations, and to leaders in the intellectual, political, literary, mystical, commercial and humanitarian spheres of human activity.  
220

"We, verily," wrote Bahá'u'lláh, surveying, in the evening of His life, from His Most Great Prison, the entire range of this vast and weighty Revelation, "have not fallen short of Our duty to exhort men, and to deliver that whereunto I was bidden by God, the Almighty, the All-Praised." "Is there any excuse," He further has stated, "left for any one in this Revelation? No, by God, the Lord of the Mighty Throne! My signs have encompassed the earth, and my power enveloped all mankind."    

CHAPTER XIII

Ascension of Bahá'u'lláh

 
221

Well nigh half a century had passed since the inception of the Faith. Cradled in adversity, deprived in its infancy of its Herald and Leader, it had been raised from the dust, in which a hostile despot had thrown it, by its second and greatest Luminary Who, despite successive banishments, had, in less than half a century, succeeded in rehabilitating its fortunes, in proclaiming its Message, in enacting its laws and ordinances, in formulating its principles and in ordaining its institutions, and it had just begun to enjoy the sunshine of a prosperity never previously experienced, when suddenly it was robbed of its Author by the Hand of Destiny, its followers were plunged into sorrow and consternation, its repudiators found their declining hopes revive, and its adversaries, political as well as ecclesiastical, began to take heart again.    
Already nine months before His ascension Bahá'u'lláh, as attested by 'Abdu'l-Bahá, had voiced His desire to depart from this world. From that time onward it became increasingly evident, from the tone of His remarks to those who attained His presence, that the close of His earthly life was approaching, though He refrained from mentioning it openly to any one. On the night preceding the eleventh of Shavvál 1309 A.H. (May 8, 1892) He contracted a slight fever which, though it mounted the following day, soon after subsided. He continued to grant interviews to certain of the friends and pilgrims, but it soon became evident that He was not well. His fever returned in a more acute form than before, His general condition grew steadily worse, complications ensued which at last culminated in His ascension, at the hour of dawn, on the 2nd of Dhi'l-Qa'dih 1309 A.H. (May 29, 1892), eight hours after sunset, in the 75th year of His age. His spirit, at long last released from the toils of a life crowded with tribulations, had winged its flight to His "other dominions," dominions "whereon the eyes of the people of names have never fallen," and to which the "Luminous Maid," "clad in white," had bidden Him hasten, as described by Himself in the Lawh-i-Ru'yá (Tablet of the Vision), revealed nineteen years previously, on the anniversary of the birth of His Forerunner.
["other dominions..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 3, p. 371

[Lawh-i-Ru'yá] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 3, p. 223

 
Six days before He passed away He summoned to His presence, as He lay in bed leaning against one of His sons, the entire company of believers, including several pilgrims, who had assembled in the Mansion, for what proved to be their last audience with Him. "I am well pleased with you all," He gently and affectionately addressed the weeping crowd that gathered about Him. "Ye have rendered many services, and been very assiduous in your labors. Ye have come here every morning and every evening. May God assist you to remain united. May He aid you to exalt the Cause of the Lord of being." To the women, including members of His own family, gathered at His bedside, He addressed similar words of encouragement, definitely assuring them that in a document entrusted by Him to the Most Great Branch He had commended them all to His care.  
222

The news of His ascension was instantly communicated to Sultán 'Abdu'l-Hamíd in a telegram which began with the words "the Sun of Bahá has set" and in which the monarch was advised of the intention of interring the sacred remains within the precincts of the Mansion, an arrangement to which he readily assented. Bahá'u'lláh was accordingly laid to rest in the northernmost room of the house which served as a dwelling-place for His son-in-law, the most northerly of the three houses lying to the west of, and adjacent to, the Mansion. His interment took place shortly after sunset, on the very day of His ascension.
The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 4, p. 418
 
The inconsolable Nabíl, who had had the privilege of a private audience with Bahá'u'lláh during the days of His illness; whom 'Abdu'l-Bahá had chosen to select those passages which constitute the text of the Tablet of Visitation now recited in the Most Holy Tomb; and who, in his uncontrollable grief, drowned himself in the sea shortly after the passing of his Beloved, thus describes the agony of those days: "Methinks, the spiritual commotion set up in the world of dust had caused all the worlds of God to tremble.… My inner and outer tongue are powerless to portray the condition we were in.… In the midst of the prevailing confusion a multitude of the inhabitants of 'Akká and of the neighboring villages, that had thronged the fields surrounding the Mansion, could be seen weeping, beating upon their heads, and crying aloud their grief."
[Nabíl] The Dawn-Breakers, Introduction
 
For a full week a vast number of mourners, rich and poor alike, tarried to grieve with the bereaved family, partaking day and night of the food that was lavishly dispensed by its members. Notables, among whom were numbered Shí'ahs, Sunnís, Christians, Jews and Druzes, as well as poets, 'ulamás and government officials, all joined in lamenting the loss, and in magnifying the virtues and greatness of Bahá'u'lláh, many of them paying to Him their written tributes, in verse and in prose, in both Arabic and Turkish. From cities as far afield as Damascus, Aleppo, Beirut and Cairo similar tributes were received. These glowing testimonials were, without exception, submitted to 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Who now represented the Cause of the departed Leader, and Whose praises were often mingled in these eulogies with the homage paid to His Father.
["Notables, among whom..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 4, p. 418
223

And yet these effusive manifestations of sorrow and expressions of praise and of admiration, which the ascension of Bahá'u'lláh had spontaneously evoked among the unbelievers in the Holy Land and the adjoining countries, were but a drop when compared with the ocean of grief and the innumerable evidences of unbounded devotion which, at the hour of the setting of the Sun of Truth, poured forth from the hearts of the countless thousands who had espoused His Cause, and were determined to carry aloft its banner in Persia, India, Russia, 'Iráq, Turkey, Palestine, Egypt and Syria.
The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 4, p. 418
 
With the ascension of Bahá'u'lláh draws to a close a period which, in many ways, is unparalleled in the world's religious history. The first century of the Bahá'í Era had by now run half its course. An epoch, unsurpassed in its sublimity, its fecundity and duration by any previous Dispensation, and characterized, except for a short interval of three years, by half a century of continuous and progressive Revelation, had terminated. The Message proclaimed by the Báb had yielded its golden fruit. The most momentous, though not the most spectacular phase of the Heroic Age had ended. The Sun of Truth, the world's greatest Luminary, had risen in the Síyáh-Chál of Tihrán, had broken through the clouds which enveloped it in Baghdád, had suffered a momentary eclipse whilst mounting to its zenith in Adrianople and had set finally in 'Akká, never to reappear ere the lapse of a full millenium. God's newborn Faith, the cynosure of all past Dispensations, had been fully and unreservedly proclaimed. The prophecies announcing its advent had been remarkably fulfilled. Its fundamental laws and cardinal principles, the warp and woof of the fabric of its future World Order, had been clearly enunciated. Its organic relation to, and its attitude towards, the religious systems which preceded it had been unmistakably defined. The primary institutions, within which an embryonic World Order was destined to mature, had been unassailably established. The Covenant designed to safeguard the unity and integrity of its world-embracing system had been irrevocably bequeathed to posterity. The promise of the unification of the whole human race, of the inauguration of the Most Great Peace, of the unfoldment of a world civilization, had been incontestably given. The dire warnings, foreshadowing catastrophes destined to befall kings, ecclesiastics, governments and peoples, as a prelude to so glorious a consummation, had been repeatedly uttered. The significant summons to the Chief Magistrates of the New World, forerunner of the Mission with which the North American continent was to be later invested, had been issued. The initial contact with a nation, a descendant of whose royal house was to espouse its Cause ere the expiry of the first Bahá'í century, had been established. The original impulse which, in the course of successive decades, has conferred, and will continue to confer, in the years to come, inestimable benefits of both spiritual and institutional significance upon God's holy mountain, overlooking the Most Great Prison, had been imparted. And finally, the first banners of a spiritual conquest which, ere the termination of that century, was to embrace no less than sixty countries in both the Eastern and Western hemispheres had been triumphantly planted.  
224

In the vastness and diversity of its Holy Writ; in the number of its martyrs; in the valor of its champions; in the example set by its followers; in the condign punishment suffered by its adversaries; in the pervasiveness of its influence; in the incomparable heroism of its Herald; in the dazzling greatness of its Author; in the mysterious operation of its irresistible spirit; the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, now standing at the threshold of the sixth decade of its existence, had amply demonstrated its capacity to forge ahead, indivisible and incorruptible, along the course traced for it by its Founder, and to display, before the gaze of successive generations, the signs and tokens of that celestial potency with which He Himself had so richly endowed it.    
To the fate that has overtaken those kings, ministers and ecclesiastics, in the East as well as in the West, who have, at various stages of Bahá'u'lláh's ministry, either deliberately persecuted His Cause, or have neglected to heed the warnings He had uttered, or have failed in their manifest duty to respond to His summons or to accord Him and His message the treatment they deserved, particular attention, I feel, should at this juncture be directed. Bahá'u'lláh Himself, referring to those who had actively arisen to destroy or harm His Faith, had declared that "God hath not blinked, nor will He ever blink His eyes at the tyranny of the oppressor. More particularly in this Revelation hath He visited each and every tyrant with His vengeance." Vast and awful is, indeed, the spectacle which meets our eyes, as we survey the field over which the retributory winds of God have, since the inception of the ministry of Bahá'u'lláh, furiously swept, dethroning monarchs, extinguishing dynasties, uprooting ecclesiastical hierarchies, precipitating wars and revolutions, driving from office princes and ministers, dispossessing the usurper, casting down the tyrant, and chastising the wicked and the rebellious.  
225

Sultán 'Abdu'l-'Azíz, who with Násiri'd-Dín Sháh was the author of the calamities heaped upon Bahá'u'lláh, and was himself responsible for three decrees of banishment against the Prophet; who had been stigmatized, in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, as occupying the "throne of tyranny," and whose fall had been prophesied in the Lawh-i-Fu'ád, was deposed in consequence of a palace revolution, was condemned by a fatvá (sentence) of the Muftí in his own capital, was four days later assassinated (1876), and was succeeded by a nephew who was declared to be an imbecile. The war of 1877–78 emancipated eleven million people from the Turkish yoke; Adrianople was occupied by the Russian forces; the empire itself was dissolved as a result of the war of 1914–18; the Sultanate was abolished; a republic was proclaimed; and a rulership that had endured above six centuries was ended.
["throne of tyranny..."] The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶89

[Lawh-i-Fu'ád] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 3, p. 87

 
The vain and despotic Násiri'd-Dín Sháh, denounced by Bahá'u'lláh as the "Prince of Oppressors"; of whom He had written that he would soon be made "an object-lesson for the world"; whose reign was stained by the execution of the Báb and the imprisonment of Bahá'u'lláh; who had persistently instigated his subsequent banishments to Constantinople, Adrianople and 'Akká; who, in collusion with a vicious sacerdotal order, had vowed to strangle the Faith in its cradle, was dramatically assassinated, in the shrine of Sháh 'Abdu'l-'Azím, on the very eve of his jubilee, which, as ushering in a new era, was to have been celebrated with the most elaborate magnificence, and was to go down in history as the greatest day in the annals of the Persian nation. The fortunes of his house thereafter steadily declined, and finally through the scandalous misconduct of the dissipated and irresponsible Ahmad Sháh, led to the eclipse and disappearance of the Qájár dynasty.    
Napoleon III, the foremost monarch of his day in the West, excessively ambitious, inordinately proud, tricky and superficial, who is reported to have contemptuously flung down the Tablet sent to him by Bahá'u'lláh, who was tested by Him and found wanting, and whose downfall was explicitly predicted in a subsequent Tablet, was ignominiously defeated in the Battle of Sedan (1870), marking the greatest military capitulation recorded in modern history; lost his kingdom and spent the remaining years of his life in exile. His hopes were utterly blasted, his only son, the Prince Imperial, was killed in the Zulu War, his much vaunted empire collapsed, a civil war ensued more ferocious than the Franco-German war itself, and William I, the Prussian king, was hailed emperor of a unified Germany in the Palace of Versailles.
226

William I, the pride-intoxicated newly-acclaimed conqueror of Napoleon III, admonished in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas and bidden to ponder the fate that had overtaken "one whose power transcended" his own, warned in that same Book, that the "lamentations of Berlin" would be raised and that the banks of the Rhine would be "covered with gore," sustained two attempts on his life, and was succeeded by a son who died of a mortal disease, three months after his accession to the throne, bequeathing the throne to the arrogant, the headstrong and short-sighted William II. The pride of the new monarch precipitated his downfall. Revolution, swiftly and suddenly, broke out in his capital, communism reared its head in a number of cities; the princes of the German states abdicated, and he himself, fleeing ignominiously to Holland, was compelled to relinquish his right to the throne. The constitution of Weimar sealed the fate of the empire, whose birth had been so loudly proclaimed by his grandfather, and the terms of an oppressively severe treaty provoked "the lamentations" which, half a century before, had been ominously prophesied.
The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶90
 
The arbitrary and unyielding Francis Joseph, emperor of Austria and king of Hungary, who had been reproved in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, for having neglected his manifest duty to inquire about Bahá'u'lláh during his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, was so engulfed by misfortunes and tragedies that his reign came to be regarded as one unsurpassed by any other reign in the calamities it inflicted upon the nation. His brother, Maximilian, was put to death in Mexico; the Crown Prince Rudolph perished in ignominious circumstances; the Empress was assassinated; Archduke Francis Ferdinand and his wife were murdered in Sarajevo; the "ramshackle empire" itself disintegrated, was carved up, and a shrunken republic was set up on the ruins of a vanished Holy Roman Empire—a republic which, after a brief and precarious existence, was blotted out from the political map of Europe.
["O Emperor of Austria..."] The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶85 ; The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 3 p. 150
 
Nicolaevitch Alexander II, the all-powerful Czar of Russia, who, in a Tablet addressed to him by name had been thrice warned by Bahá'u'lláh, had been bidden to "summon the nations unto God," and had been cautioned not to allow his sovereignty to prevent him from recognizing "the Supreme Sovereign," suffered several attempts on his life, and at last died at the hand of an assassin. A harsh policy of repression, initiated by himself and followed by his successor, Alexander III, paved the way for a revolution which, in the reign of Nicholas II, swept away on a bloody tide the empire of the Czars, brought in its wake war, disease and famine, and established a militant proletariat which massacred the nobility, persecuted the clergy, drove away the intellectuals, disendowed the state religion, executed the Czar with his consort and his family, and extinguished the dynasty of the Romanoffs.  
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Pope Pius IX, the undisputed head of the most powerful Church in Christendom, who had been commanded, in an Epistle addressed to him by Bahá'u'lláh, to leave his "palaces unto such as desire them," to "sell all the embellished ornaments" in his possession, to "expend them in the path of God," and hasten towards "the Kingdom," was compelled to surrender, in distressing circumstances, to the besieging forces of King Victor Emmanuel, and to submit himself to be depossessed of the Papal States and of Rome itself. The loss of "the Eternal City," over which the Papal flag had flown for one thousand years, and the humiliation of the religious orders under his jurisdiction, added mental anguish to his physical infirmities and embittered the last years of his life. The formal recognition of the Kingdom of Italy subsequently exacted from one of his successors in the Vatican, confirmed the virtual extinction of the Pope's temporal sovereignty.    
But the rapid dissolution of the Ottoman, the Napoleonic, the German, the Austrian and the Russian empires, the demise of the Qájár dynasty and the virtual extinction of the temporal sovereignty of the Roman Pontiff do not exhaust the story of the catastrophes that befell the monarchies of the world through the neglect of Bahá'u'lláh's warnings conveyed in the opening passages of His Súriy-i-Mulúk. The conversion of the Portuguese and Spanish monarchies, as well as the Chinese empire, into republics; the strange fate that has, more recently, been pursuing the sovereigns of Holland, of Norway, of Greece, of Yugoslavia and of Albania now living in exile; the virtual abdication of the authority exercised by the kings of Denmark, of Belgium, of Bulgaria, of Rumania and of Italy; the apprehension with which their fellow sovereigns must be viewing the convulsions that have seized so many thrones; the shame and acts of violence which, in some instances, have darkened the annals of the reigns of certain monarchs in both the East and the West, and still more recently the sudden downfall of the Founder of the newly established dynasty in Persia—these are yet further instances of the infliction of the "Divine Chastisement" foreshadowed by Bahá'u'lláh in that immortal Súrih, and show forth the divine reality of the arraignment pronounced by Him against the rulers of the earth in His Most Holy Book.
[Súriy-i-Mulúk] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, p. 301

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No less arresting has been the extinction of the all-pervasive influence exerted by the Muslim ecclesiastical leaders, both Sunní and Shí'ah, in the two countries in which the mightiest institutions of Islám had been reared, and which have been directly associated with the tribulations heaped upon the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh.    
The Caliph, the self-styled vicar of the Prophet of Islám, known also as the "Commander of the Faithful," the protector of the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, whose spiritual jurisdiction extended over more than two hundred million Muhammadans, was by the abolition of the Sultanate in Turkey, divested of his temporal authority, hitherto regarded as inseparable from his high office. The Caliph himself, after having occupied for a brief period, an anomalous and precarious position, fled to Europe; the Caliphate, the most august and powerful institution of Islám, was, without consultation with any community in the Sunní world, summarily abolished; the unity of the most powerful branch of the Islamic Faith was thereby shattered; a formal, a complete and permanent separation of the Turkish state from the Sunní faith was proclaimed; the Sharí'ah canonical Law was annulled; ecclesiastical institutions were disendowed; a civil code was promulgated; religious orders were suppressed; the Sunní hierarchy was dissolved; the Arabic tongue, the language of the Prophet of Islám, fell into disuse, and its script was superseded by the Latin alphabet; the Qur'án itself was translated into Turkish; Constantinople, the "Dome of Islám," sank to the level of a provincial city, and its peerless jewel, the Mosque of St. Sophia, was converted into a museum—a series of degradations recalling the fate which, in the first century of the Christian Era, befell the Jewish people, the city of Jerusalem, the Temple of Solomon, the Holy of Holies, and an ecclesiastical hierarchy, whose members were the avowed persecutors of the religion of Jesus Christ.    
A similar convulsion shook the foundations of the entire sacerdotal order in Persia, though its formal divorce from the Persian state is as yet unproclaimed. A "church-state," that had been firmly rooted in the life of the nation and had extended its ramifications to every sphere of life in that country, was virtually disrupted. A sacerdotal order, the rock wall of Shí'ah Islám in that land, was paralyzed and discredited; its mujtahids, the favorite ministers of the hidden Imám, were reduced to an insignificant number; all its beturbaned officers, except for a handful, were ruthlessly forced to exchange their traditional head-dress and robes for the European clothes they themselves anathematized; the pomp and pageantry that marked their ceremonials vanished; their fatvás (sentences) were nullified; their endowments were handed over to a civil administration; their mosques and seminaries were deserted; the right of sanctuary accorded to their shrines ceased to be recognized; their religious plays were banned; their takyihs were closed and even their pilgrimages to Najaf and Karbilá were discouraged and curtailed. The disuse of the veil; the recognition of the equality of sexes; the establishment of civil tribunals; the abolition of concubinage; the disparagement of the use of the Arabic tongue, the language of Islám and of the Qur'án, and the efforts exerted to divorce it from Persian—all these further proclaim the degradation, and foreshadow the final extinction, of that infamous crew, whose leaders had dared style themselves "servants of the Lord of Saintship" (Imám 'Alí), who had so often received the homage of the pious kings of the Safaví dynasty, and whose anathemas, ever since the birth of the Faith of the Báb, had been chiefly responsible for the torrents of blood which had been shed, and whose acts have blackened the annals of both their religion and nation.  
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A crisis, not indeed as severe as that which shook the Islamic sacerdotal orders—the inveterate adversaries of the Faith—has, moreover, afflicted the ecclesiastical institutions of Christendom, whose influence, ever since Bahá'u'lláh's summons was issued and His warning was sounded, has visibly deteriorated, whose prestige has been gravely damaged, whose authority has steadily declined, and whose power, rights and prerogatives have been increasingly circumscribed. The virtual extinction of the temporal sovereignty of the Roman Pontiff, to which reference has already been made; the wave of anti-clericalism that brought in its wake the separation of the Catholic Church from the French Republic; the organized assault launched by a triumphant Communist state upon the Greek Orthodox Church in Russia, and the consequent disestablishment, disendowment and persecution of the state religion; the dismemberment of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy which owed its allegiance to the Church of Rome and powerfully supported its institutions; the ordeal to which that same Church has been subjected in Spain and in Mexico; the wave of secularization which, at present, is engulfing the Catholic, the Anglican and the Presbyterian Missions in non-Christian lands; the forces of an aggressive paganism which are assailing the ancient citadels of the Catholic, the Greek Orthodox and the Lutheran Churches in Western, in Central and Eastern Europe, in the Balkans and in the Baltic and Scandinavian states—these stand out as the most conspicuous manifestations of the decline in the fortunes of the ecclesiastical leaders of Christendom, leaders who, heedless of the voice of Bahá'u'lláh, have interposed themselves between the Christ returned in the glory of the Father and their respective congregations.  
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Nor can we fail to note the progressive deterioration in the authority, wielded by the ecclesiastical leaders of the Jewish and Zoroastrian Faiths, ever since the voice of Bahá'u'lláh was raised, announcing, in no uncertain terms, that the "Most Great Law is come," that the Ancient Beauty "ruleth upon the throne of David," and that "whatsoever hath been announced in the Books (Zoroastrian Holy Writ) hath been revealed and made clear." The evidences of increasing revolt against clerical authority; the disrespect and indifference shown to time-honored observances, rituals and ceremonials; the repeated inroads made by the forces of an aggressive and often hostile nationalism into the spheres of clerical jurisdiction; and the general apathy with which, particularly in the case of the professed adherents of the Zoroastrian Faith, these encroachments are regarded—all provide, beyond the shadow of a doubt, further justification of the warnings and predictions uttered by Bahá'u'lláh in His historic addresses to the world's ecclesiastical leaders.    
Such in sum are the awful evidences of God's retributive justice that have afflicted kings as well as ecclesiastics, in both the East and the West, as a direct consequence of either their active opposition to the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, or of their lamentable failure to respond to His call, to inquire into His Message, to avert the sufferings He endured, or to heed the marvelous signs and prodigies which, during a hundred years, have accompanied the birth and rise of His Revelation.    
"From two ranks amongst men," is His terse and prophetic utterance, "power hath been seized: kings and ecclesiastics." "If ye pay no heed," He thus warned the kings of the earth, "unto the counsels which … We have revealed in this Tablet, Divine chastisement will assail you from every direction … On that day ye shall … recognize your own impotence." And again: "Though aware of most of Our afflictions, ye, nevertheless, have failed to stay the hand of the aggressor." And, furthermore, this arraignment: "…We … will be patient, as We have been patient in that which hath befallen Us at your hands, O concourse of kings!"  
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Condemning specifically the world's ecclesiastical leaders, He has written: "The source and origin of tyranny have been the divines … God, verily, is clear of them, and We, too, are clear of them." "When We observed carefully," He openly affirms, "We discovered that Our enemies are, for the most part, the divines." "O concourse of divines!" He thus addresses them, "Ye shall not henceforth behold yourselves possessed of any power, inasmuch as We have seized it from you…" "Had ye believed in God when He revealed Himself," He explains, "the people would not have turned aside from Him, nor would the things ye witness today have befallen Us." "They," referring more specifically to Muslim ecclesiastics, He asserts, "rose up against Us with such cruelty as hath sapped the strength of Islám…" "The divines of Persia," He affirms, "committed that which no people amongst the peoples of the world hath committed." And again: "…The divines of Persia … have perpetrated what the Jews have not perpetrated during the Revelation of Him Who is the Spirit (Jesus)." And finally, these portentous prophecies: "Because of you the people were abased, and the banner of Islám was hauled down, and its mighty throne subverted." "Erelong will all that ye possess perish, and your glory be turned into the most wretched abasement, and ye shall behold the punishment for what ye have wrought…" "Erelong," the Báb Himself, even more openly prophesies, "We will, in very truth, torment such as waged war against Husayn (Imám Husayn) … with the most afflictive torment…" "Erelong will God wreak His vengeance upon them, at the time of Our return, and He hath, in very truth, prepared for them, in the world to come, a severe torment."    
Nor should, in a review of this nature, reference be omitted to those princes, ministers and ecclesiastics who have individually been responsible for the afflictive trials which Bahá'u'lláh and His followers have suffered. Fu'ád Páshá, the Turkish Minister for Foreign Affairs, denounced by Him as the "instigator" of His banishment to the Most Great Prison, who had so assiduously striven with his colleague 'Alí Páshá, to excite the fears and suspicions of a despot already predisposed against the Faith and its Leader, was, about a year after he had succeeded in executing his design, struck down, while on a trip to Paris, by the avenging rod of God, and died at Nice (1869). 'Alí Páshá, the Sadr-i-A'zam (Prime Minister), denounced in such forceful language in the Lawh-i-Ra'ís, whose downfall the Lawh-i-Fu'ád had unmistakably predicted, was, a few years after Bahá'u'lláh's banishment to 'Akká, dismissed from office, was shorn of all power, and sank into complete oblivion. The tyrannical Prince Mas'úd Mírzá, the Zillu's-Sultán, Násiri'd-Dín Sháh's eldest son and ruler over more than two-fifths of his kingdom, stigmatized by Bahá'u'lláh as "the Infernal Tree," fell into disgrace, was deprived of all his governorships, except that of Isfahán, and lost all chances of future eminence or promotion. The rapacious Prince Jalálu'd-Dawlih, branded by the Supreme Pen as "the tyrant of Yazd," was, about a year after the iniquities he had perpetrated, deprived of his post, recalled to Tihrán, and forced to return a part of the property he had stolen from his victims.
[Lawh-i-Ra'ís] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 3, p. 33

[Lawh-i-Fu'ád] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 3, p. 87

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The scheming, the ambitious and profligate Mírzá Buzurg Khán, the Persian Consul General in Baghdád, was eventually dismissed from office, "overwhelmed with disaster, filled with remorse and plunged into confusion." The notorious Mujtahid Siyyid Sádiq-i-Tabátabá'í, denounced by Bahá'u'lláh as "the Liar of Tihrán," the author of the monstrous decree condemning every male member of the Bahá'í community in Persia, young or old, high or low, to be put to death, and all its women to be deported, was suddenly taken ill, fell a prey to a disease that ravaged his heart, his brain and his limbs, and precipitated eventually his death. The high-handed Subhí Páshá, who had peremptorily summoned Bahá'u'lláh to the government house in 'Akká, lost the position he occupied, and was recalled under circumstances highly detrimental to his reputation. Nor were the other governors of the city, who had dealt unjustly with the exalted Prisoner in their charge and His fellow-exiles, spared a like fate. "Every páshá," testifies Nabíl in his narrative, "whose conduct in 'Akká was commendable enjoyed a long term of office, and was bountifully favored by God, whereas every hostile Mutisarrif (governor) was speedily deposed by the Hand of Divine power, even as 'Abdu'r-Rahmán Páshá and Muhammad-Yúsuf Páshá who, on the morrow of the very night they had resolved to lay hands on the loved ones of Bahá'u'lláh, were telegraphically advised of their dismissal. Such was their fate that they were never again given a position."    
Shaykh Muhammad-Báqir, surnamed the "Wolf," who, in the strongly condemnatory Lawh-i-Burhán addressed to him by Bahá'u'lláh, had been compared to "the last trace of sunlight upon the mountain-top," witnessed the steady decline of his prestige, and died in a miserable state of acute remorse. His accomplice, Mír Muhammad-Husayn, surnamed the "She-Serpent," whom Bahá'u'lláh described as one "infinitely more wicked than the oppressor of Karbilá," was, about that same time, expelled from Isfahán, wandered from village to village, contracted a disease that engendered so foul an odor that even his wife and daughter could not bear to approach him, and died in such ill-favor with the local authorities that no one dared to attend his funeral, his corpse being ignominiously interred by a few porters.
["Shaykh Muhammad-Báqir..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 4, p. 100

Lawh-i-Burhán

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Mention should, moreover, be made of the devastating famine which, about a year after the illustrious Badí' had been tortured to death, ravaged Persia and reduced the population to such extremities that even the rich went hungry, and hundreds of mothers ghoulishly devoured their own children.    
Nor can this subject be dismissed without special reference being made to the Arch-Breaker of the Covenant of the Báb, Mírzá Yahyá, who lived long enough to witness, while eking out a miserable existence in Cyprus, termed by the Turks "the Island of Satan," every hope he had so maliciously conceived reduced to naught. A pensioner first of the Turkish and later of the British Government, he was subjected to the further humiliation of having his application for British citizenship refused. Eleven of the eighteen "Witnesses" he had appointed forsook him and turned in repentance to Bahá'u'lláh. He himself became involved in a scandal which besmirched his reputation and that of his eldest son, deprived that son and his descendants of the successorship with which he had previously invested him, and appointed, in his stead, the perfidious Mírzá Hádíy-i-Dawlat-Ábádí, a notorious Azalí, who, on the occasion of the martyrdom of the aforementioned Mírzá Ashraf, was seized with such fear that during four consecutive days he proclaimed from the pulpit-top, and in a most vituperative language, his complete repudiation of the Bábí Faith, as well as of Mírzá Yahyá, his benefactor, who had reposed in him such implicit confidence. It was this same eldest son who, through the workings of a strange destiny, sought years after, together with his nephew and niece, the presence of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, the appointed Successor of Bahá'u'lláh and Center of His Covenant, expressed repentance, prayed for forgiveness, was graciously accepted by Him, and remained, till the hour of his death, a loyal follower of the Faith which his father had so foolishly, so shamelessly and so pitifully striven to extinguish.    
 
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