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Some Outstanding Tablets

Sahífiy-i-Shattíyyih

Among the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh revealed in Baghdád is the Sahífiy-i-Shattíyyih (Book of the River). This Tablet is mainly in Persian. In it Bahá'u'lláh speaks about the irresistible power of the Cause of God and its sovereignty. Alluding to the Tigris which runs through Baghdád, He likens the onward march of the Faith to the flow of that river. Just as no obstacle, whether a fortified building or a mighty wall, can withstand the onrushing force of the water, or hold back its progress, so none of the enemies of the Cause, however fierce their onslaught or determined their opposition, can halt the advance of this resistless Faith of God. It will, in spite of all opposition, press onward, tear down every obstacle and ultimately establish its ascendancy over its adversaries. Similarly, the Cause of God will break up old and time-honoured institutions and will not allow any man, regardless of his rank or position, to stand in its way.

A cursory review of the history of the Faith will demonstrate the irresistible power of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh. From the time of its inception this Faith had been oppressed by the civil and ecclesiastical authorities in the land of its birth. Its youthful Herald, the Báb, Who ushered in the dawn of a New Day and gave the glad-tidings of the coming of 'Him Whom God shall make manifest' (Bahá'u'lláh), was publicly martyred. Its Founder, Bahá'u'lláh, was imprisoned and exiled to far-off lands. For almost half a century He and His family were subjected to inhuman cruelties and hardships. No less than twenty

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thousand of its heroes were put to death in tragic circumstances and the remainder of its followers were persecuted all their lives.

Yet, the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, supported by the unseen hosts of the Kingdom, triumphed over its adversaries and penetrated into every part of the world. Today its light has been diffused to every corner of the earth, its healing Message has reached almost every stratum of human society and people are responding to it in ever increasing numbers. Its adherents, enrolled from all the nations of the world, representing every race, colour and class, are actively engaged in the erection of the framework of Bahá'u'lláh's New World Order for mankind. Such achievements bear ample testimony to the fulfilment of the words of Bahá'u'lláh revealed in this Tablet over a century ago.

Bahá'u'lláh has also used the analogy of the river to demonstrate another point. He mentions that the outpourings of God's bounty are vouchsafed to all creation equally, but that every created thing receives them in accordance with its capacity.

Bahá'u'lláh also speaks in this Tablet about miracles which are attributed to the Prophets. He states that one should not deny the performance of miracles by these Holy Souls, but emphasizes that miracles are not a conclusive proof of the authenticity of Their Messages. The greatest and the most evident sign of Prophethood has always been the Revelation of the Word of God. Everything created in this world is a miracle in itself if we look at it with the eye of discernment. For example, the outpouring of energy from the sun is a miracle indeed, for the mind of man could never have believed in such a phenomenon if he had not actually seen the radiance of the sun with his own eyes.

In the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh there are many references to miracles. In all of these the Word revealed by the Prophet is regarded as the most potent force in the world. The creativeness of the Word is a miracle which is everlasting and cannot be obliterated by the passage of time. Other miracles, if performed,

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convince only those who witness them and are not accepted as conclusive proof by those who have not.

The followers of all religions have attributed many miracles to their Prophets, miracles which traditionally are passed on from generation to generation although their inner significances have not been fully understood. Upon these miracles have been built, over the centuries, many doctrines and dogmas which have become mighty barriers between God and man.

In the East, at the time of Bahá'u'lláh, when the light of religion was still burning brightly within the hearts of men, the followers of these religions adhered strictly, indeed often fanatically, to their beliefs. Bahá'í teachers had to lead them from blind belief in miracles to a rational recognition of the divine qualities and spiritual powers possessed by the Manifestations of God. Their principal task was to demonstrate to the followers of each religion the reality and truth of their own Prophet before explaining to them the station of Bahá'u'lláh and the validity of His claim. Once the seeker could understand the spiritual attributes of his own Prophet, he had no difficulty in recognizing Bahá'u'lláh. Christ confirmed this when He said to the Jews, 'For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me...' (John v. 46).

To the recipient of this Tablet Bahá'u'lláh offers one counsel, namely to 'possess a pure, kindly and radiant heart, that thine may be a sovereignty ancient, imperishable and everlasting'.* He affirms that He could find no better counsel than this for his spiritual growth and the attainment of eternal life.

This Tablet must have been revealed by Bahá'u'lláh at a time when His heart was full of anguish and grief. A few unfaithful companions such as Mírzá Yahyá and his notorious associate, Siyyid Muhammad-i-Isfahání, had shown such envy and malice towards Him that, as stated in this Tablet, He had been most reluctant to write. Apprehensive of the reaction which His words might produce, and knowing full well what animosity and envy they might kindle if He were to elucidate further

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* Bahá'u'lláh uses these same words in The Hidden Words. (Arabic, no. 1.)

these truths of the spirit or reveal the pearls of knowledge hidden within His own heart, He decided to withhold His Pen from disclosing words of deeper significance and wisdom.

Madínatu'r-Ridá

Another Tablet revealed in Baghdád, in Arabic, was the Madínatu'r-Ridá (City of Radiant Acquiescence). In it Bahá'u'lláh describes the attributes of 'contentment and radiant acquiescence' and reveals their manifold aspects. He explains that the prime requisite for those who wish to tread the path of contentment is to be resigned to the Will of God, to accept radiantly whatever He has destined for them and to acknowledge joyfully all that has been revealed by the Pen of the Báb.*

Another aspect is to be content with one's own self. Bahá'u'lláh states that man will never achieve this as long as he commits even a single sin, however insignificant it may be. It is, therefore, impossible for him to become content with his own self as long as he remains attached to this world, nor can he experience contentment if he resents the sufferings and hardships which are meted out to him in this life. For how can he claim to love God when he is unhappy at what his Beloved has ordained for him? The true state of resignation is to accept with radiant acquiescence the trials and tribulations which are sent by the Almighty.

Yet another aspect of contentment is to be pleased with the believers and to be humble before them. To show pride towards them is to show pride to God; for man cannot attain the good-pleasure of his Creator unless he obtains the good-pleasure of His loved ones.

Although this Tablet was revealed before His Declaration, Bahá'u'lláh alludes to Himself as the Nightingale warbling its

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* Until Bahá'u'lláh had officially declared His Mission, the laws and teachings revealed by the Báb were operative and Bahá'u'lláh, in His Tablets, enjoined the Bábís to follow them.

melodies and the Light that shines within the lamp of holiness. Referring to the Cause as the Ark of God, He calls on the people of the Bayán to enter this Ark, rebukes them for sleeping while the Sun of Truth* is shining in its meridian splendour, and gives them the glad-tidings that soon the Trumpet† will be blown, the doors of the Ridván‡ will be opened, and God will manifest Himself with a new Revelation.

Further, He reminds the believers that this world and everything in it are vain and fleeting, exhorts them to be patient under ills and hardships and assures them of God's reward for those who endure patiently.

He also addresses the peoples of the world, admonishing them for rejecting their Creator, while putting their trust in themselves and in this world, and He counsels them to ponder the transitory nature of this world, in which human life is but the short journey of a traveller, and invites them to return to their God.

Madínatu't-Tawhíd

The Tablet of Madínatu't-Tawhíd(The City of Unity) was revealed by Bahá'u'lláh for Shaykh Salmán, one of His staunch and faithful disciples. He was from the village of Hindíyán in south-west Persia. He was originally called Shaykh Khanjar, but Bahá'u'lláh conferred upon him the name of Salmán, reminiscent of Rúz-bih, the Persian disciple of Muhammad whom the Prophet loved so much and whose name He had changed to Salmán.

Bahá'u'lláh spent forty years of His ministry in exile away from His homeland where the great majority of His followers

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* Bahá'u'lláh.

† The Trumpet-blast mentioned in the Qur'án signifies the proclamation of the Message of Bahá'u'lláh.

‡ Literally, Paradise. It is also significant to note here that Bahá'u'lláh declared His Mission in 1863 in a garden outside Baghdád which was designated the 'Garden of Ridván'.

resided. It was most important, therefore, to establish a channel of communication through which His Tablets and Messages could reach the friends. Often, believers who had attained His presence were entrusted by Him with the task of taking back some of His Tablets to deliver them to their destinations. But this was not always an easy mission to accomplish, for the enemies of the Cause were vigilant both in Persia and in the neighbouring countries. They kept a careful watch not only along the borders of Persia but also within the country itself, and confiscated any material connected with the Faith.

Shaykh Salmán played a major part in the dissemination of Bahá'u'lláh's Writings among the believers in Persia, became renowned among the friends, and is immortalized in the annals of the Faith by the designation 'Messenger of the Merciful' conferred upon him by Bahá'u'lláh. He was the first messenger to arrive in 'Iráq shortly after Bahá'u'lláh's arrival in that country. From that time until the end of Bahá'u'lláh's ministry, for a period of forty years, he carried the Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh to the believers in Persia and brought back their letters and messages to Him. Each year he visited Bahá'u'lláh, travelling thousands of miles, often on foot. During these years he never remained in one place, but travelled continuously from one town to another, where he would meet the friends, give them news of Bahá'u'lláh and deliver His Tablets and Messages to them. And after the ascension of Bahá'u'lláh, he continued these journeys for many years in the service of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. In all his travels he acted with such prudence and wisdom that none of the Tablets in his care ever fell into the hands of enemies.

Shaykh Salmán had great physical stamina. Many times in the course of his journeys he was subjected to bitter persecution, but through the power of faith he endured such hardships with fortitude and resignation. He lived in poverty. His daily food was simple and often consisted of a loaf of bread and raw onions. He was illiterate, but the knowledge of God was bestowed upon him by Bahá'u'lláh. Through this bounty he

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ONE SHEET OF 'REVELATION WRITING' BY MÍRZÁ ÁQÁ JÁN

ONE SHEET OF 'REVELATION WRITING' BY MÍRZÁ ÁQÁ JÁN
(reduced from the original size of 35 x 22 cms)

Only the first few words are sufficiently legible to identify the
passage as the third Tajallí of the Tablet of Tajallíyát

ONE SHEET OF 'REVELATION WRITING' BY MÍRZÁ ÁQÁ JÁN



A FEW LINES OF THE 'REVELATION WRITING'

A FEW LINES OF THE 'REVELATION WRITING'

From the Tablet illustrated on the previous page (actual size)

MÍRZÁ HUSAYN-I-ISFAHÁNÍ

MÍRZÁ HUSAYN-I-ISFAHÁNÍ

Entitled Mishkín-Qalam
An Apostle of Bahá'u'lláh and distinguished calligrapher

had acquired a deep understanding of the verities of the Cause of God and a clear vision of the worlds of spirit.

Believers who wished to attain the presence of Bahá'u'lláh would seek permission from Him to do so, and in this matter Bahá'u'lláh relied so much on Shaykh Salmán's judgement that at one stage He delegated to him the authority to give permission, on His behalf, to those upon whom this great privilege was to be conferred.

There are many anecdotes connected with the life of Shaykh Salmán. His simple and unsophisticated nature, his clear insight, his wisdom and tact when confronted with dangerous or difficult situations, above all his faith in Bahá'u'lláh are all vividly portrayed in these narratives. An interesting incident is recorded in the memoirs of Hájí Muhammad-Táhir-i-Málmírí which demonstrates Shaykh Salmán's sound judgement and understanding.

Hájí Muhammad-Táhir, to whom reference was made in a previous chapter, attained the presence of Bahá'u'lláh in 'Akká about 1878 and returned to Persia in company with Shaykh Salmán. The following is a translation of an extract from his memoirs describing their journey together to Shíráz.

Before our arrival in Shíráz, in the village of Zarqán, Shaykh Salmán sent a letter to Hájí Siyyid Ismá'íl-i-Azghandí [a Bahá'í] requesting him to come and meet us outside the city. The reason for this was that Shaykh Salmán had a number of Tablets and other Bahá'í relics with him and as a precaution he wanted this man to take them to Shíráz, because each passenger travelling with the caravan* would be searched by officials before entering the city.

In response to this letter, Hájí Siyyid Ismá'íl came on his donkey to Zarqán and took the Tablets and other articles with him to Shíráz. We ourselves followed him in due course and after being searched at the check-point went straight to his house in Shíráz. Our host used to spend much of his time
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* A number of camels or donkeys travelling together carrying passengers from one place to another.

in the company of Mushíru'l-Mulk.* The latter had recently retired from his government post and his nephew had succeeded him in this high office. Since his retirement Mushíru'l-Mulk used to spend most of his time in his country home. It was through his gardener there..., a Bahá'í, that he was attracted to the Faith.

Soon after his conversion, Mushíru'l-Mulk deputized his friend Hájí Siyyid Ismá'íl to attain the presence of Bahá'u'lláh and present to Him, on his behalf, the sum of one thousand túmáns and an exquisite pen-case.† Bahá'u'lláh graciously accepted the pen-case but declined the money which He gave to the bearer. He revealed a Tablet for Mushíru'l-Mulk which was brought to Shíráz by Shaykh Salmán and delivered to him through his friend Hájí Siyyid Ismá'íl.

On hearing that Shaykh Salmán was in Shíráz, Mushíru'l-Mulk intimated his desire to meet him and asked his friend to bring Shaykh Salmán to his house the next day. But Shaykh Salmán did not wish to meet Mushíru'l-Mulk. He declined the invitation, giving the excuse that he had no time as he was in a hurry to leave Shíráz. Mushíru'l-Mulk, however, was very eager for this meeting and responded to this message by saying: 'Now that Shaykh Salmán is in such a hurry to go, I shall come instead to his place of residence in the morning.'

When this message was conveyed to Shaykh Salmán he turned to me and said, 'Let us collect our belongings and leave this place.' We left the home of Hájí Siyyid Ismá'íl and took residence in a caravanserai in the town.

Hájí Siyyid Ismá'íl could not understand Shaykh Salmán's reason for refusing to meet Mushíru'l-Mulk and begged him to change his mind. But he refused, saying: 'If Mushíru'l-Mulk meets me he will lose his faith and will leave the Cause.' When pressed to give his reasons Shaykh Salmán replied, 'Mushíru'l-Mulk has heard many traditions and stories about

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* A civil dignitary of the city of Shíráz who held a high position in government circles. In those days such people had immense prestige in the community and were honoured by all.

† It appears that Mushíru'l-Mulk had not been strong in the Faith and because of his position had been careful not to become known publicly as a Bahá'í.

Salmán, the disciple of Muhammad. For instance, he has heard the fantastic story that fire had no effect upon the feet of Salmán, and that he used to put his own feet instead of wood into a fireplace and heat the pots up with them. No doubt, Mushíru'l-Mulk expects to see similar things from me or he thinks that I have a face radiant and beautiful as an angel's. When he sees my ugly face and rough appearance he will leave the Faith.' Later on this story was mentioned to Bahá'u'lláh, Who confirmed that Shaykh Salmán had been right and that Mushíru'l-Mulk would have left the Faith had that meeting taken place.1

Shaykh Salmán, through his long association with the friends and his intimate knowledge of the spirit of the Faith, had acquired an unusual insight into the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh. For instance, the same Hájí Muhammad-Táhir is reported to have said that on their journey together Shaykh Salmán was carrying many Tablets for distribution among the believers in Persia. But none of those Tablets carried the name or address of the one for whom it was destined. This was possibly for the protection of the friends. When, in the course of this journey, Shaykh Salmán reached a place of safety he would take out these Tablets and, being himself illiterate, would ask Hájí Muhammad-Táhir to read them for him. From the contents and the tone of Bahá'u'lláh's words Shaykh Salmán knew for whom the Tablets were intended. He would then ask Hájí Muhammad-Táhir to inscribe their names upon them.

These and many other instances in the life of Shaykh Salmán illustrate the purity of his heart and the clarity of his vision. Although unlettered, he had been endowed with a deep understanding of spiritual verities and divine mysteries and stands out as one of the spiritual giants of this Dispensation.

Bahá'u'lláh has revealed many Tablets for Shaykh Salmán, which often deal with weighty and profound subjects. The Tablet of Madínatu't-Tawhíd is an example. It is in Arabic and its theme is the oneness of God--a subject which Shaykh Salmán had requested Bahá'u'lláh to elucidate for him. He asserts

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1. Unpublished memoirs of Hájí Muhammad-Táhir-i-Málmírí.
that the unity of God has innumerable features, most of which are beyond the comprehension of man.

With the exception of a short passage which appears in Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh,* this Tablet has not so far been translated into English. But Bahá'u'lláh's description of a personal God, incomparable, inaccessible, unknowable, omnipotent, self-subsistent, is similar to that found in other Tablets, some of which are available in English. For example, the following are words of Bahá'u'lláh as He communes with God and extols the Supreme Being:

Exalted, immeasurably exalted art Thou, O my Beloved, above the strivings of any of Thy creatures, however learned, to know Thee; exalted, immensely exalted art Thou above every human attempt, no matter how searching, to describe Thee! For the highest thought of men, however deep their contemplation, can never hope to outsoar the limitations imposed upon Thy creation, nor ascend beyond the state of the contingent world, nor break the bounds irrevocably set for it by Thee. How can, then, a thing that hath been created by Thy will that overruleth the whole of creation, a thing that is itself a part of the contingent world, have the power to soar into the holy atmosphere of Thy knowledge, or reach unto the seat of Thy transcendent power?

High, immeasurably high art Thou above the endeavours of the evanescent creature to soar unto the throne of Thine eternity, or of the poor and wretched to attain the summit of Thine all-sufficing glory! From eternity Thou didst Thyself describe Thine own Self unto Thy Self, and extol, in Thine own Essence, Thine Essence unto Thine Essence. I swear by Thy glory, O my Best-Beloved! Who is there besides Thee that can claim to know Thee, and who save Thyself can make fitting mention of Thee? Thou art He Who, from eternity, abode in His realm, in the glory of His transcendent unity, and the splendours of His holy grandeur. Were any one except Thee to be deemed worthy of mention, in all the kingdoms of Thy creation, from the highest realms of immortality

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* Section XXIV.

down to the level of this nether world, how could it, then, be demonstrated that Thou art established upon the throne of Thy unity, and how could the wondrous virtues of Thy oneness and Thy singleness be glorified?

I bear witness, this very moment, to what Thou hast testified for Thine own Self, ere Thou hadst created the heavens and the earth, that Thou art God, and that there is none other God besides Thee. Thou hast from everlasting been potent, through the Manifestations of Thy might, to reveal the signs of Thy power, and Thou hast ever known, through the Day-Springs of Thy knowledge, the words of Thy wisdom. No one besides Thee hath ever been found worthy to be mentioned before the Tabernacle of Thy unity, and none except Thyself hath proved himself capable of being praised within the hallowed court of Thy oneness.2

And again:

Lauded be Thy name, O my God! I testify that no thought of Thee, howsoever wondrous, can ever ascend into the heaven of Thy knowledge, and no praise of Thee, no matter how transcendent, can soar up to the atmosphere of Thy wisdom. From eternity Thou hast been removed far above the reach and the ken of the comprehension of Thy servants, and immeasurably exalted above the strivings of Thy bond-slaves to express Thy mystery. What power can the shadowy creature claim to possess when face to face with Him Who is the Uncreated?

I bear witness that the highest thoughts of all such as adore Thy unity, and the profoundest contemplations of all them that have recognized Thee, are but the product of what hath been generated through the movement of the Pen of Thy behest, and hath been begotten by Thy will. I swear by Thy glory, O Thou Who art the Beloved of my soul and the Fountain of my life! I am persuaded of my powerlessness to describe and extol Thee in a manner that becometh the greatness of Thy glory and the excellence of Thy majesty. Aware as I am of this, I beseech Thee, by Thy mercy that hath surpassed all created things, and Thy grace that hath

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2. Bahá'u'lláh, Prayers and Meditations by Bahá'u'lláh, no. 184.
embraced the entire creation, to accept from Thy servants what they are capable of showing forth in Thy path. Aid them, then, by Thy strengthening grace, to exalt Thy word and to blazon Thy praise.

Powerful art Thou to do what pleaseth Thee. Thou, truly, art the All-Glorious, the All-Wise.3

In innumerable Tablets and prayers Bahá'u'lláh has proclaimed the existence of God, described His manifold attributes, and glorified His Essence. Indeed, one of the greatest contributions which Bahá'u'lláh has made to religious knowledge is that He has revealed, to the extent of man's understanding in this age, the true nature of God, unravelled some of the mysteries of His creation and removed many misunderstandings and man-made theories concerning Him.

In the Tablet of Madínatu't-Tawhíd Bahá'u'lláh speaks about the Manifestation of God. He explains that since man can never know God's essence, He has, through His grace and bounty, sent His Messengers and Chosen Ones and has, through Them, manifested all His attributes. To know Them is to know God and to obey Them is to obey God. The nearest that man can approach to God is to recognize His Manifestations.

In one of His Tablets Bahá'u'lláh describes the Manifestation as the mirror reflecting the sun. Physically the mirror is made of matter but the light which it reflects comes from the sun.

Similarly, the Manifestation, although a human being, manifests all the attributes of God to man. In the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh and the Báb and in other Holy Books there are many references to God's names and attributes which are manifested in this creation.

There is a beautiful prayer in Shí'ah Islám, usually said during the period of fasting in the month of Ramadán, which invokes God through His names. There are nineteen invocations in this prayer and each revolves around one of His names, the first being Bahá (Glory). The Báb has taken these names in the same order and given them to the nineteen months of His

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3. Bahá'u'lláh, Prayers and Meditations by Bahá'u'lláh, no. 88.
calendar, each month having nineteen days. This calendar is the basis of the Badí' Calendar, which is the one in use in this Dispensation.*

It is one of the traditions of Islám that the 'Greatest Name of God' is among these nineteen names. Many Islámic scholars failed to solve this mystery. However, in the late sixteenth century a scholar of renown claimed that the 'Greatest Name of God' was Bahá and, in consequence, himself adopted the name of Shaykh Bahá'í. He was born in Lebanon in the year 953 A.H. and travelled as a young boy to Persia. There he received his education, proceeding later to the court of Sháh 'Abbás where he attained unsurpassed eminence on account of his achievements in the arts, sciences and theology.

Bahá'u'lláh has confirmed that the 'Greatest Name' is Bahá. The various derivatives of this word in Arabic are also regarded as the 'Greatest Name'. The Báb, recognizing the station of Bahá'u'lláh as the Supreme Manifestation of God, has lauded His name in His Writings and has made many wonderful references to the name 'Bahá'. For example, before His martyrdom, He wrote on a scroll, in the form of a pentacle, three hundred and sixty derivatives of the word 'Bahá' which He sent to Bahá'u'lláh, together with some documents, His seals and other Writings.

In the Tablet of Madínatu't-Tawhíd Bahá'u'lláh mentions that although God's attributes are numerous, yet in His own realm He is sanctified above all attributes and exalted above all names. To apply any attribute to Him would indeed be tantamount to a limitation. In God's dominion there can be no multiplicity. His Essence and attributes remain one and the same and are indivisible. It is within the realms of the Manifestations that multiplicity of attributes occurs. Here we see many attributes

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* Bahá'u'lláh specified that this calendar should begin in A.D. 1844 (the year of the Declaration of the Báb), and He also determined the position of the intercalary days. Nabíl-i-A'zam was asked by Bahá'u'lláh, about A.D. 1871, to transcribe the text of the Badí' Calendar and instruct the believers in its details.

such as love, knowledge, power and sovereignty revealed by these Holy Souls.

In this Tablet Bahá'u'lláh affirms that God, through His bounty, sends His Manifestations to the world of humanity so that They may reveal His teachings and exhort men to follow the right way. But man in this life has been given freedom of choice. He can choose the path of truth or tarry in the wilderness of self and passion. Whichever path he selects, God will assist him through His justice. For it would be unjust if the Almighty forced His servants to change their ways. This statement throws light on the relationship of the two attributes of God, His bounty and His justice.

In explaining the Unity of God, Bahá'u'lláh in this Tablet states that there is but one God Whose worshippers may come from various backgrounds and may worship Him in different ways. Nevertheless their words, if pure, will ascend to His exalted threshold and will be acceptable in His sight.

Speaking of the Manifestations of God, Bahá'u'lláh affirms that since They reveal the same attributes there can be no difference between Them. Here are words of Bahá'u'lláh revealed in the Tablet of Madínatu't-Tawhíd:

Beware, O believers in the Unity of God, lest ye be tempted to make any distinction between any of the Manifestations of His Cause, or to discriminate against the signs that have accompanied and proclaimed their Revelation. This indeed is the true meaning of Divine Unity, if ye be of them that apprehend and believe this truth. Be ye assured, moreover, that the works and acts of each and every one of these Manifestations of God, nay whatever pertaineth unto them, and whatsoever they may manifest in the future, are all ordained by God, and are a reflection of His Will and Purpose. Whoso maketh the slightest possible difference between their persons, their words, their messages, their acts and manners, hath indeed disbelieved in God, hath repudiated His signs, and betrayed the Cause of His Messengers.4

Bahá'u'lláh further explains in this Tablet that although there
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4. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, section XXIV.
is no basic difference between the Manifestations, yet They differ in the intensity of Their Revelations and because of this Some are exalted above Others. He speaks of the loftiness of the station of the Báb and refers to Him as the Point around Whom the souls of all the Messengers of God revolve. Although Bahá'u'lláh had not yet declared His Mission, He alludes to His own Revelation as the advent of the Day of God when the doors of Paradise will be opened to all mankind, a Day that shall not be followed by night, a Day in which man can behold the Face of God Himself.*

Súriy-i-Qadír

Another of Bahá'u'lláh's Writings revealed in Baghdád is the Súriy-i-Qadír (Súrih of the Omnipotent). Here Bahá'u'lláh reveals the potentialities of this single divine attribute, declaring that the Day-star of the name of God 'The Mighty' has, through the revelation of this Tablet, shed its splendours upon the whole of creation. He calls the peoples of the world to turn their hearts towards its effulgent rays, to be illumined by them and to witness the manifestation of this name, the Mighty, the Omnipotent, within themselves.

He whose heart is enlightened by its radiance, Bahá'u'lláh unequivocally declares, will be filled with power to accomplish whatever he wishes. Should all the world arise against him, through the power of God he will alone withstand its onslaught and establish his ascendancy. But he who deprives himself of this Source of power will never be able to realize God's Omnipotence.

Stories of the heroism demonstrated by Bahá'u'lláh's disciples and companions fill the pages of the Faith's history. Though outwardly weak and helpless, they received such power from on

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* In the Qur'án and the hadíth there are many references to the Day in which man will be able to attain the presence of God. Bahá'u'lláh has clearly proclaimed that, since God is inaccessible, the object of these prophecies is none other than Bahá'u'lláh Himself.

high that their extraordinary courage and spirit made them appear as giants and they were enabled to overcome insurmountable obstacles. Indeed, they performed the miracles of which Christ speaks: '. . . If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.' (Matt. xvii. 20.)

But Bahá'u'lláh warns those who attain this attribute and reach the summit of authority and power to guard against pride and vainglory. He alludes to Mírzá Yahyá, who grew proud of the loftiness and grandeur of his position, showed arrogance towards his Lord and repudiated the Cause of God. This Tablet, Bahá'u'lláh states, has released a power in the world which each being can manifest in accordance with its capacity. 'This is a new cycle of human power' are the words with which 'Abdu'l-Bahá chose to address His first audience of the Western world, in City Temple, London, in the year 1911.

All the horizons of the world are luminous, and the world will become indeed as a garden and a paradise. It is the hour of unity of the sons of men and of the drawing together of all races and all classes.5

The history of mankind demonstrates that for thousands of years man's progress in every field was slow and unspectacular. But since the coming of the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh, the rate of progress has accelerated astonishingly. Today, man is possessed of such power that he can travel in space and may soon reach other planets. On the other hand, such achievements if not coupled with spiritual progress will bring in their wake man's destruction upon this earth.

The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh is designed to create a balance between the spiritual and material so that this power can work within proper channels to introduce the most wonderful age in human history. Bahá'u'lláh has made ample provision in His Teachings for the establishment of a divine civilization. He has delineated the basic features of a New World Order for man-

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5. Balyuzi, 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 141.
kind, and Bahá'ís throughout the world are actively engaged in the building of its embryonic institutions. They are convinced that only through this divinely-ordained, world-encircling system can the Kingdom of God, promised by the Prophets of the past, be established upon the earth.

The release of power into the world of humanity by Bahá'u'lláh is a continuing process. No one can as yet see its noble fruits, nor visualize the glory and wonder of the Golden Age of His Faith which is destined to emerge after the establishment of His World Order.

To the emergence of this day Bahá'u'lláh has testified in these words:

The heights which, through the most gracious favour of God, mortal man can attain in this Day are as yet unrevealed to his sight. The world of being hath never had, nor doth it yet possess, the capacity for such a revelation. The day, however, is approaching when the potentialities of so great a favour will, by virtue of His behest, be manifested unto men.6

And again:

The whole earth is now in a state of pregnancy. 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. Immeasurably exalted is the breeze that wafteth from the garment of thy Lord, the Glorified! For lo, it hath breathed its fragrance and made all things new! Well is it with them that comprehend.7

And, finally, in the Súriy-i-Haykal (Súrih of the Temple), one of His mighty Tablets revealed in 'Akká, He proclaims:

The onrushing winds of the grace of God have passed over all things. Every creature hath been endowed with all the potentialities it can carry. And yet the peoples of the world have denied this grace! Every tree hath been endowed with
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6. Shoghi Effendi, 'The Unfoldment of World Civilization', included in The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 168, for the lines quoted.

7. ibid., p. 169, for the lines quoted.

the choicest fruits, every ocean enriched with the most luminous gems. Man, himself, hath been invested with the gifts of understanding and knowledge. The whole creation hath been made the recipient of the revelation of the All-Merciful, and the earth the repository of things inscrutable to all except God, the Truth, the Knower of things unseen. The time is approaching when every created thing will have cast its burden. Glorified be God Who hath vouchsafed this grace that encompasseth all things, whether seen or unseen!8

The revelation of the Súrih of Qadír, through which Bahá'u'lláh has breathed the spirit of might and power upon the world, is an example of the creativeness of His utterances. Through the agency of His words He has similarly caused other divine attributes to be manifested to men. Bahá'u'lláh testifies in one of His Tablets:

Know thou of a certainty that the Revelation of every other Name is accompanied by a similar manifestation of Divine power. Every single letter proceeding out of the mouth of God is indeed a mother letter, and every word uttered by Him Who is the Well-Spring of Divine Revelation is a mother word, and His Tablet a Mother Tablet. Well is it with them that apprehend this truth.9

Hurúfát-i-'Állín

Hurúfát-i-'Állín* (The Exalted Letters) is a Tablet in eight parts revealed by Bahá'u'lláh and dedicated to the memory of Mírzá Muhammad-i-Vazír, a cousin who died in the province of Núr. He sent it at the hour of their loneliness and grief to Maryam, the sister of Mírzá Muhammad, and Havvá, his wife, to comfort and console them. Maryam and Havvá were also cousins of Bahá'u'lláh.

Reference has already been made to Maryam in a previous chapter. She was devoted to Bahá'u'lláh and His Faith and was very dear to Him. Mírzá Muhammad-i-Vazír was also a

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* Also titled Musíbát-i-Hurúfát-i-'Álíyát


8. Shoghi Effendi, 'The Unfoldment of World Civilization', included in The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 169.

9. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, section lxxiv.

believer, reputed to be the very first among the family of Bahá'u'lláh to have been converted by Him to the Bábí Faith in the province of Núr in 1844.

Hurúfát-i-'Állín was revealed originally in Arabic. At the request of some friends Bahá'u'lláh Himself translated it into Persian of a particularly beautiful style. The Tablet speaks of death and the life hereafter, and is often chanted when commemorating the death of a believer.

In it, Bahá'u'lláh portrays creation in vivid terms but refers mainly to the individual life of the believer. For example, He describes his coming into being and recalls the various stages of his creation: first, his seed existing potentially within his forefathers, then its transference from one to another, and finally his appearance as an embryo within the womb of his mother.

This Tablet recounts the bounties of God which have been showered upon the believer's soul from the moment of creation: how, with the invisible hands of love and care He has endowed him with a soul eternal and imperishable, imprinted on him His own image, caused him to be born into this world, fashioned him into a noble creation, enabled him to grow under the shadow of His providence, bestowed upon him His gifts and bounties, opening his eyes to behold the grandeur, the beauty and vastness of His creation and enabling him to recognize His Manifestation and thus gain eternal life.

Bahá'u'lláh states that the believer, having obtained the spirit of faith, reaches the stage of certitude, endures suffering and persecutions in the path of God, renounces the world, becomes wholly devoted to Him and manifests the power, the glory and all the other virtues with which his soul had been invested.

Having glorified, in detail and with much eloquence, the station of the soul and described its immortality, Bahá'u'lláh then directs His attention to physical death and dwells on the afflictions which befall the human temple. At this point the vehicle of so precious an entity as the soul becomes useless, is

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discarded and buried under the dust. The being who once pulsated with life, whose thoughts, words and actions affected others, whose feelings of love, compassion and generosity imparted joy to his fellow-men is gone from this world. The hands and feet which moved for many years in the service of God are now stilled. The eyes that beheld His glory are now closed. The ears which heard the melodies of the Kingdom are shut. The perfect union which for a lifetime brought the soul and the body together is now ended, as one is elevated to great heights and the other abased and condemned to perish.

In this Tablet Bahá'u'lláh refers to death as an affliction for the body and confirms that since the spiritual worlds of God are hidden from the eyes of men, it is difficult for those who are bereaved by the death of their loved ones not to feel the anguish of separation in their hearts. He therefore counsels them to fix their attention on the spiritual realms of God and the immortality of the soul.

Elsewhere in His Writings Bahá'u'lláh has referred to the habits and customs of various peoples when mourning the departed. Some celebrate the occasion, play music and make merry, while others cry unceasingly, scream and beat upon their heads. Bahá'u'lláh has disapproved of both extremes. Instead He has enjoined His followers to take the path of moderation. He asks them, while their hearts are filled with grief in their bereavement, to meditate upon their own fate, to take heed that one day they too will have to depart in the same way, and to prepare themselves for the next life. In the Kitáb-i-Aqdas He counsels His followers in these words:

Lament not in your hours of trial, neither rejoice therein; seek ye the Middle Way which is the remembrance of Me in your afflictions and reflection over that which may befall you in future. Thus informeth you, He Who is the Omniscient, He Who is Aware.10

The last part of this Tablet was revealed particularly for Maryam and Havvá. In it Bahá'u'lláh has poured His love and
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10. Star of the West, vol. XIV, p. 112.


The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶43
sympathy upon them both, and consoled them with tenderness and affection.

Lawh-i-Húríyyih

A beautiful Tablet in Arabic known as the Lawh-i-Húríyyih (Tablet of the Maiden) was revealed in Baghdád. Its perusal moves the heart and evokes feelings of excitement and wonder within the soul. For Bahá'u'lláh has portrayed in this Tablet a marvellous picture of Divine Revelation. He has clothed with the garment of words a noble spiritual experience which is at once inexpressible, mysterious and soul-stirring. With His Pen He has depicted, as if in a sublime drama, a vision of divine attributes. The two figures of this drama are Bahá'u'lláh, the Supreme Manifestation of God, and a Maid of Heaven symbolic of some of God's glorious attributes hitherto veiled to mankind.

The dialogue between the two is fascinating. It reveals, on the one hand, the unique station of Bahá'u'lláh and, on the other, the afflictions which had befallen Him through the misdeeds of a perverse generation.

It is not an easy task to describe this Tablet, bearing in mind that it was revealed by Bahá'u'lláh in allusive language which has not been translated into English.

Lawh-i-Áyiy-i-Núr

Another Tablet whose significance cannot easily be conveyed is the Lawh-i-Áyiy-i-Núr (Tablet of the Verse of Light), otherwise known as Tafsír-i-Hurúfát-i-Muqatta'ih (Interpretation of the Isolated Letters). It was revealed in Arabic, in honour of Mírzá Áqáy-i-Rikáb-Sáz, a native of Shíráz who laid down his life in the path of Bahá'u'lláh and is one of the martyrs of the Faith.

He requested Bahá'u'lláh to interpret for him a certain verse of the Qur'án and to explain the significance and the inner

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meanings of the isolated letters which appear in the beginning of certain chapters of that Book--letters which had puzzled many of the divines and students of the Qur'án.

It should be borne in mind that the fifth Imám of Shí'ah Islám (Imám Muhammad-Báqir) had already given an interpretation of these letters. For instance, he had indicated that the date of the appearance of the Qá'im* would be equal to the numerical value of certain specified isolated letters of the Qur'án, that is, 1260 A.H. (A.D. 1844), which is the year in which the Báb declared His Mission as the Promised One of Islám.

Bahá'u'lláh in this lengthy Tablet deals with both questions which Mírzá Áqá had asked. In His elucidation of the significance of the isolated letters, He throws further light on the subject and reveals certain hidden verities enshrined in these letters. His explanations are so profound as to overwhelm the imagination.

Although Bahá'u'lláh has expounded some of the mysteries which are contained within the isolated letters of the Qur'án, yet it is not possible to convey them to those who are not well versed in Islám nor familiar with the Arabic language.

Islám has made a great contribution to religious knowledge and provided a sound foundation for the comprehension of spiritual verities. The Qur'án is the repository of the Word of God revealed to Muhammad. But belief in, and knowledge of, the Qur'án does not necessarily help the individual fully to understand the spirit of Islám. The reason for this is that although Divine Revelation had ceased with the death of Muhammad, for over two hundred years God's guidance was vouchsafed to the Muslim community through the Holy Imáms. Those who turned to them received the spirit of faith and became filled with the knowledge of God, and those who rejected their authority and relied on their own understanding of the Qur'án were deprived of the inner significances of that Book.

The first Imám who was appointed by Muhammad to succeed Him was 'Alí, His cousin and son-in-law, and the first to be His

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* Literally, He Who arises: the Promised One of Islám.

disciple. He was to be regarded as the Guardian of the Faith of Islám and its spiritual head. This appointment, however, was not in writing and there is no mention of it in the Qur'án. It was made verbally to a great number of His followers assembled at a place called the Pool of Khumm, with the result that divisions arose within the Muslim community immediately after the Prophet's death, and an upheaval which was to have dire consequences engulfed the followers of Islám.

Because the appointment of 'Alí was not considered conclusive or binding by the majority of the followers of Muhammad, they disregarded the wishes of their Prophet and acted against His counsels. The arch-opponent of this appointment was 'Umar, who became the second Caliph of Islám. He campaigned against 'Alí, usurped his right of succession and rallied the people instead around the old and venerable person of Abú-Bakr who was installed as the first Caliph.

'Umar repudiated 'Alí and his position as the 'Interpreter of the Qur'án', saying: 'The Book of God is sufficient for us.' 'Abdu'l-Bahá has explained that these few words, embodying the forces of negation, were so potent that they became the prime factor in precipitating all the discord and bloodshed in the Islámic Dispensation. They caused the martyrdom of Imám 'Alí and His illustrious son, Imám Husayn. They gave rise to untold sufferings and death for countless devoted souls within the Islámic fold. The effect of these words, according to 'Abdu'l-Bahá's testimony, was so far-reaching that a thousand years later it brought about the martyrdom of the Báb and all the sufferings of Bahá'u'lláh.*

When man opposes the plan of God, the course of history changes. Who knows what further blessings would have been vouchsafed to mankind in general, and to Islám in particular, if the followers of Muhammad had remained faithful to 'Alí. For it was he who was endowed with divine guidance and

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* These statements were made by 'Abdu'l-Bahá in a Tablet known as Lawh-i-Hizár-Baytí (Tablet of One Thousand Verses), one of His most important Tablets concerning the Covenant.

through his unopposed leadership Islám could have exerted a far greater influence upon the peoples of the world.

As a result of man's rebelliousness Islám was divided into two major sects. The Sunnís who constitute the majority followed the Caliphs and built up the temporal power of Islám. The Shí'ahs, followers of 'Alí and eleven other Imáms* who were descended from him, concentrated on spiritual attainments, and are regarded by the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh as followers of the true sect of Islám.

The Imáms, extolled by Bahá'u'lláh as 'those unquenchable lights of Divine guidance', were the lawful successors of Muhammad. Through their elucidation and interpretation of the Qur'án they shed a great lustre upon the Faith of Islám, enriched its literature and disclosed many abstruse mysteries contained within its Scriptures.

Lawh-i-Fitnih

The Lawh-i-Fitnih (Tablet of the Test) is another of Bahá'u'lláh's Arabic Tablets revealed in Baghdád in honour of Princess Shams-i-Jihán.† She was a granddaughter of Fath-'Alí Sháh, and was known by the designation Fitnih. Her interest in the Faith began when she came in contact with, and became a close friend of Táhirih.‡

Shams-i-Jihán came to Baghdád, attained the presence of Bahá'u'lláh, recognized His station and became a devoted believer. The Pen of the Most High§ has revealed several

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* It is believed by a major sect of Shí'ah Islám that the Qá'im (the Promised One of Islám) will be the return of the Twelfth Imám. (See The Dawn-Breakers, Introduction, xxvii-ix (British ed.); li-iv (U.S. ed.).)

† Some Bahá'í scholars have stated that this Tablet was revealed in Adrianople; they may well be right.

‡ One of the 'Letters of the Living', the great heroine and the most outstanding woman among the apostles of the Báb.

§ A designation by which Bahá'u'lláh has referred to Himself as the Revealer of the Word of God.

Tablets for her and bestowed upon her the title of Varaqatu'r-Ridván (The Leaf of Paradise).

The Lawh-i-Fitnih, as its title indicates, is all about tests and trials which are associated with the Day of God. In it Bahá'u'lláh alludes to His own Revelation and states that through His advent the whole creation will be tried; no soul will be exempt. All those who are the embodiments of piety and wisdom, of knowledge and virtue, and even the realities of the Prophets and Messengers of God, will be tested.

In many of His Tablets Bahá'u'lláh has warned His followers about trials and tribulations which will come upon them when they enter the Faith. In every age the heart of man has been proved with the coming of the Manifestation of God. This is the law of God, eternal in the past and eternal in the future. However, this is the Day of God Himself and Bahá'u'lláh has released to humanity enormous spiritual energies. Therefore, the tests which accompany such a mighty Revelation are also great.

The Cause of God is exalted above the world of humanity. In order to embrace it, man must acquire divine qualities. Here, self and worldly ambitions become great barriers. The test of man, therefore, is to subdue his own self. Without this he cannot recognize the Prophet. For the Manifestation of God has two natures, the divine and the human. The former is always hidden by the latter. Only those who have spiritual eyes can penetrate through the veil of human limitations and behold the reality of the Manifestation. Those who are spiritually blind are tested by the personality of the Prophet. They can see only the human qualities and often seek to find fault with these Holy Souls.

After recognition of the Manifestation, the believer will be tested by God in many ways. Each time he passes a test, he will acquire greater spiritual insight and will grow stronger in faith.

The closer he gets to the person of the Manifestation the more difficult become his tests. It is then that any trace of ambition or ego may imperil his spiritual life.

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There is a tradition in Islám which sets forth the difficulties and perils encountered by man on his journey to God. It describes how all men will perish and die except the believers; all the believers will perish and die except those who are tested; all who are tested will perish and die except those who are sincere, and those who are sincere will be in great danger.

The history of the Faith amply demonstrates this. There were some disciples of Bahá'u'lláh whose faith and devotion had carried them to great heights. They were very close to His person and had become renowned among the believers. Yet, when the winds of test blew, the flame of faith was extinguished within their hearts because of their pride and ambition. As a result, they fell from grace and died spiritually. Among them were some of Bahá'u'lláh's own family. His half-brother, Mírzá Yahyá, rebelled against Him, and after His ascension three of His sons and two daughters, together with several relatives and a number of outstanding teachers of the Cause who all hitherto had served the Faith assiduously, broke His Covenant, opposed its appointed Centre 'Abdu'l-Bahá and arose unitedly to extinguish His Cause.

Some people are puzzled by the betrayals and opposition which took place from within the community, especially by those who were closest to Him. But the reason they turned away from Him was because they lacked sufficient faith and qualities of spirit, the essential prerequisites for recognition of the Manifestation of God and submission to His commandments.

One might by way of analogy compare such persons to those who, with no knowledge of mathematics, go to hear an eminent scientist expounding his theories in complicated mathematical terms. Obviously, they are not able to understand him or appreciate his brilliant work. They can see him in no other light than as an ordinary human being whose words are incomprehensible to them. So they begin to judge the scientist by their own standards and will consequently remain unmoved by his intellectual powers. The closer they are to him the better they can see his personal nature, which acts as a veil and hides his

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greatness from them. Only those who understand mathematics can appreciate the real genius of the scientist. In their view, his scientific knowledge outweighs his human qualities and, therefore, they do not focus their attention on his outward appearance.

Most of those who opposed Bahá'u'lláh or broke His Covenant after having embraced His Faith were ambitious men lacking in spiritual qualities, whose overriding purpose was to enhance their prestige and gain eminence within the Bahá'í community.

One such was Mírzá Muhammad-'Alí, Bahá'u'lláh's son. He was proud and craved leadership and power. Many of the disciples of Bahá'u'lláh who had spiritual eyes were able to detect in him an air of superiority and self-glorification. They felt his insincerity even before his violation of the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh.

For instance, Hájí Muhammad-Táhir-i-Málmírí has described in his memoirs his arrival in 'Akká around 1878 and his first meeting with Mírzá Muhammad-'Alí:

When we* arrived in Haifa...we were taken to the home of Áqá Muhammad-Ibráhím-i-Káshání. He was directed by Bahá'u'lláh to make his residence in Haifa, to handle the distribution of letters and to give assistance and hospitality to Bahá'í pilgrims. When Bahá'u'lláh was informed that the three of us had arrived, He advised, through Mírzá Áqá Ján...that in 'Akká I should stay with my brother Hájí 'Alí.† We were driven from Haifa to 'Akká in 'Abdu'l-Bahá's carriage. I was taken to Hájí 'Alí's residence, which was situated in the Khán-i-Súq-i-Abiyad (White Market), in close proximity to the residence of Mírzá Músá, Bahá'u'lláh's brother, and several other Bahá'ís such as Nabíl-i-A'zam...That day I was most happy. Joy and ecstasy filled my soul. The next day, Mírzá Muhammad-'Alí accompanied by his two brothers, Mírzá Díyá'u'lláh and Mírzá Badí'u'lláh, came
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* Hájí Muhammad-Táhir and two of his fellow pilgrims.

† See The Bahá'í World vol. IX, pp. 624-5, article on Hájí 'Alí Yazdí.

to Nabíl-i-A'zam's quarters to meet me. Very eagerly my brother and I went there to meet them. But no sooner had I met Mírzá Muhammad-'Alí and Badí'u'lláh than I became depressed and all the joy in my heart was transformed into sadness and grief. I was distressed...and bitterly disappointed with myself. I was wondering what had happened so suddenly that, in spite of all the eagerness and excitement which had filled my being on arrival in 'Akká, I had become so utterly gloomy and dispirited. I was convinced at that time that I had been rejected by God...

I was plunged into such a state of distress and anguish that I wanted to leave that gathering forthwith, but did not dare to do so. In my heart I was communing with God...anxiously waiting for the visitors to leave so that I could go out and try to find a solution for my sad condition. I noticed that whereas my brother and Nabíl-i-A'zam were enjoying themselves talking most happily with these sons of Bahá'u'lláh, I was in a state of mental turmoil and agony throughout the meeting...After about an hour, when the visitors were leaving, my brother thanked them most warmly and joyfully.

In the evening he informed me that we were to go and attain the presence of the Master in His reception room. Although depressed and grief-stricken as a result of meeting Mírzá Muhammad-'Alí, I went with him. As soon as I came into the presence of the Most Great Branch,* a new life was breathed into me. My whole being was filled with such joy and felicity that all the agonies and disturbances of the past vanished in an instant.

A few days later my brother invited me to go with him to meet Mírzá Muhammad-'Alí again, but in spite of much persuasion on his part I refused to go...During the period that I stayed in 'Akká, Mírzá Muhammad-'Alí came several times to the residence of Nabíl-i-A'zam, but I always found some excuse not to go there.11

After the ascension of his Father, Mírzá Muhammad-'Alí opposed 'Abdu'l-Bahá, the appointed Centre of the Cause, and
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* 'Abdu'l-Bahá, known as the Master.


11. Unpublished memoirs of Hájí Muhammad-Táhir-i-Málmírí.
precipitated a crisis within the community no less severe than that which shook the Cause to its foundations with the rebellion of Mírzá Yahyá. Even in the days of Bahá'u'lláh, Mírzá Muhammad-'Alí had conducted himself in such a way as to cause, on several occasions, great pain and anguish to Bahá'u'lláh. Once he was sent to India by his Father to publish a compilation of certain Tablets and on this occasion, as stated by Shoghi Effendi in God Passes By, he 'tampered with the text of the holy Writings entrusted to his care...' He also succeeded, 'by an exceedingly adroit and simple forgery of a word recurring in some of the denunciatory passages addressed by the Supreme Pen [Bahá'u'lláh] to Mírzá Yahyá, and by other devices such as mutilation and interpolation, . . , in making them directly applicable' to 'Abdu'l-Bahá. He even went so far as to advance 'openly and shamelessly...in a written statement, signed and sealed by him, the very claim' which, after Bahá'u'lláh's ascension, he imputed to 'Abdu'l-Bahá, namely, 'to inaugurate a new Dispensation, and to share with Him [Bahá'u'lláh] the Most Great Infallibility, the exclusive prerogative of the holders of the prophetic office'.12 Such an impious action evoked the wrath of Bahá'u'lláh. In a Tablet He warned that should Mírzá Muhammad-'Alí deviate for one moment from the Cause of God he would become as a dead branch. He emphasized in the same Tablet that no one can ever enter into partnership with the Manifestation of God and claim infallibility for himself.

One of the remarkable features of the Cause of God is that it does not harbour egotistical personalities. Its watchword is servitude, a servitude which is real and complete and which manifests itself in the form of humility and self-effacement.

In His Teachings Bahá'u'lláh has made it clear that there are only three stations in this world of existence. First, the station of God which is beyond our comprehension, then the station of the Manifestation of God which is exalted above the world of humanity, and lastly, the station of man which is that of servitude. In the service of the Cause of God the greatest protection

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12. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, pp. 248-9, for the words quoted.
for the individual is meekness and humility. It is the most acceptable gift that man can offer to God. For, by virtue of His sovereignty and dominion, humility is not one of God's attributes.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, the true Exemplar of the Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh, has established the pattern of servitude for all to follow. He descended to the lowest plane of servitude which is the highest station for man to attain.

Bahá'u'lláh's position was that of sovereignty and lordship. The position of His Son, 'Abdu'l-Bahá, was that of servitude. When water flows from the summit of a mountain and falls to the valley, it creates energy. Similarly, the flow of spiritual forces from Bahá'u'lláh to 'Abdu'l-Bahá has produced a great power which is released to mankind. When Bahá'u'lláh appeared there was no one worthy or capable of receiving His Revelation. 'Abdu'l-Bahá on behalf of humanity became its perfect recipient and, although not a Manifestation of God, He was invested with divine authority and power by Bahá'u'lláh.

In His Will and Testament, written by His own hand, Bahá'u'lláh has appointed 'Abdu'l-Bahá as the One to whom all the believers should turn after His ascension. In this momentous document Bahá'u'lláh writes:

It is incumbent upon the Aghsán,* the Afnán† and My kindred to turn, one and all, their faces towards the Most Mighty Branch. Consider that which We have revealed in Our Most Holy Book: 'When the ocean of My presence hath ebbed and the Book of My Revelation is ended, turn your faces towards Him Whom God hath purposed, Who hath branched from this Ancient Root.' The object of this sacred verse is none other except the Most Mighty Branch ['Abdu'l-Bahá]. Thus have We graciously revealed unto you our potent Will, and I am verily the Gracious, the All-Powerful.13

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* The male descendants of Bahá'u'lláh.

† 'Twigs', a designation used by Bahá'u'lláh to indicate the Báb's kinsmen, who are the descendants of the three maternal uncles of the Báb, and of the two brothers of His wife.


13. Shoghi Effendi, 'The Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh', included in The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 134.


["When the ocean..."] The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶121
In other Tablets Bahá'u'lláh has paid glowing tribute to the Most Mighty Branch and extolled His station. For instance, in the Súriy-i-Ghusn (Tablet of the Branch) Bahá'u'lláh has revealed the following words:

There hath branched from the Sadratu'l-Muntahá* this sacred and glorious Being, this Branch of Holiness; well is it with him that hath sought His shelter and abideth beneath His shadow. Verily the Limb of the Law of God hath sprung forth from this Root† which God hath firmly implanted in the Ground of His Will, and Whose Branch hath been so uplifted as to encompass the whole of creation. Magnified be He, therefore, for this sublime, this blessed, this mighty, this exalted Handiwork!...A Word hath, as a token of Our grace, gone forth from the Most Great Tablet--a Word which God hath adorned with the ornament of His own Self, and made it sovereign over the earth and all that is therein, and a sign of His greatness and power among its people...Render thanks unto God, O people, for His appearance; for verily He is the most great Favour unto you, the most perfect bounty upon you; and through Him every mouldering bone is quickened. Whoso turneth towards Him hath turned towards God, and whoso turneth away from Him hath turned away from My Beauty, hath repudiated My Proof, and transgressed against Me. He is the Trust of God amongst you, His charge within you, His manifestation unto you and His appearance among His favoured servants...We have sent Him down in the form of a human temple. Blest and sanctified be God Who createth whatsoever He willeth through His inviolable, His infallible decree. They who deprive themselves of the shadow of the Branch, are lost in the wilderness of error, are consumed by the heat of worldly desires, and are of those who will assuredly perish.14

In the Lawh-i-Fitnih Bahá'u'lláh states that the tests and trials accompanying His Revelation are so severe that a great many
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* A title of Bahá'u'lláh. See p. 83.

† Bahá'u'lláh.


14. Shoghi Effendi, 'The Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh', included in The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 135.
people who believe in God and are well-informed of the mysteries of His Cause will be deprived and left in darkness. Alluding to religious leaders, He foreshadows that these stars of the heaven of knowledge will fall. He affirms that through these tests all that is hidden within men's hearts will be disclosed, that mankind will be separated, some elevated to the heights of faithfulness, others cast down upon the dust. He mentions that the winds of this mighty test of God have already begun to blow and that the full force of their impact would be felt in the year of Shidád* (Stress). This is a reference to the rebellion of Mírzá Yahyá in Adrianople which shook the Faith to its foundations and temporarily breached the ranks of its followers. It is also an allusion to the ascension of Bahá'u'lláh which brought in its wake the rebellion of Mírzá Muhammad-'Alí and the breaking of the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh.

A careful study of the lives and teachings of the Founders of great religions will demonstrate that one of the functions of the Manifestation of God has always been to explain the meaning and purpose of His Revelation and to solve any difficult problem which perplexes the minds of His followers. Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá were always ready to answer questions asked by the believers. These ranged from weighty subjects down to various minor details dealing with every aspect of the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh. Indeed, great portions of the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá were written in response to these questions. They interpreted the Scriptures of the past, explained many of their abstruse passages and statements, elucidated divine mysteries, expounded the Teachings of God for this age, delineated the features of a New World Order and gave the details of the application of the laws and ordinances of Bahá'u'lláh.

However, on the subject of succession They remained silent and only at the end of Their lives did They disclose the identity of Their successors. There are many wisdoms in this. Such an

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* The numerical value of Shidád is 309 meaning 1309 A.H. (A.D. 1892), the year of the ascension of Bahá'u'lláh.

action may be likened to that of a teacher who is always ready to answer questions and help his pupils solve their problems. Only on one occasion does he remain silent and refrain from helping them, namely, on the day of examination. On that day the students alone will have to find the answers. It is their test and it is also the day of separation. Those who pass are elevated to a higher class and those who fail are not.

The history of the Faith demonstrates that the Covenant has always provided the testing-ground for the believers. The Báb gave the glad-tidings of the appearance of 'Him Whom God shall make manifest' but did not explicitly disclose the identity of Bahá'u'lláh. Bahá'u'lláh established a mighty Covenant appointing 'Abdu'l-Bahá as the Centre of that same Covenant but kept this appointment a well-guarded secret until, shortly before His ascension, He handed the Kitáb-i-'Ahdí (Book of My Covenant) to 'Abdu'l-Bahá. This document, in the terms of the above analogy, became the examination paper for the entire body of Bahá'u'lláh's followers. Some passed and others failed the test. Similarly, the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá in which Shoghi Effendi was appointed as the Guardian of the Faith was kept a secret. It was after His passing that this document was read. Again, this produced tests for the believers. Some who had ambitious ideas and a lust for leadership opposed Shoghi Effendi as the Guardian of the Faith. These men tried very hard to create divisions within the Cause. But one of the distinguishing features of the Faith is that although many outstanding followers of Bahá'u'lláh broke the Covenant and arose, with every means at their disposal, to create schism in the Faith, they failed to bring this about. The Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh triumphed and those who opposed it perished and were brought to naught.

Súriy-i-Nush

The Súriy-i-Nush in Arabic was revealed in Baghdád in honour of Siyyid Ja'far-i-Yazdí, a distinguished divine and a

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man highly esteemed by the inhabitants of Yazd.* It was on the occasion of Vahíd's† visit to that city for the purpose of teaching the Cause that he embraced the Bábí Faith. Soon afterwards a wave of persecutions compelled Vahíd and Siyyid Ja'far, together with some other believers, to leave Yazd and go to Nayríz in the province of Fárs.

Having enjoyed great prestige as a divine and being endowed with a wonderful power of exposition, Siyyid Ja'far, under the direction of Vahíd, began to teach the Cause publicly in Nayríz. It was not long before a great multitude joined the Faith. This in turn provoked bitter opposition from government authorities and ecclesiastics. A great upheaval followed resulting in the martyrdom of many, including Vahíd himself.

The chief instigator of these dire happenings, Zaynu'l-'Ábidín Khán, the Governor of Nayríz, captured a few survivors whom he proposed to torture to death for various specific reasons. Among these was Siyyid Ja'far, who, because of his knowledge and power of utterance, was regarded by the Governor as one of those sharing the major responsibility for converting people to the new Faith. Nabíl, the famous Bahá'í chronicler, has recorded the following about Siyyid Ja'far's arrest:

Among them [survivors of the Nayríz upheaval] was a certain Siyyid Ja'far-i-Yazdí, who in former days had exercised immense influence and had been greatly honoured by the people. So great was the respect they owed him that Zaynu'l-'Ábidín Khán gave him precedence over himself and treated him with extreme deference and courtesy. He gave orders that the turban of that same man be befouled and flung into the fire. Shorn of the emblem of his lineage, he was exposed to the eyes of the public, who marched before him and overwhelmed him with abuse and ridicule.15

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* The author's great-great-grandfather.

† An outstanding divine who became a follower of the Báb. His first contact with the Faith came about when as an envoy of Muhammad Sháh he met the Báb for the purpose of investigating His Message. As a result, Vahíd became an ardent believer. See Appendix III.


15. Nabíl-i-A'zam, The Dawn-Breakers, p. 367 (Brit.), pp. 496-8 (U.S.).
The Nayríz upheaval which lasted for many months brought widespread poverty and famine in its wake. The troops who were engaged in this conflict had drawn too heavily upon the meagre resources of the local community and at long last, after the departure of the troops, food had become almost unobtainable and many poor people were starving. In the meantime, the Governor had hoarded a large stock of corn to sell to the public at an inflated price. When, however, the situation became desperate, he consented to distribute the corn among the people at a nominal sum.

When the ration was given out, Siyyid Ja'far would be brought from the dungeon and posted at the entrance to the barn. The Governor's orders were that all those who wished to obtain corn must first spit upon Siyyid Ja'far's face. Failure to do this would deprive them of their ration.

The following extract from a biography of Siyyid Ja'far reveals something of this ordeal and other indignities which were heaped upon him and his fellow-prisoner, Hájí Muhammad-Taqí, an eminent personage of Nayríz and an ardent follower of the Báb.*

For hours this champion of the Cause of God [Siyyid Ja'far], this once revered man of learning, stood by the door of the barn while hundreds of men and women spat upon his blessed face as they filed through that door, looking at him with bitter hate and prejudice.

In the face of this dire humiliation, Áqá Siyyid Ja'far's feelings were not those of disgust, intolerance or indignation. On the contrary, he remained calm and resigned throughout his ordeal and manifested a spirit of sublime joy and love and thankfulness towards those who offended him.

Once during the ordeal, it is authoritatively stated, he noticed several people who hesitated to come forward for their share. Apparently the ghastly deed of spitting upon his face kept them away. With a face beaming with heavenly joy he beckoned them and said: 'You had better come and get

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* See p. 263.

your share before it is too late; it won't matter if you spit upon my face; I'll wipe it off with my handkerchief...'

A deed such as this, so rare, so Christ-like, constitutes a shining proof of the transmuting power which is latent in the words of the Manifestations of God.

Very probably, as he stood by the door of the barn that day, his thoughts went back to those glamorous days in Yazd, where each Friday at the close of his sermon, standing on the steps of the pulpit, he would receive the homage and the tumultuous ovation of the vast audience. Now how striking was the contrast! Although the object of the vilest indignity, he was extremely happy, because his beloved Lord had revealed to his eyes the glorious vista of a new life and bestowed upon him the crown of eternal glory. Little wonder, therefore, that those bitter persecutions could not becloud the radiance of his heavenly joy...

This monstrous treatment meted out to Áqá Siyyid Ja'far was but a prelude to a period of agonizing tortures for himself as well as for his illustrious companion. Among other things, the ruthless Governor ordered that the bastinado be inflicted on Áqá Siyyid Ja'far in public. Each day he was conducted from the dungeon to the gate of the house of a well-to-do-citizen where this heart-rending scene was staged. There he was beaten until, as was the fashion, the occupants of the house as well as passers-by would secure the victim's temporary release by offering money to the torturers as a ransom. Then, next day, the scene would be shifted to another point along the street. After a while, as a result of this daily torture, Áqá Siyyid Ja'far's legs and feet became so horribly sore and swollen that they could no longer support his body.

The fate of his companion, Hájí Muhammad-Taqí, was even more cruel and appalling. Daily, he was conducted to the Governor's mansion where, stripped of his clothes, he was flung into the pool. A number of men, placed around and armed with long sticks, would administer severe blows upon his body. The standing order was that the beating should be continued until the water around him turned reddish with blood.

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However, the mighty Hand that had raised up and reared these wondrous beings was now to stay the tide of suffering which was about to engulf them. They were destined to live to receive the greatest privilege of all, having their eyes illumined by gazing upon the heavenly countenance of Bahá'u'lláh.

It was the Governor's wife who, as the result of a dream, was prompted to secure their freedom. She approached her husband with an earnest appeal to release these unfortunate victims, but her intercession proved of no avail. Moreover, she was rebuked for being too soft and sentimental. Undismayed by her husband's ruthless attitude, she decided to work secretly towards that end.

With the goodwill and support of a few trusted persons at her disposal she worked out a plan and made the necessary arrangements with utmost caution. Then, late one evening the prison door was opened and the pitiable figures of Hájí Muhammad-Taqí and Áqá Siyyid Ja'far were taken out, propped up on donkeys and entrusted to a muleteer with the express order to carry them at full speed to Harát--a small town beyond the area of jurisdiction of the Governor of Nayríz.

Eventually, when these oppressed souls reached Harát they were utterly exhausted. The sight of their appalling condition presented a study in grief and aroused the sympathy of the headman of the village who received and treated them with the utmost kindness.

They remained in Harát for a number of months to recuperate and heal their terrible wounds. Afterwards they travelled to Yazd. When the friends came to know about the banishment of Bahá'u'lláh to 'Iráq, Hájí Muhammad-Taqí set out on foot on a journey of no less than 1,500 kilometres to Baghdád, where he attained the presence of Bahá'u'lláh and received His abundant blessings. The momentous Súrih of Sabr* was revealed to his imperishable memory.

Later Áqá Siyyid Ja'far followed the example of his old companion. Those feet that had received such beastly tortures for months did not fail to carry him all the long way to

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* This Tablet is also known as Lawh-i-Ayyúb.

the abode of his Lord where the Hands of Glory showered heavenly bounties upon him...16

Although the Súriy-i-Nush was revealed before His declaration, nevertheless Bahá'u'lláh has left no doubt as to His own station. For throughout this Tablet He identifies Himself with God and speaks as His mouthpiece. He describes the appearance of the Prophets from Adam to the Báb, proclaims Their divine origin, depicts the life, character and mission of Each, demonstrates that in every age They were denounced and fiercely opposed by the priests and religious leaders, portrays Their suffering and persecution at the hands of the people and speaks of Their ultimate victory over Their adversaries.

Anticipating His own declaration, Bahá'u'lláh in this Tablet counsels the learned men of the Bábí community not to rely on their knowledge. He urges them to cleanse their hearts so that when the appointed hour comes and the beauty of the Promised One is unveiled they may be enabled to recognize Him and embrace His Cause.

It is in this Tablet that Bahá'u'lláh makes reference to one of His bitterest enemies, Shaykh 'Abdu'l-Husayn-i-Tihrání, a crafty and deceitful mujtahid who was sent to 'Iráq by order of the Sháh to carry out the repair of the Muslim holy sites in Karbilá. This man was notorious in royal circles for his mischief-making and this post was devised in order to remove him from Tihrán.

Soon after his arrival in 'Iráq, Shaykh 'Abdu'l-Husayn became alarmed at the rising prestige and ascendancy of Bahá'u'lláh. The outpourings of His divine Pen which had inspired many to sacrifice their lives in His path, the extraordinary love and devotion which His companions had for Him, the manner in which they expressed, both in public and private, their loyalty and reverence, the high esteem in which the inhabitants of Baghdád held Him--all aroused the animosity of the Shaykh and ignited the fire of jealousy and hatred within his breast.

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16. 'Bahá'í News and Reviews', a Journal of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Írán, no. 7, December 1947. This account was written by Habíb Taherzadeh and has been edited by the author.

HÁJÍ MUHAMMAD-TÁHIR-I-MÁLMÍRÍ

HÁJÍ MUHAMMAD-TÁHIR-I-MÁLMÍRÍ

Historian and teacher of the Faith, father of the author. Some
of his memoirs concerning Bahá'u'lláh are quoted in this book

TABLET OF BAHÁ'U'LLÁH

TABLET OF BAHÁ'U'LLÁH

In His own handwriting
Intended for Hájí Muhammad-Táhir-i-Málmírí (see page 39)

With all the evil forces he could muster, he arose to oppose Bahá'u'lláh and His companions.

The proud and hateful Mírzá Buzurg Khán, the Persian Consul-General in Baghdád, soon after his arrival in the year 1276 A.H. (A.D. 1860), allied himself with the Shaykh to uproot the Cause and destroy its Author.

The first move was to discredit Bahá'u'lláh by spreading false accusations against Him, demanding from the authorities in Baghdád His extradition from 'Iráq. But when the Shaykh realized the futility of these efforts, he turned his attention to arousing public animosity against Him. The following are the words of Shoghi Effendi as he describes some of the activities of Mírzá Buzurg Khán:

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
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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.17

But all these plans failed miserably and Shaykh 'Abdu'l-Husayn began to dispatch a series of alarming letters to the court of the Sháh in Tihrán telling of Bahá'u'lláh's rising power. At last he managed to obtain full authority from the Sháh to take necessary measures against the Bábís with assistance from the Persian divines residing in 'Iráq.

Immediately upon receipt of this mandate the Shaykh invited all ranks of clergy to a conference held at his home. There he forcefully condemned Bahá'u'lláh's activities, accused Him of destroying the Faith of Islám, and demanded that holy war should be proclaimed against the Bábís of 'Iráq. The body of the divines approved. However, Shaykh Murtidáy-i-Ansárí, the leading mujtahid of the Shí'ah community, a man of justice and piety to whom reference has been made in a previous chapter,* refused to sanction their evil plans and arose and abruptly left the meeting.

Some time before, Bahá'u'lláh had invited Shaykh 'Abdu'l-Husayn to meet Him face to face so that the truth of His Cause might be established. But the Shaykh, who had accepted the invitation at first, was afraid to meet the challenge and did not appear at the appointed place. This time, however, the conference of the divines decided to send the devout and high-minded Hájí Mullá Hasan-i-'Ammú as an emissary to Bahá'u'lláh to put certain questions to Him, designed to establish the truth of His Mission. Hájí Mullá Hasan asked Prince Zaynu'l-'Ábidín Khán, the Fakhru'd-Dawlih, a friend and admirer of Bahá'u'lláh who often visited His home, to arrange an interview with Him.

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* See p. 91.


17. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 142.
When the appointed day came, the prince took him personally to the house of Bahá'u'lláh.*

No sooner had Hájí Mullá Hasan presented himself to Bahá'u'lláh than he discovered the ocean of His utterance surging before him and saw himself as a mere drop compared to the vastness of Bahá'u'lláh's knowledge. Having had his questions answered with brilliance and simplicity, he then ventured to inform Bahá'u'lláh that the divines regarded the performance of a miracle to be the final and conclusive evidence of the authenticity of His mission. These are the words of Bahá'u'lláh in answer to him:

Although you have no right to ask this, 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.18

Hájí Mullá Hasan found this answer to be satisfactory. He arose, reverently kissed the knee of Bahá'u'lláh and promised to convey His words to the divines. But the assemblage of the divines decided not to respond to Bahá'u'lláh's challenge and did not pursue the matter. Hájí Mullá Hasan conveyed this decision to Bahá'u'lláh through Prince Zaynu'l-'Ábidín Khán. Upon hearing this news, Bahá'u'lláh is reported to have said:

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* When Hájí Mullá Hasan arrived in Bahá'u'lláh's reception room, to his amazement he found the celebrated mujtahid, Mullá Muhammad-I-Qá'iní surnamed Nabíl-i-Akbar (one of the Apostles of Bahá'u'lláh) seated there with reverence and humility. Quietly he asked Nabíl-i-Akbar, 'What are you doing here, sir?' The reply came, 'I am here for the same reason that you are.' (See pp. 91-5.)

† Divines and learned men of Islám.


18. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 144.
We have, 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.19

Shaykh 'Abdu'l-Husayn, who had so ignominiously failed to carry out his designs, decided to put further pressure on the Persian government. Assisted by his scheming accomplice Mírzá Buzurg Khán, he dispatched a series of false and grossly exaggerated reports to the authorities in Tihrán, urging them to take steps to remove Bahá'u'lláh from 'Iráq.

No wonder that the Shaykh, who had so relentlessly sought to extinguish the light of the Cause and destroy its Leader, was stigmatized by Bahá'u'lláh in the Súriy-i-Nush as the 'scoundrel', the 'schemer', the 'wicked one', he 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'.20

In a passage in the Súriy-i-Mulúk (Súrih of the Kings), addressing the Persian Ambassador in Constantinople, Bahá'u'lláh alludes to Mírzá Buzurg Khán, the Persian Consul-General in Baghdád:

For eleven years We dwelt in that land, until the Minister representing thy government arrived, whose name Our pen is loth to mention, who was given to wine, who followed his lusts, and committed wickedness, and was corrupt and corrupted 'Iráq. To this will bear witness most of the inhabitants of Baghdád, wert thou to inquire of them, and be of such as seek the truth. He it was who wrongfully seized the substance of his fellow men, who forsook all the commandments of God, and perpetrated whatever God had forbidden. Eventually, he, following his desires, rose up against Us, and walked in the ways of the unjust. He accused Us, in his letter to thee, and thou didst believe him and followed in his way, without seeking any proof or trustworthy evidence from
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19. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 142.

20. ibid., p. 141, for the words quoted in this paragraph.

him. Thou didst ask for no explanation, nor didst thou attempt either to investigate or ascertain the matter, that the truth might be distinguished from falsehood in thy sight, and that thou mightest be clear in thy discernment. Find out for thyself the sort of man he was by asking those Ministers who were, at that time, in 'Iráq, as well as the Governor of the City* and its high Counsellor, that the truth may be revealed to thee, and that thou mayest be of the well-informed.21

In the end, the intrigues and machinations of the Shaykh and the efforts of the Consul-General so influenced the Sháh that he instructed Mírzá Sa'íd Khán, the Persian Foreign Minister, to send a request to the Ottoman government for the transfer of Bahá'u'lláh from Baghdád. In the meantime, the enemy was becoming increasingly hostile towards Bahá'u'lláh. Siyyid Mírzá Husayn-i-Mutavallí, a notorious Bábí, suggested in a letter to Him that He remain at home for the sake of His own safety. In reply to this, Bahá'u'lláh revealed a Tablet in Persian known as Shikkar-Shikan-Shavand.

Shikkar-Shikan-Shavand

This soul-stirring Tablet, notable for the beauty and lucidity of its composition, inspires a believer with faith and assurance. In it Bahá'u'lláh agrees that great dangers are ahead, that a relentless enemy is poised to launch a fierce onslaught against Him and that in people's opinion the right course would be to flee and retire to a place of safety. Nevertheless, He unequivocally proclaims, the Chosen Ones of God are not fearful of calamities and tribulations. Having renounced the world and placed their trust and confidence in God, they brave every danger and welcome sufferings in His path.

Likewise, no calamity can quench His ardour in the path of God. He will never flee from His enemies, neither will He resist them. For they are powerless to destroy the foundation of the Cause of God. Should they bury Him beneath the earth, the

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* Baghdád.


21. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, section cxiii.
hand of Divine Power would assuredly raise Him up again, resplendent and victorious. Despite all opposition to Him in Baghdád, He is seated on the throne of glory, serene, majestic and manifest as the sun. For those who have spiritual eyes, His very appearance in public at a time when the enemy is intent upon taking His life is but an evidence of His divine authority.

In this Tablet Bahá'u'lláh calls on Siyyid Husayn to meditate on the sufferings which were inflicted upon Muhammad, the Prophet of God. So grievously was He persecuted that the Holy Spirit appeared to Him and spoke these words:

But if their opposition be grievous to Thee--if Thou canst, seek out an opening into the earth or a ladder into heaven.22

This verse implies that the Prophet had no other course to take but that of enduring hardships and tribulations in the path of God. Bahá'u'lláh urges Siyyid Husayn to consider it and similar verses of the Qur'án, that he may discover their mysteries and realize that in every age the Manifestations of God suffer at the hands of the ungodly.

In the Tablet of Shikkar-Shikan Bahá'u'lláh alludes to Shaykh 'Abdu'l-Husayn, condemns his actions and confidently asserts that he will fail miserably in his evil designs to harm His person.

Bahá'u'lláh states in many of His Tablets that suffering and tribulation in the path of God will ultimately lead the Cause to victory. He welcomed adversities in order that mankind may be freed and united. In one of His Tablets He thus proclaims:

The Ancient Beauty hath consented to be bound with chains that mankind may be released from its bondage, and hath accepted to be made a prisoner within this most mighty Stronghold that the whole world may attain unto true liberty. He hath drained to its dregs the cup of sorrow, that all the peoples of the earth may attain unto abiding joy, and be filled with gladness. This is of the mercy of your Lord, the Compassionate, the Most Merciful. We have accepted to be abased, O believers in the Unity of God, that ye may be exalted, and have suffered manifold afflictions, that ye might prosper and flourish.23

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22. Qur'án, vi. 35 (according to the Arabic text numbering).

23. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, section xlv.

In The Hidden Words Bahá'u'lláh states:

My calamity is My providence, outwardly it is fire and vengeance, but inwardly it is light and mercy.24

Speaking of man's impotence to quench the Cause of God. He has revealed:

As My tribulations multiplied, so did My love for God. and for His Cause increase, in such wise that all that befell Me from the hosts of the wayward was powerless to deter Me from My purpose. Should they hide Me away in the depths of the earth, yet would they find Me riding aloft on the clouds, and calling out unto God, the Lord of strength and of might. I have offered Myself up in the way of God, and I yearn after tribulations in My love for Him, and for the sake of His good-pleasure. Unto this bear witness the woes which now afflict Me, the like of which no other man hath suffered.25

And again:

By God! Troubles have failed to unnerve Me, and the repudiation of the divines hath been powerless to weaken Me. I have spoken and still speak forth before the face of men: 'The door of grace hath been unlocked and He Who is the Dayspring of Justice is come with perspicuous signs and evident testimonies, from God, the Lord of strength and of might!'26

After the Tablet of Shikkar-Shikan was revealed, Bahá'u'lláh instructed that copies be sent to several dignitaries both civil and ecclesiastic. All those who received it were astounded by Bahá'u'lláh's faith and courage. Siyyid Husayn, for whom Bahá'u'lláh revealed this challenging Tablet, was a native of Qum. He became a Bábí in the early days of the Faith and joined the defenders of the fort of Shaykh Tabarsí, where over three hundred Bábís under the leadership of Quddús were besieged by the army of the Sháh. For several months they had to endure starvation and fierce attack. The acts of heroism and self-sacrifice demonstrated by these men of God are unparalleled in the history of religion.

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24. Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, no. 51, Arabic version.

25. Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, pp. 52-3.

26. ibid., pp. 85-6.


[By God! Troubles have failed...] Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 210; The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 4, p. 94
However, Siyyid Husayn was no hero. Towards the end when tests and trials were at their peak, he betrayed his friends. This happened after Quddús had warned his companions that days of intense suffering and devastating affliction were at hand. The very night this warning was uttered, the Siyyid despatched a message to the retreating commander of the army, informed him of the death of Mullá Husayn whom the enemy dreaded so much, revealed some facts concerning the fewness of the defenders of the fort, and urged him to make a final onslaught, assuring him of victory.

Emboldened by these revelations, the army launched several attacks. But each time they were ignominiously defeated. At last, finding the situation unbearable and alarmed at the prospect of losing his life, Siyyid Husayn deserted the fort and went straight to the enemy camp. There he recanted his Faith and gained his freedom.

Bahá'u'lláh's amanuensis*, in a Tablet apparently written in Adrianople, has condemned Siyyid Husayn for his unfaithfulness and treachery. In it he states that his disgraceful treatment of Quddús was so heinous that he is ashamed to mention it. This refers to the day that Quddús was being conducted to the scene of his martyrdom, chained, surrounded by a howling mob, and assailed from every direction. During such tragic circumstances, in order to demonstrate his withdrawal from the Faith, Siyyid Husayn went forward and smote Quddús in the face.

In spite of his unfaithfulness and treachery, the Siyyid managed, soon after this shameful act, to enter into the fold again. Indeed, in 1852, when Bahá'u'lláh was taken to the Síyáh-Chál, he too was imprisoned there as a Bábí.† Later he went to Baghdád and joined the community there. He was never faithful to the Cause of God. When Bahá'u'lláh was in Adrianople, he

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* Mírzá Áqá Ján. See p. 40.

† Some have reached the conclusion that Siyyid Husayn was not a genuine Bábí, had adopted the Faith as a convenient cover for his activities, and was planted as a spy both at Shaykh Tabarsí and the Síyáh-Chál.

openly showed opposition to Him and became a follower of Mírzá Yahyá.

Javáhiru'l-Asrár

The Javáhiru'l-Asrár (The Essence of Mysteries) was revealed in Arabic by Bahá'u'lláh in Baghdád in honour of Siyyid Yúsuf-i-Sidihí, a resident of Karbilá, who had compiled some questions concerning the coming of the Promised One of Islám, claiming that anyone who could answer them would be the possessor of Truth. As soon as his questions reached Bahá'u'lláh, He revealed this Tablet and despatched it to Siyyid Yúsuf the same day.

The Javáhiru'l-Asrár must have been revealed while Bahá'u'lláh's enemies were actively plotting against His life. For in it He speaks briefly of the sufferings which were inflicted upon Him and mentions the machinations of those who were intent upon banishing or assassinating Him. Another clue pointing to the period of its revelation is to be found in the Kitáb-i-Íqán There Bahá'u'lláh alludes to the Tablet of Javáhiru'l-Asrár when He says:

Similarly, in the three other Gospels, according to Luke, Mark, and John, the same statements are recorded. As We have referred at length to these in Our Tablets revealed in the Arabic tongue, We have made no mention of them in these pages, and have confined Ourselves to but one reference.27

This outstanding Tablet deals with many subjects, unravels many mysteries, reveals the meanings of several passages in the Holy Books of older religions and gives some of the noblest counsels for man's spiritual advancement. In part it resembles--though not on a mystical level--some of the features of The Seven Valleys.

One such similarity is Bahá'u'lláh's explanation of the seven stages in man's journey to his ultimate spiritual goal. These

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27. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán, p. 17 {Brit.), pp. 25-6 (U.S.).


The Seven Valleys of Bahá'u'lláh
stages he calls 'cities' of 'search', 'love', 'unity', 'wonderment', 'utter nothingness', 'immortality', followed by a 'city' known only to God and His Manifestations, so exalted that man cannot comprehend its nature, for which there can be no name or definition. Of the 'city of unity' Bahá'u'lláh states that therein man will see in all things the signs of God, will become humble, never exalting himself above others, and at all times will regard himself as being in the presence of his Lord. In the 'city of immortality', he will find himself independent of all things but God, having access to God's inexhaustible treasures although living in poverty. On this plane all the attributes of God will be manifested within him and his life will become divine.

Bahá'u'lláh testifies that the essential prerequisites for man in all these journeys are humility and self-effacement before the believers. Any trace of pride or self will debar the wayfarer from entering any of these 'cities' and will cause him to return to the first stage. The importance of this Tablet becomes apparent when we note that its themes are similar to those of the Kitáb-i-Íqán. Although less in compass, its subjects are those which Bahá'u'lláh has more fully elaborated in that book. For example, He enumerates in this Tablet a number of causes which have prevented the followers of all religions from recognizing the next Manifestation of God; stipulates some of the qualities which the seeker must possess in order to find the truth; affirms that God is unknowable in His Essence; asserts the unity of all His Messengers; explains the meaning of such terms as the Day of Judgement, resurrection, life, death and similar terminologies mentioned in the Holy Books of the past; interprets certain prophecies from the Old and New Testaments, and elucidates passages from the Qur'án and traditions of Islám which anticipate the coming of the Qá'im* and the advent of the Day of God, identified by Bahá'u'lláh with the appearance of 'Him Whom God shall make manifest'.

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* The Promised One of Islám Whose advent the Báb fulfilled. See p. 126.


The Kitáb-i-Íqán