The Kitáb-i-Íqán

Circumstances of Its Revelation

In the whole range of Bahá'u'lláh's Writings, the Kitáb-i-Íqán (The Book of Certitude) has most importance, with the exception of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas (The Most Holy Book). It was revealed in Baghdád about two years before His Declaration, in honour of Hájí Mírzá Siyyid Muhammad, the Báb's maternal uncle.

The Báb had three maternal uncles. The first to embrace His Faith was Hájí Mírzá Siyyid 'Alí, known as Khál-i-A'zam (the Greatest Uncle). It was he who cared for the Báb and, after the passing of His father, was responsible for bringing Him up.

Hájí Mírzá Siyyid 'Alí became aware of the spiritual qualities and superhuman powers which his Nephew manifested from an early age. He readily recognized the station of the Báb and became an ardent believer as soon as he became acquainted with His claims. Indeed, next to the Letters of the Living, he was the first person in Shíráz to acknowledge the divine origin of the Message of the Báb. From then on he devoted his life entirely to the promotion of the newly-born Faith and the protection of its youthful Founder. A few months before the martyrdom of the Báb, he was arrested and, upon refusing to recant his faith, was publicly martyred. He is one of the Seven Martyrs of Tihrán.

The eldest uncle, Hájí Mírzá Siyyid Muhammad, although fully aware of the outstanding qualities of his Nephew, was not converted to His Faith until he met Bahá'u'lláh in Baghdád and


The Kitáb-i-Íqán

["The Báb had three maternal uncles..."] The Dawn-Breakers, Genealogy of the Báb

[Letters of the Living] The Dawn-Breakers, Báb's Tablets Addressed To The Letters Of The Living

received the Kitáb-i-Íqán in answer to his questions. The third uncle was Hájí Mírzá Hasan-'Alí.

For some years Hájí Mírzá Siyyid Muhammad carried out his business as a merchant away from home, in Búshihr (Bushire), in association with his brother Hájí Mírzá Siyyid 'Alí and his Nephew the Báb. When these two left for Shíráz he continued to work on his own and was still in Búshihr when the Báb declared His Mission to His first disciples. Later, when the Báb made His pilgrimage to Mecca, He travelled by way of Búshihr where He stayed at the home of Hájí Mírzá Siyyid Muhammad. He returned there some months later while journeying back to Shíráz. It was during these visits that Hájí Mírzá Siyyid Muhammad witnessed a transformation of spirit in the Báb and wrote about it to his own mother and sister (the mother of the Báb) in these words:

...His eminence Jináb-i-Hájí* has safely arrived and I am pleased to spend my time in His presence. It seems advisable that He should stay in Búshihr for a short while; but please rest assured that soon He will depart for home...Truly, His bountiful soul is the source of felicity for the people of this world, and the next. He brings honour to us all...1

Yet in spite of these remarks and of his unfailing admiration and respect for the Báb, Hájí Mírzá Siyyid Muhammad did not recognize His station for many years and remained uncommitted to His Cause.

In the meantime, the martyrdoms of the Báb and His illustrious uncle in 1850 brought immense grief and shock to all the members of the family. The Báb's mother, Fátimih-Bagum, could no longer bear to live in her home in Shíráz and took up residence in far-off 'Iráq, in the city of Karbilá, to be near the Shrine of Imám Husayn. Until the time Bahá'u'lláh arrived in 'Iráq after His imprisonment in the Síyáh-Chál, and established contact with her, she remained unaware of the significance of the Message of the Báb. It was Bahá'u'lláh Who arranged for


* The Báb was referred to as Hájí because of His pilgrimage to Mecca.

1. Khánidán-i-Afnán, pp. 25-6.
Hájí Siyyid Javád-i-Karbilá'í,* one of the distinguished early disciples of the Báb, accompanied by a devoted believer, the wife of a certain Shaykh 'Abdu'l-Majíd-i-Shírází, to meet with the mother of the Báb and demonstrate to her the truth of the Mission of her illustrious Son. This contact established by Bahá'u'lláh brought forth a wonderful response. Her soul was quickened and the glory of the new Faith of God founded by the Báb was unveiled before her eyes. Later she recognized the station of Bahá'u'lláh, embraced His Faith and remained steadfast till the end of her life.

Although several of the Báb's kinsmen, including His wife, had accepted the Faith during the early days of His ministry, and thousands of His followers had laid down their lives in His path, nevertheless Hájí Mírzá Siyyid Muhammad was not absolutely convinced that the Báb, his Nephew, could be the Promised One of Islám. Several believers tried to dispel his doubts but their efforts did not win him over. Hájí Mírzá Habíbu'lláh, an Afnán who was one of the custodians of the House of the Báb in Shíráz, has recorded the following account by his father, Áqá Mírzá Núru'd-Dín, a follower of the Báb, of a series of discussions which he held with Hájí Mírzá Siyyid Muhammad. These discussions appear to have been the turning-point in the spiritual life of the Báb's uncle.

...During the initial stages of our discussions Hájí Mírzá Siyyid Muhammad maintained a negative attitude and would repudiate any proof or argument that I put forward. These discussions lasted for several meetings. Once when I was talking with great fervour and conviction about the Faith, he turned to me in astonishment and exclaimed: 'Are you really saying that my nephew is the promised Qá'im?' When I reaffirmed my belief that He was, Hájí Mírzá Siyyid Muhammad became perplexed and expressed his view that this was all

* An eminent divine of great learning who became a devoted follower of the Báb in the first year of His Declaration, and later recognized the station of Bahá'u'lláh and embraced His Faith. (See pp. 221-4, and Nabíl-i-A'zam, The Dawn-Breakers, index reference.)

very strange. He then began to meditate and was lost in thought. Seeing him in this reflective mood, I could not prevent myself from laughing. He asked my reason for laughing, but as it would reflect badly upon him I was reluctant to tell. However, he insisted, so I told him: 'Your view that your nephew cannot be the promised Qá'im is similar to the objection which Abú-Lahab* had. He also said "how could it be possible for my nephew to become a prophet?" But Muhammad was the true Prophet of God. Now it is up to you to investigate this Cause. You must be very proud that this Sun of Truth has dawned from your family and its Light shone forth from your home. Do not hold back from it and be not surprised. For God is able to make of your nephew the Promised One of Islám. Be assured that the hands of God are never tied.'

Hájí Mírzá Siyyid Muhammad was moved by these words. He said: 'This is an irrefutable answer. Now what shall I do?' I suggested to him that he might go as a pilgrim to the holy Shrines† in 'Iráq, where he could also visit his sister (the mother of the Báb) who had been living there since the martyrdom of her son, then go to Baghdád, attain the presence of Bahá'u'lláh, ask his questions of Him and put forward his difficulties. I urged him to persevere in his search and to rely upon God. I expressed the hope that the veils which now prevented him from seeing the truth might be lifted from his eyes and that he might attain to the true Faith of God...He agreed to my suggestion and said that he felt in his heart that this was the right course to take.

Hájí Mírzá Siyyid Muhammad thereupon wrote a letter to his youngest brother Hájí Mírzá Hasan-'Alí, who was a merchant in Yazd, acquainted him with his plans to visit the Shrines and their sister, and invited him to join him in the journey. Hájí Mírzá Hasan-'Alí accepted and asked his brother to wait until he joined him in Shíráz...They both travelled to 'Iráq via Búshihr. Hájí Mírzá Siyyid Muhammad,


* An uncle of Muhammad who refused to acknowledge His Prophethood and was hostile to Him.

† Some of the Imáms of Shí'ah Islám, including Imám Husayn, are buried in Karbilá, Najaf, Kázimayn and Sámarrá.

however, did not intimate the real purpose of his journey to his brother until they arrived in Baghdád. There he informed him that his primary object in travelling to 'Iráq was to investigate the authenticity of the Faith and then to visit the Shrines and the mother of the Báb. He invited his brother to remain in Baghdád for a short period so that they both could attain the presence of Bahá'u'lláh and afterwards proceed to visit the Shrines.

On hearing this Hájí Mírzá Hasan-'Alí became angry and, although his junior in age, he spoke harshly to his brother. He warned that under no circumstances would he become a partner in these matters and that he did not wish to hear about the Faith. On that day he left Baghdád.2

When this happened, Hájí Mírzá Siyyid Muhammad decided to accompany his brother to the Shrines. It was on his return to Baghdád that he was taken to the house of Bahá'u'lláh where he attained His presence alone. This was in the year 1278 A.H. (A.D. 1862).

Bahá'u'lláh's amanuensis, Mírzá Áqá Ján, has described the circumstances which led to the revelation of the Kitáb-i-Íqán, in a Tablet* addressed to Shaykh 'Abdu'l-Majíd-i-Shírází. He says that one day Hájí Siyyid Javád-i-Karbilá'í went to Bahá'u'lláh and informed Him that the two uncles of the Báb, having visited the holy Shrines in Najaf and Karbilá, were now in Baghdád and would be returning home soon. Having ascertained from Hájí Siyyid Javád that he had not discussed the Faith with them, Bahá'u'lláh lovingly admonished him for not being engaged in the teaching of the Cause. He then instructed him to invite the two brothers to come to His presence.

The next day Hájí Siyyid Javád arrived with the uncle of the Báb, Hájí Mírzá Siyyid Muhammad. The youngest brother did not come. The utterances of Bahá'u'lláh uplifted and overwhelmed the Báb's uncle as he sat in His presence. At the end he begged Bahá'u'lláh to clarify the truth of the Báb's Message, bearing in mind that, in his view, some of the traditions of


* See pp. 40-42 regarding the Tablets recorded by Mírzá Áqá Ján.

2. Khánidán-i-Afnán, pp. 32-5.
Islám concerning the promised Qá'im were apparently not fulfilled by his Nephew. To this Bahá'u'lláh readily consented. He bade him go home and, after careful consideration, make a list of all the questions which had puzzled him and all the traditions which had bred doubts in his mind, and to bring these to Him.

The following day Hájí Mírzá Siyyid Muhammad arrived with his questions. Within the span of two days and two nights the Kitáb-i-Íqán, a lengthy epistle (of over two hundred pages) dealing with all his questions, was revealed by Bahá'u'lláh. In the early days this book was known as Risáliy-i-Khál (Epistle to the Uncle) but later Bahá'u'lláh designated it as the Kitáb-i-Íqán.

Among the papers which are preserved in the family of the Afnán are the questions which Hájí Mírzá Siyyid Muhammad presented to Bahá'u'lláh. They are written on two sheets in his own hand and are under four headings, all dealing with the coming of the promised Qá'im. The sincerity of the uncle of the Báb in seeking the truth is evident in his questions. Repeatedly he begs Bahá'u'lláh to dispel his doubts so that his heart may be assured and he may acquire absolute faith and certitude in the Cause of the Báb.

Hájí Mírzá Siyyid Muhammad was so affected by meeting Bahá'u'lláh that he immediately wrote a letter to His son, Hájí Mírzá Muhammad-Taqí, in which he said:

...I attained the presence of His Honour Bahá (may peace be upon Him) and I wish you could have been present! He treated me with the utmost affection and favour and graciously asked me to stay for the night. It is an absolute truth that deprivation from His bounteous presence is a grievous loss. May God bestow upon me the privilege of attaining His presence perpetually...3

The Kitáb-i-Íqán dispelled every doubt that Hájí Mírzá Siyyid Muhammad had harboured in his mind. As a result of reading this book he reached the stage of certitude and recognized the station of the Báb. In his will, written some years later, he

3. Khánidán-i-Afnán, pp. 42-3.
declared his faith, acknowledged the authenticity of the Messages of the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh and identified himself as a follower of these twin Manifestations of God.

As to Hájí Mírzá Siyyid Hasan-'Alí, the youngest uncle of the Báb, he returned to Yazd without meeting Bahá'u'lláh. Some years later, however, through the devoted efforts of his wife's brother, he too accepted the Faith and remained steadfast throughout his life.

Indeed, all the family of the Báb including His mother, His wife, His uncles and their children (designated as Afnán) embraced the Faith. This was actually prophesied by the Báb Himself, for He had said that God through His bounty would guide all His family to recognize the truth of His Cause.

The original copy of the Kitáb-i-Íqán, which Hájí Mírzá Siyyid Muhammad received, was transcribed by 'Abdu'l-Bahá Who was then eighteen years of age. In the margins of a few pages Bahá'u'lláh has, in His own hand, made some corrections and towards the end of the book has written this passage:

Amidst them all, We stand, life in hand, wholly resigned to His will; that perchance, through God's loving kindness and His grace, this revealed and manifest Letter* may lay down His life as a sacrifice in the path of the Primal Point,† the most exalted Word. By Him at Whose bidding the Spirit hath spoken, but for this yearning of Our soul, We would not, for one moment, have tarried any longer in this city. 'Sufficient Witness is God unto Us.' 4

For many years this original copy of the Kitáb-i-Íqán remained with the family of Hájí Mírzá Siyyid Muhammad, until in 1948 his great-granddaughter Fátimih Khánum-i-Afnán presented it to Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Faith. It reached him a few years later and was placed in the Bahá'í International Archives Building on Mount Carmel, Haifa.‡


* Bahá'u'lláh.

† The Báb.

‡ See Giachery, Shoghi Effendi--Recollections, p. 149, for a description of this happy event.

4. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán, p. 161 (Brit.), p. 252 (U.S.).

The Dawn-Breakers, Genealogy of the Báb
The Importance of the Kitáb-i-Íqán

Perhaps it can be said that the Kitáb-i-Íqán was more widely disseminated among the early believers in Persia than any other Writing of Bahá'u'lláh. In those days the only way of making the Holy Writings available to the friends was by transcribing them. As new Tablets would arrive, the believers were most anxious to make copies for themselves. Copies of several of these Tablets were often assembled and bound as a book. There are many such volumes of handwritten compilations of the Tablets of the Báb, Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá in the possession of Bahá'í families, who have inherited them from their forbears and to whom they are very precious.

There were also some individuals in Persia whose full-time occupation was the transcription of the Writings, and the believers used to obtain their copies from them. The Kitáb-i-Íqán was one of the items which kept these men transcribing for many years in order to cope with the demand.

From the literary point of view the Kitáb-i-Íqán can be regarded as an outstanding work in Persian literature. Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Faith, who translated this book superbly into English has described it in these words:

Foremost among the priceless treasures cast forth from the billowing ocean of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation ranks the Kitáb-i-Íqán...A model of Persian prose, of a style at once original, chaste and vigorous, and remarkably lucid, both cogent in argument and matchless in its irresistible eloquence, this Book, setting forth in outline the Grand Redemptive Scheme of God, occupies a position unequalled by any work in the entire range of Bahá'í literature, except the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Bahá'u'lláh's Most Holy Book.5

Until the Kitáb-i-Íqán was revealed, the significance of the Missions of all the Prophets of God, the purpose of Their Revelations and the true meaning of Their words had remained undisclosed. With the revelation of this book, the significance

5. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, pp. 138-9.
of the 'words' which according to Daniel were 'closed up and sealed till the time of the end' 6 became apparent. The 'seal' which Providence for thousands of years had placed upon the Holy Books of all religions was removed.

The Kitáb-i-Íqán is the best example of how to teach the Cause of God. Instead of explaining at once the proofs of the authenticity of the Message of the Báb, Bahá'u'lláh first speaks about other Prophets, portrays Their lives and Their sufferings, demonstrates the truth of Their Missions and describes the common features of Their Faiths. In this way He brings to the understanding of the reader the truth of his own religion and enables him to recognize the reality of his own Prophet. Having built this strong foundation He then, towards the end of the book, speaks of the Báb and His Message and applies to this new Revelation the standards He has applied in verifying the truth of other Prophets.

Since all the Manifestations of God derive Their authority from the same Source, it is therefore possible to know the latest Manifestation if one knows the qualities and attributes of One Who appeared in a former age.

The great majority of the followers of the world's religions, however, are taught to believe only in one Messenger of God. While sincere in their belief that their religion is true and divine in origin, they often have not recognized the reality of their own Prophet. There is a great deal of difference between having knowledge of a religion and knowing the reality of the Founder of one's Faith. For example, a man may possess a piece of gold and may know that it is precious, yet be unable to distinguish gold from brass. Such a man will fail to recognize a new piece of gold when he sees it.

Such is mankind's condition today. But should anyone recognize the reality of the Founder of his own religion, he will have no difficulty in accepting Bahá'u'lláh as the Manifestation of God for this age.

The Kitáb-i-Íqán has enabled a vast number of people from various backgrounds to understand the truth of their own


6. Daniel, xii. 9.
religions, the first step towards believing in Bahá'u'lláh. This book has shed great lustre upon the Holy Books of past Dispensations. It has unfolded the pattern and disclosed the meaning of progressive revelation. It has laid down an enduring foundation for the ultimate unity of all past religions. It has served as a key with which the followers of Bahá'u'lláh have opened doors of knowledge hitherto unknown to man. It has become a fountain-head of inspiration for Bahá'í scholars and teachers who have since written volumes proving the authenticity of the Message of Bahá'u'lláh by rational and intellectual proofs or by interpretation of past Holy Scriptures. Indeed, this book has given a new vision to the Bahá'ís enabling them to unravel the mysteries of religion and teach their Faith with greater insight and knowledge.

Major Themes of the Kitáb-i-Íqán (Part One)

The first thing to bear in mind when studying the Kitáb-i-Íqán is the fact that Bahá'u'lláh wrote this book for a man whose background was Muslim; the passages He quoted are often from the Qur'án or the traditions of Islám.

In the opening paragraphs Bahá'u'lláh has made the recognition of truth conditional upon man's detachment from this world, a point which He stresses throughout the book. These are His words:

No man shall attain the shores of the ocean of true understanding except he be detached from all that is in heaven and on earth...

The essence of these words is this: they that tread the path of faith, they that thirst for the wine of certitude, must cleanse themselves of all that is earthly--their ears from idle talk, their minds from vain imaginings, their hearts from worldly affections, their eyes from that which perisheth. They should put their trust in God, and, holding fast unto Him, follow in His way. Then will they be made worthy of the effulgent glories of the sun of divine knowledge and


understanding, and become the recipients of a grace that is infinite and unseen...7
The reasons for man's opposition to the Prophets of God

In the first section of the Kitáb-i-Íqán Bahá'u'lláh dwells on the history of the Prophets of the past and explains the main reasons for man's opposition to Them. By understanding these reasons, one can be guided to recognize the truth of the Cause of God in this day. He attaches such importance to this theme that He devotes a considerable portion of the book to it.

After describing some of the cruelties and indignities which were heaped upon certain Prophets of old, Bahá'u'lláh remarks:

And now, ponder upon these things. What could have caused such contention and conflict? Why is it that the advent of every true Manifestation of God hath been accompanied by such strife and tumult, by such tyranny and upheaval? This notwithstanding the fact that all the Prophets of God, whenever made manifest unto the peoples of the world, have invariably foretold the coming of yet another Prophet after them, and have established such signs as would herald the advent of the future Dispensation. To this the records of all sacred books bear witness. Why then is it that despite the expectation of men in their quest of the Manifestations of Holiness, and in spite of the signs recorded in the sacred books, should such acts of violence, of oppression and cruelty, have been perpetrated in every age and cycle against all the Prophets and chosen Ones of God? 8

Bahá'u'lláh then enumerates several causes for man's rejection of the Manifestations of God. First among these is the fact that the masses in every age have blindly followed their clergy who have, for the most part, opposed the new Prophet of God. Concerning the religious leaders, Bahá'u'lláh writes:

Leaders of religion, in every age, have hindered their people from attaining the shores of eternal salvation, inasmuch as they held the reins of authority in their mighty grasp.


7. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán, p. 3 (Brit.), p. 3 (U.S.).

8. ibid., p. 9 (Brit.), pp. 12-13 (U.S.).

Some for the lust of leadership, others through want of knowledge and understanding, have been the cause of the deprivation of the people. By their sanction and authority, every Prophet of God hath drunk from the chalice of sacrifice, and winged His flight unto the heights of glory. What unspeakable cruelties they that have occupied the seats of authority and learning have inflicted upon the true Monarchs of the world, those Gems of divine virtue! Content with a transitory dominion, they have deprived themselves of an everlasting sovereignty.9

Later in the book Bahá'u'lláh condemns the divines for their ignorance and lack of insight:

Among these...are the divines and doctors living in the days of the Manifestation of God, who, because of their want of discernment and their love and eagerness for leadership, have failed to submit to the Cause of God, nay, have even refused to incline their ears unto the divine Melody. 'They have thrust their fingers into their ears.'* And the people also, utterly ignoring God and taking them for their masters, have placed themselves unreservedly under the authority of these pompous and hypocritical leaders, for they have no sight, no hearing, no heart, of their own to distinguish truth from falsehood.10

Another cause of man's refusal to accept the new Messenger is that He brings new teachings, abrogates the laws of the past and establishes a new order. This radical change upsets religious leaders, for they see the new Message as a challenge to their authority and arise to oppose Him with all their power. Another reason for rejecting the new Prophet is that in every religion certain signs are given for the advent of the next Manifestation of God. Because man has expected a literal fulfilment of these signs and has failed to understand their true meaning, he has been unable to recognize the new Message from God.


* Qur'án ii. 19. (The verse number is that of the Arabic text.)

9. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán, pp. 10-11 (Brit.}, p. 15 (U.S.).

10. ibid., p. 105 (Brit.), p. 164 (U.S.).

The signs of the return of Christ

To elucidate this point, Bahá'u'lláh devotes no less than seventy pages to the interpretation of one passage from the Gospels which gives the signs of the return of Christ.* In doing so He also touches upon several other subjects.

Concerning the signs of the coming of Christ, He reveals:

Afterwards, the companions and disciples of Jesus asked Him concerning those signs that must needs signalize the return of His manifestation. When, they asked, shall these things be? Several times they questioned that peerless Beauty, and, every time He made reply, He set forth a special sign that should herald the advent of the promised Dispensation. To this testify the records of the four Gospels.

This wronged One will cite but one of these instances, thus conferring upon mankind, for the sake of God, such bounties as are yet concealed within the treasury of the hidden and sacred Tree, that haply mortal men may not remain deprived of their share of the immortal fruit, and attain to a dewdrop of the waters of everlasting life which, from Baghdád, the 'Abode of Peace', are being vouchsafed unto all mankind...

These are the melodies, sung by Jesus, Son of Mary, in accents of majestic power in the Ridván of the Gospel, revealing those signs that must needs herald the advent of the Manifestation after Him. In the first Gospel according to Matthew it is recorded: And when they asked Jesus concerning the signs of His coming, He said unto them: 'Immediately after the oppression of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the earth shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angel with a great sound of a trumpet'†...


* Matt. xxiv. 29, 30, 31.

ibid., as quoted in Kitáb-i-Íqán.

[Ridván] The Kitáb-i-Aqdas; The Kitáb-i-Íqán; Prayers and Meditations, p. 6; Gleanings From The Writings Of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 31; The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, 2, 3, 4
Inasmuch as the Christian divines have failed to apprehend the meaning of these words, and did not recognize their object and purpose, and have clung to the literal interpretation of the words of Jesus, they therefore became deprived of the streaming grace of the Muhammadan Revelation and its showering bounties.11

Interpretation of symbolic terms

Bahá'u'lláh then explains at some length the meaning of these words:

...by 'oppression' is meant the want of capacity to acquire spiritual knowledge and apprehend the Word of God. By it is meant that when the Day-star of Truth hath set, and the mirrors that reflect His light have departed, mankind will become afflicted with 'oppression' and hardship, knowing not whither to turn for guidance...Such a condition as this is witnessed in this day when the reins of every community have fallen into the grasp of foolish leaders, who lead after their own whims and desire. On their tongue the mention of God hath become an empty name; in their midst His holy Word a dead letter...Though they recognize in their hearts the Law of God to be one and the same, yet from every direction they issue a new command, and in every season proclaim a fresh decree. No two are found to agree on one and the same law, for they seek no God but their own desire, and tread no path but the path of error...With all their power and strength they strive to secure themselves in their petty pursuits, fearful lest the least discredit undermine their authority or blemish the display of their magnificence. were the eye to be anointed and illumined with the collyrium of the knowledge of God, it would surely discover that a number of voracious beasts have gathered and preyed upon the carrion of the souls of men.

What 'oppression' is greater than that which hath been recounted? What 'oppression' is more grievous than that a soul seeking the truth, and wishing to attain unto the knowledge of God, should know not where to go for it and from whom to seek it? For opinions have sorely differed, and the ways


11. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán. This quotation is taken from pp. 15, 16-17 (Brit.) and from pp. 22, 24-5 and 26 (U.S.).
unto the attainment of God have multiplied. This 'oppression' is the essential feature of every Revelation. Unless it cometh to pass, the Sun of Truth will not be made manifest. For the break of the morn of divine guidance must needs follow the darkness of the night of error...12

Concerning the words 'sun' and 'moon', Bahá'u'lláh states:

By the terms 'sun' and 'moon', mentioned in the writings of the Prophets of God, is not meant solely the sun and moon of the visible universe. Nay rather, manifold are the meanings they have intended for these terms. In every instance they have attached to them a particular significance. Thus, by the 'sun' in one sense is meant those Suns of Truth who rise from the dayspring of ancient glory, and fill the world with a liberal effusion of grace from on high. These Suns of Truth are the universal Manifestations of God in the worlds of His attributes and names; even as the visible sun that assisteth, as decreed by God, the true One, the Adored, in the development of all earthly things, such as the trees, the fruits, and colours thereof, the minerals of the earth, and all that may be witnessed in the world of creation, so do the divine Luminaries, by their loving care and educative influence, cause the trees of divine unity, the fruits of His oneness, the leaves of detachment, the blossoms of knowledge and certitude, and the myrtles of wisdom and utterance, to exist and be made manifest...It is the warmth that these Luminaries of God generate, and the undying fires they kindle, which cause the light of the love of God to burn fiercely in the heart of humanity...

In another sense, by these terms is intended the divines of the former Dispensation, who live in the days of the subsequent Revelations, and who hold the reins of religion in their grasp. If these divines be illumined by the light of the latter Revelation they will be acceptable unto God, and will shine with a light everlasting. Otherwise, they will be declared as darkened, even though to outward seeming they be leaders of men, inasmuch as belief and unbelief, guidance and error, felicity and misery, light and darkness, are all dependent upon the sanction of Him Who is the Day-star of Truth. Whoso-


12. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán. These extracts are taken from pp. 21, 19, 20 and 21 (Brit.) and from pp. 32, 29, 30 and 31 (U.S.).
ever among the divines of every age receiveth, in the Day of Reckoning, the testimony of faith from the Source of true knowledge, he verily becometh the recipient of learning, of divine favour, and of the light of true understanding. Otherwise, he is branded as guilty of folly, denial, blasphemy, and oppression.

It is evident and manifest unto every discerning observer that even as the light of the star fadeth before the effulgent splendour of the sun, so doth the luminary of earthly knowledge, of wisdom, and understanding vanish into nothingness when brought face to face with the resplendent glories of the Sun of Truth, the Day-star of divine enlightenment...

In another sense, by the terms 'sun', 'moon', and 'stars' are meant such laws and teachings as have been established and proclaimed in every Dispensation, such as the laws of prayer and fasting...

...Hence, it is clear and manifest that by the words 'the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven' is intended the waywardness of the divines, and the annulment of laws firmly established by divine Revelation, all of which, in symbolic language, have been foreshadowed by the Manifestation of God...

It is unquestionable that in every succeeding Revelation the 'sun' and 'moon' of the teachings, laws, commandments, and prohibitions which have been established in the preceding Dispensation, and which have overshadowed the people of that age, become darkened, that is, are exhausted, and cease to exert their influence.13

Concerning the 'sign of the Son of man in heaven', Bahá'u'lláh affirms that this sign is manifest both in the visible and invisible heavens. Before the coming of each Prophet, not only has a star appeared in the skies indicating the birth of a new Revelation, but a herald has also announced these glad-tidings to the people of that age. For example, the soothsayers in the time of Moses warned Pharaoh:

'A star hath risen in the heaven, and lo! it foreshadoweth the conception of a Child Who holdeth your fate and the fate of

13. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán. These extracts are taken from pp. 22, 24, 25 and 27 (Brit.) and from pp. 33-4, 36, 37, 38 and 41 (U.S.).
your people in His hand.' In like manner, there appeared a sage who, in the darkness of the night, brought tidings of joy unto the people of Israel, imparting consolation to their souls, and assurance to their hearts.14

Before the days of the Revelation of Christ a few of the Magi went to Herod and said: 'Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.'* This was the sign appearing in the visible heaven. However, it was John the Baptist who was the spiritual star. He foretold the coming of Christ and prepared people for His Revelation.

Before the advent of Muhammad, also, similar events took place. The following are the words of Bahá'u'lláh concerning those who heralded the Prophet of Islám:

As to the signs of the invisible heaven, there appeared four men who successively announced unto the people the joyful tidings of the rise of that divine Luminary. Rúz-bih, later named Salmán, was honoured by being in their service. As the end of one of these approached, he would send Rúz-bih unto the other, until the fourth who, feeling his death to be nigh, addressed Rúz-bih saying: 'O Rúz-bih! when thou hast taken up my body and buried it, go to Hijáz for there the Day-star of Muhammad will arise. Happy art thou, for thou shalt behold His face!' 15

And in this Revelation, before the Declaration of the Báb, this twofold sign appeared. Bahá'u'lláh states:

Know thou verily that many an astronomer hath announced the appearance of its star in the visible heaven. Likewise, there appeared on earth Ahmad and Kázim,† those twin resplendent lights...16


* Matt. ii. 2.

† Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsá'í was the founder of the Shaykhí school of Islám. He was followed by Siyyid Kázim-i-Rashtí. Both taught their followers that the coming of the Promised One of Islám was at hand and prepared them for His advent. Most of the early Bábís were from the Shaykhí sect.

14. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán, pp. 40-1 (Brit.), p. 63 (U.S.).

15. ibid., p. 42 (Brit.), p. 65 (U.S.).

16. ibid.

Concerning the mourning of the 'tribes of the earth' and the coming of the Son of Man in the 'clouds of heaven', Bahá'u'lláh writes:

These words signify that in those days men will lament the loss of the Sun of the divine beauty, of the Moon of knowledge, and of the Stars of divine wisdom. Thereupon, they will behold the countenance of the promised One, the adored Beauty, descending from heaven and riding upon the clouds. By this is meant that the divine Beauty will be made manifest from the heaven of the will of God, and will appear in the form of the human temple. The term 'heaven' denoteth loftiness and exaltation, inasmuch as it is the seat of the revelation of those Manifestations of Holiness, the Daysprings of ancient glory. These ancient Beings, though delivered from the womb of their mother, have in reality descended from the heaven of the will of God. Though they be dwelling on this earth, yet their true habitations are the retreats of glory in the realms above. Whilst walking amongst mortals, they soar in the heaven of the divine presence. Without feet they tread the path of the spirit, and without wings they rise unto the exalted heights of divine unity. With every fleeting breath they cover the immensity of space, and at every moment traverse the kingdoms of the visible and the invisible.17

As to the meaning of the 'clouds', Bahá'u'lláh asserts:

These 'clouds' signify, in one sense, the annulment of laws, the abrogation of former Dispensations, the repeal of rituals and customs current amongst men, the exalting of the illiterate faithful above the learned opposers of the Faith. In another sense, they mean the appearance of that immortal Beauty in the image of mortal man, with such human limitations as eating and drinking, poverty and riches, glory and abasement, sleeping and waking, and such other things as cast doubt in the minds of men, and cause them to turn away. All such veils are symbolically referred to as 'clouds'.18


17. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán, p. 43 (Brit.), pp. 66-7 (U.S.).

18. ibid., p. 46 (Brit.), pp. 71-2 (U.S.).

Regarding the sending of 'angels', Bahá'u'lláh explains that these are holy souls who

...have sanctified themselves from every human limitation, have become endowed with the attributes of the spiritual, and have been adorned with the noble traits of the blessed, [and] they therefore have been designated as 'angels'.19

In the course of interpreting the aforementioned passage from the Gospel, Bahá'u'lláh elucidates several other points, throws light on some obscure and hidden words of the Prophets, quotes extensively from the Qur'án and traditions of Islám, and reveals a vast range of new verities which had remained unknown and concealed within all former religions. He explains the meaning of such terms as the 'changing of the earth', the 'cleaving of heaven' expected by Islám to happen at the Last Hour, the Day of Resurrection, the day 'when the heaven shall give out a palpable smoke, which shall enshroud mankind'...*

He further asserts:

...were the signs of the Manifestation of God in every age to appear in the visible realm in accordance with the text of established traditions, none could possibly deny or turn away, nor would the blessed be distinguished from the miserable, and the transgressor from the God-fearing. Judge fairly: Were the prophecies recorded in the Gospel to be literally fulfilled; were Jesus, Son of Mary, accompanied by angels, to descend from the visible heaven upon the clouds; who would dare to disbelieve, who would dare to reject the truth, and wax disdainful? Nay, such consternation would immediately seize all the dwellers of the earth that no soul would feel able to utter a word, much less to reject or accept the truth.20

Further reasons for man's rejection of the Prophets

The reason that people have not understood the meaning of the signs given in the Holy Books is that they have blindly


* Qur'án xliv. 10. (The verse number is that of the Arabic text.)

19. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán, p. 51 (Brit.), pp. 79-80 (U.S.).

20. ibid., p. 52 (Brit.), pp. 80-1 (U.S.).

followed their religious leaders. Bahá'u'lláh confirms this in the Kitáb-i-Íqán in these words:

Such objections and differences have persisted in every age and century. The people have always busied themselves with such specious discourses, vainly protesting: 'Wherefore hath not this or that sign appeared?' Such ills befell them only because they have clung to the ways of the divines of the age in which they lived, and blindly imitated them in accepting or denying these Essences of Detachment, these holy and divine Beings. These leaders, owing to their immersion in selfish desires, and their pursuit of transitory and sordid things, have regarded these divine Luminaries as being opposed to the standards of their knowledge and understanding, and the opponents of their ways and judgments. As they have literally interpreted the Word of God, and the sayings and traditions of the Letters of Unity, and expounded them according to their own deficient understanding, they have therefore deprived themselves and all their people of the bountiful showers of the grace and mercies of God.21

To understand the mysteries enshrined in God's religion, Bahá'u'lláh repeatedly states, man must cleanse his heart from all earthly things. Here is one passage:

Wert thou to cleanse the mirror of thy heart from the dust of malice, thou wouldst apprehend the meaning of the symbolic terms revealed by the all-embracing Word of God made manifest in every Dispensation, and wouldst discover the mysteries of divine knowledge. Not, however, until thou consumest with the flame of utter detachment those veils of idle learning, that are current amongst men, canst thou behold the resplendent morn of true knowledge.

Know verily that Knowledge is of two kinds: Divine and Satanic. The one welleth out from the fountain of divine inspiration; the other is but a reflection of vain and obscure thoughts. The source of the former is God Himself; the motive-force of the latter the whisperings of selfish desire. The one is guided by the principle: 'Fear ye God; God will


21. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán, pp. 52-3 (Brit.}, pp. 81-2 (U.S.).

teach you;' the other is but a confirmation of the truth: 'Knowledge is the most grievous veil between man and his Creator.' The former bringeth forth the fruit of patience, of longing desire, of true understanding, and love; whilst the latter can yield naught but arrogance, vainglory and conceit. From the sayings of those Masters of holy utterance, Who have expounded the meaning of true knowledge, the odour of these dark teachings, which have obscured the world, can in no wise be detected. The tree of such teachings can yield no result except iniquity and rebellion, and beareth no fruit but hatred and envy. Its fruit is deadly poison; its shadow a consuming fire.22

Another important factor which has hindered recognition of the Manifestations of God is the tests which are associated with Their Revelations. In each case certain events in the life of the Manifestation have acted as stumbling-blocks to people, preventing them from recognizing the truth. Concerning this Bahá'u'lláh has revealed these words:

Know verily that the purpose underlying all these symbolic terms and abstruse allusions, which emanate from the Revealers of God's holy Cause, hath been to test and prove the peoples of the world; that thereby the earth of the pure and illuminated hearts may be known from the perishable and barren soil. From time immemorial such hath been the way of God amidst His creatures, and to this testify the records of the sacred books.23

He demonstrates this important principle by giving a few examples. Speaking of Muhammad, Who used to face Jerusalem while leading His followers in prayer, Bahá'u'lláh recounts this story of His sudden turning towards the Holy Mosque (Mecca):

...when the Prophet, together with His companions, was offering the noontide prayer...the Voice of Gabriel* was heard...: 'Turn Thou Thy face towards the sacred Mosque.'


* The angel who embodied the Holy Spirit for Muhammad.

22. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán, pp. 44-5 {Brit.), pp. 68-9 (U.S.).

23. ibid., p. 32 (Brit.), p. 49 (U.S.).

In the midst of that same prayer, Muhammad suddenly turned His face away from Jerusalem and faced the Ka'bih.* Whereupon, a profound dismay seized suddenly the companions of the Prophet. Their faith was shaken severely. So great was their alarm, that many of them, discontinuing their prayer, apostatized their faith. Verily, God caused not this turmoil, but to test and prove His servants...Yea, such things as throw consternation into the hearts of all men come to pass only that each soul may be tested by the touchstone of God, that the true may be known and distinguished from the false.24

Yet another story mentioned by Bahá'u'lláh in illustration of this theme concerns Moses:

For instance, consider Moses...Whilst passing, one day...ere His ministry was proclaimed, He saw two men engaged in fighting. One of them asked the help of Moses against his opponent. Whereupon, Moses intervened and slew him...

And now ponder in thy heart the commotion which God stirreth up. Reflect upon the strange and manifold trials with which He doth test His servants. Consider how He hath suddenly chosen from among His servants, and entrusted with the exalted mission of divine guidance Him Who was known as guilty of homicide; Who, Himself, had acknowledged His cruelty, and Who for well-nigh thirty years had, in the eyes of the world, been reared in the home of Pharaoh and been nourished at his table. Was not God, the omnipotent King, able to withhold the hand of Moses from murder, so that manslaughter should not be attributed unto Him, causing bewilderment and aversion among the people? 25

Mankind was similarly tested when Christ appeared. But on that occasion, the circumstances of His birth were the test, as Bahá'u'lláh explains:

Likewise, reflect upon the state and condition of Mary. So

* The ancient shrine at Mecca, now the holiest place in Islám.

24. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán, pp. 33, 34 {Brit.}, pp. 50-1 and 52 (U.S.).

25. ibid., pp. 35, 36 (Brit.), pp. 53-4 and 55-6 (U.S.).



An outstanding and heroic exponent of the Faith



An erudite teacher and Apostle of Bahá'u'lláh
Surnamed by Him Nabíl-i-Akbar

deep was the perplexity of that most beauteous countenance, so grievous her case, that she bitterly regretted she had ever been born....Reflect, what answer could Mary have given to the people around her? How could she claim that a babe Whose father was unknown had been conceived of the Holy Ghost? Therefore did Mary, that veiled and immortal Countenance, take up her Child and return unto her home...

And now, meditate upon this most great convulsion, this grievous test. Notwithstanding all these things, God conferred upon that essence of the Spirit, Who was known amongst the people as fatherless, the glory of Prophethood, and made Him His testimony unto all that are in heaven and on earth.26

Major Themes (Part Two)

The nature of God and His Manifestations

Having clearly demonstrated some of the causes which have prevented men from recognizing the Messengers of God, Bahá'u'lláh begins the second part of the Kitáb-i-Íqán with one of the most illuminating passages revealed by Him concerning the nature of the Manifestation and His relationship to God and man. In the following words He states most eloquently that man shall never of himself be able to know his Creator, but by His bounty God reveals Himself through a Prophet in each age:

To every discerning and illumined heart it is evident that God, the unknowable Essence, the divine Being, is immensely exalted beyond every human attribute, such as corporeal existence, ascent and descent, egress and regress. Far be it from His glory that human tongue should adequately recount His praise, or that human heart comprehend His fathomless mystery. He is and hath ever been veiled in the ancient eternity of His Essence, and will remain in His Reality everlastingly hidden from the sight of men...He standeth exalted beyond and above all separation and union, all

26. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán, pp. 36-7 (Brit.), pp. 56-7 (U.S.).
proximity and remoteness. No sign can indicate His presence or His absence; inasmuch as by a word of His command all that are in heaven and on earth have come to exist, and by His wish, which is the Primal Will itself, all have stepped out of utter nothingness into the realm of being, the world of the visible.

...All the Prophets of God and their chosen Ones, all the divines, the sages, and the wise of every generation, unanimously recognize their inability to attain unto the comprehension of that Quintessence of all truth, and confess their incapacity to grasp Him, Who is the inmost Reality of all things.27

The station and nature of the Manifestation of God are exalted above the world of humanity. He is in truth the embodiment of God's attributes revealed to man. He is the source of all the spiritual energies which are released from age to age. Just as the sun is the source of life and energy to this earth, so the Manifestation of God is the Sun to mankind. The life, growth and progress of humanity are due to, and depend upon, the appearance of these heavenly Souls. Bahá'u'lláh extols the station of the Manifestations of God and reveals a measure of Their glory in these words:

The door of the knowledge of the Ancient of Days being thus closed in the face of all beings, the Source of infinite grace, according to His saying: 'His grace hath transcended all things; My grace hath encompassed them all' hath caused those luminous Gems of Holiness to appear out of the realm of the spirit, in the noble form of the human temple, and be made manifest unto all men, that they may impart unto the world the mysteries of the unchangeable Being, and tell of the subtleties of His imperishable Essence. These sanctified Mirrors, these Day-springs of ancient glory are one and all the Exponents on earth of Him Who is the central Orb of the universe, its Essence and ultimate Purpose. From Him proceed their knowledge and power; from Him is derived their sovereignty. The beauty of their countenance is but a reflection of His image, and their revelation a sign of His deathless

27. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán, pp. 63-4 (Brit.), pp. 98-9 (U.S.).
glory. They are the Treasuries of divine knowledge, and the Repositories of celestial wisdom. Through them is transmitted a grace that is infinite, and by them is revealed the light that can never fade. Even as He hath said: 'There is no distinction whatsoever between Thee and Them; except that they are Thy servants, and are created of Thee' This is the significance of the tradition: 'I am He, Himself, and He is I, myself.' 28

And again He reveals the following:

...And of all men, the most accomplished, the most distinguished and the most excellent are the Manifestations of the Sun of Truth. Nay, all else besides these Manifestations, live by the operation of their Will, and move and have their being through the outpourings of their grace. 'But for Thee, I would have not created the heavens.' Nay, all in their holy presence fade into utter nothingness, and are a thing forgotten. Human tongue can never befittingly sing their praise, and human speech can never unfold their mystery. These Tabernacles of holiness, these primal Mirrors which reflect the light of unfading glory, are but expressions of Him Who is the Invisible of the Invisibles. By the revelation of these gems of divine virtue all the names and attributes of God, such as knowledge and power, sovereignty and dominion, mercy and wisdom, glory, bounty and grace, are made manifest.29

There are two passages in the Qur'án which appear to be contradictory. One speaks of the unity of the Messengers of God, the other exalts Some above Others. Bahá'u'lláh quotes these and explains the oneness of the Manifestations of God, on the one hand, and their differences on the other. Of their unity He states:

Furthermore, it is evident to thee that the Bearers of the trust of God are made manifest unto the peoples of the earth as the Exponents of a new Cause and the Bearers of a new Message. Inasmuch as these Birds of the Celestial Throne

28. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán, pp. 64-5 (Brit.), pp. 99-100 (U.S.).

29. ibid., pp. 66-7 (Brit.), p. 103 (U.S.).

are all sent down from the heaven of the Will of God, and as they all arise to proclaim His irresistible Faith, they therefore are regarded as one soul and the same person...These Manifestations of God have each a twofold station. One is the station of pure abstraction and essential unity. In this respect, if thou callest them all by one name, and dost ascribe to them the same attribute, thou hast not erred from the truth. Even as He hath revealed: 'No distinction do We make between any of His Messengers!'* For they one and all summon the people of the earth to acknowledge the Unity of God, and herald unto them the Kawthar of an infinite grace and bounty. They are all invested with the robe of Prophethood, and honoured with the mantle of glory...

It is clear and evident to thee that all the Prophets are the Temples of the Cause of God, Who have appeared clothed in divers attire. If thou wilt observe with discriminating eyes, thou wilt behold them all abiding in the same tabernacle, soaring in the same heaven, seated upon the same throne, uttering the same speech, and proclaiming the same Faith. Such is the unity of those Essences of being, those Luminaries of infinite and immeasurable splendour. Wherefore, should one of these Manifestations of Holiness proclaim saying: 'I am the return of all the Prophets,' He verily speaketh the truth. In like manner, in every subsequent Revelation, the return of the former Revelation is a fact, the truth of which is firmly established.30

Then, speaking of the differences which distinguish the Manifestations of God, Bahá'u'lláh explains:

...In this respect, each Manifestation of God hath a distinct individuality, a definitely prescribed mission, a predestined Revelation, and specially designated limitations. Each one of them is known by a different name, is characterized by a special attribute, fulfils a definite Mission, and is entrusted with a particular Revelation. Even as He saith: 'Some of the Apostles We have caused to excel the others. To some God hath spoken, some He hath raised and exalted. And to Jesus,

* Qur'án ii. 285.

30. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán, pp. 97-9 (Brit.}, pp. 152-4 (U.S.).
Son of Mary, We gave manifest signs, and We strengthened Him with the Holy Spirit.'*

It is because of this difference in their station and mission that the words and utterances flowing from these Wellsprings of divine knowledge appear to diverge and differ. Otherwise, in the eyes of them that are initiated into the mysteries of divine wisdom, all their utterances are in reality but the expressions of one Truth.31

Just as the reality of each Manifestation of God is the same as that of former Manifestations, so Their followers are likewise the return of the essence of the followers of former Dispensations. In this connection Bahá'u'lláh uses the following analogy:

...Consider the rose: whether it blossometh in the East or in the West, it is none the less a rose. For what mattereth in this respect is not the outward shape and form of the rose, but rather the smell and fragrance which it doth impart.32

As already indicated, the Manifestation of God has a dual nature, divine and human. Bahá'u'lláh's explanation is illuminating:

Thus, viewed from the standpoint of their oneness and sublime detachment, the attributes of Godhead, Divinity, Supreme Singleness, and Inmost Essence, have been and are applicable to those Essences of being, inasmuch as they all abide on the throne of divine Revelation, and are established upon the seat of divine Concealment. Through their appearance the Revelation of God is made manifest, and by their countenance the Beauty of God is revealed. Thus it is that the accents of God Himself have been heard uttered by these Manifestations of the divine Being.

Viewed in the light of their second station--the station of distinction, differentiation, temporal limitations, characteristics and standards--they manifest absolute servitude, utter destitution and complete self-effacement. Even as He


* Qur'án ii, 253. (The verse number is that of the Arabic text.)

31. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán, p. 113 (Brit.), pp. 176-7 (U.S.).

32. ibid., p. 102 (Brit.}, p. 159 (U.S.).

saith: 'I am the servant of God. I am but a man like you'...Were any of the all-embracing Manifestations of God to declare: 'I am God!' He verily speaketh the truth, and no doubt attacheth thereto. For it hath been repeatedly demonstrated that through their Revelation, their attributes and names, the Revelation of God, His name and His attributes, are made manifest in the world...And were they to say: 'We are the servants of God,' this also is a manifest and indisputable fact. For they have been made manifest in the uttermost state of servitude, a servitude the like of which no man can possibly attain.33

The sovereignty of the Prophets

One of the questions which Hájí Mírzá Siyyid Muhammad asked Bahá'u'lláh to resolve for him concerned the circumstances of the appearance of the Qá'im. According to the traditions of Islám, He is to come with great sovereignty and rule over the people. These conditions were not literally fulfilled by the Báb. Bahá'u'lláh devotes a considerable part of the Kitáb-i-Íqán to His reply, demonstrating that all the Prophets of God have appeared with majesty and power, but that these were spiritual conditions rather than physical. Their sovereignty was heavenly, and through it they established their ascendancy and lordship over mankind. Speaking of the sovereignty of the Qá'im, He writes:

This sovereignty, however, is not the sovereignty which the minds of men have falsely imagined. Moreover, the Prophets of old, each and every one, whenever announcing to the people of their day the advent of the coming Revelation, have invariably and specifically referred to that sovereignty with which the promised Manifestation must needs be invested. This is attested by the records of the scriptures of the past. This sovereignty hath not been solely and exclusively attributed to the Qá'im. Nay rather, the attribute of sovereignty and all other names and attributes of God have been and will ever be vouchsafed unto all the Manifestations of God, be-

33. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán, pp. 114-15 (Brit.}, pp. 177-9 (U.S.).
fore and after Him, inasmuch as these Manifestations, as it hath already been explained, are the Embodiments of the attributes of God, the Invisible, and the Revealers of the divine mysteries.

Furthermore, by sovereignty is meant the all-encompassing, all-pervading power which is inherently exercised by the Qá'im whether or not He appear to the world clothed in the majesty of earthly dominion. This is solely dependent upon the will and pleasure of the Qá'im Himself. You will readily recognize that the terms sovereignty, wealth, life, death, judgment and resurrection, spoken of by the scriptures of old, are not what this generation hath conceived and vainly imagined. Nay, by sovereignty is meant that sovereignty which in every dispensation resideth within, and is exercised by, the person of the Manifestation, the Day-star of Truth. That sovereignty is the spiritual ascendancy which He exerciseth to the fullest degree over all that is in heaven and on earth, and which in due time revealeth itself to the world in direct proportion to its capacity and spiritual receptiveness.34

Comparing the ascendancy and creative power of the Manifestations of God with the fleeting sovereignty of earthly kings, Bahá'u'lláh states:

Be fair: Is this sovereignty which, through the utterance of one Word, hath manifested such pervading influence, ascendancy, and awful majesty, is this sovereignty superior, or is the worldly dominion of these kings of the earth who, despite their solicitude for their subjects and their help of the poor, are assured only of an outward and fleeting allegiance, while in the hearts of men they inspire neither affection nor respect? Hath not that sovereignty, through the potency of one word, subdued, quickened, and revitalized the whole world? What! Can the lowly dust compare with Him Who is the Lord of Lords? What tongue dare utter the immensity of difference that lieth between them? Nay, all comparison falleth short in attaining the hallowed sanctuary of His sovereignty. Were man to reflect, he would surely perceive that even the servant of His threshold ruleth over all created

34. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán, pp. 69-70 (Brit.), pp. 106-8 (U.S.).
things! This hath already been witnessed, and will in future be made manifest.35

Among other stories which Bahá'u'lláh recounts, to demonstrate the meaning of the sovereignty and dominion attributed to the Prophets of God, is that of Jesus during His captivity in the hands of the Jews:

Similarly, call thou to mind the day when the Jews, who had surrounded Jesus, Son of Mary, were pressing Him to confess His claim of being the Messiah and Prophet of God, so that they might declare Him an infidel and sentence Him to death. Then, they led Him away, He Who was the Daystar of the heaven of divine Revelation, unto Pilate and Caiaphas, who was the leading divine of that age. The chief priests were all assembled in the palace, also a multitude of people who had gathered to witness His sufferings, to deride and injure Him. Though they repeatedly questioned Him, hoping that He would confess His claim, yet Jesus held His peace and spake not. Finally, an accursed of God arose and, approaching Jesus, adjured Him saying: 'Didst thou not claim to be the Divine Messiah? Didst thou not say, "I am the King of Kings, My word is the Word of God, and I am the breaker of the Sabbath day?"' Thereupon Jesus lifted up His head and said: 'Beholdest thou not the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power and might?' These were His words, and yet consider how to outward seeming He was devoid of all power except that inner power which was of God and which had encompassed all that is in heaven and on earth.36

In the course of His exposition of sovereignty, Bahá'u'lláh dwells on the sufferings which were heaped upon the Prophets of God and His Chosen Ones. He describes the martyrdom of Imám Husayn which shed a glorious lustre upon the Faith of Islám. He also portrays the sufferings and tribulations which were inflicted upon Muhammad during the earlier years of His ministry. In this connection, Bahá'u'lláh demonstrates that the Word spoken by the Manifestation transports the human soul

35. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán, pp. 79-80 (Brit.), pp. 123-4 (U. S.).

36. ibid., pp. 85-6 {Brit.), pp. 132-3 (U.S.).

from a state of wretchedness and ignorance into the glorious realm of divine virtues and perfections. Through the potency of His Revelation He welds the hearts of contending peoples and kindreds and makes of them a single nation. And He shows the relevance of a well-known Biblical prophecy:

...Furthermore, how numerous are those peoples of divers beliefs, of conflicting creeds, and opposing temperaments, who, through the reviving fragrance of the Divine springtime,* breathing from the Ridván of God, have been arrayed with the new robe of divine Unity, and have drunk from the cup of His singleness!

This is the significance of the well-known words: 'The wolf and the lamb shall feed together.'† Behold the ignorance and folly of those who, like the nations of old, are still expecting to witness the time when these beasts will feed together in one pasture! Such is their low estate. Methinks, never have their lips touched the cup of understanding, neither have their feet trodden the path of justice. Besides, of what profit would it be to the world were such a thing to take place? How well hath He spoken concerning them: 'Hearts have they, with which they understand not, and eyes have they with which they see not!'‡ 37

The meaning of 'life', 'death' and 'resurrection'

Once again,§ Bahá'u'lláh reveals the meaning of terms used in the Holy Books of former religions, such terms as 'life', 'death', 'resurrection', the 'trumpet blast', 'paradise', and 'hell'. He states:

...By the terms 'life' and 'death', spoken of in the scriptures, is intended the life of faith and the death of unbelief. The generality of the people, owing to their failure to grasp the meaning of these words, rejected and despised the person of

* Associated with the appearance of the Manifestation of God.

Isaiah lxv. 25.

Qur'án vii. 178.

§ See pp. 166-71

37. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán, p. 73 (Brit.), pp. 112-13 (U.S.).
the Manifestation, deprived themselves of the light of His divine guidance, and refused to follow the example of that immortal Beauty.38

The 'Day of Resurrection', Bahá'u'lláh affirms, is ushered in through the advent of each Manifestation of God; by His Revelation the faithful arise from the sepulchres of unbelief and acquire spiritual life. These are some of His words:

Such things have come to pass in the days of every Manifestation of God. Even as Jesus said: 'Ye must be born again.'* Again He saith: 'Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.'† The purport of these words is that whosoever in every dispensation is born of the Spirit and is quickened by the breath of the Manifestation of Holiness, he verily is of those that have attained unto 'life' and 'resurrection' and have entered into the 'paradise' of the love of God. And whosoever is not of them, is condemned to 'death' and 'deprivation', to the 'fire' of unbelief, and to the 'wrath' of God. In all the scriptures, the books and chronicles, the sentence of death, of fire, of blindness, of want of understanding and hearing, hath been pronounced against those whose lips have tasted not the ethereal cup of true knowledge, and whose hearts have been deprived of the grace of the holy Spirit in their day. Even as it hath been previously recorded: 'Hearts have they with which they understand not.'‡

In another passage of the Gospel it is written: 'And it came to pass that on a certain day the father of one of the disciples of Jesus had died. That disciple reporting the death of his father unto Jesus, asked for leave to go and bury him. Whereupon, Jesus, that Essence of Detachment, answered and said: '"Let the dead bury their dead."' § 39


* John iii. 7.

ibid., vv. 5-6.

Qur'án vii. 178.

§ Luke ix. 60, as cited in the Kitáb-i-Íqán.

38. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán, p. 74 (Brit.), p. 114 (U.S.).

39. ibid., pp. 76-7 (Brit.), pp. 118-19 (U.S.).

In the Qur'án there are many references to the Day when man will attain to the presence of God. This, Bahá'u'lláh affirms, can only be interpreted as attaining to the presence of the Manifestation of God:

Attainment unto such presence is possible only in the Day of Resurrection, which is the Day of the rise of God Himself through His all-embracing Revelation.

This is the meaning of the 'Day of Resurrection', spoken of in all the scriptures, and announced unto all people. Reflect, can a more precious, a mightier, and more glorious day than this be conceived, so that man should willingly forego its grace, and deprive himself of its bounties, which like unto vernal showers are raining from the heaven of mercy upon all mankind? Having thus conclusively demonstrated that no day is greater than this Day, and no revelation more glorious than this Revelation, and having set forth all these weighty and infallible proofs which no understanding mind can question, and no man of learning overlook, how can man possibly, through the idle contention of the people of doubt and fancy, deprive himself of such a bountiful grace? Have they not heard the well-known tradition: 'When the Qá'im riseth, that day is the Day of Resurrection?' In like manner, the Imáms, those unquenchable lights of divine guidance, have interpreted the verse: 'What can such expect but that God should come down to them overshadowed with clouds,'*--a sign which they have unquestionably regarded as one of the features of the Day of Resurrection--as referring to Qá'im and His manifestation.40

The veil of knowledge

There are several references in the second part of the Kitáb-i-Íqán to the divines and religious leaders who through their 'so called learning' have hindered the people from turning to the Manifestations of God. These statements are similar to those made in the first part of the book, but now are mainly directed to


* Qur'án ii. 210. (Verse number is in accordance with the Arabic text.)

40. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán, p. 92 (Brit.), pp. 143-4 (U.S.).
the divines of Islám.* For acquired knowledge can become a veil between man and God. Referring to this veil, Bahá'u'lláh states:

We have consumed this densest of all veils, with the fire of the love of the Beloved--the veil referred to in the saying: 'The most grievous of all veils is the veil of knowledge.' Upon its ashes, We have reared the tabernacle of divine knowledge...We have driven from the human heart all else but Him Who is the Desire of the world, and glory therein. We cleave to no knowledge but His Knowledge, and set our hearts on naught save the effulgent glories of His light.41

Recognition of the Manifestation of God is not dependent upon acquired knowledge:

The understanding of His words and the comprehension of the utterances of the Birds of Heaven† are in no wise dependent upon human learning. They depend solely upon purity of heart, chastity of soul, and freedom of spirit. This is evidenced by those who, today, though without a single letter of the accepted standards of learning, are occupying the loftiest seats of knowledge; and the garden of their hearts is adorned, through the showers of divine grace, with the roses of wisdom and the tulips of understanding. Well is it with the sincere in heart for their share of the light of a mighty Day! 42

The true seeker

One of the most illuminating of Bahá'u'lláh's utterances in the Kitáb-i-Íqán is to, be found in those passages concerning the qualities and attributes of a true seeker. These are His words as He addresses Hájí Mírzá Siyyid Muhammad, the uncle of the Báb:


* See Appendix IV for an account of Hájí Mírzá Karím Khán, one of those divines to whom Bahá'u'lláh refers in the Kitáb-i-Íqán.

† The Manifestations of God.

41. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán, p. 120 (Brit.), pp. 187-8 (U.S.).

42. ibid., p. 135 (Brit.}, p. 211 (U.S.).

But, O my brother, when a true seeker determines to take the step of search in the path leading to the knowledge of the Ancient of Days, he must, before all else, cleanse and purify his heart, which is the seat of the revelation of the inner mysteries of God, from the obscuring dust of all acquired knowledge, and the allusions of the embodiments of satanic fancy. He must purge his breast, which is the sanctuary of the abiding love of the Beloved, of every defilement, and sanctify his soul from all that pertaineth to water and clay, from all shadowy and ephemeral attachments. He must so cleanse his heart that no remnant of either love or hate may linger therein, lest that love blindly incline him to error, or that hate repel him away from the truth. Even as thou dost witness in this day how most of the people, because of such love and hate, are bereft of the immortal Face, have strayed far from the Embodiments of the divine mysteries, and, shepherdless, are roaming through the wilderness of oblivion and error. That seeker must at all times put his trust in God, must renounce the peoples of the earth, detach himself from the world of dust, and cleave unto Him Who is the Lord of Lords. He must never seek to exalt himself above any one, must wash away from the tablet of his heart every trace of pride and vainglory, must cling unto patience and resignation, observe silence, and refrain from idle talk. For the tongue is a smouldering fire, and excess of speech a deadly poison. Material fire consumeth the body, whereas the fire of the tongue devoureth both heart and soul. The force of the former lasteth but for a time, whilst the effects of the latter endure a century.

That seeker should also regard backbiting as grievous error, and keep himself aloof from its dominion, inasmuch as backbiting quencheth the light of the heart, and extinguisheth the life of the soul. He should be content with little, and be freed from all inordinate desire. He should treasure the companionship of those that have renounced the world, and regard avoidance of boastful and worldly people a precious benefit. At the dawn of every day he should commune with God, and with all his soul persevere in the quest of his Beloved. He should consume every wayward thought with the flame of


His loving mention, and, with the swiftness of lightning, pass by all else save Him. He should succour the dispossessed, and never withhold his favour from the destitute. He should show kindness to animals, how much more unto his fellow-man, to him who is endowed with the power of utterance. He should not hesitate to offer up his life for his Beloved, nor allow the censure of the people to turn him away from the Truth. He should not wish for others that which he doth not wish for himself, nor promise that which he doth not fulfil. With all his heart should the seeker avoid fellowship with evil doers, and pray for the remission of their sins. He should forgive the sinful, and never despise his low estate, for none knoweth what his own end shall be. How often hath a sinner, at the hour of death, attained to the essence of faith, and, quaffing the immortal draught, hath taken his flight unto the celestial Concourse. And how often hath a devout believer, at the hour of his soul's ascension, been so changed as to fall into the nethermost fire. Our purpose in revealing these convincing and weighty utterances is to impress upon the seeker that he should regard all else beside God as transient, and count all things save Him, Who is the Object of all adoration, as utter nothingness.

These are among the attributes of the exalted, and constitute the hallmark of the spiritually-minded. They have already been mentioned in connection with the requirements of the wayfarers that tread the Path of Positive Knowledge. When the detached wayfarer and sincere seeker hath fulfilled these essential conditions, then and only then can he be called a true seeker. Whensoever he hath fulfilled the conditions implied in the verse: 'Whoso maketh efforts for Us,'* he shall enjoy the blessing conferred by the words: 'In Our ways shall We assuredly guide him.'†

Only when the lamp of search, of earnest striving, of longing desire, of passionate devotion, of fervid love, of rapture, and ecstasy, is kindled within the seeker's heart, and the breeze of His loving-kindness is wafted upon his soul, will the darkness of error be dispelled, the mists of doubts and


* Qur'án xxix:69.


misgivings be dissipated, and the lights of knowledge and certitude envelop his being. At that hour will the mystic Herald, bearing the joyful tidings of the Spirit, shine forth from the City of God resplendent as the morn, and, through the trumpet-blast of knowledge, will awaken the heart, the soul, and the spirit from the slumber of negligence. Then will the manifold favours and outpouring grace of the holy and everlasting Spirit confer such new life upon the seeker that he will find himself endowed with a new eye, a new ear, a new heart, and a new mind. He will contemplate the manifest signs of the universe, and will penetrate the hidden mysteries of the soul. Gazing with the eye of God, he will perceive within every atom a door that leadeth him to the stations of absolute certitude. He will discover in all things the mysteries of divine Revelation and the evidences of an everlasting manifestation.43

Proofs of the Báb's Revelation

Having clarified these basic points for Hájí Mírzá Siyyid Muhammad, Bahá'u'lláh then introduces proofs of the authenticity of the Message of the Báb. Once again He prepares the way by speaking generally about the Manifestations of God, devoting several pages to clarify that the greatest proof of a Prophet is His own self, just as the proof of the sun is the sun itself.

Next in importance as a proof of the Manifestation of God is the revelation of the Word of God. Bahá'u'lláh shows how Muhammad, on more than one occasion, pointed to the Qur'án as a proof of His mission:

In the beginning of His Book He saith: '...No doubt is there about this Book: It is a guidance unto the God-fearing...' * He, the divine Being, and unknowable Essence, hath, Himself, testified that this Book is, beyond all doubt and uncertainty, the guide of all mankind until the Day of Resurrection...


* Qur'án ii. 1.

43. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán, pp. 123-6 (Brit.), pp. 192-6 (U.S.).
In another passage He likewise saith: 'And if ye be in doubt as to that which We have sent down to Our Servant, then produce a Súrah like it, and summon your witnesses, beside God, if ye are men of truth.'* Behold, how lofty is the station, and how consummate the virtue, of these verses which He hath declared to be His surest testimony, His infallible proof, the evidence of His all-subduing power, and a revelation of the potency of His will.44

The study of the lives of the Founders of all religions demonstrates that the Word of God is the most effective instrument by which the Prophet creates a new civilization. It penetrates into the hearts of people and becomes the spirit of the age. When a seeker recognizes the Source of the revealed Word he enters the City of Certitude, Bahá'u'lláh affirms, and He describes that city as

...none other than the Word of God revealed in every age and dispensation. In the days of Moses it was the Pentateuch; in the days of Jesus the Gospel; in the days of Muhammad the Messenger of God the Qur'án; in this day the Bayán;† and in the dispensation of Him Whom God will make manifest His own Book--the Book unto which all the Books of former Dispensations must needs be referred, the Book which standeth amongst them all transcendent and supreme.45

Concerning the Revelation of the Báb, He writes as follows:

Such bounty and revelation have been made manifest, that the revealed verses seemed as vernal showers raining from the clouds of the mercy of the All-Bountiful. The Prophets 'endowed with constancy', whose loftiness and glory shine as the sun, were each honoured with a Book which all have seen, and the verses of which have been duly ascertained. Whereas the verses which have rained from this Cloud of divine mercy have been so abundant that none hath yet been

* Qur'án ii. 23. (Verse number is according to the Arabic text.)

† See footnote, p. 23.

44. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán. These quotations are taken from pp. 129, 130, 131 (Brit.) and from pp. 202, 203 and 204-5 (U.S.).

45. ibid., pp. 127-8 (Brit.), pp. 199-200 (U.S.).

able to estimate their number. A score of volumes are now available. How many still remain beyond our reach! How many have been plundered and have fallen into the hands of the enemy, the fate of which none knoweth.46

Because in the beginning of former Dispensations certain obscure souls embraced the Faith of God, the learned belittled it and scorned its followers. Bahá'u'lláh points out how different was the situation when the Báb appeared:

In this most resplendent Dispensation, however, this most mighty Sovereignty, a number of illumined divines, of men of consummate learning, of doctors of mature wisdom, have attained unto His Court, drunk the cup of His divine Presence, and been invested with the honour of His most excellent favour. They have renounced, for the sake of the Beloved, the world and all that is therein. We will mention the names of some of them, that perchance it may strengthen the faint-hearted, and encourage the timorous.

Among them was Mullá Husayn,* who became the recipient of the effulgent glory of the Sun of divine Revelation. But for him, God would not have been established upon the seat of His mercy, nor ascended the throne of eternal glory. Among them also was Siyyid Yahyá,† that unique and peerless figure of his age...and others, well nigh four hundred in number, whose names are all inscribed upon the 'Guarded Tablet' of God.

All these were guided by the light of that Sun of divine Revelation, confessed and acknowledged His truth. Such was their faith, that most of them renounced their substance and kindred, and cleaved to the good-pleasure of the All-Glorious. They laid down their lives for their Well-Beloved, and surrendered their all in His path.47

Then follow passages of tribute by Bahá'u'lláh to the Báb, as

* A distinguished man of learning, foremost among the disciples of Siyyid Kázim. He was the first to believe in the Báb and is the great hero of the Bábí Dispensation.

† Known as Vahíd. See Appendix III.

46. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán, p. 138 (Brit.), pp. 216-17 (U.S.).

47. ibid., pp. 142-3 {Brit.), pp. 222-4 (U.S.).

He describes His steadfastness in proclaiming His Cause, in the face of bitter opposition. Such steadfastness has characterized all the Prophets of God and is yet another of Their proofs. These are some of Bahá'u'lláh's statements about the Báb:

Another proof and evidence of the truth of this Revelation, which amongst all other proofs shineth as the sun, is the constancy of the eternal Beauty in proclaiming the Faith of God. Though young and tender of age, and though the Cause He revealed was contrary to the desire of all the peoples of earth, both high and low, rich and poor, exalted and abased, king and subject, yet He arose and steadfastly proclaimed it. All have known and heard this. He was afraid of no one; He was regardless of consequences. Could such a thing be made manifest except through the power of a divine Revelation, and the potency of God's invincible Will? By the righteousness of God! Were any one to entertain so great a Revelation in his heart, the thought of such a declaration would alone confound him! Were the hearts of all men to be crowded into his heart, he would still hesitate to venture upon so awful an enterprise. He could achieve it only by the permission of God, only if the channel of his heart were to be linked with the Source of divine grace, and his soul be assured of the unfailing sustenance of the Almighty.48

Steadfastness in the Faith is a sure testimony, and a glorious evidence of the truth...

And now consider how this Sadrih of the Ridván of God hath, in the prime of youth, risen to proclaim the Cause of God. Behold what steadfastness that Beauty of God hath revealed. The whole world rose to hinder Him, yet it utterly failed. The more severe the persecution they inflicted on that Sadrih of Blessedness, the more His fervour increased, and the brighter burned the flame of His love. All this is evident, and none disputeth its truth. Finally, He surrendered His soul, and winged His flight unto the realms above.49

As to the effect of the Revelation of the Báb upon His followers, Bahá'u'lláh writes:


48. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán, p. 147 (Brit.), pp. 230-1 (U.S.).

49. ibid., p. 149 (Brit.), pp. 233-4 (U.S.).

And among the evidences of the truth of His manifestation were the ascendancy, the transcendent power, and supremacy which He, the Revealer of being and Manifestation of the Adored, hath, unaided and alone, revealed throughout the world. No sooner had that eternal Beauty revealed Himself in Shíráz, in the year sixty,* and rent asunder the veil of concealment, than the signs of the ascendancy, the might, the sovereignty, and power, emanating from that Essence of Essences and Sea of Seas, were manifest in every land. So much so, that from every city there appeared the signs, the evidences, the tokens, the testimonies of that divine Luminary. How many were those pure and kindly hearts which faithfully reflected the light of that eternal Sun, and how manifold the emanations of knowledge from that Ocean of divine wisdom which encompassed all beings! In every city, all the divines and dignitaries rose to hinder and repress them, and girded up the loins of malice, of envy, and tyranny for their suppression. How great the number of those holy souls, those essences of justice, who, accused of tyranny, were put to death! And how many embodiments of purity, who showed forth naught but true knowledge and stainless deeds, suffered an agonizing death! Notwithstanding all this, each of these holy beings, up to his last moment, breathed the Name of God, and soared in the realm of submission and resignation. Such was the potency and transmuting influence which He exercised over them, that they ceased to cherish any desire but His will, and wedded their soul to His remembrance.50

It is important to realize that the Báb fulfilled prophecies recorded in the Scriptures, particularly those of Islám. The Revelation of the Báb had a special link with Islám. Not only was He Himself descended from Muhammad, but His advent was also most eagerly anticipated by Muslims, both Shí'ah and Sunní, and was considered the climax and the fruit of the Faith of Islám. Muhammad and the Holy Imáms have left behind innumerable prophecies concerning the coming of the Promised

* 1260 A.H. (A.D. 1844); the year of the Báb's Declaration.

50. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán, pp. 149-50 (Brit.), pp. 234-5 (U.S.).
One. All the circumstances of His Revelation, the time, the place and many other aspects of His Cause are mentioned in the traditions of Islám either explicitly or by allusion.

Mírzá Ahmad-i-Azghandí, who became an ardent believer, was one of the most outstanding divines of Khurásán. Prior to the Declaration of the Báb, he had felt the urge to compile all the prophecies and traditions of Islám connected with the advent of the Promised One. So vast is the scope of these prophecies that his compilation consisted of almost twelve thousand traditions!

The fulfilment of prophecies concerning the appearance of the Qá'im is of the utmost importance to Shí'ah Islám. For over a thousand years its adherents had discussed these in their mosques, schools and homes. It is perhaps for this reason that Bahá'u'lláh has devoted a few pages of the Kitáb-i-Íqán to explaining some of these traditions. In doing so He has demonstrated how the Báb has clearly fulfilled these prophecies.

Bahá'u'lláh anticipates His own Revelation

In anticipation of His own Revelation, while alluding to Himself as the 'Quintessence of truth', 'the inmost Reality', 'the Source of all light' and 'the King of divine might', Bahá'u'lláh addresses the leaders of the Bábí community and their learned men in these words:

And now, We beseech the people of the Bayán, all the learned, the sages, the divines, and witnesses amongst them, not to forget the wishes and admonitions revealed in their Book. Let them, at all times, fix their gaze upon the essentials of His Cause, lest when He, Who is the Quintessence of truth, the inmost Reality of all things, the Source of all light, is made manifest, they cling unto certain passages of the Book, and inflict upon Him that which was inflicted in the Dispensation of the Qur'án. For, verily, powerful is He, the King of divine might,* to extinguish with one letter of His

* This is a reference to 'Him Whom God shall make manifest'.

wondrous words, the breath of life in the whole of the Bayán and the people thereof, and with one letter bestow upon them a new and everlasting life, and cause them to arise and speed out of the sepulchres of their vain and selfish desires. Take heed, and be watchful; and remember that all things have their consummation in belief in Him, in attainment unto His day, and in the realization of His divine presence.51

In another passage, alluding to Himself as the 'Bird of Heaven', He asserts:

By God! This Bird of Heaven, now dwelling upon the dust, can, besides these melodies, utter a myriad songs, and is able, apart from these utterances, to unfold innumerable mysteries. Every single note of its unpronounced utterances is immeasurably exalted above all that hath already been revealed, and immensely glorified beyond that which hath streamed from this Pen. Let the future disclose the hour when the Brides of inner meaning, will, as decreed by the Will of God, hasten forth, unveiled, out of their mystic mansions, and manifest themselves in the ancient realm of being.52

Yet Bahá'u'lláh anticipates, in some passages of the Kitáb-i-Íqán, the opposition He would meet and the sufferings He would endure at the hands of enemies from within the Bábí community. Alluding to Mírzá Yahyá and those around him, Bahá'u'lláh writes:

In these days, however, such odours of jealousy are diffused, that--I swear by the Educator of all beings, visible and invisible--from the beginning of the foundation of the world--though it hath no beginning--until the present day, such malice, envy, and hate have in no wise appeared, nor will they ever be witnessed in the future. For a number of people who have never inhaled the fragrance of justice, have raised the standard of sedition, and have leagued themselves against Us. On every side We witness the menace of their spears, and in all directions We recognize the shafts of their arrows. This,

51. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán, p. 59 (Brit.), p. 92 (U.S.).

52. ibid., pp. 112-13 (Brit.), pp. 175-6 (U.S.).

although We have never gloried in any thing, nor did We seek preference over any soul. To everyone We have been a most kindly companion, a most forbearing and affectionate friend. In the company of the poor We have sought their fellowship, and amidst the exalted and learned We have been submissive and resigned.53

Bahá'u'lláh refers to His sufferings in many of His Writings and makes clear that the greatest suffering inflicted upon the Manifestation of God comes from those who profess His Faith but are unfaithful to Him. The pain which Bahá'u'lláh endured as a result of the unfaithfulness of Mírzá Yahyá, his insincerity and dishonourable behaviour, was not physical. He felt this grief and anguish deep within His soul and states in the Kitáb-i-Íqán:

I swear by God, the one true God! grievous as have been the woes and sufferings which the hand of the enemy and the people of the Book* inflicted upon Us, yet all these fade into utter nothingness when compared with that which hath befallen Us at the hand of those who profess to be Our friends.54

The authority with which Bahá'u'lláh speaks in the Kitáb-i-Íqán, the tone of many of His remarks and the allusions He makes to Himself are all indicative of His divine station and His impending Declaration. In one passage He states:

The universe is pregnant with these manifold bounties, awaiting the hour when the effects of Its unseen gifts will be made manifest in this world, when the languishing and sore athirst will attain the living Kawthar† of their Well-Beloved, and the erring wanderer, lost in the wilds of remoteness and nothingness, will enter the tabernacle of life, and attain reunion with his heart's desire.55


* In this instance, the followers of Islám.

† Literally, a river in Paradise; symbolically, the life-giving waters of the Revelation of God.

53. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán, p. 159 (Brit.), pp. 249-50 (U.S.).

54. ibid., p. 159 (Brit.}, p. 250 (U.S.).

55. ibid., p. 39 (Brit.}, pp. 60-1 (U.S.).

The Kitáb-i-Íqán is like an ocean. It contains the innermost reality of religion and its depths are unfathomable. One may read it many times, yet each time new truths and new visions manifest themselves before the eye.