Selections from the Writings of Baha’u’llah -Compiled, by Shua Ullah Behai

Shua Ullah Behai  in 1930

This chapter is a compilation of some of the writings of Baha’u’llah in English translation, selected by Shua Ullah Behai and included in his book manuscript in a chapter called “Baha’u’llah.” All of these are among the better-known writings of the Baha’i founder, with the possible exception of the “Surah of the Branch,” a document which was a source of controversy in the years following Baha’u’llah’s death and was read by Baha’is more often in the past than today. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, in this chapter Mr. Behai does not include any excerpts from the Hidden Words or the Seven Valleys and Four Valleys, which are among Baha’u’llah’s most popular works; nor does he reproduce any of the laws of the central scriptural text of the Baha’i faith, the Kitab-i- Aqdas. Several of the Hidden Words and various teachings from the Aqdas are included elsewhere in the book, however.

Most of the writings of Baha’u’llah in this chapter are from translations that were publicly available at the time when Mr. Behai was compiling them, but a few are either his own translations or from sources this editor was unable to determine. None of them are the officially approved version of Baha’i holy writings used by Baha’is today, but some of these translations were used by Baha’is for many years.

Specifically, the “Glad Tidings” and “Book of My Covenant” 121  122   are  from a 1923 book called Bahai Scriptures: Selections from the Utterances of Baha’u’llah and Abdul Baha, with some minor changes by Mr. Behai. The epistle to the Shah of Iran is partly from Bahai Scriptures and partly from Edward G. Browne’s translation of a portion of the document in A Traveller’s Narrative. The epistles to Queen Victoria, Napoleon III, and the Pope are mostly from a translation by Prof. Browne in a long academic article entitled “The Babis of Persia. II. Their Literature and Doctrines,” 123  with some small parts from Bahai Scriptures.

The epistles to the German Emperor and to the rulers of America, the “Words of Wisdom,” and the “Surah of the Branch” are all probably original translations by Shua Ullah Behai. The translation of the latter document was somewhat based on the version in Bahai Scriptures but is significantly different in numerous places, presumably reflecting Mr. Behai’s study of the Arabic original and his editorial judgment. He was fluent in Arabic, Persian, and English, and had access to his father’s extensive library of Baha’u’llah’s writings including original calligraphies, so he was capable of producing high-quality translations of his own.

In his translation of the Surah of the Branch, Mr. Behai indicates that the “Branch” described in the document is a reference to Baha’u’llah himself, thus rejecting the interpretation that it referred to his son Abbas Effendi, who was known by the title Ghusn-i-A‘zam (“The Greatest Branch”) or more commonly known today as ‘Abdu’l-Baha. In the mainstream Baha’i tradition, this Surah is believed to be about ‘Abdu’l Baha, not Baha’u’llah, and has been used as a proof text for Baha’u’llah’s purported intention that his eldest son should be regarded as occupying an extraordinarily lofty station—a station which would seem to be that of a “Manifestation of God” if the document is to be taken literally, though Baha’i doctrine today does not place ‘Abdu’l-Baha in this metaphysical category. In Shua Ullah Behai’s view, the Surah of the Branch describes Baha’u’llah’s own claims about himself as a Manifestation of Divinity branching out from the Godhead—an interpretation that I consider to be more likely, especially since the document was written  in the 1860s, when Abbas Effendi was only in his early 20s and Baha’u’llah’s ministry would continue on for yet another roughly 25 years.

One of the challenges of Baha’u’llah’s writings is that he frequently switches back and forth from the divine voice to his own human voice. Often he seems to perceive the Manifestation of God as a divine agent who overtakes or merges with his own self, but other times he speaks as a servant of God, to whom the Deity is external. When speaking as God, he often refers to himself (i.e. Baha’u’llah) in the third person, which could mistakenly give the impression that he is speaking of someone else (as might be the case in the Surah of the Branch). These varied modes or styles of communication, and the difficult to discern transitions between them, can make the writings of Baha’u’llah some¬what confusing both for translators and readers—especially those with little or no background in Islamic mysticism. In the “authorized” translations used today, Baha’is have tended to obscure these subtle issues and regard all of Baha’u’llah’s words as simply the Voice of God, but I don’t think this does justice to the complexity of Baha’i metaphysics concerning the process of revelation. The translations presented in this chapter, though stylistically perhaps less elegant, seem to offer a more literal picture of Baha’u’llah’s self-concept, relationship and sometimes identification with his God; and my notes on these texts identify and explore the religious background and key theological concepts that are essential to a nuanced understanding.
—The Editor

Baha’u’llah’s “Glad Tidings” 124

This is the Voice of Al-Abha,125  which is being raised from the Supreme Horizon, in the Prison Akka!

He is the Declarer, the Knower, the Omniscient!
God testifieth and the Appearance of His Names and Attributes beareth witness that, by the raising of the Voice and by the Exalted Word, it hath been (our) aim that the ears of the people of the world should be purified through the Kawthar 126 127 of Divine Utterance from false narrations and be prepared to hearken unto the blessed, pure, exalted Word which hath appeared from the treasury of the knowledge of the Maker of Heaven and Creator of Names. Blessed are those who are just!

O people of the earth:

The First Glad Tidings which is conferred in this Most Great Manifestation on all the people of the world, from the Mother Book,  is the abolishing of the decree of religious warfare from the Book. Exalted is the Beneficent One, the Possessor of Great Bounty—the One through whom the door of grace is opened before all in the heaven and earth.

The Second Glad Tidings: It is sanctioned that all the nations of the world consort with each other with joy and fragrance. Consort ye, O people, with (the people of) all religions with joy and fragrance! Thus hath the orb of permission and desire shone forth from the horizon of the Heaven of Command of God, the Lord of the creatures.

The Third Glad Tidings is the study of various languages. This command hath formerly flowed from the Supreme Pen. Their Majesties, the kings—may God assist them—or the counselors [i.e. government ministers] of the earth must consult together, and appoint one of the existing languages, or a new language, and instruct the children therein, in all the schools of the world; and the same must be done with respect to writing also [i.e. a common script]. In such case the earth will be considered as one. Blessed is he who heareth the Voice and fulfilleth that which is commanded on the part of God, the Lord of the Great Throne!

The Fourth Glad Tidings: Let every one of the kings—may God strengthen them—arise to protect and assist this oppressed community (i.e. the Baha’is). Each (Baha’i) must precede the other in serving and showing love unto them. This matter is obligatory upon all. Blessed are those who practice!

The Fifth Glad Tidings: In every country or government where any of this community reside, they must behave toward that government with faithfulness, trustfulness, and truthfulness. This is that which is revealed from the presence of the Ancient Commander! It is obligatory and incumbent on the people of the world in general to assist this Most Great Cause—which hath descended from the Heaven of the Will of the King of Preexistence—that perchance the fire of animosity which is ablaze in the hearts of some of the nations, may be quenched through the water of divine wisdom and lordly commands and exhortations, and that the light of union and accord may irradiate and illuminate the regions (of the world). It is hoped that through the favor of the appearances of the power of God (i.e. kings ) the armaments of the world will be changed into peace, and corruption and con¬flict will vanish from among men.

The Sixth Glad Tidings is the Most Great Peace, the account of which hath been formerly revealed from the Supreme Pen. Joy unto whosoever adhereth thereto and practiceth that whereunto he is commanded on the part of God, the Knower, the Wise!

The Seventh Glad Tidings: Men are permitted to have their choice in the manner of attire, and in the cut of the beard and its dressing. But, beware, O people, not to make yourselves as playthings to the ignorant!

The Eighth Glad Tidings: The pious practices of the monks and priests among the people of His Holiness the Spirit (i.e. Christ) 128—upon Him is the peace of God and His glory!—are remembered before God; but, in this Day, they must abandon solitude for open places (i.e. the society of men), and engage in that which may profit both themselves and other men. We have conferred permission on them all to engage in matrimony, so that there may appear from them those (i.e. children) who may celebrate the praise of God, the Lord of the seen and unseen and the Lord of the Lofty Throne!

The Ninth Glad Tidings: The sinner, when in a state wherein he findeth himself free and severed from all else save God, must beg for (God’s) forgiveness and pardon. It is not allowable to declare one’s sins and transgressions before any man, inasmuch as this hath not been, nor is conducive to securing God’s forgiveness and pardon. At the same time such confession before the creatures leadeth to one’s humiliation and abasement, and God—exalted is His glory—doth not wish for the humiliation of His servants. Verily He is Compassionate and Beneficent!

A sinner must, (privately) between himself and God, beg for mercy from the Sea of Mercy and ask forgiveness from the Heaven of Beneficence, and then say:
O my God! O my God! I beg of Thee—by the blood of Thy lovers, who were so attracted by Thy sweet utterances that they betook themselves unto the lofty summit, the place of Great Martyrdom, and by the mysteries concealed in Thy knowledge, and by the pearls deposited in the sea of Thy bestowal—to forgive me, and my father and my mother. Verily Thou art the Most Merciful of the merciful! There is no God but Thee, the Forgiving, the Beneficent!
O my Lord! Thou beholdest the essence of error advancing toward the sea of Thy gift, and the weak one toward the kingdom of Thy power, and the poor one toward the sun of Thy wealth. O my Lord! Disappoint him not of Thy generosity and bounty; de-prive him not of the graces of Thy days, and turn him not away from Thy door which Thou hast opened before all in Thy heaven and earth.
Alas! Alas! My transgressions have prevented me from draw-ing nigh unto the court of Thy sanctity, and my trespasses have kept me afar from turning unto the tents of Thy glory. I have in-deed wrought that which Thou hast forbidden me; I have ne-glected that which Thou hast commanded me! I beg of Thee, by
the King of Names, to decree for me from the Pen of Grace and Bestowal that which will draw me near unto Thee and will purify me from my sins which have intervened between me and Thy for-giveness and pardon. Verily, Thou art the Powerful, the Bounte-ous! There is no God but Thee, the Mighty, the Gracious!

The Tenth Glad Tidings: We have removed from the epistles and tablets the decree of effacing the books (i.e. the books of other religions) 129  as a favor from the presence of God, the Sender of this Great Message!

The Eleventh Glad Tidings: To study sciences and arts of all descriptions is allowable; but such sciences as are profitable, which lead and conduce to the elevation of mankind. Thus hath the matter been decreed on the part of God, the Commander, the Wise!

The Twelfth Glad Tidings: It is made incumbent on every one of you to engage in some occupation, such as arts, trades, and the like. We have made this—your occupation—identical with the worship of God, the True One. Reflect, O people, upon the mercy of God and upon His favors, then thank Him in mornings and evenings.130  Waste not your time in idleness and indolence, and occupy yourselves with that which will profit yourselves and others beside you. Thus hath the matter been decreed in this tablet from the horizon of which the sun of wisdom and divine utterance is gleaming. The most despised of men before God is he who sits and begs. Cling unto the rope of means, relying upon God, the Causer of Causes. Every soul who occupieth himself in an art or trade—this will be accounted an act of worship before God. Verily this is from no other than His great and abundant favor!

The Thirteenth Glad Tidings: The affairs of the people are placed in the charge of the men (i.e. members) of the House of Justice of God. They are the trustees of God among His servants and the day- springs of command in His countries.

The Fourteenth Glad Tidings: To undertake journeys for the sake of visiting the tombs of the dead is not necessary. 131 132 133     If those who have means and wealth should give to the House of Justice the amount which would otherwise be expended on such journeys, this would be acceptable before God. Happy are those who practice.

The Fifteenth Glad Tidings: Although a republican form of government profiteth all the people of the world, yet the majesty of kingship is one of the signs of God. We do not wish that the countries of the world should be deprived thereof. If statesmen combine the two into one form [i.e. constitutional monarchy], their reward will be great before God.

Agreeable to the requirements of former times, the former religions confirmed and commanded religious warfare, prohibited association and intercourse with other peoples, and forbade the reading of certain books, but in this Most Great Manifestation and mighty message, favors and gifts of God have pervaded all, and the irrefutable command is revealed in that which already hath been mentioned from the horizon of the will of the Lord of Preexistence. We praise God—exalted and glorified is He!—for that which He hath revealed in this Day, the blessed, the mighty, the wonderful! Were all the people of the world each to possess a hundred thousand tongues and speak in (God’s) praise and glorification until the day which hath no end, verily all their thanks would not equal (what is due) even a single one of the favors mentioned in this epistle!—where unto testifieth every man of knowledge and discernment and every man of wisdom and understanding. I beg of God— exalted is His glory!—and entreat Him to enable the kings and sovereigns, who are dawning-places of power and day springs of might, to execute His precepts and commands.Verily, He is the Powerful, the Mighty, and Worthy to grant.

From Baha’u’llah’s Epistle to Naser al-Din Shah of Iran

O King of the earth, hear the voice of this servant. Verily I am a man who hath believed in God and His signs, and I have sacrificed myself in His way; to this do the afflictions wherein I am—the like of which none amongst mankind hath borne—testify, and my Lord the All- Knowing is the witness to what I say….

O King, verily I was as (any) one amongst mankind, slumbering upon my couch. The gales of the All-Glorious passed by me and taught me the knowledge of what hath been. This thing is not from me, but from One (who is) Mighty and All-Knowing. And He bade me proclaim betwixt the earth and the heaven, and for this hath there befallen me that whereat the eyes of those who know overflow with tears. I have not studied those sciences which men possess, nor have I entered the colleges; inquire of the city wherein I was, that thou mayest be assured that I am not of those who speak falsely. This is a leaf which the breezes of the will of thy Lord, the Mighty, the Exalted, have stirred. Can it be still when the rushing winds blow? No, by the Lord of the names and attributes!…

As to this sect, it is twenty years and more that they have been tormented by day and by night with the fierceness of the royal anger, and that they have been cast each one into a (different) land by the blasts of the tempests of the King’s wrath. How many children have been left fatherless! How many fathers have become childless! How many moth¬ers have not dared, through fear and dread, to mourn over their slaughtered children! Many (were) the servants (of God) who at eve were in the utmost wealth and opulence, and at dawn were beheld in the extreme of poverty and abasement! There is no land but hath been dyed
with their blood and no air where unto their groanings have not arisen. And during these few years the arrows of affliction have rained down without intermission from the clouds of fate. Yet, notwithstanding all these visitations and afflictions, the fire of divine love is in such fashion kindled in their hearts that, were they all to be hewn in pieces, they would not forswear the love of the Beloved of all the dwellers upon earth; nay rather with their whole souls do they yearn and hope for what may befall (them) in the way of God.

O King! The gales of the mercy of the Merciful One have converted these servants and drawn them to the region of the (Divine) Unity… but some of the doctors (of theology) of Persia have troubled the most luminous heart of the King of the Age [i.e. the Shah] with regard to those who are admitted into the Sanctuary of the Merciful One and those who make for the Ka‘baa 134  of Wisdom. O would that the world-ordering judgment of the King might decide that this servant should meet those doctors, and, in the presence of His Majesty the King, adduce arguments and proofs! This servant is ready, and hopeth of God that such a conference may be brought about, so that the truth of the matter may become evident and apparent before His Majesty the King. …

We ask God to sanctify the hearts of certain of the doctors from rancor and hatred, that they may regard things with eyes which closure overcometh not; and to raise them unto a station where the world and the leadership thereof shall not turn them aside from looking toward the Supreme Horizon, and where (anxiety for) gaining a livelihood and (providing) household goods shall not divert them from (the thought of) that day whereon the mountains shall be made like carpets.  135   Though they rejoice at that which hath befallen us of calamity, there shall come a day whereon they shall wail and weep. By my Lord, were I given the choice between the glory and opulence, the wealth and dignity, the ease and luxury wherein they are, and the distress and affliction wherein I am, I would certainly choose that wherein I am today, and I would not now exchange one atom of these afflictions for all that hath been created in the kingdom of production! [i.e. the material world].

We ask God to extend His shadow, that the Unitarians 136  may haste thereto, and that the sincere may take shelter therein; and to bestow on (these) servants flowers from the garden of His grace and stars from the horizon of His favors; and to assist him [i.e. the Shah] in that which he liketh and approveth; and to help him unto that which shall bring him near to the Dayspring of His Most Comely Names, that he may not shut his eyes to the wrong which he seeth, but may regard his subjects with the eye of favor and preserve them from violence. And we ask Him—exalted is He—to make thee a helper unto His religion and a regarder of His justice, that thou mayest rule over (His) servants as thou rulest over those of thy kindred, and mayest choose for them what thou wouldst choose for thyself.
Verily He is the Potent, the Exalted, the Protecting, the Self-Subsistent.

From Baha’u’llah’s Epistle to Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom

O Queen in London: Hear the voice of thy Lord, the King of (all) creatures from the Divine Lote-Tree that “There is no God but Me, the Precious, the Wise.” Lay aside what is on the earth; then adorn the head of dominion with the diadem of thy glorious Lord; verily He hath come into the world with His Most Great Glory, and that which was mentioned in the Gospel hath been fulfilled. The land of Syria hath been honored by the advance of its Lord, the King of men, and the exhilaration of the wine of union hath seized upon the regions of the South and North: Blessed is he who discovereth the scent of the Merciful (i.e.God), and advanceth to the Dawning-place of Beauty in this clear morning. …

It hath reached us that thou hast forbidden the selling of slaves and handmaidens: This is what God hath commanded in this marvelous Manifestation. God hath recorded unto thee the reward of this; verily He is the Discharger of the rewards of the well-doers….

And we have heard that thou hast entrusted the reins of deliberation into the hands of the Commonwealth. Thou hast done well, for thereby the bases of the edifices of (all) affairs are made firm, and the hearts of those who are under thy shadow (i.e. protection), both of the high and low, are made tranquil. But it behooveth them [i.e. the members of parliaments] to be (as) trustees amongst the servants (of God), and to regard themselves as guardians over whosoever is in all the earth…. And when any one [of them] turneth towards the [parliamentary] assembly, let him turn his glance to the Supreme Horizon, and say, “O God: I ask thee by Thy Most Splendid Name to assist me unto that whereby the affairs of Thy servants may prosper, and Thy countries may flourish; verily Thou art powerful over all things.” Blessed is he who entereth the assembly in the regard of God, and judgeth betwixt men with pure justice; is he not of those who prosper?

O ye leaders of assemblies, whether there [in England] or in some other country, think of results and speak of that whereby the world and its conditions may be reformed; were ye of those who deliberate. And look on the world as the body of a man who was created sound and whole, but diseases have attacked him from various and diverse causes, and his soul is not at ease for a day, but rather his sickness increaseth, in that he hath fallen under the control of unskillful physicians who are hurried away by vain desires, and are of those who stray madly. And if one limb of his limbs become sound in one age of the ages through a skillful Physician, the other limbs remain as they were: thus doth the Wise and Knowing One inform you…. And that which God hath made the most mighty remedy and the most complete means for its health is the union of whosoever is upon the earth in a single matter, and a single law. This can never be possible except through a skillful Physician, perfect and strengthened (by God). By my life! this is the truth, and aught else is nothing but evident error.

From Baha’u’liah’s Second Epistle to Napoleon III, King of France

O King of Paris! Tell the priest not to ring the bells. By God, the True One! the Most Glorious Bell hath appeared on the Temple of the Most Great Name, and the fingers of the will of thy Lord, the High, the Supreme, ring it in the World of Eternal Power, through His Most Splendid Name. Thus have the most mighty signs of thy Lord descended once more, that thou mayest arise to commemorate God, the Creator of the earth and the heaven… The Unconstrained hath come in the shadow of lights to vivify the beings by the fragrance of His merciful Name, to unite the people and bring them together at this Table which hath descended from heaven.

Beware not to deny the grace of God after its descent. This is better for you than that which ye have, because what ye have will vanish and that on the part of God will endure. Verily, He is the Ruler over that which He pleaseth….

We have sent one whom We have strengthened with the Holy Spirit, that he may give you tidings of this Light which hath shone forth from the horizon of the will of your Lord, the Exalted, the Most Splendid, and whose effects have appeared in the West, that ye may turn unto Him in this day…

Arise amongst the servants (of God) in My Name and say, “O people of the earth, advance toward Him, who hath advanced toward you, for verily He is the Face of God amongst you, and His evidence in your midst, and His proof unto you.”…

This is that whereof the Spirit [Christ] gave you tidings when He brought the truth, and the Jewish doctors opposed Him, until they committed that whereat the Holy Spirit lamented and those who are near to God wept. …

Say: O concourse of monks! Do not withdraw yourselves in churches and sanctuaries; come forth (thence) by my permission, then occupy yourselves with that whereby your souls shall be profited, and the souls of mankind…. He who cleaveth to the house [i.e. the monastery or church] is indeed as one dead! It is meet for man that he should produce that whereby (other) beings shall profit; and he who hath no fruit is fit for the fire..

Verily, O King, we heard from thee a word which thou didst speak when the King of Russia asked of thee concerning what was settled as to the order of war; verily thy Lord is Wise and Informed. Thou didst say, “I was asleep in my bed (when) the cry of the servants (of God) who were wronged, even till they were drowned in the Black Sea, awoke me.” Thus did we hear, and God is the Witness of what I say. Thou canst witness that it was not (their) cry, but (thine own) lust (of war) which awoke thee, inasmuch as we tried thee and found thee afar off…. Hadst thou been the speaker of that speech, thou wouldst not have cast the book of God behind thy back when it was sent unto thee on the part of one Mighty and Wise.137  Verily we tried thee therewith, and did not find thee in that state whereto thou didst pretend; arise and make reparation for what hath passed away from thee. The world shall perish, and what thou hast, and the Kingdom remain to God, thy Lord, and the Lord of thy fathers who were of yore….

Because of what thou hast done, affairs shall be changed in thy kingdom, and empire shall depart from thine hands, as a punishment for thine action; then shalt thou find thyself in manifest loss, and com¬motion shall seize the people there, unless thou arisest to assist in this matter and followest the Spirit in this straight path.

Thy glory hath made thee proud: By my life! Verily it shall not endure, but shall pass away, unless thou takest hold of this firm rope. We have seen humiliation hastening after thee, while thou art of those that sleep.

Epistle to King William I, German Emperor  138

O King of Berlin! Hearken to the call issued from this Manifest Temple, that there is no God but Me, the Eternal, the Incomparable, the Ancient.

Let not self-conceit bar thee from the Dawning-Place of Appearance, or self-desire veil thee from the Ruler of the [heavenly] Throne and the earth. Thus the Supreme Pen admonisheth thee. Verily, He is the Clement, the Generous.

Remember him who was greater than thee in influence and station [i.e. Napoleon III]: Where is he, and where are his possessions? 139  Awake, and be not of those who are asleep.
He cast the tablet of God behind his back when we informed him what hath befallen us from the hosts of tyranny. Thereupon, he was taken by humiliation from all directions until he returned unto earth with great loss.

O King! Think of him and of those who were like unto thee, who conquered countries and ruled over the creatures; how God made them descend from palaces unto tombs. 140  Be admonished and of those who remember.

Epistle to the Kings and Presidents of America  141

O Kings of America 142  and the Presidents of Republics therein! Hear ye the chanting of the Great Spirit (Varqa, [“Dove”]) on the Eternal Branch, that there is no God but He, the Everlasting, the Forgiver, the Generous.

Adorn the body of the government with the ornament of justice and piety, and its head with the crown of glorifying your God, the Creator of Heaven. Thus the Dawning-Place of Names commandeth you on the part of the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.

The Promised One hath appeared in the Glorified Station through whom the face of the visible and the invisible existence hath smiled. Avail yourselves of the Day of God. Verily to meet with Him is better for you than all that upon which the sun shineth, were ye of those who know.

From Baha’u’llah’s Epistle to Pope Pius EX

O Pope! Rend asunder the veil!  143 The Lord of Lords hath come in the shadow of clouds, and the matter hath been decided on the part of God, the Powerful, the Unconstrained.

Disclose the (divine) splendors by the authority of thy Lord; then ascend into the Kingdom of Names and Attributes: thus doth the Supreme Pen command thee on the part of thy Lord, the Mighty, the Controller. Verily He hath come from heaven another time, as He came from it the first time; 144  beware lest ye oppose Him as the Pharisees op¬posed Him without evidence or proof. On His right side floweth the River of Grace, and on His left side the sweet Water of Justice; before Him go the angels of Paradise with the standards of signs.

Beware lest names withhold you from God, the Maker of the earth and the heavens; leave the creatures behind thee, then advance to thy Lord by whom all horizons were illuminated. We have adorned the Kingdom by our name, Al-Abha (The Most Glorious); thus hath the matter been decided on the part of God, the Creator of all things…

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Dost thou dwell in palaces, while the King of the Manifestation is in the most ruined of abodes (Akka)? Leave palaces to those who desire them, then advance to the Kingdom with spirituality and fragrance….

The breath of God is diffused throughout the world, because the Desired One hath come in His Most Great Glory. Lo! every stone and clod crieth, “The Promised One hath appeared, and the Kingdom is to God, the Powerful, the Mighty, the Pardoning.” Beware lest theology prevent thee from the King of what is known, or the world from Him who created it and left it. Arise in the name of thy Lord the Merciful amidst the assembly of beings, and take the Cup of Life in the hand of assurance; drink therefrom, or not; then give to drink to those who advance of the people of (different) religions….

Remember when the Spirit came; he who was the most learned of the doctors of his age [i.e. the Jewish High Priest Caiaphas] gave sentence against Him in his city, while those who caught fish believed in Him. Be admonished, then, O people of understanding! … And when We come unto you another time We see you fleeing from us; therefore doth the eye of My compassion weep over my people. Fear God, O ye who are in expectation.

Look at those who objected to the Son [of God] when He came unto them with dominion and power; how many Pharisees were awaiting His meeting and making humble supplications to God for His appearance; but when the fragrance of union diffused itself and perfection was disclosed, they turned from Him and objected to Him… Look likewise at this time. How many monies seclude themselves in churches in My Name; and when the appointed time was completed, and We disclosed to them perfection, they did not know Me;—after that they [still] call upon Me at eventide and at dawn [in their prayers]. We see them veiled from Myself by My Name (Jesus Christ)….

Do ye read the Gospel, and (still) do not flee to the Glorious Lord? This beseemeth you not, O concourse of learned ones! … The Word which the Most Faithful wrote hath appeared: It hath indeed descended into the form of man in this time.25 Blessed is the Lord, who is the Father: He hath come with His most mighty power amongst the nations; turn towards Him, O concourse of the good!… Lo, the Father hath come, and that which hath been promised unto you in the Kingdom is accomplished; this is a Word which was concealed behind the veil of might, and when the promised (time) came, it shone forth from the horizon of the (Divine) Will with manifest signs.

My body was imprisoned to set you free, and We accepted humiliation for the sake of your glory; follow the Lord, the Lord of Glory and the Kingdom, and follow not every proud infidel. My body longeth for the Cross, and my head for the spear in the way of the Merciful One (i.e. God), that the world may be purified from sin… The people of the Furqan 145 (i.e. Muhammadans) have arisen, and tormented me with torments whereat the Holy Spirit crieth out; and the thunder roars, and the eyes of the clouds weep because of the unbelievers.

Whosoever imagineth that calamity will hinder Baha from that which God, the Creator of (all) things, willeth, say (unto him), No! by the descent of the rains, nothing shall prevent him from the mention of his Lord. By God the Truth! even though they burn him on the earth, verily he will lift up his head in the midst of the sea, and will cry “Unto God indeed belongeth whosoever is in the heavens and the earth.” And even though they cast him into a dark pit, they shall find him on the summits of the mountains, crying “The Desired One hath come by the authority of Might and Sovereignty.” And though they bury him in the earth, he will arise from the horizons of heaven, and will speak with the loudest voice, “Baha hath come to the Kingdom of God, the Holy, the Mighty, the Unconstrained.” And though they shed his blood, every drop thereof shall cry out and call upon God by this Name whereby the perfumes of the Garment are diffused through (all) regions….

O people of the Son [i.e. Christians]! We have sent unto you John (the Baptist) another time [as the Bab]. Verily he crieth in the wilderness of the Bayan, “O creation of beings! Make clear your eyes! The day of vision and meeting hath come nigh. Prepare then the way, O people of the Gospel. The day wherein shall come the Lord of Glory hath come nigh; prepare to enter into the Kingdom.”146  Thus was the matter decreed on the part of God, the Cleaver of the Dawn….

This is indeed the Father, whereof Isaiah gave you tidings,147  and the Comforter whom the Spirit (i.e. Christ) promised.  148... Hasten unto Him and follow not every denying infidel. And if the eye of any one oppose him in this, it behooveth him to pluck it out; and if his tongue oppose him, it behooveth him to cut it out.149  Thus was it written by the Pen of Eternity on the part of the King of Contingent Being; verily He hath come another time for your deliverance, O people of creation. … The Glorious One crieth continuously from the horizon of the Pavilion of Might and Greatness, and saith, “O people of the Gospel! He hath come into the Kingdom who was out of it; and today we see you standing at the gate. Rend the veils by the power of your Lord, the Mighty, the Munificent, and then enter into My Kingdom in My Name.” Thus doth He command you who desireth for you enduring life; verily He is powerful over all things.

Blessed are those who have known the Light, and have hastened towards it! Behold, they are in the Kingdom; they eat and drink with the elect. And [yet] we see you, O children of the Kingdom, in darkness; this is not meet for you. Do ye fear to meet the Light because of your deeds? Advance thereto…. Verily He said, “Come, that I may make you fishers of men;”150  and today We say, “Come, that we may make you vivifiers of the world.” Thus was the decree ordained in a tablet written by the Pen of Command.

“Words of Wisdom”151  Revealed by Baha’u’llah

In the name of God, the Exalted, the Most High.
The essence of all good is trust in God, obedience unto His command, and contentment with His pleasure.
The essence of wisdom is apprehension of God, the dread of His power and judgment, and the fear of the appearance of His justice and punishment.
The essence of religion is to testify unto that which hath been revealed from God and follow that which hath been ordained in His mighty Book.
The essence of glory is the contentment of man with what hath been bestowed on him and satisfaction with that which hath been ordained for him.
The essence of love is for man to turn to the Beloved One, and detach himself from all else but Him, and desire naught save that which is the desire of his Lord.
The source of recollection is to make mention of the Remembered One and forget all else beside Him.
The essence of reliance is for the servant [of God] to pursue his profession and calling in this world, to hold fast unto the Lord, to seek naught but His grace, for in His hands lieth the destiny of the servant in his transformation and future abode.
The essence of detachment is for man to turn his face towards the Lord, to enter His presence, behold His countenance and stand as witness before Him.
The essence of creation is to testify to one’s poverty and submit to the will of the Lord, the Sovereign, the Gracious, the Chosen.
The essence of benevolence is for the servant to recount the blessings of His Lord, and render thanks unto Him under all conditions and at all times.
The source of wealth is love for me; with my love all beings can dispense with everything and without my love everything is wanting for everything. Verily this is that which hath been written by the mighty and luminous Pen.
The essence of faith is scarcity of words and abundance in deeds; he whose words exceed his deeds is better dead than alive.
The essence of health is silence and looking forward to results and living in seclusion.
The origin of determination is in spending on one’s self, on his family and the poor brothers in faith.
The source of power and courage is the promotion of the word of God, and steadfastness in His love.
The source of all evil is for man to turn away from his Lord and look forward to his own desires.
The origin of the burning fire is to question the revelations of God, dispute what hath been revealed from Him, turn away from Him, and show pride before Him.
The source of all learning is the knowledge of God, exalted be His Glory, and this cannot be achieved save through the knowledge of His Manifestation.
The source of humiliation is to pass by the shadow of the Merciful and seek shelter in the shadow of the evil one.
The source of impiety is disbelieving in the One God, reliance on aught else beside Him and fleeing from His decree.
The origin of all that we have revealed is justice, and that is for man to free himself from fancy and imitation, look forward unto the appearances of creation with the sight of Oneness and see with a searching eye into all matters.
Real loss is to him who spent his days not knowing himself; thus we have taught thee the Words of Wisdom, that thou mayest thank in thyself God thy Lord and glory therein amongst the people of the world.

The Surah of the Branch 152 Revealed in truth from the heaven of the will of our Lord, the Merciful, the Compassionate.

He is eternal in My Most Glorious (Abha) Horizon!

Verily the cause of God hath come upon the clouds of utterances, and the polytheists are in this day in great torment. Verily the hosts of revelation have descended with banners of inspiration from the Heaven of the Tablets in the name of God, the All-Powerful, the Almighty! Then the monotheists rejoice in the victory of God and His Dominion, and the deniers will then be in great perplexity.

O ye people! Do you flee from the mercy of God after it hath en-compassed the existent things created between the heavens and earths? Do not alter the mercy of God upon you, and deprive not yourselves thereof; and whosoever turneth away therefrom will be in great loss. Verily, mercy is like unto the verses which have descended from the One Heaven [i.e. closest to God’s abode] and from them the monotheists are given to drink the wine of life, whilst the polytheists drink from the fiery water.153  And when the verses of God are read unto them, the fire of hatred is enkindled within their hearts. Thus have they averted the mercy of God from themselves and are of those who are ignorant.

Enter, O people, beneath the shelter of the Word, then drink there-from the choice wine of inner significance and elucidation, for therein is the Chalice of the Glorious One (God), and it hath appeared from the horizon of the will of your Lord, the Merciful, with wonderful lights.

Say: Verily, the sea of Preexistence hath branched forth from this Greatest Ocean. Blessed is he who abideth upon its shore, and is of those who are residing thereon. Verily, this Sacred Temple of Abha, the Branch of Holiness (i.e. Baha’u’llah Himself) hath branched forth from the Sadratu’l-Muntaha (the Lote-Tree).154  Blessed is whosoever sought shelter beneath it and was of those who rest therein. Say: Verily, the Branch of the Cause hath sprung forth from this Root which God hath firmly planted in the Land of the Will,155  and the Limb of which hath ascended to a station which encompasseth all the existence.156  157

Therefore, exalted be He for this Creation, the Lofty, the Blessed, the Powerful, the Inaccessible.

O ye people! Draw nigh unto Him (i.e. the Branch, Baha’u’llah Himself) and taste therefrom the fruits of wisdom and knowledge on the part of the All-Powerful, the All-Knowing. And whosoever hath not tasted therefrom shall be deprived of the mercy of God, even though he hath partaken of all that is in the earth, were ye of those who know.

Say: Verily a Word hath been separated from the Greatest Tablet (i.e. God Himself) as a favor, and God hath adorned it with the Mantle of Himself and made it Sovereign over all in the earth and a sign of His grandeur and power among the creatures; that the people shall praise, through it, their Lord, the Almighty, the Powerful, the Wise; and that they shall glorify, through it, their Creator, and sanctify the Self of God that governeth all things. Verily, this is naught but a revelation on the part of the All-Knowing, the Ancient One.

Say, O people, praise God for His Manifestation, for verily He is the Greatest Favor upon you and the Most Perfect Blessing upon you, and through Him every decayed bone is enlivened. Whosoever tumeth unto Him (i.e. the Manifestation Baha’u’llah) hath surely turned unto God; and whosoever turneth away from Him hath turned away from My Beauty, hath denied My Proof and is of those who transgress.

Verily, He is the Trust of God amongst you and His Charge with you, and His Manifestation unto you and His Appearance among the servants who are nigh. Thus have I been commanded to convey to you the message of God, your Creator, and I have delivered to you that which I was commanded, whereupon God testifieth thereunto, then His angels and His Messengers, and then His holy servants.

Inhale the fragrance of the Rizwarv18 (i.e. Paradise) from His Roses and be not of those who are deprived. Avail yourselves of the grace of God upon you and be not veiled therefrom, and verily, We have sent Him forth in the temple (i.e. form) of man; praise be unto the Lord, the Creator of whatsoever He wisheth through His command, the Inviolate, the Wise.

Verily, those who withhold themselves from the shelter of the Branch (i.e. Baha’u’Ilah Himself) are lost in the wilderness and are consumed by the fire of self-desire and were of those who perish.

Hasten, O people, unto the Shelter of God, that He may protect you from the heat of the Day [i.e. the Day of Judgment] whereon none shall find for himself any shelter or refuge save beneath the shelter of His name, the Forgiver, the Merciful. Clothe yourselves, O people, with the garment of certainty in order that He may protect you from the dart of imaginations and superstitions, and that ye may be of those who are assured in those days wherein none shall be firmly established in the Cause except by severing himself from all that is in the hands of the people and turning unto the Holy and Radiant Appearance.

O people! Do ye take the Jibt as a helper unto yourselves other than God, and do ye take the Taghut 158 as a Lord besides your Lord, the Almighty, the Omnipotent?  Forsake, O people, their mention, and then take the Chalice of Life in the name of your Lord, the Merciful; verily, by God, through a drop thereof the universe is animated, were ye of those who know.

Say: In this day there is no refuge for anyone save in the Cause of God, and no retreat for any soul save in God. Verily this is the truth and there is naught after truth but manifest error.

Verily, God hath made it incumbent upon every soul to preach His Cause according to his means. Thus hath the command been ordained by the Fingers of Might and Power upon the tablets of majesty and greatness.

And whosoever enlivens a soul in this Cause is like unto one who hath enlivened all the people, and God shall send him forth on the Day of Resurrection in the Paradise of Oneness in the garment of Himself, the All-Protector, the Almighty, the Generous. Verily this will be your assistance to your Lord, and naught else shall ever be mentioned in this Day before God, your Lord and the Lord of your forefathers.

And thou, O servant, hearken unto that by which We admonished thee in the tablet,159  160    then seek thou the grace of your Lord at all times. Then spread the tablet among those who have believed in God and His verses, that they may follow that which is contained therein and be of those who are praiseworthy.

Say: O people! Cause no corruption in the earth and dispute not with the people, for verily, this hath not been worthy of those who have chosen in the shelter of their Lord a station which hath been secure in truth.

And if ye find one athirst, give him to drink from the Chalice of Kawthar and Tasnim and if ye find one endowed with an attentive ear, read unto him the verses of God, the All-Powerful, the Almighty, the Merciful. Unloose the tongue with good utterance, then remind the people if ye find them advancing unto the sanctuary of God; otherwise leave them to themselves, then forsake them in the abyss of hell. Beware lest ye scatter the pearls of inner significance before every barren, blind one. For verily, the blind is deprived of beholding the lights and is unable to differentiate between the stone and the Holy Precious Stone.

Verily, wert thou to read to the stone for a thousand years the new and dear verses, will it understand in itself or will they take any effect therein? Nay! by thy Lord, the Merciful, the Compassionate. And if thou readest all the verses unto the deaf, will he hear a word thereof? Nay! by My Beauty, the Powerful, the Ancient. Thus have We delivered unto thee of the jewels of wisdom and elucidation, that thou mayest be gazing unto the direction of thy Lord and be severed from all the creatures.

May the Spirit rest upon thee and upon those who have dwelt in the abode of Holiness and were in manifest steadfastness in the Cause of their Lord.

The Book of My Covenant  161  (The Will of Baha’u’llah)

Although the Supreme Horizon is devoid of the vanities of the world, yet in the treasury of trust and resignation We have placed a priceless and unequaled inheritance for the heirs. We have not placed (therein) a treasure, neither have We added to the pain.

By God! In wealth fear is concealed and peril is hidden. Behold and then reflect upon that which the Merciful One hath revealed in the Qur’an: “Woe unto every maligner and backbiter who heapeth up riches and counteth them over.” 162  There is no continuance in the riches of the world. That which is subject to mortality and undergoeth a change hath never been and is not worth regarding. But as is well known, the purpose of this Oppressed One in enduring these adversities and calamities, the revelation of the verses and the manifestation of the proofs [of prophethood], hath been to quench the fire of hatred and animosity, so that perchance the horizon of the minds of the people of this world may shine with the light of concord and attain the real tranquility. The sun of this explanation is shining and arising from the horizon of the divine tablet; all must look toward it.

O people of the world! I enjoin you to that which is the means of the elevation of your station. Hold to the virtue of God and grasp the hem of that which is just. Verily I say, the tongue is for mentioning that which is good; pollute it not with evil speech. God hath forgiven you that which is past; hereafter ye must all speak that which is befitting. Avoid execration, reviling, and that which is aggravating to man.

The station of man is high. A short while since, this exalted word was revealed from the repository of the Pen of Abha: “This is a great and blessed Day, but that which hath been hidden in man is and shall be disclosed (in this Day).” The station of man is great if he holdeth to reality and truth, and if he be firm and steadfast in the [divine] commands. The true man appeareth before the Merciful One like unto the heavens: his sight and hearing are the sun and moon, his bright and shining qualities are the stars; his station is the highest one; his traces are the educators of the existence. Every believer who hath found the perfume of the Garment [i.e. the Manifestation of God] in this Day and turneth with a pure heart toward the Supreme Horizon, he is mentioned as one of the followers of Baha upon the Red Page [i.e. in the Book of Life].

Take the Chalice of My Favor in My name; then drink from it to My remembrance, the Dearest, the New.

O people of the world! The creed of God is for love and union; make it not the cause of discord and disunion. In the sight of the men of discernment and those who are holding to the Manifestation, that which is the means of preservation and the cause of the ease and tranquility of the servants [of God] is revealed from the Supreme Pen; but the ignorant of the earth who are fostered in ambition and lust are heedless of the matured wisdom of the True Wise One and are speaking and worldng in imaginations and fancies.

O saints of God and His loyal ones! Kings are the appearances of power and the day springs of the might and wealth of the True One. Pray in their behalf, for the government of the earth is ordained to those souls; but the hearts He hath appointed for Himself.

He hath forbidden dispute and strife with an absolute prohibition in the Book. This is the command of God in this Greatest Manifestation, and He hath preserved it from any order of annulment and hath adorned it with the ornament of confirmation. Verily, He is the All- Knowing, the All-Wise.
It is incumbent upon all to aid those souls who are the day springs of authority and the dawning-points of command, and who are adorned with the ornament of equity and justice. Blessing be upon the princes and learned ones in Baha. These are My trusted ones amongst My servants; these are the rising-points of My commandments amongst My creatures. Upon them be My glory, My mercy, and My grace which have surrounded all existence.

It is revealed in the Kitab-i-Aqdas concerning this, that which from the horizons of its words the light of the divine bounties gleam, rise, and glitter.

O    My Branches (i.e. sons)! In this existence the greatest strength and the most perfect power is hidden and concealed; look towards it and gaze in the direction of its union and not in seeming differences. This is the Testament of God, that the Branches (Aghsan), Twigs (Afnan 163  ), and relations (muntasibm) must each and every one look to the Greatest Branch (Ghusn-i-A‘zam) [i.e. Abbas Effendi]. Reflect upon that which is revealed in My Book, the Aqdas: “When the Ocean of My Presence hath disappeared and the Book of Origin is achieved to the end, turn your faces towards him whom God hath purposed, who hath branched from this PreExistent Root.” 164 The aim of this blessed verse hath been the Greatest Branch. We have likewise elucidated the command as a favor from before Us; and I am the Generous, the All-Dispensing.

Verily God hath ordained the station of the Mightiest Branch (Ghusn-i-Akbar) [i.e. Mohammed Ali Effendi] after the station of the former. Verily, He is the Ordainer, the Wise. We have surely chosen the Mightiest (Akbar) after the Greatest (.A’zam) as a command from the All-Knowing, the Omniscient.

The love of the Branches is incumbent upon all, but God hath not ordained to any of them any right from the properties of the people.

O My Branches, My Twigs, and My relations! We enjoin you to the virtues of God, to follow that which is just and beneficial, and that by which your station will be exalted. Truly I say, piety is the greatest commander for the assistance of the divine religion, and the hosts that befit this commander have been and are good, pure, and pleasing qualities and deeds.
Say: O servants, make not the cause of order to be the cause of con-fusion, and make not the reason of union to be the occasion of discord! It is hoped that the people of Baha will look towards the blessed word, “Say: All are from the presence of God”; and this exalted word is like unto water for extinguishing the fire of hatred and animosity which is deposited in all minds and hearts. The different creeds will attain the light of real union through this simple word. Verily, He speaketh the truth and guideth in the path, and He is the Merciful, the Mighty, and the Wonderful!

Respect and regard for the Branches is incumbent upon all for the honoring of the Cause and the exaltation of the Word; and this command hath been both previously and again recorded and mentioned in the books of God. Blessed is he who attaineth that which hath been commanded from the presence of the Commander, the Pre-Existent.

Also respect is (enjoined) for the ladies of the household of God, and the Twigs and the relations. I enjoin you to the service of the nations and the pacification of the world.

From the Kingdom of the revelation of the aim of the people of the world is revealed that which is the cause of the life of the world and the salvation of the nations. Hearken to the admonitions of the Supreme Pen with a true ear. Verily they are better unto you than all that which is upon earth. To this beareth witness My Book, the Mighty, the Wonderful.

121.More commonly known as the “Tablet of the Branch.”
122.Called the “Book of the Covenant” in the mainstream Baha’i tradition.

123.Published in The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ire¬land, Volume 21 (London: W. H. Allen & Co., 1889), pp. 881-1009.

124.Lawh-i-Bisharat.
125.Arabic al-Abha, meaning “The Most Glorious.” This title is the superlative of Baha, “Glory,” and refers to the Manifestation of God as revealed through Baha’u’llah.

126.A river in Paradise, mentioned in the Qur’an.
127.In the Islamic and Baha’i traditions, the “Mother Book” or “Mother of the Book” (umm al-kitab), also called the “Preserved Tablet” (al-lawh al-mahfuz) is envisioned as a heavenly book which is the source of all revelation, from which the scriptures of earth are derived. The “Supreme Pen” (al-qalam al- a’la), i.e. God in the role of revealer of truth to humanity, is believed to transmit the messages from this transcendent divine book through a revelatory agent, i.e. a prophet or Manifestation. In some mystical traditions of Islam which influenced the Baha’i faith, the Pen is seen in much the same way as Christians see Christ as the pre existent “Word” or Logos, through whom all things have been created.

128. In Islam Jesus is often referred to by the title Ruh -Ullah ( “Spirit of God” )

129.Islam traditionally viewed non-Abrahamic religions as pagan idolatry, and commanded that all idols be destroyed. Similar to Baha’u’llah’s abrogation of the doctrine of holy war in the First Glad Tidings, here he appears to be instructing his followers to practice religious tolerance by respecting the scriptures of all faiths.

130.Baha’u’llah may be suggesting that people should limit their prayers and reserve most of the day for work, rather than praying throughout the day. Islam mandates prayer at least five times a day for all Muslims, including twice during the middle of the workday.

131.This parenthetical note may indicate that Shua Ullah Behai believed that Baha’u’llah’s use of the word “men” in regard to the House of Justice was gen¬der-inclusive, rather than intended to limit the membership of that institution to men only. Had he agreed with the mainstream Baha’i interpretation that prohibits women from serving on the Universal House of Justice, he likely would have seen no need to clarify the word “men” in the original text.
132.The Thirteenth Glad Tidings is virtually identical to the Eighth Ishraq in the Tablet of Ishraqat. The text redacted here is quoted in full in the “Universal Tribunal” section of Chapter 4.
133.Making pilgrimages to the tombs of Imams and other revered spiritual leaders was a common practice among Muslims at the time when Baha’u’llah was writing, especially in the Shi’ite tradition.

134.Used here metaphorically, the Kaaba (al-Ka‘ba) is the shrine in Mecca to-ward which all Muslims pray, and to which they make pilgrimage (Hajj).
135.The day of the advent of the Messiah and the Kingdom of God. Cf. Isaiah 40:4-5, Luke 3:5-6.

136.Monotheists or believers in the oneness of God. Among Muslims, unitarianism is regarded as the central tenet of faith, as opposed to polytheism or idolatry, which is regarded as the greatest sin. Baha’uilah’s allusion here to the concept of unitarianism may have been intended to imply that the materialism of the clergy was a form of idolatry, preventing them from renouncing worldly comfort and position in the path of faith as Baha’u’llah had done.

137.A previous tablet sent by Baha’u’llah to Napoleon III.
138.Kitab-i-Aqdas (“Most Holy Book”), paragraph 86.

139.As Baha’uilah predicted, Napoleon III fell from kingship and the Second French Empire came to an end. Following his catastrophic defeat at the hands of William I in the Franco-Prussian War, the ousted French monarch died in exile in England in 1873.

140.Only a few paragraphs later in the Kitab-i-Aqdas, Baha’u’llah again addresses Germany: “O banks of the Rhine! We have seen you covered with gore, inas¬much as the swords of retribution were drawn against you; and you shall have another turn. And We hear the lamentations of Berlin, though she be today in conspicuous glory.” (paragraph 90). Baha’is interpret this as a prophecy of Ger¬many’s defeat in the two World Wars.

 141.Kitab-i-Aqdas (“Most Holy Book”), paragraph 88.

 142.At the time when Baha’u’llah was writing, some Central and South American countries had not yet gained their independence from European monarchies such as Spain. Furthermore, in North America, Canada was in the process of redefining its relationship with the United Kingdom, and became a “dominion” or self-governing colony within the British Commonwealth, under the sovereignty of the crown.

143.This may bean allusion to Matthew 27:50-51. The veil or curtain in the Jewish Temple hid the Holy of Holies, the innermost sanctuary which contained the Ark of the Covenant, from sight of the people. Only the High Priest was ever allowed to pass beyond the veil, once a year on the Day of Atonement, thus entering into God’s presence. According to the Gospel, the Temple veil ripped apart at the moment when Jesus died and his spirit left his body.
144.Cf. John 3:13.

145.Arabic al-Furqan, “the standard” (for distinguishing between good and evil). This is a term used in Islam to refer to the Qur’an.

146.Cf. Matthew 3:1-3.

147.Isaiah 9:6.
148.John 15:26.
149.Cf. Matthew 5:29.
150.Matthew 4:19.
151.Asl-i-Kullui-Khayr.

152.Suriy-i-Ghusn or Surat al-Ghusn.

153.Cf. Qur’an 47:15.
154.Also spelled Sidrat al-Muntaha, the “Lote Tree of the Limit” is a metaphor in Islam for the boundary in heaven beyond which no one in creation can pass, reserved for God alone. According to Islamic tradition, the Prophet Muhammad traveled to this uttermost limit in the “Night Journey” (known as al-Isra and al-Mi’raj), avisionary experience, and there received revelation from God. Baha’u’llah uses the term Sadratu’l-Muntaha in his writings to refer to the Manifestation of God in his preexistent and eternal divine station, with which the human personalities known as “Messengers” or “Manifestations” of God are identified as they speak and act as God’s representatives on earth.
 

155.The “Land of the Will” may be a reference or allusion to the realm of Lahut, which in Baha’i cosmology is the highest place before reaching God’s own un¬reachable Essence (Hahut). It is the realm of the preexistent Word of God, the Supreme Pen, and the Lote Tree of the Limit—all of which are metaphors for the same basic concept: the first and highest emanation of God. Lahut is often translated as “Heaven/Kingdom of Command,” “All-Glorious Horizon,” and “Heavenly Court.”

156.Baha’u’llah likens himself to a “Branch” or “Limb” on the Divine Lote Tree, i.e. a specific instance of the Manifestation of God reaching out through the appendage of a particular human appearance. This metaphor also calls to mind the Biblical prophecy of the Messiah as “a shoot” that “shall come out from the stump of Jesse, a Branch [that] shall grow out of his roots” (Isaiah na), i.e. an-other branch of the Davidic Kingship of God’s anointed ones.
 157.Also spelled Ridvan.

158.Jibt and Taghut are idols mentioned in the Qur’an (4:51-52). Jibt was a literal idol. Taghut refers more generally to the arrogant, and to evil, Satan, and false-hood. Baha’u’llah’s point seems to be that his followers should not turn to any-one else besides himself for spiritual guidance.

159.This appears to be addressed to the specific recipient of the document, Mirza ‘Ali Rida Mustawfi. Baha’ullah may be referring to a previous tablet sent to the same recipient, or to the Surah of the Branch itself.
160.Like Kawthar, Tasnim is a Quranic term for a source of holy water in Paradise.

161.Kitab-i-‘Ahdi, or Kitab-i-Ahd in the mainstream Baha’i tradition.
162.Qur’an 104:1-2.

163.Relatives of the Bab.
164.Kitab-i-Aqdas (“Most Holy Book”), paragraph 121.

Stories of Baha’i Martyrs – Compiled by Shua Ullah Behai

Baha'u'llah 's Family

This chapter is a compilation of stories of some of the most significant martyrs of the Baha’i faith in the late 1800s and the brutal persecution suffered by Baha’is, especially in Iran, during that period. All of these accounts were originally published by the British Orientalist Edward Granville Browne, a professor at Cambridge University, in two of his books about the Babi and Baha’i religions. Prof. Browne is generally regarded as the most important Western scholar of these new Middle Eastern faiths in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Baha'i Martyrs
Prof. Edward Granville Browne in Middle Eastern garb.
Baha'i Martyrs 1
(L to R): Sayyid Hasan and Sayyid Husayn, Baha’i martyrs.

The four stories reproduced here—three from Persia and one from the Russian Empire—were selected by Shua Ullah Behai for inclusion in his book manuscript, appearing in a chapter called “Baha Ullah.” I have divided the text of the first three sections into smaller paragraphs for ease of reading.
Note that in these historical accounts, the term Babis is used to refer to Baha’is, since Baha’ism was still usually considered a sect of Bab- ism at the time of the events described.
—The Editor

In this faith, history repeated itself, and thousands of learned men sacrificed their lives for the enlightenment of their fellow-beings. The young progressive Iranians should realize the greatness of those noble souls, and their martyrdom for the freedom which they are enjoying today.

The following articles are a few examples of the events that occurred.

The Martyrdom of Sayyid Hasan and Sayyid Husayn,101 102    Recounted by ‘Abdu’l-Baha 103

[In 1879] there were amongst the inhabitants of Isfahan two brothers, Seyyids of Tabataba 104,  Seyyid Hasan and Seyyid Huseyn, celebrated in those parts for piety, trustworthiness, and nobility; men of wealth, engaged in commerce, behaving towards all men with perfect kindliness and courtesy. And to all outward appearance no one had observed in either of these two brothers any swerving from what was best, much less any conduct or behaviour which could deserve torment or punishment; for, as is related, they were admitted by all (preeminent) in all praiseworthy and laudable qualities, while their deeds and actions were like exhortations and admonitions.
These had transacted business with Mir Muhammad Huseyn the Imam-Jum‘a  105 of Isfahan; and when they came to make up their accounts it appeared that the sum of eighteen thousand tumans 106  was due to them. They (therefore) broke off (further) transactions, prepared a bond for this sum, and desired it to be sealed. This thing was grievous to the Imam-Jum‘a,   so that he came to the stage of anger and enmity. Finding himself in debt, and having no recourse but to pay, he raised clamour and outcry saying “These two brothers are Babis and deserve severe punishment from the king.” A crowd at once attacked their house, plundered and pillaged all their goods, distressed and terrified their wives and children, and seized and despoiled all their possessions.
Then, fearing that they might refer the punishment to the step of the king’s throne and loose their tongues in demand of redress, he (i.e., the Imam-Jum‘a) fell to thinking how to compass their death and destroy them. He therefore persuaded certain of the doctors [of Islamic law] to co-operate with him, and they pronounced sentence of death. Afterwards they arrested those two brothers, put them in chains, and brought them before the public assembly. Yet seek as they might to fix on them some accusation, find some fault, or discover some pretext, they were unable to do so.
At length they said, “You must either renounce this faith [i.e. Babism and Baha’ism], or else lay down your heads beneath the sword of punishment.” Although some of those present urged them saying, “Say merely ‘We are not of this sect,’ and it is sufficient, and will be the means of your deliverance and protection,” they would by no means consent, but rather confirmed and declared it with eloquent speech and affecting utterance, so that the rage and violence of the Imam- Jum’a boiled over, and, not satisfied with killing and destroying them, they inflicted sundry indignities on their bodies after death to mention which is not fitting, and of which the details are beyond the power of speech.
Indeed  such wise was the blood of these two brothers shed that even the Christian priest of Julfa 107  cried out, lamented, and wept on that day; and this event befell after such sort that every one wept over the fate of those two brothers, for during the whole period of their life they had never distressed the feelings even of an ant, while by general report they had in the time of famine in Persia spent all their wealth in relieving relieving the poor and distressed. Yet, notwithstanding this reputation, were they slain with such cruelty in the midst of the people!

Further Martyrdoms in Isfahan Province, Recounted by Dr. Robert Bruce 108

Aqa Mirza Ashraf of Abada was put to death for his religion in the most barbarous manner in Isfahan about October last [i.e. in 1888]. The hatred of the mullahs was not satisfied with his murder; they mutilated his poor body publicly in the Maydan 109  in the most savage manner, and then burned what was left of it.
Since then we have had two other persecutions of Babis, one in Sidih and the other in Najafabad.110 111    In Sidih, where the Babi community is small, their houses were burned and their wives and children ill- treated. The men saved themselves by flight to Tehran, and I am told that about 25 of them have just returned to Isfahan and are in the Prince’s stables in bast (i.e. sanctuary).
In Najafabad there are about 2,000 Babis. They tried the same game with them, but some hundreds of them took refuge in the English Telegraph Office in Julfa,  and the Prince 112  took their part and banished from Najafabad to Karbala the mujtahid who persecuted them, so the result is that they are freer now than they have ever been. I took very great interest in the poor people, not only for their own sakes, but for the sake of Persia also; as, if liberty is gained for them, it will be a great step towards breaking the power of the mullahs and getting liberty for all.

The Martyrdom of Haji Muhammad Riza, Recounted by Baron Rosen 113

At 7 a.m. on September 8 (August 27, old style 114), 1889, two fanatical Persian Shi’ites, Mashhadi ‘Ali Akbar and Mashhadi Huseyn, threw themselves, dagger in hand, on a certain Haji Muhammad Riza of Isfahan, who was peaceably traversing one of the most frequented streets of Ishqabad, 115  and inflicted on him 72 wounds, to which he succumbed. Haji Muhammad Riza was one of the most respected of the Babis of Ishqabad. The crime was perpetrated with such audacity that neither the numerous witnesses of the occurrence, nor the constable who was on the spot could save the victim of this odious attack.
The assassins yielded themselves up to the police without any resistance; they were placed in a cab and conveyed to the prison. During the transit they fell to licking up the blood which was dripping from their daggers.
The examination, conducted with much energy by the military tribunal, gave as its result that Muhammad Riza had fallen victim to the religious bigotry of the Shi’ites. Fearful of Muhammad Riza’s influence, the Shi’ites of Ishqabad, acting in accordance with the orders of mullahs who had come expressly for this purpose from Khurasan, [Persia] resolved to cut short the Babi propaganda by lolling Haji Muhammad Riza. Knowing well, however, that the crime would not remain unpunished, they left it to chance to determine what persons should sacrifice themselves for the Shi’ite cause. Thus it was that the individuals named above became the assassins of Muhammad Riza, who had never injured them in anyway.
The sentence of the tribunal was severe: ‘Ali Akbar and Huseyn, as well as two of their confederates, were condemned to be hanged, but the penalty of death was commuted by His Majesty the Emperor [Alexander III of Russia] to hard labour for life.
This sentence was hailed by the Babis with an enthusiasm easy to understand. It was the first time since the existence of the sect, i.e. for nearly fifty years, that a crime committed on the person of an adherent of the new religion had been punished with all the rigour of the law. The impression produced on the chief of the sect, Baha[’u’llah], appears to have been equally profound.

The Martyrs of Yazd, Recounted by a Baha’i in that City 116

On the evening of the 23rd of the month of Ramadan A.H. 1308 (May 2, A.D. 1891) two persons, named respectively Aqa ‘Ali Asghar Yuzdaruni and Aqa Gazargahi, went to the mosque of Amir Chaqmaq. 117 The people who were in the mosque recognised these two as Babis, and said to them, “You are Babis; why do you come to the mosque? Curse (the Bab), or we will torment you.” They answered, “We are not Babis.” “If you are not Babis,” said their persecutors, “then curse.” As they refused to curse or revile (the Bab), the people loaded them with abuse, and raised a clamour, crying, “These two men are Babis and have entered our mosque,” and began to insult and maltreat them. Hajji Na’ib, the Farrash bashi 118  of Prince Jalalu’d-Dawla, 119  who was present in the mosque, seized these two men and carried them before the Prince. They were severely beaten, cast into prison, and fined. Three days later they were released.

Three days after their release, Prince Jalalu’d-Dawla again demanded them at the hands of the Farrash-bashi, who set himself to discover them. One Mahdi by name, the son of Ustad Baqir the druggist, offered his services to the Farrash-bashi, saying, “I know where they are, and will point them out to you.” So he accompanied the Farrash-bashi, together with ten farrashes, as a guide, and led them to the house of Ustad ‘Abdu’r-Rahim Mushld-baf, where they arrested these two men and five others who were with them in the house. The seven they seized and brought before the Prince-governor, Jalalu’d- Dawla, striking them often on the way about the face and head, and finally casting them into prison. The names of the other five prisoners were, Mulla ‘Ali of Sabzawar, Asghar, Hasan, Aqa Baqir, and Mulla Mahdi.
Next day Prince Jalalu’d-Dawla summoned them before him and interrogated them, bidding them curse and revile (the Bab), that he might set them free. They refused to do this, and frankly avowed that they were Babis.
The clergy, who have ever been mischief-makers and are always eager to provoke trouble and bloodshed, hastened to avail themselves of this opportunity, and urged Prince Jalalu’d-Dawla to kill these seven men. So far as can be ascertained, the Prince wrote his consent and desired the clergy to ratify it with their seals and signatures. So they agreed to make these seven pass beneath the sword of cruelty and injustice. While the Prince was interrogating them, some of his own attendants who were in his presence were filled with wonder and amazement, saying to themselves, “These have done nothing for which they deserve to incur wrath and punishment!”
On the morning of Monday the 9th of Shawwal (May 18,1891) the following members of the clergy, Shaykh Hasan of Sabzawar, Shaykh Muhammad Taqi of Sabzawar, Mirza Sayyid ‘Ali Mudarris, Mulla Hasan of Ardakan, and Mulla Husayn of Ardakan came to Prince Jalalu’d- Dawla’s palace. They were concealed behind a curtain, and the seven Babis were then brought in. The Prince said to them, “I wish to set you free. Now by my head I conjure you to tell me truly whether you are Babis or not.” “Yes,” they replied, “we are Babis,” confessing and acknowledging it. The clergy who were concealed behind the curtain of deceit heard their avowal, and at once wrote out and sealed the warrant for their death. The executioner was summoned forthwith and ordered to slay them. ‘Ali Asghar was strangled with the bow-string in the Prince’s presence in the most cruel manner. The other six were led through the bazaars with music and beating of drums to the market¬place, where they were killed one after another. The rabble of the people mobbed them, striking them with sticks, spitting on them, reviling them and mocking them. As the throat of each one was cut, the mob tore open the body to look at the heart, saying, “How bold they are in the presence of death and the death-warrant and the headsman! With what strength of heart do they yield up their life, while no word of cursing or reviling escapes their lips! We must see what sort of hearts they have.”
When they had slain all the seven, they poured tar over their bodies and set fire to them. Never before this day have such behaviour, such malevolence and wickedness, been seen in any people as are seen amongst these Shiites in Persia. One of the Babis (he who was named Asghar) they bound to a tree in the marketplace, cut off his hands with the sword, then ripped open his belly, and finally beheaded him. Another, Hasan, they wounded in the head with swords and sticks, driving him about the marketplace and bidding him curse and revile (the Bab). “What should I say?” he answered, “do whatever is commanded you.” So they cut him in pieces.
Till sunset of that day the bodies of these seven were in the hands of the roughs and rabble of the populace, and they brutally pelted them with stones, set fire to them, and burned them. After they had killed them and burned their bodies they asked permission of Prince Jalalu’d- Dawla to illuminate the city, and he gave them permission for two nights, but such was the disorderly conduct of the roughs and the exultation of the clergy on the first night that permission for the next night was withdrawn.
The widows and children of these seven men dared not, for fear of the mob, leave their houses or enter the bazaars even to obtain food and drink, and so remained without water or food until at length some Christian merchants of the Dutch nation sent provisions to them.
After the blood of these seven had been shed, a Babi named Hajji Mulla Muhammad Ibrahim Mas’ilagu, who had gone to a place ten hours distant from the city towards the mountains, was followed and arrested by Hajji Na’ib the Farrash-bashi, severely beaten, brought back with every indignity to the city, carried before Prince Jalalu’d-Dawla, and cast into prison. His wife and children went to the Dutch merchants and entreated them to intercede and deliver him from the cruel clutches of his persecutors. These accordingly went before the Prince, but he would not admit their mediation, and declared that he had already sent the man to Tehran. On the following night he slew him with his own hands and had the body cast into a well.
By reason of these events many persons have fled into the surrounding country, and a strange commotion and disquietude prevail. The authorities have made it a pretext for extorting money, and have fined and mulcted many persons. They have also arrested several more, who are still in prison. They seized one named Aqa Husayn, a silk-merchant, who had in his possession nearly five hundred turnons’ (£15o) 120 worth of silk belonging to himself and others, all of which they took from him. The clergy and Prince Jalalu’d-Dawla have made this thing a means of obtaining money, and have extorted large sums from all (the Babis), leaving their wives and children without bread.
Never before has such injustice been seen. Why should loyal and obedient subjects, who have been guilty of no offence, and who seek but to reform men’s morals and to increase the welfare of the world, be subjected to such cruel persecutions by order of the foolish ones of the earth who show themselves under a garb of knowledge? Why should they be compelled to flee as outlaws and to wander as beggars from door to door, or be scattered abroad in mountains and deserts? Loyalty forbids us to appeal to foreign powers, and we can but cry in our anguish, “O God! We submit with patience and resignation to what we suffer at the hands of these godless, merciless and cruel people!” Thus do we tell our sorrow to our God, praying Him to take away from us the wickedness and oppression of the forward and ignorant ones of the earth. We have no helper but God, and none to support and succour us save Him.

101. In the mid 1900s, when Mr. Behai was writing, Iranian society and government were becoming more liberal and secular. This progress came to an end with the Islamic Revolution in 1979, which re established the political supremacy of conservative Shi’ite Muslim clergy. Since then, Baha’is in Iran have again faced severe persecution.
  

102.These brothers are usually known to Baha’is as the Nurayn-i-Nayyirayn (“Twin Shining Lights”), and by the titles given to them by Baha’u’llah after their martyrdom, namely, Sultanu’sh-Shuhadd (“King of Martyrs”) and Mah- bubu’sh-Shuhada (“Beloved of Martyrs”), respectively.

103. Edward G. Browne (Translator), A Traveller’s Narrative: Written to Illustrate the Episode of the Bab, Volume II. English Translation and Notes (Cambridge: University Press, 1891), pp. 167-169.

104. The Tabataba’i (also spelled Tabatabaei) are a family descended from Imam Hasan, the second of the Twelve Imams of Shi’ite Islam.
105.The imam who leads the congregational prayers in one of Iran’s major urban mosques.
106. The translator notes that this amount of the Iranian currency at the time (also spelled tomans) was worth “about £5400” in 1891. In 2014 U.S. dollars, this would be nearly 5800,000.
107.The Armenian quarter of the city of Isfahan. Present-day New Julfa.

108.Rev. Dr. Robert Bruce was an Irish Protestant evangelist and humanitarian worker for the Church Missionary Society, who lived in Julfa, Isfahan, in the late 1800s. This account of events in the area is an extract from a September 6, 1889 letter he wrote to Edward G. Browne. Published in Prof. Browne’s book, Materials for the Study of the Babi Religion (Cambridge: University Press, 1918), pp. 291-292.

109.The Maidan-e Naqsh-e Jahan (“Image of the World Square”), also called the Imam Square or Shah Square, is a large open plaza at the center of the city of Isfahan.

110.Sidih was a village and Najafabad is a small city, both located near Isfahan.
111. According to Sir Walter Townley, a British diplomat serving in Persia at the time, “On the return of these men to their homes about six weeks ago they were met and attacked by a mob headed by a man called Aqa Najafi, and seven or eight of them were killed and their bodies burnt with oil.” (From a letter to Edward G. Browne, April 13,1890, quoted in Materials for the Study of the Babi Religion, p. 294.)
112.Mass’oud Mirza, known as the Zill-i Sultan (“Shadow of the King”), was the governor of Isfahan. He was the eldest son of Naser al-Din Shah, but was not the heir to the throne because his mother was not from the Qajar family.
113. Baron Victor Rosen (Viktor Romanovich Rozen) was a Russian Orientalist and professor of Arabic, who was one of the first Europeans to study the Babi and Baha’i faiths academically. This account of the assassination of a Baha’i in Russia was reproduced by Edward G. Browne in A Traveller’s Narrative: Written to Illustrate the Episode of the Bab, Volume II. English Translation and Notes (Cambridge: University Press, 1891), pp. 411-412.
114.The Julian calendar, which was superseded by the Gregorian calendar which is used today. Russia remained on the Julian calendar until 1918.
115.Present-day Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. This city was near the border between Persia and the Russian Empire. It was under Persian control until 1881, when it was ceded to Russia.

116.This account is reproduced by Edward G. Browne in Materials for the Study of the Babi Religion (Cambridge: University Press, 1918), pp. 304-308. Prof. Browne identifies it as a “translation of a letter written from Yazd on Shawwal 15 A.H. 1308 (May 24, 1891) by one Husayn to Hajji Sayyid ‘Ali Shirazi at ‘Ishqabad; and by him communicated to me.” Its description of the persecu¬tion of Baha’is in Yazd, Iran, is similar to three other letters received and repro¬duced by Prof. Browne in the same book, including letters from Baha’u’llah’s sons Abbas Effendi ‘Abdu’l-Baha and Badi Ullah Bahai.
117. A major mosque in the city of Yazd. Also spelled Amir Chakhmaq.

118. Chief of the farrashes (jail-keepers).
119. Soltan Hossein Mirza Jalal ed-Dawleh was the son of Prince Mass’oud Mirza Zill-i Sultan and thus the grandson of Naser al-Din Shah. He was the governor of  Yazd.

120.About S20,ooo in 2014 U.S. dollars.

Baha’i Principles – By Shua Ullah Behai

Shua Ullah Behai as a 12 years old boyThis chapter contains most of the last chapter of Shua Ullah Behai’s book manuscript. It is a summary of the basic principles of the Baha’i faith as understood by Mr. Behai.
Many of the quotations from Baha’u’llah’s writings in this chapter are translations by Ali Kuli Khan published in the early 1900s, with mi¬nor changes. Some other quotations appear to be original translations by Shua Ullah Behai, or are from sources this editor was not able to determine.
For the most part, the author’s presentation of Baha’i principles is similar to what would be found in any introduction to the Baha’i religion, but on two points, some significant differences can be observed. Firstly, he includes “Religion Without Clergy” as one of the most important teachings. Although this is a principle held by all Baha’is, it is not usually given such emphasis, perhaps because the Baha’i community has developed organizational hierarchies which approximate some of the roles traditionally played by clergy in other religions. 74 

74.The Continental Boards of Counsellors and their subordinate bodies, the Auxiliary Boards for Propagation and Protection of the faith, are Baha’i insti­tutions whose officials throughout the world are appointed to evangelize for the religion and to investigate and discipline adherents who dissent from standard Baha’i doctrine and practice. This system and its positions were es­tablished by the Universal House of Justice, the head of the Baha’i community, in 1968.

Mr. Behai cites historical examples of clerical leaders acquiring too much power,and places the blame for religious dissension and conflict on “the orthodoxy of religious organizations”—a stance that reflects his more liberal perspective compared to the mainstream Baha’i tradition which has, conversely, blamed those who resisted orthodoxy for disputes within the faith.
In the section prescribing a “Universal Tribunal,” the author quotes one of Baha’u’llah’s writings about the House of Justice, an institution which has usually been interpreted as a specifically Baha’i administrative body, but which Mr. Behai seems to have believed should also be a model for a world court as part of a secular international government. Some prominent Baha’is in the mainstream tradition have suggested that the supreme governing body of their own religious organization, the Universal House of Justice, should someday rule a global theocracy; 75  but Shua Ullah Behai, in contrast, presents Baha’u’llah’s vision of the House of Justice as an inspiration for non-religious international political institutions such as the League of Nations (later revived as the United Nations), which he favors. Various statements by Mr. Behai throughout this book confirm his strong belief in the separation of religion and state.

75. In fact, the proponents of this view have even included members of the UHJ itself, as discussed in Juan Cole’s article entitled “Fundamentalism in the Con-temporary U.S. Baha’i Community.” Originally published in Review of Religious Research, Vol. 43, No. 3 (March 2002): 195-217. Available online at http://www- pers0nal.umich.edu/~jrc0le/bahai/2002/fundbhft1.htm. As Dr. Cole explains, the modern Baha’i belief in theocracy has little support in Baha’i scripture, which for the most part, actually contradicts it.
—The Editor

This is the century of progress. The human mind is greatly ad¬vanced, education is universal, freedom of speech and the press is granted, and above all the freedom of thought and belief. But with all this progress we observe that Baha’ism, the most progressive move¬ment of this age, has been shrouded by vagueness and generalities
without due regard to the authentic teachings of the founder Baha’u’l- lah. Therefore some explanation is essential.

By delving carefully into the teachings of Baha’u’llah we discover numerous principles which, if practiced, will cause the betterment of humanity and the progress of mankind.
We, the Baha’is, should practice the same before preaching to others to do so.
For the enlightenment of the reader and a reminiscence to the Baha’is throughout the world, I hereby explain some of the major principles and precepts of Baha’u’llah.

The Oneness and Singleness of God
Before acknowledging the Oneness and Singleness of God, we must know what is the meaning of this word “God.” In the dictionary it is explained thus: “God, god: The Supreme Being; a being possessing divine power; a divinity, a deity.” From these definitions it appears that God is a name the English-speaking nations have given for the Supreme Ruler of the Universe.
From antiquity to this age, that great power which is behind every-thing movable and immovable has been called Supreme Being. The wise men, and the great Teachers that appeared on this earth from the beginning which had no beginning to this twentieth century, have called Him by different names and attributes. The Hindus, [“Brahma” or] “Buddha”; the Parsees, “Mah-Abad”; the Jews, “Jehovah”; the Christians, “Spirit of Truth”; and the Arabs, “Allah.” That Great Power is a reality which is beyond the comprehension of man. We know Him not but by His traces, and His traces are His Messengers and their teachings which have been given to us from time to time.
With careful study of the life and teachings of the past Messengers we will observe that each one had an object in his appearance and a message for us. Adam spoke of the creation of the Universe and its beauties. Enoch taught eternal life. Noah saved humanity from the deluge of ignorance, restoring them to the Ark of knowledge. Moses saved the Israelites from Pharaoh. Buddha taught the brotherhood of man.
Zaradusht 76  guided the Iranians to the light of Truth. Jesus sacrificed his life for the sake of unity amongst humanity, and Muhammad saved the Arabs from idolatry. All of them bowed in reverence to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, “God,” and the essence of their teachings is the same: the elevation of the thoughts and morals of mankind.

76. The Farsi name for Zoroaster, the great prophet of ancient Persia.

According to archaeological research, man has progressed considerably from the stone age to this age of steel and electricity. With unbiased study we will observe that the great teachers, messengers, philosophers, and scientists have been immensely responsible for our progress of today. But from time immemorial, from antiquity, the cause of development of the minds of humanity has been the inspired teachings and belief in the Supreme Being—even when the sun was considered the example of that Great Power, and the idols representatives of the Supreme Ruler of the Universe.
If our progress of today seems useless in some way, we are to blame for misapplication. Everything in existence is good but can become evil through our actions. The power of speech is one of the faculties of man, through which we know his innermost. Truth and lies both are considered speech, and its creation was good, but when misused becomes evil. Fire produces heat, and it is very beneficial in our daily life, but dangerous when improperly used. Poison’s nature is destruction, but also beneficial when used properly. It is true that mankind has progressed greatly scientifically, but has decreased considerably spiritually, through the misguidance of the leaders and the superstition driven into their minds by theologians: the belief that God is a certain personality sitting somewhere above, directing the affairs of the universe. This and other similar dogmas have kept people away from all creeds and finally caused the revolt against theology and religion.

Doubtless the progressive students will agree with me that the Great Power, the Cause of All Causes which is governing this universe, is worthy of our reverence, respect, adoration and love.
Baha’u’llah, the Great Sage of this age said, [speaking in the divine voice]:
My outward speaketh to My innermost and My innermost to My outward, that there is no one else in the Kingdom beside Me… Verily the Branches (sons) who branched from the Tree [Baha’u’l- lah] are My fingerposts amidst My creatures, and My fragrances between heaven and earth. Do ye see that there is a partner or an equal to God, your Lord? By the Lord of the world, No! Therefore say not that which God doth not permit, fear the Merciful, and be of those who reason. 77

77. Shua Ullah Behai identifies the source of these verses as the Book of Haykal, a book compiled by Baha’u’llah which contained his Suriy-i-Haykal (“Surah of the Temple”) and various other writings. However, these verses do not appear in the English translation of that work which has been published by the Baha’i community under the title The Summons of the Lord of Hosts. Mr. Behai’s fa-ther, Mohammed Ali, quoted the same passage but referred to its source as simply “a tablet” by Baha’u’llah, without identifying which one (see the section entitled “Sons and Successors of Baha’u’llah Are Not His Equal” in Chapter 17). Therefore, it seems likely that Shua Ullah Behai was mistaken about the source of the text. However, it is also possible that the published translation of the Book of the Temple is incomplete, and that these verses do appear in the orig-inal version of that document. According to Mr. Behai, the original was 520 pages in length (see Appendix A: List ofWritings of Baha’u’llah); but the trans-lation in The Summons of the Lord of Hosts contains only 276 paragraphs, along with some other writings of Baha’u’llah which have been added. Multiple sources confirm that some of the verses included in the first printed edition of the Book of the Temple—which do not appear in the published translation— were recognized as authentic writings of Baha’u’llah only by the Unitarian Baha’is, but not in the mainstream Baha’i tradition (e.g., see the account of this controversy in Chapter 23, in the section entitled “Abbas Effendi Favors Those Who Most Exaggerate His Position”).

The Oneness of Mankind
The students of science and religion both agree on this principle. Science’s theory is that we are the evolved and developed issue of the first Atom. Religious belief is that we are the offspring of the first Adam. Therefore it is a fact that the origin was one but with diverse explanations. Our difference in color is due to the climatic conditions of various parts of the globe, and the superiority of a race or nation over another is the consequence of its advance in education. Extreme orthodoxy in religious belief and lack of learning often have kept a race or nation backward. To this, history bears witness.

Baha’u’llah said:

O children of man! Do ye know why We have created you from one clay, that no one should glorify himself over the other? Be ye ever mindful of how ye were created. Since We created you all from the same substance, ye must be as one soul, walking with the same feet, eating with one mouth, and living in one land, that ye may manifest with your being, and by your deeds and actions, the signs of unity and the spirit of oneness. This is My counsel to you, O people of light. Therefore follow it, that ye may attain the fruits of holiness from the Tree of Might and Power.78

78. The Hidden Words, Arabic #68.

The most splendid fruit of Tree of Knowledge is this exalted word:
Ye are all the fruits of one tree and leaves of one branch. Glory is not his who loveth his own country, but glory is his who loveth his kind. In this connection We have formerly revealed that which is the means for the prosperity of the world and the unification of nations. Blessed are those who attain! Blessed are those who practice! 79

79.Lawh-i-Ishraqat (“Tablet of Splendors”), Sixth Ishraq. Translated by Ali Kuli Khan in Tablets of Baha’u’llah Revealed at Acca, Syria (Chicago: Bahai Publish­ing Society, 1917), p. 128.

Equality of Races
Although we differ in our color, creed, habits, morals, mentality and belief, yet in humanity we are one and we should be on terms of equality. If some of us happen to be more fortunate in knowledge than others, it is the result of education; and we should share the same with the less fortunate, and with the language of love and kindness direct them to the fountainhead of truth, instead of avoiding them and glorifying ourselves over them.

Baha’u’llah said:
The word of God in the Sixth Leaf of the Exalted Paradise:
The light of men is justice; quench it not with the contrary winds of oppression and tyranny. The purpose of justice is the appearance of unity among people. In this exalted word, the sea of God’s wisdom is moving; all the books of the world are not sufficient to contain its interpretation.If the world is adorned with this mantle, the sun of the saying “On that day God will satisfy them with His abundance” will appear and shine from the horizon of the heaven of the world. Know ye the station of this utterance, for it is from the loftiest of the Tree of the Supreme Pen. Happy is he who heareth and attaineth!
Truly I say, all that hath descended from the heaven of the Di¬vine Will is conducive to the order of the world, and to the furtherance of unity and harmony among its people. Thus hath the tongue of this Wronged One spoken in His great prison (Acre).
The word of God in the Seventh Leaf of the Exalted Paradise:
O ye wise men among nations! Turn your eyes away from foreignness and gaze unto oneness, and hold fast to means conducive to the tranquility and security of the people of the whole world. This span-wide world is but one native land and one locality. Abandon that glory which is the cause of discord, and turn unto that which promoteth harmony. To the people of Baha, glory is in knowledge, good deeds, good morals and wisdom—not in one’s native land or station. O people of the earth: Appreciate the worth of this heavenly word, for it is like unto a ship for the sea of knowledge, and is as the sun to the universe of perception. 80

80.Kalimat-i-Firdawsiyyih (“Words of Paradise”). Ibid., pp. 52-53.

Equality of Men and Women
Readers of the world news are aware of the hardship that women have experienced in the most progressive republic, the United States of America, for the passage of the law of women’s suffrage. They labored with great energy for years until they succeeded after the First World War, in 1920. 81

81. The Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which prohibits any U.S. citizen from being denied the right to vote on the basis of sex,was ratified on August 18,1920, after several decades of activism by advocates for women’s equality.

About forty years earlier, Baha’u’llah said:
The blessing of God be upon you, O members of the Exalted Household.( Baha’u’llah’s family)  Khanumi (Khanumi means “my lady” Baha’u’llah is referring to his daughter with a re­spectful title rather than using her given name) (Samadiyya Khanum, second daughter of Baha’u’llah) should hold fast to the rope of the Oneness (of God) and be happy in the Divine Providence.

Woman and man, before God, occupy one (equal) station.
The most beloved people, before God, are those who are steadfast and upright. Peace and glory be upon you, O members of the Household….

All should know and in this matter be enlightened by the lights of the sun of certainty. Females and males are one (equal) before God. The Dawning-place of the Light of God diffuseth its effulgence equally on all. He created them for one another. (From an unidentified tablet.)

Harmony of Science and Religion
With careful analytical study of this little planet we call the world, its conditions and changes, we will observe that everything in existence had an origin and a maker.
There is no product without a producer, no building without a builder, and no invention without an inventor. Likewise the earth and its contents testify to the mighty power of a Creator whom the theologians call God, and the scientists Nature.
To the intellectual observer, both are pointing to the Supreme Architect of the Universe, the Mighty Power, the Great Governor of this cradle earth, who causes the mineral to mature through the processes of natural chemistry, vegetation to grow through the power of the sun, air and water, producing livelihood for the birds and animals, and blessing human beings with life and dominion over all.

Saadi, the great Persian philosopher-poet said: “The clouds, the air, the moon and the sun are laboring so you may earn a loaf of bread and enjoy with gratefulness. All are humble under your command, there¬fore it is unjust of you to be disobedient.”
Religion and science are two channels through which mankind has been endeavoring to reach the truth. Religion is based upon faith and its principles have been the same throughout the ages, only renewed in each cycle by the inspired teachers. Science works upon theory and has contradicted its discoveries from time to time.
Doubtless there is nothing in existence without an origin; there¬fore, a creator. If we take it for granted that all in existence originated itself, it must be thus: either it was in existence and became existent, or it was not in existence and still became existent. The first is unreasonable, and the latter is impossible, as from nothing comes nothing. If we consider that one of the substances in existence originated the others, it is also unreliable as each atom of matter individually testifies to its weakness.
If we claim the strongest atom among all types of matter produced the others, and all in existence depend on this, it is also unreliable, for the human being, though small in stature, possesses the highest station of all the creatures in existence, and should be called a creator, an originator, yet we observe his weakness also, for he cannot depend on his earthly existence a second hence. If we consider that one group of at¬oms originated the others, this also is impossible, for the four kingdoms—mineral, vegetable, animal and human—though equal in the line of progress, vary in function. If we claim a group of the strongest atoms originated the others individually or in units, this is also impossible, for if the said group possessed such a power, they should be able to prevent self-destruction.
It is an actual fact that we cannot produce something from nothing. We need a seed to produce a plant, an egg to produce a bird, etc. Science could not produce the numerous modern discoveries and achievements without some substance to work with, such as chemistry. Even the past sages did not produce the so-called miracles without an origin. The great Master Jesus produced wine from the water; the great personage Moses produced water from the earth.
Regardless of the arguments of our friends, the theologians, and the scientists, for whom I have the greatest admiration, we must con¬fess that the Mighty Power which is governing this universe is worthy of our honor, devotion, adoration and love. To that great invisible power, which today is visible to the intellectual mind, we must be grateful for our progress and the knowledge that we have attained through His sages from time to time.
Religion and science both guide humanity to one great object, the Originator, the Beginner, the Creator; and both agree to the oneness and singleness of that object, The Mighty Architect of the Universe, Jehovah, Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
If the students of theology and science could see the truth through each other’s spectacles, without prejudice, they would reach perfect harmony and understanding, revering both disciplines, and with united effort labor on the greatest work before them: the progress of mankind.

Baha’u’llah said:
The Third Tajalli [“Effulgence”] is concerning sciences, crafts and arts. Knowledge is like unto wings for the being (of man), and is as a ladder for ascending. To acquire knowledge is incumbent on all, but [only] of those [types of knowledge] which may profit the people of the earth, and not such sciences as begin in mere words and end in mere words. The possessors of sciences and arts have a great right among the people of the world, where unto testifieth the Mother of Divine Utterance in the Day of Return. Joy unto those who hear! Indeed, the real treasury of man is his knowledge. Knowledge is the means of honor, prosperity, joy, gladness, happiness, and exaltation. Thus hath the Tongue of Grandeur spoken in this great prison. 82
The Eleventh Glad-Tidings: To study sciences and arts of all descriptions is allowable; but such sciences as are profitable, which lead and are conducive to the elevation of mankind. Thus hath the
matter been decreed on the part of God, the Commander, the Wise.83

82. Lawh-i-Tajalliyat (“Tablet of Effulgences”). Translated by Ali Kuli Khan in Tablets of Baha’o’llah Revealed at Acca, Syria (Chicago: Bahai Publishing Soci¬ety, 1917), pp. 76-77.

83. Lawh-i-Bisharat (“Tablet of Glad-Tidings”). Ibid., p. 88.

And We permitted you to study of the sciences that which benefiteth you, and not that which endeth in dispute. This is more advantageous to you, were ye of those who know. 84

84. Kitab-i-Aqdas (“Most Holy Book”), paragraph 77.

Religion Without Clergy
To the multitude such a venture seems impracticable—nay! unachievable—as we are accustomed by heritage to listen to the clergy¬men reading and explaining the Gospel rather than to study the Bible ourselves. In the dark ages, on account of the limitation of education, readers and instructors were essential. Today we are living in the age of progress. Education is compulsory and universal. We are able to read and study with reason, therefore we have no need for an explanator or interpreter of the words of God. We should study them carefully, analyze them cautiously and acquire the knowledge contained therein.
To appreciate the greatness of this principle, “Religion Without Clergy, ” we should study the past events of history. Thus we will observe that through the orthodoxy of religious organizations, dissension and strife has arisen amongst the followers after the departure of every Manifestation, usually ending with religious wars and the bloodshed of innocent individuals. The inspired teachings, which were revealed for the uplifting of humanity, became the whips of religious leaders, to fulfill their selfish desires and to rule over the oppressed masses.
Christianity made great progress during its early days. The monies collected the offerings from those who willingly gave and delivered them to those who were in need, even to the extent of carrying the offerings on their backs to the needy. Thus they performed the principles which Jesus commanded. As such, a period of time elapsed, until they began to build palaces called monasteries and lived the life of luxury and ease at the expense of the faithful followers, compelling them to accept their commands as supreme, equivalent to the words of the Master Jesus.
Not content with the spiritual rule which they possessed, the Christian clergy began to interfere with the affairs of state until they became the Supreme Ruler over the rulers. Then came the revolt of the state against the Church. King Henry VIII violated the law of the Vatican and proclaimed himself the head of the Church of England. Napoleon Bonaparte acted likewise, which eventually caused the division of state and church throughout the world. Martin Luther protested against the supremacy of the Holy See and founded the Protestantism of today, which in number of followers almost equals the Mother Church.
Islam also experienced the same phenomenon and its consequences, even to the extent of taking the life of the two grandsons of Muhammad. Hasan was poisoned and Hussein was beheaded. Caliph after caliph took control and in the name of religion ruled nearly fourteen hundred years, until the First World War, when the title of Caliph was abolished for the head of state, thus ending the Ottoman Dynasty.
All the past religions met the same fate after the departure of the Manifestation, through the selfishness of religious leaders, who corrupted the inspired teachings by misinterpretation and misguided the innocent masses. Grant us a survey of several churches on a Sunday morning. We will observe that each preacher is selecting a verse from the Gospel and interpreting it to harmonize with his sermon. The result is that many contradictory explanations of the same verse from the pulpit are causing confusion in the minds of the listeners.
According to the teachings of Baha’u’llah, the principles he commanded and the foundation he laid, the Baha’i organization should be composed of not less than nine members in each community, 85  elected by the vote of the members and subject to recall by popular vote. This duly-elected body shall appoint one of its members to be in charge of distribution of educational literature, free lectures, and promulgation of the teachings which are easy to understand and useful in our daily life, thus eliminating the need for clergy.

85.See the Kitab-i-Aqdas, paragraph 30, in which Baha’u’llah writes: “The Lord hath ordained that in every city a House of Justice be established wherein shall gather counsellors to the number of Baha [i.e. nine], and should it exceed this number it doth not matter.”

Baha’u’llah said:
If ye differ in a matter, bring it to God, so long as the Sun is shining from the Horizon of this Heaven [i.e. while Baha’u’llah is alive on earth], but when He setteth, bring it to what was uttered by Him [i.e. his scriptures]. Verily it sufficeth the worlds.
Whosoever explaineth what hath descended from the Heaven of Revelation contrary to its obvious meaning, is of those who alter- eth the Supreme Word of God, and becometh of the losers in the manifest Book (the record of truth). 86 87
Blessed is he who cometh to the Mashriqu’l-Adhkar (rising- place of commemoration) in the early morning to glorify and praise God and ask forgiveness, and as he entereth in, he should sit down in silence and listen to the chanting of the scripture of God, the King, the Mighty, the Glorified. Verily the Mashriqu’l- Adhkar is every house built for My commemoration in cities and villages. Thus it was named on the part of the Throne, were ye of those who know.
Those who chant the scriptures of the Merciful in beautiful melodies shall attain therefrom that which could not be equaled by the kingdoms of heavens and earths. By this they shall inhale the fragrance of My words which none knoweth today save those who are given the keen sight from this Beautiful Watchtower. Lo, verily they (the scriptures) attract the pure hearts into the spiritual realm, which could not be expressed, neither by writing nor by symbolizing. Blessed are those who hear.
O people, help My chosen ones who rise up to commemorate Me amidst My creatures and elevate My Word in My Kingdom. They are the stars of the heaven of My Providence and the lamps of My guidance to all the people of creation. Whosoever teacheth contrary to what was revealed in My tablets is not of Me. Beware, lest ye follow every wicked claimant. The tablets are adorned by the beautiful ornament of the Seal of the Breaker of Dawns, who speaketh amidst heavens and earths. Hold fast to My safe girdle and to the rope of My straight and firm command. 88

86. Kitab-i-Aqdas (“Most Holy Book”), paragraph 53.
87.Ibid., paragraph 105.
88. Ibid., paragraphs 115-117

 Ye are forbidden from ascending upon pulpits. Whosoever wisheth to read to you from the scriptures of his God, let him sit down on a chair upon the platform and commemorate God, his Lord and the Lord of the worlds.  89

89. Ibid., paragraph 154.

It is decreed unto you to pray singly, whereas the congregational prayer 90  is abolished, save the prayer for the burial of the dead. Verily, He is the Commander, the Wise.91

Universal Tribunal
The establishment of a World Court is recommended here. The formation of the League of Nations was the fulfillment of this principle but unfortunately did not succeed, as it was without military power to enforce the laws agreed upon.

We hope that the present political leaders of the world will realize the importance of this principle and reestablish the Society of Nations for the sake of safeguarding the interest of the smaller nations.  92

Baha’u’llah said:

The Eighth Ishraq [“Splendor”]:
This passage is written, at this time, by the Supreme Pen and is accounted [as part] of the Book of Aqdas.
The affairs of the people are in the charge of the men of the House of Justice of God. They are the trustees of God among His servants and the sources of command in His countries.93
O people of God! The trainer of the world is Justice, for it consisted! of two pillars, Reward and Retribution. These two pillars are two fountains for the life of the people of the world.
Inasmuch as for each day and time a particular decree or order is expedient, affairs are therefore entrusted to the House of Justice, so that it may execute that which it deemeth advisable at the time. Those souls who arise to serve the cause sincerely to please God shall be inspired by the invisible inspiration of God. It is incumbent upon all to obey (them, i.e. the House of Justice).
Administrative affairs are all in the charge of the House of Justice, but devotional acts must be observed according as they are revealed in the Book.
O people of Baha! Ye are dawning-places of the love and day- springs of the favor of God. Defile not the tongues with cursing and execrating anyone and guard your eyes from that which is not
worthy. Show forth that which ye possess (truth, etc.). If it is accepted, the aim is attained; if not, interference (with or rebuke of those who reject it) is not allowable. Leave him to himself, and advance toward God, the Protector, the Self-Subsistent. Be not the cause of sorrow (to anyone), how much less of sedition and strife!
It is hoped ye may be trained under the shadow of the tree of divine favor and act in [accordance with] that which God desireth.
Ye are all leaves of one tree and drops of one sea. 94

90. Muslims traditionally have been encouraged to recite their daily prayers to¬gether in unison, led by an imam, at the mosque. Baha’u’llah abrogated this practice and directed Baha’is to pray individually. This, along with his ban of preaching from pulpits, indicates that Baha’u’llah envisioned the Baha’i faith as more of a personal spiritual practice rather than a religion with hierarchical forms.

91.Kitab-i-Aqdas (“Most Holy Book”), paragraph 12.
92.This part of the manuscript can thus be dated prior to 1945, when the United Nations was formed. The International Criminal Court has also been created since then. It is worth noting that the Baha’i vision of global governance is broader than any current or historical political institution, and has been interpreted in various ways.

93. It is not clear whether Baha’u’llah envisioned the House of Justice to be a quasi-governmental or judicial body for only the Baha’is, or for all people regardless of religion. At the time when Baha’u’llah was writing, the Ottoman Empire had what was called the Millet system (from the Arabic word milla, “nation”), in which each religious group was viewed as a distinct national community which could manage its own affairs and exercise authority over its members in personal matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, etc. Religious courts were therefore a commonly accepted feature of life in the 19th century Middle East, and Baha’u’llah’s conception of the Bayt al-Adl (House of Justice) may have been simply the Baha’i analogue of this institution. However, some passages in his writings also indicate that he envisioned a global assembly that would be interfaith or secular in nature, perhaps as a House of Justice for all humanity. For example, in the Lawh-i-Maqsud he wrote: “The time must come when the imperative necessity for the holding of a vast, an all-embracing assemblage of men will be universally realized. The rulers and kings of the earth must needs attend it, and, participating in its deliberations, must consider such ways and means as will lay the foundations of the world’s Great Peace amongst men.” (Gleanings From the Writings of Baha’u’llah, 1990 pocket- size edition, section CXVII, p. 249).

94.Lawh-i-Ishraqat (“Tablet of Splendors”). Translated by Ali Kuli Khan in Tablets of Baha’u’llah Revealed at Acca, Syria (Chicago: Bahai Publishing Society, 1917), pp. 129-130.

Universal Language
Indeed this is the first cornerstone for the erection of the great temple of unity amongst humanity. The following are the commands of Baha’u’llah to the leaders of the world for the fulfillment of this principle:
O people of the courts [of state, i.e. political officials] throughout the countries! Select one of the languages whereby all those who are on the earth should speak, and likewise one [script for] writing. Verily God elucidate unto you that which benefiteth you and maketh you independent of others. Verily He is the Bounteous, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. This is the cause of union, were ye of those who know, and the greatest means of concord and civilization, were ye of those who conceive. 95

95. Kitab-i-Aqdas (“Most Holy Book”), paragraph 189.

The Sixth Ishraq is concerning union and harmony among servants [of God] (i.e. mankind). Through union the regions of the world have ever been illuminated with the light of the (divine) cause. The greatest means (for this end) is that the peoples should be familiar with each other’s writing and language.
We have formerly commanded, in the tablets, that the trustees of the House of Justice must select one tongue out of the present languages, or a new language, and likewise select one among
the various scripts and teach them to children in the schools of the world, so that the whole world may thereby be considered as one native land and one place. 96

96.Lawh-i-Ishraqat (“Tablet of Splendors”). Translated by Ali Kuli Khan in Tab­lets of Baha’u’llah Revealed at Acca, Syria (Chicago: Bahai Publishing Society, 1917), pp. 127-128.

Universal Peace
Advanced humanity is eagerly seeking universal peace and good will amongst mankind. The hearts are filled with the spirit of brotherly love, longing for lasting peace. The leaders of the world should realize the importance of this universal desire and use their efforts to bring it into being. Behold what became of the Egyptian, Persian, Roman, Macedonian, Babylonian and other great empires: The earth absorbed them all. Their empires were doomed, and their palaces ruined. A Persian philosopher-poet said, “Gaze with the eyes of recollection upon the palace of King Kesra; the cobwebs replaced the golden draperies and the owl is the lone musician.” 97
This land was given to us to live on it in peace and happiness, to produce from it our livelihood, to enjoy what nature has provided for us, and not to exploit or seek to possess it. The duration of our lives on this earth is limited, and sooner or later we will be absorbed by it, whether we are seated on the throne of gold and glory or on a ragged carpet.
Blessed is he who departs from this earth with a clear conscience and unstained hands. Blessed is he who leaves behind a monument of good acts and deeds. Blessed is he who shepherds the human flock to the pasture of knowledge and the pond of truth. Blessed is he who has sheltered the unfortunate under the dome of glory and served them with spiritual food. Blessed is he who crowned his head with the crown of justice, and adorned his temple with the garment of kindness.
Blessed is he who occupied the throne of love and devoted his life to the service of his kind. Blessed is he who performed his duties to man¬kind and helped the needy generously. The glory of the Most Splendorous shall be with him forever and ever.

Baha’u’llah said:
The Second Ishraq:
We have commanded [the advent of] the Most Great Peace, 98  which is the greatest means for the protection of mankind. The rulers of the world must, in one accord, adhere to this command which is the main cause for the security and tranquility of the world. They (i.e. rulers) are day-springs of the power and dawning  places of the authority of God. We beg of God to assist them in that which is conducive to the peace of the servants (i.e. people).
The account of this subject hath been previously revealed from the Supreme Pen. Blessed are those who act accordingly. 99
The word of God in the Ninth Leaf of the Exalted Paradise:
Truly I say: Moderation is desirable in every affair, and when it is exceeded it leadeth to detriment. Consider the civilization of the people of the Occident, how it hath occasioned commotion and agitation to the people of the world. There hath appeared an infernal instrument, and such atrocity is displayed in the destruction of life, the like of which was not [before] seen by the eyes of the world, nor heard by the ears of  nations. It is not possible to reform (or remove) these violent, overwhelming evils, except if the peoples of the world become united in affairs, or in one religion. Hearken ye unto the voice of this Oppressed One, and adhere to the Most Great Peace!

A strange and wonderful instrument existeth in the earth; but it is concealed from minds and souls. It is an instrument which hath the power to change the atmosphere of the whole earth, and its infection causeth destruction. 100
With careful study of the aforesaid principles, we the Baha’is should realize that we possess an ocean full of pearls of wisdom from which to gain knowledge, and a universe full of shining stars with which to be enlightened. Therefore we should meditate on the teachings and earnestly follow them.

97. According to legend, Kesra (also spelled Kisra or Kasra) was a great king of Persia who had an immense, lavish tomb like a palace. Today, the ruins of the Taq-i Kisra still stand near the town of Salman Pak, Iraq, as the only remains of Ctesiphon, the ancient capital of the Parthian and Sasanian Empires.

98. The Baha’i concept of the “Most Great Peace” is a condition of the world in which all nations have united in a permanent accord, abandoning war and regarding all countries as one home for all. This alludes to the Biblical eschatological vision of a final, ultimate peace on earth brought about through the potent inspiration or presence of God.
99.Lawh-i-Ishraqat (“Tablet of Splendors”). Translated by Ali Kuli Khan in Tab¬lets of Baha’u’llah Revealed at Acca, Syria (Chicago: Baha’i Publishing Society, 1917), p. 126.
100.Kalimat-i-Firdawsiyyih (“Words of Paradise”). Ibid., p. 54. The “infernal,” “strange and wonderful” instrument spoken of by Baha’u’llah is generally re­garded by Baha’is as a prophecy of nuclear energy and nuclear weapons.

A Brief Biography of Baha’u’llah – By Mohammad Ali Bahai

Mohammed Ali Bahai - son of Baha'u'llah

Mohammed Ali Bahai (December 16,1853 – December 10,1937) was the eldest son of Baha’u’llah’s second wife, and the second son of Baha’u’llah who survived him. Baha’is today usually refer to him as Mirza Muhammad ‘Ali.
This essay, originally titled “The Biography of Baha’u’llah,” was written in June 1934 and translated into English by Mohammed Ali’s son Shua Ullah. The translation was published in the United States in a magazine called Behai Quarterly, a publication of the Society of Behaists. It was also included in Shua Ullah Behai’s book manuscript, as part of a chapter called “Baha Ullah.”
—The Editor

Whenever a mighty personage appears on earth and the news of his greatness spreads throughout the world, the intellectual people seek eagerly to be enlightened with the knowledge of his daily actions of life and his teachings.
In the past, many pilgrims, especially historians, who came to this sacred land and visited me, displayed an urgent fascination to know of the early life and actions of Baha’u’llah, Glory be to Him, and received such answers as time permitted on each occasion.
Of late, more inquiries have reached me through the mail from friends far and near. Therefore I deem it necessary to impart to the people of the world my experiences, through my constant personal contact with Baha’u’llah during the period of years from my childhood to the years that I had the privilege to serve Him as the inscriber of His utterances and promulgator of His teachings throughout the world.
Thus I will record herein His lineage, His early life and habits, His verbal messages to me and some of His teachings which I have copied from the numerous original volumes of His utterances in my possession. May the spirit of truth penetrate unto the citadels of the hearts, and the Sun of reality illumine the minds of men.
His Lineage
Needless to speak of the lineage of Baha’u’llah, His life and teachings are sufficient proof of His greatness and far above family connections; but knowing the fascination of past inquirers and for the guidance of future historians, I will state it briefly.
He was a descendant of the royal dynasty of Kian, who ruled in Persia centuries ago. The well-known Persian historian Mirza Abul-Fazl1 Gulpaygani, after careful search of records available during his visit to Mazandaran,the home of Baha’u’llah’s forefathers, speaks with conviction of the family connection with the Kian Dynasty. Indeed the prophecy of Zoroaster was fulfilled as he spoke of the coming of “Mah Abad from the Kian Dynasty.”
The father of Baha’u’llah was Mirza Abbas Nuri, better known as Mirza Buzurg (“The Great”)—scholar, theologian, and diplomat, politically powerful and socially prominent. He was connected with the [government] ministry and the court for years, during the Qajar Dynasty, and to his last days served his country gallantly. He was calm, kind and fearless, always ready to help the needy, and made hosts of friends during his life.
The mother of Baha’u’llah was Khanum Jani.63  Well known socially in the capital of Persia, she was a great help to her spouse during his life and career, and very active in the progress of her sex.

 60. Also spelled Abu’l-Fadl.
 61. A province of northern Iran, on the southern coast of the Caspian Sea.
 62. The Kian or Kianian Dynasty is an ideal, possibly mythological dynasty of ancient Persia, from which all the historically recorded Persian kings claimed to descend. Mah-Abad, in Persian tradition, was the most ancient prophet of the current world age, regarded as the “father of mankind.” Thus, the prophecy that Mr. Bahai is speaking of presumably was that Mah-Abad would return at the end of the age as an ideal king, completing the great cycle of history that he had begun. This may be a variant of the prophecy of the Shah Bahrain, a messianic figure of Zoroastrian eschatology. Baha’u’llah claimed to be the messiah of Zoroastrianism as well as the “King of Kings” prophesied in the Bible.

63.  Baha’u’llah’s mother is known to have been named Khadijah, so the name Jani is either a second name or nickname.

His Birth and Early Life

Baha’u’llah was born in the city of Tehran, the present capital of Persia [now Iran], on November 12,1817, and in the same city grew to manhood.

As a young man He associated with nobilities, court officials, and the celebrities of the day, and always served His father faithfully. He spent some of His early days in Mazandaran in the Nur district, the original home of His forefathers.

When the Bab proclaimed himself the New Teacher, his message appealed to Baha’u’llah and He became an active worker for the new cause, and left Tehran for Karbala, where He remained a few months, then returned to Tehran.

The message of the Bab awakened the minds of the Persians, and thousands of learned people became his followers. This roused the an­ger of the mullahs, and fearing the loss of their leadership, they labored with all their might against this progressive new movement which was spreading rapidly throughout the land. Finally they succeeded in in­ducing the government to arrest the Bab and his devoted secretary and put them in prison, then suspend them both on a pole in the middle of the square in the city of Tabriz, and riddle their chests with hundreds of bullets.

After the Bab was put to death and two of his followers attempted the life of Shah Naser al-Din, through the influence of the same agita­tors, Baha’u’llah was arrested by the government and imprisoned for a period of four months.

Then, through the protest of the Russian ambassador, Baha’u’llah was released and officially vindicated of all accusations, but was requested to leave His native land, to satisfy the desire of the mullahs.
By mutual agreement between Russia, Turkey, and Persia, He was sent to Baghdad, which is located near the border of Persia. Baha’u’llah remained in Baghdad nearly twelve years. While in Iraq He secluded himself in the mountains of Sulaymaniyah for two years, during which His whereabouts were unknown to all.
His Later Life and Ministry
After His return to Baghdad, Baha’u’llah proclaimed Himself to be the promised one of whom the Bab had spoken, “He Whom God Shall Manifest,” the Glory of God. This proclamation renewed the new movement and the cause spread rapidly, in spite of the persecutions. In His tablet to the Shah of Persia, Baha’u’llah said, “I was asleep on my couch: the breaths of my Lord the Merciful passed over me and awakened me from sleep; to this bear witness the denizens of the realms of His Power and His Kingdom, and the dwellers in the cities of His Glory, and Himself the True.”
After receiving this inspired message, Baha’u’llah arose with great power and energy, and devoted forty years of His life in revealing tab¬lets and uttering verses, through which He commanded His followers to hold fast to the garment of the Everlasting Father and worship God alone, to live in love and unity with each other and with all the people of the world.
He suffered hardship, calamity, and banishment to bring us from the darkness of ignorance to the light of knowledge. Through the influence of the ambassador of Persia in the Ottoman capital, engineered by the same agitating group of mullahs, Baha’u’llah was invited to come to Constantinople, then the capital of Turkey, where He resided three months as the guest of the government, then was sent to Adrianapolis 64  where He remained five years. He was then banished to the fortress of Akka, 65  residing there for twenty-five years, until the time of His departure [from this world] on May 28,  1892. 66

His Dignity in Exile
Baha’u’llah was reared in luxury while living in Tehran, and on ac-count of the high station of His father in government circles, He had the respect of all His associates. After He was divested of all earthly possessions and was requested to leave Persia, though in financial dis¬tress, He made the journey from Tehran to Baghdad with great dignity. He was contented under all conditions and invested Himself with the garment of patience at all times.
Responding to the order of the government, Baha’u’llah, accompanied by His household and some of His followers, proceeded from the city of Baghdad to the other side of the [Tigris] river, remaining in the Garden of Najib Pasha 67  for a period of twelve days, delivering the New Message to all who came.
During these twelve days, thousands of persons of all classes, government officials, representatives of other nations, theologians, merchants, and the masses as well, came to His presence, paying Him homage and wishing Him farewell.
The news of His departure spread rapidly and caused such a commotion amongst the populace that Namiq Pasha, then governor of Iraq, deemed it his duty to pay Him his respects also, calling on Him in per¬son, accompanied by another high official, though Baha’u’llah was his prisoner.

64. Adrianople, present-day Edirne, Turkey.

65. Akka is the Arabic name for the city of Acre, Israel.

66.May 29 is the officially recognized date of Baha’u’llah’s passing, but several credible sources report it as a day earlier. In addition to Mr. Bahai, Baha’u’llah’s nephew Majdeddin bin Moussa Irani and early Baha’i historians Mohammed Jawad Gazvini and Mirza Abu’l-Fadl Gulpaygani give the date as May 28 in their writings.

67. Muhammad Najib Pasha was the wali (governor) of Baghdad from 1842 to 1847. He built a palace and the attached garden, which came to be known to Baha’is as the Garden of Ridvan (“Paradise”). When Baha’u’llah and his entou­rage camped there in 1863, the garden had passed to Najib Pasha’s heirs. Today, a hospital complex stands on the site.

During the journey from Baghdad to Constantinople, which lasted about four months, He was cordially received by the people of the countryside wherever He camped, and was respected and loved by all. While confined in the fortress of Akka, not being permitted to leave the city gate, He was in great distress. However, He commanded His followers to be patient and satisfied with the Will of God; and to His last days on earth, He taught us to free ourselves from the bondage of earthly pos¬sessions, and to direct our efforts to the progress of mankind.

His Language
The native language of Baha’u’llah was modern Persian (Farsi). He also spoke the Arabic language fluently. The numerous volumes of His utterances which He left for the world bear witness to this statement. He spoke Mazandarani also, which is Persian of a different dialect, spoken in the Mazandaran province of His forefathers.
His Raiment
As far back as I can remember, Baha’u’llah adorned His head with a high-crowned round hat called a taj, made of fine felt, covered with materials embroidered with silk of the same shade—some were all white, others all red, green or gray—wound at the lower part with a small white turban. For informal occasions He wore a small cap called an arakchm, similar to the taj except shorter and lighter in weight.
He dressed in soft, light and pleasing shades. His outer robe, called a jobba, was of fine camel hair in natural or gray color. Under this He wore a second robe called a ghaba in white or gray, wound at the waist¬line with a white Persian belt called a chaal. His undergarments consisted of two pieces, always in white, white hose and handmade slippers.
His Nutriments
Baha’u’llah was very moderate in food. He partook of Persian prepared food consisting of sweets, fruits, vegetables, and some meat. He drank tea, milk, fruit juice, and very little coffee.
In His early days He smoked a Persian water pipe called a nargilet, 68  but no cigarettes. However, while still a young man, He began to abstain from smoking entirely. I remember when we were brought to the prison of Akka, and housed in the army barrack, He addressed me one day and said, “Do not get the smoking habit.” Although this was but advice, it impressed me so strongly that I never had any desire for smoking.
His Recreation
Baha’u’llah enjoyed the open spaces, fresh air and natural views. In the spring when the hills and valleys were covered with a green carpet, occasionally we were fortunate enough to spend the entire day with Him either in the garden of Ridvan 69 or the orchard called Junayna, usually leaving at daybreak and returning after sunset, and often in the moonlight. I recollect many such wonderful days which I was privileged to arrange. He admired fragrant roses and used attar of rose and rose water frequently.
Baha’u’llah spent most of His last twelve years in the Palace of Bahja (“Joy”), 70 which is located on a hill near Akka, surrounded with miles of open fields. Here He passed unto Eternity and His shrine is located next to the palace which He occupied.
His Daily Routine
Baha’u’llah was an early riser, usually at daylight. His breakfast consisted of a small cup of tea and dry rusk, 71  served after sunrise. The pilgrims were then called to His presence, the audience lasting for an hour or longer. This was followed by the appearance of the inscriber, to take dictations, until the approach of lunch time.

68. A type of hookah or narghile.
69. Ridvan, originally called Namayn, and Junayna (also spelled Junaynih) were garden retreats near Acre, frequented by Baha’u’llah after he was allowed to leave the prison fortress. The Garden of Ridvan in Israel is not to be confused with the historical location in Baghdad which was given the same name by Baha’is.
70. Usually called the Mansion of Bahji, or simply Bahji, by Baha’is today. The area where the mansion is located was known as Al-Bahja, meaning “Place of Delight.”    

71. A biscuit or twice-baked bread.

While revealing utterances to the inscriber, Baha’u’llah walked slowly back and forth in the large chamber He occupied. On other occasions, He wrote His tablets in His own handwriting, while sitting on a divan.
After lunch He retired a while; then the inscriber was called to His presence again for dictation, lasting until afternoon tea was served. Again friends and pilgrims came to His presence to receive counsel, ad¬vice, and instructions.
Supper always was served around 9 p.m., and generally He retired before midnight.
This was His daily routine. In His later years, only the followers were granted the privilege to come to the presence of Baha’u’llah, as His entire time was devoted to revealing tablets and uttering verses for the enlightenment of mankind.
Conclusion
I    hereby invite my brothers in humanity and all seekers after truth throughout the world, to come and partake of the spiritual food that is hidden in the volumes of the teachings of Baha’u’llah in my possession still unpublished.72  My entire library is open for your study, and today the people of the world are in need of the knowledge contained therein. In this invitation my desire lies only in the elevation of the thoughts of mankind, and the progress of my brothers in humanity.

72. See Appendix A for a list of volumes of Baha’u’llah’s writings as compiled by Mohammed Ali Bahai’s son Shua Ullah. Some of the writings are well known to Baha’is, but numerous tablets of Baha’u’llah remain unpublished. Mr. Bahai’s granddaughter, Negar Bahai Emsallem, has said that she thinks his private collection of Baha’i scriptures was passed down to one of her cousins, but is unsure of their present ownership or location.

Baha’u’llah said:
O people of Baha, ye have been and are the rising-places of love
and the dawning-places of the grace of God. Pollute not the
tongue with execration and reviling anyone, and protect the eye from that which is unseemly. Show what ye possess; if it is accepted, the aim is attained. If otherwise, opposition would be futile; leave him to himself and face God, the Protector, the Eternal.
Be not the cause of grief and much less the cause of corruption and strife. It is hoped that ye be brought up under the protection of the tree of Divine Grace and do that which God hath wished. Ye are all the leaves of one tree and the drops of one sea.73

73.Lawh-i-Ishraqat (“Tablet of Splendors”), Eighth Ishraq. )

With careful study of His utterances, humanity will realize Baha’u’llah’s greatness. His teachings are in harmony with science, useful in our daily affairs, and satisfying our every need.

The Cultural and Religious Precursors of Baha’ism-By Shua Ullah Behai

Shua Ullah Behai

Shua Ullah Behai (1878 – July 3,1950), also known in the Baha’i tradition as Mirza Shua’u’llah, was the son of Mohammed Ali, son of Baha’u’llah. He was Baha’u’llah’s eldest grandson. Mr. Behai was fluent in English and is the only known descendant of the Baha’i prophet to have become an American citizen.
This chapter contains most of the first two chapters of his book manuscript about the Baha’i faith. I have removed some Persian poetry and an excerpt from the writings of Professor Edward G. Browne about his meetings with the Bab’s successor Subh-i-Azal, and condensed Prof. Browne’s lengthy description of the execution of Babi martyrs, for the sake of brevity. Some of the section headings have been added.
—The Editor

The Great Culture of Iran (Persia), the Birthplace of the Baha’i Faith
The area of Iran is 1,648,000 square kilometers.13  It is situated between the following countries: to the north, the Caucasus, the Caspian Sea, and Russian Turkestan 14;  to the east, Afghanistan and British Baluchistan 15;  to the south, the Oman Sea and the Persian Gulf; to the west, Iraq and Turkey. Its population according to the last census is about 18,000,ooo. 16

 13. In 2014, it is exactly 1,648,195 square kilometers, which is 636,372 square miles.

14. Russian Turkestan was a Governor-Generalship within the Russian Empire, which included the present-day countries of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and parts of Kazakhstan.
 15. A province of British India, which was located in the western part of the present day country of Pakistan.
16. This census would have been sometime in the 1940s. The population of Iran has grown dramatically since then, reaching over 75 million.

On account of the great mountains and wide plains, the climate of Iran is of two distinct types, that of the temperate regions and the tropical zones. Few countries of such a size enjoy such a diversity of climate.
According to history, Iran was a country of ancient civilization, great empire, and the center of the art of literature, producing such a historian poet as Ferdowsi, who wrote the Shahnameh (Book of Kings) 17,  which contains over fifty thousand verses of poetry and was completed by him in the 11th century A.D. His work has been acclaimed by modern judges of literature as one of the greatest, and his millenary was celebrated all over the world in 1934.
The following is from Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh (reproduced from The Oriental Caravan ) 18:

A weary traveler sat to grieve By Gureng’s gate, at early eve,
Where fragrant gardens, filled with bloom,
Cast forth their breath of soft perfume,
And wandering o’er his brow and free,
Relieved him for a moment’s space.
But sorrow weighed upon his breast,
And dimmed the lustre of his eye;
He had no home—he sought but rest,
And laid him down to sleep—or die.

17. The Shahnameh is the national epic poem of Iran. Including both mythology and history, it tells the story of the Persian empire from the creation of the world to the Islamic conquest of Persia in the 7th century.

18. Sirdar Ikbal Ali Shah (Editor), The Oriental Caravan (New York: Claude Ken­dall, 1933), pp. 216-219. This book is a compilation of excerpts from various Middle Eastern and South Asian classical literature translated into English.

ICing Gureng’s lovely daughter lies Beside a fountain gently playing;
She marks not though the waves be bright,
Nor in the roses takes delight;
And though her maids new games devise,
Invent fresh stories to surprise,
She heeds not what each fair is saying;…
But hark! soft whispers, questions gay,
Amongst the female train prevail;
A young slave, beautiful as day,
Blushes while she tells her tale….
The princess heard: “Go hence,” she cried,
“And be the stranger’s wants supplied:
Let him beneath our shades repose,
And find a refuge for his woes.” …
Meanwhile the princess mused alone,
And thus she sighed, in mournful tone:— …
“That prince whose power was far above All those who vainly seek my love;…
His Kingdom gone, his fortune crost,
And he, perhaps, for ever lost!”
She ceased, when lo! The laughing train Came dancing back, with song and jest,
And leading, in a flowery chain,
The stranger youth their welcome guest.
’Twas thus they met—they met and gazed,
Struck by the self-same power—amazed;
Confused, admiring, pleased, distressed,
As passion rose in either breast.
The princess spoke—soft as a bird
In spring to some dear partner sighing;
And the fair stranger’s words were heard,
Sweet as the bulbul’s 19  notes replying.

19.Bulbul means nightingale in Persian.

Her long hair, streaming to the ground With odours fills the air around;
She moves to music and to song,
As the wild partridge steps along.
She leads him to her jasmine bower,
Midst fountains, birds, and blossoms sweet;
And her attendant maidens shower The sparkling wave upon his feet;…
My tale is told. Ye lovers, say,
Can ye not guess the blissful close?
How Jamshid 20  won a bride that day,
And found a balm for all his woes.

Another was the philosopher-poet Saadi, 13th century A.D., who wrote The Rose Garden (Gulistan) and The Orchard (Boston). The fol­lowing is the translation of a few verses from Gulistan:

In a public bath, one winter day,A beloved presented me with a fragrant clay.Amazingly said I! Art thou Musk or Amber?

To thine exquisite fragrance I slumber.

I was a common clay, humbly said he,

But I befriended the rose of Parsee 21

Sweet friendship of by-gone day,

Brought me the fragrance of to-day.

Take thou that fragrance from me away,

I am nothing but the same common clay.

The following is taken from Costello’s Rose Garden of Persia

Contentment (from the Boston)

Smile not, nor think the legend vain,

That in old times a worthless stone Such power in holy hands could gain,
That straight a silver heap it shone.
Thy alchemist Contentment be,
Equal is stone or ore to thee.
The infant’s pure unruffled breast,
No avarice nor pride molest:
He fills his little hands with earth,
Nor knows that silver has more worth.
The sultan sits in pomp and state,
And sees the dervish at his gate;
But yet of wealth the sage has more Than the great king, with all his store.

20. As the legend goes, Prince Jamshid became a great king who reigned for hundreds of years and commanded the powers of light and darkness. He became prideful and fell from grace, and roamed the earth as an outcast for a hundred years, but gained wisdom and regained his kingdom after marrying King Gureng’s daughter.

21. The Parsees (also spelled Parsis) are Persians who continued to follow the Zoroastrian religion, the original faith of Persia, after the arrival of the Islamic empire. A small number of Parsis remain in Iran today.

Rich is a beggar, worn and spent,
To whom a silver coin is thrown;
But Feridoun 22 23 24    was not content,
Though Ajum’s kingdom was his own.
Hafez 25 was another well-known Iranian poet, of the 14th century
A.D. The following verses by Hafez are translated by G.L. Bell: 26
The nightingale with drops of his heart’s blood Had nourished the red rose, then came a wind,
And catching at the boughs in envious mood,
A hundred thorns about his heart entwined.
Like to the parrot crunching sugar, good Seemed the world to me who could not stay The wind of Death that swept my hopes away.
Light of mine eyes and harvest of my heart,
And mine at least in changeless memory!
Ah, when he found it easy to depart,
He left the harder pilgrimage to me!

22.Louisa Stuart Costello, The Rose Garden of Persia (London: Gibbings and Company, 1899), pp. 102-103.
23. A dervish is a Sufi Muslim who follows a spiritual path of extreme poverty and asceticism.
24. Feridoun (also spelled Fereydun) was a mythical king of Persian prehistory.

25. Also spelled Hafiz.
26. Gertrude Lowthian Bell (Translator), Poems From the Divan of Hafiz (Lon¬don: William Heinemann, 1928), pp. 102-103.

Oh Camel-driver, though the cordage start,
For God’s sake help me lift my fallen load,
And Pity be my comrade of the road!
My face is seamed with dust, mine eyes are wet.
Of dust and tears the turquoise firmament Kneadeth the bricks for joy’s abode; and yet.27..  Alas, and weeping yet I make lament!
Because the moon her jealous glances set Upon the bow-bent eyebrows of my moon,
He sought a lodging in the grave—too soon!
I had not castled, and the time is gone.
What shall I play? Upon the chequered floor Of Night and Day, Death won the game—forlorn And careless now, Hafiz can lose no more.
Although Omar Khayyam’s name springs readily to mind with the mention of Iranian poetry, in his native land his fame is surpassed by that of Ferdowsi, Saadi and Hafez. The superb translation by FitzGerald 28 made him popular in the Western world as a poet.
Iran enjoyed great progress for many centuries, according to the Book of Kings (Shahnameh) which is the only [early] Iranian history in existence. Also the ancient examples of art and excavated discoveries prove this progress. Times passed as such, until the Arabs conquered the Persian empire and forced them to accept Islam by the sword.

27. Ellipsis in original book by Bell.
28 A selection of poems attributed to the uth-i2th century Persian intellectual Omar Khayyam was translated into English by Edward FitzGerald and published in 1859 under the title The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.

After a long period of oppression, the Iranians became students of the Arabic language, devout followers of the Prophet [Muhammad] and strong believers in his book, the Qur’an. Eventually they surpassed the Arabs in their language. The first Arabic dictionary was compiled by an Iranian, named Abu Tahir Majdeddin Fairuzabadi, and it is still in existence today, bearing his name.
The following well-known personages are a few of the thousands of Iranians that served in the Islamic kingdom:
® The great Imam Abu Hanifa (founder of the Hanafi sect of Islam).
® Ibn Muqla (calligrapher of the Naskh alphabet, and powerful politician who served as Grand Vizier under three Abbasid caliphs).
® Abu Ishaq Estakhri (composer of the first book on geography in Arabic).
« Abu Ali Ibn Sina 29 (philosopher, physician, and founder of the science of medicine).
® Zamakhshari (logician and grammarian).
® Abu Baler [Muhammad ibn Zalcariya] Razi (physician and mathematician).
® Fakhruddin Razi (philosopher).
® Nasir al-Din Tusi (astronomer and founder of Maragheh observatory near Tabriz).
® Imam Muhammad Al-Ghazali (theologian, philosopher, and mystic).

Shi’ism, Theocracy, and the Descent of Persia into Darkness
As the years went by, the Iranians progressed greatly both socially and politically. Then a new idea appeared in their mind, and a decision was reached to control the government through the power of religion. They hoped to regain their freedom through that channel and to re¬build their empire. They tried on several occasions to fulfill their desire, especially during the Abbasid caliphate, but at every attempt they failed.
While the Safavid rulers controlled the throne of Iran during the 16th century, realizing their numerous unsuccessful attempts to overcome the Arabian kingdom, they encouraged the mullahs (leaders of theology) to renew the Shi’ite doctrine (which was originated after the reign of Ali, the fourth caliph after Muhammad) against the other Islamic denominations—thus building a strong wall between them, owing that no barrier could be stronger than religious superstition. By this means, they sowed the seeds of hatred in the hearts of the masses.
For the enlightenment of the reader I hereby explain some of the Shi’ite doctrine. The Shi’ites believe that the true spiritual leaders after the Prophet were his descendants, and they are called Imams. The Imam is the divinely ordained successor of the Prophet, one endowed with all perfections and spiritual gifts, one whom all the faithful must obey, whose decision is absolute and final, whose wisdom is superhuman, and whose words are authoritative. The Imams, the [chosen] descendants of the Prophet, were twelve in number; therefore it is termed “Creed of the Twelve.”

29. Also known as Avicenna.
30. Twelver Shi’ism, as it is usually called, is the largest branch of Shi’ite Islam, but other types of Shi’ites also exist. For example, Zaidis believe in only five Imams, and Ismailis believe in seven.

These twelve are as follows:
1.    Ali, son-in-law of Muhammad.
2.    Hasan, son of Ali and Fatimah [the daughter of Muhammad].
3.    Hussein, [younger] son of Ali and Fatimah.
4.    Ali, son of Hussein and Shahrbanu (daughter of Yazdegerd III,
the last Sasanian 31  king), generally called Zayn al-Abedin.
5.    Muhammad Baqir, son of Zayn al-Abedin.
6.    Ja’far Sadiq, son of Muhammad Baqir.
7.    Musa Kazim, 32  son of Ja’far Sadiq.
8.    Ali Reza,33  son of Musa Kazim.
9.    Muhammad [al-Jawad] Taqi, son of Ali Reza.
10.    Ali [al-Hadi] Naqi, son of Muhammad Taqi.
11.    Hasan Askari, son of Ali Naqi.
12.    Muhammad, son of Hasan Askari and Narjis Khatun, called “Imam Mahdi.”
Imam Mahdi was born in Surra Man Ra’a,  34 Iraq, and succeeded his father in the year 260 A.H.35  [874 A.D.] The Shi’ites hold that he did not die, but disappeared in an underground passage in Surra Man Ra’a; that he still lives surrounded by a chosen band of his followers in one of the mystical cities called Jabulqa and Jabulsa; 36 and that when the fullness of time is come, when the earth is filled with injustice, and the faithful are plunged in despair, he will come forth to overthrow the infidels, establish universal peace and justice and inaugurate a millennium of blessedness. During the whole period of his Imamate, i.e. 260 A.H. until the present day, the Imam Mahdi has been invisible and inaccessible to the mass of his followers.

31. The Sasanian dynasty ruled the last Iranian empire before the coming of Islam.
32. Also spelled Musa Kadhim.

33.Also spelled Ali Ridha or Rida.
34.Present-day Samarra.
35. A.H. (i.e. anno hegirae): The year according to the Islamic calendar, which starts at the Hijra or emigration of the Prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Medina in 622 A.D.
36. Shi’ites believe the Imam Mahdi went into “occultation,” i.e. disappeared from public view, and communicated his teachings through a series of deputies for several decades. After that, the “Hidden Imam” is believed to have continued to live somewhere unknown, on earth, and will reappear at a future time of divine judgment, heralding the return of Jesus Christ. Some Shi’ites taught that the Mahdi ascended to a mystical realm between heaven and earth, instead of remaining in hiding as a supernaturally long-lived man in the physical world. The 12th century Iranian Sufi philosopher Shahab al-Din Suhrawardi provided the basis for this alternative possibility with his teachings about the “emerald cities” of “Jabalqa and Jabarsa”—spiritual places that are only accessible through special gnosis in an altered state of consciousness. Jabulqa and Jabulsa is a variation of the same, and this concept was adopted by Shi’ites of the theological school that ultimately gave rise to the Baha’i faith.

The renewal of the Shi’ite doctrine shattered the peaceful minds of Iranians, drowned them in the ocean of superstition and for two hundred years kept them in darkness. Students of history are aware of the unbearable conditions which existed in Iran from the 17th to the 19th centuries, especially during the Qajar rule. [Unnumbered people endured] extreme agonies for the freedom of their thoughts, and thou¬sands of noble souls sacrificed their lives to free their fellow beings from the clutches of religious leaders and their superstitions.
The Shaykhi Reform Movement
The era of awakening for liberation from religious orthodoxy began in Iran (Persia) in the early 19th century. The first reformer was Shaykh Ahmad Ahsa’i, born 1741 A.D.37  From his youth this great personage was a seeker of new light. He was a devout student of the Qur’an and the Shi’ite doctrine, a progressive teacher and [the founding] leader of the Shaykhi school.
At the suggestion of his spiritual advisors he journeyed to Karbala and Najaf 38 (the center for students of theology) where he resided and taught his progressive teachings. In a short time he acquired great fame and surrounded himself with many liberal-minded students. He was an advanced and independent thinker, and his explanations of doctrine appealed to the dissatisfied people. At the time, the horizon of the minds of Iranians was covered with the clouds of religious superstition; therefore the appearance of such a great sun of liberty and his sound explanation and interpretation of doctrine brought him fame and glory, and eventually he became a powerful leader. His sudden rise to popularity caused the Shah to extend to him an invitation to come to the capital for counsel and advice. Then he proceeded to Kermanshah and from there to Yazd where he resided twelve years, devoting his entire time to progressive teachings.

37.The year of birth of Shaykh Ahmad is uncertain. Different sources report it as 1741,1744, or as late as 1753.
38. These cities are in present-day Iraq.

He made several pilgrimages to Mecca, and on the last occasion he passed unto Eternity before reaching the Holy Shrine of the Kaaba in 1825 A.D. 39
Shaykh Ahmad Ahsa’i was succeeded by his devoted disciple, Haji Siyyid Kazim Rashti, who came from a prominent merchant family.
While a young man, one night in a dream this future leader was authorized by a supposed “saint” to enroll himself under the spiritual guidance of the said Ahsa’i. He proceeded accordingly and eventually became a devout disciple of the great Ahsa’i, in whose doctrine he at¬tained such a fame that after his death he was unanimously recognized as the leader of the Shaykhi school. He died at Baghdad, Iraq, in the year 1843 A.D. at the age of fifty.
This venerable teacher authorized his followers to expect the appearance of the Qa’im 40  or Imam Mahdi (said to be the spiritual return of Elijah 41 )  after his departure. He did not appoint a successor and devoted the last few years of his life to paving the way for the coming of the Mahdi and his appearance on earth.

Siyyid Ali Muhammad Shirazi, the Bab
In May 1844 A.D. there appeared in Iran a young man of twenty- four years of age, whose name was Ali Muhammad, a descendant of the Prophet. He possessed the highest degree of the power of wisdom and spiritual inspiration. At the beginning he called himself the Bab, meaning the Gate (through which to gain knowledge of truth). Afterwards he claimed to be the Qa’im or Imam Mahdi, whom the Muslims expected.
In a short time he revolutionized the thoughts of the masses. He brought them from darkness to light and from extreme religious orthodoxy to liberalism. He paved the way for the coming of the Glory of God, “He Whom God Shall Make Manifest, 42”  Baha’u’llah.

39.Different sources report the year of his death as either 1825 or 1826.
40.The Qa’im, meaning “He Who Shall Arise,” is another title for a prophetic figure expected by Shi’ite Muslims to appear on earth at the end of the age. The Qa’im is the return of the Imam Mahdi.
41. Jews expected the prophet Elijah to return to earth to announce the advent of the Messiah and the Kingdom of God. In Islam, the Mahdi is expected to play a similar role prior to the return of Christ.
42. In Persian, man yuzhiruhu’llah. This was the title by which the Bab referred to a coming messianic figure who would be even greater than himself. Baha’u’llah later claimed to be this figure.

One of the Bab’s messages was thus: “O ye people of the earth, that which was prophesied by the holy men of ancient times will shortly come to pass. The Kingdom of God shall be established upon the earth.”
His message spread rapidly throughout the land and thousands of theologians and learned students followed him. His followers were called Babis and were scattered all over Iran, but more prominently visible in the cities of Shiraz, Tabriz, Zanjan, the province of Mazandaran and the Persian province of Iraq. 43
The rapid spread of his message and the progress of his cause aroused the anger of the mullahs, as they feared the downfall of their leadership. They organized against the Bab and his followers, calling him an impostor and a magician, and finally succeeded in sowing the seed of hatred in the hearts of the ignorant masses against the Babis. They allied themselves with the governors of many provinces and caused the persecution of thousands of innocent citizens. Faithful and prominent Babis were put to death without question or judgment, and many of the governors participated in these unfortunate events to satisfy the desire of the mullahs. In spite of severe persecution the Babis became more energetic and enthusiastic in their diffusion of the message throughout the land.
The clamor of this movement commanded the attention of the Shah, who sent Sayyid Yahya Darabi, one of the highest doctors of theology, to question the Bab as to his message. After his visit to the Bab, this learned man became convinced of the truth of the Bab’s message and allied himself with the cause as a zealous believer and preacher, so the Bab’s cause became stronger as time passed.
The mullahs decided to try a new method to extinguish this great light by forcing the government to capture the Bab and put him in prison. Not satisfied with this, they finally caused his execution. The Bab and a devoted follower called Aqa Muhammad Ali 44 were together put to death in the city of Tabriz on July 9,1850 A.D.
A noted Babi historian recorded this unfortunate event as follows: 45

43. A western province of Persia, not the same as the present-day country of Iraq.
44.Muhammad Ali Zunuzi, who is known as Anis (“companion”) in the Baha’i tradition.
45. Edward G. Browne (Translator), A Traveller’s Narrative: Written to Illustrate the Episode of the Bab, Volume II. English Translation and Notes (Cambridge: University Press, 1891), pp. 43-45. The original Persian text of the book was writ¬ten by ‘Abdu’l-Baha. The translator was a British orientalist who studied the Babi and Baha’i faiths.

Next day the chief of the farrashes (jail keeper) delivered over the Bab and a young man named Aqa Muhammad Ali who was of a noble family of Tabriz to Sam Khan, colonel of the Christian regiment of Urumiyyih, 46  at the sentences of the learned divine 47 Mulla Muhammad of Mamaqan, of the second ecclesiastical authority Mirza Baqir, and of the third ecclesiastical authority Mulla Murtaza-Quli and others. An iron nail was hammered into the middle of the staircase of the very cell wherein they were imprisoned, and two ropes were hung down. By one rope the Bab was suspended and by the other rope Aqa Muhammad Ali, both being firmly bound in such wise that the head of that young man was on the Bab’s breast. The surrounding house-tops billowed with teeming crowds. A regiment of soldiers ranged itself in three files. The first file fired; then the second file, and then third file discharged volleys. From the fire of these volleys a mighty smoke was produced. When the smoke cleared away they saw that young man standing and the Bab seated… in the very cell from the staircase of which they had suspended them. To neither one of them had the slightest injury resulted.
Sam Khan the Christian asked to be excused (from the second attempt of the execution of the Bab); the turn of service came to another regiment, and the chief of the farrashes withheld his hand. Aqa Jan Beg of Khamsa,48  colonel of the body-guard, advanced; and they again bound the Bab together with that young man to the same nail….
The colonel of the regiment appeared in person: and it was before noon on the twenty-eighth of [the Islamic month of] Sha‘ban in the year [A.H.] one thousand two hundred and sixty-six (the 9th of July, 1850 A.D.) Suddenly he gave orders to fire. At this volley the bullets produced such an effect that the breasts of the victims were riddled, and their limbs were completely dissected, except their faces, which were but little marred.

46.Present-day Urmia, Iran.
47.An old-fashioned term for a cleric or theologian.
48. A historical province of Persia, usually spelled Khamseh, which is part of the present-day province of Zanjan, Iran.

Three days after the execution the remains were taken away by a few Babis in the darkness of night. Kept in a hiding place for years, they finally were brought to the Holy Land and buried on Mount Carmel in Haifa.

His Holiness the Bab is recognized as Mahdi and Elijah, and this is proven by his works and teachings entitled Bayan.49  He says:
The whole Bayan revolves round the saying of Him Whom God Shall Make Manifest.50 A thousand perusals of the Bayan are not equal to one verse of what shall be revealed by Him Whom God Shall Make Manifest.  I swear by the most holy essence of God, Glorious and Splendid is He, that in the day of the appearance of Him Whom God Shall Make Manifest, if one should hear a single verse from Him and recite it, it is better than that he should recite the Bayan a thousand times. The Bayan today is in the stage of seed but in the day of Him Whom God Shall Make Manifest it will arrive at the degree of fruition. All the splendor of the Bayan is “He Whom God Shall Make Manifest.”

49. The Bayan (Arabic: “exposition”) is the principal scriptural text of the Bab.
50. Cf. John the Baptist’s statement regarding Jesus, the Messiah: “He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.” (John 1:27). The Bab claimed to play a similar role as John the Baptist, who, in the Christian tradition, is regarded as the return of Elijah.

The Seven Martyrs of Tehran
The following narrative appeared in the works of the late Professor Edward G. Browne of the University of Cambridge, England, published in the year 1891: 51
“This year,” says Lady Sheil 52  writing in September 1850, “seven Babis were executed at Tehran for an alleged conspiracy against the life of the Prime Minister [of Persia]. Their fate excited general sympathy, for every one knew that no criminal act had been committed, and suspected the accusation to be a pretence. Besides this Babism had spread in Tehran too. They died with the utmost firmness. Previously to decapitation they received an offer of pardon, on the condition of reciting the Kalima, or creed, that Muhammad is the Prophet of God. It was rejected, and these visionaries died steadfast in their faith. The Persian minister was ignorant of the maxim that persecution was proselytism.”53 54

Amongst these seven—“the Seven Martyrs” as they are called by the Babis—was the Bab’s uncle Haji Mirza Seyyid ‘Ali. The other sufferers were Haji Mulla Isma’il of Qum, Mirza Qurban ‘Ali the dervish, Aqa Seyyid Huseyn of Turshiz the mujtahid,i2 Haji Mulla Naqi of Kirman, Mirza Muhammad Huseyn of Tabriz, and Mulla
Sadiq of Maragha.(Some sources list Haji Muhammad-Taqi Kirmani and Aqa Sayyid Murtada Zanjani among the seven martyrs, instead of Haji Mulla Naqi and Mulla Sadiq.)

Of their martyrdom the Tarikh-i-Jadid( A chronicle of the Babi movement written by the Babi historian Mirza Husayn Hamadani, which was translated into English by Edward G. Browne)  gives a long and touching account, on which I here append an abridgement.

What led to this tragic event was, as stated by Lady Sheil, a report conveyed to Mirza Taqi Khan(Mirza Taghi Khan Farahani, also known as Amir Kabir, served as the chief minister to Naser al-Din Shah from 1848 to 1851.) the Prime Minister that the  Babis in Tehran meditated a rising. Thirty-eight persons suspected of belonging to the obnoxious sect were therefore arrested and cast into prison. After a few days it was decided that all of these who would consent to renounce or repudiate their connection with the Bab and his doctrines should be released, but that those who refused to do so should suffer death.

Accordingly of the thirty-eight prisoners seven determined to adopt the more courageous course, while the others for various reasons were not prepared to forfeit their lives, and decided to recant. The latter were therefore released; the former were led out to die.
In spite of the widespread sympathy felt for the sufferers there were not lacking wretches to deride and mock them as they were led forth to the place of execution. Some of these threw stones at them; others confined themselves to abuse and raillery.
When the executioners had completed their bloody work, the rabble onlookers, awed for a while by the patient courage of the martyrs, again allowed their ferocious fanaticism to break out in insults to the mortal remains of those whose spirits had now  passed beyond the power of their malice. They cast stones and filth at the motionless corpses… Nor would they suffer their bodies to be interred in a burial-ground, but cast them into a pit outside the Gate of Shah ‘Abdu’l-‘Azim,( One of the entrances to the old city of Tehran) which they then filled up.

53. From Lady Sheil’s book, Glimpses of Life and Manners in Persia.
54. A mujtahid is a Muslim legal scholar with the authority to interpret Islamic law.

After detailing the occurrences briefly set forth above, the Babi historian proceeds to point out the special value and unique character of the testimony given by the “Seven Martyrs.” They were men representing all the more important classes in Persia— divines, dervishes, merchants, shop-keepers, and government officials; they were men who had enjoyed the respect and consideration of all; they died fearlessly, willingly, almost eagerly, declining to purchase life by that mere lip-denial, which, under the name of kitman or taqiyya, is recognized by the Shi’ites as a perfectly justifiable subterfuge in case of peril;… and they sealed their faith with their blood in the public square of the Persian capital wherein is the abode of the foreign ambassadors accredited to the court of the Shah. And herein the Babi historian is right: even those who speak severely of the Babi movement generally, characterizing it as a communism destructive of all order and all morality, express commiseration for these guiltless victims.

Fatimah Baraghani, Called Tahirih or Qurratu’l-‘Ayn
The disciples of the Bab included many spiritual leaders of whom historians have spoken with great reverence. Among them was a great soul, a wonderful woman who discarded the veil  and preached the new message to the masses. She was called Qurratu’l-Ayn [“Solace of the Eyes”], and Tahirih 55 (meaning “Pure”). A daughter of a theologian and well-informed student, she served the cause of the Bab with great vigor and enthusiasm.

55. Tahirih is best known for her radical act of removing her veil at a Babi religious conference, defying the strict interpretation of Islamic traditions of modesty which required women to cover their faces in front of men outside their family. The Bab supported Fatimah Baraghani’s courageous action, which resulted in her arrest, and he gave her the new name Tahirih to affirm her purity. The Arabic word tahira means “pure one (female).” The alternative spelling Tahireh is closest to the preferred pronunciation among Baha’is (TAH- her-ay), which reflects a Persian dialect.

Of this noble soul an English author writes:
The appearance of such a woman as Qurratu’l-Ayn is in any country and any age a rare phenomenon, but in such a country as Persia it is prodigy—nay, almost a miracle. Alike in virtue of her marvelous beauty, her rare intellectual gifts, her fervid eloquence, her fearless devotion, and her glorious martyrdom, she stands forth incomparable and immortal amidst her countrywomen. Had the Babi religion no other claim to greatness, this were sufficient – that it produced a heroine like Qurratu’l-‘Ayn. 56

56. Edward G. Browne, A Traveller’s Narrative: Written to Illustrate the Episode of the Bab, Volume II. English Translation and Notes (Cambridge: University Press, 1891), p. 309.

This venerable lady was a poet also. The same author attributes the following verses to her:
The effulgence of thy face flashed forth and the rays of thy-visage arose on high;
Why lags the word “Am I not your Lord?’ “Yea, that thou art” let us make reply.
“Am I not’s” appeal from thy drum to greet what “Yeas” do the drums of devotion beat;
At the gate of my heart I behold the feet and the tents of the host of calamity.
That fair moon’s love for me, I trow, is enough, for he laughed at the hail of woe,
And exulting cried as he sank below, “The Martyr of Karbala am I.”
When he heard my death-wail drear, for me he prepared, and arranged my gear for me,
He advanced to lament at my bier for me, and o’er me wept right bitterly.
What harm if thou with the fire of amaze should’st set my Sinai- heart ablaze
Which thou first mad’st fast in a hundred ways but to shake and shatter so ruthlessly?
To convene the guests to his feast of love all night from the angel-host above
Peals forth this summons ineffable “Hail, sorrow-stricken com-munity!”
Can a scale of the fish of amaze like thee aspire to sing of Being’s Sea?
Sit still like Tahirih, hearkening to what the monster of “No” doth cry.

Qurratu’l-Ayn, like many of the Bab’s disciples, was executed in Tehran in the year 1852 A.D. The account of her execution varies but the most authentic is thus: After extreme tortures she was cast alive into a dry well which was filled with stones. Dr. Jakob Eduard Polak of Vienna, Austria, formerly physician to the Shah and professor at the Medical College of Tehran, happened to be an eyewitness to the execution. He writes of the horrible cruelties perpetrated on the Babis, their extraordinary fortitude, the tortures inflicted on the beautiful Qurratu’l-Ayn, and the superhuman courage wherewith she endured her lingering death.

57. These observations are recorded in Dr. Polak’s 1865 book, Persien. Das Land und seine Bewohner.

Mirza Yahya Nuri, Called Subh-i-Azal

Mirza Yahya Subh-i-Azal 58  was born in 1828 A.D.59 He was appointed by His Holiness the Bab to be his successor, but when Baha’u’llah proclaimed himself the one “Whom God Shall Make Manifest,” Mirza Yahya denied him, and therefore he lost the respect and support of the majority of the Babis.

In the summer of 1868 he was banished by the Turkish government to Famagusta, Cyprus. After the British occupation of that island in 1878 he was set free, but he preferred to remain there with the members of his household. He kept in seclusion and rarely made public appearances.

58. A younger half-brother of Baha’u’llah, who also made prophetic claims. His followers called him by the title Subh-i-Azal, which means “Morning of Eternity”.
59. According to most sources he was actually born in 1831.

He passed unto Eternity on April 29,1912 at Famagusta, Cyprus.

The Origin of the Baha’i Movement – By Kamar Bahai

Kamar 1 Bahai (October 5,1904 – November 10,1970) was a grand-daughter of Baha’u’llah through his son Badi Ullah. This introductory essay about the origin of the Baha’i faith and its founder is compiled from part of a circular letter or pamphlet that she wrote in September 1952 called “The Bahai Movement” and the entirety of another one she wrote in January 1953 called “Baha U’llah.” Both were originally written in English and Arabic versions, as were all the letters and essays of Mrs. Bahai that are reproduced in this book.
—The Editor

The Baha’i Movement
The reader has noticed that the local newspapers, Hebrew and English, have allotted space to writers who attempted insofar as they were acquainted with the subject to publish information regarding the essence of the Baha’i movement….
Now by virtue of my personal status as granddaughter of Baha’u’llah, the founder of the movement, and in response to many wishes expressed and questions set down in numerous letters I have received from Israel and abroad following the publication of my circular No. 2, I feel bound to put before the reader a concise and clear exposition of the essence and teachings of the movement….       10  11

10.   Also spelled Qamar.

11.  A previous circular letter by Mrs. Bahai, reproduced in Chapter 33.

Let me now take the reader back to Persia, the birthplace of the movement, to Persia the all powerful who bestowed an unrivaled civilization to the world, who produced great kings, statesmen, poets and philosophers, and let us together turn over the pages of history until we reach the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century. Now we find that the Icings are either too weak or too cruel, the religious heads fanatical to the extreme, and the people sunk into ignorance, for how could education be encouraged when science and knowledge were looked upon as hostile forces working against religion? Therefore with corruption prevailing in the government, with fanaticism replacing religion, and with an economy in confusion, the country was about to collapse.
Under the circumstances it was inevitable that a social revolution should occur. A distinguished reformer rose to lead the revolution against the then-existing evils. By virtue of his fiery spirit, his eloquence, convincing logic and peerless courage, he was able to enflame the feelings of the people and create an enthusiasm among the intellectual class whose members were scattered all over Persia but had long been waiting for the consummation of the prophecy which foretold the imminent appearance of a great reformer.
He laid down the foundations which afford a firm basis for unity, universal peace and goodwill, for the search after truth, the oneness of mankind, the unity of religion, of races, of East and West, the reconciliation of religion and science, the eradication of prejudice and superstition, the equality of men and women, the establishment of justice and righteousness, the setting up of a supreme [inter] national tribunal, the unification of languages and the compulsory diffusion of knowledge. This moral and spiritual reform and ideal progressive movement aimed at elevating humanity, socializing religion, unifying the fundamental ideals of the world and harmonizing the conflicting interests of nations.
Dear reader, if you scrutinize the above-mentioned ideal principles propounded by the founder of the movement, you will discover that they are for the interest and happiness of humanity. The Baha’i movement has preached these humanitarian principles from the beginning of the 19th century.
Baha’u’llah
God’s revelation is like a crystal fountain that flows into the hearts of the prophets from time to time.
This fountain, crossing the life of Zoroaster, produced through his teachings great kings, experienced politicians, wise philosophers, inspired poets and outstanding men of art.
That same fountain inspired the great Buddha, who came as a huge cloud and showered his principles and quenched the thirst of millions of people.
It overwhelmed the quiet life of Confucius, and made the Chinese people a cultured and pious nation.
It found its way into Moses’ heart, as a result of which the desert blossomed in fruit and flower.
It made a deep incision into Jesus Christ’s soul, and then the scent of the flowers of love perfumed the lives of the believers.
It penetrated with violence and turmoil into the Arabian desert, where Muhammad, the irrigator watered the fields of knowledge, art and science.
And now this current of revelation struck the hearts of the Baha’i leaders. Mirza Husayn Ali, later named Baha’u’llah, was born in the city of Nur, Persia in the year 1817. He was the same reformer whose imminent appearance was prophesied by Mirza Ali Muhammad “A1 Bah” 12  when the latter started his movement in May 1844, in which he declared that the world with its methods and worn-out traditions was about to collapse and a new free and strong world would replace it.

12.   Generally known as the Bab, his title al-Bab means “the Gate” or “the Door” in Arabic.

Baha’u’llah began his revolutionary mission in 1863 and waged a relentless war against the worn-out traditions and the forces of evil, as a result of which he was stripped of his hereditary title as a noble in the Persian Court and suffered the loss of his vast estates through confiscation.
He proclaimed the end of the night of aggression and cruel fanaticism and prophesied the dawn of peace and brotherhood, preaching the oneness of Earth, race and religion.
And he is the one who said that all the human race springs from one source and the apparent differences result from differences of en¬vironment and degrees of culture, and that humanity is nothing else but one family. After all, God created the Earth without boundaries or frontiers.
The founders of the great religions in the world are but inspired people carrying holy messages to different corners of the world at dif¬ferent intervals of time.
Baha’ism is not an organization but a system of thought and a new way of living.
The effect of this was that the authorities of the state together with the authorities of religion combined, arrested and imprisoned Baha’u’l- lah and later exiled him with his family and a group of his followers across the Persian border. Baghdad then became his residence.
During the first twelve years of his exile in Baghdad, the Baha’i movement expanded and spread, for the suffering which he experi¬enced and the hardships which beset him did not stop him from delivering his message. Men and women from various regions flocked to quench their thirst from this sweet and holy fountain.
Later he was exiled anew to Constantinople 13 and from there to [Adrianople] 14 and at last to the fortress of Acre. 15 From that impenetrable fortress, this great prisoner spread his teachings of love, brotherhood, peace and justice to the East and West. From within the wall of this great fortress, Baha’u’llah sent his messages to the kings, emperors and rulers of the world, in which he showed them the way to salvation and urged them to put an end to the rule of violence and establish a reign of justice and brotherhood, and to erect the foundations for a per¬manent international parliament.

13.Present-day Istanbul.
14.Present-day Edirne, Turkey. Mrs. Bahai erroneously wrote Adana, another Turkish city, in the original document.
15. The city of Acre, Israel, is also commonly known as Akko in Hebrew and Akka in Arabic. It was the site of a Crusader fortress which was later rebuilt by the Ottomans and used as a prison.

These principles mentioned above, preached by Baha’u’llah with great power of Spirit, were transmitted to the President of the United States of America, to the King of Prussia, to the Emperor of Austria, to the Tsar of Russia, to Napoleon III, to Queen Victoria, to the Sultan of Turkey, to the Shah of Persia, and the Holy Pope.
After 40 years of exile and continuous labor and after the martyrdom of 20,000 of his followers, Baha’u’llah died in 1892, leaving a will to his eldest son, Abbas Effendi, to be succeeded by his second son, Mohammed Ali Effendi, assigning to them the spiritual leadership of the movement and the responsibility of carrying out his mission of brotherhood and peace.

Preface – Eric Stetson

The Paradox of the Baha’i Faith
In 1891, Mirza Husayn Ali Nuri, a Persian nobleman in exile who called himself Baha’u’llah (“The Glory of God”), wrote the following words, claiming to be revealing God’s message for a new era of human civilization:
The first Glad-Tidings… is that the law of holy war hath been blotted out from the Book [i.e. the scriptures of religion]…. The sec¬ond Glad-Tidings: It is permitted that the peoples and kindreds of the world associate with one another with joy and radiance. O people! Consort with the followers of all religions in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship.1
In his last will and testament, Baha’u’llah wrote:

Every receptive soul who hath in this Day inhaled the fragrance of His garment and hath, with a pure heart, set his free towards the all-glorious Horizon [i.e. the highest heaven] is reckoned among the people of Baha [i.e. as Baha’is]… The religion of God is for love and unity; make it not the cause of enmity or dissension.1 & 2

  1. Lawh-i-Bisharat (“Tablet of Glad-Tidings”). Official Baha’i translation in Tablets of Baha’u’lldh Revealed After the Kitab-i-Aqdas (Wilmette, III.: US Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1988 pocket-size edition), pp. 21-22.
  2. Kitab-i-Ahd (“Book of the Covenant”). Official Baha’i translation in ibid., p. 220.

Baha’u’llah’s first son and successor, Abbas Effendi, who called himself ‘Abdu’l-Baha (“Servant of the Glory”), wrote the following in his own will:
So intense must be the spirit of love and loving kindness, that the stranger may find himself a friend, the enemy a true brother, no difference whatsoever existing between them. For universality is of God and all limitations earthly….
Consort with all the peoples, kindreds and religions of the world with the utmost truthfulness, uprightness, faithfulness, kindliness, good-will and friendliness, that all the world of being may be filled with the holy ecstasy of the grace of Baha, that ignorance, enmity, hate and rancor may vanish from the world and the darkness of estrangement amidst the peoples and kindreds of the world may give way to the Light of Unity. Should other peoples and nations be unfaithful to you show your fidelity unto them, should they be unjust toward you show justice towards them, should they keep aloof from you attract them to yourselves, should they show their enmity be friendly towards them, should they poison your lives, sweeten their souls, should they inflict a wound upon you, be a salve to their sores. Such are the attributes of the sincere! Such are the attributes of the truthful. 3
However, in the very same document, ‘Abdu’l-Baha also wrote:
And now, one of the greatest and most fundamental principles of the Cause of God is to shun and avoid entirely the Covenant-breakers, for they will utterly destroy the Cause of God, ex-terminate His Law and render of no account all efforts exerted in the past….
Beware lest ye approach this man [i.e. the chief of the “Covenant-breakers”], for to approach him is worse than approaching fire! …
A thousand times shun his company…. Watch and examine; should anyone, openly or privily, have the least connection with him, cast him out from your midst, for he will surely cause disruption and mischief. 4
He was spealdng of his own brother Mohammed Ali Bahai, and most of the rest of their family, their father’s lifelong secretary, and numerous friends and supporters of Mr. Bahai, all of whom he had expelled from the new religious community. What was this “Covenant¬breaking” that was so grave an offense that it would cause ‘Abdu’l-Baha to make a special exception to his own teachings of universal fellowship and forbearance, and instead urge his followers to enter into the sort of adversarial stance he had described as the “darkness of estrangement”?
The specific accusations by ‘Abdu’l-Baha against Mr. Bahai are out-lined in his will, and were the basis for denying this younger brother the successorship that their father had envisioned for his second son,  who, like Abbas Effendi, had been an active leader in the formative years of the Baha’i faith. The accusations are serious and will be ad¬dressed in this book—both what ‘Abdu’l-Baha alleged, which has been portrayed as unchallenged fact in official Baha’i histories and commentaries about the religion’s “Covenant” of institutional authority, as well as Mohammed Ali Bahai’s responses to the charges, which have never before been published—and furthermore, some of the counter-charges made by partisans of Mr. Bahai against ‘Abdu’l-Baha.
Much more important than any of these accusations, however, is that in the formal excommunication of his brother, ‘Abdu’l-Baha severed one of the most significant veins of Baha’i thought from the continued development of the faith. Mr. Bahai was an articulate and respected voice for an interpretation of Baha’ism centered on individual conscience and freedom from authoritarian religious leadership. His supporters called themselves “Unitarian” Baha’is, because of their emphasis on the oneness of God and the non-divinity and essential fallibility of the human leaders of religions—including ‘Abdu’l-Baha. In contrast, mainstream Baha’is today believe that ‘Abdu’l-Baha and his chosen successor Shoghi Effendi Rabbani—known in Baha’i parlance as the “Master” and the “Guardian” respectively—were infallible and that their teachings can never be changed by future Baha’i leaders. This belief has locked in the mainstream Baha’i community to some interpretations and policies that are difficult to defend in the 21st century, most notably, the absolute exclusion of women from serving on the highest Baha’i institution, the Universal House of Justice.
The estranged relationship between Baha’u’llah’s sons, more than any other feet or thread of Baha’i history, changed the Baha’i faith from what might have become an Islamic-inspired liberal spiritual tradition analogous to the Christian-sprung free-thinking pluralism of the Unitarian Universalist church, into what Dr. Juan R. I. Cole, professor of Middle Eastern history at the University of Michigan, has described as a faith community with strict “social control mechanisms” such as “mandatory prepublication censorship of everything Baha’is publish about their religion, administrative expulsion, blackballing, shunning and threats of shunning.”6  Dr. Cole, a former member of the Baha’i community who left in 1996 under threat of excommunication and shunning, is one of the foremost scholars of a faith he considers to be “curiously off-limits to careful investigation.”7 Other distinguished Baha’i scholars, such as Drs. John and Linda Walbridge, likewise have resigned their membership after being threatened by Baha’i officials for seeking greater openness of scholarly dialogue and administrative reform of the faith. 8

3. The Will And Testament of‘Abdu’l-Baha (Wilmette, 111.: US Bahai Publishing Trust, 1990 reprint), Part One, pp. 13-14.

4. Ibid., Part Two, pp. 20-21.

5. Baha’u’llah wrote in his will, “We have surely chosen the Mightiest (Akbar) [i.e. Mohammed Ali Bahai] after the Greatest (A’zam) [i.e. Abbas Effendi] as a command from the All-Knowing, the Omniscient.” See the last section of Chapter 6.

6. “The Baha’i Faith in America as Panopticon, 1963-1997.” Originally published in The Journalfor the Scientific Study of Religion, Volume 37, No. 2 (June 1998): 234-248. Available online at http://www-personal.umich.edu/~jrcole/Bahai/ 1999/jssr/bhjssr.htm

7. Ibid.
8. Dr. John Walbridge is a professor of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at Indiana University. His late wife, Dr. Linda Walbridge, served as deputy di-rector of the Middle East Institute at Columbia University in the 1990s and taught anthropology at Indiana University. The issues and events that led them, Dr. Cole and others to leave the Baha’i faith are described in an academic article by Karen Bacquet, “Enemies Within: Conflict and Control in the Baha’i Community,” originally published in Cultic Studies Journal, Volume 18:109.

The Need for Critical Baha’i Scholarship
Although Juan Cole and the other reform-minded Baha’i scholars did not call for a reevaluation of the great schism that occurred in the Baha’i faith between the followers of two of Baha’u’llah’s sons—focus¬ing instead on modern debates—a fresh and open-minded examina¬tion of the earliest debate about the nature and extent of Baha’i insti¬tutional authority is in fact long overdue, and could shed much light on how this religion, which paradoxically began as a movement against the stultifying authoritarianism of Shi’ite Islam, eventually adopted some similar characteristics. Other alternative Baha’i groups and re¬form movements have come and gone, none ever enjoying the kind of credibility and potential that the Unitarian Baha’is had in their heyday. After all, most of Baha’u’llah’s own children and grandchildren were Unitarian Baha’is—a circumstance and significance that cannot be rep¬licated.
The last books by adherents of Mohammed Ali Bahai were pub¬lished in the early 1900s, before his sect gradually faded away into ob¬scurity and disappeared. Since then, the only book I am aware of that even attempts a degree of objectivity in presenting their point of view was The Baha’i Faith: Its History and Teachings, by William McElwee Miller, published in 1974. Rev. Miller was a Christian minister whose purpose was, at least somewhat, to deter people from converting to the Baha’i faith, and therefore his book should not be taken as the last word on these issues. Moreover, it is a broad overview of the Baha’i religion which was not intended to delve deeply into the lives, testimonies, and arguments of the various members of Baha’u’llah’s family and other key figures in the faith during the period of open schism—though to its credit, it does at least discuss the schism and the basic position of both sides, which is more than can be said for most introductions to the Baha’i faith. New and more extensive scholarship on this specific sub¬ject has been needed for decades, and finally is brought forward in A 140. Available online at http://www.angelfire.com/ca3/bigquesti0ns/enemies .html. See also “The Talisman Crackdown” at http://www.angelf1re.com/ca3/ bigquestions/talisman.html

Lost History of the Baha’i Faith—which hopefully will not be the last book to cover this critical ground with the goal of objectivity.
What makes this new book special—other than the fact that its in-triguing subject matter has mostly been ignored for nearly a century— is that most of its contents were written by the immediate family of the Baha’i prophet himself. It is thus a unique and crucially important com-pilation of the -views and memories of people who intimately knew the founder of the Baha’i faith, who believed him to be the new messenger of God for modern times, yet who, because of some combination of doctrinal disagreements and personal quarrels, were not allowed by their own relatives to participate in the religious community bearing his name. I contend that it is impossible to have a clear and balanced understanding of the Baha’i faith, its historical development, its cur¬rent challenges and future potential, without reading A Lost History of the Baha’i Faith with a sincerely open mind.
As editor, I have attempted to order and annotate the primary source materials that comprise this book in a way that presents a co¬herent narrative and which makes them accessible and understandable to everyone, including people who know little about the Baha’i faith. Thus, this book can serve as a first introduction to this fascinating re¬ligion of the modern era, while at the same time bringing to light— rather than avoiding or glossing over—some of the most controversial episodes and debates of its history.
Manuscript by Shua Ullah Behai
Most of the chapters of this book are reproduced, in some cases nearly verbatim, from an unpublished English-language book written in the mid 1940s by Shua Ullah Behai. The manuscript, titled simply Bahai Faith, included not only his own writings but also writings by other family members, especially Mohammed Ali Bahai, his father; ‘Abdu’l-Baha, his uncle; and Baha’u’llah, his grandfather; as well as sev¬eral other early Baha’is and historians of the faith. Many of these writ¬ings, including some of the words of Baha’u’llah, are original transla¬tions by Mr. Behai.
Shua Ullah Behai’s manuscript was not a highly sectarian or polem¬ical work. Although it is impossible for anything a believer writes about religion to be completely objective, Mr. Behai attempted to tell the Baha’i story in a way that was respectful of people he disagreed with, and focused on presenting facts rather than making judgments. Al¬though his book reflected the overall perspective of the Unitarian Baha’i tradition he favored, it was not a one-sided account of the Baha’i faith but a compilation of various points of view including his own.
A Lost History of the Baha’i Faith includes most of the book Shua Ullah Behai wrote and compiled, as well as some additional texts that are relevant to the narrative. This book is an attempt to expand upon and update Mr. Behai’s work in keeping with the spirit of his manu¬script, letting key figures and witnesses of Baha’i history speak for themselves—especially those whose voices were suppressed and whose stories have been forgotten or neglected.
Some of the material I have added is more partisan in taking the side of Mr. Behai’s father and portraying ‘Abdu’l-Baha in a negative light, compared to Mr. Behai’s own writings and especially those of the elder Mr. Bahai, who took pains to avoid harsh criticisms or judgments of his brother from whom he had been estranged. I have included the more partisan material for three reasons: First, the main purpose of Shua Ullah Behai’s book was to provide important historical testimonies that would otherwise be ignored, and I feel that the passage of time and my distance from the Baha’i family feud make me capable of dis¬cussing material which he may have been reluctant to include out of respect for his famous uncle’s reputation or for fear of coming across as personally biased—material which nevertheless ought to be presented in context and considered by anyone who wants to investigate the is¬sues objectively. Second, I feel that it is instructional for the reader to observe the differences in tone and content between Mohammed Ali Bahai’s own statements and some other critics of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, as this sheds light on the character of the man Baha’u’llah intended to become his second successor and the significant and perhaps under-recognized role that other Baha’is played in the schism. Third, the testimonies of two of the writers I added, Mohammed Jawad Gazvini and Rosamond Templeton, corroborate Mr. Bahai’s claim that ‘Abdu’l-Baha sought to hide part of Baha’u’llah’s will and would not permit the document to be disseminated without his own editorial control—a disturbing possibility that deserves scholarly consideration of all sources available which may either refute or confirm its likelihood.
The focus of A Lost History as I have reconstructed it is to relate the early history and teachings of the Baha’i faith through the eyes of some of its most intimate and marginalized adherents. To keep this the main focus and reduce distractions from the flow of the story, I have tightened up some chapters which contained lengthy unabridged selections from writings already published elsewhere. I have also somewhat reordered the contents of Mr. Behai’s manuscript. Minor editing has been done to all the documents included in this new version of the book, to modernize and improve the English writing of the authors and translators, who were not native speakers; but I have tried to avoid the kind of editing that would significantly alter their writing style.
Throughout the book, text enclosed in parentheses is either original to the author of the primary source document or, in most cases, explanatory additions by the translator (e.g. Shua Ullah Behai). Bracketed text and footnotes have been added by this editor to further assist the reader. I have extensively annotated some chapters, in particular, where detailed explanations are needed either to clarify or raise doubts about the meaning of the author, or to provide relevant background information.
How Unitarian Were the Unitarian Baha’is?
Editing Shua Ullah’s Behai’s manuscript required grappling with an interesting theological issue. Both Mr. Behai and his father were native speakers of Persian and Arabic, the script of which does not have capi¬tal letters. As a result, Mr. Behai’s English writings as well as his translations of his father’s writings exhibit excessive and irregular capitali¬zation of words. This has been corrected in the edited version. However, he was also inconsistent in capitalizing pronouns in reference to the religious leaders regarded by Baha’is as “Manifestations of God,” in¬cluding Baha’u’llah, which means that the editor could either leave the irregularities in the text (annoying the reader) or decide on a single, consistent style (obscuring the authors’ diverse and complex views). Instead of these problematic options, I have edited the text to use either capital or lowercase “he” based on what I have been able to determine about the beliefs and intentions of the author at the time when each document was written. In some cases it depends on the tenor and purpose of a particular document or its intended audience. In other cases it depends on the author, since some authors demonstrated an obvious tendency to deify Baha’u’llah whereas other authors did not present him that way. For documents included in this book that have already been published elsewhere, I have been less inclined to change the capitalization of pronouns, but have done so occasionally.
The capitalization pattern in the original documents written or translated by Mr. Behai is worth noting: more frequent capitalization of pronouns in reference to Baha’u’llah, less frequent capitalization in reference to other Manifestations of God; more frequent capitaliza¬tion in reference to Baha’u’llah in his earlier writings, and no capital¬ization at all of pronouns referring to Manifestations in the last extant document he is known to have written (a speech he gave in 1947). The theological significance of these facts may be debated, but it is my con¬sidered opinion that the observed patterns and changes are not accidental.
In the early 1900s, the Unitarian Baha’is tended to exalt Baha’u’llah’s divinity as greater than that of other great religious leaders, with the possible exception of Jesus Christ. A prominent advocate of this view was Ibrahim Kheiralla, the first Baha’i missionary to the United States, who emphasized Baha’u’llah’s station as the Return of Christ and the “Everlasting Father” of Biblical prophecy, and downplayed the station of Baha’u’llah’s forerunner the Bab and other religious figures usually thought by Baha’is to be Divine Manifestations rather than mere prophets.
Mohammed Ali Bahai held and expressed what might, in Christian terms, be termed a “high Christology” regarding Baha’u’llah—perhaps to some degree as a way of drawing a sharper distinction between the station of the Manifestation and that of‘Abdu’l-Baha, his successor. Because Mr. Bahai was regarded by Unitarian Baha’is as an authoritative successor to Baha’u’llah, this view carried a lot of weight among his fol-lowers during his lifetime.
After his death, however, it appears that a true theological unitaryanism began to emerge within the Unitarian Baha’i tradition. Among adherents of the tradition who left behind writings, both Baha’u’llah’s grandson ShuaUllah and granddaughter Kamar Bahai seemed to hu-manize all the prophets, including Baha’u’llah, in their presentations of the Baha’i faith near the end of their lives. In the mid 1900s, both of them come across as spiritual progressives even by today’s standards— fully embracing a liberal, open-minded view of religion while continu¬ing to believe in its divine inspiration. Today, Negar Bahai Emsallem, daughter of Kamar and niece of Shua Ullah, could be fairly described as a liberal Baha’i, Unitarian and Universalist, who reveres but does not deify the founders of the great religions.
Motives and Intentions of the Editor
I feel that it would be appropriate for me to say a few words about why I have decided to compile and edit the primary source documents in this book and bring it to publication. The book was not published by a vanity press; I was paid for my work as editor. However, I would have been more than happy to serve in this capacity without compen¬sation, and in fact I began compiling the documents and exploring op¬tions for publication more than a year before Vox Humri Media took on the project and hired me.
My interest in helping to get this book into print is for three rea¬sons. First, I am a former member of the Baha’i faith community, but still believe in most of the principles taught by Baha’u’llah. I became a Baha’i in college and left the faith after about four years, in 2002, because I found organized Baha’ism to be too rigid in its doctrines and too focused on obedience to Baha’i religious leaders past and present. As a religious studies major who had been considering a career in academia, I was especially concerned about official Baha’i censorship of dissenting viewpoints, and the overall culture of intellectual conformity within the Baha’i community. It seemed inconceivable to me, for example, that any legitimate religious scholar could tolerate a policy such as “pre-publication review,” in which a committee of Baha’i officials must censor and approve all books and academic articles written by Baha’is about their religion. I felt that the Baha’i faith needed to be reformed, but reform was not something that Baha’is were allowed to discuss. Feeling my spirit called in other directions, I eventually became a liberal Christian and Unitarian Universalist.
A few years ago I read some out-of-print books on the internet, and was fascinated to discover that the earliest “Covenant-breakers” were expelled from the Baha’i community precisely because they shared the desire for a more free-thinking, liberal Baha’i faith. It is not easy to learn this, because the evidence for this fact has been omitted from recently published histories of the religion; and even in the past, the reason for the rebellion of some early Baha’i insiders was glossed over as simply a stubborn refusal to obey legitimate Baha’i leaders. Although many Baha’is in recent times have left the Baha’i community or even the faith itself for the same basic reason they did conscientious disagreement with Baha’i leaders’ claims to be the infallible representative of God— surprisingly little has been written by religious scholars or historians about the fact that this kind of dissent is nothing new, but is part of a long, rich tradition of liberal-minded “dissident” Baha’is led by members of Baha’u’llah’s own immediate family.
I believe this alternative Baha’i tradition of resistance to centralized, absolute religious authority, which dates back to the time of Baha’u’llah’s passing, should be brought to light, fully researched and discussed, and critically examined for the important role it has played in Baha’i history and its potential significance for future developments of the faith. A Lost History of the Baha’i Faith is my attempt to get the ball rolling and contribute to this process. It is my hope that Baha’is may come to a more historically accurate and nuanced view of their religion’s development and the key figures involved, why the Baha’i community struggles to attract and retain religious liberals among their membership, and how they might fix this problem by reevaluating internal debates of a century ago.
Secondly, after reading a variety of previously published and never- before-published primary source texts by Mohammed Ali Bahai, Shua Ullah Behai, and other writers in the Unitarian Baha’i tradition, I
reached the opinion that regardless of whether their religious views were “right” or “wrong,” these people have been unfairly maligned by mainstream Baha’i leaders and apologetic histories of the faith. Their character was attacked without sufficient evidence to support the allegations that led to their banishment from the religion they clearly loved. Therefore, because I was given exclusive access to unpublished documents they wrote, I felt I had a responsibility to help to bring these documents to print, so that their voices could be heard by the public. Only by studying their testimonies and teachings could Baha’is—or anyone else interested—even begin to form an intelligent and informed opinion about these historical figures, their beliefs, actions, values and motives. Only by considering the statements of both sides of a dispute can we attempt to move beyond hearsay and prejudice and strive for objectivity.
“Independent investigation of truth” has always been taught as a key principle of the Baha’i faith. A Lost History is a new and vital resource with which Baha’is may pursue such an investigation about some of the most important people and issues in their religious tradition—the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of Baha’ u’llah, and their sincere and passionate arguments with each other about the meaning and message of the faith they so intimately knew and shared.
A third reason for my involvement as editor of this book is a more personal one. Over the past few years I have become friends with Negar Bahai Emsallem, a great-granddaughter of Baha’u’llah who lives in Haifa, Israel. She is the person who provided me with the documents that have never before been seen by the public—not even by anyone outside of her immediate family. I first contacted Mrs. Bahai in 2010, after I saw her interviewed in a controversial Israeli film about the Baha’i faith called Baha’is In My Backyard, and I was curious to speak with a descendant of one of the ostracized members of Baha’u’llah’s family to learn more about their point of view.
I am honored to count Mrs. Bahai as a friend. I have found her to be a woman of principle, decent, good-natured, kind and unassuming, with an open heart and an open mind. Her respect for all religions and
habit of interfaith dialogue and fellowship are extraordinary for someone who grew up in her generation in the Middle East. Wishing to avoid fruitless sectarianism, she does not enjoy talking about, in her words, the “unfortunate conflict” between her grandfathers Mohammed Ali and Badi Ullah and her great-uncle ‘Abdu’l-Baha; but she is firm in her conviction that they were good men and that her family’s side of the story deserves to be told.
As a personal friend of Negar, I desire to see her quite reasonable wish fulfilled before she passes on from this world. Thus I have found a publisher for her family’s writings and have done the best and fairest job I could as editor. In a better world, Baha’is on pilgrimage would disregard her status as an officially shunned “Covenant-breaker” and pay a visit to this dear elderly lady—living just a few blocks from Mount Carmel—who embodies a sensibility of mind and generosity of spirit of which her distinguished ancestor, the Baha’i prophet, would surely be proud.
Original Preface
The following message appears at the beginning of Shua Ullah Behai’s manuscript, and seems to this editor to be a genuine expression of his character, his reasons for writing the book and an accurate description of its contents:
Humbly I request every beloved Baha’i throughout the world to read this narrative unbiased and unprejudiced, irrespective of party affiliation, then to think and face the mirror of reality with the vision of investigation, answering this question: Am I a true Baha’i?
In this narrative the reader will find many events which hitherto have been withheld or misrepresented by some of the past Baha’i writers—those who satisfied themselves with hearsay, and passed judgment without investigation. I did not attempt to re-write the events, but I reproduced some of the articles which have been written by the well-known personages. I am not trying to prove the guilt or innocence of either party concerned. I am merely presenting the hidden facts, for the enlightenment of the seekers of truth and future historians.

O Son of Spirit!
Justice is loved above all; neglect it not, if thou desirest me. By it thou wilt be strengthened to perceive things with thine own eyes and not by the eyes of men, to know them by thine own knowledge and not by the knowledge of any in the world. Meditate on this—how thou oughtest to be.
Justice is of my bounty to thee, and of my providence over thee; keep it ever before thy sight.
—Baha’u’llah 9

[9] The Hidden Words, Arabic #2.