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.
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…
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.
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.
149.Cf. Matthew 5:29.
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.
163.Relatives of the Bab.
164.Kitab-i-Aqdas (“Most Holy Book”), paragraph 121.