This chapter is a compilation of excerpts from three articles about Baha’u’llah, his life, teachings, and mission, written by important figures in the Baha’i faith in the early 1900s. These articles were selected by Shua Ullah Behai and included in his book manuscript in a chapter called “Baha Ullah.” Considerably longer excerpts from the articles were originally included by Mr. Behai, but I have cut them further for the sake of brevity.
The authors of these tributes to Baha’u’llah are his eldest son (‘Abdu’l-Baha), and two of the foremost teachers of the Baha’i faith at the time: one from the mainstream tradition (Mirza Abu’l-Fadl), the other from the Unitarian Baha’i tradition (Ibrahim Kheiralla). All of them were essentially in agreement in their celebration and characterization of the founder of their faith.
His name was Husayn Ali [Nuri], later Baha’u’llah. He was bom in the city of Tehran, the capital of Iran, November 12,1817 A.D. His ascension took place at Bahji, Acre District, Palestine, on May 29,1892.
The following articles written by well-known personages briefly re-count the life and claims of Baha’u’llah.
From an Address by Abbas Effendi, Abdu’l-Baha 165
The Blessed Perfection Baha’u’llah belonged to the royal family of Persia. From earliest childhood he was distinguished among his relatives and friends. They said, “This child has extraordinary power.” In wisdom, intelligence, and as a source of new knowledge, he was advanced beyond his age and superior to his surroundings. All who knew him were astonished at his precocity….
Until his father passed away, Baha’u’llah did not seek position or political station notwithstanding his connection with the government. This occasioned surprise and comment. It was frequently said, “How is it that a young man of such keen intelligence and subtle perception does not seek lucrative appointments? As a matter of feet every position is open to him.” This is an historical statement fully attested by the people of Persia.
He was most generous, giving abundantly to the poor. None who came to him were turned away. The doors of his house were open to all. He always had many guests. This unbounded generosity was conducive to greater astonishment from the feet that he sought neither position nor prominence. In commenting upon this, his friends said he would become impoverished, for his expenses were many and his wealth be¬coming more and more limited. “Why is he not thinking of his own affairs?” they inquired of each other; but some who were wise declared, “This personage is connected with another world; he has something sublime within him that is not evident now; the day is coming when it will be manifested.” In truth the Blessed Perfection was a refuge for every weak one, a shelter for every fearing one, kind to every indigent one, lenient and loving to all creatures.
He became well-known in regard to these qualities before His Holiness the Bab appeared. Then Baha’u’llah declared the Bab’s mission to be true and promulgated his teachings. The Bab announced that the greater manifestation would take place after him and called the promised one “Him whom God would manifest,” saying that nine years later the reality of his own mission would become apparent…. The Bab was martyred in Tabriz, and Baha’u’llah, exiled into ‘Iraq-Arab in 1852, announced himself [as the new divine teacher] in Baghdad. For the Persian government had decided that as long as he remained in Persia the peace of the country would be disturbed; therefore he was exiled in the expectation that Persia would become quiet. His banishment, however, produced the opposite effect. New tumult arose and the mention of his greatness and influence spread everywhere throughout the country. The proclamation of his manifestation and mission was made in Baghdad. He called his friends together there and spoke to them of God. Afterward he left the city and went alone into the mountains of Kurdistan where he made his abode in caves and grottoes. A part of this time he lived in the city of Sulaymaniyah. Two years passed during which neither his friends nor family knew just where he was.
Although solitary, secluded, and unknown in his retirement, the report spread throughout Kurdistan that this was a most remarkable and learned personage gifted with a wonderful power of attraction. In a short time Kurdistan was magnetized with his love. During this period Baha’u’llah lived in poverty. His garments were those of the poor and needy. His food was that of the indigent and lowly. An atmosphere of majesty haloed him as the sun at midday. Everywhere he was greatly revered and beloved.
After two years, he returned to Baghdad. Friends he had known in Sulaymaniyah came to visit him. … The Persian government [had] believed the banishment of the Blessed Perfection from Persia would be the extermination of his cause in that country. These rulers now realized that it spread more rapidly. His prestige increased, his teachings became more widely circulated. The chiefs of Persia then used their influence to have Baha’u’llah exiled from Baghdad. He was summoned to Constantinople 166 by the Turkish authorities. While in Constantinople he ignored every restriction, especially the hostility of ministers of state and clergy. The official representatives of Persia again brought their influence to bear upon the Turkish authorities and succeeded in having Baha’u’llah banished from Constantinople to Adrianople, the object being to keep him as far away as possible from Persia and render his communication with that country more difficult. Nevertheless the cause still spread and strengthened.
Finally they consulted together and said, “We have banished Baha’u’llah from place to place, but each time he is exiled his cause is more widely extended, his proclamation increases in power, and day by day his lamp is becoming brighter. This is due to the fact that we have exiled him to large cities and populous centers. Therefore we will send him to a penal colony as a prisoner so that all may know he is the associate of murderers, robbers, and criminals; in a short time he and his followers will perish.” The Sultan of Turkey then banished him to the prison of Akka in Syria. 167
When Baha’u’llah arrived at Akka, through the power of God he was able to hoist his banner. His light at first had been a star; now it became a mighty sun and the illumination of his cause expanded from the east to the west. Inside prison walls he wrote epistles to all the kings and rulers of nations, summoning them to arbitration and Universal Peace….
The Blessed Perfection was a prisoner twenty-five years. During all this time he was subjected to the indignities and revilement of the people. He was persecuted, mocked, and put in chains. In Persia his properties were pillaged and his possessions confiscated….
He bore these ordeals, suffered these calamities and difficulties in order that a manifestation of selflessness and service might become apparent in the world of humanity; that the “Most Great Peace” should become a reality; that human souls might appear as the angels of heaven; that heavenly miracles would be wrought among men; that human faith should be strengthened and perfected; that the precious,priceless bestowal of God—the human mind—might be developed to its fullest capacity in the temple of the body; and man become the reflection and likeness of God, even as it hath been revealed in the Bible: “We shall create man in our own image.” 168 … [that] although [we are] pilgrims upon earth we might travel the road of the heavenly kingdom; although needy and poor we might receive the treasures of life eternal. For this has he borne these difficulties and sorrows.
From The Behai Proofs by Mirza Abu’l-Fadl Gulpaygani 169
Although the calamities and afflictions suffered by the Blessed Perfection during His stay in Akka were beyond the endurance of man, yet, through the providence of God and His assistance, these torrents of disaster did not prevent Him from reforming the character of His followers, and the assault of hardships and grievances did not stop the spread of His teachings. For the tribulations of Baha’u’llah were not confined to the contradictions of the tyrannical clergy, or the calumnies of fanatical divines. Nor were His sufferings caused only by the injustice of statesmen and the covetousness of rulers, who accounted oppression of strangers and showing hostility towards those outside their faith as a religious duty. It was a greater task to beautify the character of His own people, than to defend Himself against exterior enemies. Guarding His followers from committing unseemly actions was more difficult than enduring the persecutions of the outsiders. For these people who had just embraced the Baha’i religion were formerly Babis, and… they had frequently departed from the limit of moderation, owing to the evil training of different leaders…. This latitude and laxity of principle likewise extended to the conflict and bloodshed permitted by their former religion, Islam. The Babis generally were ignorant of the ordinances of the Bab, and supposed them to be similar to the doctrines of the Shi’ites, which they considered the source of the Babi religion. This ignorance was due to the fact that the Babis were strictly prohibited by the Persian rulers from holding intercourse with or visiting the Bab, while the latter was in prison….
When Baha’u’llah appeared, however, it was but a short time before His followers became noted for their good deeds and just characters. As a result of His training, they soon became successful in promoting His word, rendered spiritual assistance to His cause, and were grounded in admirable religious beliefs. Day by day, His followers increased in number and the power of His word became more and more manifest, so that in a short space of time it was introduced into other countries and penetrated other religions besides Islam. Even the Jews, Zoroastrians, Nusayrites 170 , and other remote peoples who were considered as being absolutely extinct and lifeless, attained, by thousands, the honor of accepting His Cause. For this they fell victims to the tyranny and persecutions of the Muslims and their own former coreligionists; quaffing the cup of martyrdom with joy, steadfastness, triumph, and forbearance. This was a matter of astonishment to sagacious men, for these people were many in number and belonged to the rich classes; numbers of them were merchants and traders, and thus could not be supposed to have embraced Baha’ism in order to gain riches or fame. For the fol¬lowers of Baha’u’llah did not possess any wealth, affluence or material power which might induce people to join them. Moreover, after embracing this religion, they showed such steadfastness, that no fear of losing their lives and property could shake their faith. Therefore the Baha’is recognized this firmness, forbearance, and endurance of calamities to be a proof of the truth of this religion, and as the most manifest evidence and witness of the power of the word of Baha’u’llah….
The books, tablets, and divine revelations of Baha’u’llah contain treatises, written generally in answer to questions asked by people, both Baha’is and outsiders. For during His stay in Iraq, Adrianople, and Akka, when His name had become renowned in the world, and the penetration of His word attracted the attention of intelligent minds, the seekers after truth, who were earnest in the search for knowledge and wisdom, went to Him, asking intricate and abstruse questions. Those who were not able to visit Him on account of the strict prohibition of rulers and other obstacles, asked Him difficult questions through correspondence. He answered them instantly without delay or hesitation, although subject to rigorous calamities and afflictions. These answers were forwarded after a copy of them had been reserved….
He also wrote certain tablets which He sent to the crowned heads and to the chief religious doctors and divines. Thus, in a short time, His books and epistles were scattered like rose-petals throughout different cities, and the teachings given therein were poured forth like unto raindrops over all regions. So the voice of His Manifestation reached the West and East like a flash of lightning and His Cause penetrated other countries and nations. Some of the tablets He wrote in modern Persian, while others written in answer to the learned and leading Zoroastrians, are in pure Old Persian. Some He has written in eloquent Arabic, and others in ordinary Arabic of today, so that they may be comprehended by the common people. All of them are in the most graceful and elegant style, and although written without premeditation or reflection, are nevertheless in the most excellent form of composition….
The epistles and treatises of Baha’u’llah contain four different styles and classes of knowledge. Upon the understanding of these depends, as is believed by the Baha’is, the knowledge of the truth of all the divine religions. Without this understanding man cannot be thoroughly in¬formed of the benefits of religion, nor can ideal refinement and civilization be realized.
[1.] Some of them contain laws and regulations whereby the rights and interests of all the nations of the world can be perpetuated, for these statutes are so enacted that they meet the necessities of every land and country and are acceptable to every man of intelligence. In this universality they resemble the laws of Nature, which secure the progress and development of all peoples; and they will bring about universal union and harmony. The most important and best known among these is the Book ofAqdas and its supplementary tablets, revealed in answer to questions asked concerning the texts of the Aqdas; also the Tablets of Ishraqat, Tarazat, etc. To this class belong the tablets written upon the conduct of the “ascetic” seekers and strivers after truth. Such is the Book of the Seven Valleys, written in answer to Sheikh Abdu’r Rahman of Kirkuk, one of the prominent Sufi sheikhs of Iraq-Arabi. Although Baha’u’llah has forbidden Sufism, 171 monkhood and inactivity—i.e., abandoning the practice of trade and profession—yet, in these tablets, He has explained the manner of real devotion.
[2.] Some others contain solutions of the intricate points of the heavenly books of former peoples, which, before His Manifestation, were “sealed” by the seal of the Prophets; God having decreed that their opening and interpretation should be effected at the Day of the Lord’s Appearance.172 As the learned attempted to interpret them before the appointed time, they fell into error in apprehension of their real purport, and thus misled people instead of enlightening them. The Baha’is believe that , this very point caused the Jews to falsely deny our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Zoroastrians to consider all the Israelite [or Abrahamic] prophets as imposters. The Baha’is also believe that former interpretations of the Book are but false imaginations of man, and inversions of the Divine Word. To this class of [Baha’u’llah’s] writings belong the well-known Book of Iqan and the book entitled Jawahir u’l-Asrar (Gems of Mysteries), 173 revealed in Baghdad at the request of one of the nobility of Fars [Province of Iran]; in which He has opened the seals of the former prophetic books.
[3.] Some others contain prayers and divine eulogies, which instruct men in the mode of worship; supplications and communes, which are means of communion between the worshiper and the Adored One. The benefits imparted by such devotional acts are the illumination and purification of man’s conscience, by which the faculty of Divine apprehension is strengthened, the brutal qualities of man are refined, and the worshiper attains true realization and certainty.
[4.] Some others contain discourses and exorcisms in which He has explained the real meaning of the Unity of the Divine Essence and has demonstrated and elucidated the original purpose of the mission of prophets, as well as the stations of the separation and union of those dawning-places of the command of God.
In other words, in these tablets, Baha’u’llah has solved intricate theological questions in the clearest way, whereby He not only has demonstrated the truth of the new cause, but also the truth of the founders of former religions….
During Baha’u’llah’s residence in Baghdad, it was His custom to write the tablets with His own hand; but in Adrianople they were usu¬ally written by the pen of His eldest son, the “Greatest Branch of God” [i.e. Abbas Effendi], During the exile at Akka they were dictated to different amanuenses, including Mirza Aqa Jan of Kashan (the servant of Baha’u’llah), Mirza Mohammed Ali, Mirza Zia Ullah, Mirza Badi Ullah (the children of His Holiness Baha’u’llah), and Mirza Majdeddin, his son-in-law. These amanuenses wrote them in His presence from His dictation, and after collating and revising them, copies thereof would be forwarded to the questioners….
As to the devotional ordinances instituted by Baha’u’llah, these comprise prayer, fasting, and the pilgrimage to the House of God, according to details explained in the Book [of Aqdas]. These are duties which are incumbent upon all, if circumstances permit their performance. There are also invocations and prayers which the Baha’is chant in their meetings as a blessing, or the pious recite in private, while communing with God. Most of these tablets are already collected and compiled.
His ethical ordinances comprise laws commanding good qualities and excellent virtues, such as sincerity, faith, devotion, love, integrity, chastity, purity, trustworthiness, and piety; and forbidding people from evil conduct and abominable deeds, such as lying, backbiting, slandering, murder, theft, fornication, disputing and striving, even with enemies, etc…. Not only has He forbidden murder, conflict, and strife, but also slavery, self-exaltation, and all that may cause grief and offense to men; and He has commanded meekness and humility. It is revealed in the Book of Aqdas as follows:
Ye are not allowed to buy male or female slaves. No servant [of God] hath the right to buy another servant, as this is forbidden in the Tablet of God; thus hath the matter been written through mercy with the Pen of Equity. No one should glory over another; all are servants unto Him, and show that verily there is no God save Him. Verily He is wise in all things. 174 175
… He has commanded people to sincerely love every nation, without exception, as their own brothers—no matter to what religion and sect they may belong—and to consider it a most obligatory duty to purify their hearts and souls from former rancor. Therefore, He has commanded His friends to shun every word which might cause the slightest discord; to avoid cursing, execration, and all that gives offense; to serve all people; to glory not in loving our country, but rather in loving all the world. In this connection, He has said in the Book of Aqdas:
Consort ye with all the religions with joy and fragrance, so that they may discover from you the odor of the Merciful. Beware not to be overtaken by the bigotry of the Jahiliyyah11 among men. All come from God and will return to Him. Verily, He is the origin of the people and the goal of the creatures. 176
… In a tablet written in answer to the questions of one of the prominent Zoroastrians, He says: “The Peerless Friend commandeth: Say, O friends, the Pavilion of Unity is erected; do not gaze at each other with the eyes of strangers. Ye are all the fruits of one tree and the leaves of one branch.”…
To sum up: In His tablets He has revealed wonderful words regarding the beautifying and perfecting of human characters and virtues which, as brilliant pearls, adorn and decorate the crown of the Icings of the world, and from which people inhale the fragrance of roses. They have proved effective in training and reforming the character of the Baha’is and in straightening the crookedness of the Babis, so that, not¬withstanding their greatly increased numbers, they have become universally celebrated for good conduct, noted everywhere for excellent morals; and nothing contrary to humanity or against the laws of the governments proceeds from them. …
Were the leading men of the Persian government to justly reflect upon these points they would acknowledge the favor and providence of the Blessed Perfection, and open their mouth in His praise. Moreover, if those leaders and statesmen who still consider the Babis and Baha’is as one community and blame the innocent for the sin of the guilty, were to use sound judgment, they will clearly see that… if different rulers in Persia had not, by the command of the ignorant clergy, prevented the Babis from intercourse with the Bab and had not so strictly repressed religious freedom, the Babis would not have remained ignorant of the ordinances and brilliant character of the Bab, and fought in self-defense, as required by their former religion. How is it that the Baha’is, while their number is now greatly multiplied and they are far more persecuted by the government than the former Babis, instead of defending themselves, do not even complain of any injustice? Why is it that their endurance and self-restraint is a matter of amazement to strangers, and their good conduct universally approved by all nations? It is because they are commanded to obey the government and to love the people of the world. Through Baha’u’llah’s teachings the roses of grace and com¬passion have grown up in the grounds of their hearts, instead of the thorns of enmity and hatred, and by Him the breeze of obedience and peace has replaced whirlwinds of defense and resistance. So the Baha’is have increased and their tranquility, dignity, and constancy become renowned throughout all regions and climes, while obedience to government, love, and brotherhood with all the different nations have become their obligatory belief….
The author submits that the Beauty of Al-Abha—exalted is His Glory!—has enacted laws and regulations concerning every point or subject referring to the preservation of society and the perfecting of human virtues; greater laws than which cannot be imagined by the possessors of intelligence. They concern manners and conditions of mutual intercourse, the founding of administrative organizations, the mutual rights of rulers and subjects, the spread of knowledge, respect due to philosophers and learned men, commands to refrain from rebellion against kings and princes, obedience and reverence to parents, the laws of marriage, and the mutual rights of the wife and husband, laws of inheritance, and other regulations. It is only through such laws that the union and harmony among nations of different religions and tongues can be effected; for, in enacting laws upon every subject, He has taken two points into consideration. First, that obeying and carrying them into practice may be possible for all peoples, notwithstanding the difference of their countries. Second, that they may not excite selfish prejudices and fanaticism. Through these laws, the breezes of ideal mercy and compassion will blow through hearts and souls, and the lights of real humanity will shine forth from all breasts. Thus, through the assistance of God, the spirit of disunion, discord, and hostility which divides nations, will be removed, and all the earth will be considered as one Paradise and one home….
In order to cause the spread of learning and enlightenment, He has made it incumbent to educate children of both sexes, and to train them in lofty morals. Should any one disregard these commands, and neglect the training of his children, the government shall educate and train them in the schools, and assess the expenses upon the father. Should the father be poor, the government must furnish the funds out of the money given to God, according to the law instituted in the Book [of Aqdas]; so that excellent morals may be universally spread throughout the world, and praiseworthy qualities may be firmly implanted in the hearts of both sexes from their childhood. He has so emphasized this command to educate children, that no righteous man will fail to realize the necessity of complying with it. He has included the teachers of children in the list of heirs, so that their care and fatherhood may be ever appreciated by the world, and they may be encouraged to educate their pupils. The substance of what He has said in the Book of Aqdas upon this subject is as follows: “Whosoever educates one of the children of the people who love God, it is as though he has educated one of the branches of the Blessed Divine Tree, and he is worthy of praise, blessing, and mercy of God.” 177 When one reflects upon this point, he will find that as God has strictly commanded the spread of enlightenment and education, and as the power of the Word of God will assist it, this law of educating children will cause the removal of the darkness of ignorance and barbarity from all regions of the world, and the promise of God, “The earth shall be illumined with the light of its Lord,” 178 will be clearly realized.
In connection with occupations and professions, He has said that God the Almighty, during this great Manifestation, has made it obligatory for all to occupy themselves in professions which are praiseworthy, such as trade, agriculture, handicraft, etc. He has also stated that gaining one’s living through means which benefit society is considered as worshiping God the Exalted. He has reinforced this command by en¬joining upon the people of Baha, abstinence from monkshood, Sufism, and retirement, as well as from ascetic discipline. He has commanded them to marry and to be engaged in the spread of knowledge which leads to the prosperity and welfare of peoples, and the restoration of the world.
From “Beha ’u’llah’s Divinity” by Ibrahim G. Kheirulla 180
I am of the opinion that the prophets and Manifestations of God must prove to the people of the earth the truth of their divine missions by producing the following four evidences in order that the people may believe and acknowledge them. Should they present such evidences and yet should we reject them, it would be our own fault and not theirs.
First: To utter verses which contain striking truths and principles, whereby the human race is uplifted and elevated, and the extremely wicked become upright and good.
Second: Their appearance is foretold by the prophets of yore.
Third: To display a divine knowledge, which is beyond that of man.
Fourth: To show a superiority in their lives and in their personalities.
These evidences were fully established in the person of Husayn Ali [Nuri], so as to leave no doubt that He was the Glory of God, and the Manifestation of the Father. In brief, all the prophecies concerning the coming of the Father were fulfilled in Him…
[H]is teachings are not visionary nor prophetic, but practical, final, and useful to the high and to the low, to the civilized and the uncivilized. At the same time they are in accord with reason and science and in harmony with the laws governing the world.
For instance, history proves that neither through Christianity nor Mohammedanism could peace be established upon earth, for the first shed blood, if not more, not less than the other, as the present horrible war 181 bears witness. But in the tablets which Baha’u’llah, the Prince of Peace, sent to the rulers of the world, He prohibited them from warring with each other, and commanded them to settle their differences by arbitration. He also strictly forbade the waging of war for differences in faith or otherwise. By His teachings, He established the foundation of peace and enlightened the world with the light of union, concord, and love. He urged His followers to rise up by the help of God, and deliver the world from religious hatred and enmity, which are a consuming fire devouring the human race. He came to unite all those who are upon earth and to save the world from the fetters of ignorance. He said: “Let justice be your army, and your weapon reason.”
Baha[’u’llah] said: “If ye follow me I will make you the heirs of My Kingdom, but if ye rebel against Me I will kindly be patient; I am the Forgiver, the Merciful.”
Also Baha[’u’llah] said: “Communicate to all people what ye know, with the language of love and kindness.” “Consort with people of all faiths, with fragrance and spirituality.” “Allow not the zeal of bigotry to display itself in you, for everyone cometh from God, and unto God shall he return. He is the Causer of their being, and the Center of their final attainment.”
The verses written by the Supreme Pen of Baha’u’llah contain an ocean of sublime spiritual teachings, thrilling precepts and admonitions, excellent bases of religious principles, just and equitable laws and edicts. … Through His teachings and commandments, the great peace shall come, capital and labor shall be conciliated, the wolf and the lamb shall live together, the unity of the [human] race shall be established, a universal language shall be adopted, and the people of the earth shall live as brothers, as one kindred, one family, loving not only their country, but the whole world.
All the prophets of yore foretold the coming of the Father and the establishment of His Kingdom on earth. They gave the signs of His coming, and that Elijah shall come as a forerunner. They located the city of Akka as the New Jerusalem. They predicted the year of His Manifestation, and described the condition at His day. Every prophecy in regard to the Manifestation of the Deity upon earth was fulfilled in Husayn Ali, and proved that He was the Glory of God.
Jewish rabbis, Christian theologians, Mohammedan doctors, and priests of other faiths, all expected the coming of the Kingdom of God on earth in the nineteenth century.182 They were not mistaken, for the scriptures foretold His appearance. Jesus said: “the Lord of the vineyard cometh;” 183 “the Comforter will come;” 184 “when the Spirit of Truth is come he will guide you into all truth.” 185 He prayed: “Thy Kingdom come.” .186
All the signs of His coming which were mentioned in the scriptures of different religions were fulfilled in the nineteenth century. Jesus Christ said: “The Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto the nations, and then shall the end come.” 187 In the last century, the Christian missionaries preached the Gospel to all nations. Muhammad said: “When you behold the ships sailing upon the land, then he shall come.” The trains sailed upon the land a few years before [Baha’u’llah] manifested Himself. Nahum said: “The chariots shall rage in the streets, they shall jostle one against another in the broad ways: they shall seem like torches, they shall run like lightning.” 188
In this sign the material atoms declared the coming of the Glory of God. It is an accurate prediction of electric cars and modern vehicles, which throng our streets. “Behold I will send you Elijah, the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” (Malachi 4:5). In 1844 Elijah the prophet came, for there appeared in Persia a young man who possessed great powers of wisdom and spiritual inspiration. He is known in history as Ali Muhammad [Shirazi]. He called himself “The Bab,” meaning the “Gate” or “Door.”… He was [the return of] Elijah, the forerunner, and gave the glad tidings of the coming of the Kingdom of God, and the appearance of “Him whom God shall manifest,” the Glory of God.
Akka is the New Jerusalem, the City of the Lord, unto which He was exiled as a prisoner of the Turkish government, and from whence He departed [from this world]. It is upon the Syrian coast, nine miles from the foot of Mount Carmel, and during the Crusades it was the head¬quarters of the Knights Templar, who called it Saint Jean d’Acre. It is a fortified city and notorious for its unhealthy climate and filthiness. It is the Turkish city of exile and the place of confinement for prisoners of the government.
Isaiah (9:1) accurately located the New Jerusalem at Akka. [Here is a] literal translation of the prophecies of Isaiah by Professor [T. IC] Cheyne 189 of Oxford, England: 190
Surely there is (now) no (more) gloom to her whose lot was affliction. At the former time He brought shame on the land of Zebulun and on the land of Naphtali, but in the latter He hath brought honor on the way by the sea, the other side of Jordan, the district of the nations. The people that walk in darkness see a great light; they that dwell in the land of deep shade, light shineth brilliantly upon them…. And his name is called Wonder Counsellor, God- Mighty-One, Everlasting-Father, Prince of Peace…191
The spot described by the prophet between the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali is Akka; and to appoint the exact situation, he said: “But in the latter time, he hath brought honor on the way by the sea” (Akka).
From ancient times the highway to Damascus from the sea commenced at Akka. In [Prof. Cheyne’s] Prophecies of Isaiah we read in a note on p. 60: “Via Maris [‘Sea Way’], M. Renan observes, was the name of the high road from Acre to Damascus, as late as the Crusades. ‘Way,’ however, here means region.” Thus literally, the Manifestation of Jehovah, Baha’u’llah, appeared in the latter days and brought honor upon the “way by the sea” (Akka)….
The divine knowledge and wisdom which Husayn Ali displayed in epistles and tablets to his followers; in the just and beautiful laws he gave the world in the Most Sacred Book (Kitab-i-Aqdas); in the tablets which he sent to the rulers of the earth, inviting them to come to His Kingdom and partake of the spiritual banquet, to eat and drink with the elect; in His knowledge of the past and the future as was stated in His predictions, proved conclusively that He was the Glory of God, as such knowledge is beyond that of man.
For instance, in the second tablet sent to Napoleon III, he informed the Emperor concerning his past secrets, and judged him, because he cast aside the first tablet which Baha[’u’llah] sent to him. The prediction was that the [French] Empire would depart from the hands of Napoleon, and humiliation would come upon him, and commotion would seize the people of France, and his glory would pass away. A few months later Napoleon declared war on Germany and was defeated, dethroned, humiliated as a prisoner of war, and finally died in exile in England. Also the commotion seized the French people at the revolution of the [Paris] Commune. … [N]umerous written and verbal warnings of impending events which came to pass, are plain evidences of His divine knowledge.
The life and personality of Husayn Ali are convincing proofs that He was the Manifestation and the Glory of God. For forty years he suffered in jails and in exile; was oppressed and afflicted; was threatened with death by Mohammedan doctors and rulers; yet under the sword of the enemy He summoned all the people of the earth and their rulers, even those who imprisoned and exiled him, to come to God, the Creator of heaven and earth. At the same time he uttered volumes of wonderful teachings and precepts, vigorous in style, clear in argument, powerful in proof, displaying perfect acquaintance with the scriptures of different faiths. He spent his life for the salvation of our race, and suffered humiliation for our elevation. He was imprisoned to free us from the fetters of ignorance….
The wonderful and heavenly atmosphere of spirituality which shrouded the place of his presence, proved His Divinity. Professor Browne of Cambridge, England, the greatest historian of this faith, who recorded what the friends and adversaries said in favor or against Baha’u’llah, went himself and met Baha’u’llah in person, that he might be able to write from his own experience and knowledge, independently of what the others said. But he was attacked and blamed by Christian theologians and missionaries because he recorded his experience truthfully. While visiting Baha’u’llah], he wrote as follows:
I might, indeed, strive to describe in greater detail the faces and forms which surrounded me, the conversations to which I was privileged to listen, the solemn melodious reading of the sacred books, the general sense of harmony and content which pervaded the place, and the fragrant shady gardens whither in the afternoon we sometimes repaired; but all this was as nought in comparison with the spiritual atmosphere with which I was encompassed,… Let those who have not seen disbelieve me if they will; but, should that spirit once reveal itself to them, they will experience an emotion which they are not likely to forget. 192
165. This speech by the son of Baha’u’llah on the “History of the Baha’i Cause” was delivered on April 18, 1912, in New York City. Published in Baha’i Scriptures: Selections from the Utterances of Baha’u’llah and Abdul Baha, edited by Horace Holley (New York: Brentano’s, 1923), pp. 285-290.
166. Arab Iraq (‘Iraq-i ‘Arab in Persian), which was part of the Ottoman Empire. At the time, there was also a Persian region called Iraq, or ‘Iraq-i Ajam, in western Iran.
167. In the Ottoman Empire, Syria was a large region which also included most of present-day Israel, Palestine, and Lebanon, beyond the borders of the modern nation of Syria.
168.See Genesis 1:26-27.
169. Mirza-Abul-Fazl, Hujaj’ul Beheyyeh (The Behai Proofs), translated by Ali Kuli Khan (New York: J. W. Pratt Co., 1902), pp. 62-70, 72-77,79-81, 93-96.
170. The Nusayris, more commonly known as the Alawites, are a mystical sect of Shi’ite Islam centered in Syria.
171. At the time, Sufism was associated with the extreme asceticism of dervishes, and was essentially an Islamic form of monasticism.
172. In Islam, the Prophet Muhammad is regarded as the “Seal of the Prophets” (Khatam an-Nabiyyin), i.e. the last prophet before the Day of Judgment. The Bab and Baha’u’llah reinterpreted these concepts to mean that Muhammad was the last of a great cycle of prophecy which began in ancient times, and that the Day of Judgment is a metaphor for the next appearance of the Manifestation of God (i.e. “Him Whom God Shall Make Manifest” or Baha’u’llah), who inaugurates a new epoch of history.
173. Usually called Javahiru’l-Asrar (“Gems of Divine Mysteries”) by Baha’is today.
174. Kitab-i-Aqdas (“Most Holy Book”), paragraph 72.
175. Note by Mirza Abu’l-Fadl: “This term was applied by Muhammad, in the Qur’an, to the Pagan Arabs. Here it means fanatics among the nations who have not believed in the Cause of God.”
176. Kitab-i-Aqdas (“Most Holy Book”), paragraph 144.
177. This appears to be a loose paraphrase of the last part of paragraph 48 of the Aqdas.
178. Qur’an 39:69. Also cf. Revelation 22:5.
179. Baha’i law does not actually require people to marry, but strongly encourages it.
180. Excerpted from a chapter with this title in a book by Ibrahim George Kheirulla, O Christians/ Why do Ye Believe Not on Christ? (1917), pp. 97-100,102-104, 106-108.
181. World War I.
182. The most notable of the millennialist movements in the 1800s was led by William Miller, a Baptist preacher in the United States, who predicted that Christ would return in 1844, based on detailed calculations from his study of Bible prophecies. Although the Bab announced himself in that same year as a messianic figure expected by Shi’ite Muslims, the Millerites expected a literal, apocalyptic return of Jesus Christ which would be obvious to all the world, and they did not become Babis or Baha’is.
183. Matthew 21:40.
184. John 15:26.
185. John 16:13.
187. Matthew 24:14.
188. Nahum 2:4.
189. Thomas Kelly Cheyne was an Anglican minister and Biblical scholar who held the distinguished position of Oriel Professor of the Interpretation of Holy Scripture at Oxford University. In the early 1900s he converted to the Baha’i faith.
190. Rev. T. K. Cheyne, MA., The Prophecies of Isaiah: A New Translation with Commentary and Appendices, Vol. I (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, & Co., 1882, second edition), pp. 60, 62-63.
191. Isaiah 9:1-2,6.
192. 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), pp. xxxviii-xxxix.