The Station of Ghusn-i-Akbar Mohammed Ali Bahai -By Shua Ullah Behai

Ghusn e Akbar

Tablet of Baha’u’Ilah which praises his son Mohammed Ali, entitled
Ghusn-i-Akbar. Image from Behai Quarterly magazine.

 

This is the first part of a chapter of Shua Ullah Behai’s book manuscript in which he introduces his father and reproduces several of his writings in English translation. It includes Mr. Behai’s translation of a tablet written by Baha’u’llah in which he praises Mohammed Ali Effendi, who was entitled Ghusn-i-Akbar (the Greatest or Mightiest Branch).
The word akbar means “Greatest” in Arabic, being the superlative of kabir, “great,” and in a religious context it can be taken as a reference to the almighty greatness of God (e.g. the Islamic affirmation Allahu Akbar, meaning that God is the Most Great or the Almighty). However, Baha’u’llah called Abbas Effendi by the title Ghusn-i-A‘zam, which also means the Greatest Branch. To avoid confusion, Unitarian Baha’is usually translated Mohammed Ali Effendi’s title as “the Mightiest Branch,” reserving the title “the Greatest Branch” for ‘Abdu’l-Baha, acknowledging the fact that Abbas Effendi was given the first position of leadership according to Baha’u’llah’s will. 238

The meaning and significance of the tablet of Baha’u’llah reproduced in this chapter was a matter of dispute between the followers of ‘Abdu’l-Baha and Mohammed Ali Bahai. Mr. Bahai and his supporters sometimes called it the “Holy Tablet” or “Sacred Tablet” and considered it an important proof text for the station of the younger son of Baha’u’llah as one of the Baha’i prophet’s intended successors. They believed that the entire tablet was about him, Ghusn-i-Akbar, who is mentioned by name in the document. Abdu’l-Baha, on the other hand, reportedly argued that the first part of the tablet was about him, not Mr. Bahai, or that both brothers shared in that part of the tablet. One prominent Unitarian Baha’i accused ‘Abdu’l-Baha of rejecting the tablet completely 239—perhaps because it had become a source of sectarian tension—and in fact, it is generally unknown among Baha’is today.

In this editor’s opinion, ‘Abdu’l-Baha was likely correct in his belief that the tablet was about Baha’u’llah’s successorship as a whole, beginning with Abbas Effendi and then continuing to Mohammed Ali Effendi, rather than referring only to the latter individual. The arrangement of the verses in the illuminated manuscript shown on page 146 is suggestive of two successors being identified and praised by Baha’u’llah. Most of the verses in the tablet would logically be applicable to any chosen “branch” appointed by Baha’u’llah to succeed him—and he is known to have appointed his two eldest sons in his will, first Ghusn-i- A’zam, then Ghusn-i-Akbar, rather than only one or the other. The tab¬let’s ambiguity about the identity of the “branch” being referred to, in all but a few verses, is problematic. However, both the Unitarian Baha’is and the mainstream Baha’is have taken extreme positions in response to this confusion: the former insisting, despite some reasonable arguments to the contrary, that the tablet referred only to their own preferred leader; and the latter allowing this significant tablet to fade away into obscurity, having largely forgotten about its existence, presumably because some verses clearly praise and honor a man whom they consider the worst of heretics.
—The Editor

Ghusn-i-Akbar, the Mightiest Branch, Mohammed Ali Effendi— The second son of Baha’u’llah, who was appointed in his Will entitled Kitab-i-‘Ahdi, i.e. The Book of My Covenant, successor to Ghusn-i- A’zam, Abbas Effendi, ‘Abdu’l-Baha. 240

Baha’u’llah says, “Verily God hath ordained the station of the Mightiest Branch (Ghusn-i-Akbar) after the station of the former [Ghusn-i-A‘zam]; verily He is the Ordainer, the Wise. We have surely chosen the Mightiest (Alcbar) after the Greatest (A’zam), as a Command from the All-Knowing, the Omniscient.” 241

This venerable son of Baha’u’llah was grossly misjudged, wronged, abused, and falsely accused by the so-called Baha’is—those who satisfied themselves with hearsay and passed judgment without investigation. His message to mankind, his will and autobiography which follow, explain the events, and no one could be a better defender of his case than himself.

He was born in Baghdad, Iraq, December 16,1853, and passed unto Eternity at Haifa, Palestine, December 10,1937.

He was a chosen branch and was favored with numerous tablets by the Supreme Pen of Baha’u’llah.

The following is a translation of one of them:

THE GREATEST, THE MOST GLORIOUS.
O my God! Verily this is a Branch who hath branched from the lofty tree of Thy Singleness and the Sadra (Lote Tree) of Thy Oneness. Thou seest him, O my God, looking unto Thee and holding fast to the rope of Thy benevolence. Therefore keep him in the vicinity of Thy mercy. Thou knowest, O my God, that I desire him not save because Thou hast desired him; and I have chosen him not save because Thou hast chosen him. Assist him with the hosts of Thy earth and heaven, and help, O my God, whosoever helpeth him, then choose Thou whosoever chooseth him, and forsake whosoever denieth him and desireth him not. O my Lord! Thou seest that at the time of elucidation my pen moveth and my limbs tremble. I ask Thee by my perplexity in Thy Love and my longing to reveal Thy Cause, to ordain for him whatsoever Thou hast des¬tined for Thy Messengers and the faithful to Thy divine inspirations; verily Thou art God, the Almighty, the All-Powerful.

HE IS THE GREATEST:
O my God! Assist Thou Ghusn al-Akbar (the Mightiest Branch) to Thy remembrance and Thy praise, then cause to flow from his pen the marvels of Thy sciences and secrets. My Lord! Verily he hath hastened unto Thy pleasure and hath fasted for the love of Thyself, and in obedience to Thine order. Destine for him every good revealed in Thy Book; verily Thou art the All-Powerful, the Omnipotent.
Blessed is he who hath rested in the shelter of the Branch of God, his Lord, Lord of the Throne and Lord of the Worlds.
O My Branch! Be thou the cloud of the Spring of My Generosity; then rain upon the things in My Name, the New.
O My Branch! We have chosen thee because the Chosen One hath chosen thee; say: praise be unto Thee, O God of all the worlds.
O Ghusn-i-Akbar! (Mightiest Branch) Verily We have chosen thee for the help of My Cause; rise thou in a marvelous assistance.
Conquer thou the cities (strongholds) of the names in My Name, the Ruler over all that He wisheth.
O Sea! wave in My Name, the Rising, the Great!
Verily every action dependeth on thy love; blessed is he that winneth that which hath been desired by his Lord, the All-Know¬ing.
Blessed is he that hath heard thy call and hath come forward unto thee for the love of God, the Lord of the worlds.

Footnotes : Ghusn e Akbar

238. In the mainstream Baha’i tradition, ‘Abdu’l-Baha is called either the “Most Great Branch” or “Most Mighty Branch,” while Mohammed Ali Bahai is called the “Greater Branch.” Both traditions thus indicate the primacy of the first son over the second son, though using a different nomenclature.

239. See Chapter 22.

240. Baha’u’llah’s second-born son was actually Mirza Mihdi, a full-brother of ‘Ab-du’l-Baha who died in his youth and predeceased Baha’u’llah, and therefore Mohammed Ali Effendi has often been referred to as the second son, especially in the Unitarian Baha’i tradition.

241. The word translated here twice by Shua Ullah Behai as “after” is ba’da in the original Arabic text of Baha’u’llah’s will. This word can mean either “after” in time or after (beneath) in status. The official Baha’i translation is “beneath” in both places where the word appears—overemphasizing the other meaning of ba’da which Mr. Behai omits completely. An objective reading of the text would capture both meanings that Baha’u’llah seems to have intended: that (1) Mo-hammed Ali Effendi, his second son, should occupy a lesser status under the leadership of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, his first son; and (2) after the death of the eldest, the primary leadership position should pass to the younger son.

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A Tribute to ‘Abdu’l-Baha and Doubts About His Will – By Kamar Bahai

Mousa and Kamar Bahai

This short essay is a circular letter or pamphlet that Kamar Bahai wrote in early 1953 called “Abdul Baha Abbas.” Section headings have been added.

Mrs. Bahai praises ‘Abdu’l-Baha effusively and does not mention his long-term unresolved feud with Mohammed Ali Effendi. She alleges that the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha was forged and expresses concern that the content of the will, if accepted as his own, would undermine his reputation. In light of the conflict between her uncles which she ignores in this essay, her rejection of the purported testamentary document seems motivated in part by a desire to protect ‘Abdu’l Baha’s image and that of the Baha’i faith, since he was a much- admired public figure who spoke for the new religion.

Kamar Bahai claims that “certain persons looking after their own private material benefit” wrote the will attributed to ‘Abdu’l-Baha, but she does not identify these persons. According to her daughter Negar Bahai Emsallem, the story passed down in their family is that the appointment of Shoghi Effendi Rabbani to a position of “Guardianship” was the idea of his grandmother, Munirih Khanum, the wife of ‘Abdu’l- Baha. It is conceivable that she, perhaps along with her daughter Zia’ iyya Khanum (the mother of Shoghi Effendi) or other close relatives, could have forged all or part of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha with the intention to become powers behind the throne in Shoghi Effendi’s ministry, since as Kamar Bahai points out, he was just a boy when the will was written.

However appealing this possibility may be for those who have dis-agreed with the institution of Guardianship of the Baha’i faith or Mr. Rabbani’s exercise thereof—or who would prefer to purge Abdu’l- Baha’s harsh and combative last words from the historical record—the forgery theory remains mostly conjecture, unsupported by any con¬vincing evidence.
—The Editor

The Life of Abbas Effendi

‘Abdu’l-Baha Abbas was born at midnight on the 23rd of May, 1844, in Tehran, the same year that “The Bab” proclaimed his mission to the world. 233

When Abbas Effendi was scarcely nine years old, his father was arrested and imprisoned in Tehran. The mob attacked his house and looted it; the family was stripped of its property and left to suffer the sting of hardship and poverty.

Abdu’l-Baha Abbas was so attached to his father that he almost appeared to act as his bodyguard. Being constantly around him, his father educated him as he wished and brought him up as he saw fit, sowed in him the seeds of his principles, built in him a strong personality, imbibed him with the spirit of humanitarianism, and taught him that those who serve humanity achieve victory in the end. He told him that to be a good Baha’i, he should love the world and humanity in general and try to serve it and labor for universal peace and brotherhood.

Abdu’l-Baha Abbas graduated from his father’s school a strong spiritual personality; he was wise and generous, a father to the needy and a guide to those who went astray. He drew his sublime principles and humanitarian ideals from the school of life and the hardships of experience.

The despotic rule of Abdul Hamid having terminated in 1908 and the then young Turkey having extended a general amnesty for all prisoners, ‘Abdu’l-Baha Abbas was released [in his mid or late 60s] from the prison which he had entered as a boy.  234

At that age Abbas Effendi took upon himself the responsibility to propagate his father’s mission, proceeded to Egypt, Switzerland, France, Germany, Hungary, Great Britain, the United States of America, and Canada, and there preached his father’s principles and. humanitarian ideals which were deeply rooted in him. In the course of his visits to those countries, thousands of people heard him preach the principles of his father, in churches and in every type of religious institution, and millions of people read about the teachings of Baha’u’llah in the local newspapers; and so in virtue of his magnetic personality he was able to attract men and women of every belief and religion.

His followers loved him greatly and he reciprocated their love, he lifted their standards morally, spiritually, and materially to the limit of his capacities, and he endeavored with all his might to come to the rescue of those who were materially in need as well as to those who sought moral assistance.

Allegation of Forgery of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s Will

This beloved religious leader who called himself ‘Abdu’l-Baha— meaning the servant of Baha’u’llah, his father—who was led by his father’s personality in darkness and guided in solving problems; this leader who carried out his father’s teachings almost literally without originating anything new himself or misconstruing; do you believe, dear reader, that this servant of Baha’u’llah, this honest and good man could in any way deviate from the path his master drew for him for the advancement and leadership of the Baha’i movement?

Certain persons looking after their own private material benefit originated what they called a will and attributed its issue to Abbas Effendi, in which he was supposed to have nominated his grandson [Shoghi Effendi Rabbani] to the spiritual leadership of the movement. This grandson who was at that time a young boy 235 and therefore unable to realize the extent of the great responsibility that was being entrusted to him by those persons, is, in my opinion—and I have undeniable evidence to this effect—unable to realize it up to the present moment.

Those persons, whether they intended or not, have certainly committed an unforgivable sin against Abbas Effendi. A will contradicting his father’s Will! This is to Shame, Shame itself, especially as the sacred nature of a will is respected not only by the Easterners but also by the nations of the world. Moreover is it believable that Abbas Effendi should have tampered with [i.e. contradicted] his father’s Will so long as he knew that he had no right whatever to change any-thing in it, especially as his father had limited the succession, in case of death, to his brother, Mohammed Ali Effendi?

Those persons who originated the will and pretended to venerate Abbas Effendi attached to him a disgrace which the commonest of people would have resented; so how much more with him, the great religious leader, for they have pictured him as a disobedient boy violating his father’s Will, the same Will which gave him the right to the leadership. His brothers respected the holiness of their father’s Will and accepted it and extended their help in the struggle for the propagation of the movement.

On Friday the 25th of November, 1921, Abdu’l-Baha Abbas as usual attended Friday prayers 236 and personally distributed alms to the poor and needy and returned to his residence. Three days later, on the 28th of November, he died, leaving according to his father’s Will the spiritual leadership of the movement to his brother, Mohammed Ali Effendi. 237

Footnotes : 

233. See Chapter 8, note 9.

234. The Young Turk Revolution overthrew Sultan Abdul Hamid II, who had imprisoned many people in the Ottoman Empire who were regarded as political and social reformists. ‘Abdu’l-Baha, along with the rest of Baha’u’llah’s family, had been confined for decades to the vicinity of Acre in present-day Israel (then under Ottoman control), and at times in the prison-fortress in that city. The age of ‘Abdu’l-Baha when he was released is either 64 or anywhere from 67 to 69, depending on which of several purported years of birth is accurate.

235. Part One of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha—in which the author appoints Shoghi Effendi to the position of “Guardian of the Cause of God”—is generally believed to have been written sometime between 1904 and 1907, when he was anywhere from seven to ten years old.

236.‘Abdu’l-Baha attended weekly Islamic worship services throughout his life.

237. ‘Abdu’l-Baha certainly did not do so—the brothers had been feuding for years—although in the absence of an authentic will contradicting the Will and Testament of Baha’u’llah, the leadership of the Baha’i faith would have passed to the younger brother automatically according to Baha’u’llah’s instructions.

The Teachings and Will of ‘Abdu’l-Baha – – By Shua Ullah Behai

Ibrahim G Kheiralla

This chapter is taken from a chapter of Shua Ullah Behai’s book manuscript in which he quotes extensively from the published teachings of his uncle Abbas Effendi, ‘Abdu’l-Baha, and reproduces in its entirety the document regarded by all but a few Baha’is today as the Will and Testament of Abdu’l-Baha. Because that document is very long and repetitive, only some particularly relevant quotations from it have been retained here and most of it has been cut. Several quotations from speeches and writings of Abdu’l-Baha have also been removed for the sake of brevity. Section headings have been added.

The purported will of Abbas Effendi contrasts sharply with his public demeanor and rhetoric and the principles he taught Americans and Europeans who were interested in the Baha’i movement. Abdu’l-Baha was known to his Western admirers for his mild manner and high-minded teachings of peace, love, kindness, forgiveness, religious tolerance and reconciliation; but in the document considered to be his will, he rails against schismatic rivals led by his half-brother Mohammed Ali Effendi, whom he calls “The Center of Sedition” and whose goal, he says, is to “utterly destroy and exterminate” the Baha’i cause. 193   He accuses him of having broken the “Covenant” of Baha’u’llah by opposing Abdu’l-Baha, who was appointed as the leader of the faith in Baha’u’llah’s will, and declares that this “grievously fallen” brother has thus been “cut off’ from the Baha’i faith, i.e. excommunicated.

Laying out the case against Mohammed Ali Bahai, the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha makes several specific accusations: that he once claimed to write verses with equal authority as the writings of Baha’u’llah—ironically, something that Abbas Effendi himself did throughout his ministry after Baha’u’llah’s passing—and that he committed terrible acts of fraud and betrayal, such as tampering with Baha’u’llah’s writings, submitting libelous reports about his activities to the Ottoman government, and conspiring with Shua Ullah Behai and unnamed others in a plot to have him killed. Embracing the possibility of assassination or execution, he asks God to “make me to drink from the Chalice of Martyrdom, for the wide world with all its vastness can no longer contain me”; and he envisions his excommunicated brother as “afflicted by the wrath of God, sunk into a degradation and infamy that shall be lasting until the Day of Doom.” 195  The author thus casts himself in the heroic role of innocent victim and defender of the faith in the face of the sinister machinations of those he believed to be enemies—the Unitarian Baha’is, whom he calls “Covenant-breakers”— who are cast as the embodiment of utmost evil.
Also in the will, ‘Abdu’l-Baha appoints his grandson, Shoghi Effendi Rabbani, to a lofty station of infallible leadership as the “Guardian of the Cause of God.” He asserts that anyone who opposes or disputes with Mr. Rabbani has “opposed God” and should be expelled from the Baha’i community, and calls for “the wrath, the fierce indignation, the vengeance of God [to] rest upon him!” 196 —much the same as his stance toward the Unitarian Baha’is. Surprisingly, he even goes so far as to say that “To none is given the right to put forth his own opinion or express his particular conviction.” 197

The overall tenor of the document makes it difficult to believe that it could really have been a celebrated progressive religious leader’s last message to the world—especially when juxtaposed with some of the other well-known writings, speeches and sayings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha that Shua Ullah Behai presents in this chapter. Mr. Behai suggests the possibility of forgery, seemingly unwilling to accept that his uncle could have written a will laced with fierce accusations of moral and spiritual corruption against his father and himself, and criticizes the appointment of a “Guardian” for the Baha’i faith, which he likens to a “little pope.” Mr. Behai praises ‘Abdu’l-Baha as a great Baha’i leader and teacher, and emphatically denies the charge made in the will that he conspired to assassinate him.

Shua Ullah Behai was not the only person to suspect that the Will and Testament of Abdu’l-Baha may have been forged. A few years after the Baha’i leader’s death, an American Baha’i named Ruth White arose in opposition to the appointment of Shoghi Effendi Rabbani as Guardian—a position that was not called for in Baha’u’llah’s writings and which, in her view, seemed to contradict some of the teachings of Abdu’l-Baha. In 1930, she arranged for an expert to examine the handwriting of the document in which this appointment was made. Dr. C. Ainsworth Mitchell, a British forensic scientist with experience in cases of suspected forgery, was commissioned to analyze a photographic copy of the will in question and samples of ‘Abdu’l Baha’s handwriting provided by Mrs. White. In his report, he concluded that he had “failed to detect in any part of the will the characteristics of the writing of Abdul Baha, as shown in the authenticated specimens,” i.e. the samples provided for comparison. Dr. Mitchell further stated that “the writing does not agree with the hypothesis that it was all written by one person,” suggesting that the will itself may have been written by more than one hand. 198

Although C. Ainsworth Mitchell’s report does lend some credence to the possibility that the “Will and Testament of Abdu’l Baha” was forged, either in whole or in part, it certainly does not prove it. For one thing, even if the document was not written by Abdu’l-Baha’s own hand, he could have had secretaries or relatives take dictation. Also, two important points have been raised against the conclusions of Dr. Mitchell: first, that he was not experienced in analyzing handwriting in the Persian script, and in fact was illiterate in that language in which the will was written; and second, that the other samples submitted to him by Ruth White may not have been Abdu’l-Baha’s handwriting at all. 199

The validity of the will was never contested in a probate court, and Baha’is have been asked to trust Shoghi Effendi and other supporters of Abdu’l-Baha who asserted that it was authentic—and nearly all, both historically and in the present day, have done so. As later chapters of this book reveal, there is a great deal of testimony from various early Baha’i insiders which would support the mainstream belief that the alleged will of ‘Abdu’l-Baha was consistent with his views and therefore probably his own—especially the parts about rejecting Mohammed Ali Effendi as a wicked heretic. No final conclusions can be drawn, however, without rigorous forensic examination and analysis of the original document and verified handwriting samples of Abbas Effendi and others who might have had access to it.

Also of note in this chapter is the fact that Shua Ullah Behai says that Abbas Effendi was born in 1841. This conflicts with the commonly accepted Baha’i tradition which places the birth of Abdu’l-Baha in the year 1844 on the same day that the Bab declared his prophetic mission, suggesting that this story may be mythological.
—The Editor

Ghusn-i-A‘zam, the Greatest Branch, Abbas Effendi, Abdu’l- Baha—The greatness of this personage no one could deny, as he was the eldest son of Baha’u’llah, and the appointed leader of the Baha’is, according to the Will of Baha’u’llah, entitled Kitab-i-‘Ahdi.200

The pages of Baha’i history are covered with his praise. Numerous books have been published about him, by the believers and admirers, and all are testimonials to his greatness. Therefore I do not think that I could possibly add to what has been written.

His life, his orations, and his efforts in the diffusion of the sacred teachings of Baha’u’llah should be an example for the devoted followers.
He was born in Tehran, Iran, in the year 1841 A.D. 201  and passed away at Haifa, Palestine, 1921 A.D.
The following are some of his messages to mankind, and his will.

Teachings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha
‘Abdu’l-Baha says in a letter to the Baha’is of America:
Beware! Beware! Lest ye offend any heart!
Beware! Beware! Lest ye hurt any soul!
Beware! Beware! Lest ye deal unkindly toward any person!
Beware! Beware! Lest ye be the cause of hopelessness to any creature!
Should one become the cause of grief to any one heart, or of despondency to any one soul, it were better to hide oneself in the lowest depths of the earth than to walk upon the earth. 202

Again ‘Abdu’l-Baha says:
Among the teachings of Baha’u’llah is one requiring man, under all conditions and circumstances, to be forgiving, to love his enemy and to consider an ill-wisher as a well-wisher. Not that he should consider one as being an enemy and then put up with him, or to simply endure him… This is declared to be hypocrisy. This love is not real. Nay, rather, you must see your enemies as friends, ill- wishers as well-wishers and treat them accordingly. That is to say, your love and kindness must be real. Your well-wishing must be reality, not merely forbearance, for forbearance, if not of the heart, is hypocrisy.

‘Abdu’l-Baha tells us:
To be silent concerning the faults of others, to pray for them, and to help them, through kindness, to correct their faults.
To look always at the good and not at the bad. If a man has ten good qualities and one bad one, to look at the ten and forget the one; and if a man has ten bad qualities and one good one, to look at the one and forget the ten.
Never to allow ourselves to speak one unkind word about an-other, even though that other be our enemy. 203  204
To an American friend he writes:
[T]he worst human quality and the most great sin is backbiting; more especially when it emanates from the tongues of the believers of God. If some means were devised so that the doors of back-biting could be shut eternally and each one of the believers of God unsealed his tongue in the praise of the other, then the teachings of His Holiness Baha’u’llah would be spread, the hearts illuminated, the spirits glorified, and the human world would attain to everlasting felicity. 205

‘Abdu’l-Baha says:
Truthfulness is the foundation of all the virtues of the world of humanity. Without truthfulness, progress and success in all of the worlds of God are impossible for a soul. When this holy attribute is established in man, all the divine qualities will also become realized. 206

‘Abdu’l-Baha says:
Everyone must do away with false prejudices and must even go to the other churches and mosques, for, in all of these worshiping places, the name of God is mentioned. Since all gather to worship God, what difference does it make? None of these worship Satan. The Mohammedans must go to the churches of the Christians and [the synagogues] of the Jews, and vice-versa, the others must go to the Mohammedan mosques. They hold aloof from one another merely because of unfounded prejudices and dogmas. In America, I went to the Jewish synagogues, which are similar to the Christian churches, and I saw them worshiping God everywhere. In most of these places I spoke to them about the original foundations of the divine religions and I explained to them the proofs of the validity of the divine prophets and of the holy Manifestations. I encouraged them to do away with blind imitations. All of the leaders must, likewise, go to the churches of one another and speak of the foundation and of the fundamental principles of the divine religions. In the utmost unity and harmony, they must worship God, in the worshiping places of one another and they must abandon these false fanaticism. 207

‘Abdu’l-Baha says:
God has given man the eye of investigation by which he may see and recognize truth. He has endowed man with ears that he may hear the message of reality, and conferred upon him the gift of reason by which he may discover things for himself. This is his endowment and equipment for the investigation of reality. Man is not intended to see through the eyes of another, hear through another’s ears, nor comprehend with another’s brain. … Therefore, depend upon your own reason and judgment and adhere to the outcome of your own investigation; otherwise, you will be utterly submerged in the sea of ignorance and deprived of all the bounties of God. 208

‘Abdu’l-Baha’s definition of “What is a Baha’i?”:
When asked on one occasion: “What is a Baha’i?” ‘Abdu’l Baha replied: “To be a Baha’i simply means to love all the world; to love humanity and try to serve it; to work for universal peace and universal brotherhood.” … In one of [h]is London talks [h]e said that a man may be a Baha’i even if he has never heard the name of Baha’u’llah. He added:—“The man who lives the life according to the teachings of Baha’u’llah is already a Baha’i. On the other hand, a man may call himself a Baha’i for fifty years, and if he does not live the life he is not a Baha’i. An ugly man may call himself hand-some, but he deceives no one…” 209

[‘Abdu’l-Baha says:]
We are commanded to quicken the souls, to train the characters, to illumine the realm of man, to guide all the inhabitants of the earth, to create concord and unity among all men, and to lead the world of humanity to the Fountain of the Everlasting Glory. The reformation of one empire is not our aim; nay, rather we invoke from God that all the regions of the world be reformed and cultivated; the republic of men become the manifestors of the bounty of the most glorious Lord; the East and the West be brought nearer together… in brief, all the nations and peoples of the world become as one soul and one spirit, in order that strife and warfare be entirely removed and the rancor and hostility disappear, so that all become as the waves of one ocean, the drops of one sea, the flowers of one rose-garden, the trees of one orchard, the grains of one harvest, and the plants of one meadow. 210

[‘Abdu’l-Baha says:]
The Baha’i Movement is not an organization. You can never organize the Baha’i Cause. The Baha’i Movement is the spirit of this age. It is the essence of all the highest ideals of this century. The Baha’i Cause is an inclusive movement: The teachings of all the religions and societies are found here; the Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Mohammedans, Zoroastrians, Theosophists, Freemasons, Spiritualists, et. ah, find their highest aims in this Cause. Even the Socialists and philosophers find their theories fully developed in this Movement.  211

[‘Abdu’l-Baha says:]
Be ye not seated and silent! Diffuse the glad-tidings of the Kingdom far and wide to the ears, promulgate the word of God… arise ye with such qualities and attributes that ye may continually be-stow life to the body of the world, and nurse the infants of the universe up to the station of maturity and perfection. En kindle with all your might in every meeting the light of the love of God, gladden and cheer every heart with the utmost loving-kindness, show forth your love to the strangers just as you show forth to your relations. If a soul is seeking to quarrel, ask ye for reconciliation; if he blame you, praise (him); if he give you a deadly poison, bestow ye an all-healing antidote; if he createth death, administer ye eternal life; if he becometh a thorn, change ye into roses and hyacinths. Perchance, through such deeds and words, this darkened world will become illuminated, this terrestrial universe will become transformed into a heavenly realm, and this satanic prison become a divine court; warfare and bloodshed be annihilated, and love and faithfulness hoist the tent of unity upon the apex of the world.  212

In his farewell address to the Baha’is in New York, USA, ‘Abdu’l- Baha said :
You must manifest complete love and affection toward all mankind. Do not exalt yourselves above others, but consider all as your equals, recognizing them as the servants of one God. Know that God is compassionate toward all; therefore, love all from the depths of your hearts, prefer all religionists before yourselves, be filled with love for every race, and be kind toward the people of all nationalities. Never speak disparagingly of others, but praise with-out distinction. Pollute not your tongues by speaking evil of an-other. Recognize your enemies as friends, and consider those who wish you evil as the wishers of good…. Act in such a way that your heart may be free from hatred. Let not your heart be offended with anyone. If some one commits an error and wrong toward you, you must instantly forgive him. Do not complain of others. Refrain from reprimanding them, and if you wish to give admonition or advice, let it be offered in such a way that it will not burden the bearer. Turn all your thoughts toward bringing joy to hearts. Be-ware! Beware! lest ye offend any heart. Assist the world of humanity as much as possible. Be the source of consolation to every sad one, assist every weak one, be helpful to every indigent one, care for every sick one, be the cause of glorification to every lowly one, and shelter those who are overshadowed by fear.
In brief, let each one of you be as a lamp shining forth with the light of the virtues of the world of humanity. Be trustworthy, sincere, affectionate and replete with chastity. Be illumined, be spiritual, be divine, be glorious, be quickened of God, be a Baha’i.  213

Excerpts from the Alleged Will of ‘Abdu’l-Baha

[Three years after ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s death, his grandson Shoghi Effendi Rabbani allowed the leaders of the North American Baha’i community to distribute to the members a document purported to be the last will and testament of the deceased successor of Baha’u’llah, forbidding them from publishing any part of it or disseminating it to nonbelievers:]

I feel that the conditions are now favorable for the circulation of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha only in manuscript form and among recognized believers in America. Every such believer should be trusted with a single copy with the express understanding that no duplicate copies or extracts of it be made or published anywhere. 214

The will was issued in accordance with the conditions laid down by Shoghi Effendi, by the National Spiritual Assembly, in February, 1925. [The following are excerpts from the will, which was eventually made available to the general public.]
[The document contains serious charges and a statement of excommunication pronounced against Mohammed Ali EfFendi, the eldest surviving son of Baha’u’llah:]

O ye that stand fast and firm in the Covenant! The Center of Sedition, the Prime Mover of mischief, Mirza Muhammad ‘All, hath passed out from under the shadow of the Cause, hath broken the Covenant, hath falsified the Holy Text, hath inflicted a grievous loss upon the true Faith of God, hath scattered His people, hath with bitter rancor endeavored to hurt ‘Abdul-Baha and hath assailed with the utmost enmity this servant of the Sacred Threshold. Every dart he seized and hurled to pierce the breast of this wronged servant, no wound did he neglect to grievously inflict upon me, no venom did he spare but he poisoned therewith the life of this hapless one…. [I]t is incumbent upon everyone to hold fast unto the Text of the clear and firmly established blessed verse, revealed about him. None other transgression greater than his can be ever imagined. He (Baha’u’llah) sayeth, glorious and holy is His Word:—“My foolish loved ones have regarded him even as my partner, have kindled sedition in the land and they verily are of the mischief-makers…. Should he for a moment pass out from under the shadow of the Cause, he surely shall be brought to naught.”

… Ere long will ye behold him and his associates, outwardly and inwardly, condemned to utter ruin.

What deviation can be greater than breaking the Covenant of God!… What deviation can be greater than calumniating the Center of the Covenant [‘Abdu’l-Baha] himself! What deviation can be more glaring than spreading broadcast false and foolish reports touching the Temple of God’s Testament! 215  What deviation can be more grievous than decreeing the death of the Center of the Covenant, supported by the holy verse:—“He that layeth a claim ere the passing of a thousand years…,” 216  whilst he (Muhammad ‘All) without shame in the days of the Blessed Beauty [Baha’u’llah] had advanced such a claim as this and been confuted by Him in the aforementioned manner, the text of his claim being still extant in his own handwriting and bearing his own seal….

[I]n concert with others, he that hath broken the Covenant, hath prepared a document teeming with calumny and slander wherein, the Lord forbid, among many similar slanderous charges, ‘Abdu’l-Baha is deemed a deadly enemy, the ill-wisher of the Crown. They so perturbed the minds of the members of the Im-perial Government that at last a Committee of Investigation was sent from the seat of His Majesty’s Government which, violating every rule of justice and equity that befit His Imperial Majesty, nay, with the most glaring injustice, proceeded with its investigations.

… One of their many calumnies was that this servant had raised aloft a banner in this city, had summoned the people together under it, had established a new sovereignty for himself, had erected upon Mount Carmel a mighty stronghold, had rallied around him all the peoples of the land and made them obedient to him, had caused disruption in the Faith of Islam, had covenanted with the following of Christ and, God forbid, had purposed to cause the gravest breach in the mighty power of the Crown. May the Lord protect us from such atrocious falsehoods!…

In like manner, the focal Center of Hate [Mohammed Ali], hath purposed to put Abdu’l-Baha to death and this is supported by the testimony written by Mirza Shu‘a‘u’llah [i.e. Shua Ullah Behai] himself and is here enclosed.217  It is evident and indisputable that they are privily and with the utmost subtlety engaged in conspiring against me. The following are his very words written by him in this letter:—“I curse at every moment him that hath kindled this discord, imprecate in these words ‘Lord! have no mercy upon him’ and I hope ere long God will make manifest the one that shall have no pity on him, who now weareth another garb and about whom I cannot any more explain.” Reference he doth make by these words to the sacred verse that beginneth as follows:—“He that layeth a claim ere the passing of a thousand years…” 218  Reflect! How intent they are upon the death of ‘Abdu’l-Baha!…

In short, O ye beloved of the Lord! The Center of Sedition, Mirza Muhammad ‘All, in accordance with the decisive words of God and by reason of his boundless transgression, hath grievously fallen and been cut off from the Holy Tree [i.e. excommunicated]. Verily, we wronged them not, but they have wronged themselves!  219
[The document also refers to a charge made against Mohammed Ali Effendi in a letter distributed by ‘Abdu’l-Baha, which was written by Badi Ullah Effendi when he briefly switched sides in the conflict between his elder brothers, and accuses the latter of materialistic motives, duplicity and spying:]

Adversities have waxed still more severe as they rose with unbearable cruelty to overpower and crush me, as they scattered far and wide their scrolls of doubt and in utter falsehood hurled their calumnies upon me. Not content with this, their chief [Mohammed Ali], O my God, hath dared to interpolate Thy Book [i.e. Ba- ha’u’llah’s “Book of the Temple”], to fraudulently alter Thy decisive Holy Text and falsify that which hath been revealed by Thy All- Glorious Pen. He did also maliciously insert that which Thou didst reveal for the one that hath wrought the most glaring cruelty upon Thee, disbelieved in Thee and denied Thy wondrous Signs [i.e. Subh-i-Azal], into what Thou didst reveal forth is servant of Thine that hath been wronged in this world. 220 All this he did that he might beguile the souls of men and breathe his evil whispering into the hearts of Thy devoted ones. Thereunto did their second chief [BadiUllah] testify, confessing it in his own handwriting, set¬ting thereupon his seal and spreading it throughout all regions….
Gracious God! After Mirza Badi’u’llah had declared in his own handwriting that this man (Muhammad ‘All) had broken the Covenant and had proclaimed his falsification of the Holy Text, he realized that to return to the True Faith and pay allegiance to the Covenant and Testament would in no wise promote his selfish desires. He thus repented and regretted the thing he had done and attempted privily to gather in his printed confessions, plotted darkly with the Center of Sedition against me and informed him daily of all the happenings within my household. 221   222

[Here the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha commands the Baha’is to shun Mohammed Ali Effendi, his supporters, and anyone who has any connection at all with him:]

And now, one of the greatest and most fundamental principles of the Cause of God is to shun and avoid entirely the Covenant-breakers, for they will utterly destroy the Cause of God, ex-terminate His Law and render of no account all efforts exerted in the past….

[S]hould this man [Mohammed Ali] succeed in bringing disruption into the Cause of God, he will utterly destroy and exterminate it. Beware lest ye approach this man, for to approach him is worse than approaching fire!…

[I]t is incumbent upon the friends that are fast and firm in the Covenant and Testament to be ever wakeful lest after this wronged one [i.e. ‘Abdu’l-Baha] is gone this alert and active worker of mischief may cause disruption, privily sow the seeds of doubt and sedition and utterly root out the Cause of God. A thousand times shun his company. Take heed and be on your guard. Watch and examine; should anyone, openly or privily, have the least connection with him, cast him out from your midst, for he will surely cause disruption and mischief. 223

[T]he beloved of the Lord must entirely shun them [i.e. the fol-lowers of Mohammed Ali], avoid them, foil their machinations and evil whispering, guard the Law of God and His religion, engage one and all in diffusing widely the sweet savors of God and to the best of their endeavor proclaim His Teachings.224

[Having given the reader reasons to believe that Mohammed Ali Effendi should not become the second successor of Baha’u’llah as envisioned in his will, the author of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha appoints Shoghi Effendi Rabbani to a position of “Guardianship” with supreme authority as the representative of God and chairman of the Universal House of Justice, and decrees that he should be succeeded by his lineal descendants:]

Salutation and praise, blessing and glory rest upon that primal branch of the Divine and Sacred Lote-Tree [i.e. Shoghi Effendi], grown out, blest, tender, verdant and flourishing from the Twin Holy Trees [the Bab and Baha’u’llah]; the most wondrous, unique and priceless pearl that doth gleam from out the Twin surging seas; … [and] upon them that have believed, rested assured, stood steadfast in His Covenant and followed the Light that after my passing shineth from the Day spring of Divine Guidance—for behold! he [Shoghi Effendi] is the blest and sacred bough that hath branched out from the Twin Holy Trees.225  Well is it with him that seeketh the shelter of his shade that shadoweth all mankind….

O my loving friends! After the passing away of this wronged one, it is incumbent upon the Aghsan (Branches) [i.e. sons of Baha’u’llah], the Afnan (Twigs) of the Sacred Lote-Tree [i.e. relatives of the Bab], the Hands (pillars) of the Cause of God [i.e. highest appointed Baha’i leaders] and the loved ones of the Abha Beauty [i.e. followers of Baha’u’llah] to turn unto Shoghi Effendi… as he is the sign of God, the chosen branch, the Guardian of the Cause of God… He is the Interpreter of the Word of God and after him will succeed the first-born of his lineal descendants.

The sacred and youthful branch, the Guardian of the Cause of God, as well as the Universal House of Justice to be universally elected and established, are both under the care and protection of the Abha Beauty [Baha’u’llah], under the shelter and unerring guidance of the Exalted One [the Bab] (may my life be offered up for them both). Whatsoever they decide is of God. Whoso obeyeth him not [i.e. the Guardian], neither obeyeth them [the House of Justice], hath not obeyed God; whoso rebelleth against him and against them hath rebelled against God; whoso opposeth him hath opposed God; whoso contendeth with them hath contended with God; whoso disputeth with him hath disputed with God; whoso denieth him hath denied God; whoso disbelieved! in him hath disbelieved in God; whoso deviateth, separateth himself and turneth aside from him hath in truth deviated, separated himself and turned aside from God. May the wrath, the fierce indignation, the vengeance of God rest upon him! The mighty stronghold shall remain impregnable and safe through obedience to him who is the Guardian of the Cause of God. It is incumbent upon the members of the House of Justice, upon all the Aghsan, the Afnan, the Hands of the Cause of God to show their obedience, submissiveness and subordination unto the Guardian of the Cause of God, to turn unto him and be lowly before him. He that opposeth him hath opposed the True One, will make a breach in the Cause of God, will subvert His Word and will become a manifestation of the Center of Sedition. Beware, beware, lest the days after the ascension (of Baha’u’llah) be repeated when the Center of Sedition [Mohammed AH] waxed haughty and rebellious and with Divine Unity for his excuse deprived himself and perturbed and poisoned others….

It is incumbent upon the Guardian of the Cause of God to appoint in his own Lifetime him that shall become his successor,that differences may not arise after his passing. … [S]hould the first-born… not inherit of the spiritual within him… then must he (the Guardian of the Cause of God) choose another branch [i.e. male descendant of Baha’u’llah] to succeed him.

The Hands of the Cause of God must elect from their own number nine persons… [who] must give their assent to the choice of the one whom the Guardian of the Cause of God hath chosen as his successor….

And now, concerning the House of Justice which God hath ordained as the source of all good and freed from all error… the Guardian of the Cause of God is its sacred head and the distinguished member for life of that body. … Should any of the members commit a sin, injurious to the common weal, the Guardian of the Cause of God hath at his own discretion the right to expel him, whereupon the people must elect another one in his stead. 226

To none is given the right to put forth his own opinion or express his particular conviction. All must seek guidance and turn unto the Center of the Cause [i.e. the Guardian] and the House of Justice. And he that turneth unto whatsoever else is indeed in grievous error. 227

[The “Guardian” is empowered to appoint and oversee a body of Baha’i religious leaders called “Hands of the Cause of God,” who are given the power of excommunication:]

[T]he Hands of the Cause of God must be ever watchful and so soon as they find anyone beginning to oppose and protest against the Guardian of the Cause of God, cast him out from the congregation of the people of Baha and in no wise accept any excuse from him….

O friends! The Hands of the Cause of God must be nominated and appointed by the Guardian of the Cause of God. All must be under his shadow and obey his command. Should any, within or without the company of the Hands of the Cause of God disobey and seek division, the wrath of God and His vengeance will be upon him, for he will have caused a breach in the true Faith of God. 228

[Baha’is are instructed to donate 19% of their wealth to the Guardian of the faith:]
The Lord, as a sign of His infinite bounties, hath graciously favored His servants by providing for a fixed money offering (Huquq), to be dutifully presented unto Him … It is to be offered through the Guardian of the Cause of God, that it may be ex-pended for the diffusion of the Fragrances of God and the exaltation of His Word, for benevolent pursuits and for the common weal. 230

Reaction to the Alleged Will
When this will was published, I hoped that eventually it will be considered invalid, for the following reasons:

First, it is in violation of the commands of Baha’u’llah, and the laws laid down by him.

Second, it is contradictory to ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s own teachings, and Baha’i principles which he so nobly advocated.

Third, it is the destroyer of the foundation of liberty of thought, faith, belief, speech, and the press.

But my hopes were shattered and my expectations were in vain, when one of the Baha’i communities, namely “The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States and Canada,” attributed such a prominence to this will, by incorporating the same into the by¬laws of their organization, and compelling the members to become loyal and steadfast adherents to every clause of this will. Thus, reproducing the “catechism” of the old Roman Church:

• Baha’i Trinity [i.e. a trinity of divinely inspired chiefs of the faith: the Bab, Baha’u’llah, and ‘Abdu’l-Baha].

• Baha’i Elders [i.e. the Hands of the Cause]. 231

• Guardians of the Cause, little popes, perpetual representatives of God on earth. 232

• Excommunications.

• Absolutions.

• etc. etc. etc.

I firmly believe that Abdu’l-Baha was too wise to leave such a will, and I am in doubt of its authenticity.

Denial of Accusations

In this will, I am accused that, “God forbid,” I have conspired against the life of Abdu’l-Baha.
How could it be possible that I should contemplate such an unlawful action towards my beloved uncle, my father’s brother, and the father of the dearest lady [Mr. Behai’s cousin Ruha Khanum] to whom I was engaged in my young days, and whom, despite the elapse of years, still I respect, cherish, and honor?

I emphatically deny the accusations against me in this will, and I believe that they are fabricated by those who wrote the will, for the sole purpose of gaining control of leadership, as it is evident today.

Complying with the commands of Baha’u’llah, I forgive my accusers. Thank God, my conscience is clear, my character is clean, my name is unstained, and I know that the accusations are falsehood.

Footnotes :

193. The Will And Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha (Wilmette, 111.: US Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1990 reprint), Part Two, p. 21.

194. Ibid., Part One, p. 9.
195. Ibid., Part Three, pp. 23, 24.
 196.Ibid., Part One, p. u.
 197.Ibid., Part Three, p. 26.

198. A complete copy of Dr. Mitchell’s report is available online at http://www. fglaysher.com/bahaicensorship/CAMitchell_Report.html

199.Sen McGlinn, “Mitchell’s mistake,” blog article at http://senmcglinn. w0rdpress.c0m/2009/05/27/mitchells_mistake/

200.Unitarian Baha’is referred to Baha’u’llah’s will as Kitab-i-‘Ahdi (“Book of My Covenant”), whereas in the mainstream Baha’i tradition it is called Kitab-i- ‘Ahd (“Book of the Covenant”) in English. Technically, Kitab-i-Ahdi  is correct, as shown by the use of this version of the title on an Arabic-language page of the Baha’i organization’s own website (http://info.bahai.org/arabic/ covenant.html, accessed November 12, 2014).

201. Cambridge University Professor Edward Granville Browne, one of the greatest early scholars of the Babi/Baha’i faith, also gives 1841 A.D. (1257 A.H.) as the year of‘Abdu’l-Baha’s birth, in his 1918 book Materials for the Study of the Babi Religion (p. 320). This is the same year given by Mohammed Jawad Gazvini in An Epitome of Babi and Bahai History toA.D. i8g8, translated in full by Prof. Browne in Materials (p. 47). Ibrahim G. Kheiralla relates in his autobiography (see Chapter 25) that ‘Abdu’l-Baha said he had been 27 years old in 1867, which would place his birth in 1839 or 1840. However, Baha’is today believe that ‘Abdu’l-Baha was born on May 23,1844, on the night when the Bab declared his prophethood.
     

202. Quoted by J. E. Esslemont in Bahaullah and the New Era (Wilmette, 111.: US Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1980 edition), p. 81.

203.Address delivered in Oakland, California, October 3,1912. Published in Star of the West, Vol. IV, No. n, p. 191. Emphasis in original. Available online at http://starofthewest.info

204. Quoted by J. E. Esslemont in Bahd’u’lldh and the New Era (Wilmette, 111.: US Bahai Publishing Trust, 1980 edition), p. 83.

205. “Tablet to Doctor M. G. Skinner, Washington, D.C.,” 1913. Published in Star of the West, Vol. IV, No. 11, p. 192. Emphasis in original.

206. Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas, Vol. II (Chicago: Bahai Publishing Society, 1909 edition), p. 459.
207. Quoted in Star of the West, Vol. IX, No. 3, p. 37.

208. Talk given in Malden, Massachusetts, August 29, 1912. Published in The Promulgation of Universal Peace (Wilmette, 111.: US Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1982 second edition), p. 293.
 

209. Quoted by J. E. Esslemont in Baha’u’llah and the New Era (Wilmette, 111.: US Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1980 edition), p. 71. Pronouns referring to ‘Abdu’l- Baha have been changed to lowercase (see bracketed text), but were capitalized in Esslemont’s book according to official Baha’i policy.

210. Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas, Vol. Ill (Chicago: Bahai Publishing Society, 1909 edition), p. 490.
     

211. Shua Ullah Behai notes the source of this quotation as “from a booklet N. 9.” This editor was unable to locate an extant copy of the booklet or determine its title and publisher. However, the same quotation with slightly different wording was also published in Star of the West, Vol. V, No. 5, p. 67. This version is reproduced here; emphasis indicated in all caps in the original.

212. Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas, Vol. Ill (Chicago: Bahai Publishing Society, 1909 edition), pp. 503-504.

213.Talk given in New York City, December 2,1912. Published in The Promulga­tion of Universal Peace (Wilmette, 111.: US Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1982 second edition), p. 453.

214. From a letter written by Mr. Rabbani to the American National Spiritual As­sembly of the Baha’is, dated November 27,1924. The full letter can be found in a “Compilation of Letters and Extracts of Writings from the Guardian Pub­lished in the Baha’i News of the United States, December 1924 – November 1934,” and was published in the January 1925 issue of that periodical. Available online at http://bahai-library.org/books/bahainews.guardian/

215.The “Temple of God’s Testament” appears to be a reference by ‘Abdu’l-Baha to himself, similar in meaning to the “Center of the Covenant,” i.e. the person in whom Baha’uilah invested authority in his will and testament, known as the Book of the Covenant.

216. Baha’uilah strictly prohibited anyone from claiming to be a new messenger of God during the next one thousand years after his own ministry: “Whoso layeth claim to a Revelation direct from God, ere the expiration of a full thou­sand years, such a man is assuredly a lying impostor.” (Kitab-i-Aqdas, para­graph 37).

217. This alleged testimony by Mr. Behai is not included in the book version of The Will And Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha. As far as this editor has been able to determine, it has never been published.

218. Later in the verse, Baha’u’llah warns that a false prophet will experience a “merciless” punishment sent by God, but the specific nature of the punishment, and whether it is carried out by a supernatural or human agent, is not specified.
     

219. The Will And Testament of ‘Abdul Baha (Wilmette, 111.: US Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1990 reprint), Part One, pp. 5-9.
     

220. The allegation is that Mohammed Ali Bahai changed one of Baha’u’llah’s writings which criticized Mirza Yahya Subh-i-Azal, a half-brother of Baha’u’l­lah who refused to follow him and who made prophetic claims of his own, by substituting the name of‘Abdu’l-Baha to make it appear as if Baha’u’llah’s crit­icism was directed at him. This is in addition to the previous allegation of in­terpolation, which is regarding the text of a book by Baha’u’llah that Mr. Bahai prepared for publication.

221  & 222. The Will And Testament of‘Abdu’l-Baha (Wilmette, 111.: US Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1990 reprint), Part Two, pp. 17-18, 21.

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

224. Ibid., Part Three, p. 25.

225. Shoghi Effendi Rabbani was descended both from Baha’u’llah (as his great- grandson) and from the family of the Bab (as his great-grand-nephew). See Appendix B for genealogical lists of these two families and the intermarriages between them.

226. The Will And Testament of Abdu’l-Baha (Wilmette, III.: US Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1990 reprint), Part One, pp. 3,11-12,14.

227. Ibid., Part Three, p. 26.

228. Ibid., Part One, pp. 12-13.
     

229. Baha’u’llah encouraged his followers to give him 19% of their wealth to be used for the benefit of the faith, a tithe he called Huququ’llah, meaning the “Right of God” (Kitab-i-Aqdas, paragraph 97). He did not provide specific in¬structions regarding how the practice of Huquq should continue after his own passing, although he did write in his will that “The love of the Branches is in¬cumbent upon all, but God hath not ordained to any of them any right from the properties of the people.” (See “The Book of My Covenant” in Chapter 6). Nevertheless, some Baha’is gave Huququ’llah to ‘Abdu’l-Baha during his life¬time.
     

230. The Will And Testament of’Ahdu’TBaha (Wilmette, 111.: US Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1990 reprint), Part One, p. 15.

231.The institution of the Hands of the Cause of God, as described in the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, is somewhat similar in function to the College of Cardinals in the Roman Catholic Church.
     

232. A more accurate comparison for the Baha’i Guardianship would actually be the Shi’ite Imamate rather than the Catholic Papacy, since the Guardians were to be descendants of Baha’u’llah in each generation as the Twelve Imams were lineal descendants of the Prophet Muhammad. However, in terms of functioning as an officially chosen, supposedly infallible representative of God on earth, the offices were similar.

Tributes to Baha’u’llah and His Mission – Compiled, by Shua Ullah Behai

Tablet of Baha'u'llahThis 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.
—The Editor

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

Footnotes :

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.
186.Matthew 6:10.

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.

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

Shua Ullah Behai  in 1930

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baha’u’llah’s “Glad Tidings” 124

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

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

O people of the earth:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Epistle to King William I, German Emperor  138

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

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

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

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

Epistle to the Kings and Presidents of America  141

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

146.Cf. Matthew 3:1-3.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baha'u'llah 's Family

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baha’i Principles – By Shua Ullah Behai

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baha’u’llah said:

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

78. The Hidden Words, Arabic #68.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

89. Ibid., paragraph 154.

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

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

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

Baha’u’llah said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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