The Declaration of Bahá'u'lláh in the Garden of Ridván

His Influence on the People of Baghdád

The contrast between Bahá'u'lláh and Mírzá Yahyá is the contrast between light and darkness. Indeed, the Manifestation of God is exalted above humanity and there can be no comparison between the Source of all goodness and those who arise to oppose Him. Not only is this true in the spiritual sense; outwardly the Manifestation of God is endowed with a power and authority which are inherent in Him. This is especially true of Bahá'u'lláh, whose Revelation is the culmination of all the Revelations of the past.

The awe-inspiring majesty of Bahá'u'lláh's public appearances and the authority with which He spoke to both friend and foe are facts which even His greatest adversaries have acknowledged. 'Abdu'l-Bahá mentions that those who persecuted the Prophets of the past were able to deride and ridicule them. They laughed at Moses because He was a stammerer, and jeered at Christ because, in their estimation, He had no father. The barbarous people of Arabia, at the time of Muhammad, laughed at Him, also, because of His inability to beget an heir!

But in the case of Bahá'u'lláh, His glory was so overwhelming that everyone felt inferior in His presence. Even His enemies became humble when they came in contact with His person. While He was chained and fettered in the Síyáh-Chál of Tihrán, the officials in that dungeon became subdued by His greatness. And when He was released from that prison and conducted to the Prime Minister's office in Tihrán, it was not the


latter who dominated the scene; it was Bahá'u'lláh who spoke with authority and rebuked the Prime Minister for his shortsightedness and incompetence. Similarly, in Constantinople, in Adrianople and 'Akká, the enemies and the authorities both civil and ecclesiastical were confounded when they witnessed the spiritual power with which He was invested.

Before Bahá'u'lláh's arrival in Baghdád, the followers of the Báb in that city did not dare associate with each other in public for fear of being persecuted. The Faith was regarded as a heresy and its adherents ran the risk of losing their lives if they openly declared their faith. Yet, soon after His arrival there, Bahá'u'lláh decided to appear in public. He often went into the streets and bazaars of Baghdád and frequented certain cafes. Although He was well-known as a leading figure of the newly-born Faith, the people of Baghdád were charmed by His innate love and dignity, and many of them became His admirers.

Through His majesty which was born of God the enemies of the Cause were humbled. To cite a single example: In the early days of His sojourn in Baghdád, on one occasion, Bahá'u'lláh passed by the estate of Prince 'Alí Sháh, the Zillu's-Sultán,* in company with a few believers. There he overheard a disparaging remark about the Faith from some men who were attached to the household of the Prince. Immediately Bahá'u'lláh turned back, rebuked them severely for their behaviour and demanded that they be punished by their master. He further told the crowd to remind the Prince that neither the pomp and might of the sovereign, Násiri'd-Dín Sháh, nor all the persecutions he had inflicted, had made any impression upon the followers of the Báb, and they had failed to break their spirit. How much less, then, would they be affected by the Prince's opposition. So potent were His words that the haughty Prince punished his people and sent his son Shujá'u'd-Dawlih to Bahá'u'lláh to convey his apologies.


* Not to be confused with the eldest son of Násiri'd-Dín Sháh, Prince Mas'úd Mírzá, also known as the Zillu's-Sultán, who was stigmatized by Bahá'u'lláh as the 'Infernal Tree'.

For no less than eight years the supreme Manifestation of God lived freely among the inhabitants of Baghdád. He walked among them, sat with them and poured out His affection and bounties upon them. Although He did not disclose His station to them, yet multitudes of people from all walks of life were attracted to His person and longed to attain His presence, to hear His words, or even catch a glimpse of Him as He walked in the streets or paced along the bank of the Tigris rapt in meditation.

During this period, also, many Bábís from Persia came in contact with Bahá'u'lláh, and some became great heroes of His Faith. To those already mentioned should be added two brothers who were among the most illustrious of Bahá'u'lláh's apostles. These two were honoured with the appellations of 'King of the Martyrs' and 'Beloved of the Martyrs' by His pen.

The Festival of Ridván

The love and admiration of the people for Bahá'u'lláh was fully demonstrated on the day of His departure from His 'Most Great House' in Baghdád. Then His majesty and greatness were evident to both friend and foe. The news of His forthcoming departure for Constantinople had spread rapidly among the inhabitants of Baghdád and its neighbouring towns, and large numbers wished to attain His presence and pay their last tributes to Him. But soon it became apparent that His house was too small for the purpose. When Najíb Páshá, one of the notables of the city of Baghdád heard of this, he immediately placed his garden-park, Najíbíyyih, at the disposal of Bahá'u'lláh. This beautiful garden, designated by His followers as the Garden of Ridván (Paradise), was situated on the outskirts of Baghdád, across the river from Bahá'u'lláh's house.

Thirty-one days after Naw-Rúz, on 22 April 1863,* in the


* Thirty-one days after Naw-Rúz (21 March) normally falls on 21 April. Occasionally, as in the year 1863, when the vernal equinox takes place after sunset, Naw-Rúz is celebrated on 22 March.

afternoon, Bahá'u'lláh moved to this garden, where He remained for twelve days. On the first day He declared His Mission to His companions.* These twelve days are celebrated by the Bahá'ís as the Festival of Ridván.

The departure of Bahá'u'lláh from His house witnessed a commotion the like of which Baghdád had rarely seen. People of all walks of life, men and women, rich and poor, young and old, men of learning and culture, princes, government officials, tradesmen and workers, and above all His companions, thronged the approaches of His house and crowded the streets and roof-tops situated along His route to the river. They were lamenting and weeping the departure of One Who, for a decade, had imparted to them the warmth of His love and the radiance of His spirit, Who had been a refuge and guide for them all.

When Bahá'u'lláh appeared in the courtyard of His house His companions, grief-stricken and disconsolate, prostrated themselves at His feet. For some time He stood there, amid the weeping and lamentations of His loved ones, speaking words of comfort and promising to receive each of them in the garden later. Bahá'u'lláh in a Tablet mentions that when He had walked some way towards the gate, amidst the crowds, a child† of only a few years ran forward and, clinging to His robes, wept aloud, begging Him in his tender young voice not to leave. In such an atmosphere, where emotions had been so deeply stirred, this action on the part of a small child moved the hearts and brought further grief to everyone.

The scenes of lamentation and weeping outside the house, of those who did not confess to be His followers, were no less spectacular and heart-rending. Everyone in the crowded street sought to approach Him. Some prostrated themselves at His feet, others waited to hear a few words, yet others were content with a touch of His hands, a glance at His face. A Persian lady


* This is stated by 'Abdu'l-Bahá in a talk given at Bahjí on 29 April 1916.1

† He was Áqá 'Alí, the son of Hájí Mírzá Kamálu'd-Dín-i-Naráqí, to whom reference was made on p. 56.

1. Risáliy-i-Ayyám-i-Tis'ih, p. 330.
of noble birth, who was not herself a believer, pushed her way into the crowd and with a gesture of sacrifice threw her child at the feet of Bahá'u'lláh. These demonstrations continued all the way to the bank of the river.

Before crossing the river, Bahá'u'lláh addressed His companions who had gathered around Him, saying:

O My companions, I entrust to your keeping this city of Baghdád, in the state ye now behold it, when from the eyes of friends and strangers alike, crowding its housetops, its streets and markets, tears like the rain of spring are flowing down, and I depart. With you it now rests to watch lest your deeds and conduct dim the flame of love that gloweth within the breasts of its Inhabitants.2

Bahá'u'lláh was then ferried across the river accompanied by three of His sons: 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Mírzá Mihdí (the Purest Branch) and Muhammad-'Alí, who were eighteen, fourteen and ten years of age, respectively. With them also was His amanuensis, Mírzá Áqá Ján. The identity of others who may have accompanied Him, or of those in the garden who had pitched His tent and were making preparations for His arrival, or of those who might have followed Him on that day, is not clearly known.

The call to afternoon prayer was raised from the mosque and the words 'Alláh'u'-Akbar' (God is the Greatest) chanted by the mu'adhdhin* reverberated through the garden as the King of Glory entered it. There, Bahá'u'lláh appeared in the utmost joy, walking majestically in its avenues lined with flowers and trees. The fragrance of the roses and the singing of the nightingales created an atmosphere of beauty and enchantment.

The companions of Bahá'u'lláh had, for some time, known the Declaration of His station to be imminent. This realization came to them not only as a result of many remarks and allusions made by Him during the last few months of His sojourn in Baghdád, but also through a noticeable change in His de-


* Muezzin: the one who calls to prayer.

2. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 149, for the lines quoted.
meanour. Another sign which unmistakably pointed to its approaching hour was the adoption, on the day of His departure from His house in Baghdád, of a different type of headdress known as táj (tall felt hat), which He wore throughout His ministry.

'Abdu'l-Bahá has described how, upon His arrival in the garden, Bahá'u'lláh declared His station to those of His companions who were present, and announced with great joy the inauguration of the Festival of Ridván.*

Sadness and grief vanished and the believers were filled with delight at this announcement. Although Bahá'u'lláh was being exiled to far-off lands and knew the sufferings and tribulations which were in store for Him and His followers, yet through this historic Declaration He changed all sorrow into blissful joy and spent the most delightful time of His ministry in the Garden of Ridván. Indeed, in one of His Tablets, He has referred to the first day of Ridván as the 'Day of supreme felicity', and has called on His followers to 'rejoice, with exceeding gladness' in remembrance of that day.3

The manner of the Declaration of Bahá'u'lláh's Mission is not clear, neither is the identity of all who heard Him. One thing, however, is clear. During His ten-years' sojourn in 'Iráq, although Bahá'u'lláh had alluded to His station, and identified Himself with the utterances of God revealed in His Tablets, He had never designated Himself as 'Him Whom God shall make manifest'. It was in the Garden of Ridván that, in the course of His Declaration, He unequivocally did so, announcing Himself as the One Whose advent the Báb had proclaimed, for Whose sake He had sacrificed Himself and for Whom He had established a covenant with His followers. That day was one of the most eventful in the life of Bahá'u'lláh. The whole day He was occupied with important affairs, which culminated in the Declaration of His Mission--the most momentous event of His ministry.

One of the differences between the Manifestation of God and


* See p. 260, n. 1.

3. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 154, for the words quoted.
man is that the latter becomes easily overwhelmed when afflicted by sufferings and faced with insurmountable obstacles. Under such circumstances, even men of outstanding ability show their weakness and reveal their incompetence. Their minds can cope only with one problem at a time, and they often seek the help of experts and advisers when they make a decision.

This is not so with the Manifestation of God. In the first place, He acts independently and no individual can ever assist Him. His soul is not bound by the limitations of the world of humanity and His mind is not overwhelmed when He is faced with a large number of simultaneous problems. In the midst of calamities, when the ablest of men succumb under pressure, He can remain detached and channel His thoughts to whatever He desires. This is one of the distinguishing characteristics of the Manifestation of God, and Bahá'u'lláh in the Kitáb-i-Íqán has explained this by quoting the celebrated Islámic passage: 'Nothing whatsoever keepeth Him from being occupied with any other thing'.4 For instance, when Bahá'u'lláh declared His station, the believers who were in His presence became ecstatic. Their thoughts must have been focused only upon that momentous statement. But Bahá'u'lláh turned His attention to the events of a decade before, to the heroism and self-sacrifice of the followers of the Báb in the small town of Nayríz, in the province of Fárs in Persia.


He did this by revealing the Súriy-i-Sabr (Súrih of Patience), otherwise known as Lawh-i-Ayyúb (Tablet of Job), which is equal in length to almost one-quarter of the Kitáb-i-Íqán. This Tablet, in Arabic, was revealed in honour of Hájí Muhammad-Taqí, a native of Nayríz, upon whom Bahá'u'lláh bestowed the title of Ayyúb (Job).

He was a man of wealth and culture, highly respected by his fellow citizens, who reposed such trust in him that they would deposit their savings with him and often exchange his receipts


4. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán, p. 43 (Brit.}, p. 67 (U.S.).
instead of money. When in 1850 Vahíd arrived in Nayríz, awakening a spiritual turmoil far-reaching in its consequences, a considerable number of devoted souls were deeply affected, rallied around Vahíd and embraced the Faith of the Báb.* Foremost among these was Hájí Muhammad-Taqí, who offered to provide the means for the propagation of the Cause in that area.

Zaynu'l-'Ábidín Khán, the Governor of Nayríz, was alarmed by the tumultuous reception accorded to Vahíd by the people of the town, and was shocked and angered when he saw that great numbers were entering the Faith within the span of a few days. He decided to take immediate action, and ordered the army to wipe out the newly-formed community and kill its leader. Soon there was a great upheaval and the followers of the Báb were forced to take refuge in an old fort outside the town. Though vastly outnumbered by the army, and in spite of their lack of training, these defenders of the fort of Khájih fought with such courage and heroism that their enemies suffered humiliating defeat and were forced to withdraw in terror.

Having realized the futility of his armed intervention, Zaynu'l-'Ábidín Khán resorted to deception and treachery. Cunningly, he raised the cry of peace, sent a message in writing to the defenders of the fort to invite Vahíd and other leaders to visit him in the army camp, and pledged his word to investigate the truth of the Cause of the Báb and to end all bloodshed and strife. In order to beguile those simple and pure-hearted men, he and his staff affixed their seal to the Qur'án and sent it with this message as a testimony of their honesty and truthfulness. Vahíd knew their treachery, but to honour the Qur'án he emerged from the fort and went to the camp, where he was at first ceremoniously received. There he rebuked the authorities for their tyranny and blindness and called on them to investigate and embrace the new-born Faith of God. So penetrating were his words that the Governor and his men were confounded by the force of his argument. Recognizing the profundity of his knowledge and the sincerity of his beliefs, the Governor be


* See Appendix III concerning Vahíd.

came apprehensive lest some of his men transfer their allegiance to Vahíd. Within three days, through deceit and treachery, the Governor succeeded in evacuating the fort. But its heroic defenders walked into a trap, and most were massacred by the army. Vahíd was shamefully put to death and his body was dragged through the streets and bazaars of Nayríz to the accompaniment of drums and cymbals, while men and women danced merrily around him.

Vahíd's martyrdom shed an imperishable lustre upon the Faith of God. The story of his life adorns the pages of the history of the Cause and the example he has left will guide and inspire countless generations throughout the ages. He was peerless in the realm of learning and knowledge, indomitable in his faith, challenging in his public discourse, heroic in the defence of the Cause of God and unsurpassed in his love for the Báb.

In the Súriy-i-Sabr Bahá'u'lláh describes the proclamation of the Faith by Vahíd and the circumstances which led to the upheaval in Nayríz. He recounts, at some length, the events which led to the incarceration of the believers and lauds their heroism, self-sacrifice, and eventual martyrdom. He portrays the agony and sufferings which were inflicted upon the survivors, mainly women and children, who were forced to accompany the heads of the martyrs which were carried aloft on lances to Shíráz and paraded in the streets and bazaars of that city.* He severely condemns the perpetrators of such atrocities and warns them not to rejoice in their actions, but to fear the wrath of an almighty God who will justly, in the next world, punish them for the cruelties they have inflicted upon His loved ones.

Three years after the first upheaval, another massacre more brutal than the first came upon the believers of Nayríz. In his narrative, Nabíl has briefly recorded some of the events associated with it:

I shall not attempt to record the various circumstances that led to the carnage which marked the termination of that

* See p. 77, n. 1.

episode. I would refer my reader to the graphic and detailed account which Mírzá Shafí'-i-Nayrízí has written in a separate booklet, in which he refers with accuracy and force to every detail of that moving event. Suffice it to say that no less than one hundred and eighty of the Báb's valiant disciples suffered martyrdom. A like number were wounded and, though incapacitated by their injuries, were ordered to leave for Tihrán. Only twenty-eight persons among them survived the hardships of the journey to the capital. Of these twenty-eight, fifteen were taken to the gallows on the very day of their arrival. The rest were thrown into prison and made to suffer for two years the most horrible atrocities. Though eventually released, many of them perished on their way to their homes, exhausted by the trials of a long and cruel captivity.

A large number of their fellow-disciples were slain in Shíráz by order of Tahmásb-Mírzá. The heads of two hundred of these victims were placed on bayonets and carried triumphantly by their oppressors to Ábádih, a village in Fárs. They were intending to take them to Tihrán, when a royal messenger commanded them to abandon their project, whereupon they decided to bury the heads in that village.

As to the women, who were six hundred in number, half of them were released in Nayríz, while the rest were carried, each two being forced to ride together on an unsaddled horse, to Shíráz, where, after being submitted to severe tortures, they were abandoned to their fate. Many perished on their way to that city; many yielded up their lives to the afflictions they were made to endure ere they recovered their freedom. My pen shrinks in horror in attempting to describe what befell those valiant men and women who were made to suffer so severely for their Faith. The wanton barbarity that characterised the treatment meted out to them reached the lowest depths of infamy in the concluding stages of that lamentable episode.5

The traditions of Islám record many signs concerning the appearance of the Promised One. In one of these, it is prophesied that the heads of some of His followers would be decapitated and used as gifts by the enemy. This prophecy was

5. Nabíl-i-A'zam, The Dawn-Breakers, pp. 471-2 (Brit.), pp. 643-5 (U.S.).
literally fulfilled during the two bloody massacres of Nayríz. Bahá'u'lláh has quoted this tradition in the Kitáb-i-Íqán:

...Even as it hath been recorded...in the 'Tablet of Fátimih', concerning the character of the Qá'im: 'He shall manifest the perfection of Moses, the splendour of Jesus, and the patience of Job. His chosen ones shall be abased in His day. Their heads shall be offered as presents even as the heads of the Turks and the Daylamites. They shall be slain and burnt. Fear shall seize them; dismay and alarm shall strike terror into their hearts. The earth shall be dyed with their blood. Their womenfolk shall bewail and lament. These indeed are my friends!' 6

In the Súriy-i-Sabr Bahá'u'lláh extols the station of Vahíd in words no pen can befittingly describe. He pays glowing tribute to the staunchness of his faith and the loftiness of his vision, declares that he had remained faithful to the Covenant of God and affirms that he had fulfilled his pledge to his Lord. He bids him rejoice among the 'Concourse on high'* for being remembered in this Tablet, a Tablet so exalted that the Holy Books of the past had derived their essence from it.

Bahá'u'lláh also addresses the believers of Nayríz in this Tablet, with words of encouragement and praise. He asks them to recall their earlier days of heedlessness and ignorance, when God showered His favours upon them through the person of Vahíd, enabled them to recognize His Manifestation, and guided them to the Ocean of Knowledge. He urges them to appreciate this wonderful gift, to thank the Almighty for having been made the recipients of His grace and to rejoice at the lofty station which He has conferred upon them. Should this station be revealed to the eyes of men, He states, they would unhesitatingly offer up their lives to attain it. The wisdom of its concealment is that men may be tested, that good may be distinguished from evil and the righteous from the wicked. With great love Bahá'u'lláh exhorts the believers of Nayríz to mani-


* See p. 81, note.

6. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán, p. 156 (Brit.}, p. 245 (U.S.).
fest in their lives the attributes of God, to sanctify their souls from the dross of this world, and to be firm in faith and steadfast in the face of opposition.

The history of the martyrs of Nayríz demonstrates the devotion and heroism of the believers in that town. For several generations, these souls have been subjected periodically to bitter persecution by unrelenting enemies; yet they have remained faithful to the Cause of God, enduring with exemplary patience the tribulations heaped upon them.

It is interesting to note that Vahíd and his companions sacrificed their lives in His path just ten days before the Báb was publicly executed. Almost sixty years later, on Naw-Rúz 1909, when the remains of the Martyr-Prophet were laid to rest on Mount Carmel, eighteen believers were assassinated in Nayríz by the vicious assault of the bloodthirsty Shaykh Zakaríyyá.* 'Abdu'l-Bahá has testified that the interment of so sacred a trust as the holy remains of the Báb called for a sacrifice, which was realized in the martyrdom of these believers; and He has paid warm tribute to the Bahá'ís of Nayríz for having won, by their sacrifice, a great honour.

In the Súriy-i-Sabr, Bahá'u'lláh pays glowing tribute to Hájí Muhammad-Taqí. He recalls the major role he played in the upheaval of Nayríz, the material help he extended to Vahíd, the fortune he expended in defence of the fort and the sufferings he bore with resignation and self-sacrifice. When the believers took refuge in the fort of Khájih, their food and other necessities were provided by Hájí Muhammad-Taqí. Without his material aid, the Bábís would not have been able to defend themselves against the army. Hájí Muhammad-Taqí was one of the survivors of the siege. The Governor of Nayríz, knowing that he was one of the key figures responsible for the spread of the Faith in that town, confiscated all his properties and imprisoned


* He entered Nayríz with a number of armed men, occupied the town and, among other things, launched a brutal attack against the Bahá'ís. Not only did his men seek out the Bahá'ís to kill them, but he offered to pay one hundred túmáns for the decapitated head of a Bahá'í.

him, intending to torture him to death, with a few others, including Siyyid Ja'far, the learned divine of Yazd, whom we mentioned earlier.

An account of Hájí Muhammad-Taqí's sufferings in prison, his subsequent release and his journey to Baghdád, culminating in his attaining the presence of Bahá'u'lláh, has already been given.* Referring to the spirit of resignation and forbearance shown by him during the massacre of Nayríz, Bahá'u'lláh states that the Almighty will always assist those who willingly sacrifice their possessions to promote the Cause of God, and who patiently endure trials in His path. Such souls, He states, never complain when afflicted with calamities; rather, they welcome hardships and persecution in the path of their Lord.†

There are many mysteries hidden in God's creation. One of these is the mystery of suffering. In his life, man experiences many trials and tribulations, but often does not understand their purpose. Although the full significance of suffering cannot be fully appreciated in this world, its effects upon the individual can be readily observed.

In the world of nature most objects are affected by external influences. For instance, a piece of iron left on its own is cold and becomes rusty. As a result of friction, however, it produces heat, its surface becomes shiny, and by increasing the force of friction it can become even a luminous body. But only pressure from without will cause these characteristics, which are latent within the iron, to be manifested.

Similarly, within a human being there are many qualities and virtues which remain dormant. Often, suffering helps to release


* See pp. 139-41.

† When Hájí Muhammad-Taqí travelled to Baghdád, he was accompanied by his wife, son and daughter. This son, Muhammad 'Alí, while still a youth, was killed in Baghdád. He himself died a few years later in that city and Bahá'u'lláh honoured him by attending his funeral. Knowing that Hájí Muhammad-Taqí's wife was grief-stricken at the tragic loss of both son and husband, Bahá'u'lláh arranged for a certain Ahmad 'Alí, a youth of beautiful character, to go with her to Nayríz and live there as an adopted son.

the potentialities within man, bringing to the surface noble qualities which had hitherto remained concealed. History has shown that many eminent men have achieved greatness merely by facing hardships and difficulties. Through perseverance and steadfastness they have overcome obstacles, demonstrated their strength of character and revealed the hidden powers latent within them. In contrast, the weak and feeble have often succumbed to such difficulties and perished. Clearly, suffering reveals the strength, the character and the faith of every human being. The greater the cause, the more strenuous are the tests and trials to which the individual is subjected. In this Dispensation, from amidst the blood-baths of martyrdom, great heroes have emerged whose lives have illumined the history of the Cause of God by their courage and self-sacrifice.

In the Súriy-i-Sabr Bahá'u'lláh recounts in great detail the story of Job, one of the Prophets of Israel. He states that God conferred upon Job the mantle of prophethood. He was wealthy, owned a vast area of land, and lived with his wife and family in great luxury and comfort. Having been entrusted by God to guide the people to righteousness and truth, he dedicated his life to fulfilling this mission among his community. He summoned them all to the Cause of God, but they became jealous and accused him of insincerity, saying that his devotion to God was due solely to his wealth and material possessions.

In order to manifest his truthfulness to the eyes of men, God surrounded him with tribulations. Every day a fresh calamity descended upon him. First, his sons were taken from him, all his possessions were removed and his crops burnt. Then he was taken ill and his body was afflicted with disease and covered with boils. In spite of all these calamities, he remained thankful to his Lord and patiently endured hardships with a spirit of resignation and detachment. Yet his afflictions did not end there, for he was forced out of his village with no one to help him except his wife, who believed in him and did all she could to alleviate his pain. In the end he became destitute and was without food for many days.


Bahá'u'lláh asserts that Job was so patient and resigned to the will of God that his thankfulness and devotion to his Lord increased with his trials. At last, having proved his detachment from earthly possessions, God again bestowed upon Job all that was taken from him. His teachings spread and his words penetrated into the hearts of the sincere, enabling them to recognize and acknowledge his station.

With this story in the Súriy-i-Sabr Bahá'u'lláh throws light upon patience, one of the most important virtues which God has bestowed on man. He extols the station of those believers who endured hardships and calamities with patience and resignation. Through their fortitude and constancy, their forbearance and long-suffering, these souls attained to such a lofty position that the Concourse on high seek their companionship and long for their blessings.

Bahá'u'lláh urges the people of the Bayán to do likewise, counselling them to adorn their beings with the mantle of resignation, to be steadfast in the Cause of God, and never to be dismayed or disheartened by adversity. And He reminds them that, whereas God rewards every good deed in accordance with its merit, in the case of patience and long-suffering, as attested in the Qur'án, the recompense is limitless.*

These virtues God bestowed upon His Manifestations in a covenant with each of Them, Bahá'u'lláh states. Man should follow Their example. First, he should be patient with himself and learn to withhold himself from passion and desire and from deeds which are forbidden by God. Secondly, he should endure with fortitude any suffering which is inflicted upon him in this life and be steadfast in the Cause of God. Finally, he should be forbearing and patient with the believers and, for the sake of God and His religion, bear any ordeal which they may bring upon him.

This Tablet, revealed on the eve of Bahá'u'lláh's departure from 'Iráq, had a tremendous effect upon the believers in that


* 'Those who patiently persevere will truly receive a reward without measure.' (Qur'án xxxix. 10. Translated by Abdullah Yúsuf Ali.)

country. It prepared them for the days of test and trial which Bahá'u'lláh had been foreshadowing for some time. It also gave them faith and courage to bear the ordeal of separation from their Lord with a spirit of resignation and fortitude.

Referring to His departure from 'Iráq, Bahá'u'lláh alludes to the future rebellion of Mírzá Yahyá and warns that, after the setting of the sun, 'the birds of night' would take to the air, meaning that in His absence satanic souls would arise and propagate their evil whisperings among the faithful. He exhorts His followers to protect the Cause of God from division and to remain firm and immovable as the mountain.

In this Tablet Bahá'u'lláh rejects the man-made doctrine of finality of religion, explains the meaning of the 'Seal of the Prophets',* upholds the principle of the continuity of Divine Revelation and states that God will send His Manifestations till the end which has no end. He moreover condemns the divines and the learned of Islám for their blindness and claims that they had never partaken of true knowledge nor discovered the mysteries of the Cause of God, and were wandering in the wilderness of self and passion. He rebukes them for denying the truth of the Revelation of the Báb and for putting Him to death, extols His station, testifies that He manifested the beauty of God, and states that ere long the whole of mankind will recognize Him.

He makes a similar statement concerning the future victory of the Cause in another passage in which He rebukes those who have repudiated the Faith and arisen against it. He warns them that all their efforts to uproot the tree of the Cause of God will ultimately fail, and again prophesies that the day will come when all the peoples of the world will embrace His Faith.

In one of the Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh there is a statement that God has prescribed for Himself the task of assisting those who arise to serve Him. It indeed staggers the imagination, that God should lay upon Himself any specific task. Yet another instance is to be found in this Tablet, for Bahá'u'lláh asserts that God


* See p. 66.

has pledged to gather the whole of the human race under the shadow of the tree of His Cause. This, Bahá'u'lláh states, is an irrevocable decree.

Like many Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, the Súriy-i-Sabr may be described as an ocean containing wonderful gems of knowledge and wisdom. Revealed on the momentous occasion when its Author had just disclosed His station to His loved ones, when the hopes and visions of countless Prophets throughout the ages had been fulfilled, and when the sorrows and agonies of His companions had been turned into blissful joy, this Tablet stands out as an eternal monument to that Day of Days.

A few passages in this Tablet allude to Bahá'u'lláh's Declaration and reveal glimpses of the unveiling of His glory in the Garden of Ridván. In one of these He calls upon Himself to tear asunder the veils which had hitherto hidden His beauty from the eyes of men, to shed abroad the fragrances of the spirit which had remained sealed from the beginning of time, and to manifest His glory through the power of the Almighty. In another passage, referring to suffering which had been inflicted upon Him, He designates His own person as the 'Manifestation of God Himself'. He extols the day, the hour and the moment of His Declaration, and asserts that in that very instant He addressed the whole of creation from the city of Baghdád, so that each being might receive that share of God's glory which God had decreed for him. He further affirms that on that day all created things were illumined by the rising of the Sun of Truth from 'Iráq.

The Significance of Ridván

In a number of Tablets, most of which have not yet been translated, Bahá'u'lláh has extolled the sacredness and glory of the days of Ridván. One of these, revealed a few years after His Declaration, has been rendered into English by Shoghi Effendi. The following are some excerpts:


The Divine Springtime is come, O Most Exalted Pen, for the Festival of the All-Merciful is fast approaching. Bestir thyself, and magnify, before the entire creation, the name of God, and celebrate His praise, in such wise that all created things may be regenerated and made new. Speak, and hold not thy peace. The day star of blissfulness shineth above the horizon of Our name, the Blissful, inasmuch as the kingdom of the name of God hath been adorned with the ornament of the name of thy Lord, the Creator of the heavens. Arise before the nations of the earth, and arm thyself with the power of this Most Great Name, and be not of those who tarry...

This is the Day whereon the unseen world crieth out: 'Great is thy blessedness, O earth, for thou hast been made the foot-stool of thy God, and been chosen as the seat of His mighty throne.' The realm of glory exclaimeth: 'Would that my life could be sacrificed for thee, for He Who is the Beloved of the All-Merciful hath established His sovereignty upon thee, through the power of His Name that hath been promised unto all things, whether of the past or of the future.' This is the Day whereon every sweet smelling thing hath derived its fragrance from the smell of My garment--a garment that hath shed its perfume upon the whole of creation. This is the Day whereon the rushing waters of everlasting life have gushed out of the Will of the All-Merciful. Haste ye, with your hearts and souls, and quaff your fill, O Concourse of the realms above!

Say: He it is Who is the Manifestation of Him Who is the Unknowable, the Invisible of the Invisibles, could ye but perceive it. He it is Who hath laid bare before you the hidden and treasured Gem, were ye to seek it. He it is Who is the one Beloved of all things, whether of the past or of the future. Would that ye might set your hearts and hopes upon Him!...

The Best-Beloved is come. In His right hand is the sealed Wine of His name. Happy is the man that turneth unto Him, and drinketh his fill, and exclaimeth: 'Praise be to Thee, O Revealer of the signs of God!' By the righteousness of the Almighty! Every hidden thing hath been manifested through


the power of truth. All the favours of God have been sent down, as a token of His grace. The waters of everlasting life have, in their fullness, been proffered unto men. Every single cup hath been borne round by the hand of the Well-Beloved. Draw near, and tarry not, though it be for one short moment...

Rejoice with exceeding gladness, O people of Bahá, as ye call to remembrance the Day of supreme felicity, the Day whereon the Tongue of the Ancient of Days hath spoken, as He departed from His House, proceeding to the Spot from which He shed upon the whole of creation the splendours of His name, the All-Merciful. God is Our witness. Were We to reveal the hidden secrets of that Day, all they that dwell on earth and in the heavens would swoon away and die, except such as will be preserved by God, the Almighty, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.

Such is the inebriating effect of the words of God upon Him Who is the Revealer of His undoubted proofs, that His Pen can move no longer. With these words He concludeth His Tablet: 'No God is there but Me, the Most Exalted, the Most Powerful, the Most Excellent, the All-Knowing.' 7

During the twelve days that Bahá'u'lláh remained in the Garden of Ridván, great numbers came to pay their respects to Him. Among them were notables and dignitaries of the city of Baghdád, men of learning and culture, as well as the mass of the people who were His admirers. As to the believers, Bahá'u'lláh would summon a number of His companions to come to Him each day and would dismiss them in the evening. Only those without family ties were allowed to remain for the night, when some of them would keep vigil around His tent.

Nabíl has left to posterity the following vivid description of the joyous atmosphere of that historic time:

Every day ere the hour of dawn, the gardeners would pick the roses which lined the four avenues of the garden, and would pile them in the centre of the floor of His blessed tent. So great would be the heap that when His companions

7. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, section xiv.
gathered to drink their morning tea in His presence, they would be unable to see each other across it. All these roses Bahá'u'lláh would, with His own hands, entrust to those whom He dismissed from His presence every morning to be delivered, on His behalf, to His Arab and Persian friends in the city...One night, the ninth night of the waxing moon, I happened to be one of those who watched beside His blessed tent. As the hour of midnight approached, I saw Him issue from His tent, pass by the places where some of His companions were sleeping, and begin to pace up and down the moonlit, flower-bordered avenues of the garden. So loud was the singing of the nightingales on every side that only those who were near Him could hear distinctly His voice. He continued to walk until, pausing in the midst of one of these avenues, He observed: 'Consider these nightingales. So great is their love for these roses, that sleepless from dusk till dawn, they warble their melodies and commune with burning passion with the object of their adoration. How then can those who claim to be afire with the rose-like beauty of the Beloved choose to sleep?' For three successive nights I watched and circled round His blessed tent. Every time I passed by the couch whereon He lay, I would find Him wakeful, and every day, from morn till eventide, I would see Him ceaselessly engaged in conversing with the stream of visitors who kept flowing in from Baghdád. Not once could I discover in the words He spoke any trace of dissimulation.8

In one of His talks* 'Abdu'l-Bahá states that the enemies of the Faith, determined to extinguish the fire of the Cause, did everything in their power to banish Bahá'u'lláh from Baghdád. They did not realize that this banishment would bring victory to His Faith. However, when Bahá'u'lláh moved to the Garden of Ridván, they saw the greatness of His Cause, and were dismayed and disheartened by the marks of honour and respect which the inhabitants of Baghdád and its notables showered upon Him. 'Abdu'l-Bahá adds that, whereas banishment is normally a sad occasion, Bahá'u'lláh turned it into the most

* This talk was given on the ninth day of Ridván 1916, at Bahjí, 'Akká.

8. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 153, for the passage quoted.
joyous event in His life. The days of Ridván became the Most Great Festival, celebrating the Declaration of His Mission to His followers.

The Declaration of Bahá'u'lláh in the Garden of Ridván may be regarded as the climax of ten years of His Revelation and the consummation of the first phase of His ministry. On that day the Hand of Omnipotence removed a 'myriad veils of light' from His countenance, vouchsafing to men a glimpse of His power and glory, and opening before them a new chapter in their life on this planet. Bahá'u'lláh has stated that on that day 'the breezes of forgiveness were wafted over the entire creation', and 'all created things were immersed in the sea of purification'. 9

In the Tablet just quoted (pp. 274-5) Bahá'u'lláh extols the glories of the Festival of Ridván and describes its significance in these terms:

Verily, We have caused every soul to expire by virtue of Our irresistible and all-subduing sovereignty. We have, then, called into being a new creation, as a token of Our grace unto men. I am, verily, the All-Bountiful, the Ancient of Days.10

In one of His prayers revealed in Adrianople, Bahá'u'lláh refers to this new creation in these words:

How great is Thy power! How exalted Thy sovereignty! How lofty Thy might! How excellent Thy majesty! How supreme is Thy grandeur--a grandeur which He Who is Thy Manifestation hath made known and wherewith Thou hast invested Him as a sign of Thy generosity and bountiful favour. I bear witness, O my God, that through Him Thy most resplendent signs have been uncovered, and Thy mercy hath encompassed the entire creation. But for Him, how could the Celestial Dove have uttered its songs or the Heavenly Nightingale, according to the decree of God, have warbled its melody?

I testify that no sooner had the First Word proceeded, through the potency of Thy will and purpose, out of His mouth, and the First Call gone forth from His lips than the


9. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 154, for the words quoted.

10. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, section xiv.

whole creation was revolutionized, and all that are in the heavens and all that are on earth were stirred to the depths. Through that Word the realities of all created things were shaken, were divided, separated, scattered, combined and reunited, disclosing, in both the contingent world and the heavenly kingdom, entities of a new creation, and revealing, in the unseen realms, the signs and tokens of Thy unity and oneness.11

The spiritual energies released at the time of Bahá'u'lláh's Declaration bestowed a fresh capacity upon the human race, enabling every individual regardless of race, colour, education or background to recognize the Message of God for this day, and to play his part in the establishment of a world-embracing divine civilization for mankind.

Three Important Statements by Bahá'u'lláh

Although the manner of His Declaration is not clear, there is a Tablet in the handwriting of Mírzá Áqá Ján, addressed to a certain Áqá Muhammad-Ridá, which throws light on some of Bahá'u'lláh's utterances. According to this Tablet, on the first day of Ridván Bahá'u'lláh made three particularly important statements to His followers.*

The first was to forbid the use of the sword† in His Dispensation. During the ministry of the Báb the believers defended themselves against their persecutors; Bahá'u'lláh clearly forbade this. In many Tablets He counselled His followers to teach the Cause with wisdom and prudence and not to arouse the antagonism of a fanatic enemy. He enjoined caution when teaching those who were determined to uproot the foundation of the Faith and harm its adherents. At one stage in His ministry He particularly exhorted His followers to guard against falling into the hands of enemies, but if faced with


* It is not clear, however, whether these were part of the declaration of His station, as 'Him Whom God shall make manifest', or not.

† By this was intended any kind of arms or weapon.

11. Bahá'u'lláh, Prayers and Meditations by Bahá'u'lláh, no. 178.
martyrdom, to lay down their lives in the path of their Faith rather than kill their persecutors. The tongue of the believer who teaches the Cause, He stated in one Tablet, is the mightiest sword he possesses, for his utterances are endowed with a power that can remove veils of ignorance from the hearts of men. Soon, as a result of such counsels and exhortations, the attitude of the believers was radically changed, and swords and other weapons were put away never to be used again. During the ministries of Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá great numbers of Bahá'ís were martyred in Persia, but they did not resort to violence.* They gave their lives willingly, and many testified in the hour of martyrdom that their life-blood proclaimed the truth of the Cause of God for this age.

It was never intended, however, that the followers of Bahá'u'lláh should stand idly by and make no defence of their lives. Justice is one of the most important teachings in this Dispensation and the believers have used every lawful means to protect themselves against the onslaughts of enemies. During the days of Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Bahá'ís could do little to stay the hands of oppressors, because those in authority often supported or took part in their heinous crimes. At present, when most of the nations of the world are becoming conscious of the principles of human rights, whenever Bahá'ís have been persecuted on grounds of religious belief, the Bahá'í World Community has appealed for justice and governments concerned have, in many cases, extended their protection.

The second statement made by Bahá'u'lláh on the first day of Ridván, as attested in the aforementioned Tablet, was that no other Manifestation of God would appear before the expiration of a thousand years. In the Kitáb-i-Badí', which He revealed in


* This attitude must not be confused with pacifism which is not in conformity with Bahá'í Teachings. Indeed, Bahá'u'lláh advocates the use of force on an international scale, if needed to stay the hand of an aggressor. Addressing the kings and rulers of the world He writes: '...Should any one among you take up arms against another, rise ye all against him, for this is naught but manifest justice.' 12

12. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, section cxix.
Adrianople, Bahá'u'lláh confirmed this statement, and later in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas He referred to it again in these words:

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. We pray God that He may graciously assist him to retract and repudiate such claim. Should he repent, God will, no doubt, forgive him. If, however, he persisteth in his error, God will, assuredly, send down one who will deal mercilessly with him. Terrible, indeed, is God in punishing! Whosoever interpreteth this verse otherwise than its obvious meaning is deprived of the Spirit of God and of His mercy which encompasseth all created things. Fear God, and follow not your idle fancies. Nay, rather follow the bidding of your Lord, the Almighty, the All-Wise. 13

Bahá'u'lláh's third statement on the first day of Ridván was that, the moment He uttered those words, all the names and attributes of God were fully manifested within all created things. By this He implied the advent of a new Day and the infusion of a fresh capacity into all beings.

The Báb's Prophecies Fulfilled

With the Declaration of Bahá'u'lláh the prophecies of the Báb concerning the appearance of 'Him Whom God shall make manifest' were fulfilled. The Báb had alluded in His Writings to the scene of Bahá'u'lláh's Declaration in 'Ridván' and to the wafting of the breezes of His Revelation from 'Baghdád'. He had also foretold in the Persian Bayán that He would be manifested on the completion of the first Vahíd (nineteen years) of the Bábí Dispensation, which began in 1844. In the first chapter of the Qayyúmu'l-Asmá', which was revealed when the Báb communicated His Message to Mullá Husayn, He referred to the 'people of Bahá' as the only 'companions of the Crimson-Coloured Ark' moving upon the 'Crimson Sea'. The 'Crimson Ark' was a reference to the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh, which was


13. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, section clxv.

["Whoso layeth claim..."] The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶37
launched on the first day of Ridván. The community of the Most Great Name emerged on that day, when the followers of Bahá'u'lláh acknowledged His station.

Of the twelve days that Bahá'u'lláh stayed in the Garden of Ridván, three are regarded as Holy Days: the first day on which He declared Himself, the ninth day when all His family joined Him and rejoiced at His Declaration, and the twelfth day when He left that garden.

Bahá'u'lláh's Departure from the Garden

A memorable account of Bahá'u'lláh's departure has been given by Shoghi Effendi, Guardian of the Faith:

The departure of Bahá'u'lláh from the Garden of Ridván, at noon, on the 14th of Dhi'l-Qa'dih 1279 A.H. (May 3, 1863), witnessed scenes of tumultuous enthusiasm no less spectacular, and even more touching, than those which greeted Him when leaving His Most Great House in Baghdád. 'The great tumult,' wrote an eye-witness, 'associated in our minds with the Day of Gathering, the Day of Judgment, we beheld on that occasion. Believers and unbelievers alike sobbed and lamented. The chiefs and notables who had congregated were struck with wonder. Emotions were stirred to such depths as no tongue can describe, nor could any observer escape their contagion.'

Mounted on His steed, a red roan stallion of the finest breed, the best His lovers could purchase for Him, and leaving behind Him a bowing multitude of fervent admirers, He rode forth on the first stage of a journey that was to carry Him to the city of Constantinople. 'Numerous were the heads,' Nabíl himself a witness of that memorable scene, recounts, 'which, on every side, bowed to the dust at the feet of His horse, and kissed its hoofs, and countless were those who pressed forward to embrace His stirrups.' 'How great the number of those embodiments of fidelity,' testifies a fellow-traveller, 'who, casting themselves before that charger preferred death to separation from their Beloved! Methinks,


that blessed steed trod upon the bodies of those pure-hearted souls.' 'He (God) it was,' Bahá'u'lláh Himself declares, 'Who enabled Me to depart out of the city (Baghdád), clothed with such majesty as none, except the denier and the malicious, can fail to acknowledge.' 14

14. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 155.