11

Some Significant Tablets

Súriy-i-Damm

This Tablet (in Arabic) is addressed to Nabíl-i-A'zam and contains many celebrated passages concerning the greatness of His Revelation, as well as counsels and exhortations to Nabíl. Apparently it was revealed at a time when Nabíl, as instructed by Bahá'u'lláh, had returned to Persia after attaining His presence in Adrianople.

In this Tablet Bahá'u'lláh directs Nabíl to travel throughout the land, meet the sincere souls among the community, and rend asunder the grievous veils that have hindered them from recognizing the Countenance of Glory. As we have already stated, the mission of Nabíl and other disciples of Bahá'u'lláh at this period was primarily to teach His Cause to the members of the Bábí community. But He warns him not to associate with, and even to flee from, those who show enmity towards Him. This is mainly a reference to the Bábís who were unfaithful to the Cause and were drawn to Mírzá Yahyá.

This exhortation to shun those who arise to oppose the Centre of the Cause from within the community is unique in the field of religion. It is aimed at protecting the faithful from the pernicious influence of the egotist, the vainglorious and the insincere who strive to divide the Faith of God and bring schism within its ranks. In past Dispensations no provisions were made to protect the Faith from division. In many cases the followers interpreted the words of their Prophets to suit themselves and consequently many sects appeared within each religion. In this Dispensation Bahá'u'lláh has made strict provision

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to prevent this from happening. To no one, except the appointed Centre of His Covenant, 'Abdu'l-Bahá, has He given the right to interpret His Writings with authority,* and He has made it clear that if two people argue among themselves concerning their understanding of a subject in the Faith, both are wrong. These are among the provisions which are incorporated in the institution of the Covenant and which safeguard the unity of the Bahá'í community.

The Báb made a Covenant with His followers concerning 'Him Whom God shall make manifest'. Mírzá Yahyá and his supporters broke this Covenant, and instead of showing loyalty and submission to Bahá'u'lláh they rebelled against Him and strove with all their power to destroy the Cause of God. Unlike the Manifestations of the past, Bahá'u'lláh did not allow these poisonous elements to remain within the body of the Cause and contaminate it. He cast them out from the community and forbade His followers to associate with them.†

Bahá'u'lláh made a Covenant with His followers, that after His ascension they should all turn to 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Those who broke this Covenant and rose up against its Centre still regarded themselves as Bahá'ís. But 'Abdu'l-Bahá, following the example set by Bahá'u'lláh, expelled these unwholesome elements from the community, cleansed the Cause from their pollution, and instructed the believers to shun them for their own protection.

In a Tablet1 'Abdu'l-Bahá states that some people attain faith and certitude and arise to serve and teach the Cause of God, but later become confused and disenchanted. The reason for this is that they have disobeyed His commandments and have associated with the ungodly. Bahá'u'lláh has clearly exhorted His followers to avoid the company of the evil ones. In The Hidden Words He enjoins:

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* 'Abdu'l-Bahá in his turn appointed Shoghi Effendi as Guardian of the Faith, and conferred upon him the same exclusive right of interpretation.

† See vol. 1, pp. 129-37, 240-2.


1. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Má'idiy-i-Ásamání, vol. II, p. 35.
O Son of Dust!
Beware! Walk not with the ungodly and seek not fellowship with him, for such companionship turneth the radiance of the heart into infernal fire.2

In one of His Tablets 'Abdu'l-Bahá declares:

In short, the point is this: 'Abdu'l-Bahá is extremely kind, but when the disease is leprosy, what am I to do? Just as in bodily diseases we must prevent intermingling and infection and put into effect sanitary laws--because the infectious physical diseases uproot the foundation of humanity; likewise one must protect and safeguard the blessed souls from the breaths and fatal spiritual diseases; otherwise violation, like the plague, will become a contagion and all will perish.3
During the ministry of Shoghi Effendi similar events took place. But those who raised their heads to create schism in the Faith were cast out and, like their predecessors, perished and died. This principle of cleansing the community from the pernicious influence of the breakers of the Covenant, thereby protecting the unity of the Cause of God, has been of the utmost importance in the past and will continue to be so in the future.

In the Súriy-i-Damm Bahá'u'lláh counsels Nabíl to adorn himself with His characteristics, to waft the musk-laden breeze of holiness upon the believers and to bear with resignation and fortitude the sufferings and persecutions which may be inflicted upon him. He exhorts him to be resigned and submissive when sorely oppressed, reminds him that resignation and submission are among His own attributes and states that of all deeds there is nothing more meritorious in the estimation of God than the sighs of one wronged and oppressed who endures suffering with patience and fortitude. He urges Nabíl to seek the companionship of the loved ones of God wherever he goes, to appear among the people with dignity and serenity, to teach the Cause of His Lord in accordance with the capacity of those who hear him, and to rely upon God for His assistance and confirmations.

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2. Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, no. 57, Persian.

3. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, quoted in The Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 144.

In this Tablet Bahá'u'lláh dwells upon the nature of His exalted Revelation as well as the sufferings and persecutions which were heaped upon Him by a perverse generation. The following passages translated by Shoghi Effendi are gleaned from the Súriy-i-Damm:

Praise be to Thee, O Lord My God, for the wondrous revelations of Thy inscrutable decree and the manifold woes and trials Thou hast destined for Myself. At one time Thou didst deliver Me into the hands of Nimrod; at another Thou hast allowed Pharaoh's rod to persecute Me. Thou, alone, canst estimate, through Thine all-encompassing knowledge and the operation of Thy Will, the incalculable afflictions I have suffered at their hands. Again Thou didst cast Me into the prison-cell of the ungodly, for no reason except that I was moved to whisper into the ears of the well-favoured denizens of Thy Kingdom an intimation of the vision with which Thou hadst, through Thy knowledge, inspired Me, and revealed to Me its meaning through the potency of Thy might. And again Thou didst decree that I be beheaded by the sword of the infidel. Again I was crucified for having unveiled to men's eyes the hidden gems of Thy glorious unity, for having revealed to them the wondrous signs of Thy sovereign and everlasting power. How bitter the humiliations heaped upon Me, in a subsequent age, on the plain of Karbilá! How lonely did I feel amidst Thy people! To what a state of helplessness I was reduced in that land! Unsatisfied with such indignities, My persecutors decapitated Me, and, carrying aloft My head from land to land paraded it before the gaze of the unbelieving multitude, and deposited it on the seats of the perverse and faithless. In a later age, I was suspended, and My breast was made a target to the darts of the malicious cruelty of My foes. My limbs were riddled with bullets, and My body was torn asunder. Finally, behold how, in this Day, My treacherous enemies have leagued themselves against Me, and are continually plotting to instil the venom of hate and malice into the souls of Thy servants. With all their might they are scheming to accomplish their purpose...Grievous as is My plight, O God, My Well-Beloved, I
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render thanks unto Thee, and My Spirit is grateful for whatsoever hath befallen me in the path of Thy good-pleasure. I am well pleased with that which Thou didst ordain for Me, and welcome, however calamitous, the pains and sorrows I am made to suffer.4
Nabíl faithfully carried out the instructions of Bahá'u'lláh. He travelled throughout Persia and confirmed a great many souls who embraced His Cause.

Súrihs of Hajj

During this period Bahá'u'lláh revealed the Súriy-i-Hajj (Súriy of Pilgrimage) for visiting the house of the Báb, sent the Tablet to Nabíl, and directed him to go to Shíráz.

In this Tablet Bahá'u'lláh prescribes the rites which have to be performed when pilgrims visit the house of the Báb. He instructed Nabíl to perform them on His behalf. When Nabíl carried out these lengthy rites, which begin outside the city and continue all the way to the house and inside, he attracted a great deal of attention and passers-by concluded that he had lost his mind!

Having carried out the instructions of Bahá'u'lláh in Shíráz, Nabíl received another Tablet, the Súriy-i-Hajj (Súriy of Pilgrimage) for the house of Bahá'u'lláh in Baghdád, and was directed to proceed to that city and perform the rites of pilgrimage for that house also on His behalf. With great devotion and enthusiasm, and in spite of a curious public, he succeeded again in carrying out the rites ordained by Bahá'u'lláh in this Tablet.

These holy observances were later affirmed in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas and will be implemented in the future when the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh is fully established and circumstances radically changed.*

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* See vol. 1, pp. 211-12.


4. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, section xxxix.


[pilgrimage] The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶32

ÁQÁ MUHAMMAD-ALÍY-I-TAMBÁKÚ-FURÚSH

ÁQÁ MUHAMMAD-ALÍY-I-TAMBÁKÚ-FURÚSH

A loyal and devoted companion of Bahá'u'lláh

MÍRZÁ 'ALÍY-I-SAYYÁH

MÍRZÁ 'ALÍY-I-SAYYÁH

An attendant of the Báb, he visited Shaykh Tabarsí on His behalf. He became a devoted follower of Bahá'u'lláh and was among the Bahá'ís exiled to Cyprus

The Story of the Nightingale and the Crow

Around the time that the followers of Mírzá Yahyá were cast out of the community of the Most Great Name, Bahá'u'lláh revealed a beautiful Tablet in Persian, written in terms of imagery. It describes the true relationship between Bahá'u'lláh and Mírzá Yahyá. In this Tablet Bahá'u'lláh portrays Himself as a mystic Rose appearing in the Garden of Paradise.5 The Rose, the object of adoration of the nightingale, calls out to its lovers to come and be united with the deathless beauty of the Beloved.

A few birds resembling nightingales come near the Rose but are not enchanted by its perfume and charm. There is a dialogue between the two which is beautiful and soul-stirring. The birds maintain that they are familiar with other roses and they argue that this One is not a true Rose, as it grows in a different garden. The Rose appeals to them in loving language and reminds them that there is only one Rose; once it appeared in Egypt, at another time in Jerusalem and Galilee, at a later period it manifested itself in Arabia, then in Shíráz and now it has unveiled its Beauty in Adrianople. It rebukes them for having focused their affection on their surroundings rather than on the True Friend and claims that they are the embodiments of evil and have only disguised themselves as nightingales.

Then the Rose tells them a story: It likens the birds to the Owl* who once argued that the song of the Crow was much more melodious than that of the Nightingale. Challenging this statement, the Nightingale demanded some evidence, and invited the Owl to investigate the truth by hearing the melody of each bird, so that the sweet music of the Bird of Heaven might be distinguished from the croaking of the Crow. But the Owl refused and said 'Once from inside a rose-garden the enchanting voice of a bird reached my ears, and when I enquired its origin, I was informed that the voice was that of the Crow. Simultaneously, a crow flew out of the garden and it became clear to me who the singer was.'

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* The owl in Persian and Arabic literature is a symbol of doom and ruin.


5. Bahá'u'lláh, Áthár-i-Qalam-i-A'lá, vol. IV, pp. 368-72.
'But that was My voice,' said the Nightingale to the Owl, 'and to prove it I can warble similar if not more beautiful melodies now.' 'I am not interested to hear Thy songs,' the Owl made reply, 'for I saw the Crow and have been assured by others that the melody from inside the garden was his. If the tune of this heavenly music was Thine, how is it that thou wert hidden from the eyes of men and Thy fame did not reach them?' 'Because of My beauty,' replied the Nightingale, 'I have been despised by My enemies. They were resolved to put an end to My life, and for this reason My melodies were noised abroad in the name of the Crow. But those with unsullied hearts and sanctified ears have been able to distinguish the voice of the true Nightingale from that of the Crow.'*

The story of the Owl ends here, and the Rose continues its dialogue with the birds disguised as nightingales. It tells them that they too are of the same nature as the Owl, in that they prefer their own vain imaginings to the multitude of proofs and testimonies which have been demonstrated by the rose-like beauty of the Friend. It calls upon them to recognize the Rose by its charm and perfume and not through their own standards. As these exhortations reach their climax, a beautiful nightingale† with a melodious voice enters the garden and, enchanted with the beauty of the Rose, begins to circumambulate it. 'Although outwardly you look like nightingales,' it addresses

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* This story of the Nightingale and the Crow clearly refers to Bahá'u'lláh and Mírzá Yahyá respectively. In order to protect Bahá'u'lláh from the assaults of an implacable enemy, the Báb appointed Mírzá Yahyá as the leader of the Bábí community so that he might divert public attention from Bahá'u'lláh and at the same time provide a means whereby Bahá'u'lláh could unobtrusively direct the affairs of the Bábí community until such a time as His station was revealed to the eyes of men; (see A Traveller's Narrative, p. 62; p. 247 below and vol. 1, pp. 53-4). For quite some time Bahá'u'lláh used to dictate various directions to Mírzá Yahyá, who would faithfully convey them to the community in his own name. His unfaithfulness to Bahá'u'lláh began when he came under the spell of the notorious Siyyid Muhammad-i-Isfahání in 'Iráq.

† This signifies a faithful lover of Bahá'u'lláh, who has truly recognized Him.

the birds in a tone of rebuke, 'as a result of association with the Crow, you have learnt its ways and have acquired its characteristics.' Pointing to the Rose it then declares: 'This divine Rose is the object of the adoration of the nightingales of paradise, and this rose-garden is their abode. It is not a habitation for mortal birds. Take your leave and begone.'*

Having spoken in this language of imagery, Bahá'u'lláh exhorts His followers to gird up their loins in the service of their Lord and to protect the Cause of God from the onslaught of the unfaithful. He counsels them to adorn themselves with pure deeds and praiseworthy character, and assures them that only by living a virtuous life can they bring victory to the Cause and protect it from the assaults of the enemy.

In innumerable Tablets Bahá'u'lláh has urged the believers to rectitude of conduct, truthfulness, faith, holiness and noble deeds. In one of them He summons His loved ones to arise and assist Him by living a saintly life. These are His exhortations:

One righteous act is endowed with a potency that can so elevate the dust as to cause it to pass beyond the heaven of heavens. It can tear every bond asunder, and hath the power to restore the force that hath spent itself and vanished...

Be pure, O people of God, be pure; be righteous, be righteous...Say: O people of God! That which can ensure the victory of Him Who is the Eternal Truth, His hosts and helpers on earth, have been set down in the sacred Books and Scriptures, and are as clear and manifest as the sun. These hosts are such righteous deeds, such conduct and character, as are acceptable in His sight. Whoso ariseth, in this Day, to aid Our Cause, and summoneth to his assistance the hosts of a praiseworthy character and upright conduct, the influence flowing from such an action will, most certainly, be diffused throughout the whole world.6

In this Tablet Bahá'u'lláh warns His followers to be on their guard lest through their misdeeds they bring dishonour to the
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* This is a reference to the followers of Mírzá Yahyá who were cast out of the community.


6. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, section cxxxi.
Faith. He states that any sinful action committed by them will inflict a grievous blow upon Him and will serve to promote the interests of the enemies of the Cause of God.

The study of the Writings clearly demonstrates that of all the sufferings inflicted upon Bahá'u'lláh, by far the greatest and the most grievous came from two quarters: one, those who betrayed Him, broke the Covenant of the Báb, and followed Mírzá Yahyá; the other, some of His own followers who by their corrupt deeds damaged the reputation of the Faith in the eyes of men, and caused Him much anguish and pain.

In one of His Tablets He pours out His heart in these words:

I sorrow not for the burden of My imprisonment. Neither do I grieve over My abasement, or the tribulation I suffer at the hands of Mine enemies. By My life! They are My glory, a glory wherewith God hath adorned His own Self. Would that ye knew it!

The shame I was made to bear hath uncovered the glory with which the whole of creation had been invested, and through the cruelties I have endured, the Day Star of justice hath manifested itself, and shed its splendour upon men.

My sorrows are for those who have involved themselves in their corrupt passions, and claim to be associated with the Faith of God, the Gracious, the All-Praised.

It behoveth the people of Bahá to die to the world and all that is therein, to be so detached from all earthly things that the inmates of Paradise may inhale from their garment the sweet smelling savour of sanctity, that all the peoples of the earth may recognize in their faces the brightness of the All-Merciful, and that through them may be spread abroad the signs and tokens of God, the Almighty, the All-Wise. They that have tarnished the fair name of the Cause of God, by following the things of the flesh--these are in palpable error! 7

and again:

My captivity can bring on Me no shame. Nay, by My life, it conferreth on Me glory. That which can make Me ashamed
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7. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, section section xlvi.
is the conduct of such of My followers as profess to love Me, yet in fact follow the Evil One. They, indeed, are of the lost.8
Lawh-i-Nasír

The Lawh-i-Nasír was revealed in honour of Hájí Muhammad-Nasír, a native of Qazvín. This relatively long Tablet is, for the most part, in Persian, and a small part of it was translated into English by Shoghi Effendi and included in Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh.*

Hájí Nasír was a well-known merchant and held in high esteem by his fellow citizens until he embraced the Bábí Faith. From that time onwards, he suffered persecutions and was bitterly opposed by the people. He recognized the divine origin of the Message of the Báb through Mullá Jalíl-i-Urúmí, one of the Letters of the Living.† It is reported that when Hájí Nasír had acknowledged the authenticity of the claims of the Báb, Mullá Jalíl warned him that a mere acknowledgement was not sufficient in this day, that he could not call himself a Bábí unless he were prepared to lay down his life willingly in the path of God, should the enemy rise up against him. He bade him go home and search his heart to see whether he had sufficient faith to remain steadfast in the face of tortures and martyrdom. If he did, he was a Bábí, and otherwise not. Hájí Nasír responded to the words of Mullá Jalíl by spending the whole night in prayer and meditation. At the hour of dawn, he felt possessed of such faith and detachment as to be ready to sacrifice his life in the path of his Beloved. Overnight, he became endowed with a new zeal and radiance which sustained him throughout his eventful life.

Soon the persecutions started; the first onslaught began when Hájí Nasír became the target of attacks by a blood-thirsty mob in Qazvín. They plundered all his possessions and he was temporarily forced to leave his native city. When the situation

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* Sections LIII and LXXV.

† For more information see The Dawn-Breakers.


8. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, section lx.
calmed down he returned home. From there, in obedience to the call of the Báb, he proceeded to Khurásán. He was privileged to attend the conference of Badasht where, some historians have stated, he acted as a guard at the entrance of the garden which was reserved for Bahá'u'lláh's residence. From Badasht he proceeded to Mázindarán and was one of the defenders of the fortress of Shaykh Tabarsí.* As history records, hundreds of his fellow disciples were massacred in that upheaval, but the hand of divine power spared Hájí Nasír's life and enabled him to render further services to the Cause of God.

He returned to Qazvín and engaged in his work once again, but soon another upheaval engulfed the believers. The attempt on the life of Násiri'd-Dín Sháh in 1852† unleashed a wave of persecution against the Bábís. Hájí Nasír was arrested in Qazvín and put in prison. But after some time he was released. Another imprisonment he suffered was in Tihrán, where he was chained and fettered. When released from his ordeal, he found that all his possessions were gone. It was through the help and co-operation of Shaykh Kázim-i-Samandar‡ that, in spite of much harassment by the enemy, Hájí Nasír continued to earn a living, but he had to move his residence to the city of Rasht.

The crowning glory of his life was to attain the presence of Bahá'u'lláh in 'Akká. On this pilgrimage he was accompanied by the above-named Shaykh Kázim. Bahá'u'lláh showered His bounties upon him and assured him of His loving-kindness. He spent the latter part of his life in the city of Rasht and was engaged in teaching the Cause of God by day and night. The enemies once again cast him into prison. This time, because of old age, he could not endure the rigours of prison life and his soul, after so many years of toil and suffering, took its flight to the abode of the Beloved. He died a martyr's death in the prison of Rasht in the year 1300 A.H. (1882-3).

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* For details see The Dawn-Breakers.

† See The Dawn-Breakers.

‡ One of the Apostles of Bahá'u'lláh. We shall refer to him in more detail in vol. III.

When the news of Hájí Nasír's death reached the enemies of the Cause, many of them, including children, attacked his corpse and pelted it with stones. As soon as his remains were brought home a number of ruffians forced their way in and attempted to dismember it. It is impossible to describe the feelings of horror and consternation which befell his family and loved ones as they stood helplessly watching the cruel atrocities perpetrated by the mob of heartless fanatics. They had Hájí Nasír's nose cut off and his eyes gouged out before they were stopped by the neighbours who, in a humiliating manner, threw his body into a disused brick furnace in that vicinity and covered it with stones.

Bahá'u'lláh has paid glowing tribute to Hájí Nasír for his steadfastness in the Cause of God and has revealed a Tablet of Visitation for him. In the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf He remembers him in these words:

Among them was his honour, Hájí Nasír, who, unquestionably, was a brilliant light that shone forth above the horizon of resignation. After he had suffered martyrdom, they plucked out his eyes and cut off his nose, and inflicted on him such indignities that strangers wept and lamented, and secretly raised funds to support his wife and children.9
The revelation of the Lawh-i-Nasír in Adrianople was in response to Hájí Nasír's request for clarification of the position of Mírzá Yahyá. He had been trying for some time to unravel this mysterious situation and to discover the station of Bahá'u'lláh. When the news of the rebellion of Mírzá Yahyá in Adrianople reached him, he wrote to Bahá'u'lláh and begged Him for enlightenment. It is in this Tablet that Bahá'u'lláh throws light on the appointment, by the Báb, of Mírzá Yahyá as the leader of the Bábí community and mentions that only two people were informed of the real circumstances of his appointment.* He condemns his treacherous deeds, his attempt to take Bahá'-
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* Mírzá Músá (Áqáy-i-Kalím) and Mullá 'Abdu'l-Karím-i-Qazvíní.


9. Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 72.
u'lláh's life, and his shameful accusations attributing his own crimes to Him.

A considerable portion of this Tablet is addressed to the people of the Bayán. Bahá'u'lláh reminds them of the innumerable prophecies and exhortations of the Báb concerning the exalted station of the One who was to come after Him. He proclaims to them in unequivocal language the glad-tidings of His Revelation, passionately counsels them to purge their hearts from vain and corrupt issues, summons them with the utmost loving-kindness to embrace His Cause, and grieves that so many of them had arisen in opposition to Him.

The following passage from the Lawh-i-Nasír, included in Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, is addressed to the people of the Bayán.

Tear asunder, in My Name, the veils that have grievously blinded your vision, and, through the power born of your belief in the unity of God, scatter the idols of vain imitation. Enter, then, the holy paradise of the good-pleasure of the All-Merciful. Sanctify your souls from whatsoever is not of God, and taste ye the sweetness of rest within the pale of His vast and mighty Revelation, and beneath the shadow of His supreme and infallible authority. Suffer not yourselves to be wrapt in the dense veils of your selfish desires, inasmuch as I have perfected in every one of you My creation, so that the excellence of My handiwork may be fully revealed unto men. It follows, therefore, that every man hath been, and will continue to be, able of himself to appreciate the Beauty of God, the Glorified. Had he not been endowed with such a capacity, how could he be called to account for his failure? If, in the Day when all the peoples of the earth will be gathered together, any man should, whilst standing in the presence of God, be asked: 'Wherefore hast thou disbelieved in My Beauty and turned away from My Self,' and if such a man should reply and say: 'Inasmuch as all men have erred, and none hath been found willing to turn his face to the Truth, I too, following their example, have grievously failed to recognize the Beauty of the Eternal,' such a plea will,
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assuredly, be rejected. For the faith of no man can be conditioned by any one except himself.10
In this Tablet Bahá'u'lláh affirms that the bounties of God have been vouchsafed to every human being, but only those who have the capacity and whose hearts are pure can receive them. He gives the example of the seed which will produce goodly trees if planted in fertile soil, whereas in barren land it will not develop. He urges Nasír to become the recipient of the grace of God in this day, and asserts that if all the peoples of the world were to deprive themselves of its glory, it would have no effect upon the outpouring of the bounties of God.

Referring to Himself as the 'Celestial Youth', Bahá'u'lláh reveals these soul-stirring verses in the Lawh-i-Nasír and extols the station of those who have recognized Him:

O Nasír, O My Servant! God, the Eternal Truth, beareth Me witness. The Celestial Youth hath, in this Day, raised above the heads of men the glorious Chalice of Immortality, and is standing expectant upon His seat, wondering what eye will recognize His glory, and what arm will, unhesitatingly, be stretched forth to seize the Cup from His snow-white Hand and drain it. Only a few have as yet quaffed from this peerless, this soft-flowing grace of the Ancient King. These occupy the loftiest mansions of Paradise, and are firmly established upon the seats of authority. By the righteousness of God! Neither the mirrors of His glory, nor the revealers of His names, nor any created thing, that hath been or will ever be, can ever excel them, if ye be of them that comprehend this truth.

O Nasír! The excellence of this Day is immensely exalted above the comprehension of men, however extensive their knowledge, however profound their understanding. How much more must it transcend the imaginations of them that have strayed from its light, and been shut out from its glory! Shouldst thou rend asunder the grievous veil that blindeth thy vision, thou wouldst behold such a bounty as naught, from the beginning that hath no beginning till the end that hath no end, can either resemble or equal.11

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

11. ibid., section liii.

There is a verse in the Qur'án which states: 'We will surely show them our signs in the world and within themselves.' 12 This refers to the influence which the Manifestation of God exerts upon the whole creation. By His advent He releases to the world a measure of spiritual potency. He also manifests the tokens of His grace within the hearts of men. Bahá'u'lláh in the Lawh-i-Nasír affirms that both these 'signs' have been manifested in this day. He states that the signs of His power and ascendancy have encompassed the world, and the whole creation has been endowed with a new capacity. They have even affected the hearts of men, and yet the peoples are blind to them.

When Bahá'u'lláh made these statements to Nasír, the evidences of His influence in the world of humanity were not as clear as they are today. Any unbiased observer may witness that the energies released by His Revelation have set in motion a regenerative process which is now affecting the whole fabric of human society. On the one hand the compelling power born of His Revelation has illumined the hearts of millions who have recognized His station, followed His Teachings, and become the recipients of His Cause and the champion-builders of His World Order. The rest of mankind, on the other hand, as yet untouched by the light of His Faith, is deeply affected by the spirit of the age which is generated and sustained by each and every one of the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh. These people are caught up in the whirlwind of its resistless force. Helpless and confused, they recognize their inability to hold on to their age-old and antiquated orders, which have been their only haven and refuge for centuries. They make every effort to find a way to revive the old so that it may co-exist with the new. But as time goes on they are gradually realizing the futility of such attempts. Some try to adapt their time-honoured institutions to the new spirit of the age, but with every compromise they progressively weaken their cause. Others have given up hope, become disillusioned and passive, and even dropped out of society altogether.

The process of integration and consolidation which marks

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12. Qur'án, xli. 53.
the growth of the Bahá'í community is accelerating with every passing day, and derives its animating force directly from the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh. No force in the universe can, before the appearance of the next Manifestation of God,* stop the onward march of the Faith or alter the course which God has chosen for the unfoldment and establishment of its Divine institutions. On the contrary, as history has clearly demonstrated, every incident, whether constructive or destructive, has been the cause of the advancement of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh and will continue to be in the future. The selfless activities of its avowed adherents, as well as the opposition and persecutions of an unbelieving world will, hand in hand, further the interests of the Faith to the point where it will embrace the whole of mankind.

The process of disintegration, on the other hand, caused by man's indifference or opposition to the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh, is ruthlessly pulling down the old order. The spirit of the age released by Bahá'u'lláh may be likened to forces which press hard upon humanity and drive it towards universality and the oneness of mankind. When people, whether consciously or unconsciously, oppose these forces, they create tensions within their societies. Like a tidal wave as it gathers momentum, the magnitude of the forces released by Bahá'u'lláh is increasing day by day and consequently there will come a time when these tensions reach breaking-point.

Almost every war or distressing event which has happened on this planet during the last hundred years has been caused by man's opposition to the forces of universality and unity which have been influencing the world since the coming of Bahá'u'lláh. Racial, religious, national and other prejudices run counter to the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh. Any people, therefore, whose actions are motivated by prejudice, hatred, selfishness, greed and above all opposition to the principle of the oneness of mankind, will cause unrest, tension and bloodshed in the world and, sooner or later, seal their own doom.

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* See vol. 1, pp. 279-80.

Having looked briefly at the appearance of this 'sign' of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation in the world, referred to in the fore-mentioned verse of the Qur'án and in the Lawh-i-Nasír, let us examine the other 'sign' indicated in that same verse, namely the manifestation of the tokens of God within the individual. Ever since the Declaration of Bahá'u'lláh in the Garden of Ridván, His Revelation has endowed every soul with a new capacity and breathed a new spirit into every frame,* as His words testify:

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.13
And the Báb has prophesied:

The year-old germ that holdeth within itself the potentialities of the Revelation that is to come is endowed with a potency superior to the combined forces of the whole of the Bayán.14
Today, human beings everywhere, regardless of race, colour or nationality, have the capacity to attain to the knowledge of God and acquire spiritual qualities; and they have demonstrated that they can learn and become equally proficient in arts, cultures and sciences whether they come from the East or the West. This was not possible in the past when the majority of the peoples of the world were backward, when slavery was rife and vast numbers were under the domination of the few. But the universality of the Message of Bahá'u'lláh and the forces of new life released by Him within the individual, have given birth to a new race of men who have acquired a new vision and the will to think independently and act with purpose.

Because of his failure to recognize Bahá'u'lláh, man's new capacity, instead of leading him to the path of truth, has created enormous conflict and confusion within his mind. To appreciate this point, we must look back to the time just before the

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* See vol. 1, pp. 277-8 and 280.


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

14. The Báb, quoted by Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 30.


["Verily, We have caused..."] The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol.1 p. 277
coming of Bahá'u'lláh. Then, human beings throughout the world were reasonably satisfied with their lives. There was not as much contention and strife among people. The majority accepted their traditional religious beliefs, and there were not so many agnostics and atheists as there are now, neither were there so many religious sects. But with the coming of Bahá'u'lláh, the situation changed radically.

To illustrate this, let us use the analogy of light and darkness. If a number of people were to live in a darkened room, there would be no reason for them to argue about things they could not see. But should the room be lit, everyone would be able to see for himself. It would be then that differences could arise concerning the shape and order of things in their midst.

Before the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh was born, mankind was in a state of darkness. People held their beliefs as a matter of course and seldom involved themselves independently in controversial issues. It was mainly the rulers and religious leaders who held the reins and guided the masses to whatever they felt was appropriate. But when the Sun of Truth appeared, the minds of men were illumined. They acquired a new vision and began to think for themselves. People started to question the validity and truth of their Faiths and within a short period of time great differences occurred. Religions were divided, many sects came into being and multiplied with the passage of time. Great numbers left their religions altogether and swelled the ranks of agnostics and atheists. Millions of people rose up to demand their rights. Revolutions took place in several parts of the world and new doctrines and ideologies were promulgated. Arts and sciences suddenly burst into a new era of unprecedented technological advance, establishing a marvellous system of communication throughout the world.*

All these developments within the last hundred and fifty years have not come about accidentally. They are due to the infusion of a new capacity into every soul. Bahá'u'lláh, in one of His Tablets, proclaims:

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* See vol. 1, p. 217.

Through the movement of Our Pen of glory We have, at the bidding of the omnipotent Ordainer, breathed a new life into every human frame, and instilled into every word a fresh potency. All created things proclaim the evidences of this world-wide regeneration.15
In addition to the two fore-mentioned 'signs', Bahá'u'lláh declares that the very profusion of the Words sent down to Him by God constitutes yet another sign establishing the truth of His Revelation for this day. Concerning this profusion, Bahá'u'lláh informs Nasír that

Such are the outpourings...from the clouds of Divine Bounty that within the space of an hour the equivalent of a thousand verses hath been revealed.16
As we have already mentioned, many of the disciples present when Bahá'u'lláh revealed the verses of God were awestruck by the outward evidences of His great power and glory.* In the Lawh-i-Nasír Bahá'u'lláh refers to this and affirms that had it not been for man's spiritual weakness, He would have granted permission for all to be present at the time of Revelation, so that they might witness its outpouring and behold the transcendent majesty of the One who is the Revealer of the Word of God.

In this Tablet Bahá'u'lláh unveils the exalted station of the true believers and describes the wretchedness of the deniers. He states that every human being in this day potentially contains within himself all the powers and attributes that are to be found in the physical creation. The counterpart of the heavens, the mountain, the valley, the tree, the fruit, the river and the sea may be found to exist in every soul. They appear as divine virtues in the believers, and as satanic vices in the deniers. For example, in the faithful are manifested the heavens of under-

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* For more information concerning the manner of Revelation, the potency of the Word and the vastness of the Holy Writings, refer to vol. 1, chapter 3.


15. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, section xliii.

16. Bahá'u'lláh, quoted by Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 171.

standing, the trees of oneness, the leaves of certitude, the fruits of the love of God, the seas of knowledge and the rivers of wisdom. Whereas in the deniers one finds the heaven of faithlessness, the earth of hatred, the trees of rebellion, the branches of pride and the leaves of lust and wickedness.

But the believers are of two kinds. Some are unaware of this bounty. They have deprived themselves of His grace through unworthy deeds and are shut out as by a veil from beholding its great glory. Others who have been endowed with insight through the Mercy of God, are able, with both their inner and outer eyes, to witness within themselves the signs of His power and the wonders of His handiwork. This is a state in which the individual becomes independent of all things but God, and will possess infinite powers over all things. Indeed he will encompass in his soul all that has been created in this universe. Bahá'u'lláh states that should such a soul, conscious of these powers within him, arise with determination to serve the Cause of God, he would establish his ascendancy over all humanity, even if all its forces were to be arrayed against him.

The history of the Faith is replete with stories of the heroism and courage of men and women who attained this lofty station. The immortal names of Mullá Husayn, Quddús, Táhirih, Vahíd, Hujjat and Badí' are a few examples among many. These souls had acquired such ascendancy and influence in the realms of God that their words became creative. When faced with the onslaught of the enemy they demonstrated a strength and power that can only be described as superhuman.

Mullá Husayn, the first to believe in the Báb, has left the following testimony concerning his complete transformation on the night of His declaration:

This Revelation, so suddenly and impetuously thrust upon me, came as a thunderbolt which, for a time, seemed to have benumbed my faculties. I was blinded by its dazzling splendour and overwhelmed by its crushing force. Excitement, joy, awe, and wonder stirred the depths of my soul. Predominant among these emotions was a sense of gladness and
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strength which seemed to have transfigured me. How feeble and impotent, how dejected and timid, I had felt previously! Then I could neither write nor walk, so tremulous were my hands and feet. Now, however, the knowledge of His Revelation had galvanised my being. I felt possessed of such courage and power that were the world, all its peoples and potentates, to rise against me, I would, alone and undaunted, withstand their onslaught. The universe seemed but a handful of dust in my grasp. I seemed to be the Voice of Gabriel personified, calling unto all mankind: 'Awake, for lo! the morning Light has broken. Arise, for His Cause is made manifest. The portal of His grace is open wide; enter therein, O peoples of the world! For He who is your promised One is come! 17
Ever after that memorable evening Mullá Husayn became endowed with superhuman courage and fortitude. Every incident connected with his life of service to the new-born Faith of God demonstrates this. The same is true of many other disciples of the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh.

For example, the following incident in the life of Vahíd* stands out as an example of his powers born of God and is reminiscent of many such heroic deeds. In the year 1850 in Yazd, at the instigation of Navváb-i-Radaví, one of the powerful dignitaries of the city, a great many people arose to attack Vahíd. This is how Nabíl-i-A'zam recounts the story:

Meanwhile the Navváb had succeeded in raising a general upheaval in which the mass of the inhabitants took part. They were preparing to attack the house of Vahíd when he summoned Siyyid 'Abdu'l-'Azím-i-Khu'í, surnamed the Siyyid-i-Khál-Dár, who had participated for a few days in the defence of the fort of Tabarsí and whose dignity of bearing attracted widespread attention, and bade him mount his own steed and address publicly, through the streets and bazaars, an appeal on his behalf to the entire populace, and urge them to embrace the Cause of the Sáhibu'z-Zamán. 'Let them know,' he added, 'that I disclaim any intention of waging holy warfare
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* See The Dawn-Breakers and vol. 1, Appendix III.


17. Quoted by Nabíl-i-A'zam, The Dawn-Breakers, p. 44 (Brit.), p. 65 (U.S.).
against them. Let them be warned, however, that if they persist in besieging my house and continue their attacks upon me, in utter defiance of my position and lineage, I shall be constrained, as a measure of self-defence, to resist and disperse their forces. If they choose to reject my counsel and yield to the whisperings of the crafty Navváb, I will order seven of my companions to repulse their forces shamefully and to crush their hopes.'

The Siyyid-i-Khál-Dár leaped upon the steed and, escorted by four of his chosen brethren, rode out through the market and pealed out, in accents of compelling majesty, the warning he had been commissioned to proclaim. Not content with the message with which he had been entrusted, he ventured to add, in his own inimitable manner, a few words by which he sought to heighten the effect which the proclamation had produced. 'Beware,' he thundered, 'if you despise our plea. My lifted voice, I warn you, will prove sufficient to cause the very walls of your fort to tremble, and the strength of my arm will be capable of breaking down the resistance of its gates!'

His stentorian voice rang out like a trumpet, and diffused consternation in the hearts of those who heard it. With one voice, the affrighted population declared their intention to lay down their swords and cease to molest Vahíd, whose lineage they said they would henceforth recognize and respect. 18

Shortly after this, in another incident, great numbers surrounded the house of Vahíd intending to attack him and his companions who had recently embraced the new Faith of God. Concerning this Nabíl writes:

The enemy followed him [a certain believer by the name of Muhammad-'Abdu'lláh] to that house, fully determined to seize and slay him. The clamour of the people that had massed around his house compelled Vahíd to order Mullá Muhammad-Ridáy-i-Manshádí, one of the most enlightened 'ulamás of Manshád, who had discarded his turban and offered himself as his doorkeeper, to sally forth and, with the
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18. Quoted by Nabíl-i-A'zam, The Dawn-Breakers, pp. 347-8 (Brit.), pp. 471-2 (U.S.).
aid of six companions, whom he would choose, to scatter their forces. 'Let each one of you raise his voice,' he commanded them 'and repeat seven times the words "Alláh-u-Akbar",* and on your seventh invocation spring forward at one and the same moment into the midst of your assailants.'

Mullá Muhammad-Ridá, whom Bahá'u'lláh had named Rada'r-Rúh,† sprang to his feet and, with his companions, straightway proceeded to fulfil the instructions he had received. Those who accompanied him, though frail of form and inexperienced in the art of swordsmanship, were fired with a faith that made them the terror of their adversaries. Seven of the most redoubtable among the enemy perished that day, which was the twenty-seventh of the month of Jamádíyu'th-Thání [10 May A.D. 1850]. 'No sooner had we routed the enemy,' Mullá Muhammad-Ridá related, 'and returned to the house of Vahíd, than we found Muhammad 'Abdu'lláh lying wounded before us.' l9

It is interesting to note that the Bábís throughout their short and eventful history resorted to force in defending themselves against the enemy.‡ In these defensive battles, they often sent out a few men to attack the great armies which surrounded them, and in almost every case inflicted humiliating defeats upon their adversaries.

At the time that the enemies of Bahá'u'lláh in 'Iráq were plotting to take His life and destroy the Cause of God, a number of the divines in that country were contemplating waging holy war against the Bábís.§ One day, a number of friends were standing in the presence of Bahá'u'lláh as He paced the reception quarters of His house. Among them were two

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* 'God is the Most Great'.

† See vol. 1 and p. 99 above. (A.T.)

‡ Bahá'u'lláh has forbidden His followers to follow this practice which was current among the Bábís. Although Bahá'u'lláh has counselled His followers not to resort to force in the face of persecution, this does not mean that they should stand idly by and make no defence of themselves when personally attacked. For further details see vol. 1, pp. 278-9.

§ See vol. 1, p. 144.


19. Quoted by Nabíl-i-A'zam, The Dawn-Breakers, pp. 348-9 (Brit.), p. 473 (U.S.).
seditious men who were closely allied with these divines, but pretended to be friends of the Faith. Bahá'u'lláh was talking to the believers and is reported to have said: 'The divines have called upon some crusaders to come from Najaf and Karbilá to wage holy war against us.' Then turning to the two mischief-makers, He stated, 'I swear by the Almighty God, that I need not send more than two of My people to put them to rout and pursue them as far as Kázimayn.'* 20

These few examples demonstrate the power which true faith in God can engender in the believers. This power which animated the disciples of the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh is the same as that to which Christ refers:

...For verily I say unto you, if ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. 21
Bahá'u'lláh promises in a Tablet22 that if a believer becomes steadfast in the love of his Lord and detaches himself from this world, God will enable him to influence the realities of all created things in such wise that through the power of the Almighty he can do anything he desires. When a person achieves this stage of maturity, he will utter no word except for the sake of God, will not move except towards Him and will not see anything but His Beauty. Such a person will never be afraid of anyone even if all humanity should rise up against him.

Lawh-i-Khalíl

The news of Bahá'u'lláh's Declaration on the one hand and Mírzá Yahyá's rebellion on the other, as already stated, caused confusion and doubt in the minds of some believers in Persia. Among those who wrote to Bahá'u'lláh for clarification and enlightenment was Hájí Muhammad-Ibráhím-i-Qazvíní, whom

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* Kázimíyyah, near Baghdád.


20. Quoted by Muhammad 'Alíy-i-Faizi, L'álíy-i-Darakhshán, p. 458.

21. Matthew, xvii. 20.

22. Bahá'u'lláh, Má'idiy-i-Ásamání, vol. IV, pp. 175-6.

Bahá'u'lláh addressed as 'Khalíl'.* This believer was further confused when he received some Arabic verses composed by Mírzá Muhammad-'Alí,† (a son of Bahá'u'lláh and in his teens), which he claimed were the verses of God, and like those of his Father, sent down by divine Revelation. In these writings he refers to himself as the revealer of the word of God, he who has ushered in the most great revelation, and through whose words all creation had come into being!

Mírzá Muhammad-'Alí had sent his writings from Adrianople secretly to Qazvín. Three believers in particular had become influenced by his claims and were his principal supporters. They were Mírzá 'Abdu'lláh, Hájí Hasan and his brother Áqá 'Alí.‡ As a result, a great controversy erupted in Qazvín. The few supporters of Mírzá Muhammad-'Alí, who regarded their youthful contender as having a station co-equal with his Father, clashed with other believers in Qazvín. There were heated arguments in the community and Shaykh Kázim-i-Samandar emphatically declared that the writings of Mírzá Muhammad-'Alí consisted of a string of Arabic sentences and had no relationship to the Words of God. It was mainly because of this controversy that Khalíl sent a letter to Bahá'u'lláh begging Him to clarify His own station and the station of His sons. This was possibly around the time that Bahá'u'lláh moved into the house of Ridá Big, because He alludes to Khalíl's questions in the Lawh-i-Rúh

Bahá'u'lláh severely rebuked Mírzá Muhammad-'Alí for his preposterous claims and chastised him with His own hand. He revealed a Tablet23 in answer to Khalíl, declared His own station and explained the position of His sons. The uncertainties

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* Literally 'Friend', a designation by which Abraham is known in Islám.

‡ He later became the arch-enemy of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and the arch-breaker of the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh.

‡ Bahá'u'lláh especially sent for these two brothers to come from Persia. They attained His presence and recognized their own folly and misjudgement.

§ See p. 181.


23. Bahá'u'lláh, Má'idiy-i-Ásamání, vol. I, p. 65.
agitating the mind of Khalíl were resolved. He became a steadfast believer and the recipient of other Tablets.*

Bahá'u'lláh states that as long as His sons believed in Him, observed the commandments of God, did not deviate from the Faith and did not create divisions in the Cause, they might be regarded as the leaves and branches of His Tree and the members of His Holy Family. Through them the mercy of God would be revealed, and His light diffused. Muhammad-'Alí did not live up to these standards. Apart from his absurd claim, he inflicted other injuries upon the Cause of God during Bahá'u'lláh's lifetime, and after His ascension he broke His Covenant and rebelled against 'Abdu'l-Bahá.†

In the Tablet of Khalíl, Bahá'u'lláh alludes to 'Abdu'l-Bahá in terms which immensely distinguish Him from others. He refers to Him as the One among His sons 'from Whose tongue God will cause the signs of His power to stream forth' and as the One Whom 'God hath specially chosen for His Cause' 24 And yet during Bahá'u'lláh's lifetime, 'Abdu'l-Bahá was so reluctant to write‡ anything that at one stage the believers complained. In reply He told them that when the shrill voice of the Pen of the Most High could be heard on every side, it was not appropriate for others to write.

In a Tablet25 addressed to the Ismu'lláh, Siyyid Mihdíy-i-Dahají, Bahá'u'lláh rebukes some of the believers for having foolishly designated His son as a partner with Him in Divine Revelation. Referring to Muhammad-'Alí by name, Bahá'u'lláh in this Tablet states that 'He, verily, is but one of My servants...Should he for a moment pass out from under the shadow of the Cause, he surely shall be brought to naught'.26

In unequivocal language Bahá'u'lláh affirms that the Mani-

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* Some excerpts from his Tablets are translated and included in Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, sections XXXIII, XXXVIII, LXXVII, CXXVII.

† For more details of the life and rebellion of Muhammad-'Alí see God Passes By and The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1.

‡ From time to time Bahá'u'lláh instructed 'Abdu'l-Bahá to write on certain subjects.


24. Quoted by Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 242.

25. Bahá'u'lláh, Má'idiy-i-Ásamání, vol. VIII, p. 40.

26. Quoted by Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 251.

festation of God is exalted above all humanity and cannot join partners with anyone. He asserts in His Writings that God bestows infallibility upon His Manifestations. He refers to this as the Most Great Infallibility which is the prerogative only of the Prophet and no one else. This should not be confused with conferred infallibility which Bahá'u'lláh bestowed upon 'Abdu'l-Bahá.

Lawh-i-Siráj

Another person who wrote to Bahá'u'lláh and posed certain questions concerning the position of Mírzá Yahyá was Mullá 'Alí-Muhammad-i-Siráj, a native of Isfahán. He had become a Bábí in the early days of the Faith and attained the presence of the Báb in that city. It was his sister Fátimih* whom the Báb, after much insistence by Manúchihr Khán, the Governor of Isfahán, took as His second wife. Mullá 'Alí-Muhammad-i-Siráj became a follower of Mírzá Yahyá, and although Bahá'u'lláh in this Tablet explained all that was necessary concerning the Cause of God, he remained defiant, and together with his brother, Mullá Rajab-'Alíy-i-Qahír, continued to support the evil activities of Mírzá Yahyá.

The Tablet revealed for Siráj is very lengthy,† and like many other Tablets in this period refutes the misrepresentations of Mírzá Yahyá and those of his supporters. Bahá'u'lláh declares in moving and tender language that His motive for revealing this Tablet has been to teach the Faith of God, so that perchance a few souls may recognize Him and arise for the triumph of His Cause. He states that there can be no greater injustice in the world than that the Blessed Beauty should need to adduce proofs to establish the truth of His own Mission, in spite of the fact that He is as manifest as the sun, and the outpourings of His

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* See vol. 1, p, 249.

† Small portions of this Tablet are translated into English by Shoghi Effendi and included in Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, sections L and XCVII.

Revelation have encompassed the world. He affirms that the Cause of God is exalted above proofs and may never be judged by any standard except its own. Yet He has consented, for the sake of the guidance of a few souls, to demonstrate the verities enshrined in His Faith.

The basic question posed by Siráj concerned the exalted titles and position which the Báb had conferred upon Mírzá Yahyá. He wanted to know how such a person could be denounced by Bahá'u'lláh as the embodiment of Satan and the focal point of negation.

Bahá'u'lláh's elucidations are both profound and simple, and are mainly based on the Writings of the Báb. To describe them in the absence of a translation is not an easy task. Furthermore, in order to understand them, one would need to become familiar with Islámic and Bábí terminology. However, Bahá'u'lláh's basic explanation is that as long as man remains under the shadow of the Cause of God, his virtues and qualities are praiseworthy, but when he withholds himself from this bounty and opposes the Faith, his virtues turn into vices and his light into darkness.

In many Tablets Bahá'u'lláh dwells on this theme. For instance, in His Tablet to Shaykh Salmán* which was revealed in Adrianople, He states that a believer who is truly faithful to the Cause of God manifests divine virtues. Because of his devotion to God, the Sun of Truth sheds its radiance upon his soul and consequently these virtues come to light. As long as he remains in this state, his praiseworthy attributes, which originate from God, are evident and undeniable.

Should the same individual at a later time repudiate the Cause of God, all his virtues will return to their origin and his achievements become void. Shorn of divine qualities, he may no longer be regarded as the same person. Bahá'u'lláh states that even the clothes he wears, though physically the same as before, are different in reality. For, as long as a person is a true believer, though he may wear the coarsest of cotton, in the sight

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* See chapter 13.

of God his clothes are as lustrous as the silk of paradise, while after his denial they are fit only to burn in hell-fire.* To illustrate this point Bahá'u'lláh cites the example of a candle. As long as the candle is lighted, it sheds its radiance around. But if the wind blows it out, the light will be extinguished.

There are many people who have rendered notable services to the Faith and their names are recorded in its annals, yet when the winds of tests blew they were unable to subdue their self and ego. These individuals not only lost their faith, but also their goodness and virtues. They fell from the heights of glory into the abyss of degradation and ignominy.

Jamál-i-Burújirdí, to whom reference has been made previously,† is a telling example. During the ministry of Bahá'u'lláh, he was one of the leading teachers of His Cause. Wherever he went the believers flocked around him in order to partake of his knowledge.

Although Jamál was a deceitful man who lusted for leadership and longed for glory, the great majority of the believers did not realize this. They considered him a man of God and treated him with great respect.

In Islámic communities, men of learning were revered by the people. Bahá'u'lláh has also exhorted His followers to honour the truly learned in the Faith, those whose knowledge and learning have not become the cause of pride and self-glorification. A person who is truly learned in the Faith is one who reaches such heights of detachment that he sincerely regards his learning as utter nothingness compared with the truths of the Cause of God. He becomes the embodiment of humility and self-effacement. The best example is Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl, to whom a brief reference was made previously.‡ Before embracing the Faith, Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl often asserted his own knowledge

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* Bahá'u'lláh teaches that heaven and hell are not places but conditions. Nearness to God is a state of being in heaven, while remoteness from Him is hell-fire.

† See pp. 118-19.

‡ See p. 45

and accomplishments. After his recognition of the Faith, however, he became so humble that in all his Bahá'í career he never sought to elevate himself above anybody and he never used the word 'I' to point out, or even allude to, his own achievements. His greatness is not merely in that he did not use the word 'I', but in his genuine belief that he did not have the merit to use the word 'I'.

No doubt it is concerning such men that Bahá'u'lláh reveals in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas:

Happy are ye, O ye the learned ones in Bahá. By the Lord! Ye are the billows of the Most Mighty Ocean, the stars of the firmament of Glory, the standards of triumph waving betwixt earth and heaven. Ye are the manifestations of steadfastness amidst men and the daysprings of Divine Utterance to all that dwell on earth. Well is it with him that turneth unto you and woe betide the froward.27
In the earlier days of the Faith, those individuals like Jamál, who considered themselves superior to others in knowledge and exalted in station, and who pretended to be the most distinguished, always proved to be the source of strife and contention. Bahá'u'lláh has seized power and authority from such men and has dismissed as unauthoritative interpretations the assertions of all individuals even though they may be regarded as the most learned in the Faith. He has instead ordained that all matters be referred to the elected institutions of the Faith whose supreme body--the Universal House of Justice--is under His own guidance.

Jamál-i-Burújirdí was for almost forty years one of the foremost teachers of the Faith. During this period he managed to hide his true colours from the eyes of the faithful. But, as we have stated, there were some with insight who found him to be a master of hypocrisy and deceit. One such person was Ustád Muhammad 'Alíy-i-Salmání * who met Jamál in Adrianople when the latter had gone to attain the presence of Bahá'u'lláh. In his memoirs Salmání recounts the following story:

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* See pp. 155-61 for an account of his life.


27. Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in Synopsis and Codification of Laws and Ordinances of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 27.


["Happy are ye..."] The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶173
One day I brought water into the outer apartment of the house of Bahá'u'lláh where I learnt that Áqá Jamál-i-Burújirdí had arrived. I went into the reception room and found him seated in a corner, clad in an 'abá [cloak] and wearing a large turban.* He held his hands in such a way that if anyone was so inclined he could kiss them!† He had not yet attained the presence of Bahá'u'lláh. That creature was a peculiar looking priest.

I used to consider myself to be a schemer and a man of cunning. So I walked in, uttered a casual greeting of 'Alláh'-u-'Abhá,' and without paying any attention to him sat at the other end of the room. Then I lay down on the floor and after some time arose and sat down again. I did all this to hurt his vanity for he was a pompous man who was seated in the reception room of the Blessed Beauty with an air of superiority and a greatly inflated ego. After having treated him disrespectfully in this manner, I looked at him for a while and then said 'How are you?' He merely shook his head at me. I then left him there and went about my own duties until the afternoon when they brought the news that he was summoned to the presence of Bahá'u'lláh. I went in and called him to follow me. I took him to the inner apartments of the house; we went up the stairs into Bahá'u'lláh's room. The Purest Branch‡ was standing in the presence of the Blessed Beauty.

I stood at the entrance to the room. Jamál went in pretending to be trembling all over and then fell on the ground; this was a mere act. The Blessed Beauty was seated; the Purest Branch went forward to help Jamál to his feet. But Bahá'u'lláh stopped him, saying 'Leave him alone, he will get up himself.'

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* Muslim priests wore turbans; the greater the turban, the more important the priest. Jamál during his Bahá'í career did not discard his turban and priestly attire.

† Muslims showed great respect towards the priests who used to display their hands for the public to kiss. Bahá'u'lláh has forbidden the kissing of hands.

‡ Mírzá Mihdí, the youngest brother of 'Abdu'l-Bahá who later died in 'Akká. His death is regarded by Bahá'u'lláh as His own sacrifice. We shall refer later to this illustrious son in the next volume.

After a while he arose; he sat at first and then stood up. Bahá'u'lláh afterwards dismissed him from his presence and did not say anything. Jamál...stayed for a few days, then Bahá'u'lláh sent him back to Persia. This man was corrupt from the beginning, his aim was nothing but leadership...28
It was this insatiable passion for leadership that destroyed Jamál in the end. For the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh does not allow such unwholesome elements to remain within its fold. It intrinsically repels vain and egotistical people. It is like an ocean: when the tide comes in it throws on the shore dead bodies and cleanses itself from their pollution. In the early years of the ministry of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, before the rebellion of Mírzá Muhammad-'Alí became public, Jamál created a disturbing situation in the community in Tihrán by seeking leadership there. Although he had allied himself with Mírzá Muhammad-'Alí, nevertheless for some time he appeared as one who was loyal to 'Abdu'l-Bahá. During this period he confused the minds of many people and openly contended with the Hands of the Cause of God* in his struggle to gain a position for himself in the Faith. When Mírzá Muhammad-'Alí's rebellion came into the open, Jamál became one of his lieutenants. He was cast out of the Faith by the power of the Covenant. 'Abdu'l-Bahá has said that Jamál was a poison to the community and his expulsion from the Faith cleansed it from his pollution. The fall of Jamál was as dramatic as his rise. When he rebelled against 'Abdu'l-Bahá, the appointed Centre of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh, he became spiritually dead and soon perished. His latter days were spent in remorse and destitution. The crowds who once gathered around with enthusiasm to hear his words were disbanded, for the spirit of faith had departed from his soul. Even one of his sons, Mírzá Lutfu'lláh, who remained steadfast in the Covenant, dissociated himself from him. Mírzá Lutfu'lláh, who later took the family name of Mawhibat, was an artist of out-
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* The functions of the Hands of the Cause, as defined in the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, are mainly the protection and propagation of the Faith. Those now living were appointed by the Guardian, Shoghi Effendi.


28. Ustád Muhammad 'Alíy-i-Salmání, unpublished memoirs, quoted by Ishráq Khávarí, Rahíq-i-Makhtúm, vol. I, pp. 315-16.
standing talent. He rendered a unique service to the Cause by illuminating a great many Tablets which are preserved in the archives of the Faith. These beautiful illuminations stand as a testimony to his artistic genius as well as to his devotion to the Cause of God.

In His Lawh-i-Siráj, Bahá'u'lláh states that the followers of Mírzá Yahyá in Adrianople had been asserting that just as gold cannot be transmuted into baser metal, so a soul who attains an exalted station (i.e. Mírzá Yahyá) can never lose it. In answer to this Bahá'u'lláh has revealed these words:

Consider the doubts which they who have joined partners with God have instilled into the hearts of the people of this land. 'Is it ever possible,' they ask, 'for copper to be transmuted into gold?' Say, Yes, by my Lord, it is possible. Its secret, however, lieth hidden in Our Knowledge. We will reveal it unto whom We will. Whoso doubteth Our power, let him ask the Lord his God, that He may disclose unto him the secret, and assure him of its truth. That copper can be turned into gold is in itself sufficient proof that gold can, in like manner, be transmuted into copper, if they be of them that can apprehend this truth. Every mineral can be made to acquire the density, form, and substance of each and every other mineral. The knowledge thereof is with Us in the Hidden Book.29
The question of alchemy has occupied the minds of people for centuries. During Bahá'u'lláh's ministry it was a live issue and several believers were involved in it. Bahá'u'lláh urged them not to seek to achieve it at that time. However, He confirmed that transmuting baser metal into gold, the dream of the alchemist, was possible. He promised that it would be realized, and asserted that its realization would constitute one of the signs of the coming of age of humanity. He also prophesied that after its discovery a great calamity would await the world unless mankind came under the shelter of the Cause of God.30 Present-day physicists, through special nuclear processes, are able to transmute various elements into others.

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29. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, section xcvii.

30. Bahá'u'lláh, Má'idiy-i-Ásamání, vol. I, p. 41.


[transmutation of elements]: The Kitáb-i-Aqdas Note 194; The Kitáb-i-Íqán p. 157; The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1 p. 86, vol. 4 p. 225.

In the Lawh-i-Siráj Bahá'u'lláh dwells at length upon the misdeeds of Mírzá Yahyá, refers to Himself as Joseph, and describes His own sufferings at the hand of His brother whom He lovingly counsels to repent and return to his God.

Concerning the Revelation of His Word, Bahá'u'lláh informs Siráj that the Word of God has been sent down with an intensity and profusion such as 'secretaries are incapable of transcribing. It has, therefore, remained for the most part untranscribed.' 31 He affirms that although a large part of His Writings were cast into the river in Baghdád by His own instruction,* there yet existed the equivalent of one hundred thousand verses in Adrianople, none of which had so far been transcribed. He states that several people had requested to be allowed to compile those of His Tablets which were available into books for circulation among the believers, but He had not permitted this. Instead, He had assured them that God would raise up exalted men in the future who would gather His Writings together and compile them in the best possible form. He states that Revelation of the Word is the function of the Manifestation of God, while its promulgation rests with man. He gives the example of the Qur'án, which was compiled after Muhammad, as the Gospels after Christ.

Today, the followers of Bahá'u'lláh are witnessing the fulfilment of these words. Several volumes of the Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh have so far been compiled in the original Persian and Arabic languages and a few in other languages. This process is now gathering momentum and as time goes on, more will become available. Apart from this, the Universal House of Justice, the supreme body of the Faith, since the early days of its establishment† has set itself the task of collating the Holy Writings, a task which by virtue of its paramount importance plays a significant role in the unfoldment of the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh.

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* See vol. 1, p. 69.

† The Universal House of Justice was first elected by the National Spiritual Assemblies of the world on 21 April 1963, the centenary of the Declaration of Bahá'u'lláh.


31. Bahá'u'lláh, quoted by Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 171.
[Bahá'u'lláh as Joseph]: The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2 p. 179, vol. 4 p. 81