6

The World's Most Powerful Rulers

In spite of the severity of the restrictions laid on Bahá'u'lláh in the barracks of 'Akká, He joyously imparted to His followers the glad tidings that soon through the power of the Almighty the gates of the prison would be opened and the spiritual influences of His all-encompassing Revelation would increasingly permeate the whole world. As we survey the succession of events from the day Bahá'u'lláh declared His station in the Garden of Ridván in 1863 up to the time that He was incarcerated in the Most Great Prison, we note with awe and wonder the momentous happenings which had taken place and the immensity and vastness of His Revelation which had so effectively revitalized the fortunes of the community of the Most Great Name.

During this short period of time covering not quite six years, Bahá'u'lláh, the Supreme Manifestation of God, had unveiled the glory of His Countenance hidden behind 'a myriad veils of light' to a number of His companions in that Garden, when according to His own testimony the whole of creation had been 'immersed in the sea of purification' and the splendours of the light of His Countenance broke upon the world. At that moment the seed of a new world-embracing, world-vitalizing order, divine in origin and possessed of immeasurable potentialities, had been sown in the soil of human society, destined to germinate one decade later with the revelation of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas when the laws and ordinances as well as the institutions of that same order would be brought into being.

In the short period of time separating the Declaration of His Mission and His imprisonment in 'Akká, the great majority of

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the followers of the Báb had embraced the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh, identified themselves with His name, and some had gone as pilgrims, travelling long distances, often on foot, to attain His presence. As a result of their coming into contact with the vitalizing spirit of His exalted Person, most of them became a new creation. They glowed like balls of fire, returned to their homes and radiated the light of His Faith to countless souls in Persia; many of them willingly accepted the crown of martyrdom and laid down their lives in His path.

In that same period, the Cause of God had witnessed a prodigious outpouring of divine revelation for five years in Adrianople, culminating in the historic proclamation of His Message in that land. The Súriy-i-Mulúk * (Súrih of the Kings) had been revealed in language of authority and power and through it the clarion call of a mighty King had been sounded and His claims fully asserted. The Tablet described by Him as 'The Rumbling' of His proclamation, addressed to Násiri'd-Dín Sháh of Persia had been revealed, though not yet delivered.

His first Tablet to Napoleon III had been dispatched. The Súriy-i-Ra'ís† in which 'Álí Páshá, the Grand Vizir, had been severely rebuked and about which Bahá'u'lláh had testified that from the moment of its revelation 'until the present day, neither hath the world been tranquillized, nor have the hearts of its people been at rest', had been revealed, and the prophecies it contained had been noted with awe and wonder.

Furthermore, the process of the disintegration and rolling up of the old order had been set in motion when the summons of the Lord of Hosts to the kings and rulers of the world was either rejected or ignored. Also in that short period of time, the breaker of the Covenant of the Báb, Mírzá Yahyá, stigmatized by Bahá'u'lláh as the 'Most Great Idol' had been cast out with the hands of power and might from the community of the Most Great Name.

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* see vol. 2, ch. 15.

† see vol. 2, p. 411.

Such were the great and momentous events that had marked the opening years of Bahá'u'lláh's ministry since the declaration of His mission in Baghdád, and now, in 'Akká, though confined to a cell and cut off from the body of the believers, the outpouring of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation did not cease. The Ocean of His utterance continued to surge and the Tongue of Grandeur spoke with authority and might. Behind the walls of the Most Great Prison, the Pen of the Most High directed its warnings and exhortations first to His immediate persecutors and then to some of the outstanding monarchs of the world at that time.

'Never since the beginning of the world,' Bahá'u'lláh Himself affirms, 'hath the Message been so openly proclaimed.' 'Each one of them,' He, specifically referring to the Tablets addressed by Him to the sovereigns of the earth--Tablets acclaimed by 'Abdu'l-Bahá as a 'miracle'--has written, 'hath been designated by a special name. The first hath been named 'The Rumbling,' the second 'The Blow,' the third 'The Inevitable,' the fourth, 'The Plain,' the fifth 'The Catastrophe,' and the others 'The Stunning Trumpet-Blast,' 'The Near Event,' 'The Great Terror,' 'The Trumpet,' 'The Bugle,' and the like, so that all the peoples of the earth may know, of a certainty, and may witness, with outward and inward eyes that He Who is the Lord of Names hath prevailed, and will continue to prevail, under all conditions, over all men.' 1
Tablet to Napoleon III

Bahá'u'lláh's first Tablet to Napoleon III, sent while He was in Adrianople, had been received by the monarch with discourtesy and disrespect.* He is reported to have flung down the Tablet saying 'If this man is God, I am two gods!' The second Tablet to Napoleon III was revealed (in Arabic)

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* see vol. 2, p. 368.


1. Quoted by Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 212.
and sent to him in 1869, after Bahá'u'lláh had received a communication from one of the Emperor's ministers informing Him that up till then there had been no reply forthcoming. This Tablet, unlike the previous one which was written in a mild tone, is revealed in majestic language, has the tone of supreme authority and declares unmistakably that its Author is none other than the King of Kings. Its opening paragraph alone is sufficient to convey to the reader a glimpse of the majesty of Bahá'u'lláh's utterance:

O King of Paris! Tell the priest to ring the bells no longer. By God, the True One! The Most Mighty Bell hath appeared in the form of Him Who is the Most Great Name, and the fingers of the will of thy Lord, the Most Exalted, the Most High, toll it out in the heaven of Immortality, in His Name, the All-Glorious...Give ear, O King, unto the Voice that calleth from the Fire which burneth in this Verdant Tree, upon this Sinai which hath been raised above the hallowed and snow-white Spot, beyond the Everlasting City: 'Verily, there is none other God but Me, the Ever-Forgiving, the Most Merciful!' 2
In this Tablet Bahá'u'lláh prophesies Napoleon's downfall, states the reason for it, and declares his doom to be inevitable unless he makes amends and arises to serve His Cause.

These passages gleaned from the Tablet will serve to acquaint the reader with Bahá'u'lláh's compelling utterance rebuking one of the mightiest monarchs of His time:

O King! We heard the words thou didst utter in answer to the Czar of Russia, concerning the decision made regarding the war (Crimean War). Thy Lord, verily, knoweth, is informed of all. Thou didst say: 'I lay asleep upon my couch, when the cry of the oppressed, who were drowned in the Black Sea, awakened me.' This is what we heard thee say, and, verily, thy Lord is witness unto what I say. We testify that that which wakened thee was not their cry, but
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2. Quoted by Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day Is Come, p. 28.
[O King of Paris!...] Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 47

[Give ear, O King...] Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 47

the promptings of thine own passions, for We tested thee, and found thee wanting. Comprehend the meaning of My words, and be thou of the discerning...Hadst thou been sincere in thy words, thou wouldst have not cast behind thy back the Book of God, when it was sent unto thee by Him Who is the Almighty, the All-Wise. We have proved thee through it, and found thee other than that which thou didst profess. Arise, and make amends for that which escaped thee. Ere long the world and all that thou possessest will perish, and the kingdom will remain unto God, thy Lord and the Lord of thy fathers of old. It behooveth thee not to conduct thine affairs according to the dictates of thy desires. Fear the sighs of this Wronged One, and shield Him from the darts of such as act unjustly. For what thou hast done, thy kingdom shall be thrown into confusion, and thine empire shall pass from thine hands, as a punishment for that which thou hast wrought. Then wilt thou know how thou hast plainly erred. Commotions shall seize all the people in that land, unless thou arisest to help this Cause, and followest Him Who is the Spirit of God (Jesus) in this, the straight Path. Hath thy pomp made thee proud? By My Life! It shall not endure; nay, it shall soon pass away, unless thou holdest fast by this firm Cord. We see abasement hastening after thee, while thou art of the heedless...Abandon thy palaces to the people of the graves, and thine empire to whosoever desireth it, and turn, then, unto the Kingdom. This, verily, is what God hath chosen for thee, wert thou of them that turn unto Him...Shouldst thou desire to bear the weight of thy dominion, bear it then to aid the Cause of thy Lord. Glorified be this station which whoever attaineth thereunto hath attained unto all good that proceedeth from Him Who is the All-Knowing, the All-Wise...Exultest thou over the treasures thou dost possess, knowing they shall perish? Rejoicest thou in that thou rulest a span of earth, when the whole world, in the estimation of the people of Bahá, is worth as much as the black in the eye of a dead ant? Abandon it unto such as have set their affections upon it, and turn thou unto Him Who is the Desire of the world. Whither are gone the proud and
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their palaces? Gaze thou into their tombs, that thou mayest profit by this example, inasmuch as We made it a lesson unto every beholder. Were the breezes of Revelation to seize thee, thou wouldst flee the world, and turn unto the Kingdom, and wouldst expend all thou possessest, that thou mayest draw nigh unto this sublime Vision.3
It took only a few months for Bahá'u'lláh's prophecies to be fulfilled; the Emperor met his doom in 1870.

Shoghi Effendi has written a brief account of this in The Promised Day Is Come:

The significance of the sombre and pregnant words uttered by Bahá'u'lláh in His second Tablet was soon revealed. He who was actuated in provoking the Crimean War by his selfish desires, who was prompted by a personal grudge against the Russian Emperor, who was impatient to tear up the Treaty of 1815 in order to avenge the disaster of Moscow, and who sought to shed military glory over his throne, was soon himself engulfed by a catastrophe that hurled him in the dust, and caused France to sink from her preeminent station among the nations to that of a fourth Power in Europe.

The battle of Sedan in 1870 sealed the fate of the French Emperor. The whole of his army was broken up and surrendered, constituting the greatest capitulation hitherto recorded in modern history. A crushing indemnity was exacted. He himself was taken prisoner. His only son, the Prince Imperial, was killed, a few years later, in the Zulu War. The Empire collapsed, its programme unrealized. The Republic was proclaimed. Paris was subsequently besieged and capitulated. 'The terrible year' marked by civil war, exceeding in its ferocity the Franco-German War, followed. William I, the Prussian king, was proclaimed German Emperor in the very palace which stood as a 'mighty monument and symbol of the power and pride of Louis XIV, a power which had been secured to some extent by the humiliation of Germany.' Deposed by a disaster 'so

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3. Quoted by Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day Is Come, pp. 29-30.
appalling that it resounded throughout the world,' this false and boastful monarch suffered in the end, and till his death, the same exile as that which, in the case of Bahá'u'lláh, he had so heartlessly ignored.4
The Tablet of Bahá'u'lláh to Napoleon was taken out of the Prison by a person who hid it in his hat so that it might not be detected by the guards. It was delivered to the French consular agent in 'Akká' who translated it into French and sent it to the Emperor. The reading of the Tablet revealed in such majestic and eloquent language, containing such ominous warnings to the Emperor, deeply affected the son of the French agent who became a believer when he saw to his amazement the fulfilment of Bahá'u'lláh's prophecies within so short a period of time.

For those who have embraced the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh and recognized the divine origin of His Revelation, there can be no comparison between His Words--the Words of God--and the writings of men. Indeed, immeasurable is the difference between the two. Not only are His words creative, not only do they penetrate deep into the hearts of people and revolutionize human society, but from a literary point of view alone, the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh do not always follow the logical pattern which the minds of men have devised. A writer worthy of his name will commonly dwell on one subject at a time and develop his theme step by step in a logical manner. He does not introduce a subject which is not relevant to his theme half-way through. But the revealed Word is not sent down by God in the pattern of man's thinking and logic. It is exalted above human limitations; it is like a limitless ocean beyond the reach of man, an ocean from whose billowing waves only a few drops resembling words fall upon the shores of human understanding. But its outpouring follows no pattern which the mind of man can comprehend.

An example of this non-conformity may be found in the Tablet to Napoleon, where Bahá'u'lláh gives one of His most binding commandments to His followers in these words:

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* Louis Catafago, a Christian Arab.


4. Quoted by Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day Is Come, pp. 52-3.
God hath prescribed unto every one the duty of teaching His Cause. Whoever ariseth to discharge this duty, must needs, ere he proclaimeth His Message, adorn himself with the ornament of an upright and praiseworthy character, so that his words may attract the hearts of such as are receptive to his call. Without it, he can never hope to influence his hearers.5
And also He counsels His loved ones:

O people of Bahá! Subdue the citadels of men's hearts with the swords of wisdom and of utterance. They that dispute, as prompted by their desires, are indeed wrapped in a palpable veil. Say: The sword of wisdom is hotter than summer heat, and sharper than blades of steel, if ye do but understand. Draw it forth in My name and through the power of My might, and conquer, then, with it the cities of the hearts of them that have secluded themselves in the stronghold of their corrupt desires. Thus biddeth you the Pen of the All-Glorious, whilst seated beneath the swords of the wayward. If ye become aware of a sin committed by another, conceal it, that God may conceal your own sin. He, verily, is the Concealer, the Lord of grace abounding. O ye rich ones on earth! If ye encounter one who is poor, treat him not disdainfully. Reflect upon that whereof ye were created. Every one of you was created of a sorry germ.6
Another example is when Bahá'u'lláh chooses to announce, in the middle of His Tablet to Napoleon, that the two greatest Festivals in the Faith are the Festival of Ridván and the Festival of the Declaration of the Báb, and that these are followed by two other Festivals, His own birthday and that of the Báb. In this Tablet, Bahá'u'lláh also announces the formulation of the law of fasting and stipulates its duration to be nineteen days.*

Such is divine Revelation!

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* A great part of the Tablet to Napoleon III is translated into English and published, but some passages such as those referred to above are not translated yet.


5. Gleanings, CLVIII.

6. Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 55.

Tablet to Pope Pius IX

The Tablet to Pope Plus IX (in Arabic) was revealed by Bahá'u'lláh around the same time as that to Napoleon. In it Bahá'u'lláh identifies Himself as the Lord of Lords and addresses the Pope with the authority and majesty of God, proclaiming to him in unequivocal language the promised return of Christ in the glory of the Father, and summoning him with the commanding voice of the Almighty to leave his palaces and hasten to present himself before the throne of his Lord.

Here are some extracts from this mighty Tablet:

O Pope! Rend the veils asunder. He Who is the Lord of Lords is come overshadowed with clouds, and the decree hath been fulfilled by God, the Almighty, the Unrestrained...He, verily, hath again come down from Heaven even as He came down from it the first time. Beware that thou dispute not with Him even as the Pharisees disputed with Him (Jesus) without a clear token or proof...

Dwellest thou in palaces whilst He Who is the King of Revelation liveth in the most desolate of abodes? Leave them unto such as desire them, and set thy face with joy and delight towards the Kingdom...Arise to the name of thy Lord, the God of Mercy, amidst the peoples of the earth, and seize thou the Cup of Life with the hands of confidence, and first drink thou therefrom, and proffer it then to such as turn towards it amongst the peoples of all faiths...

Call thou to remembrance Him Who was the Spirit (Jesus), Who when He came, the most learned of His age pronounced judgment against Him in His own country, whilst he who was only a fisherman believed in Him. Take heed, then, ye men of understanding heart!...

O Supreme Pontiff! Incline thine ear unto that which the Fashioner of mouldering bones counselleth thee, as voiced by Him Who is His Most Great Name. Sell all the embellished ornaments thou dost possess, and expend them

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in the path of God, Who causeth the night to return upon the day, and the day to return upon the night. Abandon thy kingdom unto the kings, and emerge from thy habitation, with thy face set towards the Kingdom, and, detached from the world, then speak forth the praises of thy Lord betwixt earth and heaven. Thus hath bidden thee He Who is the Possessor of Names, on the part of thy Lord, the Almighty, the All-Knowing.7
It is significant that very soon after the revelation of this Tablet, the temporal sovereignty of the Pope, which for centuries had proved to be the most powerful in Christendom but which had been diminishing in its power and influence for some time, was, through the potency of the words of the heavenly Father, dramatically extinguished.

Shoghi Effendi in his evaluation of this event has written:

In 1870, after Bahá'u'lláh had revealed His Epistle to Pius IX, King Victor Emmanuel I went to war with the Papal states, and his troops entered Rome and seized it. On the eve of its seizure, the Pope repaired to the Lateran and, despite his age and with his face bathed in tears, ascended on bended knees the Scala Santa. The following morning, as the cannonade began, he ordered the white flag to be hoisted above the dome of St. Peter. Despoiled, he refused to recognize this 'creation of revolution,' excommunicated the invaders of his states, denounced Victor Emmanuel as the 'robber King' and as 'forgetful of every religious principle, despising every right, trampling upon every law.' Rome, 'the Eternal City, on which rest twenty-five centuries of glory,' and over which the Popes had ruled in unchallengeable right for ten centuries, finally became the seat of the new kingdom, and the scene of that humiliation which Bahá'u'lláh had anticipated and which the Prisoner of the Vatican had imposed upon himself.

'The last years of the old Pope,' writes a commentator on his life, 'were filled with anguish. To his physical infirmities was added the sorrow of beholding, all too often, the Faith outraged in the very heart of Rome, the religious orders

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7. The Proclamation of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 83-5.
despoiled and persecuted, the Bishops and priests debarred from exercising their functions.'

Every effort to retrieve the situation created in 1870 proved fruitless. The Archbishop of Posen went to Versailles to solicit Bismarck's intervention in behalf of the Papacy, but was coldly received. Later a Catholic party was organized in Germany to bring political pressure on the German Chancellor. All, however, was in vain. The mighty process already referred to had to pursue inexorably its course. Even now, after the lapse of above half a century, the so-called restoration of temporal sovereignty has but served to throw into greater relief the helplessness of this erstwhile potent Prince, at whose name kings trembled and to whose dual sovereignty they willingly submitted. This temporal sovereignty, practically confined to the minuscule City of the Vatican, and leaving Rome the undisputed possession of a secular monarchy, has been obtained at the price of unreserved recognition, so long withheld, of the Kingdom of Italy. The Treaty of the Lateran, claiming to have resolved once and for all the Roman Question, has indeed assured to a secular Power, in respect of the Enclaved City, a liberty of action which is fraught with uncertainty and peril. 'The two souls of the Eternal City,' a Catholic writer has observed, 'have been separated from each other, only to collide more severely than ever before.'

Well might the Sovereign Pontiff recall the reign of the most powerful among his predecessors, Innocent III who, during the eighteen years of his pontificate, raised and deposed the kings and the emperors, whose interdicts deprived nations of the exercise of Christian worship, at the feet of whose legate the King of England surrendered his crown, and at whose voice the fourth and the fifth crusades were both undertaken.8

Tablet to Czar Alexander II

Another Tablet revealed in 'Akká was a Tablet to the Czar of Russia, Alexander II. It was revealed in Arabic. In it Bahá'u'lláh proclaims His station, identifies Himself as the

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8. The Promised Day Is Come, pp. 55-6.
Heavenly Father and calls on him to arise in His Name, proclaim His Mission and summon the nations to His Cause. These are some of the words of Bahá'u'lláh addressed to the Czar:

O Czar of Russia! Incline thine ear unto the voice of God, the King, the Holy, and turn thou unto Paradise, the Spot wherein abideth He Who, among the Concourse on high, beareth the most excellent titles, and Who, in the kingdom of creation, is called by the name of God, the Effulgent, the All-Glorious. Beware lest thy desire deter thee from turning towards the face of thy Lord, the Compassionate, the Most Merciful...Beware lest thy sovereignty withhold thee from Him Who is the Supreme Sovereign. He, verily, is come with His Kingdom, and all the atoms cry aloud: 'Lo! The Lord is come in His great majesty!' He Who is the Father is come and the Son (Jesus), in the holy vale, crieth out: 'Here am I, here am I, O Lord, My God!', whilst Sinai circleth round the House, and the Burning Bush calleth aloud: 'The All-Bounteous is come mounted upon the clouds! Blessed is he that draweth nigh unto Him, and woe betide them that are far away.'

Arise thou amongst men in the name of this all-compelling Cause, and summon, then, the nations unto God, the Exalted, the Great.9

Describing the pre-eminent nature of His Revelation, Bahá'u'lláh writes:

Say: This is an Announcement whereat the hearts of the Prophets and Messengers have rejoiced. This is the One Whom the heart of the world remembereth and is promised in the Books of God, the Mighty, the All-Wise. The hands of the Messengers were, in their desire to meet Me, upraised towards God, the Mighty, the Glorified...Some lamented in their separation from Me, others endured hardships in My path, and still others laid down their lives for the sake of My Beauty, could ye but know it. Say: I, verily, have not sought to extol Mine Own Self, but rather God Himself
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9. Proclamation, pp. 27-8.
were ye to judge fairly. Naught can be seen in Me except God and His Cause, could ye but perceive it. I am the One Whom the tongue of Isaiah hath extolled, the One with Whose name both the Torah and the Evangel were adorned...10
The exhortations of Bahá'u'lláh fell on deaf ears. Unmoved by the proclamation of so mighty a message, Alexander II ruled over his country until 1881 when he was assassinated, and with the rise of Bolshevism in 1917 his dynasty was extinguished.

There is a passage in this Tablet in which Bahá'u'lláh refers to the Czar's supplication to God but does not reveal its details. He writes:

We, verily, have heard the thing for which thou didst supplicate thy Lord, whilst secretly communing with Him. Wherefore, the breeze of My loving-kindness wafted forth, and the sea of My Mercy surged, and We answered thee in truth. Thy Lord, verily, is the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.11
A certain believer Áqá Muhammad-Rahím, a native of Isfahán, was confronted with a question from a Russian Consul in Esterábád concerning the above passage. This is his story as recorded in the memoirs of Ustád 'Alí-Akbar-i-Banná* of Yazd.

Áqá Muhammad-Rahím became a believer at a time of persecutions and sufferings. But he did not become inhibited by opposition. He taught the Faith openly and as a result some people embraced the Faith while others rose up in opposition, intent upon harming him, especially his father who was bitterly against him. Eventually he had to
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* Ustád 'Alí-Akbar was an outstanding follower of Bahá'u'lláh who was martyred in Yazd in 1903. He lived for some years in 'Ishqábád and rendered notable services to the Faith. His memoirs deal mainly with the history of the Cause and the believers in 'Ishqábád. The Tablet of Tajallíyát was revealed in his honour. We shall refer to him in more detail in the next volume.


10. Proclamation, p. 29.

11. ibid. p. 27.

forgo wealth and prosperity at home, and, detached from all earthly things, he migrated to Sabzivár (Province of Khurásán) were he worked for some time in the copper mines. Later, as a result of persecutions against the believers in Sabzivár he left for 'Ishqábád where he resided till the end of his life.

Áqá Muhammad-Rahím was an accomplished teacher of the Faith as well as a writer. He visited 'Akká twice during the lifetime of Bahá'u'lláh and attained His presence. He told us the following story:

'Before I went on my first pilgrimage to attain the Holy Presence of Bahá'u'lláh, a Russian Consul in Esterábád had intimated to an Armenian merchant that he would like to meet a Bahá'í from Sabzivár who could bring some Bahá'í books for him. He had also offered to pay the expenses involved. The Armenian merchant gave this message to Hájí Muhammad-Kázim, a merchant of Isfahán (a Bahá'í). The Hájí and other believers consulted together and decided that I should go.

The Armenian merchant wrote a letter of introduction to the Consul which I took with me along with some Bahá'í books. I travelled to Esterábád and two days later I went to the Consul and handed him the letter. He invited me to stay at his home, which I did. We used to talk together in the evenings. He talked about some parts of the history of the Faith that he knew, and I enlightened him on subjects that he was not familiar with. One night he said to me: 'The main purpose in calling you here is to ask you the meaning of the following passage which appears in Bahá'u'lláh's Tablet to the Czar: "We, verily have heard the thing for which thou didst supplicate thy Lord, whilst secretly communing with Him. Wherefore, the breeze of My loving-kindness wafted forth, and the sea of My mercy surged, and We answered thee in truth. Thy Lord, verily, is the All-Knowing, the All-Wise."'

What did the Czar ask in his prayer which was granted to him? I did not know what to answer, so I said, 'God knows that.' 'That is obvious,' he said, 'but how do you interpret this passage?' I meditated for a little while on the subject and

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came to the conclusion that kings don't ask anything from God except victory in their conquests and defeat for their enemies...To reverse the situation after Russia's defeat in the Crimean War, the Czar had prayed to God to make him victorious in his fight against the Ottomans and to enable him to conquer their cities. I conveyed all these thoughts to the Consul and suggested that he ought to write a letter to the Czar and inform him that his prayers would be answered and that he should carry out his plans and intentions.

After a few days he paid my travelling expenses and I returned home. But in my heart I was apprehensive lest my interpretation of the Tablet might have been incorrect. I was worried about this subject. Fear and hope dwelt together in my heart until I travelled to 'Akká and arrived at the Caravanserai. It did not take very long before Mírzá Áqá Ján [Bahá'u'lláh's amanuensis] came to see me. Among other things he asked me: 'What things did you say to the Russian Consul?' I remained silent and became apprehensive. An hour later Ghusn-i-Akbar [Mírzá Muhammad-'Alí, the son of Bahá'u'lláh who later became the Arch-Breaker of the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh] came to visit me. He also asked the same question. That added to my anxiety.

The following morning, the Most Great Branch ['Abdu'l-Bahá] came. I felt obliged to tell Him the whole story exactly as it had happened and I confessed to the mistake I had made in my statement. 'Abdu'l-Bahá said to me, 'Be happy and relieved, for the statement you have made was the truth, because on a certain day the Blessed Beauty intimated that at that very moment someone was reading the Tablet of the Czar. Then Bahá'u'lláh mentioned you. He said, "The Russian Consul asked one of Our servants: 'What was the prayer of the King?' The answer he received was a correct one." Then He revealed your name, saying, "That person was Áqá Muhammad-Rahím-i-Isfahání."'* I thanked God for this and was very happy to hear it.12

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* These are not the exact words of Bahá'u'lláh or 'Abdu'l-Bahá. They are the recollections of Áqá Muhammad-Rahím.


12. Unpublished memoirs.
These thoughts of Áqá Muhammad-Rahím, conveyed to the Russian Consul, refer to the war of 1877-8 between Russia and Turkey. The Czar went to war apparently to avenge the defeat of his father in the Crimean War. At first his armies made considerable progress and were moving toward Constantinople. Then their progress was halted by the Turks and many Russian soldiers were killed in the battles which followed. The Czar saw the prospect of defeat again, and Áqá Muhammad-Rahím thought this must have been the time that the Czar had turned to God in prayer beseeching His help. Bahá'u'lláh states in His Tablet that the Czar's prayers were answered.

It should be noted here that in the Súriy-i-Ra'ís, revealed a few years before when He was on His way to 'Akká, Bahá'u'lláh had foretold the calamities which were to befall the Turkish Government and people as a punishment from God for the cruelties they had inflicted on Him and His disciples. And later, in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas (The Most Holy Book), He made a further denunciation of the tyrannical regime in Turkey and prophesied its downfall.*

The murder of Sultán 'Abdu'l-Azíz in 1876 was the initial punishment, followed by the war of 1877-8 which brought victory to the Russians and set in motion the process of the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire. Adrianople was occupied by the Russians and no less than eleven million people were freed from the cruelties of that tyrannical regime.

Tablet to Queen Victoria

A Tablet in Arabic replete with counsels and exhortations was addressed by Bahá'u'lláh to Queen Victoria. In it He proclaims the coming of the Lord in His great glory and summons her to His Cause:

O Queen in London! Incline thine ear unto the voice of thy
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* see below, pp. 151-2.



["O people of Constantinople..."] The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶89
Lord, the Lord of all mankind, calling from the Divine Lote-Tree; Verily, no God is there but Me, the Almighty, the All-Wise! Cast away all that is on earth, and attire the head of thy kingdom with the crown of the remembrance of thy Lord, the All-Glorious. He, in truth, hath come unto the world in His most great glory, and all that hath been mentioned in the Gospel hath been fulfilled...Lay aside thy desire, and set then thine heart towards thy Lord, the Ancient of Days. We make mention of thee for the sake of God, and desire that thy name may be exalted through thy remembrance of God, the Creator of earth and heaven. He, verily, is witness unto that which I say.13
Bahá'u'lláh commends the Queen in this Tablet for having 'forbidden the trading in slaves' and for having 'entrusted the reins of counsel into the hands of the representatives of the people'. It should be noted here that Bahá'u'lláh in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, the Book of Laws, forbids the trading of slaves. He approves the system of government in which representatives of the people take part. In His Tablet to the Queen, Bahá'u'lláh exhorts the members of the British Parliament in these words:

It behoveth them [the members of the Parliament] however, to be trustworthy among His servants, and to regard themselves as the representatives of all that dwell on earth. This is what counselleth them, in this Tablet, He Who is the Ruler, the All-Wise...Blessed is he that entereth the assembly for the sake of God, and judgeth between men with pure justice. He, indeed is of the blissful...14
What a great contrast between these sublime teachings, which constitute the distinguishing character of the future institutions of the Bahá'í Commonwealth,* and the present political systems in which everyone fights for himself and his country to the exclusion of others!

The fundamental teaching of the oneness of mankind, which

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* For a study of the Bahá'í World Commonwealth see The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 161-206, and other writings of Shoghi Effendi.


13. Proclamation, p. 33.

14. ibid. p. 34.


[trading in slaves] The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶72
is deeply rooted in the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh and the attainment of which, on a spiritual level, is promised by Him to take place in the fullness of time in the Golden Age of His Faith, plays a significant part in the attitudes and conduct of His followers in their daily lives. Such a universal outlook that all humanity is one, created by the same God through His love, transcends all other standards for a Bahá'í.

Bahá'u'lláh, in His Tablet to the Queen, has established this basic principle for the members of a Parliament. The exhortation that they ought to 'regard themselves as the representatives of all that dwell on earth' may be acceptable to some on moral grounds, but cannot be carried out in practice in a world so divided against itself, and its implementation may be looked upon as an impossibility by those who have not as yet recognized the divine origin of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh. But those who have embraced His Faith and who are already witnessing the spirit of universal love practised in their local, national and international councils, entertain no doubt that as these embryonic institutions grow and develop to a point where they will be adopted as systems of government, the members of these councils the world over will have acquired such a universal outlook as to fully conform with Bahá'u'lláh's exhortation revealed in the above Tablet. It is then that the Most Great Peace referred to by Bahá'u'lláh will be established.

On World Unity

In the Tablet to the Queen Bahá'u'lláh counsels the rulers of the world to establish peace on earth. Then He makes this important statement:

Now that ye have refused the Most Great Peace, hold ye fast unto this, the Lesser Peace, that haply ye may in some degree better your own condition and that of your dependants.15
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15. Gleanings, CXIX, 3.
Any unbiased observer who is willing to study the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh will come to the conclusion that each one of His teachings or counsels, revealed over a hundred years ago, has become part of the spirit of the age, especially those which deal with social aspects of the life of man on this planet. Unaware of the source of these teachings, humanity is increasingly being driven by forces beyond its control to uphold and enforce them.

One such teaching is the creation of the Lesser Peace which is a form of political peace. Its terms are to be concluded between the nations of the world and its aim to abolish global wars. Bahá'ís believe that since Bahá'u'lláh has advocated it, similar to the rest of His Teachings, the Lesser Peace will inevitably be established. The creative words of God uttered by Him will exert their influence in such a way that man will have no choice but to establish the Lesser Peace. Already man has built up such an arsenal of destructive weapons that he could wipe out the entire human race with them. Probably the Lesser Peace will come into being as a last resort and as a desperate measure to save humanity from total destruction.

The Lesser Peace, a political system, although vastly inferior to the Most Great Peace and far removed from the bounties and perfections inherent in the latter, is nevertheless an important milestone in the emergence of that glorious destiny of mankind prophesied by Bahá'u'lláh. Concerning the Most Great Peace, which may be regarded as synonymous with both the establishment of the Kingdom of God on Earth prophesied by Christ, and the Bahá'í World Commonwealth, Shoghi Effendi writes:

The Most Great Peace, on the other hand, as conceived by Bahá'u'lláh--a peace that must inevitably follow as the practical consequence of the spiritualization of the world and the fusion of all its races, creeds, classes and nations--can rest on no other basis, and can be preserved through no other agency, except the divinely appointed ordinances that are implicit in the World Order that stands associated with His Holy Name.16
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16. 'The Unfoldment of World Civilization', The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 162-3.
With the establishment of the Most Great Peace and the spiritualization of the peoples of the world, man will become a noble being adorned with divine virtues and perfections. This is one of the fruits of the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, promised by Him. The nobility of man and his spiritual development will lead him in the future to such a position that no individual could enjoy eating his food or resting at home while knowing that there was one person somewhere in the world without food or shelter. It is Bahá'u'lláh's mission to create such a new race of men.*

In His Tablet to the Queen, Bahá'u'lláh further counsels the elected representatives of the people throughout the world in these words:

O ye the elected representatives of the people in every land! Take ye counsel together, and let your concern be only for that which profiteth mankind, and bettereth the condition thereof, if ye be of them that scan heedfully. Regard the world as the human body which, though at its creation whole and perfect, hath been afflicted, through various causes, with grave disorders and maladies. Not for one day did it gain ease, nay its sickness waxed more severe, as it fell under the treatment of ignorant physicians, who gave full rein to their personal desires, and have erred grievously. And if, at one time, through the care of an able physician, a member of that body was healed, the rest remained afflicted as before. Thus informeth you the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.

We behold it, in this day, at the mercy of rulers so drunk with pride that they cannot discern clearly their own best advantage, much less recognize a Revelation so bewildering and challenging as this. And whenever any one of them hath striven to improve its condition, his motive hath been his own gain, whether confessedly so or not; and the unworthiness of this motive hath limited his power to heal or cure.17

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* see vol. 2, pp. 142-3.


17. Gleanings, CXX.
Over one hundred years have now passed since these words were uttered by the Supreme Manifestation of God, the True Physician come to heal the ills of mankind. The world situation has dangerously deteriorated since these prophetic words were issued by Bahá'u'lláh. Only when mankind as a whole has recognized Bahá'u'lláh as the Divine Physician and has embraced His Faith will these words of His, addressed to Queen Victoria, be universally fulfilled:

That which the Lord hath ordained as the sovereign remedy and mightiest instrument for the healing of all the world is the union of all its peoples in one universal Cause, one common Faith. This can in no wise be achieved except through the power of a skilled, an all-powerful and inspired Physician. This, verily, is the truth, and all else naught but error.18
The followers of Bahá'u'lláh, therefore, do not subscribe to the view, commonly held by the peoples of the world everywhere, that the grave problems besetting mankind may be resolved by administering the usual remedies which the minds of men are devising. They conscientiously believe that the appalling world conditions will not be totally improved by any scientific, economic or political measures, and that none of the expedient methods used during the past century, nor those that are currently being pursued, can succeed in healing the diseased body of mankind. A discerning unbiased person can also come to the same conclusion. For it is very clear that in spite of all the efforts being made by the generality of mankind, its rulers and its wise men, to improve the world situation, and in spite of all their knowledge and accomplishments, the plight of humanity is worsening day by day.

Shoghi Effendi, as far back as 1931, wrote:

Humanity, whether viewed in the light of man's individual conduct or in the existing relationships between organized communities and nations, has, alas, strayed too far and
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18. Gleanings, CXX.
suffered too great a decline to be redeemed through the unaided efforts of the best among its recognized rulers and statesmen--however disinterested their motives, however concerted their action, however unsparing in their zeal and devotion to its cause. No scheme which the calculations of the highest statesmanship may yet devise; no doctrine which the most distinguished exponents of economic theory may hope to advance; no principle which the most ardent of moralists may strive to inculcate, can provide, in the last resort, adequate foundations upon which the future of a distracted world can be built.

No appeal for mutual tolerance which the worldly-wise might raise, however compelling and insistent, can calm its passions or help restore its vigour. Nor would any general scheme of mere organized international cooperation, in whatever sphere of human activity, however ingenious in conception, or extensive in scope, succeed in removing the root cause of the evil that has so rudely upset the equilibrium of present-day society. Not even, I venture to assert, would the very act of devising the machinery required for the political and economic unification of the world--a principle that has been increasingly advocated in recent times--provide in itself the antidote against the poison that is steadily undermining the vigour of organized peoples and nations.

What else, might we not confidently affirm, but the unreserved acceptance of the Divine Programme enunciated, with such simplicity and force as far back as sixty years ago, by Bahá'u'lláh, embodying in its essentials God's divinely appointed scheme for the unification of mankind in this age, coupled with an indomitable conviction in the unfailing efficacy of each and all of its provisions, is eventually capable of withstanding the forces of internal disintegration which, if unchecked, must needs continue to eat into the vitals of a despairing society. It is towards this goal--the goal of a new World Order, Divine in origin, all-embracing in scope, equitable in principle, challenging in its features--that a harassed humanity must strive.

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To claim to have grasped all the implications of Bahá'u'lláh's prodigious scheme for world-wide human solidarity, or to have fathomed its import, would be presumptuous on the part of even the declared supporters of His Faith. To attempt to visualize it in all its possibilities, to estimate its future benefits, to picture its glory, would be premature at even so advanced a stage in the evolution of mankind.19
World unity as envisaged by Bahá'u'lláh does not consist merely of a system in which humanity enjoys political unity and the sharing of the resources of the world equitably among its peoples and nations. It goes much further than that. The unity described by Bahá'u'lláh in His Writings is the unity of hearts, and this can only be realized when mankind recognizes the Manifestation of God for this age and turns to Him as a focal point, believing in His words that everyone has been created by the same God, and obeying His commandment to love all human beings.

The following statement by Bahá'u'lláh is the key to world unity:

We fain would hope that the people of Bahá may be guided by the blessed words: 'Say: All things are of God.' This exalted utterance is like unto water for quenching the fire of hate and enmity which smouldereth within the hearts and breasts of men. By this single utterance contending peoples and kindreds will attain the light of true unity. Verily He speaketh the truth and leadeth the way. He is the All-Powerful, the Exalted, the Gracious.20
History has shown that the words and teachings of the Manifestations of God are creative. They are endowed with such potency that they penetrate into the hearts and move the people to obey them. Indeed, the greatest mission of every Manifestation of God during His own Dispensation has been to release such spiritual forces into the world as to revitalize all those who turn to Him. But the words of men, no matter how
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19. 'The Goal of a New World Order', The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 33-4.

20. Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 222.

exalted they may be, are incapable of influencing the hearts of people and making them united.

The coming of a Manifestation of God is very similar to the appearance of springtime in nature. The rays of the sun and the vernal showers of that season give new life to the physical world. The fruits appear in the summer as a result of the life-giving forces of the spring. Then winter follows, and nature becomes dormant and cold. When the next spring arrives, the same process is repeated again.

The coming of the Manifestations of God follows the same pattern. Each time they appear they give spiritual life to the body of mankind. But each one has a Dispensation, a specific period during which His teachings revive humanity and impart to it the impulses which cause its progress. Then comes decline, leading to the end, when the teachings of that particular religion lose their influence altogether. It is after such a stage that God sends a new messenger to mankind to release fresh spiritual forces for its regeneration. And the teachings are designed in accordance with the conditions of the new age.

The teachings of God in this day, revealed by Bahá'u'lláh, revolve around unity, and it is to this goal that a disconsolate humanity is striving. But with all his resources and capabilities, man is helpless to establish a lasting peace among the warring nations and peoples of the world. This in spite of the fact that humanity has advanced enormously in many fields of knowledge and has within its ranks brilliant men and women who have produced great achievements in almost every aspect of life on this planet. But one thing they have proved themselves to be incapable of--namely to unite the hearts of men who are each other's enemy, and make them love one another.

Referring to the unity established among the warring tribes of Arabia, the Qur'án states:

It is he [God] who hath strengthened thee with his help, and
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with that of the faithful: and hath united their hearts. If thou hadst expended whatever riches are in the earth, thou couldst not have united their hearts, but God united them; for he is mighty and wise.21
A cursory study of the nature and composition of the worldwide Bahá'í Community can demonstrate the supernatural influence of the words of Bahá'u'lláh in bringing unity to the hearts of millions of people of diverse origins, people who come from every conceivable background, in all parts of the world. The unity which binds the members of this multiracial, world-encircling community is inspired not by a desire for friendship or other expedient reasons. It is generated through the knowledge of the advent of a universal Manifestation of God* in this age, and submission to His commandments. When the individual recognizes Bahá'u'lláh as the Mouthpiece of God in this age, he can then easily accept and carry out His teachings, relinquish all kinds of age-long prejudices which have divided mankind, and replace them with an all-embracing love for every human being. This is similar to the transforming influence of the words of Christ which inspired the Christians to turn the other cheek in the early days of Christianity.
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* see vol. 1, p. 309.


21. Qur'án, viii. 63.