Kitáb-i-Aqdas. 1. The Law of God

In the early part of 1873, almost five years after His arrival in 'Akká, Bahá'u'lláh, then confined in the house of 'Údí Khammár, revealed the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, the Most Holy Book, regarded as the Mother Book of this Dispensation, a Book unique and incomparable among the world's sacred scriptures, designated by Himself as the 'Source of true felicity', the 'unerring Balance', the 'Straight path', the 'quickener of mankind', the 'river of mercy', the 'Ark of His laws'. To it the Prophets of the past have alluded as the 'new heaven', the 'new earth', the 'Tabernacle of God', the 'Holy City', the 'Bride' and the 'New Jerusalem coming down from God'. Shoghi Effendi has acclaimed it as the charter of Bahá'u'lláh's new world order and of future world civilization.

This book, written in Arabic, the brightest emanation from the Pen of the Most High, stands out from among all Bahá'u'lláh's writings as the 'Mother Book' of His Dispensation. Next to it in rank is the Kitáb-i-Íqán (Book of Certitude).* Of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Bahá'u'lláh states, 'this Book is a heaven which We have adorned with the stars of Our commandments and prohibitions', and again, 'verily, it is My weightiest testimony unto all people, and the proof of the All-Merciful unto all who are in heaven and all who are on earth'.1

As well as being the mightiest and most exalted of Bahá'u'lláh's writings, the Kitáb-i-Aqdas is from the literary point of view one of the most beautiful. It is matchless in its eloquence, unsurpassed in its lucidity, enchanting in its style, superb in its composition and varied in its theme. Every


* see vol. 1, ch. 10.

1. Quoted by Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 216.
sentence is simple and easily intelligible to the reader: it is impossible to suggest a better or more eloquent construction. It is the masterpiece of Bahá'u'lláh's utterances. Though basically a book of laws and ordinances, it is so revealed that its laws are interwoven with passages of spiritual counsel and exhortation, of weighty pronouncements and divine guidance. The manner in which this is done is unique and original. It fascinates the reader with its beauty and enchantment. Of it Bahá'u'lláh speaks, 'By My life! It hath been sent down in a manner that amazeth the minds of men.' And in another passage He states:

By God! such is the majesty of what hath been revealed therein, and so tremendous the revelation of its veiled allusions that the loins of utterance shake when attempting their description.2
In revealing the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Bahá'u'lláh may be likened to a celestial bird whose habitation is in the realm of the spirit far above the ken of men, soaring in the spiritual heights of glory. In that station, Bahá'u'lláh speaks about spiritual matters, reveals the verities of His Cause and unveils the glory of His Revelation to mankind. From such a lofty horizon this immortal Bird of the Spirit suddenly and unexpectedly descends upon the world of dust. In this station, Bahá'u'lláh announces and expounds laws. Then the Bird takes its flight back into the spiritual domains. Here the Tongue of Grandeur speaks again with majesty and authority, revealing some of the choicest passages treasured in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith, translated a considerable number of these passages into superb English and included most of them in Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh.*

This ascent and descent, the revelation of spiritual teachings


* The following passages in Gleanings are from the Kitáb-i-Aqdas: XXXVII, LVI, LXX, LXXI, LXXII, XCVIII, CV, CLV, CLIX and CLXV.

2. Quoted by Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 216.
on the one hand, and the giving of laws on the other, follow one another throughout the Book. There seems to be no visible pattern for the interweaving of the two, nor is there any apparent connection between them. Bahá'u'lláh, after expounding some of His choicest teachings or revealing some of His counsels and exhortations, abruptly changes the subject and gives one or more laws which outwardly seem not to have any relevance to the previous subject.

Every major religion has had laws given by its Founder. These laws have played an important part in governing community affairs and guiding the lives of the individual believers; Judaism and Islám are the best examples. In the Christian Faith, however, there are not many laws given by Christ, and because of this, it may be difficult for people of Christian background to appreciate the significance of religious laws and the vital role they play in the life of the community. Probably the reason why Christ did not reveal many laws for His followers is that His Message was mainly directed towards individual salvation, and left no major guidelines for community affairs. He laid emphasis on the spiritual health of the individual as epitomized in His Sermon on the Mount, but left no laws to govern the activities of communities and nations and to define their relationship to each other.

The laws of every religion are valid and applicable until the next Manifestation of God appears. After that they become out of date and lose their effectiveness; people do not feel the urge to follow them. For instance, the laws of Moses were in accord with the spirit of the age until the appearance of Christ when they became out of date. There are many laws in the Old Testament which were good for the age they were designed for and which were practised for over a thousand years, but they are not applicable any longer. The laws of Islám which were given by the Prophet Muhammad were valid up to the time of the coming of the Báb. These laws were operative among the Islámic nations for about thirteen hundred lunar years. Ever


since the revelation of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, in which the laws of the new age were formulated, most of the laws of Islám have become inoperative. Not only have some of the Islámic governments been forced to abandon the application of Islámic laws in favour of civil laws which they themselves have enacted, but the spirit of the new age, manifesting itself both through constructive and destructive processes, has so radically changed social circumstances that in many instances it has become impossible to implement the laws of Islám.

The laws revealed in the Bayán by the Báb were designed to be short-lived. Some of them were incomplete, being either directly or by implication dependent upon the advent of 'Him Whom God shall make Manifest'.* The laws of the Bábí religion were abrogated by the revelation of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. Only a few of the laws given by the Báb were confirmed by Bahá'u'lláh and these were reinstated in that same book. 'Abdu'l-Bahá has declared that those laws of the Báb which were not confirmed in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas are to be considered as abrogated.3 In another Tablet He states that any law revealed elsewhere in the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, if contrary to the laws of the Aqdas, is invalid. But those which are not contrary, or are not mentioned in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, are valid and binding.

Indeed, as we survey the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, we come across many Tablets which contain some laws or deal with the elucidation and application of laws. Such Tablets are regarded as supplementary to the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. It is therefore clear that the Kitáb-i-Aqdas on its own does not contain all the laws of Bahá'u'lláh. After its revelation Bahá'u'lláh permitted Zaynu'l-Muqarrabín,† one of His devoted companions, who was formerly a mujtahid (Doctor of Islámic law) and highly experienced in the application of Islámic law, to ask any questions he might have regarding the application of the laws of Bahá'u'lláh. The answers given by Him are contained in a


* Bahá'u'lláh. See vol. 1, ch. 18.

† see vol. 1, pp. 25-6.

3. Quoted by Fádil-i Mázindarání, Amr Va Khalq, vol. I, p. 8.
book known as Questions and Answers which is to be regarded as an appendix to the Kitáb-i-Aqdas.

In a Tablet4 written by Mírzá Áqá Ján, Bahá'u'lláh's amanuensis, dated 15th of Jamádíyu'l-Avval 1290 (11 July 1873), it is stated that the Kitáb-i-Aqdas was revealed around that time. It also refers to the circumstances which led to its revelation. For some years, the believers had been asking questions about the laws of the Faith, but Bahá'u'lláh did not find it timely to respond to them. While in Adrianople He revealed a number of laws in His Persian writings, but did not release them to the believers. Questions continued to come to him while in 'Akká, and when the time was propitious, Bahá'u'lláh revealed the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. But from the beginning He stressed to His followers the need to be discreet and wise in the implementation of its laws. He advised them not to practise any of its provisions which might prove to be untimely or could cause agitation or disturbance among the people.

Shortly after the revelation of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Hájí Siyyid Javád-i-Karbilá'í,* a distinguished believer who was held in high esteem by the community, was anxious for the Bahá'ís to implement the laws of that Book. In a Tablet addressed to him, Bahá'u'lláh discloses the pre-eminent position which the Kitáb-i-Aqdas occupies, refers to it as the most great magnet through which the hearts of the peoples of the world will be attracted, and prophesies that through it the majesty and sovereignty of God will, ere long, be made manifest. But He counsels Hájí Siyyid Javád to exercise caution and wisdom in the implementation of its laws at that time. The following is an extract from the above-mentioned Tablet to Hájí Siyyid Javád:

For a number of years, petitions reached the Most Holy Presence from various lands begging for the laws of God, but We held back the Pen ere the appointed time had come.

* see vol. 1, pp. 221-4.

4. Quoted by Fádil-i Mázindarání, Amr Va Khalq, vol. I, p. 10.

[Questions and Answers] The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 103
Thereupon the Day-Star of the laws and ordinances shone forth from above the horizon of the Will of God, as a token of His grace unto the peoples of the world. He, verily, is the Ever-Forgiving, the Most Generous...Indeed the laws of God are like unto the ocean and the children of men as fish, did they but know it. However, in observing them one must exercise tact and wisdom...Since most people are feeble and far-removed from the purpose of God, therefore one must observe tact and prudence under all conditions, so that nothing might happen that could cause disturbance and dissension or raise clamour among the heedless. Verily, His bounty hath surpassed the whole universe and His bestowals encompassed all that dwell on earth. One must guide mankind to the ocean of true understanding in a spirit of love and tolerance. The Kitáb-i-Aqdas itself beareth eloquent testimony to the loving providence of God.5
In the same year that the Kitáb-i-Aqdas was revealed Bahá'u'lláh allowed Jamál-i-Burújirdí,* who was then in 'Akká, to copy certain parts of it and share it with the friends in Persia. But again He emphasized wisdom and discretion in the application of its laws. It has already been explained in the previous volume that through their mercy and compassion the Manifestations of God do not announce all their new laws to their followers suddenly. Knowing man's strong attachment to old laws and customs, they introduce their new laws gradually over a period of time during which their followers become enlightened and ready to receive them.†

The study of the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá makes it clear that most of the laws of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, apart from those which are of a spiritual nature, or in conformity


* It is interesting to note that this proud and egotistical Jamál asked Bahá'u'lláh to make him exempt from obedience to the laws of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. Bahá'u'lláh granted him his wish and conveyed to him that he was free and did not have to obey any of the laws of that Book. For further information on this notorious person who eventually became a Covenant-breaker, see vol. 2.

† For further information on this subject see vol. 2, pp. 353-4.

5. Synopsis, pp. 3-5.
with the conditions prevailing at the time, are designed for the future when the Bahá'í Faith becomes the religion of the land. It is then that these laws will be fully implemented within the framework of a new civilization which is to emerge later from amidst the chaos and confusion of present-day society.

Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Faith, has described the laws of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas as the 'warp and woof' of Bahá'u'lláh's World Order. Without these laws, mankind will not be able to take part in the establishment of the promised Kingdom of God on earth. The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, however, is still growing in its embryonic form. In the fullness of time it will be born and will usher in an age the glories of which we in this day cannot fully visualize, an age in which the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh will guide and govern the life of man on this planet. Then and only then will the wisdom and significance of all the laws of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas become manifest, their relevance to the needs of the age become apparent and their application become a vital necessity.

Within the compass of three pages in God Passes By Shoghi Effendi has summarized the Kitáb-i-Aqdas in such a masterly fashion that if studied carefully, the reader will know all the basic subjects that are contained in this exalted Book. The following is part of his summary enumerating some of the fundamental laws of this Dispensation:

In this Book He, moreover, prescribes the obligatory prayers; designates the time and period of fasting; prohibits congregational prayer except for the dead; fixes the Qiblih; institutes the Huqúq'u'lláh (Right of God); formulates the law of inheritance; ordains the institution of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár; establishes the Nineteen Day Feasts, the Bahá'í festivals and the Intercalary Days; abolishes the institution of priesthood; prohibits slavery, asceticism, mendicancy, monasticism, penance, the use of pulpits and the kissing of hands; prescribes monogamy; condemns cruelty to animals, idleness and sloth, backbiting and calumny; censures divorce; interdicts gambling, the use of

opium, wine and other intoxicating drinks; specifies the punishments for murder, arson, adultery and theft; stresses the importance of marriage and lays down its essential conditions; imposes the obligation of engaging in some trade or profession, exalting such occupation to the rank of worship; emphasizes the necessity of providing the means for the education of children; and lays upon every person the duty of writing a testament and of strict obedience to one's government.6
There are some laws which Bahá'u'lláh has not formulated in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas or other Tablets. He has deliberately left gaps in the structure of His laws and these will have to be filled by the Universal House of Justice, the supreme legislative body of the Faith, authorized by Bahá'u'lláh to enact laws which are not explicitly revealed by Him. The laws enacted by this body can be altered at a later time by the same body when conditions in society will have radically changed and this provision guarantees that laws which are temporary in nature may keep pace with humanity's progress.

The laws that Bahá'u'lláh has formulated, however, are fundamental laws, fixed and unalterable during the entire period of His Dispensation. Only the next Manifestation of God can abrogate them. It should be noted that there are certain laws given by Bahá'u'lláh that are intended for a future condition of society, and these cannot be implemented without the necessary legislation by the Universal House of Justice for their application. Shoghi Effendi writes through his secretary:

What has not been formulated in the Aqdas, in addition to matters of detail and of secondary importance arising out of the application of the laws already formulated by Bahá'u'lláh, will have to be enacted by the Universal House of Justice. This body can supplement but never invalidate or modify in the least degree what has already been formulated by Bahá'u'lláh. Nor has the Guardian any right whatsoever to lessen the binding effect, much less to abrogate the provisions of so fundamental and sacred a Book.7

6. God Passes By, p. 214.

7. Quoted in Principles of Bahá'í Administration, p. 7.

The Kitáb-i-Aqdas has not been translated into any language so far by any Bahá'í authority. The reason for this is that a mere translation without making reference to other Tablets would be very misleading indeed. The Universal House of Justice has explained this point in these words:

The Kitáb-i-Aqdas itself is the kernel of a vast structure of Bahá'í law that will have to come into being in the years and centuries ahead as the unity of mankind is established and develops. Thus to properly understand the contents of that Book one should also read many other Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh relating to them, as well as the interpretations of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and the Guardian, and realize that great areas of detail have been left by Bahá'u'lláh for the Universal House of Justice to fill in and to vary in accordance with the needs of a developing society. In addition, a translation of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas made without proper comprehensive footnotes referring to those other Tablets which elucidate His laws as well as to the interpretations of the Master and the Guardian can give a very misleading impression--quite apart from the problem of achieving a beauty of style in the English which can approach that of the original.8
In another instance the Universal House of Justice writes:

The Guardian explained that an essential prelude to the publication of the Most Holy Book was the preparation of a synopsis and codification of its Laws and Ordinances. This would be followed in due time by a complete translation of the Book itself, made by a competent body of experts, and copiously annotated with detailed explanations. Such annotations will undoubtedly have to contain references to the many Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh which supplement the Aqdas, to the interpretations penned by 'Abdu'l-Bahá as well as those from the writings of Shoghi Effendi, and will need to elucidate certain passages of the Book or to amplify its religious, cultural and historical references.

It is clear that such a Book, rich in allusion and referring to laws and practices of previous Dispensations, could


8. Letter of 23 February 1976.
easily be misconstrued by anyone unfamiliar with such laws and practices, insufficiently versed in the Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh and not thoroughly informed of His fundamental purposes. In particular, inadequate translations could be seriously misleading. During His own lifetime Bahá'u'lláh commented upon a translation of the Aqdas made by one of the believers: 'Although the intention of the translator was good, such an action in these days will lead to differences and is therefore not permissible.' 9
It is some time now since the Universal House of Justice has accomplished the task of the codification of the laws, and has published the book entitled Synopsis and Codification of the Laws and Ordinances of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. This work entailed a great deal of research into the Writings. Those Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh which supplement the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, and the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi which deal with the interpretation of the laws, have been taken into account in the production of this important work. 'This synopsis and codification', the Universal House of Justice states,

offers a concise and comprehensive presentation of the laws, ordinances, exhortations and other subjects which appear in both the Kitáb-i-Aqdas itself and in the Questions and Answers which forms an appendix to that Book. Not all details are included, nor is it possible to give in such a circumscribed form an impression of the loftiness and magnificence of the language of Bahá'u'lláh. In order to provide readers with at least some intimation of this splendour of theme and language, there are included as a prelude to the Synopsis and Codification, and in the order in which they appear in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, those passages which have been translated into English by the Guardian of the Faith. It will be the formidable task of future translators to match the beauty and accuracy of Shoghi Effendi's rendition.10

9. Synopsis, p. 6.

10. ibid. p. ix.

[Synopsis and Codification of the Laws and Ordinances of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas] The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 141

[Questions and Answers] The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 103

Obedience to the Laws of God

Observance of the laws of a religion is of the utmost importance; it is an obligation binding on its followers. The enforcement of some of the laws of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas began in the ministry of Shoghi Effendi. Knowing that the believers in the cradle of the Faith had been brought up within a society where the significance of religious laws and their implications were understood, he directed the Spiritual Assemblies in that part of the world to begin the enforcement of some of the laws of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas within the Bahá'í community. In the course of His ministry, he elaborated on the application of these laws, elucidated many intricacies and details connected with them, urged the Spiritual Assemblies never to compromise when enforcing the laws and counselled them to uphold the standards of justice and impartiality in all cases. Thus he built up in this particular field a great reservoir of knowledge and experience which will be of great value in the future.

Present-day society in the Western world is not, however, oriented to obedience to religious laws. Not only has it been steadily moving for a long time now towards humanism and materialism, but also the Christian tradition has left the people without a full appreciation of the significance and importance of religious laws within the community. As we have already stated, this is probably because Christ, whose message was primarily directed to the individual, did not give many laws in His Dispensation.

The introduction of the laws of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas within such a society and at a time when the Faith is still in its infancy has been slow and gradual. Indeed, from the beginning of the Formative Age of the Faith up to the present time, only a few of the laws of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas have been introduced to the Western world. No doubt in the future as the Cause grows and conditions within human society become more favourable, other laws will be introduced.


Concerning the laws of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Shoghi Effendi has written these words through his secretary:

He feels it his duty to explain that the Laws revealed by Bahá'u'lláh in the Aqdas are, whenever practicable and not in direct conflict with the Civil Laws of the land, absolutely binding on every believer or Bahá'í institution whether in the East or in the West. Certain laws, such as fasting, obligatory prayers, the consent of parents before marriage, avoidance of alcoholic drinks, monogamy, should be regarded by all believers as universally and vitally applicable at the present time. Others have been formulated in anticipation of a state of society, destined to emerge from the chaotic conditions that prevail today.11
The followers of Bahá'u'lláh all over the world strive to develop the characteristics of Bahá'í life in their individual lives and their communities, by trying to put into practice the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh and observing those laws and ordinances which are at present binding on them. A true believer carries out the commandments of Bahá'u'lláh wholeheartedly, for the cornerstone of faith is obedience to the commandments of God as revealed by Bahá'u'lláh in this age.

In order to appreciate this important point, let us study nature. As we have already stated,* God's creation is one entity. The spiritual and physical worlds are closely related to each other; they are not two different creations. In one of His Tablets,12 Bahá'u'lláh states that every created thing in this physical world has counterparts in all the worlds of God. It follows that the laws and principles which govern this physical life are equally operative in the spiritual worlds of God. But they are applied on a higher level possessing certain new features which are not to be found in the lower kingdom. The same basic laws and principles which operate in nature are also to be found in the world of man and in religion. But again they are applied on a higher level.


* see vol. 1, pp. 1-3.

11. Quoted in Principles of Bahá'í Administration, pp. 6-7.

12. Má'idiy-i-Ásamání, vol. 7, p. 119.

To cite one example: some of the laws which govern the life of a tree are similar to those in the life of man. A tree thrusts its roots into the soil from which it receives its nourishment and upon which it depends for its existence. But the tree itself, its trunk, branches and leaves grow in the opposite direction. As if it dislikes the soil, the tree moves away from it. This is similar to the state of detachment from material things in the world of man when the soul aspires to spiritual things and away from earthly desires. By moving in the opposite direction the tree receives the rays of the sun and as a result it will blossom and bear fruit. Of course, the growth of a tree is involuntary; it is dictated by nature. But supposing the tree had a choice; what a difference it would have made if, feeling an attachment for the soil, it had inclined its branches and leaves towards the earth and buried itself in the ground! Then it would have rotted away and been deprived of the life-giving rays of the sun.

The same principle is true of man, for he has to live in this material world and is entirely dependent upon this earth for his existence. His soul, however, ought to become detached from the material world and turn instead towards spiritual things. But unlike the plant, which has no control over its growth and development, man has been given the power to determine his own destiny. He has been given free will and can choose the direction in which he wants to move. If he focuses his attention only on material things and becomes attached to this world and its vanities, pomp and glory, his soul will remain in relative darkness. But if like a tree, he does not direct all his affection towards material things, and reaches a state of detachment from this world* and allows his soul to aspire towards heavenly qualities, he could then receive the rays of the Sun of Truth--the Manifestation of God. Then and only then can his soul produce a fruit and give birth to the spirit of faith† which


* Much has been said in these volumes on detachment from the Bahá'í point of view, which is completely opposite to the ideas of renunciation of the world, mendicancy or asceticism [1, 2, 3, 4].

† see vol. 1, pp. 73-4.

is the ultimate purpose of its creation.

The above example was given merely to demonstrate how the worlds of God, both physical and spiritual, are related by the same laws. It is therefore possible that by studying the laws and principles of the physical world, we may be able to discern a spiritual principle, provided we bear in mind the words and sayings of the Manifestations of God and let their explanations guide us to discover clear parallels between the spiritual and material principles.

The Covenant of God with Man

To understand the importance of obedience to the laws of God, which is a spiritual principle, let us first examine the relationship of God--the Source of life--to His creatures in this physical world, and then from a spiritual point of view we may come to a conclusion. We note that all living things in this world are subject to the laws of nature. The Creator has so arranged life on this planet that the sun pours its energies upon all created things, the earth supplies the food, and the elements make their contribution. And so, God gives life. This is the part He plays.

Living creatures, on the other hand, have to play their part if they are to live. They have to receive the outpourings of energy, but strictly in accordance with the laws that nature has imposed on them. For instance, the fish lives in water, while a bird soars in the air. Both live in accordance with the laws which nature dictates to them. For on this physical level, the reaction of all created things to God's outpourings of energy is involuntary. Each creature is bound by the laws of nature and cannot deviate a hair's breadth from them. But the essential point is that the creatures' response is in harmony with the vivifying forces of life which are released by nature.

It is the same spiritually. The response of man to God's Revelation ought to be that of harmony with His Teachings. But man, although physically an animal, is not spiritually


subject to the laws of nature. Instead he is bound by the laws of the Covenant of God with Him. As in every covenant, and as in nature, there are two parties involved here. In the same way that God provides the life-giving energies for the physical world, and the creatures respond to these, the same Creator releases spiritual forces for the development and progress of the soul of man, and the individual must play his part. But unlike the physical world, the response of man to God's bounties is voluntary. Man has free will, whereas other created things are devoid of this faculty.

The mere act of creation brings into being the Covenant of God with man which has two sides. God on his part creates man in His own image which is the act of bestowing upon him His attributes. He provides him with his physical needs in this life and sends His Messengers to throw light upon his path so that he may draw near to Him.

The part that man has to play in this Covenant is to be conscious of these bounties, to recognize His Manifestation and to abide by His teachings and laws. The most natural course, which can alone bring about harmony between the two sides of the Covenant, is for man to obey the precepts laid down by God. To rebel against them is to live in conflict with the laws of creation and to cut oneself away from the good. To believe in God but to think that this Covenant does not exist and that the Creator has not laid down any laws in the spiritual domains of His creation is tantamount to attributing incompetence to Him.

The Covenant of God with man is similar to the terms which a school headmaster lays down for the pupils. The moment a child walks into a school for the first time, he, without knowing it, enters into a covenant with the headmaster. Again, this covenant has two sides. The headmaster provides the child with all his educational needs. He appoints teachers to teach him and draws up the programme. The part that the child has to play is to learn every lesson he is taught and follow every instruction he is given. Only in this way can he acquire


knowledge and become mature with wisdom and understanding. When the child is ready to receive a higher level of education, the headmaster delegates a new teacher to teach him more.

The terms of this covenant are drawn up by the headmaster alone, and the child has no say in it. Its author is strong, knowledgeable and wise, but the child, the other party to the covenant, is weak, unlettered and immature. Most arrangements made by the strong for the weak are against the interests of, and are designed to exploit, the latter. But not so in this case, because the motive of the headmaster in drawing up such a contract between himself and the child is pure. His intention is to educate the child and endow him with good qualities and perfections. If the pupil plays his part well and follows the instructions of his master, this covenant becomes the greatest blessing in his life.

Exactly the same is true of God and His Covenant with man. God sends His Messengers to teach humanity from age to age and each one brings a new message suited to the requirements of the time. Similar to the above analogy, this Covenant is also established unilaterally by One Who is the Almighty, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. It also confers the greatest blessing upon man, for its purpose is to enable him to become a spiritual being and acquire eternal life. To achieve this lofty position, man has to live in accordance with the teachings of the Manifestation of God and obey His commandments.

As the moral and spiritual values in life decline today, a great many people all over the world look upon the word 'obedience' with suspicion and fear. They regard this word to be synonymous with dictatorship, blind acceptance, religious fanaticism and all sorts of fettered beliefs. The majority of those who hold this view are among the honest, open-minded and enlightened peoples of the world. Some may belong to religious groups with a liberal outlook, others may be intellectuals, agnostics or atheists. They are fully aware of the


dangers which blind obedience may cause within human society and are weary of any so-called authority, whether religious or secular, which demands obedience to its commands.

Such fears are fully justified and those who campaign against the setting up of such an authority and abhor its reign, are worthy of praise and admiration. For, as we survey the religious field, we come across many a 'false prophet' who, for lust of leadership, appears in the guise of a religious leader, posing as a man of holiness, and for his own personal benefit rules over his followers' minds. There are also millions of people, followers of the worlds' major religions, many of whom are fettered in the cage of outdated religious doctrines and antiquated dogmas. During this century, more and more of these people are becoming awakened to their tragedy, breaking the shackles which had been placed on their minds and freeing themselves from this bondage. They either remain lukewarm, disillusioned followers, or join the rank of agnostics and atheists. The voice of religious leadership, which in older days inspired multitudes, is now heard by these people with various degrees of indifference or hostility. The reason for this change is that God has manifested Himself through Bahá'u'lláh and religious leaders have not recognized Him and in His words they have become as 'fallen stars'. We have already stated† that every religion has a certain period of validity during which its teachings are operative. That period comes to an end with the birth of a new religion.

As major world religions progressively lose their vitality and effectiveness, religious leaders are losing their grip on the minds of people. Their dictates and edicts, which in older days inspired obedience from their followers, have now become counter-productive. A great many people now rebel against the idea of obedience and they are quite justified in doing so. However, when we study the way of life in human society, we


* see vol. 2, pp. 270-72.

† see vol. 1, pp. 64-6.

note that man wholeheartedly obeys any person or institution that speaks with the voice of truth and has authority to do so. The same person who shuns the word 'obedience' blindly obeys instructions issued from certain authorities in his daily life. For example, a man not knowing the way to a city follows blindly the road signs and never questions their authenticity. The reason for this blind obedience is that he accepts the authority of the body which has placed the signposts. The same is true of a patient who unquestionably obeys his doctor's prescription even to the extent of letting him amputate a limb. Again, this is because he has faith in the physician and accepts his advice without any hesitation.

Obedience is a natural step for man to take provided he finds the truth. Bahá'u'lláh makes this point very clear when He states in the opening paragraph of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas:

The first duty prescribed by God for His servants is the recognition of Him Who is the Dayspring of His Revelation and the Fountain of His laws, Who representeth the Godhead in both the Kingdom of His Cause and the world of creation. Whoso achieveth this duty hath attained unto all good; and whoso is deprived thereof, hath gone astray, though he be the author of every righteous deed. It behoveth every one who reacheth this most sublime station, this summit of transcendent glory, to observe every ordinance of Him Who is the Desire of the world. These twin duties are inseparable. Neither is acceptable without the other. Thus hath it been decreed by Him Who is the Source of Divine Inspiration.13
This is the part that the individual has to play in the Covenant of God with man, namely to recognize Him as the Source of all good and then follow His commandments. In the light of this, we see that Bahá'u'lláh has attached paramount importance to one of the basic principles of His Faith--the unfettered search after truth by the individual. Every person who becomes a Bahá'í must investigate the truth until he

13. Synopsis, p. 11.

["The first duty..."] The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶1
becomes assured in his heart that Bahá'u'lláh is the Manifestation of God for this age. When the individual reaches this stage, he will then want to follow His commandments. And as he deepens his knowledge of the Faith and turns to Bahá'u'lláh to draw from His power, his heart will become the recipient of the knowledge which God can bestow upon a believer. It is then that he can realize the wisdom behind all the laws and teachings which are binding on him. It is then that obedience to the commandments of Bahá'u'lláh becomes coupled with a deep understanding of their purpose, their wisdom, their excellence and their need. It is then that carrying out the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh becomes a source of joy for the individual, and he will find that his thoughts, his aspirations, his words and his deeds are in harmony with the provisions of the Covenant of God with man. It is for such a person that Bahá'u'lláh has revealed the following in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas:

O ye peoples of the world! Know assuredly that My commandments are the lamps of My loving providence among My servants, and the keys of My mercy for My creatures. Thus hath it been sent down from the heaven of the Will of your Lord, the Lord of Revelation. Were any man to taste the sweetness of the words which the lips of the All-Merciful have willed to utter, he would, though the treasures of the earth be in his possession, renounce them one and all, that he might vindicate the truth of even one of His commandments, shining above the Dayspring of His bountiful care and loving-kindness.14
Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl,* the great Bahá'í scholar, states that the laws of God in the Holy Books of past religions and those of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas may be divided into three categories. The first category is devotional laws and ordinances which concern man's worship of God. The ordinances of obligatory prayer, fasting and similar devotional acts are among this group of laws.


* see pp. 104ff. and Appendix II.

14. Synopsis, pp. 11-12.

["O ye peoples of the world..."] The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶3
The second category is laws which benefit the individual only, such as cleanliness and other acts which are aimed at elevating the personal and spiritual condition of the individual.

The third category is the laws which concern society and these constitute the bulk of the laws of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. These laws, together with the principles ordained by Bahá'u'lláh in His Writings, constitute the two pillars which sustain the institutions of His future World Order. Shoghi Effendi, speaking about the laws and distinguishing them from the principles of the Faith, states that both together constitute 'the warp and woof of the institutions upon which the structure of His World Order must ultimately rest'.15

In the light of this we can appreciate the preponderating role which the laws of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas will play in the future world civilization of which that Book is a charter. Concerning His laws and ordinances, Bahá'u'lláh states in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas:

They whom God hath endued with insight will readily recognize that the precepts laid down by God constitute the highest means for the maintenance of order in the world and the security of its peoples. He that turneth away from them, is accounted among the abject and foolish.16
Reward and Punishment

In the Lawh-i-Maqsúd Bahá'u'lláh further declares:

The structure of world stability and order hath been reared upon, and will continue to be sustained by, the twin pillars of reward and punishment.17
The application of the laws of Bahá'u'lláh will involve both reward and punishment. He has also conferred upon the Universal House of Justice the right to legislate on the application of His laws, or to specify punishments for the breaking of other laws which He Himself has not formulated.


15. 'The Unfoldment of World Civilization', The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 199.

16. Synopsis, p. 11.

17. Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 164.

["They whom God..."] The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶2
Law and order are the basis of peace and security in every civilized society and the breaking of these laws must incur some punishment. The same is true of the laws of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. The guarantor for the establishment in the future of a world community in which the oneness of mankind--Bahá'u'lláh's main spiritual principle--is fully realized is justice. The bonds which unite individuals are love, compassion and forbearance, but what binds nations together into a spiritually united world is justice. Bahá'u'lláh has proclaimed this fact in many of His Writings: 'The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice' 18 is a simple expression by Bahá'u'lláh of this important principle. To uphold the standard of justice, He makes this important statement:

Justice hath a mighty force at its command. It is none other than reward and punishment for the deeds of men. By the power of this force the tabernacle of order is established throughout the world...19
In present-day society, punishment is generally meted out to offenders of the law, but the tendency in many parts of the world is to show compassion and reduce sentences as much as possible. This tendency is growing in direct proportion to humanitarianism. Wrongly, it has almost become a common view today that the individual should not be fully blamed for his criminal actions and that most of the blame ought to be directed towards society. It is claimed that the criminal is merely a victim of circumstances over which he has had little control. And so mercy and pardon instead of justice and punishment are the hallmark of modern civilization. Leniency and compassion in the courts of law, supported by modern theories aimed at forgiveness and clemency have increased the reign of violence in the world to alarming proportions.

The teachings of Bahá'u'lláh advocate the opposite attitude to this. Since the laws of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas are the laws of God for this age, they must be obeyed without compromise. In this


18. The Hidden Words, Arabic no. 2.

19. Lawh-i-Maqsúd, in Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 164.

Book, Bahá'u'lláh categorically states that those who apply the law should not show mercy to a criminal, nor become compassionate when punishing him, for if they do, they will undermine the foundations of justice. Many enlightened people today disagree with what Bahá'u'lláh advocates. They look for mild punishments and plenty of compassion and some advocate education rather than punishment. This is mainly because most people are only concerned with life on this planet and seldom think about life after death, and there are many who do not believe in the latter. The aim of these people is to gain as much, and to lose as little, as they can for as long as they live.

Generally, therefore, there is not much concern about the consequences which the actions of a man will have on the progress of his soul in the next life. Whereas it is a cornerstone of Bahá'í belief that this world is only a transitory stage in the life of man, preparing him for an eternal life. It is like a womb-world in which he has to acquire the spiritual qualities that are essential requirements for his existence in the spiritual worlds of God.* So there is a vast difference between a Bahá'í outlook on life and that of humanists. The former strives to use the opportunitites of this life to reap a rich harvest in the next, while the latter exerts all efforts to prosper while on this earth. It is these contrasting views that constitute the basis for Bahá'u'lláh's emphasis on punishment and the humanist view on leniency and compassion.

From a careful study of the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh one may reach the surprising conclusion that just punishments in general, and those ordained in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas in particular, are a mercy of God to man, and a token of His loving-kindness to him. Bahá'u'lláh in one of His Tablets20 reveals some of the mysteries of this life and the next, describes how everything in this mortal world has counterparts in the spiritual worlds, and explains that the individual's deeds in this life will affect his


* For further information on the soul and its progress in the next world see vol. 1, pp. 72-3.

20. Má'idiy-i-Ásamání, vol. 7, pp. 119-25.
existence in the next. To illustrate the benefits which will accrue to the soul, if he is punished in this world for his misdeeds, He uses the example of a man who steals a seed of a tree from someone in the spring season. If he returns it to its owner in that same season, he has cleared his debt and does not owe him anything else. But if he fails to give it back in the spring, what does he owe him in the summer? He owes him a tree and its fruits, because to give back the seed in the summer is useless. This analogy explains that if the individual pays for his misdeeds in this life by receiving the punishment which is ordained in the Holy Writings, his burden of sin will be far lighter in the next life. Otherwise, who knows how heavily his soul will have to pay if he somehow avoids punishment in this world.

In the same Tablet Bahá'u'lláh states that pure and holy deeds will be manifested in the spiritual worlds of God and transformed into such exalted and glorious forms that if He were to disclose them, every author of such deeds would discard his human temple and joyously hasten to the realms beyond.

Anyone who has recognized Bahá'u'lláh as the vicegerent of God on earth and has deepened his understanding of the verities of His Cause, will readily acknowledge that the observance of the laws of Bahá'u'lláh is the cause of the salvation of the soul. In the Kitáb-i-Aqdas Bahá'u'lláh testifies:

Think not that We have revealed unto you a mere code of laws. Nay, rather, We have unsealed the choice Wine with the fingers of might and power. To this beareth witness that which the Pen of Revelation hath revealed. Meditate upon this, O men of insight! 21
And again in that same Book He states:

Consider the mercy of God and His gifts. He enjoineth upon you that which shall profit you, though He Himself

21. Synopsis, p. 12.

["Think not..."] The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶5

["Consider the mercy of God..."] The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶59

can well dispense with all creatures. Your evil doings can never harm Us, neither can your good works profit Us. We summon you wholly for the sake of God. To this every man of understanding and insight will testify.22
Bahá'u'lláh's View of Liberty

Another topic in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas which could be misunderstood by some people is that of freedom and liberty. These are the words of Bahá'u'lláh in that Book:

Consider the pettiness of men's minds. They ask for that which injureth them, and cast away the thing that profiteth them. They are, indeed, of those that are far astray. We find some men desiring liberty, and priding themselves therein. Such men are in the depths of ignorance.

Liberty must, in the end, lead to sedition, whose flames none can quench. Thus warneth you He Who is the Reckoner, the All-Knowing. Know ye that the embodiment of liberty and its symbol is the animal. That which beseemeth man is submission unto such restraints as will protect him from his own ignorance and guard him against the harm of the mischief-maker. Liberty causeth man to overstep the bounds of propriety, and to infringe on the dignity of his station. It debaseth him to the level of extreme depravity and wickedness.

Regard men as a flock of sheep that need a shepherd for their protection. This, verily, is the truth, the certain truth. We approve of liberty in certain circumstances, and refuse to sanction it in others. We, verily, are the All-Knowing.

Say: True liberty consisteth in man's submission unto My commandments, little as ye know it. Were men to observe that which We have sent down unto them from the Heaven of Revelation, they would, of a certainty, attain unto perfect liberty. Happy is the man that hath apprehended the Purpose of God in whatever He hath revealed from the Heaven of His Will, that pervadeth all created things. Say: The liberty that profiteth you is to be found nowhere except in complete servitude unto God, the Eternal Truth. Whoso


22. Synopsis, p. 17.

["Consider the pettiness..."] The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶122

["Liberty must..."] The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶123

["Regard men..."] The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶124

["Say: True liberty..."] The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶125

hath tasted of its sweetness will refuse to barter it for all the dominion of earth and heaven.23
Bahá'u'lláh condemns the idea of absolute liberty for man. Indeed, there is no progressive society or nation in the world in which absolute freedom is allowed. There is the rule of law in every civilized country and people in the exercising of their right to freedom cannot overstep the bounds of constitutional law. There would be anarchy if they were left free to do what they liked. In the words of Bahá'u'lláh, it would 'lead to sedition, whose flame none can quench'. All the freedom-loving nations of the world enjoy their freedom within the limits of the law and other conventions which have come about through tradition and have become accepted as a way of life. It is these laws and traditions, including religion and culture, which give each nation a certain characteristic, and produce an atmosphere in which people live and exercise their lawful rights freely.

Bahá'u'lláh advocates the same, except that man must adopt the teachings of the Manifestation of God for this age to guide and direct him in his life. He will then find ample scope to live in liberty within the framework of His laws and teachings. It is possible that some people who have not accepted the Message of Bahá'u'lláh could argue that although humanity needs to be guided by some laws and principles, nevertheless, the mere act of adopting Bahá'u'lláh's teachings as guide-lines for society would be an infringement on liberty. This view would be correct if Bahá'u'lláh were not the Manifestation of God for this age. But if He is, then His laws and teachings must, and will in the end, be enforced by humanity, and will guide the peoples of the world to exercise their freedom within the framework of the World Order He has come to establish. The essential point, therefore, is to investigate the truth of the claims of Bahá'u'lláh. Once the individual is assured of the authenticity of His Message, he will joyously allow the teachings and commandments of Bahá'u'lláh to govern his life.


23. Synopsis, pp. 24-5.
It is then that guided by the principles of the Faith he will be able to develop with absolute freedom all that is potential within him and attain to true liberty.

The Infallibility of the Manifestation

In the Kitáb-i-Aqdas Bahá'u'lláh declares the doctrine of the Most Great Infallibility of the Manifestations of God, and states that no one else can ever possess it. We have touched upon this subject in the previous volume.* This infallibility is an inherent characteristic of the Manifestations of God, in the same way that light and heat are inherent to the sun. He derives His powers from God and is the knower of all things. His knowledge extends over past, present and future. As we have stated previously,† the reason that His all-encompassing power is hidden behind the veil of His human temple is that if His glory were to be openly revealed to the eyes of men in general, all human beings would instantly recognize Him. And by so doing they would lose their free will and become puppets of God.

However, Bahá'u'lláh always revealed a measure of His hidden glory and omnipotence to those of His loved ones who had recognized His exalted station and were in need of further confirmation of their faith. There are many stories left to posterity by the early believers who had the great privilege of attaining the presence of Bahá'u'lláh, relating how they witnessed the signs of His all-encompassing knowledge which was disclosed to their eyes in accordance with their capacity. The incidents which took place in each case came to them as thunderbolts and dazzled them by the evidences of His glory. Each time He disclosed a measure of His Divine power, the believer concerned reached the highest peaks of assurance and acquired absolute certitude in his faith. When this stage was reached the individual was no longer an ordinary human


* see vol. 2, pp. 261-2.

† see p. 2.

being. He had been transformed into a spiritual giant, a mountain of steadfastness, a new creation possessed of all the powers of this universe, a heroic soul who in spite of the fierce onslaught of the enemy threw himself into the arena of service to the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh and, considering this earthly life as a worthless existence, longed to lay down his life in the path of His Beloved.

Many believers who attained the presence of Bahá'u'lláh have witnessed the signs of His all-encompassing knowledge and left for posterity some of their experiences. To cite some examples we quote the following:

Hájí Muhammad-Táhir-i-Málmírí, who attained the presence of Bahá'u'lláh in 'Akká writes in his memoirs:

Whenever I came into the presence of the Blessed Beauty, if there were anything I wanted to ask, I would say it by the way of the heart, and He would invariably answer me. This is because, in His presence, the tongue was powerless to utter one word. I always sat in His presence spellbound, oblivious of my own self. One of the questions I wanted to ask concerned the station of the Holy Imáms.* I wanted to know whether they were equal or, as I thought, some of them were exalted above others. For about six months I wanted to ask this question, but every time I attained His presence I forgot to think of it in my heart. One day, as I was going to the Mansion to attain His presence, I kept on continuously reminding myself about this question so that I might remember to communicate it through the heart to Bahá'u'lláh. Even as I was climbing the steps of the Mansion I was thinking of it. Suddenly I heard the voice of Bahá'u'lláh greeting me saying 'Marhabá' (Welcome). I looked up and saw Him standing at the top of the stairs. I forgot everything! He went to His room, invited me in, and told me to be seated. I sat by the door. He then paced up and

* 'Alí, the son-in-law of Muhammad, was according to Bahá'í belief the legitimate successor of Muhammad, and the first Imám. Ten of his descendants succeeded him and are known as the holy Imáms. The Qá'im is believed by Shí'ah Islám to be the return of the twelfth Imám.

down and revealed a Tablet* in my name. The Tablet was in Persian and halfway through it he said, 'The Imáms all came from God, spoke of God and all returned to Him.'† This answered my question and I realized that their station was equal.24
In another instance, Hájí Muhammad-Táhir writes:

In my heart I often begged the Blessed Beauty to enable me to lay down my life as a martyr in His path. Every time that I turned to Him in my heart with this plea, he would smile at me and reveal to me the signs of His pleasure and bounties...until one day when these thoughts entered my mind, he turned to me and said, 'You must live to serve the Cause...' 25
Another believer who attained the presence of Bahá'u'lláh in 'Akká was Áqá Ridáy-i-Sa'ádatí, a native of Yazd. In his youth Áqá Rida was a devout Muslim. He had a passionate love for God and His Prophet Muhammad. But he was not satisfied with the form of religion. His greatest ambition was to meet Imám Husayn, one of the illustrious successors of the Prophet, face to face. Driven by a mysterious force, Áqá Rida went almost out of his mind for some time and his parents were at a loss to discover the cause. Until one day he came in contact with a follower of Bahá'u'lláh who told him that God had manifested Himself, that Bahá'u'lláh was the return of the Imám Husayn‡ and that he could go and attain His presence in 'Akká. Through the help of some of the believers and the reading of the Kitáb-i-Íqán, Áqá Ridá recognized the truth of the Cause. But he could not disclose his Faith to his parents. In his memoirs he writes:

They (the Bahá'ís) introduced me to a well known Bahá'í,

* This Tablet was not recorded and therefore no copy exists.

† These are not the exact words of Bahá'u'lláh.

‡ Shí'ah Islám expects the appearance of the Qá'im followed by the return of Imám Husayn. Bahá'u'lláh's name was Husayn-'Alí.

24. Unpublished memoirs.

25. ibid.

Ustád Kázim, a builder of wide repute. He used to read the Kitáb-i-Íqán for me...Through the study of this book, I acquired certitude and assurance and became filled with joy and excitement. Sometimes I used to leave the house with the excuse of going to bring water*...I would carry the pitcher with me but instead of going directly to the public cistern which was about four kilometres away , I used to run all the way to the house of Ustád Kázim, read some passages from the Kitáb-i-Íqán and then go to fetch water home.26
Áqá Ridá eventually left Yazd for 'Ishqábád and from there he received permission to go on pilgrimage to 'Akká where he attained the presence of Bahá'u'lláh. He writes in his memoirs:

Every time I attained His presence, I would find the portals of His grace and revelation open before my eyes. Each of them was a mighty proof and a precious gift. All those supernatural acts that I witnessed in His blessed presence and the immense joy which flooded my soul as I sat before Him are indescribable and cannot be recorded here...In the gatherings of the friends, if the Blessed Beauty turned his face to a person, that individual was unable to gaze upon His countenance and see the effulgent rays of the Sun of Truth. It was therefore Bahá'u'lláh's practice to look to the right side as He spoke, so that the friends might find it easier to look at His face. And if He ever turned His face towards the friends, He would close His eyes and speak...

Once I entered into the presence of Bahá'u'lláh at a time that He was reciting the verses of the Tablet of Visitation of Imám Husayn.† At times, He would interrupt and utter some words, or receive the friends as they arrived. Eventually the number reached about forty-five. At this time I began to think of the friends in 'Ishqábád...I decided to remember them in His presence and dedicate my pilgrimage to them. I thought of Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl and five others...


* In Yazd people used to carry drinking water from a public cistern to their homes. Each district in the city had a public cistern.

† Bahá'u'lláh revealed a Tablet of Visitation for Imám Husayn which is very moving.

26. Unpublished memoirs.
As soon as I remembered them, He promptly turned His face towards me and smiled. He then mentioned the names of Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl and the other five and said to me: Your remembrance of these people and your pilgrimage on their behalf is accepted by us, accepted by us. He repeated it twice. And so He revealed everything that was in my heart.

I was staggered by this revelation. My sight became blurred and I was close to collapsing. As soon as He saw me in this state, he ordered His servant to bring in some sweetmeats. He brought a plateful and placed it in front of Bahá'u'lláh who handed one sweet to each person. But to me He gave two. After this we were all dismissed from His presence. But I was so overwhelmed by this experience that when I left I was not in control of my faculties and halfway down the steps I collapsed...27

Another story recounted by Siyyid Mihdy-i-Gulpáygání, an outstanding believer and a nephew of Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl, reveals the same truth that Bahá'u'lláh, the Supreme Manifestation of God, was the knower of all things visible and invisible. He used to tell this story to the believers in 'Ishqábád:

An influential person became a Bahá'í in Isfahán but he did not live a good life. He went to 'Akká and attained the presence of Bahá'u'lláh and this is his story: 'On the first day of my attaining the presence of the Blessed Beauty, I was among a number of pilgrims who were standing in His presence. He was pacing up and down speaking words of exhortation and encouragement. I was in a state of enchantment as I watched the majesty of His bearing. I said to myself: I know that the Blessed Perfection is the Supreme Manifestation of God and the Promise of all ages. But in some of His writings He describes Himself as the One who has sent all the Messengers of God and the revealer of all heavenly books. I did not understand this. As soon as this thought flashed through my mind, the Blessed Perfection

* Mírzá Áqá Ján, Bahá'u'lláh's amanuensis, acted as His servant. Bahá'u'lláh usually called him 'Abd-i-Hádir (Servant in Waiting).

27. Unpublished memoirs.
came toward me, placed His hand on my shoulder, and in a majestic tone said "Yes, We are the One who has sent the Messengers and revealed all the heavenly Books."* I was awestruck.' 28
In previous volumes, a great deal has been said concerning the exalted station of Bahá'u'lláh.† There are many passages in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas on this theme. He states that the word Prophet‡ or Messenger should not be used to describe His station. He is the Supreme Manifestation of God who has fulfilled the prophecies of the past and ushered in the Day of God. These are the words of Bahá'u'lláh in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas:

This is the Day in which He Who held converse with God hath attained the light of the Ancient of Days, and quaffed the pure waters of reunion from this Cup that hath caused the seas to swell. Say: By the one true God! Sinai is circling round the Dayspring of Revelation, while from the heights of the Kingdom the Voice of the Spirit of God is heard proclaiming: 'Bestir yourselves, ye proud ones of the earth, and haste ye unto Him.' Carmel hath, in this Day, hastened in longing adoration to attain His court, whilst from the heart of Zion there cometh the cry: 'The promise is fulfilled. That which had been announced in the holy Writ of God, the most Exalted, the Almighty, the Best-Beloved, is made manifest.' 29
'He who held converse with God' and the 'Spirit of God' in the above passage signify Moses and Christ respectively.

There are several passages from the Writings of the Báb which are quoted by Bahá'u'lláh in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas as a testimony to the exalted nature of His own Revelation. He points out that


* These are not to be taken as the exact words of Bahá'u'lláh.

† see vol. 1, pp. 303-14; vol. 2, pp. 77-86, 185, 213.

‡ An important mission of the Manifestations of God in the past was to give prophecies of the coming of the Day of God. The last one to do so was the Prophet Muhammad, known as the 'Seal of the Prophets'. See also vol. 1, p. 66.

28. Mr. 'Alí-Akbar Furútan, Hand of the Cause of God, heard this story from Siyyid Mihdí several times and recorded it in one of his reminiscences.

29. Synopsis, p. 18.

["This is the Day..."] The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶80

some of these passages clearly demonstrate that the Cause of 'Him Whom God shall make manifest'* will become established in the world before that of the Báb Himself. Bahá'u'lláh in this Book also clarifies one of the utterances of the Báb which had caused misunderstanding among the people of the Bayán, those followers of the Báb who had rejected Bahá'u'lláh.

In a Tablet30 addressed to 'Him Whom God shall make manifest', the Báb states: 'May the glances of Him Whom God shall make manifest illumine this letter at the primary school.'

Some of the Bábís argued that since this Tablet would have to be handed to 'Him Whom God shall make manifest' at the primary school, it followed that He would be a child when He received it. They therefore contended that since Bahá'u'lláh was even older than the Báb, He could not possibly fulfil the promises of the Báb. 'Abdu'l-Bahá in one of His Tablets31 states that the school referred to is not a physical school. The school of 'Him Whom God shall make manifest' is not the school of the unlettered children. It is a spiritual school which is far beyond the reach of men and it is sanctified from the limitations of this contingent world. Bahá'u'lláh states that He had seen this Epistle, this gift of the Báb, in the School of God which is exalted above the comprehension of men.

Concerning the Tablet of the Báb and the school, Bahá'u'lláh reveals the following in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas:

O Thou Supreme Pen! Move over the Tablet by the leave of Thy Lord, the Creator of the heavens. Call Thou then to mind the day when the Fountainhead of divine unity sought to attend the school which is sanctified of all save God, that perchance the righteous might become acquainted, to the extent of a needle's eye, with that which is concealed behind the veil of the inner mysteries of Thy Lord, the Almighty, the All-Knowing.

Say, We, in truth, entered the school of inner meaning and exposition at a time when the minds of all that dwell on earth were wrapt in heedlessness. We beheld what the


* Bahá'u'lláh. See vol. 1, ch. 18.

30. The Báb, Selections, pp. 6-8.

31. Má'idiy-i-Ásamání, vol. 2, p. 79.

["O Pen of the Most High! Move..."] The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶175

Merciful Lord had revealed, accepted the gift He [the Báb] had offered Me of the verses of God, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting, and hearkened to that to which He had attested in the Tablet. We, verily, are the Witness. We responded to His call at Our Own behest, and We are, in truth, the Ordainer.

O people of the Bayán! We entered the School of God when ye were slumbering on your couches, and perused the Tablet when ye were fast asleep. By the righteousness of God, the True One, We had read it before it was revealed, and ye were utterly unaware. Indeed Our knowledge had encompassed the Book when ye were yet unborn.

These utterances are revealed according to your measure, not to God's, and unto this beareth witness that which is enshrined in the knowledge of God, did ye but know. Unto this testifieth He Who is the Mouthpiece of God, could ye but understand. By the righteousness of God! Were We to lift the veil ye would swoon away. Take heed lest ye dispute with Him and His Cause. He hath indeed appeared in such wise as to encompass all things, whether of the past or of the future. Were We to speak forth at this time in the language of the dwellers of the Kingdom, We would say that God raised up this School ere the earth and the heavens were brought into being, and We entered it before the letters 'B' and 'E' were joined and knit together.*32

It is interesting to note, however, that when Bahá'u'lláh was resident in 'Iráq, He visited a school and while He was there, 'Abdu'l-Bahá came in and handed Him this Epistle of the Báb. 'Abdu'l-Bahá explains that this was not done by design but happened purely by accident.


* For the significance of the letters B' and 'E' see vol. 1, p. 30. (A.T.)

32. Quoted in Selections from the Writings of the Báb, pp. 6-7.

["...Say: We, indeed, set foot within the School..."] The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶175

["O people of the Bayán..."] The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶176

["...These words are to your measure..."] The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶176, ¶177