1 O friends! How blessed, how favoured, how fortunate are ye to have been born in such a cycle and dispensation and to live in such an age and century, to have come upon such a wellspring and bowed down before such a threshold, to have taken shelter beneath the shade of such a tree and partaken of such a fruit. The cycle is the Cycle of the Ancient Beauty, and the century that of the Greatest Name. The wellspring is the stream of the Law of God, and the threshold that of the Abhá Beauty. The tree is the Tree of Life, and the fruit that of the Divine Lote-Tree. Blessed are they that attain thereunto! Fortunate are they that enter therein! Gladdened are they that draw nigh unto it! And happy are they that abide under its shade! All praise be to God, the Lord of the worlds. Convey my warmest Abhá greetings to all the friends….
1 O thou seeker after truth! Behold the power and greatness of Bahá’u’lláh! Within a short span of time, He hath stirred up the East and the West, and raised aloft, in the midmost heart of the world, the banner of love and harmony, of unity and peace, of fellowship and conciliation, of truthfulness and rectitude. He hath freed from enmity and strife a great multitude of souls belonging to divers and opposing nations, to disparate and contending religions, and hath brought them under the sheltering canopy of fellowship, love, and unity.
2 What power this is, and what strength! What greater proof couldst thou desire? He hath brought East and West into close embrace. Singly and alone, He hath withstood the world and uplifted His mighty Cause in the Most Great Prison. Though subjected to utter abasement, He hath crowned His loved ones with the diadem of everlasting glory. Were one to gaze with the eye of justice, this would be sufficient proof.
3 Thou hast written concerning the cost of postage. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá hath offered up his life for thee, how much more his earthly possessions! Upon thee be greetings and praise.
1 O ye true friends and loved ones of God! The Candle shineth resplendent, and the century of the Abhá Beauty is even as a flowering rose-garden. The dawn of the Abhá Kingdom hath broken, and the stars of the celestial Concourse glow with light. Gentle breezes blow from the meads of the Lord, and sweet savours waft from the gardens of holiness. Heavenly strains from the Kingdom of glory are raised on every side, and the summons of the Company on high reacheth the ears of every lowly one. The Day-Star of divine bounty hath risen in all its splendour, and the Orb of God’s grace sheddeth its radiance upon all regions. The manifold bounties of the Most Great Name—may my life be offered up for His loved ones—are all-embracing, and the banquet table of the Lord is spread throughout the earth. These blessings indeed compass you on every side.
2 Behold, then, what a diadem of bounty adorneth your heads and what a kingly mantle attireth your beings. Consider what eyes of bounty watch over you and what glances of mercy are cast upon you. Wherefore, be not saddened by the cruelty of the peoples of the world or grieved by relentless trials. For all these befall you in the path of the Ancient Beauty; all these ye suffer for the sake of the Most Great Name. These tribulations are bountiful gifts, and these afflictions naught but manifold bestowals. This captivity is kingship, and this prison a lofty palace. This blame and condemnation is praise and commendation, and this chain a necklace of world-embracing sovereignty. These stocks and fetters are the adornment of the feet of every fortunate one, these bonds and shackles are the highest hope of the people of glory, and these blades and swords the ultimate desire of the lovers of the resplendent Beauty.
3 Consider how the sacred breast of the Exalted One—may my life be a sacrifice unto Him—was made a target for a hundred thousand bullets, and how the holy body of Quddús—may my life be offered up for Him—was torn to pieces. Consider the galling of the chains and fetters that weighed upon the blessed neck of the Most Great Name—may my soul be offered up for His loved ones—and how He was taken, in that condition, bare-headed and bare-footed, all the way from Níyávarán to Ṭihrán. Many a trial befell that Sacred Beauty for well-nigh fifty years, such that the pen trembleth at their mention. The first was the exile from Persia; the second, the banishment from Iraq to the Ottoman capital; the third, the exile from that city to European Turkey and Bulgaria;4 and the fourth, the banishment of the Beauty of the All-Merciful to the depths of the Most Great Prison. Throughout this period, a myriad other tribulations also befell Him from within and without.
4 Likewise, call thou to mind the Bábu’l-Báb5—may the souls of the well-favoured of the Lord be offered up for him—and consider what trials and tribulations that luminous candle and radiant orb suffered, and what woes he endured in the path of God. Consider how, in the fort of adversity, he finally quaffed the brimful cup of martyrdom, and what injuries were inflicted upon his kin.
5 Recall, too, those other blessed souls who were even as shining lamps unto this world, as brilliant stars among the children of men, as resplendent rays and luminous orbs. They sacrificed themselves, one and all, and shone brightly in the path of the Blessed Beauty. They suffered captivity and endured fierce persecution, were pillaged and plundered, were cast into prisons and dungeons, until, in utter meekness, they drank at last the draught of martyrdom.
6 It is therefore clear and evident that the trials endured in the path of the Friend are the ardent desire of such as are nigh unto Him, that woes suffered for the sake of the Lord are the sole yearning of the denizens of the realms above. Though to outward seeming they are poison, in reality they are pure honey. And though bitter on the lips of those who waver, they are sweet as sugar to those who stand firm. Therefore, in gratitude for such a bounty, in appreciation for the afflictions and trials ye have endured in the path of the incomparable Beloved, it behoveth you to arise with such zeal and fervour as to dazzle the minds of all who dwell on earth. The glory of God rest upon each and every one of you, O ye beloved of the Lord.
1 O ye beloved of the Merciful! The Abhá Beauty hath shone forth with His manifold names and attributes from the Dawning-Point of all desires. He hath caused this glorious century to become the revealer of His wondrous grace through the effulgence of this new light, and hath set aglow the candle of unity in the world of being. In sweet accents of oneness and in celestial melodies proclaiming Divine Unity, He hath warbled upon the branches of the garden of inner meanings so as to gather the scattered peoples of the world under the shadow of the Word of God and bring the hostile and contentious tribes of the earth together in unity and harmony beneath the canopy of the love of God. For this exalted aim, this sanctified and manifest purpose, He hath offered His breast to a myriad darts of woe, and welcomed countless wounds with utter joy and resignation, even as a healing balm.
2 Not for an instant did He rest; not for a moment did His sacred heart find tranquillity. How many a night did He pass under the weight of chains, enduring until dawn a hundred thousand hardships, even as a captive seized within a hostile land. He met the darts of injustice with the target of faithfulness, and quaffed the poison of affliction as if it were the honeyed draught of immortality. He kissed the sharpened blade as though it were a brimming cup, and fervently yearned for the harrowing prison as if it were a loving embrace. He was exiled from His land and became a wanderer in the wilderness of adversity. He was banished to Iraq and Adrianople, and was finally incarcerated in the most desolate of cities. At last, despite all these afflictive calamities and toilsome tribulations, He planted the Tree of Oneness in the paradise of this new Cycle and raised the tabernacle of unity, peace, and reconciliation above the highest of all standards.
3 Then did the morn of hope dawn and the Sun of Truth begin to shine. Its light was shed upon all regions, and the morning breeze wafted forth. The joyful tidings of the Revelation were announced, and the blazing flame and glowing fire of the Burning Bush shone resplendent. The billows of the ocean of unity, even as the hosts of guidance, beat upon the shores of discord and cast the precious pearls of unity and concord far and wide. The divine springtime encircled the earth, heavenly flowers bloomed, vernal showers rained down, and life-bestowing winds blew on every side, till at last all were filled with hope that the beauty of Oneness would be unveiled in the assemblage of the world, and that the brightness of its countenance would shine resplendent throughout all regions.
4 Wherefore, O ye beloved of the Lord and friends of God, arise, and with the whole enthusiasm of your hearts, with all the eagerness of your souls, strive to unfurl the standards of unity in the midmost heart of the world and cause, with valiant might, the ocean of oneness to surge. Thus may the body of humankind be freed from the constraint of these variegated robes and patched garments, and be adorned instead with the sanctified raiment of unity.
5 This is the principal aim and true purpose of the revelation of the Prophets, the advent of the chosen Ones, and the rising of the Sun of Reality in this most great Dispensation of the King of Glory. Unless this sublime aim be achieved, unless this purpose of the All-Glorious Lord be fulfilled and made manifest in the assemblage of the world, this great Cycle will prove idle, and this mighty Dispensation will yield no fruit. God grant that all endeavours may be dedicated to establishing the ties of unity and concord.
6 The glory of God rest upon all who are steadfast in the Covenant and have clung to that holy Testament, through which God shieldeth against all discord.
1 O servant of the one true God! When the Morn of divine guidance dawned above the Most Exalted Horizon, its rays brought tidings of great joy and heralded the advent of the Abhá Beauty, as is openly and unequivocally stated in the Qayyúmu’l-Asmá’.
2 In the whole of the Bayán, all things find their consummation in these wondrous and sublime words: “The Day of Resurrection is from the time of the dawning of the Sun of Bahá until its setting.”6 “Beware, beware, lest the Váḥid of the Bayán shut thee out as by a veil from Him. And beware, beware, that what hath been sent down in the Bayán shut thee not out as by a veil from Him.”7 The Báb Himself is among the Váḥid of the Bayán: There are the eighteen Letters of the Living, and He Himself is the nineteenth. One of the Letters of the Living is Quddús, of whom He hath said that Mirrors to the number of thirteen Váḥids abide beneath his shadow. 8
3 Therefore, say unto them that are veiled: “The Exalted One hath warned you to beware, beware, lest by turning unto Him or unto that which hath been revealed in the Bayán ye be shut out as by a veil from the Beauty of the Lord. Yet ye foolish ones are raising a clamour on every side. One saith, ‘Where is the advent of Him Whom God shall make manifest?’ while another exclaimeth, ‘Where are His palaces?’ One asketh, ‘Where is the primary school of Him Whom God shall make manifest?’9 and yet another demandeth, ‘Where is the cradle of His resurrection?’”
4 The Báb Himself saith: “Beware lest the Váḥid of the Bayán and that which hath been revealed in the Bayán shut thee out as by a veil from Him.” And yet, notwithstanding this, these foolish ones have seized upon the outer meaning of the verses as a pretext to cavil against that peerless Beauty in Whose praise the whole of the Bayán hath been revealed. “What aileth these people that they come not close to understanding what is said unto them?”10 He hath also said: “Were He to appear at this very moment, I would be the first to adore Him.” And again: “In the year nine ye shall attain unto all good.” And so on.
5 First, consider the basis on which they pronounced the death sentence against the Most Exalted One, the Báb—may my life be a sacrifice unto Him! Mullá Muḥammad-i-Mamaqání cried out, “O people! In the Qur’án God saith: ‘No doubt is there about this Book: It is a guidance unto the God-fearing’;11 that is, it guideth aright all humanity. It is also clearly stated: ‘But He is the Apostle of God and the Seal of the Prophets.’12 How can we regard such an explicit statement as the source of error, while it is guidance itself? This person who claimeth to be a descendant of the Prophet hath indeed destroyed the foundation laid down by Him!” He then mentioned, one by one, some of the laws revealed in the Bayán—laws that were later abrogated in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. Thereupon, he ordered the emblem of the Báb’s noble lineage to be removed from His head,13 and issued, without hesitation and with the utmost malice, the sentence of His death.
6 Say: Unto what did the Jewish people cleave except the outer meanings of the verses of the Torah when they adorned the cross with the body of the Beloved, thus depriving themselves of the grace of the Messiah? They clung unto the literal text of the Torah while remaining veiled from Him Who was its Revealer. The Pharisees, who ranked among the most learned of that age and cycle, called Christ not Messiah [Masíḥ] but a monster [Masíkh]. They regarded His comely and beauteous Countenance as vile and unsightly. Such are the ways of the people at the hour of the dawning of the Day-Star of the world.
7 Likewise, when the breezes of the Revelation of Muḥammad perfumed the regions of Mecca and Medina, and the reviving breaths of the divine Teachings made the Arabian Peninsula the scene of the celestial springtide, the Christian divines also clung unto the literal interpretation of God’s perspicuous Book, and remained deprived of the splendours of the Day-Star of the realms above. For according to the outward meaning of the text of the Holy Gospel, there will be no other advent after Christ. The priests and clerics held fast unto these words and remained veiled from the light of certitude that shone forth from the luminous Horizon.
8 In brief, on the day of the Revelation of the divine Light, the peoples of the world invariably cleaved unto the outward meanings of the verses of the Book, and thus deprived themselves of the grace of the Almighty. Worse still, most of the divines used their interpretation of the Holy Books to decree the death of these sovereign Lords of all existence, these Luminaries of the visible and invisible realms. Yet, there is little cause for wonder that those peoples were veiled from the Lord of creation, for their Holy Books and Scriptures did not contain such clear and explicit counsels and such conclusive admonitions as are found in the Bayán.
9 But the Báb—may my life be offered up for Him—left no soul any room for hesitation. He removed the veils completely. Throughout the Bayán, He openly and unambiguously declared that the object of all the Scriptures and sacred Books was none other than the Most Great Light. He warned the people to beware lest they be veiled from the Day-Star of the world by the text of the Book or by their own interpretations of the verses and utterances. Were counsels and admonitions such as these ever revealed in the Torah, the Gospel, or the Holy Qur’án? Nay, by the righteousness of God! This is unique to this Most Great Dispensation, in which the Morn of divine guidance, the Most Exalted Beauty—may my life be offered up for Him—hath rent asunder the concealing veils and made the path of guidance plain and clear.
10 Moreover, following the martyrdom of that Mystery of existence, that glorious Being, where were these perverse people to be found? Each had crept into the corner of everlasting abasement, turned away from friend and stranger alike, and, seized with fear and trepidation, remained hidden from everyone until such time as the Ancient Beauty, the Most Great Name—may my life be offered up for His loved ones—exalted the Cause of God. Then it was that these creeping things crawled out of their hiding places and flaunted themselves. In no time at all, they stirred up mischief, raised the banner of hatred, and thus cast themselves into the abyss of woeful torment. No mention dost thou hear from them now, nor the faintest murmur.14
11 Consider more recent events. When these exiles were under the threat of the sword, the King of Martyrs and the Beloved of Martyrs—may my life be offered up for them both—as well as other martyrs, attained the station of supreme sacrifice. The martyrs in Yazd were ripped to pieces, and those in Khurásán were burnt to death, their dust and ashes scattered to the winds. So too it was in Shíráz and other parts of the country. At that same time, the leader of these wayward people expressly repudiated the Báb from the pulpits of Iṣfahán and Ṭihrán.15 Can this also be denied, though it had become the talk of both towns?
12 Now that he is witnessing how the praises of the Cause of God have set the East and the West in motion, how the fame of the Most Great Name hath encompassed the North and the South, how the potency of the Word of God hath shaken the powers of the world, and how the divine Call, bearing the joyful tidings of the Spirit, hath quickened and revitalized the world of humanity—he hath once again emerged from his pit of obscurity. He hath raised an uproar and asserted his existence, declaring: “We are the people of the Bayán, and the cornerstone of this edifice.”
13 Far, far be it from the truth! Where were these people a few years ago? Who amongst them hath ever quaffed from the cup of tribulation or exerted the least effort in the pathway of the Exalted One? Naught have they ever manifested but denial and repudiation; nothing have they ever shown save indecency and vice. By God, besides Whom there is none other! Should there now be any test or trial, ye would immediately witness them ascending the pulpit and raising the cry of “We are wholly quit of them!”16 Nay, they would curse and revile the Cause of God….
14 Consider how the burning meteor of the Covenant hath pierced the heart of the world. Witness the rays that stream forth from the unseen Kingdom upon the lands of the Slavs and the Turks. Shed splendours on the Orient, And perfumes scatter in the West, Carry light unto the Slav, And the Turk with life invest. And yet these deniers, even as the bats of darkness, have crawled into their caves of apathy and deny the existence of the sun. How well hath it been said: Granted that this morn be called a darksome night, Are seeing eyes also blinded by the light?17
15 Nay, by the righteousness of the Lord! Erelong thou shalt hear the sound of this Bugle and the blasts of this Trumpet coming from the Concourse on high. Glory be to my Lord, the All-Glorious! Upon thee be greetings and praise.
1 O Lord, my God, my Best-Beloved, my Aim, my heart’s Desire! This, verily, is the first of the days of Riḍván. It is come with joy and delight, exultation and rapture. The winds are wafting, the clouds are raining down, and the sun is shining forth through Thy bountiful grace. The morning breeze bloweth over hill and dale in this wondrous Springtime, as a token of Thine inestimable favour, transforming these lands into a fine brocade of incomparable hues and a silken carpet begemmed with flowers and adorned with a vesture of verdant leaves that dazzle the eyes with their gleaming splendour. The breezes blow gently, the fresh streams flow softly, and the meads are adorned with bloom; the groves are lush, the clouds are rich with rain, and the stars are aglow through Thy gracious providence. This dust-heap of a mortal world hath been made green and lustrous by Thy bounty, and the earth hath become an eternal paradise through Thy mercy, O my God, inasmuch as Thy day of Riḍván hath arrived, girded with majesty and invested with sovereignty, flooding creation with beams of light like unto a star, and accompanied by a procession of fervour and joy. Riḍván hath pitched its tent with dazzling splendour in the midmost heart of the world, and led its hosts and sent forth its troops far and wide to the uttermost corners of Paradise.
2 Thus have the hearts of Thy loved ones overflowed with joy and rapture and been carried away in happiness and bliss by Thy sweet savours. They have arisen with yearning and longing to praise Thee, “and drink of a pure beverage shall their Lord give them”.18 Praise be to Thee, O my God, for all that Thou hast graciously granted us. Thanks be to Thee, O my Hope, for the bounties Thou hast conferred upon us. Blessings be upon Thee, O my Best-Beloved, for the favours Thou hast chosen to bestow upon us.
3 O God, my God! O Thou Who art the Goal of my desire! Unlock before the faces of Thy loved ones the portals of Thy favours on this perspicuous day. Hoist the sails of guidance above their heads in the Crimson Ark. Cause them to be gathered beneath the standard of Thy bounty and generosity, and send down upon them the sign of Thy grace in the midmost heart of creation. O Lord my God! Make them radiant stars, resplendent lamps, brilliant orbs, and blazing meteors, so that they may arise to serve Thee amongst Thy creatures, kindle the fire of Thy love in the hearts of Thy people, scatter abroad Thy signs throughout Thy realms, and edify the souls of all that dwell on earth. Then shall Thy heavenly repast be outspread throughout the world, this contingent plane become the Abhá Paradise by the power of Thy might, and this nether dust be made the envy of the high heavens through the outpourings of Thy wisdom.
4 O Lord! Make of Thy loved ones celestial angels who inhabit Thine earth, and enable Thy chosen ones to become heavenly people who reside in Thy realm. This, indeed, is the highest aspiration of Thy servant who hath humbled himself before Thy sovereignty, bowed down in adoration before Thy door, prostrated himself before Thy glory, and fallen upon the dust before the power of Thy sovereign might. Thou art the Bestower, the Compassionate, the Almighty, the All-Bountiful.
5 O ye spiritual friends of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá! At this moment, when the Star of the Riḍván Festival gleameth bright above the horizon of creation and the whole world is wrapt in an ecstasy of joy and fervour, it is the time for rapture and bliss, for exultation and delight, and for the revelation of this celebrated Day. It is the season to rejoice and be happy in heart and soul, the time for music and song, for the melody of harp and lute. The signs of gladness are manifest from every side, and the light of rapture shineth in all directions. The loved ones of the Lord are in perfect joy, and His chosen ones beam with delight, for this is the Day whereon the Most Great Name set out from the City of God in Iraq and entered the luminous Garden. On that resplendent Day, the Beloved evinced such ineffable bliss that the radiance of His joy suffused the kingdom of existence. On that glorious Day, the Word of God was exalted amidst all creation.
6 Wherefore, O ye loved ones of God, it behoveth you all to be filled with such ecstasy and joy on this blessed Festival as to stir the kingdom of existence into motion. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá rejoiceth in these supreme glad-tidings, and supplicateth with the utmost lowliness and fervour at the Threshold of the Abhá Beauty that He may bring gladness to each one of the friends and bestow delight and happiness upon them.
7 It is our hope that, in the year to come, the friends of the All-Merciful who live in free lands will, in a spirit of joy and radiance, lay the foundations of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár and arise to clearly and openly praise and glorify the Beauty of the Unconstrained and recite the obligatory prayer; for in the realm of worship, fasting and obligatory prayer constitute the two mightiest pillars of God’s holy Law. Neglecting them is in no wise permitted, and falling short in their performance is certainly unseemly. In the Tablet of Visitation He saith: “I beseech God, by Thee and by them whose faces have been illumined with the splendours of the light of Thy countenance, and who, for love of Thee, have observed all whereunto they were bidden.” He declareth that observance of the commandments of God emanateth from love for the beauty of the Best-Beloved. The seeker, when immersed in the ocean of the love of God, will be moved by intense longing and will arise to carry out the laws of God. Thus, it is impossible for a heart to contain the fragrance of God’s love and yet fail to worship the True One, except under conditions when such an action would agitate the enemies and stir up dissension and mischief. Otherwise, a lover of the Abhá Beauty will no doubt continually demonstrate perseverance in the worship of the Lord.
8 O ye loved ones of God! ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is in grave danger by reason of the mischief of the enemies and the discord fomented by the Centre of Sedition.19 Whatever events should come to pass, whether great or small, accuse ye not a single soul. All such events are due to the revolt and dissension of the Centre of Sedition. I implore God to enable him to repent and to return to the Covenant and the Testament, for otherwise he will, erelong, find himself in manifest loss. At present, he is considering how to secure a means of escape, and to flee from the Holy Land, so that he may engage in further mischief and that, by his escape, he may cause greater afflictions and troubles for this servant and for the loved ones of God. He stopped at nothing and, with all that lay in his power, stirred up malice, created dissension, spread falsehoods, and disseminated slander and calumny. All that remaineth for him is to flee, which, to his disgrace, he is now intent on doing, thus causing grievous shame and dire turmoil. Should he find an opportunity, he would not delay his escape even for a single moment, but it is difficult for him to accomplish this plan. However, should this come to pass, the loved ones of God must be ever watchful and aware, and must everywhere remain vigilant lest he create a breach in the Cause of God and spread abroad the foul odours of enmity. From the Ascension of the Blessed Beauty until the present day, he hath committed every act that could harm the Cause of God. Now he is planning this abhorrent and reprehensible act as well.
9 In those days, a few influential notables were planning to procure ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s release from confinement. They were fully capable of doing so. But in reply, this servant said, “This citadel is the Prison of the Abhá Beauty. He spent well-nigh four and twenty years here; I have therefore no wish to be released from this prison, nor do I seek deliverance. Nay, rather, I seek renewed confinement and earnestly desire an even more severe incarceration.” Those souls were bewildered by my words. But my intent was that they should understand that, in the path of the Lord, prison for us is even as a royal palace, and the depths of the pit as the apex of heaven. This indeed is an unquestionable reality. This verily is the truth, and all else naught but manifest error.
10 The Centre of Sedition cherisheth the hope that once he hath caused the blood of this prisoner to be spilt, he may at last find an arena in which to spur on his charger. Woe unto such idle fancies, such vain imaginings! For lo, some imaginings are a grievous sin. Those who are inebriated with the wine of the Covenant are weary of the stirrers of sedition, and those who seek guidance from the light of Revelation eschew the movers of mischief. Even should the nightingale of faithfulness wing its flight to the garden of eternity, a mindful soul would never give ear unto the croaking of the raven or the cawing of the crow; and even should the comely countenance be concealed behind a veil, no wise person would cast a glance upon an unsightly face. None would ever do so except him who seeketh to stir up sedition or is bereft of reason and discernment. May the Lord shield and protect you from the malice of the ungodly and the mischief of such as have violated His Covenant.
11 O ye beloved of the Lord! Be united, stand ye together, and cleave tenaciously to the Sure Handle of the Covenant. Bend your energies towards exalting the Word of God, so that the light of Truth may envelop the whole of creation and the darkness of hatred and error may be utterly dispelled.
12 Were the harm inflicted by the Centre of Sedition directed merely at this servant, and his hatred confined to this wronged prisoner, I swear, by Him besides Whom there is none other God, that I would not have uttered a single word about his scrolls of doubt and his calumnies. But what choice is there? For he hath falsified the words of God, hath sought the ruin of the religion of God, and hath broken the Covenant of God. Had I not tried to awaken the friends by dissipating the doubts through a few words, the Faith of God would have been entirely effaced. I swear by Him besides Whom there is none other God! No choice is left to me but to write these brief words; otherwise, this servant would never have consented to utter a single word of disparagement, even against the fiercest of his foes.
13 Notwithstanding all that hath passed, I still fervently pray and implore God that he may, perchance, leave aside these childish games, turn away from iniquity and rebellion, and repent and enter beneath the shadow of the Covenant. I swear by Him besides Whom there is none other God! I would then show him the utmost love and kindness, would utter not a word about bygone days, and would lay no obligation on him save that he rectify that which he hath falsified in the Sacred Text.
14 Indeed, the very foundation of the Law of God is that His loved ones should consort with all the peoples and kindreds of the earth with the utmost kindliness, fellowship, and unity, and with truthfulness, sincerity, and faithfulness. On no account should they behave towards anyone in a manner contrary to this inviolable principle, save for one who is the embodiment of enmity and is intent upon destroying the Law of God. For such souls, there is no remedy whatsoever. No space should be given them to parade and advance. For otherwise they would bring to naught the glorious martyrdom of the Báb, the shedding of the pure blood of all the martyrs, and the trials, afflictions, and imprisonments suffered by the Luminous Beauty for well-nigh fifty years. They would utterly subvert the mighty foundation of the Cause of God.
15 Therefore, the company of these people should be shunned and none should associate with them, unless they repent unto God. My Lord is verily the Compassionate, the Forgiving. Such repentance, however, must be sincere and not merely in words. The repentance of the Centre of Sedition would consist in his rectifying all that he hath interpolated in the Text, confessing to that which he hath done, and imploring God’s pardon and forgiveness. For, one day, he came to see ‘Abdu’l-Bahá through the intercession of ‘Alí-Akbar. He shut the door, confessed his transgressions, and asked forgiveness for his trespasses. This servant did indeed forgive him, but after a few days it became clear and evident that this too had been but one of his deceitful designs. His true intention had been to meet certain persons in private and sow the seeds of doubt in their hearts, for the friends had been shunning his company. The point is that true repentance must be distinguished from false. Only then can it be accepted. Upon you be greetings and praise.
1 O servant of Bahá! Thy detailed letters have been successively received, and despite the lack of a single free moment, they have all been read with the utmost attention. Consider with how many thousands of souls such correspondence must be maintained, and how difficult is the task; there is no time at all. Therefore, a brief reply is being written, which thou wilt surely excuse. I write thee by reason of my love for thee; otherwise, the writing of even a single word would be impossible.
2 Teaching the Cause in this day is the head cornerstone of the foundation itself. Whosoever ariseth to teach shall be graciously aided by the hosts of the celestial Concourse. Naught else will lead to any success whatsoever. Today is the day for laying the foundation, not the time for organization, repair, or restoration. One must first lay the foundation, and only then organize and arrange.
3 Laying the foundation consisteth solely in the propagation of the Faith of God, in the diffusion of the divine fragrances, and in detachment from all else but Him. Consider how a skilled builder first procureth the necessary materials for the edifice. He then prepareth the groundwork, layeth the foundation, and raiseth the pillars. Only afterwards doth he attend to its organization, arrangement, and adornment. Were we to concentrate on organization and arrangement at this time, the teaching of the Cause of God and the diffusion of the divine fragrances would be delayed.
4 Therefore, be thou occupied with naught but the promotion of the Cause in the environs of Shíráz. If the people of a city, of their own accord, choose to hold a consultative gathering—that is, to form a Spiritual Assembly according to the electoral process—well and good. However, we should not be actively pursuing this matter at present, for then some would be pleased, while others would be saddened, and still others distressed. Such decisions are to be left to the believers in each city. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and all who join him and have a share in his servitude at the Sacred Threshold, should centre their thoughts on spreading the sweet savours of God. Had ‘Abdu’l-Bahá occupied himself with those other matters, how could he have illumined the East and the West with the light of guidance?
5 Thy questions will be briefly answered. The Ancient Beauty20—may my life be offered up for His loved ones—did not to outward seeming meet His Holiness, the Exalted One21—may my life be a sacrifice unto Him.
6 The Faithful Spirit, Gabriel, the Holy Spirit, and the One mighty in power are all designations of the same Reality.
7 The elected members of Spiritual Assemblies must needs be pure and sanctified. Whenever a Spiritual Assembly is formed in a city, it behoveth the teachers of the Cause to consult with it and to act according to whatsoever it deemeth advisable. The teacher should not lay hands on worldly things, whether pertaining to contributions or the like. Should the people in a locality elect a teacher as a member of the Spiritual Assembly, this is permissible….
8 To conclude, O Jináb-i-Shukúhí, be thou severed from all save God and enraptured by the fragrances of the Divine. Forsaking home and comfort, become a wanderer, roaming the wilderness of the love of God and engaged in the diffusion of His sweet savours. If thou seekest divine assistance, this is the way; if thou yearnest for confirmations, this is the path. By the Ancient Beauty! All else save this will eventually result in manifest loss. This, verily, is the truth, and all else naught but error.
1 O thou distinguished branch of the blessed and sacred Lote-Tree! When the Ancient Beauty, the Most Great Name—may my life be offered up for His loved ones—would visit Haifa, He would time and again praise a certain spot on Mount Carmel, saying what a pleasant and agreeable place it was and what a splendid view it offered. He instructed that it be purchased by whatever means possible. He was most intent on acquiring that site.
2 Four years ago, with great effort, that land was purchased, and following some minor preparations, it was made ready. Special instructions were then conveyed to Rangoon, numerous epistles written, and a design prepared and sent, for a sarcophagus to be made of the marble of that region. The carving made from a single piece of stone was completed with great difficulty, and the sarcophagus was transported here by various means. Thou hast surely heard of what transpired along the way, when it entered certain cities. In short, it arrived not long ago, together with a casket made of the finest Indian wood.
3 A year ago, we dispatched Áqá Mírzá Asadu’lláh from here on a specific mission. So it was that he and a few of the friends transported, upon a palanquin and with the utmost reverence, lowliness, humility, and respect, that holy Temple and mighty Throne, the sacred remains of the Báb—may my life be sacrificed for His dust—from Persia to the Holy Land.
4 We are now engaged in raising this sacred edifice on Mount Carmel. God willing, we will also summon thee to join us and take part in carrying the stones and mortar of this hallowed and blessed Shrine, that thou mayest partake of the limitless effusions of His grace and attain this most mighty honour. These are tidings of joy with which the sovereignty of heaven and earth cannot compare. In truth, my heart is filled with such great joy and gladness as cannot be described. For that sacred Temple had suffered great indignity at the hands of the transgressors, but now, praise be to God, through the unfailing help and grace vouchsafed by the Ancient Beauty, all the means have been procured and arranged so perfectly as shall cause everyone to marvel. The glory of God rest upon thee and upon the Afnán of the sacred Tree in that land.
1 O thou seeker of truth! Thy letter was received. Thou hast asked me for a written history as well as a record of the prophecies concerning the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh. These have both been previously written. Search for them and thou wilt find them.
2 Regarding the Blessed Beauty, He was not born of the line of Ishmael but was, rather, a descendant of one of the other brothers who had migrated to Persia and the Afghan territories. For, apart from Isaac and Ishmael, Abraham had six sons who all moved to Persia and to the Afghan regions.
3 O thou sincere seeker! Strive thou with all thy might to summon the people to the heavenly Kingdom, so that through divine guidance thou mayest enable the human souls to become even as the angels of Paradise, mayest promote universal peace in this distinguished Age and serve the oneness of the world of humanity, and mayest attain unto everlasting life, follow the example of Christ, and become a companion of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in this path. Upon thee be greetings and praise.
1 O thou noble branch of the divine Tree! Countless occupations and endless vicissitudes have delayed my reply to thy letter. This thou wilt surely forgive, inasmuch as my obligations are such as cannot be described or expressed. Notwithstanding this, praise be to God, communications between ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and the honourable Twigs of the Sacred Tree are continuous.22 This is because of the deep love I cherish in my heart for the Exalted Beauty—may my life be offered up for Him.
2 God be praised, the construction of the lower level of the Holy Shrine, in utmost strength, grace, and elegance, hath been completed. There was a large plot of land located on the slope above the Holy Shrine. Had it remained in the hands of strangers, they might have constructed buildings there in the future, leading to great difficulties. Time and again, that ground was blessed by the footsteps of Bahá’u’lláh. There were a few cypress trees therein, and the Blessed Beauty—may my life be offered up for His loved ones—frequently sat under their shade while the believers attained His presence. That land also had to be purchased recently for the sum of two thousand túmáns, and was conjoined with the precincts of the Holy Shrine.
3 As to the cistern,23 since this servant was imprisoned before its construction, the European and Ottoman engineers proved unequal to the task of ensuring the required soundness and solidity of the structure, and their work was left incomplete. Consequently the cistern wall facing the sea collapsed, and the efforts were somewhat wasted. However, no harm was done, for it is now being reconstructed most solidly, under the supervision of this servant, and will soon be completed. Although due to my incarceration I have been unable to go to the Holy Shrine in person, I have been supervising the construction work from a distance. It will soon be complete and will be most firm and solid. Indeed, it is not a cistern, but a sea!
4 And now concerning the visit of the holy leaf of the Blessed Tree: God willing, circumstances will soon make this advisable, and permission will then be granted. Upon thee be greetings and praise.
1 O thou my fellow countryman! Although ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was born in Ṭihrán and for successive years wandered homeless in Iraq, and although he was for a time an exile in Rumelia and for forty years a prisoner in ‘Akká, yet his homeland is Mázindarán—that is to say, the district of Míyánrúd in the region of Núr. Therefore, I address thee as my countryman.
2 Thy splendid letter aroused spiritual affections in my heart. I read it with admiration, for it was a melody of Divine Unity and an ensign proclaiming His oneness. I, too, am most eager to meet thee. If the means become available for thee to travel in peace and tranquillity, thou mayest come next winter.
3 Praised be God! Whenever I read the name of someone from Mázindarán at the end of any letter, it bringeth me gladness and delight, inasmuch as it is the ancestral home of the family of the Blessed Beauty. My heart longeth for that land to become even as Paradise itself, and for its people to recognize and embrace the Great Announcement. The Glory of Glories rest upon thee.
1 O sorely tried friends of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá! It hath become apparent that a wicked person in those regions hath assailed and attacked both rich and poor, hath harmed and harassed friend and foe alike. He hath pillaged and plundered many, robbed and levied taxes on all. Not a soul did he spare; not a single penny did he let remain. This indeed was a dire calamity, a most great affliction, for it wreaked woeful loss and inflicted boundless hardship upon friend and stranger alike.
2 Had he not acted so, he might not have become afflicted with the retribution which such behaviour entaileth. The day will soon come when he shall fall into distress and be brought to naught. Neither name nor fame shall remain of him. All this mischief, however, may be blamed on the sinister schemes and transgressions of outdated Signs; this thunderbolt was cast as a result of the decrees pronounced by defective Proofs.24 And yet, a band of witless ones still follow after such men, still kiss their hands and the hem of their garments, and are scorched by the flames of mischief and sedition.
3 In brief, let not the loved ones of God be grieved or distressed at these countless afflictions, for in bearing such trials they share in the sufferings of the Abhá Beauty. Although that radiant Luminary was merciful, loving, and forgiving to all, the ignorant kindled such fires that they burned away all sense of decency and shame. As a result, that focal Centre of beauty was subjected to chains and fetters; He endured the bastinado and was afflicted, day and night, with all manner of torture. He was made homeless and a wanderer in mountains and plains; He was banished, exiled, and imprisoned. He spent twenty-five long years in confinement and was insulted and tormented. Let the friends render thanks unto God, therefore, that they too have suffered pillage and plunder, that they too have been targeted by the darts of cruelty and malice.
4 The village of the Blessed Beauty in Mázindarán was attacked by a host of twelve thousand brutal men. They plundered and pillaged so relentlessly that no sign of any possession or goods remained; they even left no crop for the inhabitants of the village. They set fire to the straw, burned the oil, and massacred a number of the innocent. They then herded the peasants together in chains, sent them to Ṭihrán, and cast them into prison. They cut the chin as well as the beard of that spirit of spirits, Mullá ‘Abdu’l-Fattáḥ, and they marched him to Ṭihrán, barefoot and in chains. Despite his old age and his frailty, the guards showed him no mercy. But even whilst bound by chains and on foot, with blood pouring from his wounded face, that spirit of detachment raised up his voice in prayer, to his very last breath, rendering thanks unto the Lord of Signs for having been made the victim of plunder and pillage, for having been bound in shackles and fetters in the path of the Beloved. With his beard tinged with his own blood, he walked all the way and, upon arrival at the prison in Ṭihrán, surrendered his soul into the hands of his Beloved and sacrificed himself for the Loving Friend. Beaming with joy, he laid down his life in the path of that great Luminary. How truly hath the poet said: That beam of bliss and ecstasy Did stay with him forevermore, Even as Aḥmad, the Praised, Who is always with the Peerless Lord.
5 In short, let the loved ones of God render thanks unto the All-Merciful Lord for their share of these afflictions and for their astounding patience and forbearance. Through His unfailing grace, a radiant morn shall surely follow this dreary night, and a bright horizon will succeed this foul cloud. This deadly poison shall give way to purest honey, and this sore wound will at last receive a healing balm. The Glory of Glories rest upon you!
1 O servant of the Abhá Beauty! Thy letter was received. Thou hast written of being deprived of communications for some time, whereas I have sent forth numerous letters. I also penned one to the handmaiden of Bahá regarding the Shrine of the Báb, and about how on the day of Naw-Rúz the sacred Remains were deposited, with the utmost joy and radiance, within the marble casket and placed, with due grace and ceremony, in the exalted Shrine. The receipt of that letter was also not confirmed. But thy letter giving the joyful tidings of the holding of a gathering was received on the first day of Riḍván and rejoiced my heart.
2 Thou hast enquired regarding a certain passage from the Epistle addressed to the Wolf. “The Land of Mím” referreth to Mázindarán. The Blessed Beauty was confined to prison in the town of Ámul, and, as the ‘ulamá gathered together in the mosque, He was delivered into their hands. Those iniquitous divines then rose up against Him with injustice and tyranny. They afflicted Him with a myriad torments and made Him the victim of their relentless cruelty. For instance, they subjected the Blessed Beauty to the bastinado in such wise that His feet were sore wounded for some time. Convey my loving greetings to the maidservant of Bahá, as well as to the rest of the friends.
1 O thou remnant of those two distinguished departed souls! Thy letter was received and brought infinite joy and gladness; for, the Lord be praised, news hath come at last from the land of Núr, and a letter hath arrived from a soul who is a descendant of veteran friends and dearly loved countrymen.
2 Glorified be God! The East is illumined with the splendours of His light, and the West is perfumed with the sweet savours of the love of the Lord. The Turks and the Persians, the Africans and the Americans, the Europeans and the Asians have all been set aflame and made vibrant through the pervading influence of the Cause of God. Yet the homeland of the Blessed Beauty, though bearing the name of Núr,25 hath remained darksome and deprived. Strangers have become friends, whilst those who were friends are estranged. Balál the Ethiopian, Ṣuhayb the Byzantine, ‘Addás the Assyrian, and Salmán the Persian were all made intimates of the mysteries. And yet the Siyyid of Quraysh, Abú-Lahab, as well as the kinsmen and relatives of the Beauteous Muḥammad, remained bereft of the splendour of His Light.
3 In the Gospel it is said that all the prophets have been without honour in their own country and homeland. Indeed, such is the case. Christ hath likewise said that many shall come from the East and from the West and enter the kingdom of heaven, whilst the children of the kingdom shall forsake it. And now, the fame of the Cause of God and the tidings of the advent of Bahá’u’lláh have stirred up and set in motion all the regions of the earth. Yet the people of the district of Núr remain deprived. Take then good heed, O ye people of insight!
4 While returning from Mázindarán to Ṭihrán, the Blessed Beauty passed through Núr, filling Tákur and Dárkulá with enthusiasm and ecstasy. A great multitude became His faithful followers, and their numbers increased from day to day.... In brief, a vast number were attracted to the holy fragrances of God.
5 A year later, Yaḥyá the unchaste proceeded to Núr.26 In hardly any time at all, he provoked agitation and great confusion there, and when at last he found himself in trouble, and saw the likelihood of being in danger in that region, he abandoned the faithful friends and left. In the guise of a dervish, he escaped to Gílán, Mázindarán, and Kirmánsháh, leaving all those helpless souls to be massacred. He bolted, fled, and vanished in retreat. He ensnared the friends, most of whom were martyred. The situation he created in that village, the way he behaved, caused the fire of the love of God to be utterly extinguished therein. He even prompted a few to attack the late Mírzá Khudávirdí. I remember, as a child in Núr, seeing Mírzá Khudávirdí sobbing aloud and saying, “For fifty years I have served this family; was it justified that Mírzá Yaḥyá should incite Gul-Bábá to beat me publicly, to insult me, and to turn me away?” Briefly, as a result of his evil deeds, the light of Núr was obscured and Míyánrúd fell into a state of torpor.
6 One day, in an assemblage in Dárkulá, the Blessed Beauty spoke in such an eloquent manner and presented such powerful proofs and testimonies that, when He arose to depart, four of the mujtahids rushed forth to bring Him His shoes. Two of those were Mullá ‘Abbás and Mullá Abu’l-Qásim, sons-in-law of Mírzá Muḥammad-Taqíy-i-Mujtahid. That was the condition aforetime, and this is what hath befallen since.
1 O servant of God! Ṭihrán is the homeland of the compassionate Beloved and the abode of that Light of the realms of the Placeless. Thou too hast been planted by the hand of celestial power in that same garden and been nurtured by the gentle breezes and pleasing waters of that luminous land. Wherefore, even as outwardly thou art from the homeland of that resplendent Light, it is my hope that also inwardly thou mayest become a denizen of the heavenly Kingdom of that shining Orb.
2 If thou art debarred from the public baths, praised be God, for thou art immersed instead in that wellspring of cool water that is “to wash with and to drink”,27 and art indeed a sorely tried and true believer in the path of the Blessed Beauty. Upon thee be greetings and praise.
1 O Bashír-i-Iláhí! Thy letter was like unto a treasury of poems in glorification and praise of the Blessed Beauty. It hath imparted the utmost joy and gladness. Each word of thy letter is a sign of joyous music: One word is the lyre and the lute; another, the psalms of the House of David. One word is the timbrel and the harp; another, pure poetry and song. It is a perfect symphony, causing the listeners to leap with rapture and joy. From afar thou playest the melody, and here His lovers rejoice with ecstasy.
2 Praise be to God, for thy letter was redolent with the fragrance of musk and thy words were as sweet as honey. It bore testimony to the unity and harmony among the friends, who are one and all engaged, with zeal and attraction, unity and concord, in exalting the Word of God, diffusing His fragrances, and teaching His Cause, none burdened by sorrow.
3 The four pages in the blessed handwriting of the Báb—may my life be a sacrifice unto Him—that thou didst present to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as a gift were received. Thereupon, the very walls resounded with the anthem of “O blessed, blessed are we!” whilst ‘Abdu’l-Bahá hearkened from a corner unto these sweet melodies. Well done! Well done! for having cheered our hearts with such a cherished gift.
4 As to thy stay in the Murgh-Mahallih of Shimírán for a change of air, this is truly a divine favour.28 That place is not the abode of mere birds, but the nest of the Phoenix of the East and the dwelling of the mystic Bird of the sacred Mount. For there, in that pure and hallowed field, the Blessed Beauty—may my life be offered up for His loved ones—took up residence for an entire summer. There he resided in the garden of Ḥájí-Báqir, which consisted of three terraces overlooking a lake. This was in the earliest days of the Cause, when that district became the throne of the Lord of the Kingdom. A large stone platform was raised in the heart of the lake, with a tent in the centre and gardens all around. About one hundred and fifty friends would gather, and at night hymns of praise would rise up to the Concourse on high. Those were wonderful times indeed. The Blessed Beauty would frequently make mention of that place.
5 And now, render thou thanks unto God for having bestowed such a dwelling upon thee, where thou hast engaged, in the company of the friends, in praise and remembrance of the incomparable Lord, singing to thy heart’s content and bringing bliss and joy to His loved ones. The Glory of Glories rest upon thee.
1 O handmaid of Bahá! Thy letter was received, and from its contents the earnestness with which thou art serving the Abhá Kingdom became evident. Thou art indeed striving with heart and soul, and I am well pleased with thee.
2 I had the book thou hast written about Qurratu’l-‘Ayn rendered into Arabic.29 The translation is exceedingly eloquent; I have read through it carefully. If necessary, I can forward a copy of the Arabic to thee.
3 With regard to the episode of Badasht, though the account is accurate, it is not exhaustive. A fuller description would be that Qurratu’l-‘Ayn was in one garden and Quddús in another, whilst the Blessed Beauty resided in a tent. His tent was raised between the two gardens, beside a stream. The Blessed Beauty had previously said unto Quddús and Qurratu’l-‘Ayn that the Cause was to be fully proclaimed. The next day, He fell ill. Quddús entered and sat in the presence of the Blessed Beauty, with all the believers gathered round the tent. Suddenly, Qurratu’l-‘Ayn emerged from her garden and, roaring and crying out, she entered the tent and seated herself. “Read the Súrih of the Event”, the Blessed Beauty proclaimed, and it was read in His presence. The greatest commotion then came to pass: Some fled, others wept and cried aloud, and yet others were sorely perturbed. Mullá Ismá‘íl cut his own throat, and the gathering at Badasht was dispersed.
4 In short, thou hast indeed been most assiduous in writing this book. I beseech God that as day followeth day, thy spirit of endeavour, service, and sacrifice, and thy constancy and steadfastness in the Cause, may wax stronger so that thou mayest become a luminous star shining from the horizon of eternity.
5 Dispatch some copies of this book by post to Persia for the friends, but do so one volume at a time, for should ye send several copies at once, the government will confiscate them….