1 O ‘Abdu’l-Vahháb! During His first journey to Iraq, the Blessed Beauty met a young man by the name of Mírzá ‘Abdu’l-Vahháb. No sooner had this youth attained His presence and hearkened unto His words than, lo, he became so magnetized, so suffused with joy, that he guided his family to the truth and imparted the gladsome tidings to a great many.
2 Following the return of Him Who is the Most Great Name to Ṭihrán, Mírzá ‘Abdu’l-Vahháb hastened to that sacred land, dancing with delight and leaping with joy, only to be consigned, upon arrival, to the depths of the dungeon. A few days later, his turn came to be martyred. When the executioner stepped into the dungeon and shouted out his name, that young man, still in the prime of his years, leapt to his feet, danced for joy in that prison, and surrendered himself to the executioner. Thus did he attain supreme martyrdom. The Blessed Beauty frequently spoke of him. I fervently hope that the joy and radiance of that ‘Abdu’l-Vahháb may also be manifested in this one. The Glory of Glories rest upon thee.
1 O thou who art steadfast in the Covenant! Thou hast asked concerning the travels of Bahá’u’lláh. The Blessed Beauty—may my life be offered up for His loved ones—travelled directly from Ṭihrán to Hamadán, from that city to Kirmánsháh, and thence straight on to Baghdad.
2 As regardeth the association which hath been formed in Shanghai, China, with the aim of promoting harmony and reconciliation amongst the religions, do thou send to that English lady literature about the Cause and material from the press, and advise her by all means to go to that association and speak about this blessed Cause—a universal religion which bringeth all faiths and creeds together beneath the effulgence of the Sun of Truth, entirely reconciling them and welding them into a single people. This is an important matter to which thou shouldst attend most heedfully. Correspond regularly with them and, if it be possible, send teachers to those parts, who may likewise go to the association and spread the divine teachings. Only such souls should be sent, however, as are detached from the world, attracted by the fragrances of holiness, and distinguished by the utmost purity and sanctity.
1 O thou servant of the Sacred Threshold! Thy letter dated 23 May 1921 was received and its contents were noted. The complaints of the two parties are continuous, and their tale-telling also incessant. This causeth grief to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, who had painstakingly arranged for thy return to the sacred House, thereby delivering the friends from deep anguish and despair, and cheering their hearts with joy! Now, differences have arisen and will no doubt lead to the House being lost to us once again.
2 In short, O servant of the Sacred Threshold! ‘Abdu’l-Bahá hath set upon thy head a gem-studded crown, which is the custodianship of the sacred House. Its full significance is not as yet evident, but erelong it will acquire great importance. This crown shall suffice thee and a hundred generations after thee. Entangle not thyself, then, in other affairs.
3 Seek, with the utmost tranquillity and composure, to dedicate thyself to service at the sacred House, and treat the pilgrims with the utmost kindliness and love, so that they may be happy and pleased with thee. There is nothing greater than such servitude to the sacred House; thou couldst not wish for more. In short, strive with heart and soul to please and satisfy all the friends.
4 Thou hast seen the conduct and behaviour of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Follow this example. Act in accordance with the admonitions of the Blessed Beauty—may my life be offered up for His loved ones. That Wronged One of the world consorted with all people with the utmost meekness and humility. Throughout the long period when He resided in Baghdad, not a single heart was saddened by Him. All the inhabitants of that city were thankful and obliged to Him.
5 Thus we, who are the servants of His threshold, must follow in His blessed footsteps. This, indeed, is the means of success. This, indeed, is the cause of prosperity. Convey my wholehearted greetings to thy brothers and thy relatives. The Glory of Glories rest upon thee.
1 O thou who art steadfast in the Covenant! The letter thou hadst written to Mashhadí Ismá‘íl hath been received. The traces of the pen of that loving friend have brought joy to my heart and mind, for their inner meanings are spiritual impressions and heartfelt sentiments derived from the reality of the soul; they are sufficient testimony to firmness and constancy, and to servitude to the all-sufficing Lord.
2 From the earliest dawn of the Morn of divine guidance, Ádhirbáyján raised aloft the banner of faith and certitude, and the Cause of God thereby spread far and wide. But following the martyrdom of the Exalted One, the journey of the Blessed Beauty from Iraq to Kurdistan, and the seclusion of Yaḥyá in a corner of oblivion, the Cause of God sank deep into apathy everywhere, even in Ádhirbáyján. Only a few souls remained steadfast and calm until the Day-Star of the world returned to Iraq and the splendours of His light shone upon all regions in the plenitude of their glory. Once again, a Great Resurrection was witnessed and the sweet savours of holiness were shed upon the whole world. The friends in Ádhirbáyján were stirred up in blissful rapture, and their enthusiasm, joy, and fervour waxed greater day by day.
3 Now, too, receptivity in that land is great, but a mighty effort is needed if the friends are to impart these joyful tidings with gladness and delight, and to perfume the senses of the seekers with the fragrance of the robe of the divine Joseph. Praise be to God that thou hast arisen to serve Him and art earnestly striving to exalt the Word of God. My hope is that, through the sincerity of souls, the hearts and minds of the people of Ádhirbáyján may be stirred in these days, and sanctified beings may arise to guide the people aright. The forces of the Kingdom stand ready and expectant. As soon as a soul urgeth the steed of high endeavour into the field of sacrifice, these heavenly forces will rush forth to his aid and will render him assistance and support.
4 Thou hadst requested permission for a visit. At this time, thy presence in those regions is much needed. Thou art occupied with service, manifesting complete servitude and devoted to the promotion of the Word of God. Such service is the same as attaining to the Sacred Threshold of the Lord. The Glory of Glories rest upon thee.
1 O Lord, my God! Thou seest how the son of Maḥmúd hath been seized with trembling and dismay, at the hand of hostile enemies.30 The vast immensity of the world was for him straitened, inasmuch as multiple calamities befell him and adversities waxed increasingly severe. He was so overtaken by the darkness of tyranny and injustice, of cruelty and iniquity that, unable to endure the onslaught of those trials and tribulations, he finally forsook hearth and home and migrated to the Holy Land.
2 O God! Persia hath become the arena for the hosts of woe and tyranny. Animosity amongst contending groups hath fanned the flames of injustice and rebellion throughout that land. None can be found there whose breast is not pierced by arrows, whose heart is not wounded by spears. None is there whose body hath not fallen upon the dust-heap of infamy and degradation, owing to the growing intensity of contention and strife and by reason of what the hands of the evil plotters have wrought. Some lean to the right, others turn back on their heels; still others bring upon themselves abasement and retribution. The people have become divided and the congregation of those who were wrapt in veils dispersed, inasmuch as they have failed to hearken to His decisive decree and, deaf to counsel, have cast themselves into the depths of the sea of doubt.
3 O Lord! Tribulations have encompassed all the peoples. There is none to dispel them besides Thee, and none to forgive our sins except Thyself. I beseech Thee to shield Thy loved ones and protect Thy chosen ones from the swirling dust that hath encompassed that land. I implore Thee, in particular, to shield this devoted servant of Thine, Ja‘far, who hath been praying fervently to Thee and supplicating in tears before Thy Face. He is destitute and hath placed his complete trust and confidence in Thee. O Lord! Relieve him of his ills, and let him not drown in the deepest abyss of tribulations or in the fathomless ocean of afflictions. Bestow upon him Thy manifold bounties, unravel before him Thy hidden mysteries, and preserve him from every affliction and sorrow, within the stronghold of Thine unfailing protection. O God! Open Thou the gates of joy and happiness for him in this marvellous age, so that the verities of Thy Cause may flow from him in torrents to every ardent and grateful soul. O Lord! Grant that his sole aim, his only goal, may be to diffuse Thy sweet savours amidst humankind and to spread Thy light throughout the world. O Thou my compassionate Lord! Thou art, in truth, the God of bounty, the Almighty, the All-Glorious, the Ever-Forgiving.
4 O thou dear friend! Thy letter, filled with sighs of grief, was read with the utmost sorrow. Thou hast indeed fallen into grave difficulties and hast endured extreme hardships. But this year of great calamity hath encompassed all of Persia—nay, it hath enveloped the whole world. As attested by the poet, “No thorn is there that is not crimsoned by the martyrs’ blood.”31
5 ‘Abdu’l-Bahá hath also been thy partner and associate in this regard. In Paris, while, on the one hand, each noble soul brought joy to our hearts, on the other, great difficulties arose as a result of attacks by small-minded individuals. In London some of the clergy hurled such assaults upon us as are impossible to describe. Wert thou to read the Churchman, thou wouldst know what things have come to pass.32 But ‘Abdu’l-Bahá payeth no heed whatsoever to any ordeal, difficulty, or adversity. Nay, rather, he regardeth adversity to be, at times, the same as bounty itself. For forty years the prison-city of ‘Akká was for him a heavenly paradise, and he saw the early days of that imprisonment, which were its most severe, as a garden of roses.
6 Thou too must be my companion, and abandon not the arena in the face of afflictions and calamities. Thou must not merely refrain from complaining, but must rather be thankful. One day in Baghdad, the Blessed Beauty—may my soul be offered up for His servants—addressing us, uttered this verse: Either speak no more of love, or content thyself with what hath been ordained; Thus hath it been decreed by My command, and such is My law and My way.33 At that instant, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá understood what was expected of him.
7 And now, through His infinite favours, I hope that days as sweet as honey may once again return. Grieve not, neither sorrow nor repine. “Forsake all complaint and tend to the flock.”34 My wish for thee is that, by the favour of the Blessed Beauty, thou mayest find ease of heart and soul. The Glory of Glories rest upon thee.
1 O thou who hast tasted of the sweetness of every affliction in the path of God, who hast arisen with thy spirit, thy being, and thine inmost essence to serve His Cause and to exalt His Word! Upon thee rest the glory of God, the All-Glorious.
2 A few days ago, Áqá Siyyid Muḥammad-Riḍá, a resident of Mázindarán, together with Mullá Ramaḍán—upon them be the glory of God, the All-Glorious—and another person arrived and visited the blessed Shrine. Since then, we have been meeting day and night.
3 One day, during the time in Iraq, the Ancient Beauty—may my spirit, my being, and mine essence be offered up for the earth ennobled by the footsteps of His loved ones—said: “Since Fárs is the homeland of the Exalted One—the Primal Point—and is associated with that Holy Being, I deeply yearn for it to be set ablaze with the fire of the love of God.” Shortly thereafter, the Báb’s maternal uncle, the honourable Afnán, arrived, attained His presence, and submitted some questions. The Epistle to the Uncle, titled the “Kitáb-i-Íqán”, was thus revealed. The province of Fárs was then set aflame with the love of God, and the light of knowledge dawned forth and shone resplendent from that horizon. Many souls entered beneath the shadow of the Word of God, and some, filled with the holy ecstasy of His bounty, hastened to the field of sacrifice and flung away their lives and hearts.
4 Now, it is clear and evident from these words of Bahá’u’lláh what must be His irresistible will and desire for the province of Mázindarán. I swear by His holy Being! The Concourse on high and the denizens of the Abhá Kingdom are expectantly awaiting the time when in that blessed region which is associated with the Ancient Beauty—may my life be offered up for His loved ones—the ocean of God’s love will surge and swell forthwith; the flame of the fire kindled in the Burning Bush will ignite every tree, whether green or sere; souls will be raised up who, even as resplendent stars, will illuminate the celestial firmament; and realities will appear who, like unto manifest signs and upraised banners, will exalt the Word of God.
5 Therefore it behoveth thee to ponder so inestimable a benefit and to seize every means within thy power, that perchance thou mayest manifest God’s irrevocable purpose, exert thyself anew, and render a wondrous service to His Cause. The glory of God rest upon thee.
1 O ye who yearn for the beauty of the compassionate Beloved! No sooner had He Who is the Beloved of the worlds, the Desire of the spiritually minded, the Object of the adoration of the heavenly souls, and the Promised One of the people of the Bayán been made manifest in Iraq than He stirred and quickened the earth, and shed His radiant light upon human conduct and character. The universe was set in motion, and the whole creation was filled with joy. The reality of each created thing acquired its heavenly significance, and every atom in existence attained unto the Divine Beloved. The East became the Dawning-Place of splendours, and the West was made the horizon of effulgent glory. The earth became heavenly, and darksome dust was made radiant. The glory of the Kingdom was revealed in the world of creation, and this nether realm was awakened to the Realm on high. This world became another world, and the realm of being acquired a new life.
2 With every passing day, these signs will be revealed and made more manifest, these lights will shine more resplendent; and with every passing moment, this musk-laden breeze will shed its perfume upon the world. But alas! The people of Persia remain wrapt in heedless slumber and, like the blind and the deaf, neither see the Light nor hear the Call. They are neither awakened nor mindful.
3 Strive then and exert a mighty effort, for Persia is the homeland of the compassionate Beloved, and Fárs the dawning-place of the resplendent Morn. Perchance, through the high endeavours of the friends, the inhabitants of that land may perceive the rays of that luminous Orb, and may receive their portion of manifold grace from the Lord of tokens and signs. The Glory of Glories rest upon you.
1 O ye who stand fast and firm in the Covenant! No sooner had the Most Great Luminary of the world risen above the horizon of Iraq and shed its radiance upon all regions from the Source of divine glory, than all the bats of darkness, with their pomp and pride, assailed it from every side, that they might conceal that manifest Light from the eyes of His favoured ones and soar to prominence under cover of darkness in the gloom of night. Since their arguments proved powerless against Him, they devised schemes for the departure of the Blessed Beauty. They resorted to innumerable machinations, so that the Day-Star of the world might sink below the horizon of Iraq and the Light of sanctity might be prevented from shining forth from the heights of Divine Unity. And so it came to pass that they conducted the Blessed Beauty from the East to the West.
2 But this exile and isolation became the means for the exaltation of the Word of God and led to the diffusion of the divine fragrances. The Eagle of His Cause soared unto the summits of grandeur, and the Day-Star of His Word shone forth from the horizon of might and power. This abasement became a source of confirmation, this remoteness a means of reunion. The vitality of God’s Faith was strengthened, and its fame was noised abroad. The Faith was already renowned in Persia, but this exile caused the whole earth to resound with its praise and its reputation to spread throughout the world.
3 Though this should have served as a lesson, it led to more heedlessness among the ignorant. Soon afterwards, they once again hoisted the banners of hatred, sowed the seeds of malice in the hearts, and incited certain foes to oppose Him. They found a means and an instrument in the person of Mírzá Yaḥyá, the nominee of the Báb. His Excellency the Ambassador used this undiscerning individual as his chief instrument for stirring up mischief.35 Mírzá Yaḥyá had fondly imagined that if the Lamp of the Realm of Glory could be removed from its niche in the West, this new Cause and its flood of abounding grace would be reduced to naught. He therefore joined forces with the Ambassador and began, both overtly and covertly, to stir up a myriad storms of mischief and sedition. He imagined that this harm would befall the Ancient Beauty, and that such malice would injure His blessed Person, while he himself would remain safe and secure. How far, how very far otherwise it proved to be! When the fire of dissension blazed high, that ignorant one was exiled even before the departure of the Beauty of the All-Merciful, and he remaineth to this very day lamenting in the abyss of disappointment and loss.
4 However, when that resplendent Sun rose above the horizon of His prison, the light of His sanctity was shed over the Holy Land, God’s burning Fire burst into mighty flames, and the heat of His love blazed fiercely in the midmost heart of the world. The all-embracing reality of the Word of God rose from the nadir to the most exalted zenith, and the mystery of these words was made manifest: “Fain would they put out God’s light with their mouths: But God hath willed to perfect His light, albeit the infidels abhor it.”36 How well hath the poet said: “Even a foe can become the source of good, were this to be the Lord’s desire.”
5 Behold the greatness of God’s inscrutable wisdom. Some three thousand years ago, He imparted through the tongue of the Prophets glad-tidings unto the Holy Land in words such as these: Rejoice, O Holy Land, for thou shalt be made the footstool of the All-Merciful! The Tabernacle of the Lord shall be raised, the sweet savours of holiness shall be diffused, and the Day-Star of holiness shall shine forth. Rejoice with exceeding gladness, O Holy Land, rejoice! That bright Moon shall beam forth in thy heaven, and that glorious Sun shall shine resplendent from thine Orient.37
6 He Who is the Desire of the World wished, through His consummate wisdom, to fulfil the promises of the Prophets uttered some two or three thousand years ago. He roused up His enemies and made them the instruments of His all-swaying power, so that they might uproot their foundations with their own hands and banish this resplendent Light from the niche of its native land, that thereby its radiance might shine upon the Holy Land and the promises of the Prophets be fulfilled, this sacred vale might be made the gathering place of the friends of God and these hallowed precincts become the focal centre of the celestial arena, and the light of Divine Unity might shine forth and the darkness of ignorance be dispelled. This, verily, proceedeth from the consummate wisdom and manifold bounties of your Lord and the all-encompassing mercy of the Beloved of your hearts.
1 O thou beloved scion of him that hath been immersed in the ocean of divine forgiveness! A long time hath passed since I last wrote. This hath been due to the numerous occupations that deny me a single free moment and that are, moreover, compounded by woes and trials. Among other things, in these days ‘Abdu’l-Bahá hath once again been confined to prison in ‘Akká by reason of the great mischief stirred up by the people of malice and the lengthy letters teeming with disruptive charges against him that they have dispatched to Constantinople, as well as other devices to which they have resorted and which it is not advisable to mention here. Those who are prey to pride and vainglory had hoped that this calamity would only afflict ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, oblivious that by their actions they shall cast themselves into the pit of everlasting disappointment and misery, and that they too shall suffer imprisonment.
2 This episode is similar in every respect to that of Yaḥyá. He too imagined that his sedition would cause harm and injury to the Blessed Beauty. It was for this reason that he sent Siyyid Muḥammad to Constantinople and resorted to innumerable ploys and devices, until at last he exposed Bahá’u’lláh to great danger. But as soon as the fire of rebellion blazed, it immediately consumed Yaḥyá’s own home. He was exiled from Adrianople, even before the Blessed Beauty. “They lost both this world and the world to come; and this, verily, is but evident loss.”38
3 ‘Abdu’l-Bahá exulteth with boundless joy at these trials and tribulations, inasmuch as after the Ascension of the Abhá Beauty the loved ones of God find their happiness in tumult and trouble, and their felicity in ceaseless afflictions. That is, the depths of the pit are for them the apex of heaven, and the straw mat of hardship is a kingly throne. Confinement in bonds and fetters is their highest aspiration, and captivity in stocks and chains their true freedom and a source of incomparable joy and delight.
4 It is evident that the joy of these homeless wanderers is not found in music or song or play, but rather consisteth in long-suffering in the face of hardships, patience in the midst of calamities, detachment from all created things, exaltation of the Word of God, and diffusion of the holy fragrances. Verily, this is grace abounding, and verily, this is manifest bounty. Upon thee be greetings and praise. Dispatch thou copies of this letter to far and near.
1 O ye loving friends of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá! It is early morning and I have returned to Haifa from the Shrine of the Báb—may my soul be offered up for His dust. I spent last night within the precincts of His exalted Sanctuary, and through the blessings of that sacred Shrine, I was filled with boundless fervour and joy throughout the night. The sweet savours of holiness wafting from His resplendent Sepulchre so perfumed my soul and caused my heart to quiver that my thoughts turned towards you spiritual friends, and I began to write this letter. Despite countless concerns and manifold vicissitudes, I have set all aside and called to mind the countenance and character of the beloved of my heart and soul. Consider how great is my affection for you!
2 Your city was honoured for a long time by the footsteps of the Blessed Beauty.39 Tablets were revealed continually therein, and those who attained His presence hearkened to His blessed Words. Among them was a well-known Persian who associated with Him. This person was secretly an intimate and close companion of the Ambassador, who sought his counsel on various matters. The Blessed Beauty was forbearing towards this man and turned a blind eye to his behaviour. And he, imagining Bahá’u’lláh to be unaware of his hidden motives, professed devotion to Him.
3 Finally, one day the Blessed Beauty addressed him thus: “I have a message for his Excellency the Ambassador. Convey it to him, saying, ‘Thou hast done thine utmost to shed Our blood and hast imagined thyself capable of uprooting this sacred Tree. But how far, how very far is this from the truth! This blessed Tree is immovable and its roots are firmly fixed; no axe can sever them, even should all the kings of the earth arise with all their might to do so. Though I stand alone and forsaken, yet I single-handedly withstand the world and all the peoples and governments thereof. Erelong, these dark clouds shall be dispelled and the Sun of Truth shall shine resplendent in the plenitude of its glory. Yea, indeed ye can take My life, and that would be the greatest gift of God, for it is through blood that this blessed Tree doth grow and flourish. Ye had imagined that if the Exalted One—may the souls of all on earth be offered up for Him—were martyred, this Divine Edifice would be subverted. Therefore did ye make His sacred breast the target of a thousand bullets. But ye then saw the Cause of God become more manifest and its light stream out even brighter, such that it hath now reached Constantinople!
4 “‘Do ye then imagine that if ye were to cut the throat of Bahá and spill the blood of this people, the flame of the Lord’s burning Fire would be extinguished? God forbid! Nay, rather, the Word of God would be further exalted, and the Sun of Truth would be revealed in still greater splendour. Soon the day shall come when ye shall all be doomed to disappointment and loss. Carry out whatsoever is in your power. O Áqá Mírzá! All this injustice, this hostility, animosity, and cruel tyranny is, in Our estimation, nothing more than the buzzing of a gnat. We attach no importance, therefore, to thy rancour or cruelty. “And they who act unjustly shall soon know what lot awaiteth them.”40 We paid no attention whatsoever to thee or to the Ottoman government when We arrived in Constantinople. This fact alone should awaken thee to the truth that Our trust is placed in the power of God and His dominion, and in naught else. All kings are but His subjects, and all such as thee are immersed in a sea of loss and perdition. In time ye shall behold it. Persia shall fall into ruin, and her government and people shall be afflicted with dire hardship. We, however, have shed illumination upon that land, and have desired eternal glory for her people. Though at this time Persia standeth obscure amongst the nations, the day shall come when this mighty Cause will have made her people most honoured and esteemed by the whole world.’” In brief, the Blessed Beauty continued to speak in such severe terms. That person left and never returned.
5 Now, praise be to God, a fragrant breeze hath wafted over Constantinople which shall perfume that land with musk. The friends must conduct themselves with the utmost constancy, steadfastness, and wisdom, and remain perfectly assured. My fervent hope is that each one of them may become even as a brilliant light, and that the Divine Teachings, which are the source of illumination for humanity and the cause of the peace and tranquillity of the world, may be diffused with the utmost wisdom. This sea is turbulent and its tides are mounting high. I implore Him tearfully at eventide and at dawn, supplicating His unfailing aid and assistance for the beloved of the Lord. The Glory of Glories rest upon you.
1 O ye dear friends of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá! After his visit to the Sacred Threshold, and the Centre round which circle in adoration the Concourse on high, Jináb-i-Fárúqí came to stay with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and was for a few days his companion. He was in a state of supplication to the Abhá Kingdom, and of ardent devotion to the Concourse on high. He recalled the friends of God one by one, and with an aching heart and tearful eyes begged that a special letter be written to each of them.
2 But ‘Abdu’l-Bahá hath not a moment’s calm nor an instant’s rest; he hath no free time whatsoever. Were he to divide his time into the minutest of fractions and dedicate each of them to communicating and corresponding with a different group, he would still be unequal to the task. Praised be God! The believers throughout the East and the West are surging like the waves of the sea, requiring at least ten contingents of secretaries to reply to their letters in an adequate manner. It is, therefore, not possible, alas, to fully satisfy the request of each and every pilgrim. As a result, I am abashed and filled with shame and embarrassment, wondering in what tongue to voice my excuse to Jináb-i-Fárúqí. I have found no recourse but to write one detailed letter collectively to all the friends, so that several copies may be made thereof and presented to each of the believers. No remedy is there now but to make do.41 There is a well-known saying: “The part testifieth to the whole, and the drop telleth of the pool.”
3 And now, in these days when the Lord’s burning Fire hath set the world ablaze, when the light of His effulgent glory hath illumined the East and the West, when the pervasive influence of His Word hath dazzled every mind and the Cause of God hath gained such ascendancy as to leave no peril or reason to fear, the claimants have seized the chance to enter the arena.42 Those who until now had remained silent in their corner of oblivion, those frightened bats that had, from the pulpit-tops of Iṣfahán and Ṭihrán, recanted their faith in the Báb—may my life be offered up for Him—have now rushed forward to lay claim to primacy. They have stealthily convinced a few heedless ones of their claims and scattered the seeds of doubt. They are now hounding this and that person in the utmost secrecy, either to deflect him from the straight path or to harm him in some other way.
4 Friends and strangers alike know that, during the days of peril, the leader of these people roamed throughout the land in the guise of a dervish and went about, bowl in hand, asking for “alms for the sake of God”. After the episode of Ṣádiq and Náṣiri’d-Dín Sháh,43 he abandoned the believers in the district of Núr to the threat of the sword and chains, and fled at once into hiding in Mázindarán and Gílán. He tied a cord round his head, put on the cloak of a dervish, and, adopting the name “Darvísh-‘Alí”, roamed the plains and mountains until such time as the Blessed Beauty was banished to Iraq. He then followed Bahá’u’lláh to Baghdad, taking shelter under His protection but still in hiding and in abject fear of everyone.
5 Subsequently, the Blessed Beauty left for Kurdistan. The early believers of Iraq and Persia are all well aware that, during the absence of the Most Great Name, Mírzá Yaḥyá travelled in disguise in the regions of Súqu’sh-Shuyúkh and Basra, under the name of Ḥájí ‘Alí. He carried some Arab slippers and thus became known as Ḥájí ‘Alí the shoe-seller. Later he proceeded to Najaf, bought some silk, and was referred to as the silk merchant. He even dressed in Arab garb and abandoned his Persian name. During the two-year absence of the Blessed Beauty, the Cause of God was left with neither name nor fame.
6 In the aftermath of the martyrdom of the Báb, and during the absence of the Desired One, that unchaste one engaged in such a disgraceful act as would have been repulsive even to the notorious Ghayúr of Baghdad.44 That is, after the martyrdom of the Báb, he wedded the wife of the Exalted One, the Mother of the Faithful, marriage to whom had, according to His explicit statement, been forbidden to all.45 And as if that dishonour were not enough, when he found her not to his liking, he presented that honourable lady—the sister of Mullá Rajab-‘Alí and the wife of the Báb—to Siyyid Muḥammad-i-Iṣfahání. This was the extent of his exertions, his claim to might, power, and fame: to busy himself, by day and by night, in multiplying the number of his wives. He even summoned his own wife’s sister, Ruqíyyih Khánum, from Mázindarán, and married her too, thus being “married to two sisters at the same time”.46 He also wed the sister of Mírzá Naṣru’lláh-i-Tafrishí. The mother of Mírzá Aḥmad, too, was one of his lawful wives, and he further entered into matrimony with the daughter of an Arab, thus transgressing the limits set by the clear text of the Bayán. These are his numerous marriages in Baghdad alone and do not include the ones in Ṭihrán and Mázindarán. Should ye investigate the matter, the truth of this verse would be made clear and evident: “He was calamity itself, that huntsman who passed through our grove.”47 We shall not expatiate further on this matter. The point is simply that that “paragon of chastity”48 carried out such acts as are contrary to the explicit Text revealed by the Merciful Lord, and spent his days and nights in these vain pursuits.
7 Dear God! In what way did he assist the Faith during this time? How did he serve the Cause of the Most Exalted One? Is there anyone who could claim to have been taught the Faith by him? Was he able, during his forty years in Cyprus, to guide a single soul? Nay, he was incapable of educating even his own children. Could greater incapacity be conceived than this? “They call upon that beside God which can neither hurt them nor profit them. Surely, bad the lord, and, surely, bad the vassal!”49
8 When the Blessed Beauty returned from Kurdistan, only a small band of believers had remained in Persia, and those in Iraq had grown dispirited and had sunk into apathy. Not a murmur was heard anywhere, nor a single sound. Any believers who were still present were in the depths of apprehension, fear, and despair. Upon His arrival in Baghdad, however, the Most Great Name flung open the doors and issued a universal summons. The call of God was raised and the fame of His Cause noised abroad. Day and night, the leaders and the learned from amongst all peoples attained His holy presence. The flow of questions and answers was constant, and one and all testified to the sufficiency of His replies.
9 As a result, fear and dread caused Náṣiri’d-Dín Sháh to grow impatient and agitated. He resorted to every measure, and wrote a letter in his own hand to Sulṭán ‘Abdu’l-‘Azíz requesting the banishment of the Blessed Beauty beyond Baghdad. He claimed that Persia was in danger, that the government was greatly alarmed, and that harm would ultimately befall both governments. Thereupon, ‘Abdu’l-‘Azíz issued his decree for the departure of the Blessed Beauty. Yet, although subject to banishment and exile, Bahá’u’lláh nevertheless moved with the utmost dominion to the garden of Najíb Páshá, where for twelve days the Cause of God was exalted to such an extent that the Governor, Námiq Páshá; all the high-ranking officers of the army and the province; the country’s religious dignitaries; and the nation’s notables came by day and by night to attain His presence. All this, notwithstanding the fact that He was, to outward seeming, an exile! Yet the pervading influence of the Cause of God, the sublimity of His Word, and the diffusion of the divine fragrances were such that those few days were passed in intense joy and delight, and the Riḍván Festival was inaugurated. Bahá’u’lláh then departed with the utmost sovereignty, and to this all the people of Iraq bear witness and testify.
10 But that “paragon of chastity”, dressed in the garb of a dervish and accompanied by a certain Arab named Ẓáhir, at one time contemplated journeying to India, and at another considered travelling to the regions of Egypt. He finally sent word, saying, “I am afraid to stay here after your departure, so I will hasten to Mosul and await your arrival there.” At that time, it was rumoured that the Blessed Beauty and the company of His followers were to be delivered up to the Persian authorities in Karkúk, a city between Mosul and Baghdad, near the Persian border. For this reason, he said that he would join us in Mosul, because he assumed that whatever was to transpire would take place before our arrival in that city.
11 When we reached Mosul, a tent was pitched on the bank of the Tigris, where the notables of the city, officials, and others flocked in groups to His blessed presence. One night the above-mentioned Arab, Ẓáhir, arrived, saying that the individual in question was lodged at an inn outside the city and wished to meet with someone. My uncle Mírzá Músá went in the middle of the night to meet him. Mírzá Yaḥyá enquired about his own family and was told that they were among the companions and had their own tent, and that he could join them, should he so wish. He said, “I do not at all consider it advisable for me to do so, but there is a caravan which will be leaving at the same time as yours, and I will be among that group.” Thus did he reach Díyár-Bakr, with a black cord round his head and an alms-bowl in his hand, consorting only with the Arabs and Turks in the caravan. At Díyár-Bakr he sent word, saying, “I will spend the nights with my family and will return to my caravan in the morning.” This too was carried out. Since Ḥájí Siyyid Muḥammad knew him from before, he recognized him on sight and visited him, saying that he was a Persian dervish and an acquaintance of his. But as the other friends had not seen Mírzá Yaḥyá before, they did not at first recognize him.
12 So it was, until a disagreement arose between him and Siyyid Muḥammad. At that juncture, the “paragon of chastity” came into the presence of the believers who are still with us, and complained about Siyyid Muḥammad. When Siyyid Muḥammad entered Bahá’u’lláh’s presence, he said, “I disagree with him on a particular question. He saith that a Mirror always sheddeth light, and I say that it is possible for a Mirror to become veiled; it shineth as long as it is turned towards the Sun, but the moment it turneth away it becometh dark.”50 The Blessed Beauty rebuked the Siyyid, saying, “Why dost thou dispute and argue and cause strife in the company of the friends?”
13 Subsequently Bahá’u’lláh’s convoy arrived, in the utmost dominion, at the Seat of the Royal Throne,51 and He comported Himself with all-sufficing glory. The Most Great Name did not meet with any of the ministers or representatives, nor did He pay them the least attention.
1 O thou who art steadfast in the Covenant! Thy letter of 12 Dhi’l-Qa‘dih 133752 was received, but the earlier one hath not arrived. Thou hast written that, as a result of the attacks of the enemies, thou and thy father were forced to leave your home.
2 It hath ever been thus: Abraham departed from His native land, but His departure became the cause of joy. Moses was sent far from His homeland, but that exile led Him to behold the Fire upon Sinai. Joseph was made a homeless wanderer in Egypt, but He rose from the depths of the pit to reach the apex of heaven. Jesus was forced to leave the Holy Land for Egypt, but this separation became the cause of blessings. Muḥammad fled from Mecca to Medina, but His flight resulted in victory. The Báb was likewise banished from Shíráz to the banks of the river Araxes, but auspicious indeed were the results of His banishment! The Blessed Beauty—may my soul be offered up for His loved ones—was exiled from Persia to Iraq, thence to Constantinople, and later to the Land of Mystery,53 before being transferred to the Most Great Prison. All these successive banishments became the cause of the illumination of the East and the West. Now ye too have suffered your share of banishment and exile; rest assured that great results shall ensue. Praise be to God that Munír, like the resplendent morn, hath become radiant and illumined with the splendours of teaching the Cause!
3 As to thy question: Know thou that in all created things sweetness and bitterness are accidental attributes. That which, through its elemental composition, appealeth to the sense of taste is conceived as sweet by the palate, and that which runneth counter to it tasteth bitter. These are both accidental attributes; they are not due to any difference in essence.
4 Man, however, hath a twofold station: one luminous, the other dark; one pertaining to the realm of the Divine, the other to the world of nature; one inclined towards heavenly virtues, the other towards satanic qualities. For man standeth on the demarcation line between light and darkness. In the circle of existence, he is situated at the lowest point, which marketh at once the end of the arc of descent and the beginning of the arc of ascent. For this reason, he is free to move in either direction: towards light or darkness, towards ignorance or guidance—depending on the one that prevaileth. Should the rational faculty prevail, man would shine radiantly and occupy a lofty station in the realms on high. And should the self and the lower nature prevail, the result would be darkness and he would fall into the nethermost fire. For in man the powers of the heavenly Kingdom and the forces of his animal nature are at war until one or the other doth triumph. The Glory of Glories rest upon thee.
1 O tender twig of the blessed Tree! Thy numerous letters have been received, and their spiritual meanings were honey-sweet upon the palate of the soul. All praise be unto the All-Glorious Lord, Who, through the fragrant breezes wafting from His Abhá Kingdom, hath revived and refreshed that verdant branch, that tender twig, and hath graciously aided thee to strive in the path of His good-pleasure.
2 O thou who art attracted to the divine fragrances! The resplendent Beauty of the Almighty, the radiant Sun of the Realm of Glory, hath arisen above the horizon of the world, shedding the lights of sanctity upon both East and West. Though possessed of immortal glory and holiness, that hallowed Being endured manifold trials and tribulations and accepted every affliction and calamity. He tasted deadly poison from every cup and drank bitter venom from every chalice. He was bound in chains and fetters and held in iron shackles. In the dungeon, His companions were criminals, and His associates transgressors and evildoers. He was subjected to vengeance and torment; He was banished from His native land and exiled to Iraq, and thence to Adrianople. He was beset by denial and disdain and suffered at the hand of every oppressor. He was made a target for the darts of hatred and malice and was assaulted by the shafts of hostility and injustice. He was consigned to the Most Great Prison and condemned to its oppressive confines. At all times, He was under the threat of sword and spear, a captive and a prisoner.
3 His one and only purpose in accepting such trials and tribulations for His blessed Self was to instruct the lovers in the ways of love and teach the longing souls the art of servitude, to guide the yearning ones to the right path and summon the friends with words such as these: “If ye lay claim to faith and certitude, if ye are enthralled by the Beauty of the Merciful and have surrendered your hearts to His delightful splendour, if ye are enraptured by His Countenance and ensnared by His flowing locks, drink deep of the cup of woe as if it were the chalice of immortality, and welcome the sting of death as the elixir of life. Abandon all rest and comfort, and turn away from the defilement of this world. Consider the desert thorn as the softest silk, and regard the scorching fire as a flowering rose-garden. Drink the brine of bitter torment as if it were a fresh and thirst-quenching draught, regard the point of the arrow as a wellspring of life-giving waters, and yearn for the sword and shaft as ye would the nectar of peace and security. Be ye exhilarated with the wine of tribulation, and take pleasure and delight in the sweetness of affliction.”
4 Given these trials and tribulations of the Blessed Beauty—may my life be a ransom for the earth ennobled by the footsteps of His loved ones—can we yearn for any greater gift than affliction in His path? Can we seek any balm other than a wound suffered for His sake, or any remedy except pain itself? Can we wish for any refuge save moments of fear, or any haven other than occasions of abasement? Can we hasten to any field but the arena of sacrifice, or desire any solace for our souls save the blade of tyranny? Nay, by Him Whose might extendeth over all things!
5 O my Lord! Graciously assist me to remain faithful and steadfast in Thy Cause amidst all peoples. Aid me to drain the cup of woe, to be immersed beneath an ocean of trials and tribulations, to drink deep from the chalice of affliction, and to be invigorated by the gentle breaths of faithfulness in Thy path, O Thou in Whose grasp are the kingdoms of earth and heaven! Thou, verily, art the All-Bountiful, the Most Exalted.
6 Read thou this letter in the gatherings of the friends.
1 O ye two handmaidens of Bahá! The Ancient Beauty, the Most Great Name—may my life, my soul, and mine inmost being be offered up for His sacred dust—was burdened with anguish at every breath. At one time, He was a captive to unyielding cruelty, and at another, a target to the darts of woe. At one time, He was a wanderer on the plain of Badasht, and at another He suffered the tribulations of Níyálá. At one point, He was bound with chains and shackles, and afflicted by grievous torment in Ámul; at another He had for associates His most despicable and cruel enemies. By day He was assailed by sorrow and grief in Karbilá; by night He lay within the embrace of afflictions in the camp of adversity. One day, He was conducted in chains, with bared head and bare feet, all the way from Shimírán to Ṭihrán. There He remained in confinement for four months, weighed down with fetters and irons and threatened at every breath by blades and arrows. At another time, He was exiled to Iraq, and at yet another He roamed the wilderness of Kurdistan, where the birds of the air and the beasts of the field were His only companions. For many a long year, He was beset from all sides by the onslaught of His foes in Baghdad, and was encompassed by the fiercest woes and troubles. Every day brought a fresh adversity, and every night season an arduous calamity. Not for a moment did He rest; not for a second did He find repose. He was then exiled to the Great City54 and was pierced by the arrows of gross calumny. Men of high rank and stature arose, one and all, to denigrate Him, whilst the leaders of nations were intent upon His demise. Thereupon they banished Him to the Land of Mystery, where they submerged Him in dire adversities and woeful tribulations.
2 At this time, the one whom He had, with loving-kindness, nurtured in His own bosom ever since his earliest years, the one upon whom He had showered at every moment His tender care, rose up against Him with passionate hatred and assailed Him like a horde of calamities. Mírzá Yaḥyá even attempted to shed the sacred blood of the Ancient Beauty, and like a venomous viper he pierced the blessed body of Bahá’u’lláh. Mírzá Yaḥyá then began to moan and lament, and raised the cry of the oppressed, claiming to be an innocent victim and alleging that he had been most grievously wronged. He wailed and groaned, sighed and moaned. And like the envious brothers, he cast the Joseph of the Egypt of Existence into the depths of a darksome pit. He then raised a plaintive cry, sobbed and wept, and made manifest the verse “And they came at nightfall to their father weeping.”55 And then he began to keep company with the estranged, and became a confidant of the enemies. He accused the Peerless Beauty of having committed mischief and sedition, and he circulated leaflets of falsified Text amongst the malicious. All this, in order to extinguish the candle of the Company on high, consign the celestial Teachings to oblivion, turn the Morn of divine Oneness into night, and cause the Day-Star of Truth to set, the verses of guidance to be annulled, and the banquet table of the Eternal Covenant to be brought to naught.
3 Thus, confinement in the Most Great Prison came to pass, and inexorable adversity ensued. The Wronged One of the worlds fell prey to the people of iniquity, and suffered fresh trials and new afflictions at every hour. Every door was shut and every way was barred. The darts of tyranny descended upon Him in ceaseless showers from every land, and the swords of iniquity were drawn against His luminous and ethereal Being by the hosts of the earth. In brief, at each breath He was beset by the cruelty of a capricious foe, and at every moment He was afflicted and oppressed by a fresh sorrow, until at last His Countenance was veiled from the horizon of the world and shone forth from the firmament of the Placeless. And now, from the horizon of that Kingdom, He beholdeth how the hosts of this nether world have launched their assault upon His lonely servant, and how the rising tide of tribulation hath engulfed His forsaken bondslave. I swear by His exalted Essence that the eyes of the Concourse on high weep with a great weeping, and the lamentations of the dwellers of the Abhá Kingdom have stirred the realities of earth and heaven. For the trials that have afflicted this servant are innumerable, even as thou knowest and dost witness.
4 Let not your hearts be saddened by this calamity, nor grieved over this affliction that hath come to pass. Set your hearts upon the mercy and the loving-kindness of the Abhá Beauty—may my life, my soul, and mine inmost being be offered up for His loved ones. Rejoice in His glad-tidings, and take delight in His manifold favours. The ocean of His favours is limitless, and the sweet savours of His bounty spread far and wide. The eye of His tender mercy watcheth over all, and His overflowing grace is vouchsafed unto all, especially unto you who are the remnants of the King of Martyrs and the victims of oppression in the path of the Almighty! The gaze of His particular loving-kindness is directed towards you, and the radiance of His special bounty is cast upon you. Wherefore, render ye thanks unto the Beloved for having been favoured with such bestowals and made the recipients of such mercy. The glory of God rest upon you, O kindred of the King of Martyrs.
1 O beloved friends of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá! No sooner had the Hand of divine power raised the tabernacle of everlasting glory—the tabernacle of the oneness of humanity—in the midmost heart of the world, than He opened wide the portals of supreme mercy before us all, addressed us in hallowed accents in the Hidden Words, honoured us with the title of “O My servants”, associated us with His own Self, and freed us from distress and fear. He spread wide the banquet table of bounty and issued a universal invitation. He prepared for us all manner of heavenly food and bestowed upon us divine favours and heavenly gifts. He delivered us from every heavy load and relieved us from every grievous burden. He enjoined upon us only laws, ordinances, and teachings that bestow life to the soul and cause it to draw nigh unto the Best-Beloved.
2 His laws all grant liberation rather than restriction; they confer freedom rather than limitation; they impart joy and radiance rather than constraint. The laws and ordinances of all former religions included the waging of holy war, resorting to bows and arrows, swords and spears, chains and shackles, and the threatening and beheading of every hostile oppressor. But in this wondrous Dispensation, the Blessed Beauty hath delivered the friends from this heavy burden. He abrogated contention and conflict, and even rejected undue insistence. He exhorted us instead to “consort with the followers of all religions in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship”. He ordained that we be loving friends and well-wishers of all peoples and religions, and enjoined upon us to demonstrate the highest virtues in our dealings with the kindreds of the earth. He even regarded enemies as friends, and considered strangers as comrades and intimate companions. What a heavy burden was all that enmity and rancour, all that recourse to sword and spear! Conversely, what joy, what gladness is imparted by loving-kindness!
3 Now, in gratitude for these infinite bestowals, it behoveth us to arise to carry out the counsels and admonitions of the Blessed Beauty, and to act in accordance with His teachings and ordinances. We must strive with heart and soul to drink a brimful cup of this heavenly wine, that our words, our deeds, and our conduct may be those of the righteous. We must show forth love and kindliness, and demonstrate, through our faith and sincerity, that we are all servants of His Threshold, and true and steadfast keepers at His door. We must prove ourselves Bahá’ís in reality, and not merely in words.
4 ‘Abdu’l-Bahá yearneth to join the friends in servitude to the Threshold of Bahá, but he is abashed and doth sigh, lament, and repeat this verse by day and by night: Before the Friend how can I ever lift my face, Abashed that I did naught to befit His grace?56 The Glory of Glories rest upon you.
1 O thou scion of a cherished friend! Thy letter was received in Alexandria. It was long since there had been any news, and so it brought gladness and joy.
2 For forty-three years, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was a prisoner in the city of ‘Akká, during which time he conducted affairs in such manner that even strangers acknowledged them to be, under all circumstances, in accord with the good-pleasure of the peerless Lord. His love, affection, care, and consideration for every soul were such that all the peoples and kindreds marvelled at it; each and all showed the utmost respect and reverence.
3 At first, the decree of the iniquitous sovereign was most harsh, placing Bahá’u’lláh in such strict captivity that even I would be denied access to His holy Presence. Nay more, the Ancient Beauty was to be confined alone and forsaken, and to remain under vigilant watch day and night. However, the conduct of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was such that the pavilion of the Blessed Beauty was finally pitched with utmost dominion and majesty upon Mount Carmel, and His blessed Being came to reside outside the citadel of ‘Akká, living with the utmost might and honour in the only mansion of that region, utterly detached from all others.
4 Indeed, the Governor of ‘Akká pursued me unrelentingly for five years, begging permission to attain His holy Presence, but the Blessed Beauty would not grant him leave to do so. One day, this servant set out to attain the presence of Bahá’u’lláh, and started walking from ‘Akká towards the Mansion. All the officials and even the Governor himself accompanied me on foot. The Governor, Abáẓih Páshá, happened to be a stout and corpulent man. Sweat began to pour off him as he walked, and it was in such a state that we arrived at the Mansion. The Blessed Beauty—may my life be offered up for His loved ones—did not even deign to enquire after them.
5 There was a time when another governor arose against us in hostility, and took sides with the government commission. This governor induced someone to send secretly a document containing strange allegations against us to the royal court, which then returned the document and called for an inquiry. The Governor and the delegation subsequently wrote a harshly worded report, evincing great enmity and hatred towards us. However, this servant dismissed the Governor and the delegation. Such was the degree of our influence, as is known to friend and stranger alike.
6 Now our so-called friends have brought matters to such a pass that we must be forbearing even with a low-ranking officer. They have carried their flattery to such extremes that it hath become necessary to waste all our time, spending our days and nights countering their slanders. These friends are continuously seeking every means in their power to hurl grievous calumnies at ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, that perchance he may be banished from the city of ‘Akká and they may find a vast arena in which to spur on their chargers.
7 I have, however, of mine own accord undertaken a journey to this land57 and have left the arena to them, so that it may become evident that, even in my absence, they are not and never shall be capable of making a move, however inconsiderable, except to flatter this or that person. Even should the nightingale forsake the rose-garden, the raven and the crow would still not acquire any charm.
8 In brief, we are at present engaged in serving the Sacred Threshold in this country, and we fain would hope that this journey may yield fruit, and that we may advance and exert ourselves in the field of servitude. Pray ye fervently, and with tears supplicate His Kingdom of sanctity, that in thraldom to the Threshold of Bahá this servant may be, however slightly, delivered from shame. Perchance, God willing, he may be graciously aided to attain a dewdrop of the ocean of servitude, for thus far he hath achieved naught but regret. If it please God, perchance aid and confirmation from the Abhá Kingdom may be vouchsafed unto him in the days to come, and this cherished hope may be fulfilled, if only to a small degree.
9 Praise be to God that thou, the son of one who is well favoured at the Threshold of the Lord, art attracted to the Kingdom of Abhá. Should thy business bring thee on a journey to these regions, perhaps we may meet undisturbed in this vast land.
10 Thou didst write regarding the gatherings of the friends held every Sunday for the purpose of reading the holy verses and reciting prayers. This brought immense gladness and joy to my heart.
11 Convey my Abhá greetings to the humble and well-favoured handmaid of God, thy mother, and to thy brothers. Convey also my heartfelt greetings to Jináb-i-‘Abdu’l-Mihdí—upon him rest the glory of God, the All-Glorious. Give him my warmest love, and tell him on my behalf: “The clamour and tumult raised by that furtive man is of less significance than the buzzing of a fly. Thou art well aware of the root cause of the shame and abasement that he hath chosen for himself. Those who went before him in bygone centuries serve as a lesson for him.58 Yet, alas, alas! How the veils of tyranny have covered their eyes! Erelong will they find themselves condemned to utter loss. Verily this is the truth, and naught is there beside the truth but grievous error.”
12 This person saw how the pre-eminent leaders of the past fell into ruin as a result of their deviation, and to what a state of utter loss they were reduced. Despite this, he was not chastened; he continueth to attempt these futile deeds. After the advent of the Spirit,59 there appeared individuals such as Arius who had a million followers. These people later disappeared without a trace, and no sign of them remaineth. The glory of God rest upon thee.