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Light of the World

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34

He is God.

1 O ye twin shining stars! Praise be to God, for your faces are resplendent with the light of guidance, and your dispositions are pleasing and favoured at the Divine Threshold.

2 Ye have asked for permission to come on a visit. The Holy Land is indeed the niche from which the Light shineth, the lamp in which the Sinaic Flame is burning. In this sacred land the Blessed Beauty unveiled His countenance, and from it He addressed Tablets and proclamations unto all the kings and rulers of the earth. To attain the honour of pilgrimage is the cherished desire of His lovers, and to circle round His Shrine the highest hope of those who yearn after Him. Yet, service to His Threshold rendered in your land is also among the supreme aspirations of those who are nigh unto Him. Nevertheless, the choice is yours. The Glory of Glories rest upon thee.

35

He is the All-Glorious.

1 O ye true friends! The letters ye wrote, the pages ye penned, and the names ye mentioned were all received in the Holy Land; they have all been attentively perused, and their most pleasing contents have been noted.

2 Praise be to God that through the grace and favour of the Ancient Beauty—may my life be offered up for His loved ones—such servants have been gathered beneath the standard of the Covenant as have perfumed the world through the gentle breezes wafting from the gardens of their hearts, and flooded the realm of splendours with the light shining from their faces. They are the manifestations of the manifold bounties of the ever-living Lord and the exponents of the signs and tokens of the Great Announcement. They are the dawning-places of the stars of guidance and the daysprings of the mysteries of loving-kindness, the sweet savours of the rose-gardens of Divine Unity and the fragrances of the meads of Oneness, the immovable mountains of the Covenant and Testament and the wellsprings of the soft-flowing waters of joy and certitude, the fruitful trees of the paradise of faith and the birds of holiness soaring above the meadows of understanding, the shining lamps in the assemblage of divine mysteries and the embodiments of purity in the gathering of the righteous. They are graciously aided by the hosts of the Abhá Kingdom and favoured with the assistance of the angels of the celestial Concourse.

3 O ye loved ones of the Abhá Beauty! O ye friends of the Almighty Lord! Unloose your tongues in thanksgiving for this supreme bestowal, and render praise unto the peerless Lord that ye were singled out for this grace and favour, and numbered amongst those who have attained the heights of servitude. Gird up the loins of endeavour, and step into the circle of the angels of the paradise of Oneness. Thus may ye, on the shores of the Most Great Ocean, net the fish that thirst for the seas of divine knowledge and, in the fields of unity, catch the gazelles that seek the meads of reality, so that through the unfailing aid and bounty of the Lord, ye may gather together all nations beneath the shade of the Word of Oneness. Thus may the fragrances of God spread through the East and the West, and the magnetic forces of the All-Merciful stir the world of being into motion. Thus may the mysteries of this holy Cycle be made manifest, the signs of the Dispensation of the Most Great Name be revealed, the garden of the world be rendered fertile, and the orchard of creation bear luscious fruits. Thus may the candle of Divine Unity be kindled, contingent limitations be consumed away by a single flame of the Lord’s burning Fire, the lights of guidance shine, and the darkness of ignorance and blindness be utterly obliterated.

4 When Christ winged His flight unto the limitless realms, He left behind eleven disciples. As they arose, with a seeing eye and a hearing ear, with an eloquent tongue and an unshakeable resolve, to magnify the Word of God, they so flourished that each became like unto the tree whose “root is firmly fixed, and whose branches reach unto heaven, yielding its fruit in all seasons”.60 Simon Cephas,61 who was the shining moon amongst those stars of guidance, was to outward seeming no more than a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee. And yet, because he arose with fixed resolve and the utmost vigour to spread the signs of God and gather together the righteous, the light of his servitude shone with such brilliance above the horizon of existence that the very sun and moon were left bewildered, and circled, moth-like, around that resplendent candle.

5 Now, upon His ascension, the Ancient Beauty—may my life be offered up for His Most Great Name—left behind some fifty thousand believers upon this swiftly passing world. He educated them, one and all, through the sweet scents of holiness, opened the doors of manifold grace before their faces, nurtured them in the bosom of His loving-kindness, and taught them the lessons of the spirit in the school of insight. Would it not be regrettable if we were to sit dispirited or remain lost and bewildered, if we were to prefer the path of comfort and repose, seeking freedom from all cares? This is not faithfulness! This is not sincerity! This is not the path of guidance!

6 Erelong our days shall draw to a close, and the birds of the meadows shall carol the anthem of departure. Erelong the lamp of health shall be quenched, the darkness of death shall prevail, and the resplendent morn of the life to come shall dawn. Let us then strive with earnest endeavour to arrive at the heavenly Kingdom with radiant faces and, in the Realm of Glory, be admitted into the circle of those who have remained fast and firm. Consider what a fire of guidance eleven souls kindled on the summits of the world when they endured all manner of woes and trials and arose with all their hearts! Now, were we to arise as we ought, armed with the assured confirmations of the Abhá Kingdom, what splendours would be made manifest and what results would ensue! I swear by the Beauty of the All-Praised, by His upraised standard, and by His sheltering shade, that such a conflagration would blaze up in the heart of the world as would melt the very rocks and clods of earth.

7 O friends, make ye a mighty effort! O loved ones, arise and bestir yourselves! Occupy yourselves not with the tales and accounts of those who waver in the Covenant, for these are but confused dreams and idle and childish talk. Speak of them that are steadfast, and tread the path of them that stand unwaveringly firm! The duty of long years of love obey, And tell the tale of blissful days gone by.62

36

He is the Most Glorious.

1 O thou verdant, fresh, and radiant leaf! Were we to weep and moan for a hundred thousand years at this Supreme Affliction,63 to sigh and lament, to rend our garments in sorrow, to shed tears and heap dust upon our heads, and to pine away with grief, this pain would never be stilled, this wound never healed, this fire never quenched. It behoveth us, therefore, to see ourselves, at every breath, as standing ready to depart to the next world, and to arise to carry out that which is conducive to eternal life and would cause us to ascend unto the Kingdom and to attain the court of His Presence. The glory of God rest upon thee.

37

He is God.

1 O thou who hast fixed thy gaze upon the Kingdom of Glory! The splendour of the Beauty of the world illumined the whole earth, conferring heavenly grace upon all created things. The Beloved of the world shone forth, captivating His lovers with His charm. And now, though that Sun hath set, He still shineth resplendent from the unseen Kingdom, continuing to bestow eternal grace upon all regions. Those that are possessed of insight perceive the world to be illumined with the splendours of the Sun of Truth. But those whose inner eye is dimmed are deprived of beholding the light: They pronounce day to be night and proclaim morn to be eve.

2 Say: O hapless one! That Sun shall never set, nor shall that Day-Star of the Realm of Glory ever wane. The setting of the sun is only in relation to the dwellers of the earth, for how can there be any daybreak or nightfall in the sun itself? It remaineth ever shining in its meridian splendour, ever glowing and luminous, at the sublime apex of bounty. The Glory of Glories rest upon thee.

38

He is the All-Glorious.

1 Those loved ones of God who have turned from the Mosaic gulf towards the ocean of the Almighty Lord and the billowing waters of His Ancient Beauty have at all times been remembered in the court of His manifold bounties and in the presence of the Lord of Hosts. Now that the Day-Star of the heaven of holiness hath ascended unto the Most Exalted Kingdom and dawned above the horizon of the all-glorious Concourse, every firm and constant believer is mentioned in that Realm of sanctity in the august presence of the Beloved.

2 Despair not over this grievous calamity, this dire affliction. For although the Ancient Beauty is now hidden from the horizon of the world, His light shineth forth from the heaven of eternity, in the Most Great Kingdom. Was the eternal radiance that shone forth from the horizon of Moses in bygone days extinguished after He ascended to the realms above? Nay, by the righteousness of the Lord! It rose and shone even more intensely, and the bright flame of the remembrance of God blazed even higher. Now once again, ye shall behold how the resplendent lights of Divine Unity will erelong envelop the kingdom of existence, and the ensigns of His words will be raised upon the loftiest heights of the realities of all beings.

3 Esther was a woman; when she was favoured with pure intent and turned her gaze unto the Lord, what services she was enabled to render! Now behold the tomb of this woman of noble birth, and consider the myriads of mighty kings who ruled over Persia, Transoxania, and other countries in the world. Neither name nor fame nor trace doth remain of any of those kings; all have faded into utter nothingness and have been utterly abased. Yet, as this woman who was the pride of all men drew a breath in the path of the All-Merciful, the influence of her actions still endureth, and her name is, to this day, mentioned amongst the loved ones of God. Take ye good heed, O people of insight!

39

He is God.

1 O Thou Whose exalted Threshold is my haven and my refuge, Whose hallowed Sanctuary is my shelter and my abode! I entreat Thee, with a heart aglow with the fire of Thy love, and with eyes streaming with tears in my longing to attain Thy presence, in my yearning to gain admittance into the Kingdom of Thy glory, and in my desire to taste the sweetness of faithfulness to Thee, to graciously aid this servant through the breaths of Thy holiness and the delight of communion with Thee. Render victorious, O my God, by the hosts of Thine all-glorious Kingdom and the waves of the seas of Thine all-encompassing bounty, this servant of Thine, who is enraptured by the company of Thine angels on high and enkindled with the fire of Thy love amidst Thy servants. He is engaged in serving Thy Cause amongst the peoples of the world, and in magnifying Thy name before the ministers and rulers. He is occupied in diffusing Thy sweet savours in gatherings held in remembrance of Thee, and hath hoisted Thy banner amidst the masses. He hath turned his face towards the Court of Thy grandeur, and is illumined with the light of unwavering constancy in Thy Covenant and Testament. He is striving to enable all to remain steadfast in that which Thou hast enjoined upon the entire company of Thy chosen ones, which Thou hast foreordained for them that are dear to Thee, and with which Thou hast sealed Thine ultimate decree.

2 O Lord! Assist him through Thine invisible hosts, and strengthen him with the might of Thy holy angels. Make him a brilliant star, a radiant orb, a manifest light, a breeze from the meadows of Thy glory, a fragrance from the flowers of the plain of Thy mercy, a ray of light from Thy divine Kingdom, a bright beam from the sun of the heaven of Thy Oneness, and a standard rippling on the summits of Thy great majesty and singleness. O Lord! Strengthen his loins by Thy triumphant might, and sustain him amidst the people through Thy glorious sovereignty. Grant that all hearts may be attracted to him, all minds astounded in his presence, and all ears made attentive to his utterance; that, moreover, all eyes may turn their gaze towards his cheerful countenance and all hearts marvel at the brightness of his face. Thou art, verily, the Most Powerful, the Most Exalted, the All-Glorious, the Ever-Forgiving, the Most Compassionate, the All-Loving.

3 In these days, although this lowly one hath no time or respite whatsoever for correspondence, yet the sweet savours of the love of the beloved of God have so enraptured my heart that, when writing, the reins of volition slip from my grasp and the words flow unrestrained. In particular, whenever my thoughts turn towards thee, whose heart is attracted to God, the act of writing bringeth me joy and happiness, and setting pen to paper is conducive to delight. Hardship turneth into gladness of the heart, and toil is transmuted into blessing for the soul.

4 This is the day when we all should gather beneath the shade of the Word of Oneness. Let us burn even as bright candles in every gathering; let us be aflame with the fire of love. Now that the Beauty of the All-Praised hath ascended, and the Day-Star of the Kingdom hath set, whither can we direct our affections, and what comfort can we expect? How are we to find repose, and in what hope can our hearts rejoice? O the pity! A myriad times the pity, if for a single moment we should look for ease or comfort. Alas! A thousand times alas, if we should seek any peace and tranquillity except in trials, tribulations, and suffering sustained in His path.

5 That sanctified Being spent His days in chains and fetters, and lived to the end of His life under the threat of the sword. Not a moment’s rest did He find; not a tranquil breath did He draw. Not for a single night did He repose on a bed of comfort, nor lay His head upon a pillow of ease. Every bird hath a nest, and every creature dwelleth in its abode, while the Blessed Beauty was consumed by the fire of cruelty lit by His enemies. The people of the world are asleep upon the couch of ease, while the Most Great Name found not a moment’s rest, nor drew a single breath in peace. By what standard of fairness or fidelity can we seek repose or pursue comfort and rest?

6 Praise be to God that thou art engaged day and night in serving the Cause of God, and art earnestly striving to diffuse His fragrances and to propagate the splendours of the light of His knowledge. By thy very life! This is a bounty from amongst the bestowals of the Lord, one that no other bounty in the world of being can ever rival. Erelong its splendours shall shine forth and its musk-scented breaths be shed abroad; the gentle breezes of its meadows shall waft and the soft-flowing waters of its fountains flow. Thereupon, thou shalt see those who taunt and mock yielding thanks, and those who sigh and complain rendering praise. Thou shalt behold the envious becoming remorseful, and the slandering women cutting their hands, exclaiming, “Great God! No mortal is this! This is no other than a noble angel.”64 “Verily, there is a prosperous issue to the God-fearing.”65

7 In brief, after His ascension, He Who is the Self-Subsisting was faithful to His promises. He vouchsafed a remedy to heal the hearts, and caused the gentle breezes of joy to waft. He aided His loved ones with the hosts of the unseen, and confirmed them with the power of the Kingdom. He assisted the friends throughout the earth, and succoured His loved ones in every land. The radiance of His glory spread throughout the East, and His influence was made manifest in the West. His enemies were brought low in all regions, and His foes were everywhere left friendless and forlorn. Each mighty one was rendered weak, and every haughty stirrer of mischief was abased, with none to help them.

8 Consider how, through the operation of invisible means, the foolish ones of the earth arose to foment discord and strife, made the government of Persia exasperated, engaged in rebellion, and raised a tumult. It became thereby clear that they were the root of all mischief and the source of all malice. Thus were the promoters of peace distinguished from the seditious, and the ensuing events exposed their hidden secrets. Thus was it made plain that they were wolves in the guise of shepherds and thieves garbed as watchmen, an oppressive darkness in the world and a formidable obstacle to the well-being and prosperity of all.66

9 In like manner, a group of foes gathered in the Great City and sought through every ruse, plot, and stratagem to bring ruin to the Cause of God, to disperse the gathering of His loved ones, and to cause a breach amongst His people.67 I swear by the Ancient Beauty! When that company of foes joined hands with the shameless Jamálu’d-Dín,68 they kindled such a fire of sedition in the Great City that it was feared its flames might reach the lofty abode of Him round Whom circle all that dwell on earth, and that the resulting damage might threaten the very foundations of the Cause of God. Then did the Hand of Omnipotence emerge from His unseen Kingdom and disperse that company in such wise that it was reduced to a handful of scattered dust and condemned to eternal perdition.

10 Therefore, in thanksgiving for His divine confirmations, let us strive by day and by night to exalt His Word, to be consumed by the fire of His love, and to raise our voices in His remembrance and praise. Given such tender mercies, such bestowals, such aid and assistance, how can we remain still? How can we sit silent? O how pitiful it would be, were we to tarry, to hesitate, or to fail to offer up our souls! How pitiful, were we to set our hearts on ephemeral attachments rather than quaff of this mystic wine! Woe unto us should we remain occupied with our selfish desires, busy ourselves with our own earthly concerns, and follow the promptings of such passions as deprive us of these bounties and deny us a portion of these bright effulgences. By my life! This, verily, would be naught but manifest loss.

40

He is the All-Glorious.

1 O God, my God! Thou hearest my sighs and bitter wailing, my cry and the voice of my lamentation in the depths of these darksome nights. Thou seest my abasement and lowliness, my patience and resignation, my poverty and urgent need, my anguish, my distress, my grief, and my sorrows throughout my days.

2 I render Thee thanks, O Lord, for this tribulation, which I deem amongst the greatest of Thy bounties and gifts, for it is endured in the path of Thy love—a love whose flames blaze within my very heart and soul. This is my wish and my hope, O my God. This is a soothing balm for my anguish, O my Best-Beloved; a cooling draught to these parched lips, O my Healer; the remover of my sorrows, O Thou Who art my Friend.

3 I raise my suppliant hands in prayer to Thee, beseeching Thee at every morn and eventide, seeking shelter at Thy sublime and most exalted Threshold, pleading for the intercession of the Primal Point, Him Who is the Word of Thy oneness, Him Whose breast was riddled in Thy path by the myriad bullets fired by the enemies; and I adjure Thee by that hallowed Beauty Whom Thou didst make a companion of Thy divine countenance when the Dayspring of Thy resplendent Sun shone forth upon the Supreme Horizon, to ordain for this servant of Thine the chalice of selflessness from the hands of bounty, to lift the veil so he may ascend towards Thy sublime Threshold within Thine all-glorious Kingdom. Deliver me, then, from the onslaught of the people of malice, from the darts of slander and rancour raining down upon me, from the successive assaults of the arrows of animosity, and from the spears of calumny hurled in continuous succession by the leaders of men. Thou art the God of bounty, the Compassionate, the All-Merciful.

4 O thou friend of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá! Although the Sun of Truth hath set on the horizon of this nether world, yet grace and bounty are His, for He shineth forth with extraordinary brilliance from the hidden realm of souls, above the horizon of the unseen Kingdom.

5 After His ascension, all the governments and peoples of the world expected that His luminous Orb would set and His sheltering shade would be withdrawn. They waited for His upraised standard to be hauled down and the light shining from His brow to fade away and be no more. All grace and bounty are His; for instead, the lamp of His Cause glowed luminous, and the morning light of His loving providence shone resplendent. The Sinai of His oneness was exalted, and the Summit of His singleness was raised to even loftier heights. The standards of His sovereignty were unfurled, and the signs of His might were made clear and evident to every discerning soul. The drumbeat of His Divinity reverberated, moreover, throughout the world, and the bell of His Lordship pealed out the triumphal summons of “Yá Bahá’u’l-Abhá!” from East and West. At one time, it kindled its flame in America; at another it shed its radiance upon Africa, and upon the Turk and the Tajik. At one time, it raised its call among the Slav; at another it set Cumania ablaze. Its fame hath now been noised abroad throughout the world, and all the peoples and kindreds of the earth are in search of it.

6 And yet, some thoughtless individuals loudly clamour that the darkest of nights hath arrived and the deepest gloom hath enveloped all, that the Cause of God hath been abolished and His Law annulled, that another hath laid claim to a new revelation, raised the cry of “Verily, I am God”, and exalted himself above the Ancient Beauty.69 Their purpose is to use these false and foolish statements to conceal their own violation and to shroud the tabernacle of the Covenant of the ever-living Lord under the frail webs they have woven. Though immersed in the depths of idle fancies, yet with their lips they profess the one true faith of God. Though violating the Covenant, yet they utter the name of the Day-Star of the world. Though they linger in the darksome night of doubt, yet they cry out: “Where is the light that shineth on every side from the unseen realm of the All-Glorious?”

7 Certain pure souls, such as Mírzá Abu’l-Faḍl—upon him rest the glory of God, the All-Glorious—are engaged day and night in demonstrating the truth of this blessed Cause through conclusive proofs and clear testimonies, recounting the facts and removing the veils, propagating the Faith of God and diffusing the divine fragrances. Meanwhile, other individuals, like unto birds of night, strive to sow the seeds of doubt and are detested and estranged. Behold how great is the difference in their ways! Our purpose is to fill the whole world with the fragrance of musk, while others seek to torment the senses of all peoples and nations with the foul odour of dissension.

8 At times, they even accuse this servant of claiming Divinity and assert this allegation to be the basis of their hostility, whereas ‘Abdu’l-Bahá would never barter servitude at the Sacred Threshold for the sovereignty of both worlds; indeed, the dust of that Sacred Threshold is his refulgent diadem. But the Slanderer, in a document that is still extant, written in his own hand and bearing his own seal, hath proclaimed himself to be the Sun of Truth and laid claim to a revelation greater than that of the Blessed Beauty. The following are his very words: “By the righteousness of the Lord! The Greater Day-Star of God hath appeared, before whom every other sun is punier than the puniest of things.” And he goeth further still to say, “These verses were revealed to me while I was still a child.” The Blessed Beauty rejected this claim of his, and it was at that time that He revealed a Tablet stating: “Should he for a moment pass out from under the shadow of the Cause …”, and so forth.70

9 Indeed, in my own writings there doth exist a passage stating that the Sun of Truth rose from the zodiac sign of Aries and is now shining resplendent in the sign of Leo. This servant is still present! As thou hast said, they must address their questions to me rather than give interpretations according to their own vain imaginings and personal motives. In making such a statement, I had in mind no one else except the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh, the character of whose Revelations it had been my purpose to elucidate. The Revelation of the Báb may be likened to the sun, its station corresponding to the first sign of the Zodiac—the sign Aries—which the sun entereth at the Vernal Equinox. The station of Bahá’u’lláh’s Revelation, on the other hand, is represented by the sign Leo, the sun’s mid-summer and highest station. By this is meant that this holy Dispensation is illumined with the light of the Sun of Truth shining from its most exalted station, and in the plenitude of its resplendency, its heat and glory.

10 As to the words “may all eyes be illumined”, these are from the revered martyr Varqá—may my life be offered up for him. What thou hast written is correct.

11 And furthermore, regarding the statement “He who summoneth mankind in My Name, he verily is of Me“, these are the blessed words of the Abhá Beauty—may my life be offered up for His loved ones; the statement is not mine. How grievously hath he erred who reported such a thing, who spread it abroad, and who repeated it. “Feeble indeed are the seeker and the sought!”71

12 God grant that through the celestial might of the Kingdom and the power of the Covenant, and through heavenly inspiration, thou mayest withstand the insinuations of the sowers of doubt, for their whisperings utterly quench the flame of the Lord’s burning Fire in the hearts. Kindle thou a flame, and set ablaze the fire of the love of God! The glory of God rest upon thee.

41

He is the All-Glorious.

1 Glorified art Thou, O God! The least of the signs of Thy Kingdom is, under all conditions, sanctified above all description and praise, and every single reality in Thy dominion is exalted beyond the highest tributes of the people of the world; for the very essence of remembrance is wholly removed from the One remembered, and the inner reality of all praise remaineth veiled from the One praised. The signs of Thy dominion, in their very essence, are immeasurably exalted above the reckoning of the exponents of praise, and are sanctified beyond the grasp of them that are endued with understanding. The most eminent of sages have acknowledged their failure in this regard, confessing that their minds can fathom only that which is within the measure of human capacity and commensurate with the power of the birds of mortal thought when soaring in the heights of knowledge.

2 O my God! Given such clear and evident powerlessness, such plain and manifest poverty in recognizing the least of the signs of Thy dominion in the world of creation, how then can I unloose my tongue to make mention of Thine attributes and to proclaim Thy virtues? How can I speak forth Thy praise and celebrate Thy glory in Thy presence? How can I extol the evidences of being and the realities of existence that are found in the world of allusions and the realm of creation?

3 I have no recourse but to proclaim: “Hallowed and sanctified art Thou! Immeasurably high, exalted, and glorified art Thou!” and to implore pardon for this sin and transgression of mine‎, which hath filled me with shame before Thy loved ones. For to proclaim Thy sanctity and holiness is naught but to venture to describe Thee and, as such, is an evident sin, a shameful and palpable error.

4 O Lord! I beseech Thee by the Hands of Thy Cause, the Daysprings of Thy remembrance and the Dawning-Places of Thy command, and by the coursing of the stars and the burning meteors that rain down upon them that deny Thy manifest Cause and stray from Thy straight Path, to assist Thy loved ones who are firm in Thy Covenant and Testament and steadfast in Thy love and remembrance. Help them attain unto every good Thou hast ordained in Thine all-glorious Kingdom. Thou art, in truth, the Powerful, the Mighty.

5 That which Jináb-i-Ismu’lláh had written was perused. He hath asked for provisions for the journey to the divine Kingdom, and spiritual sustenance for the world to come. As thou well knowest, in this day, such provisions consist in assisting weak souls to become firm and steadfast in the Covenant, diffusing the divine fragrances, protecting the stronghold of the Cause of God, and preserving the distinctive features of His religion. For in the Abhá Kingdom there is no greater gift than this, and among the Concourse on high there is no offering more wondrous. It is therefore incumbent upon thee to strive to the utmost, by day and by night, to carry out this important task, so that no breach may be made in the unity of the Word of God, and no divisions may arise in this mighty Covenant and binding Testament. Alas for all whose feet slip and whose hearts waver!

6 This servant’s highest wish and greatest desire hath ever been that we may all gather together beneath the sheltering shadow of the Word of Oneness, wholly forgetful of every vain imagining; that we may search for none other than His Countenance, seek naught but His abode, and commune only with Him. May we, in truth, offer up our lives wholly for His sake, surrender ourselves in His path, and strive to diffuse the sweet savours of the Beloved far and wide.

7 For many years, Bahá’u’lláh nurtured these servants in the bosom of His loving-kindness, and trained and educated us through His compassion and unfailing bounty. Even as a tender and loving Teacher, He taught us—His children--the requisites of courtesy. In the school of God He instructed us, so that after the ascension of His radiant Beauty we might arise to follow the example of the faithful, and strive to serve the Cause of God and glorify His Word. He promised us His confirmations and assured us of His assistance, saying, “Verily, We behold you from Our realm of glory, and shall aid whosoever will arise for the triumph of Our Cause with the hosts of the Concourse on high and a company of Our favoured angels.”72

8 Praise and thanksgiving be unto the incomparable Lord, Who hath fulfilled His promises and provided all that He had foretold. He hath levelled every rough and rutted road and made smooth every stony path. He hath opened the portals of victory and graced us with the sweet savours of the Holy Spirit. The hosts of His all-glorious Kingdom have rushed forth, and the countless legions of His Company on high have descended with their swords unsheathed. He hath scattered the armies of His foes and defeated the legions of His enemies. Moreover, He hath manifested the signs of His power in all parts of the world and revealed His mighty Cause in every land. The melodies of His holiness have resounded in Europe, and the signs and tokens of His Revelation have been made visible to the Bulgar and the Slav. In America, His lamp hath shed its light upon the darksome night and guided souls from near and far. The fame of His majesty hath been noised abroad throughout Persia, and His servants in Ṭihrán have come to be truly revered to a degree that is without compare in former times.

9 In the Great City, He hath, in these days, thwarted the proponents of the Evil One and exposed their mischief for all to see. He hath completely extinguished that fire and caused their tale to be erased from memory. Indeed, the gathering of the worst mischief-makers and fiercest calumniators of the Blessed Beauty in such a significant location, their incessant efforts by every means to bring ruin to the Cause of God, and their resorting to all manner of whisperings and machinations posed a grave danger to the Cause and provoked grievous malice against the loved ones of God. They had firmly pledged, one and all, to throw this land into turmoil. Through the intermediary of Jamálu’d-Dín-i-Afghání, they had penetrated all the ministerial circles. By the aid of that person, they had even gained access to the private royal quarters. Yaḥyá’s son-in-law became the personal secretary of Jamálu’d-Dín, and Shaykh Aḥmad was among the permanent members of his circle.73 They uttered every possible calumny and seized upon every possible measure to subvert the Divine Edifice and harm these exiles.

10 Placing our whole trust in God, we held fast to the cord of resignation, and with sanctified hearts we cleaved tenaciously to patience. At last, a hand emerged from the invisible Realm and tore asunder the veils of hypocrisy and deception of that slanderous band. Their mischief became apparent, their sedition clearly manifest. Their malicious scrolls were revealed, and they were afflicted with the retribution which such behaviour entaileth. They fell into the grip of justice and were sent to Persia. Take heed lest this matter be misunderstood by the common people.

11 The point is this, that after His ascension, the Ancient Beauty graciously aided His blessed Cause a hundredfold and vouchsafed divine confirmations unto these helpless ones. All praise and glory, all reverence and honour belong unto such a Lord!

12 In brief, the greatest yearning of this servant is to fulfil this sublime aspiration, which is to serve the Cause of God. At no time have I ever cherished any desire of mine own, nor do I regard myself as having any existence before the signs of His Oneness. But I strive to safeguard the impregnable stronghold of His resplendent Cause. I am apprehensive of any corruption of the Text, of any false interpretation, of all discord and division, lest a thousand years from now such matters arise once more and cause a breach in the one true Faith of God. For such a condition would destroy the very foundation and utterly subvert the cornerstone of the Divine Edifice. We would, one and all, be left hopeless and deprived, outcast and condemned. The dispersion of the gathering of the friends and the scattering of the company of the believers would be so great that each one of them would be lost and forgotten in the wilderness of perdition. Naught would remain of the Temple of the Cause of God but an insignificant name in common histories. We must therefore bend all our energies towards keeping the stronghold of the Cause impregnable and its foundation inviolate.

13 Thou hast written concerning the holding of gatherings on the occasion of the Day of the Covenant. Nothing greater, more potent, or more momentous can be conceived than the Covenant of God and His Testament! No such thing hath ever occurred in the Dispensations of the past, that an explicit text should be so clearly revealed in such unmistakable language as in the Most Holy Book, a quarter of a century prior to the ascension of its Author; that the Ancient Beauty should nurture and educate all His loved ones through this divine grace; that He should then enter, with His Sublime Pen, into this firmly established and mighty Covenant with them; and that He should mention this Covenant in all His Books and Tablets, encouraging and praising those who hold fast unto it and renouncing those who break it. By what means can the one who hath failed to cling to this firm cord and mighty bond be secured? All the chains and ties of the world would be incapable of binding him fast.

14 Should it be thy wish to provide the means of ensuring a firmer adherence to the Covenant, compile thou the words and verses that have been revealed in all the divine Tablets on the subject of the Covenant and the Testament, and, after reading the Book of the Covenant in that gathering, recite those verses, so that the station of the steadfast and the station of those who waver may be made clear. This matter is greater than all others.

42

He is the All-Glorious.

1 O thou who art aflame with the fire of the love of God! We hear that thou hast within thy being a blazing fire, and that thy soul, even as the winged moth, is consumed by its flame. Within the lamp of thy heart is cradled a bright candle, and within the sanctuary of thy soul reigneth the Best-Beloved of every gathering. Gracious God! What a concealed mystery is this and what a wondrous reality: The once-cloistered Friend hath become renowned throughout the world, and the once-hidden Beloved hath been unveiled in every land!

2 That everlasting Beauty hath now ascended to the eternal Kingdom. That Day-Star of the realm of Divine Unity is now shrouded behind the clouds of the invisible world. Despite this, the spreading rays of His holiness shine resplendent from the wellspring of the hearts of those who embody His praise. And while the mighty Ocean is concealed in the dense clouds of the world, yet its majestic billows surge from the wellsprings of the realm of being and are visible upon the shores of existence. Thus, while hidden, He is manifest, and though wrapt in concealment, He standeth revealed above every horizon in the easts and the wests of the earth.

43

He is the All-Glorious.

1 Although the Sun of Truth may outwardly be veiled by the clouds of concealment, were one to look with a perceiving eye, listen with a hearing ear, and ponder with an awakened heart, it would become evident that the splendours of the Most Great Light have grown stronger and the rays of the lamp of God waxed brighter, that the waves of His most mighty Ocean have surged higher and the outpourings of the heaven of His bounty have become more abundant and manifest. For, until now, the veil of the human temple hath been an impediment to beholding the Sun of Truth. But now, wholly sanctified from all earthly things, that resplendent Orb and Day-Star of the highest heaven shineth forth above the Supreme Horizon and beameth bright from the all-glorious Realm. This is His explicit text: “Verily, We behold you from Our realm of glory, and shall aid whosoever will arise for the triumph of Our Cause with the hosts of the Concourse on high and a company of Our favoured angels.”74

2 Even as was clearly seen in the advent of past Manifestations, only after Their ascension did the greatness of the Cause of God and the sovereignty of His Word become clear and evident. Consider, for instance, how during the Dispensation of the Spirit,75 only a handful of seemingly humble souls were believers at the time of His ascension, and yet, when those feeble ones arose with supreme steadfastness, they were so assisted by divine confirmations and by the effusions of the Holy Spirit that they shone forth above the horizon of the world in such wise that the splendours of their imperishable light continue to illuminate both this nether realm and the realm beyond.

3 Hasten, then, O ye loved ones of God and His trustees; hasten unto this most great favour! Rush forth, O ye blessed and chosen ones among His creation, rush forth unto this most exalted and august station!

44

He is the All-Glorious.

1 O thou who hast truly believed in the Ancient Beauty! The King of eternal glory, the sovereign Lord, hath been established upon the throne of grandeur and hath shed abroad the splendour of all His names and attributes. He, verily, hath seated Himself upon the Seat of Divinity and sent forth His universal summons. By “Seat” here is meant the Cause of God and His religion, this glorious Dispensation and wondrous Age. And by “seated” is meant His manifestation and appearance, His effulgence and presence.

2 The brows of some were adorned with the brightness of this effulgent light, whilst others regarded this daybreak as powerful sorcery.76 Gracious God! The dawn is the same, the rising of the Sun is the same, and the Source of all splendour is the same. Yet its effect is of two kinds: “And we send down of the Qur’án that which is a healing and a mercy to the faithful: But it shall only add to the ruin of the wicked.”77 The glory of God rest upon thee.

45

1 Glorified art Thou, O Lord my God, my Master, and my Ruler! Thou seest me a victim of every tribulation, a target for every shaft, and exposed to every spear. Not a day passeth but that swords are drawn against me and afflictive darts are hurled successively at the breast of this servant of Thine who standeth poor and desolate amongst Thy creation. And yet, Thou seest how my heart is filled with joy through the breaths of Thy holiness, how my soul is enraptured by the signs of Thy oneness, how my eyes are solaced by beholding Thy lights, and how my spirit is exhilarated by the gentle breezes wafting from the meads of Thy loving-kindness! I pay no heed to these shafts and spears, nor am I perturbed by any other matter. Nay, rather, I cling to the hem of patience, wear the armour of fervent supplication, and quench the devouring flame ignited by the hands of the wicked doers, with the tears I shed by night and by day.

2 Assist me, by Thy strengthening grace, O my God, to serve Thee amongst the righteous. Graciously aid me to render service unto the pious, and grant that I may offer up my soul for the faithful among Thy servants. Permit me, by Thy manifold favours, O my Lord, to enjoy intimate communion with Thee, and have mercy upon me by Thy bountiful grace. Keep me safe within the stronghold of Thy care and Thy protection, and guard me from the onslaught of the enemies, whether it be openly or privily inflicted. Cause me to speak forth Thy praise amidst Thy loved ones, and enable me to be a sign of mercy amongst the people. Help me, O Lord, to serve Thy loved ones throughout all regions. Thou art in truth the All-Bountiful, the Almighty, and verily Thou art the Compassionate, the All-Merciful!

3 O ye faithful friends of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá! In this new springtime, the luminous Orb shone forth from the vernal point at the equator, shedding its splendour upon the world and bestowing, through its light and heat, a new grace and a potent spirit upon every region. Through that heat and light, energy and vitality were generated in the veins and sinews of the world, a new creation was called into being, and a fresh spirit was breathed into it. The weary frame of the world was endued with new life, and the dead body of existence was quickened and endowed with measureless blessings. A wondrous Dispensation dawned, a new creation was called into being, and the verse “I breathed of My spirit into him” was fulfilled.78 The realm of being was adorned, and the universe was illumined by the dawning of that manifest Light. Signs of life and growth appeared in all created things, and great advances became visible in all beings.

4 Those who judge with fairness acknowledge that the nineteenth century was the era of light and the pride of all ages. The signs of progress became visible in every aspect of existence, in such wise that it became equal to a hundred others. Indeed, the achievements of this one century were greater than those of the fifty that came before. That is to say, were ye to gather the works, the inventions, and the wonders of the previous five thousand years, they would by no means compare with those in this heavenly era and divine century. The enterprises and discoveries of those fifty centuries, their sciences and inventions, their achievements and wonders, cannot rival those of this one century.

5 Behold, therefore, how the signs of the revelation of the Sun of Truth are present and manifest in all created things! And yet, the ignorant and unheeding are sunk in endless slumber. They remain utterly unaware of the cause of this growth and development, and the source of this boundless progress. They know not the Orb whose dawning hath ushered in this divine springtime, nor the clouds whose outpourings have brought forth these boundless favours. They see the motion, but reflect not upon its motive force. They acknowledge the fresh beauty of the vernal season, but are utterly heedless of the limitless effusions of grace in the divine springtime. They see the rising dust, but cannot perceive the swift-riding horseman. They gaze at the towering sails, but cannot apprehend the onrushing winds that propel the ship. They hearken unto the celestial Song, but remain oblivious to the Mystic Nightingale. They witness the surging waves, but are blind to the boundless ocean. They feast on fresh and luscious fruits, but remain ignorant of the Tree of mysteries. They see the lustre of the lamp, but are unaware of the dazzling light within it. In any case, it is our hope that the people may wake from their slumber, become inebriated by this choice wine, and, through its power, grow mindful.

6 O ye friends of God! Ye are truly intoxicated by the wine of fidelity; ye are indeed the victorious hosts of the Concourse on high. Ye have scattered far and wide and are assisted by the all-pervasive power of the Word of God. Ye are the means for the quickening of the peoples of the world and are leaders among the ranks of His true lovers. Ye are guides to the path of salvation, and your hearts are wedded to His clear tokens and signs.

7 O friends! Praise be to God that the banner of Divine Unity hath been hoisted in every land, and the melody of the Abhá Kingdom hath been raised on every side. The holy Seraph of the Concourse on high is raising the cry of “Yá Bahá’u’l-Abhá!” in the midmost heart of the world, and the power of the Word of God is breathing true life into the body of existence.

8 Wherefore, O ye faithful friends, it behoveth you all to join ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in self-sacrifice and in service to the Cause of God and thraldom to His divine Threshold. If ye be aided to attain unto such a supreme bounty, the whole world shall erelong be made the recipient of the effulgent splendours of God, and the longed-for oneness of humanity shall be revealed in the utmost beauty and charm in the midmost heart of the world. This is the dearest wish of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá! This is the greatest yearning of them that are faithful! The Glory of Glories rest upon you.

46

He is God.

1 O ye beloved of the Lord and handmaids of the All-Merciful! No sooner had the Sun of Truth shone forth from the heaven of sanctity than it shed upon the horizons of the world the light of unity of thought, unity of opinion, unity of belief, and unity of truth. And this, so that humankind might come together at one single point with respect to thoughts and beliefs; that quarrels, disputes, and conflicts might wholly disappear from amongst humankind; and that the same Light radiating from the Sun of Truth might illumine every heart. For the sake of this complete unity, this perfect harmony, His blessed Being endured every woe and all manner of trial and tribulation in such wise that eyes weep and hearts are for evermore consumed.

2 Praised be God that the beloved of the Lord in other countries in the East are one in belief, one in thought, and one in word, and are holding fast unto the same truth. But apparently, in some parts of America, differences of opinion have arisen amongst the believers. Such differences destroy the foundation of the Divine Edifice. For this reason, the Centre of the Covenant will now address this question in clear and explicit words, so that no differences whatsoever may remain, that the friends may be joined together and united, and that, by reason of this unity, the light of truth may illumine the world of humanity.

3 The following is my explanation: The Exalted One, the Báb—may my life be offered up for Him—is the Promised One of the Qur’án, that is, the Mihdí, the promised Qá’im, Who was to appear after the Prophet Muḥammad. He is the bright Morn dawning from the horizon of guidance, and the Harbinger of the Abhá Beauty. The Blessed Beauty—may my life be offered up for His loved ones—is He Whom God shall make manifest, the One promised in all the Books and Tablets of the Báb. And ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is the Centre of the Covenant of God, but the Branch is only an offshoot of the Tree. The Tree is the essence, the Tree is the foundation, and the Tree is the universal Reality.

4 All the Scriptures have foretold the advent of two Manifestations, even as the Gospel doth refer to the coming of Elijah and the Messiah, by which is meant the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh. There is no third Manifestation.

5 Whosoever may appear ere the lapse of one thousand years, even if he be endowed with utmost perfection, shall nevertheless be under the shadow of the Blessed Beauty and a servant unto Him. He will be the disciple of the Ancient Beauty, seek illumination from His light, and receive a share from the outpourings of His grace. Such a one may be likened unto a star or the moon, whereas the Blessed Beauty is even as the Sun itself. The moon acquireth its light from the sun. This is the sincere and heartfelt conviction of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. It is incumbent upon everyone to bear allegiance and cleave fast unto that which hath issued from the pen of the Covenant. This is the foundation of the Cause of God! This is the light of truth! This is the belief of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá!

6 It is ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s highest aspiration, therefore, to be a true and faithful servant at the Threshold of the Blessed Beauty. Whosoever truly loveth me, whosoever is firm in the Covenant, must regard me as the servant of the Threshold of the Blessed Perfection. Nevertheless, it is unto the Centre of the Covenant that everyone must turn, for he is the Interpreter of the Book, and all the people of Bahá are under his shadow. Should anyone undertake, of his own accord, to interpret the Book of God in a manner contrary to the explicit text of the pen of the Covenant, it is to be rejected, for it would lead to disunity amongst the loved ones of God.

7 My purpose is to show that the Blessed Beauty hath neither peer nor likeness. He is unique in His essence, and holy and sanctified in His attributes. I am under His shadow and the servant of His Threshold.

8 My hope is that following this explicit text which hath proceeded from the pen of the Covenant, no differences whatsoever may remain, and that the American believers, even as the friends in Persia, may all become united in belief, thus rejoicing the heart of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and leading to the exaltation of the Cause of God in America. Publish this letter and circulate it throughout America. The Glory of Glories rest upon you.

9 Should a Persian come to those regions from the East—even, supposing the impossible, my son, or a daughter of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá—without having a letter of permission in my handwriting and bearing my signature, it is forbidden to meet such a person or converse with him. For whosoever cometh without permission hath no aim save sedition and the violation of the Covenant.

47

He is God.

1 O thou twig of the Sacred Lote-Tree! The Dispensations of the past manifested either the splendour of the divine Beauty or the radiance of the divine Glory; either the dawning rays of “Verily Thou art of a noble nature” or the bright light of “God, verily, is wholly quit of the unbelievers”;79 either the effulgence of the manifest Sun or the gleam of the unsheathed sword. But in this great Cycle and blessed Age, despite the lack of an all-subduing power or earthly dominion, despite the absence of unsheathed swords or flashing spears, Glory and Beauty have joined together and shone forth in a single luminous Countenance.

2 Though the Ancient Beauty—may my life be offered up for His loved ones—was held alone and forsaken in the clutches of His enemies, though He was kept in chains and threatened by the sword, though He was banished to lands in Asia and Europe and finally exiled to the Most Great Prison, He ultimately rose in the utmost glory and beauty above the horizon of ancient might, manifest and radiant, resplendent and luminous, shedding light upon the world. All necks were laid low before Him, and all heads bowed down to Him; all faces turned humbly towards Him, and all voices were hushed in His presence.

48

He is God.

1 O ye homeless ones of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá! Ye are homeless and afflicted; ye are displaced and dispossessed of all, for your homes have been pillaged and your dwelling-places plundered. Ye have endured grievous trials, suffered dire iniquities, and been subjected, in truth, to the relentless cruelty of the rebellious.

2 ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is also a captive in this Most Great Prison. But I have found this prison to be a palace, and regard this bondage as true freedom. This cage is to me a heavenly rose garden, and this captivity an everlasting throne, for it hath befallen me in the path of God and for the sake of the love of the Abhá Beauty—may my life be offered up for His loved ones. How delightsome and pleasing it is! How sweet and precious! The trials and afflictions suffered by those friends have indeed been most grievous; yet, in truth, they are a flood of grace and a morn of hope to the hearts of those that are nigh to the Threshold of Singleness.

3 Consider what a blessing are calamities when endured in the path of God. The Prince of Martyrs80—may my life be offered up for Him—was plunged into the very depths of the ocean of tribulations, while the hostile Yazíd and the wicked Valíd seemingly prospered in the material world and relished its pleasures.81 Later it became clear to all that those tribulations had been true blessings, while that prosperity was only divine chastisement and that pleasure naught but God’s wrath and fury. The same holdeth true now. Although to outward seeming the divines and the unjust and foolish rulers are raising an uproar and flaunting themselves, erelong ye shall witness how, like the owls of the night, these people will creep into a desolate ruin, hasten to the tomb of eternal loss, and fall into the abyss of everlasting perdition. Even now, they wander distracted in the wilderness of disappointment, while the friends of God gleam brightly from the horizon of everlasting glory.

4 Were ye to consider carefully, ye would surely perceive that adversity in the path of the one true God is a bounty, inasmuch as the Most Great Name, the Ancient Beauty—may my life be a sacrifice for His loved ones—did Himself endure a myriad afflictions. Now He hath granted that we, His lowly servants, may become His partners and associates in these trials and tribulations, each according to our capacity. Were one to judge with fairness, this suffering is worthy of gratitude, and these afflictions are naught but manifold bestowals. Upon you be greetings and praise.

49

He is the All-Glorious.

1 O thou whom the Lord hath aided to magnify His Word and to diffuse the sweet savours of the rose-garden of His holiness. Thou hast, for some time, been a companion of these enraptured souls and hast associated with these yearning ones in this Most Great Prison. Praise be to God, for thy brow hath been illumined and thy sight brightened by the dust of the sacred Shrine. Time and again, thou hast attained the honour of visiting the Exalted Threshold—that Spot round which circle the celestial Concourse, that Sanctuary of the denizens of the Abhá Kingdom—and hast detected the sweet scents of holiness.

2 Now, aided by heavenly power, divine strength, celestial attraction, and spiritual vigour; endowed with inner joy, a radiant countenance, an eloquent tongue, an outstanding utterance, and words of perfect praise; and confirmed by the outpouring flood of His Grace, return thou to the land of Ṭá’, and thence to the land of Khá’.82 Gather then together the believers in that land round the all-embracing Word, the luminous bounty, the manifest sign, and the glorious banner of the Book of God and His Faith, so that they may be revived and refreshed through the breaths of this supreme bestowal, and may be so set ablaze with the immortal flame kindled in the sacred Tree that each may become a kindled torch, a shining orb, and a brilliant star. The glory of God rest upon thee.

3 Convey my warmest loving greetings to the beloved of the Merciful, and tell them on behalf of this servant: “O ye who have quaffed from the Heavenly Cup, O ye who are attracted to the beauty of the All-Merciful! The Abhá Beloved and desire of the celestial Concourse—may I offer up my soul, my spirit, my life, my essence, and mine inmost being for His loved ones—throughout these long years endured all manner of trials and tribulations, woes and hardships, chains and fetters, and even this afflictive prison. All the while, He trained you beneath the shadow of the divine Teachings that ye might, on a day such as this, arise to proclaim the Faith of God and magnify His Word. Now is the time for you to forget all else but Him, even as did the disciples of Christ. Now is the time for you to surge forth like a mighty ocean, that the sweet savours of God may perfume the East and the West.”

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