1 O thou who rejoicest in the glad-tidings of God! In every age and century, the Dayspring of the world is made manifest, shining with a particular splendour and revealed through a mighty sign. In the time of the Friend of God,83 the horizon of existence was illumined with the lights of friendship. During the era of Him Who conversed with God,84 the dawning-place of creation was brightened by the Light that glowed upon Sinai. In the days of the Spirit of God,85 the realm of being was perfumed by the sweet savours of holiness. With the dawning of the Day-Star of Medina,86 the horizon of the world was flooded with the light of love and grandeur. When the veil of concealment was rent asunder from the beauty of the Primal Point, the Morn of divine guidance was adorned with the resplendent rays of the most joyful tidings. And with this Most Great Revelation and the dawning of the Day-Star of the Ancient Beauty, the horizons of the world have been encompassed, blessed, and made evident and complete by all the divine bounties, effulgences, names, and attributes combined. For the Most Great Ocean possesseth and embraceth all the perfections that are to be found in every sea, gulf, river, spring, and stream.
2 This was written with a broken-nibbed pen. The pen hath been changed and the theme is now elaborated.
3 Consider the Writings of the Blessed Beauty on every matter, and the truth will become clear and evident. Examine the works of the Most Exalted Pen and compare them with all other Scriptures. Reflect upon the manifestation of His overpowering majesty, and ponder how in the Most Great Prison, singly and alone, with none to help or succour Him, He withstood all the peoples and governments of the world in the utmost sovereignty and glory.
4 For example, see how during the days of the Apostle of God—may the life of the worlds be offered up for Him—those who repudiated Him would say, as is clearly stated in the Qur’án: “And when they see Thee, they do but take Thee in mockery. ‘What! Is this he whom God hath sent as an Apostle?’”87 In this most mighty Revelation, however, the faithful as well as the froward, the rebellious, and the deniers all speak of the greatness of this Cause and the majesty of the Blessed Beauty—that is, even those that have not accepted and followed the fundamentals of His Faith. As thou hast witnessed, all the widely circulated publications of the world have testified to this. The humility and submissiveness shown by His enemies at all times, even within this afflictive prison, are the greatest proof thereof, as are the signs of the influence of His dawning and transcendent Revelation, whose rays have been shed upon the whole world. Indeed, all historians have regarded this wondrous age, this new century, as the king of all ages and the sovereign of all centuries, and have regarded its achievements as transcending those of all previous ages. That is, shouldst thou compare the achievements of one hundred centuries to those of this single one, they could in no wise compare with it.
5 In brief, this Revelation is distinguished and exceptional in all respects. In gratitude for these bounties and bestowals, then, it behoveth us to forget all things in our yearning for the love of the Blessed Beauty and, with all our power and strength, centre our thoughts and words on teaching the Cause of God and diffusing the divine fragrances. In this day, this endeavour, that is, teaching the Cause of God, receiveth confirmation and is assured of victory by the aid of the hosts of the Abhá Kingdom.
6 I swear by the Ancient Beauty—may my life be offered up for the dust ennobled by the footsteps of His loved ones! Were the weakest of all creatures to arise in this Day to fulfil this momentous task, that is, to diffuse the divine fragrances, it would become the mightiest of all created things. The drop would become like unto a sea, and the atom would attain the power of the sun. Although the hoopoe was a frail and feeble bird, yet the hosts of Solomon were its support. So it was that the Queen of Sheba, with all her legions, could not resist its powers and found no recourse but to surrender. Now, should any soul arise to diffuse the sweet savours of God, the hosts of the Abhá Kingdom will be his helpers and succourers, and the Almighty Lord his refuge and shelter.
1 O thou spiritual physician! The body of humankind was afflicted with severe ills and chronic diseases, contagious maladies and prolonged fevers. Whereupon the ocean of divine favour surged, and the clouds of truth and bounty rained down upon the world of creation. The Sun of the firmament of Oneness shone forth, and vivifying breezes wafted from the meads of Singleness. The breath of the divine Messiah was diffused, the All-Knowing Physician appeared from behind the veil, and the skilled and true Healer emerged unconcealed. He prepared wholesome medicines from hidden substances, and created healing balms from concealed and treasured elements. He bestowed the panacea of unfailing efficacy, and conferred the sovereign remedy for every ill. He blended together spiritual elixirs, and created refreshing draughts made with heavenly pearls and rubies. And from the essence of Divine Unity and the quintessence of singleness, He taught and made known to us remedies that purify and tranquillize and soothe. And all this, so that the feeble frame of the world might be freed from the burning thirst of error and ignorance, and this afflicted body might be delivered from the sore distress of heedlessness and impotence and attain unto a state of divine health and a well-being spiritual, complete, and absolute.
2 Yet ignorant and neglectful physicians devoid of learning have intervened and are preventing the divine and timely remedy from being administered. They prescribe instead that which causeth the aggravation of the disease and the worsening of the condition. Thou who hast discovered the storehouse of celestial remedies and the infallible divine medicines must strive, then, that haply the light of perfect health and unfailing tranquillity may shine forth even as the light of guidance from the Dayspring of healing, and that the obscuring gloom of ills may be dispelled and the deadly affliction of maladies eliminated.
1 O thou servant of the Abhá Beauty! When the celestial Lion rushed forth from the forest of the All-Merciful, He let out such a mighty roar that the sly foxes of ignorance and the cunning jackals, stained with the dye of deceit, fled the field.88 They then began to plot and conspire, raised the dust of cruelty and malice, and abased themselves to the depths of degradation, and now bewail and lament in the remoteness of obscurity and extinction. Leave them, therefore, in their corner of oblivion. They are “those who forget God, and whom He hath therefore caused to forget their own selves”.89 Surely they are a people, evil, in grievous loss!90 Upon thee be greetings and praise.
1 O servant of the one true God! The Morn of divine guidance hath shed its radiance upon the East and lit up the Orient. It hath cast its beams upon the West and brightened the Occident. God be praised, for the renown and glory of the Abhá Beauty hath conquered the world, and the fame of the advent of the Most Great Name hath stirred up the whole earth. His call is now raised in every land, and His life-giving breezes blow from every region. Yet, regrettably, the unfaithful are striving to the utmost to extinguish His radiant Light, to still the wafting of His perfumed breeze, and to hinder the diffusion of His sweet fragrance. Alas, alas! Even if the dark clouds obscure the light of the sun for a while, they shall, in the end, be dispersed, and its effulgent rays shall shine forth once again. Upon thee be greetings and praise.
1 O true believer in the verses of God! It is said that the greatest power in the world is the power of an all-compelling sovereignty and the might of an all-subduing government. However, the utmost that such might and power can achieve is to besiege men and conquer fortified strongholds. Such power and might is only made manifest by the aid of massed troops and conquering armies.
2 Yet, reflect thou on the power and ascendancy of the Greatest Name, on its might and dominion. Ponder how, though alone and forsaken, with none to help or succour Him, He, through the might and power of God and the sovereignty of the Kingdom, subdued the realm of being and conquered the citadels of the hearts of men. He prevailed over the whole world and established His authority over all existence. Single-handedly, He scattered the battalions of the earth; unaided, He defeated the unyielding hosts of darkness. In this day, the evidences of these victories exist in the invisible realm, but in the future they will appear in the visible plane as well. Then shall all witness the truth of the verse “Behold the confusion that hath befallen the tribes of the defeated!”91
3 Travel and explore the deserts—places such as the cities of Ṣáliḥ and Thamúd, the sand dunes of the tribe of Húd, the cities of Lot and of Sheba, and the settlements of the people of Rass and Midian,92 and other lands. Behold how they have been, even as a defeated army, dispersed and scattered across these barren wastes.
4 My meaning is that although the Prophets of God and His chosen ones were, in every age and dispensation, alone and forsaken and subjected to relentless attacks by all the peoples and kindreds of the earth, yet their light shone bright and their stars gleamed resplendent, whereas the lamps of worldly power were extinguished, one and all.
5 He is God. O thou sanctified bough of the Tree of Holiness! Though that illustrious offshoot was severed from the garden of the contingent world, he hath been joined to the sacred Lote-Tree and hath grown fresh and verdant in the garden of the Placeless. He hath been nurtured from the wellspring of living waters and stirred by the breezes wafting from the bowers of the Abhá Kingdom. He hath entered the paradise of the Divine Presence, attained the court of the Almighty, and found his habitation in the bountiful realm of the All-Glorious.
6 And now, from the Concourse on high and the realm of effulgent glory, he beholdeth those that are left behind, and raiseth an inner summons for the heart and soul to hear, saying, “O my kindred, water ye all that I have sown, with the hands of faith and certitude. Nurture ye all that I have planted. Ye are the boughs and fruits of this bountiful tree; ye must reveal its true savour and fragrance and bring forth gem-like fruits. Be not dismayed by the winds of tests, nor shaken by the tempests of trials. Let your roots grow deep in the soil of the Covenant and be nourished by the stream of the Testament of the Day-Star of the world. Hold ye fast unto the firm Cord, and seize the hem of the Covenant of the Lord of all worlds, that ye may become as fresh and graceful boughs that yield sweet fruits. This is my counsel and my admonishment unto you.” The glory of God rest upon you.
1 O thou who art inebriated by the heavenly cup! In the wilderness of Sinai in the Holy Land, in the hallowed precincts of the vale of Towa, upon the Mystic Mount from which the Light shone upon Moses, the Divine Lote-Tree was raised high, the Burning Bush was unveiled, and the Voice of the one true God was lifted up, raising a tumult in every land and resounding throughout the East and the West. Upon hearing this soul-stirring Voice, every attentive ear responded, “Here am I!” and cried out, from its inmost self, saying, “O our Lord! We have indeed heeded the Voice of Him that called us to the Faith of God—‘Believe ye in your Lord’—and we have believed.”93 And every soul that was the embodiment of the verse “They are deaf, they are dumb, they are blind and shall return no more” responded, “Lo! This is naught but tales of the Ancients.”94
2 Gracious God! Those who claimed to have heard the Voice of God calling from every least bush, rock, and clod of earth—even every blade of grass in the wilderness—rejected that Voice when its most wondrous accents rose from the Tree of Man with utmost eloquence and grace. This is a cause of astonishment, a source of pity. Thus shall the light of “He guideth whomsoever He pleaseth” be kindled and shine forth in the lamp of “He singleth out for His mercy whomsoever He willeth.”95 This, verily, is the truth.
3 Aid Thou Thy servant, O my Lord, who hath sought the light of Thy oneness from the Lamp of Thy guidance and hearkened to Thy most sweet Voice which hath been raised from Thy most glorious Kingdom. Assist him by the power of Thy triumphant might, and enlighten his heart by Thy Most Great Sign. Gladden his bosom through the sublime outpourings of Thy grace from Thine exalted Kingdom. Thou art, in truth, the Lord of this world and of the next.
1 O ye beloved of God! O ye spiritual friends! The Lord of the worlds hath said in the Qur’án: “A noble pattern have ye in God’s Apostle.”96 By this is meant that the Prophet of God is the noble example to follow, and that allegiance to that true Exemplar is conducive to salvation in both worlds.
2 The people of Muḥammad were enjoined to follow His precepts in all matters and under all circumstances. Those who saw this straight Path as the true Way followed it and became even as kings in the realm of the righteous and the land of the chosen. And those who sought their own ease and comfort deprived themselves of His manifold bestowals and perished in the uttermost depths of despair. Their days drew to a close, and their joys and pleasures passed away. Their brilliant morn was turned into darkness, and their clear chalice grew clouded and was mixed with woe. Their radiant star paled and faded, and their orb dimmed and set. But those holy souls who walked in His ways beamed like guiding stars upon the Supreme Horizon. They shone with incomparable light from the dawning-place of all aspirations. They ascended the throne of everlasting dominion and were established upon the seat of heavenly delight. Their influence is still manifest and their effulgence still resplendent. Their stars shine bright, and their companions are the angelic hosts of the eternal realm. Lofty is their mansion, and unshakeable their foundation; their light illumineth the world, and their heat setteth the earth ablaze.
3 Now consider: If those souls who walked in the ways of that manifest Light attained such blessings and high rank, imagine what would happen were we to follow in the footsteps of the Abhá Beauty and the Báb—may my soul be offered up for them that have laid down their lives in Their path!
4 From the early dawn of the revelation of His beauty until the time of His most glorious martyrdom, the Exalted One passed every day and night in the most afflictive tribulations in the path of God. In the end, He made His breast the target of a thousand darts of woe and, with His breast torn to shreds, hastened to the Abhá Kingdom.
5 The Ancient Beauty, the Most Great Name, tasted the poison of every tribulation and quaffed from the brimming cup of every bitter affliction. He made His breast the target of every dart and readied His neck to every sword. He was cast into prison and bound by pitiless chains. He was beset by ferocious foes and attacked with stones hurled by the wicked. He was subjected to chains and fetters and confined to shackles and stocks. He was exiled from His homeland, banished to the lands of the Bulgars and the Serbs, and finally sore tried by grave affliction in the Most Great Prison. In this darksome pit, this prison of tyranny, His blessed days came to an end and He winged His flight to His Kingdom.
6 And now, O faithful friends, O loved ones of that luminous Beauty! Would it be meet and seemly for us to rest even for a moment? Would it be fitting for us to tarry or delay, to seek our own ease or comfort, thereby falling prey to idleness and tests, becoming preoccupied with our own fancies, and setting our affections on friend and stranger alike? Nay, by God! It behoveth us not to rest for a moment, whether by day or by night, nor to defile our pure hearts with the corruption of this world. We must spread a banquet of renunciation; hold a festival of love; lift up our voices and sing the blissful anthems of the Abhá Kingdom to the melody of the harp, the tambour, and the flute; and, hastening with joy and rapture to the field of martyrdom, surrender our lives and our all in His path.
7 O friends, show forth your fidelity! O my loved ones, manifest your steadfastness and your constancy! O ye who invoke His Name, turn ye and hold fast unto Him! O ye who lift up your hearts and implore His aid, cling to Him and walk in His ways! It is incumbent upon every one of us to encourage each other, to exert our utmost endeavour to diffuse His divine fragrances and engage in exalting His Word. We must, at all times, be stirred by the breeze that bloweth from the rose-garden of His loving-kindness, and be perfumed with the fragrances of the mystic flowers of His grace. We must impart zeal and rapture to the hearts of the righteous and bring joy and ecstasy to the souls of the faithful.
8 Praise be to God that the hosts of His all-glorious Kingdom are rushing forth, the stars of His Most Sublime Horizon are shining bright, the banner of guidance is waving aloft, the showers of the clouds of bounty are raining down upon all, the Day-Star of the heaven of divine knowledge is shining resplendent, the joyful festival of the Kingdom is being held in the utmost delight, and the Morn of divine grace is casting abroad the rays of guidance. The anthem of the Abhá Kingdom can be heard from the celestial Concourse: O lifeless one, bereft of heart and soul, Come to life, come thou to life! O slumbering one, wrapt in mire and clay, Awake, do thou awake! O drunken one, so dazed and gone astray, Clear thy mind, clear thou thy mind! The world is filled with sweetest musk; the eyes are brightened with His light; the heavens now are set ablaze. From life and self be freed, be wholly freed! Now is the time for sacrifice; here waft the breaths of Paradise; secrets Divine are all made known. Lead thou the lovers nigh, lead them nigh! The sweetly singing mystic bird, upon a verdant cypress bough, imparteth knowledge to the soul; Commit His secrets to thy heart! Commit His secrets to thy heart!
1 O thou maidservant of God! Thy letter was received. Thou didst complain that your Assembly is sore perturbed. For every illness there is a remedy, and for every affliction a relief. The swift remedy for this ill that hath befallen the Assembly is to remember and reflect upon the Covenant and Testament: Hath the Blessed Beauty instituted this Covenant and Testament in order to exact obedience from all, or to bring about disobedience? If the latter is intended, then we have nothing to say; but if obedience and compliance are the goal, then wavering will lead to utter loss, and disobedience and waywardness are grievous error.
2 Christ—may my soul be a sacrifice to Him—addressed but one statement to Peter, which He did not even write down in His own hand, and it was this: “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.”97 Although this is one statement—not of such note—and although it was orally reported and not recorded by the Pen of Christ, yet all His Apostles submitted to it humbly and faithfully.
3 Now the Blessed Beauty hath—in His own hand, inscribed by the Pen of the Most High, and in explicit terms—emphatically enjoined allegiance and obedience upon all. So, one can either claim—God forbid—that the Blessed Beauty was ignorant, and that He erred in commanding all to obey the Centre of the Covenant and in explicitly appointing him as the sole Interpreter of the Book, or one must show forth obedience and allegiance. How strange! What answer will they give to the Blessed Beauty in the divine Kingdom? Such a reflection alone should suffice, were one to gaze with the eye of justice. But if there be no justice and words be guided by iniquity, then that is a different matter entirely.
4 In brief, these Covenant-breakers and their opposition are all even as the foam on the sea; it shall not endure, but shall pass away and vanish, while the sea itself, which is the cause of life, shall eternally endure. Consider the time after Christ. Regard how many souls arose to sow the seeds of mischief and sedition in His Cause but were eventually doomed to loss and disappointment, while the banner of Truth was raised aloft. So it is with this violation of the Covenant. It is like a mirage and shall soon vanish into utter nothingness. Upon thee be greetings and praise.
5 Distribute numerous copies of this letter far and wide.
1 O thou maidservant of God! Thy letter was received, and its contents testified to thy firmness in the Covenant. Therefore, it is my hope that thou mayest be assisted under all conditions. In this day the most important of all things is to be firm and steadfast in the Covenant and the Testament, for Bahá’í unity can in no wise be preserved except through the Covenant. If it could be preserved by any other means, the Blessed Beauty would undoubtedly have decreed it.
2 In the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, unto which everyone must turn, and in the Kitáb-i-‘Ahd, which is the last Tablet revealed by the Blessed Beauty and recorded by the Supreme Pen, He addresseth everyone in clear and explicit terms, bidding first the Aghṣán, then the Afnán and His kindred, and finally all other believers, to turn unto the Centre of the Covenant. There is a verse revealed in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas exhorting all to turn, after His Ascension, to “Him Who hath branched from this Ancient Root”. In the Kitáb-i-‘Ahd, He testifieth in unmistakable terms that the object of this verse is none other than the Centre of the Covenant. And in a specific Tablet, the authenticity of which is admitted by everyone, He, in unequivocal language, identifieth the Centre of Sedition by name, declaring that should he pass out from under the shadow of the Cause in the slightest degree, he would be cut off from the Holy Tree.98 How could anything be more explicit than this? Now one must either say that the Blessed Beauty erred and led the people astray, for He directed them to obey someone who ought not to have been obeyed, or else say that the least deviation from the Covenant and the Testament entaileth deprivation from the bounties of Him Who is the Luminary of the world. Of these two alternatives, one must be true; there is no third.
3 In sum, Bahá’í unity cannot be preserved save through the Covenant of God. In this day, the dynamic power in the body of the world is the Covenant; if the Covenant be neglected, what other power can move it? The statement reportedly uttered by Christ to Peter, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church”, preserved Christian unity for a thousand years. After the lapse of ten centuries, because of political reasons, dissension arose. Now, if these words of Christ preserved the unity of Christendom for a thousand years, it is clear what the effect will be of the Kitáb-i-‘Ahd, which was revealed by the Supreme Pen! But certain restive souls—who were at first firm in the Covenant and even wrote epistles, which are still extant, attesting to their firmness and their separation from the violators, and referring to the latter as outcasts from the Threshold of the Almighty—have now, because of personal interests, deviated from the Covenant and followed the people of malice. So it was with Judas Iscariot, who took part in shedding the blood of Christ for the sake of a few pieces of silver. Take heed, then, O ye who are endued with understanding!
4 If thou art firm and steadfast in the Covenant, let thy ties with the Convention be strong and unassailable.99 Turn away from, and stay clear of, any soul from whom thou dost detect the odour of deviation, that thou mayest be shielded and protected within the shelter of the Covenant, and mayest burn bright as a candle with the light of constancy.
5 I treat all people with kindliness and oppose no one. I pray for all, that the glance of the eye of divine favour may be cast upon them. Verily it is the Blessed Beauty Who hath entered into this Covenant and Testament with all, not I. Let them answer to Him, for I raise no objections. My duty is to be kind to every soul; retribution is His and not mine. I show kindness unto all, and the purpose of every word that I write is to set forth the truth and to safeguard the Faith of God, so that Bahá’í unity may be preserved. Should some people attempt to undermine Bahá’í unity, the decision is theirs. Yet, what would they answer should the Blessed Beauty address them in the Abhá Realm in words such as these: “O Friends! Have I, through My Supreme Pen, and in explicit verses of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, commanded you to show forth obedience or opposition? Have I not enjoined upon the Centre of Sedition himself to submit and to obey? How is it that ye have rejected My explicitly appointed Centre? I have commanded you to turn towards Him; wherefore have ye turned away and undermined Bahá’í unity?”
6 The friends must carefully examine all matters, and do as they deem fit. I have no obligation in this regard. Whatever voice is raised in America, there are always some ambitious and foolish souls who will gather around it for a while. Even in Green Acre, it was witnessed that a person from Malta invited people to starve themselves and received payment in return. Despite this, a number of people gathered around him. They were famished with hunger and lifeless as corpses, yet they rewarded him with money nevertheless!
7 Regarding thy dear brother who hath ascended from this mortal world to the eternal realm, grieve not and be not saddened. That drop hath hastened to the limitless Ocean; that homeless bird hath winged its flight unto the sheltering nest of the Concourse on high. Thou shalt find him in the assemblage of splendours in the Kingdom of mysteries.
8 As to thy dream in which thy brother appeared to thee finely dressed: Know that one’s attire is one’s adorning, which is the bestowal of the All-Merciful. As to the parcel he had in his hand, this signifieth his benevolent deeds. The purpose of his intent gaze was to make thee understand his message, which is: “Behold the bounty with which I have been favoured! Praise be to God, for I am safe and well; I am attired in the garment of piety and carry the parcel of my deeds in my hand. I am alive, not dead—take heed! I am immortal, not ephemeral—take heed!” The Glory of Glories rest upon thee.
1 O thou seeker after Truth! The statement of the Blessed Beauty which thou hast quoted doth supplement the verse “It is incumbent upon the Aghṣán, the Afnán and My kindred to turn, one and all, their faces towards the Most Mighty Branch. Consider that which We have revealed in Our Most Holy Book: ‘When the ocean of My presence hath ebbed and the Book of My Revelation is ended, turn your faces towards Him Whom God hath purposed, Who hath branched from this Ancient Root.’ The object of this sacred verse is none other than the Most Mighty Branch [‘Abdu’l-Bahá]. Thus have We graciously revealed unto you Our potent Will, and I am verily the Gracious, the All-Bountiful.”
2 Should one, without mentioning the first part of this verse, transcribe only the second, an uninformed person would fall prey to doubt and misgiving. Being regarded as a Branch, according to the explicit statement of the Blessed Beauty, is conditional upon turning towards and obeying the Centre of the Covenant and the Point of the Testament. Should, however, a Branch turn away, he shall grievously fall. As clearly stated with reference to Mírzá Muḥammad-‘Alí, should he for a moment pass out from under the shadow of the Cause, he shall become a fallen creature. This explicit text, mentioning him by name and title, is from the Ancient Beauty, and Mírzá Muḥammad-‘Alí himself doth accept and acknowledge its veracity. What deviation can be more severe than breaking the Covenant! Yea, to be regarded as a Branch is a divine bestowal, but one that is conditioned upon steadfastness in the Covenant. Violation of the Covenant would cause the Branch to fall.
3 For this reason, it hath been said in the fifteenth chapter of the Gospel of John: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” And further it is stated: “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.”
4 Likewise, in the eighth chapter of the Gospel of John, it is recorded: “They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man.” It is then stated in the thirty-ninth verse of that same chapter: “They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill me.”
5 In brief, according to the explicit Holy Writ, any soul, even if of the highest rank and numbered among the Aghṣán, shall be brought to naught as soon as he violateth the Covenant. This is explicit in the text where, in clear reference to Mírzá Muḥammad-‘Alí, even mentioning him by name and title, it is stated that should he for a moment pass out from under the shadow of the Cause, he shall be a fallen creature. And ponder how explicitly the same is stated in the Gospel.
6 This man hath not only broken the Covenant; he hath also threatened the ruin of the Cause of God throughout all regions and brought humiliation upon the Faith of God. He was even intent upon shedding the blood of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the documented proof of which is at hand. Furthermore, he falsified the Words of the Blessed Beauty. Obtain a copy of the declaration written by Áqá Mírzá Badí‘u’lláh, and read it to see how he hath falsified the Book of God. The evidence of this, too, is at hand. As for thy second letter, thou shalt receive its reply in the world of dreams, and it is lengthy. Upon thee be greetings and praise.
1 O thou servant of Bahá! What shall my pen recount? What shall I think? From the earliest days of the Cause, the Ancient Beauty, the Most Great Name—may my life be offered up for His loved ones—laid the foundation of the Covenant and the Testament upon a firm, fixed, and impregnable base, and made this lofty edifice of the Covenant the palace of the All-Merciful.
2 Whoso judgeth with but a little fairness will recognize that ever since the dawn of the world, until this heavenly Dispensation, no such Covenant and Testament hath ever before been established in the heights of the realms above or in the midmost heart of the Abhá Kingdom. From the earliest appearance of the resplendent Fire upon Sinai, until the setting of the luminous Day-Star of the Praised Beauty, no Sacred Text was revealed but that, whether explicitly or implicitly, it made mention of this Eternal Covenant and Ancient Testament, praised and commended those who hold fast unto it, and censured and admonished those who waver and violate it.
3 Then Bahá’u’lláh, with His own Pen, and tracing in His own hand glorious words across the snow-white pages, made a Covenant with all created things, visible and invisible, and called it “The Book of My Covenant”, and set down in it these words: “The Will of the divine Testator is this …”100 One must be fair in judgement! Consider how carefully the Blessed Beauty proceeded. Even in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, which hath abrogated all other sacred Books, He hath stated this theme in lucid and explicit language and not through allusion or symbolic terms, and hath expounded it, in numerous instances, with the utmost authority and power. Wherefore, shame be upon the foolish people because of whom we have been made the target of idle fancies and vain imaginings, nay, even been pierced by their spears and arrows of doubts.
4 But know this: The lamp of God shall be lit, and His brilliant star shall shine upon the assemblage of humanity. His ocean shall surge, and the leviathan of the heavenly sea shall roar. The songbird of the rose-garden of Bahá shall warble with blissful rapture, and the nightingale of the bower of the Lord shall chant its eternal song. Thereupon shall the hearing ear, attuned to the song of the nightingale, hearken to the divine call, proclaiming: “Sanctified be the Lord! This is the songster of My paradise! This is the nightingale of My rose-garden! This is the candle of My worlds!” The glory of God rest upon thee.
1 O thou who art steadfast in the Covenant! Thy letter was received and its contents noted. Speak in accordance with the instructions written herein, and utter not even one word more: Abraham, on Him be peace, made a covenant concerning Moses and gave the glad-tidings of His coming. Moses made a covenant concerning the promised Christ, and announced the good news of His advent to the world. Christ made a covenant concerning the Paraclete and gave the tidings of His coming. The Prophet Muḥammad made a covenant concerning the Báb, and the Báb was the One promised by Muḥammad, for Muḥammad gave the tidings of His coming. The Báb made a covenant concerning the Blessed Beauty, Bahá’u’lláh, and gave the glad-tidings of His coming for the Blessed Beauty was the One promised by the Báb. Bahá’u’lláh made a covenant concerning a Promised One Who will become manifest after one thousand or thousands of years. That Manifestation is Bahá’u’lláh’s Promised One, and will appear after a thousand or thousands of years. He, moreover, with His Supreme Pen, entered into a great Covenant and Testament with all the Bahá’ís whereby they were all commanded to follow the Centre of the Covenant after His ascension, and depart not, even to a hair’s breadth, from obeying Him.
2 In the Most Holy Book, there are two instances in which He hath explicitly issued a binding command and appointed, in clear and unequivocal language, the Interpreter of His Word. In all His heavenly Tablets—especially in the Tablet of the Branch, the entire substance of which referreth to the servitude of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, that is, the Servant of Bahá—the Supreme Pen hath revealed all that is needed. And since ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is the Interpreter of His Word, he sayeth that this Tablet of the Branch, that is, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, referreth to the servitude of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and naught else.
3 In brief, among the characteristics of this Dispensation which were not present in previous Dispensations, one is this: Bahá’u’lláh hath left no room for discord. For in His own blessed Day and by His Supreme Pen, He established a Covenant and Testament, appointed the Centre towards whom all must turn, explicitly specified the Interpreter of His Word, and closed the doors to false interpretations.
4 It behoveth everyone to render thanks unto God for having granted such assurance in this blessed Dispensation, and for having left no cause for wavering. Therefore, all must show forth obedience and submissiveness towards that Centre and turn their entire attention unto him. As to thy speech, it must be confined to this and in no wise exceed it, so that it may foster harmony and ward off discord. The Glory of Glories rest upon thee.
1 O thou who art enraptured by the sweet savours of God! Make haste, make haste towards the forgiveness and mercy of thy Lord! Press on, press on unto the wellspring of grace and compassion! Rush forth, rush forth to the fountainhead of bounty and favour! That is, arise to exalt the Word of God, to diffuse the sweet savours of God, to strive to spread the light of God, to kindle the fire of the love of God, to hold fast unto the Covenant and Testament of God, and to stand firm, by His gracious aid, in the Cause of God. It behoveth one such as thee to be even as a banner raised above all other banners, which waveth in the breezes of holiness wafting from the meads of the loving-kindness of thine Ancient Lord, and is set astir by the sweet-smelling fragrances that are shed abroad from the Abhá Kingdom. Glorified be my Lord, the Most High!
2 Thy letter, which testified to the firmness and constancy of the friends of God in the Covenant and the Testament, was perused and read out.
3 It is clear and evident that in every cycle and dispensation an implicit statement was made in order to safeguard the Word of Oneness, to preserve the Cause of God from harm, and to ensure the unity of all that are gathered beneath the shadow of the Divine Tree, so that the impregnable stronghold of His Faith might remain safe and secure under the shadow of a single Word. While statements such as “Whosoever hath Me as his Master …”101 were indeed allusions and not explicit, in this Most Great Dispensation a Divine Covenant hath been established, and the Book of the Covenant hath been revealed by the Most Exalted Pen. Mention hath been made of this ancient Covenant and mighty Testament in all the sacred Tablets and Scriptures, so that the Word of Oneness might be revealed and made manifest in all degrees and stations in the form of singleness, the light of Divine Unity might illumine the East and the West of the world of being, and all the peoples of the earth might gather round the same wellspring and be unified upon the same Path.
4 And since thou art well informed of the mysteries enshrined in the Cause of God, thou must be vigilant at all times, lest the tempests of trials overtake feeble souls from any side, or the debilitating influence of vain interpretations and doubts cause the believers to waver. The glory of God rest upon thee.
1 O my God! Verily, Thou hast created the universe and fashioned the human soul. Thou hast brought forth the entire creation and hast raised up all beings by the influence of Thine all-penetrating might. The Sun of the world of existence rose, with manifest splendour, above the horizon of the All-Praised. Ages passed and cycles rolled away, until the heaven of knowledge was again raised up and the earth of certitude was outstretched unto all, the ocean of bounty surged and the Luminary of the world shone resplendent, the stars of the world of creation gleamed brightly, the breeze of the All-Merciful wafted, and the full and brimming clouds of Thy grace and generosity rained down.
2 Holy realities—recipients of grace and light from the Day-Star of Truth—were raised up. They cast away their tattered garments, and through Thy bounty, O my All-Glorious Lord, they donned the robe of renewal instead. For Thou didst single them out to shed the splendours of Thy light, to set forth Thy commandments, to unveil Thy mysteries, to spread abroad Thy signs, to exalt Thy Word, to partake of Thine ocean, and to draw light from the fire of Thy oneness. These holy realities became the treasuries of Thy knowledge, the manifestations of Thy grace, the repositories of Thy mystery, the daysprings of Thine inspiration, and the sources of Thy bounteousness. Thereupon did the tyranny of every envious one, the wrath of every contumacious one, and the bitter spite of every ungrateful one wax ever more severe against them. They all rose against Thy loved ones, whose only crime was detachment from all else except Thee, whose only misdeed was submission unto Thy Cause, and whose only fault was steadfastness in Thy Covenant. And this, verily, is what doth gladden the hearts of the faithful and devour the souls of the wicked. Verily, that which is light for the sincere ones is a raging fire for the adversaries of God.
3 Thou hast, O my Lord, fashioned immutable realities in the world of existence and created beings of diverse natures. Thou hast desired naught for that noble species—the reality of the human soul—save that it should attain unto the most exalted station, perceive the signs, discover the testimonies, hoist the ensigns of Thy remembrance before all creation, lift up its voice and proclaim Thy name in the world of being, and diffuse the sweet savours of Thy holiness in this nether world—all this, so that its innermost being might mirror forth and reflect the image of the Concourse on high. Yet alas, souls remained heedless, and deprived themselves of the greatest bounty which Thou didst ordain in Thy realm. They bartered away the Joseph of Thy remembrance for the most paltry of prices, and stained his garment with the blood of vain imaginings. They repudiated Thy Covenant, cavilled at Thy Beauty, violated Thine honour, debased Thy Word, denied Thy wisdom, and hurled their calumnies upon Thy Countenance, all the while thinking themselves to be of them that are guided aright.
4 I implore Thee, O Lord my God, by Thy mercy, which is the source of all created things and the fountainhead of the entire universe, to lift the veils and bestow Thine abundant favours. Root out every trace of disloyalty, graciously aid all to be faithful, and grant that they may taste the sweetness of love and devotion, so that none may remain save those who bow down in adoration before Thee, and that darkness may vanish and pass away in every land. Thou art, verily, the Helper, the Almighty, the All-Glorious, the All-Bountiful.
5 O loved ones of God! The lamp of the Covenant is the light of the world, and its reality the gift of splendour; the star of the Testament is a shining moon, and the words traced by the Pen of the Most High a limitless ocean. The Lord, the All-Glorified, hath, beneath the shade of the Tree of Anísá (Tree of Life), made a new Covenant and established a great Testament. He hath summoned everyone to the loving embrace of His Beauty and announced unto all the revelation of His manifest verses. He hath subverted the foundations of discord and raised the edifice of divine favour. He hath kindled the light of guidance and, through the grace of the Abhá Kingdom, turned the world into a garden of delights. He hath made manifest the Eternal Covenant and hath appeared, cup in hand, at the banquet of Revelation. He hath raised a mighty call and enabled every mindful soul to hear the celestial strains of the Covenant, so that the malicious might not breach the impregnable stronghold of the Cause or the ignorant taint its soft-flowing waters with the mire of idle fancies. He hath raised His summons in the midmost heart of the world and lifted the shrill voice of the Most Sublime Pen. In the East and the West, all ears have hearkened to the sweet accents of the Holy Spirit and discovered the purport of the Covenant and Testament.
6 Notwithstanding such clear, comprehensive, and explicit statements, certain individuals have begun to utter their own interpretations and have misconstrued the meanings after their own selfish passions and desires. They have defiled those perspicuous truths with vain and feeble imaginings and made His explicit command subject to unseemly conditions. What ignorance is this and what folly! What waywardness and what foolishness! They shut their eyes to the manifest Light and cling to the creeping things of the earth. They seek not the morn of guidance but abide in the darkness of faithlessness. They read not the clear and conclusive verses but spread feeble and vain interpretations. “Leave them to entertain themselves with their cavillings.”102 And abandon them to wander distraught in their drunken stupor.103 They tell lies and falsehoods, tread the path of error, and see not that they are indeed drowning in the ocean of vain imaginings. And they shall soon know what lot awaiteth them!
7 O ye loved ones of God! Consider: Hath such a Covenant been established in any previous Dispensation, age, period, or century? Hath such a Testament, set down by the Pen of the Most High, ever been witnessed? No, by God! How will these people answer the Almighty Lord in the unseen realm? How would they reply if the Abhá Beloved should say: “O deprived ones! Did ye not hear the Call of the Testament? Did ye not see the clear words of the Book of the Covenant? Did ye not understand its explicit text? How then could ye deviate and cavil? Was the designated Interpreter not explicitly appointed in the Book? Was the Centre of the Covenant not plainly visible? Even if ye could not keep faith, why such treachery? Even if ye could not acknowledge him, why such haughtiness? Even if ye could not bear him allegiance, why such injury? Ye stabbed him with swords and daggers and aided every wicked doer. Ye hurled darts and arrows, and aimed spears and lances at him. No harm remained that ye did not inflict upon him, no slander that ye did not direct towards him, and no false tale that ye did not make the pivot of your complaints. Ye claimed light to be darkness and regarded guidance as error. Ye made a plaything of the Ancient Covenant, and considered the clear text of the Testament to be delirious ravings. The robe of the Joseph of the all-glorious and unseen Kingdom is dyed with blood, the raiment of the Ancient Beauty stained crimson.”
8 O beloved of the Lord! Plaintive cries are raised in the Concourse on high, and ceaseless moans and lamentations are the companions of the denizens of the Abhá Kingdom. All the peoples of the world are launching their assaults; all its nations and kindreds are hostile and contending. And in the midst of this field of tribulations standeth ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the target of every dart of tyranny. What is become of fairness and justice? Whither is gone the sense of decency and shame? Instead of being a healing salve for the wounds inflicted by the darts of the enemies, ye have aimed your knives at my throat. Instead of shielding me from the shafts of tyranny hurled by the nations of the world, ye have at every moment stabbed me and dealt a heavy blow upon my feeble body. Wretched is that which your hands have wrought! Woe betide you for having forsaken unity, chosen discord, broken the Covenant, and caused adversities to wax ever more severe. Verily will ye be driven to your Lord!104
9 Briefly then, O ye that stand fast in the Covenant! Render praise and thanksgiving to the Lord that ye abide beneath the canopy of the Covenant and are sheltered within the stronghold of the care and protection of the Day-Star of the world. The day is approaching when ye shall witness the violators of the Covenant retreating to the holes of disbelief and doubt, and creeping, worm-like, for shelter in the uttermost depths of the earth. On that day will the faithful rejoice.
10 Furthermore, as His Majesty the righteous King is just and generous, and a helper of all kindreds and tribes, and as the Prime Minister promoteth the progress of the nation and is a sincere and trustworthy well-wisher of the throne, it is therefore our bounden duty to arise, with sincerity and goodwill, to fulfil that which is required, to show gratitude for such a gift. Perchance that noble country may be illumined, and that land may become the focal centre of the bestowals of the merciful Lord.
1 O friend! It is a long time since any news hath been received from thee. Although, earlier, a letter arrived in which thou hadst asked a question, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá hath been so deeply immersed in a sea of correspondence from every side that even if five scribes were at hand, the work could not be managed. All communication hath been severed for the past four or five years, and there hath thus been a slight wavering among some of the friends, some lapse in the diffusion of the divine fragrances, and certain idle thoughts in the minds of some. Therefore, continual communication must now be maintained with every region for some time, to make amends for the past interruption. And since thy question required a lengthy answer, the reply hath been delayed. Rest thou assured that, as soon as there is an opportunity, it will be written at once. Yet since I am drowned in an ocean of letters these days, and it is imperative that I reply to the essential ones first, thou must wait until an opportunity doth arise. Thou art very dear to me, and I wish to respond to thy request….
2 Thou must be exceedingly alert, and shield the souls from veiled suggestions and secret whisperings. Enable them to be steadfast in the Covenant according to the explicit divine Text, which is a conclusive evidence of the Truth, so that Bahá’í unity may be preserved. Otherwise, a new sect would emerge each day, utter division would result, and the Cause of God would be destroyed—nay, exterminated. Were there any other power that could safeguard Bahá’í unity, I would have summoned everyone unto it. But ponder and reflect: Is it possible for the unity of the Faith to be protected by any other power than that of the Covenant? This is why I admonish everyone to cleave unto the Covenant—purely to safeguard Bahá’í unity.
3 Were one to consider the events of the previous cycles, the attempts to break the Covenant in this Dispensation are of no importance whatsoever. Sometime after Christ, Arius, the Patriarch of Alexandria, founded a new sect. He was an orator, articulate of speech and a very audacious and powerful person who succeeded in bringing one and a half million people under his influence. He even secured the allegiance of the Emperor Constantine. But since he deviated from the Covenant of Christ, at the end he faded away and perished. This Covenant was based on the words addressed to Peter, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.”105 And though these words attributed to Christ are based only on the report of some of His disciples, nevertheless Christian unity was preserved for eight hundred years through this implicit Covenant.
4 Now there existeth an explicit Covenant. It is not a mere verbal report. It hath been revealed by the Supreme Pen, Who openly addresseth the Covenant-breakers at its outset. He hath called it “The Book of the Covenant”, a title written by His own Pen at the head of the Tablet. Then of what significance are the behaviour and conduct, the insinuations and whisperings, the interpretation and corruption of the Text by those who sow the seeds of doubt? At most it is this: They have only deprived themselves, and will continue to do so, and will fall into the darksome pit of “losing both this world and the world to come”.106 Every billowing ocean must needs produce foam, and all gold that is purified in fire leaveth behind some dross. Hast thou ever seen a surging ocean without froth, or pure gold that leaveth no dross behind in the consuming flame of fire?
5 The Qur’án hath explicitly stated this. He saith, and verily He speaketh the truth: “We have sent down the rain from Heaven; then flow the torrents in their due measure, and the flood beareth along a swelling foam … And from the metals (that is to say, pure gold) that is molten in the fire, a like froth ariseth…. As to the foam, it is quickly gone: and as to what is useful to man, it remaineth on the earth.”107 Consider how explicitly this hath been stated. The ocean of the Covenant shall eternally endure, and this is that which profiteth mankind. With but a single wave of it, this foam shall pass away like dross, leaving no trace behind. “Leave them to entertain themselves with their cavillings.”108
6 The Lord be praised that thou art my cherished beloved, my uniquely true and loyal friend. Thou must shield the Covenant and protect the souls lest they slip or waver. The Glory of Glories rest upon thee….
7 Examine carefully the commentary on the verse “In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful”.109 Some of the meanings that thou seekest are implicitly contained therein, and it was praised by the Supreme Pen during His blessed days. Let then the masters of knowledge produce its like!