1 O ye beloved of God! How great is this Dispensation! How bright the effulgence of this Age, the Age of the All-Glorious Lord! All creation hath been set in motion, and the universe vibrateth with tidings of joy and ecstasy. The realities of all things are filled with blissful rapture, and every atom in existence is ecstatic with delight. Souls are attaining unto prosperity and advancement, and the friends are achieving success and progress. The light of Revelation is shining bright, and its signs are shedding light on all regions. The whole earth resoundeth with the praises of the greatness of the Ancient Beauty, and the Day-Star of His majesty shineth resplendent.
2 Every assemblage in the world is adorned with the mention of the Most Great Name, and every gathering of the kindreds and peoples of the earth is cognizant of the tidings of the advent of the Most Wondrous Luminary. The East is illumined by His light, and the West perfumed with His sweet savours. This dusty earth hath become a rose-garden through the outpourings of His bounteous favour, and the vast and lofty heavens are filled with delight through the splendours of His sun. The realities of all things have been quickened and revived, and the essences of all beings enraptured and enthralled. Goodly trees are growing and flourishing on every side, yielding sweet and luscious fruits. The banner of the Covenant is hoisted in every region, and the ocean of the Testament is surging with such endless billows and raging tempests as to cause every limb to quake.
3 In this Most Great Dispensation, the Ancient Beauty—may my soul be offered up for His loved ones—hath vouchsafed unto all the believers a sure testimony, a surpassing mercy and abundant favour, an infallible proof and clear evidence. In the Most Holy Book, which abrogateth all the Books and Scriptures of the past and standeth amongst them all transcendent and supreme, He hath, in clear, explicit, and unequivocal terms, revealed the path and marked out the road to salvation. For five and twenty years did He nurture everyone and fed them from the breast of holiness. In all His Tablets, Books, Epistles, and Scriptures, He made mention of the Covenant and Testament, praising the steadfast and extolling those who cleave tenaciously unto it, while condemning and rebuking those who waver, and even forewarning them of divine punishment and the threat of everlasting chastisement.
4 And then the Tablet of the Year of Stress, which is the year of Bahá’u’lláh’s ascension, was revealed and distributed in all regions.110 In it He clearly and unequivocally stated the severity of the tests and the profusion of the trials. Some time thereafter, the Book of the Covenant and Preserved Tablet of the Testament was revealed by the Supreme Pen, wherein all were bidden, by His clear and explicit behest, to turn unto it and to observe, obey, and follow it, so that when the ocean of the tests and trials of the Year of Stress came to surge, no soul would be perplexed, dismayed, or confused; so that the straight path, the undeviating way, and the manifest light would become evident and clearly known; so that no room would be left for evil whisperings, no differences would arise, and the unity of the Word of God would be safeguarded.
5 Now a few capricious souls have appeared and begun to engage in secret whisperings, and as soon as they feel sure of their target, they even openly voice their intentions. One of them saith: “The Blessed Beauty hath made us independent of aught else, and hath left no need unmet.” The secret intent of such a statement is that there is no need for an appointed Centre. Another exclaimeth: “Infallibility belonged to the Blessed Beauty alone; no other person is infallible.” His inner motive is to assert that the “the one whom God hath purposed” is liable to error. Furthermore, they say that one who was regarded with favour, who was a believer or the recipient of a Tablet during the days of the Blessed Beauty, cannot possibly be cast out. Their true objective is to hint that were such a person to arise in opposition, or be so bold as to show enmity, no harm would result. They spread talk of this sort both openly and privily. The whole purpose of these words is to violate the Covenant and Testament. This is that same clamour which the Beloved of the worlds hath foretold in all His Tablets.
6 O loved ones of God! Be wakeful, be ever wakeful! Be mindful, be ever mindful! For tests and trials are most severe, and the waverers are exceedingly subtle and destructive in their schemes. Outwardly they proclaim that they are the first to adhere to the Covenant, while secretly they strike an axe at the very root of the Tree of the Covenant and Testament.
1 O thou dove of the rose-garden of faithfulness! O nightingale of the groves of praise to the Abhá Beauty! May the glory of God, His mercy, His bounty, and His praise rest upon thee.
2 That which thou hadst written with the pen of grief upon the page of woes was read and perused with the utmost attention. From its contents, brimming with bitter lamentation, the savour of profound sorrow and anguish was perceived. On the one hand, I was saddened; on the other, surprised and amazed. My sorrow was due to the intensity of thy sighs, whilst my surprise stemmed from the fact that this servant hath already written a number of letters to thee, dear friend, in all of which I expressed the utmost measure of love and affection. They were written in such wise that I imagined that such bliss and ecstasy would fill thy soul upon their perusal as to cause thee to rend asunder the raiment of the material world.
3 How is it that through a single word thou hast become so dispirited and dejected, so heartbroken and despondent? And yet, in this day, neither is praise the measure of honour, nor censure the sign of abasement and disgrace. Acceptance or denial, approval or rejection, all depend upon him whom God hath raised to serve His Cause and to exalt His Word amidst humankind. Know thou that all matters pertaining to the Cause revert to this servant. To none is given the right to reject or accept before hearing what this humble servant hath pronounced.
4 Forget then all these matters and, with the utmost resolve, firmness, and steadfastness in the Covenant of God, and with faithful adherence unto His Testament, strive to exalt His Word. Neither give ear to commendation and praise, nor be saddened or heartbroken by censure and humiliation. Arise amidst the peoples of the world and, wholly detached and sanctified from all save God and stirred by His Covenant and Testament, strive to awaken the heedless; for, in this day, most people are unaware and oblivious of the power of God’s Covenant and Testament.
5 Although no explicit Covenant was established in any previous age or Dispensation, yet the followers of the Qur’án say that the Apostle of God—may the life of the worlds be offered up for His sake—stated at Ghadír-i-Khumm: “Whoever hath Me as his Master, hath ‘Alí as his Master.”111 Likewise, the Christians say that the One Who is the Spirit—may the soul of all existence be sacrificed for Him—addressed Simon, known as Peter, with these words: “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church.”112 Now, in this Most Great Dispensation, the Covenant hath been conclusively established in clear terms and unmistakable language, leaving room for no interpretation whatever, in the Most Holy Book—a Book that abrogateth all the Sacred Scriptures of the past, and whose laws have annulled whatever laws in other Tablets that are not in conformity with it. Furthermore, in the book of the divine Covenant and Testament, revealed by the Pen of Glory and named “The Book of the Covenant”, Bahá’u’lláh entered into a Covenant with all created things. In all His Tablets and prayers, He hath made firm adherence to the divine Covenant and Testament to be the surest means of receiving heavenly bestowals, that all may apprehend the majesty and grandeur of that Covenant and Testament.
6 Now, some are conscious of the power of this Covenant, and are firm and steadfast in the straight path, whilst others are not yet as aware of its significance as they should be. The sincere friends of the Blessed Beauty must strive to awaken the people. As this mighty, this impregnable stronghold shall remain inviolate and safe, let not thy heart grieve. All other matters are secondary and can be easily resolved with a word or two. Rest thou assured and hopeful, and remain firm and steadfast. The glory of God rest upon thee, and upon the beloved of the Lord.
1 O thou seeker after Truth! Thy letter was received and thy purpose became known. Thou hast asked: If this divine Revelation is that same heavenly Kingdom which Christ said was nigh, then by what proof and testimony can this be demonstrated, and by what tidings can it be announced? There is no time for a detailed reply, so a brief account is provided.
2 Know thou that the proofs of the truth of this new Kingdom are the same as those of the Kingdom of Christ. The proof of the subsequent Kingdom is the same as that of the previous one—nay, it is the mightiest proof!
3 Proofs are of two kinds: those for the common people and those for the learned. The latter will not be convinced by the proofs for the former, who, likewise, will not be assured by the proofs for the latter. The common people seek miracles and marvels, while the learned regard these not as proof; these neither satisfy their search nor quench their thirst. Rather, they seek conclusive rational proofs. Thus, as thou art endowed with a keen vision and a sound mind, we will set forth conclusive and rational proofs that leave none the possibility for denial.
4 We say that the purpose underlying the advent of the Kingdom is the edification of the souls of men, the progress of the world of humanity, the manifestation of the love of God, the establishment of fellowship and unity amongst all peoples, the appearance of divine perfections, and the realization of the glory of the human race. This is the purpose of the advent of the Kingdom, and this is its result. Observe, then, how the edifying power of Bahá’u’lláh hath enlightened the darksome East, transformed voracious beasts into heavenly angels, endowed the ignorant with knowledge, and caused ravening wolves to become as gazelles in the meads of oneness. Those who, because of custom or belief, rose in enmity against all peoples now associate with all in a spirit of perfect unity. Those who used to burn the Holy Bible out of exceeding ignorance now set forth the truths and mysteries of the Old and New Testaments. In a brief span of time, He so educated His followers that, even in chains and stocks, and under the threat of swords and blades, they would raise the cry of “Yá Bahá’u’l-Abhá!” and would offer sugar candy to their executioners that they might strike the final blow with sweetened mouths. Thou dost surely recall the story of Peter the disciple, and the crowing of the cock!114
5 Another proof is that all the Persian divines and prominent leaders in Ṭihrán know, beyond any doubt, that Bahá’u’lláh never attended any school, nor received any formal education, and from early childhood conducted Himself differently. Nevertheless, the divines and the learned of the East have testified to His extraordinary knowledge, wisdom, understanding, and perfections. Despite their denial and bitter enmity, they still acknowledge that Bahá’u’lláh was a unique and peerless Figure of the age, although they do not recognize His sublime station as do the chosen ones and the sincere.
6 A further proof lieth in the very teachings of Bahá’u’lláh, which banish every trace of dissension and discord from the world of humanity, and establish everlasting unity and harmony. Refer to the Tablets of Tajallíyyát (Effulgences), ‘Ishráqát (Splendours), Kalimát (Words of Paradise), Bishárát (Glad-Tidings) and Ṭarázát (Ornaments), and thou wilt clearly see what teachings have been vouchsafed by this new Kingdom—teachings that bestow upon the feeble body of the world a swift remedy and a practicable, lasting cure . The like of such teachings hath never before been witnessed.
7 Yet another proof is that it was from within this afflictive prison that Bahá’u’lláh revealed and advanced such a sublime Revelation—a Revelation whose renown hath spread throughout the world, which hath been firmly established in the East, and the light of whose radiant morn is diffused even as the rays of the sun. And all this despite the fact that the governments and peoples of the East arose in resistance and opposition, launching their attacks with every power at their disposal. Reflect: Hath such might and power ever been manifested before? What greater proof is there than this, that from within the prison walls He directed His mighty proclamations to the kings and rulers of the earth and foreshadowed, in unmistakable terms, what the future would hold. He warned the great Emperor, then at the height of his power, of a sudden revolution, and predicted the downfall of his throne and the defeat and extinction of his empire.115 And all this did indeed come to pass, as did the events foretold in Tablets and addresses directed to other rulers of the earth from within the prison confines. Behold with what power and majesty He manifested Himself from within a prison for robbers and murderers! What proof is there greater than this? To conclude, the proofs and evidences are many, but I have no time to write further.
8 And now, concerning the proofs sought by the uninformed masses: these consist of miracles and marvels. To state the matter briefly, there are many accounts of such marvellous feats associated with Bahá’u’lláh that are current amongst the people and could fill numerous volumes, were one to compile them. But since these do not constitute a conclusive proof for the contending denier, we will not relate miracles associated with Bahá’u’lláh. For the contenders may also relate such accounts from the idols of their fancy and base them on their own books and chronicles. We therefore present rational proofs, so that there shall remain no room for denial for any soul. The Glory of Glories rest upon thee.
1 O thou who art steadfast in the Covenant! That which was written by thy musk-laden pen brought great joy to our hearts. It imparted the glad-tidings of the cheer and exultation of the believers and the joyful news of the spirit of fellowship among the friends. God be praised that each one hath become even as a fruitful tree in the divine orchard, and doth stand as a swaying cypress upon the riverbanks of love and knowledge.
2 None had imagined that, despite the intensity of tests, those souls would remain happy and beaming with joy! This can be attributed to naught but the great bounty of God in these days— that in the depths of sacrifice, His loved ones stand firm and immovable and are constant and steadfast in the Covenant and Testament.
3 O God, my God! Assist Thou Thy servants who have found “at the fire a guide”,116 and have caught the light of the immortal flame kindled in the Tree of Sinai. Make them, O Lord, the signs of Thy Divine Unity amidst all people, and the emblems of Thy Oneness in Thy most exalted Realm. Give them to quaff from the wellspring of Thy mercy and from the clear waters flowing from Thy blissful paradise, that they may become inebriated with the wine of Thy love in the verdant meadows and vast gardens of Thy holiness. Assist them, O Lord, with the cohorts of the Supreme Horizon and the hosts of the Concourse on high. Thou, verily, art the Generous, the Compassionate, the Lord of grace and bounty unto Thy feeble servants! Thou, verily, art the Clement, the Merciful….
4 Thou hast sought permission for a visit. In these days, the Holy Land is in turmoil by reason of the calumnies spread by the slandering liars. For certain strangers from amongst the non-believers have published some books, filled them with countless calumnies, and distributed them in these regions. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is therefore in dire peril due to attacks from within and from without. Such are the enemies of the Faith on the outside, and such the violators of the Covenant on the inside. It is thus evident what commotion hath arisen. Yet, praise be to God, through the unfailing grace of the Blessed Beauty, I have remained firm in my position, have bared my breast to the darts of malice hurled by every oppressor, and am awaiting the onslaught of tribulations from every side, that, wholly detached, I may hasten to the shelter of His transcendent mercy.
5 Thou hast asked about the blessed Quranic verse “We have given thee the twice-repeated seven.”117 The Muslim divines have interpreted the term “twice-repeated seven” to refer either to the seven chapters of the Qur’án that begin with the disconnected letters Ḥá’ and Mím or to the opening chapter of the Qur’án. They say it is “twice repeated” because the opening chapter, consisting of seven verses, was revealed twice—once in Mecca and again in Medina—and, as such, it is twice repeated. Furthermore, they say that as this opening chapter is recited twice in the daily prayer, it is thus described as the “twice-repeated seven”.
6 But the true meaning is the mystery of Divine Unity and the outpourings of heavenly grace, and that is the glad-tidings of the advent of the subsequent Revelation, in which the Bearer of the seven letters hath appeared twice. The first seven letters correspond to “‘Alí-Muḥammad”, and the second seven to “Ḥusayn-‘Alí”.118 This is the meaning of the “twice-repeated seven”. Yet another meaning is that Muḥammad, the universal Manifestation of the Quranic Dispensation, together with thirteen distinguished souls, make fourteen, which is seven twice repeated.119 There is no time for further elaboration. This is a brief but beneficial explanation.
1 O Lord! O Thou Who graciously aidest whomsoever Thou willest, with whatsoever Thou willest, unto whatsoever Thou willest. Verily, that treasury of resignation, that wellspring of fidelity and fountainhead of purity—the honoured Riḍá120—fell prey to the cruel tyranny of the people of hatred and malice. He was, O Lord, sore-tried by the gravest hardships and the fiercest oppression of the perverse. He was held fast, time and again, in the claws of ravening wolves and ferocious lions, until he fell into the clutches of a savage hound who tormented him with countless afflictions and weighed him down with galling chains. All the while, he raised his voice amongst the people, openly proclaiming Thy Name. Undaunted and undismayed, he never wavered in teaching Thy Cause. He feared not the scourge of the oppressors, nor was he frightened by the tribulations meted out by the vicious, the ignoble, the wicked, and the vengeful. He spoke with the utmost eloquence and presented the most wondrous proofs with manifest authority.
2 The hearts of those present were astonished by this dignified man. They exclaimed, “He is indeed sincere and trustworthy, and speaketh the truth. He testifieth with absolute honesty and harboureth no secrets, for his account is but manifest truth without the least trace of dissimulation, false interpretation, or unsound commentary; it is indeed clear discourse concerning this great Cause.”
3 The oppressors were assured that there was no mischief, no wrongdoing or rebellion, and no secrets hidden and veiled from others, and yet they kept him confined to prison. Upon his release, he travelled to Qum, wherein rule the divines, they that are in grievous loss. There, once again, he was thrown into a fortified prison, in whose depths he languished for a long time, until at last God delivered him through the just intervention of a noble-minded man.
4 He never faltered or slackened in chanting the verses of Him Who is Thy Remembrance and the Source of wisdom. Nay, rather, he hastened to the gathering of the evil-minded divines and set forth clear and manifest proofs. Hence the clamour of the clergy rose high, and they assailed him with grievous injustice. They cast him again into prison, subjected him to chains and fetters, and afflicted him with fresh torment. His weak and feeble frame, unable to sustain such dire hardships, yielded its life in this Path, and he reached Thy presence detached from all else but Thee, a guest at Thy Holy Threshold.
5 O Lord! Glorify the abode of this newly arrived guest. Grant him an exalted station within the precincts of Thy transcendent mercy in the presence of the glorious Companion; confer upon him a dwelling in that immeasurable and boundless immensity, the vast kingdom of Thy pardon and forgiveness, which none can comprehend save those whom the Omnipotent Lord hath inspired.
6 Verily, Thou dost bounteously favour whomsoever Thou willest, dost forgive whomsoever Thou willest, and dost pardon whomsoever Thou willest. There is no God but Thee, the Subtile, the Tender, the Ever-Forgiving, the Most Compassionate.
7 O honourable Majdhúb! That leader of the righteous is most dear to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Whenever I find a moment, my thoughts turn again towards thee and I engage in prayer and remembrance on thy behalf. Supplications were likewise offered at the Divine Threshold, that God may bestow His unfailing grace upon His loved ones.
8 The Blessed Beauty is established upon the Throne of Lordship, and we are all novices in the ranks of servitude and are linked together in thraldom to His Holy Threshold. Nothing greater can be imagined for the friends than to join ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in servitude to the Sacred Threshold. Since in His commentary on the Súrih of Joseph, the Báb—may my life be offered up for His sake—hath identified Joseph as the Manifest Beauty, the true Joseph, and hath referred to Him as “our great and omnipotent Master”, then whenever thou readest it, thou wilt but weep and grieve for the wrongs suffered by the Blessed Beauty. This commentary is not currently at hand for me to send to thee.
1 O thou servant of the Ancient Beauty! When Joseph—peace be upon him—unveiled his bright countenance in the Egypt of beauty, he set ablaze the souls of a myriad buyers. Now the Joseph of the celestial Canaan, the ruler of the Egypt of the spirit, with a face radiant as the sun and a beauty far above the praise and description of such as are endued with understanding, hath rent asunder the veils and emerged resplendent in the midmost heart of the world. But alas, all the buyers have busied themselves with the world of water and clay, have pursued their selfish desires, and have hence been deprived of beholding His Countenance and attaining His presence. Render thou thanks unto God that thou hast been among the buyers who seek that Divine Beauty, and among those who are enamoured by the Mystic Beloved. The glory of God rest upon thee and upon all those who have been enraptured by His Beauty.
1 O thou binder of books! Shouldst thou refer to the heavenly Books and Sacred Scriptures, and ponder the meanings enshrined therein, thou wouldst see that all their tidings and signs herald the advent of the Light of Truth and the Centre of Divinity. Forget not the tradition that saith: “Whatsoever is in the Torah, the Gospel, and other Scriptures is in the Qur’án, and whatsoever is in the Qur’án is in its Exordium, and whatsoever is in its Exordium is in the Basmalah, and whatsoever is in the Basmalah is in the Bá’.”121 But alas, for the eyes of the people are blind, and their ears are deaf. How well hath it been said: To speak of the subtleties of Saná’í before the foolish and the weak of mind Is like plucking the lute for the deaf or holding a mirror to the blind.
2 Gracious God! How strange, how very strange! The people of the Book have withdrawn behind the veils, whilst the common people comprehend the mysteries of the Word. This is but a token of the bounteous favour of my Lord, the Almighty, the All-Bountiful. Upon thee be greetings and praise.
1 Thou art He, O my God, Whose most beauteous names and most sublime likenesses are sanctified above the comprehension of such as pride themselves on their knowledge of the realities of things, inasmuch as the spiders of idle fancy can never weave the frail webs of their understanding upon the loftiest summits to which even the birds of human thought are powerless to ascend. How, then, can such as are endued with insight discern the mysteries of Thy Reality that is concealed from the world of being? O Lord! Indeed, the inmost reality of all created things can never hope to fathom the secrets even of the world of existence. How, then, O my God, can it apprehend the hidden Secret, the well-guarded Mystery, which is inscrutable to even the most luminous of realities in the realm of being within the invisible world?
2 O God, my God! The wings of human thought can never hope to ascend unto the Kingdom of Mysteries, and the minds of the righteous are sore perplexed in attempting to attain unto the gems that lie wrapt within the veils of concealment.
3 O Lord! The innermost reality of understanding in this contingent realm is, in its essence, utterly powerless to grasp even a single one of the mysteries of the All-Merciful, inasmuch as all understanding encompasseth that reality in the realm of existence that is comprehensible. How, then, could that which is contingent comprehend the Ancient Mystery unless the Ancient be encompassed by the contingent world? And how could this be possible, given that the encompassing one is greater than that which is encompassed, and the knower thoroughly comprehendeth that which is the object of knowledge? This being the case, how then can there be a path to Thee; how can there be a way to the Kingdom of Thy sanctity? Naught are we but mere helplessness and poverty in the face of the mysteries of creation, let alone before the sublime Reality, which is inaccessible to the realm of idle fancies and thoughts!
4 Thou hast, nevertheless, through Thine inestimable grace and Thy resplendent bounty, and by virtue of Thy mercy that hath surpassed the whole of creation, fashioned a luminous Reality, a heavenly Being, a divine Essence—Whom Thou hast ordained to be a mirror, stainless and gleaming, that speaketh of the unseen world, that deriveth grace from that realm, and that shineth resplendently and copiously with the outpourings of those favours upon the entire creation. And this Thou hast done so as to deliver Thy sincere servants from the worship of idle fancies engraved even on the hearts of the mystic knowers. For verily, all Thy servants, O my Lord, except such as Thou hast chosen as Thine own, whilst communing with Thee, or bowing down in worship before Thee, conceive a fictitious reality comprehensible to their thoughts and minds. And thus do they worship it whilst immersed in the seas of idle fancies and vain imaginings. For, verily, Thine invisible and inaccessible Self can never be known; Thine unalloyed Essence can never be described. “The way is barred, and all seeking rejected.”122
5 To whatever heights the most brilliant mind may soar, it can grasp no more than a mere token of the mystery of creation, a token which Thou hast deposited within the reality of all things. This, indeed, is the highest summit of comprehension to which those who inhabit the visible realm may hope to ascend, and even the manifold aspects of that token far transcend all comprehension in the realm of ascent.
6 All praise be to Thee, therefore, for having guided us to the Focal Centre of glory, the Manifestation of beauty, the Source of all light, the Dawning-Place of signs, and the Repository of Thy Revelation amongst the righteous. All praise be to Thee for having delivered us from idle fancies and vain imaginings, and for having rescued us from the worship of idols conceived by human minds. Thanks be unto Thee for having unlocked the gates of understanding to them who are well assured, and for having sent down from the heaven of Thy gifts that pure water which causeth the vales of the heart to overflow with the outpourings of the grace of God and the torrents gushing forth from the Focal Centre of mysteries.
7 O God, my God! Thou hast verily revealed the path, established the proof, and guided all to Thy glorious kingdom. Thy signs and mysteries have verily been diffused far and wide, the realm of realities hath been made to tremble and the limbs to quake, the sun and stars have been darkened, and the planets have been dispersed and fallen from heaven. For Thy testimony hath been manifested, and the Sun of knowledge hath risen. Every obscure mystery in the realm of creation hath been laid bare, and now, in this Day of Revelation, Thy Beauty doth shed its radiance with all-subduing potency upon the whole earth, shining with its all-encompassing power over king and subject alike. Every hearing ear hath hearkened to Thy call, and all holy souls have been quickened by Thy sweet savours. The influence of Thy Word hath verily encompassed the righteous and the pious, and all tongues have testified to the majesty of Thy Revelation in this luminous age.
8 And yet, O my Lord, the company of deniers are veiled from this manifest Light, and they that are estranged from Thee have turned away from Thy radiant countenance. They, indeed, are those that have failed to believe in Thy most exalted Beauty, the Manifestation of Thine own Self, the Embodiment of Thine incalculable and imperishable grace. How numerous the verses that have been sent down, the words that have been perfected, and the Scriptures that have been recorded; and yet the heedless have remained unconvinced of this mighty sovereignty, and the foolish are not satisfied by this ancient power. These clear and manifest tokens profited them not, nor did any of these Scriptures and scrolls of all-encompassing words avail them.
9 Thus it followed that Thou didst manifest Thine all-subduing power over all created things, whereupon the Dayspring of Thine effulgent light withstood the onslaught of all the peoples and nations of the earth from within this Great Prison, and raised high His Word from under the weight of chains and shackles in this inaccessible fortress. The signs of His dominion have been diffused throughout the world, and the fame of Thy Cause hath been noised abroad and reached the most far-flung regions of the earth. And this verily is a shining proof, a conclusive testimony to those endued with sight as well as insight.
10 O God, my God! I beseech Thee by Thy manifold bounties, through which Thou hast chosen the sincere amongst Thy creatures and favoured them over all that dwell on earth and heaven, to lift the veils from the eyes of men, to confer Thy bounty upon the righteous, to lead the heedless to the wellspring of guidance, and to cause them to tread this straight Path. Thou art in truth the All-Bountiful, the Almighty, and Thou art verily the Merciful, the Compassionate.
11 O thou who art firm in the Covenant! In all the Sacred Scriptures and Tablets revealed by the Primal Point—may my life be offered up for His sake—the supreme proof is the revelation of divine verses. Throughout all chapters of the Bayán, the Báb hath heralded the advent of Him Whom God shall make manifest. He hath not laid down any conditions for the appearance of that Most Great Luminary, but hath concluded every matter by encouraging and urging all to recognize the Beauty of the All-Merciful. Peruse thou the Bayán: Every one of its chapters endeth by cautioning souls not to remain veiled in the Day of His Revelation or, God forbid, to denounce and reject Him on the basis of the Bayán itself. For example, He saith, “Beware, beware lest the Váḥid of the Bayán or that which hath been sent down in that Book shut thee out as by a veil from Him, inasmuch as it is but a creature in His sight.” By “the Váḥid of the Bayán” is meant His blessed Being together with the eighteen Letters of the Living.123 As to “that which hath been sent down in the Bayán”, consider in what explicit and emphatic terms He hath warned against being veiled by the Váḥid of the Bayán or by what hath been revealed in that Book.
12 It is obvious that the Primal Point—may my life be offered up for His blessed Dust—was well aware of the Day of the Revelation and the identity of the Promised Beauty, that hidden Mystery and well-guarded Secret. This explicit warning was for the sake of emphasis, lest any soul should protest that the rejection of this Most Great Revelation by a certain person is reason for doubt and misgivings.
13 And yet, behold to what vain imaginings the people of the Bayán are clinging.124 They cry out: “Where is the primary school of Him Whom God shall make manifest?125 Where are the kings of the Bayán? Where are its places of worship and its Witnesses?” However, by the same token, the followers of the Qur’án could also cry out and exclaim: “Where is the Great Catastrophe? Where is the Most Great Resurrection? Where are the darkening of the sun, the cleaving of the moon, the scattering of the stars, the heaving of the earth, and the rending of the heavens? Where are the levelling of the mountains, the gathering together of the beasts, and the boiling of the seas? Where are the Resurrection and the Judgement, the Bridge and the Balance? Where are the chastising angels, and where is the day that is reckoned as fifty thousand years in the sight of God? Where are Heaven and Hell? Where are the kindled fire, the paradise brought nigh, the river of life, the heavenly streams, the fountain of mercy, and the crystal waters? Where are the chastising angels and the guards of Hell? And where, and where, and where?”
14 The Exalted One—may my life be offered up for Him—hath said that on the day of His Revelation all these events came to pass swifter than the twinkling of an eye, and that “fifty thousand years” were traversed in a single hour.126 If all these momentous events took place in a single moment, would not the school of Him Whom God shall make manifest reach its culmination within fifty years? Behold to what extent they remain captive to idle fancies!
15 The statement “or that which hath been revealed in the Bayán” is indeed meant to caution the people of the Bayán not to say, “Where are the kings of the Bayán, and where is the school of Him Whom God shall make manifest?” Great God! These people condition that Most Great Revelation upon His being admitted, like a child, into a primary school and regard this as the proof of the validity of His Cause. “But what aileth these people that they come not close to understanding what is said unto them?”127
16 Gracious God! After the martyrdom of the Báb—may my soul be offered up for the dust ennobled by His footsteps—in what way did that individual arise, and what actions did he undertake?128 What eloquence did he evince and what wonders did he utter? All the loved ones of the Lord bear witness that, after the martyrdom of the Báb, this person vanished and went into hiding. He fled to the region of Núr, whence he scurried away—in the coarse guise of a dervish—to the regions of Mázindarán and Gílán until he finally reached Kirmánsháh.
17 When the Blessed Beauty was being exiled from Iran, despite the power of the king and the hatred and animosity of all its inhabitants, He arrived in Kirmánsháh in the utmost dignity. That individual did not have the courage to meet Him at that time. And when the Blessed Beauty reached Iraq, that person entered Baghdad secretly and in disguise, and took up residence in the Arab quarter, never daring to meet anyone. His sole accomplishment, his greatest feat, was to seek out a number of girls from here and there and marry them….
18 From the earliest dawn of the Cause until the day of His ascension, the Blessed Beauty, openly and visibly, without any veil or concealment, withstood all the peoples, nations, and rulers of the world and exalted the Word of God. The Tablets to the kings were revealed, and the mystery of adoration was made manifest. In clear and unmistakable language, subject to no interpretation whatsoever, He directed His stern and explicit summons to most of the sovereigns. All the things that flowed from His Most Exalted Pen were fulfilled, one after the other. All that He foretold came to pass, His predictions were confirmed, and His warnings were proven true.
19 “Shall the darkness and the light be held equal?”129 Nay, by thy Lord, the Ever-Forgiving! But the people “entertain themselves with their vain cavillings”.130 They see not, they hear not, neither do they understand.131 “They call upon that beside God which can neither hurt them nor profit them. This same is the far-gone error! He calleth on him who would sooner hurt than profit him. Surely, bad the lord, and, surely, bad the vassal!”132 The Glory of Glories rest upon thee.
1 O servant of the one true God! In cycles gone by, although the signs of God’s power and the truth of His Cause were clear and manifest, yet to outward seeming the divine tests were severe, and the ignorant found grounds for hesitation; for the Sun of Truth shone from behind subtle clouds, inasmuch as the advent of the Promised One was, according to the explicit and decisive terms of the Holy Text, subject to certain conditions. And as the common people, interpreting those Texts according to their literal meanings, found them contrary to their own understanding, they remained veiled and deprived.
2 For example, the advent of the Promised Qá’im was conditioned upon the appearance of the Dajjál,133 of Sufyání,134 of the invincible standard and the unsheathed sword, and of manifest sovereignty; upon the preceding of the Seven Goats and the flight of the dignitaries and leaders of religion from all corners of the world to the Kaaba;135 upon the appearance of astonishing signs, the victory over the East and the West, the submission of all peoples, the slaughter of the divines, and the turning of the seven mills by the flowing blood of those ignorant ones.
3 In the Gospel, too, the conditions for the advent of the Promised One are explicitly stated. They include the darkening of the sun, the eclipse of the moon, the falling of the stars, the quaking of the earth, the heaving of the mountains, the wailing and lamentation of the tribes of the earth, the coming down of the Promised One upon thick clouds, the descent of the hosts of angels, the blast of the trumpet, the call of the bugle, and the like. Thus, to outward seeming, they who failed to recognize Him had an excuse.
4 Likewise, the advent of the Great Resurrection was conditioned upon the quaking of the earth, the rising from the grave, the coming forth of the dead out of their sepulchres, the darkening of the sun, the cleaving of the moon, the scattering of the stars, the reduction of the mountains to dust, the assembling of the beasts, the rending of the heavens, the stretching forth of the Straight Path, the setting up of the Balance, the ingathering of bodies, the blazing of the nethermost fire, the adornment of Paradise, and the appearance of the maids and youths of heaven, the choice fruits, and the Maids of Heaven “whom no man nor spirit hath touched before”.136
5 By all this is meant that the Resurrection was conditioned upon the appearance of all these signs. The Báb—may my life be offered up for Him—hath said that all these momentous events, and the Great Resurrection itself, came to pass in less than the twinkling of an eye and took place in the span of a single breath. And yet not one soul perceived them or grasped their significance. But, praise be to God, in this Most Great Revelation no conditions have been set, no prerequisites have been laid down, no veils exist, nor is there any excuse to remain deprived.
6 It should first be noted that the Báb Himself—may my life be a sacrifice for Him—addressing the greatest pillar of the Bayán, hath said: “Beware, beware, lest the Váḥid of the Bayán or that which hath been sent down in the Bayán shut thee out as by a veil from Him.”137 In other words, take heed during the advent of Him Whom God shall make manifest lest thou become veiled from recognizing Him by the Váḥid of the Bayán itself, “inasmuch as this Váḥid is but a creature in His sight”. That is to say, the Váḥid of the Bayán hath been created by Him Whom God shall make manifest, and this Váḥid consisteth of the eighteen Letters of the Living and the Báb Himself—may my soul be offered up for Him—Who is the nineteenth. He hath furthermore cautioned him to beware lest he be veiled from Him by the very words revealed in the Bayán. That is, he should take care not to say that such-and-such a statement in the Bayán indicateth that He Whom God shall make manifest would appear two thousand years hence. Could an absence of conditions and prerequisites be stated in more unmistakable terms than this? Thus it is evident that in this Most Great Dispensation there is no cause whatsoever for anyone to be veiled.
7 The Báb—may my life be offered up for Him—hath confirmed that the events of the Great Resurrection, which were to take place on the day that is reckoned as “fifty thousand years”, occurred in less than the twinkling of an eye. And yet the people of the Bayán still protest, saying, “Why did the school of Him Whom God shall make manifest not endure? Why did He not gather together with the children, or study the alphabet, or become trained in the abjad?”138 Consider how heedless they are and how foolish, how dull-witted and veiled.
8 Consider, moreover, how God’s limitless power hath appeared and been made manifest in this divine Dispensation. In the past, those who were shut out as by a veil would impute folly and impotence to the divine Manifestations. One would say: “Ye follow none other but a man enchanted”;139 another would cry: “He deviseth a lie about God, or there is a jinn in him”;140 and yet others would speak the words “And when they see thee, they do but take thee as the subject of their railleries. ‘What! Is this he whom God hath sent as an Apostle?’”141
9 During the days of Christ, the people would protest, saying, “O Mary! Thy father was not a man of wickedness, nor unchaste thy mother.”142 Likewise, in the Mosaic Dispensation, the Pharaoh would say, “He, in sooth, is your Master who hath taught you magic.”143 And the chiefs among the people would scorn and scoff at the Prophets, saying, “We see not any who have followed thee except our meanest ones of hasty judgement.”144
10 In this divinely appointed Day, however, in this heavenly age and spiritual century, none hath breathed such words as these. All the peoples and kindreds of the earth—whether Turks or Tajiks, Europeans, Africans, or Americans—have testified to the majesty and glory of the Manifestation of God. At most, they have denied the truth of His Cause and His station as a Manifestation; that is all. Today, in all the newspapers and publications of the world, civilized peoples bear witness to the greatness of the Blessed Beauty. Behold, then, how the might and power of the Word of God hath penetrated the very arteries and nerves of the body of the world.
11 Even the people of the Bayán have gained some credence in the eyes of others, through the pervading influence of the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh, the spreading rays of the Abhá Kingdom, and the irresistible power of the Word of God. For the people regard us all as members of the same community. For instance, when Mullá Hádíy-i-Dawlat-Ábádí was in the presence of the Wolf of Najaf in Iṣfahán,145 he ascended the pulpit, and in order to save his own abject soul—I implore pardon from God!—he wholly recanted his faith in the Báb and cursed and reviled Him. His life was thus spared, and when he came to Ṭihrán he became the embodiment of the words “They are deaf, they are dumb, they are blind and shall return no more.”146 Once the pervading power of the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh had penetrated the whole world, perfuming the East and illuminating the West; once the government had lost hope of exterminating it, and most people were secretly eager to become acquainted with the truth of the matter--then this individual and his kindred and relatives began to assert themselves before the notables and dignitaries in Ṭihrán and engaged in spreading their idle fancies. Since most people regarded us all as belonging to the same community, some from among the seekers accepted the claims of these individuals. The latter should have been grateful for this, but instead, they arose in denial and brought a myriad calumnies against the people of God, defaming them before friends and strangers. Soon shall they find themselves in manifest loss!
12 Moreover, it is known to friend and stranger alike, and even to the people of the Bayán themselves, that after the martyrdom of the Báb, Mírzá Yaḥyá donned the headdress of a dervish and, with an alms-bowl in hand and a wayfarer’s sheepskin cloak upon his shoulders, fled from Mázindarán, leaving all the friends in grave danger, while he himself roamed incognito and in the utmost secrecy in the regions of Mázindarán and Rasht. When Bahá’u’lláh finally reached Baghdad in the plenitude of majesty and glory, Mírzá Yaḥyá also arrived, but in secret and in disguise. And when the Blessed Beauty left for Sulaymáníyyih, he worked and was known as a shoe merchant in Súqu’sh-Shuyúkh, Baghdad, Samávih, and Basra. Then, upon his return to Baghdad through Najaf, he assumed the name of Ḥájí-‘Alíy-i-Láṣ-Furúsh, that is, the silk merchant.
13 No mention whatsoever of the Faith was heard any longer. But when the Blessed Beauty returned and proclaimed the Word of God, when His journey to Constantinople took place, the call and the fame of the True One were noised abroad, and there was no longer occasion for fear or peril—then everyone emerged from behind the veils, found a new arena, and flaunted himself. No one said: O valiant horseman of the arena of Cyprus, who hast sought British protection! Where hast thou been till now? Into what hole hadst thou crept during those eleven years in Baghdad? After the martyrdom of the Báb—may my soul be offered up for Him—what assistance didst thou render, what constancy didst thou manifest, and what steadfastness didst thou evince before the enemies? What action didst thou take, save to address so-called epistles to the Seven Witnesses, such as Mullá Ja‘far in Káshán, Siyyid Muḥammad-i-Malíḥ in Ṭihrán, and others, at the end of each of which was written: “Send us a young maiden”? None of them, God be praised, ever sent any. In one letter was written: “God doth desire to behold thee amongst two thousand heavenly maidens”, and so the number of his wives grew as much as possible. There was Umm-i-Aḥmad from Shíráz, Badrí from Tafrísh, Ruqíyyih from Mázindarán, and several more from Baghdad. And yet, not content with these, he also wed the honoured wife of the Báb, the sister of Mullá Rajab-‘Alí, known as the Mother of the Faithful, marriage to whom, according to the explicit statement of the Báb, was forbidden. A few days later, he passed her on to Ḥájí Siyyid Muḥammad.
14 No more mention was heard—no call, no remembrance or praise. The Cause of the Most Exalted One, the Báb—may my soul be offered up for Him—was effaced and obliterated. Had it not been for the return of the Blessed Beauty—may my soul be offered up for His loved ones—from Kurdistan, I swear by God, besides Whom there is none other, that no trace or name would have remained of this Cause. Friend and stranger alike testify to this.
15 And now that individual is, God be praised, living in Cyprus under British protection, in comfort and happiness, while his hapless disciples in Ṭihrán have been induced, through empty promises and vain methods of divination, to stir up mischief and sedition against the government. He hath promised them that this and that will happen, and that through those foolish disciples, sceptre and crown will be granted. Thus have they all been entangled in the mesh of their own devices. Those hapless ones have been condemned to endless misery and eternal loss, whilst he liveth his days in the utmost comfort and tranquillity, with no fear or trepidation, no dread of peril or danger.
16 In short, the point is that these disciples, who raised such a clamour in Ṭihrán and were so confident in his promises, should have asked him to deign to go to Ṭihrán himself, to act as a true leader and commander, and to issue such incitements and provocations from there. The Manifestations of God and His Chosen Ones have always been the first to carry out that which they enjoin upon others. Yet this individual, while dwelling in peace and safety in his retreat in Cyprus, hath sent his hapless disciples to the cannons and the gallows. Were anyone to gaze with the eye of fairness, this fact alone would suffice. The Glory of Glories rest upon thee.
1 O ye who are staunch! O ye who stand firm! When the light of Divine Essence dawned above the horizon of Singleness, the splendour of His Oneness shone forth and the daysprings of existence were illumined with manifest grace. So radiant was the light of that Sun of Truth, and so abundant the outpourings of the clouds of His bounty, that the soil of all beings, even as a fertile field, became the bearer of the mysteries of all that hath been and shall be. Those mysteries lie latent and preserved in the innermost reality of the soil of existence and are manifested according to the capacity of the world, bringing forth jasmine and lilies, verdant grass and sweet herbs.
2 Those whose icy breath and whispers are as cold as midwinter have now spread in all directions, carrying leaflets of doubt, hoping to wither the soil of the hearts with the biting chill of Covenant-breaking, so that the seeds of divine wisdom that God hath deposited therein may decay and perish. But how far, how very far from the truth! For the glowing fire of the Covenant hath so set the world ablaze that no frost or ice can withstand it for a moment. This, verily, is the truth.
3 Wherefore, O friends of God, gird up the loins of endeavour, and be so enkindled by the Lord’s burning Fire as to light up the East and the West in such wise that every Covenant-breaker would be put to flight and every wavering soul would take heed. Such a great bounty dependeth on unity, harmony, and concord among the beloved of the Lord. The friends in that region must grow so intoxicated by the wine of unity that they become even as a single sea. Though its waves be many, the sea is one; diversity is not an obstacle to unity.
4 Praise be to God, for ye are all illumined by the same Sun and are all brightened by the same Light. Ye are inebriated by the same cup and seek holy ecstasy in the same tavern. Ye are, one and all, enamoured by the countenance of the same Beloved and are captivated by the charm of the same Beauty. Ye quaff from the same wellspring and taste the sweetness of the same draught.
5 It behoveth every one of you, however, to show the utmost consideration unto the revered Hands who are foremost in service, for they are the dawning-places of the manifold bounties, loving-kindness, and favours of the Blessed Beauty.147
1 O beloved servants and handmaidens of God! In its weakness and frailty, the world of humanity is even as a heap of darksome dust. Yet when the clouds of mercy of the All-Knowing Lord rain down upon it, this dark earth shall bring forth crimson flowers and shall become the resplendent rose-garden of the Concourse on high. Although we are weak and feeble, yet the bounties of the Blessed Beauty are boundless and inexhaustible. In offering gratitude, we have no recourse but to confess our own shortcomings, no remedy but to hold our peace, for we are powerless and wanting, feeble and faltering. Wherefore, praise be to the Lord of creation, through Whose bounty these helpless ants show forth the strength of Solomon, and these needy and feeble gnats become royal falcons of the heights of mystery, causing the bestowals of the Almighty to be manifested.
2 Now, concerning the recorded tradition that in former times only two letters were revealed but in the days of the Qá’im all the remaining ones shall be made manifest, the following is meant. All the works and sciences, laws and ordinances, inventions and wonders, and the perfections of the human world that had been manifested in bygone times, were even as two letters. But in this wondrous Dispensation, and with the appearance of the glorious Treasure, the perfections and attainments of the world of humanity and its limitless sciences and arts shall advance to such a degree that they may be likened unto all the remaining letters.
3 That is, this wondrous Dispensation is so different and distinguished from the previous ones that, even as ye witness, though it is still the first century, so many mysteries of creation have, within so short a period, stepped forth out of the realm of the invisible into the visible world. How many well-guarded secrets once enshrined within the realm of the unseen have been revealed! How many discoveries have been made of the hidden realities of things, and how many inventions and wonders have appeared! Infer then from this what the future shall hold. Await the break of His sovereign morn, These are but effects of its early dawn!148 The Glory of Glories rest upon you.
1 O thou who art firm in the Covenant! The opening of thy letter bore the words “O ‘Abdu’l-Bahá!” What a call this was, for it caused my heart to leap with joy and my soul to tremble with delight. Glad-tidings encircled me on every side, my eyes were cheered, and my whole being breathed in the sweet savours of a garden of roses. This call, even as the melody of the Concourse on high, filled the soul of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá with joy and rapture.
2 By Him Who hath illumined my face with the light of absolute servitude to His Holy Threshold! No melody can fill this yearning soul with such joy and rapture as the call of “O ‘Abdu’l-Bahá!” And no sweet accents warbled by the birds of the orchards can thrill my heart with such delight as the dulcet tune of “O ‘Abdu’l-Bahá!” This melody causeth my heart to leap with joy, and these wondrous words fill me with blissful rapture, but only on condition that this name be accompanied by no other epithets of praise, and paired with no other titles. The designation should be “‘Abdu’l-Bahá” alone for it to bestow boundless joy upon my heart and soul. This is my qualification and my station, this is my title and my glory, and this indeed is my highest aspiration throughout eternity.
3 Thou hast commended the beloved of the Lord, saying that they are fully occupied with worship and praise, are seizing the Cup of the Covenant, and, elated with joy at the banquet of the Lord, are unloosing their tongues in gratitude to the All-Merciful. This, indeed, is as it should be, for in this day there is no other path for the friends, and no other testimony for the pure in heart.
4 I beseech and entreat the all-pervasive grace of the Most Bountiful Lord to grant that the hearts of His loved ones may become the repositories of divine inspiration and the daysprings of the effusions of His limitless bounty, so that, with the utmost harmony and fellowship, they may all be freed from the estrangement of the realm of vainglory and may associate with one another with perfect humility and lowliness. May no trace of self be detected from their conduct and manners, from their words and deeds. Man’s greatness lieth in humility, and his abiding glory is found in lowliness, self-effacement, and servitude to the servants of the Lord. This, verily, is the greatest attainment in this resplendent Day.
5 Thou hast asked concerning the blessed verse “From the heaven to the earth He ordereth all things, and hereafter shall they come up to Him on a day whose length shall be a thousand of such years as ye reckon.”149 By this “day” is meant the Day of the Great Resurrection, the Day of Judgement, for on that Day there shall appear such signs and events, such splendours and occurrences, marvels and wonders, truths and mysteries, precepts and writings, that the revelation of those splendours and signs cannot be contained even in fifty thousand years. Moreover, the precepts and laws, and the writings, teachings, and manifold bounties associated with that Day, which is none other than the “appointed time of a known day”,150 shall remain valid and binding for a full thousand years, nay for five hundred thousand years. Such a span of time is merely an approximation that alludeth to ages and centuries. And on that appointed Day, the outpourings of divine grace shall visibly descend from the kingdom of mercy and the heaven of oneness. And as such outpourings of grace cannot endure forever in this nether world, that glorious light must needs return to the luminous Star from whence it came, and those merciful showers that emanate from the liberal effusions of the sea of oneness must return, once again, to the Most Great Ocean.
6 Even as thou hast witnessed, in the day of the appearance of the Point of the Qur’án—may my soul be offered up for Him—the splendours of God’s manifold grace shone forth, clear and manifest, through that luminous Day-Star upon the whole of creation, and for a thousand years that heavenly grace was vouchsafed unto all lands and regions and unto the realities of all created things. And when that Dispensation drew to a close, those signs and splendours returned to the unseen realm.
7 And then, a new Day dawned and a wondrous light shone forth. The Morn of Oneness rose, and the Day-Star of the world gleamed bright. The Most Great Ocean surged, and its billowing waves mounted to the Concourse on high. The clouds of bounty gathered above, and the showers of mercy rained down. The light of truth appeared, and the way of guidance was made manifest. The glorious testimony was disclosed and the path of the All-Merciful Lord became plain and evident. Through the limitless grace of the Divine Springtime, the Abhá Paradise was made to adorn the Most Exalted Kingdom. The bounties, the splendours, the mysteries, the signs, the verses, and the proofs of this wondrous Light that hath hoisted its banners on this joyous Day shall remain in effect for five hundred thousand years.
8 By thy dear life, I have no time to write more; otherwise, I would have written a wondrous commentary, a mighty book, on this blessed verse. The glory of God rest upon thee.