See, for example, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá, 30.2; The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912, trans. Howard MacNutt (Wilmette, IL: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 2012), p. 427; Paris Talks: Addresses Given by ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá in 1911, 2.1 and 28.6.
‘Abdu’l‑Bahá refers to Bahá’u’lláh here by His title Jamál-i-Mubárak (the Blessed Beauty). He is also called Jamál-i-Qidám (the Ancient Beauty) and Qalam-i-A‘lá (the Pen of the Most High), but He will be designated throughout as Bahá’u’lláh, the title by which He is known in the West.
Bahá’u’lláh was exiled first from Ṭihrán to Baghdád, then to Constantinople (Istanbul), then to Adrianople (Edirne), and was imprisoned in ‘Akká, “the Most Great Prison”, in 1868, in the precincts of which He passed away in 1892.
Bahá’u’lláh’s first Tablet to Napoleon III was revealed in Adrianople (see Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, trans. Shoghi Effendi [Wilmette, IL: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1988, 2001 printing], p. 45), which Bahá’u’lláh called the “remote prison”.
“Regarding the four and twenty elders: The Master, in a Tablet, stated that they are the Báb, the 18 Letters of the Living and five others who would be known in the future.” (From a letter dated 22 July 1943 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer.) ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá in a Tablet identified one of the remaining five as Ḥájí Mírzá Muḥammad-Taqí Afnán, Vakílu’d-Dawlih.
The translation of the paragraph to this point follows Shoghi Effendi’s revision of this passage as quoted in The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh: Selected Letters (Wilmette, IL: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1991, 2012 printing), pp. 204–5, and The Promised Day Is Come, ¶297. It should be noted that the word nahál, which corresponds to “rod” in English and which has been rendered as such in paragraphs 1–2, has been rendered in this paragraph as “Branch”. In both cases the reference is to Bahá’u’lláh.
Elsewhere ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá’s classification also includes the mineral spirit; see, for example, Chapter 64; Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l- Bahá, sec. 30; and The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912, trans. Howard MacNutt (Wilmette, IL: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 2012), pp. 95, 264–5, 336, 360, and 377–8.
The word naw‘, translated here and in following chapters as “species”, has a range of meanings including kind, sort, and type. ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá is not using the word in the modern biological sense but in the sense of changeless archetypal forms.
“The first duty prescribed by God for His servants is the recognition of Him Who is the Dayspring of His Revelation and the Fountain of His laws, Who representeth the Godhead in both the Kingdom of His Cause and the world of creation. Whoso achieveth this duty hath attained unto all good; and whoso is deprived thereof hath gone astray, though he be the author of every righteous deed.” (Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶1.)
While, as ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá explains, the idea is of ancient origin, its history in Islamic thought begins with Ibnu’l-‘Arabí (1165–1240). “Ibnu’l-‘Arabí is a thoroughgoing monist, and the name given to his doctrine (vaḥdatu’l-vujúd, the unity of existence) justly describes it. He holds that all things pre-exist as ideas in the knowledge of God, whence they emanate and whither they ultimately return.” R. A. Nicholson, “Mysticism”, The Legacy of Islam, ed. Sir Thomas Arnold and Alfred Guillaume (Oxford University Press, 1931), p. 224.
Cf. Plotinus, Ennead 5.2.1: “The One is all things and not a single one of them…” (Armstrong’s trans.); and Plato, Parmenides 160b2–3: “Thus, if there is a One, the One is both all things and nothing whatsoever, alike with reference to itself and to the Others” (Cornford’s trans.). In the tradition of the Islamic philosophers, certain of the writings of Plotinus are attributed to Aristotle.