Saturday, April 28, 2012

Study Guide to the Book of Certitude - Part One


I am transferring these notes from a Word document to this site, and will gradually improve the material. The strange symbols that appear are places in the text where I had Arabic or Persian characters inserted, but I cannot use that font in this website; I will gradually remove them.  The phrases in CAPS are from each of the paragraphs in the Iqan.  The notes in this post go through paragraph 101 - up to the end of Part One of the Iqan.


Iqan, Paragraph 1, page 3

IN THE NAME OF OUR LORD, THE EXALTED, THE MOST HIGH.

NO man shall attain the shores of the ocean of true understanding except he be detached from all that is in heaven and on earth. Sanctify your souls, O ye peoples of the world, that haply ye may attain that station which God hath destined for you and enter thus the tabernacle which, according to the dispensations of Providence, hath been raised in the firmament of the Bayan.

The Exalted „ŠüëチÙì£
Elsewhere translated by Shoghi Effendi as Most Exalted, Most August, most lofty, transcendent

The Most High üëÚœ¤ì£
Also translated by Shoghi Effendi as glory, most sublime, celestial, all-glorious, divine, on high, supreme, effulgent, most high, transcendent, above, wondrous (AHW 19), all-compelling, abode of supreme blissfulness, imperishable


THE EXALTED LORD
From the very first verse of this sacred Book, Baha'u'llah
demonstrates that His theme is to prove the Mission of the Bab.
He begins with the words, "In the Name of Our Lord, the Exalted
. . . "  The Arabic word "`Ala" ("Exalted") is used.  The same word is used in the exclamation "Ya Aliyyu'l-`Ala," which refers to the Bab.  In one of the verses of the Long Obligatory Prayer
(Baha'i Prayers 12) the worshiper prays, "No God is there but
Thee, the Most Exalted [`Ala], the All-Glorious [Abha], referring
to both of the Manifestations.  The same juxtaposition of words
appears in the Long Prayer for the Fast (Thou seest me, O my God,
holding to Thy Name, the Most Holy, the Most Luminous, the Most
Mighty, the Most Great, the most Exalted, the Most Glorious. . ."
See also Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 185, where Baha'u'llah,
speaking of the Bábís who did not recognize Him states:


     And since they fixed their eyes on names, therefore
     when He replaced His Name "the Most Exalted" by "the
     Most Glorious" their eyes were dimmed.

There are many examples, in the Writings of `Abdu'l-Baha, some of
them in extremely important verses, in which He refers to the Bab
simply as "The Exalted One." (The Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-
Baha 4, 5, 11, 19, 20; Memorials of the Faithful 176; Selections
from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Baha 73, 295).


COMPLETION OF THE BAYAN
It is also befitting that Baha'u'llah makes mention of the Bab in
the opening verse of this Work, because the Book of Certitude is
the spiritual fulfillment of the Bab's greatest Work, the Bayan.

     The Bab specified that the "Bayan" is not completed and
     that "He Whom God would manifest" (Baha'u'llah) would
     complete it, though not in its actual form, but only
     spiritually in the form of another book. The "Iqan" is
     believed to be its continuation.
     (Letter from the Guardian's secretary on his behalf dated
     February 17, 1939, "Dawn of a New Day," p. 78)


ATTAINMENT TO THE "SHORES OF THE OCEAN OF TRUE UNDERSTANDING"
Please compare this verse which appears later in the Iqan using the same symbolic language:

Peace be upon him whom the light of truth guideth unto all truth, and who, in the name of God, standeth in the path of His Cause, upon the shore of true understanding.  (Paragraph 44, page 43)

Sometimes the symbol of attainment to the "shore" is of the seeker traveling on land who reaches the shore of the ocean, such as the story of the knower and the grammarian in the First Valley (The Seven Valleys and The Four Valleys 51).  At other times, the spiritual wayfarer is on the sea, which is a place of danger, and the goal is the safety of the shore.

`Abdu'l-Baha reportedly explained the Gospel narrative of Jesus walking on the water to a pilgrim in this way:

In this story of our Lord Jesus, the Sea of Tiberias represents the ocean of creation -- the two shores represent earthly truth and spiritual truth.  The boat or ark stands for arguments and reasons by which men acquire knowledge and in this boat Jesus' disciples were tossed on the waves of the ocean of creation.  The shore which Jesus left in order to come to them, walking on the water, represents earthly knowledge.  The haven or shore to which he guided them represents spiritual knowledge.  There are three ways of apprehending truth:  1.  The earthly way, -- by means of the five senses;  2.  The way of argument and reasoning . . . 3.  The spiritual way, by which man receives knowledge from the inner light or inspiration . . . .  As we have before said in the account of this miracle, the disciples of Jesus attempted to sail over the sea of creation in the ark of argument and reasoning, finding great difficulty and danger in proving the truth by so doing.  But when Christ, the Light of the world, who knew all things by the light of inner spiritual illumination, came to them in their boat, walking by his knowledge over the ocean of existence, and having no need of the ark of argument, then immediately they were at their desired haven. ("The Symbolic Meaning of Walking on the Sea," Words of `Abdu'l-Baha:  From the Notes of Miss E. Rosenberg, 1901; Star of the West, Volume VIII, No. 9, page 114, Blue Reprint Volume #5)


"Now when evening came, His disciples went down to the sea, got into the boat, and went over the sea toward Capernaum.  And it was already dark, and Jesus had not come to them.  Then the sea arose because a great wind was blowing.  So when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat; and they were afraid.  But He said to them, 'It is I; do not be afraid.'  Then they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going."
(John 6:16-21)


Many a soul in the ark of philosophy, after fruitless struggles, was drowned in the sea of conflicting theories of cause and effect, while those on board the craft of simplicity reached the shore of the Universal Cause by the aid of favorable winds blowing from the Point of Divine Knowledge.  When man is associated with that transcendent Power emanating from the Word of God, the tree of his being becomes so well rooted in the soil of assurance that it laughs at the violent hurricanes of skepticism which attempt its eradication.
(`Abdu'l-Baha, quoted in the frontispiece to a book by Thornton Chase published by the Baha'i Publishing Committee in New York)


There are other verses in the Gospel that use the symbol of the people "standing on the shore":

"And great multitudes were gathered together to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore." (Matthew 13:2)

In His most interesting description of the great teacher of the Faith Mulla Ali-Akbar Shahmirzadi, appointed a Hand of the Cause of God by Baha'u'llah, the Master uses this imagery of his attainment to the shore of the Ocean, his thirst having remained unquenched in the gatherings of mystics and philosophers.
(Memorials of the Faithful 10)

Study questions:  Do you feel that this verse from the Gospel should be taken literally, allegorically, or both?  If allegorically, do you think that the people "on the shore" means those like the grammarian who did not commit himself, or that it means that they had attained to belief in Christ?  (There is not only one right answer to such questions - we are encouraged to use the Writings as a guide to strive for our own understanding of the symbolism in the Bible - Some Answered Questions, p. 126)


TRUE UNDERSTANDING
Please note that the word in the Arabic, ð¤â¾ƒÙì£ "`irfán" translated in the first paragraph of the Iqan as "true understanding," has also been translated by the Guardian as "know" in the Short Obligatory Prayer, and as "recognize" in the first sentence of the Most Holy Book.  The late, wonderful Dr. Jalal Mahmoudi wrote an article on this subject "Irfan, Gnosis or Mystical Knowledge" in World Order Magazine in 1973.



"DETACHED FROM ALL THAT IS IN HEAVEN AND ON EARTH"

In many places in the Writings the believers are urged to place
their love for God above the love for the things of this world
and above even the gifts of heaven, as paradise is also one of God's creations and should not be equated to union with Him:

     Or if thy gaze should be on paradise, and thou shouldst
     worship Him while cherishing such a hope, thou wouldst
     make God's creation a partner with Him, notwithstanding
     the fact that paradise is desired by men.  Fire and
     paradise both bow down and prostrate themselves before
     God. That which is worthy of His Essence is to worship
     Him for His sake, without fear of fire, or hope of
     paradise.  Although when true worship is offered, the
     worshipper is delivered from the fire, and entereth the
     paradise of God's good-pleasure, yet such should not be
     the motive of his act.
     (Selections from the Writings of the Bab, pp. 77-78)


SANCTIFY YOUR SOULS
The word the Guardian here translates as “sanctify” comes from the Arabic root Q-D-S quds.  This same Arabic word is related to “Aqdas,” the Most Holy, and “Quddus,” the Holy One.

TABERNACLE

Also translated as pavilion (PHW 23 “dwellers in the pavilion of glory”, PHW 46 “peerless pavilion”, WTAB 5 “dwellers in the Pavilion of the Abha Kingdom”, sanctuary

Iqan, paragraph 2, pages 3-4

THE essence of these words is this: they that tread the path of faith, they that thirst for the wine of certitude, must cleanse themselves of all that is earthly -- their ears from idle talk, their minds from vain imaginings, their hearts from worldly affections, their eyes from that which perisheth. They should put their trust in God, and, holding fast unto Him, follow in His way. Then will they be made worthy of the effulgent glories of the sun of divine knowledge and understanding, and become the recipients of a grace that is infinite and unseen, inasmuch as man can never hope to attain unto the knowledge of the All-Glorious, can never quaff from the stream of divine knowledge and wisdom, can never enter the abode of immortality, nor partake of the cup of divine nearness and favor, unless and until he ceases to regard the words and deeds of mortal men as a standard for the true understanding and recognition of God and His Prophets.


THEY THAT THIRST

     The first thing to do is to acquire a thirst for
     Spirituality, then Live the Life! Live the Life! Live
     the Life! The way to acquire this thirst is to meditate
     upon the future life. Study the Holy Words, read your
     Bible, read the Holy Books, especially study the Holy
     Utterances of Baha'u'llah; Prayer and Meditation, take
     much time for these two. Then will you know this Great
     Thirst, and then only can you begin to Live the Life!
     (`Abdu'l-Baha, quoted in the Compilation on Deepening)


The state in which one should be to seriously search for the truth is the condition of the thirsty, burning soul desiring the water of life, of the fish struggling to reach the sea, of the sufferer seeking for the true doctor to obtain the divine cure, of the lost caravan endeavoring to find the right road, of the lost and wandering ship striving to reach the shore of salvation.

Therefore, the seeker must be endowed with certain qualities. First of all, he must be just and severed from all else save God; his heart must be entirely turned to the supreme horizon; he must be free from the bondage of self and passion, for all these are obstacles. Furthermore, he must be able to endure all hardships. He must be absolutely pure and sanctified, and free from the love or the hatred of the inhabitants of the world. Why? because the fact of his love for any person or thing might prevent him from recognizing the truth in another, and, in the same way, hatred for anything might be a hindrance in discerning truth. This is the condition of seeking, and the seeker must have these qualities and attributes. Until he reaches this condition, it is not possible for him to attain to the Sun of Reality.
(Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, Chapter 10, pp. 38-39)


     Make no search for water.
     But find thirst,
     And water from the very ground will burst.
     (Persian mystic poem, quoted on p. 77, "Stories from
     the Delight of Hearts, The Memoirs of Haji Mirza
     Haydar-Ali")


O thou who are athirst for the water of Life!  This manifest Book
is the fountainhead of the Water of Life eternal.  Drink so much
as thou art able from the fountain of the living water.  O thou
who art seeking after the knowledge of God!  Immerse thyself in
the ocean of the explanation of the Beauty of the Merciful, so
that thou mayest gather from its depths the pearls of the wisdom
of God.
(`Abdu'l-Baha, from the frontispiece to `Ali-Kuli-Khan's
translation of the Iqan)


THE WINE OF CERTITUDE

The wine mentioned in the Tablets has undoubtedly a spiritual
meaning for in the book of Aqdas we are definitely forbidden to
take not only wine, but every thing that deranges the mind.  In
poetry as a whole wine is taken to have a different connotation
than the ordinary intoxicating liquid.  We see it thus used by
the Persian Poets such as Sa'di and 'Umar Khayam and Hafiz to
mean that element which nears man to his divine beloved, which
makes him forget his material self so as better to seek his
spiritual desires.
(From a letter on behalf of the Guardian, "The Light of Divine
Guidance," Volume 2, pp. 9-10)

STUDY QUESTIONS:

In the Gospel of John, Chapter 2, Jesus changes water into wine.
What do you think this means?

Please consider this verse from the Hidden Words:

O SON OF DUST!
Turn not away thine eyes from the matchless wine of the immortal
Beloved, and open them not to foul and mortal dregs. Take from
the hands of the divine Cup-bearer the chalice of immortal life,
that all wisdom may be thine, and that thou mayest hearken unto
the mystic voice calling from the realm of the invisible. Cry
aloud, ye that are of low aim! Wherefore have ye turned away from
My holy and immortal wine unto evanescent water?
(Hidden Words of Baha'u'llah, Persian #62)

Observe, in the course of your reading throughout the Book --
How does Baha'u'llah speak of certitude?
What images does He use?
What divine blessings does certitude bring?

What is the significance of the name Carmel, literally, "Vineyard
of God?"

Please review this Bible verse in which the Word of God is compared to wine:  Isaiah 55:1


CLEANSE ... THEIR EARS ... THEIR MINDS ... THEIR HEARTS ... THEIR
EYES

Verses for comparison:

". . . had these people in the days of each of the Manifestations
of the Sun of Truth sanctified their eyes, their ears, and their
hearts . . . they surely would not have been deprived of
beholding the beauty of God . . . "
(Iqan, paragraph 14, page 14)

O SON OF DUST!
Blind thine eyes, that thou mayest behold My beauty; stop thine
ears, that thou mayest hearken unto the sweet melody of My voice;
empty thyself of all learning, that thou mayest partake of My
knowledge; and sanctify thyself from riches, that thou mayest
obtain a lasting share from the ocean of My eternal wealth. Blind
thine eyes, that is, to all save My beauty; stop thine ears to
all save My word; empty thyself of all learning save the
knowledge of Me; that with a clear vision, a pure heart and an
attentive ear thou mayest enter the court of My holiness.
(Hidden Words Persian #11)


UNLESS AND UNTIL HE CEASES TO REGARD THE WORDS AND DEEDS OF
MORTAL MEN AS A STANDARD FOR THE TRUE UNDERSTANDING AND
RECOGNITION OF GOD AND HIS PROPHETS

Verses for comparison:

But having weighed the testimony of God by the standard of their
own knowledge, gleaned from the teachings of the leaders of their
faith, and found it at variance with their limited understanding,
they arose to perpetrate such unseemly acts.
(Iqan paragraph 14, p. 15)

Myriads of holy verses have descended from the heaven of might
and grace, yet no one hath turned thereunto, nor ceased to cling
to those words of men, not one letter of which they that have
spoken them comprehend.
(Iqan paragraph 112, p. 105)

Only those will attain to the knowledge of the Word of God that
have turned unto Him, and repudiated the manifestations of Satan.
(Iqan paragraph 130, pp. 122-123)

Please compare this passage from one of Plato's Dialogues:

Socrates: Tell me, then, whether I am right in saying that some
          opinions, and the opinions of some men only, are to be
          valued, and other opinions, and the opinions of other
          men, are not to be valued.  I ask you whether I was
          right in maintaining this?

Crito:    Certainly.

Socrates: The good are to be regarded, and not the bad?

Crito:    Yes.

Socrates: And the opinions of the wise are good, and the
          opinions of the unwise are evil?

Crito:    Certainly.

Socrates: And what was said about another matter?  Was the
          disciple in gymnastics supposed to attend to the praise
          and blame and opinion of every man, or of one man
          only -- his physician or trainer, whoever that was?

Crito:    Of one man only.

Socrates: And he ought to fear the censure and welcome the
          praise of that one only, and not of the many?

Crito:    That is clear.

Socrates:
     And he ought to live and train, and eat and drink in the
          way which seems good to his single master who has
          understanding, rather than according to the opinion of
          all other men put together?

Crito:    True.

Socrates: And if he disobeys and disregards the opinion and
          approval of the one, and regards the opinion of the
          many who have no understanding, will he not suffer
          evil?

Crito:    Certainly he will.
. . .

Socrates: . . . ought we to follow the opinion of the many and to
          fear them; or the opinion of the one man who has
          understanding, and whom we ought to fear and
          reverence more than all the rest of the world; and
          whom deserting we shall destroy and injure that
          principle in us . . .



Iqan, paragraph 3:

Consider the past. How many, both high and low, have, at all times, yearningly awaited the advent of the Manifestations of God in the sanctified persons of His chosen Ones. How often have they expected His coming, how frequently have they prayed that the breeze of divine mercy might blow, and the promised Beauty step forth from behind the veil of concealment, and be made manifest to all the world. And whensoever the portals of grace did open, and the clouds of divine bounty did rain upon mankind, and the light of the Unseen did shine above the horizon of celestial might, they all denied Him, and turned away from His face--the face of God Himself. Refer ye, to verify this truth, to that which hath been recorded in every sacred Book.


Baha'u'llah now begins to exercise His persuasive power.  See how effectively He calls to mind the treatment meted out to the Prophets of the past, to enable the Bab's uncle to deal with the paradox of tremendous expectation of the Qa'im, and the rejection of the Bab and His Message.

SANCTIFIED PERSONS

ö‰ýƹå the word, derived from “quds” translated here by Shoghi Effendi as “sanctified,” is elsewhere translated by him as celestial, holy, sacred, glory.

êç¤ýø Haykal, translated here as “persons,” is elsewhere translated by Shoghi Effendi as temples, form, bodies, tabernacle, manifestations, embodiments, men, beings, souls, mortals.

THE BREEZE OF DIVINE MERCY MIGHT BLOW
Please compare this verse which appears later in the Iqan which contains the same imagery:
"Our hope is that, God willing, the breeze of mercy may blow, and the divine Springtime clothe the tree of being with the robe of a new life . . ."
(Iqan p. 129, paragraph 140)

AND THE PROMISED BEAUTY STEP FORTH FROM BEHIND THE VEIL OF CONCEALMENT
This image is often used.  Please compare:
"And when Thy promise came to pass, and the set time was fulfilled, Thou didst lift, to an imperceptible degree, the veil of concealment, and lo, all the inmates of the kingdoms of Thy Revelation and of Thy creation shook and trembled, except those who were created by Thee . . ."
(Prayers and Meditations, p. 308)

"And when this process of progressive Revelation culminated in the stage at which His peerless, His most sacred, and exalted Countenance was to be unveiled to men's eyes, He chose to hide His own Self behind a thousand veils, lest profane and mortal eyes discover His glory. This He did at a time when the signs and tokens of a divinely-appointed Revelation were being showered upon Him - signs and tokens which none can reckon except the Lord, your God, the Lord of all worlds. And when the set time of concealment was fulfilled, We sent forth, whilst still wrapt within a myriad veils, an infinitesimal glimmer of the effulgent Glory enveloping the Face of the Youth, and lo, the entire company of the dwellers of the Realms above were seized with violent commotion and the favored of God fell down in adoration before Him."
(Extract from "The Tablet of the People," Gleanings 75)

Please compare this verse from the Old Testament, perhaps “unsealed” by these verses of the Iqan:

"And it came to pass, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of testimony in his hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses knew not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with Him.  And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him.  And Moses called unto them; and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned unto him: and Moses talked with them. And afterward all the children of Israel came nigh: and he gave them as commandments all that the LORD had spoken with him on Mount Sinai.  And when Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil on his face. But when Moses went in before the LORD to speak with Him, he took the veil off, until he came out. And he came out, and spoke unto the children of Israel that which he was commanded.  And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses' face shone: and Moses put the veil upon his face again, until he went in to speak with Him."  (Exodus 34:29-35)


I have seen one report from a non-Baha'i that toward the end of His earthly days, when Baha'u'llah went out in public He sometimes wore a veil over His face.



THE CLOUDS OF DIVINE BOUNTY DID RAIN UPON MANKIND

Please see how Jesus compares the bounty of God to rain:

"That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust."  (Matthew 5:45)

Also please compare how the Prophet Hosea used the image of rain to speak of true guidance from God:

" Let us know, let us pursue the knowledge of the LORD.   His going forth is established as the morning.  He will come to us like the rain, like the latter and former rain to the earth."
(Hosea 6:1-3)

"As the appearance of the rainbow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD."
(Ezekiel 1:28)

THE LIGHT OF THE UNSEEN ¥ýÞ ÄîÊ
The word he translates here as “light” he elsewhere translates as sun, day-star, splendor, orb, central orb, luminary, divine essence.  Súrah 91 of the Qur'án is the Súrih of the Sun, shams.

The word here translated by Shoghi Effendi as “unseen” he elsewhere translates as hidden, invisible, innermost, unknowable, mystic, above.


CELESTIAL MIGHT

In the original, «½¹å Qudrat, elsewhere in the Bahá'í Writings translated by Shoghi Effendi as power, grandeur, omnipotence, decree, destine, determined, ordained, foreordained, assigned, dominion, sovereignty, might, capacity, strength, energetically,

THEY ALL DENIED HIM, AND TURNED AWAY FROM HIS FACE

Please compare:

Consider the Dispensation of Jesus Christ.  Behold, how all the learned men of that generation, though eagerly anticipating the coming of the Promised One, have nevertheless denied Him.
(Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 83, Section XXXV)

Consider the eagerness with which certain peoples and nations have anticipated the return of Imam-Husayn . . . The world is illumined with the effulgent glory of His countenance.  And yet, behold how far its peoples have strayed from His path!
(Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 12, Section IX)

Gracious God!  Within the domains of Islam there are at present seven powerful sovereigns ruling the world.  None of them hath been informed of His [the Báb’s] Manifestation, and if informed, none hath believed in Him.  Who knoweth, they may leave this world below full of desire, and without having realized that the thing for which thy were waiting had come to pass. This is what happened to the monarchs that held fast unto the Gospel.  They awaited the coming of the Prophet of God [Muhammad], and when He did appear, they failed to recognize Him. (The Báb, The Book of Seven Proofs, Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 117)

And He began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.
(Mark 8:31)

Consider, likewise, how numerous at this time are the monks who have secluded themselves in their churches, in My name, and who, when the appointed time came, and We unveiled to them Our beauty, failed to recognize Me, notwithstanding that they call upon Me at dawn and at eventide.
(The Proclamation of Baha'u'llah, p. 97)


In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, "Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me."  But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.
(Matthew 26:55-56)

Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, "Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee." But he denied before them all, saying, "I know not what thou sayest." And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, "This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth." And again he denied with an oath, "I do not know the man." And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, "Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech betrayeth thee."  Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, "I know not the man." And immediately the cock crowed.  And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, "Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice."
And he went out, and wept bitterly.
(Matthew 26:68-75)


Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head cornerstone: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?
(Matthew 21:42)


Please observe how effective is Baha'u'llah's appeal to review the Scriptures of the past, to see that the Prophets, despite the Truth of their Mission and the people's eager anticipation, were rejected by them.




Paragraph 4 of the Iqan (pp. 4-5):

Ponder for a moment, and reflect upon that which hath been the
cause of such denial on the part of those who have searched with
such earnestness and longing. Their attack hath been more fierce
than tongue or pen can describe. Not one single Manifestation of
Holiness hath appeared but He was afflicted by the denials, the
repudiation, and the vehement opposition of the people around
Him. Thus it hath been revealed: "O the misery of men! No
Messenger cometh unto them but they laugh Him to scorn." Again He
saith: "Each nation hath plotted darkly against their Messenger
to lay violent hold on Him, and disputed with vain words to
invalidate the truth."

Friends, there are many important references and explanatory
notes in Mr. Dunbar's "Companion to the Study of the Kitab-i-
Iqan."  I am not repeating them here, both out of respect for his
copyright, and because you really should have the book in order
to properly understand the Iqan.

----

The theme of this paragraph can be compared with that of Section
XXIII of the Gleanings, pages 56-58, which is an excerpt from a
Tablet to Abbas Furuq.

------------

NOT ONE SINGLE MANIFESTATION OF HOLINESS HATH APPEARED BUT HE WAS
AFFLICTED BY THE DENIALS, THE REPUDIATION, AND THE VEHEMENT
OPPOSITION OF THE PEOPLE AROUND HIM


     The Meccans said, "Know this, O Muhammad, we shall
     never cease to stop thee from preaching till either
     thou or we perish."
     (Quoted in Marzieh Gail, "Six Lessons on Islam", Page 8)

     For three years (617-619) they blockaded Him and His
     kinsmen in a remote quarter of the town and forbade the
     other townspeople to have any dealings with them
     whatever. Then [His wife] Khadijih died (December, 619 AD)
     and five weeks later, Muhammad's uncle and protector.
     Since His own people refused Him, He then went to
     another city -- Ta'if, a beautiful place about seventy
     miles distant, where fruit trees grew -- but the people
     stoned Him away.  (Ibid., page 8)


     The Meccans did not know what to make of Him. For a
     time they mocked Him: "Here cometh the son of
     `Abdu'llah with his news from heaven." . . .
     The Quraysh stopped Him from praying in the Ka'bih,
     they pursued Him, they covered Him and His disciples
     with filth when they were praying, they incited
     children and the rabble to follow and mock them, a
     woman strewed thorns where He would walk. (Ibid., p. 7)
   

     Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the
     common hall, and gathered unto Him the whole band of
     soldiers. And they stripped Him, and put on him a
     scarlet robe. And when they had plaited a crown of
     thorns, they put it upon His head, and a reed in His
     right hand: and they bowed the knee before Him, and
     mocked Him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!"  And they
     spit upon Him, and took the reed, and smote Him on the
     head.  (Matthew 27:9-30)


     And the men that held Jesus mocked him, and smote him.
     And when they had blindfolded him, they struck him on
     the face, and asked him, saying, "Prophesy, who is it
     that smote thee?" And many other things blasphemously
     spake they against him.  (Luke 22:63-65)


     Consider the history of the past.  Recall, for
     instance, the days of Christ and the events subsequent
     thereto.  How many were the books written against Him!
     What calumnies were attributed to Him!  How violent
     were the utterances in the temples against Him!  How
     many the accusations!  What hatred and persecution!
     How they scoffed at Him in derision and contempt!
     Consider the titles and epithets they bestowed upon His
     majesty! They even designated Him Beelzebub -- Satan.
They said Beelzebub had been captured and crucified.
     They placed a crown of thorns upon Beelzebub's head and
     paraded Him through the streets.  This was the name the
     Jews bestowed upon Christ; it is written in the Gospel. [Matthew 10:25, Mark 3:22]
     There were many other forms of reviling and
     persecution, spitting in His beautiful face, cursing
     and anathematizing, bowing backward toward Him, saying,
     "Peace be on thee, thou king of the Jews!" "Peace be on
     thee, thou destroyer of the temple!" "Peace be on thee,
     thou king and pretender who would restore the temple in
     three days!" The philosophers of the times, Romans and
     Greeks, wrote against Christ.  Even the kings wrote
     books of abuse, calumny and contempt.
     (`Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace,
     p. 429; see also pp. 435-436)

-------

"NO MESSENGER COMETH UNTO THEM BUT THEY LAUGH HIM TO SCORN"

Bahá'u'lláh quotes this verse from Súrah 40, the Surih of "The Believer," which was revealed in Mecca during a time of great persecution of Muhammad. The believer mentioned in the title refers to a believer in Moses from among Pharaoh's people.  This believer is referred to by Baha'u'llah in paragraph 12 of the Iqan, page 12, where additional verses from this Surih are quoted.

     And when Jesus came into the ruler's house, and saw the
     Flute players and the noisy crowd wailing, He said to
     them, "Make room: for the girl is not dead, but
     sleeping." And they laughed him to scorn.
     (Matthew 9:23-24)


Also compare the verse from Muhammad quoted by Baha'u'llah, to
these words of Jesus:

     Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and
     say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.
     Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your
     reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets
     who were before you.  (Matthew 5:12)


For further references in the Bible see Mark 9:12, Matthew 13:57,
and Acts 51:54.


Iqan, paragraph 5:

In like manner, those words that have streamed forth from the source of power and descended from the heaven of glory are innumerable and beyond the ordinary comprehension of man. To them that are possessed of true understanding and insight the Súrah of Hud surely sufficeth. Ponder a while those holy words in your heart, and, with utter detachment, strive to grasp their meaning. Examine the wondrous behaviour of the Prophets, and recall the defamations and denials uttered by the children of negation and falsehood, perchance you may cause the bird of the human heart to wing its flight away from the abodes of heedlessness and doubt unto the nest of faith and certainty, and drink deep from the pure waters of ancient wisdom, and partake of the fruit of the tree of divine knowledge. Such is the share of the pure in heart of the bread that hath descended from the realms of eternity and holiness.

--------


THE SÚRAH OF HUD . . . PONDER A WHILE THOSE HOLY WORDS IN YOUR HEART

Bahá'u'lláh calls on the reader to read and ponder the 11th Súrah of the Qur'án, the Súrah of Húd, in which is described a succession of Prophets including Arabian Prophets not mentioned in the Bible-–Noah, Húd, Sálih, Abraham, Lot, Shu’ayb and Moses--all of whom were rejected by the people to whom They were sent.

“Those holy words” is literally “that sacred [mubarak] Súrah.”


WONDROUS BEHAVIOUR
The word translated as “wondrous,” Ø¡£¹§ derived from Badi’, he elsewhere translates as “new,” “unique” and “definite”.


ANCIENT WISDOM ê£Àþ ¤ì «îç¶  hikmat al-Izal.  The Guardian elsewhere translates izal, or azal, as everlasting, forever, immemorial, throughout eternity, unchangeable, imperishable, and immortal.


DIVINE KNOWLEDGE  ê¤ë²ì£ û¼ íëÚ alim zi al-jalál
Jalal, translated here as “divine,” is elsewhere translated most often by Shoghi Effendi as All-Glorious, and also as “might,” “majesty,” and “glory.”


--------

THE BREAD THAT HATH DESCENDED FROM THE REALMS OF ETERNITY AND HOLINESS

Please compare these verses that appear later in the Iqan.  These cross references aid me to understand the Book; perhaps they will also help you:

This is the bread of which it is said: "Lord, send down upon us Thy bread from heaven." This bread shall never be withheld from them that deserve it, nor can it ever be exhausted. It groweth everlastingly from the tree of grace; it descendeth at all seasons from the heavens of justice and mercy. Even as He saith: "Seest thou not to what God likeneth a good word? To a good tree; its root firmly fixed, and its branches reaching unto heaven: yielding its fruit in all seasons."
(Paragraph 22, page 23)


For the life of the flesh is common to both men and animals, whereas the life of the spirit is possessed only by the pure in heart who have quaffed from the ocean of faith and partaken of the fruit of certitude.
(Paragraph 128, p. 120)

Please note that these images of "pure waters" and of the "fruit" of the "tree" of divine knowledge figure prominently in a prophecy at the end of the Revelation of St. John, a prophecy of the features of the City of God "having the Glory of God" that will descend:

And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.  In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
(Revelation 22:1-2)

`Abdu'l-Bahá has written: “The Tree of Life, of which mention is made in the Bible, is Bahá'u'lláh.” (Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 57)

The image of bread from heaven is also a feature of the Dispensations of Moses and Jesus:

Then said the LORD unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.
(Exodus 16:4)


Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.  For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.  Then said they unto him, "Lord, evermore give us this bread."  And Jesus said unto them, "I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst."
(John 6:32-35; also see verses 50-51))

----

THE BIRD OF THE HUMAN HEART TO WING ITS FLIGHT . . .
UNTO THE NEST OF FAITH AND CERTAINTY

This is a characteristic passage of the Íqán—Bahá'u'lláh’s call to the seeker to abandon doubt and attain to faith.  Its sweetness is unparalleled.  It is an example of the magnetic and yet subtle power of the Manifestation to elevate people from the “baser stages of doubt” to the exalted heights of certainty.

Some of the imagery Baha'u'llah uses has antecedents in Islamic literature.  For example, see how Rumi speaks of false leaders and true spiritual leaders:

Stay in the company of lovers.
Those other kinds of people, they each
want to show you something.

A crow will lead you to an empty barn,
a parrot to sugar.

---------

THOSE WORDS THAT ... ARE ... BEYOND THE ORDINARY COMPREHENSION OF MAN

œöÔ¤¶£ translated here by Shoghi Effendi as “ordinary comprehension,” is elsewhere translated by him as “mastery” and as “supremacy.”

To ward off such dissensions as these and prevent any person from creating a division or sect the Blessed Perfection, Baha'u'llah, appointed a central authoritative Personage, declaring Him to be the expounder of the Book.  This implies that the people in general do not understand the meanings of the Book, but this appointed One does understand.
(The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 382)




Paragraph 6, pp. 6-7:

Should you acquaint yourself with the indignities heaped upon the Prophets of God, and apprehend the true causes of the objections voiced by their oppressors, you will surely appreciate the significance of their position. Moreover, the more closely you observe the denials of those who have opposed the Manifestations of the divine attributes, the firmer will be your faith in the Cause of God. Accordingly, a brief mention will be made in this Tablet of divers accounts relative to the Prophets of God, that they may demonstrate the truth that throughout all ages and centuries the Manifestations of power and glory have been subjected to such heinous cruelties that no pen dare describe them. Perchance this may enable a few to cease to be perturbed by the clamour and protestations of the divines and the foolish of this age, and cause them to strengthen their confidence and certainty.

-----------

Please note again Bahá'u'lláh's appeal to draw the seekers to “strengthen their confidence and certainty”, as in the previous paragraph He summoned the readers to “the nest of faith and certainty.”

Study suggestion: You may wish to note how Baha'u'llah states the invitation to certitude each time; what imagery he uses; how He speaks of the doubters; and how He speaks of those who accept.

---------

THE INDIGNITIES HEAPED UPON THE PROPHETS OF GOD

Shoghi Effendi described some of the indignities suffered by Baha'u'llah:

. . . the enforcement of yet another banishment by order of the same Sultan, this time to that far off and most desolate of cities, causing such despair as to lead two of the exiles to attempt suicide; the unrelaxing surveillance to which they were subjected upon their arrival in 'Akka, by hostile officials, and the insufferable imprisonment for two years in the barracks of that town; the interrogatory to which the Turkish pasha subsequently subjected his Prisoner at the headquarters of the government; His confinement for no less than eight years in a humble dwelling surrounded by the befouled air of that city, His sole recreation being confined to pacing the narrow space of His room - these, as well as other tribulations, proclaim . . . the nature of the ordeal and the indignities He suffered . . .
(Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day is Come, p. 12)

-----------


THE MORE CLOSELY YOU OBSERVE THE DENIALS OF THOSE WHO HAVE OPPOSED THE MANIFESTATIONS

Baha'u'llah devotes the entirety of paragraph 265 to this same theme (pp. 236-237), "Whenever thou dost meditate upon the cavils uttered by all the people . . . the firmer and the more steadfast wilt thou grow in the Faith."

Also please compare this verse from the Suriy-i-Haykal:

"Those whom the Lord hath endued with knowledge shall find, in the very objections raised by the unbelievers, conclusive proofs to invalidate their claims and vindicate the truth of this manifest Light."
(Baha'u'llah, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, Paragraph 1.56, p. 29)


Concerning the strengthening of one's faith from a close examination of the objections of opponents of the Faith, this applies to reading the accusations of external enemies of the Cause, and not to Covenant-breakers.  Covenant-breakers, in addition to the content of their writings, carry a spiritual disease that can grievously damage the reader and the Bahá'í community:

"It is better not to read books by Covenant Breakers because they are haters of the Light, sufferers from a spiritual leprosy, so to speak. But books by well meaning and unenlightened enemies of the Cause can be read so as to refute their charges."
(Letter on behalf of Shoghi Effendi dated March 19, 1945; Developing Distinctive Baha'i Communities, 1998 edition, p. 5.15)

----------------------

THIS MAY ENABLE A FEW TO CEASE TO BE PERTURBED BY THE CLAMOUR AND PROTESTATIONS OF THE DIVINES AND THE FOOLISH OF THIS AGE, AND CAUSE THEM TO STRENGTHEN THEIR CONFIDENCE AND CERTAINTY.

The Master, in an address given in Washington D.C. stated that opposition on the part of the clergy should lead us to greater firmness:

But after I leave, some people may arise in opposition, heaping persecutions upon you in their bitterness, and in the newspapers there may be articles published against the Cause. Rest ye in the assurance of firmness. Be well poised and serene, remembering that this is only as the harmless twittering of sparrows and that it will soon pass away....
(The Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 428-430)

Likewise, Shoghi Effendi's guidance was to remain confident when the Cause faces vigorous opposition:

. . .  the Cause is bound sooner or later to suffer from all kinds of attacks and persecutions . . . these in fact constitute the life-blood of its institutions, and as such constitute an inseparable and intrinsic part of its development and growth. The friends should therefore be confident that all these attacks to which the Cause is now subjected in ... are a necessary part of the development of the Cause, and that their outcome would be beneficial to its best interests.
(From a letter on behalf of Shoghi Effendi dated 31 August 1937, from the Compilation "Crisis and Victory")

BE PERTURBED
¥¾ÓÑï  or  ¥„¾チӇхï Elsewhere translated by Shoghi Effendi as dismayed, dismay would fill his heart, tremble, tremble with a great trembling, sore-vexed, perplexed, spread confusion, disturbed.


Paragraph 7, pages 7-8

     Among the Prophets was Noah. For nine hundred and fifty
years He prayerfully exhorted His people and summoned them to the
haven of security and peace. None, however, heeded His call. Each
day they inflicted on His blessed person such pain and suffering
that no one believed He could survive. How frequently they denied
Him, how malevolently they hinted their suspicion against Him!
Thus it hath been revealed: "And as often as a company of His
people passed by Him, they derided Him. To them He said: 'Though
ye scoff at us now, we will scoff at you hereafter even as ye
scoff at us. In the end ye shall know.'" Long afterward, He
several times promised victory to His companions and fixed the
hour thereof. But when the hour struck, the divine promise was
not fulfilled. This caused a few among the small number of His
followers to turn away from Him, and to this testify the records
of the best-known books. These you must certainly have perused;
if not, undoubtedly you will. Finally, as stated in books and
traditions, there remained with Him only forty or seventy-two of
His followers. At last from the depth of His being He cried
aloud: "Lord! Leave not upon the land a single dweller from among
the unbelievers."

------

NOAH

Please see the Glossary Note on page 265 of the Iqan, and Mr.
Dunbar's note at page 76 of his "Companion to the Study of the
Kitab-i-Iqan" for comments on Noah and on the "forty" or
"seventy-two" of His followers.

-----------

FOR NINE HUNDRED AND FIFTY YEARS HE PRAYERFULLY EXHORTED HIS
PEOPLE

     "The years of Noah are not years as we count them ..."
     (From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an
     individual believer, November 25, 1950; Lights of
     Guidance, 5th Edition, page 495, #1659)

Also see "Miracles and Metaphors," page 7, for the views of Mirza
Abu'l-Fad'l about the story of Noah.

-----------------

THE HAVEN OF SECURITY AND PEACE

Study suggestion:
Baha'u'llah's descriptions of the blessings gained from the
Revelations of the Prophets are peerless in their attractive power.  You might wish to compile all of the ways in which He speaks of them.  Just in the first seven paragraphs of this work, Baha'u'llah has already used these terms:

the ocean of true understanding
that station which God hath destined for you
the tabernacle which . . . hath been raised in the firmament of
     the Bayán
the wine of certitude
His way
the sun of divine knowledge and understanding
a grace that is infinite and unseen
the stream of divine knowledge and wisdom
the abode of immortality
the cup of divine nearness and favour
the clouds of divine bounty
the nest of faith and certainty
the pure waters of ancient wisdom
the fruit of the tree of divine knowledge
the bread that hath descended from the realms of eternity and
     holiness
the haven of security and peace

---------
HIS BLESSED PERSON 潤¦ï ºô²ó
This term is elsewhere translated by Shoghi Effendi as “His blessed Self”.  “Wujud” he variously translates as being, existence, mankind, the universe, or existence, and is the word used in the Hidden Words, “O Son of Being!”

THE DIVINE PROMISE WAS NOT FULFILLED

The following is from a memorandum of the Research Department at the World Center:

With regard to Bahaullah’s statement…that the “divine promise” of victory to Noah was on several occasions left unfulfilled, this derives from the elaborations of the basic scriptural accounts of Noah provided in the secondary literature of the Shi’i tradition.

Thus, for instance, in Muhammad-Baqir Al-Majlisi’s authoritative encyclopaedia of Shi’i learning, the Baharu’l-Anvar, a Tradition transmitted from the sixth Imam, Ja’far-i-Sadiq, is recorded in the third of the chapters of the Book of Prophecy devoted to the Prophet Noah in volume 11 of the most recent edition of that work (item 76), according to which in response to Noah’s prayer that chastisement be sent down upon His people, God instructed Him to plant a date-seed, and wait for it to mature and yield fruit, at which time, when He and His people had eaten of it, God would grant Noah’s prayer.  Noah did as bidden, but when at length He and His people partook of the fruit of the date-palm He had planted, He was questioned by them concerning the divine promise, whereupon God bade Him perform the same procedure a second time, using a seed from the mature date-palm to plant another tree.  As a result, His followers divided into three groups: those who apostatized their faith, those who vacillated, and those who remained steadfast.

Noah again did as bidden, and when the second date-seed He planted came to maturity, and He and His followers had partaken of its fruit, they again questioned Him concerning the divine promise, and again God bade Noah perform the identical procedure.  At length, Noah had repeated the procedure nine times, and on each occasion, when the divine promise was apparently not fulfilled, His followers split into the same three groups, and thus gradually, through this testing process, were reduced in number.  Finally, when the tenth tree planted by Noah in this way had come to fruition, one of His close companions and believing followers addressed Him, saying: “O Prophet of God, Whether or not Thou hast done with us as Thou hadst promised, truthful art Thou, a Prophet and a Messenger; no doubt have we about Thee, even though Thou hast done to us after this manner.”  When this word was spoken by His followers, God made good His Word spoken by Noah, destroyed the wicked-does, and saved His chosen people, after having purified them, and washed them of all soilure.

The above account is derived from the Ghaybat-i-Nu’mani of  Muhammad Ibn Ibrahim-i-Nu’mani (for the Birau’l-Anvar is a compendious collection of material assembled from a wide variety of different sources), but substantially the same account is also twice provided (items 48 & 51) from the Ikmalu’-Din wa Itmamu’n-Ni’mah by Shaykh Saduq, Ibn-i-Babawayh, likewise on the authority of the sixth Imam, showing that it is indeed, as Bahaullah indicates, a well-substantiated account recorded in a number of authoritative texts..  (Memorandum prepared by the Research Department at the instruction of the Universal House of Justice)

- - - - - -

Please see the most interesting explanation of the promises Noah
made as explained by the Imams, in Mr. Dunbar's book, pp. 77-78.

Apparently, this verse from the Persian Bayan refers to this
principle:

     Vahid IV, Chapter 3:  "Concerning this, that God doth
     in Truth change His plans.  God is not worshipped by
     anything as he is by the Doctrine of Al-Bida, since
     this is a confession of His power to do what he
     pleases."
     (The footnote explains that "Al-Bida" means that God's
     decisions are not irrevocable, but are subject to
     revision and alteration)
     (From "A Summary of the Persian Bayan," translated by
     E.G. Browne, "Selections from the Writings of E.G.
     Browne," p. 351)


THE BEST-KNOWN BOOKS

Mr. Dunbar explains that this phrase refers to eminent collections of Muslim Traditions from the Imams that were well-known among the people; and he summarizes the relevant ones.


 "LORD! LEAVE NOT UPON THE LAND A SINGLE DWELLER FROM AMONG THE
UNBELIEVERS."

Please compare:

     "For after seven more days I will cause it to rain on
     the earth forty days and forty nights, and I will
     destroy from the face of the earth all living things
     that I have made."  (Genesis 7:4)

     "Only Noah and those who were with him in the ark
     remained alive."  (Genesis 7:23)

You may wish to re-examine these passages after reading
Baha'u'llah's explanations of those who are "alive" and those who are "dead" in paragraphs 123-128 of the Iqan.

     "The Ark and the Flood we believe are symbolical."
     (From a letter on behalf of the Guardian, October 28,
     1949, Lights of Guidance, 5th edition, p. 509 #1716)

Please also compare:

     If ye seek God, it behooveth you to seek Him Whom God
     shall make manifest, and if ye cherish the desire to
     dwell in the Ark of Names, ye will be distinguished as
     the guides to Him Whom God shall make manifest, did you
     but believe in Him.
     (The Kitab-i-Asma (Book of Names), Selections from the
     Writings of the Bab, p. 131)



Iqan, pp. 8-9, Paragraph 8:

     And now, consider and reflect a moment upon the waywardness
of this people. What could have been the reason for such denial
and avoidance on their part? What could have induced them to
refuse to put off the garment of denial, and to adorn themselves
with the robe of acceptance? Moreover, what could have caused the
nonfulfilment of the divine promise which led the seekers to
reject that which they had accepted? Meditate profoundly, that
the secret of things unseen may be revealed unto you, that you
may inhale the sweetness of a spiritual and imperishable
fragrance, and that you may acknowledge the truth that from time
immemorial even unto eternity the Almighty hath tried, and will
continue to try, His servants, so that light may be distinguished
from darkness, truth from falsehood, right from wrong, guidance
from error, happiness from misery, and roses from thorns. Even as
He hath revealed: "Do men think when they say 'We believe' they
shall be let alone and not be put to proof?"

--------------

THE ROLE OF GOD'S TESTS

Study suggestion:  Please observe the terms and the methodology
Baha'u'llah uses to persuade.  His persuasiveness sometimes comes
from logic, but here, He states that profound meditation on the
ways of man and the ways of God will yield the desired goal.  Do
you feel that this meditation may be different from merely
thinking?  That it is a different kind of act of the soul?  Let's
take a little time with this paragraph, as Baha'u'llah asks of
us.

----------------

TO PUT OFF THE GARMENT OF DENIAL, AND TO ADORN THEMSELVES WITH
THE ROBE OF ACCEPTANCE

This is not merely beautiful imagery. This is the method of
Baha'u'llah in the Iqan, as He unfolds the meanings of the Holy
Books.  In this verse, Baha'u'llah is unsealing the meaning of
the term "garment" (and its synonyms such as "clothing,"
"raiment," "vesture," and "robe") used in the former Scriptures.

Another example of such an explanation is this:

     And now concerning thy question regarding the nature of
     religion. Know thou that they who are truly wise have
     likened the world unto the human temple. As the body of
     man needeth a garment to clothe it, so the body of
     mankind must needs be adorned with the mantle of
     justice and wisdom. Its robe is the Revelation
     vouchsafed unto it by God. Whenever this robe hath
     fulfilled its purpose, the Almighty will assuredly
     renew it.
     (Gleanings, p. 81)

As the Universal House of Justice explains:  "The metaphor of the
fragrant 'garment' is frequently used in the Bahá'í Writings to
refer to the recognition of the Manifestation of God and His
Revelation."  (The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Note 1, page 165).

Now, with this symbolic term unsealed, we can apply it to the
narratives in the Bible:

     Then they came to Jericho.  And as He went out of
     Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, blind
     Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the road
     begging.  And when he heard that it was Jesus of
     Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, "Jesus, Son of
     David, have mercy on me!"  So Jesus stood still and
     commanded him to be called.  Then they called the blind
     man, saying to him, "Be of good cheer.  Rise, He is
     calling you."  And throwing aside his garment, he rose
     and came to Jesus.  And Jesus answered and said to him,
     "What do you want Me to do for you?"  The blind man
     said to him, “Rabboni, that I may receive my sight."
     Then Jesus said to him, "Go your way; your faith has
     made you well."  And immediately he received his sight
     and followed Jesus on the road.
     (Mark 10:46-52)

Please keep in mind that the Master has stated, "Wherever in the Holy Books . . . it is said that the blind received sight, the
signification is that he obtained the true perception. . . the
meaning is that he was inwardly blind, and that he obtained
spiritual vision, or that he was ignorant and became wise . . . "
(Some Answered Questions, pp. 101-102).

Jesus compared His new Revelation to a new garment:

     No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old
     garment: or else the new piece pulls away from the old,
     and the tear is made worse.  And no one puts new wine
     into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the
     wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are
     ruined.  But new wine must be put into new wineskins."
     (Mark 2:21-22)

Now we can apply this interpretation of "garment" to a deeper and richer understanding of the Story of Joseph in the Bible and the Qur'án.  The Hebrew Bible states that after they had "recognized" Him, Joseph gave each of His brothers "changes of raiment."  (Genesis 45:1-22).  Also, Joseph's garment was cast over the face of his father Jacob, who was blind, ". . . and he forthwith regained clear sight."  (Qur'an 12:96)

The Master also gives this beautiful interpretation:

     Among these teachings was the independent investigation
     of reality so that the world of humanity may be saved
     from the darkness of imitation and attain to the truth;
     may tear off and cast away this ragged and outgrown
     garment of a thousand years ago and may put on the robe
     woven in the utmost purity and holiness in the loom of
     reality.
     (Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Baha, p. 298)

These Bible verses can be used to demonstrate to Christians that
a new Revelation is needed, and that new divine principles cannot
merely be added to the existing Revelations.

Baha'u'llah again uses the image of accepting the new Faith as
putting on a garment in paragraph 117 on page 110 of the Íqán, and in paragraph 168 on page 158.

---------

THE ALMIGHTY HATH TRIED, AND WILL CONTINUE TO TRY, HIS SERVANTS

With these words, Baha'u'llah introduces another of His major
themes, which He emphasizes repeatedly, and develops more fully
later in the book:  That the Manifestation's words and acts are
for the purpose of testing His servants.

There are many synonyms for this "trying," in Baha'u'llah's
Writings and in the other Holy Books:  Prove, test, sift,
question, put to proof, ask, examine, judge, separate, divide, separate wheat from chaff, separate sheep from goats, thresh, and bring to a reckoning, among them.  We find, for example, in the opening verses of the Bible:

     "Then God said, 'Let there be light.' and there was
     light.  And God saw the light, that it was good; and
     God divided the light from the darkness."
     (Genesis 1:3-4)

This same principle of divine testing is explained again in the
Iqan on pages 49-52 in paragraphs 53-56, where Baha'u'llah speaks
of the divine tests; on page 76 in paragraph 84 where Baha'u'llah
speaks of the "touchstone" and of God "proving" His servants; in
paragraphs 186-187 on pages 172-174 where Baha'u'llah speaks of
God "judging" men, and bringing them to a "reckoning," and "asking
them (this "asking" is also one of the meanings of the
Bahá'í Month of Masa'il, "Questions"); and in paragraph 283 on
page 255, where He speaks of God "sifting" the people.

Baha'u'llah is referred to as "The Sifter of Men" (God Passes By,
p. 94).  This divine "sifting" may be what is intended by David
choosing a "threshingfloor" as the site of the Temple of Solomon
and the Holy of Holies (I Chronicles 21:14:22; also see II Samuel
6:5-7.)

All of these are examples of the divine testing Baha'u'llah is elucidating.



Iqan, paragraph 9, page 9:

     And after Noah the light of the countenance of Húd shone
forth above the horizon of creation. For well-nigh seven hundred
years, according to the sayings of men, He exhorted the people to
turn their faces and draw nearer unto the Ridvan of the divine
presence. What showers of afflictions rained upon Him, until at
last His adjurations bore the fruit of increased rebelliousness,
and His assiduous endeavours resulted in the wilful blindness of
His people. "And their unbelief shall only increase for the
unbelievers their own perdition."

---------

THE COUNTENANCE OF HÚD

Please recall that in paragraph 3, Bahá'u'lláh referred to the
face of the Manifestation as "the face of God Himself."  This
phrase occurs in the Qur'án 2:109.  This is one of Bahá'u'lláh's
beautiful explanations later in the Íqán--that the references
to God in the Holy Books generally refer to the Manifestations.

THE RIDVAN OF THE DIVINE PRESENCE

The Ridvan ("paradise") of the "Presence of God" is one of the
important themes in the Íqán to which Bahá'u'lláh devotes
several pages of His Book.  As He explains beginning in Paragraph
148, the "divine presence" promised in all of the Holy Books
means the presence of the Manifestation of God.  We will later
review some of the promises in the Bible concerning the presence
of God.

SHONE FORTH ABOVE THE HORIZON OF CREATION

Bahá'u'lláh frequently uses the image of the sun arising at dawn
to describe the appearance of the Manifestation.  In Arabic,
there is a word for that place on the horizon where the glow of
the rising sun is visible and where it rises.  The closest
English translations are "dawning-place" and "horizon."  Whereas
in English, the "horizon" is a line, in Arabic, it is the source
of light.  Here, the appearance of the Prophet Húd on the Arabian
Peninsula is compared to the rising of the sun at its dawning-
place.  Bahá'u'lláh later uses this imagery to refer to the
appearance of Muhammad, in paragraph 147 on page 135, as well as
in Paragraph 41 of the Most Holy Book where He refers to His own
Manifestation.  When Bahá'u'lláh ascended, `Abdu'l-Bahá cabled to
Sultan Abdu'l-Hamid, "The Sun of Bahá has set."  (God Passes By,
p. 222)  He wrote in a Tablet, "The Sun of Truth, that Most Great
Light, hath set upon the horizon of the world to rise with
deathless splendour over the Realm of the Limitless."
(Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 18)

HIS ADJURATIONS BORE THE FRUIT OF INCREASED REBELLIOUSNESS

Sometimes, the spiritual condition of the perverse becomes
worsened by God's love and guidance, or rather by their response
to it.  In His Will and Testament (page 18), `Abdu'l-Bahá
describes how His enemies, to whom He showed nothing but
affection and care, kindliness and mercy, were moved to
compassion for Him.  However, the Covenant-breakers rejoiced over
His suffering, and increased the ferocity of their hostility
towards Him, despite His kindness.  Likewise, the people became
worse after turning away from Húd.




Iqan, paragraph 10, pp. 9-10

     And after Him there appeared from the Ridvan of the Eternal,
the Invisible, the holy person of Salih, Who again summoned the
people to the river of everlasting life. For over a hundred years
He admonished them to hold fast unto the commandments of God and
eschew that which is forbidden. His admonitions, however, yielded
no fruit, and His pleading proved of no avail. Several times He
retired and lived in seclusion. All this, although that eternal
Beauty was summoning the people to no other than the city of God.
Even as it is revealed: "And unto the tribe of Thamud We sent
their brother Salih. 'O my people,' said He, 'Worship God, ye
have none other God beside Him. . . .' They made reply: 'O Salih,
our hopes were fixed on thee until now; forbiddest thou us to
worship that which our fathers worshipped? Truly we misdoubt that
whereunto thou callest us as suspicious.'" All this proved
fruitless, until at last there went up a great cry, and all fell
into utter perdition.


THE HOLY PERSON OF SALIH

I wish to again emphasize the value of purchasing Mr. Dunbar's book, "A companion to the study of the Kitab-i-Iqan," as it explains a great many things unfamiliar to us in the West.  His notes on the Prophets Húd and Sálih contain information not easily available elsewhere.  In addition, it contains many interesting details, such as the fact that the original burial places of the Purest Branch and Navvab in `Akka, were close by the raditionally-accepted burial place of Sálih (though it is not agreed among all scholars that the Sálih buried in `Akká is the Prophet Sálih mentioned in the Qur'án.)

HE ADMONISHED THEM TO HOLD FAST UNTO THE COMMANDMENTS OF GOD AND
ESCHEW THAT WHICH IS FORBIDDEN.

Please compare with this verse from the Most Holy Book:

          Take heed lest the world beguile you as it
     beguiled the people who went before you!  Observe ye
     the statutes and precepts of your Lord, and walk ye in
     this Way which hath been laid out before you in
     righteousness and truth.  They who eschew iniquity and
     error, who adhere to virtue, are, in the sight of the
     one true God, among the choicest of His creatures;
     their names are extolled by the Concourse of the realms
     above, and by those who dwell in this Tabernacle which
     hath been raised in the name of God.
     (The Kitab-i-Aqdas, Paragraph 71, page 45)

And with these reported words of `Abdul-Baha spoken in London:

          "Always, man has confronted the Prophets with
     this:  'We were enjoying ourselves, and living
     according to our own opinions and desires.  We ate, we
     slept, we sang; we danced.  We had no fear of God, no
     hope of Heaven; we liked what we were doing, we had our
     own way.  And then you came.  You took away our
     pleasures.  You told us now of the wrath of God, again
     of the fear of punishment and the hope of reward.  You
     upset our good way of life.'
          The Prophets of God have always replied:  'You
     were content to stay in the animal world, We wanted to
     make you human beings.  You were dark, We wanted you
     illumined; you were dead, We wanted you alive.  You
     were earthly, We wanted you heavenly.'"
     ("A Sampler from Mahmud's Diary" translated by Marzieh
     Gail, "The Baha'i World," Volume XIII, p. 1187)


FORBIDDEST THOU US TO WORSHIP THAT WHICH OUR FATHERS WORSHIPPED?

One of the frequent topics of `Abdu'l-Baha's talks in the West
was the importance of liberating oneself from the ways of one's
ancestors:

     In religious beliefs nations and peoples today are
     imitators of ancestors and forefathers.  If a man's
     father was a Christian, he himself is a Christian; a
     Buddhist is the son of a Buddhist, a Zoroastrian of a
     Zoroastrian.  A gentile or an idolator follows the
     religious footsteps of his father and ancestry.  This
     is absolute imitation.  The requirement in this day is
     that man must independently and impartially investigate
     every form of reality.
     (Address given in Minneapolis at the home of Albert
     Hall, Sept. 20, 1912, "The Promulgation of Universal
     Peace," p. 327)

Baha'u'llah frequently expresses the importance of this principle
in the Iqan.  In Paragraph 46, page 45, He points out the
greatness of the act of a Revelation, "the excellency of whose
word men have heard recounted by their fathers," being annulled
by a succeeding Revelation.  In paragraph 81, page 74,
Baha'u'llah states: "Consider how men for generations have been
blindly imitating their fathers."  in Paragraph 162, page 155,
He describes the condition of the people:

     . . . before his partaking of the reviving waters of
     faith, he had been so wedded to the traditions of his
     forefathers, and so passionately devoted to the
     observance of their customs and laws, that he would
     have preferred to suffer death rather than violate one
     letter of those superstitious forms and manners current
     amongst his people. Even as the people have cried:
     "Verily we found our fathers with a faith, and verily,
     in their footsteps we follow."


ALL FELL INTO UTTER PERDITION ½¤ñ§ translated here by Shoghi Effendi as “utter perdition” is elsewhere translated by him as fire, flames, flames of the nethermost fire, infernal fire, and is used in such passages as “such companionship turneth the radiance of the heart into infernal fire” (PHW 57), “to approach him is worse than approaching fire” (WTAB 21), “the fire burning in the Bush of divine knowledge” (Íqán p. 53), “the fire of their love for Thee (Prayers and Meditations p. 279).

------

Please keep in mind that Baha'u'llah addressed this Book to the
uncle of the Bab to prove the Mission of the Bab, and to assist
him to resolve his question:  How could His Nephew have been the
Promised One, if He was rejected by the People?

------

Another important thing to keep in mind throughout our reading,
is, "How can I use this to teach the Cause of God?"  As Shoghi
Effendi's secretary wrote on his behalf to the National Spiritual
Assembly of the United States:

     "As the Íqán is the most important book wherein
     Bahá'u'lláh explains the basic beliefs of the Faith, he
     thought a proper rendering of it would infinitely
     enhance the teaching work in the West."
     (Baha'i News #46, November 1930, p. 2)



Íqán, paragraph 11, pp. 10-11

     Later, the beauty of the countenance of the Friend of God
appeared from behind the veil, and another standard of divine
guidance was hoisted. He invited the people of the earth to the
light of righteousness. The more passionately He exhorted them,
the fiercer waxed the envy and waywardness of the people, except
those who wholly detached themselves from all save God, and
ascended on the wings of certainty to the station which God hath
exalted beyond the comprehension of men. It is well known what a
host of enemies besieged Him, until at last the fires of envy and
rebellion were kindled against Him.  And after the episode of the
fire came to pass, He, the lamp of God amongst men, was, as
recorded in all books and chronicles, expelled from His city.


AND ANOTHER STANDARD OF DIVINE GUIDANCE WAS HOISTED

As here, in speaking of the rise of Abraham, Baha'u'llah
frequently uses the image of a flag triumphantly waving.  It is
variously described as a "flag," "banner," "ensign," or
"standard."  For example:

"standard:"
     These holy ones have, moreover, announced that when He
     Who is the Day Spring of the manifold grace of God
     manifesteth Himself, all the Prophets and Messengers,
     including the Qa'im, will gather together beneath the
     shadow of the sacred Standard which the Promised One
     will raise. That hour is now come.
     (Baha'u'llah, "Tablet to Husayn," Gleanings Section IX,
     p. 12)

     Among them is the tradition, "And when the Standard of
     Truth is made manifest, the people of both the East and
     the West curse it."
     (Iqan, paragraph 267, p. 238)

"Ensign:"
     The Prophetic Cycle hath, verily, ended.  The Eternal
     Truth hath now come.  He hath lifted up the Ensign of
     Power, and is now shedding upon the world the unclouded
     splendor of His Revelation.
     (Baha'u'llah, Gleanings Section XXV, p. 60)

"Banner:"
In the 62nd Chapter of the Book of Isaiah, we read God's call to
the Holy Land:

     The Gentiles shall see your righteousness, and all
     kings your glory.  You shall be called by a new name,
     which the mouth of the LORD will name.  You shall also
     be a crown of glory in the Hand of the LORD, and a
     royal diadem in the hand of your God.  You shall no
     longer be termed Forsaken, nor shall your land any more
     be termed Desolate: but you shall be called Hephzibah
     ["delight"], and your land Beulah ["married"]; for the
     LORD delights in you, and your land shall be married.
     (Isaiah 62:2-4)

The Hebrew name "Hephzibah," "delight"  has the same meaning as
the Turkish word, "Bahji," the name of Bahá'u'lláh's last home
and His resting-place.

This chapter of Isaiah continues:

     Go through, go through the gates! Prepare the way for
     the people.  Build up, build up the highway!  Take out
     the stones, lift up a banner for the peoples!
     (Isaiah 62:10)

Also please read these remarkable prophecies:

     They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy
     mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge
     of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.  And in that
     day there shall be a Root of Jesse, Who shall stand as
     a banner to the people; for the Gentiles shall seek
     Him, and His resting place shall be glorious. . . .
     He will set up a banner for the nations, and will
     assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together
     the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the
     earth.
     (Isaiah 11:9-12.  See God Passes By, p. 94, and The
     World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 205, where Shoghi
     Effendi confirms that Bahá'u'lláh is the descendant of
     Jesse foretold in the 11th chapter of Isaiah)

WINGS OF CERTAINTY

Literally, wings of Íqán  „ð¤ä‡þŸ¤ì£
Íqán is elsewhere translated by Shoghi Effendi as certitude, assured, faith, believe, and assurance, and appears elsewhere in the Íqán in such phrases as “the City of Certitude,” “the Horizon of Certitude” and “the heaven of Certitude”, and elsewhere in the Bahá'í Writings in these verses: “Arise and, armed with the power of faith, shatter to pieces the gods of your vain imaginings” (Gleanings p. 217, Section CXI), “whatsoever meeting becometh a hindrance to the diffusion of the Light of Faith” (WTAB 25), “Then shall the knights of the Lord, assisted by His grace from on high, strengthened by faith” (WOB 17).

THOSE WHO . . . ASCENDED ON THE WINGS OF CERTAINTY TO THE STATION
WHICH GOD HATH EXALTED BEYOND THE COMPREHENSION OF MEN

Please observe the beautiful imagery Baha'u'llah uses when He
calls us to the station of certitude. In addition to "the wings
of certainty" in this passage, elsewhere in the Iqan He uses such
beautiful metaphors as

                                   page      paragraph
the wine of certitude              3         2
the nest of certainty              6         5
the blossoms of certitude          33        31
the sheltering shadow of certitude 38        37
the way of certitude               42        43
the new-born light of certitude    49        52
the throne of certitude            53        57
the heaven of certitude            68        75
the resplendent morn of certitude  78        85
the fruit of certitude             120       128
the loftiest chambers of certitude 148       156
the cup of certitude               155       163
the loftiest summits of certitude  159       169
the City of Certitude              197       217

Please reflect:  In addition to the beauty of this imagery, how
does it sway our soul towards the haven of certitude?

THE EPISODE OF THE FIRE

Mr. Taherzadeh explains that this refers to Qur'an 21:68-69,
where Abraham was thrown into a fire by his people, and God
turned the fire cold.  (The Revelation of Baha'u'llah, Volume 4,
page 31, footnote).  The Babi martyr Sulayman Khan, as the
candles were burning in his flesh, recited:  "The Abraham of a
bygone age, as He prayed God, in the hour of bitter agony, to
send down upon Him the refreshment for which His soul was crying,
heard the voice of the Unseen proclaim: 'O fire!  Be thou cold,
and to Abraham a safety!'  But this Sulayman is crying out from
the depths of his ravaged heart:  'Lord, Lord, let Thy fires burn
unceasingly within me, and suffer its flame to consume my
being.'"  (The Dawn-Breakers, p. 619)

The episode of the fire is more fully explained from Muslim
sources cited by Mr. Dunbar at pages 80-81 of his book.

THE FIRES OF ENVY AND REBELLION WERE KINDLED

Here, Baha'u'llah interprets the "fire" symbolically.  Abraham
was kept safe from these flames, though was expelled from His
homeland.  The Master refers to Abraham's banishment into
"homelessness" in a Tablet in which He calls on the believers to
travel and teach, comparing the benefits of this homelessness to
the fruits of the exiles of Abraham and the other Prophets.
(Pages 280-281, "Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Baha")

THE LAMP OF GOD AMONGST MEN

Baha'u'llah uses similar imagery throughout the Iqan to describe
the Prophets:

                                        page      paragraph
the divine Luminaries                   33        31
the Luminaries of truth                 97        102
these Luminaries of heavenly majesty    130       140
these holy Luminaries                   142       151
these glorious, these resplendent
   and most excellent Luminaries        143       151
those lamps of certitude (Imams)        153       161
the Luminaries arising from the
   Daysprings of eternal holiness       176       191


     Some souls were lovers of the name Abraham, loving the
     lantern instead of the light, and when they saw this
     same light shining from another lantern, they were so
     attached to the former lantern that they did not
     recognize its later appearance and illumination....
     We are lovers of illumination and not of lamps and
     candles.
     (`Abdu'l-Baha, Talk at Metropolitan Temple, New York,
     May 28, 1912, "The Promulgation of Universal Peace,"
     pp. 152-153)


Iqan Paragraph 12, pp. 11-12

     And when His day was ended, there came the turn of Moses.
Armed with the rod of celestial dominion, adorned with the white
hand of divine knowledge, and proceeding from the Paran of the
love of God, and wielding the serpent of power and everlasting
majesty, He shone forth from the Sinai of light upon the world.
He summoned all the peoples and kindreds of the earth to the
kingdom of eternity, and invited them to partake of the fruit of
the tree of faithfulness. Surely you are aware of the fierce
opposition of Pharaoh and his people, and of the stones of idle
fancy which the hands of infidels cast upon that blessed Tree. So
much so that Pharaoh and his people finally arose and exerted
their utmost endeavor to extinguish with the waters of falsehood
and denial the fire of that sacred Tree, oblivious of the truth
that no earthly water can quench the flame of divine wisdom, nor
mortal blasts extinguish the lamp of everlasting dominion. Nay,
rather such water cannot but intensify the burning of the flame,
and such blasts cannot but ensure the preservation of the lamp,
were ye to observe with the eye of discernment, and walk in the
way of God's holy will and pleasure. How well hath a believer of
the kindred of Pharaoh, whose story is recounted by the
All-Glorious in His Book revealed unto His beloved One, observed:
"And a man of the family of Pharaoh who was a believer and
concealed his faith said: 'Will ye slay a man because he saith my
Lord is God, when He hath already come to you with signs from
your Lord? If he be a liar, on him will be his lie, but if he be
a man of truth, part of what he threateneth will fall upon you.
In truth God guideth not him who is a transgressor, a liar.'"
Finally, so great was their iniquity that this self-same believer
was put to a shameful death. "The curse of God be upon the people
of tyranny."


THE ROD OF CELESTIAL DOMINION

`Abdu'l-Baha states that the significance of a "rod" is that "it
is the helper of every impotent one, and the support of human
beings.  It is the rod of the Divine Shepherd by which He guards
His flock and leads them about the pastures of the Kingdom."
(Some Answered Questions, p. 45)


THE WHITE HAND OF DIVINE KNOWLEDGE

The "white hand" refers to the incident described both in the
Torah and in the Qur'an, one of the nine mighty signs of Moses
before the Pharaoh, where He withdrew His hand from his bosom and
it came forth white:

     Furthermore the LORD said to him, "Now put your hand in
     your bosom." And he put his hand in his bosom, and when
     he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous, like
     snow. And He said, "Put your hand in your bosom again."
     So he put his hand in his bosom again, and drew it out
     of his bosom, and, behold, it was restored like his
     other flesh.
     (Book of Exodus, 4:6-7)

     Now draw thy hand close to thy side: it shall come
     forth white (and shining), without harm (or stain)--as
     another Sign-- In order that We may show thee (two) of
     Our Greater Signs.
     (Qur'an 20:22-23; also see 27:12-13)

This symbol has a number of meanings.  Baha'u'llah implies that
the "white hand" symbolizes divine knowledge, on p. 11 of the
Book of Certitude.  In another Tablet by Baha'u'llah, revealed on
the eve of His banishment to `Akka, He writes, "The White Hand
shall cleave an opening to this sombre night."  (Quoted on p. 81
of "A Traveler's Narrative."

`Abdu'l-Baha wrote:

     The majesty and glory of the Cause are as great as its
     trials and afflictions are intense. However, trials and
     afflictions are scarce noticed in this day, inasmuch as
     the heaven of divine bounty is uplifted and the ocean
     of His loving kindness is manifest.  If on the one hand
     cups of bitter woe and suffering are seen, on the other
     He Who is the Abha Beauty is proffering, with His Own
     hand that hath turned white, the chalice of everlasting
     life.
     (Compilation on Martyrdom, "Fire and Light," pp. 11-12)

During Baha'u'llah's days in Adrianople, a Babi from Shiraz, Mir
Muhammad-i-Mukari, arrived.  He could not imagine that Mirza
Yahya had broken the Covenant, and begged Baha'u'llah to clarify
the matter for him.  Mr. Taherzadeh, quoting Haydar-Ali, an
eyewitness, states:  "Baha'u'llah said to him that if ever Azal
came face to face with Him at a meeting place, then he could
consider Azal's claims to be true.  Mir Muhammad accepted this
statement as a criterion for distinguishing between truth and
falsehood, and he endeavoured to bring this meeting about."
(The Revelation of Baha'u'llah, Volume 2, p. 295)

"This form of confrontation, known as mubahilih, had taken place
in Islam.  For instance, when a deputation of the Christians of
Najran in Medina were talking of offering a challenge to the
Prophet Muhammad, it was to be a confrontation in the form of
mubahilih.  This is a challenge between truth and falsehood; the
two parties come together, each one invoking God to annihilate
the other, and calling on His wrath to strike down the faithless.
It is expected in these circumstances that the power of Truth
will destroy the forces of falsehood."
(Taherzadeh, (The Revelation of Baha'u'llah, Volume 2, p. 292)

This same type of spiritual confrontation was engaged in when
Moses confronted the Pharaoh's wise men.  His rod, or staff,
turned into a serpent which ate their serpents; Quranic
commentators indicate that this signifies His arguments prevailed
over theirs  -- truth prevailed over falsehood; and His "white
hand" signifies the clarity of His argument.

As Baha'u'llah strode to the place of meeting with Azal, He
stated, in terms reminiscent of Moses' meeting with the Pharaoh's
wise men:

     "O Muhammad!  He Who is the Spirit hath, verily, issued
     from His habitation, and with Him have come forth the
     souls of God's chosen ones and the realities of His
     Messengers.  Behold, then, the dwellers of the realms
     on high above Mine head, and all the testimonies of the
     Prophets in My grasp.  Say:  Were all the divines, all
     the wise men, all the kings and rulers on earth to
     gather together, I, in very truth, would confront them,
     and would proclaim the verses of God, the Sovereign,
     the Almighty, the All-Wise.  I am He Who feareth no
     one, though all who are in heaven and all who are on
     earth rise up against me . . . . This is Mine hand
     which God hath turned white for all the worlds to
     behold.  This is My staff; were We to cast it down it
     would, of a truth, swallow up all created things."
     (Baha'u'llah, quoted in H.M. Balyuzi, "Baha'u'llah, the
     King of Glory," pp. 239-240)

Azal made excuses for not appearing for the confrontation.


THE SERPENT OF POWER AND EVERLASTING MAJESTY

In the history of the Jewish people wandering in the wilderness,
it states that they doubted Moses and spoke against Him.  God
sent serpents to bite them, and the people asked Moses to aid
them.  He made a bronze serpent and raised it on a pole.  If a
serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent,
he lived.  (Book of Numbers, Chapter 21)  Jesus recalled this
when He stated:  "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the
wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that
whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life."
(John 3:14-15)  It appears from these verses that being bitten by
a serpent, then, means having faith-threatening doubts, and
looking on the "bronze serpent" means steadfastness in one's
faith.  Brass is a symbol of strength of faith in a prayer
revealed by Baha'u'llah (Prayers and Meditations, p. 28).

NO EARTHLY WATER CAN QUENCH THE FLAME OF DIVINE WISDOM, NOR
MORTAL BLASTS EXTINGUISH THE LAMP OF EVERLASTING DOMINION. NAY,
RATHER SUCH WATER CANNOT BUT INTENSIFY THE BURNING OF THE FLAME,
AND SUCH BLASTS CANNOT BUT ENSURE THE PRESERVATION OF THE LAMP

Please compare this prayer by Baha'u'llah:

          By Thy might! I marvel at the wonders of Thy
     Revelation, and at the tokens of Thy glory. I
     recognize, O Thou Who art my heart's Desire, that were
     fire to be touched by water it would instantly be
     extinguished, whereas the Fire which Thou didst kindle
     can never go out, though all the seas of the earth be
     poured upon it. Should water at any time touch it, the
     hands of Thy power would, as decreed in Thy Tablets,
     transmute that water into a fuel that would feed its
     flame.
          I, likewise, recognize, O my God, that every lamp,
     when exposed to the fury of the winds, must cease from
     burning. As to Thy Lamp, however, O Beloved of the
     worlds, I cannot think what power except Thy power
     could have kept it safe for so many years from the
     tempests that have continually been directed upon it by
     the rebellious among Thy creatures.
     (Prayers and Meditations by Baha'u'llah, p. 150)


A BELIEVER OF THE KINDRED OF PHARAOH

This believer was mentioned in the notes to Paragraph 4.



Iqan paragraph 13, pp. 12-13    

     And now, ponder upon these things. What could have caused
such contention and conflict? Why is it that the advent of every
true Manifestation of God hath been accompanied by such strife
and tumult, by such tyranny and upheaval? This notwithstanding
the fact that all the Prophets of God, whenever made manifest
unto the peoples of the world, have invariably foretold the
coming of yet another Prophet after them, and have established
such signs as would herald the advent of the future Dispensation.
To this the records of all sacred books bear witness. Why then is
it that despite the expectation of men in their quest of the
Manifestations of Holiness, and in spite of the signs recorded in
the sacred books, should such acts of violence, of oppression and
cruelty, have been perpetrated in every age and cycle against all
the Prophets and chosen Ones of God? Even as He hath revealed:
"As oft as an Apostle cometh unto you with that which your souls
desire not, ye swell with pride, accusing some of being impostors
and slaying others."


THE ADVENT OF EVERY TRUE MANIFESTATION OF GOD HATH BEEN
ACCOMPANIED BY SUCH STRIFE AND TUMULT, BY SUCH TYRANNY AND
UPHEAVAL

Baha'u'llah more fully elaborates on the "grave dissensions" that
occur in the world at the appearance of a Manifestation of God,
in the course of His explanation of the symbolic term "smoke"
(paragraph 84, p. 76).



ALL THE PROPHETS OF GOD . . . HAVE INVARIABLY FORETOLD THE COMING
OF YET ANOTHER PROPHET AFTER THEM

          His Holiness Abraham, on Him be peace, made a
     covenant concerning His Holiness Moses and gave the
     glad-tidings of His coming. His Holiness Moses made a
     covenant concerning the Promised One, i.e. His Holiness
     Christ, and announced the good news of His
     Manifestation to the world. His Holiness Christ made a
     covenant concerning the Paraclete and gave the tidings
     of His coming. His Holiness the Prophet Muhammad made a
     covenant concerning His Holiness the Bab and the Bab
     was the One promised by Muhammad, for Muhammad gave the
     tidings of His coming. The Bab made a Covenant
     concerning the Blessed Beauty of Baha'u'llah and gave
     the glad-tidings of His coming for the Blessed Beauty
     was the One promised by His Holiness the Bab.
     Baha'u'llah made a covenant concerning a promised One
     who will become manifest after one thousand or
     thousands of years.
     (Extract from a Tablet of `Abdu'l-Baha, "Baha'i World
     Faith," p. 358)

Examples of these covenants:

1.   God's promise to Moses of the appearance of Christ in
     Deuteronomy 18:18, and Christ's fulfillment of this promise
     in John 8:28 and 14:10:

          "And the LORD said to me . . . 'I will raise up
     for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren,
     and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak
     to them all that I command Him.'"
     (Deuteronomy 18:18)

          "I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught
     Me, I speak these things."
     (Jesus Christ, Gospel of John 8:28)

          "The words that I speak to you I do not speak on
     My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does
     the works."
     (Jesus Christ, Gospel of John 14:10)

2.   Jesus' promise of the "Helper," sometimes translated
     "the Comforter," or the "Paraclete."

          "But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to
     you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth who proceeds
     from the Father, He will testify of Me."
     (Jesus Christ, Gospel of John 15:26.

     Baha'u'llah confirms that He is the "Spirit of Truth"
     who "testifies" of Jesus, in the Lawh-i-Aqdas, "Tablets
     of Baha'u'llah," pp. 11-12).

3.   Jesus' promise of the "Spirit of Truth," who will "speak"
     whatever He hears.  This promise may have been fulfilled by
     both Muhammad and by Baha'u'llah.  Compare this verse with
     the promise in Deuteronomy 18:18 quoted above:

          "However, when He, the Spirit of truth has come,
     He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak
     on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will
     speak; and He will tell you things to come."
     (Jesus Christ, Gospel of John 16:13)

     In Some Answered Questions, Chapter 25, p.109, `Abdu'l-
     Baha states that this promise in John 16:13 foretells
     "the Promised One Who was to come after Christ,"
     apparently meaning Muhammad.

4.   Jesus' promise of the signs that will accompany His return,
     in Matthew 24:29-31.  Baha'u'llah quotes these verses in
     full in paragraph 24, pp. 24-25 of the Iqan, and explains in
     paragraph 25, page 26, line 11, that this covenant was
     fulfilled by Muhammad.

5.   Muslim commentators of the Qur'an believe that Qur'an 33:7
     refers to the Covenant the earlier Prophets made concerning
     the appearance of Muhammad, as does Acts 3:21-23; and that
     in Qur'an 61:6 Muhammad so asserts.

6.   "References in the Bible to 'Mt. Paran' and 'Paraclete'
     refer to Muhammad's Revelation.  Deuteronomy 33.2;
     Genesis 21.21.; Numbers 12.16; Numbers 13.3; Genesis
     17.20 refers to the twelve Imams and in the Revelation
     of St. John, Chap. 11, where it mentions two witnesses,
     it refers to Muhammad and 'Ali.
     (From a letter on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, "Letters to
     Australia and New Zealand 1923-1957," p. 41)

----------

Teaching Observation:  Most Christians believe that Jesus'
promise of the "Spirit of Truth" refers to the appearance of the
Holy Spirit to the disciples (Acts 2:1-4).  The Baha'i Teachings
identify this as a prophecy of Manifestations of God to appear
after Christ.  `Abdu'l-Baha explains that the prophecy of the
Spirit of Truth (just as the prophecy foretelling Jesus in the
Book of Deuteronomy quoted above) indicates a Man and not a spirit:

     Now consider carefully that from these words, "for He
     shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall
     hear, that shall He speak," it is clear that the Spirit
     of truth is embodied in a Man Who has individuality,
     Who has ears to hear and a tongue to speak.
     (`Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, Chapter 25, p.
     109)


ACCUSING SOME OF BEING IMPOSTORS

All of the Manifestations of God have been accused by the people
of being impostors.  For example:

     Then the whole congregation of the children of Israel
     murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.
     (Exodus 16:2)

Moses was rejected by the people -- see Numbers 14:11

     Then the Jews sought Him at the feast, and said, "Where
     is He?"  And there was much complaining among the
     people concerning Him.  Some said, "He is good" others
     said, "No, on the contrary, He deceives the people."
     (John 7:11-2)

     Then the Jews said to Him, "Now we know that you have a
     demon!" (John 8:52)

   
Iqan, paragraph 14, pp. 13-15

     Reflect, what could have been the motive for such deeds?
What could have prompted such behaviour towards the Revealers of
the beauty of the All-Glorious? Whatever in days gone by hath
been the cause of the denial and opposition of those people hath
now led to the perversity of the people of this age. To maintain
that the testimony of Providence was incomplete, that it hath
therefore been the cause of the denial of the people, is but open
blasphemy. How far from the grace of the All-Bountiful and from
His loving providence and tender mercies it is to single out a
soul from amongst all men for the guidance of His creatures, and,
on one hand, to withhold from Him the full measure of His divine
testimony, and, on the other, inflict severe retribution on His
people for having turned away from His chosen One! Nay, the
manifold bounties of the Lord of all beings have, at all times,
through the Manifestations of His divine Essence, encompassed the
earth and all that dwell therein. Not for a moment hath His grace
been withheld, nor have the showers of His loving-kindness ceased
to rain upon mankind. Consequently, such behaviour can be
attributed to naught save the petty-mindedness of such souls as
tread the valley of arrogance and pride, are lost in the wilds of
remoteness, walk in the ways of their idle fancy, and follow the
dictates of the leaders of their faith. Their chief concern is
mere opposition; their sole desire is to ignore the truth. Unto
every discerning observer it is evident and manifest that had
these people in the days of each of the Manifestations of the Sun
of Truth sanctified their eyes, their ears, and their hearts from
whatever they  had seen, heard, and felt, they surely would not
have been deprived of beholding the beauty of God, nor strayed
far from the habitations of glory. But having weighed the
testimony of God by the standard of their own knowledge, gleaned
from the teachings of the leaders of their faith, and found it at
variance with their limited understanding, they arose to
perpetrate such unseemly acts.


THE REVEALERS OF THE BEAUTY OF THE ALL-GLORIOUS

This title of the Manifestations is often used in Baha'u'llah's
Tablets as well as in earlier Scriptures:

     Him Who is the Manifestation of Thy beauty
     (Prayers and Meditations by Baha'u'llah, p. 153)

     . . . the Revealers of Thy wondrous Beauty
     (Prayers and Meditations by Baha'u'llah, p. 96)

     The most beautiful names belong to God: so call on Him
     by them
     (Qur'an 7:180)
   
     [The Story of Joseph] the most beautiful of stories
     (Qur'an 12:3)

     Ye have indeed in the Apostle of God a beautiful
     pattern of (conduct)
     (Qur'an 33:21)

     And the LORD their God shall save them in that day as
     the flock of his people: for they shall be as the
     stones of a crown, lifted up as an ensign upon his
     land.  For how great is his goodness, and how great is
     his beauty!
     (Zechariah 9:16-17)

     In that day shall the LORD of hosts be for a crown of
     glory, and for a diadem of beauty . . .
     (Isaiah 28:5)

     Such in particular is the case with the divine reality
     of the Most Great Name, the Abha Beauty.  When once He
     standeth revealed unto the assembled peoples of the
     world and appeareth with such comeliness, such
     enchantments -- alluring as a Joseph in the Egypt of
     the spirit -- He enslaveth all the lovers on earth.
     (Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Baha, p. 64)


TO MAINTAIN THAT THE TESTIMONY OF PROVIDENCE WAS INCOMPLETE . . .
IS BUT OPEN BLASPHEMY.

     I bear witness, O friends! that the favor is complete,
     the argument fulfilled, the proof manifest and the
     evidence established. Let it now be seen what your
     endeavors in the path of detachment will reveal. In
     this wise hath the divine favor been fully vouchsafed
     unto you and unto them that are in heaven and on earth.
     All praise to God, the Lord of all Worlds.
     (Baha'u'llah's conclusion to the Persian Hidden Words)

     O God, my God!  I call Thee, Thy Prophets and Thy
     Messengers, Thy Saints and Thy Holy Ones, to witness
     that I have declared conclusively Thy Proofs unto Thy
     loved ones and set forth clearly all things unto them,
     that they may watch over Thy Faith, guard Thy Straight
     Path and protect Thy Resplendent Law.  Thou art,
     verily, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise!
     (The concluding words of Part II of the Will and
     Testament of `Abdu'l-Baha, p. 22)


TO INFLICT SEVERE RETRIBUTION ON HIS PEOPLE FOR HAVING TURNED
AWAY FROM HIS CHOSEN ONE

Please compare Baha'u'llah's description of the "severe
retribution" God inflicts on those who reject His Manifestation,
with His mention of God's "avenging wrath" and His "scourge of
chastisement" in paragraph 98, pp. 89-90.


THE PETTY-MINDEDNESS OF SUCH SOULS AS . . .  ARE LOST IN THE
WILDS OF REMOTENESS

Baha'u'llah often uses the metaphor of a person lost in a desert
or dying of exposure in a wilderness, to describe one who does
not follow God's guidance.  In "The Tablet of the Branch," He
used this image to describe those who do not turn to `Abdu'l-
Baha:

     "They who deprive themselves of the shadow of the
     Branch, are lost in the wilderness of error, are
     consumed by the heat of worldly desires, and are of
     those who will assuredly perish."
     (Baha'u'llah, quoted on p. 135 of "The World Order of
     Baha'u'llah")

To the Christian clergy, Baha'u'llah wrote:

     "O concourse of priests! The Day of Reckoning hath
     appeared, the Day whereon He Who was in heaven hath
     come. He, verily, is the One Whom ye were promised in
     the Books of God, the Holy, the Almighty, the
     All-Praised. How long will ye wander in the wilderness
     of heedlessness and superstition?"
     (Baha'u'llah, quoted in "The Promised Day is Come," p.
     102)


THE PETTY-MINDEDNESS OF SUCH SOULS AS . . . FOLLOW THE DICTATES
OF THE LEADERS OF THEIR FAITH

Baha'u'llah now begins His explanation of the role the clergy
play in every Dispensation, and of the people who blindly follow
them.  This begins His masterful severance of the cords that bind
the reader to his current religious leaders, and to gaze, with an
open and unbiased mind, on the new Manifestation.  This theme is
carried throughout the Iqan.


HAD THESE PEOPLE . . . SANCTIFIED THEIR EYES, THEIR EARS, AND
THEIR HEARTS FROM WHATEVER THEY HAD SEEN, HEARD, AND FELT

     The true seeker hunteth naught but the object of his
     quest, and the lover hath no desire save union with his
     beloved. Nor shall the seeker reach his goal unless he
     sacrifice all things. That is, whatever he hath seen,
     and heard, and understood, all must he set at naught,
     that he may enter the realm of the spirit, which is the
     City of God.
     (Baha'u'llah, The Valley of Search, "The Seven
     Valleys," p. 7)

THE STANDARD OF THEIR OWN KNOWLEDGE . . . THEIR LIMITED
UNDERSTANDING

In the opening words of the Iqan, Baha'u'llah states that the
seeker who uses "the words and deeds of mortal men" as a
"standard" to judge the Manifestations will never attain his
goal.  (Iqan, paragraph 2, p. 4)

Baha'u'llah later in the Iqan condemns those who have sought to
measure His Revelation "with their own deficient minds, their own
deficient learning and understanding."  (Iqan, paragraph 272, p.
244)



Iqan, paragraph 15, pages 15-16

Leaders of religion, in every age, have hindered their people from attaining the shores of eternal salvation, inasmuch as they held the reins of authority in their mighty grasp. Some for the lust of leadership, others through want of knowledge and understanding, have been the cause of the deprivation of the people. By their sanction and authority, every Prophet of God hath drunk from the chalice of sacrifice, and winged His flight unto the heights of glory. What unspeakable cruelties they that have occupied the seats of authority and learning have inflicted upon the true Monarchs of the world, those Gems of divine virtue! Content with a transitory dominion, they have deprived themselves of an everlasting sovereignty. Thus, their eyes beheld not the light of the countenance of the Well- Beloved, nor did their ears hearken unto the  sweet melodies of the Bird of Desire. For this reason, in all sacred books mention hath been made of the divines of every age. Thus He saith: "O people of the Book! Why disbelieve the signs of God to which ye yourselves have been witnesses?" And also He saith: "O people of the Book! Why clothe ye the truth with falsehood? Why wittingly hide the truth?" Again, He saith: "Say, O people of the Book, Why repel believers from the way of God?" It is evident that by the "people of the Book," who have repelled their fellow-men from the straight path of God, is meant none other than the divines of that age, whose names and character have been revealed in the sacred books, and alluded to in the verses and traditions recorded therein, were you to observe with the eye of God.


LEADERS OF RELIGION, IN EVERY AGE, HAVE HINDERED THEIR PEOPLE FROM ATTAINING THE SHORES OF ETERNAL SALVATION

"But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in."
(Jesus Christ, Gospel of Matthew 23:13)


ETERNAL SALVATION   öチ‰þ¹¶£
Elsewhere translated by Shoghi Effendi as God, divine, and ancient wisdom.  “. . . [T]he lilies of ancient wisdom can blossom nowhere except in the city of a stainless heart.”  Íqán, p. 191.


THEY HELD THE REINS OF AUTHORITY IN THEIR MIGHTY GRASP

Baha'u'llah elaborates on this theme in paragraph 25, p. 29, when He states that the "reins of every community have fallen into the grasp of foolish leaders;" in paragraph 175, page 164, when He writes that "the people also, utterly ignoring God and taking them for their masters, have placed themselves unreservedly under the authority of these pompous and hypocritical leaders; and in paragraph 233, page 210, when He writes of their motive being "to tighten the reins of their authority over the people."

Shoghi Effendi counsels us to be aware of this "mighty grasp":

" . . . so soon as the full measure of the stupendous claim of the Faith of Baha'u'llah comes to be recognized by those time-honored and powerful strongholds of orthodoxy, whose deliberate aim is to maintain their stranglehold over the thoughts and consciences of men, this infant Faith will have to contend with enemies more powerful and more insidious than the cruellest torture-mongers and the most fanatical clerics who have afflicted it in the past."
(The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 17)


THE LUST OF LEADERSHIP

Baha'u'llah has written about the consequences of this desire for leadership in a Tablet quoted by the Universal House of Justice in its letter, "Elucidation of Baha'i Teachings on Ranks and Stations":

"And amongst the realms of unity is the unity of rank and station. It redoundeth to the exaltation of the Cause, glorifying it among all peoples. Ever since the seeking of preference and distinction came into play, the world hath been laid waste. It hath become desolate. Those who have quaffed from the ocean of divine utterance and fixed their gaze upon the Realm of Glory should regard themselves as being on the same level as the others and in the same station. Were this matter to be definitely established and conclusively demonstrated through the power and might of God, the world would become as the Abhá Paradise.
"Indeed, man is noble, inasmuch as each one is a repository of the sign of God. Nevertheless, to regard oneself as superior in knowledge, learning or virtue, or to exalt oneself or seek preference, is a grievous transgression. Great is the blessedness of those who are adorned with the ornament of this unity and have been graciously confirmed by God."
(Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in a letter dated 27 March 1978, "Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1963-1986," pp. 375-376, message #206)


GEMS OF DIVINE VIRTUE ºôÍäï ¾ø£ô² Javahir maqsud.  “Maqsud” is generally translated as purpose, desire, aim, or goal.


CONTENT WITH A TRANSITORY DOMINION, THEY HAVE DEPRIVED THEMSELVES OF AN EVERLASTING SOVEREIGNTY

Please compare these verses from Bahá'u'lláh's Tablet to Pope Pius IX:

"Dwellest thou in palaces whilst He Who is the King of Revelation liveth in the most desolate of abodes? Leave them unto such as desire them, and set thy face with joy and delight towards the Kingdom....  O Supreme Pontiff! ... Sell all the embellished ornaments thou dost possess, and expend them in the path of God, Who causeth the night to return upon the day, and the day to return upon the night. Abandon thy kingdom unto the kings, and emerge from thy habitation, with thy face set towards the Kingdom, and, detached from the world, then speak forth the praises of thy Lord betwixt earth and heaven. . . . Should any one offer thee all the treasures of the earth, refuse to even glance upon them. Be as thy Lord hath been."
(The Proclamation of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 83-85)


"O PEOPLE OF THE BOOK"

"Muhammad and the Koran differentiated between unbelievers. Pagans were idolaters fit only for slavery whose idols were to be smashed. But Jews and Christians, despite Muhammad's rage against the Jews of Medina, were accorded special status as 'people of the book.'"
(Thomas W. Lippman, "Understanding Islam:  An Introduction to the Muslim World," p. 120)

Edward Granville Browne made this observation about 19th-Century Persian society:

"Though less liable to molestation now than in former times, [Zoroastrians] often meet with ill-treatment and insult at the hands of the more fanatical Muhammadans, by whom they are regarded as pagans, not equal even to Christians, Jews, and other 'people of the book' (ahlu'l-kitab).  Thus they are compelled to wear the dull yellow raiment already alluded to as a distinguishing badge; they are not permitted to wear socks, or to wind their turbans tightly and neatly, or to ride a horse; and if, when riding even a donkey, they should chance to meet a Musulman, they must dismount while he passes, and that without regard to his age or rank."
(Edward Granville Browne, "A Year Amongst The Persians," p. 405)

"People of the Book," as followers of a divine Prophet, were accorded a protected status in Muslim society.  They were also known as "dhimmis" or "covenant-protected."  Unlike Muslims, they were heavily taxed, but received certain privileges, such as exemption from military service.  In Iran today, Baha'is are not even recognized as "dhimmis."

In this Dispensation, Bahá'u'lláh has removed this distinction:

. . . [I]n all religious teachings of the past the human world has been represented as divided into two parts: one known as the people of the Book of God, or the pure tree, and the other the people of infidelity and error, or the evil tree.  The former were considered as belonging to the faithful, and the others to the hosts of the irreligious and infidel -- one part of humanity the recipients of divine mercy, and the other the object of the wrath of their Creator. Bahá'u'lláh removed this by proclaiming the oneness of the world of humanity, and this principle is specialized in His teachings, for He has submerged all mankind in the sea of divine generosity.
(`Abdu'l-Bahá, Address in New York City, 2 December 1912, "The Promulgation of Universal Peace," p. 454)

In this paragraph of the Íqán, Bahá'u'lláh quotes three verses from Qur'án Surih 3, "The Family of Imran," each beginning with the words, "O People of the Book!"  In that Surih, "O People of the Book" occurs as a refrain, and the term appears 14 times in that Surih.  In this paragraph of the Íqán, Bahá'u'lláh twice states that the phrase refers particularly to the clergy—and more particularly to the clergy of Islam.  In the Qayyumu'l- Asma, the Bab addresses the clergy by this same title:

O concourse of the people of the Book! Fear ye God and pride not yourselves in your learning. Follow ye the Book which His Remembrance hath revealed in praise of God, the True One. He Who is the Eternal Truth beareth me witness, whoso followeth this Book hath indeed followed all the past Scriptures which have been sent down from heaven by God, the Sovereign Truth.
(Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 44)

Bahá'u'lláh has reserved some of His strongest condemnations for the clergy.  As He states in Epistle to the Son of the Wolf (p. 15), certain of the Persian Hidden Words, including #24 ("O Ye That are Foolish, yet have a Name to be Wise!") and #25 ("O Ye Seeming Fair yet Inwardly Foul!  Ye are like clear but bitter water ...") were addressed to the clergy of Persia.

At the end of this paragraph, Bahá'u'lláh confirms that the clergy who keep their flock from the Path of God are condemned in all of the Holy Books.  To illustrate:

"For the lips of a priest should keep knowledge, and people should seek the law from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.  But you have departed from the way; you have caused many to stumble at the law.  You have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the LORD of hosts.  Therefore I also have made you contemptible and base before all the people, because you have not kept my ways ..."   (Malachi 2:7-9)

They [the Pharisees] are blind leaders of the blind.  And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch.” (Jesus Christ, Matthew 15:14)




Iqan, paragraph 16, pp. 16-17

With fixed and steady gaze, born of the unerring eye of God, scan for a while the horizon of divine knowledge, and contemplate those words of perfection which the Eternal hath revealed, that haply the mysteries of divine wisdom, hidden ere now beneath the veil of glory and treasured within the tabernacle of His grace, may be made manifest unto you. The denials and protestations of these leaders of religion have, in the main, been due to their lack of knowledge and understanding. Those words uttered by the Revealers of the beauty of the one true God, setting forth the signs that should herald the advent of the Manifestation to come, they never understood nor fathomed. Hence they raised the standard of revolt, and stirred up mischief and sedition. It is obvious and manifest that the true meaning of the utterances of the Birds of Eternity is revealed to none except those that manifest the Eternal Being, and the melodies of the Nightingale of Holiness can reach no ear save that of the denizens of the everlasting realm. The Copt of tyranny can never partake of the cup touched by the lips of the Sept of justice, and the Pharaoh of unbelief can never hope to recognize the hand of the Moses of truth. Even as He saith: "None knoweth the meaning thereof except God and them that are well-grounded in knowledge." And yet, they have sought the interpretation of the Book from those that are wrapt in veils, and have refused to seek enlightenment from the fountainhead of knowledge.


WITH FIXED AND STEADY GAZE

Please observe how Baha'u'llah guides the us to turn to those aspects of the higher self within us, as we gaze at His Words.  Similarly, in paragraph 43, page 42, He writes:

And now, with fixed gaze and steady wings enter thou the way of certitude and truth.

In one of His Tablets, `Abdu'l-Baha counsels us to look "with the iron sight."  (Baha'i World Faith, p. 392)


BORN OF THE UNERRING EYE OF GOD

Baha'u'llah, knowing how prone we are as human beings to misunderstanding God's purpose, calls on us to see with God's eyes.  Please compare paragraph 216, page 196, where Baha'u'llah describes the true seeker: "Gazing with the eye of God, he will perceive within every atom a door that leadeth him to the stations of absolute certitude."

There is a beautiful Tablet by `Abdu'l-Bahá, previously untranslated, in Mr. Dunbar's book, on this subject.


SCAN FOR A WHILE THE HORIZON OF DIVINE KNOWLEDGE, AND CONTEMPLATE THOSE WORDS OF PERFECTION WHICH THE ETERNAL HATH REVEALED

Among Baha'u'llah's beautiful and peerless imagery, is that of gazing at the horizon, as a symbol of contemplating the divine:

Our intent is that all the friends should fix their gaze on the Supreme Horizon, and cling to that which hath been revealed in the Tablets.
(Baha'u'llah, Compilation, "Fire and Light")

They exiled Us without cause at one time to `Iraq, at another time to Adrianople, and thence to `Akká, which was a place of exile for murderers and robbers; neither is it known where and in what spot We shall take up Our abode after this greatest prison house.  Knowledge is with God, the Lord of the Throne and of the dust and the Lord of the lofty seat.  In whatever place We may be, and whatever befall Us, the saints must gaze with perfect steadfastness and confidence towards the Supreme Horizon and occupy themselves in the reformation of the world and the education of the nations.
(Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in A Traveller's Narrative, p. 44)

O thou who hast quaffed from the wine of Mine utterance and hast fixed thy gaze upon the horizon of My Revelation!
(Tablet of the World, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 85, also see p. 122; and Baha'i Prayers, p. 75)

THE MYSTERIES OF DIVINE WISDOM, HIDDEN ERE NOW BENEATH THE VEIL OF GLORY . . . MAY BE MADE MANIFEST UNTO YOU

This calls to the reader's mind that Bahá'u'lláh's purpose in the Íqán is to unseal the Holy Books.  Shoghi Effendi points out in God Passes By, recalling the verse in Daniel, that the Holy Books were "sealed up."  Bahá'u'lláh, in the Íqán, unseals them.

"Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end."
(Daniel 12:9)

I watched till thrones were put in place, and the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head was like pure wool.  His throne was a fiery flame, its wheels a burning fire; a fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him.  Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him.  The court was seated, and the books were opened.
(Daniel 7:9-10)

This most sacred act of "opening the books," to which Bahá'u'lláh refers in the verse under discussion, is what the Íqán is about.

See how Jesus Christ and St. Paul describe the opening of what was previously hidden:

  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.
(Jesus Christ, Revelation 2:17)

Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.
(St. Paul, First Letter to the Corinthians 4:5)


REVOLT . . . MISCHIEF AND SEDITION . . . TYRANNY

It is interesting to note that "revolt" and "sedition" generally refer to an uprising against lawful authority by those who are under authority; and "tyranny" generally describes people who are in authority.  Both of these terms, describing the conduct of the people and their religious leaders towards the Manifestation, occur in this paragraph.


THE COPT OF TYRANNY CAN NEVER PARTAKE OF THE CUP TOUCHED BY THE LIPS OF THE SEPT OF JUSTICE, AND THE PHARAOH OF UNBELIEF CAN NEVER HOPE TO RECOGNIZE THE HAND OF THE MOSES OF TRUTH.

As the Guardian's explanations in the Glossary indicate, these two phrases have the same meaning:  The unbelievers do not understand the meaning of the Word of God.


"NONE KNOWETH THE MEANING THEREOF EXCEPT GOD AND THEM THAT ARE WELL-GROUNDED IN KNOWLEDGE."

This is a verse from Surih 3 of the Qur'an, "The Family of Imran."  Here are two translations of the full verse:

He it is Who has sent down to thee the Book: in it are verses basic or fundamental (of established meaning); they are the foundation of the Book: others are allegorical.  But those in whose hearts is perversity follow the part there of that is allegorical, seeking discord, and searching for its hidden meanings, but no one knows its hidden meanings except God and those who are firmly grounded in knowledge who say "We believe in the Book; the whole of it is from our Lord"; and none will grasp the Message except men of understanding.
(Qur'án 3:7, Yusuf Ali translation)

He it is who hath sent down to thee "the Book."  Some of its signs are of themselves perspicuous,  these are the basis of the Book  and others are figurative.  But they whose hearts are given to err, follow its figures, craving discord, craving an interpretation; yet none knoweth its interpretation but God.  And the stable in knowledge say, "We believe in it: it is all from our Lord."  But none will bear this in mind, save men endued with understanding.
(Rodwell translation)

THEY HAVE SOUGHT THE INTERPRETATION OF THE BOOK FROM THOSE THAT ARE WRAPT IN VEILS

Please consider this verse from the Gospel, where Jesus removes the "graveclothes" from Lazarus and from his face, and raises him from the "dead:"

And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, "Loose him, and let him go."
(John 11:44)

`Abdu'l-Baha has stated:

. . . holding to literal interpretation and visible fulfillment of the text of the Holy Books is simply imitation of ancestral forms and beliefs; for when we perceive the reality of Christ, these texts and statements become clear and perfectly reconcilable with each other.  Unless we perceive reality, we cannot understand the meanings of the Holy Books, for these meanings are symbolical and spiritual -- such as, for instance, the raising of Lazarus, which has spiritual interpretation.  We must first establish the fact that the power of God is infinite, unlimited, and that it is within that power to accomplish anything. Second, we must understand the interpretation of Christ's words concerning the dead.  A certain disciple came to Christ and asked permission to go and bury his father.  He answered, "Let the dead bury their dead."  Therefore, Christ designated as dead some who were still living --that is, let the living dead, the spiritually dead, bury your father.  They were dead because they were not believers in Christ.  Although physically alive, they were dead spiritually.  This is the meaning of Christ's words, "That which is born of flesh is flesh; and that which is born of Spirit is spirit."  He meant that those who were simply born of the human body were dead spiritually, while those quickened by the breaths of the Holy Spirit were living and eternally alive.  These are the interpretations of Christ Himself.  Reflect upon them, and the meanings of the Holy Books will become clear as the sun at midday.
(The Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 245-246)

THE FOUNTAINHEAD OF KNOWLEDGE

In the Sacred Scriptures, the Manifestation of God is frequently compared to a fountain or a spring.  For example, in Muslim Traditions we read:

I bring you tidings of a city betwixt two mountains in Syria, in the middle of a meadow, which is called `Akka. Verily, he that entereth therein, longing for it and eager to visit it, God will forgive his sins, both of the past and of the future. And he that departeth from it, other than as a pilgrim, God will not bless his departure. In it is a spring called the Spring of the Cow. Whoso drinketh a draught therefrom, God will fill his heart with light, and will protect him from the most great terror on the Day of Resurrection. . .   Blessed the one that hath drunk from the Spring of the Cow and washed in its waters, for the black-eyed damsels quaff the camphor in Paradise, which hath come from the Spring of the Cow...
(Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, pp. 178-180)

And in the Revelation of St. John we read:

And he that sat upon the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new."  And he said unto me, "Write: for these words are true and faithful."  And he said unto me, "It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely..."  And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high  mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God . . .
(Revelation 21:5 11)



Iqan, Paragraph 17, pp. 17-19

And when the days of Moses were ended, and the light of Jesus, shining forth from the dayspring of the Spirit, encompassed the world, all the people of Israel arose in protest against Him. They clamoured that He Whose advent the Bible had foretold must needs promulgate and fulfil the laws of Moses, whereas this youthful Nazarene, who laid claim to the station of the divine Messiah, had annulled the law of divorce and of the sabbath day    the most weighty of all the laws of Moses. Moreover, what of the signs of the Manifestation yet to come? These people of Israel are even unto the present day still expecting that Manifestation which the Bible hath foretold! How many Manifestations of Holiness, how many Revealers of the light everlasting, have appeared since the time of Moses, and yet Israel, wrapt in the densest veils of satanic fancy and false imaginings, is still expectant that the idol of her own handiwork will appear with such signs as she herself hath conceived! Thus hath God laid hold of them for their sins, hath extinguished in them the spirit of faith, and tormented them with the flames of the nethermost fire. And this for no other reason except that Israel refused to apprehend the meaning of such words as hath been revealed in the Bible concerning the signs of the coming Revelation. As she never grasped their true significance, and, to outward seeming, such events never came to pass, she, therefore, remained deprived of recognizing the beauty of Jesus and of beholding the face of God. And they still await His coming! From time immemorial even unto this day, all the kindreds and peoples of the earth have clung to such fanciful and unseemly thoughts, and thus have deprived themselves of the clear waters streaming from the springs of purity and holiness.


THE LIGHT OF JESUS, SHINING FORTH FROM THE DAYSPRING OF THE SPIRIT

When John the Baptist was born, his father Zacharias was inspired by the Holy Spirit to say:

"And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest; for you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways, to give knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God, with which the Dayspring from on high has visited us; to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."
(Luke 1:76-79)


THIS YOUTHFUL NAZARENE . . . HAD ANNULLED THE LAW OF DIVORCE AND OF THE SABBATH DAY -- THE MOST WEIGHTY OF ALL THE LAWS OF MOSES

“Most Weighty” is in the original `azam, íÕÚ£ elsewhere translated by Shoghi Effendi in various ways, most often as most mighty (Most Mighty Branch) and as most great (Most Great Branch, Most Great Festival, Most Great Prison).

The Mosaic law of divorce was:

When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some uncleanness in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house. . .
(Deuteronomy 24:1)

Jesus annulled this law:

Furthermore it has been said, "Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce."  But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery."
(Matthew 5:31-32)

Jesus stated that the law of Moses -- the "law" and the "prophets" -- was annulled with the opening of His Dispensation:

And He said to [the Pharisees] . . ."The law and the prophets were until John.  Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it.  And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail.  Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery."
(Luke 16:35-37)

The Mosaic law of the Sabbath:

You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you.  Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people.  Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD.  Whoever dos any work on the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.  Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant.
(Exodus 31:14-16.)

A Jew who gathered sticks on the Sabbath was put to death by stoning -- see Numbers 15:32.  In this context, please consider:

At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath.  And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat.  But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, "Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!"  Then He said to them, "Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him:  how he entered the house of God and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests?  Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless?  But I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple.  But if you had known what this means, 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice,' [Hosea 6:6] you would not have condemned the guiltless.  For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath."

SATANIC FANCY  ö‰ýò¤ÓýÊ œöチ‰ýÅáò nafs-i-shaitani (my transliteration).  “Nafs” is often translated as self or soul.  Shaitan means Satan.



THESE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL ARE EVEN UNTO THE PRESENT DAY STILL EXPECTING THAT MANIFESTATION WHICH THE BIBLE HATH FORETOLD!

In like manner all the other signs have been made manifest, but the Jews did not understand.  Although nearly twenty centuries have elapsed since Christ appeared with divine splendour, yet the Jews are still awaiting the coming of the Messiah and regard themselves as true and Christ as false.
(Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Baha, p. 46)

Please also compare this passage from Íqán paragraph 268, pp. 239-240:

Notwithstanding all the verses of the Qur'án, and the recognized traditions, which are all indicative of a new Faith, a new Law, and a new Revelation, this generation still waiteth in expectation of beholding the promised One who should uphold the Law of the Muhammadan Dispensation. The Jews and the Christians in like manner uphold the same contention.


HATH EXTINGUISHED IN THEM THE SPIRIT OF FAITH

Please contrast this passage from Íqán paragraph 265, p. 236:

Do thou ponder these momentous happenings in thy heart, so that thou mayest apprehend the greatness of this Revelation, and perceive its stupendous glory. Then shall the spirit of faith, through the grace of the Merciful, be breathed into thy being, and thou shalt be established and abide upon the seat of certitude.


AND TORMENTED THEM WITH THE FLAMES OF THE NETHERMOST FIRE

Please compare the "torment" in this passage, with the "ills" described in paragraph 89 at the bottom of page 81.  Also, Shoghi Effendi has written:

We need only recall the nineteen hundred years of abject misery and dispersion which they, who only for the short space of three years, persecuted the Son of God, have had to endure, and are still enduring.
(The Promised Day is Come, p. 103)

Bahá'u'lláh makes clear that this "nethermost fire" is figurative and signifies unbelief, in paragraph 125, page 118.  For example, in the last book of the Old Testament:

"For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, and all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble.  And the day which is coming shall burn them up," says the Lord of Hosts.
(Malachi 4:1)

 Likewise, in the Kitab-i-Asma, the Báb wrote:

Verily it is incumbent upon you to recognize your Lord at the time of His manifestation, that haply ye may not enter into negation, and that, ere a prophet is raised by God, ye may find yourselves securely established upon the sea of affirmation. For if a prophet cometh to you from God and ye fail to walk in His Way, God will, thereupon, transform your light into fire. Take heed then that perchance ye may, through the grace of God and His signs, be enabled to redeem your souls.
(Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 147)

In the Revelation of St. John (21:8) unbelief is compared to a lake of fire and molten brimstone.


THE CLEAR WATERS STREAMING FROM THE SPRINGS OF PURITY AND HOLINESS

The first two sentences in the following quote from the Prophet Isaiah are Shoghi Effendi's translation.  See "Epistle to the Son of the Wolf," p. 146, where Baha'u'llah confirms that both "the glory of the Lord" and "the splendor of our God" refer to Him:

The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose.  It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the splendor of our God.  Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees.  Say to those who are fearful-hearted, "Be strong, do not fear!  Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God; He will come and save you."  Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.  Then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb sing.  For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert.  The parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water . . .
     (Isaiah 35:1-7)



Iqan, paragraph 18, pp. 19-20)

In unfolding these mysteries, We have, in Our former Tablets which were addressed to a friend in the melodious language of Hijaz, cited a few of the verses revealed unto the Prophets of old. And now, responding to your request, We again shall cite, in these pages, those same verses, uttered this time in the wondrous accents of 'Iraq, that haply the sore athirst in the wilds of remoteness may attain unto the ocean of the divine presence, and they that languish in the wastes of separation be led unto the home of eternal reunion. Thus the mists of error may be dispelled, and the all-resplendent light of divine guidance dawn forth above the horizon of human hearts. In God We put Our trust, and to Him We cry for help, that haply there may flow from this pen that which shall quicken the souls of men, that they may all arise from their beds of heedlessness and hearken unto the rustling of the leaves of Paradise, from the tree which the hand of divine power hath, by the permission of God, planted in the Ridvan of the All-Glorious.


IN OUR FORMER TABLETS WHICH WERE ADDRESSED TO A FRIEND IN THE MELODIOUS LANGUAGE OF HIJAZ

Baha'u'llah again refers to these "former Tablets" in paragraph 24, page 26 as "Our Tablets revealed in the Arabic tongue."  He refers here specifically to the Tablet of Javahiru'l-Asrar, "The Essence of Divine Mysteries," mentioned by Shoghi Effendi on page 141 of God Passes By.  The following are extracts and summaries from a description of that Tablet by the renowned Baha'i scholar `Abdu'l-Hamid-i-Ishraq Khavari, published in Bahá'í World, Volume XIV, pp. 629-630.

This Tablet was revealed to Haji Siyyid Muhammad-i-Isfahani (not to be confused with the man by the same name, who is the Antichrist of the Baha'i Revelation, and who misled Mirza Yahya).  He was a disciple of Shaykh Murtaday-i-Ansari, described by Shoghi Effendi as "a man renowned for his tolerance, his wisdom, his undeviating justice, his piety and nobility of character."  (God Passes By, p. 143).  Baha'u'llah referred to Shaykh Murtada as among "those doctors who have indeed drunk of the cup of renunciation," and `Abdu'l-Bahá described him as "the illustrious and erudite doctor, the noble and celebrated scholar, the seal of seekers after truth."  (Quoted in Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Baha'u'llah, Volume I, p. 92).  Shaykh Murtada, the leader of Shi'ih Islam, was led to investigate the Baha'i Revelation by Siyyid Muhammad, the recipient of this Tablet.  Another of Shaykh Murtada's disciples was Nabil-i-Akbar, later named a Hand of the Cause of God by Baha'u'llah (Memorials of the Faithful, p. 1).

Haji Siyyid Muhammad-i-Isfahani was a learned and accomplished Muslim divine, confident of his superiority over Baha'u'llah during the Baghdad days.  After spending one evening with Baha'u'llah, his pride vanished and gave way to humility before Him.  He renounced his position among the 'ulama and became a devoted believer and Bahá'í scholar.  He then wrote questions to Bahá'u'lláh, and Bahá'u'lláh's response was the Tablet Javahiru'l-Asrar.  Here is Ishraq Khavari's summary of this Tablet:

Javahiru'l-Asrar is a monumental work.  It is one of the choicest fruits that the Revelation of Baha'u'llah has yielded.  Judged by the nature of its contents, this illuminating book, which is written in eloquent Arabic, may be regarded as a sister to the Iqan, since most of the subjects treated in that celebrated work are also briefly mentioned in this epistle. . . .
In this mighty epistle, within the space of about one hundred pages, Baha'u'llah refers to the grievous tribulation and adversities that He suffered at the hand of the infidels; deplores the perversity of the followers of past religions; elucidates the meaning of the signs and prophecies concerning the advent of the new Manifestations, including the meaning of the passage in the Bible where it says:  "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My word shall not pass away"; affirms the continuity of divine revelation; unfolds the significance of such symbolic terms as "the Day of Judgment", "the Balance", "the Way", "the resurrection of the dead", and "the identity of the Promised Qa'im and the place from which He is expected to appear"; asserts the inevitability of heaven-sent trials, and describes the inner meaning of such terms as "life and death", "attainment to the presence of God", "the valley of bewilderment", "the station of self-surrender" and "the character and qualities of those who have attained His Court".

This Tablet is now available in authorized translation from the Universal House of Justice.

AND NOW RESPONDING TO YOUR REQUEST

Baha'u'llah here indicates that His explanations are in response to a request addressed to Him by the Uncle of the Báb.  He also refers to these questions and to the person of the Uncle of the Báb in a number of places in the Íqán:

"O my brother," paragraph 23 page 23; paragraph 211 page 191; paragraph 213 page 192.

"Dear friend!" paragraph 99, page 90

"O affectionate seeker!" paragraph 100, page 91

"Then wilt thou have no more questions to perplex thee," paragraph 130, page 123

"O questioning seeker," paragraph 134, page 125

"the questions thou hast asked," paragraph 195, page 178


THE WONDROUS ACCENTS OF IRAQ

Here, Baha'u'llah addresses the Uncle of the Báb, the recipient of the Íqán, in Persian, which He describes as "the wondrous accents of Iraq."  Bahá'u'lláh and `Abdu'l-Bahá have written about these two languages:

It is beloved of God that all should speak in Arabic, which is the richest and vastest of all languages.  Were anyone to be aware of the richness and vastness of this perspicuous tongue, he would choose it as a universal language of communication.  The Persian tongue is a beautiful language, and in this Dispensation God hath chosen to speak in two languages:  Arabic and Persian.  However, Persian is not as rich as Arabic; in fact all the languages of the earth seem limited when compared to the Arabic language.
(Baha'u'llah, quoted in Soheil Bushrui, "The Style of the Kitab-i-Aqdas:  Aspects of the Sublime," pp. 32-33)

Make sure that Bahá'í schoolchildren in their early years learn Arabic.  For this is in accordance with the words of the Ancient Beauty in which He considers Arabic as the perspicuous tongue and through it He revealed the majority of His holy verses, laws and ordinances, prayers and scientific tablets.  The rewards for accomplishing this are abundant in the estimation of God, and its results will be of great benefit to the entire community.
(Shoghi Effendi, letter to the Bahá'ís of Iran, quoted in Soheil Bushrui, "The Style of the Kitab-i-Aqdas:  Aspects of the Sublime," pp. 33-34)

The Universal House of Justice has also commented on the Arabic language, and Bahá'u'lláh's mastery of it. (The Kitab-i-Aqdas, Introduction, p. 9)

THE SORE ATHIRST IN THE WILDS OF REMOTENESS

Being lost in the wilderness is an image Bahá'u'lláh often uses to describe a certain spiritual condition.  Another passage from His Pen which uses this image is from the Tablet of the Branch:  “They who deprive themselves of the shadow of the Branch, are lost in the wilderness of error, are consumed by the heat of worldly desires, and are of those who will assuredly perish.” (The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 135)


THAT HAPLY THE SORE ATHIRST IN THE WILDS OF REMOTENESS MAY ATTAIN UNTO THE OCEAN OF THE DIVINE PRESENCE, AND THEY THAT LANGUISH IN THE WASTES OF SEPARATION BE LED UNTO THE HOME OF ETERNAL REUNION. THUS THE MISTS OF ERROR MAY BE DISPELLED, AND THE ALL-RESPLENDENT LIGHT OF DIVINE GUIDANCE DAWN FORTH ABOVE THE HORIZON OF HUMAN HEARTS

This is one of the passages in the Íqán where Bahá'u'lláh sets forth His purpose in revealing this Book.  Here are some other such passages from the portions of the Íqán we have already read:

"...perchance you may cause the bird of the human heart to wing its flight away from the abodes of heedlessness and doubt into the nest of faith and certainty, and drink deep from the pure waters of ancient wisdom, and partake of the fruit of the tree of divine knowledge."  (Paragraph 5, page 6)

"Perchance this may enable a few to cease to be perturbed by the clamour and protestations of the divines and the foolish of this age, and cause them to strengthen their confidence and certainty."
(Paragraph 6, pp. 6-7)

"...that the secret of things unseen may be revealed unto you, that you may inhale the sweetness of a spiritual and imperishable fragrance . . ."
(Paragraph 8, page 8)

There are many others, and studying them carefully will aid us to understand what Bahá'u'lláh wishes us to derive from reading this Divine Masterpiece.


THAT THEY MAY ALL ARISE FROM THEIR BEDS OF HEEDLESSNESS

Baha'u'llah here unseals the symbolic term "bed" (and implicitly, "sleep") to mean unawareness of the new Manifestation.  Here are Bible verses which are unsealed by this explanation:

These things [Jesus] said, and after that He said to them, "Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up."  (John 11:11)

When He rose up from prayer, and had come to His disciples, He found them sleeping from sorrow.  Then He said to them, "Why do you sleep?  Rise and pray, lest you enter into temptation."  (Luke 22:45-46)

And again He entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in the house.  Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door.  And He preached the word to them.  Then they came to Him, bringing a paralyzed man who was carried by four men.  And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was.  And when they had broken through they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying.  When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven you.... I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go your way to your house."  (Mark 2:1-12)

Now it came to pass, as Peter went through all parts of the country, that he also came down to the saints who dwelt in Lydda.  There he found a certain man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden eight years and was paralyzed.  And Peter said to him, "Aeneas, Jesus the Christ heals you.  Arise and make your bed."  Then he arose immediately.  So all who dwelt at Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord. (Acts 9:32-34)

We will study in paragraph 29 what the meaning of "night' is, and then we will understand what Jesus means in this verse, speaking of His return:

"I tell you, in that night there will be two men in one bed; the one will be taken and the other will be left."


THE RUSTLING OF THE LEAVES OF PARADISE, FROM THE TREE WHICH THE HAND OF DIVINE POWER HATH, BY THE PERMISSION OF GOD, PLANTED IN THE RIDVAN OF THE ALL-GLORIOUS

Throughout the Holy Books, there are references to the Holy Tree in Paradise, and the remarkable qualities of its "leaves."  `Abdu'l-Baha has explained:

"The Tree of Life, of which mention is made in the Bible, is Baha'u'llah..."
(Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Baha, p. 57)

St. John had a vision of a "Holy City" that had the "Glory of God" descending from heaven (Revelation Chapter 21).  Then, in that City, a tree with leaves:

And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.  In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month.  And the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
(Revelation 22:1-2)

Baha'u'llah uses strikingly similar language in describing the rustling of the leaves of the tree in the City of God, in paragraph 217, page 198:

Therein he . . . will perceive all the hidden teachings from the rustling leaves of the Tree -- which flourisheth in that City. . . In every leaf ineffable delights are treasured."

The Bab compares the Bayan to a "leaf" among the "leaves" of Baha'u'llah's "Paradise." (Quoted Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 152).  Baha'u'llah describes His Tablets as these "leaves," for example in the Tablet Kalimat-i-Firdawsiyyih, "Words of Paradise," revealed to Haydar-`Ali:


The word of God which the Supreme Pen hath recorded on the eighth leaf of the Most Exalted Paradise is the following . . . It is incumbent upon the Trustees of the House of Justice to take counsel together regarding those things which have not outwardly been revealed in the Book, and to enforce that which is agreeable to them.  God will verily inspire them with whatsoever He willeth, and He, verily,is the Provider, the Omniscient.
(Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 68)

The Prophet Ezekiel had a vision of "the Glory of God" entering "the house of the Lord" on a "mountain."  A river of the water of life flowed down the mountain from under the threshold of the house of the Lord, and along the banks of the river were trees with "leaves" that heal.

It is solely my personal understanding that these verses have reference to the House of Justice, as this is not confirmed in the Baha'i Writings:

Afterward he brought me to the gate, even the gate that looketh toward the east; and, behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east: and his voice was like a noise of many waters; and the earth shined with his glory.... And the glory of the Lord came into the house by the way of the gate whose prospect is toward the east .... "show them the form of the house, and the fashion thereof, and the going out thereof, and the comings in thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and all the laws thereof; and write it in their sight, that they may keep the whole form thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and do them.  This is the law of the house; upon the top of the mountain the whole limit thereof round about shall be most holy. Behold, this is the law of the house."
(Ezekiel 43:1-12)

Then brought he me the way of the north gate before the house; and I looked, and, behold, the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord; and I fell upon my face.  And the Lord said unto me, "Son of man, mark well, and behold with thine eyes, and hear with thine ears all that I say unto thee concerning all the ordinances of the house of the Lord, and all the laws thereof; and mark well the entering in of the house, with every going forth of the sanctuary.... And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.  And in controversy they shall stand in judgment; and they shall judge it according to my judgment; and they shall keep my laws and my statutes in all mine assemblies; and they shall hallow my sabbaths."
(Ezekiel 44:1-24)

Afterward he brought me again unto the door of the house; and, behold, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward ... Then said he unto me, "These waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea; which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed.  And it shall come to pass, that everything that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live; and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither; for they shall be healed; and everything shall live whither the river cometh.... And by the river on the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed; it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary; and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine."
(Ezekiel 47:1-12)

`Abdu'l-Baha also confirms that the "leaves" on the "tree" refer to the women in this Dispensation:

O leaf upon the Tree of Life!  The Tree of Life, of which mention is made in the Bible, is Baha'u'llah, and the daughters of the Kingdom are the leaves upon that blessed Tree.  Then thank thou God that thou hast become related to that Tree, and that thou art flourishing, tender and fresh.
(Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Baha, p. 57, see also Tablets of Baha'u'llah p. 254)





Paragraph 19, page 20

  To them that are endowed with understanding, it is clear and manifest that when the fire of the love of Jesus consumed the veils of Jewish limitations, and His authority was made apparent and partially enforced, He the Revealer of the unseen Beauty, addressing one day His disciples, referred onto His passing, and, kindling in their hearts the fire of bereavement, said onto them: "I go away and come again unto you." And in another place He said: "I go and another will come Who will tell you all that I have not told you, and will fulfil all that I have said." Both these sayings have but one meaning, were you to ponder upon the Manifestations of the Unity of God with divine insight.


TO THEM THAT ARE ENDOWED WITH UNDERSTANDING

Endowed with íëÙì£ ‘ilm (actually, al-‘ilm). Shoghi Effendi generally translates ‘ilm as “knowledge”.  He has also translated it variously as comprehension, discernment, fore-knowledge, learning, human learning, divine knowledge, science, awareness, wisdom, most learned, enlightenment, attainments, become acquainted with.  The Master uses it in the Will: The successor Guardian “must manifest in himself detachment from all worldly things, must be the essence of purity, must show in
himself the fear of God, knowledge . . .” He also writes in His Will that the members of the Universal House of Justice “. . . must be manifestations of the fear of God and daysprings of knowledge. . .”
`

TO THEM THAT ARE ENDOWED WITH UNDERSTANDING, IT IS CLEAR AND MANIFEST

It is possible for us to see “with the eye of God,” as Bahá'u'lláh earlier explained in paragraph 16 -- but there are qualifications to attain to this awareness.  Bahá'u'lláh states the conditions for such clear understanding as He also mentions here, in paragraph 280 (page 252) of the Íqán:

They that have hearts to understand, they that have quaffed the Wine of love, who have not for one moment gratified their selfish desires, will behold, resplendent as the sun in its noon-tide glory, those tokens, testimonies, and evidences that attest the truth of this wondrous Revelation, this transcendent and divine Faith.


HE ... REFERRED UNTO HIS PASSING, AND, KINDLING IN THEIR HEARTS THE FIRE OF BEREAVEMENT

. . . because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. (John 16:6)


HE . . . SAID UNTO THEM, "I GO AWAY AND COME AGAIN UNTO YOU."  AND IN ANOTHER PLACE HE SAID:  "I GO AND ANOTHER WILL COME..."

These appear to be the verses which Bahá'u'lláh has paraphrased:

But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart.  Nevertheless I tell you the truth:  It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.  And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness and of judgment; of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.  I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.  However, when He, the Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.  He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.  All things that the Father has are Mine.  Therefore I said that He will take of mine and declare it to you.
(Jesus Christ, Gospel of John 16:6-16)

These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.  Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.  You have heard Me say to you, "I am going away and coming back to you"  If you loved me, you would rejoice because I said, "I am going to the Father," for My Father is greater than I.  And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe.  I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me.
(Jesus Christ, Gospel of John 14:25-30)

`Abdu'l-Bahá explains that Bahá'u'lláh is “the ruler of this world,” (Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 170) and Bahá'u'lláh states in His Tablet to the Christians that He is the Ruler (Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 12).  The words of Christ in the first verse, “the ruler of this world is judged,” and in the second, “the ruler of this world . . . has nothing in Me,” are misinterpreted by Christians, who believe that Jesus is referring to the devil.  The context shows that it refers to one who is coming, who is titled variously, the Spirit of Truth, the Father, the Helper, and the Ruler of this world.


THE UNITY OF GOD ¹ý¶ô¬ì£ al-tawhíd.
WITH DIVINE INSIGHT.  With bayan-Alláh ö|‰ëì£ ðýÙ§
In a later passage of the Íqán, Shoghi Effendi translates this identical phrase as “gazing with the eye of God” (paragraph 216, p. 196).


Iqan paragraph 20, pp. 20-22

  Every discerning observer will recognize that in the Dispensation of the Qur'an both the Book and the Cause of Jesus were confirmed. As to the matter of names, Muhammad, Himself, declared: "I am Jesus." He recognized the truth of the signs, prophecies, and words of Jesus, and testified that they were all of God. In this sense, neither the person of Jesus nor His writings hath differed from that of Muhammad and of His holy Book, inasmuch as both have championed the Cause of God, uttered His praise, and revealed His commandments. Thus it is that Jesus, Himself, declared: "I go away and come again unto you." Consider the sun. Were it to say now, "I am the sun of yesterday," it would speak the truth. And should it, bearing the sequence of time in mind, claim to be other than that sun, it still would speak the truth. In like manner, if it be said that all the days are but one and the same, it is correct and true. And if it be said, with respect to their particular names and designations, that they differ, that again is true. For though they are the same, yet one doth recognize in each a separate designation, a specific attribute, a particular character. Conceive accordingly the distinction, variation, and unity characteristic of the various Manifestations of holiness, that thou mayest comprehend the allusions made by the creator of all names and attributes to the mysteries of distinction and unity, and discover the answer to thy question as to why that everlasting Beauty should have, at sundry times, called Himself by different names and titles.


Notes by Mr. Dunbar accompany these words from this paragraph:

"Dispensation of the Qur'an"
"Muhammad"
"mysteries of distinction and unity"
"answer to thy question"
"hidden and sacred Tree"

It is important, for a fuller understanding of the Iqan, to purchase his book, "A Companion to the Study of the Kitab-i-Íqán." In the USA it is available from the Baha'i Publishing Trust bds@usbnc.org or (800) 999-9019.  I have gone through the Íqán paragraph by paragraph, and using a yellow marker have highlighted those words for which Mr. Dunbar has made Notes, as an easy reminder for me to refer to his book.  These Notes of his are very clear, and often contain information not elsewhere available in English which makes the Íqán easier to understand.


THE DISPENSATION OF THE QUR'ÁN

You state that the Christian Dispensation "was six hundred and twenty-two years old at the time of the Hegira".  The Guardian suggests that the words "at the time of the Hegira" be omitted as they may give the impression that the Revelation of Christ extended beyond the date of the Hegira.
(From a letter on behalf of the Guardian dated 10 November 1934, "Unfolding Destiny, p. 433)

...Muhammadanism is not only the last of the world religions, but a fuller Revelation than any one preceding it.  The Qur'án is not only more authoritative than any previous religious gospel, but it contains also much more; ordinances, teachings and precepts, which taken together constitute a fuller Revelation of God's purpose and law to mankind than Christianity, Judaism or any other previous Dispensation.  This view is in complete accord with the Bahá'í philosophy of progressive revelation, and should be thoroughly accepted and taught by every loyal.... Bahá'í.
(From a letter on behalf of the Guardian dated 12 November 1933, "Unfolding Destiny, p. 432)


"Shoghi Effendi hopes that your lectures will not only serve to deepen the knowledge of the believers in the doctrines and culture and culture of Islam, but will set their hearts afire with the love of everything that vitally pertains to Muhammad and His Faith.
"There is so much misunderstanding about Islam in the West in general that you have to dispel. Your task is rather difficult and requires a good deal of erudition. Your chief task is to acquaint the friends with the pure teaching of the Prophet as recorded in the Qur'án, and then to point out how these teachings have, throughout succeeding ages, influenced nay guided the course of human development. In other words you have to show the position and significance of Islam in the history of civilization.
"The Bahá'í view on that subject is that the Dispensation of Muhammad, like all other Divine Dispensations, has been fore-ordained, and that as such forms an integral part of the Divine Plan for the spiritual, moral and social, development of mankind, It is not an isolated religious phenomenon, but is closely and historically related to the Dispensation of Christ, and those of the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh. It was intended by God to succeed Christianity, and it was therefore the duty of the Christians to accept it as firmly as they had adhered to the religion of Christ.
"You should also cautiously emphasize the truth that due to the historical order of its appearance, and also because of the obviously more advanced character of its teachings, Islam constitutes a fuller revelation of God's purpose for mankind. The so-called Christian civilization of which the Renaissance is one of the most striking manifestations is essentially Muslim in its origins and foundations. When medieval Europe was plunged in darkest barbarism, the Arabs regenerated and transformed by the spirit released by the religion of Muhammad were busily engaged in establishing a civilization the kind of which their contemporary Christians in Europe had never witnessed before. It was eventually through Arabs that civilization was introduced to the West. It was through them that the philosophy, science and culture which the old Greeks had developed found their way to Europe. The Arabs were the ablest translators, and linguists of their age, and it is thanks to them that the writings of such well-known thinkers as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle were made available to the Westerners. It is wholly unfair to attribute the efflorescence of European culture during the Renaissance period to the influence of Christianity. It was mainly the product of the forces released by the Muhammadan Dispensation.
"From the standpoint of institutionalism Islam far surpasses true Christianity as we know it in the Gospels. There are infinitely more laws and institutions in the Qur'án than in the Gospel. While the latter's emphasis is mainly, not to say wholly, on individual and personal conduct, the Qur'án stresses the importance of society. This social emphasis acquires added importance and significance in the Bahá'í Revelation. When carefully and impartially compared, the Qur'án marks a definite advancement on the Gospel, from the standpoint of spiritual and humanitarian progress.
"The truth is that Western historians have for many centuries distorted the facts to suit their religious and ancestral prejudices. The Bahá'í should try to study history anew, and to base all their investigations first and foremost on the written Scriptures of Islam and Christianity."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi dated April 27, 1936; Lights of Guidance, 5th edition, p. 496, #1664)

"The friends should uphold Islam as a revealed Religion in teaching the Cause but need not make, at present, any particular attempt to teach it solely and directly to non-Bahá'ís at this time.
"The mission of the American Bahá'í is, no doubt to eventually establish the truth of Islam in the West.
  "The spirit of Islam, no doubt, was the living germ of modern Civilization; which derived its impetus from the Islamic culture in the Middle ages, a culture that was the fruit of the Faith of Muhammad."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi dated July 30, 1941; Lights of Guidance, 5th edition, p. 497, #1665)


IN THE DISPENSATION OF THE QUR'ÁN BOTH THE BOOK AND THE CAUSE OF JESUS WERE CONFIRMED

Moreover, to Moses gave we "the Book," and we raised up apostles after him; and to Jesus, son of Mary, gave we clear proofs of his mission, and strengthened him by the Holy Spirit.
(Qur'án 2:81)

And in the footsteps of the prophets caused we Jesus, the son of Mary, to follow, confirming the law which was before him: and we gave him the Evangel with its guidance and light, confirmatory of the preceding Law; a guidance and warning to those who fear God; And that the people of the Evangel may judge according to what God hath sent down therein.  And whoso will not judge by what God hath sent down -- such are the perverse.
(Qur'án 5:50 51)


AND SHOULD IT, BEARING THE SEQUENCE OF TIME IN MIND, CLAIM TO BE OTHER THAN THAT SUN, IT STILL WOULD SPEAK THE TRUTH

Verily, the sun is but a token from My presence so that the true believers among My servants may discern in its rising the dawning of every Dispensation.
(Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 159)


He is none other but the Apostle of God Himself, inasmuch as the Revelation of God may be likened to the sun. No matter how innumerable its risings, there is but one sun, and upon it depends the life of all things. It is clear and evident that the object of all preceding Dispensations hath been to pave the way for the advent of Muhammad, the Apostle of God.  These, including the Muhammadan Dispensation, have had, in their turn, as their objective the Revelation proclaimed by the Qa’im. The purpose underlying this Revelation, as well as those that preceded it, has, in like manner, been to announce the advent of the Faith of Him Whom God will make manifest. And this Faith--the Faith of Him Whom God will make manifest--in its turn, together with all the Revelations gone before it, have as their object the Manifestation destined to succeed it. And the latter, no less than all the Revelations preceding it, prepare the way for the Revelation which is yet to follow. The process of the rise and setting of the Sun of Truth will thus indefinitely continue a process that hath had no beginning and will have no end.
(The Bab, The Persian Bayán, Selections from the Writings of the Báb, pp. 105-106)


THE MYSTERIES OF DISTINCTION AND UNITY

On p. 22, Bahá'u'lláh refers to the "distinction" and the "unity" characterizing the Manifestations of God.  Later in the Íqán, Bahá'u'lláh elaborates the unity of the Manifestations (pp. 152-153, paragraphs 161-162) and Their distinction (pp. 176-178, paragraphs 191-194).

DISTINCTION   ã¾â

Also translated by the Guardian as distinguish, variation, difference.

UNITY Øî²
Elsewhere translated by Shoghi Effendi as convene, harmonize, unify, fuse and unify, gather, amass, collect.  The Master uses the word in such phrases as “burn brightly even as a candle in the heart of every assembly,” “the gathering of the people of Bahá,” and “cast him out from the congregation of the people of Bahá.”



THAT EVERLASTING BEAUTY AT SUNDRY TIMES, CALLED HIMSELF BY DIFFERENT NAMES AND TITLES

The sun is one, but the dawning points of the sun are numerous and changing.  The ocean is one body of water, but different parts of it have particular designations -- Atlantic, Pacific, Mediterranean, Antarctic, etc.  If we consider the names, there is differentiation; but the water, the ocean itself, is one reality. Likewise, the divine religions of the holy Manifestations of God are in reality one, though in name and nomenclature they differ.
(`Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 151)

Bahá'u'lláh spread the Cause of Christ and opened the book of the Christians and Jews.  He removed the barriers of names.  He proved that all the divine Prophets taught the same reality and that to deny One is to deny the Others, for all are in perfect oneness with God.
(`Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 212)

Jesus promised that He would come with a new name.  In red-letter Bibles -- indicating the words of Jesus Christ in red typeface -- these words are in red:

He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more.  And I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God.  And I will write on him My new name.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
(Revelation 3:12-13)

The fulfillment of this promise, a great divine hint, appears near the end of the same book.  St. John the Divine writes:

And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God.
(Revelation 21:10-11)

Teaching suggestion:  Memorize these verses from the Revelation of St. John -- they are rarely cited by Christians.  You can use them in a kind way when a Christian quotes from St. Peter, "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."  (Book of Acts 4:12) -- as Jesus Himself promised "My new name."


Íqán, paragraph 21, page 22

Afterwards, the companions and disciples of Jesus asked Him concerning those signs that must needs signalize the return of His manifestation. When, they asked, shall these things be? Several times they questioned that peerless Beauty, and, every time He made reply, He set forth a special sign that should herald the advent of the promised Dispensation. To this testify the records of the four Gospels.


HE SET FORTH A SPECIAL SIGN THAT SHOULD HERALD THE ADVENT OF THE PROMISED DISPENSATION. TO THIS TESTIFY THE RECORDS OF THE FOUR GOSPELS

Among the signs of the promised Dispensation which Christ gives in the Four Gospels are these:

The sun, moon and stars will be darkened (Matthew 24:29)

When the "fig tree" puts forth its leaves (Matthew 24:32, taken as a symbol of the nationhood of Israel being established, discussed more in the notes to paragraph 22)

False prophets will come (Mark 13:6, 13:22)

There will be wars and rumors of wars (Mark 13:7)

The Gospel must first be preached to all the nations   (Mark 13:10)

When the abomination of desolation appears (Mark 13:14, Daniel 9:23, interpreted by `Abdu'l-Baha in Some Answered Questions, Chapter 10)

Earthquakes, famines, and plagues (Luke 21:11)

When Jerusalem is surrounded by armies (Luke 21:20)

He, the Spirit of Truth, will guide us into all truth (John 16:13)

He will glorify Jesus (John 16:14)



Iqan paragraph 22, pp. 22-23

  This wronged One will cite but one of these instances, thus conferring upon mankind, for the sake of God, such bounties as are yet concealed within the treasury of the hidden and sacred Tree, that haply mortal men may not remain deprived of their share of the immortal fruit, and attain to a dewdrop of the waters of everlasting life which, from Baghdad, the "Abode of Peace," are being vouchsafed unto all mankind. We ask for neither meed nor reward. "We nourish your souls for the sake of God; we seek from you neither recompense nor thanks." This is the food that conferreth everlasting life upon the pure in heart and the illumined in spirit. This is the bread of which it is said: "Lord, send down upon us Thy bread from heaven." This bread shall never be withheld from them that deserve it, nor can it ever be exhausted. It groweth everlastingly from the tree of grace; it descendeth at all seasons from the heavens of justice and mercy. Even as He saith: "Seest thou not to what God likeneth a good word? To a good tree; its root firmly fixed, and its branches reaching unto heaven: yielding its fruit in all seasons."


THIS WRONGED ONE  íôëÕï Äáò (nafs mazlún)

Also translated by Shoghi Effendi as oppressed, a victim of tyranny.  It is a title used often by both Bahá'u'lláh and `Abdu'l-Bahá.  Mr. Taherzadeh comments on this title, which Bahá'u'lláh uses in the Fire Tablet:

In the Fire Tablet we observe two different features of Bahá'u'lláh. The first is the station of sovereignty and lordship, a station exalted above the world of man. In this station He is not affected by the tumult and conflicts of this life, because He is animated by the Most Great Spirit which makes Him independent of all things except God. The other station is that of meekness and submission to God. This is a station in which Bahá'u'lláh is referred to in many of His Tablets as the "Wronged One of the World." In this station He submits Himself to His enemies, welcomes sufferings and accepts bondage and imprisonment so that mankind in this Dispensation may become freed from the fetters of tyranny and oppression and attain the light of unity.
(Adib Taherzadeh, "The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh," Volume 3, p. 231)


SUCH BOUNTIES AS ARE YET CONCEALED

Here, Bahá'u'lláh again refers to the revelation of bounties previously hidden by God, such as the unsealing of the meanings of the terms He now explains.  As God told the Prophet Daniel, these were hidden for millennia until unsealed in this Day, in this Book.


HIDDEN AND SACRED TREE
In his notes, Mr. Dunbar explains Muslim antecedents that refer to the sacred Tree, and quotes briefly from a previously untranslated Tablet by Baha'u'llah on this subject.

Cross-reference:  In paragraph 217, page 198, Baha'u'llah again refers to this Tree, in every "leaf" of which "ineffable delights are treasured."

In this paragraph, Baha'u'llah states that both "fruit" and "bread" grow from this "hidden" Tree.  Later in the Íqán (Paragraph 217, pp. 197-198) during His description of the quest of the True Seeker, Bahá'u'lláh states that on attainment of the City of Certitude, the seeker "will perceive all the hidden teachings from the rustling leaves of the Tree -- which flourisheth in that City," and states that in every leaf, "ineffable delights are treasured."

  Likewise, Jesus promised:

To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat.  And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.
(Revelation 2:17)

We are now eating that long-hidden manna and receiving these delights from the leaf-like pages of the Íqán, and we Bahá'ís are the bearers of that new name.  As regards that "new name," a few verses before this one just quoted, Jesus speaks of One who holds "seven stars" in His hand (Revelation 1:16).  `Abdu'l-Bahá states in a Tablet that the seven stars refer to the seven letters of the alphabet that constitute the name Bahá'u'lláh as well as the name Husayn-`Ali. ("Ethel Jenner Rosenberg," by Robert Weinberg, p. 70)

THEIR SHARE

Bahá'u'lláh says in the Tablet to Jamal that it is our obligation to obtain the full share of God's grace which He has destined for each of us:

The whole duty of man in this Day is to attain to that share of the flood of grace which God poureth forth for him.  (Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, Section V, p. 8)

As much as we can take of these gifts, we are fully satisfied, yet there is always much more.  Bahá'u'lláh describes Himself as "He from Whose lips have gone out counsels that can satisfy the needs of the whole of mankind."  (Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 286)  In one of the prayers by the Báb, we read:

Bestow upon me my portion, O Lord, as Thou pleasest, and cause me to be satisfied with whatsoever Thou hast ordained for me.
(Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 193)

There are many instances of this in the scriptures.  God sent "manna" from heaven for the people of Israel:

And when the layer of dew lifted, there, on the surface of the wilderness, was a small round substance, as fine as frost on the ground.  So when the children of Israel saw it, they said to one another, "What is it?"  For they did not know what it was; and Moses said to them, "This is the bread which the LORD has given you to eat.   This is the thing which the LORD has commanded:  'Let every man gather it according to each one's need, one omer [two quarts] for each person, according to the number of persons; let every man take for those who are in his tent." And the children of Israel did so and gathered, some more, some less.  So when they measured it by omers, he who gathered much had nothing over, and he who gathered little had no lack.  Every man had gathered according to each one's need.
(Exodus 16:14-18)

Similarly, Jesus fed five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish.  Everyone was satisfied (Mark 6:42), and there were twelve baskets of fragments left over after they had finished eating.  Likewise, in this paragraph of the Íqán, Bahá'u'lláh has written,

This bread shall never be withheld from them that deserve it, nor can it ever be exhausted.

It is also helpful in explaining the symbolic nature of this bread, that Jesus had told His disciples:

"Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees." . . . Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
(Matthew 16:6-12)

There is an interesting story of a similar incident during the days of Muhammad, in Mr. Balyuzi's book, "Muhammad and the Course of Islam," p. 95:

There is a story told by Jabir of those days of trench-digging that echoes the story of Jesus and the loaves. Many traditions are traced back to Jabir of the Ansar, whose father, 'Abdu'llah Ibn 'Amr, died at Uhud. One day, he related, he saw such clear signs of hunger on Muhammad's face that he hurried home, killed a goat which he had, and told his wife to cook it and to bake some bread; he was going to ask the Prophet to have His evening meal with them. At the close of the day, when the work was over and the men were dispersing, Jabir approached the Prophet to invite Him to his home, together with a few others. But Muhammad called out to the thousand men who had been engaged in digging and told them that Jabir had prepared a feast for them. All went, they were all fed, and still some food remained, which the Prophet said should be taken to the people who had not been there.

This incident is referred to in Bukhari’s book of Hadith:

Narrated Jabir bin Abdullah:
I said, "O Allah's Apostle! We have slaughtered
a young sheep of ours and have ground one Sa
of barley. So, I invite you along with some
persons." So, the Prophet said in a loud voice,
"O the people of the Trench! Jabir had prepared
"Sur" so come along."
Volume 4, Book 52, Number 305
(From the Ocean database)

In the Revelation of St. John it says that those standing before the Throne of God, "shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore."  (Revelation 7:16)  I understand this to be a promise of another Divine Revelation to satisfy the needs of humanity.


THE IMMORTAL FRUIT

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.  You will know them by their fruits.  Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?  Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.  A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
(Jesus Christ, Gospel of Matthew, 7:15-20)

"The Tree of Life is full of blossoms, leaves and fruits!--shade thereof is a peace to the soul and a rest to the consciousness. Whosoever is under this Tree will certainly partake of fruit. But shade trees are many in the forest, which, though fresh and verdant, are, nevertheless, fruitless. This truth shall finally become clear and manifest unto thee."
(Tablets of `Abdu'l-Bahá Abbas, Volume I, p. 126)


BAGHDAD THE ABODE OF PEACE
Mr. Dunbar quotes an illuminating passage from Shoghi Effendi about Baghdad (God Passes By, p. 109), and in addition mentions the origins of the name of Baghdad, "The Abode of Peace," in Arabic histories.  This has been the designation by which Baghdad has been known for 1300 years.  Shoghi Effendi points out two verses of the Qur'án, also referred to by Bahá'u'lláh in the Íqán, which refer to the Abode of Peace, and Bahá'u'lláh quotes these as promises of His Revelation occurring in that city (Íqán, paragraph 188, pp. 174-175).

The revelation of the Íqán was about one year prior to Bahá'u'lláh's public declaration.  At this time, He was known only as the recognized Head of the Bábí community, and the Íqán was written to prove the Mission of the Báb.  In light of the fact that Bahá'u'lláh was still concealed, it is interesting to note the way in which He states that the "waters of everlasting life" are streaming from Baghdad.  The first streaks of the dawn of His Day can be discerned, as He makes such references to Himself and the fact that He is revealing the Word of God.

“WE NOURISH YOUR SOULS FOR THE SAKE OF GOD”

Bahá'u'lláh’s quotation from the Qur'án would be instantly recognizable to a Muslim audience, as a verse describing the conduct of the followers of God who will drink from a cup tempered at the camphor fountain, feeding for the love of God the indigent, the orphan, and the captive, with those words.  That is, it is a promise of the conduct of the believers in Paradise.

BREAD FROM HEAVEN
Mr. Dunbar quotes Bahá'u'lláh from a Tablet in Gleanings p. 195, and from a Tablet of the Master found in "Tablets of `Abdu'l-Bahá Abbas," Volume III, p. 677.

"Bread from heaven" is a frequent symbol in the Holy Scriptures.  "Manna" came like dew from heaven to the Israelites in the wilderness (Exodus, chapter 16), and Christ spoke of Himself as the "living bread which came down from heaven."  (John 6:51)

`Abdu'l-Bahá explained:

This bread signifies the heavenly food and divine perfections.  So, "If any man eateth of this bread" means if any man acquires heavenly bounty, receives the divine light, or partakes of Christ's perfections, he thereby gains everlasting life.  The blood also signifies the spirit of life and the divine perfections, the lordly splendor and eternal bounty.  For all the members of the body gain vital substance from the circulation of the blood.  In the Gospel of St. John, chapter 6, verse 26, it is written: "Ye seek Me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled."  It is evident that the bread of which the disciples ate and were filled was the heavenly bounty; for in verse 33 of the same chapter it is said: "For the bread of God is He which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world." . . . Reflect how clear it is that what Christ meant by the heavenly bread was His spirit, His bounties, His perfections and His teachings; for it is said in the 63rd verse: "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing."  Therefore, it is evident that the spirit of Christ is a heavenly grace which descends from heaven; whosoever receives light from that spirit in abundance -- that is to say, the heavenly teachings -- finds everlasting life.
(Some Answered Questions, chapter 21, pp. 97-98)

THEM THAT DESERVE IT  Èëø£

This term appears twice more in the Íqán, translated by Shoghi Effendi as “those who are initiated into the divine mysteries,” (paragraph 212, p. 191), and as “them who are the recognized Expounders thereof.” (Íqán paragraph 284, p. 256)


IT DESCENDETH AT ALL SEASONS FROM THE HEAVENS OF JUSTICE AND MERCY

This "bread" and this "fruit" come forth from the Tree, not just during one season of the year, but as Bahá'u'lláh says, "at all seasons," and in the verse He quotes from the Qur'án, "yielding its fruit in all seasons."  In like manner, in the Revelation of St. John he describes, "The Tree of Life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month."  This is a prophecy of this Revelation, of Bahá'u'lláh, the "Tree of Life," and of His inexhaustible bounties, of which we are partaking.


Iqan paragraph 23, pp. 23-24

O the pity! that man should deprive himself of this goodly gift, this imperishable bounty, this everlasting life. It behooveth him to prize this food that cometh from heaven, that perchance, through the wondrous favours of the Sun of Truth, the dead may be brought to life, and the withered souls be quickened by the infinite Spirit. Make haste, O my brother, that while there is yet time our lips may taste of the immortal draught, for the breeze of life, now blowing from the city of the Well Beloved, cannot last, and the streaming river of holy utterance must needs be stilled, and the portals of the Ridvan cannot for ever remain open. The day will surely come when the Nightingale of Paradise will have winged its flight away from its earthly abode unto its heavenly nest. Then will its melody be heard no more, and the beauty of the rose cease to shine. Seize the time, therefore, ere the glory of the divine springtime hath spent itself, and the Bird of Eternity ceased to warble its melody, that thy inner hearing may not be deprived of hearkening unto its call. This is My counsel unto thee and unto the beloved of God. Whosoever wisheth, let him turn thereunto: whosoever wisheth, let him turn away. God, verily, is independent of him and of that which he may see and witness.

This paragraph of the Iqan bears similarity to one of the most poetic and mysterious in the Iqan:

Great God! When the stream of utterance reached this stage, We beheld, and lo! the sweet savours of God were being wafted from the dayspring of Revelation, and the morning breeze was blowing out of the Sheba of the Eternal. Its tidings rejoiced anew the heart, and imparted immeasurable gladness to the soul. . .
(Iqan, paragraph 64, p. 59)


O THE PITY!     «Æ£ àý¶

Elsewhere translated by the Guardian as “how sad” and “how regrettable”.


O THE PITY! THAT MAN SHOULD DEPRIVE HIMSELF OF THIS GOODLY GIFT, THIS IMPERISHABLE BOUNTY, THIS EVERLASTING LIFE.

Please compare this paragraph from one of the Bab's Works, an admonition addressed to His followers, which contains many of the same themes as this paragraph from the Iqan:

O YE who are invested with the Bayán! Ye shall be put to proof, even as those unto whom the Qur'án was given. Have pity on yourselves, for ye shall witness the Day when God will have revealed Him Who is the Manifestation of His Own Self, invested with clear and irrefutable proofs, while ye will cling tenaciously to the words the Witnesses of the Bayán have uttered. On that Day ye will continue to rove distraught, even as camels, seeking a drop of the water of life. God will cause oceans of living water to stream forth from the presence of Him Whom God shall make manifest, while ye will refuse to quench your thirst therefrom, notwithstanding that ye regard yourselves as the God fearing witnesses of your Faith. Nay, and yet again, nay! Ye will go astray far beyond the peoples unto whom the Gospel, or the Qur'án or any other Scripture was given. Take good heed to yourselves, inasmuch as the Cause of God will come upon you at a time when you will all be entreating and tearfully imploring God for the advent of the Day of His Manifestation; yet when He cometh ye will tarry and will fail to be of those who are well assured in His Faith. Beware lest ye grieve Him Who is the Supreme Manifestation of your Lord; verily, He can well afford to dispense with your allegiance unto Him.
(The Báb, the Kitáb-i-Asma', (Book of Names), Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 141)

Jesus refers to "the gift of God" in John 4:7.


THAT PERCHANCE . . . WITHERED SOULS BE QUICKENED BY THE INFINITE SPIRIT

I had turned back from Thee, Thou didst graciously aid me to turn towards Thee. I was as one dead, Thou didst quicken me with the water of life. I was withered, Thou didst revive me with the heavenly stream of Thine utterance which hath flowed forth from the Pen of the All Merciful.
(Prayers and Meditations by Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 264-265)


THE STREAMING RIVER OF HOLY UTTERANCE MUST NEEDS BE STILLED

No sooner did the hosts of true knowledge appear, bearing the standards of Divine utterance, than the tribes of the religions were put to flight, save only those who willed to drink from the stream of everlasting life in a Paradise created by the breath of the All Glorious.
(The Most Holy Book, paragraph 73, p. 46)

Later in the Íqán, Bahá'u'lláh uses similar imagery to refer to people who turn to their clergy instead of to the new Manifestation:

They continually appeal to them for aid in unraveling the intricacies of their Faith, and, owing to lack of knowledge, they make such replies as can in no wise damage their fame and fortune. It is evident that these souls, vile and miserable as the beetle itself, have had no portion of the musk laden breeze of eternity, and have never entered the Ridvan of heavenly delight. How, therefore, can they impart unto others the imperishable fragrance of holiness?
(Íqán, paragraph 130, pp. 122-123)


THE PORTALS OF THE RIDVAN CANNOT FOR EVER REMAIN OPEN

O ye loved ones of the Lord!  Praise be to Him, the unseen, welling bounties of the Sun of Truth encompass you on every side, and from every direction the portals of His mercy stand ajar.  Now is the time to take advantage of these bestowals, and benefit therefrom.  Know ye the value of this time, let not this chance escape you.
(Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 12)


THE DAY WILL SURELY COME WHEN THE NIGHTINGALE OF PARADISE WILL HAVE WINGED ITS FLIGHT AWAY FROM ITS EARTHLY ABODE UNTO ITS HEAVENLY NEST

Please compare this most important passage from the Aqdas, in which Bahá'u'lláh appoints `Abdu'l-Bahá as the Interpreter of His Word:

O people of the world!  When the Mystic Dove will have winged its flight from its Sanctuary of Praise and sought its far off goal, its hidden habitation, refer ye whatsoever ye understand not in the Book to Him Who  hath branched from this mighty Stock.
(The Most Holy Book, paragraph 174, p. 82)

In his notes on this paragraph, Mr. Dunbar draws the reader's attention to other verses from Bahá'u'lláh referring to Himself as the Nightingale which will at some point cease its song, such as Persian Hidden Words #15; and elucidating "Paradise."  ("A Companion to the Study of the Kitab-i-Iqan," pp. 94-95)


WHOSOEVER WISHETH, LET HIM TURN THEREUNTO; WHOSOEVER WISHETH, LET HIM TURN AWAY.  GOD, VERILY, IS INDEPENDENT OF HIM AND OF THAT WHICH HE MAY SEE AND WITNESS.

Mr. Dunbar draws a comparison between this verse and a verse in the Tablet of Ahmad, both of which bear on the free will of man.

Baha'u'llah gives man free will to obey or not:

  O people of the world!  Follow not the promptings of the self, for it summoneth insistently to wickedness and lust; follow, rather, Him Who is the Possessor of all created things, Who biddeth you to show forth piety, and manifest the fear of God.  He, verily, is independent of all His creatures.  Take heed not to stir up mischief in the land after it hath been set in order. Whoso acteth in this way is not of Us, and We are quit of him.  Such is the command which hath, through the power of truth, been made manifest from the heaven of Revelation.
(The Most Holy Book, paragraph 64, pp. 41-42)


Jinab-i-Amin -- upon him be My glory -- must also refrain from mentioning this matter [Huququ'llah], for it is entirely dependent upon the willingness of the individuals themselves. They are well acquainted with the commandment of God and are familiar with that which was revealed in the Book. Let him who wisheth observe it, and let him who wisheth ignore it. Verily, thy Lord is the Self-Sufficing, the All-Praised. Indeed, independence of all things is a door of guidance unto His faithful servants. Well is it with them that have severed themselves from the world and have arisen to serve His Cause. Verily, they are numbered with the people of Baha at the court of His resplendent Beauty.
(Bahá'u'lláh, Compilation on the Right of God, Compilation of Compilations, Volume I, p. 491)


Iqan, paragraph 24, pp. 24-26

As Shoghi Effendi's footnote in the Text points out, Baha'u'llah first quotes from the Gospel in Arabic, then paraphrases it in Persian, and that is why the verses are repeated twice:

These are the melodies, sung by Jesus, Son of Mary, in accents of majestic power in the Ridvan of the Gospel, revealing those signs that must needs herald the advent of the Manifestation after Him. In the first Gospel according to Matthew it is recorded: And when they asked Jesus concerning the signs of His coming, He said unto them: "Immediately after the oppression of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the earth shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet." Rendered into the Persian tongue, the purport of these words is as follows: When the oppression and afflictions that are to befall mankind will have come to pass, then shall the sun be withheld from shining, the moon from giving light, the stars of heaven shall fall upon the earth, and the pillars of the earth shall quake. At that time, the signs of the Son of man shall appear in heaven, that is, the promised Beauty and Substance of life shall, when these signs have appeared, step forth out of the realm of the invisible into the visible world. And He saith: at that time, all the peoples and kindred that dwell on earth shall bewail and lament, and they shall see that divine Beauty coming from heaven, riding upon the clouds with power, grandeur, and magnificence, sending His angels with a great sound of a trumpet. Similarly, in the three other Gospels, according to Luke, Mark, and John, the same statements are recorded. As We have referred at length to these in Our Tablets revealed in the Arabic tongue, We have made no mention of them in these pages, and have confined Ourselves to but one reference.


MARY
In his notes, Mr. Dunbar points out that Baha'u'llah's expression of the Station of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of Christ, is one of the major themes of the Íqán, and Mr. Dunbar quotes from passages of Shoghi Effendi lauding her.


THOSE SIGNS THAT MUST NEEDS HERALD THE ADVENT OF THE MANIFESTATION AFTER HIM

Bahá'u'lláh confirms in the next paragraph--25--that the prophecy of Jesus He quotes in this present paragraph were fulfilled by the Prophet Muhammad.  They are repeated in Surahs 77, 81 and 82 of the Qur'án, as signs of One to come after Muhammad, in the Day of God, and these were fulfilled by the Báb and by Bahá'u'lláh.  The Master explains that the promise of the Return of Christ in the Book of Daniel was fulfilled by the Báb; and in the Tablet to the Christians Bahá'u'lláh explains that He is the Return of Christ.  These are the prophetic signs of the appearance of every divine Messenger.

In Mr. Dunbar's book, he quotes from a letter on behalf of Shoghi Effendi which explains that these prophecies are fulfilled, not immediately at the appearance of the Manifestation on earth, but by the full recognition of Him by the people.
(See Lights of Guidance, 5th edition, #1651, p. 493, "Regarding the Signs that Would Herald the Advent of the New Manifestation.")


THE PILLARS OF THE EARTH SHALL QUAKE

There are many places in the Holy Books--Jewish, Christian and Muslim--where mighty earthquakes are promised.  Please observe the consistency among the Holy Books.  However, in none of them is the significance of "earthquakes" explained, until this Day:

And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain.  Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire.  Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly.  And when the blast of the trumpet sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by voice.
(Exodus 19:17-19)

I beheld the earth, and indeed it was without form, and void; and the heavens, they had no light.  I beheld the mountains, and indeed they trembled, and all the hills moved back and forth.
(Jeremiah 4:24)

Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy mountain!  Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; for the day of the LORD is coming, for it is at hand
. . . A people come, great and strong, the like of whom has never been; nor will there ever be any such after them . . . The earth quakes before them, the heavens tremble; the sun and moon grow dark, and the stars diminish their brightness.
(Joel 2:2-10)

For thus says the LORD of Hosts:  "Once more (in a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land, and I will shake all nations and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory," says the LORD of Hosts.
(Haggai 2:6-7.  Baha'u'llah confirms that He is the "Desire of All Nations" in paragraph 82 of the Aqdas, in which He calls on the kings to serve Him)

And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split. . .
(Matthew 27:51)

And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it.
(Matthew 28:2)

Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple.  And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake and great hail.
(Revelation 11:19)

When the Earth with her quaking shall quake
And the earth shall cast forth her burdens,
And man shall say, 'What aileth her?'
on that day shall she tell out her tidings...
(Qur'án, Surah of the Earthquake)

`Abdu'l-Bahá gives two interpretations of "earthquakes."  Inasmuch as elsewhere in the Íqán (see paragraph 48) Bahá'u'lláh interprets the "earth" as the human heart, perhaps neither of these interpretations is surprising:

" . . . the earthquake of doubts . . ."
(Some Answered Questions, chapter 11, p. 61, interpreting Revelation 11:19 quoted above)

"The earthquake is the wave of spiritual life that moves through all living things and makes creation quiver."
(`Abdu'l-Bahá, quoted in Balyuzi, "`Abdu'l-Bahá" p. 499)


TABLETS REVEALED IN THE ARABIC TONGUE
A reference to Bahá'u'lláh Tablet, Javahiru'l-Asrar.  Please see the notes for paragraph 18.

WE HAVE MADE NO MENTION OF THEM IN THESE PAGES, AND HAVE CONFINED OURSELVES TO BUT ONE REFERENCE

Most of the passages quoted from the past Scriptures and interpreted in the Íqán are from the Qur'án and Hadith (see the Glossary to the Íqán, p. 269, for the meaning of "Hadith" ["Traditions"]).  Although the Íqán mostly cites Muslim sources, Bahá'u'lláh is unsealing all of the Holy Books, and states that He does not provide many quotations from the various Scriptures and Traditions referring to His Day in order to be brief:

The traditions and sayings that bear direct reference to Our theme are divers and manifold; We have refrained from quoting them for the sake of brevity.
(Íqán, paragraph 107, p. 100)

. . . as the purpose of this servant is to be brief, He will refrain from quoting the text of these traditions.
(Íqán, paragraph 30, p. 32)

. . . all the Scriptures and the mysteries thereof are condensed into this brief account.  So much so, that were a person to ponder it a while in his heart, he would discover from all that hath been said the mysteries of the Words of God, and would apprehend the meaning of whatever hath been manifested by that ideal King.
(Íqán paragraph 266, p. 237)

Shoghi Effendi hopes that you will exert all your efforts first in deepening your own knowledge of the teachings and then strive to attract other people.  You should form study classes and read the important books that have been published, especially the Íqán which contains the basic tenets of the Faith.  The one who ponders over that book and grasps its full significance will obtain a clear insight into the old scriptures and appreciate the true mission of the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh."
(The Guardian's secretary on his behalf, in a letter to the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of St. Louis, Missouri, "Compilation on Deepening")


Iqan, paragraph 25, pp. 26-27

  Inasmuch as the Christian divines have failed to apprehend the meaning of these words, and did not recognize their object and purpose, and have clung to the literal interpretation of the words of Jesus, they therefore became deprived of the streaming grace of the Muhammadan Revelation and its showering bounties. The ignorant among the Christian community, following the example of the leaders of their faith, were likewise prevented from beholding the beauty of the King of glory, inasmuch as those signs which were to accompany the dawn of the sun of the Muhammadan Dispensation did not actually come to pass. Thus, ages have passed and centuries rolled away, and that most pure Spirit hath repaired unto the retreats of its ancient sovereignty. Once more hath the eternal Spirit breathed into the mystic trumpet, and caused used the dead to speed out of their sepulchres of heedlessness and error unto the realm of guidance and grace. And yet, that expectant community still crieth out: When shall these things be? When shall the promised One, the object of our expectation, be made manifest, that we may arise for the triumph of His Cause, that we may sacrifice our substance for His sake, that we may offer up our lives in His path? In like manner, have such false imaginings caused other communities to stray from the Kawthar of the infinite mercy of Providence, and to be busied with their own idle thoughts.


INASMUCH AS THE CHRISTIAN DIVINES HAVE FAILED TO APPREHEND THE MEANING OF THESE WORDS, AND DID NOT RECOGNIZE THEIR OBJECT AND PURPOSE, AND HAVE CLUNG TO THE LITERAL INTERPRETATION OF THE WORDS OF JESUS, THEY THEREFORE BECAME DEPRIVED OF THE STREAMING GRACE OF THE MUHAMMADAN REVELATION

Consider this passage from the Báb, in the Kitab-i-Asma':

. . . consider the people unto whom the Gospel was given. Having no access to the apostles of Jesus, they sought the pleasure of the Lord in their churches, hoping to learn that which would be acceptable unto God, but they found therein no path unto Him. Then when God manifested Muhammad as His Messenger and as the Repository of His good-pleasure, they neglected to quicken their souls from the Fountain of living waters which streamed forth from the presence of their Lord and continued to rove distraught upon the earth seeking a mere droplet of water and believing that they were doing righteous deeds. They behaved as the people unto whom the Qur'án was given are now behaving .O ye who are invested with the Bayán! Ye can act similarly. Take ye heed, therefore, lest ye deprive yourselves of attaining the presence of Him Who is the Manifestation of God, notwithstanding that ye have been day and night praying to behold His countenance; and be ye careful lest ye be deterred from attaining unto the ocean of His good-pleasure, when perplexed and to no avail ye roam the earth in search of a drop of water.
(Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 137)

And this passage from the "Seven Proofs," Dala'il-i-Sabi'ih, described by the Guardian as "the most important of the polemical works of the Báb":

It is recorded in a tradition that of the entire concourse of the Christians no more than seventy people embraced the Faith of the Apostle of God. The blame falleth upon their doctors, for if these had believed, they would have been followed by the mass of their countrymen. Behold, then, that which hath come to pass! The learned men of Christendom are held to be learned by virtue of their safeguarding the teaching of Christ, and yet consider how they themselves have been the cause of men's failure to accept the Faith and attain unto salvation! Is it Still thy wish to follow in their footsteps? The followers of Jesus submitted to their clerics to be saved on the Day of Resurrection, and as a result of this obedience they eventually entered into the fire, and on the Day when the Apostle of God appeared they shut themselves out from the recognition of His exalted Person. Dost thou desire to follow such divines?
Nay, by God, be thou neither a divine without discernment nor a follower without discernment, for both of these shall perish on the Day of Resurrection. Rather it behooveth thee to be a discerning divine, or to walk with insight in the way of God by obeying a true leader of religion.
In every nation thou beholdest unnumbered spiritual leaders who are bereft of true discernment, and among every people thou dost encounter myriads of adherents who are devoid of the same characteristic. Ponder for a while in thy heart, have pity on thyself and turn not aside thine attention from proofs and evidences. However, seek not proofs and evidences after thine idle fancy; but rather base thy proofs upon what God hath appointed. Moreover, know thou that neither being a man of learning nor being a follower is in itself a source of glory. If thou art a man of learning, thy knowledge becometh an honour, and if thou art a follower, thine adherence unto leadership becometh an honour, only when these conform to the good-pleasure of God. And beware lest thou regard as an idle fancy the good-pleasure of God; it is the same as the good-pleasure of His Messenger.
Consider the followers of Jesus. They were eagerly seeking the good-pleasure of God, yet none of them attained the good-pleasure of His Apostle which is identical with God's good-pleasure, except such as embraced His Faith.
(Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 123-124)


THOSE SIGNS WHICH WERE TO ACCOMPANY THE DAWN OF THE SUN OF THE MUHAMMADAN DISPENSATION DID NOT ACTUALLY COME TO PASS

Please compare paragraph 90 on page 83:

... they ... are still oblivious of the fact that all the signs foretold have come to pass, that the way of God's holy Cause hath been revealed ...


THAT MOST PURE SPIRIT HATH REPAIRED UNTO THE RETREATS OF ITS ANCIENT SOVEREIGNTY. ONCE MORE HATH THE ETERNAL SPIRIT BREATHED INTO THE MYSTIC TRUMPET, AND CAUSED THE DEAD TO SPEED OUT OF THEIR SEPULCHRES OF HEEDLESSNESS AND ERROR

The following incident in the Gospel is unsealed by this verse which has interpreted "tomb" or "sepulchre" to mean "heedlessness and error":

. . . there met [Jesus} a certain man from the city who had demons for a long time.  And he wore no clothes, nor did he live in a house but in the tombs.
(Luke 8:27)

Later, they found this man "sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind" (Luke 8:35) meaning, he had become a believer, as explained in the notes accompanying paragraph 8.

`Abdu'l-Bahá describes those mentioned in the Bible as dead, as signifying "those who are deprived of the spirit of the love of God and have not a share of the sanctified eternal life”
(Some Answered Questions, Chapter 11, p. 59)

Jesus compared the clergy of His Day to tombs:

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness.
(Matthew 23:27)

In Isaiah 65:4 God condemns those "who sit among the graves, and spend the night in the tombs."

Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the and of Israel.  Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves.  I will put My Spirit in your, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. (Ezekiel 37:12-14)

There is an incident of Jesus coming upon the funeral procession of a young man, the only son of a widow, and raising him from the dead (Luke 7:11-17).  There is also a narrative of Jesus raising the daughter of Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue (Luke 8:41-56).  Similar things happened in the Old Testament:

Now it happened one day that [a child] went out to his father, to the reapers.  And he said to his father, 'My head, my head!'  So he said to a servant, 'Carry him to his mother.'  When he had taken him and brought him to his mother, he sat on her knees till noon, and then died.  And she went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, shut the door upon him, and went out.... So she departed, and went to the man of God at Mount Carmel.... Then [Elisha] said to Gehazi, 'Get yourself ready, and take my staff in your hand, and ... lay my staff on the face of the child.  Now Gehazi ... laid the staff on the face of the child; but there was neither voice nor hearing.
Therefore he went back to meet [Elisha] and told him, saying, 'The child has not awakened.'  And when Elisha came into the house, there was the child, lying dead on his bed.  He went in therefore, shut the door behind the two of them, and prayed to the Lord.  And he went up and lay on the child, and put his mouth on his mouth, his eyes on his eyes, and his hands on his hands; and he stretched himself out on the child, and the flesh of the child became warm.  He returned and walked back and forth in the house, and again went up and stretched himself out on him; then the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes.
(II Kings 4:18-35 -- also see I Kings 17:17-22)

As `Abdu'l-Bahá said,

"Wherever in the Holy Books they speak of raising the dead, the meaning is that the dead were blessed by eternal life . . ."
(Some Answered Questions, Chapter 22, pp. 101-102)

Jesus said:

... for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth ...
(Jesus Christ, Gospel of John 5:28)

In the Gospel it states that after the Resurrection:

... the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.
(Matthew 27:52-53)


Bahá'u'lláh more fully elaborates on the meaning of "tomb" in paragraphs 64, 101, and 127-128.


THE MYSTIC TRUMPET

Bahá'u'lláh is interpreting the words of Jesus that He will "send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet."  Later in the Íqán (paragraphs 123, 127) Bahá'u'lláh states that this refers to the Revelation of Muhammad.

In the Revelation of St. John, he hears behind him "a loud voice, as of a trumpet."  (Revelation 1:10)  Bahá'u'lláh compares His Pen to a trumpet (Gleanings, p. 31; Prayers and Meditations, p. 281)


A BIBLE FOR STUDY AND FOR TEACHING

For the benefit of those of you who were not raised in Christian homes, I would like to make a few comments about the choice of a Bible for purposes of study of the Word of God, and for teaching the Bahá'í Faith.  Shoghi Effendi's translations were influenced by the language of the King James translation of the Bible (according to Ruhiyyih Khanum in "The Priceless Pearl," p. 37)  I use the New King James translation, which is basically the King James, with some of the most archaic words and phrases modernized, yet maintaining the dignity, reliability and flavor of the King James.  Different groups of Christians rely on different versions of the Bible, and the differences are not only of translation.  Catholics believe that certain books of the bible are valid, and Protestants view these Books which appear in Catholic Bibles as apocryphal.  The King James translation is a Protestant Bible.  Jehovah's Witnesses and Adventists rely on their own translations.  I believe the New King James translation to be the one most readily acceptable to many Christians of different denominations.  I also favor the red-letter edition, which differentiates the words of Jesus Christ in red.  People interested in Biblical scholarship will gravitate towards other translations.  People unfamiliar with the order of the Books of the Bible may wish to obtain one that has tabs or cutouts with the book names on them.

In my home I use the "Open Bible" New King James translation, for its comprehensiveness; it has extensive indices, cross-references, translators notes, maps, and explanations of the terminologies of Biblical times.  When I travel I take a smaller New King James red-letter version, with a flap that folds to protect the edges of the pages.  Both of these are published by Thomas Nelson Publishers, one of the largest Bible publishers.  They are versions #452 and 244S (small).  You can purchase them at any Christian bookstore, or from the company direct at www.nelsonbibles.com -- there is a complete on-line catalog.  There are also on-line Bibles available in electronic text at www.ianvink.com .  I also use Strong’s Concordance, as it helps me to understand the Hebrew and Greek roots of the words of the Text.


Íqán paragraph 26, pp. 27-28

  Beside this passage, there is yet another verse in the Gospel wherein He saith: "Heaven and earth shall pass away: but My words shall not pass away." Thus it is that the adherents of Jesus maintained that the law of the Gospel shall never be annulled, and that whensoever the promised Beauty is made manifest and all the signs are revealed, He must needs re-affirm and establish the law proclaimed in the Gospel, so that there may remain in the world no faith but His faith. This is their fundamental belief. And their conviction is such that were a person to be made manifest with all the promised signs and to promulgate that which is contrary to the letter of the law of the Gospel, they must assuredly renounce him, refuse to submit to his law, declare him an infidel, and laugh him to scorn. This is proved by that which came to pass when the sun of the Muhammadan Revelation was revealed. Had they sought with a humble mind from the Manifestations of God in every Dispensation the true meaning of these words revealed in the sacred books -- words the misapprehension of which hath caused men to be deprived of the recognition of the Sadratu'l-Muntaha, the ultimate Purpose -- they surely would have been guided to the light of the Sun of Truth, and would have discovered the mysteries of divine knowledge and wisdom.


HEAVEN AND EARTH SHALL PASS AWAY: BUT MY WORDS SHALL NOT PASS AWAY

To gain an understanding of these words of Jesus, it may help to compare these passages from the Book of Isaiah:

"Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.  Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; the crooked places shall be made straight, and the rough places smooth; the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken."  The voice said, "Cry out!"  And he said, "What shall I cry?"  "All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field.  The grass withers, the flower fades, because the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely the people are grass, the grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever."
(Isaiah 40:3-8)

Listen to Me, My people; and give ear to Me, O My nation: for law will proceed from Me, and I will make My justice rest as a light of the peoples. My righteousness is near, My salvation has gone forth, and My arms will judge the peoples; the coastlands will wait upon Me, and on My arm they will trust.  Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look on the earth beneath.  For the heavens will vanish away like smoke, the earth will grow old like a garment, and those who dwell in it will die in like manner; but My salvation will be forever, and My righteousness will not be abolished.
(Isaiah 51:4-6)

To support their view that there will never be another revelation of the Word of God, some Christians quote the above verse, that Christ's Word shall never pass away, together with the verse at the close of the Book of Revelation (22:18) warning the people to not add to the words of the Book.  Please compare the following words from Moses, at the end of His ministry:

Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I teach you to observe, that you may live, and go in and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers is giving you.  You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take anything from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.
(Deuteronomy 4:1-2)

And yet, Christ annulled the laws of Moses, and brought a new Revelation; and faithfulness to Him was the highest expression of faithfulness to Moses.

HE MUST NEEDS RE-AFFIRM AND ESTABLISH THE LAW PROCLAIMED IN THE GOSPEL

Please compare this passage from paragraph 236, which also refers to the verse from the Gospel quoted above:

Even as the Christian divines who, holding fast to the verse of the Gospel to which We have already referred, have sought to explain that the law of the Gospel shall at no time be annulled, and that no independent Prophet shall again be made manifest, unless he confirmeth the law of the Gospel.  Most of the people have become afflicted with the same spiritual disease.

Jesus answered this question in this way:


Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets.  I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.  For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.
(Matthew 5:18)

The "Law" refers to the first five Books of the Old Testament, the Books of Moses; the "Prophets" refers to the Books of the Minor Prophets of Israel, and "The Law and the Prophets" was a way of referring to the whole Revelation of Moses.  The "jot" and "tittle" are the smallest diacritical marks or letters in the Hebrew alphabet.

Shoghi Effendi used this same language to speak of the correct Bahá'í  perspective toward the earlier Revelations--that the Bahá'í Faith does not seek to detract "one jot or one tittle from the influence they exert or the loyalty they inspire." (The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 114)


HAD THEY SOUGHT WITH A HUMBLE MIND FROM THE MANIFESTATIONS OF GOD IN EVERY DISPENSATION THE TRUE MEANING OF THESE WORDS REVEALED IN THE SACRED BOOKS

Please compare paragraph 42, page 42:

... had the people of the Gospel ... sought, unlike the froward and perverse, enlightenment from Him Who is the Revealer of divine knowledge, they would have surely comprehended the purpose of these terms ...

Iqan, Paragraph 27, page 28

This servant will now share with thee a dewdrop out of the fathomless ocean of the truths treasured in these holy words, that haply discerning hearts may comprehend all the allusions and the implications of the utterances of the Manifestations of Holiness, so that the overpowering majesty of the Word of God may not prevent them from attaining onto the ocean of His names and attributes, nor deprive them of recognizing the Lamp of God which is the seat of the revelation of His glorified Essence.


THIS SERVANT WILL NOW SHARE WITH THEE A DEWDROP

Please compare this passage from a prayer by Bahá'u'lláh:

Thou art that All-Bountiful Who art not deterred by a multitude of sins from vouchsafing Thy bounty, and the flow of Whose gifts is not arrested by the withdrawal of the peoples of the world. From eternity the door of Thy grace hath remained wide open. A dewdrop out of the ocean of Thy mercy is able to adorn all things with the ornament of sanctity, and a sprinkling of the waters of Thy bounty can cause the entire creation to attain unto true wealth.
(Prayers and Meditations by Bahá'u'lláh, p. 246)

In the days of Moses, as already discussed in the notes accompanying paragraph 22, the "heavenly bread" descended upon the Israelites with the morning dew.  God told Moses to tell His people:

"... in the morning you shall be filled with bread.  And you shall know that I am the Lord your God."  So it was that ... in the morning the dew lay all around the camp.  And when the layer of dew lifted, there, on the surface of the wilderness, was a small round substance, as fine as frost on the ground.... And Moses said to them, "This the bread which the Lord has given you to eat."
(Exodus 16:12-15)

Similarly, when Jacob received a blessing from Isaac, Isaac prayed for "the dew of heaven" to descend on him, and the language of the blessing is similar to the language in the Covenants of Bahá'u'lláh and of `Abdu'l-Bahá.  The reference to the "fragrance of Jacob's clothing" is the same image Bahá'u'lláh often uses (See Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 165, Note 1), of the fragrance of His garment, and the fragrance of the long-lost Joseph:

Then his father Isaac said to him, "Come near now and kiss me, my son."  And he came near and kissed him; and he smelled the smell of his clothing, and blessed him and said:  "Surely, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field which the Lord has blessed.  Therefore may God give you of the dew of heaven, of the fatness of the earth, and plenty of grain and wine.  Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you.  Be master over your brethren, and let your mother's sons bow down to you.  Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be those who bless you."
(Genesis 27:26-29)

The Prophet Zechariah, whose Book contains more than one prophecy of Bahá'u'lláh, foreshadowed this heavenly "dew":

You who have been hearing in these days these words by the mouth of the prophets, who were in the day that the foundation was laid for the house of the Lord of hosts ... For the seed shall be prosperous, the vine shall give its fruit, the ground shall give her increase, and the heavens shall give their dew.
(Zechariah 8:9-12)


THAT HAPLY DISCERNING HEARTS MAY COMPREHEND ALL THE ALLUSIONS AND THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE UTTERANCES OF THE MANIFESTATIONS OF HOLINESS

I have been informed that the purpose of your class meeting is to study the significances and mysteries of the Holy Scriptures and understand the meaning of the divine Testaments. It is a cause of great happiness to me that you are turning unto the Kingdom of God, that you desire to approach the presence of God and to become informed of the realities and precepts of God. It is my hope that you may put forth your most earnest endeavor to accomplish this end, that you may attain knowledge of the mysteries hidden therein. Be not satisfied with words, but seek to understand the spiritual meanings hidden in the heart of the words.
(`Abdu'l-Baha, talk to Saffa Kinney's Bible Class in New York City December 3, 1912, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 458 9)

Divine things are too deep to be expressed by common words. The heavenly teachings are expressed in parable in order to be understood and preserved for ages to come. When the spiritually minded dive deeply into the ocean of their meaning they bring to the surface the pearls of their inner significance. There is no greater pleasure than to study God's Word with a spiritual mind.
(`Abdu'l-Bahá, quoted in the Compilation on Deepening, Compilation of Compilations, Volume I, p. 202, #421)


By the help of this effulgent Light all the spiritual interpretation of the Holy Writings has been made plain, the hidden things of God's Universe have become manifest, and we have been enabled to comprehend the Divine purposes for man.  I pray that God in His mercy may illumine your hearts and souls with His glorious Light, then shall each one of you shine as a radiant star in the dark places of the world.
(`Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, pp. 69 70)


THE OVERPOWERING MAJESTY OF THE WORD OF GOD

The great Vahid was overwhelmed by witnessing the majestic power of the Báb's revelation of the Word of God:

The incredible swiftness of His writing, the soft and gentle murmur of His voice, and the stupendous force of His style, amazed and bewildered me. He continued in this manner until the approach of sunset. He did not pause until the entire commentary of the Súrih [of Kawthar] was completed. He then laid down His pen and asked for tea. Soon after, He began to read it aloud in my presence. My heart leaped madly as I heard Him pour out, in accents of unutterable sweetness, those treasures enshrined in that sublime commentary.  I was so entranced by its beauty that three times over I was on the verge of fainting. He sought to revive my failing strength with a few drops of rosewater which He caused to be sprinkled on my face. This restored my vigour and enabled me to follow His reading to the end.
(The Dawn-Breakers, pp. 175-176)

Bahiyyih Khanum wrote to a believer in Khurasan in 1922:

The power of the Faith prevailed, the awesome majesty of the Word of God flashed out, and day by day reveals in increasing measure its overpowering might.
(Bahiyyih Khanum, The Greatest Holy Leaf, p. 178)

Bahá'u'lláh referred to the power of revealing the divine Words on His own Person:

Such is the inebriating effect of the words of God upon Him Who is the Revealer of His undoubted proofs, that His Pen can move no longer. With these words He concludeth His Tablet:  "No God is there but Me, the Most Exalted, the Most Powerful, the Most Excellent, the All-Knowing."
(The Ridvan Tablet, Gleanings p. 35)

And Mr. Taherzadeh has written:

The onrushing force of the Holy Spirit produced, at the time of revelation, awe-inspiring physical effects on Bahá'u'lláh.  An ordinary human being becomes overwhelmed when he receives news of exceptional import: How much more, then, would the human temple of the Manifestation of God be affected when it becomes the channel through which the Holy Spirit of God flows to mankind.
No one except His amanuensis was allowed to be present at the time of revelation, but occasionally some of the believers were permitted to remain for a short time.  Those who received this privilege witnessed a special glory and radiance which emanated from Him.  So dazzling was His transfiguration that many found themselves unable to gaze on His face.
One such was Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali, a native of Isfahan, who embraced the Faith soon after its inception.  He first attained the presence of Bahá'u'lláh in Adrianople.  From there he was sent by Bahá'u'lláh to Constantinople where he acted as a channel of communication between Him and the believers in Persia and Iraq.  Later, he was sent to Egypt where he was arrested by the enemies of the Faith and dispatched as a prisoner to the Sudan.  The persecutions which he suffered there for many years served only to strengthen his faith and intensify his love for Bahá'u'lláh.  After his release, he went straight to `Akká where he was privileged to remain for some months in the presence of his Lord.  Then, directed by Him, he went to Persia where he served the Cause as an outstanding Bahá'í teacher for many years.  Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali played a major role in the promotion and protection of the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh after His ascension, defending it most ably against the onslaught of the unfaithful band of Covenant-breakers who were determined to undermine the edifice of the Cause of God and to uproot its institutions.  The latter part of his long and eventful life was spent in the service of `Abdu'l-Bahá in the Holy Land.  He died in Haifa and is buried in the Bahá'í Cemetery on Mount Carmel.
It was during one of his visits to `Akká that Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali was allowed to enter the presence of Bahá'u'lláh at the time of revelation.  He has left to posterity the following brief account of that memorable occasion:

"...When permission was granted and the curtain was withdrawn, I entered the room where the King of kings and the Ruler of this world and the next, nay rather the Ruler of all the worlds of God, was with great authority seated on His couch.  The verses of God were being revealed and the words streamed forth as in a copious rain.  Methought the door, the wall, the carpet, the ceiling, the floor and the air were all perfumed and illumined.  They all had been transformed, each and every one, into ears and were filled with a spirit of joy and ecstasy.  Each object had become refreshed and was pulsating with life...  To which worlds I was transported and in what state I was, no one who has not experienced such as this can ever know."

It has been said that one of the effects of the revelation of Tablets on Bahá'u'lláh was that He would remain for some time after in a state of excitement and, as a result, would be unable to eat.
(Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Baha'u'llah, Volume I, pp. 28-29)

I have read a statement in which the Master said that one of the significances of the Bahá'í Fast is the commemoration of those times When Bahá'u'lláh could not take food after receiving divine Revelation.


THE LAMP OF GOD

The image of the Prophet as light-giver appears throughout the Holy Books.  This subject is explained by `Abdu'l-Bahá in chapter 11 of Some Answered Questions, page 49.

An Angel gave the Prophet Zechariah a vision of "two olive trees" near a golden candlestick with seven lamps on it, in which there was "golden oil."  The angel tells Zechariah that the two olive trees are the two "anointed ones" [literal translation:  "The sons of fresh oil"] who "stand beside the Lord of the whole earth."  (Zechariah 4:1-14)

Shoghi Effendi has confirmed that "the Lord of the whole earth" prophesied by Zechariah, is Bahá'u'lláh.  (God Passes By, p. 95)

Iqan, paragraph 28, pp. 29-31

  As to the words -- "Immediately after the oppression of those days" -- they refer to the time when men shall become oppressed and afflicted, the time when the lingering traces of the Sun of Truth and the fruit of the Tree of knowledge and wisdom will have vanished from the midst of men, when the reins of mankind will have fallen into the grasp of the foolish and ignorant, when the portals of divine unity and understanding -- the essential and highest purpose in creation -- will have been closed, when certain knowledge will have given way to idle fancy, and corruption will have usurped the station of righteousness. Such a condition as this is witnessed in this day when the reins of every community have fallen into the grasp of foolish leaders, who lead after their own whims and desire. On their tongue the mention of God hath become an empty name; in their midst His holy Word a dead letter. Such is the sway of their desires, that the lamp of conscience and reason hath been quenched in their hearts, and this although the fingers of divine power have unlocked the portals of the knowledge of God, and the light of divine knowledge and heavenly grace hath illumined and inspired the essence of all created things, in such wise that in each and every thing a door of knowledge hath been opened, and within every atom traces of the sun hath been made manifest. And yet, in spite of all these manifold revelations of divine knowledge, which have encompassed the world, they still vainly imagine the door of knowledge to be closed, and the showers of mercy to be stilled. Clinging unto idle fancy, they have strayed far from the `Urvatu'l-Vuthqa of divine knowledge. Their hearts seem not to be inclined to knowledge and the door thereof, neither think they of its manifestations, inasmuch as in idle fancy they have found the door that leadeth unto earthly riches, whereas in the manifestation of the Revealer of knowledge they find naught but the call to self-sacrifice. They therefore naturally hold fast unto the former, and flee from the latter. Though they recognize in their hearts the Law of God to be one and the same, yet from every direction they issue a new command, and in every season proclaim a fresh decree. No two are found to agree on one and the same law, for they seek no God but their own desire, and tread no path but the path of error. In leadership they have recognized the ultimate object of their endeavour, and account pride and haughtiness as the highest attainments of their heart's desire. They have placed their sordid machinations above the divine decree, have renounced resignation unto the will of God, busied themselves with selfish calculation, and walked in the way of the hypocrite. With all their power and strength they strive to secure themselves in their petty pursuits, fearful lest the least discredit undermine their authority or blemish the display of their magnificence. Were the eye to be anointed and illumined with the collyrium of the knowledge of God, it would surely discover that a number of voracious beasts have gathered and preyed upon the carrion of the souls of men.

THE OPPRESSION OF THOSE DAYS

This "tribulation" is mentioned again in the Revelation of St. John.  This sacred book, as explained in chapters 11 and 12 of Some Answered Questions, foreshadows the appearances of Muhammad, the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh, as well as the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh.

Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, "Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?"  And I said to him, "Sir, you know."  So he said to me,  "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."
(Revelation 7:13-14.  The meaning of the "blood" of the Prophet is explained by `Abdu'l-Bahá in the notes for Paragraph 22, above)


TREE OF KNOWLEDGE AND WISDOM  «îç¶ ó íëÚ œõ½¹Æ

Sadrat alim va hikmat

THE FRUIT OF THE TREE OF KNOWLEDGE AND WISDOM WILL HAVE VANISHED

As each succeeding Faith and Law became revealed it remained for some centuries a richly fruitful tree and to it was committed the happiness of humankind.  However, as the centuries rolled by, it aged, it flourished no more and put forth no fruit, wherefore was it then made young again.
The religion of God is one religion, but it must ever be renewed.  Moses, for example, was sent forth to man and He established a Law, and the Children of Israel, through that Mosaic Law, were delivered out of their ignorance and came into the light; they were lifted up from their abjectness and attained to a glory that fadeth not.  Still, as the long years wore on, that radiance passed by, that splendour set, that bright day turned to night; and once that night grew triply dark, the star of the Messiah dawned, so that again a glory lit the world.
Our meaning is this:  the religion of God is one, and it is the educator of humankind, but still, it needs must be made new.  When thou dost plant a tree, its height increaseth day by day.  It putteth forth blossoms and leaves and luscious fruits.  But after a long time, it doth grow old, yielding no fruitage any more.  Then doth the Husbandman of Truth take up the seed from that same tree, and plant it in a pure soil; and lo, there standeth the first tree, even as it was before.
(Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 51-52)

Bahá'u'lláh speaks of taking one's portion of fruit from the heavenly Tree, in paragraph 220 [page 200].

DIVINE UNITY AND UNDERSTANDING - THE ESSENTIAL AND
HIGHEST PURPOSE IN CREATION  «â¾Ùï ó ¹ý¶ô¬

Tawhíd wa m`arifat.  Ma`arifat is derived from the root `irfan, often translated as divine knowledge, and appears in the first verse of the Íqán (translated by Shoghi Effendi as “true understanding” and the Aqdas (translated by Shoghi Effendi as “recognition”). Selection XXIV of the Gleanings is known as the City of Divine Unity, the Lawh-i-tawhíd.  It is addressed to the “believers in the Unity of God.”  Selection XXVI of the Gleanings is known as the Tablet of Divine Unity.  It contains this verse, among many of peerless beauty: “. . . not a single atom in the entire universe can be found which doth not declare the evidences of His might, which doth not glorify His holy Name, or is not expressive of the effulgent light of His unity. (Gleanings, p. 62)

WHEN CERTAIN KNOWLEDGE WILL HAVE GIVEN WAY TO IDLE FANCY

In this verse, “certain knowledge” is íëÚ `ilm, like the Bahá'í month. Baha'u'llah frequently uses contrasts to convey spiritual truths.  Here, He contrasts divine guidance, "certain knowledge," with error, "idle fancy."  There are a great many such contrasts in Bahá'u'lláh's Writings.  One that appears in His Writings and in the Qur'án is one's feet slipping, in contrast to one's feet being set firm in the pathway of God.

CLINGING UNTO IDLE FANCY, THEY HAVE STRAYED FAR FROM THE `URVATU'L-VUTHQA OF DIVINE KNOWLEDGE

Here Bahá'u'lláh contrasts "idle fancy" with "the `Urvatu'l-Vuthqa of divine knowledge."  "`Urvatu'l-Vuthqa" is translated in the Glossary to the Íqán as "the strongest handle," and indicates the Faith of God.  This term appears in the Qur'án [e.g. 2:257, 31:21] as well as in many places in Bahá'u'lláh's Writings, such as in the Most Holy Book [paragraph 117].  It conveys that which is sure and reliable, in contrast to that which is the product of human imagination.  A similar example in the words of Christ, is that people who believe in Him are like people who have built their houses on stone, and people who do not are like those who build their homes on sand (Matthew 7:24-26; see also St. Paul's Epistle to the Hebrews 6:19). "`Urvatu'l-Vuthqa" comes from two arabic words, `urva and vuthqa. An "`urva" is a handle, tie, bond, or support.  "Vuthqa" means faithful, dependable, trustworthy, firm, certain, safe and secure.   Wehr's Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic translates this term as "the firm, reliable grip or hold, the firm tie."  Mr. Dunbar quotes a passage from `Abdu'l-Bahá stating that this "Sure Handle" foreshadowed in all the Scriptures is Bahá'u'lláh's Covenant.


THE REINS OF EVERY COMMUNITY HAVE FALLEN INTO THE GRASP OF FOOLISH LEADERS

Bahá'u'lláh elaborates on these leaders in paragraph 15 [page 15), paragraph 175 [page 164] and paragraph 233 [page 210].


ON THEIR TONGUE THE MENTION OF GOD HATH BECOME AN EMPTY NAME; IN THEIR MIDST HIS HOLY WORD A DEAD LETTER

St. Paul clearly said that prior to the return of Christ, man would reach such a low state that the love of God would be dethroned in the human heart and replaced by the lower nature:

Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come.  Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.
(St. Paul's Second Letter to the Thessalonians, 2:1-4)


CONSCIENCE AND REASON   º£œôâ ó êäÚ `aql va fu’ád.  Shoghi Effendi elsewhere translates `aql as wisdom, understanding, reason, judgment, the mind, intellect, intelligence, the reasoning power; and he generally translates fu’ád as the heart, but also as the mind (“a new mind,” Íqán paragraph 216, p. 196).

THE LAMP OF CONSCIENCE AND REASON HATH BEEN QUENCHED IN THEIR  HEARTS

Shoghi Effendi elaborates on the effects of the "lingering traces" of the Sun of Truth vanishing from the midst of men:

No wonder, therefore, that when, as a result of human perversity, the light of religion is quenched in men's hearts, and the divinely appointed Robe, designed to adorn the human temple, is deliberately discarded, a deplorable decline in the fortunes of humanity immediately sets in, bringing in its wake all the evils which a wayward soul is capable of revealing.  The perversion of human nature, the degradation of human conduct, the corruption and dissolution of human institutions, reveal themselves, under such circumstances, in their worst and most revolting aspects. Human character is debased, confidence is shaken, the nerves of discipline are relaxed, the voice of human conscience is stilled, the sense of decency and shame is obscured, conceptions of duty, of solidarity, of reciprocity and loyalty are distorted, and the very feeling of peacefulness, of joy and of hope is gradually extinguished.  Such, we might well admit, is the state which individuals and institutions alike are approaching.
(Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 187)


THE FINGERS OF DIVINE POWER HAVE UNLOCKED THE PORTALS OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD

Compare:

I arose to open for my beloved, and my hands dripped with myrrh, my fingers with liquid myrrh, on the handles of the lock.
(Song of Solomon 5:5)

THE LIGHT OF DIVINE KNOWLEDGE AND HEAVENLY GRACE HATH ILLUMINED AND INSPIRED THE ESSENCE OF ALL CREATED THINGS, IN SUCH WISE THAT IN EACH AND EVERY CREATED THING A DOOR OF KNOWLEDGE HATH BEEN OPENED, AND WITHIN EVERY ATOM TRACES OF THE SUN HATH BEEN MADE MANIFEST

Bahá'u'lláh fully elaborates the revelation of God through "all created things," in several sections of the Íqán:

Paragraph Page
107 100 Whatever is in the heavens
149 140 All things are the recipients
216 196 Within every atom
217 197 The dayspring of all things

And often in other of His Writings as well, such as the Tablet of Divine Unity quoted above.

Far be it from us to despair at any time of the incalculable favours of God, for if it were His wish He could cause a mere atom to be transformed into a sun and a single drop into an ocean.  He unlocketh thousands of doors, while man is incapable of conceiving even a single one.
(Lawh-i-Maqsud, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 176)

O Son of Bounty!
Out of the wastes of nothingness, with the clay of My command I made thee to appear, and have ordained for thy training every atom in existence and the essence of all created things.
(Persian Hidden Words 29)


IN THE MANIFESTATION OF THE REVEALER OF KNOWLEDGE THEY FIND NAUGHT BUT THE CALL TO SELF-SACRIFICE

Bahá'u'lláh describes these same people later in the Íqán as:

  "...this faithless people, who for gold have forsaken their faith, and who for the sake of leadership have repudiated Him Who is the First Leader of all mankind."  (Paragraph 252, p. 227)

Please compare:

Reflect thou upon such souls as offered up their lives and their substance in that land, that haply thou mayest be admonished and roused from slumber.  Consider:  Who is to be preferred, he who preserveth his body, his life and his possessions or the one who surrendereth his all in the path of God?  Judge thou fairly and be not of the unjust.
(Tablet of Tarazat, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 42)


THOUGH THEY RECOGNIZE IN THEIR HEARTS THE LAW OF GOD TO BE ONE AND THE SAME, YET FROM EVERY DIRECTION THEY ISSUE A NEW COMMAND, AND IN EVERY SEASON PROCLAIM A FRESH DECREE

Up to now the religious law has not been given a decisive role in our courts, because each of the `ulama has been handing down decrees as he saw fit, based on his arbitrary interpretation and personal opinion.  For example, two men will go to law, and one of the `ulama will find for the plaintiff and another for the defendant. It may even happen that in one and the same case two conflicting decisions will be handed down by the same mujtahid, on the grounds that he was inspired first in one direction and then in the other.  There can be no doubt that this state of affairs has confused every important issue and must jeopardize the very foundations of society.
(`Abdu'l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization, pp. 37-38)

The Master makes this same point very humorously later in the same book, mimicking the "true believers" of His time:

"In this town there used to be seventy different governments functioning in good order, but the number has steadily decreased; there are only twenty-five left now, as a memento.  It used to be that two hundred contradictory judgments were handed down by the same mufti in any one day, now we hardly get fifty.  In those days there were crowds of people who were all brainsick with litigation, and now they rest in peace; today the plaintiff would be defeated and the defendant victorious, tomorrow the plaintiff won the case and the defendant lost it -- but now this excellent practice has been abandoned too.  What is this heathenish religion, this idolatrous kind of error!  Alas for the Law, alas for the Faith, alas for all these calamities! O Brothers in the Faith!  This is surely the end of the world!  The Judgment is coming!"
(`Abdu'l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization, pp. 56-57)


WITH ALL THEIR POWER AND STRENGTH THEY STRIVE TO SECURE THEMSELVES IN THEIR PETTY PURSUITS, FEARFUL LEST THE LEAST DISCREDIT UNDERMINE THEIR AUTHORITY OR BLEMISH THE DISPLAY OF THEIR MAGNIFICENCE

Jesus warned,

And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites.  For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men.
(Matthew 6:5)

Please compare paragraph 176, where Bahá'u'lláh says that the people reject the Manifestations and ask,

"What!  Meanest thou that all these divines, all these exponents of learning, with all their authority, their pomp and pageantry, have erred, and failed to distinguish truth from falsehood?"
(Íqán, p. 165)

Likewise, in the days of Jesus, the people asked the disciples:

"Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in Him?  But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed."
(John 7:48-49)

Bahá'u'lláh describes the divines as "the veils of outward glory" on page 238 of Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, and as "thick clouds" on page 14 of Epistle to the Son of the Wolf.


WERE THE EYE TO BE ANOINTED AND ILLUMINED WITH THE COLLYRIUM OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD

This verse unseals the meaning of the Scriptural symbol of anointing a person's eyes, such as Jesus restoring the sight of a man:

... He spat upon the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the cay.  And He said to him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam" ....  So he went and washed, and came back seeing.
(John 9:6-7)

In the Book of Revelation, Jesus says:

I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.
(Revelation 3:18)

There is a similar passage in paragraph 99, page 91 of the Íqán.

A NUMBER OF VORACIOUS BEASTS HAVE GATHERED AND PREYED UPON THE CARRION OF THE SOULS OF MEN.


Bahá'u'lláh uses this same image later in the Íqán to describe the conduct of the unenlightened clergy:

... these people, ravenous as the dogs, have gathered around carrion ...
(Paragraph 230, p. 208; also see paragraph 260, p. 232)

This image also appears in the Old Testament:

Thus says the Lord God:  "Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require My flock at their hand; I will cause them to cease feeding the sheep, and the shepherds shall feed themselves no more; for I will deliver My flock from their mouths, that they may no longer be food for them."
(Ezekiel 34:10)

Similarly, the Prophet Micah lamented:

You who hate good and love evil; who strip the skin from My people, and the flesh from their bones; who also eat the flesh of My people, flay their skin from them, break their bones, and chop them in pieces like meat for the pot, like flesh in the caldron.
(Micah 3:2-3; also see John 3:19-20, and Psalm 53:4)

Jesus condemned the religious leaders of His Day as "full of dead men's bones."  (Matthew 23:27)

Paragraph 29, pp. 31-32

What "oppression" is greater than that which hath been recounted? What "oppression" is more grievous than that a soul seeking the truth, and wishing to attain unto the knowledge of God, should know not where to go for it and from whom to seek it? For opinions have sorely differed, and the ways unto the attainment of God have multiplied. This "oppression" is the essential feature of every Revelation. Unless it cometh to pass, the Sun of Truth will not be made manifest. For the break of the morn of divine guidance must needs follow the darkness of the night of error. For this reason, in all the chronicles and traditions reference hath been made unto these things, namely that iniquity shall cover the surface of the earth and darkness shall envelop mankind. As the traditions referred to are well known, and as the purpose of this servant is to be brief, He will refrain from quoting the text of these traditions.


WHAT "OPPRESSION" IS MORE GRIEVOUS THAN THAT A SOUL SEEKING THE TRUTH, AND WISHING TO ATTAIN UNTO THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD, SHOULD KNOW NOT WHERE TO GO FOR IT AND FROM WHOM TO SEEK IT?


"Behold, the days are coming," says the Lord God, "That I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.  They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord, but shall not find it."
(Amos 8:11-12)

With their flocks and herds they shall go to seek the Lord, but they will not find Him; He has withdrawn Himself from them.
(Hosea 5:6)


THE BREAK OF THE MORN OF DIVINE GUIDANCE MUST NEEDS FOLLOW THE DARKNESS OF THE NIGHT OF ERROR

Here is an explanatory note prepared under the supervision of the Universal House of Justice:

By "night" is meant the period between two divine Revelations when the Sun of Truth is not manifest among men.  In the Persian Bayán, II, 7, the Báb says, "O people of the Bayán!  Act not as the people of the Qur'án have acted, for if you do so the fruits of your night will come to naught."
("Selections from the Writings of the Báb," p. 129, footnote 1)

Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths.  The way of peace they have not known, and there is no justice in their ways; they have made themselves crooked paths; whoever takes that way shall not know peace.  Therefore justice is far from us, nor does righteousness overtake us; we look for light, but there is darkness!  For brightness, but we walk in blackness! We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes; we stumble at noonday as at twilight; we are as dead men in desolate places.
(Isaiah 59:7-10)

The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord.
(Joel 2:30-31)

Behold, the day of the Lord comes, cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate; and He will destroy its sinners from it.  For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be darkened in its going forth, and the moon will not cause its light to shine.
(Isaiah 13:9-10)

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined.
(Isaiah 9:2)

And, in this Day we have this divine promise of the City of God which has descended from heaven, which does not need the light of the sun or of the moon, for "the glory of God" illumines it, surely an indication of the power of the Covenant, promised to be "freed from all error":

And there shall be no night there
(Revelation 22:6)


IN ALL THE CHRONICLES AND TRADITIONS REFERENCE HATH BEEN MADE UNTO THESE THINGS, NAMELY THAT INIQUITY SHALL COVER THE SURFACE OF THE EARTH AND DARKNESS SHALL ENVELOP MANKIND

That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of devastation and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness . . .
(Zephaniah 1:15)

And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.  But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
Matthew 24:12-13)

Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord!  For what good is the day of the Lord to you?  It will be darkness, and not light.
(Amos 5:18)

Arise, shine, for your light has come!  And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.  For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you; the Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.
(Isaiah 60:1-2)


Iqan paragraph 30, pp. 32-33

  Were this "oppression" (which literally meaneth pressure) to be interpreted that the earth is to become contracted, or were men's idle fancy to conceive similar calamities to befall mankind, it is clear and manifest that no such happenings can ever come to pass. They will assuredly protest that this pre-requisite of divine revelation hath not been made manifest. Such hath been and still is their contention. Whereas, by "oppression" is meant the want of capacity to acquire spiritual knowledge and apprehend the Word of God. By it is meant that when the Day-star of Truth hath set, and the mirrors that reflect His light have departed, mankind will become afflicted with "oppression" and hardship, knowing not whither to turn for guidance. Thus We instruct thee in the interpretation of the traditions, and reveal unto thee the mysteries of divine wisdom, that haply thou mayest comprehend the meaning thereof, and be of them that have quaffed the cup of divine knowledge and understanding.


BY "OPPRESSION" IS MEANT . . . THAT WHEN THE DAY-STAR OF TRUTH HATH SET, AND THE MIRRORS THAT REFLECT HIS LIGHT HAVE DEPARTED, MANKIND WILL BECOME AFFLICTED WITH "OPPRESSION" AND HARDSHIP, KNOWING NOT WHITHER TO TURN FOR GUIDANCE

The Greek word "thlipsis," which Bahá'u'lláh here interprets, appears in the words of Christ in Matthew 24:29.  It is generally translated "after the *tribulation* of those days" and Shoghi Effendi has here translated it as "after the oppression of those days."  The word thlipsis means literal or figurative pressure, as well as affliction, anguish, burden, persecution, tribulation or trouble.  ("Greek Dictionary of the New Testament," appended to James Strong, "Strong's Exhaustive Concordance," (Waco: Word Books (1977) paperback edition, p. 36).  It is called by Christians "The Great Tribulation" and is generally understood by them to mean the physical torments the non-believers will suffer -- the wars, plagues and cataclysms that will precede the establishment of Christ's Kingdom on earth.

Bahá'u'lláh states that this word means the great, worldwide spiritual suffering that characterizes the period of darkness preceding the appearance of the new Manifestation.  This word "thlipsis" is used in that sense in the following description by Jesus of His departure and His return, and is translated as "anguish."  Jesus said:

"A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father."  Then some of His disciples said among themselves, "What is this that He says to us, 'A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me'; and 'Because I go to the Father'?"  They said therefore, "What is this that He says, 'A little while'?  We do not know what He is saying."  Now Jesus knew that they desired to ask Him, and He said to them, "Are you inquiring among yourselves about what I said, 'A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me'?  Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy.  A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.  Therefore, you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you."
(Gospel of John 16:16-22)

By the aid of this verse from Christ, our Christian friends may be better enabled to see the spiritual significance of this spiritual oppression Bahá'u'lláh and Christ explain.


KNOWING NOT WHITHER TO TURN FOR GUIDANCE

Please compare these words of Jesus, referring to the religious leaders of His Day:

Let them alone.  They are blind leaders of the blind.  And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch.
(Matthew 15:14)


BY "OPPRESSION" IS MEANT THE WANT OF CAPACITY TO ACQUIRE SPIRITUAL KNOWLEDGE AND APPREHEND THE WORD OF GOD

When His disciples asked Him why He spoke in parables, Jesus spoke of the people's lack of capacity to understand the Word of God:

Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.  And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says:  'Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive; for the heart of this people has grown dull.  Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their heart and turn, so that I should heal them.'  But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear.
(Matthew 13:13-16)

WHEN THE DAY-STAR OF TRUTH HATH SET, AND THE MIRRORS THAT REFLECT HIS LIGHT HAVE DEPARTED

The Manifestations of God are frequently referred to as “Mirrors,” and the Báb refers to the believers as "mirrors" (Selections from the Writings of the Báb, pp. 90, 92, 166).


THUS WE INSTRUCT THEE

"When Bahá'u'lláh uses the plural -- 'We', 'Our' etc. -- He is merely using a form which is regal and has greater power than the singular 'I'. We have this same usage in English, when the King says 'we'. The Pope does the same thing."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 18, 1951, Lights of Guidance, 5th edition, p. 472, #1554)


BE OF THEM THAT HAVE QUAFFED THE CUP OF DIVINE KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING

Then He took the cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, and they all drank from it.  And He said to them, "This is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many.  Assuredly, I say to you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God."
(Mark 14:23-25)


Iqan, paragraph 31, pp. 33-34

  And now, concerning His words--"The sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give light, and the stars shall fall from heaven." By the terms "sun" and "moon," mentioned in the writings of the Prophets of God, is not meant solely the sun and moon of the visible universe. Nay rather, manifold are the meanings they have intended for these terms. In every instance they have attached to them a particular significance. Thus, by the "sun" in one sense is meant those Suns of Truth Who rise from the dayspring of ancient glory, and fill the world with a liberal effusion of grace from on high. These Suns of Truth are the universal Manifestations of God in the worlds of His attributes and names, even as the visible sun that assisteth, as decreed by God, the true One, the Adored, in the development of all earthly things, such as the trees, the fruits, and colours thereof, the minerals of the earth, and all that may be witnessed in the world of creation, so do the divine Luminaries, by their loving care and educative influence, cause the trees of divine unity, the fruits of His oneness, the leaves of detachment, the blossoms of knowledge and certitude, and the myrtles of wisdom and utterance, to exist and be made manifest. Thus it is that through the rise of these Luminaries of God the world is made new, the waters of everlasting life stream forth, the billows of loving-kindness surge, the clouds of grace are gathered, and the breeze of bounty bloweth upon all created things. It is the warmth that these Luminaries of God generate, and the undying fires they kindle, which cause the light of the love of God to burn fiercely in the heart of humanity. It is through the abundant grace of these Symbols of Detachment that the Spirit of life everlasting is breathed into the bodies of the dead. Assuredly the visible sun is but a sign of the splendour of that Day-star of Truth, that Sun Which can never have a peer, a likeness, or rival. Through Him all things live, move, and have their being. Through His grace they are made manifest, and unto Him they all return. From Him all things have sprung, and unto the treasuries of His revelation they all have repaired. From Him all created things did proceed, and to the depositories of His law they did revert.

As Mr. Dunbar points out, “This key passage and the subsequent paragraph eloquently set forth the fundamental role and exalted station of the universal Manifestations of God.”  (“Companion” p. 99)

BY THE "SUN" IN ONE SENSE IS MEANT THOSE SUNS OF TRUTH WHO RISE FROM THE DAYSPRING OF ANCIENT GLORY

It is rare to hear a Christian use the term "sun" to symbolize the Manifestation of God.  It is helpful to point out that the Bible does so:

Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, brought them up on a high mountain by themselves, and was transfigured before them.  His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.
(Matthew 17:1-2)

He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.
(Revelation 1:16)

And I saw still another mighty angel coming down from heaven, clothed with a cloud.  And a rainbow was on his head, his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire.
(Revelation 10:1; this closely matches the description of the "Glory of the Lord" in Ezekiel 1:27-28)

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, "I am the light of the world.  He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life."
(John 8:12.  Also John 9:5 and 12:46)

But to you who fear My name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings
(Malachi 4:2.  This passage from the last chapter of the last Book in the Old Testament is often marked in study Bibles as a prophecy of Jesus Christ and is most helpful in explaining the symbolic meaning of the "sun" being "darkened".  In addition to being a prophecy of Christ, Shoghi Effendi states that it is a prophecy of Bahá'u'lláh, on page 95 of "God Passes By.")

Now these are the last words of David.  Thus says David the son of Jesse; thus says the man raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel:  "The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue. The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spoke to me:  'He who rules over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.  And he shall be like the light of the morning when the sun rises, a morning without clouds, like the tender grass springing out of the earth, by clear shining after rain.'
(II Samuel 23:1-4)

Then [Balaam] took up his oracle and said: ... I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; a Star shall come out of Jacob; a Scepter shall rise out of Israel..."
(Numbers 24:17.  Most study Bibles indicate this as a prophecy of Jesus Christ, who descended from Jacob, and believe it is fulfilled by the following verse, where Jesus compares Himself to the Sun:)

I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches.  I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star."
(Revelation 22:16)

With these verses we can help Christians to see that the Bible uses the term "sun" (or "star") symbolically, to refer to the light of the Manifestations of God.

THE DIVINE LUMINARIES, BY THEIR LOVING CARE AND EDUCATIVE INFLUENCE, CAUSE THE TREES OF DIVINE UNITY, THE FRUITS OF HIS ONENESS ... TO EXIST AND BE MADE MANIFEST

Please compare these words of Jesus to His disciples:

Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.  I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
(John 15:4-5)

And of Joseph he [Moses] said:  Blessed of the Lord is his land, with the precious things of heaven, with the dew and the deep lying beneath, with the precious fruits of the sun, with the precious produce of the months, with the best things of the ancient mountains, with the precious things of the everlasting hills, with the precious things of the earth and its fullness, and the favor of Him who dwelt in the bush.  Let the blessing come on the head of Joseph . . .
(Deuteronomy 33:13-16)

In that day the Branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious; and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and appealing ...
(Isaiah 4:2.  `Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi confirm that in Old Testament prophecy Bahá'u'lláh is referred to as the "Branch".  The Promised Day is Come, p. 121, the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 204)

This world is the empire of the spiritual sovereignty of the Abhá Beauty, and this realm is the seat where the mighty throne of the Kingdom of the Exalted One [the Báb] is established. Its effulgent sun, its shining moon never set, its brilliant stars never fade, its bright horizon is never overcast. Its oceans surge and its birds soar in the heights. Its streams are living waters, soft flowing rivers of immortality. Its trees are saplings planted in the orchard of the Lord of Glory. Its dominion is the immensity of the realm of the placeless, and its territory the domain of the heart. Its abiding joy is attainment unto the presence of the ever forgiving Lord. Its sustenance is the liberal bounty that His adored Beauty hath bestowed. Its chalice is the cup tempered at the Camphor Fountain, its designation, the Expanse of Eternal Life, a life that transcendeth the limitations of countless ages.  
O my friends! This is the Call of the Covenant. This is the Dispensation of the Well Beloved of all mankind. This is the gift that the Day Star of the world hath graciously given. This is the revelation of His incorruptible grace, the manifestation of His perpetual assistance, the evidence of the power that is born of God and the potency of the bestowals proffered by the All Merciful. What else do ye want? What else do ye expect? Which path do ye tread? Be quick, be quick! O companions! hurry, hurry! O ye loved ones!  And upon ye be His glory!
(From a Tablet of `Abdu'l-Bahá, Compilation on Martyrdom, "Fire and Light")

I beseech Thee, O my God, by that Letter which, as soon as it proceeded out of the mouth of Thy will, hath caused the oceans to surge, and the winds to blow, and the fruits to be revealed, and the trees to spring forth, and all past traces to vanish, and all veils to be rent asunder, and them who are devoted to Thee to hasten unto the light of the countenance of their Lord, the Unconstrained, to make known unto me what lay hid in the treasuries of Thy knowledge and concealed within the repositories of Thy wisdom. Thou seest me, O my God, holding to Thy Name, the Most Holy, the Most Luminous, the Most Mighty, the Most Great, the Most Exalted, the Most Glorious, and clinging to the hem of the robe to which have clung all in this world and in the world to come.
(Bahá'u'lláh, Prayer for Fasting)


THROUGH THE RISE OF THESE LUMINARIES OF GOD THE WORLD IS MADE NEW, THE WATERS OF EVERLASTING LIFE STREAM FORTH

Please compare:

... whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst.  But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.
(Jesus Christ, Gospel of John 4:14)


THROUGH HIM ALL THINGS LIVE, MOVE, AND HAVE THEIR BEING ... FROM HIM ALL CREATED THINGS DID PROCEED, AND TO THE DEPOSITORIES OF HIS LAW THEY DID REVERT.

And thou shalt surely guide into the right way, the way of God, whose is all that the Heaven and the Earth contain.  Shall not all things return to God?
(Qur'án 42:53, Rodwell translation)

In one sense, the term "all things" means the peoples of the world, and the Báb used it in this way:

O all ye created things!  Strive to gain admittance into Paradise, since ye have, during all your lives, held fast unto virtuous deeds in order to attain unto it.
(Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 145; also see pp. 158 and 161).

The Báb directed that eighteen lists, each containing the names of nineteen believers be compiled, and these, along with Himself and the eighteen Letters of the Living -- 361 in total (19 X 19) -- He designated as "kull-i-shay," Arabic for "all things."  This word has the numerical value of 361 in the abjad reckoning.  "Of all these believers I shall make mention in the Tablet of God, so that upon each one of them the Beloved of our hearts may, in the Day when He shall have ascended the throne of glory, confer His inestimable blessings, and declare them the dwellers of His Paradise."  (The Dawn-Breakers p. 123).

This also bears on the significance of all created things passing away, and a "new creation" being brought into being, as prophesied in the Holy Books, and as Bahá'u'lláh explains in the following verse, and in paragraph 121 of the Íqán.

I testify that no sooner had the First Word proceeded, through the potency of Thy will and purpose, out of His mouth, and the First Call gone forth from His lips than the whole creation was revolutionized, and all that are in the heavens and all that are on earth were stirred to the depths. Through that Word the realities of all created things were shaken, were divided, separated, scattered, combined and reunited, disclosing, in both the contingent world and the heavenly kingdom, entities of a new creation, and revealing, in the unseen realms, the signs and tokens of Thy unity and oneness. Through that Call Thou didst announce unto all Thy servants the advent of Thy most great Revelation and the appearance of Thy most perfect Cause. (Prayers and Meditations by Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 295-296)


Iqan, paragraph 32, pp. 34-35

That these divine Luminaries seem to be confined at times to specific designations and attributes, as you have observed and are now observing, is due solely to the imperfect and limited comprehension of certain minds. Otherwise, they have been at all times, and will through eternity continue to be, exalted above every praising name, and sanctified from every descriptive attribute. The quintessence of every name can hope for no access unto their court of holiness, and the highest and purest of all attributes can never approach their kingdom of glory. Immeasurably high are the Prophets of God exalted above the comprehension of men, who can never know them except by their own Selves. Far be it from His glory that His chosen Ones should be magnified by any other than their own persons. Glorified are they above the praise of men; exalted are they above human understanding!


THE QUINTESSENCE OF EVERY NAME CAN HOPE FOR NO ACCESS UNTO THEIR COURT OF HOLINESS, AND THE HIGHEST AND PUREST OF ALL ATTRIBUTES CAN NEVER APPROACH THEIR KINGDOM OF GLORY

It is evident that the human understanding is a quality of the existence of man, and that man is a sign of God: how can the quality of the sign surround the creator of the sign?--that is to say, how can the understanding, which is a quality of the existence of man, comprehend God? Therefore, the Reality of the Divinity is hidden from all comprehension, and concealed from the minds of all men.  It is absolutely impossible to ascend to that plane.  We see that everything which is lower is powerless to comprehend the reality of that which is higher.  So the stone, the earth, the tree, however much they may evolve, cannot comprehend the reality of man and cannot imagine the powers of sight, of hearing, and of the other senses, although they are all alike created.  Therefore, how can man, the created, understand the reality of the pure Essence of the Creator?  This plane is unapproachable by the understanding; no explanation is sufficient for its comprehension, and there is no power to indicate it.  What has an atom of dust to do with the pure world, and what relation is there between the limited mind and the infinite world? Minds are powerless to comprehend God, and the souls become bewildered in explaining Him.  "The eyes see Him not, but He seeth the eyes.  He is the Omniscient, the Knower."
Consequently, with reference to this plane of existence, every statement and elucidation is defective, all praise and all description are unworthy, every conception is vain, and every meditation is futile.  But for this Essence of the essences, this Truth of truths, this Mystery of mysteries, there are reflections, auroras, appearances and resplendencies in the world of existence.  The dawning-place of these splendors, the place of these reflections, and the appearance of these manifestations are the Holy Dawning-places, the Universal Realities and the Divine Beings, Who are the true mirrors of the sanctified Essence of God. . . .
Nevertheless, we speak of the names and attributes of the Divine Reality, and we praise Him by attributing to Him sight, hearing, power, life and knowledge.  We affirm these names and attributes, not to prove the perfections of God, but to deny that He is capable of imperfections.  When we look at the existing world, we see that ignorance is imperfection and knowledge is perfection; therefore, we say that the sanctified Essence of God is wisdom.  Weakness is imperfection, and power is perfection; consequently, we say that the sanctified Essence of God is the acme of power.  It is not that we can comprehend His knowledge, His sight, His power and life, for it is beyond our comprehension; for the essential names and attributes of God are identical with His Essence, and His Essence is above all comprehension.
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, Chapter 37, pp. 146-148)


IMMEASURABLY HIGH ARE THE PROPHETS OF GOD EXALTED ABOVE THE COMPREHENSION OF MEN, WHO CAN NEVER KNOW THEM EXCEPT BY THEIR OWN SELVES

This is a theme to which Baha'u'llah returns a number of times in the Iqan, for example in paragraphs 82 and 100.  In addition, in the first selection in the Gleanings, He revealed:

Nay, forbid it, O my God, that I should have uttered such words as must of necessity imply the existence of any direct relationship between the Pen of Thy Revelation and the essence of all created things. Far, far are They Who are related to Thee above the conception of such relationship!  All comparisons and likenesses fail to do justice to the Tree of Thy Revelation, and every way is barred to the comprehension of the Manifestation of Thy Self and the Day Spring of Thy Beauty.
(Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 4; from a Tablet to Aqa Muhammad Hasan, who cared for the women during the banishment to Constantinople, and later looked after the pilgrims in the Holy Land)


Meditate diligently upon the Cause of thy Lord. Strive to know Him through His own Self and not through others. For no one else besides Him can ever profit thee. To this all created things will testify, couldst thou but perceive it.
(Gleanings, Section LXXVI, p. 148)


Lauded and glorified be Thy name, O Lord, my God!   From all eternity I have indeed recognized Thee and unto all eternity will ever do so through Thine Own Self and not through any one else besides Thee. Verily Thou art the Source of all knowledge, the Omniscient. From everlasting I have besought and unto everlasting will beseech forgiveness for my limited understanding of Thee, aware as I am that there is no God but Thee, the All-Glorious, the Almighty.
(Selections from the Writings of the Bab, pp. 3-4; from a Tablet to Baha'u'llah)


Say, God is my witness! The Promised One Himself hath come down from heaven, seated upon the crimson cloud with the hosts of revelation on His right, and the angels of inspiration on His left, and the Decree hath been fulfilled at the behest of God, the Omnipotent, the Almighty. Thereupon the footsteps of everyone have slipped except such as God hath protected through His tender mercy and numbered with those who have recognized Him through His Own Self and detached themselves from all that pertaineth to the world.
(Tablets of Baha'u'llah, pp. 182-183)


GLORIFIED ARE THEY ABOVE THE PRAISE OF MEN; EXALTED ARE THEY ABOVE HUMAN UNDERSTANDING!

And finally there emerges, though on a plane of its own and in a category entirely apart from the one occupied by the twin Figures that preceded Him, the vibrant, the magnetic personality of `Abdu'l-Baha, reflecting to a degree that no man, however exalted his station, can hope to rival, the glory and power with which They who are the Manifestations of God are alone endowed.
(Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha'u'llah, pp. 97-98)

For wide as is the gulf that separates `Abdu'l-Baha from Him Who is the Source of an independent Revelation, it can never be regarded as commensurate with the greater distance that stands between Him Who is the Center of the Covenant and His ministers who are to carry on His work, whatever be their name, their rank, their functions or their future achievements.
(Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 132)


Iqan, paragraph 33, pp. 35-36

The term "suns" hath many a time been applied in the writings of the "immaculate Souls" unto the Prophets of God, those luminous Emblems of Detachment. Among those writings are the following words recorded in the "Prayer of Nudbih": "Whither are gone the resplendent Suns? Whereunto have departed those shining Moons and sparkling Stars?" Thus, it hath become evident that the terms "sun," "moon," and "stars" primarily signify the Prophets of God, the saints, and their companions, those Luminaries, the light of Whose knowledge hath shed illumination upon the worlds of the visible and the invisible.


THE "IMMACULATE SOULS"

`Abdu'l-Baha frequently refers to the "immaculate" Imams, the lawful Successors to Muhammad.  (A Traveler's Narrative, pp. 11, 16, 17, and 27; Memorials of the Faithful, pp. 137 and 195).  It is also clear that Baha'u'llah is here speaking of the Twelve Imams, because He speaks of how in Their Writings, the Prophets of God are referred to as "suns," and He then quotes from the First Imam.  Similarly, Fatimih, the sister of Imam Rida the eighth Imam, is called "The Immaculate."  Shoghi Effendi states in God Passes By (p. 139) that in the Iqan, Baha'u'llah "glorifies the Imams of the Faith of Muhammad."  The Bab was a descendant of the Imams (The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 178).  Shoghi Effendi wrote of the Imams, through his secretary:

The guidance vouchsafed to the Imams regarding the
     laws and institutions of Islam was absolute and
     unqualified. Their infallibility was derived directly
     from the Manifestation.
     (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to
     an individual believer, July 30, 1941; Lights of
     Guidance, 5th Edition, p. 497, #1665)

Now a great sign appeared in heaven:  a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars.
(Revelation 12:1.)

In Chapter 13 of Some Answered Questions, `Abdu'l-Baha says, "These twelve stars are the twelve Imams, who were the promoters of the Law of Muhammad and the educators of the people, shining like stars in the heaven of guidance."


PRAYER OF NUDBIH

The Glossary to the Iqan describes this as "A Lamentation of the Imam `Ali" (Iqan, p. 265), and Mr. Dunbar gives further insight into this prayer ("Companion," p. 100).


THE TERMS "SUN," "MOON," AND "STARS" PRIMARILY SIGNIFY THE PROPHETS OF GOD, THE SAINTS, AND THEIR COMPANIONS, THOSE LUMINARIES, THE LIGHT OF WHOSE KNOWLEDGE HATH SHED ILLUMINATION UPON THE WORLDS OF THE VISIBLE AND THE INVISIBLE

Behold, Joseph said to his father:  "O my father!  I did see eleven stars and the sun and the moon:  I saw them prostrate themselves to me!"
(Qur'an 12:4)

There shall rise a Star out of Jacob
(Numbers 24:17)

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
Praise Him, all His angels;
Praise Him, all His hosts!
Praise Him, sun and moon;
Praise Him, all you stars of light!
(Psalm 148:1-3)

Moreover the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, as the light of seven days . . .
(Isaiah 30:26)

Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever.
(Daniel 12:3)

Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.
(Jesus Christ, Matthew 13:43)

I am the light of the world.
(Jesus Christ, John 8:12)

You are the light of the world.
(Jesus Christ to His disciples, Matthew 5:14)

He [John the Baptist] was the burning and shining lamp, and you were willing for a time to rejoice in his light.
(Jesus Christ, John 5:35)

The acts of Him Whom God shall make manifest are like unto the sun, while the works of men, provided they conform to the good-pleasure of God, resemble the stars or the moon . . . . Thus, should the followers of the Bayan observe the precepts of Him Whom God shall make manifest at the time of His appearance, and regard themselves and their own works as stars exposed to the light of the sun, then they will have gathered the fruits of their existence; otherwise the title of "starship" will not apply to them.  Rather it will apply to such as truly believe in Him, to those who pale into insignificance in the day-time and gleam forthwith light in the night season.
(From the Persian Bayan, Selections from the Writings of the Bab, p. 97)


Iqan, paragraph 34, page 36

In another sense, by these terms is intended the divines of the former Dispensation, who live in the days of the subsequent Revelations, and who hold the reins of religion in their grasp. If these divines be illumined by the light of the latter Revelation they will be acceptable unto God, and will shine with a light everlasting. Otherwise, they will be declared as darkened, even though to outward seeming they be leaders of men, inasmuch as belief and unbelief, guidance and error, felicity and misery, light and darkness, are all dependent upon the sanction of Him Who is the Day-star of Truth. Whosoever among the divines of every age receiveth, in the Day of Reckoning, the testimony of faith from the Source of true knowledge, he verily becometh the recipient of learning, of divine favour, and of the light of true understanding. Otherwise, he is branded as guilty of folly, denial, blasphemy, and oppression.


IF THESE DIVINES BE ILLUMINED BY THE LIGHT OF THE LATTER REVELATION THEY WILL BE ACCEPTABLE UNTO GOD, AND WILL SHINE WITH A LIGHT EVERLASTING

Those divines...who are truly adorned with the ornament of knowledge and of a goodly character are, verily, as a head to the body of the world, and as eyes to the nations. The guidance of men hath, at all times, been and is dependent upon these blessed souls.
The divine whose conduct is upright, and the sage who is just, are as the spirit unto the body of the world. Well is it with that divine whose head is attired with the crown of justice, and whose temple is adorned with the ornament of equity.
The divine who hath seized and quaffed the most holy Wine, in the name of the sovereign Ordainer, is as an eye unto the world. Well is it with them who obey him, and call him to remembrance.
(The Proclamation of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 79)


O concourse of divines! Can any one of you race with the Divine Youth in the arena of wisdom and utterance, or soar with Him into the heaven of inner meaning and explanation? Nay, by My Lord, the God of mercy! All have swooned away in this Day from the Word of thy Lord. They are even as dead and lifeless, except him whom thy Lord, the Almighty, the Unconstrained, hath willed to exempt. Such a one is indeed of those endued with knowledge in the sight of Him Who is the All-Knowing. The inmates of Paradise, and the dwellers of the sacred Folds, bless him at eventide and at dawn. Can the one possessed of wooden legs resist him whose feet God hath made of steel? Nay, by Him Who illumineth the whole of creation!
(The Proclamation of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 76)

OTHERWISE, THEY WILL BE DECLARED AS DARKENED, EVEN THOUGH TO OUTWARD SEEMING THEY BE LEADERS OF MEN

O concourse of bishops!  Ye are the stars of the heaven of My knowledge.  My mercy desireth not that ye should fall upon the earth.  My justice, however, declareth:  "This is that which the Son hath decreed."  And whatsoever hath proceeded out of His blameless, His truth-speaking, trustworthy mouth, can never be altered.
(Bahá'u'lláh, Tablet to the Christians, Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 14.  Shoghi Effendi refers to the "fallen stars of the firmament of Christendom" on page 103 of The Promised Day is Come.)

Prepare to meet your God, O Israel!  For behold, He who forms mountains, and creates the wind, who declares to man what his thought is, and makes the morning darkness, who treads the high places of the earth -- the Lord God of hosts is His name.
Amos 4:13.

Bahá'u'lláh quotes this verse and writes:

"He saith that He maketh the morning darkness.  By this is meant that if, at the time of the Manifestation of Him Who conversed on Sinai anyone were to regard himself as the true morn, he will, through the might and power of God, be turned into darkness.  He truly is the false dawn, though believing himself to be the true one.  Woe unto him, and woe unto such as follow him..."
Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 146

The "mountains" in scriptural symbolism means the clergy who do not recognize the new Manifestation.  Annas and Caiaphas were the leading clergy at the time of Christ:

The mountains are men of high renown, whose famous names sink into insignificance when the dawn of the Manifestation fills the world with light.  The pomp of Annas and Caiaphas is outshone by the simple glory of the Christ.
(Quoted in Mr. Balyuzi's "`Abdu'l-Bahá," p. 499)

Give glory to the Lord your God before He causes darkness, and before your feet stumble on the dark mountains, and while you are looking for light, He turns it into the shadow of death and makes it dense darkness.
(Jeremiah 13:16)

Thus says the Lord concerning the prophets who make my people stray; who chant "Peace" while they chew with their teeth, but who prepare war against him who puts nothing into their mouths; therefore you shall have night without vision, and you shall have darkness without divination; the sun shall go down on the prophets, and the day shall be dark for them.
(Micah 3:5-6)


Iqan, paragraph 35, p. 37

It is evident and manifest unto every discerning observer that even as the light of the star fadeth before the effulgent splendour of the sun, so doth the luminary of earthly knowledge, of wisdom, and understanding vanish into nothingness when brought face to face with the resplendent glories of the Sun of Truth, the Day-star of divine enlightenment.


EVERY DISCERNING OBSERVER

`Abdu'l-Bahá instructs us in the attainment of the attribute of discernment:

As to the proofs and arguments of the Beauty of ABHA, these are manifest like the sun. If thou wishest a discerning eye and seekest for a hearing ear, set thou aside that which thou hast heard from fathers and ancestors, for such things are imitation--and then seek for the truth with the utmost attention until the divine confirmation may reach thee and the matter may be properly disclosed unto thee.
(Tablets of `Abdu'l-Bahá `Abbas, Volume II, p. 410)


THE LIGHT OF THE STAR FADETH BEFORE THE EFFULGENT SPLENDOUR OF THE SUN

Siyyid Kazim, in his farewell address to his disciples, foreshadowed the appearance of the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh using this same image:

Verily I say, after the Qa'im the Qayyum will be made manifest. For when the star of the Former has set, the sun of the beauty of Husayn will rise and illuminate the whole world.
(The Dawn-Breakers, pp. 41-42)

In the Tablet of the Seven Valleys, written early in His ministry and before His public declaration, Bahá'u'lláh wrote a similar verse:

"At this hour the morn of knowledge hath arisen and the lamps of wayfaring and wandering are quenched."
(Bahá'u'lláh, The Seven Valleys, p. 16, The Valley of Knowledge)

The translators of the Seven Valleys, `Ali-Quli Khan and Marzieh Gail, commented on this verse:

"This refers to the mystic wandering and search for truth guided by 'Lights' or Sufi leaders. Bahá'u'lláh here warns the mystics that the coming of the Divine Manifestation in His Day makes further search unnecessary, as it was said by `Ali: 'Quench the lamp when the sun hath risen'--the sun referring to the Manifestation of God in the New Day."
(The Seven Valleys and The Four Valleys, p. 16, footnote 23)

Verily that which ye are promised is imminent
When the stars, therefore, shall be blotted out
And when the heaven shall be cleft
And when the mountains shall be scattered in dust
(Qur'án 77:6 10)

Then celebrate with praises the name of the Lord, the Supreme: Furthermore I call to witness the setting of the Stars.  And that is indeed a mighty oath if ye but knew.
(Qur'án 56:74 76)


SO DOTH THE LUMINARY OF EARTHLY KNOWLEDGE, OF WISDOM, AND UNDERSTANDING VANISH INTO NOTHINGNESS WHEN BROUGHT FACE TO FACE WITH THE RESPLENDENT GLORIES OF THE SUN OF TRUTH

Everything besides Him is as nothing when brought face to face with the resplendent revelation of but one of His names, with no more than the faintest intimation of His glory - how much less when confronted with His own Self!
By the righteousness of My name, the All-Merciful!  The Pen of the Most High trembleth with a great trembling and is sore shaken at the revelation of these words. How puny and insignificant is the evanescent drop when compared with the waves and billows of God's limitless and everlasting Ocean, and how utterly contemptible must every contingent and perishable thing appear when brought face to face with the uncreated, the unspeakable glory of the Eternal!
(From Bahá'u'lláh's Commentary on a verse from Sa'di, Gleanings, Section XCIII, pp. 187-188)

From eternity Thou hast been exalted above the praise of all created things, and wilt to eternity remain far above the glorification of any one of Thy creatures. Existence itself testifieth to its non-existence when face to face with the manifold revelations of Thy transcendent oneness, and every created thing confesseth, by its very nature, its nothingness when compared with the sacred splendors of the light of Thy unity.
(Prayers and Meditations by Bahá'u'lláh, p. 172)

What is with you must vanish: what is with God will endure.
(Qur'án 16:96)

In his scriptural lesson this morning the revered doctor read a verse from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians, "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face." [I Corinthians, 13:12]  The light of truth has heretofore been seen dimly through variegated glasses, but now the splendors of Divinity shall be visible through the translucent mirrors of pure hearts and spirits. The light of truth is the divine teaching, heavenly instruction, merciful principles and spiritual civilization.
(Talk by `Abdu'l-Bahá in a New York City church, 14 April 1912, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 11)


Iqan paragraph 36, pp. 37-38

That the term "sun" hath been applied to the leaders of religion is due to their lofty position, their fame, and renown. Such are the universally recognized divines of every age, who speak with authority, and whose fame is securely established. If they be in the likeness of the Sun of Truth, they will surely be accounted as the most exalted of all luminaries; otherwise, they are to be recognized as the focal centres of hellish fire. Even as He saith: "Verily, the sun and the moon are both condemned to the torment of infernal fire." You are no doubt familiar with the interpretation of the term "sun" and "moon" mentioned in this verse; no need therefore to refer unto it. And whosoever is of the element of this "sun" and "moon", that is, followeth the example of these leaders in setting his face towards falsehood and in turning away from the truth he undoubtedly cometh out of infernal gloom and returneth thereunto.


THAT THE TERM "SUN" HATH BEEN APPLIED TO THE LEADERS OF RELIGION IS DUE TO THEIR LOFTY POSITION, THEIR FAME, AND RENOWN

And when I shall put thee out, I will cover the heaven, and make the stars thereof dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give her light. All the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over thee, and set darkness upon thy land, saith the Lord God.
(Ezekiel 32:7 8)

In the New Testament we read this account of a teaching trip of some of Christ's disciples after His ascension:

Now when they had gone through the island to Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet . . . Elymas the sorcerer ...he withstood them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith.  Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, "O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord?  And now, indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time."  And immediately a dark mist fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand.
(Acts of the Apostles 13:6-11)


"VERILY, THE SUN AND THE MOON ARE BOTH CONDEMNED TO THE TORMENT OF INFERNAL FIRE." YOU ARE NO DOUBT FAMILIAR WITH THE INTERPRETATION OF THE TERM "SUN" AND "MOON" MENTIONED IN THIS VERSE; NO NEED THEREFORE TO REFER UNTO IT

Mr. Dunbar explains that the interpretation of this verse current among the Shiahs at that time, was that the "sun" and "moon" referred to the Caliphs who seized rightful leadership from `Ali after Muhammad's death and misled the people of Islam.  ("Companion," p. 101; see also Chapter 11 of Some Answered Questions, p. 52)


THEY ARE TO BE RECOGNIZED AS THE FOCAL CENTRES OF HELLISH FIRE... AND WHOSOEVER ... FOLLOWETH THE EXAMPLE OF THESE LEADERS IN SETTING HIS FACE TOWARDS FALSEHOOD AND IN TURNING AWAY FROM THE TRUTH HE UNDOUBTEDLY COMETH OUT OF INFERNAL GLOOM AND RETURNETH THEREUNTO.

Bahá'u'lláh uses very strong language concerning the people who mislead others.  The people believe their religious leaders are leading them to the light but they instead are leading them to "hellish fire," to "infernal fire" and to "infernal gloom."  His statements are similar to those words of Jesus to the Pharisees of His Day:

You are from beneath; I am from above....You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do.  He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him.  When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.  But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.
(John 8:23-45)

Likewise, the Báb wrote:

Thou pridest thyself in the things thou dost possess, yet no believer in God and in His signs, nor any righteous man would ever deign to regard them.  This mortal life is like unto the carcass of a dog, around which none would gather, nor would any partake thereof, except those who gainsay the life hereafter.  Verily it is incumbent upon thee to become a true believer in God, the All-Possessing, the Almighty, and to turn away from the one who guideth thee into the torment of hell-fire.
(Tablet to Muhammad Shah, Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 19)

How great the number of people who deck themselves with robes of silk all their lives, while clad in the garb of fire, inasmuch as they have divested themselves of the raiment of divine guidance and righteousness; and how numerous are those who wear clothes made of cotton or coarse wool throughout their lives, and yet by reason of their being endowed with the vesture of divine guidance and righteousness, are truly attired with the raiment of Paradise and take delight in the good pleasure of God. Indeed it would be better in the sight of God were ye to combine the two, adorning yourselves with the raiment of divine guidance and righteousness and wearing exquisite silk, if ye can afford to do so.
(From the Kitáb-i-Asma', the Book of Names, Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 149; also see p. 147)

And in a Tablet revealed in the early days in `Akká, Bahá'u'lláh writes:

The verses of God have been revealed, and yet they have turned away from them. His proof hath been manifested, and yet they are unaware of it. And when they behold the face of the All Merciful, their own faces are saddened, while they are disporting themselves. They hasten forward to Hell Fire, and mistake it for light. Far from God be what they fondly imagine!  Say: Whether ye rejoice or whether ye burst for fury, the heavens are cleft asunder, and God hath come down, invested with radiant sovereignty. All created things are heard exclaiming:  "The Kingdom is God's, the Almighty, the All Knowing, the All Wise."
(Gleanings p. 42)


THEIR LOFTY POSITION

In addition to the "sun," the leaders of religion are referred to in the Scriptures as "mountains," as indicated above.

Shoghi Effendi has confirmed on page 95 of God Passes By that Bahá'u'lláh is prophesied in the Old Testament as the "Lord" Who "shall be king over all the earth," perhaps a reference to these verses:


Now the angel who talked with me came back and wakened me, as a man who is wakened out of his sleep. And he said to me, “What do you see?” So I said, “I am looking, and there is a lampstand of solid gold with a bowl on top of it, and on the stand seven lamps with seven pipes to the seven lamps. Two olive trees are by it, one at the right of the bowl and the other at its left.” . . .  Then I answered and said to him, “What are these two olive trees—at the right of the lampstand and at its left?” And I further answered and said to him, “What are these two olive branches that drip into the receptacles of the two gold pipes from which the golden oil drains?” Then he answered me and said, “Do you not know what these are?” And I said, “No, my lord.” So he said, “These are the two anointed ones, who stand beside the Lord of the whole earth.”  (Zechariah Chapter 4)

The mountains melt like wax at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.  The heavens declare His righteousness, and all the peoples see His glory.
(Psalm 97:5-6)

Muhammad foreshadowed the Day of Bahá'u'lláh as the Day when "thou shalt see the mountains, which thou thinkest so firm, pass away with the passing of a cloud."  (Qur'án 27:90, quoted on p. 96 of God Passes By).

"Seest thou men laid low?"  "Yea, by my Lord, the Exalted, the Most High!"  "Have the tree-stumps been uprooted?"  "Yea, more; the mountains have been scattered in dust; by Him the Lord of attributes!"
(Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 133)

We will return to the subject of the lowering of the mountains in discussing paragraph 146, when we read Baha'u'llah's explanation of the "Mystery of the Great Reversal in the Sign of the Sovereign."

The mountains shall be thrown down, the steep places shall fall and every wall shall fall to the ground.
(Ezekiel 38:20)

"Behold, I am against you, O destroying mountain, who destroys all the earth," says the Lord.  "And I will stretch out My hand against you, roll you down from the rocks, and make you a burnt mountain."
(Jeremiah 51:25)

Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.  Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; the crooked places shall be made straight, and the rough places smooth; the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
(Isaiah 40:4-5)

Behold, I will make you into a new threshing sledge with sharp teeth; you shall thresh the mountains and beat them small, and make the hills like chaff.  You shall winnow them, the wind shall carry them away, and the whirlwind shall scatter them; you shall rejoice in the Lord, and glory in the Holy One of Israel.
(Isaiah 41:15-16; also see Isaiah 42:15

Hear now what the Lord says:  "Arise, plead your case before the mountains, and let the hills hear your voice.  Hear, O you mountains, the Lord's complaint, and you strong foundations of the earth; for the Lord has a complaint against His people, and He will contend with Israel."
(Micah 6:1-2)

Then every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.
(Revelation 16:20)

God came from Teman, the Holy One from Mount Paran.... His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of His praise.... He stood and measured the earth; he looked and startled the nations.  And the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills bowed.... The mountains saw You and trembled; the overflowing of the water passed by.  The deep uttered its voice, and lifted its hands on high.  The sun and moon stood still in their habitation...
(Habakkuk 3:3-11)

And, this magnificent prophecy:

Now it shall come to pass in the latter days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it.  Many people shall come and say, "Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; he will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths."  For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.  He shall judge between the nations, and shall rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.
(Isaiah 2:2-4; also see Micah 4:1-3)

Later in that same chapter of Isaiah we read a passage Baha'u'llah Himself quotes:

Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty.  The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.
(Isaiah 4:10-11)

Baha'u'llah wrote, in a Tablet to the Baha'is of Khurasan:

The time foreordained unto the peoples and kindreds of the earth is now come. The promises of God, as recorded in the holy Scriptures, have all been fulfilled. Out of Zion hath gone forth the Law of God, and Jerusalem, and the hills and land thereof, are filled with the glory of His Revelation. Happy is the man that pondereth in his heart that which hath been revealed in the Books of God, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting. Meditate upon this, O ye beloved of God, and let your ears be attentive unto His Word, so that ye may, by His grace and mercy, drink your fill from the crystal waters of constancy, and become as steadfast and immovable as the mountain in His Cause.
In the Book of Isaiah it is written:  "Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of His majesty."  No man that meditateth upon this verse can fail to recognize the greatness of this Cause, or doubt the exalted character of this Day - the Day of God Himself. This same verse is followed by these words:  "And the Lord alone shall be exalted in that Day."  This is the Day which the Pen of the Most High hath glorified in all the holy Scriptures. There is no verse in them that doth not declare the glory of His holy Name, and no Book that doth not testify unto the loftiness of this most exalted theme. Were We to make mention of all that hath been revealed in these heavenly Books and holy Scriptures concerning this Revelation, this Tablet would assume impossible dimensions. It is incumbent in this Day, upon every man to place his whole trust in the manifold bounties of God, and arise to disseminate, with the utmost wisdom, the verities of His Cause. Then, and only then, will the whole earth be enveloped with the morning light of His Revelation.
(Gleanings Section X, pp. 12-14)

And again:

Isaiah saith: "The Lord alone shall be exalted in that Day." Concerning the greatness of the Revelation He saith: "Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of His majesty." And in another connection He saith: "The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the splendor of our God." [Isaiah 35:2]  These passages stand in need of no commentary. They are shining and manifest as the sun, and glowing and luminous as light itself. Every fair-minded person is led, by the fragrance of these words, unto the garden of understanding, and attaineth unto that from which most men are veiled and debarred. Say: Fear God, O people, and follow not the doubts of such as shout aloud, who have broken the Covenant of God and His Testament, and denied His mercy that hath preceded all that are in the heavens and all that are on earth.
(Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, pp. 146-147)


Íqán, paragraph 37, page 38

And now, O seeker, it behooveth us to firmly cling unto the `Urvatu'l Vuthqá, that perchance we may leave behind the darksome night of error, and embrace the dawning light of divine guidance. Shall we not flee from the face of denial, and seek the sheltering shadow of certitude? Shall we not free ourselves from the horror of satanic gloom, and hasten towards the rising light of the heavenly Beauty? In such wise, we bestow upon you the fruit of the Tree of divine knowledge, that ye may gladly and joyously abide in the Ridvan of divine wisdom.


EMBRACE THE DAWNING LIGHT OF DIVINE GUIDANCE

In this divine Book, revealed about one year before His public Declaration, Bahá'u'lláh makes more than one reference to the dawning light of His Revelation:

They still have not awakened to perceive that . . . the promised Sun hath risen above the horizon of divine Revelation (Íqán p. 42, paragraph 42)

When the stream of utterance reached this stage, We beheld, and lo! the sweet savours of God were being wafted from the day-spring of Revelation, and the morning breeze was blowing out of the Sheba of the Eternal.
(Íqán, p. 59, paragraph 64)

Now when the light of God's everlasting Morn is breaking . . .
(Íqán, p. 90, paragraph 99)


SEEK THE SHELTERING SHADOW OF CERTITUDE

Being in the "shadow" of the Revelation is an important image in the Scriptures:

Like an apple tree among the trees of the woods, so is my beloved among the sons.  I sat down in his shade with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.  He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.  Sustain me with cakes of raisins, refresh me with apples, for I am lovesick.  His left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me.
(Song of Solomon 2:3-6)

And He said, "To what shall we liken the kingdom of God?  Or with what parable shall we picture it?  It is like a mustard seed which, when it is sown on the ground, is smaller than all the seeds on earth, but when it is sown, it grows up and becomes greater than all herbs, and shoots out large branches, so that the birds of the air may nest under its shade."
(Mark 4:30-32)

And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people.... And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, so that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them.
(Acts 5:12-15)

They shall neither hunger anymore, nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat.
(Revelation 7:16, see also Isaiah 49:10 and Psalm 121:6)

In that day the Branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious ... over all the glory there will be a covering, and there will be a tabernacle for shade in the daytime from the heat, for a place of refuge, and for a shelter from storm and rain.
(Isaiah 4:2-6)

     There hath branched from the Sadratu'l Muntaha this sacred and glorious Being, this Branch of Holiness;
     well is it with him that hath sought His shelter and
     abideth beneath His shadow.... They who deprive
     themselves of the shadow of the Branch, are lost in the
     wilderness of error, are consumed by the heat of
     worldly desires, and are of those who will assuredly
     perish.
(Bahá'u'lláh, the Tablet of the Branch, quoted in The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 134 135)

Blessed the distressed one who seeketh refuge beneath the shadow of My canopy.... Blessed ... the needy one who entereth beneath the shadow of the Tabernacle of My wealth.
(Tablet to the Christians, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 16)

While a teenager, Bahá'u'lláh's son Mirza Muhammad-`Ali wrote to believers in Persian, claiming that his words were a revelation direct from God. (Nader Saeidi provides more information on this in his book Logos and Civilization.)  These believers wrote to Bahá'u'lláh asking for clarification of the station of the Branches. Bahá'u'lláh revealed a Tablet in reply, in which He warned Muhammad –`Ali that should he "for a moment pass out from under the shadow of the Cause, he surely shall be brought to naught."  (Quoted in the Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 6; see Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, Vol. II, pp. 260-262).  The Master confirmed that Muhammad-`Ali "hath passed out from under the shadow of the Cause, hath broken the Covenant ..." (Will and Testament, p. 5)

And the Master revealed, in the opening verses of His Will, concerning Shoghi Effendi:

     Salutation and praise, blessing and glory rest upon
     that primal branch of the Divine and Sacred Lote Tree,
     grown out, blest, tender, verdant and flourishing from
     the Twin Holy Trees . . .  for behold!  He is the blest
     and sacred bough that hath branched out from the Twin
     Holy Trees. Well is it with him that seeketh the
     shelter of his shade that shadoweth all mankind....
All must be under his shadow and obey his command.
     (The Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 3 and 13)


WE BESTOW UPON YOU THE FRUIT OF THE TREE OF DIVINE KNOWLEDGE, THAT YE MAY GLADLY AND JOYOUSLY ABIDE IN THE RIDVAN

"Ridvan" means "Paradise."

In the Bible it is written that God put Adam in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and take care of it, and said to Him: "Eat of every tree of the garden except the tree of good and evil, for if You eat of that, You will die."  Then it is said that God caused Adam to sleep, and He took one of His ribs and created woman in order that she might be His companion.  After that it is said the serpent induced the woman to eat of the tree, saying: "God has forbidden you to eat of the tree in order that your eyes may not be opened, and that you may not know good from evil."  Then Eve ate from the tree and gave unto Adam, Who also ate; their eyes were opened, they found themselves naked, and they hid their bodies with leaves.  In consequence of this act they received the reproaches of God.  God said to Adam: "Hast Thou eaten of the forbidden tree?"  Adam answered: "Eve tempted Me, and I did eat."  God then reproved Eve; Eve said: "The serpent tempted me, and I did eat."  For this the serpent was cursed, and enmity was put between the serpent and Eve, and between their descendants.  And God said: "The man is become like unto Us, knowing good and evil, and perhaps He will eat of the tree of life and live forever."  So God guarded the tree of life....
Adam signifies the heavenly spirit of Adam, and Eve His human soul.  For in some passages in the Holy Books where women are mentioned, they represent the soul of man.  The tree of good and evil signifies the human world; for the spiritual and divine world is purely good and absolutely luminous, but in the human world light and darkness, good and evil, exist as opposite conditions.
The meaning of the serpent is attachment to the human world.  This attachment of the spirit to the human world led the soul and spirit of Adam from the world of freedom to the world of bondage and caused Him to turn from the Kingdom of Unity to the human world.  When the soul and spirit of Adam entered the human world, He came out from the paradise of freedom and fell into the world of bondage.  From the height of purity and absolute goodness, He entered into the world of good and evil.
The tree of life is the highest degree of the world of existence: the position of the Word of God, and the supreme Manifestation.  Therefore, that position has been preserved; and, at the appearance of the most noble supreme Manifestation, it became apparent and clear.  For the position of Adam, with regard to the appearance and manifestation of the divine perfections, was in the embryonic condition; the position of Christ was the condition of maturity and the age of reason; and the rising of the Greatest Luminary was the condition of the perfection of the essence and of the qualities.  This is why in the supreme Paradise the tree of life is the expression for the center of absolutely pure sanctity--that is to say, of the divine supreme Manifestation.  From the days of Adam until the days of Christ, They spoke little of eternal life and the heavenly universal perfections.  This tree of life was the position of the Reality of Christ; through His manifestation it was planted and adorned with everlasting fruits.
(Some Answered Questions, Chapter 30, pp. 122-124)

And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.  In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month.
(Revelation 22:1-2)

His ordinances constitute the fruits of the divine Tree
  (Suriy-i-Vafa, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 189)


Iqan paragraph 38, pp. 38-39

In another sense, by the terms 'sun', 'moon', and 'stars' are meant such laws and teachings as have been established and proclaimed in every Dispensation, such as the laws of prayer and fasting. These have, according to the Law of the Qur'an, been regarded, when the beauty of the Prophet Muhammad had passed beyond the veil, as the most fundamental and binding laws of His dispensation. To this testify the texts of the traditions and chronicles, which, on account of their being widely known, need not be referred to here. Nay rather, in every Dispensation the law concerning prayer hath been emphasized and universally enforced. To this testify the recorded traditions ascribed to the lights that have emanated from the Day-star of Truth, the essence of the Prophet Muhammad.

BY THE TERMS 'SUN', 'MOON', AND 'STARS' ARE MEANT SUCH LAWS AND TEACHINGS AS HAVE BEEN ESTABLISHED AND PROCLAIMED IN EVERY DISPENSATION

For the commandment is a lamp, and the law is light
(Proverbs 6:23)

The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.
(Psalm 19:8)

We also have the prophetic word made more sure, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts ...
(The Second Epistle of Peter 1:19)

Thus says the Lord, Who gives the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and the stars for a light by night, who disturbs the sea, and its waves roar (The Lord of hosts is His name).
(Jeremiah 31:35)

The Hebrew word translated as "ordinances" in this passage, carries the significances of "patterns" as well as "laws" or "regulations."  I know no Hebrew; this is simply based on looking up the reference in Strong's Concordance, a standard Biblical reference that is quite accessible to the layperson such as myself.


IN EVERY DISPENSATION THE LAW CONCERNING PRAYER HATH BEEN EMPHASIZED AND UNIVERSALLY ENFORCED

Mr. Dunbar points out that the word Shoghi Effendi translates here as "prayer" is that category of prayer spoken of by the House of Justice in this note to the Most Holy Book:

In Arabic, there are several words for prayer.  The word "salát", which appears here in the original, refers to a particular category of prayers, the recitation of which at specific times of the day is enjoined on the believers.  To differentiate this category of prayers from other kinds, the word has been translated as "obligatory prayer."
(The Most Holy Book, p. 166, Note 3)

Apparently, there is no such division of prayers in the Mosaic Law into obligatory and supererogatory.  The patterns of Jewish prayer developed based to a greater or lesser degree on the Scripture, and also based on tradition, and over the centuries practices were established by scholars and written in the Talmud.  There are a number of prayers uttered by Moses and the Lesser Prophets, though I do not know if these words constitute part of Jewish daily prayers.  In time, prayers came to accompany the burning of incense morning and evening, and at the time of the morning and evening sacrifice.  David, about 400 years after the appearance of Moses, wrote:

As for me, I will call upon God, and the Lord shall save me.  Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice.
(Psalm 55:16-17)

The Jewish people turned their faces during prayer to the Holy of Holies in Jerusalem, as recorded in the books of history in the Hebrew Bible (2 Chronicles 6:34; I Kings 8:38).  The practice developed of wearing phylacteries--small boxes affixed to the left arm and the center of the forehead with leather straps--during prayer, containing verses of scripture written on parchment.  It is interesting to compare this extract from one of the four verses from Moses commonly contained in Jewish phylacteries, with the first Surih of the Qur'án, which is recited as part of the Muslim morning obligatory prayer:

And it shall be that if you diligently obey My commandments which I command you today, to love the Lord your God and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, then I will give you the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil.  And I will send grass in your fields for your livestock, that you may eat and be filled.  Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them, lest the Lord's anger be aroused against you, and He shut up the heavens so that there be no rain, and the land yield no produce, and you perish quickly from the good land which the Lord is giving you.  Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.
(Deuteronomy 11:13-18)

In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.  Praise be to God, the Lord of all the worlds, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate, the Master of the Day of Judgement; Thee alone do we worship, Thee alone do we ask for help.  Guide us unto the straight path, the path of those to whom Thou givest of Thy bounty, not of those who anger Thee, not of those who go astray.
(Surih 1:  The Opening)

The Muslim daily obligatory prayers, recited five times daily by Sunni Muslims and three times daily by Shiah Muslims, are based in part on the text of various verses sprinkled throughout the Qur'án, in part on the Traditions, as well as on stories passed down of the practices of Muhammad and His earliest followers (the Sunnah).

There are elements of prayer that I am not quoting here, in particular the spirit in which prayer is to be offered, and the general emphasis on the importance of prayer.  The Scriptures and Traditions of every Dispensation are filled with this guidance.

Christianity, having broken with the legalistic approach to religious practices displayed by the Jewish clergy of Christ's Day, focuses more on the spirit of prayer than the posture, content, or time of recitation.  The Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:9) is generally not regarded by Christians as a ritual, or a required daily prayer.

In the late 1980's after a Mexican-American Christian living in Anthony, New Mexico became a Baha'i, an angry minister came from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico to try to win her back to the fold.  He had a following of thousands, and a radio ministry.  He wanted to prove that the Bahá'í Faith was not the fulfillment of Christianity.  He began by inviting me to pray, and as I sat on the couch I fervently recited a Bahá'í prayer, hoping its beauty would touch his heart.  He then kneeled, and said his prayer.  He then triumphantly announced, "God has heard my prayer, but has not heard yours!"  I was astonished, and asked why.  He read aloud these verses of Christ:

And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites.  For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men.  Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.  But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father Who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
(Matthew 6:5-6)

And He [Jesus] was withdrawn from them about a stone's throw, and He knelt down and prayed.
(Luke 22:41)

He asked what these verses meant, and I said I thought that they meant we should not be ostentatious, seeking our reward in the praise of the people, but pray to God with sincerity in our heart.  He said that I didn't know anything, that the verses clearly say that the hypocrites *stand* when they pray, and that Jesus *knelt* when He prayed, and that if we did not follow this example, our prayers would not be heard by God! The meeting went downhill from there.  He was the blindest man I ever met--fortunately not at all characteristic of most Christians in his approach to prayer.

In my upbringing as a Catholic, our only family daily prayer together was a brief grace before meals said according to a formula promulgated by the Church; it was a very special moment together, and sweet in the memory of my brother and sisters, as well.  My mother walked a mile and back to Mass every morning for years.  When my brother went off to the Naval Academy, my father began the practice of giving his blessing at special occasions in our lives.  Following a pattern he had read of in the Bible, he stood facing my brother, with the rest of the family standing around them, placed his hands on my brother's head, and asked God's blessing and protection on him.  It was one of the most memorable events in our family's life.

Though this is a very inadequate presentation on prayer in every age, I do not think it is possible to directly compare Bahá'u'lláh's obligatory prayers to any prayers from former Dispensations.  These were revealed in a separate Tablet, with the postures, time of recitation, and direction to face specified in the Tablet.  Many details practiced by Muslims (one group performs ablutions such that the water flows from their elbows down to their hands, another group always washes so that the water flows from their hands down to their elbows) have been removed by Bahá'u'lláh, in favor of an emphasis on the qualities of the heart during ablutions and prayer.

In an effort to look for common patterns related to obligatory prayer, I have consulted two Bible dictionaries, a Bible Cyclopedic Index, several Qur'áns and their notes, Momen's "Introduction to Shi'i Islam," Philip Hitti's "Islam, A Way of Life," John Walbridge's "Sacred Acts, Sacred Space, Sacred Time," a collection of Hadith, and asked a devoted Sunni Muslim about daily prayer practices at the local masjid.  I have learned a great deal in the process, though I regret that I have conveyed very little.  It is clear that in every Dispensation prayer is "emphasized and universally enforced," but the specifics have not always been set forth in the words of the Manifestation, such that I could, in a concise way, compare them here.  I hope that to some degree I have shown that prayer is "emphasized" in every Dispensation, and to that end I have quoted at least one relevant verse related to prayer from the Jewish, Christian and Muslim Scriptures.

Paragraph 39, p. 39

The traditions established the fact that in all Dispensations the law of prayer hath constituted a fundamental element of the Revelation of all the Prophets of God--a law the form and the manner of which hath been adapted to the varying requirements of every  age. Inasmuch as every subsequent Revelation hath abolished the manners, habits, and teachings that have been clearly, specifically, and firmly established by the former Dispensation, these have accordingly been symbolically expressed in terms of 'sun' and 'moon'. "That He might prove you, which of you excel in deeds."

THE TRADITIONS ESTABLISHED THE FACT THAT IN ALL DISPENSATIONS THE LAW OF PRAYER HATH CONSTITUTED A FUNDAMENTAL ELEMENT OF THE REVELATION OF ALL THE PROPHETS OF GOD

There is this verse concerning prayer in the Law of Moses:

For you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God
(Exodus 34:14)

The following is known as Moses' "law of tithes," and includes instructions for worship:

And it shall be, when you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, and you possess it and dwell in it, that you shall take some of the first of all the produce of the ground, which you shall bring from your land that the Lord your God is giving you, and put it in a basket and go to the place where the Lord your God chooses to make His name abide.  And you shall go to the one who is priest in those days, and say to him, "I declare today to the Lord your God that I have come to the country which the Lord swore to our fathers to give us."  Then the priest shall take the basket out of your hand and set it down before the altar of the Lord your God.  And you shall answer and say before the Lord your God:  "My father was a Syrian, about to perish, and he went down to Egypt and sojourned there, few in number; and there he became a nation, great, mighty, and populous.  But the Egyptians mistreated us, afflicted us, and laid hard bondage on us.  Then we cried out to the Lord God of our fathers, and the Lord heard our voice and looked on our affliction and our labor and our oppression.  So the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm, with great terror and with signs and wonders.  He has brought us to this place and has given us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey"; and now, behold, I have brought the first fruits of the land which you, O Lord, have given me."  Then you shall set it before the Lord your God, and worship before the Lord your God.
(Deuteronomy 26:1-10)

This food was set aside for "the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless and the widow."

Jesus gave this guidance concerning prayer:

I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.  If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish?  Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?  If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!
(Jesus Christ, Gospel of Luke 11:9-13)

In Islam, the Traditions--"Hadith"--play an extremely important role for many Muslims in determining matters such as the manner of worship.  Hundreds of volumes of these recollections by believers who observed the conduct and heard the sayings of Muhammad and the Imams were transmitted orally from believer to believer, committed to memory, and eventually recorded in compiled collections.  These collections provide the chain of transmission ("isnad") from the original believer who was with the Prophet or the Imam, down to the name of the one who provided it to the compiler.  It seems to me that the practice of Nabil-i-Azam, the historian, of providing the chain of transmission of an incident he records in the Dawn-breakers, is quite similar.

Our house at the time of writing this (2004) is about three blocks from the local masjid (mosque), and Muslim men often walk by the front of the house on the way to prayer.  I notice that they never seem hurried.  Perhaps it is the result of Hadith such as this one, conveying a message well worth remembering:

Abu Qaqtadah said, "While we were saying our prayers with the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, he suddenly heard noise of running people.  When he finished the prayer, he said, 'What was the matter with you?'  They said, 'We were hastening for the prayer.'  He said, 'Do not do so.  When you come to prayer, you should be perfectly calm; then whatever part of it you overtake, say it with the imam, and complete the part that has escaped you.'"

As to the contents of the Muslim obligatory prayer, it includes the recitation of certain chapters of the Qur'án, and this practice, as Bahá'u'lláh indicates in this paragraph of the Íqán, comes from the Hádíth:

`Ubadah reported that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, said:  "There is no prayer for him who does not recite the Opening Chapter of the Book."

As to the time for recitation of the prayer, five times daily:

Ibn `Abbas reported that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, forbade prayer after the morning prayer till the sun brightens, and after `Asr till it sets.

This is likely the origin of the Muslim practice to not pray during sunrise or sunset, so that prayer is not perceived as sun-worship.

While pilgrim's notes are not suppressed in the Bahá'í Faith, and publication of the notes of early pilgrims is done with permission, these do not form a basis for Bahá'í practice or beliefs.  On the other hand, is Islam the collections of Hádíth, or Traditions, are extremely important to both.  Reliability is based on the perceived thoroughness of the compiler, and of the reliability of the believer who is the first in the chain of transmission.  Some of these Traditions are accurate, and for Bahá'ís, we know they are authentic if they are quoted by the Authors of our Revelation.  Bahá'u'lláh quotes scores of Traditions in the Íqán; many of the quotations in it without indicating a Qur'ánic reference, are such Traditions.  At the close of the Íqán (paragraphs 266-275) Bahá'u'lláh quotes several pages of Traditions concerning the Revelation of the Bab.  In my personal view, the fact that He places them at the end of the Íqán shows their relative importance; while not being suppressed, they are less important than other forms of proof.

Among the names of these compilations of Traditions, well-known to the people of the East, are Avalim, Arba`in, Biharu'l-Anvar ("Ocean of Lights") and Yanbu; all of these are referred to in the Íqán, most are mentioned in its Glossary, and are more fully explained in Mr. Dunbar's book, as well as in Moojan Momen's "Introduction to Shiih Islam."

Traditions are not a part of Bahá'í practice, as the Master has written:

Thou has written concerning the pilgrims and pilgrims' notes.  An narrative that is not authenticated by a Text should not be trusted.  Narratives, even if true, cause confusion.  For the people of Bahá, the Text, and only the Text, is authentic.
`Abdu'l-Bahá, from a Tablet, Lights of Guidance, 5th edition, p. 439 #1431)

A LAW THE FORM AND THE MANNER OF WHICH HATH BEEN ADAPTED TO THE VARYING REQUIREMENTS OF EVERY AGE

Bahá'u'lláh here provides that "acts of worship" must be observed as written in the Sacred Text:

Inasmuch as for each day there is a new problem and for every problem an expedient solution, such affairs should be referred to the House of Justice that the members thereof may act according to the needs and requirements of the time.  They that, for the sake of God, arise to serve His Cause, are the recipients of divine inspiration from the unseen Kingdom.  It is incumbent upon all to be obedient unto them.  All matters of State should be referred to the House of Justice, but acts of worship must be observed according to that which God hath revealed in His Book.
(From the Eighth Israq of the Tablet of Ishraqat, accounted as part of the Most Holy Book, Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 91)

The last sentence appears to indicate that acts of worship are beyond the proper sphere of the Universal House of Justice.  However, the Guardian, the definer of the sphere of the Universal House of Justice, wrote through his secretary that the Universal House of Justice has legislative responsibilities related to the obligatory prayers:

First, with regard to your questions concerning the obligatory prayers, the "Aqdas" does not give detailed instructions about them.  The Universal House of Justice, however, will have to define the exact time for their recital, and lay down, if required, other detailed instructions concerning their use.  One of the three obligatory prayers should be recited.  This is an obligation.  But individual believers are absolutely free to choose any one of them.  There is no particular time of day fixed for the reading of the long prayer.
(From a letter dated 10 October 1936 written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, quoted in a memorandum from the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice dated 25 June 1995))

Know thou that in every word and movement of the obligatory prayer there are allusions, mysteries and a wisdom that man is unable to comprehend, and letters and scrolls cannot contain.
(From a Tablet by `Abdu'l-Bahá, Compilation on Prayer and Meditation, Compilation of Compilations, Volume II, p. 233, #1748)

He would advise you to only use the short midday Obligatory Prayer. This has no genuflections and only requires that when saying it the believer turn his face towards `Akká where Bahá'u'lláh is buried. This is a physical symbol of an inner reality, just as the plant stretches out to the sunlight--from which it receives life and growth--so we turn our hearts to the Manifestation of God, Bahá'u'lláh, when we pray; and we turn our faces, during this short prayer, to where His dust lies on this earth as a symbol of the inner act....
Bahá'u'lláh has reduced all ritual and form to an absolute minimum in His Faith. The few forms that there are--like those associated with the two longer obligatory daily prayers--are only symbols of the inner attitude. There is a wisdom in them, and a great blessing, but we cannot force ourselves to understand or feel these things, that is why He gave us also the very short and simple prayer, for those who did not feel the desire to perform the acts associated with the other two.
(From a letter on the Guardian's behalf dated 24 June 1949 to an individual believer, Compilation on Prayer and Meditation, Compilation of Compilations, Volume II, p. 242, #1780)

In Shiih Islam, during the prostrations in obligatory prayers the forehead must be placed on dust or the earth, and preferably on a small cylindrical block of baked clay from the earth of Karbila, the city where the Imam Husayn was martyred; Sunni Moslems pray on carpets.  The piece of baked clay used by the Báb is in the Bahá'í Archives building on Mount Carmel.  In this Dispensation, Bahá'u'lláh has removed the practices built up over the centuries:

God hath granted you leave to prostrate yourselves on any surface that is clean, for We have removed in this regard the limitation that had been laid down in the Book ...
(The Kitáb-i-Aqdas p. 23, paragraph 10)

It is important to not add back into religion, what the Manifestation has taken out.  That is, we do not add any ceremonies or rituals not prescribed in the Sacred Texts.  Bahá'u'lláh made this statement, apparently the source of the practice of reciting 500 Removers of Difficulty:

"Bid them recite: 'Is there any Remover of difficulties save God? Say: Praised be God! He is God! All are His servants, and all abide by His bidding!' Tell them to repeat it five hundred times, nay, a thousand times, by day and by night, sleeping and waking, that haply the Countenance of Glory may be unveiled to their eyes, and tiers of light descend upon them."
(Quoted in God Passes By, p 119)

The House of Justice ensures that the Bahá'ís do not add anything to the laws set forth in the revealed Text.  In this connection, the House of Justice has written:

On page 1 of your October News letter you have quoted the Báb's prayer for the removal of difficulties and have added:  "Bahá'u'lláh has said to repeat this prayer 500 times by day and night that it may aid us to recognize Him and our souls will be illumined."
The above statement gives the impression that the repetition of the said prayer 500 times is one of the prescribed devotionals of the Faith, and has a specified effect on the believer who observes this form of prayer.
We do not feel it is justified to infer such conclusions from the reference in "God Passes By," page 119, which you mention.  The passage in question obviously refers to a specific circumstance in the life of Bahá'u'lláh in Baghdad before the declaration of His Mission, and should not be presented to the believers as one of the prescribed observances of the faith.
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, November 24, 1971; Lights of Guidance, 5th edition, p. 467, #1528)

The Guardian also had authority to make pronouncements concerning the details in application of the law of prayer:

As regards the Obligatory Prayers, the friends in the West should continue to use them exactly as they have been doing, and as is set forth in the remarks in parentheses which accompany the prayers in the book "Prayers and Meditations".  The Guardian himself will, whenever he sees fit, and considers the time is ripe, inform the friends in such matters in greater detail.
(Unfolding Destiny, p. 309)

The Master has pointed out the value of observing the instructions for the Obligatory Prayers:

"Know thou that in every word and movement of the obligatory prayer there are allusions, mysteries and a wisdom that man is unable to comprehend, and letters and scrolls cannot contain."
('Abdu'l-Baha, Compilation on Prayer and Meditation, Compilation of Compilations, Volume II, p. 233, #1748)

The Guardian has observed the importance of prayer in every Dispensation:

It is this condition, so sadly morbid, into which society has fallen, that religion seeks to improve and transform. For the core of religious faith is that mystic feeling that unites man with God. This state of spiritual communion can be brought about and maintained by means of meditation and prayer. And this is the reason why Bahá'u'lláh has so much stressed the importance of worship. It is not sufficient for a believer to merely accept and observe the teachings. He should, in addition, cultivate the sense of spirituality, which he can acquire chiefly by the means of prayer. The Bahá'í Faith, like all other Divine religions, is thus fundamentally mystic in character. Its chief goal is the development of the individual and society, through the acquisition of spiritual virtues and powers. It is the soul of man that has first to be fed. And this spiritual nourishment prayer can best provide....  The believers, particularly the young ones, should therefore fully realize the necessity of praying. For prayer is absolutely indispensable to their inner spiritual development, and this, already stated, is the very foundation and purpose of the Religion of God.
(Letter dated 8 December 1935 to an individual believer, Compilation on Prayer and Meditation, Compilation of Compilations, Volume II, p. 238)



Paragraph 40, pp. 39-40

Moreover, in the traditions the terms "sun" and "moon" have been applied to prayer and fasting, even as it is said: "Fasting is illumination, prayer is light." One day, a well-known divine came to visit Us. While We were conversing with him, he referred to the above- quoted tradition. He said: "Inasmuch as fasting causeth the heat of the body to increase, it hath therefore been likened unto the light of the sun; and as the prayer of the night-season refresheth man, it hath been compared unto the radiance of the moon." Thereupon We realized that that poor man had not been favoured with a single drop of the ocean of true understanding, and had strayed far from the burning Bush of divine wisdom. We then politely observed to him saying: "The interpretation your honour hath given to this tradition is the one current amongst the people. Could it not be interpreted differently?" He asked Us: "What could it be?" We made reply: "Muhammad, the Seal of the Prophets, and the most distinguished of God's chosen Ones, hath likened the Dispensation of the Qur'an unto heaven, by reason of its loftiness, its paramount influence, its majesty, and the fact that it comprehendeth all religions. And as the sun and moon constitute the brightest and most prominent luminaries in the heavens, similarly in the heaven of the religion of God two shining orbs have been ordained--fasting and prayer. "Islam is heaven; fasting is its sun, prayer, its moon."


ONE DAY, A WELL-KNOWN DIVINE CAME TO VISIT US

In this paragraph, Baha'u'llah quotes two Traditions from Muhammad concerning the influence of fasting.  The learned ones of His Day often sought Him out:

Ere long had elapsed the most eminent doctors of those regions got some inkling of His circumstances and conditions, and conversed with Him on the solution of certain difficult questions connected with the most abstruse points of theology.  Having witnessed on His part ample signs and satisfactory explanations they observed towards Him the utmost respectfulness and deference.  In consequence of this He acquired a great fame and wonderful reputation in those regions ...
(`Abdu'l-Baha, A Travellers' Narrative, p. 38)

For eleven years and somewhat over, Baha'u'llah abode in 'Iraq-i-'Arab.  The behavior and conduct of the sect were such that [His] fame and renown increased.  For He was manifest and apparent amongst men, consorted and associated with all parties, and would converse familiarly with doctors and scholars concerning the solution of difficult theological questions and the verification of the true sense of abstruse points of divinity.  As is currently reported by persons of every class, He used to please all, whether inhabitants or visitors, by His kindly intercourse and courteous address ...
(`Abdu'l-Baha, A Travellers' Narrative, p. 53)

"The room of the Most Great House," that same chronicler [Nabil] has recorded, "set apart for the reception of Baha'u'llah's visitors, though dilapidated, and having long since outgrown its usefulness, vied, through having been trodden by the blessed footsteps of the Well Beloved, with the Most Exalted Paradise.  Low-roofed, it yet seemed to reach to the stars, and though it boasted but a single couch, fashioned from the branches of palms, whereon He Who is the King of Names was wont to sit, it drew to itself, even as a lodestone, the hearts of the princes."
It was this same reception room which, in spite of its rude simplicity, had so charmed [one of the princes] that he had expressed to his fellow-princes his intention of building a duplicate of it in his home in Kazimayn."He may well succeed," Baha'u'llah is reported to have smilingly remarked when apprized of this intention, "in reproducing outwardly the exact counterpart of this low-roofed room made of mud and straw with its diminutive garden.  What of his ability to open onto it the spiritual doors leading to the hidden worlds of God!"
(God Passes By, pp. 134-135)


FASTING IS ILLUMINATION
From a Hádíth of Muhammad. “Illumination” in the original is ›¤ýÒ
It is translated as “splendor” in this verse from Arabic Hidden Words 32: “I made the light to shed on thee its splendor.”  It is often translated as “rays” of the sun (e.g. the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 42)

PRAYER IS LIGHT  ½ôò ùôëÍì£ Salát is núr.

A SINGLE DROP OF THE OCEAN OF TRUE UNDERSTANDING üò¤Ùï ma`aní

The word ma’aní is elsewhere translated by Shoghi Effendi as meaning, commentaries, mysteries, inner meaning, significances, interpretations, divine knowledge, deeper import, implication, mystic chalice PHW 70, mystic holiness PHW 79, clear and unmistakable evidence (also see ESW notes p. 113). This verse calls to mind the opening words of the first paragraph of the Íqán,

No man shall attain the shores of the ocean of true understanding except he be detached from all that is in heaven and on earth.



THE INTERPRETATION YOUR HONOUR HATH GIVEN TO THIS TRADITION IS THE ONE CURRENT AMONGST THE PEOPLE

Thou dost witness how most of the commentaries and interpretations of the words of God, now current amongst men, are devoid of truth.
(From the Tablet, "In the Name of the Friend without a name," revealed to Zaynu'l-Muqarrabin, Gleanings, p. 171)

Thou knowest full well that We perused not the books which men possess and We acquired not the learning current amongst them, and yet whenever We desire to quote the sayings of the learned and of the wise, presently there will appear before the face of thy Lord in the form of a tablet all that which hath appeared in the world and is revealed in the Holy Books and Scriptures. Thus do We set down in writing that which the eye perceiveth. Verily His knowledge encompasseth the earth and the heavens.
(The Tablet of Wisdom, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 148-149)

THE DISPENSATION OF THE QUR'ÁN

...you count the period of the Christian Dispensation as having lasted for 1844 years.  As in the Bahá'í teachings Muhammad is considered as an independent prophet of God, you have to consider His Dispensation as having begun in 622 A.D.  The Christian Dispensation must, therefore, end in 622 A.D. and from that date till 1844 is the era of Muhammad.
(From a letter on behalf of the Guardian, Unfolding Destiny, p. 432)

You state that the Christian Dispensation "was six hundred and twenty-two years old at the time of the Hegira".  The Guardian suggests that the words "at the time of the Hegira" be omitted as they may give the impression that the Revelation of Christ extended beyond the date of the Hegira.
(From a letter on behalf of the Guardian, Unfolding Destiny, p. 433)

SIMILARLY IN THE HEAVEN OF THE RELIGION OF GOD TWO SHINING ORBS HAVE BEEN ORDAINED--FASTING AND PRAYER

Fasting and obligatory prayer constitute the two pillars that sustain the revealed law of God.  Bahá'u'lláh in one of His Tablets affirms that He has revealed the laws of obligatory prayer and fasting so that through them the believers may draw nigh unto God.
(Note 25, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 176)

In truth, I say that obligatory prayer and fasting occupy an exalted station in the sight of God.
(Bahá'u'lláh, Tablet of Questions and Answers, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 134)


Paragraph 41, page 41

This is the purpose underlying the symbolic words of the Manifestations of God. Consequently, the application of the terms "sun" and "moon" to the things already mentioned hath been demonstrated and justified by the text of the sacred verses and the recorded traditions. Hence, it is clear and manifest that by the words "the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven" is intended the waywardness of the divines, and the annulment of laws firmly established by divine Revelation, all of which, in symbolic language, have been foreshadowed by the Manifestation of God. None except the righteous shall partake of this cup, none but the godly can share therein. "The righteous shall drink of a cup tempered at the camphor fountain."


THE PURPOSE UNDERLYING THE SYMBOLIC WORDS OF THE MANIFESTATIONS OF GOD

Jesus said to His disciples,

"To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that `seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.'"
(Luke 8:10, quoting Isaiah 6:9)

And he [the Lord] said, "Go your way Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.  Many shall be purified, made white, and refined; but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand."
(Daniel 12:9-10)

As to this last verse from Daniel, that only the "wise" will understand, Bahá'u'lláh confirms this in the last words of this paragraph:  "None except the righteous shall partake of this cup, none but the godly can share therein."

A further insight into the reason for allegories is contained in these words of `Abdu'l-Bahá:

"Divine things are too deep to be expressed by common words.  The heavenly teachings are expressed in parable in order to be understood and preserved for ages to come.  When the spiritually minded dive deeply into the ocean of their meaning they bring to the surface the pearls of their inner significance.  There is no greater pleasure than to study God's word with a spiritual mind."
(`Abdu'l-Bahá quoted in the compilation, "The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith", p. 18)

BY THE WORDS "THE SUN SHALL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON SHALL NOT GIVE HER LIGHT, AND THE STARS SHALL FALL FROM HEAVEN" IS INTENDED THE WAYWARDNESS OF THE DIVINES

It shall come to pass in that day that the Lord will punish on high the host of exalted ones ... then the moon will be disgraced and the sun ashamed.
(Isaiah 24:21-23)

Behold, the day of the Lord comes, cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate; and He will destroy its sinners from it.  For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be darkened in its going forth, and the moon will not cause its light to shine.
(Isaiah 13:9-10)

St. John the Divine wrote:

And he [the angel] carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God.... And the city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it, and the Lamb is its light.
(Revelation 21:10-23)

Bahá'u'lláh confirms that the prophecies that "God Himself" will come to the earth (e.g., Revelation 21:3) are fulfilled by Him (Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, pp. 111-112; Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 114-116)

Prepare to meet your God, O Israel!  For behold, He who forms mountains, and creates the wind, who declares to man what his thought is, and makes the morning darkness, who treads the high places of the earth -- the Lord God of hosts is His name.
(Amos 4:13)

Mr. Taherzadeh paraphrases from a Tablet of Bahá'u'lláh interpreting this Bible verse:

Amos, another prophet of Israel, refers to Bahá'u'lláh in Constantinople when he says: "For, lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought, that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, the Lord, the God of hosts, is his name."  In one of His Tablets revealed in `Akká Bahá'u'lláh states that this prophecy refers to Him ... and that the "high places of the earth" are Constantinople and the Holy Land (Mount Carmel).  Furthermore, alluding to Mirza Yahya whose title was Subh-i-Azal (Morning of Eternity), He asserts that through His power the untrue morn was completely darkened.
(Adib Taherzadeh, the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, Volume II, p. 2, quoting Bahá'u'lláh in Ma`idiy-i-Asamani)


"THE RIGHTEOUS SHALL DRINK OF A CUP TEMPERED AT THE CAMPHOR FOUNTAIN."

This image comes from this verse of the Qur'án:

As to the Righteous, they shall drink of a Cup (of Wine) mixed with Kafur -- a Fountain where the Devotees of God do drink, making it flow in unstinted abundance.
(Qur'án 76:5 6)

The following note was written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice:

The word camphor derives from Arabic "kafur," as in Qur'án 76:5. Camphor has been used as a refreshing tonic in Eastern medicine.
(Footnote, "Bahiyyih Khanum," p. 130)

The Greatest Holy Leaf wrote in a letter to the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Tabriz:

Over a span of thirty years the Centre of God's Covenant rested not, nor was His human temple ever tranquil and at peace.  By day, by night, He would be teaching and guiding stranger and friend alike, and protecting the Cause, and seeing to its progress, and for these things He sacrificed His life. Now does loyalty to Him require that the beloved should rise up in obedience to His instructions, and devote their efforts to teaching the Faith, and to passing around from one to the next this winecup tempered at the camphor fountain, and to protecting God's Cause from the evil suggestions and the mischief of the adversary, and to guarding the structure of the holy Covenant from disruption at the hands of the Covenant-breakers.  Now is the time to stand as an impregnable rampart around the city of the Cause of God ...
("Bahiyyih Khanum," p. 130)

`Abdu'l-Bahá frequently uses this image.  Writing of one of the devoted believers, Shaykh Sadiq of Yazd, He says:

This personified spirit lived contentedly in `Iraq until the day when Bahá'u'lláh's convoy wended its way out of Baghdad.  As bidden, Sadiq remained behind in that city. But his longing beat so passionately within him that after the arrival of Bahá'u'lláh at Mosul, he could endure the separation no more.  Shoeless, hatless, he ran out alongside the courier going to Mosul; ran and ran until, on that barren plain, with mercy all about him, he fell to his rest. May God give him to drink from "a wine cup tempered at the camphor fountain," and send down crystal waters on his grave; may God perfume his dust in that desert place with musk, and cause to descend there range on range of light.
(Memorials of the Faithful, p. 44; see also Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 254 and 278)

`Abdu'l-Bahá also prayed for intercession to the martyrs of the Faith:

I beg you to intercede on my behalf in the presence of the ever-living, sovereign Lord that He may graciously suffer me to quaff my fill from the choice sealed wine, may grant me a portion from the unbounded felicity that ye enjoy and may exhilarate my heart by giving me to drink from your chalice which is tempered at the Camphor Fountain. Verily my Lord is merciful and forgiving.
(Compilation on martyrdom, "Fire and Light," p. 31)

The Prophet Muhammad promised that pilgrims to `Akká would drink of this promised camphor.  The site of the "Spring of the Cow" (now dry--named after a tradition that Adam watered his cow here) lies just outside of the walled city of `Akká, not far from the Garden of Ridvan.  Bahá'u'lláh quotes regarding it from Islamic Traditions:

The Apostle of God - may the blessings of God and His salutations be upon Him - is reported to have said: "Blessed the man that hath visited `Akká, and blessed he that hath visited the visitor of `Akká. Blessed the one that hath drunk from the Spring of the Cow and washed in its waters, for the black-eyed damsels quaff the camphor in Paradise, which hath come from the Spring of the Cow, and from the Spring of Salvan (Siloam), and the Well of Zamzam. Well is it with him that hath drunk from these springs, and washed in their waters, for God hath forbidden the fire of hell to touch him and his body on the Day of Resurrection."
(Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, pp. 179-180)

I personally feel that these images refer to Bahá'u'lláh Himself, and to those with pure hearts who attained His presence and drank from His Revelation.  As Bahá'u'lláh revealed in the Seven Valleys:

... if those who have come to the sea of His presence are found to possess none of the limited things of this perishable world, whether it be outer wealth or personal opinions, it mattereth not. For whatever the creatures have is limited by their own limits, and whatever the True One hath is sanctified therefrom; this utterance must be deeply pondered that its purport may be clear. "Verily the righteous shall drink of a winecup tempered at the camphor fountain." If the interpretation of "camphor" become known, the true intention will be evident.
(The Valley of True Poverty and Absolute Nothingness, The Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys, pp. 36-37)

Paragraph 42, pp. 41-42

It is unquestionable that in every succeeding Revelation the "sun" and "moon" of the teachings, laws, commandments, and prohibitions which have been established in the preceding Dispensation, and which have overshadowed the people of that age, become darkened, that is, are exhausted, and cease to exert their influence. Consider now, had the people of the Gospel recognized the meaning of the symbolic terms "sun" and "moon," had they sought, unlike the froward and perverse, enlightenment from Him Who is the Revealer of divine knowledge, they would have surely comprehended the purpose of these terms, and would not have become afflicted and oppressed by the darkness of their selfish desires. Yea, but since they have failed to acquire true knowledge from its very Source, they have perished in the perilous vale of waywardness and misbelief. They still have not awakened to perceive that all the signs foretold have been made manifest, that the promised Sun hath risen above the horizon of divine Revelation, and that the "sun" and "moon" of the teachings, the laws, and learning of a former Dispensation have darkened and set.

THE TEACHINGS, LAWS, COMMANDMENTS, AND PROHIBITIONS WHICH HAVE BEEN ESTABLISHED

"This Book," [Aqdas] He Himself testifies, "is a heaven which We have adorned with the stars of Our commandments and prohibitions."
(God Passes By, p. 216)


HAD THEY SOUGHT, UNLIKE THE FROWARD AND PERVERSE, ENLIGHTENMENT FROM HIM WHO IS THE REVEALER OF DIVINE KNOWLEDGE, THEY WOULD HAVE SURELY COMPREHENDED THE PURPOSE OF THESE TERMS

Please compare this verse from earlier in the Íqán:

Had they sought with a humble mind from the Manifestations of God in every Dispensation the true meaning of these words revealed in the sacred Books ... they surely would have ... discovered the mysteries of divine knowledge and wisdom.
(Íqán paragraph 26)

Jesus said to the Jews of His Day:

You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.  But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.  I do not receive honor from men.  But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you.  I have come in My Father's name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive.  How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God?  Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is One who accuses you--Moses, in whom you trust.  For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for He wrote about Me.  But if you do not believe His Writings, how will you believe My words?"
(John 5:39-47)

If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.
(Luke 16:31)

The incident comes to mind of the believers walking on the road to Emmaus, who attempted to use their own reason to comprehend the mystery of Christ's sacrifice on the cross, and failed to attain their goal; then they sought the explanation of the Word of God from Jesus, and attained to faith:

So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them.  But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him.... [They said] "But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel." ... Then beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.... He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.  Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him ...
(Luke 24:13-32)


SINCE THEY HAVE FAILED TO ACQUIRE TRUE KNOWLEDGE FROM ITS VERY SOURCE, THEY HAVE PERISHED IN THE PERILOUS VALE OF WAYWARDNESS AND MISBELIEF. THEY STILL HAVE NOT AWAKENED

Bahá'u'lláh here introduces a theme that He develops extensively in paragraphs 114-128: That the term "death" (and "sleeping") in the Scriptures signifies unbelief.

... [Jesus] was seen by the twelve.  After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep.
(First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians 15:5-6.  The Greek word translated as "fallen asleep" also means "died."  Also see I Thessalonians 4:13)

He will lift up a banner to the nations from afar, and will whistle to them from the end of the earth; surely they shall come with speed, swiftly.  No one will be weary or stumble among them, no one will slumber or sleep ...
(Isaiah 5:26-27)

Your shepherds slumber, O king of Assyria; your nobles rest in the dust.  Your people are scattered on the mountains, and no one gathers them.
(Nahum 3:18)

Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.  Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish.  Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.  But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.
(Words of Jesus, Matthew 25:1-5)

On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, "Let us cross over to the other side."  Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was.  And other little boats were also with Him.  And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling.  But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow.  And they awoke Him and said to Him, "Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?"  Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace, be still!"  And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.  But He said to them, "Why are you so fearful?  How is it that you have no faith?"  And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, "Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!"
(Mark 4:35-41)


THE PROMISED SUN HATH RISEN ABOVE THE HORIZON OF DIVINE REVELATION

"I have asked the Guardian concerning the exact meaning of the word 'Dayspring'.  Literally it means 'Dawn'.  It is sometimes used in the sense of 'Horizon' or 'Rising point', and taken figuratively it is equivalent to fountain or source.  It can also be used as referring to a Manifestation of God, as in the following expression 'Dayspring of Truth'."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 19, 1935; Lights of Guidance, 5th edition, p. 480, #1582)


THEY STILL HAVE NOT AWAKENED TO PERCEIVE THAT ALL THE SIGNS FORETOLD HAVE BEEN MADE MANIFEST

Gracious God! Perspicuous signs have appeared on every side, and yet men are, for the most part, deprived of the privilege of beholding and of comprehending them. We beseech God to bestow His aid, that all men may recognize the pearls that lie hid within the shells of the Most Great Ocean, and exclaim: "Praised be Thou, O God of the world!"
(Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 150)

Rejoice, then, O ye beloved of the Lord and His chosen ones, and ye the children of God and His people, raise your voices to laud and magnify the Lord, the Most High; for His light hath beamed forth, His signs have appeared and the billows of His rising ocean have scattered on every shore many a precious pearl.
(Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 13)

All the signs appeared when We drew forth the Hand of Power from the bosom of majesty and might. Verily, the Crier hath cried out, when the promised time came, and they that have recognized the splendors of Sinai have swooned away in the wilderness of hesitation, before the awful majesty of thy Lord, the Lord of creation.
(Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, pp. 132-133)

A fire from the Kingdom hath been kindled in the heart of the world, in the Blessed Tree, whose flame shall ere long set aglow the pillars of the earth and its rays illumine the horizons of the nations. All the signs have appeared, all the prophetic references have become clear, all that was revealed in the Books and Scriptures hath become fully manifest, and there is no ground for any one to hesitate in regard thereto.
(`Abdu'l-Bahá, "Baha'i World Faith," p. 354)

"Has your teacher," He [the Báb] further enquired, "given you any detailed indications as to the distinguishing features of the promised One?" "Yes," I  [Mulla Husayn] replied, "He is of a pure lineage, is of illustrious descent, and of the seed of Fatimih. As to His age, He is more than twenty and less than thirty. He is endowed with innate knowledge. He is of medium height, abstains from smoking, and is free from bodily deficiency." He paused for a while and then with vibrant voice declared: "Behold, all these signs are manifest in Me!"
(The Dawn-Breakers, p. 57)

This Day all the signs have appeared. A Great City hath descended from heaven, and Zion trembleth and exulteth with joy at the Revelation of God, for it hath heard the Voice of God on every side.
(Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 145)

Paragraph 43, pp. 42-43

And now, with fixed gaze and steady wings enter thou the way of certitude and truth. "Say: It is God; then leave them to entertain themselves with their cavilings." Thus, wilt thou be accounted of those companions of whom He saith: "They that say 'Our Lord is God,' and continue steadfast in His way, upon them, verily, shall the angels descend." Then shalt thou witness all these mysteries with thine own eyes.

WITH FIXED GAZE AND STEADY WINGS

ðýäýì£ íëÚ `ilm al-yaqín literally, with knowledge of certitude (the word yaqín is derived from the word íqán), with knowledge of certitude.  In Islamic spiritual literature there is a hierarchy of knowledge of God, illustrated in this classic story of the moths and the candle:

One night, the moths met together tormented by a desire to be united to the candle.  They said: 'We must send someone who will bring us information about the object of our amorous quest.' So one of them set off and came to a castle, and inside he saw the light of a candle.  He returned, and according to his understanding, reported what he had seen.  But the wise moth who presided over the gathering expressed the opinion that he understood nothing about the candle.  So another moth went there. He touched the flame with the tip of his wings, but the heat drove him off.  His report being no more satisfying than that of the first, a third went out.  This one, intoxicated with love, threw himself on the flame; with his forelegs he took hold of the flame and united himself joyously with her.  He embraced her completely and his body became as red as fire. The wise moth, who was watching from far off, saw that the flame and the moth appeared to be one, and he said:  'He has learnt what he wished to know; but only he understands, and one can say no more.'"
(Attar, The Conference of the Birds (Shambala Books, Berkeley, 1971), page 125, from "The Seventh Valley or The Valley of Deprivation and Death")

The level attained by the first moth is referred to as `ilm al-yaqín, the "knowledge of certitude".  This is the certitude of things reached by reasoning or inference. `Ayn al-yaqín, literally the "eye of certitude" is the certitude of things reached by witnessing them with one's own eyes. In Islamic literature, the highest attainment is haqq al-yaqín, the truth of certitude, or the reality of certitude, or absolute certitude.  This is the certitude reached by personal experience.

Dr. Iraj Ayman wrote the following to a Bahá'í discussion list:

1. There is a quotation in Fadil Mazandarani's Asráru'l-Asar Vol.4 pages 365-6 which includes Núru'l-Yaqín. It gives the following example. If in an open space a smoke could be seen in a distance we will be certain that there is a fire. This is "`Ilmu'l-Yaqín" (knowledge of Certitude). If we go closer and we can see the fire with our own eyes we reach the station of "Aynu'l-Yaqín" (Sight Certitude). When we go even closer and can touch the fire we get to the level of "Haqqu'l-Yaqín" (Reality of Certitude). If we enter the fire and we gain the effects of fire we get to the station of "Núru'l-Yaqín" (Light of Certitude). Then it is added that `urafá (mystics) have only mentioned the first three levels. In the Islamic mysticism there are detailed commentaries on these three stations of certitude.
2. Núru'l-Yaqín is mentioned, for the first time, by Shaikh Ahmad Ahsá'i in his book, Sharhuz-Ziyareh Vol. 2 page 237 in a quote from Imam Sádeqh. This expression has then been used by the Báb in His Commentary on Ghanna and later by Bahá'u'lláh in several of His Writings. However in each one of these instances this term is used with slightly different connotation.
3. There is also an allusion to "light" because Bahá’ in addition to "glory" also means "light". In the literature of mysticism "light" has a very exalted station. Since in Qur'án it is said that God is the light of earth and heaven, light is considered the most important name of God. Núru'l-Yaqín as used in Shayhki-Bábi-Bahá'í literature is an allusion to certitude in recognizing the Manifestation of God and conveys the connotation of drawing nigh unto God.

The terms `ilm al-yaqín and ayn al-yaqín appear in the verse translated by Shoghi Effendi as “with fixed gaze and steady wings”.

`Ilm al-yaqin is also translated by Shoghi Effendi as “Positive Knowledge” in the verse, “the wayfarers that tread the path of Positive Knowledge” on page 195 of the Íqán, paragraph 215.  In the verse of the Íqán describing what the True Seeker will attain (paragraph 108, page 196), Shoghi Effendi translates as “the stations of absolute certitude” the verse of Bahá'u'lláh which combines sight certitude and the reality of certitude and the light of certitude (ayn al-yaqín and haqq al-yaqín and núr al-yaqín).

“He will contemplate the manifest signs of the universe, and will penetrate the hidden mysteries of the soul. Gazing with the eye of God, he will perceive within every atom a door that leadeth him to the stations of absolute certitude.”

These terms appear in Súrihs 69 and 102 of the Qur'án.  This imagery is frequently used in the Bahá'í Writings:


"In truth those that are guided solely by their reason would be unable to perceive the sweetness of this cup, but the ardent lovers will be overjoyed and enraptured by the holy ecstasy which this wondrous draught doth produce. Every discerning observer who hath gazed upon the countenance of that graceful Beloved was prompted to lay down his life as a martyr, and every receptive ear which had hearkened unto that celestial melody suffered its listener to become so enravished with joy as to offer up himself without hesitation as a sacrifice. The moth which is animated by love will burn its wings as it flitteth round the lamp of God and the phoenix of tender affection will be set ablaze by the fire of ardent desire. No unfamiliar bird can partake of the heat of this Fire, nor can the fowls that dwell upon the dust plunge forth into this heavenly Ocean. However, praise be unto God, ye are the leviathans of this ocean, the birds of this pasture, the moths of this lamp, the nightingales of this meadow.  And upon ye rest the glory of the Most Glorious!"
(Excerpt from a Tablet by `Abdu'l-Bahá, from the compilation on martyrdom "Fire and Light", Bahá'í World, Vol. 18, p. 26)  (Also see Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 236)

"The everlasting Candle shineth in its naked glory. Behold how it hath consumed every mortal veil. O ye moth like lovers of His light!  Brave every danger, and consecrate your souls to its consuming flame."  (Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 321, Section CLI)


 Let us take for our example the great and sacred Tree of the exalted Báb--may my life be offered up for Him.  Like Him let us bare our breasts to the shafts of agony, like Him make our hearts to be targets for the spears decreed by God.  Let us, like candles, burn away; as moths, let us scorch our wings; as the field larks, vent our plaintive cries; as the nightingales, burst forth in lamentations.
Even as the clouds let us shed down tears, and as the
lightning flashes let us laugh at our coursings through east
and west.  By day, by night, let us think but of spreading
the sweet savours of God.
(Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 236)


AND NOW, WITH FIXED GAZE AND STEADY WINGS ENTER THOU THE WAY OF CERTITUDE AND TRUTH

Please compare this verse we read earlier in the Íqán:

With fixed and steady gaze, born of the unerring eye of God, scan for a while the horizon of divine knowledge, and contemplate those words of perfection which the Eternal hath revealed ...
(Íqán, paragraph 16, page 16; paragraph 65, page 61, ends with a similar passage)

When believers would enter the presence of `Abdu'l-Bahá, some would fix their gaze on Him, and not for any reason look at anything or anyone else.  I personally believe that this is a sign of the beatific vision in the next realm.

Fix your gaze upon Him Who is the Temple of God amongst men. He, in truth, hath offered up His life as a ransom for the redemption of the world.
(Gleanings, p. 315)

Number me, O my God, with those who are privileged to fix their gaze upon Thy beauty and who take such delight therein that they would not exchange a single moment thereof with the sovereignty of the kingdom of heavens and earth or with the entire realm of creation.
(Selections from the Writings of the Bab, p. 216)

I have read that Muslims approached the practice of their faith in three ways:  The approach of the Law, the Path, or the Truth.  If memory serves correctly, those who focused on the Law strove to draw near to God by strict observance of the spirit and the letter of the revealed commandments and prohibitions; those who trod the Path, strove to follow the example of the conduct of the Manifestation; and those who followed the Truth were the mystics who sought only the inner state of communion with God.  Bahá'u'lláh refers to these in the Seventh Valley, the Valley of True Poverty and Absolute Nothingness ("The Seven Valleys," pp. 40-41).  Muhammad is reported to have said (my paraphrase from a book I once read, the title of which I cannot recall), "My Word is the Law; My deeds the Path; and My inner state the Truth."

The Book of Certitude is not only an explanation of the hidden meanings of the symbols in Scripture; it is the call of the Beloved.  It offers the cup of certitude to those who fulfill its requirements, and shows us the Way of God.  To me, this paragraph is one of those verses in the Íqán, where the Pen of Bahá'u'lláh, breaking with the flow of explanation, flies upward with divine poetry and takes the soul of the attentive reader with it.  This paragraph is, to me, a summons to the inner state of certitude.  Prayerful reflection on such verses is the healing medicine for doubt and skepticism.  `Abdu'l-Bahá reportedly said that prayer is like music--sometimes you listen more to the words, sometimes more to the melody.  To me, this brief paragraph and the next are not explanatory; they invite us to be intoxicated with the melody of the Divine Nightingale.

"SAY: IT IS GOD; THEN LEAVE THEM TO ENTERTAIN THEMSELVES WITH THEIR CAVILINGS"

This verse from Surih 6 of the Qur'án, was revealed in connection with the objection raised by the Jewish clergy in Mecca, that God had not sent down a Revelation to Muhammad.  He replied that just as God had sent down a Revelation to Moses, He had sent one down to Him; then He revealed the above verse.  If I may offer a personal observation, Bahá'u'lláh, in quoting this Qur'ánic verse, is calling the people to belief in this Revelation, to accept the certitude He offers, and leave the people to cavil--to quibble over trifles.

THUS, WILT THOU BE ACCOUNTED OF THOSE COMPANIONS OF WHOM HE SAITH: "THEY THAT SAY 'OUR LORD IS GOD,' AND CONTINUE STEADFAST IN HIS WAY, UPON THEM, VERILY, SHALL THE ANGELS DESCEND."

Many of the Qur'ánic verses Bahá'u'lláh quotes, were quite familiar to the people to whom He originally addressed the Íqán.  It may help those of us from the West to briefly consider the context.  In the 41st Súrih of the Qur'án, the Súrih "Made Plain" or "Explained," Muhammad speaks of the peoples of the past who had rejected the Prophets God had sent.  "We showed them the right way, but they preferred blindness to guidance." (41:17)  Then, Muhammad contrasts the punishment for those who reject God's guidance, with the benefits of acceptance:

But as for those who say, "Our Lord is God," and who go straight to Him, the angels shall descend to them and say, "Fear ye not, neither be ye grieved, but rejoice ye in the paradise which ye have been promised."
(Qur'án 41:30)

`Abdu'l-Bahá has explained the meaning of "angels:"

If a small number of people gather lovingly together, with absolute purity and sanctity, with their hearts free of the world, experiencing the emotions of the Kingdom and the powerful magnetic forces of the Divine, and being at one in their happy fellowship, that gathering will exert its influence over all the earth. The nature of that band of people, the words they speak, the deeds they do, will unleash the bestowals of Heaven, and provide a foretaste of eternal bliss.  The hosts of the Company on high will defend them, and the angels of the Abhá Paradise, in continuous succession, will come down to their aid.  The meaning of "angels" is the confirmations of God and His celestial powers.
(Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 81.  Bahá'u'lláh explains the meaning of "angels" in paragraphs 86-88 of the Íqán)


Paragraph 44, p. 43

O my brother! Take thou the step of the spirit, so that, swift as the twinkling of an eye, thou mayest flash through the wilds of remoteness and bereavement, attain the Ridvan of everlasting reunion, and in one breath commune with the heavenly Spirits. For with human feet thou canst never hope to traverse these immeasurable distances, nor attain thy goal. Peace be upon him whom the light of truth guideth unto all truth, and in the name of God, standeth in the path of His Cause, upon the shore of true understanding.

O MY BROTHER

One of the references in this Book to the recipient of the Íqán, Hájí  Mirza Siyyid Muhammad, as well as perhaps to the entire human race, addressed through him.

TAKE THOU THE STEP OF THE SPIRIT, SO THAT, SWIFT AS THE TWINKLING OF AN EYE, THOU MAYEST ... IN ONE BREATH COMMUNE WITH THE HEAVENLY SPIRITS

Here are some additional verses which also speak of the swiftness of spiritual attainment:

O Son of Glory!
Be swift in the path of holiness, and enter the heaven of communion with Me. Cleanse thy heart with the burnish of the spirit, and hasten to the court of the Most High.
(Bahá'u'lláh, Persian Hidden Words #8)

... all the signs foretold have come to pass, ... the way of God's holy Cause hath been revealed, and the concourse of the faithful, swift as lightning, are, even now, passing upon that way ...
(Íqán, paragraph 90, p. 83)

It is evident that nothing short of this mystic transformation could cause such spirit and behaviour, so utterly unlike their previous habits and manners, to be made manifest in the world of being. For their agitation was turned into peace, their doubt into certitude, their timidity into courage. Such is the potency of the Divine Elixir, which, swift as the twinkling of an eye, transmuteth the souls of men!
(Íqán, paragraph 164, pp. 156-157)

Likewise, these souls, through the potency of the Divine Elixir, traverse, in the twinkling of an eye, the world of dust and advance into the realm of holiness; and with one step cover the earth of limitations and reach the domain of the Placeless. It behooveth thee to exert thine utmost to attain unto this Elixir which, in one fleeting breath, causeth the west of ignorance to reach the east of knowledge ...
(Íqán, paragraph 167, pp. 157-158)

O Son of Love!
Thou art but one step away from the glorious heights above and from the celestial tree of love. Take thou one pace and with the next advance into the immortal realm and enter the pavilion of eternity. Give ear then to that which hath been revealed by the pen of glory.
(Bahá'u'lláh, Persian Hidden Words #9)

Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
(First Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians 15:51 52; Shoghi Effendi refers to this verse on page 96 of "God Passes By")

O My servants!  The one true God is My witness!  This most great, this fathomless and surging Ocean is near, astonishingly near, unto you. Behold it is closer to you than your life-vein! Swift as the twinkling of an eye ye can, if ye but wish it, reach and partake of this imperishable favor, this God-given grace, this incorruptible gift, this most potent and unspeakably glorious bounty.
O My servants!  Could ye apprehend with what wonders of My munificence and bounty I have willed to entrust your souls, ye would, of a truth, rid yourselves of attachment to all created things, and would gain a true knowledge of your own selves - a knowledge which is the same as the comprehension of Mine own Being.
(From the Persian Tablet of Ahmad, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 326-327)

Whoso followeth this counsel will break his chains asunder, will taste the abandonment of enraptured love, will attain unto his heart's desire, and will surrender his soul into the hands of his Beloved. Bursting through his cage, he will, even as the bird of the spirit, wing his flight to his holy and everlasting nest.... O ye that thirst after Him!  Strip yourselves of every earthly affection, and hasten to embrace your Beloved.  With a zest that none can equal make haste to attain unto Him. The Flower, thus far hidden from the sight of men, is unveiled to your eyes. In the open radiance of His glory He standeth before you. His voice summoneth all the holy and sanctified beings to come and be united with Him.
(Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 321-322)

Say, verily, the good-pleasure of Him Whom God shall make manifest is the good-pleasure of God, while the displeasure of Him Whom God shall make manifest is none other than the displeasure of God. Avoid ye His displeasure, and flee for refuge unto His good-pleasure. Say, the living guides to His good-pleasure are such as truly believe in Him and are well-assured in their faith, while the living testimonies of His displeasure are those who, when they hear the verses of God sent forth from His presence, or read the divine words revealed by Him, do not instantly embrace the Faith and attain unto certitude.
(From the Kitab-i-Asma', Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 149)

FOR WITH HUMAN FEET THOU CANST NEVER HOPE TO TRAVERSE THESE IMMEASURABLE DISTANCES, NOR ATTAIN THY GOAL.

This recalls the reported words of the Master interpreting the Gospel narrative of Jesus walking on the surface of the Sea of Galilee, when He entered the boat of the disciples and they immediately attained the far shore (see notes for paragraph 2 of the Íqán).

As we have before said in the account of this miracle, the disciples of Jesus attempted to sail over the sea of creation in the ark of argument and reasoning, finding great difficulty and danger in proving the truth by so doing.  But when Christ, the Light of the world, who knew all things by the light of inner spiritual illumination, came to them in their boat, walking by his knowledge over the ocean of existence, and having no need of the ark of argument, then immediately they were at their desired haven.

FLASH THROUGH THE WILDS OF REMOTENESS AND BEREAVEMENT

This verse is another example of Bahá'u'lláh’s use of the image of the wilderness, here symbolizing remoteness from God.

It teacheth lamentation and moaning to the nightingales warbling upon the bough of remoteness, and bereavement, instructeth them in the art of love's ways, and showeth them the secret of heart-surrender.
(Íqán, paragraph 64, p. 59)

He is the All-Glorious
O ye who are inebriated with the draught of His Covenant!
It is time to pass beyond the desolate wilds of remoteness, so that ye may reach the retreats of the Beloved, drink your fill from the wine of the bestowals of the All-Merciful, hold a heavenly festival, deck forth the stage for a spiritual celebration and, to the strains of harp and lute and the melodies of the Concourse on high and of the songsters in the meads of holiness, break into sweet lays and wondrous tunes in praise and glorification of the Abhá Beauty.
(`Abdu'l-Bahá, Compilation on Martyrdom, "Fire and Light," p. 25)

By Thy might!  My trespasses have kept me back from drawing nigh unto Thee; and my sins have held me far from the court of Thy holiness.  Thy love, O my Lord, hath enriched me, and separation from Thee hath destroyed me, and remoteness from Thee hath consumed me.
(The Long Obligatory Prayer by Bahá'u'lláh)

PEACE BE UPON HIM WHOM THE LIGHT OF TRUTH GUIDETH UNTO ALL TRUTH

I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.  However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth...
(Jesus Christ, Gospel of John 16:12 14)

In the Gospel of John, in speaking of the Promised One Who was to come after Christ, it is said in chapter 16, verses 12, 13: "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.  Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak."
Now consider carefully that from these words, "for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak," it is clear that the Spirit of truth is embodied in a Man Who has individuality, Who has ears to hear and a tongue to speak.

In former dispensations the sick body of the world could not bear the strong and overpowering remedies. That is why His Highness the Christ said:  "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit, when He, the Spirit of the Comforter, who is sent by the Father, is come, He will guide you into all truth." Therefore, in this age of lights, specific teachings have become universal, in order that the outpouring of the Merciful One environ both the East and the West, the oneness of the Kingdom of humanity become visible and the luminosity of truth enlighten the world of consciousness.
(Tablets of `Abdu'l-Bahá Abbas, Volume III, pp. 58-539)

PEACE BE UPON HIM WHOM THE LIGHT OF TRUTH GUIDETH UNTO ALL TRUTH, AND IN THE NAME OF GOD, STANDETH IN THE PATH OF HIS CAUSE, UPON THE SHORE OF TRUE UNDERSTANDING.

This blessing refers back to the very first image in the Íqán, attaining to the shore of true understanding.

There are these additional verses referring to standing in the path of His Cause:

I have written a reply to the letter of ... and have enclosed it with this letter. I ask God to make him a sign of guidance and to guide, through him, souls (people) of his native land and of other people. Verily, my God chooses whomsoever He willeth, by His mercy and generosity, for entrance into the Kingdom of Glory and shineth the lights of (His) Beauty upon them. Blessed is he who keeps firm in the Path and stands for the Cause of thy Merciful Lord--a firmness like unto the lofty mountains.
(Tablets of `Abdu'l-Bahá Abbas, Volume II, p. 269)

Send down, therefore, O my God, upon all that seek Thee that which will entirely strip them of all that pertaineth not unto Thee, and will draw them nigh unto Thy Self. Assist them, by Thy grace, to love Thee and to conform unto that which shall please Thee. Grant, then, that they may go straight on in the path of Thy Cause, the path wherein have slipped the footsteps of the doubters among Thy people and the froward among Thy servants. Thou art, verily, the All-Powerful, the Almighty, the Most Great.
(Prayers and Meditations by Bahá'u'lláh, p. 254)

Paragraph 45, pp. 43-44

This is the meaning of the sacred verse: "But nay! I swear by the Lord of the Easts and the Wests," inasmuch as the "Suns" referred to have each their own particular rising and setting place. And as the commentators of the Qur'án have failed to grasp the symbolic meaning of these "Suns," they therefore were at pains to interpret the above-quoted verse. Some of them maintained that owing to the fact that the sun each day rises from a different point, the terms "easts" and "wests" have been mentioned in the plural. Others have written that by this verse the four seasons of the year are intended, inasmuch as the dawning and setting points of the sun vary with the change of the seasons. Such is the depth of their understanding! None the less, they persist in imputing error and folly to those Gems of knowledge, those irreproachable and purest Symbols of wisdom.


AND AS THE COMMENTATORS OF THE QUR'ÁN HAVE FAILED TO GRASP THE SYMBOLIC MEANING OF THESE "SUNS," THEY THEREFORE WERE AT PAINS TO INTERPRET THE ABOVE-QUOTED VERSE. SOME OF THEM MAINTAINED THAT OWING TO THE FACT THAT THE SUN EACH DAY RISES FROM A DIFFERENT POINT, THE TERMS "EASTS" AND "WESTS" HAVE BEEN MENTIONED IN THE PLURAL.

There is a similar verse at Qur'án 55:17:

Lord of the two Easts, and Lord of the two Wests

Here is the comment of Maulana Muhammad Ali, a translator of the Qur'án from among the Ahmadiyyih Muslims, who has also written a tract against the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh:

The two Easts and the two Wests signify the different points of the horizon at which the sun rises and sets at the summer and winter solstice.  In modern terminology, the two Easts are the Near or the Middle East and the Far East; the two Wests are Europe and America.
(The Holy Qur'án, p. 1015, footnote 2410)

Similarly, the religious leaders in the days of Jesus did not properly understand the Scriptures:

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightiest matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith.  These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.  Blind guides, who strain at a gnat and swallow a camel!
(Matthew 23:23-24; also see Luke 11:42))


THE COMMENTATORS OF THE QUR'ÁN HAVE FAILED TO GRASP THE SYMBOLIC MEANING OF THESE "SUNS" .... SUCH IS THE DEPTH OF THEIR UNDERSTANDING!

The pomp and pageantry of these princes of the church of Islam has already died out.  Their fanatical outcries, their clamorous invocations, their noisy demonstrations, are stilled... Their madrasihs [seminaries], with their medieval learning, are deserted and dilapidated. The innumerable tomes of theological commentaries, super commentaries, glosses, and notes, unreadable, unprofitable, the product of misdirected ingenuity and toil, and pronounced by one of the most enlightened Islamic thinkers in modern times as works obscuring sound knowledge, breeding maggots, and fit for fire, are now buried away, overspread with cobwebs, and forgotten.
(Shoghi Effendi, "The Promised Day is Come," p. 93)

IRREPROACHABLE AND PUREST  à¡¤Óì also translated by Shoghi Effendi as “highest and purest”.

 
Paragraph 46, pp. 44-45

In like manner, strive thou to comprehend from these lucid, these powerful, conclusive, and unequivocal statements the meaning of the "cleaving of the heaven"--one of the signs that must needs herald the coming of the last Hour, the Day of Resurrection. As He hath said: "When the heaven shall be cloven asunder." By "heaven" is meant the heaven of divine Revelation, which is elevated with every Manifestation, and rent asunder with every subsequent one. By "cloven asunder" is meant that the former Dispensation is superseded and annulled. I swear by God! That this heaven being cloven asunder is, to the discerning, an act mightier than the cleaving of the skies! Ponder a while. That a divine Revelation which for years hath been securely established; beneath whose shadow all who have embraced it have been reared and nurtured; by the light of whose law generations of men have been disciplined; the excellency of whose word men have heard recounted by their fathers; in such wise that human eye hath beheld naught but the pervading influence of its grace, and mortal ear hath heard naught but the resounding majesty of its command--what act is mightier than that such a Revelation should, by the power of God, be "cloven asunder" and be abolished at the appearance of one soul? Reflect, is this a mightier act than that which these abject and foolish men have imagined the "cleaving of the heaven" to mean?


THESE LUCID, THESE POWERFUL, CONCLUSIVE, AND UNEQUIVOCAL STATEMENTS

Throughout the Íqán, Bahá'u'lláh draws to our attention the clarity, uniqueness and greatness of what He is revealing:

It is unquestionable (1)

these lucid, these powerful, conclusive, and unequivocal statements (2)

clear and evident (3)

these luminous, these conclusive, and lucid statements (4)
   
the most lucid texts, the most convincing arguments, and the best established evidences (5)

incontestable truths, such as these (6)

all these weighty and infallible proofs which no understanding mind can question, and no man of learning overlook (7)

these weighty and pregnant utterances (8)

these all sufficing, these unanswerable, and conclusive utterances (9)

It hath been demonstrated and definitely established, through clear evidences (10)

these indubitable facts and lucid statements (11)

these convincing and weighty utterances (12)

the new and wondrous verses of God (13)

these established truths and above mentioned evidences (14)

these evident and significant traditions, all these unmistakable and undisputed allusions (15)

these consummate verses, these unmistakable allusions (16)

1.  Paragraph 42, page 41.
2.  Paragraph 46, p. 44.
3.  Paragraph 79, p. 71.
4.  Paragraph 79, p. 71.
5.  Paragraph 87, p. 80.
6.  Paragraph 112, p. 105.
7.  Paragraph 152, p. 143.
8.  Paragraph 158, p. 149.
9.  Paragraph 168, p. 158.
10. Paragraph 182, p. 170.
11. Paragraph 182, p. 170.
12. Paragraph 214, p. 195.
13. Paragraph 242, p. 218.
14. Paragraph 265, p. 236.
15. Paragraph 270, p. 242.
16. Paragraph 280, p. 253.


THE "CLEAVING OF THE HEAVEN"

Please compare this Old Testament prophecy of the tearing apart of the "heavens":

Oh, that You would rend the heavens!  That You would come down!  That the mountains might shake at Your presence
(Isaiah 64:1.  A translator's note states that the word translated as "rend" literally means "tear open."

Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth will move out of her place
(Isaiah 13:13)

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise ... we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
(II Peter 3:10, 3:13)

Please also compare this passage which occurs later in the Íqán:

Were these men, therefore, to discover suddenly that a Man, Who hath been living in their midst, Who, with respect to every human limitation, hath been their equal, had risen to abolish every established principle imposed by their Faith--principles by which for centuries they have been disciplined ...
(Íqán, paragraph 81, page 74)


ONE OF THE SIGNS THAT MUST NEEDS HERALD THE COMING OF THE LAST HOUR

O kings of the earth!  The Most Great Law hath been revealed in this Spot, this scene of transcendent splendour.  Every hidden thing hath been brought to light, by virtue of the Will of the Supreme Ordainer, He Who hath ushered in the Last Hour, through Whom the Moon hath been cleft, and every irrevocable decree expounded.
(The Most Holy Book, paragraph 81, p. 49)


BY "CLOVEN ASUNDER" IS MEANT THAT THE FORMER DISPENSATION IS SUPERSEDED AND ANNULLED

He Who communicated the original impulse to so incalculable a Movement was none other than the promised Qa’im (He who ariseth), the Sahibu'z-Zaman (the Lord of the Age), Who assumed the exclusive right of annulling the whole Qur'ánic Dispensation, Who styled Himself "the Primal Point from which have been generated all created things ...  the Countenance of God Whose splendor can never be obscured, the Light of God Whose radiance can never fade."
(Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 4)


THE EXCELLENCY OF WHOSE WORD MEN HAVE HEARD RECOUNTED BY THEIR FATHERS

Please compare these verses from the Law of Moses:

Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life.  And teach them to your children and your grandchildren ...
(Deuteronomy 4:9)

Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.
(Deuteronomy 11:18-19)
(Incidentally, this verse is the source of the strict orthodox Jewish practice of placing small boxes containing divine verses, phylacteries, on the forehead)

We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, what deeds You did in their days
(Psalm 44:1)

For He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children; that the generation to come might know them, the children who would be born, that they may arise and declare them to their children, that they may set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments.
(Psalm 78:5-6)

Please compare this verse from the Qur'án which Bahá'u'lláh quoted in paragraph 10, on page 11 of the Íqán:

"Oh Salih, our hopes were fixed on thee until now; forbiddest thou us to worship that which our fathers worshipped?  Truly we misdoubt that whereunto thou callest us as suspicious." [Qur'án 11:61-62)

THE PERVADING INFLUENCE OF ITS GRACE  ¼ôáò
Also translated by Shoghi Effendi as potency, compelling power, influence, energizing influence, penetrative influence.


WHAT ACT IS MIGHTIER ...?

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder.  And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
(Isaiah 9:6)

As Bahá'u'lláh revealed in paragraph 257 of the Íqán:

Could such a thing be made manifest except through the power of a divine Revelation, and the potency of God's invincible Will? By the righteousness of God! Were any one to entertain so great a Revelation in his heart, the thought of such a declaration would alone confound him! Were the hearts of all men to be crowded into his heart, he would still hesitate to venture upon so awful an enterprise. He could achieve it only by the permission of God, only if the channel of his heart were to be linked with the Source of divine grace, and his soul be assured of the unfailing sustenance of the Almighty.
(Iqan, pp. 230-231)

Paragraph 47, p. 45

Moreover, consider the hardships and the bitterness of the lives of those Revealers of the divine Beauty. Reflect, how single-handed and alone they faced the world and all its peoples, and promulgated the Law of God! No matter how severe the persecutions inflicted upon those holy, those precious, and tender Souls, they still remained, in the plenitude of their power, patient, and, despite their ascendancy, they suffered and endured.


CONSIDER THE HARDSHIPS AND THE BITTERNESS OF THE LIVES OF THOSE REVEALERS OF THE DIVINE BEAUTY

Behold how the people, as a result of the verdict pronounced by the divines of His age, have cast Abraham, the Friend of God, into fire; how Moses, He Who held converse with the Almighty, was denounced as liar and slanderer. Reflect how Jesus, the Spirit of God, was, notwithstanding His extreme meekness and perfect tender heartedness, treated by His enemies. So fierce was the opposition which He, the Essence of Being and Lord of the visible and invisible, had to face, that He had nowhere to lay His head. He wandered continually from place to place, deprived of a permanent abode. Ponder that which befell Muhammad, the Seal of the Prophets, may the life of all else be a sacrifice unto Him.... At no time, in no Dispensation, have the Prophets of God escaped the blasphemy of their enemies, the cruelty of their oppressors, the denunciation of the learned of their age, who appeared in the guise of uprightness and piety. Day and night they passed through such agonies as none can ever measure, except the knowledge of the one true God, exalted be His glory.
(Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, Section XXIII, pp. 56-58)

O army of God!  The Exalted One, the Báb, gave up His life.  The Blessed Perfection gave up a hundred lives at every breath.  He bore calamities.  He suffered anguish.  He was imprisoned.  He was chained.  He was made homeless and was banished to distant lands.  Finally, then, He lived out His days in the Most Great Prison.
(Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 73)

I give Thee thanks, O my God, for that Thou hast made me to be a target for the darts of Thine adversaries in Thy path. I offer Thee most high praise, O Thou Who art the Knower of the seen and unseen and the Lord of all being, that Thou hast suffered me to be cast into prison for love of Thee, and caused me to quaff the cup of woe, that I may reveal Thy Cause and glorify Thy word.
(Prayers and Meditations by Bahá'u'lláh, Section XCLI, p. 230)

SINGLE-HANDED AND ALONE THEY FACED THE WORLD AND ALL ITS PEOPLES

How can one solitary person without help and without support lay the foundations of such a noble construction?  He must depend on the help of the spiritual and divine power to be able to undertake this mission.  One Holy Soul gives life to the world of humanity, changes the aspect of the terrestrial globe, causes intelligence to progress, vivifies souls, lays the basis of a new life, establishes new foundations, organizes the world, brings nations and religions under the shadow of one standard, delivers man from the world of imperfections and vices, and inspires him with the desire and need of natural and acquired perfections.
(`Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, pp. 9-10)

His disciples said to Him ... "Now we are sure that You know all things, and have no need that anyone should question You.  By this we believe that You came forth from God."  Jesus answered them, "Do you now believe?  Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone.  And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.  These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."
(John 16:29-33)

Read it and consider: one prisoner, single and solitary, without assistant or defender, a foreigner and stranger imprisoned in the fortress of `Akká, writing such letters to the Emperor of France and Sultan of Turkey. Reflect upon this: how Bahá'u'lláh upraised the standard of His Cause in prison. Refer to history. It is without parallel. No such thing has happened before that time nor since--a prisoner and an exile advancing His Cause and spreading His teachings broadcast so that eventually He became powerful enough to conquer the very king who banished Him. His Cause spread more and more. The Blessed Perfection was a prisoner twenty-five years.
(`Abdu'l-Bahá, Address in New York City, 1912, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 28)

Look how Abraham strove to bring faith and love among the people; how Moses tried to unite the people by sound laws; how the Lord Christ suffered unto death to bring the light of love and truth into a darkened world; how Muhammad sought to bring unity and peace between the various uncivilized tribes among whom he dwelt.  And last of all, Bahá'u'lláh has suffered forty years for the same cause   the single noble purpose of spreading love among the children of men   and for the peace and unity of the world the Báb gave up his life.  (`Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 171)

Let every steadfast soul ever bear in mind the anguish of those holy Beings and the trials They endured, and because of the wrongs They suffered, and the blood of the martyrs in His path, out of pity for what has befallen God's Cause and His Law, put the good of the Cause before any other good, and its honour before any other.
(Bahiyyih Khanum, Letter to the members of the Spiritual Assemblies and all the Friends of God in the East, Bahiyyih Khanum, p. 202)

THOSE HOLY, THOSE PRECIOUS, AND TENDER SOULS

Barter not away this Youth, O people, for the vanities of this world or the delights of heaven.  By the righteousness of the one true God!  One hair of Him excelleth all that is in the heavens and all that is on the earth.... Let His love be a storehouse of treasure for your souls ...
(Tablet to Mirza Dhabih, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh Selection XV, p. 38)


NO MATTER HOW SEVERE THE PERSECUTIONS INFLICTED UPON THOSE HOLY, THOSE PRECIOUS, AND TENDER SOULS, THEY STILL REMAINED, IN THE PLENITUDE OF THEIR POWER, PATIENT, AND, DESPITE THEIR ASCENDANCY, THEY SUFFERED AND ENDURED


And the high priest arose and said to Him, "Do You answer nothing?  What is it that these men testify against You?"  But Jesus kept silent.  And the high priest answered and said to Him, "I adjure You by the living God that You tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God."  Jesus said to him, "It is as you said.  Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven."
(Matthew 26:62-64)

The suffering of Jesus was prophesied in the 53rd chapter of Isaiah:

He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; he was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not his mouth.... And He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
(Isaiah 53:7-12)

`Abdu'l-Bahá speaks of this ascendancy:

Notwithstanding their misdeeds, this lowly servant of Thine was patient and did endure every affliction and trial at their hands, though by Thy power and might he could have destroyed their words, quenched their fire and stayed the flame of their rebelliousness.
(The Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 23)

Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.
(Numbers 12:3)

Pilate [the Roman governor of Judea] said to Him, "Are you not speaking to me?  Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?"  Jesus answered, "You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above."
(John 19:10-11)

When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked if the Man were a Galilean.  And as soon as he knew that He belonged to Herod's jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time.  Now when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceedingly glad; for he had desired for a long time to see Him, because he had heard many things about Him, and he hoped to see some miracle done by Him.  Then he questioned Him with many words, but He answered him nothing.  And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused Him.  Then Herod, with his men of war, treated Him with contempt and mocked Him, arrayed Him in a gorgeous robe, and sent Him back to Pilate.  That very day Pilate and Herod became friends with each other, for before that they had been at enmity with each other.
(Luke 23:6-12.  Bahá'u'lláh describes with great power and pathos the examination of Jesus Christ and His conduct, in Íqán, paragraph 144, pp. 132-133)

Please compare:

He was dictating His Tablets to His amanuensis when the governor, at the head of his troops, with drawn swords, surrounded His house [in `Akká].  The entire populace, as well as the military authorities, were in a state of great agitation [due to the murder of Siyyid Muhammad Isfahani by Bahá'ís].  The shouts and clamor of the people could be heard on all sides.  Bahá'u'lláh was peremptorily summoned to the Governorate, interrogated, kept in custody the first night, with one of His sons, in a chamber in the Khan-i-Shavirdi ...
When interrogated, He was asked to state His name and that of the country from which He came.  "It is more manifest than the sun," He answered.  The same question was put to Him again, to which He gave the following reply: "I deem it not proper to mention it.  Refer to the farman [judgment] of the government which is in your possession."  Once again they, with marked deference, reiterated their request, whereupon Bahá'u'lláh spoke with majesty and power these words: "My name is Bahá'u'lláh (Light of God), and My country is Núr (Light).  Be ye apprized of it."  Turning then, to the Mufti, He addressed him words of veiled rebuke, after which He spoke to the entire gathering, in such vehement and exalted language that none made bold to answer Him.  Having quoted verses from the Suriy-i-Muluk, He, afterwards, arose and left the gathering.
(God Passes By, p. 190.  Compare the examination of the Báb by the `ulama, "The Báb" by H.M. Balyuzi, pp. 96-99, and the examination of the Master by the Commission of Inquiry, "`Abdu'l-Bahá," by H.M. Balyuzi, pp. 113-114)

Paragraph 48, p. 46

In like manner, endeavour to comprehend the meaning of the "changing of the earth." Know thou, that upon whatever hearts the bountiful showers of mercy, raining from the "heaven" of divine Revelation, have fallen, the earth of those hearts hath verily been changed into the earth of divine knowledge and wisdom. What myrtles of unity hath the soil of their hearts produced! What blossoms of true knowledge and wisdom hath their illumined bosoms yielded! Were the earth of their hearts to remain unchanged, how could such souls who have not been taught one letter, have seen no teacher, and entered no school, utter such words and display such knowledge as none can apprehend? Methinks they have been moulded from the clay of infinite knowledge, and kneaded with the water of divine wisdom. Therefore, hath it been said: "Knowledge is a light which God casteth into the heart of whomsoever He willeth." It is this kind of knowledge which is and hath ever been praiseworthy, and not the limited knowledge that hath sprung forth from veiled and obscured minds. This limited knowledge they even stealthily borrow one from the other, and vainly pride themselves therein!

DIVINE KNOWLEDGE AND WISDOM

«îç¶ ó «â¾Ùï ma`arifat va hikmat
This phrase in the original language also appears in this verse, later in the Íqán, there translated by the Guardian as “understanding and wisdom”: “Behold how within all things the portals of the Ridván of God are opened, that seekers may attain the cities of understanding and
wisdom. . .” (Paragraph 149, p. 140)

THE EARTH OF THOSE HEARTS HATH VERILY BEEN CHANGED INTO THE EARTH OF DIVINE KNOWLEDGE AND WISDOM

With this verse, Bahá'u'lláh unseals the symbolic term "earth" to mean the human heart.  This phrase--"the earth of those hearts"--is an example of a Persian grammatical form described by Bahá'í author Dr. Christopher Buck as a "genitive metaphor," and it is used extensively by Bahá'u'lláh in the Íqán.  Bahá'u'lláh links the metaphorical word--earth--with its physical referent--the heart--and unseals the Scriptures of the past.  (For a fuller explanation of Bahá'u'lláh's use of genitive metaphors, see Christopher Buck, "Symbol & Secret, Qur'án Commentary in Bahá'u'lláh's Kitáb-i-Íqán," Kalimat Press (1995) pp. 123-124, 160-161, 214, and 254.)

We can now see a deeper meaning to the term “earth” in the following verses from Scripture:

Sharon shall be a fold of flocks, and the Valley of Achor a place for herds to lie down, for My people who have sought Me.... For the Lord God will ... call His servants by another name ... For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.
(Isaiah 65:10, 15, 17)

Thus says the Lord God:  "I will gather you from the peoples, assemble you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.... Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God."
(Ezekiel 11:17-20)

In the chapter where He speaks of "the Root of Jesse, Who shall stand as a banner to the people," Whose "resting-place shall be glorious," and in Whose day "the wolf also shall dwell with the lamb ... and a little child shall lead them"--that little child being identified by `Abdu'l-Bahá as Shoghi Effendi (The Priceless Pearl, p. 2)--Isaiah prophecies:

They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
(Isaiah 11:9)

For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.
(Habakkuk 2:14)

In the parable of the sower and the seed, Jesus Himself compares the human heart in its various conditions of receptivity to the soil. (Matthew 13:1-23)  Jesus expressly compares the earth to the human heart in Matthew 13:19 and Luke 8:12.


SUCH SOULS WHO HAVE NOT BEEN TAUGHT ONE LETTER, HAVE SEEN NO TEACHER, AND ENTERED NO SCHOOL, UTTER SUCH WORDS AND DISPLAY SUCH KNOWLEDGE AS NONE CAN APPREHEND

And it came to pass, on the next day, that their rulers, elders, and scribes, as well as Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the family of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem.  And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, "By what power or by what name have you done this?" [healed a man]  Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers of the people and elders of Israel:  If we this day are judged for a good deed done to the helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole.  This is the 'stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.'  Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."  Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled.  And they realized that they had been with Jesus.
(Acts 4:5-13)

At that time Jesus answered and said, "I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes.  Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight."
(Matthew 11:25-26)

O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth, You who set Your glory above the heavens!  Out of the mouth of babes and infants you have ordained strength, because of Your enemies, that You may silence the enemy and the avenger.
(Psalm 8:1-2)

Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.  For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.  But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty ...
(First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians 1:25-27)

How often - and the early history of the Faith in the land of its birth offers many a striking testimony, have the lowliest adherents of the Faith, unschooled and utterly inexperienced, and with no standing whatever, and in some cases devoid of intelligence, been capable of winning victories for their Cause, before which the most brilliant achievements of the learned, the wise, and the experienced have paled.
"Peter," `Abdu'l-Bahá has testified, "according to the history of the Church, was also incapable of keeping count of the days of the week. Whenever he decided to go fishing, he would tie up his weekly food into seven parcels, and every day he would eat one of them, and when he had reached the seventh, he would know that the Sabbath had arrived, and thereupon would observe it." If the Son of Man was capable of infusing into apparently so crude and helpless an instrument such potency as to cause, in the words of Bahá'u'lláh, "the mysteries of wisdom and of utterance to flow out of his mouth," and to exalt him above the rest of His disciples, and render him fit to become His successor and the founder of His Church, how much more can the Father, Who is Bahá'u'lláh, empower the most puny and insignificant among His followers to achieve, for the execution of His purpose, such wonders as would dwarf the mightiest achievements of even the first apostle of Jesus Christ!
(Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, pp. 45-46)

The newly born babe of that Day excels the wisest and most venerable men of this time, and the lowliest and most unlearned of that period shall surpass in understanding the most erudite and accomplished divines of this age.
(The Báb, Farewell Address to the Letters of the Living, The Dawn-Breakers, p. 94)

INFINITE KNOWLEDGE û¹ï¾Æ íëÚ
The word the Guardian translates here as “infinite” he elsewhere has translated as everlasting, eternally, for evermore.

THEY HAVE BEEN MOULDED FROM THE CLAY OF INFINITE KNOWLEDGE, AND KNEADED WITH THE WATER OF DIVINE WISDOM

In the Qur'án (3:49 and 5:113), Muhammad states that Jesus made a bird out of clay, breathed into it, and it took life.  Such verses as this are now, too, unsealed.

But now, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our potter; and all we are the work of Your hand.
(Isaiah 64:8.  See also John 9:6-15, Arabic Hidden Words #13, and Persian Hidden Words #36)


"KNOWLEDGE íëÙì£ [‘ILM] IS A LIGHT ½ôò [NÚR] WHICH GOD CASTETH INTO THE HEART ¥ëå [QALB] OF WHOMSOEVER HE WILLETH."

Bahá'u'lláh cites this same Muslim Tradition in the Second Valley of the Tablet of the Four Valleys ("The Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys," p. 54) and in Iqan, paragraph 201, p. 184.

The late member of the Universal House of Justice Mr. Adib Taherzadeh has written:

The knowledge of God and a true understanding of His teachings can come about when the believer approaches Him in a spirit of utter humility and submissiveness, and opens his heart fully to the outpourings of His Revelation. Then and only then will the vernal showers of His unfailing grace cause the tree of knowledge and wisdom to grow within the heart, and enable him to bring forth, in the fullness of time, the fruit of understanding. When this stage is reached, the individual will be aided to comprehend the truth of the Word and discover the manifold mysteries that are enshrined within God's Revelation. Knowledge of spiritual truth comes through the heart of man. The intellect will then grasp the subject and reason will emerge. There is a tradition in Islam which Bahá'u'lláh confirms in the Kitáb-i-Íqán, stating that 'knowledge is a light which God sheddeth into the heart of whomsoever He willeth'. This is a knowledge which wells out of the heart of the believer and is Independent of academic learning.
(The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, Volume 4, p. 213)

O Lord ... delight my heart with the glory of Thy knowledge that encompasseth all things
(Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 174)

Thus I exhort each of you, realizing its power and beauty, to sacrifice all your thoughts, words and actions to bring the knowledge of the Love of God into every heart.
(Paris Talks, p. 83)

Consider ye the past centuries, how a single one of the beloved of God withstood all the people on the earth because of his firmness in the love of God, and his entire turning of the heart toward the Kingdom of God and with the cup of his heart overflowing with the wine of the knowledge of God.
(Tablets of `Abdu'l-Bahá Abbas, Volume I, p. 83)

O thou seeker of the True One!
If thou wishest the divine knowledge and recognition, purify thy heart from all beside God, be wholly attracted to the ideal, beloved One; search for and choose Him and apply thyself to rational and authoritative arguments. For arguments are a guide to the path and by this the heart will be turned unto the Sun of Truth.  And when the heart is turned unto the Sun, then the eye will be opened and will recognize the Sun through the Sun itself. Then (man) will be in no need of arguments (or proofs), for the Sun is altogether independent, and absolute independence is in need of nothing, and proofs are one of the things (of which absolute independence has no need). Be not like Thomas; be thou like Peter.
(Tablets of `Abdu'l-Bahá Abbas, Volume I, p. 168)

One of the great figures in the history of religion is Abu-Hamid Muhammad al-Ghazzali (1058-1111), renowned as an Islamic theologian and mystic.  He said that he had attained spiritual enlightenment, "Not by proof or argument but by a light put in my heart by Alláh, the light that is the key to real knowledge."  ("Islam:  A Way of Life," Phillip K. Hitti, pp. 66, 68)


WHAT MYRTLES OF UNITY HATH THE SOIL OF THEIR HEARTS PRODUCED! WHAT BLOSSOMS OF TRUE KNOWLEDGE AND WISDOM HATH THEIR ILLUMINED BOSOMS YIELDED!

O thou attracted maid-servant of God!
A few days ago the photograph of thyself and sister was received and a tablet was revealed and forwarded. Now, also, through pure mercy, the answer of thy letter is transmitted.  Praise be to God! that the heavenly blessings are being poured upon thee and thou art being led by the light of guidance.  Supplicate to God that the seed of knowledge in the soil of thy heart may soon develop and grow into hyacinths and roses and that the flower-garden of the love.  Therefore, I beseech God that He may bestow upon thee a meek and submissive heart and that He may confirm thee in the service of the divine garden and assist thee to emulate the actions and deeds of the godly ones. Also, that He may guide, to the Kingdom of God, your father, mother and friends, in order that by these heavenly blessings they may become fruitful trees and obtain a portion of the great and glorious gift.
(Tablets of `Abdu'l-Bahá Abbas, Volume II, pp. 479-480.  The footnote in the text states, "Hyacinths typify knowledge; roses typify wisdom.")

This is the day of Bahá'u'lláh, the age of the Blessed Perfection, the cycle of the Greatest Name.  If you do not smile now, for what time will you await and what greater happiness could you expect?  This is the springtime of manifestation.  The vernal shower has descended from the cloud of divine mercy; the life-giving breeze of the Holy Spirit is wafting the perfume of blossoms.  From field and meadow rises a fragrant breath of thanksgiving like pure incense ascending to the throne of God.  The world has become a new world; souls are quickened, spirits renewed, refreshed.  Truly it is a time for happiness.
(`Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 210)

LIMITED KNOWLEDGE õºó¹¶ï

Also translated by the Guardian as petty-minded, transitory, narrow-minded, vain, limitations.  It is related to the word “hudúd”, ºó¹¶
translated as bounds, confines, limits, e.g. “the limits and frontiers of every nation.”

THIS LIMITED KNOWLEDGE THEY EVEN STEALTHILY BORROW ONE FROM THE OTHER, AND VAINLY PRIDE THEMSELVES THEREIN

O brother, Wisdom is flowing in upon you: it comes from the Abdal [saints], and in you it is (only) a borrowed thing.  Although the house (your heart) has found a light within it, that (light) has shone forth from a light giving neighbour. Render thanks, be not beguiled by vanity, do not turn up your nose (in disdain), hearken attentively, and do not show any self conceit. 'Tis a hundred pities and griefs that this borrowed (unreal) state (of self assertion) has put the religious communities far from religious communion.
(From the Mathnawi of Rumi)

If you become an exponent (imitator) of the song of birds, how will you become acquainted with the (real) meaning of the bird?  If you learn the note of a nightingale, how will you know what (feelings) it has towards a rose? Or if you do know, 'twill be from analogy and surmise, like the conjectures formed by deaf people from those who move their lips.
(From the Mathnawi of Rumi)

Paragraph 49, p. 47

Would that the hearts of men could be cleansed from these man made limitations and obscure thoughts imposed upon them! haply they may be illumined by the light of the Sun of true knowledge, and comprehend the mysteries of divine wisdom. Consider now, were the parched and barren soil of these hearts to remain unchanged, how could they ever become the Recipients of the revelation of the mysteries of God, and the Revealers of the divine Essence? Thus hath He said: "On the day when the earth shall be changed into other earth."


WOULD THAT THE HEARTS OF MEN COULD BE CLEANSED

Know thou, that letter sent to thee by me, was only because of my perfect love for thee and my pity upon thee, for I had the desire that the fragrance of the Holy Spirit, which hath perfumed all regions and imbued the entire body of the world with the Spirit of Life, should pass over thee and abide with thee. Notwithstanding the high position it occupieth, still, with an eloquent tongue, through which the Spirit moveth, hearts are attracted and bosoms burn, it speaketh to the pure hearts and to the good and righteous souls in every spot of the earth. This is the powerful Spirit, the dazzling light, the brilliant star and the overwhelming and universal abundance. And, from its traces, spread and divulged everywhere, thou wilt know and realize its influence and comprehend its radiance. I ask God to expose thee to its fragrance, move thee by its breeze, enkindle thee by its coals of fire and illuminate thee by its brightness. Turn thyself wholly to it  thus thou shalt be enabled to ascertain its influence and power, the strength of its life and the greatness of its confirmation. Verily, I say unto thee, that if for the appearance of that Divine Essence thou desirest to have a definite proof, an indisputable testimony and a strong, convincing evidence, thou must prepare thyself to make thy heart empty and thine eye ready to look only toward the Kingdom of God. Then, at that time, the radiance of that widespread effulgence will descend upon thee successively, and that motion rendered thee by the Holy Spirit will make thee dispense with any other strong evidence that leadeth to the appearance of this Light, because the greatest and strongest proof for showing the abundance of the Spirit to the bodies is the very appearance of its power and influence in those bodies.
(From a Tablet of `Abdu'l-Bahá, "Bahá'í World Faith," pp. 368-369)

OBSCURE THOUGHTS

Bahá'u'lláh elaborates more fully on the so-called "knowledge" that is the product of "obscure thoughts" in paragraph 76, p. 69.


HAPLY THEY MAY BE ILLUMINED BY THE LIGHT OF THE SUN OF TRUE KNOWLEDGE

Not, however, until thou consumest with the flame of utter detachment those veils of idle learning, that are current amongst men, canst thou behold the resplendent morn of true knowledge.
(Íqán, paragraph 75, p. 69)

In such wise We recount unto thee the wonders of the Cause of God, and pour out into thine ears the strains of heavenly melody, that haply thou mayest attain unto the station of true knowledge, and partake of the fruit thereof.
(Íqán, paragraph 140, p. 130)

True knowledge, therefore, is the knowledge of God, and this is none other than the recognition of His Manifestation in each Dispensation.
(The Báb, the Persian Bayán, Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 89)

O people of God! Righteous men of learning who dedicate themselves to the guidance of others and are freed and well guarded from the promptings of a base and covetous nature are, in the sight of Him Who is the Desire of the world, stars of the heaven of true knowledge.
(Bahá'u'lláh, Tablet of the World, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 96)

“To His valiant combatants on earth, who at times may feel disheartened, our ever victorious Commander, `Abdu'l-Bahá, gives us the following assurance:
‘O ye servants of the Sacred Threshold! The triumphant Hosts of the Celestial Concourse, arrayed and marshalled in the Realms above, stand ready and expectant to assist and assure victory to that valiant horseman who with confidence spurs on his charger into the arena of service. Well is it with that fearless warrior, who armed with the power of true knowledge, hastens unto the field, disperses the armies of ignorance, and scatters the hosts of error, who holds aloft the Standard of Divine Guidance, and sounds the Clarion of Victory. By the righteousness of the Lord! He hath achieved a glorious triumph and obtained the true victory. . . .’”
(Bahá'í Administration, pp. 42-43)

WERE THE PARCHED AND BARREN SOIL OF THESE HEARTS TO REMAIN UNCHANGED, HOW COULD THEY EVER BECOME THE RECIPIENTS OF THE REVELATION OF THE MYSTERIES OF GOD

In the 35th chapter of Isaiah, in which He prophecies that "Carmel" shall see “the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God," in which he states "A highway shall be there ... and it shall be called the Highway of Holiness," Isaiah also writes:

Then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb sing.  For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert.  The parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water...

Please compare these other verses where Bahá'u'lláh states that the heart is potentially the seat of the revelation of the mysteries of God:

But, O my brother, when a true seeker determines to take the step of search in the path leading to the knowledge of the Ancient of Days, he must, before all else, cleanse and purify his heart, which is the seat of the revelation of the inner mysteries of God, from the obscuring dust of all acquired knowledge ...
(Íqán paragraph 213, p. 192)

Glory be to Thee, O Lord my God! These are the days whereon Thou hast bidden all men to observe the fast, that through it they may purify their souls and rid themselves of all attachment to any one but Thee, and that out of their hearts may ascend that which will be worthy of the court of Thy majesty and may well beseem the seat of the revelation of Thy oneness.
(Prayers and Meditations by Bahá'u'lláh, Section LVI, p. 79)


"ON THE DAY WHEN THE EARTH SHALL BE CHANGED INTO OTHER EARTH."

Now that Bahá'u'lláh has explained the meaning of the symbolic terms "heaven" and "earth," we can understand these verses:

I beheld the earth, and indeed it was without form, and void; and the heavens, they had no light.  I beheld the mountains, and indeed they trembled, and all the hills moved back and forth.
(Jeremiah 4:23)

The earth is violently broken, the earth is split open, the earth is shaken exceedingly.  The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard ...
(Isaiah 24:19-20)

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep.
(Genesis 1:1-2)

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.
(Revelation 21:1)



Paragraph 50, p. 47

The breeze of the bounty of the King of creation hath caused even the physical earth to be changed, were ye to ponder in your hearts the mysteries of divine Revelation  ½ô÷Õì£ ½£¾Æ£.


In many cases the literal fulfillment of these prophecies in the outward sense would be absurd or impossible; for example, the moon being turned into blood or the stars falling upon the earth.  The least of the visible stars is many thousand times larger than the earth, and were one to fall on the earth there would be no earth left for another to fall on!  In other cases, however, there is a material as well as a spiritual fulfillment. For example, the Holy Land did literally become desert and desolate during many centuries, as foretold by the prophets, but already, in the Day of Resurrection, it is beginning to "rejoice and blossom as the rose," as Isaiah foretold.  Prosperous colonies are being started, the land is being irrigated and cultivated, and vineyards, olive groves and gardens are flourishing where half a century ago there was only sandy waste.  Doubtless when men beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks, wildernesses and deserts in all parts of the world will be reclaimed; the scorching winds and sandstorms that blow from these deserts, and make life in their neighborhood well nigh intolerable, will be things of the past; the climate of the whole earth will become milder and more equable; cities will no longer defile the air with smoke and poisonous fumes, and even in the outward, material sense there will be "new heavens and a new earth."
(John Esslemont, "Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era," 1980 edition, p. 228)


Leave hath, moreover, been given to whosoever may desire to raise, throughout the length and breadth of this land, noble and imposing structures, and dedicate the rich and sacred territories adjoining the Jordan and its vicinity to the worship and service of the one true God, magnified be His glory, that the prophecies recorded by the Pen of the Most High in the sacred Scriptures may be fulfilled, and that which God, the Lord of all worlds, hath purposed in this most exalted, this most holy, this mighty, and wondrous Revelation may be made manifest.
We have, of old, uttered these words:  Spread thy skirt, O Jerusalem!  Ponder this in your hearts, O people of Bahá, and render thanks unto your Lord, the Expounder, the Most Manifest.
(Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, Section LIX, pp. 116-117)


The conclusion of this terrible conflict ... produced those revolutionary changes which ... enabled, according to Scriptural prophecy, so large an element of the "outcasts of Israel," the "remnant" of the "flock," to "assemble" in the Holy Land, and to be brought back to "their folds" and "their own border," beneath the shadow of the "incomparable Branch," referred to by `Abdu'l-Bahá in His "Some Answered Questions" ...
(Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 305)


Little wonder that, in view of so remarkable a reversal in the circumstances attending the twenty four years of His banishment to `Akká, Bahá'u'lláh Himself should have penned these weighty words: "The Almighty ...  hath transformed this Prison House into the Most Exalted Paradise, the Heaven of Heavens."
(Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 196)


Paragraph 51, pp. 47-48

And now, comprehend the meaning of this verse: "The whole earth shall on the Resurrection Day be but His handful, and in His right hand shall the heavens be folded together. Praise be to Him! and high be He uplifted above the partners they join with him!" And now, be fair in thy judgment. Were this verse to have the meaning which men suppose it to have, of what profit, one may ask, could it be to man? Moreover, it is evident and manifest that no such hand as could be seen by human eye could accomplish such deeds, or could possibly be ascribed to the exalted Essence of the one true God. Nay, to acknowledge such a thing is naught but sheer blasphemy, an utter perversion of the truth. And should it be supposed that by this verse are meant the Manifestations of God, Who will be called upon, on the Day of Judgment, to perform such deeds, this too seemeth far from the truth, and is surely of no profit. On the contrary, by the term "earth" is meant the earth of understanding and knowledge and by "heavens" the heavens of divine Revelation. Reflect thou, how, in one hand, He hath, by His mighty grasp, turned the earth of knowledge and understanding, previously unfolded, into a mere handful, and, on the other, spread out a new and highly exalted earth in the hearts of men, thus causing the freshest and loveliest blossoms, and the mightiest and loftiest trees to spring forth from the illumined bosom of man.

IN HIS RIGHT HAND SHALL THE HEAVENS BE FOLDED TOGETHER

All the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled up like a scroll.  All their host shall fall down as the leaf falls from the vine, and as fruit falling from a fig tree.
(Isaiah 34:4)

Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place.
(Revelation 6:14)

Indeed My hand has laid the foundation of the earth, and My right hand has stretched out the heavens; when I call to them, they stand up together.
(Isaiah 48:13.  See also Isaiah 40:22, 42:5, and 45:12))

Sharon shall be a fold of flocks, and the Valley of Achor a place for herds to lie down ... For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth
(Isaiah 65:10, 17)

See also II Peter 3:10-13)


REFLECT THOU, HOW, IN ONE HAND, HE HATH, BY HIS MIGHTY GRASP, TURNED THE EARTH OF KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING, PREVIOUSLY UNFOLDED, INTO A MERE HANDFUL

Our Exalted Herald--may the life of all else besides Him be offered up for His sake--hath revealed certain laws. However, in the realm of His Revelation these laws were made subject to Our sanction, hence this Wronged One hath put some of them into effect by embodying them in the Kitab-i-Aqdas in different words. Others We set aside. He holdeth in His hand the authority.
(Bahá'u'lláh, Tablet of Ishraqat--Splendours, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 132)

Verily this is that Most Great Beauty, foretold in the Books of the Messengers, through Whom ... the wisdom of every command shall be tested.
(Bahá'u'lláh, The Tablet of Ahmad, Bahá'í Prayers, p. 210)


ILLUMINED BOSOM

THUS CAUSING ... THE MIGHTIEST AND LOFTIEST TREES TO SPRING FORTH FROM THE ILLUMINED BOSOM OF MAN

Magnified, O Lord my God, be Thy Name, whereby the trees of the garden of Thy Revelation have been clad with verdure, and been made to yield the fruits of holiness during this Springtime when the sweet savors of Thy favors and blessings have been wafted over all things, and caused them to bring forth whatsoever had been preordained for them in the Kingdom of Thine irrevocable decree and the Heaven of Thine immutable purpose.
(Prayers and Meditations by Bahá'u'lláh, Section XCVI, p. 160)

The Resurrection of the Bayán will occur at the time of the appearance of Him Whom God shall make manifest. For today the Bayán is in the stage of seed; at the beginning of the manifestation of Him Whom God shall make manifest its ultimate perfection will become apparent. He is made manifest in order to gather the fruits of the trees He hath planted ...
(The Báb, the Persian Bayán, Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 107. Shoghi Effendi has confirmed that this verse foreshadows the Revelation of the Íqán as the fulfillment -- the "ultimate perfection"--of the Bayán: "Dawn of a New Day," p. 78)


The springtime for earthly trees occurreth once every year, while the one for human trees appeareth in the Days of God  exalted be His glory. Were the trees of men's lives to be adorned in this divine Springtime with the fruits that have been mentioned, the effulgence of the light of Justice would, of a certainty, illumine all the dwellers of the earth and everyone would abide in tranquillity and contentment beneath the sheltering shadow of Him Who is the Object of all mankind. The Water for these trees is the living water of the sacred Words uttered by the Beloved of the world. In one instant are such trees planted and in the next their branches shall, through the outpourings of the showers of divine mercy, have reached the skies.
(Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 225)

It is certain that when we act in accordance with the Teachings of the Abhá Beauty and the counsels of `Abdu'l-Bahá, then will this world become the Abhá Paradise, and its thorns and brambles of cruelty will change into a blossoming garden of the faithful.
May we all be enabled to achieve this end.
(From a letter of the Greatest Holy Leaf, "Bahiyyih Khanum," p. 124)

O thou tree planted in the Vineyard of God! Verily, the clouds of the mercy of thy Lord have poured forth the rain of His greatest gift; the heat of the Sun of Truth hath become intense upon the plains, valleys and hills, and the winds of fecundation of the mercy of thy Lord have blown o'er the gardens, mountains and thickets. Therefore, O thou tree, be verdant, blossom, put forth leaves and bear beautiful fruits in this most Supreme Paradise!
(Tablets of `Abdu'l-Bahá Abbas, Volume III, p. 686)


Therefore, it is not intended that the world of humanity should be left to its natural state.  It is in need of the education divinely provided for it.  The holy, heavenly Manifestations of God have been the Teachers.  They are the divine Gardeners Who transform the jungles of human nature into fruitful orchards and make the thorny places blossom as the rose.  It is evident, then, that the intended and especial function of man is to rescue and redeem himself from the inherent defects of nature and become qualified with the ideal virtues of Divinity.
(`Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 353)

The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.  Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God.  They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing ...
(Psalm 92:12)

Paragraph 52, pp. 48-49

In like manner, reflect how the elevated heavens of the Dispensations of the past have, in the right hand of power, been folded together, how the heavens of divine Revelation have been raised by the command of God, and been adorned by the sun, the moon, and stars of His wondrous commandments. Such are the mysteries of the Word of God, which have been unveiled and made manifest, that haply thou mayest apprehend the morning light of divine guidance, mayest quench, by the power of reliance and renunciation, the lamp of idle fancy, of vain imaginings, of hesitation, and doubt, and mayest kindle, in the inmost chamber of thine heart, the new-born light of divine knowledge and certitude.


THE ELEVATED HEAVENS OF THE DISPENSATIONS OF THE PAST HAVE, IN THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, BEEN FOLDED TOGETHER

I am He, I am the First, I am also the Last.  Indeed My hand has laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand has stretched out the heavens.  When I call to them, they stand up together.
(Isaiah 48:13)

HIS WONDROUS COMMANDMENTS  õ¹þ¹²
The word here translated as “wondrous” is also translated as new and as freshest.


THE MYSTERIES OF THE WORD OF GOD

Do thou meditate on that which We have revealed unto thee, that thou mayest discover the purpose of God, thy Lord, and the Lord of all worlds. In these words the mysteries of Divine Wisdom have been treasured.
(Suriy-i-Vafa, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 188)

O thou advancer to the Kingdom of God!
Shouldst thou come with the whole of thy being to God and be attracted to the lights of the Kingdom of God and be enkindled by the fire of the love of God, then wilt thou see that which thou canst not see today, wilt comprehend the inner significance of the Word of God and thoroughly understand the mysteries contained in the holy Books.
(Tablets of `Abdu'l-Bahá Abbas, Volume III, p. 622)

O thou who in truth art attracted through the Breaths  of the Holy Spirit!
I sent to thee a letter few in words and full in its meanings and its mysteries, showing signs of good  tidings. By my life, there are manifested meanings in the mysteries of the words!  At present I address thee in plain language without being veiled, and I say to thee:  "Stand up with all thy strength to guide the followers of negligence and blindness, and diffuse the breaths of God in those regions; and set off with all speed to New York and Chicago and call with the loudest voice in the assemblies of the beloved ones and invite them to the Alliance of God; and make them steadfast in the Covenant of God, and bear good tidings to all the steadfast ones, and inspire all who waver to be firm in the religion of God and to resist all force which is against the Alliance of God.
(Tablets of `Abdu'l-Baha Abbas, Volume II, p. 279)

All the texts and teachings of the holy Testaments have intrinsic spiritual meanings.  They are not to be taken literally.  I, therefore pray in your behalf that you may be given the power of understanding these inner real meanings of the Holy Scriptures and may become informed of the mysteries deposited in the words of the Bible so that you may attain eternal life and that your hearts may be attracted to the Kingdom of God.  May your souls be illumined by the light of the Words of God, and may you become repositories of the mysteries of God, for no comfort is greater and no happiness is sweeter than spiritual comprehension of the divine teachings.  If a man understands the real meaning of a poet's verses such as those of Shakespeare, he is pleased and rejoiced.  How much greater his joy and pleasure when he perceives the reality of the Holy Scriptures and becomes informed of the mysteries of the Kingdom !  I pray that the divine blessings may descend upon you day by day, that your hearts may be opened to perceive the inner significances of the Word of God.   (`Abdu'l-Bahá, address to Mr. Kinney's Bible Class, New York City, "The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 459)

RELIANCE ê‰çô¬
Also translated by Shoghi Effendi as trust, put his trust in, willingly acquiesce in what God hath willed and confidently abide by the same.


RENUNCIATION פÓäò£
Also translated by Shoghi Effendi as detachment, absolute detachment, detachment from all else but Him, sublime renunciation, with minds that are wholly centered in Him.


THAT HAPLY THOU MAYEST APPREHEND THE MORNING LIGHT OF DIVINE GUIDANCE, MAYEST QUENCH, BY THE POWER OF RELIANCE AND RENUNCIATION, THE LAMP OF IDLE FANCY

Another reference to quenching the lamp when the sun has arisen--to quench lesser lights when the Sun of divine guidance dawns.  Please see the notes for paragraph 35 for additional references.

And, if confirmed by the Creator, the lover escapes from the claws of the eagle of love, he will enter the Valley of Knowledge and come out of doubt into certitude, and turn from the darkness of illusion to the guiding light of the fear of God.  His inner eyes will open and he will privily converse with his Beloved; he will set ajar the gate of truth and piety, and shut the doors of vain imaginings.
(Bahá'u'lláh, The Seven Valleys, p. 11)

AND MAYEST KINDLE, IN THE INMOST CHAMBER OF THINE HEART, THE NEW-BORN LIGHT OF DIVINE KNOWLEDGE AND CERTITUDE

Bahá'u'lláh describes how, in those days in Baghdad the morning light of His Revelation was shining.  Here is the Master’s description of four brothers who responded at that time:

. . . four honored brothers: Muhammad-Sadiq; Muhammad-Ibrahim; Aqa Habibu'llah; and Muhammad-'Ali. These four lived in Baghdad . . . They all lived in the same house, and remained together day and night. Bird-like, they shared the one nest; and they were always fresh and full of grace, like flowers in a bed.

When the Ancient Beauty arrived in Iraq their house was in the neighborhood of His, and thus they had the joy of watching Him as He came and went. Little by little the manner of that Lord of hearts, what He did and what He did not do, and the sight of His lovesome face, had its effect; they began to thirst after the Faith and to seek His grace and favor. They presented themselves at the door of His house, as if they were flowers blooming there; and they were soon enamored of the light that shone out from His brow, captives of the beauty of that dear Companion. They needed no teacher, then; by themselves, they saw through the veils that had blinded them before, and won the supreme desire of their hearts.

As commanded by the Blessed Beauty, Mirza Javad of Turshiz went to their house one night. Mirza Javad had hardly opened his mouth when they accepted the Faith. They did not hesitate for an instant, for they had amazing receptivity. This is what is meant by the Qur'ánic verse: "...whose oil would well nigh shine out, even though fire touched it not! It is light upon light."[Qur'án 24:35] That is, this oil is so fully prepared, so ready to be lit, that it almost catches fire of itself, though no flame be at hand; which means that the capacity for faith, and the deserving it, can be so great, that without the communication of a single word the light shines forth. This is how it was with those pure-hearted men; truly they were loyal, staunch, and devoted to God. (`Abdu'l-Bahá, Memorials of the Faithful, p. 78)


Paragraph 53, p. 49

Know verily that the purpose underlying all these symbolic terms and abstruse allusions, which emanate from the Revealers of God's holy Cause, hath been to test and prove  the peoples of the world; that thereby the earth of the pure and illumined hearts may be known from the perishable and barren soil. From time immemorial such hath been the way of God amidst His creatures, and to this testify the records of the sacred books.

Please observe how Bahá'u'lláh applies the imagery of Jesus' Parable of the Sower and the Seed (Mark Chapter 4).  In His parable, Jesus compares the varying conditions of the soil to receptivity to the Word of God.  Here, Bahá'u'lláh states that the symbolic meanings in the Word of God are the sieve which separates those with pure hearts from those with perishable and barren hearts.

In the Gospel, the Parable of the Sower and the Seed is immediately followed by these words:

And the disciples came and said to Him, "Why do You speak to them in parables?"  He answered and said to them, "Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.  For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.  Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.  And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says:
'Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive; for the heart of this people has grown dull.  Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed.
(Matthew 13:10-17, quoting Isaiah 6:9-10)

Bahá'u'lláh has written about how Jesus used symbolic language:

Yet, shouldst thou reflect upon these statements [Revelation 1:14-17), thou wouldst find them to be of such surpassing eloquence and clarity as to mark the loftiest heights of utterance and the epitome of wisdom. Methinks it is from them that the suns of eloquence have appeared and the stars of clarity have dawned forth and shone resplendent. . . . How could those who fail to understand the most evident of the evident and the most manifest of the manifest ever apprehend the abstruse realities of the divine precepts and the essence of the mysteries of His everlasting wisdom? . . . Know then that He who uttered these words in the realms of glory meant to describe the attributes of the One Who is to come in such veiled and enigmatic terms as to elude the understanding of the people of error. (Bahá'u'lláh, Gems of Divine Mysteries, p. 53)

This is an often-repeated theme in the Íqán, for example:

Such are the unveiled traditions and the evident verses already mentioned. The other language is veiled and concealed, so that whatever lieth hidden in the heart of the malevolent may be made manifest and their innermost being be disclosed. Thus hath Sadiq, son of Muhammad, spoken: "God verily will test them and sift them." This is the divine standard, this is the Touchstone of God, wherewith He proveth His servants.
(Íqán paragraph 283, p. 255)

The image of sifting (also winnowing or threshing) often appears in the Sacred Scriptures (see Luke 22:31-32). Another example in the Old Testament is the incident of the man who touched the Ark of the Covenant as it passed through a town on a cart drawn by oxen:

And when they came to Nachon's threshing floor, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled.  Then the anger of the LORD was aroused against Uzzah, and God struck him there for his error; and he died there by the ark of God.
(II Samuel 6:5 7)

While this verse has not been interpreted in the Bahá'u'lláh Writings, several of its symbols have been.  The word "Ark" has been interpreted symbolically (see the quotation in the notes for Íqán Paragraph 7).  I personally believe that likewise, the "threshing floor" is a symbol of the power of the Word of God and the Covenant of God to test or sift the people.  Likewise, "death" is a symbol in the Holy Books, signifying unbelief, as Bahá'u'lláh explains in paragraphs 126 and 127 of the Íqán.  As the verse above says, the man was struck dead "for his error," and my personal understanding is that the man promoted a heresy, an error, and that the meaning of his "putting out his hand to the ark of God" and "taking hold of it" is that he tried to take the Cause into his own hands, or to promote a false view of the Book of God.  This is my own personal understanding.  I think it is highly significant that this took place at a "threshingfloor," perhaps a symbol of the sifting power of scripture.

For example, the Temple in Jerusalem was built on a spot designated by God to David--another "threshingfloor":

And Gad came that day to David, and said unto him, Go up, rear an altar unto the LORD in the threshingfloor of Araunah the Jebusite.  And David, according to the saying of Gad, went up as the LORD commanded.... So David bought the threshingfloor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. And David built there an altar unto the LORD ...
(II Samuel 24:17 25.)

This spot became the site of the Temple and the Holy of Holies in Jerusalem, on the Temple Mount, above the Western Wall.

Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem in mount Moriah, where the Lord appeared unto David his father, in the place that David had prepared in the threshingfloor of Araunah the Jebusite.
(II Chronicles 3:1)

The "threshing" power of God is often referred to in the Books of the Prophets:

Behold, I will make you into a new threshing sledge with sharp teeth; you shall thresh the mountains and beat them small, and make the hills like chaff.
(Isaiah 41:15)

His breath is like an overflowing stream, which reaches up to the neck, to sift the nations with the sieve of futility; and there shall be a bridle in the jaws of the people, causing them to err.
(Isaiah 30:28)

And the Lord said, "Simon, Simon!  Indeed Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.  But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren."  (Luke 22:31-32)

Bahá'u'lláh is referred to in the Bahá'í Writings as "The Sifter of Men" (God Passes By, p. 94).  Bahá'u'lláh refers to the "sifter of wheat," the man who sifted the people of his day, in paragraph 166 of the Aqdas, as does the Báb in the Persian Bayán (Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 83.  See The Dawn-Breakers, p. 99)

TEST AND PROVE 𤶬ï£

Paragraph 54, pp. 49-51

And likewise, reflect upon the revealed verse concerning the "Qiblih." When Muhammad, the Sun of Prophethood, had fled from the dayspring of Batha unto Yathrib, He continued to turn His face, while praying, unto Jerusalem, the holy city, until the time when the Jews began to utter unseemly words against Him--words which if mentioned would ill befit these pages and would weary the reader. Muhammad strongly resented these words. Whilst, wrapt in meditation and wonder, He was gazing toward heaven, He heard the kindly Voice of Gabriel, saying: "We behold Thee from above, turning Thy face to heaven; but We will have Thee turn to a Qiblih which shall please Thee." On a subsequent day, when the Prophet, together with His companions, was offering the noontide prayer, and had already performed two of the prescribed Rik'ats, the Voice of Gabriel was heard again: "Turn Thou Thy face towards the sacred Mosque." In the midst of that same prayer, Muhammad suddenly turned His face away from Jerusalem and faced the Ka'bih. Whereupon, a profound dismay seized suddenly the companions of the Prophet. Their faith was  shaken severely. So great was their alarm, that many of them, discontinuing their prayer, apostatized their faith. Verily, God caused not this turmoil, but to test and prove His servants. Otherwise, He, the ideal King, could easily have left the Qiblih unchanged, and could have caused Jerusalem to remain the Point of Adoration unto His Dispensation, thereby withholding not from that holy city the distinction of acceptance which had been conferred upon it.



QIBLIH úë¦å
Also translated by Shoghi Effendi as the Point of adoration, the Object of the adoration of, the cynosure.


THE REVEALED VERSE CONCERNING THE "QIBLIH"

Or Qibla, the direction in which the worshipper's face must be turned when offering obligatory prayer, salát (Íqán, footnote p. 49 and Glossary, p. 267; Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Note 7, p. 168).  In the Bahá'í Faith, the Qiblih was established by the Báb with these, His words in the Arabic Bayán:  "The Qiblih is indeed He Whom God will make manifest; whenever He moveth, it moveth, until He shall come to rest."  This law was quoted and approved by Bahá'u'lláh in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, paragraph 137, p. 68.

UNTO JERUSALEM, THE HOLY CITY ùäîì£ «ý¦§ ó½
Literally, unto the sacred House, bayt al-muqaddas.

STRONGLY RESENTED ¹ò¹Ê ½Š¹çï
Also translated as “was angry with,” and “feel hurt.”

WHILST, WRAPT IN MEDITATION AND WONDER, HE WAS GAZING TOWARD HEAVEN

There are a few verses which speak of the Manifestations during the moments of Revelation.  Please compare:

Thus in moments in which these Essences of being were deeply immersed beneath the oceans of ancient and everlasting holiness, or when they soared to the loftiest summits of divine mysteries, they claimed their utterance to be the Voice of divinity, the Call of God Himself.
(Íqán paragraph 196, p. 179)

During the days I lay in the prison of Tihran, though the galling weight of the chains and the stench-filled air allowed Me but little sleep, still in those infrequent moments of slumber I felt as if something flowed from the crown of My head over My breast, even as a mighty torrent that precipitateth itself upon the earth from the summit of a lofty mountain. Every limb of My body would, as a result, be set afire. At such moments My tongue recited what no man could bear to hear.
(Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 22)

Marzieh Gail has written of Muhammad's son-in-law and immediate successor, the Imam `Alí:

He was a man broad and powerful, of the middle height, of ruddy complexion, of a thick and comely beard. He was utterly devoted to Muhammad, simple in tastes, strictly honest; when he was caliph, if he had business of state to perform at night, he would light a candle; then as soon as the work of the state was done, and he was at leisure, he would blow it out and sit in the darkness, rather than use the peoples' candle. When he prayed he was so rapt that once, an arrow having lodged in his foot at war, they waited till he was at prayer to withdraw it, knowing that then he would not feel the pain.
(Six Lessons on Islám, p. 32)

THE KINDLY VOICE OF GABRIEL

As Mr. Dunbar explains, Gabriel is the symbol of the Holy Spirit in the Islamic Dispensation (“Companion,” p. 106)

THE PRESCRIBED RIK`ATS

A rik`at, or Rak`ah, "is the recitation of specifically revealed verses accompanied by a prescribed set of genuflections and other movements."  (Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Note 4, p. 167)  The movements in one rik`at include standing, bowing with the hands on the knees, kneeling with the forehead to the floor, and being seated, together with other specified movements such as the raising of the hands in supplication, and the recitation of the specified verses.  As to these movements in Bahá'u'lláh's obligatory prayers, `Abdu'l-Bahá`wrote:

Know thou that in every word and movement of the obligatory prayer there are allusions, mysteries and a wisdom that man is unable to comprehend, and letters and scrolls cannot contain.
(From a Tablet of `Abdu'l-Bahá`translated from the Arabic, Compilation on Prayer, Compilation of Compilations, Volume II, p. 233 #1748)

In response to questions about the reason for turning one's face toward the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh during the obligatory prayers, apparently from a Bahá'í`who did not understand the reason for this turning, and who did not wish to perform the genuflections, Shoghi Effendi directed his secretary to write:

He would advise you to only use the short midday Obligatory Prayer. This has no genuflections and only requires that when saying it the believer turn his face towards `Akká where Bahá'u'lláh is buried. This is a physical symbol of an inner reality, just as the plant stretches out to the sunlight--from which it receives life and growth--so we turn our hearts to the Manifestation of God, Bahá'u'lláh, when we pray; and we turn our faces, during this short prayer, to where His dust lies on this earth as a symbol of the inner act...
Bahá'u'lláh has reduced all ritual and form to an absolute minimum in His Faith. The few forms that there are--like those associated with the two longer obligatory daily prayers--are only symbols of the inner attitude. There is a wisdom in them, and a great blessing, but we cannot force ourselves to understand or feel these things, that is why He gave us also the very short and simple prayer, for those who did not feel the desire to perform the acts associated with the other two.
(From a letter on Shoghi Effendi's behalf dated 24 June 1949, Compilation on Prayer, Compilation of Compilations, Volume II, pp. 242-243, #1780)


AND FACED THE KA'BIH úチ¦Ùチç

Also rendered as the Ka'ba or Kaaba, meaning "cube."  Please see the Glossary to the Íqán on page 262 of that Book.  It is approximately 50 feet on a side.  According to Muhammad Asad, the reason this was so difficult is that at the time the pagans were still worshipping idols in the Kaaba. Islamic tradition holds that it was originally built by Adam and rebuilt by Abraham and His son Ishmael, from whom Muhammad finds descent.  During the "Days of Ignorance" (ayyam al-Jahiliyyah) preceding Muhammad, there were 360 idols in and around the Ka'bih, and people would come from all over Arabia to worship them.  When Muhammad conquered Mecca, He rode on horseback to the doorway of the Ka'bih.  He directed that the idols ranged around the Ka'bih be smashed, and as this was done He recited "Truth has come and falsehood has departed."  Then He directed that the idols inside the Ka'bih be destroyed.  Later He established this same spot as the holiest place in Islam, the center of Pilgrimage, and retained some aspects of the pilgrimage rites performed during the Days of Ignorance.  For example, Muslims circle this spot seven times during the rite, as did the Arabs before the days of Muhammad.  Concerning those practices carried forward by Muhammad, `Abdu'l-Bahá has written:

Can one, God forbid, assume that because some of the divine laws resemble the practices of the Days of Ignorance, the customs of a people abhorred by all nations, it follows that there is a defect in these laws?  Or can one, God forbid, imagine that the Omnipotent Lord was moved to comply with the opinions of the heathen?  The divine wisdom takes many forms.  Would it have been impossible for Muhammad to reveal a Law which bore no resemblance whatever to any practice current in the Days of Ignorance?  Rather, the purpose of His consummate wisdom was to free the people from the chains of fanaticism which had bound them hand and foot, and to forestall those very objections which today confuse the mind and trouble the conscience of the simple and helpless.
(`Abdu'l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization, pp. 28-29)

It is highly desired by Muslim pilgrims, if possible among the millions of people circling, to reach and kiss the black stone (the "Rukn") set into one of its walls, reportedly placed there by Abraham.

The Báb made Pilgrimage to Mecca late in 1844, and while close by the Ka'bih and facing the Black Stone, He issued a challenge to a haughty Shaykhi near Him.

Verily I declare, none besides Me in this day, whether in the East or in the West, can claim to be the Gate that leads men to the knowledge of God.  My proof is none other than that proof whereby the truth of the Prophet Muhammad was established.  Ask Me whatsoever you please; now, at this very moment, I pledge Myself to reveal such verses as can demonstrate the truth of My mission.  You must choose either to submit yourself unreservedly to My Cause or to repudiate it entirely. (The Dawn-Breakers, p. 135; God Passes By, p. 9)

Thou beholdest how vast is the number of people who go to Mecca each year on pilgrimage and engage in circumambulation, while He, through the potency of Whose Word the Ka'bah hath become the object of adoration, is forsaken in this mountain.  He is none other but the but the Apostle of God Himself ...
(The Báb, The Persian Bayán, Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 105)

Bahá'u'lláh often uses the imagery of smashing the idols—a very powerful image among Muslims in particular:

Say:  O concourse of divines!  Hear ye not the shrill voice of My Most Exalted Pen?  See ye not this Sun that shineth in refulgent splendour above the All-Glorious Horizon?  For how long will ye worship the idols of your evil passions?   Forsake your vain imaginings, and turn yourselves unto God, your Everlasting Lord.
(The Most Holy Book, paragraph 41, p. 34)

Among the people are those who said:  He hath repudiated the divines.  Say:  Yea, by My Lord!  I, in very truth, was the One Who abolished the idols!
(The Proclamation of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 76)

Arise, O people, and, by the power of God's might, resolve to gain the victory over your own selves, that haply the whole earth may be freed and sanctified from its servitude to the gods of its idle fancies--gods that have inflicted such loss upon, and are responsible for the misery of their wretched worshippers.  These idols form the obstacle that impedeth man in his efforts to advance in the path of perfection.
(Bahá'u'lláh, The Tablet of the World, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 86)

Bahá'u'lláh sometimes uses "Ka'bih" in a symbolic sense:

When will a faithful seeker be found who will don the garb of pilgrimage, attain the Ka'bih of the heart's desire, and, without ear or tongue, discover the mysteries of divine utterance?
(Íqán, paragraph 78, p. 71)

Muhammad had prophesied:

And when the Mihdi is made manifest, He shall lean His back against the Ka'bih and shall address to the three hundred and thirteen followers who will have grouped around Him, these words:  "The Baqiyyatu'llah
[ö|‰ëì£ úýä§ Remnant of God, a reference to Bahá'u'lláh] will be best for you if ye are of those who believe."
(A Tradition quoted in The Dawn-Breakers, p. 352)

This was fulfilled when Quddus rode through the Persian forest surrounded by 313 followers of the Báb holding lighted candles:

Quddus, as he rode along in their midst, appeared as the day-star that shines amidst its satellites.  As the company slowly wended its way towards the fort, there broke forth the hymn of glorification and praise intoned by the band of his enthusiastic admirers.... The forest of Mazindaran re-echoed to the sound of their acclamations.  In this manner they reached the shrine of Shaykh Tabarsi.  The first words that fell from the lips of Quddus after he had dismounted and leaned against the shrine were the following:  "The Baqiyyatu'llah will be best for you if ye are of those who believe."
(The Dawn-Breakers, p. 352)

In the Tablet of Carmel Baha'u'llah directs Mount Carmel to call to Mount Zion,

"Hasten forth and circumambulate the City of God that hath descended from heaven, the celestial Kaaba round which have circled in adoration the favoured of God, the pure in heart, and the company of the most exalted angels."
(Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 4)

The Hand of the Cause of God Mr. Khadem in his pilgrim's notes from 1937 recalls these words of Shoghi Effendi concerning the "celestial Kaaba":

"Have you read the Tablet of Carmel?" was his query.  "The Tablet is there in the Pilgrim House.  The Blessed Beauty revealed this Tablet when His tent was first raised on Mount Carmel near the Deyr (Carmelite Monastery).  The Tablet was not completed.  It contains the divine mysteries of God.  Bahá'u'lláh said, 'Call out to Zion, O Carmel,' which means, O Carmel, address Jerusalem, 'and announce the joyful tidings:  He that was hidden from mortal eyes is come! ... Hasten forth and circumambulate the City of God ....'  The City of God refers to the establishment of the Shrine of the Báb on Mount Carmel.  The City of God in this Tablet is Bahá'u'lláh’s promise to entomb the sacred body of the Báb.  A 'celestial Kaaba' is a mystery ...
("Zikrullah Khadem, the Itinerant Hand of the Cause of God" by Javidukht Khadem, p. 291)


Paragraph 55, pp. 51-52

None of the many Prophets sent down, since Moses was made manifest, as Messengers of the Word of God, such as David, Jesus, and others among the more exalted Manifestations who have appeared during the intervening period between the Revelations of Moses and Muhammad, ever altered the law of the Qiblih. These Messengers of the Lord of creation have, one and all, directed their peoples to turn unto the same direction. In the eyes of God, the ideal King, all the places of the earth are one and the same, excepting that place which, in the days of His Manifestations, He doth appoint for a particular purpose. Even as He hath revealed: "The East and the West are God's: therefore whichever way ye turn, there is the face of God." Notwithstanding the truth of these facts, why should the Qiblih have been changed, thus casting such dismay amongst the people, causing the companions of the Prophet to waver, and throwing so great a confusion into their midst? Yea, such things as throw consternation into the hearts of all men come to pass only that each soul may be tested by the touchstone of God, that the true may be known and distinguished from the false. Thus hath He revealed after the breach amongst the people: "We did not appoint that which Thou wouldst have to be the Qiblih, but that We might know him who followeth the Apostle from him who turneth on his heels." "Affrighted asses fleeing from a lion."

DAVID

Furthermore, in His "Epistle to the Son of the Wolf" Bahá'u'lláh has revealed: "Lend an ear unto the song of David. He saith: 'Who will bring me into the Strong City?' The Strong City is `Akká, which hath been named the Most Great Prison, and which possesseth a fortress and mighty ramparts.”
(The Promised Day is Come, p. 77, quoting Psalm 60:9 and Psalm 108:10)

Of Him David had sung in his Psalms, acclaiming Him as the "Lord of Hosts" and the "King of Glory."
(God Passes By, p. 95)

David, in his Psalms, had predicted: "Lift up your head, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of Glory shall come in.  Who is this King of Glory?  The Lord of Hosts, He is the King of Glory."
(God Passes By, p. 184, quoting Psalm 24)

THE MORE EXALTED MANIFESTATIONS íÕÚ£ û¤ý¦ò£
Literally, the Nabi azam.

IN THE EYES OF GOD, THE IDEAL KING, ALL THE PLACES OF THE EARTH ARE ONE AND THE SAME

Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father."
(John 4:21)

"THE EAST AND THE WEST ARE GOD'S: THEREFORE WHICHEVER WAY YE TURN, THERE IS THE FACE OF GOD."

Bahá'u'lláh quotes this verse from the Qur'án in the Tablet of the Questions and Answers:

QUESTION:  The believers have been enjoined to face in the direction of the Qiblih when reciting their Obligatory Prayers; in what direction should they turn when offering other prayers and devotions?
ANSWER:  Facing in the direction of the Qiblih is a fixed requirement for the recitation of obligatory prayer, but for other prayers and devotions one may follow what the merciful Lord hath revealed in the Qur'án:  "Whichever way ye turn, there is the face of God."
(Kitáb-i-Aqdas p. 111)

QUESTION:  Concerning the Prayer for the Dead:  should it precede or follow the interment?  And is facing the Qiblih required?
ANSWER:  Recital of this prayer should precede interment; and as regards the Qiblih, "Whichever way ye turn, there is the face of God."
(Kitáb-i-Aqdas p. 131)


THAT EACH SOUL MAY BE TESTED

Please compare this verse from earlier in the Íqán:

Meditate profoundly, that the secret of things unseen may be revealed unto you, that you may inhale the sweetness of a spiritual and imperishable fragrance, and that you may acknowledge the truth that from time immemorial even unto eternity the Almighty hath tried, and will continue to try, His servants, so that light may be distinguished from darkness, truth from falsehood, right from wrong, guidance from error, happiness from misery, and roses from thorns.
(Íqán, Paragraph 8, pp. 8-9)

HIM WHO TURNETH ON HIS HEELS

Here are two translations of the Qur'ánic verse Bahá'u'lláh is quoting:

... and We appointed the Qiblih to which thou wast used, only to test those who followed the Apostle from those who would turn on their heels (from the faith).  Indeed it was (a change) momentous, except to those guided by God.

And it is only to the end that We might make a clear distinction between those who follow the Apostle and those who turn about on their heels that We have appointed [for this community] the direction of prayer which thou [O Prophet] has formerly observed: for this was indeed a hard test for all but those whom God has guided aright.
(Muhammad Asad) (Qur'án 2:143)

Please compare:

Hasten to drink your fill, O men of understanding!  They that have violated the Covenant of God by breaking His commandments, and have turned back on their heels, these have erred grievously in the sight of God, the All-Possessing, the Most High.
(Bahá'u'lláh, The Most Holy Book, paragraph 2, p. 20)

Purge your hearts of worldly desires, and let angelic virtues be your adorning.  Strive that by your deeds you may bear witness to the truth of these words of God, and beware lest, by "turning back," He may "change you for another people," who "shall not be your like," and who shall take from you the Kingdom of God.
(The Báb, Farewell Address to the Letters of the Living, "The Dawn-Breakers," p. 93)


"AFFRIGHTED ASSES FLEEING FROM A LION"

It will help to understand why Bahá'u'lláh quotes this Qur'ánic verse referring to those who reject the Divine Manifestation, if we read it in context.  It is from the Surih of The One Wrapping Himself Up.  This title refers to Muhammad's initial response when the Holy Spirit descended upon Him, and is referred to in this letter from the Guardian:

You have voiced the same suffering, the sign of the same mystery, as has been voiced by almost all those who have been called upon to serve God.  Even the Prophets of God, we know, suffered agony when the Spirit of God descended on Them and commanded Them to arise and preach.  Look at Moses saying, "I am a stutterer!"  Look at Muhammad rolled in His rug in agony!  The Guardian himself suffered terribly when he learned he was the one who had been made the Guardian.
(From a letter on the Guardian's behalf dated 11 January 1951 to an individual believer, "Unfolding Destiny," p. 459)


And We have set none but angels as guardians of the Fire; and We have fixed their number only as a trial for Unbelievers  in order that the people of the Book may arrive at certainty, and the Believers may increase in Faith  and that no doubts may be left for the People of the Book and the Believers, and that those in whose hearts is a disease and the Unbelievers may say, "What symbol doth God intend by this?" Thus doth God leave to stray whom He pleaseth, and guide whom He pleaseth; and none can know the forces of the Lord, except He, and this is no other than a warning to mankind.
Nay, verily: by the Moon,
And by the Night as it retreateth,
And by the Dawn as it shineth forth
This is but one of the mighty (Portents),
A warning to mankind
To any of you that chooses to press forward, or to follow behind
Every soul will be (held) in pledge for its deeds.
Except the Companions of the Right Hand.
(They will be) in Gardens (of Delight); they will question each other,
And (ask) of the Sinners:
"What led you into Hell Fire?"
They will say: "We were not of those who prayed;"
"Nor were we of those who fed the poor;"
"But we used to talk vanities with vain talkers;"
"And we used to deny the Day of Judgment,"
"Until there came to us (the Hour) that is certain."
Then will no intercession of (any) intercessors profit them.
Then what is the matter with them that they turn away from admonition?
As if they were affrighted asses,
Fleeing from a lion!
Forsooth, each one of them wants to be given scrolls (of revelation) spread out!
By no means! But they fear not the Hereafter.
Nay, this surely is an admonition:
Let any who will, keep it in remembrance!
(Qur'án 74:31 55)

And I saw still another mighty angel coming down from heaven, clothed with a cloud.  And a rainbow was on his head, his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire.  And he had a little book open in his hand.  And he set his right foot on the sea, and his left foot on the land, and cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roars.  And when he cried out, seven thunders uttered their voices.
(Revelation 10:1-3)

He is in truth the Omnipotent, the All Compelling. Should it be God's intention, there would appear out of the forests of celestial might the lion of indomitable strength whose roaring is like unto the peals of thunder reverberating in the mountains.
(Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 197)

Paragraph 56, pp. 52-53

Were you to ponder, but for a while, these utterances in your heart, you would surely find the portals of understanding unlocked before your face, and would behold all knowledge and the mysteries thereof unveiled before your eyes. Such things take place only that the souls of men may develop and be delivered from the prison-cage of self and desire. Otherwise, that ideal King hath, throughout eternity, been in His Essence independent of the comprehension of all beings, and will continue, for ever, in His own Being to be exalted above the adoration of every soul. A single breeze of His affluence doth suffice to adorn all mankind with the robe of wealth; and one drop out of the ocean of His bountiful grace is enough to confer upon all beings the glory of everlasting life. But inasmuch as the divine Purpose hath decreed that the true should be known from the false, and the sun from the shadow, He hath, therefore, in every season sent down upon mankind the showers of tests from His realm of glory.

PONDER  ê‰ï¤¬

Also translated by Shoghi Effendi as ponder in your heart, reflect upon, meditate.

THE PORTALS OF UNDERSTANDING  ð¤ý¦¬ ó üò¤Ùï
(ma`ani and bayán). Ma`ani is also translated by Shoghi Effendi as spirit, thoughts, knowledge, meaning, meanings, inner meaning, true meaning, mysteries, implication, significances, truths, all that we have stated.  ð¤ý¦¬ derived from bayan, is also translated as holy utterance, divine sayings, wisdom.


WERE YOU TO PONDER, BUT FOR A WHILE, THESE UTTERANCES IN YOUR HEART, YOU WOULD SURELY FIND THE PORTALS OF UNDERSTANDING UNLOCKED BEFORE YOUR FACE, AND WOULD BEHOLD ALL KNOWLEDGE AND THE MYSTERIES THEREOF UNVEILED BEFORE YOUR EYES

Observe and reflect upon the billows of the ocean of the utterance and knowledge of God, so that ye may testify with your inner and outer tongues that with Him is the knowledge of all that is in the Book. Nothing escapeth His knowledge.
(Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 150)


If you read the utterances of Bahá'u'lláh and `Abdu'l-Bahá with selflessness and care and concentrate upon them, you will discover truths unknown to you before and will obtain an insight into the problems that have baffled the great thinkers of the world.
(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi appended to a letter dated 30 January 1925 written on his behalf to an individual believer, Compilation on Deepening, Compilation of Compilations, Volume I, p. 205)


Indeed if an avowed follower of Bahá'u'lláh were to immerse himself in, and fathom the depths of, the ocean of these heavenly teachings, and with utmost care and attention deduce from each of them the subtle mysteries and consummate wisdom that lie enshrined therein, such a person's life, materially, intellectually and spiritually, will be safe from toil and trouble, and unaffected by setbacks and perils, or any sadness or despondency.
(From a letter on behalf of Shoghi Effendi dated 13 January 1923, Compilation on Deepening, Compilation of Compilations, Volume I, p. 204)

In such manner hath the Kitáb i Aqdas been revealed that it attracteth and embraceth all the divinely appointed Dispensations. Blessed those who peruse it. Blessed those who apprehend it. Blessed those who meditate upon it. Blessed those who ponder its meaning.
(Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 200)


YOU . . . WOULD BEHOLD ALL KNOWLEDGE AND THE MYSTERIES THEREOF UNVEILED BEFORE YOUR EYES

I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.  However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth.”  (Jesus Christ, John 16:12-13)

Verily, He Who is the Spirit of Truth is come to guide you unto all truth. He speaketh not as prompted by His own self, but as bidden by Him Who is the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.
(Bahá'u'lláh, Tablet to the Christians, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 12)

DESIRE

Corrupt desire, evil desire, worldly desires, vain and selfish desires, evil and corrupt affections, inordinate affections, O Son of Desire!, O Quintessence of Passion!, O Children of Negligence and Passion!, O bondslaves of desire.


THAT THE SOULS OF MEN MAY DEVELOP AND BE DELIVERED FROM THE PRISON-CAGE OF SELF AND DESIRE

Please compare these words of Bahá'u'lláh concerning the effects of Moses upon the souls who followed Him, in the next paragraph:

... liberating them from the shadows of the valley of self and desire ...
(Íqán paragraph 57, p. 54)


The Manifestations of God have come into the world to free man from these bonds and chains of the world of nature.  Although They walked upon the earth, They lived in heaven.  They were not concerned about material sustenance and prosperity of this world. Their bodies were subjected to inconceivable distress, but Their spirits ever soared in the highest realms of ecstasy.  The purpose of Their coming, Their teaching and suffering was the freedom of man from himself.  Shall we, therefore, follow in Their footsteps, escape from this cage of the body or continue subject to its tyranny?  Shall we pursue the phantom of a mortal happiness which does not exist or turn toward the tree of life and the joys of its eternal fruits?  I have come to this country in the advanced years of my life, undergoing difficulties of health and climate because of excessive love for the friends of God. It is my wish that they may be assisted to become servants of the heavenly Kingdom, captives in the service of the will of God.  This captivity is freedom; this sacrifice is glorification; this labor is reward; this need is bestowal.  For service in love for mankind is unity with God.  He who serves has already entered the Kingdom and is seated at the right hand of his Lord.
(Address by `Abdu'l-Baha, 11 June 1912, New York City, "The Promulgation of Universal Peace," pp. 185-186)



THAT IDEAL KING HATH, THROUGHOUT ETERNITY, BEEN IN HIS ESSENCE INDEPENDENT OF THE COMPREHENSION OF ALL BEINGS, AND WILL CONTINUE, FOR EVER, IN HIS OWN BEING TO BE EXALTED ABOVE THE ADORATION OF EVERY SOUL


GOD hath, at all times and under all conditions, been wholly independent of His creatures. He hath cherished and will ever cherish the desire that all men may attain His gardens of Paradise with utmost love, that no one should sadden another, not even for a moment, and that all should dwell within His cradle of protection and security until the Day of Resurrection which marketh the day-spring of the Revelation of Him Whom God will make manifest.
(The Báb, The Persian Bayán, Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 86)


INASMUCH AS THE DIVINE PURPOSE HATH DECREED THAT THE TRUE SHOULD BE KNOWN FROM THE FALSE, AND THE SUN FROM THE SHADOW, HE HATH, THEREFORE, IN EVERY SEASON SENT DOWN UPON MANKIND THE SHOWERS OF TESTS

"Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth?  I tell you, not at all, but rather division.  For from now on five in one house will be divided:  three against two, and two against three.  Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law."  Then He also said to the multitudes, "When you see a cloud rising out of the west, immediately you say, 'A shower is coming;' and so it is."
(Luke 12:51-55)

Paragraph 57, pp. 53-55

Were men to meditate upon the lives of the Prophets of old, so easily would they come to know and understand the ways of these Prophets that they would cease to be veiled by such deeds and words as are contrary to their own worldly desires, and thus consume every intervening veil with the fire burning in the Bush of divine knowledge, and abide secure upon the throne of peace and certitude. For instance, consider Moses, son 'Imran, one of the exalted Prophets and Author of a divinely-revealed Book. Whilst passing, one day, through the market, in His early days, ere His ministry was proclaimed, He saw two men engaged in fighting. One of them asked the help of Moses against his opponent. Whereupon, Moses intervened and slew him. To this testifieth the record of the sacred Book. Should the details be cited, they will lengthen and interrupt the course of the argument. The report of this incident spread throughout the city, and Moses was full of fear, as is witnessed by the text of the Book. And when the warning: "O Moses! of a truth, the chiefs take counsel to slay Thee" reached His ears, He went forth from the city, and sojourned in Midian in the service of Shoeb. While returning, Moses entered the holy vale, situate in the wilderness of Sinai, and there beheld the vision of the King of glory from the "Tree that belongeth neither to the East nor to the West." There He heard the soul-stirring Voice of the Spirit speaking from out of the kindled Fire, bidding Him to shed upon Pharaohic souls the light of divine guidance; so that, liberating them from the shadows of the valley of self and desire, He might enable them to attain the meads of heavenly delight, and delivering them, through the Salsabil of renunciation, from the bewilderment of remoteness, cause them to enter the peaceful city of the divine presence. When Moses came unto Pharaoh and delivered unto him, as bidden by God, the divine Message, Pharaoh spoke insultingly saying: "Art thou not he that committed murder, and became an infidel?" Thus recounted the Lord of majesty as having been said by Pharaoh unto Moses: "What a deed is that which Thou hast done! Thou art one of the ungrateful. He said: 'I did it indeed, and I was one of those who erred. And I fled from you when I feared you, but My Lord hath given Me wisdom, and hath made Me one of His Apostles.'"

WERE MEN TO MEDITATE UPON THE LIVES OF THE PROPHETS OF OLD, SO EASILY WOULD THEY COME TO KNOW AND UNDERSTAND THE WAYS OF THESE PROPHETS

They [four brothers who became believers] all lived in the same house, and remained together day and night.  Bird like, they shared the one nest; and they were always fresh and full of grace, like flowers in a bed.
When the Ancient Beauty arrived in `Iráq their house was in the neighborhood of His, and thus they had the joy of watching Him as He came and went.  Little by little the manner of that Lord of hearts, what He did and what He did not do, and the sight of His lovesome face, had its effect; they began to thirst after the Faith and to seek His grace and favor.  They presented themselves at the door of His house, as if they were flowers blooming there; and they were soon enamored of the light that shone out from His brow, captives of the beauty of that dear Companion.
(`Abdu'l-Bahá, Memorials of the Faithful, p. 77)


MOSES, SON 'IMRAN, ONE OF THE EXALTED PROPHETS

To prevent an act of cruelty, Moses struck down an Egyptian and afterward became known among men as a murderer, more notably because the man He had killed was of the ruling nation.  Then He fled, and it was after that that He was raised to the rank of a Prophet! In spite of His evil repute, how wonderfully He was guided by a supernatural power in establishing His great institutions and laws!
(`Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 15)


WHILST PASSING, ONE DAY, THROUGH THE MARKET, IN HIS EARLY DAYS, ERE HIS MINISTRY WAS PROCLAIMED, HE SAW TWO MEN ENGAGED IN FIGHTING. ONE OF THEM ASKED THE HELP OF MOSES AGAINST HIS OPPONENT. WHEREUPON, MOSES INTERVENED AND SLEW HIM.

Moses Himself, moreover, acknowledged His injustice and waywardness, and testified that fear had seized Him, and that He had transgressed, and fled away. He asked God   exalted be His glory   to forgive Him, and He was forgiven.
(Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, pp. 66-67.  See Exodus 2:11-12)


PHARAOH SPOKE INSULTINGLY SAYING: "ART THOU NOT HE THAT COMMITTED MURDER, AND BECAME AN INFIDEL?"

Regard the former times.  Had the calumnies of Pharaoh any effect?  He affirmed that Moses was a murderer, that he had slain a man and deserved to be executed!  He also declared that Moses and Aaron were fomenters of discord, that they tried to destroy the religion of Egypt and therefore must be put to death.  These words of Pharaoh were vainly spoken. The light of Moses shone.  The radiance of the Law of God has encircled the world!
(`Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 105)


  Therefore, it is conclusive and evident that the Manifestation of God in this day is distinguished from all former appearances and revelations by His majesty, His power and the efficacy and application of His Word. All the Prophets of God were scorned and persecuted.  Consider Moses.  The people called Him a murderer.  They said, "You killed a man and fled from punishment and retribution.  Is it possible after your former deeds that you could become a Prophet?" Many similar experiences are recorded concerning the holy, divine Messengers.  How bitter and severe was the persecution to which They were subjected!
(`Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 435)


MOSES ENTERED THE HOLY VALE

When Moses approached the burning bush, God told Him, "put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground."  (Exodus 3:5 and Qur'án 20:12).  Baha'u'llah's father Mirza Buzurg placed an inscription above the doorway to his home in Takur, where Bahá'u'lláh resided, instructing the visitors to remove their shoes when crossing the threshold of the Beloved, and using language similar to these verses, saying that the guest was entering holy ground. (See photograph, The Dawn-breakers, p. 112) From this it can be inferred that Mirza Buzurg had some understanding of his Son's Station.


MOSES ENTERED THE HOLY VALE, SITUATE IN THE WILDERNESS OF SINAI, AND THERE BEHELD THE VISION OF THE KING OF GLORY FROM THE "TREE THAT BELONGETH NEITHER TO THE EAST NOR TO THE WEST."

The enslavement, wretchedness and helplessness of the Hebrews reached such a pitch that they were never, day or night, secure in their own persons nor able to provide any defense for their wives and families against the tyranny of their Pharaohic captors.  Then their food was the fragments of their own broken hearts, and their drink a river of tears.  They continued on in this anguish until suddenly Moses, the All-Beauteous, beheld the Divine Light streaming out of the blessed Vale, the place that was holy ground, and heard the quickening voice of God as it spoke from the flame of that Tree "neither of the East nor of the West," and He stood up in the full panoply of His universal prophethood. In the midst of the Israelites, He blazed out like a lamp of Divine guidance, and by the light of salvation He led that lost people out of the shadows of ignorance into knowledge and perfection.  He gathered Israel's scattered tribes into the shelter of the unifying and universal Word of God, and over the heights of union He raised up the banner of harmony, so that within a brief interval those benighted souls became spiritually educated, and they who had been strangers to the truth, rallied to the cause of the oneness of God, and were delivered out of their wretchedness, their indigence, their incomprehension and captivity and achieved a supreme degree of happiness and honor.
(`Abdu'l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization, pp. 75-76)


THERE HE HEARD THE SOUL-STIRRING VOICE OF THE SPIRIT SPEAKING FROM OUT OF THE KINDLED FIRE

     Bahá'u'lláh is not the intermediary between other
     Manifestations and God.  Each has His own relation to
     the Primal Source.  But in the sense that Bahá'u'lláh is the      greatest Manifestation to yet appear, the One
     who consummates the Revelation of Moses, He was the One
     Moses conversed with in the Burning Bush.  In other
     words, Bahá'u'lláh identifies the glory of the God Head
     on that occasion with Himself.  No distinction can be
     made amongst the Prophets in the sense that They all
     proceed from one Source, and are of one essence.  But
     Their stations and functions in this world are
     different.
     (From a letter on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, "Unfolding
     Destiny," p. 448)


LIBERATING THEM FROM THE SHADOWS OF THE VALLEY OF SELF AND DESIRE, HE MIGHT ENABLE THEM TO ATTAIN THE MEADS OF HEAVENLY DELIGHT

John Hatcher, in his book "The Ocean of His Words -- A Reader's Guide to the Art of Baha'u'llah," provides a very helpful discussion of Bahá'u'lláh's use of such beautiful imagery.  See for example the chapter, "The Húrís of Inner Meaning," starting at p. 165 of that book.

Paragraph 58, pp. 55-56

And now ponder in thy heart the commotion which God stirreth up. Reflect upon the strange and manifold trials with which He doth test His servants. Consider how He hath suddenly chosen from among His servants, and entrusted with the exalted mission of divine guidance Him Who was known as guilty of homicide, Who, Himself, had acknowledged His cruelty, and Who for well-nigh thirty years had, in the eyes of the world, been reared in the home of Pharaoh and been nourished at his table. Was not God, the omnipotent King, able to withhold the hand of Moses from murder, so that manslaughter should not be attributed unto Him, causing bewilderment and aversion among the people?


PONDER IN THY HEART THE COMMOTION WHICH GOD STIRRETH UP

No sooner had that Revelation been unveiled to men's eyes than the signs of universal discord appeared among the peoples of the world, and commotion seized the dwellers of earth and heaven, and the foundations of all things were shaken. The forces of dissension were released, the meaning of the Word was unfolded, and every several atom in all created things acquired its own distinct and separate character. Hell was made to blaze, and the delights of Paradise were uncovered to men's eyes. Blessed is the man that turneth towards Thee, and woe betide him who standeth aloof from Thee, who denieth Thee and repudiateth Thy signs in this Revelation wherein the faces of the exponents of denial have turned black and the faces of the exponents of truthfulness have turned white, O Thou Who art the Possessor of all names and attributes, Who holdest in Thy grasp the empire of whatever hath been created in heaven and on earth!
(Prayers and Meditations by Baha'u'llah, p. 296)


HIM WHO WAS KNOWN AS GUILTY OF HOMICIDE

Now it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out to his brethren and looked at their burdens.  And he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his brethren.  So he looked this way and that way, and when he saw no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.  And when he went out the second day, behold, two Hebrew men were fighting, and he said to the one who did the wrong, "Why are you striking your companion?"  Then he said, "Who made you a prince and a judge over us?  Do you intend to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?'  So Moses feared and said, "Surely this thing is known!"
(Exodus 2:11-14.  The martyr St. Stephen repeats this incident to the high priest and the council in Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 7)

He (the Guardian) does not feel you should permit your speech impediment to give you a sense of inferiority.  Moses stammered!  And what you are and what you believe as a Bahá'í give you a tremendous advantage over others.  This does not mean that you should not make every effort to overcome it, and go to doctors for advice and assistance.  He also assures you he will pray that you may overcome this difficulty entirely, also that wherever you are the way will open for you to teach and serve the Faith.
(From a letter on behalf of the Guardian dated 27 September 1947, "Unfolding Destiny," p. 446)


You have voiced the same suffering, the sign of the same mystery, as has been voiced by almost all those who have been called upon to serve God.  Even the Prophets of God, we know, suffered agony when the Spirit of God descended on Them and commanded Them to arise and preach.  Look at Moses saying, "I am a stutterer!".  Look at Muhammad rolled in His rug in agony!  The Guardian himself suffered terribly when he learned he was the one who had been made the Guardian.
So you see your sense of inadequacy, your realisation of your own unworthiness is not unique at all.  Many, from the Highest to the humblest have had it.  Now the wisdom of it is this:  it is such seemingly weak instruments that demonstrate that God is the Power achieving the victories and not men.  If you were a wealthy, prominent, strong individual who knew all about Africa and looked upon going out there as fun, any service you render, and victories you have, would be laid to your personality, not to the Cause of God!  But because the reverse is true, your services will be a witness to the Power of Bahá'u'lláh and Truth of His Faith.
Rest assured, dear sister, you will ever increasingly be sustained, and you will find joy and strength given to you, and God will reward you.  You will pass through these dark hours triumphant.  The first Bahá'í going on such an historic mission could not but suffer   but the compensation will be great ....(From a letter on behalf of the Guardian dated 11 January 1951, "Unfolding Destiny," p. 459)


CAUSING BEWILDERMENT AND AVERSION AMONG THE PEOPLE

So blind hath become the human heart that neither the disruption of the city, nor the reduction of the mountain in dust, nor even the cleaving of the earth, can shake off its torpor. The allusions made in the Scriptures have been unfolded, and the signs recorded therein have been revealed, and the prophetic cry is continually being raised. And yet all, except such as God was pleased to guide, are bewildered in the drunkenness of their heedlessness!
(Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 39)

Paragraph 59, pp. 56-57

Likewise, reflect upon the state and condition of Mary. So deep was the perplexity of that most beauteous countenance, so grievous her case, that she bitterly regretted she had ever been born. To this beareth witness the text of the sacred verse wherein it is mentioned that after Mary had given birth to Jesus, she bemoaned her plight and cried out: "O would that I had died ere this, and been a thing forgotten, forgotten quite!" I swear by God! Such lamenting consumeth the heart and shaketh the being. Such consternation of soul, such despondency, could have been caused by no other than the censure of the enemy and the cavilings of the infidel and perverse. Reflect, what answer could Mary have given to the people around her? How could she claim that a Babe Whose father was unknown had been conceived of the Holy Ghost? Therefore did Mary, that veiled and immortal Countenance, take up her Child and return unto her home. No sooner had the eyes of the people fallen upon her than they raised their voice saying: "O sister of Aaron! Thy father was not a man of wickedness, nor unchaste thy mother."


LIKEWISE, REFLECT UPON THE STATE AND CONDITION OF MARY

One of the benefits of reading Mr. Dunbar's "Companion to the Study of the Kitab-i-Iqan" is his reverent and attentive treatment of Shoghi Effendi's comments on the Book of Certitude. He points out that this paragraph contains one of the major themes of the Íqán identified by the Guardian, that is, that in the Íqán, Bahá'u'lláh "upholds the purity and innocence of the Virgin Mary." (Dunbar, "Companion," pp. 109-110, citing Shoghi Effendi, "God Passes By," p. 139)

CONSTERNATION OF SOUL  ¥£¾ÓÒ£
Also translated by Shoghi Effendi as agitate, distress, tumult, trembling, perturbed, profound dismay, confusion, and as “troubled” in this verse of the Hidden Words: O SON OF MY HANDMAID! Be not troubled in poverty.

AFTER MARY HAD GIVEN BIRTH TO JESUS, SHE BEMOANED HER PLIGHT

With regard to your question concerning the Virgin Birth of Jesus; on this point, as on several others, the Bahá'í Teachings are in full agreement with the doctrines of the Catholic Church. In the 'Kitáb i Íqán' (Book of Certitude) p. 56, and in a few other Tablets still unpublished, Bahá'u'lláh confirms, however, indirectly, the Catholic conception of the Virgin Birth. Also `Abdu'l-Bahá in the 'Some Answered Questions', Chap. XII, p.73, [current US edition, p. 63] explicitly states that 'Christ found existence through the Spirit of God' which statement necessarily implies, when viewed in the light of the text, that Jesus was not the son of Joseph."
(From a letter dated October 14, 1945 written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer; Lights of Guidance, 5th Edition, pp. 490-491, #1639)


It would be sacrilege for a Bahá'í  to believe that the parents of Jesus were illegally married and that the latter was consequently of an illegal union. Such a possibility cannot be even conceived by a believer who recognizes the high station of Mary and the Divine Prophethood of Jesus Christ. It is this same false accusation which the people of His Day attributed to Mary that Bahá'u'lláh indirectly repudiated in the Íqán. The only alternative therefore is to admit that the birth of Jesus has been miraculous. The operation of miracles is not necessarily irrational or illogical. It does by no means constitute a limitation of the Omnipotence of God. The belief in the possibilities of miracles, on the contrary, implies that God's power is beyond any limitation whatsoever. For it is only logical to believe that the Creator, Who is the sole Author of all the laws operating in the universe, is above them and can, therefore, if He deems it necessary, alter them at His Own Will. We, as humans, cannot possibly attempt to read His Mind, and to fully grasp His Wisdom. Mystery is therefore an inseparable part of true religion, and as such, should be recognized by the believers.
(Letter from the Guardian to an individual believer, October 1, 1935: Canadian Bahá'í News, February 1968, p. 11; Lights of Guidance, 5th edition, p. 491, #1641)


  What science calls a virgin birth we do not associate with that of Jesus Christ, which we believe to have been a miracle and a sign of His Prophethood.  In this matter we are in entire agreement with the most orthodox church views.
(From a letter on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, "High Endeavours, Messages to Alaska," p. 70, #87)


First regarding the birth of Jesus Christ. In the light of what Bahá'u'lláh and `Abdu'l-Bahá have stated concerning this subject it is evident that Jesus came into this world through the direct intervention of the Holy Spirit, and that consequently His birth was quite miraculous. This is an established fact, and the friends need not feel at all surprised, as the belief in the possibility of miracles has never been rejected in the Teachings. Their importance, however, has been minimized. (From a letter dated December 31, 1937 written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer; Lights of Guidance, 5th edition, p. 490, #1637)

The Catholic Church teaches not only that the conception of Jesus in the womb of Mary was miraculous (which the Church terms "the miracle of the Virgin Birth") as the Guardian has several times confirmed in these letters just quoted.  In addition the Catholic Church teaches that the conception of Mary (which the Church titles "The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary") was unique in that her soul at conception was free from the "original sin" passed down to all humanity from the fall of Adam. This view is not upheld by the Bahá'í teachings, which reject the notion of original sin (`Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, Chapter 29, p. 120), though the purity and stainlessness of Mary is fully upheld.  Catholics also believe in the perpetual virginity of Mary, although the Gospel refers to brothers and sisters of Jesus (Matthew 13:55-56); the Church interprets this verse to mean the spiritual brothers and sisters of Christ, i.e. believers.  Shoghi Effendi appears to confirm that Christ had siblings:

We believe that Christ only was conceived immaculately. His brothers and sisters would have been born in the natural way and conceived naturally.
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer dated November 19, 1945: Bahá'í News, No. 210, p. 3, August 1948; Lights of Guidance, 5th edition, p. 491, #1640)

The following letter confirms an important principle:  The primacy of the Bahá'í Writings in matters of religious history:

Regarding the date of the birth of Jesus Christ; `Abdu'l-Bahá's statement on this should be considered by the Bahá'u'lláh as the standard, and as the basis of their calculation.
(From a letter dated July 10, 1939 written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer; Lights of Guidance, 5th edition, p. 490, #1636)

As to the position of Christianity, let it be stated without any hesitation or equivocation that its divine origin is unconditionally acknowledged, that the Sonship and Divinity of Jesus Christ are fearlessly asserted, that the divine inspiration of the Gospel is fully recognized, that the reality of the mystery of the Immaculacy of the Virgin Mary is confessed, and the primacy of Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, is upheld and defended. The Founder of the Christian Faith is designated by Bahá'u'lláh as the "Spirit of God," is proclaimed as the One Who "appeared out of the breath of the Holy Ghost," and is even extolled as the "Essence of the Spirit." His mother is described as "that veiled and immortal, that most beauteous, countenance," and the station of her Son eulogized as a "station which hath been exalted above the imaginings of all that dwell on earth," whilst Peter is recognized as one whom God has caused "the mysteries of wisdom and of utterance to flow out of his mouth." "
(Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day is Come, pp. 109-110)

THAT VEILED AND IMMORTAL COUNTENANCE

Little wonder that `Abdu'l-Bahá should have joined her name [Táhirih] to those of Sarah, of Asiyih, of the Virgin Mary and of Fátimih, who, in the course of successive Dispensations, have towered, by reason of their intrinsic merits and unique position, above the rank and file of their sex.
(Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 75)

“He [Shoghi Effendi] surprised us, who had taken it as symbolic, not literal, when he said that Bahá'ís believe in the Virgin Birth of Christ by the 'direct intervention of the Holy Spirit'. He said that otherwise Mary would not have been in such dire distress. (See the Surih of Mary in the Qur'án, where she cries, 'Oh would that I had died ere this, and been a thing forgotten, forgotten quite!') [Qur'án 19:22].
“Bahá'u'lláh, in the Íqán , refers to Mary as 'that veiled and immortal countenance'. 'Veiled' is the Arabic mukhaddarih [ œõ½Š¹¸ï  ], implying a maiden behind the veil of chastity.”
(Marzieh Gail, Arches of the Years, p. 305)


Iqan, paragraph 60, p. 57:

AND NOW, MEDITATE UPON THIS MOST GREAT CONVULSION, THIS GRIEVOUS TEST. NOTWITHSTANDING ALL THESE THINGS, GOD CONFERRED UPON THAT ESSENCE OF THE SPIRIT, WHO WAS KNOWN AMONGST THE PEOPLE AS FATHERLESS, THE GLORY OF PROPHETHOOD, AND MADE HIM HIS TESTIMONY UNTO ALL THAT ARE IN HEAVEN AND ON EARTH.


MOST GREAT CONVULSION û¾¦ç œöñ¬â fitnah kabirí
Fitnah is also translated as test, trouble, storm of mischief.  Kabir is also translated as supreme, high, mighty.

MEDITATE UPON THIS MOST GREAT CONVULSION, THIS GRIEVOUS TEST

How many a soul hath turned itself unto the Lord and entered into the protective shadow of His Word, and become famed throughout the world  for example, Judas Iscariot.  And then, when the tests grew harsh and the violence thereof intensified, their feet slipped on the pathway and they turned backward from the Faith after having acknowledged its truth, and they denied it, and fell away from harmony and love into mischief and hate. Thus became visible the power of tests, which maketh mighty pillars to tremble and shake.
(Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 163)


O thou lamp who art illuminated with the light of the Love of God! Leave thou the world and abandon the people and turn unto the Kingdom of thy independent Lord. Beseech Him every morn and eve and supplicate to the Gate of His Oneness to make thee firm and steadfast in the Testament and to guard thee from all calamities, with the eye of His protection, and protect thee from the tests which are (so violent) as the whirlwinds which uproot trees.
(Tablets of `Abdu'l-Bahá `Abbas, Volume I, p. 73)


THAT ESSENCE OF THE SPIRIT, WHO WAS KNOWN AMONGST THE PEOPLE AS FATHERLESS

As regards to your questions concerning the station of Jesus Christ, and His return as explained in the Gospel. It is true that Jesus referred to Himself as the Son of God, but this, as explained by Bahá'u'lláh in the Íqán, does not indicate any Physical relationship whatever. Its meaning is entirely spiritual and points to the close relationship existing between Him and the Almighty God. Nor does it necessarily indicate any inherent superiority in the station of Jesus over other Prophets and Messengers.  As far as their spiritual nature is concerned all Prophets can be regarded as Sons of God, as they all reflect His light, though not in an equal measure, and this difference in reflection is due to the conditions and circumstances under which they appear.
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 29, 1937; Lights of Guidance, 5th Edition (1997), p. 492, #1644)


GOD CONFERRED UPON THAT ESSENCE OF THE SPIRIT . . . THE GLORY OF PROPHETHOOD

There is, therefore, only one way to God and that is through the realization of his Manifestation or Prophet in that age. Christ called the world of the prophets the word in the verse of 'the word became flesh' while `Abdu'l-Bahá calls it the Will. Anyhow it is only through these that we can know God. These manifest the Divine attributes and therefore by knowing them we can know God. The mystic path that the traveller should follow is therefore to the Prophet. By coming in contact with Him will he obtain peace.
(From a letter on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 29, 1929, Lights of Guidance, 5th edition, p. 511, #1725)


Iqan, paragraph 61, pp. 57-58

Behold how contrary are the ways of the Manifestations of God, as ordained by the King of creation, to the ways and desires of men! As thou comest to comprehend the essence of these divine mysteries thou wilt grasp the purpose of God the divine Charmer, the Best Beloved. Thou wilt regard the words and the deeds of that almighty Sovereign as one and the same; in such wise that whatsoever thou dost behold in His deeds, the same wilt thou find in His sayings, and whatsoever thou dost read in His sayings, that wilt thou recognize in His deeds. Thus it is that outwardly such deeds and words are the fire of vengeance unto the wicked, and inwardly the waters of mercy unto the righteous. Were the eye of the heart to open, it would surely perceive that the words revealed from the heaven of the will of God are at one with, and the same as, the deeds that have emanated from the Kingdom of divine power.

BEHOLD HOW CONTRARY ARE THE WAYS OF THE MANIFESTATIONS OF GOD, AS ORDAINED BY THE KING OF CREATION, TO THE WAYS AND DESIRES OF MEN!

"Always, man has confronted the Prophets with this:  'We were enjoying ourselves, and living according to our own opinions and desires.  We ate, we slept, we sang; we danced.  We had no fear of God, no hope of Heaven; we liked what we were doing, we had our own way.  And then you came.  You took away our pleasures.  You told us now of the wrath of God, again of the fear of punishment and the hope of reward.  You upset our good way of life.'
"The Prophets of God have always replied:  'You were content to stay in the animal world, We wanted to make you human beings.  You were dark, We wanted you illumined; you were dead, We wanted you alive.  You were earthly, We wanted you heavenly.'"
(Reported words of `Abdu'l-Bahá spoken in London, "A Sampler from Mahmud's Diary" translated by Marzieh Gail, "The Bahá'í World," Volume XIII, p. 1187)


It is clear, then, that tests and trials are, for sanctified souls, but God's bounty and grace, while to the weak, they are a calamity, unexpected and sudden.  These tests, even as thou didst write, do but cleanse the spotting of self from off the mirror of the heart, till the Sun of Truth can cast its rays thereon; for there is no veil more obstructive than the self, and however tenuous that veil may be, at the last it will completely shut a person out, and deprive him of his portion of eternal grace.
(Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 182)


The tests of every dispensation are in direct proportion to the greatness of the Cause, and as heretofore such a manifest Covenant, written by the Supreme Pen, hath not been entered upon, the tests are proportionately more severe. These trials cause the feeble souls to waver while those who are firm are not affected.
(Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Baha, p. 210)

THE DIVINE CHARMER, THE BEST-BELOVED ½¤éò
Also translated by Shoghi Effendi as Beloved, the Adored One, and in this passage from the Hidden Words, the Loved One: O BRETHREN IN THE PATH!
Wherefore have ye neglected the mention of the Loved One.

WHATSOEVER THOU DOST BEHOLD IN HIS DEEDS, THE SAME WILT THOU FIND IN HIS SAYINGS

As Bahá'u'lláh explains later in the Íqán, the words and deeds of true believers are also a standard of truth:

Be fair: Is the testimony of those acceptable and worthy of attention whose deeds agree with their words, whose outward behaviour conforms with their inner life? (Íqán, paragraph 250, pp. 224-225)


OUTWARDLY SUCH DEEDS AND WORDS ARE THE FIRE OF VENGEANCE UNTO THE WICKED, AND INWARDLY THE WATERS OF MERCY UNTO THE RIGHTEOUS

These verses, clear and conclusive, are a token of the mercy of thy Lord and a source of guidance for all mankind. They are a light unto those who believe in them and a fire of afflictive torment for those who turn away and reject them.
(Extract from a Tablet of Bahá'u'lláh, Compilation on Martyrdom, "Fire and Light")

For compared with all other proofs and tokens, the divinely-revealed verses shine as the sun, whilst all others are as stars. To the peoples of the world they are the abiding testimony, the incontrovertible proof, the shining light of the ideal King. Their excellence is unrivalled, their virtue nothing can surpass. They are the treasury of the divine pearls and the depository of the divine mysteries. They constitute the indissoluble Bond, the firm Cord, the 'Urvatu'l-Vuthqa, the inextinguishable Light. Through them floweth the river of divine knowledge, and gloweth the fire of His ancient and consummate wisdom. This is the fire which, in one and the same moment, kindleth the flame of love in the breasts of the faithful, and induceth the chill of heedlessness in the heart of the enemy.
    (Bahá'u'lláh, Íqán, paragraph 226, p. 205)

These verses, clear and conclusive, are a token of the mercy of thy Lord and a source of guidance for all mankind. They are a light unto those who believe in them and a fire of afflictive torment for those who turn away and reject them.
(Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 163)

Verily, this is the Point which God hath ordained to be an ocean of light for the sincere among His servants and a flame of fire to the froward amidst His creatures and the impious among His people--they who bartered away the gift of God for unbelief, and the celestial food for hypocrisy, and led their associates to a wretched abode.
(Baha'u'llah, Tablet of Ishraqat, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 102)

O spiritual friends and loved ones of the All-Merciful! In every Age believers are many but the tested are few. Render ye praise unto God that ye are tested believers, that ye have been subjected to every kind of trial and ordeal in the path of the supreme Lord. In the fire of ordeals your faces have flushed aglow like unto pure gold, and amidst the flames of cruelty and oppression which the wicked had kindled, ye suffered yourselves to be consumed while remaining all the time patient. Thus ye have initiated every believer into the ways of steadfastness and fortitude. You showed them the meaning of forbearance, of constancy, and of sacrifice, and what leadeth to dismay and distress. This indeed is a token of the gracious providence of God and a sign of the infinite favours vouchsafed by the Abhá Beauty Who hath singled out the friends of that region to bear grievous sufferings in the path of His love. Outwardly they are fire, but inwardly light and an evidence of His glory. Ye have been examples of the verse: 'Let them that are men of action follow in their footsteps.' 'And to this let those aspire who aspire unto bliss.'
(Extract from a Tablet of `Abdu'l-Bahá, Compilation on Martyrdom, "Fire and Light")

My calamity is My providence, outwardly it is fire and vengeance, but inwardly it is light and mercy. Hasten thereunto that thou mayest become an eternal light and an immortal spirit. This is My command unto thee, do thou observe it.
(Bahá'u'lláh, Hidden Words, Arabic #51)

They that immerse themselves in the ocean of His utterances should at all times have the utmost regard for the divinely-revealed ordinances and prohibitions. Indeed His ordinances constitute the mightiest stronghold for the protection of the world and the safeguarding of its peoples--a light upon those who acknowledge and recognize the truth, and a fire unto such as turn away and deny.
(Bahá'u'lláh, Tablet of Tajalliyat, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 50)

Iqan, paragraph 62, p. 58

And now, take heed, O brother! If such things be revealed in this Dispensation, and such incidents come to pass, at the present time, what would the people do? I swear by Him Who is the true Educator of mankind and the Revealer of the Word of God that the people would instantly and unquestionably pronounce Him an infidel and would sentence Him to death. How far are they from hearkening unto the voice that declareth: Lo! a Jesus hath appeared out of the breath of the Holy Ghost, and a Moses summoned to a divinely appointed task! Were a myriad voices to be raised, no ear would listen if We said that upon a fatherless child hath been conferred the mission of Prophethood, or that a murderer hath brought from the flame of the burning Bush the message of "Verily, verily, I am God!"

TAKE HEED öÕ¶¤ëï
Also translated by Shoghi Effendi as: Behold, if thou wilt observe, were the eye of discernment to be opened, it would recognize that, consider, ye will discover, it behoveth you to ascertain, as thou hast observed, witness, examine . . .  and behold, recognize, it hath already been abundantly demonstrated that, discover, regard, concern yourselves with, look into, carefully scrutinize, reflect upon, were the eye of discernment to be opened, consider attentively, it will be seen that.


I SWEAR BY HIM WHO IS THE TRUE EDUCATOR OF MANKIND

Man is said to be the greatest representative of God, and he is the Book of Creation because all the mysteries of beings exist in him.  If he comes under the shadow of the True Educator and is rightly trained, he becomes the essence of essences, the light of lights, the spirit of spirits; he becomes the center of the divine appearances, the source of spiritual qualities, the rising place of heavenly lights, and the receptacle of divine inspirations.
(`Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 236)


O Company of God! To each created thing, the Ancient Sovereignty hath portioned out its own perfection, its particular virtue and special excellence, so that each in its degree may become a symbol denoting the sublimity of the true Educator of humankind, and that each, even as a crystalline mirror, may tell of the grace and splendour of the Sun of Truth. And from amongst all creatures He hath singled out man, to grant him His most wondrous gift, and hath made him to attain the bounties of the Company on High. That most precious of gifts is attainment unto His unfailing guidance, that the inner reality of humankind should become as a niche to hold this lamp; and when the scattering splendours of this light do beat against the bright glass of the heart, the heart's purity maketh the beams to blaze out even stronger than before, and to shine in glory on the minds and souls of men.
(From a Tablet of `Abdu'l-Bahá, Compilation on Bahá'í Education, Compilation of Compilations, Volume I, p. 252)


THE REVEALER OF THE WORD OF GOD

Please consider this marvelous proof from the Báb's "Tablet of the Seven Proofs":

Now the Ever-Living Lord hath made manifest and invested with supreme testimony this long awaited Promised One from a place no one could imagine and from a person whose knowledge was deemed of no account. His age is no more than twenty-five years, yet His glory is such as none of the learned among the people of Islám can rival; inasmuch as man's glory lieth in his knowledge. Behold the learned who are honoured by virtue of their ability to understand the Holy Writings, and God hath exalted them to such a degree that in referring to them He saith: 'None knoweth the meaning thereof except God and them that are well-grounded in knowledge.' How strange then that this twenty-five-year-old untutored one should be singled out to reveal His verses in so astounding a manner. If the Muslim divines have cause for pride in understanding the meaning of the Holy Writings, His glory is in revealing the Writings, that none of them may hesitate to believe in His Words. So great is the celestial might and power which God hath revealed in Him that if it were His will and no break should intervene He could, within the space of five days and nights, reveal the equivalent of the Qur'án which was sent down in twenty three years. Ponder thou and reflect. Hath anyone like unto Him ever appeared in former times, or is this characteristic strictly confined unto Him?
("Selections from the Writings of the Báb," p. 118)

THE PEOPLE WOULD INSTANTLY AND UNQUESTIONABLY PRONOUNCE HIM AN INFIDEL AND WOULD SENTENCE HIM TO DEATH

Please compare this passage which appears later in the Íqán:

Such men, when acquainted with these circumstances, become so veiled that without the least question, they pronounce the Manifestation of God an infidel, and sentence Him to death. You must have heard of such things taking place all down the ages, and are now observing them in these days.
(Íqán, paragraph 81, p. 74)

But they shouted, saying, "Crucify Him, crucify Him!"  And Pilate said to them the third time, "Why, what evil has He done?  I have found no reason for death in Him.  I will therefore chastise Him and let Him go."  But they were insistent, demanding with loud voices that He be crucified.  And the voices of these men and of the chief priests prevailed. So Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they requested.
(Luke 23:21-24)

Íqán, paragraph 63, pp. 58-59

IF THE EYE OF JUSTICE BE OPENED

The word the Guardian here translates as “justice”, à¤Íò£ `insáf,
he elsewhere translates as: Equity, with an open and unbiased mind, O Son of Justice!, fair, be fair in your judgment, just and fair-minded, bestow justice [`adl] upon the rulers, and fairness [`insáf] upon the divines,
judge thou equitably, be fair in thy judgment, understanding, with unswerving vision, gaze with the eye of justice.  “The legislative body must reinforce the executive, the executive must aid and assist the legislative body so that through the close union and harmony of these two forces, the foundation of fairness [`insáf] and justice [`adl] may become firm and strong . . .” (Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 15)

HE WHO IS THE CAUSE AND ULTIMATE PURPOSE OF ALL THESE THINGS

A reference to the Báb.  Compare “and claim Himself to be the goal of all creation” (Íqán, paragraph 80, p. 73.)  The Báb refers to Himself as “He Who representeth the origin of creation” in the Tablet of Seven Proofs (Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 119)

HOW SEVERE THE PERSECUTIONS INFLICTED UPON HIM

“I swear by God! Shouldst thou know the things which in the space of these four years have befallen Me at the hands of thy people and thine army, thou wouldst hold thy breath from fear of God. . . ”

“In this mountain I have remained alone, and have come to such a pass that none of those gone before Me have suffered what I have suffered, nor any transgressor endured what I have endured!”
(The Báb, Epistle to Muhammad Shah, Selections from the Writings of the Báb, pp. 13, 16)

Bahá'u'lláh returns to this subject later in the Íqán:

And now consider how this Sadrih of the Ridván of God hath, in the prime of youth, risen to proclaim the Cause of God.  Behold what steadfastness that Beauty of God hah revealed.  The whole world rose to hinder Him, yet it utterly failed.  The more severe the persecution they inflicted on that Sadrih of Blessedness, the more His fervour increased, and the brighter burned the flame of His love.  All this is evident, and none disputeth its truth.  Finally, He surrendered His soul, and winged His flight unto the realms above.
(Íqán, paragraph 262, pp. 233-234)

Íqán, paragraph 64, pp. 59-60

Great God! When the stream of utterance reached this stage, We beheld, and lo! the sweet savours of God were being wafted from the dayspring of Revelation, and the morning breeze was blowing out of the Sheba of the Eternal. Its tidings rejoiced anew the heart, and imparted immeasurable gladness to the soul. It made all things new, and brought unnumbered and inestimable gifts from the unknowable Friend. The robe of human praise can never hope to match Its noble stature, and Its shining figure the mantle of utterance can never fit. Without word It unfoldeth the inner mysteries, and without speech It revealeth the secrets of the divine sayings. It teacheth lamentation and moaning to the nightingales warbling upon the bough of remoteness and bereavement, instructeth them in the art of love's ways, and showeth them the secret of heart-surrender. To the 60 flowers of the Ridván of heavenly reunion It revealeth the endearments of the impassioned lover, and unveileth the charm of the fair. Upon the anemones of the garden of love It bestoweth the mysteries of truth, and within the breasts of lovers It entrusteth the symbols of the innermost subtleties. At this hour, so liberal is the outpouring of Its grace that the holy Spirit itself is envious! It hath imparted to the drop the waves of the sea, and endowed the mote with the splendour of the sun. So great are the overflowings of Its bounty that the foulest beetle hath sought the perfume of the musk, and the bat the light of the sun. It hath quickened the dead with the breath of life, and caused them to speed out of the sepulchres of their mortal bodies. It hath established the ignorant upon the seats of learning, and elevated the oppressor to the throne of justice.

*add Zikrullah Khadem p. 178



GREAT GOD! ¾¦ç£ ö|‰ëì£  Alláh’u-Akbar

Also translated by Shoghi Effendi as “most great is God.”

This paragraph 64 can be compared to paragraphs 23 and 197 of the Íqán.

THE HOLY SPIRIT ITSELF IS ENVIOUS

Compare:  “The Holy Spirit Itself [ùäì£ µóŠ¾ì£ al-rúh al-quds] hath been generated through the agency of a single letter revealed by this Most Great Spirit  [íÕÚ¤ì£ µóŠ¾ì£ al-rúh al-`azam] if ye be of them that comprehend.”  (Bahá'u'lláh, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 109)


IT HATH ESTABLISHED THE IGNORANT UPON THE SEATS OF LEARNING

Compare paragraphs 154 and 155 of the Íqán, where Bahá'u'lláh more fully develops this theme.  Also:

“the exalting of the illiterate faithful above the learned opposers of the Faith.”  Paragraph 79, p. 72.

Íqán paragraph 65, pp. 60-61

MANIFOLD BOUNTIES «¤þ¤ñÚ `anayát or enayat, also translated as grace, manifold favors, mercy, blessings.

AWAITING THE HOUR

The references in this paragraph to the burning of the Bush, and wishing the “unseen gifts” of His Revelation to become manifest in the world, corresponds with the “Hidden Treasure” Tradition:

I was a Hidden Treasure.  I wished to be made known, and thus I called creation into being in order that I might be known.

O wayfarer in the path of the Beloved! Know thou that the main
purpose of this holy tradition is to make mention of the stages of
God's concealment and manifestation within the Embodiments of
Truth, They who are the Dawning-places of His All-Glorious
Being. For example, before the flame of the undying Fire is lit
and manifest, it existeth by itself within itself in the hidden
identity of the universal Manifestations, and this is the stage of
the "Hidden Treasure". And when the blessed Tree is kindled
by itself within itself, and that Divine Fire burneth by its
essence within its essence, this is the stage of "I wished to be made known". And when it shineth forth from the Horizon of the
universe with infinite Divine Names and Attributes upon the
contingent and placeless worlds, this constituteth the emergence of
a new and wondrous creation which correspondeth to the stage of
"Thus I called creation into being". And when the sanctified
souls rend asunder the veils of all earthly attachments and
worldly conditions, and hasten to the stage of gazing on the
beauty of the Divine Presence and are honoured by recognizing
the Manifestation and are able to witness the splendour of God's
Most Great Sign in their hearts, then will the purpose of
creation, which is the knowledge of Him Who is the Eternal
Truth, become manifest.
(`Abdu'l-Bahá, quoted in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, pp. 175-176, footnote 23)

KAWTHAR

The Islamic dictionary states that al-Kawthar literally means “The Abundant”.  It is viewed as the name of a river in Paradise, though the Qur'án does not actually specify that Kawthar is a river.  See the Glossary to the Íqán, page 263, apparently prepared with the permission of Shoghi Effendi, where it states that it is the river in Paradise from which all the others flow, and provides additional information.

IN THE SOIL OF WHOSE HEART WILL THESE HOLY SEEDS GERMINATE?

This brings to mind the parable of the sower and the seed, given by Jesus in the 13th Chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, the 4th Chapter of the Gospel of Mark, and the 8th Chapter of the Gospel of Luke.

Also, Shoghi Effendi though his secretary has written:

When a person becomes a Bahá'í, actually what takes place is that the seed of the spirit starts to grow in the human soul. This seed must be watered by the outpourings of the Holy Spirit. These gifts of the spirit are received through prayer, meditation, study of the Holy Utterances and service to the Cause of God. The fact of the matter is that service in the Cause is like the plough which ploughs the physical soil when seeds are sown. It is necessary that the soil be ploughed up, so that it can be enriched, and thus cause a stronger growth of the seed. In exactly the  same way the evolution of the spirit takes place through ploughing up the soil of the heart so that it is a constant reflection of the Holy Spirit. In this way the human spirit grows and develops by leaps and bounds.
(From a letter dated 6 October 1954 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer; the Compilation on the Bahá'í Life; Compilation of Compilations, Volume II, p. 25, #1334)

Also, please compare paragraph 211 of the Íqán.

KINDLE WITH THE OIL OF WISDOM THE LAMP OF THE SPIRIT WITHIN THE INNERMOST CHAMBER OF THY HEART, AND GUARD IT WITH THE GLOBE OF UNDERSTANDING

Compare the Parable of the Foolish Virgins and the Wise Virgins in the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 25, and the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 12, and Qur'án 57:13-14.

Also, in the Tablets of the Divine Plan, in a Tablet addressed to the Bahá'ís of the Northeastern states, `Abdu'l-Bahá has written:

Likewise, the continent of America is, in the eyes of the one true God, the land wherein the splendors of His light shall be revealed, where the mysteries of His Faith shall be unveiled, where the righteous will abide and the free assemble. Therefore, every section thereof is blessed: but because these nine states have been favored in faith and assurance, hence through this precedence they have obtained spiritual privilege. They must realize the value of this bounty; because they have obtained such a favor and in order to render thanksgiving for this most great bestowal, they must arise in the diffusion of divine fragrances so that the blessed verse of the Qur'án, "God is the light of heaven and earth: the similitude of His light is a niche in a wall, wherein a lamp is placed, and the lamp enclosed in a case of glass; the glass appears as if it were a shining star. It is lighted with the oil of a Blessed Tree, an olive neither of the East, nor of the West; it wanteth little but that the oil thereof would give light, although no fire touched it. This is the light added unto light. God will direct unto His light whom He pleaseth" [Qur'án 24:35.] -- may be realized.

He says: The world of nature is the world of darkness, because it is the origin of a thousand depravities; nay, rather, it is darkness upon darkness. The illumination of the world of nature is dependent upon the splendor of the Sun of Reality. The grace of guidance is like unto the candle which is enkindled in the glass of knowledge and wisdom and that glass of knowledge and wisdom is the mirror of the heart of humanity. The oil of that luminous lamp is from the fruits of the Blessed Tree and that oil is so refined that it will burn without light. When the intensity of the light and the translucency of the glass and the purity of the mirror are brought together, it will become light upon light.

In brief, in these nine blessed states `Abdu'l-Bahá journeyed and traveled from place to place, explained the wisdom of the heavenly books and diffused the fragrances. In most of these states he founded the divine Edifice and opened the door of teaching. In those states he sowed pure seeds and planted blessed trees.

Now the believers of God and the maidservants of the Merciful must irrigate these fields and with the utmost power engage themselves in the cultivation of these heavenly plantations so that the seeds may grow and develop, prosperity and blessing be realized and many rich and great harvests be gathered in.

The Kingdom of God is like unto a farmer who comes into possession of a piece of pure and virgin soil. Heavenly seeds are scattered therein, the clouds of divine providence pour down and the rays of the Sun of Reality shine forth.

Now all these bounties exist and appear in full in these nine states. The divine Gardener passed by that holy ground and scattered pure seeds from the lordly teachings in that field; the rain of the bounties of God poured down and the heat of the Sun of Reality -- that is, the merciful confirmations -- shone with the utmost splendor. It is my hope that each one of those blessed souls may become a peerless and unique irrigator and the East and the West of America may become like unto a delectable paradise so that all of you may hear from the Supreme Concourse the cry of "Blessed are you, and again blessed are you!"

Upon you be greeting and praise!
(`Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of the Divine Plan, pp. 60-63)

GUARD IT WITH THE GLOBE OF UNDERSTANDING

O My servants! Deprive not yourselves of the unfading and resplendent Light that shineth within the Lamp of Divine glory. Let the flame of the love of God burn brightly within your radiant hearts. Feed it with the oil of Divine guidance, and protect it within the shelter of your constancy. Guard it within the globe of trust and detachment from all else but God, so that the evil whisperings of the ungodly may not extinguish its light.
(Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh CLIII, p. 325)

THAT THY HEART MAY FIND PEACE

Peace of mind is gained by the centering of the spiritual consciousness on the Prophet of God; therefore you should study the spiritual Teachings, and receive the Water of Life from the Holy Utterances.  Then by translating these high ideals into action, your entire character will be changed, and your mind will not only find peace, but your entire being will find joy and enthusiasm.
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, Oct. 15, 1952; Lights of Guidance, 2nd edition, p. 112, #381)

Íqán paragraph 66, pp. 61-62

THE SIGN OF THE SON OF MAN IN HEAVEN

"Now as regards the signs that would herald the advent of the new Manifestation. The Guardian wishes you to read over very carefully Bahá'u'lláh's explanation as recorded in the Íqán. There it is made clear that what is meant by the appearance of the Son of God after the calamitous events preceding His coming is the revelation of His full glory and its recognition and acceptance by the peoples of the world, and not his physical appearance. For Bahá'u'lláh, Whose advent marks the return of the Son in the Glory of the Father, has already appeared, and the signs predicted in the Gospel have not yet fully been realized. Their complete fulfilment, however, would mark the beginning of the recognition of His full station by the peoples of the world, Then and only then will His appearance be made completely manifest."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 29, 1937; Lights of Guidance, 2nd Edition, p. 492, #1651)

MOON OF TRUE KNOWLEDGE íëÚ moon of `ilm

Paragraph 68

IT IS NOT OUR WISH TO RELATE THE STORIES OF THE DAYS THAT ARE PAST

This is very similar in tone to a passage in paragraph 266 on page 237:

Although We did not intend to make mention of the traditions of a bygone age, yet, because of Our love for thee, We will cite a few which are applicable to Our argument.

Paragraph 70

HEAVEN OF DIVINE KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING

üò¤Ùï ó íëÚ ›¤îÆ  samáh `ilm wa m`aání

Paragraph 73  THE SUN OF KNOWLEDGE íëÚ,


200200 週Ũ뀟⿐뀠㷠뀡܈뀢܈連֠HE MOON OF WISDOM «îç¶, AND THE STARS OF UNDERSTANDING üò¤Ùï AND UTTERANCE «Åò¤ý§


Paragraph 74

THEY WILL BEHOLD THE COUNTENANCE OF THE PROMISED ONE, THE ADORED BEAUTY, DESCENDING FROM HEAVEN AND RIDING UPON THE CLOUDS

Compare:

I was watching in the night visions.  And behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven!  He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him.  Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him.  His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed.
(Daniel 7:13-14)

RIDING UPON THE CLOUDS
Compare Psalms 68:4:  Sing to God, sing praises to His name; Extol Him who rides on the clouds, by His name YAH, and rejoice before Him.

And this Tablet from the Master:

Verily the heaven into which the Messiah rose up was not this unending sky, rather was His heaven the Kingdom of His beneficent Lord. Even as He Himself hath said, 'I came down from heaven,'[John 6:38] and again, 'The Son of Man is in heaven.'[John 3:13 ]  Hence it is clear that His heaven is beyond all directional points; it encircleth all existence, and is raised up for those who worship God. Beg and implore thy Lord to lift thee up into that heaven, and give thee to eat of its food, in this age of majesty and might.

Know thou that the people, even unto this day, have failed to unravel the hidden secrets of the Book. They imagine that Christ was excluded from His heaven in the days when He walked the earth, that He fell from the heights of His sublimity, and afterwards mounted to those upper reaches of the sky, to the heaven which doth not exist at all, for it is but space. And they are waiting for Him to come down from there again, riding upon a cloud, and they imagine that there are clouds in that infinite space and that He will ride thereon and by that means He will descend. Whereas the truth is that a cloud is but vapour that riseth out of the earth, and it doth not come down from heaven. Rather, the cloud referred to in the Gospel is the human body, so called because the body is as a veil to man, which, even as a cloud, preventeth him from beholding the Sun of Truth that shineth from the horizon of Christ.

I beg of God to open before thine eyes the gates of discoveries and perceptions, that thou mayest become informed of His mysteries in this most manifest of days
(Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 168)


Christ said, 'They shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of Heaven'.[Matthew 24:30, 16:27]  Bahá'u'lláh said, 'When Christ came for the first time He came upon the clouds'. [John 3:13] Christ said that He had come from the sky, from Heaven -- that He came forth from God --  while He was born of Mary, His Mother. But when He declared that He had come from Heaven, it is clear that He did not mean the blue firmament but that He spoke of the Heaven of the Kingdom of God, and that from this Heaven He descended upon the clouds. As clouds are obstacles to the shining of the sun, so the clouds of the world of humanity hid from the eyes of men the radiance of the Divinity of Christ.

Men said, 'He is of Nazareth, born of Mary, we know Him and we know his brethren. What can He mean? What is He saying? That He came forth from God?'

The Body of Christ was born of Mary of Nazareth, but the Spirit was of God. The capacities of His human body were limited but the strength of His spirit was vast, infinite, immeasurable.

Men asked, 'Why does He say He is of God?' If they had understood the reality of Christ, they would have known that the body of His humanity was a cloud that hid His Divinity. The world only saw His human form, and therefore wondered how He could have 'come down from Heaven'.

Bahá'u'lláh said, 'Even as the clouds hide the sun and the sky from our gaze, even so did the humanity of Christ hide from men His real Divine character'.

I hope that you will turn with unclouded eyes towards the Sun of Truth, beholding not the things of earth, lest your hearts be attracted to the worthless and passing pleasures of the world; let that Sun give you of His strength, then will not the clouds of prejudice veil His illumination from your eyes! Then will the Sun be without clouds for you.

Breathe the air of purity. May you each and all share in the Divine Bounties of the Kingdom of Heaven. May the world be for you no obstacle hiding the truth from your sight, as the human body of Christ hid His Divinity from the people of His day. May you receive the clear vision of the Holy Spirit, so that your hearts may be illumined and able to recognize the Sun of Truth shining through all material clouds, His splendour flooding the universe.

Let not the things of the body obscure the celestial light of the spirit, so that, by the Divine Bounty, you may enter with the children of God into His Eternal Kingdom.

This is my prayer for you all.
(`Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 44)

WHILE WALKING AMONGST MORTALS, THEY SOAR IN THE HEAVEN OF THE DIVINE PRESENCE.

Compare this verse from the introduction to the Tablet of the Seven Valleys:

By My life, O friend, wert thou to taste of these fruits, from the green garden of these blossoms which grow in the lands of knowledge, beside the orient lights of the Essence in the mirrors of names and attributes -- yearning would seize the reins of patience and reserve from out thy hand, and make thy soul to shake with the flashing light, and draw thee from the earthly homeland to the first, heavenly abode in the Center of Realities, and lift thee to a plane wherein thou wouldst soar in the air even as thou walkest upon the earth, and move over the water as thou runnest on the land. Wherefore, may it rejoice Me, and thee, and whosoever mounteth into the heaven of knowledge, and whose heart is refreshed by this, that the wind of certitude hath blown over the garden of his being, from the Sheba of the All-Merciful.
Peace be upon him who followeth the Right Path!
(Baha'u'llah, The Seven Valleys, pp. 3-4)

WITHOUT FEET THEY TREAD THE PATH OF THE SPIRIT

Compare the prayer for husbands:

O my Lord! Make the eyes of my husband to see. Rejoice Thou his heart with the light of the knowledge of Thee, draw Thou his mind unto Thy luminous beauty, cheer Thou his spirit by revealing unto him Thy manifest splendors.
O my Lord! Lift Thou the veil from before his sight. Rain down Thy plenteous bounties upon him, intoxicate him with the wine of love for Thee, make him one of Thy angels whose feet walk upon this earth even as their souls are soaring through the high heavens. Cause him to become a brilliant lamp, shining out with the light of Thy wisdom in the midst of Thy people.
Verily, Thou art the Precious, the Ever-Bestowing, the Open of Hand.
(`Abdu'l-Bahá, Bahá'í Prayers, p. 64)

And these words of the Báb concerning Quddus:

"Marvel not," observed the Báb, "at his strange behaviour. We have in the world of the spirit been communing with that youth. We know him already. We indeed awaited his coming. Go to him and summon him forthwith to Our presence." Mulla Husayn was instantly reminded by these words of the Báb of the following traditional utterance: "On the last Day, the Men of the Unseen shall, on the wings of the spirit, traverse the immensity of the earth, shall attain the presence of the promised Qá'im, and shall seek from Him the secret that will resolve their problems and remove their perplexities."
(The Dawn-Breakers, p. 70)


Paragraph 75:
"heaven of Command" ¾ï£ ámr also ordinance, decree, behest
"heaven of Will” «‰ýÉï  mashiyyat (also irresistible bidding)
"heaven of the divine Purpose" õº£½£  also: seek, determine, decide, desire, directed and controlled by, Him Whom God hath purposed.
"heaven of divine Knowledge” ð¤â¾Ú `Irfan (also: recognition, comprehension, insight, understanding, fathom the mystery of, appreciate, a firm believer, wisdom, true knowledge.)
"heaven of Certitude" ð¤äþ£ íqán
"heaven of Utterance" ð¤ý¦¬ bayán
"heaven of Revelation" ½ô÷Ö   zuhúr
"heaven of Concealment" ðôÓ§ batún

Paragraph 76
KNOWLEDGE íëÚ IS OF TWO KINDS: DIVINE ü÷ì£ íëÚ (`ilm ilahí ) AND SATANIC. üò¤ÓýÊ íëÚ (`ilm shítání)

THE ONE WELLETH OUT FROM THE FOUNTAIN OF DIVINE INSPIRATION

Compare these words of Jesus Christ:

“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”  John 7:38

Also compare these words of Moses, from Numbers 20:11:

“The Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank.”

And these from the Most Holy Book:

O peoples of the earth!  God, the Eternal Truth, is My witness that streams of fresh and soft-flowing waters have gushed from the rocks, through the sweetness of the words uttered by your Lord, the Unconstrained.
(The Most Holy Book, paragraph 54, page 39)


FEAR YE GOD; GOD WILL TEACH YOU

Compare:

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7)

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”  (Proverbs 9:10)

“There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.  The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.”  (Isaiah 11:1-2)

MAN AND HIS CREATOR

For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is His name; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; He is called the God of the whole earth.  (Isaiah 54:5)

FEAR YE GOD; GOD WILL TEACH YOU

You ask him about the fear of God: perhaps the friends do not realize that the majority of human beings need the element of fear in order to discipline their conduct? Only a relatively very highly evolved soul would always be disciplined by love alone. Fear of punishment, fear of the anger of God if we do evil, are needed to keep people's feet on the right path. Of course we should love God -- but we must fear Him in the sense of a child fearing the righteous anger and chastisement of a parent; not cringe before Him as before a tyrant, but know His mercy exceeds His justice!
(From a letter dated 26 July 1946 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi; Compilation on Bahá'í Education; the Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 306, #684)


In explaining the fear of God to children, there is no objection to teaching it as `Abdu'l-Bahá so often taught everything, in the form of parables. Also the child should be made to understand that we don't fear God because He is cruel, but we fear Him because He is just, and, if we do wrong and deserve to be punished, then in His justice He may see fit to punish us. We must both love God and fear Him.
(From a letter dated 15 February 1957 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi; Compilation on Bahá'í Education; the Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 309, #694)


KNOWLEDGE IS THE MOST GRIEVOUS VEIL BETWEEN MAN AND HIS CREATOR

Compare:

“For you have trusted in your wickedness; you have said, ‘No one sees me’; your wisdom and your knowledge have warped you; and you have said in your heart, ‘I am, and there is no one else besides me.’  Therefore evil shall come upon you; you shall not know from where it arises.  And trouble shall fall upon you; you will not be able to put it off.  And desolation shall come upon you suddenly, which you shall not know.”  (Isaiah 47:10-11)

Now concerning things offered to idols: We know that we all have knowledge.  Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.  And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he out to know.  But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him.”
(I Corinthians 8:1-2)


PATIENCE ¾¦Î sabr. also long-suffering

LONGING DESIRE ãôÊ Shogh.  Also longing, yearning, “from the nightingale of affection and desire [shogh] loosen not thy hold”.


TRUE UNDERSTANDING ð¤â¾Ú `Irfán

LOVE «‰¦¶ï mahabbat. also exultation, affection, kindness, loving-kindness


Paragraph 77

THE HEART MUST NEEDS THEREFORE BE CLEANSED

This is a theme which Bahá'u'lláh often addresses.  See, for example, paragraph 2, pp. 3-4 (“cleanse themselves of all that is earthly . . . until he ceases to regard the words and deeds of mortal men as a standard”), and paragraph 213, p. 192 (“he must before all else, cleanse and purify his heart”.

THE HEART MUST NEEDS THEREFORE BE CLEANSED FROM
THE IDLE SAYINGS OF MEN, AND SANCTIFIED FROM EVERY
EARTHLY AFFECTION, SO THAT IT MAY DISCOVER THE HIDDEN
MEANING OF DIVINE INSPIRATION, AND BECOME THE
TREASURY OF THE MYSTERIES OF DIVINE KNOWLEDGE

Here are several excerpts from letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, regarding attainment to the knowledge of God:

The point of view expressed in your letter was of special interest because it was typical of those sincere and seeking souls who are trying to obtain and peace and inward certainty by reading the universally-minded writers of our age. People like Emerson were undoubtedly inspired by God, for many of the thoughts that quicken us in this day were uttered and stimulated by them. Only gradually will we come to appreciate their work and place them in the growing world of ours. The tendency of these writers, however, is rather to diminish, rather to enhance the position of the prophet in civilization. These bid us come into communion with God by looking within us. They tell us that the prophets were humans and that we can become like them if we only strive. This renders religion, the religion of the few, the religion of only those who have experiences. . . .
`Abdu'l-Bahá says that the main difference between the gnostics and the religionists is that the gnostics maintain the existence of only two worlds, the world of God and the world of the creature. The prophets, however, maintained the existence of three worlds the world of God, the world of the Will or the Word, and the world of created things. The prophets, therefore, maintained that a knowledge of God was impossible. As `Abdu'l-Bahá says man can never know God or even imagine Him. If he does that object is not God but an imaginary idol. . . .
There is, therefore, only one way to God and that is through the realization of his Manifestation or Prophet in that age. Christ called the world of the prophets the Word in the verse of 'the word became flesh' while `Abdu'l-Bahá calls it the Will. Anyhow it is only through these that we can know God. These manifest the Divine attributes and therefore by knowing them we can know God. The mystic path that the traveller should follow is therefore to the Prophet. By coming in contact with Him will he obtain peace. . . .
If these are the only means through which man can obtain his highest goal, namely the knowledge of God, could we believe that God has ceased to send them. As Bahá'u'lláh says will it not be a blasphemy to say that God's Bounty existed in the past and that ever since the time of Christ it stopped to pour -- and for all eternity. No, God has ever sent and will ever send these prophets who would represent God on this earth and by reflecting the Divine attributes give us knowledge of Him.
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian dated November 29, 1929; Lights of Guidance, 2nd edition, p. 510, paragraphs 1723-1726)


"We will have experience of God's spirit through His Prophets in the next world, but God is too great for us to know without this Intermediary. The Prophets know God, but how is more than our human minds can grasp. We believe we may attain in the next world to seeing the Prophets. There is certainly a future life. Heaven and hell are conditions within our own beings."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi dated November 14, 1947; Lights of Guidance, 2nd Edition, p. 209, #703)


"As we almost never attain any spiritual goal without seeing the next goal we must attain still beyond our reach, he urges you, who, have come so far already on the path of spirituality, not to fret about the distance you still have to cover! It is an indefinite journey, and, no doubt in the next world the soul is privileged to draw closer to God than is possible when bound on this physical plane."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, March 3, 1955; Lights of Guidance, 2nd Edition, p. 209, #704)


"To 'get to heaven' as you say is dependent on two things -- faith in the Manifestation of God in His Day, in other words in this Age in Bahá'u'lláh; and good deeds, in other words living to the best of our ability a noble life and doing unto others as we would be done by. But we must always remember that our existence and everything we have or ever will have is dependent upon the Mercy of God and His Bounty, and therefore He can accept into His heaven, which is really nearness to Him, even the lowliest if He pleases. We always have the hope of receiving His Mercy if we reach out for it."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 12, 1957) Lights of Guidance, 2nd Edition, p. 209, #705)

We cannot know God directly, but only through His Prophets. We can pray to Him realizing that through His Prophets we know Him, or we can address our prayer in thought to Bahá'u'lláh, not as God, but as the Door to our knowing God.
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer: High Endeavours: Messages to Alaska, p.71)


"As regards your question: Bahá'u'lláh is, of course, not God and not the Creator; but through Him we can know God, and because of this position of Divine Intermediary, in a sense, He is all (or the other Prophets) we can never know of that Infinite Essence which is God. Therefore, we address ourselves in prayer and thought to Him or through Him to that Infinite Essence behind and beyond Him."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 4, 1951; Lights of Guidance, 2nd edition, p. 471, #1553)
 
Also see Some Answered Questions, Chapters 59 and 82, pp. 220-222, and 290-296, for commentaries by `Abdu'l-Bahá on attainment to the knowledge of God.

Íqán Paragraph 79:

BY THESE LUMINOUS, THESE CONCLUSIVE, AND LUCID STATEMENTS

Compare this passage from paragraph 46, p. 44:  “these lucid, these powerful, conclusive, and unequivocal statements”

BY THE TERM “CLOUDS” IS MEANT THOSE THINGS THAT ARE CONTRARY TO THE WAYS AND DESIRES OF MEN

Compare:

“The All-Glorious hath decreed these very things, that are contrary to the desires of wicked men, to be the touchstone and standard whereby He proveth His servants” (Paragraph 84, p. 76)

 “though the Cause He revealed was contrary to the desire of all the peoples of earth” (paragraph 257, p. 230)

Behold, He is coming with clouds. Revelation 1:7

Behold, the Lord rides on a swift cloud.  Isaiah 19:1

That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of devastation and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness.  Zephaniah 1:15

For the day of the Lord is coming, for it is at hand:  A day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, like the morning clouds spread over the mountains.  Joel 2:1-2

Now the Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him [Moses] there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord.  Exodus 34:5

A cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were fearful as they entered the cloud.  And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son.  Hear Him!”  Luke 9:34

I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth.  Genesis 9:13

Like the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brightness all around it.  This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.  Ezekiel 1:28

I saw still another mighty angel coming down from heaven, clothed with a cloud.  And a rainbow was on his head, his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire.   Revelation 10:1

SUCH HUMAN LIMITATIONS AS EATING AND DRINKING … SLEEPING AND WAKING

Now in the morning, as He returned to the city, He was hungry.  Matthew 21:18

And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry.  Matthew 4:2

And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves.  But He was asleep.  Matthew 8:24

Íqán paragraph 80

THE HEAVENS «£ôîÆ OF THE KNOWLEDGE íëÚ AND UNDERSTANDING ð¤â¾Ú

EVEN AS THE CLOUDS PREVENT THE EYES OF MEN FROM BEHOLDING THE SUN

Compare:

“When I put out your light, I will cover the heavens, and make its stars dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give her light.  All the bright lights of the heavens I will make dark over you, and bring darkness upon your land,” says the Lord God.
Ezekiel 32:7-8

Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.
Acts 1:9


OTHER PROPHETS, SIMILARLY, HAVE BEEN SUBJECT TO POVERTY AND AFFLICTIONS, TO HUNGER, AND TO THE ILLS AND CHANCES OF THIS WORLD

"...as we suffer these misfortunes we must remember that the Prophets of God Themselves were not immune from these things which men suffer. They knew sorrow, illness and pain too. They rose above these things through Their spirits, and that is what we must try and do too, when afflicted. The troubles of this world pass, and what we have left is what we have made of our souls, so it is to this we must look to becoming more spiritual, drawing nearer to God, no matter what our human minds and bodies go through."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, August 5, 1949: Bahá'í News No. 231, May 1950, p. 1; Lights of Guidance, 2nd edition, p. 297, #1014)

AND CLAIM HIMSELF TO BE THE GOAL OF ALL CREATION

Compare:

He, Who is the Cause and ultimate Purpose of all these things, is made manifest in this day.
Paragraph 63, p. 58

He Who representeth the origin of creation.
The Báb, Tablet of Seven Proofs, Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 120

EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THEM FELL A PREY TO THE HANDS OF THE ENEMIES OF HIS CAUSE, AND HAD TO SUFFER WHATSOEVER THEY DECREED

Compare Íqán paragraph 136, p. 127:

So heavily were they oppressed, that the least of men inflicted upon these Essences of being whatsoever he listed.

Íqán paragraph 83

THAT EXPECTED RESURRECTION WHICH IS BORN OF THEIR IDLE FANCY

By ‘second time’ is meant the spiritual resurrection of man, that is to say his acceptance of the Divine Manifestation. But Muslims have given this term a literal interpretation; the physical resurrection of man.  Bahá'u'lláh is using this same interpretation current among Muslims to defeat their argument.
Bahá'u'lláh in quoting this passage seeks refute the argument of the Muslims, who attach a purely literal interpretation to this verse of the Qur'án and therefore consider it as implying bodily resurrection. To these Muslims He says, you who literally believe that the human body will return to dust and will be raised from it again, and therefore attach so much importance to this mortal world, how then can you wax so proud, and boast over things which are but perishable and consequently void of any true and lasting value.
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, February 7, 1939: Bahá'í News, No. 124, April 1939, p. 6; Lights of Guidance, 2nd Edition, p. 481, #1592)

Iqan paragraph 84 SMOKE

"The glory of the Lord shall endure for ever. The Lord shall rejoice in his works. He looketh on the earth and it trembleth; he toucheth the hills and they smoke". (Psalms 104:31-32)

"And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God." (Revelation 15:8)

Íqán paragraph 85

THE SADRIH OF BAHÁ

To Him Isaiah, the greatest of the Jewish Prophets, had alluded as . . . the “Branch grown out of his roots. . .”
Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 94, quoting Isaiah 11:1

Paragraph 86 ANGELS

Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 81: "The meaning of 'angels' is the confirmations of God and His celestial powers."

THE BLESSED Person of the Promised One is interpreted in the Holy Book as the Lord of Hosts -- the heavenly armies. By heavenly armies those souls are intended who are entirely freed from the human world, transformed into celestial spirits and have become divine angels. Such souls are the rays of the Sun of Reality who will illumine all the continents.
(Abdu'l-Baha, Tablets of the Divine Plan, p. 49)

...the Son of Man hath come upon the clouds of heaven with power and great glory, and He hath sent His angels with the sound of the great trumpet, and no one knows the meaning of these emblems save the wise and informed.
      "Ye are the angels, if your feet be firm, your spirits rejoiced, your secret thoughts pure, your eyes consoled, your ears opened, your breasts dilated with joy, and your souls gladdened, and if you arise to assist the Covenant, to resist dissension and to be attracted to the Effulgence!
(Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'i World Faith, p. 360)

"So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just." (Matthew 13:49)


"On the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb... she...looked into the sepulchre, and saw two angels... she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus... Jesus said to her, 'Mary!' She turned and said to Him, 'Rabboni!' (which is to say, Teacher)....Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord..." John 20:1-18

Íqán paragraph 88 HIDDEN MEANING üò¤Ùï ðþ¤§  batín ma’áni
Iqan Paragraph 92 ADULTERY Leviticus 20:10, Deuteronomy 22:24

Íqán paragraph 96, p. 88 MEN OF DISCERNMENT ¥¤¦ì¤ì£ üìó£
Also translated by Shoghi Effendi as: ye endued with understanding,
men of understanding heart, those that are possessed of an understanding heart, and as “all that glorify Thee” in the Master’s Tablet of Visitation: “exalted above the knowledge of the learned, and the praise of all that glorify Thee.”


Íqán paragraph 97, p. 88 “CORRUPTION” OF THE TEXT, IN THE SENSE WE HAVE REFERRED TO, HATH BEEN ACTUALLY EFFECTED IN PARTICULAR INSTANCES

The books of the Báb have not as yet been printed in the original.  Except for the Bayán, the Seven Proofs and Commentary on the Surih of Joseph, we cannot be sure of the authenticity of most of His other works as the text has been corrupted by the unfaithful.
(From a letter on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Dawn of a New Day, p. 95)

Íqán paragraph 97, p. 88  UNTO A FEW UNTUTORED HOLY MEN HATH BEEN GIVEN THE MASTERY OF HUMAN LEARNING

Compare paragraph 64, p. 60, “the ignorant upon the seats of learning” and paragraph 79, p. 72 “the exalting of the illiterate faithful above the learned opposers of the Faith,” and paragraph 154, p. 146, “the most unlettered of all men, if he be honoured with this supreme distinction, he verily is accounted as one of those divinely-learned men”, and paragraph 155, p. 146, “how many of the ignorant who, by reason of their acceptance of the Faith, have soared aloft and attained the high summit of knowledge.”  Also see paragraph 157 of the Most Holy Book, regarding the “mystery of the Great Reversal”, and the commentary on it in Note 171, p. 239 of the Aqdas.  Also see Acts 4:13.

Íqán paragraph 97, p. 89  THE JEWISH PEOPLE

"He feels you did the right thing to have yourself under 'Religion' registered as a Bahá'í. Unfortunately, owing to this obnoxious and vicious race prejudice of every sort which afflicts the world today, the term Jew has come more to mean a race than a religion. You certainly, as your father feels, should never wish to disassociate yourself from a group of people who have contributed as much to the world as the Jews have. On the other hand your actual religion today is Bahá'í, and he feels that Jews should, when they become Bahá'ís, always give this as their Faith, but as their racial descent they should give 'Jewish'."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 15, 1948; Lights of Guidance, 2nd edition, p. 535, #1819)

Íqán paragraph 98, p. 89  ð¤ø¾§ íÕÚ£
His most great testimony (azam burhán) also translated as proof, argument, evidence.

Íqán paragraph 98, p. 89 AVENGING WRATH OF GOD

How vast the number of the loved and chosen ones of God who have lamented and moaned by day and by night that haply a sweet and fragrant breeze might blow from the court of His good-pleasure and dispel altogether the loathsome and foul-smelling odours from the world. However, this ultimate goal could not be attained, and men were deprived thereof by virtue of their evil deeds, which brought upon them the retribution of God, in accordance with the basic principles of His divine rule.
(Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 177)

As regards the passages in the sacred writings indicating the wrath of God; Shoghi Effendi says that the Divinity has many attributes: He is loving and merciful but also just. Just as reward and punishment, according to Bahá'u'lláh, are the pillars upon which society rests, so mercy and justice may be considered as their counterpart in the world to come. Should we disobey God and work against His commands He will view our acts in the light of justice and punish us for it. That punishment may not be in the form of fire, as some believe, but in the form of spiritual deprivation and degradation. This is why we read so often in the prayers statements such as "God do not deal with us with justice, but rather through thy infinite mercy." The wrath of God is in the administration of His justice, both in this world and in the world to come. A God that is only loving or only just is not a perfect God. The divinity has to possess both of these aspects as every father ought to express both in his attitude towards his children. If we ponder a while, we will see that our welfare can be insured only when both of these divine attributes are equally emphasised and practiced.
(From a letter on behalf of the Guardian dated April 29, 1933; Arohanui - Letters to New Zealand, p. 32)

Íqán paragraph 99, p. 90  SHEDDING ILLUMINATION UPON ALL MANKIND

Compare this verse from the First of the Báb’s works:

All praise be to God Who hath, through the power of Truth, sent down this Book unto His servant,, that it may serve as a shining light for all mankind . . . Verily this is none other than the sovereign Truth; it is the Path which God hath laid out for all that are in heaven and on earth.  Let him then who will, take for himself the right path unto his Lord.
(Excerpt from the Qayyumu’l-Asma, Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 41)

GOD HATH WILLED TO PERFECT HIS LIGHT

Verily such as ridicule the wondrous, divine Verses revealed through His Remembrance, are but making themselves the objects of ridicule, and We, in truth, aid them to wax in their iniquity [Qur'án 2:14].  Indeed God’s knowledge transcendeth all created things . . . The infidels, of a truth, seek to separate God from His Remembrance [Qur'án 4:149] but God hath determined to perfect His light [Qur'án 9:32] through His Remembrance, and indeed He is potent over all things . . .
(Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 60)

Íqán paragraph 99, p. 91  CLEANSE THE EYE OF THINE HEART . . . THAT THOU MAYEST REALIZE THE INFINITUDE OF DIVINE KNOWLEDGE

Please compare:

And behold, two blind men sitting by the road, when they heard that Jesus was passing by, cried out, saying, “Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!” . . . So Jesus stood still and called them, and said, “What do you want Me to do for you?”  They said to Him, “Lord, that our eyes may be opened.”  So Jesus had compassion and touched their eyes.  And immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him. (Matthew 20:30-34)

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.  (Matthew 5:8)

Also please compare paragraph 28, page 31 where Bahá'u'lláh speaks of anointing the eye with collyrium so that it can see.


THAT THOU . . . MAYEST BEHOLD TRUTH SO CLEARLY THAT THOU WILT NEED NO PROOF TO DEMONSTRATE HIS REALITY

Please compare paragraph 230, p. 208:  “They see the sun with their own eyes, and yet question that brilliant Orb as to the proof of its light”.

Íqán paragraph 100, p. 91

SHOULDST THOU SOAR IN THE HOLY REALM OF THE SPIRIT

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Please compare paragraph 277 of the Íqán, also addressed to the People of the Bayán:

We fain would hope that the people of the Bayán will be enlightened, will soar in the realm of the spirit and abide therein, will discern the Truth . . . (Íqán p. 249)

GOD WAS ALONE

Compare Gleanings LXXVIII, pp. 150-151

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Compare “This [the Book] is the testimony which He, Himself, hath ordained”, with:

“ . . . yet He mentioned only that Book thereby appointing it as the mightiest instrument and surest testimony for the seekers; a guide for the people until the Day of Resurrection.”
(Íqán, paragraph 222, p. 202; also see paragraphs 223 and 224)

Íqán paragraph 101, p. 92

HE WHO IS THE QUINTESSENCE OF TRUTH

Bahá'u'lláh is here referring to the Báb’s glorification of the Manifestation of Bahá'u'lláh’s Cause.  It should be kept in mind that the Bayán revolves around the person of Bahá'u'lláh. As Shoghi Effendi wrote, it “should be regarded primarily as a eulogy of the Promised One”.  God Passes By, p. 25. As Bahá'u'lláh wrote in the Most Holy Book:

God is My witness that the Bayán was sent down for no other purpose than to celebrate My praise, did ye but know!  In it the pure in heart will find only the fragrance of My love, only My Name that overshadoweth all that seeth and is seen.”
Bahá'u'lláh, the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, paragraph 179, pp. 84-85

He it is whose praise the Bayán hath celebrated.  In it His excellence hath been extolled, and His truth established, and His sovereignty proclaimed, and His Cause perfected.
Prayers and Meditations by Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 85-86

HE WHO IS THE INMOST REALITY OF ALL THINGS

Bahá'u'lláh is saying that the Báb has referred to Him as the “inmost Reality of all things”.  This term appears in at least these two passages of the Writings of the Báb:

SAY, ye will be unable to recognize the One True God or to discern clearly the words of divine guidance, inasmuch as ye seek and tread a path other than His. Whenever ye learn that a new Cause hath appeared, ye must seek the presence of its author and must delve into his writings that haply ye may not be debarred from attaining unto Him Whom God shall make manifest at the hour of His manifestation. Wert thou to walk in the way of truth as handed down by them that are endowed with the knowledge of the inmost reality, God, thy Lord, will surely redeem thee on the Day of Resurrection
(The Kitáb-i-Asma’, Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 14

THE SOURCE OF ALL LIGHT

In the Persian Bayán, Vahid VIII, Chapter 1, the Báb writes of Bahá'u'lláh using this term:

The light of the people of the world is their knowledge and utterance; while the splendours shed from the glorious acts of Him Whom God shall make manifest are His Words, through whose potency He rolleth up the whole world of existence, sets it under His Own authority by relating it unto Himself, then as the Mouthpiece of God, the Source of His divine light -- exalted and glorified be He -- proclaimeth: 'Verily, verily, I am God, no God is there but Me; in truth all others except Me are My creatures. Say, O My creatures! Me alone, therefore, should ye fear'.
(Selections from the Writings of the Bab, p. 97)

FOR, VERILY, POWERFUL IS HE, THE KING OF DIVINE MIGHT, TO EXTINGUISH WITH ONE LETTER OF HIS WONDROUS WORDS, THE BREATH OF LIFE IN THE WHOLE OF THE BAYÁN AND THE PEOPLE THEREOF, AND WITH ONE LETTER BESTOW UPON THEM A NEW AND EVERLASTING LIFE

The Báb explains that extinguishing everyone’s life, and bringing people back to life, refers to the new Manifestation.  Bahá'u'lláh refers to this same majestic event:

Consider the hour at which the supreme Manifestation of God revealeth Himself unto men. Ere that hour cometh, the Ancient Being, Who is still unknown of men and hath not as yet given utterance to the Word of God, is Himself the All-Knower in a world devoid of any man that hath known Him. He is indeed the Creator without a creation. For at the very moment preceding His Revelation, each and every created thing shall be made to yield up its soul to God. This is indeed the Day of which it hath been written: "Whose shall be the Kingdom this Day?" And none can be found ready to answer!
(Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh LXXVIII p. 151)


CAUSE THEM TO ARISE AND SPEED OUT OF THE SEPULCHRES

“True resurrection from the sepulchers means to be quickened in conformity with His Will, through the power of His utterance.”
(Selections from the Writings of the Bab, p. 158)

ALL THINGS HAVE THEIR CONSUMMATION IN BELIEF IN HIM

THOU hast asked concerning the fundamentals of religion and its ordinances: Know thou that first and foremost in religion is the knowledge of God. This attaineth its consummation in the recognition of His divine unity, which in turn reacheth its fulfilment in acclaiming that His hallowed and exalted Sanctuary, the Seat of His transcendent majesty, is sanctified from all attributes. And know thou that in this world of being the knowledge of God can never be attained save through the knowledge of Him Who is the Dayspring of divine Reality.
(Book of Seven Proofs, Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 117)

THE REALIZATION OF HIS DIVINE PRESENCE

Bahá'u'lláh explains the meaning of attainment to the Divine Presence in paragraphs 148-154 of the Íqán.

THERE IS NO PIETY IN TURNING YOUR FACES TOWARD THE EAST OR TOWARD THE WEST, BUT HE IS PIOUS WHO BELIEVETH IN GOD AND THE LAST DAY

Compare these verses from the Báb:

Take good heed of yourselves, O people of the Bayán, lest ye perform such deeds as to weep sore for His sake night and day, to stand up at the mention of His Name, yet on this Day of fruition—a Day whereon ye should not only arise at His Name, but seek a path unto Him Who personifies that Name—ye shut yourselves out from Him as by as veil. . . . Take good heed of yourselves, for the sum total of the religion of God is but to help Him, rather than to observe, in the time of His appearance, such deeds as are prescribed in the Bayán.
(The Persian Bayán, Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 85)

WE HAVE ADMONISHED YOU, THAT HAPLY YE MAY SEEK THE SHELTER OF THE SHADOW EXTENDED . . . UPON ALL MANKIND

THE Bayán shall constitute God's unerring balance till the Day of Resurrection which is the Day of Him Whom God will make manifest. Whoso acteth in conformity with that which is revealed therein will abide in Paradise, under the shadow of His affirmation and reckoned among the most sublime Letters in the presence of God; while whoso deviateth, were it even so much as the tip of a grain of barley, will be consigned to the fire and will be assembled neath the shadow of negation.
(The Persian Bayán, Selections from the Writings of the Bab, p. 102)

THE DAY OF GOD

Bahá'u'lláh explains that His Day is the Day of God, in Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 52-53, and 258.  The Day of God was promised in many verses of the Qur'án, compiled by Bahá'u'lláh on pp. 115-118 of Epistle to the Son of the Wolf; and in many verses from the Old and New Testaments, compiled by Bahá'u'lláh on pp. 143-147 of that same Book.