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Founders of the Divine Religions
Section Ten:

BAHÁ’U’LLÁH
Part Two:


by NJB


“The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.”
Bahá’u’lláh
(“Gleanings”, p. 250)


Index to this page:



Journey to Constantinople [index]


Bahá’u’lláh departed from the Garden of Ridván at noon, on the 3rd of May 1863 (14th of Dhi’l-Qa‘dih 1279 AH). He was mounted on “His steed, a red roan stallion of the finest breed, the best His lovers* could purchase for Him, and leaving behind Him a bowing multitude of fervent admirers, He rode forth on the first stage of a journey that was to carry Him to the city of Constantinople. 'Numerous were the heads,' Nabíl himself a witness of that memorable scene, recounts, 'which on every side, bowed to the dust at the feet of His horse, and kissed its hoofs, and countless were those who pressed forward to embrace His stirrups . . .' These marks of homage and devotion continued to surround Him until He was installed in Constantinople.” (see: Shoghi Effendi: p. 155)

*followers

They travelled by mules carrying howdah, and some members of the caravan travelled on foot. Eventually, reaching the Black Sea, they travelled by Ottoman steamer. On Sunday, the 16th of August 1863 (1st Rabí‘u’l-Avval 1280 AH), the steamer dropped anchor at Istanbul, the city of Constantine the Great. (see: Balyuzi: p. 196)

After four months, new was brought to Bahá’u’lláh that there was a possibility of transfer to Adrianople. It became apparent that this transfer was of the nature of banishment. The Sultán had invited Bahá’u’lláh to come to Constantinople and He had never made any complaint or denunciation. In the interests of the Bábí community, Bahá’u’lláh accepted this banishment. (see: Balyuzi: pp. 199-203)

It was in Constantinople, that Bahá’u’lláh began the proclamation of His Message to the secular and ecclesiastical leaders of the world. Shoghi Effendi relates:

“The initial phase of that Proclamation may be said to have opened in Constantinople with the communication (the text of which we, alas, do not possess) addressed by Bahá’u’lláh to Sultán ‘Abdu’l-Azíz himself, the self-styled vicar of the Prophet of Islám and the absolute ruler of a mighty empire. So potent, so august a personage was the first among the sovereigns of the world to receive the Divine Summons, and the first among the Oriental monarchs to sustain the impact of God’s retributive justice. The occassion for this communication was provided by the infamous edict the Sultán had promulgated, less than four months after the arrival of the exiles to his capital, banishing them, suddenly and without any justification whatsoever, in the depth of winter, and in the most humiliating circumstances, to Adrianople, situated on the extremities of his empire... (“God Passes By”, p. 158)

Bahá’u’lláh wrote to the Sultán and His Tablet was delivered to Álí Páshá, the Grand Vazir.

“‘I know not what that letter contained,’ Shamsí Big subsequently informed Áqáy-i-Kalím, ‘for no sooner had the Grand Vizir perused it than he turned the color of a corpse, and remarked: “It is as if the King of Kings were issuing his behest to his humblest vassal king and regulating his conduct.” So grievous was his condition that I backed out of his presence.’ ‘Whatever action,’ Bahá’u’lláh, commenting on the effect that Tablet had produced, is reported to have stated, ‘the ministers of the Sultán took against Us, after having become acquainted with its contents, cannot be regarded as unjustifiable. The acts they committed before its perusal, however, can have no justification.’

“That Tablet, according to Nabíl, was of considerable length, opened with words directed to the sovereign himself, severely censured his ministers, exposed their immaturity and incompetence, and included passages in which the ministers themselves were addressed, in which they are boldly challenged, and sternly admonished not to pride themselves on their wordly possessions, nor foolishly seek the riches of which time would inexorably rob them.” (p. 160)


The Remote Prison [index]


They set off in the heart of winter and the journey lasted twelve days. On Saturday, the 12th of December 1863 (1st of Rajab 1280 AH), they arrived at Adrianople. Bahá’u’lláh was now essentially a prisoner of the Ottoman Empire. Adrianople, now known as Edirne, is in European Turkey. Thus Bahá’u’lláh is the first Manifestation of God in recorded history to set foot on the European continent. It was said in Adrianople that they had not experienced such a hard winter for forty years. Frequent snowfall continued into spring. Public baths were shut and springs were blocked with ice. (see: Balyuzi: p. 206, 217-218)

Tablets unceasingly flowed from the Pen of Bahá’u’lláh which openly and publicly announced His Revelation. Bábís everywhere rallied to His Cause. Despite the cold and difficulties, those who followed Bahá’u’lláh experienced the joy and bliss of being with their Beloved. They had attained the Day of God. Only a minority of self-seeking individuals gathered themselves around Mírzá Yahyá, who secretly planned base intrigues and subversive activities. (see: Balyuzi: p. 220)

Shoghi Effendi writes:

“Desperate designs to poison Bahá’u’lláh and His companions, and thereby reanimate his own defunct leadership, began, approximately a year after their arrival in Adrianople, to agitate his mind. Well aware of the erudition of his half-brother, Áqáy-i-Kalím, in matters pertaining to medicine, he, under various pretexts, sought enlightenment from him regarding the effects of certain herbs and poisons, and then began, contrary to his wont, to invite Bahá’u’lláh to his home, where, one day, having smeared His tea-cup with a poison he had concocted, he succeeded in poisoning Him sufficiently to produce a serious illness which lasted no less than a month, and which was accompanied by severe pains and high fever, the aftermath of which left Bahá’u’lláh with a shaking hand till the end of His life.” (“God Passes By”, pp. 165-166)

This condition left Bahá’u’lláh unable to write Tablets in His own hand. Thereafter the holy Word of God had to be recorded by various scribes. Mírzá Yahyá, according to the testimony of one of his wives, who had temporarily deserted him, also poisoned the well which provided water for Bahá’u’lláh’s family and companions. Bahá’u’lláh revealed a Tablet, called the Súriy-i-Amr which He ordered to be read in the presence of Mírzá Yahyá. A conclusive reply was demanded. Mírzá Yahyá was given one day to think it over. He eventually replied by making a counter-claim, saying he had also received a Revelation from God. (see: “God Passes By”, p. 167)

Bahá’u’lláh clearly demonstrated His ascendancy over Mírzá Yahyá. Shoghi Effendi writes:

“It was in this house, in the month of Jamádíy’l-Avval 1284 AH (Sept. 1867) that an event of the utmost significance occurred, which completely discomfited Mírzá Yahyá and his supporters, and proclaimed to friend and foe alike Bahá’u’lláh’s triumph over them. A certain Mír Muhammad, a Bábí of Shíráz, greatly resenting alike the claims and the cowardly seclusion of Mírzá Yahyá, succeeded in forcing Siyyid Muhammad to induce him to meet Bahá’u’lláh face to face, so that a discrimination might be publicly effected between the true and the false. Foolishly assuming that his illustrious Brother would never countenance such a proposition, Mírzá Yahyá appointed the mosque of Sultán Salím as the place for their encounter. No sooner had Bahá’u’lláh been informed of this arrangement than He set forth, on foot, in the heat of midday, and accompanied by this same Mír Muhammad, for the afore-mentioned mosque, which was situated in a distant part of the city, reciting, as He walked, through the streets and markets, verses, in a voice and in a manner that greatly astonished those who saw and heard Him.

“'O Muhammad!', are some of the words He uttered on that memorable occasion, as testified by Himself in a Tablet, '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.'” (“God Passes By”, pp. 168-169)

In the event, Mírzá Yahyá, ever fearful, did not accept the challenge. Bahá’u’lláh proved His ascendancy over His fallen half-brother. Cleansed from division, the Faith of God could now forge ahead. (see: Balyuzi, p. 169)


Call to the kings [index]


The time came for the proclamation of Bahá’u’lláh’s message to the rulers of the world. The Promised One had come, and now He reached out to the temporal and spiritual leaders of the earth, calling upon them to recognize His Station and provide for the betterment of their peoples.

The Universal House of Justice, the world governing body of the Bahá’í Faith, describes this momentous declaration of the Day of God:

“The years following Bahá’u’lláh’s arrival in Adrianople witnessed His Revelation’s attainment, in the words of Shoghi Effendi, of 'its meridian glory' through the proclamation of its Founder’s message to the kings and rulers of the world. During this relatively brief but turbulent period of the Faith’s history, and in the early years of His subsequent exile in 1868 to the fortress town of ‘Akká, He summoned the monarchs of East and West collectively, and some among them individually, to recognize the Day of God and to acknowledge the One promised in the scriptures of the religions professed by the recipients of His summons. 'Never since the beginning of the world', Bahá’u’lláh declares, 'hath the Message been so openly proclaimed.'” (“The Summons of the Lord of Hosts”, Introduction, p. i)

Shoghi Effendi describes the Súriy-i-Múlúk, the ‘Súrih of the Kings’:

“In His message to the kings of the earth, Bahá’u’lláh, in the Súriy-i-Múlúk, discloses the character of His Mission; exhorts them to embrace His Message; affirms the validity of the Báb’s Revelation; reproves them for their indifference to His Cause; enjoins them to be just and vigilant, to compose their differences and reduce their armaments; expatiates on His afflictions; commends the poor to their care; warns them that “Divine chastisement” will “assail” them “from every direction” if they refuse to heed His counsels, and prophesies His “triumph upon earth” though no king be found who would turn his face towards Him.” (“God Passes By”, p. 172)

“Episodes, at once moving and marvelous, at various stages of His ministry, are recounted, and the transitoriness of worldly pomp, fame, riches, and sovereignty, repeatedly and categorically asserted. Appeals for the application of the highest principles in human and international relations are forcibly and insistently made, and the abandonment of discreditable practices and conventions, detrimental to the happiness, the growth, the prosperity and the unity of the human race, enjoined. Kings are censured, ecclesiastical dignitaries arraigned, ministers and plenipotentiaries condemned, and the identification of His advent with the coming of the Father Himself unequivocally admitted and repeatedly announced. The violent downfall of a few of these kings and emperors is prophesied, two of them are definitely challenged, most are warned, all are appealed to and exhorted.” (“The Promised Day is Come”, p. 45)

He sent specific Tablets to Sultán ‘Abdu’l-Azíz of the Ottomon Empire, Emperor Napoleon III of France and Násiri’d-Dín Sháh of Persia. The fortunes of these three empires are recorded in history. Their empires crumbled and their dynasties vanished. Tablets were later written to the Czar of Russia, the Emperor of Austria, the Emperor of Germany, and Queen Victoria. Queen Victoria is reported to have given this response: ‘If this is from God it will endure; if not it can do no harm.’ (see: Hofman, p. 122) It is significant that of all the monarchs Bahá’u’lláh wrote to, only the British royal family continues to reign. The Austrian Imperial Family, the Habsburgs suffered great catastrophes and lost their Empire in the First World War, along with the German and Ottoman dynasties. With the sole exception of Britain, all of these once proud empires are now republics and their subject races are now independent states.

The Lord of Hosts had offered the leaders of the world a chance to accept His Message. If they did not accept His Station they were still given advice on how to establish world peace. He called upon them to reduce their armaments and excessive taxation, settle international disputes, help the poor and uphold the highest standard of justice. Bahá’u’lláh says that “It is their duty to convene an all-inclusive assembly, which either they themselves or their ministers will attend, and to enforce whatever measures are required to establish unity and concord amongst men. They must put away the weapons of war, and turn to the instruments of universal reconstruction.” (Bahá’u’lláh: “Epistle to the Son of the Wolf”, p. 30-31) A world government could have been established and the horrendous conflicts of the twentieth century avoided.

Having ignored the call of the Lord of Hosts, the rulers of Europe and the Ottoman Empire laid the foundations of world wars that led to their own destruction and a great toll of human misery.

Isaiah prophecied (24:21):

“And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth.”

Napoleon III, in particular, fell from power shortly after Bahá’u’lláh predicted his downfall:

“For what thou hast done, thy kingdom shall be thrown into confusion, and thine empire shall pass from thine hands, as a punishment for that which thou hast wrought. Then wilt thou know how thou hast plainly erred. Commotions shall seize all the people in that land, unless thou arisest to help this Cause, and followest Him Who is the Spirit of God (Jesus Christ) in this, the Straight Path. Hath thy pomp made thee proud? By My Life! It shall not endure; nay, it shall soon pass away, unless thou holdest fast by this firm Cord. We see abasement hastening after thee, whilst thou art of the heedless. It behoveth thee when thou hearest His Voice calling from the seat of glory to cast away all that thou possessest, and cry out: `Here am I, O Lord of all that is in heaven and all that is on earth!'” (Bahá’u’lláh: “The Summons of the Lord of Hosts”, pp. 72-73)

When Paris fell to the Prussians in 1870, crowds in Paris tore down all signs that bore the name of Napoleon or his empress. On the 18th of January 1871, King Wilhelm of Prussia was proclaimed Kaiser (‘Emperor’) of Germany at the Palace of Versailles. Napoleon fled to Britain and his Empire was replaced by a Republic. On the 9th of January 1873, Napoleon died after a failed operation. His only legitimate son was killed on the 1st of June 1879, at the age of 23. He was fighting for Britain in the Zulu War in South Africa. (see: Fenton Bresler: “Napoleon III - a life”, p. 380-416)

Bahá’u’lláh called upon the kings of the world:

“O kings of the earth! Give ear unto the Voice of God, calling from this sublime, this fruit-laden Tree, that hath sprung out of the Crimson Hill, upon the holy Plain, intoning the words: “There is none other God but He, the Mighty, the All-Powerful, the All-Wise.” This is a Spot which hath been sanctified by God for those who approach it, a Spot wherein His Voice may be heard from the celestial Tree of Holiness. Fear God, O concourse of kings, and suffer not yourselves to be deprived of this most sublime grace. Fling away, then, the things ye possess, and take fast hold on the Handle of God, the Exalted, the Great. Set your hearts towards the Face of God, and abandon that which your desires have bidden you to follow, and be not of those who perish . . .

“Lay not aside the fear of God, O kings of the earth, and beware that ye transgress not the bounds which the Almighty hath fixed. Observe the injunctions laid upon you in His Book, and take good heed not to overstep their limits. Be vigilant, that ye may not do injustice to anyone, be it to the extent of a grain of mustard seed. Tread ye the path of justice, for this, verily, is the straight path.

“Compose your differences and reduce your armaments, that the burden of your expenditures may be lightened, and that your minds and hearts may be tranquillized. Heal the dissensions that divide you, and ye will no longer be in need of any armaments except what the protection of your cities and territories demandeth. Fear ye God, and take heed not to outstrip the bounds of moderation and be numbered among the extravagant.

“We have learned that ye are increasing your outlay every year, and are laying the burden thereof on your subjects. This, verily, is more than they can bear, and is a grievous injustice. Decide ye justly between men, O kings, and be ye the emblems of justice amongst them. This, if ye judge fairly, is a thing that behoveth you, and beseemeth your station.

“Beware not to deal unjustly with any one that appealeth to you, and entereth beneath your shadow. Walk ye in the fear of God, and be ye of them that lead a godly life. Rest not on your power, your armies, and treasures. Put your whole trust and confidence in God, Who hath created you, and seek ye His help in all your affairs. Succor cometh from Him alone. He succoreth whom He will with the hosts of the heavens and of the earth.

“Know ye that the poor are the trust of God in your midst. Watch that ye betray not His trust, that ye deal not unjustly with them and that ye walk not in the ways of the treacherous. Ye will most certainly be called upon to answer for His trust on the day when the Balance of Justice shall be set, the day when unto every one shall be rendered his due, when the doings of all men, be they rich or poor, shall be weighed.

“If ye pay no heed unto the counsels which, in peerless and unequivocal language, We have revealed in this Tablet, Divine chastisement shall assail you from every direction, and the sentence of His justice shall be pronounced against you. On that day ye shall have no power to resist Him, and shall recognize your own impotence. Have mercy on yourselves and on those beneath you. Judge ye between them according to the precepts prescribed by God in His most holy and exalted Tablet, a Tablet wherein He hath assigned to each and every thing its settled measure, in which He hath given, with distinctness, an explanation of all things, and which is in itself a monition unto them that believe in Him.” (Bahá’u’lláh: “The Summons of the Lord of Hosts”, pp. 185-190)


The Most Great Prison [index]


In the closing years of Bahá’u’lláh’s stay in Adrianople, the terms ‘Bábí’ and ‘the people of the Bayán’ were replaced by ‘Bahá’í’ and ‘the people of Bahá’. The greeting ‘Alláh-u-Akbar’ (God is the Greatest) was replaced by ‘Alláh-u-Abhá’ (God is the Most Glorious). However, both of those greetings were sanctioned by the Báb, as well as ‘Alláh-u-Ajmal’ (God is the Most Beauteous). (see: Balyuzi: p. 250)

The ministers of the Sultán decided to remove Bahá’u’lláh even further away from His native homeland. They were suspicious of the Bahá’ís. Several times Bahá’ís were called to the administrative quarters of the government. They were counted one by one and their names recorded. Bahá’u’lláh, knowing that He would soon be banished, told some of the Bahá’ís to leave Adrianople. He said: ‘Why should all be imprisoned and no one be left to teach the Cause of God?’ The Sultán’s ministers decided that Bahá’u’lláh should be exiled to ‘Akká, and Mírzá Yahyá to Cyprus. (see: Balyuzi: pp. 252-253)

On the 12th of August 1868 (22nd of Rabí‘u’th-Thání 1285 AH) Bahá’u’lláh and His family set out on a four-day journey to Gallipoli. No one knew what Bahá’u’lláh’s destination would be. On the morning of the 21st of August (2nd of Jamádíyu’l-Avval) they embarked for Alexandria, and finally arrived in ‘Akká on the 31st (12th). (see: Shoghi Effendi, pp. 180-182)

According to Shoghi Effendi, “the arrival of Bahá’u’lláh in ‘Akká marks the opening of the last phase of His forty-year long ministry, the final stage, and indeed the climax, of the banishment in which the whole of that ministry was spent. A banishment that . . . had now been instrumental in landing Him upon the shores of the Holy Land—the Land promised by God to Abraham, sanctified by the Revelation of Moses, honored by the lives and labors of the Hebrew patriarchs, judges, kings and prophets, revered as the cradle of Christianity, and as the place where Zoroaster, according to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s testimony, had ‘held converse with some of the Prophets of Israel,’ and associated by Islám with the Apostle’s night-journey, through the seven heavens, to the throne of the Almighty.” (Shoghi Effendi: p. 183)

Bahá’u’lláh’s arrival in the Holy Land “had been actually prophesied ‘through the tongue of the Prophets two or three thousand years before.’ God, ‘faithful to His promise,’ had, ‘to some of the Prophets’ ‘revealed and given the good news that the “Lord of Hosts should be manifested in the Holy Land.”’ Isaiah, had, in this connection, announced in his Book: ‘Get thee up into the high mountain, O Zion, that bringest good tidings; lift up thy voice with strength, O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings. Lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah: “Behold your God! Behold the Lord God will come with strong hand, and His arm shall rule for Him.”’ David, in his Psalms, had predicted: ‘Lift up your heads, 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.’ ‘Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined. Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence.’ Amos had, likewise, foretold His coming: ‘The Lord will roar from Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem; and the habitations of the shepherds shall mourn, and the top of Carmel shall wither.’” (Shoghi Effendi: pp. 183-184)

Bahá’u’lláh says:

“Hearken with thine inner ear unto the Voice of Jeremiah, Who saith: "Oh, for great is that Day, and it hath no equal." Wert thou to observe with the eye of fairness, thou wouldst perceive the greatness of the Day. Incline thine ear unto the Voice of this All-Knowing Counsellor, and suffer not thyself to be deprived of the mercy that hath surpassed all created things, visible and invisible. 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.” (“Epistle to the Son of the Wolf”, p. 144)

“I am the One Whom the tongue of Isaiah hath extolled, the One with Whose name both the Torah and the Evangel were adorned. Thus hath it been decreed in the Scriptures of thy Lord, the Most Merciful. He, verily, hath borne witness unto Me, as I bear witness unto Him. And God testifieth to the truth of My words. Say: The Books have been sent down for naught but My remembrance. Whosoever is receptive to their call shall perceive therefrom the sweet fragrances of My name and My praise; and he who hath unstopped the ear of his inmost heart shall hear from every word thereof: ‘The True One is come! He indeed is the beloved of the worlds!’” (“The Summons of the Lord of Hosts”, p. 86)

What was this city, which Bahá’u’lláh calls the “Most Great Prison” actually like? In the words of Shoghi Effendi: “‘Akká, the ancient Ptolemais, the St. Jean d’Acre of the Crusaders, that had succesfully defied the siege of Napoleon, had sunk, under the Turks, to the level of a penal colony to which murderers, highway robbers and political agitators were consigned from all parts of the Turkish empire. It was girt about by a double system of ramparts; was inhabited by a people whom Bahá’u’lláh stigmatized as ‘the generation of vipers’; was devoid of any source of water within its gates; was flea-infested, damp and honey-combed with gloomy, filthy and tortuous lanes. ‘According to what they say,’ the Supreme Pen has recorded in the Lawh-i-Sultán, ‘it is the most desolate of the cities of the world, the most unsightly of them in appearance, the most detestable in climate, and the foulest in water. It is as though it were the metropolis of the owl.’ So putrid was the air that, according to a proverb, a bird when flying over it would drop dead.” (Shoghi Effendi: pp. 185-186)

The exiles were subjected “to the strictest confinement”. The Sultán “not only condemned them to perpetual banishment, but stipulated their strict incarceration, and forbade them to associate either with each other or with the local inhabitants.” The Sultán’s decree was “read publicly, soon after the arrival of the exiles, in the principle mosque of the city as a warning to the population. . . . Having, after a miserable voyage, disembarked at ‘Akká, all the exiles, men, women and children, were, under the eyes of a curious and callous population that had assembled at the port to behold the “God of the Persians,” conducted to the army barracks, where they were locked in, and the sentinels detailed to guard them.” (see: Shoghi Effendi: pp. 186-187)

Bahá’u’lláh and His companions had to endure long incarceration in this prison. Pilgrims, some who had come from Persia on foot, were forbidden to see Him. “To the galling weight of these tribulations was now added the bitter grief of a sudden tragedy.” Mírzá Mihdí, the Purest Branch, Bahá’u’lláh’s twenty-one year old son, died. “He was pacing the roof of the barracks, in the twilight, one evening, wrapped in his customary devotions, when he fell through the unguarded skylight onto a wooden crate, standing on the floor beneath, which pierced his ribs, and caused, twenty-two hours later, his death on the 23rd of Rabí‘u’l-Avval 1287 A.H. (June 23, 1870). His dying supplication to a grieving Father was that his life might be accepted as a ransom for those who were prevented from attaining the presence of their Beloved.” (see: Shoghi Effendi: pp. 187-188)

This eventually came to pass, and Bahá’u’lláh was allowed to receive pilgrims. Four months after the death of the Purest Branch the exiles were sent to other accomodation within the city. Bahá’u’lláh stayed in various houses in ‘Akká. There was a Christian named ‘Údí Khammár. About the time that the exiles were condemned to banishment in ‘Akká, he was planning to have a mansion built in the vicinity of Bahjí, the palace of ‘Abdu’lláh Páshá. When Khammár left ‘Akká to take up residence in his new house, he let Bahá’u’lláh rent his old house in the city. (see: Balyuzi, p. 315)


The Most Holy Book [index]


In the house of ‘Údí Khammár, Bahá’u’lláh revealed the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, the Most Holy Book. Shoghi Effendi calls the Revelation of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas “what may well rank as the most signal act of His Ministry.” He describes it as “the principal repository of that Law which the Prophet Isaiah had anticipated, and which the writer of the Apocalypse had described as the “new heaven” and the “new earth,” as “the Tabernacle of God,” as the “Holy City,” as the “Bride,” the “New Jerusalem coming down from God,” this “Most Holy Book,” whose provisions must remain inviolate for no less than a thousand years, and whose system will embrace the entire place, may well be regarded as the brightest emanation from the mind of Bahá’u’lláh, as the Mother Book of His Dispensation, and the Charter of His New World Order.” (see: Shoghi Effendi: p. 213)

He says that “unlike the Old Testament and the Holy Books which preceded it . . . unlike the Gospels . . . unlike even the Qur’án which, though explicit in the laws and ordinances formulated by the Apostle of God, is silent on the all-important subject of the succession, the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, revealed from first to last by the Author of the Dispensation Himself, not only preserves for posterity the basic laws and ordinances on which the fabric of His future World Order must rest, but ordains, in addition to the function of interpretation which it confers upon His Successor, the necessary institutions through which the integrity and unity of His Faith can alone be safeguarded.” (see: Shoghi Effendi: p. 213)

The Kitáb-i-Aqdas is not simply a book of laws. In addition to a variety of themes, it contains Bahá’u’lláh’s “summons issued to the Presidents of the Republics of the American continent. . . . His warnings to William I, the conquerer of Napoleon III; the reproof He administers to Francis Joseph, the Emperor of Austria; His reference to “the lamentations of Berlin” in His apostrophe to “the banks of the Rhine”; His condemnation of “the throne of tyranny” established in Constantinople” and other important messages. (see: Shoghi Effendi: p. 215)

“Think not that We have revealed unto you a mere code of laws. Nay, rather, We have unsealed the choice Wine with the fingers of might and power. To this beareth witness that which the Pen of Revelation hath revealed. Meditate upon this, O men of insight!” (Bahá’u’lláh: “the Kitáb-i-Aqdas”, p. 21)

“Immerse yourselves in the ocean of My words, that ye may unravel its secrets, and discover all the pearls of wisdom that lie hid in its depths. Take heed that ye do not vacillate in your determination to embrace the truth of this Cause—a Cause through which the potentialities of the might of God have been revealed, and His sovereignty established. With faces beaming with joy, hasten ye unto Him. This is the changeless Faith of God, eternal in the past, eternal in the future. Let him that seeketh, attain it; and as to him that hath refused to seek it—verily, God is Self-Sufficient, above any need of His creatures.

“Say: This is the infallible Balance which the Hand of God is holding, in which all who are in the heavens and all who are on the earth are weighed, and their fate determined, if ye be of them that believe and recognize this truth. Say: This is the Most Great Testimony, by which the validity of every proof throughout the ages hath been established, would that ye might be assured thereof. Say: Through it the poor have been enriched, the learned enlightened, and the seekers enabled to ascend unto the presence of God. Beware lest ye make it a cause of dissension amongst you. Be ye as firmly settled as the immovable mountain in the Cause of your Lord, the Mighty, the Loving . . .

“This is the Counsel of God; would that thou mightest heed it! This is the Bounty of God; would that thou mightest receive it! This is the Utterance of God; if only thou wouldst apprehend it! This is the Treasure of God; if only thou couldst understand!

“This is a Book which hath become the Lamp of the Eternal unto the world, and His straight, undeviating Path amidst the peoples of the earth. Say: This is the Dayspring of Divine knowledge, if ye be of them that understand, and the Dawning-place of God's commandments, if ye be of those who comprehend.” (pp. 85-87)


Mount Carmel [index]


While imprisoned in the barracks at ‘Akká, Bahá’u’lláh predicted: “Fear not. These doors shall be opened. My tent shall be pitched on Mount Carmel, and the utmost joy shall be realized.” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá relates: “Bahá’u’lláh loved the beauty and verdure of the country. One day He passed the remark: “I have not gazed on verdure for nine years. The country is the world of the soul, the city is the world of bodies.” When I heard indirectly of this saying I realized that He was longing for the country, and I was sure that whatever I could do towards the carrying out of His wish would be succesful.” (J. E. Esslemont: “Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era”, pp. 34-35) ‘Abdu’l-Bahá eventually succeeded and Bahá’u’lláh pitched His tent on Carmel.

Mount Carmel comes from a Hebrew word often translated as the ‘Vineyard of God’. It reaches 1,789 feet at the highest point. Solomon compared his loved one’s head to Mount Carmel (7:7). Isaiah extolls the ‘excellency of Carmel’ (35:2). Jeremiah, speaking of the Lord of Hosts, says: “. . . .as Carmel by the sea, so shall he come.” (46:18) Mount Carmel is associated with the Prophet Elijah, who lived in caves on the mountain. It is the place where he proved God’s ascendancy of the worshippers of Baal (1 Kings 18:19): “Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel.” Carmel was also a haven for his successor, Elisha. The Templar Society began settling at the foot of Carmel in 1868, the year in which Bahá’u’lláh arrived in the Holy Land. There they expected the imminent return of Christ. Through its association with the Prophets of Israel and with Bahá’u’lláh, Carmel is sacred to four religions: Judaism, Christianity, Islám and the Bahá’í Faith. (see: Bahá’u’lláh: “Tablet of Carmel”, Introduction)

On one of His visits to Mount Carmel, Bahá’u’lláh dictated the Tablet of Carmel. It was revealed in the vicinity of the cave of Elijah. At about midday, one of his secretaries relates, Bahá’u’lláh commanded him to pick up his pen. He then revealed the Tablet, in a loud and majestic voice. So powerful was His utterance that the Carmelite monks came out to see what was going on. (“Tablet of Carmel”, Introduction)

Bahá’u’lláh says:

“`Call out to Zion, O Carmel, and announce the joyful tidings: He that was hidden from mortal eyes is come! His all-conquering sovereignty is manifest; His all-encompassing splendour is revealed. Beware lest thou hesitate or halt. 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. Oh, how I long to announce unto every spot on the surface of the earth, and to carry to each one of its cities, the glad-tidings of this Revelation - a Revelation to which the heart of Sinai hath been attracted, and in whose name the Burning Bush is calling: "Unto God, the Lord of Lords, belong the kingdoms of earth and heaven." Verily this is the Day in which both land and sea rejoice at this announcement, the Day for which have been laid up those things which God, through a bounty beyond the ken of mortal mind or heart, hath destined for revelation. Ere long will God sail His Ark upon thee, and will manifest the people of Bahá who have been mentioned in the Book of Names.'” (Bahá’u’lláh: “Tablet of Carmel”, pp. 36-48)

On His last visit to the mountain in 1891, Bahá’u’lláh chose the exact spot on Mount Carmel where the Shrine of the Báb would be built. The Shrine was constructed in 1909. Beginning work in 1987, the Bahá’ís constructed 18 monumental terraces from the foot to the crest of Mount Carmel. Nine are above and nine below the Shrine. The terraces stretch about a kilometre, reaching a height of 225 metres, and spanning the mountain from 60 to almost 400 metres. The gardens are maintained by a highly sophisticated water irrigation system. (see: Haifa Tourist Board: “Bahá’í Shrines and Gardens on Mount Carmel, Haifa - Israel”)

Other Bahá’í buildings on Carmel include the International Bahá’í Archives and the Seat of the Universal House of Justice, the international governing body of the Bahá’í Faith. Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá have guaranteed that the Universal House of Justice is unerringly guided by God. In His Will and Testament, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá says that it is “the source of all good and freed from all error” and “whatsoever they decide is of God”. It is elected every five years by the members of the National Spiritual Assemblies. (see: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá: “Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá”, pp. 11-14)

Isaiah foretold (2:2-3): “And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us His ways, and we will walk in His paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.”

This has come to pass. The law does “go forth” from the New Jerusalem, the New Zion. The Universal House of Justice unerringly sends forth its guidance and instruction to the whole word. It is assisted by a staff of about 600 volunteers, representing more than 55 countries. Every year hundreds of Bahá’ís from “all nations” go on pilgrimage to this holy mountain. Bahá’u’lláh declared that His Dispensation will last at least a full thousand years. As the writer of the Book of Revelation declares (20:6): “. . . .and they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” And (21:2): “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven.” This New Jerusalem which descended from heaven, refers to, amongst other things, the Kitab-i-Aqdás and the Administrative Order of Bahá’u’lláh, which has been established on Mount Carmel.

“Amos saith: "The Lord will roar from Zion, and utter His Voice from Jerusalem; and the habitations of the shepherds shall mourn, and the top of Carmel shall wither." Carmel, in the Book of God, hath been designated as the Hill of God, and His Vineyard. It is here that, by the grace of the Lord of Revelation, the Tabernacle of Glory hath been raised. Happy are they that attain thereunto; happy they that set their faces towards it . . .

“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" . . .

“And likewise, He saith: "Say to them that are of a fearful heart: be strong, fear not, behold your God." This blessed verse is a proof of the greatness of the Revelation, and of the greatness of the Cause, inasmuch as the blast of the trumpet must needs spread confusion throughout the world, and fear and trembling amongst all men . . . It is now incumbent upon them who are endowed with a hearing ear and a seeing eye to ponder these sublime words, in each of which the oceans of inner meaning and explanation are hidden, that haply the words uttered by Him Who is the Lord of Revelation may enable His servants to attain, with the utmost joy and radiance, unto the Supreme Goal and Most Sublime Summit - the dawning-place of this Voice.” (Bahá’u’lláh: “Epistle to the Son of the Wolf”, p. 145)

“All glory be to this Day, the Day in which the fragrances of mercy have been wafted over all created things, a Day so blest that past ages and centuries can never hope to rival it, a Day in which the countenance of the Ancient of Days hath turned towards His holy seat. Thereupon the voices of all created things, and beyond them those of the Concourse on High, were heard calling aloud: `Haste thee, O Carmel, for lo, the light of the countenance of God, the Ruler of the Kingdom of Names and Fashioner of the heavens, hath been lifted upon thee.'” (Bahá’u’lláh: “Tablet of Carmel”, pp. 1-6)


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