Read: Baha'u'llah and the New Era


Baha'u'llah and the New Era
An Introduction to the Baha'i Faith
By J.E. Esslemont

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This etext is based on:
"Baha'u'llah and the New Era" by J.E. Esslemont

Bahá'í Publishing Trust, Wilmette, Illinois 60091
Copyright 1950, (c) 1970, 1976, 1980 by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States
All Rights Reserved

First edition, George Allen Unwin Ltd., London, 1923
First revised edition, Baha'i Publishing Committee, New York, 1937
Second revised edition, Baha'i Publishing Committee, Wilmette, 1950
Third revised edition, Baha'i Publishing Trust, Wilmette, 1970
Fourth revised paper edition, Baha'i Publishing Trust, Wilmette, 1976
Fourth revised cloth edition, Baha'i Publishing Trust, Wilmette, 1980
Fifth revised paper edition, Baha'i Publishing Trust, Wilmette, 1980

Availability of this etext in no way modifies the copyright status of the above publication.
This etext is freely available through anonymous internet file-sharing.
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Contents
PAGE

Preface to 1937 Edition............................... vii
Preface to 1950 Edition............................... ix
Preface to 1970 Edition............................... xi
Introduction.......................................... xiii

CHAPTER
1. The Glad Tidings.................................. 1
2. The Bab: The Forerunner......................... 11
3. Baha'u'llah: The Glory of God................... 23
4. Abdu'l-Baha: The Servant of Baha............... 51
5. What Is a Baha'i?............................... 71
6. Prayer............................................ 88
7. Health and Healing................................ 101
8. Religious Unity................................... 116
9. True Civilization................................. 133
10. The Way to Peace.................................. 156
11. Various Ordinances and Teachings.................. 175
12. Religion and Science.............................. 197
13. Prophecies Fulfilled by the Baha'i Movement..... 211
14. Prophecies of Baha'u'llah and Abdu'l-Baha..... 234
15. Retrospect and Prospect........................... 252
16. Epilogue.......................................... 283
Basic References on the Baha'i Faith............ 287
Index............................................. 289

Preface to 1937 Edition


With the publication of "Baha'u'llah and the New Era" more
than ten years ago, the Baha'i Faith was given its first well-
conceived, thorough exposition by a student of the teachings.
Recognizing its value as the most satisfactory introduction to
the Cause, Baha'is in both East and West have found Dr.
Esslemont's book so helpful that it has been translated into
some thirty different languages.
As Dr. Esslemont himself recognized, the Faith entered a
new phase of its history after the ascension of Abdu'l-Baha.
The result is that the author's views, some of them written
prior to 1921, no longer, on certain aspects of the subject, correspond
to the evolutionary character of the Faith. His treatment
of events and social conditions then existing, moreover,
no longer appears fully relevant. Unavoidably, a few errors of
fact had entered his text, while his explanation of the stations
of the Bab and of Abdu'l-Baha have been replaced in the
minds of Baha'is by the authoritative interpretations since
made by the first Guardian of the Faith, Shoghi Effendi.
The present edition therefore represents a revision made by
the American National Spiritual Assembly, acting under the
advice and approval of Shoghi Effendi.
These revisions in no respect alter the original plan of Dr.
Esselmont's book, nor affect the major portion of his text.
Their purpose has been to amplify the author's discussion in a
few passages by the addition of material representing the fuller
knowledge available since his lamented death, and newer translations
of his quotations from Baha'i Sacred Writings.

Baha'i Publishing Committee

January, 1937


Preface to 1950 Edition


With this edition the American Baha'i Publishing Committee
takes over copyright and other interests in "Baha'u'llah
and the New Era" from Messrs. George Allen Unwin Ltd., of
London, England, through whom the late Dr. J. E. Esslemont
published his famous book more than twenty years ago. Under
arrangement with the British publishers, the Committee has
since 1928 brought out eleven printings, in addition to the first
American edition imported by Brentano's of New York.
This edition does not displace the text as it has appeared
since major revision was made in the book under the direction
of the Guardian of the Faith in 1937, as the time has not come
for anything like a thorough recasting of the book to make its
references to world conditions completely contemporaneous.
Dr. Esslemont's work endures as a trustworthy introduction to
the history and teachings of the Baha'i Faith. Its translation
into some thirty different languages attests its appeal to
students in the East as well as the West.
It should be added that any further revision of the text in
the future is subject to approval by Shoghi Effendi. The Committee
has no authority to pass upon revisions which may be
desired by Baha'is of other countries for their particular need.


Baha'i Publishing Committee


December, 1950



Preface to 1970 Edition


Since 1937 no revision has been made to the text of Dr.
Esslemont's book, although in 1950 some minor corrections
were introduced. On the other hand, the diffusion and development
of the Baha'i Faith since that time have been tremendous,
and there has been added to Baha'i bibliography a rich legacy
of incomparable expositions, translations and historical accounts
from the pen of Shoghi Effendi, Guardian of the Faith
and the appointed interpreter of its Sacred Writings.
It has therefore been deemed necessary to bring the book up
to date in order to maintain its usefulness for modern readers.
This has been done with a minimum of alteration to the text,
and chiefly by the use of footnotes and of an epilogue giving
the current statistics and new developments in the organic
unfoldment of the Baha'i Faith.
Dr. Esslemont's book continues to be one of the most
widely used introductory books on the Baha'i Faith, as evidenced
by the fact that since 1937 the number of its translations
has increased from thirty to fifty-eight.

Baha'i Publishing Trust



Introduction


In December 1914, through a conversation with friends who
had met Abdu'l-Baha, and the loan of a few pamphlets, I
first became acquainted with the Baha'i teachings. I was at
once struck by their comprehensiveness, power and beauty.
They impressed me as meeting the great needs of the modern
world more fully and satisfactorily than any other presentation
of religion which I had come across -- an impression
which subsequent study has only served to deepen and confirm.
In seeking for fuller knowledge about the movement I
found considerable difficulty in obtaining the literature I
wanted, and soon conceived the idea of putting together the
gist of what I learned in the form of a book, so that it might
be more easily available for others. When communication with
Palestine was reopened after the war, I wrote to Abdu'l-Baha
and enclosed a copy of the first nine chapters of the book,
which was then almost complete in rough draft. I received a
very kind and encouraging reply, and a cordial invitation to visit
Him in Haifa and bring the whole of my manuscript with
me. The invitation was gladly accepted, and I had the great
privilege of spending two and a half months as the guest of
Abdu'l-Baha during the winter of 1919-1920. During this
visit Abdu'l-Baha discussed the book with me on various occasions.
He gave several valuable suggestions for its improvement
and proposed that, when I had revised the manuscript,
He would have the whole of it translated into Persian so that
He could read it through and amend or correct it where necessary.
The revisal and translation were carried out as suggested,
and Abdu'l-Baha found time, amid His busy life, to
correct some three and a half chapters (Chapters I, II, V and
part of III) before He passed away. It is a matter of profound
regret to met that Abdu'l-Baha was not able to complete
the correction of the manuscript, as the value of the book
would thereby have been greatly enhanced. The whole of the
manuscript has been carefully revised, however, by a committee
of the National Baha'i Assembly of England, and its
publication approved by that Assembly.
I am greatly indebted to Miss E. J. Rosenberg, Mrs. Claudia
S. Coles, Mirza Lutfu'llah S. Hakim, Messrs. Roy Wilhelm
and Mountfort Mills and many other kind friends for valuable
help in the preparation of the work.
As regards the transliteration of Arabic and Persian names
and words, the system adopted in this book is that recently
recommended by Shoghi Effendi for use throughout the
Baha'i World.

J. E. ESSLEMONT


Fairford, Cults,
By Aberdeen.


Baha'u'llah
and the
New
Era


<p1>
The Glad Tidings/1

The Promised One of all the peoples of the world hath appeared.
All peoples and communities have been expecting a
Revelation, and He, Baha'u'llah, is the foremost teacher and
educator of all mankind. -- ABDU'L-BAHA.

The Greatest Event in History

If we study the story of the "ascent of man" as recorded in
the pages of history, it becomes evident that the leading factor
in human progress is the advent, from time to time, of men
who pass beyond the accepted ideas of their day and become
the discoverers and revealers of truths hitherto unknown
among mankind. The inventor, the pioneer, the genius, the
Prophet -- these are the men on whom the transformation of
world primarily depends. As Carlyle says: --

The plain truth, very plain, we think is, that ... one
man that has a higher Wisdom, a hitherto unknown
spiritual Truth in him, is stronger, not than ten men that
have it not, or than ten thousand, but than all men that
have it not; and stands among them with a quite ethereal,
angelic power, as with a sword out of Heaven's own armory,
sky-tempered, which no buckler, and no tower of
brass, will finally withstand. -- Sign of the Times

In the history of science, of art, of music, we see abundant
illustrations of this truth, but in no domain is the supreme importance
of the great man and his message more clearly evident
than in that of religion. All down the ages, whenever the
spiritual life of men has become degenerate and their morals
corrupt, that most wonderful and mysterious of men, the
Prophet, makes His appearance. Alone against the world, without
a single human being capable of teaching, of guiding, of
fully understanding Him, or of sharing His responsibility, He
<p2>
arises, like a seer among blind men, to proclaim His gospel of
righteousness and truth.
Amongst the Prophets some stand out with special pre-eminence.
Every few centuries a great Divine Revealer -- a
Krishna, a Zoroaster, a Moses, a Jesus, a Muhammad -- appears
in the East, like a spiritual Sun, to illumine the darkened
minds of men and awaken their dormant souls. Whatever our
views as to the relative greatness of these religion-founders
we must admit that They have been the most potent factors in
the education of mankind. With one accord these Prophets
declare that the words They utter are not from "Themselves,
but are a Revelation through Them, a Divine message of which
They are the bearers. Their recorded utterances abound, too,
in hints and promises of a great world teacher Who will appear
"in the fullness of time" to carry on Their work and bring
it to fruition, One Who will establish a reign of peace and
justice upon earth, and bring into one family all races, religions,
nations, and tribes, that "there may be one fold and
one shepherd" and that all may know and love God "from the
least even unto the greatest."
Surely the advent of this "Educator of Mankind," in the latter
days, when He appears, must be the greatest event in
human history. And the Baha'i Movement is proclaiming to the
world the glad tidings that this Educator has in fact appeared,
that His Revelation has been delivered and recorded and may
be studied by every earnest seeker, that the "Day of the Lord"
has already dawned and the "Sun or Righteousness" arisen. As
yet only a few on the mountaintops have caught sight of the
Glorious Orb, but already its rays are illumining heaven and
earth, and erelong it will rise above the mountains and shine
with full strength on the plains and valleys too, giving life and
guidance to all.

The Changing World

That the world, during the nineteenth and the early part of the
twentieth centuries,+F1 has been passing through the death
------------------------
1. Written shortly after the First World War.
<p3>
pangs of an old era and the birth pangs of a new, is evident to
all. The old principles of materialism and self-interest, the old
sectarian and patriotic prejudices and animosities, are perishing,
discredited, amidst the ruins they have wrought, and in all
lands we see signs of a new spirit of faith, of brotherhood, of
internationalism, that is bursting the old bonds and overrunning
the old boundaries. Revolutionary changes of unprecedented
magnitude have been occurring in every department of
human life. The old era is not yet dead. It is engaged in a life
and death struggle with the new. Evils there are in plenty,
gigantic and formidable, but they are being exposed, investigated,
challenged and attacked with new vigor and hope.
Clouds there are in plenty, vast and threatening, but the light
is breaking through, and is illumining the path of progress and
revealing the obstacles and pitfalls that obstruct the onward
way.
In the eighteenth century it was different. Then the spiritual
and moral gloom that enshrouded the world was relieved by
hardly a ray of light. It was like the darkest hour before the
dawn, when the few lamps and candles that remain alight do
little more than make the darkness visible. Carlyle in his
Frederick the Great writes of the eighteenth century thus: --

A century which has no history and can have little or
none. A century so opulent in accumulated falsities ...
as never century before was! Which had no longer the
consciousness of being false, so false had it grown; and
was so steeped in falsity, and impregnated with it to the
very bone, that -- in fact the measure of the thing was full,
and a French Revolution had to end it. ... A very fit
termination, as I thankfully fell, for such a century. ...
For there was need once more of a Divine Revelation to
the torpid, frivolous children of men, if they were not to
sink altogether into the ape condition. -- Frederick the
Great, Book I, Chap. I.

Compared with the eighteenth century the present time is
as the dawn after darkness, or as the spring after winter. The
world is stirring with new life, thrilling with new ideals and
hopes. Things that but a few years ago seemed impossible
<p4>
dreams are now accomplished facts. Others that seemed centuries
ahead of us have already become matters of "practical
politics." We fly in the air and make voyages under the sea.
We send messages around the world with the speed of lightning.
Within a few decades we have seen miracles too numerous
to mention.

The Sun of Righteousness

What is the cause of this sudden awakening throughout the
world? Baha'is believe that it is due to a great outpouring of
the Holy Spirit through the Prophet Baha'u'llah, Who was born
in Persia in 1817 and passed away in the Holy Land in 1892.
Baha'u'llah taught that the Prophet, or "Manifestation of
God," is the Light-bringer of the spiritual world, as the sun is
the light-bringer of the natural world. Just as the material sun
shines over the earth and causes the growth and development
of material organisms, so also, through the Divine Manifestation,
the Sun of Truth shines upon the world of heart and soul,
and educates the thoughts, morals and characters of men. And
just as the rays of the natural sun have an influence which
penetrates into the darkest and shadiest corners of the world,
giving warmth and life even to creatures that have never seen
the sun itself, so also, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit through
the Manifestation of God influences the lives of all, and inspires
receptive minds even in places and among peoples where
the name of the Prophet is quite unknown. The advent of the
Manifestation is like the coming of the Spring. It is a day of
Resurrection in which the spiritually dead are raised to new
life, in which the Reality of the Divine Religions is renewed and
reestablished, in which appear "new heaves and a new earth."
But, in the world of nature, the Spring brings about not only
the growth and awakening of new life but also the destruction
and removal of the old and effete; for the same sun, that makes
the flowers to spring and the trees to bud, causes also the decay
and disintegration of what is dead and useless; it loosens the
ice and melts the snow of winter, and sets free the flood and
the storm that cleanse and purify the earth. So is it also in the
<p5>
spiritual world. The spiritual sunshine causes similar commotion
and change. Thus the Day of Resurrection is also the Day
of Judgment, in which corruptions and imitations of the truth
and outworn ideas and customs are discarded and destroyed,
in which the ice and snow of prejudice and superstition, which
accumulated during the season of winter, are melted and transformed,
and energies long frozen and pent up are released to
flood and renovate the world.

The Mission of Baha'u'llah

Baha'u'llah declared, plainly and repeatedly, that He was
the long-expected educator and teacher of all peoples, the
channel of a wondrous Grace that would transcend all previous
outpourings, in which all previous forms of religion would become
merged, as rivers merge in the ocean. He laid a foundation
which affords a firm basis for Unity throughout the whole
world and the inauguration of that glorious age of peace on
earth, goodwill among men, of which prophets have told and
poets sung.
Search after truth, the oneness of mankind, unity of religions,
of races, of nations, of East and West, the reconciliation of
religion and science, the eradication of prejudices and superstitions,
the equality of men and women, the establishment of
justice and righteousness, the setting up of a supreme international
tribunal, the unification of languages, the compulsory
diffusion of knowledge -- these, and many other teachings like
these, were revealed by the pen of Baha'u'llah during the latter
half of the nineteenth century in innumerable books and
epistles several of which were addressed to the Kings and Rulers
of the world.
His message, unique in its comprehensiveness and scope, is
wonderfully in accord with the signs and needs of the times.
Never were the new problems confronting men so gigantic and
complex as now. Never were the proposed solutions so numerous
and conflicting. Never was the need of a great world
teacher so urgent or so widely felt. Never, perhaps, was the
expectancy of such a teacher so confident or so general.
<p6>
Fulfillment of Prophecies

Abdu'l-Baha writes: --

When Christ appeared, twenty centuries ago, although
the Jews were eagerly awaiting His Coming, and prayed
ever day, with tears, saying: "O God, hasten the Revelation
of the Messiah," yet when the Sun of Truth dawned,
they denied Him and rose against Him with the greatest
enmity, and eventually crucified that divine Spirit, the
Word of God, and named Him Beelzebub, the evil one, as
is recorded in the Gospel. The reason for this was that
they said: "The Revelation of Christ, according to the
clear text of the Torah, will be attested by certain signs,
and so long as these signs have not appeared, whoso
layeth claim to be a Messiah is an impostor. Among these
signs is this, that the Messiah should come for an unknown
place, yet we all know this man's house in Nazareth,
and can any good thing come out of Nazareth? The
second sign is that He shall rule with a rod of iron, that is,
He must act with the sword, but this Messiah has not even
a wooden staff. Another of the conditions and signs is
this: He must sit upon the throne of David and establish
David's sovereignty. Now, far from being enthroned, this
man has not even a mat to sit on. Another of the conditions
is this: the promulgation of all the laws of the Torah;
yet this man has abrogated these laws, and has even
broken the sabbath day, although it is the clear text of the
Torah that whosoever layeth claim to prophethood and
revealeth miracles and breaketh the sabbath day, must be
put to death. Another of the signs is this, that in His reign
justice will be so advanced that righteousness and well-doing
will extend from the human even to the animal
world -- the snake and the mouse will share one hold, and
the eagle and the partridge one nest, the lion and the
gazelle shall dwell in one pasture, and the wolf and the kid
shall drink from one fountain. Yet now, injustice and
tyranny have waxed so great in his time that they have
<p7>
crucified him! Another of the conditions is this, that in
the days of the Messiah the Jews will prosper and triumph
over all the peoples of the world, but now they are living
in the utmost abasement and servitude in the Empire of
the Romans. Then how can this be the Messiah promised
in the Torah?
In this wise did they object to that Sun of Truth, although
that Spirit of God was indeed the One promised in
the Torah. But as they did not understand the meaning of
these signs, they crucified the Word of God. Now the
Baha'is hold that the recorded signs did come to pass in
the Manifestation of Christ, although not in the sense
which the Jews understood, the description in the Torah
being allegorical. For instance, among the signs is that of
sovereignty. For Baha'is say that the sovereignty of Christ
was a heavenly, divine, everlasting sovereignty, not a
Napoleonic sovereignty that vanisheth in a short time. For
well-nigh two thousand years this sovereignty of Christ
hath been established, and until now it endureth, and to
all eternity that Holy Being will be exalted upon an ever-lasting
throne.
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 splendor, yet the Jews are still awaiting the coming
of the Messiah and regard themselves as true and Christ
as false. -- Written by Abdu'l-Baha for this chapter.

Had the Jews applied to Christ He would have explained to
them the true meaning of the prophecies concerning Himself.
Let us profit by their example, and before deciding that the
prophecies concerning the Manifestation of the Latter-Day
Teacher have not been fulfilled, let us turn to what Baha'u'llah
Himself has written regarding their interpretation, for many
of the prophecies are admittedly "sealed" sayings, and the True
Educator Himself is the only One Who can break the seals and
show the real meaning contained in the casket of words.
Baha'u'llah has written much in explanation of the prophecies
<p8>
of old, but it is not on these that He depends for proof of
His Prophethood. The sun is its own proof, to all that have the
power of perception. When it rises we need no ancient predictions
to assure us of its shining. So with the Manifestation of
God when He appears. Were all the former prophecies swept
into oblivion, He would still be His own abundant and sufficient
proof to all whose spiritual sense are open.

Proofs of Prophethood

Baha'u'llah asked no one to accept His statements and His
tokens blindly. On the contrary, He put in the very forefront
of His teachings emphatic warnings against blind acceptance
of authority, and urged all to open their eyes and ears, and use
their own judgement, independently and fearlessly, in order to
ascertain the truth. He enjoined the fullest investigation and
never concealed Himself, offering, as the supreme proofs of
His Prophethood, His words and works and their effects in
transforming the lives and characters of men. The tests He
proposed are the same as those laid down by His great predecessors.
Moses said: --

When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if
the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing
which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath
spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of
him. -- Deut. xviii, 22.

Christ put His test just as plainly, and appealed to it in proof
of His own claim. He said: --

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's
clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall
know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of
thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth
forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil
fruit. ... Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
-- Matt. vii, 15-17, 20

In the chapters that follow, we shall endeavor to show
whether Baha'u'llah's claim to Prophethood stands or falls by
<p9>
application of these tests: whether the things that He had
spoken have followed and come to pass, and whether His fruits
have been good or evil; in other words, whether His prophecies
are being fulfilled and His ordinances established, and whether
His lifework has contributed to the education and upliftment
of humanity and the betterment of morals, or the contrary.

Difficulties of Investigation

There are, of course, difficulties in the way of the student
who seeks to get at the truth about this Cause. Like all great
moral and spiritual reformations, the Baha'i Faith has been
grossly misrepresented. About the terrible persecutions and
sufferings of Baha'u'llah and His followers, both friends and
enemies are in entire agreement. About the value of the Movement,
however, and the character of its Founders, the statements
of the believers and the accounts of the deniers are utterly
at variance. It is just as in the time of Christ. Concerning
the crucifixion of Jesus and the persecution and martyrdom of
His followers both Christian and Jewish historians are in agreement,
but whereas the believers say that Christ fulfilled and
developed the teachings of Moses and the prophets, the deniers
declare that He broke the laws and ordinances and was worthy
of death.
In religion, as in science, truth reveals her mysteries only to
the humble and reverent seeker, who is ready to lay aside every
prejudice and superstition -- to sell all that he has, in order
that he may buy the "one pearl of great price." To understand
the Baha'i Faith in its full significance, we must undertake its
study in the spirit of sincere and selfless devotion to truth,
persevering in the path of search and relying on divine guidance.
In the Writings of its Founders we shall find the master
key to the mysteries of this great spiritual awakening, and the
ultimate criterion of its value. Unfortunately, here again there
are difficulties in the way of the student who is unacquainted
with the Persian and Arabic languages in which the teachings
are written. Only a small proportion of the Writings has been
translated into English, and many of the translations which
have appeared leave much to be desired, both in accuracy and
<p10>
style. But despite the imperfection and inadequacy of historical
narratives and translations, the greatest essential truths which
form the massive and firm foundations of this Cause stand out
like mountains from the mists of uncertainty.+F1

Aim of Book

The endeavor in the following chapters will be to set forth,
as far as possible, fairly and without prejudice, the salient
features of the history and more especially of the teachings of
the Baha'i Cause, so that readers may be enabled to form an
intelligent judgment as to their importance, and perhaps be
induced to search into the subject more deeply for themselves.
Search after truth, however, important though it be, is not
the whole aim and end of life. The truth is no dead thing, to be
placed in a museum when found -- to be labeled, classified,
catalogued, exhibited and left there, dry and sterile. It is something
vital which must take root in men's hearts and bear fruit
in their lives ere they reap the full reward of their search.
The real object, therefore, in spreading the knowledge of a
prophetic revelation is that those who become convinced of its
truth may proceed to practice its principles, to "lead the life"
and diffuse the glad tidings, thus hastening the advent of that
blessed day when God's Will shall be done on earth as it is in
Heaven.
------------------------
1. There are now the incomparable translations by Shoghi Effendi from
the Persian and Arabic, of the Writings of Baha'u'llah and Abdu'l-Baha.
These, together with his own considerable writings covering the history of
the Faith, the statements and implications of its fundamental verities and
the unfoldment of its Administrative Order, make the modern inquirer's
task infinitely easier than in Dr. Esslemont's time.
<p11>
The Bab:+F1 The Forerunner/2


Verily the oppressor hath slain the Beloved of the worlds
that he might thereby quench the Light of God amidst His
creatures and withhold mankind from the Stream of Celestial
Life in the days of his Lord, the Gracious, the Bountiful. --
BAHA'U'LLAH, Tablet to Ra'is.


Birthplace of the New Revelation

Persia, the birthplace of the Baha'i Revelation, has occupied
a unique place in the history of the world. In the days of her
early greatness she was a veritable queen among nations, unrivaled
in civilization, in power and in splendor. She gave to
the world great kings and statesmen, prophets and poets, philosophers
and artists. Zoroaster, Cyrus and Darius, Hafiz and
Firdawsi, Sa'di and `Umar Khayyam are but a few of her many
famous sons. Her craftsmen were unsurpassed in skill; her
carpets were matchless, her steel blades unequaled, her pottery
world famous. In all parts of the Near and Middle East she has
left traces of her former greatness.
Yet, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries she had sunk
to a condition of deplorable degradation. Her ancient glory
seemed irretrievably lost. Her government was corrupt and in
desperate financial straits; some of her rulers were feeble, and
other monsters of cruelty. Her priests were bigoted and intolerant,
her people ignorant and superstitious. Most of them
belonged to the Shi'ih sect,+F2 of Muhammadans, but there were
also considerable numbers of Zoroastrians, Jews and Christians,
------------------------
1. The "a" pronounced as in Shah.
2. One of the two great factions -- Shi'ih and Sunni -- into which
Islam
fell soon after the death of Muhammad, was the first legitimate successor
of the Prophet, and that only his descendants are the rightful caliphs.
<p12>
of diverse and antagonistic sects. All professed to follow
sublime teachers who exhorted them to worship the one God
and to live in love and unity, yet they shunned, detested and
despised each other, each sect regarding the others as unclean,
as dogs or heathens. Cursing and execration were indulged in
to a fearful extent. It was dangerous for a Jew or a Zoroastrian
to walk in the street on a rainy day, for if his wet garment
should touch a Muhammadan, the Muslim was defiled, and the
other might have to atone for the offense with his life. If a
Muhammadan took money from a Jew, Zoroastrian or Christian
he had to wash it before he could put it in his pocket. If a
Jew found his child giving a glass of water to a poor Muhammadan
beggar he would dash the glass from the child's hand,
for curses rather than kindness should be the portion of infidels!
The Muslims themselves were divided into numerous
sects, among whom strife was often bitter and fierce. The Zoroastrians
did not join much in these mutual recriminations, but
lived in communities apart, refusing to associate with their
fellow countrymen of other faiths.
Social as well as religious affairs were in a state of hopeless
decadence. Education was neglected. Western science and art
were looked upon as unclean and contrary to religion. Justice
was travestied. Pillage and robbery were of common occurrence.
Roads were bad and unsafe for travel. Sanitary arrangements
were shockingly defective.
Yet, notwithstanding all this, the light of spiritual life was
not extinct in Persia. Here and there, amid the prevailing
worldliness and superstition, could still be found some saintly
souls, and in many a heart the longing for God was cherished,
as in the hearts of Anna and Simeon before the appearance of
Jesus. Many were eagerly awaiting the coming of a promised
Messenger of God, and confident that the time of His advent
was at hand. Such was the state of affairs in Persia when the
Bab, the Herald of a new era, set all the country in commotion
with His message.
<p13>
Early Life

Mirza Ali Muhammad, Who afterwards assumed the title
of Bab (i.e. Gate), was born at Shiraz, in the south of Persia,
on the 20th of October 1819 A.D.+F1 He was a Siyyid, that is, a
descendant of the Prophet Muhammad. His father, a well-known
merchant, died soon after His birth, and He was then
placed under the care of a maternal uncle, a merchant of
Shiraz, who brought Him up. In childhood He learned to read,
and received the elementary education customary for children.+F2
At the age of fifteen He went into business, at first with His
guardian, and afterward with another uncle who lived at
Bushihr, on the shore of the Gulf of Persia.
As a youth He was noted for great personal beauty and
charm of manner, and also for exceptional piety, and nobility
of character. He was unfailing in His observance of the prayers,
fasts and other ordinances of the Muhammadan religion, and
not only obeyed the letter, but lived in the spirit of the Prophet's
teachings. He married when about twenty-two years of age.
Of this marriage one son was born, who died while still an
infant, in the first year of the Bab's public ministry.
------------------------
1. First day of Muharram, 1235 A.H.
2. On this point a historian remarks: "The belief of many people in the
East, especially the believers in the Bab (now Baha'is) was this:
that the Bab received no education, but that the Mullas, in order to
lower him in the eyes of the people, declared that such knowledge and
wisdom as he possessed were accounted for by the education he had
received. After deep search into the truth of this matter we have found
evidence to show that in childhood for a short time he used to go to the
house of Shaykh Muhammad (also known as Abid) where he was taught
to read and write in Persian. It was this to which the Bab referred
when he wrote in the book of Bayan: `O Muhammad, O my teacher! ...'
"The remarkable thing is this, however, that this Shaykh, who was his
teacher, became a devoted disciple of his own pupil, and the uncle of the
Bab who was like a father to him, whose name was Haji Siyyid Ali,
also became a devout believer and was martyred as a Babi.
"The understanding of these mysteries is given to seekers after truth,
but we know this, that such education as the Bab received was but
elementary, and that whatever signs of unusual greatness and knowledge
appeared in him were innate and from God."
<p14>
Declaration

On reaching His twenty-fifth year, in response to divine
command, He declared that "God the Exalted had elected Him
to the station of Babhood." In "A Traveller's Narrative"+F1 we
read that: -- "What he intended by the term Bab was this,
that he was the channel of grace from some great Person still
behind the veil of glory, who was the possessor of countless
and boundless perfections, by whose will he moved, and to
the bond of whose love he clung." -- A Traveller's Narrative
(Episode of the Bab), p. 3.
In those days belief in the imminent appearance of a Divine
Messenger was especially prevalent among a sect known as
the Shaykhis, and it was to a distinguished divine belonging to
this sect, called Mulla Husayn Bushru'i, that the Bab first announced
His mission. The exact date of this announcement is
given in the Bayan, one of the Bab's Writings, as two hours
and eleven minutes after sunset on the eve preceding the fifth
day of the month of Jamadiyu'l-Avval 1260 A.H.+F2 Abdu'l-Baha
was born in the course of the same night, but the exact hour of
His birth has not been ascertained. After some days of anxious
investigation and study, Mulla Husayn became firmly convinced
that the Messenger long expected by the Shi'ihs had
indeed appeared. His eager enthusiasm over this discovery was
soon shared by several of his friends. Before long the majority
of the Shaykhis accepted the Bab, becoming known as Babis;
and soon the fame of the young Prophet began to spread like
wildfire throughout the land.


Spread of the Babi Movement

The first eighteen disciples of the Bab (with Himself as
nineteenth) became known as "Letters of the Living." These
------------------------
1. A Traveller's Narrative Written to Illustrate the Episode of the Bab
with an introduction by E. G. Browne, referred to subsequently as A
Traveller's Narrative (Episode of the Bab).
2. i.e. May 23, 1844 A.D.
<p15>
disciples He sent to different parts of Persian and Turkistan to
spread the news of His advent. Meantime He Himself set out
on a pilgrimage to Mecca, where He arrived in December
1844, and there openly declared His mission. On His return to
Bushihr great excitement was caused by the announcement of
His Babhood. The fire of His eloquence, the wonder of His
rapid and inspired writings, His extraordinary wisdom and
knowledge, His courage and zeal as a reformer, aroused the
greatest enthusiasm among His followers, but excited a corresponding
degree of alarm and enmity among the orthodox
Muslims. The Shi'ih doctors vehemently denounced Him, and
persuaded the Governor of Fars, namely Husayn Khan, a
fanatical and tyrannical ruler, to undertake the suppression of
the new heresy. Then commenced for the Bab a long series of
imprisonments, deportations, examinations before tribunals,
scourgings and indignities, which ended only with His martyrdom
in 1850.


Claims of the Bab

The hostility aroused by the claim of Babhood was redoubled
when the young reformer proceeded to declare that
He was Himself the Mihdi (Mahdi) Whose coming Muhammad
had foretold. The Shi'ihs identified this Mihdi with the
12th Imam+F1 who, according to their beliefs, had mysteriously
disappeared from the sight of men about a thousand years
previously. They believed that he was still alive and would reappear
in the same body as before, and they interpreted in a
material sense the prophecies regarding his dominion, his
glory, his conquests and the "signs" of his advent, just as the
Jews in the time of Christ interpreted similar prophecies regarding
------------------------
1. The Imam of the Shi'ihs is the divinely ordained successor of the
Prophet whom all the faithful must obey. Eleven persons successively held
the office of Imam, the first being Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of
the Prophet. The majority of the Shi'ihs hold that the twelfth Imam,
called by them the Imam Mihdi, disappeared as a child into an underground
passage in 329 A.H., and that in the fullness of time he will come forth,
overthrow the infidels and inaugurate an era of blessedness.
<p16>
the Messiah. They expected that he would appear with
earthly sovereignty and an innumerable army and declare his
revelation, that he would raise dead bodies and restore them
to life, and so on. As these signs did not appear, the Shi'ihs
rejected the Bab with the same fierce scorn which the Jews
displayed towards Jesus. The Babis, on the other hand, interpreted
many of the prophecies figuratively. They regarded the
sovereignty of the Promised One, like that of the Galilean
"Man of Sorrows," as a mystical sovereignty; His glory as
spiritual, not earthly glory; His conquests as conquests over
the cities of men's hearts' and they found abundant proof of
the Bab's claim in His wonderful life and teachings, His unshakable
faith, His invincible steadfastness, and His power of
raising to newness of spiritual life those who were in the graves
of error and ignorance.
But the Bab did not stop even with the claim of Mihdihood.
He adopted the sacred title of "Nuqtiyiula" or "Primal Point."
This was a title applied to Muhammad Himself by His followers.
Even the Imams were secondary in importance to the
"Point," from Whom they derived their inspiration and authority.
In assuming this title, the Bab claimed to rank, like
Muhammad, in the series of great Founders of Religion, and
for this reason, in the eyes of the Shi'ihs, He was regarded as
an impostor, just as Moses and Jesus before Him had been regarded
as impostors. He even inaugurated a new calendar, restoring
the solar year, and dating the commencement of the
New Era from the year of His own Declaration.


Persecution Increases

In consequence of these declarations of the Bab and the
alarming rapidity with which people of all classes, rich and
poor, learned and ignorant, were eagerly responding to His
teaching, attempts at suppression became more and more ruthless
and determined. Houses were pillaged and destroyed.
Women were seized and carried off. In Tihran, Fars, Mazindaran,
and other places great numbers of the believers were
<p17>
put to death. Many were beheaded, hanged, blown from the
mouths of cannon, burnt or chopped to pieces. Despite all attempts
at repression, however, the movement progressed. Nay,
through this very oppression the assurance of the believers
increased, for thereby many of the prophecies concerning the
coming of the Mihdi were literally fulfilled. Thus in a tradition
recorded by Jabir, which the Shi'ihs regard as authentic, we
read: --

In him shall be the perfection of Moses, the preciousness
of Jesus, and the patience of Job; his saints shall be
abased in his time, and their heads shall be exchanged as
presents, even as the heads of the Turk and the Deylamite
are exchanged as presents; they shall be slain and burned,
and shall be afraid, fearful and dismayed; the earth shall
be dyed with their blood, and lamentation shall prevail
amongst their women; these are my saints indeed. -- New
History of the Bab, translated by Prof. E. G. Browne,
p. 132.


Martyrdom of the Bab

On the 9th of July, 1850,+F1 the Bab Himself, Who was then
in His thirty-first year, fell a victim to the fanatical fury of
His persecutors. With a devoted young follower name Aqa
Muhammad Ali, who had passionately begged to be allowed
to share His martyrdom, He was led to the scaffold in the old
barrack square of Tabriz. About two hours before noon the
two were suspended by ropes under their armpits in such a way
that the head of Muhammad Ali rested against the breast of
his beloved Master. A regiment of Armenian soldiers was
drawn up and received the order to fire. Promptly the volleys
rang out, but when the smoke cleared, it was found that the
Bab and His companion were still alive. The bullets had but
severed the ropes by which they were suspended, so that they
dropped to the ground unhurt. The Bab proceeded to a room
------------------------
1. Friday, 28th Sha'ban, 1266 A.H.
<p18>
nearby, where He was found talking to one of His friends.
About noon they were again suspended. The Armenians, who
considered the result of their volleys a miracle, were unwilling
to fire again, so another regiment of soldiers had been brought
on the scene, who fired when ordered. This time the volleys
took effect. The bodies of both victims were riddled by bullets
and horribly mutilated, although their faces were almost untouched.
By this foul deed the Barrack Square of Tabriz became a
second Calvary. The enemies of the Bab enjoyed a guilty thrill
of triumph, thinking that this hated tree of the Babi faith was
now severed at the root, and its complete eradication would be
easy! But their triumph was short-lived! They did not realize
that the Tree of Truth cannot be felled by any material ax. Had
they but known, this very crime of theirs was the means of
giving greater vigor to the Cause. The martyrdom of the Bab
fulfilled His own cherished wish and inspired His followers
with increased zeal. Such was the fire of their spiritual enthusiasm
that the bitter winds of persecution but fanned it to a
fiercer blaze: The greater the efforts at extinction, the higher
mounted the flames.


Tomb on Mount Carmel

After the Bab's martyrdom, His remains, with those of His
devoted companion, were thrown on the edge of the moat outside
the city wall. On the second night they were rescued at
midnight by some of the Babis, and after being concealed for
years in secret depositories in Persia, were ultimately brought,
with great danger and difficulty, to the Holy Land. There they
are now interred in a tomb beautifully situated on the slope of
Mount Carmel, not far from the Cave of Elijah, and only a
few miles from the spot where Baha'u'llah spent His last years
and where His remains now lie. Among the thousands of
pilgrims from all parts of the world who come to pay homage
at the Holy Tomb of Baha'u'llah, none omit to offer a prayer
also at the shrine of His devoted lover and forerunner, the Bab.

<p19>
Writings of Bab

The Writings of the Bab were voluminous, and the rapidity
with which, without study or premeditation, He composed
elaborate commentaries, profound expositions or eloquent
prayers was regarded as one of the proofs of His divine inspiration.
The purport of His various Writings has been summarized
as follows: --

Some of these [the Bab's Writings] were commentaries
on, and interpretations of the verses of the Kur'an;
some were prayers, homilies, and hints of [the true significance
of certain] passages; other were exhortations,
admonitions, dissertations on the different branches of the
doctrine of the Divine Unity ... encouragements to
amendment of character, severance from worldly states,
and dependence on the inspirations of God. But the essence
and purport of his compositions were the praises
and descriptions of that Reality soon to appear which was
his only object and aim, his darling, and his desire. For
he regarded his own appearance as that of a harbinger of
good tidings, and considered his own real nature merely
as a means for the manifestation of the greater perfections
of that One. And indeed he ceased not from celebrating
Him by night or day for a single instant, but used to
signify to all his followers that they should expect His
arising: in such wise that he declares in his writings, "I
am a letter out of that most might book and a dew-drop
from that limitless ocean, and, when He shall appear,
my true nature, my mysteries, riddles, and intimations
will become evident, and the embryo of this religion
shall develop through the grades of its being and ascent,
attain to the station of `the most comely of forms,' and
become adorned with the robe of `blessed be God, the
Best of Creators.' ... and so inflamed was he with His flame
that commemoration of Him was the bright candle of
<p20>
his dark nights in the fortress of Maku, and remembrance
of Him was the best of companions in the straits
of the prison of Chihrik. Thereby he obtained spiritual
enlargements; with His wine was he inebriated; and at
remembrance of Him did he rejoice. -- A Traveller's
Narrative (Episode of the Bab), pp. 54-56.


He Whom God Shall Make Manifest

The Bab has been compared to John the Baptist, but the
station of the Bab is not merely that of the herald or forerunner.
In Himself the Bab was a Manifestation of God, the
Founder of an independant religion, even though that religion
was limited in time to a brief period of years. The Baha'is believe
that the Bab and Baha'u'llah were Co-Founders of their
Faith, the following words of Baha'u'llah testifying to this
truth: "That so brief a span should have separated this most
mighty and wondrous Revelation from Mine own previous
Manifestation, is a secret that no man can unravel and a
mystery such as no mind can fathom. Its duration had been
foreordained, and no man shall ever discover its reason unless
and until he be informed of the contents of My Hidden Book."
In His references to Baha'u'llah, however, the Bab revealed an
utter selflessness, declaring that, in the day of "Him whom
God shall manifest": -- "If one should hear a single verse from
Him and recite it, it is better that he should recite the
Beyan [i.e. the Revelation of the Bab] a thousand times." --
A Traveller's Narrative (Episode of the Bab), p. 349.
He counted Himself happy in enduring any affliction, if by
so doing He could smooth the path, be ever so little, for "Him
Whom God shall make manifest," Who was, He declared, the
sole source of His inspiration as well as the sole object of His
love.


Resurrection, Paradise, and Hell

An important part of the Bab's teaching is His explanation of
the terms Resurrection, Day of Judgment, Paradise and
<p21>
Hell. By the Resurrection is meant, He said, the appearance of
a new Manifestation of the Sun of Truth. The raising of the
dead means the spiritual awakening of those who are asleep
in the graves of ignorance, heedlessness and lust. The Day of
Judgment is the Day of the new Manifestation, by acceptance
or rejection of Whose Revelation the sheep are separated from
the goats, for the sheep know the voice of the Good Shepherd
and follow Him. Paradise is the joy of knowing and loving
God, as revealed through His Manifestation, thereby attaining
to the utmost perfection of which one is capable, and, after
death, obtaining entrance to the Kingdom of God and the life
everlasting. Hell is simply deprivation of that knowledge of
God with consequent failure to attain divine perfection, and
loss of the Eternal Favor. He definitely declared that these terms
have no real meaning apart from this; and that the prevalent
ideas regarding the resurrection of the material body, a material
heaven and hell, and the like, are mere figments of the
imagination. He taught that man has a life after death, and
that in the afterlife progress towards perfection is limitless.


Social and Ethical Teachings

In His Writings the Bab tells His followers that they must
be distinguished by brotherly loved and courtesy. Useful arts
and crafts must be cultivated. Elementary education should be
general. In the new and wondrous Dispensation now commencing,
women are to have fuller freedom. The poor are to be provided
for out of the common treasury, but begging is strictly
forbidden, as is the use of intoxicating liquors for beverage
purposes.
The guiding motive of the true Babi must be pure love,
without hope of reward or fear of punishment. Thus says
in the Bayan: --

So worship God that if the recompense of thy worship of
Him were to be the Fire, no alteration in thy worship of
Him would be produced. If you worship from fear, that is
unworthy of the threshold of the holiness of God. ...
<p22>
So also, if your gaze is on Paradise, and if you worship
in hope of that; for then you have made God's creation a
Partner with Him. -- Babis of Persia, II, Prof. E. G.
Browne, J.R.A.S., vol. xxi, p. 931.


Passion and Triumph

This last quotation reveals the spirit which animated
the Bab's whole life. To know and love God, to mirror forth
His attributes and to prepare the way for His coming Manifestation
-- these were the sole aim and object of His being.
For Him life had no terrors and death no sting, for love had
cast out fear, and martyrdom itself was but the rapture of
casting His all at the feet of His Beloved.
Strange! that this pure and beautiful soul, this inspired
teacher of Divine Truth, this devoted lover of God and of His
fellowmen should be so hated, and done to death by the professedly
religious of His day! Surely nothing but unthinking or
willful prejudice could blind men to the fact that here was indeed
a Prophet, a Holy Messenger of God. Worldly greatness
and glory He had none, but how can spiritual Power and Dominion
be proved except by the ability to dispense with all
earthly assistance, and to triumph over all earthly opposition,
even the most potent and virulent? How can Divine Love be
demonstrated to an unbelieving world save by its capacity to
endure to the uttermost the blows of calamity and darts of
affliction, the hated of enemies and the treachery of seeming
friends, to rise serene above all these and, undismayed and
unembittered, still to forgive and bless?
The Bab has endured and the Bab has triumphed. Thousands
have testified to the sincerity of their love for Him by sacrificing
their lives and their all in His service. Kings might well
envy His power over men's hearts and lives. Moreover, "He
Whom the Lord shall make manifest" has appeared, has confirmed
the claims and accepted the devotion of His forerunner,
and made Him partaker of His Glory.
<p23>
Baha'u'llah: The Glory of God/3

O thou who art waiting, tarry no longer, for He is come.
Behold His Tabernacle and His Glory dwelling therein. It is
the Ancient Glory, with a new Manifestation. -- BAHA'U'LLAH.


Birth and Early Life

Mirza Husayn Ali, Who afterwards assumed the title of
Baha'u'llah (i.e. Glory of God), was the eldest son of Mirza
Abbas of Nur, a Vazir or Minister of State. His family was
wealthy and distinguished, many of its members having occupied
important positions in the Government and in the Civil
and Military Services of Persia. He was born in Tihran (Teheran),
the capital city of Persia, between dawn and sunrise
on the 12th of November, 1817.+F2 He never attended school or
college, and what little teaching He received was given at
home. Nevertheless, even as a child He showed wonderful
wisdom and knowledge. While He was still a youth His father
died, leaving Him responsible for the care of His younger
brothers and sisters, and for the management of the extensive
family estates.
On one occasion Abdu'l-Baha, the eldest son of Baha'u'llah,
related to the writer the following particulars about His
Father's early days: --

From childhood He was extremely kind and generous.
He was a great lover of outdoor life, most of His time being
spent in the garden or the fields. He had an extraordinary
power of attraction, which was felt by all. People
------------------------
1. Pronounced with the accent on the second and fourth syllables, the
first syllable being almost mute and both l's distinctly sounded.
2. 2nd of Muharram, 1233 A.H.
<p24>
always crowded around Him. Ministers and people of the
Court would surround Him, and the children also were
devoted to Him. When He was only thirteen of fourteen
years old He became renowned for His learning. He
would converse on any subject and solve any problem
presented to Him. In large gatherings He would discuss
matters with the Ulama (leading mullas) and would
explain intricate religious questions. All of them used to
listen to Him with the greatest interest.
When Baha'u'llah was twenty-two years old, His father
died, and the Government wished Him to succeed to His
father's position in the Ministry, as was customary in
Persia, but Baha'u'llah did not accept the offer. Then the
Prime Minister said: "Leave him to himself. Such a
position is unworthy of him. He has some higher aim in
view. I cannot understand him, but I am convinced that
he is destined for some lofty career. His thought are not
like ours. Let him alone."


Imprisoned as Babi

When the Bab declared His mission in 1844, Baha'u'llah,
Who was then in His twenty-seventh year, boldly espoused the
Cause of the new Faith, of which He soon became recognized
as one of the most powerful and fearless exponents.
He had already twice suffered imprisonment for the Cause,
and on one occasion had undergone the torture of the bastinado,
when in August 1852, an event occurred fraught with
terrible consequences for the Babis. One of the Bab's followers,
a youth named Sadiq, had been so affected by the martyrdom
of his beloved Master, of which he was an eyewitness, that his
mind became deranged, and, in revenge, he waylaid the Shah
and fired a pistol at him. Instead of using a bullet, however,
he charged his weapon with small shot, and although a few
pellets struck the Shah, no serious harm was done. The youth
dragged the Shah from his horse, but was promptly seized by
the attendants of his Majesty and put to death on the spot.
The whole body of Babis was unjustly held responsible for the
<p25>
deed, and frightful massacres ensued. Eighty of them were
forthwith put to death in Tihran with the most revolting
tortures. Many others were seized and put into prisons,
among them being Baha'u'llah. He afterwards wrote: --

By the righteousness of God! We were in no wise
connected with that evil deed, and Our innocence was indisputably
established by the tribunals. Nevertheless,
they apprehended Us, and from Niyavaran, which was
then the residence of His Majesty, conducted Us, on foot
and in chains, with bared head and bare feet, to the
dungeon of Tihran. A brutal man, accompanying Us on
horseback, snatched off Our hat, whilst We were being
hurried along by a troop of executioners and officials. We
were consigned for four months to a place foul beyond
comparison. As to the dungeon in which this Wronged
One and other similarly wronged were confined, a dark
and narrow pit were preferable. Upon Our arrival We
were first conducted along a pitch-black corridor, from
whence We descended three steep flights of stairs to the
place of confinement assigned to Us. The dungeon was
wrapped in thick darkness, and Our fellow-prisoners numbered
nearly a hundred and fifty souls: thieves, assassins
and highwaymen. Though crowded, it had no other outlet
than the passage by which We entered. No pen can
depict that place, nor any tongue describe its loathsome
smell. Most of these men had neither clothes nor bedding
to lie on. God alone knoweth what befell Us in that most
foul-smelling and gloomy place!
Day and night, while confined in that dungeon, We
meditated upon the deeds, the condition, and the conduct
of the Babis, wondering what could have led a
people so high-minded, so noble, and of such intelligence,
to perpetrate such an audacious and outrageous act
against the person of His Majesty. This Wronged One,
thereupon, decided to arise, after His release from prison,
and undertake, with the utmost vigor, the task of regenerating
this people.
<p26>
On night, in a dream these exalted words were heard
on every side: "Verily, We shall render Thee victorious
by Thyself and by Thy Pen. Grieve Thou not for that
which hath befallen Thee, neither be Thou afraid, for
Thou art in safety. Erelong will God raise up the treasures
of the earth -- men who will aid Thee through Thyself
and through Thy Name, wherewith God hath revived
the hearts of such as have recognized Him." -- Epistle to
the Son of the Wolf, pp. 20-21.


Exile to Baghdad

This terrible imprisonment lasted four months, but Baha'u'llah
and His companions remained zealous and enthusiastic,
in the greatest of happiness. Almost every day one or more of
them was tortured or put to death and the others reminded that
their turn might come next. When the executioners came to
fetch one of the friends, the one whose name was called would
literally dance with joy, kiss the hands of Baha'u'llah, embrace
the rest of his fellow believers and then hasten with glad
eagerness to the place of martyrdom.
It was conclusively proved that Baha'u'llah had no share
in the plot against the Shah, and the Russian Minister testified
to the purity of His character. He was, moreover, so ill that it
was thought He would die. Instead, therefore, of sentencing
Him to death, the Shah ordered that He should be exiled to
Iraq-i-'Arab, in Mesopotamia; and thither, a fortnight later,
Baha'u'llah set out, accompanied by His family and a number
of other believers. They suffered terribly from cold and other
hardships on the long winter journey and arrived in Baghdad
in a state of almost utter destitution.
As soon as His health permitted, Baha'u'llah began to teach
inquirers and to encourage and exhort the believers, and soon
peace and happiness reigned among the Babis.+F1 This, however,
was short-lived. Baha'u'llah's half brother, Mirza Yahya, also
------------------------
1. This was early in the year 1853, or nine years after the Bab's
Declaration, thus fulfilling certain prophecies of the Bab concerning
"the year nine."
<p27>
known as Subh-i-Azal, arrived in Baghdad, and soon afterwards
differences, secretly instigated by him, began to grow,
just as similar divisions had arisen among the disciples of
Christ. These differences (which later, in Adrianople, became
open and violent) were very painful to Baha'u'llah, Whose
whole aim in life was the promotion of unity among the
people of the world.


Two Years in the Wilderness

About a year after coming to Baghdad, He departed alone
into the wilderness of Sulaymaniyyih, taking with Him nothing
but a change of clothes. Regarding this period He write in the
Book of Iqan+F1 as follows: --

In the early days of Our arrival in this land, when
We discerned the signs of impending events, We decided,
wilderness, and there, separated and alone, led for two
years a life of complete solitude. From Our eyes there
rained tears of anguish, and in Our bleeding heart there
surged an ocean of agonizing pain. Many a night We had
no food for sustenance, and many a day Our body found
no rest. by Him Who hath My being between His hands!
nothwithstanding these showers of afflictions and unceasing
calamities, Our soul was wrapt in blissful joy, and Our
whole being evinced an ineffable gladness. For in Our
solitude We were unaware of the harm or benefit, the
health or ailment, of any soul. Alone, We communed with
Our spirit, oblivious of the world and all that is therein.
We knew not, however, that the mesh of divine destiny
exceedeth the vastest of mortal conceptions, and the dart
of His decree transcendeth the boldest of human designs.
None can escape the snares He setteth, and no soul can
find release except through submission to His will. By the
righteousness of God! Our withdrawal contemplated no
<p28>
return, and Our separation hoped for no reunion. The one
object of Our retirement was to avoid becoming a subject
of discord among the faithful, a source of disturbance
unto Our companions, the means of injury to any soul,
or the cause of sorrow to any heart. Beyond these, We
cherished no other intention, and apart from them, We
had no end in view. And yet, each person schemed after
his own desire, and pursued his own idle fancy, until the
hour when, from the Mystic Source, there came the summons
bidding Us return whence We came. Surrendering
Our will to His, We submitted to His injunction.
What pen can recount the things We beheld upon Our
return! Two years have elapsed during which Our
enemies have ceaselessly and assiduously contrived to
exterminate Us, whereunto all witness. -- Kitab-i-Iqan,
pp. 250-252.


Opposition of Mullas

After His return from this retirement, His fame became
greater than ever and people flocked to Bahdad from far and
near to see Him and hear His teachings. Jews, Christians and
Zoroastrians, as well as Muhammadans, became interested in
the new message. The Mullas (Muhammadan doctors), however,
took up a hostile attitude and persistently plotted to effect
His overthrow. On a certain occasion they sent one of their
number to interview Him and submit to Him certain questions.
The envoy found the answers of Baha'u'llah so convincing and
His wisdom so amazing, although evidently not acquired by
study, that he was obliged to confess that in knowledge and
understanding Baha'u'llah was peerless. In order, however,
that the Mullas who had sent him should be satisfied as to the
reality of Baha'u'llah's Prophethood, he asked that some miracle
should be produced as proof. Baha'u'llah expressed His
willingness to accept the suggestion on certain conditions,
declaring that if the Mullas would agree regarding some
miracle to be performed, and would sign and seal a document
to the effect that on performance of this miracle they would
confess the validity of His mission and cease to oppose Him,
<p29>
He would furnish the desired proof or else stand convicted of
imposture. Had the aim of the Mullas been to get at the truth,
surely here was their opportunity; but their intention was far
otherwise. Rightly or wrongly, they meant to secure a decision
in their own favor. They feared the truth and fled from the
daring challenge. This discomfiture, however, only spurred
them on to devise fresh plots for the eradication of the oppressed
sect. The Consul General of Persia in Baghdad came
to their assistance and sent repeated messages to the Shah to
the effect that Baha'u'llah was injuring the Muhammadan religion
more than ever, still exerting a malign influence on
Persia, and that He ought therefore to be banished to some
more distant place.
It was characteristic of Baha'u'llah that, at this crisis,
when at the instigation of the Muhammadan Mullas the Persian
and Turkish Governments were combining their efforts to
eradicate the Movement, He remained calm and serene, encouraging
and inspiring His followers and writing imperishable
words of consolation and guidance. Abdu'l-Baha relates how
the Hidden Words were written at this time. Baha'u'llah would
often go for a walk along the bank of the Tigris. He would
come back looking very happy and write down those lyric
gems of wise counsel which have brought help and healing to
thousands of aching and troubled hearts. For years, only a
few manuscript copies of the Hidden Words were in existence,
and these had to be carefully concealed lest they should fall
into the hands of the enemies that abounded, but now this
little volume is probably the best known of all Baha'u'llah's
works, and is read in every quarter of the globe. The Book of
Iqan is another well-known work of Baha'u'llah's written about
the same period, towards the end of His sojourn at Baghdad
(1862-1863 A.D.)


Declaration at Ridvan+F1 near Bahdad

After much negotiation, at the request of the Persian
Government, an order was issued by the Turkish Government
------------------------
1. Pronounced Rizwan.
<p30>
summoning Baha'u'llah to Constantinople. On receipt of this
new His followers were in consternation. They besieged the
house of their beloved Leader to such an extent that the family
encamped in the Garden of Najib Pasha outside the town for
twelve days, while the caravan was being prepared for the long
journey. It was during these twelve days (April 22 to May 3,
1863, i.e. nineteen years after the Bab's Declaration) that
Baha'u'llah announced to several of His followers the glad
tidings that He was the One Whose coming had been foretold
by the Bab -- the Chosen of God, the Promised One of all the
Prophets. The Garden where this memorable Declaration took
place has become known to Baha'is as the "Garden of Ridvan,"
and the days Baha'u'llah spent there are commemorated in the
"Feast of Ridvan," which is held annually on the anniversary
of those twelve days. During those days Baha'u'llah, instead
of being sad or depressed, showed the greatest joy, dignity and
power. His followers became happy and enthusiastic, and great
crowds came to pay their respects to Him. All the notables of
Baghdad, even the Governor himself, came to honor the departing
prisoner.


Constantinople and Adrianople

The journey to Constantinople lasted between three and
four months, the party consisting of Baha'u'llah with members
of His family and twenty-six disciples. Arrived in Constantinople
they found themselves prisoners in a small house in
which they were very much overcrowded. Later they got somewhat
better quarters, but after four months they were again
moved on, this time to Adrianople. The journey to Adrianople,
although it lasted but a few days, was the most terrible they had
yet undertaken. Snow fell heavily most of the time, and as they
were destitute of proper clothing and food, their sufferings were
extreme. For the first winter in Adrianople, Baha'u'llah and
His family, numbering twelve persons, were accommodated
in a small house of three rooms, comfortless and vermin
infested. In the spring they were given a more comfortable
abode. They remained in Adrianople over four and a half
years. Here Baha'u'llah resumed His teaching and gathered
<p31>
about Him a large following. He publicly announced His
mission and was enthusiastically accepted by the majority of
the Babis, who were known thereafter as Baha'is. A minority,
however, under the leadership of Baha'u'llah's half brother,
Mirza Yahya, become violently opposed to Him and joined
with their former enemies, the Shi'ihs, in plotting for His overthrow.
Great troubles ensued, and at last the Turkish Government
banished both Babis and Baha'is from Adrianople, exiling
Baha'u'llah and His followers to Akka, in Palestine, where
they arrived (according to Nabil)+F1 on August 31, 1868, while
Mirza Yahya and his party were sent to Cyprus.


Letters to Kings

About this time Baha'u'llah wrote His famous letter to the
Sultan of Turkey, many of the crowned heads of Europe, the
Pope, and the Shah of Persia. Later, in His Kitab-i-Aqdas+F2 He
addressed other sovereigns, the rulers and Presidents of
America, the leaders of religion in general and the generality
of mankind. To all, He announced His mission and called upon
them to bend their energies to the establishment of true religion,
just government and international peace. In His letter
to the Shah He powerfully pleaded the cause of the oppressed
Babs and asked to be brought face to face with those who had
instigated their persecution. Needless to say, this request was
not complied with; Badi', the young and devoted Baha'i who
delivered the letter of Baha'u'llah, was seized and martyred
with fearful tortures, hot bricks being pressed on his flesh!
In the same letter Baha'u'llah gives a most moving account
of His own sufferings and longings: --

O King, I have seen in the way of God what no eye hath
seen and no ear hath heard. Friends have disclaimed me;
------------------------
1. Author of an early history of the Faith, The Dawn-Breakers, Nabil was
a participant in some of the scenes he describes and was personally
acquainted with many of the early believers.
2. The Aqdas, Kitab-i-Aqdas, The Book of Aqdas, and The Most Holy Book all
refer to the same book.
<p32>
ways are straitened unto me; the pool of safety is dried
up; the plain of ease is [scorched] yellow. How many
calamities have descended, and how many will descend!
I walk advancing toward the Mighty, the Bounteous,
while behind me glides the serpent. My eyes rain down
tears until my bed is drenched; but my sorrow is not for
myself. By God, my head longeth for the spears for the
love of its Lord, and I never pass by a tree but my heart
addresseth it [saying], "O would that thou wert cut down
in my name and my body were crucified upon thee in
the way of my Lord;" yea, because I see mankind going
astray in their intoxication, and they know it not: they
have exalted their lusts, and put aside their God, as though
they took the command of God for a mockery, a sport,
and a plaything; and they think that they do well, and
that they are harboured in the citadel of security. The
matter is not as they suppose: to-morrow they shall see
what they [now] deny.
We are about to shift from this most remote place of
banishment [Adrianople] unto the prison of Acre. And,
according to what they say, it is assuredly 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; there is not heard from its regions aught save the
sound of its hooting. And in it they intend to imprison the
servant, and to shut in our faces the doors of leniency
and take away from us the good things of the life of the
world during what remaineth of our days. By God,
though weariness should weaken me, and hunger should
destroy me, though my couch should be made of the
hard rock and my associates of the beasts of the desert, I
will not blench, but will be patient, as the resolute and
determined are patient, in the strength of God, the King
of Pre-existence, the Creator of the nations; and under
all circumstances I give thanks unto God. And we hope
of His graciousness (exalted is He) ... that He will
render [all men's] faces sincere toward Him, the Mighty,
<p33>
the Bounteous. Verily He answereth him who prayeth
unto Him, and is near unto him who calleth on Him. And
we ask Him to make this dark calamity a buckler for
the body of His saints, and to protect them thereby from
sharp swords and piercing blades. Through affliction
hath His light shone and His praise been bright unceasingly:
this hath been His method through past ages and
bygone times. A Traveller's Narrative (Episode of the
Bab), pp. 145-147.


Imprisonment in Akka

At that time Akka (Acre) was a prison city to which
the worst criminals were sent from all parts of the Turkish
Empire. On arriving there, after a miserable sea journey,
Baha'u'llah and His followers, about eighty to eighty-four in
number, including men, women and children, were imprisoned
in the army barracks. The place was dirty and cheerless in the
extreme. There were no beds or comforts of any sort. The food
supplied was wretched and inadequate, so much so that after
a time the prisoners begged to be allowed to buy their food
for themselves. During the first few days the children were
crying continually, and sleep was almost impossible. Malaria,
dysentery and other diseases soon broke out, and everyone in
the company fell sick, with the exception of two. Three succumbed
to their sickness, and the sufferings of the survivors
were indescribable.+F1
This rigorous imprisonment lasted for over two years,
during which time none of the Baha'is were allowed outside
the prison door, except four men, carefully guarded, who went
out daily to buy food.
During the imprisonment in the barracks, visitors were
rigidly excluded. Several of the Baha'is of Persia came all the
way on foot for the purpose of seeing their beloved leader, but
------------------------
1. In order to bury two of those who died, Baha'u'llah gave His own
carpet to be sold for the expenses of their burial, but instead of
using this money for that purpose the soldiers appropriate it, and thrust
the bodies into a hole in the ground.
<p34>
were refused admittance within the city walls. They used to
got to a place on the plain outside the third moat, from which
they could see the windows of Baha'u'llah's quarters. He would
show Himself to them at one of the windows and after gazing on
Him from afar, they would weep and return to their homes, fired
with new zeal for sacrifice and service.


Restrictions Relaxed

At last the imprisonment was mitigated. A mobilization of
Turkish troops occurred and the barracks were required for
soldiers. Baha'u'llah His family were transferred to a
house by themselves and the rest of the party were accommodated
in a caravanserai in the town. Baha'u'llah was confined
for seven more years in this house. In a small room near that
in which He was imprisoned, thirteen of His household, including
both sexes, had to accommodate themselves as best they
could! In the earlier part of their stay in this house they suffered
greatly from insufficiency of accommodation, inadequate
food supply and lack of the ordinary conveniences of life.
After a time, however, a few additional rooms were placed at
their disposal and they were able to live in comparative comfort.
From the time Baha'u'llah and His companions left the
barracks, visitors were allowed to see them, and gradually
the severe restrictions imposed by the Imperial firmans were
more and more left in abeyance, although now and then reimposed
for a time.


Prison Gates Opened

Even when the imprisonment was at its worst, the Baha'is
were not dismayed, and their serene confidence was never
shaken. While in the barracks at Akka, Baha'u'llah wrote to
some friends, "Fear not. These doors shall be opened. My tent
shall be pitched on Mount Carmel, and the utmost joy shall be
realized." This declaration was a great source of consolation
to His followers, and in due course it was literally fulfilled. The
story of how the prison doors were opened had best be told
<p35>
in the words of Abdu'l-Baha, as translated by His grandson,
Shoghi Effendi: --

Baha'u'llah 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 successful.
There was in Akka at that time a man called Muhammad
Pasha Safwat, who was very much opposed to us. He had
a palace called Mazra'ih, about four miles north of the
city, a lovely place, surrounded by gardens and with a
stream of running water. I went and called on this
Pasha at his home. I said: "Pasha, you have left the palace
empty, and are living in Akka." He replied: "I am an
invalid and cannot leave the city. If I go there it is lonely
and I am cut off from my friends." I said: "While you are
not living there and the place is empty, let it to us." He
was amazed at the proposal, but soon consented. I got
the house at a very low rent, about five pounds per annum,
paid him for five years and made a contract. I sent
laborers to repair the place and put the garden in order
and had a bath built. I also had a carriage prepared for
the use of the Blessed Beauty.+F1 One day I determined to
go and see the place for myself. Notwithstanding the repeated
injunctions given in successive firmans that we
were on no account to pass the limits of the city walls, I
walked out through the City Gate. Gendarmes were on
guard, but they made no objection, so I proceeded
straight to the palace. The next day I again went out, with
some friends and officials, unmolested and unopposed,
although the guards and sentinels stood on both sides of
the city gates. Another day I arranged a banquet, spread
a table under the pine trees of Bahji, and gathered round
------------------------
1. Jamal-i-Mubarak (lit. Blessed Beauty) was a title frequently applied to
Baha'u'llah by His followers and friends.
<p36>
it the notables and officials of the town. In the evening
we all returned to the town together.
One day I went to the Holy Presence of the Blessed
Beauty and said: "the palace at Mazra'ih is ready for
You, and a carriage to drive You there." (At that time
there were no carriages in Akka or Haifa.) He refused to
go, saying: "I am a prisoner." Later I requested Him
again, but got the same answer. I went so far as to ask
Him a third time, but He still said "No!" and I did not
dare to insist further. There was, however, in Akka a
certain Muhammadan Shaykh, a well-known man with
considerable influence, who loved Baha'u'llah and was
greatly favored by Him. I called this Shaykh and explained
the position to him. I said, "You are daring. Go
tonight to His Holy Presence, fall on your knees before
Him, take hold of His hands and do not let go until He
promises to leave the city!" He was an Arab. ... He
went directly to Baha'u'llah and sat down close to His
knees. He took hold of the hands of the Blessed Beauty
and kissed them and asked: "Why do you not leave the
city?" He said: "I am a prisoner." The haykh replied:
"God forbid! Who has the power to make you a prisoner?
You have kept yourself in prison. It was your own will to
be imprisoned, and now I beg you to come out and go to
the palace. It is beautiful and verdant. The trees are lovely,
and the oranges like balls of fire!" As often as the Blessed
Beauty said: "I am a prisoner, it cannot be," the Shaykh
took His hands and kissed them. For a whole hour he kept
on pleading. At last Baha'u'llah said, "Khayli khub (very
good)" and the Shaykh's patience and persistence were
rewarded. He came to me with great joy to give the glad
news of His Holiness's consent. In spite of the strict firman
of Abdu'l-'Aziz which prohibited my meeting or
having any intercourse with the Blessed Perfection, I took
the carriage the next day and drove with Him to the palace.
No one made any objection. I left Him there and returned
myself to the city.
For two years He remained in that charming and
<p37>
lovely spot. Then it was decided to remove to another
place, at Bahji. It so happened than an epidemic disease
had broken out at Bahji, and the proprietor of the house
fled away in distress, with all his family, ready to offer the
house free of charge to any applicant. We took the house
at a very low rent, and there the doors of majesty and true
sovereignty were flung wide open. Baha'u'llah was
nominally a prisoner (for the drastic firmans of Sultan
`Abdu'l-'Aziz were never repealed), yet in reality He
showed forth such nobility and dignity in His life and
bearing that He was reverenced by all, and the Rulers of
Palestine envied His influence and power. Governors and
Mutasarrifs, generals and local officials, would humbly
request the honor of attaining His presence -- a request to
which He seldom acceded.
On one occasion a Governor of the city implored this
favor on the ground of his being ordered by higher authorities
to visit, with a certain general, the Blessed Perfection.
The request being granted, the general, who was
a very corpulent individual, a European, was so impressed
by the majestic presence of Baha'u'llah that he remained
kneeling on the ground near the door. Such was
the diffidence of both visitors that it was only after repeated
invitations from Baha'u'llah that they were induced
to smoke the narguileh (hubble-bubble pipe) offered
to them. Even then they only touched it with their
lips, and then, putting it aside, folded their arms and sat
in an attitude of such humility and respect as to astonish
all those who were present.
The loving reverence of friends, the consideration and
respect that were shown by all officials and notables, the
inflow of pilgrims and seekers after truth, the spirit of
devotion and service that was manifest all around, the
majestic and kingly countenance of the Blessed Perfection,
the effectiveness of His command, the number of
His zealous devotees-all bore witness to the fact that
Baha'u'llah was in reality no prisoner, but a King of
Kings. Two despotic sovereigns were against Him, two
<p38>
powerful autocratic rulers, yet, even when confined in
their own prisons, He addressed them in very austere
terms, like a king addressing his subjects. Afterwards, in
spite of severe firmans, He lived at Bahji like a prince.
Often He would say: "Verily, verily, the most wretched
prison has been converted into a Paradise of Eden."
Surely, such a thing has not been witnessed since the
creation of the world.


Life at Bahji

Having in His earlier years of hardship shown how to glorify
God in a state of poverty and ignominy, Baha'u'llah in His
later years at Bahji showed how to glorify God in a state of
honor and affluence. The offering of hundreds of thousands
of devoted followers placed at His disposal large funds which
He was called upon to administer. Although His life at Bahji
has been described as truly regal, in the highest sense of the
word, yet it must not be imagined that it was characterized by
material splendor or extravagance. The Blessed Perfection and
His family lived in very simple and modest fashion, and expenditure
on selfish luxury was a thing unknown in that household.
Near His home the believers prepared a beautiful garden
called Ridvan, in which He often spent many consecutive days
or even weeks, sleeping at night in a little cottage in the garden.
Occasionally He went further afield. He made several visits
to Akka and Haifa, and on more than one occasion pitched
His tent on Mount Carmel, as He had predicted when imprisoned
in the barracks at Akka. The time of Baha'u'llah was
spent for the most part in prayer and meditation, in writing
the Sacred Books, revealing Tablets, and in spiritual education
of the friends. In order to give Him entire freedom for
this great work, Abdu'l-Baha undertook the arrangement of
all other affairs, even meeting the Mullas, poets, and members
of the Government. All of these were delighted and happy
through meeting Abdu'l-Baha, and entirely satisfied with His
explanation and talks, and although they had not met Baha'u'llah
Himself, they became full of friendly feeling towards Him,
<p39>
through their acquaintanceship with His son, for Abdu'l-Baha's
attitude caused them to understand the station of His father.
The distinguished orientalist, the late Professor Edward G.
Browne, of the University of Cambridge, visited Baha'u'llah at
Bahji in the year 1890, and recorded his impressions as follows: --

... my conductor paused for a moment while I removed
my shoes. Then, with a quick movement of the hand, he
withdrew, and, as I passed, replaced the curtain; and I
found myself in a large apartment, along the upper end of
which ran a low divan, while on the side opposite to the
door were placed two or three chairs. Though I dimly
suspected whither I was going and whom I was to behold
(for no distinct intimation had been given to me),
a second or two elapsed ere, with a throb of wonder and
awe, I became definitely conscious that the room was not
untenanted. In the corner where the divan met the wall
sat a wondrous and venerable figure, crowned with a felt
head-dress of the kind called 1taj1 by dervishes (but of unusual
height and make), round the base of which was
wound a small white turban. The face of him on whom I
gazed I can never forget, though I cannot describe it.
Those piercing eyes seemed to read one's very soul;
power and authority sat on that ample brow; while the
deep lines on the forehead and face implied an age which
the jet-black hair and beard flowing down in indistinguishable
luxuriance almost to the waist seemed to belie.
No need to ask in whose presence I stood, as I bowed
myself before one who is the object of a devotion and
love which kings might envy and emperors sigh for in
vain!
A mild dignified voice bade me be seated, and then
continued: -- "Praise be to God that thou has attained!
... Thou has come to see a prisoner and an exile. ...
We desire but the good of the world and happiness of
the nations; yet they deem us a stirrer up of strife and sedition
<p40>
worthy of bondage and banishment. ... That all
nations should become one in faith and all men as brothers;
that the bonds of affection and unity between the
sons of men should be strengthened; that diversity of religion
should cease, and differences of race be annulled --
what harm is there in this? ... Yet so it shall be; these
fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars shall pass away, and
the `Most Great Peace' shall come. ... Do not you in
Europe need this also? Is not this that which Christ foretold?
... Yet do we see your kings and rulers lavishing
their treasures more freely on means for the destruction
of the human race than on that which would conduce to
the happiness of mankind. ... These strifes and this
bloodshed and discord must cease, and all men be as one
kindred and one family. ... Let not a man glory in this,
that he loves his country; let him rather glory in this, that
he loves his kind. ..."
Such, so far as I can recall them, were the words
which, besides many others, I heard from Beha. Let those
who read them consider well with themselves whether
such doctrines merit death and bonds, and whether the
world is more likely gain or lose by their diffusion. --
Introduction to A Traveller's Narrative (Episode of the
Bab), pp. xxxix-xl.


Ascension

Thus simply and serenely did Baha'u'llah pass the evening
of His life on earth until, after an attack of fever, He passed
away on the 29th of May, 1892, at the age of seventy-five.
Among the last Tablets He revealed was His Will and Testament,
which He wrote with His own hand and duly signed
and sealed. Nine days after His death the seals were broken by
His eldest son, in the presence of members of the family and a
few friends, and the contents of the short but remarkable document
were made known. By this will Abdu'l-Baha was constituted
His father's representative and the expounder of His
teachings, and the family and relatives of Baha'u'llah and all
<p41>
believers were instructed to turn to Him and obey Him. By
this arrangement sectarianism and division were provided
against and the unity of the Cause assured.


Prophethood of Baha'u'llah

It is important to have clear ideas of Baha'u'llah's Prophethood.
His utterances, like those of other divine "Manifestations,"
may be divided into two classes, in one of which He
writes or speaks simply as a man who has been charged by
God with a message to His fellows, while in the other class the
words purport to be the direct utterance of God Himself.
He writes in the Book of Iqan: --

We have already in the foregoing pages assigned two
stations unto each of the Luminaries arising from the
Daysprings of eternal holiness. One of these stations, the
station of essential unity, We have already explained. "No
distinction do We make between any of them." [Qur'an
2:136] The other is the station of distinction, and pertaineth
to the world of creation and to be the limitations
thereof. In this respect, each Manifestation of God hath a
distinct individuality, a definitely prescribed mission, a
predestined Revelation, and specially designated limitations.
Each one of them is known by a different name, is
characterized by a special attribute, fulfils a definite Mission,
and is entrusted with a particular Revelation. Even
as He saith: "Some of the Apostles We have caused to
excel the others. To some God hath spoken, some He hath
raise and exalted. And to Jesus, Son of Mary, We gave
manifest signs, and We strengthen Him with the Holy
Spirit." [Qur'an 2:253] ...
Thus, viewed from the standpoint of their oneness and
sublime detachment, the attributes of Godhead, Divinity,
Supreme Singleness, and Inmost Essence, have been and
are applicable to those Essences of being, inasmuch as
they all abide on the throne of divine Revelation, and
are established upon the seat of divine Concealment.
<p42>
Through their appearance the Revelation of God is
made manifest, and by their countenance the Beauty of
God is revealed. Thus it is that the accents of God Himself
have been heard uttered by these Manifestations of
the divine Being.
Viewed in the light of their second station -- the station
of distinction, differentiation, temporal limitations,
characteristics and standards, -- they manifest absolute
servitude, utter destitution and complete self-effacement.
Even as He saith: "I am the servant of God. I am but a
man like you." ...
Were any of the all-embracing Manifestations of God
to declare: "I am God!" He verily speaketh the truth, and
no doubt attacheth thereto. For it hath been repeatedly
demonstrated that through their Revelation, their attributes
and names, the Revelation of God, His name and
His attributes, are made manifest in the world. Thus, He
hath revealed: "Those shafts were God's, not Thine!"
[Qur'an 8:17] And also He saith: "In truth, they who
plighted fealty unto thee, really plighted that fealty unto
God." [Qur'an 48:10] And were any of them to voice
the utterance: "I am the Messenger of God," He also
speaketh the truth, the indubitable truth. Even as He
saith: "Muhammad is not the father of any man among
you, but He is the Messenger of God." Viewed in this
light, they are all but Messengers of that ideal King, that
unchangeable Essence. And were they all to proclaim: "I
am the Seal of Prophets," they verily utter but the
truth, beyond the faintest shadow of doubt. For they are
all but one person, one soul, one spirit, one being, one
revelation. They are all the manifestation of the "Beginning"
and the "End," the "First" and the "Last," the
"Seen" and "Hidden" -- all of which pertain to Him Who
is the innermost Spirit of Spirits and eternal Essence of
Essences. And were they to say: "We are the servants of
God," [Qur'an 33:40] this also is a manifest and indisputable
fact. For they have been made manifest in the
uttermost state of servitude, a servitude the like of which
<p43>
no man can possibly attain. 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. Were the eye of discernment to
be opened, it would recognize that in this very state, they
have considered themselves utterly effaced and non-existent
in the face of Him Whom is the All-Pervading, the
incorruptible. Methinks, they have regarded themselves
as utter nothingness, and deemed their mention in that
Court an act of blasphemy. For the slightest whisperings
of self, within such a Court, is an evidence of self-assertion
and independent existence. In the eyes of them that
have attained unto that Court, such a suggestion is itself
a grievous transgression. How much more grievous would
it be, were aught else to be mentioned in that Presence,
were man's heart, his tongue, his mind, or his soul, to be
busied with anyone but the Well-Beloved, were his eyes
to behold any countenance other than His beauty, were
his ear to be inclined to any melody but His voice, and
were his feet to tread any way but His way.
In this day the breeze of God is wafted, and His Spirit
hath pervaded all things. Such is the outpouring of His
grace that the pen is stilled and the tongue is speechless.
By virtue of this station, they have claimed for themselves
the Voice of Divinity and the like, whilst by virtue
of their station of Messengership, they have declared
themselves the Messengers of God. In every instance
they have voiced an utterance that would conform to the
requirements of the occasion, and have ascribed all these
declarations to Themselves, declarations ranging from
the divine Revelation to the realm of creation,
and from the domain of Divinity even unto the domain of
earthly existence. Thus it is that whatsoever be their utterance,
whether it pertain to the realm of Divinity, Lordship,
Prophethood, Messengership, Guardianship, Apostelship
or Servitude, all is true, beyond the shadow of a
<p44>
doubt. Therefore, these sayings which We have quoted in
support of Our argument must be attentively considered,
that the divergent utterances of the Manifestations of the
Unseen and Daysprings of Holiness may cease to agitate
the soul and perplex the mind. -- Kitab-i-Iqan, 176-181.

When Baha'u'llah speaks as a man, the station He claims for
Himself is that of utter humility, of "annihilation in God."
What distinguishes the Manifestation, in His human personality,
from other men is the completeness of His self-abnegation
as well as the perfection of His powers. Under all circumstances
He is able to say, as did Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane,
"nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done." Thus
in His epistle to the Shah, Baha'u'llah says: --

O king! I was but a man like others, asleep upon My
couch, when lo, the breezes of the All-Glorious were
wafted over Me, and taught Me the knowledge of all that
hath been. This thing is not from Me, but from One Who
is Almighty and All-Knowing. And He bade Me lift up
My voice between earth and heaven, and for this there
befell Me what hath caused the tears of every man of understanding
to flow. The learning current amongst men I
studied not; their schools I entered not. ... This is but a
leaf which the winds of the will of thy Lord, the Almighty,
the All-Praised have stirred. Can it be still when
the tempestuous winds are blowing? Nay, by Him Who is
the Lord of all Names and Attributes! They move it as
they list. The evanescent is as nothing before Him Who is
the Ever-Abiding. His all-compelling summons hath
reached Me, and caused Me to speak His praise amidst
all people. I was indeed as one dead when His behest was
uttered. The hand of the will of thy Lord, the Compassionate,
the Merciful, transformed Me. Can any one
speak forth of his own accord that for which all men,
both high and low, will protest against him? Nay, by Him
Who taught the Pen the eternal mysteries, save him whom
the grace of the Almighty, the All-Powerful, hath
<p45>
strengthened. -- Lawh-i-Sultan (Tablet to the King of Persia),
as quoted in The Promised Day Is Come, pp. 40-41.

As Jesus washed His disciples' feet, so Baha'u'llah used
sometimes to cook food and perform other lowly offices for
His followers. He was a servant of the servants, and gloried
only in servitude, content to sleep on a bare floor if need be,
to live on bread and water, or even, at times, on what He called
"the divine nourishment, that is to say, hunger!" His perfect
humility was seen in His profound reverence for nature, for
human nature, and especially for the saints, prophets and
martyrs. To Him, all things spoke of God, from the meanest to
the greatest.
His human personality had been chosen by God to become
the Divine Mouthpiece and Pen. It was not of His own will that
He had assumed this position of unparalleled difficulty and
hardship. As Jesus said: "Father, if it be possible, let this cup
pass from me," so Baha'u'llah said: "Had another exponent or
speaker been found, We would not have made Ourself an object
of censure, derision and calumnies on the part of the people"
(Tablet of Ishraqat). But the divine call was clear and
imperative and He obeyed. God's will became His will, and
God's pleasure, His pleasure; and with "radiant acquiescence"
He declared: -- "Verily I say: Whatever befalleth in the path
of God is the beloved of the soul and the desire of the heart.
Deadly poison in His path is pure honey, and every tribulation
a draught of crystal water." -- Epistle to the Son of the Wolf,
p. 17.
At other times, as we have mentioned, Baha'u'llah speaks
"from the station of Deity." In these utterances His human
personality is so completely subservient that it is left out of
account altogether. Through Him God addresses His creatures
proclaiming His love for them, teaching them His attributes,
making known His will, announcing His laws for
their guidance and pleading for their love, their allegiance
and service.
In the Writings of Baha'u'llah, the utterance frequently
changes from one of these forms to another. Sometimes it is
<p46>
evidently the man who is discoursing, then without a break the
writing continues as if God were speaking in the first person.
Even when speaking as a man, however, Baha'u'llah speaks as
God's messenger, as a living example of entire devotion to
God's will. His whole life is actuated by the Holy Spirit. Hence
no hard and fast line can be drawn between the human and divine
elements in His life or teachings. God tells Him: --

Say: "Naught is seen in my temple but the Temple of
God, and in my beauty but His Beauty, and in my being
but His Being, and in myself but Himself, and in my
movement but His Movement, and in my acquiescence
but His Acquiescence, and in my pen but His Pen, the
Precious, the Extolled."
Say: "There hath not been in my soul but the Truth,
and in myself naught could be seen but God." -- Suratu'l-Haykal.


His Mission

Baha'u'llah's mission in the world is to bring about Unity --
Unity of all mankind in and through God. He says: -- "Of the
Tree of Knowledge the All-glorious fruit is this exalted word:
Of one Tree are all ye the fruits and of one Bough the leaves.
Let not man glory in this that he loves his country, but let him
rather glory in this that he loves his kind."
Previous Prophets have heralded an age of peace on earth,
goodwill among men, and have given Their lives to hasten its
advent, but each and all of Them have plainly declared that
this blessed consummation would be reached only after the
"Coming of the Lord" in the latter days, when the wicked
would be judged and righteous rewarded.
Zoroaster foretold three thousand years of conflict before
the advent of Shah Bahram, the world-savior, Who would
overcome Ahrman the spirit of evil, and establish a reign of
righteousness and peace.
Moses foretold a long period of exile, persecution and oppression
for the children of Israel, before the Lord of Hosts
<p47>
would appear to gather them from all the nations, to destroy
the oppressors and establish His Kingdom upon earth.
Christ said: "Think not that I am come to send peace on
earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword" (Matt. x, 34),
and He predicted a period of wars and rumors of wars, of tribulations
and afflictions that would continue till the coming of
the Son of Man "in the glory of the Father."
Muhammad declared that, because of their wrongdoings,
Allah had put enmity and hatred among both Jews and Christians
that would last until the Day of Resurrection, when He
would appear to judge them all.
Baha'u'llah, on the other hand, announces that He is the
Promised One of all these Prophets -- the Divine Manifestation
in Whose era the reign of peace will actually be established.
This statement is unprecedented and unique, yet it fits in wonderfully
with the signs of the times, and with the prophecies of
all the great Prophets. Baha'u'llah revealed with incomparable
clearness and comprehensiveness the means for bringing about
peace and unity amongst mankind.
It is true that, since the advent of Baha'u'llah, there have
been, until now, war and destruction on an unprecedented
scale, but this is just what all the prophets have said would
happen at the dawn of the "great and terrible Day of the
Lord," and is, therefore, but a confirmation of the view that
the "Coming of the Lord" is not only at hand, but is already an
accomplished fact. According to the parable of Christ, the
Lord of the Vineyard must miserably destroy the wicked husbandmen
before He gives the Vineyard to others who will render
Him the fruits in their seasons. Does not this mean that at
the coming of the Lord dire destruction awaits those despotic
governments, avaricious and intolerant priests, mullas, or tyrannical
leaders who through the centuries have, like wicked
husbandmen, misruled the earth and misappropriated its
fruits?
There may be terrible events, and unparalleled calamities
yet awhile on the earth, but Baha'u'llah assures us that erelong,
these fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars shall pass away,
and the `Most Great Peace' shall come." War and strife have become
<p48>
so intolerable in their destructiveness that mankind must
find deliverance from them or perish.
"The fullness of time" has come and with it the Promised
Deliverer!


His Writings

The Writings of Baha'u'llah are most comprehensive in their
range, dealing with every phase of human life, individual and
social, with things material and things spiritual, with the interpretation
of ancient and modern scriptures, and with prophetic
anticipations of both the near and distant future.
The range and accuracy of His knowledge was amazing. He
could quote and expound the Scriptures of the various religions
with which He correspondents or questions were familiar, in
convincing the authoritative manner, although apparently He
had never had the ordinary means of access to many of the
books referred to. He declares, in Epistle to the Son of the
Wolf, that He had never read the Bayan, although in His own
Writings He shows the most perfect knowledge and understanding
of the Bab's Revelation. (The Bab, as we have seen,
declared that His Revelation, the Bayan, was inspired by and
emanated from "Him Whom God shall make Manifest"!) With
the single exception of a visit from Professor Edward Granville
Browne, to whom in the year 1890 He accorded four interviews,
each lasting twenty to thirty minutes, He had no opportunities
of intercourse with enlightened Western thinkers, yet
His Writings show a complete grasp of the social, political and
religious problems of the Western World, and even His enemies
had to admit that His wisdom and knowledge were incomparable.
The well-known circumstances of His long imprisonment
render it impossible to doubt that the wealth of knowledge
shown in His Writings must have been acquired from some
spiritual source, quite independent of the usual means of study
or instruction and the help of books or teachers.+F1
------------------------
1. When asked whether Baha'u'llah had made a special study of Western
writings and founded His teachings in accordance with them Abdu'l-Baha
said that the books of Baha'u'llah, written and printed as long ago as
the 1870's, contained the ideals now so familiar to the West, although
at that time these ideas had not been printed or thought of in the West.
<p49>
Sometimes He wrote in modern Persian, the ordinary language
of His fellow countrymen, which is largely admixed with
Arabic. At other times, as when addressing learned Zoroastrians,
He wrote in the purest classical Persian. He also wrote
with equal fluency in Arabic, sometimes in very simple language,
sometimes in classical style somewhat similar to that of
the Qur'an. His perfect mastery of these different languages
and styles was remarkable because of His entire lack of literary
education.
In some of His Writings the way of holiness is pointed out in
such simple terms that "the wayfaring men, though fools, shall
not err therein" (Isaiah xxv, 8). In others there is a wealth
of poetic imagery, profound philosophy and allusions to Muhammadan,
Zoroastrian and other scriptures, or to Persian
and Arabic literature and legends, such as only the poet, the
philosopher or the scholar can adequately appreciate. Still
others deal with advanced stages of the spiritual life and are to
be understood only by those who have already passed through
the earlier stages. His works are like a bountiful table provided
with foods and delicacies suited to the needs and tastes of all
who are genuine truth seekers.
It is because of this that His Cause had effect among the
learned and culture, spiritual poets and well-known writers.
Even some of the leaders of the Sufis and of other sets, and
some of the political ministers who were writers, were attracted
by His words, for they exceeded those of all other writers
in sweetness and depth of spiritual meaning.


The Baha'i Spirit

From His place of confinement in distant Akka, Baha'u'llah
stirred His native land of Persia to its depths; and not only
Persia; He stirred and is stirring the world. The spirit that animated
Him and His followers was unfailingly gentle, courteous
and patient, yet it was a force of astonishing vitality and
transcendent power. It achieved the seemingly impossible. It
changed human nature. Men who yielded to its influence became
new creatures. They were filled with a love, a faith, and
enthusiasm, compared with which earthly joys and sorrows
<p50>
were but as dust in the balance. They were ready to face lifelong
suffering or violent death with perfect equanimity, nay,
with radiant joy, in the strength of fearless dependence on
God.
Most wonderful of all, their hearts were so brimming over
with the joy of a new life as to leave no room for thoughts of
bitterness or vindictiveness against their oppressors. They entirely
abandoned the use of violence in self-defense, and instead
of bemoaning their fate, they considered themselves the
most fortunate of men in being privileged to receive this new
and glorious Revelation and to spend their lives or shed their
blood testifying to its truth. Well might their hearts sing
with joy, for they believed that God, the Supreme, the Eternal,
the Beloved, had spoken to them through human lips, had
called them to be His servants and friends, had come to establish His Kingdom
upon earth and to bring the priceless boon of
Peace to a warworn, strife-stricken world.
Such was the faith inspired by Baha'u'llah. He announced
His own mission, as the Bab had foretold that He would, and,
thanks to the devoted labors of His great Forerunner, there
were thousands ready to acclaim His Advent -- thousands who
had shaken off superstitions and prejudices, and were waiting
with pure hearts and open minds for the Manifestation of
God's Promised Glory. Poverty and chains, sordid circumstances
and outward ignominy could not hide from them the
Spiritual Glory of their Lord -- nay, these dark earthly surroundings
only served to enhance the brilliance of His real
Splendor.
<p51>
Abdu'l-Baha: The Servant of Baha/4

When the ocean of My presence hath ebbed and the Book of
My Revelation is ended, turn your faces towards Him Whom
God hath purposed, Who hath branched from this Ancient
Root. -- BAHA'U'LLAH, Kitab-i-Aqdas.


Birth and Childhood

Abbas Effendi, Who afterwards assumed the title of Abdu'l-Baha
(i.e. Servant of Baha), was the eldest son of Baha'u'llah.
He was born in Tihran before midnight on the eve of the 23rd
of May, 1844,+F1 the very same night in which the Bab declared
His mission.
He was nine years of age when His father, to Whom even
then He was devotedly attached, was thrown into the dungeon
in Tihran. A mob sacked their house, and the family were
stripped of their possessions and left in destitution. Abdu'l-Baha
tells how one day He was allowed to enter the prison
yard to see His beloved father when He came out for His daily
exercise. Baha'u'llah was terribly altered, so ill He could
hardly walk, His hair and beard unkempt, His neck galled and
swollen from the pressure of a heavy steel collar, His body
bent by the weight of His chains, and the sight made a never-
to-be-forgotten impression on the mind of the sensitive boy.
During the first year of their residence in Baghdad, ten years
before the open Declaration by Baha'u'llah of His Mission, the
keen insight of Abdu'l-Baha, Who was then but nine years of
age, already led Him to the momentous discovery that His father
was indeed the Promised One Whose Manifestation all the
Babis were awaiting. Some sixty years afterwards He thus described
the moment in which this conviction suddenly overwhelmed
His whole nature: --
------------------------
1. Thursday, 5th Jamadi I, 1260 A.H.
<p52>
I am the servant of the Blessed Perfection. In Baghdad
I was a child. Then and there He announced to me the
Word, and I believed in Him. As soon as He proclaimed
to me the Word, I threw myself at His Holy Feet and implored
and supplicated Him to accept my blood as a sacrifice
in His Pathway. Sacrifice! How sweet I find that
word! There is no greater Bounty for me than this! What
greater glory can I conceive than to see thick neck chained
for His sake, these feet fettered for His love, this body
mutilated or thrown into the depths of the sea for His
Cause! If in reality we are His sincere lovers -- if in reality
I am His sincere servant, then I must sacrifice my life,
my all at His Bless Threshold. -- Diary of Mirza Ahmad
Sohrab, January 1914.

About this time He began to be called by His friends, "The
Mystery of God," a title given to Him by Baha'u'llah, by which
He was commonly known during the period of residence in
Baghdad.
When His father went away for two years in the wilderness,
Abbas was heartbroken. His chief consolation consisted in
copying and committing to memory the Tablets of the Bab,
and much of His time was spent in solitary meditation. When
at last His father returned, the boy was overwhelmed with joy.


Youth

From that time onwards, He became His father's closest
companion and, as it were, protector. Although a mere youth,
He already showed astonishing sagacity and discrimination,
and undertook the task of interviewing all the numerous visitors
who came to see His father. If He found they were genuine
truth seekers, He admitted them to His father's presence,
but otherwise He did not permit them to trouble Baha'u'llah.
On many occasions He helped His father in answering the
questions and solving the difficulties of these visitors. For example,
when of the Sufi leaders, named Ali Shawkat
Pasha, asked for an explanation of the phrase: "I was a Hidden
Mystery," which occurs in a well-known Muhammadan tradition,
<p53>
tradition,+F1 Baha'u'llah turned to the "Mystery of God," Abbas, and
asked Him to write the explanation. The boy, who was then
about fifteen or sixteen years of age, at once wrote an important
epistle giving an exposition so illuminating as to astonish
the Pasha. This epistle is now widely spread among the
Baha'is, and is well known to many outside the Baha'i faith.
About this time Abbas was a frequent visitor to the
mosques, where He would discuss theological matters with the
doctors and learned men. He never attended any school or college,
His only teacher being His father. His favorite recreation
was horseback riding, which He keenly enjoyed.
After Baha'u'llah's Declaration in the Garden outside Baghdad,
Abdu'l-Baha's devotion to His father became greater
than ever. On the long journey to Constantinople He guarded
Baha'u'llah night and day, riding by His wagon and watching
near His tent. As far as possible He relieved His father of all
domestic cares and responsibilities, becoming the mainstay
and comfort of the entire family.
During the years spent in Adrianople, Abdu'l-Baha endeared
Himself to everyone. He taught much, and became generally
known as the "Master." At Akka, when nearly all the
party were ill with typhoid, malaria, and dysentery, He washed
the patients, nursed them, fed them, watched with them, taking
no rest, until utterly exhausted, He Himself took dysentery,
and for about a month remained in a dangerous condition.
In Akka, as in Adrianople, all classes, from the Governor
to the most wretched beggar, learned to love and respect Him.


Marriage

The following particulars regarding the marriage of Abdu'l-Baha
were kindly supplied to the writer by a Persian historian
of the Baha'i Faith: --

During the youth of Abdu'l-Baha the question of a
suitable marriage for Him was naturally one of great interest
to the believers, and many people came forward,
------------------------
1. The tradition is quoted in a Tablet of Baha'u'llah; see Chapter 5
of this book.
<p54>
wishing to have this crown of honor for their own family.
For a long time, however, Abdu'l-Baha showed no inclination
for marriage, and no one understood the wisdom
of this. Afterwards it became known that there was a girl
who was destined to become the wife of Abdu'l-Baha,
one whose birth came about through the Blessing which
the Bab gave to her parents in Isfahan. Her father was
Mirza Muhammad Ali, who was the uncle of the "King
of Martyrs" and the "Beloved of Martyrs," and she belonged
to one of the great and noble families of Isfahan.
When the Bab was in Isfahan, Mirza Muhammad Ali
had no children, but his wife was longing for a child. On
hearing of this, the Bab gave him a portion of His food
and told him to share it with his wife. After they had
eaten of that food, it soon became apparent that their
long-cherished hopes of parenthood were about to be fulfilled,
and in due course a daughter was born to them,
who was given the name of Munirih Khanum.+F1 Later on
son was born, to whom they gave the name of Siyyid
Yahya, and afterwards they had some other children.
After a time, Munirih's father died, her cousins were martyred
by Zillu's-Sultan and the mullas, and the family fell
into great troubles and bitter persecutions because of
their being Baha'is. Baha'u'llah then permitted Munirih
and her brother Siyyid Yahya to come to Akka for protection.
Baha'u'llah and His wife, Navvab, the mother of
Abdu'l-Baha, showed such kindness and favor to Munirih
that others understood that they wished her to become
the wife of Abdu'l-Baha. The wish of His father and
mother became the wish of Abdu'l-Baha, too. He had a
warm feeling of love and affection for Munirih which was
fully reciprocated, and erelong they became united in
marriage.

The marriage proved exceedingly happy and harmonious.
Of the children born to them four daughters have survived the
rigors of their long imprisonment, and, through their beautiful
------------------------
1. It is interesting to compare this story with that of the birth of
John the Baptist; see St. Luke's Gospel, Chapter I.
<p55>
lives of service, have endeared themselves to all who have been
privileged to know them.


Center of the Covenant

Baha'u'llah indicated in many ways the Abdu'l-Baha was
to direct the Cause after His own ascension. Many years before
His death He declared this in a veiled manner in His Kitab-i-Aqdas.
He referred to Abdu'l-Baha on many occasions as
"The Center of My Covenant," "The Most Great Branch," "The
Branch from the Ancient Root." He habitually spoke of Him
as "The Master" and required all His family to treat Him with
marked deference; and in His Will and Testament He left explicit
instructions that all should turn to Him and obey Him.
After the death of the "Blessed Beauty" (as Baha'u'llah was
generally called by His family and believers) Abdu'l-Baha
assumed the position which His father had clearly indicated
for Him as head of the Cause and authoritative Interpreter of
the teachings, but this was resented by certain of His relatives
and others, who became as bitterly opposed to Abdu'l-Baha
as Subh-i-Azal had been to Baha'u'llah. They tried to stir up
dissensions among the believers, and, failing in that, proceeded
to make various false charges against Abdu'l-Baha to the
Turkish Government.
In accordance with instructions received from His father,
Abdu'l-Baha was erecting a building on the side of Mount
Carmel, above Haifa, which was intended to be the permanent
resting-place of the remains of the Bab, and also to contain a
number of rooms for meetings and services. They represented
to the authorities that this building was intended as a fort, and
that Abdu'l-Baha and His followers meant to entrench themselves
there, defy the Government, and endeavor to gain possession
of the neighboring region of Syria.


Strict Imprisonment Renewed

In consequence of this and other equally unfounded charges,
in 1901, Abdu'l-Baha and His family, who for more than
twenty years had been allowed the freedom of the country for
<p56>
some miles around Akka, were again, for over seven years,
strictly confined within the walls of the prison city. This did
not prevent Him, however, from effectively spreading the
Baha'i message through Asia, Europe and America. Mr.
Horace Holley writes of this period as follows: --

To Abdu'l-Baha, as a teacher and friend, came men
and women from every race, religion and nation, to sit at
his table like favored guests, questioning him about the
social, spiritual or moral program each had most at
heart; and after a stay lasting from a few hours to many
months, returning home, inspired, renewed and enlightened.
The world surely never possessed such a guest-house
as this.
Within its doors the rigid castes of India melted away,
the racial prejudice of Jew, Christian and Muhammadan
became less than a memory; and every convention save
the essential law of warm hearts and aspiring minds broke
down, banned and forbidden by the unifying sympathy of
the master of the house. It was like a King Arthur and the
Round Table ... but an Arthur who knighted women as
well as men, and sent them away not with the sword but
with the Word. -- The Modern Social Religion, Horace
Holley, p. 171.

During these years Abdu'l-Baha cared on an enormous
correspondence with believers and inquirers in all parts of the
world. In this work He was greatly assisted by His daughters
and also by several interpreters and secretaries.
Much of His time was spent in visiting the sick and the afflicted
in their own homes; and in the poorest quarters of
Akka no visitor was more welcome than the "Master." A pilgrim
who visited Akka at this time writes: --

It is the custom of Abdu'l-Baha each week, on Friday
morning, to distribute alms to the poor. From his own
scanty store he gives a little to each one of the needy who
come to ask assistance. This morning about one hundred
<p57>
were ranged in line, seated and crouching upon the
ground in the open street of the courts where Abdu'l-Baha's
house stands. And such a nondescript collection of
humanity they were. All kinds of men, women and children --
poor, wretched, hopeless in aspect, half-clothed,
many of them crippled and blind, beggars indeed, poor
beyond expression -- waiting expectant -- until from the
doorway came Abdu'l-Baha. ... Quickly moving from
one to another, stopping sometimes to leave a word of
sympathy and encouragement, dropping small coins into
each eager outstretched palm, touching the face of a
child, taking the hand of an old woman who held fast to
the hem of his garment as he passed along, speaking
words of light to old men with sightless eyes, inquiring
after those too feeble and wretched to come for their pittance
of help, and sending them their portion with a message
of love and uplift. -- Glimpses of Abdu'l-Baha,
M. J. M., p. 13.

Abdu'l-Baha's personal wants were few. He worked late
and early. Two simple meals a day sufficed Him. His wardrobe
consisted of a very few garments of inexpensive material. He
could not bear to live in luxury while others were in want.
He had a great love for children, for flowers, and for the
beauties of nature. Every morning about six or seven, the family
party used to gather to partake of the morning tea together,
and while the Master sipped His tea, the little children of the
household chanted prayers. Mr. Thornton Chase writes of
these children: -- "Such children I have never seen, so courteous,
unselfish, thoughtful for others, unobtrusive, intelligent,
and swiftly self-denying in the little things that children
love. ..." -- In Galilee, p. 51.
The "ministry of flowers" was a feature of the life at Akka,
of which every pilgrim brought away fragrant memories. Mrs.
Lucas writes: -- "When the Master inhales the odor of flowers,
it is wonderful to see him. It seems as though the perfume of
the hyacinths were telling him something as he buries his
face in the flowers. It is like the effort of the ear to hear a beautiful
<p58>
harmony, a concentrated attention!" -- A Brief Account
of My Visit to `Akka, pp. 25-26.
He loved to present beautiful and sweet-smelling flowers to
His numerous visitors.
Mr. Thornton Chase sums up his impression of the prison
life at Akka as follows: --

Five days we remained within those walls, prisoners
with Him who dwells in that "Greatest Prison." It is a
prison of peace, of love and service. No wish, no desire is
there save the good of mankind, the peace of the world,
the acknowledgement of the Fatherhood of God and the
mutual rights of men as His creatures, His children. Indeed,
the real prison, the suffocating atmosphere, the
separation from all true heart desires, the bond of world
conditions, is outside of those stone walls, while within
them is the freedom and pure aura of the Spirit of God.
All troubles, tumults, worries or anxieties for worldly
things are barred out there. -- In Galilee, p. 24.

To most people the hardships of prison life would appear as
grievous calamities, but for Abdu'l-Baha they had no terrors.
When in prison He wrote: --

Grieve not because of my imprisonment and calamity;
for this prison is my beautiful garden, my mansioned
paradise and my throne of dominion among mankind.
My calamity in my prison is a crown to me in which I
glory among the righteous.
Anyone can be happy in the state of comfort, ease,
health, success, pleasure and joy; but if one be happy and
contented in the time of trouble, hardship and prevailing
disease, that is the proof of nobility.


Turkish Commissions of Investigation

In 1904 and 1907 commissions were appointed by the
Turkish Government to inquire into the charges against
Abdu'l-Baha, and lying witnesses gave evidence against Him.
<p59>
Abdu'l-Baha, while refuting the charges, expressed His entire
readiness to submit to any sentence the tribunal chose to impose.
He declared that if they should throw Him into jail, drag
Him through the streets, curse Him, spit upon Him, stone Him,
heap upon Him all sort of ignominy, hang Him or shoot Him,
He would still be happy.
Between the sittings of the Commissions of Investigation He
pursued His ordinary life with the utmost serenity, planting
fruit trees in a garden and presiding at a marriage feast with
the dignity and radiance of spiritual freedom. The Spanish
Consul offered to provide Him a safe passage to any foreign
port He cared to select, but this offer He gratefully but firmly
refused, saying that whatever the consequences, He must follow
in the footsteps of the Bab and the Blessed Perfection,
Who never tried to save Themselves or run away from Their
enemies. He encouraged most of the Baha'is, however, to leave
the neighborhood of Akka, which had become very dangerous
for them, and remained alone, with a few of the faithful, to
await His destiny.
The four corrupt officials who constituted the last investigating
commission arrived in Akka in the early part of the winter
of 1907, stayed one month, and departed for Constantinople,
after finishing their so-called "investigation," prepared to report
that the charges against Abdu'l-Baha had been substantiated
and to recommend His exile or execution. No sooner had
they got back to Turkey, however, than the Revolution broke
out there and the four commissioners, who belonged to the
old regime, had to flee for their lives. The Young Turks established
their supremacy, and all political and religious prisoners
in the Ottoman Empire were set free. In September 1980
Abdu'l-Baha was released was prison, and in the following
year Abdu'l-Hamid, the Sultan, became himself a prisoner.


Western Tours

After His release, Abdu'l-Baha continued the same holy life
of ceaseless activity in teaching, correspondence, ministering
to the poor and the sick, with merely the change from Akka to
Haifa and from Haifa to Alexandria, until August 1911, when
<p60>
He started on His first visit to the Western world. During His
tours in the West, Abdu'l-Baha met men of every shade of
opinion and amply fulfilled the command of Baha'u'llah to
"Consort with all the people with joy and fragrance." He
reached London early in September 1911, and spent a month
there, during which, besides daily talks with inquirers and
many other activities, He addressed the congregations of the
Rev. R. J. Campbell at the City Temple, and of Archdeacon
Wilberforce at St. John's, Westminster, and breakfasted with
the Lord Mayor. He then proceeded to Paris, where His time
was occupied in giving daily addresses and talks to eager
listeners of many nationalities and types. In December He returned
to Egypt, and next spring, in response to the earnest
entreaty of the American friends, He proceeded to the United
States, arriving in New York in April 1912. During the next
nine months He traveled through America, from coast to
coast, addressing all sorts and conditions of men -- university
students, Socialists, Mormons, Jews, Christians, Agnostics,
Esperantists, Peace Societies, New Thought Clubs, Women's
Suffrage Societies, and speaking in churches of almost every
denomination, in each case giving addresses suited to the
audience and the occasion. On December 5 He sailed for
Great Britain, where He passed six weeks, visiting Liverpool,
London, Bristol and Edinburgh. In Edinburgh He gave a
notable address to the Esperanto Society, in which He announced
that He had encouraged the Baha'is of the East to
study Esperanto in order to further better understanding between
the East and the West. After two months in Paris, spent
as before in daily interviews and conference, He proceeded to
Stuttgart, where He held a series of very successful meetings
with the German Baha'is; thence to Budapest and Vienna,
founding new groups in these places, returning, in May 1913,
to Egypt, and on December 5, 1913, to Haifa.


Return to Holy Land

He was then in His seventieth year, and His long and arduous
labors, culminating in these strenuous Western tours, had
<p61>
worn out His physical frame. After His return He wrote the
following pathetic Tablet to the believers in East and West: --

Friends, the time is coming when I shall be no longer
with you. I have done all that could be done. I have
served the Cause of Baha'u'llah to the utmost of my ability.
I have labored night and day all the years of my life.
Oh, how I long to see the believers shouldering the responsibilities
of the Cause! Now is the time to proclaim
the Kingdom of Abha (i.e. The Most Glorious!). Now is
the hour of union and concord! Now is the day of the
spiritual harmony of the friends of God! ...
I am straining my ears toward the East and toward the
West, toward the North and toward the South, that haply
I may hear the songs of love and fellowship raised in the
meetings of the believers. My days are numbered, and
save this there remains none other joy for me.
Oh, how I yearn to see the friends united, even as a
shining strand of pearls, as the brilliant Pleiades, as the
rays of the sun, the gazelles of one meadow!
The mystic nightingale is singing for them; will they
not listen? The bird of paradise is warbling; will they not
hear? The Angel of the Kingdom of Abha is calling to
them; will they not hearken? The Messenger of the Covenant
is pleading; will they not heed?
Ah! I am waiting, waiting to hear the glad news that
the believers are the embodiment of sincerity and loyalty,
the incarnation of love and amity and the manifestation of
unity and concord!
Will they not rejoice my heart? Will they not satisfy
my yearnings? Will they not heed my pleadings? will they
not fulfill my hopes? Will they not answer my call?
I am waiting, I am patiently waiting!

The enemies of the Baha'i Cause, whose hopes had risen
high when the Bab fell a victim to their fury, when Baha'u'llah
was driven from His native land and made a prisoner for life,
and again at the passing of Baha'u'llah -- these enemies once
more took heart when they saw the physical weakness and
<p62>
weariness of Abdu'l-Baha after His return from His Western
travels. But again their hopes were doomed to disappointment.
In a short time Abdu'l-Baha was able to write: --

Unquestionably this physical body and human energy
would have been unable to stand the constant wear and
tear...but the aid and help of the Desired One were
the Guardian and Protector of the weak and humble
Abdu'l-Baha. ... Some have asserted that Abdu'l-Baha
is on the eve of bidding his last farewell to the world,
that his physical energies are depleted and drained and
that ere long these complications will put an end to his life.
This is far from the truth. Although in the outward estimation
of the Covenant-breakers and defective-minded
the body is weak on account of ordeals in the Blessed
Path, yet, Praise be to God! through the providence of the
Blessed Perfection the spiritual forces are in the utmost rejuvenation
and strength. Thanks be to God that now,
through the blessing and benediction of Baha'u'llah, even
the physical energies are fully restored, divine joy is obtained,
the supreme glad-tidings are resplendent and ideal
happiness overflowing.

Both during the European War and after its close Abdu'l-Baha,
amidst countless other activities, was able to pour forth
a series of great and inspiring letters which, when communications
were reopened, roused believers throughout the world
to new enthusiasm and zeal for service. Under the inspiration
of these letters the Cause progressed by leaps and bounds and
everywhere the Faith showed signs of new vitality and vigor.


War Time at Haifa

A remarkable instance of the foresight of Abdu'l-Baha was
supplied during the months immediately preceding the war.
During peacetimes there was usually a large number of pilgrims
at Haifa, from Persia and other regions of the globe.
About six months before the outbreak of war one of the old
<p63>
Baha'is living at Haifa present a request from several believers
of Persia for permission to visit the Master. Abdu'l-Baha
did not grant the permission, and from that time onwards
gradually dismissed the pilgrims who were at Haifa, so that by
the end of July 1914 none remained. When, in the first days of
August the sudden outbreak of the Great War startled the
world, the wisdom of His precaution became apparent.
When the war broke out, Abdu'l-Baha, Who had already
spent fifty-five years of His life in exile and prison, became
again virtually a prisoner of the Turkish Government. Communication
with friends and believers outside Syria was almost
completely cut off, and He and His little band of followers were
again subjected to straitened circumstances, scarcity of food
and great personal danger and inconvenience.
During the war Abdu'l-Baha had a busy time in ministering
to the material and spiritual wants of the people about Him.
He personally organized extensive agricultural operations near
Tiberias, thus securing a great supply of wheat, by means of
which famine was averted, not only for the Baha'is but for
hundreds of the poor of all religions in Haifa and Akka, whose
wants He liberally supplied. He took care of all, and mitigated
their sufferings as far as possible. To hundreds of poor people
He would give a small sum of money daily. In addition to
money He gave bread. If there was no bread He would give
dates or something else. He made frequent visits to Akka to
comfort and help the believers and poor people there. During
the time of war He had daily meetings of the believers, and
through His help the friends remained happy and tranquil
throughout those troublous years.

Sir Abdu'l-Baha Abbas, K.B.E.

Great was the rejoicing in Haifa when, on the 23rd day of
September, 1918, at 3 P.M., after some twenty-four hours'
fighting, the city was taken by British and Indian cavalry, and
the horrors of war conditions under the Turkish rule came to
an end.
From the beginning of the British occupation, large numbers
<p64>
of soldiers and Government officials of all ranks, even the highest,
sought interviews with Abdu'l-Baha, delighting in His
illuminating talks, His breadth of view and depth of insight,
His dignified courtesy and genial hospitality. So profoundly
impressed were the Government representatives by His noble
character and His great work in the interests of peace conciliation,
and the true prosperity of the people, that a knighthood
of the British Empire was conferred on Abdu'l-Baha, the ceremony
taking place in the garden of the Military Governor of
Haifa on the 27th day of April, 1920.


Last Years

During the winter of 1919-1920 the writer had the great
privilege of spending two and half months as the guest of
Abdu'l-Baha at Haifa and intimately observing His daily life.
At that time, although nearly seventy-six years of age, He was
still remarkably vigorous, and accomplished daily an almost
incredible amount of work. Although often very weary He
showed wonderful powers of recuperation, and His services
were always at the disposal of those who needed them most.
His unfailing patience, gentleness, kindliness and tact made
His presence like a benediction. It was His custom to spend a
large part of each night in prayer and meditation. From early
morning until evening, except for a short siesta after lunch, He
was busily engaged in reading and answering letters from many
lands and in attending to the multitudinous affairs of the household
and of the Cause. In the afternoon He usually had a little
relaxation in the form of a walk or a drive, but even then He
was usually accompanied by one or two, or a party, of pilgrims
with whom He would converse on spiritual matters, or He
would find opportunity by the way of seeing and ministering to
some of the poor. After His return He would call the friends to
the usual evening meeting in His salon. Both at lunch and
supper He used to entertain a number of pilgrims and friends,
and charm His guests with happy and humorous stories as well
as precious talks on a great variety of subjects. "My home is
the home of laughter and mirth," He declared, and indeed it
<p65>
was so. He delighted in gathering together people of various
races, colors, nations and religions in unity and cordial friendship
around His hospitable board. He was indeed a loving
father not only to the little community at Haifa, but to the
Baha'i community throughout the world.


The Passing of Abdu'l-Baha

Abdu'l-Baha's manifold activities continued with little
abatement despite increasing bodily weakness and weariness
up till the last day or two of His life. On Friday, November 25,
1921, He attended the noonday prayer at the Mosque in Haifa,
and afterwards distributed alms to the poor with His own
hands, as was His wont. After lunch He dictated some letters.
When He had rested He walked in the garden and had a talk
with the gardener. In the evening He gave His blessing and
counsel to a loved and faithful servant of the household who
had been married that day, and afterwards He attended the
usual meeting of the friends in His own salon. Less that three
days later, about 1:30 A.M. on Monday, November 28, He
passed away so peacefully that, to the two daughters watching
by His bedside, it seemed as if He had gone quietly to sleep.
The sad news soon spread throughout the town and was
flashed over the wires to all parts of the world. The next morning
(Tuesday, November 29) the funeral took place:

... a funeral the like of which Haifa, nay Palestine itself,
had surely never seen ... so deep was the feeling that
brought so many thousands of mourners together, representative
of so many religions, races and tongues.
The High Commissioner, Sir Herbert Samuel, the
Governor or Jerusalem, the Governor of Phoenicia, the
Chief Officials of the Government, the Consuls of the
various countries, resident in Haifa, the heads of the various
religious communities, the notables of Palestine, Jews,
Christians, Moslems, Druses, Egyptians, Greeks, Turks,
Kurds, and a host of his American, European and native
friends, men, women and children, both of high and low
<p66>
degree ... all, about ten thousand in number, mourning
the loss of their Beloved One. ...
"O God, my God!" the people wailed with one accord,
"Our father has left us, our father has left us!"
... they slowly wended their way up Mount Carmel,
the Vineyard of God. ... After two hours' walking, they
reached the garden of the Tomb of the Bab. ... As the
vast concourse pressed round ... representatives of the
various denominations, Moslems, Christians and Jews, all
hearts being ablaze with fervent love of Abdu'l-Baha, some
on the impulse of the moment, other prepared, raised
their voices in eulogy and regret, paying their last homage
of farewell to their loved one. So united were they in their
acclamation of him, as the wise educator and reconciler of
the human race in this perplexed and sorrowful age, that
there seemed to be nothing left for the Baha'is to
say. -- The Passing of Abdu'l-Baha, by Lady Blomfield and
Shoghi Effendi, pp. 11, 12.

Nine speakers, all of them prominent representatives of the
Muslim, Christian and Jewish communities, bore eloquent
and moving witness to their love and admiration of the pure
and noble life which had just drawn to its close. Then the
casket was slowly passed to its simple and hallowed resting-place.
Surely here was a fitting tribute to the memory of One Who
had labored all His life for unity of religions, of races, of
tongues -- a tribute, and also a proof, that His lifework had not
been in vain, that the ideals of Baha'u'llah, which were His
inspiration, nay, His very life, were already beginning to
permeate the world and to break down the barriers of sect and
caste that for centuries had alienated Muslim, Christian, Jew,
and the other diverse factions into which the human family has
been riven.


Writings and Addresses

The Writings of Abdu'l-Baha are very numerous and are
mostly in the form of letter to believers and inquirers. A great
<p67>
many of His talks and addresses have also been recorded and
many have been published. Of the thousands of pilgrims who
have visited Him at Akka and Haifa a large number have
written descriptions of their impressions, and many of these
records are now available in printed form.
His teachings are thus very completely preserved, and they
cover a very wide range of subjects. With many of the problems
of both East and West He dealt more fully than His Father had
done, giving more detailed applications of the general principles
laid down by Baha'u'llah. A number of His Writings have
not yet been translated into any Western language but enough
is already available to give deep and full knowledge of the
more important principles of His teaching.
He spoke Persian, Arabic and Turkish. In His Western
tours His talks and addresses were always interpreted, obviously
losing much of their beauty, eloquence and force in the
process, yet such was the power of the Spirit which accompanied
His words that all who heard Him were impressed.


Station of Abdu'l-Baha

The unique station assigned to Abdu'l-Baha by the Blessed
Perfection is indicated in the following passage written by the
latter: -- "When the ocean of My presence hath ebbed and the
Book of My Revelation is ended, turn your faces towards Him
Whom God hath purposed, Who hath branched from this
Ancient Root." And again: --" ... refer ye whatsoever ye
understand not in the Book to Him Who hath branched from
this mighty Stock." Abdu'l-Baha Himself wrote the following: --
"In accordance with the explicit text of the Kitab-i-Aqdas
Baha'u'llah hath made the Center of the Covenant the
Interpreter of His Word -- a Covenant so firm and mighty that
from the beginning of time until the present day no religious
Dispensation hath produced its like."
The very completeness of the servitude with which Abdu'l-Baha
promulgated the Faith of Baha'u'llah in East and West
resulted at times in a confusion of belief concerning His station
on the part of believers. Realizing the purity of the spirit animating
<p68>
His word and deed, surrounded by religious influences
marking the breakdown of their traditional doctrines, a number
of Baha'is felt that they honored Abdu'l-Baha by likening Him
to a Manifestation, or hailing Him as the "return of Christ."
Nothing caused Him such intense grief as this failure to perceive
that His capacity to serve Baha'u'llah proceeded from the
purity of the mirror turned to the Sun of Truth, and not from
the Sun itself.
Moreover, unlike previous Dispensations, the Faith of
Baha'u'llah had within it the potency of a universal human
society. During Abdu'l-Baha's mission covering the period
1892 to 1921, the Faith evolved through successive stages of
development in the direction of a true world order, Its development
required continuous direction and specific instruction
from Abdu'l-Baha, Who alone knew the fullness of that new
potent inspiration brought to earth in this age. Until His own
Will and Testament was revealed after Abdu'l-Baha's departure
from the flesh, and its significance was expounded by
Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Faith, the Baha'is almost
inevitably attributed their beloved Master's guidance a
degree of spiritual authority equaling that of the Manifestation.
The effects of such naive enthusiasm are no longer felt
within the Baha'i community, but with a sounder realization
of the mystery of that incomparably devotion and servitude,
the Baha'is can today all the more consciously appreciate the
unique character of the mission which Abdu'l-Baha fulfilled.
The Faith which in 1892 seemed so weak and helpless in the
physical exile and imprisonment of its Exemplar and Interpreter,
has since, with irresistible power, raised up communities
in many countries,+F1 and challenges the weakness of a decaying
civilization with a body of teachings that alone reveal the
future of a despairing humanity.
The Will and Testament of Abdu'l-Baha itself set forth with
complete clarity the mystery of the stations of the Bab and of
Baha'u'llah, and His own mission: --
------------------------
1. In 1969, 139 independent states and 173 significant territories and
islands. (See Epilogue)
<p69>
This is the foundation of the belief of the people of
Baha (may my life be offered up for them): "His Holiness,
the Exalted One (the Bab), is the Manifestation
of the Unity and Oneness of God and the Forerunner of
the Ancient Beauty. His Holiness the Abha Beauty (may
my life be a sacrifice for His steadfast friends) is the
Supreme Manifestation of God and the Dayspring of His
Most Divine Essence. All others are servants unto Him
and do His bidding."

By this statement, and by numerous others in which
Abdu'l-Baha emphasized the importance of basing one's
knowledge of the Faith upon His general Tablets, a foundation
for unity of belief was established, with the result that the
differences of understanding caused by reference to His Tablets
to individuals, in which the Master answered personal questions,
rapidly disappeared. Above all, the establishment of a
definite administrative order, with the Guardian at its head,
transferred to institutions all authority previously wielded in
the form of prestige and influence by individual Baha'is in the
various local groups.


Exemplar of Baha'i Life

Baha'u'llah was preeminently the Revealer of the Word. His
forty years' imprisonment gave Him but limited opportunities
of intercourse with His fellowmen. To Abdu'l-Baha, therefore,
fell the important task of becoming the exponent of the Revelation,
the Doer of the Word, the Great Exemplar of the Baha'i
life in actual contact with the world of today, in the most
diverse phases of its myriad activities. He showed that it is still
possible, amid the whirl and rush of modern life, amid the
self-love and struggle for material prosperity that everywhere
prevail, to live the life of entire devotion to God and to the
service of one's fellows, which Christ and Baha'u'llah and all
the Prophets have demanded of men. Through trial and vicissitudes,
calumnies, and treachery on the one hand, and through
love and praise, devotion and veneration on the other, He
<p70>
stood like a lighthouse founded on a rock, around which
wintry tempests rage and the summer ocean plays, His poise
and serenity remaining ever steadfast and unshaken. He lived
the life of faith, and calls on His followers to live it here and
now. He raised amid a warring world the Banner of Unity and
Peace, the Standard of a New Era, and He assures those who
rally to its support that they shall be inspired by the Spirit of
the New Day. It is the same Holy Spirit which inspired the
Prophets and Saints of old, but it is a new outpouring of that
Spirit, suited to the needs of the new time.
<p71>
What Is a Baha'i/5


Man must show forth fruits. A fruitless man, in the words
of His Holiness the Spirit (i.e. Christ), is like a fruitless tree,
and a fruitless tree is fit for fire. -- BAHA'U'LLAH, Words of
Paradise.

Herbert Spencer once remarked that by no political alchemy
is it possible to get golden conduct out of leaden instincts, and
it is equally true that by no political alchemy is it possible to
make a golden society out of leaden individuals. Baha'u'llah,
like all previous Prophets, proclaimed this truth and taught
that in order to establish the Kingdom of God in the world, it
must first be established in the hearts of men. In examining
the Baha'i teachings, therefore, we shall commence with the
instructions of Baha'u'llah for individual conduct, and try to
form a clear picture of what it means to be a Baha'i.


Living the Life

When asked on one occasion: "What is a Baha'i?" Abdu'l-Baha
replied: "To be a Baha'i simply means to love all the
world; to love humanity and try to serve it; to work for
universal peace and universal brotherhood." On another occasion
He defined a Baha'i as "one endowed with all the perfections
of man in activity." In one of His London talks He said
that a man may be a Baha'i even if He has never heard the
name of Baha'u'llah. He added: --

The man who lives the life according to the teachings
of Baha'u'llah is already a Baha'i. On the other hand, a
man may call himself a Baha'i for fifty years, and if he
does not live the life he is not a Baha'i. An ugly man may
call himself handsome, but he deceives no one, and a
<p72>
black man may call himself white, yet he deceives no one,
not even himself.

One who does not know God's Messengers, however, is like
a plant growing in the shade. Although it knows not the sun,
it is, nevertheless, absolutely dependent on it. The great
Prophets are spirits suns, and Baha'u'llah is the sun of this
"day" in which we live. The suns of former days have warmed
and vivified the world, and had those suns not shone, the earth
would not be cold and dead, but it is the sunshine of today
that alone can ripen the fruits which the suns of former days
have kissed into life.


Devotion to God

In order to attain to the Baha'i life in all its fullness, conscious
and direct relations with Baha'u'llah are as necessary as
is sunshine for the unfolding of the lily or the rose. The Baha'i
worships not the human personality of Baha'u'llah, but the
Glory of God manifest through that personality. He reverences
Christ and Muhammad and all God's former Messengers to
mankind, but he recognizes Baha'u'llah as the bearer of God's
Message for the new age in which we live, as the Great World
teacher Who has come to carry on and consummate the work
of His predecessors.
Intellectual assent to a creed does not make a man a Baha'i,
nor does outward rectitude of conduct. Baha'u'llah requires of
His followers wholehearted and complete devotion. God alone
has the right to make such a demand, but Baha'u'llah speaks
as the Manifestation of God, and the Revealer of His Will.
Previous Manifestations have been equally clear on this point.
Christ said: "If any man come after me, let him deny himself,
and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save
his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake,
the same shall save it." In different words, all the Divine Manifestations
have made this same demand from Their followers,
and the history of religion shows clearly that as long as the demand
has been frankly recognized and accepted, religion has
<p73>
flourished, despite all earthly opposition, despite affliction, persecution
and martyrdom of the believers. On the other hand,
whenever compromise has crept in, and "respectability" has
taken the place of complete consecration, then religion has decayed.
It has become fashionable, but it has lost its power to
save and transform, its power to work miracles. True religion
has never yet been fashionable. God grant that one day it may
become so; but it is still true, as in the days of Christ, that "strait
is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and
few there be that find it." The gateway of spiritual birth, like the
gateway of natural birth, admits men only one by one, and
without encumbrances. If, in the future, more people succeed
in entering that way than in the past, it will not be because of
any widening of the gate, but because of a greater disposition on
the part of men to make the "great surrender" which God demands;
because long and bitter experience has at last brought
them to see the folly of choosing their own way instead of God's
way.


Search After Truth

Baha'u'llah enjoins justice on all His followers and defines
it as: -- "The freedom of man from superstition and imitation,
so that he may discern the Manifestations of God with the eyes
of Oneness, and consider all affairs with keen sight." -- Words
of Wisdom.
It is necessary that each individual should see and realize for
himself the Glory of God manifest in the human temple of
Baha'u'llah, otherwise the Baha'i faith would be for him but
a name without meaning. The call of the Prophets to mankind
has always been that men should open their eyes, not shut
them, use their reason, not suppress it. It is clear seeing and
free thinking, not servile credulity, that will enable them to penetrate
the clouds of prejudice, to shake off the fetters of
blind imitation, and attain to the realization of the truth of a
new Revelation.
He who would be a Baha'i needs to be a fearless seeker after
truth, but he should not confine his search to the material
<p74>
plane. His spiritual perceptive powers should be awake as well
as his physical. He should use all the faculties God has given
him for the acquisition of truth, believing nothing without valid
and sufficient reason. If his heart is pure, and his mind free
from prejudice, the earnest seeker will not fail to recognize the
Divine Glory in whatsoever temple it may become manifest.
Baha'u'llah further declares: --

Man should know his own self, and know those things
that lead to loftiness or to baseness, to shame or to honor,
to wealth or to poverty. -- Tablet of Tarazat.
The source of all learning is the knowledge of God,
exalted be His Glory! and this cannot be attained save
through the knowledge of His divine Manifestation. --
Words of Wisdom.

The Manifestation is the Perfect Man, the great Exemplar
for Mankind, the First Fruit of the tree of humanity. Until we
know Him we do not know the latent possibilities within ourselves.
Christ tells us to consider the lilies how they grow, and
declares that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one
of these. The lily grows from a very unattractive-looking bulb.
If we had never seen a lily in bloom, never gazed on its matchless
grace of foliage and flower, how could we know the reality
contained in that bulb? We might dissect it most carefully and
examine it most minutely, but we should never discover the
dormant beauty which the gardener knows how to awaken. So
until we have seen the Glory of God revealed in the Manifestation,
we can have no idea of the spiritual beauty latent in our
own nature and in that of our fellows. By knowing and loving
the Manifestation of God and following His teachings we are
enabled, little by little, to realize the potential perfections
within ourselves; then, and not till then, does the meaning and
purpose of life and of the universe become apparent to us.


Love of God

To know the Manifestation of God means also to love Him.
One is impossible without the other. According to Baha'u'llah,
<p75>
the purpose of man's creation is that he may know God and
adore Him. He says in one of His Tablets: --

The cause of the creation of all contingent beings has
been love, as it is said in the well-known tradition, "I was
a hidden treasure and I loved to be known. Therefore I
created the creation in order to be known."

And in the Hidden Words He says: --

O Son of Being!
Love Me, that I may love thee. If thou lovest Me not,
My love can in no wise reach thee. Know this, O servant.

O Son of the Wondrous Vision!
I have breathed within thee a breath of My own Spirit,
that thou mayest be My lover. Why hast thou forsaken
Me and sought a beloved other than Me?

To be God's lover! That is the sole object of life for the
Baha'i. To have God as his closest companion and most intimate
friend, his Peerless Beloved, in Whose Presence is fullness
of joy! And to love God means to love everything and everybody,
for all are of God. The real Baha'i will be the perfect
lover. He will love everyone with a pure heart, fervently. He
will hate no one. He will despise no one, for he will have
learned to see the Face of the Beloved in every face, and to find
His traces everywhere. His love will know no limit of sect,
nation, class or race. Baha'u'llah says: -- "Of old it hath been
revealed: `Love of one's country is an element of the Faith of
God.' The Tongue of Grandeur hath ... in the day of His
manifestation proclaimed: `It is not his to boast who loveth
his country, but it is his who loveth the world.'" -- Tablet of the
World. And again: -- "Blessed is he who prefers his brother
before himself; such an one is of the people of Baha." -- Words
of Paradise.
Abdu'l-Baha tells us we must be "as one soul in many
bodies, for the more we love each other, the nearer we shall
be to God." To an American audience He said: --

Likewise the divine religions of the holy Manifestations
of God are in reality one though in name and
<p76>
nomenclature they differ. Man must be a lover of the light
no matter from what day-spring it may appear. He must
be a lover of the rose no matter what soil it may be
growing. He must be a seeker of the truth no matter from
what source it come. Attachment to the lantern is not
loving the light. Attachment to the earth is not befitting
but enjoyment of the rose which develops from the soil
is worthy. Devotion to the tree is profitless but partaking
of the fruit is beneficial. Luscious fruits no matter upon
what tree they grow or where they may be found must be
enjoyed. The word of truth no matter which tongue
utters it must be sanctioned. Absolute verities no matter in
what book they be recorded must be accepted. If we
harbor prejudice it will be the cause of deprivation and
ignorance. The strife between religions, nations and races
arises from misunderstanding. If we investigate the religions
to discover the principles underlying their foundations
we will find they agree, for the fundamental reality
of them is one and not multiple. By this means the religionists
of the world will reach their point of unity and
reconciliation.

Again He says: --

Every soul of the beloved ones must love the others
and withhold not his possessions and life from them, and
by all means he must endeavor to make the other joyous
and happy. But these others must also be disinterested
and self-sacrificing. Thus may this Sunrise flood the horizons,
this Melody gladden and make happy all the people,
this divine Remedy become the panacea for every disease,
this Spirit of Truth become the cause of life for every
soul.


Severance

Devotion to God implies also severance from everything
that is not of God, severance, that is, from all selfish and
worldly, and ever other-worldly desires. The path of God may
<p77>
lie through riches or poverty, health or sickness, through
palace or dungeon, rose garden or torture chamber. Whichever
it be, the Baha'i will learn to accept his lot with "radiant
acquiescence." Severance does not mean stolid indifference to
one's surroundings or passive resignation to evil conditions;
nor does it mean despising the good things which God has
created. The true Baha'i will not be callous, nor apathetic nor
ascetic. He will find abundant interest, abundant work and
abundant joy in the Path of God, but he will not deviate one
hair's breadth from that path in pursuit of pleasure nor hanker
after anything that God has denied him. When a man becomes
a Baha'i, God's Will becomes his will, for to be at variance with
God is the one thing he cannot endure. In the path of God no
errors can appall, no troubles dismay him. The light of love
irradiates his darkest days, transmutes suffering into joy, and
martyrdom itself into an ecstasy of bliss. Life is lifted to the
heroic plane and death becomes a glad adventure. Baha'u'llah
says:--

He that hath in his heart even less than a mustard seed
of love for anything beside Me, verily he cannot enter My
Kingdom. -- Suratu'l-Haykal

O Son of Man!
If thou lovest Me, turn away from thyself; and if thou
seekest My pleasure, regard not thine own; that thou
mayest die in Me and I may eternally live in thee.

O My Servant!
Free thyself from the fetters of this world, and loose
thy soul from the prison of self. Seize thy chance, for it
will come to thee no more. -- The Hidden Words.


Obedience

Devotion to God involves implicit obedience to His revealed
Commands even when the reason for these Commands is not
understood. The sailor implicitly obeys his captain's orders,
even when he does not know the reason for them, but his acceptance
<p78>
of authority is not blind. He knows full well that the
captain has served a thorough probation, and given ample
proofs of competence as a navigator. Were it not so, he would
be foolish indeed to serve under him. So the Baha'i must implicitly
obey the Captain of his Salvation, but he will be foolish
indeed if he has not first ascertained that this Captain has
given ample proofs of trustworthiness. Having received such
proofs, however, to refuse obedience would be even greater
folly, for only by intelligent and open-eyed obedience to the
wise master can we reap the benefits of his wisdom, and acquire
this wisdom for ourselves. Be the captain never so wise, if
none of the crew obey him how shall the ship reach its port
or the sailors learn the art of navigation? Christ clearly pointed
out that obedience is the path of knowledge. He said: -- "My
doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do
his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God,
or whether I speak of myself." -- St. John vii, 16-17. So
Baha'u'llah says: "Faith in God, and the knowledge of Him,
cannot be fully attained except ... by practicing all that He
hath commanded and all that is revealed in the Book from the
Pen of Glory." -- Tablet of Tajalliyat.
Implicit obedience is not a popular virtue in these democratic
days, and indeed entire submission to the will of any
mere man would be disastrous. But the Unity of Humanity can
be attained only by complete harmony of each and all with
the Divine will. Unless that Will be clearly revealed, and men
abandon all other leaders and obey the Divine Messenger, then
conflict and strife will go on, and men will continue to oppose
each other, to devote a large part of their energy to frustrating
the efforts of their brother men, instead of working harmoniously
together for the Glory of God and the common good.


Service

Devotion to God implies a life of service to our fellow-
creatures. We can be of service to God in no other way. If we
turn our backs on our fellowmen, we are turning our backs
<p79>
upon God. Christ said, "Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the
least of these, ye did it not to Me." So Baha'u'llah says: -- "O son
of man! If thine eyes be turned towards mercy, forsake the things
that profit thee, and cleave unto that which will profit mankind.
And if thine eyes be turned towards justice, choose thou for thy
neighbor that which thou choosest for thyself." -- Words of
Paradise.
Abdu'l-Baha says: --

In the Baha'i Cause arts, sciences and all crafts are
counted as worship. The man who makes a piece of note-
paper to the best of his ability, conscientiously, concentrating
all his forces on perfecting it, is giving praise to
God. Briefly, all effort and exertion put forth by man
from the fullness of his heart is worship, if it is prompted
by the highest motives and the will to do service to humanity.
This is worship: to serve mankind and to minister
to the needs of the people. Service is prayer. A physician
ministering to the sick, gently, tenderly, free from prejudice
and believing in the solidarity of the human race,
is giving praise.


Teaching

The real Baha'i will not only believe in the teachings of
Baha'u'llah, but find in them the guide and inspiration of his
whole life and joyfully impart to others the knowledge that
is the wellspring of his own being. Only thus will he receive in
full measure "the power and confirmation of the Spirit." All
cannot be eloquent speakers or ready writers, but all can teach
by "living the life." Baha'u'llah says: --

The people of Baha must serve the Lord with wisdom,
teach others by their lives, and manifest the light of God
in their deeds. The effect of deed is in truth more powerful
than that of words. -- Words of Paradise

The Baha'i will, however, on no account force his ideas on
<p80>
those who do not wish to hear them. He will attract people to
the Kingdom of God, not try to drive them into it. He will be
like the good shepherd who leads his flock, and charms the
sheep by his music, rather than like the one who, from behind,
urges them on with dog and stick.
Baha'u'llah says in the Hidden Words: --

O Son of Dust!
The wise are they that speak not unless they obtain a
hearing, even as the cup-bearer, who proffereth not his
cup till he findeth a seeker, and the lover who crieth not
out from the depths of his heart until he gazeth upon the
beauty of his beloved. Wherefore sow the seeds of wisdom
and knowledge in the pure soil of the heart, and keep
them hidden, till the hyacinths of divine wisdom spring
from the heart and not from mire and clay.

Again He says, in the Tablet of Ishraqat: --

O people of Baha! Ye are the dawning-places of the
Love and daysprings of the Favor of God. Defile not your
tongues with cursing or execrating anyone, and guard
your eyes from that which is not worthy. Show forth that
which ye possess (i.e. Truth). If it be accepted, the aim
is attained. If not, to rebuke or interfere with him who
rejects is vain. Leave him to himself, and advance towards
God, the Protector, the Self-Subsistent. Be not the cause
of sorrow, how much less of sedition and strife! It is
hoped that ye may be nurtured in the shade of the tree of
Divine Bounty and act as God has willed for you. Ye are
all leaves of one tree and drops of one sea.


Courtesy and Reverence

Baha'u'llah says: --

O people of God! I exhort you to courtesy. Courtesy
is indeed ... the lord of all virtues. Blessed is he who is
adorned with the mantle of Uprightness and illumined
with the light of Courtesy. He who is endowed with Courtesy
<p81>
(or Reverence) is endowed with a great station. It
is hoped that this Wronged One, and all, will attain to it,
hold unto it and observe it. This is the Irrefutable Command
which hath flowed from the pen of the Greatest
Name. -- Tablet of the World.

Again and again He repeats: -- "Let all the nations of the
world consort with each other with joy and fragrance. Consort
ye, O people, with the people of all religions with joy and
fragrance."
Abdu'l-Baha says in a letter to the Baha'is of America: --

Beware! Beware! Lest ye offend any heart!
Beware! Beware! Lest ye hurt any soul!
Beware! Beware! Lest ye deal unkindly toward any
person!
Beware! Beware! Lest ye be the cause of hopelessness
to any creature!
Should one become the cause of grief to any one heart,
or of despondency to any one soul, it were better to hide
oneself in the lowest depths of the earth than to walk upon
the earth.

He teaches that as the flower is hidden in the bud, so a spirit
from God dwells in the heart of every man, no matter how hard
and unlovely his exterior. The true Baha'i will treat every man,
therefore, as the gardener tends a rare and beautiful plant. He
knows that no impatient interference on his part can open the
bud into a blossom; only God's sunshine can do that, therefore
his aim is to bring that life-giving sunshine into all
darkened hearts and homes.
Again, Abdu'l-Baha says: --

Among the teachings of Baha'u'llah is one requiring
man, under all conditions and circumstances, to be forgiving,
to love his enemy and to consider an ill-wisher as a
well-wisher. Not that one should consider another as an
<p82>
enemy and then put up with him ... and be forbearing
toward him. This is hypocrisy and not real love. Nay,
rather, you must see your enemies as friends, your ill-wishers
as well-wishers and treat them accordingly. Your
love and kindness must be real ... not merely forbearance,
for forbearance, if not of the heart, is hypocrisy.

Such counsel appears unintelligible and self-contradictory
until we realize that while the outer carnal man may be a
hater and ill-wisher, there is in everyone an inner, spiritual
nature which is the real man, from whom only love and goodwill
can proceed. It is to this real, inner man in each of our
neighbors that we must direct our thought and love. When he
awakens into activity, the outer man will be transformed and
renewed.


The Sin-covering Eye

On no subject are the Baha'i teaching more imperative and
uncompromising than on the requirement to abstain from
faultfinding. Christ spoke very strongly on the same subject,
but it has now become usual to regard the Sermon on the
Mount as embodying "Counsels of Perfection" which the
ordinary Christian cannot be expected to live up to. Both
Baha'u'llah and Abdu'l-Baha are at great pains to make it
clear that on this subject They mean all They say. We read in
the Hidden Words: --

O Son of Man!
Breather not the sins of others so long as thou art thyself
a sinner. Shouldst thou transgress this command, accursed
wouldst thou be, and to this I bear witness.

O Son of Being!
Ascribe not to any soul that which thou wouldst not
have ascribed to thee, and say not that which thou doest
not. This is My command unto thee, do thou observe it.
<p83>
Abdu'l-Baha tells us: --

To be silent concerning the faults of others, to pray for
them, and to help them, through kindness, to correct
their faults.
To look always at the good and not at the bad. If a
man has ten good qualities and one bad one, to look at the
ten and forget the one; and if a man has ten bad qualities
and one good one, to look at the one and forget the ten.
Never to allow ourselves to speak one unkind word
about another, even though that other be our enemy.

To an American friend He writes: --

The worst human quality and the most great sin is
backbiting, more especially when it emanates from the
tongues of the believers of God. If some means were
devised so that the doors of backbiting could be shut eternally,
and each one of the believers of God unsealed his
lips in praise of others, then the teachings of His Holiness
Baha'u'llah would be spread, the hearts illumined, the
spirits glorified, and the human world would attain to
everlasting felicity.


Humility

While we are commanded to overlook the faults of others,
and see their virtues, we are commanded, on the other hand,
to find out our own faults and take no account of our virtues.
Baha'u'llah says in the Hidden Words: --

O Son of Being!
How couldst thou forge thine own faults and busy
thyself with the faults of others? Whoso doeth this is
accursed of Me.

O Emigrants!
The tongue I have designed for the mention of Me,
defile it not with detraction. If the fire of self overcome
you, remember your own faults and not the faults of My
<p84>
creatures, inasmuch as every one of you knoweth his own
self better than he knoweth others.

Abdu'l-Baha says: --

Let your life be an emanation of the Kingdom of
Christ. He came not to be ministered unto, but to minister.
... In the religion of Baha'u'llah all are servants and
maidservants, brothers and sisters. As soon as one feels
a little better than, a little superior to, the rest, he is in
a dangerous position, and unless he casts away the seed
of such an evil thought, he is not a fit instrument for the
service of the Kingdom.
Dissatisfaction with oneself is a sign of progress. The
soul who is satisfied with himself is the manifestation of
Satan, and the one who is not contented with himself is
the manifestation of the Merciful. If a person has a
thousand good qualities he must not look at them; nay,
rather he must strive to find out his own defects and imperfections.
...However much a man may progress,
yet he is imperfect, because there is always a point ahead
of him. No sooner does he look up towards that point
than he become dissatisfied with his own condition, and
aspires to attain to that. Praising one's own self is the
sign of selfishness. -- Diary of Mirza Ahmad Sohrab,
1914.

Although we are commanded to recognize and sincerely repent
of our sins, the practice of confession to priests and others is
definitely forbidden. Baha'u'llah says in the Glad Tidings: --

The sinner, when his heart is free from all save God,
must seek forgiveness from God alone. Confession before
the servants (i.e. before men) is not permissible, for it
is not the means or the cause of Divine Forgiveness. Such
confession before the creatures leads to one's humiliation
and abasement, and God -- exalted by His Glory -- does
not wish for the humiliation of His servants. Verily He is
<p85>
Compassionate and Beneficent. The sinner must, between
himself and God, beg for mercy from the Sea of Mercy
and implore pardon from the Heaven of Forgiveness.


Truthfulness and Honesty

Baha'u'llah says in the Tablet of Tarazat: --

Verily, Honesty is the door of tranquillity to all in the
world, and the sign of glory from the presence of the
Merciful One. Whosoever attains thereto has attained to
treasures of wealth and affluence. Honesty is the greatest
door to the security and tranquillity of mankind. The
stability of every affair always depends on it, and the
worlds of honor, glory and affluence are illumined by its
light. ...

O people of Baha! Honesty is the best garment for
your temples and the most splendid crown for your heads.
Adhere thereto by the Command of the Omnipotent
Commander.

Again He says: -- "The principle of faith is to lessen words
and to increase deeds. He who words exceed his acts, know
verily, that his nonbeing is better than his being, his death
better than his life."
Abdu'l-Baha says: --

Truthfulness is the foundation of all the virtues of
mankind. Without truthfulness, progress and success in
all of the worlds are impossible for a soul. When this holy
attribute is established in man, all the other divine
qualities will also become realized.

Let the light of truth and honesty shine from your
faces so that all may know that your word, in business or
pleasure, is a word to trust and be sure of. Forget self and
work for the whole. (Message to the London Baha'is,
October 1911).
<p86>
Self-Realization

Baha'u'llah constantly urges men to realize and give full
expression to the perfections latent within them--the true
inner self as distinguished from the limited outer self, which
at best is but the temple, and too often is the prison of the real
man. In the Hidden Words He says:--

O Son of Being!
With the hands of power I made thee and with the
fingers of strength I created thee; and within thee have
I placed the essence of My light. Be thou content with it
and seek naught else, for My work is perfect and My
command is binding. Question it not, nor have doubt
thereof.

O Son of Spirit!
I created thee rich, why dost thou bring thyself down
to poverty? Noble I made thee, wherewith dost thou abase
thyself? Out of the essence of knowledge I gave thee
being, why seekest thou enlightenment from anyone
beside Me? Out of the clay of love I molded thee, how
dost thou busy thyself with another? Turn thy sight unto
thyself, that thou mayest find Me standing within thee,
mighty, powerful and self-subsisting.

O My Servant!
Thou art even as a finely tempered sword concealed in
the darkness of its sheath and its value hidden from the
artificer's knowledge. Wherefore come forth from the
sheath of self and desire that thy worth may be made
resplendent and manifest unto all the world.

O My Friend!
Thou art the day-star of the heavens of My holiness,
let not the defilement of the world eclipse thy splendor.
Rend asunder the veil of heedlessness, that from behind
the clouds thou mayest emerge resplendent and array all
things with the apparel of life.
<p87>
The life to which Baha'u'llah calls His followers is surely
one of such nobility that in all the vast range of human possibility
there is nothing more lofty or beautiful to which man
could aspire. Realization of the spiritual self in ourselves
means realization of the sublime truth that we are from God
and to Him shall we return. This return to God is the glorious
goal of the Baha'i; but to attain this goal the only path is that
of obedience to His chosen Messengers, and especially to His
Messenger for the time in which we live, Baha'u'llah, the
prophet of the New Era.
<p88>
Prayer/6

Prayer is a ladder by which everyone may ascend to Heaven.
-- MUHAMMAD.


Conversation with God

"Prayer," says Abdu'l-Baha, "is conversation with God."
In order that God may make known His Mind and Will to men,
He must speak to them in a language which they can understand,
and this He does by the mouths of His Holy Prophets.
While these Prophets are alive in the body They speak with
men face to face and convey to them the Message of God,
and after Their death Their message continues to reach men's
minds through Their recorded sayings and writings. But this
is not the only way in which God can commune with and inspire those
whose hearts are seeking after truth, wherever they are, and
whatever their native race or tongue. By this language the
Manifestation continues to hold converse with the faithful
after His departure from the material world. Christ continued
to converse with and inspire His disciples after His crucifixion.
In fact He influenced them more powerfully than before; and
with other Prophets it has been the same. Abdu'l-Baha speaks
much of this spiritual language. He says, for instance: --

We should speak in the language of heaven -- in the
language of the spirit -- for there is a language of the spirit
and heart. It is as different from our language as our own
language is different from that of the animals, who express
themselves only by cries and sounds.
It is the language of the spirit which speaks to God.
When, in prayer, we are freed from all outward things and
<p89>
turn to God, then it is as if in our hearts we hear the voice
of God. Without words we speak, we communicate, we
converse with God and hear the answer. ... All of us,
when we attain to a truly spiritual condition, can hear the
Voice of God. (from a talk reported by Miss Ethel J.
Rosenberg).

Baha'u'llah declares that the higher spiritual truths can be
communicated only by means of this spiritual language. The
spoken or written word is quite inadequate. In a little book
called The Seven Valleys, in which He describes the journey
of travelers from the earthly dwelling to the Divine Home, He
says, in speaking of the more advanced stages of the journey: --

The tongue is unable to give an account of these, and
utterance falls exceedingly short. The pen is useless in this
court, and the ink gives no result but blackness. ...
Heart alone can communicate to heart the state of the
knower; this is not the work of a messenger, nor can it
be contained in letters.


The Devotional Attitude

In order that we may attain the spiritual condition in which
conversation with God becomes possible, Abdu'l-Baha
says: --

We must strive to attain to that condition by being
separated from all things and from the people of the world
and by turning to God alone. It will take some effort on
the part of man to attain to that condition, but he must
work for it, strive for it. We can attain to it by thinking
and caring less for material things and more for the
spiritual. The further we go from the one, the nearer we
are to the other. The choice is ours.
Our spiritual perception, our inward sight must be
opened, so that we can see the signs and traces of God's
spirit in everything. Everything can reflect to us the light
of the Spirit. (from a talk reported by Miss Ethel J.
Rosenberg).
<p90>
Baha'u'llah has written: -- "That seeker ... at the dawn
of every day ... should commune with God, and, with all
his soul, persevere in the quest of his Beloved. He should consume
every wayward thought from the flame of His loving
mention. ..." -- Gleaning from the Writings of Baha'u'llah,
p. 265.
In the same way, Abdu'l-Baha declares: --

When man allows the spirit, through his soul, to enlighten
his understanding, then does he contain all creation.
... But on the other hand, when man does not
open his mind and heart to the blessing of the spirit,
but turns his soul towards the material side, towards the
bodily part of his nature, then his he fallen from his high
place and he becomes inferior to the inhabitants of the
lower animal kingdom.

Again, Baha'u'llah writes: --

Deliver your souls, O people, from the bondage of self,
and purify them from all attachment to anything besides
Me. Remembrance of Me cleanseth all things from defilement,
could ye but perceive it. ...
Intone, O My servant, the verses of God that have been
received by thee, ... that the sweetness of thy melody
may kindle thine own soul, and attract the hearts of all
men. Whoso reciteth, in the privacy of his chamber, the
verses revealed by God, the scattering angels of the Almighty
shall scatter abroad the fragrance of the words uttered
by his mouth. ... -- Gleanings from the Writings of
Baha'u'llah, pp. 294-295.


Necessity for a Mediator

According to Abdu'l-Baha:--

A mediator is necessary between man and the Creator --
one who receives the full light of the Divine Splendor
and radiates it over the human world, as the earth's
atmosphere receives and diffuses the warmth of the
sun's rays.
<p91>
If we wish to pray, we must have some object on which
to concentrate. If we turn to God, we must direct our
hearts to a certain center. If man worships God otherwise
than through His Manifestation, he must first form a conception
of God, and that conception is created by his own
mind. As the finite cannot comprehend the Infinite, so
God is not to be comprehended in this fashion. That
which man conceives with his own mind he comprehends.
That which he can comprehend is not God. That conception
of God which a man forms for himself is but a
phantasm, an image, an imagination, an illusion. There
is no connection between such a conception and the
Supreme Being.
If a man wishes to know God, he must find Him in the
perfect mirror, Christ or Baha'u'llah. In either of these
mirrors he will see reflected the Sun of Divinity.
As we know the physical sun by its splendor, by its
light and heat, so we know God, the Spiritual Sun, when
He shines forth from the temple of Manifestation, by His
attributes of perfection, by the beauty of His qualities and
by the splendor of His light. (from a talk to Mr. Percy
Woodcock, at Akka, 1909).

Again He says:

Unless the Holy Spirit become intermediary, one cannot
attain directly to the bounties of God. Do not overlook
the obvious truth, for it is self-evident that a child
cannot be instructed without a teacher, and knowledge is
one of the bounties of God. The soil is not covered with
grass and vegetation without the rain of the cloud; therefore
the cloud is the intermediary between the divine
bounties and the soil. ... The light hath a center and if
one desire to seek it otherwise than from the center, one
can never attain to it. ... Turn thine attention to the
days of Christ; some people imagine that without the
Messianic outpourings it was possible to attain to truth,
but this very imagination became the cause of the
deprivation.
<p92>
A man who tries to worship God without turning to His
Manifestation is like a man in a dungeon trying through his
imagination to revel in the glories of the sunshine.


Prayer Indispensable and Obligatory

The use of prayer is enjoined upon Baha'is in no uncertain
terms. Baha'u'llah says in the Kitab-i-Aqdas: --

Chant (or recite) the Words of God every morning
and evening. The one who neglects this has not been faithful
to the Covenant of God and His agreement, and he
who turns away from it today is of those who have turned
away from God. Fear God, O my people! Let not too
much reading (of the Sacred Word) and actions by day or
night make you proud. To chant but one verse with joy
and gladness is better for you than reading all the Revelations
of the Omnipotent God with carelessness. Chant the
Tablets of God in such measure that ye be not overtaken
with fatigue and depression. Burden not the soul so as to
cause exhaustion and langour, but rather refresh it that
thus it may soar on the wings of Revelation to the Dawning-place
of proofs. This brings you nearer to God, were
ye of those who understand. -- Kitab-i-Aqdas

Abdu'l-Baha says to a correspondents: -- "O thou spiritual
friend! Know thou that prayer is indispensable and obligatory,
and man under no pretext whatever is excused therefrom unless
he be mentally unsound or an insurmountable obstacle prevent
him."
Another correspondent asked: "Why pray? What is the
wisdom thereof, for God has established everything and executes
all affairs after the best order -- therefore, what is the
wisdom in beseeching and supplicating and in stating one's
wants and seeking help?"
Abdu'l-Baha replied: --

Know thou, verily it is becoming in a weak one to
supplicate to the Strong One, and it behooveth a seeker of
<p93>
bounty to beseech the Glorious Bountiful One. When one
supplicates to his Lord, turns to Him and seeks bounty
from His Ocean, this supplication brings light to his heart,
illumination to his sight, life to his soul and exaltation to
his being.
During thy supplications to God and thy reciting, "Thy
Name is my healing," consider how thine heart is cheered,
thy soul delighted by the spirit of the love of God, and thy
mind attracted to the Kingdom of God! By these attractions
one's ability and capacity increase. When the vessel
is enlarged the water increases, and when the thirst grows
the bounty of the cloud becomes agreeable to the taste of
man. This is the mystery of supplication and the wisdom
of stating one's wants. (from a tablet to an American
believer, translated by Ali Kuli Khan, October
1908).

Baha'u'llah has revealed three daily obligatory prayers. The
believer is free to choose any one of these three prayers, but
is under the obligation of reciting one of them, and in the
manner Baha'u'llah has prescribed.


Congregational Prayer

The prayers which Baha'u'llah has ordained as a daily obligation
for Baha'is are to be said privately. Only in the case of
the Prayer for the Dead has Baha'u'llah commanded congregational
prayer, and the only requirement is that the believer who
reads it aloud, and all others present, should stand. This
differs from the Islamic practice of congregational prayer in
which the believers stand in rows behind an imam, who leads
the prayer, which is prohibited in the Baha'i Faith.
These ordinances, which are in accordance with Baha'u'llah's
abolition of professional clergy, do not mean that He
attached no value to meetings for worship. Regarding the value
of gathering for prayer, Abdu'l-Baha spoke as follows: --

Man may say: "I can pray to God whenever I wish,
when the feelings of my heart are drawn to God; when I
<p94>
am in the wilderness, when I am in the city, or wherever
I may be. Why should I go where others are gathered
upon a special day, at a certain hour, to unite my prayers
with theirs, when I may not be in a frame of mind for
praying?"
To think in this way is useless imagination, for where
many are gathered together their force is greater. Separate
soldier fighting alone and individually have not the
force of a united army. If all the soldier in this spiritual
war gather together, then their united spiritual feelings
help each other, and their prayers become acceptable.
(from notes taken by Miss Ethel J. Rosenberg).


Prayer the Language of Love

To someone who asked whether prayer was necessary, since
presumably God knows the wishes of all hearts, Abdu'l-Baha
replied: --

If one friend loves another, is it not natural that he
should wish to say so? Though he knows that that friend is
aware of his love, does he still not wish to tell him of it? ...
It is true that God knows the wishes of all hearts; but the
impulse to pray is a natural one, springing from man's love
to God.
... Prayer need not be in words, but rather in thought
and action. But if this love and this desire are lacking, it is
useless to try to force them. Words without love mean nothing.
If a person talks to you as an unpleasant duty, finding
neither love nor enjoyment in the meeting, do you wish to
converse with him? (article in Fortnightly Review, Jul.-Dec.
1911, p. 784 by Miss E. S. Stevens).

In another talk He said: --

In the highest prayer, men pray only for the love of
God, not because they fear Him or hell, or hope for
bounty or heaven. ... When a man falls in love with a
human being, it is impossible for him to keep from mentioning
<p95>
the name of his beloved. How much more difficult
is it to keep from mentioning the Name of God when one
has come to love Him. ... The spiritual man finds no
delight in anything save in commemoration of God. (from
notes of Miss Alma Robertson and other pilgrims,
November and December 1900).


Deliverance from Calamities

According to the teaching of the Prophets, disease and all
other forms of calamity are due to disobedience to the Divine
Commands. Even disasters due to floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes
are attributed by Abdu'l-Baha indirectly to this cause.
The suffering that follows error is not vindictive, however,
but educative and remedial. It is God's Voice proclaiming to
man that he has strayed from the right path. If the suffering is
terrible, it is only because the danger of wrongdoing is more
terrible, for "the wages of sin is death."
Just as calamity is due to disobedience, so deliverance
from calamity can be obtained only be obedience. There is no
chance or uncertainty about the matter. Turning from God
inevitably brings disaster, and turning to God as inevitably
brings blessing.
As the whole of humanity is one organism, however, the
welfare of each individual depends not only on his own behavior,
but on that of his neighbors. If one does wrong, all
suffer in greater or less degree; while if one does well, all benefit.
Each has to bear his neighbor's burdens, to some extent,
and the best of mankind are those who bear the biggest burdens.
The saints have always suffered abundantly; the Prophets
have suffered superlatively. Baha'u'llah says in the Book of
Iqan:--"You must undoubtedly have been informed of the
tribulations, the poverty, the ills, and the degradation that
have befallen every Prophet of God and His companions. You
must have heard how the heads of their followers were sent
as presents unto different cities. ..." -- Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 73.
This is not because the saints and Prophets have merited
<p96>
punishment above other men. Nay, they often suffer for the
sins of others, and choose to suffer, for the sake of others. Their
concern is for the world's welfare, not for their own. The
prayer of the true lover of humanity is not that he, as an individual,
may escape poverty, ill-health or disaster, but that
mankind may be saved from ignorance and error and the ills
that inevitably flow from them. If he wishes health or wealth
for himself, it is in order that he may serve the Kingdom, and
if physical health and wealth are denied him, he accepts his
lot with "radiant acquiescence," well knowing that there is a
right wisdom in whatever befalls him in the Path of God.
Abdu'l-Baha says: --

Grief and sorrow do not come to us by chance; they
are sent by the Divine Mercy for our perfecting. When
grief and sorrow come, then will a man remember his
Father Who is in Heaven, Who is able to deliver him from
his humiliations. The more a man is chastened, the greater
is the harvest of spiritual virtues shown forth by him.

At first sight it may seem very unjust that the innocent
should suffer for the guilty, but Abdu'l-Baha assures us that
the injustice is only apparent and that, in the long run, perfect
justice prevails. He writes: --

As to the subject of babes and children and weak ones
who are afflicted by the hands of the oppressors ... for
those souls there is a recompense in another world ...
that suffering is the greatest mercy of God. Verily that
mercy of the Lord is far better than all the comfort of
this world and the growth and development appertaining
to this place of mortality.


Prayer and Natural Law

Many find a difficulty in believing in the efficacy of prayer
because they think that answers to prayer would involve arbitrary
interference with the laws of nature. An analogy may
<p97>
help to remove this difficulty. If a magnet be held over some
iron filings the latter will fly upwards and cling to it, but this
involves no interference with the law of gravitation. The force
of gravity continues to act on the filings just as before. What
has happened is that a superior force has been brought into
play -- another force whose action is just as regular and calculable
as that of gravity. The Baha'i view is that prayer brings
into action higher forces, as yet comparatively little known;
but there seems no reason to believe that these forces are
more arbitrary in their action than the physical forces. The
difference is that they have not yet been fully studied and experimentally
investigated, and their action appears mysterious
and incalculable because of our ignorance.
Another difficulty which some find perplexing is that prayer
seems too feeble a force to produce the great results often
claimed to it. Analogy may serve to clear up this difficulty
also. A small force, when applied to the sluice gate of a
reservoir, may release and regulate an enormous flow of water-power,
or, when applied to the steering gear of an ocean liner,
may control the course of the huge vessel. In the Baha'i view,
the power that brings about answers to prayer is the inexhaustible
Power of God. The part of the suppliant is only to exert
the feeble force necessary to release the flow or determine the
course of the Divine Bounty, which is ever ready to serve those
who have learned how to draw upon it.


Baha'i Prayers

Baha'u'llah and Abdu'l-Baha have revealed innumerable
prayers for the use of Their followers at various times and for
various purposes. The greatness of conception and depth of
spirituality revealed in these utterances must impress every
thoughtful student, but only by making their use a regular and
important part of one's daily life can their significance be fully
appreciated and their power for good realized. Unfortunately,
considerations of space prevent our giving more than a very
few short specimens of these prayers. For further examples the
reader must be referred to other works.
<p98>
O my Lord! Make Thy beauty to be my food, and Thy
presence my drink, and Thy pleasure my hope, and praise
of Thee my action, and remembrance of Thee my companion,
and the power of Thy sovereignty my succorer,
and Thy habitation my home, and my dwelling-place the
seat Thou hast sanctified from the limitations imposed
upon them who are shut out as by a veil from Thee.
Thou art, verily, the Almighty, the All-Glorious, the
Most Powerful. -- BAHA'U'LLAH.

I bear witness, O my God, that Thou hast created Me to
know Thee and to worship Thee. I testify, at this moment,
to my powerlessness and to Thy might, to my poverty and
to Thy wealth.
There is none other God but Thee, the Help in Peril, the
Self-Subsisting. -- BAHA'U'LLAH.

O my God! O my God! United the hearts of Thy servants
and reveal to them Thy great purpose. May they
follow Thy commandments and abide in Thy law. Help
them, O God, in their endeavor, and grant them strength
to serve Thee. O God! leave them not to themselves, but
guide their steps by the light of knowledge, and cheer
their hearts by Thy love. Verily, Thou art their Helper
and their Lord. -- BAHA'U'LLAH.

O Thou kind Lord! Thou has created all humanity
from the same stock. Thou hast decreed that all shall belong
to the same household. In Thy Holy Presence they
are all Thy servants, and all mankind are sheltered beneath
Thy Tabernacle; all have gathered together at Thy
Table of Bounty; all are illumined through the light of Thy
Providence.
O God! Thou art kind to all, Thou hast provided for
all, dost shelter all, conferrest life upon all, Thou hast endowed
each and all with talents and faculties, and all are
submerged in the Ocean of Thy Mercy.
O Thou kind Lord! United all. Let the religions agree
and make the nations one, so that they may see each other
<p99>
as one family and the whole earth as one home. May they
all live together in perfect harmony.
O God! Raise aloft the banner of the oneness of
mankind.
O God! Establish the Most Great Peace.
Cement Thou, O God, the hearts together.
O Thou kind Father, O God! Gladden our hearts
through the fragrance of Thy love. Brighten our eyes
through the Light of Thy Guidance. Delight our ears with
the melody of Thy Word, and shelter us all in the Stronghold
of Thy Providence.
Thou art the Might and Powerful. Thou art the Forgiving
and Thou art the One Who overlookest the shortcomings
of all mankind! -- ABDU'L-BAHA.

O Thou Almighty! I am a sinner, but Thou art the
Forgiver! I am full of shortcomings, but Thou art the
Compassionate! I am in darkness of error, but Thou
art the Light of Pardon!
Therefore, O Thou Benevolent God, forgive my sings,
grant Thy Bestowals, overlook my faults, provide for me a
shelter, immerse me in the Fountain of Thy Patience and
heal me of all sickness and disease.
Purify and sanctify me. Give me a portion from the
outpouring of holiness, so that sorrow and sadness may
vanish, joy and happiness descend, despondency and
hopelessness be changed into cheerfulness and trustfulness,
and courage take the place of fear.
Verily Thou art the Forgiver, the Compassionate, and
Thou art the Generous, the Beloved! -- ABDU'L-BAHA.

O compassionate God! Thanks be to Thee for Thou
hast awakened and made me conscious. Thou hast given
me a seeing eye and favored me with a hearing ear; hast
led me to Thy Kingdom and guided me to Thy Path.
Thou hast shown me the right way and caused me to enter
the Ark of Deliverance. O God! Keep me steadfast and
make me firm and staunch. Protect me from violent tests
and preserve and shelter me in the strongly fortified fortress
of Thy Covenant and Testament. Thou art the
<p100>
Powerful! Thou art the Seeing! Thou art the Hearing! O
Thou the Compassionate God! Bestow upon me a heart
which, like unto glass, may be illumined with the light of
Thy love, and confer upon me a thought which may
change this world into a rose-garden through the spiritual
bounty. Thou art the Compassionate, the Merciful! Thou
art the Great Beneficent God! -- ABDU'L-BAHA.

Baha'i prayer is not, however, confined to the use of prescribed
forms, important as those are. Baha'u'llah teaches that
one's whole life should be a prayer, that work done in the right
spirit is worship, that every thought, word and deed devoted to
the Glory of God and the good of one's fellows is prayer, in the
truest sense of the world.+F1
------------------------
1. On the subject of Intercessory Prayer, see Chapter 11.
<p101>
Health and Healing/7


Turning the face towards God brings healing to the body,
the mind and the soul. -- ABDU'L-BAHA.


Body and Soul

According to the Baha'i teaching the human body serves a
temporary purpose in the development of the soul, and, when
that purpose has been served, is laid aside; just as the eggshell
serves a temporary purpose in the development of the chick,
and, when that purpose has been served, is broken and discarded.
Abdu'l-Baha says that the physical body is incapable
of immortality, for it is a composite thing, built up of atoms
and molecules, and, like all things that are composed, must, in
time, become decomposed.
The body should be the servant of the soul, never its master,
but it should be a willing, obedient and efficient servant, and
should be treated with the consideration which a good servant
deserves. If it is not properly treated, disease and disaster result,
with injurious consequences to master as well as servant.


Oneness of All Life

The essential oneness of all the myriad forms and grades of
life is one of the fundamental teachings of Baha'u'llah. Our
physical health is so linked up with our mental, moral and
spiritual health, and also with the individual and social health
of our fellowmen, nay, even with the life of the animals and
plants, that each of these is affected by the others to a far
greater extent than is usually realized.
There is no command of the Prophet, therefore, to whatever
department of life it may primarily refer, which does not concern
bodily health. Certain of the teachings, however, have a
<p102>
more direct bearing on physical health than others, and these
we may now proceed to examine.


Simple Life

Abdu'l-Baha says: --

Economy is the foundation of human prosperity. The
spendthrift is always in trouble. Prodigality on the part of
any person is an unpardonable sin. We must never live on
others like a parasitic plant. Every person must have a
profession, whether it be literary or manual, and must live
a clean, manly, honest life, an example of purity to be
imitated by others. It is more kingly to be satisfied with a
crust of stale bread than to enjoy a sumptuous dinner of
many courses, the money for which comes out of the
pockets of others. The mind of a contented person is always
peaceful and his heart at rest. -- Baha'i Scriptures,
p. 453.

Animal food is not forbidden, but Abdu'l-Baha says: --
"Fruits and grains [will be the foods of the future]. The time
will come when meat will no longer be eaten. Medical science
is only in its infancy, yet it has shown that our natural diet is
that which grows out of the ground." -- Ten Days in the Light of
Akka, by Julie M. Grundy.


Alcohol and Narcotics

The use of narcotics and intoxicants of any kind, except as
remedies in case of illness, is strictly forbidden by Baha'u'llah.


Enjoyments

The Baha'i teaching is based on moderation, not as asceticism.
Enjoyment of the good and beautiful things of life, both
material and spiritual, is not only encouraged but enjoined.
Baha'u'llah says: "Deprive not yourselves of that which has
been created for you." Again He says: "It is incumbent upon
<p103>
you that exultation and glad tidings be manifest in your faces."

Abdu'l-Baha says: --

All that has been created is for man, who is at the apex
of creation, and he must be thankful for the divine bestowals.
All material things are for us, so that through our
gratitude we may learn to understand life as a divine benefit.
If we are disgusted with life we are ingrates, for our
material and spiritual existence are the outward evidences
of the divine mercy. Therefore we must be happy and
spend our time in praises, appreciating all things.

Asked whether the Baha'i prohibition of gambling applies
to game of every description, Abdu'l-Baha replied: --

No, some games are innocent, and if pursued for pastime
there is no harm. But there is danger that pastime
may degenerate into waste of time. Waste of time is not acceptable
in the Cause of God. But recreation which may
improve the bodily powers, as exercise, is desirable. -- A
Heavenly Vista, p. 9.


Cleanliness

Baha'u'llah says, in the Book of Aqdas: --

Be the essence of cleanliness among mankind ... under
all circumstances conform yourselves to refined manners ...
let no trace of uncleanliness appear on your
clothes. ... Immerse yourselves in pure water; a water
which hath been used is not allowable. ... Verily We
have desired to see in you the manifestations of Paradise
on earth, so that there may be diffused from you that
whereat the hearts of the favored ones shall
rejoice. -- Kitab-i-Aqdas.

Mirza Abu'l-Fadl, in his book, Baha'i Proofs (p. 89),
points out the extreme importance of these commands, more
especially in some parts of the East, where water of the foulest
description is often used for household purposes, for bathing
<p104>
and even for drinking, and horribly insanitary conditions
abound, causing a vast amount of preventable disease and misery.
These conditions, often supposed to be sanctioned by the
prevailing religion, can be changed, among Orientals, only by
the commandment of one who is believed to have Divine authority.
In many parts of the Western Hemisphere, too, a wonderful
transformation would result were cleanliness accepted
not only as next to godliness, but as an essential part of
godliness.


Effect of Obedience to Prophetic Commands

The bearing on health of these commands relating to the
simple life, hygiene, abstinence from alcohol and opium, etcetera,
is too obvious to call for much comment, although
their vital importance is apt to be greatly underestimated.
Were they to be generally observed, most of the infectious diseases
and a good many others would soon vanish from among
men. The amount of illness caused by neglect of simple hygienic
precautions and by indulgence in alcohol and opium is
prodigious. Moreover, obedience to these commands would
not only affect health, but would have an enormous effect for
good on character and conduct. Alcohol and opium affect a
man's conscience long before they affect his gait or cause obvious
bodily disease, so that the moral spiritual gain from
abstinence would be even greater than the physical. With regard
to cleanliness, Abdu'l-Baha says: -- "External cleanliness,
although it is but a physical thing, has great influence
upon spirituality. ... The fact of having a pure and spotless
body exercises an influence upon the spirit of man."
Were the commands of the Prophets concerning chastity in
sexual relations generally observed, another fertile cause of
disease would be eliminated. The loathsome venereal diseases,
which wreck the health of so many thousands today, innocent
as well as guilty, babes as well as parents, would very soon be
entirely a thing of the past.
<p105>
Were the commands of the Prophets concerning justice, mutual
aid, loving one's neighbor as oneself, carried out, how
could overcrowding, sweated labor and sordid poverty on the
one hand, together with self-indulgence, idleness and sordid
luxury on the other, continue to work mental, moral and
physical ruin?
Simple obedience to the hygienic and moral commands of
Moses, Buddha, Christ, Muhammad or Baha'u'llah would do
more in the way of preventing disease than all the doctors and
all the public health regulations in the world have been able to
accomplish. In fact, it seems certain that were such obedience
general, good health would also become general. Instead of
lives being blighted by disease of cut off in infancy, youth or
prime, as so frequently happens now, men would live to a ripe
old age, like sound fruits that mature and mellow ere they drop
from the bough.


The Prophet as Physician

We live in a world, however, where from time immemorial
obedience to the commands of the Prophets has been the exception
rather than the rule; where love of self has been a more
prevalent motive than love of God; where limited and party
interests have taken precedence of the interests of humanity as
a whole; where material possessions and sensual pleasures have
been preferred to the social and spiritual welfare of mankind.
Hence have arisen fierce competition and conflict, oppression
and tyranny, extremes of wealth and poverty -- all those conditions
which breed disease, mental and physical. As a consequence,
the whole tree of humanity is sick, and every leaf on
the tree shares in the general sickness. Even the purest and
holiest have to suffer for the sins of others. Healing is needed
-- healing of humanity as a whole, of nations and of individuals.
So Baha'u'llah, like His inspired predecessors, not only
shows how health is to be maintained, but also how it may be
recovered when lost. He comes as the Great Physician, the
Healer of the world's sicknesses, both of body and of mind.
<p106>
Healing by Material Means

In the Western world of today there is evident a remarkable
revival of belief in the efficacy of healing by mental and spiritual
means. Indeed many, in their revolt against the materialistic
ideals about disease and its treatment which prevailed in the
nineteenth century, have gone to the opposite extreme of denying
that material remedies or hygienic methods have any value
whatsoever. Baha'u'llah recognizes the value of both material
and spiritual remedies. He teaches that the science and art of
healing must be developed, encouraged and perfected, so that
all means of healing may be used to the best advantage, each in
its appropriate sphere. When members of Baha'u'llah's own
family were sick, a professional physician was called in, and
this practice is recommended to His followers. He says:
"Should ye be attacked by illness or disease, consult skillful
physicians." -- Kitab-i-Aqdas.
This is quite in accordance with the Baha'i attitude towards
science and art generally. All sciences and arts which are for
the benefit of mankind, even in a material way, are to be esteemed
and promoted. Through science man becomes the master
of material things; through ignorance he remains their slave.
Baha'u'llah writes: --

Do not neglect medical treatment when it is necessary,
but leave it off when health has been restored. Treat disease
through diet, by preference, refraining from the use
of drugs; and if you find what is required in a single herb,
do not resort to a compound medicament. ... Abstain
from drugs when the health is good, but administer
them when necessary. -- Tablet to a Physician

In one of His Tablets Abdu'l-Baha says: --

O seeker after truth! There are two ways of healing
sickness, material means and spiritual means. The first
way is through the use of material remedies. The second
<p107>
consists in praying to God and in turning to Him. Both
means should be used and practiced. ... Moreover,
they are not incompatible, and you should accept the
physical remedies as coming from the mercy and favor
of God Who has revealed and made manifest medical
knowledge, so that His servants may profit by this kind
of treatment also.

He teaches that, were our natural tastes and instincts not
vitiated by foolish and unnatural modes of living, they would
become reliable guides in the choice both of appropriate diet
and of medicinal fruits, herbs and other remedies, as is the
case with wild animals. In an interesting talk on healing, recorded
in Some Answered Questions (p. 298), He says in
conclusion: --

It is therefore evident that it is possible to cure by
foods, aliments, and fruits; but as to-day the science of
medicine is imperfect, this fact is not yet fully grasped.
When the science of medicine reaches perfection, treatment
will be given by foods, aliments, fragrant fruits, and
vegetables, and by various waters, hot and cold in
temperature.

Even when the means of healing are material, the power
that heals is really Divine, for the attributes of the herb of mineral
are from the Divine Bestowals. "All depends upon God.
Medicine is merely an outward form or means by which we
obtain heavenly healing."


Healing by Nonmaterial Means

He teaches that there are also many methods of healing
without material means. There is a "contagion of health," as
well as a contagion of disease, although the former is very slow
and has a small effect, while the latter is often violent and
rapid in its action.
Much more powerful effects result from the patient's own
<p108>
mental states, and "suggestion" may play an important part in
determining these states. Fear, anger, worry, et cetera, are very
prejudicial to health, while hope, love, joy, et cetera, are
correspondingly beneficial.

Thus Baha'u'llah says: --

Verily the most necessary thing is contentment under
all circumstances; by this one is preserved from morbid
conditions and lassitude. Yield not to grief and sorrow:
they cause the greatest misery. Jealousy consumeth
the body and anger doth burn the liver: avoid these two as
you would a lion. -- Tablet to a Physician.

And Abdu'l-Baha says: -- "Joy gives us wings. In times of
joy our strength is more vital, our intellect keener. ... But
when sadness visits us our strength leaves us."
Of another form of mental healing Abdu'l-Baha writes that
it results: --

from the entire concentration of the mind of a strong person
upon a sick person, when the latter expects with all
his concentrated faith that a cure will be effected from the
spiritual power of the strong person, to such an extent
that there will be a cordial connection between the strong
person and the invalid. The strong person makes every
effort to cure the sick patient, and the sick patient is then
sure of receiving a cure. From the effect of these mental
impressions an excitement of the nerves is produced, and
this impression and this excitement of the nerves will become
the cause of the recovery of the sick person. -- Some
Answered Questions, p. 294.

All these methods of healing, however, are limited in their
effects, and may fail to effect a cure in severe maladies.


The Power of the Holy Spirit

The most potent means of healing is the Power of the Holy
Spirit.
<p109>
... This does not depend on contact, nor on sight, nor
upon presence. ... Whether the disease be light or severe,
whether there be a contact of bodies or not, whether
a personal connection be established between the sick person
and the healer or not, this healing takes place through
the power of the Holy Spirit. -- Some Answered Questions,
p. 295.

In a talk with Miss Ethel Rosenberg, in October 1904,
Abdu'l-Baha said: --

The healing that is by the power of the Holy Spirit
needs no special concentration or contact. It is through
the wish or desire and the prayer of the holy person. The
one who is sick may be in the East and the healer in the
West, and they may not have been acquainted with each
other, but as soon as that holy person turns his heart to
God and begins to pray, the sick one is healed. This is a
gift belonging to the Holy Manifestations and those who
are in the highest station.

Of this nature, apparently, were the works of healing performed
by Christ and His apostles, and similar works of healing
have been attributed to holy men in all ages. Both
Baha'u'llah and Abdu'l-Baha were gifted with this power, and
similar powers are promised to Their faithful followers.


Attitude of the Patient

In order that the power of spiritual healing may be brought
fully into operation certain requirements are necessary on the
part of the patient, of the healer, of the patient's friends and of
the community at large.
On the part of the patient the prime requisite is, turning with
all the heart to God, with implicit trust both in His Power and
in His Will to do whatever is best. To an American lady, in
August 1912, Abdu'l-Baha said: --

All of these ailments will pass away and you will receive
perfect physical and spiritual health. ... Let your
<p110>
heart be confident and assured that through the Bounty of
Baha'u'llah, through the Favor of Baha'u'llah, everything
will become pleasant for you. ... But you must turn your
face wholly towards the Abha (All-Glorious) Kingdom, giving
perfect attention -- the same attention that Mary Magdalene
gave to His Holiness Christ -- and I assure you that
you will get physical and spiritual health. You are
worthy. I give you the glad tidings that you are worthy
because your heart is pure. ... Be confident! Be happy!
Be rejoiced! Be hopeful!

Although in this particular case Abdu'l-Baha guaranteed
the attainment of sound physical health, He does not do so in
every case, even where there is strong faith on the part of the
individual. To a pilgrim in Akka He said: --

The prayers which were written for the purpose of
healing are both for the spiritual and material healing. ...
If healing is best for the patient, surely it will be granted.
For some who are sick, healing for them shall be the cause
of other ills. Thus it is that Wisdom does not decree the
answer to some prayers.
O maid-servant of God. The Power of the Holy Spirit
heals both material and spiritual ills. -- Daily Lessons Received
at Akka, p. 95.

Again He writes to one who is ill: --

Verily the Will of God acts sometimes in a way for
which mankind is unable to find out the reason. The
causes and reasons shall appear. Trust in God and confide
in Him, and resign thyself to the Will of God. Verily thy
God is affectionate, compassionate and merciful ... and
will cause His Mercy to descend upon Thee.

He teaches that spiritual health is conducive to physical
health, but physical health depends upon many factors, some
of which are outside the control of the individual. Even the
most exemplary spiritual attitude on the part of the individual,
<p111>
therefore, may not ensure physical health in every case. The
holiest men and women sometimes suffer illness.
Nevertheless, the beneficent influence on bodily health
which results from a right spiritual attitude is far more potent
than is generally imagined, and is sufficient to banish ill-health
in a large proportion of cases. Abdu'l-Baha wrote to an English
lady: -- "You have written about the weakness of your
body. I ask from the Bounties of Baha'u'llah that your spirit
may become strong, that through the strength of your spirit
your body also may be healed."
Again He says: --

God hath bestowed upon man such wonderful powers,
that he might ever look upward, and receive, among other
gifts, healing from His divine Bounty. But alas! man is not
grateful for this supreme good, but sleeps the sleep of
negligence, being careless of the great mercy which God
has shown towards him, turning his face away from the
Light and going on his way in darkness.


The Healer

The power of spiritual healing is doubtless common to all
mankind in greater or less degree, but, just as some men are
endowed with exceptional talent for mathematics or music, so
others appear to be endowed with exceptional aptitude for
healing. These are the people who ought to make the healing
art their lifework. Unfortunately, so materialistic has the world
become in recent centuries that the very possibility of spiritual
healing has to a large extent been lost sight of. Like all other
talents the gift of healing has to be recognized, trained and
educated in order that it may attain its highest development
and power, and there are probably thousands in the world today,
richly dowered with natural aptitude for healing, in whom
this precious gift is lying dormant and inactive. When the potentialities
of mental and spiritual treatment are more fully
realized, the healing art will be transformed and ennobled and
<p112>
its efficacy immeasurably increased. And when this new knowledge
and power in the healer are combined with lively faith
and hope on the part of the patient, wonderful results may be
looked for.

In God must be our trust. There is no God but Him, the
Healer, the Knower, the Helper. ... Nothing in earth or
heaven is outside the grasp of God.
O physician! In treating the sick, first mention the
name of Thy God, the Possessor of the Day of Judgment,
and then use what God hath destined for the healing of
His creatures. By My Life! The physician who has drunk
from the Wine of My Love, his visit is healing, and his
breath is mercy and hope. Cling to him for the welfare of
the constitution. He is confirmed by God in his treatment.
This knowledge (of the healing art) is the most important
of all the sciences, for it is the greatest means from
God, the Life-giver to the dust, for preserving the bodies
of all people, and He has put it in the forefront of all sciences
and wisdoms. For this is the day when you must
arise for My Victory.
Thy Name is my healing, O my God, and remembrance
of Thee is my remedy. Nearness to Thee is my
hope, and love for Thee is my companion. Thy mercy to
me is my healing and my succor in both this world and
the world to come. Thou, verily, art the All-Bountiful,
the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. -- BAHA'U'LLAH, Tablet
to a Physician.

Abdu'l-Baha writes: --

He who is filled with love of Baha, and forgets all
things, the Holy Spirit will be heard from his lips and the
spirit of life will fill his heart. ... Words will issue from
his lips in strands of pearls, and all sickness and disease
will be healed by the laying on of the hands.

O thou pure and spiritual one! Turn thou toward God
with thy heart beating with His love, devoted to His
<p113>
praise, gazing towards His Kingdom and seeking help
from His Holy Spirit in a state of ecstasy, rapture, love,
yearning, joy and fragrance. God will assist thee, through
a spirit from His Presence, to heal sickness and disease.
Continue in healing hearts and bodies and seek healing
for sick persons by turning unto the Supreme Kingdom
and by setting the heart upon obtaining healing through
the power of the Greatest Name and by the spirit of the
Love of God.


How All Can Help

The work of healing the sick, however, is a matter that concerns
not the patient and the practitioner only, but everyone.
All must help, by sympathy and service, by right living and
right thinking, and especially by prayer, for of all remedies
prayer is the most potent. "Supplication and prayer on behalf
of others," says Abdu'l-Baha, "will surely be effective." The
friends of the patient have a special responsibility, for their influence,
either for good or ill, is most direct and powerful. In
how many cases of sickness the issue depends mainly on the
ministrations of parents, friends or neighbors of the helpless
sufferer!
Even the members of the community at large have an influence
in every case of sickness. In individual cases that influence
may not appear great, yet in the mass the effect is potent.
Everyone is affected by the social "atmosphere" in which
he lives, by the general prevalence of faith or materialism, of
virtue or vice, of cheerfulness of depression; and each individual
has his share in determining the state of that social "atmosphere."
It may not be possible for everyone, in the present state
of the world, to attain to perfect health, but it is possible for
everyone to become a "willing channel" for the health-giving
power of the Holy Spirit and thus to exert a healing, helpful
influence both on his own body and on all with whom he comes
in contact.
Few duties are impressed on Baha'is more repeatedly and
emphatically than that of healing the sick, and many beautiful
<p114>
prayers for healing have been revealed by both Baha'u'llah and
Abdu'l-Baha.


The Golden Age

Baha'u'llah gives the assurance that, through harmonious
cooperation of patients, healers and the community in general,
and by appropriate use of the various means to health,
material, mental and spiritual, the Golden Age may be realized,
when, by the Power of God, "all sorrow will be turned
into joy, and all disease into health." Abdu'l-Baha says that
"when the Divine Message is understood, all troubles will vanish."
Again He says: --

When the material world and the divine world are well
correlated, when the hearts become heavenly and the aspirations
pure, perfect connection shall take place. Then
shall this power produce a perfect manifestation. Physical
and spiritual diseases will then receive absolute healing.


Right Use of Health

In concluding this chapter it will be well to recall Abdu'l-Baha's
teaching as to the right use of physical health. In one of
His Tablets to the Baha'is of Washington He says: --

If the health and well-being of the body be expended
in the path of the Kingdom, this is very acceptable and
praiseworthy; and if it be expended to the benefit of the
human world in general -- even though it be to their material
(or bodily) benefit -- and be a means of doing good,
that is also acceptable. But if the health and welfare of
man be spent in sensual desires, in a life on the animal
plane, and in devilish pursuits -- then disease were better
than such health; nay, death itself were preferable to such
a life. If thou art desirous of health, wish thou health for
serving the Kingdom. I hope that thou mayest attain perfect
insight, inflexible resolution, complete health, and
<p115>
spiritual and physical strength in order that thou mayest
drink from the fountain of eternal life and be assisted by
the spirit of divine confirmation.
<p116>
Religious Unity/8

O ye that dwell on earth! The distinguishing feature that marketh
the preeminent character of this Supreme Revelation consisteth
in that We have, on the one hand, blotted out from the
pages of God's book whatsoever hath been the cause of strife, of
malice and mischief amongst the children of men, and have, on
the other, laid down the essential prerequisites of concord, of understanding,
of complete and enduring unity. Well is it with
them that keep My statutes. -- BAHA'U'LLAH, Tablet of the World.


Sectarianism in the Nineteenth Century

Never, perhaps, did the world seem farther away from religious
unity than in the nineteenth century. For many centuries had
the great religious communities -- the Zoroastrian, Mosaic,
Buddhist, Christian, Muhammadan and others -- been existing
side by side, but instead of blending together into a harmonious
whole they had been at constant enmity and strife,
each against the others. Not only so, but each had become split
up, by division after division, into an increasing number of
sects which were often bitterly opposed to each other. Yet
Christ had said: "By this shall all men know that ye are my
disciples, if ye have love one to another, " and Muhammad had
said: "This your religion is the one religion. ... To you hath
God prescribed the faith which He commanded unto Noah,
and which We have revealed unto thee, and which We commanded
unto Abraham and Moses and Jesus saying: `Observe
this faith, and be not divided into sects therein!'" The Founder
of every one of the great religions had called His followers to
love and unity, but in every case the aim of the Founder was
to a large extent lost sight of in a welter of intolerance and
bigotry, formalism and hypocrisy, corruption and misrepresentation,
schism and contention. The aggregate number of
more or less hostile sects in the world was probably greater at
<p117>
the commencement of the Baha'i era than at any previous period
in human history. It seemed as if humanity at that time
were experimenting with every possible kind of religious belief,
with every possible sort of ritual and ceremonial observance,
with every possible variety of moral code.
At the same time an increasing number of men were
devoting their energies to fearless investigation and critical examination
of the laws of nature and the foundations of belief.
New scientific knowledge was being rapidly acquired and new
solutions were being found for many of the problems of life.
The development of inventions such as steamship and railway,
postal system and press, greatly aided the diffusion of ideas
and the fertilizing contact of widely different types of thought
and life.
The so-called "conflict between religion and science" became
a fierce battle. In the Christian world Biblical criticism
combined with physical science to dispute, and to some extent
to refute, the authority of the Bible, an authority that for centuries
had been the generally accepted basis of belief. A rapidly
increasing proportion of the population became skeptical
about the teachings of the churches. A large number even of
religious priests secretly or openly entertained doubts or reservations
regarding the creeds adhered to by their respective
denominations.
This ferment and flux of opinion, with increasing recognition
of the inadequacy of the old orthodoxies and dogmas, and
groping and striving after fuller knowledge and understanding,
were not confined to Christian countries, but were manifest,
more or less, and in different forms, among the people of all
countries and religions.


The Message of Baha'u'llah

It was when this state of conflict and confusion was at its
height, that Baha'u'llah sounded His great trumpet call to
humanity: --

That all nations should become one in faith and all
men as brothers; that the bonds of affection and unity between
<p118>
the sons of men should be strengthened; that diversity
of religion should cease, and differences of race be
annulled. ... These strifes and this bloodshed and discord
must cease, and all men be as one kindred and one
family. ... (words spoken to Professor Browne).

It is a glorious message, but how are its proposals to be carried
into effect? Prophets have preached, poets have sung and
saints have prayed about these things for thousands of years,
but diversities of religion have not ceased nor have strife and
bloodshed and discord been annulled. What is there to show
that now the miracle is to be accomplished? Are there any new
factors in the situation? Is not human nature the same as it
ever was, and will it not continue to be the same while the
world lasts? If two people want the same thing, or two nations,
will they not fight for it in the future as they have done in the
past? If Moses, Buddha, Christ and Muhammad failed to
achieve world unity will Baha'u'llah succeed? If all previous
faiths become corrupted and rent asunder into sects will not
the Baha'i faith share the same fate? Let us see what answer
the Baha'i teachings give to these and similar questions.


Can Human Nature Change?

Education and religion are alike based on the assumption
that it is possible to change human nature. In fact, it requires
but little investigation to show that the one thing we can say
with certainty about any living thing is that it cannot keep
from changing. Without change there can be no life. Even the
mineral cannot resist change, and the higher we go in the scale
of being, the more varied, complex, and wonderful do the
changes become. Moreover, in progress and development
among creatures of all grades we find two kinds of change --
one slow, gradual, often almost imperceptible; and the other
rapid, sudden and dramatic. The latter occur at what are
called "critical stages" of development. In the case of minerals
we find such critical stages at the melting and boiling points,
for example, when the solid suddenly becomes a liquid or the
liquid becomes a gas. In the case of plants we see such critical
<p119>
stages when the seed begins to germinate, or the bud bursts
into leaf. In the animal world we see the same on every hand,
as when the grub suddenly changes into a butterfly, the chick
emerges from its shell, or the babe is born from its mother's
womb. In the higher life of the soul we often see a similar transformation,
when a man is "born again" and his whole being becomes
radically changes in its aims, its character and activities.
Such critical stages often affect a whole species or multitude of
species simultaneously, as when vegetation of all kinds suddenly
bursts into new life in springtime.
Baha'u'llah declares that just as lesser living things have
times of sudden emergence into new and fuller life, so for mankind
also a "critical stage," a time of "rebirth," is at hand.
Then modes of life which have persisted from the dawn of history
up till now will be quickly, irrevocably, altered, and humanity
enter on a new phase of life as different from the old as
the butterfly is different from the caterpillar, or the bird from
the egg. Mankind as a whole, in the light of new Revelation,
will attain to a new vision of truth; as a whole country is illumined
when the sun rises, so that all men see clearly, where but
an hour before everything was dark and dim. "This is a new
cycle of human power," says Abdu'l-Baha. "All the horizons
of the world are luminous, and the world will become indeed
as a rose garden and a paradise." The analogies of nature are
all in favor of such a view; the Prophets of old have with one
accord foretold the advent of such a glorious day; the signs of
the times show clearly that profound and revolutionary
changes in human ideas and institutions are even now in progress.
What could be more futile and baseless therefore, than
the pessimistic argument that, although all things else change,
human nature cannot change?


First Steps Toward Unity

As a means of promoting religious unity Baha'u'llah advocates
the utmost charity and tolerance, and calls on His followers
to "consort with the people of all religions with joy and
gladness." In His last Will and Testament He says: --
<p120>
Contention and conflict hath He strictly forbidding in
His book (Kitab-i-Aqdas); such is the command of the
Lord in this all-highest Revelation -- a command which
He hath exempted from all annulment and arrayed with
the adorning of His confirmation.
O ye people of the world! The Religion of God is for
the sake of love and union; make it not the cause of enmity
and conflict. ... The hope is cherished, that the
people of Baha shall ever turn unto the Hallowed Word:
"Lo! All things are of God." -- the All-Glorious Word that,
like unto water, quencheth the fire of hate and rancor
which doth smoulder in hearts and breasts. By this one
Word shall the diverse sects of the world attain unto the
light of real union; verily the Truth He speaketh, and to
the Path He leadeth, and He is the Mighty, the Gracious,
the Beauteous.

Abdu'l-Baha says: --

All must abandon prejudices and must even go to each
other's churches and mosques, for, in all of these worshipping
places, the Name of God is mentioned. Since all
gather to worship God, what difference is there? None of
them worship Satan. The Muhammadans must go to the
churches of the Christians and the Synagogues of the
Jews, and vice versa, the others must go to the Muhammadan
Mosques. They hold aloof from one another
merely because of unfounded prejudices and dogmas. In
America I went to the Jewish Synagogues, which are similar
to the Christian Churches, and I saw them worshipping
God everywhere.
In many of these places I spoke about the original
foundations of the divine religions, and I explained
to them the proofs of the validity of the divine prophets
and of the Holy Manifestations. I encouraged them to do
away with blind imitations. All of the leaders must, likewise,
go to each other's Churches and speak of the foundation
and of the fundamental principles of the divine religions.
In the utmost unity and harmony they must
<p121>
worship God, in the worshipping places of one another,
and must abandon fanaticism.

Were even these first steps accomplished and a state of
friendly mutual tolerance established between the various religious
sects, what a wonderful change would be brought about
in the world! In order that real unity may be achieved, however,
something more than this is required. For the disease of
sectarianism, tolerance is a valuable palliative, but it is not a
radical cure. It does not remove the cause of the trouble.


The Problem of Authority

The different religious communities have failed to unite in
the past, because the adherents of each have regarded the
Founder of their own community as the one supreme authority,
and His law as the divine law. Any Prophet Who proclaimed
a different message was, therefore, regarded as an
enemy of the truth. The different sects of each community have
separated for similar reasons. The adherents of each have accepted
some subordinate authority and regarded some particular
version or interpretation of the Founder's Message as the
One True Faith, and all others as wrong. It is obvious that while
this state of matters exists no true unity is possible. Baha'u'llah,
on the other hand, teaches that all the Prophets were bearers
of authentic messages from God; that each in His day gave the
highest teachings of all are essentially in harmony, and are
parts of a great plan for the education and the unification of
humanity. He calls on the people of all denominations to show
their reverence for their Prophets by devoting their lives to the
accomplishment of that unity for which all the Prophets labored
and suffered. In His letter to Queen Victoria He likens
<p122>
the world to a sick man whose malady is aggravated because
he has fallen into the hands of unskilled physicians; and He
tells how the remedy may be effected: --

That which the Lord hath ordained as the sovereign
remedy and mightiest instrument for the healing of all the
world is the union of all its peoples in one universal
Cause, one common Faith. This can in no wise be
achieved except through the power of a skilled, an all-powerful
and inspired Physician. This, verily, is the truth,
and all else naught but error. -- Gleanings from the Writings
of Baha'u'llah, p. 255.


Progressive Revelation

A great stumbling block to many, in the way of religious
unity, is the difference between the Revelations given by the
different Prophets. What is commanded by one is forbidden by
another; how then can both be right, how can both be proclaiming
the Will of God? Surely the truth is One, and cannot
change. Yes, the Absolute Truth is One and cannot change, but
the Absolute Truth is infinitely beyond the present range of human
understanding, and our conceptions of it must constantly
change. Our earlier, imperfect ideas will be by the Grace of
God replaced, as time goes on, by more and more adequate
conceptions. Baha'u'llah says, in a Tablet to some Baha'is of
Persia: --

O people! Words are revealed according to capacity so
that the beginners may make progress. The milk must be
given according to measure so that the babe of the world
may enter into the Realm of Grandeur and be established
in the Court of Unity.

It is milk that strengthens the babe so that it can digest more
solid food later on. To say that because one Prophet is right in
giving a certain teaching at a certain time, therefore another
Prophet must be wrong Who gives a different teaching at a
different time, is like saying that because milk is the best food
<p123>
for the newborn babe, therefore, milk and nothing but milk
should be the food of the grown man also, and to give any
other diet would be wrong! Abdu'l-Baha says: --

Each divine revelation is divided into two parts. The
first part is essential and belongs to the eternal world. It
is the exposition of Divine truths and essential principles.
It is the expression of the Love of God. This is one in all
the religions, unchangeable and immutable. The second
part is not eternal; it deals with practical life, transactions
and business, and changes according to the evolution of
man and the requirements of the time of each Prophet.
For example. ... During the Mosaic period the hand of
a person was cut off in punishment of a small theft; there
was a law of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, but
as these laws were not expedient in the time of Christ,
they were abrogated. Likewise divorce had become so
universal that there remained no fixed laws of marriage,
therefore His Holiness Christ forbade divorce.
According to the exigencies of the time, His Holiness
Moses revealed ten laws for capital punishment. It was
impossible at that time to protect the community and to
preserve social security without these severe measures,
for the children of Israel lived in the wilderness of Tah,
where there were no established courts of justice and no
penitentiaries. But this code of conduct was not needed
in the time of Christ. The history of the second part of
religion is unimportant, because it relates to the customs
of this life only; but the foundation of the religion of God
is one, and His Holiness Baha'u'llah has renewed that
foundation.

The religion of God is the One Religion, and all the Prophets
have taught it, but it is a living and a growing thing, not lifeless
and unchanging. In the teaching of Moses we see the Bud;
in that of Christ the Flower; in that of Baha'u'llah the Fruit. The
flower does not destroy the bud, nor does the fruit destroy the
flower. It destroys not, but fulfills. The bud scales must fall in
order that the flower may bloom, and the petals must fall that
<p124>
the fruit may grow and ripen. Were the bud scales and the
petals wrong or useless, then, that they had to be discarded?
Nay, both in their time were right and necessary; without them
there could have been no fruit. So it is with the various prophetic
teachings; their externals change from age to age, but
each revelation is the fulfillment of its predecessors; they are
not separate or incongruous, but different stages in the life
history of the One Religion, which has in turn been revealed as
seed, as bud and as flower, and now enters on the stage of
fruition.


Infallibility of the Prophets

Baha'u'llah teaches that everyone endowed with the Station
of Prophethood is given sufficient proofs of His Mission, is entitled
to claim obedience from all men and has authority to
abrogate, alter or add to the teachings of His predecessors. In
the Book of Iqan we read: --

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. ...
And yet, is not the object of every Revelation to effect
a transformation in the whole character of mankind, a
transformation that shall manifest itself both outwardly
and inwardly, that shall affect both its inner life and
external conditions? For if the character of mankind be
not changed, the futility of God's universal Manifestations
would be apparent. -- Kitab-i-Iqan, pp. 14, 240.

God is the One infallible Authority, and the Prophets are
infallible because Their Message is the Message of God given
<p125>
to the world through Them. That Message remains valid until
it is superseded by a later Message given by the same or
another Prophet.
God is the great Physician Who alone can rightly diagnose
the world's sickness and prescribe the appropriate remedy.
The remedy prescribed in one age is no longer suitable in a
later age, when the condition of the patient is different. To
cling to the old remedy when the physician has ordered new
treatment is not to show faith in the physician, but infidelity.
It may be a shock to the Jew to be told that some of the remedies
for the world's sickness which Moses ordered over three
thousand years ago are now out of date and unsuitable; the
Christian may be equally shocked when told that Muhammad
had anything necessary or valuable to add to what Jesus
prescribed; and so also the Muslim, when asked to admit that
the Bab or Baha'u'llah had authority to alter the commands of
Muhammad; but according to the Baha'i view, true devotion
to God implies reverence to all His Prophets, and implicit
obedience to His latest Commands, as given by the Prophet
for our own age. Only by such devotion can true Unity be
attained.


The Supreme Manifestation

Like all the other Prophets, Baha'u'llah states His own Mission
in the most unmistakable terms.
In the Lawh-i-Aqdas, a Tablet addressed especially to Christians,
He says: --

Surely the Father hath come and hath fulfilled that
which you were promised in the Kingdom of God. This
is the Word which the Son veiled when He said to those
around Him that at that time they could not bear it. But
when the stated time was ended, and the Hour arrived, the
Word shone forth from the Horizon of the Will. Beware,
O Concourse of the Son (i.e. Christians)! Cast it not
behind you, but hold thereunto. It is better for you than
all that which is before you! ... Verily, the Spirit of
Truth is come, to guide you into all Truth. Verily, He
<p126>
speaketh not from Himself, nay, but rather from the All-Knowing
and Wise. He is the One Whom the Son hath
glorified. ... Abandon that which is before you, O
people of the earth, and take that which is commanded
you by Him Who is the Powerful, the Faithful.

And in a letter to the Pope, written from Adrianople in
1867, He says: --

Beware lest celebration hinder you from the Celebrated
and worship hinder you from the Worshipped One! Behold
the Lord, the Mighty, the All-Knowing! He hath
come to minister to the life of the world, and for the
uniting of whatever dwelleth therein. Come, O ye people,
to the Dawning-place of Revelation! Tarry not, even for
an hour! Are ye learned of the Gospel, and yet are unable
to see the Lord of Glory?
This beseemeth you not, O learned concourse! Say
then, if ye deny this matter, by what proof do you believe
in God? Produce your proof. ...

Just as in these letters to Christians He announces the fulfillment
of the Gospel promises, so He proclaims also to Muhammadan,
Jews, Zoroastrians and the people of other faiths the
fulfillment of the promises of their Holy Books. He addresses
all men as the sheep of God, who have hitherto been divided
into different flocks and sheltered in different folds. His message,
He says, is the Voice of God, the Good Shepherd, Who
has come in the fullness of time to gather His scattered sheep
into one flock, removing the barriers between them, that "there
may be one fold and one shepherd."


A New Situation

The position of Baha'u'llah among the Prophets is unprecedented
and unique, because the condition of the world at
the time of His advent was unprecedented and unique. By a
long and checkered process of development in religion, science,
art and civilization the world had become ripe for a teaching
<p127>
of Unity. The barriers which in previous centuries had made a
world unity impossible were ready to crumble when Baha'u'llah
appeared, and since His birth, in 1817, and more especially
since the promulgation of His teachings began, these barriers
have been breaking down in most astonishing fashion. Be the
explanation what it may, about the fact there can be no doubt.
In the days of previous Prophets geographical barriers alone
were amply sufficient to prevent world unity. Now that obstacle
has been overcome. For the first time in human history men
on opposite sides of the globe are able to communicate with
each other quickly and easily. Things done in Europe yesterday
are known in every continent of the world today, and a speech
made in America today may be read in Europe, Asia and
Africa tomorrow.
Another great obstacle was the language difficulty. Thanks
to the study and teaching of foreign languages, that difficulty
has already been to a large extent overcome; and there is every
reason to suppose that ere many years an international auxiliary
language will be adopted and taught in all the schools of
the world. Then this difficulty also will be completely removed.
The third great obstacle was religious prejudice and intolerance.
That, too, is disappearing. Men's minds are becoming
more open. The education of the people is passing more
and more out of the hands of sectarian priests; and new and
more liberal ideas can no longer be prevented from penetrating
into even the most exclusive and conservative circles.
Baha'u'llah is thus the first of the great Prophets Whose
message has become known within a period of comparatively
few years in every quarter of the globe. Within a short time
the essential teachings of Baha'u'llah, translated from His own
authentic Writings, will be directly accessible to every man,
woman and child in the world who is able to read.


Fullness of the Baha'i Revelation

The Baha'i Revelation is unprecedented and unique among
the faiths of the world by reason of the fullness and completeness
of its authentic records. The recorded words that can with
<p128>
certainty be attributed to Christ, to Moses, to Zoroaster, to
Buddha, to Krishna, are very few, and leave many modern
questions of great practical importance unanswered. Many of
the teachings commonly attributed to these religious Founders
are of doubtful authenticity, and some are evidently accretions
of later date. The Muhammadans possess in the Qur'an, and
in a large store of traditions, a much fuller record of the life
and teachings of their Prophet, but Muhammad Himself,
though inspired, was illiterate, as were most of His early followers.
The methods employed for recording and spreading
His teachings were in many respects unsatisfactory, and the
authenticity of many of the traditions is very doubtful. As a
result, differences of interpretation and conflicting opinions
have cause divisions and dissensions in Islam, as in all
previous religious communities.
On the other hand, both the Bab and Baha'u'llah wrote
copiously and with great eloquence and power. As both were
debarred from public speaking and spent most of Their lives
(after the declaration of Their mission) in prison, They devoted
a large proportion of Their time to writing, with the
result that in richness of authentic scriptures the Baha'i Revelation
is unapproached by any of its predecessors. Clear and full
expositions are given of many truths which were but dimly
foreshadowed in previous revelations, and the eternal principles
of truth, which all the Prophets have taught, have been
applied to the problems which are facing the world today --
problems of the utmost complexity and difficulty, many of
which had not arisen in the days of former Prophets. It is evident
that this full record of authentic revelation must have a
powerful effect in preventing misunderstandings in the future
and in clearing up those misunderstandings of the past which
have kept the various sects asunder.


The Baha'i Covenant

The Baha'i Revelation is unprecedented and unique in still
another way. Before the death of Baha'u'llah He repeatedly put
in writing a Covenant appointing his eldest son Abdu'l-Baha,
<p129>
Whom He often refers to as "The Branch," or "The Most Great
Branch," as the authorized interpreter of the teachings, and
declaring that any explanations or interpretations given by
Him are to be accepted as of equal validity with the words of
Baha'u'llah Himself. In His Will and Testament He says: --

Consider that which We revealed in Our Most Holy
Book: "When the ocean of My presence hath ebbed and
the Book of My Revelation is ended, turn your faces toward
Him Whom God hath purposed, Who hath
branched from this Ancient Root." The object of this sacred
verse is none other except the Most Mighty Branch
(Abdu'l-Baha).

And in the Tablet of the Branch, in which He explains the
station of Abdu'l-Baha, He says: --

Render thanks unto God, O people, for His appearance;
for verily He is the most great Favor unto you, the
most perfect bounty upon you; and through Him every
mouldering bone is quickened. Whoso turneth towards
Him hath turned towards God, and whoso turneth away
from Him hath turned away from My Beauty, hath repudiated
My Proof, and transgressed against Me.

After the death of Baha'u'llah, Abdu'l-Baha had abundant
opportunities, both in His own home and on His extensive
travels, of meeting people from all parts of the world and of all
shades of opinion. He heard all their questions, their difficulties
and objections, and gave full explanations which were carefully
recorded in writing. During a long series of years Abdu'l-Baha
continued this work of elucidating the teachings and showing
their applications to the most varied problems of modern life.
Differences of opinion which have arisen among believers have
been referred to Him and authoritatively settled, and thus the
risks of future misunderstandings have been further reduced.
Baha'u'llah further arranged that an International House of
Justice, representative of all Baha'is throughout the world,
should be elected to take charge of the affairs of the Cause,
control and coordinate all its activities, prevent divisions and
<p130>
schisms, elucidate obscure matters, and preserve the teachings
from corruption and misrepresentation. The fact that this
supreme administrative body can not only initiate legislation
on all matters not defined in the Teachings, but also annul its
own enactments when new conditions require different measures,
enables the Faith to expand and adapt itself, like a living
organism, to the needs and requirements of a changing society.
Moreover, Baha'u'llah expressly forbade interpretation of
the teachings by anyone but the authorized interpreter. In His
Will and Testament Abdu'l-Baha appointed Shoghi Effendi
to be the Guardian of the Faith after Him and to be empowered
to interpret the Writings.
In a thousand or more years another Manifestation will
appear, under the shadow of Baha'u'llah, with clear proofs of
His mission, but until then the words of Baha'u'llah, Abdu'l-Baha
and the Guardian and the decisions of the International
House of Justice constitute the authorities to which all believers
must turn for guidance. No Baha'i may found a school or sect
based on any particular interpretation of the teachings or any
supposed divine revelation. Anyone contravening these injunctions
is considered a "Covenant-breaker."+F1

Abdu'l-Baha says: --

One of the enemies of the Cause is he who endeavors
to interpret the words of Baha'u'llah and thereby colors
the meaning according to his capacity, and collects
around him a following, forming a different sect, promoting
his own station, and making a division in the Cause.

In another Tablet He writes: --

These people (promoters of schism) are like the froth
that gathers on the surface of the sea; a wave will surge
from the ocean of the Covenant and through the power
of the Abha Kingdom will cast this foam ashore. ...
------------------------
1. See pp. 261-263 and 272-273 for further elucidations of the Guardianship
and the Universal House of Justice.
<p131>
These corrupt thoughts that emanate from personal and
evil intentions will all vanish, whereas the Covenant of
God shall remain stable and secure.

There is nothing to keep men from forsaking religion if they
wish to do so. Abdu'l-Baha says: "God Himself does not
compel the soul to become spiritual. The exercise of the free
human will is necessary." The spiritual Covenant, however,
clearly makes sectarianism within the Baha'i community quite
impossible.


No Professional Priesthood

One other feature of the Baha'i organization must be specially
mentioned, and that is the absence of a professional
priesthood. Voluntary contributions toward the expenses of
teachers are permitted and many devote their whole time to
work for the Cause, but all Baha'is are expected to share in the
work of teaching, et cetera, according to their opportunity and
ability, and there is no special class distinguished from their
fellow believers by the exclusive exercise of priestly functions
and prerogatives.
In former ages priesthoods were necessary, because people
were illiterate and uneducated and were dependent on priests
for their religious instruction, for the conduct of religious rites
and ceremonies, for the administration of justice, et cetera.
Now, however, times have changed. Education is fast becoming
universal, and if the commands of Baha'u'llah are carried
out, every boy and girl in the world will receive a sound education.
Each individual will then be able to study the Scriptures
for himself, to draw the Water of Life for himself, direct from
the Fountainhead. Elaborate rites and ceremonies, requiring
the services of a special profession or caste, have no place in the
Baha'i system; and the administration of justice is entrusted to
the authorities instituted for that purpose.
For a child a teacher is necessary, but the aim of the true
teacher is to fit his pupil to do without a teacher; to see things
with his own eyes, hear with his own ears, and understand with
<p132>
his own mind. Just so, in the childhood of the race, the priest is
necessary, but his real work is to enable men to do without
him: to see things divine with their own eyes, hear them with
their own ears and understand them with their own minds.
Now the priest's work is all but accomplished, and the aim of
the Baha'i teaching is to complete that work, to make men
independent of all save God, so that they can turn directy to
Him, that is, to His Manifestation. When all turn to one Center,
then there can be no cross-purposes or confusion and the
nearer all draw to the Center, the nearer they will draw to each
other.
<p133>
True Civilization/9

O people of God! Be not occupied with yourselves. Be intent
on the betterment of the world and the training of nations. --
BAHA'U'LLAH.


Religion the Basis of Civilization

According to the Baha'i view, the problems of human life,
individual and social, are so inconceivably complex that the
ordinary human intellect is incapable of itself of solving them
aright. Only the Omniscient fully knows the prupose of creation
and how that prupose may be achieved. Through the
Prophets He shows to mankind the true goal of human life and
the right path of progress; and the building up of a true civilization
depends upon faithful adherence to the guidance of prophetic
Revelation. Baha'u'llah says: --

Religion is the greatest instrument for the order of
the world and the tranquillity of all existent beings. The
weakening of the pillars of religion has encouraged the
ignorant and rendered them audacious and arrogant.
Truly I say, whatever lowers the lofty station of religion
will increase heedlessness in the wicked, and finally result
in anarchy. ...
Consider the civilization of the people of the Occident
-- how it has occasioned commotion and agitation to the
people of the world. Infernal instruments have been devised,
and such atrocity is displayed in the destruction of
life as has not been seen by the eye of the world, nor
heard by the ear of nations. It is impossible to reform
these violent, overwhelming evils, except the peoples of
the world become united upon a certain issue or under
the shadow of One Religion. ...
O people of Baha! Each one of the revealed Commands
<p134>
is a might stronghold for the protection of the world. --
Words of Paradise.

The present state of Europe and of the world in general
eloquently confirms the truth of these words written so many
years ago. Neglect of the prophetic commands and the prevalence
of irreligion have been accompanied by disorder and
destruction on the most terrible scale, and, without the change
of heart and aim which is the essential characteristic of true
religion, the reform of society seems an utter impossibility.


Justice

In the little book of Hidden Words, in which Baha'u'llah
gives in brief the essence of the prophetic teachings, His first
counsel refers to the individual life: "Possess a pure, kindly
and radiant heart." The next indicates the fundamental principle
of true social life: --

O Son of Spirit!
The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice;
turn not away therefrom if thou desirest Me, and neglect
it not that I may confide in thee. By its aid thou shalt see
with thine own eyes and not through the eyes of others,
and shalt know of thine own knowledge and not through
the knowledge of thy neighbor. Ponder this in thy heart;
how it behooveth thee to be. Verily justice is My gift to
thee and the sign of My loving-kindness. Set it hten before
thine eyes.

The first essential of social life is that individuals should become
capable of discerning the true from the false and right
from wrong, and of seeing things in their true proportions. The
greatest cause of spiritual and social blindness, and the greatest
foe of social progress, is selfishness. Baha'u'llah says: --

O ye sons of intelligence! The thin eye lid prevents the
eye from seeing the world and what is contained therein.
Then think of the result when the curtain of greed covers
the sight of the heart!
<p135>
O people! The darkness of greed and envy obscures the
light of the soul as the cloud prevents the penetration
of the sun's rays. (Tablet to some Persian Zoroastrian
Baha'is).

Long experience is at last convincing men of the truth of the
prophetic teaching that selfish views and selfish actions inevitably
bring social disaster, and that if humanity is not to perish
ingloriously, each must look on the things of his neighbor as
of equal importance with his own, and subordinate his own
interests to those of humanity as a whole. In this way the
interests of each and all will ultimately be best served.
Baha'u'llah says: -- "O son of man! If thine eyes be turned towards
mercy, forsake the things that proft thee, and cleave unto that
which will profit mankind. And if thine eyes be turned towards
justice, choose thou for thy neighbor that which thou choosest
for thyself." -- Words of Paradise.


Government

The teachings of Baha'u'llah contain two different types of
reference to the question of true social order. One type is
exemplified in the tablets revealed to the Kings, which deal
with the problem of government as existing in the world during
Baha'u'llah's life on earth; the other references are to the new
order to be developed within the Baha'i community itself.
Hence arises the sharp contrast between such passages as:
"The one true God, exalted be His glory, hath ever regarded,
and will continue to regard, the hearts of men as His own, His
exclusive possession. All else, whether pertaining to land or
sea, whether riches or glory, He hath bequeathed unto the
Kings and rulers of the earth"' and "It beseemeth all men, in
this Day, to take firm hold on the Most Great Name, and to
establish the unity of all mankind. There is no place to flee to,
no refuge that any one can seek, except Him." -- Gleanings from
the Writings of Baha'u'llah, pp. 206, 203.
The apparent incompatibility of these two views is removed
when we observe the distinction which Baha'u'llah makes between
the "Lesser Peace" and the "Most Great Peace." In His
<p136>
tablets to the Kings Baha'u'llah called upon them to assemble
and take measures for the maintenance of political peace, the
reduction of armaments and the removal of the burdens and
insecurity of the poor. But His words make it perfectly clear
that their failure to respond to the needs of the time would
result in wars and revolutions leading to the overthrow of the
old order. Therefore, on the one hand He said: "What mankind
needeth in this day is obedience unto them that are in
authority," and on the other, "Those men who, having amassed
the vanities and ornaments of the earth, have turned away
disdainfully from God -- these have lost both this world and
the world to come. Ere long, will God, with the Hand of
Power, strip them of their possessions, and divest them of the
robe of His bounty." "We have a fixed time for you, O peoples.
If ye fail, at the appointed hour, to turn towards God, He, verily,
will lay violent hold on you, and will cause grievous
afflictions to assail you from every direction." "The signs of impending
convulsions and chaos can now be discerned, inasmuch
as the prevailing order appeareth to be lamentably defective."
"We have pledged Ourselves to secure Thy triumph upon
earth and to exalt Our Cause above all men, though no king be
found who would turn his face towards Thee." Gleanings from
the Writings of Baha'u'llah, pp. 207, 209, 214, 216, 248-249.

The Great Being, wishing to reveal the prerequisites of
the peace and tranquillity of the world and the advancement
of its peoples, hath written: The time must come
when the imperative necessity for the holding of a vast, an
all-embracing assemblage of men will be universally realized.
The rulers and kings of the earth must needs attend
it, and participating in its deliberations, must consider
such ways and means as will lay the foundations of the
world's Great Peace amongst men. Such a peace demandeth
that the Great Powers should resolve, for the
sake of the tranquillity of the peoples of the earth, to be
fully reconciled among themselves. Should any kind take
up arms against another, all should unitedly arise and prevent
him. -- Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah,
p. 249.
<p137>
By such counsel, Baha'u'llah revealed the conditions under
which public responsibility must be discharged in this Day of
God. Appealing for international solidarity on the one hand,
He no less clearly warned the rulers that continuance of strife
would destroy their power. Now modern history confirms this
warning, in the rise of those coercive movements which in all
civilized nations have attained such destructive energy, and
in the development of warfare to the degree that victory is no
longer attainable by any party. "Now that ye have refused the
Most Great Peace, hold ye fast unto this, the Lesser Peace,
that haply ye may in some degree better your own condition
and that of your dependents." "That which the Lord hath
ordained as the sovereign remedy and mightiest instrument for
the healing of all the world is the union of all its peoples in one
universal Cause, one common Faith. This can in no wise be
achieved except through the power of a skilled, an all-powerful
and inspired Physician." -- Gleanings from the Writings of
Baha'u'llah, pp. 254, 255.
By the Lesser Peace is meant a political unity of states, while
the Most Great Peace is a unity embracing spiritual as well as
political and economic factors. "Soon will the present-day
order be rolled up, and a new one spread out in its stead." --
Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 7.
In former ages, a government could concern itself with
external matters and material affairs, but today the function of
government demands a quality of leadership, of consecration
and of spiritual knowledge impossible save to those who have
turned to God.


Political Freedom

Although advocating as the ideal condition a representative
form of government, local, national and international,
Baha'u'llah teaches that this is possible only when men have
attained a sufficiently high degree of individual and social
development. Suddenly to grant full self-government to people
without education, who are dominated by selfish desires and
are inexperienced in the conduct of public affairs, would be
disastrous. There is nothing more dangerous than freedom for
<p138>
those who aare not fit to use it wisely. Baha'u'llah writes in the
Book of Aqdas: --

Consider the pettiness of men's minds. They ask for
that which injureth them, and cast away the thing that
profiteth them. They are, indeed, of those that are far
astray. We find some men desiring liberty, and priding
themselves therein. Such men are in the depths of
ignorance.
Liberty must, in the end, lead to sedition, whose flames
none can quench. Thus warneth you He Who is the
Reckoner, the All-Knowing. Know ye that the embodiment
of liberty and its symbol is the animal. That which
beseemeth man is submission unto such restraints as will
protect him from his own ignorance, and guard him
against the harm of the mischief-maker. Liberty causeth
man to overstep the bounds of propriety, and to infrings
on the dignity of his station. It debaseth him to the level
of extreme depravity and wickedness.
Regard men as a flock of sheep that need a shepherd
for their protection. This, verily, is the truth, the certain
truth. We approve oof liberty in certain circumstances, and
refuse to sanction it in others. We, verily, are the
All-Knowing.
Say: True liberty consisteth in man's submission unto
My commandments, little as ye know it. Were men to
observe that which We have sent down unto them from
the Heaven of Revelation, they would, of a certainty, attain
unto perfect liberty. Happy is the man that hath apprehended
the Purpose of God in whatever He hath revealed
from the Heaven of His Will, that pervadeth all
created things. Say: The liberty that profiteth you is to be
found nowhere except in complete servitude unto God,
the Eternal Truth. Whoso hath tasted of its sweetness will
refuse to barter it for all the dominion of earth and
heaven. -- Kitab-i-Aqdas.

For improving the condition of backward races and nations,
the Divine teachings are the sovereign remedy. When both
<p139>
people and statesmen learn and adopt these teachings the nations
will be freed from all their bonds.


Rulers and Subjects

Baha'u'llah forbids tyranny and oppression in the most
emphatic terms. In Hidden Words He writes: --

O Oppressors of Earth!
Withdraw your hands from tyranny, for I have pledged
Myself not to forgive any man's injustice. This is My
covenant which I have irrevocably decreed in the preserved
tablet and sealed it with My seal of glory.

Those entrusted with the framing and administration of
laws and regulations must "hold fast to the rope of Consultation,
and decide upon and execute that which is conducive to
the people's security, affluence, welfare and tranquillity; for
if matters be arranged otherwise, it will lead to discord and
tumult." -- Tablet of the World.
On the other hand, the people must be law-abiding and loyal
to the just government. They must rely on educational methods
and on the force of good example, not on violence, for bringing
about a better state of affairs in the nation. Baha'u'llah says: --

In every country where any of this community reside,
they must behave toward the government of that country
with faithfulness, truthfulness, and obedience. -- Glad
Tidings.
O people of God! Adorn your temples with the mantle
of trustworthiness and integrity; then assist your Lord
with the hosts of good deeds and good morals. Verily We
have forbidden you sedition and strife, in My Books and
Epistles, in My Writings and Tablets; and by this We
have desired only your loftiness and exaltation. -- Tablet
of Ishraqat.


Appointment and Promotion

In making appointments, the only criterion must be fitness
for the position. Before this paramount consideration, all
<p140>
others, such as seniority, social or financial status, family connection
or personal friendship, must give way. Baha'u'llah says
in the Tablet of Ishraqat: --

The fifth Ishraq (Effulgence) is the knowledge by
governments of the condition of the governed, and the
conferring of ranks according to desert and merit. Regard
to this matter is strictly enjoined upon every chief and
ruler, that haply traitors may not usurp the positions of
trustworthy men nor spoilers occupy the seats of
guardians.

It needs but little consideration to show that when this
principle becomes generally accepted and acted upon, the
transformation in our social life will be astounding. When each
individual is given the position for which his talents and
capabilities specially fit him he will be able to put his heart into
his work and become an artist in his profession, with incalculable
benefit to himself and the rest of the world.


Economic Problems

The Baha'i teachings insist in the strongest terms on the
need for reform in the economic relations of rich and poor.
Abdu'l-Baha says: --

The arrangements of the circumstances of the people
must be such that poverty shall disappear, that everyone,
as far as possible, according to his rank and position, shall
share in comfort and well-being. We see among us men
who are overburdened with riches on the one hand, and
on the other those unfortunate ones who starve with nothing;
those who possess several stately palaces, and those
who have not where to lay their head. ... This condition
of affairs is wrong, and must be remedied. Now the
remedy must be carefully undertaken. It cannot be done
by bringing to pass absolute equality between men.
Equality is a chimera! It is entirely impracticable. Even
if equality could be achieved it could not continue; and
<p141>
if its existence were possible, the whole order of the world
would be destroyed. The Law of Order must always obtain
in the world of humanity. Heaven has so decreed in the
creation of man. ... Humanity, like a great army, requires
a general, captains, underofficers in their degree,
and soldiers, each with their appointed duties. Degrees are
absolutely necessary to ensure an orderly organization. An
army could not be composed of generals alone, or of captains
only, or of nothing but soldiers without anyone in
authority.
Certainly, some being enormously rich and other lamentably
poor, an organization is necessary to control
and improve this state of affairs. It is important to limit
riches, as it is also of importance to limit poverty. Either
extreme is not good. ... When we see poverty allowed
to reach a condition of starvation, it is a sure sign that
somewhere we shall find tyranny. Men must bestir themselves
in this matter, and no longer delay in altering
conditions which bring the misery of grinding poverty to
a very large number of people.
The rich must give of their abundance; they must
soften their hearts and cultivate a compassionate intelligence,
taking thought for those sad ones who are suffering
from lack of the very necessaries of life.
There must be special laws made, dealing with these
extremes of rich and want. ... The government of the
countries should conform to the Divine Law which gives
equal justice to all. ... Not until this is done will the Law
of God be obeyed.


Public Finance

Abdu'l-Baha suggests that each town and village or district
should be entrusted as far as possible with the administration
of fiscal matters within its own area and should contribute its
due proportion for the expenses of the general government.
One of the principal sources of revenue should be a graduated
income tax. If a man's income does not exceed his necessary
<p142>
expenditure he should not be required to pay any tax, but in
all cases where income exceeds the necessary expenditure a
tax should be levied, the percentage of tax increasing as the
surplus of income over necessary expenditure increases.
On the other hand, if a person, through illness, poor crops,
or other cause for which he is not responsible, is unable to
earn an income sufficient to meet his necessary expenses for
the year, then what he lacks for the maintenance of himself
and his family should be supplied out of public funds.
There will also be other sources of public revenue, e.g. from
intestate estates, mines, treasure trove and voluntary contributions;
while among the expenditures will be grants for the
support of the infirm, of orphans, of schools, of the deaf and
blind, and for the maintenance of public health. Thus the
welfare and comfort of all will be provided for.+F1


Voluntary Sharing

In a letter to the Central Organization for a Durable Peace,
written in 1919, Abdu'l-Baha says: --

Among the teachings of Baha'u'llah is voluntary sharing
of one's property with others among mankind. This
voluntary sharing is greater than (legally imposed) equality,
and consists in this, that one should not prefer oneself
to others, but rather should sacrifice one's life and property
for others. But this should not be introduced by
coercion so that it becomes a law which man is compelled
to follow. Nay, rather, man should voluntarily and of his
own choice sacrifice his property and life for others, and
spend willingly for the poor, just as is done in Persia
among the Baha'is.


Work for All

One of the most important instructions of Baha'u'llah in
regard to the economic question is that all must engage in
------------------------
1. For further particulars see Abdu'l-Baha's published addresses,
especially those given in the United States of America.
<p143>
useful work. There must be no drones in the social hive, no
able-bodied parasites on society. He says: --

It is enjoined on every one of you to engage in some
occupation -- some art, trade or the like. We have made
this -- your occupation -- identical with the worship of
God, the True One. Reflect, O people, upon the Mercy of
God and upon His Favors, then thank Him in the mornings
and evenings.
Waste not your time in idleness and indolence, and
occupy yourselves with that which will profit yourselves
and others beside yourselves, Thus hath the matter been
decreed in this Tablet, from the Horizon of which the Sun
of Wisdom and Divine Utterance is gleaming! The most
despised of men before is he who sits and begs. Cling
unto the rope of means, relying upon God, the Causer of
Causes. -- Glad Tidings.

How much of the energy employed in the business world of
today is expended simply in canceling and neutralizing the
efforts of other people -- in useless strife and competition! And
how much in ways that are still more injurious! Were all to
work, and were all work, whether of brain or hand, of a nature
profitable to mankind, as Baha'u'llah commands, then the supplies
of everything necessary for a healthy, comfortable and
noble life would amply suffice for all. There need be no slums,
no starvation, no destitution, no industrial slavery, no health-destroying
drudgery.


The Ethics of Wealth

According to the Baha'i teachings, riches rightly acquired
and rightly used are honorable and praiseworthy. Services
rendered should be adequately rewarded. Baha'u'llah says in
the Tablet of Tarazat: -- "The people of Baha must not refuse
to discharge the due reward of anyone, and must respect possessors
of talent, ... One must speak with justice and recognize
the worth of benefits."
<p144>
With regard to interest on money, Baha'u'llah writes in the
Tablet of Ishraqat as follows: --

Most of the people are found to be in need of this mattter;
for if no interest be allowed, affairs (business) will
be trammeled and obstructed. ... A person is rarely
found who would lend money to anyone upon the principle
of "Qar-i-hasan" (literally "good loan," i.e. money
advanced without interest and repaid at the pleasure of
the borrower). Consequently, out of favor to the servants,
We have appointed "profit on money" to be current,
among other business transactions which are in force
among people. That is ... it is allowable, lawful and
pure to charge interest on money ... but this matter
must be conducted with moderation and justice. The Pen
of Glory has withheld itself from laying down its limits, as
a Wisdom from His Presence and as a convenience for His
servants. We exhort the friends of God to act with fairness
and justice, and in such a way that the mercy of His beloved
ones, and their compassion, may be manifested toward
each other. ...
The execution of these matters has been placed in
charge of the men of the House of Justice, in order that
they may act in accordance with the exigencies of the time
and with wisdom.


No Industrial Slavery

In the Book of Aqdas Baha'u'llah forbids slavery, and
Abdu'l-Baha has explained that not only chattel slavery, but
also industrial slavery, is contrary to the law of God. When in
the United States in 1912, He said to the American people: --

Between 1860 and 1865 you did a wonderful thing;
you abolished chattel slavery; but today you must do a
much more wonderful thing: you must abolish industrial
slavery. ...
The solution of economic questions will not be brought
about by array of capital against labor, and labor against
<p145>
capital, in strife and conflict, but by the voluntary attitude
of goodwill on both sides. Then a real and lasting justness
of conditions will be secured. ...
Among the Baha'is there are no extortionate, mercenary
and unjust practices, no rebellious demands, no revolutionary
uprisings against existing governments. ...
It will not be possible in the future for men to amass
great fortunes by the labors of others. The rich will
willingly divide. They will come to this gradually, naturally,
by their own volition. It will never be accomplished
by war and bloodshed.

It is by friendly consultation and cooperation, by just copartnership
and profit-sharing, that the interests of both capital
and labor will be best served. The harsh weapons of the strike
and lockout are injurious, not only to the trades immediately
affected, but to the community as a whole. It is, therefore, the
business of the governments to devise means for preventing
recourse to such barbarous methods of settling disputes.
Abdu'l-Baha said at Dublin, New Hampshire, in 1912: --

Now I want to tell you about the law of God. According
to the divine law, employees should not be paid merely
by wages. Nay, rather they should be partners in every
work. The question of socialization is very difficult. It
will not be solved by strikes for wages. All the governments
of the world must be united, and organize an assembly,
the members of which shall be elected from the
parliaments and the noble ones of the nations. These must
plan with wisdom and power, so that neither the capitalists
suffer enormous losses, nor the laborers become
needy. In the utmost moderation they should make the
law, then announce to the public that the rights of the
working people are to be effectively preserved; also the
rights of the capitalists are to be protected. When such a
general law is adopted, by the will of both sides, should a
strike occur, all the governments of the world should collectively
resist it. Otherwise the work will lead to much
<p146>
destruction, especially in Europe. Terrible things will take
place.
One of the several causes of a universal European war
will be this question. The owners of properties, mines and
factories, should share their incomes with their employees,
and give a fairly certain percentage of their profits to
their workingmen, in order that the employees should receive,
besides their wages, some of the general income of
the factory, so that the employee may strive with his soul
in the work.


Bequest and Inheritance

Baha'u'llah states that a person should be free to dispose of
his possessions during his lifetime in any way he chooses, and
it is incumbent on everyone to write a will stating how his
property is to be disposed of after his death. When a person
dies without leaving a will, the value of the property should be
estimated and divided in certain state proportions among
seven classes of inheritors, namely, children, wife or husband,
father, mother, brothers, sisters and teachers, the share of
each diminishing from the first to the last. In the absence of
one or more of these classes, the share which would belong to
them goes to the public treasury, to be expended on the poor,
the fatherless and the widows, or on useful public works. If
the deceased has no heirs, then all his property goes to the public
treasury.
There is nothing in the law of Baha'u'llah to prevent a man
from leaving all his property to one individual if he pleases,
but Baha'is will naturally be influenced, in making their wills,
by the model Baha'u'llah has laid down for the case of
intestate estates, which ensures distribution of property
among a considerable number of heirs.


Equality of Men and Women

One of the social principles to which Baha'u'llah attaches
great importance is that women should be regarded as the
equals of men and should enjoy equal rights and privileges,
<p147>
equal education and equal opportunities.
The great means on which He relies for bringing about the
emancipation of women is universal education. Girls are to
receive as good an education as boys. In fact, the education
of girls is even more important than that of boys, for in time
these girls will become mothers, and, as mothers, they will be
the first teachers of the next generation. Children are like green
and tender branches; if the early training is right they grow
straight, and if it is wrong they grow crooked; and to the end
of their lives they are affected by the training of their earliest
years. How important, then, that girls should be well and
wisely educated!
During His Western tours, Abdu'l-Baha had frequent occasion
to explain the Baha'i teachings on this subject. At a meeting
of the Women's Freedom League in London in January
1913, He said: --

Humanity is like a bird with its two wings -- the one is
male, the other female. Unless both wings are strong and
impelled by some common force, the bird cannot fly
heavenwards. According to the spirit of this age, women
must advance and fulfill their mission in all departments
of life, becoming equal to men. They must be on the same
level as men and enjoy equal rights. This is my earnest
prayer and it is one of the fundamental principles of
Baha'u'llah.
Some scientists have declared that the brains of men
weigh more than those of women, and claim this as a
proof of man's superiority. Yet when we look around us
we see people with small heads, whose brains much weigh
little, who show the greatest intelligence and great powers
of understanding; and others with big heads, whose brains
must be heavy, and yet they are witless. Therefore the
avoirdupois of the brain is no true measure of intelligence
or superiority.
When men bring forward as a second proof of their
superiority the assertion that women have not achieved as
much as men, they use poor arguments which leave
history out of consideration. If they kept themselves more
<p148>
fully informed historically, they would know that great
women have lived and achieved great things in the past,
and that there are many living and achieving great things
today.

Here Abdu'l-Baha described the achievements of Zenobia
and other great women of the past, concluding with an eloquent
tribute to the fearless Mary Magdalene, whose faith remained
firm while that of the apostles was shaken. He
continued: --

Amongst the women of our own time is Qurratu'l-'Ayn,
the daughter of a Muhammadan priest. At the time of the
appearance of the Bab she showed such tremendous
courage and power that all who heard her were astonished.
She threw aside her veil despite the immemorial
custom of the women of Persia, and although it was considered
impolite to speak with men, this heroic woman
carried on controversies with the most learned men, and
in every meeting she vanquished them. The Persian
Government took her prisoner; she was stoned in the
streets, anathematized, exiled from town to town, threatened
with death, but she never failed in her determination
to work for the freedom of her sisters. She bore persecution
and suffering with the greatest heroism; even in
prison she gained converts. To a Minister in Persia, in
whose house she was imprisoned, she said: "You can kill
me as soon as you like but you cannot stop the emancipation
of women." At last the end of her tragic life came;
she was carried into a garden and strangled. She put on,
however, her choicest robes as if she were going to join
a bridal party. With such magnanimity and courage she
gave her life, startling and thrilling all who saw her. She
was truly a great heroine. Today in Persia, among the
Baha'is, there are women who also show unflinching
courage, and who are endowed with great poetic insight.
They are most eloquent, and speak before large gatherings
of people.
Women must go on advancing; they must extend their
<p149>
knowledge of science, literature, history, for the perfection
of humanity. Erelong they will receive their rights.
Men will see women in earnest, bearing themselves with
dignity, improving the civil and political life, opposed to
warfare, demanding suffrage and equal opportunities.
I expect to see you advance in all phases of life; then
will your brows be crowned with the diadem of eternal
glory.


Women and the New Age

When woman's point of view receives due consideration and
woman's will is allowed adequate expression in the arrangement
of social affairs, we may expect great advancement in
matters which have often be grievously neglected under the
old regime of male dominance -- such matters as health, temperance,
peace, and regard for the value of the individual life.
Improvements in these respects will have very far-reaching and
beneficent effects. Abdu'l-Baha says: --

The world in the past has been ruled by force, and man
has dominated over woman by reason of his more forceful
and aggressive qualities both of body and mind. But
the balance is already shifting; force is losing its dominance,
and mental alertness, intuition, and the spiritual
qualities of love and service, in which woman is strong,
are gaining ascendancy. Hence the new age will be an
age less masculine and more permeated with the feminine
ideals, or, to speak more exactly, will be an age in which
the masculine and feminine elements of civilization will
be more evenly balanced. -- Star of the West, viii, No. 3,
p. 4 [from report of remarks made abose the S.S. Cedric
on arrival in New York].


Methods of Violence Discarded

In bringing about the emancipation of women as in other
matters, Baha'u'llah counsels His followers to avoid methods
of violence. An excellent illustration of the Baha'i method of
social reform has been given by the Baha'i in Persia,
<p150>
Egypt and Syria. In these countries it is customary for Muhammadan
women outside their homes to wear a veil covering
the face. The Bab indicated that in the New Dispensation
women would be relieved from this irksome restraint, but
Baha'u'llah counsels His followers, where no important question
of morality is involved, to defer to established customs
until people become enlightened, rather than scandalize those
amongst whom they live, and arouse needless antagonism.
The Baha'i women, therefore, although well aware that the
antiquated custom of wearing the veil is, for enlightened people,
unnecessary and inconvenient, yet quietly put up with the
inconvenience, rather than rouse a storm of fanatical hatred
and rancorous opposition by uncovering their faces in public.
This conformity to custom is in no way due to fear, but to an
assured confidence in the power of education and in the transforming
and life-giving effect of true religion. Baha'is in these
regions are devoting their energies to the education of their
children, especially their girls, and to the diffusion and promotion
of the Baha'i ideals, well knowing that as the new
spiritual life grows and spreads among the people, antiquated
customs and prejudices will by and by be shed, as naturally
and inevitably as bud scales are shed in spring when the leaves
and flowers expand in the sunshine.


Education

Education -- the instruction and guidance of men and the
development and training of their innate faculties -- has been
the supreme aim of all the Holy Prophets since the world began,
and in the Baha'i teachings the fundamental importance
and limitless possibilities of education are proclaimed in the
clearest terms. The teacher is the most potent factor in civilization
and his work is the highest to which men can aspire.
Education begins in the mother's womb and is as unending as
the life of the individual. It is a perennial necessity of right
living and the foundation of both individual and social welfare.
When education on right lines becomes general, humanity
will be transformed and world will become a paradise.
<p151>
At present a really well educated man is the rarest of
phenomena, for nearly everyone has false prejudices, wrong
ideals, erroneous conceptions and bad habits drilled into him
from babyhood. How few are taught from their earliest childhood
to love God with all their hearts and dedicate their lives
to Him; to regard service to humanity as the highest aim in
life; to develop their powers to the best advantage for the
general good of all! Yet surely these are the essential elements
of a good education. Mere cramming of the memory with facts
about arithmetic, grammar, geography, languages, etc., has
comparatively little effect in producing noble and useful lives.
Baha'u'llah says that education must be universal: --

It is decreed that every father must educate his sons
and daughters in learning and in writing and also in that
which hath been ordained in the tablet. He who neglects
that which hath been commanded (in this matter), if he
be rich, it is incumbent on the trustees of the House of
Justice to recover from him the amount required for the
education of his children; otherwise (i.e. if the parent be
not capable) the matter shall devolve upon the House of
Justice. Verily We have made it (the House of Justice)
an asylum for the poor and needy.
He who educates his son, or any other children, it is as
though he hath educated one of My children. -- Tablet of
Ishraqat.
Men and women must place a part of what they earn
by trade, agriculture or other business, in charge of a
trustworthy person, to be spent in the education and instruction
of the children. That deposit must be invested
in the education of the children, under the advice of the
trustees (or members) of the House of Justice. -- Tablet
of the World.


Innate Differences of Nature

In the Baha'i view the child's nature is not like so much wax
that can be molded indifferently to any shape according to the
will of the teacher. Nay, each from the first has his own God-given
<p152>
character and individuality which can develop to the
best advantage only in a particular way; and that way in each
case is unique. No two people have exactly the same capabilities
and talents, and the true educator will never attempt to
force two natures into the same mold. In fact, he will never
attempt to force any nature into any mold. Rather he will
reverently tend the developing powers of the young nature,
encourage and protect them, and supply the nourishment
and assistance which they need. His work is like that of a gardener
tending different plants. One plant likes the bright sunshine,
another the cool shade; one loves the water's edge and another
the dry knoll; one thrives best on sandy soil and another on rich
loam. Each must have its needs appropriately supplied, else
its perfections can never be fully revealed. Abdu'l-Baha
says: --

The Prophets acknowledge that education hath a great
effect upon the human race, but They declare that minds
and comprehensions are originally different. We see that
certain children of the same age, nativity and race, nay,
from the same household, under the tutorship of the same
teacher, differ in minds and comprehensions. No matter
how the shell is educated (or polished) it can never become
the radiant pearl. The black stone will not become
the world-illuminating gem. The thorny cactus can never
by training and development become the blessed tree.
That is to say, training doth not change the essential
nature of the human gem, but it produceth a marvelous
effect. By this effective power all that is latent, of virtues
and capacities in the human reality, will be revealed.


Character Training

The thing of paramount importance in education is
character training. With regard to this, example is more effective
than precept, and the lives and characters of the child's
parents, teachers and habitual associates are factors of the
utmost importance.
<p153>
The Prophets of God are the great educators of mankind,
and Their counsels and the story of Their lives should be instilled
into the child's mind as soon as it is able to grasp them.
Especially important are the words of the Supreme Teacher,
Baha'u'llah, Who reveals the root principles on which the
civilization of the future must be built up. He says: --

Teach your children what hath been revealed through
the Pen of Glory. Instruct them in what hath descended
from the heaven of greatness and power. Let them memorize
the Tablets of the Merciful and chant them with the
most melodious voices in the halls of the
Mashriqu'l-Adhkar.


Arts, Sciences, and Crafts

Training in arts, sciences, crafts and useful professions is
regarded as important and necessary. Baha'u'llah says: --

Knowledge is like unto wings for the being (of man)
and is like a ladder for ascending. To acquire knowledge
is incumbent upon all, but of those sciences which may
profit the people of the earth, and not such sciences as
being in mere words and end in mere words. The possessors
of sciences and arts have a great right among the
people of the world. Indeed, the real treasury of man is his
knowledge. Knowledge is the means of honor, prosperity,
joy, gladness, happiness and exaltation. -- Tablet of
Tajalliyat.


Treatment of Criminals

In a talk on the right method of treating criminals, Abdu'l-Baha
spoke as follows: --

... the most essential thing is that the people must be
educated in such a way ... that they will avoid and
shrink from perpetrating crimes, so that the crime itself
will appear to them as the greatest chastisement, the utmost
<p154>
condemnation and torment. Therefore no crimes
which require punishment will be committed. ...
... if someone oppresses, injures, and wrongs another,
and the wronged man retaliates, this is vengeance,
and is censurable. ... If `Amru dishonours Zaid, the latter
has not the right to dishonour `Amru; if he does so, this is
vengeance, and is very reprehensible. No, rather he must
return good for evil, and not only forgive, but also, if possible,
be of service to his oppressor. This conduct is worthy
of man; for what advantage does he gain by vengeance?
The two actions are equivalent; if one action is reprehensible,
both are reprehensible. The only difference is that one
was committed first, the other later.
But the community has the right of defense and of self-protection;
moreover, the community has no hatred nor
animosity for the murderer: it imprisons or punishes him
merely for the protection and security of others. ...
Thus when Christ said: "Whosoever shall smite thee on
the right cheek, turn to him the left one also," it was for
the purpose of teaching men not to take personal revenge.
He did not mean that if a wolf should fall upon a flock of
sheep and wish to destroy it, that the wolf should be encouraged
to do so. No, if Christ had known that a wolf
had entered the fold and was about to destroy the sheep,
most certainly he would have prevented it. ...
... the constitution of the communities depends
upon justice. ... Then what Christ meant by forgiveness
and pardon is not that, when nations attack you, burn
your homes, plunder your goods, assault your wives,
children, and relatives, and violate your honour, you
should be submissive in the presence of these tyrannical
foes, and allow them to perform all their cruelties and oppressions.
No, the words of Christ refer to the conduct of
two individuals towards each other: if one person assaults
another, the injured one should forgive him. But the
communities must protect the rights of man. ...
One thing remains to be said: it is that the communities
are day and night occupied in making penal
laws, and in preparing and organizing instruments and
<p155>
means of punishment. They build prisons, make chains
and fetters, arrange places of exile and banishment, and
different kinds of hardships and tortures, and think by
these means to discipline criminals; whereas, in reality,
they are causing destruction of morals and perversion of
characters. The community, on the contrary, ought day
and night to strive and endeavour with the utmost zeal
and effort to accomplish the education of men, to cause
them day by day to progress and to increase in science
and knowledge, to acquire virtues, to gain good morals
and to avoid vices, so that crimes may not occur. -- Some
Answered Questions, pp. 307-311.


Influence of the Press

The importance of the press as a means of diffusing knowledge
and educating the people, and its power as a civilizing
force, when rightly directed, are fully recognized by Baha'u'llah.
He writes: --

In this day the mysteries of this earth are unfolded and
visible before the eyes, and the pages of swiftly appearing
newspapers are indeed the mirror of the world; they display
the doings and actions of the different nations; they
both illustrate them and cause them to be heard. Newspapers
are as a mirror endowed with hearing, sight and
speech; they are a wonderful phenomenon and a great
matter.
But it behooves the writers and editors thereof to be
sanctified from the prejudice of egotism and desire, and to
be adorned with the ornament of equity and justice. They
must inquire into matters as fully as possible in order that
they may be informed of the real facts, and commit the
same to writing. Concerning this wronged one, what the
newspapers have published has for the most part
been devoid of truth. Good speech and truthfulness are, in
loftiness of position and rank, like the sun which has risen
from the horizon of the heaven of knowledge. -- Tablet of
Tarazat.
<p156>
The Way to Peace/10

Today, this Servant has assuredly come to vivify the world
and to bring into unity all who are on the face of the earth.
That which God willeth shall come to pass and thou shalt see
the earth even as the Abha (Most Glorious) Paradise. --
BAHA'U'LLAH, Tablet to the Ra'is.


Conflict versus Concord

During the past century scientists have devoted and immense
amount of study to the struggle for existence in the plant and
animal world, and, amid the perplexities of social life, many
have turned for guidance to the principles which have been
found to hold good in the lower world of nature. In this way
they have come to regard rivalry and conflict as necessities of
life, and the ruthless killing out of the weaker members of
society as a legitimate or even necessary means of improving
the race. Baha'u'llah tells us, on the other hand, that, if we
wish to ascend the scale of progress, instead of looking backward
to the animal world, we must direct our gaze forward
and upward, and must take not the beasts, but the Prophets
as our guides. The principles of unity, concord and compassion
taught by the Prophets are the very antithesis of those
dominating the animal struggle for self-preservation, and we
must choose between them, for they cannot be reconciled.
Abdu'l-Baha says: --

In the world of nature the dominant note is the struggle
for existence -- the result of which is the survival of the
fittest. The law of the survival of the fittest is the origin
of all difficulties. It is the cause of war and strife, hatred
and animosity, between human beings. In the world of
nature there is tyranny, egoism, aggression, overbearance,
usurpation of the rights of others and other blameworthy
<p157>
attributes which are defects of the animal world. Therefore,
so long as the requirements of the natural world play
paramount part among the children of men, success and
prosperity are impossible. Nature is warlike, nature is
bloodthirsty, nature is tyrannical, for nature is unaware of
God the Almighty. That is why these cruel qualities are
natural to the animal world.
Therefore the Lord of mankind, having great love and
mercy, has caused the appearance of the prophets and the
revelation of the Holy Books, so that through divine education
humanity may be released from the corruption of
nature and the darkness of ignorance, be confirmed with
ideal virtues and spiritual attributes, and become the
dawning-place of merciful emotions. ...
A hundred thousand times, alas! that ignorant prejudice,
unnatural differences and antagonistic principles are
yet displayed by the nations of the world toward one another,
thus causing the retardation of general progress.
This retrogression comes from the fact that the principles
of divine civilization are completely abandoned, and the
teachings of the prophets are forgotten.


The Most Great Peace

In all ages the Prophets of God have foretold the coming of
an era of "peace on earth, goodwill among men." As we have
already seen Baha'u'llah, in the most glowing and confident
terms, confirms these prophecies and declares that their fulfillment
is at hand. Abdu'l-Baha says: --

... in this marvellous cycle, the earth will be transformed,
and the world of humanity arrayed in tranquility
and beauty. Disputes, quarrels, and murders will
be replaced by peace, truth, and concord; among the
nations, peoples, races, and countries, love and amity
will appear. Co-operation and union will be established,
and finally war will be entirely suppressed. ... Universal
peace will raise its tent in the centre of the earth,
<p158>
and the Blessed Tree of Life will grow and spread to such
an extent that it will overshadow the East and the West.
Strong and weak, rich and poor, antagonistic sects and
hostile nations -- which are like the wolf and the lamb, the
leopard and kid, the lion and calf -- will act towards each
other with the most complete love, friendship, justice, and
equity. The world will be filled with science, with the
knowledge of the reality of the mysteries of beings, and
with the knowledge of God. -- Some Answered Questions,
pp. 74-75.


Religious Prejudices

In order to see clearly how the Most Great Peace may be
established, let us first examine the principle causes that have
led to war in the past and see how Baha'u'llah proposes to deal
with each.
One of the most fertile causes of war has been religious
prejudice. With regard to this the Baha'i teachings show
clearly that animosity and conflict between people of different
religions and sects have always been due, not to true religion,
but to the want of it, and to its replacement by false prejudices,
imitations and misrepresentations.
In one of His talks in Paris, Abdu'l-Baha said:

Religion should unite all hearts and cause wars and
disputes to vanish from the face of the earth; it should
give birth to spirituality, and bring light and life to every
soul. If religion becomes a cause of dislike, hatred and
division it would be better to be without it, and to withdraw
from such a religion would be a truly religious act.
For it is clear that the purpose of a remedy is to cure, but
if the remedy only aggravates the complaint, it had better
be left alone. Any religion which is not a cause of love
and unity is no religion.

Again He says: --

From the beginning of human history down to the
<p159>
present time various religions of the world have anathematized
one another and accused one another of falsity.
... They have shunned one another most rigidly, exercising
mutual animosity and rancor. Consider the history
of religious warfare. ... One of the greatest religious wars,
the Crusaders, extended over a period of 200 years.
... Sometimes the Crusaders were successful, killing,
pillaging and taking captive Muhammadan people;
sometimes the Mussulmans were victorious, inflicting
bloodshed and ruin in turn upon the invaders.
So they continued for two centuries, alternately fighting
with fury and relaxing with weakness until the European
religionists withdrew from the East, leaving ashes of desolation
behind them and finding their own nations in a condition
of turbulence and upheaval. ... Yet this was only
one of the "Holy wars."
Religious wars have been many. Nine hundred thousand
martyrs of the Protestant cause was the record of
conflict and difference between that sect of Christians and
the Catholics. ... How many languished in prisons!
How merciless the treatment of captives! All in the name
of religion!
The Christians and Muhammadans considered the
Jews as satanic and the enemies of God. Therefore they
cursed and persecuted them. Great numbers of Jews
were killed, their houses burnt and pillaged, their children
carried into captivity. The Jews in turn regarded the
Christians as infidels, and the Muhammadans as enemies
and destroyers of the laws of Moses; therefore they called
down vengeance upon them and curse them even to this
day.
When the light of Baha'u'llah dawned from the East,
He proclaimed the promise of the oneness of humanity.
He addressed all mankind saying: "Ye are all fruits of
one tree. There are not two trees, one a tree of divine
mercy, the other a tree of Satan." ... Therefore we
must exercise the utmost love toward one another. We
must not consider any people the people of Satan, but
<p160>
know and recognize all as servants of one God. At most
it is this: some do not know, they must be guided and
trained. ... Some are ignorant, they must be informed.
Some are as children, they must be helped to reach
maturity. Some are ailing, their moral condition is bad,
they must be treated until their morals are purified. But
the sick man is not to be hated because he is sick; the
child must not be shunned because he is a child, the
ignorant one is not to be despised because he lacks knowledge.
They must be treated, educated, trained and assisted
in love. Everything must be done in order that all
humanity may live under the shadow of God in the utmost
security, in happiness of the highest type.


Racial and Patriotic Prejudices

The Baha'i doctrine of the unity of mankind strikes at the
root of another cause of war, namely, racial prejudice. Certain
races have assumed themselves to be superior to others and
have taken for granted, on the principle of "survival of the
fittest," that this superiority gives them the right to exploit
for their own advantage, or even to exterminate, weaker races.
Many of the blackest pages in the world's history are examples
of the pitiless application of this principle. According to the
Baha'i view people of every race are of equal value in the sight
of God. All have wonderful innate capacities which only require
suitable education for their development, and each can
play a part, which, instead of impoverishing, will enrich and
complete the life of all the other members of the body of
humanity. Abdu'l-Baha says: --

Concerning the prejudice of race; it is an illusion, a
superstition pure and simple, for God created us all of one
race. ... In the beginning also there were no limits and
boundaries between the different lands; no part of the
earth belonged more to one people than to another. In the
sight of God there is no different between the various
<p161>
races. Why should man invent such a prejudice? How
can we uphold war caused by such an illusion? God has
not created men that they should destroy one another. All
races, tribes, sects and classes share equally in the bounty
of their Heavenly Father.
The only real difference lies in the degree of faithfulness,
of obedience to the laws of God. There are some
who are as lighted torches; there are others who shine as
stars in the sky of humanity.
The lovers of mankind, these are the superior men, of
whatever nation, creed or color they may be.

Equally mischievous with racial prejudice is political or
patriotic prejudice. The time has now come when narrow
national patriotisms should be merged in the wider patriotism
whose country is the world. Baha'u'llah says: --

Of old it hath been revealed: "Love of one's country
is an element of the Faith of God." The Tongue of Grandeur
hath ... in the day of His manifestation proclaimed:
"It is not his to boast who loveth his country, but it is his
who loveth the world." Through the power released by
these exalted words He hath lent a fresh impulse, and set a
new direction, to the birds of men's hearts, and hath obliterated
every trace of restriction and limitation from God's
Holy Book. -- Tablet of the World.


Territorial Ambitions

Many are the wars which have been fought over pieces of
territory whose possession has been coveted by two or more
rival nations. The greed of possession has been as fertile a
cause of strife among nations as among individuals. According
to the Baha'i view, land rightly belongs not to individual
men or individual nations but to humanity as a whole; nay,
rather, it belongs to God alone, and all men are but tenants.
<p162>
On the occasion of the Battle of Benghazi+F1 , Abdu'l-Baha
said: --

The news of the Battle of Benghazi grieves my heart.
I wonder at the human savagery that still exists in the
world: How is it possible for men to fight from morning
till night, killing each other, shedding the blood of their
fellowmen? And for what object? To gain possession of
a part of the earth! Even the animals when they fight
have an immediate and more reasonable cause for their
attacks. How terrible is it that men who are of the higher
kingdom can descend to slaying and bringing misery to
their fellow beings for the possession of a tract of land --
the highest of created beings fighting to obtain the lowest
form of matter, earth.
Land belongs not to one people but to all people. The
earth is not man's home but his tomb.
However great the conqueror, however many countries
he may reduce to slavery, he is unable to retain any part of
these devastated lands but one tiny portion -- his tomb.
If more land is required for the improvement of the
condition of the people, for the spread of civilization
... surely it would be possible to acquire peaceably the
necessary extension of territory. But war is made for the
satisfaction of men's ambition. For the sake of worldly
gain to the few terrible misery is brought to numberless
homes, breaking the hearts of hundred of men and
women. ...
I charge you all that each one of you concentrate all
the thoughts of his heart on love and unity. When a
thought of war comes, oppose it by a stronger thought of
peace. A thought of hatred must be destroyed by a more
powerful thought of love. When soldiers of the world draw
their swords to kill, soldiers of God clasp each other's
hands. So may all the savagery of men disappear by the
mercy of God, working through the pure in heart and the
------------------------
1. A battle of the Italo-Turkish War which broke out on September 29,
1911.
<p163>
sincere of soul. Do not think the peace of the world
an ideal impossible to attain. Nothing is impossible to the
divine benevolence of God. If you desire with all your
heart friendship with every race on earth, your thought,
spiritual and positive will spread; it will become the
desire of others, growing stronger until it reaches the
minds of all men.


Universal Language

Having glanced at the principal causes of war and how they
may be avoided, we may now proceed to examine certain
constructive proposals made by Baha'u'llah with a view to
achieving the Most Great Peace.
The first deals with the establishment of a universal auxiliary
language. Baha'u'llah refers to this matter in the Book of
Aqdas and in many of His Tablets. Thus in the Tablet of
Ishraqat He says: --

The Sixth Ishraq (Effulgence) is Concord and Union
amongst men. Through the radiance of Union have the
regions of the world at all times been illumined, and the
greatest of all means thereunto is the understanding of one
another's writing and speech. Ere this, in Our Epistles,
have We commanded the Trustees of the House of Justice,
either to choose one of the existing tongues, or to originate
a new one, and in like manner to adopt a common script,
teaching these to the children in all the schools of the
world, that the world may become even as one land and
one home.

About the time when this proposal of Baha'u'llah was first
given to the world, there was born in Poland a boy named
Ludovic Zamenhof, who was destined to play a leading part
in carrying it into effect. Almost from his infancy, the ideal
of a universal language became a dominant motive in Zamenhof's
life, and the result of his devoted labors was the invention
and widespread adoption of the language known as
Esperanto, which has now stood the test of many years and
<p164>
has proved to be a very satisfactory medium of international
intercourse. It has the great advantage that it can be mastered
in about a twentieth part of the time required to master such
languages as English, French or German. At an Esperanto
banquet given in Paris in February 1913, Abdu'l-Baha
said: --

Today one of the chief causes of the differences in
Europe is the diversity of languages. We say this man is a
German, the other is an Italian, then we meet an Englishman
and then again a Frenchman. Although they belong
to the same race, yet language is the greatest barrier between
them. Were a universal auxiliary language in operation
they would all be considered as one.
His Holiness Baha'u'llah wrote about this international
language more than forty years ago. He says that as long
as an international language is not adopted, complete
union between the various sections of the world will be
unrealized, for we observe that misunderstandings keep
people from mutual association, and these misunderstandings
will not be dispelled except through an international
auxiliary language.
Generally speaking, the whole people of the Orient are
not fully informed of events in the West, neither can the
Westerners put themselves in sympathetic touch with
the Easterners; their thoughts are enclosed in a casket
-- the international language will be the master key to
open it. Were we in possession of a universal language,
the Western books could easily be translated into that
language, and the Eastern peoples be informed of their
contents. In the same way the books of the East could be
translated into that language for the benefit of the people
in the West. The greatest means of progress towards the
union of East and West will be a common language. It
will make the whole world one home and become the
strongest impulse for human advancement. It will upraise
the standard of the oneness of humanity. It will make the
earth one universal commonwealth. It will be the cause
<p165>
of love between the children of men. It will cause good
fellowship between the various races.
Now, praise be to God that Dr. Zamenhof+F1 has invented
the Esperanto language. It has all the potential
qualities of becoming the international means of communication.
All of us must be grateful and thankful to
him for this noble effort; for in this way he has served his
fellowmen well. With untiring effort and self-sacrifice on
the part of its devotees Esperanto will become universal.
Therefore every one of us must study this language and
spread it as far as possible so that day by day it may receive
a broader recognition, be accepted by all nations
and governments of the world, and become a part of the
curriculum in all the public schools. I hope that Esperanto
will be adopted as the language of all the future
international conferences and congresses, so that all
people need acquire only two languages -- one their own
tongue and the other the international language. Then
perfect union will be established between all the people
of the world. Consider how difficult it is today to communicate
with various nations. If one studies fifty
languages one may yet travel through a country and not
know the language. Therefore I hope that you will make
the utmost effort, so that this language of Esperanto
may be widely spread.

While these allusions to Esperanto are specific and encouraging,
it remains true that until the House of Justice has acted
on the matter in accordance with Baha'u'llah's instruction the
Baha'i Faith is not committed to Esperanto nor to any other
living or artificial tongue. Abdu'l-Baha Himself said: "The
love and effort put into Esperanto will not be lost, but no one
person can construct a Universal Language." -- Abdu'l-Baha in
London, p. 95.
Which language to adopt, and whether it is to be a natural
------------------------
1. It is of interest that Zamenhof's daughter, Lydia, became an active
Baha'i.
<p166>
or constructed one, is a decision which the nations of the world
will have to make.


Universal League of Nations

Another proposal frequently and powerfully advocated by
Baha'u'llah was that a Universal League of Nations should be
formed for the maintenance of international peace. In a letter to
Queen Victoria, written while He was still a prisoner in the
barracks of Akka,+F1 He said: --

O Rulers of the earth! Be reconciled among yourselves,
that ye may need no more armaments save in a measure to
safeguard your territories and dominions. ...
Be united, O Kings of the earth, for thereby will the
tempest of discord be stilled amongst you, and your people
find rest. ... Should any one among you take up arms
against another, rise ye all against him, for this is naught
but manifest justice.

In 1875, Abdu'l-Baha gave a forecast of the establishment
of a Universal League of Nations, which is especially interesting
at the present time+F2 in view of the strenuous attempts now
being made to establish such a league. He wrote: --

True civilization will unfurl its banner in the midmost
heart of the world whenever a certain number of its
distinguished and high-minded sovereigns -- the shining
exemplars of devotion and determination -- shall, for the
good and happiness of all mankind, arise, with firm resolve
and clear vision, to establish the Cause of Universal
Peace. They must make the Cause of Peace the object
of general consultation, and seek by every means in their
power to establish a Union of the nations of the world.
They must conclude a binding treaty and establish a
covenant, the provisions of which shall be sound, inviolable
and definite. They must proclaim it to all the
------------------------
1. 1868 to 1870.
2. The author wrote this passage in 1919-1920.
<p167>
world and obtain for it the sanction of all the human race.
This supreme and noble undertaking -- the real source
of the peace and well-being of all the world -- should be
regarded as sacred by all that dwell on earth. All the
forces of humanity must be mobilized to ensure the
stability and permanence of this Most Great Covenant.
In this all-embracing Pact the limits and frontiers of each
and every nation should be clearly fixed, the principles
underlying the relations of governments towards one another
definitely laid down, and all international agreements
and obligations ascertained. In like manner, the
size of the armaments of every government should be
strictly limited, for if the preparations for war and the
military forces of any nation should be allowed to increase,
they will arouse the suspicion of others. The fundamental
principle underlying this solemn Pact should be
so fixed that if any government later violate any one of
its provisions, all the governments on earth should arise
to reduce it to utter submission, nay the human race as a
whole should resolve, with every power at its disposal, to
destroy that government. Should this greatest of all remedies
be applied to the sick body of the world, it will assuredly
recover from its ills and will remain eternally safe
and secure. -- The Secret of Divine Civilization, pp. 64-65.

Baha'is see grave deficiencies in the structure of the League
of Nations+F1 which falls short of the type of institution which
Baha'u'llah described as essential to the establishment of world
peace. On December 17, 1919, Abdu'l-Baha declared: --

At present Universal Peace is a matter of great importance,
but unity of conscience is essential, so that the
foundation of this matter may become secure, its establishment
firm and its edifice strong. ... Although the
League of Nations has been brought into existence, yet it
is incapable of establishing Universal Peace. But the Supreme
Tribunal which His Holiness Baha'u'llah has described
------------------------
1. The same considerations apply to the United Nations Organization.
<p168>
will fulfill this sacred task with the utmost might and
power.


International Arbitration

Baha'u'llah also advocated the establishment of an international
court of arbitration, so that differences arising between
nations might be settled in accordance with justice and reason,
instead of by appeal to the ordeal of battle.
In a letter to the Secretary of the Mohonk Conference on
International Arbitration, in August 1911, Abdu'l-Baha
said: --

About fifty years ago in the Book of Aqdas, Baha'u'llah
commanded people to establish universal peace and
summoned all the nations to the divine banquet of international
arbitration, so that the questions of boundaries,
of national honor and property, and of vital interests between
nations might be settled by an arbitral court of justice,
and that no nation would dare to refuse to abide by
the decisions thus arrived at. If any quarrel between
two nations it must be adjudicated by this international
court and be arbitrated and decided upon like the judgment
rendered by the Judge between two individuals. If at
any time any nation dares to break such a decision, all the
other nations must arise to put down this rebellion.

Again, in one of His Paris talks in 1911, He said: --

A supreme tribunal shall be established by the peoples
and governments of every nation, composed of members
elected from each country and government. The members
of this great council shall assemble in unity. All disputes
of an international character shall be submitted to this
court, its work being to arrange by arbitration everything
which otherwise would be a cause of war. This mission of
this tribunal would be to prevent war.

During the quarter of a century preceding the establishment
of the League of Nations a permanent Court of Arbitration
<p169>
was established at The Hague (1900), and many arbitration
treaties were signed, but most of these fell far short of the comprehensive
proposals of Baha'u'llah. No arbitration treaty was
made between two great Powers in which all matters of dispute
were included. Differences affecting "vital interests,"
"honor" and "independence" were specifically excepted. Not
only so, but effective guarantees that nations would abide by
the terms of the treaties into which they had entered were lacking.
In the Baha'i proposals, on the other hand, questions of
boundaries, of national honor and of vital interest are expressly
included, and agreements will have the supreme guarantee
of the World League of Nations behind them. Only when
these proposals are completely carried out will international arbitration
attain the full scope of its beneficent possibilities and the
curse of war be finally banished from the world.


Limitation of Armaments

Abdu'l-Baha says: --

By a general agreement all the governments of the
world must disarm simultaneously. It will not do if one
lays down its arms and the others refuse to do so. The nations
of the world must concur with each other concerning
this supremely important subject, so that they may
abandon together the deadly weapons of human slaughter.
As long as one nation increases her military and naval
budget other nations will be forced into this crazed
competition through their natural and supposed interests.
-- Diary of Mirza Ahmad Sohrab, May 11-14, 1914.


Nonresistence

As a religious body, Baha'is have, at the express command
of Baha'u'llah, entirely abandoned the use of armed force in
their own interests, even for strictly defensive purposes. In
Persia many, many thousands of the Babis and Baha'is have
suffered cruel deaths because of their faith. In the early days
<p170>
of the Cause the Babis on various occasions defended themselves
and their families by the sword, with great courage and
bravery. Baha'u'llah, however, forbade this. Abdu'l-Baha
writes: --

When Baha'u'llah appeared, He declared that the promulgation
of the truth by such means must on no account
be allowed, even for purposes of self-defense. He abrogated
the rule of the sword and annulled the ordinance of
"Holy War." "If ye be slain," said He, "it is better for you
than to slay. It is through the firmness and assurance of
the faithful that the Cause of the Lord must be diffused.
As the faithful, fearless and undaunted, arise with absolute
detachment to exalt the Word of God, and, with eyes
averted from the things of this world, engaged in service
for the Lord's sake and by His power, thereby will they
cause the Word of Truth to triumph. These blessed souls
bear witness by their lifeblood to the truth of the Cause
and attest it by the sincerity of their faith, their devotion
and their constancy. The Lord can avail to diffuse His
Cause and to defeat the froward. We desire no defender
but Him, and with our lives in our hands face the foe and
welcome martyrdom." (written by Abdu'l-Baha for this
book).

Baha'u'llah wrote to one of the persecutors of His cause: --

Gracious God! This people need no weapons of destruction,
inasmuch as they have girded themselves to reconstruct
the world. Their hosts are the hosts of goodly
deeds, and their arms the arms of upright conduct, and
their commander the fear of God. Blessed that one that
judgeth with fairness. By the righteousness of God! Such
hath been the patience, the calm, the resignation of contentment
of this people that they have become the exponents
of justice, and so great hath been their forbearance,
that they have suffered themselves to be killed rather than
kill, and this notwithstanding that these whom the world
hath wronged have endured tribulations the like of which
<p171>
the history of the world hath never recorded, nor the eyes
of any nation witnessed. What is it that could have induced
them to reconcile themselves to these grievous
trials, and to refuse to put forth a hand to repel them?
What could have caused such resignation and serenity?
The true cause is to be found in the band which the Pen of
Glory hath, day and night, chosen to impose, and in Our
assumption of the reins of authority, through the power
and might of Him Who is the Lord of all mankind. --
Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, pp. 74-75.

The soundness of Baha'u'llah's nonresistance policy has already
been proved by results. For every believer martyred in
Persia, the Baha'i faith has received a hundred new believers
into its fold, and the glad and dauntless way in which these
martyrs cast the crowns of their lives at the feet of their Lord
has furnished to the world the clearest proof that they had
found a new life for which death has no terrors, a life of ineffable
fullness and joy, compared with which the pleasures of
earth are but as dust in the balance, and the most fiendish
physical tortures but trifles light as air.


Righteous Warfare

Although Baha'u'llah, like Christ, counsels His follows as
individuals and as a religious body to adopt an attitude of nonresistance
and forgiveness toward their enemies, He teaches
that it is the duty of the community to prevent injustice and
oppression. If individuals are persecuted and injured it is wrong
for a community to allow pillage and murder to continue unchecked
within its borders. It is the duty of a good government
to prevent wrongdoing and to punish offenders.+F1 So also
with the community of nations. If one nation oppresses or injures
another, it is the duty of all other nations to unite to prevent
such oppression. Abdu'l-Baha writes: -- "It may happen
that at a given time warlike and savage tribes may furiously
------------------------
1. See also section on Treatment of Criminals, pp. 153-155.
<p172>
attack the body politic with the intention of carrying on a
wholesale slaughter of its members; under such a circumstance
defense is necessary."
Hitherto the usual practice of mankind has been that if one
nation attacked another, the rest of the nations of the world
remained neutral, and accepted no responsibility in the matter
unless their own interests were directly affected or threatened.
The whole burden of defense was left to the nation attacked,
however weak and helpless it might be. The teaching of
Baha'u'llah reverses this position and throws the responsibility
of defense not specially on the nation attacked, but on all the
others, individually and collectively. As the whole of mankind
is one community, an attack on any one nation is an attack on
the community, and ought to be dealt with by the community.
Were this doctrine generally recognized and acted on, any nation
contemplating an aggression on another would know in
advance that it would have to reckon with the opposition not
of that other nation only, but of the whole of the rest of the
world. This knowledge alone would be sufficient to deter even
the boldest and most bellicose of nations. When a sufficiently
strong league of peace-loving nations is established war will,
there, become a thing of the past. During the period of
transition from the old state of international anarchy to the
new state of international solidarity aggressive wars will still
be possible, and in these circumstances, military or other coercive
action in the cause of international justice, unity and
peace may be a positive duty. Abdu'l-Baha writes that in such
case: --

A conquest can be a praiseworthy thing, and there are
times when war becomes the powerful basis of peace, and
ruin the very means of reconstruction. If, for example, a
high-minded sovereign marshals his troops to block the
onset of the insurgent and the aggressor, or again, if he
takes the field and distinguishes himself in a struggle to
unify a divided state and people, if, in brief, he is waging
war for a righteous purpose, then this seeming wrath is
mercy itself, and this apparent tyranny the very substance
<p173>
of justice and this warfare the cornerstone of peace. Today,
the task befitting great rulers is to establish universal
peace, for in this lies the freedom of all peoples. -- The
Secret of Divine Civilization, pp. 70-71.


Unity of East and West

Another factor which will help in bringing about universal
peace is the linking together of the East and the West. The
Most Great Peace is no mere cessation of hostilities, but a fertilizing
union and cordial cooperation of the hitherto sundered
peoples of the earth which will bear much precious fruit. In
one of His talks in Paris, Abdu'l-Baha said: --

In the past, as in the present, the Spiritual Sun of Truth
has always shone from the horizon of the East. In the East
Moses arose to lead and teach the people. On the Eastern
horizon rose the Lord Christ. Muhammad was sent to an
Eastern nation. The Bab arose in the Eastern land of Persia.
Baha'u'llah lived and taught in the East. All the great
spiritual teachers arose in the Eastern world.
But although the Sun of Christ dawned in the East, the
radiance thereof was apparent in the West, where the
effulgence of its glory was more clearly seen. The divine
light of His teaching shone with a greater force in the
Western world, where it has made more rapid headway
than in the land of its birth.
In these days the East is in need of material progress
and the West is in need of a spiritual ideal. It would be
well for the West to turn to the East for illumination, and
to give in exchange its scientific knowledge. There must
be this interchange of gifts. The East and the West must
unite to give to each other what is lacking. This union will
bring about true civilization where the spiritual is expressed
and carried out in the material. Receiving thus,
the one from the other, the greatest harmony will prevail,
all people will be united, a state of great perfection will be
attained, there will be a firm cementing, and this world
<p174>
will become a shining mirror for the reflection of the attributes
of God.
We all, the Eastern and the Western nations, must
strive day and night, with heart and soul, to achieve this
high ideal, to cement the unity between all the nations of
the earth. Every heart will then be refreshed, all eyes will
be opened, the most wonderful power will be given, the
happiness of humanity will be assured. ... This will be
the Paradise which is to come on earth, when all mankind
will be gathered together under the Tent of Unity in the
Kingdom of Glory.
<p175>
Various Ordinances and Teachings/11

Know thou that in every age and dispensation all divine ordinances
are changed and transformed according to the requirement
of the time, except the law of love, which, like a
fountain, always flows and is never overtaken by change. --
BAHA'U'LLAH.


Monastic Life

Baha'u'llah, like Muhammad, forbids His followers to lead
lives of monastic seclusion.
In the Tablet to Napoleon III we read: --

O concourse of monks! Seclude not yourselves in
churches and cloisters. Come forth by My leave, and occupy
yourselves with that which will profit your souls and
the souls of men. ... Enter ye into wedlock, that after
you someone may fill your place. We have forbidden you
perfidious acts, and not that which will demonstrate fidelity.
Have ye clung to the standards fixed by your own
selves, and cast the standards of God behind your backs?
Fear God, and be not of the foolish. But for man, who
would make mention of Me on My earth, and how could
My attributes and My name have been revealed? Ponder
ye, and be not of them that are veiled and fast asleep. He
that wedded not (Jesus) found no place wherein to dwell
or lay His head, by reason of that which the hands of the
treacherous had wrought. His sanctity consisteth not in
that which ye believe or fancy, but rather in the things
We possess. Ask, that ye may apprehend His station
<p176>
which hath been exalted above the imaginings of all that
dwell on earth. Blessed are they who perceive it.

Does it not seem strange that Christian sects should have instituted
the monastic life and celibacy for the clergy, in view of
the facts that Christ chose married men for His disciples, and
both He Himself and His apostles lived lives of active beneficence,
in close association and familiar intercourse with the
people?
In the Muhammadan Qur'an we read: --

To Jesus the son of Mary We gave the Gospel, and We
put into the hearts of those who followed Him kindness
and compassion: but as to the monastic life, they invented
it themselves. The desire only of pleasing god did
We prescribe to them, and this they observed not as it
ought to have been observed. -- Qur'an, s. lviii. 27.

Whatever justification there may have been for the monastic
life in ancient times and bygone circumstances, Baha'u'llah
declares that such justification no longer exists; and, indeed, it
seems obvious that the withdrawal of a large number of the
most pious and God-fearing of the population from association
with their fellows, and from the duties and responsibilities
of parenthood, must result in the spiritual impoverishment of
the race.


Marriage

The Baha'i teachings enjoin monogamy, and Baha'u'llah
makes marriage conditional on the consent of both parties and
of their parents. He says in the Book of Aqdas: --

Verily in the Book of Bayan (the Bab's Revelation)
the matter is restricted to the consent of both (bride and
bridegroom). As We desired to bring about love and
friendship and the unity of the people, therefore We made
<p177>
it conditional upon the consent of the parents also, that
enmity and ill-feeling might be avoided. -- Kitab-i-Aqdas.

On this point Abdu'l-Baha wrote to an inquirer: -- "As to
the question of marriage, according to the law of God: First
you must select one, and then it depends on the consent of the
father and mother. Before your selection they have no right of
interference."
Abdu'l-Baha says that as a result of this precaution of
Baha'u'llah's the strained relations between relatives-in-law
which have become proverbial in Christian and Muhammadan
countries are almost unknown among the Baha'is, and divorce
is also of very rare occurrence. He writes on the subject of
matrimony: --

Baha'i marriage is union and cordial affection between
the two parties. They must, however, exercise the utmost
care and become acquainted with each other's character.
This eternal bond should be made secure by a firm covenant,
and the intention should be to foster harmony, fellowship
and unity and to attain everlasting life. ...
In a true Baha'i marriage the two parties must become
fully united both spiritually and physically, so that they
may attain eternal union throughout all the worlds of
God, and improve the spiritual life of each other. This is
Baha'i matrimony.

The Baha'i marriage ceremony is very simple, the only requirement
being that the groom and the bride, in the presence
of at least two witnesses, each say: "We will all, verily,
abide by the Will of God."


Divorce

In the matter of divorce, as in that of marriage, the instructions
of the Prophets have varied in accordance with the circumstances
of the times. Abdu'l-Baha states the Baha'i teaching,
with regard to divorce, thus: --
<p178>
The friends (Baha'is) must strictly refrain from divorce
unless something arises which compels them to
separate because of their aversion for each other; in that
case, with the knowledge of the Spiritual Assembly, they
may decide to separate. They must then be patient and
wait one complete year. If during this year harmony is not
reestablished between them, then their divorce may be
realized. ... The foundation of the Kingdom of God is
based upon harmony and love, oneness, relationship and
union, not upon differences, especially between husband
and wife. If one of these two become the cause of divorce,
that one will unquestionably fall into great difficulties,
will become the victim of formidable calamities and experience
deep remorse. (Tablet to the Baha'is of America).

In the matter of divorce, as in other matters, Baha'is will, of
course, be bound not only by the Baha'i teaching, but also by
the laws of the country in which they live.


The Baha'i Calendar

Among different peoples and at different times many different
methods have been adopted for the measurement of time
and fixing of dates, and several different calendars are still in
daily use, e.g., the Gregorian in Western Europe, the Julian in
many countries of Eastern Europe, the Hebrew among the
Jews, and the Muhammadan in Muslim communities.
The Bab signalized the importance of the dispensation
which He came to herald, by inaugurating a new calendar. In
this, as in the Gregorian Calendar, the lunar month is abandoned
and the solar year is adopted.
The Baha'i year consists of 19 months of 19 days each (i.e.
361 days), with the addition of certain "Intercalary Days"
(four in ordinary and five in leap years) between the eighteenth
and nineteenth months in order to adjust the calendar
to the solar year. The Bab named the months after the attributes
of God. The Baha'i New Year, like the ancient Persian
<p179>
New Year, is astronomically fixed, commencing at the
March equinox (usually March 21), and the Baha'i era commences
with the year of the Bab's declaration (i.e. 1844 A.D.,
1260 A.H.).
In the not far distant future it will be necessary that all peoples
in the world agree on a common calendar.
It seems, therefore, fitting that the new age of unity should
have a new calendar free from the objections and associations
which make each of the older calendar unacceptable to large
sections of the world's population, and it is difficult to see how
any other arrangement could exceed in simplicity and convenience
that proposed by the Bab.
The months in the Baha'i Calendar are as follows:

x Arabic Name x Translation x First Days
x x x
x x x
1st x Baha x Splendor x March 21
2nd x Jalal x Glory x April 9
3rd x Jamal x Beauty x April 28
4th x Azamat x Grandeur x May 17
5th x Nur x Light x June 5
6th x Rahmat x Mercy x June 24
7th x Kalimat x Words x July 31
8th x Kamal x Perfection x Aug. 1
9th x Asma' x Names x Aug. 20
10th x `Izzat x Might x Sept. 8
11th x Mashiyyat x Will x Sept. 27
12th x `Ilm x Knowledge x Oct. 16
13th x Qudrat x Power x Nov. 4
14th x Qawl x Speech x Nov. 23
15th x Masa'il x Questions x Dec. 12
16th x Sharaf x Honor x Dec. 31
17th x Sultan x Sovereignty x Jan. 19
18th x Mulk x Dominion x Feb. 7
Intercalary Days Feb. 26 to March 1, inclusive.
19th x Ala' x Loftiness x March 2
x x x


Spiritual Assemblies

Before Abdu'l-Baha completed His earthly mission, He had laid a basis for
the development of the administrative order
<p180>
established in Baha'u'llah's Writings. To show the high importance
to be attributed to the institution of the Spiritual Assembly,
Abdu'l-Baha in a tablet declared that a certain translation
must be approved by the Spiritual Assembly of Cairo before
publication, even though He Himself had reviewed and corrected
the text.
By Spiritual Assembly is meant the administrative body of
nine persons, elected annually by each local Baha'i community,
in which is vested the authority of decision on all matters of
mutual action on the part of the community. This designation
is temporary, since in future the Spiritual Assemblies will be
termed Houses of Justice.
Unlike the organization of churches, these Baha'i bodies are
social rather than ecclesiastical institutions. That is, they apply
the law of consultation to all questions and difficulties arising
between Baha'is, who are called upon no to carry them to the
civil court, and seek to promote unity as well as justice
throughout the community. The Spiritual Assembly is in no
wise equivalent to the priest or clergy, but is responsible for
upholding the teachings, stimulating active service, conducting
meetings, maintaining unity, holding Baha'i property in trust
for the community, and representing it in its relations to the
public and to other Baha'i communities.
The nature of the Spiritual Assembly, local and national, is
described more fully in the section devoted to the Will and Testament
of Abdu'l-Baha in the final chapter, but its general functions
have been defined by Shoghi Effendi as follows: --

The matter of Teaching, its direction, its ways
and means, its extension, its consolidation, essential as they
are to the interests of the Cause, constitute by no means
the only issue which should receive the full attention of
these Assemblies. A careful study of Baha'u'llah's and
Abdu'l-Baha's Tablets will reveal that other duties, no
less vital to the interests of the Cause, devolve upon the
elected representatives of the friends in every locality.
It is incumbent upon them to be vigilant and cautious,
discreet and watchful, and protect at all times the Temple
<p181>
of the Cause from the dart of the mischief-maker and the
onslaught of the enemy.
They must endeavor to promote amity and concord
amongst the friends, efface every lingering trace of distrust,
coolness and estrangement from every heart, and
secure in its stead an active and whole-hearted cooperation
for the service of the Cause.
They must do their utmost to extend at all times the
helping hand to the poor, the sick, the disabled, the orphan,
the widow, irrespective of color, caste and creed.
They must promote by every means in their power the
material as well as the spiritual enlightenment of youth,
the means for the education of children, institute,
whenever possible, Baha'i educational institutions, organize
and supervise their work and provide the best means
for their progress and development. ...
They must undertake the arrangement of the regular
meetings of the friends, the feasts and the anniversaries, as
well as the special gatherings designed to serve and promote
the social, intellectual and spiritual interests of their
fellow-men.
They must supervise in these days when the Cause is
still in its infancy all Baha'i publications and translations,
and provide in general for a dignified and accurate presentation
of all Baha'i literature and its distribution to the
general public.

The possibilities inherent in Baha'i institutions can only be
estimated when one realizes how rapidly modern civilization is
disintegrating for lack of that spiritual power which can alone
supply the necessary attitude of responsibility and humility to
the leaders and the requisite loyalty to the individual members
of society.


Baha'i Feasts, Anniversaries, and Days of Fasting

Feast of Naw-Ruz (Baha'i New Year), March 21.
Feast of Ridvan (Declaration of Baha'u'llah), April 21-
May 2.
<p182>
Declaration of the Bab, May 23.+F1
Ascension of Baha'u'llah, May 29.
Martyrdom of the Bab, July 9.
Birth of the Bab, October 20.
Birth of Baha'u'llah, November 12.
Day of the Covenant, November 26.
Ascension of Abdu'l-Baha, November 28.
Period of the Fast, nineteen days beginning March 2.


Feasts

The essential joyousness of the Baha'i religion finds expression
in numerous feasts and holidays throughout the year.
In a talk on the Feast of Naw-Ruz, in Alexandria, Egypt, in
1912, Abdu'l-Baha said: --

In the sacred laws of God, in every cycle and dispensation
there are blessed feasts, holidays and workless days.
On such days all kinds of occupations, commerce, industry,
agriculture, etc., should be suspended.
All should rejoice together, hold general meetings, become
as one assembly, so that the national oneness, unity
and harmony may be demonstrated in the eyes of all.
As it is a blessed day it should not be neglected, nor deprived
of results by making it a day devoted to the pursuit
of mere pleasure.
During such days institutions should be founded that
may be of permanent benefit and value to the
people. ...
Today there is no result or fruit greater than guiding
the people. Undoubtedly the friends of God, upon such a
day, must leave tangible philanthropic or ideal traces that
should reach all mankind and not pertain only to the
Baha'is. In this wonderful dispensation, philanthropic affairs
are for all humanity without exception, because it is
the manifestation of the mercifulness of God. Therefore,
------------------------
1. This date coincides with the birth of Abdu'l-Baha.
<p183>
my hope is that the friends of God, every one of them,
may become as the mercy of God to all mankind.

The Feasts of Naw-Ruz (New Year) and Ridvan, the Anniversaries
of the Birth of the Bab and Baha'u'llah, and of the
Bab's Declaration (which is also the birthday of Abdu'l-Baha)
are the great joy-days of the year for Baha'is. In Persia they are
celebrated by picnics or festal gatherings at which music, the
chanting of verses and tablets, and short addresses suitable to the
occasion are contributed by those present. The intercalary days
between the eighteenth and nineteenth months (that is, February
26 to March 1 inclusive) are specially devoted to hospitality
to friends, the giving of presents, ministering to the poor and
sick, et cetera.
The anniversaries of the martyrdom of the Bab and the departure
of Baha'u'llah and Abdu'l-Baha are celebrated with
solemnity by appropriate meetings and discourses, the chanting
of prayers and Tablets.


Fast

The nineteenth month, following immediately on the hospitality
of the intercalary days, is the month of the fast. During
nineteen days the fast is observed by abstaining from both food
and drink from sunrise to sunset. As the month of the fast ends
at the March equinox, the fast always falls in the same season,
namely, spring in the Northern, and autumn in the Southern,
Hemisphere; never in the extreme heart of summer nor in the
extreme cold of winter, when hardship would be likely to result.
At that season, moreover, the interval between sunrise
and sunset is approximately the same all over the habitable
portion of the globe, namely, from about 6 A.M. to 6 P.M. The
fast is not binding on children and invalids, on travelers, or on
those who are too old or too weak (including women who are
with child or have babes at the breast).
There is much evidence to show that a periodical fast such
as is enjoined by the Baha'i teachings is beneficial as a measure
of physical hygiene, but just as the reality of the Baha'i
<p184>
fast does not lie in the consumption of physical food, but in
the commemoration of God, which is our spiritual food, so the
reality of the Baha'i fast does not consist in abstention from
physical food, although that may help in the purification of the
body, but in the abstention from the desires and lusts of the
flesh, and in severance from all save God. Abdu'l-Baha
says: --

Fasting is a symbol. Fasting signifies abstinence from
lust. Physical fasting is a symbol of that abstinence, and
is a reminder; that is, just as a person abstains from physical
appetites, he is to abstain from self-appetites and self-desires.
But mere abstention from food has no effect on
the spirit. It is only a symbol, a reminder. Otherwise it is
of no importance. Fasting for this purpose does not mean
entire abstinence from food. The golden rule as to food
is, do not take too much or too little. Moderation is necessary.
There is a sect in India who practice extreme abstinence,
and gradually reduce their food until they exist
on almost nothing. But their intelligence suffers. A man
is not fit to do service for God with brain or body if he is
weakened by lack of food. He cannot see clearly. (quoted
by Miss E. S. Stevens in Fortnightly Review, June 1911).


Meetings

Abdu'l-Baha attaches the greatest important to regular
meetings of the believers for united worship, for the exposition
and study of the teachings and for consultation regarding the
progress of the Movement. In one of His Tablets He says: --

It hath been decided by the Desire of God that union
and harmony may day by day increase among the friends
of God and the handmaids of the Merciful. Not until this
is realized will the affairs advance by any means whatever!
And the greatest means for the union and harmony
of all are Spiritual Meetings. This matter is very important
<p185>
and is as a magnet to attract divine confirmation.

In the spiritual meetings of Baha'is contentious argument
and the discussion of political or worldly affairs must be
avoided; the sole aim of the believers should be to teach and
learn Divine Truth, to have their hearts filled with Divine Love,
to attain more perfect obedience to the Divine Will, and to
promote the coming of the Kingdom of God. In an address
given at New York in 1912, Abdu'l-Baha said: --

The Baha'i meeting must be the meeting of the Celestial
Concourse. It must be illumined by the lights of the
Celestial Concourse. The hearts must be as mirrors
wherein the lights of the Sun of Truth shall be revealed.
Every bosom must be as a telegraph station: one terminal
of the wire shall be in the bosom of the soul, the other in
the Celestial Concourse, so that messages may be exchanged
between them. In this way from the Abha Kingdom
inspiration shall flow and in all discussions harmony
shall prevail. ... The more agreement, unity and love
prevail among you, the more shall the confirmations of
God assist you, and the help and aid of the Blessed
Beauty, Baha'u'llah, support you.

In one of His Tablets He said: --

In these meetings outside conversation must be entirely
avoided, and the gathering must be confined to chanting
the verses and reading the words, and to matters which
concern the Cause of God, such as explaining proofs, adducing
clear and manifest evidences, and tracing the
signs of the Beloved One of the creatures. Those who attend
the meeting must, before entering, be arrayed with
the utmost cleanliness and turn to the Abha Kingdom,
and then enter the meeting with all meekness and humbleness;
and while the tablets are being read, must be
quiet and silent; and if one wishes to speak he must do so
<p186>
with all courtesy, with the satisfaction and permission of
those present, and do it with eloquence and fluency.


The Nineteen Day Feast

With the development of the Baha'i administrative order
since the ascension of Abdu'l-Baha, the Nineteen Day Feast,
observed on the first day of each Baha'i month, has assumed a
very special importance, providing as it does not only for community
prayer and reading from the Holy Books, but also for
general consultation on all current Baha'i affairs and for the
association of the friends together. This Feast is the occasion
when the Spiritual Assembly makes its reports to the community
and invites both discussion of plans and suggestions for new
and better methods of service.


Mashriqu'l-Adhkar+F1

Baha'u'llah left instructions that temples of worship should
be built by His followers in every country and city. To these
temples He gave the name of "Mashriqu'l-Adhkar," which
means "Dawning Place of God's Praise." The Mashriqu'l-Adhkar
is to be a nine-sided building surmounted by a dome,
and as beautiful as possible in design and workmanship. It is
to stand in a large garden adorned with fountains, trees and
flowers, surrounded by a number of accessory buildings devoted
to educational, charitable and social purposes, so that
the worship of God in the temple may always be closely associated
with reverent delight in the beauties of nature and of
art, and with practical work for the amelioration of social
conditions.+F2
------------------------
1. (Pronounced Azkar).
2. In connection with the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar it is interesting to
recall Tennyson's lines: --
I dreamed
That stone by stone I reared a sacred fane,
A temple, neither Pagod, Mosque nor Church,
But loftier, simpler, always open-doored
To every breath from heaven, and Truth and Peace
And Love and Justice came and dwelt therein."
Akbar's Dream, 1892
<p187>
In Persia, up till the present, Baha'is have been debarred
from building temples for public worship, and so the first great
Mashriqu'l-Adhkar was built in Ishqabad,+F1 Russia. Abdu'l-Baha
dedicated the site of the second Baha'i House of Worship,
to stand on the shore of Lake Michigan a few miles north
of Chicago, during His visit to America in 1912.+F2
In tablets referring to this "Mother Temple" of the West,
Abdu'l-Baha writes as follows: --

Praise be to God, that, at this moment, from every
country in the world, according to their various means,
contributions are continually being sent toward the fund
of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar in America. ... From the day
of Adam until now, such a thing has never been witnessed
by man, that from the furthermost country of Asia contributions
were forwarded to America. This is through
the power of the Covenant of God. Verily this is a cause
of astonishment for the people of perception. It is hoped
that the believers of God may show magnanimity and
raise a great sum for the building. ... I want everyone
left free to act as he wills. If anyone wishes to put money
into other things, let him do so. Do not interfere with him
in any way, but be assured that the most important thing at
this time is the building of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar.
... The mystery of the edifice is great, and cannot be unveiled
yet, but its erection is the most important undertaking
of this day. The Mashriqu'l-Adhkar has important
accessories, which are accounted of the basic foundations.
These are: school for orphan children, hospital and dispensary
for the poor, home for the incapable, college for
the higher scientific education, and hospice. In every city
a great Mashriqu'l-Adhkar must be founded after this order.
------------------------
1. This first House of Worship was seriously damaged in an earthquake in
1948 and had to be demolished some years later.
2. This Temple was completed in 1953. Since then other Baha'i
Temples have been constructed in Kampala, Uganda; Sydney, Australia;
Frankfurt, Germany; Panama City, Panama; and two more are being built in
India and Samoa. At the present time, 1979, sites for 123 others have been
purchased. (See Epilogue)
<p188>
In the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar services will be held every
morning. There will be no organ in the Temple. In buildings
nearby, festivals, services, conventions, public meetings
and spiritual gatherings will be held, but in the Temple
the chanting and singing will be unaccompanied.
Open ye the gates of the Temple to all mankind.
When these institutions, college, hospital, hospice and
establishment for the incurables, university for the study
of higher sciences, giving post-graduate courses, and
other philanthropic buildings are built, the doors will be
opened to all the nations and religions. There will be absolutely
no line of demarcation drawn. Its charities will
be dispense irrespective of color or race. Its gates will be
flung wide open to mankind; prejudice towards none, love
for all. The central building will be devoted to the purpose
of prayer and worship. Thus ... religion will become
harmonized with science, and science will be the
handmaid of religion, both showering their material and
spiritual gifts on all humanity.


Life After Death

Baha'u'llah tells us that the life in the flesh is but the embryonic
stage of our existence, and that escape from the body
is like a new birth through which the human spirit enters on a
fuller, freer life. He writes: --

Know thou of a truth that the soul, after its separation
from the body, will continue to progress until it attaineth
the presence of God, in a state and condition which neither
the revolution of ages and centuries, nor the changes
and chances of this world, can alter. It will endure as
long as the Kingdom of God, His sovereignty, His dominion
and power will endure. It will manifest the signs of
God and His attributes, and will reveal His loving kindness
and bounty. The movement of My Pen is stilled when
it attempteth to befittingly describe the loftiness and glory
of so exalted a station. The honor with which the Hand of
<p189>
Mercy will invest the soul is such as no tongue can adequately
reveal, nor any other earthly agency describe.
Blessed is the soul which, at the hour of its separation
from the body, is sanctified from the vain imaginings of
the peoples of the world. Such a soul liveth and moveth in
accordance with the Will of its Creator, and entereth the
all-highest Paradise. The Maids of Heaven, inmates of
the loftiest mansions, will circle around it, and the Prophets
of God and His chosen ones will seek its companionship.
With them that soul will freely converse, and will
recount unto them that which it hath been made to endure
in the path of God, the Lord of all worlds. If any
man be told that which hath been ordained for such a
soul in the worlds of God, the Lord of the throne on high
and of earth below, his whole being will instantly blaze
out in his great longing to attain that most exalted, that
sanctified and resplendent station. ... The nature of the
soul after death can never be described, nor is it meet and
permissible to reveal its whole character to the eyes of
men. The Prophets and Messengers of God have been
sent down for the sole purpose underlying their
revelation hath been to educate all men, that they may,
at the hour of death, ascend, in the utmost purity and
sanctity and with absolute detachment, to the throne of
the Most High. The light which these souls radiate is responsible
for the progress of the world and the advancement
of its peoples. They are like unto leaven which leaveneth
the world of being, and constitute the animating
force through which the arts and wonders of the world
are made manifest. Through them the clouds rain their
bounty upon men, and the earth bringeth forth its fruits.
All things must needs have a cause, a motive power, an
animating principle. These souls and symbols of detachment
have provided, and will continue to provide, the supreme
moving impulse in the world of being. The world
beyond is as different from this world as this world is
different from that of the child while still in the womb of
<p190>
its mother. -- Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah,
pp. 155-157.

Similarly, Abdu'l-Baha writes: --

The mysteries of which man is heedless in the earthly
world, those will he discover in the heavenly world, and
there will he be informed of the secrets of the truth; how
much more will he recognize or discover persons with
whom he has been associated. Undoubtedly the holy souls
who find a pure eye and are favored with insight will, in
the kingdom of lights, be acquainted with all mysteries,
and will seek the bounty of witnessing the reality of every
great soul. They will even manifestly behold the Beauty
of God in that world. Likewise will they find all the
friends of God, both those of the former and recent times,
present in the heavenly assemblage.
The difference and distinction between men will naturally
become realized after their departure from this mortal
world. But this distinction is not in respect to place,
but in respect to the soul and the conscience. For the Kingdom
of God is sanctified (or free) from time and place;
it is another world and another universe. And know
thou for a certainty that in the divine worlds the spiritual
beloved ones will recognize one another, and will seek
union with each other, but a spiritual union. Likewise a
love that one may have entertained for anyone will not be
forgotten in the world of the Kingdom, nor wilt thou forget
there the life that thou hadst in the material world.


Heaven and Hell

Baha'u'llah and Abdu'l-Baha regard the descriptions of
Heaven and Hell given in some of the older religious writings
as symbolic, like the Biblical story of the Creation, and not as
literally true. According to Them, Heaven is the state of perfection,
and Hell that of imperfection; Heaven is harmony with
God's will and with our fellows, and Hell is the want of such
<p191>
harmony; Heaven is the condition of spiritual life, and Hell that
of spiritual death. A man may be either in Heaven or in Hell
while still in the body. The joys of Heaven are spiritual joys;
and the pains of Hell consist in the deprivation of these joys.
Abdu'l-Baha says:

When they [men] are delivered through the light of
faith from the darkness of these vices, and become illuminated
with the radiance of the sun of reality, and ennobled
with all the virtues, they esteem this the greatest
reward, and they know it to be the true paradise. In the
same way they consider that the spiritual punishment
... is to be subjected to the world of nature, to be veiled
from God, to be brutal and ignorant, to fall into carnal
lusts, to be absorbed in animal frailties, to be characterized
with dark qualities ... these are the greatest punishments
and tortures. ...
... The rewards of the other world are the perfections
and the peace obtained in the spiritual worlds after leaving
this world ... the spiritual graces, the various spiritual
gifts in the Kingdom of God, the gaining of the desires of
the heart and the soul, and the meeting of God in the
world of eternity. In the same way the punishments of the
other world ... consist in being deprived of the special
divine blessings and the absolute bounties, and falling into
the lowest degrees of existence. He who is deprived of
these divine favours, although he continues after death, is
considered as dead by the people of truth.
The wealth of the other world is nearness to God. Consequently
it is certain that those who are near the Divine
Court are allowed to intercede, and this intercession is
approved by God. ...
It is even possible that the condition of those who have
died in sin and unbelief may become changed; that is to
say, they may become the object of pardon through the
bounty of God, not through His justice; for bounty if giving
without desert, and justice is giving what is deserved.
As we have the power to pray for these souls here, so likewise
<p192>
we shall possess the same power in the other world,
which is the Kingdom of God. ... Therefore in that
world also they can make progress. As here they can receive
light by their supplications, there also they can
plead for forgiveness, and receive light through entreaties
and supplications.
Both before and after putting off this material form,
there is progress in perfection, but not in state. ...
There is no other being higher than a perfect man. But
man when he has reached this state can still make progress
in perfections but not in state, because there is no
state higher than that of a perfect man to which he can
transfer himself. He only progresses in the state of humanity,
for the human perfections are infinite. Thus however
learned a man may be, we can imagine one more
learned.
Hence, as the perfections of humanity are endless, man
can also make progress in perfections after leaving this
world. -- Some Answered Questions, pp. 260, 261, 268,
269, 274.


Oneness of the Two Worlds

The unity of humanity as taught by Baha'u'llah refers not
only to men still in the flesh, but to all human beings, whether
embodied or disembodied. Not only all men now living on the
earth, but all in the spiritual world as well, are parts of one and
the same organism and these two parts are intimately dependent,
one on the other. Spiritual communion one with the other,
far from being impossible or unnatural, is constant and inevitable.
Those whose spiritual faculties are as yet undeveloped
are unconscious of this vital connection, but as one's faculties
develop, communications with those beyond the veil gradually
become more conscious and definite. To the Prophets and
saints this spiritual communion is as familiar and real as are
ordinary vision and conversation to the rest of mankind.
Abdu'l-Baha says: --
<p193>
The visions of the Prophets are not dreams; no, they
are spiritual discoveries and have reality. They say, for
example: "I saw a person in a certain form, and I said
such a thing, and he gave such an answer." This vision is
in the world of wakefulness, and not in that of sleep. Nay,
it is a spiritual discovery. ...
... Among spiritual souls there are spiritual understandings,
discoveries, a communion which is purified from
imagination and fancy, an association which is sanctified
from time and place. So it is written in the Gospel that on
Mount Tabor, Moses and Elias came to Christ, and it is
evident that this was not a material meeting. It was a
spiritual condition. ...
... [Communications such as] these are real, and produce
wonderful effects in the minds and thoughts of men,
and cause their hearts to be attracted. -- Some Answered
Questions, pp. 290, 291, 292.

While admitting the reality of "supernormal" psychic faculties
He deprecates attempts to force their development prematurely.
These faculties will unfold naturally when the right
time comes, if we only follow the path of spiritual progress
which the Prophets have traced for us. He says: --

To tamper with psychic forces while in this world interferes
with the condition of the soul in the world to
come. These forces are real, but, normally, are not active
on this plane. The child in the womb has its eyes, ears,
hands, feet, etc., but they are not in activity. The whole
purpose of life in the material world is the coming forth
into the world of Reality, where those forces will become
active. They belong to that world. (from Miss Buckton's
notes, revised by Abdu'l-Baha).

Intercourse with spirits of the departed ought not to be
sought for its own sake, nor in order to gratify idle curiosity. It
is both a privilege and duty, however, for those on one side of
the veil to love and help and pray for those on the other.
Prayers for the dead are enjoined on Baha'is. Abdu'l-Baha
said to Miss E. J. Rosenberg in 1904: "The grace of effective
<p194>
intercession is one of the perfections belonging to advanced
souls, as well as to the Manifestation of God. Jesus Christ had
the power of interceding for the forgiveness of His enemies
when on earth, and He certainly has this power now.
Abdu'l-Baha never mentions the name of a dead person without
saying `May God forgive him!' or words to that effect. Followers
of the prophets have also this power of praying for the forgiveness
of souls. Therefore we may not think that any souls are
condemned to a stationary condition of suffering or loss arising
from absolute ignorance of God. The power of effective intercession
for them always exists. ...
"The rich in the other world can help the poor, as the rich
can help the poor here. In every world all are the creatures of
God. They are always dependent on Him. They are not independent
and can never be so. While they are needful of God,
the more they supplicate, the richer they become. What is their
merchandise, their wealth? In the other world what is help and
assistance? It is intercession. Undeveloped souls must gain progress
at first through the supplications of the spiritually rich; afterwards
they can progress through their own supplications."
Again He says: -- "Those who have ascended have different
attributes from those who are still on earth, yet there is no real
separation.
"In prayer there is a mingling of station, a mingling of condition.
Pray for them as they pray for you!" -- Abdu'l-Baha in
London, p. 97.
Asked whether it was possible through faith and love to
bring the New Revelation to the knowledge of those who have
departed from this life without hearing of it, Abdu'l-Baha
replied: -- "Yes, surely! since sincere prayer always has its effect,
and it has a great influence in the other world. We are never
cut off from those who are there. The real and genuine
influence is not in this world but in that other." -- Notes of
Mary Hanford Ford: Paris, 1911.
On the other hand, Baha'u'llah writes: --

He who lives according to what is ordained for him
-- the Celestial Concourse, and the people of the Supreme
<p195>
Paradise, and those who are dwelling in the Dome of
Greatness will pray for him, by a Command from God,
the Dearest and the praiseworthy. (Tablet translated by Ali
Kuli Khan).

When Abdu'l-Baha was asked how it was that the heart
often turns with instinctive appeal to some friend who has passed
into the next life, He answered: -- "It is a law of God's creation
that the weak should lean upon the strong. Those to whom
you turn may be mediators of God's power to you, even as
when on earth. But it is the One Holy Spirit that strengthens all
men." -- Abdu'l-Baha in London, p. 98.


The Nonexistence of Evil

According to Baha'i philosophy it follows from the doctrine
of the unity of God that there can be no such thing as positive
evil. There can only be one Infinite. If there were any other
power in the universe outside of or opposed to the One, then
the One would not be infinite. Just as darkness is but the
absence or lesser degree of light, so evil is but the absence or
lesser degree of good -- the undeveloped state. A bad man is
a man with the higher side of his nature still undeveloped. If
he is selfish, the evil is not in his love of self -- all love, even
self-love, is good, is divine. The evil is that he has such a poor,
inadequate, misguided love of self and such a lack of love for
others and for God. He looks upon himself as only a superior
sort of animal, and foolishly pampers his lower nature as he
might pamper a pet dog -- with worse results in his own case
than in that of the dog.
In one of His letters Abdu'l-Baha says: --

As to thy remark, that Abdu'l-Baha hath said to some
of the believers that evil never exists, nay rather, it is a
nonexistent thing, this is but truth, inasmuch as the greatest
evil is man's going astray and being veiled from truth.
Error is lack of guidance; darkness is absence of light;
ignorance is lack of knowledge; falsehood is lack of truthfulness;
blindness is lack of sight; and deafness is lack
<p196>
of hearing. Therefore, error, blindness, deafness and ignorance
are nonexistent things.

Again He says: --

In creation there is no evil; all is good. Certain qualities
and natures innate in some men and apparently blameworthy
are not so in reality. For example, from the beginning
of his life you can see in a nursing child the
signs of desire, of anger, and of temper. Then, it may be
said, good and evil are innate in the reality of man, and
this is contrary to the pure goodness of nature and creation.
The answer to this is that desire, which is to ask for
something more, is a praiseworthy quality provided that it
is used suitably. So, if a man has the desire to acquire
science and knowledge, or to become compassionate,
generous and just, it is most praiseworthy. If he exercises
his anger and wrath against the bloodthirsty tyrants who
are like ferocious beasts, it is very praiseworthy; but if he
does not use these qualities in a right way, they are
blameworthy. ...
... It is the same with all the natural qualities of man,
which constitute the capital of life; if they be used and
displayed in an unlawful way, they become blameworthy.
Therefore it is clear that creation is purely good. -- Some
Answered Questions, pp. 250, 251.

Evil is always lack of life. If the lower side of man's nature
is disproportionately developed, the remedy is not less life for
that side, but more life for the higher side, so that the balance
may be restored. "I am come," said Christ, "that ye may
have life and that ye may have it more abundantly." That
is what we all need -- life, more life, the life that is life indeed!
Baha'u'llah's message is the same as Christ's. "Today," He
says, "this servant has assuredly come to vivify the world"
(Tablet to Ra'is), and to His followers He says: "Come ye
after Me, that We may make you to become quickeners of
mankind." (Tablet to the Pope.)
<p197>
Religion and Science/12

Ali, the son-in-law of Muhammad, said: "That which is in
conformity with science is also in conformity with religion."
Whatever the intelligence of man cannot understand, religion
ought not to accept. Religion and science walk hand in hand,
and any religion contrary to science is not the truth. -- ABDU'L-BAHA,
Wisdom of Abdu'l-Baha.


Conflict Due to Error

One of the fundamental teachings of Baha'u'llah is that true
science and true religion must always be in harmony. Truth is
one, and whenever conflict appears it is due, not to truth, but
to error. Between so-called science and so-called religion there
have been fierce conflicts all down the ages, but looking back
on these conflicts in the light of fuller truth we can trace them
every time to ignorance, prejudice, vanity, greed, narrow-mindedness,
intolerance, obstinacy or something of the kind --
something foreign to the true spirit of both science and religion,
for the spirit of both is one. As Huxley tells us, "The
great deeds of philosophers have been less the fruit of their
intellect than the direction of that intellect by an eminently
religious tone of mind. Truth has yielded herself rather to their
patience, their love, their single-heartedness and self-denial
than to their logical acumen." Boole, the mathematician, assures
us that "geometric induction is essentially a process of
prayer -- an appeal from the finite mind to the Infinite for light
on finite concerns." The great prophets of religion and science
have never denounced each other. It is the unworthy followers
of these great world teachers -- worshipers of the letter but not
of the spirit of their teaching -- who have always been the
persecutors of the later prophets and the bitterest opponents
of progress. They have studied the light of the particular revelation
<p198>
which they hold sacred, and have defined its properties
and peculiarities as seen by their limited vision, with the utmost
care and precision. That is for them the one true light. If God
in His infinite bounty sends fuller light from another quarter,
and the torch of inspiration burns brighter than before from
a new torchholder, instead of welcoming the new lights they are
angry and alarmed. This new light does not correspond with
their definitions. It has not the orthodox color, and does not
shine from the orthodox place, therefore it must at all costs
be extinguished lest it lead men astray into the paths of heresy!
Many enemies of the Prophets are of this type -- blind leaders
of the blind, who oppose new and fuller truth in the supposed
interests of what they believe to be the truth. Others are of
baser sort and are moved by selfish interests to fight against
truth, or else block the path of progress by reason of spiritual
deadness and inertia.


Persecution of Prophets

The great Prophets of religion have always been, at Their
coming, despised and rejected of men. Both They and Their
early followers have given their backs to the smiters and
sacrificed their possessions and their lives in the path of God.
Even in our own times this has been so. Since 1844 A.D., many
thousands of Babis and Baha'is in Persia have suffered cruel
deaths for their faith, and many more have borne imprisonment,
exile, poverty and degradation. The latest of the great
religions has been "baptized in blood" more than its predecessors,
and martyrdoms have continued down to the present day.
With the prophets of science the same thing has happened.
Giordano Bruno was burned as a heretic in 1600 A.D. for
teaching, amongst other things, that the earth moved around
the sun. A few years later the veteran philosopher Galileo had
to abjure the same doctrine on his knees in order to escape a
similar fate. In later times, Darwin and the pioneers of modern
geology were vehemently denounced for daring to dispute the
teaching of Holy Write that the world was made in six days,
<p199>
and less than six thousand years ago! The opposition to new
scientific truth has not all come from the Church, however.
The orthodox in science have been just as hostile to progress
as the orthodox in religion. Columbus was laughed to scorn by
the so-called scientists of his day, who proved to their own
satisfaction that if ships did succeed in getting down to the
Antipodes over the side of the globe, it would be absolutely
impossible for them to get up again! Galvani, the pioneer of
electrical science, was scoffed at by his learned colleagues, and
called the "frogs' dancing master." Harvey, who discovered
the circulation of the blood, was ridiculed and persecuted by
his professional brethren on account of his heresy and driven
from his lecture chair. When Stephenson invented his locomotive
engine, European mathematicians of the time, instead of
opening their eyes and studying the facts, continued for years
to prove to their own satisfaction that an engine on smooth
rails could never pull a load, as the wheels would simply slip
round and round and the train make no progress. To examples
like these one might add indefinitely, both from ancient and
modern history, and even from our own times. Dr. Zamenhof,
the inventor of Esperanto, had to battle for his wonderful
international language against the same sort of ridicule, contempt,
and stupid opposition which greeted Columbus, Galvani,
and Stephenson. Even Esperanto, which was given to the
world so recently as 1887, has had its martyrs.


The Dawn of Reconciliation

In the last half century or so, however, a change has come
over the spirit of the times, a New Light of Truth has arisen
which has already made the controversies of last century seem
strangely out of date. Where are now the boastful materialists
and dogmatic atheists who, only a few short years ago, were
threatening to drive religion out of the world? And where are
the preachers who so confidently consigned those who did not
accept their dogmas to the fires of hell and the tortures of the
damned? Echoes of their clamor we may still hear, but their
day is fast declining and their doctrines are being discredited.
<p200>
We can see now that the doctrines around which their controversies
waxed most bitter were neither true science nor true
religion. What scientist in the light of modern psychical research
could still maintain that "brain secretes thought as the
liver secretes bile"? Or that decay of the body is necessarily
accompanied by decay of the soul? We now see that thought
to be really free must soar to the realms of psychical and
spiritual phenomena and not be confined to the material only.
We realize that what we now know about nature is but as a
drop in the ocean compared with what remains to be discovered.
We therefore freely admit the possibility of miracles,
not indeed in the sense of the breaking of nature's laws, but as
manifestations of the operation of subtle forces which are still
unknown to us, as electricity and X rays were to our ancestors.
On the other hand, who amongst our leading religious teachers
would still declare it is necessary to salvation to believe that
the world was made in six days, or that the description of the
plagues in Egypt as given in the Book of Exodus is literally
true, or that the sun stood still in the heavens (that is, that the
earth stopped its rotation) to let Joshua pursue his enemies,
or that if a man accept not the creed of St. Athanasius, "without
doubt he shall perish everlastingly"? Such beliefs may still
be repeated in form, but who accepts them in their literal
sense and without reservation? Their hold on people's hearts
and minds has gone or is fast going. The religious world owes
a debt of gratitude to the men of science who helped to tear
such worn-out creeds and dogmas to tatters and allowed the
truth to step forth free. But the scientific world owes an even
heavier debt to the real saints and mystics who, through good
report and ill, held to the vital truths of spiritual existence
and demonstrated to an incredulous world that the life is more
than meat and the unseen greater than the seen. these scientists
and saints were like the mountain peaks which caught the
first rays of the rising sun and reflected them to the lower world,
but now the sun has risen and its rays are illuminating the
world. In the teachings of Baha'u'llah we have a glorious
revelation of truth which satisfies both heart and mind, in
which religion and science are at one.
<p201>
Search after Truth

Complete harmony with science is evident in the Baha'i
teachings regarding the way in which we must seek the truth.
Man must cut himself free from all prejudice so that he may
search after truth unhindered.
Abdu'l-Baha says: --

In order to find truth we must give up our prejudices,
our own small trivial notions; an open receptive mind is
essential. If our chalice is full of self, there is no room
in it for the water of life. The fact that we imagine ourselves
to be right and everybody else wrong is the greatest
of all obstacles in the path towards unity, and unity is
essential if we would reach Truth, for Truth is one. ...
No one truth can contradict another truth. Light is
good in whatsoever lamp it is burning! A rose is beautiful
in whatsoever garden it may bloom! A star has the
same radiance if it shines from the East or from the West!
Be free from prejudice; so will you love the Sun of Truth
from whatever point in the horizon it may arise. You will
realize that if the Divine Light of Truth shone in Jesus
Christ, it also shone in Moses and Buddha. This is what
is meant by the search after truth.
It also means that we must be willing to clear away all
that we have previously learned, all that would clog our
steps on the way to Truth; we must not shrink, if necessary,
from beginning our education all over again. We
must not allow our love for any one religion or any one
personality so to blind our eyes that we become fettered by
superstition. When we are freed from all these bonds, seeking
with liberal minds, then shall we be able to arrive at
our goal.


The Agnosticism

The Baha'i teaching is at one with science and philosophy
in declaring the essential nature of God to be entirely beyond
<p202>
human comprehension. As emphatically as Thomas Huxley
and Herbert Spencer teach that the nature of the Great First
Cause is unknowable, does Baha'u'llah teach that "God comprehends
all; He cannot be comprehended." To knowledge of
the Divine essence "the way is barred and road is impassable,"
for how can the finite comprehend the Infinite; how
can a drop contain the ocean or a mote dancing in the sunbeam
embrace the universe? Yet the whole universe is eloquent of
God. In each drop of water are hidden oceans of meaning,
and in each mote is concealed a whole universe of significances,
reaching far beyond the ken of the most learned scientist. The
chemist and physicist pursuing their researches into the nature
of matter have passed from masses to molecules, from molecules
to atoms, from atoms to electrons and ether, but at every
step the difficulties of the research increase till the most profound
intellect can penetrate no farther, and can but bow in
silent awe before the unknown Infinite which remains ever
shrouded in inscrutable mystery.

Flower in the crannied wall,
I pluck you out of the crannies.
I hold you here, root and all, in my hand,
Little flower -- but if I could understand
What you are, root and all, and all in all,
I should know what God and man is. -- TENNYSON.

If the flower in the crannied wall, if even a single atom of
matter, present mysteries which the most profound intellect
cannot solve, how is it possible for man to comprehend the
universe? How dare he pretend to define or describe the Infinite
cause of all things? All theological speculations about the
nature of God's essence are thus swept aside as foolish and futile.


Knowledge of God

But if the essence is unknowable, the manifestations of its
bounty are everywhere apparent. If the first cause cannot be
conceived, its effects appeal to our every faculty. Just as
knowledge of a painter's pictures gives to the connoisseur a
<p203>
true knowledge of the artist, so knowledge of the universe in
any of its aspects -- knowledge of nature or of human nature, of
things visible or of things invisible -- is knowledge of God's
handiwork, and gives to the seeker for Divine truth a real knowledge
of His Glory. "The Heavens declare the glory of God; and
the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth
speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. -- Ps. xix, 1-2.


The Divine Manifestations

All things manifest the bounty of God with greater or less
clearness, as all material objects exposed to the sun reflect its
light in greater or less degree. A heap of soot reflects a little,
a stone reflects more, a piece of chalk more still, but in none
of these reflections can we trace the form and color of the
glorious orb. A perfect mirror, however, reflects the sun's very
form and color, so that looking into it is like looking at the sun
itself. So it is with the way in which things speak to us of God.
The stone can tell us something of the Divine attributes, the
flower can tell us more, the animal with its marvelous senses,
instincts and power of movement, more still. In the lowest of
our fellowmen we can trace wonderful faculties which tell of
a wonderful Creator. In the poet, the saint, the genius, we find
a higher revelation still, but the great Prophets and Founders of
religions are the perfect mirrors by which the love and wisdom
of God are reflected to the rest of mankind. Other men's mirrors
are dulled by the stains and the dust of selfishness and
prejudice, but these are pure and without blemish -- wholly devoted
to the Will of God. Thus They become the greatest educators
of mankind. The Divine teachings and the Power of the
Holy Spirit proceeding through Them have been and are the
cause of the progress of humanity, for God helps men through
other men. Each man who is higher in the ascent of life is the
means of helping those who are lower, and those who are the
highest of all are the helpers of all mankind. It is as if all men
were connected together by elastic cords. If a man rises a little
above the general level of his fellows, the cords tighten. His
<p204>
former companions tend to draw him back, but with an equal
force he draws them upwards. The higher he gets, the more he
feels the weight of the whole world pulling him back, and the
more dependent he is on the divine support, which reaches
him through the few who are still above him. Highest of all are
the great Prophets and Saviors, the Divine "Manifestations" --
those perfect men Who were each, in Their day, without peer
or companion, and bore the burden of the whole world, supported
by God alone. "The burden of our sins was upon Him:
was true of each of Them. Each was the "Way, the Truth and
the Life" to His followers. Each was the channel of God's
bounty to every heart that would receive it. Each had His part
to play in the great divine plan for the upliftment of humanity.


Creation

Baha'u'llah teaches that the universe is without beginning
in time. It is a perpetual emanation from the Great First Cause.
The Creator always had His creation and always will have.
Worlds and systems may come and go, but the universe remains.
All things that undergo composition, in time undergo
decomposition, but the component elements remain. The creation
of a world, a daisy or a human body is not "making
something out of nothing"; it is rather a bringing together of
elements which before were scattered, a making visible of
something which before was hidden. By and by the elements
will again be scattered, the form will disappear, but nothing is
really lost or annihilated; ever new combinations and forms
arise from the ruins of the old. Baha'u'llah confirms the scientists
who claim, not six thousand, but millions and billions of
years for the history of the earth's creation. The evolution
theory does not deny creative power. It only tries to describe
the method of its manifestation; and the wonderful story of the
material universe which the astronomer, the geologist, the
physicist and the biologist are gradually unfolding to our gaze
is, rightly appreciated, far more capable of evoking the deepest
reverence and worship than the crude and bald account of
creation given in the Hebrew Scriptures. The old account in
<p205>
the Book of Genesis had, however, the advantage of indicating
by a few bold strokes of symbolism the essential spiritual meanings
of the story, as a master painter may, by a few strokes of
the brush, convey expressions which the mere plodder with the
most laborious attention to details may utterly fail to portray.
If the material details blind us to the spiritual meaning, then
we should be better without them; but if we have once firmly
grasped the essential meaning of the whole scheme, then
knowledge of the details will give our conception a wonderful
added richness and splendor and make it a magnificent picture
instead of a mere sketch plan.
Abdu'l-Baha says: --

Know that it is one of the most abstruse spiritual truths
that the world of existence, that is to say this endless
universe, has no beginning. ...
... Know that ... a creator without a creature is
impossible, a provider without those provided for cannot
be conceived; for all the divine names and attributes demand
the existence of beings. If we could imagine a time
when no beings existed, this imagination would be the denial
of the Divinity of God. Moreover, absolute non-existence
cannot become existence. If the beings were absolutely
non-existent, existence would not have come into
being. Therefore, as the Essence of Unity, that is the existence
of God, is everlasting and eternal -- that is to say, it
has neither beginning nor end -- it is certain that this world
of existence ... has neither beginning nor end. ... it
may be that one of the parts of the universe, one of the
globes, for example, may come into existence, or may be
disintegrated, but the other endless globes are still existing.
... As each globe has a beginning, necessarily it has an
end, because every composition, collective or particular,
must of necessity be decomposed; the only difference is
that some are quickly decomposed, and others more
slowly, but it is impossible that a composed thing should
not eventually be decomposed. -- Some Answered
Questions, pp. 209-210.
<p206>
The Evolution of Man

Baha'u'llah also confirms the biologist who finds for the
body of man a history reaching back in the development of the
species through millions of years. Starting from a very simple,
apparently insignificant form, the human body is pictured as
developing stage by stage, in the course of untold generations,
becoming more and more complex, and better and better
organized until the man of the present day is reached. Each
individual human body develops through such a series of
stages, from a tiny round speck of jelly-like matter to the fully
developed man. If this is true of the individual, as nobody
denies, why should we consider it derogatory to human dignity
to admit a similar development for the species? This is a very
different thing from claiming that man is descended from a
monkey. The human embryo may at one time resemble a fish
with gill-slits and tail, but it is not a fish. It is a human embryo.
So the human species+F1 may at various stages of its long development
have resembled to the outward eye various species
of lower animals, but it was still the human species, possessing
the mysterious latent power of developing into man as we know
him today, nay more, of developing in the future, we trust,
into something far higher still.
Abdu'l-Baha says: --

... it is clear that this terrestrial globe in its present
form did not come into existence all at once; but ...
gradually passed through different phases until it became
adorned with its present perfection. ...
... man, in the beginning of his existence and in the
womb of the earth, like the embryo in the womb of the
mother, gradually grew and developed, and passed from
one form to another ... until he appeared with this
beauty and perfection, this force and this power. It is certain
that in the beginning he had not this loveliness and
------------------------
1. The word "species" is used here to explain the distinction which has
always existed between men and animals, despite outward appearances. It
should not be read with its current specialized biological meaning.
<p207>
grace and elegance, and that he only by degrees attained
this shape, this form, this beauty, and this grace. ...
... man's existence on this earth, from the beginning
until it reaches this state, form, and condition, necessarily
lasts a long time. ... But from the beginning of man's
existence he is a distinct species. ... admitting that the
traces of organs which have disappeared actually exist [in
the human body], this is not a proof of the impermanence
and the non-originality of the species. At the most it proves
that the form, and fashion, and the organs of man have
progressed. Man was always a distinct species, a man, not
an animal. -- Some Answered Questions, pp. 211, 212,
213, 214.

Of the story of Adam and Eve He says: --

If we take this story in its apparent meaning, according
to the interpretation of the masses, it is indeed extraordinary.
The intelligence cannot accept it, affirm it, or
imagine it; for such arrangements, such details, such
speeches and reproaches are far from being those of an
intelligent man, how must less of the Divinity -- that
Divinity who has organised this infinite universe in the
most perfect form, and its innumerable inhabitants with
absolute system, strength, and perfection. ...
Therefore this story of Adam and Eve who ate from
the tree, and their expulsion from Paradise, must be
thought of simply as a symbol. It contains divine mysteries
and universal meanings, and it is capable of marvellous
explanations. -- Some Answered Questions, p. 140


Body and Soul

The Baha'i teachings with regard to body and soul, and the
life after death, are quite in harmony with the results of psychical
research. They teach, as we have seen, that death is but a
new birth -- the escape from the prison of the body into a
larger life, and that progress in the afterlife is limitless.
A large body of scientific evidence has gradually been accumulating
<p208>
which in the opinion of impartial but highly critical
investigators is amply sufficient to establish beyond all question
the fact of a life after death -- of the continued life and
activity of the conscious "soul" after the dissolution of the
material body. As F. W. H. Myers says in his Human
Personality, a work which summarizes many of the investigations
of the Psychical Research Society: --

Observation, experiment, inference, have led many inquirers,
of whom I am one, to a belief in direct or telepathic
intercommunication, not between the minds of
men still on earth only, but between minds or spirits
still on earth and spirits departed. Such a discovery opens
the doors also to revelation. ...
We have shown that amid much deception and self-deception,
fraud and illusion, veritable manifestations do
reach us from beyond the grave. ...
By discovery and by revelation certain theses have been
provisionally established with regard to such departed
souls as we have been able to encounter. First and chiefly,
I, at least, see ground to believe that their state is one of
endless evolution in wisdom and in love. Their loves of
earth persist, and most of all, those highest loves which
find their outlet in adoration and worship. ... Evil to
them seems less a terrible than a slavish thing. It is embodied
in no mighty Potentate; rather it forms as isolating
madness from which higher spirits strive to free the distorted
soul. There needs no chastisement of fire; self-knowledge
is man's punishment and his reward; self-knowledge
and the nearness or the aloofness of companion
souls. For in that world love is actually self-preservation;
the Communion of Saints not only adorns but constitutes
the Life Everlasting. nay, from the laws of telepathy it
follows that that communion is valid to us here and now.
Even now the love of souls departed makes answer to our
invocations. Even now our loving memory -- love is itself a
prayer -- supports and strengthens those delivered spirits
upon their upward way.
<p209>
The measure of agreement between this view, which is
founded on careful scientific research, and that of the Baha'i
teachings, is truly remarkable.


Unity of Mankind

"Ye are all fruits of one tree, the leaves of one branch, the
flowers of one garden." That is one of the most characteristic
sayings of Baha'u'llah, and another is like it: "Glory is not his
who loves his own country, but glory is his who loves his kind."
Unity -- unity of mankind, and of all created beings in God --
is the main theme of His teaching. Here again the harmony
between true religion and science is evident. With every advance
in science the oneness of the universe and the interdependence
of its parts has become more clearly evident. The
astronomer's domain is inseparably bound up with physicist's,
and the physicist's with the chemist's, the chemist's with
the biologist's, the biologist's with the psychologist's, and so
on. Every new discovery in one field of research throws new
light on other fields. Just as physical science has shown that
every particle of matter in the universe attracts and influences
every other particle, no matter how minute or how distant, so
psychical science is finding that every soul in the universe
affects and influences every other soul. Prince Kropotkin, in
his book on Mutual Aid, shows most clearly that even among
the lower animals, mutual aid is absolutely necessary to continued
life, while in the case of man, the progress of civilization
depends on the increasing substitution of mutual aid for mutual
enmity. "Each for all and all for each" is the only principle on
which a community can prosper.


The Era of Unity

All the signs of the times indicate that we are at the dawn
of a new era in the history of mankind. Hitherto the young
eagle of humanity has clung to the old aerie in the solid rock
of selfishness and materialism. Its attempts to use its wings
have been timid and tentative. It has had restless longings for
<p210>
something still unattained. More and more it has been chafing
in the confinement of the old dogmas and orthodoxies. But
now the era of confinement is at an end, and it can launch on
the wings of faith and reason into the higher realms of spiritual
love and truth. It will no longer be earthbound as it was before
its wings had grown, but will soar at will to the regions of wide
outlook and glorious freedom. One thing is necessary, however,
if its flight is to be sure and steady. Its wings must not
only be strong, but they must act in perfect harmony and
coordination. As Abdu'l-Baha says: -- "It cannot fly with one
wing alone. If it tries to fly with the wing of religion alone it
will land in the slough of superstition, and if it tries to fly with
the wing of science alone it will end in the dreary bog of
materialism."
Perfect harmony between religion and science is the sine
qua non of the higher life for humanity. When that is achieved,
and every child is trained not only in the study of the sciences,
and arts, but equally in love to all mankind and in radiant
acquiescence to the Will of God as revealed in the progress of
evolution and the teachings of the Prophets, then and not till
then, shall the Kingdom of God come and His Will be done on
earth as it is in Heaven; then and not till then shall the Most
Great Peace shed its blessings on the world.

"When religion," says Abdu'l-Baha, "shorn of its
superstitions, traditions and unintelligent dogmas, shows
its conformity with science, then there will be a great
unifying, cleansing force in the world, which will sweep
before it all wars, disagreements, discords and struggles,
and then will mankind be united in the power of the love
of God."
<p211>
Prophecies Fulfilled by the Baha'i
Movement/13

As to the Manifestation of the Greatest Name (Baha'u'llah):
this is He Whom God promised in all His Books and Scriptures,
such as the Bible, the Gospels and the Qur'an. --
ABDU'L-BAHA.


Interpretation of Prophecy

The interpretation of prophecy is notoriously difficult, and
on no subject do the opinions of the learned differ more widely.
This is not to be wondered at, for, according to the revealed
writings themselves, many of the prophecies were given in such
a form that they could not be fully understood until the fulfillment
came, and even then, only by those who were pure in
heart and free from prejudice. Thus at the end of Daniel's
visions the seer was told: --

But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the
book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and
fro, and knowledge shall be increased. ... And I heard,
but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall
be the end of these things? And he said, Go thy way,
Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time
of the end. -- Daniel xii, 4-9.

If God sealed up the prophecies until the appointed time,
and did not fully reveal the interpretation even to the prophets
who uttered them, we may expect that none but the appointed
Messenger of God will be able to break the seal and disclose
the meanings concealed in the casket of the prophetic parables.
Reflection on the history of prophecies and their misinterpretation
in previous ages and dispensations, combined with the
<p212>
solemn warnings of the prophets themselves, should render us
very chary of accepting the speculations of theologians as to
the real meaning of these utterances and the manner of their
fulfillment. On the other hand, when someone appears who
claims to fulfill the prophecies, it is important that we examine
his claim with open, unprejudiced minds. Should he be an impostor,
the fraud will soon be discovered and no harm will
be done, but woe to all who carelessly turn God's Messenger
from the door because He comes in an unexpected form or
time.
The life and utterances of Baha'u'llah testify that He is the
Promised One of all the Holy Books, Who has the power to
break the seals of the prophecies and to pour forth the "Sealed
choice wine" of the divine mysteries. Let us hasten, then, to
hear His explanations and to reexamine in their light the familiar
but often mysterious words spoken by the prophets of old.


The Coming of the Lord

The "Coming of the Lord" in the "last days" is the one
"far-off divine event" to which all the Prophets look forward,
about which Their most glorious songs are sung. Now what
is meant by the "Coming of the Lord"? Surely God is at all
times with His creatures, in all, through all, and over all;
"Closer is He than breathing, nearer than hands and feet."
Yes, but men cannot see or hear God immanent and transcendent,
cannot realize His Presence, until He reveals Himself
through a visible form and talks to them in human language.
For the revelation of His higher attributes, God has always
made use of a human instrument. Each of the Prophets was
a mediator through whom God visited and spoke to His people.
Jesus was such a mediator, and the Christians have rightly
regarded His appearance as a coming of God. In Him they
saw the Face of God and through His lips they heard the Voice
of God. Baha'u'llah tells us that the "Coming" of the Lord of
Hosts, the Everlasting Father, the Maker and Redeemer of
the World, which, according to all the Prophets, is to take
place at "the time of the end," means no other than His manifestation
<p213>
in a human temple, as he manifested through the
temple of Jesus of Nazareth, only this time with a fuller and
more glorious revelation, for which Jesus and all the former
Prophets came to prepare men's hearts and minds.


Prophecies about Christ

Through failing to understand the meaning of the prophecies
about the dominion of the Messiah, the Jews rejected Christ.
Abdu'l-Baha says: --

The Jews still await the coming of the Messiah, and
pray to God day and night to hasten His advent. When
Jesus came they denounced and slew Him, saying: "This
is not the One for Whom we wait. Behold, when the Messiah
shall come, signs and wonders shall testify that He is
in truth the Christ. The Messiah will arise out of an unknown
city. He shall sit upon the throne of David, and
behold, He shall come with a sword of steel, and with a
scepter of iron shall He rule. He shall fulfill the Law of the
Prophets. He shall conquer the East and the West, and
shall glorify His chosen people the Jews. He shall bring
with Him a reign of Peace during which even the animals
shall cease to be at enmity with man. For behold, the wolf
and the lamb shall drink from the same spring ... and all
God's creatures shall be at rest. ..."
Thus the Jews thought and spoke, for they did not
understand the Scriptures nor the glorious truths that
were contained in them. The letter they knew by heart,
but of the life-giving Spirit they understood not a word.
Hearken, and I will show you the meaning thereof:
Although Christ came from Nazareth, which was a known
place, He came also from heaven. His body was born of
Mary, but His Spirit came from heaven. The sword He
carried was the sword of His tongue, with which He
divided the good from the evil, the true from the false, the
faithful from the unfaithful, and the light from the darkness.
His Word was indeed a sharp sword! The throne
<p214>
upon which He sat is the Eternal Throne from which
Christ reigns forever, a heavenly throne, not an earthly
one, for the things of earth pass away but heavenly things
pass not away. He reinterpreted and completed the Laws of
Moses and fulfilled the Law of the Prophets. His Word
conquered the East and the West. His kingdom is everlasting.
He exalted those Jews who recognized Him. They
were men and women of humble birth, but contact with
Him made them great and gave them everlasting dignity.
The animals who were to live with one another signified
the different sects and races, who, once having been at
war, were now to dwell in love and charity, drinking together
the Water of Life from Christ the Eternal Spring.

Most Christians accept these interpretations of Messianic
prophecies as applied to Christ; but with regard to similar
prophecies about the latter-day Messiah, many of them take
up the same attitude as the Jews, expecting a miraculous display
on the material plane which will fulfill the very letter of
the prophecies.


Prophecies about the Bab and Baha'u'llah

According to the Baha'i interpretations, the prophecies
which speak of "the time of the end," the "last days," the coming
of the "Lord of hosts," of the "everlasting Father," refer
especially, not to the advent of Jesus Christ, but to that of
Baha'u'llah. Take, for instance, the well-known prophecy in
Isaiah: --

The people that walked in darkness have seen a great
light; they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death,
upon them hath the light shined. ... For thou hast
broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder,
the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian. For
every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and
garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning
and fuel of fire. For unto us a child is born, unto us a son
<p215>
is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder:
and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The
might God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace there shall
be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom,
to order it, and to establish it with judgment and
with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of
the Lord of hosts will perform this. -- Isa. ix, 2-7.

This is one of the prophecies that has often been regarded
as referring to Christ, and must of it may quite fairly be thus
applied, but a little examination will show how much more
fully and aptly it applies to Baha'u'llah. Christ has, indeed,
been a light-bringer and Savior, but for nearly two thousand
years since His advent the great majority of the people of the
earth have continued to walk in darkness, and the children of
Israel and many other of God's children have continued to
groan under the rod of the oppressor. On the other hand, during
the first few decades of the Baha'i era, the light of truth
has illumined the East and the West, the gospel of the fatherhood
of God and the brotherhood of man has been carried into
all countries of the world, the great military autocracies have
been overthrown, and a consciousness of world unity has been
born which brings hope of eventual relief to all the downtrodden
and oppressed nationalities of the world. The great war
which from 1914 to 1918 convulsed the world, with its unprecedented
use of firearms, liquid fire, incendiary bombs and
fuel for engines, has indeed been "with burning and fuel of
fire."+F1 Baha'u'llah, by dealing at great length in His Writings
with questions of government and administration, and showing
how they may best be solved, has "taken the government upon
His shoulders" in a way that Christ never did. With regard to
the titles "everlasting Father," "Prince of Peace," Baha'u'llah
repeatedly refers to Himself as the manifestation of the
Father, of whom Christ and Isaiah spoke, whereas Christ
always referred to Himself as the Son; and Baha'u'llah declares
------------------------
1. The Second World War further demonstrated the fulfillment of this
prophecy, culminating in the use of the atomic bomb.
<p216>
that His mission is to establish peace on earth, while Christ
said: "I came not to send peace but a sword," and as a matter
of fact during the whole of the Christian era wars and sectarian
strifes have abounded.


The Glory of God

The title "Baha'u'llah" is the Arabic for "Glory of God,"
and this very title is frequently used by the Hebrew prophets
for the Promised One Who is to appear in the last days. Thus
in the 40th chapter of Isaiah we read: --

Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.
Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that
her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned:
for she hath received of the Lord's hand double
for all her sins. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness,
Prepare ye 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; and
the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places
plain: And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all
flesh shall see it together. Isa. xl, 1-5.

Like the former prophecy, this has also been partly fulfilled
in the advent of Christ and His forerunner, John the Baptist;
but only partly, for in the days of Christ the warfare of Jerusalem
was not accomplished; many centuries of bitter trail and
humiliation were yet in store for her. With the advent of the
Bab and Baha'u'llah, however, the more complete fulfillment
dawned for Jerusalem, and her prospects of a peaceful and
glorious future seem now to be reasonably assured.
Other prophecies speak of the Redeemer of Israel, the
Glory of the Lord, as coming to the Holy Land from the East,
from the rising of the sun. Now Baha'u'llah appeared in Persia,
which is eastward from Palestine, towards the rising of the sun,
and He came to the Holy Land, where He spent the last twenty-four
<p217>
years of His life. Had He come there as a free man, people
might have said that it was the trick of an impostor in order
to conform to the prophecies; but He came as an exile and
prisoner. He was sent there by the Shah of Persia and the Sultan
of Turkey, who can hardly be suspected of any design to
furnish arguments in favor of Baha'u'llah's claim to be the
"Glory of God" Whose coming the Prophets foretold.


The Branch

In the prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Zechariah
are several references to a man called the Branch. These
have often been taken by Christians as applying to Christ, but
are regarded by Baha'is as referring especially to Baha'u'llah.
The longest Bible prophecy about the Branch is in the 11th
chapter of Isaiah: --

And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of
Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: And 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. ...
righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness
the girdle of his reins. The wolf also shall dwell with
the lamb, and the leopard ... with the kid; and the calf
and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little
child shall lead them. ... 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 it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord
shall set his hand again the second time to recover the
remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria,
and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush,
and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from
the islands of the sea. And he shall set up an ensign for the
nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and
gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four
corners of the earth. -- Isa. xi, 1-12.
<p218>
Abdu'l-Baha remarks about this and other prophecies of
the Branch: --

One of the great events which is to occur in the day
of the manifestation of that incomparable Branch, is the
hoisting of the Standard of God among all nations; meaning
that all the nations and tribes will come under the
shadow of this Divine Banner, which is no other than the
Lordly Branch itself, and will become a single nation. The
antagonism of faiths and religions, the hostility of races
and peoples, and the national differences, will be eradicated
from amongst them. All will become one religion,
one faith, one race, and one single people, and will dwell
in one native land, which is the terrestrial globe. Universal
peace and concord will be realised between all the nations,
and that incomparable Branch will gather together
all Israel: signifying that in this cycle Israel will be gathered
in the Holy Land, and that the Jewish people who
are scattered to the East and West, South and North, will
be assembled together.
Now see: these events did not take place in the Christian
cycle, for the nations did not come under the One
Standard which is the Divine Branch. But in this cycle of
the Lord of Hosts all the nations and people will enter
under the shadow of this Flag. In the same way, Israel,
scattered all over the world, was not reassembled in the
Holy Land in the Christian cycle; but in the beginning of
the cycle of Baha'u'llah this divine promise, as is clearly
stated in all the Books of the Prophets, has begun to be
manifest. You can see that form all the parts of the world
tribes of Jews are coming to the Holy Land; they live in
villages and lands which they make their own, and day by
day they are increasing to such an extent, that all Palestine
will become their home. -- Some Answered Questions, p.
75-76.


The Day of God

The word "Day" in such phrases as "Day of God" and "Last
Day" is interpreted as meaning "Dispensation." Each of the
<p219>
great religion-founders has His "Day." Each is like a sun. His
teachings have their dawn, their truth gradually illumines more
and more the minds and hearts of the people until they attain
the zenith of their influence. Then they gradually become obscured,
misrepresented and corrupted, and darkness overshadows
the earth until the sun of a new day arises. The day of the
Supreme Manifestation of God is the Last Day, because it is a
day that shall never end, and shall not be overtaken by night.
His sun shall never set, but shall illumine the souls of men both
in this world and in the world to come. In reality none of the
spiritual suns ever set. The suns of Moses, of Christ, of
Muhammad, and all the other Prophets are still shining in
heaven with undiminished luster. But earthborn clouds have
concealed their radiance from the people of earth. The Supreme
Sun of Baha'u'llah will finally disperse these dark clouds,
so that the people of all religions will rejoice in the light of all
the Prophets, and with one accord worship the one God Whose
light all the Prophets have mirrored forth.


The Day of Judgment

Christ spoke much in parables about a great Day of Judgment
when "the Son of man shall come in the glory of his
Father ... and ... shall reward every man according to his
works" (Matt. xvi, 27). He compares this Day to the time
of harvest, when the tares are burned and the wheat gathered
into barns: --

... so shall it be in the end of this world [consummation
of the age]. The Son of man shall send
forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom
all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And
shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing
and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth
as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. -- Matt. xiii,
40-43.

The phrase "end of the world" used in the Authorized
Version of the Bible in this and similar passages has led many
to suppose that when the Day of Judgment comes, the earth
will suddenly be destroyed, but this is evidently a mistake. The
<p220>
true translation of the phrase appears to be "the consummation
or end of the age." Christ teaches that the Kingdom of the
Father is to be established on earth, as well as in heaven. He
teaches us to pray: "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on
earth as it is in heaven." In the parable of the Vineyard, when
the Father, the Lord of the Vineyard, comes to destroy the
wicked husbandmen, He does not destroy the vineyard (the
world) also, but lets it out to other husbandmen, who will
render Him the fruits in their season. The earth is not to be
destroyed, but to be renewed and regenerated. Christ speaks of
that day on another occasion as "the regeneration when the
Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory." St. Peter speaks
of it as "the times of refreshing," "the times of restitution of
all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy
prophets since the world began." The Day of Judgment of
which Christ speaks is evidently identical with the coming of
the Lord of Hosts, the Father, which was prophesied by Isaiah
and the other Old Testament prophets; a time of terrible punishment
for the wicked, but a time in which justice shall be
established and righteousness rule, on earth as in heaven.
In the Baha'i interpretation, the coming of each Manifestation
of God is a Day of Judgment, but the coming of the
supreme Manifestation of Baha'u'llah is the great Day of Judgment
for the world cycle in which we are living. The trumpet
blast of which Christ and Muhammad and many other prophets
speak is the call of the Manifestation, which is sounded for all
who are in heaven and on earth -- the embodied and the disembodied.
The meeting with God, through His Manifestation,
is, for those who desire to meet Him, the gateway to the
Paradise of knowing and loving Him, and living in love with all
His creatures. Those, on the other hand, who prefer their own
way to God's way, as revealed by the Manifestation, thereby
consign themselves to the hell of selfishness, error and enmity.


The Great Resurrection

The Day of Judgment is also the Day of Resurrection, of
the raising of the dead. St. Paul in his First Epistle to the
Corinthians says: --
<p221>
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. For this corruptible must put on incorruption,
and this mortal must put on immortality. -- I Cor. xv,
51-53.

As to the meaning of these passages about the raising of the
dead, Baha'u'llah writes in the Book of Iqan: --

... By the terms "life" and "death," spoken of in the
scriptures, is intended the life of faith and the death of
unbelief. The generality of the people, owing to their failure
to grasp the meaning of these words, rejected and despised
the person of the Manifestation, deprived themselves
of the light of His divine guidance, and refused to
follow the example of that immortal Beauty. ...
... Even as Jesus said: "Ye must be born again" [John
iii, 7]. Again He saith: "Except a man be born of water
and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of
God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that
which is born of the Spirit is spirit" [John iii, 5-6]. The
purpose of these words is that whosoever in every dispensation
is born of the Spirit and is quickened by the breath of
the Manifestation of Holiness, he verily is of those that
have attained unto "life" and "resurrection" and have entered
into the "paradise" of the love of God. And
whosoever is not of them, is condemned to "death" and
"deprivation," to the "fire" of unbelief, and to the "wrath"
of God. ...
In every age and century, the purpose of the Prophets
of God and their chosen ones hath been no other but to
affirm the spiritual significance of the terms "life," "resurrection,"
and "judgment." ... Wert thou to attain to but
a dewdrop of the crystal waters of divine knowledge, thou
wouldst readily realize that true life is not the life of the
flesh but the life of the spirit. For the life of the flesh is
common to both men and animals, whereas the life of
<p222>
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. This life knoweth no death, and this existence
is crowned by immortality. Even as it hath been said:
"He who is a true believer liveth both in this world and
in the world to come." If by "life" be meant this earthly
life, it is evident that death must needs overtake it. --
Kitab-i-Iqan, pp. 114, 118, 120-21.

According to the Baha'i teaching the Resurrection has nothing
to do with the gross physical body. That body, once dead,
is done with. It becomes decomposed and its atoms will never
be recomposed into the same body.
Resurrection is the birth of the individual to spiritual life,
through the gift of the Holy Spirit bestowed through the Manifestation
of God. The grave from which he arises is the grave
of ignorance and negligence of God. The sleep from which he
awakens is the dormant spiritual condition in which many
await the dawn of the Day of God. This dawn illumines all
who have lived on the face of the earth, whether they are in the
body or out of the body, but those who are spiritually blind
cannot perceive it. The Day of Resurrection is not a day of
twenty-four hours, but an era which has now begun and will
last as long as the present world cycle continues. It will continue
when all traces of the present civilization will have been
wiped off the surface of the globe.


Return of Christ

In many of His conversations Christ speaks of the future
Manifestation of God in the third person, but in others the first
person is used. He says: "I go to prepare a place for you. And
if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive
you unto myself" (John xiv, 2-3). In the first chapter of
Acts we read that the disciples were told, at the ascension of
Jesus: "This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into
heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him
go into heaven." Because of these and similar sayings, many
<p223>
Christians expect that when the Son of Man comes "in the
clouds of heaven and with great glory" they shall see in bodily
form the very Jesus Who walked the streets of Jerusalem two
thousand years ago, and bled and suffered on the cross. They
expect to be able to thrust their fingers into the prints of the
nails on His hands and feet, and their hands into the spear
wound in His side. But surely a little reflection on Christ's own
words would dissipate such an idea. The Jews of Christ's time
had just such ideas about the return of Elias, but Jesus explained
their error, showing that the prophecy that "Elias must
first come" was fulfilled, not by the return of the person and
body of the former Elias, but in the person of John the Baptist,
who came "in the spirit and power of Elias." "And if ye will
receive it," said Christ, "this is Elias, which was for to come.
He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." The "return" of
Elias, therefore, meant the appearance of another person, born
of other parents, but inspired by God with the same spirit and
power. These words of Jesus may surely be taken to imply that
the return of Christ will, in like manner, be accomplished by
the appearance of another person, born of another mother,
but showing forth the Spirit and Power of God even as Christ
did. Baha'u'llah explains that the "coming again" of Christ was
fulfilled in the advent of the Bab and in his own coming. He
says: --

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
<p224>
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. -- Kitab-i-Iqan,
21-22.

Abdu'l-Baha says: --

Know that the return of Christ for a second time doth
not mean what the people believe, but rather signifieth the
One promised to come after Him. He shall come with the
Kingdom of God and His Power which hath surrounded
the world. This dominion is in the world of hearts and
spirits, and not in that of matter; for the material world is
not comparable to a single wing of a fly, in the sight of the
Lord, wert thou of those who know! Verily Christ came
with His Kingdom from the beginning which hath no beginning,
and will come with His Kingdom to the eternity
of eternities, inasmuch as in this sense "Christ" is an expression
of the Divine Reality, the simple Essence and
heavenly Entity, which hath no beginning nor ending. It
hath appearance, arising, manifestation and setting in each
of the cycles.


The Time of the End

Christ and His apostles mentioned many signs which would
distinguish the times of the "Return" of the Son of Man in the
glory of the Father. Christ said: --

And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies,
then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. ...
For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which
are written may be fulfilled. ... for there shall be great
distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they
shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away
captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden
down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles shall
be fulfilled. -- Luke xxi, 20-24.
<p225>
Again He said: --

Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall
come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive
many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see
that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to
pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against
nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be
famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers
places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall
they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and
ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. And
then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another,
and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall
rise, and shall deceive many. 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. And this
gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world
for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end
come. -- Matt. xxiv, 4-14.

In these two passages Christ foretold in plain terms, without
veil or covering, the things that must come to pass before the
coming of the Son of Man. During the centuries that have
elapsed since Christ spoke, every one of these signs has been
fulfilled. In the last part of each passage He mentions an event
that shall mark the time of the coming -- in one case the ending
of the Jewish exile and the restoration of Jerusalem, and in the
other the preaching of the gospel in all the world. It is startling
to find that both of these signs are being literally fulfilled
in our own times. If these parts of the prophecy are as true as
the rest, it follows that we must be living now in the "time of
the end" of which Christ spoke.
Muhammad also mentions certain signs which will persist
until the Day of Resurrection. In the Qur'an we read: --

When Allah said: "O Jesus! Verily I will cause thee
to die, and exalt thee towards Me, and clear thee of the
charges of those who disbelieve, and will place those who
<p226>
follow thee [that is, Christians] above those who disbelieve
[Jews and others], until the Day of Resurrection; then to
Me shall be your return, so I will decide between you concerning
that in which you differed." -- Sura iii, 54.
"The Hand of God," say the Jews, "is chained up."
Their own hands shall be chained up -- and for that which
they have said shall they be cursed. Nay! outstretched are
both His hands! At His own pleasure doth He bestow gifts.
That which hath been sent down to thee from thy Lord
will surely increase the rebellion and unbelief of many of
them; and We have put enmity and hatred between them
that shall last until the Day of Resurrection. Oft as they
kindle a beacon fire for war shall God quench it. -- Sura v,
69.
And of those who say, "We are Christians," have We
accepted the Covenant. But they too have forgotten a part
of what they were taught; wherefore We have stirred up
enmity and hatred among them that shall last till the Day
of Resurrection; and in the end will God tell them of their
doings. -- Sura v, 17.

These words also have been literally fulfilled in the subjection
of the Jews to Christian (and Muslim) peoples, and in
the sectarianism and strife which have divided both Jews and
Christians among themselves during all the centuries since
Muhammad spoke. Only since the commencement of the
Baha'i era (the Day of Resurrection) have signs of the approaching
end of these conditions made their appearance.


Signs in Heaven and Earth

In the Hebrew, Christian, Muhammadan and many other
Scriptures, there is a remarkable similarity in the description
of the signs which are to accompany the coming of the Promised
One.
In the Book of Joel we read: --

And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the
earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall
<p227>
be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before
the great and terrible days of the Lord come. ... For,
behold, in those days ... when I shall bring again the
captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all
nations, and will bring them down into the valley of
Jehoshaphat [Jehovah judgeth], and will plead with them
there. ... Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision:
for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.
The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the
stars shall withdraw their shining. The Lord also shall
roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and
the heavens and the earth shall shake; but the Lord will
be the hope of his people. -- Joel ii, 30-31; iii, 1-2, 14-16.

Christ says: --

Immediately after the tribulation 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 heavens 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. -- Matt. xxiv, 29-30.

In the Qur'an we read: --

When the sun shall be shrouded,
And when the stars shall fall,
And when the mountains are made to pass away ...
And when the leaves of the Book shall be unrolled,
And when the heaven shall be uncovered,
And when hell shall be made to blaze. -- Sura lxxxi.

In the Book of Iqan Baha'u'llah explains that these prophecies
about the sun, moon and stars, the heavens and the earth,
are symbolical and are not to be understood merely in the literal
sense. The Prophets were primarily concerned with spiritual,
not material, things; with spiritual, not with physical,
light. When They mention the sun, in connection with the
<p228>
Day of Judgment, They refer to the Sun of Righteousness. The
sun is the supreme source of light, so Moses was a sun for
the Hebrews, Christ for the Christians, and Muhammad for
the Muslims. When the Prophets speak of the sun being darkened,
what is meant is that the pure teachings of these spiritual
Suns have become obscured by misrepresentation, misunderstanding
and prejudice, so that the people are in spiritual
darkness. The moon and stars are the lesser sources of illumination,
the religious leaders and teachers, who should guide
and inspire the people. When it is said that the moon shall not
give her light or shall be turned into blood, and the stars shall
fall from heaven, it is indicated that the leaders of the churches
shall become debased, engaging in strife and contention, and
the priests shall become worldly minded, concerned about
earthly instead of heavenly things.
The meaning of these prophecies is not exhausted by one
explanation, however, and there are other senses in which these
symbols can be interpreted. Baha'u'llah says that in another
sense the words "sun," "moon," and "stars" are applied to the
ordinances and instructions enacted in every religion. As in
every subsequent Manifestation the ceremonies, forms, customs
and instructions of the preceding Manifestations are
changed in accordance with the requirements of the times, so,
in this sense the sun and moon are changed and the stars
dispersed.
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
<p229>
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."


Manner of Coming

As to the manner of His coming at the end of the age, Christ
said: --

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. ... then shall
he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall
be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one
from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the
goats. -- Matt. xxiv, 30-31; xxv, 31-32.

Regarding these and similar passages Baha'u'llah writes in
the Book of Iqan: --

... The term "heaven" denoteth loftiness and exaltation,
inasmuch as it is the seat of the revelation of those Manifestations
of Holiness, the Day-springs of ancient glory.
These ancient Beings, though delivered from the womb
of their mother, have in reality descended from the
heaven of the will of God. Though they be dwelling on
this earth, yet their true habitations are the retreats
of glory in the realms above. Whilst walking amongst
mortals, they soar in the heaven of the divine presence.
Without feet they tread the path of the spirit, and without
wings they rise unto the exalted heights of divine
unity. With every fleeting breath they cover the immensity
<p230>
of space, and at every moment traverse the kingdoms
of the visible and the invisible. ...
... By the term "clouds" is meant those things that are
contrary to the ways and desires of men. Even as He hath
revealed in the verse already quoted: "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." [Qur'an 2:87.] These "clouds" signify, in one
sense, the annulment of laws, the abrogation of former
Dispensations, the repeal of rituals and customs current
amongst men, the exalting of the illiterate faithful above the
learned opposers of the Faith. In another sense, they mean
the appearance of that immortal Beauty in the image of
mortal man, with such human limitations as eating and
drinking, poverty and riches, glory and abasement, sleeping
and waking, and such other things as cast doubt in the minds
of men, and cause them to turn away. All such veils are
symbolically referred to as "clouds."
These are the "clouds" that cause the heavens of the
knowledge and understanding of all that dwell on earth
to be cloven asunder. Even as He hath revealed: "On that
day shall the heaven be cloven by the clouds." [Qur'an
25:25]. Even as the clouds prevent the eyes of men from
beholding the sun, so do these things hinder the souls
of men from recognizing the light of the divine Luminary.
To this beareth witness that which hath proceeded out of
the mouth of the unbelievers as revealed in the sacred
Book: "And they have said: `What manner of apostle is
this? He eateth food, and walketh the streets. Unless an
angel be sent down and take part in His warnings, we will
not believe.'" [Qur'an 25:7.] Other Prophets, similarly,
have been subject to poverty and afflictions, to hunger,
and to the ills and chances of this world. As these holy
Persons were subject to such needs and wants, the people
were, consequently, lost in the wilds of misgivings and
doubts, and were afflicted with bewilderment and perplexity.
How, they wondered, could such a person be sent
<p231>
down from God, assert His ascendancy over all the peoples
and kindreds of the earth, and claim Himself to be
the goal of all creation, -- even as He hath said: "But for
Thee, I would have not created all that are in heaven
and on earth," -- and yet be subject to such trivial things?
You must undoubtedly have been informed of the tribulations,
the poverty, the ills, and the degradation that have
befallen every Prophet of God and His companions. You
must have heard how the heads of their followers were
sent as presents unto different cities, how grievously they
were hindered from that whereunto they were commanded.
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. ...
... 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,
that the just may be known from the wicked, and the faithful
distinguished from the infidel. ...
And now, concerning His words: "And He shall send
His angels. ..." By "angels" is meant those who, reinforced
by the power of the spirit, have consumed, with
the fire of the love of God, all human traits and limitations,
and have clothed themselves with the attributes of
the most exalted Beings and of the Cherubim. ...
As the adherents of Jesus have never understood the
hidden meaning of these words, and as the signs which
they and leaders of their Faith have expected have
failed to appear, they therefore refused to acknowledge,
even until now, the truth of those Manifestations of Holiness
that have since the days of Jesus been made manifest.
They have thus deprived themselves of the outpourings
of God's holy grace, and of the wonders of His
divine utterance. Such is their low estate in this, the Day
of Resurrection! They have even failed to perceive that
were the signs of the Manifestation of God in every age
to appear in the visible realm in accordance with the text
<p232>
of established traditions, none could possibly deny or turn
away, not would the blessed be distinguished from the
miserable, and the transgressor from the God-fearing.
Judge fairly: Were the prophecies recorded in the Gospel
to be literally fulfilled; were Jesus, Son of Mary, accompanied
by angels, to descend from the visible heaven upon
the clouds; who would dare to disbelieve, who would dare
to reject the truth, and wax disdainful? Nay, such consternation
would immediately seize all the dwellers of the
earth that no soul would feel able to utter a word, much
less to reject or accept the truth. -- Kitab-i-Iqan, pp. 67,
71-73, 76, 78-79, 80-81.

According to the above explanation the coming of the Son
of Man, in lowly human form, born of woman, poor, uneducated,
oppressed and set at naught by the great ones of the
earth -- this manner of coming is the very touchstone by which
He judges the people of earth and separates them one from
another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. Those
whose spiritual eyes are opened can see through those clouds
and rejoice in the "power and great glory" -- the very glory of
God -- which He comes to reveal; the others, whose eyes are
still holden by prejudice and error, can see but the dark clouds
and continue to grope in gloom, deprived of the blessed
sunshine.

Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare
the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall
suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the
covenant, whom ye delight in. ... But who may abide
the day of his coming? And who shall stand when he appeareth?
for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers'
sope. ... For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn
as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly,
shall be stubble: ... But unto you that fear my
name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in
his wings. -- Mal. iii, 1-2; iv. 1-2.

NOTE -- The subject of fulfillment of prophecy is such an extensive
one that many volumes would be required for its adequate
<p233>
exposition. All that can be done within the limits of a single
chapter is to indicate the main outlines of the Baha'i interpretations.
The detailed Apocalypses revealed by Daniel and St. John
have been left untouched. Readers will find certain chapters of
these dealt with in Some Answered Questions. In the Book of Iqan,
by Baha'u'llah, Baha'i Proofs, by Mirza Abu'l-Fadl, and in many
of the Tablets of Baha'u'llah and Abdu'l-Baha further explanation
of prophecies may be found.
<p234>
Prophecies of Baha'u'llah and
Abdu'l-Baha/14

And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word
which the Lord hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in
the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass,
that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the
prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be
afraid of him. -- Duet. xviii, 21-22.


Creative Power of God's Word

God, and God alone, has the power to do whatever He wills,
and the greatest proof of a Manifestation of God is the creative
power of His word -- its effectiveness to change and transform
all human affairs and to triumph over all human opposition.
Through the word of the Prophets God announces His
will, and the immediate or subsequent fulfillment of that word
is the clearest proof of the Prophet's claim and of the genuineness
of His inspiration.

For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from
the heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth,
and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give
seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be
that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto
me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it
shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. -- Isa. lv, 10-11.

When the disciples of John the Baptist came to Jesus with
the question: "Art thou he that should come, or do we look for
another?" the answer of Jesus was simply to point to the effects
wrought by His words: --
<p235>
Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear
and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk,
the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are
raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to
them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended
in me. -- Matt. xi, 4-6.

Let us now see what evidence there is to show whether the
words of Baha'u'llah have this creative power which is distinctive
of the word of God.
Baha'u'llah commanded the rulers to establish universal
peace, and their prolongation of the policy of war since 1869-1870
has overthrown many ancient dynasties, while each successive
war has produced less and less fruits of victory,
until the European War of 1914-1918 revealed the historically
startling fact that was has become disastrous to victor and vanquished
alike.+F1
Baha'u'llah bade the rulers likewise to act as trustees of
those under their control, making political authority a means
to true general welfare. The progress toward social legislation
has been unprecedented.
He commanded limitation of the extremes of wealth and
poverty, and ever since, legislation for the establishment of
minimum subsistence levels and for graduated taxation of
wealth by income and inheritance taxes has been a constant
concern. He commanded the abolition of both chattel and economic
slavery, and ever since, the progress toward emancipation
has been a ferment in all parts of the world.
Baha'u'llah declared the equality of men and women, expressed
through equal responsibilities and equal rights and
privileges, and since that declaration, the bonds by which
women have been bound for ages have been breaking, and
woman has rapidly been securing her rightful place as the
equal and partner of man.
He declared the fundamental oneness of religions, and the
succeeding interval has witnessed the most determined efforts
of sincere souls in all parts of the world to achieve a new degree
------------------------
1. This has been further evidenced by the Second World War.
<p236>
of tolerance, of mutual understanding and of cooperation
for universal ends. The sectarian attitude has everywhere been
undermined, and its historical position has become more and
more untenable. The basis of exclusiveness in religion has
been destroyed by the same forces making nationalism of the
self-contained type incapable of survival.
He commanded universal education, and made the independent
investigation of truth a proof of spiritual vitality.
Modern civilization has been stirred to its depths by this new
leaven. Compulsory education for children, and the extension
of educational facilities for adults, have become a primary policy
of government. Nations which deliberately seek to restrict
that very policy have aroused revolution within and suspicion
and fear outside their boundaries.
Baha'u'llah commanded the adoption of a universal auxiliary
language, and Dr. Zamenhof and others obeyed His call
by devoting their lives and genius to this great task and
opportunity.
Above all, Baha'u'llah imbued humanity with a new spirit,
arousing new longings in minds and hearts and new ideals for
society. Nothing in all history is so dramatic and impressive as
the course of events since the dawn of the Baha'i era in 1844.
Year by year, the power of a dead past prolonged through outworn
ideas, habits, attitudes and institutions has weakened,
until at present every intelligent man and woman on earth
realizes that humanity is passing through its most terrible crisis.
On the one hand we see the new creation arising as the
light of Baha'u'llah's teaching has revealed the true path of
evolution. On the other hand we see naught but disaster and
frustration in all realms where that light is resisted or ignored.
Yet, to the faithful Baha'i, these and countless other evidences,
impressive as they are, fail to give the real measure of
the spiritual majesty of Baha'u'llah. His life on earth, and the
irresistible force of His inspired words, stand as the only true
criterion of the will of God.
A study of the more detailed prophecies of Baha'u'llah and
<p237>
their fulfillment will give powerful corroborative evidence. Of
these prophecies we shall now proceed to give a few examples,
about the authenticity of which there can be no dispute. They
were widely published and known before their fulfillment came
about. The letter which He sent to the crowned heads of the
world, in which many of these prophecies occur, were compiled
in a book which was first published in Bombay in the
late nineteenth century. Several editions have since been published.
We shall also give some examples of noteworthy prophecies
by Abdu'l-Baha.


Napoleon III

In the year 1869 Baha'u'llah wrote to Napoleon III, rebuking
him for his lust of war and for the contempt with which he
had treated a former letter from Baha'u'llah. The Epistle contains
the following stern warning: --

For what thou has done, thy kingdom shall be thrown
into confusion, and thine empire shall pass from thine
hands, as a punishment for that which thou has wrought.
Then wilt thou know how thou has plainly erred. Commotions
shall seize all the people in that land, unless thou
arisest to held 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.

Needless to say, Napoleon, who was then at the zenith of his
power, paid no heed to this warning. In the following year he
went to war with Prussia, firmly convinced that his troops
could easily gain Berlin; but the tragedy foretold by Baha'u'llah
overwhelmed him. He was defeated at Saarbruck, at Weisenburg,
at Metz, and finally in the crushing catastrophe at
Sedan. He was then carried prisoner to Prussia, and came to a
miserable end in England two years later.
<p238>
Germany

Baha'u'llah later gave an equally solemn warning to the
conquerors of Napoleon, which also fell on deaf ears and received
a terrible fulfillment. In the Book of Aqdas, which was
begun in Adrianople, and finished in the early years of
Baha'u'llah's imprisonment in Akka, He addressed the Emperor
of Germany as follows: --

O King of Berlin! ... Do thou remember the one
whose power transcended thy power (Napoleon III)
and whose station excelled thy station. Where is he?
Whither are gone the things he possessed? Take warning,
and be not of them that are fast asleep. He it was who
cast the Tablet of God behind him, when We made
known unto him what the hosts of tyranny had caused
Us to suffer. Wherefore, disgrace assailed him from all
sides, and he went down to dust in great loss. Think
deeply, O King, concerning him, and concerning them
who, like unto thee, have conquered cities and ruled over
men. The All-Merciful brought them down from their
palaces to their graves. Be warned, be of them who reflect.
...

O banks of the Rhine! We have seen you covered with
gore, inasmuch as the swords of retribution were drawn
against you; and you shall have another turn. And We
hear the lamentations of Berlin, though she be today in
conspicuous glory. -- Kitab-i-Aqdas.

During the period of German successes in the Great War of
1914-1918, and especially during the last great German offensive
in the spring of 1918, this well-known prophecy was
extensively quoted by the opponents of the Baha'i Faith in
Persia, in order to discredit Baha'u'llah; but when the forward
sweep of the victorious Germans was suddenly transformed
into crushing, overwhelming disaster, the efforts of these enemies
of the Baha'i Cause recoiled on themselves, and the notoriety
which they had given to the prophecy became a powerful
means of enhancing the reputation of Baha'u'llah.
<p239>
Persia

In the Book of Aqdas written when the tyrannical Nasiri'd-Din Shah
was at the height of his power, Baha'u'llah blesses
the city of Tihran, which is the capital of Persia, and His own
birthplace, and says of it: --

Let nothing grieve thee, O Land of Ta (Tihran), for
God hath chosen thee to be the source of the joy of all
mankind. He shall, if it be His will, bless thy throne with
one who will rule with justice, who will gather together
the flock of God which the wolves have scattered. Such a
ruler will, with joy and gladness, turn his face towards,
and extend his favors unto, the people of Baha. He indeed
is accounted in the sight of God as a jewel among
men. Upon him rest forever the glory of God, and the
glory of all that dwell in the kingdom of His Revelation.
Rejoice with great joy, for God hath made thee "the
Day Spring of His light," inasmuch as within thee was
born the Manifestation of His Glory. Be thou glad for this
name that hath been conferred upon thee -- a name
through which the Day Star of Grace hath shed its splendor,
through which both earth and heaven have been
illumined.
Ere long will the state of affairs within thee be changed,
and the reins of power fall into the hands of the people.
Verily, thy Lord is the All-Knowing. His authority embraceth
all things. Rest thou assured in the gracious favor
of thy Lord. The eye of His loving-kindness shall everlastingly
be directed towards thee. The day is approaching
when thy agitation will have been transmuted into peace
and quiet calm. Thus hath it been decreed in the wondrous
Book. -- Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah,
pp. 110-111.

So far, Persia has only begun to emerge from the period of
confusion foretold by Baha'u'llah, but already constitutional
government has been started, and signs are not lacking that a
brighter era is at hand.
<p240>
Turkey

To the Sultan of Turkey and his Prime Minister `Ali Pasha,
Baha'u'llah, then (in 1868) confined in a Turkish prison, addressed
some of His most solemn, grave warnings. To the
Sultan He wrote from the Barracks at Akka: --

O thou who considerest thyself the greatest of all men
... erelong thy name shall be forgotten and thou shalt
find thyself in great loss. According to thy opinion, this
Quickener of the world and its Peacemaker is culpable
and seditious. What crime have the women, children and
suffering babes committed to merit thy wrath, oppression
and hate? You have persecuted a number of souls who
have shown no opposition in your country, and who have
instigated no revolution against the government; nay,
rather, by day and by night they have been peacefully engaged
in the mentioning of God. You have pillaged their
properties, and through your tyrannical acts, all that they
had was taken from them. ... Before God, a handful of
dust is greater than your kingdom, glory, sovereignty and
dominion, and should He desire, He would scatter you as
the sand of the desert. Erelong His wrath shall overtake
you, revolutions shall appear in your midst and your
countries will be divided! Then you will weep and lament
and nowhere will you find help and protection. ... Be
ye watchful, for the wrath of God is prepared, and erelong
you shall behold that which is written by the Pen of
Command.

And to Ali Pasha He wrote: --

Thou hast, O Chief, committed that which hath made
Muhammad, the Apostle of God, groan in the Most Exalted
Paradise. The world hath made thee proud, so much
so that thou hast turned away from the Face through
Whose brightness the Concourse on high hath been illumined.
Soon thou shalt find thyself in evident loss. Thou
didst unite with the Ruler of Persia for doing Me harm,
<p241>
although I had come to you from the Dawning-place of
the Almighty, the Great, with a Cause which refreshed
the eyes of the favored ones of God. ...
Didst thou think that thou could put out the fire
which God hath enkindled in the Universe? No! I declare
by His True Soul, wert thou of those who understand.
More than that, by what thou hast done its blaze and
flame have been increased. Soon it will encompass the
world and its inhabitants. ... The day is approaching
when the Land of Mystery (Adrianople) and what is beside
it shall be changed, and shall pass out of the hands of the
King, and commotions shall appear, and the voice of
lamentation shall be raised, and the evidences of mischief
shall be revealed on all sides, and confusion shall spread
by reason of that which hath befallen these captives
[Baha'u'llah and His companions] at the hands of the hosts
of oppression. The course of things shall be altered, and
conditions shall wax so grievous, that the very sand on the
desolate hills will moan, and the trees on the mountain
will weep, and blood will flow out of all things. Then wilt
thou behold the people in sore distress. ...
Thus hath the matter been decreed on the part of the
Designer, the Wise, Whose command the hosts of heaven
and earth could not withstand, nor could all the kings and
rulers withhold Him from that which He willeth. Calamities
are the oil for this Lamp, and through them its Light
increaseth, were ye of those who know! All oppositions
displayed by the oppressors are indeed as heralds to this
Faith, and by them the appearance of God and His Cause
have become widely spread among the people of the
world.

Again in the Book of Aqdas He wrote: --

O Spot [Constantinople] that art situate on the shores
of the two seas! The throne of tyranny hath, verily,
been established upon thee, and the flame of hatred hath
been kindled within thy bosom, in such wise that the
Concourse on high and they who circle around the Exalted
<p242>
Throne have wailed and lamented. We behold in thee
the foolish ruling over the wise, and darkness vaunting itself
against the light. Thou art indeed filled with manifest pride.
Hath thine outward splendor made thee vainglorious? By
Him Who is the Lord of mankind! It shall soon perish, and
thy daughters and thy widows and all the kindreds that dwell
within thee shall lament. Thus informeth thee the All-Knowing,
the All-Wise.

The successive calamities which have befallen this once
great empire since the publication of these warnings have furnished
an eloquent commentary on their prophetic significance.


America

In the Book of Aqdas, revealed in Akka in 1873, Baha'u'llah
appealed to America as follows: --

O Rulers of America and the Presidents of the Republics
therein ... Give ear unto that which hath been raised
from the Dayspring of Grandeur: Verily, there is none
other God but Me, the Lord of Utterance, the All-Knowing.
Bind ye the broken with the hands of justice,
and crush the oppressor who flourisheth with the rod of
the commandments of your Lord, the Ordainer, the
All-Wise. -- Kitab-i-Aqdas.

Abdu'l-Baha in His addresses in America and elsewhere
frequently expressed the hope, the prayer and the assurance
that the banner of international peace would be first raised in
America. At Cincinnati, Ohio, on November 5, 1912, He
said: --

America is a noble nation, a standard-bearer of peace
throughout the world, shedding her light to all regions.
Other nations are not untrammeled and free of intrigues
like the United States, and are unable to bring about Universal
Peace. But America, thank God, is at peace with
all the world, and is worthy of raising the flag of brotherhood
and International Peace. When the summons to International
<p243>
Peace is raised by America, all the rest of the
world will cry: "Yes, we accept." The nations of every
clime will join in adopting the teachings of Baha'u'llah,
revealed over fifty years ago. In His Epistles He asked the
parliaments of the world to send their best and wisest men
to an international world parliament that should decide all
questions between the peoples and establish peace ...
then we shall have the Parliament of Man of which the
prophets have dreamed.

The appeals of Baha'u'llah and Abdu'l-Baha have already
been responded to, in a large measure, by the United States of
America, and in no country of the world have the Baha'i
teachings met with readier acceptance. The role assigned to
America, of summoning the nations to international peace, has
as yet, however, been only partially played, and Baha'is are
awaiting with interest the developments which the future has
in store.+F1


The Great War

Both Baha'u'llah and Abdu'l-Baha on many occasions foretold
with surprising accuracy the coming of the Great War of
1914-1918. At Sacramento, California, on October 26, 1912,
Abdu'l-Baha said: -- "Today the European continent is like an
arsenal. It is a storehouse of explosives, ready for just a spark,
and one spark could set aflame the whole of Europe, particularly
at this time, when the Balkan question is before the
world."
In many of His addresses in America and Europe He gave
similar warning. In another address in California in October
1912 He said: --

We are on the eve of the Battle of Armageddon referred
to in the sixteenth chapter of Revelation. The time
------------------------
1. It is of interest that the charter meeting of the United Nations
Organization was held in San Francisco.
<p244>
is two years hence, when only a spark will set aflame the
whole of Europe.
The social unrest in all countries, the growing religious
scepticism antecedent to the millennium, and already
here, will set aflame the whole of Europe as is prophesied
in the Book of Daniel and in the Book (Revelation) of
John.
By 1917 kingdoms will fall and cataclysms will rock
the earth. (Reported by Mrs. Corinne True in The North
Shore Review, September 26, 1914, Chicago, U.S.A.)

On the eve of the great conflict He said: --

A great melee of the civilized nations is in sight. A
tremendous conflict is at hand. The world is at the threshold
of a most tragic struggle. ... Vast armies -- millions
of men -- are being mobilized and stationed at their frontiers.
They are being prepared for the fearful contest. The
slightest friction will bring them into a terrific crash, and
there will be a conflagration, the like of which is not recorded
in the past history of mankind. (At Haifa, August 3,
1914).


Social Troubles After the War

Both Baha'u'llah and Abdu'l-Baha also foretold a period of
great social upheaval, conflict and calamity as an inevitable
result of the irreligion and prejudices, the ignorance and superstition,
prevalent throughout the world. The great international
military conflict was but one phase of this upheaval. In
a Tablet dated January, 1920, He wrote: --

O ye lovers of truth! O ye servants of mankind! As the
sweet fragrance of your thoughts and high intentions has
breathed upon me, I feel that my soul is irresistibly
prompted to communicate with you.
Ponder in your hearts how grievous is the turmoil in
which the world is plunged; how the nations of the earth are
besmeared with human blood, nay their very soil is turned
into clotted gore. The flame of war has caused so wild a
<p245>
conflagration that the world in its early days, in its middle
ages, or in modern times has never witnessed its like. The
millstones of war have ground and crushed many a human
head, nay, even more severe has been the lot of these
victims. Flourishing countries have been made desolate,
cities have been laid level with the ground, and smiling
villages have been turned into ruin. Fathers have lost
their sons, and sons turned fatherless. Mothers have shed
tears of blood in mourning for their youths, little children
have been made orphans, and women left wanderers and
homeless. In a word, humanity, in all its phases, has been
debased. Loud is the cry and wailing of orphans, and bitter
the lamentations of mothers which are echoed by the
skies.
The prime cause for all these happenings is racial, national,
religious, and political prejudice, and the root of
all this prejudice lies in outworn and deepseated traditions,
be they religious, racial, national, or political. So
long as these traditions remain, the foundation of human
edifice is insecure, and mankind itself is exposed to continuous
peril.
Now in this radiant age, when the essence of all beings
has been made manifest, and the hidden secret of all
created thing has been revealed, when the morning light of
truth has broken and turned the darkness of the world
into light, is it meet and seemly that such a frightful carnage
which brings irretrievable ruin upon the world
should be made possible? By God! that cannot be.
Christ summoned all the people of the world to reconciliation
and peace. He commanded Peter to return
his sword unto its scabbard. Such was His wish and counsel,
and yet they that bear His name have unsheathed the
sword! How great the difference between their deeds and
the explicit text of the Gospel!
Sixty years ago Baha'u'llah, even as the shining sun,
shone in the firmament of Persia, and proclaimed that the
world is wrapt in darkness and this darkness is fraught
with disastrous results, and will lead to fearful strife. In
<p246>
His prison city of Akka, He apostrophized in unmistakable
terms the Emperor of Germany, declaring that a
terrible war shall take place, and Berlin will break forth
in lamentation and wailing. In like manner, whilst the
wronged prisoner of the Sultan of Turkey in the citadel of
Akka, He clearly and emphatically wrote him that Constantinople
will fall a prey to grave disorder, in such wise
that the women and children will raise their moaning cry.
In brief, He addressed epistles to all the chief rulers and
sovereigns of the world, and all that He foretold has been
fulfilled. From His pen of glory flowed teachings for the
prevention of war, and these have been scattered far and
wide.
His first teaching is the search after truth. Blind imitation,
He declared, killeth the spirit of man, whereas the
investigation of truth frees the world from the darkness
of prejudice.
His second teaching is the oneness of mankind. All
men are but one fold, and God the loving Shepherd. He
bestoweth upon them His most great mercy, and considers
them all as one. "Thou shalt find no difference
amongst the creatures of God." They are all His servants,
and all seek His bounty.
His third teaching is that religion is the most mighty
stronghold. It should be conducive to unity, rather than
be the cause of enmity and hate. Should it lead to enmity
and hate better not have it at all. For religion is even as
medicine, which if it should aggravate the disease, its
abandonment would be preferred.
Likewise, religious, racial, national, and political prejudice,
all are subversive of the foundation of human society,
all lead to bloodshed, all heap ruin upon mankind.
So long as these remain, the dread of war will continue.
The sole remedy is universal peace. And this is achieved
only by the establishment of a supreme Tribunal, representative
of all governments and peoples. All national
and international problems should be referred to this tribunal,
and whatsoever be its decision that should be enforced.
<p247>
Were a government or people to dissent, the world
as a whole should rise against it.
And among His teachings is the equality in right of
men and women, and so on with many other similar
teachings that have been revealed by His pen.
At present it has been made evident and manifest that
these principles are the very life of the world, and the embodiment
of its true spirit. And now, ye, who are the servants
of mankind, should exert yourselves, heart and soul,
to free the world from the darkness of materialism and
human prejudice, that it may be illumined with the light
of the City of God.
Praise be to Him, ye are acquainted with the various
schools, institutions and principles of the world; today
nothing short of these divine teachings can assure peace
and tranquillity to mankind. But for these teachings, this
darkness shall never vanish, these chronic diseases shall
never be healed; nay, they shall grow fiercer from day to
day. The Balkans will remain restless, and it condition
will aggravate. The vanquished will not keep still, but
will seize every means to kindle anew the flame of war.
Modern universal movements will do their utmost to
carry out their purpose and intentions. The Movement of
the Left will acquire great importance, and its influence
will spread.
Wherefore, endeavor that with an illumined heart, a
heavenly spirit, and a divine strength, and aided by His
grace, ye may bestow God's bountiful gift upon the world
... the gift of comfort and tranquillity for all mankind.

In a talk given in November 1919, He said: --

Baha'u'llah frequently predicted that there would be a
period when irreligion and consequent anarchy would
prevail. The chaos will be due to too great liberty among
people who are not ready for it, and in consequence there
will have to be a temporary reversion to coercive government,
in the interests of the people themselves and in order
to prevent disorder and chaos. It is clear that each nation
<p248>
now wishes complete self-determination and freedom
of action, but some of them are not ready for it. The prevailing
state of the world is one of irreligion, which is
bound to result in anarchy and confusion. I have always
said that the peace proposals following the great war
were only a glimmer of the dawn, and not the sunrise.


Coming of the Kingdom of God

Amid these troublous times, however, the Cause of God will
prosper. The calamities caused by selfish struggle for individual
existence, or for party or sectarian or national gain,
will induce the people to turn in despair to the remedy offered
by the Word of God. The more calamities abound, the more
will the people turn to the only true remedy. Baha'u'llah says
in his Epistle to the Shah: --

God hath made afflictions as a morning shower to this
green pasture, and as a wick for His Lamp, whereby earth
and heaven are illumined. ... Through affliction hath
His Light shone and His Praise been bright unceasingly;
this hath been His method through past ages and bygone
times.

Both Baha'u'llah and Abdu'l-Baha predict in the most confident
terms the speedy triumph of spirituality over materiality
and the consequent establishment of the Most Great Peace.
Abdu'l-Baha wrote in 1904: --

Know this, that hardships and misfortunes shall increase
day by day, and the people shall be distressed. The
doors of joy and happiness shall be closed on all sides.
Terrible wars shall happen. Disappointment and the frustration
of hopes shall surround the people from every direction
until they are obliged to turn to God. Then the
lights of great happiness shall enlighten the horizons, so
that the cry of "Ya Baha'u'l-Abha!" may arise on all
sides. -- Tablet to L.D.B. quoted in Compilation on War
and Peace, p. 187.
<p249>
When asked, in February 1914, whether any of the Great
Powers would become believers, He replied: --

All the people of the world will become believers.
Should you compare the beginning of the Cause with its
position today, you would see what a quick influence the
Word of God has, and now the Cause of God has encompassed
the world. ... Unquestionably, all will come under
the shadow of the Cause of God.

He declared that the establishment of world unity will come
about during the present century. In one of His Tablets He
wrote: --

... All the members of the human family, whether
peoples or governments, cities or villages, have become increasingly
interdependent. For none is self-sufficiency any
longer possible, inasmuch as political ties unite all peoples
and nations, and the bonds of trade and industry, of agriculture
and education, are being strengthened every day.
Hence the unity of all mankind can in this day be
achieved. Verily this is none other but one of the wonders
of this wondrous age, this glorious century -- the century of
light -- has been endowed with the unique and unprecedented
glory, power and illumination. Hence the miraculous
unfolding of a fresh marvel every day. Eventually it
will be seen how bright its candles will burn in the assemblage
of man.

In the last two verses of the Book of Daniel occur the cryptic
words: -- "Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the
thousand three hundred and five and thirty days. But go thy way
till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end
of the days."
Many have been the attempts of learned students to solve
the problem of the significance of these words. In a tabletalk
at which the writer was present, Abdu'l-Baha reckoned the
fulfillment of Daniel's prophecy from the date of the beginning
of the Muhammadan era.
<p250>
Abdu'l-Baha's Tablets make it clear that this prophecy refers
to the one hundredth anniversary of the Declaration of
Baha'u'llah in Baghdad, or the year 1963: --

Now concerning the verse in Daniel, the interpretation
whereof thou didst ask, namely, "Blessed is he who cometh
unto the thousand, three hundred and thirty-five
days." These days must be reckoned as solar and not lunar
years. For according to this calculation a century will
have elapsed from the dawn of the Sun of Truth, then will
the teachings of God be firmly established upon the earth,
and the Divine Light shall flood the world from the East
even unto the West. Then, on this day, will the faithful
rejoice!


Akka and Haifa

Mirza Ahmad Sohrab recorded in his diary the following
prophecy about Akka and Haifa uttered by Abdu'l-Baha
while seated by the window of one of the Baha'i Pilgrim Homes
at Haifa on February 14, 1914: --

The view from the Pilgrim Home is very attractive,
especially as it faces the Blessed Tom of Baha'u'llah. In
the future the distance between Akka and Haifa will be built
up, and the two cities will join and clasp hands, becoming
the two terminal section of one mighty metropolis. As I
look now over this scene, I see so clearly that it will become
one of the first emporiums of the world. This great
semicircular bay will be transformed into the finest harbor,
wherein the ships of all nations will seek shelter and
refuge. The great vessels of all peoples will come to this
port, bringing on their decks thousands and thousands of
men and women from every part of the globe. The mountain
and the plain will be dotted with the most modern
buildings and palaces. Industries will be established and
various institutions of philanthropic nature will be
founded. The flowers of civilization and culture from all
nations will be brought here to blend their fragrances together
<p251>
and blaze the way for the brotherhood of man.
Wonderful gardens, orchards, groves and parks will be laid
out on all sides. At night the great city will be lighted by
electricity. The entire harbor from Akka to Haifa will be
one path of illumination. Powerful searchlights will be
placed on both sides of Mount Carmel to guide the steamers.
Mount Carmel itself, from top to bottom, will be
submerged in a sea of lights. A person standing on the
summit of Mount Carmel, and the passengers of the
steamers coming to it, will look upon the most sublime
and majestic spectacle of the whole world.
From every part of the mountain the symphony of "Ya
Baha'u'l-Abha!" will be raised, and before the daybreak
soul-entrancing music accompanied by melodious voices
will be uplifted towards the throne of the Almighty.
Indeed, God's ways are mysterious and unsearchable.
What outward relation exists between Shiraz and Tihran,
Baghdad and Constantinople, Adrianople and Akka
and Haifa? God worked patiently, step by step, through
these various cities, according to His own definite and
eternal plan, so that the prophecies and predictions as
foretold by the Prophets might be fulfilled. This golden
thread of promise concerning the Messianic Millennium
runs through the Bible, and it was so destined that God in
His own good time would cause its appearance. Not even a
single word will be left meaningless and unfulfilled.
<p252>
Retrospect and Prospect/15

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, The Hidden Words.


Progress of the Cause

Unfortunately it is impossible, within the space at our disposal,
to describe in detail the progress of the Baha'i Faith
throughout the world. Many chapters might be devoted to this
fascinating subject, and many thrilling stories related about
the pioneers and martyrs of the Cause, but a very brief summary
must surface.
In Persia the early believers in this revelation met with the
utmost opposition, persecution and cruelty at the hands of
their fellow countrymen, but they faced all calamities and ordeals
with sublime heroism, firmness and patience. Their baptism
was in their own blood, for many thousands of them
perished as martyrs; while thousands more were beaten, imprisoned,
stripped of their possessions, driven from their
homes or otherwise ill-treated. For sixty years or more anyone
in Persia who dared to own allegiance to the Bab or
Baha'u'llah did so at the risk of his property, his freedom and
even his life. Yet this determined and ferocious opposition
could not more check the progress of the Movement than a
cloud of dust could keep the sun from rising.
<p253>
From one end of Persia+F1 to the other Baha'is are now to be
found in almost every city and town, and even amongst the
nomad tribes. In some villages the whole population is Baha'i
and in other places a large proportion of the inhabitants are
believers. Recruited from many and diverse sects, which were
bitterly hostile to each other, they now form a great fellowship
of friends who acknowledge brotherhood, not only with each
other, but with all men everywhere, who are working for the
unification and upliftment of humanity, for the removal of all
prejudices and conflict, and for the establishment of the Kingdom
of God in the world.
What miracle could be greater than this? Only one, and that
the accomplishment throughout the entire world of the task to
which these men have set themselves. And signs are not lacking
that this greater miracle, too, is in progress. The Faith is
showing an astonishing vitality, and is spreading, like leaven,
through the lump of humanity, transforming people and society
as its spreads.+F2
The relatively small number of Baha'is may still seem insignificant
in comparison with the followers of the ancient religions,
but they are confident that a divine Power has blessed
them with the high privilege of serving a new order into which
will throng the multitudes of East and West at no distant day.
------------------------
1. Lord Curzon, in his book, Persia and the Persian Question, published in
1892, the year of Baha'u'llah's death, writes: --
"The lowest estimate places the present number of Babis in Persia at half
a million. I am disposed to think, from conversations with persons well
qualified to judge, that the total is nearer one million. They are to be
found in every walk of life, from the ministers and nobles of the Court to
the scavenger or the groom, not the least arena of their activity being the
Mussulman priesthood itself. ...
"If Babism continues to grow at its present rate of progression, a time
may conceivably come when it will oust Mohammedanism from the field in
Persia. This, I think, it would be unlikely to do, did it appear upon the
ground under the flag of a hostile faith. But since its recruits are won
from the best soldiers of the garrison whom it is attacking, there is
greater reason to believe that it may ultimately prevail." (Vol. i,
pp. 449-502).
2. The number of Baha'is is increasing every year and by 1979 the number
of localities throughout the world where Baha'is reside has risen to
over 103,000. (See Epilogue).
<p254>
While, therefore, it remains true that the Holy Spirit has reflected
from pure hearts in all countries still unconscious of the
Source, and the growth of the Faith can be witnessed in the
many efforts outside the Baha'i community to promote one or
another of Baha'u'llah's teachings, nevertheless the lack of any
enduring foundation in the old order is convincing proof that
the ideals of the Kingdom can only become fruitful within the
framework of the Baha'i community.


Prophethood of Bab and Baha'u'llah

The more we study the lives and teachings of the Bab and
Baha'u'llah, the more impossible does it seem to find any explanation
of Their greatness, except that of Divine Inspiration.
They were reared in an atmosphere of fanaticism and bigotry.
They had only the most elementary education. They had no
contact with Western culture. They had no political or
financial power to back Them. They asked nothing from men,
and receive little but injustice and oppression. The great ones
of earth ignored or opposed Them. They were scourged and
tortured, imprisoned and subjected to direst calamities in the
fulfillment of Their mission. They were alone against the
world, having no help but that of God, yet already Their
triumph is manifest and magnificent.
The grandeur and sublimity of Their ideals, the nobility
and self-sacrifice of Their lives; Their dauntless courage and
conviction, Their amazing wisdom and knowledge, Their
grasp of the needs of both Eastern and Western peoples, the
comprehensiveness and adequacy of Their teachings, Their
power to inspire wholehearted devotion and enthusiasm in
Their followers, the penetration and potency of Their influence,
the progress of the Movement They founded -- surely
these constitute proofs of Prophethood as convincing as any
which the history of religion can show.


A Glorious Prospect

The Baha'i glad tidings disclose a vision of the Bounty of
God and of the future progress of humanity, which is surely
<p255>
the greatest and most glorious Revelation ever given to mankind,
the development and fulfillment of all previous Revelations.
Its purpose is nothing less than the regeneration of mankind
and the creation of "new heavens and a new earth." It is
the same task to which Christ and all the Prophets have devoted
Their lives, and between these great teachers there is no
rivalry. It is not by this Manifestation or by that, but by all together,
that the task will be accomplished.
As Abdu'l-Baha says: --

It is not necessary to lower Abraham to raise Jesus. It
is not necessary to lower Jesus to proclaim Baha'u'llah.
We must welcome the Truth of God wherever we behold
it. The essence of the question is that all these great Messengers
came to raise the Divine Standard of Perfections.
All of them shine as orbs in the same heaven of the Divine
Will. All of them give Light to the world.

The task is God's, and God calls not only the Prophets but
all mankind to be His co-workers in this creative process. If we
refuse His invitation, we shall not hinder the work from going
on, for what God wills shall surely come to pass. If we fail to
play our part He can raise up other instruments to perform His
purpose; but we shall miss the real aim and object of our own
lives. At-one-ment with God -- becoming His lovers, His servants,
the willing channels and mediums of His Creative
Power, so that we are conscious of no life within us but His
Divine and abundant life -- that, according to the Baha'i teaching,
is the ineffable and glorious consummation of human
existence.
Humanity, however, is sound at heart, for it is made "in the
image and likeness of God," and when at last it sees the truth,
it will not persist in the paths of folly. Baha'u'llah assures us
that erelong the call of God will be generally accepted, and
mankind as a whole will turn to righteousness and obedience.
"All sorrow will then be turned into joy, and all disease into
health," and the kingdoms of this world shall become "the
kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for
ever and ever" (Rev. xi, 15). Not only those on earth, but all
<p256>
in the heavens and on the earth, shall become one in God and
rejoice eternally in Him.


Renewal of Religion

The state of the world today surely affords ample evidence
that, with rare exceptions, people of all religions need to be
reawakened to the real meaning of their religion; and that reawakening
is an important part of the work of Baha'u'llah. He
comes to make Christians better Christians, to make Muslims
real Muslims, to make all men true to the spirit that inspired
their Prophets. He also fulfills the promise made by all these
Prophets, of a more glorious Manifestation which was to appear
in the "Fullness of Time" to crown and consummate Their
labors. He gives a fuller unfolding of spiritual truths than His
predecessors, and reveals the Will of God with regard to all the
problems of individual and social life that confront us in the
world today. He gives a universal teaching which affords a firm
foundation on which a new and better civilization can be built
up, a teaching adapted to the needs of the world in the new era
which is now commencing.


Need for New Revelation

The unification of the world of humanity, the welding together
of the world's different religions, the reconciliation of
Religion and Science, the establishment of Universal Peace, of
International Arbitration of an International House of Justice,
of an International Language, the Emancipation of Women,
Universal Education, the abolition not only of Chattel Slavery,
but of Industrial Slavery, the Organization of Humanity as a
single whole, with due regard to the rights and liberties of each
individual -- these are problems of gigantic magnitude and
stupendous difficulty in relation to which Christians,
Muhammadans and adherents of other religions have held and
still hold the most diverse and often violently opposed views,
but Baha'u'llah has revealed clearly defined principles, the general
adoption of which would obviously make the world a
paradise.
<p257>
Truth Is for All

Many are quite ready to admit that the Baha'i teachings
would be a splendid thing for Persia and for the East, but
imagine that for the nations of the West they are unnecessary
or unsuitable. To one who mentioned such a view, Abdu'l-Baha
replied: --

As to the meaning of the Cause of Baha'u'llah, whatever
has to do with the universal good is divine, and
whatever is divine is for the universal good. If it be true,
it is for all; if not, it is for no one; therefore a divine cause
of universal good cannot be limited to either the East or
the West, for the radiance of the Sun of Truth illumines
both the East and the West, and it makes its heat felt in
the South and in the North -- there is no difference between
one Pole and another. At the time of the Manifestation
of Christ, the Romans and Greeks thought His Cause
was especially for the Jews. They thought they had a perfect
civilization and nothing to learn from Christ's teachings,
and by this false supposition many were deprived of
His Grace. Likewise know that the principles of Christianity
and the Commandments of Baha'u'llah are identical
and their paths are the same. Every day there is progress;
there was a time when this divine institution (of progressive
revelation) was in embryo, then newborn, then a child,
then an intellectual youth; but today it is resplendent with
beauty and shining with the greatest brilliancy.
Happy is he who penetrates the mystery and takes his
place in the world of the illumined ones.


The Last Will and Testament of Abdu'l-Baha

With the passing of its beloved leader, Abdu'l-Baha, the
Baha'i Faith entered on a new phase of its history. This new
phase represents a higher state in the existence of the same
<p258>
spiritual organism, a more mature and consequently a more
responsible expression of the faith felt by its members.
Abdu'l-Baha had devoted His superhuman energy and unique
capacity to the task of spreading His love for Baha'u'llah
throughout the East and West. He had lighted the candle of
faith in countless souls. He had trained and guided them in the
attributes of the personal spiritual life. In view of the momentous
importance of the Last Will and Testament of Abdu'l-Baha,
the gravity of the issues it raises and the profound wisdom
underlying its provisions, we give a few extracts which vividly
portray the spirit and leading principles which animated and
guided Abdu'l-Baha and are transmitted as a rich heritage to
His faithful followers: --

O ye beloved of the Lord! In this sacred Dispensation,
conflict and contention are in no wise permitted. Every
aggressor deprives himself of God's grace. It is incumbent
upon everyone to show the utmost love, rectitude of conduct,
straight forwardness and sincere kindliness unto all
the peoples and kindreds of the world, be they friends or
strangers. So intense must be the spirit of love and loving
kindness, that the stranger may find himself a friend, the
enemy a true brother, no difference whatsoever existing
between them. For universality is of God and all limitations
earthly. ...
Wherefore, O my loving friends! Consort with all the
peoples, kindreds and religions of the world with the utmost
truthfulness, uprightness, faithfulness, kindliness,
good-will and friendliness, that all the world of being may
be filled with the holy ecstasy of the grace of Baha, that
ignorance, enmity, hate and rancor may vanish from the
world and the darkness of estrangement amidst the peoples
and kindreds of the world may give way to the Light
of Unity. Should other peoples and nations be unfaithful
to you show your fidelity unto them, should they
keep aloof from you attract them to yourself, should they
show their enmity be friendly towards them, should they
<p259>
poison your lives, sweeten their souls, should they inflict a
wound upon you, be a salve to their sores. Such are the
attributes of the sincere! Such are the attributes of the
truthful.

O ye beloved of the Lord! It is incumbent upon you to
be submissive to all monarchs that are just and to show
your fidelity to every righteous king. Serve ye the sovereigns
of the world with utmost truthfulness and loyalty.
Show obedience unto them and be their well-wishers.
Without their leave and permission do not meddle with
political affairs, for disloyalty to the just sovereign is
disloyalty to God Himself.
This is my counsel and the commandment of God unto
you. Well is it with them that act accordingly.

Lord! Thou seest all things weeping me and my kindred
rejoicing in my woes. By Thy Glory, O my God!
Even amongst mine enemies, some have lamented my
troubles and my distress, and of the envious ones a number
have shed tears because of my cares, my exile and
my afflictions. They did this because they found naught in
me but affection and care and witnessed naught but kindliness
and mercy. As they saw me swept into the flood of
tribulation and adversity and exposed even as a target to
the arrows of fate, their hearts were moved with compassion
-- "The Lord is our witness; naught have we seen from
him but faithfulness, generosity and extreme compassion."
The Covenant-breakers, foreboders of evil, however,
waxed fiercer in their rancor, rejoiced as I fell a victim to
the most grievous ordeal, bestirred themselves against me
and made merry over the heartrending happenings around
me.
I call upon Thee, O Lord my God! with my tongue and
with all my heart, not to require them for their cruelty and
their wrong-doings, their craft and their mischief, for they
are foolish and ignoble and know not what they do. They
<p260>
discern not good from evil, neither do they distinguish
right from wrong, nor justice from injustice. They follow
their own desires and walk in the footsteps of the most
imperfect and foolish amongst them. O my Lord! Have
mercy upon them, shield them from all afflictions in these
troubled times and grant that all trials and hardships may
be the lot of this Thy servant that hath fallen into this
darksome pit. Single me out for every woe and make me a
sacrifice for all Thy loved ones. O Lord, Most High! May
my soul, my life, my being, my spirit, my all be offered up
for them. O God, my God! Lowly, suppliant and fallen
upon my face, I beseech Thee with all the ardor of my
invocation to pardon whosoever hath hurt me, forgive
him that hath conspired against me and offended me, and
wash away the misdeeds of them that have wrought injustice
upon me. Vouchsafe unto them Thy goodly gifts,
give them joy, relieve them from sorrow, grant them peace
and prosperity, give them Thy bliss and pour upon them
Thy bounty.
Thou art the Powerful, the Gracious, the Help in Peril,
the Self-Subsisting!

The disciples of Christ forgot themselves and all
earthy things, forsook all their cares and belongings,
purged themselves of self and passion and with absolute
detachment scattered far and wide and engaged in calling
the peoples of the world to the Divine Guidance, till at
last they made the world another world, illumined the
surface of the earth and even to their last hour proved
self-sacrificing in the pathway of that Beloved One of God.
Finally in various lands they suffered glorious martyrdom.
Let them that are men of action follow in their footsteps!

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
<p261>
they may watch over Thy Faith, guard Thy Straight Path
and protect Thy Resplendent Law. Thou art, verily, the
All-Knowing, the All-Wise!

With Abdu'l-Baha's passing, the time had come to establish
the administrative order which has been termed the pattern
and nucleus of the world order which it is the special mission
of the religion of Baha'u'llah to establish. The Will and Testament
of Abdu'l-Baha consequently marks a turning point in
Baha'i history, dividing the era of immaturity and irresponsibility
from that era in which the Baha'is themselves are destined
to fulfill their spirituality by enlarging its scope from the realm
of personal experience to that of social unity and cooperation.
The three principal elements in the administrative plan left
by Abdu'l-Baha are: --

1. "The Guardian of the Cause of God,"
2. "The Hands of the Cause of God," and
3. "The Houses of Justice, Local, National and
International."+F1


The Guardian of the Cause of God

Abdu'l-Baha appointed His eldest grandson, Shoghi Effendi,
to the responsible position of "Guardian of the Cause"
(Valiyy-i-Amru'llah). Shoghi Effendi is the eldest son of
Diya'iyyih Khanum, the eldest daughter of Abdu'l-Baha. His
father, Mirza Hadi, is a relative of the Bab (although not a
direct descendant, as the Bab's only child died in infancy).
Shoghi Effendi was twenty-five years of age, and was studying at
Balliol College, Oxford, at the time of his grandfather's passing.
The announcement of his appointment is made in Abdu'l-Baha's
Will as follows: --

O my loving friends! After the passing away of this
wronged one, it is incumbent upon the Aghsan
------------------------
1. The Local and National Houses of Justice are at the present time
designated Local and National Assemblies, as previously indicated.
<p262>
(Branches), the Afnan (Twigs) of the Sacred Lote-Tree,
the Hands (pillars) of the Cause of God and the loved
ones of the Abha Beauty to turn unto Shoghi Effendi --
the youthful branch branched from the two hallowed and
sacred Lote-Trees and the fruit grown from the union of
the two offshoots of the Tree of Holiness, -- as he is the
sign of God, the chosen branch, the Guardian of the
Cause of God, he unto whom all the Aghsan, the Afnan,
the Hands of the Cause of God and His loved ones must
turn. He is the expounder of the words of God and after
him will succeed the first-born of his lineal descendants.
The sacred and youthful branch, the Guardian of the
Cause of God as well as the Universal House of Justice,
to be universally elected and established, are both under
the care and protection of the Abha Beauty, under the
shelter and unerring guidance of His Holiness, the Exalted
One (may my life be offered up for them both).
Whatsoever they decide is of God. ...
O ye beloved of the Lord! It is incumbent upon the
Guardian of the Cause of God to appoint in his own lifetime
him that shall become his successor, that differences
may not arise after his passing. He that is appointed must
manifest in himself detachment from all worldly things,
must be the essence of purity, must show in himself the
fear of God, knowledge, wisdom and learning. Thus,
should the first-born of the Guardian of the Cause of God
not manifest in himself the truth of the words: -- "The
child is the secret essence of its sire," that is, should he not
inherit of the spiritual within him (the Guardian of the
Cause of God) and his glorious lineage not be matched
with a goodly character, then must he (the Guardian of the
Cause of God) choose another branch to succeed him.
The Hands of the Cause of God must elect from their
own number nine persons that shall at all times be occupied
in the important services of the work of the Guardian
of the Cause of God. The election of these nine must be
carried either unanimously or by majority from the company
of the Hands of the Cause of God and these, whether
<p263>
unanimously or by a majority vote, must give their assent
to the choice of the one whom the Guardian of the Cause
of God hath chosen as his successor. This assent must be
given in such wise as the assenting and dissenting voices
may not be distinguished (i.e., secret ballot).


Hands of the Cause of God

During His own lifetime Baha'u'llah appointed a few tried
and trusted friends to assist in directing and promoting the
work of the Movement, and gave them the title of Ayadiyi-Amru'llah
(lit. "Hands of the Cause of God"). Abdu'l-Baha
makes provision in His Will for the establishment of a permanent
body of workers to serve the Cause and help the Guardian
of the Cause. He writes: --

O friends! The Hands of the Cause of God must be
nominated and appointed by the Guardian of the Cause
of God. ...
The obligations of the Hands of the Cause of God are
to diffuse the Divine Fragrances, to edify the souls of men,
to promote learning, to improve the character of all men
and to be, at all times and under all conditions, sanctified
and detached from earthly things. They must manifest the
fear of God in their conduct, their manners, their deeds
and their words.
This body of the Hands of the Cause of God is under
the direction of the Guardian of the Cause of God. He
must continually urge them to strive and endeavor to the
utmost of their ability to diffuse the sweet savors of God,
and to guide all the peoples of the world, for it is the light
of Divine Guidance that causeth all the universe to be
illumined.+F1
------------------------
1. Of the Hands of the Cause appointed by Shoghi Effendi during his
thirty-six year ministry, twenty-seven were living at the time of his
passing. He also instituted, in 1954, Auxiliary Boards to be appointed
by the Hands and to be their deputies, assistants and advisors.
<p264>
The Administrative Order+F1

It has been the general characteristic of religion that organization
marks the interruption of the true spiritual influence
and serves to prevent the original impulse from being carried
into the world. The organization has invariably become a
substitute for religion rather than a method or an instrument
used to give the religion effect. The separation of peoples into
different traditions unbridged by any peaceful or constructive
intercourse has made this inevitable. Up to the present time,
in fact, no Founder of a revealed religion has explicitly laid
down the principles that should guide the administrative
machinery of the Faith He has established.
In the Baha'i Cause, the principles of world administration
were expressed by Baha'u'llah, and these principles were
developed in the writings of Abdu'l-Baha, more especially in
His Will and Testament.
The purpose of this organization is to make possible a true
and lasting unity among peoples of different races, classes,
interests, characters, and inherited creeds. A close and sympathetic
study of this aspect of the Baha'i Cause will show that the
purpose and method of Baha'i administration is so perfectly
adapted to the fundamental spirit of the Revelation that it
bears to it the same relationship as body to soul. In character,
the principles of Baha'i administration represent the science of
cooperation; in application, they provide for a new and higher
type of morality worldwide in scope. ...
A Baha'i community differs from other voluntary gatherings
in that its foundation is so deeply laid and broadly extended
that it can include any sincere soul. Whereas other associations
are exclusive, in effect if not in intention, and from method if
not from ideal, Baha'i association is inclusive, shutting the
------------------------
1. This section on the Administrative Order is taken from the article on
The Present-Day Administration of the Baha'i Faith by Horace Holley,
published in 1933 in The Baha'i World, Volume V, p. 191 et seq.
Passages in this article quoting from Baha'i writings have been replaced
by newer translations where these are available.
<p265>
gates of fellowship to no sincere soul. In every gathering there
is latent or developed some basis of selection. In religion this
basis is a creed limited by the historical nature of its origin;
in politics this is party or platform; in economics this is a
mutual misfortune or mutual power; in the arts and sciences
this basis consists of special training or activity or interest. In
all these matters, the more exclusive the basis of selection, the
stronger the movement -- a condition diametrically opposed to
that existing in the Baha'i Cause. Hence the Cause, for all its
spirit of growth and progress, develops slowly as regards the
numbers of its active adherents. For people are accustomed
to exclusiveness and division in all affairs. The important sanctions
have ever been warrants and justifications of division. To
enter the Baha'i Movement is to leave these sanctions behind --
an experience which at first invariably exposes one to new
trials and sufferings, as the human ego revolts against the supreme
sanction of universal love. The scientific must associate
with the simple and unlearned, the rich with the poor, the
white with the colored, the mystic with the literalist, the
Christian with the Jew, the Muslim with the Parsee: and on
terms removing the advantage of long established presumptions
and privileges.
But for this difficult experience there are glorious compensations.
Let us remember that art grows sterile as it turns away
from the common humanity, that philosophy likewise loses its
vision when developed in solitude, and that politics and religion
never succeed apart from the general needs of mankind. Human
nature is not yet known, for we have all lived in a state of
mental, moral, emotional or social defense, and the psychology
of defense is the psychology of inhibition. But the love of God
removes fear; the removal of fear establishes the latent power,
and association with others in spiritual love brings these powers
into vital, positive expression. A Baha'i community is a gathering
where this process can take place in this age, slowly at first,
as the new impetus gathers force, more rapidly as the members
become conscious of the powers unfolding the flower of unity
among men. ...
The responsibility for and supervision of local Baha'i affairs
<p266>
is vested in a body known as the Spiritual Assembly. This body
(limited to nine members) is elected annually on April 21st, the
first day of Ridvan (the Festival commemorating the Declaration
of Baha'u'llah) by the adult declared believers of the
community, the voting list being drawn up by the outgoing
Spiritual Assembly. Concerning the character and functions of
this body, Abdu'l-Baha has written as follows: --

It is incumbent upon every one [every believer] not to
take any step [of Baha'i activity] without consulting the
Spiritual Assembly, and they must assuredly obey with
heart and soul its bidding and be submissive unto it, that
things may be properly ordered and well arranged. Otherwise
every person will act independently and after his own
judgment, will follow his own desire, and do harm to the
Cause.
The prime requisites for them that take counsel together
are purity of motive, radiance of spirit, detachment
from all else save God, attrationg to His Divine Fragrances,
humility and lowliness amongst His loved ones, patience
and long-suffering in difficulties and servitude to His exalted
Threshold. Should they be graciously aided to acquire
these attributes, victory from the unseen Kingdom of
Baha shall be vouchsafed to them. In this day, assemblies
of consultation are of the greatest importance and a
vital necessity. Obedience unto them is essential and obligatory.
The members thereof must take counsel together
in such wise that no occasion for ill-feeling or discord
may arise. This can be attained when every member expresseth
with absolute freedom his own opinion and
must on no account feel hurt for not until matters are
fully discussed can the right way be revealed. The shining
spark of truth cometh forth only after the clash of differing
opinions. If after discussion, a decision be carried
unanimously well and good; but if, the Lord forbid, differences
of opinion should arise, a majority of voices
must prevail. ...
<p267>
The first condition is absolute love and harmony
amongst the members of the assembly. They must be
wholly free from estrangement and must manifest in
themselves the Unity of God, for they are the waves of one
sea, the drops of one river, the stars of one heaven, the
rays of one sun, the trees of one orchard, the flowers of
one garden. Should harmony of thought and absolute
unity be non-existent, that gathering shall be dispersed and
that assembly be brought to naught. The second
condition: -- They must when coming together turn their
faces to the Kingdom on High and ask aid from the Realm
of Glory. ... Discussions must all be confined to spiritual
matters that pertain to the training of souls, the instruction
of children, the relief of the poor, the help of the feeble
throughout all classes in the world, kindness to all peoples,
the diffusion of the fragrances of God and the exaltation of
His Holy Word. Should they endeavor to fulfill these conditions
the Grace of the Holy Spirit shall be vouchsafed
unto them, and that assembly shall become the center of
the Divine blessings, the hosts of Divine confirmation
shall come to their aid, and they shall day by day receive a
new effusion of Spirit.

Expounding this subject, Shoghi Effendi writes: --

... nothing whatever should be given to the public by
any individual among the friends, unless fully considered
and approved by the Spiritual Assembly in his locality; and
if this (as is undoubtedly the case) is a matter that pertains
to the general interest of the Cause in that land, then it is
incumbent upon the Spiritual Assembly to submit it to the
consideration and approval of the national body representing
all the various local assemblies. Not only with
regard to publication, but all matters without any excerption
whatsoever, regarding the interests of the Cause in
that locality, individually or collectively, should be referred
exclusively to the Spiritual Assembly in that locality,
which shall decide upon it, unless it be a matter of national
interest, in which case it shall be referred to the
<p268>
national [Baha'i] body. With this national body also will
rest the decision whether a given question is of local or
national interest. (By national affairs is not meant matters
that are political in their character, for the friends of God
the world over are strictly forbidden to meddle with political
affairs in any way whatsoever, but rather things that
affect the spiritual activities of the body of the friends in
that land.)
Full harmony, however, as well as cooperation among
the various local assemblies and the members themselves,
and particularly between each assembly and the national
body, is of the utmost importance, for upon it depends the
unity of the Cause of God, the solidarity of the friends,
the full, speedy and efficient working of the spiritual
activities of His loved ones. ...
The various Assemblies, local and national, constitute
today the bedrock upon the strength of which the Universal
House [of Justice] is in future to be firmly established
and raised. Not until these function vigorously and harmoniously
can the hope for the termination of this period
of transition be realized. ...
... bear in mind that the keynote of the Cause of God
is not dictatorial authority but humble fellowship, not arbitrary
power, but the spirit of frank and loving consultation.
Nothing short of the spirit of a true Baha'i can hope
to reconcile the principles of mercy and justice, of freedom
and submission, of the sanctity of the right of the individual
and of self-surrender, of vigilance, discretion and
prudence on the one hand, and fellowship, candor and
courage on the other.

The local Spiritual Assemblies of a country are linked together
and co-ordinating through another elected body of nine
members, the National Spiritual Assembly. This body comes into
being by means of an annual election held by elected delegates
representing the local Baha'i communities. ... The National
Convention in which the delegates are gather together is
composed of an elective body based upon the principle of
<p269>
proportional representation. ... These National Conventions
are preferably held during the period of Ridvan, the twelve days
beginning April 21st which commemorate the Declaration
made by Baha'u'llah in the Garden of Ridvan near Baghdad.
The recognition of delegates is vested in the outgoing National
Spiritual Assembly.
A National Convention is an occasion for deepening one's
understanding of Baha'i activities and of sharing reports of
national and local activities for the period of the elapsed
year. ... The function of a Baha'i delegate is limited to the
duration of the National Convention and participation in the
election of the new National Spiritual Assembly. While gathered
together, the delegates are a consultative and advisory
body whose recommendations are to be carefully considered by
the members of the elected National Spiritual Assembly. ...
The relation of the National Spiritual Assembly to the local
Spiritual Assemblies and to the body of the believers in the
country is thus defined in the letters of the Guardian of the
Cause:

Regarding the establishment of "National Assemblies,"
it is of vital importance that in every country, where the
conditions are favorable and the number of the friends has
grown and reached a considerable size ... that a "National
Spiritual Assembly" be immediately established,
representative of the friends throughout that country.
Its immediate purpose is to stimulate, unify and coordinate
by frequent personal consultations, the manifold
activities of the friends as well as the local Assemblies; and
by keeping in close and constant touch with the Holy
Land, initiate measures, and direct in general the affairs of
the Cause in that country.
It serves also another purpose, no less essential than
the first, as in the course of time it shall evolve into the
National House of Justice (referred to in Abdu'l-Baha's
Will as the "secondary House of Justice"), which according
to the explicit text of the Testament will have, in conjunction
with the other National Assemblies throughout
<p270>
the Baha'i world, to elect directly the members of the International
House of Justice, that Supreme Council that
will guide, organize and unify the affairs of the Movement
throughout the world. ...
This National Spiritual Assembly, which, pending the
establishment of the Universal House of Justice, will have
to be re-elected once a year, obviously assumes grave
responsibilities, for it has to exercise full authority over
all the local Assemblies in its province, and will have to
direct the activities of the friends, guard vigilantly the
Cause of God, and control and supervise the affairs of the
Movement in general.
Vital issues, affecting the interests of the Cause in
that country such as the matter of translation and publication,
the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar, the Teaching Work, and
other similar matters that stand distinct from strictly local
affairs, must be under the full jurisdiction of the National
Assembly.
It will have to refer each of these questions, even as
the local Assemblies, to a special Committee, to be elected
by the members of the National Spiritual Assembly, from
among all the friends in that country, which will bear to it
the same relation as the local committees bear to their
respective local Assemblies.
With it, too, rests the decision whether a certain point
at issue is strictly local in its nature, and should be reserved
for the consideration and decision of the local
Assembly, or whether it should fall under its own province
and be regarded as a matter which ought to receive its special
attention. ...
... it is bounden duty, in the interest of the Cause
we all love and serve, of the members of the incoming National
Assembly, once elected by the delegates at Convention
time, to seek and have the utmost regard, individually
as well as collectively, for the advice, the considered
opinion and the true sentiments of the assembled delegates.
Banishing every vestige of secrecy, of undue reticence,
of dictatorial aloofness, from their midst, they
<p271>
should radiantly and abundantly unfold to the eyes of the
delegates, by whom they are elected, their plans, their
hopes, and their cares. They should familiarize the delegates
with the various matters that will have to be considered
in the current year, and calmly and conscientiously
study and weigh the opinions and judgments of the delegates.
The newly elected National Assembly, during the
few days when the Convention is in session and after the
dispersal of the delegates, should seek ways and means to
cultivate understanding, facilitate and maintain the exchange
of views, deepen confidence, and vindicate by
every tangible evidence their one desire to serve and advance
the common weal. ...
The National Spiritual Assembly, however, in view of
the unavoidable limitations imposed upon the convening
of frequent and long-standing sessions of the Convention,
will have to retain in its hands the final decision on all
matters that affect the interests of the Cause ... such as
the right to decide whether any local Assembly is functioning
in accordance with the principles laid down for the
conduct and the advancement of the Cause. ...

Concerning the matter of drawing up the voting list to be
used at the annual local Baha'i elections, the responsibility for
this is placed upon each local Spiritual Assembly, and as a guidance
in the matter the Guardian has written the following:

... to state very briefly and as adequately as present
circumstances permit the principal factors that must be
taken into consideration before deciding whether a person
may be regarded as a true believer or not. Full recognition
of the station of the Forerunner, the Author, and the
True Exemplar of the Baha'i Cause, as set forth in
Abdu'l-Baha's Testament; unreserved acceptance of, and
submission to, whatsoever has been revealed by their
Pen; loyal and steadfast adherence to every clause of our
Beloved's sacred Will; and close association with the
spirit as well as the form of the present day Baha'i administration
throughout the world -- these I conceive to
<p272>
be the fundamental and primary considerations that must
be fairly, discreetly and thoughtfully ascertained before
reaching such a vital decision.

Abdu'l-Baha's instructions provide for the further development
of Baha'i organization. ...:

And now, concerning the House of Justice which God
hath ordained as the source of all good and freed from
all error, it must be elected by universal suffrage, that is,
by the believers. Its members must be manifestations of
the fear of God and daysprings of knowledge and understanding,
must be steadfast in God's faith and the well-wishers
of all mankind. By this House is meant the
Universal House of Justice, that is, in all countries a
secondary House of Justice must be instituted, and these
secondary Houses of Justice must elect the members of
the Universal one.+F1 Unto this body all things must be referred.
It enacted all ordinances and regulations that are
not to be found in the explicit Holy Text. By this body all
the difficult problems are to be resolved and the Guardian
of the Cause of God is its sacred head and the distinguished
member for life of that body. Should he not attend
in person its deliberations, he must appoint one to
represent him. ... This House of Justice enacteth the
laws and the government enforceth them. 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 and justice may become firm and strong, that
all the regions of the world may become even as Paradise
itself. ...
... Unto the Most Holy Book every one must turn and
all that is not expressly recorded therein must be referred
to the Universal House of Justice. That which this body,
whether unanimously or by a majority doth carry, that is
------------------------
1. The Universal House of Justice was elected for the first time in April
1986 by the members of fifty-six National Spiritual Assemblies.
<p273>
verily the Truth and the Purpose of God Himself. Whoso
doth deviate therefrom is verily of them that love discord,
hath shown forth malice and turned away from the Lord of
the Covenant.

Even at the present time, the Baha'is in all parts of the world
maintain an intimate and cordial association by means of regular
correspondence and individual visits. This contact of members of
different races, nationalities and religious traditions is concrete
proof that the burden of prejudice and the historical factors of
division can be entirely overcome through the spirit of oneness
established by Baha'u'llah.


The World Order of Baha'u'llah

The larger implications of this order are explained by Shoghi
Effendi in successive communications addressed to the Baha'i
community since February, 1929: --

I cannot refrain from appealing to them who stand
identified with the Faith to disregard the prevailing notions
and the fleeting fashions of the day, and to realize as
never before that the exploded theories and the tottering
institutions of present-day civilization must needs appear
in sharp contrast with those God-given institutions which
are destined to arise upon their ruin. ...
For Baha'u'llah ... has not only imbued mankind with
a new and regenerating Spirit. He has not merely
enunciated certain universal principles, or propounded a
particular philosophy, however potent, sound and universal
these may be. In addition to these He, as well as
Abdu'l-Baha after Him, has, unlike the Dispensations of
the past, clearly and specifically laid down a set of Laws,
established definite institutions, and provided for the essentials
of a Divine Economy. These are destined to be a
pattern for future society, a supreme instrument for the
establishment of the Most Great Peace, and the one
agency for the unification of the world, and the proclamation
<p274>
of the reign of righteousness and justice upon the
earth. ...
Unlike the Dispensation of Christ, unlike the Dispensation
of Muhammad, unlike all the Dispensations of the
past, the apostles of Baha'u'llah in every land, wherever
they labor and toil, have before them in clear, in unequivocal
and emphatic language, all the laws, the regulations,
the principles, the institutions, the guidance, they
require for the prosecution and consummation of their
task. ... Therein lies the distinguishing feature of the
Baha'i Revelation. Therein lies the strength of the unity
of the Faith, of the validity of a Revelation that claims
not to destroy or belittle previous Revelations, but to connect,
unify, and fulfill them. ...

Feeble though our Faith may now appear in the eyes
of men, who either denounce it as an offshoot of Islam, or
contemptuously ignore it as one more of those obscure
sects that abound in the West, this priceless gem of
Divine Revelation, now still in its embryonic state, shall
evolve within the shell of His law, and shall forge ahead,
undivided and unimpaired, till it embraces the whole of
mankind. Only those who have already recognized the
supreme station of Baha'u'llah, only those whose hearts
have been touched by His love, and have become familiar
with the potency of His spirit, can adequately appreciate
the value of this Divine Economy -- His inestimable gift to
mankind. -- March 21, 1930.

It is towards this goal -- the goal of a new World
Order, Divine in origin, all-embracing in scope, equitable
in principle, challenging in its features -- that a harassed
humanity must strive. ...

How pathetic indeed are the efforts of those leaders
of human institutions who, in utter disregard of the spirit
of the age, are striving to adjust national processes, suited
to the ancient days of self-contained nations, to an age
which must either achieve the unity of the world, as
<p275>
adumbrated by Baha'u'llah, or perish. At so critical an
hour in the history of civilization it behooves the leaders
of all the nations of the world, great and small, whether
in the East or in the West, whether victors or vanquished,
to give heed to the clarion call of Baha'u'llah and, thoroughly
imbued with a sense of world solidarity, the sine
quaa non of loyalty to His Cause, arise manfully to carry
out in its entirety the one remedial scheme He, the Divine
Physician, has prescribed for an ailing humanity. Let
them discard, one for all, every preconceived idea, every
national prejudice, and give heed to the sublime counsel
of Abdu'l-Baha, the authorized Expounder of His
teachings. You can best serve your country, was Abdu'l-Baha's
rejoinder+F1 to a high official in the service of the
federal government of the United States of America, who
had questioned Him as to the best manner in which he
could promote the interests of his government and people,
if you strive, in your capacity as a citizen of the world, to
assist in the eventual application of the principles of federalism
underlying the government of your own country to
the relationships now existing between the peoples and
nations of the world. ...
Some form of a world Super-State must needs be
evolved, in whose favor all the nations of the world will
have willingly ceded every claim to make war, certain
rights to impose taxation and all rights to maintain armaments,
except for purposes of maintaining internal order
within their respective dominions. Such a state will have
to include within its orbit an International Executive
adequate to enforce supreme and unchallengeable authority
on every recalcitrant member of the commonwealth;
a World Parliament whose members shall be
elected by the people in their respective countries and
whose election shall be confirmed by their respective governments;
and a Supreme Tribunal whose judgment will
have a binding effect even in such cases where the parties
------------------------
1. In the year 1912.
<p276>
concerned did not voluntarily agree to submit their case to
its consideration. A world community in which all economic
barriers will have been permanently demolished
and the interdependence of Capital and Labor definitely
recognized; in which the clamor of religious fanaticism
and strife will have been forever stilled; in which the flame
of racial animosity will have been finally extinguished; in
which a single code of international law -- the product of
the considered judgment of the world's federated representatives --
shall have as its sanction the instant and
coercive intervention of the combined forces of the federated
units; and finally a world community in which the
fury of a capricious and militant nationalism will have
been transmuted into an abiding consciousness of world
citizenship -- such indeed, appears, in its broadest outline,
the Order anticipated by Baha'u'llah, an Order that shall
come to be regarded as the fairest fruit of a slowly maturing
age. ...
Let there be no misgivings as to the animating purpose
of the world-wide Law of Baha'u'llah. Far from aiming at
the subversion of the existing foundations of society, it
seeks to broaden its basis, to remold its institutions in a
manner consonant with the needs of an ever-changing
world. It can conflict with no legitimate allegiances, nor
can it undermine essential loyalties. Its purpose is neither
to stifle the flame of a sane and intelligent patriotism in
men's hearts, nor to abolish the system of national autonomy
so essential if the evils of excessive centralization
are to be avoided. It does not ignore, nor does it attempt to
suppress, the diversity of ethnical origins, of climate, of
history, of language and tradition, of thought and habit,
that differentiate the peoples and nations of the world. It
calls for a wider loyalty, for a larger aspiration than any
that has animated the human race. ...
The call of Baha'u'llah is primarily directed against all
forms of provincialism, all insularities and prejudices.
... For legal standards, political and economic theories
are solely designed to safeguard the interests of humanity
<p277>
as a whole, and not humanity to be crucified for the preservation
of the integrity of any particular law or doctrine. ...
The principle of the Oneness of Mankind -- the pivot
round which all the teachings of Baha'u'llah revolve -- is
no mere outburst of ignorant emotionalism or an expression
of vague and pious hope. ... Its implications are
deeper, its claims greater than any which the Prophets of
old were allowed to advance. Its message is applicable not
only to the individual, but concerns itself primarily with
the nature of those essential relationships that must bind
all the states and nations as members of one human
family. ...
It represents the consummation of human
evolution. ...

That the forces of a world catastrophe can alone precipitate
such a new phase of human thought is, alas, becoming
increasingly apparent. ...
Nothing but a fiery ordeal, out of which humanity will
emerge, chastened and prepared, can succeed in implanting
that sense of responsibility which the leaders of a
newborn age must arise to shoulder. ...
Has not Abdu'l-Baha Himself asserted in unequivocal
language that "another war, fiercer than the last, will
assuredly break out"? -- November 28, 1931.

This Administrative Order ... will, as its component
parts, its organic institutions, begin to function with efficiency
and vigor, assert its claim and demonstrate its
capacity to be regarded not only as the nucleus but the
very pattern of the New World Order destined to embrace
in the fullness of time the whole of mankind. ...
Alone of all the Revelations gone before it this Faith
has ... succeeded in raising a structure which the bewildered
followers of bankrupt and broken creeds might
well approach and critically examine, and seek, ere it is
too late, the invulnerable security of its world-embracing
shelter. ...
<p278>
To what else if not the power and majesty which
this Administrative Order -- the rudiments of the future
all-enfolding Baha'i Commonwealth -- is destined to manifest,
can these utterances of Baha'u'llah allude: "The
world's equilibrium hath been upset through the vibrating
influence of this most great, this new World Order. Mankind's
ordered life hath been revolutionized through the
agency of this unique, this wondrous System -- the like of
which mortal eyes have never witnessed." ...

The Baha'i Commonwealth of the future of which this
vast Administrative Order is the sole framework, is, both
in theory and practice, not only unique in the entire history
of political institutions, but can find no parallel in the
annals of any of the world's recognized religious systems.
No form of democratic government; no system of autocracy
or of dictatorship, whether monarchical or republican;
no intermediary scheme of a purely aristocratic
order; nor even any of the recognized types of theocracy,
whether it be the Hebrew Commonwealth, or the various
Christian ecclesiastical organizations, or the Imamate or
the Caliphate in Islam -- none of these can be identified
or be said to conform with the Administrative Order
which the master-hand of its perfect Architect has
fashioned. ...

Let no one, while this System is still in its infancy,
misconceive its character, belittle its significance or misrepresent
its purpose. The bedrock on which this Administrative
Order is founded is God's immutable Purpose
for mankind in this day. The Source from which it derives
its inspiration is no one less than Baha'u'llah Himself.
... The central, the underlying aim which animates it
is the establishment of the New World Order as adumbrated
by Baha'u'llah. The methods it employs, the
standard it inculcates, incline it to neither East nor West,
neither Jew nor Gentile, neither rich nor poor, neither
white nor colored. Its watchword is the unification of
<p279>
the human race; its standard the "Most Great Peace." ...
February 8, 1934.

The contrast between the accumulating evidences of
steady consolidation that accompany the rise of the Administrative
Order of the Faith of God, and the forces of
disintegration which batter at the fabric of a travailing
society, is as clear as it is arresting. Both within and
outside the Baha'i world the signs and tokens which, in
a mysterious manner, are heralding the birth of that
World Order, the establishment of which must signalize
the Golden Age of the Cause of God, are growing and
multiplying day by day. ...
"Soon," Baha'u'llah's own words proclaim it, "will the
present day Order be rolled up, and a new one spread out
in its stead." ...
The Revelation of Baha'u'llah ... should ... be regarded
as signalizing through its advent the coming of age
of the entire human race. It should be viewed not merely
as yet another spiritual revival in the ever-changing fortunes
of mankind, not only as a further stage in a chain
of progressive Revelations, nor even as the culmination
of one of a series of recurrent prophetic cycles, but rather
as marking the last and highest stage in the stupendous
evolution of man's collective life on this planet. The
emergence of a world community, the consciousness of
world citizenship, the founding of a world civilization and
culture ... should ... be regarded, as far as this planetary
life is concerned, as the furthermost limits in the organization
of human society, though man, as an individual,
will, nay must indeed as a result of such a consummation,
continue indefinitely to progress and
develop. ...
The unity of the human race, as envisaged by Baha'u'llah,
implies the establishment of a world commonwealth
in which all nations, races, creeds and classes are closely
and permanently united, and in which the autonomy of its
<p280>
state members and the personal freedom and initiative of
the individuals that compose them are definitely and completely
safeguarded. This commonwealth must, as far as
we can visualize it, consist of a world legislature, whose
members will, as the trustees of the whole of mankind,
ultimately control the entire resources of all the component
nations, and will enact such laws as shall be required
to regulate the life, satisfy the needs and adjust the relationships
of all races and peoples. A world executive,
backed by an international Force, will carry out the decisions
arrived at, and apply the laws enacted by, this
world legislature, and will safeguard the organic unity of
the whole commonwealth. A world tribunal will ajudicate
and deliver its compulsory and final verdict in all and
any disputes that may arise between the various elements
constituting this universal system. A mechanism of world
intercommunication will be devised, embracing the whole
planet, freed from national hindrances and restrictions,
and functioning with marvelous swiftness and perfect
regularity. A world metropolis will act as the nerve center
of a world civilization, the focus towards which the unifying
forces of life will converge and from which its energizing
influences will radiate. A world language will either
be invented or chosen from among the existing languages
and will be taught in the schools of all the federated
nations as an auxiliary to their mother tongue. A world
script, a world literature, a uniform and universal system
of currency, of weights and measures, will simplify and
facilitate intercourse and understanding among the nations
and races of mankind. In such a world society,
science and religion, the two most potent forces in human
life, will be reconciled, will cooperate, and will harmoniously
develop. The press will, under such a system, while
giving full scope to the expression of the diversified views
and convictions of mankind, cease to be mischievously
manipulated by vested interests, whether private or public,
and will be liberated from the influence of contending
governments and peoples. The economic resources of the
<p281>
world will be organized, its sources of raw materials will be
tapped and fully utilized, its markets will be coordinated
and developed, and the distribution of its products will be
equitably regulated.
National rivalries, hatred, and intrigues will cease,
and racial animosity and prejudice will be replaced by
racial amity, understanding and cooperation. The causes
of religious strife will be permanently removed, economic
barriers and restrictions will be completely abolished, and
the inordinate distinction between classes will be obliterated.
Destitution on the one hand, and gross accumulation
of ownership on the other, will disappear. The enormous
energy dissipated and wasted on war, whether economic
or political, will be consecrated to such ends as will extend
the range of human inventions and technical development,
to the increase of the productivity of mankind, to
the extermination of disease, to the extension of scientific
research, to the raising of the standard of physical health,
to the sharpening and refinement of the human brain, to
the exploitation of the unused and unsuspected resources
of the planet, to the prolongation of human life, and to
the furtherance of any other agency that can stimulate
the intellectual, the moral, and spiritual life of the entire
human race.
A world federal system, ruling the whole earth and
exercising unchallengeable authority over its unimaginably
vast resources, blending and embodying the ideals
of both the East and the West, liberated from the curse
of war and its miseries, and bent on the exploitation of all
the available sources of energy on the surface of the
planet, a system in which Force is made the servant of
Justice, whose life is sustained by its universal recognition
of one God and by its allegiance to one common
Revelation -- such is the goal towards which humanity,
impelled by the unifying forces of life, is moving. ...
The whole of mankind is groaning, is dying to be led
to unity, and to terminate its age-long martyrdom. And yet
it stubbornly refuses to embrace the light and acknowledge
<p282>
the sovereign authority of the one Power that can extricate
it from its entanglements, and avert the woeful calamity
that threatens to engulf it. ...
Unification of the whole of mankind is the hall-mark of
the stage which human society is now approaching. Unity
of family, of tribe, of city-state, and nation have been successively
attempted and fully established. World unity is
the goal towards which a harassed humanity is striving.
Nation-building has come to an end. The anarchy inherent
in state sovereignty is moving towards a climax. A
world, growing to maturity, must abandon this fetish, recognize
the oneness and wholeness of human relationships,
and establish once for all the machinery that can best incarnate
this fundamental principle of its life. -- March 11,
1936.

[The above letters have been published in one volume entitled
The World Order of Baha'u'llah.]
<p283>
Epilogue

Under the inspired guidance of Shoghi Effendi the Baha'i
Cause grew steadily in size and in the establishment of its Administrative
Order, so that by 1951 there were eleven functioning
National Spiritual Assemblies. At that point the Guardian
turned to the development of the institutions of the Faith at its
international level, appointing the International Baha'i Council,
the forerunner of the Universal House of Justice, and,
shortly thereafter, the first contingent of the Hands of the Cause
of God. Hitherto Shoghi Effendi has raised certain eminent
Baha'is to the rank of Hands of the Cause posthumously, one
of them being Dr. John E. Esslemont, but it was only in 1951
that he adjudged the time ripe to begin the full development
of this important institution. In rapid succession between 1951
and 1957 he appointed thirty-two Hands and extended the
range of their activities, instituting in each continent Auxiliary
Boards consisting of believers and appointed by the Hands to be
their deputies, assistants and advisors. Twenty-seven of these
Hands were living at the time of his passing.
Through a series of letters, some addressed to Baha'is
throughout the world, and others to those in specific countries,
the Guardian deepened their understanding of the teachings,
built up the administrative institutions of the Faith, trained
the believers in their correct and effective use, and in 1937
launched the American Baha'i Community on its implementation
of the Divine Plan for the diffusion of Baha'u'llah's
Message. This Divine Plan had been revealed by Abdu'l-Baha
in a number of Tablets written during the years of the First
World War and constitutes the charter for the propagation of
the Faith.
Within the framework of this charter a number of teaching
plans were carried out, first in the Western Hemisphere, then
also in Europe, Asia, Australasia and AFrica until in 1953
<p284>
the Guardian called for a "decade-long, world-embracing,
spiritual crusade" to carry the Faith to all the remaining independent
states and principal dependencies of the world.
In 1957, as the midway point of the crusade approached,
the Guardian, exhausted by thirty-six years of unremitting
labor, died while on a visit to London.
As Shoghi Effendi had no heir, the work of the Faith after
November 1957 was coordinated and directed by the twenty-seven
Hands of the Cause until the victorious completion of
the crusade in April 1963, at which time the first Universal
House of Justice was elected by the members of fifty-six National
Spiritual Assemblies convened at the Baha'i World
Center in Haifa by the Hands of the Cause.
Immediately following this historic election, Baha'is from all
parts of the globe gathered in London at the first World Congress
of the Faith to celebrate the Centenary of the Declaration
of Baha'u'llah and to rejoice in the worldwide spread of
His Faith.
The supreme institution of the Faith today is the Universal
House of Justice, created by Baha'u'llah in His Most Holy
Book, invested with authority to legislate on all matters not
covered in the Baha'i Writings, and assured divine guidance in
the Sacred Text itself. Abdu'l-Baha, in His Will and testament,
lays down the method of election of the Universal House
of Justice, define sits station and duties more clearly, and
asserts that it is under the direct guidance of the Bab and
Baha'u'llah and is the body to which all must turn.
The unique and distinguishing feature of the Baha'i Faith
is the Covenant of Baha'u'llah, the bedrock upon which the
Faith raises all its structures and bases its development. Its
uniqueness is that for the first time in religious history the
Manifestation of God, in clear and unambiguous language,
provides for the authorized interpretation of His Word, and
ensures the continuity of the divinely appointed authority
which flows from the Source of the Faith.
Interpretation of Scripture has always in earlier religions
been a most fertile source of schism. Baha'u'llah, in the Book
of His Covenant, vested in His eldest son, Abdu'l-Baha, full
<p285>
powers for the interpretation of His Writings and for the direction
of His Cause. Abdu'l-Baha, in His Will and Testament,
appointed His eldest grandson, Shoghi Effendi, Guardian
of the Faith and sole interpreter of the Writings. There is no
priesthood within the Faith and no individual may claim
special station or guidance; authority is vested in institutions
created within the Baha'i Scriptures.
By virtue of these unique provisions, the Faith of Baha'u'llah
has been preserved from schism, from the depredations
of unauthorized leadership, and above all from the infiltration
of man-made doctrines and theories, which in the past
have shattered the unity of religions. Pure and inviolate,
the revealed Word of Baha'u'llah, with its authorized interpretation,
remains throughout the Dispensation the uncorrupted
and incorruptible source of spiritual life to men.
In 1968 the Universal House of Justice took action to provide
for the future carrying out of the specific functions of
protection and propagation vested in the Hands of the Cause,
by the establishment of Continental Board of Counsellors.
Each Board consists of a number of Counsellors appointed by
the Universal House of Justice, and they work in close collaboration
with the Hands of the Cause of God. The appointment
and direction of Auxiliary Boards is now the duty of the Boards
of Counsellors, and the activities of the Hands, of whom fourteen
are still living, have been extended to be worldwide. In June
1973 the Universal House of Justice established in the Holy
Land an International Teaching Centre and assigned it the
activities of the Continental Board of Counsellors and as
liaison between them and the Universal House of Justice.
The Guardian had written of future global teaching plans
to be carried out under the direction of the Universal House of
Justice, and the first of these, a Nine Year Plan, was launched
in 1964. This was followed by a Five Year Plan terminating at
Ridvan 1979. At the present time, 1979, the Baha'i Faith has been
established in 172 independent states. There are Baha'is living in
over 103,000 localities throughout the world; Baha'i literature has
been translated into over 650 languages; the sixth and seventh
<p286>
Baha'i Temples are being built in India and Samoa; land for 123
other Temples has been acquired; there are 125 National Spiritual
Assemblies and 25,500 Local Spiritual Assemblies. Baha'is are
now energetically pursuing a Seven Year Plan designed to further
expand and consolidate the growth of the Faith throughout the
world.
Most encouraging of all has been the response of the masses
in such places as Africa, India, Southeast Asia and Latin
America, where large numbers of the indigenous peoples have
begun to enter the Cause, bringing about a new stage in the
development of the administrative and social activities of the
worldwide Baha'i community.


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