Read: These Perspicuous Verses



GEORGE RONALD, Publisher

46 High Street, Kidlington, Oxford 0X5 2DN

© R. W. McLaughlin 1982
All Rights Reserved


ISBN 0-85398-118-3 (Cloth)
ISBN 0-85398-119-1 (Paper)


Extracts from The Dawn-Breakers, by Nabil-i-A'zam, are
reprinted by permission of the National Spiritual
Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States.

Printed in the United States of America


For and with Katherine


                      CONTENTS 

          Introduction.......................1

          These Perspicuous Verses...........5

          Notes.............................11

          References........................91

          Author's bio......................94



In this Day a great festival is taking place in the Realm above; for whatsoever was promised in the sacred Scriptures hath been fulfilled. This is the Day of great rejoicing. It behoveth everyone to hasten towards the court of His nearness with exceeding joy, gladness, exultation and delight and to deliver himself from the fire of remoteness.
Bahá'u'lláh          



INTRODUCTION

     The passage which Bahá'u'lláh describes as 'these perspicuous verses' (ESW 131) appears in two of His major Tablets: the 'Ishráqát' or Splendours (TB 117-19) and the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf. (ESW131-4 [paragraph 192. -J.W.]) Bahá'u'lláh states in both Tablets that 'these are the verses We sent down previously' (TB 119 and ESW 134); and in the Epistle He adds: 'soon after Our arrival in the prison-city of 'Akká' (ESW 134) Thus the verses constituting this passage appear in the revealed Word of Bahá'u'lláh three times. We can well ponder the significance of this.

     This reader does not know to whom the verses had been 'sent down previously'; that is, before their appearance in the 'Ishráqát' and the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf. We do know, however, that the recipient, whoever he or she may be, is lovingly and tenderly described and blessed with words within the verses such as: '0 thou who hast set thy face towards the splendors of My Countenance!' and 'Blessed art thou, who hast fixed thy gaze upon Me, for this Tablet which hath been sent down for thee. . .' and 'We, verily, heard thy praise of this Cause.. . My glory be upon thee. . .' What a beautiful anonymity!

     The 'Ishráqát', where the verses are repeated, 'was addressed to Jalíl-I-Khu'í, one of the early believers in Ádhirbáyján, Persia. After the Ascension of Bahá'u'lláh he broke the Covenant.' (TB 106 fn 1)

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     The Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, where the verses again appear, was addressed to Shaykh Muhammad Taqí of Isfahán. With an unspeakable record of self-seeking intrigues and horrible crimes against Bahá'ís, he was surnamed by Bahá'u'lláh 'the son of the wolf', even as his father had been denounced as 'the wolf'. The Guardian refers to him as 'that rapacious priest' (GPB 219) and 'that notorious and bloodthirsty Mujtahid of Isfahán'. (BA 171) We reflect and wonder at the extent of human depravity demonstrated by a person to whom these perspicuous verses are addressed; and yet, in the Epistle, Bahá'u'lláh addresses him as one who still might mend his ways and lead a life of service to the Faith. Is Bahá'u'lláh reaching out to outer limits in order to include every one of us within His message?

     The verses were thus successively revealed: soon after 1868 when Bahá'u'lláh arrived in 'Akká; then after the revelation of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas c. 1873; and shortly before the Ascension of Bahá'u'lláh in 1892.

     So much for people and dates. What matters is the verses themselves and what each of us finds as he becomes immersed in them.

     The verses constituting the Tablet consist essentially of questions and answers. The questions, asked by 'dwellers of the earth' who are described in the second and third sentences, are usually phrased in the words of earlier scriptures that expressed expectation of the Day of Resurrection. Passages from the Qur'án and the Bible that may have suggested the questions are cited in the Notes. Through the nature and source of the questions we become aware not only of the continuity of Revelation, but of the degree to which Revelation becomes perverted in meaning.

     Bahá'u'lláh's answers, delivered in powerful, concise phrases, concern matters whose nature is revealed

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in greater degree elsewhere in His own Writings, and in some instances in other Bahá'í texts, in the Qur'án, the Hadiths (Traditions), the Gospel and the Pentateuch. Such passages are also cited in the Notes.

     This Tablet stands as a pinnacle from which salient points of past Revelation may be viewed. About it are spread the fertile plains, towering peaks and flowing streams of the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh. Each word of these verses is a sign-post leading to riches in His Word.

     Bahá'u'lláh refers to these verses, not only as 'perpicuous', but as constituting 'a Tablet which causeth the souls of men to soar'. He says: 'Commit it to memory, and recite it.' He calls it 'a door to the mercy of thy Lord' and says that 'Well is it with him that reciteth it at even tide and at dawn'. (ESW 134; TB 119) Such characterizations cause the reader to pause and reflect.

     The text that follows is as it appears in the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf. The introductory sentence does not appear in the 'Ishráqát' where the text proper is identical except in details, some of which will be mentioned.

     The notes that accompany the text are, of course, in no sense authoritative. They are only one reader's observations and speculations to be shared as possible tools in a common search for the gems that lie in the richly laden mine of the verses.

     Whoever follows the references in the notes will want to 'read around' them in the contexts in which they appear. The passages will then gain in meaning, and the reader will find other portions of the Writings that will bring further enlightenment.

     Robert W. McLaughlin

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THESE PERSPICUOUS VERSES

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     Among others, these perspicuous (1) verses have, in answer to certain individuals, been sent down from the Kingdom of Divine knowledge:

     '0 thou who hast set thy face(2) towards the splendours of My Countenance!(3) Vague fancies have encompassed the dwellers of the earth and debarred them from turning towards the Horizon of Certitude, and its brightness, and its manifestations and its lights. Vain imaginings have withheld them from Him Who is the Self-Subsisting.(4) They speak as prompted by their own caprices,(5) and understand not.(6) Among them are those who have said: "Have the verses (7) been sent down?" Say: "Yea, by Him Who is the Lord of the heavens!" "Hath the Hour (8) come?" "Nay, more; it hath passed, by Him Who is the Revealer of clear tokens! Verily, the Inevitable (9) is come, and He, the True One,(10) hath appeared with proof and testimony.(11) The Plain(12) is disclosed, and mankind is sore vexed and fearful.(13) Earthquakes(14) have broken loose, and the tribes have lamented,(15) for fear of God, the Lord of Strength, the All-Compelling." Say: "The stunning trumpet-blast(16) hath been loudly raised, and the Day(17) is God's, the One, the Unconstrained." "Hath the Catastrophe(18) come to pass?" Say:

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Yea, by the Lord of Lords!" "Is the Resurrection(19) come?" "Nay, more; He Who is the Self-Subsisting hath appeared with the Kingdom of His signs."(20) "Seest thou men laid low?"(21) "Yea, by my Lord, the Exalted, the Most High!" "Have the tree-stumps(22) been uprooted?" "Yea, more; the mountains have been scattered in dust;(23) by Him the Lord of attributes!"(24) They say: "Where is Paradise, and where is Hell?" Say: "The one is reunion with Me;(25) the other thine own self,(26) 0 thou who dost associate a partner(27) with God and doubtest." They say: "We see not the Balance."(28) Say:"Surely, by my Lord, the God of Mercy! None can see it except such as are endued with insight."(29) "Have the stars fallen?"(30) Say: "Yea, when He Who is the Self-Subsisting dwelt in the Land of Mystery (Adrianople).(31) Take heed, ye who are endued with discernment!"(32) All the signs appeared when We drew forth the Hand of Power from the bosom of majesty and might.(33) Verily, the Crier hath cried out,34 when the promised time(35) came, and they that have recognized the splendors of Sinai(36) have swooned away in the wilderness of hesitation,(37) before the awful majesty of thy Lord, the Lord of creation. The trumpet asketh: "Hath the Bugle(38) been sounded?" Say: "Yea, by the King of Revelation! when He mounted the throne of His Name, the All-Merciful" Darkness hath been chased away by

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the dawning-light(39) of the mercy of thy Lord, the Source of all light. The breeze of the All-Merciful hath wafted(40) and the souls have been quickened in the tombs of their bodies(41) Thus hath the decree been fulfilled by God, the Mighty, the Beneficent(42) They that have gone astray have said: "When were the heavens cleft asunder?"(43) Say: "While ye lay in the graves of waywardness and error."(44) Among the heedless(45) is he who rubbeth his eyes, and looketh to the right and to the left. Say: "Blinded art thou/"(46) No refuge hast thou to flee to."(47) And among them is he who saith: "Have men been gathered together?"(48) Say: "Yea, by My Lord! whilst thou didst lie in the cradle of idle fancies."(49) And among them is he who saith: "Hath the Book(50) been sent down through the power of the true Faith?" Say: "The true Faith itself is astounded."(51) Fear ye, 0 ye men of understanding heart!" And among them is he who saith: "Have I been assembled with others, blind?"(52) Say: "Yea, by Him that rideth upon the clouds!"(53) Paradise is decked with mystic roses, and hell hath been made to blaze with the fire of the impious.(54) Say: "The light hath shone forth from the horizon of Revelation, and the whole earth hath been illumined at the coming of Him Who is the Lord of the Day of the Covenant!"(55) The doubters have perished,(56) whilst he that turned, guided by the light of assurance,(57) unto the Dayspring of

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Certitude(58) hath prospered. Blessed art thou, who hast fixed thy gaze upon Me,(59) for this Tablet which hath been sent down for thee — a Tablet which causeth the souls of men to soar. Commit it to memory,(60)and recite it. By My life! It is a door to the mercy of thy Lord. Well is it with him that reciteth(61) it at even tide and at dawn.(62) We, verily, hear thy praise of this Cause, through which the mountain of knowledge was crushed,(63) and men's feet have slipped.(64) My glory be upon thee and upon whomsoever hath turned unto the Almighty, the All-Bounteous. The Tablet is ended, but the theme is unexhausted. Be patient, for thy Lord is Patient.(65)

     (ESW 131-4 [paragraph 192. -J.W.]; and see also TB 117-19)

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NOTES

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     1. The word 'perspicuous' comes from the Latin perspicere (to see through), then perspicuus (transparent, clear) and so came into our language with its meaning of clear, evident. (See OED and Webster.) The word appears in the Writings in various contexts, such as:perspicuous signs' (ESW 97); 'perspicuous Book' (ESW 102; Q 10:62); 'perspicuous words' (ESW 115); a perspicuous and luminous Revelation' (G 196); and 'Thy perspicuous utterances'. (PM 287)

     When we build the meanings of words into our consciousness, we more fully experience and understand the Word of God. Bahá'u'lláh writes: 'Thus have We adorned the heaven of Our Tablet with the suns of Our words. Blessed the man that hath attained thereunto, and been illumined with their light. . .' (ESW 103; TB 216) There is more to the comprehension of the meanings of words as they appear in the Writings than is found in dictionaries, essential as they are. This is not a game of wordsmanship. Bahá'u'lláh writes:'Know thou that he is truly learned who hath acknowledged My Revelation, and drunk from the Ocean of My knowledge, and soared in the atmosphere of My love, and cast away all else besides Me, and taken firm hold on that which hath been sent down from the Kingdom of My wondrous utterance.' (ESW 83; TB 207-8)

     Having turned to Bahá'u'lláh in our search for understanding of His Word, we recognize His command: 'Meditate on that which We have, through the power of truth, revealed unto thee, and be thou of them that comprehend its meaning.' (G 70) As we


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'ponder these sublime words, in each of which the oceans of inner meaning and explanation are hidden,' (ESW 147) we find assurance in His statement that:

     'We have variously and repeatedly set forth the meaning of every theme, that perchance every soul, whether high or low, may obtain, according to his measure and capacity, his share and portion thereof. Should he be unable to comprehend a certain argument, he may, thus, by referring unto another, attain his purpose. "That all sorts of men may know where to quench their thirst."' (KI 175) The meanings of words that we seek are the meanings that Bahá'u'lláh breathed into them.


     2. In the first sentence, '0 thou who hast set thy face ', these verses are addressed to an individual who has turned to and apparently accepted Bahá'u'lláh. The three sentences that follow are about those who have not; those debarred from Him by their fancies and withheld from Him by their imaginings. The stage is now set for the dramatic interplay between the questions of the dwellers of the earth and the responses of Bahá'u'lláh, which together form the substance of this Tablet.

     We note the readiness of the Manifestation of God to receive and answer questions. In the 'Súriy-i-Vafá (Tablet to Vafá) He wrote: 'Know thou moreover that thy letter reached Our presence and We perceived and perused its contents. We noted the questions thou hast asked and will readily answer thee. It behoveth everyone in this Day to ask God that which he desireth, and thy Lord will heed his petition with wondrous and undeniable verses.' (TB 183) The Writings of Bahá'u'lláh include phrases such as 'Thy letter from which the fragrance of reunion was inhaled hath been


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received' (TB 163); 'Thou hast inquired' (TB 190); 'as regards thine assertions' (TB 140); 'concerning thy question' (G 169); 'concerning thy reference' (G 192); 'We have repeatedly heard thy voice and have responded to thee. . .' (TB 48)

     It is a never-ending source of wonderment that Bahá'u'lláh, who addresses His world-embracing message to all of mankind, at the same time expresses in so personal a way His loving and tender concern for the individual. Thus 'the incomparable figure of Bahá'u'lláh, transcendental in His majesty, serene, awe-inspiring, unapproachably glorious' (WOB 97) stands ready to enter directly the heart of whoever will turn to Him.


     3. 'Countenance' is a word whose meaning, in the Writings, may be elusive in definition. Dictionaries give meanings such as face, visage, expression, demeanour, appearance, bearing or aspect; these have to be stretched quite far as figures of speech when applied, as in the Writings, to the countenance of God or of the Manifestation. There may be a clue to a wider and more suitable meaning, no longer in common use, in the derivation of countenance from the Latin contire, which means to hold together, to contain, and so may be expressive of an entity, being or presence.

     We best learn the meaning of words in the Writings through pondering them in context. Here are some appearances of 'countenance': '"Haste thee, 0 Carmel, for lo, the light of the countenance of God, the Ruler of the Kingdom of Names and Fashioner of the heavens, hath been lifted upon thee."' (G 14; TB 3) '. . .those Exponents of Oneness. . .These Countenances are the recipients of the Divine Command, and the Day Springs of His Revelation.' (KI 153; G 51) 'For He, the

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Mover of all beings, that glorified Countenance, is the source of such potencies. . .' (KI 124)'. . .let the riches of Thine ancient countenance deliver me from all except Thee, 0 my Master. . .' (PM 248; BP 76) 'the countenance of divine knowledge' (TB 103) '. . .the Horizon aglow with the light of His countenance.' (ESW 40)


     4. The Word of Bahá'u'lláh abounds in warnings about the idle fancies and vain imaginings which man is so capable of generating. 'Well is it with him,' He writes, 'who, aided by the living waters of Him Who is the Desire of all men, hath purified himself from idle fancies and vain imaginings. . .' (ESW 42) Muhammad said of the enemies of the Prophets: 'As Thou livest, 0 Muhammad! they are seized by the frenzy of their vain fancies.' (Q 15:72, as quoted in KI 135) and 'tinsel discourses do they suggest the one to the other, in order to deceive. . .Therefore, leave them and their vain imaginings.' (Q 6:112)

     We are warned throughout the Scriptures that our fancies and imaginings can get us into all kinds of trouble; here Bahá'u'lláh's specific warning is that they can debar and withhold us from Him.

     In other contexts Bahá'u'lláh says: 'The accumulations of vain fancy have obstructed men's ears and stopped them from hearing the Voice of God, and the veils of human learning and false imaginings have prevented their eyes from beholding the splendour of the light of His countenance.' (TB 240-1) 'We are quit of those ignorant ones who fondly imagine that Wisdom is to give vent to one's idle imaginings and to repudiate God, the Lord of all men; even as We hear some of the heedless voicing such assertions today.' (TB 150) 'Protect us, we beseech Thee, 0 my Lord,

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from the hosts of idle fancies and vain imaginations.'(PM 323)


     5. We read of caprices in the Qur'án: 'Say: Bring then a Book from before God which shall be a better guide than these, that I may follow it, if ye speak the truth. And if they answer thee not, then know that verily they are following their own caprices; and who goeth more widely astray than he who followeth his own caprice* without guidance from God?' (Q 28:49-50)


     6. The Qur'án tells us that 'men of understanding only will take the warning' (Q 39:12); and the Báb writes:'Thus on the Day of Resurrection God will ask everyone of his understanding and not of his following in the footsteps of others.' (SB 90) Bahá'u'lláh writes that 'First and foremost among these favors, which the Almighty hath conferred upon man, is the gift of understanding. His purpose in conferring such a gift is none other except to enable His creature to know and recognize the one true God — exalted be His glory. This gift giveth man the power to discern the truth in all things, leadeth him to that which is right, and helpeth him to discover the secrets of creation.' (G 194); and 'He is endued with understanding who is aware of Thy Revelation and hath acknowledged Thy manifold tokens, Thy signs, and Thy testimonies.' (PM 269)

     Thus we are shown the greatness of our bounty


*     'Caprice' came into the English language from the French Caprice, which came from the Italian capriccio, which derived from capo (head) + riccio (hedgehog), then back to the Latin (according to Webster). The porcupine is an American counterpart of the European hedgehog. GED derives capriccio as apparently from Capri (goat). The reader has only to resolve the relationship of the animals and the word. They are all capricious.

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     When we understand, and how great is our loss when we 'understand not'. 'Blessed are they that understand.' (ESW 50)


     7. 'Verses', as such, are frequently referred to by Muhammad, the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh. They appear to have a special station in their own right, both as instruments that convey revelation, and as proof of revelation by virtue of their own nature. We read in the Qur'án: 'Such are the verses of God: with truth do We recite them to Thee. But in what revelation will they believe, if they reject God and His verses?' (Q 45:5; KI 206) Bahá'u'lláh quotes this passage and adds: 'If thou wilt grasp the implication of this verse, thou wilt recognize the truth that no manifestation greater than the Prophets of God hath ever been revealed, and no testimony mightier than the testimony of their revealed verses hath ever appeared upon the earth.' (KI 206) The paragraphs before and after the foregoing passage tell much of the nature of the verses of God (see KI 200-12). Bahá'u'lláh further writes: 'He verily establisheth the truth through His verses, and confirmeth His Revelation by His words.' (KI 219)


     8. Bahá'u'lláh, quoting words of Jesus spoken on the Mount of Olives, says: 'Hearken unto the melodies of the Gospel with the ear of fairness. He saith — glorified be His utterance — prophesying the things that are to come: "But of that Day and Hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father." By Father in this connection is meant God — exalted be His glory. He, verily, is the True Educator, and the Spiritual Teacher.' (ESW 143, and see KJV Matthew 24:36)

     Muhammad told of the Hour that was to come:

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'...the promise of God is true, and that as to "the Hour" there is no doubt of its coming.' (Q 18:20) 'Aye, "the Hour" will surely come; there is no doubt of it; but most men believe it not.' (Q 40:61) 'They will ask thee of the Hour: for what time is its coming fixed? Say:The knowledge of it is only with my Lord; none shall manifest it in its time but He. . .' (Q 7:186) 'Lost are they who deny the meeting with God until "the Hour" cometh suddenly upon them! Then will they say, "Oh, our sighs for past negligence of this Hour. . ."' (Q 6:31)

     The Qur'án has many other references to the Hour that was to come. This reader is particularly aware of three great themes in that Book: the teachings and laws of that Dispensation; accounts of the succession of Manifestations that had gone before; and foretelling and warning of the Day and the Hour to come. In each of these themes there is the constant reiteration and explanation which the Messenger of God knows that mankind needs. . .'That Hour is nearer to thee and nearer; it is ever nearer to thee and nearer still.' (Q75:34-5)

     Bahá'u'lláh describes the Hour which has now come. Announcement has succeeded prophecy. 'Such is the greatness of this Day that the Hour itself is seized with perturbation, and all heavenly Scriptures bear evidence to its overpowering majesty.' (TB 237) 'Every hidden thing hath been brought to light, by virtue of the Will of the Supreme Ordainer, He Who hath ushered in the Last Hour, through Whom the Moon hath been cleft, and every irrevocable decree expounded.' (G 211) 'As for them who have disbelieved in Him, they shall be in the shadow of a black smoke. "The Hour" hath come upon them, while they are disporting themselves. They have been seized by

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their forelock, and yet know it not.' (G 43) 'Shake off, O heedless ones, the slumber of negligence, that ye may behold the radiance which His glory hath spread through the world. How foolish are those who murmur against the premature birth of His light. 0 ye who are inly blind! Whether too soon or too late, the evidences of His effulgent glory are now actually manifest. It behoveth you to ascertain whether or not such a light hath appeared. It is neither within your power nor mine to set the time at which it should be made manifest. God's inscrutable Wisdom hath fixed its hour beforehand.' (G 103) 'This is the hour, 0 my Lord, which Thou hast caused to excel every other hour, and hast related it to the choicest among Thy creatures.'(PM 146)

     Words have a life of their own. 'The Hour' is not only a point in time; it is a forecast revealed; a climate in which the present exists; an event recorded in history. Its presence, seen as letters on a page, or heard as sound-waves from the air, is filled with power. If one is truly alive, it starts all sorts of things going in the consciousness. Words can also be dead or dying; so can the hearer. (See note 44.) Bahá'u'lláh tells us that:'Through the movement of Our Pen of glory We have, at the bidding of the omnipotent Ordainer, breathed a new life into every human frame, and instilled into every word a fresh potency. All created things proclaim the evidences of this world-wide regeneration.'(G 92-3)


     9. The conference of the disciples of the Báb at Badasht, held while He was imprisoned in the fortress of Chihríq, proclaimed the annulment of the old order, abrogated the laws of Islam and ushered in the new Dispensation. (See GPB 17, 31-4, 403) Following the

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critical moment when Táhirih appeared unveiled Bahá'u'lláh directed that the Súrih of the Inevitable, the fifty-sixth of the Qur'án, be recited. (MF 201) It begins: 'When the inevitable day of judgment shall suddenly come, no soul shall charge the prediction of its coming with falsehood: it will abase some, and exalt others. When the earth shall be shaken with a violent shock; and the mountains shall be dashed in pieces, and shall become as dust scattered abroad. . .' (Q 56:1-6, Sale's translation) 'Abdu'l-Bahá describes the dramatic circumstances of Badasht and concludes:'. . .thus was the new Dispensation announced and the great Resurrection made manifest. . .The Conference of Badasht broke up, but the universal Advent had been proclaimed.' (MF 201)

     Another Súrih of the Qur'án, the sixty-ninth, which Rodwell also titles 'The Inevitable', opens with the words: 'The Inevitable! What is the Inevitable? And who shall make thee comprehend what the Inevitable is?' (Q 69:1-3) Following this, the denials of peoples of past Dispensations are recounted, those who 'treated the day of terrors as a lie' (Q 69:4) when the Messengers of God came to them, 'That we might make that event a warning to you,' (Q 69:12) and 'On that day the woe that must come suddenly shall suddenly come.'(Q 69:15)

     Bahá'u'lláh wrote: 'The thing that must come hath come suddenly; behold how they flee from it! The inevitable hath come to pass; witness how they have cast it behind their backs!' (G 43)


     10. Bahá'u'lláh is the True One. (See, for example, ESW 161, 163, 164, 165, 173) He is the 'Day-Star of Truth' (ESW 159); the 'Sun of Truth' (ESW 160); and named 'Him Who is the Truth'. (ESW 168, 174)

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     'By the righteousness of God! Ye shall hear all things proclaim: "Verily, He the True One is come. Blessed are they that judge with fairness, and blessed they that turn towards Him!"' (ESW 65)


     11. 'Proof' and 'testimony' may be termed analogous words; that is, words with a common basis of meaning. Pairs of such words are frequently coupled in the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh: words such as might and power, grace and mercy, justice and equity, sovereignty and dominion, awe and reverence, and many others. The meanings of analogous words may be about as close as synonyms; or they may deviate quite substantially from one underlying sense. When combined, they can produce a richness of meaning, as do musical notes in a chord. Here, for example, is a sentence from Bahá'u'lláh with five pairs of analogous words: 'Though my transgressions be manifold, and unnumbered my evil-doings, yet do I cleave tenaciously to the cord of His bounty, and cling unto the hem of His generosity.' (ESW 110)

     Bahá'u'lláh writes specifically of proof and testimony: 'Praise be to God . . . He it is Who hath revealed His Cause for the guidance of His creatures, and sent down His verses to demonstrate His Proof and His Testimony. . .' (ESW 1); and 'The first and foremost testimony establishing His truth is His own Self. Next to this testimony is His Revelation. For whoso faileth to recognize either the one or the other He hath established the words He hath revealed as proof of His reality and truth. (C 105)


     12. The appearance of the 'Plain' is reported in past Scriptures as a happening, apparently symbolic, which is associated and concurrent with the coming of the

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Manifestation. Isaiah proclaimed: '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. . .' (KJV Isaiah 40:3-5) John the Baptist announced: 'As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias [Isaiah], the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord; make His paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.' (KJV Luke 3:4-5; see also Mark 1:3)

     The 'Plain' was further foretold and described in the Qur'án, in the context of the Day of Resurrection:'And when the earth shall have been stretched out as a plain, and shall have cast forth what was in her and become empty, and duteously obeyed its Lord, then verily, 0 man who desirest to reach thy Lord, shalt thou meet Him.' (Q 84:3-6) 'And they will ask thee of the mountains. Say: scattering my Lord will scatter them in dust; and He will leave them a level plain; thou shalt see in it no hollows or jutting hills.' (Q 20:105-6; see also Q 18:45)

     The Báb asks and answers: 'Do men imagine that We are far distant from the people of the world? Nay, the day We cause them to be assailed by the pangs of death they shall, upon the plain of Resurrection, behold how the Lord of Mercy and His Remembrance were near.' (SB 46-7) And Bahá'u'lláh refers to the 'holy Plain', perhaps in a more literal sense related to

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the plain of 'Akká, as He proclaims: '0 Kings of the earth! Give ear unto the Voice of God, calling from this sublime, this fruit-laden Tree, that hath sprung out of the Crimson Hill, upon the holy Plain, intoning the words: "There is none other God but He, the Mighty, the All-Powerful, the All-Wise."' (cited PDC 20)

     Can this be the Plain of which it is said, in these verses: The Plain is disclosed,and mankind is sore vexed and fearful'? Why should mankind react in this way? In another Tablet Bahá'u'lláh tells us that: 'If the learned and worldly-wise men of this age were to allow mankind to inhale the fragrance of fellowship and love, every understanding heart would apprehend the meaning of true liberty, and discover the secret of undisturbed peace and absolute composure. Were the earth to attain this station and be illumined with its light it could then be truly said of it: "Thou shall see in it no hollows or rising hills."' (G 260; TB 162; with quotation from Q 20:106)

     Shall we, with our God-given freedom to choose, elect to follow those who are 'sore vexed and fearful' at this change of environment? Is it not our bounty to turn to Bahá'u'lláh when 'the Plain is disclosed,' and thus to 'discover the secret of undisturbed peace and absolute composure'?


     13. To be fearful means, of course, to be filled with fear. As a word which came from the Anglo-Saxon faer, 'fear' has a wider meaning than is now generally accorded it. Today, fear is commonly taken to mean fright, alarm, dread. That seems to be a satisfactory definition of the fear in fearful, as it appears here. But fear of God, as the term appears in the next sentence of the verse and elsewhere throughout the Scriptures, implies to me a fear that is more than a human reaction

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to danger: it implies a more abiding relationship between man and God. Such a relationship is indicated by the meaning that the Anglo-Saxon faer brought to the English word 'fear': a meaning of reverence, awe, adoration. (See OED and Webster) Thus to fear God means to revere Him, hold Him in awe, adore Him; all closely associated and compatible in meaning with loving Him, glorifying Him and praising Him. When we contemplate Bahá'u'lláh's repeated command 'Fear ye the Merciful' (as in ESW 29, 86; PM 284; TB 41, 103) the meaning of fear as awe or reverence seems to fit the context, as a meaning of fright or dread does not. So also with the passage: 'Their hearts are illumined with the light of the fear of God, and adorned with the adornment of His love.' (ESW 122)

     It is understandable that the earlier, basic meaning of fear has been largely forgotten, because the world in which we live seems to be more afraid than reverent, more conscious of danger to itself than aware of the might and power of its Creator.

     I do not mean to imply that fear, thought of as awe or reverence towards God, does not or should not include a sense of fear as dread; for however we may love, adore and revere God, we are aware of what happens should we turn away from Him, or disobey His commands.

     The contemporary (and we hope temporary) lack of understanding of the deeper significance of fear, particularly as related to the fear of God, is an example of the tendency of our time to dilute richly-endowed words with ephemeral considerations, or to shrink them into the confines of current interests. Another example of this tendency lies in the word 'magnify', which means to make great, from the Latin magnum (great) and facere (to make), and thus to praise and

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worship. But 'to magnify' is now taken to mean to enlarge in material size. How, in that sense, can we understand 'Magnified be Thy Name, 0 Lord my God!'? (PM 6) This reader finds it profitable to search out and ponder the significance of words as they appeared in the King James version of the Bible, and now in the Guardian's translations of the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, as an antidote to the anaemia that has affected the meanings of a number of our finest words.


     14. The Prophet Joel said: 'Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; for the Day of the Lord cometh,' and 'The earth shall quake before them. . .' (KJV Joel 2:1,10)

     We read in the Qur'án: 'Verily, the earthquake of the last Hour will be a tremendous thing!' (Q 22:1); 'The day cometh when the earth and the mountains shall be shaken; and the mountains shall become a loose sand heap.' (Q 73:14); 'When the earth with her quaking shall quake . . .' (Q 99:1); 'When the Day that must come shall have come suddenly, none shall treat that sudden coming as a lie. Day that shall abase! Day that shall exalt! When the earth shall be shaken with a shock.' (Q 56:1-4); 'And thou shalt see the mountains, which thou thinkest so firm, pass away with the passing of a cloud! 'Tis the work of God, who ordereth all things!' (Q 27:90)

     Bahá'u'lláh tells us of the upheavals that mark the Day of Resurrection: 'This is the Day whereon the All-Merciful hath come down in the clouds of knowledge, clothed with manifest sovereignty . . . The heaven of every religion hath been rent, and the earth of human understanding been cleft asunder, and the angels of God are seen descending. Say: This is the Day of mutual deceit; whither do ye flee? The mountains

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have passed away, and the heavens have been folded together, and the whole earth is held within His grasp, could ye but understand it. Who is it that can protect you? None, by Him Who is the All-Merciful! None, except God, the Almighty, the All-Glorious, the Beneficent!' (G 45); and 'The earth hath quaked with a great quaking, and cast forth her burdens. Will ye not admit it? Say: Will ye not recognize how the mountains have become like flocks of wool. . .?' (G 44); 'The earth hath been shaken, and the mountains have passed away, and the angels have appeared, rank on rank, before Us.' (G 41)

     When phenomena, such as earthquakes or the appearance of stars, are mentioned in the Scriptures, they may be understood literally, or symbolically, or in both senses. Bahá'u'lláh explains the meaning of the words: 'And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven.' (KJV Matthew 24:30) He tells us that:
'By "heaven" is meant the visible heaven, inasmuch as a star will appear in the heaven, heralding unto its people the advent of that most great light. In like manner, in the invisible heaven a star shall be made manifest who, unto the peoples of the earth, shall act as a harbinger of the break of that true and exalted Morn. These twofold signs, in the visible and the invisible heaven, have announced the Revelation of each of the Prophets of God. . .' (KI 62) Bahá'u'lláh then recounts the stars whose appearance in both the visible and invisible heavens announced the coming of Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad and the Báb. (KI 62-6)


     As to earthquakes, we note 'Abdu'l-Bahá mention of two: one to be understood literally and the other symbolically. In the first account, 'Abdu'l-Bahá quotes a prophecy in the Revelation of St John: 'And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of

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the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand. . .' (KJV Revelation 11:13) and then states: 'This earthquake occurred in Shíráz after the martyrdom of the Báb. The city was in a turmoil, and many people were destroyed. Great agitation also took place through diseases, cholera, dearth, scarcity, famine and afflictions, the like of which had never been known.' (SAQ 65) Concerning another earthquake, 'Abdu'l-Bahá says: '. . .in the Gospel it is written that at the martyrdom of Christ darkness prevailed, and the earth quaked, and the veil of the Temple was rent. After weighing the evidence, He says of these events that 'it is evident they ought not to be taken literally, but as having an inner significance.' (SAQ 45)

     The variety of ways in which men have interpreted statements of natural phenomena in the Scriptures has been a cause of the rise of schisms and sects in the Religions, and has resulted in denial of the true message of God when it has come. If men assume a rigid, literal interpretation of the phenomena, they can create assumptions that blind them to reality; yet if they wave away all phenomena as symbolism, then reality can elude them. For example, one group may decide that Christ will return to earth on a cloud, in a literal sense, and until that happens they will not accept His return as the truth; on the other hand, another group may announce that everything we have been told about Christ is symbolic, even to His existence. Each attitude is within the capabilities of man's fancies and imaginings. Each group tends to solidify its position into dogma and to create another sect.

     'Abdu'l-Bahá says: 'Inasmuch as human interpretations and blind imitations differ widely, religious strife and disagreement have arisen among mankind, the light of true religion has been extinguished and the

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unity of the world of humanity destroyed.' (PUP 139) Bahá'u'lláh tells us: 'Inasmuch as it hath been clearly shown that only those who are initiated into the divine mysteries can comprehend the melodies uttered by the Bird of Heaven, it is therefore incumbent upon every one to seek enlightenment from the illumined in heart and from the Treasuries of divine mysteries regarding the intricacies of God's Faith and the abstruse allusions in the utterances of the Daysprings of Holiness. Thus will these mysteries be unraveled, not by the aid of acquired learning, but solely through the assistance of God and the outpourings of His grace. "Ask ye, therefore, of them that have the custody of the Scriptures, if ye know it not".' (KI 191-2; quotation from Q 16:45)


     15. In the Kitáb-i-Íqán Bahá'u'lláh recounts the words of Jesus: 'And now,. . .with reference to His words: "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".' (KI 66, quoting from KJV Matthew 24:30) Bahá'u'lláh then tells us that:

     'These words signify that in those days men will lament the loss of the Sun of the divine beauty, of the Moon of knowledge, and of the Stars of divine wisdom. Thereupon, they will behold the countenance of the promised One, the adored Beauty, descending from heaven and riding upon the clouds. By this is meant that the divine Beauty will be made manifest from the heaven of the will of God, and will appear in the form of the human temple. 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.' (KI 66-7)

     Phrases in the passage above: 'these words signify', 'by this is meant', 'the term denoteth', reach us as the

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patient concern of the Author for our understanding of His Word. Bahá'u'lláh, the kindly Teacher, pauses throughout the majesty of His Writings to explain the meaning of words within His Word. He defines terms, interprets passages, and unravels mysteries.


     16. Scriptures from early times make mention of the trumpet in association with and as symbolic of Revelation.

     In the Pentateuch we read that: 'Moses went down from the Mount unto the people. . . And it came to pass. . .that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the Mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud. . .And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God and they stood at the nether part of the Mount. And Mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke. . .and the whole Mount quaked greatly. And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered Him by a voice. (KJV Exodus 19:14-19)

     The prophet Isaiah proclaimed: 'All ye inhabitants of the world, and dwellers on the earth. . . when He bloweth a trumpet, hear ye.' (KJV Isaiah 18:3)

     Speaking from the Mount of Olives, Jesus declared:'And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven; and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet. . .'(KJV Matthew 24:30-1)

     In the Book of Revelation, St. John likened the voice of God to a trumpet: 'I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the

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last. . .' (KJV Revelation 1:10-11); and 'After this I looked and, behold, a door was opened in heaven; and the first voice which I heard was, as it were, of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither and I will show thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the Spirit and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.' (KJV Revelation 4:1-2) There follows, in the Book of Revelation, an account of seven trumpets which seven angels sounded. (KJV Revelation 8, 9 and 11)

     The Qur'án contains many mentions of the trumpet, of which the following are examples: 'And the trumpet shall be blown, and lo, they shall speed out of their sepulchres to their Lord.' (Q 36:51); 'For when there shall be a trump on the trumpet, that shall be a distressful day. . .' (Q 74:8-9); 'And there shall be a blast on the trumpet — it is the threatened Day!' (Q 50:19); 'Lo, the day of severance is fixed, the day when there shall be a blast on the trumpet. . .' (Q 78:17); 'One day the disturbing trumpet-blast shall disturb it, which the second blast shall follow. Men's hearts on that day shall quake.' (Q 79:6-7) 'And there shall be a blast on the trumpet, and all who are in the heavens and all who are in the earth shall expire, save those whom God shall vouchsafe to live. Then shall there be another blast on it, and lo! arising they shall gaze around them; and the earth shall shine with the light of her Lord; and the Book shall be set; and the prophets shall be brought up, and the witnesses; and judgment shall be given between them with equity; and none shall be wronged; and every soul shall receive as it shall have wrought, for well knoweth He men's actions. . .' (Q 39:68-70)

     The significance of the two blasts on the trumpet, mentioned in the two passages immediately above, was noted by Siyyid Kázim, the Islamic teacher who

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foresaw the imminent coming of the Promised Ones. In an address to his disciples, shortly before the Declaration of the Báb, he said: 'For soon after the first trumpet-blast which is to smite the earth with extermination and death, there shall be sounded again yet another call, at which all things will be quickened and revived. Then will the meaning of these sacred verses be revealed: "And there was a blast on the trumpet.

     Then was there sounded another blast. . ."' (Q 39:68) Siyyid Kázim adds: 'Verily I say, after the Qá'im the Qayyúm will be made manifest.' And, 'How often has that venerable soul, Shaykh Ahmad, recited those verses of the Qur'án already referred to!' (DB 41-2) (See DB 1-46 for an account of Shaykh Ahmad and Siyyid Kázim, who foretold the trumpet-blasts that would signal the coming of the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh.)

     As we turn to the words of Bahá'u'lláh Himself we note that whereas Muhammad referred to the trumpet-blasts as in the future, Bahá'u'lláh mentions them, as we might expect, as events of the past: 'Say:by God!' He writes, 'The blast hath been blown on the trumpet, and lo, mankind hath swooned away before us!' (G 43); 'Verily We have sounded the Trumpet which is none other than My Pen of Glory. . .' (TB 61); 'By Him Who is the Great Announcement!. . .The Trumpet hath been blown, and lo, all eyes have stared up with terror, and the hearts of all who are in the heavens and on the earth have trembled, except them whom the breath of the verses of God hath quickened, and who have detached themselves from all things.' (G 40); 'Speed out of your sepulchres. How long will ye sleep? The second blast hath been blown on the trumpet.' (G 44)

     Bahá'u'lláh repeats the words of the prophet Isaiah: '"Say to them that are of a fearful heart: be strong, fear

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not, behold your God,"' and says: 'This blessed verse is a proof of the greatness of the Revelation, and of the greatness of the Cause, inasmuch as the blast of the trumpet must needs spread confusion throughout the world, and fear and trembling amongst all men. Well is it with him who hath been illumined with the light of trust and detachment. The tribulations of that Day will not hinder or alarm him.' (ESW 147)


     17. The Báb announced the arrival of the Days of God: 'When God sent forth His Prophet Muhammad, on that day the termination of the prophetic cycle was foreordained in the knowledge of God. Yea, that promise hath indeed come true and the decree of God hath been accomplished as He hath ordained. Assuredly we are today living in the Days of God. These are the glorious days on the like of which the sun hath never risen in the past. These are the days which the people in bygone times eagerly expected. What hath then befallen you that ye are fast asleep? These are the days wherein God hath caused the Day-Star of Truth to shine resplendent. What hath then caused you to keep your silence? These are the appointed days which ye have been yearningly awaiting in the past — the days of the advent of divine justice. Render ye thanks unto God, 0 ye concourse of believers.' (SB 161)

     The first forty-six pages of Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh are largely devoted to the Day of God. We repeat several passages: 'In the Book of Isaiah it is written: "Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of His majesty." No man that meditateth upon this verse can fail to recognize the greatness of this Cause, or doubt the exalted character of this Day — the Day of God

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Himself. This same verse is followed by these words:"And the Lord alone shall be exalted in that Day." This is the Day which the Pen of the Most High hath glorified in all the holy Scriptures. There is no verse in them that doth not declare the glory of His holy Name, and no Book that doth not testify unto the loftiness of this most exalted theme. Were We to make mention of all that hath been revealed in these heavenly Books and holy Scriptures concerning this Revelation, this Tablet would assume impossible dimensions. It is incumbent, in this Day, upon every man to place his whole trust in the manifold bounties of God, and arise to disseminate, with the utmost wisdom, the verities of His Cause. Then, and only then, will the whole earth be enveloped with the morning light of His Revelation.' (G 13-14). This passage is followed in Gleanings by the 'Tablet of Carmel' which opens with the words: 'All glory be to this Day, the Day in which the fragrances of mercy have been wafted over all created things, a Day so blest that past ages and centuries can never hope to rival it, a Day in which the countenance of the Ancient of Days hath turned towards His holy seat.' (G 14; TB 3); and near the end of the Tablet Bahá'u'lláh, addressing Carmel, utters the prophetic announcement: 'Verily this is the Day in which both land and sea rejoice at this announcement, the Day for which have been laid up those things which God, through a bounty beyond the ken of mortal mind or heart, hath destined for revelation. Ere long will God sail His Ark upon thee, and will manifest the people ofBahá who have been mentioned in the Book of Names.' (G 16; TB 5) By 'the people of Bahá' are meant, in this instance, the members of the Universal House of Justice. (See The Constitution of the Universal House of Justice, p. 6.)

     'Know thou that the ear of man hath been created

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that it may hearken unto the Divine Voice on this Day that hath been mentioned in all the Books, Scriptures, and Tablets.' (ESW 2)


     18. The word 'catastrophe' derives from the Greek kata (down) + strephein (to turn), thus an overturning, overthrowing. In drama it indicates a turn of the plot, a denouement, an unravelling towards an ending. In geology it means a sudden and violent physical change of the earth. (See OED and Webster) These are specialized meanings that shed light on the more general intent of the word. It has come, currently, to have a rather loose meaning of any sudden disaster. The Guardian, who did not use words loosely, wrote in 1941: 'A tempest, unprecedented in its violence, unpredictable in its course, catastrophic in its immediate effects, unimaginably glorious in its ultimate consequences, is at present sweeping the face of the earth.' (PDC 1) In describing the Conference at Badasht (see note 9) he said: 'On that memorable day the "Bugle" mentioned in the Qur'án was sounded, the "stunning trumpet-blast" was loudly raised, and the "Catastrophe" came to pass.' (GPB 33)

     The Catastrophe may be understood in the light of the Resurrection which is discussed in the following note.


     19. The word 'resurrection' comes from the Latin re (again) + surgere (to rise), then resurrectio (a rising again). (See OED and Webster.) Bahá'u'lláh tells us that the 'Catastrophe' and the 'Resurrection' have come. They appear to the human eye as happenings in opposite directions: the Catastrophe trending downward in a breaking up of the old order, and the Resurrection rising to fulfillment in the coming of the Manifestation.

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     In the Qur'án we read: 'It is God who sendeth forth the winds which raise the clouds aloft; then drive We them on to some land dead from drought, and give life thereby to the earth after its death. So shall be the resurrection.' (Q 35:10)

     The Báb expounds the meaning of the Day of Resurrection. He writes, referring to His Holy Book: 'The Bayán shall constitute God's unerring balance till the Day of Resurrection which is the Day of Him Whom God will make manifest.' (SB 102) And: 'In the estimation of God and according to the usage of such as are initiated into divine mysteries, what is meant by the Day of Resurrection is this, that from the time of the appearance of Him Who is the Tree of divine Reality, at whatever period and under whatever name, until the moment of His disappearance, is the Day of Resurrection.' (SB 106-7)

     Bahá'u'lláh writes of '. . .the Day of Resurrection, which is the Day of the rise of God Himself through His all-embracing Revelation,' and adds: 'This is the meaning of the "Day of Resurrection," spoken of in all the scriptures, and announced unto all people. Reflect, can a more precious, a mightier, and more glorious day than this be conceived, so that man should willingly forego its grace, and deprive himself of its bounties, which like unto vernal showers are raining from the heaven of mercy upon all mankind? Having thus conclusively demonstrated that no day is greater than this Day, and no revelation more glorious than this Revelation, and having set forth all these weighty and infallible proofs which no understanding mind can question, and no man of learning overlook, how can man possibly, through the idle contention of the people of doubt and fancy, deprive himself of such a bountiful grace? Have they not heard the well-known

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tradition: "When the Qá'im riseth, that day is the Day of Resurrection"?' (KI 143-4) He further says: 'It hath been demonstrated and definitely established, through clear evidences, that by "Resurrection" is meant the rise of the Manifestation of God to proclaim His Cause, and by "attainment unto the divine Presence is meant attainment unto the presence of His Beauty in the person of His Manifestation.' (KI 170)

     Thus we have the statements of the Báb and of Bahá'u'lláh as to the meaning of the 'Resurrection'.

     I venture an observation as to the relationship between the Catastrophe and the Resurrection: that the Catastrophe may be thought of as a turning down, a denouement, a disintegration of the old, prophetic order; while the Resurrection is expressive of the rise of the Manifestation at the dawn of the cycle of fulfillment.


     20. The fourth section of Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá (SAB 13-17) is devoted to a description and elucidation of phenomena that accompanied the coming of Bahá'u'lláh. These are the happenings, appearances and evidences that Bahá'u'lláh refers to in these perspicuous verses as 'the Kingdom of His Signs', a term that is recognized and understood in the light of 'the sovereignty of Him Who is the King of kings'. (KI 123)

     'Sign' is one of those words that have shrunk in meaning in our time of trivia and material concerns. As we reflect on its appearance in the Word of Bahá'u'lláh and in the interpretive passages of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, we have the opportunity to regain the sense of the word as it has appeared in all the Holy Books and Scriptures.

     The Manifestations of God have progressively and consistently brought with them signs of their coming —

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signs by which they have ultimately been recognized, and by which they would have been recognized early on by more than a handful, except that, in the words of the Qur'án : 'Never did one single sign from among the signs of their Lord come to them, but they turned away from it.' (Q 6:4)

     The Qur'án abounds in references to 'signs', such as, for example: 'And He showeth you His signs; which, then, of the signs of God will ye deny?' (Q 40:81) Muhammad recounted in the Súrih of Húd (Q:11) the failure of people at the time of past Dispensations to recognize the signs of the Prophets; and Bahá'u'lláh writes: 'To them that are possessed of true understanding and insight the Súrih of Húd surely sufficeth.' (KI 5) In the Pentateuch, the Gospel, the Qur'án, and in the Words of the Báb and of Bahá'u'lláh, we read of this drama of revelation and rejection, re-enacted with variations in each Dispensation. It may be thought of as the theme that underlies the dialogue in 'these perpicuous verses'.

     Bahá'u'lláh writes: 'Praise be to God, the Eternal that perisheth not, the Everlasting that declineth not, the Self-Subsisting that altereth not. He it is Who is transcendent in His sovereignty, Who is manifest through His signs, and is hidden through His mysteries.' (ESW 1) And: 'Happy that one who hath cast away his vain imaginings, when He Who was hid came with the standards of His signs. We, verily, have announced unto men this Most Great Revelation, and yet the people are in a state of strange stupor.' (ESW 79) And: 'He hath endowed every soul with the capacity to recognize the signs of God. How could He, otherwise, have fulfilled His testimony unto men, if ye be of them that ponder His Cause in their hearts. (G 105-6) 'Praise be to Thee, 0 my God, that Thou

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hast aided me to remember Thee and to praise Thee, and hast made known unto me Him Who is the Day-Spring of Thy signs. . .' (PM 322)


     21. Muhammad said: 'Truly they who oppose God and His Apostle shall be brought low, as those who were before them were brought low. . . On the day when God shall raise them all to life. . .' (Q 58:6-7)

     Bahá'u'lláh wrote: 'He whose advent hath been foretold in the heavenly Scriptures is come, could ye but understand it. The world's horizon is illumined by the splendours of this Most Great Revelation. Haste ye with radiant hearts and be not of them that are bereft of understanding. The appointed Hour hath struck and mankind is laid low.' (TB 244)

     One may wonder at mankind being laid low in this 'the Day in which the fragrances of mercy have been wafted over all created things. . .' (G 14; TB 3) Bahá'u'lláh writes: 'Know thou moreover that in the Day of His Manifestation all created things besides God shall be brought forth and placed equally, irrespective of their rank being high or low. The Day of Return is inscrutable unto all men until after the divine Revelation hath been fulfilled. He is in truth the One Who ordaineth whatsoever He willeth. When the Word of God is revealed unto all created things whoso then giveth ear and heedeth the Call is, indeed, reckoned among the most distinguished souls, though he be a carrier of ashes. And he who turneth away is accounted as the lowliest of His servants, though he be a ruler amongst men and the possessor of all the books that are in the heavens and on earth.' (TB 186)

     One must recognize Revelation as a mighty force capable of raising mankind to ever higher levels, if only men will allow it. It is not a spoon-fed palliative,

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handed out to tranquilize the ills of mankind. That is the nature of human fancies and imaginings taking the form of philosophies, movements, cults and sects that come and go. Revelation, expressed through the Word, is a directive of the Divine Physician, a prescription and command which man is free either to heed or to turn away from. Revelation is not an abstraction, nor only a spiritual vibration in a remote world; it involves a relationship between God and man through His Manifestation.

     Bahá'u'lláh tells us, further: 'The Blast hath been blown on the Trumpet of the Bayán as decreed by the Lord, the Merciful, and all that are in the heavens and on the earth have swooned away except such as have detached themselves from the world, cleaving fast unto the Cord of God, the Lord of mankind. This is the Day in which the earth shineth with the effulgent light of thy Lord, but the people are lost in error and have been shut out as by a veil. We desire to regenerate the world, yet they have resolved to put an end to My life. Thus have their hearts prompted them in this Day — a Day which hath been made bright by the radiant light of the countenance of its Lord, the Omnipotent, the Almighty, the Unconstrained.' (TB 244)


     22. We read in the Qur'án of happenings with the people of 'Ád who rejected the Prophet Húd: 'The Adites called the truth a lie; but how great was My vengeance and My menace! For We sent against them a roaring wind in a day of continued distress. It tore men away as though they were uprooted palm stumps.' (Q 54:18-20)

     Bahá'u'lláh writes: 'With the arm of might and power We have rescued a number of souls from the slough of impending extinction and enabled them to

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attain the Dayspring of glory. . .Nevertheless some people seem to have been seized with epilepsy, others are torn up even as hollow tree-stumps.' (TB 241)

     Thus a symbol of uprooted tree-stumps seems to have carried over from the Islamic world.


     23. The mountain is probably the ultimate symbol on earth of sheer greatness and lastingness. Muhammad said: 'He it is who hath outstretched the earth, and placed on it the firm mountains . . .(Q 13:3) Bahá'u'lláh wrote: 'And at whatever time I contemplate the mountains, I am led to discover the ensigns of Thy victory and the standards of Thine omnipotence.' (PM272)

     Throughout the ages mountains have stood as landmarks in the unfoldment of Revelation; witness Ararat, Sinai, Horeb, Paran, Seir, the Mount of Olives, Carmel.

     Thus for mountains to have been scattered in dust is a pretty extreme situation, even symbolically. Muhammad said that it would happen: 'The Day cometh when the earth and the mountains shall be shaken; and the mountains shall become a loose sand heap.' (Q 73:14) 'And they will ask thee of the mountains. Say: scattering my Lord will scatter them in dust.' (Q20:105)

     Muhammad also describes this awesome happening in a delightful simile, familiar in days of spinning and weaving in the home: 'The Day when men shall be like scattered moths, and the mountains shall be like flocks of carded wool.' (Q 101:3-4; see also Q 70:8-9) Bahá'u'lláh asks: 'Will ye not recognize how the mountains have become like flocks of wool, how the people are sore vexed at the awful majesty of the Cause of God?'(G 44-5)

     
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     An episode in the Qur'án about Noah, His son, the Ark and the flood, illustrates the inadequacy, particularly in times such as these, of any refuge except the Ark, even a mountain: 'The Ark moved on with them amid waves like mountains; and Noah called to His son, for he was apart: "Embark with us, 0 my child, and be not with the unbelievers."' His son replied: '"I will betake me to a mountain that shall secure me from the water."' Noah said: '"None shall be secure this Day from the decree of God, save him on whom He shall have mercy." And a wave passed between them and he [the son] was among the drowned.' (Q 11:44-5)


     24. Throughout these verses, as elsewhere in His Writings, Bahá'u'lláh utters words and phrases about God that we generally refer to as attributes, names or titles. They are descriptive of qualities associated with God, known to men through their appearance in and expression by His Manifestation. In these verses the following titles, names or attributes of God or the Manifestation appear: 'the Self-Subsisting; the Lord of the Heavens; the Revealer of clear tokens; the True One; the Lord of Strength, the All-Compelling; the One, the Unconstrained; the Lord of Lords; the Self-Subsisting (again); my Lord, the Exalted, the Most High;* the Lord of attributes; my Lord, the God of Mercy; the Self-Subsisting (still again); thy Lord, the Lord of Creation; the King of Revelation; His Name, the All-Merciful; thy Lord, the Source of all light; the All-Merciful; God, the Mighty, the Beneficent; Him Who is the Lord of the Day of the Covenant; the Almighty, the All-Bounteous.'


     *     In place of 'the Exalted, the Most High' as here in the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, 'the Most High, the Most Glorious' appears in the 'Ishráqát'.

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     Thus Bahá'u'lláh weaves into the fabric of His Word, as one breathing while speaking, a medley of praise and glorification of God.


     25. As we seek to understand the meaning of reunion, Bahá'u'lláh provides us with verses such as these:'Great indeed is the blessedness of him who attaineth Thy presence, drinketh the wine of reunion proffered by the hand of Thy bounteousness, inhaleth the fragrance of Thy signs, unlooseth his tongue in celebrating Thy praise, soareth high in Thy heavens, is carried away by the sweetness of Thy voice, gaineth admittance into the most exalted Paradise and attaineth the station of revelation and vision before the throne of Thy majesty.' (TB 116) 'Proclaim unto every longing lover: "Behold, your Well-Beloved hath come among men!" and to the messengers of the Monarch of love impart the tidings: "Lo, the Adored One hath appeared arrayed in the fullness of His glory!" 0 lovers of His beauty! Turn the anguish of your separation from Him into the joy of an everlasting reunion, and let the sweetness of His presence dissolve the bitterness of your remoteness from His court.' (G 320) 'Hijáz is astir by the breeze announcing the tidings of joyous reunion. "Praise be to Thee," We hear her exclaim, "0 my Lord, the Most High. I was dead through my separation from Thee; the breeze laden with the fragrance of Thy presence hath brought me back to life."' (WOB 105) 'The Flower, thus far hidden from the sight of men, is unveiled to your eyes. In the open radiance of His glory He standeth before you. His voice summoneth all the holy and sanctified beings to come and be united with Him. (G 322) 'Let the flame of search burn with such fierceness within your hearts as to enable you to attain your supreme and most exalted

     
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goal — the station at which ye can draw nigh unto, and be united with, your Best-Beloved. . .' (G 323-4) '0 Son of Being! Thy Paradise is My love; thy heavenly home, reunion with Me. Enter therein and tarry not. This is that which hath been destined for thee in Our kingdom above and Our exalted dominion.' (HW No. 6 from the Arabic) 'Whoso hath recognized the Day Spring of Divine guidance and entered His holy court hath drawn nigh unto God and attained His Presence, a Presence which is the real Paradise, and of which the loftiest mansions of heaven are but a symbol.' (G 70) 'For lovers have no desire but the good-pleasure of their Beloved, and have no aim except reunion with Him.' (KI 129)


     26. The self is not a static something that can be described in one crisp statement; it is constantly in a state of change. At times it may be seeking reunion with God, at others driven about by fancies and imaginings. It eludes capture as a single image. It appears in the Writings as on frames in a motion-picture. When successive frames are projected, images enter the consciousness and meld into understanding. Here are some of the 'frames' that appear in the Book of Bahá'u'lláh.

      '. . .man should know his own self and recognize that which leadeth unto loftiness or lowliness, glory or abasement, wealth or poverty.' (TB 35) 'Through the Teachings of this Day Star of Truth every man will advance and develop until he attaineth the station at which he can manifest all the potential forces with which his inmost true self hath been endowed. It is for this very purpose that in every age and dispensation the Prophets of God and His chosen Ones have appeared amongst men. . .' (G 68)

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     Obviously those passages are not indicative of the self that Bahá'u'lláh associates with Hell, nor are the next ones: 'Let your vision be world-embracing, rather than confined to your own self' (G 94; TB 87) 'Burn away, wholly for the sake of the Well-Beloved, the veil of self with the flame of the undying Fire. . .' (G 316) Here the atmosphere becomes ominous and in the following passages the self is exposed as a potentially evil force. We assume that it is such an aspect of self that Bahá'u'lláh equates with Hell.

     'Thine heart is My treasury, allow not the treacherous hand of self to rob thee of the pearls which I have treasured therein.' (G 322) 'Thou seest, 0 my Lord, how Thy servants are held captive by their own selves and desires. Redeem them from their bondage, 0 my God.. .' (PM 52) 'I implore Thee, 0 my God. . .not to abandon me unto my self, for my heart is prone to evil.' (PM 210) 'Divest, then, Thy servants, 0 my God, of the garments of self and desire, or grant that the eyes of Thy people may be lifted up to such heights that they will discern in their desires naught except the stirring of the gentle winds of Thine eternal glory, and may recognize in their own selves nothing but the revelation of Thine own merciful Self. . .' (PM 324) '0 son of spirit! There is no peace for thee save by renouncing thyself and turning unto Me; for it behooveth thee to glory in My name, not in thine own. . .' (HW No. 8 from the Arabic) '0 My servant! Free thyself from the fetters of this world, and loose thy soul from the prison of self. . .' (HW No. 40 from the Persianº. . .'0 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

     
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manifest unto all the world.' (HW No. 72 from the Persian) '0 son of man! If thou lovest Me, turn away from thyself. . .' (HW No. 7 from the Arabic)

     'Abdu'l-Bahá comments: 'Regarding the statement in The Hidden Words, that man must renounce his own self, the meaning is that he must renounce his inordinate desires, his selfish purposes and the promptings of his human self, and seek out the holy breathings of the spirit, and follow the yearnings of his higher self, and immerse himself in the sea of sacrifice, with his heart fixed upon the beauty of the All-Glorious. . . As to the reference in the Arabic Hidden Words that the human being must become detached from self, here too the meaning is that he should not seek out anything whatever for his own self in this swiftly-passing life, but that he should cut the self away, that is, he should yield up the self and all its concerns on the field of martyrdom, at the time of the coming of the Lord.' (SAB 207)

     'Abdu'l-Bahá addressed one of the Afnán: 'Let us not keep on forever with our fancies and illusions, with our analyzing and interpreting and circulating of complex dubieties. Let us put aside all thoughts of self; let us close our eyes to all on earth, let us neither make known our sufferings nor complain of our wrongs. Rather let us become oblivious of our own selves, and drinking down the wine of heavenly grace, let us cry out our joy, and lose ourselves in the beauty of the All-Glorious.' (SAB 236)

     And, finally, Bahá'u'lláh sheds His all-glorious light on the meaning of self, surrender, and union with God, in these words: '0 Shaykh, 0 thou who hast surrendered thy will to God! By self-surrender and perpetual union with God is meant that men should merge their will wholly in the Will of God, and regard their desires as utter nothingness beside His Purpose. Whatsoever

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the Creator commandeth His creatures to observe, the same must they diligently, and with the utmost joy and eagerness, arise and fulfil. They should in no wise allow their fancy to obscure their judgment, neither should they regard their own imaginings as the voice of the Eternal.' (G 337) and 'The station of absolute self-surrender transcendeth, and will ever remain exalted above, every other station. It behoveth thee to consecrate thyself to the Will of God. Whatsoever hath been revealed in His Tablets is but a reflection of His Will. So complete must be thy consecration, that every trace of worldly desire will be washed from thine heart. This is the meaning of true unity.' (G 338) 'My body hath endured imprisonment that ye may be released from the bondage of self' (TB 12)


     27. The term 'partner with God', as it appears here, may be construed as a warning that qualifies the true nature of 'reunion with God'. Elsewhere Bahá'u'lláh writes: 'I bear witness that thou art the One, the Single, the Incomparable, the Ever-Abiding. Thou didst not take unto Thyself a partner in Thy dominion, nor didst Thou choose a peer for Thyself upon earth.' (ESW 3) In the 'Lawh-i-Burhán' (Tablet of the Proof) Bahá'u'lláh addressed the Shaykh whom He had denounced as the 'Wolf': 'Thou hast set aside the commandment of God, and clung unto the promptings of thine own desire.. . 0 thou who hast joined partners with God, and turned aside from His sovereignty that hath encompassed the worlds!' (ESW 82-3; TB 207)

     Many who are of Christian background in the West have not been familiar with the expression 'partner with God'. I do not recall coming across this figure of speech in the Bible, though the thought which 'partner with God' expresses is most surely there; as in the

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second commandment: 'Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.' (KJV Exodus 20:3) It does appear in the Qur'án a number of times, as a metaphorical term. The sixth Súrih, for instance, contains verses which are related to 'partner with God' and cast light on its meaning. (See Q 6:22-4, 41, 63-4, 78-81, 94, 101, 106-7, 121, 137-8, 149, 152, 162.)*

     The Báb writes: 'Say, the power of God is in the hearts of those who believe in the unity of God and bear witness that no God is there but Him, while the hearts of them that associate partners with God are impotent, devoid of life on this earth, for assuredly they are dead.' (SWB 153)

     Bahá'u'lláh writes: 'Beware, beware, lest thou be led to join partners with the Lord, thy God. He is, and hath from everlasting been, one and alone, without peer or equal, eternal in the past, eternal in the future, detached from all things, ever-abiding, unchangeable, and self-subsisting. He hath assigned no associate unto Himself in His Kingdom, no counsellor to counsel Him, none to compare unto Him, none to rival His glory.' (G 192)

     We note that doubts accompany the assumption of partnership with God, and we learn later in the verses what happens to doubters with the coming of the Lord of the Day of the Covenant.


     28. We have been told in the Qur'án: 'Just balances will we set up for the Day of the Resurrection, neither shall any soul be wronged in aught. . .' (Q 21:48) 'The weighing on that day, with justice! And they whose balances shall be heavy, these are they who shall be happy. And they whose balances shall be light, these


     *     See also Balyuzi, H. M. Muhammad and the Course of Islam. Oxford, 1976, p. 228, for mention of Muslim doctrine regarding shirk (joining partners with God).

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are they who have lost their souls, for that to our signs they were unjust.' (Q 7:7-8)

     The Báb announced: 'The Bayán shall constitute God's unerring balance till the Day of Resurrection which is the Day of Him Whom God will make manifest.' (SB 102) 'All men have proceeded from God and unto Him shall all return. All shall appear before Him for judgement. He is the Lord of the Day of Resurrection, of Regeneration and of Reckoning, and His revealed Word is the Balance.' (SB 157)

     Bahá'u'lláh proclaims: 'By Him Who is the Great Announcement! The All-Merciful is come invested with undoubted sovereignty. The Balance hath been appointed, and all them that dwell on earth have been gathered together.' (G 40) In the Kitáb-i-Aqdas He writes: 'Weigh not the Book of God with such standards and sciences as are current amongst you, for the Book itself is the unerring balance established amongst men. In this most perfect balance whatsoever the peoples and kindreds of the earth possess must be weighed, while the measure of its weight should be tested according to its own standard, did ye but know it.' (G 198; ESW 128; SCKA 22)

     In other passages Bahá'u'lláh refers to the Balance as:the infallible Balance which the Hand of God is holding, in which all who are in the heavens and all who are on the earth are weighed, and their fate determined.. . Through it the poor have been enriched, the learned enlightened, and the seekers enabled to ascend unto the presence of God.' (G 136-7; SCKA 28) '. .the just Balance that ye possess, the Balance of the testimony of the Prophets and Messengers of God. . It is indeed the sign of God that hath been sent down through the power of truth, through which the validity of His Cause hath been demonstrated unto His

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creatures, and the ensigns of purity lifted up betwixt earth and heaven.' (G 281) 'In this Day the Straight Path is made manifest, the Balance of divine justice is set and the light of the sun of His bounty is resplendent. . .' (TB 255)'. . . by Thy Most Great Name, Whom Thou hast appointed as the unerring Balance among the nations. . .' (PM 100)


     29. The questioners have made a statement: 'We see not the Balance.' The response is: 'None can see it except such as are endued with insight.' The implication is that the questioners lack insight, an impression confirmed later in the verses by descriptions such as 'heedless', 'blind', 'they that have gone astray', 'While ye lay in the graves of waywardness and error.'

     Insight involves seeing inwardly, both from within the one who sees, and into whatever is seen. Lack of insight brings crises on mankind at the Day of Resurrection. Bahá'u'lláh Himself writes: 'This humble servant is filled with wonder, inasmuch as all men are endowed with the capacity to see and hear, yet we find them deprived of the privilege of using these faculties

     The winds of despair are, alas, blowing from every direction, and the strife that divideth and afflicteth the human race is daily increasing. . .I beseech God, exalted be His glory, that He may graciously awaken the peoples of the earth. . .' (TB 171-2)

     Bahá'u'lláh has told us that, however men may lack insight, they are not lacking in capacity for insight. He writes: 'He hath endowed every soul with the capacity to recognize the signs of God.' (G 105-6) 'Behold how the generality of mankind hath been endued with the capacity to hearken unto God's most exalted Word — the Word upon which must depend the gathering

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together and spiritual resurrection of all men.' (G 97; TB 89) 'I testify that if Thy servants were to turn towards Thee with the eyes Thou didst create in them and with the ears wherewith Thou didst endow them, they would all be carried away by a single word sent down from the right hand of the throne of Thy majesty.' (PM 190-1)

     It follows from these statements that man's lack of insight is of man's making. The degree to which he fulfils his capacity for insight is conditioned by his own intent and endeavour, It has to be the concern of each individual. Bahá'u'lláh exhorts and encourages us:'God grant that, with a penetrating vision, thou mayest perceive. . .' (G 191) '. . .be thou of them who are sharp-sighted, who scan heedfully. . . Sharp must be thy sight. . .' (G 245) 'Open your eyes that ye may behold the Ancient Beauty. . .' (TB 182) '. . .with your inner and outer eyes contemplate the evidences of My marvelous Revelation. . .' (G 325) 'Open ye your eyes, and consider His clear evidence.' (G 45) 'Observe thou with a keen eye.' (ESW 119)

     Bahá'u'lláh refers in His Writings to both 'sight' and 'insight', and to the 'inner' and 'outer ear'. He includes the heart as one of the senses: 'The senses of hearing, of the heart, and the like, are similarly to be reckoned among the gifts with which the human body is endowed.' (G 194) Each of us has been given the responsibility and opportunity to keep his own receptive apparatus tuned up.

     'Abdu'l-Bahá is quoted as saying: '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.' (J. E. Esslemont, Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era, Wilmette 1976, p. 100)

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     'Blessed are the men of insight; blessed they that attain thereunto.' (ESW 142)


     30. In describing the Day of God, Jesus foretold that:'Immediately after the oppression of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven. . .' (KJV Matthew 24:29; quoted KI 24, 33, 41) Muhammad described the Day when, along with other extraordinary happenings: 'the sun shall be folded up, and.the stars shall fall. . .' (Q 81:1-2)

     Stars did fall, quite literally, and were seen in the skies during the early hours of the morning of 14 November 1866. Bahá'u'lláh was then a prisoner of the Turkish Empire, exiled in Adrianople. A tremendous star fall was reported in letters from eyewitnesses published in The Times of London. Observers counted thousands of meteors during several hours. (For a description see Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, Oxford: George Ronald, 1977, Vol. 2, pp. 270-2 and Appendix I which contains the letters to The Times.) Thus we have eye-witness accounts of the falling of stars that occurred in the visible universe while Bahá'u'lláh was in Adrianople.

     Bahá'u'lláh tells us that such a happening is also to be understood as symbolic of other events associated with the coming of the Manifestation. The stars that fall, as mentioned in the Gospel, the Qur'án and the Kitáb-i-Íqán have been given two symbolic meanings. Bahá'u'lláh describes one as: '...the divines of the former Dispensation, who live in the days of the subsequent Revelations, and who hold the reins of religion in their grasp. If these divines be illumined by the light of the latter Revelation they will be acceptable unto God, and will shine with a light everlasting. Otherwise, they will

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be declared as darkened...' (KI 36)

     'In another sense,' Bahá'u'lláh continues, 'by the terms "sun", "moon", and "stars" are meant such laws and teachings as have been established and proclaimed in every Dispensation, such as the laws of prayer and fasting.' (KI 38) 'Hence, it is clear and manifest that by the words "the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven" is intended the waywardness of the divines, and the annulment of laws firmly established by divine Revelation, all of which, in symbolic language, have been foreshadowed by the Manifestation of God.' (KI 41)

     We yield to the temptation to end this note not with mention of stars that have fallen, but with remembrance of the Day Star that has risen: The Day Star of Divine Revelation, that shineth in the plenitude of its glory in the heaven of this Prison. . .' (G 200) and to recall the words: 'The Day Star of His great glory hath shed its radiance upon you, and the clouds of His limitless grace have overshadowed you. How high the reward of him that hath not deprived himself of so great a bounty, nor failed to recognize the beauty of his Best—Beloved in this, His new attire.' (G 94)


     31. In an introductory note to the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, Marzieh Gail writes: 'Adrianople ...is in Arabic Adirnih [Edirne]. Every letter of the Arabic alphabet has a numerical value, and according to this (abjad) reckoning the words Adirnih and Mystery (sirr) are equivalent, the Arabic letters composing each totaling 260.' (ESW xvi)

     The following words of Bahá'u'lláh are cited by Shoghi Effendi: ". . .The day is approaching when the Land of Mystery (Adrianople) and what is beside it

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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 at the hands of the hosts of oppression. The course of things shall be altered, and conditions shall wax so grievous, that the very sands 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."' (WOB 178) In the paragraphs surrounding this passage, the Guardian elucidates the events of history that have followed this prophetic statement of Bahá'u'lláh. (WOB 172-9)


     32. Bahá'u'lláh has earlier mentioned 'such as are endued with insight' (note 29), and now he singles out 'those endued with discernment'. The word 'discern' comes from the Latin discernere, meaning to distinguish, to recognize as separate, to discriminate. Discernment involves the consciously directed use of one's faculties towards a particular end.

     Within the passage (KI 192-200 and G 264-70) which describes 'a true seeker' who 'determines to take the step of search in the path leading to the knowledge of the Ancient of Days...' Bahá'u'lláh writes: 'So great shall be the discernment of this seeker that he will discriminate between truth and falsehood even as he doth distinguish the sun from shadow. If in the uttermost corners of the East the sweet savours of God be wafted, he will assuredly recognize and inhale their fragrance, even though he be dwelling in the uttermost ends of the West. He will likewise clearly distinguish all the signs of God — His wondrous utterances, His great works, and mighty deeds — from the doings,

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words and ways of men, even as the jeweler who knoweth the gem from the stone, or the man who distinguisheth the spring from autumn and heat from cold. When the channel of the human soul is cleansed of all worldly and impeding attachments, it will unfaillingly perceive the breath of the Beloved across immeasurable distances, and will, led by its perfume, attain and enter the City of Certitude. Therein he will discern the wonders of His ancient wisdom, and will perceive all the hidden teachings from the rustling leaves of the Tree — which flourisheth in that City. With both his inner and his outer ear he will hear from its dust the hymns of glory and praise ascending unto the Lord of Lords, and with his inner eye will he discover the mysteries of "return" and "revival".' (KI 197-8 and G 268-9)

     In the full passage surrounding the verses above Bahá'u'lláh describes the prerequisites to the attainment of discernment and the bounties awaiting the discerning.


     33. The drawing forth of the Hand of Power marks a moment at which the Manifestation of God has become supremely manifest. It is a signal that all the signs of His coming have appeared. (For an elucidation of the signs of the coming of Bahá'u'lláh, see 'Abdu'l-Bahá's words, already cited here in Note 20: SAB 13-17, section four.)

     We read in the Torah of the Lord's command to Moses to twice put his hand in His bosom and to twice draw it forth. (KJV Exodus 4:6-7) Following the account of this happening, we are told of the power that the Lord thereby imparted to the hand of Moses. (KJV Exodus 9:22; 10:12,22; 14:16,27; 17:11) This happening is further described in the Qur'án. (See, for

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example, Q 7:105; 20:23; 26:32; 27:12; 28:32.) Bahá'u'lláh quotes a tradition which says: 'The Qá'im will lean His back against the Sanctuary, and will stretch forth His hand, and lo, it shall be snow-white but unhurt. And He shall say: "This is the hand of God, the right hand of God, that cometh from God, at the command of God!"' (ESW 112) The Báb is the promised Qá'im. (GPB 4)

     The oneness and continuity of Revelation are thus expressed through this act of drawing forth the Hand of Power, as attributed to Moses in the Torah and the Qur'án, as foretold for the Báb in the above tradition, and now, in these perspicuous verses, ascribed to Bahá'u'lláh Himself. Elsewhere, Bahá'u'lláh writes:'Say: The Revelation sent down by God hath most surely been repeated, and the outstretched Hand of Our power hath overshadowed all that are in the heavens and all that are on the earth.' (G 282)


     34. The Crier, a title descriptive of the Manifestation, is no longer a familiar term in western society; the town crier having been supplanted by the mass media as the customary source of news, announcements, hours of the day, etc.

     The Qur'án contains the prophetic admonition to hearken unto the day whereon the crier shall call men to judgment from a near place: the day whereon they shall hear the voice of the trumpet...' (Q 50:40; Sale's translation) Bahá'u'lláh writes: 'Say, did ye not hearken to the Voice of the Crier, calling aloud in the wilderness of the Bayán, bearing unto you the glad tidings of the coming of your Lord, the All-Merciful?' (TB 12) He recalls: '...the Day when the immortal Being mounted His throne and the Crier raised His Voice

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from the haven of security and peace in the holy Vale.'(TB 103)


     35. The promised time is the Day of the Promised One. 'Abdu'l-Bahá tells us: 'When delivering the glad tidings, speak out and say: the Promised One of all the world's peoples hath now been made manifest. For each and every people, and every religion, await a Promised One, and Bahá'u'lláh is that One Who is awaited by all. . .' (SAB 101)


     36.     Words and terms associated with Revelation carry on through succeeding Dispensations; even as Revelation is of itself continuing, progressing, unfolding. 'This is the changeless Faith of God, eternal in the past, eternal in the future.' (G 136) Just as the Hand of power evinces the majesty and might of the Manifestation throughout ages past and present; and just as the Crier is, throughout time, synonymous with the Bearer of the message of God; so has Sinai entered man s conciousness as the place or circumstances where the light of Revelation has broken and now breaks. A sensing of the splendours of Sinai tells us that we are in the presence of the revealed Word of God.

     Bahá'u'lláh writes: 'Verily He Whose knowledge nothing escapeth hath appeared. . .Through Him.every indolent one hath rushed forth to attain the Sinai of assurance.' (TB 103) He further associates Sinai with His Own Revelation: '. . .hasten to embrace the light of the undying Fire that gloweth on the Sinai of this mysterious and transcendent Revelation.' (G 325) 'The episode of Sinai hath been re-enacted in this Revelation and He Who conversed upon the Mount is calling aloud:

     Verily, the Desired One is come, seated upon the throne of certitude, could ye but perceive it.' (TB 248)

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     'Abdu'l-Bahá indicates the timelessness of what happened on Sinai: 'Consider Moses, He Who conversed with God. Verily, upon Mount Sinai, Moses entered into a Covenant regarding the Messiah, with all those souls who would live in the day of the Messiah. And those souls, although they appeared many centuries after Moses, were nevertheless — so far as the Covenant, which is outside time, was concerned — present there with Moses.' (SAB 207)


     37. Recognition of the splendours of Sinai can be a shaking, even shattering experience as evidenced by the statement here that'. . .they that have recognized the splendors of Sinai have swooned away in the wilderness of hesitation. . .' We can only be thankful that beyond the wilderness of hesitation lies the horizon of Certitude. Elsewhere, Bahá'u'lláh says: 'We have, through the power of truth, the very truth, manifested an infinitesimal glimmer of Our impenetrable Mystery, and lo, they that have recognized the radiance of the Sinaic splendor expired, as they caught a lightening glimpse of this Crimson Light enveloping the Sinai of Our Revelation.' (G 282)


     38. See note 16 for mention of the two blasts of the trumpet, announcing the coming of the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh. Here one of the sounds is described as that of the Bugle. 'Abdu'l-Bahá writes: 'The Bugle hath sounded, the Trumpet hath been blown, the Crier hath raised his call, and all upon the earth have swooned away — but still do the dead, in the tombs of their bodies, sleep on.' (SAB 13)


     39.     Darkness, as the absence of light, is an atmosphere of not knowing, a condition without knowledge of the

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Creator and His handiwork. It may also be thought of as an atmosphere of pollution, produced when man pours forth noxious substances such as 'vague fancies', 'vain imaginings', 'hatred', 'ignorance', 'superstition' and 'the treacherous hand of self'.

     An interplay of darkness and light has continued throughout the age-old drama of Revelation. The Qur'án tells us: 'Of old did We send Moses with Our signs, and said to Him: "Bring forth Thy people from the darkness into the light and remind them of the Days of God."' (Q 14:5; see also TB 115 and 259) Again, we read in the Qur'án: 'This Book have we sent down to Thee that by their Lord's permission Thou mayest bring men out of darkness into light, into the path of the Mighty, the Glorious.' (Q 14:1) Isaiah foretold the appearance of light out of darkness, at the coming of the Glory of the Lord, whom we recognize as Bahá'u'lláh: 'Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the Glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people, but the Lord shall arise upon thee and His glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to Thy light, and kings to the brightness of Thy rising.' (KJV Isaiah 60:1-3)

     The words: 'Darkness hath been chased away' convey a delightful sense of effortless ease. They bring to mind words from the Qur'án such as: 'This indeed would not be hard for God.' (ESW 19 and see Q 14:23) and 'He doeth whatsoever He willeth.' (ESW I and see Q 22:14) The appearance, at the coming of the Manifestation, of 'The light that is shed from the heaven of bounty. . .' (ESW 1) is, of itself, a gentle, pervasive, joyful happening. The mood is expressed by the words of a prayer that Bahá'u'lláh has given us: 'Let Thine everlasting melodies breathe tranquillity upon me.

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and '. . .let the tidings of the revelation of Thine incorruptible Essence bring me joy. . .' (PM 248) The tranquillity and joy that characterize the coming of the Manifestation, and the turmoil concurrent with His comming, constitute a paradox that is resolved when we recognize that the turmoil is not inherent in His coming, but is a human condition, brought about by man's blindness and rejection. Bahá'u'lláh tells us that: 'In this Day the Straight Path is made manifest, the Balance of divine justice is set and the light of the sun of His bounty is resplendent, yet the oppressive darkness of the people of tyranny hath, even as clouds, intervened and caused a grievous obstruction between the Day-Star of heavenly grace and the people of the world. Blessed is he who hath rent the intervening veils asunder and is illumined by the radiant light of divine Revelation. Consider how numerous were those who accounted themselves among the wise and the learned, yet in the Day of God were deprived of the outpourings of heavenly bounties.' (TB 255-6) Bahá'u'lláh expresses the hope'. . .that perchance the splendors of the Day-Star of truthfulness and sincerity may shine forth, and may deliver thee from the darkness of ignorance, and illumine the world with the light of knowledge.' (ESW 11) And Bahá'u'lláh directs us to:'Lift up the veil that obscureth your vision, and dispel the darkness with which it is enveloped, that ye may gaze on the naked beauty of the Beloved's face, may behold that which no eye hath beheld, and hear that which no ear hath heard.' (G 320)


     40. Revelation comes to mankind as with the gentle wafting of a breeze. It caresses and refreshes, heals and gladdens. Bahá'u'lláh writes of: 'the murmur of the breezes of Thine utterance' (PM 291); 'the musk-laden

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breeze of eternity' (KI 122); 'the breeze that bloweth from the meads of the good-pleasure of God' (KI 134). He revealed a prayer with the words: '. . .by the breezes of Thine eternity gladden me, 0 Thou Who art my God!' (PM 248) And in other prayers: 'At all times and under all conditions I have wafted, in every direction, the breezes of Thine inspiration, and shed abroad the sweet smell of the raiment of Thy mercy, that haply Thy servants may discover its fragrance, and through it be enabled to turn towards Thee.' (PM 203) And:'. . .a single breath from the breezes of the Day of Thy Revelation is enough to adorn all mankind with a fresh attire.' (ESW 10; PM 252)

     And yet, the world about us is such as to have evoked from Bahá'u'lláh the question: 'How long will humanity persist in its waywardness? How long will injustice continue? How long is chaos and confusion to reign amongst men, How long will discord agitate the face of society? The winds of despair are, alas, blowing from every direction, and the strife that divides and afflicts the human race is daily increasing. The signs of impending convulsions and chaos can now be discerned, inasmuch as the prevailing order appears to be lamentably defective.' (Cited WOB 32)

     The polarization of the tranquillity that comes with the 'breezes of Thine eternity', and the 'chaos and convulsion' marked by 'the winds of despair', is at the heart of what the Guardian describes as 'this greatest drama of the world's spiritual history'. (WOB 26) It is a drama in which we, the 'generation of the half-light' (WOB 168), are on stage. It is a drama whose salient points are set forth in 'these perspicuous verses

     'The whole earth,' writes Bahá'u'lláh, 'is now in a state of pregnancy. The day is approaching when it will have yielded its noblest fruits, when from it will

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have sprung forth the loftiest trees, the most enchanting blossoms, the most heavenly blessings. Immeasurably exalted is the breeze that wafteth from the garment of thy Lord, the Glorified! For lo, it hath breathed its fragrance and made all things new! Well is it with them that comprehend.' (WOB 169; PDC 3-4, in part)


     41. Bahá'u'lláh reminds us that: 'The breezes of Revelation can never be confounded with other breezes.' (ESW 114) Their incomparable power, beyond that of the most mighty gales of nature, is evidenced by their capacity to quicken souls, to bring them life. Bahá'u'lláh writes: 'Thou art well aware, 0 my God, that I have not failed in my duty towards Thy Cause. At all times and under all conditions I have wafted, in every direction, the breezes of Thine inspiration, and shed abroad the sweet smell of the raiment of Thy mercy, that haply Thy servants may discover its fragrance, and through it be enabled to turn towards Thee.' (PM 203) And: 'The breezes of the Most Merciful have passed over all created things; happy the man that hath discovered their fragrance, and set himself towards them with a sound heart.' (ESW 48) And: 'Only when the lamp of search, of earnest striving, of longing desire, of passionate devotion, of fervid love, of rapture, and ecstasy, is kindled within the seeker's heart, and the breeze of His loving-kindness is wafted upon his soul, will the darkness of error be dispelled, the mists of doubts and misgivings be dissipated, and the lights of knowledge and certitude envelop his being. At that hour will the Mystic Herald, bearing the joyful tidings of the Spirit, shine forth from the City of God resplendent as the morn, and through the trumpet-blast of knowledge, will awaken the heart, the soul, and the spirit from the slumber of heedlessness. Then

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will the manifold favors and outpouring grace of the holy and everlasting Spirit confer such new life upon the seeker that he will find himself endowed with a new eye, a new ear, a new heart, and a new mind.' (KI 195-6; G 267)


     42. The nature of divine decree is indicated by passages in the Scriptures such as: 'Sole Maker of the heavens and of the earth! And when He decreeth a thing, He only saith to it: "Be," and it is.' (Q 2:111) and:'. . .Thou didst, through a word of Thy mouth, bring creation into being and fashion the universe.' (PM 6; BP 56) And: '0 people of God! In this day everyone should fix his eyes upon the horizon of these blessed words: "Alone and unaided He doeth whatsoever He pleaseth." Whoso attaineth this station hath verily attained the light of the essential unity of God and is enlightened thereby, while all others are reckconed in the Book of God among the followers of idle fancy and vain imagination.' (TB 96)


     43. The next question, submitted by 'they that have gone astray',* was presumably suggested by prophecies in the Qur'án, concerning a cleaving of the heavens, such as: 'On that Day shall the heaven with its clouds be cleft. . .' (Q 25:27) and:'. . .on that Day the inevitable hour of judgment shall suddenly come; and the heavens shall cleave in sunder, and shall fall in pieces, on that Day. . .' (Q 69:16, Sale's translation) and: 'When the heaven shall cleave asunder. . .' (Q 82:1) (See also Q 84:1; 77:9; 55:37.)

     Bahá'u'lláh interprets the meaning of the 'cleaving of the heaven' as 'one of the signs that must needs


     *     In the verses as they appear in the 'Ishráqát', the questioners are referred to as: 'They who reject the truth.' (TB 119)

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herald the coming of the last Hour, the Day of Resurrection.' (KI 44) He tells us that: 'By "heaven" is meant the heaven of divine Revelation, which is elevated with every Manifestation, and rent asunder with every subsequent one. By "cloven asunder" is meant that the former Dispensation is superseded and annulled.' (KI 44) He further tells us: 'That this heaven being cloven asunder is, to the discerning, an act mightier than the cleaving of the skies!' (KI 44) He then describes ways in which the former Dispensation had been securely established, and asks: 'What act is mightier than that such a Revelation should, by the power of God, be "cloven asunder" and be abolished at the appearance of one soul? Reflect, is this a mightier act than that which these abject and foolish men have imagined the "cleaving of the heaven" to mean?' (KI 45)

     In the seventeenth section of Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, which in some ways parallels and is wonderfully consonant with 'these perspicuous verses', we read: 'Say: Whether ye rejoice or whether ye burst for fury, the heavens are cleft asunder, and God hath come down, invested with radiant sovereignty.'(G 42)

     Thus we have Muhammad's prophetic words foretelling the cleaving of the heavens on the Day that was to come; and we have Bahá'u'lláh's elucidation of the meaning and import of that event which has now occurred.


     44. It is indicated here that the 'grave' has a wider meaning than is generally recognized. Bahá'u'lláh writes that: 'By the terms "life" and "death", spoken of in the scriptures, is intended the life of faith and the death of unbelief.' (KI 114) And:'. . .true life is not the life of the flesh but the life of the spirit. For the life of

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the flesh is common to both men and animals, whereas the life of the spirit is possessed only by the pure in heart who have quaffed from the ocean of faith and partaken of the fruit of certitude. This life knoweth no death, and this existence is crowned by immortality.'(KI 120)

     Those words of Bahá'u'lláh follow a story about two men of Muhammad's day who asked 'Alí, the Commander of the Faithful, to witness the writing of a contract for the sale and purchase of a house. 'All told the scribe to write: 'A dead man hath bought from another dead man a house.' Then 'Ali explained why. Bahá'u'lláh's comments: 'Reflect, had these two souls been quickened by the trumpet-call of 'Ali, had they risen from the grave of error by the power of his love, the judgment of death would certainly not have been pronounced against them.' (KI 119-20)

     Bahá'u'lláh repeats a verse from the Qur'án about two other men, one of whom accepted and followed the message of Muhammad and one who bitterly opposed it: 'Shall the dead, whom We have quickened and for whom We have ordained a light whereby he may walk among men, be like him, whose likeness is in the darkness, whence he will not come forth?' (Q 6:122, cited in KI 121)

     To one of His disciples who wanted to attend a funeral, Jesus answered: 'Follow Me, and let the dead bury their dead.' (KJV Matthew 8:22) He told the scribes and Pharisees that they were 'like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones. . .' (KJV Matthew 23:27)

     A sentence from a prayer revealed for us by Bahá'u'lláh reads: 'I bear witness, 0 my God, that through a word spoken by Thee in this Revelation all created

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things were made to expire, and through yet another word all such as Thou didst wish were, by Thy grace and bounty, endued with a new life.' (PM 42)


     45. In the Long Obligatory Prayer there is the entreaty:'. . .that I may gaze on Thy beauty and observe whatsoever is in Thy Book,' and the words:'. . .my heedlessness hath destroyed me.' (PM 322) We are warned of heedlessness as the antithesis of awareness:'Consider the multitude of souls who seemed to be intensely eager and athirst, yet when the Ocean of living waters did surge forth in the world of being, they remained deprived thereof, inasmuch as they failed to relinquish idle fancy and to become consciously aware of Him Who is the Object of all knowledge.' (TB 235) A roving eye only leads to aimless wandering whether in the realm of nature or of the spirit. The statement here that: 'Among the heedless* is he who rubbeth his eyes, and looketh to the right and to the left,' surely indicates unawareness and failure to heed the admonition: 'With fixed and steady gaze, born of the unerring eye of God, scan for a while the horizon of divine knowledge, and contemplate those words of perfection which the Eternal hath revealed, that haply the mysteries of divine wisdom, hidden ere now beneath the veil of glory and treasured within the tabernacle of His grace, may be made manifest unto you.' (KI 16-17)


     46. Mankind has repeatedly been warned of the blindness that can fall on the inward eye. Jesus, referring to the Pharisees, said: 'Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.' (KJV Matthew 15:14) He


     *     In the 'Ishráqát', for 'heedless' read 'faithless'.

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addressed the scribes and Pharisees as: 'Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.' (KJV Matthew 23:24) The people of the Qur'án were told: 'On that day they shall be too blinded with confusion to give an account, nor shall they ask it of one another. Yet as to him who shall turn to God and believe and do the thing that is right, it may come to that he shall be among the happy.' (Q 28:66-7) were asked: 'Have they not journeyed through the land? Have they not hearts to understand with, or ears to hear with?' and they were reminded that: 'It is not that to these sights their eyes are blind, but the hearts in their breasts are blind!' (Q 22:45)

     We have Bahá'u'lláh's lament: 'Say: "The True One is come evident as the shining sun; 0 pity that He should have come into the city of the blind!"' (ESW 161) We have His observation: 'So blind hath become the human heart that neither the disruption of the city, nor the reduction of the mountain in dust, nor even the cleaving of the earth, can shake off its torpor.' (G 39)

     But not all men are blind to the coming of the Manifestation. Isaiah foretold that at the coming of the Lord of Hosts'. . .the eyes of them that see shall not be dim.' (KJV Isaiah 32:3 and see also 35:5) And Jesus said:'Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God.' (KJV Matthew 5:8) Muhammad asked: 'Shall the blind and the seeing be held equal?. . .Shall then he who knoweth that what hath been sent down to thee from thy Lord is the truth, act like him who is blind?' (Q 13:17,19) Surely the lives of the followers of the Báb and of Bahá'u'lláh provide sufficient evidence of their insight.

     We have Bahá'u'lláh's expression of direction and expectation for man in the development of perceptive faculties: 'The All-Merciful hath conferred upon man

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the faculty of vision, and endowed him with the power of hearing. . .The potentialities inherent in the station of man, the full measure of his destiny on earth, the innate excellence of his reality, must all be manifested in this promised Day of God.' (G 340) 'Sharp must be thy sight, 0 Dhabíh. . .' are His words. (G 245)


     47. Muhammad foretold that: 'On that Day man shall cry, "Where is there a place to flee to?"' and He warned: 'But in vain; there is no refuge; with thy Lord on that Day shall be the sole asylum.' (Q 75:10-12) Bahá'u'lláh tells us that: '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.' (G 203; WOB 163) He also wrote: 'Say: There is no place of refuge for you, no asylum to which ye can flee, no one to defend or to protect you in this Day from the fury of the wrath of God and from His vehement power, unless and until ye seek the shadow of His Revelation.' (G 257) These passages make clear the distinction between a refuge where we might seek to escape and hide out, and the one refuge which alone offers 'the Haven of abiding security'. (G 145)


     48. It seems reasonable to assume a relationship between the question, 'Have men been gathered together?' and prophetic statements in the Qur'án such as: 'On that Day will We gather them all together,' (Q 10:29) and 'He will surely assemble you on the Resurrection Day; there is no doubt of it.' (Q 6:12) (See also Q 3:7,24; 10:46; 11:105; 15:25; 18:45,99; 25:18; 27:85; 34:25, 39; 40:3; 42:5; 46:5; 64:9). Bahá'u'lláh repeats still another verse from the Qur'án: 'The Day when mankind shall stand before the Lord of the worlds.'

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(Q 83:6, quoted in ESW 114, 117 and TB 115) Bahá'u'lláh Himself writes: 'Say: He Who is the Unconditioned is come, in the clouds of light, that He may quicken all created things with the breezes of His Name, the Most Merciful, and unify the world, and gather all men around this Table which hath been sent down from heaven.' (ESW 46; PB 17) We note that the 'Table' has appeared, as a point of gathering, in earlier Revelation. Muhammad quotes Jesus, in the Qur'án: 'Jesus, Son of Mary, said: "0 God, our Lord! send down a Table to us out of heaven, that it may become a recurring festival to us. . ." and God said: "Verily, I will cause it to descend unto you. . ."' (Q 5:114-15)


     49. The answer, 'Yea, by my Lord!' is certainly clear. The questioner is described as 'in the cradle of idle fancies', the 'cradle' carrying an implication of immaturity that is hardly in tune with Bahá'u'lláh's message that mankind has now passed beyond the spiritual capacity of earlier days and entered the stage of maturity.

     In his letter entitled 'The Unfoldment of World Civilization' the Guardian describes the stage of maturity at which mankind has now arrived. He writes: 'The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, whose supreme mission is none other but the achievement of this organic and spiritual unity of the whole body of nations, should, if we be faithful to its implications, be regarded as signalizing through its advent the coming of age of the entire human race.' (WOB 163; the italics are Shoghi Effendi's) Shoghi Effendi also writes: 'The Revelation entrusted by the Almighty Ordainer to Bahá'u'lláh, His followers firmly believe, has been endowed with such potentialities as are commensurate with the maturity of the human race - the crowning and most

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momentous stage in its evolution from infancy to manhood.' (WOB 166)

     The Guardian quotes a passage from Bahá'u'lláh which includes the sentence: 'No sooner had mankind attained the stage of maturity, than the Word revealed to men's eyes the latent energies with which it had been endowed — energies which manifested themselves in the plenitude of their glory when the Ancient Beauty appeared, in the year sixty, in the person of 'Alí— Muhammad, the Báb.' (WOB 164)

     The Guardian also quotes words of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, which compare the stages in the collective life of humanity with stages in the life of a tree or animal, and include the statement that: 'Man must now become imbued with new virtues and powers, new moral standards, new capacities. New bounties, perfect bestowals, are awaiting and already descending upon him. The gifts and blessings of the period of youth, although timely and sufficient during the adolescence of mankind, are now incapable of meeting the requirements of its maturity.' (WOB 165)

     The passages that have been quoted in this note are from 'The Unfoldment of World Civilization' where they appear under the heading 'Humanity's Coming of Age' and in paragraphs that follow, and where they may be studied in context. (WOB 163-6)

     It is of course not true that with 'the coming of age of the entire human race' all mankind automatically attains maturity. Bahá'u'lláh writes: 'Leave ye unto themselves the immature ones of the world — they that are moved by selfish desire and cling to the exponents of idle fancy.' (TB 80) He tells us that: 'The immature wish to put out the light of God with their mouths and to extinguish by their acts the flame in the Burning Bush.' (TB 244) He reminds us that: 'The generality of

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mankind is still immature.' He then tells us what might have happened had it been otherwise. (WOB 104) This, the time of 'humanity's coming of age', offers matchless opportunity for the development of the individual. Is not man's own pursuit of maturity, within the 'new bounties, perfect bestowals' that have descended upon him, a matter of individual concern, opportunity and responsibility? 'Regard not the children of the world and all their doings', Bahá'u'lláh directs us, 'but fix thy gaze upon God and His never-ending dominion. Verily, He calleth to thy remembrance that which is the source of delight for all mankind. Drink thou the life-giving water of blissful joy from the chalice of utterance proffered by the Fountainhead of divine Revelation — He Who hath made mention of thee in this mighty stronghold. Endeavour to the utmost of thy powers to establish the word of truth with eloquence and wisdom and to dispel falsehood from the face of the earth. Thus directeth thee the Dayspring of divine knowledge from this luminous horizon.' (TB 139)


     50.     In the Islamic dispensation, a Messenger of God whether of the past or present was regarded as virtually one with His Book. Consequently, the inquiry 'Hath the Book been sent down?' is understandable in the light of an assumption that where there is a Messenger there must be a Book. Muhammad recognized this relationship when He referred to the followers of Moses and of Jesus as 'people of the Book'. (Q 3:63,64,94, cited KI 16) Thus He distinguished Jews and Christians from worshippers of idols around Him. We read in the Qur'án: 'Apostles truly have We already sent before thee. . .' And: 'To each age its Book.' (Q 13:38) And: 'Then gave We the Book to Moses —

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complete for him who should do right, and a decision for all matters, and a guidance, and a mercy, that they might believe in the Presence of their Lord.' (Q 6:155; cited ESW 117)

     Muhammad said of His own Book, the Qur'án: 'And now have We brought them the Book; with knowledge have We explained it; a guidance and a mercy to them that believe. What have they to wait for now but its interpretation? When its interpretation shall come, they who aforetime were oblivious of it shall say, "The Prophets of our Lord did indeed bring the truth. . ."' (Q 7:50-1)

     Do we not find this interpretation in the Kitáb-i-Íqán of Bahá'u'lláh? Of the Kitáb-i-Íqán the Guardian writes that: 'it proffered to mankind the "Choice Sealed Wine", whose seal is of "musk", and broke the "seals" of the "Book" referred to by Daniel, and disclosed the meaning of the "words" destined to remain "closed up" till the "time of the end".' (GPB 139)

     In a prophetic passage, describing the time 'when the stars shall fall, and when the mountains shall be set in motion,' Muhammad foretells the Day'. . .when the leaves of the Book shall be unrolled.' (Q 81:2-3,10) We understand the 'Book' of Bahá'u'lláh to be the entirety of no less than a hundred volumes that flowed from His Pen.

     In the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf Bahá'u'lláh writes of His own Book: '0 Shaykh! We have enabled thee to hear the melodies of the Nightingale of Paradise, and unveiled to thine eyes the signs which God, by His all-compelling behest, hath sent down in the Most Great Prison, that thine eye might be cheered, and thy soul be well-assured. He, verily, is the All-Bounteous, the Generous. Arise thou through the power of His testimony to serve the Cause of God, thy Lord, the

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God of Mercy. If thy faith be fearful, seize thou My Tablet, and preserve it in the bosom of trust. And when thou enterest into the place of resurrection, and God asketh thee by what proof thou hast believed in this Revelation, draw forth the Tablet and say: "By this Book, the holy, the mighty, the incomparable." Thereupon all will lift up their hands towards thee, and will seize the Tablet, and will press it to their eyes, and will inhale therefrom the fragrance of the utterance of God, the Lord of the worlds.' (ESW 103-4)


     51. The statement that 'The true Faith itself is astounded' is one of a number of passages in the Scriptures where concepts, qualities, objects or places are personified; that is, they are given an image of human characteristics. Among other occurrences of this symbolic form of expression are the following: '. . .the Hour itself is seized with perturbation. . .the Book solemnly testifieth to His glory and the Balance is moved to uplift its voice. This is the Day wherein the Sirát calleth aloud: "I am the straight Path," and Mount Sinai exclaimeth: "Verily the Lord of Revelation is come."' (TB 237) and 'Behold ye My beauty, and My radiance, and My revelation, and My effulgence. By God, the True One! I am Trustworthiness and the revelation thereof and the beauty thereof.' (ESW 136; TB 122) Further instances of such personification are: '. . .the Word which the Burning Bush had uttered. . .' (ESW 41); 'The trumpet asketh. . .' (ESW 133; TB 118);'. . .the shrill cry of the Pen of Glory. . .' (TB 247);. . .this great Announcement before which, as soon as it shone forth, every momentous announcement bowed low in adoration.' (TB 248); 'Verily this is the Day in which both land and sea rejoice at this announcement. . .' (G 16; TB 5); and

     
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again: 'Thereupon hath the cry and lamentation of the true Faith been raised once again, saying: "Verily, Sinai calleth aloud. . ."' (ESW 86)


     52. The question, 'Have I been assembled with others, blind?' recalls words in the Qur'án which read: 'God said. . . "And whoso turneth away from My remembrance, truly his shall be a life of misery. * And We will assemble him with others on the Day of Resurrection, blind." He will say, "0 my Lord! Why hast thou assembled me with others, blind; whereas I was endowed with sight?" He will answer, "Thus is it, because Our signs came unto thee and thou didst forget them, and thus shalt thou be forgotten this day."' (Q 20:121-6) The reader can refer to passages about the nature of 'signs' in Note 20 above; and concerning blindness of the inward eye in Note 46.

     In another Tablet, Bahá'u'lláh describes the rejection of the signs of God as they were brought by His Messengers. Bahá'u'lláh writes: 'There is none other God but Him. . .Unto the cities of all nations He hath sent His Messengers, Whom He hath commissioned to announce unto men tidings of the Paradise of His good pleasure. . .Some were guided by the Light of God, gained admittance into the court of His presence, and quaffed, from the hand of resignation, the waters of everlasting life, and were accounted of them that have truly recognized and believed in Him. Others rebelled against Him, and rejected the signs of God, the Most Powerful, the Almighty, the All-Wise.' (G 144-5)


     53. Scriptures have long associated clouds with the presence of the Manifestation. We read in the Torah that:'. . .Moses went up into the Mount, and a cloud


     *     Bahá'u'lláh repeats this sentence in KI 257.

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covered the Mount. And the glory of the Lord abode upon Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it. . .And Moses went into the midst of the cloud . . ' (KJV Exodus 24:15,16,18) It is written in the Gospel that while Jesus was with His disciples '. . .there came a cloud and overshadowed them; and they feared as they entered into the cloud. And there came a Voice out of the cloud, saying, "This is My beloved Son; hear Him."' (KJV Luke 9:34-5)

     Daniel foresaw the coming of Bahá'u'lláh as he wrote: 'I saw in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven.' (KJV Daniel 7:13) Jesus said, after describing signs that mark the coming of Bahá'u'lláh: 'And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud, with power and great glory.' (KJV Luke 21:27; see also Mark 13:26) Jesus prophesied that: 'Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.' (KJV Matthew 26:64; and see also Mark 14:62) John wrote in the Revelation: 'Behold, He cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see Him. .(KJV Revelation 1:7) and 'I looked and, behold, a white cloud, and upon the cloud One sat, like unto the Son of man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle.' (KJV Revelation 14:14) We read in the Qur'án, following a reference to those who 'lapse after. . .clear signs have come' the words: 'What can such expect but that God should come down to them overshadowed with clouds. . .?' (Q 2:206; Bahá'u'lláh repeats this verse in ESW 112 and in KI 75 and 144)

     The richly symbolic nature of the 'cloud' as it appears in the Holy Scriptures is indicated by phrases that run through the Word of Bahá'u'lláh, such as:'clouds of light' (ESW 46);'. . .of knowledge' (G 45); 'as liberal in his mercy as the clouds' (G 236); 'clouds of

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revelation' (G 258); 'Thus hath He Who is the Beauty of the All-Merciful come down in the clouds of His testimony. . .' (G 282);'. . .the clouds of Thy never-failing providence rain down their gifts. . .' (G 311);the manifold grace of God, which is being showered from the clouds of Divine glory. . .' (G 320);'.the clouds of My sublime and unsurpassed favors.(G 324); '. . .the clouds of the mercy of the All-Bountiful' (KI 216);'. . .the clouds of Thy generosity' (PDC 36);'. . .the clouds of Thy will. . .' (PM 110);the clouds of Thy tender compassion. . .' (PM 72). Bahá'u'lláh writes, of His own coming, that:. . .the heaven of Divine decree was cleft asunder, and the Beauty of the Báb appeared in the clouds of the names of God, arrayed in a new raiment. . .' (G 147) These 'clouds' are as the gentle clouds of nature that move across tranquil skies, sometimes wispy, sometimes billowing; reflecting and filtering the sun's rays; constantly travelling with freshening breezes; offering shade to the parched; sending rain to the thirsting.

     But all clouds are not like that. There are clouds of other form, colour and mood. Becoming angry, darksome masses, they hide the very sun that drew them up into being. They harbour storms and disasters. Bahá'u'lláh, writing of 'the thick clouds of oppression, which obscure the day-star of justice,' says that: 'These thick clouds are the exponents of idle fancies and vain imaginings, who are none other but the divines of Persia.' (ESW 14-15) He reminds us that 'The thick clouds of tyranny have darkened the face of the earth, and enveloped its peoples.' (G 92) He addresses the 'rulers of the earth' with the question: 'Wherefore have ye clouded the radiance of the Sun, and caused it to cease from shining?' (G 253) He proclaims that: 'In this Day the Straight Path is made manifest, the Balance of

     
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divine justice is set and the light of the sun of His bounty is resplendent, yet the oppressive darkness of the people of tyranny hath, even as clouds, intervened and caused a grievous obstruction between the Day-Star of heavenly grace and the people of the world. Blessed is he who hath rent the intervening veils asunder and is illumined by the radiant light of divine Revelation.' (TB 255-6) Bahá'u'lláh repeats the passage from the Qur'án; 'On the day when the heaven shall give out a palpable smoke, which shall enshroud mankind:this will be an afflictive torment.' (Q 44:10; cited KI 76) Bahá'u'lláh specifically interprets the words of Jesus concerning 'the Son of man. . .coming in the clouds of heaven.' (KJV Matthew 24:30; 26:64; Mark 14:62) It is these words that have been taken so literally by dogmatic theologians, to their tragic loss. Bahá'u'lláh writes: 'And now, with reference to His words: "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." These words signify that in those days men will lament the loss of the Sun of the divine beauty, of the Moon of knowledge, and of the Stars of divine wisdom. Thereupon, they will behold the countenance of the promised One, the adored Beauty, descending from heaven and riding upon the clouds. By this is meant that the divine Beauty will be made manifest from the heaven of the will of God, and will appear in the form of the human temple.' (KI 66-7) He further writes: 'By the term "clouds" is meant those things that are contrary to the ways and desires of men . . . 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

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sense, they mean the appearance of that immortal Beauty in the image of mortal man. . . 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.' (KI 71-2)

     And finally, for this note, we repeat other words of Bahá'u'lláh: 'I bear witness that Thou hast in truth fulfilled Thy pledge and hast made manifest the One Whose advent was foretold by Thy Prophets, Thy chosen ones and by them that serve Thee. He hath come from the heaven of glory and power, bearing the banners of Thy signs and the standards of Thy testimonies. Through the potency of Thine indomitable power and strength, He stood up before the faces of all men and summoned all mankind to the summit of transcendent glory and unto the all-highest Horizon, in such wise that neither the oppression of the ecclesiastics nor the onslaught of the rulers was able to deter Him. He arose with inflexible resolve and, unloosing His tongue, proclaimed in ringing tones: "He Who is the All-Bountiful is come, riding aloft on the clouds. Advance ye, 0 people of the earth, with shining faces and radiant hearts!"' (TB 115-16)


     54. Earlier in the verses (see notes 25 and 26), Paradise and Hell were defined; now they are described. The images thus created set the stage for the Announcement that follows.

     Since ancient times, the people of Bahá'u'lláh's native Iran had thought of

     Paradise as a garden decked with roses. Such an image is indicated by the Persian word firdaws, which means both Paradise and garden. Persian poets had long extolled the garden as expressive of Paradise. The English word 'paradise' is a transliteration

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of the Old Persian word pairidaeza, referring to an enclosed garden. (See OED and Webster) There is a legend of ancient times about the garden of Irem (Eram) which was built in the Yemen by Sheddad, King of the Adites. It surpassed all gardens ever built and was intended to rival the delights of Paradise itself. The story goes that when it was finished the King came out to view it, but he was destroyed by a terrible noise from heaven. This is presumably the garden described in the Qur'án: 'At Irem adorned with pillars, whose like have not been reared in these lands!' (Q 89:6-7)*

     Roses have for long abounded in Persian gardens, predominating among all other Persian flowers. The Persian word gul serves as both the word for rose and the general term for flower. Nearly every individual flower includes gul in its name; for example, the gul-i-narges, or narcissus. **

     Thus we learn that for centuries past Persians have been accustomed to associate Paradise with gardens, and especially roses. Such is the background for the majesty of Bahá'u'lláh's Great Announcement, phrased in words such as these: 'Hear Me, ye mortal birds! In the Rose Garden of changeless splendor a Flower hath begun to bloom, compared to which every other flower is but a thorn, and before the brightness of Whose glory the very essence of beauty must pale and wither. Arise, therefore, and, with the whole enthusiasm of your hearts, with all the eagerness of your souls, the full fervor of your will, and the


     * See the Note that accompanies Sale's translation of this verse in: Sale, George, The Koran Translated into English, London, various dates.

     **     I am indebted to Donald N. Wilbur for enlightenment concerning the relationship in Persian literature between Paradise and the garden and roses. See his Persian Gardens and Garden Pavilions, Washington, 1978. See also Moynihan, Elizabeth B., Paradise as a Garden in Persia and Mughal India, New York, 1979.

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concentrated efforts of your entire being, strive to attain the paradise of His presence, and endeavor to inhale the fragrance of the incorruptible Flower, to breathe the sweet savors of holiness, and to obtain a portion of this perfume of celestial glory. . .' (G 320-1)

     Even as the garden is indicative of the nature of Paradise, so is fire symbolic of Hell. Why must there be a hell? Bahá'u'lláh wrote in His Tablet to Vafá: 'As to Paradise: It is a reality and there is no doubt about it, and now in this world it is realized through love of Me and My good-pleasure. Whosoever attaineth unto it God will aid him in this world below, and after death He will enable him to gain admittance into Paradise whose vastness is as that of heaven and earth. Therein the Maids of glory and holiness will wait upon him in the daytime and in the night season, while the day-star of the unfading beauty of his Lord will at all times shed its radiance upon him and he will shine so brightly that no one shall bear to gaze at him. Such is the dispensation of Providence, yet the people are shut out by a grievous veil. Likewise apprehend thou the nature of hell-fire and be of them that truly believe. For every act performed there shall be a recompense according to the estimate of God, and unto this the very ordinances and prohibitions prescribed by the Almighty amply bear witness. For surely if deeds were not rewarded and yielded no fruit, then the Cause of God — exalted is He- would prove futile. Immeasurably high is He exalted above such blasphemies! However, unto them that are rid of all attachments a deed is, verily, its own reward. Were We to enlarge upon this theme numerous Tablets would need to be written.' (TB 189)


     55. Until now, these perspicuous verses have consisted essentially of questions by the 'dwellers of the

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earth', with responses 'sent down from the Kingdom of Divine knowledge'. The questions appear largely to have been phrased in terms suggested by prophetic statements in past scriptures, prophecies but dimly understood. The questions have been asked by the 'heedless', 'blinded' and 'faithless', who 'understand not', have 'gone astray' and 'reject the truth'. The responses are clear, concise and to the point. They set the record straight. They are indeed perspicuous.

     Now comes the moment of fulfillment in this drama of Revelation, the moment of the triumphant and climactic Announcement: 'Say: "The light hath shone forth from the horizon of Revelation, and the whole earth hath been illumined at the coming of Him Who is the Lord of the Day of the Covenant!"' These are words that will resound throughout the universe for ages to come. They are words to be meditated upon by all who read or hear; to be pondered in the light of other words of Bahá'u'lláh, words such as those of the prayer: 'This is the Day, 0 my Lord, which Thou didst announce unto all mankind as the Day whereon Thou wouldst reveal Thy Self, and shed Thy radiance, and shine brightly over all Thy creatures. Thou hast, moreover, entered into a covenant with them, in Thy books, and Thy Scriptures, and Thy Scrolls, and Thy Tablets, concerning Him Who is the Day-Spring of Thy Revelation, and hast appointed the Bayán to be the Herald of this Most Great and all-glorious Manifestation, and this most resplendent and most sublime Appearance.' (PM 275)


     56. Following this expression of the Great Announcement of 'the coming of Him Who is the Lord of the Day of the Covenant,' the theme of the verses is unraveled. 'The doubters have perished,

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whilst he that turned, guided by the light of assurance, unto the Dayspring of Certitude hath prospered.' The earlier veils of speciously worded questions have been scattered, and 'the whole earth hath been illumined. . .' The 'vague fancies' and 'vain imaginings' of the 'dwellers of the earth', the 'caprices' of those who 'understand not', all these have been left behind. The drama of Revelation enters a realm of joyous unfoldment and glorious consummation.

     Elsewhere, Bahá'u'lláh repeats a question and answer from the Qur'án: Of what ask they of one another? Of the Great Announcement."' (Q 78:1-2) He adds: 'This is the Announcement, the greatness of which hath been mentioned in most of the Books of old and of more recent times. . .' And further: 'Great is the Cause, and great the Announcement! Patiently and calmly ponder thou upon the resplendent signs and the sublime words, and all that hath been revealed in these days, that haply thou mayest fathom the mysteries that are hid in the Books, and mayest strive to guide His servants. (ESW 143-4)


     57. 'Light' is repeatedly mentioned in these verses. We have read of 'the Horizon of Certitude. . .and its lights', of 'the dawning-light of the mercy of thy Lord, the source of all light,' and that 'The light hath shone forth from the horizon of Revelation, and the whole earth hath been illumined. . .' Now we read of 'the light of assurance.

     Bahá'u'lláh was from the Province of Núr, the Province of 'Light'. His very name is expressive of light, for Bahá means 'light' in Arabic. *


     *     I am indebted to the article by Dhikru'lláh Khádem, titled Bahá'u'lláh and His Most Holy Shrine, in Bahá'í News, March 1976, No. 540, pp. 1-16. Wilmette.

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     Past scriptures have foretold and described the light that Bahá'u'lláh is now bringing to the world. The Psalmist wrote: 'For with Thee is the fountain of life; in Thy light shall we see light.' (KJV Psalms 36:9) We repeat the words that Isaiah called out to Zion: 'Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people, but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to Thy light, and kings to the brightness of Thy rising.' (KJV Isaiah60:1-3)

     We read in the Apocalypse of St. John of the vision of that great city, the holy

     Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God; and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. . .And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it, for the Glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light of it. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it, and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.' (KJV Revelation 21:10,11,23,24)

     In the Súrih of Light, Muhammad revealed these words: 'God is the Light of the heavens and of the earth. His light is like a niche in which is a lamp - the lamp encased in glass — the glass, as it were, a glistening star. From a blessed Tree is it lighted, the olive neither of the East nor of the West, whose oil would well nigh shine out, even though fire touched it not! It is light upon light. God guideth whom He will to His light, and God setteth forth parables to men, for God knoweth all things.' (Q 24:35; see also 'Abdu'l-Bahá's comment on this passage in MF 78)

     We have Bahá'u'lláh's own words, in which He

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quotes the first sentence of the preceding passage:'Now when the light of God's everlasting Morn is breaking; when the radiance of His holy words: "God is the light of the heavens and of the earth" is shedding illumination upon all mankind; when the inviolability of His tabernacle is being proclaimed by His sacred utterance: "God hath willed to perfect His light;". . .it behooveth us to gird up the loins of endeavour, that haply, by the grace and bounty of God, we may enter the celestial City. . .' (KI 90; with passages quoted from Q 24:35 and Q 9:32)


     58. Early in these verses Bahá'u'lláh wrote of the 'Horizon of Certitude', and here we read of the 'Day-spring of Certitude'. The horizon is constantly about us, and the dayspring is an ever-recurring happening in our lives.

     The words 'faith' and 'certitude' appear frequently in the Scriptures; sometimes together. One wonders about their respective meanings. They appear to be related but not identical; perhaps analogous but certainly not synonymous. Can we not think of faith as a journey towards certitude? Perhaps faith may be seen as a bridge by which we travel to a rock that is certitude. Faith seems to involve becoming, while certitude is attainment.

     Bahá'u'lláh wrote to an early believer, Muhammad Husayn of Shíráz, whom He had honoured with the surname 'Vafá' (Fidelity): 'Hearken thou unto the Words of thy Lord and purify thy heart from every illusion so that the effulgent light of the remembrance of thy Lord may shed its radiance upon it, and it may attain the station of certitude.' (TB 183) The reader will ponder and perhaps wonder at Bahá'u'lláh's indication that, even for this believer, certitude was still to be attained.

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     59. In the opening sentence of these verses, Bahá'u'lláh addressed the recipient as '. . thou who hast set thy face towards the splendors of My Countenance!' Now He writes: 'Blessed art thou, who hast fixed thy gaze upon Me. . .' Later in the verses He adds: 'My glory be upon thee and upon whomsoever hath turned unto the Almighty, the All-Bounteous.' These words contrast with Bahá'u'lláh's earlier statement that:'Vague fancies have encompassed the dwellers of the earth and debarred them from turning towards the Horizon of Certitude.

     To turn to the Manifestation is our responsibility and opportunity, offered to us with infinite love. We have, moreover, been given freedom to decide where to turn — whether or not to turn to Bahá'u'lláh. He calls upon us: 'Seize the time, therefore, ere the glory of the divine springtime hath spent itself, and the Bird of Eternity ceased to warble its melody, that thy inner hearing may not be deprived of hearkening unto its call. This is My counsel unto thee and unto the beloved of God. Whosoever wisheth, let him turn thereunto; whosoever wisheth, let him turn away. God, verily, is independent of him and of that which he may see and witness.' (KI 24) In another passage, we read: 'He, verily, loveth the one that turneth towards Him.' (G291)


     60. When we commit the words of the Manifestation to memory, they become part of us. Instead of merely passing through our consciousness, they enter our hearts and well out in meditation and prayer. As we cherish and recall them they grow in meaning, acquiring new dimensions. They are there when we need them: a treasure that no one can take from us. They are built into us.

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     The Báb wrote that '. . .every breast which committeth His Words to memory, God shall cause, if it were that of a believer, to be filled with His love. (SB 99)

     The Guardian wrote that: 'The Master used to attach much importance to the learning by heart of the Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh and the Báb.' (See Bahá'í Education:A Compilation. Haifa, 1977, p. 65.)

     Bahá'u'lláh wrote that: 'The sanctified souls should ponder and meditate in their hearts regarding the methods of teaching. From the texts of the wondrous, heavenly Scriptures they should memorize phrases and passages bearing on various instances, so that in the course of their speech they may recite divine verses whenever the occasion demandeth it, inasmuch as these holy verses are the most potent elixir, the greatest and mightiest talisman.' (TB 200)


     61. When we 'recite' the Word of Bahá'u'lláh, we do far more than repeat the words out loud. Even as committing His Word to memory becomes a process of inward enrichment, so to recite His Word becomes an outgoing and outgiving experience of fulfillment. As we recite, we listen and meditate, and as we meditate we gain in understanding. The words recited rise to God in praise and merge into prayer. As we recite we proclaim.

     Bahá'u'lláh has written: 'Intone, 0 My servant, the verses of God that have been received by thee, as intoned by them who have drawn nigh unto Him, 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


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mouth, and shall cause the heart of every righteous man to throb. Though he may, at first, remain unaware of its effect, yet the virtue of the grace vouchsafed unto him must needs sooner or later exercise its influence upon his soul.' (G 295)


     62. We read in the Qur'án: 'Wherefore glorify God, when the evening overtaketh you, and when ye rise in the morning. . .' (Q 30:16, Sale's translation)


     63. Bahá'u'lláh quotes from the Qur'án, in the context of attainment to the Divine Presence: '"Aye! But when the earth shall be crushed with crushing, crushing, and thy Lord shall come and the angels rank on rank."' (ESW 118, quoting Q 89:22-3)


     64. Bahá'u'lláh wrote: 'In the spirit of Thy love keep me steadfast, 0 my Succorer, and in the path of Thy good-pleasure set firm my steps, 0 my Maker!' (PM 258; BP 77) 'Abdu'l-Bahá wrote: '0 ye loved ones of God! Be firm of foot, and fixed of heart, and through the power of the Blessed Beauty's help, stand ye committed to your purpose.' (SAB 219)


     65. The patience of our Lord is beyond human comprehension. It is the patience of the Creator towards His created. Bahá'u'lláh addresses these words to God in a prayer: 'Thou didst wish to make Thyself known unto men; therefore, Thou didst, through a word of Thy mouth, bring creation into being and fashion the universe.' (PM 6; BP 56) From this sentence it is clear that the very reason for the creation of the universe is that men may come to know God. And yet, throughout recorded time, whenever God has, in His illimitable mercy, sent His Messenger to renew, refresh and


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add to men's knowledge of God, the Messenger has been ignored, scoffed at, rejected, vilified, opposed, and made to suffer grievously. Indicative of this are words of another prayer, which Bahá'u'lláh revealed to be recited by a bitter enemy of the Faith: 'I testify, 0 my God, and my King, that Thou hast created me to remember Thee, to glorify Thee, and to aid Thy Cause. And yet, I have aided Thine enemies, who have broken Thy Covenant, who have cast away Thy Book, disbelieved in Thee, and repudiated Thy signs.'(ESW 3-4)

     The theme of man's rejection and denial of the Manifestation appears in the matchless utterance of Bahá'u'lláh's Kitáb-i-Iqán. (See particularly pages 4-24.) The first sentences of this passage read: 'Consider the past. How many, both high and low, have, at all times, yearningly awaited the advent of the Manifestations of God in the sanctified persons of His chosen Ones. How often have they expected His coming, how frequently have they prayed that the breeze of divine mercy might blow, and the promised Beauty step forth from behind the veil of concealment, and be made manifest to all the world. And whensoever the portals of grace did open, and the clouds of divine bounty did rain upon mankind, and the light of the Unseen did shine above the horizon of celestial might, they all denied Him, and turned away from His face — the face of God Himself.'(KI 4; G 17)

     In truth, 'our Lord is Patient.

     Thus the drama of Revelation unfolds; thus Bahá'u'lláh discloses the great underlying pattern of history. As we seek enlightenment, 'Abdu'l-Bahá counsels us:

     'Reflect upon the past events of the time of Christ, and the present events shall become clear and manifest.' (SAB 175) Further words of prophetic insight into the


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mysterious courses of history have flowed from 'Abdu'l-Bahá's unerring pen: 'Remember the Messiah, and His days on earth, and His abasement, and His tribulations, and how the people paid Him no mind. Remember how the Jews would hold Him up to ridicule, and mock at Him, and address Him with:"Peace be upon thee, King of the Jews! Peace be upon thee, King of Kings!" How they would say that He was mad, and would ask how the Cause of that crucified One could ever spread out to the easts of the world and the wests thereof. None followed Him then, save only a few souls who were fishermen, carpenters, and other plain folk. Alas, alas, for such delusions!' (SAB 173)

     'Abdu'l-Bahá then reminds us: 'And see what happened then: how their mighty banners were reversed, and in their place His most exalted standard lifted up; how all the bright stars in that heaven of honour and pride did set, how they sank in the west of all that vanisheth — while His brilliant Orb still shineth down out of skies of undying glory, as the centuries and the ages roll by. Be ye then admonished, ye that have eyes to see! Ere long shall ye behold even greater things than this.' (SAB 173-4)

     And finally, addressing a war-weary, groping world, 'Abdu'l-Bahá foresees and proclaims the triumph, ere long, of the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh:'Know thou that all the powers combined have not the power to establish universal peace, nor to withstand the overmastering dominion, at every time and season, of these endless wars. Ere long, however, shall the power of heaven, the dominion of the Holy Spirit, hoist on the high summits the banners of love and peace, and there above the castles of majesty and might shall those banners wave in the rushing winds that blow out of the tender mercy of God.' (SAB 174)

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REFERENCES

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ADJ Shoghi Effendi. The Advent of Divine Justice. Wilmette 1939.
BA Shoghi Effendi. Bahá'í Administration. Wilmette 1968.
BP Bahá'í Prayers. (American Edition) Wilmette 1954.
DB Nabíl-i-A'zam. The Dawn Breakers, Nabíl's Narrative. Wilmette 1932.
ESW Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf Wilmette 1962.
FV Bahá'u'lláh. The Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys. Wilmette 1945.
G Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh. Wilmette 1952.
GPB Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By. Wilmette 1944.
HW The Hidden Words of Bahá'u'lláh. Wilmette 1954.
KI Bahá'u'lláh. The Kitáb-i-Íqán. The Book of Certitude. Wilmette 1950.
KJV Holy Bible. Authorized King James Version. Various editions.
MF 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Memorials of the Faithful. Wilmette 1971.
OED The Oxford English Dictionary. Various editions. Oxford.
PB The Proclamation of Bahá'u'lláh to the Kings and Rulers. Haifa 1967.
PDC Shoghi Effendi. The Promised Day is Come. Wilmette 1941.
PM Prayers and Meditations by Bahá'u'lláh. Wilmette 1938.
PUP 'Abdu'l-Bahá. The Promulgation of Universal Peace. Wilmette 1922.
Q The Koran (Qur'án). Translated by J. M. Rodwell. London 1909.


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SAB Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Haifa 1978.
SAQ 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Some Answered Questions. Wilmette 1964.
SB Selections from the Writings of the Báb. Haifa 1976.
SCKA A Synopsis and Codification of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas of Bahá'u'lláh. Haifa 1973.
SDC 'Abdu'l-Bahá. The Secret of Divine Civilization. Wilmette 1970.
SV Bahá'u'lláh. The Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys. Wilmette 1945.
TB Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh revealed after the Kitáb-I-Aqdas. Haifa 1978.
Webster Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary. Springfield, various dates.
WOB Shoghi Effendi. The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh. Wilmette 1955.


     Abbreviations of titles, from which passages are quoted, appear in the notes, followed by page number, not that of section or prayer; except for the Holy Bible where book and numbers of chapter and verse are given, and except for the Qur'án where numbers of súrih and verse are given.

     Passages quoted from the Qur'án follow Rodwell's translation except when there is a differing translation in the Bahá'í Writings, and occasionally, as noted, when a translation other than Rodwell's seems preferable. In the interest of clarity, some changes have been made in punctuation and capitalization as they appear in the King James Version of the Bible and in the Qur'án.

     The quotation from Bahá'u'lláh used as a dedication, is from TB 78-9.

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about the author

     Mr. Robert McLaughlin has had an extremely distinguished career as an architect in the United States, although his interests have extended from pre-Columbian architecture in South America to old brickwork in Sweden. For thirteen years he was Dean of the School of Architecture at Princeton University, and since 1964 he has also been consulting architect to The Universal House of Justice for the planning and development of the Bahá'í Shrines on Mount Carmel and or Bahá'í Houses of Worship in Panama and Iran. This book is his first contribution in the field of Bahá'í literature.

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