Segment 12: The Day That Will Not Be Followed By Night: Mirza Yahya & Muhammad Ali -by Tim Nolan

The Day That Will Not Be Followed By Night: Mirza Yahya & Muhammad Ali.pdf

“There is, though, a great difference between this and previous Dispensations, for Bahá’u’lláh has written that this is ‘the Day which shall not be followed by night’ (“God Passes By”, p. 245). He has given us His Covenant which provides for a continuing centre of divine guidance in the world. The Bahá’í Faith has not lacked for ambitious men who would seize the reins of authority and distort the Faith for their own ends, but in every case they have broken themselves and dashed their hopes on the rock of the Covenant.” (14 January 1979, from a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)

———————————————————————————

The strength, the incorruptibility of Baha’u’llah’s Covenant can be seen in the fact that each of the major incidents of covenant breaking has been instigated, not by an unremarkable, insignificant individual, but rather by some of the most prominent, influential persons in the community, yet they failed in their machinations.

The Founders of past dispensations, for reasons known only to God, did not leave explicit, written instructions regarding to whom their followers should turn for guidance, after the Manifestation was no longer physically present. It is true that Jesus said to Peter “Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18) and “Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven” (Matthew 18:16). But these statements, not written down until several decades after the crucifixion, were not explicit enough to prevent the Great Schism of 1054 when the eastern branch of Christianity separated from the church of Rome, nor to avert the Protestant reformation of the 16th century. The division of the Christian community, as the result of lack of a clear covenant, has resulted in a “night” of lack of unity, and even wars. The Thirty Years War of the 17th century, which was partly the result of conflicts between Protestants and Catholics, left millions dead. In more recent times, the decades long conflict between Protestant Northern Ireland and the Catholic Republic of Ireland, resulted in many thousands killed or maimed, and thousands more terrorized. If the destruction of wars, the suspicion and hatreds resulting from differences of religious beliefs, are not a spiritual night, then what is?

In the case of Islam, the Shia branch claims that Muhammad nominated Ali ibn Talib to be His successor, but this is not specified in the Qur’an, and Sunnis do not accept that account as valid. When Muhammad was dying, He asked for pen and paper so His Will could be written; but “Umar said, ‘Pain is deluding God’s Messenger; we have God’s Book, which is enough.'”(1) As the result of the lack of an explicit, written covenant naming Muhammad’s successor, the Muslim community as a whole was deprived of the inspired guidance (2) which Ali and his successor Imams could have provided. In recent times, there was the Iran-Iraq war, which could have been avoided if the entire Muslim community had been united.

By contrast, the Covenants of the Bab and of Baha’u’llah are so clear and unambiguous that even the most prominent and influential opponents have not been able to destroy the unity of the Baha’i community.

Although the Bab did not name a successor, He did not leave any doubt as to Whom His followers should turn after His martyrdom, even referring to Baha’u’llah by name. At Baha’u’llah’s suggestion, He did name Mirza Yahya as the titular head of the Babis, in order to divert attention from Baha’u’llah Himself.(5)

Shoghi Effendi describes Mirza Yahya as “cowardly and credulous”, “vain and flaccid”. He was “irremediably corrupted” by the “black-hearted scoundrel”(3) Siyyid Muhammad. Although his behavior was shameful and confusing to the Babis, still as the Bab’s nominee, he had some influence over that community. During his villainous career, he corrupted the texts of some of the Bab’s writings, he incited the murder of Dayyan, the “repository of the knowledge of God”(4), he claimed that he himself was “He Whom God will make manifest”, and , most shocking of all, he poisoned his noble, sacred Brother, the Manifestation of God.(6) As a result of this poisoning, Baha’u’llah came near death, and had a shaking hand the rest of His life. Consider how great the harm that would have befallen all humanity if Baha’u’llah’s life had been cut short.

In spite of the influence he had, in spite of his scheming over several decades, Mirza Yahya’s attempts to undermine the Bab’s covenant failed utterly. Many of his followers left him and pledged their loyalty to Baha’u’llah. It is significant that he lived twenty years after Baha’u’llah’s ascension, long enough to see “every hope he had so maliciously conceived reduced to naught.”(7)

The second example of a person in a position of influence who attempted to break the Covenant is the case of Abdu’l-Baha’s half-brother, Muhammad Ali. The son of Baha’u’llah’s second wife, given the title of “the Greater Branch (Ghusn-i-Akbar) by his Father, named in the Kitab-i-Ahd as second in rank only to Abdu’l-Baha, this perfidious man, consumed by a “soul festering jealousy”(8) toward Abdu’l-Baha, behaved in a way that “…agitated the minds and hearts of a vast proportion of the faithful throughout the East, eclipsed, for a time, the Orb of the Covenant, created an irreparable breach within the ranks of Bahá’u’lláh’s own kindred, sealed ultimately the fate of the great majority of the members of His family, and gravely damaged the prestige, though it never succeeded in causing a permanent cleavage in the structure, of the Faith itself.”(8)

Muhammad Ali changed the text of at least one tablet of Baha’u’llah to make it appear that Baha’u’llah was condemning the wicked deeds of Abdu’l-Baha.(9) He plotted to murder Abdu’l-Baha. He made repeated false allegations about Abdu’l-Baha to the Ottoman authorities, so that the Master came perilously closed to being exiled to a remote part of the Libyan desert. In addition, from 1892 to 1929, Muhammad Ali and his relatives occupied the mansion of Bahji, where Baha’u’llah’s tomb was located, and it was not until 1952 that the property surrounding the Shrine was finally owned, without hindrance, by the Baha’i community. (10)

In spite of the high rank Baha’u’llah granted him in His Will, notwithstanding his temporary success in dimming the light of the covenant, Muhammad Ali came to an ignominious end. The Guardian wrote:

[Muhammad Ali] “was stricken with paralysis which crippled half his body; lay bedridden in pain for months before he died; and was buried according to Muslim rites, in the immediate vicinity of a local Muslim shrine, his grave remaining until the present day (1944) devoid of even a tombstone—a pitiful reminder of the hollowness of the claims he had advanced, of the depths of infamy to which he had sunk, and of the severity of the retribution his acts had so richly merited.” (11)

It is significant that Muhammad Ali, who died in 1937, lived long enough to see his hopes for leadership dashed, his plotting totally vanquished.

If the Covenants of the Bab and of Baha’u’llah had been challenged by minor individuals of little influence, an objective observer might say that their failure proved nothing, since those opponents were weak and of no consequence. Instead what we see is that the Covenant has been challenged, indeed the Manifestation and the Center of the Covenant were threatened with death, not by insignificant persons, but by the nominee of the Bab Himself and by the one named in Baha’u’llah’s Will as next in rank after Abdu’l-Baha. This is conclusive proof that this sacred Covenant is incorruptible. As Shoghi Effendi wrote:

“Despite the blows leveled at its nascent strength, whether by the wielders of temporal and spiritual authority from without, or by black-hearted foes from within, the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh had, far from breaking or bending, gone from strength to strength, from victory to victory.” (12)
———————-

Notes:

(1) Six Lessons on Islam. Marzieh. Gail, p. 11

(2) Marzieh Gail told this writer that Shoghi Effendi had told her that the Imams were Guardians.

(3) God Passes By, pp. 111-113

(4) God Passes By p. 124

(5) The Covenant of Baha’u’llah, Adib Taherzadeh p. 61

(6) God Passes By, pp. 163-182

(7) God Passes By, p. 233

(8) God Passes By, p. 246

(9) The Covenant of Baha’u’llah, Adib Taherzadeh p. 153

(10) The Priceless Pearl, Ruhiyyih Rabbani, p. 231-233

(11) God Passes By p. 319-320

(12) God Passes By p. 409

Segment 11- Baha’u’llah’s Covenant: Unique in the Annals of History -by Dana Paxson

Baha’u’llah’s Covenant: Unique in the Annals of History.pdf

The claim to uniqueness in the title of this essay can be seen to rest on firm foundations, of which we examine these three: first and foremost its [Baha’u’llah’s Covenant] written, explicit, indisputable statement in the Hand of its Author for all to see; second, its evident and most-prominent place in a series of Covenants that have brought the Revelations of the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh unmarred, whole, and vital, into the hands of the world’s peoples; and third, the utterly-diverging fates of those who either embraced or rejected it.

Regarding the first of these identified foundations, Shoghi Effendi writes:

‘… this unique and epoch-making Document, designated by Bahá’u’lláh as His “Most Great Tablet,” and alluded to by Him as the “Crimson Book” in His “Epistle to the Son of the Wolf,” can find no parallel in the Scriptures of any previous Dispensation, not excluding that of the Báb Himself. For nowhere in the books pertaining to any of the world’s religious systems, not even among the writings of the Author of the Bábí Revelation, do we find any single document establishing a Covenant endowed with an authority comparable to the Covenant which Bahá’u’lláh had Himself instituted.

‘“So firm and mighty is this Covenant,” He Who is its appointed Center [‘Abdu’l-Bahá] has affirmed, “that from the beginning of time until the present day no religious Dispensation hath produced its like.” “It is indubitably clear,” He, furthermore, has stated, “that the pivot of the oneness of mankind is nothing else but the power of the Covenant.”’[1]

Also from Shoghi Effendi:

“This Primitive Age of the Bahá’í Era, unapproached in spiritual fecundity by any period associated with the mission of the Founder of any previous Dispensation, was impregnated, from its inception to its termination, with the creative energies generated through the advent of two independent Manifestations and the establishment of a Covenant unique in the spiritual annals of mankind.”[2]

The unique character of the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh, as expressed in His Kitáb-i-‘Ahd (Book of the Covenant) and Hid Kitáb-i-Áqdas (The Most Holy Book, the book of the laws of His Dispensation), emerges first in His explicit, written assertions in these two revealed works, assertions in a form unprecedented in all of recorded human history. In the words of the distinguished historian and scholar Adib Taherzadeh:

“Through these writings Bahá’u’lláh established a mighty and irrefutable covenant unprecedented in the annals of past religions. Never before has a Manifestation of God left behind an authoritative statement in which He has explicitly directed His people to turn to someone as His successor, or follow a defined system of administration for governing the religious affairs of the community.”[3]

Regarding the second of the foundations of the claim to this Covenant’s uniqueness, one need only contemplate its place in the series of clear transfers of authority that began with the Báb and led onward through Bahá’u’lláh, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Shoghi Effendi, and the Universal House of Justice, all in their ushering in of the great Bahá’í cycle of future Dispensations. This series can be viewed as the living realization of “the cord to which have clung all in this world and in the world to come”, as one reads in Bahá’u’lláh’s prayer to be recited during the Bahá’í Fast. The essays comprising the series of which the present essay is but one part, provide a broad survey of this theme, one which requires entire volumes for the beginnings of an adequate treatment. It should be sufficient here to note that in no other faith has such a cord of connection ever been explicitly furnished to the followers of God.

Regarding the third of the foundations of the claim, one is reminded of the challenge appearing in Bahá’u’lláh’s great Tablet of Ahmad, “Whosoever desireth, let him turn aside from this counsel, and whosoever desireth, let him choose the path to his Lord.”

The uniqueness of this Covenant, termed the “Lesser Covenant” to distinguish it from the overarching Covenant of God with all of humanity for all of His Dispensations, is demonstrated most clearly through its continuing shielding of the Bahá’í Community from schism, deformity, and confusion. The choice of devotion or infidelity stands always before each of us. In His Tablet of Visitation, Bahá’u’lláh testifies to this divergence:

“I bear witness… that through a word from Thee Thou hast decided between all created things, causing them who are devoted to Thee to ascend unto the summit of glory, and the infidels to fall into the lowest abyss.”

In a Tablet to Howard MacNutt, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá wrote:

“Today, every wise, vigilant and foresighted person is awakened, and to him are unveiled the mysteries of the future which show that nothing save the power of the Covenant is able to stir and move the heart of humanity, just as the New and Old Testaments propounded throughout all regions the Cause of Christ and were the pulsating power in the body of the human world. A tree that hath a root shall bear fruit, while the tree that hath none, no matter how high and hardy it may be, will eventually wither, perish and become but a log fit for the fire.

“The Covenant of God is like unto a vast and fathomless ocean. A billow shall rise and surge therefrom and shall cast ashore all accumulated foam.”[4]

And so it was when the Bahá’í community was assailed by those who disputed the authority conferred on ‘Abdu’l-Bahá the Center of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant. No proof of the Covenant’s power is clearer than the sobering fates that befell those who attacked it, in stark contrast to the steadily-emerging splendor of the globe-girdling development of the Bahá’í community continuing today – the very community the attackers sought to seize for their very own.

For one mighty example of what befell the breakers of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant, we turn to Shoghi Effendi once more, as he writes of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s half-brother, Mirzá Muhammad-‘Alí and those who took his side against the Master:

“And finally, he who, from the moment the Divine Covenant was born until the end of his life, showed a hatred more unrelenting than that which animated the afore-mentioned adversaries of ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá, who plotted more energetically than any one of them against Him, and afflicted his Father’s Faith with a shame more grievous than any which its external enemies had inflicted upon it—such a man, together with the infamous crew of Covenant-breakers whom he had misled and instigated, was condemned to witness, in a growing measure, as had been the case with Mírzá Yaḥyá and his henchmen, the frustration of his evil designs, the evaporation of all his hopes, the exposition of his true motives and the complete extinction of his erstwhile honor and glory. His brother, Mírzá Ḍíyá’u’lláh, died prematurely; Mírzá Áqá Ján, his dupe, followed that same brother, three years later, to the grave; and Mírzá Badí‘u’lláh, his chief accomplice, betrayed his cause, published a signed denunciation of his evil acts, but rejoined him again, only to be alienated from him in consequence of the scandalous behavior of his own daughter. Mírzá Muḥammad-‘Alí’s half-sister, Furúghíyyih, died of cancer, whilst her husband, Siyyid ‘Alí, passed away from a heart attack before his sons could reach him, the eldest being subsequently stricken in the prime of life, by the same malady. Muḥammad-Javád-i-Qazvíní, a notorious Covenant-breaker, perished miserably. Shu‘á‘u’lláh who, as witnessed by ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá in His Will, had counted on the murder of the Center of the Covenant, and who had been despatched to the United States by his father to join forces with Ibráhím Khayru’lláh, returned crestfallen and empty-handed from his inglorious mission. Jamál-i-Burújirdí, Mírzá Muḥammad-‘Alí’s ablest lieutenant in Persia, fell a prey to a fatal and loathsome disease…”[5]

Contrast these sordid outcomes and others in the remainder of this sobering passage with the steadily-unfolding advancement of the Cause of God, alive, thriving, and animating human advancement in the world today, and we see an irrefutable, visible proof of the uniqueness of the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh. This “vast and fathomless ocean” firmly casts ashore all its “accumulated foam”.

The clear, explicit, written character of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant; its pivotal, enduring, and essential place in the stream of a cycle destined to span half a million years of continuing Revelations in the future; and the irresistible potency of its protection of those who enter unshakably into its embrace: all these testify to its utter uniqueness among the Revelations lavished by God on humanity. Thanks to the bestowal of this Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh, we stand near the very beginnings of a golden era of astonishment, wonder, and splendor.

Notes:

[1] God Passes By
Author: Shoghi Effendi Source: US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979 second printing Pages: 412

[2] Citadel of Faith pp. 4-6

[3] Adib Taherzadeh, The Covenant of Baha’u’llah, p. 99

[4] Selections From the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
Author: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Source: Bahá’í World Centre, 1982 lightweight edition Pages: 320

[5] Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, pp. 316-320

Segment 10 – Bahá’u’lláh: The Supreme Manifestation – by Dana Paxson

Bahá’u’lláh: The Supreme Manifestation.pdf

One is astonished at contemplating Baha’u’llah’s station as the Supreme Manifestation of God, for an overarching cycle of divine revelation due to last no less than half a million years. The human mind struggles to comprehend the scale of such a distinction, such a vast reach of time, such deeply-penetrating implications. This essay offers a mere glimpse at some relevant passages and observations concerning the significance of this Revelation to us, in this present time, in our lives and the human world we inhabit.

To do no more than to unravel some of the meanings of Shoghi Effendi’s assertion of the duration of this divine cycle would itself require far more than a few pages of discussion. The Guardian himself made clear that the full duration of the Bahá’í cycle, in contrast to that of the cycles preceding it, “should not be reckoned numerically, but should be considered as symbolizing the incomparable greatness of the Bahá’í Revelation which, though not final is none-the-less thus far the fullest revelation of God to man.”[1]

There is no reason, however, to think that this bold assertion lacks the force of connection with the cycles and principles that govern the physical world. Reckonings of such human matters have their roots in the material world via the calendars, astronomical cycles, and historical events that mark the passages of time, but they also reflect the far-more-significant blooming and fruiting of human matters in the greater worlds of God.

Until the coming of the Báb, no Manifestation of God appearing in history produced in His own hand any record of His Revelation. Until the coming of Bahá’u’lláh, no Manifestation of God in history produced in His own hand any explicit document creating His Covenant, thereby conferring supreme authority upon an individual or institution upon His passing. This distinction alone is sufficient to set apart the Bahá’í Revelation from all of its predecessors.

Far more evidence demonstrates the truth of the term “The Supreme Manifestation” as it applies to Bahá’u’lláh. The Revelations of the past, dating from earliest recorded history to the 19th century, appear to us as cyclic processes, punctuated by brief transitions at their beginnings leading to their rapid ascendancy and stable continuation. Their cycles were of the order of 1,000 years, and the transitions from their predecessors shared similar patterns: revelation, obscurity, persecution, promulgation, acceptance, advancement, decay, and eventual replacement. This pattern has now undergone a transition of far greater power than ever before, one that has replaced not only the most-recent cycle of that pattern but the entire pattern itself. The energies required for such a transition are staggeringly greater than those of the past transitions in the cyclic process of the past.

Given this demand for energy of change, the outpouring of information from the Revelation driving that change is commensurate. More detail on the third observation made above clarifies the situation. The Holy Qur’an was one single volume of 6300 verses. Then in one lightning stroke came the Báb, of whose revealed flood of divine knowledge Bahá’u’lláh Himself writes:

“… the verses which have rained from this Cloud of divine mercy have been so abundant that none hath yet been able to estimate their number. A score of volumes are now available. How many still remain beyond our reach! How many have been plundered and have fallen into the hands of the enemy, the fate of which none knoweth.”[2]

The Báb Himself clarified the scale of His own work, referring to Himself in the third person:

“Now, following His manifestation, although He hath, up to the present, revealed no less than five hundred thousand verses on different subjects, behold what calumnies are uttered, so unseemly that the pen is stricken with shame at the mention of them. But if all men were to observe the ordinances of God no sadness would befall that heavenly Tree.”[3]

The rampant destruction of the works of the Báb by the forces of opposition spent its force before the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh entered our world. A paramount consequence of this process was that even from its earliest gleams in the darkness of the Síyáh-Chál, the vast outpouring of Bahá’u’lláh’s Revelation found its way from its Author into the entire planetary human world, in written form, within the span of little more than a century. In reviewing the content of Bahá’u’lláh’s Revelation, Shoghi Effendi writes:

“With this book [Epistle to the Son of the Wolf], revealed about one year prior to His ascension, the prodigious achievement as author of a hundred volumes, repositories of the priceless pearls of His Revelation, may be said to have practically terminated—volumes replete with unnumbered exhortations, revolutionizing principles, world-shaping laws and ordinances, dire warnings and portentous prophecies, with soul-uplifting prayers and meditations, illuminating commentaries and interpretations, impassioned discourses and homilies, all interspersed with either addresses or references to kings, to emperors and to ministers, of both the East and the West, to ecclesiastics of divers denominations, and to leaders in the intellectual, political, literary, mystical, commercial and humanitarian spheres of human activity.”[4]

The unleashing of the forces of this supreme Revelation has already revolutionized our existence many times over, accelerating our world into a period of transformation so rapid and profound that none of us can embrace the span of its meaning at such an early stage. Stabilizing, enforcing, and facilitating this transformation is the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh.

At the direct, immediate level we have the Lesser Covenant, addressing the conferring of authority upon Bahá’u’lláh’s passing. In the Kitáb-i-Aqdas (The Most Holy Book), Bahá’u’lláh writes:

“When the ocean of My presence hath ebbed and the Book of My Revelation is ended, turn your faces towards Him Whom God hath purposed, Who hath branched from this Ancient Root.”[5]

More specifically, Bahá’u’lláh wrote His Will and Testament, the Kitáb-i-Ahd (Book of the Covenant), which vests authority in the Most Great Branch, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá:

“The Will of the divine Testator is this: It is incumbent upon the Aghsán, the Afnán and My Kindred to turn, one and all, their faces towards the Most Mighty Branch. Consider that which We have revealed in Our Most Holy Book: ‘When the ocean of My presence hath ebbed and the Book of My Revelation is ended, turn your faces toward Him Whom God hath purposed, Who hath branched from this Ancient Root.’ The object of this sacred verse is none other except the Most Mighty Branch [‘Abdu’l‑Bahá].”[6]

These key documents and their clear provisions are unprecedented in religious history. A rich historical, academic, and descriptive account of the Lesser Covenant is to be recommended: 
“The Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh”, by Adib Taherzadeh, which includes copies of both the Kitáb-i-Ahd and the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and addresses the entire progression of the Covenant from the coming of the Báb through the establishment of today’s Bahá’í Institutions.

At the broadest level is the Greater Covenant between God and humanity, of which the Báb writes:

“The Lord of the universe hath never raised up a prophet nor hath He sent down a Book unless He hath established His covenant with all men, calling for their acceptance of the next Revelation and of the next Book; inasmuch as the outpourings of His bounty are ceaseless and without limit.”[7]

To conclude this inadequate glimpse of the splendor of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant, the reader is invited to explore the sources listed here, many of which lead to others of equal or greater value. One inspiring, illuminating, and insightful starting-point is the opening series of passages in “Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh”, translated by Shoghi Effendi.

Notes:
[1] No. 1558 Lights of Guidance: A Bahá’í Reference File -Compiled by Helen Bassett Hornby
[2] The “Kitab-i-Iqan,” pp. 182-3
[3] “Selections From the Writings of the Báb,” pp. 96-97
[4] Shoghi Effendi, “God Passes By,” pp. 216-220″
[5] “The Kitáb-i-Aqdas,” Bahá’u’lláh
[6] “KITÁB-I-‘AHD (Book of the Covenant),” Bahá’u’lláh
[7] “Selections from the Writings of the Báb,” p. 87

Segment 9: He Whom God Shall Make Manifest: (Bahá’u’lláh fulfills the Báb’s Covenant) – by Dana Paxson

He Whom God Shall Make Manifest.pdf

The Báb in His Writings made certain that His Covenant concerning Bahá’u’lláh is plainly and clearly asserted for all. In just the single compilation of His works translated authoritatively into English, “Selections from the Writings of the Báb”, the reader finds no fewer than 76 occurrences of the phrase “Whom God shall make manifest”; how many more such mentions must have permeated the Báb’s overall Revelation! Other forms of the phrase also appear in the compilation, most notably the very first Tablet in the book, which begins:

“A TABLET ADDRESSED TO ‘HIM WHO WILL BE MADE MANIFEST’

“This is an epistle from this lowly servant to the All-Glorious Lord — He Who hath been aforetime and will be hereafter made manifest. Verily He is the Most Manifest, the Almighty. In the name of the Sovereign Lord, the Lord of Power.”[1]

It is followed by this Tablet of the Báb, quoted in full here.

“A SECOND TABLET ADDRESSED TO ‘HIM WHO WILL BE MADE MANIFEST’

“May the glances of Him Whom God shall make manifest illumine this letter at the primary school.
HE IS THE MOST GLORIOUS.
HE is God, no God is there but Him, the Almighty, the Best-Beloved. All that are in the heavens and on the earth and whatever lieth between them are His. Verily He is the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting.

“This is a letter from God, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting, unto God, the Almighty, the Best-Beloved, to affirm that the Bayán and such as bear allegiance to it are but a present from me unto Thee and to express my undoubting faith that there is no God but Thee, that the kingdoms of Creation and Revelation are Thine, that no one can attain anything save by Thy power and that He Whom Thou hast raised up is but Thy servant and Thy Testimony. I, indeed, beg to address Him Whom God shall make manifest, by Thy leave in these words: ‘Shouldst Thou dismiss the entire company of the followers of the Bayán in the Day of the Latter Resurrection by a mere sign of Thy finger even while still a suckling babe, Thou wouldst indeed be praised in Thy indication. And though no doubt is there about it, do Thou grant a respite of nineteen years as a token of Thy favor so that those who have embraced this Cause may be graciously rewarded by Thee. Thou art verily the Lord of grace abounding. Thou dost indeed suffice every created thing and causest it to be independent of all things, while nothing in the heavens or on the earth or that which lieth between them can ever suffice Thee.’ Verily Thou art the Self-Sufficient, the All-Knowing; Thou art indeed potent over all things.”[2]

These two Tablets of the Báb are replete with measures with which the truth of Bahá’u’lláh’s Revelation can be affirmed. In the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Bahá’u’lláh refers back clearly to this second Tablet’s mention of the “primary school”, bestowing its full, true meaning for the reader:

“O Pen of the Most High! Move Thou upon the Tablet at the bidding of Thy Lord, the Creator of the Heavens, and tell of the time when He Who is the Dayspring of Divine Unity purposed to direct His steps towards the School of Transcendent Oneness; haply the pure in heart may gain thereby a glimpse, be it as small as a needle’s eye, of the mysteries of Thy Lord, the Almighty, the Omniscient, that lie concealed behind the veils. Say: We, indeed, set foot within the School of inner meaning and explanation when all created things were unaware. We saw the words sent down by Him Who is the All-Merciful, and We accepted the verses of God, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting, which He [the Báb] presented unto Us, and hearkened unto that which He had solemnly affirmed in the Tablet. This We assuredly did behold. And We assented to His wish through Our behest, for truly We are potent to command.”
[3]

Thus the Twin Manifestations bind their Dispensations together inseparably. Often we readers find challenging the ways in which the Manifestations of God refer to one another and to God, so that when the Báb writes “This is a letter from God, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting, unto God, the Almighty, the Best-Beloved…”, and Bahá’u’lláh writes in response over the arch of time and place “We accepted the verses of God, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting, which He [the Báb] presented unto Us”, we are pressed to realize that our distinctions of station and revelation all fail to embrace the incomparably-rich and unifying truths of the divine realms beyond our human comprehension.

Many passages from the Writings of the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh reinforce and demonstrate the deep, unbreakable bond that characterizes and energizes this glorious Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh. Perhaps one of the simplest and clearest statements comes to us from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá:

“… Bahá’u’lláh declared the Báb’s mission to be true and promulgated His teachings. The Báb announced that the greater Manifestation would take place after Him and called the Promised One ‘Him Whom God shall make manifest,’ saying that nine years later the reality of His own mission would become apparent. In His writings He stated that in the ninth year this expected One would be known; in the ninth year they would attain to all glory and felicity; in the ninth year they would advance rapidly. Between Bahá’u’lláh and the Báb there was communication privately. The Báb wrote a letter containing three hundred and sixty derivatives of the root Baha. The Báb was martyred in Tabriz; and Bahá’u’lláh, exiled into Iraq in 1852, announced Himself in Baghdad. For the Persian government had decided that as long as He remained in Persia the peace of the country would be disturbed; therefore, He was exiled in the expectation that Persia would become quiet. His banishment, however, produced the opposite effect. New tumult arose, and the mention of His greatness and influence spread everywhere throughout the country. The proclamation of His manifestation and mission was made in Baghdad. He called His friends together there and spoke to them of God.”[4]

A simple pattern emerges. From 1844 to 1853 – nine years passed from the Declaration of the Báb to the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh as He experienced it in the Síyáh-Chál (from the Báb, as cited by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá: “He stated that in the ninth year this expected One would be known”). From 1844 to 1863 – nineteen years passed from the Declaration of the Báb to the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh as He announced it in the Garden of Ridvan: “a respite of nineteen years” (from the Báb). No reinterpretation of years is necessary here. The Twin Manifestations of God stand together at the entrance to a world made new, as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá tells us:

“This is a new cycle of human power. All the horizons of the world are luminous, and the world will become indeed as a garden and a paradise. It is the hour of unity of the sons of men and of the drawing together of all races and all classes. You are loosed from ancient superstitions which have kept men ignorant, destroying the foundation of true humanity.

“The gift of God to this enlightened age is the knowledge of the oneness of mankind and of the fundamental oneness of religion. War shall cease between nations, and by the will of God the Most Great Peace shall come; the world will be seen as a new world, and all men will live as brothers.”[5]

[1] Selections from the Writings of the Báb
Compiled by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice and translated by Habib Taherzadeh with the assistance of a Committee at the Bahá’í World Centre
http://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/the-bab/selections-writings-bab/selections-writings-bab.pdf?40a466b1

[2] Ibid.

[3] The Kitáb-i-Aqdas K175
Author: Bahá’u’lláh Source: Bahá’í World Centre, 1992 edition

[4] Bahá’í World Faith—Selected Writings of Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Section Only)
Author: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Source: US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1976 edition Pages: 449

[5] Abdu’l-Bahá in London
Author: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Source: UK Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1982 reprint Pages: 127

Segment 8: The Triumph of the Covenant of the Báb -by Rick Schaut

The Triumph of the Covenant of the Báb.pdf

`Abdu’l-Bahá tells us that unity is the single purpose for which all of the Prophets have been sent down to earth:

‘For a single purpose were the Prophets, each and all, sent down to earth; for this was Christ made manifest, for this did Bahá’u’lláh raise up the call of the Lord: that the world of man should become the world of God, this nether realm the Kingdom, this darkness light, this satanic wickedness all the virtues of heaven—and unity, fellowship and love be won for the whole human race, that the organic unity should reappear and the bases of discord be destroyed and life everlasting and grace everlasting become the harvest of mankind.'[1]

Unity is the purpose. The Covenant is the instrument for achieving that purpose. In order to obtain a deeper appreciation of how the Covenant achieves that purpose, it’s helpful to reflect on efforts that people have made in order to subvert the Covenant. To that end, we can turn our attention to the most prominent attempt to create schism among the followers of the Báb.

Shoghi Effendi noted that the Báb never appointed a successor. Rather, the Báb nominated Mírzá Yahyá, Bahá’u’lláh’s half brother, “who would act solely as a figure-head pending the manifestation of the Promised One.”[2] Some 14 years younger than Bahá’u’lláh, Mírzá Yahyá came under His care and protection. Growing up in Bahá’u’lláh’s shadow, Mírzá Yahyá came to both resent and envy the esteem with which Bábís regarded Bahá’u’lláh.

From the days of Bahá’u’lláh’s banishment to Baghdad until His further exile to Adrianople, Mírzá Yahyá, committed a number of deplorable acts too numerous to mention here. For our present purpose, it’s sufficient to note that the fortunes of the Faith of the Báb declined very rapidly due to Mírzá Yahyá’s behavior. Despite the perfidy of Mírzá Yahyá’s behavior, Bahá’u’lláh sought to conceal Mírzá Yahyá’s rebellion. For both Mírzá Yahyá’s sake and to maintain unity among the Bábís, Bahá’u’lláh avoided confrontation and conflict. Despite Bahá’u’lláh’s best efforts to dampen the impact of Mírzá Yahyá’s conduct, the conflict came to a head during the spring of 1866. Mírzá Yahyá orchestrated two attempts on Bahá’u’lláh’s life, disseminated a variety of calumnies regarding Bahá’u’lláh and sowed the seeds of rebellion against the Cause of God.

Though Bahá’u’lláh had publicly declared His Station in Baghdad and the many Tablets that Bahá’u’lláh revealed thereafter, Bahá’u’lláh had yet to formally declare His Station to Mírzá Yahyá. Bahá’u’lláh revealed the Súrih-i-Amr (Súrih of Command), and entrusted it to His amanuensis, Mírzá Áqá Ján, with the instructions that it be delivered to Mírzá Yahyá. He was further instructed to read the Table aloud to Mírzá Yahyá, and demand a conclusive reply. Mírzá Yahyá demurred, saying that he needed a few days of meditation before he could reply. The next day, he sent message to Bahá’u’lláh saying that he received a divine Revelation, and that it was incumbent upon all to obey him. This claim brought about a split between the followers of Bahá’u’lláh and Mírzá Yahyá–a split that Bahá’u’lláh referred to as the “Most Great Separation.”

Bahá’u’lláh changed his residence, and remained sequestered from contact with anyone but His immediate family and closest companions. During this sequestration, Mírzá Yahyá and his confederates sent a number of messages to the believers in Persia, thus announcing his own rebellion to the followers of the Báb. It was at this time that the followers of Bahá’u’lláh became known as Bahá’ís.

The dissension of Mírzá Yahyá and his companions continued until the fall of 1876 when Mírzá Yahyá’s chief henchman, Siyyid Muhammad-í-Isfahaní, promoted the idea of a public confrontation between Mírzá Yahyá and Bahá’u’lláh. This kind of challenge was known in Islam as a Muhábilih, and dates back to the days of Muhammad and His disputation with the unbelievers of Najrán and Medina. Coming face-to-face, it is said, would enable the power of the truth to overcome the falsehoods of the ungodly.

Owing to Bahá’u’lláh’s sequestration and the many times that He had attempted to conceal the ignominious acts of Mírzá Yahyá, neither Siyyid Muhammad nor Mírzá Yahyá ever contemplated the idea that Bahá’u’lláh would accept such a challenge. They mistook Bahá’u’lláh’s mercy and forgiveness as signs of weakness.

Shoghi Effendi gives this account of the situation:

‘A certain Mír Muḥammad, a Bábí of Shíráz, greatly resenting alike the claims and the cowardly seclusion of Mírzá Yaḥyá, succeeded in forcing Siyyid Muḥammad to induce him to meet Bahá’u’lláh face to face, so that a discrimination might be publicly effected between the true and the false. Foolishly assuming that his illustrious Brother would never countenance such a proposition, Mírzá Yaḥyá appointed the mosque of Sulṭán Salím as the place for their encounter. No sooner had Bahá’u’lláh been informed of this arrangement than He set forth, on foot, in the heat of midday, and accompanied by this same Mír Muḥammad, for the afore-mentioned mosque, which was situated in a distant part of the city, reciting, as He walked, through the streets and markets, verses, in a voice and in a manner that greatly astonished those who saw and heard Him.

‘“O Muḥammad!”, are some of the words He uttered on that memorable occasion, as testified by Himself in a Tablet, “He Who is the Spirit hath, verily, issued from His habitation, and with Him have come forth the souls of God’s chosen ones and the realities of His Messengers. Behold, then, the dwellers of the realms on high above Mine head, and all the testimonies of the Prophets in My grasp. Say: Were all the divines, all the wise men, all the kings and rulers on earth to gather together, I, in very truth, would confront them, and would proclaim the verses of God, the Sovereign, the Almighty, the All-Wise. I am He Who feareth no one, though all who are in heaven and all who are on earth rise up against me.… This is Mine hand which God hath turned white for all the worlds to behold. This is My staff; were We to cast it down, it would, of a truth, swallow up all created things.”'[3]

Mír Muḥammad was sent to the mosque to announce Bahá’u’lláh’s impending arrival only to discover that Mírzá Yahyá, claiming the imposition of unforeseen circumstances, would not appear at the confrontation. Hearing this, Bahá’u’lláh returned to His house and revealed a Tablet that gave an account of these events and specified the time of the postponed interview. He fixed His seal to this tablet, and gave it to Nabíl-í-Zarandí. Nabíl, in turn, was instructed to deliver this Tablet to Siyyid Muhammad, and demand, in reply, a similar document from Mírzá Yahyá pledging that the latter’s failure to appear at the tryst would affirm the falsity of his claims. Siyyid Muhammad assiduously avoided even accepting this Tablet.

Shoghi Effendi relates, ‘That undelivered Tablet, Nabíl, recording twenty-three years later this historic episode in his chronicle, affirms was still in his possession, “as fresh as the day on which the Most Great Branch had penned it, and the seal of the Ancient Beauty had sealed and adorned it,” a tangible and irrefutable testimony to Bahá’u’lláh’s established ascendancy over a routed opponent.'[4]

The intense anguish that these events brought to Bahá’u’lláh is accounted in a number of His Tablets. At no point should we think that Bahá’u’lláh viewed His ascendancy over Mírzá Yahyá with any form of pride. Such was Bahá’u’lláh’s love for His brother that He continued to exhort him to set aside his ambitions and return to the Cause.

In the Kitab-í-Aqdás, Bahá’u’lláh affirms:

‘Say: O source of perversion! Abandon thy willful blindness, and speak forth the truth amidst the people. I swear by God that I have wept for thee to see thee following thy selfish passions and renouncing Him Who fashioned thee and brought thee into being… Turn unto Him, and fear not because of thy deeds. He, in truth, forgiveth whomsoever He desireth as a bounty on His part; no God is there but Him, the Ever-Forgiving, the All-Bounteous. We admonish thee solely for the sake of God. Shouldst thou accept this counsel, thou wilt have acted to thine own behoof; and shouldst thou reject it, thy Lord, verily, can well dispense with thee, and with all those who, in manifest delusion, have followed thee.'[5]

On the day that Bahá’u’lláh was banished to `Akká, Mírzá Yahyá was banished to the island of Cyprus. Unable to convince a single resident of that island to join his ranks, Mírzá Yahyá spent the remainder of his days as a pensioner of the Ottoman and later British governments. Denied even British citizenship, Mírzá Yahyá eventually passed away in 1912 having witnessed the extent to which all of his efforts had come to naught.

`Abdu’l-Bahá compares God’s Covenant to the ocean.[6] The Covenant casts ashore those who seek to violate it as if they are foam on the surface of the ocean. While storms and tempests may perturb the ocean’s surface, in its depths the ocean carries on unabated.

‘Say: God sufficeth all things above all things, and nothing in the heavens or in the earth but God sufficeth. Verily, He is in Himself the Knower, the Sustainer, the Omnipotent.'[7]

Notes:

[1] `Abdu’l-Bahá, “Selections from the Writings of `Abdu’l-Bahá, p31 (http://www.bahai.org/r/646280805)

[2] Shoghi Effendi, “God Passes By”, pp 28-9 (http://www.bahai.org/r/628301329)

[3] Ibid, pp 168-9, (http://www.bahai.org/r/978180645)

[4] Ibid, p 169, (http://www.bahai.org/r/978180645)

[5] Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitab-í-Aqdás, paragraph 184 (http://www.bahai.org/r/487734557)

[6] `Abdu’l-Bahá, “Selections from the Writings of `Abdu’l-Bahá, pp 210-1 (http://www.bahai.org/r/738540448)

[7] The Báb, Bahá’í Prayers (http://www.bahaiprayers.org/assist4.htm)

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