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 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)

Segment 7: The Covenant of the Báb -by Rick Schaut

The Covenant of the Báb.pdf

In every Day, in every Age, the Prophets of the past have had some form of Covenant with their followers regarding the coming of yet another Prophet. Such a Covenant, writes Shoghi Effendi, “had existed, under various forms, with varying degrees of emphasis, had always been couched in veiled language, and had been alluded to in cryptic prophecies, in abstruse allegories, in unauthenticated traditions, and in the fragmentary and obscure passages of the sacred Scriptures.”[1]

The Báb’s Covenant, Shoghi Effendi assures us, is different. While not contained within a single tablet or document, the Báb’s Covenant was, nonetheless, explicit. The Báb denoted to the Promised One using the phrase, “Him Whom God shall make manifest,” and references to Him Whom God shall make manifest are scattered throughout the Persian Bayán. The Báb’s commentary on the Surih of Joseph, the first chapter of which was revealed to Mulla Husayn, asserts that the Surih of Joseph is actually a prophetic text that, among other things, presages the life of Him Whom God shall make manifest.[2]

Space does not permit a full discussion of all of the passages in the Báb’s Writings that mention Him Whom God shall make manifest. We can, however, make brief mention of the passages that refer directly to Bahá’u’lláh by name, and those that denote both the date of Bahá’u’lláh’s initial revelation in the Síyáh Chál, in August of 1852, and His public declaration in Baghdád in April of 1863.

Regarding the dates, Shoghi Effendi quotes several passages in the following paragraph in God Passes By:

‘“In the year nine,” He, referring to the date of the advent of the promised Revelation, has explicitly written, “ye shall attain unto all good.” “In the year nine, ye will attain unto the presence of God.” And again: “After Ḥin (68)* a Cause shall be given unto you which ye shall come to know.” “Ere nine will have elapsed from the inception of this Cause,” He more particularly has stated, “the realities of the created things will not be made manifest. All that thou hast as yet seen is but the stage from the moist germ until We clothed it with flesh. Be patient, until thou beholdest a new creation. Say: ‘Blessed, therefore, be God, the most excellent of Makers!’” “Wait thou,” is His statement to ‘Aẓím, “until nine will have elapsed from the time of the Bayán. Then exclaim: ‘Blessed, therefore, be God, the most excellent of Makers!’” “Be attentive,” He, referring in a remarkable passage to the year nineteen, has admonished, “from the inception of the Revelation till the number of Vahíd (19).” “The Lord of the Day of Reckoning,” He, even more explicitly, has stated, “will be manifested at the end of Vahíd (19) and the beginning of eighty (1280 A.H.).”'[3]

Note that the years nine and nineteen are reckoned according to the Bádí Calendar, which commences with year 1 on the vernal equinox of the year 1844 in the Gregorian Calendar.

Of the passages that reference Bahá’u’lláh directly, two are particularly interesting. The first follows an incident that occurred during the Conference at Badasht. The Conference at Badasht was a gathering of the Báb’s followers and its primary purpose was to signify a break with the laws of the Dispensation of Muhammad. This was a momentous occasion in Bahá’í history worthy of its own discussion. For our purposes, however, we can note that it was at this conference that Bahá’u’lláh gave names to several of the prominent followers of the Báb. We can turn to Nabil’s Narrative for details:

‘Those who had gathered in Badasht were eighty-one in number, all of whom, from the time of their arrival to the day of their dispersion, were the guests of Bahá’u’lláh. Every day, He revealed a Tablet which Mírzá Sulaymán-i-Núrí chanted in the presence of the assembled believers. Upon each He bestowed a new name. He Himself was henceforth designated by the name of Bahá; upon the Last Letter of the Living was conferred the appellation of Quddús, and to Qurratu’l-‘Ayn was given the title of Táhirih. To each of those who had convened at Badasht a special Tablet was subsequently revealed by the Báb, each of whom He addressed by the name recently conferred upon him. When, at a later time, a number of the more rigid and conservative among her fellow-disciples chose to accuse Táhirih of indiscreetly rejecting the time-honoured traditions of the past, the Báb, to whom these complaints had been addressed, replied in the following terms: “What am I to say regarding her whom the Tongue of Power and Glory has named Táhirih [the Pure One]?”'[4]

The Báb’s reference to Bahá’u’lláh as “the Tongue of Power and Glory” is profoundly significant in that it directly relates Bahá’u’lláh to the Word of God.

The other passage to consider comes from the third chapter of the Persian Bayán, where the Báb states:

“Well is it with him who fixeth his gaze upon the Order of Bahá’u’lláh and rendereth thanks unto his Lord! For He will assuredly be made manifest. God hath indeed irrevocably ordained it in the Bayán.”[5]

This remarkable passage presages the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh itself. We should note that the word “Order” here wasn’t always thought to refer to the institutions that Bahá’u’lláh would establish. The Persian language has no similar construct to the way capitalization denotes significance in the English language. So, until Shoghi Effendi capitalized the word “Order,” people generally thought that this passage merely referred to Bahá’u’lláh’s literary style.[6] The full significance of Shoghi Effendi’s interpretation of this passage is beyond the scope of our purpose here, but it will certainly become the subject of future discussions of the Bahá’í Covenant.

We’ve discussed the references to Him Whom God shall make manifest as they pertain to the Báb’s Covenant, but we haven’t discussed the actual terms of the Báb’s Covenant. We would be remiss to leave that out, because this, too, is a significant difference between the Báb’s Covenant and those that have preceded it. It is the first time that a Prophet’s expectations of His followers have been made so explicit.

Fortunately, the terms of the Báb’s are very simple, and can be summarized by the following words that the Báb addressed to one of his most learned, influential and eloquent followers:

‘“By the righteousness of Him Whose power causeth the seed to germinate and Who breatheth the spirit of life into all things, were I to be assured that in the day of His manifestation thou wilt deny Him, I would unhesitatingly disown thee and repudiate thy faith…. If, on the other hand, I be told that a Christian, who beareth no allegiance to My Faith, will believe in Him, the same will I regard as the apple of Mine Eye.”'[7]

Thus, the Báb made it clear that one thing, and only one thing, would fulfill our obligations to His Covenant: recognition and acceptance of Him Whom God shall make manifest.

Notes:

[1] Shoghi Effendi, “God Passes By”, p 27 (http://www.bahai.org/r/671696049)
[2] Ibid. p 23 (http://www.bahai.org/r/488745356)
[3] Ibid. p 29 (http://www.bahai.org/r/428008482)
[4] Dawn-breakers, p 293 (http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/nz/DB/db-35.html)
[5] Quoted in Shoghi Effendi, “The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh”, p 147 (http://www.bahai.org/r/584584551)
[6] David Hoffman, essay “Shoghi Effendi, Expounder of the Word of God” (http://bahaitalks.blogspot.com/2014/10/shoghi-effendi-expounder-of-word-of-god.html)
[7] Quoted in Shoghi Effendi, “The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh”, p 101 (http://www.bahai.org/r/776389441)

* … His Cause will be made known after Hin.
According to the Abjad notation, the numerical value of the word “Hin” is 68. It was in the year 1268 A.H. (1852 A.D.) that Bahá’u’lláh, while confined in the Siyah-Chal of Tihran received the first intimations of His Divine Mission. Of this He hinted in the odes which He revealed in that year. (~Shoghi Effendi, “The Dawn-Breakers,” p. 18)

Segment 6: The Relationship Between the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh – by Rick Schaut

The Relationship Between the Bab and Baha’u’llah.pdf

The Báb and Bahá’u’lláh were contemporaries. This unprecedented confluence of the Twin Manifestations of God affords us a unique opportunity to explore how these two Luminaries related to One Another. Their devotion to Each Other, the manner in which They addressed Each Other and Their deference to Each Other can give us insights into the Station of a Manifestation of God.

The earliest episode we might examine occurs as The Báb entrusts several of his early followers with a number of tasks. To Mulla Husayn He gave a scroll wrapped in fine cloth, addressing him with these words:

“Grieve not that you have not been chosen to accompany Me on My pilgrimage to Hijáz. I shall, instead, direct your steps to that city which enshrines a Mystery of such transcendent holiness as neither Hijáz nor Shíráz can hope to rival. My hope is that you may, by the aid of God, be enabled to remove the veils from the eyes of the wayward and to cleanse the minds of the malevolent.”[1]

Here, “Hijáz” is a reference to Muhammad and “Shíráz” is a reference to The Báb Himself, and “that city” refers to Tehrán. The Báb’s instructions included a number of stops along the way, all of which are detailed in history texts. We’re interested in the events that occurred upon his arrival in that city.

Mulla Husayn encountered  Mulla Muhammad-i-Mu’allim, who later became a Babi, and began to enquire as to whether or not a Son of the illustrious Mirza Buzurg resided there. Upon receiving an answer in the affirmative and enquiring as to the qualities of this Son, Mulla Husayn gave the entrusted scroll to Mulla Muhammad and asked that it be delivered into Baha’u’llah’s hands. Mulla Muhammad describes what happened:

“Unfolding the scroll, He [Baha’u’llah] glanced at its contents and began to read aloud to us certain of its passages. I sat enraptured as I listened to the sound of His voice and the sweetness of its melody. He had read a page of the scroll when, turning to His brother, He said: “Músá, what have you to say? Verily I say, whoso believes in the Qur’án and recognises its Divine origin, and yet hesitates, though it be for a moment, to admit that these soul-stirring words are endowed with the same regenerating power, has most assuredly erred in his judgment and has strayed far from the path of justice.” He spoke no more. Dismissing me from His presence, He charged me to take to Mullá Husayn, as a gift from Him, a loaf of Russian sugar and a package of tea, and to convey to him the expression of His appreciation and love.”[2]

At that time, Russian sugar and tea were rare delicacies in Persia.

Nabil-i-Zarandi, after having chronicled the early days of The Báb’s Ministry offers his own summary of this relationship:

“The Báb, whose trials and sufferings had preceded, in almost every case, those of Bahá’u’lláh, had offered Himself to ransom His Beloved from the perils that beset that precious Life; whilst Bahá’u’lláh, on His part, unwilling that He who so greatly loved Him should be the sole Sufferer, shared at every turn the cup that had touched His lips. Such love no eye has ever beheld, nor has mortal heart conceived such mutual devotion. If the branches of every tree were turned into pens, and all the seas into ink, and earth and heaven rolled into one parchment, the immensity of that love would still remain unexplored, and the depths of that devotion unfathomed.”[3]

Dr. Nader Saiedi, in “Logos and Civilization,” notes that in one of His Writings, Bahá’u’lláh,

“refers to the laws of the Bayán which encourage refinement in all things, living in the best houses with the best furniture, wearing the best clothes, using the best perfumes, eating the best foods, and which allow more than two thousand types of food in feasts organized to honor the Promised One. As Bahá’u’lláh says, the explicit purpose of the Báb in revealing all these laws was to ensure that the eyes of the Promised One would never gaze upon unpleasant things and that He would never become subject to hardship and suffering.”[4]

The Báb knew that Bahá’u’lláh would be living amongst the Bábís, but that they would not fully apprehend His Station until Bahá’u’lláh revealed that station Himself. These laws of the Bayan form a part of The Báb’s Lesser Covenant, a topic that we will take up in our next presentation on the Covenant.

Notes:
[1] “The Dawnbreakers: Nabil’s Narrative,” p 96 http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/nz/DB/db-22.html
[2] “The Dawnbreakers: Nabil’s Narrative,” pp 106-7 http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/nz/DB/db-23.html
[3] “The Dawnbreakers: Nabil’s Narrative,” pp 372-3 http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/nz/DB/db-38.html
[4] “Logos and Civilization,” p 208 online text not available

Segment 5: The Station and Claims of the Bab – By Rick Schaut

The Station and Claims of the Bab.pdf

On the evening of the 23rd of May, 1844, in a modest house in Shiraz, Persia, a Muslim cleric met with a Merchant of that city. The cleric, Mulla Husayn Bushrui, was a member of the Shaykhi sect established by Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsa’i and led by Sayyid Kazim-i-Rashti. Members of the Shaykhi sect believed in the imminent appearance the Promised Qá’im (He Who Ariseth) of Islam. Upon Sayyid Kazim’s passing, the members dispersed in search of this Promised Qá’im.

Mulla Husayn’s account of that extraordinary meeting can be found in chapter 3 of “The Dawnbreakers.” Mulla Husayn had expected that the Promised Qá’im would reveal a commentary on a chapter of the Qur’an known as the Surih of Joseph. Mulla Husayn describes what happened:

“He took up His pen, and with incredible rapidity revealed the entire Surih of Mulk, the first chapter of His commentary on the Surih of Joseph. The overpowering effect of the manner in which He wrote was heightened by the gentle intonation of His voice which accompanied His writing. Not for one moment did He interrupt the flow of the verses which streamed from His pen. Not once did He pause till the Surih of Mulk was finished. I sat enraptured by the magic of His voice and the sweeping force of His revelation.”[1]

That Merchant was Sayyid Ali Muhammad-Shirazi, known as The Báb, and that Surih of Mulk is the first chapter of a work known as the Qayyumu’l-Asma’. The Qayyumu’l-Asma’ is unique among religious literature of the day. It follows the structure of the Qur’an itself, and many chapters begin with disconnected letters in as do chapters in the Qur’an. These features effectively signal that the Author is claiming a station equivalent to that of Muhammad Himself.[2]

The Qayyumu’l-Asma’ hints at the Báb’s station and claim, but He makes his claim explicit in a number of ways. One notable case is the incident of the Báb’s examination by notable divines in Tabriz. The trial occurred in July of 1848. As is often the case, accounts of that event differ in a number of details, but they all agree on what the Báb had to say about His claims:

“I am, I am, I am, the promised One! I am the One whose name you have for a thousand years invoked, at whose mention you have risen, whose advent you have longed to witness, and the hour of whose Revelation you have prayed God to hasten. Verily I say, it is incumbent upon the peoples of both the East and the West to obey My word and to pledge allegiance to My person.”[3]

In a Tablet addressed to Muhammad Shah, The Báb exclaims:

“THE substance wherewith God hath created Me is not the clay out of which others have been formed. He hath conferred upon Me that which the worldly-wise can never comprehend, nor the faithful discover … I am one of the sustaining pillars of the Primal Word of God…

“All the keys of heaven God hath chosen to place on My right hand, and all the keys of hell on My left…

“I am the Primal Point from which have been generated all created things. I am the Countenance of God Whose splendour can never be obscured, the Light of God Whose radiance can never fade. Whoso recognizeth Me, assurance and all good are in store for him, and whoso faileth to recognize Me, infernal fire and all evil await him…”[4]

Bahá’u’lláh adds His own testimony:

“No understanding can grasp the nature of His Revelation, nor can any knowledge comprehend the full measure of His Faith. All sayings are dependent upon His sanction, and all things stand in need of His Cause. All else save Him are created by His command, and move and have their being through His law. He is the Revealer of the divine mysteries, and the Expounder of the hidden and ancient wisdom…

“Behold from this utterance how great and lofty is His station! His rank excelleth that of all the Prophets, and His Revelation transcendeth the comprehension and understanding of all their chosen ones. A Revelation, of which the Prophets of God, His saints and chosen ones, have either not been informed, or which, in pursuance of God’s inscrutable Decree, they have not disclosed…”[5]

In that same passage, Bahá’u’lláh refers to an Islamic tradition regarding the Promised Qá’im, which says that all knowledge is twenty and seven letters of which only the first two had been revealed. The Promised Qá’im would reveal t
he remaining twenty five letters of knowledge.

These are but a few passages of the many in the Baha’i Writings that unequivocally establish that the Báb claimed to be, and is recognized by Baha’is as, the Divinely ordained forerunner of Bahá’u’lláh and a full Manifestation of God on par with Moses, Jesus, Muhammad and others.

[1] “The Dawnbreakers: Nabil’s Narrative,” p 61 [1970 edition] http://bahai-library.com/books/dawnbreakers/chapters/3.html…
[2] See: http://bahai-library.com/bab_qayyum_asma
[3] “The Dawnbreakrs”, pp 315-6 [1970 edition] http://bahai-library.com/boo…/dawnbreakers/chapters/18.html…
[4] “Selections from the Writings of The Báb”, pp 11-2 http://bahai-library.com/writings/bab/swb/3/sec-5.html
[5] “The Kitab-i-Iqan”, pp 243-4 http://bahai-library.com/bahaullah_kitab_iqan