Segment 17: Bahiyyih Khanum: “The Immortal Heroine” – by Alfredo B. Ancheta

Bahiyyih Khanum: “The Immortal Heroine”.pdf

Part 1 of The Greatest Holy Leaf

“We have elevated thee to the rank of one of the most distinguished among thy sex, and granted thee, in My court, a station such as none other woman hath surpassed.”

(Compilations, Bahiyyih Khanum, p. 3)

“He is the Eternal! This is My testimony for her who hath heard My voice and drawn nigh unto Me. Verily, she is a leaf that hath sprung from this preexistent Root. She hath revealed herself in My name and tasted of the sweet savours of My holy, My wondrous pleasure. At one time We gave her to drink from My honeyed Mouth, at another caused her to partake of My mighty, My luminous Kawthar. Upon her rest the glory of My name and the fragrance of My shining robe.”

(Compilations, Bahiyyih Khanum, p. 2)

“Let these exalted words be thy love-song on the tree of Baha, O thou most holy and resplendent Leaf: ‘God, besides Whom is none other God, the Lord of this world and the next!’ Verily, We have elevated thee to the rank of one of the most distinguished among thy sex, and granted thee, in My court, a station such as none other woman hath surpassed. Thus have We preferred thee and raised thee above the rest, as a sign of grace from Him Who is the Lord of the throne on high and earth below. We have created thine eyes to behold the light of My countenance, thine ears to hearken unto the melody of My words, thy body to pay homage before My throne. Do thou render thanks unto God, thy Lord, the Lord of all the world.”

(Compilations, Bahiyyih Khanum, p. 2)

“How high is the testimony of the Sadratu’l-Muntaha for its leaf; how exalted the witness of the Tree of Life unto its fruit! Through My remembrance of her a fragrance laden with the perfume of musk hath been diffused; well is it with him that hath inhaled it and exclaimed: ‘All praise be to Thee, O God, my 4 Lord the most glorious!’ How sweet thy presence before Me; how sweet to gaze upon thy face, to bestow upon thee My loving-kindness, to favour thee with My tender care, to make mention of thee in this, My Tablet — a Tablet which I have ordained as a token of My hidden and manifest grace unto thee.”

(Compilations, Bahiyyih Khanum, p. 3)

Dearly beloved friends:

Moved by an unalterable devotion to the memory of the Greatest Holy Leaf, I feel prompted to share with you, and through you with the concourse of her steadfast lovers throughout the West, these significant passages [1] which I have gleaned from various Tablets revealed in her honour by Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
[1 Included in Sections I and II.]

Impregnated with that love after which the soul of a humanity in travail now hungers, these passages disclose, to the extent that our finite minds can comprehend, the nature of that mystic bond which, on one hand, united her with the Spirit of her almighty Father and, on the other, linked her so closely with her glorious Brother, the perfect Exemplar of that Spirit.

The memory of her who was a pattern of goodness, of a pure and holy life, who was the embodiment of such heavenly virtues as only the privileged inmates of the uppermost chambers in the Abha Paradise can fully appreciate, will long live enshrined in these immortal words — a memory the ennobling influence of which will remain an inspiration and a solace amid the wreckage of a sadly shaken world.

Conscious of the predominating share assumed, in recent years, by the American believers in alleviating the burden which that most exalted Leaf bore so heroically in the evening of her life, I can do no better than entrust into their hands these prized testimonies of the Founder of our Faith and of the Centre of His Covenant. I feel confident that their elected representatives will take whatever measures are required for their prompt and wide circulation among their brethren throughout the West. They will, thereby, be contributing still further to the repayment of the great debt they owe her in the prosecution of a mighty and divinely-appointed task.

(Compilations, Bahiyyih Khanum, p. 57)

Your True Brother,

Shoghi
Haifa, Palestine
JANUARY 14, 1933
(Shared by Marcelina Duldulao, a Baha’i friend who works for Mr. & Mrs. Ali & Violet Nakjavani)

Segment 16: Journeys of Abdu’l-Baha: The Culmination -by Dana Paxson

Journeys of Abdu’l-Baha: The Culmination.pdf

In 1909, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was at last free. In an interview, He told of the climax in 1908 of the Ottoman persecutions aimed at taking His life:

“‘About this time an Italian ship appeared in the harbour sent by order of the Italian Consul. It had been planned that I was to escape on it by night. The Bahá’ís in ‘Akká implored me to go but I sent this message to the captain: ‘The Báb did not run away: Bahá’u’lláh did not run away; I shall not run away, so the ship sailed away after waiting three days and three nights.

‘It was while the Sulṭán’s committee of investigation was homeward bound that the first shell was dropped into ‘Abdu’l-Ḥamíd’s camp and the first gun of freedom was fired into the home of despotism. That was God’s gun,’ said ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, with one of his wonderful smiles.”1

A year later, Sultán ‘Abdu’l-Ḥamíd fell. Shoghi Effendi writes:

“Within a few months, in 1909, the Young Turks obtained from the Shaykhu’l-Islám the condemnation of the Sultán himself who, as a result of further attempts to overthrow the constitution, was finally and ignominiously deposed, deported and made a prisoner of state. On one single day of that same year there were executed no less than thirty-one leading ministers, páshás and officials, among whom were numbered notorious enemies of the Faith.”2

Freed from the galling, painful, restrictive terms of confinement imposed upon Him, ‘Abdu’l- Bahá, then 67 years old and in failing health, soon began an unparalleled series of travels across the western world, unleashing the transforming energies of the Bahá’í Faith to whole continents and nations of a humanity thirsty for its divine sustenance, and responding with complete devotion to this yearning appeal of His Father:

“Oh, how I long to announce unto every spot on the surface of the earth, and to carry to each one of its cities, the glad-tidings of this Revelation—a Revelation to which the heart of Sinai hath been attracted, and in whose name the Burning Bush is calling: ‘Unto God, the Lord of Lords, belong the kingdoms of earth and heaven.’ Verily this is the Day in which both land and sea rejoice at this announcement, the Day for which have been laid up those things which God, through a bounty beyond the ken of mortal mind or heart, hath destined for revelation.”3

Between 1904 and 1906, during His confinement some years before He began His travels, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá gave western readers a preview of what was to come, in the form of a now-revered collection titled “Some Answered Questions”, addressing topics which were to be repeatedly and richly presented during His talks in the many cities and towns He visited. The collection contains 84 separate expositions on a wide range of matters ranging from the influence of the Prophets to the punishment of criminals.

But this preview was barely a token of what was to come. As Shoghi Effendi put it:

“The establishment of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh in the Western Hemisphere—the most outstanding achievement that will forever be associated with ‘Abdu’l‐Bahá’s ministry—had …set in motion such tremendous forces, and been productive of such far-reaching results, as to warrant the active and personal participation of the Center of the Covenant Himself in those epoch-making activities which His Western disciples had, through the propelling power of that Covenant, boldly initiated and were vigorously prosecuting.”4

A detailed account of the Master’s travels in the next few years would far exceed the space of any essay; indeed, such accounts already constitute many volumes. Two collections of great continuing impact in the Western world offer us many talks given by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá during His travels in Europe and America. These were transcribed and translated for posterity. The first is “Paris Talks: Addresses Given by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Paris in 1911-1912”. This book collects 53 addresses delivered at meetings in Paris in October, November, and December of 1911, along with six more addresses delivered in London in 1913. The second is “The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912”. In this book we find 139 talks delivered all across the North American continent between April and December of 1912.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s journey was a staggering, personally-sacrificial, universally-illuminating odyssey, one that demonstrated beyond any doubt the power of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant and the station of its Center. It is utterly potent and deeply poignant:

“‘Abdu’l‐Bahá was at this time broken in health. He suffered from several maladies brought on by the strains and stresses of a tragic life spent almost wholly in exile and imprisonment. He was on the threshold of three-score years and ten. Yet as soon as He was released from His forty- year long captivity, as soon as He had laid the Báb’s body in a safe and permanent resting- place, and His mind was free of grievous anxieties connected with the execution of that priceless Trust, He arose with sublime courage, confidence and resolution to consecrate what little strength remained to Him, in the evening of His life, to a service of such heroic proportions that no parallel to it is to be found in the annals of the first Bahá’í century.”5

One single example of the fullness of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s embrace of His service can be found in an address He gave in New York. In this talk, He spoke concerning the special and distinguishing Teachings revealed by Bahá’u’lláh, among them the oneness of the world of humanity, the individual investigation of truth, the unity of all the religions, the harmony of religion and science, the equality of man and woman, the necessity for universal education, and much more, including the establishment of the Universal House of Justice. But the greatest of all He saved for last:

“As to the most great characteristic of the revelation of Bahá’u’lláh, a specific teaching not given by any of the Prophets of the past: It is the ordination and appointment of the Center of the Covenant. By this appointment and provision He has safeguarded and protected the religion of God against differences and schisms, making it impossible for anyone to create a new sect or faction of belief. To ensure unity and agreement He has entered into a Covenant with all the people of the world, including the interpreter and explainer of His teachings, so that no one may interpret or explain the religion of God according to his own view or opinion and thus create a sect founded upon his individual understanding of the divine Words.”6

Later in His talk, He lays an obligation upon His hearers:

“My purpose is to explain to you that it is your duty to guard the religion of God so that none shall be able to assail it outwardly or inwardly. If you find harmful teachings are being set forth by some individual, no matter who that individual be, even though he should be my own son, know, verily, that I am completely severed from him. If anyone speaks against the Covenant, even though he should be my son, know that I am opposed to him.”7

The world-engulfing horrors of the First World War overwhelmed human attention in the years following the great arc of the Master’s tour through the great realms of the west. A very great work issued from Him during the closing years of that awful war: the Tablets of the Divine Plan.

Over the period of a year between March 26, 1916 and March 8, 1917, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá gave us this masterpiece of the Covenant of God, addressed to the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada. In one of them He mirrors the desire of His Father:

“O that I could travel, even though on foot and in the utmost poverty, to these regions, and, raising the call of “Yá Bahá’u’l-Abhá” in cities, villages, mountains, deserts and oceans, promote the divine teachings! This, alas, I cannot do. How intensely I deplore it! Please God, ye may achieve it.”8

To embrace fuller appreciation of the labors of the Master during this period, we turn again to “God Passes By”:

“The revelation of the Tablets of the Divine Plan, during the somber days of that tragic conflict, had, in the concluding years of ‘Abdu’l‐Bahá’s ministry, invested the members of the leading Bahá’í community in the West—the champions of a future Administrative Order—with a world mission which, in the concluding years of the first Bahá’í century, was to shed deathless glory upon the Faith and its administrative institutions.”9

Bahá’u’lláh’s longing expressed in the Tablet of Carmel and the same longing uttered in the Divine Plan by His Son unleashed the effulgent flow of divine transformation across the whole human world. Nearing the end of His life, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá set forth His unwavering, inspiring guidance as the Center of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant:

“O ye beloved of God, these are days for steadfastness, for firmness and perseverance in the Cause of God. Ye must not focus your attention upon the person of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, for erelong he will bid you farewell. Rather must ye fix your gaze upon the Word of God. … The friends of God must arise with such steadfastness that if, at any moment, a hundred souls like ‘Abdu’l-Bahá become the target for the arrows of affliction, they will not shift or waver in their resolve, their determination, their enkindlement, their devotion and service in the Cause of God. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is himself a servant at the Threshold of the Blessed Beauty and a manifestation of pure and utter servitude at the Threshold of the Almighty. He hath no other station or title, no other rank or power.”10

‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s ascension from this world on November 28, 1921 opened an entire new phase of development for the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh. It also triggered a crisis of transition that was to be resolved through two dynamic, divinely-potent elements: the wise, patient, steadfast guidance of the Greatest Holy Leaf Bahíyyih Khánum, and the Will and Testament left by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Himself, appointing his grandson Shoghi Effendi as the Guardian of the Cause of God.

 

NOTES

1 From “‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London”, Bahá’í Publishing Trust, pp. 118-119. It is also retold in “Stories from the Delight of Hearts”, by Ḥájí Mírzá Ḥaydar-ʻAlí.

2 Shoghi Effendi, “God Passes By”, p. 272.

3 Bahá’u’lláh, “Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh”, from the Lawh-i-Karmíl (Tablet of Carmel).

4 Shoghi Effendi, “God Passes By”, p. 279.

5 ibid.

6 ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, “Promulgation of Universal Peace”, 135.

7 ibid.

8 ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, “Tablets of the Divine Plan”, 7 (“Tablet to the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada”), Para. 7.

9 Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By [Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1957], pp. 405-406

10 ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, “Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá”, 225, pp. 294-295.

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 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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