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Title: Statement on Bahá’u’lláh
Author: Baha'i International Community
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Statement on Bahá’u’lláh


by Baha’i International Community



Edition 1, (September 2006)



                           BAHA’I TERMS OF USE


You have permission to freely make and use copies of the text and any
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Although this blanket permission to reproduce the Content is given freely
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                                 CONTENTS


Baha’i Terms of Use
Preface
BAHÁ’U’LLÁH
Birth of a New Revelation
Exile
The Declaration in the Ridván Garden
“The Changeless Faith of God...”
The Manifestation of God
“An Ever-Advancing Civilization...”
The Day of God
Announcement to the Kings
Arrival in the Holy Land
Religion as Light and Darkness
World Peace
“Not of Mine Own Volition”
The Covenant of God with Humankind



Bahá’í International Community
Office of Public Information
New York



PREFACE


May 29, 1992, marks the centenary of the passing of Bahá’u’lláh. His
vision of humanity as one people and of the earth as a common homeland,
dismissed out of hand by the world leaders to whom it was first enunciated
over a hundred years ago, has today become the focus of human hope.
Equally inescapable is the collapse of moral and social order, which this
same declaration foresaw with awesome clarity.

The occasion has encouraged publication of this brief introduction to
Bahá’u’lláh’s life and work. Prepared at the request of the Universal
House of Justice, trustee of the global undertaking which the events of a
century ago set in motion, it offers a perspective on the feeling of
confidence with which Bahá’ís the world over contemplate the future of our
planet and our race.



BAHÁ’U’LLÁH


As the new millennium approaches, the crucial need of the human race is to
find a unifying vision of the nature of man and society. For the past
century humanity’s response to this impulse has driven a succession of
ideological upheavals that have convulsed our world and that appear now to
have exhausted themselves. The passion invested in the struggle, despite
its disheartening results, testifies to the depth of the need. For,
without a common conviction about the course and direction of human
history, it is inconceivable that foundations can be laid for a global
society to which the mass of humankind can commit themselves.

Such a vision unfolds in the writings of Bahá’u’lláh, the nineteenth
century prophetic figure whose growing influence is the most remarkable
development of contemporary religious history. Born in Persia, November
12, 1817, Bahá’u’lláh(1) began at age 27 an undertaking that has gradually
captured the imagination and loyalty of several million people from
virtually every race, culture, class, and nation on earth. The phenomenon
is one that has no reference points in the contemporary world, but is
associated rather with climactic changes of direction in the collective
past of the human race. For Bahá’u’lláh claimed to be no less than the
Messenger of God to the age of human maturity, the Bearer of a Divine
Revelation that fulfills the promises made in earlier religions, and that
will generate the spiritual nerves and sinews for the unification of the
peoples of the world.

If they were to do nothing else, the effects which Bahá’u’lláh’s life and
writings have already had should command the earnest attention of anyone
who believes that human nature is fundamentally spiritual and that the
coming organization of our planet must be informed by this aspect of
reality. The documentation lies open to general scrutiny. For the first
time in history humanity has available a detailed and verifiable record of
the birth of an independent religious system and of the life of its
Founder. Equally accessible is the record of the response that the new
faith has evoked, through the emergence of a global community which can
already justly claim to represent a microcosm of the human race.(2)

During the earlier decades of this century, this development was
relatively obscure. Bahá’u’lláh’s writings forbid the aggressive
proselytism through which many religious messages have been widely
promulgated. Further, the priority which the Bahá’í community gave to the
establishment of groups at the local level throughout the entire planet
militated against the early emergence of large concentrations of adherents
in any one country or the mobilization of resources required for
large-scale programs of public information. Arnold Toynbee, intrigued by
phenomena that might represent the emergence of a new universal religion,
noted in the 1950s that the Bahá’í Faith was then about as familiar to the
average educated Westerner as Christianity had been to the corresponding
class in the Roman empire during the second century A.D.(3)

In more recent years, as the Bahá’í community’s numbers have rapidly
increased in many countries, the situation has changed dramatically. There
is now virtually no area in the world where the pattern of life taught by
Bahá’u’lláh is not taking root. The respect which the community’s social
and economic development projects are beginning to win in governmental,
academic, and United Nations circles further reinforces the argument for a
detached and serious examination of the impulse behind a process of social
transformation that is, in critical respects, unique in our world.

No uncertainty surrounds the nature of the generating impulse.
Bahá’u’lláh’s writings cover an enormous range of subjects from social
issues such as racial integration, the equality of the sexes, and
disarmament, to those questions that affect the innermost life of the
human soul. The original texts, many of them in His own hand, the others
dictated and affirmed by their author, have been meticulously preserved.
For several decades, a systematic program of translation and publication
has made selections from Bahá’u’lláh’s writings accessible to people
everywhere, in over eight hundred languages.



BIRTH OF A NEW REVELATION


Bahá’u’lláh’s mission began in a subterranean dungeon in Teheran in August
1852. Born into a noble family that could trace its ancestry back to the
great dynasties of Persia’s imperial past, He declined the ministerial
career open to Him in government, and chose instead to devote His energies
to a range of philanthropies which had, by the early 1840s, earned Him
widespread renown as “Father of the Poor.” This privileged existence
swiftly eroded after 1844, when Bahá’u’lláh became one of the leading
advocates of a movement that was to change the course of His country’s
history.

The early nineteenth century was a period of messianic expectations in
many lands. Deeply disturbed by the implications of scientific inquiry and
industrialization, earnest believers from many religious backgrounds
turned to the scriptures of their faiths for an understanding of the
accelerating processes of change. In Europe and America groups like the
Templers and the Millerites believed they had found in the Christian
scriptures evidence supporting their conviction that history had ended and
the return of Jesus Christ was at hand. A markedly similar ferment
developed in the Middle East around the belief that the fulfillment of
various prophecies in the Qur’án and Islamic Traditions was imminent.

By far the most dramatic of these millennialist movements had been the one
in Persia, which had focused on the person and teachings of a young
merchant from the city of Shiraz, known to history as the Báb.(4) For nine
years, from 1844 to 1853, Persians of all classes had been caught up in a
storm of hope and excitement aroused by the Báb’s announcement that the
Day of God was at hand and that He was himself the One promised in Islamic
scripture. Humanity stood, He said, on the threshold of an era that would
witness the restructuring of all aspects of life. New fields of learning,
as yet inconceivable, would permit even the children of the new age to
surpass the most erudite of nineteenth-century scholars. The human race
was called by God to embrace these changes through undertaking a
transformation of its moral and spiritual life. His own mission was to
prepare humanity for the event that lay at the heart of these
developments, the coming of that universal Messenger of God, “He Whom God
will make manifest,” awaited by the followers of all religions.(5)

The claim had evoked violent hostility from the Muslim clergy, who taught
that the process of Divine Revelation had ended with Muḥammad; and that
any assertion to the contrary represented apostasy, punishable by death.
Their denunciation of the Báb had soon enlisted the support of the Persian
authorities. Thousands of followers of the new faith had perished in a
horrific series of massacres throughout the country, and the Báb had been
publicly executed on July 9, 1850.(6) In an age of growing Western
involvement in the Orient, these events had aroused interest and
compassion in influential European circles. The nobility of the Báb’s life
and teachings, the heroism of His followers, and the hope for fundamental
reform that they had kindled in a darkened land had exerted a powerful
attraction for personalities ranging from Ernest Renan and Leo Tolstoy to
Sarah Bernhardt and the Comte de Gobineau.(7)

Because of His prominence in the defense of the Báb’s cause, Bahá’u’lláh
was arrested and brought, in chains and on foot, to Teheran. Protected in
some measure by an impressive personal reputation and the social position
of His family, as well as by protests which the Bábí pogroms had evoked
from Western embassies, He was not sentenced to death, as influential
figures at the royal court were urging. Instead, He was cast into the
notorious Síyáh-_Ch_ál, the “Black Pit”, a deep, vermin-infested dungeon
which had been created in one of the city’s abandoned reservoirs. No
charges were laid but He and some thirty companions were, without appeal,
kept immured in the darkness and filth of this pit, surrounded by hardened
criminals, many of them under sentence of death. Around Bahá’u’lláh’s neck
was clamped a heavy chain, so notorious in penal circles as to have been
given its own name. When He did not quickly perish, as had been expected,
an attempt was made to poison Him. The marks of the chain were to remain
on His body for the rest of His life.

Central to Bahá’u’lláh’s writings is an exposition of the great themes
which have preoccupied religious thinkers throughout the ages: God, the
role of Revelation in history, the relationship of the world’s religious
systems to one another, the meaning of faith, and the basis of moral
authority in the organization of human society. Passages in these texts
speak intimately of His own spiritual experience, of His response to the
Divine summons, and of the dialogue with the “Spirit of God” which lay at
the heart of His mission. Religious history has never before offered the
inquirer the opportunity for so candid an encounter with the phenomenon of
Divine Revelation.

Toward the end of His life, Bahá’u’lláh’s writings on His early
experiences included a brief description of the conditions in the
Síyáh-_Ch_ál.

We were consigned for four months to a place foul beyond comparison....
The dungeon was wrapped in thick darkness, and Our fellow-prisoners
numbered nearly a hundred and fifty souls: thieves, assassins and
highwaymen. Though crowded, it had no other outlet than the passage by
which We entered. No pen can depict that place, nor any tongue describe
its loathsome smell. Most of these men had neither clothes nor bedding to
lie on. God alone knoweth what befell Us in that most foul-smelling and
gloomy place!(8)

Each day the guards would descend the three steep flights of stairs of the
pit, seize one or more of the prisoners, and drag them out to be executed.
In the streets of Teheran, Western observers were appalled by scenes of
Bábí victims blown from cannon mouths, hacked to death by axes and swords,
and led to their deaths with burning candles inserted into open wounds in
their bodies.(9) It was in these circumstances, and faced with the
prospect of His own imminent death, that Bahá’u’lláh received the first
intimation of His mission:

One night, in a dream, these exalted words were heard on every side:
“Verily, We shall render Thee victorious by Thyself and by Thy Pen. Grieve
Thou not for that which hath befallen Thee, neither be Thou afraid, for
Thou art in safety. Erelong will God raise up the treasures of the
earth--men who will aid Thee through Thyself and through Thy name,
wherewith God hath revived the hearts of such as have recognized Him.”(10)

The experience of Divine Revelation, touched on only at secondhand in
surviving accounts of the lives of the Buddha, Moses, Jesus Christ, and
Muḥammad, is described graphically in Bahá’u’lláh’s own words:

During the days I lay in the prison of Ṭihrán, though the galling weight
of the chains and the stench-filled air allowed Me but little sleep, still
in those infrequent moments of slumber I felt as if something flowed from
the crown of My head over My breast, even as a mighty torrent that
precipitateth itself upon the earth from the summit of a lofty mountain.
Every limb of My body would, as a result, be set afire. At such moments My
tongue recited what no man could bear to hear.(11)



EXILE


Eventually, still without trial or recourse, Bahá’u’lláh was released from
prison and immediately banished from His native land, His wealth and
properties arbitrarily confiscated. The Russian diplomatic representative,
who knew Him personally and who had followed the Bábí persecutions with
growing distress, offered Him his protection and refuge in lands under the
control of his government. In the prevailing political climate, acceptance
of such help would almost certainly have been misrepresented by others as
having political implications.(12) Perhaps for this reason, Bahá’u’lláh
chose to accept banishment to the neighboring territory of Iraq, then
under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. This expulsion was the beginning of
forty years of exile, imprisonment, and bitter persecution.

In the years which immediately followed His departure from Persia,
Bahá’u’lláh gave priority to the needs of the Bábí community which had
gathered in Baghdad, a task which had devolved on Him as the only
effective Bábí leader to have survived the massacres. The death of the Báb
and the almost simultaneous loss of most of the young faith’s teachers and
guides had left the body of the believers scattered and demoralized. When
His efforts to rally those who had fled to Iraq aroused jealousy and
dissension,(13) He followed the path that had been taken by all of the
Messengers of God gone before Him, and withdrew to the wilderness,
choosing for the purpose the mountain region of Kurdistan. His withdrawal,
as He later said, had “contemplated no return.” Its reason “was to avoid
becoming a subject of discord among the faithful, a source of disturbance
unto Our companions.” Although the two years spent in Kurdistan were a
period of intense privation and physical hardship, Bahá’u’lláh describes
them as a time of profound happiness during which He reflected deeply on
the message entrusted to Him: “Alone, We communed with Our spirit,
oblivious of the world and all that is therein.”(14)

Only with great reluctance, believing it His responsibility to the cause
of the Báb, did He eventually accede to urgent messages from the remnant
of the desperate group of exiles in Baghdad who had discovered His
whereabouts and appealed to Him to return and assume the leadership of
their community.

Two of the most important volumes of Bahá’u’lláh’s writings date from this
first period of exile, preceding the declaration of His mission in 1863.
The first of these is a small book which He named The Hidden Words.
Written in the form of a compilation of moral aphorisms, the volume
represents the ethical heart of Bahá’u’lláh’s message. In verses which
Bahá’u’lláh describes as a distillation of the spiritual guidance of all
the Revelations of the past, the voice of God speaks directly to the human
soul:

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

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

O Son of Man!
Sorrow not save that thou art far from Us. Rejoice not save that thou art
drawing near and returning unto Us.

O Son of Being!
With the hands of power I made thee and with the fingers of strength I
created thee; and within thee have I placed the essence of My light. Be
thou content with it and seek naught else, for My work is perfect and My
command is binding. Question it not, nor have a doubt thereof.(15)

The second of the two major works composed by Bahá’u’lláh during this
period is The Book of Certitude, a comprehensive exposition of the nature
and purpose of religion. In passages that draw not only on the Qur’án, but
with equal facility and insight on the Old and New Testaments, the
Messengers of God are depicted as agents of a single, unbroken process,
the awakening of the human race to its spiritual and moral potentialities.
A humanity which has come of age can respond to a directness of teaching
that goes beyond the language of parable and allegory; faith is a matter
not of blind belief, but of conscious knowledge. Nor is the guidance of an
ecclesiastical elite any longer required: the gift of reason confers on
each individual in this new age of enlightenment and education the
capacity to respond to Divine guidance. The test is that of sincerity:

No man shall attain the shores of the ocean of true understanding except
he be detached from all that is in heaven and on earth.... The essence of
these words is this: they that tread the path of faith, they that thirst
for the wine of certitude, must cleanse themselves of all that is
earthly--their ears from idle talk, their minds from vain imaginings,
their hearts from worldly affections, their eyes from that which
perisheth. They should put their trust in God, and, holding fast unto Him,
follow in His way. Then will they be made worthy of the effulgent glories
of the sun of divine knowledge and understanding, ... inasmuch as man can
never hope to attain unto the knowledge of the All-Glorious ... unless and
until he ceases to regard the words and deeds of mortal men as a standard
for the true understanding and recognition of God and His Prophets.

Consider the past. How many, both high and low, have, at all times,
yearningly awaited the advent of the Manifestations of God in the
sanctified persons of His chosen Ones.... And whensoever the portals of
grace did open, and the clouds of divine bounty did rain upon mankind, and
the light of the Unseen did shine above the horizon of celestial might,
they all denied Him, and turned away from His face--the face of God
Himself....

Only when the lamp of search, of earnest striving, of longing desire, of
passionate devotion, of fervid love, of rapture, and ecstasy, is kindled
within the seeker’s heart, and the breeze of His loving-kindness is wafted
upon his soul, will the darkness of error be dispelled, the mists of
doubts and misgivings be dissipated, and the lights of knowledge and
certitude envelop his being.... Then will the manifold favors and
outpouring grace of the holy and everlasting Spirit confer such new life
upon the seeker that he will find himself endowed with a new eye, a new
ear, a new heart, and a new mind.... Gazing with the eye of God, he will
perceive within every atom a door that leadeth him to the stations of
absolute certitude. He will discover in all things the ... evidences of an
everlasting Manifestation.

When the channel of the human soul is cleansed of all worldly and impeding
attachments, it will unfailingly perceive the breath of the Beloved across
immeasurable distances, and will, led by its perfume, attain and enter the
City of Certitude....

That city is none other than the Word of God revealed in every age and
dispensation.... All the guidance, the blessings, the learning, the
understanding, the faith, and certitude, conferred upon all that is in
heaven and on earth, are hidden and treasured within these Cities.(16)

No overt reference is made to Bahá’u’lláh’s own as yet unannounced
mission; rather, The Book of Certitude is organized around a vigorous
exposition of the mission of the martyred Báb. Not the least of the
reasons for the book’s powerful influence on the Bábí community, which
included a number of scholars and former seminarians, was the mastery of
Islamic thought and teaching its author displays in demonstrating the
Báb’s claim to have fulfilled the prophecies of Islam. Calling on the
Bábís to be worthy of the trust which the Báb had placed in them and of
the sacrifice of so many heroic lives, Bahá’u’lláh held out before them
the challenge not only of bringing their personal lives into conformity
with the Divine teachings, but of making their community a model for the
heterogeneous population of Baghdad, the Iraqi provincial capital.

Though living in very straitened material circumstances, the exiles were
galvanized by this vision. One of their company, a man called Nabíl, who
was later to leave a detailed history of both the ministries of the Báb
and Bahá’u’lláh, has described the spiritual intensity of those days:

Many a night no less than ten persons subsisted on no more than a
pennyworth of dates. No one knew to whom actually belonged the shoes, the
cloaks, or the robes that were to be found in their houses. Whoever went
to the bazaar could claim that the shoes upon his feet were his own, and
each one who entered the presence of Bahá’u’lláh could affirm that the
cloak and robe he then wore belonged to him.... O, for the joy of those
days, and the gladness and wonder of those hours!(17)

To the dismay of the Persian consular authorities who had believed the
Bábí “episode” to have run its course, the community of exiles gradually
became a respected and influential element in Iraq’s provincial capital
and the neighboring towns. Since several of the most important shrines of
Shi‘ih Islam were located in the area, a steady stream of Persian pilgrims
was also exposed, under the most favorable circumstances, to the renewal
of Bábí influence. Among dignitaries who called on Bahá’u’lláh in the
simple house He occupied were princes of the royal family. So enchanted by
the experience was one of them that he conceived the somewhat naive idea
that by erecting a duplicate of the building in the gardens of his own
estate, he might recapture something of the atmosphere of spiritual purity
and detachment he had briefly encountered. Another, more deeply moved by
the experience of his visit, expressed to friends the feeling that “were
all the sorrows of the world to be crowded into my heart they would, I
feel, all vanish, when in the presence of Bahá’u’lláh. It is as if I had
entered Paradise...”(18)



THE DECLARATION IN THE RIDVÁN GARDEN


By 1863, Bahá’u’lláh concluded that the time had come to begin acquainting
some of those around Him with the mission which had been entrusted to Him
in the darkness of the Síyáh-_Ch_ál. This decision coincided with a new
stage in the campaign of opposition to His work, which had been
relentlessly pursued by the Shi‘ih Muslim clergy and representatives of
the Persian government. Fearing that the acclaim which Bahá’u’lláh was
beginning to enjoy among influential Persian visitors to Iraq would
re-ignite popular enthusiasm in Persia, the Shah’s government pressed the
Ottoman authorities to remove Him far from the borders and into the
interior of the empire. Eventually, the Turkish government acceded to
these pressures and invited the exile, as its guest, to make His residence
in the capital, Constantinople. Despite the courteous terms in which the
message was couched, the intention was clearly to require compliance.(19)

By this time, the devotion of the little company of exiles had come to
focus on Bahá’u’lláh’s person as well as on His exposition of the Báb’s
teachings. A growing number of them had become convinced that He was
speaking not only as the Báb’s advocate, but on behalf of the far greater
cause which the latter had declared to be imminent. These beliefs became a
certainty in late April 1863 when Bahá’u’lláh, on the eve of His departure
for Constantinople, called together individuals among His companions, in a
garden to which was later given the name Ridván (“Paradise”), and confided
the central fact of His mission. Over the next four years, although no
open announcement was considered timely, the hearers gradually shared with
trusted friends the news that the Báb’s promises had been fulfilled and
that the “Day of God” had dawned.

The precise circumstances surrounding this private communication are, in
the words of the Bahá’í authority most intimately familiar with the
records of the period, “shrouded in an obscurity which future historians
will find it difficult to penetrate.”(20) The nature of the declaration
may be appreciated in various references which Bahá’u’lláh was to make to
His mission in many of His subsequent writings:

The purpose underlying all creation is the revelation of this most
sublime, this most holy Day, the Day known as the Day of God, in His Books
and Scriptures--the Day which all the Prophets, and the Chosen Ones, and
the holy ones, have wished to witness.(21)

...this is the Day in which mankind can behold the Face, and hear the
Voice, of the Promised One. The Call of God hath been raised, and the
light of His countenance hath been lifted up upon men. It behooveth every
man to blot out the trace of every idle word from the tablet of his heart,
and to gaze, with an open and unbiased mind, on the signs of His
Revelation, the proofs of His Mission, and the tokens of His glory.(22)

As repeatedly emphasized in Bahá’u’lláh’s exposition of the Báb’s message,
the primary purpose of God in revealing His will is to effect a
transformation in the character of humankind, to develop within those who
respond the moral and spiritual qualities that are latent within human
nature:

Beautify your tongues, O people, with truthfulness, and adorn your souls
with the ornament of honesty. Beware, O people, that ye deal not
treacherously with any one. Be ye the trustees of God amongst His
creatures, and the emblems of His generosity amidst His people....(23)

Illumine and hallow your hearts; let them not be profaned by the thorns of
hate or the thistles of malice. Ye dwell in one world, and have been
created through the operation of one Will. Blessed is he who mingleth with
all men in a spirit of utmost kindliness and love.(24)

The aggressive proselytism that had characterized efforts in ages past to
promote the cause of religion is declared to be unworthy of the Day of
God. Each person who has recognized the Revelation has the obligation to
share it with those who he believes are seeking, but to leave the response
entirely to his hearers:

Show forbearance and benevolence and love to one another. Should any one
among you be incapable of grasping a certain truth, or be striving to
comprehend it, show forth, when conversing with him, a spirit of extreme
kindliness and good-will....(25)

The whole duty of man in this Day is to attain that share of the flood of
grace which God poureth forth for him. Let none, therefore, consider the
largeness or smallness of the receptacle....(26)

Against the background of the bloody events in Persia, Bahá’u’lláh not
only told His followers that “if ye be slain, it is better for you than to
slay,” but urged them to set an example of obedience to civil authority:
“In every country where any of this people reside, they must behave
towards the government of that country with loyalty, honesty and
truthfulness.”(27)

The conditions surrounding Bahá’u’lláh’s departure from Baghdad provided a
dramatic demonstration of the potency of these principles. In only a few
years, a band of foreign exiles whose arrival in the area had aroused
suspicion and aversion on the part of their neighbors had become one of
the most respected and influential segments of the population. They
supported themselves through flourishing businesses; as a group they were
admired for their generosity and the integrity of their conduct; the lurid
allegations of religious fanaticism and violence, sedulously spread by
Persian consular officials and members of the Shi‘ih Muslim clergy, had
ceased to have an effect on the public mind. By May 3, 1863, when He rode
out of Baghdad, accompanied by His family and those of His companions and
servants who had been chosen to accompany Him to Constantinople,
Bahá’u’lláh had become an immensely popular and cherished figure. In the
days immediately preceding the leave-taking a stream of notables,
including the Governor of the province himself, came to the garden where
He had temporarily taken up residence, many of them from great distances,
in order to pay their respects. Eyewitnesses to the departure have
described in moving terms the acclaim that greeted Him, the tears of many
of the onlookers, and the concern of the Ottoman authorities and civil
officials to do their visitor honor.(28)



“THE CHANGELESS FAITH OF GOD...”


Following the declaration of His mission in 1863, Bahá’u’lláh began to
elaborate a theme already introduced in The Book of Certitude, the
relationship between the Will of God and the evolutionary process by which
the spiritual and moral capacities latent in human nature find expression.
This exposition would occupy a central place in His writings over the
remaining thirty years of His life. The reality of God, He asserts, is and
will always remain unknowable. Whatever words human thought may apply to
the Divine nature relate only to human existence and are the products of
human efforts to describe human experience:

Far, far from Thy glory be what mortal man can affirm of Thee, or
attribute unto Thee, or the praise with which he can glorify Thee!
Whatever duty Thou hast prescribed unto Thy servants of extolling to the
utmost Thy majesty and glory is but a token of Thy grace unto them, that
they may be enabled to ascend unto the station conferred upon their own
inmost being, the station of the knowledge of their own selves.(29)

To every discerning and illumined heart it is evident that God, the
unknowable Essence, the divine Being, is immensely exalted beyond every
human attribute, such as corporeal existence, ascent and descent, egress
and regress. Far be it from His glory that human tongue should adequately
recount His praise, or that human heart comprehend His fathomless mystery.
He is and hath ever been veiled in the ancient eternity of His Essence,
and will remain in His Reality everlastingly hidden from the sight of
men....(30)

What humanity experiences in turning to the Creator of all existence are
the attributes or qualities which are associated with God’s recurring
Revelations:

The door of the knowledge of the Ancient of Days being thus closed in the
face of all beings, the Source of infinite grace, ... hath caused those
luminous Gems of Holiness to appear out of the realm of the spirit, in the
noble form of the human temple, and be made manifest unto all men, that
they may impart unto the world the mysteries of the unchangeable Being,
and tell of the subtleties of His imperishable Essence....(31)

These sanctified Mirrors ... are one and all the Exponents on earth of Him
Who is the central Orb of the universe, its Essence and ultimate Purpose.
From Him proceed their knowledge and power; from Him is derived their
sovereignty. The beauty of their countenance is but a reflection of His
image, and their revelation a sign of His deathless glory....(32)

The Revelations of God do not differ in any essential respect from one
another, although the changing needs they serve from age to age have
called out unique responses from each of them:

These attributes of God are not and have never been vouchsafed specially
unto certain Prophets, and withheld from others. Nay, all the Prophets of
God, His well-favored, His holy, and chosen Messengers, are, without
exception, the bearers of His names, and the embodiments of His
attributes. They only differ in the intensity of their revelation, and the
comparative potency of their light....(33)

Students of religion are cautioned not to permit theological dogmas or
other preconceptions to lead them into discriminating among those whom God
has used as channels of His light:

Beware, O believers in the Unity of God, lest ye be tempted to make any
distinction between any of the Manifestations of His Cause, or to
discriminate against the signs that have accompanied and proclaimed their
Revelation. This indeed is the true meaning of Divine Unity, if ye be of
them that apprehend and believe this truth. Be ye assured, moreover, that
the works and acts of each and every one of these Manifestations of God,
nay whatever pertaineth unto them, and whatsoever they may manifest in the
future, are all ordained by God, and are a reflection of His Will and
Purpose....(34)

Bahá’u’lláh compares the interventions of the Divine Revelations to the
return of spring. The Messengers of God are not merely teachers, although
this is one of their primary functions. Rather, the spirit of their words,
together with the example of their lives, has the capacity to tap the
roots of human motivation and to induce fundamental and lasting change.
Their influence opens new realms of understanding and achievement:

And since there can be no tie of direct intercourse to bind the one true
God with His creation, and no resemblance whatever can exist between the
transient and the Eternal, the contingent and the Absolute, He hath
ordained that in every age and dispensation a pure and stainless Soul be
made manifest in the kingdoms of earth and heaven.... Led by the light of
unfailing guidance, and invested with supreme sovereignty, They [the
Messengers of God] are commissioned to use the inspiration of Their words,
the effusions of Their infallible grace and the sanctifying breeze of
Their Revelation for the cleansing of every longing heart and receptive
spirit from the dross and dust of earthly cares and limitations. Then, and
only then, will the Trust of God, latent in the reality of man, emerge ...
and implant the ensign of its revealed glory upon the summits of men’s
hearts.(35)

Without this intervention from the world of God, human nature remains the
captive of instinct, as well as of unconscious assumptions and patterns of
behavior that have been culturally determined:

Having created the world and all that liveth and moveth therein, He [God]
... chose to confer upon man the unique distinction and capacity to know
Him and to love Him--a capacity that must needs be regarded as the
generating impulse and the primary purpose underlying the whole of
creation.... Upon the inmost reality of each and every created thing He
hath shed the light of one of His names, and made it a recipient of the
glory of one of His attributes. Upon the reality of man, however, He hath
focused the radiance of all of His names and attributes, and made it a
mirror of His own Self. Alone of all created things man hath been singled
out for so great a favor, so enduring a bounty.

These energies with which the ... Source of heavenly guidance hath endowed
the reality of man lie, however, latent within him, even as the flame is
hidden within the candle and the rays of light are potentially present in
the lamp. The radiance of these energies may be obscured by worldly
desires even as the light of the sun can be concealed beneath the dust and
dross which cover the mirror. Neither the candle nor the lamp can be
lighted through their own unaided efforts, nor can it ever be possible for
the mirror to free itself from its dross. It is clear and evident that
until a fire is kindled the lamp will never be ignited, and unless the
dross is blotted out from the face of the mirror it can never represent
the image of the sun nor reflect its light and glory.(36)

The time has come, Bahá’u’lláh said, when humanity has both the capacity
and the opportunity to see the entire panorama of its spiritual
development as a single process: “Peerless is this Day, for it is as the
eye to past ages and centuries, and as a light unto the darkness of the
times.”(37) In this perspective, the followers of differing religious
traditions must strive to understand what He called “the changeless Faith
of God”(38) and to distinguish its central spiritual impulse from the
changing laws and concepts that were revealed to meet the requirements of
an ever-evolving human society:

The Prophets of God should be regarded as physicians whose task is to
foster the well-being of the world and its peoples, that, through the
spirit of oneness, they may heal the sickness of a divided humanity....
Little wonder, then, if the treatment prescribed by the physician in this
day should not be found to be identical with that which he prescribed
before. How could it be otherwise when the ills affecting the sufferer
necessitate at every stage of his sickness a special remedy? In like
manner, every time the Prophets of God have illumined the world with the
resplendent radiance of the Day Star of Divine knowledge, they have
invariably summoned its peoples to embrace the light of God through such
means as best befitted the exigencies of the age in which they
appeared....(39)

It is not only the heart, but the mind, which must devote itself to this
process of discovery. Reason, Bahá’u’lláh asserts, is God’s greatest gift
to the soul, “a sign of the revelation of ... the sovereign Lord.”(40)
Only by freeing itself from inherited dogma, whether religious or
materialistic, can the mind take up an independent exploration of the
relationship between the Word of God and the experience of humankind. In
such a search, a major obstacle is prejudice: “Warn ... the beloved of the
one true God, not to view with too critical an eye the sayings and
writings of men. Let them rather approach such sayings and writings in a
spirit of open-mindedness and loving sympathy.”(41)



THE MANIFESTATION OF GOD


What is common to all who are devoted to one or another of the world’s
religious systems is the conviction that it is through the Divine
Revelation that the soul comes in touch with the world of God, and that it
is this relationship which gives real meaning to life. Some of the most
important passages in Bahá’u’lláh’s writings are those which discuss at
length the nature and role of those who are the channels of this
Revelation, the Messengers or “Manifestations of God.” A recurrent analogy
found in these passages is that of the physical sun. While the latter
shares certain characteristics of the other bodies in the solar system, it
differs from them in that it is, in itself, the source of the system’s
light. The planets and moons reflect light whereas the sun emits it as an
attribute inseparable from its nature. The system revolves around this
focal point, each of its members influenced not only by its particular
composition, but by its relationship to the source of the system’s
light.(42)

In the same way, Bahá’u’lláh asserts, the human personality which the
Manifestation of God shares with the rest of the race is differentiated
from others in a way that fits it to serve as the channel or vehicle for
the Revelation of God. Apparently contradictory references to this dual
station, attributed, for example, to Christ,(43) have been among the many
sources of religious confusion and dissension throughout history.
Bahá’u’lláh says on the subject:

Whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth is a direct
evidence of the revelation within it of the attributes and names of God
... To a supreme degree is this true of man, who, among all created
things, ... hath been singled out for the glory of such distinction. For
in him are potentially revealed all the attributes and names of God to a
degree that no other created being hath excelled or surpassed.... And of
all men, the most accomplished, the most distinguished, and the most
excellent are the Manifestations of the Sun of Truth. Nay, all else
besides these Manifestations, live by the operation of their Will, and
move and have their being through the outpourings of their grace.(44)

Throughout history, the conviction of believers that the Founder of their
own religion occupied a unique station has had the effect of stimulating
intense speculation on the nature of the Manifestation of God. Such
speculation has, however, been severely hampered by the difficulties of
interpreting and resolving the allegorical allusions in past scriptures.
The attempt to crystallize opinion in the form of religious dogma has been
a divisive rather than unifying force in history. Indeed, despite the
enormous energy devoted to theological pursuits--or perhaps because of
it--there are today profound differences among Muslims as to the precise
station of Muḥammad, among Christians as to that of Jesus, and among
Buddhists with respect to the Founder of their own religion. As is all too
apparent, the controversies created by these and other differences within
any one given tradition have proven at least as acute as those separating
that tradition from its sister faiths.

Particularly important to an understanding of Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings on
the unity of religions, therefore, are His statements about the station of
the successive Messengers of God and the functions performed by them in
the spiritual history of humankind:

[The] Manifestations of God have each a twofold station. One is the
station of pure abstraction and essential unity. In this respect, if thou
callest them all by one name, and dost ascribe to them the same
attributes, thou hast not erred from the truth....

The other station is the station of distinction, and pertaineth to the
world of creation, and to the limitations thereof. In this respect, each
Manifestation of God hath a distinct individuality, a definitely
prescribed mission, a predestined revelation, and specially designated
limitations. Each one of them is known by a different name, is
characterized by a special attribute, fulfills a definite mission...

Viewed in the light of their second station ... they manifest absolute
servitude, utter destitution, and complete self-effacement. Even as He
saith: “I am the servant of God. I am but a man like you.”...

Were any of the all-embracing Manifestations of God to declare: “I am
God,” He, verily, speaketh the truth, and no doubt attacheth thereto. For
... through their Revelation, their attributes and names, the Revelation
of God, His names and His attributes, are made manifest in the world....
And were any of them to voice the utterance, “I am the Messenger of God,”
He, also, speaketh the truth, the indubitable truth.... Viewed in this
light, they are all but Messengers of that ideal King, that unchangeable
Essence.... And were they to say, “We are the Servants of God,” this also
is a manifest and indisputable fact. For they have been made manifest in
the uttermost state of servitude, a servitude the like of which no man can
possibly attain....(45)

Thus it is that whatsoever be their utterance, whether it pertain to the
realm of Divinity, Lordship, Prophethood, Messengership, Guardianship,
Apostleship, or Servitude, all is true, beyond the shadow of a doubt.
Therefore these sayings ... must be attentively considered, that the
divergent utterances of the Manifestations of the Unseen and Day Springs
of Holiness may cease to agitate the soul and perplex the mind.(46)



“AN EVER-ADVANCING CIVILIZATION...”


Implicit in these paragraphs is a perspective which represents the most
challenging feature of Bahá’u’lláh’s exposition of the function of the
Manifestation of God. Divine Revelation is, He says, the motive power of
civilization. When it occurs, its transforming effect on the minds and
souls of those who respond to it is replicated in the new society that
slowly takes shape around their experience. A new center of loyalty
emerges that can win the commitment of peoples from the widest range of
cultures; music and the arts seize on symbols that mediate far richer and
more mature inspirations; a radical redefinition of concepts of right and
wrong makes possible the formulation of new codes of civil law and
conduct; new institutions are conceived in order to give expression to
impulses of moral responsibility previously ignored or unknown: “He was in
the world, and the world was made by him...”(47) As the new culture
evolves into a civilization, it assimilates achievements and insights of
past eras in a multitude of fresh permutations. Features of past cultures
that cannot be incorporated atrophy or are taken up by marginal elements
among the population. The Word of God creates new possibilities within
both the individual consciousness and human relationships.

Every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God is endowed with such
potency as can instill new life into every human frame... All the wondrous
works ye behold in this world have been manifested through the operation
of His supreme and most exalted Will, His wondrous and inflexible
Purpose.... No sooner is this resplendent word uttered, than its animating
energies, stirring within all created things, give birth to the means and
instruments whereby such arts can be produced and perfected.... In the
days to come, ye will, verily, behold things of which ye have never heard
before.... Every single letter proceeding out of the mouth of God is
indeed a mother letter, and every word uttered by Him Who is the Well
Spring of Divine Revelation is a mother word....(48)

The sequence of the Divine Revelations, the Báb asserts, is “a process
that hath had no beginning and will have no end.”(49) Although the mission
of each of the Manifestations is limited in time and in the functions it
performs, it is an integral part of an ongoing and progressive unfoldment
of God’s power and will:

Contemplate with thine inward eye the chain of successive Revelations that
hath linked the Manifestation of Adam with that of the Báb. I testify
before God that each one of these Manifestations hath been sent down
through the operation of the Divine Will and Purpose, that each hath been
the bearer of a specific Message, that each hath been entrusted with a
divinely revealed Book... The measure of the Revelation with which every
one of them hath been identified had been definitely foreordained....(50)

Eventually, as an ever-evolving civilization exhausts its spiritual
sources, a process of disintegration sets in, as it does throughout the
phenomenal world. Turning again to analogies offered by nature,
Bahá’u’lláh compares this hiatus in the development of civilization to the
onset of winter. Moral vitality diminishes, as does social cohesion.
Challenges which would have been overcome at an earlier age, or been
turned into opportunities for exploration and achievement, become
insuperable barriers. Religion loses its relevance, and experimentation
becomes increasingly fragmented, further deepening social divisions.
Increasingly, uncertainty about the meaning and value of life generates
anxiety and confusion. Speaking about this condition in our own age
Bahá’u’lláh says:

We can well perceive how the whole human race is encompassed with great,
with incalculable afflictions. We see it languishing on its bed of
sickness, sore-tried and disillusioned. They that are intoxicated by
self-conceit have interposed themselves between it and the Divine and
infallible Physician. Witness how they have entangled all men, themselves
included, in the mesh of their devices. They can neither discover the
cause of the disease, nor have they any knowledge of the remedy. They have
conceived the straight to be crooked, and have imagined their friend an
enemy.(51)

When each of the Divine impulses has fulfilled itself, the process recurs.
A new Manifestation of God appears with the fuller measure of Divine
inspiration for the next stage in the awakening and civilizing of
humankind:

Consider the hour at which the supreme Manifestation of God revealeth
Himself unto men. Ere that hour cometh, the Ancient Being, Who is still
unknown of men and hath not as yet given utterance to the Word of God, is
Himself the All-Knower in a world devoid of any man that hath known Him.
He is indeed the Creator without a creation.... This is indeed the Day of
which it hath been written: “Whose shall be the Kingdom this Day?” And
none can be found ready to answer!(52)

Until a section of humanity begins to respond to the new Revelation, and a
new spiritual and social paradigm begins to take shape, people subsist
spiritually and morally on the last traces of earlier Divine endowments.
The routine tasks of society may or may not be done; laws may be obeyed or
flouted; social and political experimentation may flame up or fail; but
the roots of faith--without which no society can indefinitely endure--have
been exhausted. At the “end of the age,” at the “end of the world,” the
spiritually minded begin to turn again to the Creative source. However
clumsy or disturbing the process may be, however inelegant or unfortunate
some of the options considered, such searching is an instinctive response
to the awareness that an immense chasm has opened in the ordered life of
humankind.(53) The effects of the new Revelation, Bahá’u’lláh says, are
universal, and not limited to the life and teachings of the Manifestation
of God Who is the Revelation’s focal point. Though not understood, these
effects increasingly permeate human affairs, revealing the contradictions
in popular assumptions and in society, and intensifying the search for
understanding.

The succession of the Manifestations is an inseparable dimension of
existence, Bahá’u’lláh declares, and will continue throughout the life of
the world: “God hath sent down His Messengers to succeed to Moses and
Jesus, and He will continue to do so till ‘the end that hath no
end’...”(54)



THE DAY OF GOD


What does Bahá’u’lláh hold to be the goal of the evolution of human
consciousness? In the perspective of eternity, its purpose is that God
should see, ever more clearly, the reflection of His perfections in the
mirror of His creation, and that, in the words of Bahá’u’lláh:

...every man may testify, in himself, by himself, in the station of the
Manifestation of his Lord, that verily there is no God save Him, and that
every man may thereby win his way to the summit of realities, until none
shall contemplate anything whatsoever but that he shall see God
therein.(55)

Within the context of the history of civilization, the objective of the
succession of divine Manifestations has been to prepare human
consciousness for the race’s unification as a single species, indeed as a
single organism capable of taking up the responsibility for its collective
future: “He Who is your Lord, the All-Merciful,” Bahá’u’lláh says,
“cherisheth in His heart the desire of beholding the entire human race as
one soul and one body.”(56) Not until humanity has accepted its organic
oneness can it meet even its immediate challenges, let alone those that
lie ahead: “The well-being of mankind,” Bahá’u’lláh insists, “its peace
and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly
established.”(57) Only a unified global society can provide its children
with the sense of inner assurance implied in one of Bahá’u’lláh’s prayers
to God: “Whatever duty Thou hast prescribed unto Thy servants of extolling
to the utmost Thy majesty and glory is but a token of Thy grace unto them,
that they may be enabled to ascend unto the station conferred upon their
own inmost being, the station of the knowledge of their own selves.”(58)
Paradoxically, it is only by achieving true unity that humanity can fully
cultivate its diversity and individuality. This is the goal which the
missions of all of the Manifestations of God known to history have served,
the Day of “one fold and one shepherd.”(59) Its attainment, Bahá’u’lláh
says, is the stage of civilization upon which the human race is now
entering.

One of the most suggestive analogies to be found in the writings not only
of Bahá’u’lláh, but of the Báb before Him, is the comparison between the
evolution of the human race and the life of the individual human being.
Humanity has moved through stages in its collective development which are
reminiscent of the periods of infancy, childhood, and adolescence in the
maturation of its individual members. We are now experiencing the
beginnings of our collective maturity, endowed with new capacities and
opportunities of which we as yet have only the dimmest awareness.(60)

Against this background, it is not difficult to understand the primacy
given in Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings to the principle of unity. The oneness of
humanity is the leitmotif of the age now opening, the standard against
which must be tested all proposals for the betterment of humanity. There
is, Bahá’u’lláh insists, but one human race; inherited notions that a
particular racial or ethnic group is in some way superior to the rest of
humanity are without foundation. Similarly, since all of the Messengers of
God have served as agents of the one Divine Will, their revelations are
the collective legacy of the entire human race; each person on earth is a
legitimate heir of the whole of that spiritual tradition. Persistence in
prejudices of any kind is both damaging to the interests of society and a
violation of the Will of God for our age:

O contending peoples and kindreds of the earth! Set your faces towards
unity, and let the radiance of its light shine upon you. Gather ye
together, and for the sake of God resolve to root out whatever is the
source of contention amongst you.... There can be no doubt whatever that
the peoples of the world, of whatever race or religion, derive their
inspiration from one heavenly Source, and are the subjects of one God. The
difference between the ordinances under which they abide should be
attributed to the varying requirements and exigencies of the age in which
they were revealed. All of them, except a few which are the outcome of
human perversity, were ordained of God, and are a reflection of His Will
and Purpose. Arise and, armed with the power of faith, shatter to pieces
the gods of your vain imaginings, the sowers of dissension amongst
you....(61)

The theme of unity runs throughout Bahá’u’lláh’s writings: “The tabernacle
of unity hath been raised; regard ye not one another as strangers.”(62)
“Consort with the followers of all religions in a spirit of friendliness
and fellowship.”(63) “Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one
branch.”(64)

The process of humanity’s coming-of-age has occurred within the evolution
of social organization. Beginning from the family unit and its various
extensions, the human race has developed, with varying degrees of success,
societies based on the clan, the tribe, the city-state, and most recently
the nation. This progressively broader and more complex social milieu
provides human potential with both stimulation and scope for development,
and this development, in turn, has induced ever-new modifications of the
social fabric. Humanity’s coming-of-age, therefore, must entail a total
transformation of the social order. The new society must be one capable of
embracing the entire diversity of the race and of benefiting from the full
range of talents and insights which many thousands of years of cultural
experience have refined:

This is the Day in which God’s most excellent favors have been poured out
upon men, the Day in which His most mighty grace hath been infused into
all created things. It is incumbent upon all the peoples of the world to
reconcile their differences, and, with perfect unity and peace, abide
beneath the shadow of the Tree of His care and loving-kindness.... Soon
will the present-day order be rolled up, and a new one spread out in its
stead. Verily, thy Lord speaketh the truth, and is the Knower of things
unseen.(65)

The chief instrument for the transformation of society and the achievement
of world unity, Bahá’u’lláh asserts, is the establishment of justice in
the affairs of humankind. The subject has a central place in His
teachings:

The light of men is Justice. Quench it not with the contrary winds of
oppression and tyranny. The purpose of justice is the appearance of unity
among men. The ocean of divine wisdom surgeth within this exalted word,
while the books of the world cannot contain its inner significance....(66)

In His later writings Bahá’u’lláh made explicit the implications of this
principle for the age of humanity’s maturity. “Women and men have been and
will always be equal in the sight of God,”(67) He asserts, and the
advancement of civilization requires that society so organize its affairs
as to give full expression to this fact. The earth’s resources are the
property of all humanity, not of any one people. Different contributions
to the common economic welfare deserve and should receive different
measures of reward and recognition, but the extremes of wealth and poverty
which afflict most nations on earth, regardless of the socio-economic
philosophies they profess, must be abolished.



ANNOUNCEMENT TO THE KINGS


The writings which have been quoted in the foregoing were revealed, for
the most part, in conditions of renewed persecution. Soon after the
exiles’ arrival in Constantinople, it became apparent that the honors
showered upon Bahá’u’lláh during His journey from Baghdad had represented
only a brief interlude. The Ottoman authorities’ decision to move the
“Bábí” leader and His companions to the capital of the empire rather than
to some remote province deepened the alarm among the representatives of
the Persian government.(68) Fearing that the developments in Baghdad would
be repeated, and might attract this time not only the sympathy but perhaps
even the allegiance of influential figures in the Turkish government, the
Persian ambassador pressed insistently for the dispatch of the exiles to
some more distant part of the empire. His argument was that the spread of
a new religious message in the capital could produce political as well as
religious repercussions.

Initially, the Ottoman government strongly resisted. The chief minister,
‘Alí Pá_sh_á, had indicated to Western diplomats his belief that
Bahá’u’lláh was “a man of great distinction, exemplary conduct, great
moderation, and a most dignified figure.” His teachings were, in the
minister’s opinion, “worthy of high esteem” because they counteracted the
religious animosities dividing the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim subjects
of the empire.(69)

Gradually, however, a degree of resentment and suspicion developed. In the
Ottoman capital, political and economic power was in the hands of court
functionaries who, with but few exceptions, were persons of little or no
competence. Venality was the oil on which the machinery of government
operated, and the capital was a magnet for a horde of people who flocked
there from every part of the empire and beyond, seeking favors and
influence. It was expected that any prominent figure from another country
or from one of the tribute territories would, immediately upon arrival in
Constantinople, join the throngs of patronage-seekers in the reception
rooms of the pashas and ministers of the imperial court. No element had a
worse reputation than the competing groups of Persian political exiles who
were known for both their sophistication and their lack of scruple.

To the distress of friends who urged Him to make use of the prevailing
hostility toward the Persian government and of the sympathy which His own
sufferings had aroused, Bahá’u’lláh made it clear that He had no requests
to make. Although several government ministers made social calls at the
residence assigned to Him, he did not take advantage of these openings. He
was in Constantinople, He said, as the guest of the Sultan, at his
invitation, and His interest lay in spiritual and moral concerns.

Many years later, the Persian ambassador, Mírzá Ḥusayn _Kh_án, reflecting
on his tour of duty in the Ottoman capital, and complaining about the
damage which the greed and untrustworthiness of his countrymen had done to
Persia’s reputation in Constantinople, paid a surprisingly candid tribute
to the example which Bahá’u’lláh’s conduct had been able briefly to
set.(70) At the time, however, he and his colleagues made use of the
situation to represent it as an astute way on the exile’s part of
concealing secret conspiracies against public security and the religion of
the State. Under pressure of these influences, the Ottoman authorities
finally took the decision to transfer Bahá’u’lláh and His family to the
provincial city of Adrianople. The move was made hastily, in the depth of
an extremely severe winter. Housed there in inadequate buildings, lacking
suitable clothing and other provisions, the exiles endured a year of great
suffering. It was clear that, though charged with no crime and given no
opportunity to defend themselves, they had arbitrarily been made state
prisoners.

From the point of view of religious history, the successive banishments of
Bahá’u’lláh to Constantinople and Adrianople have a striking symbolism.
For the first time, a Manifestation of God, Founder of an independent
religious system which was soon to spread throughout the planet, had
crossed the narrow neck of water separating Asia from Europe, and had set
foot in “the West.” All of the other great religions had arisen in Asia
and the ministries of their Founders had been confined to that continent.
Referring to the fact that the dispensations of the past, and particularly
those of Abraham, Christ, and Muḥammad, had produced their most important
effects on the development of civilization during the course of their
westward expansion, Bahá’u’lláh predicted that the same thing would occur
in this new age, but on a vastly larger scale: “In the East the Light of
His Revelation hath broken; in the West the signs of His dominion have
appeared. Ponder this in your hearts, O people...”(71)

It is then perhaps not surprising that Bahá’u’lláh chose this moment to
make public the mission which had been slowly enlisting the allegiance of
the followers of the Báb throughout the Middle East. His announcement took
the form of a series of statements which are among the most remarkable
documents in religious history. In them, the Manifestation of God
addresses the “Kings and Rulers of the world,” announcing to them the
dawning of the Day of God, alluding to the as yet inconceivable changes
which were gathering momentum throughout the world, and calling on them as
the trustees of God and of their fellow human beings to arise and serve
the process of the unification of the human race. Because of the
veneration in which they were held by the mass of their subjects, and
because of the absolute nature of the rule which most of them exercised,
it lay in their power, He said, to assist in bringing about what He called
the “Most Great Peace,” a world order characterized by unity and animated
by Divine justice.

Only with the greatest difficulty can the modern reader envision the moral
and intellectual world in which these monarchs of a century ago lived.
From their biographies and private correspondence, it is apparent that,
with few exceptions, they were personally devout, taking a leading part in
the spiritual life of their respective nations, often as the heads of the
state religions, and convinced of the unerring truths of the Bible or the
Qur’án. The power which most of them wielded they attributed directly to
the divine authority of passages in these same Scriptures, an authority
about which they were vigorously articulate. They were the anointed of
God. Prophecies of “the Latter Days” and “the Kingdom of God” were not for
them myth or allegory, but certainties upon which all moral order rested
and in which they would themselves be called on by God to give an account
of their stewardship.

The letters of Bahá’u’lláh address themselves to this mental world:

O Kings of the earth! He Who is the sovereign Lord of all is come. The
Kingdom is God’s, the omnipotent Protector, the Self-Subsisting.... This
is a Revelation to which whatever ye possess can never be compared, could
ye but know it.

Take heed lest pride deter you from recognizing the Source of Revelation,
lest the things of this world shut you out as by a veil from Him Who is
the Creator of heaven.... By the righteousness of God! It is not Our wish
to lay hands on your kingdoms. Our mission is to seize and possess the
hearts of men....(72)

Know ye that the poor are the trust of God in your midst. Watch that ye
betray not His trust, that ye deal not unjustly with them and that ye walk
not in the ways of the treacherous. Ye will most certainly be called upon
to answer for His trust on the day when the Balance of Justice shall be
set, the day when unto every one shall be rendered his due, when the
doings of all men, be they rich or poor, shall be weighed.

...

Examine Our Cause, inquire into the things that have befallen Us, and
decide justly between Us and Our enemies, and be ye of them that act
equitably towards their neighbor. If ye stay not the hand of the
oppressor, if ye fail to safeguard the rights of the downtrodden, what
right have ye then to vaunt yourselves among men?(73)

If ye pay no heed unto the counsels which ... We have revealed in this
Tablet, Divine chastisement shall assail you from every direction, and the
sentence of His justice shall be pronounced against you. On that day ye
shall have no power to resist Him, and shall recognize your own
impotence....(74)

The vision of the “Most Great Peace” evoked no response from the rulers of
the nineteenth century. Nationalistic aggrandizement and imperial
expansion recruited not only kings but parliamentarians, academics,
artists, newspapers, and the major religious establishments as eager
propagandists of Western triumphalism. Proposals for social change,
however disinterested and idealistic, quickly fell captive to a swarm of
new ideologies thrown up by the rising tide of dogmatic materialism. In
the Orient, mesmerized by its own claims to represent all that humanity
ever could or would know of God and truth, the Islamic world sank steadily
deeper into ignorance, lethargy, and a sullen hostility to a human race
which failed to acknowledge this spiritual preeminence.



ARRIVAL IN THE HOLY LAND


Given the earlier events in Baghdad, it seems surprising that the Ottoman
authorities did not anticipate what would result from the establishment of
Bahá’u’lláh in another major provincial capital. Within a year of His
arrival in Adrianople, their prisoner had attracted first the interest and
then the fervent admiration of figures prominent in both the intellectual
and administrative life of the region. To the dismay of the Persian
consular representatives, two of the most devoted of these admirers were
_Kh_ur_sh_íd Pá_sh_á, the Governor of the province, and the
_Sh_ay_kh_u’l-Islám, the leading Sunni religious dignitary. In the eyes of
His hosts and the public generally, the exile was a moral philosopher and
saint the validity of whose teachings was reflected not only in the
example of His own life but in the changes they effected among the flood
of Persian pilgrims who flocked to this remote center of the Ottoman
Empire in order to visit Him.(75)

These unanticipated developments convinced the Persian ambassador and his
colleagues that it was only a matter of time before the Bahá’í movement,
which was continuing to spread in Persia, would have established itself as
a major influence in Persia’s neighboring and rival empire. Throughout
this period of its history, the ramshackle Ottoman Empire was struggling
against repeated incursions by Tsarist Russia, uprisings among its subject
peoples, and persistent attempts by the ostensibly sympathetic British and
Austrian governments to detach various Turkish territories and incorporate
them into their own empires. These unstable political conditions in
Turkey’s European provinces offered new and urgent arguments supporting
the ambassador’s appeal that the exiles be sent to a distant colony where
Bahá’u’lláh would have no further contact with influential circles,
whether Turkish or Western.

When the Turkish foreign minister, Fu’ád Pá_sh_á, returned from a visit to
Adrianople, his astonished reports of the reputation which Bahá’u’lláh had
come to enjoy throughout the region appeared to lend credibility to the
Persian embassy’s suggestions. In this climate of opinion, the government
abruptly decided to subject its guest to strict confinement. Without
warning, early one day, Bahá’u’lláh’s house was surrounded by soldiers,
and the exiles were ordered to prepare for departure to an unknown
destination.

The place chosen for this final banishment was the grim fortress-town of
Akká (Acre) on the coast of the Holy Land. Notorious throughout the empire
for the foulness of its climate and the prevalence of many diseases, Akká
was a penal colony used by the Ottoman State for the incarceration of
dangerous criminals who could be expected not to survive too long their
imprisonment there. Arriving in August 1868, Bahá’u’lláh, the members of
His family, and a company of His followers who had been exiled with Him
were to experience two years of suffering and abuse within the fortress
itself, and then be confined under house arrest to a nearby building owned
by a local merchant. For a long time the exiles were shunned by the
superstitious local populace who had been warned in public sermons against
“the God of the Persians,” who was depicted as an enemy of public order
and the purveyor of blasphemous and immoral ideas. Several members of the
small group of exiles died of the privations and other conditions to which
they were subjected.(76)

It seems, in retrospect, the keenest irony that the selection of the Holy
Land as the place of Bahá’u’lláh’s forced confinement should have been the
result of pressure from ecclesiastical and civil enemies whose aim was to
extinguish His religious influence. Palestine, revered by three of the
great monotheistic religions as the point where the worlds of God and of
man intersect, held then, as it had for thousands of years, a unique place
in human expectation. Only a few weeks before Bahá’u’lláh’s arrival, the
main leadership of the German Protestant Templer movement sailed from
Europe to establish at the foot of Mount Carmel a colony that would
welcome Christ, whose advent they believed to be imminent. Over the
lintels of several of the small houses they erected, facing across the bay
to Bahá’u’lláh’s prison at Akká, can still be seen such carved
inscriptions as “Der Herr ist nahe” (“The Lord is near”).(77)

In Akká, Bahá’u’lláh continued the dictation of a series of letters to
individual rulers, which He had begun in Adrianople. Several contained
warnings of the judgment of God on their negligence and misrule, warnings
whose dramatic fulfillment aroused intense public discussion throughout
the Near East. Less than two months after the exiles arrived in the
prison-city, for example, Fu’ád Pá_sh_á, the Ottoman foreign minister,
whose misrepresentations had helped precipitate the banishment, was
abruptly dismissed from his post and died in France of a heart attack. The
event was marked by a statement which predicted the early dismissal of his
colleague, Prime Minister ‘Alí Pá_sh_á, the overthrow and death of the
Sultan, and the loss of Turkish territories in Europe, a series of
disasters which followed on the heels of one another.(78)

A letter to Emperor Napoleon III warned that, because of his insincerity
and the misuse of his power: “...thy kingdom shall be thrown into
confusion, and thine empire shall pass from thine hands, as a punishment
for that which thou hast wrought.... Hath thy pomp made thee proud? By My
life! It shall not endure...”(79) Of the disastrous Franco-Prussian War
and the resulting overthrow of Napoleon III, which occurred less than a
year after this statement, Alistair Horne, a modern scholar of nineteenth
century French political history has written:

History knows of perhaps no more startling instance of what the Greeks
called peripateia, the terrible fall from prideful heights. Certainly no
nation in modern times, so replete with apparent grandeur and opulent in
material achievement, has ever been subjected to a worse humiliation in so
short a time.(80)

Only a few months before the unexpected series of events in Europe that
led to the invasion of the Papal States and the annexation of Rome by the
forces of the new Kingdom of Italy, a statement addressing Pope Pius IX
had urged the Pontiff “Abandon thy kingdom unto the kings, and emerge from
thy habitation, with thy face set towards the Kingdom... Be as thy Lord
hath been.... Verily, the day of ingathering is come, and all things have
been separated from each other. He hath stored away that which He chose in
the vessels of justice, and cast into the fire that which befitteth
it....”(81)

Wilhelm I, King of Prussia, whose armies had won such a sweeping victory
in the Franco-Prussian War, had been warned by Bahá’u’lláh in the
Kitáb-i-Aqdas to heed the example of the fall of Napoleon III and of other
rulers who had been victorious in war, and not to allow pride to keep him
back from recognizing this Revelation. That Bahá’u’lláh foresaw the
failure of the German Emperor to respond to this warning is shown by the
ominous passage which appears later in that same Book:

O banks of the Rhine! We have seen you covered with gore, inasmuch as the
swords of retribution were drawn against you; and you shall have another
turn. And We hear the lamentations of Berlin, though she be today in
conspicuous glory.(82)

A strikingly different note characterizes two of the major pronouncements,
that addressed to Queen Victoria(83) and another to the “Rulers of America
and the Presidents of the Republics therein.” The former praises the
pioneering achievement represented by the abolition of slavery throughout
the British Empire, and commends the principle of representative
government. The latter, which opens with the announcement of the Day of
God, concludes with a summons, a virtual mandate, that has no parallel in
any of the other messages: “Bind ye the broken with the hands of justice,
and crush the oppressor who flourisheth with the rod of the commandments
of your Lord, the Ordainer, the All-Wise.”(84)



RELIGION AS LIGHT AND DARKNESS


Bahá’u’lláh’s severest condemnation is reserved for the barriers which,
throughout history, organized religion has erected between humanity and
the Revelations of God. Dogmas, inspired by popular superstition and
perfected by misspent intelligence, have repeatedly been imposed on a
Divine process whose purpose has at all times been spiritual and moral.
Laws of social interaction, revealed for the purpose of consolidating
community life, have been made the basis for structures of arcane doctrine
and practice which have burdened the masses whose benefit they were
supposed to serve. Even the exercise of intellect, the chief tool
possessed by the human race, has been deliberately hampered, producing an
eventual breakdown in the dialogue between faith and science upon which
civilized life depends.

The consequence of this sorry record is the worldwide disrepute into which
religion has fallen. Worse, organized religion has become itself a most
virulent cause of hatred and warfare among the peoples of the world.
“Religious fanaticism and hatred,” Bahá’u’lláh warned over a century ago,
“are a world-devouring fire, whose violence none can quench. The Hand of
Divine power can, alone, deliver mankind from this desolating
affliction.”(85)

Those whom God will hold responsible for this tragedy, Bahá’u’lláh says,
are humanity’s religious leaders, who have presumed to speak for Him
throughout history. Their attempts to make the Word of God a private
preserve, and its exposition a means for personal aggrandizement, have
been the greatest single handicap against which the advancement of
civilization has struggled. In the pursuit of their ends, many of them
have not hesitated to raise their hands against the Messengers of God
themselves, at their advent:

Leaders of religion, in every age, have hindered their people from
attaining the shores of eternal salvation, inasmuch as they held the reins
of authority in their mighty grasp. Some for the lust of leadership,
others through want of knowledge and understanding, have been the cause of
the deprivation of the people. By their sanction and authority, every
Prophet of God hath drunk from the chalice of sacrifice...(86)

In an address to the clergy of all faiths, Bahá’u’lláh warns of the
responsibility which they have so carelessly assumed in history:

Ye are even as a spring. If it be changed, so will the streams that branch
out from it be changed. Fear God, and be numbered with the godly. In like
manner, if the heart of man be corrupted, his limbs will also be
corrupted. And similarly, if the root of a tree be corrupted, its
branches, and its offshoots, and its leaves, and its fruits, will be
corrupted.(87)

These same statements, revealed at a time when religious orthodoxy was one
of the major powers throughout the world, declared that this power had
effectively ended, and that the ecclesiastical caste has no further social
role in world history: “O concourse of divines! Ye shall not henceforward
behold yourselves possessed of any power...”(88) To a particularly
vindictive opponent among the Muslim clergy, Bahá’u’lláh said: “Thou art
even as the last trace of sunlight upon the mountaintop. Soon will it fade
away as decreed by God, the All-Possessing, the Most High. Thy glory and
the glory of such as are like thee have been taken away...”(89)

It is not the organization of religious activity which these statements
address, but the misuse of such resources. Bahá’u’lláh’s writings are
generous in their appreciation not only of the great contribution which
organized religion has brought to civilization, but also of the benefits
which the world has derived from the self-sacrifice and love of humanity
that have characterized clergymen and religious orders of all faiths:

Those divines ... who are truly adorned with the ornament of knowledge and
of a goodly character are, verily, as a head to the body of the world, and
as eyes to the nations....(90)

Rather, the challenge to all people, believers and unbelievers, clergy and
laymen alike, is to recognize the consequences now being visited upon the
world as the result of the universal corruption of the religious impulse.
In the prevailing alienation of humanity from God over the past century, a
relationship on which the fabric of moral life itself depends has broken
down. Natural faculties of the rational soul, vital to the development and
maintenance of human values, have become universally discounted:

The vitality of men’s belief in God is dying out in every land; nothing
short of His wholesome medicine can ever restore it. The corrosion of
ungodliness is eating into the vitals of human society; what else but the
Elixir of His potent Revelation can cleanse and revive it?... The Word of
God, alone, can claim the distinction of being endowed with the capacity
required for so great and far-reaching a change.(91)



WORLD PEACE


In the light of subsequent events, the warnings and appeals of
Bahá’u’lláh’s writings during this period take on a terrible poignancy:

O ye the elected representatives of the people in every land!... Regard
the world as the human body which, though at its creation whole and
perfect, hath been afflicted, through various causes, with grave disorders
and maladies. Not for one day did it gain ease, nay its sickness waxed
more severe, as it fell under the treatment of ignorant physicians, who
gave full rein to their personal desires...

We behold it, in this day, at the mercy of rulers so drunk with pride that
they cannot discern clearly their own best advantage, much less recognize
a Revelation so bewildering and challenging as this....(92)

This is the Day whereon the earth shall tell out her tidings. The workers
of iniquity are her burdens, could ye but perceive it....(93)

All men have been created to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization.
The Almighty beareth Me witness: To act like the beasts of the field is
unworthy of man. Those virtues that befit his dignity are forbearance,
mercy, compassion and loving-kindness towards all the peoples and kindreds
of the earth....(94)

A new life is, in this age, stirring within all the peoples of the earth;
and yet none hath discovered its cause or perceived its motive. Consider
the peoples of the West. Witness how, in their pursuit of that which is
vain and trivial, they have sacrificed, and are still sacrificing,
countless lives for the sake of its establishment and promotion....(95)

In all matters moderation is desirable. If a thing is carried to excess,
it will prove a source of evil.... Strange and astonishing things exist in
the earth but they are hidden from the minds and the understanding of men.
These things are capable of changing the whole atmosphere of the earth and
their contamination would prove lethal....(96)

In later writings, including those addressed to humanity collectively,
Bahá’u’lláh urged the adoption of steps toward what He called the “Great
Peace.” These, He said, would mitigate the sufferings and dislocation
which He saw lying ahead of the human race until the world’s peoples
embrace the Revelation of God and through it bring about the Most Great
Peace:

The time must come when the imperative necessity for the holding of a
vast, an all-embracing assemblage of men will be universally realized. The
rulers and kings of the earth must needs attend it, and, participating in
its deliberations, must consider such ways and means as will lay the
foundations of the world’s Great Peace amongst men. Such a peace demandeth
that the Great Powers should resolve, for the sake of the tranquility of
the peoples of the earth, to be fully reconciled among themselves. Should
any king take up arms against another, all should unitedly arise and
prevent him. If this be done, the nations of the world will no longer
require any armaments, except for the purpose of preserving the security
of their realms and of maintaining internal order within their
territories.... The day is approaching when all the peoples of the world
will have adopted one universal language and one common script. When this
is achieved, to whatsoever city a man may journey, it shall be as if he
were entering his own home.... That one indeed is a man who, today,
dedicateth himself to the service of the entire human race.... It is not
for him to pride himself who loveth his own country, but rather for him
who loveth the whole world. The earth is but one country, and mankind its
citizens.(97)



“NOT OF MINE OWN VOLITION”


In His letter to Náṣiri’d-Dín _Sh_áh, the ruler of Persia, which refrains
from any rebuke concerning His imprisonment in the Síyáh-_Ch_ál and the
other injustices He had experienced at the king’s hand, Bahá’u’lláh speaks
of His own role in the Divine Plan:

I was but a man like others, asleep upon My couch, when lo, the breezes of
the All-Glorious were wafted over Me, and taught Me the knowledge of all
that hath been. This thing is not from Me, but from One Who is Almighty
and All-Knowing. And He bade Me lift up My voice between earth and heaven,
and for this there befell Me what hath caused the tears of every man of
understanding to flow. The learning current amongst men I studied not;
their schools I entered not. Ask of the city wherein I dwelt, that thou
mayest be well assured that I am not of them who speak falsely.(98)

The mission to which He had devoted His entire life, which had cost Him
the life of a cherished younger son(99) , as well as all of His material ,
possessions which had undermined His health, and brought imprisonment,
exile, and abuse, was not one that He had initiated. “Not of Mine own
volition,” He said, had He entered on such a course:

Think ye, O people, that I hold within My grasp the control of God’s
ultimate Will and Purpose?... Had the ultimate destiny of God’s Faith been
in Mine hands, I would have never consented, even though for one moment,
to manifest Myself unto you, nor would I have allowed one word to fall
from My lips. Of this God Himself is, verily, a witness.(100)

Having surrendered unreservedly to God’s summons, He was equally in no
doubt about the role which He had been called upon to play in human
history. As the Manifestation of God to the age of fulfillment, He is the
one promised in all the scriptures of the past, the “Desire of all
nations,” the “King of Glory.” To Judaism He is “Lord of Hosts”; to
Christianity, the Return of Christ in the glory of the Father; to Islam,
the “Great Announcement”; to Buddhism, the Maitreya Buddha; to Hinduism,
the new incarnation of Krishna; to Zoroastrianism, the advent of
“_Sh_áh-Bahrám.”(101)

Like the Manifestations of God gone before Him, He is both the Voice of
God and its human channel: “When I contemplate, O my God, the relationship
that bindeth me to Thee, I am moved to proclaim to all created things
‘verily I am God!’; and when I consider my own self, lo, I find it coarser
than clay!”(102)

“Certain ones among you,” He declared, “have said: ‘He it is Who hath laid
claim to be God.’ By God! This is a gross calumny. I am but a servant of
God Who hath believed in Him and in His signs... My tongue, and My heart,
and My inner and My outer being testify that there is no God but Him, that
all others have been created by His behest, and been fashioned through the
operation of His Will.... I am He that telleth abroad the favors with
which God hath, through His bounty, favored Me. If this be My
transgression, then I am truly the first of the transgressors....”(103)

Bahá’u’lláh’s writings seize upon a host of metaphors in their attempt to
express the paradox that lies at the heart of the phenomenon of God’s
Revelation of His Will:

I am the royal Falcon on the arm of the Almighty. I unfold the drooping
wings of every broken bird and start it on its flight.(104)

This is but a leaf which the winds of the will of thy Lord, the Almighty,
the All-Praised, have stirred. Can it be still when the tempestuous winds
are blowing? Nay, by Him Who is the Lord of all Names and Attributes! They
move it as they list....(105)



THE COVENANT OF GOD WITH HUMANKIND


In June 1877, Bahá’u’lláh at last emerged from the strict confinement of
the prison-city of Akká, and moved with His family to “Mazra‘ih”, a small
estate a few miles north of the city.(106) As had been predicted in His
statement to the Turkish government, Sulṭán ‘Abdu’l-‘Azíz had been
overthrown and assassinated in a palace coup, and gusts from the winds of
political change sweeping the world were beginning to invade even the
shuttered precincts of the Ottoman imperial system. After a brief two-year
stay at Mazra‘ih, Bahá’u’lláh moved to “Bahjí”, a large mansion surrounded
by gardens, which His son ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had rented for Him and the members
of His extended family.(107) The remaining twelve years of His life were
devoted to His writings on a wide range of spiritual and social issues,
and to receiving a stream of Bahá’í pilgrims who made their way, with
great difficulty, from Persia and other lands.

Throughout the Near and Middle East the nucleus of a community life was
beginning to take shape among those who had accepted His message. For its
guidance, Bahá’u’lláh had revealed a system of laws and institutions
designed to give practical effect to the principles in His writings.(108)
Authority was vested in councils democratically elected by the whole
community, provisions were made to exclude the possibility of a clerical
elite arising, and principles of consultation and group decision making
were established.

At the heart of this system was what Bahá’u’lláh termed a “new Covenant”
between God and humankind. The distinguishing feature of humanity’s coming
of age is that, for the first time in its history, the entire human race
is consciously involved, however dimly, in the awareness of its own
oneness and of the earth as a single homeland. This awakening opens the
way to a new relationship between God and humankind. As the peoples of the
world embrace the spiritual authority inherent in the guidance of the
Revelation of God for this age, Bahá’u’lláh said, they will find in
themselves a moral empowerment which human effort alone has proven
incapable of generating. “A new race of men”(109) will emerge as the
result of this relationship, and the work of building a global
civilization will begin. The mission of the Bahá’í community was to
demonstrate the efficacy of this Covenant in healing the ills that divide
the human race.

Bahá’u’lláh died at Bahjí on May 29, 1892, in His 75th year. At the time
of His passing, the cause entrusted to Him forty years earlier in the
darkness of Teheran’s Black Pit was poised to break free of the Islamic
lands where it had taken shape, and to establish itself first across
America and Europe and then throughout the world. In doing so, it would
itself become a vindication of the promise of the new Covenant between God
and humankind. For alone of all the world’s independent religions, the
Bahá’í Faith and its community of believers were to pass successfully
through the critical first century of their existence with their unity
firmly intact, undamaged by the age-old blight of schism and faction.
Their experience offers compelling evidence for Bahá’u’lláh’s assurance
that the human race, in all its diversity, can learn to live and work as
one people, in a common global homeland.

Just two years before His death, Bahá’u’lláh received at Bahjí one of the
few Westerners to meet Him, and the only one to leave a written account of
the experience. The visitor was Edward Granville Browne, a rising young
orientalist from Cambridge University, whose attention had originally been
attracted by the dramatic history of the Báb and His heroic band of
followers. Of his meeting with Bahá’u’lláh, Browne wrote:

Though I dimly suspected whither I was going and whom I was to behold (for
no distinct intimation had been given to me), a second or two elapsed ere,
with a throb of wonder and awe, I became definitely conscious that the
room was not untenanted. In the corner where the divan met the wall sat a
wondrous and venerable figure... The face of him on whom I gazed I can
never forget, though I cannot describe it. Those piercing eyes seemed to
read one’s very soul; power and authority sat on that ample brow... No
need to ask in whose presence I stood, as I bowed myself before one who is
the object of a devotion and love which kings might envy and emperors sigh
for in vain! A mild dignified voice bade me be seated, and then
continued:--“Praise be to God that thou hast attained!...Thou hast come to
see a prisoner and an exile...We desire but the good of the world and the
happiness of the nations; yet they deem us a stirrer up of strife and
sedition worthy of bondage and banishment...That all nations should become
one in faith and all men as brothers; that the bonds of affection and
unity between the sons of men should be strengthened; that diversity of
religion should cease, and differences of race be annulled--what harm is
there in this?...Yet so it shall be; these fruitless strifes, these
ruinous wars shall pass away, and the ‘Most great Peace’ shall
come...”(110)





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