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Baha'u'llah and the New Era (part 1)

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Baha'u'llah and the New Era
 An Introduction to the Baha'i Faith
 By J.E. Esslemont
 This etext is based on:
 "Baha'u'llah and the New Era" by J.E. Esslemont
 Bahá'í Publishing Trust, Wilmette, Illinois 60091
 Copyright 1950, (c) 1970, 1976, 1980 by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States
 All Rights Reserved

 First edition, George Allen  Unwin Ltd., London, 1923
 First revised edition, Baha'i Publishing Committee, New York, 1937
 Second revised edition, Baha'i Publishing Committee, Wilmette, 1950
 Third revised edition, Baha'i Publishing Trust, Wilmette, 1970
 Fourth revised paper edition, Baha'i Publishing Trust, Wilmette, 1976
 Fourth revised cloth edition, Baha'i Publishing Trust, Wilmette, 1980
 Fifth revised paper edition, Baha'i Publishing Trust, Wilmette, 1980

 Availability of this etext in no way modifies the copyright status of the above publication.
 This etext is freely available through anonymous internet file-sharing.

 Preface to 1937 Edition...............................       vii
 Preface to 1950 Edition...............................        ix
 Preface to 1970 Edition...............................        xi
 Introduction..........................................      xiii
 1.  The Glad Tidings..................................         1
 2.  The Bab:  The Forerunner.........................        11
 3.  Baha'u'llah: The Glory of God...................         23
 4.  Abdu'l-Baha: The Servant of Baha...............         51
 5.  What Is a Baha'i?...............................         71
 6.  Prayer............................................        88
 7.  Health and Healing................................       101
 8.  Religious Unity...................................       116
 9.  True Civilization.................................       133
10.  The Way to Peace..................................       156
11.  Various Ordinances and Teachings..................       175
12.  Religion and Science..............................       197
13.  Prophecies Fulfilled by the Baha'i Movement.....        211
14.  Prophecies of Baha'u'llah and Abdu'l-Baha.....         234
15.  Retrospect and Prospect...........................       252
16.  Epilogue..........................................       283
     Basic References on the Baha'i Faith............        287
     Index.............................................       289
Preface to 1937 Edition
     With the publication of "Baha'u'llah and the New Era" more
than ten years ago, the Baha'i Faith was given its first well-
conceived, thorough exposition by a student of the teachings.
Recognizing its value as the most satisfactory introduction to
the Cause, Baha'is in both East and West have found Dr.
Esslemont's book so helpful that it has been translated into
some thirty different languages.
     As Dr. Esslemont himself recognized, the Faith entered a
new phase of its history after the ascension of Abdu'l-Baha.
The result is that the author's views, some of them written
prior to 1921, no longer, on certain aspects of the subject, correspond
to the evolutionary character of the Faith.  His treatment
of events and social conditions then existing, moreover,
no longer appears fully relevant.  Unavoidably, a few errors of
fact had entered his text, while his explanation of the stations
of the Bab and of Abdu'l-Baha have been replaced in the
minds of Baha'is by the authoritative interpretations since
made by the first Guardian of the Faith, Shoghi Effendi.
     The present edition therefore represents a revision made by
the American National Spiritual Assembly, acting under the
advice and approval of Shoghi Effendi.
     These revisions in no respect alter the original plan of Dr.
Esselmont's book, nor affect the major portion of his text.
Their purpose has been to amplify the author's discussion in a
few passages by the addition of material representing the fuller
knowledge available since his lamented death, and newer translations
of his quotations from Baha'i Sacred Writings.
                                    Baha'i Publishing Committee
January, 1937
Preface to 1950 Edition
     With this edition the American Baha'i Publishing Committee
takes over copyright and other interests in "Baha'u'llah
and the New Era" from Messrs. George Allen  Unwin Ltd., of
London, England, through whom the late Dr. J. E. Esslemont
published his famous book more than twenty years ago.  Under
arrangement with the British publishers, the Committee has
since 1928 brought out eleven printings, in addition to the first
American edition imported by Brentano's of New York.
     This edition does not displace the text as it has appeared
since major revision was made in the book under the direction
of the Guardian of the Faith in 1937, as the time has not come
for anything like a thorough recasting of the book to make its
references to world conditions completely contemporaneous.
Dr. Esslemont's work endures as a trustworthy introduction to
the history and teachings of the Baha'i Faith.  Its translation
into some thirty different languages attests its appeal to
students in the East as well as the West.
     It should be added that any further revision of the text in
the future is subject to approval by Shoghi Effendi.  The Committee
has no authority to pass upon revisions which may be
desired by Baha'is of other countries for their particular need.
                                    Baha'i Publishing Committee
December, 1950
Preface to 1970 Edition
     Since 1937 no revision has been made to the text of Dr.
Esslemont's book, although in 1950 some minor corrections
were introduced.  On the other hand, the diffusion and development
of the Baha'i Faith since that time have been tremendous,
and there has been added to Baha'i bibliography a rich legacy
of incomparable expositions, translations and historical accounts
from the pen of Shoghi Effendi, Guardian of the Faith
and the appointed interpreter of its Sacred Writings.
     It has therefore been deemed necessary to bring the book up
to date in order to maintain its usefulness for modern readers.
This has been done with a minimum of alteration to the text,
and chiefly by the use of footnotes and of an epilogue giving
the current statistics and new developments in the organic
unfoldment of the Baha'i Faith.
     Dr. Esslemont's book continues to be one of the most
widely used introductory books on the Baha'i Faith, as evidenced
by the fact that since 1937 the number of its translations
has increased from thirty to fifty-eight.
                                    Baha'i Publishing Trust
     In December 1914, through a conversation with friends who
had met Abdu'l-Baha, and the loan of a few pamphlets, I
first became acquainted with the Baha'i teachings.  I was at
once struck by their comprehensiveness, power and beauty.
They impressed me as meeting the great needs of the modern
world more fully and satisfactorily than any other presentation
of religion which I had come across -- an impression
which subsequent study has only served to deepen and confirm.
     In seeking for fuller knowledge about the movement I
found considerable difficulty in obtaining the literature I
wanted, and soon conceived the idea of putting together the
gist of what I learned in the form of a book, so that it might
be more easily available for others.  When communication with
Palestine was reopened after the war, I wrote to Abdu'l-Baha
and enclosed a copy of the first nine chapters of the book,
which was then almost complete in rough draft.  I received a
very kind and encouraging reply, and a cordial invitation to visit
Him in Haifa and bring the whole of my manuscript with
me.  The invitation was gladly accepted, and I had the great
privilege of spending two and a half months as the guest of
Abdu'l-Baha during the winter of 1919-1920.  During this
visit Abdu'l-Baha discussed the book with me on various occasions.
He gave several valuable suggestions for its improvement
and proposed that, when I had revised the manuscript,
He would have the whole of it translated into Persian so that
He could read it through and amend or correct it where necessary.
The revisal and translation were carried out as suggested,
and Abdu'l-Baha found time, amid His busy life, to
correct some three and a half chapters (Chapters I, II, V and
part of III) before He passed away.  It is a matter of profound
regret to met that Abdu'l-Baha was not able to complete
the correction of the manuscript, as the value of the book
would thereby have been greatly enhanced.  The whole of the
manuscript has been carefully revised, however, by a committee
of the National Baha'i Assembly of England, and its
publication approved by that Assembly.
     I am greatly indebted to Miss E. J. Rosenberg, Mrs. Claudia
S. Coles, Mirza Lutfu'llah S. Hakim, Messrs. Roy Wilhelm
and Mountfort Mills and many other kind friends for valuable
help in the preparation of the work.
     As regards the transliteration of Arabic and Persian names
and words, the system adopted in this book is that recently
recommended by Shoghi Effendi for use throughout the
Baha'i World.
                                    J. E. ESSLEMONT
Fairford, Cults,
  By Aberdeen.
                                 and the

The Glad Tidings/1
     The Promised One of all the peoples of the world hath appeared.
All peoples and communities have been expecting a
Revelation, and He, Baha'u'llah, is the foremost teacher and
educator of all mankind. -- ABDU'L-BAHA.
The Greatest Event in History
   If we study the story of the "ascent of man" as recorded in
the pages of history, it becomes evident that the leading factor
in human progress is the advent, from time to time, of men
who pass beyond the accepted ideas of their day and become
the discoverers and revealers of truths hitherto unknown
among mankind.  The inventor, the pioneer, the genius, the
Prophet -- these are the men on whom the transformation of
world primarily depends.  As Carlyle says: --
     The plain truth, very plain, we think is, that ... one
   man that has a higher Wisdom, a hitherto unknown
   spiritual Truth in him, is stronger, not than ten men that
   have it not, or than ten thousand, but than all men that
   have it not; and stands among them with a quite ethereal,
   angelic power, as with a sword out of Heaven's own armory,
   sky-tempered, which no buckler, and no tower of
   brass, will finally withstand. -- Sign of the Times
   In the history of science, of art, of music, we see abundant
illustrations of this truth, but in no domain is the supreme importance
of the great man and his message more clearly evident
than in that of religion.  All down the ages, whenever the
spiritual life of men has become degenerate and their morals
corrupt, that most wonderful and mysterious of men, the
Prophet, makes His appearance.  Alone against the world, without
a single human being capable of teaching, of guiding, of
fully understanding Him, or of sharing His responsibility, He
arises, like a seer among blind men, to proclaim His gospel of
righteousness and truth.
   Amongst the Prophets some stand out with special pre-eminence.
Every few centuries a great Divine Revealer -- a
Krishna, a Zoroaster, a Moses, a Jesus, a Muhammad -- appears
in the East, like a spiritual Sun, to illumine the darkened
minds of men and awaken their dormant souls.  Whatever our
views as to the relative greatness of these religion-founders
we must admit that They have been the most potent factors in
the education of mankind.  With one accord these Prophets
declare that the words They utter are not from "Themselves,
but are a Revelation through Them, a Divine message of which
They are the bearers.  Their recorded utterances abound, too,
in hints and promises of a great world teacher Who will appear
"in the fullness of time" to carry on Their work and bring
it to fruition, One Who will establish a reign of peace and
justice upon earth, and bring into one family all races, religions,
nations, and tribes, that "there may be one fold and
one shepherd" and that all may know and love God "from the
least even unto the greatest."
   Surely the advent of this "Educator of Mankind," in the latter
days, when He appears, must be the greatest event in
human history.  And the Baha'i Movement is proclaiming to the
world the glad tidings that this Educator has in fact appeared,
that His Revelation has been delivered and recorded and may
be studied by every earnest seeker, that the "Day of the Lord"
has already dawned and the "Sun or Righteousness" arisen.  As
yet only a few on the mountaintops have caught sight of the
Glorious Orb, but already its rays are illumining heaven and
earth, and erelong it will rise above the mountains and shine
with full strength on the plains and valleys too, giving life and
guidance to all.
The Changing World
   That the world, during the nineteenth and the early part of the
twentieth centuries,+F1 has been passing through the death
1.  Written shortly after the First World War.
pangs of an old era and the birth pangs of a new, is evident to
all.  The old principles of materialism and self-interest, the old
sectarian and patriotic prejudices and animosities, are perishing,
discredited, amidst the ruins they have wrought, and in all
lands we see signs of a new spirit of faith, of brotherhood, of
internationalism, that is bursting the old bonds and overrunning
the old boundaries.  Revolutionary changes of unprecedented
magnitude have been occurring in every department of
human life.  The old era is not yet dead.  It is engaged in a life
and death struggle with the new.  Evils there are in plenty,
gigantic and formidable, but they are being exposed, investigated,
challenged and attacked with new vigor and hope.
Clouds there are in plenty, vast and threatening, but the light
is breaking through, and is illumining the path of progress and
revealing the obstacles and pitfalls that obstruct the onward
   In the eighteenth century it was different.  Then the spiritual
and moral gloom that enshrouded the world was relieved by
hardly a ray of light.  It was like the darkest hour before the
dawn, when the few lamps and candles that remain alight do
little more than make the darkness visible.  Carlyle in his
Frederick the Great writes of the eighteenth century thus: --
     A century which has no history and can have little or
   none.  A century so opulent in accumulated falsities ...
   as never century before was!  Which had no longer the
   consciousness of being false, so false had it grown; and
   was so steeped in falsity, and impregnated with it to the
   very bone, that -- in fact the measure of the thing was full,
   and a French Revolution had to end it. ... A very fit
   termination, as I thankfully fell, for such a century. ...
   For there was need once more of a Divine Revelation to
   the torpid, frivolous children of men, if they were not to
   sink altogether into the ape condition. -- Frederick the
   Great, Book I, Chap. I.
   Compared with the eighteenth century the present time is
as the dawn after darkness, or as the spring after winter.  The
world is stirring with new life, thrilling with new ideals and
hopes.  Things that but a few years ago seemed impossible
dreams are now accomplished facts.  Others that seemed centuries
ahead of us have already become matters of "practical
politics."  We fly in the air and make voyages under the sea.
We send messages around the world with the speed of lightning.
Within a few decades we have seen miracles too numerous
to mention.
The Sun of Righteousness
   What is the cause of this sudden awakening throughout the
world?  Baha'is believe that it is due to a great outpouring of
the Holy Spirit through the Prophet Baha'u'llah, Who was born
in Persia in 1817 and passed away in the Holy Land in 1892.
   Baha'u'llah taught that the Prophet, or "Manifestation of
God," is the Light-bringer of the spiritual world, as the sun is
the light-bringer of the natural world.  Just as the material sun
shines over the earth and causes the growth and development
of material organisms, so also, through the Divine Manifestation,
the Sun of Truth shines upon the world of heart and soul,
and educates the thoughts, morals and characters of men.  And
just as the rays of the natural sun have an influence which
penetrates into the darkest and shadiest corners of the world,
giving warmth and life even to creatures that have never seen
the sun itself, so also, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit through
the Manifestation of God influences the lives of all, and inspires
receptive minds even in places and among peoples where
the name of the Prophet is quite unknown.  The advent of the
Manifestation is like the coming of the Spring.  It is a day of
Resurrection in which the spiritually dead are raised to new
life, in which the Reality of the Divine Religions is renewed and
reestablished, in which appear "new heaves and a new earth."
   But, in the world of nature, the Spring brings about not only
the growth and awakening of new life but also the destruction
and removal of the old and effete; for the same sun, that makes
the flowers to spring and the trees to bud, causes also the decay
and disintegration of what is dead and useless; it loosens the
ice and melts the snow of winter, and sets free the flood and
the storm that cleanse and purify the earth.  So is it also in the
spiritual world.  The spiritual sunshine causes similar commotion
and change.  Thus the Day of Resurrection is also the Day
of Judgment, in which corruptions and imitations of the truth
and outworn ideas and customs are discarded and destroyed,
in which the ice and snow of prejudice and superstition, which
accumulated during the season of winter, are melted and transformed,
and energies long frozen and pent up are released to
flood and renovate the world.
The Mission of Baha'u'llah
   Baha'u'llah declared, plainly and repeatedly, that He was
the long-expected educator and teacher of all peoples, the
channel of a wondrous Grace that would transcend all previous
outpourings, in which all previous forms of religion would become
merged, as rivers merge in the ocean.  He laid a foundation
which affords a firm basis for Unity throughout the whole
world and the inauguration of that glorious age of peace on
earth, goodwill among men, of which prophets have told and
poets sung.
   Search after truth, the oneness of mankind, unity of religions,
of races, of nations, of East and West, the reconciliation of
religion and science, the eradication of prejudices and superstitions,
the equality of men and women, the establishment of
justice and righteousness, the setting up of a supreme international
tribunal, the unification of languages, the compulsory
diffusion of knowledge -- these, and many other teachings like
these, were revealed by the pen of Baha'u'llah during the latter
half of the nineteenth century in innumerable books and
epistles several of which were addressed to the Kings and Rulers
of the world.
   His message, unique in its comprehensiveness and scope, is
wonderfully in accord with the signs and needs of the times.
Never were the new problems confronting men so gigantic and
complex as now.  Never were the proposed solutions so numerous
and conflicting.  Never was the need of a great world
teacher so urgent or so widely felt.  Never, perhaps, was the
expectancy of such a teacher so confident or so general.
Fulfillment of Prophecies
Abdu'l-Baha writes: --
     When Christ appeared, twenty centuries ago, although
   the Jews were eagerly awaiting His Coming, and prayed
   ever day, with tears, saying: "O God, hasten the Revelation
   of the Messiah," yet when the Sun of Truth dawned,
   they denied Him and rose against Him with the greatest
   enmity, and eventually crucified that divine Spirit, the
   Word of God, and named Him Beelzebub, the evil one, as
   is recorded in the Gospel.  The reason for this was that
   they said:  "The Revelation of Christ, according to the
   clear text of the Torah, will be attested by certain signs,
   and so long as these signs have not appeared, whoso
   layeth claim to be a Messiah is an impostor.  Among these
   signs is this, that the Messiah should come for an unknown
   place, yet we all know this man's house in Nazareth,
   and can any good thing come out of Nazareth?  The
   second sign is that He shall rule with a rod of iron, that is,
   He must act with the sword, but this Messiah has not even
   a wooden staff.  Another of the conditions and signs is
   this:  He must sit upon the throne of David and establish
   David's sovereignty.  Now, far from being enthroned, this
   man has not even a mat to sit on.  Another of the conditions
   is this:  the promulgation of all the laws of the Torah;
   yet this man has abrogated these laws, and has even
   broken the sabbath day, although it is the clear text of the
   Torah that whosoever layeth claim to prophethood and
   revealeth miracles and breaketh the sabbath day, must be
   put to death.  Another of the signs is this, that in His reign
   justice will be so advanced that righteousness and well-doing
   will extend from the human even to the animal
   world -- the snake and the mouse will share one hold, and
   the eagle and the partridge one nest, the lion and the
   gazelle shall dwell in one pasture, and the wolf and the kid
   shall drink from one fountain.  Yet now, injustice and
   tyranny have waxed so great in his time that they have
   crucified him!  Another of the conditions is this, that in
   the days of the Messiah the Jews will prosper and triumph
   over all the peoples of the world, but now they are living
   in the utmost abasement and servitude in the Empire of
   the Romans.  Then how can this be the Messiah promised
   in the Torah?
     In this wise did they object to that Sun of Truth, although
   that Spirit of God was indeed the One promised in
   the Torah.  But as they did not understand the meaning of
   these signs, they crucified the Word of God.  Now the
   Baha'is hold that the recorded signs did come to pass in
   the Manifestation of Christ, although not in the sense
   which the Jews understood, the description in the Torah
   being allegorical.  For instance, among the signs is that of
   sovereignty.  For Baha'is say that the sovereignty of Christ
   was a heavenly, divine, everlasting sovereignty, not a
   Napoleonic sovereignty that vanisheth in a short time.  For
   well-nigh two thousand years this sovereignty of Christ
   hath been established, and until now it endureth, and to
   all eternity that Holy Being will be exalted upon an ever-lasting
     In like manner all the other signs have been made manifest,
   but the Jews did not understand.  Although nearly
   twenty centuries have elapsed since Christ appeared with
   divine splendor, yet the Jews are still awaiting the coming
   of the Messiah and regard themselves as true and Christ
   as false. -- Written by Abdu'l-Baha for this chapter.
   Had the Jews applied to Christ He would have explained to
them the true meaning of the prophecies concerning Himself.
Let us profit by their example, and before deciding that the
prophecies concerning the Manifestation of the Latter-Day
Teacher have not been fulfilled, let us turn to what Baha'u'llah
Himself has written regarding their interpretation, for many
of the prophecies are admittedly "sealed" sayings, and the True
Educator Himself is the only One Who can break the seals and
show the real meaning contained in the casket of words.
   Baha'u'llah has written much in explanation of the prophecies
of old, but it is not on these that He depends for proof of
His Prophethood.  The sun is its own proof, to all that have the
power of perception.  When it rises we need no ancient predictions
to assure us of its shining.  So with the Manifestation of
God when He appears.  Were all the former prophecies swept
into oblivion, He would still be His own abundant and sufficient
proof to all whose spiritual sense are open.
Proofs of Prophethood
   Baha'u'llah asked no one to accept His statements and His
tokens blindly.  On the contrary, He put in the very forefront
of His teachings emphatic warnings against blind acceptance
of authority, and urged all to open their eyes and ears, and use
their own judgement, independently and fearlessly, in order to
ascertain the truth.  He enjoined the fullest investigation and
never concealed Himself, offering, as the supreme proofs of
His Prophethood, His words and works and their effects in
transforming the lives and characters of men.  The tests He
proposed are the same as those laid down by His great predecessors.
Moses said: --
     When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if
   the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing
   which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath
   spoken it presumptuously:  thou shalt not be afraid of
   him. -- Deut. xviii, 22.
   Christ put His test just as plainly, and appealed to it in proof
of His own claim.  He said: --
     Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's
   clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.  Ye shall
   know them by their fruits.  Do men gather grapes of
   thorns, or figs of thistles?  Even so every good tree bringeth
   forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil
   fruit. ... Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
   -- Matt. vii, 15-17, 20
   In the chapters that follow, we shall endeavor to show
whether Baha'u'llah's claim to Prophethood stands or falls by
application of these tests:  whether the things that He had
spoken have followed and come to pass, and whether His fruits
have been good or evil; in other words, whether His prophecies
are being fulfilled and His ordinances established, and whether
His lifework has contributed to the education and upliftment
of humanity and the betterment of morals, or the contrary.
Difficulties of Investigation
   There are, of course, difficulties in the way of the student
who seeks to get at the truth about this Cause.  Like all great
moral and spiritual reformations, the Baha'i Faith has been
grossly misrepresented.  About the terrible persecutions and
sufferings of Baha'u'llah and His followers, both friends and
enemies are in entire agreement.  About the value of the Movement,
however, and the character of its Founders, the statements
of the believers and the accounts of the deniers are utterly
at variance.  It is just as in the time of Christ.  Concerning
the crucifixion of Jesus and the persecution and martyrdom of
His followers both Christian and Jewish historians are in agreement,
but whereas the believers say that Christ fulfilled and
developed the teachings of Moses and the prophets, the deniers
declare that He broke the laws and ordinances and was worthy
of death.
   In religion, as in science, truth reveals her mysteries only to
the humble and reverent seeker, who is ready to lay aside every
prejudice and superstition -- to sell all that he has, in order
that he may buy the "one pearl of great price."  To understand
the Baha'i Faith in its full significance, we must undertake its
study in the spirit of sincere and selfless devotion to truth,
persevering in the path of search and relying on divine guidance.
In the Writings of its Founders we shall find the master
key to the mysteries of this great spiritual awakening, and the
ultimate criterion of its value.  Unfortunately, here again there
are difficulties in the way of the student who is unacquainted
with the Persian and Arabic languages in which the teachings
are written.  Only a small proportion of the Writings has been
translated into English, and many of the translations which
have appeared leave much to be desired, both in accuracy and
style.  But despite the imperfection and inadequacy of historical
narratives and translations, the greatest essential truths which
form the massive and firm foundations of this Cause stand out
like mountains from the mists of uncertainty.+F1
Aim of Book
   The endeavor in the following chapters will be to set forth,
as far as possible, fairly and without prejudice, the salient
features of the history and more especially of the teachings of
the Baha'i Cause, so that readers may be enabled to form an
intelligent judgment as to their importance, and perhaps be
induced to search into the subject more deeply for themselves.
   Search after truth, however, important though it be, is not
the whole aim and end of life.  The truth is no dead thing, to be
placed in a museum when found -- to be labeled, classified,
catalogued, exhibited and left there, dry and sterile.  It is something
vital which must take root in men's hearts and bear fruit
in their lives ere they reap the full reward of their search.
   The real object, therefore, in spreading the knowledge of a
prophetic revelation is that those who become convinced of its
truth may proceed to practice its principles, to "lead the life"
and diffuse the glad tidings, thus hastening the advent of that
blessed day when God's Will shall be done on earth as it is in
1.    There are now the incomparable translations by Shoghi Effendi from
    the Persian and Arabic, of the Writings of Baha'u'llah and Abdu'l-Baha.
    These, together with his own considerable writings covering the history of
    the Faith, the statements and implications of its fundamental verities and
    the unfoldment of its Administrative Order, make the modern inquirer's
    task infinitely easier than in Dr. Esslemont's time.
The Bab:+F1 The Forerunner/2
   Verily the oppressor hath slain the Beloved of the worlds
that he might thereby quench the Light of God amidst His
creatures and withhold mankind from the Stream of Celestial
Life in the days of his Lord, the Gracious, the Bountiful. --
BAHA'U'LLAH, Tablet to Ra'is.
Birthplace of the New Revelation
   Persia, the birthplace of the Baha'i Revelation, has occupied
a unique place in the history of the world.  In the days of her
early greatness she was a veritable queen among nations, unrivaled
in civilization, in power and in splendor.  She gave to
the world great kings and statesmen, prophets and poets, philosophers
and artists.  Zoroaster, Cyrus and Darius, Hafiz and
Firdawsi, Sa'di and `Umar Khayyam are but a few of her many
famous sons.  Her craftsmen were unsurpassed in skill; her
carpets were matchless, her steel blades unequaled, her pottery
world famous.  In all parts of the Near and Middle East she has
left traces of her former greatness.
   Yet, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries she had sunk
to a condition of deplorable degradation.  Her ancient glory
seemed irretrievably lost.  Her government was corrupt and in
desperate financial straits; some of her rulers were feeble, and
other monsters of cruelty.  Her priests were bigoted and intolerant,
her people ignorant and superstitious.  Most of them
belonged to the Shi'ih sect,+F2 of Muhammadans, but there were
also considerable numbers of Zoroastrians, Jews and Christians,
1.    The "a" pronounced as in Shah.
2.    One of the two great factions -- Shi'ih and Sunni -- into which
    fell soon after the death of Muhammad, was the first legitimate successor
    of the Prophet, and that only his descendants are the rightful caliphs.
of diverse and antagonistic sects.  All professed to follow
sublime teachers who exhorted them to worship the one God
and to live in love and unity, yet they shunned, detested and
despised each other, each sect regarding the others as unclean,
as dogs or heathens.  Cursing and execration were indulged in
to a fearful extent.  It was dangerous for a Jew or a Zoroastrian
to walk in the street on a rainy day, for if his wet garment
should touch a Muhammadan, the Muslim was defiled, and the
other might have to atone for the offense with his life.  If a
Muhammadan took money from a Jew, Zoroastrian or Christian
he had to wash it before he could put it in his pocket.  If a
Jew found his child giving a glass of water to a poor Muhammadan
beggar he would dash the glass from the child's hand,
for curses rather than kindness should be the portion of infidels!
The Muslims themselves were divided into numerous
sects, among whom strife was often bitter and fierce.  The Zoroastrians
did not join much in these mutual recriminations, but
lived in communities apart, refusing to associate with their
fellow countrymen of other faiths.
   Social as well as religious affairs were in a state of hopeless
decadence.  Education was neglected.  Western science and art
were looked upon as unclean and contrary to religion.  Justice
was travestied.  Pillage and robbery were of common occurrence.
Roads were bad and unsafe for travel.  Sanitary arrangements
were shockingly defective.
   Yet, notwithstanding all this, the light of spiritual life was
not extinct in Persia.  Here and there, amid the prevailing
worldliness and superstition, could still be found some saintly
souls, and in many a heart the longing for God was cherished,
as in the hearts of Anna and Simeon before the appearance of
Jesus.  Many were eagerly awaiting the coming of a promised
Messenger of God, and confident that the time of His advent
was at hand.  Such was the state of affairs in Persia when the
Bab, the Herald of a new era, set all the country in commotion
with His message.
Early Life
Mirza Ali Muhammad, Who afterwards assumed the title
of Bab (i.e. Gate), was born at Shiraz, in the south of Persia,
on the 20th of October 1819 A.D.+F1  He was a Siyyid, that is, a
descendant of the Prophet Muhammad.  His father, a well-known
merchant, died soon after His birth, and He was then
placed under the care of a maternal uncle, a merchant of
Shiraz, who brought Him up.  In childhood He learned to read,
and received the elementary education customary for children.+F2
At the age of fifteen He went into business, at first with His
guardian, and afterward with another uncle who lived at
Bushihr, on the shore of the Gulf of Persia.
   As a youth He was noted for great personal beauty and
charm of manner, and also for exceptional piety, and nobility
of character.  He was unfailing in His observance of the prayers,
fasts and other ordinances of the Muhammadan religion, and
not only obeyed the letter, but lived in the spirit of the Prophet's
teachings.  He married when about twenty-two years of age.
Of this marriage one son was born, who died while still an
infant, in the first year of the Bab's public ministry.
1.    First day of Muharram, 1235 A.H.
2.    On this point a historian remarks: "The belief of many people in the
    East, especially the believers in the Bab (now Baha'is) was this:
    that the Bab received no education, but that the Mullas, in order to
    lower him in the eyes of the people, declared that such knowledge and
    wisdom as he possessed were accounted for by the education he had
    received.  After deep search into the truth of this matter we have found
    evidence to show that in childhood for a short time he used to go to the
    house of Shaykh Muhammad (also known as Abid) where he was taught
    to read and write in Persian.  It was this to which the Bab referred
    when he wrote in the book of Bayan: `O Muhammad, O my teacher! ...'
      "The remarkable thing is this, however, that this Shaykh, who was his
    teacher, became a devoted disciple of his own pupil, and the uncle of the
    Bab who was like a father to him, whose name was Haji Siyyid Ali,
    also became a devout believer and was martyred as a Babi.
      "The understanding of these mysteries is given to seekers after truth,
    but we know this, that such education as the Bab received was but
    elementary, and that whatever signs of unusual greatness and knowledge
    appeared in him were innate and from God."
   On reaching His twenty-fifth year, in response to divine
command, He declared that "God the Exalted had elected Him
to the station of Babhood."  In "A Traveller's Narrative"+F1 we
read that: -- "What he intended by the term Bab was this,
that he was the channel of grace from some great Person still
behind the veil of glory, who was the possessor of countless
and boundless perfections, by whose will he moved, and to
the bond of whose love he clung." -- A Traveller's Narrative
(Episode of the Bab), p. 3.
   In those days belief in the imminent appearance of a Divine
Messenger was especially prevalent among a sect known as
the Shaykhis, and it was to a distinguished divine belonging to
this sect, called Mulla Husayn Bushru'i, that the Bab first announced
His mission.  The exact date of this announcement is
given in the Bayan, one of the Bab's Writings, as two hours
and eleven minutes after sunset on the eve preceding the fifth
day of the month of Jamadiyu'l-Avval 1260 A.H.+F2  Abdu'l-Baha
was born in the course of the same night, but the exact hour of
His birth has not been ascertained.  After some days of anxious
investigation and study, Mulla Husayn became firmly convinced
that the Messenger long expected by the Shi'ihs had
indeed appeared.  His eager enthusiasm over this discovery was
soon shared by several of his friends.  Before long the majority
of the Shaykhis accepted the Bab, becoming known as Babis;
and soon the fame of the young Prophet began to spread like
wildfire throughout the land.
Spread of the Babi Movement
   The first eighteen disciples of the Bab (with Himself as
nineteenth) became known as "Letters of the Living."  These
1.    A Traveller's Narrative Written to Illustrate the Episode of the Bab
    with an introduction by E. G. Browne, referred to subsequently as A
    Traveller's Narrative (Episode of the Bab).
2.    i.e. May 23, 1844 A.D.
disciples He sent to different parts of Persian and Turkistan to
spread the news of His advent.  Meantime He Himself set out
on a pilgrimage to Mecca, where He arrived in December
1844, and there openly declared His mission.  On His return to
Bushihr great excitement was caused by the announcement of
His Babhood.  The fire of His eloquence, the wonder of His
rapid and inspired writings, His extraordinary wisdom and
knowledge, His courage and zeal as a reformer, aroused the
greatest enthusiasm among His followers, but excited a corresponding
degree of alarm and enmity among the orthodox
Muslims.  The Shi'ih doctors vehemently denounced Him, and
persuaded the Governor of Fars, namely Husayn Khan, a
fanatical and tyrannical ruler, to undertake the suppression of
the new heresy.  Then commenced for the Bab a long series of
imprisonments, deportations, examinations before tribunals,
scourgings and indignities, which ended only with His martyrdom
in 1850.
Claims of the Bab
   The hostility aroused by the claim of Babhood was redoubled
when the young reformer proceeded to declare that
He was Himself the Mihdi (Mahdi) Whose coming Muhammad
had foretold.  The Shi'ihs identified this Mihdi with the
12th Imam+F1 who, according to their beliefs, had mysteriously
disappeared from the sight of men about a thousand years
previously.  They believed that he was still alive and would reappear
in the same body as before, and they interpreted in a
material sense the prophecies regarding his dominion, his
glory, his conquests and the "signs" of his advent, just as the
Jews in the time of Christ interpreted similar prophecies regarding
1.    The Imam of the Shi'ihs is the divinely ordained successor of the
    Prophet whom all the faithful must obey.  Eleven persons successively held
    the office of Imam, the first being Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of
    the Prophet.  The majority of the Shi'ihs hold that the twelfth Imam,
    called by them the Imam Mihdi, disappeared as a child into an underground
    passage in 329 A.H., and that in the fullness of time he will come forth,
    overthrow the infidels and inaugurate an era of blessedness.
the Messiah.  They expected that he would appear with
earthly sovereignty and an innumerable army and declare his
revelation, that he would raise dead bodies and restore them
to life, and so on.  As these signs did not appear, the Shi'ihs
rejected the Bab with the same fierce scorn which the Jews
displayed towards Jesus.  The Babis, on the other hand, interpreted
many of the prophecies figuratively.  They regarded the
sovereignty of the Promised One, like that of the Galilean
"Man of Sorrows," as a mystical sovereignty; His glory as
spiritual, not earthly glory; His conquests as conquests over
the cities of men's hearts' and they found abundant proof of
the Bab's claim in His wonderful life and teachings, His unshakable
faith, His invincible steadfastness, and His power of
raising to newness of spiritual life those who were in the graves
of error and ignorance.
   But the Bab did not stop even with the claim of Mihdihood.
He adopted the sacred title of "Nuqtiyiula" or "Primal Point."
This was a title applied to Muhammad Himself by His followers.
Even the Imams were secondary in importance to the
"Point," from Whom they derived their inspiration and authority.
In assuming this title, the Bab claimed to rank, like
Muhammad, in the series of great Founders of Religion, and
for this reason, in the eyes of the Shi'ihs, He was regarded as
an impostor, just as Moses and Jesus before Him had been regarded
as impostors.  He even inaugurated a new calendar, restoring
the solar year, and dating the commencement of the
New Era from the year of His own Declaration.
Persecution Increases
   In consequence of these declarations of the Bab and the
alarming rapidity with which people of all classes, rich and
poor, learned and ignorant, were eagerly responding to His
teaching, attempts at suppression became more and more ruthless
and determined.  Houses were pillaged and destroyed.
Women were seized and carried off.  In Tihran, Fars, Mazindaran,
and other places great numbers of the believers were
put to death.  Many were beheaded, hanged, blown from the
mouths of cannon, burnt or chopped to pieces.  Despite all attempts
at repression, however, the movement progressed.  Nay,
through this very oppression the assurance of the believers
increased, for thereby many of the prophecies concerning the
coming of the Mihdi were literally fulfilled.  Thus in a tradition
recorded by Jabir, which the Shi'ihs regard as authentic, we
read: --
     In him shall be the perfection of Moses, the preciousness
   of Jesus, and the patience of Job; his saints shall be
   abased in his time, and their heads shall be exchanged as
   presents, even as the heads of the Turk and the Deylamite
   are exchanged as presents; they shall be slain and burned,
   and shall be afraid, fearful and dismayed; the earth shall
   be dyed with their blood, and lamentation shall prevail
   amongst their women; these are my saints indeed. -- New
   History of the Bab, translated by Prof. E. G. Browne,
   p. 132.
Martyrdom of the Bab
   On the 9th of July, 1850,+F1 the Bab Himself, Who was then
in His thirty-first year, fell a victim to the fanatical fury of
His persecutors.  With a devoted young follower name Aqa
Muhammad Ali, who had passionately begged to be allowed
to share His martyrdom, He was led to the scaffold in the old
barrack square of Tabriz.  About two hours before noon the
two were suspended by ropes under their armpits in such a way
that the head of Muhammad Ali rested against the breast of
his beloved Master.  A regiment of Armenian soldiers was
drawn up and received the order to fire.  Promptly the volleys
rang out, but when the smoke cleared, it was found that the
Bab and His companion were still alive.  The bullets had but
severed the ropes by which they were suspended, so that they
dropped to the ground unhurt.  The Bab proceeded to a room
1.    Friday, 28th Sha'ban, 1266 A.H.
nearby, where He was found talking to one of His friends.
About noon they were again suspended.  The Armenians, who
considered the result of their volleys a miracle, were unwilling
to fire again, so another regiment of soldiers had been brought
on the scene, who fired when ordered.  This time the volleys
took effect.  The bodies of both victims were riddled by bullets
and horribly mutilated, although their faces were almost untouched.
   By this foul deed the Barrack Square of Tabriz became a
second Calvary.  The enemies of the Bab enjoyed a guilty thrill
of triumph, thinking that this hated tree of the Babi faith was
now severed at the root, and its complete eradication would be
easy!  But their triumph was short-lived!  They did not realize
that the Tree of Truth cannot be felled by any material ax.  Had
they but known, this very crime of theirs was the means of
giving greater vigor to the Cause.  The martyrdom of the Bab
fulfilled His own cherished wish and inspired His followers
with increased zeal.  Such was the fire of their spiritual enthusiasm
that the bitter winds of persecution but fanned it to a
fiercer blaze:  The greater the efforts at extinction, the higher
mounted the flames.
Tomb on Mount Carmel
   After the Bab's martyrdom, His remains, with those of His
devoted companion, were thrown on the edge of the moat outside
the city wall.  On the second night they were rescued at
midnight by some of the Babis, and after being concealed for
years in secret depositories in Persia, were ultimately brought,
with great danger and difficulty, to the Holy Land.  There they
are now interred in a tomb beautifully situated on the slope of
Mount Carmel, not far from the Cave of Elijah, and only a
few miles from the spot where Baha'u'llah spent His last years
and where His remains now lie.  Among the thousands of
pilgrims from all parts of the world who come to pay homage
at the Holy Tomb of Baha'u'llah, none omit to offer a prayer
also at the shrine of His devoted lover and forerunner, the Bab.
Writings of Bab
   The Writings of the Bab were voluminous, and the rapidity
with which, without study or premeditation, He composed
elaborate commentaries, profound expositions or eloquent
prayers was regarded as one of the proofs of His divine inspiration.
   The purport of His various Writings has been summarized
as follows: --
     Some of these [the Bab's Writings] were commentaries
   on, and interpretations of the verses of the Kur'an;
   some were prayers, homilies, and hints of [the true significance
   of certain] passages; other were exhortations,
   admonitions, dissertations on the different branches of the
   doctrine of the Divine Unity ... encouragements to
   amendment of character, severance from worldly states,
   and dependence on the inspirations of God.  But the essence
   and purport of his compositions were the praises
   and descriptions of that Reality soon to appear which was
   his only object and aim, his darling, and his desire.  For
   he regarded his own appearance as that of a harbinger of
   good tidings, and considered his own real nature merely
   as a means for the manifestation of the greater perfections
   of that One.  And indeed he ceased not from celebrating
   Him by night or day for a single instant, but used to
   signify to all his followers that they should expect His
   arising:  in such wise that he declares in his writings, "I
   am a letter out of that most might book and a dew-drop
   from that limitless ocean, and, when He shall appear,
   my true nature, my mysteries, riddles, and intimations
   will become evident, and the embryo of this religion
   shall develop through the grades of its being and ascent,
   attain to the station of `the most comely of forms,' and
   become adorned with the robe of `blessed be God, the
   Best of Creators.' ... and so inflamed was he with His flame
   that commemoration of Him was the bright candle of
   his dark nights in the fortress of Maku, and remembrance
   of Him was the best of companions in the straits
   of the prison of Chihrik.  Thereby he obtained spiritual
   enlargements; with His wine was he inebriated; and at
   remembrance of Him did he rejoice. -- A Traveller's
   Narrative (Episode of the Bab), pp. 54-56.
He Whom God Shall Make Manifest
   The Bab has been compared to John the Baptist, but the
station of the Bab is not merely that of the herald or forerunner.
In Himself the Bab was a Manifestation of God, the
Founder of an independant religion, even though that religion
was limited in time to a brief period of years.  The Baha'is believe
that the Bab and Baha'u'llah were Co-Founders of their
Faith, the following words of Baha'u'llah testifying to this
truth:  "That so brief a span should have separated this most
mighty and wondrous Revelation from Mine own previous
Manifestation, is a secret that no man can unravel and a
mystery such as no mind can fathom.  Its duration had been
foreordained, and no man shall ever discover its reason unless
and until he be informed of the contents of My Hidden Book."
In His references to Baha'u'llah, however, the Bab revealed an
utter selflessness, declaring that, in the day of "Him whom
God shall manifest": -- "If one should hear a single verse from
Him and recite it, it is better that he should recite the
Beyan [i.e. the Revelation of the Bab] a thousand times." --
A Traveller's Narrative (Episode of the Bab), p. 349.
   He counted Himself happy in enduring any affliction, if by
so doing He could smooth the path, be ever so little, for "Him
Whom God shall make manifest," Who was, He declared, the
sole source of His inspiration as well as the sole object of His
Resurrection, Paradise, and Hell
   An important part of the Bab's teaching is His explanation of
the terms Resurrection, Day of Judgment, Paradise and
Hell.  By the Resurrection is meant, He said, the appearance of
a new Manifestation of the Sun of Truth.  The raising of the
dead means the spiritual awakening of those who are asleep
in the graves of ignorance, heedlessness and lust.  The Day of
Judgment is the Day of the new Manifestation, by acceptance
or rejection of Whose Revelation the sheep are separated from
the goats, for the sheep know the voice of the Good Shepherd
and follow Him.  Paradise is the joy of knowing and loving
God, as revealed through His Manifestation, thereby attaining
to the utmost perfection of which one is capable, and, after
death, obtaining entrance to the Kingdom of God and the life
everlasting.  Hell is simply deprivation of that knowledge of
God with consequent failure to attain divine perfection, and
loss of the Eternal Favor.  He definitely declared that these terms
have no real meaning apart from this; and that the prevalent
ideas regarding the resurrection of the material body, a material
heaven and hell, and the like, are mere figments of the
imagination.  He taught that man has a life after death, and
that in the afterlife progress towards perfection is limitless.
Social and Ethical Teachings
   In His Writings the Bab tells His followers that they must
be distinguished by brotherly loved and courtesy.  Useful arts
and crafts must be cultivated.  Elementary education should be
general.  In the new and wondrous Dispensation now commencing,
women are to have fuller freedom.  The poor are to be provided
for out of the common treasury, but begging is strictly
forbidden, as is the use of intoxicating liquors for beverage
   The guiding motive of the true Babi must be pure love,
without hope of reward or fear of punishment.  Thus says
in the Bayan: --
     So worship God that if the recompense of thy worship of
   Him were to be the Fire, no alteration in thy worship of
   Him would be produced.  If you worship from fear, that is
   unworthy of the threshold of the holiness of God. ...
   So also, if your gaze is on Paradise, and if you worship
   in hope of that; for then you have made God's creation a
   Partner with Him. -- Babis of Persia, II, Prof. E. G.
   Browne, J.R.A.S., vol. xxi, p. 931.
Passion and Triumph
   This last quotation reveals the spirit which animated
the Bab's whole life.  To know and love God, to mirror forth
His attributes and to prepare the way for His coming Manifestation
-- these were the sole aim and object of His being.
For Him life had no terrors and death no sting, for love had
cast out fear, and martyrdom itself was but the rapture of
casting His all at the feet of His Beloved.
   Strange! that this pure and beautiful soul, this inspired
teacher of Divine Truth, this devoted lover of God and of His
fellowmen should be so hated, and done to death by the professedly
religious of His day!  Surely nothing but unthinking or
willful prejudice could blind men to the fact that here was indeed
a Prophet, a Holy Messenger of God.  Worldly greatness
and glory He had none, but how can spiritual Power and Dominion
be proved except by the ability to dispense with all
earthly assistance, and to triumph over all earthly opposition,
even the most potent and virulent?  How can Divine Love be
demonstrated to an unbelieving world save by its capacity to
endure to the uttermost the blows of calamity and darts of
affliction, the hated of enemies and the treachery of seeming
friends, to rise serene above all these and, undismayed and
unembittered, still to forgive and bless?
   The Bab has endured and the Bab has triumphed.  Thousands
have testified to the sincerity of their love for Him by sacrificing
their lives and their all in His service.  Kings might well
envy His power over men's hearts and lives.  Moreover, "He
Whom the Lord shall make manifest" has appeared, has confirmed
the claims and accepted the devotion of His forerunner,
and made Him partaker of His Glory.
Baha'u'llah:  The Glory of God/3
   O thou who art waiting, tarry no longer, for He is come.
Behold His Tabernacle and His Glory dwelling therein.  It is
the Ancient Glory, with a new Manifestation. -- BAHA'U'LLAH.
Birth and Early Life
   Mirza Husayn Ali, Who afterwards assumed the title of
Baha'u'llah (i.e. Glory of God), was the eldest son of Mirza
Abbas of Nur, a Vazir or Minister of State.  His family was
wealthy and distinguished, many of its members having occupied
important positions in the Government and in the Civil
and Military Services of Persia.  He was born in Tihran (Teheran),
the capital city of Persia, between dawn and sunrise
on the 12th of November, 1817.+F2  He never attended school or
college, and what little teaching He received was given at
home.  Nevertheless, even as a child He showed wonderful
wisdom and knowledge.  While He was still a youth His father
died, leaving Him responsible for the care of His younger
brothers and sisters, and for the management of the extensive
family estates.
   On one occasion Abdu'l-Baha, the eldest son of Baha'u'llah,
related to the writer the following particulars about His
Father's early days: --
     From childhood He was extremely kind and generous.
   He was a great lover of outdoor life, most of His time being
   spent in the garden or the fields.  He had an extraordinary
   power of attraction, which was felt by all.  People
1.    Pronounced with the accent on the second and fourth syllables, the
    first syllable being almost mute and both l's distinctly sounded.
2.    2nd of Muharram, 1233 A.H.
   always crowded around Him.  Ministers and people of the
   Court would surround Him, and the children also were
   devoted to Him.  When He was only thirteen of fourteen
   years old He became renowned for His learning.  He
   would converse on any subject and solve any problem
   presented to Him.  In large gatherings He would discuss
   matters with the Ulama (leading mullas) and would
   explain intricate religious questions.  All of them used to
   listen to Him with the greatest interest.
     When Baha'u'llah was twenty-two years old, His father
   died, and the Government wished Him to succeed to His
   father's position in the Ministry, as was customary in
   Persia, but Baha'u'llah did not accept the offer.  Then the
   Prime Minister said:  "Leave him to himself.  Such a
   position is unworthy of him.  He has some higher aim in
   view.  I cannot understand him, but I am convinced that
   he is destined for some lofty career.  His thought are not
   like ours.  Let him alone."
Imprisoned as Babi
   When the Bab declared His mission in 1844, Baha'u'llah,
Who was then in His twenty-seventh year, boldly espoused the
Cause of the new Faith, of which He soon became recognized
as one of the most powerful and fearless exponents.
   He had already twice suffered imprisonment for the Cause,
and on one occasion had undergone the torture of the bastinado,
when in August 1852, an event occurred fraught with
terrible consequences for the Babis.  One of the Bab's followers,
a youth named Sadiq, had been so affected by the martyrdom
of his beloved Master, of which he was an eyewitness, that his
mind became deranged, and, in revenge, he waylaid the Shah
and fired a pistol at him.  Instead of using a bullet, however,
he charged his weapon with small shot, and although a few
pellets struck the Shah, no serious harm was done.  The youth
dragged the Shah from his horse, but was promptly seized by
the attendants of his Majesty and put to death on the spot.
The whole body of Babis was unjustly held responsible for the
deed, and frightful massacres ensued.  Eighty of them were
forthwith put to death in Tihran with the most revolting
tortures.  Many others were seized and put into prisons,
among them being Baha'u'llah.  He afterwards wrote: --
     By the righteousness of God!  We were in no wise
   connected with that evil deed, and Our innocence was indisputably
   established by the tribunals.  Nevertheless,
   they apprehended Us, and from Niyavaran, which was
   then the residence of His Majesty, conducted Us, on foot
   and in chains, with bared head and bare feet, to the
   dungeon of Tihran.  A brutal man, accompanying Us on
   horseback, snatched off Our hat, whilst We were being
   hurried along by a troop of executioners and officials.  We
   were consigned for four months to a place foul beyond
   comparison.  As to the dungeon in which this Wronged
   One and other similarly wronged were confined, a dark
   and narrow pit were preferable.  Upon Our arrival We
   were first conducted along a pitch-black corridor, from
   whence We descended three steep flights of stairs to the
   place of confinement assigned to Us.  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!
     Day and night, while confined in that dungeon, We
   meditated upon the deeds, the condition, and the conduct
   of the Babis, wondering what could have led a
   people so high-minded, so noble, and of such intelligence,
   to perpetrate such an audacious and outrageous act
   against the person of His Majesty.  This Wronged One,
   thereupon, decided to arise, after His release from prison,
   and undertake, with the utmost vigor, the task of regenerating
   this people.
     On 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." -- Epistle to
   the Son of the Wolf, pp. 20-21.
Exile to Baghdad
   This terrible imprisonment lasted four months, but Baha'u'llah
and His companions remained zealous and enthusiastic,
in the greatest of happiness.  Almost every day one or more of
them was tortured or put to death and the others reminded that
their turn might come next.  When the executioners came to
fetch one of the friends, the one whose name was called would
literally dance with joy, kiss the hands of Baha'u'llah, embrace
the rest of his fellow believers and then hasten with glad
eagerness to the place of martyrdom.
   It was conclusively proved that Baha'u'llah had no share
in the plot against the Shah, and the Russian Minister testified
to the purity of His character.  He was, moreover, so ill that it
was thought He would die.  Instead, therefore, of sentencing
Him to death, the Shah ordered that He should be exiled to
Iraq-i-'Arab, in Mesopotamia; and thither, a fortnight later,
Baha'u'llah set out, accompanied by His family and a number
of other believers.  They suffered terribly from cold and other
hardships on the long winter journey and arrived in Baghdad
in a state of almost utter destitution.
   As soon as His health permitted, Baha'u'llah began to teach
inquirers and to encourage and exhort the believers, and soon
peace and happiness reigned among the Babis.+F1  This, however,
was short-lived.  Baha'u'llah's half brother, Mirza Yahya, also
1.    This was early in the year 1853, or nine years after the Bab's
    Declaration, thus fulfilling certain prophecies of the Bab concerning
    "the year nine."
known as Subh-i-Azal, arrived in Baghdad, and soon afterwards
differences, secretly instigated by him, began to grow,
just as similar divisions had arisen among the disciples of
Christ.  These differences (which later, in Adrianople, became
open and violent) were very painful to Baha'u'llah, Whose
whole aim in life was the promotion of unity among the
people of the world.
Two Years in the Wilderness
   About a year after coming to Baghdad, He departed alone
into the wilderness of Sulaymaniyyih, taking with Him nothing
but a change of clothes.  Regarding this period He write in the
Book of Iqan+F1 as follows: --
     In the early days of Our arrival in this land, when
   We discerned the signs of impending events, We decided,
   wilderness, and there, separated and alone, led for two
   years a life of complete solitude.  From Our eyes there
   rained tears of anguish, and in Our bleeding heart there
   surged an ocean of agonizing pain.  Many a night We had
   no food for sustenance, and many a day Our body found
   no rest.  by Him Who hath My being between His hands!
   nothwithstanding these showers of afflictions and unceasing
   calamities, Our soul was wrapt in blissful joy, and Our
   whole being evinced an ineffable gladness.  For in Our
   solitude We were unaware of the harm or benefit, the
   health or ailment, of any soul.  Alone, We communed with
   Our spirit, oblivious of the world and all that is therein.
   We knew not, however, that the mesh of divine destiny
   exceedeth the vastest of mortal conceptions, and the dart
   of His decree transcendeth the boldest of human designs.
   None can escape the snares He setteth, and no soul can
   find release except through submission to His will.  By the
   righteousness of God!  Our withdrawal contemplated no
   return, and Our separation hoped for no reunion.  The one
   object of Our retirement was to avoid becoming a subject
   of discord among the faithful, a source of disturbance
   unto Our companions, the means of injury to any soul,
   or the cause of sorrow to any heart.  Beyond these, We
   cherished no other intention, and apart from them, We
   had no end in view.  And yet, each person schemed after
   his own desire, and pursued his own idle fancy, until the
   hour when, from the Mystic Source, there came the summons
   bidding Us return whence We came.  Surrendering
   Our will to His, We submitted to His injunction.
     What pen can recount the things We beheld upon Our
   return!  Two years have elapsed during which Our
   enemies have ceaselessly and assiduously contrived to
   exterminate Us, whereunto all witness. -- Kitab-i-Iqan,
   pp. 250-252.
Opposition of Mullas
   After His return from this retirement, His fame became
greater than ever and people flocked to Bahdad from far and
near to see Him and hear His teachings.  Jews, Christians and
Zoroastrians, as well as Muhammadans, became interested in
the new message.  The Mullas (Muhammadan doctors), however,
took up a hostile attitude and persistently plotted to effect
His overthrow.  On a certain occasion they sent one of their
number to interview Him and submit to Him certain questions.
The envoy found the answers of Baha'u'llah so convincing and
His wisdom so amazing, although evidently not acquired by
study, that he was obliged to confess that in knowledge and
understanding Baha'u'llah was peerless.  In order, however,
that the Mullas who had sent him should be satisfied as to the
reality of Baha'u'llah's Prophethood, he asked that some miracle
should be produced as proof.  Baha'u'llah expressed His
willingness to accept the suggestion on certain conditions,
declaring that if the Mullas would agree regarding some
miracle to be performed, and would sign and seal a document
to the effect that on performance of this miracle they would
confess the validity of His mission and cease to oppose Him,
He would furnish the desired proof or else stand convicted of
imposture.  Had the aim of the Mullas been to get at the truth,
surely here was their opportunity; but their intention was far
otherwise.  Rightly or wrongly, they meant to secure a decision
in their own favor.  They feared the truth and fled from the
daring challenge.  This discomfiture, however, only spurred
them on to devise fresh plots for the eradication of the oppressed
sect.  The Consul General of Persia in Baghdad came
to their assistance and sent repeated messages to the Shah to
the effect that Baha'u'llah was injuring the Muhammadan religion
more than ever, still exerting a malign influence on
Persia, and that He ought therefore to be banished to some
more distant place.
   It was characteristic of Baha'u'llah that, at this crisis,
when at the instigation of the Muhammadan Mullas the Persian
and Turkish Governments were combining their efforts to
eradicate the Movement, He remained calm and serene, encouraging
and inspiring His followers and writing imperishable
words of consolation and guidance.  Abdu'l-Baha relates how
the Hidden Words were written at this time.  Baha'u'llah would
often go for a walk along the bank of the Tigris.  He would
come back looking very happy and write down those lyric
gems of wise counsel which have brought help and healing to
thousands of aching and troubled hearts.  For years, only a
few manuscript copies of the Hidden Words were in existence,
and these had to be carefully concealed lest they should fall
into the hands of the enemies that abounded, but now this
little volume is probably the best known of all Baha'u'llah's
works, and is read in every quarter of the globe.  The Book of
Iqan is another well-known work of Baha'u'llah's written about
the same period, towards the end of His sojourn at Baghdad
(1862-1863 A.D.)
Declaration at Ridvan+F1 near Bahdad
   After much negotiation, at the request of the Persian
Government, an order was issued by the Turkish Government
1.    Pronounced Rizwan.
summoning Baha'u'llah to Constantinople.  On receipt of this
new His followers were in consternation.  They besieged the
house of their beloved Leader to such an extent that the family
encamped in the Garden of Najib Pasha outside the town for
twelve days, while the caravan was being prepared for the long
journey.  It was during these twelve days (April 22 to May 3,
1863, i.e. nineteen years after the Bab's Declaration) that
Baha'u'llah announced to several of His followers the glad
tidings that He was the One Whose coming had been foretold
by the Bab -- the Chosen of God, the Promised One of all the
Prophets.  The Garden where this memorable Declaration took
place has become known to Baha'is as the "Garden of Ridvan,"
and the days Baha'u'llah spent there are commemorated in the
"Feast of Ridvan," which is held annually on the anniversary
of those twelve days.  During those days Baha'u'llah, instead
of being sad or depressed, showed the greatest joy, dignity and
power.  His followers became happy and enthusiastic, and great
crowds came to pay their respects to Him.  All the notables of
Baghdad, even the Governor himself, came to honor the departing
Constantinople and Adrianople
   The journey to Constantinople lasted between three and
four months, the party consisting of Baha'u'llah with members
of His family and twenty-six disciples.  Arrived in Constantinople
they found themselves prisoners in a small house in
which they were very much overcrowded.  Later they got somewhat
better quarters, but after four months they were again
moved on, this time to Adrianople.  The journey to Adrianople,
although it lasted but a few days, was the most terrible they had
yet undertaken.  Snow fell heavily most of the time, and as they
were destitute of proper clothing and food, their sufferings were
extreme.  For the first winter in Adrianople, Baha'u'llah and
His family, numbering twelve persons, were accommodated
in a small house of three rooms, comfortless and vermin
infested.  In the spring they were given a more comfortable
abode.  They remained in Adrianople over four and a half
years.  Here Baha'u'llah resumed His teaching and gathered
about Him a large following.  He publicly announced His
mission and was enthusiastically accepted by the majority of
the Babis, who were known thereafter as Baha'is.  A minority,
however, under the leadership of Baha'u'llah's half brother,
Mirza Yahya, become violently opposed to Him and joined
with their former enemies, the Shi'ihs, in plotting for His overthrow.
Great troubles ensued, and at last the Turkish Government
banished both Babis and Baha'is from Adrianople, exiling
Baha'u'llah and His followers to Akka, in Palestine, where
they arrived (according to Nabil)+F1 on August 31, 1868, while
Mirza Yahya and his party were sent to Cyprus.
Letters to Kings
   About this time Baha'u'llah wrote His famous letter to the
Sultan of Turkey, many of the crowned heads of Europe, the
Pope, and the Shah of Persia.  Later, in His Kitab-i-Aqdas+F2 He
addressed other sovereigns, the rulers and Presidents of
America, the leaders of religion in general and the generality
of mankind.  To all, He announced His mission and called upon
them to bend their energies to the establishment of true religion,
just government and international peace.  In His letter
to the Shah He powerfully pleaded the cause of the oppressed
Babs and asked to be brought face to face with those who had
instigated their persecution.  Needless to say, this request was
not complied with; Badi', the young and devoted Baha'i who
delivered the letter of Baha'u'llah, was seized and martyred
with fearful tortures, hot bricks being pressed on his flesh!
   In the same letter Baha'u'llah gives a most moving account
of His own sufferings and longings: --
     O King, I have seen in the way of God what no eye hath
   seen and no ear hath heard.  Friends have disclaimed me;
1.    Author of an early history of the Faith, The Dawn-Breakers, Nabil was
    a participant in some of the scenes he describes and was personally
    acquainted with many of the early believers.
2.    The Aqdas, Kitab-i-Aqdas, The Book of Aqdas, and The Most Holy Book all
    refer to the same book.
   ways are straitened unto me; the pool of safety is dried
   up; the plain of ease is [scorched] yellow.  How many
   calamities have descended, and how many will descend!
   I walk advancing toward the Mighty, the Bounteous,
   while behind me glides the serpent.  My eyes rain down
   tears until my bed is drenched; but my sorrow is not for
   myself.  By God, my head longeth for the spears for the
   love of its Lord, and I never pass by a tree but my heart
   addresseth it [saying], "O would that thou wert cut down
   in my name and my body were crucified upon thee in
   the way of my Lord;" yea, because I see mankind going
   astray in their intoxication, and they know it not:  they
   have exalted their lusts, and put aside their God, as though
   they took the command of God for a mockery, a sport,
   and a plaything; and they think that they do well, and
   that they are harboured in the citadel of security.  The
   matter is not as they suppose:  to-morrow they shall see
   what they [now] deny.
     We are about to shift from this most remote place of
   banishment [Adrianople] unto the prison of Acre.  And,
   according to what they say, it is assuredly the most
   desolate of the cities of the world, the most unsightly of
   them in appearance, the most detestable in climate, and
   the foulest in water; it is as though it were the metropolis
   of the owl; there is not heard from its regions aught save the
   sound of its hooting.  And in it they intend to imprison the
   servant, and to shut in our faces the doors of leniency
   and take away from us the good things of the life of the
   world during what remaineth of our days.  By God,
   though weariness should weaken me, and hunger should
   destroy me, though my couch should be made of the
   hard rock and my associates of the beasts of the desert, I
   will not blench, but will be patient, as the resolute and
   determined are patient, in the strength of God, the King
   of Pre-existence, the Creator of the nations; and under
   all circumstances I give thanks unto God.  And we hope
   of His graciousness (exalted is He) ... that He will
   render [all men's] faces sincere toward Him, the Mighty,
   the Bounteous.  Verily He answereth him who prayeth
   unto Him, and is near unto him who calleth on Him.  And
   we ask Him to make this dark calamity a buckler for
   the body of His saints, and to protect them thereby from
   sharp swords and piercing blades.  Through affliction
   hath His light shone and His praise been bright unceasingly:
   this hath been His method through past ages and
   bygone times.  A Traveller's Narrative (Episode of the
   Bab), pp. 145-147.
Imprisonment in Akka
   At that time Akka (Acre) was a prison city to which
the worst criminals were sent from all parts of the Turkish
Empire.  On arriving there, after a miserable sea journey,
Baha'u'llah and His followers, about eighty to eighty-four in
number, including men, women and children, were imprisoned
in the army barracks.  The place was dirty and cheerless in the
extreme.  There were no beds or comforts of any sort.  The food
supplied was wretched and inadequate, so much so that after
a time the prisoners begged to be allowed to buy their food
for themselves.  During the first few days the children were
crying continually, and sleep was almost impossible.  Malaria,
dysentery and other diseases soon broke out, and everyone in
the company fell sick, with the exception of two.  Three succumbed
to their sickness, and the sufferings of the survivors
were indescribable.+F1
   This rigorous imprisonment lasted for over two years,
during which time none of the Baha'is were allowed outside
the prison door, except four men, carefully guarded, who went
out daily to buy food.
   During the imprisonment in the barracks, visitors were
rigidly excluded.  Several of the Baha'is of Persia came all the
way on foot for the purpose of seeing their beloved leader, but
1.    In order to bury two of those who died, Baha'u'llah gave His own
    carpet to be sold for the expenses of their burial, but instead of
    using this money for that purpose the soldiers appropriate it, and thrust
    the bodies into a hole in the ground.
were refused admittance within the city walls.  They used to
got to a place on the plain outside the third moat, from which
they could see the windows of Baha'u'llah's quarters.  He would
show Himself to them at one of the windows and after gazing on
Him from afar, they would weep and return to their homes, fired
with new zeal for sacrifice and service.
Restrictions Relaxed
   At last the imprisonment was mitigated.  A mobilization of
Turkish troops occurred and the barracks were required for
soldiers.  Baha'u'llah His family were transferred to a
house by themselves and the rest of the party were accommodated
in a caravanserai in the town.  Baha'u'llah was confined
for seven more years in this house.  In a small room near that
in which He was imprisoned, thirteen of His household, including
both sexes, had to accommodate themselves as best they
could!  In the earlier part of their stay in this house they suffered
greatly from insufficiency of accommodation, inadequate
food supply and lack of the ordinary conveniences of life.
After a time, however, a few additional rooms were placed at
their disposal and they were able to live in comparative comfort.
From the time Baha'u'llah and His companions left the
barracks, visitors were allowed to see them, and gradually
the severe restrictions imposed by the Imperial firmans were
more and more left in abeyance, although now and then reimposed
for a time.
Prison Gates Opened
   Even when the imprisonment was at its worst, the Baha'is
were not dismayed, and their serene confidence was never
shaken.  While in the barracks at Akka, Baha'u'llah wrote to
some friends, "Fear not.  These doors shall be opened.  My tent
shall be pitched on Mount Carmel, and the utmost joy shall be
realized."  This declaration was a great source of consolation
to His followers, and in due course it was literally fulfilled.  The
story of how the prison doors were opened had best be told
in the words of Abdu'l-Baha, as translated by His grandson,
Shoghi Effendi: --
     Baha'u'llah loved the beauty and verdure of the country.
   One day He passed the remark:  "I have not gazed on
   verdure for nine years.  The country is the world of the
   soul, the city is the world of bodies."  When I heard indirectly
   of this saying I realized that He was longing for
   the country, and I was sure that whatever I could do
   towards the carrying out of His wish would be successful.
   There was in Akka at that time a man called Muhammad
   Pasha Safwat, who was very much opposed to us.  He had
   a palace called Mazra'ih, about four miles north of the
   city, a lovely place, surrounded by gardens and with a
   stream of running water.  I went and called on this
   Pasha at his home.  I said:  "Pasha, you have left the palace
   empty, and are living in Akka."  He replied:  "I am an
   invalid and cannot leave the city.  If I go there it is lonely
   and I am cut off from my friends."  I said:  "While you are
   not living there and the place is empty, let it to us."  He
   was amazed at the proposal, but soon consented.  I got
   the house at a very low rent, about five pounds per annum,
   paid him for five years and made a contract.  I sent
   laborers to repair the place and put the garden in order
   and had a bath built.  I also had a carriage prepared for
   the use of the Blessed Beauty.+F1  One day I determined to
   go and see the place for myself.  Notwithstanding the repeated
   injunctions given in successive firmans that we
   were on no account to pass the limits of the city walls, I
   walked out through the City Gate.  Gendarmes were on
   guard, but they made no objection, so I proceeded
   straight to the palace.  The next day I again went out, with
   some friends and officials, unmolested and unopposed,
   although the guards and sentinels stood on both sides of
   the city gates.  Another day I arranged a banquet, spread
   a table under the pine trees of Bahji, and gathered round
1.    Jamal-i-Mubarak (lit. Blessed Beauty) was a title frequently applied to
    Baha'u'llah by His followers and friends.
   it the notables and officials of the town.  In the evening
   we all returned to the town together.
     One day I went to the Holy Presence of the Blessed
   Beauty and said:  "the palace at Mazra'ih is ready for
   You, and a carriage to drive You there."  (At that time
   there were no carriages in Akka or Haifa.)  He refused to
   go, saying:  "I am a prisoner."  Later I requested Him
   again, but got the same answer.  I went so far as to ask
   Him a third time, but He still said "No!" and I did not
   dare to insist further.  There was, however, in Akka a
   certain Muhammadan Shaykh, a well-known man with
   considerable influence, who loved Baha'u'llah and was
   greatly favored by Him.  I called this Shaykh and explained
   the position to him.  I said, "You are daring.  Go
   tonight to His Holy Presence, fall on your knees before
   Him, take hold of His hands and do not let go until He
   promises to leave the city!"  He was an Arab. ... He
   went directly to Baha'u'llah and sat down close to His
   knees.  He took hold of the hands of the Blessed Beauty
   and kissed them and asked:  "Why do you not leave the
   city?"  He said:  "I am a prisoner."  The haykh replied:
   "God forbid!  Who has the power to make you a prisoner?
   You have kept yourself in prison.  It was your own will to
   be imprisoned, and now I beg you to come out and go to
   the palace.  It is beautiful and verdant.  The trees are lovely,
   and the oranges like balls of fire!"  As often as the Blessed
   Beauty said:  "I am a prisoner, it cannot be," the Shaykh
   took His hands and kissed them.  For a whole hour he kept
   on pleading.  At last Baha'u'llah said, "Khayli khub (very
   good)" and the Shaykh's patience and persistence were
   rewarded.  He came to me with great joy to give the glad
   news of His Holiness's consent.  In spite of the strict firman
   of Abdu'l-'Aziz which prohibited my meeting or
   having any intercourse with the Blessed Perfection, I took
   the carriage the next day and drove with Him to the palace.
   No one made any objection.  I left Him there and returned
   myself to the city.
     For two years He remained in that charming and
   lovely spot.  Then it was decided to remove to another
   place, at Bahji.  It so happened than an epidemic disease
   had broken out at Bahji, and the proprietor of the house
   fled away in distress, with all his family, ready to offer the
   house free of charge to any applicant.  We took the house
   at a very low rent, and there the doors of majesty and true
   sovereignty were flung wide open.  Baha'u'llah was
   nominally a prisoner (for the drastic firmans of Sultan
   `Abdu'l-'Aziz were never repealed), yet in reality He
   showed forth such nobility and dignity in His life and
   bearing that He was reverenced by all, and the Rulers of
   Palestine envied His influence and power.  Governors and
   Mutasarrifs, generals and local officials, would humbly
   request the honor of attaining His presence -- a request to
   which He seldom acceded.
     On one occasion a Governor of the city implored this
   favor on the ground of his being ordered by higher authorities
   to visit, with a certain general, the Blessed Perfection.
   The request being granted, the general, who was
   a very corpulent individual, a European, was so impressed
   by the majestic presence of Baha'u'llah that he remained
   kneeling on the ground near the door.  Such was
   the diffidence of both visitors that it was only after repeated
   invitations from Baha'u'llah that they were induced
   to smoke the narguileh (hubble-bubble pipe) offered
   to them.  Even then they only touched it with their
   lips, and then, putting it aside, folded their arms and sat
   in an attitude of such humility and respect as to astonish
   all those who were present.
     The loving reverence of friends, the consideration and
   respect that were shown by all officials and notables, the
   inflow of pilgrims and seekers after truth, the spirit of
   devotion and service that was manifest all around, the
   majestic and kingly countenance of the Blessed Perfection,
   the effectiveness of His command, the number of
   His zealous devotees-all bore witness to the fact that
   Baha'u'llah was in reality no prisoner, but a King of
   Kings.  Two despotic sovereigns were against Him, two
   powerful autocratic rulers, yet, even when confined in
   their own prisons, He addressed them in very austere
   terms, like a king addressing his subjects.  Afterwards, in
   spite of severe firmans, He lived at Bahji like a prince.
   Often He would say:  "Verily, verily, the most wretched
   prison has been converted into a Paradise of Eden."
     Surely, such a thing has not been witnessed since the
   creation of the world.
Life at Bahji
   Having in His earlier years of hardship shown how to glorify
God in a state of poverty and ignominy, Baha'u'llah in His
later years at Bahji showed how to glorify God in a state of
honor and affluence.  The offering of hundreds of thousands
of devoted followers placed at His disposal large funds which
He was called upon to administer.  Although His life at Bahji
has been described as truly regal, in the highest sense of the
word, yet it must not be imagined that it was characterized by
material splendor or extravagance.  The Blessed Perfection and
His family lived in very simple and modest fashion, and expenditure
on selfish luxury was a thing unknown in that household.
Near His home the believers prepared a beautiful garden
called Ridvan, in which He often spent many consecutive days
or even weeks, sleeping at night in a little cottage in the garden.
Occasionally He went further afield.  He made several visits
to Akka and Haifa, and on more than one occasion pitched
His tent on Mount Carmel, as He had predicted when imprisoned
in the barracks at Akka.  The time of Baha'u'llah was
spent for the most part in prayer and meditation, in writing
the Sacred Books, revealing Tablets, and in spiritual education
of the friends.  In order to give Him entire freedom for
this great work, Abdu'l-Baha undertook the arrangement of
all other affairs, even meeting the Mullas, poets, and members
of the Government.  All of these were delighted and happy
through meeting Abdu'l-Baha, and entirely satisfied with His
explanation and talks, and although they had not met Baha'u'llah
Himself, they became full of friendly feeling towards Him,
through their acquaintanceship with His son, for Abdu'l-Baha's
attitude caused them to understand the station of His father.
   The distinguished orientalist, the late Professor Edward G.
Browne, of the University of Cambridge, visited Baha'u'llah at
Bahji in the year 1890, and recorded his impressions as follows: --
     ... my conductor paused for a moment while I removed
   my shoes.  Then, with a quick movement of the hand, he
   withdrew, and, as I passed, replaced the curtain; and I
   found myself in a large apartment, along the upper end of
   which ran a low divan, while on the side opposite to the
   door were placed two or three chairs.  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, crowned with a felt
   head-dress of the kind called 1taj1 by dervishes (but of unusual
   height and make), round the base of which was
   wound a small white turban.  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; while the
   deep lines on the forehead and face implied an age which
   the jet-black hair and beard flowing down in indistinguishable
   luxuriance almost to the waist seemed to belie.
   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
     A mild dignified voice bade me be seated, and then
   continued: --  "Praise be to God that thou has attained!
   ... Thou has come to see a prisoner and an exile. ...
   We desire but the good of the world and 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. ... Do not you in
   Europe need this also?  Is not this that which Christ foretold?
   ... Yet do we see your kings and rulers lavishing
   their treasures more freely on means for the destruction
   of the human race than on that which would conduce to
   the happiness of mankind. ... These strifes and this
   bloodshed and discord must cease, and all men be as one
   kindred and one family. ... Let not a man glory in this,
   that he loves his country; let him rather glory in this, that
   he loves his kind. ..."
     Such, so far as I can recall them, were the words
   which, besides many others, I heard from Beha.  Let those
   who read them consider well with themselves whether
   such doctrines merit death and bonds, and whether the
   world is more likely gain or lose by their diffusion. --
   Introduction to A Traveller's Narrative (Episode of the
   Bab), pp. xxxix-xl.
   Thus simply and serenely did Baha'u'llah pass the evening
of His life on earth until, after an attack of fever, He passed
away on the 29th of May, 1892, at the age of seventy-five.
Among the last Tablets He revealed was His Will and Testament,
which He wrote with His own hand and duly signed
and sealed.  Nine days after His death the seals were broken by
His eldest son, in the presence of members of the family and a
few friends, and the contents of the short but remarkable document
were made known.  By this will Abdu'l-Baha was constituted
His father's representative and the expounder of His
teachings, and the family and relatives of Baha'u'llah and all
believers were instructed to turn to Him and obey Him.  By
this arrangement sectarianism and division were provided
against and the unity of the Cause assured.
Prophethood of Baha'u'llah
   It is important to have clear ideas of Baha'u'llah's Prophethood.
His utterances, like those of other divine "Manifestations,"
may be divided into two classes, in one of which He
writes or speaks simply as a man who has been charged by
God with a message to His fellows, while in the other class the
words purport to be the direct utterance of God Himself.
   He writes in the Book of Iqan: --
     We have already in the foregoing pages assigned two
   stations unto each of the Luminaries arising from the
   Daysprings of eternal holiness.  One of these stations, the
   station of essential unity, We have already explained.  "No
   distinction do We make between any of them."  [Qur'an
   2:136]  The other is the station of distinction, and pertaineth
   to the world of creation and to be 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, fulfils a definite Mission,
   and is entrusted with a particular Revelation.  Even
   as He saith:  "Some of the Apostles We have caused to
   excel the others.  To some God hath spoken, some He hath
   raise and exalted.  And to Jesus, Son of Mary, We gave
   manifest signs, and We strengthen Him with the Holy
   Spirit."  [Qur'an 2:253] ...
     Thus, viewed from the standpoint of their oneness and
   sublime detachment, the attributes of Godhead, Divinity,
   Supreme Singleness, and Inmost Essence, have been and
   are applicable to those Essences of being, inasmuch as
   they all abide on the throne of divine Revelation, and
   are established upon the seat of divine Concealment.
   Through their appearance the Revelation of God is
   made manifest, and by their countenance the Beauty of
   God is revealed.  Thus it is that the accents of God Himself
   have been heard uttered by these Manifestations of
   the divine Being.
     Viewed in the light of their second station -- the station
   of distinction, differentiation, temporal limitations,
   characteristics and standards, -- 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 it hath been repeatedly
   demonstrated that through their Revelation, their attributes
   and names, the Revelation of God, His name and
   His attributes, are made manifest in the world.  Thus, He
   hath revealed:  "Those shafts were God's, not Thine!"
   [Qur'an 8:17]  And also He saith:  "In truth, they who
   plighted fealty unto thee, really plighted that fealty unto
   God."  [Qur'an 48:10]  And were any of them to voice
   the utterance:  "I am the Messenger of God,"  He also
   speaketh the truth, the indubitable truth.  Even as He
   saith:  "Muhammad is not the father of any man among
   you, but He is the Messenger of God."  Viewed in this
   light, they are all but Messengers of that ideal King, that
   unchangeable Essence.  And were they all to proclaim:  "I
   am the Seal of Prophets," they verily utter but the
   truth, beyond the faintest shadow of doubt.  For they are
   all but one person, one soul, one spirit, one being, one
   revelation.  They are all the manifestation of the "Beginning"
   and the "End," the "First" and the "Last," the
   "Seen" and "Hidden" -- all of which pertain to Him Who
   is the innermost Spirit of Spirits and eternal Essence of
   Essences.  And were they to say:  "We are the servants of
   God," [Qur'an 33:40] 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.  Thus in moments in which
   these Essences of being were deeply immersed beneath
   the oceans of ancient and everlasting holiness, or when
   they soared to the loftiest summits of divine mysteries,
   they claimed their utterance to be the Voice of divinity,
   the Call of God Himself.  Were the eye of discernment to
   be opened, it would recognize that in this very state, they
   have considered themselves utterly effaced and non-existent
   in the face of Him Whom is the All-Pervading, the
   incorruptible.  Methinks, they have regarded themselves
   as utter nothingness, and deemed their mention in that
   Court an act of blasphemy.  For the slightest whisperings
   of self, within such a Court, is an evidence of self-assertion
   and independent existence.  In the eyes of them that
   have attained unto that Court, such a suggestion is itself
   a grievous transgression.  How much more grievous would
   it be, were aught else to be mentioned in that Presence,
   were man's heart, his tongue, his mind, or his soul, to be
   busied with anyone but the Well-Beloved, were his eyes
   to behold any countenance other than His beauty, were
   his ear to be inclined to any melody but His voice, and
   were his feet to tread any way but His way.
     In this day the breeze of God is wafted, and His Spirit
   hath pervaded all things.  Such is the outpouring of His
   grace that the pen is stilled and the tongue is speechless.
     By virtue of this station, they have claimed for themselves
   the Voice of Divinity and the like, whilst by virtue
   of their station of Messengership, they have declared
   themselves the Messengers of God.  In every instance
   they have voiced an utterance that would conform to the
   requirements of the occasion, and have ascribed all these
   declarations to Themselves, declarations ranging from
   the divine Revelation to the realm of creation,
   and from the domain of Divinity even unto the domain of
   earthly existence.  Thus it is that whatsoever be their utterance,
   whether it pertain to the realm of Divinity, Lordship,
   Prophethood, Messengership, Guardianship, Apostelship
   or Servitude, all is true, beyond the shadow of a
   doubt.  Therefore, these sayings which We have quoted in
   support of Our argument must be attentively considered,
   that the divergent utterances of the Manifestations of the
   Unseen and Daysprings of Holiness may cease to agitate
   the soul and perplex the mind. -- Kitab-i-Iqan, 176-181.
   When Baha'u'llah speaks as a man, the station He claims for
Himself is that of utter humility, of "annihilation in God."
What distinguishes the Manifestation, in His human personality,
from other men is the completeness of His self-abnegation
as well as the perfection of His powers.  Under all circumstances
He is able to say, as did Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane,
"nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done."  Thus
in His epistle to the Shah, Baha'u'llah says: --
     O king!  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. ... 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.  The evanescent is as nothing before Him Who is
   the Ever-Abiding.  His all-compelling summons hath
   reached Me, and caused Me to speak His praise amidst
   all people.  I was indeed as one dead when His behest was
   uttered.  The hand of the will of thy Lord, the Compassionate,
   the Merciful, transformed Me.  Can any one
   speak forth of his own accord that for which all men,
   both high and low, will protest against him?  Nay, by Him
   Who taught the Pen the eternal mysteries, save him whom
   the grace of the Almighty, the All-Powerful, hath
   strengthened. -- Lawh-i-Sultan (Tablet to the King of Persia),
   as quoted in The Promised Day Is Come, pp. 40-41.
   As Jesus washed His disciples' feet, so Baha'u'llah used
sometimes to cook food and perform other lowly offices for
His followers.  He was a servant of the servants, and gloried
only in servitude, content to sleep on a bare floor if need be,
to live on bread and water, or even, at times, on what He called
"the divine nourishment, that is to say, hunger!"  His perfect
humility was seen in His profound reverence for nature, for
human nature, and especially for the saints, prophets and
martyrs.  To Him, all things spoke of God, from the meanest to
the greatest.
   His human personality had been chosen by God to become
the Divine Mouthpiece and Pen.  It was not of His own will that
He had assumed this position of unparalleled difficulty and
hardship.  As Jesus said:  "Father, if it be possible, let this cup
pass from me," so Baha'u'llah said:  "Had another exponent or
speaker been found, We would not have made Ourself an object
of censure, derision and calumnies on the part of the people"
(Tablet of Ishraqat).  But the divine call was clear and
imperative and He obeyed.  God's will became His will, and
God's pleasure, His pleasure; and with "radiant acquiescence"
He declared: -- "Verily I say:  Whatever befalleth in the path
of God is the beloved of the soul and the desire of the heart.
Deadly poison in His path is pure honey, and every tribulation
a draught of crystal water." -- Epistle to the Son of the Wolf,
p. 17.
   At other times, as we have mentioned, Baha'u'llah speaks
"from the station of Deity."  In these utterances His human
personality is so completely subservient that it is left out of
account altogether.  Through Him God addresses His creatures
proclaiming His love for them, teaching them His attributes,
making known His will, announcing His laws for
their guidance and pleading for their love, their allegiance
and service.
   In the Writings of Baha'u'llah, the utterance frequently
changes from one of these forms to another.  Sometimes it is
evidently the man who is discoursing, then without a break the
writing continues as if God were speaking in the first person.
Even when speaking as a man, however, Baha'u'llah speaks as
God's messenger, as a living example of entire devotion to
God's will.  His whole life is actuated by the Holy Spirit.  Hence
no hard and fast line can be drawn between the human and divine
elements in His life or teachings.  God tells Him: --
     Say:  "Naught is seen in my temple but the Temple of
   God, and in my beauty but His Beauty, and in my being
   but His Being, and in myself but Himself, and in my
   movement but His Movement, and in my acquiescence
   but His Acquiescence, and in my pen but His Pen, the
   Precious, the Extolled."
     Say:  "There hath not been in my soul but the Truth,
   and in myself naught could be seen but God." -- Suratu'l-Haykal.
His Mission
   Baha'u'llah's mission in the world is to bring about Unity --
Unity of all mankind in and through God.  He says: -- "Of the
Tree of Knowledge the All-glorious fruit is this exalted word:
Of one Tree are all ye the fruits and of one Bough the leaves.
Let not man glory in this that he loves his country, but let him
rather glory in this that he loves his kind."
   Previous Prophets have heralded an age of peace on earth,
goodwill among men, and have given Their lives to hasten its
advent, but each and all of Them have plainly declared that
this blessed consummation would be reached only after the
"Coming of the Lord" in the latter days, when the wicked
would be judged and righteous rewarded.
   Zoroaster foretold three thousand years of conflict before
the advent of Shah Bahram, the world-savior, Who would
overcome Ahrman the spirit of evil, and establish a reign of
righteousness and peace.
   Moses foretold a long period of exile, persecution and oppression
for the children of Israel, before the Lord of Hosts
would appear to gather them from all the nations, to destroy
the oppressors and establish His Kingdom upon earth.
   Christ said:  "Think not that I am come to send peace on
earth:  I came not to send peace, but a sword" (Matt. x, 34),
and He predicted a period of wars and rumors of wars, of tribulations
and afflictions that would continue till the coming of
the Son of Man "in the glory of the Father."
   Muhammad declared that, because of their wrongdoings,
Allah had put enmity and hatred among both Jews and Christians
that would last until the Day of Resurrection, when He
would appear to judge them all.
   Baha'u'llah, on the other hand, announces that He is the
Promised One of all these Prophets -- the Divine Manifestation
in Whose era the reign of peace will actually be established.
This statement is unprecedented and unique, yet it fits in wonderfully
with the signs of the times, and with the prophecies of
all the great Prophets.  Baha'u'llah revealed with incomparable
clearness and comprehensiveness the means for bringing about
peace and unity amongst mankind.
   It is true that, since the advent of Baha'u'llah, there have
been, until now, war and destruction on an unprecedented
scale, but this is just what all the prophets have said would
happen at the dawn of the "great and terrible Day of the
Lord," and is, therefore, but a confirmation of the view that
the "Coming of the Lord" is not only at hand, but is already an
accomplished fact.  According to the parable of Christ, the
Lord of the Vineyard must miserably destroy the wicked husbandmen
before He gives the Vineyard to others who will render
Him the fruits in their seasons.  Does not this mean that at
the coming of the Lord dire destruction awaits those despotic
governments, avaricious and intolerant priests, mullas, or tyrannical
leaders who through the centuries have, like wicked
husbandmen, misruled the earth and misappropriated its
   There may be terrible events, and unparalleled calamities
yet awhile on the earth, but Baha'u'llah assures us that erelong,
these fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars shall pass away,
and the `Most Great Peace' shall come."  War and strife have become
so intolerable in their destructiveness that mankind must
find deliverance from them or perish.
   "The fullness of time" has come and with it the Promised
His Writings
   The Writings of Baha'u'llah are most comprehensive in their
range, dealing with every phase of human life, individual and
social, with things material and things spiritual, with the interpretation
of ancient and modern scriptures, and with prophetic
anticipations of both the near and distant future.
   The range and accuracy of His knowledge was amazing.  He
could quote and expound the Scriptures of the various religions
with which He correspondents or questions were familiar, in
convincing the authoritative manner, although apparently He
had never had the ordinary means of access to many of the
books referred to.  He declares, in Epistle to the Son of the
Wolf, that He had never read the Bayan, although in His own
Writings He shows the most perfect knowledge and understanding
of the Bab's Revelation.  (The Bab, as we have seen,
declared that His Revelation, the Bayan, was inspired by and
emanated from "Him Whom God shall make Manifest"!)  With
the single exception of a visit from Professor Edward Granville
Browne, to whom in the year 1890 He accorded four interviews,
each lasting twenty to thirty minutes, He had no opportunities
of intercourse with enlightened Western thinkers, yet
His Writings show a complete grasp of the social, political and
religious problems of the Western World, and even His enemies
had to admit that His wisdom and knowledge were incomparable.
The well-known circumstances of His long imprisonment
render it impossible to doubt that the wealth of knowledge
shown in His Writings must have been acquired from some
spiritual source, quite independent of the usual means of study
or instruction and the help of books or teachers.+F1
1.    When asked whether Baha'u'llah had made a special study of Western
    writings and founded His teachings in accordance with them Abdu'l-Baha
    said that the books of Baha'u'llah, written and printed as long ago as
    the 1870's, contained the ideals now so familiar to the West, although
    at that time these ideas had not been printed or thought of in the West.
   Sometimes He wrote in modern Persian, the ordinary language
of His fellow countrymen, which is largely admixed with
Arabic.  At other times, as when addressing learned Zoroastrians,
He wrote in the purest classical Persian.  He also wrote
with equal fluency in Arabic, sometimes in very simple language,
sometimes in classical style somewhat similar to that of
the Qur'an.  His perfect mastery of these different languages
and styles was remarkable because of His entire lack of literary
   In some of His Writings the way of holiness is pointed out in
such simple terms that "the wayfaring men, though fools, shall
not err therein" (Isaiah xxv, 8).  In others there is a wealth
of poetic imagery, profound philosophy and allusions to Muhammadan,
Zoroastrian and other scriptures, or to Persian
and Arabic literature and legends, such as only the poet, the
philosopher or the scholar can adequately appreciate.  Still
others deal with advanced stages of the spiritual life and are to
be understood only by those who have already passed through
the earlier stages.  His works are like a bountiful table provided
with foods and delicacies suited to the needs and tastes of all
who are genuine truth seekers.
   It is because of this that His Cause had effect among the
learned and culture, spiritual poets and well-known writers.
Even some of the leaders of the Sufis and of other sets, and
some of the political ministers who were writers, were attracted
by His words, for they exceeded those of all other writers
in sweetness and depth of spiritual meaning.
The Baha'i Spirit
   From His place of confinement in distant Akka, Baha'u'llah
stirred His native land of Persia to its depths; and not only
Persia; He stirred and is stirring the world.  The spirit that animated
Him and His followers was unfailingly gentle, courteous
and patient, yet it was a force of astonishing vitality and
transcendent power.  It achieved the seemingly impossible.  It
changed human nature.  Men who yielded to its influence became
new creatures.  They were filled with a love, a faith, and
enthusiasm, compared with which earthly joys and sorrows
were but as dust in the balance.  They were ready to face lifelong
suffering or violent death with perfect equanimity, nay,
with radiant joy, in the strength of fearless dependence on
   Most wonderful of all, their hearts were so brimming over
with the joy of a new life as to leave no room for thoughts of
bitterness or vindictiveness against their oppressors.  They entirely
abandoned the use of violence in self-defense, and instead
of bemoaning their fate, they considered themselves the
most fortunate of men in being privileged to receive this new
and glorious Revelation and to spend their lives or shed their
blood testifying to its truth.  Well might their hearts sing
with joy, for they believed that God, the Supreme, the Eternal,
the Beloved, had spoken to them through human lips, had
called them to be His servants and friends, had come to establish His Kingdom
upon earth and to bring the priceless boon of
Peace to a warworn, strife-stricken world.
   Such was the faith inspired by Baha'u'llah.  He announced
His own mission, as the Bab had foretold that He would, and,
thanks to the devoted labors of His great Forerunner, there
were thousands ready to acclaim His Advent -- thousands who
had shaken off superstitions and prejudices, and were waiting
with pure hearts and open minds for the Manifestation of
God's Promised Glory.  Poverty and chains, sordid circumstances
and outward ignominy could not hide from them the
Spiritual Glory of their Lord -- nay, these dark earthly surroundings
only served to enhance the brilliance of His real
Abdu'l-Baha:  The Servant of Baha/4
   When the ocean of My presence hath ebbed and the Book of
My Revelation is ended, turn your faces towards Him Whom
God hath purposed, Who hath branched from this Ancient
Root. -- BAHA'U'LLAH, Kitab-i-Aqdas.
Birth and Childhood
   Abbas Effendi, Who afterwards assumed the title of Abdu'l-Baha
(i.e. Servant of Baha), was the eldest son of Baha'u'llah.
He was born in Tihran before midnight on the eve of the 23rd
of May, 1844,+F1 the very same night in which the Bab declared
His mission.
   He was nine years of age when His father, to Whom even
then He was devotedly attached, was thrown into the dungeon
in Tihran.  A mob sacked their house, and the family were
stripped of their possessions and left in destitution.  Abdu'l-Baha
tells how one day He was allowed to enter the prison
yard to see His beloved father when He came out for His daily
exercise.  Baha'u'llah was terribly altered, so ill He could
hardly walk, His hair and beard unkempt, His neck galled and
swollen from the pressure of a heavy steel collar, His body
bent by the weight of His chains, and the sight made a never-
to-be-forgotten impression on the mind of the sensitive boy.
   During the first year of their residence in Baghdad, ten years
before the open Declaration by Baha'u'llah of His Mission, the
keen insight of Abdu'l-Baha, Who was then but nine years of
age, already led Him to the momentous discovery that His father
was indeed the Promised One Whose Manifestation all the
Babis were awaiting.  Some sixty years afterwards He thus described
the moment in which this conviction suddenly overwhelmed
His whole nature: --
1.    Thursday, 5th Jamadi I, 1260 A.H.
     I am the servant of the Blessed Perfection.  In Baghdad
   I was a child.  Then and there He announced to me the
   Word, and I believed in Him.  As soon as He proclaimed
   to me the Word, I threw myself at His Holy Feet and implored
   and supplicated Him to accept my blood as a sacrifice
   in His Pathway.  Sacrifice!  How sweet I find that
   word!  There is no greater Bounty for me than this!  What
   greater glory can I conceive than to see thick neck chained
   for His sake, these feet fettered for His love, this body
   mutilated or thrown into the depths of the sea for His
   Cause!  If in reality we are His sincere lovers -- if in reality
   I am His sincere servant, then I must sacrifice my life,
   my all at His Bless Threshold. -- Diary of Mirza Ahmad
   Sohrab, January 1914.
   About this time He began to be called by His friends, "The
Mystery of God," a title given to Him by Baha'u'llah, by which
He was commonly known during the period of residence in
   When His father went away for two years in the wilderness,
Abbas was heartbroken.  His chief consolation consisted in
copying and committing to memory the Tablets of the Bab,
and much of His time was spent in solitary meditation.  When
at last His father returned, the boy was overwhelmed with joy.
   From that time onwards, He became His father's closest
companion and, as it were, protector.  Although a mere youth,
He already showed astonishing sagacity and discrimination,
and undertook the task of interviewing all the numerous visitors
who came to see His father.  If He found they were genuine
truth seekers, He admitted them to His father's presence,
but otherwise He did not permit them to trouble Baha'u'llah.
On many occasions He helped His father in answering the
questions and solving the difficulties of these visitors.  For example,
when of the Sufi leaders, named Ali Shawkat
Pasha, asked for an explanation of the phrase:  "I was a Hidden
Mystery," which occurs in a well-known Muhammadan tradition,
tradition,+F1 Baha'u'llah turned to the "Mystery of God," Abbas, and
asked Him to write the explanation.  The boy, who was then
about fifteen or sixteen years of age, at once wrote an important
epistle giving an exposition so illuminating as to astonish
the Pasha.  This epistle is now widely spread among the
Baha'is, and is well known to many outside the Baha'i faith.
   About this time Abbas was a frequent visitor to the
mosques, where He would discuss theological matters with the
doctors and learned men.  He never attended any school or college,
His only teacher being His father.  His favorite recreation
was horseback riding, which He keenly enjoyed.
   After Baha'u'llah's Declaration in the Garden outside Baghdad,
Abdu'l-Baha's devotion to His father became greater
than ever.  On the long journey to Constantinople He guarded
Baha'u'llah night and day, riding by His wagon and watching
near His tent.  As far as possible He relieved His father of all
domestic cares and responsibilities, becoming the mainstay
and comfort of the entire family.
   During the years spent in Adrianople, Abdu'l-Baha endeared
Himself to everyone.  He taught much, and became generally
known as the "Master."  At Akka, when nearly all the
party were ill with typhoid, malaria, and dysentery, He washed
the patients, nursed them, fed them, watched with them, taking
no rest, until utterly exhausted, He Himself took dysentery,
and for about a month remained in a dangerous condition.
In Akka, as in Adrianople, all classes, from the Governor
to the most wretched beggar, learned to love and respect Him.
   The following particulars regarding the marriage of Abdu'l-Baha
were kindly supplied to the writer by a Persian historian
of the Baha'i Faith: --
     During the youth of Abdu'l-Baha the question of a
   suitable marriage for Him was naturally one of great interest
   to the believers, and many people came forward,
1.    The tradition is quoted in a Tablet of Baha'u'llah; see Chapter 5
    of this book.
   wishing to have this crown of honor for their own family.
   For a long time, however, Abdu'l-Baha showed no inclination
   for marriage, and no one understood the wisdom
   of this.  Afterwards it became known that there was a girl
   who was destined to become the wife of Abdu'l-Baha,
   one whose birth came about through the Blessing which
   the Bab gave to her parents in Isfahan.  Her father was
   Mirza Muhammad Ali, who was the uncle of the "King
   of Martyrs" and the "Beloved of Martyrs," and she belonged
   to one of the great and noble families of Isfahan.
   When the Bab was in Isfahan, Mirza Muhammad Ali
   had no children, but his wife was longing for a child.  On
   hearing of this, the Bab gave him a portion of His food
   and told him to share it with his wife.  After they had
   eaten of that food, it soon became apparent that their
   long-cherished hopes of parenthood were about to be fulfilled,
   and in due course a daughter was born to them,
   who was given the name of Munirih Khanum.+F1  Later on
   son was born, to whom they gave the name of Siyyid
   Yahya, and afterwards they had some other children.
   After a time, Munirih's father died, her cousins were martyred
   by Zillu's-Sultan and the mullas, and the family fell
   into great troubles and bitter persecutions because of
   their being Baha'is.  Baha'u'llah then permitted Munirih
   and her brother Siyyid Yahya to come to Akka for protection.
   Baha'u'llah and His wife, Navvab, the mother of
   Abdu'l-Baha, showed such kindness and favor to Munirih
   that others understood that they wished her to become
   the wife of Abdu'l-Baha.  The wish of His father and
   mother became the wish of Abdu'l-Baha, too.  He had a
   warm feeling of love and affection for Munirih which was
   fully reciprocated, and erelong they became united in
   The marriage proved exceedingly happy and harmonious.
Of the children born to them four daughters have survived the
rigors of their long imprisonment, and, through their beautiful
1.    It is interesting to compare this story with that of the birth of
    John the Baptist; see St. Luke's Gospel, Chapter I.
lives of service, have endeared themselves to all who have been
privileged to know them.
Center of the Covenant
   Baha'u'llah indicated in many ways the Abdu'l-Baha was
to direct the Cause after His own ascension.  Many years before
His death He declared this in a veiled manner in His Kitab-i-Aqdas.
He referred to Abdu'l-Baha on many occasions as
"The Center of My Covenant," "The Most Great Branch," "The
Branch from the Ancient Root."  He habitually spoke of Him
as "The Master" and required all His family to treat Him with
marked deference; and in His Will and Testament He left explicit
instructions that all should turn to Him and obey Him.
   After the death of the "Blessed Beauty" (as Baha'u'llah was
generally called by His family and believers) Abdu'l-Baha
assumed the position which His father had clearly indicated
for Him as head of the Cause and authoritative Interpreter of
the teachings, but this was resented by certain of His relatives
and others, who became as bitterly opposed to Abdu'l-Baha
as Subh-i-Azal had been to Baha'u'llah.  They tried to stir up
dissensions among the believers, and, failing in that, proceeded
to make various false charges against Abdu'l-Baha to the
Turkish Government.
   In accordance with instructions received from His father,
Abdu'l-Baha was erecting a building on the side of Mount
Carmel, above Haifa, which was intended to be the permanent
resting-place of the remains of the Bab, and also to contain a
number of rooms for meetings and services.  They represented
to the authorities that this building was intended as a fort, and
that Abdu'l-Baha and His followers meant to entrench themselves
there, defy the Government, and endeavor to gain possession
of the neighboring region of Syria.
Strict Imprisonment Renewed
   In consequence of this and other equally unfounded charges,
in 1901, Abdu'l-Baha and His family, who for more than
twenty years had been allowed the freedom of the country for
some miles around Akka, were again, for over seven years,
strictly confined within the walls of the prison city.  This did
not prevent Him, however, from effectively spreading the
Baha'i message through Asia, Europe and America.  Mr.
Horace Holley writes of this period as follows: --
     To Abdu'l-Baha, as a teacher and friend, came men
   and women from every race, religion and nation, to sit at
   his table like favored guests, questioning him about the
   social, spiritual or moral program each had most at
   heart; and after a stay lasting from a few hours to many
   months, returning home, inspired, renewed and enlightened.
   The world surely never possessed such a guest-house
   as this.
     Within its doors the rigid castes of India melted away,
   the racial prejudice of Jew, Christian and Muhammadan
   became less than a memory; and every convention save
   the essential law of warm hearts and aspiring minds broke
   down, banned and forbidden by the unifying sympathy of
   the master of the house.  It was like a King Arthur and the
   Round Table ... but an Arthur who knighted women as
   well as men, and sent them away not with the sword but
   with the Word. -- The Modern Social Religion, Horace
   Holley, p. 171.
   During these years Abdu'l-Baha cared on an enormous
correspondence with believers and inquirers in all parts of the
world.  In this work He was greatly assisted by His daughters
and also by several interpreters and secretaries.
   Much of His time was spent in visiting the sick and the afflicted
in their own homes; and in the poorest quarters of
Akka no visitor was more welcome than the "Master."  A pilgrim
who visited Akka at this time writes: --
     It is the custom of Abdu'l-Baha each week, on Friday
   morning, to distribute alms to the poor.  From his own
   scanty store he gives a little to each one of the needy who
   come to ask assistance.  This morning about one hundred
   were ranged in line, seated and crouching upon the
   ground in the open street of the courts where Abdu'l-Baha's
   house stands.  And such a nondescript collection of
   humanity they were.  All kinds of men, women and children --
   poor, wretched, hopeless in aspect, half-clothed,
   many of them crippled and blind, beggars indeed, poor
   beyond expression -- waiting expectant -- until from the
   doorway came Abdu'l-Baha. ... Quickly moving from
   one to another, stopping sometimes to leave a word of
   sympathy and encouragement, dropping small coins into
   each eager outstretched palm, touching the face of a
   child, taking the hand of an old woman who held fast to
   the hem of his garment as he passed along, speaking
   words of light to old men with sightless eyes, inquiring
   after those too feeble and wretched to come for their pittance
   of help, and sending them their portion with a message
   of love and uplift. -- Glimpses of Abdu'l-Baha,
   M. J. M., p. 13.
   Abdu'l-Baha's personal wants were few.  He worked late
and early.  Two simple meals a day sufficed Him.  His wardrobe
consisted of a very few garments of inexpensive material.  He
could not bear to live in luxury while others were in want.
   He had a great love for children, for flowers, and for the
beauties of nature.  Every morning about six or seven, the family
party used to gather to partake of the morning tea together,
and while the Master sipped His tea, the little children of the
household chanted prayers.  Mr. Thornton Chase writes of
these children: -- "Such children I have never seen, so courteous,
unselfish, thoughtful for others, unobtrusive, intelligent,
and swiftly self-denying in the little things that children
love. ..." -- In Galilee, p. 51.
   The "ministry of flowers" was a feature of the life at Akka,
of which every pilgrim brought away fragrant memories.  Mrs.
Lucas writes: -- "When the Master inhales the odor of flowers,
it is wonderful to see him.  It seems as though the perfume of
the hyacinths were telling him something as he buries his
face in the flowers.  It is like the effort of the ear to hear a beautiful
harmony, a concentrated attention!" -- A Brief Account
of My Visit to `Akka, pp. 25-26.
   He loved to present beautiful and sweet-smelling flowers to
His numerous visitors.
   Mr. Thornton Chase sums up his impression of the prison
life at Akka as follows: --
     Five days we remained within those walls, prisoners
   with Him who dwells in that "Greatest Prison."  It is a
   prison of peace, of love and service.  No wish, no desire is
   there save the good of mankind, the peace of the world,
   the acknowledgement of the Fatherhood of God and the
   mutual rights of men as His creatures, His children.  Indeed,
   the real prison, the suffocating atmosphere, the
   separation from all true heart desires, the bond of world
   conditions, is outside of those stone walls, while within
   them is the freedom and pure aura of the Spirit of God.
   All troubles, tumults, worries or anxieties for worldly
   things are barred out there. -- In Galilee, p. 24.
   To most people the hardships of prison life would appear as
grievous calamities, but for Abdu'l-Baha they had no terrors.
When in prison He wrote: --
     Grieve not because of my imprisonment and calamity;
   for this prison is my beautiful garden, my mansioned
   paradise and my throne of dominion among mankind.
   My calamity in my prison is a crown to me in which I
   glory among the righteous.
     Anyone can be happy in the state of comfort, ease,
   health, success, pleasure and joy; but if one be happy and
   contented in the time of trouble, hardship and prevailing
   disease, that is the proof of nobility.
Turkish Commissions of Investigation
   In 1904 and 1907 commissions were appointed by the
Turkish Government to inquire into the charges against
Abdu'l-Baha, and lying witnesses gave evidence against Him.
Abdu'l-Baha, while refuting the charges, expressed His entire
readiness to submit to any sentence the tribunal chose to impose.
He declared that if they should throw Him into jail, drag
Him through the streets, curse Him, spit upon Him, stone Him,
heap upon Him all sort of ignominy, hang Him or shoot Him,
He would still be happy.
   Between the sittings of the Commissions of Investigation He
pursued His ordinary life with the utmost serenity, planting
fruit trees in a garden and presiding at a marriage feast with
the dignity and radiance of spiritual freedom.  The Spanish
Consul offered to provide Him a safe passage to any foreign
port He cared to select, but this offer He gratefully but firmly
refused, saying that whatever the consequences, He must follow
in the footsteps of the Bab and the Blessed Perfection,
Who never tried to save Themselves or run away from Their
enemies.  He encouraged most of the Baha'is, however, to leave
the neighborhood of Akka, which had become very dangerous
for them, and remained alone, with a few of the faithful, to
await His destiny.
   The four corrupt officials who constituted the last investigating
commission arrived in Akka in the early part of the winter
of 1907, stayed one month, and departed for Constantinople,
after finishing their so-called "investigation," prepared to report
that the charges against Abdu'l-Baha had been substantiated
and to recommend His exile or execution.  No sooner had
they got back to Turkey, however, than the Revolution broke
out there and the four commissioners, who belonged to the
old regime, had to flee for their lives.  The Young Turks established
their supremacy, and all political and religious prisoners
in the Ottoman Empire were set free.  In September 1980
Abdu'l-Baha was released was prison, and in the following
year Abdu'l-Hamid, the Sultan, became himself a prisoner.
Western Tours
   After His release, Abdu'l-Baha continued the same holy life
of ceaseless activity in teaching, correspondence, ministering
to the poor and the sick, with merely the change from Akka to
Haifa and from Haifa to Alexandria, until August 1911, when
He started on His first visit to the Western world.  During His
tours in the West, Abdu'l-Baha met men of every shade of
opinion and amply fulfilled the command of Baha'u'llah to
"Consort with all the people with joy and fragrance."  He
reached London early in September 1911, and spent a month
there, during which, besides daily talks with inquirers and
many other activities, He addressed the congregations of the
Rev. R. J. Campbell at the City Temple, and of Archdeacon
Wilberforce at St. John's, Westminster, and breakfasted with
the Lord Mayor.  He then proceeded to Paris, where His time
was occupied in giving daily addresses and talks to eager
listeners of many nationalities and types.  In December He returned
to Egypt, and next spring, in response to the earnest
entreaty of the American friends, He proceeded to the United
States, arriving in New York in April 1912.  During the next
nine months He traveled through America, from coast to
coast, addressing all sorts and conditions of men -- university
students, Socialists, Mormons, Jews, Christians, Agnostics,
Esperantists, Peace Societies, New Thought Clubs, Women's
Suffrage Societies, and speaking in churches of almost every
denomination, in each case giving addresses suited to the
audience and the occasion.  On December 5 He sailed for
Great Britain, where He passed six weeks, visiting Liverpool,
London, Bristol and Edinburgh.  In Edinburgh He gave a
notable address to the Esperanto Society, in which He announced
that He had encouraged the Baha'is of the East to
study Esperanto in order to further better understanding between
the East and the West.  After two months in Paris, spent
as before in daily interviews and conference, He proceeded to
Stuttgart, where He held a series of very successful meetings
with the German Baha'is; thence to Budapest and Vienna,
founding new groups in these places, returning, in May 1913,
to Egypt, and on December 5, 1913, to Haifa.
Return to Holy Land
   He was then in His seventieth year, and His long and arduous
labors, culminating in these strenuous Western tours, had
worn out His physical frame.  After His return He wrote the
following pathetic Tablet to the believers in East and West: --
     Friends, the time is coming when I shall be no longer
   with you.  I have done all that could be done.  I have
   served the Cause of Baha'u'llah to the utmost of my ability.
   I have labored night and day all the years of my life.
     Oh, how I long to see the believers shouldering the responsibilities
   of the Cause!  Now is the time to proclaim
   the Kingdom of Abha (i.e. The Most Glorious!).  Now is
   the hour of union and concord!  Now is the day of the
   spiritual harmony of the friends of God! ...
     I am straining my ears toward the East and toward the
   West, toward the North and toward the South, that haply
   I may hear the songs of love and fellowship raised in the
   meetings of the believers.  My days are numbered, and
   save this there remains none other joy for me.
     Oh, how I yearn to see the friends united, even as a
   shining strand of pearls, as the brilliant Pleiades, as the
   rays of the sun, the gazelles of one meadow!
     The mystic nightingale is singing for them; will they
   not listen?  The bird of paradise is warbling; will they not
   hear?  The Angel of the Kingdom of Abha is calling to
   them; will they not hearken?  The Messenger of the Covenant
   is pleading; will they not heed?
     Ah!  I am waiting, waiting to hear the glad news that
   the believers are the embodiment of sincerity and loyalty,
   the incarnation of love and amity and the manifestation of
   unity and concord!
     Will they not rejoice my heart?  Will they not satisfy
   my yearnings?  Will they not heed my pleadings?  will they
   not fulfill my hopes?  Will they not answer my call?
     I am waiting, I am patiently waiting!
   The enemies of the Baha'i Cause, whose hopes had risen
high when the Bab fell a victim to their fury, when Baha'u'llah
was driven from His native land and made a prisoner for life,
and again at the passing of Baha'u'llah -- these enemies once
more took heart when they saw the physical weakness and
weariness of Abdu'l-Baha after His return from His Western
travels.  But again their hopes were doomed to disappointment.
In a short time Abdu'l-Baha was able to write: --
     Unquestionably this physical body and human energy
   would have been unable to stand the constant wear and
   tear...but the aid and help of the Desired One were
   the Guardian and Protector of the weak and humble
   Abdu'l-Baha. ... Some have asserted that Abdu'l-Baha
   is on the eve of bidding his last farewell to the world,
   that his physical energies are depleted and drained and
   that ere long these complications will put an end to his life.
   This is far from the truth.  Although in the outward estimation
   of the Covenant-breakers and defective-minded
   the body is weak on account of ordeals in the Blessed
   Path, yet, Praise be to God! through the providence of the
   Blessed Perfection the spiritual forces are in the utmost rejuvenation
   and strength.  Thanks be to God that now,
   through the blessing and benediction of Baha'u'llah, even
   the physical energies are fully restored, divine joy is obtained,
   the supreme glad-tidings are resplendent and ideal
   happiness overflowing.
   Both during the European War and after its close Abdu'l-Baha,
amidst countless other activities, was able to pour forth
a series of great and inspiring letters which, when communications
were reopened, roused believers throughout the world
to new enthusiasm and zeal for service.  Under the inspiration
of these letters the Cause progressed by leaps and bounds and
everywhere the Faith showed signs of new vitality and vigor.
War Time at Haifa
   A remarkable instance of the foresight of Abdu'l-Baha was
supplied during the months immediately preceding the war.
During peacetimes there was usually a large number of pilgrims
at Haifa, from Persia and other regions of the globe.
About six months before the outbreak of war one of the old
Baha'is living at Haifa present a request from several believers
of Persia for permission to visit the Master.  Abdu'l-Baha
did not grant the permission, and from that time onwards
gradually dismissed the pilgrims who were at Haifa, so that by
the end of July 1914 none remained.  When, in the first days of
August the sudden outbreak of the Great War startled the
world, the wisdom of His precaution became apparent.
   When the war broke out, Abdu'l-Baha, Who had already
spent fifty-five years of His life in exile and prison, became
again virtually a prisoner of the Turkish Government.  Communication
with friends and believers outside Syria was almost
completely cut off, and He and His little band of followers were
again subjected to straitened circumstances, scarcity of food
and great personal danger and inconvenience.
   During the war Abdu'l-Baha had a busy time in ministering
to the material and spiritual wants of the people about Him.
He personally organized extensive agricultural operations near
Tiberias, thus securing a great supply of wheat, by means of
which famine was averted, not only for the Baha'is but for
hundreds of the poor of all religions in Haifa and Akka, whose
wants He liberally supplied.  He took care of all, and mitigated
their sufferings as far as possible.  To hundreds of poor people
He would give a small sum of money daily.  In addition to
money He gave bread.  If there was no bread He would give
dates or something else.  He made frequent visits to Akka to
comfort and help the believers and poor people there.  During
the time of war He had daily meetings of the believers, and
through His help the friends remained happy and tranquil
throughout those troublous years.
Sir Abdu'l-Baha Abbas, K.B.E.
   Great was the rejoicing in Haifa when, on the 23rd day of
September, 1918, at 3 P.M., after some twenty-four hours'
fighting, the city was taken by British and Indian cavalry, and
the horrors of war conditions under the Turkish rule came to
an end.
   From the beginning of the British occupation, large numbers
of soldiers and Government officials of all ranks, even the highest,
sought interviews with Abdu'l-Baha, delighting in His
illuminating talks, His breadth of view and depth of insight,
His dignified courtesy and genial hospitality.  So profoundly
impressed were the Government representatives by His noble
character and His great work in the interests of peace conciliation,
and the true prosperity of the people, that a knighthood
of the British Empire was conferred on Abdu'l-Baha, the ceremony
taking place in the garden of the Military Governor of
Haifa on the 27th day of April, 1920.
Last Years
   During the winter of 1919-1920 the writer had the great
privilege of spending two and half months as the guest of
Abdu'l-Baha at Haifa and intimately observing His daily life.
At that time, although nearly seventy-six years of age, He was
still remarkably vigorous, and accomplished daily an almost
incredible amount of work.  Although often very weary He
showed wonderful powers of recuperation, and His services
were always at the disposal of those who needed them most.
His unfailing patience, gentleness, kindliness and tact made
His presence like a benediction.  It was His custom to spend a
large part of each night in prayer and meditation.  From early
morning until evening, except for a short siesta after lunch, He
was busily engaged in reading and answering letters from many
lands and in attending to the multitudinous affairs of the household
and of the Cause.  In the afternoon He usually had a little
relaxation in the form of a walk or a drive, but even then He
was usually accompanied by one or two, or a party, of pilgrims
with whom He would converse on spiritual matters, or He
would find opportunity by the way of seeing and ministering to
some of the poor.  After His return He would call the friends to
the usual evening meeting in His salon.  Both at lunch and
supper He used to entertain a number of pilgrims and friends,
and charm His guests with happy and humorous stories as well
as precious talks on a great variety of subjects.  "My home is
the home of laughter and mirth," He declared, and indeed it
was so.  He delighted in gathering together people of various
races, colors, nations and religions in unity and cordial friendship
around His hospitable board.  He was indeed a loving
father not only to the little community at Haifa, but to the
Baha'i community throughout the world.
The Passing of Abdu'l-Baha
   Abdu'l-Baha's manifold activities continued with little
abatement despite increasing bodily weakness and weariness
up till the last day or two of His life.  On Friday, November 25,
1921, He attended the noonday prayer at the Mosque in Haifa,
and afterwards distributed alms to the poor with His own
hands, as was His wont.  After lunch He dictated some letters.
When He had rested He walked in the garden and had a talk
with the gardener.  In the evening He gave His blessing and
counsel to a loved and faithful servant of the household who
had been married that day, and afterwards He attended the
usual meeting of the friends in His own salon.  Less that three
days later, about 1:30 A.M. on Monday, November 28, He
passed away so peacefully that, to the two daughters watching
by His bedside, it seemed as if He had gone quietly to sleep.
   The sad news soon spread throughout the town and was
flashed over the wires to all parts of the world.  The next morning
(Tuesday, November 29) the funeral took place:
     ... a funeral the like of which Haifa, nay Palestine itself,
   had surely never seen ... so deep was the feeling that
   brought so many thousands of mourners together, representative
   of so many religions, races and tongues.
     The High Commissioner, Sir Herbert Samuel, the
   Governor or Jerusalem, the Governor of Phoenicia, the
   Chief Officials of the Government, the Consuls of the
   various countries, resident in Haifa, the heads of the various
   religious communities, the notables of Palestine, Jews,
   Christians, Moslems, Druses, Egyptians, Greeks, Turks,
   Kurds, and a host of his American, European and native
   friends, men, women and children, both of high and low
   degree ... all, about ten thousand in number, mourning
   the loss of their Beloved One. ...
     "O God, my God!" the people wailed with one accord,
   "Our father has left us, our father has left us!"
    ... they slowly wended their way up Mount Carmel,
   the Vineyard of God. ... After two hours' walking, they
   reached the garden of the Tomb of the Bab. ... As the
   vast concourse pressed round ... representatives of the
   various denominations, Moslems, Christians and Jews, all
   hearts being ablaze with fervent love of Abdu'l-Baha, some
   on the impulse of the moment, other prepared, raised
   their voices in eulogy and regret, paying their last homage
   of farewell to their loved one.  So united were they in their
   acclamation of him, as the wise educator and reconciler of
   the human race in this perplexed and sorrowful age, that
   there seemed to be nothing left for the Baha'is to
   say. -- The Passing of Abdu'l-Baha, by Lady Blomfield and
   Shoghi Effendi, pp. 11, 12.
   Nine speakers, all of them prominent representatives of the
Muslim, Christian and Jewish communities, bore eloquent
and moving witness to their love and admiration of the pure
and noble life which had just drawn to its close.  Then the
casket was slowly passed to its simple and hallowed resting-place.
   Surely here was a fitting tribute to the memory of One Who
had labored all His life for unity of religions, of races, of
tongues -- a tribute, and also a proof, that His lifework had not
been in vain, that the ideals of Baha'u'llah, which were His
inspiration, nay, His very life, were already beginning to
permeate the world and to break down the barriers of sect and
caste that for centuries had alienated Muslim, Christian, Jew,
and the other diverse factions into which the human family has
been riven.
Writings and Addresses
   The Writings of Abdu'l-Baha are very numerous and are
mostly in the form of letter to believers and inquirers.  A great
many of His talks and addresses have also been recorded and
many have been published.  Of the thousands of pilgrims who
have visited Him at Akka and Haifa a large number have
written descriptions of their impressions, and many of these
records are now available in printed form.
   His teachings are thus very completely preserved, and they
cover a very wide range of subjects.  With many of the problems
of both East and West He dealt more fully than His Father had
done, giving more detailed applications of the general principles
laid down by Baha'u'llah.  A number of His Writings have
not yet been translated into any Western language but enough
is already available to give deep and full knowledge of the
more important principles of His teaching.
   He spoke Persian, Arabic and Turkish.  In His Western
tours His talks and addresses were always interpreted, obviously
losing much of their beauty, eloquence and force in the
process, yet such was the power of the Spirit which accompanied
His words that all who heard Him were impressed.
Station of Abdu'l-Baha
   The unique station assigned to Abdu'l-Baha by the Blessed
Perfection is indicated in the following passage written by the
latter: -- "When the ocean of My presence hath ebbed and the
Book of My Revelation is ended, turn your faces towards Him
Whom God hath purposed, Who hath branched from this
Ancient Root."  And again: --" ... refer ye whatsoever ye
understand not in the Book to Him Who hath branched from
this mighty Stock."  Abdu'l-Baha Himself wrote the following: --
"In accordance with the explicit text of the Kitab-i-Aqdas
Baha'u'llah hath made the Center of the Covenant the
Interpreter of His Word -- a Covenant so firm and mighty that
from the beginning of time until the present day no religious
Dispensation hath produced its like."
   The very completeness of the servitude with which Abdu'l-Baha
promulgated the Faith of Baha'u'llah in East and West
resulted at times in a confusion of belief concerning His station
on the part of believers.  Realizing the purity of the spirit animating
His word and deed, surrounded by religious influences
marking the breakdown of their traditional doctrines, a number
of Baha'is felt that they honored Abdu'l-Baha by likening Him
to a Manifestation, or hailing Him as the "return of Christ."
Nothing caused Him such intense grief as this failure to perceive
that His capacity to serve Baha'u'llah proceeded from the
purity of the mirror turned to the Sun of Truth, and not from
the Sun itself.
   Moreover, unlike previous Dispensations, the Faith of
Baha'u'llah had within it the potency of a universal human
society.  During Abdu'l-Baha's mission covering the period
1892 to 1921, the Faith evolved through successive stages of
development in the direction of a true world order, Its development
required continuous direction and specific instruction
from Abdu'l-Baha, Who alone knew the fullness of that new
potent inspiration brought to earth in this age.  Until His own
Will and Testament was revealed after Abdu'l-Baha's departure
from the flesh, and its significance was expounded by
Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Faith, the Baha'is almost
inevitably attributed their beloved Master's guidance a
degree of spiritual authority equaling that of the Manifestation.
   The effects of such naive enthusiasm are no longer felt
within the Baha'i community, but with a sounder realization
of the mystery of that incomparably devotion and servitude,
the Baha'is can today all the more consciously appreciate the
unique character of the mission which Abdu'l-Baha fulfilled.
The Faith which in 1892 seemed so weak and helpless in the
physical exile and imprisonment of its Exemplar and Interpreter,
has since, with irresistible power, raised up communities
in many countries,+F1 and challenges the weakness of a decaying
civilization with a body of teachings that alone reveal the
future of a despairing humanity.
   The Will and Testament of Abdu'l-Baha itself set forth with
complete clarity the mystery of the stations of the Bab and of
Baha'u'llah, and His own mission: --
1.    In 1969, 139 independent states and 173 significant territories and
    islands. (See Epilogue)
     This is the foundation of the belief of the people of
   Baha (may my life be offered up for them):  "His Holiness,
   the Exalted One (the Bab), is the Manifestation
   of the Unity and Oneness of God and the Forerunner of
   the Ancient Beauty.  His Holiness the Abha Beauty (may
   my life be a sacrifice for His steadfast friends) is the
   Supreme Manifestation of God and the Dayspring of His
   Most Divine Essence.  All others are servants unto Him
   and do His bidding."
   By this statement, and by numerous others in which
Abdu'l-Baha emphasized the importance of basing one's
knowledge of the Faith upon His general Tablets, a foundation
for unity of belief was established, with the result that the
differences of understanding caused by reference to His Tablets
to individuals, in which the Master answered personal questions,
rapidly disappeared.  Above all, the establishment of a
definite administrative order, with the Guardian at its head,
transferred to institutions all authority previously wielded in
the form of prestige and influence by individual Baha'is in the
various local groups.
Exemplar of Baha'i Life
   Baha'u'llah was preeminently the Revealer of the Word.  His
forty years' imprisonment gave Him but limited opportunities
of intercourse with His fellowmen.  To Abdu'l-Baha, therefore,
fell the important task of becoming the exponent of the Revelation,
the Doer of the Word, the Great Exemplar of the Baha'i
life in actual contact with the world of today, in the most
diverse phases of its myriad activities.  He showed that it is still
possible, amid the whirl and rush of modern life, amid the
self-love and struggle for material prosperity that everywhere
prevail, to live the life of entire devotion to God and to the
service of one's fellows, which Christ and Baha'u'llah and all
the Prophets have demanded of men.  Through trial and vicissitudes,
calumnies, and treachery on the one hand, and through
love and praise, devotion and veneration on the other, He
stood like a lighthouse founded on a rock, around which
wintry tempests rage and the summer ocean plays, His poise
and serenity remaining ever steadfast and unshaken.  He lived
the life of faith, and calls on His followers to live it here and
now.  He raised amid a warring world the Banner of Unity and
Peace, the Standard of a New Era, and He assures those who
rally to its support that they shall be inspired by the Spirit of
the New Day.  It is the same Holy Spirit which inspired the
Prophets and Saints of old, but it is a new outpouring of that
Spirit, suited to the needs of the new time.
What Is a Baha'i/5
   Man must show forth fruits.  A fruitless man, in the words
of His Holiness the Spirit (i.e. Christ), is like a fruitless tree,
and a fruitless tree is fit for fire. -- BAHA'U'LLAH, Words of
   Herbert Spencer once remarked that by no political alchemy
is it possible to get golden conduct out of leaden instincts, and
it is equally true that by no political alchemy is it possible to
make a golden society out of leaden individuals.  Baha'u'llah,
like all previous Prophets, proclaimed this truth and taught
that in order to establish the Kingdom of God in the world, it
must first be established in the hearts of men.  In examining
the Baha'i teachings, therefore, we shall commence with the
instructions of Baha'u'llah for individual conduct, and try to
form a clear picture of what it means to be a Baha'i.
Living the Life
   When asked on one occasion:  "What is a Baha'i?"  Abdu'l-Baha
replied:  "To be a Baha'i simply means to love all the
world; to love humanity and try to serve it; to work for
universal peace and universal brotherhood."  On another occasion
He defined a Baha'i as "one endowed with all the perfections
of man in activity."  In one of His London talks He said
that a man may be a Baha'i even if He has never heard the
name of Baha'u'llah.  He added: --
     The man who lives the life according to the teachings
   of Baha'u'llah is already a Baha'i.  On the other hand, a
   man may call himself a Baha'i for fifty years, and if he
   does not live the life he is not a Baha'i.  An ugly man may
   call himself handsome, but he deceives no one, and a
   black man may call himself white, yet he deceives no one,
   not even himself.
   One who does not know God's Messengers, however, is like
a plant growing in the shade.  Although it knows not the sun,
it is, nevertheless, absolutely dependent on it.  The great
Prophets are spirits suns, and Baha'u'llah is the sun of this
"day" in which we live.  The suns of former days have warmed
and vivified the world, and had those suns not shone, the earth
would not be cold and dead, but it is the sunshine of today
that alone can ripen the fruits which the suns of former days
have kissed into life.

Devotion to God
   In order to attain to the Baha'i life in all its fullness, conscious
and direct relations with Baha'u'llah are as necessary as
is sunshine for the unfolding of the lily or the rose.  The Baha'i
worships not the human personality of Baha'u'llah, but the
Glory of God manifest through that personality.  He reverences
Christ and Muhammad and all God's former Messengers to
mankind, but he recognizes Baha'u'llah as the bearer of God's
Message for the new age in which we live, as the Great World
teacher Who has come to carry on and consummate the work
of His predecessors.
   Intellectual assent to a creed does not make a man a Baha'i,
nor does outward rectitude of conduct.  Baha'u'llah requires of
His followers wholehearted and complete devotion.  God alone
has the right to make such a demand, but Baha'u'llah speaks
as the Manifestation of God, and the Revealer of His Will.
Previous Manifestations have been equally clear on this point.
Christ said:  "If any man come after me, let him deny himself,
and take up his cross daily, and follow me.  For whosoever will save
his life shall lose it:  but whosoever will lose his life for my sake,
the same shall save it."  In different words, all the Divine Manifestations
have made this same demand from Their followers,
and the history of religion shows clearly that as long as the demand
has been frankly recognized and accepted, religion has
flourished, despite all earthly opposition, despite affliction, persecution
and martyrdom of the believers.  On the other hand,
whenever compromise has crept in, and "respectability" has
taken the place of complete consecration, then religion has decayed.
It has become fashionable, but it has lost its power to
save and transform, its power to work miracles.  True religion
has never yet been fashionable.  God grant that one day it may
become so; but it is still true, as in the days of Christ, that "strait
is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and
few there be that find it."  The gateway of spiritual birth, like the
gateway of natural birth, admits men only one by one, and
without encumbrances.  If, in the future, more people succeed
in entering that way than in the past, it will not be because of
any widening of the gate, but because of a greater disposition on
the part of men to make the "great surrender" which God demands;
because long and bitter experience has at last brought
them to see the folly of choosing their own way instead of God's
Search After Truth
   Baha'u'llah enjoins justice on all His followers and defines
it as: -- "The freedom of man from superstition and imitation,
so that he may discern the Manifestations of God with the eyes
of Oneness, and consider all affairs with keen sight." -- Words
of Wisdom.
   It is necessary that each individual should see and realize for
himself the Glory of God manifest in the human temple of
Baha'u'llah, otherwise the Baha'i faith would be for him but
a name without meaning.  The call of the Prophets to mankind
has always been that men should open their eyes, not shut
them, use their reason, not suppress it.  It is clear seeing and
free thinking, not servile credulity, that will enable them to penetrate
the clouds of prejudice, to shake off the fetters of
blind imitation, and attain to the realization of the truth of a
new Revelation.
   He who would be a Baha'i needs to be a fearless seeker after
truth, but he should not confine his search to the material
plane.  His spiritual perceptive powers should be awake as well
as his physical.  He should use all the faculties God has given
him for the acquisition of truth, believing nothing without valid
and sufficient reason.  If his heart is pure, and his mind free
from prejudice, the earnest seeker will not fail to recognize the
Divine Glory in whatsoever temple it may become manifest.
Baha'u'llah further declares: --
     Man should know his own self, and know those things
   that lead to loftiness or to baseness, to shame or to honor,
   to wealth or to poverty. -- Tablet of Tarazat.
     The source of all learning is the knowledge of God,
   exalted be His Glory! and this cannot be attained save
   through the knowledge of His divine Manifestation. --
   Words of Wisdom.
   The Manifestation is the Perfect Man, the great Exemplar
for Mankind, the First Fruit of the tree of humanity.  Until we
know Him we do not know the latent possibilities within ourselves.
Christ tells us to consider the lilies how they grow, and
declares that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one
of these.  The lily grows from a very unattractive-looking bulb.
If we had never seen a lily in bloom, never gazed on its matchless
grace of foliage and flower, how could we know the reality
contained in that bulb?  We might dissect it most carefully and
examine it most minutely, but we should never discover the
dormant beauty which the gardener knows how to awaken.  So
until we have seen the Glory of God revealed in the Manifestation,
we can have no idea of the spiritual beauty latent in our
own nature and in that of our fellows.  By knowing and loving
the Manifestation of God and following His teachings we are
enabled, little by little, to realize the potential perfections
within ourselves; then, and not till then, does the meaning and
purpose of life and of the universe become apparent to us.
Love of God
   To know the Manifestation of God means also to love Him.
One is impossible without the other.  According to Baha'u'llah,
the purpose of man's creation is that he may know God and
adore Him.  He says in one of His Tablets: --
     The cause of the creation of all contingent beings has
   been love, as it is said in the well-known tradition, "I was
   a hidden treasure and I loved to be known.  Therefore I
   created the creation in order to be known."
   And in the Hidden Words He says: --
     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 the Wondrous Vision!
     I have breathed within thee a breath of My own Spirit,
   that thou mayest be My lover.  Why hast thou forsaken
   Me and sought a beloved other than Me?
   To be God's lover!  That is the sole object of life for the
Baha'i.  To have God as his closest companion and most intimate
friend, his Peerless Beloved, in Whose Presence is fullness
of joy!  And to love God means to love everything and everybody,
for all are of God.  The real Baha'i will be the perfect
lover.  He will love everyone with a pure heart, fervently.  He
will hate no one.  He will despise no one, for he will have
learned to see the Face of the Beloved in every face, and to find
His traces everywhere.  His love will know no limit of sect,
nation, class or race.  Baha'u'llah says: -- "Of old it hath been
revealed:  `Love of one's country is an element of the Faith of
God.'  The Tongue of Grandeur hath ... in the day of His
manifestation proclaimed:  `It is not his to boast who loveth
his country, but it is his who loveth the world.'" -- Tablet of the
World.  And again: -- "Blessed is he who prefers his brother
before himself; such an one is of the people of Baha." -- Words
of Paradise.
   Abdu'l-Baha tells us we must be "as one soul in many
bodies, for the more we love each other, the nearer we shall
be to God."  To an American audience He said: --
     Likewise the divine religions of the holy Manifestations
   of God are in reality one though in name and
   nomenclature they differ.  Man must be a lover of the light
   no matter from what day-spring it may appear.  He must
   be a lover of the rose no matter what soil it may be
   growing.  He must be a seeker of the truth no matter from
   what source it come.  Attachment to the lantern is not
   loving the light.  Attachment to the earth is not befitting
   but enjoyment of the rose which develops from the soil
   is worthy.  Devotion to the tree is profitless but partaking
   of the fruit is beneficial.  Luscious fruits no matter upon
   what tree they grow or where they may be found must be
   enjoyed.  The word of truth no matter which tongue
   utters it must be sanctioned.  Absolute verities no matter in
   what book they be recorded must be accepted.  If we
   harbor prejudice it will be the cause of deprivation and
   ignorance.  The strife between religions, nations and races
   arises from misunderstanding.  If we investigate the religions
   to discover the principles underlying their foundations
   we will find they agree, for the fundamental reality
   of them is one and not multiple.  By this means the religionists
   of the world will reach their point of unity and
   Again He says: --
     Every soul of the beloved ones must love the others
   and withhold not his possessions and life from them, and
   by all means he must endeavor to make the other joyous
   and happy.  But these others must also be disinterested
   and self-sacrificing.  Thus may this Sunrise flood the horizons,
   this Melody gladden and make happy all the people,
   this divine Remedy become the panacea for every disease,
   this Spirit of Truth become the cause of life for every
   Devotion to God implies also severance from everything
that is not of God, severance, that is, from all selfish and
worldly, and ever other-worldly desires.  The path of God may
lie through riches or poverty, health or sickness, through
palace or dungeon, rose garden or torture chamber.  Whichever
it be, the Baha'i will learn to accept his lot with "radiant
acquiescence."  Severance does not mean stolid indifference to
one's surroundings or passive resignation to evil conditions;
nor does it mean despising the good things which God has
created.  The true Baha'i will not be callous, nor apathetic nor
ascetic.  He will find abundant interest, abundant work and
abundant joy in the Path of God, but he will not deviate one
hair's breadth from that path in pursuit of pleasure nor hanker
after anything that God has denied him.  When a man becomes
a Baha'i, God's Will becomes his will, for to be at variance with
God is the one thing he cannot endure.  In the path of God no
errors can appall, no troubles dismay him.  The light of love
irradiates his darkest days, transmutes suffering into joy, and
martyrdom itself into an ecstasy of bliss.  Life is lifted to the
heroic plane and death becomes a glad adventure.  Baha'u'llah
     He that hath in his heart even less than a mustard seed
   of love for anything beside Me, verily he cannot enter My
   Kingdom. -- Suratu'l-Haykal
     O Son of Man!
     If thou lovest Me, turn away from thyself; and if thou
   seekest My pleasure, regard not thine own; that thou
   mayest die in Me and I may eternally live in thee.
     O My Servant!
     Free thyself from the fetters of this world, and loose
   thy soul from the prison of self.  Seize thy chance, for it
   will come to thee no more. -- The Hidden Words.
   Devotion to God involves implicit obedience to His revealed
Commands even when the reason for these Commands is not
understood.  The sailor implicitly obeys his captain's orders,
even when he does not know the reason for them, but his acceptance
of authority is not blind.  He knows full well that the
captain has served a thorough probation, and given ample
proofs of competence as a navigator.  Were it not so, he would
be foolish indeed to serve under him.  So the Baha'i must implicitly
obey the Captain of his Salvation, but he will be foolish
indeed if he has not first ascertained that this Captain has
given ample proofs of trustworthiness.  Having received such
proofs, however, to refuse obedience would be even greater
folly, for only by intelligent and open-eyed obedience to the
wise master can we reap the benefits of his wisdom, and acquire
this wisdom for ourselves.  Be the captain never so wise, if
none of the crew obey him how shall the ship reach its port
or the sailors learn the art of navigation?  Christ clearly pointed
out that obedience is the path of knowledge.  He said: -- "My
doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.  If any man will do
his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God,
or whether I speak of myself." -- St. John vii, 16-17.  So
Baha'u'llah says:  "Faith in God, and the knowledge of Him,
cannot be fully attained except ... by practicing all that He
hath commanded and all that is revealed in the Book from the
Pen of Glory." -- Tablet of Tajalliyat.
   Implicit obedience is not a popular virtue in these democratic
days, and indeed entire submission to the will of any
mere man would be disastrous.  But the Unity of Humanity can
be attained only by complete harmony of each and all with
the Divine will.  Unless that Will be clearly revealed, and men
abandon all other leaders and obey the Divine Messenger, then
conflict and strife will go on, and men will continue to oppose
each other, to devote a large part of their energy to frustrating
the efforts of their brother men, instead of working harmoniously
together for the Glory of God and the common good.
   Devotion to God implies a life of service to our fellow-
creatures.  We can be of service to God in no other way.  If we
turn our backs on our fellowmen, we are turning our backs
upon God.  Christ said, "Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the
least of these, ye did it not to Me."  So Baha'u'llah says: -- "O son
of man!  If thine eyes be turned towards mercy, forsake the things
that profit thee, and cleave unto that which will profit mankind.
And if thine eyes be turned towards justice, choose thou for thy
neighbor that which thou choosest for thyself." -- Words of
   Abdu'l-Baha says: --
     In the Baha'i Cause arts, sciences and all crafts are
   counted as worship.  The man who makes a piece of note-
   paper to the best of his ability, conscientiously, concentrating
   all his forces on perfecting it, is giving praise to
   God.  Briefly, all effort and exertion put forth by man
   from the fullness of his heart is worship, if it is prompted
   by the highest motives and the will to do service to humanity.
   This is worship:  to serve mankind and to minister
   to the needs of the people.  Service is prayer.  A physician
   ministering to the sick, gently, tenderly, free from prejudice
   and believing in the solidarity of the human race,
   is giving praise.
   The real Baha'i will not only believe in the teachings of
Baha'u'llah, but find in them the guide and inspiration of his
whole life and joyfully impart to others the knowledge that
is the wellspring of his own being.  Only thus will he receive in
full measure "the power and confirmation of the Spirit."  All
cannot be eloquent speakers or ready writers, but all can teach
by "living the life."  Baha'u'llah says: --
     The people of Baha must serve the Lord with wisdom,
   teach others by their lives, and manifest the light of God
   in their deeds.  The effect of deed is in truth more powerful
   than that of words. -- Words of Paradise
   The Baha'i will, however, on no account force his ideas on
those who do not wish to hear them.  He will attract people to
the Kingdom of God, not try to drive them into it.  He will be
like the good shepherd who leads his flock, and charms the
sheep by his music, rather than like the one who, from behind,
urges them on with dog and stick.
   Baha'u'llah says in the Hidden Words: --
     O Son of Dust!
     The wise are they that speak not unless they obtain a
   hearing, even as the cup-bearer, who proffereth not his
   cup till he findeth a seeker, and the lover who crieth not
   out from the depths of his heart until he gazeth upon the
   beauty of his beloved.  Wherefore sow the seeds of wisdom
   and knowledge in the pure soil of the heart, and keep
   them hidden, till the hyacinths of divine wisdom spring
   from the heart and not from mire and clay.
   Again He says, in the Tablet of Ishraqat: --
     O people of Baha!  Ye are the dawning-places of the
   Love and daysprings of the Favor of God.  Defile not your
   tongues with cursing or execrating anyone, and guard
   your eyes from that which is not worthy.  Show forth that
   which ye possess (i.e. Truth).  If it be accepted, the aim
   is attained.  If not, to rebuke or interfere with him who
   rejects is vain.  Leave him to himself, and advance towards
   God, the Protector, the Self-Subsistent.  Be not the cause
   of sorrow, how much less of sedition and strife!  It is
   hoped that ye may be nurtured in the shade of the tree of
   Divine Bounty and act as God has willed for you.  Ye are
   all leaves of one tree and drops of one sea.
Courtesy and Reverence
   Baha'u'llah says: --
     O people of God!  I exhort you to courtesy.  Courtesy
   is indeed ... the lord of all virtues.  Blessed is he who is
   adorned with the mantle of Uprightness and illumined
   with the light of Courtesy.  He who is endowed with Courtesy
   (or Reverence) is endowed with a great station.  It
   is hoped that this Wronged One, and all, will attain to it,
   hold unto it and observe it.  This is the Irrefutable Command
   which hath flowed from the pen of the Greatest
   Name. -- Tablet of the World.
   Again and again He repeats: -- "Let all the nations of the
world consort with each other with joy and fragrance.  Consort
ye, O people, with the people of all religions with joy and
   Abdu'l-Baha says in a letter to the Baha'is of America: --
     Beware! Beware! Lest ye offend any heart!
     Beware! Beware! Lest ye hurt any soul!
     Beware!  Beware!  Lest ye deal unkindly toward any
     Beware!  Beware!  Lest ye be the cause of hopelessness
          to any creature!
     Should one become the cause of grief to any one heart,
   or of despondency to any one soul, it were better to hide
   oneself in the lowest depths of the earth than to walk upon
   the earth.
   He teaches that as the flower is hidden in the bud, so a spirit
from God dwells in the heart of every man, no matter how hard
and unlovely his exterior.  The true Baha'i will treat every man,
therefore, as the gardener tends a rare and beautiful plant.  He
knows that no impatient interference on his part can open the
bud into a blossom; only God's sunshine can do that, therefore
his aim is to bring that life-giving sunshine into all
darkened hearts and homes.
   Again, Abdu'l-Baha says: --
     Among the teachings of Baha'u'llah is one requiring
   man, under all conditions and circumstances, to be forgiving,
   to love his enemy and to consider an ill-wisher as a
   well-wisher.  Not that one should consider another as an
   enemy and then put up with him ... and be forbearing
   toward him.  This is hypocrisy and not real love.  Nay,
   rather, you must see your enemies as friends, your ill-wishers
   as well-wishers and treat them accordingly.  Your
   love and kindness must be real ... not merely forbearance,
   for forbearance, if not of the heart, is hypocrisy.
   Such counsel appears unintelligible and self-contradictory
until we realize that while the outer carnal man may be a
hater and ill-wisher, there is in everyone an inner, spiritual
nature which is the real man, from whom only love and goodwill
can proceed.   It is to this real, inner man in each of our
neighbors that we must direct our thought and love.  When he
awakens into activity, the outer man will be transformed and
The Sin-covering Eye
   On no subject are the Baha'i teaching more imperative and
uncompromising than on the requirement to abstain from
faultfinding.  Christ spoke very strongly on the same subject,
but it has now become usual to regard the Sermon on the
Mount as embodying "Counsels of Perfection" which the
ordinary Christian cannot be expected to live up to.  Both
Baha'u'llah and Abdu'l-Baha are at great pains to make it
clear that on this subject They mean all They say.  We read in
the Hidden Words: --
     O Son of Man!
     Breather not the sins of others so long as thou art thyself
   a sinner.  Shouldst thou transgress this command, accursed
   wouldst thou be, and to this I bear witness.
     O Son of Being!
     Ascribe not to any soul that which thou wouldst not
   have ascribed to thee, and say not that which thou doest
   not.  This is My command unto thee, do thou observe it.
Abdu'l-Baha tells us: --
     To be silent concerning the faults of others, to pray for
   them, and to help them, through kindness, to correct
   their faults.
     To look always at the good and not at the bad.  If a
   man has ten good qualities and one bad one, to look at the
   ten and forget the one; and if a man has ten bad qualities
   and one good one, to look at the one and forget the ten.
     Never to allow ourselves to speak one unkind word
   about another, even though that other be our enemy.
   To an American friend He writes: --
     The worst human quality and the most great sin is
   backbiting, more especially when it emanates from the
   tongues of the believers of God.  If some means were
   devised so that the doors of backbiting could be shut eternally,
   and each one of the believers of God unsealed his
   lips in praise of others, then the teachings of His Holiness
   Baha'u'llah would be spread, the hearts illumined, the
   spirits glorified, and the human world would attain to
   everlasting felicity.
   While we are commanded to overlook the faults of others,
and see their virtues, we are commanded, on the other hand,
to find out our own faults and take no account of our virtues.
Baha'u'llah says in the Hidden Words: --
     O Son of Being!
     How couldst thou forge thine own faults and busy
   thyself with the faults of others?  Whoso doeth this is
   accursed of Me.
     O Emigrants!
     The tongue I have designed for the mention of Me,
   defile it not with detraction.  If the fire of self overcome
   you, remember your own faults and not the faults of My
   creatures, inasmuch as every one of you knoweth his own
   self better than he knoweth others.
   Abdu'l-Baha says: --
     Let your life be an emanation of the Kingdom of
   Christ.  He came not to be ministered unto, but to minister.
   ... In the religion of Baha'u'llah all are servants and
   maidservants, brothers and sisters.  As soon as one feels
   a little better than, a little superior to, the rest, he is in
   a dangerous position, and unless he casts away the seed
   of such an evil thought, he is not a fit instrument for the
   service of the Kingdom.
     Dissatisfaction with oneself is a sign of progress.  The
   soul who is satisfied with himself is the manifestation of
   Satan, and the one who is not contented with himself is
   the manifestation of the Merciful.  If a person has a
   thousand good qualities he must not look at them; nay,
   rather he must strive to find out his own defects and imperfections.
   ...However much a man may progress,
   yet he is imperfect, because there is always a point ahead
   of him.  No sooner does he look up towards that point
   than he become dissatisfied with his own condition, and
   aspires to attain to that.  Praising one's own self is the
   sign of selfishness. -- Diary of Mirza Ahmad Sohrab,
   Although we are commanded to recognize and sincerely repent
of our sins, the practice of confession to priests and others is
definitely forbidden.  Baha'u'llah says in the Glad Tidings: --
     The sinner, when his heart is free from all save God,
   must seek forgiveness from God alone.  Confession before
   the servants (i.e. before men) is not permissible, for it
   is not the means or the cause of Divine Forgiveness.  Such
   confession before the creatures leads to one's humiliation
   and abasement, and God -- exalted by His Glory -- does
   not wish for the humiliation of His servants.  Verily He is
   Compassionate and Beneficent.  The sinner must, between
   himself and God, beg for mercy from the Sea of Mercy
   and implore pardon from the Heaven of Forgiveness.
Truthfulness and Honesty
   Baha'u'llah says in the Tablet of Tarazat: --
     Verily, Honesty is the door of tranquillity to all in the
   world, and the sign of glory from the presence of the
   Merciful One.  Whosoever attains thereto has attained to
   treasures of wealth and affluence.  Honesty is the greatest
   door to the security and tranquillity of mankind.  The
   stability of every affair always depends on it, and the
   worlds of honor, glory and affluence are illumined by its
   light. ...
     O people of Baha!  Honesty is the best garment for
   your temples and the most splendid crown for your heads.
   Adhere thereto by the Command of the Omnipotent
   Again He says: -- "The principle of faith is to lessen words
and to increase deeds.  He who words exceed his acts, know
verily, that his nonbeing is better than his being, his death
better than his life."
   Abdu'l-Baha says: --
     Truthfulness is the foundation of all the virtues of
   mankind.  Without truthfulness, progress and success in
   all of the worlds are impossible for a soul.  When this holy
   attribute is established in man, all the other divine
   qualities will also become realized.
     Let the light of truth and honesty shine from your
   faces so that all may know that your word, in business or
   pleasure, is a word to trust and be sure of.  Forget self and
   work for the whole. (Message to the London Baha'is,
   October 1911).
   Baha'u'llah constantly urges men to realize and give full
expression to the perfections latent within them--the true
inner self as distinguished from the limited outer self, which
at best is but the temple, and too often is the prison of the real
man.  In the Hidden Words He says:--
     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 doubt
     O Son of Spirit!
     I created thee rich, why dost thou bring thyself down
   to poverty?  Noble I made thee, wherewith dost thou abase
   thyself?  Out of the essence of knowledge I gave thee
   being, why seekest thou enlightenment from anyone
   beside Me?  Out of the clay of love I molded thee, how
   dost thou busy thyself with another?  Turn thy sight unto
   thyself, that thou mayest find Me standing within thee,
   mighty, powerful and self-subsisting.
     O My Servant!
     Thou art even as a finely tempered sword concealed in
   the darkness of its sheath and its value hidden from the
   artificer's knowledge.  Wherefore come forth from the
   sheath of self and desire that thy worth may be made
   resplendent and manifest unto all the world.
     O My Friend!
     Thou art the day-star of the heavens of My holiness,
   let not the defilement of the world eclipse thy splendor.
   Rend asunder the veil of heedlessness, that from behind
   the clouds thou mayest emerge resplendent and array all
   things with the apparel of life.
   The life to which Baha'u'llah calls His followers is surely
one of such nobility that in all the vast range of human possibility
there is nothing more lofty or beautiful to which man
could aspire.  Realization of the spiritual self in ourselves
means realization of the sublime truth that we are from God
and to Him shall we return.  This return to God is the glorious
goal of the Baha'i; but to attain this goal the only path is that
of obedience to His chosen Messengers, and especially to His
Messenger for the time in which we live, Baha'u'llah, the
prophet of the New Era.
   Prayer is a ladder by which everyone may ascend to Heaven.
Conversation with God
   "Prayer," says Abdu'l-Baha, "is conversation with God."
In order that God may make known His Mind and Will to men,
He must speak to them in a language which they can understand,
and this He does by the mouths of His Holy Prophets.
While these Prophets are alive in the body They speak with
men face to face and convey to them the Message of God,
and after Their death Their message continues to reach men's
minds through Their recorded sayings and writings.  But this
is not the only way in which God can commune with and inspire those
whose hearts are seeking after truth, wherever they are, and
whatever their native race or tongue.  By this language the
Manifestation continues to hold converse with the faithful
after His departure from the material world.  Christ continued
to converse with and inspire His disciples after His crucifixion.
In fact He influenced them more powerfully than before; and
with other Prophets it has been the same.  Abdu'l-Baha speaks
much of this spiritual language.  He says, for instance: --
     We should speak in the language of heaven -- in the
   language of the spirit -- for there is a language of the spirit
   and heart.  It is as different from our language as our own
   language is different from that of the animals, who express
   themselves only by cries and sounds.
     It is the language of the spirit which speaks to God.
   When, in prayer, we are freed from all outward things and
   turn to God, then it is as if in our hearts we hear the voice
   of God.  Without words we speak, we communicate, we
   converse with God and hear the answer. ... All of us,
   when we attain to a truly spiritual condition, can hear the
   Voice of God.  (from a talk reported by Miss Ethel J.
   Baha'u'llah declares that the higher spiritual truths can be
communicated only by means of this spiritual language.  The
spoken or written word is quite inadequate.  In a little book
called The Seven Valleys, in which He describes the journey
of travelers from the earthly dwelling to the Divine Home, He
says, in speaking of the more advanced stages of the journey: --
     The tongue is unable to give an account of these, and
   utterance falls exceedingly short.  The pen is useless in this
   court, and the ink gives no result but blackness. ...
   Heart alone can communicate to heart the state of the
   knower; this is not the work of a messenger, nor can it
   be contained in letters.
The Devotional Attitude
   In order that we may attain the spiritual condition in which
conversation with God becomes possible, Abdu'l-Baha
says: --
     We must strive to attain to that condition by being
   separated from all things and from the people of the world
   and by turning to God alone.  It will take some effort on
   the part of man to attain to that condition, but he must
   work for it, strive for it.  We can attain to it by thinking
   and caring less for material things and more for the
   spiritual.  The further we go from the one, the nearer we
   are to the other.  The choice is ours.
     Our spiritual perception, our inward sight must be
   opened, so that we can see the signs and traces of God's
   spirit in everything.  Everything can reflect to us the light
   of the Spirit.  (from a talk reported by Miss Ethel J.
   Baha'u'llah has written: -- "That seeker ... at the dawn
of every day ... should commune with God, and, with all
his soul, persevere in the quest of his Beloved.  He should consume
every wayward thought from the flame of His loving
mention. ..." -- Gleaning from the Writings of Baha'u'llah,
p. 265.
   In the same way, Abdu'l-Baha declares: --
     When man allows the spirit, through his soul, to enlighten
   his understanding, then does he contain all creation.
   ... But on the other hand, when man does not
   open his mind and heart to the blessing of the spirit,
   but turns his soul towards the material side, towards the
   bodily part of his nature, then his he fallen from his high
   place and he becomes inferior to the inhabitants of the
   lower animal kingdom.
   Again, Baha'u'llah writes: --
     Deliver your souls, O people, from the bondage of self,
   and purify them from all attachment to anything besides
   Me.  Remembrance of Me cleanseth all things from defilement,
   could ye but perceive it. ...
     Intone, O My servant, the verses of God that have been
   received by thee, ... that the sweetness of thy melody
   may kindle thine own soul, and attract the hearts of all
   men.  Whoso reciteth, in the privacy of his chamber, the
   verses revealed by God, the scattering angels of the Almighty
   shall scatter abroad the fragrance of the words uttered
   by his mouth. ... -- Gleanings from the Writings of
   Baha'u'llah, pp. 294-295.
Necessity for a Mediator
   According to Abdu'l-Baha:--
     A mediator is necessary between man and the Creator --
   one who receives the full light of the Divine Splendor
   and radiates it over the human world, as the earth's
   atmosphere receives and diffuses the warmth of the
   sun's rays.
     If we wish to pray, we must have some object on which
   to concentrate.  If we turn to God, we must direct our
   hearts to a certain center.  If man worships God otherwise
   than through His Manifestation, he must first form a conception
   of God, and that conception is created by his own
   mind.  As the finite cannot comprehend the Infinite, so
    God is not to be comprehended in this fashion.  That
   which man conceives with his own mind he comprehends.
   That which he can comprehend is not God.  That conception
   of God which a man forms for himself is but a
   phantasm, an image, an imagination, an illusion.  There
   is no connection between such a conception and the
   Supreme Being.
     If a man wishes to know God, he must find Him in the
   perfect mirror, Christ or Baha'u'llah.  In either of these
   mirrors he will see reflected the Sun of Divinity.
     As we know the physical sun by its splendor, by its
   light and heat, so we know God, the Spiritual Sun, when
   He shines forth from the temple of Manifestation, by His
   attributes of perfection, by the beauty of His qualities and
   by the splendor of His light.  (from a talk to Mr. Percy
   Woodcock, at Akka, 1909).
   Again He says:
     Unless the Holy Spirit become intermediary, one cannot
   attain directly to the bounties of God.  Do not overlook
   the obvious truth, for it is self-evident that a child
   cannot be instructed without a teacher, and knowledge is
   one of the bounties of God.  The soil is not covered with
   grass and vegetation without the rain of the cloud; therefore
   the cloud is the intermediary between the divine
   bounties and the soil. ... The light hath a center and if
   one desire to seek it otherwise than from the center, one
   can never attain to it. ... Turn thine attention to the
   days of Christ; some people imagine that without the
   Messianic outpourings it was possible to attain to truth,
   but this very imagination became the cause of the
   A man who tries to worship God without turning to His
Manifestation is like a man in a dungeon trying through his
imagination to revel in the glories of the sunshine.
Prayer Indispensable and Obligatory
   The use of prayer is enjoined upon Baha'is in no uncertain
terms.  Baha'u'llah says in the Kitab-i-Aqdas: --
     Chant (or recite) the Words of God every morning
   and evening.  The one who neglects this has not been faithful
   to the Covenant of God and His agreement, and he
   who turns away from it today is of those who have turned
   away from God.  Fear God, O my people!  Let not too
   much reading (of the Sacred Word) and actions by day or
   night make you proud.  To chant but one verse with joy
   and gladness is better for you than reading all the Revelations
   of the Omnipotent God with carelessness.  Chant the
   Tablets of God in such measure that ye be not overtaken
   with fatigue and depression.  Burden not the soul so as to
   cause exhaustion and langour, but rather refresh it that
   thus it may soar on the wings of Revelation to the Dawning-place
   of proofs.  This brings you nearer to God, were
   ye of those who understand. -- Kitab-i-Aqdas
   Abdu'l-Baha says to a correspondents: -- "O thou spiritual
friend!  Know thou that prayer is indispensable and obligatory,
and man under no pretext whatever is excused therefrom unless
he be mentally unsound or an insurmountable obstacle prevent
   Another correspondent asked:  "Why pray?  What is the
wisdom thereof, for God has established everything and executes
all affairs after the best order -- therefore, what is the
wisdom in beseeching and supplicating and in stating one's
wants and seeking help?"
   Abdu'l-Baha replied: --
     Know thou, verily it is becoming in a weak one to
   supplicate to the Strong One, and it behooveth a seeker of
   bounty to beseech the Glorious Bountiful One.  When one
   supplicates to his Lord, turns to Him and seeks bounty
   from His Ocean, this supplication brings light to his heart,
   illumination to his sight, life to his soul and exaltation to
   his being.
     During thy supplications to God and thy reciting, "Thy
   Name is my healing," consider how thine heart is cheered,
   thy soul delighted by the spirit of the love of God, and thy
   mind attracted to the Kingdom of God!  By these attractions
   one's ability and capacity increase.  When the vessel
   is enlarged the water increases, and when the thirst grows
   the bounty of the cloud becomes agreeable to the taste of
   man.  This is the mystery of supplication and the wisdom
   of stating one's wants.  (from a tablet to an American
   believer, translated by Ali Kuli Khan, October
   Baha'u'llah has revealed three daily obligatory prayers.  The
believer is free to choose any one of these three prayers, but
is under the obligation of reciting one of them, and in the
manner Baha'u'llah has prescribed.
Congregational Prayer
   The prayers which Baha'u'llah has ordained as a daily obligation
for Baha'is are to be said privately.  Only in the case of
the Prayer for the Dead has Baha'u'llah commanded congregational
prayer, and the only requirement is that the believer who
reads it aloud, and all others present, should stand.  This
differs from the Islamic practice of congregational prayer in
which the believers stand in rows behind an imam, who leads
the prayer, which is prohibited in the Baha'i Faith.
   These ordinances, which are in accordance with Baha'u'llah's
abolition of professional clergy, do not mean that He
attached no value to meetings for worship.  Regarding the value
of gathering for prayer, Abdu'l-Baha spoke as follows: --
     Man may say:  "I can pray to God whenever I wish,
   when the feelings of my heart are drawn to God; when I
   am in the wilderness, when I am in the city, or wherever
   I may be.  Why should I go where others are gathered
   upon a special day, at a certain hour, to unite my prayers
   with theirs, when I may not be in a frame of mind for
     To think in this way is useless imagination, for where
   many are gathered together their force is greater.  Separate
   soldier fighting alone and individually have not the
   force of a united army.  If all the soldier in this spiritual
   war gather together, then their united spiritual feelings
   help each other, and their prayers become acceptable.
   (from notes taken by Miss Ethel J. Rosenberg).
Prayer the Language of Love
   To someone who asked whether prayer was necessary, since
presumably God knows the wishes of all hearts, Abdu'l-Baha
replied: --
     If one friend loves another, is it not natural that he
   should wish to say so?  Though he knows that that friend is
   aware of his love, does he still not wish to tell him of it? ...
   It is true that God knows the wishes of all hearts; but the
   impulse to pray is a natural one, springing from man's love
   to God.
     ... Prayer need not be in words, but rather in thought
   and action.  But if this love and this desire are lacking, it is
   useless to try to force them.  Words without love mean nothing.
   If a person talks to you as an unpleasant duty, finding
   neither love nor enjoyment in the meeting, do you wish to
   converse with him? (article in Fortnightly Review, Jul.-Dec.
   1911, p. 784 by Miss E. S. Stevens).
   In another talk He said: --
     In the highest prayer, men pray only for the love of
   God, not because they fear Him or hell, or hope for
   bounty or heaven. ... When a man falls in love with a
   human being, it is impossible for him to keep from mentioning
   the name of his beloved.  How much more difficult
   is it to keep from mentioning the Name of God when one
   has come to love Him. ... The spiritual man finds no
   delight in anything save in commemoration of God. (from
   notes of Miss Alma Robertson and other pilgrims,
   November and December 1900).
Deliverance from Calamities
   According to the teaching of the Prophets, disease and all
other forms of calamity are due to disobedience to the Divine
Commands.  Even disasters due to floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes
are attributed by Abdu'l-Baha indirectly to this cause.
   The suffering that follows error is not vindictive, however,
but educative and remedial.  It is God's Voice proclaiming to
man that he has strayed from the right path.  If the suffering is
terrible, it is only because the danger of wrongdoing is more
terrible, for "the wages of sin is death."
   Just as calamity is due to disobedience, so deliverance
from calamity can be obtained only be obedience.  There is no
chance or uncertainty about the matter.  Turning from God
inevitably brings disaster, and turning to God as inevitably
brings blessing.
   As the whole of humanity is one organism, however, the
welfare of each individual depends not only on his own behavior,
but on that of his neighbors.  If one does wrong, all
suffer in greater or less degree; while if one does well, all benefit.
Each has to bear his neighbor's burdens, to some extent,
and the best of mankind are those who bear the biggest burdens.
The saints have always suffered abundantly; the Prophets
have suffered superlatively.  Baha'u'llah says in the Book of
Iqan:--"You must undoubtedly have been informed of the
tribulations, the poverty, the ills, and the degradation that
have befallen every Prophet of God and His companions.  You
must have heard how the heads of their followers were sent
as presents unto different cities. ..." -- Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 73.
   This is not because the saints and Prophets have merited
punishment above other men.  Nay, they often suffer for the
sins of others, and choose to suffer, for the sake of others.  Their
concern is for the world's welfare, not for their own.  The
prayer of the true lover of humanity is not that he, as an individual,
may escape poverty, ill-health or disaster, but that
mankind may be saved from ignorance and error and the ills
that inevitably flow from them.  If he wishes health or wealth
for himself, it is in order that he may serve the Kingdom, and
if physical health and wealth are denied him, he accepts his
lot with "radiant acquiescence," well knowing that there is a
right wisdom in whatever befalls him in the Path of God.
   Abdu'l-Baha says: --
     Grief and sorrow do not come to us by chance; they
   are sent by the Divine Mercy for our perfecting.  When
   grief and sorrow come, then will a man remember his
   Father Who is in Heaven, Who is able to deliver him from
   his humiliations.  The more a man is chastened, the greater
   is the harvest of spiritual virtues shown forth by him.
   At first sight it may seem very unjust that the innocent
should suffer for the guilty, but Abdu'l-Baha assures us that
the injustice is only apparent and that, in the long run, perfect
justice prevails.  He writes: --
     As to the subject of babes and children and weak ones
   who are afflicted by the hands of the oppressors ... for
   those souls there is a recompense in another world ...
   that suffering is the greatest mercy of God.  Verily that
   mercy of the Lord is far better than all the comfort of
   this world and the growth and development appertaining
   to this place of mortality.
Prayer and Natural Law
   Many find a difficulty in believing in the efficacy of prayer
because they think that answers to prayer would involve arbitrary
interference with the laws of nature.  An analogy may
help to remove this difficulty.  If a magnet be held over some
iron filings the latter will fly upwards and cling to it, but this
involves no interference with the law of gravitation.  The force
of gravity continues to act on the filings just as before.  What
has happened is that a superior force has been brought into
play -- another force whose action is just as regular and calculable
as that of gravity.  The Baha'i view is that prayer brings
into action higher forces, as yet comparatively little known;
but there seems no reason to believe that these forces are
more arbitrary in their action than the physical forces.  The
difference is that they have not yet been fully studied and experimentally
investigated, and their action appears mysterious
and incalculable because of our ignorance.
   Another difficulty which some find perplexing is that prayer
seems too feeble a force to produce the great results often
claimed to it.  Analogy may serve to clear up this difficulty
also.  A small force, when applied to the sluice gate of a
reservoir, may release and regulate an enormous flow of water-power,
or, when applied to the steering gear of an ocean liner,
may control the course of the huge vessel.  In the Baha'i view,
the power that brings about answers to prayer is the inexhaustible
Power of God.  The part of the suppliant is only to exert
the feeble force necessary to release the flow or determine the
course of the Divine Bounty, which is ever ready to serve those
who have learned how to draw upon it.
Baha'i Prayers
   Baha'u'llah and Abdu'l-Baha have revealed innumerable
prayers for the use of Their followers at various times and for
various purposes.  The greatness of conception and depth of
spirituality revealed in these utterances must impress every
thoughtful student, but only by making their use a regular and
important part of one's daily life can their significance be fully
appreciated and their power for good realized.  Unfortunately,
considerations of space prevent our giving more than a very
few short specimens of these prayers.  For further examples the
reader must be referred to other works.
     O my Lord!  Make Thy beauty to be my food, and Thy
   presence my drink, and Thy pleasure my hope, and praise
   of Thee my action, and remembrance of Thee my companion,
   and the power of Thy sovereignty my succorer,
   and Thy habitation my home, and my dwelling-place the
   seat Thou hast sanctified from the limitations imposed
   upon them who are shut out as by a veil from Thee.
     Thou art, verily, the Almighty, the All-Glorious, the
   Most Powerful. -- BAHA'U'LLAH.
     I bear witness, O my God, that Thou hast created Me to
   know Thee and to worship Thee.  I testify, at this moment,
   to my powerlessness and to Thy might, to my poverty and
   to Thy wealth.
     There is none other God but Thee, the Help in Peril, the
   Self-Subsisting. -- BAHA'U'LLAH.
     O my God!  O my God!  United the hearts of Thy servants
   and reveal to them Thy great purpose.  May they
   follow Thy commandments and abide in Thy law.  Help
   them, O God, in their endeavor, and grant them strength
   to serve Thee.  O God! leave them not to themselves, but
   guide their steps by the light of knowledge, and cheer
   their hearts by Thy love.  Verily, Thou art their Helper
   and their Lord. -- BAHA'U'LLAH.
     O Thou kind Lord!  Thou has created all humanity
   from the same stock.  Thou hast decreed that all shall belong
   to the same household.  In Thy Holy Presence they
   are all Thy servants, and all mankind are sheltered beneath
   Thy Tabernacle; all have gathered together at Thy
   Table of Bounty; all are illumined through the light of Thy
     O God!  Thou art kind to all, Thou hast provided for
   all, dost shelter all, conferrest life upon all, Thou hast endowed
   each and all with talents and faculties, and all are
   submerged in the Ocean of Thy Mercy.
     O Thou kind Lord!  United all.  Let the religions agree
   and make the nations one, so that they may see each other
   as one family and the whole earth as one home.  May they
   all live together in perfect harmony.
     O God!  Raise aloft the banner of the oneness of
     O God!  Establish the Most Great Peace.
     Cement Thou, O God, the hearts together.
     O Thou kind Father, O God!  Gladden our hearts
   through the fragrance of Thy love.  Brighten our eyes
   through the Light of Thy Guidance.  Delight our ears with
   the melody of Thy Word, and shelter us all in the Stronghold
   of Thy Providence.
     Thou art the Might and Powerful.  Thou art the Forgiving
   and Thou art the One Who overlookest the shortcomings
   of all mankind! -- ABDU'L-BAHA.
     O Thou Almighty!  I am a sinner, but Thou art the
   Forgiver!  I am full of shortcomings, but Thou art the
   Compassionate!  I am in darkness of error, but Thou
   art the Light of Pardon!
     Therefore, O Thou Benevolent God, forgive my sins,
   grant Thy Bestowals, overlook my faults, provide for me a
   shelter, immerse me in the Fountain of Thy Patience and
   heal me of all sickness and disease.
     Purify and sanctify me.  Give me a portion from the
   outpouring of holiness, so that sorrow and sadness may
   vanish, joy and happiness descend, despondency and
   hopelessness be changed into cheerfulness and trustfulness,
   and courage take the place of fear.
     Verily Thou art the Forgiver, the Compassionate, and
   Thou art the Generous, the Beloved! -- ABDU'L-BAHA.
     O compassionate God!  Thanks be to Thee for Thou
   hast awakened and made me conscious.  Thou hast given
   me a seeing eye and favored me with a hearing ear; hast
   led me to Thy Kingdom and guided me to Thy Path.
   Thou hast shown me the right way and caused me to enter
   the Ark of Deliverance.  O God!  Keep me steadfast and
   make me firm and staunch.  Protect me from violent tests
   and preserve and shelter me in the strongly fortified fortress
   of Thy Covenant and Testament.  Thou art the
   Powerful!  Thou art the Seeing!  Thou art the Hearing!  O
   Thou the Compassionate God!  Bestow upon me a heart
   which, like unto glass, may be illumined with the light of
   Thy love, and confer upon me a thought which may
   change this world into a rose-garden through the spiritual
   bounty.  Thou art the Compassionate, the Merciful!  Thou
   art the Great Beneficent God! -- ABDU'L-BAHA.
   Baha'i prayer is not, however, confined to the use of prescribed
forms, important as those are.  Baha'u'llah teaches that
one's whole life should be a prayer, that work done in the right
spirit is worship, that every thought, word and deed devoted to
the Glory of God and the good of one's fellows is prayer, in the
truest sense of the world.+F1
1.    On the subject of Intercessory Prayer, see Chapter 11.
Health and Healing/7
   Turning the face towards God brings healing to the body,
the mind and the soul. -- ABDU'L-BAHA.
Body and Soul
   According to the Baha'i teaching the human body serves a
temporary purpose in the development of the soul, and, when
that purpose has been served, is laid aside; just as the eggshell
serves a temporary purpose in the development of the chick,
and, when that purpose has been served, is broken and discarded.
Abdu'l-Baha says that the physical body is incapable
of immortality, for it is a composite thing, built up of atoms
and molecules, and, like all things that are composed, must, in
time, become decomposed.
   The body should be the servant of the soul, never its master,
but it should be a willing, obedient and efficient servant, and
should be treated with the consideration which a good servant
deserves.  If it is not properly treated, disease and disaster result,
with injurious consequences to master as well as servant.
Oneness of All Life
   The essential oneness of all the myriad forms and grades of
life is one of the fundamental teachings of Baha'u'llah.  Our
physical health is so linked up with our mental, moral and
spiritual health, and also with the individual and social health
of our fellowmen, nay, even with the life of the animals and
plants, that each of these is affected by the others to a far
greater extent than is usually realized.
   There is no command of the Prophet, therefore, to whatever
department of life it may primarily refer, which does not concern
bodily health.  Certain of the teachings, however, have a
more direct bearing on physical health than others, and these
we may now proceed to examine.
Simple Life
   Abdu'l-Baha says: --
     Economy is the foundation of human prosperity.  The
   spendthrift is always in trouble.  Prodigality on the part of
   any person is an unpardonable sin.  We must never live on
   others like a parasitic plant.  Every person must have a
   profession, whether it be literary or manual, and must live
   a clean, manly, honest life, an example of purity to be
   imitated by others.  It is more kingly to be satisfied with a
   crust of stale bread than to enjoy a sumptuous dinner of
   many courses, the money for which comes out of the
   pockets of others.  The mind of a contented person is always
   peaceful and his heart at rest. -- Baha'i Scriptures,
   p. 453.
   Animal food is not forbidden, but Abdu'l-Baha says: --
"Fruits and grains [will be the foods of the future].  The time
will come when meat will no longer be eaten.  Medical science
is only in its infancy, yet it has shown that our natural diet is
that which grows out of the ground." -- Ten Days in the Light of
Akka, by Julie M. Grundy.
Alcohol and Narcotics
   The use of narcotics and intoxicants of any kind, except as
remedies in case of illness, is strictly forbidden by Baha'u'llah.
   The Baha'i teaching is based on moderation, not as asceticism.
Enjoyment of the good and beautiful things of life, both
material and spiritual, is not only encouraged but enjoined.
Baha'u'llah says:  "Deprive not yourselves of that which has
been created for you."  Again He says:  "It is incumbent upon
you that exultation and glad tidings be manifest in your faces."
   Abdu'l-Baha says: --
     All that has been created is for man, who is at the apex
   of creation, and he must be thankful for the divine bestowals.
   All material things are for us, so that through our
   gratitude we may learn to understand life as a divine benefit.
   If we are disgusted with life we are ingrates, for our
   material and spiritual existence are the outward evidences
   of the divine mercy.  Therefore we must be happy and
   spend our time in praises, appreciating all things.
   Asked whether the Baha'i prohibition of gambling applies
   to game of every description, Abdu'l-Baha replied: --
     No, some games are innocent, and if pursued for pastime
   there is no harm.  But there is danger that pastime
   may degenerate into waste of time.  Waste of time is not acceptable
   in the Cause of God.  But recreation which may
   improve the bodily powers, as exercise, is desirable. -- A
   Heavenly Vista, p. 9.
   Baha'u'llah says, in the Book of Aqdas: --
     Be the essence of cleanliness among mankind ... under
   all circumstances conform yourselves to refined manners ...
   let no trace of uncleanliness appear on your
   clothes. ... Immerse yourselves in pure water; a water
   which hath been used is not allowable. ... Verily We
   have desired to see in you the manifestations of Paradise
   on earth, so that there may be diffused from you that
   whereat the hearts of the favored ones shall
   rejoice. -- Kitab-i-Aqdas.
   Mirza Abu'l-Fadl, in his book, Baha'i Proofs (p. 89),
points out the extreme importance of these commands, more
especially in some parts of the East, where water of the foulest
description is often used for household purposes, for bathing
and even for drinking, and horribly insanitary conditions
abound, causing a vast amount of preventable disease and misery.
These conditions, often supposed to be sanctioned by the
prevailing religion, can be changed, among Orientals, only by
the commandment of one who is believed to have Divine authority.
In many parts of the Western Hemisphere, too, a wonderful
transformation would result were cleanliness accepted
not only as next to godliness, but as an essential part of
Effect of Obedience to Prophetic Commands
   The bearing on health of these commands relating to the
simple life, hygiene, abstinence from alcohol and opium, etcetera,
is too obvious to call for much comment, although
their vital importance is apt to be greatly underestimated.
Were they to be generally observed, most of the infectious diseases
and a good many others would soon vanish from among
men.  The amount of illness caused by neglect of simple hygienic
precautions and by indulgence in alcohol and opium is
prodigious.  Moreover, obedience to these commands would
not only affect health, but would have an enormous effect for
good on character and conduct.  Alcohol and opium affect a
man's conscience long before they affect his gait or cause obvious
bodily disease, so that the moral spiritual gain from
abstinence would be even greater than the physical.  With regard
to cleanliness, Abdu'l-Baha says: -- "External cleanliness,
although it is but a physical thing, has great influence
upon spirituality. ... The fact of having a pure and spotless
body exercises an influence upon the spirit of man."
   Were the commands of the Prophets concerning chastity in
sexual relations generally observed, another fertile cause of
disease would be eliminated.  The loathsome venereal diseases,
which wreck the health of so many thousands today, innocent
as well as guilty, babes as well as parents, would very soon be
entirely a thing of the past.
   Were the commands of the Prophets concerning justice, mutual
aid, loving one's neighbor as oneself, carried out, how
could overcrowding, sweated labor and sordid poverty on the
one hand, together with self-indulgence, idleness and sordid
luxury on the other, continue to work mental, moral and
physical ruin?
   Simple obedience to the hygienic and moral commands of
Moses, Buddha, Christ, Muhammad or Baha'u'llah would do
more in the way of preventing disease than all the doctors and
all the public health regulations in the world have been able to
accomplish.  In fact, it seems certain that were such obedience
general, good health would also become general.  Instead of
lives being blighted by disease of cut off in infancy, youth or
prime, as so frequently happens now, men would live to a ripe
old age, like sound fruits that mature and mellow ere they drop
from the bough.
The Prophet as Physician
   We live in a world, however, where from time immemorial
obedience to the commands of the Prophets has been the exception
rather than the rule; where love of self has been a more
prevalent motive than love of God; where limited and party
interests have taken precedence of the interests of humanity as
a whole; where material possessions and sensual pleasures have
been preferred to the social and spiritual welfare of mankind.
Hence have arisen fierce competition and conflict, oppression
and tyranny, extremes of wealth and poverty -- all those conditions
which breed disease, mental and physical.  As a consequence,
the whole tree of humanity is sick, and every leaf on
the tree shares in the general sickness.  Even the purest and
holiest have to suffer for the sins of others.  Healing is needed
-- healing of humanity as a whole, of nations and of individuals.
So Baha'u'llah, like His inspired predecessors, not only
shows how health is to be maintained, but also how it may be
recovered when lost.  He comes as the Great Physician, the
Healer of the world's sicknesses, both of body and of mind.
Healing by Material Means
   In the Western world of today there is evident a remarkable
revival of belief in the efficacy of healing by mental and spiritual
means.  Indeed many, in their revolt against the materialistic
ideals about disease and its treatment which prevailed in the
nineteenth century, have gone to the opposite extreme of denying
that material remedies or hygienic methods have any value
whatsoever.  Baha'u'llah recognizes the value of both material
and spiritual remedies.  He teaches that the science and art of
healing must be developed, encouraged and perfected, so that
all means of healing may be used to the best advantage, each in
its appropriate sphere.  When members of Baha'u'llah's own
family were sick, a professional physician was called in, and
this practice is recommended to His followers.  He says:
"Should ye be attacked by illness or disease, consult skillful
physicians." -- Kitab-i-Aqdas.
   This is quite in accordance with the Baha'i attitude towards
science and art generally.  All sciences and arts which are for
the benefit of mankind, even in a material way, are to be esteemed
and promoted.  Through science man becomes the master
of material things; through ignorance he remains their slave.
   Baha'u'llah writes: --
     Do not neglect medical treatment when it is necessary,
   but leave it off when health has been restored.  Treat disease
   through diet, by preference, refraining from the use
   of drugs; and if you find what is required in a single herb,
   do not resort to a compound medicament. ... Abstain
   from drugs when the health is good, but administer
   them when necessary. -- Tablet to a Physician
   In one of His Tablets Abdu'l-Baha says: --
     O seeker after truth!  There are two ways of healing
   sickness, material means and spiritual means.  The first
   way is through the use of material remedies.  The second
   consists in praying to God and in turning to Him.  Both
   means should be used and practiced. ... Moreover,
   they are not incompatible, and you should accept the
   physical remedies as coming from the mercy and favor
   of God Who has revealed and made manifest medical
   knowledge, so that His servants may profit by this kind
   of treatment also.
   He teaches that, were our natural tastes and instincts not
vitiated by foolish and unnatural modes of living, they would
become reliable guides in the choice both of appropriate diet
and of medicinal fruits, herbs and other remedies, as is the
case with wild animals.  In an interesting talk on healing, recorded
in Some Answered Questions (p. 298), He says in
conclusion: --
     It is therefore evident that it is possible to cure by
   foods, aliments, and fruits; but as to-day the science of
   medicine is imperfect, this fact is not yet fully grasped.
   When the science of medicine reaches perfection, treatment
   will be given by foods, aliments, fragrant fruits, and
   vegetables, and by various waters, hot and cold in
   Even when the means of healing are material, the power
that heals is really Divine, for the attributes of the herb of mineral
are from the Divine Bestowals.  "All depends upon God.
Medicine is merely an outward form or means by which we
obtain heavenly healing."
Healing by Nonmaterial Means
   He teaches that there are also many methods of healing
without material means.  There is a "contagion of health," as
well as a contagion of disease, although the former is very slow
and has a small effect, while the latter is often violent and
rapid in its action.
   Much more powerful effects result from the patient's own
mental states, and "suggestion" may play an important part in
determining these states.  Fear, anger, worry, et cetera, are very
prejudicial to health, while hope, love, joy, et cetera, are
correspondingly beneficial.
   Thus Baha'u'llah says: --
     Verily the most necessary thing is contentment under
   all circumstances; by this one is preserved from morbid
   conditions and lassitude.  Yield not to grief and sorrow:
   they cause the greatest misery.  Jealousy consumeth
   the body and anger doth burn the liver:  avoid these two as
   you would a lion. -- Tablet to a Physician.
   And Abdu'l-Baha says: -- "Joy gives us wings.  In times of
joy our strength is more vital, our intellect keener. ... But
when sadness visits us our strength leaves us."
   Of another form of mental healing Abdu'l-Baha writes that
it results: --
   from the entire concentration of the mind of a strong person
   upon a sick person, when the latter expects with all
   his concentrated faith that a cure will be effected from the
   spiritual power of the strong person, to such an extent
   that there will be a cordial connection between the strong
   person and the invalid.  The strong person makes every
   effort to cure the sick patient, and the sick patient is then
   sure of receiving a cure.  From the effect of these mental
   impressions an excitement of the nerves is produced, and
   this impression and this excitement of the nerves will become
   the cause of the recovery of the sick person. -- Some
   Answered Questions, p. 294.
   All these methods of healing, however, are limited in their
effects, and may fail to effect a cure in severe maladies.
The Power of the Holy Spirit
   The most potent means of healing is the Power of the Holy
     ... This does not depend on contact, nor on sight, nor
   upon presence. ... Whether the disease be light or severe,
   whether there be a contact of bodies or not, whether
   a personal connection be established between the sick person
   and the healer or not, this healing takes place through
   the power of the Holy Spirit. -- Some Answered Questions,
   p. 295.
   In a talk with Miss Ethel Rosenberg, in October 1904,
Abdu'l-Baha said: --
     The healing that is by the power of the Holy Spirit
   needs no special concentration or contact.  It is through
   the wish or desire and the prayer of the holy person.  The
   one who is sick may be in the East and the healer in the
   West, and they may not have been acquainted with each
   other, but as soon as that holy person turns his heart to
   God and begins to pray, the sick one is healed.  This is a
   gift belonging to the Holy Manifestations and those who
   are in the highest station.
   Of this nature, apparently, were the works of healing performed
by Christ and His apostles, and similar works of healing
have been attributed to holy men in all ages.  Both
Baha'u'llah and Abdu'l-Baha were gifted with this power, and
similar powers are promised to Their faithful followers.
Attitude of the Patient
   In order that the power of spiritual healing may be brought
fully into operation certain requirements are necessary on the
part of the patient, of the healer, of the patient's friends and of
the community at large.
   On the part of the patient the prime requisite is, turning with
all the heart to God, with implicit trust both in His Power and
in His Will to do whatever is best.  To an American lady, in
August 1912, Abdu'l-Baha said: --
     All of these ailments will pass away and you will receive
   perfect physical and spiritual health. ... Let your
   heart be confident and assured that through the Bounty of
   Baha'u'llah, through the Favor of Baha'u'llah, everything
   will become pleasant for you. ... But you must turn your
   face wholly towards the Abha (All-Glorious) Kingdom, giving
   perfect attention -- the same attention that Mary Magdalene
   gave to His Holiness Christ -- and I assure you that
   you will get physical and spiritual health.  You are
   worthy.  I give you the glad tidings that you are worthy
   because your heart is pure. ... Be confident!  Be happy!
   Be rejoiced!  Be hopeful!
   Although in this particular case Abdu'l-Baha guaranteed
the attainment of sound physical health, He does not do so in
every case, even where there is strong faith on the part of the
individual.  To a pilgrim in Akka He said: --
     The prayers which were written for the purpose of
   healing are both for the spiritual and material healing. ...
   If healing is best for the patient, surely it will be granted.
   For some who are sick, healing for them shall be the cause
   of other ills.  Thus it is that Wisdom does not decree the
   answer to some prayers.
     O maid-servant of God.  The Power of the Holy Spirit
   heals both material and spiritual ills. -- Daily Lessons Received
   at Akka, p. 95.
   Again He writes to one who is ill: --
     Verily the Will of God acts sometimes in a way for
   which mankind is unable to find out the reason.  The
   causes and reasons shall appear.  Trust in God and confide
   in Him, and resign thyself to the Will of God.  Verily thy
   God is affectionate, compassionate and merciful ... and
   will cause His Mercy to descend upon Thee.
   He teaches that spiritual health is conducive to physical
health, but physical health depends upon many factors, some
of which are outside the control of the individual.  Even the
most exemplary spiritual attitude on the part of the individual,
therefore, may not ensure physical health in every case.  The
holiest men and women sometimes suffer illness.
   Nevertheless, the beneficent influence on bodily health
which results from a right spiritual attitude is far more potent
than is generally imagined, and is sufficient to banish ill-health
in a large proportion of cases.  Abdu'l-Baha wrote to an English
lady: -- "You have written about the weakness of your
body.  I ask from the Bounties of Baha'u'llah that your spirit
may become strong, that through the strength of your spirit
your body also may be healed."
   Again He says: --
     God hath bestowed upon man such wonderful powers,
   that he might ever look upward, and receive, among other
   gifts, healing from His divine Bounty.  But alas! man is not
   grateful for this supreme good, but sleeps the sleep of
   negligence, being careless of the great mercy which God
   has shown towards him, turning his face away from the
   Light and going on his way in darkness.
The Healer
   The power of spiritual healing is doubtless common to all
mankind in greater or less degree, but, just as some men are
endowed with exceptional talent for mathematics or music, so
others appear to be endowed with exceptional aptitude for
healing.  These are the people who ought to make the healing
art their lifework.  Unfortunately, so materialistic has the world
become in recent centuries that the very possibility of spiritual
healing has to a large extent been lost sight of.  Like all other
talents the gift of healing has to be recognized, trained and
educated in order that it may attain its highest development
and power, and there are probably thousands in the world today,
richly dowered with natural aptitude for healing, in whom
this precious gift is lying dormant and inactive.  When the potentialities
of mental and spiritual treatment are more fully
realized, the healing art will be transformed and ennobled and
its efficacy immeasurably increased.  And when this new knowledge
and power in the healer are combined with lively faith
and hope on the part of the patient, wonderful results may be
looked for.
     In God must be our trust.  There is no God but Him, the
   Healer, the Knower, the Helper. ... Nothing in earth or
   heaven is outside the grasp of God.
     O physician!  In treating the sick, first mention the
   name of Thy God, the Possessor of the Day of Judgment,
   and then use what God hath destined for the healing of
   His creatures.  By My Life!  The physician who has drunk
   from the Wine of My Love, his visit is healing, and his
   breath is mercy and hope.  Cling to him for the welfare of
   the constitution.  He is confirmed by God in his treatment.
     This knowledge (of the healing art) is the most important
   of all the sciences, for it is the greatest means from
   God, the Life-giver to the dust, for preserving the bodies
   of all people, and He has put it in the forefront of all sciences
   and wisdoms.  For this is the day when you must
   arise for My Victory.
     Thy Name is my healing, O my God, and remembrance
   of Thee is my remedy.  Nearness to Thee is my
   hope, and love for Thee is my companion.  Thy mercy to
   me is my healing and my succor in both this world and
   the world to come.  Thou, verily, art the All-Bountiful,
   the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. -- BAHA'U'LLAH, Tablet
   to a Physician.
   Abdu'l-Baha writes: --
     He who is filled with love of Baha, and forgets all
   things, the Holy Spirit will be heard from his lips and the
   spirit of life will fill his heart. ... Words will issue from
   his lips in strands of pearls, and all sickness and disease
   will be healed by the laying on of the hands.
     O thou pure and spiritual one!  Turn thou toward God
   with thy heart beating with His love, devoted to His
   praise, gazing towards His Kingdom and seeking help
   from His Holy Spirit in a state of ecstasy, rapture, love,
   yearning, joy and fragrance.  God will assist thee, through
   a spirit from His Presence, to heal sickness and disease.
     Continue in healing hearts and bodies and seek healing
   for sick persons by turning unto the Supreme Kingdom
   and by setting the heart upon obtaining healing through
   the power of the Greatest Name and by the spirit of the
   Love of God.
How All Can Help
   The work of healing the sick, however, is a matter that concerns
not the patient and the practitioner only, but everyone.
All must help, by sympathy and service, by right living and
right thinking, and especially by prayer, for of all remedies
prayer is the most potent.  "Supplication and prayer on behalf
of others," says Abdu'l-Baha, "will surely be effective."  The
friends of the patient have a special responsibility, for their influence,
either for good or ill, is most direct and powerful.  In
how many cases of sickness the issue depends mainly on the
ministrations of parents, friends or neighbors of the helpless
   Even the members of the community at large have an influence
in every case of sickness.  In individual cases that influence
may not appear great, yet in the mass the effect is potent.
Everyone is affected by the social "atmosphere" in which
he lives, by the general prevalence of faith or materialism, of
virtue or vice, of cheerfulness of depression; and each individual
has his share in determining the state of that social "atmosphere."
It may not be possible for everyone, in the present state
of the world, to attain to perfect health, but it is possible for
everyone to become a "willing channel" for the health-giving
power of the Holy Spirit and thus to exert a healing, helpful
influence both on his own body and on all with whom he comes
in contact.
   Few duties are impressed on Baha'is more repeatedly and
emphatically than that of healing the sick, and many beautiful
prayers for healing have been revealed by both Baha'u'llah and
The Golden Age
   Baha'u'llah gives the assurance that, through harmonious
cooperation of patients, healers and the community in general,
and by appropriate use of the various means to health,
material, mental and spiritual, the Golden Age may be realized,
when, by the Power of God, "all sorrow will be turned
into joy, and all disease into health."  Abdu'l-Baha says that
"when the Divine Message is understood, all troubles will vanish."
Again He says: --
     When the material world and the divine world are well
   correlated, when the hearts become heavenly and the aspirations
   pure, perfect connection shall take place.  Then
   shall this power produce a perfect manifestation.  Physical
   and spiritual diseases will then receive absolute healing.
Right Use of Health
   In concluding this chapter it will be well to recall Abdu'l-Baha's
teaching as to the right use of physical health.  In one of
His Tablets to the Baha'is of Washington He says: --
     If the health and well-being of the body be expended
   in the path of the Kingdom, this is very acceptable and
   praiseworthy; and if it be expended to the benefit of the
   human world in general -- even though it be to their material
   (or bodily) benefit -- and be a means of doing good,
   that is also acceptable.  But if the health and welfare of
   man be spent in sensual desires, in a life on the animal
   plane, and in devilish pursuits -- then disease were better
   than such health; nay, death itself were preferable to such
   a life.  If thou art desirous of health, wish thou health for
   serving the Kingdom.  I hope that thou mayest attain perfect
   insight, inflexible resolution, complete health, and
   spiritual and physical strength in order that thou mayest
   drink from the fountain of eternal life and be assisted by
   the spirit of divine confirmation.
Religious Unity/8
   O ye that dwell on earth!  The distinguishing feature that marketh
the preeminent character of this Supreme Revelation consisteth
in that We have, on the one hand, blotted out from the
pages of God's book whatsoever hath been the cause of strife, of
malice and mischief amongst the children of men, and have, on
the other, laid down the essential prerequisites of concord, of understanding,
of complete and enduring unity.  Well is it with
them that keep My statutes. -- BAHA'U'LLAH, Tablet of the World.
Sectarianism in the Nineteenth Century
   Never, perhaps, did the world seem farther away from religious
unity than in the nineteenth century.  For many centuries had
the great religious communities -- the Zoroastrian, Mosaic,
Buddhist, Christian, Muhammadan and others -- been existing
side by side, but instead of blending together into a harmonious
whole they had been at constant enmity and strife,
each against the others.  Not only so, but each had become split
up, by division after division, into an increasing number of
sects which were often bitterly opposed to each other.  Yet
Christ had said:  "By this shall all men know that ye are my
disciples, if ye have love one to another, " and Muhammad had
said:  "This your religion is the one religion. ... To you hath
God prescribed the faith which He commanded unto Noah,
and which We have revealed unto thee, and which We commanded
unto Abraham and Moses and Jesus saying:  `Observe
this faith, and be not divided into sects therein!'"  The Founder
of every one of the great religions had called His followers to
love and unity, but in every case the aim of the Founder was
to a large extent lost sight of in a welter of intolerance and
bigotry, formalism and hypocrisy, corruption and misrepresentation,
schism and contention.  The aggregate number of
more or less hostile sects in the world was probably greater at
the commencement of the Baha'i era than at any previous period
in human history.  It seemed as if humanity at that time
were experimenting with every possible kind of religious belief,
with every possible sort of ritual and ceremonial observance,
with every possible variety of moral code.
   At the same time an increasing number of men were
devoting their energies to fearless investigation and critical examination
of the laws of nature and the foundations of belief.
New scientific knowledge was being rapidly acquired and new
solutions were being found for many of the problems of life.
The development of inventions such as steamship and railway,
postal system and press, greatly aided the diffusion of ideas
and the fertilizing contact of widely different types of thought
and life.
   The so-called "conflict between religion and science" became
a fierce battle.  In the Christian world Biblical criticism
combined with physical science to dispute, and to some extent
to refute, the authority of the Bible, an authority that for centuries
had been the generally accepted basis of belief.  A rapidly
increasing proportion of the population became skeptical
about the teachings of the churches.  A large number even of
religious priests secretly or openly entertained doubts or reservations
regarding the creeds adhered to by their respective
   This ferment and flux of opinion, with increasing recognition
of the inadequacy of the old orthodoxies and dogmas, and
groping and striving after fuller knowledge and understanding,
were not confined to Christian countries, but were manifest,
more or less, and in different forms, among the people of all
countries and religions.
The Message of Baha'u'llah
   It was when this state of conflict and confusion was at its
height, that Baha'u'llah sounded His great trumpet call to
humanity: --
     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. ... These strifes and this bloodshed and discord
   must cease, and all men be as one kindred and one
   family. ... (words spoken to Professor Browne).
   It is a glorious message, but how are its proposals to be carried
into effect?  Prophets have preached, poets have sung and
saints have prayed about these things for thousands of years,
but diversities of religion have not ceased nor have strife and
bloodshed and discord been annulled.  What is there to show
that now the miracle is to be accomplished?  Are there any new
factors in the situation?  Is not human nature the same as it
ever was, and will it not continue to be the same while the
world lasts?  If two people want the same thing, or two nations,
will they not fight for it in the future as they have done in the
past?  If Moses, Buddha, Christ and Muhammad failed to
achieve world unity will Baha'u'llah succeed?  If all previous
faiths become corrupted and rent asunder into sects will not
the Baha'i faith share the same fate?  Let us see what answer
the Baha'i teachings give to these and similar questions.
Can Human Nature Change?
   Education and religion are alike based on the assumption
that it is possible to change human nature.  In fact, it requires
but little investigation to show that the one thing we can say
with certainty about any living thing is that it cannot keep
from changing.  Without change there can be no life.  Even the
mineral cannot resist change, and the higher we go in the scale
of being, the more varied, complex, and wonderful do the
changes become.  Moreover, in progress and development
among creatures of all grades we find two kinds of change --
one slow, gradual, often almost imperceptible; and the other
rapid, sudden and dramatic.  The latter occur at what are
called "critical stages" of development.  In the case of minerals
we find such critical stages at the melting and boiling points,
for example, when the solid suddenly becomes a liquid or the
liquid becomes a gas.  In the case of plants we see such critical
stages when the seed begins to germinate, or the bud bursts
into leaf.  In the animal world we see the same on every hand,
as when the grub suddenly changes into a butterfly, the chick
emerges from its shell, or the babe is born from its mother's
womb.  In the higher life of the soul we often see a similar transformation,
when a man is "born again" and his whole being becomes
radically changes in its aims, its character and activities.
Such critical stages often affect a whole species or multitude of
species simultaneously, as when vegetation of all kinds suddenly
bursts into new life in springtime.
   Baha'u'llah declares that just as lesser living things have
times of sudden emergence into new and fuller life, so for mankind
also a "critical stage," a time of "rebirth," is at hand.
Then modes of life which have persisted from the dawn of history
up till now will be quickly, irrevocably, altered, and humanity
enter on a new phase of life as different from the old as
the butterfly is different from the caterpillar, or the bird from
the egg.  Mankind as a whole, in the light of new Revelation,
will attain to a new vision of truth; as a whole country is illumined
when the sun rises, so that all men see clearly, where but
an hour before everything was dark and dim.  "This is a new
cycle of human power," says Abdu'l-Baha.  "All the horizons
of the world are luminous, and the world will become indeed
as a rose garden and a paradise."  The analogies of nature are
all in favor of such a view; the Prophets of old have with one
accord foretold the advent of such a glorious day; the signs of
the times show clearly that profound and revolutionary
changes in human ideas and institutions are even now in progress.
What could be more futile and baseless therefore, than
the pessimistic argument that, although all things else change,
human nature cannot change?
First Steps Toward Unity
   As a means of promoting religious unity Baha'u'llah advocates
the utmost charity and tolerance, and calls on His followers
to "consort with the people of all religions with joy and
gladness."  In His last Will and Testament He says: --
     Contention and conflict hath He strictly forbidding in
   His book (Kitab-i-Aqdas); such is the command of the
   Lord in this all-highest Revelation -- a command which
   He hath exempted from all annulment and arrayed with
   the adorning of His confirmation.
     O ye people of the world!  The Religion of God is for
   the sake of love and union; make it not the cause of enmity
   and conflict. ... The hope is cherished, that the
   people of Baha shall ever turn unto the Hallowed Word:
   "Lo!  All things are of God." -- the All-Glorious Word that,
   like unto water, quencheth the fire of hate and rancor
   which doth smoulder in hearts and breasts.  By this one
   Word shall the diverse sects of the world attain unto the
   light of real union; verily the Truth He speaketh, and to
   the Path He leadeth, and He is the Mighty, the Gracious,
   the Beauteous.
   Abdu'l-Baha says: --
     All must abandon prejudices and must even go to each
   other's churches and mosques, for, in all of these worshipping
   places, the Name of God is mentioned.  Since all
   gather to worship God, what difference is there?  None of
   them worship Satan.  The Muhammadans must go to the
   churches of the Christians and the Synagogues of the
   Jews, and vice versa, the others must go to the Muhammadan
   Mosques.  They hold aloof from one another
   merely because of unfounded prejudices and dogmas.  In
   America I went to the Jewish Synagogues, which are similar
   to the Christian Churches, and I saw them worshipping
   God everywhere.
     In many of these places I spoke about the original
   foundations of the divine religions, and I explained
   to them the proofs of the validity of the divine prophets
   and of the Holy Manifestations.  I encouraged them to do
   away with blind imitations.  All of the leaders must, likewise,
   go to each other's Churches and speak of the foundation
   and of the fundamental principles of the divine religions.
   In the utmost unity and harmony they must
   worship God, in the worshipping places of one another,
   and must abandon fanaticism.
   Were even these first steps accomplished and a state of
friendly mutual tolerance established between the various religious
sects, what a wonderful change would be brought about
in the world!  In order that real unity may be achieved, however,
something more than this is required.  For the disease of
sectarianism, tolerance is a valuable palliative, but it is not a
radical cure.  It does not remove the cause of the trouble.
The Problem of Authority
   The different religious communities have failed to unite in
the past, because the adherents of each have regarded the
Founder of their own community as the one supreme authority,
and His law as the divine law.  Any Prophet Who proclaimed
a different message was, therefore, regarded as an
enemy of the truth.  The different sects of each community have
separated for similar reasons.  The adherents of each have accepted
some subordinate authority and regarded some particular
version or interpretation of the Founder's Message as the
One True Faith, and all others as wrong.  It is obvious that while
this state of matters exists no true unity is possible.  Baha'u'llah,
on the other hand, teaches that all the Prophets were bearers
of authentic messages from God; that each in His day gave the
highest teachings of all are essentially in harmony, and are
parts of a great plan for the education and the unification of
humanity.  He calls on the people of all denominations to show
their reverence for their Prophets by devoting their lives to the
accomplishment of that unity for which all the Prophets labored
and suffered.  In His letter to Queen Victoria He likens
the world to a sick man whose malady is aggravated because
he has fallen into the hands of unskilled physicians; and He
tells how the remedy may be effected: --
     That which the Lord hath ordained as the sovereign
   remedy and mightiest instrument for the healing of all the
   world is the union of all its peoples in one universal
   Cause, one common Faith.  This can in no wise be
   achieved except through the power of a skilled, an all-powerful
   and inspired Physician.  This, verily, is the truth,
   and all else naught but error. -- Gleanings from the Writings
   of Baha'u'llah, p. 255.
Progressive Revelation
   A great stumbling block to many, in the way of religious
unity, is the difference between the Revelations given by the
different Prophets.  What is commanded by one is forbidden by
another; how then can both be right, how can both be proclaiming
the Will of God?  Surely the truth is One, and cannot
change.  Yes, the Absolute Truth is One and cannot change, but
the Absolute Truth is infinitely beyond the present range of human
understanding, and our conceptions of it must constantly
change.  Our earlier, imperfect ideas will be by the Grace of
God replaced, as time goes on, by more and more adequate
conceptions.  Baha'u'llah says, in a Tablet to some Baha'is of
Persia: --
     O people!  Words are revealed according to capacity so
   that the beginners may make progress.  The milk must be
   given according to measure so that the babe of the world
   may enter into the Realm of Grandeur and be established
   in the Court of Unity.
   It is milk that strengthens the babe so that it can digest more
solid food later on.  To say that because one Prophet is right in
giving a certain teaching at a certain time, therefore another
Prophet must be wrong Who gives a different teaching at a
different time, is like saying that because milk is the best food
for the newborn babe, therefore, milk and nothing but milk
should be the food of the grown man also, and to give any
other diet would be wrong!  Abdu'l-Baha says: --
     Each divine revelation is divided into two parts.  The
   first part is essential and belongs to the eternal world.  It
   is the exposition of Divine truths and essential principles.
   It is the expression of the Love of God.  This is one in all
   the religions, unchangeable and immutable.  The second
   part is not eternal; it deals with practical life, transactions
   and business, and changes according to the evolution of
   man and the requirements of the time of each Prophet.
   For example. ... During the Mosaic period the hand of
   a person was cut off in punishment of a small theft; there
   was a law of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, but
   as these laws were not expedient in the time of Christ,
   they were abrogated.  Likewise divorce had become so
   universal that there remained no fixed laws of marriage,
   therefore His Holiness Christ forbade divorce.
     According to the exigencies of the time, His Holiness
   Moses revealed ten laws for capital punishment.  It was
   impossible at that time to protect the community and to
   preserve social security without these severe measures,
   for the children of Israel lived in the wilderness of Tah,
   where there were no established courts of justice and no
   penitentiaries.  But this code of conduct was not needed
   in the time of Christ.  The history of the second part of
   religion is unimportant, because it relates to the customs
   of this life only; but the foundation of the religion of God
   is one, and His Holiness Baha'u'llah has renewed that
   The religion of God is the One Religion, and all the Prophets
have taught it, but it is a living and a growing thing, not lifeless
and unchanging.  In the teaching of Moses we see the Bud;
in that of Christ the Flower; in that of Baha'u'llah the Fruit.  The
flower does not destroy the bud, nor does the fruit destroy the
flower.  It destroys not, but fulfills.  The bud scales must fall in
order that the flower may bloom, and the petals must fall that
the fruit may grow and ripen.  Were the bud scales and the
petals wrong or useless, then, that they had to be discarded?
Nay, both in their time were right and necessary; without them
there could have been no fruit.  So it is with the various prophetic
teachings; their externals change from age to age, but
each revelation is the fulfillment of its predecessors; they are
not separate or incongruous, but different stages in the life
history of the One Religion, which has in turn been revealed as
seed, as bud and as flower, and now enters on the stage of
Infallibility of the Prophets
   Baha'u'llah teaches that everyone endowed with the Station
of Prophethood is given sufficient proofs of His Mission, is entitled
to claim obedience from all men and has authority to
abrogate, alter or add to the teachings of His predecessors.  In
the Book of Iqan we read: --
     How far from the grace of the All-Bountiful and from
   His loving providence and tender mercies it is to single
   out a soul from amongst all men for the guidance of His
   creatures, and, on one hand, to withhold from Him the
   full measure of His divine testimony, and, on the other,
   inflict severe retribution on His people for having turned
   away from His chosen One!  Nay, the manifold bounties of
   the Lord of all beings have, at all times, through the
   Manifestations of His divine Essence, encompassed the
   earth and all that dwell therein. ...
     And yet, is not the object of every Revelation to effect
   a transformation in the whole character of mankind, a
   transformation that shall manifest itself both outwardly
   and inwardly, that shall affect both its inner life and
   external conditions?  For if the character of mankind be
   not changed, the futility of God's universal Manifestations
   would be apparent. -- Kitab-i-Iqan, pp. 14, 240.
   God is the One infallible Authority, and the Prophets are
infallible because Their Message is the Message of God given
to the world through Them.  That Message remains valid until
it is superseded by a later Message given by the same or
another Prophet.
   God is the great Physician Who alone can rightly diagnose
the world's sickness and prescribe the appropriate remedy.
The remedy prescribed in one age is no longer suitable in a
later age, when the condition of the patient is different.  To
cling to the old remedy when the physician has ordered new
treatment is not to show faith in the physician, but infidelity.
It may be a shock to the Jew to be told that some of the remedies
for the world's sickness which Moses ordered over three
thousand years ago are now out of date and unsuitable; the
Christian may be equally shocked when told that Muhammad
had anything necessary or valuable to add to what Jesus
prescribed; and so also the Muslim, when asked to admit that
the Bab or Baha'u'llah had authority to alter the commands of
Muhammad; but according to the Baha'i view, true devotion
to God implies reverence to all His Prophets, and implicit
obedience to His latest Commands, as given by the Prophet
for our own age.  Only by such devotion can true Unity be
The Supreme Manifestation
   Like all the other Prophets, Baha'u'llah states His own Mission
in the most unmistakable terms.
   In the Lawh-i-Aqdas, a Tablet addressed especially to Christians,
He says: --
     Surely the Father hath come and hath fulfilled that
   which you were promised in the Kingdom of God.  This
   is the Word which the Son veiled when He said to those
   around Him that at that time they could not bear it.  But
   when the stated time was ended, and the Hour arrived, the
   Word shone forth from the Horizon of the Will.  Beware,
   O Concourse of the Son (i.e. Christians)!  Cast it not
   behind you, but hold thereunto.  It is better for you than
   all that which is before you! ... Verily, the Spirit of
   Truth is come, to guide you into all Truth.  Verily, He
   speaketh not from Himself, nay, but rather from the All-Knowing
   and Wise.  He is the One Whom the Son hath
   glorified. ... Abandon that which is before you, O
   people of the earth, and take that which is commanded
   you by Him Who is the Powerful, the Faithful.
   And in a letter to the Pope, written from Adrianople in
1867, He says: --
     Beware lest celebration hinder you from the Celebrated
   and worship hinder you from the Worshipped One!  Behold
   the Lord, the Mighty, the All-Knowing!  He hath
   come to minister to the life of the world, and for the
   uniting of whatever dwelleth therein.  Come, O ye people,
   to the Dawning-place of Revelation!  Tarry not, even for
   an hour!  Are ye learned of the Gospel, and yet are unable
   to see the Lord of Glory?
     This beseemeth you not, O learned concourse!  Say
   then, if ye deny this matter, by what proof do you believe
   in God?  Produce your proof. ...
   Just as in these letters to Christians He announces the fulfillment
of the Gospel promises, so He proclaims also to Muhammadan,
Jews, Zoroastrians and the people of other faiths the
fulfillment of the promises of their Holy Books.  He addresses
all men as the sheep of God, who have hitherto been divided
into different flocks and sheltered in different folds.  His message,
He says, is the Voice of God, the Good Shepherd, Who
has come in the fullness of time to gather His scattered sheep
into one flock, removing the barriers between them, that "there
may be one fold and one shepherd."
A New Situation
   The position of Baha'u'llah among the Prophets is unprecedented
and unique, because the condition of the world at
the time of His advent was unprecedented and unique.  By a
long and checkered process of development in religion, science,
art and civilization the world had become ripe for a teaching
of Unity.  The barriers which in previous centuries had made a
world unity impossible were ready to crumble when Baha'u'llah
appeared, and since His birth, in 1817, and more especially
since the promulgation of His teachings began, these barriers
have been breaking down in most astonishing fashion.  Be the
explanation what it may, about the fact there can be no doubt.
   In the days of previous Prophets geographical barriers alone
were amply sufficient to prevent world unity.  Now that obstacle
has been overcome.  For the first time in human history men
on opposite sides of the globe are able to communicate with
each other quickly and easily.  Things done in Europe yesterday
are known in every continent of the world today, and a speech
made in America today may be read in Europe, Asia and
Africa tomorrow.
   Another great obstacle was the language difficulty.  Thanks
to the study and teaching of foreign languages, that difficulty
has already been to a large extent overcome; and there is every
reason to suppose that ere many years an international auxiliary
language will be adopted and taught in all the schools of
the world.  Then this difficulty also will be completely removed.
   The third great obstacle was religious prejudice and intolerance.
That, too, is disappearing.  Men's minds are becoming
more open.  The education of the people is passing more
and more out of the hands of sectarian priests; and new and
more liberal ideas can no longer be prevented from penetrating
into even the most exclusive and conservative circles.
   Baha'u'llah is thus the first of the great Prophets Whose
message has become known within a period of comparatively
few years in every quarter of the globe.  Within a short time
the essential teachings of Baha'u'llah, translated from His own
authentic Writings, will be directly accessible to every man,
woman and child in the world who is able to read.
Fullness of the Baha'i Revelation
   The Baha'i Revelation is unprecedented and unique among
the faiths of the world by reason of the fullness and completeness
of its authentic records.  The recorded words that can with
certainty be attributed to Christ, to Moses, to Zoroaster, to
Buddha, to Krishna, are very few, and leave many modern
questions of great practical importance unanswered.  Many of
the teachings commonly attributed to these religious Founders
are of doubtful authenticity, and some are evidently accretions
of later date.  The Muhammadans possess in the Qur'an, and
in a large store of traditions, a much fuller record of the life
and teachings of their Prophet, but Muhammad Himself,
though inspired, was illiterate, as were most of His early followers.
The methods employed for recording and spreading
His teachings were in many respects unsatisfactory, and the
authenticity of many of the traditions is very doubtful.  As a
result, differences of interpretation and conflicting opinions
have cause divisions and dissensions in Islam, as in all
previous religious communities.
   On the other hand, both the Bab and Baha'u'llah wrote
copiously and with great eloquence and power.  As both were
debarred from public speaking and spent most of Their lives
(after the declaration of Their mission) in prison, They devoted
a large proportion of Their time to writing, with the
result that in richness of authentic scriptures the Baha'i Revelation
is unapproached by any of its predecessors.  Clear and full
expositions are given of many truths which were but dimly
foreshadowed in previous revelations, and the eternal principles
of truth, which all the Prophets have taught, have been
applied to the problems which are facing the world today --
problems of the utmost complexity and difficulty, many of
which had not arisen in the days of former Prophets.  It is evident
that this full record of authentic revelation must have a
powerful effect in preventing misunderstandings in the future
and in clearing up those misunderstandings of the past which
have kept the various sects asunder.
The Baha'i Covenant
   The Baha'i Revelation is unprecedented and unique in still
another way.  Before the death of Baha'u'llah He repeatedly put
in writing a Covenant appointing his eldest son Abdu'l-Baha,
Whom He often refers to as "The Branch," or "The Most Great
Branch," as the authorized interpreter of the teachings, and
declaring that any explanations or interpretations given by
Him are to be accepted as of equal validity with the words of
Baha'u'llah Himself.  In His Will and Testament He says: --
     Consider that which We revealed in Our Most Holy
   Book:  "When the ocean of My presence hath ebbed and
   the Book of My Revelation is ended, turn your faces toward
   Him Whom God hath purposed, Who hath
   branched from this Ancient Root."  The object of this sacred
   verse is none other except the Most Mighty Branch
   And in the Tablet of the Branch, in which He explains the
station of Abdu'l-Baha, He says: --
     Render thanks unto God, O people, for His appearance;
   for verily He is the most great Favor unto you, the
   most perfect bounty upon you; and through Him every
   mouldering bone is quickened.  Whoso turneth towards
   Him hath turned towards God, and whoso turneth away
   from Him hath turned away from My Beauty, hath repudiated
   My Proof, and transgressed against Me.
   After the death of Baha'u'llah, Abdu'l-Baha had abundant
opportunities, both in His own home and on His extensive
travels, of meeting people from all parts of the world and of all
shades of opinion.  He heard all their questions, their difficulties
and objections, and gave full explanations which were carefully
recorded in writing.  During a long series of years Abdu'l-Baha
continued this work of elucidating the teachings and showing
their applications to the most varied problems of modern life.
Differences of opinion which have arisen among believers have
been referred to Him and authoritatively settled, and thus the
risks of future misunderstandings have been further reduced.
   Baha'u'llah further arranged that an International House of
Justice, representative of all Baha'is throughout the world,
should be elected to take charge of the affairs of the Cause,
control and coordinate all its activities, prevent divisions and
schisms, elucidate obscure matters, and preserve the teachings
from corruption and misrepresentation.  The fact that this
supreme administrative body can not only initiate legislation
on all matters not defined in the Teachings, but also annul its
own enactments when new conditions require different measures,
enables the Faith to expand and adapt itself, like a living
organism, to the needs and requirements of a changing society.
   Moreover, Baha'u'llah expressly forbade interpretation of
the teachings by anyone but the authorized interpreter.  In His
Will and Testament Abdu'l-Baha appointed Shoghi Effendi
to be the Guardian of the Faith after Him and to be empowered
to interpret the Writings.
   In a thousand or more years another Manifestation will
appear, under the shadow of Baha'u'llah, with clear proofs of
His mission, but until then the words of Baha'u'llah, Abdu'l-Baha
and the Guardian and the decisions of the International
House of Justice constitute the authorities to which all believers
must turn for guidance.  No Baha'i may found a school or sect
based on any particular interpretation of the teachings or any
supposed divine revelation.  Anyone contravening these injunctions
is considered a "Covenant-breaker."+F1
   Abdu'l-Baha says: --
     One of the enemies of the Cause is he who endeavors
   to interpret the words of Baha'u'llah and thereby colors
   the meaning according to his capacity, and collects
   around him a following, forming a different sect, promoting
   his own station, and making a division in the Cause.
   In another Tablet He writes: --
     These people (promoters of schism) are like the froth
   that gathers on the surface of the sea; a wave will surge
   from the ocean of the Covenant and through the power
   of the Abha Kingdom will cast this foam ashore. ...
1.    See pp. 261-263 and 272-273 for further elucidations of the Guardianship
    and the Universal House of Justice.
   These corrupt thoughts that emanate from personal and
   evil intentions will all vanish, whereas the Covenant of
   God shall remain stable and secure.
   There is nothing to keep men from forsaking religion if they
wish to do so.  Abdu'l-Baha says:  "God Himself does not
compel the soul to become spiritual.  The exercise of the free
human will is necessary."  The spiritual Covenant, however,
clearly makes sectarianism within the Baha'i community quite
No Professional Priesthood
   One other feature of the Baha'i organization must be specially
mentioned, and that is the absence of a professional
priesthood.  Voluntary contributions toward the expenses of
teachers are permitted and many devote their whole time to
work for the Cause, but all Baha'is are expected to share in the
work of teaching, et cetera, according to their opportunity and
ability, and there is no special class distinguished from their
fellow believers by the exclusive exercise of priestly functions
and prerogatives.
   In former ages priesthoods were necessary, because people
were illiterate and uneducated and were dependent on priests
for their religious instruction, for the conduct of religious rites
and ceremonies, for the administration of justice, et cetera.
Now, however, times have changed.  Education is fast becoming
universal, and if the commands of Baha'u'llah are carried
out, every boy and girl in the world will receive a sound education.
Each individual will then be able to study the Scriptures
for himself, to draw the Water of Life for himself, direct from
the Fountainhead.  Elaborate rites and ceremonies, requiring
the services of a special profession or caste, have no place in the
Baha'i system; and the administration of justice is entrusted to
the authorities instituted for that purpose.
   For a child a teacher is necessary, but the aim of the true
teacher is to fit his pupil to do without a teacher; to see things
with his own eyes, hear with his own ears, and understand with
his own mind.  Just so, in the childhood of the race, the priest is
necessary, but his real work is to enable men to do without
him:  to see things divine with their own eyes, hear them with
their own ears and understand them with their own minds.
Now the priest's work is all but accomplished, and the aim of
the Baha'i teaching is to complete that work, to make men
independent of all save God, so that they can turn directy to
Him, that is, to His Manifestation.  When all turn to one Center,
then there can be no cross-purposes or confusion and the
nearer all draw to the Center, the nearer they will draw to each
True Civilization/9
   O people of God!  Be not occupied with yourselves.  Be intent
on the betterment of the world and the training of nations. --
Religion the Basis of Civilization
   According to the Baha'i view, the problems of human life,
individual and social, are so inconceivably complex that the
ordinary human intellect is incapable of itself of solving them
aright.  Only the Omniscient fully knows the prupose of creation
and how that prupose may be achieved.  Through the
Prophets He shows to mankind the true goal of human life and
the right path of progress; and the building up of a true civilization
depends upon faithful adherence to the guidance of prophetic
Revelation.  Baha'u'llah says: --
     Religion is the greatest instrument for the order of
   the world and the tranquillity of all existent beings.  The
   weakening of the pillars of religion has encouraged the
   ignorant and rendered them audacious and arrogant.
   Truly I say, whatever lowers the lofty station of religion
   will increase heedlessness in the wicked, and finally result
   in anarchy. ...
     Consider the civilization of the people of the Occident
   -- how it has occasioned commotion and agitation to the
   people of the world.  Infernal instruments have been devised,
   and such atrocity is displayed in the destruction of
   life as has not been seen by the eye of the world, nor
   heard by the ear of nations.  It is impossible to reform
   these violent, overwhelming evils, except the peoples of
   the world become united upon a certain issue or under
   the shadow of One Religion. ...
     O people of Baha!  Each one of the revealed Commands
   is a might stronghold for the protection of the world. --
   Words of Paradise.
   The present state of Europe and of the world in general
eloquently confirms the truth of these words written so many
years ago.  Neglect of the prophetic commands and the prevalence
of irreligion have been accompanied by disorder and
destruction on the most terrible scale, and, without the change
of heart and aim which is the essential characteristic of true
religion, the reform of society seems an utter impossibility.
   In the little book of Hidden Words, in which Baha'u'llah
gives in brief the essence of the prophetic teachings, His first
counsel refers to the individual life:  "Possess a pure, kindly
and radiant heart."  The next indicates the fundamental principle
of true social life: --
     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 hten before
   thine eyes.
   The first essential of social life is that individuals should become
capable of discerning the true from the false and right
from wrong, and of seeing things in their true proportions.  The
greatest cause of spiritual and social blindness, and the greatest
foe of social progress, is selfishness.  Baha'u'llah says: --
     O ye sons of intelligence!  The thin eye lid prevents the
   eye from seeing the world and what is contained therein.
   Then think of the result when the curtain of greed covers
   the sight of the heart!
     O people!  The darkness of greed and envy obscures the
   light of the soul as the cloud prevents the penetration
   of the sun's rays.  (Tablet to some Persian Zoroastrian
   Long experience is at last convincing men of the truth of the
prophetic teaching that selfish views and selfish actions inevitably
bring social disaster, and that if humanity is not to perish
ingloriously, each must look on the things of his neighbor as
of equal importance with his own, and subordinate his own
interests to those of humanity as a whole.  In this way the
interests of each and all will ultimately be best served.
Baha'u'llah says: -- "O son of man!  If thine eyes be turned towards
mercy, forsake the things that proft thee, and cleave unto that
which will profit mankind.  And if thine eyes be turned towards
justice, choose thou for thy neighbor that which thou choosest
for thyself." -- Words of Paradise.
   The teachings of Baha'u'llah contain two different types of
reference to the question of true social order.  One type is
exemplified in the tablets revealed to the Kings, which deal
with the problem of government as existing in the world during
Baha'u'llah's life on earth; the other references are to the new
order to be developed within the Baha'i community itself.
   Hence arises the sharp contrast between such passages as:
"The one true God, exalted be His glory, hath ever regarded,
and will continue to regard, the hearts of men as His own, His
exclusive possession.  All else, whether pertaining to land or
sea, whether riches or glory, He hath bequeathed unto the
Kings and rulers of the earth"' and "It beseemeth all men, in
this Day, to take firm hold on the Most Great Name, and to
establish the unity of all mankind.  There is no place to flee to,
no refuge that any one can seek, except Him." -- Gleanings from
the Writings of Baha'u'llah, pp. 206, 203.
   The apparent incompatibility of these two views is removed
when we observe the distinction which Baha'u'llah makes between
the "Lesser Peace" and the "Most Great Peace."  In His
tablets to the Kings Baha'u'llah called upon them to assemble
and take measures for the maintenance of political peace, the
reduction of armaments and the removal of the burdens and
insecurity of the poor.  But His words make it perfectly clear
that their failure to respond to the needs of the time would
result in wars and revolutions leading to the overthrow of the
old order.  Therefore, on the one hand He said:  "What mankind
needeth in this day is obedience unto them that are in
authority," and on the other, "Those men who, having amassed
the vanities and ornaments of the earth, have turned away
disdainfully from God -- these have lost both this world and
the world to come.  Ere long, will God, with the Hand of
Power, strip them of their possessions, and divest them of the
robe of His bounty."  "We have a fixed time for you, O peoples.
If ye fail, at the appointed hour, to turn towards God, He, verily,
will lay violent hold on you, and will cause grievous
afflictions to assail you from every direction."  "The signs of impending
convulsions and chaos can now be discerned, inasmuch
as the prevailing order appeareth to be lamentably defective."
"We have pledged Ourselves to secure Thy triumph upon
earth and to exalt Our Cause above all men, though no king be
found who would turn his face towards Thee."  Gleanings from
the Writings of Baha'u'llah, pp. 207, 209, 214, 216, 248-249.
     The Great Being, wishing to reveal the prerequisites of
   the peace and tranquillity of the world and the advancement
   of its peoples, hath written:  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 tranquillity of the peoples of the earth, to be
   fully reconciled among themselves.  Should any kind take
   up arms against another, all should unitedly arise and prevent
   him. -- Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah,
   p. 249.
By such counsel, Baha'u'llah revealed the conditions under
which public responsibility must be discharged in this Day of
God.  Appealing for international solidarity on the one hand,
He no less clearly warned the rulers that continuance of strife
would destroy their power.  Now modern history confirms this
warning, in the rise of those coercive movements which in all
civilized nations have attained such destructive energy, and
in the development of warfare to the degree that victory is no
longer attainable by any party.  "Now that ye have refused the
Most Great Peace, hold ye fast unto this, the Lesser Peace,
that haply ye may in some degree better your own condition
and that of your dependents."  "That which the Lord hath
ordained as the sovereign remedy and mightiest instrument for
the healing of all the world is the union of all its peoples in one
universal Cause, one common Faith.  This can in no wise be
achieved except through the power of a skilled, an all-powerful
and inspired Physician." -- Gleanings from the Writings of
Baha'u'llah, pp. 254, 255.
   By the Lesser Peace is meant a political unity of states, while
the Most Great Peace is a unity embracing spiritual as well as
political and economic factors.  "Soon will the present-day
order be rolled up, and a new one spread out in its stead." --
Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 7.
   In former ages, a government could concern itself with
external matters and material affairs, but today the function of
government demands a quality of leadership, of consecration
and of spiritual knowledge impossible save to those who have
turned to God.