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Fire and Light

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This etext is based on:
"Fire and Light - Excerpts from the Bahá'í Sacred Writings"

Reproduced from BW Vol. 18 (1979-83) pages 9-38

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.
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1. Bahá'u'lláh

2. The Bab

3. 'Abdu'l-Bahá

4. Shoghi Effendi

 

I. EXCERPTS FROM THE BAHÁ'Í SACRED WRITINGS

1. BAHÁ'U'LLÁH Excerpts from Fire and Light

I.

All praise be to God Who, from every drop of blood shed by His chosen ones, hath brought forth a vast creation whose number none but Himself can reckon. He hath raised them to be the embodiments of His love and the manifestations of His tender affection. It is they who are the hands of His Cause amongst men. It is they who have rendered aid unto God in every age and have arisen to promote that which He hath purposed in such wise that the majesty of the kings and their dreadful might have failed to affright them, nor have they been hindered from following the path of truth by the clash of arms and the furious clamour of battalions. They have raised their triumphal cry amidst all that dwell in the heavens and on the earth, summoning everyone unto the Lord of all mankind, He Who is the Ruler of this world and of the next, the God of the throne on high and of the earth below.

He is God -- Blessed and Exalted is He

All praise unto the Almighty the Sanctified -- glorified be His power -- Who hath ordained that the tyranny of the unjust and the violence of the oppressors should become the means whereby the true lovers draw nigh unto the glorious habitation of the Best Beloved and the sincere among His servants attain the Paradise of communion with Him Who is the Desire of all men, and that sufferings and tribulations should serve as the instrument whereby His Word of command is spread abroad and the standards of His praise are unfurled in all regions.

How great is His transcendent power, how immensely exalted His all-embracing Will, inasmuch as He produceth light from fire and joy from sorrow.

They that are sunk in heedlessness fondly imagine that massacre and crucifixion cause the fire of the Word of God to be extinguished, and regard martyrdom as a devastating injury. They are utterly oblivious of the truth that through such afflictions the Cause of God is exalted, its fame is blazoned far and wide, and the martyrs themselves are enabled to attain the boundless retreats of nearness unto God. Immeasurably exalted is the Lord of Wisdom who doeth that which He willeth and ordaineth whatsoever He pleaseth.

In the Name of the Loving Friend O MOTHER! Grieve not over the loss of thy son; rather pride thyself therein. Indeed this is an occasion for gladness and rejoicing, not for despondency and sorrow.

I swear by the Day-Star of the morn of Truth that thy son hath attained a station such as no pen can depict, nor words adequately describe. His habitation is the realm on high, his associates and companions are sanctified and detached souls, and his sustenance the imperishable and hidden blessings of the Lord. In truth were that lofty and glorious station to be revealed to an extent smaller than a needle's eye before the eyes of them that dwell on earth, they would, one and all, be so filled with joy and ecstasy as to be consumed thereby. Therefore think not that he hath perished. Indeed he will endure in the heavenly kingdom as long as God Himself endureth. And this calleth for gratitude, not grieving. When he findeth that thou art happy he becometh more cheerful, but when he perceiveth that thou art disconsolate, this provoketh anguish in his heart.

Busy thyself in the remembrance of God and unloose thy tongue in celebrating His praise with utmost joy and radiance. God, the Exalted, the True is with thee. He is kinder than a father and more compassionate than a son.

Call thou to mind the episode of the land of Taf (Karbila), when a mother sent forth her son who laid down his life in the path of the Beloved. This Day is the king of days. It behoveth thee to show forth such deeds as will distinguish thee from the women of a bygone age. Such beseemeth the servants and maid-servants of God. Be thou resigned to His good-pleasure and seek communion with Him.

At this moment the entire company of the Concourse on high are engaged in extolling the virtues of thy son and in acclaiming his attributes. If thou couldst hear, thou wouldst, in thy longing, wing thy flight unto God, the Incomparable, the All-Informed. The day is not far distant when all the dwellers of the earth will magnify his praise and seek blessings from his dust. Verily incalculable is the bounty of thy Lord. Seize thy chance and be of them that endure with patience.

IV

Nothing hath ever happened nor will happen without a cause or effect. Reflect a while and consider how vast the number of the people that have perished, how numerous the cities and towns that have been reduced to dust and now appear as a level plain. Such is their plight now and only God knoweth the future and that which will come to pass.

Think not that in this turmoil the friends of God have perished by the sword of the oppressors. I swear by the Day-Star of the Kingdom of truth that any of the loved ones of God that hath quaffed the cup of martyrdom during that episode hath ascended unto the realms above and doth abide securely beneath the canopy of the tender mercy of God. Indeed if those sublime stations were unveiled before the gaze of men, even to the extent of a needle's eye, everyone would raise his voice and exclaim: 'Would that I had been with him!' And if any of the friends hath suffered a material loss, such a loss is and will always be a perfect gain. The people of Baha enjoy utmost benefits, at all times. If at some time or other, according to the dictates of God's inscrutable wisdom, one should incur a certain loss, let not this cause distress. Surely God will glorify it into a gift of inestimable gain. Verily, He is the Lord of Truth, the Powerful, the Knowing, the Wise.

V

You should exhort all the friends to patience, to acquiescence, and to tranquillity, saying: O ye loved ones of God in that land! Ye are glorified in all the worlds of God because of your relationship to Him Who is the Eternal Truth, but in your lives on this earthly plane, which pass away as a fleeting moment, ye are inflicted with abasement. For the sake of the One True God, ye have been reviled and persecuted, ye have been imprisoned, and surrendered your lives in His path. Ye should not, however, by reason of the tyrannical acts of some heedless souls, transgress the limits of God's commandments by contending with anyone.

Whatever hath befallen you, hath been for the sake of God. This is the truth, and in this there is no doubt. You should, therefore, leave all your affairs in His Hands, place your trust in Him, and rely upon Him. He will assuredly not forsake you. In this, likewise, there is no doubt. No father will surrender his sons to devouring beasts; no shepherd will leave his flock to ravening wolves. He will most certainly do his utmost to protect his own.

If, however, for a few days, in compliance with God's all-encompassing wisdom, outward affairs should run their course contrary to one's cherished desire, this is of no consequence and should not matter. Our intent is that all the friends should fix their gaze on the Supreme Horizon, and cling to that which hath been revealed in the Tablets. They should strictly avoid sedition, and refrain from treading the path of dissension and strife. They should champion their One True God, exalted be He, through the hosts of forbearance. of submission, of an upright character, of goodly deeds, and of the choicest and most refined words.

They that yearn for the abode of the Beloved, they that circle round the sanctuary of the Desired One, are not apprehensive of trials and adversities, nor do they flee away from that which is ordained by God. They receive their portion from the ocean of resignation and drink their fill from the soft-flowing stream of His mercy. They would not surrender the good-pleasure of the Friend in exchange for the kingdom of both worlds, nor would they barter that which the Well-Beloved hath decreed in return for dominion over the realms of the infinite. They would eagerly drink the venom of woe as if it were the water of life and would drain deadly poison to its bitter dregs just as a sweet and life-giving draught. In the arid wastes of desolation they are stirred with enthusiasm through the remembrance of the Friend, and in the dreary wilds of adversity they are eager and impatient to offer themselves as a sacrifice. Unhesitatingly have they renounced their lives and directed their steps towards the abode of the Best Beloved. They have closed their eyes to the world and fixed their gaze upon the beauteous countenance of the Friend, cherishing no desire but the presence of the loved One and seeking no attainment save reunion with Him. They fly with the feathers of trust in God. and soar with the wings of adherence unto His Will. In their estimation a blood-shedding blade is more desirable than finest silk and a piercing dart more acceptable than mother's milk.

"'High-spirited souls by the myriad are deemed necessary in this path. To lay down a hundred lives with every fleeting breath.'"

It behoveth us to kiss the hand of the would-be assassin and to set out, dancing, on our way to the habitation of the Friend. How indescribably pleasant is that hour, how immeasurably sweet that moment when the inmost spirit is intent upon sacrificing itself, when the tabernacle of fidelity is hastening to attain the heights of self-surrender! With necks laid bare, we yearn for the stroke of the ruthless sword wielded by the hand of the Beloved. With breasts aglow with light, we eagerly await the dart of His decree. Contemptuous of name, we have detached ourselves from all else but Him, we shall not run away, we shall not endeavour to repel the stranger, we pray for calamity, that thereby we may soar unto the sublime heights of the spirit, seek shelter beneath the shade of the tree of reunion, attain the highest stations of love, and drink our fill from the wondrous wine of everlasting communion with Him. Surely we will not forfeit this imperishable dominion, nor will we forgo this incomparable blessing. If hidden beneath the dust. we shall rear our heads from the bosom of the tender mercy of the Lord of mankind. No trial can suppress these companions, no mortal feet can traverse this journey, nor can any veil obscure this countenance.

Yea, it is clear and evident that in view of the multitudes of internal and external opponents who have raised the standards of opposition, who have girded the loins of endeavour to eliminate these poor creatures, it standeth to reason that one should turn away from them and flee from this land, nay, from the face of the earth. However, through the lovingkindness of God and by the aid of His invisible confirmations, we are as radiant as the sun and as shining as the moon. We are established upon the throne of tranquillity and seated upon the couch of fortitude. Of what importance is the shipwreck to the fish of the spirit? What doth a soul celestial care if the physical frame is destroyed? Indeed this body is for it a prison; and the ship but a place of confinement to the fish. What else but a nightingale can understand a Nightingale's melody and who else but the intimate friend can recognize the familiar voice of the Friend?

VII

The majesty and glory of the Cause are as great as its trials and afflictions are intense. However, trials and afflictions are scarce noticed in this day, inasmuch as the heaven of divine bounty is uplifted and the ocean of His loving kindness is manifest. If on the one hand cups of bitter woe and suffering are seen. on the other He Who is the Abha Beauty is proffering, with His Own hand that hath turned white, the chalice of everlasting life. Though the croaking of the Raven is loud. the river of His choice wine is streaming forth. In one of the Tablets the following utterances were sent down by the Revealer of Verses -- glorified and exalted be His Words:

Say, O ye chosen of the one true God! Let not the censure of the froward, nor the denunciations uttered by them that have repudiated His Cause, grieve you; inasmuch as such acts of opposition have, from time immemorial, served as clear proofs of the truth of Him Who is the True One -- magnified be His glory. Therefore should ye hear an unseemly word from an ignorant, foolish or negligent soul, be sure that it can never do harm, for the day is not far distant when such persons and whatsoever pertaineth unto them will have passed away, whereas ye yourselves have been honoured in this day to drink your fill from the living waters of the holy utterances revealed by the All-Merciful and to hearken unto the words: 'Ye are of My company.' Thereupon one of the favoured angels that are nigh unto God and circle round His throne uttered this supplication: 'O my Lord and my Master! O my Desired One and my Best Beloved! O Thou who art the Beloved of all that are in the heavens and on the earth! I beseech Thee to grant, from the ocean of Thy bounty and the day-star of Thy heavenly grace, that I may be cursed, reviled and denounced a myriad times for the sake' of Thy love, that these ears of mine may but once be blessed by hearing Thy sweet words: "Verily thou art of the people of Baha".'

Most of the people of the earth have turned away from the one true God and failed to take their portion from the ocean of divine knowledge. They have ascribed and will continue to ascribe unto Him that which hath caused the inmates of the all-highest Paradise as well as the Prophets and Messengers of God to weep sore and wail. This is not the first divine Revelation that hath been manifested in the world. They that are the chosen ones of God should at all times and under all conditions dedicate themselves assiduously to the service of His Cause. Rumi -- upon him be the mercy of God -- saith: 'the moon sheddeth light while the dog howleth.' It behoveth everyone to have the utmost regard for the reformation of the world and for that which beseemeth man's sublime station. However, should the continued existence of anyone be detrimental to the interests of the Cause of God, the Almighty will undoubtedly lay hold on him as He hath in the past. No one hath fathomed nor can fathom His transcendent wisdom.

VIII

A praise, exalted above every conception that pen and ink can portray, beseemeth the sublime, the ever-blessed court of the Well-Beloved Who hath initiated the people of Baha into the school of adversity and directed their steps towards the realm of immortality. Glorified, immensely glorified is the omnipotent Lord Who hath made blood as a means to cause the trees of the exalted Paradise to grow and burst forth, and Who hath ordained that trials and afflictions, though bitter and agonizing, should prove sweeter than sugar to the taste of His loved ones. So strong are the bonds of love for this Well-Beloved that adversities and tribulations have been and will ever be powerless to deflect His ardent lovers from treading His Path.

I swear by Him Who is Our Beloved and your Beloved, that if one's life be not offered up in His path, it would not be worth even as much as a mustard seed, and if one's inmost being were not laid down at His feet, it would appear more abject and insignificant than a pebble. However, none but the divine Assayers are able to recognize this gem. In truth, when bereft of vision, what advantage would one gain by entering into the all-highest Paradise? If destitute of hearing, what can one perceive by drawing close unto the celestial Tree of Blessedness? The Assayers of these priceless gems are such souls unto whom the following tribute is paid: 'They that speak not till He hath spoken and act according to His commandment.' Likewise He saith: 'They whom neither merchandise nor traffic beguile from the remembrance of the Almighty.'

Is it fondly imagined that death shall not overtake everyone? Nay, by God! 'Every soul shall taste of death.' Such being the case, it would certainly be far better and more fitting if this mortal life were offered up in the path of the Beloved, and sacrificed for the sake of Him Who is the ultimate Desire of all men. Nay, I beg forgiveness of God for this assertion. inasmuch as this sacrifice would be a myriad times more preferable and fitting. Even for this assertion. I once again implore pardon of God.

I earnestly hope and pray that the one true God -- magnified be His glory -- may graciously brighten the eyes of all men with the collyrium of His knowledge, that they may be enabled to discern with both their inner and outer eyes that which the victims of evil passions and corrupt desires are debarred from seeing and recognizing.

Salutation and praise rest upon them that have not been kept back by any transitory thing whatever, nor have been alarmed by the violent commotions provoked by the people of the earth -- such people as are immersed in the pursuit of earthly vanities and have been deluded by the gay livery of the world, in such wise that they have cast the Cause of God behind their backs. The day is fast approaching when He will have rolled up their domain and spread out a new one in its stead. Verily, He is the One, the Peerless. the Powerful, the Invincible, the Almighty.

IX

If occasionally, in accordance with the exigencies of God's consummate wisdom, an untoward incident should befall the friends, it would undoubtedly serve as a means whereby divine gifts and heaven-sent bounties will be vouchsafed unto them. Ponder thou upon the tragic episode that hath transpired in the land of Ya (Yazd). I swear by My life, every single event associated therewith hath led to the exaltation of the Word of God and the advancement of His Cause. Indeed whatsoever doth happen during the days of the Manifestation of God, though to outward seeming it is but grievous abasement, there lieth concealed within it incalculable glory and honour; and though it appeareth as dire torment, in reality a myriad blessings are enshrined therein.

If those that have erred grievously were aware of the hidden mysteries of martyrdom. they would in no wise commit such deeds. However, God hath caused them to be tongue-tied and bereft of sight, with their minds and power of perception reduced to naught, in such wise that they deem a priceless benefit a grievous loss. With their own hands they help the Cause of God, though they themselves are wholly unconscious of it. Verily God would at one time render His Cause victorious through the aid of His enemies and at another by virtue of the assistance of His chosen ones. Concerning those pure and blessed souls, Our Pen of Glory hath revealed that which excelleth the whole world, its treasures and whatsoever existeth therein. Ere long shall the heedless and the doers of wickedness be repaid for that which their hands have wrought.

The people of the world have grievously erred, for they fondly imagine that they can exterminate the Cause of God, that they would be able to extinguish His effulgent light, and to put out His heavenly lamps. Vain indeed are their imaginings. I swear by the righteousness of God that the more they endeavour to quench His Light, the brighter will it shine, and the more they strive to smother its flame. the fiercer will it burn. God's invincible Will far transcendeth their devices, and His Purpose is supreme above all human desires, inasmuch as all that is in the heavens and all that is on the earth have been called into being through a single holy breeze  -- the Word of His command -- wafted from His presence, and all shall be brought to naught through but one letter of His. From time immemorial He hath been established upon the seat of His sovereignty and through eternity will He continue to occupy the inaccessible heights of His glory. Every created thing is impotent before the evidences of His invincible might. and all beings fade into utter nothingness when confronted with the revelation of His awesome majesty.

The eyes of His loved ones have always wept sore, while His enemies have rejoiced and made merry by reason of their heedlessness. However, that weeping was followed by a myriad blessings and this jubilation by grievous retribution. Ere long the fruits of these two shall appear from the tree of His irrevocable Decree. Therefore how justifiably proud must be the eye which is worthy of shedding tears and how great the felicity of the neck that is fit to be ensnared in the noose of the Friend.

XI

O God, my God! Thou seest Thy loved ones turning their hearts to Thee, and holding fast unto the cord of Thy ordinances and laws. I beseech Thee by the waves of the sea of Thine utterance, and by Him through whom Thou didst adorn the heavens of Thy might, to graciously protect them by the aid of Thy hosts.

O God! Thou beholdest Thy lovers in Iran in the clutches of hate and enmity. I beg of Thee, by Thy mercy which hath preceded the contingent world, to raise up from the earth those who will be moved to aid and protect them, and to preserve their rights and the restitution due to them by those who broke Thy Covenant and Testament, and perpetrated such acts as made the inmates of the cities of Thy justice and equity to lament. Thou art, verily, the All-Powerful, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.

2. THE BÁB

Excerpts from Selection from the Writings of the Bab

I

The substance wherewith God hath created Me is not the clay out of which others have been formed. He hath conferred upon Me that which the worldly-wise can never comprehend, nor the faithful discover .. . I am one of the sustaining pillars of the Primal Word of God. Whosoever hath recognized Me, hath known all that is true and right, and hath attained all that is good and seemly; and whosoever hath failed to recognize Me, hath turned away from all that is true and right and hath succumbed to everything evil and unseemly.

I swear by the righteousness of Thy Lord, the Lord of all created things, the Lord of all the worlds! Were a man to rear in this world as many edifices as possible and worship God through every virtuous deed which God's knowledge embraceth, and attain the presence of the Lord, and were he, even to a measure less than that which is accountable before God, to bear in his heart a trace of malice towards Me, all his deeds would be reduced to naught and he would be deprived of the glances of God's favour, become the object of His wrath and assuredly perish. For God hath ordained that all the good things which lie in the treasury of His knowledge shall be attained through obedience unto Me, and every fire recorded in His Book, through disobedience unto Me. Methinks in this day and from this station I behold all those who cherish My love and follow My behest abiding within the mansionS of Paradise, and the entire company of Mine adversaries consigned to the lowest depths of hell-fire . . .

II

I swear by the Most Great Lord! Wert thou to be told in what place I dwell, the first person to have mercy on Me would be thyself. In the heart of a mountain is a fortress [Maku] . . . the inmates of which are confined to two guards and four dogs. Picture, then, My plight . . .I swear by the truth of God! Were he who hath been willing to treat Me in such a manner to know Who it is Whom he hath so treated, he, verily, would never in his life be happy. Nay -- I, verily, acquaint thee with the truth of the matter -- it is as if he hath imprisoned all the Prophets, and all the men of truth and all the chosen ones . . .

When this decree was made known unto Me, I wrote to him who administereth the affairs of the kingdom, saying: 'Put Me to death, I adjure thee by God, and send My head wherever thou pleasest. For surely an innocent person such as I, cannot reconcile himself to being consigned to a place reserved for criminals and let his life continue.' My plea remained unanswered. Evidently His Excellency the Haji, is not fully aware of the truth of our Cause. It would be far more heinous a deed to sadden the hearts of the faithful, whether men or women, than to lay waste the sacred House of God.

Verily, the One True God beareth Me witness that in this Day I am the true mystic Fane of God, and the Essence of all good. He who doeth good unto Me, it is as if he doeth good unto God, His angels and the entire company of His loved ones. He who doeth evil unto Me, it is as if he doeth evil unto God and His chosen ones. Nay, too exalted is the station of God and of His loved ones for any person's good or evil deed to reach their holy threshold. Whatever reacheth Me is ordained to reach Me; and that which hath come unto Me, to him who giveth will it revert. By the One in Whose hand is My soul, he hath cast no one but himself into prison. For assuredly whatsoever God hath decreed for Me shall come to pass and naught else save that which God hath ordained for us shall ever touch us. Woe betide him from whose hands floweth evil, and blessed the man from whose hands floweth good. Unto no one do I take My plaint save to God; for He is the best of judges. Every state of adversity or bliss is from Him alone, and He is the All-Powerful, the Almighty . . .

III

O peoples of the earth! Verily the resplendent Light of God hath appeared in your midst, invested with this unerring Book, that ye may be guided aright to the ways of peace and, by the leave of God, step out of the darkness into the light and onto this far-extended Path of Truth . . . Chapter LXII, Qayyúmu'l-Asmá.

IV

Consider the manifold favours vouchsafed by the Promised One, and the effusions of His bounty which have pervaded the concourse of the followers of Islam to enable them to attain unto salvation. Indeed observe how He Who representeth the origin of creation, He Who is the Exponent of the verse, 'I, in very truth, am God', identified Himself as the Gate [Bab] for the advent of the promised Qá'im, a descendant of Muhammad, and in His first Book enjoined the observance of the laws of the Qur'án, so that the people might not be seized with perturbation by reason of a new Book and a new Revelation and might regard His Faith as similar to their own, perchance they would not turn away from the Truth and ignore the thing for which they had been called into being.

V

Thou seest, O my Lord, my dwelling-place in the heart of this mountain and Thou dost witness my forbearance. Verily I have desired naught else but Thy love and the love of those who love Thee. How can I extol the effulgent beauty of Thy Lordship, conscious as I am of my nothingness before the habitation of Thy glory? Yet the sorrow of solitude and loneliness prompteth me to invoke Thee through this prayer, perchance Thy trusted servants may become aware of my lamentations, may supplicate unto Thee on my behalf, and Thou wouldst graciously answer their prayers as a token of Thy grace and Thy favour. I bear witness that there is no God but Thee, inasmuch as Thou art invested with sovereignty, grandeur, glory and power which no one among Thy servants can visualize or comprehend. Indeed Thou shalt, by virtue of that which is inherent in Thine Essence, ever remain inscrutable unto all except Thyself.

VI

Is there any Remover of difficulties save God? Say: Praised be God! He is God! All are His servants and all abide by His bidding!

VII

He is God, the Sovereign Lord, the All-Glorious

Say Praise be to God Who graciously enableth whomsoever He willeth to adore Him. Verily no God is there but Him. His are the most excellent titles; it is He Who causeth His Word to be fulfilled as He pleaseth and it is He Who leadeth those who have received illumination and seek the way of righteousness.

Fear thou God, thy Lord, and make mention of His Name in the day-time and at eventide. Follow not the promptings of the faithless, lest thou be reckoned among the exponents of idle fancies. Faithfully obey the Primal Point Who is the Lord Himself, and be of the righteous. Let nothing cause thee to be sore shaken, neither let the things which have been destined to take place in this Cause disturb thee. Strive earnestly for the sake of God and walk in the path of righteousness. Shouldst thou encounter the unbelievers, place thy whole trust in God, thy Lord, saying, Sufficient is God unto me in the kingdoms of both this world and the next.

The Day is approaching when God shall bring the faithful together. In truth no God is there other than Him.

May the peace of God be with those who have been guided aright through the power of divine guidance.

VIII

O Lord! Render victorious Thy forbearing servants in Thy days by granting them a befitting victory, inasmuch as they have sought martyrdom in Thy path. Send down upon them that which will bring comfort to their minds, will rejoice their inner beings, will impart assurance to their hearts and tranquillity to their bodies and will enable their souls to ascend to the presence of God, the Most Exalted, and to attain the supreme Paradise  17  and such retreats of glory as Thou hast destined for men of true knowledge and virtue. Verily Thou knowest all things, while we are but Thy servants, Thy thralls, Thy bondsmen and Thy poor ones. No Lord but Thee do we invoke, O God our Lord, nor do we implore blessings or grace from anyone but Thee, O Thou Who art the God of mercy unto this world and the next. We are but the embodiments of poverty, of nothingness, of helplessness and of perdition, while Thy whole Being betokeneth wealth, independence, glory, majesty and boundless grace.

Turn our recompense, O Lord, into that which well beseemeth Thee of the good of this world and of the next, and of the manifold bounties which extend from on high down to the earth below.

Verily Thou art our Lord and the Lord of all things. Into Thy hands do we surrender ourselves, yearning for the things that pertain unto Thee.

IX

Glory be unto Thee, O Lord! Although Thou mayest cause a person to be destitute of all earthly possessions, and from the beginning of his life until his ascension unto Thee he may be reduced to poverty through the operation of Thy decree, yet wert Thou to have brought him forth from the Tree of Thy love, such a bounty would indeed be far better for him than all the things Thou hast created in heaven and earth and whatsoever lieth between them; inasmuch as he will inherit the heavenly home, through the revelation of Thy favours, and will partake of the goodly gifts Thou hast provided therein; for the things which are with Thee are inexhaustible. This indeed is Thy blessing which according to the good-pleasure of Thy Will Thou dost bestow on those who tread the path of Thy love.

How numerous the souls who in former times were put to death for Thy sake, and in whose names all men now pride themselves; and how vast the number of those whom Thou didst enable to acquire earthly fortunes, and who amassed them while they were deprived of Thy Truth, and who in this day have passed into oblivion. Theirs is a grievous chastisement and a dire punishment.

O Lord! Provide for the speedy growth of the Tree of Thy divine Unity; water it then, O Lord, with the flowing waters of Thy good-pleasure, and cause it, before the revelations of Thy divine assurance, to yield such fruits as Thou desirest for Thy glorification and exaltation, Thy praise and thanksgiving, and to magnify Thy Name, to laud the oneness of Thine Essence and to offer adoration unto Thee, inasmuch as all this lieth within Thy grasp and in that of none other.

Great is the blessedness of those whose blood Thou hast chosen wherewith to water the Tree of Thine affirmation, and thus to exalt Thy holy and immutable Word.

Ordain for me, O my Lord, and for those who believe in Thee that which is deemed best for us in Thine estimation, as set forth in the Mother Book, for within the grasp of Thy hand Thou holdest the determined measures of all things ....

X

True death is realized when a person dieth to himself at the time of His Revelation in such wise that he seeketh naught except Him.

XI

. . . When God sent forth His Prophet Muhammad, on that day the termination of the prophetic cycle was foreordained in the knowledge of God. Yea, that promise hath indeed come true and the decree of God hath been accomplished as He hath ordained. Assuredly we are today living in the Days of God. These are the glorious days on the like of which the sun hath never risen in the past. These are the days which the people in bygone times eagerly expected. What hath then befallen you that ye are fast asleep? These are the days wherein God hath caused the Day-Star of Truth to shine resplendent. What hath then caused you to keep your silence? These are the appointed days which ye have been yearningly awaiting in the past -- the days of the advent of divine justice. Render ye thanks unto God, O ye concourse of believers.

Let not the deeds of those who reject the Truth shut you out as by a veil. Such people have warrant over your bodies only, and God hath not reposed in them power over your spirits, your souls and your hearts. Fear ye God that haply it may be well with you. All things have been created for your sakes, and for the sake of naught else hath your creation been ordained. Fear ye God and take heed lest forms and apparels debar you from recognizing Him. Render ye thanksgiving unto God that perchance He may deal mercifully with you.

This mortal life is sure to perish; its pleasures are bound to fade away and ere long ye shall return unto God, distressed with pangs of remorse, for presently ye shall be roused from your slumber, and ye shall soon find yourselves in the presence of God and will be asked of your doings ....

These verses, clear and conclusive, are a token of the mercy of thy Lord and a source of guidance for all mankind. They are a light unto those who believe in them and a fire of afflictive torment for those who turn away and reject them.

XII

Lauded be Thy Name, O Lord our God! Thou art in truth the Knower of things unseen. Ordain for us such good as Thine all-embracing knowledge can measure. Thou art the sovereign Lord, the Almighty, the Best Beloved.

All praise be unto Thee, O Lord! We shall seek Thy grace on the appointed Day and shall put our whole reliance in Thee, Who art our Lord. Glorified art Thou, O God! Grant us that which is good and seemly that we may be able to dispense with everything but Thee. Verily Thou art the Lord of all worlds.

O God! Recompense those who endure patiently in Thy days and strengthen their hearts to walk undeviatingly in the path of Truth. Grant then. O Lord, such goodly gifts as would enable them to gain admittance into Thy blissful Paradise. Exalted art Thou, O Lord God. Let Thy heavenly blessings descend upon homes whose inmates have believed in Thee. Verily, unsurpassed art Thou in sending down divine blessings. Send forth, O God, such hosts as would render Thy faithful servants victorious. Thou dost fashion the created things through the power of Thy decree as Thou pleasest. Thou art in truth the Sovereign, the Creator, the All-Wise.

Say: God is indeed the Maker of all things. He giveth sustenance in plenty to whomsoever He willeth. He is the Creator, the Source of all beings, the Fashioner, the Almighty, the Maker, the All-Wise. He is the Bearer of the most excellent titles throughout the heavens and the earth and whatever lieth between them. All do His bidding, and all the dwellers of earth and heaven celebrate His praise, and unto Him shall all return.

XIII

How numerous the souls raised to life who were exposed to dire humiliation in Thy Path for exalting Thy Word and for glorifying Thy divine Unity! How profuse the blood that hath been shed for the sake of Thy Faith to vindicate the authenticity of Thy divine Mission and to celebrate Thy praise! How vast the possessions that were wrongfully seized in the Path of Thy love in order to affirm the loftiness of Thy sanctity and to extol Thy glorious Name! How many the feet that have trodden upon the dust in order to magnify Thy holy Word and to extol Thy glory! How innumerable the voices that were raised in lamentation, the hearts that were struck with terror, the grievous woes that none other than Thee can reckon, and the adversities and afflictions that remain inscrutable to anyone except Thyself; all this to establish, O my God, the loftiness of Thy sanctity and to demonstrate the transcendent character of Thy glory.

These decrees were ordained by Thee so that all created things might bear witness that they have been brought into being for the sake of naught else but Thee. Thou hast withheld from them the things that bring tranquillity to their hearts, that they might know of a certainty that whatever is associated with Thy holy Being is far superior to and exalted above aught else that would satisfy them; inasmuch as Thine indomitable power pervadeth all things, and nothing can ever frustrate it.

Indeed Thou hast caused these momentous happenings to come to pass that those who are endued with perception may readily recognize that they were ordained by Thee to demonstrate the loftiness of Thy divine Unity and to affirm the exaltation of Thy sanctity.

XIV

Glory be unto Thee, O Lord, Thou Who has brought into being all created things, through the power of Thy behest. 

O Lord! Assist those who have renounced all else but Thee, and grant them a mighty victory. Send down upon them, O Lord, the concourse of the angels in heaven and earth and all that is between, to aid Thy servants, to succour and strengthen them, to enable them to achieve success, to sustain them, to invest them with glory, to confer upon them honour and exaltation, to enrich them and to make them triumphant with a wondrous triumph.

Thou art their Lord, the Lord of the heavens and the earth, the Lord of all the worlds. Strengthen this Faith, O Lord, through the power of these servants and cause them to prevail over all the peoples of the world; for they, of a truth, are Thy servants who have detached themselves from aught else but Thee, and Thou verily art the protector of true believers.

Grant Thou, O Lord, that their hearts may, through allegiance to this, Thine inviolable Faith, grow stronger than anything else in the heavens and on earth and in whatsoever is between them; and strengthen, O Lord, their hands with the tokens of Thy wondrous power that they may manifest Thy power before the gaze of all mankind.

XV

O Lord! Unto Thee I repair for refuge and toward all Thy signs I set my heart. O Lord! Whether travelling or at home, and in my occupation or in my work, I place my whole trust in Thee.

Grant me then Thy sufficing help so as to make me independent of all things, O Thou Who art unsurpassed in Thy mercy!

Bestow upon me my portion, O Lord, as Thou pleasest, and cause me to be satisfied with whatsoever Thou hast ordained for me.

Thine is the absolute authority to command.

XVI

O Lord! Thou art the Remover of every anguish and the Dispeller of every affliction. Thou art He Who banisheth every sorrow and setteth free every slave, the Redeemer of every soul. O Lord! Grant deliverance through Thy mercy and reckon me among such servants of

Thine as have gained salvation.

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3. 'ABDU'L-BAHÁ

Excerpts from Fire and Light

I

O Lord! These pure souls have ascended unto the realms on high. They have proved themselves nimble and sprightly in Thy service. They rid themselves of all, drew nigh unto Thee, and reached the Fountainhead of eternal life. They have now taken their flight from this world on the wings of longing and have attained Thy kingdom of glory. Gladden Thou their hearts in the world of the unseen and let them abide beneath the shadow of the tree of hope. Bestow upon them Thine infinite mercy and grant them Thy boundless pardon. Make them the signs of Thy forgiveness and the manifestations of Thy forbearance and bounty. Verily Thou art the Bestower, the Loving, the One Who forgiveth the sins of men.

II

O Lord! These stainless souls grew contemptuous of the world of dust and have ascended unto Thy kingdom. From this dreary world they have winged their flight unto the realm of resplendent glory. Weary and dejected they languished in this puny nest, eagerly waiting to set out for their celestial habitation. They moved swiftly and sped forth on their flight until they attained unto Thee. O Forgiving One! Grant them Thy forgiveness. O All-Loving One! Bestow upon them Thy tender care. O All-Sufficing One! Give them Thy bounty and be their comforter and companion. Thou art the Pardoner, the Resplendent, the Bestower, the Lord of Strength.

III

O forgiving Lord! These birds that sang Thy praise left their mortal remains buried in desolate tombs, and ascended with the wings of their spirits unto the Frequented Fane. They freed themselves from the pitfalls of this world of dust, so that they might partake of immortal life in the realms above, might seek shelter beneath the shadow of the tree of hope and abide in a nest upon the twigs of eternity in the Abha Paradise, the Kingdom on High, singing hymns of glory and praise in wondrous accents and sweet melodies.

O Thou kind Lord! These souls are the birds of Thy meadows, the nightingales of Thy rose-garden. Let them dwell within the orchard of Thy forgiveness and grant them access to the concourse wherein Thine eternal glory shineth resplendent, wherein Thy divine beauty is unveiled and perpetual communion with Thee is assured. Enable them to live eternally and to endure forevermore.