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God Passes By (part 2)

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Baha'u'llah's Banishment to Iraq


The return of Baha'u'llah from Sulaymaniyyih to Baghdad marks a turning point of the utmost significance in the history of the first Baha'i century. The tide of the fortunes of the Faith, having reached its lowest ebb, was now beginning to surge back, and was destined to roll on, steadily and mightily, to a new high water-mark, associated this time with the Declaration of His Mission, on the eve of His banishment to Constantinople. With His return to Baghdad a firm anchorage was now being established, an anchorage such as the Faith had never known in its history. Never before, except during the first three years of its life, could that Faith claim to have possessed a fixed and accessible center to which its adherents could turn for guidance, and from which they could derive continuous and unobstructed inspiration. No less than half of the Bab's short-lived ministry was spent on the remotest border of His native country, where He was concealed and virtually cut off from the vast majority of His disciples. The period immediately after His martyrdom was marked by a confusion that was even more deplorable than the isolation caused by His enforced captivity. Nor when the Revelation which He had foretold made its appearance was it succeeded by an immediate declaration that could enable the members of a distracted community to rally round the person of their expected Deliverer. The prolonged self-concealment of Mirza Yahya, the center provisionally appointed pending the manifestation of the Promised One; the nine months' absence of Baha'u'llah from His native land, while on a visit to Karbila, followed swiftly by His imprisonment in the Siyah-Chal, by His banishment to Iraq, and afterwards by His retirement to Kurdistan -- all combined to prolong the phase of instability and suspense through which the Babi community had to pass.

Now at last, in spite of Baha'u'llah's reluctance to unravel the mystery surrounding His own position, the Babis found themselves able to center both their hopes and their movements round One Whom they believed (whatever their views as to His station) capable of insuring the stability and integrity of their Faith. The orientation <p128> which the Faith had thus acquired and the fixity of the center towards which it now gravitated continued, in one form or another, to be its outstanding features, of which it was never again to be deprived.

The Faith of the Bab, as already observed, had, in consequence of the successive and formidable blows it had received, reached the verge of extinction. Nor was the momentous Revelation vouchsafed to Baha'u'llah in the Siyah-Chal productive at once of any tangible results of a nature that would exercise a stabilizing influence on a well-nigh disrupted community. Baha'u'llah's unexpected banishment had been a further blow to its members, who had learned to place their reliance upon Him. Mirza Yahya's seclusion and inactivity further accelerated the process of disintegration that had set in. Baha'u'llah's prolonged retirement to Kurdistan seemed to have set the seal on its complete dissolution.

Now, however, the tide that had ebbed in so alarming a measure was turning, bearing with it, as it rose to flood point, those inestimable benefits that were to herald the announcement of the Revelation already secretly disclosed to Baha'u'llah.

During the seven years that elapsed between the resumption of His labors and the declaration of His prophetic mission -- years to which we now direct our attention -- it would be no exaggeration to say that the Baha'i community, under the name and in the shape of a re-arisen Babi community was born and was slowly taking shape, though its Creator still appeared in the guise of, and continued to labor as, one of the foremost disciples of the Bab. It was a period during which the prestige of the community's nominal head steadily faded from the scene, paling before the rising splendor of Him Who was its actual Leader and Deliverer. It was a period in the course of which the first fruits of an exile, endowed with incalculable potentialities, ripened and were garnered. It was a period that will go down in history as one during which the prestige of a recreated community was immensely enhanced, its morals entirely reformed, its recognition of Him who rehabilitated its fortunes enthusiastically affirmed, its literature enormously enriched, and its victories over its new adversaries universally acknowledged.

The prestige of the community, and particularly that of Baha'u'llah, now began from its first inception in Kurdistan to mount in a steadily rising crescendo. Baha'u'llah had scarcely gathered up again the reins of the authority he had relinquished when the devout admirers He had left behind in Sulaymaniyyih started to flock to Baghdad, with the name of "Darvish Muhammad" on their lips, and the "house <p129> of Mirza Musa the Babi" as their goal. Astonished at the sight of so many ulamas and Sufis of Kurdish origin, of both the Qadiriyyih and Khalidiyyih Orders, thronging the house of Baha'u'llah, and impelled by racial and sectarian rivalry, the religious leaders of the city, such as the renowned Ibn-i-Alusi, the Mufti of Baghdad, together with Shaykh Abdu's-Salam, Shaykh Abdu'l-Qadir and Siyyid Dawudi, began to seek His presence, and, having obtained completely satisfying answers to their several queries, enrolled themselves among the band of His earliest admirers. The unqualified recognition by these outstanding leaders of those traits that distinguished the character and conduct of Baha'u'llah stimulated the curiosity, and later evoked the unstinted praise, of a great many observers of less conspicuous position, among whom figured poets, mystics and notables, who either resided in, or visited, the city. Government officials, foremost among whom were Abdu'llah Pasha and his lieutenant Mahmud Aqa, and Mulla Ali Mardan, a Kurd well-known in those circles, were gradually brought into contact with Him, and lent their share in noising abroad His fast-spreading fame. Nor could those distinguished Persians, who either lived in Baghdad and its environs or visited as pilgrims the holy places, remain impervious to the spell of His charm. Princes of the royal blood, amongst whom were such personages as the Na'ibu'l-Iyalih, the Shuja'u'd-Dawlih, the Sayfu'd-Dawlih, and Zaynu'l-Abidin Khan, the Fakhru'd-Dawlih, were, likewise, irresistibly drawn into the ever-widening circle of His associates and acquaintances.

Those who, during Baha'u'llah's two years' absence from Baghdad, had so persistently reviled and loudly derided His companions and kindred were, by now, for the most part, silenced. Not an inconsiderable number among them feigned respect and esteem for Him, a few claimed to be His defenders and supporters, while others professed to share His beliefs, and actually joined the ranks of the community to which He belonged. Such was the extent of the reaction that had set in that one of them was even heard to boast that, as far back as the year 1250 A.H. -- a decade before the Bab's Declaration -- he had already perceived and embraced the truth of His Faith!

Within a few years after Baha'u'llah's return from Sulaymaniyyih the situation had been completely reversed. The house of Sulayman-i-Ghannam, on which the official designation of the Bayt-i-Azam (the Most Great House) was later conferred, known, at that time, as the house of Mirza Musa, the Babi, an extremely modest residence, <p130> situated in the Karkh quarter, in the neighborhood of the western bank of the river, to which Baha'u'llah's family had moved prior to His return from Kurdistan, had now become the focal center of a great number of seekers, visitors and pilgrims, including Kurds, Persians, Arabs and Turks, and derived from the Muslim, the Jewish and Christian Faiths. It had, moreover, become a veritable sanctuary to which the victims of the injustice of the official representative of the Persian government were wont to flee, in the hope of securing redress for the wrongs they had suffered.

At the same time an influx of Persian Babis, whose sole object was to attain the presence of Baha'u'llah, swelled the stream of visitors that poured through His hospitable doors. Carrying back, on their return to their native country, innumerable testimonies, both oral and written, to His steadily rising power and glory, they could not fail to contribute, in a vast measure, to the expansion and progress of a newly-reborn Faith. Four of the Bab's cousins and His maternal uncle, Haji Mirza Siyyid Muhammad; a grand-daughter of Fath-'Ali Shah and fervent admirer of Tahirih, surnamed Varaqatu'r-Ridvan; the erudite Mulla Muhammad-i-Qa'ini, surnamed Nabil-i-Akbar; the already famous Mulla Sadiq-i-Khurasani, surnamed Ismu'llahu'l-Asdaq, who with Quddus had been ignominiously persecuted in Shiraz; Mulla Baqir, one of the Letters of the Living; Siyyid Asadu'llah, surnamed Dayyan; the revered Siyyid Javad-i-Karbila'i; Mirza Muhammad-Hasan and Mirza Muhammad-Husayn, later immortalized by the titles of Sultanu'sh-Shuhada and Mahbubu'sh-Shuhada (King of Martyrs and Beloved of Martyrs) respectively; Mirza Muhammad-'Aliy-i-Nahri, whose daughter, at a later date, was joined in wedlock to Abdu'l-Baha; the immortal Siyyid Isma'il-i-Zavari'i; Haji Shaykh Muhammad, surnamed Nabil by the Bab; the accomplished Mirza Aqay-i-Munir, surnamed Ismu'llahu'l-Munib; the long-suffering Haji Muhammad-Taqi, surnamed Ayyub; Mulla Zaynu'l-Abidin, surnamed Zaynu'l-Muqarrabin, who had ranked as a highly esteemed mujtahid -- all these were numbered among the visitors and fellow-disciples who crossed His threshold, caught a glimpse of the splendor of His majesty, and communicated far and wide the creative influences instilled into them through their contact with His spirit. Mulla Muhammad-i-Zarandi, surnamed Nabil-i-Azam, who may well rank as His Poet-Laureate, His chronicler and His indefatigable disciple, had already joined the exiles, and had launched out on his long and arduous series of journeys to Persia in furtherance of the Cause of his Beloved. <p131>

Even those who, in their folly and temerity had, in Baghdad, in Karbila, in Qum, in Kashan, in Tabriz and in Tihran, arrogated to themselves the rights, and assumed the title of "Him Whom God shall make manifest" were for the most part instinctively led to seek His presence, confess their error and supplicate His forgiveness. As time went on, fugitives, driven by the ever-present fear of persecution, sought, with their wives and children, the relative security afforded them by close proximity to One who had already become the rallying point for the members of a sorely-vexed community. Persians of high eminence, living in exile, rejecting, in the face of the mounting prestige of Baha'u'llah, the dictates of moderation and prudence, sat, forgetful of their pride, at His feet, and imbibed, each according to his capacity, a measure of His spirit and wisdom. Some of the more ambitious among them, such as Abbas Mirza, a son of Muhammad Shah, the Vazir-Nizam, and Mirza Malkam Khan, as well as certain functionaries of foreign governments, attempted, in their short-sightedness, to secure His support and assistance for the furtherance of the designs they cherished, designs which He unhesitatingly and severely condemned. Nor was the then representative of the British government, Colonel Sir Arnold Burrows Kemball, consul-general in Baghdad, insensible of the position which Baha'u'llah now occupied. Entering into friendly correspondence with Him, he, as testified by Baha'u'llah Himself, offered Him the protection of British citizenship, called on Him in person, and undertook to transmit to Queen Victoria any communication He might wish to forward to her. He even expressed his readiness to arrange for the transfer of His residence to India, or to any place agreeable to Him. This suggestion Baha'u'llah declined, choosing to abide in the dominions of the Sultan of Turkey. And finally, during the last year of His sojourn in Baghdad the governor Namiq-Pasha, impressed by the many signs of esteem and veneration in which He was held, called upon Him to pay his personal tribute to One Who had already achieved so conspicuous a victory over the hearts and souls of those who had met Him. So profound was the respect the governor entertained for Him, Whom he regarded as one of the Lights of the Age, that it was not until the end of three months, during which he had received five successive commands from Ali Pasha, that he could bring himself to inform Baha'u'llah that it was the wish of the Turkish government that He should proceed to the capital. On one occasion, when Abdu'l-Baha and Aqay-i-Kalim had been delegated by Baha'u'llah to visit him, he entertained them <p132> with such elaborate ceremonial that the Deputy-Governor stated that so far as he knew no notable of the city had ever been accorded by any governor so warm and courteous a reception. So struck, indeed, had the Sultan Abdu'l-Majid been by the favorable reports received about Baha'u'llah from successive governors of Baghdad (this is the personal testimony given by the Governor's deputy to Baha'u'llah himself) that he consistently refused to countenance the requests of the Persian government either to deliver Him to their representative or to order His expulsion from Turkish territory.

On no previous occasion, since the inception of the Faith, not even during the days when the Bab in Isfahan, in Tabriz and in Chihriq was acclaimed by the ovations of an enthusiastic populace, had any of its exponents risen to such high eminence in the public mind, or exercised over so diversified a circle of admirers an influence so far reaching and so potent. Yet unprecedented as was the sway which Baha'u'llah held while, in that primitive age of the Faith, He was dwelling in Baghdad, its range at that time was modest when compared with the magnitude of the fame which, at the close of that same age, and through the immediate inspiration of the Center of His Covenant, the Faith acquired in both the European and American continents.

The ascendancy achieved by Baha'u'llah was nowhere better demonstrated than in His ability to broaden the outlook and transform the character of the community to which He belonged. Though Himself nominally a Babi, though the provisions of the Bayan were still regarded as binding and inviolable, He was able to inculcate a standard which, while not incompatible with its tenets, was ethically superior to the loftiest principles which the Babi Dispensation had established. The salutary and fundamental truths advocated by the Bab, that had either been obscured, neglected or misrepresented, were moreover elucidated by Baha'u'llah, reaffirmed and instilled afresh into the corporate life of the community, and into the souls of the individuals who comprised it. The dissociation of the Babi Faith from every form of political activity and from all secret associations and factions; the emphasis placed on the principle of non-violence; the necessity of strict obedience to established authority; the ban imposed on all forms of sedition, on back-biting, retaliation, and dispute; the stress laid on godliness, kindliness, humility and piety, on honesty and truthfulness, chastity and fidelity, on justice, toleration, sociability, amity and concord, on the acquisition of arts and sciences, on self-sacrifice and detachment, on patience, steadfastness <p133> and resignation to the will of God -- all these constitute the salient features of a code of ethical conduct to which the books, treatises and epistles, revealed during those years, by the indefatigable pen of Baha'u'llah, unmistakably bear witness.

"By the aid of God and His divine grace and mercy," He Himself has written with reference to the character and consequences of His own labors during that period, "We revealed, as a copious rain, Our verses, and sent them to various parts of the world. We exhorted all men, and particularly this people, through Our wise counsels and loving admonitions, and forbade them to engage in sedition, quarrels, disputes or conflict. As a result of this, and by the grace of God, waywardness and folly were changed into piety and understanding, and weapons of war converted into instruments of peace." "Baha'u'llah," Abdu'l-Baha affirmed, "after His return (from Sulaymaniyyih) made such strenuous efforts in educating and training this community, in reforming its manners, in regulating its affairs and in rehabilitating its fortunes, that in a short while all these troubles and mischiefs were quenched, and the utmost peace and tranquillity reigned in men's hearts." And again: "When these fundamentals were established in the hearts of this people, they everywhere acted in such wise that, in the estimation of those in authority, they became famous for the integrity of their character, the steadfastness of their hearts, the purity of their motives, the praiseworthiness of their deeds, and the excellence of their conduct."

The exalted character of the teachings of Baha'u'llah propounded during that period is perhaps best illustrated by the following statement made by Him in those days to an official who had reported to Him that, because of the devotion to His person which an evildoer had professed, he had hesitated to inflict upon that criminal the punishment he deserved: "Tell him, no one in this world can claim any relationship to Me except those who, in all their deeds and in their conduct, follow My example, in such wise that all the peoples of the earth would be powerless to prevent them from doing and saying that which is meet and seemly." "This brother of Mine," He further declared to that official, "this Mirza Musa, who is from the same mother and father as Myself, and who from his earliest childhood has kept Me company, should he perpetrate an act contrary to the interests of either the state or religion, and his guilt be established in your sight, I would be pleased and appreciate your action were you to bind his hands and cast him into the river to drown, and refuse to consider the intercession of any one on his behalf." In another <p134> connection He, wishing to stress His strong condemnation of all acts of violence, had written: "It would be more acceptable in My sight for a person to harm one of My own sons or relatives rather than inflict injury upon any soul."

"Most of those who surrounded Baha'u'llah," wrote Nabil, describing the spirit that animated the reformed Babi community in Baghdad, "exercised such care in sanctifying and purifying their souls, that they would suffer no word to cross their lips that might not conform to the will of God, nor would they take a single step that might be contrary to His good-pleasure." "Each one," he relates, "had entered into a pact with one of his fellow-disciples, in which they agreed to admonish one another, and, if necessary, chastise one another with a number of blows on the soles of the feet, proportioning the number of strokes to the gravity of the offense against the lofty standards they had sworn to observe." Describing the fervor of their zeal, he states that "not until the offender had suffered the punishment he had solicited, would he consent to either eat or drink."

The complete transformation which the written and spoken word of Baha'u'llah had effected in the outlook and character of His companions was equalled by the burning devotion which His love had kindled in their souls. A passionate zeal and fervor, that rivalled the enthusiasm that had glowed so fiercely in the breasts of the Bab's disciples in their moments of greatest exaltation, had now seized the hearts of the exiles of Baghdad and galvanized their entire beings. "So inebriated," Nabil, describing the fecundity of this tremendously dynamic spiritual revival, has written, "so carried away was every one by the sweet savors of the Morn of Divine Revelation that, methinks, out of every thorn sprang forth heaps of blossoms, and every seed yielded innumerable harvests." "The room of the Most Great House," that same chronicler has recorded, "set apart for the reception of Baha'u'llah's visitors, though dilapidated, and having long since outgrown its usefulness, vied, through having been trodden by the blessed footsteps of the Well Beloved, with the Most Exalted Paradise. Low-roofed, it yet seemed to reach to the stars, and though it boasted but a single couch, fashioned from the branches of palms, whereon He Who is the King of Names was wont to sit, it drew to itself, even as a loadstone, the hearts of the princes."

It was this same reception room which, in spite of its rude simplicity, had so charmed the Shuja'u'd-Dawlih that he had expressed to his fellow-princes his intention of building a duplicate of it in his home in Kazimayn. "He may well succeed," Baha'u'llah is reported <p135> to have smilingly remarked when apprized of this intention, "in reproducing outwardly the exact counterpart of this low-roofed room made of mud and straw with its diminutive garden. What of his ability to open onto it the spiritual doors leading to the hidden worlds of God?" "I know not how to explain it," another prince, Zaynu'l-Abidin Khan, the Fakhru'd-Dawlih, describing the atmosphere which pervaded that reception-room, had affirmed, "were all the sorrows of the world to be crowded into my heart they would, I feel, all vanish, when in the presence of Baha'u'llah. It is as if I had entered Paradise itself."

The joyous feasts which these companions, despite their extremely modest earnings, continually offered in honor of their Beloved; the gatherings, lasting far into the night, in which they loudly celebrated, with prayers, poetry and song, the praises of the Bab, of Quddus and of Baha'u'llah; the fasts they observed; the vigils they kept; the dreams and visions which fired their souls, and which they recounted to each other with feelings of unbounded enthusiasm; the eagerness with which those who served Baha'u'llah performed His errands, waited upon His needs, and carried heavy skins of water for His ablutions and other domestic purposes; the acts of imprudence which, in moments of rapture, they occasionally committed; the expressions of wonder and admiration which their words and acts evoked in a populace that had seldom witnessed such demonstrations of religious transport and personal devotion -- these, and many others, will forever remain associated with the history of that immortal period, intervening between the birth hour of Baha'u'llah's Revelation and its announcement on the eve of His departure from Iraq.

Numerous and striking are the anecdotes which have been recounted by those whom duty, accident, or inclination had, in the course of these poignant years, brought into direct contact with Baha'u'llah. Many and moving are the testimonies of bystanders who were privileged to gaze on His countenance, observe His gait, or overhear His remarks, as He moved through the lanes and streets of the city, or paced the banks of the river; of the worshippers who watched Him pray in their mosques; of the mendicant, the sick, the aged, and the unfortunate whom He succored, healed, supported and comforted; of the visitors, from the haughtiest prince to the meanest beggar, who crossed His threshold and sat at His feet; of the merchant, the artisan, and the shopkeeper who waited upon Him and supplied His daily needs; of His devotees who had perceived the signs of His hidden glory; of His adversaries who were confounded <p136> or disarmed by the power of His utterance and the warmth of His love; of the priests and laymen, the noble and learned, who besought Him with the intention of either challenging His authority, or testing His knowledge, or investigating His claims, or confessing their shortcomings, or declaring their conversion to the Cause He had espoused.

From such a treasury of precious memories it will suffice my purpose to cite but a single instance, that of one of His ardent lovers, a native of Zavarih, Siyyid Isma'il by name, surnamed Dhabih (the Sacrifice), formerly a noted divine, taciturn, meditative and wholly severed from every earthly tie, whose self-appointed task, on which he prided himself, was to sweep the approaches of the house in which Baha'u'llah was dwelling. Unwinding his green turban, the ensign of his holy lineage, from his head, he would, at the hour of dawn, gather up, with infinite patience, the rubble which the footsteps of his Beloved had trodden, would blow the dust from the crannies of the wall adjacent to the door of that house, would collect the sweepings in the folds of his own cloak, and, scorning to cast his burden for the feet of others to tread upon, would carry it as far as the banks of the river and throw it into its waters. Unable, at length, to contain the ocean of love that surged within his soul, he, after having denied himself for forty days both sleep and sustenance, and rendering for the last time the service so dear to his heart, betook himself, one day, to the banks of the river, on the road to Kazimayn, performed his ablutions, lay down on his back, with his face turned towards Baghdad, severed his throat with a razor, laid the razor upon his breast, and expired. (1275 A.H.)

Nor was he the only one who had meditated such an act and was determined to carry it out. Others were ready to follow suit, had not Baha'u'llah promptly intervened, and ordered the refugees living in Baghdad to return immediately to their native land. Nor could the authorities, when it was definitely established that Dhabih had died by his own hand, remain indifferent to a Cause whose Leader could inspire so rare a devotion in, and hold such absolute sway over, the hearts of His lovers. Apprized of the apprehensions that episode had evoked in certain quarters in Baghdad, Baha'u'llah is reported to have remarked: "Siyyid Isma'il was possessed of such power and might that were he to be confronted by all the peoples of the earth, he would, without doubt, be able to establish his ascendancy over them." "No blood," He is reported to have said with reference to this same Dhabih, whom He extolled as "King and <p137> Beloved of Martyrs," "has, till now, been poured upon the earth as pure as the blood he shed."

"So intoxicated were those who had quaffed from the cup of Baha'u'llah's presence," is yet another testimony from the pen of Nabil, who was himself an eye-witness of most of these stirring episodes, "that in their eyes the palaces of kings appeared more ephemeral than a spider's web.... The celebrations and festivities that were theirs were such as the kings of the earth had never dreamt of." "I, myself with two others," he relates, "lived in a room which was devoid of furniture. Baha'u'llah entered it one day, and, looking about Him, remarked: 'Its emptiness pleases Me. In My estimation it is preferable to many a spacious palace, inasmuch as the beloved of God are occupied in it with the remembrance of the Incomparable Friend, with hearts that are wholly emptied of the dross of this world.'" His own life was characterized by that same austerity, and evinced that same simplicity which marked the lives of His beloved companions. "There was a time in Iraq," He Himself affirms, in one of His Tablets, "when the Ancient Beauty ... had no change of linen. The one shirt He possessed would be washed, dried and worn again."

"Many a night," continues Nabil, depicting the lives of those self-oblivious companions, "no less than ten persons subsisted on no more than a pennyworth of dates. No one knew to whom actually belonged the shoes, the cloaks, or the robes that were to be found in their houses. Whoever went to the bazaar could claim that the shoes upon his feet were his own, and each one who entered the presence of Baha'u'llah could affirm that the cloak and robe he then wore belonged to him. Their own names they had forgotten, their hearts were emptied of aught else except adoration for their Beloved.... O, for the joy of those days, and the gladness and wonder of those hours!"

The enormous expansion in the scope and volume of Baha'u'llah's writings, after His return from Sulaymaniyyih, is yet another distinguishing feature of the period under review. The verses that streamed during those years from His pen, described as "a copious rain" by Himself, whether in the form of epistles, exhortations, commentaries, apologies, dissertations, prophecies, prayers, odes or specific Tablets, contributed, to a marked degree, to the reformation and progressive unfoldment of the Babi community, to the broadening of its outlook, to the expansion of its activities and to the enlightenment of the minds of its members. So prolific was this period, that <p138> during the first two years after His return from His retirement, according to the testimony of Nabil, who was at that time living in Baghdad, the unrecorded verses that streamed from His lips averaged, in a single day and night, the equivalent of the Qur'an! As to those verses which He either dictated or wrote Himself, their number was no less remarkable than either the wealth of material they contained, or the diversity of subjects to which they referred. A vast, and indeed the greater, proportion of these writings were, alas, lost irretrievably to posterity. No less an authority than Mirza Aqa Jan, Baha'u'llah's amanuensis, affirms, as reported by Nabil, that by the express order of Baha'u'llah, hundreds of thousands of verses, mostly written by His own hand, were obliterated and cast into the river. "Finding me reluctant to execute His orders," Mirza Aqa Jan has related to Nabil, "Baha'u'llah would reassure me saying: 'None is to be found at this time worthy to hear these melodies.' ...Not once, or twice, but innumerable times, was I commanded to repeat this act." A certain Muhammad Karim, a native of Shiraz, who had been a witness to the rapidity and the manner in which the Bab had penned the verses with which He was inspired, has left the following testimony to posterity, after attaining, during those days, the presence of Baha'u'llah, and beholding with his own eyes what he himself had considered to be the only proof of the mission of the Promised One: "I bear witness that the verses revealed by Baha'u'llah were superior, in the rapidity with which they were penned, in the ease with which they flowed, in their lucidity, their profundity and sweetness to those which I, myself saw pour from the pen of the Bab when in His presence. Had Baha'u'llah no other claim to greatness, this were sufficient, in the eyes of the world and its people, that He produced such verses as have streamed this day from His pen."

Foremost among the priceless treasures cast forth from the billowing ocean of Baha'u'llah's Revelation ranks the Kitab-i-Iqan (Book of Certitude), revealed within the space of two days and two nights, in the closing years of that period (1278 A.H. -- 1862 A.D.). It was written in fulfillment of the prophecy of the Bab, Who had specifically stated that the Promised One would complete the text of the unfinished Persian Bayan, and in reply to the questions addressed to Baha'u'llah by the as yet unconverted maternal uncle of the Bab, Haji Mirza Siyyid Muhammad, while on a visit, with his brother, Haji Mirza Hasan-'Ali, to Karbila. A model of Persian prose, of a style at once original, chaste and vigorous, and remarkably lucid, both cogent in argument and matchless in its irresistible eloquence, <p139> this Book, setting forth in outline the Grand Redemptive Scheme of God, occupies a position unequalled by any work in the entire range of Baha'i literature, except the Kitab-i-Aqdas, Baha'u'llah's Most Holy Book. Revealed on the eve of the declaration of His Mission, it proffered to mankind the "Choice Sealed Wine," whose seal is of "musk," and broke the "seals" of the "Book" referred to by Daniel, and disclosed the meaning of the "words" destined to remain "closed up" till the "time of the end."

Within a compass of two hundred pages it proclaims unequivocally the existence and oneness of a personal God, unknowable, inaccessible, the source of all Revelation, eternal, omniscient, omnipresent and almighty; asserts the relativity of religious truth and the continuity of Divine Revelation; affirms the unity of the Prophets, the universality of their Message, the identity of their fundamental teachings, the sanctity of their scriptures, and the twofold character of their stations; denounces the blindness and perversity of the divines and doctors of every age; cites and elucidates the allegorical passages of the New Testament, the abstruse verses of the Qur'an, and the cryptic Muhammadan traditions which have bred those age-long misunderstandings, doubts and animosities that have sundered and kept apart the followers of the world's leading religious systems; enumerates the essential prerequisites for the attainment by every true seeker of the object of his quest; demonstrates the validity, the sublimity and significance of the Bab's Revelation; acclaims the heroism and detachment of His disciples; foreshadows, and prophesies the world-wide triumph of the Revelation promised to the people of the Bayan; upholds the purity and innocence of the Virgin Mary; glorifies the Imams of the Faith of Muhammad; celebrates the martyrdom, and lauds the spiritual sovereignty, of the Imam Husayn; unfolds the meaning of such symbolic terms as "Return," "Resurrection," "Seal of the Prophets" and "Day of Judgment"; adumbrates and distinguishes between the three stages of Divine Revelation; and expatiates, in glowing terms, upon the glories and wonders of the "City of God," renewed, at fixed intervals, by the dispensation of Providence, for the guidance, the benefit and salvation of all mankind. Well may it be claimed that of all the books revealed by the Author of the Baha'i Revelation, this Book alone, by sweeping away the age-long barriers that have so insurmountably separated the great religions of the world, has laid down a broad and unassailable foundation for the complete and permanent reconciliation of their followers.

Next to this unique repository of inestimable treasures must rank <p140> that marvelous collection of gem-like utterances, the "Hidden Words" with which Baha'u'llah was inspired, as He paced, wrapped in His meditations, the banks of the Tigris. Revealed in the year 1274 A.H., partly in Persian, partly in Arabic, it was originally designated the "Hidden Book of Fatimih," and was identified by its Author with the Book of that same name, believed by Shi'ah Islam to be in the possession of the promised Qa'im, and to consist of words of consolation addressed by the angel Gabriel, at God's command, to Fatimih, and dictated to the Imam Ali, for the sole purpose of comforting her in her hour of bitter anguish after the death of her illustrious Father. The significance of this dynamic spiritual leaven cast into the life of the world for the reorientation of the minds of men, the edification of their souls and the rectification of their conduct can best be judged by the description of its character given in the opening passage by its Author: "This is that which hath descended from the Realm of Glory, uttered by the tongue of power and might, and revealed unto the Prophets of old. We have taken the inner essence thereof and clothed it in the garment of brevity, as a token of grace unto the righteous, that they may stand faithful unto the Covenant of God, may fulfill in their lives His trust, and in the realm of spirit obtain the gem of Divine virtue."

To these two outstanding contributions to the world's religious literature, occupying respectively, positions of unsurpassed preeminence among the doctrinal and ethical writings of the Author of the Baha'i Dispensation, was added, during that same period, a treatise that may well be regarded as His greatest mystical composition, designated as the "Seven Valleys," which He wrote in answer to the questions of Shaykh Muhyi'd-Din, the Qadi of Khaniqayn, in which He describes the seven stages which the soul of the seeker must needs traverse ere it can attain the object of its existence.

The "Four Valleys," an epistle addressed to the learned Shaykh Abdu'r-Rahman-i-Karkuti; the "Tablet of the Holy Mariner," in which Baha'u'llah prophesies the severe afflictions that are to befall Him; the "Lawh-i-Huriyyih" (Tablet of the Maiden), in which events of a far remoter future are foreshadowed; the "Suriy-i-Sabr" (Surih of Patience), revealed on the first day of Ridvan which extols Vahid and his fellow-sufferers in Nayriz; the commentary on the Letters prefixed to the Surihs of the Qur'an; His interpretation of the letter Vav, mentioned in the writings of Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsa'i, and of other abstruse passages in the works of Siyyid Kazim-i-Rashti; the "Lawh-i-Madinatu't-Tawhid" (Tablet of the <p141> City of Unity); the "Sahifiy-i-Shattiyyih"; the "Musibat-i-Hurufat-i-'Aliyat"; the "Tafsir-i-Hu"; the "Javahiru'l-Asrar" and a host of other writings, in the form of epistles, odes, homilies, specific Tablets, commentaries and prayers, contributed, each in its own way, to swell the "rivers of everlasting life" which poured forth from the "Abode of Peace" and lent a mighty impetus to the expansion of the Bab's Faith in both Persia and Iraq, quickening the souls and transforming the character of its adherents.

The undeniable evidences of the range and magnificence of Baha'u'llah's rising power; His rapidly waxing prestige; the miraculous transformation which, by precept and example, He had effected in the outlook and character of His companions from Baghdad to the remotest towns and hamlets in Persia; the consuming love for Him that glowed in their bosoms; the prodigious volume of writings that streamed day and night from His pen, could not fail to fan into flame the animosity which smouldered in the breasts of His Shi'ah and Sunni enemies. Now that His residence was transferred to the vicinity of the strongholds of Shi'ah Islam, and He Himself brought into direct and almost daily contact with the fanatical pilgrims who thronged the holy places of Najaf, Karbila and Kazimayn, a trial of strength between the growing brilliance of His glory and the dark and embattled forces of religious fanaticism could no longer be delayed. A spark was all that was required to ignite this combustible material of all the accumulated hatreds, fears and jealousies which the revived activities of the Babis had inspired. This was provided by a certain Shaykh Abdu'l-Husayn, a crafty and obstinate priest, whose consuming jealousy of Baha'u'llah was surpassed only by his capacity to stir up mischief both among those of high degree and also amongst the lowest of the low, Arab or Persian, who thronged the streets and markets of Kazimayn, Karbila and Baghdad. He it was whom Baha'u'llah had stigmatized in His Tablets by such epithets as the "scoundrel," the "schemer," the "wicked one," who "drew the sword of his self against the face of God," "in whose soul Satan hath whispered," and "from whose impiety Satan flies," the "depraved one," "from whom originated and to whom will return all infidelity, cruelty and crime." Largely through the efforts of the Grand Vizir, who wished to get rid of him, this troublesome mujtahid had been commissioned by the Shah to proceed to Karbila to repair the holy sites in that city. Watching for his opportunity, he allied himself with Mirza Buzurg Khan, a newly-appointed Persian consul-general, who being of the same iniquitous turn of mind as himself, <p142> a man of mean intelligence, insincere, without foresight or honor, and a confirmed drunkard, soon fell a prey to the influence of that vicious plotter, and became the willing instrument of his designs.

Their first concerted endeavor was to obtain from the governor of Baghdad, Mustafa Pasha, through a gross distortion of the truth, an order for the extradition of Baha'u'llah and His companions, an effort which miserably failed. Recognizing the futility of any attempt to achieve his purpose through the intervention of the local authorities, Shaykh Abdu'l-Husayn began, through the sedulous circulation of dreams which he first invented and then interpreted, to excite the passions of a superstitious and highly inflammable population. The resentment engendered by the lack of response he met with was aggravated by his ignominious failure to meet the challenge of an interview pre-arranged between himself and Baha'u'llah. Mirza Buzurg Khan, on his part, used his influence in order to arouse the animosity of the lower elements of the population against the common Adversary, by inciting them to affront Him in public, in the hope of provoking some rash retaliatory act that could be used as a ground for false charges through which the desired order for Baha'u'llah's extradition might be procured. This attempt too proved abortive, as the presence of Baha'u'llah, Who, despite the warnings and pleadings of His friends, continued to walk unescorted, both by day and by night, through the streets of the city, was enough to plunge His would-be molesters into consternation and shame. Well aware of their motives, He would approach them, rally them on their intentions, joke with them, and leave them covered with confusion and firmly resolved to abandon whatever schemes they had in mind. The consul-general had even gone so far as to hire a ruffian, a Turk, named Rida, for the sum of one hundred tumans, provide him with a horse and with two pistols, and order him to seek out and kill Baha'u'llah, promising him that his own protection would be fully assured. Rida, learning one day that his would-be-victim was attending the public bath, eluded the vigilance of the Babis in attendance, entered the bath with a pistol concealed in his cloak, and confronted Baha'u'llah in the inner chamber, only to discover that he lacked the courage to accomplish his task. He himself, years later, related that on another occasion he was lying in wait for Baha'u'llah, pistol in hand, when, on Baha'u'llah's approach, he was so overcome with fear that the pistol dropped from his hand; whereupon Baha'u'llah bade Aqay-i-Kalim, who accompanied Him, to hand it back to him, and show him the way to his home. <p143>

Balked in his repeated attempts to achieve his malevolent purpose, Shaykh Abdu'l-Husayn now diverted his energies into a new channel. He promised his accomplice he would raise him to the rank of a minister of the crown, if he succeeded in inducing the government to recall Baha'u'llah to Tihran, and cast Him again into prison. He despatched lengthy and almost daily reports to the immediate entourage of the Shah. He painted extravagant pictures of the ascendancy enjoyed by Baha'u'llah by representing Him as having won the allegiance of the nomadic tribes of Iraq. He claimed that He was in a position to muster, in a day, fully one hundred thousand men ready to take up arms at His bidding. He accused Him of meditating, in conjunction with various leaders in Persia, an insurrection against the sovereign. By such means as these he succeeded in bringing sufficient pressure on the authorities in Tihran to induce the Shah to grant him a mandate, bestowing on him full powers, and enjoining the Persian ulamas and functionaries to render him every assistance. This mandate the Shaykh instantly forwarded to the ecclesiastics of Najaf and Karbila, asking them to convene a gathering in Kazimayn, the place of his residence. A concourse of shaykhs, mullas and mujtahids, eager to curry favor with the sovereign, promptly responded. Upon being informed of the purpose for which they had been summoned, they determined to declare a holy war against the colony of exiles, and by launching a sudden and general assault on it to destroy the Faith at its heart. To their amazement and disappointment, however, they found that the leading mujtahid amongst them, the celebrated Shaykh Murtaday-i-Ansari, a man renowned for his tolerance, his wisdom, his undeviating justice, his piety and nobility of character, refused, when apprized of their designs, to pronounce the necessary sentence against the Babis. He it was whom Baha'u'llah later extolled in the "Lawh-i-Sultan," and numbered among "those doctors who have indeed drunk of the cup of renunciation," and "never interfered with Him," and to whom Abdu'l-Baha referred as "the illustrious and erudite doctor, the noble and celebrated scholar, the seal of seekers after truth." Pleading insufficient knowledge of the tenets of this community, and claiming to have witnessed no act on the part of its members at variance with the Qur'an, he, disregarding the remonstrances of his colleagues, abruptly left the gathering, and returned to Najaf, after having expressed, through a messenger, his regret to Baha'u'llah for what had happened, and his devout wish for His protection.

Frustrated in their designs, but unrelenting in their hostility, the <p144> assembled divines delegated the learned and devout Haji Mulla Hasan-i-'Ammu, recognized for his integrity and wisdom, to submit various questions to Baha'u'llah for elucidation. When these were submitted, and answers completely satisfactory to the messenger were given, Haji Mulla Hasan, affirming the recognition by the ulamas of the vastness of the knowledge of Baha'u'llah, asked, as an evidence of the truth of His mission, for a miracle that would satisfy completely all concerned. "Although you have no right to ask this," Baha'u'llah replied, "for God should test His creatures, and they should not test God, still I allow and accept this request.... The ulamas must assemble, and, with one accord, choose one miracle, and write that, after the performance of this miracle they will no longer entertain doubts about Me, and that all will acknowledge and confess the truth of My Cause. Let them seal this paper, and bring it to Me. This must be the accepted criterion: if the miracle is performed, no doubt will remain for them; and if not, We shall be convicted of imposture." This clear, challenging and courageous reply, unexampled in the annals of any religion, and addressed to the most illustrious Shi'ah divines, assembled in their time-honored stronghold, was so satisfactory to their envoy that he instantly arose, kissed the knee of Baha'u'llah, and departed to deliver His message. Three days later he sent word that that august assemblage had failed to arrive at a decision, and had chosen to drop the matter, a decision to which he himself later gave wide publicity, in the course of his visit to Persia, and even communicated it in person to the then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mirza Sa'id Khan. "We have," Baha'u'llah is reported to have commented, when informed of their reaction to this challenge, "through this all-satisfying, all-embracing message which We sent, revealed and vindicated the miracles of all the Prophets, inasmuch as We left the choice to the ulamas themselves, undertaking to reveal whatever they would decide upon." "If we carefully examine the text of the Bible," Abdu'l-Baha has written concerning a similar challenge made later by Baha'u'llah in the "Lawh-i-Sultan," "we see that the Divine Manifestation never said to those who denied Him, 'whatever miracle you desire, I am ready to perform, and I will submit to whatever test you propose.' But in the Epistle to the Shah Baha'u'llah said clearly, 'Gather the ulamas and summon Me, that the evidences and proofs may be established.'"

Seven years of uninterrupted, of patient and eminently successful consolidation were now drawing to a close. A shepherdless community, subjected to a prolonged and tremendous strain, from both <p145> within and without, and threatened with obliteration, had been resuscitated, and risen to an ascendancy without example in the course of its twenty years' history. Its foundations reinforced, its spirit exalted, its outlook transformed, its leadership safeguarded, its fundamentals restated, its prestige enhanced, its enemies discomfited, the Hand of Destiny was gradually preparing to launch it on a new phase in its checkered career, in which weal and woe alike were to carry it through yet another stage in its evolution. The Deliverer, the sole hope, and the virtually recognized leader of this community, Who had consistently overawed the authors of so many plots to assassinate Him, Who had scornfully rejected all the timid advice that He should flee from the scene of danger, Who had firmly declined repeated and generous offers made by friends and supporters to insure His personal safety, Who had won so conspicuous a victory over His antagonists -- He was, at this auspicious hour, being impelled by the resistless processes of His unfolding Mission, to transfer His residence to the center of still greater preeminence, the capital city of the Ottoman Empire, the seat of the Caliphate, the administrative center of Sunni Islam, the abode of the most powerful potentate in the Islamic world.

He had already flung a daring challenge to the sacerdotal order represented by the eminent ecclesiastics residing in Najaf, Karbila and Kazimayn. He was now, while in the vicinity of the court of His royal adversary, to offer a similar challenge to the recognized head of Sunni Islam, as well as to the sovereign of Persia, the trustee of the hidden Imam. The entire company of the kings of the earth, and in particular the Sultan and his ministers, were, moreover, to be addressed by Him, appealed to and warned, while the kings of Christendom and the Sunni hierarchy were to be severely admonished. Little wonder that the exiled Bearer of a newly-announced Revelation should have, in anticipation of the future splendor of the Lamp of His Faith, after its removal from Iraq, uttered these prophetic words: "It will shine resplendently within another globe, as predestined by Him who is the Omnipotent, the Ancient of Days. ...That the Spirit should depart out of the body of Iraq is indeed a wondrous sign unto all who are in heaven and all who are on earth. Erelong will ye behold this Divine Youth riding upon the steed of victory. Then will the hearts of the envious be seized with trembling."

The predestined hour of Baha'u'llah's departure from Iraq having now struck, the process whereby it could be accomplished was set <p146> in motion. The nine months of unremitting endeavor exerted by His enemies, and particularly by Shaykh Abdu'l-Husayn and his confederate Mirza Buzurg Khan, were about to yield their fruit. Nasiri'd-Din Shah and his ministers, on the one hand, and the Persian Ambassador in Constantinople, on the other, were incessantly urged to take immediate action to insure Baha'u'llah's removal from Baghdad. Through gross misrepresentation of the true situation and the dissemination of alarming reports a malignant and energetic enemy finally succeeded in persuading the Shah to instruct his foreign minister, Mirza Sa'id Khan, to direct the Persian Ambassador at the Sublime Porte, Mirza Husayn Khan, a close friend of Ali Pasha, the Grand Vizir of the Sultan, and of Fu'ad Pasha, the Minister of foreign affairs, to induce Sultan Abdu'l-'Aziz to order the immediate transfer of Baha'u'llah to a place remote from Baghdad, on the ground that His continued residence in that city, adjacent to Persian territory and close to so important a center of Shi'ah pilgrimage, constituted a direct menace to the security of Persia and its government.

Mirza Sa'id Khan, in his communication to the Ambassador, stigmatized the Faith as a "misguided and detestable sect," deplored Baha'u'llah's release from the Siyah-Chal, and denounced Him as one who did not cease from "secretly corrupting and misleading foolish persons and ignorant weaklings." "In accordance with the royal command," he wrote, "I, your faithful friend, have been ordered ... to instruct you to seek, without delay, an appointment with their Excellencies, the Sadr-i-A'zam and the Minister of Foreign Affairs ... to request ... the removal of this source of mischief from a center like Baghdad, which is the meeting-place of many different peoples, and is situated near the frontiers of the provinces of Persia." In that same letter, quoting a celebrated verse, he writes: "'I see beneath the ashes the glow of fire, and it wants but little to burst into a blaze,'" thus betraying his fears and seeking to instill them into his correspondent.

Encouraged by the presence on the throne of a monarch who had delegated much of his powers to his ministers, and aided by certain foreign ambassadors and ministers in Constantinople, Mirza Husayn Khan, by dint of much persuasion and the friendly pressure he brought to bear on these ministers, succeeded in securing the sanction of the Sultan for the transfer of Baha'u'llah and His companions (who had in the meantime been forced by circumstances to change their citizenship) to Constantinople. It is even reported that the first request the Persian authorities made of a friendly Power, after <p147> the accession of the new Sultan to the throne, was for its active and prompt intervention in this matter.

It was on the fifth of Naw-Ruz (1863), while Baha'u'llah was celebrating that festival in the Mazra'iy-i-Vashshash, in the outskirts of Baghdad, and had just revealed the "Tablet of the Holy Mariner," whose gloomy prognostications had aroused the grave apprehensions of His Companions, that an emissary of Namiq Pasha arrived and delivered into His hands a communication requesting an interview between Him and the governor.

Already, as Nabil has pointed out in his narrative, Baha'u'llah had, in the course of His discourses, during the last years of His sojourn in Baghdad, alluded to the period of trial and turmoil that was inexorably approaching, exhibiting a sadness and heaviness of heart which greatly perturbed those around Him. A dream which He had at that time, the ominous character of which could not be mistaken, served to confirm the fears and misgivings that had assailed His companions. "I saw," He wrote in a Tablet, "the Prophets and the Messengers gather and seat themselves around Me, moaning, weeping and loudly lamenting. Amazed, I inquired of them the reason, whereupon their lamentation and weeping waxed greater, and they said unto me: 'We weep for Thee, O Most Great Mystery, O Tabernacle of Immortality!' They wept with such a weeping that I too wept with them. Thereupon the Concourse on high addressed Me saying: '...Erelong shalt Thou behold with Thine own eyes what no Prophet hath beheld.... Be patient, be patient.'... They continued addressing Me the whole night until the approach of dawn." "Oceans of sorrow," Nabil affirms, "surged in the hearts of the listeners when the Tablet of the Holy Mariner was read aloud to them.... It was evident to every one that the chapter of Baghdad was about to be closed, and a new one opened, in its stead. No sooner had that Tablet been chanted than Baha'u'llah ordered that the tents which had been pitched should be folded up, and that all His companions should return to the city. While the tents were being removed He observed: 'These tents may be likened to the trappings of this world, which no sooner are they spread out than the time cometh for them to be rolled up.' From these words of His they who heard them perceived that these tents would never again be pitched on that spot. They had not yet been taken away when the messenger arrived from Baghdad to deliver the afore-mentioned communication from the governor."

By the following day the Deputy-Governor had delivered to <p148> Baha'u'llah in a mosque, in the neighborhood of the governor's house, Ali Pasha's letter, addressed to Namiq Pasha, couched in courteous language, inviting Baha'u'llah to proceed, as a guest of the Ottoman government, to Constantinople, placing a sum of money at His disposal, and ordering a mounted escort to accompany Him for His protection. To this request Baha'u'llah gave His ready assent, but declined to accept the sum offered Him. On the urgent representations of the Deputy that such a refusal would offend the authorities, He reluctantly consented to receive the generous allowance set aside for His use, and distributed it, that same day, among the poor.

The effect upon the colony of exiles of this sudden intelligence was instantaneous and overwhelming. "That day," wrote an eyewitness, describing the reaction of the community to the news of Baha'u'llah's approaching departure, "witnessed a commotion associated with the turmoil of the Day of Resurrection. Methinks, the very gates and walls of the city wept aloud at their imminent separation from the Abha Beloved. The first night mention was made of His intended departure His loved ones, one and all, renounced both sleep and food.... Not a soul amongst them could be tranquillized. Many had resolved that in the event of their being deprived of the bounty of accompanying Him, they would, without hesitation, kill themselves.... Gradually, however, through the words which He addressed them, and through His exhortations and His loving-kindness, they were calmed and resigned themselves to His good-pleasure." For every one of them, whether Arab or Persian, man or woman, child or adult, who lived in Baghdad, He revealed during those days, in His own hand, a separate Tablet. In most of these Tablets He predicted the appearance of the "Calf" and of the "Birds of the Night," allusions to those who, as anticipated in the Tablet of the Holy Mariner, and foreshadowed in the dream quoted above, were to raise the standard of rebellion and precipitate the gravest crisis in the history of the Faith.

Twenty-seven days after that mournful Tablet had been so unexpectedly revealed by Baha'u'llah, and the fateful communication, presaging His departure to Constantinople had been delivered into His hands, on a Wednesday afternoon (April 22, 1863), thirty-one days after Naw-Ruz, on the third of Dhi'l-Qa'dih, 1279 A.H., He set forth on the first stage of His four months' journey to the capital of the Ottoman Empire. That historic day, forever after designated as the first day of the Ridvan Festival, the culmination of innumerable farewell visits which friends and acquaintances of every class <p149> and denomination, had been paying him, was one the like of which the inhabitants of Baghdad had rarely beheld. A concourse of people of both sexes and of every age, comprising friends and strangers Arabs, Kurds and Persians, notables and clerics, officials and merchants, as well as many of the lower classes, the poor, the orphaned, the outcast, some surprised, others heartbroken, many tearful and apprehensive, a few impelled by curiosity or secret satisfaction, thronged the approaches of His house, eager to catch a final glimpse of One Who, for a decade, had, through precept and example, exercised so potent an influence on so large a number of the heterogeneous inhabitants of their city.

Leaving for the last time, amidst weeping and lamentation, His "Most Holy Habitation," out of which had "gone forth the breath of the All-Glorious," and from which had poured forth, in "ceaseless strains," the "melody of the All-Merciful," and dispensing on His way with a lavish hand a last alms to the poor He had so faithfully befriended, and uttering words of comfort to the disconsolate who besought Him on every side, He, at length, reached the banks of the river, and was ferried across, accompanied by His sons and amanuensis, to the Najibiyyih Garden, situated on the opposite shore. "O My companions," He thus addressed the faithful band that surrounded Him before He embarked, "I entrust to your keeping this city of Baghdad, in the state ye now behold it, when from the eyes of friends and strangers alike, crowding its housetops, its streets and markets, tears like the rain of spring are flowing down, and I depart. With you it now rests to watch lest your deeds and conduct dim the flame of love that gloweth within the breasts of its inhabitants."

The muezzin had just raised the afternoon call to prayer when Baha'u'llah entered the Najibiyyih Garden, where He tarried twelve days before His final departure from the city. There His friends and companions, arriving in successive waves, attained His presence and bade Him, with feelings of profound sorrow, their last farewell. Outstanding among them was the renowned Alusi, the Mufti of Baghdad, who, with eyes dimmed with tears, execrated the name of Nasiri'd-Din Shah, whom he deemed to be primarily responsible for so unmerited a banishment. "I have ceased to regard him," he openly asserted, "as Nasiri'd-Din (the helper of the Faith), but consider him rather to be its wrecker." Another distinguished visitor was the governor himself, Namiq Pasha, who, after expressing in the most respectful terms his regret at the developments which had precipitated Baha'u'llah's departure, and assuring Him of his readiness to <p150> aid Him in any way he could, handed to the officer appointed to accompany Him a written order, commanding the governors of the provinces through which the exiles would be passing to extend to them the utmost consideration. "Whatever you require," he, after profuse apologies, informed Baha'u'llah, "you have but to command. We are ready to carry it out." "Extend thy consideration to Our loved ones," was the reply to his insistent and reiterated offers, "and deal with them with kindness" -- a request to which he gave his warm and unhesitating assent.

Small wonder that, in the face of so many evidences of deep-seated devotion, sympathy and esteem, so strikingly manifested by high and low alike, from the time Baha'u'llah announced His contemplated journey to the day of His departure from the Najibiyyih Garden -- small wonder that those who had so tirelessly sought to secure the order for His banishment, and had rejoiced at the success of their efforts, should now have bitterly regretted their act. "Such hath been the interposition of God," Abdu'l-Baha, in a letter written by Him from that garden, with reference to these enemies, affirms, "that the joy evinced by them hath been turned to chagrin and sorrow, so much so that the Persian consul-general in Baghdad regrets exceedingly the plans and plots the schemers had devised. Namiq Pasha himself, on the day he called on Him (Baha'u'llah) stated: 'Formerly they insisted upon your departure. Now, however, they are even more insistent that you should remain.'" <p151>


The Declaration of Baha'u'llah's Mission and His

Journey to Constantinople

The arrival of Baha'u'llah in the Najibiyyih Garden, subsequently designated by His followers the Garden of Ridvan, signalizes the commencement of what has come to be recognized as the holiest and most significant of all Baha'i festivals, the festival commemorating the Declaration of His Mission to His companions. So momentous a Declaration may well be regarded both as the logical consummation of that revolutionizing process which was initiated by Himself upon His return from Sulaymaniyyih, and as a prelude to the final proclamation of that same Mission to the world and its rulers from Adrianople.

Through that solemn act the "delay," of no less than a decade, divinely interposed between the birth of Baha'u'llah's Revelation in the Siyah-Chal and its announcement to the Bab's disciples, was at long last terminated. The "set time of concealment," during which as He Himself has borne witness, the "signs and tokens of a divinely-appointed Revelation" were being showered upon Him, was fulfilled. The "myriad veils of light," within which His glory had been wrapped, were, at that historic hour, partially lifted, vouchsafing to mankind "an infinitesimal glimmer" of the effulgence of His "peerless, His most sacred and exalted Countenance." The "thousand two hundred and ninety days," fixed by Daniel in the last chapter of His Book, as the duration of the "abomination that maketh desolate" had now elapsed. The "hundred lunar years," destined to immediately precede that blissful consummation (1335 days), announced by Daniel in that same chapter, had commenced. The nineteen years, constituting the first "Vahid," preordained in the Persian Bayan by the pen of the Bab, had been completed. The Lord of the Kingdom, Jesus Christ returned in the glory of the Father, was about to ascend His throne, and assume the sceptre of a world-embracing, indestructible sovereignty. The community of the Most Great Name, the "companions of the Crimson Colored Ark," lauded in glowing terms in the Qayyumu'l-Asma', had visibly emerged. The Bab's own prophecy regarding the "Ridvan," the scene of the unveiling of Baha'u'llah's transcendent glory, had been literally fulfilled. <p152>

Undaunted by the prospect of the appalling adversities which, as predicted by Himself, were soon to overtake Him; on the eve of a second banishment which would be fraught with many hazards and perils, and would bring Him still farther from His native land, the cradle of His Faith, to a country alien in race, in language and in culture; acutely conscious of the extension of the circle of His adversaries, among whom were soon to be numbered a monarch more despotic than Nasiri'd-Din Shah, and ministers no less unyielding in their hostility than either Haji Mirza Aqasi or the Amir-Nizam; undeterred by the perpetual interruptions occasioned by the influx of a host of visitors who thronged His tent, Baha'u'llah chose in that critical and seemingly unpropitious hour to advance so challenging a claim, to lay bare the mystery surrounding His person, and to assume, in their plenitude, the power and the authority which were the exclusive privileges of the One Whose advent the Bab had prophesied.

Already the shadow of that great oncoming event had fallen upon the colony of exiles, who awaited expectantly its consummation. As the year "eighty" steadily and inexorably approached, He Who had become the real leader of that community increasingly experienced, and progressively communicated to His future followers, the onrushing influences of its informing force. The festive, the soul-entrancing odes which He revealed almost every day; the Tablets, replete with hints, which streamed from His pen; the allusions which, in private converse and public discourse, He made to the approaching hour; the exaltation which in moments of joy and sadness alike flooded His soul; the ecstasy which filled His lovers, already enraptured by the multiplying evidences of His rising greatness and glory; the perceptible change noted in His demeanor; and finally, His adoption of the taj (tall felt head-dress), on the day of His departure from His Most Holy House -- all proclaimed unmistakably His imminent assumption of the prophetic office and of His open leadership of the community of the Bab's followers.

"Many a night," writes Nabil, depicting the tumult that had seized the hearts of Baha'u'llah's companions, in the days prior to the declaration of His mission, "would Mirza Aqa Jan gather them together in his room, close the door, light numerous camphorated candles, and chant aloud to them the newly revealed odes and Tablets in his possession. Wholly oblivious of this contingent world, completely immersed in the realms of the spirit, forgetful of the necessity for food, sleep or drink, they would suddenly discover <p153> that night had become day, and that the sun was approaching its zenith."

Of the exact circumstances attending that epoch-making Declaration we, alas, are but scantily informed. The words Baha'u'llah actually uttered on that occasion, the manner of His Declaration, the reaction it produced, its impact on Mirza Yahya, the identity of those who were privileged to hear Him, are shrouded in an obscurity which future historians will find it difficult to penetrate. The fragmentary description left to posterity by His chronicler Nabil is one of the very few authentic records we possess of the memorable days He spent in that garden. "Every day," Nabil has related, "ere the hour of dawn, the gardeners would pick the roses which lined the four avenues of the garden, and would pile them in the center of the floor of His blessed tent. So great would be the heap that when His companions gathered to drink their morning tea in His presence, they would be unable to see each other across it. All these roses Baha'u'llah would, with His own hands, entrust to those whom He dismissed from His presence every morning to be delivered, on His behalf, to His Arab and Persian friends in the city." "One night," he continues, "the ninth night of the waxing moon, I happened to be one of those who watched beside His blessed tent. As the hour of midnight approached, I saw Him issue from His tent, pass by the places where some of His companions were sleeping, and begin to pace up and down the moonlit, flower-bordered avenues of the garden. So loud was the singing of the nightingales on every side that only those who were near Him could hear distinctly His voice. He continued to walk until, pausing in the midst of one of these avenues, He observed: 'Consider these nightingales. So great is their love for these roses, that sleepless from dusk till dawn, they warble their melodies and commune with burning passion with the object of their adoration. How then can those who claim to be afire with the rose-like beauty of the Beloved choose to sleep?' For three successive nights I watched and circled round His blessed tent. Every time I passed by the couch whereon He lay, I would find Him wakeful, and every day, from morn till eventide, I would see Him ceaselessly engaged in conversing with the stream of visitors who kept flowing in from Baghdad. Not once could I discover in the words He spoke any trace of dissimulation."

As to the significance of that Declaration let Baha'u'llah Himself reveal to us its import. Acclaiming that historic occasion as the "Most Great Festival," the "King of Festivals," the "Festival of God," <p154> He has, in His Kitab-i-Aqdas, characterized it as the Day whereon "all created things were immersed in the sea of purification," whilst in one of His specific Tablets, He has referred to it as the Day whereon "the breezes of forgiveness were wafted over the entire creation." "Rejoice, with exceeding gladness, O people of Baha!", He, in another Tablet, has written, "as ye call to remembrance the Day of supreme felicity, the Day whereon the Tongue of the Ancient of Days hath spoken, as He departed from His House proceeding to the Spot from which He shed upon the whole of creation the splendors of His Name, the All-Merciful... Were We to reveal the hidden secrets of that Day, all that dwell on earth and in the heavens would swoon away and die, except such as will be preserved by God, the Almighty, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. Such is the inebriating effect of the words of God upon the Revealer of His undoubted proofs that His pen can move no longer." And again: "The Divine Springtime is come, O Most Exalted Pen, for the Festival of the All-Merciful is fast approaching.... The Day-Star of Blissfulness shineth above the horizon of Our Name, the Blissful, inasmuch as the Kingdom of the Name of God hath been adorned with the ornament of the Name of Thy Lord, the Creator of the heavens.... Take heed lest anything deter Thee from extolling the greatness of this Day -- the Day whereon the Finger of Majesty and Power hath opened the seal of the Wine of Reunion, and called all who are in the heavens and all who are on earth.... This is the Day whereon the unseen world crieth out: 'Great is thy blessedness, O earth, for thou hast been made the footstool of thy God, and been chosen as the seat of His mighty throne' ...Say ... He it is Who hath laid bare before you the hidden and treasured Gem, were ye to seek it. He it is who is the One Beloved of all things, whether of the past or of the future." And yet again: "Arise, and proclaim unto the entire creation the tidings that He who is the All-Merciful hath directed His steps towards the Ridvan and entered it. Guide, then, the people unto the Garden of Delight which God hath made the Throne of His Paradise... Within this Paradise, and from the heights of its loftiest chambers, the Maids of Heaven have cried out and shouted: 'Rejoice, ye dwellers of the realms above, for the fingers of Him Who is the Ancient of Days are ringing, in the name of the All-Glorious, the Most Great Bell, in the midmost heart of the heavens. The hands of bounty have borne round the cups of everlasting life. Approach, and quaff your fill.'" And finally: "Forget the world of creation, O Pen, and turn Thou towards the face of Thy Lord, the Lord of all names. Adorn, then, the world <p155> with the ornament of the favors of Thy Lord, the King of everlasting days. For We perceive the fragrance of the Day whereon He Who is the Desire of all nations hath shed upon the kingdoms of the unseen and of the seen the splendors of the light of His most excellent names, and enveloped them with the radiance of the luminaries of His most gracious favors, favors which none can reckon except Him Who is the Omnipotent Protector of the entire creation."

The departure of Baha'u'llah from the Garden of Ridvan, at noon, on the 14th of Dhi'l-Qa'dih 1279 A.H. (May 3, 1863), witnessed scenes of tumultuous enthusiasm no less spectacular, and even more touching, than those which greeted Him when leaving His Most Great House in Baghdad. "The great tumult," wrote an eyewitness, "associated in our minds with the Day of Gathering, the Day of Judgment, we beheld on that occasion. Believers and unbelievers alike sobbed and lamented. The chiefs and notables who had congregated were struck with wonder. Emotions were stirred to such depths as no tongue can describe, nor could any observer escape their contagion."

Mounted on His steed, a red roan stallion of the finest breed, the best His lovers could purchase for Him, and leaving behind Him a bowing multitude of fervent admirers, He rode forth on the first stage of a journey that was to carry Him to the city of Constantinople. "Numerous were the heads," Nabil himself a witness of that memorable scene, recounts, "which, on every side, bowed to the dust at the feet of His horse, and kissed its hoofs, and countless were those who pressed forward to embrace His stirrups." "How great the number of those embodiments of fidelity," testifies a fellow-traveler, "who, casting themselves before that charger, preferred death to separation from their Beloved! Methinks, that blessed steed trod upon the bodies of those pure-hearted souls." "He (God) it was," Baha'u'llah Himself declares, "Who enabled Me to depart out of the city (Baghdad), clothed with such majesty as none, except the denier and the malicious, can fail to acknowledge." These marks of homage and devotion continued to surround Him until He was installed in Constantinople. Mirza Yahya, while hurrying on foot, by his own choice, behind Baha'u'llah's carriage, on the day of His arrival in that city, was overheard by Nabil to remark to Siyyid Muhammad: "Had I not chosen to hide myself, had I revealed my identity, the honor accorded Him (Baha'u'llah) on this day would have been mine too."

The same tokens of devotion shown Baha'u'llah at the time of <p156> His departure from His House, and later from the Garden of Ridvan, were repeated when, on the 20th of Dhi'l-Qa'dih (May 9, 1863), accompanied by members of His family and twenty-six of His disciples, He left Firayjat, His first stopping-place in the course of that journey. A caravan, consisting of fifty mules, a mounted guard of ten soldiers with their officer, and seven pairs of howdahs, each pair surmounted by four parasols, was formed, and wended its way, by easy stages, and in the space of no less than a hundred and ten days, across the uplands, and through the defiles, the woods, valleys and pastures, comprising the picturesque scenery of eastern Anatolia, to the port of Samsun, on the Black Sea. At times on horseback, at times resting in the howdah reserved for His use, and which was oftentimes surrounded by His companions, most of whom were on foot, He, by virtue of the written order of Namiq Pasha, was accorded, as He traveled northward, in the path of spring, an enthusiastic reception by the valis, the mutisarrifs, the qa'im-maqams, the mudirs, the shaykhs, the muftis and qadis, the government officials and notables belonging to the districts through which He passed. In Karkuk, in Irbil, in Mosul, where He tarried three days, in Nisibin, in Mardin, in Diyar-Bakr, where a halt of a couple of days was made, in Kharput, in Sivas, as well as in other villages and hamlets, He would be met by a delegation immediately before His arrival, and would be accompanied, for some distance, by a similar delegation upon His departure. The festivities which, at some stations, were held in His honor, the food the villagers prepared and brought for His acceptance, the eagerness which time and again they exhibited in providing the means for His comfort, recalled the reverence which the people of Baghdad had shown Him on so many occasions.

"As we passed that morning through the town of Mardin," that same fellow-traveler relates, "we were preceded by a mounted escort of government soldiers, carrying their banners, and beating their drums in welcome. The mutisarrif, together with officials and notables, accompanied us, while men, women and children, crowding the housetops and filling the streets, awaited our arrival. With dignity and pomp we traversed that town, and resumed our journey, the mutisarrif and those with him escorting us for a considerable distance." "According to the unanimous testimony of those we met in the course of that journey," Nabil has recorded in his narrative, "never before had they witnessed along this route, over which governors and mushirs continually passed back and forth between Constantinople and Baghdad, any one travel in such state, dispense such hospitality <p157> to all, and accord to each so great a share of his bounty." Sighting from His howdah the Black Sea, as He approached the port of Samsun, Baha'u'llah, at the request of Mirza Aqa Jan, revealed a Tablet, designated Lawh-i-Hawdaj (Tablet of the Howdah), which by such allusions as the "Divine Touchstone," "the grievous and tormenting Mischief," reaffirmed and supplemented the dire predictions recorded in the recently revealed Tablet of the Holy Mariner.

In Samsun the Chief Inspector of the entire province, extending from Baghdad to Constantinople, accompanied by several pashas, called on Him, showed Him the utmost respect, and was entertained by Him at luncheon. But seven days after His arrival, He, as foreshadowed in the Tablet of the Holy Mariner, was put on board a Turkish steamer and three days later was disembarked, at noon, together with His fellow-exiles, at the port of Constantinople, on the first of Rabi'u'l-Avval 1280 A.H. (August 16, 1863). In two special carriages, which awaited Him at the landing-stage He and His family drove to the house of Shamsi Big, the official who had been appointed by the government to entertain its guests, and who lived in the vicinity of the Khirqiy-i-Sharif mosque. Later they were transferred to the more commodious house of Visi Pasha, in the neighborhood of the mosque of Sultan Muhammad.

With the arrival of Baha'u'llah at Constantinople, the capital of the Ottoman Empire and seat of the Caliphate (acclaimed by the Muhammadans as "the Dome of Islam," but stigmatized by Him as the spot whereon the "throne of tyranny" had been established) the grimmest and most calamitous and yet the most glorious chapter in the history of the first Baha'i century may be said to have opened. A period in which untold privations and unprecedented trials were mingled with the noblest spiritual triumphs was now commencing. The day-star of Baha'u'llah's ministry was about to reach its zenith. The most momentous years of the Heroic Age of His Dispensation were at hand. The catastrophic process, foreshadowed as far back as the year sixty by His Forerunner in the Qayyumu'l-Asma', was beginning to be set in motion.

Exactly two decades earlier the Babi Revelation had been born in darkest Persia, in the city of Shiraz. Despite the cruel captivity to which its Author had been subjected, the stupendous claims He had voiced had been proclaimed by Him before a distinguished assemblage in Tabriz, the capital of Adhirbayjan. In the hamlet of Badasht the Dispensation which His Faith had ushered in had been fearlessly inaugurated by the champions of His Cause. In the midst <p158> of the hopelessness and agony of the Siyah-Chal of Tihran, nine years later, that Revelation had, swiftly and mysteriously been brought to sudden fruition. The process of rapid deterioration in the fortunes of that Faith, which had gradually set in, and was alarmingly accelerated during the years of Baha'u'llah's withdrawal to Kurdistan, had, in a masterly fashion after His return from Sulaymaniyyih, been arrested and reversed. The ethical, the moral and doctrinal foundations of a nascent community had been subsequently, in the course of His sojourn in Baghdad, unassailably established. And finally, in the Garden of Ridvan, on the eve of His banishment to Constantinople, the ten-year delay, ordained by an inscrutable Providence, had been terminated through the Declaration of His Mission and the visible emergence of what was to become the nucleus of a world-embracing Fellowship. What now remained to be achieved was the proclamation, in the city of Adrianople, of that same Mission to the world's secular and ecclesiastical leaders, to be followed, in successive decades, by a further unfoldment, in the prison-fortress of Akka, of the principles and precepts constituting the bedrock of that Faith, by the formulation of the laws and ordinances designed to safeguard its integrity, by the establishment, immediately after His ascension, of the Covenant designed to preserve its unity and perpetuate its influence, by the prodigious and world-wide extension of its activities, under the guidance of Abdu'l-Baha, the Center of that Covenant, and lastly, by the rise, in the Formative Age of that Faith, of its Administrative Order, the harbinger of its Golden Age and future glory.

This historic Proclamation was made at a time when the Faith was in the throes of a crisis of extreme violence, and it was in the main addressed to the kings of the earth, and to the Christian and Muslim ecclesiastical leaders who, by virtue of their immense prestige, ascendancy and authority, assumed an appalling and inescapable responsibility for the immediate destinies of their subjects and followers.

The initial phase of that Proclamation may be said to have opened in Constantinople with the communication (the text of which we, alas, do not possess) addressed by Baha'u'llah to Sultan Abdu'l-'Aziz himself, the self-styled vicar of the Prophet of Islam and the absolute ruler of a mighty empire. So potent, so august a personage was the first among the sovereigns of the world to receive the Divine Summons, and the first among Oriental monarchs to sustain the impact of God's retributive justice. The occasion for this communication was provided by the infamous edict the Sultan had promulgated, less than <p159> four months after the arrival of the exiles in his capital, banishing them, suddenly and without any justification whatsoever, in the depth of winter, and in the most humiliating circumstances, to Adrianople, situated on the extremities of his empire.

That fateful and ignominious decision, arrived at by the Sultan and his chief ministers, Ali Pasha and Fu'ad Pasha, was in no small degree attributable to the persistent intrigues of the Mushiru'd-Dawlih, Mirza Husayn Khan, the Persian Ambassador to the Sublime Porte, denounced by Baha'u'llah as His "calumniator," who awaited the first opportunity to strike at Him and the Cause of which He was now the avowed and recognized leader. This Ambassador was pressed continually by his government to persist in the policy of arousing against Baha'u'llah the hostility of the Turkish authorities. He was encouraged by the refusal of Baha'u'llah to follow the invariable practice of government guests, however highly placed, of calling in person, upon their arrival at the capital, on the Shaykhu'l-Islam, on the Sadr-i-Azam, and on the Foreign Minister -- Baha'u'llah did not even return the calls paid Him by several ministers, by Kamal Pasha and by a former Turkish envoy to the court of Persia. He was not deterred by Baha'u'llah's upright and independent attitude which contrasted so sharply with the mercenariness of the Persian princes who were wont, on their arrival, to "solicit at every door such allowances and gifts as they might obtain." He resented Baha'u'llah's unwillingness to present Himself at the Persian Embassy, and to repay the visit of its representative; and, being seconded, in his efforts, by his accomplice, Haji Mirza Hasan-i-Safa, whom he instructed to circulate unfounded reports about Him, he succeeded through his official influence, as well as through his private intercourse with ecclesiastics, notables and government officials, in representing Baha'u'llah as a proud and arrogant person, Who regarded Himself as subject to no law, Who entertained designs inimical to all established authority, and Whose forwardness had precipitated the grave differences that had arisen between Himself and the Persian Government. Nor was he the only one who indulged in these nefarious schemes. Others, according to Abdu'l-Baha, "condemned and vilified" the exiles, as "a mischief to all the world," as "destructive of treaties and covenants," as "baleful to all lands" and as "deserving of every chastisement and punishment."

No less a personage than the highly-respected brother-in-law of the Sadr-i-A'zam was commissioned to apprize the Captive of the edict pronounced against Him -- an edict which evinced a virtual <p160> coalition of the Turkish and Persian imperial governments against a common adversary, and which in the end brought such tragic consequences upon the Sultanate, the Caliphate and the Qajar dynasty. Refused an audience by Baha'u'llah that envoy had to content himself with a presentation of his puerile observations and trivial arguments to Abdu'l-Baha and Aqay-i-Kalim, who were delegated to see him, and whom he informed that, after three days, he would return to receive the answer to the order he had been bidden to transmit.

That same day a Tablet, severely condemnatory in tone, was revealed by Baha'u'llah, was entrusted by Him, in a sealed envelope, on the following morning, to Shamsi Big, who was instructed to deliver it into the hands of Ali Pasha, and to say that it was sent down from God. "I know not what that letter contained," Shamsi Big subsequently informed Aqay-i-Kalim, "for no sooner had the Grand Vizir perused it than he turned the color of a corpse, and remarked: 'It is as if the King of Kings were issuing his behest to his humblest vassal king and regulating his conduct.' So grievous was his condition that I backed out of his presence." "Whatever action," Baha'u'llah, commenting on the effect that Tablet had produced, is reported to have stated, "the ministers of the Sultan took against Us, after having become acquainted with its contents, cannot be regarded as unjustifiable. The acts they committed before its perusal, however, can have no justification."

That Tablet, according to Nabil, was of considerable length, opened with words directed to the sovereign himself, severely censured his ministers, exposed their immaturity and incompetence, and included passages in which the ministers themselves were addressed, in which they were boldly challenged, and sternly admonished not to pride themselves on their worldly possessions, nor foolishly seek the riches of which time would inexorably rob them.

Baha'u'llah was on the eve of His departure, which followed almost immediately upon the promulgation of the edict of His banishment, when, in a last and memorable interview with the aforementioned Haji Mirza Hasan-i-Safa, He sent the following message to the Persian Ambassador: "What did it profit thee, and such as are like thee, to slay, year after year, so many of the oppressed, and to inflict upon them manifold afflictions, when they have increased a hundredfold, and ye find yourselves in complete bewilderment, knowing not how to relieve your minds of this oppressive thought. ...His Cause transcends any and every plan ye devise. Know this much: Were all the governments on earth to unite and take My life <p161> and the lives of all who bear this Name, this Divine Fire would never be quenched. His Cause will rather encompass all the kings of the earth, nay all that hath been created from water and clay.... Whatever may yet befall Us, great shall be our gain, and manifest the loss wherewith they shall be afflicted."

Pursuant to the peremptory orders issued for the immediate departure of the already twice banished exiles, Baha'u'llah, His family, and His companions, some riding in wagons, others mounted on pack animals, with their belongings piled in carts drawn by oxen, set out, accompanied by Turkish officers, on a cold December morning, amidst the weeping of the friends they were leaving behind, on their twelve-day journey, across a bleak and windswept country, to a city characterized by Baha'u'llah as "the place which none entereth except such as have rebelled against the authority of the sovereign." "They expelled Us," is His own testimony in the Suriy-i-Muluk, "from thy city (Constantinople) with an abasement with which no abasement on earth can compare." "Neither My family, nor those who accompanied Me," He further states, "had the necessary raiment to protect them from the cold in that freezing weather." And again: "The eyes of Our enemies wept over Us, and beyond them those of every discerning person." "A banishment," laments Nabil, "endured with such meekness that the pen sheddeth tears when recounting it, and the page is ashamed to bear its description." "A cold of such intensity," that same chronicler records, "prevailed that year, that nonagenarians could not recall its like. In some regions, in both Turkey and Persia, animals succumbed to its severity and perished in the snows. The upper reaches of the Euphrates, in Ma'dan-Nuqrih, were covered with ice for several days -- an unprecedented phenomenon -- while in Diyar-Bakr the river froze over for no less than forty days." "To obtain water from the springs," one of the exiles of Adrianople recounts, "a great fire had to be lighted in their immediate neighborhood, and kept burning for a couple of hours before they thawed out."

Traveling through rain and storm, at times even making night marches, the weary travelers, after brief halts at Kuchik-Chakmachih, Buyuk-Chakmachih, Salvari, Birkas, and Baba-Iski, arrived at their destination, on the first of Rajab 1280 A.H. (December 12, 1863), and were lodged in the Khan-i-'Arab, a two-story caravanserai, near the house of Izzat-Aqa. Three days later, Baha'u'llah and His family were consigned to a house suitable only for summer habitation, in the Muradiyyih quarter, near the Takyiy-i-Mawlavi, and were moved <p162> again, after a week, to another house, in the vicinity of a mosque in that same neighborhood. About six months later they transferred to more commodious quarters, known as the house of Amru'llah (House of God's command) situated on the northern side of the mosque of Sultan Salim.

Thus closes the opening scene of one of the most dramatic episodes in the ministry of Baha'u'llah. The curtain now rises on what is admittedly the most turbulent and critical period of the first Baha'i century -- a period that was destined to precede the most glorious phase of that ministry, the proclamation of His Message to the world and its rulers. <p163>


The Rebellion of Mirza Yahya and the Proclamation

of Baha'u'llah's Mission in Adrianople

A twenty-year-old Faith had just begun to recover from a series of successive blows when a crisis of the first magnitude overtook it and shook it to its roots. Neither the tragic martyrdom of the Bab nor the ignominious attempt on the life of the sovereign, nor its bloody aftermath, nor Baha'u'llah's humiliating banishment from His native land, nor even His two-year withdrawal to Kurdistan, devastating though they were in their consequences, could compare in gravity with this first major internal convulsion which seized a newly rearisen community, and which threatened to cause an irreparable breach in the ranks of its members. More odious than the unrelenting hostility which Abu-Jahl, the uncle of Muhammad, had exhibited, more shameful than the betrayal of Jesus Christ by His disciple, Judas Iscariot, more perfidious than the conduct of the sons of Jacob towards Joseph their brother, more abhorrent than the deed committed by one of the sons of Noah, more infamous than even the criminal act perpetrated by Cain against Abel, the monstrous behavior of Mirza Yahya, one of the half-brothers of Baha'u'llah, the nominee of the Bab, and recognized chief of the Babi community, brought in its wake a period of travail which left its mark on the fortunes of the Faith for no less than half a century. This supreme crisis Baha'u'llah Himself designated as the Ayyam-i-Shidad (Days of Stress), during which "the most grievous veil" was torn asunder, and the "most great separation" was irrevocably effected. It immensely gratified and emboldened its external enemies, both civil and ecclesiastical, played into their hands, and evoked their unconcealed derision. It perplexed and confused the friends and supporters of Baha'u'llah, and seriously damaged the prestige of the Faith in the eyes of its western admirers. It had been brewing ever since the early days of Baha'u'llah's sojourn in Baghdad, was temporarily suppressed by the creative forces which, under His as yet unproclaimed leadership, reanimated a disintegrating community, and finally broke out, in all its violence, in the years immediately preceding the proclamation of His Message. It brought incalculable sorrow to Baha'u'llah, <p164> visibly aged Him, and inflicted, through its repercussions, the heaviest blow ever sustained by Him in His lifetime. It was engineered throughout by the tortuous intrigues and incessant machinations of that same diabolical Siyyid Muhammad, that vile whisperer who, disregarding Baha'u'llah's advice, had insisted on accompanying Him to Constantinople and Adrianople, and was now redoubling his efforts, with unrelaxing vigilance, to bring it to a head.

Mirza Yahya had, ever since the return of Baha'u'llah from Sulaymaniyyih, either chosen to maintain himself in an inglorious seclusion in his own house, or had withdrawn, whenever danger threatened, to such places of safety as Hillih and Basra. To the latter town he had fled, disguised as a Baghdad Jew, and become a shoe merchant. So great was his terror that he is reported to have said on one occasion: "Whoever claims to have seen me, or to have heard my voice, I pronounce an infidel." On being informed of Baha'u'llah's impending departure for Constantinople, he at first hid himself in the garden of Huvaydar, in the vicinity of Baghdad, meditating meanwhile on the advisability of fleeing either to Abyssinia, India or some other country. Refusing to heed Baha'u'llah's advice to proceed to Persia, and there disseminate the writings of the Bab, he sent a certain Haji Muhammad Kazim, who resembled him, to the government-house to procure for him a passport in the name of Mirza Aliy-i-Kirmanshahi, and left Baghdad, abandoning the writings there, and proceeded in disguise, accompanied by an Arab Babi, named Zahir, to Mosul, where he joined the exiles who were on their way to Constantinople.

A constant witness of the ever deepening attachment of the exiles to Baha'u'llah and of their amazing veneration for Him; fully aware of the heights to which his Brother's popularity had risen in Baghdad, in the course of His journey to Constantinople, and later through His association with the notables and governors of Adrianople; incensed by the manifold evidences of the courage, the dignity, and independence which that Brother had demonstrated in His dealings with the authorities in the capital; provoked by the numerous Tablets which the Author of a newly-established Dispensation had been ceaselessly revealing; allowing himself to be duped by the enticing prospects of unfettered leadership held out to him by Siyyid Muhammad, the Antichrist of the Baha'i Revelation, even as Muhammad Shah had been misled by the Antichrist of the Babi Revelation, Haji Mirza Aqasi; refusing to be admonished by prominent members of the community who advised him, in writing, to exercise wisdom and <p165> restraint; forgetful of the kindness and counsels of Baha'u'llah, who, thirteen years his senior, had watched over his early youth and manhood; emboldened by the sin-covering eye of his Brother, Who, on so many occasions, had drawn a veil over his many crimes and follies, this arch-breaker of the Covenant of the Bab, spurred on by his mounting jealousy and impelled by his passionate love of leadership, was driven to perpetrate such acts as defied either concealment or toleration.

Irremediably corrupted through his constant association with Siyyid Muhammad, that living embodiment of wickedness, cupidity and deceit, he had already in the absence of Baha'u'llah from Baghdad, and even after His return from Sulaymaniyyih, stained the annals of the Faith with acts of indelible infamy. His corruption, in scores of instances, of the text of the Bab's writings; the blasphemous addition he made to the formula of the adhan by the introduction of a passage in which he identified himself with the Godhead; his insertion of references in those writings to a succession in which he nominated himself and his descendants as heirs of the Bab; the vacillation and apathy he had betrayed when informed of the tragic death which his Master had suffered; his condemnation to death of all the Mirrors of the Babi Dispensation, though he himself was one of those Mirrors; his dastardly act in causing the murder of Dayyan, whom he feared and envied; his foul deed in bringing about, during the absence of Baha'u'llah from Baghdad, the assassination of Mirza Ali-Akbar, the Bab's cousin; and, most heinous of all, his unspeakably repugnant violation, during that same period, of the honor of the Bab Himself -- all these, as attested by Aqay-i-Kalim, and reported by Nabil in his Narrative, were to be thrown into a yet more lurid light by further acts the perpetration of which were to seal irretrievably his doom.

Desperate designs to poison Baha'u'llah and His companions, and thereby reanimate his own defunct leadership, began, approximately a year after their arrival in Adrianople, to agitate his mind. Well aware of the erudition of his half-brother, Aqay-i-Kalim, in matters pertaining to medicine, he, under various pretexts, sought enlightenment from him regarding the effects of certain herbs and poisons, and then began, contrary to his wont, to invite Baha'u'llah to his home, where, one day, having smeared His tea-cup with a substance he had concocted, he succeeded in poisoning Him sufficiently to produce a serious illness which lasted no less than a month, and which was accompanied by severe pains and high fever, the aftermath of which left Baha'u'llah with a shaking hand till the end of His life. <p166> So grave was His condition that a foreign doctor, named Shishman, was called in to attend Him. The doctor was so appalled by His livid hue that he deemed His case hopeless, and, after having fallen at His feet, retired from His presence without prescribing a remedy. A few days later that doctor fell ill and died. Prior to his death Baha'u'llah had intimated that doctor Shishman had sacrificed his life for Him. To Mirza Aqa Jan, sent by Baha'u'llah to visit him, the doctor had stated that God had answered his prayers, and that after his death a certain Dr. Chupan, whom he knew to be reliable, should, whenever necessary, be called in his stead.

On another occasion this same Mirza Yahya had, according to the testimony of one of his wives, who had temporarily deserted him and revealed the details of the above-mentioned act, poisoned the well which provided water for the family and companions of Baha'u'llah, in consequence of which the exiles manifested strange symptoms of illness. He even had, gradually and with great circumspection, disclosed to one of the companions, Ustad Muhammad-'Aliy-i-Salmani, the barber, on whom he had lavished great marks of favor, his wish that he, on some propitious occasion, when attending Baha'u'llah in His bath, should assassinate Him. "So enraged was Ustad Muhammad-'Ali," Aqay-i-Kalim, recounting this episode to Nabil in Adrianople, has stated, "when apprized of this proposition, that he felt a strong desire to kill Mirza Yahya on the spot, and would have done so but for his fear of Baha'u'llah's displeasure. I happened to be the first person he encountered as he came out of the bath weeping.... I eventually succeeded, after much persuasion, in inducing him to return to the bath and complete his unfinished task." Though ordered subsequently by Baha'u'llah not to divulge this occurrence to any one, the barber was unable to hold his peace and betrayed the secret, plunging thereby the community into great consternation. "When the secret nursed in his (Mirza Yahya) bosom was revealed by God," Baha'u'llah Himself affirms, "he disclaimed such an intention, and imputed it to that same servant (Ustad Muhammad-'Ali)."

The moment had now arrived for Him Who had so recently, both verbally and in numerous Tablets, revealed the implications of the claims He had advanced, to acquaint formally the one who was the nominee of the Bab with the character of His Mission. Mirza Aqa Jan was accordingly commissioned to bear to Mirza Yahya the newly revealed Suriy-i-Amr, which unmistakably affirmed those claims, to read aloud to him its contents, and demand an unequivocal and conclusive reply. Mirza Yahya's request for a one day respite, <p167> during which he could meditate his answer, was granted. The only reply, however, that was forthcoming was a counter-declaration, specifying the hour and the minute in which he had been made the recipient of an independent Revelation, necessitating the unqualified submission to him of the peoples of the earth in both the East and the West.

So presumptuous an assertion, made by so perfidious an adversary to the envoy of the Bearer of so momentous a Revelation was the signal for the open and final rupture between Baha'u'llah and Mirza Yahya -- a rupture that marks one of the darkest dates in Baha'i history. Wishing to allay the fierce animosity that blazed in the bosom of His enemies, and to assure to each one of the exiles a complete freedom to choose between Him and them, Baha'u'llah withdrew with His family to the house of Rida Big (Shavval 22, 1282 A.H.), which was rented by His order, and refused, for two months, to associate with either friend or stranger, including His own companions. He instructed Aqay-i-Kalim to divide all the furniture, bedding, clothing and utensils that were to be found in His home, and send half to the house of Mirza Yahya; to deliver to him certain relics he had long coveted, such as the seals, rings, and manuscripts in the handwriting of the Bab; and to insure that he received his full share of the allowance fixed by the government for the maintenance of the exiles and their families. He, moreover, directed Aqay-i-Kalim to order to attend to Mirza Yahya's shopping, for several hours a day, any one of the companions whom he himself might select, and to assure him that whatever would henceforth be received in his name from Persia would be delivered into his own hands.

"That day," Aqay-i-Kalim is reported to have informed Nabil, "witnessed a most great commotion. All the companions lamented in their separation from the Blessed Beauty." "Those days," is the written testimony of one of those companions, "were marked by tumult and confusion. We were sore-perplexed, and greatly feared lest we be permanently deprived of the bounty of His presence."

This grief and perplexity were, however, destined to be of short duration. The calumnies with which both Mirza Yahya and Siyyid Muhammad now loaded their letters, which they disseminated in Persia and Iraq, as well as the petitions, couched in obsequious language, which the former had addressed to Khurshid Pasha, the governor of Adrianople, and to his assistant Aziz Pasha, impelled Baha'u'llah to emerge from His retirement. He was soon after informed that this same brother had despatched one of his wives to the <p168> government house to complain that her husband had been cheated of his rights, and that her children were on the verge of starvation -- an accusation that spread far and wide and, reaching Constantinople, became, to Baha'u'llah's profound distress, the subject of excited discussion and injurious comment in circles that had previously been greatly impressed by the high standard which His noble and dignified behavior had set in that city. Siyyid Muhammad journeyed to the capital, begged the Persian Ambassador, the Mushiru'd-Dawlih, to allot Mirza Yahya and himself a stipend, accused Baha'u'llah of sending an agent to assassinate Nasiri'd-Din Shah, and spared no effort to heap abuse and calumny on One Who had, for so long and so patiently, forborne with him, and endured in silence the enormities of which he had been guilty.

After a stay of about one year in the house of Rida Big Baha'u'llah returned to the house He had occupied before His withdrawal from His companions, and thence, after three months, He transferred His residence to the house of Izzat Aqa, in which He continued to live until His departure from Adrianople. It was in this house, in the month of Jamadiyu'l-Avval 1284 A.H. (Sept. 1867) that an event of the utmost significance occurred, which completely discomfited Mirza Yahya and his supporters, and proclaimed to friend and foe alike Baha'u'llah's triumph over them. A certain Mir Muhammad, a Babi of Shiraz, greatly resenting alike the claims and the cowardly seclusion of Mirza Yahya, succeeded in forcing Siyyid Muhammad to induce him to meet Baha'u'llah face to face, so that a discrimination might be publicly effected between the true and the false. Foolishly assuming that his illustrious Brother would never countenance such a proposition, Mirza Yahya appointed the mosque of Sultan Salim as the place for their encounter. No sooner had Baha'u'llah been informed of this arrangement than He set forth, on foot, in the heat of midday, and accompanied by this same Mir Muhammad, for the afore-mentioned mosque, which was situated in a distant part of the city, reciting, as He walked, through the streets and markets, verses, in a voice and in a manner that greatly astonished those who saw and heard Him.

"O Muhammad!", are some of the words He uttered on that memorable occasion, as testified by Himself in a Tablet, "He Who is the Spirit hath, verily, issued from His habitation, and with Him have come forth the souls of God's chosen ones and the realities of His Messengers. Behold, then, the dwellers of the realms on high above Mine head, and all the testimonies of the Prophets in My grasp. <p169> Say: Were all the divines, all the wise men, all the kings and rulers on earth to gather together, I, in very truth, would confront them, and would proclaim the verses of God, the Sovereign, the Almighty, the All-Wise. I am He Who feareth no one, though all who are in heaven and all who are on earth rise up against me.... This is Mine hand which God hath turned white for all the worlds to behold. This is My staff; were We to cast it down, it would, of a truth, swallow up all created things." Mir Muhammad, who had been sent ahead to announce Baha'u'llah's arrival, soon returned, and informed Him that he who had challenged His authority wished, owing to unforeseen circumstances, to postpone for a day or two the interview. Upon His return to His house Baha'u'llah revealed a Tablet, wherein He recounted what had happened, fixed the time for the postponed interview, sealed the Tablet with His seal, entrusted it to Nabil, and instructed him to deliver it to one of the new believers, Mulla Muhammad-i-Tabrizi, for the information of Siyyid Muhammad, who was in the habit of frequenting that believer's shop. It was arranged to demand from Siyyid Muhammad, ere the delivery of that Tablet, a sealed note pledging Mirza Yahya, in the event of failing to appear at the trysting-place, to affirm in writing that his claims were false. Siyyid Muhammad promised that he would produce the next day the document required, and though Nabil, for three successive days, waited in that shop for the reply, neither did the Siyyid appear, nor was such a note sent by him. That undelivered Tablet, Nabil, recording twenty-three years later this historic episode in his chronicle, affirms was still in his possession, "as fresh as the day on which the Most Great Branch had penned it, and the seal of the Ancient Beauty had sealed and adorned it," a tangible and irrefutable testimony to Baha'u'llah's established ascendancy over a routed opponent.

Baha'u'llah's reaction to this most distressful episode in His ministry was, as already observed, characterized by acute anguish. "He who for months and years," He laments, "I reared with the hand of loving-kindness hath risen to take My life." "The cruelties inflicted by My oppressors," He wrote, in allusion to these perfidious enemies, "have bowed Me down, and turned My hair white. Shouldst thou present thyself before My throne, thou wouldst fail to recognize the Ancient Beauty, for the freshness of His countenance is altered, and its brightness hath faded, by reason of the oppression of the infidels." "By God!" He cries out, "No spot is left on My body that hath not been touched by the spears of thy machinations." And again: "Thou <p170> hast perpetrated against thy Brother what no man hath perpetrated against another." "What hath proceeded from thy pen," He, furthermore, has affirmed, "hath caused the Countenances of Glory to be prostrated upon the dust, hath rent in twain the Veil of Grandeur in the Sublime Paradise, and lacerated the hearts of the favored ones established upon the loftiest seats." And yet, in the Kitab-i-Aqdas, a forgiving Lord assures this same brother, this "source of perversion," "from whose own soul the winds of passion had risen and blown upon him," to "fear not because of thy deeds," bids him "return unto God, humble, submissive and lowly," and affirms that "He will put away from thee thy sins," and that "thy Lord is the Forgiving, the Mighty, the All-Merciful."

The "Most Great Idol" had at the bidding and through the power of Him Who is the Fountain-head of the Most Great Justice been cast out of the community of the Most Great Name, confounded, abhorred and broken. Cleansed from this pollution, delivered from this horrible possession, God's infant Faith could now forge ahead, and, despite the turmoil that had convulsed it, demonstrate its capacity to fight further battles, capture loftier heights, and win mightier victories.

A temporary breach had admittedly been made in the ranks of its supporters. Its glory had been eclipsed, and its annals stained forever. Its name, however, could not be obliterated, its spirit was far from broken, nor could this so-called schism tear its fabric asunder. The Covenant of the Bab, to which reference has already been made, with its immutable truths, incontrovertible prophecies, and repeated warnings, stood guard over that Faith, insuring its integrity, demonstrating its incorruptibility, and perpetuating its influence.

Though He Himself was bent with sorrow, and still suffered from the effects of the attempt on His life, and though He was well aware a further banishment was probably impending, yet, undaunted by the blow which His Cause had sustained, and the perils with which it was encompassed, Baha'u'llah arose with matchless power, even before the ordeal was overpast, to proclaim the Mission with which He had been entrusted to those who, in East and West, had the reins of supreme temporal authority in their grasp. The day-star of His Revelation was, through this very Proclamation, destined to shine in its meridian glory, and His Faith manifest the plenitude of its divine power.

A period of prodigious activity ensued which, in its repercussions, outshone the vernal years of Baha'u'llah's ministry. "Day and night," <p171> an eye-witness has written, "the Divine verses were raining down in such number that it was impossible to record them. Mirza Aqa Jan wrote them as they were dictated, while the Most Great Branch was continually occupied in transcribing them. There was not a moment to spare." "A number of secretaries," Nabil has testified, "were busy day and night and yet they were unable to cope with the task. Among them was Mirza Baqir-i-Shirazi.... He alone transcribed no less than two thousand verses every day. He labored during six or seven months. Every month the equivalent of several volumes would be transcribed by him and sent to Persia. About twenty volumes, in his fine penmanship, he left behind as a remembrance for Mirza Aqa Jan." Baha'u'llah, Himself, referring to the verses revealed by Him, has written: "Such are the outpourings ... from the clouds of Divine Bounty that within the space of an hour the equivalent of a thousand verses hath been revealed." "So great is the grace vouchsafed in this day that in a single day and night, were an amanuensis capable of accomplishing it to be found, the equivalent of the Persian Bayan would be sent down from the heaven of Divine holiness." "I swear by God!" He, in another connection has affirmed, "In those days the equivalent of all that hath been sent down aforetime unto the Prophets hath been revealed." "That which hath already been revealed in this land (Adrianople)," He, furthermore, referring to the copiousness of His writings, has declared, "secretaries are incapable of transcribing. It has, therefore, remained for the most part untranscribed."

Already in the very midst of that grievous crisis, and even before it came to a head, Tablets unnumbered were streaming from the pen of Baha'u'llah, in which the implications of His newly-asserted claims were fully expounded. The Suriy-i-Amr, the Lawh-i-Nuqtih, the Lawh-i-Ahmad, the Suriy-i-Ashab, the Lawh-i-Sayyah, the Suriy-i-Damm, the Suriy-i-Hajj, the Lawhu'r-Ruh, the Lawhu'r-Ridvan, the Lawhu't-Tuqa were among the Tablets which His pen had already set down when He transferred His residence to the house of Izzat Aqa. Almost immediately after the "Most Great Separation" had been effected, the weightiest Tablets associated with His sojourn in Adrianople were revealed. The Suriy-i-Muluk, the most momentous Tablet revealed by Baha'u'llah (Surih of Kings) in which He, for the first time, directs His words collectively to the entire company of the monarchs of East and West, and in which the Sultan of Turkey, and his ministers, the kings of Christendom, the French and Persian Ambassadors accredited to the Sublime Porte, the Muslim <p172> ecclesiastical leaders in Constantinople, its wise men and inhabitants, the people of Persia and the philosophers of the world are separately addressed; the Kitab-i-Badi', His apologia, written to refute the accusations levelled against Him by Mirza Mihdiy-i-Rashti, corresponding to the Kitab-i-Iqan, revealed in defense of the Babi Revelation; the Munajathay-i-Siyam (Prayers for Fasting), written in anticipation of the Book of His Laws; the first Tablet to Napoleon III, in which the Emperor of the French is addressed and the sincerity of his professions put to the test; the Lawh-i-Sultan, His detailed epistle to Nasiri'd-Din Shah, in which the aims, purposes and principles of His Faith are expounded and the validity of His Mission demonstrated; the Suriy-i-Ra'is, begun in the village of Kashanih on His way to Gallipoli, and completed shortly after at Gyawur-Kyuy -- these may be regarded not only as the most outstanding among the innumerable Tablets revealed in Adrianople, but as occupying a foremost position among all the writings of the Author of the Baha'i Revelation.

In His message to the kings of the earth, Baha'u'llah, in the Suriy-i-Muluk, discloses the character of His Mission; exhorts them to embrace His Message; affirms the validity of the Bab's Revelation; reproves them for their indifference to His Cause; enjoins them to be just and vigilant, to compose their differences and reduce their armaments; expatiates on His afflictions; commends the poor to their care; warns them that "Divine chastisement" will "assail" them "from every direction," if they refuse to heed His counsels, and prophesies His "triumph upon earth" though no king be found who would turn his face towards Him.

The kings of Christendom, more specifically, Baha'u'llah, in that same Tablet, censures for having failed to "welcome" and "draw nigh" unto Him Who is the "Spirit of Truth," and for having persisted in "disporting" themselves with their "pastimes and fancies," and declares to them that they "shall be called to account" for their doings, "in the presence of Him Who shall gather together the entire creation."

He bids Sultan Abdu'l-'Aziz "hearken to the speech ... of Him Who unerringly treadeth the Straight Path"; exhorts him to direct in person the affairs of his people, and not to repose confidence in unworthy ministers; admonishes him not to rely on his treasures, nor to "overstep the bounds of moderation" but to deal with his subjects with "undeviating justice"; and acquaints him with the overwhelming burden of His own tribulations. In that same Tablet He asserts <p173> His innocence and His loyalty to the Sultan and his ministers; describes the circumstances of His banishment from the capital; and assures him of His prayers to God on his behalf.

To this same Sultan He, moreover, as attested by the Suriy-i-Ra'is, transmitted, while in Gallipoli, a verbal message through a Turkish officer named Umar, requesting the sovereign to grant Him a ten minute interview, "so that he may demand whatsoever he would deem to be a sufficient testimony and would regard as proof of the veracity of Him Who is the Truth," adding that "should God enable Him to produce it, let him, then, release these wronged ones and leave them to themselves."

To Napoleon III Baha'u'llah addressed a specific Tablet, which was forwarded through one of the French ministers to the Emperor, in which He dwelt on the sufferings endured by Himself and His followers; avowed their innocence; reminded him of his two pronouncements on behalf of the oppressed and the helpless; and, desiring to test the sincerity of his motives, called upon him to "inquire into the condition of such as have been wronged," and "extend his care to the weak," and look upon Him and His fellow-exiles "with the eye of loving-kindness."

To Nasiri'd-Din Shah He revealed a Tablet, the lengthiest epistle to any single sovereign, in which He testified to the unparalleled severity of the troubles that had touched Him; recalled the sovereign's recognition of His innocence on the eve of His departure for Iraq; adjured him to rule with justice; described God's summons to Himself to arise and proclaim His Message; affirmed the disinterestedness of His counsels; proclaimed His belief in the unity of God and in His Prophets; uttered several prayers on the Shah's behalf; justified His own conduct in Iraq; stressed the beneficent influence of His teachings; and laid special emphasis on His condemnation of all forms of violence and mischief. He, moreover, in that same Tablet, demonstrated the validity of His Mission; expressed the wish to be "brought face to face with the divines of the age, and produce proofs and testimonies in the presence of His Majesty," which would establish the truth of His Cause; exposed the perversity of the ecclesiastical leaders in His own days, as well as in the days of Jesus Christ and of Muhammad; prophesied that His sufferings will be followed by the "outpourings of a supreme mercy" and by an "overflowing prosperity"; drew a parallel between the afflictions that had befallen His kindred and those endured by the relatives of the Prophet Muhammad; expatiated on the instability of human affairs; depicted the <p174> city to which He was about to be banished; foreshadowed the future abasement of the ulamas; and concluded with yet another expression of hope that the sovereign might be assisted by God to "aid His Faith and turn towards His justice."

To Ali Pasha, the Grand Vizir, Baha'u'llah addressed the Suriy-i-Ra'is. In this He bids him "hearken to the voice of God"; declares that neither his "grunting," nor the "barking" of those around him, nor "the hosts of the world" can withhold the Almighty from achieving His purpose; accuses him of having perpetrated that which has caused "the Apostle of God to lament in the most sublime Paradise," and of having conspired with the Persian Ambassador to harm Him; forecasts "the manifest loss" in which he would soon find himself; glorifies the Day of His own Revelation; prophesies that this Revelation will "erelong encompass the earth and all that dwell therein," and that the "Land of Mystery (Adrianople) and what is beside it ... shall pass out of the hands of the King, and commotions shall appear, and the voice of lamentation shall be raised, and the evidences of mischief shall be revealed on all sides"; identifies that same Revelation with the Revelations of Moses and of Jesus; recalls the "arrogance" of the Persian Emperor in the days of Muhammad, the "transgression" of Pharaoh in the days of Moses, and of the "impiety" of Nimrod in the days of Abraham; and proclaims His purpose to "quicken the world and unite all its peoples."

The ministers of the Sultan, He, in the Suriy-i-Muluk, reprimands for their conduct, in passages in which He challenges the soundness of their principles, predicts that they will be punished for their acts, denounces their pride and injustice, asserts His integrity and detachment from the vanities of the world, and proclaims His innocence.

The French Ambassador accredited to the Sublime Porte, He, in that same Surih, rebukes for having combined with the Persian Ambassador against Him; reminds him of the counsels of Jesus Christ, as recorded in the Gospel of St. John; warns him that he will be held answerable for the things his hands have wrought; and counsels him, together with those like him, not to deal with any one as he has dealt with Him.

To the Persian Ambassador in Constantinople, He, in that same Tablet, addresses lengthy passages in which He exposes his delusions and calumnies, denounces his injustice and the injustice of his countrymen, assures him that He harbors no ill-will against him, declares that, should he realize the enormity of his deed, he would <p175> mourn all the days of his life, affirms that he will persist till his death in his heedlessness, justifies His own conduct in Tihran and in Iraq, and bears witness to the corruption of the Persian minister in Baghdad and to his collusion with this minister.

To the entire company of the ecclesiastical leaders of Sunni Islam in Constantinople He addresses a specific message in the same Suriy-i-Muluk in which He denounces them as heedless and spiritually dead; reproaches them for their pride and for failing to seek His presence; unveils to them the full glory and significance of His Mission; affirms that their leaders, had they been alive, would have "circled around Him"; condemns them as "worshippers of names" and lovers of leadership; and avows that God will find naught acceptable from them unless they "be made new" in His estimation.

To the wise men of the City of Constantinople and the philosophers of the world He devotes the concluding passages of the Suriy-i-Muluk, in which He cautions them not to wax proud before God; reveals to them the essence of true wisdom; stresses the importance of faith and upright conduct; rebukes them for having failed to seek enlightenment from Him; and counsels them not to "overstep the bounds of God," nor turn their gaze towards the "ways of men and their habits."

To the inhabitants of Constantinople He, in that same Tablet, declares that He "feareth no one except God," that He speaks "naught except at His (God) bidding," that He follows naught save God's truth, that He found the governors and elders of the city as "children gathered about and disporting themselves with clay," and that He perceived no one sufficiently mature to acquire the truths which God had taught Him. He bids them take firm hold on the precepts of God; warns them not to wax proud before God and His loved ones; recalls the tribulations, and extols the virtues, of the Imam Husayn; prays that He Himself may suffer similar afflictions; prophesies that erelong God will raise up a people who will recount His troubles and demand the restitution of His rights from His oppressors; and calls upon them to give ear to His words, and return unto God and repent.

And finally, addressing the people of Persia, He, in that same Tablet, affirms that were they to put Him to death God will assuredly raise up One in His stead, and asserts that the Almighty will "perfect His light" though they, in their secret hearts, abhor it.

So weighty a proclamation, at so critical a period, by the Bearer of so sublime a Message, to the kings of the earth, Muslim and Christian <p176> alike, to ministers and ambassadors, to the ecclesiastical heads of Sunni Islam, to the wise men and inhabitants of Constantinople -- the seat of both the Sultanate and the Caliphate -- to the philosophers of the world and the people of Persia, is not to be regarded as the only outstanding event associated with Baha'u'llah's sojourn in Adrianople. Other developments and happenings of great, though lesser, significance must be noted in these pages, if we would justly esteem the importance of this agitated and most momentous phase of Baha'u'llah's ministry.

It was at this period, and as a direct consequence of the rebellion and appalling downfall of Mirza Yahya, that certain disciples of Baha'u'llah (who may well rank among the "treasures" promised Him by God when bowed down with chains in the Siyah-Chal of Tihran), including among them one of the Letters of the Living, some survivors of the struggle of Tabarsi, and the erudite Mirza Ahmad-i-Azghandi, arose to defend the newborn Faith, to refute, in numerous and detailed apologies, as their Master had done in the Kitab-i-Badi', the arguments of His opponents, and to expose their odious deeds. It was at this period that the limits of the Faith were enlarged, when its banner was permanently planted in the Caucasus by the hand of Mulla Abu-Talib and others whom Nabil had converted, when its first Egyptian center was established at the time when Siyyid Husayn-i-Kashani and Haji Baqir-i-Kashani took up their residence in that country, and when to the lands already warmed and illuminated by the early rays of God's Revelation -- Iraq, Turkey and Persia -- Syria was added. It was in this period that the greeting of "Allah-u-Abha" superseded the old salutation of "Allah-u-Akbar," and was simultaneously adopted in Persia and Adrianople, the first to use it in the former country, at the suggestion of Nabil, being Mulla Muhammad-i-Furughi, one of the defenders of the Fort of Shaykh Tabarsi. It was in this period that the phrase "the people of the Bayan," now denoting the followers of Mirza Yahya, was discarded, and was supplanted by the term "the people of Baha." It was during those days that Nabil, recently honored with the title of Nabil-i-A'zam, in a Tablet specifically addressed to him, in which he was bidden to "deliver the Message" of his Lord "to East and West," arose, despite intermittent persecutions, to tear asunder the "most grievous veil," to implant the love of an adored Master in the hearts of His countrymen, and to champion the Cause which his Beloved had, under such tragic conditions, proclaimed. It was during those same days that Baha'u'llah instructed this same Nabil to recite <p177> on His behalf the two newly revealed Tablets of the Pilgrimage, and to perform, in His stead, the rites prescribed in them, when visiting the Bab's House in Shiraz and the Most Great House in Baghdad -- an act that marks the inception of one of the holiest observances, which, in a later period, the Kitab-i-Aqdas was to formally establish. It was during this period that the "Prayers of Fasting" were revealed by Baha'u'llah, in anticipation of the Law which that same Book was soon to promulgate. It was, too, during the days of Baha'u'llah's banishment to Adrianople that a Tablet was addressed by Him to Mulla Ali-Akbar-i-Shahmirzadi and Jamal-i-Burujirdi, two of His well-known followers in Tihran, instructing them to transfer, with the utmost secrecy, the remains of the Bab from the Imam-Zadih Ma'sum, where they were concealed, to some other place of safety -- an act which was subsequently proved to have been providential, and which may be regarded as marking another stage in the long and laborious transfer of those remains to the heart of Mt. Carmel, and to the spot which He, in His instructions to Abdu'l-Baha, was later to designate. It was during that period that the Suriy-i-Ghusn (Surih of the Branch) was revealed, in which Abdu'l-Baha's future station is foreshadowed, and in which He is eulogized as the "Branch of Holiness," the "Limb of the Law of God," the "Trust of God," "sent down in the form of a human temple" -- a Tablet which may well be regarded as the harbinger of the rank which was to be bestowed upon Him, in the Kitab-i-Aqdas, and which was to be later elucidated and confirmed in the Book of His Covenant. And finally, it was during that period that the first pilgrimages were made to the residence of One Who was now the visible Center of a newly-established Faith -- pilgrimages which by reason of their number and nature, an alarmed government in Persia was first impelled to restrict, and later to prohibit, but which were the precursors of the converging streams of Pilgrims who, from East and West, at first under perilous and arduous circumstances, were to direct their steps towards the prison-fortress of Akka -- pilgrimages which were to culminate in the historic arrival of a royal convert at the foot of Mt. Carmel, who, at the very threshold of a longed-for and much advertised pilgrimage, was so cruelly thwarted from achieving her purpose.

These notable developments, some synchronizing with, and others flowing from, the proclamation of the Faith of Baha'u'llah, and from the internal convulsion which the Cause had undergone, could not escape the attention of the external enemies of the Movement, <p178> who were bent on exploiting to the utmost every crisis which the folly of its friends or the perfidy of renegades might at any time precipitate. The thick clouds had hardly been dissipated by the sudden outburst of the rays of a Sun, now shining from its meridian, when the darkness of another catastrophe -- the last the Author of that Faith was destined to suffer -- fell upon it, blackening its firmament and subjecting it to one of the severest trials it had as yet experienced.

Emboldened by the recent ordeals with which Baha'u'llah had been so cruelly afflicted, these enemies, who had been momentarily quiescent, began to demonstrate afresh, and in a number of ways, the latent animosity they nursed in their hearts. A persecution, varying in the degree of its severity, began once more to break out in various countries. In Adhirbayjan and Zanjan, in Nishapur and Tihran, the adherents of the Faith were either imprisoned, vilified, penalized, tortured or put to death. Among the sufferers may be singled out the intrepid Najaf-'Aliy-i-Zanjani, a survivor of the struggle of Zanjan, and immortalized in the "Epistle to the Son of the Wolf," who, bequeathing the gold in his possession to his executioner, was heard to shout aloud "Ya Rabbiya'l-Abha" before he was beheaded. In Egypt, a greedy and vicious consul-general extorted no less than a hundred thousand tumans from a wealthy Persian convert, named Haji Abu'l-Qasim-i-Shirazi; arrested Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali and six of his fellow-believers, and instigated their condemnation to a nine year exile in Khartum, confiscating all the writings in their possession, and then threw into prison Nabil, whom Baha'u'llah had sent to appeal to the Khedive on their behalf. In Baghdad and Kazimayn indefatigable enemies, watching their opportunity, subjected Baha'u'llah's faithful supporters to harsh and ignominious treatment; savagely disemboweled Abdu'r-Rasul-i-Qumi, as he was carrying water in a skin, at the hour of dawn, from the river to the Most Great House, and banished, amidst scenes of public derision, about seventy companions to Mosul, including women and children.

No less active were Mirza Husayn-Khan, the Mushiru'd-Dawlih, and his associates, who, determined to take full advantage of the troubles that had recently visited Baha'u'llah, arose to encompass His destruction. The authorities in the capital were incensed by the esteem shown Him by the governor Muhammad Pashay-i-Qibrisi, a former Grand Vizir, and his successors Sulayman Pasha, of the Qadiriyyih Order, and particularly Khurshid Pasha, who, openly and on many occasions, frequented the house of Baha'u'llah, entertained <p179> Him in the days of Ramadan, and evinced a fervent admiration for Abdu'l-Baha. They were well aware of the challenging tone Baha'u'llah had assumed in some of His newly revealed Tablets, and conscious of the instability prevailing in their own country. They were disturbed by the constant comings and goings of pilgrims in Adrianople, and by the exaggerated reports of Fu'ad Pasha, who had recently passed through on a tour of inspection. The petitions of Mirza Yahya which reached them through Siyyid Muhammad, his agent, had provoked them. Anonymous letters (written by this same Siyyid and by an accomplice, Aqa Jan, serving in the Turkish artillery) which perverted the writings of Baha'u'llah, and which accused Him of having conspired with Bulgarian leaders and certain ministers of European powers to achieve, with the help of some thousands of His followers, the conquest of Constantinople, had filled their breasts with alarm. And now, encouraged by the internal dissensions which had shaken the Faith, and irritated by the evident esteem in which Baha'u'llah was held by the consuls of foreign powers stationed in Adrianople, they determined to take drastic and immediate action which would extirpate that Faith, isolate its Author and reduce Him to powerlessness. The indiscretions committed by some of its over-zealous followers, who had arrived in Constantinople, no doubt, aggravated an already acute situation.

The fateful decision was eventually arrived at to banish Baha'u'llah to the penal colony of Akka, and Mirza Yahya to Famagusta in Cyprus. This decision was embodied in a strongly worded Farman, issued by Sultan Abdu'l-'Aziz. The companions of Baha'u'llah, who had arrived in the capital, together with a few who later joined them, as well as Aqa Jan, the notorious mischief-maker, were arrested, interrogated, deprived of their papers and flung into prison. The members of the community in Adrianople were, several times, summoned to the governorate to ascertain their number, while rumors were set afloat that they were to be dispersed and banished to different places or secretly put to death.

Suddenly, one morning, the house of Baha'u'llah was surrounded by soldiers, sentinels were posted at its gates, His followers were again summoned by the authorities, interrogated, and ordered to make ready for their departure. "The loved ones of God and His kindred," is Baha'u'llah's testimony in the Suriy-i-Ra'is, "were left on the first night without food... The people surrounded the house, and Muslims and Christians wept over Us... We perceived that the weeping of the people of the Son (Christians) exceeded the weeping of others -- <p180> a sign for such as ponder." "A great tumult seized the people," writes Aqa Rida, one of the stoutest supporters of Baha'u'llah, exiled with him all the way from Baghdad to Akka, "All were perplexed and full of regret... Some expressed their sympathy, others consoled us, and wept over us... Most of our possessions were auctioned at half their value." Some of the consuls of foreign powers called on Baha'u'llah, and expressed their readiness to intervene with their respective governments on His behalf -- suggestions for which He expressed appreciation, but which He firmly declined. "The consuls of that city (Adrianople) gathered in the presence of this Youth at the hour of His departure," He Himself has written, "and expressed their desire to aid Him. They, verily, evinced towards Us manifest affection."

The Persian Ambassador promptly informed the Persian consuls in Iraq and Egypt that the Turkish government had withdrawn its protection from the Babis, and that they were free to treat them as they pleased. Several pilgrims, among whom was Haji Muhammad Isma'il-i-Kashani, surnamed Anis in the Lawh-i-Ra'is, had, in the meantime, arrived in Adrianople, and had to depart to Gallipoli, without even beholding the face of their Master. Two of the companions were forced to divorce their wives, as their relatives refused to allow them to go into exile. Khurshid Pasha, who had already several times categorically denied the written accusations sent him by the authorities in Constantinople, and had interceded vigorously on behalf of Baha'u'llah, was so embarrassed by the action of his government that he decided to absent himself when informed of His immediate departure from the city, and instructed the Registrar to convey to Him the purport of the Sultan's edict. Haji Ja'far-i-Tabrizi, one of the believers, finding that his name had been omitted from the list of the exiles who might accompany Baha'u'llah, cut his throat with a razor, but was prevented in time from ending his life -- an act which Baha'u'llah, in the Suriy-i-Ra'is, characterizes as "unheard of in bygone centuries," and which "God hath set apart for this Revelation, as an evidence of the power of His might."

On the twenty-second of the month of Rabi'u'th-Thani 1285 A.H. (August 12, 1868) Baha'u'llah and His family, escorted by a Turkish captain, Hasan Effendi by name, and other soldiers appointed by the local government, set out on their four-day journey to Gallipoli, riding in carriages and stopping on their way at Uzun-Kupru and Kashanih, at which latter place the Suriy-i-Ra'is was revealed. "The inhabitants of the quarter in which Baha'u'llah had <p181> been living, and the neighbors who had gathered to bid Him farewell, came one after the other," writes an eye-witness, "with the utmost sadness and regret to kiss His hands and the hem of His robe, expressing meanwhile their sorrow at His departure. That day, too, was a strange day. Methinks the city, its walls and its gates bemoaned their imminent separation from Him." "On that day," writes another eye-witness, "there was a wonderful concourse of Muslims and Christians at the door of our Master's house. The hour of departure was a memorable one. Most of those present were weeping and wailing, especially the Christians." "Say," Baha'u'llah Himself declares in the Suriy-i-Ra'is, "this Youth hath departed out of this country and deposited beneath every tree and every stone a trust, which God will erelong bring forth through the power of truth."

Several of the companions who had been brought from Constantinople were awaiting them in Gallipoli. On his arrival Baha'u'llah made the following pronouncement to Hasan Effendi, who, his duty discharged, was taking his leave: "Tell the king that this territory will pass out of his hands, and his affairs will be thrown into confusion." "To this," Aqa Rida, the recorder of that scene has written, "Baha'u'llah furthermore added: 'Not I speak these words, but God speaketh them.' In those moments He was uttering verses which we, who were downstairs, could overhear. They were spoken with such vehemence and power that, methinks, the foundations of the house itself trembled."

Even in Gallipoli, where three nights were spent, no one knew what Baha'u'llah's destination would be. Some believed that He and His brothers would be banished to one place, and the remainder dispersed, and sent into exile. Others thought that His companions would be sent back to Persia, while still others expected their immediate extermination. The government's original order was to banish Baha'u'llah, Aqay-i-Kalim and Mirza Muhammad-Quli, with a servant to Akka, while the rest were to proceed to Constantinople. This order, which provoked scenes of indescribable distress, was, however, at the insistence of Baha'u'llah, and by the instrumentality of Umar Effendi, a major appointed to accompany the exiles, revoked. It was eventually decided that all the exiles, numbering about seventy, should be banished to Akka. Instructions were, moreover, issued that a certain number of the adherents of Mirza Yahya, among whom were Siyyid Muhammad and Aqa Jan, should accompany these exiles, whilst four of the companions of Baha'u'llah were ordered to depart with the Azalis for Cyprus. <p182>

So grievous were the dangers and trials confronting Baha'u'llah at the hour of His departure from Gallipoli that He warned His companions that "this journey will be unlike any of the previous journeys," and that whoever did not feel himself "man enough to face the future" had best "depart to whatever place he pleaseth, and be preserved from tests, for hereafter he will find himself unable to leave" -- a warning which His companions unanimously chose to disregard.

On the morning of the 2nd of Jamadiyu'l-Avval 1285 A.H. (August 21, 1868) they all embarked in an Austrian-Lloyd steamer for Alexandria, touching at Madelli, and stopping for two days at Smyrna, where Jinab-i-Munir, surnamed Ismu'llahu'l-Munib, became gravely ill, and had, to his great distress, to be left behind in a hospital where he soon after died. In Alexandria they transhipped into a steamer of the same company, bound for Haifa, where, after brief stops at Port Said and Jaffa, they landed, setting out, a few hours later, in a sailing vessel, for Akka, where they disembarked, in the course of the afternoon of the 12th of Jamadiyu'l-Avval 1285 A.H. (August 31, 1868). It was at the moment when Baha'u'llah had stepped into the boat which was to carry Him to the landing-stage in Haifa that Abdu'l-Ghaffar, one of the four companions condemned to share the exile of Mirza Yahya, and whose "detachment, love and trust in God" Baha'u'llah had greatly praised, cast himself, in his despair, into the sea, shouting "Ya Baha'u'l-Abha," and was subsequently rescued and resuscitated with the greatest difficulty, only to be forced by adamant officials to continue his voyage, with Mirza Yahya's party, to the destination originally appointed for him. <p183>


Baha'u'llah's Incarceration in Akka

The arrival of Baha'u'llah in Akka marks the opening of the last phase of His forty-year long ministry, the final stage, and indeed the climax, of the banishment in which the whole of that ministry was spent. A banishment that had, at first, brought Him to the immediate vicinity of the strongholds of Shi'ah orthodoxy and into contact with its outstanding exponents, and which, at a later period, had carried Him to the capital of the Ottoman empire, and led Him to address His epoch-making pronouncements to the Sultan, to his ministers and to the ecclesiastical leaders of Sunni Islam, had now been instrumental in landing Him upon the shores of the Holy Land -- the Land promised by God to Abraham, sanctified by the Revelation of Moses, honored by the lives and labors of the Hebrew patriarchs, judges, kings and prophets, revered as the cradle of Christianity, and as the place where Zoroaster, according to Abdu'l-Baha's testimony, had "held converse with some of the Prophets of Israel," and associated by Islam with the Apostle's night-journey, through the seven heavens, to the throne of the Almighty. Within the confines of this holy and enviable country, "the nest of all the Prophets of God," "the Vale of God's unsearchable Decree, the snow-white Spot, the Land of unfading splendor" was the Exile of Baghdad, of Constantinople and Adrianople condemned to spend no less than a third of the allotted span of His life, and over half of the total period of His Mission. "It is difficult," declares Abdu'l-Baha, "to understand how Baha'u'llah could have been obliged to leave Persia, and to pitch His tent in this Holy Land, but for the persecution of His enemies, His banishment and exile."

Indeed such a consummation, He assures us, had been actually prophesied "through the tongue of the Prophets two or three thousand years before." God, "faithful to His promise," had, "to some of the Prophets" "revealed and given the good news that the 'Lord of Hosts should be manifested in the Holy Land.'" Isaiah had, in this connection, announced in his Book: "Get thee up into the high mountain, O Zion that bringest good tidings; lift up thy voice with strength, O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings. Lift it up, be not afraid; <p184> say unto the cities of Judah: 'Behold your God! Behold the Lord God will come with strong hand, and His arm shall rule for Him.'" David, in his Psalms, had predicted: "Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of Glory shall come in. Who is this King of Glory? The Lord of Hosts, He is the King of Glory." "Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined. Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence." Amos had, likewise, foretold His coming: "The Lord will roar from Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem; and the habitations of the shepherds shall mourn, and the top of Carmel shall wither."

Akka, itself, flanked by the "glory of Lebanon," and lying in full view of the "splendor of Carmel," at the foot of the hills which enclose the home of Jesus Christ Himself, had been described by David as "the Strong City," designated by Hosea as "a door of hope," and alluded to by Ezekiel as "the gate that looketh towards the East," whereunto "the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the East," His voice "like a noise of many waters." To it the Arabian Prophet had referred as "a city in Syria to which God hath shown His special mercy," situated "betwixt two mountains ... in the middle of a meadow," "by the shore of the sea ... suspended beneath the Throne," "white, whose whiteness is pleasing unto God." "Blessed the man," He, moreover, as confirmed by Baha'u'llah, had declared, "that hath visited Akka, and blessed he that hath visited the visitor of Akka." Furthermore, "He that raiseth therein the call to prayer, his voice will be lifted up unto Paradise." And again: "The poor of Akka are the kings of Paradise and the princes thereof. A month in Akka is better than a thousand years elsewhere." Moreover, in a remarkable tradition, which is contained in Shaykh Ibnu'l-'Arabi's work, entitled "Futuhat-i-Makkiyyih," and which is recognized as an authentic utterance of Muhammad, and is quoted by Mirza Abu'l-Fadl in his "Fara'id," this significant prediction has been made: "All of them (the companions of the Qa'im) shall be slain except One Who shall reach the plain of Akka, the Banquet-Hall of God."

Baha'u'llah Himself, as attested by Nabil in his narrative, had, as far back as the first years of His banishment to Adrianople, alluded to that same city in His Lawh-i-Sayyah, designating it as the "Vale of Nabil," the word Nabil being equal in numerical value to that of Akka. "Upon Our arrival," that Tablet had predicted, "We were welcomed with banners of light, whereupon the Voice of the Spirit cried out saying: 'Soon will all that dwell on earth be enlisted under these banners.'" <p185>

The banishment, lasting no less than twenty-four years, to which two Oriental despots had, in their implacable enmity and shortsightedness, combined to condemn Baha'u'llah, will go down in history as a period which witnessed a miraculous and truly revolutionizing change in the circumstances attending the life and activities of the Exile Himself, will be chiefly remembered for the widespread recrudescence of persecution, intermittent but singularly cruel, throughout His native country and the simultaneous increase in the number of His followers, and, lastly, for an enormous extension in the range and volume of His writings.

His arrival at the penal colony of Akka, far from proving the end of His afflictions, was but the beginning of a major crisis, characterized by bitter suffering, severe restrictions, and intense turmoil, which, in its gravity, surpassed even the agonies of the Siyah-Chal of Tihran, and to which no other event, in the history of the entire century can compare, except the internal convulsion that rocked the Faith in Adrianople. "Know thou," Baha'u'llah, wishing to emphasize the criticalness of the first nine years of His banishment to that prison-city, has written, "that upon Our arrival at this Spot, We chose to designate it as the 'Most Great Prison.' Though previously subjected in another land (Tihran) to chains and fetters, We yet refused to call it by that name. Say: Ponder thereon, O ye endued with understanding!"

The ordeal He endured, as a direct consequence of the attempt on the life of Nasiri'd-Din Shah, was one which had been inflicted upon Him solely by the external enemies of the Faith. The travail in Adrianople, the effects of which all but sundered the community of the Bab's followers, was, on the other hand, purely internal in character. This fresh crisis which, during almost a decade, agitated Him and His companions, was, however, marked throughout not only by the assaults of His adversaries from without, but by the machinations of enemies from within, as well as by the grievous misdeeds of those who, though bearing His name, perpetrated what made His heart and His pen alike to lament.

Akka, the ancient Ptolemais, the St. Jean d'Acre of the Crusaders, that had successfully defied the siege of Napoleon, had sunk, under the Turks, to the level of a penal colony to which murderers, highway robbers and political agitators were consigned from all parts of the Turkish empire. It was girt about by a double system of ramparts; was inhabited by a people whom Baha'u'llah stigmatized as "the generation of vipers"; was devoid of any source of water within its gates; <p186> was flea-infested, damp and honey-combed with gloomy, filthy and tortuous lanes. "According to what they say," the Supreme Pen has recorded in the Lawh-i-Sultan, "it is 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." So putrid was its air that, according to a proverb, a bird when flying over it would drop dead.

Explicit orders had been issued by the Sultan and his ministers to subject the exiles, who were accused of having grievously erred and led others far astray, to the strictest confinement. Hopes were confidently expressed that the sentence of life-long imprisonment pronounced against them would lead to their eventual extermination. The farman of Sultan Abdu'l-'Aziz, dated the fifth of Rabi'u'th-Thani 1285 A.H. (July 26, 1868), not only condemned them to perpetual banishment, but stipulated their strict incarceration, and forbade them to associate either with each other or with the local inhabitants. The text of the farman itself was read publicly, soon after the arrival of the exiles, in the principal mosque of the city as a warning to the population. The Persian Ambassador, accredited to the Sublime Porte, had thus assured his government, in a letter, written a little over a year after their banishment to Akka: "I have issued telegraphic and written instructions, forbidding that He (Baha'u'llah) associate with any one except His wives and children, or leave under any circumstances, the house wherein He is imprisoned. Abbas-Quli Khan, the Consul-General in Damascus ... I have, three days ago, sent back, instructing him to proceed direct to Akka ... confer with its governor regarding all necessary measures for the strict maintenance of their imprisonment ... and appoint, before his return to Damascus, a representative on the spot to insure that the orders issued by the Sublime Porte will, in no wise, be disobeyed. I have, likewise, instructed him that once every three months he should proceed from Damascus to Akka, and personally watch over them, and submit his report to the Legation." Such was the isolation imposed upon them that the Baha'is of Persia, perturbed by the rumors set afloat by the Azalis of Isfahan that Baha'u'llah had been drowned, induced the British Telegraph office in Julfa to ascertain on their behalf the truth of the matter.

Having, after a miserable voyage, disembarked at Akka, all the exiles, men, women and children, were, under the eyes of a curious and callous population that had assembled at the port to behold the "God of the Persians," conducted to the army barracks, where they <p187> were locked in, and sentinels detailed to guard them. "The first night," Baha'u'llah testifies in the Lawh-i-Ra'is, "all were deprived of either food or drink... They even begged for water, and were refused." So filthy and brackish was the water in the pool of the courtyard that no one could drink it. Three loaves of black and salty bread were assigned to each, which they were later permitted to exchange, when escorted by guards to the market, for two of better quality. Subsequently they were allowed a mere pittance as substitute for the allotted dole of bread. All fell sick, except two, shortly after their arrival. Malaria, dysentery, combined with the sultry heat, added to their miseries. Three succumbed, among them two brothers, who died the same night, "locked," as testified by Baha'u'llah, "in each other's arms." The carpet used by Him He gave to be sold in order to provide for their winding-sheets and burial. The paltry sum obtained after it had been auctioned was delivered to the guards, who had refused to bury them without first being paid the necessary expenses. Later, it was learned that, unwashed and unshrouded, they had buried them, without coffins, in the clothes they wore, though, as affirmed by Baha'u'llah, they were given twice the amount required for their burial. "None," He Himself has written, "knoweth what befell Us, except God, the Almighty, the All-Knowing... From the foundation of the world until the present day a cruelty such as this hath neither been seen nor heard of." "He hath, during the greater part of His life," He, referring to Himself, has, moreover, recorded, "been sore-tried in the clutches of His enemies. His sufferings have now reached their culmination in this afflictive Prison, into which His oppressors have so unjustly thrown Him."

The few pilgrims who, despite the ban that had been so rigidly imposed, managed to reach the gates of the Prison -- some of whom had journeyed the entire distance from Persia on foot -- had to content themselves with a fleeting glimpse of the face of the Prisoner, as they stood, beyond the second moat, facing the window of His Prison. The very few who succeeded in penetrating into the city had, to their great distress, to retrace their steps without even beholding His countenance. The first among them, the self-denying Haji Abu'l-Hasan-i-Ardikani, surnamed Amin-i-Ilahi (Trusted of God), to enter His presence was only able to do so in a public bath, where it had been arranged that he should see Baha'u'llah without approaching Him or giving any sign of recognition. Another pilgrim, Ustad Isma'il-i-Kashi, arriving from Mosul, posted himself on the far side of the moat, and, gazing for hours, in rapt adoration, at the window <p188> of his Beloved, failed in the end, owing to the feebleness of his sight, to discern His face, and had to turn back to the cave which served as his dwelling-place on Mt. Carmel -- an episode that moved to tears the Holy Family who had been anxiously watching from afar the frustration of his hopes. Nabil himself had to precipitately flee the city, where he had been recognized, had to satisfy himself with a brief glimpse of Baha'u'llah from across that same moat, and continued to roam the countryside around Nazareth, Haifa, Jerusalem and Hebron, until the gradual relaxation of restrictions enabled him to join the exiles.

To the galling weight of these tribulations was now added the bitter grief of a sudden tragedy -- the premature loss of the noble, the pious Mirza Mihdi, the Purest Branch, Abdu'l-Baha's twenty-two year old brother, an amanuensis of Baha'u'llah and a companion of His exile from the days when, as a child, he was brought from Tihran to Baghdad to join his Father after His return from Sulaymaniyyih. He was pacing the roof of the barracks in the twilight, one evening, wrapped in his customary devotions, when he fell through the unguarded skylight onto a wooden crate, standing on the floor beneath, which pierced his ribs, and caused, twenty-two hours later, his death, on the 23rd of Rabi'u'l-Avval 1287 A.H. (June 23, 1870). His dying supplication to a grieving Father was that his life might be accepted as a ransom for those who were prevented from attaining the presence of their Beloved.

In a highly significant prayer, revealed by Baha'u'llah in memory of His son -- a prayer that exalts his death to the rank of those great acts of atonement associated with Abraham's intended sacrifice of His son, with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and the martyrdom of the Imam Husayn -- we read the following: "I have, O my Lord, offered up that which Thou hast given Me, that Thy servants may be quickened, and all that dwell on earth be united." And, likewise, these prophetic words, addressed to His martyred son: "Thou art the Trust of God and His Treasure in this Land. Erelong will God reveal through thee that which He hath desired."

After he had been washed in the presence of Baha'u'llah, he "that was created of the light of Baha," to whose "meekness" the Supreme Pen had testified, and of the "mysteries" of whose ascension that same Pen had made mention, was borne forth, escorted by the fortress guards, and laid to rest, beyond the city walls, in a spot adjacent to the shrine of Nabi Salih, from whence, seventy years later, his remains, simultaneously with those of his illustrious mother, were to be <p189> translated to the slopes of Mt. Carmel, in the precincts of the grave of his sister, and under the shadow of the Bab's holy sepulcher.

Nor was this the full measure of the afflictions endured by the Prisoner of Akka and His fellow-exiles. Four months after this tragic event a mobilization of Turkish troops necessitated the removal of Baha'u'llah and all who bore Him company from the barracks. He and His family were accordingly assigned the house of Malik, in the western quarter of the city, whence, after a brief stay of three months, they were moved by the authorities to the house of Khavvam which faced it, and from which, after a few months, they were again obliged to take up new quarters in the house of Rabi'ih, being finally transferred, four months later, to the house of Udi Khammar, which was so insufficient to their needs that in one of its rooms no less than thirteen persons of both sexes had to accommodate themselves. Some of the companions had to take up their residence in other houses, while the remainder were consigned to a caravanserai named the Khan-i-'Avamid.

Their strict confinement had hardly been mitigated, and the guards who had kept watch over them been dismissed, when an internal crisis, which had been brewing in the midst of the community, was brought to a sudden and catastrophic climax. Such had been the conduct of two of the exiles, who had been included in the party that accompanied Baha'u'llah to Akka, that He was eventually forced to expel them, an act of which Siyyid Muhammad did not hesitate to take the fullest advantage. Reinforced by these recruits, he, together with his old associates, acting as spies, embarked on a campaign of abuse, calumny and intrigue, even more pernicious than that which had been launched by him in Constantinople, calculated to arouse an already prejudiced and suspicious populace to a new pitch of animosity and excitement. A fresh danger now clearly threatened the life of Baha'u'llah. Though He Himself had stringently forbidden His followers, on several occasions, both verbally and in writing, any retaliatory acts against their tormentors, and had even sent back to Beirut an irresponsible Arab convert, who had meditated avenging the wrongs suffered by his beloved Leader, seven of the companions clandestinely sought out and slew three of their persecutors, among whom were Siyyid Muhammad and Aqa Jan.

The consternation that seized an already oppressed community was indescribable. Baha'u'llah's indignation knew no bounds. "Were We," He thus voices His emotions, in a Tablet revealed shortly after this act had been committed, "to make mention of what befell Us, <p190> the heavens would be rent asunder and the mountains would crumble." "My captivity," He wrote on another occasion, "cannot harm Me. That which can harm Me is the conduct of those who love Me, who claim to be related to Me, and yet perpetrate what causeth My heart and My pen to groan." And again: "My captivity can bring on Me no shame. Nay, by My life, it conferreth on Me glory. That which can make Me ashamed is the conduct of such of My followers as profess to love Me, yet in fact follow the Evil One."

He was dictating His Tablets to His amanuensis when the governor, at the head of his troops, with drawn swords, surrounded His house. The entire populace, as well as the military authorities, were in a state of great agitation. The shouts and clamor of the people could be heard on all sides. Baha'u'llah was peremptorily summoned to the Governorate, interrogated, kept in custody the first night, with one of His sons, in a chamber in the Khan-i-Shavirdi, transferred for the following two nights to better quarters in that neighborhood, and allowed only after the lapse of seventy hours to regain His home. Abdu'l-Baha was thrown into prison and chained during the first night, after which He was permitted to join His Father. Twenty-five of the companions were cast into another prison and shackled, all of whom, except those responsible for that odious deed, whose imprisonment lasted several years, were, after six days, moved to the Khan-i-Shavirdi, and there placed, for six months, under confinement.

"Is it proper," the Commandant of the city, turning to Baha'u'llah, after He had arrived at the Governorate, boldly inquired, "that some of your followers should act in such a manner?" "If one of your soldiers," was the swift rejoinder, "were to commit a reprehensible act, would you be held responsible, and be punished in his place?" When interrogated, He was asked to state His name and that of the country from which He came. "It is more manifest than the sun," He answered. The same question was put to Him again, to which He gave the following reply: "I deem it not proper to mention it. Refer to the farman of the government which is in your possession." Once again they, with marked deference, reiterated their request, whereupon Baha'u'llah spoke with majesty and power these words: "My name is Baha'u'llah (Light of God), and My country is Nur (Light). Be ye apprized of it." Turning then, to the Mufti, He addressed him words of veiled rebuke, after which He spoke to the entire gathering, in such vehement and exalted language that none made bold to answer Him. Having quoted verses from the Suriy-i-Muluk, <p191> He, afterwards, arose and left the gathering. The Governor, soon after, sent word that He was at liberty to return to His home, and apologized for what had occurred.

A population, already ill-disposed towards the exiles, was, after such an incident, fired with uncontrollable animosity for all those who bore the name of the Faith which those exiles professed. The charges of impiety, atheism, terrorism and heresy were openly and without restraint flung into their faces. Abbud, who lived next door to Baha'u'llah, reinforced the partition that separated his house from the dwelling of his now much-feared and suspected Neighbor. Even the children of the imprisoned exiles, whenever they ventured to show themselves in the streets during those days, would be pursued, vilified and pelted with stones.

The cup of Baha'u'llah's tribulations was now filled to overflowing. A situation, greatly humiliating, full of anxieties and even perilous, continued to face the exiles, until the time, set by an inscrutable Will, at which the tide of misery and abasement began to ebb, signalizing a transformation in the fortunes of the Faith even more conspicuous than the revolutionary change effected during the latter years of Baha'u'llah's sojourn in Baghdad.

The gradual recognition by all elements of the population of Baha'u'llah's complete innocence; the slow penetration of the true spirit of His teachings through the hard crust of their indifference and bigotry; the substitution of the sagacious and humane governor, Ahmad Big Tawfiq, for one whose mind had been hopelessly poisoned against the Faith and its followers; the unremitting labors of Abdu'l-Baha, now in the full flower of His manhood, Who, through His contacts with the rank and file of the population, was increasingly demonstrating His capacity to act as the shield of His Father; the providential dismissal of the officials who had been instrumental in prolonging the confinement of the innocent companions -- all paved the way for the reaction that was now setting in, a reaction with which the period of Baha'u'llah's banishment to Akka will ever remain indissolubly associated.

Such was the devotion gradually kindled in the heart of that governor, through his association with Abdu'l-Baha, and later through his perusal of the literature of the Faith, which mischief-makers, in the hope of angering him, had submitted for his consideration, that he invariably refused to enter His presence without first removing his shoes, as a token of his respect for Him. It was even bruited about that his favored counselors were those very exiles <p192> who were the followers of the Prisoner in his custody. His own son he was wont to send to Abdu'l-Baha for instruction and enlightenment. It was on the occasion of a long-sought audience with Baha'u'llah that, in response to a request for permission to render Him some service, the suggestion was made to him to restore the aqueduct which for thirty years had been allowed to fall into disuse -- a suggestion which he immediately arose to carry out. To the inflow of pilgrims, among whom were numbered the devout and venerable Mulla Sadiq-i-Khurasani and the father of Badi, both survivors of the struggle of Tabarsi, he offered scarcely any opposition, though the text of the imperial farman forbade their admission into the city. Mustafa Diya Pasha, who became governor a few years later, had even gone so far as to intimate that his Prisoner was free to pass through its gates whenever He pleased, a suggestion which Baha'u'llah declined. Even the Mufti of Akka, Shaykh Mahmud, a man notorious for his bigotry, had been converted to the Faith, and, fired by his newborn enthusiasm, made a compilation of the Muhammadan traditions related to Akka. Nor were the occasionally unsympathetic governors, despatched to that city, able, despite the arbitrary power they wielded, to check the forces which were carrying the Author of the Faith towards His virtual emancipation and the ultimate accomplishment of His purpose. Men of letters, and even ulamas residing in Syria, were moved, as the years rolled by, to voice their recognition of Baha'u'llah's rising greatness and power. Aziz Pasha, who, in Adrianople, had evinced a profound attachment to Abdu'l-Baha, and had in the meantime been promoted to the rank of Vali, twice visited Akka for the express purpose of paying his respects to Baha'u'llah, and to renew his friendship with One Whom he had learned to admire and revere.

Though Baha'u'llah Himself practically never granted personal interviews, as He had been used to do in Baghdad, yet such was the influence He now wielded that the inhabitants openly asserted that the noticeable improvement in the climate and water of their city was directly attributable to His continued presence in their midst. The very designations by which they chose to refer to him, such as the "august leader," and "his highness" bespoke the reverence with which He inspired them. On one occasion, a European general who, together with the governor, was granted an audience by Him, was so impressed that he "remained kneeling on the ground near the door." Shaykh Aliy-i-Miri, the Mufti of Akka, had even, at the suggestion of Abdu'l-Baha, to plead insistently that He might permit <p193> the termination of His nine-year confinement within the walls of the prison-city, before He would consent to leave its gates. The garden of Na'mayn, a small island, situated in the middle of a river to the east of the city, honored with the appellation of Ridvan, and designated by Him the "New Jerusalem" and "Our Verdant Isle," had, together with the residence of Abdu'llah Pasha, -- rented and prepared for Him by Abdu'l-Baha, and situated a few miles north of Akka -- become by now the favorite retreats of One Who, for almost a decade, had not set foot beyond the city walls, and Whose sole exercise had been to pace, in monotonous repetition, the floor of His bed-chamber.

Two years later the palace of Udi Khammar, on the construction of which so much wealth had been lavished, while Baha'u'llah lay imprisoned in the barracks, and which its owner had precipitately abandoned with his family owing to the outbreak of an epidemic disease, was rented and later purchased for Him -- a dwelling-place which He characterized as the "lofty mansion," the spot which "God hath ordained as the most sublime vision of mankind." Abdu'l-Baha's visit to Beirut, at the invitation of Midhat Pasha, a former Grand Vizir of Turkey, occurring about this time; His association with the civil and ecclesiastical leaders of that city; His several interviews with the well-known Shaykh Muhammad Abdu served to enhance immensely the growing prestige of the community and spread abroad the fame of its most distinguished member. The splendid welcome accorded him by the learned and highly esteemed Shaykh Yusuf, the Mufti of Nazareth, who acted as host to the valis of Beirut, and who had despatched all the notables of the community several miles on the road to meet Him as He approached the town, accompanied by His brother and the Mufti of Akka, as well as the magnificent reception given by Abdu'l-Baha to that same Shaykh Yusuf when the latter visited Him in Akka, were such as to arouse the envy of those who, only a few years before, had treated Him and His fellow-exiles with feelings compounded of condescension and scorn.

The drastic farman of Sultan Abdu'l-'Aziz, though officially unrepealed, had by now become a dead letter. Though "Baha'u'llah was still nominally a prisoner, "the doors of majesty and true sovereignty were," in the words of Abdu'l-Baha, "flung wide open." "The rulers of Palestine," He moreover has written, "envied His influence and power. Governors and mutisarrifs, generals and local officials, would humbly request the honor of attaining His presence -- a request to which He seldom acceded." <p194>

It was in that same mansion that the distinguished Orientalist, Prof. E. G. Browne of Cambridge, was granted his four successive interviews with Baha'u'llah, during the five days he was His guest at Bahji (April 15-20, 1890), interviews immortalized by the Exile's historic declaration that "these fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars shall pass away and the 'Most Great Peace' shall come." "The face of Him on Whom I gazed," is the interviewer's memorable testimony for posterity, "I can never forget, though I cannot describe it. Those piercing eyes seemed to read one's very soul; power and authority sat on that ample brow.... No need to ask in whose presence I stood, as I bowed myself before one who is the object of a devotion and love which kings might envy and emperors sigh for in vain." "Here," the visitor himself has testified, "did I spend five most memorable days, during which I enjoyed unparalleled and unhoped-for opportunities of holding intercourse with those who are the fountain-heads of that mighty and wondrous spirit, which works with invisible but ever-increasing force for the transformation and quickening of a people who slumber in a sleep like unto death. It was, in truth, a strange and moving experience, but one whereof I despair of conveying any save the feeblest impression."

In that same year Baha'u'llah's tent, the "Tabernacle of Glory," was raised on Mt. Carmel, "the Hill of God and His Vineyard," the home of Elijah, extolled by Isaiah as the "mountain of the Lord," to which "all nations shall flow." Four times He visited Haifa, His last visit being no less than three months long. In the course of one of these visits, when His tent was pitched in the vicinity of the Carmelite Monastery, He, the "Lord of the Vineyard," revealed the Tablet of Carmel, remarkable for its allusions and prophecies. On another occasion He pointed out Himself to Abdu'l-Baha, as He stood on the slopes of that mountain, the site which was to serve as the permanent resting-place of the Bab, and on which a befitting mausoleum was later to be erected.

Properties, bordering on the Lake associated with the ministry of Jesus Christ, were, moreover, purchased at Baha'u'llah's bidding, designed to be consecrated to the glory of His Faith, and to be the forerunners of those "noble and imposing structures" which He, in His Tablets, had anticipated would be raised "throughout the length and breadth" of the Holy Land, as well as of the "rich and sacred territories adjoining the Jordan and its vicinity," which, in those Tablets, He had permitted to be dedicated "to the worship and service of the one true God." <p195>

The enormous expansion in the volume of Baha'u'llah's correspondence; the establishment of a Baha'i agency in Alexandria for its despatch and distribution; the facilities provided by His staunch follower, Muhammad Mustafa, now established in Beirut to safeguard the interests of the pilgrims who passed through that city; the comparative ease with which a titular Prisoner communicated with the multiplying centers in Persia, Iraq, Caucasus, Turkistan, and Egypt; the mission entrusted by Him to Sulayman Khan-i-Tanakabuni, known as Jamal Effendi, to initiate a systematic campaign of teaching in India and Burma; the appointment of a few of His followers as "Hands of the Cause of God"; the restoration of the Holy House in Shiraz, whose custodianship was now formally entrusted by Him to the Bab's wife and her sister; the conversion of a considerable number of the adherents of the Jewish, Zoroastrian and Buddhist Faiths, the first fruits of the zeal and the perseverance which itinerant teachers in Persia, India and Burma were so strikingly displaying -- conversions that automatically resulted in a firm recognition by them of the Divine origin of both Christianity and Islam -- all these attested the vitality of a leadership that neither kings nor ecclesiastics, however powerful or antagonistic, could either destroy or undermine.

Nor should reference be omitted to the emergence of a prosperous community in the newly laid out city of Ishqabad, in Russian Turkistan, assured of the good will of a sympathetic government, enabling it to establish a Baha'i cemetery and to purchase property and erect thereon structures that were to prove the precursors of the first Mashriqu'l-Adhkar of the Baha'i world; or to the establishment of new outposts of the Faith in far-off Samarqand and Bukhara, in the heart of the Asiatic continent, in consequence of the discourses and writings of the erudite Fadil-i-Qa'ini and the learned apologist Mirza Abu'l-Fadl; or to the publication in India of five volumes of the writings of the Author of the Faith, including His "Most Holy Book" -- publications which were to herald the vast multiplication of its literature, in various scripts and languages, and its dissemination, in later decades, throughout both the East and the West.

"Sultan Abdu'l-'Aziz," Baha'u'llah is reported by one of His fellow-exiles to have stated, "banished Us to this country in the greatest abasement, and since his object was to destroy Us and humble Us, whenever the means of glory and ease presented themselves, We did not reject them." "Now, praise be to God," He, moreover, as reported by Nabil in his narrative, once remarked, "it has reached <p196> the point when all the people of these regions are manifesting their submissiveness unto Us." And again, as recorded in that same narrative: "The Ottoman Sultan, without any justification, or reason, arose to oppress Us, and sent Us to the fortress of Akka. His imperial farman decreed that none should associate with Us, and that We should become the object of the hatred of every one. The Hand of Divine power, therefore, swiftly avenged Us. It first loosed the winds of destruction upon his two irreplaceable ministers and confidants, Ali and Fu'ad, after which that Hand was stretched out to roll up the panoply of Aziz himself, and to seize him, as He only can seize, Who is the Mighty, the Strong."

"His enemies," Abdu'l-Baha, referring to this same theme, has written, "intended that His imprisonment should completely destroy and annihilate the blessed Cause, but this prison was, in reality, of the greatest assistance, and became the means of its development." "...This illustrious Being," He, moreover has affirmed, "uplifted His Cause in the Most Great Prison. From this Prison His light was shed abroad; His fame conquered the world, and the proclamation of His glory reached the East and the West." "His light at first had been a star; now it became a mighty sun." "Until our time," He, moreover has affirmed, "no such thing has ever occurred."

Little wonder that, in view of so remarkable a reversal in the circumstances attending the twenty-four years of His banishment to Akka, Baha'u'llah Himself should have penned these weighty words: "The Almighty ... hath transformed this Prison-House into the Most Exalted Paradise, the Heaven of Heavens." <p197>


Baha'u'llah's Incarceration in Akka


While Baha'u'llah and the little band that bore Him company were being subjected to the severe hardships of a banishment intended to blot them from the face of the earth, the steadily expanding community of His followers in the land of His birth were undergoing a persecution more violent and of longer duration than the trials with which He and His companions were being afflicted. Though on a far smaller scale than the blood baths which had baptized the birth of the Faith, when in the course of a single year, as attested by Abdu'l-Baha, "more than four thousand souls were slain, and a great multitude of women and children left without protector and helper," the murderous and horrible acts subsequently perpetrated by an insatiable and unyielding enemy covered as wide a range and were marked by an even greater degree of ferocity.

Nasiri'd-Din Shah, stigmatized by Baha'u'llah as the "Prince of Oppressors," as one who had "perpetrated what hath caused the denizens of the cities of justice and equity to lament," was, during the period under review, in the full tide of his manhood and had reached the plenitude of his despotic power. The sole arbiter of the fortunes of a country "firmly stereotyped in the immemorial traditions of the East"; surrounded by "venal, artful and false" ministers whom he could elevate or abase at his pleasure; the head of an administration in which "every actor was, in different aspects, both the briber and the bribed"; allied, in his opposition to the Faith, with a sacerdotal order which constituted a veritable "church-state"; supported by a people preeminent in atrocity, notorious for its fanaticism, its servility, cupidity and corrupt practices, this capricious monarch, no longer able to lay hands upon the person of Baha'u'llah, had to content himself with the task of attempting to stamp out in his own dominions the remnants of a much-feared and newly resuscitated community. Next to him in rank and power were his three eldest sons, to whom, for purposes of internal administration, he had practically delegated his authority, and in whom he had invested the governorship of all the provinces of his kingdom. The province of <p198> Adhirbayjan he had entrusted to the weak and timid Muzaffari'd-Din Mirza, the heir to his throne, who had fallen under the influence of the Shaykhi sect, and was showing a marked respect to the mullas. To the stern and savage rule of the astute Mas'ud Mirza, commonly known as Zillu's-Sultan, his eldest surviving son, whose mother had been of plebeian origin, he had committed over two-fifths of his kingdom, including the provinces of Yazd and Isfahan, whilst upon Kamran Mirza, his favorite son, commonly called by his title the Nayibu's-Saltanih, he had bestowed the rulership of Gilan and Mazindaran, and made him governor of Tihran, his minister of war and the commander-in-chief of his army. Such was the rivalry between the last two princes, who vied with each other in courting the favor of their father, that each endeavored, with the support of the leading mujtahids within his jurisdiction, to outshine the other in the meritorious task of hunting, plundering and exterminating the members of a defenseless community, who, at the bidding of Baha'u'llah, had ceased to offer armed resistance even in self-defense, and were carrying out His injunction that "it is better to be killed than kill." Nor were the clerical firebrands, Haji Mulla Aliy-i-Kani and Siyyid Sadiq-i-Tabataba'i, the two leading mujtahids of Tihran, together with Shaykh Muhammad-Baqir, their colleague in Isfahan, and Mir Muhammad-Husayn, the Imam-Jum'ih of that city, willing to allow the slightest opportunity to pass without striking, with all the force and authority they wielded, at an adversary whose liberalizing influences they had even more reason to fear than the sovereign himself.

Little wonder that, confronted by a situation so full of peril, the Faith should have been driven underground, and that arrests, interrogations, imprisonment, vituperation, spoliation, tortures and executions should constitute the outstanding features of this convulsive period in its development. The pilgrimages that had been initiated in Adrianople, and which later assumed in Akka impressive proportions, together with the dissemination of the Tablets of Baha'u'llah and the circulation of enthusiastic reports through the medium of those who had attained His presence served, moreover, to inflame the animosity of clergy and laity alike, who had foolishly imagined that the breach which had occurred in the ranks of the followers of the Faith in Adrianople and the sentence of life banishment pronounced subsequently against its Leader, would seal irretrievably its fate.

In Abadih a certain Ustad Ali-Akbar was, at the instigation of a local Siyyid, apprehended and so ruthlessly thrashed that he was <p199> covered from head to foot with his own blood. In the village of Takur, at the bidding of the Shah, the property of the inhabitants was pillaged, Haji Mirza Rida-Quli, a half-brother of Baha'u'llah, was arrested, conducted to the capital and thrown into the Siyah-Chal, where he remained for a month, whilst the brother-in-law of Mirza Hasan, another half-brother of Baha'u'llah, was seized and branded with red-hot irons, after which the neighboring village of Dar-Kala was delivered to the flames.

Aqa Buzurg of Khurasan, the illustrious "Badi'" (Wonderful); converted to the Faith by Nabil; surnamed the "Pride of Martyrs"; the seventeen-year old bearer of the Tablet addressed to Nasiri'd-Din Shah; in whom, as affirmed by Baha'u'llah, "the spirit of might and power was breathed," was arrested, branded for three successive days, his head beaten to a pulp with the butt of a rifle, after which his body was thrown into a pit and earth and stones heaped upon it. After visiting Baha'u'llah in the barracks, during the second year of His confinement, he had arisen with amazing alacrity to carry that Tablet, alone and on foot, to Tihran and deliver it into the hands of the sovereign. A four months' journey had taken him to that city, and, after passing three days in fasting and vigilance, he had met the Shah proceeding on a hunting expedition to Shimiran. He had calmly and respectfully approached His Majesty, calling out, "O King! I have come to thee from Sheba with a weighty message"; whereupon at the Sovereign's order, the Tablet was taken from him and delivered to the mujtahids of Tihran who were commanded to reply to that Epistle -- a command which they evaded, recommending instead that the messenger should be put to death. That Tablet was subsequently forwarded by the Shah to the Persian Ambassador in Constantinople, in the hope that its perusal by the Sultan's ministers might serve to further inflame their animosity. For a space of three years Baha'u'llah continued to extol in His writings the heroism of that youth, characterizing the references made by Him to that sublime sacrifice as the "salt of My Tablets."

Aba-Basir and Siyyid Ashraf, whose fathers had been slain in the struggle of Zanjan, were decapitated on the same day in that city, the former going so far as to instruct, while kneeling in prayer, his executioner as to how best to deal his blow, while the latter, after having been so brutally beaten that blood flowed from under his nails, was beheaded, as he held in his arms the body of his martyred companion. It was the mother of this same Ashraf who, when sent to the prison in the hope that she would persuade her only son to <p200> recant, had warned him that she would disown him were he to denounce his faith, had bidden him follow the example of Aba-Basir, and had even watched him expire with eyes undimmed with tears. The wealthy and prominent Muhammad-Hasan Khan-i-Kashi was so mercilessly bastinadoed in Burujird that he succumbed to his ordeal. In Shiraz Mirza Aqay-i-Rikab-Saz, together with Mirza Rafi'-i-Khayyat and Mashhadi Nabi, were by order of the local mujtahid simultaneously strangled in the dead of night, their graves being later desecrated by a mob who heaped refuse upon them. Shaykh Abu'l-Qasim-i-Mazkani in Kashan, who had declined a drink of water that was offered him before his death, affirming that he thirsted for the cup of martyrdom, was dealt a fatal blow on the nape of his neck, whilst he was prostrating himself in prayer.

Mirza Baqir-i-Shirazi, who had transcribed the Tablets of Baha'u'llah in Adrianople with such unsparing devotion, was slain in Kirman, while in Ardikan the aged and infirm Gul-Muhammad was set upon by a furious mob, thrown to the ground, and so trampled upon by the hob-nailed boots of two siyyids that his ribs were crushed in and his teeth broken, after which his body was taken to the outskirts of the town and buried in a pit, only to be dug up the next day, dragged through the streets, and finally abandoned in the wilderness. In the city of Mashhad, notorious for its unbridled fanaticism, Haji Abdu'l-Majid, who was the eighty-five year old father of the afore-mentioned Badi' and a survivor of the struggle of Tabarsi, and who, after the martyrdom of his son, had visited Baha'u'llah and returned afire with zeal to Khurasan, was ripped open from waist to throat, and his head exposed on a marble slab to the gaze of a multitude of insulting onlookers, who, after dragging his body ignominiously through the bazaars, left it at the morgue to be claimed by his relatives.

In Isfahan Mulla Kazim was beheaded by order of Shaykh Muhammad-Baqir, and a horse made to gallop over his corpse, which was then delivered to the flames, while Siyyid Aqa Jan had his ears cut off, and was led by a halter through the streets and bazaars. A month later occurred in that same city the tragedy of the two famous brothers Mirza Muhammad-Hasan and Mirza Muhammad-Husayn, the "twin shining lights," respectively surnamed "Sultanu'sh-Shuhada" (King of Martyrs) and "Mahbubu'sh-Shuhada" (Beloved of Martyrs), who were celebrated for their generosity, trustworthiness, kindliness and piety. Their martyrdom was instigated by the wicked and dishonest Mir Muhammad-Husayn, the Imam-Jum'ih, stigmatized by <p201> Baha'u'llah as the "she-serpent," who, in view of a large debt he had incurred in his transactions with them, schemed to nullify his obligations by denouncing them as Babis, and thereby encompassing their death. Their richly-furnished houses were plundered, even to the trees and flowers in their gardens, all their remaining possessions were confiscated; Shaykh Muhammad-Baqir, denounced by Baha'u'llah as the "wolf," pronounced their death-sentence; the Zillu's-Sultan ratified the decision, after which they were put in chains, decapitated, dragged to the Maydan-i-Shah, and there exposed to the indignities heaped upon them by a degraded and rapacious populace. "In such wise," Abdu'l-Baha has written, "was the blood of these two brothers shed that the Christian priest of Julfa cried out, lamented and wept on that day." For several years Baha'u'llah in His Tablets continued to make mention of them, to voice His grief over their passing and to extol their virtues.

Mulla Ali Jan was conducted on foot from Mazindaran to Tihran, the hardships of that journey being so severe that his neck was wounded and his body swollen from the waist to the feet. On the day of his martyrdom he asked for water, performed his ablutions, recited his prayers, bestowed a considerable gift of money on his executioner, and was still in the act of prayer when his throat was slit by a dagger, after which his corpse was spat upon, covered with mud, left exposed for three days, and finally hewn to pieces. In Namiq Mulla Ali, converted to the Faith in the days of the Bab, was so severely attacked and his ribs so badly broken with a pick-axe that he died immediately. Mirza Ashraf was slain in Isfahan, his corpse trampled under foot by Shaykh Muhammad Taqiy-i-Najafi, the "son of the wolf," and his pupils, savagely mutilated, and delivered to the mob to be burnt, after which his charred bones were buried beneath the ruins of a wall that was pulled down to cover them.

In Yazd, at the instigation of the mujtahid of that city, and by order of the callous Mahmud Mirza, the Jalalu'd-Dawlih, the governor, a son of Zillu's-Sultan, seven were done to death in a single day in horrible circumstances. The first of these, a twenty-seven year old youth, Ali-Asghar, was strangled, his body delivered into the hands of some Jews who, forcing the dead man's six companions to come with them, dragged the corpse through the streets, surrounded by a mob of people and soldiers beating drums and blowing trumpets, after which, arriving near the Telegraph Office, they beheaded the eighty-five year old Mulla Mihdi and dragged him in the same manner <p202> to another quarter of the city, where, in view of a great throng of onlookers, frenzied by the throbbing strains of the music, they executed Aqa Ali in like manner. Proceeding thence to the house of the local mujtahid, and carrying with them the four remaining companions, they cut the throat of Mulla Aliy-i-Sabzivari, who had been addressing the crowd and glorying in his imminent martyrdom, hacked his body to pieces with a spade, while he was still alive, and pounded his skull to a pulp with stones. In another quarter, near the Mihriz gate, they slew Muhammad-Baqir, and afterwards, in the Maydan-i-Khan, as the music grew wilder and drowned the yells of the people, they beheaded the survivors who remained, two brothers in their early twenties, Ali-Asghar and Muhammad-Hasan. The stomach of the latter was ripped open and his heart and liver plucked out, after which his head was impaled on a spear, carried aloft, to the accompaniment of music, through the streets of the city, and suspended on a mulberry tree, and stoned by a great concourse of people. His body was cast before the door of his mother's house, into which women deliberately entered to dance and make merry. Even pieces of their flesh were carried away to be used as a medicament. Finally, the head of Muhammad-Hasan was attached to the lower part of his body and, together with those of the other martyrs, was borne to the outskirts of the city and so viciously pelted with stones that the skulls were broken, whereupon they compelled the Jews to carry the remains and throw them into a pit in the plain of Salsabil. A holiday was declared by the governor for the people, all the shops were closed by his order, the city was illuminated at night, and festivities proclaimed the consummation of one of the most barbarous acts perpetrated in modern times.

Nor were the Jews and the Parsis who had been newly converted to the Faith, and were living, the former in Hamadan, and the latter in Yazd, immune to the assaults of enemies whose fury was exasperated by the evidences of the penetration of the light of the Faith in quarters they had fondly imagined to be beyond its reach. Even in the city of Ishqabad the newly established Shi'ah community, envious of the rising prestige of the followers of Baha'u'llah who were living in their midst, instigated two ruffians to assault the seventy-year old Haji Muhammad-Riday-i-Isfahani, whom, in broad day and in the midst of the bazaar, they stabbed in no less than thirty-two places, exposing his liver, lacerating his stomach and tearing open his breast. A military court dispatched by the Czar to Ishqabad established, after prolonged investigation, the guilt of the <p203> Shi'ahs, sentencing two to death and banishing six others -- a sentence which neither Nasiri'd-Din Shah, nor the ulamas of Tihran, of Mashhad and of Tabriz, who were appealed to, could mitigate, but which the representatives of the aggrieved community, through their magnanimous intercession which greatly surprised the Russian authorities, succeeded in having commuted to a lighter punishment.

Such are some typical examples of the treatment meted out by the adversaries of the Faith to the newly resurgent community of its followers during the period of Baha'u'llah's banishment to Akka -- a treatment which it may be truly said testified alternately to "the callousness of the brute and the ingenuity of the fiend."

The "inquisition and appalling tortures," following the attempt on the life of Nasiri'd-Din Shah, had already, in the words of no less eminent an observer than Lord Curzon of Kedleston, imparted to the Faith "a vitality which no other impulse could have secured." This recrudescence of persecution, this fresh outpouring of the blood of martyrs, served to further enliven the roots which that holy Sapling had already struck in its native soil. Careless of the policy of fire and blood which aimed at their annihilation, undismayed by the tragic blows rained upon a Leader so far removed from their midst, uncorrupted by the foul and seditious acts perpetrated by the Arch-Breaker of the Bab's Covenant, the followers of Baha'u'llah were multiplying in number and silently gathering the necessary strength that was to enable them, at a later stage, to lift their heads in freedom, and rear the fabric of their institutions.

Soon after his visit to Persia in the autumn of 1889 Lord Curzon of Kedleston wrote, in the course of references designed to dispel the "great confusion" and "error" prevailing "among European and specially English writers" regarding the Faith, that "the Baha'is are now believed to comprise nineteen-twentieths of the Babi persuasion." Count Gobineau, writing as far back as the year 1865, testified as follows: "L'opinion generale est que les Babis sont repandus dans toutes les classes de la population et parmi tous les religionnaires de la Perse, sauf les Nusayris et les Chretiens; mais ce sont surtout les classes eclairees, les hommes pratiquant les sciences du pays, qui sont donnes comme tres suspects. On pense, et avec raison, ce semble, que beaucoup de mullas, et parmi eux des mujtahids considerables, des magistrats d'un rang eleve, des hommes qui occupent a la cour des fonctions importantes et qui approchent de pres la personne du Roi, sont des Babis. D'apres un calcul fait recemment, il y aurait a Tihran cinq milles de ces religionnaires sur une population de quatre-vingt <p204> milles ames a peu pres." Furthermore: "...Le Babisme a pris une action considerable sur l'intelligence de la nation persane, et, se rependant meme au dela des limites du territoire, il a deborde dans le pachalik de Baghdad, et passe aussi dans l'Inde." And again: "...Un mouvement religieux tout particulier dont l'Asie Centrale, c'est-a-dire la Perse, quelques points de l'Inde et une partie de la Turquie d'Asie, aux environs de Baghdad, est aujourd'hui vivement preoccupee, mouvement remarquable et digne d'etre etudie a tous les titres. Il permet d'assister a des developpements de faits, a des manifestations, a des catastrophes telles que l'on n'est pas habitue a les imaginer ailleurs que dans les temps recules ou se sont produites les grandes religions."

"These changes, however," Lord Curzon, alluding to the Declaration of the Mission of Baha'u'llah and the rebellion of Mirza Yahya, has, moreover written, "have in no wise impaired, but appear on the contrary, to have stimulated its propaganda, which has advanced with a rapidity inexplicable to those who can only see therein a crude form of political or even of metaphysical fermentation. The lowest estimate places the present number of Babis in Persia at half a million. I am disposed to think, from conversations with persons well qualified to judge, that the total is nearer one million." "They are to be found," he adds, "in every walk of life, from the ministers and nobles of the Court to the scavenger or the groom, not the least arena of their activity being the Musulman priesthood itself." "From the facts," is another testimony of his, "that Babism in its earliest years found itself in conflict with the civil powers, and that an attempt was made by Babis upon the life of the Shah, it has been wrongly inferred that the movement was political in origin and Nihilist in character... At the present time the Babis are equally loyal with any other subjects of the Crown. Nor does there appear to be any greater justice in the charges of socialism, communism and immorality that have so freely been levelled at the youthful persuasion ...The only communism known to and recommended by Him (the Bab) was that of the New Testament and the early Christian Church, viz., the sharing of goods in common by members of the Faith, and the exercise of alms-giving, and an ample charity. The charge of immorality seems to have arisen partly from the malignant inventions of opponents, partly from the much greater freedom claimed for women by the Bab, which in the oriental mind is scarcely dissociable from profligacy of conduct." And, finally, the following prognostication from his pen: "If Babism continues to grow at its <p205> present rate of progression, a time may conceivably come when it will oust Muhammadanism from the field in Persia. This, I think, it would be unlikely to do, did it appear upon the ground under the flag of a hostile faith. But since its recruits are won from the best soldiers of the garrison whom it is attacking, there is greater reason to believe that it may ultimately prevail."

Baha'u'llah's incarceration in the prison-fortress of Akka, the manifold tribulations He endured, the prolonged ordeal to which the community of His followers in Persia was being subjected, did not arrest, nor could they even impede, to the slightest degree, the mighty stream of Divine Revelation, which, without interruption, had been flowing from His pen, and on which the future orientation, the integrity, the expansion and the consolidation of His Faith directly depended. Indeed, in their scope and volume, His writings, during the years of His confinement in the Most Great Prison, surpassed the outpourings of His pen in either Adrianople or Baghdad. More remarkable than the radical transformation in the circumstances of His own life in Akka, more far-reaching in its spiritual consequences than the campaign of repression pursued so relentlessly by the enemies of His Faith in the land of His birth, this unprecedented extension in the range of His writings, during His exile in that Prison, must rank as one of the most vitalizing and fruitful stages in the evolution of His Faith.

The tempestuous winds that swept the Faith at the inception of His ministry and the wintry desolation that marked the beginnings of His prophetic career, soon after His banishment from Tihran, were followed during the latter part of His sojourn in Baghdad, by what may be described as the vernal years of His Mission -- years which witnessed the bursting into visible activity of the forces inherent in that Divine Seed that had lain dormant since the tragic removal of His Forerunner. With His arrival in Adrianople and the proclamation of His Mission the Orb of His Revelation climbed as it were to its zenith, and shone, as witnessed by the style and tone of His writings, in the plenitude of its summer glory. The period of His incarceration in Akka brought with it the ripening of a slowly maturing process, and was a period during which the choicest fruits of that mission were ultimately garnered.

The writings of Baha'u'llah during this period, as we survey the vast field which they embrace, seem to fall into three distinct categories. The first comprises those writings which constitute the sequel to the proclamation of His Mission in Adrianople. The second <p206> includes the laws and ordinances of His Dispensation, which, for the most part, have been recorded in the Kitab-i-Aqdas, His Most Holy Book. To the third must be assigned those Tablets which partly enunciate and partly reaffirm the fundamental tenets and principles underlying that Dispensation.

The Proclamation of His Mission had been, as already observed, directed particularly to the kings of the earth, who, by virtue of the power and authority they wielded, were invested with a peculiar and inescapable responsibility for the destinies of their subjects. It was to these kings, as well as to the world's religious leaders, who exercised a no less pervasive influence on the mass of their followers, that the Prisoner of Akka directed His appeals, warnings, and exhortations during the first years of His incarceration in that city. "Upon Our arrival at this Prison," He Himself affirms, "We purposed to transmit to the kings the messages of their Lord, the Mighty, the All-Praised. Though We have transmitted to them, in several Tablets, that which We were commanded, yet We do it once again, as a token of God's grace."

To the kings of the earth, both in the East and in the West, both Christian and Muslim, who had already been collectively admonished and warned in the Suriy-i-Muluk revealed in Adrianople, and had been so vehemently summoned by the Bab, in the opening chapter of the Qayyumu'l-Asma', on the very night of the Declaration of His Mission, Baha'u'llah, during the darkest days of His confinement in Akka, addressed some of the noblest passages of His Most Holy Book. In these passages He called upon them to take fast hold of the "Most Great Law"; proclaimed Himself to be "the King of Kings" and "the Desire of all Nations"; declared them to be His "vassals" and "emblems of His sovereignty"; disclaimed any intention of laying hands on their kingdoms; bade them forsake their palaces, and hasten to gain admittance into His Kingdom; extolled the king who would arise to aid His Cause as "the very eye of mankind"; and finally arraigned them for the things which had befallen Him at their hands.

In His Tablet to Queen Victoria He, moreover, invites these kings to hold fast to "the Lesser Peace," since they had refused "the Most Great Peace"; exhorts them to be reconciled among themselves, to unite and to reduce their armaments; bids them refrain from laying excessive burdens on their subjects, who, He informs them, are their "wards" and "treasures"; enunciates the principle that should any one among them take up arms against another, all should rise against him; <p207> and warns them not to deal with Him as the "King of Islam" and his ministers had dealt.

To the Emperor of the French, Napoleon III, the most prominent and influential monarch of his day in the West, designated by Him as the "Chief of Sovereigns," and who, to quote His words, had "cast behind his back" the Tablet revealed for him in Adrianople, He, while a prisoner in the army barracks, addressed a second Tablet and transmitted it through the French agent in Akka. In this He announces the coming of "Him Who is the Unconstrained," whose purpose is to "quicken the world" and unite its peoples; unequivocally asserts that Jesus Christ was the Herald of His Mission; proclaims the fall of "the stars of the firmament of knowledge," who have turned aside from Him; exposes that monarch's insincerity; and clearly prophesies that his kingdom shall be "thrown into confusion," that his "empire shall pass" from his hands, and that "commotions shall seize all the people in that land," unless he arises to help the Cause of God and follow Him Who is His Spirit.

In memorable passages addressed to "the Rulers of America and the Presidents of the Republics therein" He, in His Kitab-i-Aqdas, calls upon them to "adorn the temple of dominion with the ornament of justice and of the fear of God, and its head with the crown of remembrance" of their Lord; declares that "the Promised One" has been made manifest; counsels them to avail themselves of the "Day of God"; and bids them "bind with the hands of justice the broken" and "crush" the "oppressor" with "the rod of the commandments of their Lord, the Ordainer, the All-Wise."

To Nicolaevitch Alexander II, the all-powerful Czar of Russia, He addressed, as He lay a prisoner in the barracks, an Epistle wherein He announces the advent of the promised Father, Whom "the tongue of Isaiah hath extolled," and "with Whose name both the Torah and the Evangel were adorned"; commands him to "arise ... and summon the nations unto God"; warns him to beware lest his sovereignty withhold him from "Him Who is the Supreme Sovereign"; acknowledges the aid extended by his Ambassador in Tihran; and cautions him not to forfeit the station ordained for him by God.

To Queen Victoria He, during that same period, addressed an Epistle in which He calls upon her to incline her ear to the voice of her Lord, the Lord of all mankind; bids her "cast away all that is on earth," and set her heart towards her Lord, the Ancient of Days; asserts that "all that hath been mentioned in the Gospel hath been fulfilled"; assures her that God would reward her for having "forbidden <p208> the trading in slaves," were she to follow what has been sent unto her by Him; commends her for having "entrusted the reins of counsel into the hands of the representatives of the people"; and exhorts them to "regard themselves as the representatives of all that dwell on earth," and to judge between men with "pure justice."

In a celebrated passage addressed to William I, King of Prussia and newly-acclaimed emperor of a unified Germany, He, in His Kitab-i-Aqdas, bids the sovereign hearken to His Voice, the Voice of God Himself; warns him to take heed lest his pride debar him from recognizing "the Day-Spring of Divine Revelation," and admonishes him to "remember the one (Napoleon III) whose power transcended" his power, and who "went down to dust in great loss." Furthermore, in that same Book, apostrophizing the "banks of the Rhine," He predicts that "the swords of retribution" would be drawn against them, and that "the lamentations of Berlin" would be raised, though at that time she was "in conspicuous glory."

In another notable passage of that same Book, addressed to Francis-Joseph, the Austrian Emperor and heir of the Holy Roman Empire, Baha'u'llah reproves the sovereign for having neglected to inquire about Him in the course of a pilgrimage to Jerusalem; takes God to witness that He had found him "clinging unto the Branch and heedless of the Root"; grieves to observe his waywardness; and bids him open his eyes and gaze on "the Light that shineth above this luminous Horizon."

To Ali Pasha, the Grand Vizir of the Sultan of Turkey He addressed, shortly after His arrival in Akka, a second Tablet, in which He reprimands him for his cruelty "that hath made hell to blaze and the Spirit to lament"; recounts his acts of oppression; condemns him as one of those who, from time immemorial, have denounced the Prophets as stirrers of mischief; prophesies his downfall; expatiates on His own sufferings and those of His fellow-exiles; extolls their fortitude and detachment; predicts that God's "wrathful anger" will seize him and his government, that "sedition will be stirred up" in their midst, and that their "dominions will be disrupted"; and affirms that were he to awake, he would abandon all his possessions, and would "choose to abide in one of the dilapidated rooms of this Most Great Prison." In the Lawh-i-Fu'ad, in the course of His reference to the premature death of the Sultan's Foreign Minister, Fu'ad Pasha, He thus confirms His above-mentioned prediction: "Soon will We dismiss the one (Ali Pasha) who was like unto him <p209> and will lay hold on their Chief (Sultan Abdu'l-'Aziz) who ruleth the land, and I, verily, am the Almighty, the All-Compelling."

No less outspoken and emphatic are the messages, some embodied in specific Tablets, others interspersed through His writings, which Baha'u'llah addressed to the world's ecclesiastical leaders of all denominations -- messages in which He discloses, clearly and unreservedly, the claims of His Revelation, summons them to heed His call, and denounces, in certain specific cases, their perversity, their extreme arrogance and tyranny.

In immortal passages of His Kitab-i-Aqdas and other Tablets He bids the entire company of these ecclesiastical leaders to "fear God," to "rein in" their pens, "fling away idle fancies and imaginings, and turn then towards the Horizon of Certitude"; warns them to "weigh not the Book of God (Kitab-i-Aqdas) with such standards and sciences as are current" amongst them; designates that same Book as the "Unerring Balance established amongst men"; laments over their blindness and waywardness; asserts His superiority in vision, insight, utterance and wisdom; proclaims His innate and God-given knowledge; cautions them not to "shut out the people by yet another veil," after He Himself had "rent the veils asunder"; accuses them of having been "the cause of the repudiation of the Faith in its early days"; and adjures them to "peruse with fairness and justice that which hath been sent down" by Him, and to "nullify not the Truth" with the things they possess.

To Pope Pius IX, the undisputed head of the most powerful Church in Christendom, possessor of both temporal and spiritual authority, He, a Prisoner in the army barracks of the penal-colony of Akka, addressed a most weighty Epistle, in which He announces that "He Who is the Lord of Lords is come overshadowed with clouds," and that "the Word which the Son concealed is made manifest." He, moreover, warns him not to dispute with Him even as the Pharisees of old disputed with Jesus Christ; bids him leave his palaces unto such as desire them, "sell all the embellished ornaments" in his possession, "expend them in the path of God," abandon his kingdom unto the kings, "arise ... amidst the peoples of the earth," and summon them to His Faith. Regarding him as one of the suns of the heaven of God's names, He cautions him to guard himself lest "darkness spread its veils" over him; calls upon him to "exhort the kings" to "deal equitably with men"; and counsels him to walk in the footsteps of his Lord, and follow His example.

To the patriarchs of the Christian Church He issued a specific <p210> summons in which He proclaims the coming of the Promised One; exhorts them to "fear God" and not to follow "the vain imaginings of the superstitious"; and directs them to lay aside the things they possess and "take fast hold of the Tablet of God by His sovereign power." To the archbishops of that Church He similarly declares that "He Who is the Lord of all men hath appeared," that they are "numbered with the dead," and that great is the blessedness of him who is "stirred by the breeze of God, and hath arisen from amongst the dead in this perspicuous Name." In passages addressed to its bishops He proclaims that "the Everlasting Father calleth aloud between earth and heaven," pronounces them to be the fallen stars of the heaven of His knowledge, and affirms that His body "yearneth for the cross" and His head is "eager for the spear in the path of the All-Merciful." The concourse of Christian priests He bids "leave the bells," and come forth from their churches; exhorts them to "proclaim aloud the Most Great Name among the nations"; assures them that whoever will summon men in His Name will "show forth that which is beyond the power of all that are on earth"; warns them that the "Day of Reckoning hath appeared"; and counsels them to turn with their hearts to their "Lord, the Forgiving, the Generous." In numerous passages addressed to the "concourse of monks" He bids them not to seclude themselves in churches and cloisters, but to occupy themselves with that which will profit their souls and the souls of men; enjoins them to enter into wedlock; and affirms that if they choose to follow Him He will make them heirs of His Kingdom, and that if they transgress against Him, He will, in His long-suffering, endure it patiently.

And finally, in several passages addressed to the entire body of the followers of Jesus Christ He identifies Himself with the "Father" spoken of by Isaiah, with the "Comforter" Whose Covenant He Who is the Spirit (Jesus) had Himself established, and with the "Spirit of Truth" Who will guide them "into all truth"; proclaims His Day to be the Day of God; announces the conjunction of the river Jordan with the "Most Great Ocean"; asserts their heedlessness as well as His own claim to have opened unto them "the gates of the kingdom"; affirms that the promised "Temple" has been built "with the hands of the will" of their Lord, the Mighty, the Bounteous; bids them "rend the veils asunder," and enter in His name His Kingdom; recalls the saying of Jesus to Peter; and assures them that, if they choose to follow Him, He will make them to become "quickeners of mankind."

To the entire body of Muslim ecclesiastics Baha'u'llah specifically devoted innumerable passages in His Books and Tablets, wherein He, <p211> in vehement language, denounces their cruelty; condemns their pride and arrogance; calls upon them to lay aside the things they possess, to hold their peace, and give ear to the words He has spoken; and asserts that, by reason of their deeds, "the exalted station of the people hath been abased, the standard of Islam hath been reversed, and its mighty throne hath fallen." To the "concourse of Persian divines" He more particularly addressed His condemnatory words in which He stigmatizes their deeds, and prophesies that their "glory will be turned into the most wretched abasement," and that they shall behold the punishment which will be inflicted upon them, "as decreed by God, the Ordainer, the All-Wise."

To the Jewish people, He, moreover, announced that the Most Great Law has come, that "the Ancient Beauty ruleth upon the throne of David," Who cries aloud and invokes His Name, that "from Zion hath appeared that which was hidden," and that "from Jerusalem is heard the Voice of God, the One, the Incomparable, the Omniscient."

To the "high priests" of the Zoroastrian Faith He, furthermore, proclaimed that "the Incomparable Friend" is manifest, that He "speaketh that wherein lieth salvation," that "the Hand of Omnipotence is stretched forth from behind the clouds," that the tokens of His majesty and greatness are unveiled; and declared that "no man's acts shall be acceptable in this day unless he forsaketh mankind and all that men possess, and setteth his face towards the Omnipotent One."

Some of the weightiest passages of His Epistle to Queen Victoria are addressed to the members of the British Legislature, the Mother of Parliaments, as well as to the elected representatives of the peoples in other lands. In these He asserts that His purpose is to quicken the world and unite its peoples; refers to the treatment meted out to Him by His enemies; exhorts the legislators to "take counsel together," and to concern themselves only "with that which profiteth mankind"; and affirms that the "sovereign remedy" for the "healing of all the world" is the "union of all its peoples in one universal Cause, one common Faith," which can "in no wise be achieved except through the power of a skilled and all-powerful and inspired Physician." He, moreover, in His Most Holy Book, has enjoined the selection of a single language and the adoption of a common script for all on earth to use, an injunction which, when carried out, would, as He Himself affirms in that Book, be one of the signs of the "coming of age of the human race."

No less significant are the words addressed separately by Him to the "people of the Bayan," to the wise men of the world, to its poets, to its men of letters, to its mystics and even to its tradesmen, in which <p212> He exhorts them to be attentive to His voice, to recognize His Day, and to follow His bidding.

Such in sum are the salient features of the concluding utterances of that historic Proclamation, the opening notes of which were sounded during the latter part of Baha'u'llah's banishment to Adrianople, and which closed during the early years of His incarceration in the prison-fortress of Akka. Kings and emperors, severally and collectively; the chief magistrates of the Republics of the American continent; ministers and ambassadors; the Sovereign Pontiff himself; the Vicar of the Prophet of Islam; the royal Trustee of the Kingdom of the Hidden Imam; the monarchs of Christendom, its patriarchs, archbishops, bishops, priests and monks; the recognized leaders of both the Sunni and Shi'ah sacerdotal orders; the high priests of the Zoroastrian religion; the philosophers, the ecclesiastical leaders, the wise men and the inhabitants of Constantinople -- that proud seat of both the Sultanate and the Caliphate; the entire company of the professed adherents of the Zoroastrian, the Jewish, the Christian and Muslim Faiths; the people of the Bayan; the wise men of the world, its men of letters, its poets, its mystics, its tradesmen, the elected representatives of its peoples; His own countrymen -- all have, at one time or another, in books, Epistles, and Tablets, been brought directly within the purview of the exhortations, the warnings, the appeals, the declarations and the prophecies which constitute the theme of His momentous summons to the leaders of mankind -- a summons which stands unparalleled in the annals of any previous religion, and to which the messages directed by the Prophet of Islam to some of the rulers among His contemporaries alone offer a faint resemblance.

"Never since the beginning of the world," Baha'u'llah Himself affirms, "hath the Message been so openly proclaimed." "Each one of them," He, specifically referring to the Tablets addressed by Him to the sovereigns of the earth -- Tablets acclaimed by Abdu'l-Baha as a "miracle" -- has written, "hath been designated by a special name. The first hath been named 'The Rumbling,' the second 'The Blow,' the third 'The Inevitable,' the fourth 'The Plain,' the fifth 'The Catastrophe,' and the others 'The Stunning Trumpet-Blast,' 'The Near Event,' 'The Great Terror,' 'The Trumpet,' 'The Bugle,' and the like, so that all the peoples of the earth may know, of a certainty, and may witness, with outward and inner eyes, that He Who is the Lord of Names hath prevailed, and will continue to prevail, under all conditions, over all men." The most important of these Tablets, together with the celebrated Suriy-i-Haykal (the Surih of the Temple), He, <p213> moreover, ordered to be written in the shape of a pentacle, symbolizing the temple of man, and which He identified, when addressing the followers of the Gospel in one of His Tablets, with the "Temple" mentioned by the Prophet Zechariah, and designated as "the resplendent dawning-place of the All-Merciful," and which "the hands of the power of Him Who is the Causer of Causes" had built.

Unique and stupendous as was this Proclamation, it proved to be but a prelude to a still mightier revelation of the creative power of its Author, and to what may well rank as the most signal act of His ministry -- the promulgation of the Kitab-i-Aqdas. Alluded to in the Kitab-i-Iqan; the principal repository of that Law which the Prophet Isaiah had anticipated, and which the writer of the Apocalypse had described as the "new heaven" and the "new earth," as "the Tabernacle of God," as the "Holy City," as the "Bride," the "New Jerusalem coming down from God," this "Most Holy Book," whose provisions must remain inviolate for no less than a thousand years, and whose system will embrace the entire planet, may well be regarded as the brightest emanation of the mind of Baha'u'llah, as the Mother Book of His Dispensation, and the Charter of His New World Order.

Revealed soon after Baha'u'llah had been transferred to the house of Udi Khammar (circa 1873), at a time when He was still encompassed by the tribulations that had afflicted Him, through the acts committed by His enemies and the professed adherents of His Faith, this Book, this treasury enshrining the priceless gems of His Revelation, stands out, by virtue of the principles it inculcates, the administrative institutions it ordains and the function with which it invests the appointed Successor of its Author, unique and incomparable among the world's sacred Scriptures. For, unlike the Old Testament and the Holy Books which preceded it, in which the actual precepts uttered by the Prophet Himself are non-existent; unlike the Gospels, in which the few sayings attributed to Jesus Christ afford no clear guidance regarding the future administration of the affairs of His Faith; unlike even the Qur'an which, though explicit in the laws and ordinances formulated by the Apostle of God, is silent on the all-important subject of the succession, the Kitab-i-Aqdas, revealed from first to last by the Author of the Dispensation Himself, not only preserves for posterity the basic laws and ordinances on which the fabric of His future World Order must rest, but ordains, in addition to the function of interpretation which it confers upon His Successor, the necessary institutions through <p214> which the integrity and unity of His Faith can alone be safeguarded.

In this Charter of the future world civilization its Author -- at once the Judge, the Lawgiver, the Unifier and Redeemer of mankind -- announces to the kings of the earth the promulgation of the "Most Great Law"; pronounces them to be His vassals; proclaims Himself the "King of Kings"; disclaims any intention of laying hands on their kingdoms; reserves for Himself the right to "seize and possess the hearts of men"; warns the world's ecclesiastical leaders not to weigh the "Book of God" with such standards as are current amongst them; and affirms that the Book itself is the "Unerring Balance" established amongst men. In it He formally ordains the institution of the "House of Justice," defines its functions, fixes its revenues, and designates its members as the "Men of Justice," the "Deputies of God," the "Trustees of the All-Merciful," alludes to the future Center of His Covenant, and invests Him with the right of interpreting His holy Writ; anticipates by implication the institution of Guardianship; bears witness to the revolutionizing effect of His World Order; enunciates the doctrine of the "Most Great Infallibility" of the Manifestation of God; asserts this infallibility to be the inherent and exclusive right of the Prophet; and rules out the possibility of the appearance of another Manifestation ere the lapse of at least one thousand years.

In this Book He, moreover, prescribes the obligatory prayers; designates the time and period of fasting; prohibits congregational prayer except for the dead; fixes the Qiblih; institutes the Huququ'llah (Right of God); formulates the law of inheritance; ordains the institution of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar; establishes the Nineteen Day Feasts, the Baha'i festivals and the Intercalary Days; abolishes the institution of priesthood; prohibits slavery, asceticism, mendicancy, monasticism, penance, the use of pulpits and the kissing of hands; prescribes monogamy; condemns cruelty to animals, idleness and sloth, backbiting and calumny; censures divorce; interdicts gambling, the use of opium, wine and other intoxicating drinks; specifies the punishments for murder, arson, adultery and theft; stresses the importance of marriage and lays down its essential conditions; imposes the obligation of engaging in some trade or profession, exalting such occupation to the rank of worship; emphasizes the necessity of providing the means for the education of children; and lays upon every person the duty of writing a testament and of strict obedience to one's government.

Apart from these provisions Baha'u'llah exhorts His followers to consort, with amity and concord and without discrimination, with <p215> the adherents of all religions; warns them to guard against fanaticism, sedition, pride, dispute and contention; inculcates upon them immaculate cleanliness, strict truthfulness, spotless chastity, trustworthiness; hospitality, fidelity, courtesy, forbearance, justice and fairness; counsels them to be "even as the fingers of one hand and the limbs of one body"; calls upon them to arise and serve His Cause; and assures them of His undoubted aid. He, furthermore, dwells upon the instability of human affairs; declares that true liberty consists in man's submission to His commandments; cautions them not to be indulgent in carrying out His statutes; prescribes the twin inseparable duties of recognizing the "Dayspring of God's Revelation" and of observing all the ordinances revealed by Him, neither of which, He affirms, is acceptable without the other.

The significant summons issued to the Presidents of the Republics of the American continent to seize their opportunity in the Day of God and to champion the cause of justice; the injunction to the members of parliaments throughout the world, urging the adoption of a universal script and language; His warnings to William I, the conqueror of Napoleon III; the reproof He administers to Francis Joseph, the Emperor of Austria; His reference to "the lamentations of Berlin" in His apostrophe to "the banks of the Rhine"; His condemnation of "the throne of tyranny" established in Constantinople, and His prediction of the extinction of its "outward splendor" and of the tribulations destined to overtake its inhabitants; the words of cheer and comfort He addresses to His native city, assuring her that God had chosen her to be "the source of the joy of all mankind"; His prophecy that "the voice of the heroes of Khurasan" will be raised in glorification of their Lord; His assertion that men "endued with mighty valor" will be raised up in Kirman who will make mention of Him; and finally, His magnanimous assurance to a perfidious brother who had afflicted Him with such anguish, that an "ever-forgiving, all-bounteous" God would forgive him his iniquities were he only to repent -- all these further enrich the contents of a Book designated by its Author as "the source of true felicity," as the "Unerring Balance," as the "Straight Path" and as the "quickener of mankind."

The laws and ordinances that constitute the major theme of this Book, Baha'u'llah, moreover, has specifically characterized as "the breath of life unto all created things," as "the mightiest stronghold," as the "fruits" of His "Tree," as "the highest means for the maintenance of order in the world and the security of its peoples," as "the lamps of His wisdom and loving-providence," as "the sweet smelling savor of <p216> His garment," as the "keys" of His "mercy" to His creatures. "This Book," He Himself testifies, "is a heaven which We have adorned with the stars of Our commandments and prohibitions." "Blessed the man," He, moreover, has stated, "who will read it, and ponder the verses sent down in it by God, the Lord of Power, the Almighty. Say, O men! Take hold of it with the hand of resignation... By My life! It hath been sent down in a manner that amazeth the minds of men. Verily, it is My weightiest testimony unto all people, and the proof of the All-Merciful unto all who are in heaven and all who are on earth." And again: "Blessed the palate that savoreth its sweetness, and the perceiving eye that recognizeth that which is treasured therein, and the understanding heart that comprehendeth its allusions and mysteries. By God! Such is the majesty of what hath been revealed therein, and so tremendous the revelation of its veiled allusions that the loins of utterance shake when attempting their description." And finally: "In such a manner hath the Kitab-i-Aqdas been revealed that it attracteth and embraceth all the divinely appointed Dispensations. Blessed those who peruse it! Blessed those who apprehend it! Blessed those who meditate upon it! Blessed those who ponder its meaning! So vast is its range that it hath encompassed all men ere their recognition of it. Erelong will its sovereign power, its pervasive influence and the greatness of its might be manifested on earth."

The formulation by Baha'u'llah, in His Kitab-i-Aqdas, of the fundamental laws of His Dispensation was followed, as His Mission drew to a close, by the enunciation of certain precepts and principles which lie at the very core of His Faith, by the reaffirmation of truths He had previously proclaimed, by the elaboration and elucidation of some of the laws He had already laid down, by the revelation of further prophecies and warnings, and by the establishment of subsidiary ordinances designed to supplement the provisions of His Most Holy Book. These were recorded in unnumbered Tablets, which He continued to reveal until the last days of His earthly life, among which the "Ishraqat" (Splendors), the "Bisharat" (Glad Tidings), the "Tarazat" (Ornaments), the "Tajalliyat" (Effulgences), the "Kalimat-i-Firdawsiyyih" (Words of Paradise), the "Lawh-i-Aqdas" (Most Holy Tablet), the "Lawh-i-Dunya" (Tablet of the World), the "Lawh-i-Maqsud" (Tablet of Maqsud), are the most noteworthy. These Tablets -- mighty and final effusions of His indefatigable pen -- must rank among the choicest fruits which His mind has yielded, and mark the consummation of His forty-year-long ministry.

Of the principles enshrined in these Tablets the most vital of <p217> them all is the principle of the oneness and wholeness of the human race, which may well be regarded as the hall-mark of Baha'u'llah's Revelation and the pivot of His teachings. Of such cardinal importance is this principle of unity that it is expressly referred to in the Book of His Covenant, and He unreservedly proclaims it as the central purpose of His Faith. "We, verily," He declares, "have come to unite and weld together all that dwell on earth." "So potent is the light of unity," He further states, "that it can illuminate the whole earth." "At one time," He has written with reference to this central theme of His Revelation, "We spoke in the language of the lawgiver; at another in that of the truth seeker and the mystic, and yet Our supreme purpose and highest wish hath always been to disclose the glory and sublimity of this station." Unity, He states, is the goal that "excelleth every goal" and an aspiration which is "the monarch of all aspirations." "The world," He proclaims, "is but one country, and mankind its citizens." He further affirms that the unification of mankind, the last stage in the evolution of humanity towards maturity is inevitable, that "soon will the present day order be rolled up, and a new one spread out in its stead," that "the whole earth is now in a state of pregnancy," that "the day is approaching when it will have yielded its noblest fruits, when from it will have sprung forth the loftiest trees, the most enchanting blossoms, the most heavenly blessings." He deplores the defectiveness of the prevailing order, exposes the inadequacy of patriotism as a directing and controlling force in human society, and regards the "love of mankind" and service to its interests as the worthiest and most laudable objects of human endeavor. He, moreover, laments that "the vitality of men's belief in God is dying out in every land," that the "face of the world" is turned towards "waywardness and unbelief"; proclaims religion to be "a radiant light and an impregnable stronghold for the protection and welfare of the peoples of the world" and "the chief instrument for the establishment of order in the world"; affirms its fundamental purpose to be the promotion of union and concord amongst men; warns lest it be made "a source of dissension, of discord and hatred"; commands that its principles be taught to children in the schools of the world, in a manner that would not be productive of either prejudice or fanaticism; attributes "the waywardness of the ungodly" to the "decline of religion"; and predicts "convulsions" of such severity as to "cause the limbs of mankind to quake."

The principle of collective security He unreservedly urges; recommends the reduction in national armaments; and proclaims as necessary <p218> and inevitable the convening of a world gathering at which the kings and rulers of the world will deliberate for the establishment of peace among the nations.

Justice He extols as "the light of men" and their "guardian," as "the revealer of the secrets of the world of being, and the standard-bearer of love and bounty"; declares its radiance to be incomparable; affirms that upon it must depend "the organization of the world and the tranquillity of mankind." He characterizes its "two pillars" -- "reward and punishment" -- as "the sources of life" to the human race; warns the peoples of the world to bestir themselves in anticipation of its advent; and prophesies that, after an interval of great turmoil and grievous injustice, its day-star will shine in its full splendor and glory.

He, furthermore, inculcates the principle of "moderation in all things"; declares that whatsoever, be it "Liberty, civilization and the like," "passeth beyond the limits of moderation" must "exercise a pernicious influence upon men"; observes that western civilization has gravely perturbed and alarmed the peoples of the world; and predicts that the day is approaching when the "flame" of a civilization "carried to excess" "will devour the cities."

Consultation He establishes as one of the fundamental principles of His Faith; describes it as "the lamp of guidance," as "the bestower of understanding," and as one of the two "luminaries" of the "heaven of Divine wisdom." Knowledge, He states, is "as wings to man's life and a ladder for his ascent"; its acquisition He regards as "incumbent upon every one"; considers "arts, crafts and sciences" to be conducive to the exaltation of the world of being; commends the wealth acquired through crafts and professions; acknowledges the indebtedness of the peoples of the world to scientists and craftsmen; and discourages the study of such sciences as are unprofitable to men, and "begin with words and end with words."

The injunction to "consort with all men in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship" He further emphasizes, and recognizes such association to be conducive to "union and concord," which, He affirms, are the establishers of order in the world and the quickeners of nations. The necessity of adopting a universal tongue and script He repeatedly stresses; deplores the waste of time involved in the study of divers languages; affirms that with the adoption of such a language and script the whole earth will be considered as "one city and one land"; and claims to be possessed of the knowledge of both, and ready to impart it to any one who might seek it from Him.

To the trustees of the House of Justice He assigns the duty of <p219> legislating on matters not expressly provided in His writings, and promises that God will "inspire them with whatsoever He willeth." The establishment of a constitutional form of government, in which the ideals of republicanism and the majesty of kingship, characterized by Him as "one of the signs of God," are combined, He recommends as a meritorious achievement; urges that special regard be paid to the interests of agriculture; and makes specific reference to "the swiftly appearing newspapers," describes them as "the mirror of the world" and as "an amazing and potent phenomenon," and prescribes to all who are responsible for their production the duty to be sanctified from malice, passion and prejudice, to be just and fair-minded, to be painstaking in their inquiries, and ascertain all the facts in every situation.

The doctrine of the Most Great Infallibility He further elaborates; the obligation laid on His followers to "behave towards the government of the country in which they reside with loyalty, honesty and truthfulness," He reaffirms; the ban imposed upon the waging of holy war and the destruction of books He reemphasizes; and He singles out for special praise men of learning and wisdom, whom He extols as "eyes" to the body of mankind, and as the "greatest gifts" conferred upon the world.

Nor should a review of the outstanding features of Baha'u'llah's writings during the latter part of His banishment to Akka fail to include a reference to the Lawh-i-Hikmat (Tablet of Wisdom), in which He sets forth the fundamentals of true philosophy, or to the Tablet of Visitation revealed in honor of the Imam Husayn, whose praises He celebrates in glowing language; or to the "Questions and Answers" which elucidates the laws and ordinances of the Kitab-i-Aqdas; or to the "Lawh-i-Burhan" (Tablet of the Proof) in which the acts perpetrated by Shaykh Muhammad-Baqir, surnamed "Dhi'b" (Wolf), and Mir Muhammad-Husayn, the Imam-Jum'ih of Isfahan, surnamed "Raqsha" (She-Serpent), are severely condemned; or to the Lawh-i-Karmil (Tablet of Carmel) in which the Author significantly makes mention of "the City of God that hath descended from heaven," and prophesies that "erelong will God sail His Ark" upon that mountain, and "will manifest the people of Baha." Finally, mention must be made of His Epistle to Shaykh Muhammad-Taqi, surnamed "Ibn-i-Dhi'b" (Son of the Wolf), the last outstanding Tablet revealed by the pen of Baha'u'llah, in which He calls upon that rapacious priest to repent of his acts, quotes some of the most characteristic and celebrated passages of His own writings, and adduces proofs establishing the validity of His Cause. <p220>

With this book, revealed about one year prior to His ascension, the prodigious achievement as author of a hundred volumes, repositories of the priceless pearls of His Revelation, may be said to have practically terminated -- volumes replete with unnumbered exhortations, revolutionizing principles, world-shaping laws and ordinances, dire warnings and portentous prophecies, with soul-uplifting prayers and meditations, illuminating commentaries and interpretations, impassioned discourses and homilies, all interspersed with either addresses or references to kings, to emperors and to ministers, of both the East and the West, to ecclesiastics of divers denominations, and to leaders in the intellectual, political, literary, mystical, commercial and humanitarian spheres of human activity.

"We, verily," wrote Baha'u'llah, surveying, in the evening of His life, from His Most Great Prison, the entire range of this vast and weighty Revelation, "have not fallen short of Our duty to exhort men, and to deliver that whereunto I was bidden by God, the Almighty, the All-Praised." "Is there any excuse," He further has stated, "left for any one in this Revelation? No, by God, the Lord of the Mighty Throne! My signs have encompassed the earth, and my power enveloped all mankind." <p221>


Ascension of Baha'u'llah

Well nigh half a century had passed since the inception of the Faith. Cradled in adversity, deprived in its infancy of its Herald and Leader, it had been raised from the dust, in which a hostile despot had thrown it, by its second and greatest Luminary Who, despite successive banishments, had, in less than half a century, succeeded in rehabilitating its fortunes, in proclaiming its Message, in enacting its laws and ordinances, in formulating its principles and in ordaining its institutions, and it had just begun to enjoy the sunshine of a prosperity never previously experienced, when suddenly it was robbed of its Author by the Hand of Destiny, its followers were plunged into sorrow and consternation, its repudiators found their declining hopes revive, and its adversaries, political as well as ecclesiastical, began to take heart again.

Already nine months before His ascension Baha'u'llah, as attested by Abdu'l-Baha, had voiced His desire to depart from this world. From that time onward it became increasingly evident, from the tone of His remarks to those who attained His presence, that the close of His earthly life was approaching, though He refrained from mentioning it openly to any one. On the night preceding the eleventh of Shavval 1309 A.H. (May 8, 1892) He contracted a slight fever which, though it mounted the following day, soon after subsided. He continued to grant interviews to certain of the friends and pilgrims, but it soon became evident that He was not well. His fever returned in a more acute form than before, His general condition grew steadily worse, complications ensued which at last culminated in His ascension, at the hour of dawn, on the 2nd of Dhi'l-Qa'dih 1309 A.H. (May 29, 1892), eight hours after sunset, in the 75th year of His age. His spirit, at long last released from the toils of a life crowded with tribulations, had winged its flight to His "other dominions," dominions "whereon the eyes of the people of names have never fallen," and to which the "Luminous Maid," "clad in white," had bidden Him hasten, as described by Himself in the Lawh-i-Ru'ya (Tablet of the Vision), revealed nineteen years previously, on the anniversary of the birth of His Forerunner. <p222>

Six days before He passed away He summoned to His presence, as He lay in bed leaning against one of His sons, the entire company of believers, including several pilgrims, who had assembled in the Mansion, for what proved to be their last audience with Him. "I am well pleased with you all," He gently and affectionately addressed the weeping crowd that gathered about Him. "Ye have rendered many services, and been very assiduous in your labors. Ye have come here every morning and every evening. May God assist you to remain united. May He aid you to exalt the Cause of the Lord of being." To the women, including members of His own family, gathered at His bedside, He addressed similar words of encouragement, definitely assuring them that in a document entrusted by Him to the Most Great Branch He had commended them all to His care.

The news of His ascension was instantly communicated to Sultan Abdu'l-Hamid in a telegram which began with the words "the Sun of Baha has set" and in which the monarch was advised of the intention of interring the sacred remains within the precincts of the Mansion, an arrangement to which he readily assented. Baha'u'llah was accordingly laid to rest in the northernmost room of the house which served as a dwelling-place for His son-in-law, the most northerly of the three houses lying to the west of, and adjacent to, the Mansion. His interment took place shortly after sunset, on the very day of His ascension.

The inconsolable Nabil, who had had the privilege of a private audience with Baha'u'llah during the days of His illness; whom Abdu'l-Baha had chosen to select those passages which constitute the text of the Tablet of Visitation now recited in the Most Holy Tomb; and who, in his uncontrollable grief, drowned himself in the sea shortly after the passing of his Beloved, thus describes the agony of those days: "Methinks, the spiritual commotion set up in the world of dust had caused all the worlds of God to tremble.... My inner and outer tongue are powerless to portray the condition we were in.... In the midst of the prevailing confusion a multitude of the inhabitants of Akka and of the neighboring villages, that had thronged the fields surrounding the Mansion, could be seen weeping, beating upon their heads, and crying aloud their grief."

For a full week a vast number of mourners, rich and poor alike, tarried to grieve with the bereaved family, partaking day and night of the food that was lavishly dispensed by its members. Notables, among whom were numbered Shi'ahs, Sunnis, Christians, Jews and Druzes, as well as poets, ulamas and government officials, all joined <p223> in lamenting the loss, and in magnifying the virtues and greatness of Baha'u'llah, many of them paying to Him their written tributes, in verse and in prose, in both Arabic and Turkish. From cities as far afield as Damascus, Aleppo, Beirut and Cairo similar tributes were received. These glowing testimonials were, without exception, submitted to Abdu'l-Baha, Who now represented the Cause of the departed Leader, and Whose praises were often mingled in these eulogies with the homage paid to His Father.

And yet these effusive manifestations of sorrow and expressions of praise and of admiration, which the ascension of Baha'u'llah had spontaneously evoked among the unbelievers in the Holy Land and the adjoining countries, were but a drop when compared with the ocean of grief and the innumerable evidences of unbounded devotion which, at the hour of the setting of the Sun of Truth, poured forth from the hearts of the countless thousands who had espoused His Cause, and were determined to carry aloft its banner in Persia, India, Russia, Iraq, Turkey, Palestine, Egypt and Syria.

With the ascension of Baha'u'llah draws to a close a period which, in many ways, is unparalleled in the world's religious history. The first century of the Baha'i Era had by now run half its course. An epoch, unsurpassed in its sublimity, its fecundity and duration by any previous Dispensation, and characterized, except for a short interval of three years, by half a century of continuous and progressive Revelation, had terminated. The Message proclaimed by the Bab had yielded its golden fruit. The most momentous, though not the most spectacular phase of the Heroic Age had ended. The Sun of Truth, the world's greatest Luminary, had risen in the Siyah-Chal of Tihran, had broken through the clouds which enveloped it in Baghdad, had suffered a momentary eclipse whilst mounting to its zenith in Adrianople and had set finally in Akka, never to reappear ere the lapse of a full millenium. God's newborn Faith, the cynosure of all past Dispensations, had been fully and unreservedly proclaimed. The prophecies announcing its advent had been remarkably fulfilled. Its fundamental laws and cardinal principles, the warp and woof of the fabric of its future World Order, had been clearly enunciated. Its organic relation to, and its attitude towards, the religious systems which preceded it had been unmistakably defined. The primary institutions, within which an embryonic World Order was destined to mature, had been unassailably established. The Covenant designed to safeguard the unity and integrity of its world-embracing system had been irrevocably bequeathed to posterity. The promise of the <p224> unification of the whole human race, of the inauguration of the Most Great Peace, of the unfoldment of a world civilization, had been incontestably given. The dire warnings, foreshadowing catastrophes destined to befall kings, ecclesiastics, governments and peoples, as a prelude to so glorious a consummation, had been repeatedly uttered. The significant summons to the Chief Magistrates of the New World, forerunner of the Mission with which the North American continent was to be later invested, had been issued. The initial contact with a nation, a descendant of whose royal house was to espouse its Cause ere the expiry of the first Baha'i century, had been established. The original impulse which, in the course of successive decades, has conferred, and will continue to confer, in the years to come, inestimable benefits of both spiritual and institutional significance upon God's holy mountain, overlooking the Most Great Prison, had been imparted. And finally, the first banners of a spiritual conquest which, ere the termination of that century, was to embrace no less than sixty countries in both the Eastern and Western hemispheres had been triumphantly planted.

In the vastness and diversity of its Holy Writ; in the number of its martyrs; in the valor of its champions; in the example set by its followers; in the condign punishment suffered by its adversaries; in the pervasiveness of its influence; in the incomparable heroism of its Herald; in the dazzling greatness of its Author; in the mysterious operation of its irresistible spirit; the Faith of Baha'u'llah, now standing at the threshold of the sixth decade of its existence, had amply demonstrated its capacity to forge ahead, indivisible and incorruptible, along the course traced for it by its Founder, and to display, before the gaze of successive generations, the signs and tokens of that celestial potency with which He Himself had so richly endowed it.

To the fate that has overtaken those kings, ministers and ecclesiastics, in the East as well as in the West, who have, at various stages of Baha'u'llah's ministry, either deliberately persecuted His Cause, or have neglected to heed the warnings He had uttered, or have failed in their manifest duty to respond to His summons or to accord Him and His message the treatment they deserved, particular attention, I feel, should at this juncture be directed. Baha'u'llah Himself, referring to those who had actively arisen to destroy or harm His Faith, had declared that "God hath not blinked, nor will He ever blink His eyes at the tyranny of the oppressor. More particularly in this Revelation hath He visited each and every tyrant with His vengeance." Vast and awful is, indeed, the spectacle which meets our <p225> eyes, as we survey the field over which the retributory winds of God have, since the inception of the ministry of Baha'u'llah, furiously swept, dethroning monarchs, extinguishing dynasties, uprooting ecclesiastical hierarchies, precipitating wars and revolutions, driving from office princes and ministers, dispossessing the usurper, casting down the tyrant, and chastising the wicked and the rebellious.

Sultan Abdu'l-'Aziz, who with Nasiri'd-Din Shah was the author of the calamities heaped upon Baha'u'llah, and was himself responsible for three decrees of banishment against the Prophet; who had been stigmatized, in the Kitab-i-Aqdas, as occupying the "throne of tyranny," and whose fall had been prophesied in the Lawh-i-Fu'ad, was deposed in consequence of a palace revolution, was condemned by a fatva (sentence) of the Mufti in his own capital, was four days later assassinated (1876), and was succeeded by a nephew who was declared to be an imbecile. The war of 1877-78 emancipated eleven million people from the Turkish yoke; Adrianople was occupied by the Russian forces; the empire itself was dissolved as a result of the war of 1914-18; the Sultanate was abolished; a republic was proclaimed; and a rulership that had endured above six centuries was ended.

The vain and despotic Nasiri'd-Din Shah, denounced by Baha'u'llah as the "Prince of Oppressors"; of whom He had written that he would soon be made "an object-lesson for the world"; whose reign was stained by the execution of the Bab and the imprisonment of Baha'u'llah; who had persistently instigated his subsequent banishments to Constantinople, Adrianople and Akka; who, in collusion with a vicious sacerdotal order, had vowed to strangle the Faith in its cradle, was dramatically assassinated, in the shrine of Shah Abdu'l-'Azim, on the very eve of his jubilee, which, as ushering in a new era, was to have been celebrated with the most elaborate magnificence, and was to go down in history as the greatest day in the annals of the Persian nation. The fortunes of his house thereafter steadily declined, and finally through the scandalous misconduct of the dissipated and irresponsible Ahmad Shah, led to the eclipse and disappearance of the Qajar dynasty.

Napoleon III, the foremost monarch of his day in the West, excessively ambitious, inordinately proud, tricky and superficial, who is reported to have contemptuously flung down the Tablet sent to him by Baha'u'llah, who was tested by Him and found wanting, and whose downfall was explicitly predicted in a subsequent Tablet, was ignominiously defeated in the Battle of Sedan (1870), marking the greatest military capitulation recorded in modern history; lost his <p226> kingdom and spent the remaining years of his life in exile. His hopes were utterly blasted, his only son, the Prince Imperial, was killed in the Zulu War, his much vaunted empire collapsed, a civil war ensued more ferocious than the Franco-German war itself, and William I, the Prussian king, was hailed emperor of a unified Germany in the Palace of Versailles.

William I, the pride-intoxicated newly-acclaimed conqueror of Napoleon III, admonished in the Kitab-i-Aqdas and bidden to ponder the fate that had overtaken "one whose power transcended" his own, warned in that same Book, that the "lamentations of Berlin" would be raised and that the banks of the Rhine would be "covered with gore," sustained two attempts on his life, and was succeeded by a son who died of a mortal disease, three months after his accession to the throne, bequeathing the throne to the arrogant, the headstrong and short-sighted William II. The pride of the new monarch precipitated his downfall. Revolution, swiftly and suddenly, broke out in his capital, communism reared its head in a number of cities; the princes of the German states abdicated, and he himself, fleeing ignominiously to Holland, was compelled to relinquish his right to the throne. The constitution of Weimar sealed the fate of the empire, whose birth had been so loudly proclaimed by his grandfather, and the terms of an oppressively severe treaty provoked "the lamentations" which, half a century before, had been ominously prophesied.

The arbitrary and unyielding Francis Joseph, emperor of Austria and king of Hungary, who had been reproved in the Kitab-i-Aqdas, for having neglected his manifest duty to inquire about Baha'u'llah during his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, was so engulfed by misfortunes and tragedies that his reign came to be regarded as one unsurpassed by any other reign in the calamities it inflicted upon the nation. His brother, Maximilian, was put to death in Mexico; the Crown Prince Rudolph perished in ignominious circumstances; the Empress was assassinated; Archduke Francis Ferdinand and his wife were murdered in Serajevo; the "ramshackle empire" itself disintegrated, was carved up, and a shrunken republic was set up on the ruins of a vanished Holy Roman Empire -- a republic which, after a brief and precarious existence, was blotted out from the political map of Europe.

Nicolaevitch Alexander II, the all-powerful Czar of Russia, who, in a Tablet addressed to him by name had been thrice warned by Baha'u'llah, had been bidden to "summon the nations unto God," and had been cautioned not to allow his sovereignty to prevent him <p227> from recognizing "the Supreme Sovereign," suffered several attempts on his life, and at last died at the hand of an assassin. A harsh policy of repression, initiated by himself and followed by his successor, Alexander III, paved the way for a revolution which, in the reign of Nicholas II, swept away on a bloody tide the empire of the Czars, brought in its wake war, disease and famine, and established a militant proletariat which massacred the nobility, persecuted the clergy, drove away the intellectuals, disendowed the state religion, executed the Czar with his consort and his family, and extinguished the dynasty of the Romanoffs.

Pope Pius IX, the undisputed head of the most powerful Church in Christendom, who had been commanded, in an Epistle addressed to him by Baha'u'llah, to leave his "palaces unto such as desire them," to "sell all the embellished ornaments" in his possession, to "expend them in the path of God," and hasten towards "the Kingdom," was compelled to surrender, in distressing circumstances, to the besieging forces of King Victor Emmanuel, and to submit himself to be depossessed of the Papal States and of Rome itself. The loss of "the Eternal City," over which the Papal flag had flown for one thousand years, and the humiliation of the religious orders under his jurisdiction, added mental anguish to his physical infirmities and embittered the last years of his life. The formal recognition of the Kingdom of Italy subsequently exacted from one of his successors in the Vatican, confirmed the virtual extinction of the Pope's temporal sovereignty.

But the rapid dissolution of the Ottoman, the Napoleonic, the German, the Austrian and the Russian empires, the demise of the Qajar dynasty and the virtual extinction of the temporal sovereignty of the Roman Pontiff do not exhaust the story of the catastrophes that befell the monarchies of the world through the neglect of Baha'u'llah's warnings conveyed in the opening passages of His Suriy-i-Muluk. The conversion of the Portuguese and Spanish monarchies, as well as the Chinese empire, into republics; the strange fate that has, more recently, been pursuing the sovereigns of Holland, of Norway, of Greece, of Yugoslavia and of Albania now living in exile; the virtual abdication of the authority exercised by the kings of Denmark, of Belgium, of Bulgaria, of Rumania and of Italy; the apprehension with which their fellow sovereigns must be viewing the convulsions that have seized so many thrones; the shame and acts of violence which, in some instances, have darkened the annals of the reigns of certain monarchs in both the East and the West, and still more recently the sudden downfall of the Founder of the newly <p228> established dynasty in Persia -- these are yet further instances of the infliction of the "Divine Chastisement" foreshadowed by Baha'u'llah in that immortal Surih, and show forth the divine reality of the arraignment pronounced by Him against the rulers of the earth in His Most Holy Book.

No less arresting has been the extinction of the all-pervasive influence exerted by the Muslim ecclesiastical leaders, both Sunni and Shi'ah, in the two countries in which the mightiest institutions of Islam had been reared, and which have been directly associated with the tribulations heaped upon the Bab and Baha'u'llah.

The Caliph, the self-styled vicar of the Prophet of Islam, known also as the "Commander of the Faithful," the protector of the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, whose spiritual jurisdiction extended over more than two hundred million Muhammadans, was by the abolition of the Sultanate in Turkey, divested of his temporal authority, hitherto regarded as inseparable from his high office. The Caliph himself, after having occupied for a brief period, an anomalous and precarious position, fled to Europe; the Caliphate, the most august and powerful institution of Islam, was, without consultation with any community in the Sunni world, summarily abolished; the unity of the most powerful branch of the Islamic Faith was thereby shattered; a formal, a complete and permanent separation of the Turkish state from the Sunni faith was proclaimed; the Shari'ah canonical Law was annulled; ecclesiastical institutions were disendowed; a civil code was promulgated; religious orders were suppressed; the Sunni hierarchy was dissolved; the Arabic tongue, the language of the Prophet of Islam, fell into disuse, and its script was superseded by the Latin alphabet; the Qur'an itself was translated into Turkish; Constantinople, the "Dome of Islam," sank to the level of a provincial city, and its peerless jewel, the Mosque of St. Sophia, was converted into a museum -- a series of degradations recalling the fate which, in the first century of the Christian Era, befell the Jewish people, the city of Jerusalem, the Temple of Solomon, the Holy of Holies, and an ecclesiastical hierarchy, whose members were the avowed persecutors of the religion of Jesus Christ.

A similar convulsion shook the foundations of the entire sacerdotal order in Persia, though its formal divorce from the Persian state is as yet unproclaimed. A "church-state," that had been firmly rooted in the life of the nation and had extended its ramifications to every sphere of life in that country, was virtually disrupted. A sacerdotal order, the rock wall of Shi'ah Islam in that land, was <p229> paralyzed and discredited; its mujtahids, the favorite ministers of the hidden Imam, were reduced to an insignificant number; all its beturbaned officers, except for a handful, were ruthlessly forced to exchange their traditional head-dress and robes for the European clothes they themselves anathematized; the pomp and pageantry that marked their ceremonials vanished; their fatvas (sentences) were nullified; their endowments were handed over to a civil administration; their mosques and seminaries were deserted; the right of sanctuary accorded to their shrines ceased to be recognized; their religious plays were banned; their takyihs were closed and even their pilgrimages to Najaf and Karbila were discouraged and curtailed. The disuse of the veil; the recognition of the equality of sexes; the establishment of civil tribunals; the abolition of concubinage; the disparagement of the use of the Arabic tongue, the language of Islam and of the Qur'an, and the efforts exerted to divorce it from Persian -- all these further proclaim the degradation, and foreshadow the final extinction, of that infamous crew, whose leaders had dared style themselves "servants of the Lord of Saintship" (Imam Ali), who had so often received the homage of the pious kings of the Safavi dynasty, and whose anathemas, ever since the birth of the Faith of the Bab, had been chiefly responsible for the torrents of blood which had been shed, and whose acts have blackened the annals of both their religion and nation.

A crisis, not indeed as severe as that which shook the Islamic sacerdotal orders -- the inveterate adversaries of the Faith -- has, moreover, afflicted the ecclesiastical institutions of Christendom, whose influence, ever since Baha'u'llah's summons was issued and His warning was sounded, has visibly deteriorated, whose prestige has been gravely damaged, whose authority has steadily declined, and whose power, rights and prerogatives have been increasingly circumscribed. The virtual extinction of the temporal sovereignty of the Roman Pontiff, to which reference has already been made; the wave of anti-clericalism that brought in its wake the separation of the Catholic Church from the French Republic; the organized assault launched by a triumphant Communist state upon the Greek Orthodox Church in Russia, and the consequent disestablishment, disendowment and persecution of the state religion; the dismemberment of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy which owed its allegiance to the Church of Rome and powerfully supported its institutions; the ordeal to which that same Church has been subjected in Spain and in Mexico; the wave of secularization which, at present, is engulfing the Catholic, the <p230> Anglican and the Presbyterian Missions in non-Christian lands; the forces of an aggressive paganism which are assailing the ancient citadels of the Catholic, the Greek Orthodox and the Lutheran Churches in Western, in Central and Eastern Europe, in the Balkans and in the Baltic and Scandinavian states -- these stand out as the most conspicuous manifestations of the decline in the fortunes of the ecclesiastical leaders of Christendom, leaders who, heedless of the voice of Baha'u'llah, have interposed themselves between the Christ returned in the glory of the Father and their respective congregations.

Nor can we fail to note the progressive deterioration in the authority, wielded by the ecclesiastical leaders of the Jewish and Zoroastrian Faiths, ever since the voice of Baha'u'llah was raised, announcing, in no uncertain terms, that the "Most Great Law is come," that the Ancient Beauty "ruleth upon the throne of David," and that "whatsoever hath been announced in the Books (Zoroastrian Holy Writ) hath been revealed and made clear." The evidences of increasing revolt against clerical authority; the disrespect and indifference shown to time-honored observances, rituals and ceremonials; the repeated inroads made by the forces of an aggressive and often hostile nationalism into the spheres of clerical jurisdiction; and the general apathy with which, particularly in the case of the professed adherents of the Zoroastrian Faith, these encroachments are regarded -- all provide, beyond the shadow of a doubt, further justification of the warnings and predictions uttered by Baha'u'llah in His historic addresses to the world's ecclesiastical leaders.

Such in sum are the awful evidences of God's retributive justice that have afflicted kings as well as ecclesiastics, in both the East and the West, as a direct consequence of either their active opposition to the Faith of Baha'u'llah, or of their lamentable failure to respond to His call, to inquire into His Message, to avert the sufferings He endured, or to heed the marvelous signs and prodigies which, during a hundred years, have accompanied the birth and rise of His Revelation.

"From two ranks amongst men," is His terse and prophetic utterance, "power hath been seized: kings and ecclesiastics." "If ye pay no heed," He thus warned the kings of the earth, "unto the counsels which ... We have revealed in this Tablet, Divine chastisement will assail you from every direction... On that day ye shall ... recognize your own impotence." And again: "Though aware of most of Our afflictions, ye, nevertheless, have failed to stay the hand of the aggressor." And, furthermore, this arraignment: "...We ... will <p231> be patient, as We have been patient in that which hath befallen Us at your hands, O concourse of kings!"

Condemning specifically the world's ecclesiastical leaders, He has written: "The source and origin of tyranny have been the divines... God, verily, is clear of them, and We, too, are clear of them." "When We observed carefully," He openly affirms, "We discovered that Our enemies are, for the most part, the divines." "O concourse of divines!" He thus addresses them, "Ye shall not henceforth behold yourselves possessed of any power, inasmuch as We have seized it from you..." "Had ye believed in God when He revealed Himself," He explains, "the people would not have turned aside from Him, nor would the things ye witness today have befallen Us." "They," referring more specifically to Muslim ecclesiastics, He asserts, "rose up against Us with such cruelty as hath sapped the strength of Islam..." "The divines of Persia," He affirms, "committed that which no people amongst the peoples of the world hath committed." And again: "...The divines of Persia ... have perpetrated what the Jews have not perpetrated during the Revelation of Him Who is the Spirit (Jesus)." And finally, these portentous prophecies: "Because of you the people were abased, and the banner of Islam was hauled down, and its mighty throne subverted." "Erelong will all that ye possess perish, and your glory be turned into the most wretched abasement, and ye shall behold the punishment for what ye have wrought..." "Erelong," the Bab Himself, even more openly prophesies, "We will, in very truth, torment such as waged war against Husayn (Imam Husayn) ... with the most afflictive torment..." "Erelong will God wreak His vengeance upon them, at the time of Our return, and He hath, in very truth, prepared for them, in the world to come, a severe torment."

Nor should, in a review of this nature, reference be omitted to those princes, ministers and ecclesiastics who have individually been responsible for the afflictive trials which Baha'u'llah and His followers have suffered. Fu'ad Pasha, the Turkish Minister for Foreign Affairs, denounced by Him as the "instigator" of His banishment to the Most Great Prison, who had so assiduously striven with his colleague Ali Pasha, to excite the fears and suspicions of a despot already predisposed against the Faith and its Leader, was, about a year after he had succeeded in executing his design, struck down, while on a trip to Paris, by the avenging rod of God, and died at Nice (1869). Ali Pasha, the Sadr-i-A'zam (Prime Minister), denounced in such forceful language in the Lawh-i-Ra'is, whose downfall the Lawh-i-Fu'ad <p232> had unmistakably predicted, was, a few years after Baha'u'llah's banishment to Akka, dismissed from office, was shorn of all power, and sank into complete oblivion. The tyrannical Prince Mas'ud Mirza, the Zillu's-Sultan, Nasiri'd-Din Shah's eldest son and ruler over more than two-fifths of his kingdom, stigmatized by Baha'u'llah as "the Infernal Tree," fell into disgrace, was deprived of all his governorships, except that of Isfahan, and lost all chances of future eminence or promotion. The rapacious Prince Jalalu'd-Dawlih, branded by the Supreme Pen as "the tyrant of Yazd," was, about a year after the iniquities he had perpetrated, deprived of his post, recalled to Tihran, and forced to return a part of the property he had stolen from his victims.

The scheming, the ambitious and profligate Mirza Buzurg Khan, the Persian Consul General in Baghdad, was eventually dismissed from office, "overwhelmed with disaster, filled with remorse and plunged into confusion." The notorious Mujtahid Siyyid Sadiq-i-Tabataba'i, denounced by Baha'u'llah as "the Liar of Tihran," the author of the monstrous decree condemning every male member of the Baha'i community in Persia, young or old, high or low, to be put to death, and all its women to be deported, was suddenly taken ill, fell a prey to a disease that ravaged his heart, his brain and his limbs, and precipitated eventually his death. The high-handed Subhi Pasha, who had peremptorily summoned Baha'u'llah to the government house in Akka, lost the position he occupied, and was recalled under circumstances highly detrimental to his reputation. Nor were the other governors of the city, who had dealt unjustly with the exalted Prisoner in their charge and His fellow-exiles, spared a like fate. "Every pasha," testifies Nabil in his narrative, "whose conduct in Akka was commendable enjoyed a long term of office, and was bountifully favored by God, whereas every hostile Mutisarrif (governor) was speedily deposed by the Hand of Divine power, even as Abdu'r-Rahman Pasha and Muhammad-Yusuf Pasha who, on the morrow of the very night they had resolved to lay hands on the loved ones of Baha'u'llah, were telegraphically advised of their dismissal. Such was their fate that they were never again given a position."

Shaykh Muhammad-Baqir, surnamed the "Wolf," who, in the strongly condemnatory Lawh-i-Burhan addressed to him by Baha'u'llah, had been compared to "the last trace of sunlight upon the mountain-top," witnessed the steady decline of his prestige, and died in a miserable state of acute remorse. His accomplice, Mir Muhammad-Husayn, surnamed the "She-Serpent," whom Baha'u'llah described <p233> as one "infinitely more wicked than the oppressor of Karbila," was, about that same time, expelled from Isfahan, wandered from village to village, contracted a disease that engendered so foul an odor that even his wife and daughter could not bear to approach him, and died in such ill-favor with the local authorities that no one dared to attend his funeral, his corpse being ignominiously interred by a few porters.

Mention should, moreover, be made of the devastating famine which, about a year after the illustrious Badi' had been tortured to death, ravaged Persia and reduced the population to such extremities that even the rich went hungry, and hundreds of mothers ghoulishly devoured their own children.

Nor can this subject be dismissed without special reference being made to the Arch-Breaker of the Covenant of the Bab, Mirza Yahya, who lived long enough to witness, while eking out a miserable existence in Cyprus, termed by the Turks "the Island of Satan," every hope he had so maliciously conceived reduced to naught. A pensioner first of the Turkish and later of the British Government, he was subjected to the further humiliation of having his application for British citizenship refused. Eleven of the eighteen "Witnesses" he had appointed forsook him and turned in repentance to Baha'u'llah. He himself became involved in a scandal which besmirched his reputation and that of his eldest son, deprived that son and his descendants of the successorship with which he had previously invested him, and appointed, in his stead, the perfidious Mirza Hadiy-i-Dawlat-Abadi, a notorious Azali, who, on the occasion of the martyrdom of the aforementioned Mirza Ashraf, was seized with such fear that during four consecutive days he proclaimed from the pulpit-top, and in a most vituperative language, his complete repudiation of the Babi Faith, as well as of Mirza Yahya, his benefactor, who had reposed in him such implicit confidence. It was this same eldest son who, through the workings of a strange destiny, sought years after, together with his nephew and niece, the presence of Abdu'l-Baha, the appointed Successor of Baha'u'llah and Center of His Covenant, expressed repentance, prayed for forgiveness, was graciously accepted by Him, and remained, till the hour of his death, a loyal follower of the Faith which his father had so foolishly, so shamelessly and so pitifully striven to extinguish. <p234><p235>



1892-1921 <p236><p237>


The Covenant of Baha'u'llah

I have in the preceding chapters endeavored to trace the rise and progress of the Faith associated with the Bab and Baha'u'llah during the first fifty years of its existence. If I have dwelt too long on the events connected with the life and mission of these twin Luminaries of the Baha'i Revelation, if I have at times indulged in too circumstantial a narrative of certain episodes related to their ministries, it is solely because these happenings proclaim the birth, and signalize the establishment, of an epoch which future historians will acclaim as the most heroic, the most tragic and the most momentous period in the Apostolic Age of the Baha'i Dispensation. Indeed the tale which the subsequent decades of the century under review unfold to our eyes is but the record of the manifold evidences of the resistless operation of those creative forces which the revolution of fifty years of almost uninterrupted Revelation had released.

A dynamic process, divinely propelled, possessed of undreamt-of potentialities, world-embracing in scope, world-transforming in its ultimate consequences, had been set in motion on that memorable night when the Bab communicated the purpose of His mission to Mulla Husayn in an obscure corner of Shiraz. It acquired a tremendous momentum with the first intimations of Baha'u'llah's dawning Revelation amidst the darkness of the Siyah-Chal of Tihran. It was further accelerated by the Declaration of His mission on the eve of His banishment from Baghdad. It moved to a climax with the proclamation of that same mission during the tempestuous years of His exile in Adrianople. Its full significance was disclosed when the Author of that Mission issued His historic summonses, appeals and warnings to the kings of the earth and the world's ecclesiastical leaders. It was finally consummated by the laws and ordinances which He formulated, by the principles which He enunciated and by the institutions which He ordained during the concluding years of His ministry in the prison-city of Akka.

To direct and canalize these forces let loose by this Heaven-sent process, and to insure their harmonious and continuous operation after His ascension, an instrument divinely ordained, invested with <p238> indisputable authority, organically linked with the Author of the Revelation Himself, was clearly indispensable. That instrument Baha'u'llah had expressly provided through the institution of the Covenant, an institution which He had firmly established prior to His ascension. This same Covenant He had anticipated in His Kitab-i-Aqdas, had alluded to it as He bade His last farewell to the members of His family, who had been summoned to His bed-side, in the days immediately preceding His ascension, and had incorporated it in a special document which He designated as "the Book of My Covenant," and which He entrusted, during His last illness, to His eldest son Abdu'l-Baha.

Written entirely in His own hand; unsealed, on the ninth day after His ascension in the presence of nine witnesses chosen from amongst His companions and members of His Family; read subsequently, on the afternoon of that same day, before a large company assembled in His Most Holy Tomb, including His sons, some of the Bab's kinsmen, pilgrims and resident believers, this unique and epoch-making Document, designated by Baha'u'llah as His "Most Great Tablet," and alluded to by Him as the "Crimson Book" in His "Epistle to the Son of the Wolf," can find no parallel in the Scriptures of any previous Dispensation, not excluding that of the Bab Himself. For nowhere in the books pertaining to any of the world's religious systems, not even among the writings of the Author of the Babi Revelation, do we find any single document establishing a Covenant endowed with an authority comparable to the Covenant which Baha'u'llah had Himself instituted.

"So firm and mighty is this Covenant," He Who is its appointed Center has affirmed, "that from the beginning of time until the present day no religious Dispensation hath produced its like." "It is indubitably clear," He, furthermore, has stated, "that the pivot of the oneness of mankind is nothing else but the power of the Covenant." "Know thou," He has written, "that the 'Sure Handle' mentioned from the foundation of the world in the Books, the Tablets and the Scriptures of old is naught else but the Covenant and the Testament." And again: "The lamp of the Covenant is the light of the world, and the words traced by the Pen of the Most High a limitless ocean." "The Lord, the All-Glorified," He has moreover declared, "hath, beneath the shade of the Tree of Anisa (Tree of Life), made a new Covenant and established a great Testament... Hath such a Covenant been established in any previous Dispensation, age, period or century? Hath such a Testament, set down by the Pen of the Most <p239> High, ever been witnessed? No, by God!" And finally: "The power of the Covenant is as the heat of the sun which quickeneth and promoteth the development of all created things on earth. The light of the Covenant, in like manner, is the educator of the minds, the spirits, the hearts and souls of men." To this same Covenant He has in His writings referred as the "Conclusive Testimony," the "Universal Balance," the "Magnet of God's grace," the "Upraised Standard," the "Irrefutable Testament," "the all-mighty Covenant, the like of which the sacred Dispensations of the past have never witnessed" and "one of the distinctive features of this most mighty cycle."

Extolled by the writer of the Apocalypse as "the Ark of His (God) Testament"; associated with the gathering beneath the "Tree of Anisa" (Tree of Life) mentioned by Baha'u'llah in the Hidden Words; glorified by Him, in other passages of His writings, as the "Ark of Salvation" and as "the Cord stretched betwixt the earth and the Abha Kingdom," this Covenant has been bequeathed to posterity in a Will and Testament which, together with the Kitab-i-Aqdas and several Tablets, in which the rank and station of Abdu'l-Baha are unequivocally disclosed, constitute the chief buttresses designed by the Lord of the Covenant Himself to shield and support, after His ascension, the appointed Center of His Faith and the Delineator of its future institutions.

In this weighty and incomparable Document its Author discloses the character of that "excellent and priceless heritage" bequeathed by Him to His "heirs"; proclaims afresh the fundamental purpose of His Revelation; enjoins the "peoples of the world" to hold fast to that which will "elevate" their "station"; announces to them that "God hath forgiven what is past"; stresses the sublimity of man's station; discloses the primary aim of the Faith of God; directs the faithful to pray for the welfare of the kings of the earth, "the manifestations of the power, and the daysprings of the might and riches, of God"; invests them with the rulership of the earth; singles out as His special domain the hearts of men; forbids categorically strife and contention; commands His followers to aid those rulers who are "adorned with the ornament of equity and justice"; and directs, in particular, the Aghsan (His sons) to ponder the "mighty force and the consummate power that lieth concealed in the world of being." He bids them, moreover, together with the Afnan (the Bab's kindred) and His own relatives, to "turn, one and all, unto the Most Great Branch (Abdu'l-Baha)"; identifies Him with "the One Whom God hath purposed," "Who hath branched from this pre-existent Root," referred to in the <p240> Kitab-i-Aqdas; ordains the station of the "Greater Branch" (Mirza Muhammad-'Ali) to be beneath that of the "Most Great Branch" (Abdu'l-Baha); exhorts the believers to treat the Aghsan with consideration and affection; counsels them to respect His family and relatives, as well as the kindred of the Bab; denies His sons "any right to the property of others"; enjoins on them, on His kindred and on that of the Bab to "fear God, to do that which is meet and seemly" and to follow the things that will "exalt" their station; warns all men not to allow "the means of order to be made the cause of confusion, and the instrument of union an occasion for discord"; and concludes with an exhortation calling upon the faithful to "serve all nations," and to strive for the "betterment of the world."

That such a unique and sublime station should have been conferred upon Abdu'l-Baha did not, and indeed could not, surprise those exiled companions who had for so long been privileged to observe His life and conduct, nor the pilgrims who had been brought, however fleetingly, into personal contact with Him, nor indeed the vast concourse of the faithful who, in distant lands, had grown to revere His name and to appreciate His labors, nor even the wide circle of His friends and acquaintances who, in the Holy Land and the adjoining countries, were already well familiar with the position He had occupied during the lifetime of His Father.

He it was Whose auspicious birth occurred on that never-to-be-forgotten night when the Bab laid bare the transcendental character of His Mission to His first disciple Mulla Husayn. He it was Who, as a mere child, seated on the lap of Tahirih, had registered the thrilling significance of the stirring challenge which that indomitable heroine had addressed to her fellow-disciple, the erudite and far-famed Vahid. He it was Whose tender soul had been seared with the ineffaceable vision of a Father, haggard, dishevelled, freighted with chains, on the occasion of a visit, as a boy of nine, to the Siyah-Chal of Tihran. Against Him, in His early childhood, whilst His Father lay a prisoner in that dungeon, had been directed the malice of a mob of street urchins who pelted Him with stones, vilified Him and overwhelmed Him with ridicule. His had been the lot to share with His Father, soon after His release from imprisonment, the rigors and miseries of a cruel banishment from His native land, and the trials which culminated in His enforced withdrawal to the mountains of Kurdistan. He it was Who, in His inconsolable grief at His separation from an adored Father, had confided to Nabil, as attested by him in his narrative, that He felt Himself to have grown old though still <p241> but a child of tender years. His had been the unique distinction of recognizing, while still in His childhood, the full glory of His Father's as yet unrevealed station, a recognition which had impelled Him to throw Himself at His feet and to spontaneously implore the privilege of laying down His life for His sake. From His pen, while still in His adolescence in Baghdad, had issued that superb commentary on a well-known Muhammadan tradition, written at the suggestion of Baha'u'llah, in answer to a request made by Ali-Shawkat Pasha, which was so illuminating as to excite the unbounded admiration of its recipient. It was His discussions and discourses with the learned doctors with whom He came in contact in Baghdad that first aroused that general admiration for Him and for His knowledge which was steadily to increase as the circle of His acquaintances was widened, at a later date, first in Adrianople and then in Akka. It was to Him that the highly accomplished Khurshid Pasha, the governor of Adrianople, had been moved to pay a public and glowing tribute when, in the presence of a number of distinguished divines of that city, his youthful Guest had, briefly and amazingly, resolved the intricacies of a problem that had baffled the minds of the assembled company -- an achievement that affected so deeply the Pasha that from that time onwards he could hardly reconcile himself to that Youth's absence from such gatherings.

On Him Baha'u'llah, as the scope and influence of His Mission extended, had been led to place an ever greater degree of reliance, by appointing Him, on numerous occasions, as His deputy, by enabling Him to plead His Cause before the public, by assigning Him the task of transcribing His Tablets, by allowing Him to assume the responsibility of shielding Him from His enemies, and by investing Him with the function of watching over and promoting the interests of His fellow-exiles and companions. He it was Who had been commissioned to undertake, as soon as circumstances might permit, the delicate and all-important task of purchasing the site that was to serve as the permanent resting-place of the Bab, of insuring the safe transfer of His remains to the Holy Land, and of erecting for Him a befitting sepulcher on Mt. Carmel. He it was Who had been chiefly instrumental in providing the necessary means for Baha'u'llah's release from His nine-year confinement within the city walls of Akka, and in enabling Him to enjoy, in the evening of His life, a measure of that peace and security from which He had so long been debarred. It was through His unremitting efforts that the illustrious Badi' had been granted his memorable interviews with Baha'u'llah, that the hostility <p242> evinced by several governors of Akka towards the exiled community had been transmuted into esteem and admiration, that the purchase of properties adjoining the Sea of Galilee and the River Jordan had been effected, and that the ablest and most valuable presentation of the early history of the Faith and of its tenets had been transmitted to posterity. It was through the extraordinarily warm reception accorded Him during His visit to Beirut, through His contact with Midhat Pasha, a former Grand Vizir of Turkey, through His friendship with Aziz Pasha, whom He had previously known in Adrianople, and who had subsequently been promoted to the rank of Vali, and through His constant association with officials, notables and leading ecclesiastics who, in increasing number had besought His presence, during the final years of His Father's ministry, that He had succeeded in raising the prestige of the Cause He had championed to a level it had never previously attained.

He alone had been accorded the privilege of being called "the Master," an honor from which His Father had strictly excluded all His other sons. Upon Him that loving and unerring Father had chosen to confer the unique title of "Sirru'llah" (the Mystery of God), a designation so appropriate to One Who, though essentially human and holding a station radically and fundamentally different from that occupied by Baha'u'llah and His Forerunner, could still claim to be the perfect Exemplar of His Faith, to be endowed with super-human knowledge, and to be regarded as the stainless mirror reflecting His light. To Him, whilst in Adrianople, that same Father had, in the Suriy-i-Ghusn (Tablet of the Branch), referred as "this sacred and glorious Being, this Branch of Holiness," as "the Limb of the Law of God," as His "most great favor" unto men, as His "most perfect bounty" conferred upon them, as One through Whom "every mouldering bone is quickened," declaring that "whoso turneth towards Him hath turned towards God," and that "they who deprive themselves of the shadow of the Branch are lost in the wilderness of error." To Him He, whilst still in that city, had alluded (in a Tablet addressed to Haji Muhammad Ibrahim-i-Khalil) as the one amongst His sons "from Whose tongue God will cause the signs of His power to stream forth," and as the one Whom "God hath specially chosen for His Cause." On Him, at a later period, the Author of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, in a celebrated passage, subsequently elucidated in the "Book of My Covenant," had bestowed the function of interpreting His Holy Writ, proclaiming Him, at the same time, to be the One "Whom God hath purposed, Who hath branched from this Ancient Root." <p243> To Him in a Tablet, revealed during that same period and addressed to Mirza Muhammad Quliy-i-Sabzivari, He had referred as "the Gulf that hath branched out of this Ocean that hath encompassed all created things," and bidden His followers to turn their faces towards it. To Him, on the occasion of His visit to Beirut, His Father had, furthermore, in a communication which He dictated to His amanuensis, paid a glowing tribute, glorifying Him as the One "round Whom all names revolve," as "the Most Mighty Branch of God," and as "His ancient and immutable Mystery." He it was Who, in several Tablets which Baha'u'llah Himself had penned, had been personally addressed as "the Apple of Mine eye," and been referred to as "a shield unto all who are in heaven and on earth," as "a shelter for all mankind" and "a stronghold for whosoever hath believed in God." It was on His behalf that His Father, in a prayer revealed in His honor, had supplicated God to "render Him victorious," and to "ordain ... for Him, as well as for them that love Him," the things destined by the Almighty for His "Messengers" and the "Trustees" of His Revelation. And finally in yet another Tablet these weighty words had been recorded: "The glory of God rest upon Thee, and upon whosoever serveth Thee and circleth around Thee. Woe, great woe, betide him that opposeth and injureth Thee. Well is it with him that sweareth fealty to Thee; the fire of hell torment him who is Thy enemy."

And now to crown the inestimable honors, privileges and benefits showered upon Him, in ever increasing abundance, throughout the forty years of His Father's ministry in Baghdad, in Adrianople and in Akka, He had been elevated to the high office of Center of Baha'u'llah's Covenant, and been made the successor of the Manifestation of God Himself -- a position that was to empower Him to impart an extraordinary impetus to the international expansion of His Father's Faith, to amplify its doctrine, to beat down every barrier that would obstruct its march, and to call into being, and delineate the features of, its Administrative Order, the Child of the Covenant, and the Harbinger of that World Order whose establishment must needs signalize the advent of the Golden Age of the Baha'i Dispensation. <p244>


The Rebellion of Mirza Muhammad-'Ali

The immediate effect of the ascension of Baha'u'llah had been, as already observed, to spread grief and bewilderment among his followers and companions, and to inspire its vigilant and redoubtable adversaries with fresh hope and renewed determination. At a time when a grievously traduced Faith had triumphantly emerged from the two severest crises it had ever known, one the work of enemies without, the other the work of enemies within, when its prestige had risen to a height unequalled in any period during its fifty-year existence, the unerring Hand which had shaped its destiny ever since its inception was suddenly removed, leaving a gap which friend and foe alike believed could never again be filled.

Yet, as the appointed Center of Baha'u'llah's Covenant and the authorized Interpreter of His teaching had Himself later explained, the dissolution of the tabernacle wherein the soul of the Manifestation of God had chosen temporarily to abide signalized its release from the restrictions which an earthly life had, of necessity, imposed upon it. Its influence no longer circumscribed by any physical limitations, its radiance no longer beclouded by its human temple, that soul could henceforth energize the whole world to a degree unapproached at any stage in the course of its existence on this planet.

Baha'u'llah's stupendous task on this earthly plane had, moreover, at the time of His passing, been brought to its final consummation. His mission, far from being in any way inconclusive, had, in every respect, been carried through to a full end. The Message with which He had been entrusted had been disclosed to the gaze of all mankind. The summons He had been commissioned to issue to its leaders and rulers had been fearlessly voiced. The fundamentals of the doctrine destined to recreate its life, heal its sicknesses and redeem it from bondage and degradation had been impregnably established. The tide of calamity that was to purge and fortify the sinews of His Faith had swept on with unstemmed fury. The blood which was to fertilize the soil out of which the institutions of His World Order were destined to spring had been profusely shed. Above all the Covenant that was to perpetuate the influence of that Faith, insure <p245> its integrity, safeguard it from schism, and stimulate its world-wide expansion, had been fixed on an inviolable basis.

His Cause, precious beyond the dreams and hopes of men; enshrining within its shell that pearl of great price to which the world, since its foundation, had been looking forward; confronted with colossal tasks of unimaginable complexity and urgency, was beyond a peradventure in safe keeping. His own beloved Son, the apple of His eye, His vicegerent on earth, the Executive of His authority, the Pivot of His Covenant, the Shepherd of His flock, the Exemplar of His faith, the Image of His perfections, the Mystery of His Revelation, the Interpreter of His mind, the Architect of His World Order, the Ensign of His Most Great Peace, the Focal Point of His unerring guidance -- in a word, the occupant of an office without peer or equal in the entire field of religious history -- stood guard over it, alert, fearless and determined to enlarge its limits, blazon abroad its fame, champion its interests and consummate its purpose.

The stirring proclamation Abdu'l-Baha had penned, addressed to the rank and file of the followers of His Father, on the morrow of His ascension, as well as the prophecies He Himself had uttered in His Tablets, breathed a resolve and a confidence which the fruits garnered and the triumphs achieved in the course of a thirty-year ministry have abundantly justified.

The cloud of despondency that had momentarily settled on the disconsolate lovers of the Cause of Baha'u'llah was lifted. The continuity of that unerring guidance vouchsafed to it since its birth was now assured. The significance of the solemn affirmation that this is "the Day which shall not be followed by night" was now clearly apprehended. An orphan community had recognized in Abdu'l-Baha, in its hour of desperate need, its Solace, its Guide, its Mainstay and Champion. The Light that had glowed with such dazzling brightness in the heart of Asia, and had, in the lifetime of Baha'u'llah, spread to the Near East, and illuminated the fringes of both the European and African continents, was to travel, through the impelling influence of the newly proclaimed Covenant, and almost immediately after the death of its Author, as far West as the North American continent, and from thence diffuse itself to the countries of Europe, and subsequently shed its radiance over both the Far East and Australasia.

Before the Faith, however, could plant its banner in the midmost heart of the North American continent, and from thence establish its outposts over so vast a portion of the Western world, the newly born Covenant of Baha'u'llah had, as had been the case with the <p246> Faith that had given it birth, to be baptized with a fire which was to demonstrate its solidity and proclaim its indestructibility to an unbelieving world. A crisis, almost as severe as that which had assailed the Faith in its earliest infancy in Baghdad, was to shake that Covenant to its foundations at the very moment of its inception, and subject afresh the Cause of which it was the noblest fruit to one of the most grievous ordeals experienced in the course of an entire century.

This crisis, misconceived as a schism, which political as well as ecclesiastical adversaries, no less than the fast dwindling remnant of the followers of Mirza Yahya hailed as a signal for the immediate disruption and final dissolution of the system established by Baha'u'llah, was precipitated at the very heart and center of His Faith, and was provoked by no one less than a member of His own family, a half-brother of Abdu'l-Baha, specifically named in the book of the Covenant, and holding a rank second to none except Him Who had been appointed as the Center of that Covenant. For no less than four years that emergency fiercely agitated the minds and hearts of a vast proportion of the faithful throughout the East, eclipsed, for a time, the Orb of the Covenant, created an irreparable breach within the ranks of Baha'u'llah's own kindred, sealed ultimately the fate of the great majority of the members of His family, and gravely damaged the prestige, though it never succeeded in causing a permanent cleavage in the structure, of the Faith itself. The true ground of this crisis was the burning, the uncontrollable, the soul-festering jealousy which the admitted preeminence of Abdu'l-Baha in rank, power, ability, knowledge and virtue, above all the other members of His Father's family, had aroused not only in Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, the archbreaker of the Covenant, but in some of his closest relatives as well. An envy as blind as that which had possessed the soul of Mirza Yahya, as deadly as that which the superior excellence of Joseph had kindled in the hearts of his brothers, as deep-seated as that which had blazed in the bosom of Cain and prompted him to slay his brother Abel, had, for several years, prior to Baha'u'llah's ascension, been smouldering in the recesses of Mirza Muhammad-'Ali's heart and had been secretly inflamed by those unnumbered marks of distinction, of admiration and favor accorded to Abdu'l-Baha not only by Baha'u'llah Himself, His companions and His followers, but by the vast number of unbelievers who had come to recognize that innate greatness which Abdu'l-Baha had manifested from childhood.

Far from being allayed by the provisions of a Will which had elevated him to the second-highest position within the ranks of the <p247> faithful, the fire of unquenchable animosity that glowed in the breast of Mirza Muhammad-'Ali burned even more fiercely as soon as he came to realize the full implications of that Document. All that Abdu'l-Baha could do, during a period of four distressful years, His incessant exhortations, His earnest pleadings, the favors and kindnesses He showered upon him, the admonitions and warnings He uttered, even His voluntary withdrawal in the hope of averting the threatening storm, proved to be of no avail. Gradually and with unyielding persistence, through lies, half-truths, calumnies and gross exaggerations, this "Prime Mover of sedition" succeeded in ranging on his side almost the entire family of Baha'u'llah, as well as a considerable number of those who had formed his immediate entourage. Baha'u'llah's two surviving wives, His two sons, the vacillating Mirza Diya'u'llah and the treacherous Mirza Badi'u'llah, with their sister and half-sister and their husbands, one of them the infamous Siyyid Ali, a kinsman of the Bab, the other the crafty Mirza Majdi'd-Din, together with his sister and half-brothers -- the children of the noble, the faithful and now deceased Aqay-i-Kalim -- all united in a determined effort to subvert the foundations of the Covenant which the newly proclaimed Will had laid. Even Mirza Aqa Jan, who for forty years had labored as Baha'u'llah's amanuensis, as well as Muhammad-Javad-i-Qasvini, who ever since the days of Adrianople, had been engaged in transcribing the innumerable Tablets revealed by the Supreme Pen, together with his entire family, threw in their lot with the Covenant-breakers, and allowed themselves to be ensnared by their machinations.

Forsaken, betrayed, assaulted by almost the entire body of His relatives, now congregated in the Mansion and the neighboring houses clustering around the most Holy Tomb, Abdu'l-Baha, already bereft of both His mother and His sons, and without any support at all save that of an unmarried sister, His four unmarried daughters, His wife and His uncle (a half-brother of Baha'u'llah), was left alone to bear, in the face of a multitude of enemies arrayed against Him from within and from without, the full brunt of the terrific responsibilities which His exalted office had laid upon Him.

Closely-knit by one common wish and purpose; indefatigable in their efforts; assured of the backing of the powerful and perfidious Jamal-i-Burujirdi and his henchmen, Haji Husayn-i-Kashi, Khalil-i-Khu'i and Jalil-i-Tabrizi who had espoused their cause; linked by a vast system of correspondence with every center and individual they could reach; seconded in their labors by emissaries whom they <p248> dispatched to Persia, Iraq, India and Egypt; emboldened in their designs by the attitude of officials whom they bribed or seduced, these repudiators of a divinely-established Covenant arose, as one man, to launch a campaign of abuse and vilification which compared in virulence with the infamous accusations which Mirza Yahya and Siyyid Muhammad had jointly levelled at Baha'u'llah. To friend and stranger, believer and unbeliever alike, to officials both high and low, openly and by insinuation, verbally as well as in writing, they represented Abdu'l-Baha as an ambitious, a self-willed, an unprincipled and pitiless usurper, Who had deliberately disregarded the testamentary instructions of His Father; Who had, in language intentionally veiled and ambiguous, assumed a rank co-equal with the Manifestation Himself; Who in His communications with the West was beginning to claim to be the return of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who had come "in the glory of the Father"; Who, in His letters to the Indian believers, was proclaiming Himself as the promised Shah Bahram, and arrogating to Himself the right to interpret the writing of His Father, to inaugurate a new Dispensation, and to share with Him the Most Great Infallibility, the exclusive prerogative of the holders of the prophetic office. They, furthermore, affirmed that He had, for His private ends, fomented discord, fostered enmity and brandished the weapon of excommunication; that He had perverted the purpose of a Testament which they alleged to be primarily concerned with the private interests of Baha'u'llah's family by acclaiming it as a Covenant of world importance, pre-existent, peerless and unique in the history of all religions; that He had deprived His brothers and sisters of their lawful allowance, and expended it on officials for His personal advancement; that He had declined all the repeated invitations made to Him to discuss the issues that had arisen and to compose the differences which prevailed; that He had actually corrupted the Holy Text, interpolated passages written by Himself, and perverted the purpose and meaning of some of the weightiest Tablets revealed by the pen of His Father; and finally, that the standard of rebellion had, as a result of such conduct, been raised by the Oriental believers, that the community of the faithful had been rent asunder, was rapidly declining and was doomed to extinction.

And yet it was this same Mirza Muhammad-'Ali who, regarding himself as the exponent of fidelity, the standard-bearer of the "Unitarians," the "Finger who points to his Master," the champion of the Holy Family, the spokesman of the Aghsan, the upholder of the <p249> Holy Writ, had, in the lifetime of Baha'u'llah, so openly and shamelessly advanced in a written statement, signed and sealed by him, the very claim now falsely imputed by him to Abdu'l-Baha, that his Father had, with His own hand, chastised him. He it was who, when sent on a mission to India, had tampered with the text of the holy writings entrusted to his care for publication. He it was who had the impudence and temerity to tell Abdu'l-Baha to His face that just as Umar had succeeded in usurping the successorship of the Prophet Muhammad, he, too, felt himself able to do the same. He it was who, obsessed by the fear that he might not survive Abdu'l-Baha, had, the moment he had been assured by Him that all the honor he coveted would, in the course of time, be his, swiftly rejoined that he had no guarantee that he would outlive Him. He it was who, as testified by Mirza Badi'u'llah in his confession, written and published on the occasion of his repentance and his short-lived reconciliation with Abdu'l-Baha, had, while Baha'u'llah's body was still awaiting interment, carried off, by a ruse, the two satchels containing his Father's most precious documents, entrusted by Him, prior to His ascension, to Abdu'l-Baha. He it was who, by an exceedingly adroit and simple forgery of a word recurring in some of the denunciatory passages addressed by the Supreme Pen to Mirza Yahya, and by other devices such as mutilation and interpolation, had succeeded in making them directly applicable to a Brother Whom he hated with such consuming passion. And lastly, it was this same Mirza Muhammad-'Ali who, as attested by Abdu'l-Baha in His Will, had, with circumspection and guile, conspired to take His life, an intention indicated by the allusions made in a letter written by Shu'a'u'llah (Son of Mirza Muhammad-'Ali), the original of which was enclosed in that same Document by Abdu'l-Baha.

The Covenant of Baha'u'llah had, by acts such as these, and others too numerous to recount, been manifestly violated. Another blow, stunning in its first effects, had been administered to the Faith and had caused its structure momentarily to tremble. The storm foreshadowed by the writer of the Apocalypse had broken. The "lightnings," the "thunders," the "earthquake" which must needs accompany the revelation of the "Ark of His Testament," had all come to pass.

Abdu'l-Baha's grief over so tragic a development, following so swiftly upon His Father's ascension, was such that, despite the triumphs witnessed in the course of His ministry, it left its traces upon Him till the end of His days. The intensity of the emotions which this somber episode aroused within Him were reminiscent of <p250> the effect produced upon Baha'u'llah by the dire happenings precipitated by the rebellion of Mirza Yahya. "I swear by the Ancient Beauty!," He wrote in one of His Tablets, "So great is My sorrow and regret that My pen is paralyzed between My fingers." "Thou seest Me," He, in a prayer recorded in His Will, thus laments, "submerged in an ocean of calamities that overwhelm the soul, of afflictions that oppress the heart... Sore trials have compassed Me round, and perils have from all sides beset Me. Thou seest Me immersed in a sea of unsurpassed tribulation, sunk into a fathomless abyss, afflicted by Mine enemies and consumed with the flame of hatred kindled by My kinsmen with whom Thou didst make Thy strong Covenant and Thy firm Testament..." And again in that same Will: "Lord! Thou seest all things weeping over Me, and My kindred rejoicing in My woes. By Thy glory, O my God! Even amongst Mine enemies some have lamented My troubles and My distress, and of the envious ones a number have shed tears because of My cares, My exile and My afflictions." "O Thou the Glory of Glories!," He, in one of His last Tablets, had cried out, "I have renounced the world and its people, and am heart-broken and sorely afflicted because of the unfaithful. In the cage of this world I flutter even as a frightened bird, and yearn every day to take My flight unto Thy Kingdom."

Baha'u'llah Himself had significantly revealed in one of His Tablets -- a Tablet that sheds an illuminating light on the entire episode: "By God, O people! Mine eye weepeth, and the eye of Ali (the Bab) weepeth amongst the Concourse on high, and Mine heart crieth out, and the heart of Muhammad crieth out within the Most Glorious Tabernacle, and My soul shouteth and the souls of the Prophets shout before them that are endued with understanding... My sorrow is not for Myself, but for Him Who shall come after Me, in the shadow of My Cause, with manifest and undoubted sovereignty, inasmuch as they will not welcome His appearance, will repudiate His signs, will dispute His sovereignty, will contend with Him, and will betray His Cause..." "Can it be possible," He, in a no less significant Tablet, had observed, "that after the dawning of the day-star of Thy Testament above the horizon of Thy Most Great Tablet, the feet of any one shall slip in Thy Straight Path? Unto this We answered: 'O My most exalted Pen! It behoveth Thee to occupy Thyself with that whereunto Thou hast been bidden by God, the Exalted, the Great. Ask not of that which will consume Thine heart and the hearts of the denizens of Paradise, who have circled round My wondrous Cause. It behoveth Thee not to be acquainted with that <p251> which We have veiled from Thee. Thy Lord is, verily, the Concealer, the All-Knowing!'" More specifically Baha'u'llah had, referring to Mirza Muhammad-'Ali in clear and unequivocal language, affirmed: "He, verily, is but one of My servants... Should he for a moment pass out from under the shadow of the Cause, he surely shall be brought to naught." Furthermore, in a no less emphatic language, He, again in connection with Mirza Muhammad-'Ali had stated: "By God, the True One! Were We, for a single instant, to withhold from him the outpourings of Our Cause, he would wither, and would fall upon the dust." Abdu'l-Baha Himself had, moreover, testified: "There is no doubt that in a thousand passages in the sacred writings of Baha'u'llah the breakers of the Covenant have been execrated." Some of these passages He Himself compiled, ere His departure from this world, and incorporated them in one of His last Tablets, as a warning and safeguard against those who, throughout His ministry, had manifested so implacable a hatred against Him, and had come so near to subverting the foundations of a Covenant on which not only His own authority but the integrity of the Faith itself depended. <p252>


The Rise and Establishment of the Faith in the West

Though the rebellion of Mirza Muhammad-'Ali precipitated many sombre and distressing events, and though its dire consequences continued for several years to obscure the light of the Covenant, to endanger the life of its appointed Center, and to distract the thoughts and retard the progress of the activities of its supporters in both the East and the West, yet the entire episode, viewed in its proper perspective, proved to be neither more nor less than one of those periodic crises which, since the inception of the Faith of Baha'u'llah, and throughout a whole century, have been instrumental in weeding out its harmful elements, in fortifying its foundations, in demonstrating its resilience, and in releasing a further measure of its latent powers.

Now that the provisions of a divinely appointed Covenant had been indubitably proclaimed; now that the purpose of the Covenant was clearly apprehended and its fundamentals had become immovably established in the hearts of the overwhelming majority of the adherents of the Faith; and now that the first assaults launched by its would-be subverters had been successfully repulsed, the Cause for which that Covenant had been designed could forge ahead along the course traced for it by the finger of its Author. Shining exploits and unforgettable victories had already signalized the birth of that Cause and accompanied its rise in several countries of the Asiatic continent, and particularly in the homeland of its Founder. The mission of its newly-appointed Leader, the steward of its glory and the diffuser of its light, was, as conceived by Himself, to enrich and extend the bounds of the incorruptible patrimony entrusted to His hands by shedding the illumination of His Father's Faith upon the West, by expounding the fundamental precepts of that Faith and its cardinal principles, by consolidating the activities which had already been initiated for the promotion of its interests, and, finally, by ushering in, through the provisions of His own Will, the Formative Age in its evolution.

A year after the ascension of Baha'u'llah, Abdu'l-Baha had, in a verse which He had revealed, and which had evoked the derision of the Covenant-breakers, already foreshadowed an auspicious event which <p253> posterity would recognize as one of the greatest triumphs of His ministry, which in the end would confer an inestimable blessing upon the western world, and which erelong was to dispel the grief and the apprehensions that had surrounded the community of His fellow-exiles in Akka. The Great Republic of the West, above all the other countries of the Occident, was singled out to be the first recipient of God's inestimable blessing, and to become the chief agent in its transmission to so many of her sister nations throughout the five continents of the earth.

The importance of so momentous a development in the evolution of the Faith of Baha'u'llah -- the establishment of His Cause in the North American continent -- at a time when Abdu'l-Baha had just inaugurated His Mission, and was still in the throes of the most grievous crisis with which He was ever confronted, can in no wise be overestimated. As far back as the year which witnessed the birth of the Faith in Shiraz the Bab had, in the Qayyumu'l-Asma', after having warned in a memorable passage the peoples of both the Orient and the Occident, directly addressed the "peoples of the West," and significantly bidden them "issue forth" from their "cities" to aid God, and "become as brethren" in His "one and indivisible religion." "In the East," Baha'u'llah Himself had, in anticipation of this development, written, "the light of His Revelation hath broken; in the West the signs of His dominion have appeared." "Should they attempt," He, moreover, had predicted, "to conceal its light on the continent, it will assuredly rear its head in the midmost heart of the ocean, and, raising its voice, proclaim: 'I am the lifegiver of the world!'" "Had this Cause been revealed in the West," He, shortly before His ascension, is reported by Nabil in his narrative to have stated, "had Our verses been sent from the West to Persia and other countries of the East, it would have become evident how the people of the Occident would have embraced Our Cause. The people of Persia, however, have failed to appreciate it." "From the beginning of time until the present day," is Abdu'l-Baha's own testimony, "the light of Divine Revelation hath risen in the East and shed its radiance upon the West. The illumination thus shed hath, however, acquired in the West an extraordinary brilliancy. Consider the Faith proclaimed by Jesus. Though it first appeared in the East, yet not until its light had been shed upon the West did the full measure of its potentialities become manifest." "The day is approaching," He has affirmed, "when ye shall witness how, through the splendor of the Faith of Baha'u'llah, the West will have replaced the East, radiating the light of Divine <p254> guidance." And again: "The West hath acquired illumination from the East, but, in some respects, the reflection of the light hath been greater in the Occident." Furthermore, "The East hath, verily, been illumined with the light of the Kingdom. Erelong will this same light shed a still greater illumination upon the West."

More specifically has the Author of the Baha'i Revelation Himself chosen to confer upon the rulers of the American continent the unique honor of addressing them collectively in the Kitab-i-Aqdas, His most Holy Book, significantly exhorting them to "adorn the temple of dominion with the ornament of justice and of the fear of God, and its head with the crown of the remembrance" of their Lord, and bidding them "bind with the hands of justice the broken," and "crush the oppressor" with the "rod of the commandments" of their "Lord, the Ordainer, the All-Wise." "The continent of America," wrote Abdu'l-Baha, "is, in the eyes of the one true God, the land wherein the splendors of His light shall be revealed, where the mysteries of His Faith shall be unveiled, where the righteous will abide and the free assemble." "The American continent," He has furthermore predicted, "giveth signs and evidences of very great advancement. Its future is even more promising, for its influence and illumination are far reaching. It will lead all nations spiritually."

"The American people," Abdu'l-Baha, even more distinctly, singling out for His special favor the Great Republic of the West, the leading nation of the American continent, has revealed, "are indeed worthy of being the first to build the Tabernacle of the Most Great Peace, and proclaim the oneness of mankind." And again: "This American nation is equipped and empowered to accomplish that which will adorn the pages of history, to become the envy of the world, and be blest in both the East and the West for the triumph of its people." Furthermore: "May this American democracy be the first nation to establish the foundation of international agreement. May it be the first nation to proclaim the unity of mankind. May it be the first to unfurl the standard of the Most Great Peace." "May the inhabitants of this country," He, moreover has written, "...rise from their present material attainment to such heights that heavenly illumination may stream from this center to all the peoples of the world."

"O ye apostles of Baha'u'llah!," Abdu'l-Baha has thus addressed the believers of the North American continent, "...consider how exalted and lofty is the station you are destined to attain... The full measure of your success is as yet unrevealed, its significance still unapprehended." And again: "Your mission is unspeakably glorious. <p255> Should success crown your enterprise, America will assuredly evolve into a center from which waves of spiritual power will emanate, and the throne of the Kingdom of God, will in the plenitude of its majesty and glory, be firmly established." And finally, this stirring affirmation: "The moment this Divine Message is carried forward by the American believers from the shores of America, and is propagated through the continents of Europe, of Asia, of Africa and of Australasia, and as far as the islands of the Pacific, this community will find itself securely established upon the throne of an everlasting dominion... Then will the whole earth resound with the praises of its majesty and greatness."

Little wonder that a community belonging to a nation so abundantly blessed, a nation occupying so eminent a position in a continent so richly endowed, should have been able to add, during the fifty years of its existence, many a page rich with victories to the annals of the Faith of Baha'u'llah. This is the community, it should be remembered, which, ever since it was called into being through the creative energies released by the proclamation of the Covenant of Baha'u'llah, was nursed in the lap of Abdu'l-Baha's unfailing solicitude, and was trained by Him to discharge its unique mission through the revelation of innumerable Tablets, through the instructions issued to returning pilgrims, through the despatch of special messengers, through His own travels at a later date, across the North American continent, through the emphasis laid by Him on the institution of the Covenant in the course of those travels, and finally through His mandate embodied in the Tablets of the Divine Plan. This is the community which, from its earliest infancy until the present day, has unremittingly labored and succeeded, through its own unaided efforts, in implanting the banner of Baha'u'llah in the vast majority of the sixty countries which, in both the East and the West, can now claim the honor of being included within the pale of His Faith. To this community belongs the distinction of having evolved the pattern, and of having been the first to erect the framework, of the administrative institutions that herald the advent of the World Order of Baha'u'llah. Through the efforts of its members the Mother Temple of the West, the Harbinger of that Order, one of the noblest institutions ordained in the Kitab-i-Aqdas, and the most stately edifice reared in the entire Baha'i world, has been erected in the very heart of the North American continent. Through the assiduous labors of its pioneers, its teachers and its administrators, the literature of the Faith has been enormously expanded, its aims and purposes fearlessly defended, and its nascent institutions solidly <p256> established. In direct consequence of the unsupported and indefatigable endeavors of the most distinguished of its itinerant teachers the spontaneous allegiance of Royalty to the Faith of Baha'u'llah has been secured and unmistakably proclaimed in several testimonies transmitted to posterity by the pen of the royal convert herself. And finally, to the members of this community, the spiritual descendants of the dawn-breakers of the Heroic Age of the Baha'i Dispensation, must be ascribed the eternal honor of having arisen, on numerous occasions, with marvelous alacrity, zeal and determination, to champion the cause of the oppressed, to relieve the needy, and to defend the interests of the edifices and institutions reared by their brethren in countries such as Persia, Russia, Egypt, Iraq and Germany, countries where the adherents of the Faith have had to sustain, in varying measure, the rigors of racial and religious persecution.

Strange, indeed, that in a country, invested with such a unique function among its sister-nations throughout the West, the first public reference to the Author of so glorious a Faith should have been made through the mouth of one of the members of that ecclesiastical order with which that Faith has had so long to contend, and from which it has frequently suffered. Stranger still that he who first established it in the city of Chicago, fifty years after the Bab had declared His Mission in Shiraz, should himself have forsaken, a few years later, the standard which he, single-handed, had implanted in that city.

It was on September 23, 1893, a little over a year after Baha'u'llah's ascension, that, in a paper written by Rev. Henry H. Jessup, D.D., Director of Presbyterian Missionary Operations in North Syria, and read by Rev. George A. Ford of Syria, at the World Parliament of Religions, held in Chicago, in connection with the Columbian Exposition, commemorating the four-hundredth anniversary of the discovery of America, it was announced that "a famous Persian Sage," "the Babi Saint," had died recently in Akka, and that two years previous to His ascension "a Cambridge scholar" had visited Him, to whom He had expressed "sentiments so noble, so Christ-like" that the author of the paper, in his "closing words," wished to share them with his audience. Less than a year later, in February 1894, a Syrian doctor, named Ibrahim Khayru'llah, who, while residing in Cairo, had been converted by Haji Abdu'l-Karim-i-Tihrani to the Faith, had received a Tablet from Baha'u'llah, had communicated with Abdu'l-Baha, and reached New York in December 1892, established his residence in Chicago, and began to teach actively and systematically the Cause he had espoused. Within the space of two years he had communicated <p257> his impressions to Abdu'l-Baha, and reported on the remarkable success that had attended his efforts. In 1895 an opening was vouchsafed to him in Kenosha, which he continued to visit once a week, in the course of his teaching activities. By the following year the believers in these two cities, it was reported, were counted by hundreds. In 1897 he published his book, entitled the Babu'd-Din, and visited Kansas City, New York City, Ithaca and Philadelphia, where he was able to win for the Faith a considerable number of supporters. The stout-hearted Thornton Chase, surnamed Thabit (Steadfast) by Abdu'l-Baha and designated by Him "the first American believer," who became a convert to the Faith in 1894, the immortal Louisa A. Moore, the mother teacher of the West, surnamed Liva (Banner) by Abdu'l-Baha, Dr. Edward Getsinger, to whom she was later married, Howard MacNutt, Arthur P. Dodge, Isabella D. Brittingham, Lillian F. Kappes, Paul K. Dealy, Chester I. Thacher and Helen S. Goodall, whose names will ever remain associated with the first stirrings of the Faith of Baha'u'llah in the North American continent, stand out as the most prominent among those who, in those early years, awakened to the call of the New Day, and consecrated their lives to the service of the newly proclaimed Covenant.

By 1898 Mrs. Phoebe Hearst, the well-known philanthropist (wife of Senator George F. Hearst), whom Mrs. Getsinger had, while on a visit to California, attracted to the Faith, had expressed her intention of visiting Abdu'l-Baha in the Holy Land, had invited several believers, among them Dr. and Mrs. Getsinger, Dr. Khayru'llah and his wife, to join her, and had completed the necessary arrangements for their historic pilgrimage to Akka. In Paris several resident Americans, among whom were May Ellis Bolles, whom Mrs. Getsinger had won over to the Faith, Miss Pearson, and Ann Apperson, both nieces of Mrs. Hearst, with Mrs. Thornburgh and her daughter, were added to the party, the number of which was later swelled in Egypt by the addition of Dr. Khayru'llah's daughters and their grand-mother whom he had recently converted.

The arrival of fifteen pilgrims, in three successive parties, the first of which, including Dr. and Mrs. Getsinger, reached the prison-city of Akka on December 10, 1898; the intimate personal contact established between the Center of Baha'u'llah's Covenant and the newly arisen heralds of His Revelation in the West; the moving circumstances attending their visit to His Tomb and the great honor bestowed upon them of being conducted by Abdu'l-Baha Himself into its innermost chamber; the spirit which, through precept and example, despite the <p258> briefness of their stay, a loving and bountiful Host so powerfully infused into them; and the passionate zeal and unyielding resolve which His inspiring exhortations, His illuminating instructions and the multiple evidences of His divine love kindled in their hearts -- all these marked the opening of a new epoch in the development of the Faith in the West, an epoch whose significance the acts subsequently performed by some of these same pilgrims and their fellow-disciples have amply demonstrated.

"Of that first meeting," one of these pilgrims, recording her impressions, has written, "I can remember neither joy nor pain, nor anything that I can name. I had been carried suddenly to too great a height, my soul had come in contact with the Divine Spirit, and this force, so pure, so holy, so mighty, had overwhelmed me... We could not remove our eyes from His glorious face; we heard all that He said; we drank tea with Him at His bidding; but existence seemed suspended; and when He arose and suddenly left us, we came back with a start to life; but never again, oh! never again, thank God, the same life on this earth." "In the might and majesty of His presence," that same pilgrim, recalling the last interview accorded the party of which she was a member, has testified, "our fear was turned to perfect faith, our weakness into strength, our sorrow into hope, and ourselves forgotten in our love for Him. As we all sat before Him, waiting to hear His words, some of the believers wept bitterly. He bade them dry their tears, but they could not for a moment. So again He asked them for His sake not to weep, nor would He talk to us and teach us until all tears were banished..."

..."Those three days," Mrs. Hearst herself has, in one of her letters, testified, "were the most memorable days of my life... The Master I will not attempt to describe: I will only state that I believe with all my heart that He is the Master, and my greatest blessing in this world is that I have been privileged to be in His presence, and look upon His sanctified face... Without a doubt Abbas Effendi is the Messiah of this day and generation, and we need not look for another." "I must say," she, moreover, has in another letter written, "He is the most wonderful Being I have ever met or ever expect to meet in this world... The spiritual atmosphere which surrounds Him and most powerfully affects all those who are blest by being near Him, is indescribable... I believe in Him with all my heart and soul, and I hope all who call themselves believers will concede to Him all the greatness, all the glory, and all the praise, for surely He is the Son of God -- and 'the spirit of the Father abideth in Him.'" <p259>

Even Mrs. Hearst's butler, a negro named Robert Turner, the first member of his race to embrace the Cause of Baha'u'llah in the West, had been transported by the influence exerted by Abdu'l-Baha in the course of that epoch-making pilgrimage. Such was the tenacity of his faith that even the subsequent estrangement of his beloved mistress from the Cause she had spontaneously embraced failed to becloud its radiance, or to lessen the intensity of the emotions which the loving-kindness showered by Abdu'l-Baha upon him had excited in his breast.

The return of these God-intoxicated pilgrims, some to France, others to the United States, was the signal for an outburst of systematic and sustained activity, which, as it gathered momentum, and spread its ramifications over Western Europe and the states and provinces of the North American continent, grew to so great a scale that Abdu'l-Baha Himself resolved that, as soon as He should be released from His prolonged confinement in Akka, He would undertake a personal mission to the West. Undeflected in its course by the devastating crisis which the ambition of Dr. Khayru'llah had, upon his return from the Holy Land (December, 1899) precipitated; undismayed by the agitation which he, working in collaboration with the arch-breaker of the Covenant and his messengers, had provoked; disdainful of the attacks launched by him and his fellow-seceders, as well as by Christian ecclesiastics increasingly jealous of the rising power and extending influence of the Faith; nourished by a continual flow of pilgrims who transmitted the verbal messages and special instructions of a vigilant Master; invigorated by the effusions of His pen recorded in innumerable Tablets; instructed by the successive messengers and teachers dispatched at His behest for its guidance, edification and consolidation, the community of the American believers arose to initiate a series of enterprises which, blessed and stimulated a decade later by Abdu'l-Baha Himself, were to be but a prelude to the unparalleled services destined to be rendered by its members during the Formative Age of His Father's Dispensation.

No sooner had one of these pilgrims, the afore-mentioned May Bolles, returned to Paris than she succeeded, in compliance with Abdu'l-Baha's emphatic instructions, in establishing in that city the first Baha'i center to be formed on the European continent. This center was, shortly after her arrival, reinforced by the conversion of the illumined Thomas Breakwell, the first English believer, immortalized by Abdu'l-Baha's fervent eulogy revealed in his memory; of Hippolyte Dreyfus, the first Frenchman to embrace the Faith, who, <p260> through his writings, translations, travels and other pioneer services, was able to consolidate, as the years went by, the work which had been initiated in his country; and of Laura Barney, whose imperishable service was to collect and transmit to posterity in the form of a book, entitled "Some Answered Questions," Abdu'l-Baha's priceless explanations, covering a wide variety of subjects, given to her in the course of an extended pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Three years later, in 1902, May Bolles, now married to a Canadian, transferred her residence to Montreal, and succeeded in laying the foundations of the Cause in that Dominion.

In London Mrs. Thornburgh-Cropper, as a consequence of the creative influences released by that never-to-be-forgotten pilgrimage, was able to initiate activities which, stimulated and expanded through the efforts of the first English believers, and particularly of Ethel J. Rosenberg, converted in 1899, enabled them to erect, in later years, the structure of their administrative institutions in the British Isles. In the North American continent, the defection and the denunciatory publications of Dr. Khayru'llah (encouraged as he was by Mirza Muhammad-'Ali and his son Shu'a'u'llah, whom he had despatched to America) tested to the utmost the loyalty of the newly fledged community; but successive messengers despatched by Abdu'l-Baha (such as Haji Abdu'l-Karim-i-Tihrani, Haji Mirza Hasan-i-Khurasani, Mirza Asadu'llah and Mirza Abu'l-Fadl) succeeded in rapidly dispelling the doubts, and in deepening the understanding, of the believers, in holding the community together, and in forming the nucleus of those administrative institutions which, two decades later, were to be formally inaugurated through the explicit provisions of Abdu'l-Baha's Will and Testament. As far back as the year 1899 a council board of seven officers, the forerunner of a series of Assemblies which, ere the close of the first Baha'i Century, were to cover the North American Continent from coast to coast, was established in the city of Kenosha. In 1902 a Baha'i Publishing Society, designed to propagate the literature of a gradually expanding community, was formed in Chicago. A Baha'i Bulletin, for the purpose of disseminating the teachings of the Faith was inaugurated in New York. The "Baha'i News," another periodical, subsequently appeared in Chicago, and soon developed into a magazine entitled "Star of the West." The translation of some of the most important writings of Baha'u'llah, such as the "Hidden Words," the "Kitab-i-Iqan," the "Tablets to the Kings," and the "Seven Valleys," together with the Tablets of Abdu'l-Baha, as well <p261> as several treatises and pamphlets written by Mirza Abu'l-Fadl and others, was energetically undertaken. A considerable correspondence with various centers throughout the Orient was initiated, and grew steadily in scope and importance. Brief histories of the Faith, books and pamphlets written in its defence, articles for the press, accounts of travels and pilgrimages, eulogies and poems, were likewise published and widely disseminated.

Simultaneously, travellers and teachers, emerging triumphantly from the storms of tests and trials which had threatened to engulf their beloved Cause, arose, of their own accord, to reinforce and multiply the strongholds of the Faith already established. Centers were opened in the cities of Washington, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Cleveland, Baltimore, Minneapolis, Buffalo, Rochester, Pittsburgh, Seattle, St. Paul and in other places. Audacious pioneers, whether as visitors or settlers, eager to spread the new born Evangel beyond the confines of their native country, undertook journeys, and embarked on enterprises which carried its light to the heart of Europe, to the Far East, and as far as the islands of the Pacific. Mason Remey voyaged to Russia and Persia, and later, with Howard Struven, circled, for the first time in Baha'i history, the globe, visiting on his way the Hawaiian Islands, Japan, China, India and Burma. Hooper Harris and Harlan Ober traveled, during no less than seven months, in India and Burma, visiting Bombay, Poona, Lahore, Calcutta, Rangoon and Mandalay. Alma Knobloch, following on the heels of Dr. K. E. Fisher, hoisted the standard of the Faith in Germany, and carried its light to Austria. Dr. Susan I. Moody, Sydney Sprague, Lillian F. Kappes, Dr. Sarah Clock, and Elizabeth Stewart transferred their residence to Tihran for the purpose of furthering the manifold interests of the Faith, in collaboration with the Baha'is of that city. Sarah Farmer, who had already initiated in 1894, at Green Acre, in the State of Maine, summer conferences and established a center for the promotion of unity and fellowship between races and religions, placed, after her pilgrimage to Akka in 1900, the facilities these conferences provided at the disposal of the followers of the Faith which she had herself recently embraced.

And last but not least, inspired by the example set by their fellow-disciples in Ishqabad, who had already commenced the construction of the first Mashriqu'l-Adhkar of the Baha'i world, and afire with the desire to demonstrate, in a tangible and befitting manner, the quality of their faith and devotion, the Baha'is of Chicago, having petitioned Abdu'l-Baha for permission to erect a House of Worship, <p262> and secured, in a Tablet revealed in June 1903, His ready and enthusiastic approval, arose, despite the smallness of their numbers and their limited resources, to initiate an enterprise which must rank as the greatest single contribution which the Baha'is of America, and indeed of the West, have as yet made to the Cause of Baha'u'llah. The subsequent encouragement given them by Abdu'l-Baha, and the contributions raised by various Assemblies decided the members of this Assembly to invite representatives of their fellow-believers in various parts of the country to meet in Chicago for the initiation of the stupendous undertaking they had conceived. On November 26, 1907, the assembled representatives, convened for that purpose, appointed a committee of nine to locate a suitable site for the proposed Temple. By April 9, 1908, the sum of two thousand dollars had been paid for the purchase of two building lots, situated near the shore of Lake Michigan. In March 1909, a convention representative of various Baha'i centers was called, in pursuance of instructions received from Abdu'l-Baha. The thirty-nine delegates, representing thirty-six cities, who had assembled in Chicago, on the very day the remains of the Bab were laid to rest by Abdu'l-Baha in the specially erected mausoleum on Mt. Carmel, established a permanent national organization, known as the Baha'i Temple Unity, which was incorporated as a religious corporation, functioning under the laws of the State of Illinois, and invested with full authority to hold title to the property of the Temple and to provide ways and means for its construction. At this same convention a constitution was framed, the Executive Board of the Baha'i Temple Unity was elected, and was authorized by the delegates to complete the purchase of the land recommended by the previous Convention. Contributions for this historic enterprise, from India, Persia, Turkey, Syria, Palestine, Russia, Egypt, Germany, France, England, Canada, Mexico, the Hawaiian Islands, and even Mauritius, and from no less than sixty American cities, amounted by 1910, two years previous to Abdu'l-Baha's arrival in America, to no less than twenty thousand dollars, a remarkable testimony alike to the solidarity of the followers of Baha'u'llah in both the East and the West, and to the self-sacrificing efforts exerted by the American believers who, as the work progressed, assumed a preponderating share in providing the sum of over a million dollars required for the erection of the structure of the Temple and its external ornamentation. <p263>


Renewal of Abdu'l-Baha's Incarceration

The outstanding accomplishments of a valiant and sorely-tested community, the first fruits of Baha'u'llah's newly established Covenant in the Western world, had laid a foundation sufficiently imposing to invite the presence of the appointed Center of that Covenant, Who had called that Community into being and watched, with such infinite care and foresight, over its budding destinies. Not until, however, Abdu'l-Baha had emerged from the severe crisis which had already for several years been holding Him in its toils could He undertake His memorable voyage to the shores of a continent where the rise and establishment of His Father's Faith had been signalized by such magnificent and enduring achievements.

This second major crisis of His ministry, external in nature and hardly less severe than the one precipitated by the rebellion of Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, gravely imperiled His life, deprived Him, for a number of years, of the relative freedom He had enjoyed, plunged into anguish His family and the followers of the Faith in East and West, and exposed as never before, the degradation and infamy of His relentless adversaries. It originated two years after the departure of the first American pilgrims from the Holy Land. It persisted, with varying degrees of intensity, during more than seven years, and was directly attributable to the incessant intrigues and monstrous misrepresentations of the Arch-Breaker of Baha'u'llah's Covenant and his supporters.

Embittered by his abject failure to create a schism on which he had fondly pinned his hopes; stung by the conspicuous success which the standard-bearers of the Covenant had, despite his machinations, achieved in the North American continent; encouraged by the existence of a regime that throve in an atmosphere of intrigue and suspicion, and which was presided over by a cunning and cruel potentate; determined to exploit to the full the opportunities for mischief afforded him by the arrival of Western pilgrims at the prison-fortress of Akka, as well as by the commencement of the construction of the Bab's sepulcher on Mt. Carmel, Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, seconded by his brother, Mirza Badi'u'llah, and aided by his brother-in-law, <p264> Mirza Majdi'd-Din, succeeded through strenuous and persistent endeavors in exciting the suspicion of the Turkish government and its officials, and in inducing them to reimpose on Abdu'l-Baha the confinement from which, in the days of Baha'u'llah, He had so grievously suffered.

This very brother, Mirza Muhammad-'Ali's chief accomplice, in a written confession signed, sealed and published by him, on the occasion of his reconciliation with Abdu'l-Baha, has borne testimony to the wicked plots that had been devised. "What I have heard from others," wrote Mirza Badi'u'llah, "I will ignore. I will only recount what I have seen with my own eyes, and heard from his (Mirza Muhammad-'Ali) lips." "It was arranged by him (Mirza Muhammad-'Ali)," he, then, proceeds to relate, "to dispatch Mirza Majdi'd-Din with a gift and a letter written in Persian to Nazim Pasha, the Vali (governor) of Damascus, and to seek his assistance.... As he (Mirza Majdi'd-Din) himself informed me in Haifa he did all he could to acquaint him (governor) fully with the construction work on Mt. Carmel, with the comings and goings of the American believers, and with the gatherings held in Akka. The Pasha, in his desire to know all the facts, was extremely kind to him, and assured him of his aid. A few days after Mirza Majdi'd-Din's return a cipher telegram was received from the Sublime Porte, transmitting the Sultan's orders to incarcerate Abdu'l-Baha, myself and the others." "In those days," he, furthermore, in that same document, testifies, "a man who came to Akka from Damascus stated to outsiders that Nazim Pasha had been the cause of the incarceration of Abbas Effendi. The strangest thing of all is this that Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, after he had been incarcerated, wrote a letter to Nazim Pasha for the purpose of achieving his own deliverance.... The Pasha, however, did not write even a word in answer to either the first or the second letter."

It was in 1901, on the fifth day of the month of Jamadiyu'l-Avval 1319 A.H. (August 20) that Abdu'l-Baha, upon His return from Bahji where He had participated in the celebration of the anniversary of the Bab's Declaration, was informed, in the course of an interview with the governor of Akka, of Sultan Abdu'l-Hamid's instructions ordering that the restrictions which had been gradually relaxed should be reimposed, and that He and His brothers should be strictly confined within the walls of that city. The Sultan's edict was at first rigidly enforced, the freedom of the exiled community was severely curtailed, while Abdu'l-Baha had to submit, alone and <p265> unaided, to the prolonged interrogation of judges and officials, who required His presence for several consecutive days at government headquarters for the purpose of their investigations. One of His first acts was to intercede on behalf of His brothers, who had been peremptorily summoned and informed by the governor of the orders of the sovereign, an act which failed to soften their hostility or lessen their malevolent activities. Subsequently, through His intervention with the civil and military authorities, He succeeded in obtaining the freedom of His followers who resided in Akka, and in enabling them to continue to earn, without interference, the means of livelihood.

The Covenant-breakers were unappeased by the measures taken by the authorities against One Who had so magnanimously intervened on their behalf. Aided by the notorious Yahya Bey, the chief of police, and other officials, civil as well as military, who, in consequence of their representations, had replaced those who had been friendly to Abdu'l-Baha, and by secret agents who traveled back and forth between Akka and Constantinople, and who even kept a vigilant watch over everything that went on in His household, they arose to encompass His ruin. They lavished on officials gifts which included possessions sacred to the memory of Baha'u'llah, and shamelessly proffered to high and low alike bribes drawn, in some instances, from the sale of properties associated with Him or bestowed upon some of them by Abdu'l-Baha. Relaxing nothing of their efforts they pursued relentlessly the course of their nefarious activities, determined to leave no stone unturned until they had either brought about His execution or ensured His deportation to a place remote enough to enable them to wrest the Cause from His grasp. The Vali of Damascus, the Mufti of Beirut, members of the Protestant missions established in Syria and Akka, even the influential Shaykh Abu'l-Huda, in Constantinople, whom the Sultan held in as profound an esteem as that in which Muhammad Shah had held his Grand Vizir, Haji Mirza Aqasi, were, on various occasions, approached, appealed to, and urged to lend their assistance for the prosecution of their odious designs.

Through verbal messages, formal communications and by personal interviews the Covenant-breakers impressed upon these notables the necessity of immediate action, shrewdly adapting their arguments to the particular interests and prejudices of those whose aid they solicited. To some they represented Abdu'l-Baha as a callous usurper Who had trampled upon their rights, robbed them of their heritage, reduced them to poverty, made their friends in Persia their enemies, <p266> accumulated for Himself a vast fortune, and acquired no less than two-thirds of the land in Haifa. To others they declared that Abdu'l-Baha contemplated making of Akka and Haifa a new Mecca and Medina. To still others they affirmed that Baha'u'llah was no more than a retired dervish, who professed and promoted the Faith of Islam, Whom Abbas Effendi, His son, had, for the purpose of self-glorification, exalted to the rank of God-head, whilst claiming Himself to be the Son of God and the return of Jesus Christ. They further accused Him of harboring designs inimical to the interests of the state, of meditating a rebellion against the Sultan, of having already hoisted the banner of Ya Baha'u'l-Abha, the ensign of revolt, in distant villages in Palestine and Syria, of having raised surreptitiously an army of thirty thousand men, of being engaged in the construction of a fortress and a vast ammunition depot on Mt. Carmel, of having secured the moral and material support of a host of English and American friends, amongst whom were officers of foreign powers, who were arriving, in large numbers and in disguise, to pay Him their homage, and of having already, in conjunction with them, drawn up His plans for the subjugation of the neighboring provinces, for the expulsion of the ruling authorities, and for the ultimate seizure of the power wielded by the Sultan himself. Through misrepresentation and bribery they succeeded in inducing certain people to affix their signatures as witnesses to the documents which they had drawn up, and which they despatched, through their agents, to the Sublime Porte.

Such grave accusations, embodied in numerous reports, could not fail to perturb profoundly the mind of a despot already obsessed by the fear of impending rebellion among his subjects. A commission was accordingly appointed to inquire into the matter, and report the result of its investigations. Each of the charges brought against Abdu'l-Baha, when summoned to the court, on several occasions, He carefully and fearlessly refuted. He exposed the absurdity of these accusations, acquainted the members of the Commission, in support of His argument, with the provisions of Baha'u'llah's Testament, expressed His readiness to submit to any sentence the court might decide to pass upon Him, and eloquently affirmed that if they should chain Him, drag Him through the streets, execrate and ridicule Him, stone and spit upon Him, suspend Him in the public square, and riddle Him with bullets, He would regard it as a signal honor, inasmuch as He would thereby be following in the footsteps, and sharing the sufferings, of His beloved Leader, the Bab. <p267>

The gravity of the situation confronting Abdu'l-Baha; the rumors that were being set afloat by a population that anticipated the gravest developments; the hints and allusions to the dangers threatening Him contained in newspapers published in Egypt and Syria; the aggressive attitude which His enemies increasingly assumed; the provocative behavior of some of the inhabitants of Akka and Haifa who had been emboldened by the predictions and fabrications of these enemies regarding the fate awaiting a suspected community and its Leader, led Him to reduce the number of pilgrims, and even to suspend, for a time, their visits, and to issue special instructions that His mail be handled through an agent in Egypt rather than in Haifa; for a time He ordered that it should be held there pending further advice from Him. He, moreover, directed the believers, as well as His own secretaries, to collect and remove to a place of safety all the Baha'i writings in their possession, and, urging them to transfer their residence to Egypt, went so far as to forbid their gathering, as was their wont, in His house. Even His numerous friends and admirers refrained, during the most turbulent days of this period, from calling upon Him, for fear of being implicated and of incurring the suspicion of the authorities. On certain days and nights, when the outlook was at its darkest, the house in which He was living, and which had for many years been a focus of activity, was completely deserted. Spies, secretly and openly, kept watch around it, observing His every movement and restricting the freedom of His family.

The construction of the Bab's sepulcher, whose foundation-stone had been laid by Him on the site blessed and selected by Baha'u'llah, He, however, refused to suspend, or even interrupt, for however brief a period. Nor would He allow any obstacle, however formidable, to interfere with the daily flow of Tablets which poured forth, with prodigious rapidity and ever increasing volume, from His indefatigable pen, in answer to the vast number of letters, reports, inquiries, prayers, confessions of faith, apologies and eulogies received from countless followers and admirers in both the East and the West. Eye-witnesses have testified that, during that agitated and perilous period of His life, they had known Him to pen, with His own Hand, no less than ninety Tablets in a single day, and to pass many a night, from dusk to dawn, alone in His bed-chamber engaged in a correspondence which the pressure of His manifold responsibilities had prevented Him from attending to in the day-time.

It was during these troublous times, the most dramatic period of His ministry, when, in the hey-day of His life and in the full tide of <p268> His power, He, with inexhaustible energy, marvelous serenity and unshakable confidence, initiated and resistlessly prosecuted the varied enterprises associated with that ministry. It was during these times that the plan of the first Mashriqu'l-Adhkar of the Baha'i world was conceived by Him, and its construction undertaken by His followers in the city of Ishqabad in Turkistan. It was during these times, despite the disturbances that agitated His native country, that instructions were issued by Him for the restoration of the holy and historic House of the Bab in Shiraz. It was during these times that the initial measures, chiefly through His constant encouragement, were taken which paved the way for the laying of the dedication stone, which He, in later years, placed with His own hands when visiting the site of the Mother Temple of the West on the shore of Lake Michigan. It was at this juncture that that celebrated compilation of His table talks, published under the title "Some Answered Questions," was made, talks given during the brief time He was able to spare, in the course of which certain fundamental aspects of His Father's Faith were elucidated, traditional and rational proofs of its validity adduced, and a great variety of subjects regarding the Christian Dispensation, the Prophets of God, Biblical prophecies, the origin and condition of man and other kindred themes authoritatively explained.

It was during the darkest hours of this period that, in a communication addressed to the Bab's cousin, the venerable Haji Mirza Muhammad-Taqi, the chief builder of the Temple of Ishqabad, Abdu'l-Baha, in stirring terms, proclaimed the immeasurable greatness of the Revelation of Baha'u'llah, sounded the warnings foreshadowing the turmoil which its enemies, both far and near, would let loose upon the world, and prophesied, in moving language, the ascendancy which the torchbearers of the Covenant would ultimately achieve over them. It was at an hour of grave suspense, during that same period, that He penned His Will and Testament, that immortal Document wherein He delineated the features of the Administrative Order which would arise after His passing, and would herald the establishment of that World Order, the advent of which the Bab had announced, and the laws and principles of which Baha'u'llah had already formulated. It was in the course of these tumultuous years that, through the instrumentality of the heralds and champions of a firmly instituted Covenant, He reared the embryonic institutions, administrative, spiritual, and educational, of a steadily expanding Faith in Persia, the cradle of that Faith, in the Great Republic of the West, <p269> the cradle of its Administrative Order, in the Dominion of Canada, in France, in England, in Germany, in Egypt, in Iraq, in Russia, in India, in Burma, in Japan, and even in the remote Pacific Islands. It was during these stirring times that a tremendous impetus was lent by Him to the translation, the publication and dissemination of Baha'i literature, whose scope now included a variety of books and treatises, written in the Persian, the Arabic, the English, the Turkish, the French, the German, the Russian and Burmese languages. At His table, in those days, whenever there was a lull in the storm raging about Him, there would gather pilgrims, friends and inquirers from most of the afore-mentioned countries, representative of the Christian, the Muslim, the Jewish, the Zoroastrian, the Hindu and Buddhist Faiths. To the needy thronging His doors and filling the courtyard of His house every Friday morning, in spite of the perils that environed Him, He would distribute alms with His own hands, with a regularity and generosity that won Him the title of "Father of the Poor." Nothing in those tempestuous days could shake His confidence, nothing would be allowed to interfere with His ministrations to the destitute, the orphan, the sick, and the down-trodden, nothing could prevent Him from calling in person upon those who were either incapacitated or ashamed to solicit His aid. Adamant in His determination to follow the example of both the Bab and Baha'u'llah, nothing would induce Him to flee from His enemies, or escape from imprisonment, neither the advice tendered Him by the leading members of the exiled community in Akka, nor the insistent pleas of the Spanish Consul -- a kinsman of the agent of an Italian steamship company -- who, in his love for Abdu'l-Baha and his anxiety to avert the threatening danger, had gone so far as to place at His disposal an Italian freighter, ready to provide Him a safe passage to any foreign port He might name.

So imperturbable was Abdu'l-Baha's equanimity that, while rumors were being bruited about that He might be cast into the sea, or exiled to Fizan in Tripolitania, or hanged on the gallows, He, to the amazement of His friends and the amusement of His enemies, was to be seen planting trees and vines in the garden of His house, whose fruits when the storm had blown over, He would bid His faithful gardener, Isma'il Aqa, pluck and present to those same friends and enemies on the occasion of their visits to Him.

In the early part of the winter of 1907 another Commission of four officers, headed by Arif Bey, and invested with plenary powers, was suddenly dispatched to Akka by order of the Sultan. A few days <p270> before its arrival Abdu'l-Baha had a dream, which He recounted to the believers, in which He saw a ship cast anchor off Akka, from which flew a few birds, resembling sticks of dynamite, and which, circling about His head, as He stood in the midst of a multitude of the frightened inhabitants of the city, returned without exploding to the ship.

No sooner had the members of the Commission landed than they placed under their direct and exclusive control both the Telegraph and Postal services in Akka; arbitrarily dismissed officials suspected of being friendly to Abdu'l-Baha, including the governor of the city; established direct and secret contact with the government in Constantinople; took up their residence in the home of the neighbors and intimate associates of the Covenant-breakers; set guards over the house of Abdu'l-Baha to prevent any one from seeing Him; and started the strange procedure of calling up as witnesses the very people, among whom were Christians and Moslems, orientals and westerners, who had previously signed the documents forwarded to Constantinople, and which they had brought with them for the purpose of their investigations.

The activities of the Covenant-breakers, and particularly of Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, now jubilant and full of hope, rose in this hour of extreme crisis, to the highest pitch. Visits, interviews and entertainments multiplied, in an atmosphere of fervid expectation, now that the victory was seen to be at hand. Not a few among the lower elements of the population were led to believe that their acquisition of the property which would be left behind by the deported exiles was imminent. Insults and calumnies markedly increased. Even some of the poor, so long and so bountifully succored by Abdu'l-Baha, forsook Him for fear of reprisals.

Abdu'l-Baha, while the members of the Commission were carrying on their so-called investigations, and throughout their stay of about one month in Akka, consistently refused to meet or have any dealings with any of them, in spite of the veiled threats and warnings conveyed by them to Him through a messenger, an attitude which greatly surprised them and served to inflame their animosity and reinforce their determination to execute their evil designs. Though the perils and tribulations which had encompassed Him were now at their thickest, though the ship on which He was supposed to embark with the members of the Commission was waiting in readiness, at times in Akka, at times in Haifa, and the wildest rumors were being spread about Him, the serenity He had invariably maintained, ever <p271> since His incarceration had been reimposed, remained unclouded, and His confidence unshaken. "The meaning of the dream I dreamt," He, at that time, told the believers who still remained in Akka, "is now clear and evident. Please God this dynamite will not explode."

Meanwhile the members of the Commission had, on a certain Friday, gone to Haifa and inspected the Bab's sepulcher, the construction of which had been proceeding without any interruption on Mt. Carmel. Impressed by its solidity and dimensions, they had inquired of one of the attendants as to the number of vaults that had been built beneath that massive structure.

Shortly after the inspection had been made it was suddenly observed, one day at about sunset, that the ship, which had been lying off Haifa, had weighed anchor, and was heading towards Akka. The news spread rapidly among an excited population that the members of the Commission had embarked upon it. It was anticipated that it would stop long enough at Akka to take Abdu'l-Baha on board, and then proceed to its destination. Consternation and anguish seized the members of His family when informed of the approach of the ship. The few believers who were left wept with grief at their impending separation from their Master. Abdu'l-Baha could be seen, at that tragic hour, pacing, alone and silent, the courtyard of His house.

As dusk fell, however, it was suddenly noticed that the lights of the ship had swung round, and the vessel had changed her course. It now became evident that she was sailing direct for Constantinople. The intelligence was instantly communicated to Abdu'l-Baha, Who, in the gathering darkness, was still pacing His courtyard. Some of the believers who had posted themselves at different points to watch the progress of the ship hurried to confirm the joyful tidings. One of the direst perils that had ever threatened Abdu'l-Baha's precious life was, on that historic day, suddenly, providentially and definitely averted.

Soon after the precipitate and wholly unexpected sailing of that ship news was received that a bomb had exploded in the path of the Sultan while he was returning to his palace from the mosque where he had been offering his Friday prayers.

A few days after this attempt on his life the Commission submitted its report to him; but he and his government were too preoccupied to consider the matter. The case was laid aside, and when, some months later, it was again brought forward it was abruptly closed forever by an event which, once and for all, placed the Prisoner of Akka beyond the power of His royal enemy. The "Young Turk" Revolution, breaking out swiftly and decisively in 1908, forced <p272> a reluctant despot to promulgate the constitution which he had suspended, and to release all religious and political prisoners held under the old regime. Even then a telegram had to be sent to Constantinople to inquire specifically whether Abdu'l-Baha was included in the category of these prisoners, to which an affirmative reply was promptly received.

Within a few months, in 1909, the Young Turks obtained from the Shaykhu'l-Islam the condemnation of the Sultan himself who, as a result of further attempts to overthrow the constitution, was finally and ignominiously deposed, deported and made a prisoner of state. On one single day of that same year there were executed no less than thirty-one leading ministers, pashas and officials, among whom were numbered notorious enemies of the Faith. Tripolitania itself, the scene of Abdu'l-Baha's intended exile was subsequently wrested from the Turks by Italy. Thus ended the reign of the "Great Assassin," "the most mean, cunning, untrustworthy and cruel intriguer of the long dynasty of Uthman," a reign "more disastrous in its immediate losses of territory and in the certainty of others to follow, and more conspicuous for the deterioration of the condition of his subjects, than that of any other of his twenty-three degenerate predecessors since the death of Sulayman the Magnificent." <p273>


Entombment of the Bab's Remains on Mt. Carmel

Abdu'l-Baha's unexpected and dramatic release from His forty-year confinement dealt a blow to the ambitions cherished by the Covenant-breakers as devastating as that which, a decade before, had shattered their hopes of undermining His authority and of ousting Him from His God-given position. Now, on the very morrow of His triumphant liberation a third blow befell them as stunning as those which preceded it and hardly less spectacular than they. Within a few months of the historic decree which set Him free, in the very year that witnessed the downfall of Sultan Abdu'l-Hamid, that same power from on high which had enabled Abdu'l-Baha to preserve inviolate the rights divinely conferred on Him, to establish His Father's Faith in the North American continent, and to triumph over His royal oppressor, enabled Him to achieve one of the most signal acts of His ministry: the removal of the Bab's remains from their place of concealment in Tihran to Mt. Carmel. He Himself testified, on more than one occasion, that the safe transfer of these remains, the construction of a befitting mausoleum to receive them, and their final interment with His own hands in their permanent resting-place constituted one of the three principal objectives which, ever since the inception of His mission, He had conceived it His paramount duty to achieve. This act indeed deserves to rank as one of the outstanding events in the first Baha'i century.

As observed in a previous chapter the mangled bodies of the Bab and His fellow-martyr, Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, were removed, in the middle of the second night following their execution, through the pious intervention of Haji Sulayman Khan, from the edge of the moat where they had been cast to a silk factory owned by one of the believers of Milan, and were laid the next day in a wooden casket, and thence carried to a place of safety. Subsequently, according to Baha'u'llah's instructions, they were transported to Tihran and placed in the shrine of Imam-Zadih Hasan. They were later removed to the residence of Haji Sulayman Khan himself in the Sar-Chashmih quarter of the city, and from his house were taken to the shrine of Imam-Zadih Ma'sum, where they remained concealed until the year <p274> 1284 A.H. (1867-1868), when a Tablet, revealed by Baha'u'llah in Adrianople, directed Mulla Ali-Akbar-i-Shahmirzadi and Jamal-i-Burujirdi to transfer them without delay to some other spot, an instruction which, in view of the subsequent reconstruction of that shrine, proved to have been providential.

Unable to find a suitable place in the suburb of Shah Abdu'l-'Azim, Mulla Ali-Akbar and his companion continued their search until, on the road leading to Chashmih-'Ali, they came upon the abandoned and dilapidated Masjid-i-Masha'u'llah, where they deposited, within one of its walls, after dark, their precious burden, having first re-wrapt the remains in a silken shroud brought by them for that purpose. Finding the next day to their consternation that the hiding-place had been discovered, they clandestinely carried the casket through the gate of the capital direct to the house of Mirza Hasan-i-Vazir, a believer and son-in-law of Haji Mirza Siyyid Aliy-i-Tafrishi, the Majdu'l-Ashraf, where it remained for no less than fourteen months. The long-guarded secret of its whereabouts becoming known to the believers, they began to visit the house in such numbers that a communication had to be addressed by Mulla Ali-Akbar to Baha'u'llah, begging for guidance in the matter. Haji Shah Muhammad-i-Manshadi, surnamed Aminu'l-Bayan, was accordingly commissioned to receive the Trust from him, and bidden to exercise the utmost secrecy as to its disposal.

Assisted by another believer, Haji Shah Muhammad buried the casket beneath the floor of the inner sanctuary of the shrine of Imam-Zadih Zayd, where it lay undetected until Mirza Asadu'llah-i-Isfahani was informed of its exact location through a chart forwarded to him by Baha'u'llah. Instructed by Baha'u'llah to conceal it elsewhere, he first removed the remains to his own house in Tihran, after which they were deposited in several other localities such as the house of Husayn-'Aliy-i-Isfahani and that of Muhammad-Karim-i-'Attar, where they remained hidden until the year 1316 (1899) A.H., when, in pursuance of directions issued by Abdu'l-Baha, this same Mirza Asadu'llah, together with a number of other believers, transported them by way of Isfahan, Kirmanshah, Baghdad and Damascus, to Beirut and thence by sea to Akka, arriving at their destination on the 19th of the month of Ramadan 1316 A.H. (January 31, 1899), fifty lunar years after the Bab's execution in Tabriz.

In the same year that this precious Trust reached the shores of the Holy Land and was delivered into the hands of Abdu'l-Baha, He, accompanied by Dr. Ibrahim Khayru'llah, whom He had already <p275> honored with the titles of "Baha's Peter," "The Second Columbus" and "Conqueror of America," drove to the recently purchased site which had been blessed and selected by Baha'u'llah on Mt. Carmel, and there laid, with His own hands, the foundation-stone of the edifice, the construction of which He, a few months later, was to commence. About that same time, the marble sarcophagus, designed to receive the body of the Bab, an offering of love from the Baha'is of Rangoon, had, at Abdu'l-Baha's suggestion, been completed and shipped to Haifa.

No need to dwell on the manifold problems and preoccupations which, for almost a decade, continued to beset Abdu'l-Baha until the victorious hour when He was able to bring to a final consummation the historic task entrusted to Him by His Father. The risks and perils with which Baha'u'llah and later His Son had been confronted in their efforts to insure, during half a century, the protection of those remains were but a prelude to the grave dangers which, at a later period, the Center of the Covenant Himself had to face in the course of the construction of the edifice designed to receive them, and indeed until the hour of His final release from His incarceration.

The long-drawn out negotiations with the shrewd and calculating owner of the building-site of the holy Edifice, who, under the influence of the Covenant-breakers, refused for a long time to sell; the exorbitant price at first demanded for the opening of a road leading to that site and indispensable to the work of construction; the interminable objections raised by officials, high and low, whose easily aroused suspicions had to be allayed by repeated explanations and assurances given by Abdu'l-Baha Himself; the dangerous situation created by the monstrous accusations brought by Mirza Muhammad-'Ali and his associates regarding the character and purpose of that building; the delays and complications caused by Abdu'l-Baha's prolonged and enforced absence from Haifa, and His consequent inability to supervise in person the vast undertaking He had initiated -- all these were among the principal obstacles which He, at so critical a period in His ministry, had to face and surmount ere He could execute in its entirety the Plan, the outline of which Baha'u'llah had communicated to Him on the occasion of one of His visits to Mt. Carmel.

"Every stone of that building, every stone of the road leading to it," He, many a time was heard to remark, "I have with infinite tears and at tremendous cost, raised and placed in position." "One night," He, according to an eye-witness, once observed, "I was so hemmed in by My anxieties that I had no other recourse than to recite and <p276> repeat over and over again a prayer of the Bab which I had in My possession, the recital of which greatly calmed Me. The next morning the owner of the plot himself came to Me, apologized and begged Me to purchase his property."

Finally, in the very year His royal adversary lost his throne, and at the time of the opening of the first American Baha'i Convention, convened in Chicago for the purpose of creating a permanent national organization for the construction of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar, Abdu'l-Baha brought His undertaking to a successful conclusion, in spite of the incessant machinations of enemies both within and without. On the 28th of the month of Safar 1327 A.H., the day of the first Naw-Ruz (1909), which He celebrated after His release from His confinement, Abdu'l-Baha had the marble sarcophagus transported with great labor to the vault prepared for it, and in the evening, by the light of a single lamp, He laid within it, with His own hands -- in the presence of believers from the East and from the West and in circumstances at once solemn and moving -- the wooden casket containing the sacred remains of the Bab and His companion.

When all was finished, and the earthly remains of the Martyr-Prophet of Shiraz were, at long last, safely deposited for their everlasting rest in the bosom of God's holy mountain, Abdu'l-Baha, Who had cast aside His turban, removed His shoes and thrown off His cloak, bent low over the still open sarcophagus, His silver hair waving about His head and His face transfigured and luminous, rested His forehead on the border of the wooden casket, and, sobbing aloud, wept with such a weeping that all those who were present wept with Him. That night He could not sleep, so overwhelmed was He with emotion.

"The most joyful tidings is this," He wrote later in a Tablet announcing to His followers the news of this glorious victory, "that the holy, the luminous body of the Bab ... after having for sixty years been transferred from place to place, by reason of the ascendancy of the enemy, and from fear of the malevolent, and having known neither rest nor tranquillity has, through the mercy of the Abha Beauty, been ceremoniously deposited, on the day of Naw-Ruz, within the sacred casket, in the exalted Shrine on Mt. Carmel... By a strange coincidence, on that same day of Naw-Ruz, a cablegram was received from Chicago, announcing that the believers in each of the American centers had elected a delegate and sent to that city ... and definitely decided on the site and construction of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar."

With the transference of the remains of the Bab -- Whose advent marks the return of the Prophet Elijah -- to Mt. Carmel, and their <p277> interment in that holy mountain, not far from the cave of that Prophet Himself, the Plan so gloriously envisaged by Baha'u'llah, in the evening of His life, had been at last executed, and the arduous labors associated with the early and tumultuous years of the ministry of the appointed Center of His Covenant crowned with immortal success. A focal center of Divine illumination and power, the very dust of which Abdu'l-Baha averred had inspired Him, yielding in sacredness to no other shrine throughout the Baha'i world except the Sepulcher of the Author of the Baha'i Revelation Himself, had been permanently established on that mountain, regarded from time immemorial as sacred. A structure, at once massive, simple and imposing; nestling in the heart of Carmel, the "Vineyard of God"; flanked by the Cave of Elijah on the west, and by the hills of Galilee on the east; backed by the plain of Sharon, and facing the silver-city of Akka, and beyond it the Most Holy Tomb, the Heart and Qiblih of the Baha'i world; overshadowing the colony of German Templars who, in anticipation of the "coming of the Lord," had forsaken their homes and foregathered at the foot of that mountain, in the very year of Baha'u'llah's Declaration in Baghdad (1863), the mausoleum of the Bab had now, with heroic effort and in impregnable strength been established as "the Spot round which the Concourse on high circle in adoration." Events have already demonstrated through the extension of the Edifice itself, through the embellishment of its surroundings, through the acquisition of extensive endowments in its neighborhood, and through its proximity to the resting-places of the wife, the son and daughter of Baha'u'llah Himself, that it was destined to acquire with the passing of the years a measure of fame and glory commensurate with the high purpose that had prompted its founding. Nor will it, as the years go by, and the institutions revolving around the World Administrative Center of the future Baha'i Commonwealth are gradually established, cease to manifest the latent potentialities with which that same immutable purpose has endowed it. Resistlessly will this Divine institution flourish and expand, however fierce the animosity which its future enemies may evince, until the full measure of its splendor will have been disclosed before the eyes of all mankind.

"Haste thee, O Carmel!" Baha'u'llah, significantly addressing that holy mountain, has written, "for lo, the light of the Countenance of God ... hath been lifted upon thee... Rejoice, for God hath, in this Day, established upon thee His throne, hath made thee the dawning-place of His signs and the dayspring of the evidences of His <p278> Revelation. Well is it with him that circleth around thee, that proclaimeth the revelation of thy glory, and recounteth that which the bounty of the Lord thy God hath showered upon thee." "Call out to Zion, O Carmel!" He, furthermore, has revealed in that same Tablet, "and announce the joyful tidings: He that was hidden from mortal eyes is come! His all-conquering sovereignty is manifest; His all-encompassing splendor is revealed. Beware lest thou hesitate or halt. Hasten forth and circumambulate the City of God that hath descended from heaven, the celestial Kaaba round which have circled in adoration the favored of God, the pure in heart, and the company of the most exalted angels." <p279>