…twin Luminaries of the Bahá’í Revelation, … 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 Báb communicated the purpose of His mission to Mullá Ḥusayn in an obscure corner of Shíráz. It acquired a tremendous momentum with the first intimations of Bahá’u’lláh’s dawning Revelation amidst the darkness of the Síyáh-Chál of Ṭihrán. It was further accelerated by the Declaration of His mission on the eve of His banishment from Baghdád. 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 ‘Akká.
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 indisputable authority, organically linked with the Author of the Revelation Himself, was clearly indispensable. That instrument Bahá’u’lláh 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 Kitáb-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 Bahá.
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 Báb’s kinsmen, pilgrims and resident believers, this unique and epoch-making Document, designated by Bahá’u’lláh as His “Most Great Tablet,” and alluded to by Him as the “Crimson Book” in His “Epistle to the Son of the Wolf,” can find no parallel in the Scriptures of any previous Dispensation, not excluding that of the Báb Himself. For nowhere in the books pertaining to any of the world’s religious systems, not even among the writings of the Author of the Bábí Revelation, do we find any single document establishing a Covenant endowed with an authority comparable to the Covenant which Bahá’u’lláh had Himself instituted.
“So firm and mighty is this Covenant,” He Who is its appointed Center 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 Anísá (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 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 Anísá” (Tree of Life) mentioned by Bahá’u’lláh 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 Abhá Kingdom,” this Covenant has been bequeathed to posterity in a Will and Testament which, together with the Kitáb-i-Aqdas and several Tablets, in which the rank and station of ‘Abdu’l Bahá 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 Aghṣan (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 Afnán (the Báb’s kindred) and His own relatives, to “turn, one and all, unto the Most Great Branch (‘Abdu’l Bahá)”; identifies Him with “the One Whom God hath purposed,” “Who hath branched from this pre-existent Root,” referred to in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas; ordains the station of the “Greater Branch” (Mírzá Muḥammad-‘Alí) to be beneath that of the “Most Great Branch” (‘Abdu’l Bahá); exhorts the believers to treat the Aghṣan with consideration and affection; counsels them to respect His family and relatives, as well as the kindred of the Báb; denies His sons “any right to the property of others”; enjoins on them, on His kindred and on that of the Báb 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.” ….
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 Baghdád, in Adrianople and in ‘Akká, He had been elevated to the high office of Center of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant, and been made the successor of the Manifestation of God Himself—a position that 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 Bahá’í Dispensation.
Chapter XV, The Rebellion Of Mírzá Muḥammad-‘Alí
…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….
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…
A crisis, almost as severe as that which had assailed the Faith in its earliest infancy in Baghdád, was to shake that Covenant to its foundations at the very moment of its inception …
The true ground of this crisis was the burning, the uncontrollable, the soul-festering jealousy which the admitted preeminence of ‘Abdu’l Bahá in rank, power, ability, knowledge and virtue, above all the other members of His Father’s family, had aroused not only in Mírzá Muḥammad-‘Alí, 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 Mírzá Yaḥyá, 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 …
And yet it was this same Mírzá Muḥammad-‘Alí who … had, in the lifetime of Bahá’u’lláh, 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 Bahá, 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 Bahá to His face that just as ‘Umar had succeeded in usurping the successorship of the Prophet Muḥammad, he, too, felt himself able to do the same. He it was who, obsessed by the fear that he might not survive ‘Abdu’l Bahá, 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 Mírzá Badí‘u’lláh in his confession, written and published on the occasion of his repentance and his short-lived reconciliation with ‘Abdu’l Bahá, had, while Bahá’u’lláh’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 Bahá. 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 Mírzá Yaḥyá, 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 Mírzá Muḥammad-‘Alí who, as attested by ‘Abdu’l Bahá 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 Shú‘á‘u’lláh (Son of Mírzá Muḥammad-‘Alí), the original of which was enclosed in that same Document by ‘Abdu’l Bahá….
The Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh had … been manifestly violated…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….
Bahá’u’lláh 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 ‘Alí (the Báb) weepeth amongst the Concourse on high, and Mine heart crieth out, and the heart of Muḥammad 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 which We have veiled from Thee. Thy Lord is, verily, the Concealer, the All-Knowing!’” More specifically Bahá’u’lláh had, referring to Mírzá Muḥammad-‘Alí 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 Mírzá Muḥammad-‘Alí 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.” ….
Persian Hidden Words #19
O MY FRIENDS! Have ye forgotten that true and radiant morn, when in those hallowed and blessed surroundings ye were all gathered in My presence beneath the shade of the tree of life, which is planted in the all-glorious paradise? Awestruck ye listened as I gave utterance to these three most holy words: O friends! Prefer not your will to Mine, never desire that which I have not desired for you, and approach Me not with lifeless hearts, defiled with worldly desires and cravings. Would ye but sanctify your souls, ye would at this present hour recall that place and those surroundings, and the truth of My utterance should be made evident unto all of you.