Bahá'u'lláh -- Writings on God, His Manifestations And Man
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God witnesseth that there is no God but Him,
the Gracious, the Best-Beloved. All grace and bounty are His. To
whomsoever He will He giveth whatsoever is His wish. He, verily, is
the All-Powerful, the Almighty, the Help in Peril, the
Self-Subsisting. We, verily, believe in Him Who, in the person of the
Báb, hath been sent down by the Will of the one true God, the King of
Kings, the All-Praised. We, moreover, swear fealty to the One Who, in
the time of Mustaghath, is destined to be made manifest, as well as to
those Who shall come after Him till the end that hath no end. We
recognize in the manifestation of each one of them, whether outwardly
or inwardly, the manifestation of none but God Himself, if ye be of
those that comprehend. Every one of them is a mirror of God,
reflecting naught else but His Self, His Beauty, His Might and Glory,
if ye will understand. All else besides them are to be regarded as
mirrors capable of reflecting the glory of these Manifestations Who
are themselves the Primary Mirrors of the Divine Being, if ye be not
devoid of understanding. No one hath ever escaped them, neither are
they to be hindered from achieving their purpose. These Mirrors will
everlastingly succeed each other, and will continue to reflect the
light of the Ancient of Days. They that reflect their glory will, in
like manner, continue to exist for evermore, for the Grace of God can
never cease from flowing. This is a truth that none can disprove.11
Contemplate with thine inward eye the chain of
successive Revelations that hath linked the Manifestation of Adam with
that of the Báb. I testify before God that each one of these
Manifestations hath been sent down through the operation of the Divine
Will and Purpose, that each hath been the bearer of a specific
Message, that each hath been entrusted with a divinely-revealed Book
and been commissioned to unravel the mysteries of a mighty Tablet. The
measure of the Revelation with which every one of them hath been
identified had been definitely fore-ordained. This, verily, is a token
of Our favor unto them, if ye be of those that comprehend this
truth.... And when this process of progressive Revelation culminated
in the stage at which His peerless, His most sacred, and exalted
Countenance was to be unveiled to men's eyes, He chose to hide His own
Self behind a thousand veils, lest profane and mortal eyes discover
His glory. This He did at a time when the signs and tokens of a
divinely-appointed Revelation were being showered upon Him -- signs
and tokens which none can reckon except the Lord, your God, the Lord
of all worlds. And when the set time of concealment was fulfilled, We
sent forth, whilst still wrapt within a myriad veils, an infinitesimal
glimmer of the effulgent Glory enveloping the Face of the Youth, and
lo, the entire company of the dwellers of the Realms above were seized
with violent commotion and the favored of God fell down in adoration
before Him. He hath, verily, manifested a glory such as none in the
whole creation hath witnessed, inasmuch as He hath arisen to proclaim
in person His Cause unto all who are in the heavens and all who are on
That which thou hast heard concerning Abraham, the Friend of the All-Merciful, is the truth, and no doubt is there about it. The Voice of God commanded Him to offer up Ishmael as a sacrifice, so that His steadfastness in the Faith of God and His detachment from all else but Him may be demonstrated unto men. The purpose of God, moreover, was to sacrifice him as a ransom for the sins and iniquities of all the peoples of the earth. This same honor, Jesus, the Son of Mary, besought the one true God, exalted be His name and glory, to confer upon Him. For the same reason was Husayn offered up as a sacrifice by Muhammad, the Apostle of God.
No man can ever claim to have comprehended the nature of the hidden and manifold grace of God; none can fathom His all-embracing mercy. Such hath been the perversity of men and their transgressions, so grievous have been the trials that have afflicted the Prophets of God and their chosen ones, that all mankind deserveth to be tormented and to perish. God's hidden and most loving providence, however, hath, through both visible and invisible agencies, protected and will continue to protect it from the penalty of its wickedness. Ponder this in thine heart, that the truth may be revealed unto thee, and be thou steadfast in His path.13
It hath been decreed by Us that the Word of God and all the potentialities thereof shall be manifested unto men in strict conformity with such conditions as have been foreordained by Him Who is the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. We have, moreover, ordained that its veil of concealment be none other except its own Self. Such indeed is Our Power to achieve Our Purpose. Should the Word be allowed to release suddenly all the energies latent within it, no man could sustain the weight of so mighty a Revelation. Nay, all that is in heaven and on earth would flee in consternation before it.
Consider that which hath been sent down unto
Muhammad, the Apostle of God. The measure of the Revelation of which
He was the bearer had been clearly foreordained by Him Who is the
Almighty, the All-Powerful. They that heard Him, however, could
apprehend His purpose only to the extent of their station and
spiritual capacity. He, in like manner, uncovered the Face of Wisdom
in proportion to their ability to sustain the burden of His Message.
No sooner had mankind attained the stage of maturity, than the Word
revealed to men's eyes the latent energies with which it had been
endowed -- energies which manifested themselves in the plenitude of
their glory when the Ancient Beauty appeared, in the year sixty, in
the person of 'Ali-Muhammad, the Báb.14
All praise and glory be to God Who, through the power of His might, hath delivered His creation from the nakedness of non-existence, and clothed it with the mantle of life. From among all created things He hath singled out for His special favor the pure, the gem-like reality of man, and invested it with a unique capacity of knowing Him and of reflecting the greatness of His glory. This twofold distinction conferred upon him hath cleansed away from his heart the rust of every vain desire, and made him worthy of the vesture with which his Creator hath deigned to clothe him. It hath served to rescue his soul from the wretchedness of ignorance.
This robe with which the body and soul of man hath been adorned is the very foundation of his well-being and development. Oh, how blessed the day when, aided by the grace and might of the one true God, man will have freed himself from the bondage and corruption of the world and all that is therein, and will have attained unto true and abiding rest beneath the shadow of the Tree of Knowledge!
The songs which the bird of thine heart had uttered in its great love for its friends have reached their ears, and moved Me to answer thy questions, and reveal to thee such secrets as I am allowed to unfold. In thine esteemed letter thou hadst inquired which of the Prophets of God should be regarded as superior to others. Know thou assuredly that the essence of all the Prophets of God is one and the same. Their unity is absolute. God, the Creator, saith: There is no distinction whatsoever among the Bearers of My Message. They all have but one purpose; their secret is the same secret. To prefer one in honor to another, to exalt certain ones above the rest, is in no wise to be permitted. Every true Prophet hath regarded His Message as fundamentally the same as the Revelation of every other Prophet gone before Him. If any man, therefore, should fail to comprehend this truth, and should consequently indulge in vain and unseemly language, no one whose sight is keen and whose understanding is enlightened would ever allow such idle talk to cause him to waver in his belief.
The measure of the revelation of the Prophets of God in this world, however, must differ. Each and every one of them hath been the Bearer of a distinct Message, and hath been commissioned to reveal Himself through specific acts. It is for this reason that they appear to vary in their greatness. Their Revelation may be likened unto the light of the moon that sheddeth its radiance upon the earth. Though every time it appeareth, it revealeth a fresh measure of its brightness, yet its inherent splendor can never diminish, nor can its light suffer extinction.
It is clear and evident, therefore, that any apparent variation in the intensity of their light is not inherent in the light itself, but should rather be attributed to the varying receptivity of an ever-changing world. Every Prophet Whom the Almighty and Peerless Creator hath purposed to send to the peoples of the earth hath been entrusted with a Message, and charged to act in a manner that would best meet the requirements of the age in which He appeared. God's purpose in sending His Prophets unto men is twofold. The first is to liberate the children of men from the darkness of ignorance, and guide them to the light of true understanding. The second is to ensure the peace and tranquillity of mankind, and provide all the means by which they can be established.
The Prophets of God should be regarded as physicians whose task is to foster the well-being of the world and its peoples, that, through the spirit of oneness, they may heal the sickness of a divided humanity. To none is given the right to question their words or disparage their conduct, for they are the only ones who can claim to have understood the patient and to have correctly diagnosed its ailments. No man, however acute his perception, can ever hope to reach the heights which the wisdom and understanding of the Divine Physician have attained. Little wonder, then, if the treatment prescribed by the physician in this day should not be found to be identical with that which he prescribed before. How could it be otherwise when the ills affecting the sufferer necessitate at every stage of his sickness a special remedy? In like manner, every time the Prophets of God have illumined the world with the resplendent radiance of the Day Star of Divine knowledge, they have invariably summoned its peoples to embrace the light of God through such means as best befitted the exigencies of the age in which they appeared. They were thus able to scatter the darkness of ignorance, and to shed upon the world the glory of their own knowledge. It is towards the inmost essence of these Prophets, therefore, that the eye of every man of discernment must be directed, inasmuch as their one and only purpose hath always been to guide the erring, and give peace to the afflicted.... These are not days of prosperity and triumph. The whole of mankind is in the grip of manifold ills. Strive, therefore, to save its life through the wholesome medicine which the almighty hand of the unerring Physician hath prepared.
And now concerning thy question regarding the nature of religion. Know thou that they who are truly wise have likened the world unto the human temple. As the body of man needeth a garment to clothe it, so the body of mankind must needs be adorned with the mantle of justice and wisdom. Its robe is the Revelation vouchsafed unto it by God. Whenever this robe hath fulfilled its purpose, the Almighty will assuredly renew it. For every age requireth a fresh measure of the light of God. Every Divine Revelation hath been sent down in a manner that befitted the circumstances of the age in which it hath appeared.
As to thy question regarding the sayings of the leaders of past religions. Every wise and praiseworthy man will no doubt eschew such vain and profitless talk. The incomparable Creator hath created all men from one same substance, and hath exalted their reality above the rest of His creatures. Success or failure, gain or loss, must, therefore, depend upon man's own exertions. The more he striveth, the greater will be his progress. We fain would hope that the vernal showers of the bounty of God may cause the flowers of true understanding to spring from the soil of men's hearts, and may wash them from all earthly defilements.15
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11. Gleanings from the Writings of
Bahá'u'lláh, (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1983), XXX, pp.
12. ibid. XXXI, pp. 74-75.
13. ibid. XXXII, pp. 75-76.
14. ibid. XXXIII, pp. 76-77.
15. ibid. XXXIV, pp. 77-82.