The Promised Day Is Come
Words Addressed to Muslim Ecclesiastics
Let us now consider more particularly the specific references, and the
words directly addressed, to Muslim ecclesiastics by the Báb and
Bahá'u'lláh. The Báb, as attested by the Kitáb-i-Íqán, has "specifically
revealed an Epistle unto the divines of every city, wherein He hath fully
set forth the character of the denial and repudiation of each of them."
Whilst in Isfahán, that time-honored stronghold of Muslim ecclesiasticism,
He, through the medium of its governor, Manúchihr Khán,
invited in writing the divines of that city to engage in a contest with Him,
in order, as He expressed it, to "establish the truth and dissipate
falsehood." Not one of the multitude of divines who thronged that great
seat of learning had the courage to take up that challenge. Bahá'u'lláh,
on His part, while in Adrianople, and as witnessed by His own Tablet to
the Sháh of Persia, signified His wish to be "brought face to face with the
divines of the age, and produce proofs and testimonies in the presence of
His Majesty, the Sháh." This offer was denounced as a "great presumption
and amazing audacity" by the divines of Tihrán, who, in their fear,
advised their sovereign to instantly punish the bearer of that Tablet.
Previously, while Bahá'u'lláh was in Baghdád, He expressed His willingness
that, provided the divines of Najaf and Kárbilá--the twin holiest
cities next to Mecca and Medina, in the eyes of the Shí'ihs--assembled
and agreed regarding any miracle they wished to be performed, and
signed and sealed a statement affirming that on performance of this
miracle they would acknowledge the truth of His Mission, He would
unhesitatingly produce it. To this challenge they, as recorded by
`Abdu'l-Bahá in His "Some Answered Questions," could offer no better
reply than this: "This man is an enchanter; perhaps he will perform an
enchantment, and then we shall have nothing more to say." "For twelve
years," Bahá'u'lláh Himself has testified, "We tarried in Baghdád.
Much as We desired that a large gathering of divines and fair-minded
men be convened, so that truth might be distinguished from falsehood,
and be fully demonstrated, no action was taken." And again: "And
likewise, while in `Iráq, We wished to come together with the divines of
Persia. No sooner did they hear of this, than they fled and said: `He
indeed is a manifest sorcerer!' This is the word that proceeded aforetime
out of the mouths of such as were like them. These [divines] objected to
what they said, and yet, they themselves repeat, in this day, what was
said before them, and understand not. By My life! They are even as ashes
in the sight of thy Lord. If He be willing, tempestuous gales will blow over
them, and make them as dust. Thy Lord, verily, doth what He pleaseth."
These false, these cruel and cowardly Shí'ih clericals, who, as
Bahá'u'lláh declared, had they not intervened, Persia would have been
subdued by the power of God in hardly more than two years, have been
thus addressed in the Qayyúm-i-Asmá: "O concourse of divines! Fear
God from this day onwards in the views ye advance, for He Who is Our
Remembrance in your midst, and Who cometh from Us, is, in very truth,
the Judge and Witness. Turn away from that which ye lay hold of, and
which the Book of God, the True One, hath not sanctioned, for on the
Day of Resurrection ye shall, upon the Bridge, be, in very truth, held
answerable for the position ye occupied."
In that same Book the Báb thus addresses the Shí'ihs, as well as the
entire body of the followers of the Prophet: "O concourse of Shí'ihs! Fear
ye God, and Our Cause, which concerneth Him Who is the Most Great
Remembrance of God. For great is its fire, as decreed in the Mother-Book."
"O people of the Qur'án! Ye are as nothing unless ye submit unto
the Remembrance of God and unto this Book. If ye follow the Cause of
God, We will forgive you your sins, and if ye turn aside from Our
command, We will, in truth, condemn your souls in Our Book, unto the
Most Great Fire. We, verily, do not deal unjustly with men, even to the
extent of a speck on a date stone."
And finally, in that same Commentary, this startling prophecy is
recorded: "Erelong We will, in very truth, torment such as waged war
against Husayn [Imám Husayn], in the Land of the Euphrates, with the
most afflictive torment, and the most dire and exemplary punishment."
"Erelong," He also, referring to that same people, in that same Book,
has written, "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."
As to Bahá'u'lláh, the passages I cite in these pages constitute but a
fraction of the references to the Muslim divines with which His writings
abound. "The Lote-Tree beyond Which there is no passing," He exclaims,
"crieth out, by reason of the cruelty of the divines. It shouteth
aloud, and bewaileth itself." "From the inception of this sect [Shí'ih],"
He, in His "Epistle to the Son of the Wolf," has written, "until the
present day, how great hath been the number of the divines that have
appeared, none of whom became cognizant of the nature of this Revelation.
What could have been the cause of this waywardness? Were We to
mention it, their limbs would cleave asunder. It is necessary for them to
meditate, nay to meditate for a thousand thousand years, that haply they
may attain unto a sprinkling from the ocean of knowledge, and discover
the things whereof they are oblivious in this day. I was walking in the
Land of Tá [Tihrán]--the dayspring of the signs of thy Lord--when lo, I
heard the lamentation of the pulpits and the voice of their supplication
unto God, blessed and glorified be He! They cried out and said: `O God of
the world and Lord of the nations! Thou beholdest our state and the
things which have befallen us, by reason of the cruelty of Thy servants.
Thou hast created us and revealed us for Thy glorification and praise.
Thou dost now hear what the wayward proclaim upon us in Thy days. By
Thy might! Our souls are melted, and our limbs are trembling. Alas,
alas! Would that we had never been created and revealed by Thee!' The
hearts of them that enjoy near access to God are consumed by these words,
and from them the cries of such as are devoted to Him are raised."
"These thick clouds," He, in that same Epistle, has stated, "are the
exponents of idle fancies and vain imaginings, who are none other than
the divines of Persia." "By `divines' in the passage cited above," He, in
that same connection, explains, "is meant those men who outwardly
attire themselves with the raiment of knowledge, but who inwardly are
deprived therefrom. In this connection We quote, from the Tablet addressed
to His Majesty the Sháh, certain passages from the `Hidden
Words' which were revealed by the Abhá Pen under the name of the `Book
of Fátimih,' the blessings of God be upon her! `O ye that are foolish, yet
have a name to be wise! Wherefore do ye wear the guise of the shepherd,
when inwardly ye have become wolves, intent upon My flock? Ye are even
as the star, which riseth ere the dawn, and which, though it seem radiant
and luminous, leadeth the wayfarers of My city astray into the paths of
perdition.' And likewise He saith: `O ye seemingly fair yet inwardly foul!
Ye are like clear but bitter water, which to outward seeming is but crystal
pure but of which, when tested by the Divine Assayer, not a drop is
accepted. Yea, the sunbeam falleth alike upon the dust and the mirror,
yet differ they in reflection even as doth the star from the earth: nay,
immeasurable is the difference!'"
"We have invited all men," Bahá'u'lláh, in another Tablet, has
stated, "to turn towards God, and have acquainted them with the
Straight Path. They [divines] rose up against Us with such cruelty as
hath sapped the strength of Islám, and yet most of the people are
heedless!" "The children of Him Who is the Friend of God [Abraham],"
He moreover has written, "and heirs of the One Who discoursed with
God [Moses], who were accounted the most abject of men, have split the
veils asunder, and rent the coverings, and seized the Sealed Wine from
the hands of the bounty of Him Who is the Self-Subsisting, and drunk
their fill, whilst the detestable Shí'ih divines have remained, until the
present time, hesitant and perverse." And again: "The divines of Persia
committed that which no people amongst the peoples of the world have
"If this Cause be of God," He thus addresses the Minister of the Sháh
in Constantinople, "no man can prevail against it; and if it be not of
God, the divines amongst you, and they that follow their corrupt desires,
and such as have rebelled against Him, will surely suffice to overpower
"Of all the peoples of the world," He, in another Tablet, observes,
"they that have suffered the greatest loss have been, and are still, the
people of Persia. I swear by the Daystar of Utterance which shineth upon
the world in its meridian glory! The lamentations of the pulpits, in that
country, are being raised continually. In the early days such lamentations
were heard in the Land of Tá [Tihrán], for pulpits, erected for the
purpose of remembering the True One--exalted be His glory--have now,
in Persia, become places wherefrom blasphemies are uttered against Him
Who is the Desire of the worlds."
"In this day," is His caustic denunciation, "the world is redolent with
the fragrances of the robe of the Revelation of the Ancient King ... and
yet, they [divines] have gathered together, and established themselves
upon their seats, and have spoken that which would put an animal to
shame, how much more man himself! Were they to become aware of one
of their acts, and perceive the mischief it hath wrought, they would, with
their own hands, dispatch themselves to their final abode."
"O concourse of divines!" Bahá'u'lláh thus commands them, "...Lay
aside that which ye possess, and hold your peace, and give ear, then, unto
that which the Tongue of Grandeur and Majesty speaketh. How many
the veiled handmaidens who turned unto Me, and believed, and how
numerous the wearers of the turban who were debarred from Me, and
followed in the footsteps of bygone generations!"
"I swear by the Daystar that shineth above the Horizon of Utterance!"
He asserts, "A paring from the nail of one of the believing handmaidens
is, in this day, more esteemed, in the sight of God, than the divines of
Persia, who, after thirteen hundred years' waiting, have perpetrated
what the Jews have not perpetrated during the Revelation of Him Who is
the Spirit [Jesus]." "Though they rejoice," is His warning, "at the
adversities that have touched Us, the day will come whereon they shall
wail and weep."
"O heedless one!" He thus addresses, in the Lawh-i-Burhán, a notorious
Persian mujtahid, whose hands were stained with the blood of
Bahá'í martyrs, "rely not on thy glory and thy power. Thou art even as the
last trace of sunlight upon the mountaintop. Soon will it fade away, as
decreed by God, the All-Possessing, the Most High. Thy glory, and the
glory of such as are like thee, have been taken away, and this, verily, is
what hath been ordained by the One with Whom is the Mother Tablet.
...Because of you the Apostle [Muhammad] lamented, and the Chaste
One [Fátimih] cried out, and the countries were laid waste, and darkness
fell upon all regions. O concourse of divines! Because of you the people
were abased, and the banner of Islám was hauled down, and its mighty
throne subverted. Every time a man of discernment hath sought to hold
fast unto that which would exalt Islám, you raised a clamor, and thereby
was he deterred from achieving his purpose, while the land remained
fallen in clear ruin."
"Say: O concourse of Persian divines!" Bahá'u'lláh again prophesies,
"In My name ye have seized the reins of men, and occupy the seats of
honor, by reason of your relation to Me. When I revealed Myself,
however, ye turned aside, and committed what hath caused the tears of
such as have recognized Me to flow. 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, as decreed by
God, the Ordainer, the All-Wise."
In the Súriy-i-Mulúk, addressing the entire company of the ecclesiastical
leaders of Sunní Islám in Constantinople, the capital of the Empire
and seat of the Caliphate, He has written: "O ye divines of the City! We
came to you with the truth, whilst ye were heedless of it. Methinks ye are
as dead, wrapt in the coverings of your own selves. Ye sought not Our
presence, when so to do would have been better for you than all your
doings.... Know ye, that had your leaders, to whom ye owe allegiance,
and on whom ye pride yourselves, and whom ye mention by day and by
night, and from whose traces ye seek guidance--had they lived in these
days, they would have circled around Me, and would not have separated
themselves from Me, whether at eventide or at morn. Ye, however, did
not turn your faces towards My face, for even less than a moment, and
waxed proud, and were careless of this Wronged One, Who hath been so
afflicted by men that they dealt with Him as they pleased. Ye failed to
inquire about My condition, nor did ye inform yourselves of the things
which befell Me. Thereby have ye withheld from yourselves the winds of
holiness, and the breezes of bounty, that blow from this luminous and
perspicuous Spot. Methinks ye have clung to outward things, and
forgotten the inner things, and say that which ye do not. Ye are lovers of
names, and appear to have given yourselves up to them. For this reason
make ye mention of the names of your leaders. And should anyone like
them, or superior unto them, come unto you, ye would flee him. Through
their names ye have exalted yourselves, and have secured your positions,
and live and prosper. And were your leaders to reappear, ye would not
renounce your leadership, nor would ye turn in their direction, nor set
your faces towards them. We found you, as We found most men,
worshiping names which they mention during the days of their life, and
with which they occupy themselves. No sooner do the Bearers of these
names appear, however, than they repudiate them, and turn upon their
heels.... Know ye that God will not, in this day, accept your thoughts,
nor your remembrance of Him, nor your turning towards Him, nor your
devotions, nor your vigilance, unless ye be made new in the estimation of
this Servant, could be but perceive it."
The voice of `Abdu'l-Bahá, the Center of the Covenant of God, has,
likewise, been raised, announcing the dire misfortunes which were to
overtake, soon after His passing, the ecclesiastical hierarchies of both
Sunní and Shí'ih Islám. "This glory," He has written, "shall be turned
into the most abject abasement, and this pomp and might converted into
the most complete subjugation. Their palaces will be transformed into
prisons, and the course of their ascendant star terminate in the depths of
the pit. Laughter and merriment will vanish, nay more, the voice of their
weeping will be raised." "Even as the snow," He moreover has written,
"they will melt away in the July sun."
The dissolution of the institution of the Caliphate, the complete
secularization of the state which had enshrined the most august institution
of Islám, and the virtual collapse of the Shí'ih hierarchy in Persia,
were the visible and immediate consequences of the treatment meted
out to the Cause of God by the clergy of the two largest communions of
the Muslim world.