The Promulgation of Universal Peace
18 April 1912
Talk at Home of Mr. and Mrs. Marshall L. Emery
273 West Ninetieth Street, New York
Notes by Miss Dixon
Tonight I wish to tell you something of the history of the Bahá'í
The Blessed Perfection, Bahá'u'lláh, belonged to the nobility
of Persia. From earliest childhood He was distinguished
among His relatives and friends. They said, "This child has extraordinary
power." In wisdom, intelligence and as a source of
new knowledge, He was advanced beyond His age and superior to
His surroundings. All who knew Him were astonished at His precocity.
It was usual for them to say, "Such a child will not live,"
for it is commonly believed that precocious children do not reach
maturity. During the period of youth the Blessed Perfection did not
enter school. He was not willing to be taught. This fact is well established
among the Persians of Tihrán. Nevertheless, He was
capable of solving the difficult problems of all who came to Him.
In whatever meeting, scientific assembly or theological discussion
He was found, He became the authority of explanation upon intricate
and abstruse questions presented.
Until His father passed away, Bahá'u'lláh did not seek position
or political station notwithstanding His connection with the government.
This occasioned surprise and comment. It was frequently
said, "How is it that a young man of such keen intelligence and
subtle perception does not seek lucrative appointments? As a matter
of fact, every position is open to him." This is an historical
statement fully attested by the people of Persia.
He was most generous, giving abundantly to the poor. None
who came to Him were turned away. The doors of His house were
open to all. He always had many guests. This unbounded generosity
was conducive to greater astonishment from the fact that He
sought neither position nor prominence. In commenting upon this
His friends said He would become impoverished, for His expenses
were many and His wealth becoming more and more limited.
"Why is he not thinking of his own affairs?" they inquired of
each other; but some who were wise declared, "This personage is
connected with another world; he has something sublime within
him that is not evident now; the day is coming when it will be
manifested." In truth, the Blessed Perfection was a refuge for
every weak one, a shelter for every fearing one, kind to every indigent
one, lenient and loving to all creatures.
He became well-known in regard to these qualities before the
Báb appeared. Then Bahá'u'lláh declared the Báb's mission to be
true and promulgated His teachings. The Báb announced that the
greater Manifestation would take place after Him and called the
Promised One "Him Whom God shall make manifest," saying
that nine years later the reality of His own mission would become
apparent. In His writings He stated that in the ninth year this expected
One would be known; in the ninth year they would attain to
all glory and felicity; in the ninth year they would advance rapidly.
Between Bahá'u'lláh and the Báb there was communication privately.
The Báb wrote a letter containing three hundred and sixty
derivatives of the root Bahá. The Báb was martyred in Tabríz; and
Bahá'u'lláh, exiled into `Iráq in 1852, announced Himself in
Baghdád. For the Persian government had decided that as long as
He remained in Persia the peace of the country would be disturbed;
therefore, He was exiled in the expectation that Persia would become
quiet. His banishment, however, produced the opposite effect.
New tumult arose, and the mention of His greatness and
influence spread everywhere throughout the country. The proclamation
of His manifestation and mission was made in Baghdád. He
called His friends together there and spoke to them of God.
At one point He left the city and went alone into the mountains
of Kurdistán, where He made His abode in caves and grottoes. A
part of this time He lived in the city of Sulaymáníyyih. Two years
passed during which neither His friends nor family knew just
where He was.
Although Bahá'u'lláh was solitary, secluded and unknown in
His retirement, the report spread throughout Kurdistán that this
was a most remarkable and learned Personage, gifted with a wonderful
power of attraction. In a short time Kurdistán was magnetized
with His love. During this period Bahá'u'lláh lived in poverty.
His garments were those of the poor and needy. His food was
that of the indigent and lowly. An atmosphere of majesty haloed
Him as the sun at midday. Everywhere He was greatly revered and
After two years He returned to Baghdád. Friends He had known
in Sulaymáníyyih came to visit Him. They found Him in His accustomed
environment of ease and affluence and were astonished
at the appointments of One Who had lived in seclusion under such
frugal conditions in Kurdistán.
The Persian government believed the banishment of the Blessed
Perfection from Persia would be the extermination of His Cause in
that country. These rulers now realized that it spread more rapidly.
His prestige increased; His teachings became more widely circulated.
The chiefs of Persia then used their influence to have
Bahá'u'lláh exiled from Baghdád. He was summoned to Constantinople
by the Turkish authorities. While in Constantinople He ignored
every restriction, especially the hostility of ministers of state
and clergy. The official representatives of Persia again brought
their influence to bear upon the Turkish authorities and succeeded
in having Bahá'u'lláh banished from Constantinople to Adrianople,
the object being to keep Him as far away as possible from
Persia and render His communication with that country more
difficult. Nevertheless, the Cause still spread and strengthened.
Finally, they consulted together and said, "We have banished
Bahá'u'lláh from place to place, but each time he is exiled his
cause is more widely extended, his proclamation increases in
power, and day by day his lamp is becoming brighter. This is due to
the fact that we have exiled him to large cities and populous centers.
Therefore, we will send him to a penal colony as a prisoner
so that all may know he is the associate of murderers, robbers and
criminals; in a short time he and his followers will perish." The
Sultán of Turkey then banished Him to the prison of Akká in
When Bahá'u'lláh arrived at Akká, through the power of God
He was able to hoist His banner. His light at first had been a star;
now it became a mighty sun, and the illumination of His Cause expanded
from the East to the West. Inside prison walls He wrote
Epistles to all the kings and rulers of nations, summoning them to
arbitration and universal peace. Some of the kings received His
words with disdain and contempt. One of these was the Sultán of
the Ottoman kingdom. Napoleon III of France did not reply. A
second Epistle was addressed to him. It stated, "I have written you
an Epistle before this, summoning you to the Cause of God, but
you are of the heedless. You have proclaimed that you were the
defender of the oppressed; now it hath become evident that you are
not. Nor are you kind to your own suffering and oppressed people.
Your actions are contrary to your own interests, and your kingly
pride must fall. Because of your arrogance God shortly will destroy
your sovereignty. France will flee away from you, and you
will be overwhelmed by a great conquest. There will be lamentation
and mourning, women bemoaning the loss of their sons."
This arraignment of Napoleon III was published and spread.
Read it and consider: one prisoner, single and solitary, without
assistant or defender, a foreigner and stranger imprisoned in the
fortress of Akká, writing such letters to the Emperor of France and
Sultán of Turkey. Reflect upon this: how Bahá'u'lláh upraised the
standard of His Cause in prison. Refer to history. It is without
parallel. No such thing has happened before that time nor since--a
prisoner and an exile advancing His Cause and spreading His
teachings broadcast so that eventually He became powerful enough
to conquer the very king who banished Him.
His Cause spread more and more. The Blessed Perfection was a
prisoner twenty-five years. During all this time He was subjected
to the indignities and revilement of the people. He was persecuted,
mocked and put in chains. In Persia His properties were pillaged
and His possessions confiscated. First, there was banishment from
Persia to Baghdád, then to Constantinople, then to Adrianople,
finally from Rumelia to the prison fortress of Akká.
During His lifetime He was intensely active. His energy was
unlimited. Scarcely one night was passed in restful sleep. He bore
these ordeals, suffered these calamities and difficulties in order
that a manifestation of selflessness and service might become apparent
in the world of humanity; that the Most Great Peace should
become a reality; that human souls might appear as the angels of
heaven; that heavenly miracles would be wrought among men; that
human faith should be strengthened and perfected; that the precious,
priceless bestowal of God--the human mind--might be
developed to its fullest capacity in the temple of the body; and that
man might become the reflection and likeness of God, even as it
hath been revealed in the Bible, "Let us make man in our image."
Briefly, the Blessed Perfection bore all these ordeals and
calamities in order that our hearts might become enkindled and
radiant, our spirits be glorified, our faults become virtues, our ignorance
be transformed into knowledge; in order that we might attain
the real fruits of humanity and acquire heavenly graces; in
order that, although pilgrims upon earth, we should travel the road
of the heavenly Kingdom, and, although needy and poor, we might
receive the treasures of eternal life. For this has He borne these
difficulties and sorrows.
Trust all to God. The lights of God are resplendent. The blessed
Epistles are spreading. The blessed teachings are promulgated
throughout the East and West. Soon you will see that the heavenly
Words have established the oneness of the world of humanity. The
banner of the Most Great Peace has been unfurled, and the great
community is appearing.