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The Promised Day Is Come

  • Author:
  • Shoghi Effendi

  • Source:
  • US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1980 revised edition
  • Pages:
  • 124
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Pages 44-49

God’s Vicar on Earth

Dear friends! How vast a panorama these gemlike, these soul-searching divinely uttered pronouncements outspread before our eyes! What memories they evoke! How sublime the principles they inculcate! What hopes they engender! What apprehensions they excite! And yet how fragmentary must these above-quoted words, suited as they are to the immediate purpose of my theme, appear when compared with the torrential majesty which only the reading of the full text can disclose! He Who was God’s Vicar on earth, addressing, at the most critical moment when His Revelation was attaining its zenith, those who concentrated in their persons the splendor, the sovereignty, and the strength of earthly dominion, could certainly not subtract one jot or tittle from the weight and force which the presentation of so historic a Message demanded. Neither the perils which were fast closing in upon Him, nor the formidable power with which the doctrine of absolute sovereignty invested, at that time, the emperors of the West and the potentates of the East, could restrain the Exile and Prisoner of Adrianople from communicating the full blast of His Message to His twin imperial persecutors as well as to the rest of their fellow-sovereigns.
The magnitude and diversity of the theme, the cogency of the argument, the sublimity and audacity of the language, arrest our attention and astound our minds. Emperors, kings and princes, chancellors and ministers, the Pope himself, priests, monks and philosophers, the exponents of learning, parliamentarians and deputies, the rich ones of the earth, the followers of all religions, and the people of Bahá—all are 45 brought within the purview of the Author of these Messages, and receive, each according to their merits, the counsels and admonitions they deserve. No less amazing is the diversity of the subjects touched upon in these Tablets. The transcendent majesty and unity of an unknowable and unapproachable God is extolled, and the oneness of His Messengers proclaimed and emphasized. The uniqueness, the universality and potentialities of the Bahá’í Faith are stressed, and the purpose and character of the Bábí Revelation unfolded. The significance of Bahá’u’lláh’s sufferings and banishments is disclosed, and the tribulations rained down upon His Herald and upon His Namesake recognized and lamented. His own yearning for the crown of martyrdom, which they both so mysteriously won, is voiced, and the ineffable glories and wonders in store for His own Dispensation foreshadowed. Episodes, at once moving and marvelous, at various stages of His ministry, are recounted, and the transitoriness of worldly pomp, fame, riches, and sovereignty, repeatedly and categorically asserted. Appeals for the application of the highest principles in human and international relations are forcibly and insistently made, and the abandonment of discreditable practices and conventions, detrimental to the happiness, the growth, the prosperity and the unity of the human race, enjoined. Kings are censured, ecclesiastical dignitaries arraigned, ministers and plenipotentiaries condemned, and the identification of His advent with the coming of the Father Himself unequivocally admitted and repeatedly announced. The violent downfall of a few of these kings and emperors is prophesied, two of them are definitely challenged, most are warned, all are appealed to and exhorted.
In the Lawḥ-i-Sulṭán (Tablet to the Sháh of Persia) Bahá’u’lláh declares: “Would that the world-adorning wish of His Majesty might decree that this Servant 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 Servant is ready, and taketh hope in God, that such a gathering may be convened in order that the truth of the matter may be made clear and manifest before His Majesty the Sháh. It is then for thee to command, and I stand ready before the throne of thy sovereignty. Decide, then, for Me or against Me.”
And moreover, in the Lawḥ-i-Ra’ís, Bahá’u’lláh, recalling His conversation with the Turkish officer charged with the task of enforcing His banishment to the fortress-town of ‘Akká, has written: “There is a matter, 46 which, if thou findest it possible, I request thee to submit to His Majesty the Sulṭán, that for ten minutes this Youth be enabled to meet him, so that he may demand whatsoever he deemeth as a sufficient testimony and regardeth as proof of the veracity of Him Who is the Truth. Should God enable Him to produce it, let him, then, release these wronged ones, and leave them to themselves.” “He promised,” Bahá’u’lláh adds in that Tablet, “to transmit this message, and to give Us his reply. We received, however, no news from him. Although it becometh not Him Who is the Truth to present Himself before any person, inasmuch as all have been created to obey Him, yet in view of the condition of these little children and the large number of women so far removed from their friends and countries, We have acquiesced in this matter. In spite of this nothing hath resulted. Umar himself is alive and accessible. Inquire from him, that the truth may be made known unto you.”
Referring to these Tablets addressed to the sovereigns of the earth, and which ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has acclaimed as a “miracle,” Bahá’u’lláh has written: “Each one of them 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 their 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…. Never since the beginning of the world hath the Message been so openly proclaimed…. Glorified be this Power which hath shone forth and compassed the worlds! This act of the Causer of Causes hath, when revealed, produced two results. It hath at once sharpened the swords of the infidels, and unloosed the tongues of such as have turned towards Him in His remembrance and praise. This is the effect of the fertilizing winds, mention of which hath been made aforetime in the Lawḥ-i-Haykal. The whole earth is now in a state of pregnancy. 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. Immeasurably exalted is the breeze that wafteth from the garment of thy Lord, the Glorified! For lo, it hath breathed its fragrance and made all things new! Well it is with them that comprehend. It is indubitably clear and evident that in these things He Who 47 is the Lord of Revelation hath sought nothing for Himself. Though aware that they would lead to tribulations, and be the cause of troubles and afflictive trials, He, solely as a token of His loving-kindness and favor, and for the purpose of quickening the dead and of manifesting the Cause of the Lord of all Names and Attributes, and of redeeming all who are on earth, hath closed His eyes to His own well-being and borne that which no other person hath borne or will bear.”
The most important of His Tablets addressed to individual sovereigns Bahá’u’lláh ordered to be written in the form of a pentacle, symbolizing the temple of man, including therein, as a conclusion, the following words which reveal the importance He attached to those Messages, and indicate their direct association with the prophecy of the Old Testament: “Thus have We built the Temple with the hands of power and might, could ye but know it. This is the Temple promised unto you in the Book. Draw ye nigh unto it. This is that which profiteth you, could ye but comprehend it. Be fair, O peoples of the earth! Which is preferable, this, or a temple which is built of clay? Set your faces towards it. Thus have ye been commanded by God, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting. Follow ye His bidding, and praise ye God, your Lord, for that which He hath bestowed upon you. He, verily, is the Truth. No God is there but He. He revealeth what He pleaseth, through His words ‘Be and it is.’”
Referring to this same subject, He, in one of His Tablets, thus addresses the followers of Jesus Christ: “O concourse of the followers of the Son! Verily, the Temple hath been built with the hands of the will of your Lord, the Almighty, the All-Bounteous. Bear, then, witness, O people, unto that which I say: Which is preferable, that which is built of clay, or that which is built by the hands of your Lord, the Revealer of verses? This is the Temple promised unto you in the Tablets. It calleth aloud: ‘O followers of religions! Haste ye to attain unto Him Who is the Source of all causes, and follow not every infidel and doubter.’”
It should not be forgotten that, apart from these specific Tablets in which the kings of the earth are severally and collectively addressed, Bahá’u’lláh has revealed other Tablets—the Lawḥ-i-Ra’ís being an outstanding example—and interspersed the mass of His voluminous writings with unnumbered passages, in which direct addresses, as well as references, have been made to ministers, governments, and their accredited representatives. I am not concerned, however, with such addresses and references, which, vital as they are, cannot be regarded as 48 being endowed with that peculiar pregnancy which direct and specific messages, voiced by the Manifestation of God and directed to the world’s Chief Magistrates in His day, must possess.
Dear friends! Enough has been said to portray the tribulations which, for so long a time, overwhelmed the Founders of so preeminent a Revelation, and which the world has so disastrously ignored. Sufficient attention has also been directed to the Messages addressed to those sovereign rulers who, either in the exercise of their unconditioned authority, have deliberately provoked these sufferings, or could have, in the plenitude of their power, arisen to mitigate their effect or deflect their tragic course. Let us now consider the consequences that have ensued. The reaction of these monarchs was, as already stated, varied and unmistakable and, as the march of events has gradually unfolded, disastrous in its consequences. One of the most outstanding amongst these sovereigns treated the Divine Summons with gross disrespect, dismissing it with a curt and insolent reply, written by one of his ministers. Another laid violent hold on the bearer of the Message, tortured, branded, and brutally slew him. Others preferred to maintain a contemptuous silence. All failed completely in their duty to arise and extend their assistance. Two of them, in particular, prompted by the dual impulse of fear and anger, tightened their grip on the Cause they had jointly resolved to uproot. The one condemned his Divine Prisoner to yet another banishment, to “the most unsightly of cities in appearance, the most detestable in climate, and the foulest in water,” whilst the other, powerless to lay hands on the Prime Mover of a hated Faith, subjected its adherents under his sway to abject and savage cruelties. The recital of Bahá’u’lláh’s sufferings, embodied in those Messages, failed to evoke compassion in their hearts. His appeals, the like of which neither the annals of Christianity nor even those of Islám have recorded, were disdainfully rejected. The dark warnings He uttered were haughtily scorned. The bold challenges He issued were ignored. The chastisements He predicted they derisively brushed aside.
What, then—might we not consider—has, in the face of so complete and ignominious a rejection, happened, and is still happening, in the course, and particularly in the closing years, of this, the first Bahá’í century, a century fraught with such tumultuous sufferings and violent outrages for the persecuted Faith of Bahá’u’lláh? Empires fallen in dust, kingdoms subverted, dynasties extinguished, royalty besmirched, kings 49 assassinated, poisoned, driven into exile, subjugated in their own realms, whilst the few remaining thrones are trembling with the repercussions of the fall of their fellows.
This process, so gigantic, so catastrophic, may be said to have had its inception on that memorable night when, in an obscure corner of Shíráz, the Báb, in the presence of the First Letter to believe in Him, revealed the first chapter of His celebrated commentary on the Súrih of Joseph (The Qayyúm-i-Asmá), in which He trumpeted His Call to the sovereigns and princes of the earth. It passed from incubation to visible manifestation when Bahá’u’lláh’s prophecies, enshrined for all time in the Súriy-i-Haykal, and uttered before Napoleon III’s dramatic downfall and the self-imposed imprisonment of Pope Pius IX in the Vatican, were fulfilled. It gathered momentum when, in the days of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the Great War extinguished the Romanov, the Hohenzollern, and Hapsburg dynasties, and converted powerful time-honored monarchies into republics. It was further accelerated, soon after ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s passing, by the demise of the effete Qájár dynasty in Persia, and the stupendous collapse of both the Sultanate and the Caliphate. It is still operating, under our very eyes, as we behold the fate which, in the course of this colossal and ravaging struggle, is successively overtaking the crowned heads of the European continent. Surely, no man, contemplating dispassionately the manifestations of this relentless revolutionizing process, within comparatively so short a time, can escape the conclusion that the last hundred years may well be regarded, in so far as the fortunes of royalty are concerned, as one of the most cataclysmic periods in the annals of mankind.