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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 71-74

Recognition of Kingship

Let none, however, mistake or unwittingly misrepresent the purpose of Bahá’u’lláh. Severe as has been His condemnation pronounced against those sovereigns who persecuted Him, and however strict the censure expressed collectively against those who failed signally in their clear duty to investigate the truth of His Faith and to restrain the hand of the wrongdoer, His teachings embody no principle that can, in any way, be construed as a repudiation, or even a disparagement, however veiled, of the institution of kingship. The catastrophic fall, and the extinction of the dynasties and empires of those monarchs whose disastrous end He particularly prophesied, and the declining fortunes of the sovereigns of His Own generation, whom He generally reproved—both constituting a passing phase of the evolution of the Faith—should, in no wise, be confounded with the future position of that institution. Indeed if we delve into the writings of the Author of the Bahá’í Faith, we cannot fail to discover unnumbered passages in which, in terms that none can misrepresent, the principle of kingship is eulogized, the rank and conduct of just and fair-minded kings is extolled, the rise of monarchs, ruling with justice and even professing His Faith, is envisaged, and the solemn duty to arise and ensure the triumph of Bahá’í sovereigns is inculcated. To conclude from the above quoted words, addressed by Bahá’u’lláh to the monarchs of the earth, to infer from the recital of the woeful disasters that have overtaken so many of them, that His followers 72 either advocate or anticipate the definite extinction of the institution of kingship, would indeed be tantamount to a distortion of His teaching.
I can do no better than quote some of Bahá’u’lláh’s Own testimonies, leaving the reader to shape his own judgment as to the falsity of such a deduction. In His “Epistle to the Son of the Wolf” He indicates the true source of kingship: “Regard for the rank of sovereigns is divinely ordained, as is clearly attested by the words of the Prophets of God and His chosen ones. He Who is the Spirit [Jesus]—may peace be upon Him—was asked: ‘O Spirit of God! Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?’ And He made reply: ‘Yea, render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ He forbade it not. These two sayings are, in the estimation of men of insight, one and the same, for if that which belonged to Caesar had not come from God He would have forbidden it. And likewise in the sacred verse: ‘Obey God and obey the Apostle, and those among you invested with authority.’ By ‘those invested with authority’ is meant primarily and more specially the Imáms—the blessings of God rest upon them. They verily are the manifestations of the power of God and the sources of His authority, and the repositories of His knowledge, and the daysprings of His commandments. Secondarily these words refer unto the kings and rulers—those through the brightness of whose justice the horizons of the world are resplendent and luminous.”
And again: “In the Epistle to the Romans Saint Paul hath written: ‘Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever, therefore, resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God.’ And further: ‘For he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.’ He saith that the appearance of the kings, and their majesty and power, are of God.”
And again: “A just king enjoyeth nearer access unto God than anyone. Unto this testifieth He Who speaketh in His Most Great Prison.”
Likewise in the Bishárát (Glad-Tidings) Bahá’u’lláh asserts that “the majesty of kingship is one of the signs of God.” “We do not wish,” He adds, “that the countries of the world should be deprived thereof.”
In the Kitáb-i-Aqdas He sets forth His purpose, and eulogizes the king who will profess His Faith: “By the Righteousness of God! It is not Our wish to lay hands on your kingdoms. Our mission is to seize and possess the hearts of men. Upon them the eyes of Bahá are fastened. To this 73 testifieth the Kingdom of Names, could ye but comprehend it. Whoso followeth his Lord, will renounce the world and all that is therein; how much greater, then, must be the detachment of Him Who holdeth so august a station!” “How great the blessedness that awaiteth the king who will arise to aid My Cause in My Kingdom, who will detach himself from all else but Me! Such a king is numbered with the Companions of the Crimson Ark—the Ark which God hath prepared for the people of Bahá. All must glorify his name, must reverence his station, and aid him to unlock the cities with the keys of My Name, the Omnipotent Protector of all that inhabit the visible and invisible kingdoms. Such a king is the very eye of mankind, the luminous ornament on the brow of creation, the fountainhead of blessings unto the whole world. Offer up, O people of Bahá, your substance, nay your very lives, for his assistance.”
In the Lawḥ-i-Sulṭán Bahá’u’lláh further reveals the significance of kingship: “A just king is the shadow of God on earth. All should seek shelter under the shadow of his justice, and rest in the shade of his favor. This is not a matter which is either specific or limited in its scope, that it might be restricted to one or another person, inasmuch as the shadow telleth of the One Who casteth it. God, glorified be His remembrance, hath called Himself the Lord of the worlds, for He hath nurtured and still nurtureth everyone. Glorified be, then, His grace that hath preceded all created things, and His mercy that hath surpassed the worlds.”
In one of His Tablets Bahá’u’lláh has also written: “The one true God, exalted be His glory, hath bestowed the government of the earth upon the kings. To none is given the right to act in any manner that would run counter to the considered views of them who are in authority. That which He hath reserved for Himself are the cities of men’s hearts; and of these the loved ones of Him Who is the Sovereign Truth are, in this Day, as the keys.”
In the following passage He expresses this wish: “We cherish the hope that one of the kings of the earth will, for the sake of God, arise for the triumph of this wronged, this oppressed people. Such a king will be eternally extolled and glorified. God hath prescribed unto this people the duty of aiding whosoever will aid them, of serving his best interests, and of demonstrating to him their abiding loyalty.”
In the Lawḥ-i-Ra’ís He actually and categorically prophesies the rise of such a king: “Erelong will God raise up from among the kings one who will aid His loved ones. He, verily, encompasseth all things. He will 74 instill in the hearts the love of His loved ones. This, indeed, is irrevocably decreed by One Who is the Almighty, the Beneficent.” In the Riḍvánu’l-‘Adl, wherein the virtue of justice is exalted, He makes a parallel prediction: “Erelong will God make manifest on earth kings who will recline on the couches of justice, and will rule amongst men even as they rule their own selves. They, indeed, are among the choicest of My creatures in the entire creation.”
In the Kitáb-i-Aqdas He visualizes in these words the elevation to the throne of His native city, “the Mother of the World” and “the Dayspring of Light,” of a king who will be adorned with the twin ornaments of justice and of devotion to His Faith: “Let nothing grieve thee, O Land of Tá, for God hath chosen thee to be the source of the joy of all mankind. He shall, if it be His will, bless thy throne with one who will rule with justice, who will gather together the flock of God which the wolves have scattered. Such a ruler will, with joy and gladness, turn his face towards and extend his favors unto, the people of Bahá. He indeed is accounted in the sight of God as a jewel among men. Upon him rest forever the glory of God, and the glory of all that dwell in the kingdom of His Revelation.”