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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 84-90

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 Iṣfahán, 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 Ṭihrán, who, in their fear, 85 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 Karbilá—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 86 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 Ḥusayn [Imám Ḥusayn], 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 [Ṭihrán]—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 87 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 committed.”
“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 it.”
“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 88 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 [Ṭihrán], 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 Lawḥ-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 [Muḥammad] 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 89 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 90 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.