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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 19-21

Recipients of the Message

It should not be forgotten that it was the kings of the earth and the world’s religious leaders who, above all other categories of men, were made the direct recipients of the Message proclaimed by both the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh. It was they who were deliberately addressed in numerous and historic Tablets, who were summoned to respond to the Call of God, and to whom were directed, in clear and forcible language, the appeals, the admonitions and warnings of His persecuted Messengers. It was they who, when the Faith was born, and later when its mission was proclaimed, were still, for the most part, wielding unquestioned and absolute civil and ecclesiastical authority over their subjects and followers. It was they who, whether glorying in the pomp and pageantry of a kingship as yet scarcely restricted by constitutional limitations, or entrenched within the strongholds of a seemingly inviolable ecclesiastical power, assumed ultimate responsibility for any wrongs inflicted by those whose immediate destinies they controlled. It would be no exaggeration to say that in most of the countries of the European and Asiatic continents absolutism, on the one hand, and complete subservience to ecclesiastical hierarchies, on the other, were still the outstanding features of the political and religious life of the masses. These, dominated and shackled, were robbed of the necessary freedom that would enable them to either appraise the claims and merits of the Message proffered to them, or to embrace unreservedly its truth.
Small wonder, then, that the Author of the Bahá’í Faith, and to a lesser degree its Herald, should have directed at the world’s supreme rulers and religious leaders the full force of Their Messages, and made them the recipients of some of Their most sublime Tablets, and invited them, in a language at once clear and insistent, to heed Their call. Small wonder that They should have taken the pains to unroll before 20 their eyes the truths of Their respective Revelations, and should have expatiated on Their woes and sufferings. Small wonder that They should have stressed the preciousness of the opportunities which it was in the power of these rulers and leaders to seize, and should have warned them in ominous tones of the grave responsibilities which the rejection of God’s Message would entail, and should have predicted, when rebuffed and refused, the dire consequences which such a rejection involved. Small wonder that He Who is the King of kings and Vicegerent of God Himself should, when abandoned, contemned and persecuted, have uttered this epigrammatic and momentous prophecy: “From two ranks amongst men power hath been seized: kings and ecclesiastics.”
As to the kings and emperors who not only symbolized in their persons the majesty of earthly dominion but who, for the most part, actually held unchallengeable sway over the multitudes of their subjects, their relation to the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh constitutes one of the most illuminating episodes in the history of the Heroic and Formative Ages of that Faith. The Divine summons which embraced within its scope so large a number of the crowned heads of both Europe and Asia; the theme and language of the Messages that brought them into direct contact with the Source of God’s Revelation; the nature of their reaction to so stupendous an impact; and the consequences which ensued and can still be witnessed today are the salient features of a subject upon which I can but inadequately touch, and which will be fully and befittingly treated by future Bahá’í historians.
The Emperor of the French, the most powerful ruler of his day on the European continent, Napoleon III; Pope Pius IX, the supreme head of the highest church in Christendom, and wielder of the scepter of both temporal and spiritual authority; the omnipotent Czar of the vast Russian Empire, Alexander II; the renowned Queen Victoria, whose sovereignty extended over the greatest political combination the world has witnessed; William I, the conqueror of Napoleon III, King of Prussia and the newly acclaimed monarch of a unified Germany; Francis Joseph, the autocratic king-emperor of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, the heir of the far-famed Holy Roman Empire; the tyrannical Abdu’l-’Aziz, the embodiment of the concentrated power vested in the Sultanate and the Caliphate; the notorious Náṣiri’d-Dín Sháh, the despotic ruler of Persia and the mightiest potentate of Shí’ih Islám—in a 21 word, most of the preeminent embodiments of power and of sovereignty in His day became, one by one, the object of Bahá’u’lláh’s special attention, and were made to sustain, in varying degrees, the weight of the force communicated by His appeals and warnings.
It should be borne in mind, however, that Bahá’u’lláh has not restricted the delivery of His Message to a few individual sovereigns, however potent the scepters they severally wielded, and however vast the dominions which they ruled. All the kings of the earth have been collectively addressed by His Pen, appealed to, and warned, at a time when the star of His Revelation was mounting its zenith, and whilst He lay a prisoner in the hands, and in the vicinity of the court, of His royal enemy. In a memorable Tablet, designated as the Súriy-i-Mulúk (Súrih of Kings) in which the Sulṭán himself and his ministers, and the kings of Christendom, and the French and Persian Ambassadors accredited to the Sublime Porte, and the Muslim ecclesiastical leaders in Constantinople, and its wise men and its inhabitants, and the people of Persia, and the philosophers of the world have been specifically addressed and admonished, He thus directs His words to the entire company of the monarchs of East and West: