Thornton Chase, the First Western Baha'i, in his Study
Copyright © 2010 Baha'i National Archives, Wilmete, Used With Permission

Monday, August 12, 2019

Recommendations from the Hand of the Cause Mr. Faizi for the Study of Baha'u'llah's Hidden Words

In 1974 the Hand of the Cause Abu'l-Qasim Faizi spent several days giving very precious talks in San Francisco. The photo is of a public talk he gave at the Miyako Hotel in that city during that same several-day visit. The woman on the far left, Marge Gallagher, was our Auxiliary Board member for Protection at that time; I don't remember the name of the lady on the right, she was also an Auxiliary Board member, and I don't know the woman in the center, probably a member of the SF Baha'i Community. The San Francisco Spiritual Assembly has a recording of that talk and perhaps of some of his deepenings given at the Center. Hopefully these will be available for distribution.

Mr. Faizi spoke several times during that week in the San Francisco Baha'i Center, and every chance I got, I took off from the hospital where I worked in Grass Valley and came to his presentations. and in one of them he gave recommendations for studying the Hidden Words. I still have my notes on the categories of guidance he suggested we look for as we read that Book:

Why man is created for this journey

Man's provisions for the journey

Red lights

Green Lights

The destination

Characteristically sweet and profound passages. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ The Hidden Words can be found on the website of the Baha'i World Centre here.

A Compilation of authoritative interpretations of the Hidden Words, by Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi, prepared under the direction of the Universal House of Justice, can be found here (on that page please scroll down to the Hidden Words).

"Give ear to the sayings of the Friend and turn towards His paradise. Worldly friends, seeking their own good, appear to love one the other, whereas the true Friend hath loved and doth love you for your own sakes; indeed He hath suffered for your guidance countless afflictions. Be not disloyal to such a Friend, nay rather hasten unto Him. Such is the daystar of the word of truth and faithfulness, that hath dawned above the horizon of the pen of the Lord of all names. Open your ears that ye may hearken unto the word of God, the Help in peril, the Self-existent."

~ Baha'u'llah, The Persian Hidden Words No. 52

Sunday, July 8, 2018

The Astonishing Meaning of the 'Hidden Treasure' Tradition

One of the most beautiful and mysterious of all religious traditions is the “Hidden Treasure” Tradition:

“I was a Hidden Treasure. I wished to be made known, and thus I called creation into being in order that I might be known.”

Baha’u’llah refers to this Tradition in Paragraph 15 of the Most Holy Book:

“Say: God hath made My hidden love the key to the Treasure; would that ye might perceive it! But for the key, the Treasure would to all eternity have remained concealed; would that ye might believe it!”
(The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 24
In the Note for this paragraph of the Most Holy Book there are fascinating and revealing commentaries. At first reading, this Tradition appears to be God saying that He was a Hidden Treasure and He wanted to be known, so He created human beings.  But in a beautiful Tablet, Abdu'l-Baha has explained that it represents four stages of humanity’s recognition of the Manifestation of God in each Dispensation:
“O wayfarer in the path of the Beloved! Know thou that the main purpose of this holy tradition is to make mention of the stages of God's concealment and manifestation within the Embodiments of Truth, They who are the Dawning-places of His All-Glorious Being. For example, before the flame of the undying Fire is lit and manifest, it existeth by itself within itself in the hidden identity of the universal Manifestations, and this is the stage of the 'Hidden Treasure'. And when the blessed Tree is kindled by itself within itself, and that Divine Fire burneth by its essence within its essence, this is the stage of 'I wished to be made known.' And when it shineth forth from the Horizon of the universe with infinite Divine Names and Attributes upon the contingent and placeless worlds, this constituteth the emergence of a new and wondrous creation which correspondeth to the stage of 'Thus I called creation into being.' And when the sanctified souls rend asunder the veils of all earthly attachments and worldly conditions, and hasten to the stage of gazing on the beauty of the Divine Presence and are honoured by recognizing the Manifestation and are able to witness the splendour of God's Most Great Sign in their hearts, then will the purpose of creation, which is the knowledge of Him Who is the Eternal Truth, become manifest.”
(Abdu'l-Baha, quoted in the Most Holy Book, p. 175

So we learn from this Tablet of peerless beauty written by Abdu'l-Baha that in the first stage, the Manifestation of God is still “hidden”, and in the second stage He “wishes to be made known.”  In the third stage He brings a “new creation” into being. We know from the Writings of the Bab and Baha'u'llah that the “new creation” means the believers in that new DispensationAnd it seems to me that there is a relationship between this great Tradition, and another, even more mysterious Tradition that also comes from the Imams of Islam.  This second Tradition ("Hadith") is known as the Tradition of Kumayl. Bahá’u’lláh makes reference to this Tradition in the Book of Certitude and places it in a new context:

Also in the tradition of Kumayl it is written: "Behold, a light hath shone forth out of the morn of eternity, and lo, its waves have penetrated the inmost reality of all men."
(The Book of Certitude, p. 102; Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 178)

This is an example of what Shoghi Effendi wrote, that the Book of Certitude
“. . . cites and elucidates . . . the cryptic Muhammadan traditions which have bred those age-long misunderstandings, doubts and animosities that have sundered and kept apart the followers of the world's leading religious systems.”
(Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 139)

We do not possess an authorized translation of the full text of the Tradition of Kumayl in the Baha'i Sacred Writings.  Here is the Tradition of Kumayl as translated by Edward Granville Browne, the British Orientalist associated with Cambridge University who wrote extensively about the Bahai Faith. Kumayl, one of the Imam Ali's chosen disciples, was seated behind the Imam on a camel, and asked him five times to elaborate on the question “What is Truth?” The Imam gave five answers, and these comprise the Tradition of Kumayl.  As shown further down in this posting, in the Book of Certitude Baha'u'llah quotes two of the Imam Ali’s responses. 

[Kumayl asked] "What is Truth?"  "What has thou to do with the Truth?" answered `Alí, "for verily it is one of God's mysteries, and a jewel out of His treasure-house."  Then said Kumayl, "O my Master, am I not worthy to share thy secret?" "Yes," answered `Alí, "but the matter is a great one."  "O my Master," said Kumayl, "dost thou desire those who beg at the door of thy bounty to be turned away?"  "Nay, verily," answered `Alí, "I will answer the call of such as are troubled, and will sprinkle upon thee somewhat of the overflowing fullness of the Station of the Truth; receive it from me according to thy capacity, and conceal it from such as are unworthy to share it.  "O Kumayl, the Truth is the revelation of the splendours of Divine Majesty without a sign."  "O my Master," said Kumayl, "I understand not thy meaning; explain it to me further."  "The effacement of the conjectured, and the clearing of the known." continued `Alí.  "Explain more fully," demanded Kumayl.  "The rending of the veil by the triumph of the mystery," (1)  said `Alí.   "O my beloved Master," rejoined Kumayl, "tell me more."  "The attraction of the Divine Unity through the nature of the apprehension of its Oneness," added `Alí.  "Tell me more clearly," repeated Kumayl.  Then said `Alí, "A light shining forth from the Morning of Eternity and irradiating the temples of the unity."(2)
(Translated by Edward Granville Browne; quoted in Christopher Buck, "Symbol & Secret: Qur'án Commentary in Bahá'u'lláh's Kitáb-i-Íqán" (Los Angeles: Kalimat Press, 1995), pp. 200-201.) [P.S. this is an excellent book – B.P.]

(1) Shoghi Effendi's translation: "Piercing the veils of glory, unaided."
(The Book of Certitude, paragraph 175

(2) Shoghi Effendi's translation:  "Behold, a light hath shone forth out of the Morn of eternity, and lo! its waves have penetrated the inmost reality of all men."
(The Book of Certitude, paragraph 109)

Stephen Lambden has made a provisional translation of a Commentary by the Báb on the Tradition of Kumayl in which the Báb correlates each of the five responses by `Alí to the first five years of His Dispensation. That is, the Bab states that each response of `Alí represents a gradual unfoldment of Prophetic mission, from concealment to open manifestation. This is similar to Abdu’l-Baha’s explanation above that the Hidden Treasure Tradition also describes the gradual unfoldment of every Manifestation’s mission. 

Together we see that the Hidden Treasure Tradition and the Tradition of Kumayl have the same theme: The gradual process of humanity’s recognition of each new Manifestation of God. This is one more example of the greatness of the Revelation of Baha’u’llah, which for the first time in religious history breaks the seals placed millennia ago by God on the Holy Books. 

Baha'u'llah's peerless interpretations of the Word of God show that the Hidden Treasure Tradition is also related to another tradition, the meaning of which has forever eluded humanity - that God was alone with no one to adore Him, so He brought creation into being. Baha'u'llah explains that it was not God who was alone - it was the Manifestation of God:

As to those sayings, attributed to the Prophets of old, such as, "In the beginning was God; there was no creature to know Him," and "The Lord was alone; with no one to adore Him," the meaning of these and similar sayings is clear and evident, and should at no time be misapprehended. To this same truth bear witness these words which He hath revealed: "God was alone; there was none else besides Him. He will always remain what He hath ever been." Every discerning eye will readily perceive that the Lord is now manifest, yet there is none to recognize His glory. By this is meant that the habitation wherein the Divine Being dwelleth is far above the reach and ken of any one besides Him. . . . Consider the hour at which the supreme Manifestation of God revealeth Himself unto men. Ere that hour cometh, the Ancient Being, Who is still unknown of men and hath not as yet given utterance to the Word of God, is Himself the All-Knower in a world devoid of any man that hath known Him. He is indeed the Creator without a creation. For at the very moment preceding His Revelation, each and every created thing shall be made to yield up its soul to God. This is indeed the Day of which it hath been written: "Whose shall be the Kingdom this Day?" And none can be found ready to answer!
(Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah LXXVIII, p. 150

This has the same meaning as the Hidden Treasure Tradition - that the Manifestation of God was a Hidden Treasure, and He called a new creation into being - the new believers in every Age - that He might be made known. Between the time that the Manifestation of God begins His ministry and the recognition of Him by the First Believer - this period is the meaning of "God was alone" as He explains in the passage from the Gleanings above. This is one of the most remarkable of Baha'u'llah's interpretations.

“…the reading of the scriptures and holy books is for no other purpose except to enable the reader to apprehend their meaning and unravel their innermost mysteries.” 
(Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 172)  

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Remarkable Purposes for the Laws Revealed by the Bab

Why does the Báb say He revealed laws? The answer is surprising and helps us to understand the content of some of these laws. To begin, let us contrast His purpose with that of Bahá’u’lláh. The laws revealed by Bahá’u’lláh "... serve the manifold purposes of bringing tranquillity to human society, raising the standard of human behaviour, increasing the range of human understanding, and spiritualizing the life of each and all." (The Universal House of Justice, The Most Holy Book, Introduction, p. 2) 

We see these purposes in His moral laws, His laws of prayer and fasting, and the institutions He created. And of course the Báb was concerned about holiness and social unity as secondary matters, but His laws had another primary purpose.Shoghi Effendi wrote that the laws in the Báb's book the Persian Bayan did not have the same purpose as the laws of earlier dispensations:
"...this Book, of about eight thousand verses, occupying a pivotal position in Bábí literature, should be regarded primarily as a eulogy of the Promised One rather than a code of laws and ordinances designed to be a permanent guide to future generations."
(Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 25)

The Báb wrote the same thing - that the purpose of His revelation was to awaken the people to assist the Promised One to come after Him, rather than to carry out the observances in the Bayan:

"...the sum total of the religion of God is but to help Him, rather than to observe, in the time of His appearance, such deeds as are prescribed in the Bayan...."
(The Báb, The Persian Bayan, Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 85)

 Bahá'i literature identifies several purposes for the laws revealed by the Báb, among them:
- Preparing the people to recognize Bahá’u’lláh
- Abrogating the laws of Islam
- Demonstrating that He had the divine authority to abrogate the laws of earlier dispensations and reveal new laws
- Directing His followers to show marked deference to Bahá'u'lláh's person and to ensure that the believers, who were unaware of who He was, would treat Him with the utmost respect and comfort
- To create a tumult, to generate opposition in order to create public interest in His Faith, and attract new believers in a short period of time
- To write laws so that Bahá'u'lláh would not need to tire Himself revealing laws; He could adopt them or amend them as He saw fit

So when we read about a law of the Báb it is often the case that it fits into one of these categories, rather than the purposes of the laws of the earlier Holy Books.

The Shrine of the Bab
Photograph by Michael Bernhard


The Dispensation of the Báb was unlike that of any other religious Dispensation. One of its most striking features was its brevity - nineteen years from His Declaration until the Declaration of Bahá’u’lláh.

"That so brief a span ... should have separated this most mighty and wondrous Revelation from Mine own previous Manifestation, is a secret that no man can unravel and a mystery such as no mind can fathom. Its duration had been foreordained, and no man shall ever discover its reason unless and until he be informed of the contents of My Hidden Book."
(Bahá’u’lláh, quoted in The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 123)

This brevity was foretold in the Book of Revelation:

"And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabitants of the earth ... One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter....The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly." (Revelation 8:13, 9:12, 11:14)

Abdu'l-Baha explained that the Second Woe was the Báb, and the Third Woe, Bahá’u’lláh:

"This third woe is the day of the manifestation of Bahá'u'lláh, the Day of God, and it is near to the day of the appearance of the Báb."
(Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, Chapter 11) 

The Writings of both the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh explain that the reason for the revelation of the Báb was to prepare the way for Bahá’u’lláh, identified by the Báb as "Him Whom God will make manifest":

"And know thou of a certainty that every letter revealed in the Bayan is solely intended to evoke submission unto Him Whom God shall make manifest, for it is He Who hath revealed the Bayan prior to His Own manifestation."
(The Báb, The Persian Bayan, Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 104) 

"The purpose underlying this Revelation, as well as those that preceded it, has, in like manner, been to announce the advent of the Faith of Him Whom God will make manifest."
(The Báb, The Persian Bayan, Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 105)

Bahá’u’lláh confirms this in the Surih of the Temple:

"Say: O people! Turn your faces unto your Lord, the All-Merciful. Beware lest ye be veiled by aught that hath been revealed in the Bayán: It was, in truth, revealed for no other purpose than to make mention of Me, the All-Powerful, the Most High, and had no other object than My Beauty. The whole world hath been filled with My testimony, if ye be of them that judge with fairness."
Bahá’u’lláh, Summons of the Lord of Hosts.

And again, in the Most Holy Book:

Beware lest aught that hath been revealed in the Bayan should keep you from your Lord, the Most Compassionate. God is My witness that the Bayan was sent down for no other purpose than to celebrate My praise, did ye but know! In it the pure in heart will find only the fragrance of My love, only My Name that overshadoweth all that seeth and is seen. Say: Turn ye, O people, unto that which hath proceeded from My Most Exalted Pen. Should ye inhale therefrom the fragrance of God, set not yourselves against Him, nor deny yourselves a portion of His gracious favour and His manifold bestowals. Thus doth your Lord admonish you; He, verily, is the Counsellor, the Omniscient.
(Bahá'u'lláh, The Most Holy Book, paragraph 179, p. 84)  


If a person strives to understand the Dispensation of the Báb as a Dispensation designed to promulgate laws and teachings for humanity for a long period, he or she will miss the point and will not be able to grasp the purpose of the laws of the Báb. Shoghi Effendi addressed this subject in his Introduction to God Passes By, his history of the first Baha'i century. He presents this century as comprising four periods, the successive ministries of the Báb, Bahá’u’lláh, Abdu'l-Baha, and the institutions of the Baha'i Administrative Order. This enables us to see that we cannot properly grasp the purpose of the first period - the Dispensation of the Báb - in isolation from the later periods. The beloved Guardian writes:

"The century under our review may therefore be considered as falling into four distinct periods, of unequal duration, each of specific import and of tremendous and indeed unappraisable significance. These four periods are closely interrelated, and constitute successive acts of one, indivisible, stupendous and sublime drama, whose mystery no intellect can fathom, whose climax no eye can even dimly perceive, whose conclusion no mind can adequately foreshadow. Each of these acts revolves around its own theme, boasts of its own heroes, registers its own tragedies, records its own triumphs, and contributes its own share to the execution of one common, immutable Purpose. To isolate any one of them from the others, to dissociate the later manifestations of one universal, all-embracing Revelation from the pristine purpose that animated it in its earliest days, would be tantamount to a mutilation of the structure on which it rests, and to a lamentable perversion of its truth and of its history."
(Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, Foreword, p. xiv) 

Earlier, he had written through his secretary that we cannot properly see the Revelation of the Báb as a stand-alone Dispensation:

"Shoghi Effendi feels that the Unity of the Bahá'í revelation as one complete whole embracing the Faith of the Báb should be emphasised... The Faith of the Báb should not be divorced from that of Bahá'u'lláh. Though the teachings of the Bayan have been abrogated and superseded by the laws of Aqdas, yet due to the fact that the Báb considered Himself as the forerunner of Bahá'u'lláh we should regard His dispensation together with that of Bahá'u'lláh as forming one entity, the former being an introductory to the advent of the latter. Just as the advent of John the Baptist -- who according to various authorities was Himself the originator of laws which abrogated the teachings current among the Jews -- forms part of the Christian revelation, the advent of the Báb likewise forms an integral part of the Bahá'í Faith. That is why Shoghi Effendi feels justified to call Nabil's narrative a narrative of the early days of the Bahá'í revelation."
(Extract from a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi dated 30 November 1930, "The Unfolding Destiny of the British Baha'i Community," p. 426)


"...The severe laws and injunctions revealed by the Báb can be properly appreciated and understood only when interpreted in the light of His own statements regarding the nature, purpose and character of His own Dispensation. As these statements clearly reveal, the Bábí Dispensation was essentially in the nature of a religious and indeed social revolution, and its duration had therefore to be short, but full of tragic events, of sweeping and drastic reforms. These drastic measures enforced by the Báb and His followers were taken with the view of undermining the very foundations of Shí'ah orthodoxy, and thus paving the way for the coming of Bahá'u'lláh. To assert the independence of the new Dispensation, and to prepare also the ground for the approaching Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh the Báb had therefore to reveal very severe laws, even though most of them, were never enforced. But the mere fact that He revealed them was in itself a proof of the independent character of His Dispensation and was sufficient to create such widespread agitation, and excite such opposition on the part of the clergy that led them to cause His eventual martyrdom."
(From a letter on behalf of Shoghi Effendi dated Feb 17, 1939, Dawn of a New Day, p. 77; cited in the Notes to the Most Holy Book:

Shoghi Effendi also wrote that the "designedly severe," the "drastic" laws revealed by the Báb were designed to awaken the people: 

"In God Passes By Shoghi Effendi points out that the Bayan 'should be regarded primarily as a eulogy of the Promised One rather than a code of laws and ordinances designed to be a permanent guide to future generations'. 'Designedly severe in the rules and regulations it imposed,' he continues, 'revolutionizing in the principles it instilled, calculated to awaken from their age-long torpor the clergy and the people, and to administer a sudden and fatal blow to obsolete and corrupt institutions, it proclaimed, through its drastic provisions, the advent of the anticipated Day, the Day when "the Summoner shall summon to a stern business", when He will "demolish whatever hath been before Him, even as the Apostle of God demolished the ways of those that preceded Him"'". (The Most Holy Book, p. 232, Note 159)

Professor Nader Saiedi has made a careful study of the laws of the Báb. Dr. Saiedi writes about Bahá’u’lláh's modification of the laws revealed by the Báb:

"This part of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas [paragraphs 139-142] unveils the secret of the apparently harsh laws of the Bayan. Although many of the Bayan's laws are embodiments of love and mercy, others, such as the marriage law just mentioned [prohibiting the Báb's followers from marrying non-believers], seem to be reflections of the principle of the sword, making distinctions between believers and nonbelievers and according them differential rights. However, it becomes evident that those laws were never intended by the Báb to be ordinances carried out in society. As He reiterates in the Persian Bayan, the purpose of those laws was to emphasize that all must recognize and believe in the Promised One and that nonrecognition of Him is equal to nonexistence. Here, in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Bahá’u’lláh confirms this fact. Those laws were revealed only to emphasize the supreme authority of Baha'u'11ah, to ensure that the Bábís would all recognize His sovereignty, and, as is easily seen in the case of such laws as the prohibition on asking Him questions, to create conditions that would protect the Promised One from being subjected to the vexation and indignity of impudent and idle questions, challenges, and objections. The Báb wished Him to be free to reveal His verses in a way befitting His unconditional authority and majesty and as He desired." (Nader Saiedi, "Logos and Civilization," p. 289 

So, for example, the Báb prescribed the destruction of books and Bahá’u’lláh rescinded this law
The purpose of such laws revealed by the Báb was to enhance the likelihood of the people turning to Bahá’u’lláh.

"And know thou of a certainty that every letter revealed in the Bayan is solely intended to evoke submission unto Him Whom God shall make manifest, for it is He Who hath revealed the Bayan prior to His Own manifestation." (The Báb, The Persian Bayan, Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 104) 

This is commented on by Professor Saiedi: "A careful reading of the Persian Bayan leaves no doubt that the Báb fashions the severe laws only as a symbolic measure to remind the people of the necessity of recognizing the Promised One."
(Nader Saiedi, "Gate of the Heart" p. 362


To revisit the letter written on Shoghi Effendi's behalf, the laws of the Báb generated opposition, which attracted the pure in heart to His new revelation. 

"... the Bábí Dispensation was essentially in the nature of a religious and indeed social revolution ... These drastic measures enforced by the Báb and His followers were taken with the view of undermining the very foundations of Shí'ah orthodoxy, and thus paving the way for the coming of Bahá'u'lláh ... [and] to create such widespread agitation, and excite such opposition on the part of the clergy that led them to cause His eventual martyrdom."
(From a letter on behalf of Shoghi Effendi dated Feb 17, 1939, Dawn of a New Day, p. 77; cited in the Notes to the Most Holy Book:

So we see that many of the laws revealed by the Báb were designed to bring about opposition from the corrupt Shi'ih clergy and awaken the people to the new revelation from God. An example of this was when the Báb changed the Muslim call to prayer, a specific formula that had been recited by Muslim imams without the slightest change for more than a thousand years. When His followers used the new formula it shocked the people - but it made them aware of the new Dispensation:

The Shrine of the Bab
Photograph by Denny Allen


As Shoghi Effendi wrote of the Persian Bayan: 

"This Book at once abrogated the laws and ceremonials enjoined by the Qur'án regarding prayer, fasting, marriage, divorce and inheritance, and upheld, in its integrity, the belief in the prophetic mission of Muhammad, even as the Prophet of Islam before Him had annulled the ordinances of the Gospel and yet recognized the Divine origin of the Faith of Jesus Christ."
(Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 25)


“Our Exalted Herald -- may the life of all else besides Him be offered up for His sake -- hath revealed certain laws. However, in the realm of His Revelation these laws were made subject to Our sanction, hence this Wronged One hath put some of them into effect by embodying them in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas in different words. Others We set aside. He holdeth in His hand the authority.” (Bahá’u’lláh, Tablet of Ishraqat, Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 131)

“Verily, He [the Báb] revealed certain laws so that, in this Dispensation, the Pen of the Most High might have no need to move in aught but the glorification of His own transcendent Station and His most effulgent Beauty. Since, however, We have wished to evidence Our bounty unto you, We have, through the power of truth, set forth these laws with clarity and mitigated what We desire you to observe. He, verily, is the Munificent, the Generous.” (Bahá'u'lláh, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 70) 

Many of Bahá’u’lláh’s laws in the Most Holy Book have their antecedents in the laws revealed by the Báb.


Imagine that a famous and important person was coming to someone's home - the king or queen of their country, or some other person held in the highest esteem. The homeowners would wear their best clothing - in fact, would go out and buy new clothes. They would do more than clean their home, they would buy new furnishings, repaint the house and provide the finest food and drink to their noted guest. In like manner the Báb directed His followers to conduct themselves with the highest refinement, because the next Manifestation of God, "Him Whom God will make manifest," would be among them in their gatherings, unrecognized by them. In this way, He would be treated with appropriate respect.
The Báb states this: 

"But for the sole reason of His being present amongst this people, We would have neither prescribed any law nor laid down any prohibition. It is only for the glorification of His Name and the exaltation of His Cause that We have enunciated certain laws at Our behest, or forbidden the acts to which We are averse, so that at the hour of His manifestation ye may attain through Him the good-pleasure of God and abstain from the things that are abhorrent unto Him." (The Kitáb-i-Asma, Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 149) 

Referring to the contents of Bahá’u’lláh's book The Kitáb-i-Badi, Professor Nader Saiedi writes:

"Similarly, He [Bahá’u’lláh] refers to the laws of the Bayan which encourage refinement in all things, living in the best houses with the best furniture, wearing the best clothes, using the best perfumes, eating the best foods, and which allow more than two thousand types of food in feasts organized to honor the Promised One. As Baha'u'11ah says, the explicit purpose of the Báb in revealing all these laws was to ensure that the eyes of the Promised One would never gaze upon unpleasant things and that He would never become subject to hardship and suffering."
Nader Saiedi, "Logos and Civilization," p. 208

This solicitude was an expression of the incomparable love between these two Manifestations of God. As the Baha'i historian Nabil wrote:

"The Báb, whose trials and sufferings had preceded, in almost every case, those of Bahá'u'lláh, had offered Himself to ransom His Beloved from the perils that beset that precious Life; whilst Bahá'u'lláh, on His part, unwilling that He who so greatly loved Him should be the sole Sufferer, shared at every turn the cup that had touched His lips. Such love no eye has ever beheld, nor has mortal heart conceived such mutual devotion. If the branches of every tree were turned into pens, and all the seas into ink, and earth and heaven rolled into one parchment, the immensity of that love would still remain unexplored, and the depths of that devotion unfathomed."
(Nabil-i-Azam, The Dawn-Breakers, p. 372) 

And this great love, and these remarkable laws revealed by the Báb, all help us to more fully appreciate the greatness of the incomparable Gift which God has given to us in the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh. 

"This is a Revelation, under which, if a man shed for its sake one drop of blood, myriads of oceans will be his recompense." "A fleeting moment, in this Day, excelleth centuries of a bygone age.... Neither sun nor moon hath witnessed a day such as this Day."
(Bahá’u’lláh, quoted in The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 78)

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

A selection of quotations from the Baha'i Writings on unity and diversity

"We stand for unity through diversity
and we hold in contempt
every attempt at uniformity. . ."

". . . a world organically unified in all the essential aspects of its life, its political machinery, its spiritual aspiration, its trade and finance, its script and language, and yet infinite in the diversity of the national characteristics of its federated units." (Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 43)

"Let there be no misgivings as to the animating purpose of the world-wide Law of Bahá'u'lláh. . . It does not ignore, nor does it attempt to suppress, the diversity of ethnical origins, of climate, of history, of language and tradition, of thought and habit, that differentiate the peoples and nations of the world. It calls for a wider loyalty, for a larger aspiration than any that has animated the human race. It insists upon the subordination of national impulses and interests to the imperative claims of a unified world. It repudiates excessive centralization on one hand, and disclaims all attempts at uniformity on the other. Its watchword is unity in diversity such as Abdu'l-Baha Himself has explained:

'Consider the flowers of a garden. Though differing in kind, color, form and shape, yet, inasmuch as they are refreshed by the waters of one spring, revived by the breath of one wind, invigorated by the rays of one sun, this diversity increaseth their charm and addeth unto their beauty. How unpleasing to the eye if all the flowers and plants, the leaves and blossoms, the fruit, the branches and the trees of that garden were all of the same shape and color! Diversity of hues, form and shape enricheth and adorneth the garden, and heighteneth the effect thereof. In like manner, when divers shades of thought, temperament and character, are brought together under the power and influence of one central agency, the beauty and glory of human perfection will be revealed and made manifest. Naught but the celestial potency of the Word of God, which ruleth and transcendeth the realities of all things, is capable of harmonizing the divergent thoughts, sentiments, ideas and convictions of the children of men.'"

(The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 41)

"They must be neither provocative nor supine, neither fanatical nor excessively liberal, in their exposition of the fundamental and distinguishing features of their Faith." (Shoghi Effendi, Citadel of Faith, p. 25)

"There are two main principles which the Guardian wishes the friends to always bear in mind and to conscientiously and faithfully follow. First is the principle of unqualified and wholehearted loyalty to the revealed Word. The believers should be careful not to deviate, even a hair-breadth, from the Teachings. Their supreme consideration should be to safeguard the purity of the principles, tenets and laws of the Faith. It is only by this means that they can hope to maintain the organic unity of the Cause. There can and should be no liberals or conservatives, no moderates or extremes in the Cause. For they are all subject to the one and the same law which is the Law of God. This law transcends all differences, all personal or local tendencies, moods and aspirations. [...] Doctrinal unity and administrative unity, these are the two chief pillars that sustain the edifice of the Cause, and protect it from the storms of opposition which so severely rage against it."
(From a letter on behalf of Shoghi Effendi dated September 5, 1936; Dawn of a New Day, p. 61)

"The Guardian is striving to build up uniformity in essentials all over the Bahá'í World, and this frequently involves a small measure of delay in achieving our various goals set locally."
(From a letter on behalf of Shoghi Effendi dated Dec. 30, 1948, Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand, p. 73) (the subject is the constitution of an Assembly)

"He does not object if there be any differences in these secondary matters, but he feels that he should insist on uniformity in essentials. Diversity in unity -- which is so vital and basic a principle of the Movement -- would thereby be maintained."
(Shoghi Effendi dated Dec. 27, 1934, The Unfolding Destiny of the British Baha'i Community, p. 101) (the subject is the constitution of an Assembly)

"Shoghi Effendi believes that, although the friends may have different methods of teaching the Cause, yet they should not let such diversity lead to a consciousness of division among them. To safeguard the unity of the Faith is the sacred obligation of every loyal Baha'i. We should, therefore, avoid creating any misunderstandings which might develop into actual division. We stand for unity through diversity and we hold in contempt every attempt at uniformity or at complete separateness."
From a letter on behalf of Shoghi Effendi dated 3 June 1933, Compilation "Cultural Diversity in the Age of Maturity," Compilation of Compilations, Volume III, p. 125 #204)

"The second principle is that of detachment in consultation.  The members of an Assembly must learn to express their views frankly, calmly, without passion or rancour.  They must also learn to listen to the opinions of their fellow members without taking offence or belittling the views of another. Baha'i consultation is not an easy process.  It requires love, kindliness, moral courage and humility.  Thus no member should ever allow himself to be prevented from expressing frankly his view because it may offend a fellow member; and, realizing this, no member should take offence at another member's statements." (From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Italy, August 26, 1965; Lights of Guidance pp. 179-180)

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Day of God Himself

In the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Qur'an are promises that God Himself will come to the earth. Baha'u'llah both fulfills and explains the meaning of this.

In the Book of Revelation we read:

"And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, 'Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God." (Revelation 21:3)

In Isaiah we read (and many Christian study Bibles star this verse as a prophecy that God Himself will come to earth)

"The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the LORD, and the excellency of our God." (Isaiah 35:1-2. Another example is in Isaiah 40:10)

Baha'u'llah quotes this verse and says of it and other verses from Isaiah,

"These passages stand in need of no commentary. They are shining and manifest as the sun, and glowing and luminous as light itself. Every fair-minded person is led, by the fragrance of these words, unto the garden of understanding, and attaineth unto that from which most men are veiled and debarred."
(Baha'u'llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 146)

This is one of the prophecies that foretells His name - "as shining and manifest as the sun."

Isaiah not only states that the "glory of the Lord" will come to Carmel - but even specifies the neighborhood. The original Hebrew says "the Hadar of Carmel" shall see "the Hadar of God". ("Hadar" can be translated as glory, excellence, splendor, or beauty). Baha'u'llah, the Splendor of God will come to the Hadar of Carmel - and the Baha'i Holy Places are in the Hadar neighborhood of Haifa.

There is a famous verse from the Qur'an in which Muhammad states that He is the Seal of the Prophets, and Muslims mistakenly believe that this means that no other Prophet will ever come to the earth. As Baha'u'llah points out, this verse in the Qur'an is followed by the promise that the people will "meet God." Here is the verse:
"Muhammad is not the father of any man among you, but he is the Apostle of God, and the seal of the prophets: and God knoweth all things. O Believers! remember God with frequent remembrance, and praise Him morning and evening. He blesseth you, and His angels intercede for you, that He may bring you forth out of darkness into light: and Merciful is He to the Believers. Their greeting on the day when they shall meet Him shall be 'Peace!'" (Qur'an 33:40)
Baha'u'llah writes,
"Know then that the paradise that appeareth in the day of God surpasseth every other paradise and excelleth the realities of Heaven. For when God - blessed and glorified is He - sealed the station of prophethood in the person of Him Who was His Friend, His Chosen One, and His Treasure amongst His creatures, as hath been revealed from the Kingdom of glory: 'but He is the Apostle of God and the Seal of the Prophets', He promised all men that they shall attain unto His own presence in the Day of Resurrection. In this He meant to emphasize the greatness of the Revelation to come, as it hath indeed been manifested through the power of truth. And there is of a certainty no paradise greater than this, nor station higher, should ye reflect upon the verses of the Qur'án. Blessed be he who knoweth of a certainty that he shall attain unto the presence of God on that day when His Beauty shall be made manifest."
(Baha'u'llah, Gems of Divine Mysteries, p. 42)

That is, the Qur'an does not expressly state that another Prophet will come after Muhammad -it says that the earth will receive the Presence of God or will "meet" God, a promise made throughout the Qur'an - these verses are compiled by Baha'u'llah here:

All the Holy Books promise that God Himself will come to the earth. This is also related to the promise that the Messiah will say one word, and that word will cause the religious leaders to flee. That word is explained here:

As Baha'u'llah repeatedly states He is not claiming to be God. These promises are solely to emphasize the greatness of His Revelation. When Muslims object, He explains that He wants "Divinity" to be understood in the same way it is used in the Qur'an and Islamic Traditions .

It seems that God ran out of superlatives, and saying it this way was the best way of communicating the greatness of this Revelation.
This is the “Day of God” promised in the Holy Books, Revelation 16:14, II Peter 3:10-11, Qur'an 14:5.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Who Do Baha'is Believe Jesus Christ Is?

 Who do Baha'is believe Jesus Christ is?

In the last chapter of the last book of the Old Testament, God makes this Covenant:

"Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord."  [Malachi 4:5]

The people asked John the Baptist if he was the return of Elijah, and he said that he was not:

"Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, 'Who are you?' ... And they asked him, 'What then?  Are you Elijah?'  He said, 'I am not.'  'Are you the Prophet?'  And he answered, 'No.'"  [John 1:19-21]

But Jesus stated that John the Baptist was Elijah:

[Jesus said to them]  "Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist ... And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come.  He who has ears to hear, let him hear!"  [Matthew 11:11-15]

Abdul-Baha states in Chapter 33 of "Some Answered Questions":

"Then if John was Elias, why did he say, 'I am not?' And if he was not Elias, why did Christ say that he was? The explanation is this:  Not the personality, but the reality of the perfections, is meant -- that is to say, the same perfections that were in Elias existed in John the Baptist and were exactly realized in him....  Therefore when Christ said, 'This is Elias,' He meant:  This person is a manifestation of the bounty, the perfections, the character, the qualities and the virtues of Elias...."

Though there appears at first glance to be a discrepancy in the Scripture, we can approach the Scripture with confidence to find the unity of its meaning, as:

"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness..."   [II Timothy 3:16]
" ... for God is not the author of confusion but of peace ..."  [I Corinthians 14:33]

The Baha'i interpretation that the "return" means the return of the "bounty, ... perfections, ... character, ... qualities, and ... virtues" is supported by this verse from the Gospel:

[But the angel said] "He [John the Baptist] will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah..."  [Luke 1:17]

Sometimes Christians say that Elijah is a "type" of John the Baptist, meaning an archetype, and this means the same thing. The point is, that John fulfilled the promise of the return of Elijah.  This fact, that John the Baptist fulfills the prophecy of the Return of Elijah, illumines the relationship between Christ and Baha'u'llah.  And just as God promised that Elijah would return, Jesus promised One who would come after Him:

"However, when He, the Spirit of Truth has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.  He will glorify Me ..."  [John 16:13]

This is often understood to be a prophecy of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.  However, if read carefully, it can be seen that it is a prophecy of the appearance of the One to succeed Jesus.  In the following words, spoken by God to Moses, we see the terminology God uses to foreshadow the appearance of a Manifestation of God:

"I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him."  [Deuteronomy 18:18]

This is universally understood by Christians to be a prophecy of Jesus Christ from the Jewish Scriptures, and accepted as such by Baha'i's.  Look carefully at how the "Prophet" is foretold in the previous verse, and compare it to these words of Jesus, describing the source of His own Revelation:

"For I have not spoken on my own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak.  And I know that His command is everlasting life.  Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak."  [John 12:49-50]

So Jesus claimed that prophecy in Deuteronomy as foretelling His appearance.  Now we can see that this prophecy by Jesus of the One to follow Him is in the same spirit, and again, refers to a Person:

"However, when He, the Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.  He will glorify Me..."   [John 16:13]

'Abdu'l-Baha, interpreting these words of Jesus, states:

"Now consider carefully that from these words, 'for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak,' it is clear that the Spirit of truth is embodied in a Man Who has individuality, Who has ears to hear and a tongue to speak." [Some Answered Questions p. 109]

In confirmation of His being the fulfillment of this verse, Baha'u'llah writes in His Most Holy Tablet, His Tablet to the Christians:

"Verily, He Who is the Spirit of Truth is come to guide you unto all truth.  He speaketh not as prompted by His own self, but as bidden by Him Who is the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.  Say, this is the One Who hath glorified the Son and hath exalted His Cause."  ["Tablet to the Christians," Tablets of Baha'u'llah p. 12]

Jesus promised that He would return bearing a New Name

Jesus promised that He would return with a new name, and He associated this name with the name of the "city of God," the "new Jerusalem."  The Bible associates this city with the name of Baha'u'llah, whose Name means "The Glory of God." Jesus said:

"He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more.  And I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God.  And I will write on him My new name." (Revelation 3:12)
These are the words of Jesus Christ. In a red-letter Bible, this verse is in red.

There is only one other reference in the Bible to the "New Jerusalem," this "City of God." John saw this City, and said:

"And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God." (Revelation 21:10)
That is, "Having the Glory of God" is the fulfillment of the divine promise that Jesus would return with a new name. In the Arabic translation of the Bible, it says that this holy Jerusalem has "Baha'u'llah."

Baha'is believe that Baha'u'llah is the promised return of Christ, and that His very Name is prophesied in the Revelation of John, as well as in Isaiah 35:2, where Isaiah promises that Mount Carmel -- the location of the World Centre of the Baha'i Faith -- would see the Splendor of God.  "Baha'u'llah" means "The Glory of God" and "Splendor of God."


Exactly who the Bible says He is.  And the Bible presents Jesus Christ in a range of stations.

Baha'u'llah wrote:

"Were any of the all-embracing Manifestations of God to declare, 'I am God!' He verily speaketh the truth, and no doubt attacheth thereto.  For it hath been repeatedly demonstrated that through their Revelation, their attributes and names, the Revelation of God, His name and His attributes, are made manifest in the world..."  (Book of Certitude, p. 178)
"In every instance, they have voiced an utterance that would conform to the requirements of the occasion, and have ascribed all these declarations to Themselves, declarations ranging from the realm of divine Revelation to the realm of creation, and from the domain of Divinity even unto the domain of earthly existence.  Thus it is that whatsoever be their utterance, whether it pertain to the realm of Divinity, Lordship, Prophethood, Messengership, Guardianship, Apostleship or Servitude, all is true, beyond the shadow of a doubt."  (Book of Certitude, p. 181)
Let's now see how Jesus Christ is presented in almost all of these stations mentioned by Baha'u'llah, in the Bible.


The divinity of Christ is affirmed in the following verses of the Bible:

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." John 1:1
"I and My Father are one." John 10:30

The divinity of Christ is upheld in the Bahá'í teachings.  As Shoghi Effendi wrote:

"As to the position of Christianity, let it be stated without any hesitation or equivocation that its divine origin is unconditionally acknowledged, that the Sonship and Divinity of Jesus Christ are fearlessly asserted, that the divine inspiration of the Gospel is fully recognized, that the reality of the mystery of the Immaculacy of the Virgin Mary is confessed, and the primacy of Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, is upheld and defended. ... Such are the central, the solid, the incontrovertible principles that constitute the bedrock of Baha'i belief, which the Faith of Baha'u'llah is proud to acknowledge, which its teachers proclaim, which its apologists defend, which its literature disseminates, which its summer schools expound, and which the rank and file of its followers attest by both word and deed."  (The Promised Day is Come, pp. 109-110)


The "Lordship" of Jesus Christ is stated in these Bible verses:

"For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath." Matthew 12:8
"You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am." John 13:13
"Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming." Matthew 24:42

Jesus Christ is referred to as a "Prophet" in these verses of the Bible:

"I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him."  Deuteronomy 18:18
"But Jesus said to them, 'A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.'" Matthew 13:57
"Nevertheless I must journey today, tomorrow, and the day following; for it cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem."  Luke 13:33
"So the multitudes said, 'This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.'"  Matthew 21:11


Jesus Christ is referred to as a "Messenger" in this verse of the last Book of the Old Testament:

"Behold, I send My messenger [John the Baptist] and he will prepare the way before Me.  And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant [Jesus], in whom you delight."  Malachi 3:1

That the "Messenger" is John the Baptist is confirmed in Matthew 11:10.


In this verse from the New Testament, Jesus is referred to as an Apostle:
"Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus ... "     Epistle of Paul to the Hebrews 3:1

The servitude of Jesus is referred to in these verses:

"Behold!  My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights!" Isaiah 42:1 [Matthew 12:17-18 confirms that this verse refers to Jesus]
"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." Mark 10:45 
"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men."  Paul's Epistle to the Phillipians 2:5-7

So, as Baha'u'llah explains in the Book of Certitude, Baha'is believe that Jesus contains all of these stations within Himself. When speaking of Him, we are speaking of a Being greater than a human being, so we must be careful to not attempt to contain Him within human concepts, or presume that our limited minds are capable of grasping His station, just as an animal can never grasp human nature. Only by using His own Words, and the Writings of Baha'u'llah, can we begin to understand His station.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

What is the Meaning of the 70 Virgins in Paradise?

What is the meaning of the 70 virgins in Paradise?

In chapter 55 of the Qur'an (Surah 55 "The Merciful") there is a passage about beautiful virgins in Paradise known as "huris":
"Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny? Therein are those of modest gaze, whom neither man nor spirits will have touched before them. Which is it, of the favors of your Lord, that ye deny?"
The number of these virgins is not provided in the Qur'an, but Islamic holy Traditions - Hadith - state that there will be 70 or 72 of them, or that every man will have 70 wives.

In the Book of Certitude, Baha'u'llah explains that the Holy Books are written in two modes: One is clear and unveiled, and the other is "veiled and concealed" and according to Islamic tradition has 70 concealed meanings:
"It is evident unto thee that the Birds of Heaven and Doves of Eternity speak a twofold language. One language, the outward language, is devoid of allusions, is unconcealed and unveiled; that it may be a guiding lamp and a beaconing light whereby wayfarers may attain the heights of holiness, and seekers may advance into the realm of eternal reunion. Such are the unveiled traditions and the evident verses already mentioned. The other language is veiled and concealed. . . None apprehendeth the meaning of these utterances except them whose hearts are assured, whose souls have found favour with God, and whose minds are detached from all else but Him. In such utterances, the literal meaning, as generally understood by the people, is not what hath been intended. Thus it is recorded:  'Every knowledge hath seventy meanings, of which one only is known amongst the people. And when the Qá'im shall arise, He shall reveal unto men all that which remaineth.'"
(Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 254; compare Luke 8:9-10)
So here Baha'u'llah quotes a Muslim Tradition stating that the Word of God has 70 meanings. Earlier in this same Book, Baha'u'llah linked His explanations of the inner meanings enfolded within the Word of God, with the huris mentioned in the Qur'an:

"By God! however great Our desire to be brief, yet We feel We cannot restrain Our pen. Notwithstanding all that We have mentioned, how innumerable are the pearls which have remained unpierced in the shell of Our heart! How many the huris of inner meaning that are as yet concealed within the chambers of divine wisdom! None hath yet approached them; -- huris, 'whom no man nor spirit hath touched before.'"
(Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 70)
Similarly, in the Surih of the Temple, Baha'u'llah identifies the "huris" with the inner meanings of the Word of God, when He writes,
O Maid of inner meanings! Step out of the chamber of utterance by the leave of God, the Lord of the heavens and the earth.
(The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 13, paragraph 22)
The original word translated as "Maid" is "huriyya" which is synonymous with "huri." Therefore, it is my understanding that the 70 "virgins in Paradise" that are untouched by any man, are the 70 meanings in the Paradise of the Word of God not previously understood by any mind. Perhaps this is an example of Shoghi Effendi's statement that in the Book of Certitude, that Baha'u'llah unfolds the meaning of the "cryptic Muhammadan traditions" that have been misunderstood in the past.

Here are extracts from two more of Baha'u'llah's tablets which link the "Maids of Heaven" with the significances of the Word of God:

"O My servants! Through the might of God and His power, and out of the treasury of His knowledge and wisdom, I have brought forth and revealed unto you the pearls that lay concealed in the depths of His everlasting ocean. I have summoned the Maids of  Heaven to emerge from behind the veil of concealment, and have clothed them with these words of Mine -- words of consummate power and wisdom."
(Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah CLIII, p. 327)

"He is the All-Glorious. This is the garden of Paradise, wherein arise the anthems of God, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting; wherein ascend the soul-entrancing melodies warbled by the Nightingale of Eternity upon the twigs of the Divine Lote-Tree; wherein abide the Maids of Heaven whom none hath touched save God, the All-Glorious, the Most Holy; and wherein lieth enshrined that which draweth the needy to the shores of the ocean of true wealth and guideth the people to the Word of God."
(Baha'u'llah, Tablet of the Bell, Days of Remembrance, Tablet #26