Summons of the Lord of Hosts
by Bahá'u'lláhHaifa: Bahá’í World Centre, 2002
The years following Bahá'u'lláh's arrival in Adrianople witnessed His Revelation's attainment, in the words of Shoghi Effendi, of ``its meridian glory'' through the proclamation of its Founder's message to the kings and rulers of the world. During this relatively brief but turbulent period of the Faith's history, and in the early years of His subsequent exile in 1868 to the fortress town of `Akká, He summoned the monarchs of East and West collectively, and some among them individually, to recognize the Day of God and to acknowledge the One promised in the scriptures of the religions professed by the recipients of His summons. ``Never since the beginning of the world'', Bahá'u'lláh declares, ``hath the Message been so openly proclaimed.''
The present volume brings together the first full, authorized English translation of these major writings. Among them is the complete Súriy-i-Haykal, the Súrih of the Temple, one of Bahá'u'lláh's most challenging works. It was originally revealed during His banishment to Adrianople and later recast after His arrival in `Akká. In this version He incorporated His messages addressed to individual potentates -- Pope Pius IX, Napoleon III, Czar Alexander II, Queen Victoria, and Násiri'd-Dín Sháh.
It was this composite work which, shortly after its completion, Bahá'u'lláh instructed be written in the form of a pentacle, symbolizing the human temple. To it He added, as a conclusion, what Shoghi Effendi has described as ``words which reveal the importance He attached to those Messages, and indicate their direct association with the prophecies of the Old Testament'':
During the last years of His ministry Bahá'u'lláh Himself arranged for the publication for the first time of definitive versions of some of His principal works, and the Súriy-i-Haykal was awarded a prominent position among them.
Of the various writings that make up the Súriy-i-Haykal, one requires particular mention. The Lawh-i-Sultán, the Tablet to Násiri'd-Dín Sháh, Bahá'u'lláh's lengthiest epistle to any single sovereign, was revealed in the weeks immediately preceding His final banishment to `Akká. It was eventually delivered to the monarch by Badí`, a youth of seventeen, who had entreated Bahá'u'lláh for the honour of rendering some service. His efforts won him the crown of martyrdom and immortalized his name. The Tablet contains the celebrated passage describing the circumstances in which the divine call was communicated to Bahá'u'lláh and the effect it produced. Here, too, we find His unequivocal offer to meet with the Muslim clergy, in the presence of the Sháh, and to provide whatever proofs of the new Revelation they might consider to be definitive, a test of spiritual integrity significantly failed by those who claimed to be the authoritative trustees of the message of the Qur'án.
Included in this collection, as well, is the first full translation of the Súriy-i-Mulúk or Súrih of the Kings, which Shoghi Effendi described as ``the most momentous Tablet revealed by Bahá'u'lláh in which He, for the first time, directs His words collectively to the entire company of the monarchs of East and West''. It sets forth both the character of His mission and the standard of justice that must govern the exercise of their rule in this Day of God:
The Tablet introduces some of the great themes that were to figure prominently in the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh over the next two and a half decades: the obligation of those into whose hands God has entrusted civil authority to institute the reign of justice, the necessity for the reduction of armaments and the resolution of conflicts among nations, and an end to the excessive expenditures that were impoverishing these rulers' subjects.
Surveying the principal contents of Bahá'u'lláh's majestic call to the kings and rulers of the world, Shoghi Effendi has written:
The summary draws attention to Bahá'u'lláh's uncompromising indictment of the conditions of human society for which its leadership is held primarily responsible:
In a Tablet, the original of which has been lost, Bahá'u'lláh had already condemned, in the severest terms, the misrule of the Ottoman Sultán `Abdu'l-`Azíz. The present volume includes, however, three other Tablets which address two ministers of the Sultán, whose selfish and unprincipled influence played an important role in Bahá'u'lláh's successive banishments. The Súriy-i-Ra'ís, which addresses `Alí Páshá, the Ottoman Prime Minister, was revealed in August 1868 as the exiles were being moved from Adrianople to Gallipoli, and exposes unsparingly the abuse of civil power the minister had perpetrated. The Lawh-i-Ra'ís, which also contains passages directed to `Alí Páshá, was revealed shortly after Bahá'u'lláh's incarceration in the citadel of `Akká and includes a chilling denunciation of the character of the Minister. The third Tablet, the Lawh-i-Fu'ád, revealed in 1869 shortly after the death of Fu'ád Páshá, the Ottoman Minister to whose machinations it refers, describes the spiritual consequences of the abuse of power, and foretells the imminent downfall of his colleague, `Alí Páshá, and the overthrow of the Sultán himself -- prophecies that were widely circulated and whose dramatic fulfilment added greatly to the prestige of their Author.
It seems especially appropriate, as Bahá'u'lláh's influence penetrates ever more deeply the life of the larger society throughout the world, that the full texts of these great Tablets should now be available for a broad readership. We express to the committees who were commissioned to undertake and review these translations the deep gratitude we feel for the care and sensitivity they have brought to the task. Bahá'ís will recognize key passages from several of the Tablets that were introduced to the West by Shoghi Effendi. His translations into English of the Bahá'í Holy Texts provide an enduring standard for the efforts of those who rise to the challenge of preparing appropriate renderings into English of these treasures of the Faith.
The Universal House of Justice