The Basis of All Civilization
New York: Board of Counsel, 1902
Divine Revelation and not science is the principal power in reforming the world, both morally and spiritually. Among the people, are some who believe that the present condition of the world, which is characterized by an advanced evolution of human powers, a superlative degree of intellectual development, and loftiest attainment in scientific research, does not imply and necessitate the existence of a New Divine Revelation. They reason that in this age there are persons whose high intellects place them in a position of ability to constitute laws, precepts, and ordinances which appeal to the present status of the human mind and through which virtue, this actual condition of the world could be ameliorated and reformed; and thereby the people would be brought nigh unto their Lord, the Creator of heaven and earth. Before endeavoring to refute the absurdity of the foregoing statement. I would like to remind such people, that all knowledge, science and wisdom claimed by them, was originally derived from the Divine Word of God; and if they attribute their power to any other source besides God, that knowledge would prove a failure in their effort to reform the world, for it could have no power within itself to produce the effect claimed for it. For, according to
Aboul Fazl's statement, if we examine carefully the histories of all religions, tribes and sects, since the foundation of the world, whether Sabean, Buddhistic, Brahmanistic, Zoarastrian, Mosaic, Christian or Mohammedan; tracing them back to the utmost limit of research, we will discern that there has been nothing in the world, of more importance or of greater value than the knowledge contained within the Book of God; and that His Divine Word has been the storehouse of all science and wisdom.
Study intelligently the condition of the Arabs before the appearance of Islam, and compare it with their condition afterwards. You will then understand the force of the foregoing statement and be able to draw a clear line of distinction between spiritual knowledge and philosophical speculation concerning the quickening of souls, refinement of manners and habits, and the healing of spiritual diseases.
The Arabs were in close proximity to Greece and Egypt, and although the philosophers of both these countries were learned and cultured men, highly developed intellectually, well equipped and abundantly helped by the civil power of material aids, yet, for centuries they had been unable to civilize the Arabs, who were of the same religion (Sabeans), and who worshipped idols after the same fashion as themselves. This would have been a much easier task than removing
spiritual diseases and healing religious infirmities. But the appearance of the Prophet Mohammed, an illiterate man, was the effectual means of removing these chains of ignorance from their necks, breaking the shackles of traditions, and superstitions from their feet, awakening them from their sleep, and breathing into them a new Spirit and a new life. By him, they were cured, strengthened and enlightened to such an extent that from them, the light of true science and knowledge, the grace and refinement of civilization were spread not only over the Arabian countries, but throughout distant European and Oriental Empires; thus removing and stamping out idolatrous and abominable beliefs and pagan practices from those countries.
If we carefully consider also the conditions of the Israelites before the appearance of Moses; and that of the inhabitants of Europe, before Christ, we will see that both were immersed in a sea of superstition and ignorance; practicing the most heinous, deplorable and abominable crimes, customs, and habits - to wit: sacrificing their children before idols, burying their daughters alive, their respectable high born women disgracing their honor at the shrine of the goddess of Beauty, etc. The philosophers, sages and savants in their midst, esteemed as stars of science and the dawning places of learning and wisdom, could not ameliorate these conditions. History
witnesses how they failed to make the nations abandon even the least of their degraded customs. But after the appearance of those most illustrious Spirits and most glorious lights (Moses and Christ); although they were illiterate and unlearned men, things were immediately changed and renovated; soon the people were extricated from their low conditions, and given a new life. This is a great proof that the establishment of the true religion of God and the promulgation of His Word and utterances for the reformation of the world, morally and spiritually, were due to illiterate men and not to philosophers and scholars. The rod of a Shepard was made to defeat the armies of the giants and notch the swords of the Pharaohs; the fisherman was made a "fisher of men," and an overturner of the thrones of the Ceasars. In like manner, the illiterate camel-driver Mohammed, became a teacher to the Persian philosophers and the descendants of the Khosroes. It is a strong rebuke to the pride of intellect and a clear demonstration of man's helplessness without Divine guidance, that these men, unlearned in the learning of schools and unfamiliar with the acquired sciences, became the dawning-places of the Light of God.
The success which St. Paul met in spreading the religion of God, was based upon his spiritual light, and not upon science or philosophy. Paul
himself in many places in his epistles, has entered an objection to philosophy and the learning of the Greeks. See his Epistle to the Colossians Chap. 2, v. 8, where he writes, "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceits, after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world and not after Christ." See also the 27th verse of the 1st Chap. Of his Epistle to the Corinthians, "But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty." If we should hold before you a word-picture illustrating the present condition of morality and spirituality, you would be looking upon a map of the whole world, especially the so-called civilized countries, overwhelmed by the fathomless ocean of superstitions, fabulous beliefs, chimerical ideas, false teachings, mammon worship, idolatry and heresies; a most heinous, shocking and lamentable state of affairs, in which adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, witchcraft, hatred, murder, drunkenness, reveling, etc., prevailed. At the same time, this map would also represent a boundless region inhabited by people who have attained the highest pitch of science and knowledge; such as philosophers, sages, savants, men of letters, divines, clergy, priests, inventors, discoverers; a land filled with churches,
schools, colleges, universities, etc. Not only that, but you would also see that in the countries science and civilization reign, evil and crime prevail and are more current than in benighted countries.
Under these circumstances, where is the force of science and where is the power of intellect? Why does not the great progress and high development of the mental faculties reform the world and ameliorate the present condition of mankind?
It is because this is not the office of human knowledge nor the function of science; but the office of Divine Knowledge and function of the Word of God.
But when science is combined with the Divine Word of God, great and remarkable results are witnessed; for a scientific without spirituality, is like a nicely dressed soldier in the field of battle, minus arms; and a spiritual man without science, is like an armed and well equipped soldier in the field, lacking the tactics and stratagems of war. A scientific man with spirituality, is indeed a real soldier and a great fighter; a warrior armed with the embroidered garment of gold; a patriot of God, crowned with the diadem of wisdom and real knowledge. This is what Christ meant when He sent His disciples to preach the Gospel to all nations, saying, "Be wise as serpents and meek as doves." This truth was also expressed by one of the Behaist
teachers in New York, in one of his discourses; "mistakes are sometimes more fatal than ignorances," meaning that a spiritual man in endeavoring to spread the cause of God, must be intellectual, in order to avoid mistakes which might injure the success of the Cause.
Consequently, learning alone never brings reformation, harmony or love, but brings instead, contention, dissension and hatred. To this very thing, the Manifestation of God, Beha 'Ullah has referred in Kitab-al-Akdas, when addressing the learned: "O assembly of the learned! When the verses were caused to descend and evidences became manifest, We saw you behind the veils, verily this is naught but an astounding matter. Verily We have rent asunder the veils, beware not to cast over the people, another veil. Break to pieces the chains of imagination in the Name of the Ruler of Mankind, and be not of the deceitful. Work not sedition and judge not the Book of God according to your own desires. Had ye believed in God on His appearance, others would not have turned from Him. Fear God and be not of the heedless! See refuge with God, O assembly of the learned, and make not yourselves as a barrier between Me and My creatures. Beware that ye be not the means of discord throughout the countries, as ye have been the cause of perversion in the beginning of this matter." But to the learned of Beha, whose
knowledge is combined with the Word of God, Beha 'Ullah says: "Blessed are ye, O assembly of the learned of Beha! By God, ye are the waves of the greatest sea; the stars of the heaven of grace; and the banners of victory betwixt the heaven and earth! Ye are the day-springs of uprightness amidst the creatures, and the dawning-places of wisdom to whomsoever is in the contingent world. Blessed are they who come unto you, and woe unto them who turns away. In this Day, it beseemeth every one who hath drunk of the pure wine of life from the hand of grace of his Lord, the Merciful, to be as an artery pulsating in the body of the realm of creation, whereby the world and all dry bones will be shaken."
Now, let us see what is meant by the Word of God, His Inspired Utterances or Divine Revelation.. By this is meant the hidden and secret Knowledge of the Inner Significances of God's Will, which is caused to descend upon the heart of every manifestation of the Command of God, through His Holy Spirit, which takes up its residence therein, and becomes evident in the form of words uttered by His tongue and formulated in His arguments and explanations.
From this clear definition, we see that the Inspired Utterances, the fountains of Divine Wisdom which overflow and gush from the Manifestation, constitute the greatest and highest gift with which God can endow a human spirit.
Inspiration descends upon God's Chosen One, His "Word made Flesh," as rain from the clouds of sanctity. By it the world is made to throw off its old and unclean garment of superstition and adorn itself with the raiment of truth. This inspiration is as the breeze of the spring-time of souls and the fragrance of the morning spreading throughout the world; causing knowledge to be diffused and new life to flow into religions and laws. It is a river flowing from the Day-spring of Wisdom, into the verdant gardens of spirituality; through which the world is cleansed of distress; ignorance and savagery are caused to disappear; civilization and refinement are brought forth.
The Words of God are Spirit and Life. They are permanent and everlasting. Through the Words of God, culture and refinement, true education and the constitution of just and equitable laws can be measured and determined; since His Words are the true foundation for the enlightenment of the nations, the culture of the people, the preservation of the commonwealth and civilization of the world.
Moreover, some of the philosophies, denying the prophets and messengers, have taught that the constitution of laws and religions is entirely of human origin, bearing no relation whatever to the Invisible Divine Will. Yet they believe in the existence of God, although He is nothing
more to them than a mere intellectual conception; an entirely imaginary and unknowable Being. Among these philosophers, are some who have gone so far as to deny the essence of God the Most High, thus giving themselves over to a belief which ignores the Cause underlying nature. Some of them are entirely heedless of the Divine and Victorious Power of God, deluded by the vain premises of science and philosophy; premises without effect, as lightning without rain. Thus have they gone far into the desert of material sciences and beliefs, until they have imagined that through the power of mere human knowledge, they, poor, weak, deluded souls, could constitute laws (ethical codes) and establish religions evolved from their own unsteady and powerless minds. In this way, have arisen pretenders announcing missions, laying claim to the high station of prophets and the constitution of Divine Laws, as is clearly testified to by history. Such philosophers confirm the people in their superstitions, instead of enlightening them; feed them upon stones instead of the bread from heaven; and bring them to rely upon their own lifeless doctrines and theories as a poor substitute for living truth. Thus, many societies have been organized, especially in the past two centuries, which deny all the prophets, scoff at all religions, ridicule all spiritual authority, and disapprove of all religious rites, ceremonies, and worship. The
awful mischief which has resulted, is well known to people of intelligence and understanding. This very thing is referred to in the Epistles of the Apostle Peter.
In the stories of Mazadakeat in the time of Khosroe, Kabad Saad, Eddoulet, El-Yahoodi (a Jew), Argon Khan El-Mogali in Persia, Alai Edeen El-Khalji in Hindoostan, and of the philosophers in France during the revolution of 1792, we find warning examples to the people of understanding and admonition to the people of the Book, as to the sad results of such claims. These philosophers, sages, kings, and rulers have imagined that through their wide knowledge and science, and through their power and influence, they could found religions conformable to reason and in keeping with the enlightenment of the times; that they could establish laws and rites more felicitous, simple and effective in the training and education of souls, the reformation of manners and morals, and the promotion of the happiness of mankind; that they could improve upon those established by the prophets of God. In those stormy periods, circumstances were favorable to their designs, as the acknowledged leaders of the people and the commanders of the armies were under the complete dominion of their theories and opinions. But God brought their schemes to naught, destroyed their works, disordered their affairs, scattered their societies
and parties, disbanded their armies, and paralyzed their pens to such an extent, that the story of the calamities and disasters which overtook them and what resulted from their efforts, is a terrible warning to others who would attempt to accomplish similar aims. Now to prove the reality of what has been said herein, that the source of all the knowledge, wisdom and science which the people claim for themselves, is from God alone, we quote the words of Beha 'Ullah (May His Name be Glorified), in reference to this very point.
In a Tablet known by the name of "Tablet of Wisdom" (Lawh i-Kikmat), which was revealed by Beha 'Ullah to one of the greatest learned people and most prominent of the Believers in Persia, He says: "Say, El-Beyan is an essence which seeks penetration and uniformity; the former is dependent upon thinness, and thinness belongs to empty and clear hearts; and the latter is dependent upon being blended with wisdom, which we have revealed in the Books and Tablets."
"Reflect upon that which was caused to be descend from the heaven of the Will of the Lord, the Bountiful, that thou mayest know what we have desired in the depths of the verses."
"Verily those who have desired God and adhered unto nature, as nature is, are indeed void of both science and wisdom. Are they not of the erring? Verily those people have never attained
unto the highest station or unto the utmost desire; accordingly their eyes were shut and their thoughts varied. Had it not been for that, the chiefs of the people would have confessed in God and acknowledged His dominion. To this will bear witness thy Lord, the Protector, the Self-existent. And when the eyes of the people of the East became satisfied and gratified through the arts, crafts and industries of the people of the West, they have adhered to the effects and neglected the Causer and Originator.
However, those who were the Day-springs of Wisdom had never denied the Causer, the Maker, and the Creator of the Origin of such progress and advancement. Verily the Lord knoweth; but the majority of the people do not know."
"Under these circumstances, it will be advisable to mention in this Tablet, some of words of the wise people and savants, for the sake of God, the Ruler of Names, that through such words, the eyes of the servants may be opened and they may thus believe that He is the Maker, the Potent, the Originator, the Pardoner, the All-knowing, the Wise. Although it is known at present that the savants of today have been the most important organs and means in the success and progress of arts and science, yet, if with a discerning eye such matters are examined and investigated, it will positively appear that the greatest part of knowledge and arts was taken
from the savants of old, who were indeed the means of laying down the solid foundation of wisdom, facilitating its building and strengthening its basis, Thus doth thy Lord, the Ancient, inform thee.
Not only that, but also the ancients have received their science from the prophets, who were the Day-springs of the Divine Wisdom and the Manifestations of the heavenly mysteries.
From amongst the people, some have attained unto pure and clear water of their utterances, and others have only drunk the sediments of the cup; everyone receiving his share according to his own capacity. Verily he is the Equitable, the Wise.
Apudaklis, who was famous in wisdom , was a contemporary of David. Pythagoras, a contemporary of Solomon, Son of David, received wisdom from the Source of Wisdom (Solomon). He was the one who thought that he had heard the rustling sound of the ark, and thus had attained unto the Station of Authority.
Thus doth thy Lord, if He will, detail every matter. Verily He is the Omniscient, the Encompasser.
Verily, the foundation and origin of wisdom were the prophets themselves; but the inner significations and mysteries of wisdom became diversified according to the differences of vision and reasoning power of people. We will inform
thee of a report of a day whereon one of the Prophets hath spoken amongst the people, of that which was taught by the Powerful. Verily, thy Lord is the Inspirer, the Mighty, the Impregnable. When the springs of wisdom and utterance gushed forth from the Source of His explanation, and the exhilaration of the wine of knowledge took possession of those who were standing at His door, they said, "Now we are filled with the Spirit." From amongst the people, some have accepted this statement and found, according to their assumption, the odor of the indwelling and influx of the spirit within them; inferring this from different statements and various utterances. Thus they became leaders followed by a certain party of people.
Verily, should We wish to mention their names and give all which concerns them in full detail, it would take a long time and cause Us to deviate from the intended point of view. Verily thy Lord is the Wise, the All-knowing.
And from amongst them, some others have drunk the sealed wine which was opened by the Key of the Tongue of the Day-spring of the signs of thy Lord, the Mighty, the Bounteous.
Say, philosophers have never denied the Ancient; rather the majority of them passed from this life in deep grief because of not knowing Him, as it was testified by some of them. Verily thy Lord is the Informer, the Learned One.
Consider Hippocrates! He was one of the greatest philosophers; yet he believed in God and acknowledged His Dominion.
After him came Socrates. He was a wise, virtuous and devout man. He devoted his life to developing spirituality, admonishing the people to shun passion and lust, setting aside the seductions of the world, secluding himself in a cave in a mountain and prohibiting the people from worshipping idols. He taught them the ways of the Merciful, until at last, the ignorant ones assailed him, took him, and slew him in a prison. Thus also doth the Swift Pen relate to thee what a clean and acute sight that mad had in philosophy! Verily he was the Master of philosophy and a very wise man.
We do testify that he was the Knight of Wisdom whereto he became a steady and permanent servant, thus rendering a more important service than any other one. He was an able man and had a thorough knowledge of all the sciences of that day, as known amongst the people; and also of that which was hidden and beyond the limit of their knowledge. He had, as it were, a sip of this Greatest Sea, when It overflowed with this Pure and brilliant water. He is the one who became acquainted with the specific and uniform nature which is characterized by predominance and is indeed a thing more similar than all other things, to the human spirit; and
which Socrates produced from the inner body. Upon this strong and compact matter, he gave special comments, which if the savants of today were asked to demonstrate, they would prove incapable even in comprehending them. Verily thy Lord sayeth the Truth, but the majority of people do not understand.
After Socrates came the divine Plato. Verily he was the disciple of Socrates and sat upon the chair of wisdom after him. He confessed his faith in God and His Signs, which are the guardians over that which was and is. Then came Aristotle, the famous wise man. He was the one who discovered the power of steam. All these were of the chiefs and leaders of the people; all of them have confessed in God and acknowledged the Ancient, in whose grasp the reins of science are held. I will also mention unto thee that which was said by Baleenos, who was conversant with what Abou-el-Hikmat (the Father of Wisdom, Socrates) had said regarding the mysteries of creation, in his Tablets Ey-Zabarjid-diat (Chrysolite); that all may become assured of what we have revealed unto thee in this Illustrious Tablet; and which, if pressed with the hands of justice and knowledge, would give vent to the Spirit of Life for the quickening of whomsoever is in the contingent world. Blessed is he who swims in this Sea and praises God, the Mighty, the Beloved.
The fragrances of inspiration hath been diffused from the verses of thy Lord in such a manner, that they could not be ignored by any one save by him who is deprived of hearing, sight, reason and all human senses. Verily thy Lord testifieth but the people do not know. He was the One who said, "I am Baleenos the Wise, a performer of miracles and charms." He is the one by whom arts and sciences were spread, such as have not been produced by any other one. He was the one who ascended to the heights of humility and supplications. Hearken unto that which he said in his prayers before the Independent, the Exalted, "I arise between the hands of my Lord; mentioning His favors and bounties and describing Him as that whereof He describeth Himself, that I may be a mercy and guidance to those who accept my words." He also continues, saying, "O Lord Thou art the God and there is no God but Thee. O Lord Thou art the Creator and there is no Creator but Thee. Strengthen me and uphold Thou me; for my heart is trembling, my limbs are shivering, my mind is lost, and my reason is extinguished. Therefore give me power and let my tongue speak, that I may utter that which is wisdom. Thou art the Omniscient, the Wise, the Ancient, the Compassionate. Verily, he was the sage who became conversant with the mysteries of Creation and with the signs and tokens which were hidden in the Tablets of Hermos.
Verily We do not desire to mention more than We have done; rather We say that which the Spirit hath imparted unto My heart. There is no God but He, the All-knowing, the Mighty, the Protector, the Powerful, the Extolled. By My Life! This is a day wherein the Sadrat doth not desire but to utter to the world, "There is no God but Me, the Peerless, the Informed." Had it not been for My love unto thee, I would not have said a word of that which has been said. Know, therefore, this station; then keep it as thou keepest thy own eyes and be grateful.
Thou indeed knowest that We have never read the books of the people or ever become conversant with what they know of science; but whenever we wish to mention anything concerning the utterances of the learned and wise, that which is in existence and that which books and tablets contain, becomes manifest before the face of thy Lord in a clear tablet wherefrom We see and then write what we see.
Verily His knowledge encompasseth the heavens and earth. This is a tablet wherein is written by the Hidden Pen, the Science of what was and is, whereof there has been no interpreter save My Wonderful Tongue.
As to what My heart is and the concerns thereof, God hath assuredly made it free from all conceptions of the learned, and pure from all utterances of the Sages. Verily it speaketh of God
alone. The tongue of Greatness bears witness thereof in this clear Book.
Say, O people of the earth, beware lest the mention of wisdom withhold you from the Day-spring and the Dawning-place thereof. Cling to your Lord, the Protector, the Wise. Verily we have ordained unto every land a destiny; unto every hour, a fate; unto every utterance, a time; unto every circumstance, a word.
Consider the case of Greece! Verily we have made it the center of wisdom for a long period; but when the time of its end came, its throne became leveled, its tongue silenced, its lamp extinct, and its standard reversed. Thus we give and take away. Verily, thy Lord is the Taker, the Giver, the Mighty, the Potent.
We have committed to the charge of every land, the Sun of Knowledge, so that when the time has come, from it will beam a command upon the part of God, the All-Knowing, the Wise. Should we wish to enumerate unto thee every tract of land in the earth; that which is therein and what has appeared out of it - verily we should be able to do so; for the knowledge of thy Lord hath indeed encompassed the earth and heavens.
Then know that the Ancients produced that which the modern sages have not produced.
Among those sages, was Martos, who had invented a machine to convey sounds at a distance
at 60 miles (at the time this Tablet was written, telephones had not been invented).
Not only he, but also some others, discovered many wonderful things such as the people of this time never saw. Verily, thy Lord maketh appear in every century, that which He desireth as a Wisdom upon His part. He is indeed the Controller, the Wise.
He who is a true philosopher, never denies God and His evidences; rather acknowledges His Greatness and His Authority, which is the protection against all the world.
In truth, We love sages from who appeared that by which the people have profited, and We have upheld them by a command upon Our part.
Verily, We are able to do this.
Beware, O ye My beloved, lest ye deny the supremacy of My Sages, the servants whom God hath made the Day-springs of His Name, the Creator, amidst the worlds.
Make every effort within your power, that out of you may appear arts and the things whereby everyone, whether young or old, profiteth.
Verily, We are quit of those foolish and ignorant ones who think that Wisdom is confined to speaking of desires and passions, or to turning away from God, the Lord of the worlds; as we hear the same today declared by those who are heedless.
Say, the beginning of wisdom and its origin, is to confess and acknowledge that which God has made manifest; because through it, order has
been firmly established and has thus become a coat of mail for the preservation of the body of the world. Ponder over this, that ye may know what has been uttered by My Supreme Pen in this Magnificent Tablet.
Say, everything that relates to order or rule, of which ye debate and discuss, has been derived from every word of the words which have been revealed by the Might of His utterance; Who is Potent, the Impregnable.
Thus We have related upon thee that which will gladden thy heart and console thine eye, that thou mayest arise with steadfastness, to serve the cause amongst the people of the world.
Say, Praise by to Thee O God, my God; I ask Thee by Thy Name whereby the Light of Wisdom shone forth when the atmosphere of His utterances moved amongst creatures, to strengthen me by Thy powers and make me commemorate Thy Name in the midst of Thy servants.
O God, I have turned my face unto Thee, cutting myself from aught beside Thee, and taking hold of the hem of The Garment of Thy Bounty. Cause me therefore, to utter that which will draw the minds and make the souls and spirits soar upwards. Then uphold me in Thy Cause, in such wise that I may not be impeded either by the influence of the oppressors, or by the power of the unbelievers of the inhabitants of Thy Kingdom. Make me as a lamp in the midst of Thy Realm, which will guide all those in whose hearts the light of Thy knowledge doth exist, and in whom the excess of Thy love is planted.
Verily Thou art the powerful over that which Thou willest and in Thy grasp is the is the kingdom of creation. There is no God but Thee.