Allusion to Progressive Revelation in Persian HW #77
O SON OF JUSTICE!
In the night-season the beauty of the immortal Being hath repaired from the
emerald height of fidelity unto the Sadratu'l-Muntahá, and wept with
such a weeping that the concourse on high and the dwellers of the realms above
wailed at His lamenting. Whereupon there was asked, Why the wailing and
weeping? He made reply: As bidden I waited expectant upon the hill of
faithfulness, yet inhaled not from them that dwell on earth the fragrance of
fidelity. Then summoned to return I beheld, and lo! certain doves of holiness
were sore tried within the claws of the dogs of earth. Thereupon the Maid of
heaven hastened forth unveiled and resplendent from Her mystic mansion, and
asked of their names, and all were told but one. And when urged, the first
letter thereof was uttered, whereupon the dwellers of the celestial chambers
rushed forth out of their habitation of glory. And whilst the second letter was
pronounced they fell down, one and all, upon the dust. At that moment a voice
was heard from the inmost shrine: "Thus far and no farther." Verily We bear
witness to that which they have done and now are doing.
--- Bahá'u'lláh, (The Hidden Words of
The statement that introduces this famously abstruse passage quoted in full by
Shoghi Effendi in paragraph 45 of "The Dispensation of
his awe inspiring exposition of the fundamental
verities of the Bahá'í Faith, provides an unmistakable clue to
its general yet most significant meaning. "Might not [this]... passage of the
Hidden Words ," the Guardian suggests, " be...construed as an allegorical
allusion to the progressiveness of Divine Revelation and an admission by its
Author that the Message with which He has been entrusted is not the final and
ultimate expression of the will and guidance of the Almighty?" (The World
Order of Bahá'u'lláh
"Does not Bahá'u'lláh Himself," he asks, referring to his same
passage in an earlier letter to the Bahá'ís of the United States
and Canada, "allude to the progressiveness of Divine Revelation and to the
limitations which an inscrutable Wisdom has chosen to impose upon Him? What
else can this passage of the Hidden Words imply, if not that He Who revealed it
disclaimed finality for the Revelation entrusted to Him by the Almighty?" (60)
Progressive Revelation is among the fundamental verities of the
Bahá'í Faith the elucidation of which is the primary purpose
underlying "The Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh".
affirms the reality of this "great and essential truth lying at the very core"
of Bahá'u'lláh's message to mankind in this opening of the
statement prepared by him in 1948 for the United Nations Special Palestine
"The fundamental principle enunciated by
Bahá'u'lláh ... is that religious truth is not absolute but
relative, that Divine Revelation is a continuous and progressive process, that
all the great religions of the world are divine in origin, that their basic
principles are in complete harmony, that their aims and purposes are one and
the same, that their teachings are but facets of one truth, that their
functions are complementary, that they differ only in the nonessential aspects
of their doctrines, and that their missions represent successive stages in the
spiritual evolution of human society....
....His mission is to proclaim that the ages of the infancy and of the
childhood of the human race are past, that the convulsions associated with the
present stage of its adolescence are slowly and painfully preparing it to
attain the stage of manhood, and are heralding the approach of that Age of Ages
when swords will be beaten into plowshares, when the Kingdom promised by Jesus
Christ will have been established, and the peace of the planet definitely and
permanently ensured. Nor does Bahá'u'lláh claim finality for His
own Revelation, but rather stipulates that a fuller measure of the truth He has
been commissioned by the Almighty to vouchsafe to humanity, at so critical a
juncture in its fortunes, must needs be disclosed at future stages in the
constant and limitless evolution of mankind.
(see Preface to Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day is Come,
In discussing the Tablet of the Holy Mariner
John Hatcher observes that,
"While Shoghi Effendi's statement about the overall significance of the Tablet
... may give us a general sense of what the work is about, we are still left
with the problem of figuring out how
the tablet conveys this meaning
through allegory." (The Ocean of His Words
135) We are indeed fortunate
to to have the Beloved Guardian's authoritative interpretation of this passage
from the Hidden Words
, yet the meaning of each verse and its
relationship to the root principle of Progressive Revelation is not obvious.
A thorough examination of each phrase of Persian Hidden Words #77
enable us to begin to "unravel its secrets, and discover all the pearls of
wisdom that lie hid in its depths. (The Kitab-i-Aqdas
I. "O Son of Justice!"
On numerous occasions Bahá'u'lláh counsels us as in the in
to "judge fairly"
contemplating the truth of His words. "Look upon this Wronged One,"
writes in the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, "...with the eyes of justice;
judge thou, then, with truth concerning what hath befallen Him."
"This Wronged One,"
He subsequently declares in that same Book, "hath
produced for thee that which causeth every fair-minded man to marvel. Judge
fairly, I adjure thee, and arise to serve thy Lord."
(76) "Say: I,
He declares in another Tablet, "have not sought to extol Mine
Own Self, but rather God Himself were ye to judge fairly. Naught can be seen in
Me except God and His Cause, could ye but perceive it".
II. "In the night-season the beauty of the immortal Being hath repaired
from the emerald height of fidelity unto the
The attributes of a day appear in many powerful metaphors that represent
aspects of the cycle of Divine Revelation. "The spiritual cycles of the Sun
states, "are like the cycles
of the material sun: they are always revolving and being renewed."
The life cycle of each Dispensation can be represented by the passage of the
"Sun of Truth"
the "Day Star",
through various stages of the
The advent of each revelation is often indicated as the
, the appearance of the "light of Divine Revelation"
above the "Horizon of God's Will";
midday, its "Zenith"
revelation is manifested in its utmost splendor and "its setting point"
followed by "the night-season"
the period preceding the next
"Ages have passed and centuries rolled away,"
Bahá'u'lláh in the Kitáb-i-Iqán
similar language to describe
the winter of the Muhammadan
Dispensation, "and that most pure Spirit hath repaired unto the retreats of
its ancient sovereignty."
Noting the necessity of this final stage Bahá'u'lláh
subsequently reveals in that same Book: "For the break of the morn of divine
guidance must needs follow the darkness of the night of error. For this reason,
in all chronicles and traditions reference hath been made unto these things,
namely that iniquity shall cover the surface of the earth and darkness shall
"God leaves not His children comfortless,"
's assurance, "but, when the darkness of
overshadows them, then again He sends His Messengers, the
Prophets, with a renewal of the blessed spring. The Sun of Truth appears again
on the horizon of the world shining into the eyes of those who sleep, awaking
them to behold the glory of a new dawn. Then again will the tree of humanity
blossom and bring forth the fruit of righteousness for the healing of the
nations. Because man has stopped his ears to the Voice of Truth and
his eyes to the Sacred Light, neglecting the Law of God, for this reason has
the darkness of war and tumult, unrest and misery, desolated the earth.
"After every night there is a morn,"
we are further reassured by
'Abdu'l-Bahá . "In the supreme wisdom of God it is decreed that when
the gross darkness of religious hatred and hostility, the obscurity of
religious ignorance, superstition and blind imitations cover the world, the Sun
shall arise and the spirit of reality become manifest and
reflected in human hearts."
(The Promulgation of Universal Peace
"Sadratu'l-Muntahá, in this passage," Adib Taherzadeh referring
to Persian Hidden Words #77
explains, "literally means the tree beyond
which there is no passing...This term which has been used by
Bahá'u'lláh in many of His Writings is, in one sense, the symbol
of the station of the Manifestation of God, a station which is beyond the reach
and understanding of men." (The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh -
182) "The Manifestations of God," he notes in a related discussion,
"by virtue of the Holy Spirit which animates Them, dwell in a kingdom of Their
own far above the world of humanity and dominate the destiny of mankind.
Though basically human, They abide in the realms of the Spirit beyond the reach
of man." (3)
In conclusion of this section, the "beauty of the immortal Being"
Persian Hidden Words #77
might refer to this aspect of the
Manifestations of God who during their Dispensation are seated on the throne of
sovereignty, the "emerald height of fidelity"
guiding the destiny of
mankind through the power, agency, of the Holy Spirit until such time as their
Dispensation is completed when they "repair...unto the
III. "... and wept with such a weeping that the concourse on high and the
dwellers of the realms above wailed at His lamenting."
Bahá'u'lláh describes elsewhere a similar scene from a
dream He had during the last years of His sojourn in Baghdád. "I
He wrote in a Tablet, "the Prophets and the Messengers gather and
seat themselves around Me, moaning, weeping and loudly lamenting. Amazed, I
inquired of them the reason, whereupon their lamentation and weeping waxed
greater, and they said unto me: 'We weep for Thee, O Most Great
O Tabernacle of Immortality!' They wept with such a weeping that I too wept
with them. Thereupon the Concourse on high addressed Me saying: '...Erelong
shalt Thou behold with Thine own eyes what no Prophet hath beheld.... Be
patient, be patient.'...
(God Passes By
IV. "Whereupon there was asked, Why the wailing and weeping? He made
reply: As bidden I waited expectant upon the hill of faithfulness, yet inhaled
not from them that dwell on earth the fragrance of fidelity."
In Some Answered Questions
period of winter in the spiritual cycle of Divine Revelation as follows:
"Attraction and goodwill do not remain, divine qualities are changed, the
radiance of hearts is dimmed, the spirituality of souls is altered, virtues are
replaced by vices, and holiness and purity disappear. Only the name of the
Religion of God remains, and the exoteric forms of the divine teachings. The
foundations of the Religion of God are destroyed and annihilated, and nothing
but forms and customs exist. Divisions appear, firmness is changed into
instability, and spirits become dead; hearts languish, souls become inert, and
winter arrives--that is to say, the coldness of ignorance envelops the world,
and the darkness of human error prevails. After this come indifference,
disobedience, inconsiderateness, indolence, baseness, animal instincts and the
coldness and insensibility of stones."
Such is the state of the world at the time each Manifestation appears. "Indeed,
were sincere seekers to be found," is Bahá'u'lláh's lamentation,
"every emanation of God's pervasive and irresistible Will would, for the sake
of His love, be revealed. But where are to be found earnest seekers and
inquiring minds? Whither are gone the equitable and the fair-minded? At present
no day passeth without the fire of a fresh tyranny blazing fiercely, or the
sword of a new aggression being unsheathed. (Tablets of
Note the unmistakable identity shared by Persian Hidden Words #77
and the following excerpts from the Tablet of the Holy
the theme of which is "the story of the Covenant and man's
unfaithfulness to it." (The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh - vol
"...Thereupon she [the maid of heaven] summoned
unto herself one maiden from her handmaidens,
V. "... Then summoned to return I beheld, and lo! certain doves of
holiness were sore tried within the claws of the dogs of earth."
...And commanded her: `Descend into space from the mansions of eternity,
...And turn thou unto that which they have concealed in the inmost of their
"... When she reached that place she rose to her full height in the midmost
heart of creation,
... And sought to inhale their fragrance at a time that knoweth neither
beginning nor end.
...She found not in them that which she did desire, and this, verily, is
but one of His wondrous tales.
... She then cried aloud, wailed and repaired to her own station within her
most lofty mansion,
... And then gave utterance to one mystic word, whispered privily by her
...And raised the call amidst the Celestial Concourse and the immortal maids
By the Lord! I found not from these idle claimants the breeze of Faithfulness!
(Bahá'í Prayers 221)
The "doves of holiness
", Hamámát-I-Qudsi, often a
metaphor that alludes to the Manifestations of God , Mazhar Amr'u'lláh
(see the Persian text "Shesh Hezar Loghat"
ie. "Six Thousand Words" 156)
are violently, deeply subjected to severe trials by Their enemies.
Bahá'u'lláh refers to Himself in like manner as "this Wronged
One, Who hath been sore-tried in the hands of the workers of iniquity."
(The Advent of Divine Justice
Bahá'u'lláh testifies more explicitly to the historical
mistreatment of God's Manifestations in the following passage: "Thou hast
known how grievously the Prophets of God, His Messengers and Chosen Ones, have
been afflicted. Meditate a while on the motive and reason which have been
responsible for such a persecution. At no time, in no Dispensation, have the
Prophets of God escaped the blasphemy of their enemies, the cruelty of their
oppressors, the denunciation of the learned of their age, who appeared in the
guise of uprightness and piety. Day and night they passed through such agonies
as none can ever measure, except the knowledge of the one true God, exalted be
His glory." "Consider this wronged One"
He continues. "Though the
clearest proofs attest the truth of His Cause...yet, behold how this generation
hath rejected His authority, and rebelled against Him! He hath, during the
greater part of His life, been sore-tried in the clutches of His enemies. His
sufferings have now reached their culmination in this afflictive Prison, into
which His oppressors have so unjustly thrown Him."
VI. "... Thereupon the Maid of Heaven hastened forth, unveiled,
and resplendent, from Her mystic mansion, and asked of their names, and
all were told but one."
Adib Taherzadeh notes, "In the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, He has
used the 'Maid of Heaven' to refer to Himself or to one of the attributes of
God, and sometimes as the personification of the 'Most Great Spirit'. (The
Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh - vol 1
Shoghi Effendi describes Bahá'u'lláh's experience in the
Siyah-Chal as follows: "It was on that occasion that the "Most Great Spirit,"
as designated by Bahá'u'lláh Himself, revealed itself to Him, in
the form of a "Maiden," and bade Him "lift up" His "voice between earth and
heaven." (Messages to America
The following excerpt from Miracles and
important clue: "Therefore," Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl, speaking of the
function of figurative language, explains, "the prophets have indulged the
people in regard to their historical notions, folk stories, and scientific
principles, and have spoken to them according to these. They conversed as was
appropriate to their audience and hid certain realities behind the curtain of
allusion. They secluded the holy maidens of meaning in the palaces of sacred
verses, veiling them in eloquent metaphors. (9)
It follows that the "names"
mentioned in this section from Persian
Hidden Words #77
might represent the Message associated with each of the
Prophets. The Maid of Heaven asking "of their names" would then correspond to
her bidding Bahá'u'lláh "lift up" His "voice between earth and
Concerning the "name" that is not disclosed, `Abdul-Bahá explains,
"This great name is the Greatest Name. The Blessed Beauty is intended.
, from a Tablet -- translated from the Persian)
VII. "And when urged, the first letter thereof was uttered, whereupon the
dwellers of the celestial chambers rushed forth out of their habitation of
"O My servants!"
Bahá'u'lláh likewise proclaims in another
Tablet. "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.
in the following passages from the Tablet of the
Holy Mariner:" She then uttered within herself such a cry that the Celestial
Concourse did shriek and tremble,..." "Thereupon the maids of heaven hastened
forth from their chambers, upon whose countenances the eye of no dweller in the
highest paradise had ever gazed." (Bahá'í Prayers
VIII. " And whilst the second letter was pronounced they fell
down, one and all, upon the dust. "
Bahá'u'lláh, in another related passage, reveals the following:
"And when this process of progressive Revelation culminated in the stage at
which His peerless, His most sacred, and exalted Countenance was to be unveiled
to men's eyes, He chose to hide His own Self behind a thousand veils, lest
profane and mortal eyes discover His glory... And when the set time of
concealment was fulfilled, We sent forth, whilst still wrapt within a myriad
veils, an infinitesimal glimmer of the effulgent Glory enveloping the Face of
the Youth, and lo, the entire company of the dwellers of the Realms above were
seized with violent commotion and the favored of God fell down in adoration
Concerning the "two letters mentioned," Adib Taherzadeh writes, "according to
's interpretation, [they] are B and H of the word
Bahá. This means that only two letters out of three (B, H and A) have
been revealed in this Dispensation, that the full significance and potency of
the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh which have been symbolically
contained within the three letters of His name, have not been disclosed to
mankind and that only a limited measure of His light and glory has been shed
upon humanity in this age." (The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh -
This is affirmed in letter written on behalf of the Guardian: "these two
letters -- the first and the second -- refer to the blessed Name of the Ancient
Beauty, namely B and H. What is intended by Bahá'u'lláh is this:
that which is latent and enshrined within the inmost reality of these three
letters has not been revealed, inasmuch as the world of being still does not
possess the capacity and receptiveness to reflect fully the glorious radiance
of this divine Revelation. Thus whatever is hidden in the inmost essence of the
third letter of His blessed Name will gradually be unfolded before the eyes of
all men." (From a letter dated 27 August 1933 written on behalf of Shoghi
Effendi to an individual believer -- translated from the Persian)
As Shoghi Effendi notes in The Dispensation of
: "In a more explicit language
Bahá'u'lláh testifies to this truth in one of His Tablets
revealed in Adrianople: "Know verily that the veil hiding Our
countenance hath not been completely lifted. We have revealed Our Self
to a degree corresponding to the capacity of the people of Our age. Should the
Ancient Beauty be unveiled in the fullness of His glory mortal eyes would be
blinded by the dazzling intensity of His revelation."
(The World Order
The following excerpt from an explanatory note accompanying
Bahá'u'lláh's Most holy Book provides further insight: "Not until
twenty years from the birth of His Prophetic Mission in the
Síyáh-Chál of Tihrán had elapsed did
Bahá'u'lláh reveal the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, the Repository of
the laws of His Dispensation. Even after its revelation the Aqdas was withheld
by Him for some time before it was sent to the friends in Persia. This divinely
purposed delay in the revelation of the basic laws of God for this age, and the
subsequent gradual implementation of their provisions, illustrate the principle
of progressive revelation which applies even within the ministry of each
IX. "At that moment a voice was heard from the inmost shrine: 'Thus far
and no farther.'"
Shoghi Effendi is referring specifically to this phrase when he writes: "Does
not Bahá'u'lláh Himself, allude to the progressiveness of Divine
Revelation and to the limitations which an inscrutable Wisdom has chosen to
impose upon Him?" (The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh
In this connection, Bahá'u'lláh reveals the following:
"Contemplate with thine inward eye, the chain of successive
Revelations that hath linked the Manifestation of Adam with that of the
Báb... The measure of the Revelation with which every one of them hath
been identified had been definitely fore-ordained. This, verily, is a token of
Our favor unto them, if ye be of those that comprehend this truth...."
"The Revelation of which I am the bearer,"
explicitly declares, "is adapted to humanity's spiritual
receptiveness and capacity; otherwise, the Light that shines within me
can neither wax nor wane. Whatever I manifest is nothing more or less than the
measure of the Divine glory which God has bidden me reveal."
Order of Bahá'u'lláh
X. "Verily We bear witness to that which they have done and now are
writes: "When considering the identity of the
Name which at that time was not fully divulged, thou wilt readily see what
unspeakable cruelties the company of the faithless perpetrated and what
misdeeds they committed. No injury did they spare and no harm did they fail to
inflict. With the sword of unyielding cruelty they cut this Wronged Body to
pieces. This is clear and evident to everyone."
, from a Tablet -- translated from the Persian)
The following passages revealed by Bahá'u'lláh and quoted
by the Guardian in The Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh
further testify to this undeniable truth:
"Praise be to Thee, O Lord my God, for the wondrous revelations of Thine
inscrutable decree and the manifold woes and trials Thou hast destined for
myself. At one time Thou didst deliver me into the hands of Nimrod; at another
Thou hast allowed Pharaoh's rod to persecute me. Thou alone canst estimate,
through Thine all-encompassing knowledge and the operation of Thy Will, the
incalculable afflictions I have suffered at their hands. Again Thou didst cast
me into the prison-cell of the ungodly for no reason except that I was moved to
whisper into the ears of the well-favored denizens of Thy kingdom an intimation
of the vision with which Thou hadst, through Thy knowledge, inspired me and
revealed to me its meaning through the potency of Thy might. And again Thou
didst decree that I be beheaded by the sword of the infidel. Again I was
crucified for having unveiled to men's eyes the hidden gems of Thy glorious
unity, for having revealed to them the wondrous signs of Thy sovereign and
everlasting power. How bitter the humiliations heaped upon me, in a subsequent
age, on the plain of Kárbilá! How lonely did I feel amidst Thy
people; to what state of helplessness I was reduced in that land! Unsatisfied
with such indignities, my persecutors decapitated me and carrying aloft my head
from land to land paraded it before the gaze of the unbelieving multitude and
deposited it on the seats of the perverse and faithless. In a later age I was
suspended and my breast was made a target to the darts of the malicious cruelty
of my foes. My limbs were riddled with bullets and my body was torn asunder.
Finally, behold how in this day my treacherous enemies have leagued themselves
against me, and are continually plotting to instill the venom of hate and
malice into the souls of Thy servants. With all their might they are scheming
to accomplish their purpose... Grievous as is my plight, O God, my
Well-beloved, I render thanks unto Thee, and my spirit is grateful for
whatsoever hath befallen me in the path of Thy good-pleasure. I am well pleased
with that which Thou didst ordain for me, and welcome, however calamitous, the
pains and sorrows I am made to suffer."
In closing, consider the following passage from Gleanings
veiled in imagery remarkably similar to that of Persian Hidden Words #77
affirms "the reality of the great and essential truth lying at the very
core of His Message to mankind" (The World Order of
Say: The Revelation sent down by God hath most surely been
repeated, and the outstretched Hand of Our power hath overshadowed all that are
in the heavens and all that are on the earth. We have, through the power of
truth, the very truth, manifested an infinitesimal glimmer of Our impenetrable
Mystery, and lo, they that have recognized the radiance of the Sinaic splendor
expired, as they caught a lightening glimpse of this Crimson Light enveloping
the Sinai of Our Revelation. Thus hath He Who is the Beauty of the All-Merciful
come down in the clouds of His testimony, and the decree accomplished by virtue
of the Will of God, the All-Glorious, the All-Wise.
Say: Step out of Thy holy chamber, O Maid of Heaven, inmate of the Exalted
Paradise! Drape thyself in whatever manner pleaseth Thee in the silken Vesture
of Immortality, and put on, in the name of the All-Glorious, the broidered Robe
of Light. Hear, then, the sweet, the wondrous accent of the Voice that cometh
from the Throne of Thy Lord, the Inaccessible, the Most High. Unveil Thy face,
and manifest the beauty of the black-eyed Damsel, and suffer not the servants
of God to be deprived of the light of Thy shining countenance. Grieve not if
Thou hearest the sighs of the dwellers of the earth, or the voice of the
lamentation of the denizens of heaven. Leave them to perish on the dust of
extinction. Let them be reduced to nothingness, inasmuch as the flame of hatred
hath been kindled within their breasts. Intone, then, before the face of the
peoples of earth and heaven, and in a most melodious voice, the anthem of
praise, for a remembrance of Him Who is the King of the names and attributes of
God. Thus have We decreed Thy destiny. Well able are We to achieve Our purpose.
Beware that Thou divest not Thyself, Thou Who art the Essence of Purity, of
Thy robe of effulgent glory. Nay, enrich Thyself increasingly, in the kingdom
of creation, with the incorruptible vestures of Thy God, that the beauteous
image of the Almighty may be reflected through Thee in all created things and
the grace of Thy Lord be infused in the plenitude of its power into the entire
If Thou smellest from any one the smell of the love of Thy Lord, offer up
Thyself for him, for We have created Thee to this end, and have with Thee, from
time immemorial, and in the presence of the congregation of Our well-favored
ones, for this very purpose. Be not impatient if the blind in heart hurl down
the shafts of their idle fancies upon Thee. Leave them to themselves, for they
follow the promptings of the evil ones.
Cry out before the gaze of the dwellers of heaven and of earth: I am the
Maid of Heaven, the Offspring begotten by the Spirit of Bahá.. My
habitation is the Mansion of His Name, the All-Glorious. Before the Concourse
on high I was adorned with the ornament of His names. I was wrapt within the
veil of an inviolable security, and lay hidden from the eyes of men. Methinks
that I heard a Voice of divine and incomparable sweetness, proceeding from the
right hand of the God of Mercy, and lo, the whole Paradise stirred and trembled
before Me, in its longing to hear its accents, and gaze on the beauty of Him
that uttered them. Thus have We revealed in this luminous Tablet, and in the
sweetest of languages, the verses which the Tongue of Eternity was moved to
utter in the Qayyúmu'l-Asmá.
--Bahá'u'lláh (Gleanings from the Writings of