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Abstract:
Relationship of a key mystical Quranic verse, Súrih 24:35, to Bahá'í theology; includes a brief compilation of Bahá'í Writings about the Lote Tree.

The Verse of Light, the Sadratu'l-Muntahá (Divine Lote Tree), and the Unfoldment of God's Plan

by Shirley Macias

1991

1. The Verse of Light

      In the Holy Qur'án is found a verse at Súrih 24:35 which contains within it an abundance of meaning and significance. Islamic scholars have written many commentaries over the centuries attempting to interpret its meaning. Until the advent of the Bahá'í Revelation, apparently its significance has remained shrouded in mystery. It is interesting to study the various interpretations of this verse, and since the writer is not a learned scholar nor privy to the original Arabic, several translations of the Qur'án in English have been relied upon in order to ferret out the various implications and interpretations of this enigmatic and cryptic passage revealed by the Prophet Muhammad.

      My first encounter with this verse was Shoghi Effendi's interpretation in his message addressed to the Bahá'ís attending the 1953 Inter-Continental Conference held in Chicago, Illinois, wherein he illustrates the Verse of Light as an historical record of God's Revelation from the time of Adam to the present day: the unfoldment of God's eternal plan. Many references to this verse are to be found in the Bahá'í Writings, a small compilation of which is here included.

      The expressions used in this verse such as light, tree, lamp, oil are invoked profusely by the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh in their Tablets and Writings as similes and metaphors so as to enlighten our hearts and minds with the inner meanings of the Revelations of God, of our purpose in this life, and to facilitate our entrance into the Kingdom. Bahá'u'lláh's references to the Lote-Tree, the Sadratu'l-Muntahá, the Blessed Tree, the Lamp, the Oil are found throughout His Writings.

      The following are some renditions of the Verse of Light by various translators of the Qur'án into English, together with some commentaries by them, as well as by other Islamic scholars.

      The first is by J. M. Rodwell:
God is the Light of the Heavens and of the Earth. His Light is like a niche in which is a lamp - the lamp encased in glass - the glass, as it were, a glistening star. From a blessed tree it is lighted, the olive neither of the East nor of the West, whose oil would well nigh shine out, even though fire touched it not! It is light upon light. God guideth whom He will to His light, and God setteth forth parables to men, for God knoweth all things.[1]
      Another translation is by George Sale:
God is the light of heaven and earth: the similitude of his light is as a niche in a wall, wherein a lamp is placed, and the lamp enclosed in a case of glass; the glass appears as it were a shining star. It is lighted with the oil of a blessed tree, an olive neither of the east, nor of the west; it wanted little but that the oil thereof would give light, although no fire touched it. This is light added unto light: God will direct unto his light whom he pleaseth. God propoundeth parables unto men; for God knoweth all things.[2]
      George Sale's footnotes to this verse state with respect to the "blessed tree": "Some think the meaning to be that the tree grows neither in the eastern nor western parts, but in the midst of the world, namely, in Syria, where the best olives grow."

      Sale also comments regarding Muhammad's reference to the light: "Or a light whose brightness is doubly increased by the circumstances above mentioned. The commentaries explain this allegory, and every particular of it, with great subtlety; interpreting the light here described to be the light revealed in the Koran, or God's enlightening grace in the heart of man; and in divers other manners."

      A third translation was rendered by Arthur J. Arberry:
      God is the Light of the heavens and the earth;
      the likeness of His Light is as a niche wherein is a lamp
      (the lamp in a glass the glass as it were a glittering star)
      kindled from a Blessed Tree,
      an olive that is neither of the East nor of the West
      whose oil wellnigh would shine,
      even if no life touched it;            
      Light upon Light;
      (God strikes similitudes for men,
      and God has knowledge of everything).[3]
      A. Yúsuf 'Alí of Lahore, India, translated the Qur'án into English together with an extensive commentary. Here is his rendition of this celebrated verse:
      God is the Light (n.2996)[4] of the heavens and the earth,(n.2997)
      The parable of His Light is as if there were a Niche
      And within it a Lamp:
      The Lamp enclosed in Glass:(n.2998)
      The glass as it were a brilliant star:(n.2999)
      Lit from a blessed Tree,(n.3000)
      An Olive, neither of the East nor of the West,(n.3001)
      Whose Oil is well-nigh luminous,
      Though fire scarce touched it:(n.3002)
      Light upon Light!
      God doth guide Whom He will to His Light:(n.3003)
      God doth set forth Parables for men:
      And God doth know all things.[5]
      A. Yúsuf 'Alí's abundant interpretive notes, some of which I include herewith, set forth many of the ideas offered by Islamic scholars throughout the ages, and which may assist in illuminating the implications of the metaphors and similes of this verse which are found throughout the Bahá'í Writings.
Fn. 2996: "Embedded within certain directions concerning a refined domestic and social life, comes this glorious parable of Light, which contains layer upon layer of allegorical truth about spiritual mysteries. No notes can do justice to its full meaning. Volumes have been writing on the subject, the most notable being Imám Ghazáli's Mishkát-ul-Anwár. In these notes I propose to explain the simplest meaning of this passage, reserving a brief account of Ghazáli's exposition for Appendix VII." (printed at the end of the Súra at pp. 920-924).[6]

Fn. 2997: "The physical light is but a reflection of the true Light in the world of Reality, and that true Light is God. We can only think of God in terms of our phenomenal experience, and in the phenomenal world, light is the purest thing we know. But physical light has drawbacks incidental to its physical nature; e.g. (1) it is dependent upon some source external to itself; (2) it is a passing phenomenon; if we take it to be a form of motion or energy it is unstable, like all physical phenomena; (3) it is dependent on space and time; its speed is 186,000 miles per second, and there are stars whose light takes thousands of years before it reaches the earth. The perfect Light of God is free from any such defects."[7]

Fn. 2998: "The first three points in the Parable centre round the symbols of the Niche, the Lamp, and the Glass.
  1. The Niche (Mishkát) is the little shallow recess in the wall of an Eastern house, fairly high from the ground, in which a light (before the days of electricity) was usually placed. Its height enabled it to diffuse the light in the room and minimised the shadows. The background of the wall and the sides of the niche helped to throw the light well into the room, and if the wall was white-washed, it also acted as a reflector: the opening in front made the way for the light. So with the spiritual Light: it is placed high, above worldly things; it has a niche or habitation of its own, in Revelation and other Signs of God; its access to men is by a special Way, open to all, yet closed to those who refuse its rays.

  2. The Lamp is the core of the spiritual Truth, which is the real illumination; the Niche is nothing without it; the Niche is actually made for it.

  3. The Glass is the transparent medium through which the light passes. On the one hand, it protects the light from moths and other forms of low life (lower motives in man) and from gusts of wind (passions), and on the other, it transmits the light through a medium which is made up of and akin to the grosser substances of the earth (such as sand, soda, potash, etc.), so arranged as to admit the subtle to the gross by its transparency. So the spiritual Truth has to be filtered through human language or human intelligence to make it intelligible to mankind."[8]
Fn. 2999: "The glass by itself does not shine. But when the light comes into it, it shines like a brilliant star. So men of God, who preach God's Truth, are themselves illuminated by God's Light and become the illuminating media through which that Light spreads and permeates human life."[9]

Fn. 3000: "The olive tree is not a very impressive tree in its outward appearance. Its leaves have a dull greenish-brown colour, and in size it is inconspicuous. But its oil is used in sacred ceremonies and forms a wholesome ingredient of food. The fruit has a specially fine flavour. (Cf.n.2880: For Arabia the best olives grow round about Mount Sinai. The fig, the olive, Mount Sinai, and the sacred city of Mecca are mentioned together in association in xcv:1-3 (of the Qur'án) where we shall consider the mystic meaning. Olive oil is an ingredient in medicinal ointments and in ointments used for religious ceremonies such as the consecration of kings. It has thus a symbolic means. If used for food, the olive has a delicious flavour)."[10]

Fn. 3001: "This mystic Olive is not localised. It is neither of the East nor of the West. It is universal, for such is God's Light. As applied to the olive, there is also a more literal meaning, which can be allegorised in a different way. An olive tree with an eastern aspect gets only the rays of the morning sun; one with a western aspect, only the rays of the western sun. In the northern hemisphere the south aspect will give the sun's rays a great part of the day, while a north aspect will shut them out altogether, and vice verse in the southern hemisphere. But a tree in the open plain or on a hill will get perpetual sunshine by day: it will be more mature, and the fruit and oil will be of superior quality. So God's light is not localised or immature: it is perfect and universal."[11]

Fn. 3002: "Pure olive oil is beautiful in colour, consistency, and illuminating power. The world has tried all kinds of illuminants, and for economic reasons of convenience, one replaces another. But for coolness, comfort to the eyes, and steadiness, vegetable oils are superior to electricity, mineral oils, and animal oils. And among vegetable oils, olive oil takes a high place and deserves its sacred associations. Its purity is almost like light itself: you may support it to be almost light before it is lit. So with spiritual Truth: it illuminates the mind and understanding imperceptibly, almost before the human mind and heart have been consciously touched by it."[12]

Fn. 3003: "Glorious, illimitable Light, which cannot be described or measured. And there are grades and grades of it, passing transcendently into regions of spiritual height, which man's imagination can scarcely conceive of. The topmost pinnacle is the true prototypal Light, the real Light, of which all others were reflections, the Light of God. Hence the saying of the holy Prophet about God's 'Seventy thousand veils of Light'[13]".
      A. Yúsuf 'Alí includes at the completion of his translation of this Surih an extensive commentary about and by the erudite Imám Ghazáli, an Arab (Persian born) philosopher, 450-505 A.H. (1058-1111 A.D.). Abú Hámid Muhammad al-Ghazáli was born at Tús, Persia, studied under the greatest theologian of that time, and at the age of thirty-three was appointed by Nizám al-Mulk, the powerful vizier of the Turkish sultan who ruled the 'Abbasid caliphate of Baghdad, to be a professor at the university founded in that capital. Four years later, after meeting a crisis, he abandoned his worldly life to take up the life of a wandering ascetic, but later returned to the task of teaching. Al-Ghazáli has been acclaimed in both East and West, was a leader in Islam's encounter with Greek philosophy and brought orthodoxy and mysticism into closer contact.

      Al-Ghazáli's treatise Mishkát-ul-Anwár[14] deals with the verse of Light, the contrasted verse of Darkness (xxiv:40)[15] and the sayings of the holy Prophet quoted by him from the Hadíth: "God has seventy thousand veils of light and darkness: were He to withdraw their curtain, then would the splendours of His Countenance (Wajh) surely consume everyone who apprehended Him with his sight."

      Al-Ghazáli's treatise will not be discussed here at length, but a few points made by him will be mentioned.

      He states that "the verses of the Qur'án, in relation to intelligence, have the value of sunlight in relation to eyesight. The Qur'án is therefore spoken of as the Light. 'For We have sent unto you a light (that is) manifest.' (iv:174) There is a world invisible, with a Light of its own, quite different from the world visible, with its own physical light. The former, the spiritual world, is far above the physical world: not in space, for there is no question of space, but in grade. Yet the World of Sense is a type of the World of the Realm Celestial. All the Prophets are Lamps, and so are the Learned: but the difference between them is incalculable. If the Prophet of God is a Lamp Illuminant, that from the Lamp is itself lit may fitly be symbolised by Fire. It is the Spirits Celestial, the angels, considered as the kindling-source of the Lamps Terrestrial, that can be compared alone with Fire. (xxviii:29-30). These Lamps Celestial have their own grades and orders, and the highest is the one nearest to the Ultimate Light." "That Ultimate Light is the final Fountain-head, Who is Light in and by Himself, not a light kindled from other lights... Thus God Most High is the only Reality, as He is the only Light."

      Al-Ghazáli then describes the five faculties of spirit of the human soul, i.e. the sensory spirit which takes in the information brought by the senses; the imaginative spirit which records the information and presents it to the intelligential spirit, when required; the intelligential spirit which apprehends ideas beyond the spheres of sense and imagination; the discursive (or ratiocinative) spirit which takes the data of pure reason, combines them, and deduces from them abstract knowledge; and the transcendental prophetic spirit which is possessed by prophets and some saints; by it the unseen tables and statutes of the Law are revealed from the other world, from Realms Celestial.

      He relates that the five faculties or spirits are symbolised by the niche, glass, lamp, tree and oil in the light verse. The niche is the sensory spirit; the glass the imagination which is made out of opaque substances, but is clarified and refined until it becomes transparent to the light of lamp. The lamp is the intelligential spirit giving cognizance of divine ideas. The tree is the ratiocinative spirit, which leads to conclusions, being the symbol of the olive which gives oil producing radiant illumination, and which can be multiplied infinitely. Al-Ghazáli concludes that a tree like the olive, whose oil can multiply light infinitely, is entitled to be called "blessed" above other trees like fruit trees, whose fruit is consumed in use.

      Another Muslim saint, Jalál al-Dín Rúmí, a mystic and poet of 1207-1273 A.D., alludes to the Light Verse in one of his odes entitled "The Hierarchy of Saints"[16]:
In every epoch after Mohammad a Saint arises to act as his viceregent: the people are on trial till the Resurrection.
Whosoever has a good nature is saved, whosoever is of frail heart is broken.
The Saint, then, is the living Imám, who appears in every age whether he be a descendant of 'Umar or of 'Alí.
He is the God-guided one (Mahdí) and the Guide (Hadí): he is both hidden and seated before you.
He is as the Light of the Prophet, and Universal Reason is his Gabriel: the saint lesser than he receives illumination from him, like a lamp.
The saint below this "lamp" is as the lamp-niche: the Light has gradations of intensity;
For the Light of God has seven hundred veils: regard the veils of the Light as so many tiers.
Behind each veil a certain class of saints has its abode: the veils mount tier after tier up to the Imám.
The light that is the life of the topmost rank is painful and insupportable to one beneath;
Yet, by degrees, his squintness diminishes; and when he has passed through all seven hundred veils, he becomes the Sea.
The fire that is good for iron or gold - how should it be good for quinces and apples?
The apple and quince have only a slight crudity: unlike iron, they want a gentle heat;
But those flames are too mild for the iron, which easily absorbs the glow of the fiery dragon.
---
What is that iron? The self-mortified dervish: under the hammer and the fire he is red and happy.
He is the chamberlain of the fire, in immediate touch with it; he goes straight into the heart of the fire.
Therefore he is the Heart of the world, for by means of the heart the body performs its proper function.
All individual hearts are as the body in relation to the universal Heart of the Saint.[17]
      In the twelfth century, about four hundred years after the advent of Muhammad, a distinct mystic school of Sufism arose, basing its doctrine on the mystical theory of light. Phillip K. Hitti discusses this outgrowth in Sufism and states that the illumination doctrine found ready acceptance among varied ranks of Muslim society and that its adoption and exposition by Muslim philosophers such as ibn-Sin (Avicenna) gave it prestige. These philosophers not only preserved the concept of light as a symbol of emanation from the divine, but also added a metaphysical element, making light the fundamental reality of things. This movement gradually developed into a distinct school of Sufism. The founder of this school was a Persian, al-Suhrawardi, who lived in Baghdad and Allepo. While he did not add much to the metaphysical theory of light, he made it popular. In his treatise Hikmat al-Ishraq (The Wisdom of Illumination) he emphasized that all that live, move or have being are but light, and even made use of light to prove the existence of God. His exposition proved to be too much for the 'ulamá (priests) and under their pressure, Salah-al-Dín's (Saladin's) viceroy in Allepo had him executed in 1191, when he was thirty-eight years old.[18]

2. The Sadratu'l-Muntahá

      We find in the Bahá'í Writings numerous references to the Sadratu'l-Muntahá, "The Divine Lote Tree", symbolizing the Manifestation of God, and is specifically referred to in the "Light Verse" of the Qur'án as the "blessed tree, an olive neither of the East nor of the West."

      It is also defined as
  1. The Tree beyond which there is no passing, i.e. the Manifestation of God;
  2. A title of Bahá'u'lláh;
  3. The Lote-Tree of the extremity (Qur'án 53:8-18), i.e. The Sidrah-tree which marks the boundary;
  4. The Burning Bush of Genesis fame;
  5. Originally a tree which, in ancient times, the Arabs planted to mark the end of the road;[19]
  6. Also known as the ziziphus jujuba[20], the tree seen by Muhammad in the seventh firmament during the mi'ráj (see Qur'án 17:1 describing the mystic vision of the night journey in which the Prophet is transported from Mecca to Jerusalem and is shown the signs of God).
      In reference to the night journey of Muhammad, the following is Rodwell's translation of the verse from the Qur'án known as the mi'ráj:
      By the star when it setteth,
      Your compatriot erreth not, nor is he led astray,
      Neither speaketh he from mere impulse.
      The Koran is no other than a revelation revealed to him:
      One terrible in power taught it him, endued with wisdom.      
      With even balance stood he in the highest part of the horizon:
      Then came he nearer and approached,
      And was at the distance of two bows, or even closer, -
      And he revealed to his servant what he revealed.
      His heart falsified not what he saw.
      What! will ye then dispute with him as to what he saw?
      He had seen him also another time,
      Near the Sidrah-tree, which marks the boundary.
      Near which is the garden of repose,
      When the Sidrah-tree was covered with what covered it,
      His eye turned not aside, nor did it wander:
      For he saw the greatest of the signs of his Lord.[21]
      The following is George Sale's rendition of this same verse:
      By the star, when it setteth; your companion Mohammed erreth not,
      nor is he led astray; neither doth he speak of his own will.
      It is no other than a revelation, which hath been revealed unto him.
      One mighty in power, endued with understanding, taught it him:
      and he appeared in the highest part of the horizon.
      Afterwards he approached the prophet and drew near unto him;
      until he was at the distance of two bows' length from him, or yet nearer:
      and he revealed unto his servant that which he revealed.
      The heart of Mohammed did not falsely represent that which he saw.
      Will ye therefore dispute with him concerning that which he saw?
      He also saw him another time, by the Lote-tree beyond which there is no passing:
      near it is the garden of eternal abode.
      When the Lote-tree covered that which it covered,
      his eyesight turned not aside, neither did it wander:
      and he really beheld some of the greatest signs of his Lord.[22]
      Rodwell interprets the boundary as: "...beyond which neither men nor angels can pass...the Lote-Tree of the extremity, or of the loftiest spot in Paradise, in the seventh Heaven, on the right hand of the throne of God."[23]

      He also states that the Sidrah is known as a prickly plum called "ber" in India; a decoction of its leaves being used to wash the dead because of the sacredness of the tree. It may be that this plant is related to the prickly cactus fruit "sabra" which grows profusely in the Middle East.

      With respect to the above verse, Rodwell, citing the commentators, says that "this tree...stands in the seventh heaven, on the right hand of the throne of God; and is the utmost bounds beyond which the angels themselves must not pass; or, as some rather imagine, beyond which no creature's knowledge can extend."[24]

      Shoghi Effendi, in describing the many titles of Bahá'u'lláh, refers to Him, among others, as the "Tree beyond which there is no passing":
In the name He bore (Husayn-'Alí) He combined those of the Imám Husayn, the most illustrious of the successors of the Apostle of God - the brightest "star" shining in the "crown" mentioned in the Revelation of St. John - and of the Imám 'Alí, the Commander of the Faithful, the second of the two "witnesses" extolled in that same Book. He was formally designated Bahá'u'lláh, an appellation specifically recorded in the Persian Bayán, signifying at once the glory, the light and the splendor of God, and was styled the "Lord of Lords," the "Most Great Name," the "Ancient Beauty," the "Pen of the Most High," the "Hidden Name," the "Preserved Treasure," "He Whom God will make manifest," the "Most Great Light," the "All-Highest Horizon," the "Most Great Ocean," the "Supreme Heaven," the "Pre-Existent Root," the "Self-Subsistent," the "Day-Star of the Universe," the "Great Announcement," the "Speaker on Sinai," the "Sifter of Men," the "Wronged One of the World," the "Desire of the Nations," the "Lord of the Covenant," the "Tree beyond which there is no passing."[25]
      The symbolism of the "tree" is prevalent in all of the cultures of the world. Trees provide countless blessings, such as resplendent and fragrant flowers, luscious fruits, comforting shade and shelter, arrayed with branches and boughs nestling melodious singing birds. However, there are trees whose wood is only fit for the fire. But what are we to say of the "Blessed Tree" that overshadows all of mankind? The fable of the Tree of Good and Evil or the Tree of Knowledge and Wisdom planted in the Garden of Eden, is one of mankind's oldest legends, found not only in the Judaic-Christian Bible and in the Qur'án, but also in far-off tales from Mesopotamia and Sumer as well as in traditions from the South Pacific, and even from China. For an interesting exposition and study of these legends, you may wish to peruse The Quest for Eden written by Elena Maria Marsella (Philosophical Library, New York, 1966).

      In Lee Nelson's A Concordance to the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh (Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1988), there are thirteen references to "Sadratu'l-Muntahá," more than seventy to the "Blessed Tree" or the "Tree beyond which there is no passing," thirty-eight mentions of "Lote-tree" and some thirty-seven of the "Burning Bush." There are also numerous references by the Báb and 'Abdu'l-Bahá in their Writings. Some of the many references in the Bahá'í Writings on the Sadratu'l-Muntahá follow.

3. Compilation on the Lote Tree

From the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh:

He is the King, the All-Knowing, the Wise. Lo the Nightingale of Paradise singeth upon the twigs of the Tree of Eternity, with holy and sweet melodies, proclaiming to the sincere ones the glad tidings of the nearness of God, calling the believers in the Divine Unity to the court of the Presence of the Generous One, informing the severed ones of the message which hath been revealed by God, the King, the Glorious, the Peerless, guiding the lovers to the seat of sanctity and to this resplendent Beauty.[26]

And likewise, He saith: "They will even refuse unto that Tree, which is neither of the East nor of the West, the name believer, for were they so to name Him, they would fail to sadden Him."[27]

Cast away the things current amongst men and take fast hold on that whereunto ye are bidden by virtue of the Will of the Ordainer, the Ancient of Days. This is the Day wherein the divine Lote-Tree calleth aloud, saying: O people! Behold ye My fruits and My leaves, incline then your ears unto My rustling. Beware lest the doubts of men debar you from the light of certitude.[28]

O 'Alí! That which they accepted from the Bush they now refuse to accept from Him Who is the Tree of the world of existence. Say, O people of the Bayán, speak not according to the dictates of passion and selfish desire. Most of the peoples of the earth attest the truth of the blessed Word which hath come forth from the Bush...O kindreds of the earth! Incline your ears unto the Voice from the divine Lote-Tree which overshadoweth the world and be not of the people of tyranny on earth...[29]

O Muhammad! Hearken unto the Voice proceeding out of the Realm of Glory, calling aloud from the celestial Tree which has risen above the land of Za'farán.[30]

...We have attired thee with the vesture of My good-pleasure in My heavenly Kingdom, and from the Divine Lote-Tree which is raised on the borders of the vale of security and peace, situate in the Luminous Spot beyond the glorious City...[31]

...He (Moses) went forth from the city, and sojourned in Midian in the service of Shoeb. While returning, Moses entered the holy vale, situate in the wilderness of Sinai, and there beheld the vision of the King of glory from the "Tree that belongest neither to the East nor to the West." There He heard the soul-stirring Voice of the Spirit speaking from out of the kindled Fire, bidding Him to shed upon Pharaohic souls the light of divine guidance...[32]

Every discerning eye can, in this Day, perceive the dawning light of God's Revelation, and every attentive ear can recognize the Voice that was heard from the Burning Bush. Such is the rushing of the waters of Divine mercy, that He Who is the Day Spring of the signs of God and the Revealer of the evidences of His glory is without veil or concealment associated and conversing with the people of the earth and its kindreds.[33]

The episode of Sinai hath been re-enacted in this Revelation and He Who conversed upon the Mount is calling aloud: Verily, the Desired One is come, seated upon the throne of certitude, could ye but perceive it. He hath admonished all men to observe that which is conducive to the exaltation of the Cause of God and will guide mankind unto His straight Path.[34]

O Shaykh! Thou hast heard the sweet melodies of the Doves of Utterance cooing on the boughs of the Lote-Tree of knowledge. Hearken, now, unto the notes of the Birds of Wisdom upraised in the Most Sublime Paradise. They verily will acquaint thee with things of which thou were wholly unaware. Give ear unto that which the Tongue of Might and Power hath spoken in the Books of God, the Desire of every understanding heart. At this moment a Voice was raised from the Lote-Tree beyond which there is no passing, in the heart of the Most Sublime Paradise, bidding Me relate unto thee that which hath been sent down in the Books and Tablets, and the things spoken by My Forerunner, Who laid down His life for this Great Announcement, this Straight Path.[35]

O King! Were thou to incline thine ears unto the shrill voice of the Pen of Glory and the cooing of the Dove of Eternity, which on the branches of the Lote-Tree beyond which there is no passing, uttereth praises to God, the Maker of all Names and the Creator of earth and heaven, thou wouldst attain unto a station from which thou shouldst behold in the world of being naught save the effulgence of the Adored One, and wouldst regard thy sovereignty the most contemptible of thy possessions.[36]

The blessed Lote-Tree standeth, in this day, before thy face, laden with heavenly, with new and wondrous fruits. Gaze on it, detached from all else save it.[37]

From the Writings of the Báb

O ye kinsmen of the Most Great Remembrance! This Tree of Holiness, dyed crimson with the oil of servitude, hath verily sprung forth out of your own soil in the midst of the Burning Bush, yet ye comprehend nothing whatever thereof, neither of His true, heavenly attributed, nor of the actual circumstances of His earthly life, nor of the evidences of His powerful and unblemished behaviour. Actuated by your own fancies, ye consider Him to be alien to the sovereign Truth, while in the estimation of God He is none other than the Promised One Himself, invested with the power of the sovereign Truth, and verily He is, as decreed in the Mother Book, held answerable in the midst of the Burning Bush...[38]

O ye peoples of the earth! Hearken unto My call, ringing forth from the precincts of this Sacred Tree - a Tree set ablaze by the pre-existent Fire: There is no God but Him; He is the Exalted, the All-Wise. O ye the servants of the Merciful One! Enter ye, one and all, through this Gate and follow not the steps of the Evil One, for he prompteth you to walk in the ways of impiety and wickedness; he is, in truth, your declared enemy.[39]

...That which is intended by "Revelation of God" is the Tree of divine Truth that betokeneth none but Him, and it is this divine Tree that hath raised and will raise up Messengers, and hath revealed and will ever reveal Scriptures. From eternity unto eternity this Tree of divine Truth hath served and will ever serve as the throne of the revelation and concealment of God among His creatures, and in every age is made manifest through whomsoever He pleaseth.[40]

This is the divinely-inscribed Book. This is the outspread Tablet. Say, this indeed is the Frequented Fane, the sweet-scented Leaf, the Tree of the divine Revelation, the surging Ocean, the Utterance which lay concealed, the Light above every other light...Indeed every light is generated by God through the power of His behest. He of a truth is the Light in the kingdom of heaven and earth and whatever is between them. Through the radiance of His light God imparteth illumination to your hearts and maketh firm your steps, that perchance ye may yield praise unto Him. Say, this of a certainty is the Garden of Repose, the Loftiest Point of adoration, the Tree beyond which there is no passing, the blessed Lote-Tree, the Most Mighty Sign, the most beauteous Countenance and the most comely Face.[41]

From the Writings and Discourses of 'Abdu'l-Bahá:

The tree of life is the highest degree of the world of existence: the position of the Word of God, and the universal Manifestation. Therefore that position has been preserved; and, at the appearance of the most noble universal Manifestation, it became apparent and clear. For the position of Adam, with regard to the appearance and manifestation of the divine perfections, was in the embryonic condition; the position of Christ was the condition of maturity, and the age of reason, and the rising of the Great Luminary (Bahá'u'lláh), was the condition of the perfection of the essence and of the qualities. This is why in the supreme Paradise the tree of life is the expression for the center of absolutely pure sanctity - that is to say, of the Divine Universal Manifestation.[42]

O Leaf upon the Tree of Life! The Tree of Life, of which mention is made in the Bible, is Bahá'u'lláh, and the daughters of the Kingdom are the Leaves upon that blessed Tree. Then thank thou God that thou hast become related to that Tree, and that thou art flourishing, tender and fresh.[43]

The Báb, the Exalted One, is the Morn of Truth, the splendour of Whose light shineth throughout all regions. He is also the Harbinger of the Most Great Light, the Abhá Luminary. The Blessed Beauty is the One promised by the sacred books of the past, the revelation of the Source of Light that shone upon Mount Sinai, Whose fire glowed in the midst of the Burning Bush. [44]

In the ages to come, though the Cause of God may rise and grow a hundredfold and the shade of the Sadratu'l-Muntahá shelter all mankind, yet this present century shall stand unrivalled, for it hath witnessed the breaking of that Morn and the rising of that Sun. This century is, verily the source of His Light and the dayspring of His Revelation. Future ages and generations shall behold the diffusion of its radiance and the manifestations of its signs.[45]

4. The Unfoldment of God's Plan

      In his July 4, 1950 message, written to the American Bahá'í community, Shoghi Effendi, Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith, paid homage to the Centenary of the Martyrdom of the Báb, Forerunner and Precursor of the Faith, which occurred in Tabríz, Persia, after His six-year Dispensation, and which was to be commemorated in a few short days on July 9, 1950. Shoghi Effendi poignantly describes the events surrounding the Revelation of the Báb, using terminology from the "Light Verse" of the Qur'án, and specifically noting the creative energies released at the Hour of the Birth of His Revelation, by "endowing mankind with the potentialities of the attainment of maturity," which are "deranging, during the present transitional age, the equilibrium of the entire planet as the inevitable prelude to the consummation in world unity of the coming of age of the human race." The Guardian, describing in eloquent terms the results of the Martyrdom of the Báb, went on to say:
"...the Holy Seed of infinite preciousness, holding within itself incalculable potentialities representing the culmination of the centuries-old process of the evolution of humanity through the energies released by the series of progressive Revelations starting with Adam and concluded by the Revelation of the Seal of the Prophets, marked by the successive appearance of the branches, leaves, buds, blossoms and plucked, after six years by the hand of destiny, ground in the mill of martyrdom and oppression but yielding the oil whose first flickering light cast upon the somber, subterranean walls of the Siyáh-Chál of Tihrán, whose fire gathered brilliance in Baghdád and shone in full resplendency in its crystal globe in Adrianople, whose rays warmed and illuminated the fringes of the American, European, Australian continents through the tender ministerings of the Center of the Covenant, whose radiance is now overspreading the surface of the globe during the present Formative Age, whose full splendor is destined in the course of future millenniums to suffuse the entire planet."[46]
      Shoghi Effendi again alludes to the "Light Verse" in his significant message to the nascent Bahá'í community gathered at the International Bahá'í Conference held in Chicago, Illinois, in May 1953, in which he inaugurated the Ten Year Crusade destined to spiritualize the planet and to pave the way for the fulfillment of God's Plan for this age; the unification of the human race.

      Shoghi Effendi begins his message with the following words:
"On the occasion of the launching of an epochal, global, spiritual, decade-long crusade, constituting the high-water mark of the festivities commemorating the centenary of the birth of the Mission of Bahá'u'lláh, coinciding with the ninetieth anniversary of the declaration of that same Mission in the Garden of Ridván...on such a solemn and historic occasion I invite His followers, the world over, to contemplate with me the glorious and manifold evidences of this onward march of His Faith and of the steady unfolding of its embryonic World Order, both in the Holy Land and in the five continents of the globe."[47]
      He then goes on to relate that
"...this infinitely precious Faith, despite eleven decades of uninterrupted persecution...involving the martyrdom of its Prophet-Herald, the four banishments and forty-year-long exile suffered by its Founder, the forty years of incarceration inflicted upon its Exemplar, and the sacrifice of no less than twenty thousand of its followers, had succeeded in firmly establishing itself in all continents of the globe...bidding fair to envelop, at the close of the coming decade, the whole planet with the radiance of its splendor."[48]
      During the lifetime of its Martyr-Prophet, the Báb, the Faith had extended to two countries (Iran and Iraq); during the period of the ministry of its Author (Bahá'u'lláh) to thirteen other lands; during the course of the ministry of the Center of the Covenant ('Abdu'l-Bahá) to twenty additional sovereign states and dependencies in both hemispheres, and since the Ascension of 'Abdu'l-Bahá (1921 to 1953) it had attained to ninety-four additional countries, raising the total in 1953 to one hundred twenty-nine. Representatives from thirty-one races and twenty-four African tribes had enrolled in the Bahá'í world community, and eleven National Spiritual Assemblies had raised some two thousand five hundred centers throughout the planet. In addition, areas of land had been purchased for the eventual erection of Bahá'í Houses of Worship, recognition had been accorded by several governments for Bahá'í Holy Days, as well as their official acknowledgment of the Bahá'í marriage certificate. Additionally, the United Nations had extended to the Bahá'í Faith its recognition as an international non-governmental organization.

      The major thrust of the Ten Year Crusade was the simultaneous prosecution of twelve national plans aimed at broadening the foundations of the Faith in each of the areas serving as operational bases for the prosecution of the plan, i.e. the opening of one hundred and thirty-one territories to the Faith, the consolidation of one hundred and eighteen territories, the translation and printing of literature in ninety-one languages, the construction of two Bahá'í Houses of Worship, the acquisition of sites for the future construction of eleven Temples, the formation of forty-eight national spiritual assemblies, the funding of forty-seven Hazíratu'l-Quds (national Bahá'í centers), and many other tasks too numerous to set forth here. The culmination of this World Crusade was to be the convocation of a World Bahá'í Congress commemorating the centenary of the formal assumption by Bahá'u'lláh of His prophetic office.

      In his message, Shoghi Effendi emphasizes that the primary aim of that Spiritual Crusade is none other than the conquest of the citadels of men's hearts; its theater of operation the entire planet; its duration an entire decade. The Guardian characterizes this momentous undertaking in the following terms:
      "Its driving force is the energizing influence generated by the Revelation heralded by the Báb and proclaimed by Bahá'u'lláh.

      "Its Marshal is none other than the Author of the Divine Plan ('Abdu'l-Bahá).

      "Its standard-bearers are the Hands of God appointed in every continent of the globe.

      "Its generals are the twelve national spiritual assemblies participating in the execution of its design.

      "Its vanguard is the chief executors of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's master plan, their allies and associates.

      "Its legions are the rank and file of believers standing behind these same twelve national assemblies and sharing in the global task embracing the American, the European, the African, the Asiatic and Australian fronts.

      "The charter directing its course is the immortal Tablets that have flowed from the pen of the Center of the Covenant Himself.

      "The armor with which its onrushing hosts have been invested is the glad tidings of God's own message in this day, the principles underlying the order proclaimed by His Messenger, and the laws and ordinances governing His Dispensation.[49]
      Shoghi Effendi then goes on to delineate the process of the unfoldment of God's Eternal Plan, which commenced at the dawn of the Adamic cycle.
"...Then, and only then, will the vast, the majestic process, set in motion at the dawn of the Adamic cycle, attain its consummation - a process which commenced six thousand years ago, with the planting, in the soil of the divine will, of the tree of divine revelation, which has already passed through certain stages and must needs pass through still others ere it attains its final consummation.

      "The first part of this process was the slow and steady growth of this tree of divine revelation, successively putting forth its branches, shoots and offshoots, and revealing its leaves, buds and blossoms, as a direct consequence of the light and warmth imparted to it by a series of progressive dispensation associated with Moses, Zoroaster, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad and other Prophets, and of the vernal showers of blood shed by countless martyrs in their path.

      "The second part of this process was the fruition of this tree, that belongeth neither to the East nor to the West, when the Báb appeared as the perfect fruit and declared His Mission in the Year Sixty (1260 A.H.-1844 A.D.) in the city of Shíraz.

      "The third part was the grinding of this sacred seed, of infinite preciousness and potency, in the mill of adversity, causing it to yield its oil, six years later, in the city of Tabríz.

      "The fourth part was the ignition of this oil by the hand of Providence in the depths and amidst the darkness of the Siyáh Chál of Tihrán a hundred years ago [1853].

      "The fifth was the clothing of that flickering light, which had scarcely penetrated the adjoining territory of 'Iráq in the lamp of revelation, after an eclipse lasting no less than ten years, in the city of Baghdád.

      "The sixth was the spread of the radiance of that light, shining with added brilliancy in its crystal globe in Adrianople, and later on in the fortress town of 'Akká, to thirteen countries in the Asiatic and African continents.

      "The seventh was its projection, from the Most Great Prison, in the course of the ministry of the Center of the Covenant, across the seas and the shedding of its illumination upon twenty sovereign states and dependencies in the American, the European, and Australian continents.

      "The eighth part of that process was the diffusion of that same light in the course of the first, and the opening years of the second, epoch of the Formative Age of the Faith, over ninety-four sovereign states, dependencies and islands of the planet, as a result of the prosecution of a series of national plans, initiated by eleven national spiritual assemblies throughout the Bahá'í world, utilizing the agencies of a newly emerged, divinely appointed Administrative Order, and which has now culminated in the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of Bahá'u'lláh's Mission..

      "The ninth part of this process - the stage we are now entering [in 1953] - is the further diffusion of that same light over one hundred and thirty-one additional territories and islands in both the Eastern and Western hemispheres, through the operation of a decade-long world spiritual crusade whose termination will, God willing, coincide with the Most Great Jubilee commemorating the centenary of the declaration of Bahá'u'lláh in Baghdád.

      "And finally the tenth part of this mighty process must be the penetration of that light, in the course of numerous crusades and of successive epochs of both the Formative and Golden Ages of the Faith, into all the remaining territories of the globe through the erection of the entire machinery of Bahá'u'lláh's Administrative Order in all territories, both East and West, the stage at which the light of God's triumphant Faith shining in all its power and glory will have suffused and enveloped the entire planet."[50]
      Since 1953 and the launching of the Ten Year Crusade, the light of Bahá'u'lláh's teachings unquestionably has illuminated and permeated the earth. April 1963 witnessed the first election of the Universal House of Justice in Haifa, Israel, with the attendance of delegates representing some fifty-six national and regional Bahá'í communities, where but ten short years earlier there had been but twelve national/regional assemblies. This historical election of the supreme institution was followed by an extraordinary centenary celebration, not in Baghdád as had been anticipated by Shoghi Effendi, but in London, England, which was attended by some 6,000 Bahá'ís representing over one hundred countries, islands and territories and from practically every race and culture throughout the world, including aborigines from Australia, Maoris from New Zealand, and members of several tribes from African nations.

      With the successful completion of the Ten Year Crusade and subsequent international plans, specifically the Nine Year Plan which was inaugurated in 1964, the Five Year Plan covering the period 1974-1979, the Seven Year Plan (1979-1986), and the current Six Year Plan designed to culminate in 1992, designated as a Holy Year, with a second Centenary conference to be held in New York City, the City of the Covenant, as designated by 'Abdu'l-Bahá, in observance of one hundred years since the Ascension of the Blessed Beauty, Bahá'u'lláh, the number of Bahá'í communities throughout the world has increased more than twelve-fold, and is now established in some 217 countries, territories and islands, encompassing approximately 112,000 localities where the followers of Bahá'u'lláh reside throughout the five continents. There are, at this writing in 1991, some 2,112 tribes and minority groups represented in its membership, with Bahá'í literature translated into some 802 languages and dialects. Current statistics are not accurate and continue to change, particularly with the recent opening of the Eastern Bloc, the dissemination of the Teachings and the formation of Bahá'í communities throughout that vast region, as well as an ongoing increase in interest and acceptance of the Teachings in all communities throughout the planet.      

      During a period of some ten years, ending in or about 1989, the Bahá'í Faith underwent another period of persecution in the land of its birth (Iran), with imprisonments and executions of a large number of Bahá'ís, including women and children. However, the world-wide dissemination of these acts resulted in a greater awareness of the Faith, its purposes and ideals, and caused its coming out of obscurity.

      In 1986, the Universal House of Justice, from its Seat in the Holy Land, directed a letter addressed to the peoples of the world, entitled "The Promise of World Peace." This moving document has been presented to many of the world's leaders, including the Secretary-General of the United Nations, to countless individuals, and has been translated into numerous languages. The world-wide appreciation of the principles of world unity, world peace, the oneness of mankind, its call for the reduction of armaments, and many other teachings promulgated by Bahá'u'lláh over a century ago, are no longer considered by the majority of mankind as idealistic, utopian concepts.

      As this is being written (in early 1991) the threat of bloodshed and havoc is again raising its ugly specter in the very land where Bahá'u'lláh declared His Mission in April 1863. The world-wide recognition of this dangerous situation is resulting in an interesting development, which, for the first time, perhaps due to the dissemination of the Peace Statement, the principles of collective security enunciated by Bahá'u'lláh over one hundred years ago are being seriously attempted.

      In one of His Tablets, written over one hundred years ago, Bahá'u'lláh counsels mankind that:
      "The Great Being, wishing to reveal the prerequisites of the peace and tranquility of the world and the advances of its peoples, hath written: "The time must come when the imperative necessity for the holding of a vast, an all-embracing assemblage of men will be universally realized. The rulers and kings of the earth must needs attend it, and participating in its deliberations, must consider such ways and means as will lay the foundations of the world's Great Peace amongst men.. Such a peace demandeth that the Great Powers should resolve, for the sake of the tranquility of the peoples of the earth, to be fully reconciled among themselves. Should any king take up arms against another, all should unitedly arise and prevent him. If this be done, the nations of the world will no longer require any armaments, except for the purpose of preserving the security of their realms and of maintaining order within their territories. This will ensure the peace and composure of every people, government and nation..."[51]

      It would be unwieldy in this short essay to attempt to set forth the history and tremendous accomplishments of this new world Faith during its one hundred and forty-seven years. There are many books specifically devoted to this subject. But suffice it to say there are some important points to be made.

      Along with the growth of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh throughout the world has been the development of its World Centre located in the twin cities of Haifa and 'Akká, Israel, with its magnificent Seat of the Universal House of Justice nestled on the slopes of Mount Carmel overlooking the Bay of Haifa (the spot where Jesus Christ Himself promised He would pitch His tent), the golden domed Shrine of the Báb, the site of His blessed remains, and the view from this vantage point across the bay to the Mansion of Bahjí and the Tomb of Bahá'u'lláh surrounded by sublime gardens in its twin city of 'Akká.

      Israel, the Holy Land, became the World Centre of this fledgling Faith through the circumstances surrounding the imprisonment and exile of Bahá'u'lláh in 1853, first to Baghdád, then in 1863 to Constantinople and Adrianople in Turkey, and finally in 1868 to the prison city of 'Akká, Palestine, known then as the bastille of the Ottoman Empire, the then-rulers of a vast territory, including Syria and what is now 'Iráq, Jordan, Lebanon and Israel. This event fulfilled, in ways mysterious to the minds of men, the well-known prophecies from the Bible that the law would come down from Zion and that the Promised One would pitch His tent on Mount Carmel. Bahá'u'lláh had been a prisoner and exile of the Persian and Ottoman Empires from 1853 until His passing in 1892. For a period of forty years, the Blessed Beauty, the Voice in the Burning Bush, the Divine Lote-Tree, the Tree that is neither of the East nor of the West, the Manifestation of God for this day, revealed Tablets, Laws and Teachings to enable the human race to fulfill its destiny and attain its maturity, and to be united in one world, under the guidance and direction of the King of the World, the Creator Himself.

      The Prisoner of 'Akká was brought to that despicable prison to die as a result of the hatred of His enemies and detractors, the then rulers and clergy of the realms of Persian and the Ottoman Empires. But the Hand of God stayed their schemes and by their acts they unknowingly fulfilled the prophecies handed down throughout the ages by the former Prophets of God, and revealed the reality of the awaited Messiah, long-awaited by the remnants of the followers of Moses, the Return of Christ, the appearance of the Qayyúm, the Fifth Buddha and the Shah Braham promised by Zoroaster. All these titles are evident in Bahá'u'lláh, the Glory of God, He Who would come from the East by way of the Gate, He Who would fulfill the promises of Isaiah as the Counsellor, the Prince of Peace.

      The entire world is beginning to become aware that it is on the brink of a New World Order, albeit without knowledge of the origin of this perception, and the long-awaited, long-desired Universal Peace, which is being ushered in by the Voice from the Burning Bush, the "Tree that is neither of the East nor of the West." The promises of the past are being fulfilled and "the sovereign remedy and mightiest instrument for the healing of the world is the union of all its peoples in one universal Cause, one common Faith" is becoming the universal anthem for this Day.

      Bahá'u'lláh writes:
      "That which God hath ordained as the sovereign remedy and mightiest instrument for the healing of the world is the union of all its peoples in one universal Cause, one common Faith. This can in no wise be achieved except through the power of a skilled, an all-powerful, and inspired Physician. By My life! This is the truth, and all else naught but error."[52]

      "This is the Day wherein the divine Lote-Tree calleth aloud saying: O people! Behold ye My fruits and My leaves, incline then your ears unto My rustling. Beware lest the doubts of men debar you from the light of certitude. The Ocean of utterance exclaimeth and saith: O yet dwellers on the earth! Behold My billowing waters and the pearls of wisdom and utterance which I have poured forth. Fear ye God and be not of the heedless.

      "In this Day a great festival is taking place in the Realm above; for whatsoever was promised in the sacred scriptures hath been fulfilled. This is the Day of great rejoicing. It behoveth everyone to hasten towards the court of His nearness with exceeding joy, gladness, exultation and delight and to deliver himself from the fire of remoteness."[53]
      To close this essay, I share with you the following prayer revealed by 'Abdu'l-Bahá:
      "O God my God! Praise be unto Thee for kindling the fire of divine love in the Holy Tree on the summit of the loftiest mount: that Tree which is "neither of the East nor of the West," that fire which blazed out till the flame of it soared upward to the Concourse on high, and from it those realities caught the light of guidance, and cried out: "Verily have we perceived a fire on the slope of Mount Sinai.

      "O God, my God! Increase Thou this fire, as day followeth day, till the blast of it setteth in motion all the earth. O Thou, my Lord! Kindle the light of Thy love in every heart, breathe into men's souls the spirit of Thy knowledge, gladden their breasts with the verses of Thy oneness. Call Thou to life those who dwell in their tombs, warn Thou the prideful, make happiness worldwide, send down Thy crystal waters, and in the assemblage of manifest splendors, pas round that cup which is "tempered at the camphor fountain."

      "Verily, art Thou the Giving, the Forgiving, the Ever-Bestowing. Verily, art Thou the Merciful."[54]

Notes:
    [1] Rodwell, The Koran, pp. 446-447, Everyman's Library, Dutton, New York 1971 (first published 1861).
    [2] George Sale, The Koran, pp. 348-349, London (the first translation dated November 1734).
    [3] Arthur J. Arberry, The Koran Interpreted, p. 51 (George Allen & Unwin Ltd. 1955).
    [4] These numbers refer to Mr. A. Yúsuf 'Alí's footnotes.
    [5] A. Yúsuf 'Alí, The Holy Qur'án, pp. 907-908, American Trust Publications for the Muslim Students' Association of the United States and Canada, 2d.Ed. 1977 (originally published Lahore, India, 1934).
    [6] ibid, p. 907
    [7] ibid
    [8] ibid
    [9] ibid, p. 908
    [10] ibid
    [11] ibid
    [12] ibid
    [13] The hadíth concerning seven hundred (or seven thousand) veils of light and darkness which conceal the Face of Alláh is expounded by Ghazáli in his Mishkát-al-Anwár (see Gairdner's translation, 88-89). The light-veils correspond to various degrees of saintship. (A. Nicholson, Rúmí, Poet and Mystic, at 78).
    [14] Translated by W. H. T. Gairdner, Royal Asiatic Society, London 1924.
    [15] Chapter and verse references are to the Qur'án.
    [16] From the Masnavi II, 815: one of six volumes of about 25,000 rhyming couplets.
    [17] Translated by Reynold A. Nicholson, Rúmí: Poet and Mystic, George Allen & Unwin Ltd. 1964.
    [18] Phillip K. Hitti, Islam: A Way of Life, pp. 58-59, University of Minnesota Press 1970)
    [19] Momen, A Basic Bahá'í Dictionary
    [20] An edible drupaceous fruit of any of several trees of the buckthorn family. A drupe is an overripe olive.
    [21] Qur'án, 53:10-18, from Rodwell, The Koran, pp. 69-70
    [22] George Sale, The Koran, pp. 507-508
    [23] ibid., p. 508
    [24] ibid.
    [25] God Passes By, p. 94
    [26] Excerpt from the "Tablet of Ahmad", found in several editions of Bahá'í Prayers.
    [27] Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 156
    [28] From "Kalimat-i-Firdawsíyyih (Words of Paradise), Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 78
    [29] Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 53-54
    [30] ibid, fn.1, p. 137. In a Tablet Bahá'u'lláh states: "The Holy Tree (Sadrat) is, in a sense, the Manifestation of the One True God, exalted be He. The Blessed Tree in the Land of Za'farán referreth to the land which is flourishing, blessed, holy and all-perfumed, where that Tree hath been planted."
    [31] ibid, p. 246
    [32] The Kitáb-i-Íqán, p. 54
    [33] Gleanings From the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 271
    [34] Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 248
    [35] Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, pp. 140-141
    [36] ibid, p. 40 (from a Tablet sent to Nasiri'd-Dín Sháh, ruler of Persian 1848-1896 A.D.)
    [37] ibid, p. 152
    [38] Excerpts from the Qayyú'l-Asmá, Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 52
    [39] ibid, p. 56
    [40] ibid, p. 112
    [41] ibid., pp. 154-155
    [42] Some Answered Questions, p. 141 (Bahá'í Publishing Trust, Wilmette, 1954)
    [43] Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 57
    [44] Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 127, citing 'Abdu'l-Bahá.
    [45] Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 67
    [46] Citadel of Faith, pp. 80.83
    [47] Messages to the Bahá'í World, May 1953, pp. 146-147
    [48] ibid. p. 147
    [49] ibid, p. 153
    [50] ibid, pp. 153-155
    [51] Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 249
    [52] Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, pp. 62-63
    [53] Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 78
    [54] Bahá'í Prayers, pp. 200-201, Bahá'í Publishing Trust, Wilmette, 1982
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