I was at first doubtful as to whether the passages here cited were really translated by Behá from some Arabic work bearing his name, or whether they were in truth extracts from a work of his own called 'Hidden Words' (~~~) whereof I had heard frequent mention amongst the Bábís. The following passage on p. 379 of Mr Merrick's translation of a work on Shi'ite theology called ~~~ seemed to bear on the question:- "After the Prophet's death Fátima was affected in spirit to a degree which none but God knew. Jebrá'íl was sent down daily to comfort her, and 'Alí wrote what the angel said, and this is the Book of Fátima which is now with the Imám Mahdí." On consulting Rieu's Catalogue of the Persian MSS. in the British Museum, I found mention (vol. ii, p. 829 b.) of a work entitled ~~~ composed by Mullá Muhsin-i-Feyz of Káshán, and described as consisting of "one hundred sayings of Imáms and Súfís in Arabic, with Persian commentary." I seized the first opportunity of examining this work, but a search of about two hours through its pages revealed nothing resembling the passages in the text before us. Finally I wrote to Acre, asking, amongst other questions, what might be the true nature of the work here alluded to. The following answer (which is authoritative) was returned:- [Translation] "Fifth Question. Concerning the mention of the matters in the Hidden Book of Fátima (upon her be the peace of God). The answer is this, that the sect of Persia, that is the Shi'ites, who regard themselves as pure, and the [rest of the] world (we take refuge with God!] as unclean, believe that after His Highness the Seal of the Prophets [Muhammad] Her Highness Fátima (upon her be the blessings of God) was occupied night and day in weeping, wailing, and lamenting over the fate of her illustrious father. Therefore was Jebrá'íl commanded by the Lord Most Glorious to commune, converse, and associate with Her Highness Fátima; and [footnote goes onto page 124] he used to speak words causing consolation and quietude of heart. These words were collected and named 'The Book of Fátima' (~~~). And they [i.e. the Shi'ites] believe that this Book is with His Highness the Ká'im [i.e. the Imám Mahdí] and shall appear in the days of his appearance. But of this Book nought is known save the name, and indeed it is a name without form and a title without reality. And His Highness the Existent [i.e. Behá'u'lláh] willed to make known the appearance of the Ká'im by intimation and implication; therefore was it mentioned in this manner for a wise reason which he had. And that which is mentioned under the name of the Book in the Epistle to His Majesty the King [of Persia] (may God assist him) is from the 'Hidden Words' ~~~ which was revealed before the Epistle to His Majesty the King. The 'Hidden Words' was revealed in the languages of eloquence (Arabic) and of light (Persian). It hath been commanded that some portion of it shall be written and sent specially for you, that you may become cognizant of the truth of the matter. At all events both the Persian and the Arabic thereof were revealed in this manifestation. As to the pronoun" [I had asked whether the pronoun in ~~~ referred to God, or to Gabriel, or to Fátima, i.e. whether its subject was masculine or feminine] "he says, 'It refers to the Hidden Unseen, from the heaven of whose Grace all verses are revealed.'"
Edward Granville Browne
Have ye forgotten that true and radiant morn, when in those hallowed and blessed surroundings ye were all gathered in My presence beneath the shade of the tree of life, which is planted in the all-glorious paradise? Awe-struck ye listened as I gave utterance to these three most holy words: O friends! Prefer not your will to Mine, never desire that which I have not desired for you, and approach Me not with lifeless hearts, defiled with worldly desires and cravings. Would ye but sanctify your souls, ye would at this present hour recall that place and those surroundings, and the truth of My utterance should be made evident unto all of you.Since this is a mystical/spiritual teaching, it has a few different answers. Most, I believe, refer to the Covenant God established with humankind. To best explain, let me provide some excerpts from four books: (1) Taherzadeh, (2) Secret of Divine Civilization, (3) The Qur'an, and (4) Annemarie Schimmel's Mysical Dimensions of Islam. First, let me excerpt some passages in Taherzadeh which discuss this. From Rev. of Bahá'u'lláh vol.1 80-82:
Bahá'u'lláh, Hidden Words, Persian #19
"There are a few passages in The Hidden Words which refer implicitly to the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh a Covenant which later became explicit with the revelation of the Will and Testament of Bahá'u'lláh, designated by Him the Kitáb-i-'Ahdí (The Book of My Covenant).
`Abdu'l-Bahá, Who is the Centre of that same Covenant and the appointed Interpreter of the words of Bahá'u'lláh, has explained the meaning of some of these passages. One instance is the following:
O My Friends! Have ye forgotten that true and radiant morn, when in those hallowed and blessed surroundings ye were all gathered in My presence beneath the shade of the tree of life, which is planted in the all-glorious paradise?....
The `true and radiant morn', `Abdu'l-Bahá stated, refers to the Revelation of the Báb, the `tree of life' to Bahá'u'lláh, and the `hallowed and blessed surroundings' to the heart of the individual. He further explained that the gathering referred to in this verse was not a physical but a spiritual one. The call of God was raised within the sanctuary of their hearts; but they did not respond and were bewildered and awestruck.
In other Tablets, `Abdu'l-Bahá interpreted the meaning of the gathering beneath the shade of the `tree of life' as the establishment of the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh. `The Lord, the All-Glorified,' in the words of `Abdu'l-Bahá, `hath, beneath the shade of the Tree of Anisa [tree of life], made a new Covenant and established a great Testament...' That this Covenant was established at so early a stage in the ministry of Bahá'u'lláh is one of the mysteries of Divine Revelation. Indeed, in a Tablet `Abdu'l-Bahá stated that when the day-star of the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh dawned upon humanity, the first ray which shed its light upon those gathered beneath the `tree of life' was that of the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh.
Another passage in The Hidden Words which refers to this Covenant is the following:O My Friends! Call ye to mind that covenant ye have entered into with Me upon Mount Paran, situate within the hallowed precincts of Zaman. I have taken to witness the concourse on high [The gathering of the holy souls in the next world.] and the dwellers in the city of eternity, yet now none do I find faithful unto the covenant...
`Abdu'l-Bahá has stated that the covenant upon Mount Paran refers to the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh which was written by the Exalted Pen in the Holy Land and which was announced there after His ascension."
YUSUFALI: As to those who hold fast by the Book and establish regular prayer,- never shall We suffer the reward of the righteous to perish. SHAKIR: And (as for) those who hold fast by the Book and keep up prayer, surely We do not waste the reward of the right doers.
YUSUFALI: When We shook the Mount over them, as if it had been a canopy, and they thought it was going to fall on them (We said): "Hold firmly to what We have given you, and bring (ever) to remembrance what is therein; perchance ye may fear Alláh." SHAKIR: And when We shook the mountain over them as if it were a covering overhead, and they thought that it was going to fall down upon them: Take hold of what We have given you with firmness, and be mindful of what is in it, so that you may guard (against evil).
YUSUFALI: When thy Lord drew forth from the Children of Adam - from their loins - their descendants, and made them testify concerning themselves, (saying): "Am I not your Lord (who cherishes and sustains you)?"- They said: "Yea! We do testify!" (This), lest ye should say on the Day of Judgment: "Of this we were never mindful": SHAKIR: And when your Lord brought forth from the children of Adam, from their backs, their descendants, and made them bear witness against their own souls: Am I not your Lord? They said: Yes! we bear witness. Lest you should say on the day of resurrection: Surely we were heedless of this.
YUSUFALI: Or lest ye should say: "Our fathers before us may have taken false gods, but we are (their) descendants after them: wilt Thou then destroy us because of the deeds of men who were futile?" SHAKIR: Or you should say: Only our fathers associated others (with Alláh) before, and we were an offspring after them: Wilt Thou then destroy us for what the vain doers did?
YUSUFALI: Thus do We explain the signs in detail; and perchance they may turn (unto Us). SHAKIR: And thus do We make clear the communications, and that haply they might return.
"1146. This passage has led to differences of opinion in interpretation. According to the dominant opinion of commentators each individual in the posterity of Adam had a separate existence from the time of Adam, and a Covenant was taken from all of them, which is binding accordingly on each individual. The words in the text refer to the descendants of the Children of Adam, i.e., to all humanity, born or unborn, without any limit of time. Adam's seed carries on the existence of Adam and succeeds to his spiritual heritage. Humanity has been given by Alláh certain powers and faculties, whose possession creates on our side special spiritual obligations which we must faithfully discharge. These obligations may from a legal point of view be considered as arising from implied Covenants. In the preceding verse (vii 171) a reference was made to the implied Covenant of the Jewish nation. Now we consider the implied Covenant of the whole of humanity, for the Holy Prophet's mission was world-wide.
1147. The Covenant is completed in this way. We acknowledge that Alláh is our Creator, Cherisher, and Sustainer: therefore we acknowledge our duty to Him: when we so testify concerning ourselves, the obligation is as it were assumed by us; for it follows from our very nature when it is pure and uncorrupted."
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