which We have veiled from Thee. Thy Lord is, verily, the Concealer, the All-Knowing!'" More specifically Bahá'u'lláh had, referring to Mírzá Muhammad-`Alí in clear and unequivocal language, affirmed: "He, verily, is but one of My servants... Should he for a moment pass out from under the shadow of the Cause, he surely shall be brought to naught." Furthermore, in a no less emphatic language, He, again in connection with Mírzá Muhammad-`Alí had stated: "By God, the True One! Were We, for a single instant, to withhold from him the outpourings of Our Cause, he would wither, and would fall upon the dust." `Abdu'l-Bahá Himself had, moreover, testified: "There is no doubt that in a thousand passages in the sacred writings of Bahá'u'lláh the breakers of the Covenant have been execrated." Some of these passages He Himself compiled, ere His departure from this world, and incorporated them in one of His last Tablets, as a warning and safeguard against those who, throughout His ministry, had manifested so implacable a hatred against Him, and had come so near to subverting the foundations of a Covenant on which not only His own authority but the integrity of the Faith itself depended.
The Rise and Establishment of the Faith in the West
Though the rebellion of Mírzá Muhammad-`Alí precipitated many sombre and distressing events, and though its dire consequences continued for several years to obscure the light of the Covenant, to endanger the life of its appointed Center, and to distract the thoughts and retard the progress of the activities of its supporters in both the East and the West, yet the entire episode, viewed in its proper perspective, proved to be neither more nor less than one of those periodic crises which, since the inception of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, and throughout a whole century, have been instrumental in weeding out its harmful elements, in fortifying its foundations, in demonstrating its resilience, and in releasing a further measure of its latent powers.
Now that the provisions of a divinely appointed Covenant had been indubitably proclaimed; now that the purpose of the Covenant was clearly apprehended and its fundamentals had become immovably established in the hearts of the overwhelming majority of the adherents of the Faith; and now that the first assaults launched by its would-be subverters had been successfully repulsed, the Cause for which that Covenant had been designed could forge ahead along the course traced for it by the finger of its Author. Shining exploits and unforgettable victories had already signalized the birth of that Cause and accompanied its rise in several countries of the Asiatic continent, and particularly in the homeland of its Founder. The mission of its newly-appointed Leader, the steward of its glory and the diffuser of its light, was, as conceived by Himself, to enrich and extend the bounds of the incorruptible patrimony entrusted to His hands by shedding the illumination of His Father's Faith upon the West, by expounding the fundamental precepts of that Faith and its cardinal principles, by consolidating the activities which had already been initiated for the promotion of its interests, and, finally, by ushering in, through the provisions of His own Will, the Formative Age in its evolution.
A year after the ascension of Bahá'u'lláh, `Abdu'l-Bahá had, in a verse which He had revealed, and which had evoked the derision of the Covenant-breakers, already foreshadowed an auspicious event which
posterity would recognize as one of the greatest triumphs of His ministry, which in the end would confer an inestimable blessing upon the western world, and which erelong was to dispel the grief and the apprehensions that had surrounded the community of His fellow-exiles in Akká. The Great Republic of the West, above all the other countries of the Occident, was singled out to be the first recipient of God's inestimable blessing, and to become the chief agent in its transmission to so many of her sister nations throughout the five continents of the earth.
The importance of so momentous a development in the evolution of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh--the establishment of His Cause in the North American continent--at a time when `Abdu'l-Bahá had just inaugurated His Mission, and was still in the throes of the most grievous crisis with which He was ever confronted, can in no wise be overestimated. As far back as the year which witnessed the birth of the Faith in Shíráz the Báb had, in the Qayyúmu'l-Asmá, after having warned in a memorable passage the peoples of both the Orient and the Occident, directly addressed the "peoples of the West," and significantly bidden them "issue forth" from their "cities" to aid God, and "become as brethren" in His "one and indivisible religion." "In the East," Bahá'u'lláh Himself had, in anticipation of this development, written, "the light of His Revelation hath broken; in the West the signs of His dominion have appeared." "Should they attempt," He, moreover, had predicted, "to conceal its light on the continent, it will assuredly rear its head in the midmost heart of the ocean, and, raising its voice, proclaim: `I am the lifegiver of the world!'" "Had this Cause been revealed in the West," He, shortly before His ascension, is reported by Nabíl in his narrative to have stated, "had Our verses been sent from the West to Persia and other countries of the East, it would have become evident how the people of the Occident would have embraced Our Cause. The people of Persia, however, have failed to appreciate it." "From the beginning of time until the present day," is `Abdu'l-Bahá's own testimony, "the light of Divine Revelation hath risen in the East and shed its radiance upon the West. The illumination thus shed hath, however, acquired in the West an extraordinary brilliancy. Consider the Faith proclaimed by Jesus. Though it first appeared in the East, yet not until its light had been shed upon the West did the full measure of its potentialities become manifest." "The day is approaching," He has affirmed, "when ye shall witness how, through the splendor of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, the West will have replaced the East, radiating the light of Divine
guidance." And again: "The West hath acquired illumination from the East, but, in some respects, the reflection of the light hath been greater in the Occident." Furthermore, "The East hath, verily, been illumined with the light of the Kingdom. Erelong will this same light shed a still greater illumination upon the West."
More specifically has the Author of the Bahá'í Revelation Himself chosen to confer upon the rulers of the American continent the unique honor of addressing them collectively in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, His most Holy Book, significantly exhorting them to "adorn the temple of dominion with the ornament of justice and of the fear of God, and its head with the crown of the remembrance" of their Lord, and bidding them "bind with the hands of justice the broken," and "crush the oppressor" with the "rod of the commandments" of their "Lord, the Ordainer, the All-Wise." "The continent of America," wrote `Abdu'l-Bahá, "is, in the eyes of the one true God, the land wherein the splendors of His light shall be revealed, where the mysteries of His Faith shall be unveiled, where the righteous will abide and the free assemble." "The American continent," He has furthermore predicted, "giveth signs and evidences of very great advancement. Its future is even more promising, for its influence and illumination are far reaching. It will lead all nations spiritually."
"The American people," `Abdu'l-Bahá, even more distinctly, singling out for His special favor the Great Republic of the West, the leading nation of the American continent, has revealed, "are indeed worthy of being the first to build the Tabernacle of the Most Great Peace, and proclaim the oneness of mankind." And again: "This American nation is equipped and empowered to accomplish that which will adorn the pages of history, to become the envy of the world, and be blest in both the East and the West for the triumph of its people." Furthermore: "May this American democracy be the first nation to establish the foundation of international agreement. May it be the first nation to proclaim the unity of mankind. May it be the first to unfurl the standard of the Most Great Peace." "May the inhabitants of this country," He, moreover has written, "...rise from their present material attainment to such heights that heavenly illumination may stream from this center to all the peoples of the world."
"O ye apostles of Bahá'u'lláh!," `Abdu'l-Bahá has thus addressed the believers of the North American continent, "...consider how exalted and lofty is the station you are destined to attain... The full measure of your success is as yet unrevealed, its significance still unapprehended." And again: "Your mission is unspeakably glorious.
Should success crown your enterprise, America will assuredly evolve into a center from which waves of spiritual power will emanate, and the throne of the Kingdom of God, will in the plenitude of its majesty and glory, be firmly established." And finally, this stirring affirmation: "The moment this Divine Message is carried forward by the American believers from the shores of America, and is propagated through the continents of Europe, of Asia, of Africa and of Australasia, and as far as the islands of the Pacific, this community will find itself securely established upon the throne of an everlasting dominion... Then will the whole earth resound with the praises of its majesty and greatness."
Little wonder that a community belonging to a nation so abundantly blessed, a nation occupying so eminent a position in a continent so richly endowed, should have been able to add, during the fifty years of its existence, many a page rich with victories to the annals of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh. This is the community, it should be remembered, which, ever since it was called into being through the creative energies released by the proclamation of the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh, was nursed in the lap of `Abdu'l-Bahá's unfailing solicitude, and was trained by Him to discharge its unique mission through the revelation of innumerable Tablets, through the instructions issued to returning pilgrims, through the despatch of special messengers, through His own travels at a later date, across the North American continent, through the emphasis laid by Him on the institution of the Covenant in the course of those travels, and finally through His mandate embodied in the Tablets of the Divine Plan. This is the community which, from its earliest infancy until the present day, has unremittingly labored and succeeded, through its own unaided efforts, in implanting the banner of Bahá'u'lláh in the vast majority of the sixty countries which, in both the East and the West, can now claim the honor of being included within the pale of His Faith. To this community belongs the distinction of having evolved the pattern, and of having been the first to erect the framework, of the administrative institutions that herald the advent of the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh. Through the efforts of its members the Mother Temple of the West, the Harbinger of that Order, one of the noblest institutions ordained in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, and the most stately edifice reared in the entire Bahá'í world, has been erected in the very heart of the North American continent. Through the assiduous labors of its pioneers, its teachers and its administrators, the literature of the Faith has been enormously expanded, its aims and purposes fearlessly defended, and its nascent institutions solidly
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