Confirmations of Bahá'u'lláh Bestow Victory
5-WT Had not the promised aid of the Ancient Beauty been
graciously vouchsafed at every moment to this one, unworthy
though he be, he [Mirza Muhammad-'Ali] surely would have
destroyed, nay exterminated the Cause of God and utterly
subverted the Divine Edifice. But, praised be the Lord, the
triumphant assistance of the Abha Kingdom was received, the
hosts of the Realm above hastened to bestow victory. The Cause
of God was promoted far and wide, the call of the True One was
noised abroad, ears in all regions were inclined to the Word of
God, His standard was unfurled, the ensigns of Holiness gloriously
waved aloft and the verses celebrating His Divine Unity
'This one, unworthy though he be' is how 'Abdu'l-Bahá refers to Himself. Throughout His life, 'Abdu'l-Bahá attributed all His achievements to the confirmations of Bahá'u'lláh. Here He affirms that He was the recipient of 'the promised aid of the Ancient Beauty'. One may come to the obvious conclusion that Bahá'u'lláh would assist 'Abdu'l-Bahá, whom He had appointed as the Centre of His Covenant, unconditionally and at all times but Bahá'u'lláh has promised the believers that they, too, will receive His confirmations upon the fulfilment of certain conditions.
The study of the holy writings makes it clear that the growth and progress of the Faith and the development of its institutions depend upon the interaction of two forces. One is released from the realms on high while the other is generated through the efforts of the believers who serve the Cause with devotion and sincerity. When these two forces combine, the Faith of God is promoted. In His bounty, God has ordained that the believers will receive divine confirmations only when they make the effort to serve Him.
The progress of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh is dependent upon the actions of the believers. Every pure deed attracts the confirmations of Bahá'u'lláh, which in turn bring victory to the Cause. But the first step must be taken by the individual; without it, God's assistance cannot reach the Bahá'í community. This is one of the irrevocable laws of the Covenant of God, which has two sides: God's and man's. God's part of the Covenant cannot be confused with man's. God pours out His bounties and grace upon man but man must take the necessary action to receive them. Unless he opens his heart and submits himself, God's gifts cannot reach him. In the Hidden Words Bahá'u'lláh has laid down the law of this Covenant in these words:
Love Me, that I may love thee. If thou lovest Me not, My love can
in no wise reach thee. Know this, O servant.
[162 Bahá'u'lláh, Hidden Words, Arabic no. 5.]
Indeed, the greatest source of strength for a Bahá'í is to draw from the power of Bahá'u'lláh. It is the only way through which the believer can effectively promote His Cause. The essential prerequisite for gaining access to this limitless source of spiritual energy is to have faith in Bahá'u'lláh and to believe wholeheartedly that this power exists. Without a sincere belief that Bahá'u'lláh is the Manifestation of God for this age and that He, and He alone, is the source of all creative energies destined to vivify the souls of all men, a Bahá'í cannot succeed in tapping this mighty reservoir of celestial strength. It is the same in nature. How can a person use a form of energy without knowing its source? To have certitude in the Faith is the first condition for success in drawing on the power of Bahá'u'lláh.
The second condition is to become humble and consider oneself as utter nothingness in relation to God and His Manifestation. To appreciate this, let us turn to the laws of nature, which are similar to those of the spiritual world. This is because God's creation, both physical and spiritual, is one. The laws of the lower kingdom exist in the higher one but are applied on a higher level.
In the physical world, energy can be generated between two points where there is a difference of levels. Water can flow from a higher plane onto a lower one. Electrical energy may be generated when there is a difference of potential between two points in the circuit. Similarly, to draw on the power of Bahá'u'lláh, the believer must assume a lowly position in relation to Bahá'u'lláh's lofty station. Bahá'u'lláh may be likened to the summit of a mountain and the believers to the valley below. In the same way that water pours from the mountaintop into the valley, the energies of the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh and the token of His power and might can reach a Bahá'í who turns to Him in a spirit of true humility and servitude. The writings of the Central Figures of the Faith bear abundant testimony to this basic principle which governs the relationship of man to his Creator. In the Hidden Words Bahá'u'lláh prescribes: 'Humble thyself before Me, that I may graciously visit thee.' When the believer assumes the position of humility and utter nothingness towards God, he will long to commune with Him in a spirit of prayer that is without desire and 'transcends the murmur of syllables and sounds' — a prayer of praise and glorification of God.
[163 ibid. Arabic no. 42. (Bahá'u'lláh, Hidden Words.)]
[164 Bahá'u'lláh, Bahá'í Prayers, p. 71.]
To have faith, to become humble and to raise one's voice in prayer and glorification of God are not sufficient prerequisites for drawing on the power of Bahá'u'lláh. There is yet another vital condition which the individual must fulfil, namely, to arise to serve the Cause. If he does not act, the channels of grace will remain closed and no amount of devotion to Bahá'u'lláh or humility before Him can release the powers from on high. The very act of arising is, in itself, bound to attract the confirmations of Bahá'u'lláh. In many of His Tablets Bahá'u'lláh has assured His followers that if they arise with faith and devotion to promote His Cause, the unseen hosts of His confirmations will descend upon them and make them victorious. The following passage gleaned from the Kitab-i-Aqdas is one such statement among many:
Verily, we behold you from Our realm of glory, and shall aid
whosoever will arise for the triumph of Our Cause with the hosts
of the Concourse on high and a company of Our favoured
[165 Bahá'u'lláh, Kitab-i-Aqdas, para. 53.]
The belief that the power of Bahá'u'lláh can, by itself, accomplish the promotion and establishment of the Faith throughout the world without the believers fulfilling their obligations to teach and build up the institutions of the Cause, is unfounded and completely against the laws of the Covenant of God. Indeed, the hands of Bahá'u'lláh are tied if the individual does not arise to serve His Cause. In some ,of His writings going as far back as the days of 'Akka, Bahá'u'lláh has stated that if all the believers had fully carried out His teachings in their daily lives, the great majority of the peoples of the world would have recognized Him and embraced His Cause in His days.
[166 Bahá'u'lláh, Lawh-i-Tibb (Tablet of Medicine) in Majmu'iy-i-Alwah.]
From the beginning of this Dispensation up to the present time, every victory that the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh has achieved is due to divine confirmations and assistance; and it shall be. so in the future. The power released from on high has been responsible for the progress of the Cause and the building of its embryonic institutions. With insignificant resources, handicapped by the lack of facilities and manpower, and often devoid of much knowledge and learning, thousands of men and women have scattered throughout the world and pioneered to the most inhospitable areas of the globe. And yet, in spite of their powerlessness and inadequacy, these souls have won astounding victories for the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh. All who have arisen with devotion have experienced the unfailing confirmations of Bahá'u'lláh reaching them in miraculous ways, enabling them to teach the Faith and build its institutions in spite of great and at times seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
The outpouring of confirmations pledged in the Kitab-i-Aqdas is clearly conditional upon the activity of the individual believer. It depends upon one action which may be summed up by the single word 'arise'. It is to the believer's inner urge to teach the Faith and his act of 'arising' that God responds, releasing His powers from on high to sustain and strengthen him in his efforts to promote the word of God. Through the mere act of stepping forward to serve the Cause, great bounties will flood the soul, transforming its weakness into strength and its ignorance into wisdom and understanding.
In many of His Tablets Bahá'u'lláh makes similar promises. For example, He utters these assuring words:
By the righteousness of God! Whoso openeth his lips in this Day
and maketh mention of the name of his Lord, the hosts of Divine
inspiration shall descend upon him from the heaven of My name,
the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. On him shall also descend the
Concourse on high, each bearing aloft a chalice of pure light. Thus
hath it been foreordained in the realm of God's Revelation, by the
behest of Him Who is the All-Glorious, the Most Powerful.
[167 Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings, p. 280.]
From 'Abdu'l-Bahá, in many Tablets, have come similar assurances, such as this one:
By the Lord of the Kingdom! If one arise to promote the Word of
God with a pure heart, overflowing with the love of God and
severed from the world, the Lord of Hosts will assist him with such
a power as will penetrate the core of the existent beings.
[168 'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Compilation, vol. 2, p. 211.]
And Shoghi Effendi, too, reaffirms these overwhelming promises, writing through his secretary:
Today, as never before, the magnet which attracts the blessings
from on high is teaching the Faith of God. The Hosts of Heaven
are poised between heaven and earth, just waiting, and patiently,
for the Bahá'í to step forth, with pure devotion and consecration,
to teach the Cause of God, so they may rush to his aid and assistance...
Let those who wish to achieve immortality step forth and
raise the Divine Call. They will be astonished at the spiritual
victories they will gain.
[169 . From a letter of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, 28 March
1953, in ibid. p. 223. (Compilation, vol. 2)]
In the passage of the Will and Testament cited above, 'Abdu'l-Bahá attributes the progress of the Cause to the confirmations of Bahá'u'lláh. When He wrote the Will and Testament the Covenant-breakers were at the height of their activities against the Master but those who were steadfast in the Covenant rallied around 'Abdu'l-Bahá and arose with vigour and devotion to defend the Covenant and thus attracted the bountiful confirmations of Bahá'u'lláh to themselves. These souls were enabled to turn the machinations of the Covenant-breakers into victory for the Cause.
This is why 'Abdu'l-Bahá states that 'the Cause of God was promoted far and wide...' A study of the history of the Faith during this period demonstrates that in spite of great opposition from Mirza Muhammad-'Ali and his followers, who created much confusion among the Bahá'ís, the believers succeeded in promoting the Faith and increasing the number of its steadfast and avowed supporters in the East and the West.
In Persia the expansion of the Faith continued over the years and the martyrdom of many released a new power and strength within the Bahá'í community. As already mentioned, the efforts of Covenant-breakers in Persia soon ended in failure, which in turn created much enthusiasm and devotion in the hearts of the believers. Steadfastness in the Covenant was the main challenge of the day and every Bahá'í turned his heart and soul to the Master. Many Bahá'í families chose new surnames, consisting of derivatives of the words 'Covenant', 'steadfast', 'firm', etc. The more Mirza Muhammad-'Ali spread falsehoods about 'Abdu'l-Bahá, the greater became the zeal and fervour with which the friends extolled His station.
The Message of Bahá'u'lláh was introduced to the West in the early days of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's ministry. The first person who began to teach the Faith in Chicago in 1894 was a Syrian doctor by the name of Ibrahim Khayru'llah. In the following passages, Shoghi Effendi describes the conversion of the early believers in North America:
[Dr Khayru'llah] established his residence in Chicago, and began
to teach actively and systematically the Cause he had espoused.
Within the space of two years he had communicated his impressions
to 'Abdu'l-Bahá, and reported on the remarkable success that
had attended his efforts. In 1895 an opening was vouchsafed to
him in Kenosha, which he continued to visit once a week, in the
course of his teaching activities. By the following year the believers
in these two cities, it was reported, were counted by hundreds. In
1897 he published his book, entitled the Babu'd-Din, and visited
Kansas City, New York City, Ithaca and Philadelphia, where he was
able to win for the Faith a considerable number of supporters. The
stout-hearted Thornton Chase, surnamed Thabit (Steadfast) by
'Abdu'l-Bahá and designated by Him 'the first American believer',
who became a convert to the Faith in 1894, the immortal Louisa
A. Moore, the mother teacher of the West, surnamed Liva (Banner)
by 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Dr Edward Getsinger, to whom she was later
married, Howard McNutt [sic], Arthur P. Dodge, Isabella D.
Brittingham, Lillian E Kappes, Paul K. Dealy, Chester I. Thacher
and Helen S. Goodall, whose names will ever remain associated
with the first stirrings of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh in the North
American continent, stand out as the most prominent among those
who, in those early years, awakened to the call of the New Day, and
consecrated their lives to the service of the newly proclaimed Covenant.
By 1898 Mrs Phoebe Hearst, the well-known philanthropist
(wife of Senator George E Hearst), whom Mrs Getsinger had,
while on a visit to California, attracted to the Faith, had expressed
her intention of visiting 'Abdu'l-Bahá in the Holy Land, had
invited several believers, among them Dr and Mrs Getsinger, Dr
Khayru'llah and his wife, to join her, and had completed the
necessary arrangements for their historic pilgrimage to 'Akka. In
Paris several resident Americans, among whom were May Ellis
Belles, whom Mrs Getsinger had won over to the Faith, Miss
Pearson, and Ann Apperson, both nieces of Mrs Hearst, with Mrs
Thornburgh and her daughter, were added to the party, the
number of which was later swelled in Egypt by the addition of Dr
Khayru'llah's daughters and their grand-mother whom he had
The arrival of fifteen pilgrims, in three successive parties, the
first of which, including Dr and Mrs Getsinger, reached the prison-city
of 'Akka on December 10,1898; the intimate personal contact
established between the Centre of Bahá'u'lláh's Covenant and the
newly arisen heralds of His Revelation in the West; the moving
circumstances attending their visit to His Tomb and the great
honour bestowed upon them of being conducted by 'Abdu'l-Bahá
Himself into its innermost chamber; the spirit which, through
precept and example, despite the briefness of their stay, a loving
and bountiful Host so powerfully infused into them; and the
passionate zeal and unyielding resolve which His inspiring exhortations,
His illuminating instructions and the multiple evidences
of His divine love kindled in their hearts — all these marked the
opening of a new epoch in the development of the Faith in
the West, an epoch whose significance the acts subsequently performed
by some of these same pilgrims and their fellow-disciples
have amply demonstrated.
[170 Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, pp. 256-8.]
The pilgrims returned home exhilarated and filled with a new spirit of love and devotion to the Faith. Some went to France and others to the United States. But soon the believers in the West were confronted with a devastating crisis. Khayru'llah,[*] who had taught the Faith to many of them, joined hands with Mirza Muhammad-'Ali and arose in opposition to 'Abdu'l-Bahá creating great turmoil. To support his activities, Mirza Muhammad-'Ali dispatched his son Shu'a'u'llah, accompanied by Ghulamu'llah, a son of Javad-i-Qazvini,[**] to the United States. Along with Khayru'llah, these two tried to undermine the faith of the believers. But the power of the Covenant overwhelmed them and they failed utterly to carry out their designs. A number of devoted souls, some of whom had attained the presence of the Master, arose with heroic spirit and defended the Covenant. The friends turned away from Khayru'llah and ignored his misguided claims. He was soon cast out of the community as a Covenant-breaker; his influence ebbed and eventually declined into the abyss of ignominy and perdition.
[* For more information about him see, see chapter 18.]
[** See chapter 13]
Cleansed from the pollution of Covenant-breaking, the North American Bahá'í community became stronger. Teaching work acquired a new vitality and more souls embraced the Faith. Consequently centres were opened in Washington, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, Baltimore, Cleveland, Minneapolis, Buffalo, Pittsburg, Seattle, St Paul and other places.
In Europe, the first centre was established in Paris when May Bolles, after having attained the presence of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, returned to that city. There she taught the Faith to Thomas Breakwell and Hippolyte Dreyfus, the first English and French believers respectively. In England the nucleus of the Bahá'í community was created through the efforts of Mrs Thornburgh-Cropper and Miss Ethel Rosenberg, both of whom had visited the Master in 'Akka.
Another significant development was the publication of Bahá'í literature in the United States. Shoghi Effendi states:
In 1902 a Bahá'í Publishing Society, designed to propagate the
literature of a gradually expanding community, was formed in
Chicago. A Bahá'í Bulletin, for the purpose of disseminating the
teachings of the Faith was inaugurated in New York. The 'Bahá'í
News', another periodical, subsequently appeared in Chicago,
and soon developed into a magazine entitled 'Star of the West'.
The translation of some of the most important writings of Bahá'u'lláh,
such as the 'Hidden Words', the 'Kitab-i-Iqan', the 'Tablets
to the Kings', and the 'Seven Valleys', together with the Tablets of
'Abdu'l-Bahá, as well as several treatises and pamphlets written
by Mirza Abu'l-Fadl and others, was energetically undertaken. A
considerable correspondence with various centres throughout the
Orient was initiated, and grew steadily in scope and importance.
Brief histories of the Faith, books and pamphlets written in its
defence, articles for the press, accounts of travels and pilgrimages
ages, eulogies and poems, were likewise published and widely
[171 ibid. pp. 260-l. (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By.)]
Many other developments took place in the West, all indicative of the onward march of the Faith. Although the Bahá'í community in Persia was also progressing rapidly, news of the advancement of the Cause in the United States was greeted with much more excitement in the Holy Land. This was because the Persian believers had, from the early days of the Faith, longed to witness a day when the people of the West would enter the Cause of God and lend their assistance in its promotion.
That the Bahá'í community was steadily growing in both East and West at a time when the Covenant-breakers seemed to be successful in their attacks against the Faith was mainly due to the outpouring of love and encouragement by the Master upon the believers. During a period when He was being attacked on every side by the Covenant-breakers and the believers were dispirited and disconsolate, He cheered the friends, strengthened their faith, assured them of the invincibility of the Covenant and widened their vision to see the greatness of the Cause and its ultimate victory.
'Abdu'l-Bahá's trusted secretary and confidant Dr Yunis Khan has left to posterity his reminiscences of the Master during this most turbulent period of His ministry. The following is a summary translation of his celebrated memoirs:
In those days when the showers of sedition and conspiracy were
raining down and the storms of tests and trials were blowing with
fury, a fierce hurricane was raging around the Ark of the Cause of
God. But it was the Centre of the Covenant who was at the helm.
Through the potency of His words and the authority of His
directives, He was navigating the Sacred Ark towards the shores
of salvation. The sway of His pen and the influence of His utterances
were both means whereby He was guiding the people to the highway
of blissfulness and prosperity. In the same way that the traces of
His pen are imprinted for all time upon the pages of His Tablets,
His blessed words were engraved upon the hearts of those who were
privileged to hear Him and their recollections were transmitted
from heart to heart. His utterances in those days were as varied as
In His talks He often used to share with us many glad-tidings
of the future progress of the Cause of God. He likened our days
of anguish and sadness to the early days of Christianity and Islam
which had also been very turbulent; but these religions were later
exalted in the land. Similarly, He assured us in clear terms of the
ascendancy and victory of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh... His utterances
on the future of the Cause were delivered with eloquence and
effectiveness and were imbued with a power and authority born
of the heavenly realms such that they penetrated the depths of our
hearts. Our souls were so assured and uplifted that we, His hearers,
did not have to imagine forthcoming events. Rather, we found
ourselves experiencing all the bountiful happenings of the future.
The eternal glory and ultimate successes of the Cause of God were
so vividly portrayed by Him that the passage of time was irrelevant,
for we saw the past, present and the future at the same time. All
of this was because the promises of the Master concerning the
ascendancy of the Cause were absolutely clear, explicit and irrevocable...
Now [after a few decades] many of the prophecies of
'Abdu'l-Bahá have already been fulfilled. For instance who could
ever have imagined that the small village of Haifa would become,
within so short a period, as foreshadowed by 'Abdu'l-Bahá, a great
city and an important port...
[172 Yunis Khan, Khatirat-i-Nuh-i-Salih, pp. 63-6.]
Thus through the spiritual powers conferred upon Him by Bahá'u'lláh, 'Abdu'l-Bahá strengthened the faith of those loved ones who attained His presence and enabled them to withstand the onslaught of the Covenant-breakers. This privilege was the experience of those believers who were resident in the Holy Land and the pilgrims who arrived from time to time. But the great majority of the friends who were living in other parts of the world received their spiritual sustenance from the Master through the innumerable Tablets which flowed from His pen.
Again we turn to Dr Yunis Khan's memoirs for a glimpse of the manner in which 'Abdu'l-Bahá wrote Tablets or dictated them in the presence of the believers:
There are various accounts by Bahá'í pilgrims and visitors concerning
the revelation of Tablets by 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Some have said that
at the time of revelation their souls were transported into realms
of the spirit while their whole beings were shaking with excitement.
Others have testified that they saw with their own eyes that while
the Master was entertaining believers and non-believers and
speaking to them in Turkish he was, at the same time, dictating
His Tablets in Arabic and the secretary was taking down His words.
Some have said that they saw the Master Himself writing Tablets
in Arabic while speaking in Turkish to the friends. Others have
seen Him writing a Tablet in His own hand in Persian, while at the
same time dictating one to His secretary in Arabic. Some speak of
the unusual speed of His writing as well as the majesty of His
utterances. There are no exaggerations in the above statements.
Each person has described his observations in accordance with his
The revelation of Tablets had a greater effect on the believers
than other experiences in the presence of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. His
Tablets were written in the following manner. Whenever 'Abdu'l-Bahá
was freed from His various daily engagements, He
summoned Mirza Nuru'd-Din, His secretary, and began dictating
to him. At times He would simultaneously review the Tablets
previously revealed, inscribed and ready for His signature. It was
on such occasions that He wrote and dictated at the same time. He
was truly the embodiment of the verse: 'Nothing whatsoever
keepeth Him from being occupied with any other thing.' There
was no thought or action which could distract Him.
As the revelation of Tablets continued, the believers, who were
usually gathered in the room below or in the Pilgrim House or
were walking in the streets of 'Akka were all eager to attain the
presence of the Master and hear His words as He dictated to His
secretary in answer to letters He had received. When summoned,
they would arrive and be seated. After greeting them lovingly, the
revelation of Tablets would begin. Sometimes He would dictate
in a loud, clear voice; sometimes He would chant His dictation in
the same melodious voice He used to chant the Tablet of Visitation
at the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh. As a result of this marvellous experience,
those present were immersed in the sea of astonishment.
Some would find that their questions were answered and some
learned a lesson from this heavenly experience. As the revelation
of the Tablets continued, all became exhilarated and turned their
hearts and souls to the Kingdom on high.
But alas, such meetings of fellowship and love would often be
interrupted by visiting strangers. The house of the Master was
open to all. There being no guards posted at the gate, people
would come in. If the new arrivals were not antagonistic towards
the Faith and were worthy to listen to the exalted words of the
Master, then after welcoming them and showing His loving kindness
to each one, He would resume dictating His words to His
secretary. But if they were not worthy, or if they overcrowded
the room, the Master dismissed the believers and dealt with the
situation as He deemed proper. This was how 'Abdu'l-Bahá dictated
to His secretary.
But most of the time He wrote the Tablets with His own hand
in the circumstances described above. Whenever He was free, He
would take the pen and begin to write. But as He did not wish the
believers who were assembled in the room to become tired or
bored, He would talk to them while He was writing... As others
arrived, He would welcome each and shower upon all His loving
kindness, and yet His pen was moving. Occasionally He would read
aloud what He was writing. There were also periods of silence. The
Master, as He continued to write, often broke the silence saying:
'Talk among yourselves. I will be able to hear you.' However, the
believers were so carried away by His peerless Beauty that they
would remain silent.
Only the new arrivals, those who had not been invited, such as
an Arab Shaykh or an Ottoman dignitary, would break the silence.
After the usual greetings and words of welcome which befitted the
guests, the pen of 'Abdu'l-Bahá would begin to move while He
conversed with them. Whenever there was silence, He would ask
the newly-arrived guests to broach a subject and discuss it together.
Then He Himself entered the conversation... Sometimes the
guests conducted heated arguments and yet throughout the noise
and clamour they created, the Master's pen kept on moving on His
My purpose in describing the revelation of the Tablets in detail
is to enable the people to appreciate the manner in which these
Tablets, which uplift the souls and exhilarate the hearts, were
written under such difficult and trying circumstances. Another
amazing aspect of these Tablets is that it was not only the believers
who heard the Master reciting them who were inspired but also
the deniers and mischief-makers, who were deeply moved and
humbled by this experience.
[173 ibid. pp. 259-65. (Yunis Khan, Khatirat-i-Nuh-i-Salih.)]
During those turbulent years when the Covenant-breakers were engaged in making mischief in the Holy Land, the believers' only refuge was the shelter of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's presence. He could be likened to a vast ocean at whose shores His loved ones gathered in order to receive a portion of its life-giving waters. Each believer received his share in accordance with his capacity. Some who had come empty-handed merely enjoyed seeing that vast and fathomless ocean. Others who had more capacity had come with a vessel in hand and each one received a draught of the water of life. Still others, yet unsatisfied, immersed themselves in that ocean and found some of the inestimable pearls of wisdom and knowledge which lay concealed in its depths.
That ocean — the person of 'Abdu'l-Bahá — appeared in various forms on different occasions. At times it was calm, at others surging with mighty waves. When it was calm, every beholder would find himself in a state of joy and tranquillity. When its billowing waves surged, it cast gems of inestimable value upon the shores. At such times, the utterances of 'Abdu'l-Bahá captivated the hearts of His loved ones, who were carried away into spiritual realms utterly oblivious of their own selves and wholly devoted to Him. The effect of the presence of 'Abdu'l-Bahá upon the believers cannot be adequately explained by the above analogy. Suffice it to say that the pure in heart who attained His presence were transformed into a new creation; they became spiritual giants who championed the Cause of the Covenant and defended it with heroism and sacrifice.
In his memoirs Dr Yunis Khan asserts that the mere glance of 'Abdu'l-Bahá upon a believer released mysterious forces which at times were capable of transforming his life. This is a summary of his observations as he describes the various effects of the Master's glances:
One glance, which thankfully did not appear except on rare
occasions, was that of wrath and anger. It reflected the wrath of
God from which one had to flee for refuge to Him...
There was a glance of love and compassion which was evident
at all times. It conferred life and brought joy to everyone...
Another glance was that which enchanted the hearts and
attracted the souls. I observed many a time in the narrow and dark
streets of 'Akka that with one look, the strangers were so attracted
to 'Abdu'l-Bahá as to follow Him until He dismissed them. This
particular glance has many aspects which I am not in a position
There was a glance by which He expressed His satisfaction and
pleasure to a person, as if to say, 'I am pleased with you.' This
glance was shown to both the obedient and the rebellious.
Another glance was one which released great spiritual potency.
If ever He cast such a glance upon a person, that person's greatest
wish would have been granted, if he so desired. But who is it that
in such an atmosphere could have any desire other than to seek
the good-pleasure of His Lord? I myself have seen this type of a
glance many a time. In this mood, one longs for sufferings in the
path of God. And some, like Varqa,[*] have, under the influence of
this glance, gone to the field of martyrdom.
[* For a story of his life see Taherzadeh, Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh,
There was a glance through which a person realized that all that
was hidden in his heart, whether of the past or of the future, was
known to the Master.
Above all, there was a glance which, if ever it was directed to
an individual, caused that individual to become the recipient of
knowledge and understanding. At one time we all saw two believers
who were enchanted by this glance and became the possessors of
divine knowledge. One was Fadil-i-Shirazi,[**] the other Shaykh
[**An outstanding teacher of the Faith.]
[*** He was martyred during the ministry of 'Abdu'l-Bahá.]
[174 ibid. pp. 570-3. (Yunis Khan, Khatirat-i-Nuh-i-Salih.)]