The Family of Bahá'u'lláh
The Covenant established by Bahá'u'lláh may be said to embody two contrasting features. One facilitates the individual's integration and consolidation in the community of the Most Great Name, enabling believers to rise to the loftiest heights of heroism and self-sacrifice and of loyalty and devotion. This process imparts a new life and vigour to the body of the Cause, thereby releasing progressively a world-vitalizing spirit that propels the onward march of the Faith towards its ultimate goal of the unification of the human race. The other feature of the Covenant protects the stronghold of the Cause from all attacks by the unfaithful and, through the power inherent within the institution of the Covenant, defeats their evil doings. The result is their expulsion from the Faith and their spiritual extinction.
This second feature can best be observed through the study of the fierce opposition of most members of Bahá'u'lláh's family to the Centre of the Covenant. It created an unprecedented tempest which raged furiously within the community for several decades and threatened to disrupt its unity and shake its divinely-ordained but young and vulnerable institutions. The onslaught of the family members and other Covenant-breakers upon the Cause of God, on the one hand, and their eventual extinction, on the other, constitute the most dramatic episodes in the ministries of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi. These are some of the darkest pages in the history of the Faith yet they cast light upon the mysterious forces operating within the Cause of God — forces that tear down every obstacle as the Cause marches towards its ultimate victory. They clearly demonstrate the vitality and the indestructibility of the Faith and serve to delineate the pattern of crisis and victory that characterizes its worldwide growth and development.
Rebellion against the Covenant originated from the immediate family of Bahá'u'lláh — His sons, daughters, wives and close relatives. Since the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá refers to their manifold betrayals and evil doings, it is necessary to become informed about their relationship to Bahá'u'lláh and the manner in which He conducted His personal life.
To attempt to study the life of Bahá'u'lláh purely from the human point of view is an unhelpful exercise. Whereas man is motivated by the human spirit and lives his life as dictated by the laws of nature and his environment, Bahá'u'lláh, the Manifestation of God, lived His life in conformity with the standards of the Divine Realm and regulated His conduct in accordance with the dictates of the Most Great Spirit, which animated Him.
While the Manifestations of God all shine with the splendours of God's Revelation, they can reveal themselves in only two ways. The first is to appear in their naked glory. Should this happen, all human beings would witness their awesome power, would bow before their majesty and would submit their will entirely to God's Viceregent on earth. People would thus become puppets of God and lose their free will; all would follow the path of truth, not by their own volition but by capitulating to the irresistible power of the Manifestation of God. By the force of God's command, all would obey His teachings and would live a goodly life; no one would have the choice to be different. The Covenant of God would become meaningless because if there were no free will, how could human beings observe the laws of the Covenant? Should the Manifestation of God appear in this way and expose His august attributes to the generality of mankind, people would be devoid of the power of creativity, becoming creatures whose actions were controlled from a higher realm. The principles of justice and of reward and punishment would then become inoperative in society.
The only other way that the Manifestations of God can reveal themselves, which ensures the preservation of human free will, is to conceal their divine power behind the veil of human characteristics. Although they possess majestic, divine qualities, it is, according to Bahá'u'lláh, against the law of God for them to reveal these to the generality of mankind.
For instance, we observe with amazement that Bahá'u'lláh, the Supreme Manifestation of God, who held the powers of earth and heaven in His hands, and who, through the utterance of one word, as testified by Himself in His Tablets, could have conquered the hearts of His enemies, did not exercise His God-given spiritual powers to stay the hands of His oppressors. Thus He appeared to the generality of mankind to be an ordinary human being devoid of any superhuman powers; only those who have spiritual eyes can see a glimpse of His radiant light and recognize His station, while the great majority of the people fail to discover His inner spiritual reality. Through this method people can exercise their free will to accept or to reject the Message of God, to live in accordance with His teachings or to disobey Him.
A Manifestation of God has two sides: human and divine. The human side performs a special role, veiling the splendours of the divine light that shines within His person. Therefore, a Manifestation of God is bound to regulate His life so as to express all His human characteristics. He has to eat, sleep and carry on His life like any other person. These limitations of human nature can become barriers for people in recognizing Him as the Manifestation of God. One of these is the marriage of the Manifestation — an especially great obstacle for many of Christian background, who have been brought up to believe that celibacy befits a holy person and that marriage is inappropriate for a Manifestation of God. On the other hand, the Manifestations of God are perfect in body as in spirit and attributing a lack of sexual urge to a holy person would amount to physical deficiency rather than a virtue. Perhaps the Christian view stems from the fact that Christ seems not to have been married when He declared His mission. However, Christ did not speak against marriage. That He Himself did not marry may be because His ministry was short and for most of it He was homeless, going from place to place until He was crucified.
Since the Manifestations of God share with the people all characteristics of human nature, it follows that they may live a normal life, engage in a profession, have a home, marry and raise a family. They also possess all human emotions. They are sensitive beings who experience feelings of joy and sadness, of pain and comfort, of likes and dislikes. What distinguishes them from the rest of mankind is that their spiritual side completely dominates their physical nature and they are absolutely detached from the material world.
Another feature of the life of a Manifestation of God which is essential for hiding His glory is that He lives in accordance with the laws and conventions of the society to which He belongs. He eats the same type of food, wears the same type of clothes and carries out the same customs as the rest of the people of His culture and background. He does not live in the pattern of the future society that will emerge centuries later as a result of His teachings and about which He has full knowledge. For example, during the ministry of Jesus two thousand years ago, Christ lived in a manner similar to the Israelites of the time. By following the customs of the people of His own land, the Manifestation of God does not appear conspicuously different from the rest of the people and this is how His glory is hidden behind His human facade. Thus His contemporaries look upon Him as an ordinary man.
Bahá'u'lláh belonged to a noble family of Tihran. His father, Mirza 'Abbas-i-Nuri, known as Mirza Buzurg, held a very important ministerial position in the court of the Shah and was highly regarded by the
dignitaries of the realm. Circumstances of family life in Islamic countries were totally different from those of present-day Western society. The law of Islam concerning polygamy prevailed, allowing men to have a maximum of four wives at the same time. Mirza Buzurg married four wives and had three concubines and 15 children — five daughters and ten sons. Bahá'u'lláh was born on 12 November 1817 in Tihran. His mother, Kadijih Khanum, the second wife of Mirza Buzurg, had a son and two daughters from a previous marriage. As a result, Bahá'u'lláh had ten brothers and seven sisters. Some of them became steadfast believers, some followed Mirza Yahya and others remained indifferent or died before Bahá'u'lláh's declaration in the Garden of Ridvan.
Bahá'u'lláh received an elementary education during His childhood in Tihran. The nobility of those days usually employed the services of a teacher at home to tutor their children. The main subjects were calligraphy, the study of the Qur'an and the works of the Persian poets. This type of schooling ended after only a few years when the child was in his early teens. Bahá'u'lláh's education did not go further than this. He Himself testifies in His Tablet to Nasiri'd-Din Shah that He did not attend any school in His life:
O King! I was but a man like others, asleep upon My couch, when
lo, the breezes of the All-Glorious were wafted over Me, and taught
Me the knowledge of all that hath been. This thing is not from Me,
but from One Who is Almighty and All-Knowing. And He bade Me
lift up My voice between earth and heaven, and for this there befell
Me what hath caused the tears of every man of understanding to
flow. The learning current amongst men I studied not; their
schools I entered not. Ask of the city wherein I dwelt, that thou
mayest be well assured that I am not of them who speak falsely.
This is but a leaf which the winds of the will of thy Lord, the
Almighty, the All-Praised, have stirred. Can it be still when
the tempestuous winds are blowing? Nay, by Him Who is the Lord
of all Names and Attributes! They move it as they list.
[32 Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in Shoghi Effendi, Promised Day is Come, pp. 40-l.]
It is necessary for the purpose of studying the Covenant to become informed of Bahá'u'lláh's marriages and His children. Bahá'u'lláh had married three wives before the declaration of His mission in 1863. As has already been stated, the Manifestation of God conducts His personal life according to the customs of the time. Polygamy was a normal practice in those days; indeed, it would have been abnormal for a man who belonged to the nobility to be monogamous in that society.
In order to appreciate this subject, it is essential to become familiar with some aspects of the Islamic world of the 19th century. Among
the Muslim communities of the Middle East, women lived entirely under the domination of men and were not allowed to take part in public affairs. Girls grew up in the home of their parents, lived most of their time indoors and had no contact with the public. When they were given in marriage to their husbands (an event over which they had no control), they moved into a different house and spent most of their time in complete seclusion until they died. No man, except a very close relative, was ever allowed to see the face of a woman. She had to wear a chadur[*] and veil her face. It was considered a sin for a woman to show her face to any man. When a male guest arrived at a home, all the women had to retire into the inner apartment, their sanctuary where no strange man would ever be admitted.
[* A large piece of cloth which covers the entire body from top to toe and is wrapped around one's clothes.]
Another restriction was that women, especially unmarried girls, were not to talk to men. Neither would they be permitted to go out for shopping or other services; these were the exclusive preserve of men. Such acts would have necessitated women taking part in public affairs and coming into contact with men. So strong was this restriction that if ever a woman was seen talking to a strange man she would receive very severe punishment from her parents or husband. The stigma attached to this behaviour was so repugnant that sometimes the poor victim would commit suicide. Some Muslim clergy in Persia are known to have inflicted torturous chastisements upon a man who was accused of talking to a woman. Usually a much more severe punishment awaited a non-Muslim man if he was found speaking to a Muslim woman.
Women in those days had no status in the community. They were treated like objects. Some members of the clergy went so far as to claim that women had no souls, much as Christian theologians had done seven hundred years earlier. Within such a society a woman's life was spent almost entirely within the four walls of a house; caring for her family and the menfolk who lived there. It was very rare for a young girl to receive any education. The great majority of women were illiterate and were therefore left out of the mainstream of human progress and civilization. Even the few who received some education were circumscribed in their activities. Parents were responsible for providing a son with his livelihood, his home and all his needs — including a wife, who would be given to him as a matter of routine. Parents arranged their children's marriages and usually the parties most concerned had no say in the matter.
In the Western world today, a couple meet and get to know one another, fall in love and get married. But in the time of Bahá'u'lláh
this was not the case in the East and often not in the West either. 'Love' took second place to family duty, appropriate social ties and questions of inheritance.
It was customary to betroth a boy and a girl soon after they were born and when the boy reached his late teens he had to marry; the couple had no choice. There was no question of the partners loving each other before their marriage; the boy was not even allowed to see the face of his bride until after the wedding. If the two parties were not betrothed so young, the parents would usually seek a bride for their son once he was in his teens. This was done by a female member of the family, his mother or a sister. Once the choice was made, the marriage could take place. All the young man saw of his future wife was a figure wrapped in a chadur and heavily veiled. If he was fortunate, his female relatives had perhaps described to him what his bride really looked like.
Although couples were not in a position to choose their partners in marriage and had no possibility of knowing and loving each other, not all marriages were devoid of love and unity. It is not difficult to visualize the case of a couple, unacquainted with each other initially, who develop a bond of friendship, love and harmony after marriage. Yet within such an environment, the dominant position of the husband was noticeably upheld as he exercised unquestioned authority over his wife.
In these circumstances all the responsibility of running the home — which entailed hard labour in those days — was left to the wife, who would be lucky if there were other female members of the family to help her in her duties. It was considered improper to employ a maid to assist in the work, since only a woman who was a close relative could be admitted into the household. However, since polygamy was commonly practised, a man could usually marry up to four wives and they were expected to assist each other in managing the family home. This often became a necessity where the husband was wealthy and influential and had to maintain a large household and conduct a lifestyle befitting his station in society. It was usually the first wife who would seek out, or give her consent for, the second wife.
It is clear that marriage customs in Persia during the 19th century are not comparable to those now current in most parts of the world. The mere mention of polygamy today will raise in people's minds associations of sex, lust and corruption. But this was not true in the case of people who contracted marriages according to Islamic law over a hundred years ago. Men practised polygamy not necessarily from lust but because they were conducting their lives within a society that had established certain customs and conventions to which all had to conform. Thus a young man happily submitted his will to that of his
parents and carried out their wish in marrying someone of their choosing; thereafter he contracted further marriages as a routine matter.
Bahá'u'lláh married Asiyih Khanum in Tihran in 1251 AH (1835) when He was over 18 years of age. Asiyih Khanum, later surnamed Navvab by Bahá'u'lláh, was a daughter of a nobleman, Mirza Isma'il-i-Vazir. Her date of birth is not known. She was a most noble and faithful follower of Bahá'u'lláh who served her Lord until the end of her life in 1886. There were seven children of the marriage, four of whom died in childhood. The other three were 'Abbas, entitled the 'Most Great Branch', 'Abdu'l-Bahá; Fatimih, entitled Bahiyyih Khanum, the Greatest Holy Leaf; and Mihdi, entitled 'the Purest Branch'.
The second wife of Bahá'u'lláh, whom He married in Tihran in 1849, was Fatimih Khanum, usually referred to as Mahd-i-'Ulya. She was a cousin of Bahá'u'lláh and gave birth to six children, of whom four survived. They were one daughter, Samadiyyih, and three sons, Muhammad-'Ali, Diya'u'llah and Badi'u'llah. These four, along with their mother, violated the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh. Mahd-i-'Ulya died in 1904.
The third wife, Gawhar Khanum, was not known by any other title. The dates of her birth, marriage and death are not known. Her marriage took place some time in Baghdad before the declaration of Bahá'u'lláh's mission. While Navvab and Mahd-i-'Ulya travelled with Him in all His exiles, Gawhar Khanum remained in Baghdad with her brother, Mirza Mihdiy-i-Kashani. For some years she was among the Bahá'í refugees in Mosul and later went to 'Akka at Bahá'u'lláh's instruction. She gave birth to one daughter, Furughiyyih; mother and daughter both became Covenant-breakers after the passing of Bahá'u'lláh.
[33 See 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Memorials of the Faithful, p. 95.]
[34 See Taherzadeh, Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2.]
It is appropriate at this juncture to clarify a point that has puzzled many, namely the lack of detailed information about the wives of Bahá'u'lláh. Here, again, one has to consider the social circumstances of the time. As already stated, women in those days took no part in public affairs; their entire lives were spent at home in private life. To enquire into the life of a woman was considered unethical, even insulting. It was discourteous even to ask the name of someone's wife. She would usually be referred to as 'the person in the house' or, if she had a son, as the 'mother of so and so'. Within such a society historians (always male) usually could not invade the privacy of women by delving into their lives. To do so would highly offend the men of the household.
Although one would not find such practices in the household of Bahá'u'lláh and those believers who were close to Him did come into.
contact with the female members of His family, nevertheless, owing to the customs of the time and the privacy to which women in general were entitled, very little has been recorded about their lives by oriental historians of the Faith.
Navvab, honoured by Bahá'u'lláh with the designation 'the Most Exalted Leaf', was the embodiment of true nobility. She was utterly detached from the things of the world and was faithful to the Cause of God. Her deep attachment to the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh was one of her great distinguishing features. She had a compassionate and loving nature, was patient, humble and utterly resigned to the will of Bahá'u'lláh. Navvab suffered a great deal at the hands of those in the family who later broke the Covenant. Her faith in Bahá'u'lláh, whom she knew as the Supreme Manifestation of God, was resolute and unshakable. She served her Lord with exemplary devotion and complete self-effacement. Her daughter, the Greatest Holy Leaf, has described her in these words:
I wish you could have seen her as I first remember her, tall, slender,
graceful, eyes of a dark blue — a pearl, a flower amongst
I have been told that even when very young, her wisdom and
intelligence went remarkable. I always think of her in those earliest
days of my memory as queenly in her dignity and loveliness, full of
consideration for everybody, gentle, of a marvellous unselfishness,
no action of hers ever failed to show the loving-kindness of her
pure heart; her very presence seemed to make an atmosphere of
love and happiness whenever she came, enfolding all comers in the
fragrance of gentle courtesy.
[35 Blomfield, Chosen Highway, pp. 39-40.]
In one of His Tablets Bahá'u'lláh bestows upon Navvab the unique distinction of being His perpetual consort in all the worlds of God. 'Abdu'l-Bahá in a Tablet states that the 54th chapter of Isaiah refers to Navvab, the Most Exalted Leaf, whose 'seed shall inherit the Gentiles' and whose husband is the 'Lord of Hosts'. 'Abdu'l-Bahá also refers to the verse, 'for more [are] the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife' and states that this refers to Navvab.
The three members of the family of Navvab occupy the highest rank in the Faith. 'Abdu'l-Bahá is, of course, the Centre of the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh, the Perfect Exemplar and the embodiment of all divine virtues. His sister, the Greatest Holy Leaf, is regarded as the noblest woman of this Dispensation and its outstanding heroine. Her life was laden with unbearable sufferings in the path of Bahá'u'lláh and dedicated to the service of His Cause.
The third child of Navvab was her noble and long-suffering son, the Purest Branch. He was the one who, in the prime of youth, offered.
up his life in the path of his Lord when he fell through a skylight in the prison of 'Akka onto the floor below. In a prayer revealed after the martyrdom of the Purest Branch, Bahá'u'lláh makes the following statement, which Shoghi Effendi describes as astounding:
I have, O my Lord, offered up that which Thou hast given Me, that
Thy servants may be quickened, and all that dwell on earth be
[36 Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 188.]
It has already been stated that all the children of Mahd-i-'Ulya and Gawhar Khanum became Covenant-breakers. It is appropriate here to define the term Covenant-breaker. A believer who recognizes Bahá'u'lláh as the Manifestation of God for this age will wholeheartedly obey His teachings and commandments. One of these commandments is to turn to 'Abdu'l-Bahá as the Centre of the Covenant, to be submissive to Him and abide by His bidding. The same is true in relation to Shoghi Effendi and the Universal House of Justice. A true believer, therefore, is one who believes in Bahá'u'lláh and follows those upon whom He has placed the mantle of authority. A Covenant-breaker is one who, while professing to believe in Bahá'u'lláh, arises in active opposition to Him or to the Centre of the Covenant, 'Abdu'l-Bahá, or to Shoghi Effendi or today to the Universal House of Justice.
Bahá'u'lláh has described those who break the Covenant as 'birds of the night' that dislike the rays of the sun and flee from light, preferring the darkness. The nature of a Covenant-breaker is to perceive the spiritual power and ascendancy of the Centre of the Covenant but not to bring himself to submit to His authority. Instead he rises in opposition against the one he knows to be invested with the potency of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation.
[37 Bahá'u'lláh, in Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 148.]
The Arch-breaker of the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh was Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, the eldest son of Bahá'u'lláh's second wife, Mahd-i-'Ulya. He was born in Baghdad in the first year after Bahá'u'lláh's arrival there. From the early days of his youth he found that he could not rise to the level of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, who was nine years his senior. He lacked the spiritual qualities that distinguished his eldest brother, who became known as 'the Master' from the early days in Baghdad. The most essential prerequisites for the spiritual survival of all those who were close to Bahá'u'lláh were humility, self-effacement and utter nothingness in His presence. If these qualities were missing in an individual, he would be in great danger of spiritual downfall and eventual extinction. While 'Abdu'l-Bahá, the Greatest Holy Leaf, the Purest Branch and their illustrious mother were all embodiments of servitude and selflessness, Muhammad-'Ali, his brothers, his sister and their mother were the opposite. Although the latter were all sheltered
beneath Bahá'u'lláh's protection and flourished through the outpouring of His favours, they were the victims of selfish desires and worldly ambitions. During Bahá'u'lláh's lifetime they were subdued by His authority and kept under control through His admonitions. At the same time, Mirza Muhammad-'Ali and his brothers were the recipients of a great many favours from the believers who, because of their love for Bahá'u'lláh, honoured and revered them too. Thus these three sons acquired an undeserved prestige and basked in the sunshine of their father's glory and majesty.
Inwardly Mirza Muhammad-'Ali was faithless and led his two younger brothers in the same direction, while outwardly he used the power of the Faith and the resources of the community to bolster his own image in the eyes of Bahá'u'lláh's followers. He emerged as an important person in the service of his father by transcribing some of His Tablets and by the use of calligraphy, of which he was a master. From the days of his youth he entertained the ambition to occupy a position of eminence within the Faith, similar to that of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, who, from early on, had distinguished Himself among the entire family.
Another Covenant-breaker was Mahd-i-'Ulya's daughter Samadiyyih. With her husband Majdu'd-Din she joined hands with the arch-breaker of the Covenant and inflicted great sufferings upon 'Abdu'l-Bahá The second son of Mahd-i-'Ulya, Mirza Diya'u'llah, was a vacillating person who wavered in his allegiance to the Centre of the Covenant. He was easily manipulated and became a willing tool in the hands of Mirza Muhammad-'Ali. He died six years after the passing of Bahá'u'lláh and therefore did not live long enough to take part in the act of opposition to the Master.
The youngest son, Badi'u'llah, was the closest ally of the Arch-breaker of the Covenant. He died at an advanced age in 1950, leaving behind bitter memories of acts of treachery, deceit and arrogance. His venomous attacks on 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi stained the annals of the glorious Faith his own father had founded. Mahd-i-'Ulya herself, from the early days of Baghdad, harboured a great enmity towards 'Abdu'l-Bahá and was a motivating force behind Mirza Muhammad-'Ali causing great suffering for the Master, whom she bitterly despised.
Gawhar Khanum, the third wife of Bahá'u'lláh, had only one daughter, Furughiyyih, who was married to Siyyid 'Ali Afnan, a bitter enemy of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Led by Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, both mother and daughter rebelled against the Centre of the Covenant. Furughiyyih's children, especially her eldest son Nayyir, described by Shoghi Effendi as the 'pivot of machinations', spread the virus of Covenant-breaking in the family of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and caused all of its members o succumb to this deadly disease.
[38 There is a further reference to him to chapter 13.]
[39 Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Bahá'í World, p. 24.]
It is clear from the foregoing that the history of Bahá'u'lláh's family has two contrasting features: one, glory and faithfulness; the other, dishonour and treachery. Navvab, her two sons 'Abdu'l-Bahá and the Purest Branch, and her daughter the Greatest Holy Leaf, shine brilliantly above the horizon of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation and occupy immeasurably exalted positions within His Cause. The rest of the family including Mahd-i-'Ulya, Gawhar Khanum and their sons and daughters, all became darkened and perished spiritually, sinking miserably into ignominy and oblivion. This contrast of light and darkness, of good and evil in Bahá'u'lláh's own family is one of the most thought-provoking and mysterious features of His ministry. His eldest Son was the perfect mirror reflecting His light and the Centre of His mighty Covenant while another son turned into the 'centre of sedition' and the arch-breaker of that same Covenant.
Many people are puzzled by the fact that almost the entire family of Bahá'u'lláh defected. Why is it that those who were nearest to Him, who were members of His household, His sons and daughters, should be foremost among the violators of His Covenant? In normal circumstances, when a person attains a prominent position in the community, it is often the family members who rally around him and lend their whole-hearted support. But in the case of Bahá'u'lláh it was the reverse and a similar situation was created within the family of 'Abdu'l-Bahá after His passing. To appreciate the reasons for this, we observe once again that the proper attitude of a believer towards the Manifestation of God should be a true demonstration of servitude, self-effacement and complete obedience. Whenever these qualities are absent, a barrier will be created between man and God. In such a case the believer may be associating with the Manifestation of God in person, yet because of this barrier he will not be able to appreciate His glory or become enchanted with His Revelation.
One might, by way of analogy, compare such believers to those who, with no knowledge of mathematics, hear an eminent mathematician expound his theories. They can see him in no other light than that of an ordinary human being whose words are incomprehensible to them. They judge the scientist by their own standards and consequently remain unmoved by his intellectual powers. The closer they are to him, the better they can see his human nature, which acts as a barrier and hides his greatness from them. Only those who understand mathematics can appreciate the real genius of the scientist. In their view, his scientific knowledge outweighs his human characteristics and therefore they do not focus their attention on his outward appearance and human limitations.
This analogy sheds light on the Covenant-breaking by most of the members of Bahá'u'lláh's family and on the reasons for their unfaithfulness
to Him. Mirza Muhammad-'Ali and his kinsfolk who followed him did not possess that spiritual quality which makes a man humble and enables him to recognize the splendours of God's Revelation in this day. Because of their ambitious nature and their lack of spirituality and self-effacement, their inner eyes were blinded — unable to discern Bahá'u'lláh's spiritual powers. They could see Him only with their outward eyes, and because they were closest to Him they saw Him as an ordinary human being. They found Him to be, in their estimation, just a great man and nothing more. In reality, they had not recognized Bahá'u'lláh as a Manifestation of God. As long as Bahá'u'lláh was among them, they were subdued by His authority, basked in the light of His favours and were accorded honours and privileges by His followers. But after His ascension, these same family members turned their backs on Him and broke the Covenant.