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Original title: unnamed

Translated by Juan Cole

 

[1] In his letter, Mirza Abu'l-Fadl, glory be upon him, had made inquiries. As for that learned man [Manakji], he hath also written. His particulars and that which he possesseth have become known and obvious, and what he dispatched is likewise clear. In regard to his questions, there was no utility in mentioning them one after another, or in gracing all with answers, for this would have been contrary to wisdom and would have necessitated a contradiction of what is current among the people. Rather, in what was revealed from the heaven of bounty especially for him were answers in inimitable style, of the utmost concision and brevity. It appeareth that he [Manakji] neglected to heed them properly, for had he done so he would have borne witness that not a single letter had been omitted, and would have spoken forth, saying: "Verily, this utterance is self-evident and unchallengeable." His questions were as follows:

[2] First: "The Mahabadi prophets, including Zoroaster, came to 28 persons, and each of them exalted the religion and faith of the others, and did not abrogate it. Every individual who became manifest bore witness to the correctness and validity of the ordinances and commands of his predecessor, nor was there any talk of rescinding them. They said, 'It came to us from God, and we delivered it to His servants.' On the other hand, several of the bearers of a revelation to the Hindus said, 'I am God. All creatures must enter under My authority. When discord and alienation afflict them, I shall advent myself and efface it. Each one who is manifested will say, "I am that same one who was within the first."' These returned founders of a religion, as with Abraham, Moses and Jesus, said, 'Past messengers spoke rightly, and in that time the law was thus. But now it is different, in accordance with My instructions.' Then an Arab Legislator said, 'With my appearance, all past religions have become irrelevant. The law is My law.' Of these two groups, which do you prefer, and the leaders of which do you rank above the other?"

[3] First of all it may be observed that in one station, the ranks of the prophets may differ one from another. For instance, consider Moses, the Author of a Book and of a sacred code of law. Those prophets and messengers who were sent after that Holy One were enjoined to implement His laws, for these ordinances were not at variance with the requirements of those times, as is apparent from the books that are appended to the Pentateuch. As for the allegation that the revealer of the Qur'an said that upon His appearance all the past systems of law and religion were abrogated and that the Law was His alone, that Wellspring of celestial wisdom never spoke any such words. To the contrary, He confirmed the truth of that which had been revealed to the prophets and messengers from the heavens of the divine Will by His words, "Alif. Lam. Mim. God! There is no god but He, the Living, the Merciful. In truth He sent down to thee 'the Book,' which confirmeth those which precede it. For He hath sent down the Law...," and so on, to the end of the verse. He said that all derive from God, and to God do they return. In this station, all are one soul, insofar as they did not utter a single message, word or command from their own selves. That which they spoke stemmed from the Absolute Truth, and they called all the people to the most exalted horizon, bestowing upon them the glad tidings of eternal life. In this manner, the seemingly contradictory statements reported by Manakji Sahib may be resolved into a single word and into harmonious letters. As for his question, about which of these groups is to be preferred, and which leaders are to be considered exalted over the others, in the former station the sun of the verse, "We make no distinction between any of His Messengers," is resplendent, whereas the latter is the station of "And We preferred some of the Messengers over others." In a blessed, all-encompassing, and exalted passage that We revealed aforetime lieth hidden and concealed the very matter to which he adverted:

"The All-Knowing Physician hath His finger on the pulse of mankind. He perceiveth the disease, and prescribeth, in His unerring wisdom, the remedy. Every age hath its own problem, and every soul its particular aspiration. The remedy the world needeth in its present-day afflictions can never be the same as that which a subsequent age may require. Be anxiously concerned with the needs of the age ye live in, and center your deliberations on its exigencies and requirements."

Every equitable person will bear witness that these words must be reckoned as mirrors of divine knowledge, and that therein may be found reflected with perfect clarity all that pertaineth to the question that was asked. Blessed is the one endued with insight by God, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.

[4] Another question of that peerless gentleman: "There are four groups in the world. One says that all the visible realms, from the atom to the sun, are identical with the Absolute Truth, and nothing can be seen save the Truth. Another asserts that the essence of the Necessarily Existent is the Absolute Truth, and prophets are mediators between God and the creation who serve to guide the people to the Eternal Truth. Yet another faction says that the spheres of creation are themselves the Necessarily Existent, and that all other things are their effects and fruits, which become apparent and flow, rather like a pool that becomes full, such that rushes come and go along its banks. Finally, one sect holds that the Necessarily Existent has created Nature such that by its effect and bounties every thing from the atom to the sun comes and goes, having neither a beginning nor an end, just as the rain falls and nourishes the grass and vanishes. All things are obedient to those messengers and rulers who legislate laws and ordinances for the sake of organizing the realm and administering the cities. Prophets have behaved in one way, rulers in another. The prophet says that God has commanded the people to submit and be obedient. Rulers deal with the people by means of cannon and sword. Which of these four groups is acceptable in the sight of the Eternal Truth?"

[5] All these passages are, by the Life of God, contained in and encompassed by the utterance to which the tongue of the All-Merciful gave voice aforetime. For it said, "Be anxiously concerned with the needs of the age ye live in, and center your deliberations on its exigencies and requirements." In this Day, the King of Manifestation hath appeared, and the Speaker on Sinai is speaking forth. Whatever He saith consituteth a firm foundation for the edifices of the cities of knowledge and wisdom among the people of the world. Whoever hath clung to Him is accounted among the people of insight before the supreme Countenance. This most exalted word was revealed by the exalted Pen:

"This Day is the day of seeing, for the visage of God is manifest and luminous above the horizon of appearance; and this Day is the day of hearing, for the divine call hath gone out. All must in this day cling to and speak forth in accordance with what hath been revealed in the day-spring of the scriptures and the dawning-place of revelation. It is therefore clear that the answer to the question hath been given in the kingdom of utterance by the source of divine knowledge. Blessed are they that know."

[6] Of the four positions that were mentioned, it is obvious that the second stance was and is the closest to piety. For the prophets and messengers do serve as intermediaries for the divine emanation, and whatever reacheth the creatures from the Eternal Truth is by means of these temples of sanctity and essences of abstraction, these mines of knowledge and manifestations of the divine command. The other positions can also be argued, for in one station all things were and are manifestations of the divine names and attributes. As for what was stated about the kings, in reality they are manifestations of God's name, 'the Mighty,' and are dawning places of His name 'the Powerful.' The robe that is appropriate to those august temples is justice. If they attain to adornment by it, the people of the world shall enjoy the greatest ease and bounties. Any soul who hath quaffed the wine of divine knowledge can elucidate such questions by means of clear proofs in regard to the outer world and by obvious, apparent signs in regard to the soul. Nevertheless, today a new Cause hath appeared, and a different discourse is appropriate. Even the practice of asking questions and having them answered had lapsed during the first nine years of His dispensation. This is what He said:

"Today is not the day for questions. When thou hearest the call from the dawning-place of glory, say: 'I am coming, O God of the names and cleaver of the heavens! I bear witness that thou hast become manifest and hath made manifest whatever Thou didst desire, as a command from Thee. Verily, Thou art the Omnipotent, the All-Mighty.'"

The answer to everything that the gentleman wrote is clear and obvious. The intent of that which hath been revealed in his regard from the heaven of divine grace is that he should hearken to the delightful cooing of the dove of eternity and the chanting of the denizens of the highest paradise, should praise the sweetness of this call, and should follow it where it leadeth.

[7] (One day a word was heard from the blessed lips that demonstrateth that a time will come when he [Manakji] will prove successful in an endeavor that will gain for him undying fame. After the arrival of his letter at the inaccessible and most holy Court, the Blessed Beauty said, "O servant in attendance! Although Manakji hath written as an outsider, and hath asked questions, nevertheless the aroma of love may be perceived in his letter. Ask the Eternal Truth that he might attain to what is beloved and pleasing to Him. Verily, He is Powerful over all things." From this utterance of the All-Merciful wafteth a sweet-smelling fragrance. Verily, He is the Omniscient, the All-Perceiving.)[1]

[8] Another question: "The regulations of Islam are divided into law and its sources. Now, in the Zoroastrian and Hindu religions there is no other path save the sources. They believe that all laws form part of the sources, that even drinking water or taking a woman - all the affairs of life - are thus. The question is, which of these is more pleasing to the Eternal Truth?"

[9] Sources themselves have varying ranks and stations. The principle of all principles, the foundation of all elements, is and always shall be the knowledge of God. The springtime of the recognition of the All-Merciful hath arrived in these very days. That which, in this day, appeareth from the source of authority and the manifestation of God Himself, is the principle, and all have the obligation to obey it. The answer to this question was and is also implicit in these exalted, perfect and blessed words: "Be anxiously concerned with the needs of the age ye live in, and center your deliberations on its exigencies and requirements." For this day is the lord of days, and everything that emanates from the foundation of the divine Cause is true. The basis of all principles in this day may be likened unto an ocean, whereas all past days have been nothing more than straits that branched out from it. That which is spoken forth and made manifest today is the source, and it is the fundamental utterance and the Mother Book. For although all Days are attributed to God, these days have acquired a special distinction and have been adorned by a favored relationship with Him. In some of the books of the pure ones and some of the prophets they have been referred to as the "Day of God." In one station, this Day and all that is manifest therein constituteth principles. The other days, and whatever was manifest in them, are accounted as ramifications, which are supplemental and relative. For instance, attendence at the mosque is considered a subsidiary ramification in relation to the knowledge of God, for the former is dependent upon the latter.

[10] Consider the principles of jurisprudence that have become wide spread among the clergy of this age, which they have structured and whereby they derive the divine law in accordance with their individual opinion and their legal school in the matter of immediacy. The Eternal Truth saith - may He be glorified - "Eat and drink." Yet a person doth not know whether this command should be implemented immediately or whether there is no harm in delaying. Some maintain that where a confirming piece of evidence existeth, then the matter becometh clear. One of the erudite clergymen in holy Najaf set out to circumambulate the tomb of the Fifth Imam, along with a large party. On the way, a group of bedouins attacked and pillaged the caravan. The great scholar immediately surrendered everything he possessed. His students said, "Master, in this matter your opinion was not immediacy. What happened, that you implemented it without delay?"

[11] He replied, "The bedouins made of me all of a sudden a believer in the existence of confirming proofs!"

[12] In Islam, the founder of the principles of jurisprudence was Abu Hanifah, a leader of the Sunnis. The discipline had existed earlier, as well, as you have pointed out. Today, however, acceptance or rejection is dependent upon the divine Word. These differences of opinion are not deserving of mention. Turn your face toward that which existed in the past and was a source of grace. It is not for us to speak of it, save to speak well of it. For negation hath no foundation. The servant confesseth that he hath no knowledge, and beareth witness that knowledge is with God, the Help in Peril, the Everlasting. In this day, whatever is contrary to reality is rejected, for the sun of reality hath risen over the horizon of knowledge. Blessed are the souls who have cleansed their hearts of all stains, allusions and expressions by means of the water of divine utterance, and have turned their faces toward the most exalted horizon. This is the most great gift, the supreme grace. Whatsoever soul attaineth thereto hath attained to all good. Otherwise, knowledge of other than God hath never bestowed any benefit, and never shall. Legal principles and their subsidiary ramifications, which you have mentioned, are among those matters of which the learned in the religions have spoken, according to their varying abilities. It is better for us to cling to this word: "Then leave them in their pastime of cavillings."[Qur'an 6:91] Verily, He speaketh the truth and guideth to the right path. The Cause is God's, the Omnipotent, the Alluring.

[13] Another question: "One group says that whatever is naturally and rationally acceptable is permitted and necessary according to the divine law, and that which nature and reason reject should be avoided. Another faction asserts that whatever comes from the divine law and the holy Legislator must be accepted without evidence, reason or natural proof, and must be performed in a spirit of submissiveness and without question. These are matters such as trotting at Safa and Marwah, stoning the devil at Mina, touching the foot during ablutions, and all such prescribed ritual acts. Which is acceptable?"

[14] Intellects have stations, just as the philosophers have pointed out in this regard. Whatever is such that its mention lieth outside this station hath been ignored. It is most clear and established that the intellects of all the people are not on one level. The perfect intellect is a sure guide and mentor. This exalted word hath been revealed in answer to this paragraph:

"The tongue of wisdom saith: 'Whoso lacketh Me possesseth nothing. Cast aside all that existeth, and discover Me. I am the sun of vision and the ocean of knowledge. I revive the withered and confer renewed life on the dead. I am the light that showeth the path, and I am the falcon that percheth on the self-subsistent Hand, releasing captive birds and teaching them to soar."

[15] Note well how clearly the answer to thy question hath been revealed from the kingdom of divine knowledge. Blessed are those endued with a discerning eye, and blessed are the thinkers and the learned. What is meant by intellect is the divine Universal Intellect. For how oft hath it been seen that some intellects are not reliable guides, but rather are obstacles who forbid the feet of seekers from following the straight path. The particular intellect is finite. Human beings must seek and probe, until they discover the starting-point of the road, and then must recognize it. If knowledge of the Origin - about which the Universal Intellect itself doth circle - is acquired, whatever it decreeth is, of course, among the requirements of mature wisdom. His Being is like unto the sun, and differeth from that of all else. The foundation is recognition of Him; and after knowledge of Him, whatever He doth decree is to be obeyed and is in harmony with the exigencies of divine wisdom. All the prophets of old, and of even more distant ages, have revealed commands and prohibitions.

[16] The intent of some of the acts that are performed today is to preserve the divine Name, and recompense for those who perform them hath been decreed by the Most High Pen. Should any soul bring another soul back to God, naturally the recompense for this shall be given. For this supreme verse was revealed to the Lord of Mecca (Muhammad): "We appointed the qiblah, which thou formerly hadst, only that we might know him who followeth the apostle, from him who turneth on his heels." Were any individuals in this invincible dispensation to take thought and to contemplate the verses that have been revealed, they would bear witness that one who hesitateth in regard to this most great Manifestation would prove unable to vindicate the truth of any other religion, either. Those deprived of the raiments of justice, who charge the Promised One with waywardness, speak just as the hateful and malicious always have done. Knowledge is with God, the All-Knowing, the All-Perceiving.

[17] (One day this Servant (Khadimu'llah) had come before the Countenance (of Baha'u'llah). He said, "O servant in My presence, with what wast thou busying thyself?"

[18] I said, "I was writing a reply to Mirza Abu'l-Fadl."

[19] He said, "Write to Mirza Abu'l-Fadl - may My glory be upon him - that I swear an oath that the people of this age have taken waywardness as their boon companion and have altogether forsaken equity. For they have sometimes branded as a sun-worshipper and at others as a fire-worshipper a Manifestation of whom God Himself hath spoken with the grandest of language, a Manifestation [Zoroaster] Who hath borne witness to God's sentiency, and recognized the holiness and purity of the divine essence above all things and all likenesses. What great Manifestations there are, of whose stations and bounties they remain ignorant and deprived, and upon Whom, to the contrary, they heap curses and imprecations! One of the great Messengers, whom the ignorant among the Persians in this day reject, spoke forth with these sublime words: 'The sun is a turbid, round globe, and is not deserving of being termed a deity or called a god. The Lord is a sentient person, who cannot be perceived, and Whom all the knowledge of the learned cannot encompass. No one knoweth, and no one shall ever know, his modality.' Note well, how eloquently He hath borne witness to what the Eternal Truth hath proclaimed in this day. Nevertheless, He is not recognized as a believer by this abject rabble, whatever high stations He might reach. Elsewhere the same Figure said, 'Being appeared by virtue of His Being. Were the Lord not to exist, none of His creation would possess being, nor be adorned by the robe of existence.' God is our refuge from the evil of those who repudiate the truth of God and His loved ones and have turned away from a horizon to which have borne witness the books of God, the Help in Peril, the Everlasting.")

[20] From what hath gone before, it hath become apparent that not every intellect can serve as a criterion. The first rank of intellect is that of the beloved ones of God, those whom He hath rendered treasureholds of His knowledge, recipients of His revelation, and dawning-places of His Cause and His wisdom. They are the ones whom God hath appointed to stand in His own stead upon earth, and by them whatever He willeth becometh manifest. Whoso advanceth toward them hath advanced toward God, and whoso turneth away hath no mention before God, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.

[21] The universal criterion is this station, which hath been discussed. In addition, whoso attaineth and recognizeth the dayspring of manifestation, such a one hath been inscribed in the divine Book as endued with intellect. All others have been recorded among the ignorant, even though they believe themselves the foremost intellects in the world. For if a soul placeth itself in God's hands, purifieth itself of all opposition and base designs, and contemplateth what hath been revealed from the beginning until the present moment in this Most Great Manifestation, it would bear witness that the pure spirits, perfect intellects, and refined souls, as well as those with hearing ears, sharp vision, eloquent tongues, and illumined hearts - all are circling about and obedient to the divine throne of grandeur. Nay, they are bowing down before it.

[22] He asked, further: "Of the former manifestations in their own dispensations, one declared the meat of the cow ritually pure while another forbade it; one allowed the meat of the pig, whereas another prohibited it. In this way different ones each legislated, claiming that the Eternal Truth revealeth religious injunctions."

[23] On the face of it, a detailed treatment of this subject would be contrary to the exigencies of wisdom, for this gentleman employeth persons from various backgrounds. The answer to this question is contrary to the Islamic religion and therefore an allusive response hath been revealed from the heaven of the divine Will. In the first discussion, He said, "The All-Knowing Physician hath His finger on the pulse of mankind," and so on. The same answer is applicable here. He said, "Be anxiously concerned with the needs of the age ye live in, and center your deliberations on its exigencies and requirements." That is, set thy gaze toward the command of God. That which He doth, in this day, decree permissible, that is allowed. The true Word of God is that, and all must look toward the precepts of the Eternal Truth and toward that which He manifesteth from the horizon of His Will. For by His name the colors of "He doeth whatsoever He willeth" have been unfurled, and the standard of "He enjoineth whatsoever He pleaseth" hath been planted. For instance, were He to say that water is forbidden, then it would be forbidden, and the contrary would be true as well. Nothing in the universe hath been inscribed with the words, "this is allowed" or "this is prohibited." Whatever is and becometh pure hath been rendered thus by the Word of God. These matters are obvious, and do not warrant detailed treatment. Some factions imagine that whatever command hath been enjoined upon them shall never be changed, that it is and always shall be everlasting.

[24] Note thou another passage:

"Discourse must be uttered in such wise that the young shoots will remain, and the saplings will mature. Milk must be given in such a manner that the infants of the world will attain their majority."

For instance, one faction asserteth that wine was and always will be forbidden. Were they to be told that a time existed when it was permitted, they would oppose and object to this statement. The people of this world have not comprehended the meaning of the phrase "He doeth whatsoever He willeth," and have not understood even a small portion of the Most Great Infallibility. In the beginning, an infant must be fed milk, and if meat were fed to it, it would perish. This would be unadulterated evil, and far from the goals of wisdom. Blessed are those that recognize the Most Great Infallibility, for it hath at one time been mentioned by the blessed tongue, and is restricted to the Manifestations of Command and the Daysprings of divine revelation. This subject hath been treated concisely, for time is fleeting and like the fabled phoenix that is talked of but does not exist.

[25] He asked, "In the religions of Zoroastrianism and Hinduism, they consort in amity with and treat as brothers persons of every religion and community, of any type or description, if those persons are willing to associate with them. In other religions it is not this way. They harrass and persecute the adherents of other religions, and consider it permissible to mistreat them. Which of these is acceptable before God?"

[26] The primal Word is true and ever shall be. To oppress any soul was and is not permissible. Persecuting and victimizing His servants is not acceptable to God. Repeatedly this exalted word hath been written out by the Pen of the Most High: "O servants: The religion of God hath appeared for the sake of unity and concord. Make it not a cause for disputes and wrangling." In numerous Tablets this matter hath been revealed. A visible person must speak forth the Word with perfect compassion, with empathy and tenderness. Those who advance toward it and attain unto acceptance of it, such individuals are entered among the people of the highest paradise on the Crimson Scroll. If they do not accept it, it is in no wise permissible to oppress them. In one place He saith, "Blessed is he who ariseth to serve the whole world." Likewise, He said, "The people of Baha must soar above the people of this world." In regard to religion, malice and hatred, dispute and conflict, are all prohibited. Today, the sun of illumination hath risen over the horizon of divine grace, and upon its brow this exalted word hath been inscribed by the Pen of the Most High: "Verily, We created ye for love and fidelity, not for aversion and malevolence." Elsewhere, He revealed in the Persian tongue that which will satisfy the hearts of the near ones and the sincere, and which explaineth the hidden unity behind various issues. All are radiant from the lights of divine unity, and have set their faces toward the horizon of divine knowledge. He revealed these words: "The Peerless Friend saith, 'The path of freedom hath been opened, hasten ye unto it. The spring of knowledge is bubbling, drink thereof.'" "Say: O well-beloved ones! The tabernacle of unity hath been raised; regard ye not one another as strangers. Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch."

[27] The station of justice, which lieth in giving all their just due, dependeth upon two words, reward and punishment. In this station, every soul must receive the recompense for its deeds, for the repose and calm of the world dependeth thereon. For they have said, "The tabernacle of the order of the world hath been raised on the two pillars of reward and punishment." For every station there is a saying appropriate thereto, and for every season there is a befitting action. Blessed are the souls who arise for the sake of God, and speak for the sake of God, and then return unto God.

[28] He asked, "In the religions of the Hindus and Zoroastrians, no one who wishes to convert to them is allowed to do so, nor will they accept that person. In the religion of Jesus, whosoever is inclined to do so may enter its ranks and will be welcomed. They do not, however, insist on or compel conversion. In the religions of Muhammad and Moses, they demand conversion and consider it a duty. Moreover, if persons do not convert then they become their enemy and consider it permissible to usurp their wealth and family members. Which is acceptable to the Eternal Truth?"

[29] Human beings are all siblings, and the requirements of love among siblings are many. Among them are that whatever persons desire for themselves, they must desire this for their brothers and sisters as well. Therefore, if any persons attain a manifest and hidden bounty, or a heavenly repast, they must with perfect love and kindliness make their friends aware of it. Should the latter advance toward it, then the object is obtained. Otherwise, they must allow those friends to do as they please, without any harrassment, or even a word that might cause sorrow. This is the truth, and after the truth nothing exists save what should be avoided.

[30] That peerless gentleman - may God bless him with success - wrote that the Hindus and Zoroastrians do not allow others to enter into their religions. This is contrary to the purpose of sending Messengers and to what is in their Books. For every Person who hath appeared from God hath been charged with guiding the servants and organizing their affairs. How could it be that they would keep seekers from attaining the object of their quest? The fire temples of the world bear eloquent testimony that in their own time they called out with a purifying flame to all who dwelt on earth, inviting them to worship the Pure Lord.

[31] He also expressed the view that in the Christian religion those who wish to join are welcomed, but members of this faith do not insist obstinately. This statement is in error, for they have in the past insisted quite strenuously and continue to do so. Their church administration expends nearly 30 million per annum upon mission work, their missionaries have spread throughout the world, and these are engaged with the utmost effort in proselytizing for the Christian religion. Thus it is that they have encompassed the entire world. How many are the schools and churches they have constructed for the sake of teaching knowledge to children! But their hidden objective was for the children both to gain an education and to hear in their childhood the gospel of the holy Christ, so that upon the mirrors of their being, which had not yet been sullied by dust, might be imprinted that which they intended. No religion can be compared to theirs in insistence, given the manner in which they have spread the church of Christ.

[32] That which today constituteth the truth, and is acceptable before the Throne, is what was mentioned above. Human beings have come into the world to improve it and must, for the sake of the divine Countenance, arise to serve their siblings. Should any accept, they must be overjoyed that their brethren have attained to an eternal bounty. Otherwise, they must pray to the Eternal Truth, asking Him to guide them, without allowing the other side to feel any hatred or dislike on their part. Authority is in the hand of God; He doeth as He pleaseth and commandeth what He desireth, and He is the Mighty, the All-Praised. I beseech the Eternal Truth that we be empowered to recognize unreservedly the true Physician and to discover Him, and, after He is acknowledged and His mission affirmed, that no harm should be allowed to come to Him as a result of the false suppositions and delusions of the people of the world. It may be that the Physician, who has his hand upon the pulse of the world, might at times amputate an infected limb, to prevent the infection from spreading to the other organs. This is the very essence of compassion and mercy, and no one hath the right to object, for He is the Knowing, the All-Seeing.

[33] Another of his questions: "In the religion of Mahabad and Zoroaster it is said that our religion and our law are more sublime and better than any other. Still, the religions of the other prophets are all true. For instance, in the court of the king, below the rank of the prime minister there are many other ranks, and even the sergeant will know something about the Lord. All who desire to do so may then remain in their religion, and are harming no one. Hindus say that all who eat meat of any type or description will never have a glimpse of paradise. The religions of Muhammad, Jesus, and Moses maintain that whoever does not accept our religion will never behold heaven. Which view is acceptable to the Absolute Truth?"

[34] Where He (Zoroaster) said, "Our religion and our Law are more sublime and better than those of the prophets," His intent was the prophets who preceded Him. In one station, these holy souls are united: The first of them is the last of them and the last of them is the first of them. All came from God and called others unto Him, and all returned to Him. These stations are revealed in the Book of Certitude, which is in reality the Lord of Books and which was revealed by the Pen of the Most High at the beginning of this supreme dispensation. Blessed is the one who hath delved into and pored over it for the love of God, the Sovereign of creation.

[35] He wrote that the Hindus say that whosoever eateth meat shall never glimpse paradise. But this saying contradicteth his earlier assertion that they believe all religions to be true. For if their truth hath been established, then no grounds exist upon which their adherents can be denied entry into heaven. It is not clear, then, what they mean by 'heaven.' In this day, every soul that attaineth the good-pleasure of the Eternal Truth is accounted a denizen of the highest paradise, and tasteth the fruits thereof in every one of God's worlds. By the Life of the Desired One, the Pen is impotent to make mention of this station and falleth short in describing this utterance. Blessed is the one that attaineth to the divine good-pleasure and woe unto the heedless. Every one of the prophets hath come from the Absolute Truth. Once this point hath been proven, it is not for anyone to ask 'Why?' or 'Wherefore?' All must accept and obey whatever He ordaineth, for this is what God hath enjoined in His books, psalms and tablets.

[36] Another question: "Hindus maintain that God created the intellect in the form of a human being, whose name is Brahma, and he came to earth and caused it to become populated, so that they are his descendants. Zoroastrians say that God created the First Intellect as an intermediary in the form of a man known as Mahabad, and we are his descendants. Now, they believe the world to have been created only in six ways, and two are as went before. Other means of creation were by water, earth, fire, and dumb beasts. Hindus and Zoroastrians believe that since they were created from intellect, they should not allow other creatures or peoples to join them. Is their assertion correct or not?"

[37] Whatever way pleaseth them, they demonstrate again the wisdom of the Master. The entire cosmos hath been created by the Eternal Truth, and a new Adam hath come into being by means of the obeyed divine Word. He is the dayspring, sanctuary, mine and manifestation of the Intellect, and by means of him the world came into being. He is the intermediary for the primal emanation. Concerning the beginnings of creation as we know it, no one hath any knowledge thereof save God Himself. The beginning and end of the created universe in time is not delimited, and no one knoweth the secret of it. The knowledge thereof was and is still hidden in the treasuries of divine knowledge. The universe is said to be originated only in the sense that it is preceded by a cause. Essential pre-existence is reserved for the Eternal Truth - may He be glorified! We have made mention of this point in order to elucidate Our earlier statement that the origins and ultimate demise of the cosmos are not delimited. None can smell the perfume of pre-existence, for true, essential pre-existence is reserved for the Absolute Truth, whereas the eternality of this world is only relative. They have derived their propositions about the beginning and end - what is beyond these - from the prophets, pure ones, and envoys of the Eternal Truth. The world of atoms, which is renowned, was generated by the sending of the prophets. All else is idle fancies and suppositions. At the time of Manifestation, all creatures swoon as one before it, and afterwards become differentiated by whether they accept or refuse to accept, whether they ascend or descend, whether they act or remain passive, and whether they advance towards or turn away from it. The Eternal Truth saith by means of the tongue of Its Manifestation, "Am I not your Lord?" Every soul that replieth "Yes!" is accounted before God as among the most exalted of creatures. Before the Word is spoken, all are in the same swoon and enjoy the same station. After it is uttered, then differentiation among them beginneth to appear, as he hath seen and will continue to see. From what hath gone before, it hath been established that no one can say, "We have been created from intellect, and others from something else." This truth is as clear and bright as the sun: That all have been created by the Will of God, and are derived from a single origin. All are from Him, and to Him shall they return. This is the meaning of the blessed saying, "We are from God and verily to Him shall we return," that was revealed in the Qur'an by the Pen of the Most High.

[38] That gentleman will admit that it is clear and proven that what hath been mentioned fully answereth his inquiry in a single passage, and that it hath been revealed by the Most High Pen. Blessed are the souls that gambol in the garden of divine knowledge, purified from the affairs of the creation and sanctified from all surmise and caprice, such that they discern in every thing the signs of divine grandeur. Many things indeed have been written for that distinguished gentleman. Were he himself to peruse and taste of the fruits thereof, he would become most elated, in such wise that the sorrows of this world would not be able to sadden him. God willing, he will recite these words with his whole tongue, that is, with the tongue of truth, and shall act upon them. "Say: 'God!' Then leave them in their pastime of cavillings."[Qur'an 6:91] Let him devote himself to seeing that those who remain veiled in dark corners of gloom become illumined by the light of the Sun. Through this Manifestation let him, by means of the Most Great Name, grasp the knowledge that cannot be expressed, and may he become the leader of preceding communities. In this manner, perhaps the darkness of the world shall be overcome and the light of the sun of reality conquer the universe. This is the Most Great Grace and the supreme Station. Were a human being never to attain to this station, then by virtue of what would he be happy or sad, immobile or active? In whose memory shall he sleep, and in whose name will he rise? Again: We are from God, and to Him shall we return.

[39] His last question: "Most of the revealed Tablets that I have seen were in the Arabic language. Since, in these delightful times, the Persian language has arrived, Arabic has been forsaken and rejected. For the Arabs themselves have never yet comprehended the meaning of the Qur'an, whereas the Persian language is well liked and sought after among the people of the inhabited world, since in comparison Persian is more excellent. Among Indians, more and more are interested in it. It would be better for the Eternal Truth hereafter to speak only in the Persian tongue, for it better attracts the hearts. I am calling for the responses that honor the letters of this devoted servant to be in pure Persian."

[40] In truth, the Persian language is very sweet and beloved, and after this request was received at the unapproachable and most holy Court, numerous Tablets were revealed in this tongue. He mentioned that the literal meaning of the Qur'an had remained unknown. Rather, it hath been translated into innumerable other languages by diverse hands. What they have remained unable to fathom is its mysteries and inner meanings. What they have said and will say is based only on their own surmise, according to their own ranks and stations. Verily, none knoweth it as it really is save God, the Unique, the One, the All-Knowing. Today the worlds of God and of His vicar, the worlds of the Creator and of His refuge are manifest and apparent. All ears must be alert to hear that which issueth from the kingdom of the divine Will. In like manner, all eyes are awaiting the sight of that which will shine forth from the sun of knowledge and wisdom, that they might be blessed by that vision. By the Life of the Adored One, this day is the day of the eye and the ear, and the day of bounties. Today is the day whereon the tongue hath spoken forth. Blessed are they that attain, and blessed are they that set out, and blessed are they that know. Today is a day whereon a person can ascend to the remaining stations, for that which the Pen of the Most High hath revealed for each soul hath been embellished by the adornment of pre-existence. Blessed, again, are those that attain.

[41] The peerless gentleman wrote that "since, in these delightful times, the Persian language has arrived, Arabic has been forsaken and rejected." In this regard this exalted word hath issued from the Most High Pen:

"Arabic and Persian are both good, for they are both capable of bearing the meaning intended by the speaker. Today, since the sun of knowledge hath appeared in the heavens of Iran, this language deserveth every praise."

In fact, the light of reality hath shone forth from the horizon of divine utterance. There was never, nor is there now, any need for that ephemeral one and his like to be mentioned. There is no doubt about the sweetness of the Persian tongue, but it lacketh the breadth of Arabic. Many things cannot be adequately expressed in Persian, which is to say that the word bearing that meaning hath never been coined. On the other hand, Arabic possesseth numerous words for everything, and no other language on earth can match Arabic for capacity and breadth. This statement hath been made in a spirit of fairness and realism. Otherwise, it is obvious that today the world hath been illumined by the sun that rose from the horizon of Iran. From this point of view, this sweet tongue deserveth all the praise that can be heaped on it.

[42] All the questions of that gentleman have been mentioned, and the answer hath been dispatched. If it will be useful, and if wisdom dictate it, there is no harm in showing the letter to him. Likewise, it is desirable to share it with prominent persons of that land, such as the beloved 'Ali Akbar and the beloved Aqa Mirza Asadu'llah, the glory of God be upon them.

[43] This Servant beseecheth the Absolute Truth that the world of humankind might be adorned with both justice and fairness, although fairness is among those things attendant upon justice. Justice is a lamp that showeth to human beings a path in the darkness, and delivereth them out of danger. It is the glowing lamp of truth. It is that which can illuminate the rulers of the earth. This servant entreateth God to enable all to attain that which is beloved and pleasing to Him. Verily, He is the king of the next world and the first world. There is no god but He, the Omnipotent, the All-Mighty.

Notes

[1] This paragraph is an aside from Baha'u'llah's amanuensis. Another aside is found in paragraphs 17 to 19.

Another translation of Responses to Questions of Manakji Sahib can be found at the Baha'i Reference Library.

For a translation of the letter Baha'u'llah had earlier written to Manakji, see Tablet to Mánikchí Sáhib at the Baha'i Reference Library.

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