The observance of holy days occupies a central place in every religion. Through their commemoration, the calendar year becomes the stage on which the signal events associated with the life and ministry of the divine Manifestations of God are annually remembered and honoured. This remembrance has both a personal dimension, providing a time for reflection on the significance of these events, and a social dimension, helping to deepen the identity and foster the cohesion of the community.
The coming of each Manifestation of God brings renewal and revitalization: “old things are passed away” and “all things are become new”. By His authority, former laws are abrogated and the manners and customs of the previous Dispensation are reformed. Through the creative power of Divine Revelation, fresh life is instilled into hearts and souls:
Reflect thou, how, in one hand, He hath, by His mighty grasp, turned the earth of knowledge and understanding, previously unfolded, into a mere handful, and, on the other, spread out a new and highly exalted earth in the hearts of men, thus causing the freshest and loveliest blossoms, and the mightiest and loftiest trees to spring forth from the illumined bosom of man.
This re-creation and revitalization of all things is reflected in the introduction of a new calendar and the designation of new holy days which recast the rhythms of communal life.
The Bahá’í calendar, known as the Badí‘ calendar, was introduced by the Báb and subsequently confirmed by Bahá’u’lláh, Who fixed its commencement at the year of the Báb’s declaration, 1844 (A.H. 1260). As the Bahá’í Era was inaugurated by twin Founders, the Bahá’í Holy Days include events pertaining to the birth, declaration, and passing of both Bahá’u’lláh and the Báb. In the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, the principal repository of the laws of His Revelation, Bahá’u’lláh designates the two
Festivals”, commemorating the declaration of His prophetic mission during a period of twelve days, three of which are observed as Holy Days, and the Declaration of the Báb, the event that initiates the Bahá’í Era. Also named as festivals in that same Book are Naw-Rúz and the anniversaries of the Birth of the Báb and of Bahá’u’lláh. The anniversary of the Martyrdom of the Báb was commemorated as a Holy Day during the lifetime of Bahá’u’lláh, and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá added the observance of the Ascension of Bahá’u’lláh.
The present volume offers forty-five selections from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh revealed specifically for, or otherwise relating to, these nine Holy Days. The selections represent different revelatory modes, each reflecting facets of the greatness, the preciousness, and the peerless nature of this Day in which all the promises and prophecies of the past have been fulfilled — this sacred Day “whereon God hath made His own Self known and revealed it unto all who are in the heavens and on earth”. Some of the Tablets and excerpts presented in the volume are addressed to the body of Bahá’u’lláh’s followers and are expressed in a celebratory and uplifting tone, occasionally with repeated refrains, while others were revealed to individual believers, sometimes with a mention of the specific circumstances of their revelation or the names of the recipients. Many are among His best-known works and have been long familiar to readers of His Writings in the original languages.
Eight of the selections were previously translated by Shoghi Effendi and published in Prayers and Meditations by Bahá’u’lláh and Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh. A table listing these and other passages translated by Shoghi Effendi can be found at the end of the book. The remainder of the selections are, for the most part, published here for the first time in English. The current translations endeavour to afford a glimpse of the poetic tone of these celebrated Texts, even though they can never convey their full beauty.
It is hoped that this volume will uplift the hearts and souls of the followers of the Blessed Beauty throughout the world and will enrich the gatherings they hold in commemoration of those days that stand apart from all other days through their association with Him and His Herald.
He is the Almighty.
Praised be Thou, O my God, that Thou hast ordained Naw-Rúz as a festival unto those who have observed the Fast for love of Thee and abstained from all that is abhorrent unto Thee. Grant, O my Lord, that the fire of Thy love and the heat produced by the Fast enjoined by Thee may inflame them in Thy Cause, and make them to be occupied with Thy praise and with remembrance of Thee.
Since Thou hast adorned them, O my Lord, with the ornament of the Fast prescribed by Thee, do Thou adorn them also with the ornament of Thine acceptance, through Thy grace and bountiful favour. For the doings of men are all dependent upon Thy good-pleasure, and are conditioned by Thy behest. Shouldst Thou regard him who hath broken the Fast as one who hath observed it, such a man would be reckoned among them who from eternity had been keeping the Fast. And shouldst Thou decree that he who hath observed the Fast hath broken it, that person would be numbered with such as have caused the Robe of Thy Revelation to be stained with dust, and been far removed from the crystal waters of this living Fountain.
Thou art He through Whom the ensign “Praiseworthy art Thou in Thy works” hath been lifted up, and the standard “Obeyed art Thou in Thy behest” hath been unfurled. Make known this Thy station, O my God, unto Thy servants, that they may be made aware that the excellence of all things is dependent upon Thy bidding and Thy word, and the virtue of every act is conditioned by Thy leave and the good-pleasure of Thy will, and may recognize that the reins of men’s doings are within the grasp of Thine acceptance and Thy commandment. Make this known unto them, that nothing whatsoever may shut them out from Thy Beauty, in these days whereon the Christ exclaimeth: “All dominion is Thine, O Thou the Begetter of the Spirit (Jesus)!” and Thy Friend (Muḥammad) crieth out: “Glory be to Thee, O Thou the Best-Beloved, for that Thou hast uncovered Thy Beauty, and written down for Thy chosen ones what will cause them to attain unto the seat of the revelation of Thy Most Great Name, through which all the peoples have lamented except such as have detached themselves from all else except Thee, and set themselves towards Him Who is the Revealer of Thyself and the Manifestation of Thine attributes.”
He Who is Thy Branch and all Thy company, O my Lord, have broken this day their fast, after having observed it within the precincts of Thy court, and in their eagerness to please Thee. Do Thou ordain for Him, and for them, and for all such as have entered Thy presence in those days all the good Thou didst destine in Thy Book. Supply them, then, with that which will profit them, in both this life and the life beyond.
Thou, in truth, art the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.
I am the Most Holy, the Most Great, the Most Glorious.
Praise be to Thee, O my God, that Thou hast ordained this day as a festival unto the favoured among Thy servants and the sincere among Thy loved ones. Thou hast called this day by that Name whereby all created things have been subdued and the breezes of Thy Revelation have been wafted between earth and heaven, a Name through which all that hath been recorded in Thy Holy Books and Sacred Scriptures hath been made manifest, and which Thy Messengers and Thy Chosen Ones have foretold, that all men might be made ready to behold Thee, to turn towards the ocean of Thy reunion, to stand before the seat of Thy throne, and to hear Thy wondrous call from the Dayspring of Thine invisible Self and the Dawning-Place of Thine Essence.
I yield Thee praise, O Lord my God, that Thou hast fulfilled Thy testimony, completed Thy favour, established upon the throne of Divine Revelation Him Who proclaimed Thy oneness and Thy unity, and summoned all humanity to appear before Him. Amongst the people are those who have turned towards Him, attained His presence, and quaffed the choice wine of His Revelation. I beseech Thee by Thy sovereign might which hath dominion over all things, and by Thy bounty which embraceth the entire creation, to enable Thy loved ones to sever themselves from all except Thee and to fix their gaze upon the horizon of Thy grace. Assist them, then, to arise to serve Thee, that they may evince whatsoever Thou hast desired in Thy realm and may unfurl the banners of Thy victory in Thy land. Thou, verily, art the Almighty, the Most Exalted, the Sovereign Protector, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.
I yield Thee praise, O Lord my God, that Thou hast made this prison to be a throne for Thy kingdom, a heaven for Thy heavens, a dayspring for Thy daysprings, a dawning-place for Thy dawns, a source for the outpourings of Thy bounty, and a spirit of life unto the bodies of Thy creatures. I entreat Thee to aid Thy chosen ones to act in accordance with Thy good-pleasure. Sanctify them, then, O my God, from whatsoever may soil the hem of their garments in Thy days. Thou seest, O Lord, in certain lands, that which runneth counter to Thy pleasure, and Thou beholdest those who claim to love Thee committing the very deeds that Thine enemies have committed. Purify them, O Lord, with the living waters wherewith Thou hast purified the well-favoured amongst Thy people and the sincere amongst Thy servants. Purge them, moreover, from whatsoever may tarnish the fair name of Thy Cause in Thy lands or veil the people of Thy cities from Thy recognition.
I implore Thee, O Lord, by Thy Name that transcendeth all other names, to guard them from following the path of self and passion, that all may unite around that which Thou hast commanded in Thy Book. Make them, then, to be hands of Thy Cause, that through them Thy verses may be spread abroad throughout Thine earth and the emblems of Thy holiness may be manifested amidst Thy people. Potent art Thou to do as Thou pleasest. There is none other God but Thee, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting.
He is the Most Holy, the Most Mighty, the Most Exalted.
Praise be unto Thee, O Thou Who art the Lord of the world and the Ruler of the nations! I testify that Thou hast from eternity been sanctified above the mention of all created things and exalted beyond the loftiest descriptions of Thy creatures. Whensoever Thy devoted servants sought to ascend unto the station of Thy recognition, the hosts of Thy knowledge barred their way; and whensoever Thy near ones desired to gain admittance to the heaven of Thy nearness, the overpowering majesty of Thine utterance kept them back. We bear witness that the loftiest of the divine names are but servants at Thy door, and that their most glorious manifestations bow down before Thy countenance and are humbled in Thy presence. Thou art, in truth, He Who can neither be described in letters, nor evoked by words, nor even contained within the hidden meanings they conceal. For these are all circumscribed by the inherent limitations of speech which characterize all the utterances of the peoples of the world.
Exalted, immeasurably exalted, art Thou above the mention of every soul and the understanding of every heart! Exalted, immeasurably exalted, art Thou above the description of anyone save Thyself and beyond every conception of Thy creatures! Were Thine own Manifestations to soar upon the wings of the seen and the unseen, yet would they fail to attain unto the first effulgence shining from the horizon of Thy most exalted Countenance and the dawning-place of Thy most sublime Revelation. And were the Exponents of Thy Lordship enabled to ascend for as long as the kingdoms of earth and heaven endure, yet would they be forever powerless to draw nigh unto the Day-Star of Thy beauty.
Blessed be the one who comprehendeth Thine enduring reality and the evanescence of all else but Thee, and who acknowledgeth Thy sovereign authority and the powerlessness of all save Thyself. And as the evanescence of all things is established before the surging ocean of Thy remembrance, O King of all names, it likewise becometh evident that their every mention and description falleth short of Thy might and grandeur and ill beseemeth Thy loftiness and power. And yet in spite of this, O my God, Thou hast, out of the wonders of Thy grace and munificence and as a token of Thy bounty and Thy favour, enjoined upon all to make mention of Thee and to praise Thee, and hast accepted their glorification of Thee out of Thy grace and generosity. Wherefore doth Thine own Self call on Thy Self and Thy very Essence invoke Thine Essence on behalf of Thy lovers who have borne every hardship in Thy path and every adversity out of love for Thee and contentment with Thy good-pleasure, in this blessed day which Thou hast made to be a festival for the inmates of Thy kingdom and for those who have kept the Fast by Thy command and obeyed Thy resistless decree.
Exalted be this blessed and glorious day which Thou hast designated by that beloved Name which is both hidden and manifest, and which, when it shone forth above the horizon of eternity, the Divine Lote-Tree called out, saying: “By God! The Lord of creation hath come, Whom no name can describe.” Whereupon Paradise was set astir and proclaimed with joy and fervour: “O concourse of the world! He hath come, round Whom circle the Daysprings of the All-Merciful, the Manifestations of the All-Praised, and the Dawning-Places of inspiration.” And all things cried aloud: “This is that Tablet with which the kingdom of creation hath been adorned and through which the gate leading unto the Divine Presence hath been flung open unto all who are in heaven and on earth.” Happy the one who hath forsaken every desire and hath drawn nigh unto the One Whose reality no word or utterance can convey.
By God! This is the Day whereon from the murmur of the waters can be heard: “No God is there but Him, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting”, and from the whispering of whose breezes can be heard: “No God is there but Him, the Almighty, the Best-Beloved”, and from the rustling of whose trees can be heard: “No God is there but Him, the Most Powerful, the Ever-Giving, the All-Glorious, the All-Loving”, and beyond them, from the Tongue of Grandeur can be heard: “This is the Day of the appearance of Him Who is manifest yet hidden, Who is visible yet concealed. Hasten unto Him, O ye who are the daysprings of the divine names, and draw nigh unto Him, O ye who dwell in the kingdom of creation, with hearts that have been purified from superstitions and vain imaginings and sanctified from the idle talk of men!”
Immeasurably exalted is the state of Thy loved ones who have clung to the cord of Thy command, held fast to the hem of Thine ordinances, uttered that which hath been permitted unto them in Thy Tablets, transgressed not the bounds ordained in Thy Book, and spoken out in Thy lands with wisdom as decreed in the scrolls of Thy bounty and the epistles of Thy grace. O Lord! Assist them to arise for the triumph of Thy Cause through what Thou hast expounded unto them with Thy most exalted Pen and what Thou hast instructed them in certain of Thy Tablets. O Lord! Leave them not to themselves, but keep them safe through Thy sovereignty and power and assist them through Thy might and bounty.
O Lord! They are Thy servants and bondsmen who have believed in Thee and have drawn nigh unto the heaven of Thy bounty. Suffer them not to be deprived of the tokens of Thy tender mercies in Thy days; neither do thou withhold from them the fragrance of the roses of Thy wisdom. Guide them then, O my God, to the ocean of Thy good-pleasure, that in Thy Name they may immerse themselves therein, and that they may not be saddened by that which their own minds have conceived, nor grieved by all that they have witnessed in Thy path. Verily Thou art the All-Powerful One Whose might every powerful one hath recognized, Whose sovereignty every possessor of majesty hath acknowledged, before the waves of the ocean of Whose knowledge every learned one confesseth his ignorance, and before the evidences of Whose power every soul endued with strength admitteth his helplessness.
Thou art the One, O my God, to Whom every name is abashed to be related, and in Whose presence all things shrink for shame from being mentioned. From eternity Thou hast dwelt in those transcendent heights that are exalted above all mention and description. How great are Thy sovereignty and Thy power and how mighty Thy grandeur! — this, though all things acknowledge that Thou art entirely sanctified from, and immeasurably exalted above, all but Thine own Self. Thou has subdued the entire world through a single Word that hath been related to the kingdom of Thine utterance and from which the fragrance of the robe of Thy Command hath been wafted.
O Lord of all being and Educator of all things visible and invisible! Grant us ears that are pure, hearts that are sanctified, and eyes that see, so that we may discover the sweetness of Thine enthralling utterance, may fix our gaze upon Thy supreme horizon, and may come to know whatever hath been sent down through Thy bounty, O Thou Who art the King of Names! Kindle then the fire of Thy love in Thy lands, that the hearts of Thy creatures may be set ablaze thereby, that they may turn towards Thee, may recognize Thy unity and acknowledge Thy oneness. O Lord of all names! Rend asunder before their faces the veils of glory, and make known unto them the excellence of this Day which hath been adorned with Thy Name and illumined with the light of Thy Countenance. Thou, verily, art He Whom the good works of the people can never exalt nor their evil deeds deter, Whom the ascendancy of the rulers cannot humble nor the power of the mighty vanquish. Thou doest through Thy sovereignty whatsoever Thou willest. No God is there but Thee, the All-Powerful, the Most Exalted, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.
Send down, then, upon Thy loved ones, O my God, from the heaven of Thy bounty that which will cause them to fix their gaze upon Thee and to act in accordance with Thy will and behest. Ordain for them, then, what will profit them and preserve them, what will draw them nigh and set them free. Verily Thou art their Lord, their Creator, and their Helper. No God is there but Thee, the Ever-Forgiving, the Most Generous.
I beseech Thee, moreover, O my God, to unite the hearts of Thy loved ones and to join them together in harmony and fellowship in Thy Cause, that naught may appear from them that would ill beseem them in Thy days. Thou, verily, art the All-Powerful, the Most Exalted, the Most High, the Most Great. Praise be to God, the Lord of the worlds!
He is the Ever-Living, the Ever-Abiding, the Self-Subsisting.
God testifieth to the unity of His Godhood and to the singleness of His own Being. On the throne of eternity, from the inaccessible heights of His station, His tongue proclaimeth that there is none other God but Him. He Himself, independently of all else, hath ever been a witness unto His own oneness, the revealer of His own nature, the glorifier of His own essence. He, verily, is the All-Powerful, the Almighty, the Beauteous.
He is supreme over His servants, and standeth over His creatures. In His hand is the source of authority and truth. He maketh men alive by His signs, and causeth them to die through His wrath. He shall not be asked of His doings, and His might is equal unto all things. He is the Potent, the All-Subduing. He holdeth within His grasp the empire of all things, and on His right hand is fixed the Kingdom of His Revelation. His power, verily, embraceth the whole of creation. Victory and overlordship are His; all might and dominion are His; all glory and greatness are His. He, of a truth, is the All-Glorious, the Most Powerful, the Unconditioned.
Praise be to Thee, to Whom the tongues of all created things have, from eternity, called, and yet failed to attain the heaven of Thine eternal holiness and grandeur. The eyes of all beings have been opened to behold the beauty of Thy radiant countenance, yet none hath succeeded in gazing on the brightness of the light of Thy face. The hands of them that are nigh unto Thee have, ever since the foundation of Thy glorious sovereignty and the establishment of Thy holy dominion, been raised suppliantly towards Thee, yet no one hath been able to touch the hem of the robe that clotheth Thy Divine and sovereign Essence. And yet none can deny that Thou hast ever been, through the wonders of Thy generosity and bounty, supreme over all things, art powerful to do all things, and art nearer unto all things than they are unto themselves.
Far be it, then, from Thy glory that anyone should gaze on Thy wondrous beauty with any eye save Thine own eye, or hear the melodies proclaiming Thine almighty sovereignty with any ear except Thine own ear. Too high art Thou exalted for the eye of any creature to behold Thy beauty, or for the understanding of any heart to scale the heights of Thine immeasurable knowledge. For should the birds of the hearts of them that are nigh unto Thee be ever enabled to soar as long as Thine own overpowering sovereignty can endure, or to ascend as long as the empire of Thy Divine holiness can last, they shall, in no wise, be able to transcend the limitations which a contingent world hath imposed upon them, nor pass beyond its confines. How, then, can he whose very creation is restricted by such limitations, attain unto Him Who is the Lord of the Kingdom of all created things, or ascend into the heaven of Him Who ruleth the realms of loftiness and grandeur?
Glorified, immeasurably glorified art Thou, my Best-Beloved! Inasmuch as Thou hast ordained that the utmost limit to which they who lift their hearts to Thee can rise is the confession of their powerlessness to enter the realms of Thy holy and transcendent unity, and that the highest station which they who aspire to know Thee can reach is the acknowledgement of their impotence to attain the retreats of Thy sublime knowledge, I, therefore, beseech Thee, by this very powerlessness which is beloved of Thee, and which Thou hast decreed as the goal of them that have reached and attained Thy court, and by the splendours of Thy countenance that have encompassed all things, and by the energies of Thy Will whereby the entire creation hath been generated, not to deprive them that have set their hopes in Thee of the wonders of Thy mercy, nor to withhold from such as have sought Thee the treasures of Thy grace. Ignite, then, within their hearts the torch of Thy love, that its flame may consume all else except their wondrous remembrance of Thee, and that no trace may be left in those hearts except the gem-like evidences of Thy most holy sovereignty, so that from the land wherein they dwell no voice may be heard except the voice that extolleth Thy mercifulness and might, that on the earth on which they walk no light may shine except the light of Thy beauty, and that within every soul naught may be discovered except the revelation of Thy countenance and the tokens of Thy glory, that haply Thy servants may show forth only that which shall please Thee and shall conform wholly unto Thy most potent will.
Glory be to Thee, O my God! The power of Thy might beareth me witness! I can have no doubt that should the holy breaths of Thy loving-kindness and the breeze of Thy bountiful favour cease, for less than the twinkling of an eye, to breathe over all created things, the entire creation would perish, and all that are in heaven and on earth would be reduced to utter nothingness. Magnified, therefore, be the marvellous evidences of Thy transcendent power! Magnified be the potency of Thine exalted might! Magnified be the majesty of Thine all-encompassing greatness, and the energizing influence of Thy will! Such is Thy greatness that wert Thou to concentrate the eyes of all men in the eye of one of Thy servants, and to compress all their hearts within his heart, and wert Thou to enable him to behold within himself all the things Thou hast created through Thy power and fashioned through Thy might, and were he to ponder, throughout eternity, over the realms of Thy creation and the range of Thy handiwork, he would unfailingly discover that there is no created thing but is overshadowed by Thine all-conquering power, and is vitalized through Thine all-embracing sovereignty.
Behold me, then, O my God, fallen prostrate upon the dust before Thee, confessing my powerlessness and Thine omnipotence, my poverty and Thy wealth, mine evanescence and Thine eternity, mine utter abasement and Thine infinite glory. I recognize that there is none other God but Thee, that Thou hast no peer nor partner, none to equal or rival Thee. In Thine unapproachable loftiness Thou hast, from eternity, been exalted above the praise of any one but Thee, and shalt continue for ever, in Thy transcendent singleness and glory, to be sanctified from the glorification of any one except Thine own Self.
I swear by Thy might, O my Beloved! To make mention of any created thing beseemeth not Thy most exalted Self, and to bestow any praise upon any one of Thy creatures would be wholly unworthy of Thy great glory. Nay, such a mention would be but blasphemy uttered within the court of Thy holiness, and such praise would amount to no less than a transgression in the face of the evidences of Thy Divine sovereignty. For the mere mention of any one of Thy creatures would in itself imply an assertion of their existence before the court of Thy singleness and unity. Such an assertion would be naught but open blasphemy, an act of impiety, the essence of profanity and a wanton crime.
Wherefore, I bear witness with my soul, my spirit, my entire being, that should They Who are the Daysprings of Thy most holy unity and the Manifestations of Thy transcendent oneness be able to soar so long as Thine own sovereignty endureth and Thine all-compelling authority can last, they will fail in the end to attain unto even the precincts of the court wherein Thou didst reveal the effulgence of but one of Thy most mighty Names. Glorified, glorified be, therefore, Thy wondrous majesty. Glorified, glorified be Thine unattainable loftiness. Glorified, glorified be the pre-eminence of Thy kingship and the sublimity of Thine authority and power.
The highest faculties which the learned have possessed, and whatsoever truths they, in their search after the gems of Thy knowledge, have discovered; the brightest realities with which the wise have been endowed, and whatever secrets they, in their attempts to fathom the mysteries of Thy wisdom, have unravelled, have all been created through the generative power of the Spirit that was breathed into the Pen which Thy hands have fashioned. How, then, can the thing which Thy Pen hath created be capable of comprehending those treasures of Thy Faith with which, as decreed by Thee, that Pen hath been invested? How can it ever know of the Fingers that grasp Thy Pen, and of Thy merciful favours with which it hath been endowed? How can it, already unable to reach this station, be made aware of the existence of Thy Hand that controlleth the Fingers of Thy might? How can it attain unto the comprehension of the nature of Thy Will that animateth the movement of Thy Hand?
Glorified, glorified be Thou, O my God! How can I ever hope to ascend into the heaven of Thy most holy will, or gain admittance into the tabernacle of Thy Divine knowledge, knowing as I do that the minds of the wise and learned are impotent to fathom the secrets of Thy handiwork — a handiwork which is itself but a creation of Thy will?
Praise be to Thee, O Lord, my God, my Master, my Possessor, my King. Now that I have confessed unto Thee my powerlessness and the powerlessness of all created things, and have acknowledged my poverty and the poverty of the entire creation, I call unto Thee with my tongue and the tongues of all that are in heaven and on earth, and beseech Thee with my heart and the hearts of all that have entered beneath the shadow of Thy names and Thine attributes, not to shut us from the doors of Thy loving-kindness and grace, nor to suffer the breeze of Thy bountiful care and favour to cease from being wafted over our souls, nor to permit that our hearts be occupied with any one except Thee, or our minds to be busied with any remembrance save remembrance of Thy Self.
By the glory of Thy might, O my God! Wert Thou to set me king over Thy realms, and to establish me upon the throne of Thy sovereignty, and to deliver, through Thy power, the reins of the entire creation into my hands, and wert Thou to cause me, though it be for less than a moment, to be occupied with these things and be oblivious of the wondrous memories associated with Thy most mighty, most perfect, and most exalted Name, my soul would still remain unsatisfied, and the pangs of my heart unstilled. Nay, I would, in that very state, recognize myself as the poorest of the poor, and the most wretched of wretches.