The essence of the divine mysteries in the journeys of ascent set forth for those who long to draw nigh unto God, the Almighty, the Ever-Forgiving— blessed be the righteous that quaff from these crystal streams!
He is the Exalted, the Most High!
O thou who treadest the path of justice and beholdest the countenance of mercy! Thine epistle was received, thy question was noted, and the sweet accents of thy soul were heard from the inmost chambers of thy heart. Whereupon the clouds of the Divine Will were raised to rain upon thee the outpourings of heavenly wisdom, to divest thee of all that thou hadst acquired aforetime, to draw thee from the realms of contradiction unto the retreats of oneness, and to lead thee to the sacred streams of His Law. Perchance thou mayest quaff therefrom, repose therein, quench thy thirst, refresh thy soul, and be numbered with those whom the light of God hath guided aright in this day.
Encompassed as I am at this time by the dogs of the earth and the beasts of every land, concealed as I remain in the hidden habitation of Mine inner Being, forbidden as I may be from divulging that which God hath bestowed upon Me of the wonders of His knowledge, the gems of His wisdom, and the tokens of His power, yet am I loath to frustrate the hopes of one who hath approached the sanctuary of grandeur, sought to enter within the precincts of eternity, and aspired to soar in the immensity of this creation at the dawning of the divine decree. I shall therefore relate unto thee certain truths from among those which God hath vouchsafed unto Me, this only to the extent that souls can bear and minds endure, lest the malicious raise a clamour or the dissemblers hoist their banners. I implore God to graciously aid Me in this, for unto such as beseech Him, He is the All-Bounteous, and of those who show mercy, He is the Most Merciful.
Know then that it behoveth thine eminence to ponder from the outset these questions in thy heart: What hath prompted the divers peoples and kindreds of the earth to reject the Apostles whom God hath sent unto them in His might and power, whom He hath raised up to exalt His Cause and ordained to be the Lamps of eternity within the Niche of His oneness? For what reason have the people turned aside from them, disputed about them, risen against and contended with them? On what grounds have they refused to acknowledge their apostleship and authority, nay, denied their truth and reviled their persons, even slaying or banishing them?
O thou who hast set foot in the wilderness of knowledge and taken abode within the ark of wisdom! Not until thou hast grasped the mysteries concealed in that which We shall relate unto thee canst thou hope to attain to the stations of faith and certitude in the Cause of God and in those who are the Manifestations of His Cause, the Daysprings of His Command, the Treasuries of His revelation, and the Repositories of His knowledge. Shouldst thou fail in this, thou wouldst be numbered with them that have not striven for the Cause of God, nor inhaled the fragrance of faith from the raiment of certitude, nor scaled the heights of the divine unity, nor yet recognized the stations of divine singleness within the Embodiments of praise and the Essences of sanctity.
Strive then, O My brother, to apprehend this matter, that the veils may be lifted from the face of thy heart and that thou mayest be reckoned among them whom God hath graced with such penetrating vision as to behold the most subtle realities of His dominion, to fathom the mysteries of His kingdom, to perceive the signs of His transcendent Essence in this mortal world, and to attain a station wherein one seeth no distinction amongst His creatures and findeth no flaw in the creation of the heavens and the earth.
Now that the discourse hath reached this exalted and intractable theme and touched upon this sublime and impenetrable mystery, know that the Christian and Jewish peoples have not grasped the intent of the words of God and the promises He hath made to them in His Book, and have therefore denied His Cause, turned aside from His Prophets, and rejected His proofs. Had they but fixed their gaze upon the testimony of God itself, had they refused to follow in the footsteps of the abject and foolish among their leaders and divines, they would doubtless have attained to the repository of guidance and the treasury of virtue, and quaffed from the crystal waters of life eternal in the city of the All-Merciful, in the garden of the All-Glorious, and within the inner reality of His paradise. But as they have refused to see with the eyes wherewith God hath endowed them, and desired things other than that which He in His mercy had desired for them, they have strayed far from the retreats of nearness, have been deprived of the living waters of reunion and the wellspring of His grace, and have lain as dead within the shrouds of their own selves.
Through the power of God and His might, I shall now relate certain passages revealed in the Books of old, and mention some of the signs heralding the appearance of the Manifestations of God in the sanctified persons of His chosen Ones, that thou mayest recognize the Dayspring of this everlasting morn and behold this Fire that blazeth in the Tree which is neither of the East nor of the West. Perchance thine eyes may be opened upon attaining the presence of thy Lord and thy heart partake of the blessings concealed within these hidden treasuries. Render thanks then unto God, Who hath singled thee out for this grace and Who hath numbered thee with them that are assured of meeting their Lord.
This is the text of that which was revealed aforetime in the first Gospel, according to Matthew, regarding the signs that must needs herald the advent of the One Who shall come after Him. He saith: “And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days…”, until the mystic Dove, singing in the midmost heart of eternity, and the celestial Bird, warbling upon the Divine Lote-Tree, saith: “Immediately after the oppression of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet.”
In the second Gospel, according to Mark, the Dove of holiness speaketh in such terms: “For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be.” And it singeth later with the same melodies as before, without change or alteration. God, verily, is a witness unto the truth of My words.
And in the third Gospel, according to Luke, it is recorded: “There shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars, and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; and the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, know that the kingdom of God hath drawn nigh.”
And in the fourth Gospel, according to John, it is recorded: “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: and ye also shall bear witness.” And elsewhere He saith: “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” And: “But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou? But because I have said these things unto you…” And yet again: “Nevertheless I tell you the truth: It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” And: “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.”
Such is the text of the verses revealed in the past. By Him besides Whom there is none other God, I have chosen to be brief, for were I to recount all the words that have been sent down unto the Prophets of God from the realm of His supernal glory and the kingdom of His sovereign might, all the pages and tablets of the world would not suffice to exhaust My theme. References similar to those mentioned, nay even more sublime and exalted, have been made in all the Books and Scriptures of old. Should it be My wish to recount all that hath been revealed in the past, I would most certainly be able to do so by virtue of that which God hath bestowed upon Me of the wonders of His knowledge and power. I have, however, contented Myself with that which was mentioned, lest thou become wearied in thy journey or feel inclined to turn back, or lest thou be overtaken by sadness and sorrow and overcome with despondency, trouble and fatigue.
Be fair in thy judgement and reflect upon these exalted utterances. Inquire, then, of those who lay claim to knowledge without a proof or testimony from God, and who remain heedless of these days wherein the Orb of knowledge and wisdom hath dawned above the horizon of Divinity, rendering unto each his due and assigning unto all their rank and measure, as to what they can say concerning these allusions. Verily, their meaning hath bewildered the minds of men, and that which they conceal of the consummate wisdom and latent knowledge of God even the most sanctified souls have been powerless to uncover.
Should they say: “These words are indeed from God, and have no interpretation other than their outward meaning”, then what objection can they raise against the unbelievers among the people of the Book? For when the latter saw the aforementioned passages in their Scriptures and heard the literal interpretations of their divines, they refused to recognize God in those who are the Manifestations of His unity, the Exponents of His singleness, and the Embodiments of His sanctity, and failed to believe in them and submit to their authority. The reason was that they did not see the sun darken, or the stars of heaven fall to the ground, or the angels visibly descend upon the earth, and hence they contended with the Prophets and Messengers of God. Nay, inasmuch as they found them at variance with their own faith and creed, they hurled against them such accusations of imposture, folly, waywardness, and misbelief as I am ashamed to recount. Refer to the Qur’án, that thou mayest find mention of all this and be of them that understand its meaning. Even to this day do these people await the appearance of that which they have learned from their doctors and imbibed from their divines. Thus do they say: “When shall these signs be made manifest, that we may believe?” But if this be the case, how could ye refute their arguments, invalidate their proofs, and challenge them concerning their faith and their understanding of their Books and the sayings of their leaders?
And should they reply: “The Books that are in the hands of this people, which they call the Gospel and attribute to Jesus, the Son of Mary, have not been revealed by God and proceed not from the Manifestations of His Self”, then this would imply a cessation in the abounding grace of Him Who is the Source of all grace. If so, God’s testimony to His servants would have remained incomplete and His favour proven imperfect. His mercy would not have shone resplendent, nor would His grace have overshadowed all. For if at the ascension of Jesus His Book had likewise ascended unto heaven, then how could God reprove and chastise the people on the Day of Resurrection, as hath been written by the Imáms of the Faith and affirmed by its illustrious divines?
Ponder then in thine heart: Matters being such as thou dost witness, and as We also witness, where canst thou flee, and with whom shalt thou take refuge? Unto whom wilt thou turn thy gaze? In what land shalt thou dwell and upon what seat shalt thou abide? In what path shalt thou tread and at what hour wilt thou find repose? What shall become of thee in the end? Where shalt thou secure the cord of thy faith and fasten the tie of thine obedience? By Him Who revealeth Himself in His oneness and Whose own Self beareth witness to His unity! Should there be ignited in thy heart the burning brand of the love of God, thou wouldst seek neither rest nor composure, neither laughter nor repose, but wouldst hasten to scale the highest summits in the realms of divine nearness, sanctity, and beauty. Thou wouldst lament as a soul bereaved and weep as a heart filled with longing. Nor wouldst thou repair to thy home and abode unless God would lay bare before thee His Cause.
O thou who hast soared to the realm of guidance and ascended to the kingdom of virtue! Shouldst thou desire to apprehend these celestial allusions, to witness the mysteries of divine knowledge, and to become acquainted with His all-encompassing Word, then it behoveth thine eminence to inquire into these and other questions pertaining to thine origin and ultimate goal from those whom God hath made to be the Wellspring of His knowledge, the Heaven of His wisdom, and the Ark of His mysteries. For were it not for those effulgent Lights that shine above the horizon of His Essence, the people would know not their left hand from their right, how much less could they scale the heights of the inner realities or probe the depths of their subtleties! We beseech God therefore to immerse us in these surging seas, to grace us with the presence of these life-bearing breezes, and to cause us to abide in these divine and lofty precincts. Perchance we may divest ourselves of all that we have taken from each other and strip ourselves of such borrowed garments as we have stolen from our fellow men, that He may attire us instead with the robe of His mercy and the raiment of His guidance, and admit us into the city of knowledge.
Whosoever entereth this city will comprehend every science before probing into its mysteries and will acquire from the leaves of its trees a knowledge and wisdom encompassing such mysteries of divine lordship as are enshrined within the treasuries of creation. Glorified be God, its Creator and Fashioner, above all that He hath brought forth and ordained therein! By God, the Sovereign Protector, the Self-Subsisting, the Almighty! Were I to unveil to thine eyes the gates of this city, which have been fashioned by the right hand of might and power, thou wouldst behold that which none before thee hath ever beheld, and wouldst witness that which no other soul hath ever witnessed. Thou wouldst apprehend the most obscure signs and the most abstruse allusions, and wouldst clearly behold the mysteries of the beginning in the point of the end. All matters would be made easy unto thee, fire would be turned into light, knowledge and blessings, and thou wouldst abide in safety within the court of holiness.
Bereft, however, of the essence of the mysteries of His wisdom, which We have imparted unto thee beneath the veils of these blessed and soul-stirring words, thou wouldst fail to attain unto even a sprinkling of the oceans of divine knowledge or the crystal streams of divine power, and wouldst