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- The Sacred Language, Writings and Religion of De Parsis, p. 307, Martin Haug, 1907. 2 Qur’ãn Sura LIII, Sales translation.
- THERE IS BUT ONE GOD
- DOCtRINE OF “DTVSNE
to life an enchantment which is not
. . .
logically deducible from anything else. It is,” he says, “an added dimension of emotion.”
Religious teachings pivot around the distribution of this divine uplifting grace.
In the Gathas of Zoroaster a Being emerges: Sraosha, or Srosh.’ Ahura Mazda, the Supreme Being, has other helpers, “the immortal
Benefactors,” who are the personification of His own attributes and bestowals (the “good principle,” omnipresence, prosperity, the
earth, health, immortality), hut Srosh was “the righteous,” “the beautiful,”
“the Sword-bearer,” “the embodiment of the sacred Word.” He was referred to also as “he who walks teaching the religion around the
world.” His presence was so tangible that he was referred to as a celestial person by Zoroaster. He is the angel who stands between
God and man, the “great teacher of the good religion, who instructed the prophet in
In the later Books, Christian, Muhammadan, Bahá’i, Srosh was Gabriel—and the “angel of the Lord” was named Gabriel also in the
Old Testament. He
was who appeared to Daniel, to Zacharias, to Mary, to St. John. It was to Gabriel that Muhammad bore witness
in testifying to the divine source of His revelation:
“One mighty in power, endued with understanding, taught
him: and he appeared in the highest part of the horizon. Afterwards he
approached the prophet and near unto him until he was at the distance of two bows’-length from him or yet nearer; and he revealed
unto his servant that which he revealed.
. . .
He also saw him in the lotetree beyond which there is no passing; near
is the garden of the
Bahá’u’lláh mentioned the heavenly visitant in this wise: “Wher I chose to hold My peace and be still, lo, the voice of the Holy Ghost,
standing on My right hand aroused Me, and the Supreme Spirit appeared before My face, and Gabriel over-shadowed Me, and the
Spirit of Glory stirred within My bosom, bidding Me to arise and break My silence.”3
The names for the spirit of Revelation used thus in the same connection leads to the supposition that Gabriel (Srosh) was a
personification of the Holy Spirit, the sacred and hidden Word, the primal and supreme
The Sacred Language, Writings and Religion of
De Parsis, p. 307, Martin Haug, 1907.
Gleanings from the Writings of Bahã’u’llfh, p. 103.
THE ONENESS OF RELIGION
intermediary between God and man. “As the pure mirror receives light from the sun and transmits this bounty to others,” said ‘Abdu’l-
Bahá, “so the Holy Spirit is the mediator of the Holy Light from the Sun of Reality, which it gives to sanctified realities.
. . .
it appears the world is renewed and a new cycle is founded.”4
Because the Prophet, or Manifestation of God was the focus of this periodic flashing of a divine Ray, He too became a mediator, a
Vehicle of Grace. Through Him the vitality and sweetness of a spiritual springtime is poured forth upon the world. Of the Christ Spirit
(and it is an eternal Spirit) ‘Abdu’lBahá said, “The Christ is the central point of the Holy Spirit: He is born of the Holy Spirit; he is
raised up by the Holy Spirit; he is the descendant of the Holy Spirit.”5 The pure and brilliant mirrors—the susceptibilities of the
divinely endowed Messengers
—blazed forth in the full glory of the heavenly effulgence and reflected it to the world of humanity.
It was never a light from a
personality, no matter how exalted, that shone upon the world, but the Light from the Supreme Apex.
Srosh, and Gabriel, manifestations of Spirit from a plane of unearthly splendor, have been captured for man’s imagination by the
poetic imagery of Those Who knew their presence. We see the flashing of their swords, and the Glory of God shining around them,
and the swift passage of their wings. So, also, do we visualize the personality of the Manifestation. Our love for His attributes is an
emotion that makes Him a rallying point for the diverse humanity who are His followers. He is the Magnet around which the
fragments of blue steel which are the hearts of His disciples group themselves in concentric circles: near or far. But that majesty that
we worship, that divine patience amid the cruelest persecution, that tender and melting love, the ocean-like surge of His utterance, the
power blended with sweetness, is of God. It is God’s Self. Compared with the stupendous glory of the Manifestation, the person is as
another “Gabriel”—personiflcation, another Sign of a hidden Mystery. Bahá’u’llãh provides us with an explanation in His
“In every world He appears according to the capacity of that world
. . .
. . .
in (the world of) bodies, in the world of names and
. . .
He appears unto them in His form, so that He, their Lord, may direct them, and draw them nearer to the seat of His
Command, and cause them to attain to that which was ordained to them.
“Consider a goldsmith: verily he makes a ring, and although he is its maker, yet he adorns his finger with it. Likewise God, the
Exalted, appears in the clothing of His creatures. This is through His favor so that His servants may not flee from Him, but that they
may approach Him and rest in His Presence, hear His wonderful melodies and be benefited by that which proceeds from His mouth,
and by that which He reveals unto them from the heaven of His Will.
“Verily, were God, the Exalted, to appear in His (proper) grade and form no one could ever approach Him, or endure to be near Him
Not that the Man does not exist. He has a two-fold nature, the physical and the spiritual; a double station. Bahã’u’llãh, discoursing on
this distinction, quotes the words of Mu5ammad to exemplify the dual functioning.7 In regard to the first station, that representing the
Manifestation of God, Muhammad said, “Manifold and mysterious is My relationship with God. I am He, Himself, and He is I,
Myself, except that I am that I am, and He is that He is.” But from His second and human station Muhammad declared, “I am but a
man like you.” This is reminiscent of the paradox of Christ’s statements: “The Father and I are one;” “My teaching is not mine but His
Who sent me.” So the Man, suffering, adoring, poignantly awake, racked between earth and heaven, prayed—sometimes in ecstasy,
sometimes in agony of spirit to that Unseen but Evident Power to Which we also pray.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá further elucidating the mystery of the Manifestation informs us that the Holy Realities of the Manifestations of God
have two spiritual positions: “One is
‘Abdss’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 165.
Some Answered Questions, p. 135.
o Bshá’i Scriptures, pp. 206-207.
Gleanings from the Writings of Bahã’u’lláh, pp.
THE BAHA’I WORLD
the place of manifestation, which can be compared to the position of the globe of the sun, and the other is the resplendency of the
manifestation which is like its light and radiance.” In the first of these positions He is the “light-holder.” For example, Moses is
described in the Pentateuch as “a Man with whom the Eternal had intercourse face to face, unequalled for all the signal acts which the
Eternal sent Him to perform in the land of Egypt
. . .
as well as for all the mighty deeds and awful power which Moses displayed in the
sight of all Israel.”5
In the Gathas the individuahty of Zoroaster (Zarathushtra) stands forth as the light holder:
“The Holy Zarathushtra
who first thought what was good; who was the first priest of the sacred fire; the first warrior, the first
plougher of the ground; who first knew and first taught the Word of holiness, and obedience to the Word; who had a revelation of the
Lord; in whose birth and growth the waters and the plants, rejoiced, cried out, “Hail!”9
“Now hath God been gracious unto believers,” declared Muhammad, “when He raised up among them an apostle of their own nation,
who would recite His signs unto them and purify them.”°
Jesus emphasized the truth that the Prophet is an intermediary between God and man, an actual conveyer of the divine light.
Especially is to be noted His teaching in John where He exhorts His followers to “Remain in Me
. . .
I am the vine, you are the branches.
He who remains in Me as I in him bears rich fruit (because apart from Me you can do nothing) .“‘ He was the
central figure in a succession, or chain, of mediators of grace from the Supreme Being, that is to say, the Holy Spirit had descended on
Him (“like a dove”), and He, in turn, had transmitted the divine meanings; now He advanced the doctrine which will eventually
liberate the souls of men: that the power of the Holy Spirit can be passed on for the exaltation of those disciples who are on fire with
His love. They will be enabled then, in their turn, to reflect the adorable attributes of the Christ Spirit, and become tributaries and
channels of that same Spirit.
Bahá’u’lláh, the latest Manifestation of the Divine Spirit, teaches us that God has “focused the radiance of all His names and
attributes” upon the reality of man, and “made it a mirror of His own Self.” These energies, He asserts, lie latent within man, “even as
the flame is hidden within the candle.” The candle cannot light itself. It must be ignited from the Divine Fire. For the accomplishment
of this supreme attainment (to summarize our argument) Bahá’u’lláh teaches, “there must be manifested a Being, an Essence, who will
act as a Manifestation and a Vehicle for the transmission of the grace of the Divinity Itself, the Sovereign Lord of all. Through the
teachings of this Day Star of Truth every man will advance and develop until he attaineth the station at which he can manifest all the
potential forces with which his inmost self hath been endowed. It is for this very purpose that in every age and dispensation the
Prophets of God and His chosen Ones have appeared amongst men, and have evinced such a power as is born of God and such might
as only the Eternal can reveal.”12
According to the Qur’ánic story of Abraham this happened: “What,” said Abraham to the Chaldeans, “are these images
to which ye are so entirely devoted?”
The Chaldeans, answering as man does even today when his faith is challenged, answered, “We found our fathers
“Verily,” said Abraham, “both you and your fathers have been in manifest error.
Verily, your Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth: it is He Who bath created them, and I am one of those who bear witness
. . .
By God,” declared the youth, “I will surely devise a plot against
Deuteronomy, XXXIV, 10-12, Moffstt translation. Seven Great Bibles, Alfred W. Msrtin.
Sale’s Koran, Sura Ill.
t5Jobn XV, 4-10.
Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llSh, pp.
THE ONENESS OF RELIGION
. . .
after ye shall have turned your backs!”
Archeologists have commented on the whiteness of the moonlight on the site of the ancient city of Ur. The shrines of the Moon-god
Nannar, and the Moon-goddess Nm-Gal were in the heart of that city occupying a large place. They say that the Moon-gods were
surrounded by the images, in human form, of the countless minor gods of their retinue. “He went into the temple,” said Muhammad,
“where the idols stood, and he broke them all in pieces except the biggest of them that they might lay the blame on that.”
When Abraham was accused before the assembly, he said,
if they can speak.”
“Verily, thou knowest,” protested the Chaldeans, “that these speak not.”
“Do ye therefore worship, besides God, that which cannot profit ye at all, neither can it hurt you? Fie upon you,” cried Abraham, “and
upon that which ye worship besides God:”
The presence of the one true God haunts the Old Testament. The story in Exodus tells us that Jehovah had given Moses “two tables of
testimony, tables of stone written with the finger of God.” The first of the laws that He had revealed for the Israelites had been this:
“Ye shall have no gods but Me. You shall not carve any idols for yourselves the shape of anything in heaven or above or on the earth
below or in the sea. You shall not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Eternal, your God, am a jealous God.
But when Moses, hastened by Jehovah, descended the mountain with the tablets written on both sides in His hands, what did He hear?
There was such an outcry that Joshua (who attended Moses) thought there was war in the camp. But Moses recognized the answering
cries of ritual! it was a chorus of men’s voices singing; when He came near enough to see the camp He saw the people dancing around
the image of a golden calf.
Moses, fresh from the presence of the Ancient of Days upon the mountain, with His awful admonitions ringing in His ears above the
din of the idolatry, threw down the precious tablets, breaking them, and
hurled Himself upon the image of the calf. The legend says that He both melted it and ground it to powder. He put the powder into
water and made the idolators drink it down. Then standing at the entrance to the camp He shouted in His leader’s voice: “Who is for
the Eternal? Come over to Me
Is it for us to quibble over the details and historic authenticity of these tales of the one true God? We are not historians: rather are we
tracing a trend in religious thought, a concept. There was a tendency to fetish worship and idolatry which was a pull back to man’s
primitive past, a pull away from evolution. Inspired Leaders arose with a God-given wisdom, a God-power, whose mission it was to
combat the retrogressive tendency. According to the literature of all religions, Hindu, Buddhist, Zoroastrian, Christian, Muhammadan,
the prophets dominated men while they could, spoke of reward and punishment, led them onward in accordance with a destiny, called
their souls back from primordial slime. There was a creative social Principle at work, a• coordinative Center set up like a Sun, Man’s
sin then (as now) was to turn away from that Center.
The effect of the teachings and influence of the Hebraic sequence of prophets and administrators was that when Jesus came He did not
have to spend His precious months of teaching on the breaking up of the worship of actual graven images. Unique among the peoples
of that time the Hebrews were not idolators. Jesus was free to attack through His teachings a more subtle infidelity to the one true
God. He threw the money-changers out of the temple; He searched the hearts for the hidden altar to Baal; He distinguished between
the quick and the dead—family could be an idol, possessions and power, old ways of hying, individualism. Those things from which
man could not unrivet his gaze when the Christ- call sounded were the idols. Because of those happenings, mysteriously hinted at in
the ancient manuscripts which comprise the Old Testament, there were ready in the time of Christ a few, a nucleus, who were ready to
cast away the Christ-defined idolatry and to carry the new tablets of the one God
Ssara XXI, Sale’s translation.
THE BAHA’i WORLD
(those writ on the heart) out into the border territory. Many listened. Then, all too soon, as the years passed into centuries the apostolic
channels became clogged with doctrine, and the subtle idols (self in its guises) crept back into their niches.
“And Jehovah said unto Moses. Hew Me two tablets of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon the tablets the words that were
on the first tablets that thou breakest.”
Again God was merciful. He sent Another, and Another, and Another. He made new covenants. He revealed through new versions of
the Mother Book, new vistas leading to the Promised Land—that Land which is called the Kingdom of God.
Suddenly, dramatically, in the seventh century after the appearance of the Christ in Palestine, the one true God established Himself in
an out-territory, among the tribes of Arabia.
Arabia was then—and promised ever to be—a veritable stronghold of idol worship in its crudest form. The Ishmaelites (so- named
from their belief in a descent from Abraham through Ishmael) had fallen early into those mistakes which the Israelites had made.
Centuries of recession had piled one upon another. The dust of the desert itself was not equal to the gloomy dust of superstition that
stifled the souls of those people. The story of the coming of Multammad is Hebraic in its masterful splendor and abruptness. With
words that cut like knives Muhammad managed to carve the consciousness of the one God into those resistant minds. We find
ourselves incredibly transplanted to the earlier legend. It was as if Jehovah, Himself, the Eternal, after finding His chosen ones bereft
of hearing in the Hour of Christ had turned back His attention upon the earlier and more primitive line.
In 629 Muhammad came back to the Temple of Abraham and Ishmael, this time a conqueror of such power that He had but to appear
before the gates of Mecca for that city to capitulate. Of all the populace He killed but four and these were executed in just punishment
for their misdeeds. But Muhammad was bent upon the destruction of another community, that of the gods in the temple of His
forefathers. Followed by
His ten thousand soldiers He came to the Kaaba. Had the gods there possessed a mind or soul instead of being the inanimate things
that they were, they would have known the spelling of their ultimate doom nearly twenty years before. It was at that time that the
angelic Voice on Mt. Hira had said to Muhammad, ‘try in the Name of thy Lord!” In the years that had followed Muhammad had
declared His mission, suffered His period of persecution, had fled (in 622) out of Mecca at night and on His black horse to the City of
Yathrib—soon to be called Medina, the City of the Prophet. He had then set up a temporal rule in Medina and administered the Law of
God. Always He had taught the one God: “Your God is one God; there is no God but He, the Most Merciful. In the creation of the
heaven and the earth, and the alternation of the day and night, and in the ship which saileth on the sea laden with what is profitable to
mankind; and in the rain-water which God sendeth from heaven, quickening again the dead earth and the animals of all sorts which
cover its surface; and in the change of the winds and the clouds balanced between heaven and earth—are signs to people of
understanding. Yet, some men take idols beside God and love them with the love due to God.”2
Now the Meccans had treacherously broken their years of truth and the climax for the gods was no longer to be withheld.
There in the Kaaba the gods waited, Hobal, carved in red agate, the gold and silver gazelles, the images of Abraham and Ishmael.
Ranged around these were three hundred sixty idols, one for each day of the lunar year, nature fetishes. As in His story of His ancestor
Abraham, He struck the idols down—and this is a matter of record:
while an idolatrous populace sighed He broke every one of the images, and with each crashing blow He shouted: “Truth is come, and
falsehood is fled away. Verily, falsehood is evanescent!” With the images went every pagan rite. It was a deathblow to a whole vast
system of idolatry. From the desert the tribes began giving themselves up to Him; enlisting under the banner of the one God.
THE ONENESS OF RELIGION
An exhibit of Bahã’i books placed on view at the Dean Hobbs Blanchard Memorial Library in Santa Paula, California.
The librarian, Mrs. Gladys Kennedy, cooperated in making this display possible, which included recent Bahã’i books
published in the U. S., pictures of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and the Temple, some texts in Persian and Arabic, enhanced in
by flowers and Persian art objects. The exhibit attracted much attention.
DOCtRINE OF “DTVSNE
The demolition of the images was a deed performed in the world of material things. It was a vigorous lesson in the root doctrine of
Mul3ammad’s teachings: that of the “Divine Unity.” Readers of this series will recognize a recurrence of our theme in the following
statement by a present-day adherent of the Prophet.3
“For thousands, for millions of years, there has been but one truth in the world. God, the Incomprehensible, the Unrecognizable, has
sent it to mankind. Throughout the entire existence of the world, through all peoples and all cultures, through all times and all
countries, there has been a steady procession of prophets, of holy ones, commanded by God to preach the primitive truth to humanity.
Their message was the same at all times. Faith in the prophets is the cornerstone of Islam.”
Another Muhammadan writer4 carries the conception of unity farther: “God is one
and so are His creatures. Unity springs from a belief in the Oneness of the Creator which spreads out and inspires everything in
The doctrine of Divine Unity can be resolved into precepts which are basic also in the Teachings of the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh, 1. The
Unity of the Essence, 2. The belief in a succession of prophets, 3. The essential brotherhood of mankind. A more searching definition
of polytheism was in the making. The belief in the actual incarnation of the God-essence in the person of the Prophet had crept out of
Egypt and Greece and Rome into Christianity. Muhammad protested against an idolizing of Jesus and Mary. He guarded His followers
against a deifying of Himself. For to consider the prophets other than channels for the knowledge of God, to differentiate between
“Muhammad, Essad Bey, 1936.
‘Muhammad, the Prophet, Sindar ‘All Shah.
THE BAHA’i WORLD
ing one while rejecting others was to expose one’s lack of comprehension of the true implications of Unity. It was defined as
polytheism then: so is it now.
In our own day, Bahi’u’lláh, latest manifestation of the one true God, bears witness to His own dissociation, as a personality, with the
Unknowable Essence: “Know thou of a certainty that the Unseen can in no wise incarnate His Essence and reveal it unto men. He is,
and hath ever been, immensely exalted beyond all that can either be recounted or perceived. From His retreat of Glory His voice is
But God moves Him entirely, as
an instrument in His Hand: “As a token of His mercy
. . .
and as a proof of His loving kindness, He hath manifested unto men the Day
Stars of His divine guidance, the Symbols of His divine unity, and hath ordained the knowledge of these sanctified beings to be
identical with the knowledge of His own Self. Whoso recognizeth them hath recognized God. Whoso hearkeneth to their call, hath
hearkened to the Voice of God, and whoso testifieth to the truth of their Revelation, hath testified to the truth of God Himself.”
Explaining the Divine Unity again He says: “Inasmuch as these Birds of the celestial Throne are all sent down from the heaven of the
Will of God, and as they all arise to proclaim His irresistible Faith, they, therefore, are regarded as one soul and the same person. For
they all drink
from the one Cup of the love of God, and all partake of the fruit of the same Tree of Oneness.”
“All is from God,” therefore all humanity: “Through each and everyone of the verses which the Pen of the Most High hath revealed,
the doors of love and unity have been unlocked and flung open to the face of men. We have erewhile declared—and Our Word is the
truth: ‘Consort with the followers of all religions in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship.’
“0 contending peoples and kindreds of the
earth! Set your faces toward unity, and let the radiance of its light shine upon you.
. . .
There can be no doubt whatever that the peoples
of the world, of whatever race or religion, derive their inspiration from one heavenly Source, and are the subjects of one God.
The one God recognized, we are ready to attack, with His help, the inner idolatry which is so firmly set up in the hearts of a forgetful
world. “Arise, 0 people,” the Voice of the One God has called again in ringing tones, “and by the power of God’s might, resolve to
gain the victory over your own selves, that haply the whole world may be freed from the gods of its idle fancies— gods that have
inflicted such loss upon, and are responsible for the misery of, their wretched worshipers. These idols form the obstacle that impeded
man in his efforts to advance in the path of perfection. We cherish the hope that the Hand of Divine Power lend its assistance to
mankind, and deliver it from its state of grievous abasement.”
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