Monday, December 5, 2011

A Baha'i Rosary

A primary purpose of this blog entry is to describe a method for counting to ninety-five using one's fingers. Scrolling down below, you will find it highlighted by blue type. But first, some context:

"Attire thy temple with the ornament of My Name, and thy tongue with remembrance of Me, and thine heart with love for Me, the Almighty, the Most High."

The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 69)

"...the remembrance of His Name is able to set on fire the hearts of all men, and burn away the veils that intervene between them and His glory."

Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, pp. 286-287

"Armed with the power of Thy name nothing can ever hurt me, and with Thy love in my heart all the world's afflictions can in no wise alarm me."

(Baha'u'llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha'u'llah, p. 208)

"It hath been ordained that every believer in God, the Lord of Judgement, shall, each day, having washed his hands and then his face, seat himself and, turning unto God, repeat "Allah-u-Abha" ninety-five times. Such was the decree of the Maker of the Heavens when, with majesty and power, He established Himself upon the thrones of His Names."
(Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 26)

"Allah-u-Abha" is an Arabic phrase meaning "God the All-Glorious".
It is a form of the Greatest Name of God... In Islam there is a tradition that among the many names of God, one was the greatest; however, the identity of this Greatest Name was hidden. Baha'u'llah has confirmed that the Greatest Name is "Baha".

The various derivatives of the word "Baha" are also regarded as the Greatest Name...

(The Kitab-i-Aqdas, Notes, p. 180)

As seen above, Baha'u'llah enjoined repetition of 'Allah-u-Abha' ninety-five times daily. (He also integrated recitation of 'Allah-u-Abha' into the Long Obligatory Prayer in three placesthree times in each placeand into the Prayer for the Dead, where it is repeated six times.)
Losing count is potentially a problem in repeating Allah-u-Abha ninety-five times. Using a Baha'i rosary of beads or seeds is one means of maintaining the count. It is known that Abdu'l-Baha owned and used such strings of beads and sometimes gave them as gifts.

Another method for keeping track of the count is to use one's fingers. If you are like me, and persist in unintentionally breaking every rosary you've ever been given, this technique is a lifesaver. You're not likely to lose this bodily abacus, and for some it's even easier than using a string of beads. With this method one's own hands are a Baha'i rosary.

In either system, whether using prayer beads or using one's hands, counting is not required. Instead
, the tally is tracked by moving the fingers as one recites.

The following way of using one's hands was taught to me and others in a small session at Bosch Baha'i School in California in 1979 by Margaret Gallagher,
who then served as an Auxiliary Board Member, (she has since passed away, God bless her precious soul). She recounted that this method was taught to her while she was riding in the back of a van, as I recall, by the beloved Hand of the Cause Zikrullah Khadem.
Beginning with one hand, the devotee registers nineteen repetitions by touching in turn—using the tip of the thumb starting with the crease at the base of the little finger—the creases at the three joints, as well as the tip, of each of the four fingers, (each time beginning at that finger's base crease), and then—using the tip of the index finger beginning with the crease at the base of the thumb—the creases at the two joints, and then the tip of the thumb, to get a total of nineteen creases and tips.

Since 5x19=95, each series of nineteen 'Allah'u'Abhas' tallied on the one hand is registered by a digit of the other hand, until all four fingers and the thumb of that other hand are held out, signifying ninety-five repetitions.

Glory be unto Thee, O Lord of the world and Desire of the nations, O Thou Who hast become manifest in the Greatest Name whereby the pearls of wisdom and utterance have appeared from the shells of the great sea of Thy knowledge, and the heavens of divine revelation have been adorned with the light of the appearance of the Sun of Thy countenance.

I beg of Thee, by that Word through which Thy proof was perfected among Thy creatures and Thy testimony was fulfilled among Thy servants to strengthen Thy people in that whereby the face of the Cause will radiate in Thy dominion, the standards of Thy power will be planted among Thy servants, and the banners of Thy guidance will be raised throughout Thy dominions.

O my Lord! Thou beholdest them clinging to the rope of Thy grace and holding fast unto the hem of the mantle of Thy beneficence. Ordain for them that which may draw them nearer unto Thee, and withhold them from all else save Thee. I beg of Thee, O Thou King of existence and Protector of the seen and the unseen, to make whosoever ariseth to serve Thy Cause as a sea moving by Thy desire, as one ablaze with the fire of Thy Sacred Tree, shining from the horizon of the heaven of Thy Will. Verily Thou art the mighty One Whom neither the power of all the world nor the strength of nations can weaken. There is no God but Thee, the One, the Incomparable, the Protector, the Self-Subsistent.

(Baha'u'llah, Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 33)

"Thy name is my healing, O my God, and remembrance of Thee is my remedy."

(Baha'u'llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha'u'llah, p. 262

Let all experience the spiritual enrichment brought to their souls by this simple act of worshipful meditation.

(The Universal House of Justice,
28 Dec. 1999, 'Further Application of Devotional Laws')

Sunday, November 13, 2011

For the Day of the Covenant

A Covenant in the religious sense is a binding agreement between God and man, whereby God requires of man certain behaviour in return for which He guarantees certain blessings, or whereby He gives man certain bounties in return for which He takes from those who accept them an undertaking to behave in a certain way.

(23 March 1975, from a letter written by the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)

Some Prayers for the Day of the Covenant

I bear witness to Thy unity and Thy oneness, and that Thou art God, and that there is none other God beside Thee. Thou hast, verily, revealed Thy Cause, fulfilled Thy Covenant, and opened wide the door of Thy grace to all that dwell in heaven and on earth. Blessing and peace, salutation and glory, rest upon Thy loved ones, whom the changes and chances of the world have not deterred from turning unto Thee, and who have given their all, in the hope of obtaining that which is with Thee. Thou art, in truth, the Ever-Forgiving, the All-Bountiful.

(Baha'u'llah, from the Medium Obligatory Prayer, Prayers and Meditations by Baha'u'llah, p. 316)

Our limbs, our members, O my Lord, bear witness to Thy unity and oneness. Send down upon us Thy strength and power, that we may become steadfast in Thy Faith and may aid Thee among Thy servants. Illumine our eyes, O my Lord, with the effulgence of Thy beauty, and enlighten our hearts with the splendors of Thy knowledge and wisdom. Write us up, then, with those who have fulfilled their pledge to Thy Covenant in Thy days, and who, through their love for Thee, have detached themselves from the world and all that is therein.
Powerful art Thou to do what Thou pleasest. No God is there beside Thee, the All-Powerful, the Omniscient, the Supreme Ruler, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting.

(Baha'u'llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha'u'llah, p. 173)

If thou desirest to be freed from affliction, recite thou this prayer which hath been revealed by the Pen of the All-Merciful:
“O God, my God! I testify to Thy unity and to Thy oneness. I beseech Thee, O Thou Possessor of names and Fashioner of the heavens, by the pervasive influence of Thine exalted Word and the potency of Thy supreme Pen, to aid me with the ensigns of Thy power and might, and to protect me from the mischief of Thine enemies who have violated Thy Covenant and Thy Testament. Thou art, verily, the Almighty, the Most Powerful.” 
This invocation is an impregnable stronghold and an indomitable army. It conferreth protection and ensureth deliverance.

(Baha'u'llah, The Tabernacle of Unity, p. 60) [Formatting added]

O my Lord and my Hope! Help Thou Thy loved ones to be steadfast in Thy mighty Covenant, to remain faithful to Thy manifest Cause, and to carry out the commandments Thou didst set down for them in Thy Book of Splendors; that they may become banners of guidance and lamps of the Company above, wellsprings of Thine infinite wisdom, and stars that lead aright, as they shine down from the supernal sky.
Verily, Thou art the Invincible, the Almighty, the All-Powerful.

(Abdu’l-Baha, Baha'i Prayers, 2002 U.S. Edition, pp. 71-72)

O Lord! Make these children excellent plants. Let them grow and develop in the Garden of Thy Covenant, and bestow freshness and beauty through the outpourings of the clouds of the Abha Kingdom.

O Thou kind Lord! I am a little child, exalt me by admitting me to the kingdom. I am earthly, make me heavenly; I am of the world below, let me belong to the realm above; gloomy, suffer me to become radiant; material, make me spiritual, and grant that I may manifest Thine infinite bounties.

Thou art the Powerful, the All-Loving.

(Abdu’l-Baha, Baha'i Prayers, 2002 U.S. Edition, pp. 28-29)

A Sampling of Readings for the Day of the Covenant

[As an aid in processing the excerpts from the sacred Writings and various texts of the Faith regarding the Covenant that follow, here is part of a brief explanation conveyed by the Universal House of Justice:]

There is, for example, the Greater Covenant which every Manifestation of God makes with His followers, promising that in the fulness of time a new Manifestation will be sent, and taking from them the undertaking to accept Him when this occurs. There is also the Lesser Covenant that a Manifestation of God makes with His followers that they will accept His appointed successor after Him. If they do so, the Faith can remain united and pure. If not, the Faith becomes divided and its force spent. It is a Covenant of this kind that Baha'u'llah made with His followers regarding Abdu'l-Baha and that Abdu'l-Baha perpetuated through the Administrative Order...

(23 March 1975, from a letter written by the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)


O Living Temple! Through Thee have We gathered together all created things, whether in the heavens or on the earth, and called them to account for that which We had covenanted with them before the foundation of the world.

(Baha'u'llah, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 8)

Give ear unto that which the Dove of Eternity warbleth upon the twigs of the Divine Lote-Tree: O peoples of the earth! We sent forth him who was named John to baptize you with water, that your bodies might be cleansed for the appearance of the Messiah. He, in turn, purified you with the fire of love and the water of the spirit in anticipation of these Days whereon the All-Merciful hath purposed to cleanse you with the water of life at the hands of His loving providence. This is the Father foretold by Isaiah, and the Comforter concerning Whom the Spirit [Jesus] had covenanted with you.

(Baha'u'llah, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 61)

Say, O peoples of the world!...Verily We have taken a covenant from every created thing upon its coming into being concerning the Remembrance of God, and there shall be none to avert the binding command of God for the purification of mankind, as ordained in the Book which is written by the hand of the Bab.

[Excerpt from the Qayyuma’l-Asma’, Chapter LXVIII.]
(The Bab, Selections from the Writings of the Bab, p. 65)

[For the words of Abdu’l-Baha and Baha’u’llah below, emphasis has been added to this passage from Shoghi Effendi, Guardian of the Baha’i Faith:]

"So firm and mighty is this Covenant," He Who is its appointed Center has affirmed, "that from the beginning of time until the present day no religious Dispensation hath produced its like." "It is indubitably clear," He, furthermore, has stated, "that the pivot of the oneness of mankind is nothing else but the power of the Covenant." "Know thou," He has written, "that the 'Sure Handle' mentioned from the foundation of the world in the Books, the Tablets and the Scriptures of old is naught else but the Covenant and the Testament." And again: "The lamp of the Covenant is the light of the world, and the words traced by the Pen of the Most High a limitless ocean." "The Lord, the All-Glorified," He has moreover declared, "hath, beneath the shade of the Tree of Anisa (Tree of Life), made a new Covenant and established a great Testament... Hath such a Covenant been established in any previous Dispensation, age, period or century? Hath such a Testament, set down by the Pen of the Most High, ever been witnessed? No, by God!" And finally: "The power of the Covenant is as the heat of the sun which quickeneth and promoteth the development of all created things on earth. The light of the Covenant, in like manner, is the educator of the minds, the spirits, the hearts and souls of men." To this same Covenant He has in His writings referred as the "Conclusive Testimony," the "Universal Balance," the "Magnet of God's grace," the "Upraised Standard," the "Irrefutable Testament," "the all-mighty Covenant, the like of which the sacred Dispensations of the past have never witnessed" and "one of the distinctive features of this most mighty cycle."

Extolled by the writer of the Apocalypse as "the Ark of His (God) Testament"; associated with the gathering beneath the "Tree of Anisa" (Tree of Life) mentioned by Baha'u'llah in the Hidden Words; glorified by Him, in other passages of His writings, as the "Ark of Salvation" and as "the Cord stretched betwixt the earth and the Abha Kingdom," this Covenant has been bequeathed to posterity in a Will and Testament which, together with the Kitab-i-Aqdas and several Tablets, in which the rank and station of Abdu'l-Baha are unequivocally disclosed, constitute the chief buttresses designed by the Lord of the Covenant Himself to shield and support, after His ascension, the appointed Center of His Faith and the Delineator of its future institutions.

(Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, pp. 238-239)

Today no power can conserve the oneness of the Baha'i world save the Covenant of God; otherwise differences like unto a most great tempest will encompass the Baha'i world. It is evident that the axis of the oneness of the world of humanity is the power of the Covenant and nothing else. Had the Covenant not come to pass, had it not been revealed from the Supreme Pen and had not the Book of the Covenant, like unto the ray of the Sun of Reality, illuminated the world, the forces of the Cause of God would have been utterly scattered and certain souls who were the prisoners of their own passions and lusts would have taken into their hands an axe, cutting the root of this Blessed Tree. Every person would have pushed forward his own desire and every individual aired his own opinion!

(Abdu'l-Baha, Tablets of the Divine Plan, p. 51)

Hold thou fast to the Covenant of thy Lord, and as the days go by, increase thy store of love for His beloved ones. Bend thou with tenderness over the servitors of the All-Merciful, that thou mayest hoist the sail of love upon the ark of peace that moveth across the seas of life. Let nothing grieve thee, and be thou angered at none. It behoveth thee to be content with the Will of God, and a true and loving and trusted friend to all the peoples of the earth, without any exceptions whatever. This is the quality of the sincere, the way of the saints, the emblem of those who believe in the unity of God, and the raiment of the people of Baha.

(Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, pp. 25-26)

O thou daughter of the Kingdom! Thy letter was received. It was like the melody of the divine nightingale, whose song delighteth the hearts. This is because its contents indicated faith, assurance and firmness in the Covenant and the Testament. Today the dynamic power of the world of existence is the power of the Covenant which like unto an artery pulsateth in the body of the contingent world and protecteth Baha'i unity.

The Baha'is are commanded to establish the oneness of mankind; if they cannot unite around one point how will they be able to bring about the unity of mankind?

The purpose of the Blessed Beauty in entering into this Covenant and Testament was to gather all existent beings around one point so that the thoughtless souls, who in every cycle and generation have been the cause of dissension, may not undermine the Cause. He hath, therefore, commanded that whatever emanateth from the Centre of the Covenant is right and is under His protection and favour, while all else is error.

(Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, pp. 208-209)

The tests of every dispensation are in direct proportion to the greatness of the Cause, and as heretofore such a manifest Covenant, written by the Supreme Pen, hath not been entered upon, the tests are proportionately more severeThus it is seen that the ocean of the Covenant hath surged and surged until it hath thrown out the dead bodies—souls that are deprived of the Spirit of God and are lost in passion and self and are seeking leadership. This foam of the ocean shall not endure and shall soon disperse and vanish, while the ocean of the Covenant shall eternally surge and roar...

(Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, pp. 210-211)

Today, every wise, vigilant and foresighted person is awakened, and to him are unveiled the mysteries of the future which show that nothing save the power of the Covenant is able to stir and move the heart of humanity, just as the New and Old Testaments propounded throughout all regions the Cause of Christ and were the pulsating power in the body of the human world. A tree that hath a root shall bear fruit, while the tree that hath none, no matter how high and hardy it may be, will eventually wither, perish and become but a log fit for the fire.

The Covenant of God is like unto a vast and fathomless ocean. A billow shall rise and surge therefrom and shall cast ashore all accumulated foam.

(Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 223)

Today, the Lord of Hosts is the defender of the Covenant, the forces of the Kingdom protect it, heavenly souls tender their services, and heavenly angels promulgate and spread it broadcast. If it is considered with insight, it will be seen that all the forces of the universe, in the last analysis serve the Covenant.

(Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 228)

[Excerpts from a long prayer and opening statement in Part Two of the Will and Testament of Abdu’l-Baha which preface His further appointment of His twin successors, The Guardian of the Cause of God and the Universal House of Justice:]

He Is God
O MY LORD, my heart's Desire, Thou Whom I ever invoke, Thou Who art my Aider and my Shelter, my Helper and my Refuge! Thou seest me submerged in an ocean of calamities that overwhelm the soul, of afflictions that oppress the heart, of woes that disperse Thy gathering, of ills and pains that scatter Thy flock. Sore trials have compassed me round and perils have from all sides beset me. Thou seest me immersed in a sea of unsurpassed tribulation, sunk into a fathomless abyss, afflicted by mine enemies and consumed with the flame of their hate, enkindled by my kinsmen with whom Thou didst make Thy strong Covenant and Thy firm Testament, wherein Thou biddest them turn their hearts to this wronged one, to keep away from me the foolish, the unjust, and refer unto this lonely one all that about which they differ in Thy Holy Book, so that the Truth may be revealed unto them, their doubts may be dispelled and Thy manifest Signs be spread abroad.

Yet now Thou seest them, O Lord, my God! with Thine eye that sleepeth not, how that they have broken Thy Covenant and turned their backs thereon, how with hate and rebelliousness they have erred from Thy Testament and have arisen intent upon malice

O God, my God! Lowly, suppliant and fallen upon my face, I beseech Thee with all the ardor of my invocation to pardon whosoever hath hurt me, forgive him that hath conspired against me and offended me, and wash away the misdeeds of them that have wrought injustice upon me. Vouchsafe unto them Thy goodly gifts, give them joy, relieve them from sorrow, grant them peace and prosperity, give them Thy bliss and pour upon them Thy bounty.

Thou art the Powerful, the Gracious, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting!

O dearly beloved friends! I am now in very great danger and the hope of even an hour's life is lost to me. I am thus constrained to write these lines for the protection of the Cause of God, the preservation of His Law, the safeguarding of His Word and the safety of His Teachings

(Abdu'l-Baha, The Will and Testament, excerpted from pp. 17-19)

O thou who art happy with the glad tidings of divine bestowal! There are those who believe that the cause of salvation is none other than a confession of Divine Unity. There are those who say: "This is not sufficient. Belief in Divine Unity must be combined with righteous deeds as prescribed by the All-Merciful." There are still others who aver that the above must be combined with a most praiseworthy character blessed by God. And yet again there are those who assert that one must encompass all the grades of spiritual perfection and attain the beauty of an inner conscience before one can be truly saved. But undoubtedly, what is most certain, most sure and incontrovertible, what the People of God cling to most confidently is that the true cause of salvation is none other than steadfastness in the Testament and firmness in the Covenant of the All-Merciful. This faithfulness is the particular characteristic of our belief in the Manifestation of God in this Day. This is the truth enshrined in the safeguarded Mystery of this Cause and verily, in this faithfulness can be found all the other grades and standards of salvation.

Abdu'l-Baha, Importance of the Covenant, #196, SWA v2, Baha'i World Centre Publications 1984, [ISBN 0-85398-202-3] Provisional Translation by Khazeh Fananapazir

The progress of the Cause of God gathers increasing momentum and we may with confidence look forward to the day when this Community, in God's good time, shall have traversed the stages predicated for it by its Guardian, and shall have raised on this tormented planet the fair mansions of God's Own Kingdom wherein humanity may find surcease from its self-induced confusion and chaos and ruin, and the hatreds and violence of this time shall be transmuted into an abiding sense of world brotherhood and peace. All this shall be accomplished within the Covenant of the everlasting Father, the Covenant of Baha'u'llah.

(The Universal House of Justice, Ridvan Message 1973 to the Baha'is of the World)

A feature of the past hundred years of Baha'i development that should seize the attention of any observer is the Faith's success in overcoming the attacks made on it. As had been the case during the ministries of the Bab and Baha'u'llah, elements in society who either resented the rise of the new religion or feared the principles it teaches sought by every means in their power to suffocate it. Hardly a decade of the past century did not witness attempts of this kind—ranging from the bloody persecutions incited by Shi'ih clergy and the shameless falsehoods concocted and spread by their Christian counterparts, to systematic efforts at suppression by various totalitarian regimes, and, finally, to violations of their commitment to Baha'u'llah on the part of the insincere, the ambitious or the malevolent among its professed adherents. By every human standard, the Cause should have succumbed to a barrage of opposition without parallel in recent history. Far from succumbing, it flourished. Its reputation rose, its membership vastly increased, its influence spread beyond the dreams of earlier generations of its followers. Persecution served to galvanize its supporters' efforts. Calumny drove believers to seek a more mature understanding of its history and teachings. And, as both the Master and the Guardian had promised, violation of the Covenant washed out of its ranks persons whose behaviour and attitudes had dampened the faith of others and inhibited progress. If the Cause could bring no other testimony to the powers that sustain it, this succession of triumphs alone should suffice.

(Commissioned by The Universal House of Justice, Century of Light, pp. 140-141)


Kitab-i-Ahd (Book of the Covenant) [Baha’u’llah’s Will and Testament]

The Covenant, December 1987, Materials assembled by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice

The Covenant of Baha’u’llah, Adib Taherzadeh, 1992

The Child of the Covenant, A Study Guide to the Will and Testament of Abdu'l-Baha, Adib Taherzadeh, 2000

[All of the above six works in their entirety, and much, much more, may be downloaded for free as part of the indispensable desktop search program constructed by Chad Jones: Ocean - World Religions Research Library.] [A true treasure trove from webservant Brent Poirier.]

For further study, go to this extensive site maintained by Jonah Winters, Brett Zamir and company: click on “Search Title” enter the word ‘covenant’ then click on the “Search” button.

The Covenant, Daily Readings from the Baha’i Teachings, Compiled by Enoch Tanyi, 1989. [My wife and I like to use this during the annual Baha’i Fast.]

The Power of the Covenant – Part One, “Baha’u’llah’s Covenant with Mankind;” Part Two, “The Problem of Covenant-Breaking;” Part Three, “The Face of Opposition.” 

[Three insightful booklets published in 1977 by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Canada.]

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Unsearchable Wisdom of God

Regarding Dreams in the Baha’i Faith

Part 1

“Now there are many wisdoms to ponder in the dream...”
(Baha'u'llah, Seven Valleys, pp. 32-33)

Many of us spend approximately a third of our lives sleeping. Contemporary research indicates that everyone dreams while sleeping, whether those dreams are remembered or not
. [1][2][3] There is scientific and popular interest in dreams: dream research is being conducted in sleep laboratories while dream study groups, workshops and seminars are taking place in conferences and homes. An ongoing stream of publications, both on the internet and the printed page, attests to the public’s abiding fascination with the subject. This survey will look at some of the accounts and specific statements on the subject of dreams made in the Writings and texts of the Baha’i Faith.

Exhortations to Ponder
Baha'u'llah, in His Writings, repeatedly exhorts the reader to ponder the dream state. He stated point blank:
Consider thy state when asleep. Verily, I say, this phenomenon is the most mysterious of the signs of God amongst men, were they to ponder it in their hearts.
(Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, LXXIX, p. 152)

Further, He said:

Consider how strange is the mystery of the world that appeareth to thee in thy dream. Ponder in thine heart upon the unsearchable wisdom of God, and meditate on its manifold revelations...

(Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, LXXXII, p. 162)

Dreams are a focus of discourse in the Valley of Wonderment of Baha'u’llah’s mystical treatise The Seven Valleys, which includes these words:
One of the created phenomena is the dream. Behold how many secrets are deposited therein, how many wisdoms treasured up, how many worlds concealed.
(Baha'u'llah, The Seven Valleys, p. 32)

Referring to the outer world and the world of sleep, Baha'u'llah urged:

Consider the difference between these two worlds and the mysteries which they conceal, that thou mayest attain to divine confirmations and heavenly discoveries and enter the regions of holiness.

(Baha'u'llah, The Seven Valleys, p. 33)

These are among the summarizing insights that Baha’u’llah shared as to the place of dreams in understanding the realms of existence:
Moreover, thou hast asked about the dream state. It is a world distinguished among the divine worlds that expresseth and indicateth infinite conditions. [i] For example, it is proof of a world without beginning and end or first and last, inasmuch as something is seen in a dream and after a period of years the same event is observed in this world. From one perspective, if it be said that it is the intermediate world of similitudes[ii]* resembling the Kingdom,[iii] which some regard as the world of similitudes located between the world of Dominion[iv] and this mortal world,[v] this is correct. In short, shouldst thou ponder deeply upon this state, thou wilt comprehend innumerable subjects.
…O questioner, man is the supreme compendium and the most perfect talisman; he is the compendium which containeth a similitude of whatever hath been created in the heavens and the earth. When the soul is released from transitory restrictions and terrestrial states, it will traverse all the stages, and the greater its freedom, [vi] the stronger, more steadfast, and true will be its flight.

[i] (umūrāt); [ii] (‘ālam-i mithāl)*; [iii] (malakūt); [iv] (jabarūt); [v] (nāsūt); [vi] (farāgha)
(From a Tablet of Baha’u’llah, Layālī al-Hikmat, vol. 2, p. 65–66 in Amr va Khalq, vol. 1, compiled by Fadil-i-Mazindarani, Tihran 1954-55. Provisional translation by Keven Brown.)
*Among its other designations, ālam-i mithāl has also been translated into English as the “world of archetypal images.” (See Encyclopedia of Islam, 2nd Edition.)

One of Baha'u'llah's prayers includes these words:

I give praise to Thee, O my God, that Thou hast awakened me out of my sleep, and brought me forth after my disappearance, and raised me up from my slumber. I have wakened this morning with my face set toward the splendors of the Day-Star of Thy Revelation...

I beseech Thee, by the potency of Thy will and the compelling power of Thy purpose, to make of what Thou didst reveal unto me in my sleep the surest foundation for the mansions of Thy love that are within the hearts of Thy loved ones, and the best instrument for the revelation of the tokens of Thy grace and Thy loving-kindness.

(Baha'u'llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha'u'llah, CLVI, p. 248) [Emphasis added.]

"One night in a dream..."

Dreams have played a major role in Baha’i history. A mystic dream is associated with the inception of the Baha’i Era, as this account relates:
In one of His writings revealed in the year '60 A.H., [1844] the Bab declares the following: "The spirit of prayer which animates My soul is the direct consequence of a dream which I had in the year before the declaration of My Mission. In My vision I saw the head of the Imam Husayn, the Siyyidu'sh-Shuhada', which was hanging upon a tree. Drops of blood dripped profusely from His lacerated throat. With feelings of unsurpassed delight, I approached that tree and, stretching forth My hands, gathered a few drops of that sacred blood, and drank them devoutly. When I awoke, I felt that the Spirit of God had permeated and taken possession of My soul. My heart was thrilled with the joy of His Divine presence, and the mysteries of His Revelation were unfolded before My eyes in all their glory.

(The Dawn-Breakers, Nabil's Narrative, p. 253) [Emphasis added.]

This highly significant dream was also recounted in another place by the Bab:
Know that the revelation of all these verses and prayers, and these divine sciences, is because of a dream in which I witnessed the holy head of the Prince of Martyrs [Husayn], upon him be peace, detached from his holy body, together with the heads of other companions. I drank seven handfuls of his blood with the greatest love, and it is now the blessing of the blood of that holy one which hath illuminated my heart with such indisputable verses and prayers. Lauded be God who caused me to drink from the blood of His proof and made him the essence of my heart. Thus hath He sent down the affliction (al-balá’) according to His decree. Verily, we are God’s and unto Him do we return. Let those who act conform to His law.
(The Bab in Sahífiy-i-Usúl va Furú’, Amr va Khalq, Vol. 1, compiled by Fadil-i-Mazindarani, Tihran 1954-55. Provisional translation by Keven Brown.) [Emphasis added.]

This dream is correlated by Shoghi Effendi with Baha'u'llah's first intimations of His mission (see below), and with
…the soul-shaking experience of Moses when confronted by the Burning Bush in the wilderness of Sinai; of Zoroaster when awakened to His mission by a succession of seven visions; of Jesus when coming out of the waters of the Jordan He saw the heavens opened and the Holy Ghost descend like a dove and light upon Him; of Muhammad when in the Cave of Hira, outside of the holy city of Mecca, the voice of Gabriel bade Him "cry in the name of Thy Lord..." [The Bab] …awoke to find Himself the chosen recipient of the outpouring grace of the Almighty.

(Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 93)

After giving an account of the Declaration of the Bab to Mulla Husayn, the first Letter of the Living, Shoghi Effendi went on to relate:
Not until forty days had elapsed, however, did the enrollment of the seventeen remaining Letters of the Living commence. Gradually, spontaneously, some in sleep, others while awake, some through fasting and prayer, others through dreams and visions, they discovered the Object of their quest, and were enlisted under the banner of the new-born Faith.
(Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 7) [Emphasis added.]

Moreover, Shoghi Effendi quoted recollections from Baha'u'llah of His imprisonment in the Black Pit of Tihran:
"One night in a dream," He Himself, calling to mind, in the evening of His life, the first stirrings of God's Revelation within His soul, has written, "these exalted words were heard on every side: 'Verily, We shall render Thee victorious by Thyself and by Thy pen. Grieve Thou not for that which hath befallen Thee, neither be Thou afraid, for Thou art in safety. Ere long will God raise up the treasures of the earth­­—men who will aid Thee through Thyself and through Thy Name, wherewith God hath revived the hearts of such as have recognized Him.'" In another passage He describes, briefly and graphically, the impact of the onrushing force of the Divine Summons upon His entire being—an experience vividly recalling the vision of God that caused Moses to fall in a swoon, and the voice of Gabriel which plunged Muhammad into such consternation that, hurrying to the shelter of His home, He bade His wife, Khadijih, envelop Him in His mantle. "During the days I lay in the prison of Tihran," are His own memorable words, "though the galling weight of the chains and the stench-filled air allowed Me but little sleep, still in those infrequent moments of slumber I felt as if something flowed from the crown of My head over My breast, even as a mighty torrent that precipitateth itself upon the earth from the summit of a lofty mountain. Every limb of My body would, as a result, be set afire. At such moments My tongue recited what no man could bear to hear."

(Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 101) [Emphasis added.] (See also Baha'u'llah, The Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, pp. 21-22)

The Guardian unmistakably affirmed that Baha'u'llah received this seminal Revelation in a dream:
His imprisonment lasted for a period of no less than four months, in the middle of which the "year nine" (1269) [A.H., which was 1852 C.E.] …was ushered in, endowing with undreamt-of potentialities the whole world...
Now that He had been invested, in consequence of that potent dream, with the power and sovereign authority associated with His Divine mission...
(Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 104) [Emphasis added.]

There are many fascinating accounts of dreams and their association with events and important figures in the evolution of the Baha’i Faith. [5]

Signs of Another Life

Baha'u'llah made statements as to the greater significances of dreaming:
God, the Exalted, hath placed these signs in men, to the end that philosophers may not deny the mysteries of the life beyond nor belittle that which hath been promised them.

(Baha'u'llah, The Seven Valleys, p. 33)

...Luqman, [Aesop] who had drunk from the wellspring of wisdom and tasted of the waters of mercy, in proving to his son Nathan the planes of resurrection and death, advanced the dream as an evidence and an example.

(Baha'u'llah, The Seven Valleys, pp. 34-35)
In like manner, this world [the “dream state”] denoteth the place of gathering and resurrection after death, for as Luqmān [Aesop] hath said to his son: ‘If thou art able to sleep, thou art able to die; and if thou art able to waken after sleep, thou art able to rise after death.’ Just as death is a reality, so is the world of the dream; and just as there is waking after sleep, there is rising after death.
(From a Tablet of Baha’u’llah, Layālī al-Hikmat, vol. 2, pp. 65–66 in Amr va Khalq, vol. 1, compiled by Fadil-i-Mazindarani, Tihran 1954-55. Provisional translation by Keven Brown.)

Baha’u’llah was asked questions pertaining to the Islamic principle of haqqu’n-nas, (‘the right of the people’), which asserts that in the next world souls will receive compensation for the debts owed to them. As part of His response, Baha’u’llah wrote:
Whenever We purpose to explain this theme and expound upon the nature of the manifestations of things in the innumerable worlds, We make statements and give analogies that are easy to understand and comprehend. And there is no analogy more befitting than the dream world that We can set forth. The dream state is said to be the brother of death, inasmuch as recognizing a brother is by the likeness of the brother. Consider how in the world of vision thou beholdest certain things, and later while awake in this world, thou dost interpret and explain them by resorting to other names, forms, and characterizations. Then after a lapse of time, the same things thou didst interpret and explain are witnessed.
Therefore, O my brother, whenever thou art dreaming and behold such a thing in the world of vision, it will have another name and characterization there different from that which it hath here. Recognize, then, that this same disparity in forms applieth to the world after death. And know of a certainty that while the reality and the essence are one, the form and the characterization will vary.
Baha’u’llah then goes on to give the example, familiar to the inquirer, of the story of Joseph’s dream and its interpretation related in the Surih of Joseph in the Qur’an, 12:4, (it is also found in the Bible in the Book of Genesis, 37:9):
Now reflect. What kind of world is that wherein His father and mother are seen as the sun and the moon, and His brothers appear in the form of stars? And what is this world wherein the inverse is seen: the sun and the moon in the form of His father and mother, and the stars in the form of His brothers? He saith, exalted be His sovereignty, “I saw eleven stars, and the sun and the moon; I saw them bowing down before me.” The interpretation of this vision became clear once Joseph was established upon the throne of glory, and Jacob and Joseph’s eleven brothers prostrated themselves at His feet.
Now, since this question hath become established and ascertained, it is evident that the requital of every due taketh place in every world in a form befitting that world. Otherwise, assuredly the administration of justice could not be fulfilled.
(Baha’u’llah, Lawh-i Haqqu’n-Nas, ‘Tablet of the Right of the People.’ Provisional translation by Keven Brown) [6]

The Bab had made similar associations, referring to the phenomena of dreams as evidence of the afterlife, and as an illustration of how different the afterlife is from this mortal life. At the same time it appears He is explaining how dreams followed by awakening parallels the relationship of this temporal life to worlds hereafter:
Verily, God hath created the dream state in His servants that they may be assured of the existence of the worlds hereafter and the life everlasting. The life of this world and its changes and chances, after death, are even as a dream that one seeth; once the dreamer hath arisen, he will see only the effect (athar) of its interpretation.
(From a Tablet of the Bab, Amr va Khalq, vol. 1, part 3, p.323 compiled by Fadil-i-Mazindarani, Tihran 1954-55. Provisional translation by Keven Brown.)
Dreams are personal illustrations showing each one of us that we are more than merely our tangible, material life:
...reflect upon the perfection of man's creation, and that all these planes and states are folded up and hidden away within him.
"Dost thou reckon thyself only a puny form
When within thee the universe is folded?"*
(Baha'u'llah, The Seven Valleys, p. 34) [*Here Baha'u'llah quotes Jalalu'd-Din Rumi (1207-1273 C.E.).]

Baha'u'llah would have us contemplate the implications of the transcendental nature of dreaming:

        Observe, how thou art asleep in a dwelling, and its doors are barred; on a sudden thou findest thyself in a far-off city, which thou enterest without moving thy feet or wearying thy body; without using thine eyes, thou seest; without taxing thine ears, thou hearest; without a tongue, thou speakest. And perchance when ten years are gone, thou wilt witness in the outer world the very things thou hast dreamed tonight.

         Now there are many wisdoms to ponder in the dream, which none but the people of this Valley can comprehend in their true elements. First, what is this world, where without eye and ear and hand and tongue a man puts all of these to use? Second, how is it that in the outer world thou seest today the effect of a dream, when thou didst vision it in the world of sleep some ten years past?
[7] Consider the difference between these two worlds and the mysteries which they conceal, that thou mayest attain to divine confirmations and heavenly discoveries and enter the regions of holiness.

(Baha'u'llah, The Seven Valleys, pp. 32-33)

Photo © Baha’i International Community

          Behold how the thing which thou hast seen in thy dream is, after a considerable lapse of time, fully realized. Had the world in which thou didst find thyself in thy dream been identical with the world in which thou livest, it would have been necessary for the event occurring in that dream to have transpired in this world at the very moment of its occurrence. Were it so, you yourself would have borne witness unto it. This being not the case, however, it must necessarily follow that the world in which thou livest is different and apart from that which thou hast experienced in thy dream. This latter world hath neither beginning nor end. It would be true if thou wert to contend that this same world is, as decreed by the All-Glorious and Almighty God, within thy proper self and is wrapped up within thee. It would equally be true to maintain that thy spirit, having transcended the limitations of sleep and having stripped itself of all earthly attachment, hath, by the act of God, been made to traverse a realm which lieth hidden in the innermost reality of this world. Verily I say, the creation of God embraceth worlds besides this world, and creatures apart from these creatures. In each of these worlds He hath ordained things which none can search except Himself, the All-Searching, the All-Wise. Do thou meditate on that which We have revealed unto thee, that thou mayest discover the purpose of God, thy Lord, and the Lord of all worlds. In these words the mysteries of Divine Wisdom have been treasured.

Tablets of Baha'u'llah, pp. 187-188)

            Verily I say, the human soul is exalted above all egress and regress. It is still, and yet it soareth; it moveth, and yet it is still. It is, in itself, a testimony that beareth witness to the existence of a world that is contingent, as well as to the reality of a world that hath neither beginning nor end. Behold how the dream thou hast dreamed is, after the lapse of many years, re-enacted before thine eyes. Consider how strange is the mystery of the world that appeareth to thee in thy dream. Ponder in thine heart upon the unsearchable wisdom of God, and meditate on its manifold revelations....

    (Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, pp. 161-62)

Abdu'l-Baha elaborated upon the dream as a "mode of the spirit's influence and action without...bodily instruments and organs."

For example, in the state of sleep, it sees without eyes, it hears without ears, it speaks without a tongue, it runs without feet--in brief, all these powers are exerted without the mediation of instruments and organs. How often it happens that the spirit has a dream in the realm of sleep whose purport comes to be exactly materialized two years hence! Likewise, how often it happens that in the world of dreams the spirit solves a problem that it could not solve in the realm of wakefulness. Awake, the eye sees only a short distance, but in the realm of dreams one who is in the East may see the West. Awake, he sees only the present; in sleep he beholds the future. Awake, by the fastest means he travels at most seventy miles in an hour; in sleep he traverses the East and West in the blink of an eye. For the spirit has two modes of travel: without means, or  spiritual travel, and with means, or material travel--as birds that fly, or as being carried in a vehicle.

While asleep, this physical body is as dead: It neither sees, nor hears, nor feels, and it has neither consciousness nor perception—its powers are suspended. Yet the spirit is not only alive and enduring but also exerts a greater influence, soars to loftier heights, and possesses a deeper understanding.

(Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, 61.3-4, pp. 261-62)

This example was presented by Abdu'l-Baha in a discourse upon the immortality of the spirit.
It is noteworthy that later, on no less than five occasions during His 1912 trip to North America, ­in recorded talks delivered in Boston; Green Acre; Montreal; Washington, D.C.; and New York City, Abdu'l-Baha presented the world of dreams as evidence of the reality and immortality of the spirit.

(See Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 243, 259, 306-307, 416, 464.)

“Among all the worldly bounties…”
Here is part of a brief overview given by Abdu’l-Baha on the phenomena of dreaming:
Among all the worldly bounties, none is more wonderful than the dream. In this state the human spirit is able to release itself in such a way that the contingent phenomena become cut away. The ability of the human spirit to free itself, however, is dependent upon a heart that is sanctified and pure. If the heart of man has not attained this state, it will become very fearful in the world of the dream, and things will appear distorted in its view. This is because his heart is not sanctified and pure. But if the heart becomes purified, in the dream man is freed. If he is in a prison, he will see himself in a rose garden; if he is under the weight of chains, he will see himself seated upon a throne. Indeed, he will be unaware of any bodily sensations. But if he has vain thoughts in his mind, his dream journey will not be wondrous.
How often it happens that man ponders a question in wakefulness, but he is unable to solve it. Then, in the world of the dream, it happens that the answer is discovered. Frequently such a dream is a true dream, inasmuch as that which is seen becomes manifested to the outer eye, requiring no interpretation.
There are three kinds of dreams. One is a true vision, which is even as the morning light and has no need of interpretation. Exactly what is seen, the same thing occurs. But most people, generally, do not receive this kind of dream. In the period of every person’s life it may chance to happen that one’s heart and mind are free and clear of false suppositions. Then whatever the spirit discovers conforms to the reflection obtained. This is a true vision and needs no interpretation; it is reality.
The second kind of dream is that requiring interpretation, because the mind or the heart of the dreamer possesses false suppositions. When a spiritual journey is attained, it must be interpreted and false thoughts must be separated from spiritual discoveries. The soul is even as a fine white fabric. Any color that you add to it, it will receive, and this is real. However, if a color other than white is in the fabric, and you add a color, this is unreal. For example, if a yellowish color is in the fabric and you give it blue, it will become green. Then it is necessary to separate out the yellow until the blue is displayed. This is interpretation.
Another kind of dream is the confused dream. For example, during the day a man becomes engaged in a quarrel and dispute. Later, in the world of the dream, these same circumstances appear to him. This is a confused dream. It has no interpretation and contains no discoveries. Before the person dreamed, he was overcome with delusions. It is clear that this kind of dream bears no interpretation and is confused.
(From a talk of Abdu'l-Baha to pilgrims dated August 8, 1919, Amr va Khalq, Vol. 1, compiled by Fadil-i-Mazindarani, Tihran 1954-55. Provisional translation by Keven Brown.)

"... communications are registered.."

In a Tablet addressed to an individual, Baha’u’llah made this statement that shatters materialistic conceptions, (whether "sleep" here is regarded as literal or metaphorical):
O servant of God! We revealed Ourself to thee once in thy sleep, but thou didst remain unaware. Remember now, that thou mayest perceive and hasten with heart and soul to the placeless Friend.

(Baha’u’llah, The Tabernacle of Unity, p. 75)

In one of His North American addresses, Abdu'l-Baha gave us a delightful example of a dream providing inspiration—this is His prelude to a talk He delivered at a home in New York City on June 15, 1912:

I have made you wait awhile, but as I was tired, I slept. While I was sleeping, I was conversing with you as though speaking at the top of my voice. Then through the effect of my own voice I awoke. As I awoke, one word was upon my lips—the word imtiyaz ("distinction"). So I will speak to you upon that subject this morning.

(Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 189)

Earlier in His sojourn to the West, in
London, Abdu'l-Baha is reported to have spoken of the time of sleep, (as well as the condition of receptivity which can be experienced during prayer), as a condition when one can receive inspirational help from those who have passed on to the next world:

Those who have ascended have different attributes from those who are still on earth, yet there is no real separation.

...When you do not know it, and are in a receptive attitude, they are able to make suggestions to you, if you are in difficulty. This sometimes happens in sleep. But there is no phenomenal intercourse! That which seems like phenomenal intercourse has another explanation." The questioner exclaimed; "But I have heard a voice!" Abdu'l-Baha said: "Yes, that is possible; we hear voices clearly in dreams. It is not with the physical ear that you heard; the spirit of those that have passed on are freed from sense-life, and do not use physical means. It is not possible to put these great matters into human words; the language of man is the language of children, and man's explanation often leads astray."

(Abdu'l-Baha in London, p. 96)

In a tablet addressed to an individual, Abdu'l-Baha explained:
When man's soul is rarified and cleansed, spiritual links are established, and from these bonds sensations felt by the heart are produced. The human heart resembleth a mirror. When this is purified human hearts are attuned and reflect one another, and thus spiritual emotions are generated. This is like the world of dreams when man is detached from things which are tangible and experienceth those of the spirit. What amazing laws operate, and what remarkable discoveries are made! And it may even be that detailed communications are registered...

(Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 108)

Notes for Part 1

[1] Dement, William C., Some Must Watch While Some Must Sleep, especially pages 24, 30, 35, The Portable Stanford, published by the Stanford Alumni Association Stanford, CA, 1972

[2] Murchie, Guy, The Seven Mysteries of Life: An Exploration in Science and Philosophy, Houghton Mifflin Company,
Boston, 1978, pp. 297-2­98

“As to what thou hast asked regarding the dream, think of the dream state as being like the state of being awake. How often two souls meet and converse with one another, and one later remembers (what was said), while the other completely forgets. The world of the dream is also like this, and the reason for our forgetfulness is because the dream has not been properly preserved in the depository of the memory.”

(From a Tablet of Abdu’l-Baha, Amr va Khalq, Vol. 1, compiled by Fadil-i-Mazindarani, Tihran 1954-55. Provisional translation by Keven Brown.)
Warmest appreciation and a debt of gratitude go to Baha'i scholar Keven Brown for sharing, some twenty-one or so years ago, (and for recently renewing permission for its use and reviewing and updating the material), his unpublished compilation, "The State When Asleep and Dreams: Their Interpretation and Wisdom." The several excerpts taken from that compilation, consisting of Keven's provisional translations of passages from Amr va Khalq, vol. 1, are a key component herein. Additionally, he has recently provided another important element quoted in this article, his provisional translation of Lawh-i Haqqu’n-Nas, and given me invaluable encouragement.

[4] In his book The Purpose of Physical Reality, the Kingdom of Names, pp. 98-99, John Hatcher discusses this passage of prayer, exploring it as a metaphor for spiritual awaken­ing. However, his interpretation does not invalidate the literal application to dreaming while physically sleeping, then awakening, as Dr. Hatcher acknowledged.
[5] A strong sampling of these can be found in a 166-page compilation published, (self published?), in 1992 by the late Elias Zohoori: A Wondrous World, A Collection of Baha’i Sacred Writings and Accounts of Dreams and Visions from Baha’i History.
It is the intent of this current writer to post online an Appendix to this current article, summarizing more such accounts of notable dreams and related events that have been experienced by Baha’is.

[6] See for the complete text of a different provisional translation, by Dr. Mehran Ghasempour, of this fascinating Tablet, Lawh-i Haqqu’n-Nas, and also for “An Introduction to the Lawh-i Haqqu’n-Nas,” by Jean-Marc Lepain, as well as another article, “Dreams and their Interpretation in the Baha’i Religion: Some Preliminary Remarks,” by Dr. Necati Alkan.

[7] Dreams appear to provide a plausible explanation for the phenomena of deja-vu, the eerie sensation that one has “been here before.”