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.]

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