The years following Baha’u’llah’s arrival in Adrianople witnessed His Revelation’s attainment, in the words of Shoghi Effendi, of “its meridian glory” through the proclamation of its Founder’s message to the kings and rulers of the world. During this relatively brief but turbulent period of the Faith’s history, and in the early years of His subsequent exile in 1868 to the fortress town of ’Akka, He summoned the monarchs of East and West collectively, and some among them individually, to recognize the Day of God and to acknowledge the One promised in the scriptures of the religions professed by the recipients of His summons. “Never since the beginning of the world”, Baha’u’llah declares, “hath the Message been so openly proclaimed.”
The present volume brings together the first full, authorized English translation of these major writings. Among them is the complete Suriy-i-Haykal, the Surih of the Temple, one of Baha’u’llah’s most challenging works. It was originally revealed during His banishment to Adrianople and later recast after His arrival in ’Akka. In this version He incorporated His messages addressed to individual potentates—Pope Pius IX, Napoleon III, Czar Alexander II, Queen Victoria, and Nasiri’d-Din Shah.
It was this composite work which, shortly after its completion, Baha’u’llah instructed be written in the form of a pentacle, symbolizing the human temple. To it He added, as a conclusion, what Shoghi Effendi has described as “words which reveal the importance He attached to those Messages, and indicate their direct association with the prophecies of the Old Testament”:
Thus have We built the Temple with the hands of power and might, could ye but know it. This is the Temple promised unto you in the Book. Draw ye nigh unto it. This is that which profiteth you, could ye but comprehend it. Be fair, O peoples of the earth! Which is preferable, this, or a temple which is built of clay? Set your faces towards it. Thus have ye been commanded by God, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting.
During the last years of His ministry Baha’u’llah Himself arranged for the publication for the first time of definitive versions of some of His principal works, and the Suriy-i-Haykal was awarded a prominent position among them.
Of the various writings that make up the Suriy-i-Haykal, one requires particular mention. The Lawh-i-Sultan, the Tablet to Nasiri’d-Din Shah, Baha’u’llah’s lengthiest epistle to any single sovereign, was revealed in the weeks immediately preceding His final banishment to ’Akka. It was eventually delivered to the monarch by Badi’, a youth of seventeen, who had entreated Baha’u’llah for the honour of rendering some service. His efforts won him the crown of martyrdom and immortalized his name. The Tablet contains the celebrated passage describing the circumstances in which the divine call was communicated to Baha’u’llah and the effect it produced. Here, too, we find His unequivocal offer to meet with the Muslim clergy, in the presence of the Shah, and to provide whatever proofs of the new Revelation they might consider to be definitive, a test of spiritual integrity significantly failed by those who claimed to be the authoritative trustees of the message of the Qur’an.