. . . he who breaks the Covenant is cursed by heaven and earth.
. . . he who breaks the Covenant is cursed by heaven and earth.
Again He says: "Say, O my friend and my pure ones! Listen to the Voice of this Beloved Prisoner in this Great Prison. If you detect in any man the least perceptible breath of violation, shun him and keep away from him." Then He says: "Verily, they are manifestations of Satan."
And as they lost their cause, grew hopeless in their efforts against the loved ones of God, saw the Standard of His Testament waving throughout all regions and witnessed the power of the Covenant of the Merciful One, the flame of envy so blazed within them as to be beyond recounting. With the utmost vigor, exertion, rancor and enmity, they followed another path, walked in another way, devised another plan . . . .
In another address, He says: "Therefore, to avoid these people will be the nearest path by which to attain the divine good pleasure; because their breath is infectious, like unto poison."
In another Tablet, He says: "And turn your faces to the Great Countenance for before long the foul odors of the wicked persons will pass over these regions. God willing, you may remain protected during these days."
In like manner, the focal Center of Hate, hath purposed to put ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to death and this is supported by the testimony written by Mirza Shu'a'u'llah himself and is here enclosed. It is evident and indisputable that they are privily and with the utmost subtlety engaged in conspiring against me. The following are his very words written by him in this letter: -- "I curse at every moment him that hath kindled this discord, imprecate in these words 'Lord! have no mercy upon him' and I hope ere long God will make manifest the one that shall have no pity on him, who now weareth another garb and about whom I cannot any more explain."
Gradually and with unyielding persistence, through lies, half-truths, calumnies and gross exaggerations, this "Prime Mover of sedition" succeeded in ranging on his side almost the entire family of Bahá’u’lláh, as well as a considerable number of those who had formed his immediate entourage. Bahá’u’lláh's two surviving wives, His two sons, the vacillating Mirza Diya'u'llah and the treacherous Mirza Badi'u'llah, with their sister and half-sister and their husbands, one of them the infamous Siyyid Ali, a kinsman of the Báb, the other the crafty Mirza Majdi'd-Din, together with his sister and half-brothers -- the children of the noble, the faithful and now deceased Aqay-i-Kalim -- all united in a determined effort to subvert the foundations of the Covenant which the newly proclaimed Will had laid. Even Mirza Aqa Jan, who for forty years had labored as Bahá’u’lláh's amanuensis, as well as Muhammad-Javad-i-Qasvini, who ever since the days of Adrianople, had been engaged in transcribing the innumerable Tablets revealed by the Supreme Pen, together with his entire family, threw in their lot with the Covenant-breakers, and allowed themselves to be ensnared by their machinations.
It is a pity that some of the Western friends, with remarkable naivete, do not grasp the fact that there is absolutely nothing keeping those who have broken the Covenant, whether Bahá’u’lláh's or the Master's, out of the Cause of God except their own inner spiritually sick condition. If they were sound, instead of diseased, and wanted to enter the service of our Faith, they would apply direct to the Guardian, and he would be able to adjudge of their sincerity and, if sincere, would welcome them into the ranks of the faithful as he did with Sydney Sprague. Unfortunately a man who is ill is not made well just by asserting there is nothing wrong with him! Facts, actual states, are what count. Probably no group of people in the world have softer tongues, or proclaim more loudly their innocence, then those who in their heart of hearts, and by their every act, are enemies of the Center of the Covenant. The Master well knew this, and that is why He said we must shun their company, but pray for them.
The Guardian feels that one of the best antidotes to those - Sohrab or others - who seek to undermine the faith of the believers, especially by harping on the subject of excommunication, is to place in their hands a German edition of "God Passes By". For in that book he (the Guardian) has clearly pointed out that the Cause of God has always been attacked from within, and that, beginning in the days of the Báb, the "Sea of Truth" has over and over cast out its spiritually dead. It must do this, even as the body seeks to rid itself of poisons so as to preserve the health of the entire organism.
An analogous situation arises when a person who is engaged in some activity which he suspects would result in his being declared a Covenant-breaker withdraws from the Faith under the impression that this step would prevent such an outcome. The Universal House of Justice may conclude that the withdrawal provides adequate protection of the community from the individual in question. However, if he persists, following his withdrawal, in trying to undermine the Covenant or joins forces with Covenant-breakers, he may be judged to have broken the Covenant, and the friends would be told to have no association with him. Each such case would be considered in the context of its specific circumstances.
There is one other condition which should be mentioned. There are certain former Bahá’ís whose actions do not necessarily constitute Covenant-breaking, but are seriously destructive. Where such people have shown that they are impervious to explanations or exhortations from the Bahá’í institutions, continued association with them can be burdensome and can exert a spiritually corrosive effect on the faith of believers. In such cases the Head of the Faith may simply advise the Bahá’ís to leave them to their own devices.
A believer who recognizes Bahá’u’lláh as the Manifestation of God for this age will wholeheartedly obey His teachings and commandments. One of these commandments is to turn to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as the Centre of the Covenant, to be submissive to Him and abide by His bidding. The same is true in relation to Shoghi Effendi and the Universal House of Justice. A true believer, therefore, is one who believes in Bahá’u’lláh and follows those upon whom He has placed the mantle of authority. A Covenant-breaker is one who, while professing to believe in Bahá’u’lláh, arises in active opposition to Him or to the Centre of the Covenant, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, or to Shoghi Effendi or today to the Universal House of Justice.
Covenant-breaking is a spiritual disease and those who are affected by it are victims of their own selfish ambitions. It is only through a real awakening of the soul and recognizing one's transgressions against God that a Covenant-breaker can find the urge to repent, and when the repentant is sincere, God will forgive his past and restore his spiritual health. Indeed, there were a number of Covenant-breakers who were forgiven in this way by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi.
Ever since the opposition of the younger brother of Bahá’u’lláh, Mirza Yahya, the poison of Covenant-breaking, which is opposition to the Centre of the Covenant, entered the Faith and remained. It is difficult for those who have neither experienced what this disease is, nor devoted any consideration to the subject, to grasp the reality of the power for destruction it possesses. All the members of the family of Bahá’u’lláh grew up in the shadow of Covenant-breaking. The storms, separations, reconciliations, final sundering of ties, which are involved when a close, distinguished and often dear relative is dying spiritually of a spiritual disease, are inconceivable to one who has not experienced them... It looks simple on paper. But when year after year a house is torn by heart-breaking emotions, shaken by scenes that leave one's brain numb, one's nerves decimated and one's feelings in a turmoil, it is not simple, it is just plain hell. Before a patient lies on the operating table and the offending part is removed there is a long process of delay, of therapeutic effort to remedy the disease, of hope for recovery. So it is with Covenant-breaking; the taint is detected; warning, remonstrance, advice follow; it seems better; it breaks out again, worse than before; convulsive situations arise -- repentance, forgiveness follow -- and then all over again, the same thing, worse than before, recommences. With infinite variations this is what took place in the lifetimes of Bahá’u’lláh, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi.
In the Tablet of the Holy Mariner, whose main theme is the Covenant, Bahá’u’lláh confirms that should man desire to rise to that level which is beyond him and is solely ordained for God's Chosen Ones, he will be cast out from the realms on high.
It is important to note that should a Covenant-breaker recognize his mistakes, become conscious of his transgressions against the Cause of God and find the urge to repent, the Centre of the Cause, when satisfied he is sincerely repentant, will forgive his past deeds and restore his credibility and status as a Bahá’í in good standing in the community.
Many people are puzzled by the fact that almost the entire family of Bahá’u’lláh defected. Why is it that those who were nearest to Him, who were members of His household, His sons and daughters, should be foremost among the violators of His Covenant? In normal circumstances, when a person attains a prominent position in the community, it is often the family members who rally around him and lend their whole-hearted support. But in the case of Bahá’u’lláh it was the reverse and a similar situation was created within the family of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá after His passing. To appreciate the reasons for this, we observe once again that the proper attitude of a believer towards the Manifestation of God should be a true demonstration of servitude, self-effacement and complete obedience. Whenever these qualities are absent, a barrier will be created between man and God. In such a case the believer may be associating with the Manifestation of God in person, yet because of this barrier he will not be able to appreciate His glory or become enchanted with His Revelation.
Never before has a Manifestation of God created the instrument whereby the breakers of His Covenant, those who oppose the Centre of the Cause from within the community, are cast out. This is one of the unique features of the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh, providing a means by which the Cause of God is purged from impurities.
One might, by way of analogy, compare such believers to those who, with no knowledge of mathematics, hear an eminent mathematician expound his theories. They can see him in no other light than that of an ordinary human being whose words are incomprehensible to them. They judge the scientist by their own standards and consequently remain unmoved by his intellectual powers. The closer they are to him, the better they can see his human nature, which acts as a barrier and hides his greatness from them. Only those who understand mathematics can appreciate the real genius of the scientist. In their view, his scientific knowledge outweighs his human characteristics and therefore they do not focus their attention on his outward appearance and human limitations. This analogy sheds light on the Covenant-breaking by most of the members of Bahá’u’lláh's family and on the reasons for their unfaithfulness to Him. Mirza Muhammad-'Ali and his kinsfolk who followed him did not possess that spiritual quality which makes a man humble and enables him to recognize the splendours of God's Revelation in this day. Because of their ambitious nature and their lack of spirituality and self-effacement, their inner eyes were blinded -- unable to discern Bahá’u’lláh's spiritual powers. They could see Him only with their outward eyes, and because they were closest to Him they saw Him as an ordinary human being. They found Him to be, in their estimation, just a great man and nothing more. In reality, they had not recognized Bahá’u’lláh as a Manifestation of God. As long as Bahá’u’lláh was among them, they were subdued by His authority, basked in the light of His favours and were accorded honours and privileges by His followers. But after His ascension, these same family members turned their backs on Him and broke the Covenant.
One of the age-old factors which led certain believers to violate the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh was their ambition and pride in wanting to become leaders of the community and to obtain positions of importance in the Cause. The truth, however, is that the Bahá’í community has no leaders as such and those who are elected or appointed to administrative office are expected to be servants of the Cause, manifesting self-effacement, humility and detachment from the things of this world. An inherent characteristic of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh is that it does not harbour egotistical personalities. Its watchword is the servitude exemplified by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, whose supplication to God was to give Him 'to drink from the chalice of selflessness' and to make Him as 'dust' in the pathway of the loved ones of God.