European Themes in the Kitab-i-Aqdas
By Roman Bohacek
Presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #4 (English)
November 4-6, 1994.
Presented Sunday, morning
Christian Europe became involved in the Baháíí Revelation on the night when the Báb declared His mission and revealed Surat al-Mulk, the first chapter of the Qayyúm al-Asmá, to Mullá Husayn. The scope of the relationship between Europe and the Baháíí Faith expanded during the time of Bahá'u'lláh, especially when He was banished to Adrianople, bringing the Supreme Manifestation of God to the European continent.
It may be seen as a divine plan that the cycle of Bahá'u'lláh's Tablets to the Kings began in Europe and not in Asia, where it reached its consummation. After Bahá'u'lláhís Tablets to the Kings--most of whom were to Europeans--the Most Holy Book of the Baháíí Revelation was revealed. It contains several aspects which can be described as "European themes" or themes relevant to Christendom.
Two of the European Kings, William 1, the King of Germany, as well as Francis Joseph, the Emperor of Austria, were addressed by Bahá'u'lláh. Further, He also makes mention of the city of Berlin and addresses the banks of the Rhine. Bahá'u'lláh's address to the "spot that art situate on the shores of the two seas"--a reference to Constantinople which is half European and half Asian--should not be seen as irrelevant to the topic under consideration.
From the passages of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas where the above persons and places were mentioned, several theological and historic points related to issues which find their significance and application in the Baháíí revelation can be deduced. In the passage where Bahá'u'lláh addresses the "King of Berlin," He makes mention of the "Temple," a biblical theme which has been elaborated by Bahá'u'lláh in several Tablets that were most probably revealed to individuals of Christian associations. In the same passage, a reference is made to Napoleon III. In this respect, the relations between the "King of Berlin" and the "King of Paris" should be clarified in order to shed more light on the true significance of the passage in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas.
As for Francis Joseph, Bahá'u'lláh calls him "malik al-namsah," al-namsah being an arabisized word for "Nemecko" - a Slavic word which in Czech, Slovak and a couple of other Slavic languages means Germany. Bahá'u'lláhís address to Francis Joseph refers to al-MasJid al-Aqsá which is a reference to Jerusalem. It is interesting to note here that Bahá'u'lláh refers to Jerusalem by the name of a Muslim mosque which was not the object of the King's attention. The reason for this may lie in the fact that in some tablets Bahá'u'lláh refers to Himself as al-MasJid al-Aqsá, which literally means the highest or most supreme mosque. By relating this fact to the "term" Jerusalem in the Bible, very striking conclusions can be reached. In the other parts of Bahá'u'lláhís address to the King of Austria, He makes mention of four other biblical themes: the Kingdom of God, the Branch and the Root, Our Name, and the One the Christians invoke day and night.
By considering all the theological points that Bahá'u'lláh refers to in the two passages of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas we can see how He has included in His Most Holy Book fundamental issues of Christian Europe. Thus, the message of God has been symbolically delivered to all of Christendom through two European Kings who, most probably, never had any knowledge about the Kitáb-i-Aqdas or any such messages delivered to them.
In this way such themes in the Most Holy Book, which apparently have an individual and limited connotation, find a universal application.
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