Baha'i Faith

The Covenant

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Overview
A Compilation Prepared by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice
...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. 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 Bahá’u’lláh made with His followers regarding ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá perpetuated through the Administrative Order...

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

A Covenant: “...a binding agreement between God and man...”

The first duty prescribed by God for His servants is the recognition of Him Who is the Day Spring of His Revelation and the Fountain of His laws, Who representeth the Godhead in both the Kingdom of His Cause and the world of creation. Whoso achieveth this duty hath attained unto all good.... It behoveth every one who reacheth this most sublime station, this summit of transcendent glory, to observe every ordinance of Him Who is the Desire of the world. These twin duties are inseparable. Neither is acceptable without the other....

They whom God hath endued with insight will readily recognize that the precepts laid down by God constitute the highest means for the maintenance of order in the world and the security of its peoples.... Hasten to drink your fill, O men of understanding! They that have violated the Covenant of God by breaking His commandments, and have turned back on their heels, these have erred grievously in the sight of God, the All-Possessing, the Most High.

(“Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh”, (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1982), Section CLV, pp. 330-31)

...Follow not, therefore, your earthly desires, and violate not the Covenant of God, nor break your pledge to Him. With firm determination, with the whole affection of your heart, and with the full force of your words, turn ye unto Him, and walk not in the ways of the foolish.... Break not the bond that uniteth you with your Creator, and be not of those that have erred and strayed from His ways.

(“Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh”, Section CLIII, p. 328)

Great is thy blessedness inasmuch as thou hast been faithful to the Covenant of God and His Testament.... Dedicate thyself to the service of the Cause of thy Lord, cherish His remembrance in thy heart and celebrate His praise in such wise that every wayward and heedless soul may thereby be roused from slumber.

(“Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas” (Haifa: Bahá’í World Centre, 1982), p. 262)

...ye must conduct yourselves in such a manner that ye may stand out distinguished and brilliant as the sun among other souls. Should any one of you enter a city, he should become a centre of attraction by reason of his sincerity, his faithfulness and love, his honesty and fidelity, his truthfulness and loving-kindness towards all the peoples of the world, so that the people of that city may cry out and say: “This man is unquestionably a Bahá’í, for his manners, his behaviour, his conduct, his morals, his nature, and disposition reflect the attributes of the Bahá’ís.” Not until ye attain this station can ye be said to have been faithful to the Covenant and Testament of God. For He hath, through irrefutable Texts, entered into a binding Covenant with us all, requiring us to act in accordance with His sacred instructions and counsels.

(“Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá” (Haifa: Bahá’í World Centre, 1982), sec. 35, p. 71)

“...the Greater Covenant which every Manifestation of God makes with His followers...”

The Pattern

The Lord of the universe hath never raised up a prophet nor hath He sent down a Book unless He hath established His covenant with all men, calling for their acceptance of the next Revelation and of the next Book; inasmuch as the outpourings of His bounty are ceaseless and without limit.

(“Selections from the Writings of the Báb” (Haifa: Bahá’í World Centre, 1976), p. 87)

Abraham, on Him be peace, made a covenant concerning Moses and gave the glad-tidings of His coming. Moses made a covenant concerning the promised Christ, and announced the good news of His advent to the world. Christ made a covenant concerning the Paraclete and gave the tidings of His coming. The Prophet Muḥammad made a covenant concerning the Báb, and the Báb was the One promised by Muḥammad, for Muḥammad gave the tidings of His coming. The Báb made a Covenant concerning the Blessed Beauty, Bahá’u’lláh, and gave the glad-tidings of His coming for the Blessed Beauty was the One promised by the Báb. Bahá’u’lláh made a covenant concerning a Promised One Who will become manifest after one thousand or thousands of years. That Manifestation is Bahá’u’lláh’s Promised One, and will appear after a thousand or thousands of years. He, moreover, with His Supreme Pen, entered into a great Covenant and Testament with all the Bahá’ís whereby they were all commanded to follow the Centre of the Covenant after His ascension, and depart not, even to a hair’s breadth, from obeying Him.

(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, cf. “Bahá’í World Faith” (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1976), p. 358)

The Advent of Bahá’u’lláh

This is the Day, O my Lord, which Thou didst announce unto all mankind as the Day whereon Thou wouldst reveal Thy Self, and shed Thy radiance, and shine brightly over all Thy creatures. Thou hast, moreover, entered into a covenant with them, in Thy Books, and Thy Scriptures, and Thy Scrolls, and Thy Tablets, concerning Him Who is the Day-Spring of Thy Revelation, and hast appointed the Bayán to be the Herald of this Most Great and all-glorious Manifestation, and this most resplendent and most sublime Appearance.

(“Prayers and Meditations by Bahá’u’lláh” (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979), p. 275)

The Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh concerning the next Manifestation

Verily God will raise up Him Whom God shall make manifest, and after Him Whomsoever He willeth, even as He hath raised up prophets before the Point of the Bayán. He in truth hath power over all things.

(“Selections from the Writings of the Báb”, p. 144)

Whoso layeth claim to a Revelation direct from God ... ere the expiration of a full thousand years, such a man is assuredly a lying imposter.... Should a man appear ... ere the lapse of a full thousand years—each year consisting of twelve months according to the Qur’án, and of nineteen months of nine-teen days each, according to the Bayán—and if such a man reveal to your eyes all the signs of God, unhesitatingly reject him!

(Bahá’u’lláh, cited in “The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh - Selected Letters”, (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1974), p. 132)

Centuries, ... nay, countless ages, must pass away ere the Day-Star of Truth shineth again in its midsummer splendour, or appeareth once more in the radiance of its vernal glory.... Concerning the Manifestations that will come down in the future “in the shadows of the clouds,” ... know, verily, that in so far as their relation to the Source of their inspiration is concerned, they are under the shadow of the Ancient Beauty. In their relation, however, to the age in which they appear, each and every one of them “doeth whatsoever He willeth.”

(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, cited in “The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh - Selected Letters”, p. 167)