The Kitáb-i-Aqdas - The Most Holy Book
Index term: Allegory
n2.
We have unsealed the choice Wine with the fingers of might and power.
The consumption of wine and other intoxicants is prohibited in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas (see notes 144 and 170).
Reference to the use of "wine" in an allegorical sense -- such as being the cause of spiritual ecstasy -- is found, not only in the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, but in the Bible, in the Qur'án, and in ancient Hindu traditions.
For example, in the Qur'án the righteous are promised that they will be given to drink of the "choice sealed wine". In His Tablets, Bahá'u'lláh identifies the "choice Wine" with His Revelation whose "musk-laden fragrance" has been wafted "upon all created things". He states that He has "unsealed" this "Wine", thereby disclosing spiritual truths that were hitherto unknown, and enabling those who quaff thereof to "discern the splendours of the light of divine unity" and to "grasp the essential purpose underlying the Scriptures of God". In one of His meditations, Bahá'u'lláh entreats God to supply the believers with "the choice Wine of Thy mercy, that it may cause them to be forgetful of any one except Thee, and to arise to serve Thy Cause, and to be steadfast in their love for Thee".
n121.
O banks of the Rhine!
In one of His Tablets written before the First World War (1914-1918), 'Abdu'l-Bahá explained that Bahá'u'lláh's reference to having seen the banks of the Rhine "covered with gore" related to the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871), and that there was more suffering to come.
In God Passes By Shoghi Effendi states that the "oppressively severe treaty" that was imposed on Germany following its defeat in the First World War "provoked 'the lamentations of Berlin' which half a century before, had been ominously prophesied".
n127.
crimson Spot
This is a reference to the prison-city of 'Akká. In the Bahá'í Writings the word "crimson" is used in several allegorical and symbolic senses. (See also note 115.)
n130.
Whoso interpreteth what hath been sent down from the heaven of Revelation, and altereth its evident meaning
In several of His Tablets, Bahá'u'lláh affirms the distinction between allegorical verses, which are susceptible to interpretation, and those verses that relate to such subjects as the laws and ordinances, worship and religious observances, whose meanings are evident and which demand compliance on the part of the believers.
As explained in notes 145 and 184, Bahá'u'lláh designated 'Abdu'l-Bahá, His eldest Son, as His Successor and the Interpreter of His Teachings. 'Abdu'l-Bahá in His turn appointed His eldest grandson, Shoghi Effendi, to succeed Him as interpreter of the holy Writ and Guardian of the Cause. The interpretations of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi are considered divinely guided and are binding on the Bahá'ís.
The existence of authoritative interpretations does not preclude the individual from engaging in the study of the Teachings and thereby arriving at a personal interpretation or understanding. A clear distinction is, however, drawn in the Bahá'í Writings between authoritative interpretation and the understanding that each individual arrives at from a study of its Teachings. Individual interpretations based on a person's understanding of the Teachings constitute the fruit of man's rational power and may well contribute to a greater comprehension of the Faith. Such views, nevertheless, lack authority. In presenting their personal ideas, individuals are cautioned not to discard the authority of the revealed words, not to deny or contend with the authoritative interpretation, and not to engage in controversy; rather they should offer their thoughts as a contribution to knowledge, making it clear that their views are merely their own.