The Kitáb-i-Aqdas - The Most Holy Book
Index term: Constantinople (Istanbul)
O people of Constantinople! Lo, from your midst We hear the baleful hooting of the owl. Hath the drunkenness of passion laid hold upon you, or is it that ye are sunk in heedlessness? O Spot that art situate on the shores of the two seas! The throne of tyranny hath, verily, been established upon thee, and the flame of hatred hath been kindled within thy bosom, in such wise that the Concourse on high and they who circle around the Exalted Throne have wailed and lamented. We behold in thee the foolish ruling over the wise, and darkness vaunting itself against the light. Thou art indeed filled with manifest pride. Hath thine outward splendour made thee vainglorious? By Him Who is the Lord of mankind! It shall soon perish, and thy daughters and thy widows and all the kindreds that dwell within thee shall lament. Thus informeth thee the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.
first day of Ridván
This is a reference to the arrival of Bahá'u'lláh and His companions in the Najíbíyyih Garden outside the city of Baghdád, subsequently referred to by the Bahá'ís as the Garden of Ridván. This event, which took place thirty-one days after Naw-Rúz, in April 1863, signalized the commencement of the period during which Bahá'u'lláh declared His Mission to His companions. In a Tablet, He refers to His Declaration as "the Day of supreme felicity" and He describes the Garden of Ridván as "the Spot from which He shed upon the whole of creation the splendours of His Name, the All-Merciful". Bahá'u'lláh spent twelve days in this Garden prior to departing for Istanbul, the place to which He had been banished.
The Declaration of Bahá'u'lláh is celebrated annually by the twelve-day Ridván Festival, described by Shoghi Effendi as "the holiest and most significant of all Bahá'í festivals" (see notes 138 and 140).
O people of Constantinople!
The word here translated as "Constantinople" is, in the original, "Ar-Rúm" or "Rome". This term has generally been used in the Middle East to designate Constantinople and the Eastern Roman Empire, then the city of Byzantium and its empire, and later the Ottoman Empire.
O Spot that art situate on the shores of the two seas!
This is a reference to Constantinople, now called Istanbul. Located on the Bosphorus, a strait about 31 kilometres long which links the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara, it is the largest city and seaport of Turkey.
Constantinople was the capital of the Ottoman Empire from 1453 until 1922. During Bahá'u'lláh's sojourn in this city, the tyrannical Sultán 'Abdu'l-'Azíz occupied the throne. The Ottoman Sultans were also the Caliphs, the leaders of Sunní Islám. Bahá'u'lláh anticipated the fall of the Caliphate, which was abolished in 1924.
Call ye to mind the shaykh whose name was Muhammad-Hasan
Shaykh Muhammad-Hasan, one of the leading exponents of Shí'ih Islám, rejected the Báb. The author of voluminous writings on Shí'ih jurisprudence, he is reported to have died around 1850.
Nabíl, in The Dawn-Breakers, describes the encounter that took place in Najaf between Mullá 'Alíy-i-Bastámí, one of the Letters of the Living, and Shaykh Muhammad-Hasan. During the meeting, Mullá 'Alí announced the manifestation of the Báb and extolled the potency of His Revelation. At the instigation of the shaykh, Mullá 'Alí was forthwith pronounced a heretic and expelled from the assembly. He was put on trial, transported to Istanbul, and condemned to hard labour.