3

Lawh-i-Hikmat

As we have stated in previous volumes, many pilgrims, mainly from Persia, travelled to the Holy Land and attained the presence of Bahá'u'lláh. Most of the well-known teachers of the Faith and His apostles had the privilege of meeting Him at least once in their lives, and there were some who had this privilege several times. One such outstanding believer was Áqá Muhammad-i-Qá'iní, entitled Nabíl-i-Akbar. He came to 'Akká around the year AH 1290 (AD 1873-4) and attained the presence of Bahá'u'lláh in the House of 'Abbúd. His first interview with Him had taken place some years before in Baghdád when He recognized the station of Bahá'u'lláh through some interesting incidents.* It was on the occasion of his pilgrimage to 'Akká that Bahá'u'lláh revealed the Lawh-i-Hikmat in his honour.†

All the Tablets revealed by Bahá'u'lláh after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas assume a special significance, which will be discussed later. This Tablet in Arabic, revealed before Bahá'u'lláh's move to Mazra'ih, stands out amongst the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh for its philosophical terminology and its references to ancient Greek philosophers, as well as profound explanations of the influence of the Word of God, the cause and origin of creation, the mysterious workings of nature, and many other weighty topics. Nabíl-i-Akbar, its recipient, was a man of great knowledge and learning. He was not only distinguished among his contem-

33

* For his life see vol. 1, pp. 91-5, and vol. 2, pp. 42-3, 341-6.

† This Tablet has been translated into English in its entirety and is published in Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 137-52.

poraries in the field of theology, but renowned throughout Persia as an accomplished philosopher whose erudition had endeared him to men of culture and high intellect before he embraced the Faith.

The following are the words of 'Abdu'l-Bahá paying tribute to this great man of God:

A sign of guidance he was, an emblem of the fear of God. For this Faith, he laid down his life, and in dying, triumphed. He passed by the world and its rewards; he closed his eyes to rank and wealth; he loosed himself from all such chains and fetters, and put every worldly thought aside. Of wide learning, at once a mujtahid, a philosopher, a mystic, and gifted with intuitive sight, he was also an accomplished man of letters and an orator without a peer. He had a great and universal mind.

Praise be to God, at the end he was made the recipient of heavenly grace. Upon him be the glory of God, the All-Glorious. May God shed the brightness of the Abhá Kingdom upon his resting-place. May God welcome him into the Paradise of reunion, and shelter him forever in the realm of the righteous, submerged in an ocean of lights.1

It is therefore not surprising that Bahá'u'lláh chose to reveal this Tablet in the language of an intellectual philosopher. In it He deplores the condition of the world and its peoples. The following words portray His ominous observations.

We exhort mankind in these days when the countenance of justice is soiled with dust, when the flames of unbelief are burning high and the robe of wisdom rent asunder, when tranquillity and faithfulness have ebbed away and trials and tribulations have waxed severe, when covenants are broken and ties are severed, when no man knoweth how to discern light and darkness or to distinguish guidance from error.2
At no time has the perversity of the human race which He describes been more evident than it is today. In many of His Tablets Bahá'u'lláh warned mankind that unless they recognized and turned to Him, world conditions would deteriorate day by
34


1. Memorials of the Faithful, pp. 4-5.

2. Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 137-8.

day. And He prophesies that the old order will be rolled up and a new one spread out in its stead. Having described some of the ills afflicting human society, Bahá'u'lláh in the Tablet of Hikmat reveals some of the choicest of His counsels which can alone deliver mankind from the abyss of ungodliness into which it has sunk so deeply.

Teachings for the Spiritualization of Humanity

Addressing the peoples of the world, Bahá'u'lláh in this Tablet sets out some of those teachings which are designed to spiritualize the human race and usher in an age in which nobility of character and the acquisition of divine virtues will become the main aim of life for the individual.

O peoples of the world! Forsake all evil, hold fast that which is good. Strive to be shining examples unto all mankind, and true reminders of the virtues of God amidst men. He that riseth to serve My Cause should manifest My wisdom, and bend every effort to banish ignorance from the earth. Be united in counsel, be one in thought. Let each morn be better than its eve and each morrow richer than its yesterday. Man's merit lieth in service and virtue and not in the pageantry of wealth and riches.3
To 'forsake all evil' and become 'shining examples' are not possible to achieve simply by trying. To reach this exalted goal the heart must be touched by the love of God, and this is not possible until the individual recognizes His Manifestation for today and becomes assured of the truth of His Mission. It is then that his strivings to acquire heavenly virtues can be assisted by God. The key is to acquire certitude in one's faith. Bahá'u'lláh in a Tablet4 to one of his hand-maidens affirms that the heart is the dawning-place of the light of His Countenance, and the treasure-house of the pearls of His love. He urges her to bathe her heart with the waters of certitude, so that it may be cleansed from the remembrance of anyone save Him. Only then can it become the recipient of His boundless favours.

35


3. Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 138.

4. Áthár-i-Qalam-i-A'lá, vol. 5, pp. 110-11.

Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl, the renowned Bahá'í scholar, states in one of his well-known treatises that the way in which an individual can acquire certitude has been given in the Qur'án in the following verse:

Worship Thy Lord until thou attainest certitude.5
As we have already stated in a previous volume,* Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl became the embodiment of divine virtues and perfections to such an extent that 'Abdu'l-Bahá urged the friends to emulate him as their exemplar. Even a cursory study of his life will demonstrate that his noble achievements were mainly due to his deep sense of attachment to God and an irresistible urge to worship Him.

The worship of God is not limited to prayer and acts of devotional service. There are other aspects which are just as important. The essential qualities which man needs in his devotions are sincerity of motive and submissiveness to his Creator. To turn to God at all times with true love, to commune with Him in spirit, to regard Him as always present, to praise and glorify Him by word and by deed, to pray ardently for His confirmations, to promote His Cause, to carry out His teachings and to serve mankind in one's daily work--all these acts constitute the main features of worshipping God. Prayer alone will not be conducive to the good-pleasure of God if it is not followed by service to the Cause. This is confirmed in many of Bahá'u'lláh's Writings.

Returning to the Tablet of Hikmat, we note the exhortation, 'Let each morn be better than its eve...' This counsel may be regarded as the application of one of the laws of creation. In this life any living organism is either growing or declining. The same principle applies to the soul of man. The only difference in this case is that the individual has to make the choice of either growing spiritually or not. All the qualities and virtues which the soul acquires in this life, together with one's faith, must be allowed to grow day by day. If not, the person is going to

36

* For his life see vol. 3, and below, pp. 258-70.


5. Qur'án 15:99.
decline, perhaps without realizing it. For in God's creation there is no in-between state of things or remaining stationary. Bahá'u'lláh's counsel to better our spiritual condition every day is thus a fundamental principle of creation. In one of His Tablets6 he further emphasizes this principle when He states that the believer should arrange his life in such a way that with each breath he may become a new person and with each step arrive at a loftier height, so that in this way he may, at all times, be engaged in the purification of his own self.

In the Tablet of Hikmat Bahá'u'lláh further exhorts the peoples of the world in these words:

Take heed that your words be purged from idle fancies and worldly desires and your deeds be cleansed from craftiness and suspicion. Dissipate not the wealth of your precious lives in the pursuit of evil and corrupt affection, nor let your endeavours be spent in promoting your personal interest. Be generous in your days of plenty, and be patient in the hour of loss. Adversity is followed by success and rejoicings follow woe. Guard against idleness and sloth, and cling unto that which profiteth mankind, whether young or old, whether high or low. Beware lest ye sow tares of dissension among men or plant thorns of doubt in pure and radiant hearts.

O ye beloved of the Lord! Commit not that which defileth the limpid stream of love or destroyeth the sweet fragrance of friendship. By the righteousness of the Lord! Ye were created to show love one to another and not perversity and rancour. Take pride not in love for yourselves but in love for your fellow-creatures. Glory not in love for your country, but in love for all mankind. Let your eye be chaste, your hand faithful, your tongue truthful and your heart enlightened. Abase not the station of the learned in Bahá and belittle not the rank of such rulers as administer justice amidst you. Set your reliance on the army of justice, put on the armour of wisdom, let your adorning be forgiveness and mercy and that which cheereth the hearts of the well-favoured of God.7

Bahá'u'lláh has often referred to the 'learned in Bahá', as in this Tablet, and extolled their virtues. He has also praised the 'rulers
37


6. Unpublished compilation, National Archives Committee no. 38, p. 251.

7. Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 138-9.

in Bahá'. Soghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Faith, has explained these two terms in the following passage, which is translated from Persian.

In this holy cycle the 'learned' are, on the one hand, the Hands of the Cause of God, and, on the other, the teachers and diffusers of His teachings who do not rank as hands, but who have attained an eminent position in the teaching work. As to the 'rulers', they refer to the members of the Local, National and International Houses of Justice.8
Bahá'u'lláh has paid glowing tribute to the 'learned in Bahá' in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. We have referred to this in a previous volume.*

The exalted counsels of the Tablet of Hikmat are in marked contrast to the way in which the great majority of the peoples of the world are conducting their lives today. However, a careful study of the Mission of Bahá'u'lláh makes it clear that His Faith is destined to embrace the whole of the human race, and that in the fullness of time these exhortations are designed to exert the greatest influence upon the life of man on this planet, to revolutionize human society and shape the conduct of its individual members in accordance with His heavenly teachings.

But during His Ministry Bahá'u'lláh endured with patience and forbearance the many cruelties which a perverse generation inflicted upon Him. He refers to Himself as the Celestial Bird when he pours out His heart to Nabíl-i-Akbar, saying:

In such circumstances as thou seest, how can the Celestial Bird soar into the atmosphere of divine mysteries when its wings have been battered with the stones of idle fancy and bitter hatred, and it is cast into a prison built of unyielding stone? By the righteousness of God! The people have perpetrated a grievous injustice.9
In this Tablet Bahá'u'lláh alludes to Násiri'd-Dín Sháh when he says: 'We revealed unto one of the rulers that which overpowereth all the dwellers of the earth.' 10 And, further on, He
38

* vol. 2, p. 265.


8. Letter dated 4 November 1931.

9. Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 139-40.

10. ibid.


[the 'learned in Bahá'] The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶173
alludes to the martyrdom of Badí'* when he refers to the lamentations of the 'inmates of the cities of justice and equity'.

The Origin of Creation

The Tablet of Hikmat reveals some of the mysteries of God's creation. In one of His Tablets,11 Bahá'u'lláh states that in each verse of the Tablet of Hikmat an ocean is concealed. In answer to a question by Nabíl-i-Akbar concerning the origin of creation, Bahá'u'lláh reveals these words:

As regards thine assertions about the beginning of creation, this is a matter on which conceptions vary by reason of the divergences in men's thoughts and opinions. Wert thou to assert that it hath ever existed and shall continue to exist, it would be true; or wert thou to affirm the same concept as is mentioned in the sacred Scriptures, no doubt would there be about it, for it hath been revealed by God, the Lord of the worlds. Indeed He was a hidden treasure. This is a station that can never be described nor even alluded to. And concerning the question, 'I did wish to make Myself known'; there was God, and His creation had ever existed beneath His shelter from the beginning that hath no beginning, apart from its being preceded by a Firstness which cannot be regarded as firstness and originated by a Cause inscrutable even unto all men of learning.12
There are some profound statements in the above passage. Bahá'u'lláh describes two well-known concepts concerning the origin of creation. One is that creation has always existed and that it has no beginning nor will have an end. The other relates to a hadíth (Tradition) of Islám in which the voice of God proclaims, 'I was a hidden treasure, I wished to make Myself known, so I created man that I might be known.'† Bahá'u'lláh explains that
39

* see vol. 3, ch. 9.

† When in Baghdád, Bahá'u'lláh instructed 'Abdu'l-Bahá, who was then in His teens, to write a commentary on the above Islámic tradition. 'Abdu'l-Bahá's detailed commentary was so profound and illuminating that it aroused the admiration of men of knowledge and erudition. For further information see vol. 2, p. 390.


11. Áthár-i-Qalam-i-A'lá, vol. 7, p. 113.

12. Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 140.

these two concepts in the above passage are in reality the same. Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá in many of their Tablets have asserted that creation has existed from the beginning that has no beginning. Since God is eternal and has always existed and will continue to exist till the end that has no end, so His creation has also existed from eternity. It is impossible to imagine that there was a time when 'nothingness' had an existence. For there can be no such thing as absolute non-existence.

The other concept, that God was a hidden treasure and created man in order to make Himself known, seems to imply an interval without a creation. Such a concept is tantamount to saying that there was a time when God was devoid of His attribute 'the Creator'. Bahá'u'lláh in the Tablet of Hikmat rejects this theory and confirms that creation had no beginning. He says: '...There was God, and His creation had ever existed beneath His shelter from the beginning that hath no beginning...'

Having established this basic truth, He describes the beginning of creation 'being preceded by a Firstness which cannot be regarded as firstness...' In these words Bahá'u'lláh makes a distinction between the eternity of God and the eternity of His creation. The existence of God is not preceded by a cause whereas creation has come into being through a cause. 'Abdu'l-Bahá has explained* that creation emanates from God, and that it does not come about through incarnation. The difference between emanation and incarnation can be explained by the following examples: A book emanates from the author. But no part of the author can be said to be a part of his book, and so he does not incarnate himself in his creation. On the other hand, a seed manifests itself in its creation which is the tree, its branches and its fruits. In this case we note that the seed has become part of the tree. Another example is the sun and its rays. The rays emanate from the sun. It does not break up into pieces to form the rays. It is the same with God and His creation. The creation emanates from God. It has not come into being through incarnation, for if it had, then God would have to be a part of creation, and this

40

* see Some Answered Questions, ch. 53 and 54.

would immediately reduce Him to the state of a finite being.

Having established that creation emanates from God, we note a similarity between the sun and its rays. 'Abdu'l-Bahá has spoken about this, as recorded in Some Answered Questions:

Though the rays are always inseparable from the sun, nevertheless, the sun is preexistent and the rays are phenomenal, for the existence of the rays depends upon that of the sun. But the existence of the sun does not depend upon that of the rays, for the sun is the giver and the rays are the gift.13
Similarly creation cannot be dissociated from God, and the two exist together. But God is pre-existent and self-subsisting. He is exalted above firstness or lastness or time, whereas creation is preceded by a cause. It is 'preceded by a firstness which cannot be regarded as firstness and originated by a Cause inscrutable even unto all men of learning'.

The relationship between God and His creation is explained by 'Abdu'l-Bahá in these words:

Therefore, though the world of contingency exists, in relation to the existence of God it is nonexistent and nothingness. Man and dust both exist, but how great the difference between the existence of the mineral and that of man! The one in relation to the other is nonexistence. In the same way, the existence of creation in relation to the existence of God is nonexistence.14
In the Lawh-i-'Abdu'l-Vahháb revealed in 'Akká Bahá'u'lláh speaks about the immortality of the soul. Of its existence in the spiritual worlds of God He reveals these words:

Such an existence is a contingent and not an absolute existence, inasmuch as the former is preceded by a cause, whilst the latter is independent thereof. Absolute existence is strictly confined to God, exalted be His glory.15
In the Tablet of Hikmat Bahá'u'lláh confirms that creation had always existed but not in the same form. These are His words:

That which hath been in existence had existed before, but not in the form thou seest today.16
41


13. Some Answered Questions, ch. 80, p. 280.

14. ibid. p. 281.

15. Gleanings, LXXXI, p. 157.

16. Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 140.

The universe with all its heavenly bodies is infinite in range and eternal in time. However, change is one of the characteristics of matter. Anything which is composed of matter will eventually decompose. Some heavenly bodies disintegrate while others come into being. But existence as a whole remains eternal and perpetual.

A vital clue to the origin of creation is given in the following statement by Bahá'u'lláh in the Tablet of Hikmat:

The world of existence came into being through the heat generated from the interaction between the active force and that which is its recipient. These two are the same, yet they are different. Thus doth the Great Announcement inform thee about this glorious structure. Such as communicate the generating influence and such as receive its impact are indeed created through the irresistible Word of God which is the Cause of the entire creation, while all else besides His Word are but the creatures and the effects thereof. Verily thy Lord is the Expounder, the All-Wise.17
To appreciate the above passage one needs to be well versed in ancient Greek and Islámic philosophy. Bahá'u'lláh has used the terminology of the ancient philosophers to expound the true cause of creation. The theory of the 'active force' and 'its recipient' is related to the four elements, fire, air, water and earth. To those who are familiar with this philosophy, it is clear how the 'active force' and 'its recipient' are the same and yet different. However, this theory, which is very ancient and complicated, is beyond the scope of this book.18 What is important to the general reader is the disclosure by Bahá'u'lláh that creation has come about through the heat generated by the interaction of this 'active force' and 'its recipient', and that these two were created through the Word of God.

There are many Tablets in which Bahá'u'lláh has elucidated the process of creation. But in all these He has asserted that the Word of God, sent down from the Heaven of Divine Revelation, is the cause of life both physical and spiritual. In a Tablet19 Bahá'u'lláh

42


17. Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 140.

18. Readers are referred to a scholarly article in Persian by Dr Vahíd Ra'fatí, published in 'Andalíb, no. 19.

19. Má'idiy-i-Ásamání, vol. 4, p. 24.

states that the life of everything is dependent upon the Word of God.

Not only do the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh bear ample testimony to this truth, but the Holy Books of past Dispensations also confirm it. In the Gospels it is recorded:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.20
We read in Isaiah:

For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud...So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please...21
It is stated in Islám that when God wanted to create, He uttered one word 'BE',* and then creation came into being. Much has been quoted from Bahá'í scriptures in previous volumes† about the potency of the Word of God and its creative energies.

Bahá'u'lláh in the Tablet of Hikmat has disclosed to mankind the mystery of the creative power of God. He has imparted the knowledge of the origin of creation. He thus affirms:

Every event must needs have an origin and every building a builder. Verily the Word of God is the cause which hath preceded the contingent world...22
But in the same way that man is unable to know the essence of God, he is also unable to understand the process by which the Word of God has brought creation into being. Of the sacred nature of the Word, Bahá'u'lláh reveals in the Tablet of Hikmat:

Know thou, moreover, that the Word of God--exalted be His glory--is higher and far superior to that which the senses can perceive, for it is sanctified from any property or
43

* For further information see vol. 1, p. 30.

† see vol. 1, ch. 3.


20. John 1:1.

21. Isaiah 55:10-11.

22. Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 141.

substance. It transcendeth the limitations of known elements and is exalted above all the essential and recognized substances. It became manifest without any syllable or sound and is none but the Command of God which pervadeth all created things. It hath never been withheld from the world of being. It is God's all-pervasive grace, from which all grace doth emanate. It is an entity far removed above all that hath been and shall be.23
God in His Essence is unknowable to man and His Manifestations. No description or attribute, however exalted, can ever be ascribed to His Essence. The divine attributes such as 'the All-Knowing', 'the All-Wise', 'the Omnipotent' and similar ones, cannot be assigned to God's innermost Being. If they could, then these attributes would impose limitations upon His Essence, which is exalted above any description or praise. These exalted designations are only attributed to God revealed to man and not to His Essence. One of the attributes of God is 'the Creator'. But nor can this attribute be ascribed to the inner reality of God. It seems that somehow the creative force emanates from God and is the source of divine revelation and of creation. It is also referred to as the 'Primal Will' of God or the Universal Reality. 'Abdu'l-Bahá speaks of it in these terms:

Therefore, all creatures emanate from God--that is to say, it is by God that all things are realized, and by Him that all beings have attained to existence. The first thing which emanated from God is that universal reality, which the ancient philosophers termed the 'First Mind,' and which the people of Bahá call the 'First Will.' This emanation, in that which concerns its action in the world of God, is not limited by time or place; it is without beginning or end--beginning and end in relation to God are one. The preexistence of God is the preexistence of essence, and also preexistence of time...

Though the 'First Mind' is without beginning, it does not become a sharer in the preexistence of God, for the existence of the universal reality in relation to the existence of God is nothingness, and it has not the power to become an associate of

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23. Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 140-41.

God and like unto Him in preexistence. This subject has been before explained.24
Creation in this life takes place through the instrumentality of nature. And nature may be described as the manifestation of the 'Primal Will of God' in this physical universe. Bahá'u'lláh confirms this in the Tablet of Hikmat:

Say: Nature in its essence is the embodiment of My Name, the Maker, the Creator. Its manifestations are diversified by varying causes, and in this diversity there are signs for men of discernment. Nature is God's Will and is its expression in and through the contingent world. It is a dispensation of Providence ordained by the Ordainer, the All-Wise. Were anyone to affirm that it is the Will of God as manifested in the world of being, no one should question this assertion. It is endowed with a power whose reality men of learning fail to grasp. Indeed a man of insight can perceive naught therein save the effulgent splendour of Our Name, the Creator. Say: This is an existence which knoweth no decay, and Nature itself is lost in bewilderment before its revelations, its compelling evidences and its effulgent glory which have encompassed the universe.25
The subject of creation appears in many Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá, who have both shed much light on this theme. Their explanations will be of great assistance in widening the vision of mankind to the realities of God's creation. 'Abdu'l-Bahá has also enriched this knowledge through many of his talks and discourses. Notable among these are the talks given at the dinner table in His home in 'Akká, and compiled under the title Some Answered Questions. Another valuable source of information and enlightenment on this subject is Amr va Khalq (vol. 1), a compilation of the writings of Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá in Persian.

In the Tablet of Hikmat Bahá'u'lláh recalls having explained to Nabíl-i-Akbar the mysteries of creation in the house of Majíd.

45


24. Some Answered Questions, ch. 53, p. 203.

25. Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 142.

This person is 'Abdu'l-Majíd-i-Shírází. A brief reference to this interview has been made in a previous volume.*

References to Ancient Philosophy

In the Tablet of Hikmat Bahá'u'lláh dwells at length on the work and beliefs of ancient Greek philosophers and sages. He asserts that 'the essence and fundamentals of philosophy have emanated from the Prophets', names some of the Greek philosophers who 'acquired wisdom' from the Prophets of Israel, affirms that the philosophers of old believed in God, praises the work of Socrates and refers to him as 'the most distinguished of all philosophers' who was 'highly versed in wisdom', and gives details of the work and aspirations of several sages of Greece.

It is obvious that some of these details are not to be found in history books, and are indeed revealed for the first time through the knowledge of God and His Revelation. Ethel Rosenberg, one of the early British Bahá'ís, asked 'Abdu'l-Bahá about some of the differences between the historical records and the accounts given by Bahá'u'lláh in the Tablet of Hikmat. In reply she received a lengthy Tablet from the Master.26 In it 'Abdu'l-Bahá explains that records which relate to ancient times before Alexander the Great are not reliable, because they were compiled in later years, mainly from oral traditions. Furthermore, there are many major discrepancies even within reliable historical records. He gives the example of the Holy Book of Torah and states that there are three versions, the Hebrew, the Greek and the Sámerí. But they differ considerably about certain historical events which he enumerates in this Tablet. Having demonstrated the unreliability of ancient historical records, 'Abdu'l-Bahá states that the true version of history is that which is revealed to the Prophets of God. For they are the revealers of the Word of God and have the knowledge of past and future events.

We can find a striking example of this in the Qur'án. A great part of that Book consists of the stories found in the Old and the

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* see vol. 1, pp. 94-5.


26. Mu'assisiy-i-Ayádíy-i-Amru'lláh, vol. 2, pp. 64-7.
New Testaments. These were all revealed anew to Muhammad, for He had no access to the Jewish and Christian Scriptures. Indeed, they were not translated into Arabic until centuries after the death of Muhammad. One of the proofs of the authenticity of the Holy Bible is that its stories were confirmed centuries later through direct revelation in the Qur'án. It is interesting to note that the Quranic version of some of these stories contains details which cannot be found in the Old or the New Testaments. In addition, there are in the Qur'án some accounts of ancient prophets which are entirely new, and which give a fuller description altogether of the history of religions.

There is a verse in the Qur'án which throws light on this subject. In one of the chapters, the voice of God reveals some of the stories relating to Moses, Pharaoh and the children of Israel. Then, as if Muhammad were in doubt about the veracity of some of the accounts, the voice of God addresses Him in these words:

And if Thou art in doubt as to what We have revealed unto Thee, then ask those who have been reading the scriptures from before thee. The truth hath indeed come to Thee from Thy Lord so be not of those who doubt.27
God is the Knower of all things and if one believes that He manifests Himself to man through His Manifestations, then it follows that their words are the truth and that they have the knowledge of all things. To cite an example: it is well-known that Bahá'u'lláh had not read most of the Writings of the Báb, including the Bayán, the Mother Book of the Bábí Dispensation. He Himself testifies to this fact in these words addressed to the notorious Hádíy-i-Dawlat Ábádí:*

God testifieth and beareth Me witness that this Wronged One hath not perused the Bayán, nor been acquainted with its contents...I swear by God! This Wronged One, by reason of His constant association with men, hath not looked at these books {The Writings of the Báb}, nor gazed with outward eye on these Writings.28
47

* See below pp. 174-6.


27. Qur'án 10:94.

28. Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, pp. 165, 167.

Despite this, Bahá'u'lláh, during His forty years' Ministry, quoted profusely from the Writings of the Báb. Innumerable are the passages of the Bayán and other Writings of the Báb that Bahá'u'lláh has quoted in His Tablets. Seen from the human point of view, such a performance is impossible of achievement. But there can be no comparison between God and man. The Manifestation of God is endowed with divine knowledge, whereas man is not. Past, present and future are all before the Chosen Ones of God who represent Him in this world. In the Tablet of Hikmat Bahá'u'lláh describes this:

Thou knowest full well that We perused not the books which men possess and We acquired not the learning current amongst them, and yet whenever We desire to quote the sayings of the learned and of the wise, presently there will appear before the face of thy Lord in the form of a tablet all that which hath appeared in the world and is revealed in the Holy Books and Scriptures. Thus do We set down in writing that which the eye perceiveth. Verily His knowledge encompasseth the earth and the heavens.

This is a Tablet wherein the Pen of the Unseen hath inscribed the knowledge of all that hath been and shall be--a knowledge that none other but My wondrous Tongue can interpret. Indeed My heart as it is in itself hath been purged by God from the concepts of the learned and is sanctified from the utterances of the wise. In truth naught doth it mirror forth but the revelations of God. Unto this beareth witness the Tongue of Grandeur in this perspicuous Book.29

Nabíl-i-Akbar, for whom the Tablet of Hikmat was revealed, was one of the greatest teachers of the Cause and very dear to Bahá'u'lláh. In this Tablet He reveals for him the secret of successfully teaching His Faith. Through His counsels He sets out the most important prerequisites for teaching. Although these exhortations are addressed to Nabíl-i-Akbar, they are equally applicable to other believers in their teaching work. These are the words of Bahá'u'lláh addressed to him:

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29. Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 148-9.
Teach thou the Cause of God with an utterance which will cause the bushes to be enkindled, and the call 'Verily, there is no God but Me, the Almighty, the Unconstrained' to be raised therefrom. Say: Human utterance is an essence which aspireth to exert its influence and needeth moderation. As to its influence, this is conditional upon refinement which in turn is dependent upon hearts which are detached and pure. As to its moderation, this hath to be combined with tact and wisdom as prescribed in the Holy Scriptures and Tablets. Meditate upon that which hath streamed forth from the heaven of the Will of thy Lord, He Who is the Source of all grace, that thou mayest grasp the intended meaning which is enshrined in the sacred depths of the Holy Writings.30
The Tablet of Hikmat is like an ocean. Nabíl-i-Akbar immersed himself in it and obtained a great many of the pearls of wisdom hidden in its depths. He was a distinguished believer who is regarded as one of Bahá'u'lláh's Apostles; he served his Lord with utter dedication until the end of his life. After his passing 'Abdu'l-Bahá conferred on him the rank of Hand of the Cause of God.
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30. Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 143.