6

A Divine Rebuke

Lawh-i-Burhán

Soon after the martyrdom of the King and Beloved of the Martyrs, Bahá'u'lláh wrote the Lawh-i-Burhán (Tablet of the Proof) addressed to Shaykh Báqir (the Wolf). In it He strongly condemned his evil action. He also addressed Mír Muhammad Husayn (the She-Serpent) and sternly rebuked him for his part. The strong language that Bahá'u'lláh uses in this Tablet* is indicative of the wrath of God descending upon these two embodiments of wickedness.

Between the two, they have been stigmatized by Bahá'u'lláh as 'the heedless one', 'the perverse hater', 'the ignorant' who had 'gone far astray', who was 'engulfed in evident folly', 'wrapped in thick veil', and had 'joined partners with God'. Both are denounced for a heinous crime as a result of which the 'Apostle' (the Prophet Muhammad) lamented, 'the hearts of the Concourse on high' were consumed, 'the soul of the Chaste One'† melted, the inmates of Paradise' wept, 'Gabriel'‡ was made to groan, 'all created things' lamented, 'the limbs of the holy ones' quaked, and 'darkness fell upon all regions'.

To Shaykh Báqir, the Wolf, who had penned the death warrant, Bahá'u'lláh declares:

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* Translated into English and published in Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 205-16.

† Fátimih, daughter of the Prophet Muhammad, the holiest woman in Islám.

‡ The Angel which appeared to Muhammad as the embodiment of the Holy Spirit.

When thou didst pen Thy judgement, Thou wast accused by Thy very pen.1
In another instance He affirms:

Hadst thou realized that which thou hast done, thou wouldst have cast thyself into the fire, or abandoned thine home and fled into the mountains, or wouldst have groaned until thou hadst returned unto the place destined for thee by Him Who is the Lord of strength and of might.2
In this Tablet Bahá'u'lláh rebukes the Shaykh in these words:

O thou who hast gone astray! Thou hast neither seen Me, nor associated with Me, nor been My companion for the fraction of a moment. How is it, then, that thou hast bidden men to curse Me? Didst thou, in this, follow the promptings of thine own desires, or didst thou obey thy Lord? Produce thou a sign, if thou art one of the truthful. We testify that thou hast cast behind thy back the Law of God, and laid hold on the dictates of thy passions.3
In the above passage Bahá'u'lláh speaks of cursing by the people. It was a common practice by the enemies of the Faith to curse its Founders. When a Bahá'í was condemned to die for his faith, he would invariably be given a chance to recant. If he did, his life would be saved. But often the mere act of recanting was not considered sufficient. The basic reason for this was that dissimulation of one's faith was considered by the followers of Shí'ah Islám to be a legitimate action to take at times of danger. The practice of dissimulation was widespread among the population of Persia for centuries. Although it amounted to telling a lie concerning one's beliefs, no blame was attached to it. It was considered to be an acceptable way of life, and even some believers in the early days of the Faith followed this practice in order to save their lives. This is why at times some of the enemies of the Faith insisted that it was not sufficient for a Bahá'í to recant his faith. In addition to recanting he had to curse Bahá'u'lláh, the Founder of the Faith, in order that his life might be saved.

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1. Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 207.

2. ibid. p. 205.

3. ibid. p. 207.


[Hadst thou realized that...] Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 80

[O thou who hast gone astray!...] Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 80

Cursing was considered to be a test of sincerity for the one who was asked to recant. It must be noted that it is forbidden for a Bahá'í to dissimulate his faith.

The practice of cursing was not limited to these occasions only; it was much more widespread. Cursing Bahá'u'lláh and other Central Figures of the Faith was considered by the Muslim clergy in Persia to be an act of devotion to God and a great service to Islám. They often cursed the Faith from the pulpit during their sermons. Many a devout Muslim of the Shí'ah sect would take pride in hurling imprecations at the Founders of the Faith in public when a Bahá'í passed him by. This was one form of severe mental persecution which many Bahá'ís had to endure day after day. Sometimes it could provoke serious incidents in which the individual Bahá'í might be hurt, or the troubles might even spill over to a wider area involving part or the whole of the Bahá'í community.

Bahá'í children too suffered from this. In some areas Bahá'í children would be surrounded by groups of stone-throwing children who chanted anti-Bahá'í slogans. The abusive language aimed at the Founders of the Faith had a deep psychological effect on Bahá'í children. Parents played a very important role in dispelling the gloom and sadness of their sensitive hearts. What was most helpful for the children was the Bahá'í teaching that it is enjoined on the followers of Bahá'u'lláh to have pity on the enemies of the Faith and not entertain hatred for them in their hearts. Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá have often taught that those who attack the Faith are ignorant people. They are foolish and ignoble, their hearts are full of enmity and rancour; they are already punished by their own actions, for the greatest punishment for an ignorant person is his own ignorance. The Bahá'ís are not to look for vengeance, but look upon these people with the eyes of compassion and pity. They are enjoined by Bahá'u'lláh to pray that God may show mercy to their enemies and open their eyes so that they may see the truth. Otherwise they are condemned by their own actions to spiritual deprivation and everlasting loss.

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Addressing the Shaykh, Bahá'u'lláh in the Tablet of Burhán reveals these challenging words:

Thinkest thou that We fear thy cruelty? Know thou and be well assured that from the first day whereon the voice of the Most Sublime Pen was raised betwixt earth and heaven We offered up Our souls, and Our bodies, and Our sons, and Our possessions in the path of God, the Exalted, the Great, and We glory therein amongst all created things and the Concourse on high. Unto this testify the things which have befallen Us in this straight Path.4

The power and ascendancy of Bahá'u'lláh, deriving from the all-pervasive influence of the Most Great Spirit of God, are clearly manifested in this Tablet when He proclaims His station in unequivocal language and with forcefulness and supreme authority to a man who at that time wielded the sceptre of power in his hands. A human being, however capable, however aided by his own knowledge and strength, will never be able to utter commanding words such as these:

By God! Troubles have failed to unnerve Me, and the repudiation of the divines hath been powerless to weaken Me. I have spoken, and still speak forth before the face of men: 'The door of grace hath been unlocked and He Who is the Dayspring of justice is come with perspicuous signs and evident testimonies from God, the Lord of strength and of might!' Present thyself before Me that thou mayest hear the mysteries which were heard by the Son of 'Imrán* upon the Sinai of Wisdom. Thus commandeth thee He Who is the Dawning-Place of the Revelation of thy Lord, the God of Mercy, from His great Prison.5

Thus the summons of the Lord of Hosts was issued with the hands of power and might, and called the Shaykh to come into His presence and see what the Prophets of God had longed to witness.

In this Tablet Bahá'u'lláh through His loving-kindness

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* Moses, who heard the voice of God, the Speaker on Sinai. (A.T.)


4. Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 209.

5. ibid. p. 210.


[Thinkest thou that We...] Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 84

[By God! Troubles have failed...] Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 85

counsels this inveterate enemy of His Cause to meditate on the tragic fate of Sultán 'Abdu'l-'Azíz of Turkey after Bahá'u'lláh had warned him of his downfall and extinction, reminds him also of Napoleon III whose downfall He had clearly prophesied, urges him to peruse the Kitáb-i-Íqán so that his eyes may behold the truth, and warns him in these words:

O Báqir! Rely not on thy glory, and thy power. Thou art even as the last trace of sunlight upon the mountain-top. Soon will it fade away, as decreed by God, the All-Possessing, the Most High. Thy glory and the glory of such as are like thee have been taken away, and this verily is what hath been ordained by the One with Whom is the Mother Tablet.6
One of the attributes of God is mercy. He manifests this attribute to all his creatures. This is the reason why Bahá'u'lláh in His Tablets has exhorted even those who were the embodiments of tyranny to change their ways and turn to God. This feature is noticeable in His Tablets addressed to enemies of the Cause whose actions He has severely condemned. Such condemnation, however, is not due to hatred, nor is it vengeful. Indeed, in the Lawh-i-Burhán Bahá'u'lláh, addressing the Shaykh, confirms this when He states: 'There is no hatred in Mine heart for Thee nor for anyone.' 7

That God is merciful and kind to His enemies may be seen in this Tablet. Having denounced the Shaykh most vehemently, rebuked him for his evil doings, and even through His foresight announced his extinction by describing his earthly glories as 'the last traces of sunlight upon the mountain-top', Bahá'u'lláh yet urges him to open his eyes, to discover the truth, to mend his ways and repent so that God may forgive him.

In these words the Pen of the Most High unveils His glorious station to the Shaykh and then invites him to return to his God:

O foolish one! Know thou that he is truly learned who hath acknowledged My Revelation, and drunk from the Ocean of My knowledge, and soared in the atmosphere of My love, and cast away all else besides Me, and taken firm hold on that
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6. Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 213.

7. ibid. p. 205.


[Rely not on thy glory...] Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 99
which hath been sent down from the Kingdom of My wondrous utterance. He, verily, is even as an eye unto mankind, and as the spirit of life unto the body of all creation. Glorified be the All-Merciful Who hath enlightened him, and caused him to arise and serve His great and mighty Cause. Verily, such a man is blessed by the Concourse on high, and by them who dwell within the Tabernacle of Grandeur, who have quaffed My sealed Wine in My Name, the Omnipotent, the All-Powerful. O Báqir! If thou be of them that occupy such a sublime station, produce then a sign from God, the Creator of the heavens. And shouldst thou recognize thy powerlessness, do thou rein in thy passions, and return unto thy Lord, that perchance He may forgive thee thy sins which have caused the leaves of the Divine Lote-Tree to be burnt up, and the Rock to cry out, and the eyes of men of understanding to weep.8
And again:

...Open thine eyes that thou mayest behold this Wronged One shining forth above the horizon of the will of God, the Sovereign, the Truth, the Resplendent. Unstop, then, the ear of thine heart that thou mayest hearken unto the speech of the Divine Lote-Tree that hath been raised up in truth by God, the Almighty, the Beneficent...Reflect, that haply thou mayest recognize thine iniquity and be numbered with such as have repented.9
In this Tablet, Bahá'u'lláh denounces the Imám-Jum'ih, the Raqshá (She-Serpent) in wrathful language. In some ways He addresses him in a more condemnatory tone than his evil accomplice, the Wolf. He rebukes him in these words:

O She-Serpent! For what crime didst thou sting the children* of the Apostle of God, and pillage their possessions? Hast thou denied Him Who created thee by His command 'be, and it was'? Thou hast dealt with the children of the Apostle of God as neither 'Ád hath dealt with Húd, nor Thamúd with
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* The King of the Martyrs and the Beloved of the Martyrs were descendants of the Prophet of Islám. (A.T.)


8. Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 207-8.

9. ibid. p. 208-9.


[Know thou that...] Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 83

[Open thine eyes...] Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 83

Sálih,* nor the Jews with the Spirit of God, the Lord of all being.10
Reminding him that he cannot destroy the Cause of God, Bahá'u'lláh addresses the She-Serpent in these words:

...O perverse hater! Didst thou imagine that martyrdom could abase this Cause? Nay, by Him Whom God hath made to be the Repository of His Revelation, if thou be of them that comprehend. Woe betide thee, O thou who hast joined partners with God, and woe betide them that have taken thee as their leader, without a clear token or a perspicuous Book.11
And finally He foreshadows his extinction:

...O heedless outcast! Ere long will the breaths of chastisement seize thee, as they seized others before thee. Wait, O thou who hast joined partners with God, the Lord of the visible and the invisible.12
And again:

Thou hast clung to tyranny and cast away justice; whereupon all created things have lamented, and still thou art among the wayward. Thou hast put to death the aged, and plundered the young. Thinkest thou that thou wilt consume that which thine iniquity hath amassed? Nay, by Myself! Thus informeth thee He Who is cognizant of all. By God! The things thou possessest shall profit thee not, nor what thou hast laid up through thy cruelty. Unto this beareth witness Thy Lord, the All-Knowing. Thou hast arisen to put out the light of this Cause; ere long will thine own fire be quenched, at His behest. He, verily, is the Lord of strength and of might.13
As we shall see, divine chastisement descended upon him almost at the same time as these words were being revealed by Bahá'u'lláh. It began with a series of grave setbacks culminating in his exile from his native city and later his death in miserable circumstances.

In the Lawh-i-Burhán Bahá'u'lláh also addresses the divines of

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* see Appendix I.


10. Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 214.

11. ibid. p. 215.

12. ibid. p. 214.

13. ibid. pp. 215-16.


[O She-Serpent!...] Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 100

[O perverse hater!...] Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 101

[O heedless outcast!...] Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 101

[Thou hast clung to tyranny...] Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 101

Islám collectively and proclaims His Mission to them in such challenging words as these:

...O concourse of divines! This is the day whereon nothing amongst all things, nor any name amongst all names, can profit you save through this Name which God hath made the Manifestation of His Cause and the Dayspring of His Most Excellent Titles unto all who are in the kingdom of creation. Blessed is that man that hath recognized the fragrance of the All-Merciful and been numbered with the steadfast. Your sciences shall not profit you in this day, nor your arts, nor your treasures, nor your glory. Cast them all behind your backs, and set your faces towards the Most Sublime Word through which the Scriptures and the Books and this lucid Tablet have been distinctly set forth. Cast away, O concourse of divines, the things ye have composed with the pens of your idle fancies and vain imaginings. By God! The Day-Star of Knowledge hath shone forth above the horizon of certitude.14
In this Tablet Bahá'u'lláh further addresses the divines of Persia, points to their corrupt practices, their incompetence, their foolishness and their war-mongering. And finally He blames them for the downfall of Islám altogether. These are His ominous warnings:

O concourse of divines! Because of you the people were abased, and the banner of Islám was hauled down, and its mighty throne subverted.15
The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh has abolished priesthood. Ever since this took place, religious leaders have lost their power and authority. 'From two ranks amongst men', Bahá'u'lláh declares, 'power hath been seized: Kings and ecclesiastics.' 16 In a Tablet,17 Bahá'u'lláh warns the divines that as of then they could not expect to hold on to their honour and glory any more, for He had taken these from them and given them to those who had believed in God in this day.

There are many reproachful passages in the Writings of

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14. Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 211.

15. ibid. p. 213.

16. Quoted by Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day Is Come, p. 19.

17. Unpublished compilation, National Archives Committee, no. 28, P. 364.


[This is the day whereon...] Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 97

[O concourse of divines! Because of you...] Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 100

Bahá'u'lláh addressed to the divines. The following are merely examples:

Say: O concourse of divines! Pronounce ye censure against this Pen unto which, as soon as it raised its shrill voice, the kingdom of utterance prepared itself to hearken, and before whose mighty and glorious theme every other theme hath paled into insignificance? Fear ye God and follow not your idle fancies and corrupt imaginings, but rather follow Him Who is come unto you invested with undeniable knowledge and unshakeable certitude.18
And again:

O concourse of divines! When My verses were sent down, and My clear tokens were revealed, We found you behind the veils. This, verily, is a strange thing...We have rent the veils asunder. Beware lest ye shut out the people by yet another veil. Pluck asunder the chains of vain imaginings, in the name of the Lord of all men, and be not of the deceitful. Should ye turn unto God, and embrace His Cause, spread not disorder within it, and measure not the Book of God with your selfish desires. This, verily, is the counsel of God aforetime and hereafter...Had ye believed in God, when He revealed Himself, the people would not have turned aside from Him, nor would the things ye witness today have befallen Us. Fear God, and be not of the heedless...This is the Cause that hath caused all your superstitions and idols to tremble...

O concourse of divines! Beware lest ye be the cause of strife in the land, even as ye were the cause of the repudiation of the Faith in its early days. Gather the people around this Word that hath made the pebbles to cry out: 'The Kingdom is God's, the Dawning-Place of all signs!'...19

The Tablet of Burhán must have been revealed by Bahá'u'lláh very soon after the martyrdom of the King and Beloved of the Martyrs. Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl, the great Bahá'í scholar, has stated that thirty-eight days after the martyrdom of the two brothers, the believers in Tihrán received a copy of the Tablet. He made
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18. Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 61-2.

19. Synopsis, p. 26.


["O concourse of divines! When..."] The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶165

["O concourse of divines! Beware..."] The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶169

two copies in his own handwriting and, as bidden by Bahá'u'lláh, sent a copy each to Shaykh Báqir (the Wolf), and the Imám, Mír Muhammad-Husayn (the She-Serpent).

It took only a few days after the martyrdom of the 'twin shining lights' before a serious quarrel broke out between the Prince and the Imám-Jumi'h (the She-Serpent) over the sharing out of the plundered wealth. About twenty-five days after the martyrdom, the Imám gathered a great number of his followers who accompanied him to the government house to pressurize the Prince for a much larger share than previously envisaged for him. The crowd gathered and soon there was a commotion outside the government headquarters. Day by day the situation grew worse and soon the central government in Tihrán became involved. Soldiers were secretly despatched. They arrested the Imám, ransacked his home, plundered all his possessions and took him to Khurásán as an exile. Eventually he was permitted to return to his native town and retire to his home where he died in great misery. This was two years after the martyrdom of the King and Beloved of the Martyrs.

As to Shaykh Muhammad Báqir, the Wolf, he was sent in disgrace by the Prince to the city of Najaf in 'Iráq. Prevented from returning home and unable to enjoy all the wealth he had accumulated, he died grief-stricken in remote lands in 1883. Shoghi Effendi describes the end of these two in these words:

Shaykh Muhammad Báqir, surnamed the 'Wolf', who, in the strongly condemnatory Lawh-i-Burhán addressed to him by Bahá'u'lláh, had been compared to 'the last trace of sunlight upon the mountain-top', witnessed the steady decline of his prestige, and died in a miserable state of acute remorse. His accomplice, Mír Muhammad-Husayn, surnamed the 'She-Serpent', whom Bahá'u'lláh described as one 'infinitely more wicked than the oppressor of Karbilá', was, about that same time, expelled from Isfahán, wandered from village to village, contracted a disease that engendered so foul an odor that even his wife and daughter could not bear to approach him, and died in such ill-favor with the local authorities that no one
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dared to attend his funeral, his corpse being ignominiously interred by a few porters.20
The disease mentioned above is said to have been a cancer of the throat which caused a huge abscess on his neck; the pain and the foul odour were intolerable. It is reported that when the martyrdom of the King and Beloved of the Martyrs was being discussed, some were hesitant to put them to death. The Imám became very angry at this: placing his hands upon his neck he said, 'If there be any sin in this let it be upon my neck!'

The Prince, Zillu's-Sultán, whom Bahá'u'lláh has stigmatized as 'the infernal tree' also fell from grace. He who once ruled over two-thirds of Persia, who made the greatest effort and even secured the support of the British government in fulfilling his long-cherished ambition to become the heir to the throne, and who had assembled such pomp and majesty around himself as to rival those of the King--such a man went steadily into dcline, his position and authority lowered, and his hopes and aspirations frustrated. In the end he was sent to Europe as an exile, and was only allowed to return home when suffering from melancholia. Later he died in ignominy.

It is interesting to note that this ignoble Prince had the temerity to send a letter in his own handwriting to Bahá'u'lláh asking Him to allow His followers to support him to overthrow the King, his own father. In return, he undertook to assist the Bahá'ís if he became king. He sent this letter through Hájí Muhammad-'Alíy-i-Sayyáh,* a two-faced political figure whom Bahá'u'lláh has stigmatized as Jáhil (the Ignorant One). Bahá'u'lláh responded firmly, telling Sayyáh that it was incumbent upon the Prince to pray for the King and be his well-wisher and not to wish to overthrow him. He stated that it was not His mission to interfere in political affairs but to improve the character of men. He also forbade him to make such a request of Him ever again.

Hájí Mírzá Habíb-i-Afnán† has recorded in his memoirs that

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* Not to be confused with 'Alíy-i-Sayyáh, a faithful disciple of the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh.

† see below, pp. 332-6.


20. God Passes By, pp. 232-3.
he was present when Bahá'u'lláh referred to the Prince's letter and said, 'Were We to send his letter to Násiri'd-Dín Sháh, he would skin him {the Prince} alive, but God is the Concealer, He draws a veil over the deeds of His servants.'

When in Europe, the Prince met 'Abdu'l-Bahá a few times. Wishing to absolve himself of the heinous crimes he had committed, he transferred the blame onto his father, Násiri'd Dín Sháh, saying that it was he who had ordered the execution of the two brothers. In this way he thought he could hide the truth from the Master, but the Master, with his sin-covering eye, showed his usual kindness to him.

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