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Other Outstanding Tablets

Innumerable are the Tablets which streamed forth from the Most Exalted Pen after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas was revealed. Most of these are not as yet available in English. The few which are may be studied in Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas.

Lawh-i-Aqdas

This Tablet,* otherwise known as the 'Tablet to the Christians', is in Arabic and addresses a believer of Christian background. It is believed by some that it was revealed in honour of the Syrian convert to the Faith, Fáris Effendi, the fascinating circumstances of whose conversion have been described in a previous volume† but there is so far no conclusive evidence to prove this. All we can say is that possibly he was the recipient of this Tablet. Prior to its revelation Bahá'u'lláh had addressed some Tablets‡ to people of the Christian Faith, but the Lawh-i-Aqdas seems to be the first major Tablet to a believer of Christian background.

In this Tablet Bahá'u'lláh proclaims His message to the Christian people. In clear and unequivocal terms He declares His station to be that of the Father whose advent Jesus Christ had promised, and through whom the Spirit of Truth has been manifested to man. He describes His Supreme Revelation in

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* Not to be confused with the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, the full text of this Tablet has been translated into English and published in Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 9-17.

† see vol. 3, pp. 5-11.

‡ see vol. 3, p. 244.

these words to the Christians, whom He addresses as 'followers of the Son':

The river Jordan is joined to the Most Great Ocean, and the Son, in the holy vale, crieth out: 'Here am I, here am I, O Lord, my God!', whilst Sinai circleth round the House, and the Burning Bush calleth aloud: 'He Who is the Desired One is come in His transcendent majesty.' Say, Lo! The Father is come, and that which ye were promised in the Kingdom is fulfilled! This is the Word which the Son concealed, when to those around Him He said: 'Ye cannot bear it now.' And when the appointed time was fulfilled and the Hour had struck, the Word shone forth above the horizon of the Will of God. Beware, O followers of the Son, that ye cast it not behind your backs. Take ye fast hold of it. Better is this for you than all that ye possess.1
In another passage He admonishes the Christians for not having recognized Him, and likens them to the Jews at the time of Christ:

Say, O followers of the Son! Have ye shut out yourselves from Me by reason of My Name? Wherefore ponder ye not in your hearts? Day and night ye have been calling upon your Lord, the Omnipotent, but when He came from the heaven of eternity in His great glory, ye turned aside from Him and remained sunk in heedlessness.

Consider those who rejected the Spirit* when He came unto them with manifest dominion. How numerous the Pharisees who had secluded themselves in synagogues in His name, lamenting over their separation from Him, and yet when the portals of reunion were flung open and the divine Luminary shone resplendent from the Dayspring of Beauty, they disbelieved in God, the Exalted, the Mighty. They failed to attain His presence, notwithstanding that His advent had been promised them in the Book of Isaiah as well as in the Books of the Prophets and the Messengers. No one from among them turned his face towards the Dayspring of divine bounty except such as were destitute of any power amongst men. And yet,

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* Jesus Christ. (A.T.)


1. Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 11.
today, every man endowed with power and invested with sovereignty prideth himself on His Name. Moreover, call thou to mind the one who sentenced Jesus to death. He was the most learned of His age in His own country, whilst he who was only a fisherman believed in Him. Take good heed and be of them that observe the warning.

Consider likewise, how numerous at this time are the monks who have secluded themselves in their churches, calling upon the Spirit, but when He appeared through the power of Truth, they failed to draw nigh unto Him and are numbered with those that have gone far astray.2

In this Tablet Bahá'u'lláh addresses the priests, the bishops and the monks, and announces to them the joyful tidings of His Revelation.

O concourse of bishops! Ye are the stars of the heaven of My knowledge. My mercy desireth not that ye should fall upon the earth. My justice, however, declareth: 'This is that which the Son hath decreed.' And whatsoever hath proceeded out of His blameless, His truth-speaking, trustworthy mouth, can never be altered.3

This is a reference to the passage in the Gospels about the falling of the stars which must signalize the advent of the Lord. In His Tablets Bahá'u'lláh has explained that by 'stars' are meant the clergy, who were shining in the firmament of Christendom but who have now fallen for not recognizing Him in this day when He has returned in the glory of the Father. This subject, along with the falling stars of 1866, has been discussed in greater detail in a previous volume.*

In other Tablets Bahá'u'lláh addresses similar statements to the aristocracy of the Church, exhorting and admonishing them in these challenging words:

Say: O concourse of archbishops! He Who is the Lord of all men hath appeared. In the plain of guidance He calleth mankind, whilst ye are numbered with the dead! Great is the
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* see vol. 2, p. 270, and Appendix 1, pp. 422-6.


2. Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 9-10.

3. ibid. p. 14.

blessedness of him who is stirred by the Breeze of God, and hath arisen from amongst the dead in this perspicuous Name.

Say: O concourse of bishops! Trembling hath seized all the kindreds of the earth, and He Who is the Everlasting Father calleth aloud between earth and heaven. Blessed the ear that hath heard, and the eye that hath seen, and the heart that hath turned unto Him Who is the Point of Adoration of all who are in the heavens and all who are on earth.4

O concourse of priests! The Day of Reckoning hath appeared, the Day whereon He Who was in heaven hath come. He, verily, is the One Whom ye were promised in the Books of God, the Holy, the Almighty, the All-Praised. How long will ye wander in the wilderness of heedlessness and superstition? Turn with your hearts in the direction of your Lord, the Forgiving, the Generous.5

In the Tablet of Aqdas too Bahá'u'lláh addresses the priests of Christendom. This is part of His call:

O concourse of priests! Leave the bells, and come forth, then, from your churches. It behoveth you, in this day, to proclaim aloud the Most Great Name among the nations. Prefer ye to be silent, whilst every stone and every tree shouteth aloud: 'The Lord is come in His great glory!' 6
With these commanding words Bahá'u'lláh has summoned the Christian clergy to come out of their churches and proclaim His Cause to all mankind. His summons has for the most part fallen on deaf ears. Very few among leading Christian ecclesiastics have so far paid any attention to Bahá'u'lláh's clarion call of the Advent of the Day of God.

Notable among those few churchmen who have recognized His station and arisen to serve His Cause was an Irishman, George Townshend, sometime Canon of St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin and Archdeacon of Clonfert. A remarkable man, a spiritual giant, a writer and scholar of note, he dedicated almost forty years of his life to the promotion of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh and was appointed towards the end of his life as a Hand of the

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4. Quoted by Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day is Come, pp. 104-5.

5. ibid. p. 105.

6. Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 13.

Cause of God by the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith. George Townshend was born in Ireland around the time that the 'Tablet to the Christians' was revealed. The news of the coming of Bahá'u'lláh reached him towards the end of 1916 during the Ministry of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. As he moved from the valley of search into the city of certitude, he made his declaration of faith in the form of a moving poem addressed to 'Abdu'l-Bahá, a poem which indicates the depth of his faith and understanding:

Hail to Thee, Scion of Glory, Whose utterance poureth abroad

The joy of the heavenly knowledge and the light of the greatest of days!

Poet of mysteries chanting in rapture the beauty of God,

Unto Thee be thanksgiving and praise!

Child of the darkness that wandered in gloom but dreamed of the light,

Lo! I have seen Thy splendour ablaze in the heavens afar

Showering gladness and glory and shattering the shadows of night,

And seen no other star.

Thy words are to me as fragrances borne from the garden of heaven,

Beams of a lamp that is hid in the height of a holier world,

Arrows of fire that pierce and destroy with the might of the levin

Into our midnight hurled.

Sword of the Father! None other can rend the dark veil from my eyes,

None other can beat from my limbs with the shearing blade of God's might

The sins I am fettered withal and give me the power to rise

And come forth to the fullness of light.

Lo! Thou hast breathed on my sorrow the sweetness of faith and of hope,

Thou hast chanted high paeans of joy that my heart's echoes ever repeat

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And the path to the knowledge of God begins to glimmer and ope

Before my faltering feet.

Weak and unworthy my praise. Yet, as from its throbbing throat

Some lone bird pours its song to the flaming infinite sky,

So unto Thee in the zenith I lift from a depth remote

This broken human cry.7

In the Lawh-i-Aqdas Bahá'u'lláh states:

In the East the Light of His Revelation hath broken; in the West the signs of His dominion have appeared.8
From the early days of His Revelation, Bahá'u'lláh has prophesied that His Cause will be taken to the West and from there its light will be diffused to all regions. When He was in Constantinople before the proclamation of His Faith, Bahá'u'lláh in His Mathnaví* calls on Himself to unveil His glory to mankind, so that the Sun of His Revelation may arise from the West.

'Abdu'l-Bahá has likewise declared:

From the beginning of time until the present day, the light of Divine Revelation hath risen in the East and shed its radiance upon the West. The illumination thus shed hath, however, acquired in the West an extraordinary brilliancy. Consider the Faith proclaimed by Jesus. Though it first appeared in the East, yet not until its light had been shed upon the West did the full measure of its potentialities be manifest.

The day is approaching when ye shall witness how, through the splendour of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, the West will have replaced the East, radiating the light of Divine Guidance.

In the books of the Prophets certain glad-tidings are recorded which are absolutely true and free from doubt. The East hath ever been the dawning-place of the Sun of Truth. In the East all the Prophets of God have appeared...The West hath

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* See vol. 2, p. 30.


7. Quoted by David Hofman, A Life of George Townshend, p. 49.

8. Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 13.

acquired illumination from the East but in some respects the reflection of the light hath been greater in the Occident. This is specially true of Christianity.9
During the lifetime of Bahá'u'lláh His Message was at first confined to countries in Asia. Later it spread to other continents. It was first taken to Europe when He was exiled to Adrianople. Next it was taken to Africa and later during 'Abdu'l-Bahá's Ministry to America and then to Australasia. When 'Abdu'l-Bahá passed away, the Cause of God had been introduced into thirty-five countries.

The Heroic Age of the Faith was closed by the ascension of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, and the Formative Age began with the Ministry of Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Faith. It was during his Ministry that the rising institutions of the Administrative Order of the Cause, the channels through which the vivifying forces of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation are canalized, were gradually reared and progressively consolidated. By virtue of the primacy conferred on the North American Bahá'í community, he built the pattern of the Administrative Order within that community which he described as 'the champion-builders of an Order which posterity will hail as the harbinger of a civilization to be regarded as the fairest fruit of the Revelation proclaimed by Bahá'u'lláh'.10 While Persia is the cradle of the Faith, North America became the cradle of the Administrative Order. The Words of Bahá'u'lláh that 'the signs of His Dominion have appeared in the West' have been fulfilled, and the institutions of the Faith have now encircled the globe and are functioning in both the East and the West.

Bahá'u'lláh closes the Tablet of Aqdas with these soul-stirring words. In these passages are enshrined the tokens of God's bounty which He has vouchsafed to mankind, a bounty which is for every human being, and is bestowed upon him once he recognizes Bahá'u'lláh and turns to Him with humility and submissiveness:

Say: Blessed the slumberer who is awakened by My Breeze. Blessed the lifeless one who is quickened through My reviving
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9. Quoted by Shoghi Effendi, 'America and the Most Great Peace', The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 74-5.

10. Citadel of Faith, p. 130.

breaths. Blessed the eye that is solaced by gazing at My beauty. Blessed the wayfarer who directeth his steps towards the Tabernacle of My glory and majesty. Blessed the distressed one who seeketh refuge beneath the shadow of My canopy. Blessed the sore athirst who hasteneth to the soft-flowing waters of My loving-kindness. Blessed the insatiate soul who casteth away his selfish desires for love of Me and taketh his place at the banquet table which I have sent down from the heaven of divine bounty for My chosen ones. Blessed the abased one who layeth fast hold on the cord of My glory; and the needy one who entereth beneath the shadow of the Tabernacle of My wealth. Blessed the ignorant one who seeketh the fountain of My knowledge; and the heedless one who cleaveth to the cord of My remembrance. Blessed the soul that hath been raised to life through My quickening breath and hath gained admittance into My heavenly Kingdom. Blessed the man whom the sweet savours of reunion with Me have stirred and caused to draw nigh unto the Dayspring of My Revelation. Blessed the ear that hath heard and the tongue that hath borne witness and the eye that hath seen and recognized the Lord Himself, in His great glory and majesty, invested with grandeur and dominion. Blessed are they that have attained His presence. Blessed the man who hath sought enlightenment from the Day-Star of My Word. Blessed he who hath attired his head with the diadem of My love. Blessed is he who hath heard of My grief and hath arisen to aid Me among My people. Blessed is he who hath laid down his life in My path and hath borne manifold hardships for the sake of My Name. Blessed the man who, assured of My Word, hath arisen from among the dead to celebrate My praise. Blessed is he that hath been enraptured by My wondrous melodies and hath rent the veils asunder through the potency of My might. Blessed is he who hath remained faithful to My Covenant, and whom the things of the world have not kept back from attaining My Court of holiness. Blessed is the man who hath detached himself from all else but Me, hath soared in the atmosphere of My love, hath gained admittance into My Kingdom, gazed upon My realms of glory, quaffed the living waters of My bounty, hath drunk his fill from the heavenly river of My
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loving providence, acquainted himself with My Cause, apprehended that which I concealed within the treasury of My Words, and hath shone forth from the horizon of divine knowledge engaged in My praise and glorification. Verily, he is of Me. Upon him rest My mercy, My loving-kindness, My bounty and My glory.11
Lawh-i-Maqsúd

Notable among these later Tablets is the Lawh-i-Maqsúd* which was revealed in honour of a certain Mírzá Maqsúd who was living in Syria at the time.

Most of Bahá'u'lláh's utterances in this Tablet are revealed in the words of His amanuenses.† In it He describes man as the 'supreme Talisman', claims that 'lack of a proper education' has deprived him 'of that which he doth inherently possess', regards man 'as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value', states that 'education, can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures', defines a true man as one 'who, today, dedicateth himself to the service of the entire human race', declares that pride is not for him who loves his own country, 'but rather for him who loveth the whole world', counsels humanity to make endeavours for 'the rehabilitation of the world and the well-being of nations', proclaims to the peoples of the world that 'the tabernacle of unity hath been raised; regard ye not one another as strangers', likens all human beings to 'the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch', discerns 'the signs of impending convulsions and chaos' within human society, reflects on the 'disturbances', 'wars' and 'unforeseen calamities' which have afflicted the peoples of the earth, advocates the 'imperative necessity for the holding of a vast, an all-embracing assemblage of men' which 'rulers and the Kings of the earth must needs attend', where they may consider 'such ways and means as will lay the foundations of the world's Great Peace amongst men', and foreshadows the outcome of reconciliation among the governments to be that 'the nations of the world will

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* Translated into English and published in Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 161-78.

† see note, p. 23.


11. Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 16-17.
no longer require any armaments, except for the purpose of preserving the security of their realms and of maintaining internal order within their territories'.

In this Tablet Bahá'u'lláh further recommends the study of 'those branches of knowledge which are of use', and which benefit mankind, declares that any academic sudy which begins and ends in words, 'will never be of any worth', and gives as an example 'Persia's learned doctors' who study a philosophy which yields 'nothing but words'. He counsels moderation in all things, states that 'the heaven of divine wisdom is illumined with the two luminaries of consultation* and compassion', proclaims that 'the heaven of true understanding shineth resplendent with the light of two luminaries: tolerance and righteousness', and declares that 'the structure of world stability and order hath been reared upon, and will continue to be sustained by, the twin pillars of reward and punishment'.†

The Tablet of Maqsúd contains many exhortations and counsels. The following words of Bahá'u'lláh may be said to summarize these:

The Tongue of Wisdom proclaimeth: He that hath Me not is bereft of all things: Turn ye away from all that is on earth and seek none else but Me.12
Lawh-i-Siyyid Mihdíy-i-Dahají

This Tablet‡ was addressed to Siyyid Mihdíy-i-Dahají, who was one of the foremost teachers of the Faith during Bahá'u'lláh's Ministry. He was a proud and egotistical person whose ambition for leadership brought about his downfall after the ascension of Bahá'u'lláh. He joined hands with Mírzá Muhammad-'Alí, the Arch-breaker of the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh, arose against 'Abdu'l-Bahá, and brought to naught all the services he had rendered to the Cause in his earlier days. An account of his life

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* see vol. 3, pp. 317-18.

† For an explanation of the necessity of punishment see vol. 3, pp. 294-7.

‡ Translated into English and published in Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 195-201.


12. Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 169.
and his violation of the Covenant is given in a previous volume.*

Siyyid Mihdí was the recipient of many Tablets from Bahá'u'lláh. In this Tablet Bahá'u'lláh showers His bounties upon him, praises him for his travel teaching throughout the land and confirms one of His fundamental commandments when He states: 'To assist Me is to teach My Cause.' He moreover exhorts men to fear God and to 'sow not the seeds of dissension among men', and warns that 'those who perpetrate deeds that would create turmoil among the people have indeed strayed far from helping God and His Cause...'

There are many exhortations in this Tablet, some directed towards Siyyid Mihdí, others aimed at the community of the Most Great Name. We glean from among these only the commandment relating to teaching His Cause. Bahá'u'lláh, in this Tablet, repeats some of His counsels previously revealed for Áqá Muhammad-i-Qá'iní in the Tablet of Hikmat when He explains the prerequisites for teaching the Faith effectively, and describes those conditions necessary for exerting influence upon people through the power of one's speech.† He also reveals invaluable advice concerning the power of the revealed Word in teaching the Cause, advice which has been carried out by many veteran teachers of the Faith and through which a great many souls have been led to the Cause of God. These are Bahá'u'lláh's assuring words:

The sanctified souls should ponder and meditate in their hearts regarding the methods of teaching. From the texts of the wondrous, heavenly Scriptures they should memorize phrases and passages bearing on various instances, so that in the course of their speech they may recite divine verses whenever the occasion demandeth it, inasmuch as these holy verses are the most potent elixir, the greatest and mightiest talisman. So potent is their influence that the hearer will have no cause for vacillation. I swear by My life! This Revelation is endowed
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* see vol. 2.

† see Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 143, 198-9.

with such a power that it will act as the lodestone for all nations and kindreds of the earth.13
The following story by Hájí Mírzá Haydar-'Alí confirms the power of the revealed Word. Hájí was introduced to a person who was opposed to the Faith and found it very difficult to be convinced of its truth. This is a summary of his account:

A certain person who was a pious and devoted Muslim was introduced to me. No matter how much I spoke to him, he kept on insisting that he would never accept the Faith unless he was shown a miracle. In the end I was powerless to convince him of the truth of the Faith. So I said to him, 'There is an inherent ability within every soul by which it can distinguish the words of God from the words of man.' He agreed with me on this. I then said to him, 'I will now recite some words for you, so incline your inner ears to them and judge for yourself who is the Speaker.' I then chanted a Persian Tablet in which the overpowering majesty of the Words was clearly manifested. He had heard only a few verses when he lowered his head, prostrated himself on the ground, and said, 'These are the words of God, exalted be His glory. There are many miracles hidden in each word. I testify that these utterances unmistakably proclaim the advent of the Day of God...'

He stayed with us for the whole night, during which he learnt about the teachings and the laws of the new Dispensation. This man became enraptured and set aglow with the fire of the love of God...14

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13. Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 200.

14. Bihjatu's-Sudúr, p. 184.