Introduction by Joshua Hall
When approaching the City of Divine Unity, the mind, surveying the vast landscape of the subjects it expounds, its depth and spiritual import, finds comfort in the tangible facts that are known, such as to whom it was addressed, the questions it explains, and the period in which it was revealed by Bahá’u’lláh.
Revealed in the Baghdád period and characteristic thereof in its power of expression and balance of lucidity of style and mystic allusions, it was addressed to Shaykh Salmán, in response to queries which he posed to Bahá’u’lláh regarding the nature of God’s oneness, or Divine Unity. Shaykh Salmán was a renowned Bábí of this period, and later a stalwart Bahá’í, whom Bahá’u’lláh entrusted with the dissemination of His writings, which at this time did not unequivocally disclose His true station, but all the same intimated in their majesty and potency the glory of His dispensation. Shaykh Salmán, though unlettered in the learning of his time, was nonetheless marked by his insight in spiritual matters, and it is a testimony to his strength of character that he braved the vales and cities of an unbelieving world, despite the constant danger and peril to his own person and fellow coreligionists should he be discovered bearing the Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, widely known for His Bábí allegiance. Shaykh Salmán, therefore, was as the fishermen of Jesus’ time who, though bereft of outward pomp, fortune of circumstance and acquired knowledge, were nonetheless made to be recipients of a divine wisdom whose influence is palpable to this day, and who faced the revilement of the world in preaching Christ’s gospel. How befitting is it, then, that Shaykh Salmán should be the one to whom this Tablet, written in Arabic, the classical language of religion, philosophy and theology, was addressed, he who was outwardly bereft of those branches of human knowledge, but who was exalted by the grace of Bahá’u’lláh to heights of understanding which the exponents of scholastic learning had never attained. The words of Bahá’u’lláh Himself shine clearly in this Tablet when He describes the favor that He granted Salmán; “Despite My own powerlessness, My hardships, My poverty and impoverishment, inasmuch as I desire to reveal what God hath graciously given Me…wherefore shall I impart to thee what God hath made to flow from My pen, that thou mayest pride thyself in that We have chosen thee from amongst the people, that thou mayest be of them that cleave wholly to their Lord, and that thou mayest yield Him thanksgiving for what He hath graciously given thee, and for the verses which He hath sent down unto thee, verses which strike bewildered awe in men of learning.”
Having described the circumstance of this Tablet and its context, we can transition to treating the substance of the Tablet itself, its constituent parts, problems it addresses and questions it resolves. Bahá’u’lláh begins by first naming the Tablet, and describing its purpose in a brief exordium; “Herein”, states Bahá’u’lláh, “is that which shall render the people independent of all things, by which the fragrances of holiness suffuse the words, and from which it is proclaimed that there is no god but Him.”
That there is no god but God, the famous and fundamental testimony of the Islámic Dispensation, retained with equal reverence in Bahá’u’lláh’s Revelation, is thus the central reality to which this Tablet is devoted. This God is, furthermore, not only singular in His kind, but also in Himself and Essence. None is there who is like God, for He exists in His own plane of being; no division has He in His Essence, for multiplicity is an attribute of created things, and not of Him Who is the Uncreated. He is the ultimate origin of all things, for all things must be preceded by a cause, and yet He is entirely exalted beyond all things, for being uncaused by anything. Thus in this confession, that “there is no god but Him” we must first deny that anything is in existence which we know and perceive that is God as He Himself is, that they are, in their inmost essence, dependent on Him for their very existence, while He is, as the ultimate possessor of existence, essentially independent, and therefore unlike anything which can be grasped by human conception. From negation of anything like unto God, we are then confronted with the fact that He must alone be God, and we move from negation of the former to affirmation of the latter. This affirmation, however, is not only realized in the mind, but in the heart, and Bahá’u’lláh therefore does not commence the Tablet immediately with a detailed explanation of Salmán’s query, but rather delivers a homily on the majesty, sovereignty, and transcendence of God, in order to cultivate in the reader a loving adoration and reverence for Him. “None other god is there but Him, the Cherished, the All-Beauteous” Bahá’u’lláh proclaims, “He is verily the Absolute, besides Whom there is none other god, Who hath everlastingly been sanctified of aught else except Him, exalted above the description of anyone beside Him, and Whose knowledge none can surpass…He is verily the Eternal from Whom nothing can depart, unto Whom nothing can be joined, Who is, in truth, the All-Knowing, the Omnipotent, the Supreme.”
But inasmuch as God, Who is one in His kind and incomparable in His reality, is thus unlike any created thing, how then is humanity to recognize Him, know Him and worship Him? How can His reality have an abode in the heart of man, when his mind is utterly powerless to contain Him? For, as Bahá’u’lláh explains, “Nothing but His own Essence can affirm His oneness, and nothing but His own being can truly recognize Him.” Is the existence of the Creator, inferred from the perfections of His creation, simply to be recognized as we do a celestial body forever unseen, though its force be felt? After negating that anything is like unto Him, and affirming, in accord with our ability, that He is, what path is there on which we may travel towards Him?
Transcending this paradox lies Bahá’u’lláh’s explanation, that although God in His Essence cannot be known, the Primal Reality, the First Emanation, the Word, the Effulgence that is revealed from Him and embodied in His Messengers is that by which we may know Him, to the degree which He has ordained for us, and how we might love and draw near to Him, though He be “exalted beyond and above proximity and remoteness.” (Gleanings, Passage XCIII)
“The realization of the mystics in their most exalted station,” Bahá’u’lláh affirms, “the wisdom of the wise in their loftiest conception, is but the recognition of the sign of His effulgence by itself, unto itself. This verily is the extremity of knowledge, if ye be of them that have attained the heights of learning. The doors of union with His Eternal Essence being thus closed, and the wings of human understanding being thus powerless to take flight unto the kingdom of command, He hath sent the Messengers and revealed to Them the scriptures, and hath made the recognition of Them to be the recognition of His own Self. This is that which is accepted from contingent beings, as a token of His generosity…unto all who abide in His earthly dominion.”
Such is the grace of God, as affirmed by Bahá’u’lláh, that He has not suffered His creatures to recognize Him solely by what He has created, and the effulgence of His light reflected therein, but has revealed Himself, Who is the Eternal Unseen, in His Manifestations, and has, throughout the ages of the world, imparted to us His holy will, that His law may be written in our hearts, and we may be in remembrance of Him, and thus be ever near to Him, Who is exalted above all things.
These Manifestations so reflect His light and embody His will and purpose, that, by virtue of that which They reveal, all things receive their due portion of God’s splendor, and thus, “The true mystic doth ascend to a station wherein he seeth the signs of the effulgence of God in all things, and thereby is it established before his eyes that He Himself is—and hath ever been—exalted above all things.” God’s Revelation is thus embodied in His Messengers, and, by them, reflected universally in all things, such that nothing need be deprived of its portion of God’s bounty.
These truths and more besides does Bahá’u’lláh elucidate in the commencing passages of this Tablet. But as we progress further into the pages of this Treatise on God, we find that Bahá’u’lláh begins to treat theological questions which have perturbed believers for centuries, and that have had a particular influence on Islám, such as the reality of God’s attributes. For instance, if God possesses attributes such as “knowing”, “seeing”, “justice” “compassion”, are these attributes possessed of but nominal reality, or do they have an actual existence, and if so, were they created by God at a point in time or, rather, co-eternal with Him, and if the latter, how can God be one if a multiplicity of attributes exist in His Essence?
Bahá’u’lláh explains that God is one in His Essence, and abstracted from any praise which can be uttered. All His attributes which refer to Him, far from being non-existent, testify to the fulness and perfection of His Essence, and are the same as His Essence. When we say that God is just, as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá explained, or merciful, or all-knowing, it is in fact to deny that He is lacking anything whatsoever, and thus all attributes which God possesses and which we affirm, are the tokens of His incomparable, transcendent, and perfect Being. He is, moreover, beyond any profession of unity which might be asserted, and so in the farthest station of human knowledge, we must confess that the highest praise of Him is that we cannot truly praise Him, the best recognition of Him, that He cannot be befittingly recognized.
Therefore, that His servants might recognize Him in His oneness, and in all His attributes which proclaim the perfection thereof, it is incumbent that they acknowledge the oneness of His Messengers, or Manifestations, and make no distinction between Them, insofar as They reveal the self-same light, the self-same undying splendor of the Eternal God. That this light seems to differ, or that the laws which God’s Messengers reveal through time are different, Bahá’u’lláh confirms (CXXXII, Gleanings), is by reason of the changes in His creation, while the light remains the same light, and His laws, one and all, retain the same motivating purpose, that is, to edify the souls of men, and so bring them near to God in their hearts.
This is, Bahá’u’lláh asserts, true recognition of God’s oneness in this station, that is to say, that His Revelation is one, and His laws are one in their purpose.
Another question, vast in its implications, which Bahá’u’lláh treats in this Tablet is that of predestination in contrast to free will. If God in His omnipotence has power over all things, and in His omniscience, knowledge of all things, can we, His creatures, truly have free will, that is, independent volition, or are all our choices in fact preordained by God? Long has this been debated, especially in Christianity and Islám. Bahá’u’lláh answers this quandary by first expounding the purpose of God’s Messengers by saying, “…He, in His majesty, hath sent the Messengers that They may counsel mankind to act in accord with such morality and virtue as is inspired from mindfulness of God, may forbid them from following the dictates of their corrupt inclinations and base desires, and give them the glad-tidings of the meeting with God….”
He continues by saying that God’s Messengers have made known to His servants the paths of guidance and of error, and that God has endowed them with the mind to choose either path for themselves, and grants them a period of time that they may choose. He affirms, “The choice for either of these two paths can only be made after their knowledge and understanding of the paths and of error, and God granteth a period of time that they might choose for themselves. This is a token of His justice unto all….” God, being just, has never wronged any soul to even the smallest extent, and though we are all subject to His judgement and reckoning, He judges us on account of what we have chosen while in awareness thereof. We have, moreover, the liberty to choose the clear guidance of God, or the darkness of our own selves; to be brought near to Him Who is the wellspring of all life, or be made far from Him Who is our Origin and Ultimate End, and, in truth, our Supreme Objective. “He hath granted a period of respite to all creation in His judgement of their deeds until they can recognize the light as distinct from darkness, and this is of His grace, if ye behold the secrets of the Cause through the eyes of wisdom.”
To complete the discussion on Divine Unity, Bahá’u’lláh explains at the end of this Tablet that one who does not manifest the attributes of unity cannot truly be reckoned as a believer in God’s oneness. This recognition is not simply something to be held in one’s mind and affirmed by the tongue, but a reality to be cherished in the heart. To know God as the one and only God, is to love Him above all things, to seek to serve Him, to acknowledge His Messengers, and observe His precepts. As Bahá’u’lláh asserts in the opening passage of the Aqdas, recognition of God and His Manifestations is not complete save by this realization being embodied in one’s life, in one’s acts, and in one’s bearing towards others. For this unity to be real, it must go beyond words, and infuse the heart of man, and thereby pervade every aspect of his being.
Before closing this introduction, mention should be made of the mystic proclamation of Bahá’u’lláh in this Tablet, which anticipated His approaching proclamation in the Garden of Riḍván, and then His general declaration to the rulers and sovereigns of the world in Edirne. Throughout this Tablet, Bahá’u’lláh speaks of the coming “Day of God”, of a new creation who shall recognize His Revelation and its splendor. Consider with what powerful language He expresses the nature of His ever-nearing proclamation, and illustrates the potency, transcendence and glory of His Revelation, the first lights whereof were beginning to dawn: “Do thou hearken on a Day when the Crier calleth forth in the midmost heart of eternity, and the Dove of the Ḥijáz doth warble in the direction of ‘Iráq and summoneth all unto union, the Day when the gates of paradise are opened unto all creation. This is a Day which shall not be followed by the darkness of night….”
To believers such as Salmán, Bahá’u’lláh’s station was fully apparent, for was He not manifesting the supreme proof of Him Whom God shall make manifest, the promised one of the Báb, that being the revelation of verses? This Tablet, therefore, could be regarded as an early proof of His station to the Bábís, in that He possessed the power to unravel mysteries, reveal verses extemporaneously, resolve questions centuries old, while employing language most sweet, pure, and eloquent, equaling in its majesty the profundity of the Bab’s meditations and in its beauty the rhythmic verses of the Qur’án.
To conclude, let consider this closing statement of Bahá’u’lláh’s: “None other god is there but Him; we are all His servants and unto Him shall we all return. Praise be to God, the Lord of the Worlds.”
The Tablet of the City of Divine Unity
Provisional Translation by Joshua Hall, with a passage translated by the Guardian
This is the City of the Divine Unity; enter therein, O ye who believe in God’s oneness, that by the tidings of the Spirit ye may be of them that see aright.
He is the Almighty, the One, the Exalted, the Sublime, the Incomparable.
These are the verses of the Book that have been set forth as a wonder—for there is no fault in the verses revealed by God—to be a means of guidance, illumination and remembrance unto all in the heavens and on earth. Herein is treasured that by which the people shall draw nigh to the court of manifest sanctity. It is verily a Book wherein every wise command is mentioned, and which hath been sent down in truth on the part of Him Who is the All-Wise, the Omniscient. Herein is that which shall render the people independent of all things, by which the fragrances of holiness suffuse the worlds, and from which it is proclaimed that there is no god but Him.
He doeth as He willeth at His own behest, and He doth decree as He pleaseth; none other god is there beside Him, He in Whose possession is all authority and the entire creation. He it is Who giveth life and Who ordaineth death, Who ordaineth death and Who giveth life, and He it is Who is ever-abiding in the realm of eternity. He ruleth as He willeth, and is not to be questioned as to what He willeth, and in His grasp doth lie the kingdom of creation. None other god is there but Him, the Cherished, the All-Beauteous. He is verily the Absolute, besides Whom there is none other god, Who hath everlastingly been sanctified of aught else except Him, exalted above the description of anyone beside Him, and Whose knowledge none can surpass. He encompasseth all things, and none of His creatures shall ever be able to befittingly comprehend His Being. Never shall the certitude of the assured or the understanding of the learned attain His reality. He, verily, is the Possessor of all wealth, the All-Wise, Who is one in His Essence, one is His attributes, and one in His acts, Who hath ever been peerless on the throne of majesty and singular on the seat of glory. He is verily the Eternal from Whom nothing can depart, unto Whom nothing can be joined, Who is, in truth, the All-Knowing, the Omnipotent, the Supreme. Nothing but His own Essence can affirm His oneness, and nothing but His Own Being can truly recognize Him. All that hath been originated and called into being in this world hath been created at the word of His behest. None other god is there but Him, the Almighty, the Munificent.
The realization of the mystics in their most exalted station, the wisdom of the wise in their loftiest conception, is but the recognition of the sign of His effulgence by itself, unto itself. This verily is the extremity of knowledge, if ye be of them that have attained the heights of learning. The doors of union with His Eternal Essence being thus closed, and the wings of human understanding being thus powerless to take flight unto the kingdom of His command, He hath sent the Messengers and revealed to Them the scriptures, and hath made the recognition of Them to be the recognition of His own Self. This is that which is accepted from contingent beings, as a token of His generosity and a testament of His grace unto all who dwell in His earthly dominion. It is as though he hath affirmed the reality of God and the unity of His Essence when one turneth unto Them, and is as though he hath drawn nigh to the court of manifest sanctity when one is brought nigh unto Them. Whoso obeyeth Them hath obeyed God, and whosoever turneth aside from Them hath turned aside from the very face of God, the Almighty, the Omnipotent, the Abiding, the Exalted.
God hath ordained that the recognition of Himself be in the recognition of Them. This is what hath been decreed in the tablets of command by Him Who is the Omnipotent, the All-Powerful; this is the uttermost extremity of the heights which men of understanding can scale, if ye be of them that are possessed of knowledge. God hath not ordained for any soul a portion greater than this, nor any path leading directly unto Him. This is such as He hath written in regard to His own Self, the One True God, if ye be men of insight. How could one who is powerless ascend unto Him Who is the All-Powerful, the Ancient of Days? Say: Glorified be God! All are impoverished before Him and fail to truly know Him. Is it befitting that the evanescent mortal should take flight into the celestial dominion of the Eternal? Say: Glorified be God! All are utterly powerless before Him and bewildered upon contemplating the manifestations of His command.
O Salmán, testify in thy soul and thy spirit, with thy tongue and every limb of thy body, that there is none other god but Him, and that all are but servants unto Him and stand in adoration before Him. Submit then, O Salmán, unto the command of God and such as thou art bidden in the Book, and be not among the heedless. Esteem the eminence of these Days, and forget not in thyself the grace vouchsafed unto them; be among those in gratitude. Detach from thine own self and thy base desires, that God may inspire thee in His grace with that which shall deliver thee from the world. Beware lest thou forbid thyself the sweet-scented breezes of this spirit; indeed, this would be a grievous wrong to thyself. Turn wholly, then, unto God, the King, the Living, the Omnipotent, the Ancient of Days. Say: This is one of the seasons of God which hath been revealed in His grace, and which nothing, whether in the heavens or on earth, can alter. Say: By God, this is the Spring-Time with whose vernal raiment Paradise hath been adorned, and which shall never be followed by Autumn. This is a verily a Season which no earthly season can surpass, for it is sheltered neath the wing of Him Who is the Exalted, the Sublime. O concourse on high, take your share of this vivifying breeze, whereby the foundations of the world are made new, whereby the living breath of the Eternal is breathed into the mouldering bone.
O denizens of the depth of oneness, detach yourselves from such as ye have known and all wherewith ye have testified unto the unity of your Creator, and affirm the oneness of God, in these Days, with that which is revealed to you in truth; be not among the heedless. Take your share, moreover, of this grace into which all things are submerged as bidden by God, the All-Glorious, the All-Praised.
O concourse of eternity, set aside all that ye have taken unto yourselves and turn unto the Garden that hath been opened wide by the name of God, the Exalted, in the heart of transcendent holiness.
O ye that dwell in the heavens! Glorify God by the name whereby the letter Káf is joined with the letters Rá and Mím. Hearken, then, unto the melodies of the spirit sung by this Bird which doth ever warble in all melodies.
Say: O ye that dwell on earth, by God, this verily is the Dove which summoneth you unto the most excellent remembrance, that ye may be among them that have remembered. Nothing doth He desire from you, nor shall He ever seek from you any recompense. His reward lieth in this: martyrdom and the love of God, the All-Glorious, the Omniscient. Say: Whoso hath not sought such as I have presently mentioned in truth, is assuredly in loss. Say: Those who flee from death in the path of their Creator are in doubt as to the meeting with God and are among the ignorant. They have failed to perceive the holy fragrances wafting from this luminous raiment; asleep on the bed of heedlessness, they have turned aside from what is better for them than possession of the entire universe. Say: God shall roll up the earth and all that abideth thereon, and gather all in an inviolable place of holiness. Ye shall then behold the mysteries of the Cause and apprehend such as was ordained by God, the Exalted, the Most Wise, and ye shall lament unto yourselves, saying, “Would that we were not neglectful of God’s remembrance and in manifest error!” I swear by God, were He to remove the veil from the eyes of His servants, and if they would then realize such as their hands had wrought, the spirit would depart from their bodies, and this is a certain truth.
O Salmán, give ear unto Our counsel that we have given thee in grace, and heed what We have bidden thee in justice, and be not of those that slumber. Bring thyself and others to remembrance of what We have sent down unto thee in truth, that haply the people may turn their hearts unto the seat of divine glory.
Now, with regard to what thou hast enquired concerning the verse of the divine oneness and the testimony of the divine transcendence, know thou that this is above My station and that I am but a lowly servant. He it is in Whose hand is the kingdom of knowledge, in Whose grasp is the dominion of wisdom. He knoweth whatsoever pleaseth Him in regard to whatsoever He willeth; none other god is there but Him, the Cherished, the Beauteous. He hath command over all in the heavens and on earth; He verily doth as He willeth, and He is verily the Sovereign, the All-Glorious, the All-Powerful. Nothing whatsoever can escape the embrace of His omniscience, nor can anything frustrate His omnipotence. He is not to be questioned as to His doings, and He is, in truth, the All-Compelling, the Conquering, the Almighty, the Most High.
Despite my own powerlessness, my hardships, my poverty and my impoverishment, inasmuch as I desire to reveal what God hath bestowed upon me in His grace—lest I be among them whom He describeth truly in His inviolable Book as, “Those who are miserly and who command others to give but grudgingly, who verily hold back such as God hath given them in His bounty”—wherefore shall I impart to thee what God hath made to flow forth from My pen, that thou mayest pride thyself in that We have chosen thee from amongst the people, that thou mayest be of them that cleave wholly unto their Lord, and that thou mightest yield him thanksgiving for what He hath graciously given thee, and for the verses which He hath sent down unto thee, verses which strike bewildered awe in men of learning.
Know thou that “oneness” hath myriad senses, worlds, and stations, which none can recognize or reckon save God, the Omnipotent, the Almighty, the Beauteous. And though We desire to expound for thee in this connection what God hath made known unto Us out of His grace, all the parchment of the world cannot bear it, and even if all the oceans were made into ink, it would still be insufficient for these hallowed, lofty, cherished and precious words. For there is no cessation in the effusion of God’s bounty, nor can anything halt the operation of His command. He it is Who expounded from the first Point the knowledge of all that was and shall be, if ye be of them that recognize this truth.
He shall verily set forth from the adornment of this Point such sciences as no ear hath heard of, nor any man, however learned, hath known. Say: If it be His desire to roll up all sciences as have been explicated in this world, from that beginning as hath no beginning, this would indeed be in His power to do so in less than a twinkling of an eye. None other god is there but Him, the Sovereign, the Omnipotent, the Almighty. He it is in Whose grasp is dominion of the kingdom of the heavens and earth. He shall efface whatsoever He willeth, and shall confirm whatsoever He pleaseth, in the power of His might; with Him lieth a Tablet of inviolable holiness.
He it is Who hath everlastingly been sanctified from all that ye can conceive, and Who is invested with an all-embracing knowledge in every matter. The very essence of unity and of limitation is but the same in His sight, and yet the generality of men are asleep on the bed of ignorance. Say: Were He to blot out all the verses asserting His divine Unity, and exchange them for such as affirm limitation, this would be the indubitable truth, and none would have the right to exclaim ‘why’ or ‘wherefore.’ For the truth is such as is revealed from Him, and the reality is such as He hath verily ordained in regard to His own Self. Verily, He the Omnipotent, the Almighty.
Be then assured, O Salmán, that in the treasuries of God’s omniscience I am invested with knowledge before a single letter whereof the learning of no man is worthy of mention, of which neither the testimonies wherewith God’s servants bear witness unto His unity, nor the gem-like utterances wherewith they assert His transcendence, are befitting. Yet inasmuch as His mercy doth surpass the multitude of His creatures, such as the Messengers have bidden them in every age, and the Prophets commanded them in every dispensation, is accepted from them, as a token of His grace unto all created things. Do thou testify that He is immeasurably exalted above the comprehension of any man, that none can attain unto the marvels of His knowledge, and that none in this earthly realm are able to grasp Him, if ye be among them that discern the mysteries of the Cause.
Would that holy doves could be found, or pure and unsullied hearts, that they might soar with this Servant in the atmosphere of this knowledge; yet, alas, the wings of whomsoever should venture to draw nigh are burned away to naught. God shall verily call forth into being such servants as are untouched by the limitations of malicious souls, who shall take flight on the wings of holiness, traverse the realms of eternity, and enter the tabernacle of effulgent glory; who shall neither be engrossed by earthly matters nor diverted by the vanities of the world from the remembrance of God, the Most High, the Omnipotent, the All-Glorious. Whensoever they should hear the melodies of the spirit, their eyes will brim with tears, and they will assuredly rejoice at the good favor of God. They shall verily turn unto the Most Holy, the Most Wondrous Beauty, and shall never exchange the verses of God for aught, though they be tempted with all the heavens and earth. And whensoever they hearken unto the melodies of God, they will incline themselves unto the clime of nearness, and be ever ready to lay down their lives.
It is now seemly that I begin to treat the matter thou didst request before, and set forth a conclusive explanation of that which the hearts of the wise are unable to grasp. Know thou, O Salmán, that We affirm in the station of the unity of God’s Essence that He is verily one in His Essence, and hath eternally been ascendent on the throne of the Divine Oneness and the seat of supreme transcendence, that nothing hath ever been coupled with Him, and that no man shall ever be worthy to be mentioned before Him. He is verily the Everlasting, the Abiding, the Almighty, the All-Bountiful. Forever hath He subsisted by virtue of His own Being, and He hath from everlasting been abstracted from any praise that can be uttered, from the understanding of any soul, and from whatever profession of His unity one might assert; and He is as He was in the eternity of eternities. None other god is there beside Him, the All-Glorious, the All-Wise.
The realization of the most sainted of mystics and the wisdom of the most accomplished of men, shall ever be barred from apprehending this station, for aught else but Him is as nothing before Him and utterly bereft in His presence, and doth exist only by virtue of His command. None other god is there but Him, and His are the realms of Revelation and of creation. He is, verily, informed of all things. He is God; no god is there but Him, Who hath taken unto Himself no associate, no helper, no partner, no peer nor vicegerent. None other god is there but Him, the Almighty, the Powerful, the All-Encompassing.
Thou art then witness that He is one in His attributes, and that all attributes are debarred from entry into the court of His holiness; this is what He hath ordained for His own Self, if ye be of them that apprehend this truth. Recognize, moreover, that the myriad worlds of names and attributes shall never be joined unto His Essence, for His attributes are verily His Essence Itself, and none shall ever know how this can be; in very truth, He is the Almighty, the Transcendent, the Forgiving, the Merciful. All these names and attributes refer to His Prophets, His Messengers, and His Elect, for they are the mirrors that reflect His attributes and are the Daysprings of His names; for otherwise, He, in His majesty, would lie hid and concealed in His Essence and attributes. All these beauteous names and sublime attributes are made manifest in His Prophets, lest any soul be entirely bereft of the knowledge of the divine attributes in the dominion of names; and this is a token of His grace unto all the worlds. It is incumbent on him who is a true believer in this station to affirm that these attributes that are manifest in the Messengers of God are naught but His own attributes—exalted is He—in such wise that he seeth no separation between Himself and Them. Their attributes are revealed at His behest and created in conformity to His will; this, verily, is the true recognition of the oneness of God in this station. This have We graciously related unto thee, that thou mayest be them that are steadfast and unwavering.
He who is possessed of mystic insight seeth naught, whether in the heavens or on earth, save that he behold God standing supreme above it. Everything doth verily exclaim, with the tongue of its inmost being, that there is no god but Him, the Almighty, the All-Glorious. The true mystic doth ascend to a station wherein he seeth the signs of the effulgence of God in all things, and thereby is it established before his eyes that He Himself is—and hath ever been—exalted above all things. Glorified be God and exalted is He, from all that is said by these idolaters.
It is incumbent on him who is believer in the Divine Unity to make no distinction between the words of God, and to unreservedly testify, in the very core of his being, that all the verses are sent down by Him, and that all which is imparted to the messengers is the indubitable truth revealed by God, the All-Encompassing, the Most Powerful. All of the ordained laws are explicated from a single Point, have their origin in God and are referable to Him, and there is no division between them, if ye be of them that are assured. Though they outwardly differ, there is no essential difference in the divine laws as revealed throughout the ages and in various dispensations, for they are all made manifest from the command of God, and God’s faith hath from eternity been one and so shall it remain forevermore. Thus hath it been inscribed by a sanctified and luminous Pen. Beware, O believers in the Unity of God, lest ye be tempted to make any distinction between any of the Manifestations of His Cause, or to discriminate against the signs that have accompanied and proclaimed their Revelation. This indeed is the true meaning of Divine Unity, if ye be of them that apprehend and believe this truth. Be ye assured, moreover, that the works and acts of each and every one of these Manifestations of God, nay whatever pertaineth unto them, and whatsoever they may manifest in the future, are all ordained by God, and are a reflection of His Will and Purpose. Whoso maketh the slightest possible difference between their persons, their words, their messages, their acts and manners, hath indeed disbelieved in God, hath repudiated His signs, and betrayed the Cause of His Messengers. In such wise have We set forth unto thee the paths of knowledge and of wisdom, that haply ye may be of them that have entered the tabernacle of glory.
And whensoever We make mention of this relationship between Them Who are the Gems of the Divine Unity and the Inmost Realities of Singleness, this is in respect to the station of Revelation, inasmuch as all of Them have Their beginning in God and trust in Him, return to Him, rule in accord with His command, and speak with His leave. Thus is the decree of ‘oneness’ pronounced over Them in this regard and confirmed in Them. In such wise have We revealed unto you the verses, that ye may be of them that are assured.
However, in the station of distinction, God causeth some of Them to surpass the others, even as the king surpasseth his subject; in this light, regard the station which some of Them hold to be as the Point which is the source of the letters, the letters having their source in the Point and revolving about it. In like manner, do thou regard the ranks of the prophets. Thou art witness that He Who hath come in the name of ‘Alí is the point round Whom the souls of the messengers revolve. Say then in thyself, “How blessed is God, the Best of creators!” Thou seest that with regard to Their acts, these come forth at His behest, are created by His command, arise in accordance with what He hath ordained, and return to that station that hath been destined for them on His part. Verily, God is my Lord and your Lord, and the Lord of your fathers of old.
Is is possible that anyone even be permitted to move in God’s dominion save that it be decreed by Him in His Book? Say: Glorified be God! All things are set in motion at His behest, and all shall return unto Him. None other god is there but Him; He taketh whatsoever He willeth from whomsoever He pleaseth, and He ordaineth for all things such as He desireth. He is, verily, the Omnipotent, the Omniscient. There is nothing whatsoever which is not encompassed in His omniscience ere it cometh into being and after its extinction, and He doth verily ordain for all of His creatures what is better for them than the vast canopy of the heavens and the myriad climes of the earth; this, verily, is what hath been written by the Pen of wise and incontrovertible decree.
Beware, O ye people of the Bayán, lest this cause perplexity for you, for if these acts were to proceed from God Himself, how great would be the chastisement ordained for His rebellious servants in the fires of Hell!
Know then that He, in His majesty, hath sent the Messengers that they may counsel mankind to act in accord with such morality and virtue as is inspired from mindfulness of God, may forbid them from following the dictates of their corrupt inclinations and base desires, and may give them the glad-tidings of the meeting with God on a Day when the lights doth shine in effulgence from a court of radiant majesty; this, verily, is such as hath been ordained by Him for the worlds.
It is by His Messengers that He hath made known unto His creatures the paths of guidance and of error, and He hath, through the tongues of these Messengers, expounded what He hath desired for His servants, in such wise that there is nothing of good but that it be found in a perspicuous book. Inasmuch as He hath revealed the truth unto His creatures, hath spread out before them the ways of holiness, hath made manifest unto them the paths of the highest Paradise, hath enjoined upon them such as shall enable them to attain unto these holy stations and bring them nigh unto God, the Almighty, the All-Praised, and hath forbidden them what would most assuredly harm them—therefore, those who are obedient unto Him are risen up on high, while those who turn aside in disdain are brought low in abject abasement. Their choice for either of these two paths can only be made after their knowledge and understanding of the paths of guidance and of error, and God granteth a period of time for them to choose for themselves. This is a token of His justice unto all who dwell in this earthly dominion. Wherefore, do thou testify that God hath never wronged any soul even to the extent of a blemish on a date stone, nor shall He ever do so. He, verily, is the All-Bounteous, the Clement, the Munificent. The paths distinguishing between truth and falsehood, guidance and error, being thus revealed before mankind, He doth assist them to obtain such as they desire, and they are subject to His reckoning after their choosing thereof. Hereby have We made clear to you the verses, and have set forth for you words of wisdom, that your hearts and the hearts of those who are nigh unto God may rejoice.
If He were, exalted be His majesty, to prevent His servants from committing a certain deed, while compelling them to do another in accord with what He hath foreordained, then this would assuredly be an act of injustice on His part. Far be it from Him in His glory that He should deal unjustly with any soul to even the most infinitesimal extent. Despite His compelling power over all things and the irresistible realization of His decree with regard to all things, He hath granted a respite to all creation in His judgement of their deeds until they can recognize the light as distinct from darkness, and this is of His grace, if ye behold the secrets of the Cause through the eyes of wisdom.
Whoso doth assert a view in contradiction to what We have revealed unto thee is accounted as a transgressor in the Book of God, and He is clear of him, unless he repent, humbly return unto God and seek His forgiveness. God verily doth forgive whomsoever He willeth, doth deal generously with whomsoever He pleaseth, and doth withhold His bounty from whomsoever He doth decree, and He is not to be questioned as to what He hath willed; in His hand is the kingdom of Revelation and of creation, and He holdeth in His grasp the dominion of the heavens and the earth. He giveth life and He giveth death, then He giveth death and He giveth life; He is the Ever-Abiding Who perisheth not, from Whose knowledge nothing can escape, Whose grace doth encompass all contingent things, Who knoweth full well the secrets of men’s hearts and all that doth proceed therefrom. None other god is there beside Him, the Omniscient, the All-Compelling, the Ordaining, the Subtle, the All-Knowing.
Know, O concourse of the Bayán, that God desireth nothing for His servants save that which shall enable them to advance unto the highest heavens in the realm of eternity, and nothing hath He ordained for them save that which doth deliver them from the self and the base passions thereof, that sovereignty may remain unto God, and that the world and all who abide therein may be purged of the defilement of these infidels.
We bear witness in the station of unity that all acts of devotion return to God, the All-Glorious, the Transcendent, the All-Knowing, and all of them have been manifested from the self-same Cause by Him Who is the All-Wise, the Almighty, and all have their origin in God and return unto Him; indeed, He is the source and ultimate End of all things. Unto Him shall the good word ascend; verily, all are prostrate before His countenance, and it is He Whom all in the heavens and on earth worship. There is nothing that doth not glorify His praise and dread the fury of His scourge. None other god is there beside Him, the All-Glorious, the Self-Subsisting. The necks of all men irresistibly bow before Him in His sovereignty, and every heart doth humble itself before His command and taste of His remembrance. He it is Whom all things have worshiped and Who will ever be worshiped by all in the heavens and on earth.
Verily, those who are established on the throne of unity and the seats of singleness, witness within their own selves that all the devotions wherewith men worship their Creator in their monasteries and temples hath been revealed by God and shall return unto Him, for He Who is the object of worship is but one God. Glory be unto Him in His exaltation! Verily, we all stand in adoration before Him!
And though His servants be heedless of Him whilst performing their devotions and forgetful of Him Who brought them into being and created them, yet the very soul of these devotions and praises hasten unto Him, and verily, all things hasten unto Him. All the acts of worship and devotion which you behold in the communities of the earth, all of them, have been explicated of God in a dispensation of His Messengers; verily, all are servants unto His command. Howbeit, inasmuch as they are shut out as by a veil from Him Who is the Supreme Objective and what He hath ordained for them, they are deprived of what He hath chosen for them in these days, when the tongue of oneness doth sing in myriad melodies in wondrous and enrapturing tones. Thus have they turned away from God after their awaiting His coming, and chosen this for themselves. Thus are they met with the ineluctable decree of God, as ordained in the scrolls of inviolable holiness.
We testify that the stations of unity and the degrees of singleness were all manifest in Him Who is the Divine Beauty, Who was made manifest in the Year Sixty at the behest of God, the Omnipotent, the All-Wise, the All-Knowing. He it is Who is one is His Essence, His attributes and His acts, and Who hath no likeness, no equal, nor adversary. All were created through the operation of His command, and all arise at His behest. None shall ever be a partner with Him in His Cause, nor ever be able to thwart His mandate. He is not to be questioned as to what he Hath done, and all shall verily return to His presence.
Do thou hearken on the Day when the Crier doth call forth in the midmost heart of eternity, and the Dove of the Ḥijáz doth warble in the direction of Iraq and summon all unto union, the Day when the gates of Paradise are opened unto all creation. This is a day which shall not be followed by the darkness of night, and the sun itself doth seek to be illumined thereby; for this is a day lit with the splendour of the divine countenance. By the Lord! This is when the carpet of holiness is outspread by God, the All-Glorious, the Transcendent. This is a Day when none save thy Lord bear His throne, and unto this do We bear witness. That is a Day when stations are revealed wherein unity shall never be mentioned, and unto which the inmost realities of singleness do not attain, into the atmosphere of which the highest realizations of the learned shall not soar, save them whom thy Lord hath willed to exempt. Blessed then is he whose eyes are solaced in this Day by beholding the Face of God, the King, the Most Exalted, the All-Glorious.
O peoples of the east and west! These are the breezes evincing Ḥá’ which wafted over the valley of transcendent glory in the Sinai of the spirit, a spot where none save God, the Almighty, the Kindly, is mentioned. When they attained thereto, they took the letter Sín from the first valley, for the love of Him Who was joined between them in the apex of eternity, when the gathered letters were made manifest in the worlds of the names and attributes at His behest on the part of God, the All-Glorious, the Beauteous. This is a city which, if one ailing enter therein, he is healed and made whole quicker than a word floweth from the tongue. And if the Kingdom of Names were to pass by it, these names, one and all, would become more glorious and would speak of God, in such wise that by a single one of these names all in the heavens and on earth would be revolutionized.
O Salmán! Strive in thyself to enter this city, and if thou cannot, do thou listen with thy spirit, that haply thou mayest circle round it and perceive the sweet-scented breezes thereof wafting over thee. By God! Better is this for thee than that thou possess the dominion of the former and latter generations. This is My command unto thee and unto them that have ascended to an abode of manifest sovereignty.
When thou dost enter the Land of Ṣád, address the letter Zá’ with holy and peerless greeting. Say then: Hearken unto that which the Dove of Holiness doth warble unto thee, when She hath departed from one land and taken flight unto the heaven of exalted majesty, and be grieved not thereby, for therein doth lie the inmost mystery, if ye be of them that see aright. Wherefore, do thou trust in God in thine affairs; fear not any man and be not of them that fear. This is what hath been our counsel aforetime in tablets of inviolable holiness. Set thy gaze and cleave thy heart unto God, the King, the Almighty, the Munificent. By God, the voice of God shall never cease to call out. He verily calleth aloud in ringing tones at all times and whoso doth cleanse his ears from the idle words of His creatures shall verily hear His voice in the realm of glory, shall heed no man of this world, shall be enraptured by the sweet accents of God and turn unto a repository of immutable sanctity.
Likewise, address Mím on Our behalf with praises of wondrous glory. And when thou dost arrive at the Land of Shín, circulate these Tablets amongst those who believe in them, that by these Tablets they may be called unto the remembrance of God and be of them that are mindful of Him. It is better that one be in remembrance of God by virtue of the Tablets He hath revealed than that he possess all that hath been fashioned by the hands of power in the realm of glory, for in them is seen naught save God alone, and aught else beside was created by a letter thereof, if ye be of them that recognize this truth.
Thus have We bestowed Our grace unto thee, O Salmán, in that We have revealed to thee the word of the One True God, have expounded for thee the mysteries of the Divine Unity, and have guided thee unto this path wherein the river Salsabíl doth flow from this spring, and, verily, its waters shall never be exhausted, but rather shall last so long as the command of God himself, and shall endure in the eternity of eternities. Know, then, O Salmán, that one who is bereft of the attributes of unity can never be regarded as worthy of bearing the name of believer in God’s oneness, if ye be of them that perceive. Indeed, one’s affirmation of the Divine Unity cannot be regarded as complete by virtue of a mere verbal confession.
O ye People in Bayán! Strive within yourselves, that ye may be of them that are endowed with the attributes of God; one from whom the sweet-scented breezes of God and His attributes are not perceived, shall never attain unto this station nor ever be numbered with those who believe and uphold the oneness of God.
And with this do We complete Our utterance: None other god is there but Him; we are all His servants and unto Him shall we all return. Praise be to God, the Lord of the Worlds.
1 This could very well be alluding to al-karím, meaning ‘the Munificent’, ‘the Bounteous.’
2 The text in red was translated by the Guardian, as found in Gleanings, passage XXIV.
3 In order to protect the identities of members of His community from hostile persons, Bahá’u’lláh would often refer to people and localities with a title or initial. For instance, Mím could refer to a man named Muḥammad, the Land of Shín, the city of Shiráz in Irán, and the Land of Ṣád, the city of Iṣfahán.