Introduction by Joshua Hall
Bahá’u’lláh revealed the Tablet of Holiness after His exile from Iraq to the Bahá’ís of Arab extraction who were residing in ‘the City’, which is the title with which Bahá’u’lláh often referred to the City of Baghdad. It is a poignant exhortation for the believers to remember the days when Bahá’u’lláh was amongst them, and He calls upon them to remember His edifying teachings. He instructs them to live in concord with one another; to set aright whatever antipathy arises amongst them; to be generous to the poverty stricken; and to deal gently with those in need of counsel and admonition.
In a brief summary, the following Tablet may be seen as moving exposition of certain principles of the faith of Bahá’u’lláh, at a time of when the Iraqi believers were grieving in their separation from Him. The Tablet of Holiness is a homily of edification and solace, and it is my hope that this provisional translation will serve to illustrate both its beauty and lofty moral teaching.
The Tablet of Holiness
Provisional Translation by Joshua Hall
This is the Tablet of Holiness, revealed to the Arabs who dwell in the City, and who believe in God, the Almighty, the Omnipotent, the Powerful.
The Almighty is He.
My Arabs, My loved ones, My chosen ones, My legions, My manifestation! Hearken unto My call, if ye be among them with ears to hear. Have ye forgotten the Songbird of the Cause who flew from amongst you and ascended unto God, the Cherished, the Beauteous? Have ye forgotten the Dove who was with you and warbled before you the verses of God, the All-Knowing, the Omniscient? Have ye veiled yourselves from this Nightingale held captive under the talons of the idolaters? By God, there hath befallen Me such as cannot be described or mentioned; for this have the tears of the near unto God fallen; because of this hath the Hoopoe of the Cause been deprived of the remembrance of Sheba, and the visages of the sanctified stained with blood. By God, the Nightingale of Paradise (Ridvan) hath shut His eyes to the charm of the rose, by reason of the sorrows having befallen this cherished and peerless Beauty. The rivers are cut off from joining the ocean, for joy is cut off from this shining, resplendent Sun.
My beloved ones, forget not My presence in My days, nor deny My compassion unto you and My grace bestowed upon you; be not among the heedless. By God, the Path of God hath returned in the person of Husayn, no rather, the paths of all the messengers, until He arrived in this most remote and distant prison. When you gather in your homes in times of joy, remember My sufferings and the things I endured from the satanic legions. When spring comes upon you and you enter your gardens, meditate on My tribulations and hardships; be of those who remember. Know, then, that although We were amongst you for myriad days and a number of years, ye did not recognize Us, for We had concealed Our countenance from you and all created things. Ye were, therefore, withheld from recognizing God and His beauty, His proof and His glory (bahá), His guidance and His verses, His Servant and His Thrall, if ye be of them who understand.
Say: The Beauty of the Eternal was amongst you, vested with the raiment of God, the Mighty, the Exalted, the All-Wise, and the Lord of all contingent beings was made manifest in the guise of the common man, and ye knew Him not. When the decree was realized and the promise fulfilled, He was revealed from the orient of the divine Essence in great sovereignty.
O beloved of God and His legions! Consecrate your endeavors unto God and His beauty, and whensoever ye should hear His verses, thank God, your Creator, for having enabled you to recognize His own Self after ye had been heedless of Him. Then prostrate yourselves before God outwardly and in your hearts, then praise Him for the revelation of this ancient grace. Beware lest ye be in conflict regarding the Cause of God; forsake ye not the laws of God as are revealed in the Bayán from One Who is mighty and munificent. Then gather together in love, and set right whatever antipathy hath come between you, that you may be as one soul upon an exalted seat of truth. Beware lest ye should exceed the limits which God hath ordained for you and transgress them; be not of them that breed corruption. Should one in destitution come before you, freely give what God hath bestowed upon you and be not of those who withhold their blessings. Should ye discover one who hath been wronged, deal compassionately with him and consort with him with the utmost kindliness. Should ye meet one who is weak in faith, oppose him not, but, rather, call him to remembrance with kindliness and with gentle and eloquent words, that he might recognize the Cause of God within himself and become apprised of that which he is commanded by One who is the Omniscient, the All-Knowing. Beware lest one be in conflict with another, lest a soul wrong another, lest someone be unfaithful to another, lest a friend backbite another, lest one disown their brothers in faith. Be mindful of God in all that We have revealed to you and be among such as are assured thereof. Beware lest you withhold the bounties of your wealth from your kindred amongst you and from the poor and poverty stricken. In all this do We counsel you and God command you, if ye be of those who understand.
Thus do We set forth to you the verses of divine unity and expound that which ye have been commanded, that ye may testify unto the oneness of your Creator, with the tongue of your inner and outer being, in such wise that His signs be revealed from every limb of your bodies, and ye be among those who confirm His singleness. God is the One unto Whom your souls, your hearts, your spirits, your bodies and all that ye possess shall return; indeed, He is the final end of all in the heavens and on earth.
May the Spirit be with you, O Assemblage of Friends, from the least amongst you to the great. Pronounce greetings, on our behalf, unto your kindred and children. This is of My command unto you; observe it, that ye may be among the rightly guided.