What follows is my provisional translation (in other words, not official or authorized; see here for more) of passages from a Tablet of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá published in Muntakhabátí az Makátíb-i-Ḥaḍrat-i-‘Abdu’l-Bahá, vol. 4, pp. 204–206 (selection no. 174).
. . . during His days in Iraq, the Blessed Beauty went into seclusion for two years. So concealed was the nominee of the Báb [Mírzá Yaḥyá] behind the veil of fear that all reference to his name and every trace of his being had completely vanished. Matters came to such a pass that no mention of the Cause of God remained. Only a few believers were left, dispirited and hidden in the corner of obscurity, until the Ancient Beauty—may my life be offered up for His loved ones—made His return. As soon as He entered Iraq, a ray of such dazzling brilliance was cast upon the world that it enraptured and astounded the minds of men. The name of the Cause of God rose to fame, and the renown of the dawning of the Sun of Truth reached East and West alike. Alone and unaided, relying only on His own holy Self, He arose before the peoples of the earth and set Himself to openly and uninhibitedly exalting the Word of God in this world. Every head was bowed in humility to Him; every neck was bent before Him, and every voice was lowered in His presence. Meanwhile, the Báb’s nominee crept about on the fringes of oblivion, assuming, out of fear, the name of Ḥájí ‘Alí in Basra and the Súqu’s-Shuyúkh, and plying the merchant’s trade selling shoes and plaster. Even the Bábís will attest to the truth of this matter; none can deny it.
And when, through the power of the Greatest Name, the Cause of God acquired a distinct greatness, and all cause for concern had disappeared, that nominee came onto the scene. At present, residing as he doth in Cyprus under British protection, he engageth in correspondence, for there is nothing at all to fear; there is religious liberty and all peoples are free. My God! This “honorable person” hath lived in Cyprus for nearly forty years. What power hath he demonstrated in the light of the complete freedom accorded both to religions and to people themselves, which allow anyone to openly adduce proofs at houses of worship, as well as other public settings and venues? Was this “honorable person” able to guide anyone, or unloose his tongue in oratory at a gathering or assemblage? Did anyone believe him to be possessed of even the slightest knowledge, or maintain that he had done anything mentioned in a newspaper or anywhere altogether? Is it possible to imagine an impotence greater than this? No, by God!
The Blessed Beauty, on the other hand, stood before the dwellers of the earth with the utmost power while in the Most Great Prison, and composed Tablets which He sent to various kings and rulers. He even sent a special Epistle to the late Náṣiri’d-Dín Sháh, and these Tablets were published throughout all of Europe. In short, it can truly be said that He exalted His blessed Cause while chained and fettered in the Most Great Prison. What power is there greater than this? By God, besides Whom there is none other! If there be so much as an ounce of fairness, this proof alone would suffice, and no need would there be for any other. From the beginning of creation until now, none of the holy Manifestations of God exalted His Cause in His day while shackled and manacled in a most mighty prison. This, moreover, hath occurred in our time; it is not a story or reported account that might evoke the smallest measure of doubt. The fame of God was raised from the Most Great Prison; from within that Prison did the renown of His Cause become known the world over, and beneath chains and fetters did His voice stir the whole earth to movement. Be fair, then, O ye endued with fairness!
Setting all this aside, ye are surely aware of the current condition of the Báb’s nominee. It is readily apparent that he is in evident loss. Each of his sons is in a strange state: one hath become a Christian, another a devotee in a church; one is a frequenter of a tavern, another an attendant in a house of idols. . . . My meaning is that, if such a person as he is to be emulated, then woe to his followers, and alas for his sons and daughters! . . .
A typescript of the original Persian and Arabic text of these passages appears below.