“…Thou hadst inquired about astronomy. Whatever dependeth on mathematics is acceptable…”

What follows is a provisional translation (in other words, not official or authorized; see here for more) of a Tablet of ʻAbduʼl-Bahá, the original text of which is published in Makátíb-i-Ḥaḍrat-i-‘Abdu’l-Bahá, vol. 3, p. 256

I am most grateful to Kamran Mesbah for reviewing and offering his informative comments on the first half of the translation, which I drew on for endnotes #1–4. Those interested in the subjects to which ‘Abdu’l-Bahá refers in this Tablet are encouraged to consult the following entries on Wikipedia: History of Astronomy; Astrology and Astronomy; Astrological Aspect; and Astrology in Medieval Islam, which includes a link to Arabian Astrology by James H. Holden, a particularly relevant reference. See also ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, ch. 69: “The Influence of the Stars and the Interconnectedness of All Things.” Other helpful sources for the Bahá’í view of the harmony between science and religion include Peter J. Khan, “Some Aspects of Bahá’í Scholarship” (Journal of Bahá’í Studies 9:4, 1999), pp. 43–64, and Steven Phelps’s comments on the harmony of science and religion expressed in several videos, such as “Baha’i Blogcast with Rainn Wilson – Episode 37: Physics and Mysticism with Steven Phelps” (YouTube; 26 July 2019). 

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He is God

O servant of God! Thy letter was received, and owing to lack of time, I am writing this brief response.

Thou hadst inquired about astronomy. Whatever dependeth on mathematics is acceptable, whereas the things previously established by the astrologers of old—the immense effects they deemed inherent in quadratures and trines,[1] the conjunction[2] of celestial bodies at specific moments and positions in their movement along the belt of the zodiac, whether the relative motion of those bodies is prograde,[3] and the influence of certain times and designated periods,[4] of which they have written and which are mentioned in available books—are figments of the imagination and products of the thinking of former generations, and are bereft of a firm foundation. With regard, however, to those ancients who, through the power of severance, unraveled some of the mysteries of existence and discovered certain relationships and connections among living things—they became privy to some of the hidden secrets latent within the realities of things, and inferred certain future occurrences from the ties that exist among beings. This is undeniable, as in “the Epistle to the uncle,” there is mention of the rising star that indicated the birth of Jesus Christ.[5] But concerning those vain imaginings which are found in astrological treatises, they should not be relied on at all.

As to the matter of sneezing,[6] this is sheer superstition. This blessed Dispensation hath done away with these superstitions; to mention them is not permissible.

Upon thee be salutations and praise.


[1] These are terms of art that refer to the apparent alignment of celestial objects in a square or triangular pattern (respectively) on the belt of the zodiac as seen from the earth.

[2] A reference to the apparent proximity between celestial bodies as seen from the earth.

[3] A reference to the motion of two celestial objects in the same direction as seen from the earth. The opposite is retrograde. This can be the result of the relative motion between the two objects even if they are moving in the same direction.

[4] A reference to the astrological notion that celestial events determine outcomes that can either be favorable or unfavorable. Almanacs and other calendars forecasting the auspiciousness or inauspiciousness of certain times (also known as benefic or malefic times) based on the alignment of celestial bodies, not unlike today’s horoscopes, were common in the Muslim world.

[5] By “the Epistle to the uncle” is meant Bahá’u’lláh’s Kitáb-i-Íqán, addressed to a maternal uncle of the Báb; refer to ¶¶ 66–70: https://www.bahai.org/r/989474293

[6] The inquirer’s specific question to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá about sneezing is not known. However, it has historically been (and may still be) a popular superstition in Iran that sneezing was a bad omen.

A complete typescript of the original Persian text of this Tablet appears below. 



ای بنده الهی، نامۀ شما وصول يافت و از عدم فرصت جواب مختصر مرقوم می‌گردد.

از علم نجوم سؤال نموده بودی. آنچه تعلّق برياضيات دارد آن مقبول و آنچه از پيش منجّمين قديم تأسيس نموده اند و تأثيرات عظيمه در تربيع و تثليث دانسته و از قران کواکب در مواقع و سير و حرکت در منطقة البروج و استقامت نجوم و تأثير ساعات و تخصيص اوقات مرقوم نموده‌اند و در کتب موجوده مذکور، عبارت از تصوّرات و افکار اسلافست و اساس متين غير موجود. ولی نفوسی از پيشينيان بقوّه تبتّل اطّلاع بر بعضی از اسرار کون يافته و از روابط و تعلقاتی که در بين موجوداتست اطّلاعی حاصل نموده آنان مطّلع بر بعضی اسرار خفی که در حقايق اشياست واقف گشتند و بعضی وقايع آتيه از روابط موجودات استنباط نمودند. اين محل انکار نه چنانکه در رسالۀ خال در ذکر نجم بازغ که دلالت بر ولادت حضرت روح مينمود مرقوم. امّا باوهامات مندرجه در کتب نجوميّه قطعيّا اعتماد نه.

وامّا مسألۀ عطسه وهم صرف است. اين دور مبارک اين اوهام را از ميان برد ذکرش نيز جائز نه.

وَ عَلَيْکَ التَّحِيَّةُ وَالثَّنَاءُ