“Happiness lieth in knowledge, and knowledge in piety, and piety in detachment…”

What follows is my provisional translation (in other words, not official or authorized; see here for more) of a Tablet of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the original text of which is published in Áhang-i-Badí‘, year 23, nos. 11–12 (Sulṭán–‘Alá’ 125 BE), p. 314

NOTE: In the time since I first posted this provisional translation, a friend of mine shared this letter from the Bahá’í World Center, in which they state that they have not been able to authenticate this Tablet. 

He is the All-Glorious

Happiness lieth in knowledge, and knowledge in piety, and piety in detachment and contempt for all the vanities of this world. Detachment bringeth the love of God; love demandeth the recitation of verses and prayers, and attraction to those verses refineth one’s character. To be truthful on the path of God, to deal fairly with others, to subdue one’s lower nature, to keep company with the virtuous, to avoid ignorant fools, to show respect to one’s elders and compassion to them that are younger, to counsel one’s friends, to be forbearing with one’s foes, to be generous to the poor, to show kindness to the peoples of the world, and to guide them that have gone astray—this is the greatest felicity, the supreme gift, the imperishable bestowal. Well is it, then, with them that act accordingly.

A typescript of the original Persian text of this Tablet appears below (all punctuation mine). 


سعادت در علم است، و علم در تقوی، و تقوی در انقطاع و تنفّر از جمیع زخارف دنیا، و انقطاعْ عشق الهی آرد؛ عشقْ تلاوت آیات و مناجات خواهد، و جذبۀ آیاتْ تهذیب اخلاق کند. یعنی صدق در راه حق و انصاف با خلق و قهر با نَفْس و صحبت با نیکان و دوری از جاهلان و حُرمت مهتران و شفقّت با کهتران و نصیحت با دوستان و حلم با دشمنان و بذل بر فقیران و محبّت با اهل جهان و هدایت گم‌گشتگان، این است سعادت عظمی و عطیۀ کبری و موهبت لاتفنی. فطوبی للعاملین.

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