“O merciful God, may my life be offered up for the dust of Thy threshold! Waft Thou a sweet scent to my nostrils…”

What follows is my provisional translation (in other words, not official or authorized; see here for more) of a prayer of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the original text of which has been published in Majmúʻiy-i-Munáját-há: Ḥaḍrat-i-ʻAbduʼl-Bahá, p. 358 (selection no. 319). 

He is the All-Glorious

O merciful God, may my life be offered up for the dust of Thy threshold! Waft Thou a sweet scent to my nostrils and guide me to Thine abode. No recourse have I; grant Thou a remedy. Vagrant am I; give me a heart torn to shreds.* Be Thou the companion of my soul, a comfort and joy to my conscience. When Thou showest bounty, it bringeth closeness, and when Thou dealest justly, it striketh terror. Thou art the Merciful, the Generous, the Kind.

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* This imagery may be puzzling to the reader unfamiliar with the Persian poetic tradition. cf. Rumi: “Which heart hasn’t been torn to shreds by God’s love?” (Mathnaví, Book 1, verse 22, second half-verse), and “O my shredded heart, seeing Him is my remedy! / It’s He that’s my support; don’t put your reliance on this world!” (ghazal no. 1827, verse 6). The significance of this particular sentence from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá may be that, when one’s heart has been torn to shreds by God’s love, one can sympathize with others who have met the same fate as a result of their love. Another possibility is that, when a heart is torn to shreds, the individual pieces can commiserate with each other. In both of these cases, the vagrant, typically a lonely wanderer, would have others to talk to about his or her love of God. It is also probably the case that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá used ṣad-párih here, translated as “torn to shreds,” to rhyme with chárih (“remedy”) in the preceding sentence. I am grateful to Naeem Nabiliakbar for his helpful explanation of these points. Abir Majid has offered yet another possible explanation of “a heart torn to shreds,” which is that a heart filled with love for the unattainable Beloved will burst at the seams and break into a hundred pieces, which is the literal meaning of ṣad-párih

A typescript of the original Persian text of this prayer appears below. 

هوالأبهی

ای یزدانِ رحمن، جانم فدای خاکِ آستانت، بویِ خوشی به مَشامم رسان و به کوی خویش دلالت فرما، بیچاره‌ام چاره‌ای کن، آواره‌ام دلِ صد پاره ده، مونس جانم باش و راحت و مَسرّتِ وجدانم گرد، چون عنایت کنی اُنس است و چون عدالت نمائی وحشت است. توئی رحیم و کریم و مهربان.

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