“O kind friend! It is dark, but the light of guidance is manifest; it is night, but the morn of divinity is radiant…”

What follows is a provisional translation (in other words, not official or authorized; see here for more) of a Tablet of ʻAbduʼl-Bahá to a Bahá’í of Jewish background by the name of Áqá Sha‘bán. The original text of this Tablet has yet to be published; this photocopy was supplied to me by Flor Toloui, the granddaughter of Áqá Sha‘bán. 

Delivered via Jináb-i-Isḥáq Khán and Áqá Mírzá Ḥabíbu’lláh

To Jináb-i-Áqá Shaʻbán, the son of Jináb-i-Áqá Mírzá Háshim, upon him be the Glory of the All-Glorious

He is God

O kind friend! It is dark, but the light of guidance is manifest; it is night, but the morn of divinity is radiant; it is confinement, but the Abhá Paradise is all-encompassing; it is prison, but the palace of God’s bounty is obtained; it is a restrictive fortress, but it is the arena of the Lord of the chaste. Praised be God that, through the bestowals of Him Who is sanctified from all praise, the regions of the world are redolent with the fragrances of holiness and illumined with the light of the Kingdom, and the breeze of the Most Glorious Paradise is of the utmost freshness and delicacy. Wherefore, yours is a banquet, not a prison; it is a celebration, not a citadel; it is the moon at its zenith, not the nethermost dungeon; it is freedom itself, not the chains and fetters of incarceration. The world of the body is of no significance, and the feelings of this fleeting realm are of no consequence. The spirit must rejoice and discover the meanings of things alluded to; it must turn to the Possessor of the Kingdom and benefit from the celestial dominion. When divine felicity taketh hold, the sorrows of this world will be reduced to nothingness. At present, the limitless grace of the loving Beloved hath made the jailhouse of the wanderers to be an invigorating prairie, and turned the prison of the yearners into a rosy meadow. Hence, the unyielding jail is the highest heaven, and the fortified stronghold the object of the favors of the Greatest Name. What bounty is there greater than this—what bestowal that excelleth it? Unto God be glorification and thanksgiving, and all beneficence is His, for this mighty prison.

Salutations and praise be upon thee.

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

به واسطۀ جنابِ اسحق خان و آقا میرزا حبیب‌الله

جنابِ آقا شعبان، سلیلِ جنابِ آقا میرزا هاشم، علیه بهاءالله الابهی

هوالله

یارِ مهربانا، شب است، ولی نورِ هدی ظاهر؛ شام است، ولی صبحِ احدیّت طالع؛ سجن است، ولی جنّتِ ابهی محیط؛ زندان است، ولی ایوانِ موهبتِ یزدان حاصل؛ حصنِ محصور است، ولی میدانِ سیّدِ حَصور. الحمدلله از الطافِ آن تقدیس الاوصاف اطرافِ جهان به نفحاتِ قدس معطّر و به نورِ ملکوت روشن و نسیمِ جنّتِ ابهی در نهایتِ طراوت و لطافت. بزم است، نه سجن؛ جشن است، نه حصن؛ اوج ماهست، نه قعرِ چاه؛ آزادیست، نه قید و بندِ زندانی. عالم جسم را حکمی نه و احساساتِ جهانِ فانی را تأثیری نیست. روح باید در بشارت باشد و پی به اشارت بَرَد؛ توجّه به حضرتِ ملکوت کند و استفاضه از عالمِ لاهوت نماید. چون فرحِ الهی رخ دهد، احزانِ دنیوی معدوم و مقهور شود. حال فضلِ بی‌پایانِ دلبرِ مهربان سجنِ آوارگان را صحرایِ دلگشا فرموده و زندانِ مشتاقان را گلزار و چمنستان کرده. لهذا سجنِ متین بهشتِ برین است و قلعۀ محکم موردِ الطافِ اسم اعظم. چه نعمتی است اعظم از این؟ چه موهبتی است احسن از آن؟ لَهُ الْحَمْدُ وَ لَهُ الشُّکْرُ وَ لَهُ الْفَضْلُ عَلَی هَذَا السِّجْنِ الْعَظِیمِ وَ الْحَمْدُلِلهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِینَ. وَ عَلَیْکَ التَّحِیَّةُ وَ الثَّنَاءُ.

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