A Prayer of the Bab for Haji Mirza Jani

What follows is my provisional translation (in other words, not official or authorized; see here for more) of a prayer of the Báb, the original text of which is held, in manuscript form, at the Cambridge University Library (F31.040r). In A Partial Inventory of the Works of the Central Figures of the Bahá’í Faith, Steven Phelps identifies this prayer as having been revealed for Ḥájí Mírzá Jání, perhaps according to Muḥammad Labíb, who makes the same assertion in Majmú‘iy-i-Muṣavvar-i-‘Ahd-i-A‘lá, vol. 1, p. 459. 

I am grateful to Natascha Madjidi, who obtained a photocopy of the aforementioned manuscript page from the Cambridge University Library, and to Hushiar Madjidi for sending me that scan. Due to copyright reasons, I have refrained from making it publicly available here, and have instead used it to prepare a fully vocalized and punctuated typescript that is included underneath the English translation. 

I also wish to thank Farnaz Masumian, Ruwa Pokorny, Dergham Aqiqi, and Khazeh Fananapazir for graciously taking the time to review my typescript with reference to the manuscript, offering many insightful comments and suggested edits that improved and enriched the translation below. 

In the Name of God, the Most Effulgent, the All-Glorious[1]

How can I call on Thee, O my God, after I have rebelled against Thee, neglected the Repositories of Thy decree, and turned away from the Seats of Thy communion? And yet, how can I refrain from calling on Thee, aware as I am of the bountiful expressions of Thy mercy and the manifest demonstrations of Thy grandeur, which attract all mankind to the habitation of Thy love? I seem to regard Thy grace unto the rebel as akin to the grace Thou showest the obedient, inasmuch as rebellion cannot harm Thee nor belief profit Thee; Thou, in truth, art independent of all things. Thou hast bidden all humanity to observe Thine ordinances, that thereby the people may be distinguished from one another. Glorified, immensely glorified art Thou! Through Thy remembrance of me, I yearn for Thy presence, and through Thine attraction of me, I place my trust in Thy grace and bounteousness. Unto Thee be the loftiest laudation, exalted above all things, and also the greatest of praises, supreme beyond all things! Were I to confess to Thy oneness before Thee, verily mine own self would hinder me from having any knowledge of Thy Reality or seeking the inaccessibility of Thy presence, for Thy Reality is an eternal Essence, a concealed quintessence, through Whose existence all living things were differentiated and all contingent beings deterred from the mention of certitude.[2] And should I attempt to utter any praise in glorification of Thee, the limitation of that same self of mine would prevent me therefrom, inasmuch as thy praise would ill beseem the Holy Court of thy Lord.[3] Exalted, immeasurably exalted art Thou above it! I can find no way to ascend unto Thee, and no guide can accomplish this, O Glorious One!

I beseech Thee, O my God, by Thy hidden Name and Thy treasured attribute, to bless Muḥammad and His family with all Thy fragrances and effulgences, as well as Thy clear evidences and perspicuous signs. Thou verily art God, the All-Powerful, the Almighty. O my God! Thy decree giveth unto each his due; Thine ordainment is justice unto all things, and Thy bounty hath encompassed all things. Therefore I beseech Thee, O my God, by the immensity of Thy mercy and the pervasiveness of Thy knowledge, by the utmost degree of Thy munificence and the furthest extremity of Thy good-pleasure, to bless the holy leaf of the Primal Tree, which is neither of the East nor the West,[4] with whatsoever pertaineth unto Thee from Thy matchless savors and ancient wonders. I entreat Thee, moreover, to pardon me and my parents—along with whomsoever Thou lovest, at this Hour, upon this earth—through Thy benevolence, Thy generosity, and the sovereignty of Thy self-subsistence. Thou verily art God, the Omnipotent, the Beneficent.


[1] In Majmú‘iy-i-Muṣavvar-i-‘Ahd-i-A‘lá, vol. 1, p. 459 (to which Dr. Khazeh Fananapazir kindly called my attention), Muḥammad Labíb has the opening words of this Writing as bismi’lláhi’r-raḥmáni’r-raḥím (“In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful”), as does Steven Phelps in his Partial Inventory of the Bahá’í Writings (version 2.02, 3 November 2020; see catalog ID no. BB00462). However, the manuscript held at Cambridge (F31.040r) clearly begins with bismi’lláhi’l-bahíyyi’l-abhá, so it is the latter that has been used in the Arabic typescript and English translation here.

[2] cf. Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 197: “Praise be unto Thee! The way in which Thou hast called into being Thy creation out of non-existence preventeth all created things from recognising Thee, and the manner in which Thou hast fashioned the creatures, with the limitations imposed upon them, proclaimeth their utter nothingness before the revelations of Thine attributes” (with thanks to Dr. Khazeh Fananapazir for this cross-reference), the original Arabic of which is as follows:

سُبحانَکَ اللّهُمَّ يا محبوب مِن اَنْ اَذکُرَکَ بِذِکری ايّاکَ اَو اَن اَثنی فی مُلکِکَ اِذا اَثنی اَعرِفُ حَدَّ کينونيّتی باِنَّها مَعدُومةٌ عِنْدَکَ و اَشْهَدُ عَلی ذاتِيَّتی باَنَّها مقطوعَةٌ عَن ابداعِک فَکَيفَ مَن عَرَفَ حَدَّ نفْسِها و شَهَدَ عَلی مقامِ اِنّيّتِها يَقدِرُ اَن يَستَعرِجَ مِنْ حَدِّ فنائهِ و يَصِفَکَ بما هُوَ يَعرِفُ مِنْ آثارِ فَنائِهِ فَسُبحانَکَ مِنْ اَن اَکونَ ذاکِرَک اَوْ مثنَيکَ و لَو کانَ الکلُّ يَتَقَرّبُونَ اِلَيکَ بِتَوحيدَکَ فانّی اَتَقَرَّبُ بِکَ باِعترافی بِشِرکی عِندَکَ باَنَّ توحيدَکَ لايُمکِنُ لِغَيرِکَ لِانَّ ذِکرَ الغَير اَعلي دَليلٍ بالامتناعِ

[3] Notice the fascinating change in the addressee here (from “glorification of Thee” to “thy praise . . . thy Lord”). Abir Majid has proposed the intriguing possibility that, at this point in the prayer, the speaker briefly shifts to the Báb’s own “self,” who tells Him that His praise will not reach His Lord. This reading can be extrapolated more generally to where every reciter of this prayer is reminded by his or her own “self,” at this juncture, that his or her praise can never ascend to God, Who transcends all things.

[4] cf. Qur’án 24:35.

A complete typescript of the original Arabic text of this prayer appears below (all punctuation and Arabic vocalization mine, prepared with the help of the friends mentioned in the prefatory note to the provisional translation).

بِسْمِ اللهِ الْبَهِيِّ الْأَبْهَي

يَا إِلَهِي كَيْفَ أَدْعُوكَ بَعْدَ عِصْيَانِي نَفْسِكَ وَإِغْفَالِي عَنْ مَوَاقِعِ حُكْمِكَ وَإِدْبَارِي عَنْ مَقَاعِدِ مُنَاجَاتِكَ، وَكَيْفَ لَا أَدْعُوكَ بَعْدَ عِلْمِي بِعِنَايَاتِ رَحْمَانِيَّتِكَ وَمَظَاهِرِ كِبْرِيَائِيَّتِكَ الَّتِي تَجْذِبُ الْكُلَّ إِلَى مَقَامِ مَحَبَّتِكَ. كَأَنِّي أَرَى فَضْلَكَ لِلْعَاصِي كَفَضْلِكَ لِلْمُطِيعِينَ، لِأَنَّ الْعِصْيَانَ لَا يَضُرُّكَ وَالْإِيمَانَ لَا يَنْفَعُكَ. إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ الْغَنِيُّ عَنْ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ. وَلَقَدْ أَمَرْتَ الْكُلَّ بِأَحْكَامِكَ لِتُمَيَّزَ النّاسُ بِهَا. فَسُبْحَانَكَ سُبْحَانَكَ بِذِكْرِكَ نَفْسِي أَرْجُو لِقَائَكَ وَبِجَذَّابِيَّتِكَ نَفْسِي اِعْتَمَدْتُ عَلَى فَضْلِكَ وَوَهَّابِيَّتِكَ. فَلَكَ الْحَمْدُ الْعَالِي فَوْقَ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ وَالثَّنَاءُ الْأَكْبَرُ بَعْدَ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ؛ إِنِ اعْتَرَفْتُ لَدَيْكَ بِتَوْحِيدِكَ، لَيَزْجُرُنِي نَفْسِي لِعِلْمِي بِكَيْنُونِيَّتِكَ وَطَلَبِ الْاِمْتِنَاعِ فِي بَيْنِ يَدَي طَلْعَةِ حَضْرَتِكَ، لِأَنَّ كَيْنُونِيَّتَكَ ذَاتِيَّةٌ أَزَلِيَّةٌ وَسَاذَجِيَّةٌ كَافُورِيَّةٌ الَّتِي بِإِنِّيَّتِهَا مُفَرِّقَةُ الْمَوْجُودَاتِ وَمُصَدِّدَةُ الْمُمْكِنَاتِ فِي ذِكْرِ الْإِيقَانِ. وَإِنْ أَقُولْ فِي ثَنَائِكَ ذِكْرٌ، فَيَمْنَعُنِي حَدُّ نَفْسِي، بِأَنَّ ذِكْرَكَ لَا يَلِيقُ بِسَاحَةِ قُدْسِ رَبِّكَ. فَسُبْحَانَكَ وَتَعَالَيْتَ، مَا أَجِدُ لِنَفْسِي السَّبِيلَ وَلَا يَقْدِرُ الدَّلِيلُ بِالصُّعُودِ إِلَيْكَ يَا جَلِيلٌ.

فَاسْئَلُكَ اللَّهُمَّ بِاسْمِكَ الْمَكْنُونِ وَوَصْفِكَ الْمَخْزُونِ أَنْ تُصَلِّي عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ وَآلِهِ بِكُلِّ نَفَحَاتِكَ وَتَجَلِّيَّاتِكَ ثُمَّ ظُهُورَاتِكَ وَبَيِّنَاتِكَ. إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ اللهُ الْمُقْتَدِرُ الْعَزِيزُ. يَا إِلَهِي إِنَّ قَضَائَكَ حَقٌّ لِكُلِّ نَفْسٍ وَتَقْدِيرَكَ عَدْلٌ لِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ وَفَضْلَكَ قَدْ أَحَاطَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ. فَاسْئَلُكَ اللَّهُمَّ بِسَعَةِ رَحْمَتِكَ وَإِحَاطَةِ عِلْمِكَ وَغَايَةِ جُودِكَ وَمُنْتَهَى رِضَاكَ أَنْ تُصَلِّي عَلَى الْوَرَقَةِ الْمُبَارَكَةِ مِنَ الشَّجَرَةِ الْأَوَّلِيَّةِ لَيْسَتْ بِشَرْقِيِّةٍ وَلَا غَرْبِيَّةٍ بِمَا أَنْتَ عَلَيْهِ مِنَ النَّفَحَاتِ الْبَدِيعَةِ وَالْكَرَامَاتِ الْقَدِيمَةِ، وَأَنْ تَغْفِرَ لِي ولوالِدَيَّ وَمَنْ تُحِبُّ فِي هَذِهِ السَّاعَةِ عَلَى تِلْكَ الْأَرْضِ بِمَنِّكَ وَجُودِكَ وَسُلْطَانِ قَيُّومِيَّتِكَ. إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ اللهُ الْمُقْتَدِرُ الْمَنَّانُ.