Lawh-i-Qiná‘ (Tablet of the Veil)

What follows is my provisional translation (in other words, not official or authorized; see here for more) of a Tablet of Bahá’u’lláh, the original text of which is published in Majmú‘iy-i-Alváḥ-i-Mubárakih, pp. 6687. This important Tablet, revealed in a mixture of Arabic and Persian and identified by Shoghi Effendi as one of the “Best-Known Writings of Bahá’u’lláh,” was written toward the beginning of the ‘Akká period (c. 1869–71) for Ḥájí Muḥammad Karím Khán Kirmání (pictured here), the leader of the Shaykhís at the time. 

To summarize the genesis and thrust of this Tablet: Bahá’u’lláh rebukes Karím Khán for having ignorantly and erroneously scolded a Bahá’í, who had written him a letter that began with a figurative (but purportedly incorrect) use of the word “veil” (qiná‘) and was intended to guide Karím Khán to the Faith. Bahá’u’lláh spends most of the Tablet highlighting the baselessness of this criticism by Karím Khán and others he raised previously against the Báb’s Writings, demonstrating how similar they were to the objections raised against the Qur’án by pagan Arabs during the time of Muḥammad, and admonishing him to look beyond the outward meanings of words and grasp their inner significances. In more than one instance, Bahá’u’lláh tells Karím Khán quite pointedly that he has no understanding of such literary devices as simile, metaphor, allegory, and rhetoric, and that he would not have caviled so foolishly if he had “trodden the paths of those versed in literature.”

In her brief survey of this Tablet (‘Andalíb, year 18, no. 70, Spring 1999, pp. 2628), Mehri Afnan has identified three “parts” to it: The first (¶¶ 1–3) is a preface to the Tablet itself—apparently revealed in the voice of Mírzá Áqá Ján, the amanuensis of Bahá’u’lláh—that explains the reason for its revelation; the second (¶¶ 4–43) is the main text of the Tablet itself; and the third (¶¶ 44–47) is the conclusion, in which Bahá’u’lláh quotes from a writing of Shaykh Aḥmad that foreshadows the advent of the Qá‘im in highly enigmatic language, and then makes some closing remarks which pertain to that writing. This third part is extremely difficult to understand, and I feel deeply fortunate to have benefited from the foundational scholarship of Stephen Lambden (available here and here), the late Denis MacEoin (published in Rituals in Babism and Bahaism, pp. 145153), and Núráníyyih Majídí Maẓlúmí (who has explored it extensively in Durríyyát-i-Mastúrih dar Maktúb-i-Shaykh Aḥmad), without which I am certain most of this cryptic writing would have been incomprehensible to me. I have based both my translation of this writing by Shaykh Aḥmad and the vocalization of the corresponding typescript in Arabic on how Maẓlúmí has presented it in her magisterial work, though I did also consult an earlier rendering of it done some thirty years ago by MacEoin (Rituals, p. 147). I recommend that the reader refer to endnotes 80–119 to make sense of the many abstruse ideas discussed in this third part of the Tablet. For instance, endnote 94 clarifies the meaning of “the mystery of the Great Reversal in the Sign of the Sovereign,” a central concept in this writing by Shaykh Aḥmad. 

Sources for further reading on the Lawḥ-i-Qiná‘ include Sholeh Quinn, “Towards a Contextualization of Baha’u’llah’s Lawh-i Qina'” (Lights of ‘Irfán, vol. 11, pp. 257–70); ‘Abdu’l-Ḥamíd Ishráq-Khávarí, Muḥáḍirát, vol. 2, pp. 587 and 662; and idem, Ganj-i-Sháygán, p. 176

I am grateful to Khazeh Fananapazir for acquainting me with the aforementioned book by Maẓlúmí; for pointing out many of Bahá’u’lláh’s subtle allusions to the Qur’án in this Tablet, which have been cited in the endnotes to this translation; and for his suggested improvements to the translation itself. 

Due to the considerable length of this Tablet, I have divided the translation below into paragraphs for ease of reference. Paragraph 25 (“For twelve years We tarried in Baghdád…”) was translated by Shoghi Effendi in The Promised Day Is Come, and has been colored in red to distinguish it from the rest of the rendering of this Tablet, which is provisional. 

—Adib Masumian
19 October 2022

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[¶ 1]

One of the loved ones of God[1] wrote a letter to Ḥájí Muḥammad Karím Khán, in which he posed a number of questions. According to what hath been heard, the aforementioned Khán was oblivious of the meanings; he clung to the words themselves and caviled at them,[2] that he might refute the truth with what he possesseth.[3] Heedless was he, however, of the fact that God establisheth the truth through His Words and rooteth out the disbelievers.[4]

[¶ 2]

The beginning of that letter was adorned with these words: “Praise be to God, Who hath lifted the veil [qiná‘] from the faces of His loved ones.” The aforementioned Khán objected to this, remarking that this wording is erroneous, and that the author of this letter appeareth not to have understood a single letter of the learning and terminology of men, inasmuch as the veil is specific to the heads of women. He protested against the words, unaware that he himself hath remained bereft both of true knowledge and the sole Object thereof. In this day, the companions of God regard as shameful those disciplines which he hath deemed to be knowledge. The knowledge which is beloved hath been what guideth men to the truth.[5] When a soul attaineth not thereto [because of some other knowledge], that knowledge hath been and will continue to be the most grievous of all veils.[6]

[¶ 3]

His objections have not been seen apart from this one remark, and even that was merely heard. Since it reached the Most Sublime Vision, the Manifestation of the Cause revealed, in response to his caviling, the following Tablet—supremely wondrous, holy, and pure—that perchance men may not, as a result of such objections as these, be deprived of the King of names and attributes; that they may distinguish the exalted Word from one exceedingly base;[7] and that they may turn in the direction of God, the Inaccessible, the Most High. “He who is led aright is guided to his own behoof,”[8] and as for him who turneth away, “verily God is the Self-Sufficient, the All-Praised.”[9]

[¶ 4]

In the Name of God, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise

O thou who art renowned for thy learning and yet standest at the precipice of the pit of ignorance![10] We have heard that thou hast repudiated God and objected to one of His loved ones who had sent thee a noble epistle with the intention of guiding thee unto God, thy Lord and the Lord of all worlds. Indeed, thou hast protested against him and followed the ways of the ignorant. Thereby hast thou forfeited thine esteem among the servants of God, for in thy caviling We find thee in grievous folly. Thou knowest not the conventions of the people or their expressions, nor hast thou entered the garden of meaning and utterance; thou art of the unmindful. 

[¶ 5]

Thou hast discerned neither eloquence nor rhetoric,[11] neither allegory nor reality, neither simile nor metaphor. Hence, We shall impart unto thee what shall apprise thee of thine ignorance and make thee fair-minded. Hadst thou trodden the paths of those versed in literature, thou wouldst not have objected to the word “veil,” nor wouldst thou have become a disputer,[12] and it is thus that thou hast also caviled at the Words of God in this wondrous Revelation. 

[¶ 6]

Hast thou not heard mention of “the veiled one,” known as Muqanna‘ al-Kindí?[13] His name was Muḥammad, son of Ẓafar, son of ‘Umayr, son of Fir‘án, son of Qays, son of Aswad, and he was a man of great fame. Should it be Our wish to name his forefathers one by one until the First Manifestation[14] is reached, We, verily, would be capable of this through what Our Lord hath taught Us of the knowledge of ancient times and those more recent—this in spite of the fact that We have not studied your branches of learning, and unto this beareth witness God, the All-Knowing. 

[¶ 7]

He was, moreover, the most handsome of men, the most perfect in character, and the most balanced in posture. Peruse thou the books of the people, that thou mayest know and be of them that comprehend. When he would remove the veil from his face, he would be met with “the evil eye” and become ill.[15] For this reason, he never took a step unless he was veiled—in other words, only when he had covered his face. Thus hath it been recounted in the texts of genuine Arabs, men of letters with skillful command of language. Read them, that haply thou mayest become informed. It is he who is cited as an exemplar of beauty, just as Zarqá’ al-Yamáma is invoked for the keenness of her sight,[16] or Ibn Aṣma‘a for the expansiveness of his narrations,[17] little as thou knowest it. So too Muhalhil for his pursuit of revenge,[18] Samaw’al for his loyalty,[19] Qays bin Zuhayr for his shrewdness,[20] Ḥátim for his generosity,[21] Ma‘n bin Zá’ida[22] for his forbearance, Quss bin Sá‘ida[23] for his eloquence, and Luqmán for his wisdom[24]—and also Saḥbán Wá’il for his oratory,[25] ‘Ámir bin Ṭufayl for his chivalry,[26] Íyás bin Mu‘áwíya bin Qurra for his cleverness,[27] and Ḥammád for his memory.[28] These are renowned Arabs whose names are put forth as bywords. Study the available texts, that perchance thou mayest not refute the truth with what thou possessest[29]—that thou mightest become aware instead, assured that erudite authors of literature have used the word “veil” for men, just as We have recounted for thee with an evident and lucid explanation. 

[¶ 8]

Know thou, moreover, that the veil is indeed specific to women and that they cover their heads therewith, yet it is also used for men and their faces in a figurative sense, couldst thou but be of the well-informed. The lithám is likewise specific to women, and it is said that “the woman hath veiled herself with the lithám,” which is to say that “she hath tightened the lithám over her mouth,”[30] but it is also used for men and their faces, just as is mentioned in works of literature. To say that a man hath lifted the lithám from his face is to say that he hath removed a veil-like barrier. Beware lest thou cavil at words in opposition to Him before Whose resplendently radiant Face every sign hath humbled itself. Fear thou God, Who fashioned thee and brought thee into being, and rejoice not at the suffering of them that have believed, laying down their lives and offering up their substance in the Path of God, the King, the All-Glorious, the Almighty. 

[¶ 9]

Say: Our sole purpose in what We have sent thee is that thou mayest become aware of how thou hast failed in thy duty to God[31] and take for thyself a path unto Him. We, verily, desire thy guidance, while thou desirest Our harm. Thou dost scorn Us even as a people before thee scorned, and today they are in the nethermost fire. Thou art of them who said, when the Qur’án was sent down by the All-Merciful, “These are naught but tales of the Ancients!”,[32] and who caviled at most of its verses. Read thou the Itqán[33] and other books, that thou mayest see and know what thou didst cavil at aforetime against Muḥammad, the Apostle of God and the Seal of the Prophets. We have acquainted thee with thy self, that thou mayest know it and act with discernment through the guidance of Him Who is the All-Seeing. Say: With My Lord are the treasuries of all learning and the knowledge of the entire creation. 

[¶ 10]

Lift up thy head from the bed of heedlessness, that thou mayest behold the Most Great Remembrance of God seated on the Throne of Revelation,[34] even as the letter há’ hath been established upon the letter wáw.[35] Shake off the slumber of corrupt desires and follow thy Lord, the Exalted, the Most High. Cast behind thy back what thou dost possess, and take hold of what hath come unto thee from God, the Almighty, the All-Wise. 

[¶ 11]

Say: O ignorant one! Peruse thou the Words of God with His sight, that thou mayest detect such things as are sanctified from the allusions of men and their rules, inasmuch as the knowledge of all the worlds hath ever been with Him. Say: Had the Verses of God been revealed according to your rules and that which is with you, they would merely resemble your words, O ye who are shut out as by a veil! Say: They were revealed from a Place wherein naught is mentioned but the mention of itself, a Place which God hath sanctified from the understanding of all who dwell on earth—how much more thou and thine ilk, O wayward denier! They were revealed in the human tongue, not in conformity with thine artificial rules, O repudiating doubter! 

[¶ 12]

Be fair, I adjure thee by God! Were the power of all the world to be placed in thy heart, wouldst thou be able to rise up in a Cause to which the peoples of the earth object, and beyond them their kings and sovereigns? No, by God! None would be able to rise to the occasion—no soul would be capable thereof—save Him Whom God hath raised up in the station of His Own Self. I, verily, am none other than He, and He proclaimeth under all conditions: “No God is there but Him, the One, the Incomparable, the Ever-Faithful, the All-Knowing, the All-Informed.” Were the heart of anyone from among the officers of the king to be vexed by thee for less than a moment, thou wouldst be perturbed immediately[36]—and wert thou not to believe Me in so saying, the devoted servants of God would bear witness to the truth of My words. This notwithstanding, thou dost protest against Him to Whom multiple governments have objected for numerous years, and upon Whom hath been visited what hath moved the Faithful Spirit to wail in lamentation, until He was eventually incarcerated in this remote Prison. 

[¶ 13]

Say: Open thine eyes! The Cause hath ascended into view, and the Tree uttereth the mysteries of decree. Seest thou for thyself anywhere to flee? By God! No place is there for anyone to escape or settle, except for him who hath turned toward the Most Great Vision. This is that most pure station whose mention hath been celebrated among the denizens of the earth. Say: Cavilest thou at “the veil” against him who believeth in the King of creation and invention? He who hath protested against this Day is indeed of the abject and foolish in the estimation of God, the Maker of the heavens and the earth. 

[¶ 14]

Say: O heedless one! Hearken thou to the warbling of the Dove upon the branches of the divine Lote-Tree, and be not of the ignorant. This, in truth, is that which [Siyyid] Káẓim and [Shaykh] Aḥmad had foretold unto you, and before them the Prophets and Messengers. Fear thou God and dispute not His verses after their revelation. They, verily, were sent down, through the power of the true Faith, from the celestial realm of God, thy Lord and the Lord of all worlds. They are, moreover, His proof in every age, and none shall apprehend them save those who have severed themselves from what is with them and set their faces toward this Great Announcement. 

[¶ 15]

O thou who hast gone far astray! Were thy Lord, the Most Merciful, to appear according to thy limitations, His verses would be revealed in a manner that pertaineth unto thee. Repent unto God and say:

“Glorified art Thou, O my God! I am he who hath fallen short in my duty to Thee and caviled at that which was revealed by Thee. I have followed my evil passions and corrupt desires, and neglected Thine exalted and most glorious remembrance. O God! Lay not hold on me for my transgressions. Purify me of sin; send down upon me, from the direction of Thy grace, the pleasant scents of Thy pardon; destine for me a seat of truth by Thy side; and join me together with Thy sincerely devoted servants. O Thou Who art my God and my Beloved! Deprive me not of the fragrances of Thy sublime Words or the sweet savors of Thine all-glorious garment. Make me content with what Thou hast revealed, and ordain Thou by Thy decree. Thou, verily, doest what Thou choosest, and Thou art the Forgiver, the Bountiful, the Bestower, the Generous.”

[¶ 16]

Hear thou Mine utterance! Leave idle suggestions unto such as desire them, and purge thy heart of words that shall disgrace thee both in this world and the world to come. Arise thou from behind these veils and allusions, and turn, with a radiant face, unto the King of names and attributes, that thou mayest find thyself in the loftiest habitation, which the suggestions of doubters can never reach. Thus counseleth thee the Pen of the Most High, wouldst thou turn to it for thine own sake—and if thou shouldst cavil thereat, verily thy Lord, the All-Merciful, is self-sufficient above all that hath existed and all that shall come to exist. He is, in truth, the All-Possessing, the All-Praised. 

[¶ 17]

We shall now speak in the Persian tongue, that perchance thou mayest perceive the heavenly fragrance of the divine garment wafting from these words revealed in Persian, and that, detached from every other direction, thou mayest set thy face toward the court of God. Though not every bird hath had a share of the grain-heaps of divine mercy and the reapings of perpetual wisdoms, and though it be incapable of gathering them, the bird of utterance must soar in the atmosphere of supernal holiness and obtain a portion of the harvests of meanings. So long as the hearts and souls of men are occupied with the mention of this and that, they shall be deprived of the sweet savor of the garden of Paradise. Heed thou the counsel of this Prisoner, and with the arm of certitude, build thou a barrier immovably firm. Haply thou mayest be protected from the onslaught of self and passion,[37] that through the bounty of the Khiḍr of these days, thou mightest attain to the water of eternal life and turn toward the Most Great Vision.[38]

[¶ 18]

The world is devoid of constancy, and no faithfulness hath been observed in them that seek it. Be not assured with regard to the world; ponder thou its changes and upheavals. Where is the one who built the Khawarnaq and the Sadír?[39] What of him who wished to ascend to the heavens?[40] How many a palace hath there been whose builder reposed in it at eventide in good health and wellness, only for a stranger to become its king on the morrow! How numerous are the houses wherein the sounds of laughter and clapping were lifted up at night, only to change into great weeping the following morn! What man of glory hath not been abased, what affair not subjected to change? Is there any joy that hath not disappeared, or an oppressor that hath quaffed the cup of salvation? 

[¶ 19]

Furthermore, pride not thyself on human learning. “Above all those endued with knowledge is One Who is All-Knowing.”[41] Know thou that every cutting blade shall grow dull, that for every joy there is a sadness, that every glorious one shall sink into degradation, and that for every knowledgeable person a lapse is in store. Choose thou to be godly, and enter the school of divine knowledge. “Be mindful of God, and God shall teach you.”[42] Sanctify thy heart from the allusions of men, that it may be illumined with the effulgences of God’s names and attributes. Close thou the eye of repudiation and open the eye of fairness, and object not to the loved ones of God. I swear by the Sun of the horizon of revelation that if thou wouldst also obtain a portion of human learning as it truly is, verily thou wouldst not cavil at the word “veil” against the friends of the King of creation and invention. Silence thy tongue before My loved ones, O thou who wanderest in the wilderness of ignorance and blindness! 

[¶ 20]

It is in thy best interest to read, even to a small extent, books on bayán[43] and badí‘.[44] Perchance thou mayest be apprised of human conventions, for wert thou to become informed of reality, allegory, the stages of transmission, metaphor, and symbolism, thou wouldst not object that “the veil” was not used literally for one’s face. Look not with a disbelieving eye at the words of them that love the Lord of the worlds. As to the qiná‘ and the miqna‘a, they are two articles of clothing with which women cover their heads. Hence, they are indeed specific to the heads of women, but they have also been used figuratively in connection with men and their faces. Likewise, the lithám, which the Persians and Turks call a yashmak, is that wherewith women cover their mouths—and this, too, hath been used for the faces of men in a figurative sense, as is mentioned in works of literature. Peruse the texts of the people, that thou mayest discover that whereof thou art unaware. 

[¶ 21]

The aforementioned letter was written to thee by one of My loved ones, and his purpose in so doing was to save thee from the darkness of self and deliver thee to the precincts of divinity. In response, thou didst seek to demonstrate thy superior learning, but thine aim proved untrue,[45] and thy rank and value were made clear to the people of true knowledge. Hearken thou to Mine utterance! Object not to him who adviseth thee, and trouble not the one who admonisheth thee. Follow not an expression of bounty with one of grievance. It behoveth thee to be humble before the loved ones of God, the Lord of this world and of the next. Forsake thy learning, for it hath debarred thee from the Sovereign of all knowledge. Prefer him who counseleth thee over thyself and favor him accordingly. Even if as a result thou shouldst walk with no shoes, sleep with no mat, and wail aloud in the wilderness, better indeed would this be for thee than thy saddening him who believeth and leadeth aright. 

[¶ 22]

O thou who art fragile to thy very core! Be neither quick to cavil nor like a lethally vicious and ever-watchful serpent.[46] He that hasteneth to impute error shall fall into remorse. Withhold, then, thy tongue and thy pen from refuting the Ancient King. Make not thyself deserving of retribution! Soon wilt thou return unto the Lord of all people, and thou shalt be asked of what thou didst commit[47] in thy worthless life on a Day wherein “every heart and eye shall be overturned”[48] at the staggering might of God, the Most Powerful, the All-Subduing. 

[¶ 23]

How far wilt thou tread the paths of wickedness[49] and protest against the King of names? Hast thou forgotten where thou shalt return and abide, or art thou unmindful of the justice of thy Lord? If thou believest thyself to be safe from the grave, follow what thy selfish passions and desires bid thee to do. Otherwise, hasten thou to Him Who hath summoned thee to God, and make amends before the end of thy life for what escaped thee at its beginning. Fear thou God, Who fashioned thee and brought thee into being! Repent unto Him and call Him to mind at thy morns and thine eves; unto Him, in truth, wilt thou return, and with Him shalt thou abide. 

[¶ 24]

Beyond the fact that thou hast caviled at the words of God’s loved ones, thine ignorance hath waxed so grievous that thou hast also caviled at the Words of the Primal Point[50]—may the souls of all else but Him be offered up for His sake, He Who heralded unto men this Revelation—and written treatises in refutation of God and His followers. Thereby have thy works come to naught, and yet thou failest to perceive it. Thou and such as are like thee have said that the Words of Him Who is the Most Mighty Gate and the Most Perfect Remembrance[51] are erroneous and contrary to the rules of men. Thou hast yet to realize that the revealed Words of God are the standard for all, and that naught else is a criterion to measure them against. Any rule which runneth counter to the verses of God carrieth no weight. 

[¶ 25]

For twelve years We tarried in Baghdád. Much as We desired that a large gathering of divines and fair-minded men be convened, so that truth might be distinguished from falsehood, and be fully demonstrated, no action was taken. 

[¶ 26]

To continue: The verses of the Primal Point, may the life of all else be a sacrifice unto Him, are not in violation; it is simply that thou art uninformed of men’s rules. Furthermore, what sayest thou concerning the verses of this Most Great Revelation? Open thine eyes, that thou mayest recognize that such rules are themselves derived from the Words of God, the Most Powerful, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting. Were We not hindered by the sorrows that have stricken Us and the illnesses that have afflicted Our body, Tablets on divine knowledge would be composed, and thou wouldst attest that the conventions of God encompass the rules of mankind. We beseech the Almighty to aid thee in His love and good-pleasure. He, verily, doth answer whosoever calleth on Him. 

[¶ 27]

Reflect on the days when the Qur’án was revealed from the heaven of God’s Will, and ponder how much the rebellious ones objected to it. Methinks this caviling hath been effaced from thy sight, and it hath consequently become necessary to cite certain instances thereof. Haply thou mayest come to know thyself—how much thou protested when the Muḥammadan Sun dawned forth from the horizon of eternal glory! The only difference is that thou wast known by another name in those days, for if thou wert not of those people, thou wouldst never have protested against the truth[52] in this Dispensation. 

[¶ 28]

One of the objections of the disbelievers pertained to this blessed verse: “No distinction do We make between [any] one of His Messengers.”[53] They objected that “one” [aḥad] is incompatible with “between” [bayna],[54] and it was in this regard that they caviled with scorn at the weighty Word of God. 

[¶ 29]

They protested similarly against this blessed verse: “He created for you all that is on the earth, then turned to the firmament and fashioned it into seven heavens,”[55] objecting that this contradicteth other verses, in most of which it is mentioned that the creation of the heavens preceded that of the earth.[56]

[¶ 30]

And likewise against this blessed verse: “We created you, then formed you, then said to the angels, ‘Prostrate yourselves before Adam,’”[57] objecting that the prostration of the angels took place before the formation of creation.[58] Thou hast surely heard the cavilings they have raised against that verse of God. 

[¶ 31]

And likewise against this blessed verse: “The Forgiver of sins and the Accepter of repentance, Severe in punishment,”[59] objecting that “Severe in punishment” [shadíd al-‘iqáb] is an adjective which, though affixed to an active participle that is grammatically definite, is not itself correspondingly definite.[60]

[¶ 32]

And likewise concerning the story of Zulaykhá: “Seek pardon for thy sin; thou, verily, art of the sinners [kháṭi’ín],”[61] objecting that the word should be kháṭi’át, since it must, according to the rules of men, be inflected in the feminine plural.[62]

[¶ 33]

And likewise against this blessed verse: “A Word from Him; His Name [ismuhu] will be ‘the Messiah,’”[63] objecting that “word” is a feminine noun, and that the pronoun which referreth to it must also be feminine.[64]

[¶ 34]

And likewise against “one of the greatest”[65] [iḥda’l-kubar] and other such phrases.[66]

[¶ 35]

In brief, there are nearly three hundred instances at which the divines of that time and of subsequent ages caviled against Him Who was the Seal of the Prophets and the King of the Chosen Ones—this in objection both to the words themselves and to their meanings, remarking that the majority of this diction is incorrect, and thus imputing madness and sedition to that Wellspring of sanity. Said they, “These ‘súrihs’ and its ‘verses’ are naught but fabrications!” By this very means, most men have followed the divines; they have been led away from the Straight Path of God and turned toward the depths of the nethermost fire. The names of those divines, Jewish and Christian alike, are recorded in certain texts. 

[¶ 36]

How many, moreover, are the verses they attributed to Imru’ al-Qays,[67] alleging that Muḥammad plagiarized them! Examples include the blessed súrihs which begin with the words “when [the earth] is shaken”[68] and “the hour hath drawn nigh.”[69] For a long time, they gave preference to the odes known as the Muʻallaqát[70]—and also the Mujmaharrát,[71] second only to the Muʻallaqát—over the Words of God, until His bounties encompassed them. A number of souls were not held back by these cavilings; they were led aright by the lights of guidance, and the rule of the sword was put into effect. “Whether willingly or reluctantly,”[72] the people entered into the religion of God. The Verse of the Sword[73] wiped out the traces of ignorance. Once the Cause of God had prevailed, the eye of fairness was opened, and the captious glance barred and veiled. Those same repudiators who had called the Words of God “fabrications” went on to cite some seventy merits in connection with the eloquence and clarity of certain revealed verses. 

[¶ 37]

As My theme concerned the cavilings of the infidels, I am disinclined to recount any more of them than have already been mentioned. Now be thou a little fair and judge between thyself and God. There can be no doubt that the Qur’án was revealed by God, and it is also indubitable that the Words of God have ever been sanctified from what men have imagined about them, for it became abundantly clear, after a time, that their caviling stemmed from envy and hatred, inasmuch as certain divines responded to some of those objections by invoking the rules of grammar. The knowledge thereof, however, is with Us. Inquire thou, that thou mayest recognize that Point through which the knowledge of all that was and all that shall be hath been expounded.[74] Perchance thou wilt become aware and cease to protest against the loved ones of God. All knowledge hath lain and shall continue to lie in the grasp of God’s might, and that which is sent down through the power of the true Faith hath been and will be revealed in accordance with the essential Religion of God. 

[¶ 38]

These cavilings are raised in view of the perception that this Cause appeareth not to have acquired power—that the loved ones of God are few while His enemies are many—hence, they each cling to some objection or other in hopes that, as a result of this, they might be accepted by the people. 

[¶ 39]

O hapless one! Go thou and occupy thyself with thoughts of glory and leadership. How canst thou set foot in the realm of them that are detached—those souls who have severed themselves from all else but God and have, in their love for Him, renounced their wealth and their rank, their reputation and their honor, their substance and their lives, as thou hast seen and heard? They are those servants who say, “God is our Lord!”, and then detach themselves from the world. Erelong will appear souls versed in knowledge, who shall arise in the utmost support and write weighty and convincing proofs in response to every objection, for their hearts will be supplied with the unseen inspirations of God. Hear thou the Voice of Him Who summoneth to God,[75] and be not of them that are shut out as by a veil. Haply thou mayest not remain deprived of the divine fragrances wafting in this transcendent and celestial Dispensation. Peace be upon him who followeth the way of guidance!

[¶ 40]

Should one lack the sense of smell, what blame can be assigned to the rose of the garden? A soul bereft of taste cannot distinguish the value of sweet honey from that of the bitter gourd. 

[¶ 41]

The copy of the writing by the late Shaykh Aḥmad concerning the Qá’im was perused.[76] I request thee, at this juncture, to expound its meaning fairly, and if thou shouldst find thyself incapable of this, ask the Most Mighty Ocean of God, that perchance thou mayest, through the infinite grace and mercy of the Lord, enter beneath the shade of the divine Tree.[77]

[¶ 42]

To explain: During the days of Our sojourn in ʻIráq, Mírzá Ḥusayn Qumí approached this Servant with a copy of that writing, and he mentioned that Shaykhí notables had requested a commentary to elucidate the meanings of its words. This Servant, finding the inquirers not to be seeking the living waters of divine knowledge, chose not to trouble Himself with a response, for it is better that the pearl of divine knowledge be hidden from the sight of undiscerning eyes. Though a brief answer was given, yet was it done through hints and allusions.[78]

[¶ 43]

[A portion of] that writing is quoted word for word in this Tablet with no additions or omissions. Thus wrote that pillar of Islám, that cynosure of all men, the most illustrious, the most erudite Shaykh Aḥmad Aḥsá’í[79]—he who was a lamp of knowledge among the peoples of the world—in response to one who had said, “The Qá’im is in the loins.”[80] We have dispensed with the beginning thereof and quoted only that which was the purpose of his composition.

* * *

[¶ 44]

In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate

I reply that it has been transmitted[81] that, after the expiry of alif lám mím ṣád[82] by alif lám mím rá’[83] the Mahdí shall rise, upon Him be peace. And the [other] alif[84] will [also] come upon the end of the ṣád, the very ṣád which in your estimation is wider than the two thighs; how, then, can it be [only] one of the two?[85], [86] Furthermore, the wáw is [composed of] three letters: six, an alif, and six.[87], [88], [89] Six days have elapsed and the alif is the completion;[90] no more need be said. And the [other] six refers to the other days;[91] otherwise, the “return” would not come about,[92], [93] for it is the mystery of the Great Reversal in the Sign of the Sovereign.[94], [95], [96] And if others should recognize the remaining six,[97] the Cause will be fulfilled through the Proof,[98] and the Greatest Name[99] shall appear in the two alifs standing upright in the word composed of two letters from “Alláh,”[100] for the two of them make 11,[101] and with them both [i.e., the two alifs] 13 is yielded.[102], [103] Thus will appear the wáw which is há’.[104] Where, then, is the separation?[105] But the one between the six and the six[106] is ordained for the expiration of alif lám mím ṣád by alif lám mím rá’. Then will the mystery of the six and the sixty[107] be revealed in its six,[108] which is its fourth [letter],[109] and the completer of the six, which is the fourth [letter], through the two outstretched alifs in it [the mystery].[110] And its[111] mystery is the descent of the alif from the wide point by the six and the six.[112] And the descent of the second [alif] on the blessed night shall occur through 11, and this is that “He” which is the mystery.[113] The first concealed name will be manifest in the mystery of Thursday, and then Friday shall complete the mystery.[114] And the pure water will flow forth upon the day when the sky shall come with manifest smoke.[115] There you have it! All this is in the inverted wáw from the voiceless há’,[116] so where was the union in the estimation of “the affirmer of the separation?”[117] There is nothing else within the váḥid nor any other between it, else it would be other than the váḥid.[118] “And We make such parables for the people, but only the knowledgeable shall comprehend them.”[119]

* * *

[¶ 45]

We bear witness that every one of these gem-like words is indeed “a neglected well”[120] that containeth the water of life and in which the Youth of meaning and utterance lay concealed.[121] No seeking travelers have come upon it, that they might let down their bucket, draw out with it the Youth of knowledge,[122] and say, “Blessed be God, He in Whose grasp lieth the kingdom of knowledge! He, verily, encompasseth all things.” Thus have We testified that every word thereof is a lamp wherein shineth the light of knowledge and wisdom, but none have sought to be illumined thereby save them whom God hath willed. Powerful is He, in truth, over all things. 

[¶ 46]

In short, Our desire is that these words be expounded with a clear and perspicuous explanation. Peace be on him who followeth God! 

[¶ 47]

As for thee, if thou followest not the Cause of thy Lord, haply God may manifest from thee one who will turn to his Lord, and sever himself from all else but Him.[123] He, verily, is the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.

===========

Endnotes:

[1] The identity of this believer appears not to be conclusively established. Fáḍil Mázandarání has stated that it was Áqá Muḥammad-Riḍá Qannád Shírází; see Asráru’l-Áthár, vol. 4, p. 519. However, Stephen Lambden has entertained the possibility that Bahá’u’lláh might be referring more figuratively to Quddús, who was tasked with informing Karím Khán Kirmání of the Báb’s revelation.

[2] It seems highly relevant to cite the following passage from Bahá’u’lláh’s “Commentary on the Súrih of the Sun” in this connection: “Know thou that whoso clingeth to the outward sense of the words and discardeth their inner significance is ignorant, and whoso cleaveth to the inner sense to the exclusion of the literal meaning is oblivious. Only he who graspeth the inner meaning in conjunction with the outward sense can be said to be a complete scholar” (provisional translation mine, derived from Juan Cole’s earlier provisional rendering).

[3] cf. Qur’án 18:56.

[4] cf. Qur’án 8:7.

[5] Or “guideth men to God,” in that the original word (ḥaqq) can mean either “God” or “truth.”

[6] An allusion to the ḥadíth “the most grievous of all veils is the veil of knowledge,” which Bahá’u’lláh has expounded in the Kitáb-i-Íqán here.

[7] cf. Qur’án 9:40.

[8] Qur’án 39:41.

[9] Qur’án 57:24.

[10] cf. Qur’án 3:103.

[11] Balágha, translated here as “rhetoric,” might also be rendered “clarity of language” or “art of good style.”

[12] cf. Qur’án 22:3 and 40:4–5, among other verses.

[13] An early Arab poet who is not to be confused with Muqanna‘ al-Khurásání.

[14] Adam.

[15] Legend has it that Muqanna‘ al-Kindí was so handsome (as Bahá’u’lláh Himself attests later in this Tablet) as to arouse the jealousy of others; hence, he would be met with “the evil eye,” so he would cover his face with a veil to conceal his beauty. It should be noted that Bahá’u’lláh is merely recounting tradition here, not affirming the legitimacy of “the evil eye,” which ʻAbduʼl-Bahá has discredited in such of His Tablets as this one and this one.

[16] Zarqá al-Yamáma was a woman who lived before the advent of Islam and is fabled for the supernaturally keen sight of her blue eyes (a rare trait among Arabs), which was not only incredibly far-reaching but even clairvoyant. One account of her legendary story is discussed here.

[17] A reference to ‘Abd al-Málik ibn Qurayb al-Aṣma‘í (c. 740–828), a gifted polymath, prolific author, and renowned narrator of ḥadíths. For more on him, refer to this entry in the Encyclopedia Britannica.

[18] Abu Layla al-Muhalhil (c. 443–531) was an excellent poet of the pre-Islamic era. When his brother, Kulayb bin Wá’il, was killed by Jassás bin Murra, al-Muhalhil became determined to avenge him, and this sparked a forty-year war between the Bakr and Taghlib tribes.

[19] A pre-Islamic poet and warrior whose legendary loyalty lives on in the Arabic expression awfá min al-Samaw’al (“more loyal than Samaw’al”). The origin of his reputation has been discussed here.

[20] A pre-Islamic figure (d. 631–32) famed not only for his shrewdness, but also his cunning. Arab histories tell of one particularly notorious incident at al-Habá’a involving Qays bin Zuhayr and two warring tribes, the ‘Abs and the Dhubyán: Qays bin Zuhayr ordered his people to let their camels loose and stray far from their dwellings as a way of luring his enemies to him. His plot worked; he gave his men the order to attack, and a great many people were killed, including Ḥudhayfa bin Badr and Ḥamal bin Badr, who belonged to the Fazáríyún, related to the Dhubyán tribe. I am grateful to Ruwa Pokorny for summarizing this account for me.

[21] Ḥátim Ṭá’í, a pre-Islamic prince and poet (d. 578). Beyond his obvious renown throughout the Arab world, stories of Ḥátim’s generosity are also recounted in the works of such outstanding Persian poets as Rúdakí, Sa‘dí, and several others.

[22] A general and nobleman (d. 769–70) of the Shaybán tribe who was appointed a wálí by the caliph of Baghdád, Abú Ja‘far al-Manṣúr. According to one account, Ma‘n bin Zá’ida’s reputation for his inexhaustible patience, his unbreakable composure, and his boundless generosity had preceded him to such an extent that some people decided to place bets on how far they could push him before he would succumb to anger. They asked one man in particular to do this and promised to pay him a reward of a hundred camels if he was able to infuriate Ma‘n. Accepting the challenge, this man went to Ma‘n’s court dressed in camelskin (as if to remind him of his humble beginnings) and began making all kinds of comments designed to rile him up, but Ma‘n took every one of them in perfect stride. Having tested his legendary forbearance, this agitator then strove to put his generosity to the test; he said that he was going to leave the country and requested financial assistance for himself. Ma‘n instructed his attendants to pay the man a thousand dínárs to alleviate the hardships of his travels. The agitator took this money but complained that it was not enough, remarking that he wanted much more of it and, at the same time, berating Ma‘n as a man of unsound thinking. Ma‘n then instructed his attendants to give the man two thousand dínárs so he would be pleased with them. This act deeply impressed the agitator, who, expressing his surprise, told Ma‘n that he would ask God to keep him safe and prolong his life for many years to come, inasmuch as he was truly without equal. “So vast are your generosity, your kindness, and your overwhelming favors,” said this man, “that they can only be compared to the ocean.” With this, Ma‘n said to his attendants, “We gave this man two thousand dínárs because he hated us; now give him four thousand for praising us.” Utterly astounded at this point, the man went on to laud Ma‘n’s rare forbearance and intelligence even more effusively, eventually remarking, “You have dispelled any doubt in my mind about your generosity.” The man then went on to tell Ma‘n about the bet that had brought him there in the first place, specifically about how he would be rewarded with a hundred camels if he was able to infuriate him. In a final act of astonishing generosity, Ma‘n instructed his attendants to give this man two hundred camels: a hundred as the price of the bet he had lost (in failing to anger Ma‘n), and the other hundred to keep for himself. The man then left Ma‘n’s court in a state of utmost gratitude and total admiration. I am grateful to Ruwa Pokorny for summarizing this account for me.

[23] A pre-Islamic Christian preacher who has been credited with coining several fundamental Arabic phrases and maxims. He is especially well known for an admonitory address he gave at the Súq ‘Ukáz (the largest Arabian market at the time, located in present-day Saudi Arabia) in which he foreshadowed the imminent advent of Islam.

[24] A man from ancient times whose proverbial wisdom is recorded in ḥadíths and also the Qur’án, whose thirty-first súrih bears his name.

[25] An orator and poet who lived into the early days of Islam (d. 674). It has been written that his “seductive eloquence has passed into a proverb” and that “whilst addressing an assembly for half-a-day, [he] never used the same word twice” (Kazimirski, Dictionnaire Arabe-francais, vol. 1, p. 1057; cited in T. Fahd, Encyclopedia of Islam, 2nd ed., available online here).

[26] A poet, knight, and tribal leader (d. 632) who is said to have bravely led his people into many battles. His chivalry was so widely known that even the Roman emperor of his day reportedly inquired about him.

[27] An early Muslim judge (d. 744) who was often consulted for his great wisdom, and whose extraordinary cleverness is recorded in Arabic folklore. One such story involves two men who came to Íyás with a case. The plaintiff told Íyás that he had given the defendant some money to hold on to for him, not to keep for himself, but that, when he returned and asked the defendant for his money back, he denied that he was ever given any. Íyás put this to the defendant, who maintained his denial and demanded that the plaintiff back up his accusation with evidence. Íyás then asked the plaintiff where he gave the defendant the money. The plaintiff described the place, recalling that it had a large tree and that he had sat in its shade with the defendant, and that he gave the defendant the money right before leaving. Íyás then instructed the plaintiff to go back to that place, suggesting to him that he might remember where he put the money once he arrived, and to then report back with his findings. (Íyás’s intention in doing this was to lull the defendant into a false sense of security by giving him the impression that he believed his version of the events, not the plaintiff’s.) The plaintiff did as he was told and departed. Íyás then told the defendant to stay put until his friend returned, and then carried on with his other business, discreetly keeping a close eye on the defendant all the while. After a time, Íyás noticed that the defendant was beginning to look quite relaxed. Suspecting that he had let his guard down, Íyás posed this leading question to the defendant: “Do you think your friend has already made it to the place where he gave you the money?” The defendant replied, “Certainly not! It is much too far from here.” Having obtained the defendant’s unwitting admission of guilt, Íyás rebuked him harshly, condemning him as an enemy of God and a shameless thief. I am grateful to Ruwa Pokorny for summarizing this account for me.

[28] A reference to Ḥammád al-Ráwíyah (c. 694–c. 772), an eminent anthologist who is credited with compiling the Mu‘allaqát (which Bahá’u’lláh mentions later in this Tablet) and other Arab antiquities. According to this entry on Ḥammád in the Encyclopedia Britannica, “he committed vast numbers of poems to memory.”

[29] cf. Qur’án 18:56.

[30] These are both Arabic expressions apparently derived from a traditional saying about how it is good for a woman’s face to be tightly veiled with the lithám.

[31] Qur’án 39:56.

[32] cf. Qur’án 8:31.

[33] A reference to al-Itqán fí ‘Ulúm al-Qur’án, a well-known work on Quranic exegesis by the Muslim polymath al-Suyúṭí (1445–1505).

[34] Which is to say that the divine reality of the Báb (“the Most Great Remembrance of God”) is manifest again in Bahá’u’lláh (“the Throne of Revelation”).

[35] When joined together, the letters há’ and wáw make huwa, the Arabic word for “He.”

[36] This simultaneous arrogance toward a Manifestation of God and unease toward government officials seems very similar to the attitude of Mírzá Naẓar-‘Alí of Qazvín, as recounted in this story from the days of Bahá’u’lláh’s youth: “In a gathering where Bahá’u’lláh was present, Mírzá Naẓar-‘Alí of Qazvín . . . the celebrated Sufi murshid who was highly esteemed by Muḥammad Sháh, was holding forth on the station that a human being can attain. Referring to himself, he said, ‘Should my servant come to me and say that Jesus the Christ was at the door, asking for me, my detachment is such that I would express no wish to see Him.’ Some of those present kept silent, while others out of flattery murmured assent. Only Mírzá Ḥusayn-‘Alí [Bahá’u’lláh] spoke up. He turned to the Qazviní braggart, who had expressed such disrespect for a Manifestation of God, and said: ‘You are very close to the person of the sovereign and he is very devoted to you, but if the chief executioner with ten of his men were to come to this door and tell you that the monarch wanted to see you, would you take it calmly or would you be perturbed?’ Mírzá Naẓar-‘Alí paused for a while before replying, ‘In truth, I would feel anxious.’ ‘In that case,’ said Bahá’u’lláh, ‘you should not make such an assertion.’ Bahá’u’lláh’s authoritative statement . . . left them all speechless” (H.M. Balyuzi, Bahá’u’lláh: The King of Glory, pp. 22–23).

[37] Refer to the mention of Gog (whose Arabic name, ya’júj, has been translated figuratively here as “onslaught”) and Magog in Qur’án 18:94 and the surrounding verses.

[38] The significance of Khiḍr (a prophet-like figure) here being that, according to Islamic tradition, he is said to have discovered and drunk the water of life, whence he became immortal.

[39] Two magnificent palaces built by the Lakhmid Arab king al-Nuʻmán I ibn Imruʼ al-Qays for his Sassanid overlord, Yazdgird I.

[40] Unlike the previous reference, this one seems more open to interpretation. It might be an allusion to Xerxes I, per the account of Herodotus, who attributes this remark to him in his Histories: “We will make the borders of Persian territory and of the firmament of heaven be the same” (Book 7, chapter 8c, section 1; trans. A. D. Godley (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1920)). Alternatively, it could refer to Nimrod, who is commonly identified as the one who ordered the construction of the Tower of Babel, which was intended to reach the heavens.

[41] Qur’án 12:76.

[42] Qur’án 2:282.

[43] That is, ‘ilm al-bayán, a branch of Arabic rhetoric whereby the multiple meanings of a single word are explained through such literary devices as simile, metaphor, and metonymy.

[44] That is, ‘ilm al-badí‘, a branch of Arabic rhetoric dealing with figures of speech and more generally the art of beautiful style.

[45] More literally translated, “thine arrow was misdirected” (akhṭa’a sahmuka), similar to the idiom of “shooting oneself in the foot.”

[46] The word translated here as “lethally vicious . . . serpent” is arqam, a kind of snake that Arabic dictionaries have recorded as being extremely malicious. A notable characteristic of this snake is that it is multicolored, generally having some mixture of black and white, and this nuance may have been intended to apply to the character of Karím Khán Kirmání, as if to paint him as a shifty person—perhaps even a fearful one (hence, “ever-watchful,” originally laḍláḍ)—who would change his demeanor to suit his best interests depending on the situation. It is also worth mentioning that arqam—along with a variant of that word, arqash—are the lexically masculine counterparts to the feminine raqshá’, which has been translated in the Baháʼí Writings as “she-serpent” and was used by Bahá’u’lláh as an epithet for Mír Muḥammad-Ḥusayn, the Imám Jumʻih of Isfahan who, in collusion with Shaykh Muḥammad-Báqir (stigmatized by Bahá’u’lláh as “the Wolf”), orchestrated the beheading of two eminently devoted and wealthy Baháʼís, Mírzá Muḥammad-Ḥusayn (titled Maḥbúbu’shShuhadá’, or “the Beloved of Martyrs”) and his younger brother, Mírzá Muḥammad-Ḥasan (titled Sulṭánu’shShuhadá’, or “the King of Martyrs,” later named an Apostle of Bahá’u’lláh). I am grateful to Khazeh Fananapazir for calling my attention to this etymological connection between arqam and raqshá’.

[47] cf. Qur’án 2:141.

[48] Qur’án 24:37.

[49] cf. Qur’án 7:28 and 29:45.

[50] A title of the Báb.

[51] Additional titles of the Báb.

[52] Or “God” (ḥaqq).

[53] Qur’án 2:285.

[54] The objection being that bayna (“between”) cannot be used with aḥad, meaning “one” when used as an adjective.

[55] Qur’án 2:29.

[56] Refer to Qur’án 7:54, 10:3, 11:7, 25:59, 32:4, 50:38, 57:4, 79:27–33, and 91:5–10.

[57] Qur’án 7:11.

[58] Perhaps a reference to Qur’án 38:71–73.

[59] Qur’án 40:3.

[60] Bahá’u’lláh is saying some have protested that shadíd al-‘iqáb [“Severe in punishment”] in Qur’án 40:3—due to the fact that there is no conjunctive wáw [“and”] between shadíd al-‘iqáb and qábil al-tawb [“the Accepter of repentance”]—must be considered an adjective that has been affixed to an active participle (i.e., the word qábil). Since the word qábil in that verse, as the first word of an iḍáfah construct, is grammatically definite, the adjective that qualifies it must, according to the rules of Arabic grammar, also be grammatically definite. Therefore, again according to the rules of grammar, the adjective should have been written as al-shadíd al-‘iqáb, with the definite article al- prefixed to shadíd. I am grateful to Omid Ghaemmaghami for explaining Bahá’u’lláh’s intended meaning to me here.

[61] Qur’án 12:29.

[62] Kháṭi’ín is the sound masculine plural form of the singular kháṭi’ (“sinner”), whereas kháṭi’át is the sound feminine plural form. Hence, to use the latter would have not only been the conventionally correct choice, but it would have also been consistent with the feminine conjugations and inflections used everywhere else in the verse.

[63] Qur’án 3:45.

[64] Ismuhu means “His Name,” and the hu at the end is an attached masculine pronoun that refers to kalimatin, “a Word,” a grammatically feminine noun in Arabic. The objection here is that, according to conventional Arabic grammar, and regardless of Jesus’s actual sex, the word should be ismuhá, which means “her name,” in that “her” would correspond with the feminine gender of “a Word.”

[65] Qur’án 74:35.

[66] The objection here might be against an inconsistency of grammatical gender, in that iḥdá (“one of”) is grammatically feminine while kubar (“the greatest”) is masculine. Other possible objections may be that the referent of “one of the greatest” is not immediately obvious from the context, nor does the verse itself seem, at first blush, to constitute a complete thought. In The Study Quran, where the full verse [innahá la iḥda’l-kubar] has been translated literally as “truly it is one of the greatest” (p. 1442), the following explanations are given in a footnote: “Here it refers to Saqar [a proper name for Hell] (per al-Qurṭubī, and also al-Ṭabarī), meaning that Saqar is one of the greatest calamities (per al-Maḥallī and al-Suyūṭī). Some understand the assertion that it is only one of the calamities to mean that such calamities will be endless (per al-Ālūsī). It could also refer to the disbelievers’ denial of the prophethood of Muḥammad, meaning that such denial is one of the greatest sins (per al-Qurṭubī)” (ibid.).

[67] Arguably the most renowned Arab poet of pre-Islamic times. One of his poems is included in the Mu‘allaqát, which Bahá’u’lláh goes on to mention in this Tablet.

[68] Qur’án 99:1.

[69] Qur’án 54:1.

[70] A famous collection of seven pre-Islamic odes written in Classical Arabic. For more, refer to this entry in the Encyclopedia Britannica.

[71] Short for Mujmaharrát al-‘Arab, another collection of seven pre-Islamic odes written in Classical Arabic that can be found in Jamharat Ash‘ar al-‘Arab, an anthology of early Arabic poetry compiled by Abu Zayd al-Qurashi.

[72] Qur’án 13:15.

[73] A proper name for Qur’án 9:5.

[74] Note the parallel here with a ḥadíth attributed to the Imám ‘Alí and quoted in other Writings of Bahá’u’lláh: “Knowledge is one point, which the foolish have multiplied.”

[75] cf. Qur’án 46:31.

[76] This designedly cryptic writing from Shaykh Aḥmad, from which Bahá’u’lláh quotes toward the end of the Lawḥ-i-Qiná‘, was composed in 1783 in response to a request from Shaykh Músá ibn Muḥammad al-Ṣáyigh. In her extensive study of this writing, Durríyyát-i-Mastúrih dar Maktúb-i-Shaykh Aḥmad (rev. 2019 ed.), Núráníyyih Majídí Maẓlúmí summarizes (in pp. 1213) Shaykh Aḥmad’s own account—given in the lines which immediately precede the portion of his response quoted by Bahá’u’lláh, and which come from the last page of his Sharḥ al-Fawá’id—of the circumstances that prompted him to write it: Shaykh Músá had entered into a debate with an unnamed man who held opposing beliefs and claimed to have recognized both the truth itself and ciphers that portray it. This unnamed man also believed that a break in the Mahdí’s connection with the world had occurred and that He was still confined to the realm of the unborn; hence, “the Qá’im is in the loins,” a line Bahá’u’lláh quotes later on in this Tablet. It is thus, writes Shaykh Aḥmad, that Shaykh Músá requested him to write a response which would itself be so enigmatic that this unnamed disputer would either have no choice but to confess his inability to understand the intended meanings, or to admit to their undeniable truth in the unlikely event that he was able to unravel the layers of mystery in which they were wrapped.

[77] There is an untranslated Tablet of Bahá’u’lláh that was revealed after the Lawḥ-i-Qiná‘, and in it He declares that He has, through the brief explanations He Himself gives in that Tablet (summarized in the portions of MacEoin, Rituals in Babism and Bahaism, p. 148 attended by endnotes 9 and 11), elucidated all the meanings intended by Shaykh Aḥmad in this abstruse writing of his. In that Tablet, whose original text has been partially published in Má’idiy-i-Ásmání, vol. 1, pp. 1213, and which has been cataloged in “A Partial Inventory of the Works of the Central Figures of the Bahá’í Faith” as the “Lawḥ-i-Sirr al-Tankís” (ID no. BH00415), Bahá’u’lláh states: “The purpose of quoting that [writing by Shaykh Aḥmad] in the Tablet [the Lawḥ-i-Qiná‘] to Mír Karím [Ḥájí Muḥammad Karím Khán] was that perchance he might behold his own inability and pose questions to God, but owing to his arrogance and pride, even in spite of his incompetence, he failed to make inquiries and turn [unto Me]. He is indeed of them who are in grievous loss! All the Shaykhís themselves admitted, when I was in ‘Iráq, that they were unable to expound the meaning of that [writing by Shaykh Aḥmad]. They even mentioned that they submitted it to the late Siyyid [Káẓim], but that he left the matter hidden and refrained from responding” (Má’idiy-i-Ásmání, vol. 1, p. 13; provisional translation mine). In another untranslated Tablet where He expounds the meanings of certain passages from this same writing by Shaykh Aḥmad, Bahá’u’lláh states: “The utterances which he [Shaykh Aḥmad] hath made in this connection had not been understood by anyone until now. Athím-i-Kirmání [“Athím” meaning “sinner” or “sinful” and being the self-styled title of Ḥájí Muḥammad Karím Khán; see this paragraph of the Kitáb-i-Íqán] was specifically asked to comment, that in view of his own impotence he might ask the Dayspring of knowledge, yet pride and arrogance took hold of him in such wise as to prevent him from comprehending that writing, until at last he returned to his abode. Verily, thy Lord is the Just, the All-Wise” (Má’idiy-i-Ásmání, vol. 1, p. 15; provisional translation mine).

[78] This comment from Bahá’u’lláh seems inconclusive and open to interpretation. Perhaps the most likely reading is that He gave these Shaykhís an answer laden with hints, but one that seems not to be recorded in any extant source.

[79] It seems worth mentioning here that, in a lengthy Tablet to Varqá, Bahá’u’lláh has spoken of the distinction of Shaykh Aḥmad in this way: “The glory of [Shaykh] Aḥmad consisteth in that he grew privy to certain mysteries of prophethood and became the bearer of a Trust [i.e., the knowledge of the imminent advents of the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh]. This is a rank immensely great. . . . The station of the esteemed Shaykh [Aḥmad] and the honored Siyyid [Káẓim], upon them both be the Glory of God and His bounties, is great indeed. At one time, these blessed words proceeded from the mine of divine wisdom: ‘O servant-in-attendance [Mírzá Áqá Ján]! The esteemed [Shaykh] Aḥmad and [Siyyid] Káẓim were aware; informed were they of the meanings enshrined in the Scriptures of God. Considering the attraction of hearts, they said certain things, and their purpose was to draw men near, that haply they might have attained the Word of God, just as they ultimately did. The first souls who entered into the Religion of God belonged to that group [the Shaykhís]. This is a testament to their awareness, their knowledge, their wisdom, and the straight path to which they had held fast. Blessed are they!’” (Excerpts from a Tablet of Bahá’u’lláh published in Má’idiy-i-Asmání, vol. 1, pp. 2122; provisional translation mine)

[80] That is, the Qá’im is yet to be born. After the passing of the Eleventh Imám, Ḥasan ‘Askarí, different Shí‘ih sects formed divergent beliefs about the advent of the Qá’im, a development ‘Abdu’l-Bahá mentions in this Tablet. To give two examples mentioned in Nawbakhtí’s book on Shí‘ih sects (Firaq al-Shí‘ih): 1) The ninth group believed that the Imamate was restricted to the family of Muḥammad, that no Imám came after Ḥasan ‘Askarí, and that God may raise up the Qá’im from the loins of any male descendant of Muḥammad (siyyids) at whatever time in the future He chooses. 2) The twelfth group, however, believed in the continuation of the Imamate, but that this continuation can only be produced from the loins of Ḥasan ‘Askarí, which is to say that the son of ‘Askarí is still in occultation and has yet to appear. (This summary taken from Maẓlúmí, Durríyyát-i-Mastúrih, pp. 34.) It was also in light of these divergent interpretations that Shaykh Músá ibn Muḥammad al-Ṣáyigh, mentioned in a previous endnote, requested clarification from Shaykh Aḥmad on this statement.

[81] This refers to a ḥadíth transmitted by Abú Lubayd Makhzúmí, attributed to the Imám Báqir, and published in Biḥár al-Anwár. See Maẓlúmí, Durríyyát-i-Mastúrih, pp. 89ff.

[82] The disconnected letters which begin the seventh súrih of the Qur’án, and which equate to 161 per Abjad notation.

[83] The disconnected letters which begin the thirteenth súrih of the Qur’án, and which equate to 271 per Abjad notation.

[84] According to Maẓlúmí (Durríyyát-i-Mastúrih, p. 46), this alif represents Bahá’u’lláh and is not to be confused with the one that symbolizes the Báb and corresponds to the alif included in the letter wáw when written out as واو (the subject of further discussion by Shaykh Aḥmad in this writing of his). To support her assertion, Maẓlúmí points to Bahá’u’lláh’s commentary on the disconnected letters of the Qur’án, where He states: “ . . . In this sense, it can truly be said that this Alif containeth all the [other] letters . . . know, then, that this spiritual Alif, this eternal Symbol, this straight and single Thread [as the alif ( ا ) resembles a thread], is like unto the One Who rose up in Himself and by Himself before the peoples of heaven and earth . . .” (Má’idiy-i-Ásmání, vol. 4, pp. 7172; provisional translation mine).

[85] According to Ḥájí Mírzá Ḥaydar-‘Alí, these words may be interpreted as follows: “In the abjad system, the letter ṣád belongs to the tens (it equals 90) and alif to the units (it equals 1). When the alif comes to the end of the ṣád (i.e., 99), the hundreds are reached (100). When the letters lám, mím, and ṣád are calculated, they add up to 160, and when we add the previous 100 to this, we get 260. ‘The two thighs’ are a reference to the units and tens, since a standing man takes the shape of the number 11 (which contains both tens and units). So al-Aḥsá’í is saying that the ṣád must be made to go beyond the units and tens and must be given the rank of the hundreds (i.e., it becomes 900). Since he said at the beginning ‘the alif has come upon the end of the ṣád’ (now 999), this raises the whole thing to 1000. And when 260 is added to 1000 it becomes 1260, ‘the years of the appearance of the Promised One’ (i.e., 1260 A.H./1844 A.D.). Al-Aḥsá’í says ‘how can it be one of the two?’, meaning how can the ṣád be accounted as belonging to the units or the tens, ‘because if it does not reach the stage of the hundreds, the purpose in constructing the year of the manifestation would not be attained’” (Cited in Ishráq-Khávarí, Raḥíq-i-Makhtúm, vol. 1 (130 B.E./1973), pp. 679–80 and translated in MacEoin, Rituals, pp. 14748).

[86] Maẓlúmí has also offered this interpretation (in Dúrríyyát-i-Mastúrih, pp. 4546): There are Islamic depictions of the Greatest Name that feature one or two stars divided into five distinct parts (not counting the torso). In an explanation of the Bahá’í ringstone symbol (published in Má’idiy-i-Ásmání, vol. 2, pp. 10003 and mostly translated in MacEoin, Rituals, pp. 14344, also available online here), ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has explained that the star symbolizes the head, two arms, and two legs of the human body. The two “legs” of this star, spread out as they are, resemble the Arabic numeral 8 ( ۸ ). Where Shaykh Aḥmad asks, “how, then, can it be [only] one of the two?”, Maẓlúmí understands the subtext of this question to be yet another question: “Can the human body be healthy and active with only one thigh?” (the “thigh” representing the larger leg to which it belongs), by which is meant, “How can our concern be limited only to the advent of one of those two [Manifestations]?”, the intended meaning being that both the advent of the Mahdí (the Báb) and the Promised One (Bahá’u’lláh) must be anticipated. Furthermore, based on the numeric significance just mentioned, “wider than the two thighs” represents a number greater than 8, meaning 9. This means that the Promised One should be expected in the year 9 (which, as the Báb said in the Arabic Bayán 6:15, is the year in which “all good” would be attained)—that is, 9 years after the Declaration of the Báb (1844), meaning 1853, the year that marks the inauguration of Bahá’u’lláh’s mission. The year 1853 has also been alluded to by Shaykh Aḥmad as “the year after Ḥín,” this because in Abjad notation, “Ḥín” equates to 68, short for 1268 AH (1852 CE), making “the year after Ḥín” equivalent to 69, or 1269 AH (1853 CE). Moreover, while the letter ṣád itself equates to 90 in standard Abjad (abjad-i-kabír), it has a value of 9 according to a simplified kind of reckoning called abjad-i-ṣaghír, which generally involves retaining only the leftmost digit of the Abjad value and dispensing with any trailing zeros (discussed further in Maẓlúmí, Dúrríyyát-i-Mastúrih, pp. 1516)—and viewed in this light, Shaykh Aḥmad’s characterization of it as “the very ṣád which in your estimation is wider than the two thighs” can be interpreted as a pronouncement that there is no essential difference between the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh.

[87] “I.e., when the letter w is written out as a word it becomes waw; the abjad value of w is 6, thus followed by alif followed by six” (MacEoin, Rituals, p. 152, note 7).

[88] “The waw as pronounced has three letters, a waw = 6 (which refers to the “six Manifestations” before the Báb — according to the Twelver Shí‘a: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muḥammad); an alif [= 1] (which refers to the appearance of the Báb, the Qá’im of the House of Muḥammad); and a waw = 6 (which refers to the Universal Manifestation of Bahá’u’lláh which appeared after the alif) (MacEoin, Rituals, p. 148). Regarding “the mystery of the Great Reversal in the Sign of the Sovereign,” MacEoin writes that it “refers to the appearance of the second waw after the first waw; that is, after the first six Manifestations, the alif ‘rising up at the command of God’ will arise, and after it the Universal Manifestation of God will appear in the form of waw with the numerical value of six, which indicates that the manifestation of Bahá’u’lláh will be the equivalent of all past Manifestations” (MacEoin, Rituals, p. 148. Accompanying this excerpt is an endnote which reads: “Interpretation given by Ishráq-Khávarí, Raḥíq-i-Makhtúm, vol. 1, pp. 680–81; cf. letter from Shoghi Effendi to Ishráq-Khávarí in idem (ed.), Má’idiy-i-Ásmání, vol. 3, pp. 45; letter of Bahá’u’lláh to ‘Asad’ in ibid., vol. 1, pp. 1517 and Raḥíq, vol. 1, pp. 686–88; idem, letter in Má’idih, vol. 1, pp. 1213, Raḥíq, vol. 1, pp. 684–85” (Rituals, p. 152, note 9)).

[89] “In a letter to an individual called ‘Asad’ (Asadu’lláh), Bahá’u’lláh relates the idea of the first waw being completed by the alif to the Quranic verse ‘We created the heavens and the earth in six days’ (50:38; cf. 7:54, 10:3, 11:7, 25:59, 32:4, 57:4), stating that the (first) heaven and earth had been folded up like a scroll, that is the heavens raised in the Qur’án, together with their suns, moons, and stars (which are the ‘ulamá’, mystics, laws, and religious systems (sharáyi‘)) have all ended with the alif between the two waws” (MacEoin, Rituals, p. 148. Accompanying this excerpt is an endnote which reads: “Má’idih, vol. 1, p. 16, Raḥíq, vol. 1, p. 687; cf. letter to Mullá Aḥmad Ḥiṣárí in Má’idih, vol. 1, pp. 1415, Raḥíq, vol. 1, pp. 685–86” (Rituals, p. 152, note 10)).

[90] Which is to say that the previous six dispensations will culminate in the advent of the Bab.

[91] As has been mentioned in the preceding endnotes, the first six days is a figurative reference to the six Manifestations who came before the Báb, the alif to the Báb Himself, and the second six days to Bahá’u’lláh.

[92] Lambden states that this “return” refers to an inverted, backward-stretching wáw, a symbol which is found in certain Islamic depictions of the Greatest Name and which originates with a poem attributed to the Imám ‘Alí (a translation of which is quoted in MacEoin, Rituals, p. 145). Here is one such depiction:

islamic_depiction_greatest_name

(Image taken from Maẓlúmí, Durríyyát-i-Mastúrih, p. 65)

This wáw represents “the eschatological ‘return’ [raj‘a] expected by peoples of earlier ages or religious dispensations.” Lambden goes on to say that, “The fact that the inverted waw stretches backwards and has an Abjad value of six probably led to the idea that the messianic advent of Bahá’u’lláh has reversed the faith‑status or rank of all previous unbelieving religionists.” Refer also to these additional utterances of Bahá’u’lláh on “the return” and “the Resurrection” in His Súriy-i-Vafá.

[93] Further to Lambden’s comments mentioned in the preceding endnote, Maẓlúmí has observed the graphic similarity of the inverted, backward-stretching wáw to a banner (or “standard”), especially in light of one of Bahá’u’lláh’s own explanations (partially published in Má’idiy-i-Ásmání, vol. 1, p. 15) of “the mystery of the Great Reversal in the Sign of the Sovereign,” where He seems to refer to this characteristic of that symbol as “the Standard of the Sovereign” [‘alam al-ra’ís]. Maẓlúmí then highlights connections between this symbolism and such Islamic terms as liwá’ al-ma‘qúd [“the Upraised Standard”], which ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has interpreted as a reference to the Covenant, and liwá’ al-ḥamd [“the Standard of Praise”], which Siyyid Káẓim used repeatedly in his writings and which can be read as a symbol for Bahá’u’lláh in that its value, without the al- prefix, is 9 (the same value as Bahá’) according to abjad-i-ṣaghír. Thus, in this sense, the extended, overhanging curvature of the inverted wáw can be regarded as a symbol of Bahá’u’lláh as either the standard-bearer, or the standard itself, of the all-encompassing peace and security His advent would bring. It seems highly relevant to cite the following words of Bahá’u’lláh in this particular connection: “The ‘far-extended shadow’ [ẓill-i-ẓalíl] is that shade which saveth men from the fire of passion and desire and granteth peace. Were this shade to disappear, the sun of the Resurrection would melt every body and soul. This shade is that standard whereof it is said that it will be hoisted after the appearance of the Qá’im and all the Prophets shall gather beneath its shadow. That standard is now hoisted, and that shadow cast far and wide. No limit for it can be seen; every eye beholdeth it to the extent of its capacity” (Passage from a Tablet of Bahá’u’lláh published in Má’idiy-i-Ásmání, vol. 8, p. 19; provisional translation and emphases mine). ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has also used the terms liwá’ al-ma‘qúd and liwá’ al-ḥamd in this same sense. For examples, see Makátíb-i-Ḥaḍrat-i-‘Abdu’l-Bahá, vol. 2, p. 128, and Má’idiy-i-Ásmání, vol. 5, p. 242.

[94] Refer to the Kitáb-i-Aqdas ¶ 157, as well as notes 171 and 172. To illustrate the meaning of “the mystery of the Great Reversal in the Sign of the Sovereign,” Bahá’u’lláh Himself points, in a Tablet (partially published in Má’idiy-i-Ásmání, vol. 1, p. 14) revealed in response to a direct question about that phrase, to the example of Shaykh Muḥammad-Ḥasan Najafí, whom He characterizes as “the pivot of the ‘ulamás of Iran” [quṭb-i-‘ulamáy-i-írán], as well as other clergymen like him, who all remained shut out and debarred when the Báb promoted the Word of God and declared His Cause, hurling curses at Him as they did from their pulpits; rejecting the One Whose advent they had, for ages and centuries, fervently prayed God to hasten; and ultimately shedding His blood. Bahá’u’lláh then compares this behavior with that of common folk who have embraced the Cause—the “sifter of wheat” mentioned in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas being a good example—and describes how, as a result of their acceptance, these people drank from the Ocean of divine knowledge; found a path to the Most Exalted Horizon; and exclaimed “Here am I!” [labbayka] “on the Day in which the shrill voice of the Pen of the Most High was lifted up” (ibid.). Bahá’u’lláh also makes this same comparison between Najafí and the aforementioned sifter of wheat, Mullá Muḥammad Ja‘far Gandum-Pák-Kun, in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas ¶ 166 (see also note 179).

[95] Denis MacEoin also writes, “A further meaning [of “the mystery of the Great Reversal in the Sign of the Sovereign”] is given by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá . . . that all the revolutionary events of the past would be reproduced exactly in the subsequent revelation. The word chief [or “sovereign”] (al-ra’is) in the following phrase is interpreted by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as a direct reference to Bahá’u’lláh. In the exordium to a tafsír written by him on the Quranic verse ‘He knows the Unseen and reveals not His unseen to anyone’ (72:26), he refers to the letters of the title Bahá’ and continues, ‘He desired to free them from vain fancy and to draw them nigh unto the known; he sent down to them the explanation and gave them tidings of the ‘remaining six’ and their appearance in the realm of creation and explained to them the mystery of the inversion [or “reversal”] and the appearance of the chief [or “sovereign”]; and when he appeared, all created things were thrown into confusion . . .” (Rituals, pp. 148–49. Accompanying this excerpt is an endnote which reads: “In Raḥíq, vol. 1, p. 682” (Rituals, p. 152, note 13)).

[96] Khazeh Fananapazir has pointed out a possible connection between the mention of “the mystery of the Great Reversal” at this juncture in Shaykh Aḥmad’s treatise and Qur’án 36:68: “And whoever We grant a long life, We reverse them in development” (The Clear Quran). (The word rendered here as “We reverse them” is nunakkishu, derived from tankís, which translates to “reversal” and is the same word used in “the Great Reversal in the Sign of the Sovereign.”) According to Fananapazir, in mentioning the Great Reversal here, Shaykh Aḥmad may be alluding to the “long life” of Islam and the resulting need for some sort of renewal, which the advent of the Báb—the focus of Shaykh Aḥmad’s composition—was to bring about.

[97] Again, “the remaining six” being Bahá’u’lláh. Refer to the Kitáb-i-Aqdas ¶ 157, as well as notes 171 and 172.

[98] The Qá’im or Mahdí, which is to say the Báb.

[99] Bahá’, short for Bahá’u’lláh.

[100] “The word composed of two letters from ‘Alláh’” seems to have multiple layers to it. According to Lambden, this word is huwa (“He”), composed of the letters há’ and wáw. This denotes God (or the divinity of His Manifestation), and per Abjad notation, há’ and wáw equate to 5 and 6 (respectively), which add up to 11, represented by “the two alifs standing upright,” in that “11,” written out in (actual) Arabic numerals, resembles two alifs placed side by side ( ا ا ). Additionally, Maẓlúmí has noted (in Durríyyát-i-Mastúrih, p. 55) that, when the values of two specific letters that compose the word “Alláh” are added—the duplicated lám (30 x 2 = 60) and the há’ (5)—the result is 65, which consists of the numbers 6 and 5, equivalent to the há’ and wáw that make up huwa. Maẓlúmí has further asserted (in ibid.) that the wáw that composes huwa in this context is actually the inverted, backward-stretching wáw that represents Bahá’u’lláh and has been discussed in previous endnotes. Viewed in this light, há’, the other letter that composes huwa, might be interpreted as a symbolic reference to the Báb, in that “Báb” and the letter há’ both share an Abjad value of 5.

[101] Here, Shaykh Aḥmad is merely restating that, when the Abjad values of the há’ (5) and wáw (6) that make up huwa are added, the result is 11, as explained in the preceding endnote.

[102] This may mean, according to Lambden, that when the Abjad value of huwa (11) is added to the two alifs (1 and 1), the result is 13, which is the Abjad equivalent of aḥad, the Arabic word for “one,” perhaps to suggest the essential oneness of the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh. 13 is also the result of adding the Abjad values of wáw (6), alif (1), and wáw (6), the letters that compose the word wáw.

[103] In addition to Lambden’s comments in the preceding endnote, Maẓlúmí has offered (in Durríyyát-i-Mastúrih, p. 56) three possible interpretations of this statement, “and with them both [i.e., the two alifs] 13 is yielded,” which she reads as meaning “it is through those very two symbols that the significance of 13 is made apparent”:

1) Shaykh Aḥmad was employing a kind of “jafrí reckoning” (arithmomancy), whereby the number 13, when treated as discrete numbers and added together, equates to 4—and when 4 is distributed across its constituent numbers, the result is 1 1 1 1, which according to a particularly complicated kind of reckoning (explained by Maẓlúmí in Durríyyát-i-Mastúrih, p. 19) correspond to the letters Ẓ H Ú R, an abbreviated form of ẓuhúr, meaning “revelation,” as if to say that “it is through the arising of those two alifs that the Revelation is fulfilled.”

2) Since the letter há’ (5), equivalent to “Báb,” and the inverted, backward-stretching wáw (6), a symbol for Bahá’u’lláh, each represent one of the two long-awaited promised Figures of major religious traditions, they can be accounted as the two most important of all the symbols that make up the Islamic depiction of the Greatest Name pictured in a previous endnote. It is in this sense that Shaykh Aḥmad may have been stating that this depiction, composed of 13 parts, is completed through the presence of those two alifs—that is, those two symbols, read more figuratively. (For a more detailed analysis of this depiction of the Greatest Name and the relevant interpretation offered here, refer to Appendix 1 of Durríyyát-i-Mastúrih in pp. 65ff.)

3) It is also possible to arrive at the number 13 in this context by adding up the Abjad values of “Báb” when considered additively (5) and “Bahá” discretely (152, minus the isolated hamza at the end), in that 5 + 1 + 5 + 2 = 13.

[104] It has been discussed in the preceding endnotes that há’ and wáw put together make huwa (“He”), and also that the second constituent wáw in the word wáw symbolizes Bahá’u’lláh. This leaves “that which is há’,” which may refer to the Báb, in that the Abjad value of the word “Báb” is 5, which is numerically equivalent to há’.

[105] According to Maẓlúmí (in Durríyyát-i-Mastúrih, p. 56), the subtext of this rhetorical question by Shaykh Aḥmad, considering his repeated intimations that one Manifestation must necessarily follow the other, is that Bahá’u’lláh (the inverted, backward-stretching wáw) will succeed the Báb (the há’) after a short span of time. It is also likely yet another allusion to their essential oneness. Note also what Bahá’u’lláh Himself has said on that subject in this very Tablet: “. . . behold the Most Great Remembrance of God [the Báb] seated on the Throne of Revelation [Bahá’u’lláh], even as the letter há’ [the Báb] hath been established upon the letter wáw [Bahá’u’lláh]” (¶ 10).

[106] Which is to say the alif (1), symbolizing the Báb, positioned between the two wáws (6 and 6).

[107] The sum of six and sixty is 66. Maẓlúmí has observed (in Durríyyát-i-Mastúrih, p. 57) that this is equivalent to the Abjad value of Alláh, giving us “the mystery of God,” which “everyone was trying to unravel” (ibid.). This term should not necessarily be construed as an oblique reference to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, on Whom this same title was later conferred by Bahá’u’lláh.

[108] Maẓlúmí has asserted (in Durríyyát-i-Mastúrih, p. 57) that the original word translated here as “its six” should be read as sidsihá (سِدسها) to give that meaning, in that sids has been defined in the al-Munjid dictionary as a synonym of “six”—this in contrast to sudsihá (سُدسها), which would mean “its sixth” or “one sixth of it.” Furthermore, Maẓlúmí states that the referent of “its” is itself “six,” denoting Bahá’u’lláh. The significance of this is explained in the following endnote.

[109] To expand on the preceding endnote, Bahá’u’lláh is here equating “the six” of “the six” with “its fourth.” In this connection, Maẓlúmí reiterates (in Durríyyát-i-Mastúrih, p. 58) that “six” is synonymous with Bahá’u’lláh because He is symbolized by the letter wáw, which has an Abjad value of six. To make sense of “the six” of Bahá’u’lláh, Maẓlúmí continues, we must consider the word Bahá’ itself when written out in the original script (بهاء), and how the isolated hamza at the end (ء) resembles the top part of the Persian numeral six (۶). To support this connection, Maẓlúmí quotes a passage from a lengthy Tablet of Bahá’u’lláh (the Lawḥ-i-‘Abdu’r-Razzáq) in which He Himself states that the hamza is geometrically equivalent to six precisely because of its shape (Iqtidárát va Chand Lawḥ-i-Dígar, p. 65). As for “the fourth” of Bahá’u’lláh: similar to Maẓlúmí’s reading of سدسها as sidsihá, she asserts that the original word here, written as ربعها , should be read as rábi‘uhá (رابعها), meaning “its fourth,” as if the alif after the rá’ has been dropped—this in contrast to rub‘uhá, meaning “a quarter of it” or “a fourth of it.” To corroborate this reading and demonstrate that this kind of deliberate omission was not an uncommon practice, Maẓlúmí gives several examples, in an accompanying footnote, of words from other Shaykhí writings whose middle alifs have been dropped. Thus, if read as “its fourth”—that is, the fourth of Bahá’u’lláh—this can be understood to mean “the fourth letter of Bahá’,” a reference to the isolated hamza at the end of that word. This would be consistent with the aforementioned reading of “the six of Bahá’u’lláh,” and would explain why Shaykh Aḥmad treats the two numbers synonymously (“its six, which is its fourth”).

[110] As has been discussed, “the six” and “the fourth letter” are synonyms in this context, and both refer to Bahá’u’lláh. Regarding “the completer” of the six, Maẓlúmí writes (in Durríyyát-i-Mastúrih, p. 58) that we must consider that, among the four constituent letters of the word Bahá’ (بهاء), Shaykh Aḥmad has already discussed the há’ (ه) and the hamza (ء), leaving only the bá’ (ب) and the alif (ا), and that these two remaining letters, therefore, must be considered jointly as “the completer” of the six. As to how “the completer” functions in this “six” (the word Bahá’) through “the two outstretched alifs in it,” Maẓlúmí quotes a passage from Bahá’u’lláh’s commentary on the disconnected letters of the Qur’án in which He states that the alif can be equivalent to the bá’ (Má’idiy-i-Ásmání, vol. 4, p. 72), and, on this basis, observes that the base glyph of the letter bá’ resembles a recumbent alif. It is with this reading, writes Maẓlúmí, that the remaining letters bá’ and alif are both represented in the phrase “the two outstretched alifs,” whose presence “completes” the word Bahá’.

[111] Maẓlúmí has surmised (in Durríyyát-i-Mastúrih, p. 59) that the referent of this “its” is apparently either the word “revelation” implicit in the word “revealed” as it occurs in the earlier phrase “Then will the mystery of the six and the sixty be revealed in its six . . .,” or Alláh, represented numerically by “the six and the sixty.”

[112] Maẓlúmí writes (in Durríyyát-i-Mastúrih, p. 59) that the alif here, as has been previously discussed, symbolizes the Báb, Who will descend from “the wide point”—a reference to the Arabic letter há’ (ه), which resembles a hollow dot and has an Abjad value of 5, equivalent to “Báb” in Abjad notation—into a position between “the [first] six” (the Dispensations that preceded Him) and “the [second] six” (the Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh).

[113] Maẓlúmí has made a connection (in Durríyyát-i-Mastúrih, p. 59) between the original term translated here as “the blessed night” [al-laylat al-mubáraka] and the Islamic concept of “the Night of Decree” [al-laylat al-qadr], and observed that the word al-qadr in that phrase equates to 11 according to abjad-i-ṣaghír, and that this is the abjad-i-kabír value of huwa (“He”). Maẓlúmí then reiterates that, when the number 11 is treated as two discrete numbers and then added together, the sum is 2, which is the Abjad value of bá’, short for Bahá’u’lláh. It is in this way, Maẓlúmí concludes, that 11 here is symbolic of Bahá’u’lláh, the Qayyúm Whom Siyyid Káẓim recognized must necessarily succeed the Qá’im. It also bears repeating that, in His commentary on the disconnected letters of the Qur’án, Bahá’u’lláh has identified Himself in one sense with the letter alif, and that this identification seems applicable here as “the second alif.” Elsewhere in her analysis (Durríyyát-i-Mastúrih, p. 39), Maẓlúmí has also noted, in connection with the verse “We revealed it [the Qur’án] on the Night of Decree [qadr]” (Qur’án 97:1), that the value of qadr by itself (sans the al- prefix) is equivalent to 304 per abjad-i-kabír, but that according to abjad-i-ṣaghír its value is 7 (3 + 0 + 4 = 7). Maẓlúmí states that, if this simplified value of 7 is borne in mind while reading the full value of 304 from right to left, one can see that 4 is equivalent to the number of letters in the name Ḥusayn when written in the Perso-Arabic script (حسین), and that 3 is the number of constituent letters in the original-language spelling of ‘Alí (علی). When combined, the result is Ḥusayn-‘Alí, the name of Bahá’u’lláh, totaling 7 letters. Maẓlúmí then builds on this by pointing out that the name Muḥammad originally consists of 4 letters (محمد), the significance being that Muḥammad is part of the Báb’s name (‘Alí-Muḥammad), and that, when these two numbers—7 and 4, each representing a Manifestation of God—are added together, the result is 11. This, again, is the Abjad value of huwa (“He”), and further solidifies not only the idea that the Twin Manifestations must appear in close succession, but also that they are essentially one, simultaneously denoted as they both are by the word “He.”

[114] In connection with the earlier passage about “the wáw which is há’,” Maẓlúmí writes (in Durríyyát-i-Mastúrih, p. 60) that “the first concealed name” is the letter bá’, here short for “Báb.” The significance of His appearing on Thursday is that He has been symbolized by the letter há’, which has an Abjad value of 5, and this is alluded to in another way in this sentence with the mention of Thursday, which is the fifth day of the week. Implicit in the second half of this sentence (“and then Friday shall complete the mystery”) is a second concealed name that will appear subsequently to the Báb. According to Maẓlúmí, this, too, is the letter bá’, short for “Bahá’u’lláh” in this case. The significance of His appearing on Friday is that He has been symbolized by the letter wáw, which has an Abjad value of 6, and this is alluded to in another way in this sentence with the mention of Friday, which is the sixth day of the week. Maẓlúmí also notes here that, when inverted, the wáw also bears some resemblance to the hamza (ء) and Persian numeral 6 (۶), both of which, as has been discussed in previous endnotes, are themselves symbolic of Bahá’u’lláh. In all this symbolism, we have yet another way in which Shaykh Aḥmad represents the values of 5 (the Báb) and 6 (Bahá’u’lláh), and how the two make 11—equivalent to the Abjad value of huwa (“He”)—when combined.

[115] In this sentence, Shaykh Aḥmad is clearly referencing the first several verses of “the Súrih of Smoke” (Qur’án 44:3–10), and Maẓlúmí writes (in Durríyyát-i-Mastúrih, pp. 6061) that his intention was to interpret these verses as figurative events in connection with the death of the Qá’im. According to Maẓlúmí, the “pure water” that will flow forth symbolizes the blood of the Báb that would be spilled as a result of His martyrdom, and the sky coming “with manifest smoke” refers to this consequence of that tragic event described by Nabíl-i-Zarandí: “The smoke of the firing of the seven hundred and fifty rifles was such as to turn the light of the noonday sun into darkness” (The Dawn-Breakers, p. 512).

[116] The letter há’ being a voiceless consonant (more specifically, a voiceless glottal fricative).

[117] Maẓlúmí writes (in Durríyyát-i-Mastúrih, pp. 6162) that, at this juncture, Shaykh Aḥmad is alluding to the station of distinction between the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh with reference to the aforementioned Islamic depiction of the Greatest Name, which features a há’ (the Báb) that is separate from the inverted, backward-stretching wáw (Bahá’u’lláh). According to Maẓlúmí, it is the Imám ‘Alí who designed that depiction, and thus “affirmed” the separation that would, in a biological and chronological sense, exist between the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh, both represented in that depiction by the two letters that make up huwa (“He”).

[118] The key word in this sentence is obviously váḥid, which has an Abjad value of 19 and, on that basis, a multilayered significance in this context, according to Maẓlúmí (Durríyyát-i-Mastúrih, pp. 6263). Where Shaykh Aḥmad writes “There is nothing else within the váḥid,” Maẓlúmí interprets this as an allusion to the nineteen years—no more, no less—that must separate the declarations of the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh. As to “nor any other between it [the váḥid],” Maẓlúmí takes this, on the one hand, to denote the one ministry—that of the Báb—which would be in effect during those nineteen years, and, on the other hand, the nineteen Letters of the Living (including the Báb Himself), each simultaneously functioning as one of the “guardians” of the Báb’s religion and representing one of those nineteen intervening years. With this understanding, we can interpret the final part of the sentence, “else it [the váḥid] would be other than the váḥid,” to mean that if the number of intervening years between the ministries of the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh (along with the Letters of the Living who represent those years) were to be altered in any way, the resulting number would no longer be equivalent to the Abjad value of váḥid (19). Maẓlúmí then concludes that this interpretation would have necessarily disqualified any other so-called messianic figure from advancing a legitimate claim during those nineteen intervening years, reinforcing the fact that, after the death of the Báb, Mírzá Yaḥyá was little more than a nominal figurehead and a diversion from the true Promised One, Bahá’u’lláh, who would proclaim His mission at the end of that nineteen-year period.

[119] A paraphrase (albeit nearly identical to the actual text) of Qur’án 29:43.

[120] Qur’án 22:45.

[121] A reference to Bahá’u’lláh as the divine Joseph, quite relevant to the imagery of the well, travelers, and bucket mentioned in the surrounding sentences.

[122] cf. Qur’án 12:19.

[123] Khazeh Fananapazir has hypothesized that Bahá’u’lláh may not have been referring to Karím Khán Kirmání’s actual descendants here, but perhaps the Shaykhí school more generally (of which he was the leader), or even more figuratively the entire province of Kirmán from which he hailed, known as it was for its perversity: “O Land of Káf and Rá [Kirmán]!⁠ We, verily, behold thee in a state displeasing unto God, and see proceeding from thee that which is inscrutable to anyone save Him, the Omniscient, the All-Informed; and We perceive that which secretly and stealthily diffuseth from thee . . .” (Bahá’u’lláh, Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶ 164). Moojan Momen has elaborated on the “displeasing state” of Kirmán at this time in The Bahá’í Communities of Iran, Volume 2: The South of Iran, pp. 423–442.

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

يکی از احبّای إلهی مکتوبی بحاجی محمّد کريم خان نوشته و در آن مکتوب سؤالات چندی نموده و از قراريکه استماع شد خان مذکور از معانی غافل شده بألفاظ تمسّک جسته و اعتراض نموده ليدحض الحقّ بما عنده * و لکن غافل از اينکه يُحقّقُ اللّهُ الحقّ بکلماته و يَقْطَعَ دابرَ المشرکين * أوّل آن مکتوب باينکلمات مزّين * الحمد للّه الّذی کَشَفَ القِناعَ عن وجه الأولياء * خان مذکور اعتراض نموده که اين عبارت غلط است و صاحب اين مکتوب گويا بحرفی از علم و اصطلاحات قوم فائز نشده چه که قناع مخصوص رؤس نساء است * باعتراض بر الفاظ مشغول شده و غافل از اينکه خود از علم و معلوم هر دو بی بهره مانده * أصحاب إلهی اليوم اين علومی را که او علم دانسته ننگ ميدانند علميکه محبوبست آن بوده که ناس را بحق هدايت کند بعد از انکه نفسی بآن فائز نشد آن علم حجاب أکبر بوده و خواهد بود * و اعتراضات او ديده نشد مگر همين يک فقره که آنهم شنيده شد و آن فقره بمنظر أکبر رسيد لذا از مظهر امر در جواب اعتراض او اين لوح ابدع اقدس اطهر نازل که شايد ناس بامثال اين اعتراضات از مالک اسماء و صفات محروم نمانند و کلمه عُليا را از کلمه سُفلی تميز دهند و بشطر اللّه العليّ الأعلی توجّه نمايند * مَنْ اهْتَدَی فَلِنَفْسِهِ وَ مَنْ أعرَضَ إِنَّ اللّهَ لَغَنِيّ حَمِيْد *

﴿ بسم اللّه العليم الحکيم ﴾

يا أيُّها المعروف بالعلم و القائمُ علی شفا حفرة الجهل * إنّا سمعنا بأنّک أعرضتَ عن الحقّ و اعترضتَ علی أحد من أحبّائه الّذی أرسَلَ إليک کتابا کريما لِيَهديَکَ الی اللّهِ ربّکَ و رَبّ العالمين * إنّک اعترضت عليه و اتّبعتَ سننَ الجاهلين * و بذلک ضيّعتَ حُرمتَک بين عباد اللّه لأنّا باعتراضِک وجدناکَ علی جهل عظيم * إنّکَ ما اطّلعتَ علی قواعد القوم و اصطلاحاتِهم و ما دخلتَ روضةَ المعانی و البيان و کنتَ من الغافلين * و ما عرفتَ الفصاحةَ و البلاغةَ و لا المجازَ و لا الحقيقةَ و لا التّشبيهَ و لا الاستعارةَ لذا نلقی عليک ما تطّلع به علی جهلکَ و تکونُ من المنصفين * إنّک لو سلکتَ سُبُلَ أهلِ الأدب ما اعترضتَ عليه فی لفظ القناع و لم تکن من المجادلين * و کذلک اعترضت علی کلمات اللّه فی هذا الظُّهور البديع * أما سَمِعْتَ ذکْرَ المُقنَّع و هو المعروف بالمُقنَّعِ الکندی و هو محمَّدُ بن ظَفَرَ بنِ عُمَيْر بن فِرعانَ بن قَيْسِ بنِ أسودَ و کان من المعروفين * إنّا لو نريدُ أن نذکرَ آباءَه واحدا بعد واحد الی أن ينتهی الی البديع الأوّل لَنَقْدِرُ بما علّمنی ربّی علومَ الأوّلين و الآخِرين * مع أنّا ما قرأنا علومَکم و اللّهُ علی ذلک شهيد و عليم * و إنّه أجملُ النّاس وجهًا و أکملهم خُلقًا و أعدلهم قَوامًا * فانظر فی کتب القوم لِتَعْرِفَ و تکون من العارفين * و کان إذا اسْفَرَ اللِّثامَ عن وجهه أصابَتْهُ العينُ فَيَمْرَضُ لذا لا يمشی إلّا مُقَنَّعًا أی مغطّيا وجهَه کذلک ذُکر فی کتب العرب العرباء و الأدباء و الفصحاء * فانظر فيها لعلّ تکونُ من المطّلعين * و إنّه هو الّذی يُضْرَبُ به المثلُ فی الجمال کما يُضْرَبُ بزرقاء اليمامة فی حدَّة البصر و بابنِ أصْمَعَ فی سَعَة الرّواية لو کنتَ من العالمين * و کذلک فی طلب الثّار بالمُهَلْهَل و الوفاء بالسّمَوئل وجَوْدَة الرّأی بقيس بن زُهَيْرٍ و الجودِ بحاتِم و الحِلم بمَعَن بنِ زائدةَ و الفصاحةِ بقُسِّ بنِ صاعدة و الحکمة بلقمانَ و کذلک فی الخطبة بسحبانَ وائل و الفراسة بعامرِ بن طُفَيْلٍ و الحِذْقِ باياسِ بنِ معاوية بنِ القُرّةِ و الحفظ بحمّاد * هؤلاء من مشاهير العرب الّذين تُرْسَلُ بهم الأمثالُ * طَالِعْ فی الکتب لعلّ لا تدحِضُ الحقَّ بما عندک و تکونُ من المتنبّهين * و توقنُ بأنّ علماءَ الأدب استعملوا لفظَ القِناع فی الرّجال کما ذکرناه لک ببيان ظاهر مبين * 

ثمّ اعلم بأنّ القِناع مخصوص بالنّساء و يَسْتُرْنَ به رؤسَهنّ ولکن استُعْمِلَ فی الرّجال و الوجه مجازا إن کنتَ من المطّلعين * و کذلک اللّثام مخصوص بالمرأَة يقال لثمت المرأةُ أی شدّت اللّثامَ علی فمها * ثمّ استُعْمِلَ فی الرّجال و الوجه کما ذکر فی الکتب الأدبيّة * أسْفَرَ اللّثامَ عن وجهه أی کشف النِّقابَ * إيّاک أن تعترضَ بالکلمات علی الّذی خضعت الآيات لوجهه المشرق المنير * خَفْ عن اللّه الّذی خلقک و سوّاک و لا تشمِتِ الّذين آمنوا و أنفقوا أنفسَهم و أموالَهم فی سبيل اللّه الملک العزيز القدير *

قل ما کان مقصودنا فيما أرسلناه إليک إلّا بأن تکون متذکِّرا فيما فرّطتَ فی جنب اللّه و تتّخذ لنفسک إليه سبيلا * إنّا أردنا هدايتَک و إنّک أردتَ ضُرّنا و استهزأتَ بنا کما استهزأ قوم قبلک و هم اليومَ فی أسفل الجحيم * إنّک من الّذين إذ نزّل الفرقانُ من لدی الرَّحمن قالوا: ﴿ إِنْ هَذَا إِلَّا أَسَاطِيرُ الأَوَّلِينَ ﴾ و اعترضوا علی أکثر آياته فانظر فی الإتقان ثمّ فی کتب أُخری لِتَرَی و تَعلمَ ما اعترضتَ به من قبل علی محمّد رسول اللّه و خاتم النّبيّين * إِنَّا عرّفناکَ نفسَک لِتعْرِفَها و تکونَ علی بصيرة من لدی البصير * قل عند ربّی خزائنُ العلوم و علمُ الخلائق أجمعين * ارفع رأسَک عن فِراش الغفلة لِتُشاهدَ ذکر اللّه الأعظم مستويا علی عرش الظّهور کاستواء الهاء علی الواو * قم عن رقد الهوی ثمّ اتَّبعْ ربَّک العليَّ الأعلی * دَعْ ما عندک وراءَک و خُذْ ما آتاک من لدی اللّه العزيز الحکيم * قل يا أيّها الجاهل انظر فی کلمات اللّه ببصره لِتَجدَهُنّ مقدّساتٍ عن إشارات القوم و قواعدهم بعد ما کان عنده علوم العالمين * 

قل إنّ آياتِ اللّه لو تنزل علی قواعدکم و ما عندکم إنّها تکون مثلَ کلماتِکم يا معشَرَ المحتجبين * قل إنّها نزّلت من مقام لا يذکر فيه دونه و جعله اللّهُ مقدّسا عن عرفان العالمين * و کيف أنت و أمثالک يا أيّها المنکر البعيد * إنّها نزِّلَتْ علی لسان القوم لا علی قواعدک المجعولة يا أيّها المعرض المريب * أنْصِفْ باللّه لو توضَعُ قدرةُ العالَم فی قلبک هل تقدر أن تقومَ علی أمر يعترض عليه النّاس و عن ورائهم الملوکُ و السّلاطين * لا و ربّی لا يقوم أحدٌ و لن تستطيعَ نفسٌ إلّا من أقامه اللّه مقامَ نفسه و إنّه هو هذا و ينطق فی کلّ شأن إنّه لا إله إلّا هو الواحد الفرد المعتَمَد العليم الخبير * لو يتکدّر منک قلبُ أحد من خدّام السّلطان فی أقلَّ من آن لَتَضطرِبُ فی الحين * و إنّک لو تنکرنی فی ذلک يصدّقني عبادُ اللّه المخلصون * و مع ذلک تعترض علی الّذی اعترض عليه الدِّول فی سنينَ معدوداتٍ و ورد عليه ما ناح به الرُّوحُ الأمين الی أن سُجِنَ فی هذَا السّجن البعيد *

قل أنِ افتَحِ البصرَ إنّ الأمرَ علا و ظهر و الشَّجرَ ينطقُ بأسرار القَدَرِ هل تری لنفسک من مفرّ تاللّه ليس لأحد مفرّ و لا مستقرّ إلّا لمن توجّه الی المنظر الأکبر هذا المقامِ الأطهر الّذی اشتهر ذکرُهُ بين العالمين * قل أتعترض بالقِناع علی الّذی آمن بسلطان الإبداع و الاختراع * و الّذی اعترض اليومَ إنّه من همج رعاع عند اللّه فاطرِ السّموات و الأرضين * قل يا أيّها الغافل اسمع تَغَنّيَ الورقاء علی أفنان سدرة المنتهی و لا تکن من الجاهلين * إنّ هذا هو الّذی أخبرکم به کاظم و أحمد و من قبلهما النّبيُّون و المرسلون * اتّق اللّهَ و لا تجادل بآياته بعد إنزالها إنّها نزّلت بالفطرة من جبروت اللّه ربّک و ربّ العالمين * و إنّها لحجّة اللّه فی کلّ الأعصار و لا يَعْقِلُها إلّا الّذينهم انقطعوا عمّا عندهم و توجّهوا الی هذا النّبأ العظيم * 

يا أيّها البعيد لو أنّ ربّک الرّحمنَ يظهر علی حدوداتک لَتَنْزِلُ آياتُهُ علی القاعدة الّتی أنت عليها تُبْ الی اللّه و قل:

سبحانک اللّهمَّ يا إلهی أنا الّذی فرّطتُ فی جنبک و اعترضتُ علی ما نزّل من عندک ثمّ اتّبعتُ النّفسَ و الهوی و غفلتُ عن ذکرک العليّ الأبهی * يا إلهی لا تأخُذْني بجريراتی طهّرنی عن العصيان ثمّ أرْسِلْ عَلَيَّ من شطر فضلک روائحَ الغفران ثمّ قدّر لی مَقْعَدَ صدقٍ عندک ثمّ الحِقنی بعبادک المخلصين * يا إلهی و محبوبي لا تَحرِمْنی عن نفحات کلماتک العُليا و لا من فوحات قميصک الأبهی * ثمّ أرْضِنی بما نزّل من عندک و قدّر من لدنک إنّک فعّال لما تشاء و إنّک أنت الغفور الجوّاد المعطی الکريم *

اسمع قولی دَعِ الإشارات لأهلها و طهّر قلبَک عن الکلماتِ التی تُورِثُ سوادَ الوجه فی الدّارين * إطْلَعْ من خلف الحجبات و الإشارات و توجّه بوجه منير الی مالک الأسماء و الصّفات لِتَجِدَ نفسَک فی أعلی المقام الّذی انْقطعَتْ عنه إشاراتُ المريبين * کذلک نصحک القلمُ الأعلی إن أقبلت لنفسک و إن أعرضتَ فعليها إنّ ربّک الرّحمنَ لغنيّ عمّا کان و عمّا يکون و إِنَّهُ لَهُوَ الغَنِيُّ الحَمِيدُ *

بلسان پارسی ذکر ميشود که شايد عرف قميص رحماني را از کلمات منزله پارسيّه ادراک نمائي و منقطعا عن الأشطار بشطر أحديّه توجّه کنی * اگر چه هر طيری از کُدس رحمت رحمانيّه و خرمن حکم صمدانيّه نصيب نبرده و قادر بر التقاط نه * طير بيان بايد در هواء قدس رحمان طيران نمايد و از خرمنهای معانی قسمت برد * تا قلوب و افئده ناس بذکر اين و آن مشغول از عرف روضه رضوان محروم * بشنو نصح اين مسجون را و ببازوی يقين سدّ محکم متين بنا کن شايد از يأجوج نفس و هوی محفوظ ماني و بعنايت خضر أيّام بکوثر بقا فائز شوی و بمنظر أکبر توجّه نمائی * 

دنيا را بقائی نه و طالبان آنرا وفائي مشهود نه لا تطمئنَّ من الدّنيا فکّر فی تغييرها و انقلابها * أيْنَ مَنْ بَنَی الخَوَرْنَقَ و السّديرَ * و أين من أراد أن يرتقی الی الأثير * کم من قصر استراح فيه بانيه فی الأصيل بالعافية و الخير و غدا ملکه الغيرُ * و کم من بيت ارتفع فی العشيّ فيه القهقهةُ و شدوا الزّرقاءَ و فی الإشراق نحيبُ البکاء * أيّ عزيز ما ذلّ و أيّ أمر ما بُدِّلَ و أی روح ما راح و أيّ ظالم شَرِبَ کأسَ الفلاح * 

و همچنين بعلوم ظاهره افتخار منما * و فوق کلّ ذی علم عليم * فاعلم لکلّ صارم کلالٌ و لکلّ فرح ملال و لکلّ عزيز ذِلّة و لکلّ عالم زَلّة * تقوی پيشه کن و بدبستان علم إلهی وارد شو * اتَّقَوُا اللّهَ وَ يُعَلِّمُکُم اللّهُ * قلب را از إشارات قوم مقدّس نما تا بتجلّيات أسماء و صفات إلهی منوَّر شود * چشم اعراض بربند و بصر انصاف بگشا و بر أحبّای إلهی اعتراض مکن * قسم بشمس أُفق ظهور که اگر از علوم ظاهره هم کما هو حقّها نصيب ميبردی هر آينه از لفظ قِناع بر دوستان مالک إبداع و اختراع اعتراض نمينمودی * صَهْ لسانَک عن الأولياء يا أيّها الهائم فی هيماء الجهل و العَمی * 

مصلحت در آنست که قدری در کتب بيان و بديع ملاحظه کنی شايد از قواعد ظاهره مطلع شوی چه که اگر بر حقيقت و مجاز و مقامات تحويل اسناد و استعاره و کنايه مطّلع ميشدی اعتراض نمينمودی که قِناع در وجه استعمال نشده * ببصر مشرکين در کلمات محبّين ربّ العالمين نظر مکن * 

و أمّا القِناعُ و المِقْنَعَة دو جامه‌اند که نساء روُس خود را بآن ميپوشانند مخصوص است از برآی رؤس نساء و لکن در رجال و وجه مجازًا استعمال شده * و همچنين لثام آنست که نساء بآن دهان خود را ميپوشانند چنانچه أهل فارس و ترک بيَشْماق تعبير مينمايند و در رجال و وجه مجازاً استعمال شده چنانچه در کتب أدبيّه مذکور است * فانظر فی کتب القوم لِتَجِدَ ما غَفَلْتَ عنه * 

و آن نامه را يکی از أحبّای إلهی بشما نوشته و مقصود او انکه شما را از ظلمت نفسانيّه نجات دهد و بشطر أحديّه کشاند و تو اظهار فضل نمودی و لکن أخطأ سَهْمُکَ و عند أهل علم شأن و مقدارت معلوم شد * اسْمَعْ قولی لا تعترِضْ علی مَنْ يُذَکِّرُکَ و لا تُضْجِرْ مَنْ يَعِظُکَ و لا تعقّب العطاءَ بالأذی و عليک بالخضوع عند أحبّاء اللّه ربِّ الآخرة و الأولی * دَعِ العلومَ لأنّها مَنَعتْکَ عن سلطان المعلوم * آثِرْ مَنْ يذکّرکَ عليکَ و قَدّمْهُ علی نفسِکَ لو تمشی بلا حِذاء و تنام بلا وِطاء و تنوح فی العَرَاء لخيرٌ لک مِنْ أن تُحْزِنَ مَنْ آمن و هدی * 

يا أيُّها المهتاض لا تَعْجَلْ علی الإعتراض و لا تکن کالأرقم اللَّضْلَاض * مَنْ عَجَّلَ فی اللّمم سَقَطَ فی النَّدم * أمسکِ اللّسانَ و القلم عن ردّ مالک القِدَم * لا تجعل نفسکَ مستحِقّاً للنّقَم * سوف ترجع إلی مالک الأمم * و تُسْألُ عما اکتسبتَ فی الحياة الباطلة فی يوم تتقلّب فيه القلوبُ و الأبصارُ من سطوة اللّه المقتدر القهّار * 

إلامَ تَسلکُ سُبُلَ الفحشاء و تعترض علی مالک الأسماء أنسيت مَرجعَک و مأواک أوْ غفلتَ عن عدل مولاک * إنْ أمِنْتَ من اللّحْد فأتّبعْ ما يأمُرک به نفسُک و هواک و إلّا فَاسْرِعْ الی الّذی الی اللّه دَعاک و تدَارکْ ما فات عنک فی أولاک قبل أُخراک * خَفْ عن اللّه الذي خَلَقَکَ و سوّاک تُبْ إليه ثمَّ اذکره فی صباحک و مساک و إنَّ اليه مرجِعَک و مثواک *

و از آن گذشته که بر کلمات أحبّاء اللّه اعتراض کرده‌ای و ميکنی * در غفلت بمقامی رسيده‌ای که بر کلمات نقطه أولی روح ماسواه فداه الّذی بشّر النّاسَ بهذا الظّهور هم اعتراض نموده‌ای و کتب در ردّ اللّه و أحبّائه نوشته‌ای و بذلک حَبِطَتْ أعمالُکَ و ما کنتَ من الشّاعرين * تو و أمثال تو گفته‌اند که کلمات باب أعظَم و ذکر أتمّ غلط است و مخالف است بقواعد قوم * هنوز آنقدر ادراک ننموده‌ای که کلمات منزله إلهيّه ميزان کلّست و دون او ميزان او نميشود * هر يک از قواعدی که مخالف آيات إلهيه است آن قاعده از درجه اعتبار ساقط * 

دوازده سنه در بغداد توقّف شد و آنچه خواستيم که در مجلسی جمعی از علما و منصفين عباد جمع شوند تا حق از باطل واضح و مبرهن شود احدی اقدام ننمود * 

باری آيات نقطه أولی – روح ما سواه فداه – مخالف نبوده تو از قواعد قوم بيخبری * از آن گذشته در آيات اين ظهور أعظم چه ميگوئی * افتح البَصَرَ لِتَعرِفَ بأنّ القواعد تؤخذ من کلمات اللّه المقتدر المهيمن القيّوم * اگر احزان وارده و أمراض جسديّه مانع نبود ألواحی در علوم إلهيّه مرقوم ميشد و شهادت ميدادی که قواعد إلهيّه مُحيط است بر قواعد بريّه * نسألُ اللّه أنْ يوفّقَکَ علی حبّه و رضاه و إنّه مجيب لمن دعاه * 

فکر کن در ايّاميکه فرقان از سماء مشيّت رحمن نازل شد أهل طغيان چه مقدار اعتراض نموده‌اند گويا از نظر شما محو شده لذا لازم شد که بعضی از آن ذکر شود شايد خود را بشناسی که در حين اشراق شمس محمّدی از أفق عزّ صمدانی چه مقدار اعتراض نمودی غايت آنست که در آن أيّام باسم ديگر موسوم بودی چه اگر تو از آن نفوس نبودی هرگز در اين ظهور بر حق اعتراض نمينمودی * از جمله اعتراض مشرکين در اين آيه مبارکه بود که ميفرمايد: ﴿ لا نُفَرِّقُ بَينَ أحَدٍ مِنْ رُسُلِهِ ﴾ اعتراض نموده‌اند که احد را ما بين نه و باين جهة بر کلمه محکمه إلهيّه اعتراض و استهزاء نموده‌اند * 

و همچنين بر آيه مبارکه: ﴿ خَلَقَ لَکُمْ مَا فِی الأَرْضِ جَمِيعًا ثُمَّ اسْتَوَی إِلَی السَّمَاءِ فَسوَّاهُنَّ سَبْعَ سَمَوَاتٍ ﴾ اعتراض نموده‌اند که اين مخالف آيات ديگر است چه که در أکثر آيات سبقت خلق سما بر ارض نازل شده * و همچنين بر آيه مبارکه: ﴿خَلَقْنَاکُمْ ثُمَّ صَوَّرْنَاکُمْ ثُمَّ قُلْنَا لِلْمَلَائِکَةِ اسْجُدُوا لِآدَمَ ﴾ اعتراض نموده‌اند که سجود ملائکه قبل از تصوير خلق بوده * و اعتراضاتيکه در اين آيه مبارکه إلهيّه نموده‌اند البتّه استماع نموده‌ايد * و همچنين بر آيه مبارکه: ﴿ غَافِرِ الذَّنْبِ وَقَابِلِ التَّوْبِ شَدِيدِ العِقَابِ ﴾ اعتراض نموده‌اند که شديد العقاب صفت مضاف بفاعل است نعت معرفه واقع شده و مفيد تعريف نيست * و همچنين در حکايت زليخا که ميفرمايد: ﴿ وَ اسْتَغْفِرِی لِذَنْبِکِ إِنَّکِ کُنْتِ مِنَ الخَاطِئِينَ ﴾ اعتراض نموده‌اند که بايد خاطآت باشد چنانچه از قواعد قوم است در جمع مؤنّث * و همچنين بر آيه مبارکه: ﴿ وَ کَلِمَةٍ مِنْهُ اسْمُهُ المَسِيْحُ ﴾ اعتراض نموده‌اند که کَلِمَهْ تأنيث دارد و ضمير راجع بکلمه بايد مؤنّث باشد * و همچنين در: ﴿ إِحْدَی الکُبَرْ ﴾ و أمثال آن *

مختصر انکه قريب سيصد موضع است که علمای آنعصر و بعد بر خاتم أنبياء و سلطان أصفياء اعتراض نموده‌اند چه در معانی و چه در ألفاظ و گفته‌اند اين کلمات أکثر آن غلط است و نسبت جنون و فساد بآن معدن عقل داده‌اند * قالوا إنّها أی السّور و الآيات مفتريات * و بهمين سبب اکثری از ناس متابعت علما نموده از صراط حق مستقيم منحرف شده و باصل جحيم توجّه نموده‌اند و أسامی آن علماء از يهود و نصاری در کتب مذکور 

و از اين گذشته چه مقدار از آيات را که نسبت بامرئُ القيس داده‌اند وگفته‌اند که انحضرت سرقت نموده مثل سوره مبارکه: ﴿ إِذَا زُلْزِلَت ﴾ و ﴿ اقْتَرَبَتْ السَّاعَةً ﴾ * و مدتّها قصائديرا که معروف بمعلّقاتست و همچنين بمُجْمَهَرَّات الّتی کانت فی الطّبقة الثّانية بعد المعلّقات بر کلمات إلهی ترجيح ميدادند تا آنکه عنايت إلهی احاطه فرمود * جمعی باين اعتراضات ممنوع نشده بأنوار هدايت کُبْری مهتدی گشتند و حکم سيف بميان آمد طوْعًا و کَرْهًا ناس در دين إلهی وارد شدند * آيَةُ السّيْفِ تمحو آيةَ الجهل * و بعد از غلبه أمر اللّه بصر انصاف باز شد و نظر اعتراض مقطوع و محجوب و همان معرضين که آيات اللّه را مفتريات ميناميدند در بعضی از آيات منزله هفتاد محسّنات فصاحتيّه و بلاغتيّه ذکر نمودند * 

چون بيان در ذکر اعتراضات مشرکين بود دوست نداشتم بيش از آنچه ذکر شد مذکور دارم * حال قدري إنصاف ده و بَينک و بَيْنَ اللّه حکم کن شکّي نبوده که قرآن من عند اللّه نازل شده و شکّی هم نيست که کلمات إلهيّه مقدّس بوده از آنچه توهّم نموده‌اند چنانچه بعد معلوم و واضح شد که آن اعتراضات از غلّ و بغضاء بوده چنانچه بعضی علما جواب بعضی از اعتراضات را بقواعد داده‌اند ولکن علمه عندنا 

فاسْألْ لِتَعْرِفَ النّقطةَ التّی منها فُصّلَ عِلمُ ما کان و ما يکون شايد متنبّه شوی و بر أحبّای إلهي اعتراض ننمائی * جميع علوم در قبضه اقتدار حق بوده و خواهد بود و آنچه از فطرت نازل بر فطرت أصليّه إلهيّه نازل شده و ميشود 

و اين اعتراضات نظر بآنست که اين أمر بحسب ظاهر قوّت نگرفته و احبّاء اللّه قليلند و أعداء اللّه کثير لذا هر نفسی باعتراضی متشبّث که شايد باين جهة مقبول ناس شود * 

أي بيچاره تو برو در فکر عزّت و رياست باش کجا ميتوانی در عرصه منقطعين قَدَمْ گذاری يعنی نفوسيکه از کلّ ما سواه منقطع شده‌اند و حبّا للّه از ثروت و جاه و ننگ و نام و مال و جان گذشته‌اند چنانچه ديده و شنيده‌ای * أولئک عباد قالوا اللّه ربُّنا ثمّ انقطعوا عن العالمين * عن قريب نفوسی در علم ظاهر شوند و بکمال نصرت قيام نمايند و در جواب هر اعتراضی أدلّه محکمه متقنه مرقوم دارند چه که قلوبشان ملهم ميشود بالهامات غيبيّه إلهيّه * بشنو ندای داعی إلی اللّه را و لا تکن من المحتجبين شايد از نفحات أيّام إلهی در اين ظهور عزّ رحمانی محروم نمانی و السّلاَم علی مَنْ اتّبعَ الهُدی * اگر کسی صاحب شامّه نباشد بر گل بستان چه تقصيری راجع بی ذائقه قدر عسل از حنظل نشناسد * 

صورت مکتوبی از شيخ أحمد مرحوم در ذکر قائم ملاحظه شد حال از شما خواهش مينمايم که بانصاف آن را معني نمائی و اگر خود را عاجز يافتی از بحر أعظم إلهی سؤال کنی که شايد از فضل و رحمت واسعه إلهيّه در ظلّ سدره ربّانيّه درآئی * و تفصيل آن اينکه در أيّام توقّف در عراق ميرزا حسين قُمِي نزد اين عبد آمده مع صورت مکتوب و مذکور داشت که حضرات شيخيّه استدعا نموده‌اند که اين کلمات را معني و تفسير نمائيد * و اين عبد نظر بانکه سائلين را طالب کوثر علم إلهی نيافت متعرّض جواب نشد * چه که لؤلؤ علم الهی از مشاهده اعين غير حديده مستور به * اگر چه فی الجمله ذکر شد ولکن بتلويح و إشاره * 

و صورت آن مکتوب بعينه در اين لوح نقل شده بدون زياده و نقصان * و هذه صورة ما کتبه الشّيخ الأجلّ الأفضل ظهر الإسلام و کعبة الأنام الشّيخ أحمد الإحسائي الّذی کان سراجَ العلم بين العالمين فی جواب مَنْ قال: ( إِنَّ القَائِمَ فِی الأَصْلَابِ ) إنّا ترکنا أوّله و کتبنا ما هو المقصود *

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بِسم اللّهِ الرّحمنِ الرَّحيم

أقول رُوِی إِنّهُ بعد انقضاء آلٓمٓصٓ بآلٓمٓرٓ يقومُ المهدی عليه السّلام * و الالفُ قد أتی علی آخرِ الصّاد و الصّاد عندکم أوسع من الفَخِذَينِ فکيف يکونُ أحدِ هِما و أيضاً الواوُ ثَلاثَةُ أَحْرُفٍ ستّةٍ و ألفٍ و ستّةٍ و قد مَضَتْ ستةُ الأيّام و الالفُ هو التّمام و لا کلام فکيف الستّةُ و الأيّامُ الأُخَرُ و الّا لَما حَصلَ العودُ لأنّه سّرُ التّنکيس لرمز الرّئيس فَإِنْ حَصَلَ من الغيرِ الاقرارُ بالستّة الباقية تَمَّ الأمرُ بالحجّة و ظَهَرَ الاسمُ الأعظمُ بالالفين القائمين بالحرف الّذی هو حرفان من «اللّه» إِذ هُما أحدَ عَشَرَ و بِهِما ثَلاثَةَ عَشَر فَظَهَرَ واوُ الّذی هو هاءٌ فَأَيْنَ الفصلُ ولکنَّ الواحدَ ما بينَ الستّةِ و الستّةِ مقدّرٌ بانقضاءِ آلٓمٓصٓ بآلٓمٓرٓ فَظَهَرَ سرُّ الستّةِ و الستّينَ فی سِدْسِها الّذی هو ربِعُها و تمامُ السِّدسِ الّذی هو الرّبِعُ بالالفِ المُندَمِجَينِ فيه و سِرُّهُ تَنَزُّلُ الالفِ من النَّقطةِ الواسعةِ بالستّةِ و الستّةِ و نُزُلُ الثّاني فی اللّيلة المبارکة بالاحَدَ عَشَر و هی «هو» الّذی هو السّرّ و الاسمُ المُسْتَسَرُّ الاوّلُ الظّاهِرُ فی سرِّ يومِ الخَميسِ فَيَسْتَتِمُّ السرَّ يومُ الجمعةِ و يَجرِی الماءُ الَمعينِ يومَ تأتي السّماءُ بدخانٍ مبينٍ * هذا و الکلُّ فی الواوِ المَنْکوسةِ مِنَ الهاءِ المَهْموسة فَأَيْنَ الوصلُ عندَ مُثْبِتِ الفصلِ ليسَ فی الواحدِ و لا بَيْنَهُ غيرٌ و الّا لَکانَ غيرُ واحدٍ * و تلک الامثالُ نضربُها للنّاسَ ولکن لا يعقلها الّا العالِمُون انتهی * 

* * *

نشهد بأنّ کلَّ کلمة من هذه الکلمات الدّريات لَبئرٌ معطّلَةٌ فيها ماءُ الحيوان وسُتر فيها غلامُ المعاني و البيان و ما ورد عليها سيّارةُ الطلب لِيُدْلُوا دَلْوَهم و يُخْرِجوا بها غلامَ العلم * و يقولوا تبارک اللّه الّذی فی قبضته ملکوتُ العلم و انّه علی کلّ شئ محيط * و کذلک نشهد بأنّ کلَّ حرف منها لَزُجاجَةٌ فيها أَضاءَ سِراجُ العلم و الحکمة ولکن ما استضاء منه أحدٌ الّا مَنْ شاءَ اللّهُ انّهُ علی کلّ شئ قدير * 

باری مقصود آنکه اين کلمات ببيان واضح مبين تفسير شود و السّلام علی من اتبع الحقّ 

و انّک ان لم تتّبع أمرَ مولاکَ عسی اللّهُ أن يُظهِرَ منک مَنْ يتوجّه الی مولاه و ينقطعَ عما سواه انّه هو العليم الحکيم