Lawh-i-Mirza Rida-Quli

What follows is my provisional translation (in other words, not official or authorized; see here for more) of a Tablet of Bahá’u’lláh to His half-brother, Mírzá Riḍá-Qulí, the original text of which has been digitally published on the Bahá’í Reference Library here

Due to the considerable length of this Tablet, I have divided the translation below into paragraphs for ease of reference. For that same reason, and because it seems not to be known by any special title but may well be the only Tablet that Bahá’u’lláh revealed for this half-brother of His, I have also named it the Lawḥ-i-Mírzá Riḍá-Qulí. ¶¶ 10, 12, and 14 include passages that were translated by Shoghi Effendi in God Passes By; they have been colored here in red to distinguish them from the rest of the rendering of this Tablet, which is provisional. 

To give a summary of this Tablet: ¶ 1 is a poignant exordium which sets the distressing tone that runs throughout the Tablet. In ¶¶ 2–4, Bahá’u’lláh addresses His half-brother, Mírzá Riḍá-Qulí, making introductory remarks on the intensity of His sufferings and then stating, for the record, that he had asked Him to give an account of what had befallen Him up to that point. Accordingly, Bahá’u’lláh spends most of the rest of the Tablet (¶¶ 5–21) laying out the trajectory of His exile. In ¶ 10, He shifts away from addressing Mírzá Riḍá-Qulí and begins to apostrophize His other half-brother, Mírzá Yaḥyá, rebuking him for the many instances of his opposition to Him that He goes on to enumerate in painful terms. In ¶ 22, Bahá’u’lláh is commanded by God to change the subject; as a result, He ends the apostrophe and returns to addressing Mírzá Riḍá-Qulí, but in ¶ 23 there is one more expression of Bahá’u’lláh’s grievance that has an unmistakable parallel with the story of Joseph and his jealous brothers who cast him into a well. In ¶ 24, the Tablet concludes with benedictory salutations to Mírzá Riḍá-Qulí and “possessors of subtle perception” who “recite the verses of God, ponder their mysteries, and detect their sweet savors.”

I do not know when exactly this Tablet was revealed, but since it makes several references to events that took place in Edirne but seems not to make any allusions to Bahá’u’lláh’s banishment to ‘Akká, it was probably revealed during a time that Steven Phelps has named the “Late Edirne” period, spanning September 1867–August 1868 (“The Writings of Bahá’u’lláh,” published in The World of the Bahá’í Faith (Routledge, 2022), pp. 51–71). This would be consistent with the fact that ¶¶ 11–21 of this Tablet read almost identically to a considerable portion of another Late Edirne Tablet of Bahá’u’lláh, the Súriy-i-Sulṭán (Partial Inventory catalog ID no. BH00061; complete Arabic typescript available on the Bahá’í Reference Library here), suggesting that the two Writings were likely revealed around the same time. 

I am deeply grateful to Violetta Zein for locating, with great skill and tirelessness, most of the references cited in the endnotes, many of which have been discussed in more detail in her comprehensive chronology of Bahá’u’lláh’s life, The Blessed Beauty. My profound thanks also goes to Khazeh Fananapazir, whose generous and characteristically learned input helped me understand certain parts of this Tablet. 

—Adib Masumian
10 February 2023

* * *

To Áqá Riḍá, may God increase his glory and honor

[¶ 1]

He it is Who is manifest upon the throne of sorrow

These are the verses of Revelation; they have been sent down from the realm of eternity, and none shall apprehend them save those who have soared with the wings of detachment unto the exalted heaven of glory. In them are to be found that which will rend asunder the hearts of the Messengers, and cause tears to stream down the cheeks of radiant holiness. He for whom God openeth the eye of this Cause shall, verily, behold every letter of these verses embodied in a human Temple. Blessed be God, Who manifested Him in a most excellent and beloved Form! These verses weep crimson tears in the chambers of words, and none will comprehend this save every perceptive knower. In them hath been mentioned My dear friend whom the Lord hath related unto Me, and this is a token of God’s bounty unto him, did he but know it. 

[¶ 2]

O My brother! Hearken thou to the Voice of thy Lord coming from the direction of the Throne, then turn to Him with an ear of sublime purity, that thou mayest be apprised of the mysteries of the Cause in these days, wherein the people are wrapped in palpable veils of vain imagining. Listen to what the Spirit imparteth unto thee from the Throne, then burn the veils with the fingers of a mighty holiness, that thou mayest pass beyond the veil and behold what will solace thine eyes and rejoice thy heart, for behind it is that which the whole of creation hath failed to grasp. 

[¶ 3]

I swear by God, O My brother, that if thou wert to look with the eye of the spirit, thou wouldst see that the Kingdom of God is circling around the words of these verses, which were sent down from the firmament of transcendent glory. That firmament itself doth weep, and with it weep its inhabitants, over what hath befallen the Ancient Beauty at the hands of those who have protested against God after He brought creation into being through His behest. In this wise hath the matter been recounted by the Pen of holiness in the Mother Tablet. And beyond that firmament are the eyes of God Himself shedding tears in the loftiest habitation, and He waileth with such force as to shatter the limbs of every renowned knower. Thereby hath every atom also been made to weep, along with all who have entered beneath the shade of names and attributes. Thus have We informed thee in truth, that thou mayest acquire unprecedented knowledge. Wert thou to look with another sight, thou wouldst find this ink to be the color of blood, but since it burned in the very heart of sorrow, it hath appeared in a black hue between earth and heaven—and unto this are My words sufficient witness. 

[¶ 4]

Thou didst previously wish to know what befell Us. Listen, therefore, to what shall be revealed unto thee from the Burning Bush—situated beyond the sea of Revelation upon a spot which from time immemorial hath been shielded from the reach of the infidels—that thou mayest learn of what befell thy Brother after God made Him the Emblem of His sovereignty on the earth, the Dayspring of His power in the world, and the Treasury of His Revelation among all mankind. 

[¶ 5]

Know, then, that My brother,[1] who is well known in your midst, hath made Me to suffer, in these years, what none but the Lord can reckon. By God! Were I to utter it and speak truthfully, the ears of creation would not bear to hear it, and God is aware of what I say. Yet if thou art capable thereof, remind him of how he hath failed in his duty to his Brother, that perchance he may take for himself a path unto the Spirit. Say: “O brother of Mine, thou who hast risen against Me with the sword of hatred and slandered Me to the utmost of thine ability—this after We reared thee in truth and protected thee from every rejected oppressor!” 

[¶ 6]

By the righteousness of God, O My brother! The matter was not as thou didst hear it in the beginning of the Cause, but We have concealed it for a wisdom that hath remained hidden from the eyes of men. We taught and assisted him at all times, yet none knoweth this save for a number of the Letters of the Remembrance of thy Lord,[2] and they are but a limited few. Thou art aware of what befell Me at the outset of the Cause, until at last I was seized with chains and shackles and imprisoned in the Land of Ṭá.[3] Eventually, the time appointed by thy Lord was fulfilled after four consecutive months; consequently there appeared the first indications of support,[4] and God aided Me in truth with the hosts of the seen and unseen alike, sending down upon Me a divine tranquility and causing Me to exit the prison with a sovereignty evident unto all the world. 

[¶ 7]

Then was I made to leave the city with a limited group of people,[5] and We forged ahead on the path until We arrived in Iraq. Such was the decree ordained by the Pen of Destiny upon the Tablet. Once We had entered Iraq and a number of days passed, We were joined by My brother,[6] and he remained with Us for a period of months that hath been mentioned in Tablets. He sought from Us a wife; We procured for him what quelled his carnal desire, and he dwelled comfortably in the land. Yet when he became secure in his comfort, he rose against Us in total secrecy to do what the heavens and earth themselves cannot bear,[7] and God is a witness to what I say. We, verily, would mention him among Our servants as a means of glorifying the Word of God, but as for him, whenever he came upon any soul, he would instill a hatred of this Youth into his heart. 

[¶ 8]

Eventually, We left that land unto itself and departed, alone, from the midst of men,[8] whereupon the eyes of the Ancient of Days wept in an exalted tabernacle of glory. Were We to tell thee what befell Us following Our separation, thou wouldst assuredly sob, and with thee would sob, one and all, each and every denizen of the earth. 

[¶ 9]

Then did the time appointed by God elapse after two years, when His loved ones prompted Us to return with a wailing that aroused the bitterest lamentation in the realms of revelation and creation.[9] Ultimately did We enter Our House[10] in manifest sorrow and find the Cause unmentioned among Our servants, in such wise that abasement had seized all Our loved ones, high and low alike.[11] It was as if the hosts of the revelation of thy Lord had been stopped from descending, and the clouds of His bounty prevented from sending down those showers of mercy that formerly rained upon mankind. We beheld Our brother in a state of degeneracy incomparable to any other; as a result, We took hold of the poles of this Cause and upraised the pavilion of remembrance to such lofty heights as to lie above the reach of the oppressors. When the mention of God gained renown throughout the land,[12] the fire of enmity was kindled in the breasts of both the highest and lowest of men. They rose against Me with sharpened and cutting blades, and I, in turn, arose before them unaided in those days wherein every soul was perturbed and every firm foot faltered. Yet how many were the days in which My brother reposed in comfort upon his bed, while My family lived in agitation from the onslaught of those very days and shed tears every morn and eve! Matters came to such a dire pass that most of the people of Iraq were upset by My trials and tribulations, just as thou hast heard and art aware, and these calamities reached so grievous a point that every soul trembled for My sake, weeping at how afflictions had struck Me from all sides and the wolves of ungodliness surrounded Me, and beyond them every doer of evil. In spite of this, never did I dissemble in the Cause of God before anyone; I have proclaimed always into the heart of every thing that He is God, that there is none other God but Him, and that He is supreme over all things. 

[¶ 10]

Now doth the Pen of Revelation address His brother, saying: “O brother of Mine! Thou hast perpetrated against thy Brother what no man hath perpetrated against another, and brought upon Him what hath moved the eyes of the Concourse on High to shed tears in their chambers of resplendent glory.[13] Though We have aided thee at all times and guarded thee from the hands of tyranny, yet thou hast pursued Me with the sword of hatred, hoping to discover an opportunity to commit what would annihilate the pillars of the mighty Throne. Though We sent for believing women to be dispatched from other lands to appear before thee,[14] whereafter thou didst enjoy intimacy with them and abide in conspicuous comfort, yet didst thou secretly stop the sweet savors of happiness from reaching My Face. Thus have We enumerated all things in a Criterion that hath ever assumed the form of a perspicuous Tablet enshrined in a Spirit personified. Although, moreover, thou didst seek from Me what would gratify thy passion, till eventually thou didst gather around thyself a number of maidens and sustain thyself with them, yet didst thou surreptitiously send My loved ones ‘tablets’ wherein thou didst mention ‘the prison,’[15] that by this means animosity toward Me might be instilled in the heart of every hateful fool. Thereupon did two rivers flow from the eyes of these Twin Names of supreme loftiness,[16] Which from eternity have stood for justice by the Throne. We, verily, know what thou hast done and what lieth in thy heart, but We have concealed it despite Our knowledge for a wisdom that hath been inscribed, with a mysterious line, by the Finger of the All-Merciful upon the Tablet of creation. 

[¶ 11]

“By God, O My brother! Had it been in My power, I would have chosen to hide My Face from all who dwell in heaven and on earth, depart from the midst of My servants, and reside upon the Crimson Hill beyond the City of grandeur, that mention of Me might cease to persist among My loved ones, let alone those who have disbelieved in God; who have risen against His sovereignty; and who, of all wretched people, are in the most grievous loss. I swear by God that whensoever I wish to leave from their midst and refrain from uttering wondrous tones in this Paradise, the fragrances of the Most Merciful take hold of Me, the Holy Spirit causeth Me to speak, and the Spirit of Eternity stirreth the Tongue of Bahá. This cometh not of Mine own accord, rather at the bidding of Him Who is the Almighty, the Self-Subsisting. 

[¶ 12]

“O My brother! How many a night didst thou repose on thy bed with thy wives while I personally protected thee, until at last the daytime Sun shone forth from the horizon of radiant holiness? How many a day didst thou spend in merriment as I stood before Mine enemies, lest any harm should have come to thee from every obstinate denier? And yet in total secrecy thou didst cherish My harm, hoping to find a time when thou might do to Me what would cause each spirit to be severed from the body of every ancient name. By God! What hath proceeded from thy pen hath caused the Countenances of Glory to be prostrated upon the dust, hath rent in twain the Veil of Grandeur in the Sublime Paradise, lacerated the hearts of the favored ones established upon the loftiest seats, and disturbed the soul of every insightful sage. 

[¶ 13]

“Eventually, thou didst travel with Me on this journey[17] that hath made tears to stream down the resplendently holy faces of those who inhabit the chambers of Paradise. In spite of everything thou didst ask of Me and for which thou didst seek My permission, I did not say so much as a single word, for of thee do I know that whereof none among the whole of mankind is aware. 

[¶ 14]

“Then didst thou join Me in this land[18] only to rise against Me every day—nay, at every moment. By God! No spot is left on My body that hath not been touched by the spears of thy machinations, and wert thou to deny this, unto it would bear witness the omniscient Tongue of truth. 

[¶ 15]

“Thereafter didst thou pronounce judgment against Me, and when God laid bare what was hidden within thee—and once those servants who had sought refuge with God became informed thereof—their cries were lifted up, yet thou wast, to thy very core, in grievous heedlessness.[19]

[¶ 16]

“And when We observed what thou didst perpetrate and that which proceeded from thy mouth,[20] We departed from your midst alone and unaided with no helper or supporter.[21] I was unaccompanied even by one to serve Me or attend to them from whom God took away the Pen of Revelation, and consequently did every discerning eye weep sore over Us.

[¶ 17]

“Following this, not yet content to rest, thou didst spread, throughout the land, word of thine actions in My name,[22] in order that a hatred of Me might be instilled into the breast of whosoever desired his Lord, Who embodieth an exalted Name. From thy tongue and thy pen proceeded that which every pen of the world is ashamed to recount, and thou didst commit it solely because thou didst imagine, in thy heart, that all thy sayings would elicit obedience unto thee from those servants who have strayed far from the shore of the Cause. By God! Be thou not assured thereof, inasmuch as Our servants shall, for the sake of God, behold this Cause as it truly is; neither will the veils of vain imagining ever shut them out, nor evil suggestions deter them from the lofty path of holiness. Call thou to mind what was revealed aforetime. Shouldst thou stretch out thy hand to slay Me, I would not outstretch Mine to kill thee as thou hast done.[23] Indeed, We would refrain from this notwithstanding Our power over thee, and God is a witness to thy deeds.”

[¶ 18]

Say: “By the righteousness of God, O My brother! Erelong wilt thou perish, and with thee shall perish those who associate with thee. To dust wilt thou return, and the kingdom will remain unto God, thy Lord and the Lord of all creatures. I swear by God, O brother of Mine, that in My heart I harbor neither enmity toward thee nor hatred for anyone else among creation. Hearken thou to Mine utterance, then return from what pertaineth unto thee and set thy face toward thy Lord with a sublime humility. Wert thou to persist as thou art, and if all the dwellers of the earth should prostrate themselves before thee, would it profit thee anything? Nay, by Him in Whose hand is the soul of Bahá! Return, therefore, and take thou a path unto the Throne of thy Lord. And were all God’s servants to protest against Him, their Lord, with thy words—and should they nurse, in their souls, animosity toward Me—would this avail thee in any way? No, by thy Lord, couldst thou be aware of it! Thus weep sore My pen, Mine eye, and all who abide in heaven and on earth, couldst thou but know it! Cast the world and its vanities behind thy back, and let not leadership lead thee astray from the mention of thy Lord. Tread thou the paths of fairness, and debar not thyself from the sanctuary of nearness.

[¶ 19]

“Still not content, thou didst eventually write to the governor of the city with such degrading language as to disgrace the dignity of My station.[24] Thus have We reckoned thy doings in a Tablet which leaveth not unrecorded a single letter of any deed, however small or great.[25] Fearing for thy life, thou didst cover thy face behind a veil—and when We proclaimed the Cause and the winds of assurance blew forth, thou didst regain thy confidence and emerge from behind that veil, protesting against Me to the utmost of thine ability and bringing upon Me what hath lacerated the heart of every intelligent believer. Then in thy repudiation didst thou join forces with him[26] whom thou hast loathed, and who hath also loathed thee—him from whom thou didst hear, with thine own ears, what moved thee to complain before Me. Despite this, when thou didst find in his heart a hatred of this Youth, thou didst unite with him and take him for thine accomplice. 

[¶ 20]

“I swear by God, O My brother, that if thou wert to judge fairly, thou wouldst surely weep both for thine own sake and also for Mine, and then wouldst thou spend thy days in lamentation until such time as God forgiveth thee and numbereth thee with those repenters who are mentioned in the Mother Book. 

[¶ 21]

“Consider, moreover, the earliest of times. With regard to him[27] who murdered his older brother, Abel—did this benefit him in any respect? Be fair in thy judgment, then, and stray not far from the path of truth. Beware lest thou be hindered by what We bestowed on thee from the kingdom of names, for it was fashioned through Our behest, and We, verily, are powerful over all things.”

[¶ 22]

O Pen of Revelation! Purify Thyself of every mention but the mention of Thy Lord. Leave men unto themselves and pay them no mind. Abide Thou in inviolable sanctity, and Thy Lord shall suffice Thee above all else. Indeed, unto Thee will God Himself be a sufficient Helper. 

[¶ 23]

Wherefore, make mention of Thy brother who hath been named Riḍá in the kingdom of names, then send him this Tablet, that from it he might discover the holy fragrances of the Beloved; that one of his eyes may attest thereto as the other sheddeth tears over the fact that all the world’s calamities have afflicted his Brother; and that he may learn of the Cause of this Youth, as well as the shafts of hatred that have struck Him. By God! He lieth, at this very moment, in a well of jealousy,[28] and from Him is lifted up a weak and plaintive cry. He saith, “Is there any helper that will aid this Youth, and keep away from Him the spear of every wicked traitor?” And in another tone, He saith, “I swear by the Lord that this Youth hath never sought assistance from anyone but God, and in this wise have We, verily, stood alone before the peoples of the world.”

[¶ 24]

May the Spirit, along with Our salutations and glory, rest on thee, and also on them who recite the verses of God, ponder their mysteries, and detect their sweet savors. Well is it, then, with them, and with you, and with every possessor of subtle perception.


[1] Mírzá Yaḥyá.

[2] That is, the Letters of the Living, “the Remembrance” being a title of the Báb.

[3] A reference to Bahá’u’lláh’s four-month incarceration in the Siyáh-Chál (August 1852–December 1852). 

[4] A reference to Bahá’u’lláh’s first experiences with divine revelation subsequent to His epiphanic encounter with the Holy Spirit in the form of a “Maid of Heaven” (October 1852, per note 62 to the Kitáb-i-Aqdas).

[5] A reference to Bahá’u’lláh’s banishment from Iran in January 1853.

[6] Mírzá Yaḥyá. Bahá’u’lláh arrived in Baghdád on 8 April 1853 (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By) and Mírzá Yaḥyá joined Him about two months later sometime in June 1853 (H.M. Balyuzi, Bahá’u’lláh: The King of Glory, p. 107). 

[7] Bahá’u’lláh is referring to the initial Covenant-breaking activities of Mírzá Yaḥyá, which were very secretive and had to do with spreading rumors and backbiting Bahá’u’lláh. By 1854, Mírzá Yaḥyá and Siyyid Muḥammad Iṣfahání had built up a clandestine opposition in Baghdád which aimed at sabotaging Bahá’u’lláh’s efforts and frustrating His plans to revive the Bábí community of Baghdád. Mírzá Yaḥyá and Siyyid Muḥammad made insinuations and planted seeds of doubts in the hearts of the Bábís who were attracted to Bahá’u’lláh. They hinted that Bahá’u’lláh was not the lawful leader of the community, that He subverted laws established by the Báb, and that He wrecked the Bábí Faith. They indirectly criticized, challenged, and misrepresented Bahá’u’lláh’s Writings, and even set in motion plans to injure Him physically, but the plan fell apart. Bahá’u’lláh had made every effort to remedy this worsening situation to no avail. Day by day and hour by hour, as a result of Mírzá Yaḥyá’s and Siyyid Muḥammad’s malicious plotting, Bahá’u’lláh was in a constant state of sorrow, attacked and assailed without respite, and His pain and suffering were extreme. For more, see Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, and Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh, vol. 1, pp. 5455

[8] A reference to Bahá’u’lláh’s two-year withdrawal (1854–56) to the mountains of Sulaymániyyíh in Iraqi Kurdistan.

[9] Shaykh Sulṭán, an Iraqi Bábí, was wisely sent to Sulaymáníyyih to beg Bahá’u’lláh to return to Baghdád, and in his bags he had many imploring tearful letters from the Holy Family, the Bábís, and even Mírzá Yaḥyá himself, who were all begging Him to return. Shaykh Sulṭán proceeded with great caution and wisdom, not speaking openly about Bahá’u’lláh returning to Baghdád. Instead, he delivered the letters and petitions with which he had been entrusted, and all of which urgently beseeched Bahá’u’lláh to put an end to His seclusion. Some of these were written by His own family, including ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Who was devotedly attached to His Father. Bahá’u’lláh’s two-year absence had left an irreplaceable void in the leadership of the Bábí community, and even Mírzá Yaḥyá had written him a letter, begging Bahá’u’lláh insistently to return to Baghdád. After giving Bahá’u’lláh the letters, Shaykh Sulṭán returned to the caravanserai where he was staying and waited. For more, see Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, and Balyuzi, King of Glory, p. 122. 

[10] The Bayt-i-A‘ẓam (Most Great House), the House of Bahá’u’lláh in Baghdád where He returned on 19 March 1856. See Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By

[11] This is also mentioned in the Lawḥ-i-Maryam: “So it was that the Luminary of the world returned to ‘Iráq, where We found no more than a handful of souls, faint and dispirited, nay utterly lost and dead. The Cause of God had ceased to be on any one’s lips, nor was any heart receptive to its message” (source).

[12] A reference to Bahá’u’lláh’s efforts to promote the Cause of the Báb.

[13] Mírzá Yaḥyá terrorized the whole family of Bahá’u’lláh during His seclusion in Kurdistán, essentially keeping everyone under lock and key and making their lives a living nightmare with his impossible demands and profound paranoia (Lady Blomfield, The Chosen Highway, p. 51 and Baharieh Rouhani Maani, Leaves of the Twin Divine Trees, pp. 102–103 and 135). To give just a few examples: The last baby of Ásíyih Khánum born in Baghdad, ‘Alí-Muḥammad, died, and Mírzá Yaḥyá refused to let her bury the baby, so the family never found out where he was buried by the stranger to whom Mírzá Yaḥyá gave him (Blomfield, Chosen Highway, p. 51 and Maani, Leaves, p. 103). In Karbalá, Siyyid Muḥammad Iṣfahání had a bunch of thugs attacking and stealing from pilgrims, shrines, and mosques (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By). Mírzá Yaḥyá desecrated the name of the Báb by marrying His second wife, only to give her in marriage to Siyyid Muḥammad just one month later (Bahá’u’lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf; Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By; Taherzadeh, Revelation, vol. 1, p. 249). Mírzá Yaḥyá also ordered the assassination of Dayyán, an eminent Bábí whose station was so exalted that he felt threatened by him (Bahá’u’lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf; Balyuzi, King of Glory, pp. 123–24). 

[14] Jarring as it may be to contemporary Western sensibilities, one must bear in mind that this was not an uncommon practice among the male members of a family in this part of the world at a time when women were held in exceedingly low regard, and also when Bahá’u’lláh had yet to openly proclaim His mission, immensely elevating the cultural station of women in His midst as a result.

[15] Perhaps a reference to the following, recounted by Ḥájí Mírzá Ḥaydar-‘Alí: “One of Azal’s supporters told me, ‘Bahá’u’lláh wants to take advantage of the prophecies of the Báb and claim the position of “Him Whom God shall make manifest.” Therefore, he has imprisoned Azal. Sometimes he beats him and forces him to produce books which Bahá’u’lláh then publishes in his own name.’ When he said these things I was amazed. I had never heard such nonsense” (Abu’l-Qásim Faizí (trans.), Stories from the Delight of Hearts: the Memoirs of Ḥájí Mírzá Ḥaydar-ʻAlí (Kalimát Press: Los Angeles, 1980), pp. 8–9). I am grateful to Anthony (Tony) Lee for pointing me to this reference. 

[16] These “Twin Names” are likely Ḥusayn and ‘Alí, which together make Ḥusayn-‘Alí, the compound name of Bahá’u’lláh.

[17] Presumably the journey from Baghdád to Istanbul.

[18] Presumably Edirne.

[19] Perhaps a reference to Mírzá Yaḥyá’s proposition to Bahá’u’lláh’s barber, Ustád Muḥammad-‘Alí Salmání, that he assassinate Bahá’u’lláh. Enraged by this hideous suggestion, Salmání eventually divulged it, “plunging thereby the community into great consternation” (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By). 

[20] “The moment had now arrived for Him [Bahá’u’lláh] Who had so recently, both verbally and in numerous Tablets, revealed the implications of the claims He had advanced, to acquaint formally the one who was the nominee of the Báb [Mírzá Yaḥyá] with the character of His Mission. Mírzá Áqá Ján was accordingly commissioned to bear to Mírzá Yaḥyá the newly revealed Súriy-i-Amr, which unmistakably affirmed those claims, to read aloud to him its contents, and demand an unequivocal and conclusive reply. Mírzá Yaḥyá’s request for a one day respite, during which he could meditate his answer, was granted. The only reply, however, that was forthcoming was a counter-declaration, specifying the hour and the minute in which he had been made the recipient of an independent Revelation, necessitating the unqualified submission to him of the peoples of the earth in both the East and the West” (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By). 

[21] This would seem to refer to the withdrawal of Bahá’u’lláh and His family from the House of Amru’lláh, the residence shared with the exiles, to the House of Riḍá Big on 10 March 1866, where He stayed for about a year and spent the first two months in isolation. For more, see Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, and Balyuzi, King of Glory, pp. 230–233. 

[22] “Mírzá Yaḥyá entrusted one of his companions with some papers for distribution among the Bábís in Persia. On learning their contents, this man refused to comply with his orders and instead showed them to some faithful believers. These papers contained many statements misrepresenting Bahá’u’lláh and accusing Him of those very crimes which Mírzá Yaḥyá himself had already committed. They fell ultimately into the hands of Bahá’u’lláh’s friends in Adrianople who were astonished by Yaḥyá’s shameful behaviour when they saw them” (Taherzadeh, Revelation, vol. 2, p. 166). 

[23] In December 1865, Mírzá Yaḥyá attempted to kill Bahá’u’lláh by poisoning His teacup. Refer also to Mírzá Yaḥyá’s plot to kill Bahá’u’lláh through the agency of Ustád Muḥammad-‘Alí Salmání (who indignantly refused to collude with him to that end) in a previous endnote.

[24] “The calumnies with which both Mírzá Yaḥyá and Siyyid Muḥammad now loaded their letters, which they disseminated in Persia and ‘Iráq, as well as the petitions, couched in obsequious language, which the former had addressed to Khurshíd Páshá, the governor of Adrianople, and to his assistant ‘Azíz Páshá, impelled Bahá’u’lláh to emerge from His retirement [to the house of Riḍá Big]. He was soon after informed that this same brother had despatched one of his wives to the government house to complain that her husband had been cheated of his rights, and that her children were on the verge of starvation—an accusation that spread far and wide and, reaching Constantinople, became, to Bahá’u’lláh’s profound distress, the subject of excited discussion and injurious comment in circles that had previously been greatly impressed by the high standard which His noble and dignified behavior had set in that city. Siyyid Muḥammad journeyed to the capital, begged the Persian Ambassador, the Mushíru’d-Dawlih, to allot Mírzá Yaḥyá and himself a stipend, accused Bahá’u’lláh of sending an agent to assassinate Náṣiri’d-Dín Sháh, and spared no effort to heap abuse and calumny on One Who had, for so long and so patiently, forborne with him, and endured in silence the enormities of which he had been guilty” (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By). I am grateful to Necati Alkan for pointing me to this reference. 

[25] cf. Qur’án 18:49.

[26] This reference seems ambiguous. If Bahá’u’lláh is jumping back in time in His telling of events, it probably refers to Siyyid Muḥammad Iṣfahání. However, if He is continuing in chronological order, it may refer to one of Mírzá Yaḥyá’s later accomplices, such as Áqá Ján Kaj-Kuláh.

[27] Cain; cf. Genesis 4:1–18 and Qur’án 5:27–31.

[28] Note the parallel with the story of Joseph and his brothers who cast him in a well (Genesis 37:22–29 and Qur’án 12:10–15).

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

جناب آقا رضی زاده اللّه عزّاً و شرفا

هو الظّاهر علی عرش الحزن

تلک آیات الأمر نزلت من جبروت البقآء و لا یعقلها الّا الّذینهم طاروا بجناحین الانقطاع الی سمآء عزّ مرفوعا و فیها ما ینقطع عنه افئدة المرسلین و یجری الدّموع علی خدود قدس منیرا و من یفتح اللّه له بصر الأمر لیشهد کلّ حرف من هذه الآیات علی هیکل الانسان فتبارک اللّه الّذی اظهره علی احسن صورة محبوبا و تبکی فی غرف الکلمات بمدامع الحمرآء و لا یعرف ذلک الّا کلّ عارف بصیرا و فیها یذکر حبیبی الّذی نسبه اللّه بنفسی و انّ هذا من فضل اللّه علیه لو یکون علی ذلک خبیرا

ان یا اخی اسمع ندآء ربّک عن جهة العرش ثمّ توجّه الیه بسمع طاهر منیعا لتطّلع بأسرار الأمر فی تلک الأیّام الّتی غشّت النّفوس حجبات وهم غلیظا ان استمع ما یلقیک الرّوح عن جهة العرش ثمّ اخرق الأحجاب بأنامل قدس قویّا لتدخل خلف الحجاب و تشهد ما تقرّ به عیناک و تفرح به قلبک لأنّ عن ورائه ما لا ادرکه الخلایق مجموعا تاللّه یا اخی لو تنظر ببصر الرّوح لتشهد بأنّ ملکوت اللّه یطوف فی حول الکلمات من هذه الآیات الّتی نزّلت عن سمآء عزّ رفیعا و تبکی لنفسها و تبکی سکّانها عمّا ورد علی جمال القدم من هؤلآء الّذینهم اعترضوا علی اللّه بعد الّذی خلقوا بأمر من عنده و کذلک کان الأمر من قلم القدس فی امّ الألواح مذکورا و عن ورائها تبکی عیون اللّه علی مقرّ القصوی بصریخ ینفطر عنه ارکان کلّ عارف معروفا و بذلک تبکی کلّ الذّرّات و کلّ من دخل فی ظلّ الأسمآء و الصّفات و کذلک نخبرک بالحقّ لتکون علی علم بدیعا و لو تشهد ببصر آخر لتجد هذا المداد علی لون الدّم فلمّا احترق فی کبد الحزن قد ظهر علی لون السّودآء بین الأرض و السّمآء و کفی بذکری علی ذلک شهیدا و انّک انت اردت من قبل بأن تطّلع علی ما ورد علینا اذاً فاستمع لما یوحی الیک من سدرة النّار عن ورآء قلزم الأمر علی بقعة الّتی کانت فی ازل الآزال عن مسّ المشرکین محفوظا لتعرف ما ورد علی اخیک بعد الذّی جعله اللّه مظهر سلطانه فی الأرض و مطلع اقتداره فی الملک و مخزن وحیه بین العالمین جمیعا

ثمّ اعلم بأنّ اخی الّذی کان معروفاً بینکم قد اورد علیّ فی هذا السّنین ما لا یحصیه احد الّا اللّه تاللّه لو انطق به او اتکلّم علی الصّدق لن یقدر ان یسمعه اذن الابداع و کان اللّه علی ما اقول علیما و انّک لو تقدر ذکّره فیما فرّط فی اخیه لعلّ یتّخذ فی نفسه الی الرّوح سبیلا قل یا اخی الّذی قمت علیّ بسیف البغضآء و افتریت علیّ بما کنت قادراً علیه بعد الّذی ربّیناک بالحقّ و احفظناک عن کلّ ظالم مردودا تاللّه یا اخی ما کان الأمر کما سمعت فی اوّل الأمر ولکن انّا سترناه لحکمة کان عن العیون مستورا و علّمناه و ایّدناه فی کلّ حین و ما اطّلع بذلک الّا عدّة احرف ذکر اسم ربّک و هم انفس معدودا و انت تعلم ما ورد علیّ فی اوّل الأمر الی ان اخذونی بالسّلاسل و الأغلال و حبسونی فی ارض الطّآء الی ان تمّت میقات ربّک فی اربعة اشهر متوالیات اذاً ظهر طلایع النّصر و نصرنی اللّه بالحقّ بجنود الغیب و الشّهادة و انزل علیّ سکینة من عنده و اخرجنی من السّجن بسلطان کان علی العالمین مشهودا ثمّ اخرجونی عن المدینة مع انفس معدودات و قطعنا السّبیل الی ان دخلنا العراق و کذلک کان الحکم من قلم القضآء علی اللّوح مقضیّا فلمّا دخلنا العراق و قضت ایّام معدودات و دخل علینا اخی و کان معنا فی اشهر کان فی الألواح مذکورا و اراد ضلعاً منّا و اخذنا له ما سکنت بها نفسه و یکون فی الأرض مستریحا فلمّا استراح فی نفسه قام علینا فی سرّ السّرّ بما لا حمله السّموات و الأرض و کان اللّه علی ما اقول شهیدا و انّا کنّا نذکره بین العباد اعزازاً لکلمة اللّه و انّه لو یجد من نفس لیدخل فی قلبه بغض الغلام الی ان ترکنا الأرض لنفسه و خرجنا عن بین هؤلآء وحده اذاً بکت علیّ عیون القدم فی سرادق عزّ مرفوعا و انّا لو نذکر لک ما ورد علیّ بعد هجرتی لتبکی و یبکی کلّ من فی الملک جمیعا فلمّا قضت میقات اللّه فی سنتین اذاً ارجعونا احبّآء اللّه بفزع به ارتفع فزع الأکبر فی جبروت الأمر و الخلق الی ان دخلنا البیت بحزن مبینا و وجدنا الأمر غیر مذکور بین العباد بحیث اخذت الذّلّة کلّ الأحباب من کلّ وضیع و شریفا کأنّ جنود وحی ربّک انقطعت عن النّزول و منعت سحاب الفضل عن امطار رحمة الّتی کانت علی العالمین منزولا و اشهدنا اخینا فی ذلّة لن یقاس بذلّة اذاً اخذنا قوائم الأمر و ارفعنا خبآء الذّکر الی مقام الّذی کان عن ایدی الظّالمین مرفوعا فلمّا اشتهر ذکر اللّه فی الأطراف و اشتعلت نار البغضآء فی صدور النّاس من اعلاهم و اسفلهم و قاموا علیّ بأسیاف شاحذ حدیدا و قمت فی مقابلة هؤلآء بنفسی وحده فی تلک الأیّام الّتی اضطربت فیها کلّ النّفوس و زلّت کلّ رجل مستقیما و کم من ایّام کان اخی مستریحاً علی بساطه و کان اهلی مضطرباً من سطوة الأیّام و تبکی عیونهم فی کلّ بکور و اصیلا و اشتدّ الأمر علی شأن اضطربت علی ضرّی و ابتلائی اکثر اهل العراق کما سمعت و کنت علی ذلک علیما و بلغ الضّرّ الی مقام تزلزلت کلّ نفس لنفسی و بکت کلّ عین بما مسّتنی البأسآء من کلّ الأشطار و احاطتنی ذیاب الشّرک و عن ورائها کلّ نفس شریرا و مع ذلک ما تداهنت مع احد فی امر اللّه و کنت ناطقاً فی قلب کلّ شیء بأنّه لا اله الّا هو و انّه کان علی کلّ شیء محیطا

اذاً یخاطب قلم الأمر اخیه و یقول ان یا اخی الّذی فعلت بأخیک ما لا فعل احد بأحد و وردت علیه ما بکت عنه عیون ملإ البقآء علی غرفات عزّ منیرا و کنّا ان نؤیّدک فی کلّ الأحیان و احفظناک عن ایادی الظّلم و انّک کنت بسیف البغضآء عن ورائی لتجد الفرصة و تفعل ما تنعدم عنه ارکان عرش عظیما و کنّا ان نرسل الی الدّیار لتحضر بین یدیک من القانتات و تستأنس بهنّ و تکون علی راحة مبینا و کنت ان تنقطع فی السّرّ عن وجهی نفحات السّرور و کذلک احصینا کلّ شیء فی امام قد کان علی هیئة اللّوح فی هیکل الرّوح مشهودا و کنت ان تطلب منّی ما تسرّ به نفسک الی ان اجتمعت فی حولک عدّة من الامآء و عیّشت بهنّ فی نفسک و فی السّرّ ارسلت الی احبّائک الواحاً و فیها ذکرت ذکر السّجن لیدخل بذلک بغضائی فی قلب کلّ جاهل بغیّا اذاً جری النّهرین من العینین فی هذین الاسمین الأعلیین اللّذین کانا فی ازل الآزال علی العدل فی حول العرش موقوفا و انّا علمنا فعلک و ما فی قلبک و سترنا ذلک بعد علمنا لحکمة الّتی کانت من اصبع الرّحمن علی لوح الامکان بالسّرّ السّطر مرقوما تاللّه یا اخی لو کان الأمر بیدی لسترت وجهی عن کلّ من فی السّموات و الأرض و خرجت عن بین العباد و سکنت علی کثیب الحمرآء عن ورآء قلزم الکبریآء لئلّا یبقی ذکری بین احبّائی فکیف هؤلآء الّذینهم کفروا باللّه و حاربوا مع سلطانه و کانوا من قوم سوء اخسرینا تاللّه کلّما ارید ان اخرج عن بین هؤلآء و اصمت عن بدایع الألحان فی هذا الرّضوان اذاً نفحات الرّحمن یأخذنی و روح القدس ینطقنی و روح البقآء یحرّک لسان البهآء ان هی من تلقآء نفسی بل من لدن مقتدر قیّوما ان یا اخی فکم من لیالی کنت مستریحاً علی الفراش مع ازواجک و انّی کنت بنفسی حافظاً لنفسک الی ان اشرقت شمس النّهار عن افق قدس منیرا فکم من ایّام کنت فی العیش و انّی کنت حاضراً فی مقابلة الأعدآء لئلّا یصبک الضّرّآء من کلّ منکر عنیدا و انّک کنت فی سرّ السّرّ فی ضرّی لکی تجد وقتاً لتفعل بی ما ینقطع به الأرواح عن جسد کلّ اسم قدیما تاللّه بما جری من قلمک قد خرّت وجوه العظمة علی رماد السّودآء و شقّت ستر حجب الکبریآء فی جنّة المأوی و تشبّکت اکباد المقرّبین علی مقاعد القصوی و اضطربت افئدة کلّ فطن بصیرا الی ان سافرت معی فی هذا السّفر الّذی به جرت مدامع اهل غرف الفردوس علی وجوه قدس لمیعا مع کلّ ما سألت منّی و استأذنت عنّی ما تکلّمت بحرف لأنّی اطّلعت منک ما لا اطّلع به احد من العالمین جمیعا الی ان دخلت معی فی تلک الأرض اذاً قمت علیّ فی کلّ الأیّام بل فی کلّ حینا تاللّه ما بقی من جسدی من محلّ الّا و قد ورد علیه رماح تدبیرک و انّک لو تنکر یشهد بذلک لسان صدق علیما الی ان افتیت علیّ فلمّا اظهر اللّه خافیة نفسک و اطّلع بها عباد الّذین هاجروا الی اللّه اذاً ارتفع ضجیجهم و انّک کنت فی نفسک علی غفلة عظیما فلمّا شهدنا فعلک و ما خرج من فمک اذاً خرجنا عن بینکم فرداً واحداً من دون ناصر و معینا حتّی لم یکن معی من یخدمنی او یخدم هؤلآء الّذین ارفع اللّه عنهم قلم الأمر اذاً بکت علینا کلّ عین بصیرا و انّک بعد ذلک ما استرحت فی نفسک ثمّ انتشرت فی البلاد فعلک باسمی لیدخل غلّی فی صدور من اراد ربّه علی هیکل اسم علیّا و خرج من لسانک و قلمک ما یستحیی ان یذکره قلم العالمین جمیعا و ما فعلت ذلک الّا بأن ظننت فی نفسک بأنّک کلّ ما تقول یسلّموا منک عباد الّذینهم کانوا عن شاطئ الأمر بعیدا تاللّه لا تطمئنّ بذلک لأنّ للّه عباد یشهدنّ الأمر بنفسه و لن یحجبهم حجبات الوهم و لن یمنعهم الاشارات عن صراط قدس رفیعا ذکّر فیما نزل من قبل انّک لو تبسط یدک لتقتلنی ما انا بباسط یدی لأقتلک کما بسطت و ما بسطنا بعد قدرتنا علیک و کان اللّه علی فعلک شهیدا

قل ان یا اخی تاللّه سیفنی انت و من معک و ترجع الی التّراب و یبقی الملک للّه ربّک و ربّ الخلایق جمیعا تاللّه یا اخی لم یکن فی قلبی بغضک و لا بغض احد من الممکنات اسمع قولی ثمّ ارجع عمّا انت علیه و توجّه الی ربّک بخضوع منیعا و انّک لو تکون علی ما انت علیه و یسجدک کلّ من علی الأرض هل یغنیک فی شیء لا فوالّذی بیده نفس البهآء اذاً فارجع ثمّ اتّخذ الی عرش ربّک سبیلا و لو یعترض کلّ العباد علی اللّه ربّهم بقولک و یبغضوننی فی انفسهم هل ینفعک ذلک فی امر لا فوربّک ان انت بذلک خبیرا اذاً یبکی قلمی و عینی و کلّ من فی السّموات و الأرض ان انت بذلک علیما دع الدّنیا و زخرفها عن ورائک و لا یغرّنّک الرّیاسة عن ذکر ربّک ثمّ اسلک سبل الانصاف و لا تجعل نفسک عن حرم القرب محروما و مع ذلک ما اکتفیت فی نفسک الی ان کتبت الی حاکم البلد بالذّلّة الّتی ضیّعت بها حرمتی و کذلک احصینا اعمالک فی لوح الّذی ما غادر عنه حرف من الأعمال من کلّ صغیر و کبیرا و انّک کنت ساتراً وجهک خلف الحجاب خوفاً من نفسک فلمّا اظهرنا الأمر و هبّت روایح الاطمینان و اطمأننت خرجت عن خلف السّتر و اعترضت علیّ بما کنت مقتدراً علیه و وردت علیّ ما تشبّکت عنه افئدة کلّ موقن ذکیّا ثمّ اتّفقت فی الأعراض مع الّذی لم تزل کنت تبغضه و هو یبغضک و سمعت منه بأذنیک ما اشتکیت به تلقآء الوجه و مع ذلک لمّا وجدت فی قلبه بغض الغلام اتّحدت معه و اخذته لنفسک معینا تاللّه یا اخی لو تنصف لتبکی علی نفسک ثمّ علی نفسی و تنوح فی ایّامک الی ان یغفر اللّه لک و یجعلک من التّائبین فی امّ الکتاب مذکورا فانظر الی اوّل الدّهر انّ الّذی قتل اخیه الأکبر الّذی سمّی بهابیل هل نفعه ذلک فی شیء اذاً فأنصف و لا تکن عن صراط الصّدق بعیدا ایّاک ان لا یحجبک ما اعطیناک من جبروت الأسمآء لأنّها قد خلقت بأمر من عندنا و انّا کنّا علی کلّ شیء لمقتدرا

ان یا قلم الأمر طهّر نفسک عن کلّ ذکر الّا عن ذکر ربّک دع النّاس بأنفسهم و لا تلتفت الیهم و کن فی عصمة منیعا و انّ ربّک یکفیک عن دونه و کفی اللّه بنفسه علیک معینا ثمّ ذکّر اخیک الّذی سمّی بالرّضی فی ملکوت الأسمآء ثمّ ارسل الیه هذا اللّوح لیجد منه روایح قدس محبوبا و لیقرّ بذلک واحد من عینیه و یبکی الأخری بما مسّ اخیه ضرّ العالمین جمیعا و لیطّلع من امر الغلام و بما ورد علیه من سهام البغضآء تاللّه حینئذ یکون فی بئر الحسد و یرفع منه ندآء ضعیف حزینا و یقول هل من ناصر ینصر الغلام و یدفع عنه رمح کلّ مغلّ اثیما و فی لحن آخر یقول تاللّه ما استنصر من احد الّا اللّه و کذلک کنّا فی مقابلة ملإ الأرض وحیدا و الرّوح و التّکبیر و البهآء علیک و علی الّذین یقرؤون آیات اللّه و یتفکّرون فی اسرارها و یجدون نفحاتها فهنیئاً لهم و لکم و لکلّ ذی شمّ لطیفا