The First Emanations of the Supreme Pen

The Poem of Rashh-i-'Amá

To our knowledge Bahá'u'lláh's first Tablet was a poem in Persian, Rashh-i-'Amá, revealed in the Síyáh-Chál of Tihrán soon after the descent of the Most Great Spirit upon His radiant soul. It is a song of victory and joy. Although its language is allusive, His divine experience is clearly proclaimed. In every line He extols the glory of God of which He had become the embodiment, and in every phrase He unveils the spiritual worlds which were then manifested within His soul.

Although consisting of only nineteen lines, this poem in itself constitutes a mighty book. Within it are contained the potentialities, the character, the power and the glory of forty years of Divine Revelation to come. It announces the glad-tidings of the release of spiritual energies which are described by Bahá'u'lláh in such terms as the wafting of the divine musk-laden Breeze, the appearance of the Ocean of the Cause of God, the sounding of the Trumpet Blast, the flow of the Living Waters, the warbling of the Nightingale of Paradise and the appearance of the Maid of Heaven. In language supremely beautiful and soul-stirring, He attributes these energies to Himself. His choice of words, and the beauty, power, depth and mystery of this poem and, indeed, of others which were revealed later, are such that they may well prove impossible to translate.

It is in this ode that Bahá'u'lláh disclosed for the first time one of the unique features of His Revelation, namely, the advent of the 'Day of God' which, at this early stage in His ministry,


[The Poem of Rashh-i-'Amá] God Passes By, p. 121
He clearly associated with Himself. In this poem He also identified His Revelation with the Day foretold in Islám when the well-known saying 'I am He' would be fulfilled. 'I' signifies the person of the Manifestation of God, that is, Bahá'u'lláh, and 'He' is the designation of God Himself. This is an indication of the greatness of His Revelation. Speaking with the voice of God, Bahá'u'lláh indeed proclaimed in many of His Tablets, 'I am God'. This identity with God, however, is in the realm of God's attributes and not of His essence which is, according to Bahá'u'lláh:

...immensely exalted beyond every human attribute, such as corporeal existence, ascent and descent, egress and regress. Far be it from His glory that human tongue should adequately recount His praise, or that human heart comprehend His fathomless mystery. He is and hath ever been veiled in the ancient eternity of His Essence, and will remain in His Reality everlastingly hidden from the sight of men.1

One of the traditions of Shí'ah Islám states that when the Promised One appears He will utter one word which will cause people to flee Him. Bahá'u'lláh has explained in a Tablet that this word is the changing of 'He' into 'I'; instead of saying 'He is God', the Manifestation of God in this day will say 'I am God', and people bereft of understanding and insight will turn away from Him.

The revelation of this joyful and wondrous poem in the Síyáh-Chál, at a time when He was still weighed down by so much suffering, is yet another proof of the vitality and vigour of Bahá'u'lláh's indomitable spirit. It is also noteworthy that only this one Tablet, as far as we can gather, was revealed in the land of His birth--a land to which He was devoted and which was the cradle of His Revelation.

The City of Tihrán

During His forty years of exile Bahá'u'lláh often turned His thoughts to Tihrán and recalled the momentous events


1. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán, p. 63 (Brit.), p. 98 (U.S.).


A most faithful brother of Bahá'u'lláh And foremost among
His Apostles


The youngest half-brother of Bahá'u'lláh, devoted to Him and
steadfast in His Cause

associated with the dawning-place of His Revelation. Many of His Tablets extol the city of Tihrán, calling it the 'Land of Tá' and referring to it as the 'mother of the world', the 'Day-spring of the Cause of God', the 'fountain of His Revelation', the 'holy and shining city', the 'Abode of supreme blissfulness', the 'land of resplendent glory' and the 'source of the joy of all mankind'.2

In the Kitáb-i-Aqdas Bahá'u'lláh has written these assuring words:

Let nothing grieve thee, O Land of Tá (Tihrán), for God hath chosen thee to be the source of the joy of all mankind. He shall, if it be His Will, bless thy throne with one who will rule with justice, who will gather together the flock of God which the wolves have scattered. Such a ruler will, with joy and gladness, turn his face towards, and extend his favours unto, the people of Bahá. He indeed is accounted in the sight of God as a jewel among men. Upon him rest forever the glory of God, and the glory of all that dwell in the kingdom of His revelation.

Rejoice with great joy, for God hath made thee 'the Dayspring of His light', inasmuch as within thee was born the Manifestation of His Glory. Be thou glad for this name that hath been conferred upon thee--a name through which the Day-star of grace hath shed its splendour, through which both earth and heaven have been illumined.

Ere long will the state of affairs within thee be changed, and the reins of power fall into the hands of the people. Verily, thy Lord is the All-Knowing. His authority embraceth all things. Rest thou assured in the gracious favour of thy Lord. The eye of His loving-kindness shall everlastingly be directed towards thee. The day is approaching when thy agitation will have been transmuted into peace and quiet calm. Thus hath it been decreed in the wondrous Book.3

The significance of the verse, 'Be thou glad for this name that hath been conferred upon thee--a name through which the Day-star of grace hath shed its splendour, through which both earth and heaven have been illumined', is that, numerically, 'Tá' (the first letter of Tihrán) is equal to nine, which is the

2. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, sections lxiii, lxiv, and lvi, for the words quoted in this sentence.

3. ibid., section lvi.

The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶91-93
numerical value of Bahá, the greatest Name of God, and this in the sight of God is a great distinction. In fact Bahá'u'lláh in one of His Tablets has referred to the letter T as the king of letters. To appreciate this, however, some basic knowledge of Arabic is necessary. It is a language vast in its vocabulary and expressive in its terms, and because each letter of its alphabet has a numerical value, it is possible to express numbers in words and vice versa. Literature has been enriched by scholars and writers employing this technique. Although its origin is in the Arabic language, this art has also been used extensively in Persian. It is often considered more eloquent in these two languages to use words instead of numbers. For instance, Nabíl-i-A'zam, the famous chronicler and poet, on the occasion of the ascension of Bahá'u'lláh wrote a most moving elegy which he concluded with a verse signifying the year of His passing: 'The Lord has departed from this world'. By adding the numerical value of all the letters in this Arabic verse, the year 1309 A.H. (A.D. 1892) is obtained. This use of words is more expressive than merely giving a number. Bahá'u'lláh and the Báb have both used this art in Their Writings, not only to elucidate many prophecies of the Qur'án and the hadíth* which had hitherto remained obscure and undisclosed, but also to express some deeper meaning of a name, word or number.

To a follower who had attained His presence in 'Akká and was to visit Tihrán on his return, Bahá'u'lláh addressed a Tablet which reveals how much He cherished the city of His birth. In this Tablet He says:

As soon as thine eyes behold from afar My native city (Tihrán), stand thou and say: 'I am come to thee out of the prison, O Land of Tá, with tidings from God, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting. I announce unto thee, O mother of the world and fountain of light unto all its peoples, the tender mercies of thy Lord, and greet thee in the name of Him

* Hadíth or 'the traditions' are the sayings of Muhammad or the Imáms (successors of Muhammad), recorded by those who themselves claimed to have heard them either directly or indirectly.

Who is the Eternal Truth, the Knower of things unseen. I testify that within thee He Who is the Hidden Name was revealed, and the Unseen Treasure uncovered. Through thee the secret of all things, be they of the past or of the future, hath been unfolded...' 4
In another Tablet the following words have been revealed in honour of the city:

Call thou to remembrance, O Land of Tá (Tihrán), the former days in which thy Lord had made thee the seat of His throne, and had enveloped thee with the effulgence of His glory. How vast the number of those sanctified beings, those symbols of certitude, who, in their great love for thee, have laid down their lives and sacrificed their all for thy sake! Joy be to thee, and blissfulness to them that inhabit thee. I testify that out of thee, as every discerning heart knoweth, proceedeth the living breath of Him Who is the Desire of the world. In thee the Unseen hath been revealed, and out of thee hath gone forth that which lay hid from the eyes of men. Which one of the multitude of thy sincere lovers shall We remember, whose blood hath been shed within thy gates, and whose dust is now concealed beneath thy soil? The sweet savours of God have unceasingly been wafted, and shall everlastingly continue to be wafted upon thee. Our Pen is moved to commemorate thee, and to extol the victims of tyranny, those men and women that sleep beneath thy dust.

Among them is Our own sister, whom We now call to mind as a token of Our fidelity, and as proof of Our loving-kindness, unto her. How piteous was her plight! In what a state of resignation she returned to her God! We, alone, in Our all-encompassing knowledge, have known it...5

The Sisters of Bahá'u'lláh

This Tablet refers to Bahá'u'lláh's full-sister Sárih Khánum, in whose honour many Tablets have been revealed. She was older than Bahá'u'lláh, a faithful follower and unswervingly steadfast in His Cause. She died in the year 1296 A.H. (about


4. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, section lxiii.

5. ibid., section lv.

A.D. 1879) in Tihrán, and is buried a short distance from the city. So great was the esteem in which Bahá'u'lláh held her that He mentions in one Tablet that there is as much reward in visiting her grave as in visiting Him. Bahá'u'lláh had five other sisters, but of them only one half-sister, Sakínih Khánum, known as Tallán Khánum,* was a true and faithful believer. She endured many sufferings in the path of God and Bahá'u'lláh cherished her with great love and affection. She is buried in the village of Tákúr in the province of Núr, and a special Tablet of visitation has been revealed in her honour by 'Abdu'l-Bahá.

Of the four remaining sisters two were not influenced by the Faith, and two became followers of Mírzá Yahyá. One in particular, Sháh Sultán Khánum, known as Khánum Buzurg, arose against Bahá'u'lláh and caused Him much suffering and pain. Bahá'u'lláh has referred to her in the following passage from Epistle to the Son of the Wolf:

Hasan-i-Mázindarání† was the bearer of seventy Tablets. Upon his death, these were not delivered unto those for whom they were intended, but were entrusted to one of the sisters of this Wronged One, who, for no reason whatever, had turned aside from Me. God knoweth what befell His Tablets.‡ This sister had never lived with Us. I swear by the Sun of Truth that after these things had happened she never saw Mírzá Yahyá, and remained unaware of Our Cause, for in those days she had been estranged from Us...Later on, she threw in her lot with Mírzá Yahyá. Conflicting reports concerning her are now reaching Us, nor is it clear what she

* She was the daughter by a former marriage of Bahá'u'lláh's mother.

† Hasan-i-Mázindarání was a cousin and a devoted follower of Bahá'u'lláh. He visited Him several times in 'Akká and, on each of these occasions, carried some of His Tablets back to Persia where he delivered them to the friends.

‡ On the last of his journeys he died before being able to complete his mission, with the result that seventy Tablets found their way into the hands of Sháh Sultán Khánum, the half-sister of Bahá'u'lláh, mentioned in the above passage. These Tablets, as far as we know, have never been recovered.

is saying or doing. We beseech God--blessed and glorified be He--to cause her to turn unto Him, and aid her to repent before the door of His grace...6

A Prayer on Leaving Persia

The initial outpourings of the Pen of Bahá'u'lláh, which had begun in Tihrán with the revelation of Rashh-i-'Amá continued in the course of His exile to 'Iráq. The following is an extract from one of the prayers revealed by Him as He journeyed through the west of Persia during the cold and arduous winter months; it portrays the sufferings and hardships which befell Him in the early days of His ministry.

My God, My Master, My Desire!...Thou hast created this atom of dust through the consummate power of Thy might, and nurtured Him with Thine hands which none can chain up...Thou hast destined for Him trials and tribulations which no tongue can describe, nor any of Thy Tablets adequately recount. The throat Thou didst accustom to the touch of silk Thou hast, in the end, clasped with strong chains, and the body Thou didst ease with brocades and velvets Thou hast at last subjected to the abasement of a dungeon. Thy decree hath shackled Me with unnumbered fetters, and cast about My neck chains that none can sunder. A number of years have passed during which afflictions have, like showers of mercy, rained upon Me...How many the nights during which the weight of chains and fetters allowed Me no rest, and how numerous the days during which peace and tranquillity were denied Me, by reason of that wherewith the hands and tongues of men have afflicted Me! Both bread and water which Thou hast, through Thy all-embracing mercy, allowed unto the beasts of the field, they have, for a time, forbidden unto this servant, and the things they refused to inflict upon such as have seceded from Thy Cause, the same have they suffered to be inflicted upon Me, until, finally, Thy decree was irrevocably fixed, and Thy behest summoned this servant to depart out of Persia, accompanied

6. Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, pp. 169, 171.
by a number of frail-bodied men and children of tender age, at this time when the cold is so intense that one cannot even speak, and ice and snow so abundant that it is impossible to move.7

7. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 109.