The Early Tablets in 'Iráq

Circumstances of Their Revelation

In order to appreciate the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh which were revealed in 'Iráq we must first become acquainted with the circumstances and events associated with His person in that land. Bahá'u'lláh's sojourn in 'Iráq, which lasted for ten years, can be divided into three periods. The first witnessed the dawning of His Revelation and the crisis within the Bábí community brought about by the disloyalty of His half-brother Mírzá Yahyá.* The second was the period in which the orb of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation suffered a momentary eclipse as a result of His voluntary retirement into the remote mountains of Kurdistán; and the third was the gradual rise of that same orb and the irradiation of its light, culminating in the declaration of His Message in the Garden of Ridván outside Baghdád.

Mírzá Yahyá came into prominence not because he possessed any outstanding qualities, but rather through his close link with Bahá'u'lláh. In order to divert the attention of the enemies of the Faith from the person of Bahá'u'lláh, Who had emerged as a focal point among the early believers, the Báb wholeheartedly approved the suggestion of nominating the youthful and relatively unknown Mírzá Yahyá as the chief of the Bábí community. This suggestion had come from Bahá'u'lláh and only two others were aware of the plan, namely, Bahá'u'lláh's faithful brother Mírzá Músá (Áqáy-i-Kalím) and a certain Mullá 'Abdu'l-Karím-i-Qazvíní who had been entrusted by the Báb, shortly before His martyrdom, with the task of


* He was known as Subh-i-Azal (Morning of Eternity).

[Mullá 'Abdu'l-Karím-i-Qazvíní, "Mírzá Ahmad'"] The Dawn-Breakers, pp. 504-5, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 173; God Passes By, p. 51.
delivering His pen-case, seals and writings to Bahá'u'lláh; he was subsequently martyred in Tihrán at the time of Bahá'u'lláh's imprisonment in the Síyáh-Chál.

The advantages of this nomination were obvious and, as this system operated for some time, those who were endowed with insight and wisdom were able to see that Mírzá Yahyá was only a figure-head, and that it was the guiding hand of Bahá'u'lláh alone that was unobtrusively directing the affairs of the Bábí community after the martyrdom of the Báb.

When the news of the martyrdom of the Báb reached Tihrán, Mírzá Yahyá, who was then nineteen years of age, was so shaken and frightened that he fled in disguise to the mountains of Mázindarán where he sought refuge. It was through his cowardly behaviour that many believers in that area lost their faith, some even joining the enemies of the Cause. After wandering for about two years in the north and west of Persia, Mírzá Yahyá eventually followed Bahá'u'lláh to 'Iráq, but he was so fearful of being recognized that he spent most of his time either in concealment or in disguise. Such was his state of panic that at one stage he threatened to excommunicate any Bábí who might introduce him in public as the chief of the Bábí community, or show signs of recognition towards him in the streets and bazaars of Baghdád.

Yet it was not so much his lack of courage or his unfaithfulness which harmed the Cause as his opposition to the One Who was the Supreme Manifestation of God in this age. Mírzá Yahyá became jealous of Bahá'u'lláh's rising prestige with both friends and enemies, as he witnessed the power and majesty of His person and the influence He was winning over the inhabitants of Baghdád, both high and low. Mírzá Yahyá was apprehensive of losing his own position, which was already being undermined by the disillusionment of many outstanding followers of the Báb who had recognized the shallowness of his knowledge, and were disheartened by his cowardice and deceit. So, aided by the notorious Siyyid Muhammad-i-Isfahání, he began to sow seeds of doubt in the minds of those who were


attracted to Bahá'u'lláh and sought, by various means, to discredit Him and to misrepresent His efforts to revive and resuscitate the fortunes of the fast-degenerating community of the followers of the Báb.

It was mostly through the machinations of Siyyid Muhammad, the embodiment of wickedness and corruption, that Mírzá Yahyá, without any authority and in direct opposition to the explicit teachings of the Báb, claimed to be His successor--a position never contemplated by the Báb in His Writings. Mírzá Yahyá, in close association with the Siyyid, created much dissension and confusion among the believers. They were engaged, in a subtle way, in spreading false accusations against Bahá'u'lláh, Whom they introduced as the One destroying the Cause of the Báb and subverting His Laws.

As a result of such malicious and harmful designs, Bahá'u'lláh's trials and sufferings were extreme. He departed one day from Baghdád without informing even His family, and retired to the remote mountainous areas of Kurdistán where He remained for almost two years. 'The one object of Our retirement', writes Bahá'u'lláh in the Kitáb-i-Íqán, 'was to avoid becoming a subject of discord among the faithful, a source of disturbance unto Our companions, the means of injury to any soul, or the cause of sorrow to any heart,' 1

The words of God which flowed from Bahá'u'lláh's lips during the first year of His sojourn in 'Iráq, prior to this retirement, remained for the most part unrecorded. Those, however, which were recorded in the form of Tablets and are left to posterity reveal the sorrow and anguish felt by Him on account of the unfaithfulness shown by Mírzá Yahyá and some of his ignoble companions.


Shortly before Bahá'u'lláh's departure for Kurdistán, the Lawh-i-Kullu't-Ta'ám (Tablet of All Food) was revealed by Him. This was addressed to Hájí Mírzá Kamálu'd-Dín of the


1. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán, p. 160 (Brit.), p. 251 (U.S.).
[Lawh-i-Kullu't-Ta'ám] God Passes By, p. 49, p. 116, p. 121
town of Naráq whose great-grandfather, Hájí Mullá Mihdí, had written an account of the martyrdom of Imám Husayn and had extolled, in moving language, his virtues and lamented his death. It was the recital of this book which provoked intense emotion in the heart of the Báb and moved Him to tears when He was imprisoned in the castle of Máh-Kú.

Hájí Mírzá Kamálu'd-Dín was a man of culture and knowledge, and had been converted to the Bábí Faith by a certain Mullá Ja'far, who had attained the presence of the Báb in Káshán. He travelled to Baghdád in order to meet and receive enlightenment from Mírzá Yahyá, the nominee of the Báb. Unable to trace him, he wrote a letter to Bahá'u'lláh requesting Him to ask Mírzá Yahyá for a commentary on the following verse of the Qur'án by which he had been puzzled: 'All food was allowed to the children of Israel except what Israel made unlawful for itself' 2

Bahá'u'lláh passed on this letter to Mírzá Yahyá whose inadequate and superficial answer caused Hájí Mírzá Kamálu'd-Dín to become completely disillusioned and to lose all faith in him. Hájí Mírzá Kamálu'd-Dín then turned to Bahá'u'lláh and requested Him to enlighten him on the subject. The Tablet of Kullu't-Ta'ám was revealed in Arabic in answer to his question.

Upon receiving and perusing the Tablet, Hájí Mírzá Kamálu'd-Dín was inspired and uplifted; his heart was filled with a new spirit and his soul became illumined by the light of the New Day. Through this Tablet he found the Source of all knowledge and recognized the station of Bahá'u'lláh as 'Him Whom God shall make manifest'. On attaining this state of recognition, he declared his belief and pledged his loyalty to Bahá'u'lláh, Who cautioned him not to divulge to anyone the truth he had found. He was directed to return to his native town of Naráq, and to share his Tablet with the friends there.

This he did, serving the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh with devotion and self-sacrifice until his death in Naráq about the year A.D. 1881.

Bahá'u'lláh in this Tablet, which was revealed shortly before


2. Qur'án, iii, 93 (according to the Arabic text numbering).
His retirement to the mountains of Kurdistán, alluded to His intention of leaving Baghdád and lamented the afflictions and sufferings heaped upon Him by those who claimed to be the promoters of the Cause of God.

Oceans of sadness have surged over Me, a drop of which no soul could bear to drink. Such is My grief that My soul hath well nigh departed from My body...Give ear, O Kamál! to the voice of this lowly, this forsaken ant, that hath hid itself in its hole, and whose desire is to depart from your midst, and vanish from your sight, by reason of that which the hands of men have wrought. God, verily, hath been witness between Me and His servants...Woe is Me, woe is Me!...All that I have seen from the day on which I first drank the pure milk from the breast of My mother until this moment hath been effaced from My memory, in consequence of that which the hands of the people have committed.3

Because the Tablet of Kullu't-Ta'ám is not translated into English in its entirety, it is not possible adequately to convey its significance. The verse of the Qur'án concerning food and the children of Israel was apparently revealed in answer to the Jews' assertion that the laws of Islám on the prohibition of certain foods, contrary to the claims of the Muslims, did not conform to Jewish laws. Bahá'u'lláh explained that this verse in the spiritual worlds of God has infinite meanings, most of which are beyond the comprehension of man, and that He could, through His All-encompassing knowledge, continue to reveal them for many years. But He elucidated some of these, including the spiritual meaning of 'food', and in so doing unveiled in an infinitesimal measure the glory, the mystery and the vastness of the spiritual worlds of God which are without limit and far beyond the understanding of men.

Of these worlds He mentioned four in this Tablet. To gain some appreciation of their mysteries, let us turn our thoughts to God's creation on this earth, where different kingdoms exist together, each one fulfilling its particular purpose. And let us


3. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 118.
consider the human being who, in this life, functions on three different levels simultaneously. In relation to the lower kingdoms, such as the vegetable and animal, man is superior and dominant. Within his own kingdom, however, man is created to live in unity with his fellow men; whereas, in relation to the Manifestations of God, he is vastly inferior. In this example it can be seen that although man remains the same being, he manifests three degrees of qualities and attributes: those of unity, of inferiority and superiority.

Likewise, the spiritual worlds of God mentioned in this Tablet are of different degrees. The world of Háhút is described by Bahá'u'lláh as the Heaven of Oneness, the realm of the Divine Being, the imperishable Essence, a realm so exalted that even the Manifestations of God are unable to understand it. Bahá'u'lláh has written in one of His Tablets:

From time immemorial, He, the Divine Being, hath been veiled in the ineffable sanctity of His exalted Self, and will everlastingly continue to be wrapt in the impenetrable mystery of His unknowable Essence...Ten thousand Prophets, each a Moses, are thunderstruck upon the Sinai of their search at God's forbidding voice, 'Thou shalt never behold Me!'; whilst a myriad Messengers, each as great as Jesus, stand dismayed upon their heavenly thrones by the interdiction 'Mine Essence thou shalt never apprehend!' 4

The next is the world of Láhút which is the plane of Divinity, the Heavenly Court. In the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh it appears that the realm of Láhút is perhaps the world of God in relation to His Manifestations and Chosen Ones. Immersed in the ocean of His Presence, They claim no station for Themselves on this plane and are as utter nothingness in relation to Him. In this realm no one is identified with God and the designation 'He alone, and no one else beside Him, is God' becomes manifest here.

Yet another spiritual world which Bahá'u'lláh describes in this Tablet is that of Jabarút, the All-Highest Dominion. The


4. Shoghi Effendi, 'The Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh', included in The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 113.
The Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys, p. 25
station of those who abide therein is closely identified with God, insofar as they manifest all the attributes of God, speak with His voice and are united with Him. This world appears to be the realm in which God's Chosen Ones, in relation to created things, are invested with His authority.

In the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh there are many statements concerning the dual station of the Manifestations of God and His Chosen Ones. In relation to God, these Holy Souls appear as utter nothingness, but in relation to the world of creation They are endowed with all the attributes of God and are closely identified with Him. As Bahá'u'lláh has stated in one of His prayers:

When I contemplate, O my God, the relationship that bindeth me to Thee, I am moved to proclaim to all created things 'verily I am God!'; and when I consider my own self, lo, I find it coarser than clay! 5

Similar statements have also been made in Islám. The following tradition attributed to Muhammad, the Prophet of Islám, clearly indicates the dual nature of the Messengers of God. 'Manifold are Our relationships with God. At one time, We are He Himself, and He is We Ourself. At another He is that He is, and We are that We are.' 6

Another plane in the spiritual worlds of God is that of Malakút, the Kingdom of God, often referred to by the Prophets of the past. In the Tablet of Kullu't-Ta'ám, Bahá'u'lláh has described it as the Heaven of Justice.

Apart from these four spiritual worlds, Bahá'u'lláh also refers in this Tablet to the realm of Nasút--this mortal world--which He describes as the Heaven of Bounty. In many of His Tablets He has confirmed that both the human world and Divine Revelation have come into being through the bounty of God alone, and that if His bounty were to be replaced for one moment by the operation of His justice, the whole of creation would cease to exist.

In this Tablet of Kullu't-Ta'ám, Bahá'u'lláh describes other


5. Shoghi Effendi, 'The Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh', included in The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 113.

6. A Muslim tradition cited by Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 43.

meanings of the word 'food' as used in the aforementioned verse of the Qur'án. In one instance 'food' is interpreted as all knowledge; in another, recognition of the Manifestation of God. He has also stated that the word 'food', in relation to the Islámic Dispensation, may be understood as the Guardianship of that Faith by the Imáms who succeeded the Prophet. And in relation to His own yet undisclosed Revelation, He has identified 'food' with the ocean of knowledge hidden within His Tablets.

In this Tablet, also, he gives many interpretations of the words 'Israel' and the 'children of Israel', and refers to Quddús, foremost among the Letters of the Living,* as the 'Last Point', a designation which closely identifies him with the Báb, the 'Primal Point', and alludes to the greatness of his station.

This Tablet of Kullu't-Ta'ám, which captured the imagination of Hájí Mírzá Kamálu'd-Dín and unravelled many mysteries, is characteristic of the Tablets which were revealed by Bahá'u'lláh in this period. The style of His Writings, especially those in Arabic during the early years of His ministry, somewhat resembles that of the Báb. As the sun of His Revelation mounted towards its zenith in the years following this period, the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh evolved a new style, reaching its consummation in the revelation of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, the Most Holy Book, which with lucidity and eloquence manifests the power, the majesty and the beauty of Bahá'u'lláh's matchless utterance.

Some Tablets Revealed in Kurdistán

Bahá'u'lláh's retirement to the mountains of Kurdistán opened a new chapter in the history of His Revelation. Here He lived in utter seclusion for some time on a mountain named Sar-Galú, far away from the world; He left behind His loved ones and admirers, as well as those who had betrayed Him and


* The eighteen disciples who first accepted the Báb.

brought about, through their evil designs, the near extinction of the Cause of the Báb. He had with Him only one change of clothes which were made of coarse material of the type worn by the poor; His food was chiefly milk and occasionally a little rice; His dwelling-place was sometimes a cave and sometimes a rude structure made of stones; and His companions, as attested by Himself in a Tablet addressed to His cousin Maryam, were the 'birds of the air' and the 'beasts of the field'.7 In the Kitáb-i-Íqán, He refers to those days in the following words:

From Our eyes there rained tears of anguish, and in Our bleeding heart there surged an ocean of agonizing pain. Many a night We had no food for sustenance, and many a day Our body found no rest...Alone, We communed with Our spirit, oblivious of the world and all that is therein...8

Alone in the wilderness, He chanted aloud many prayers and odes extolling the attributes and glorifying the character of His Revelation. These outpourings could have revivified the souls of men and illumined the whole of humanity, but were instead confined to this remote land; and these words of God were, alas, for ever lost.

He also meditated on such things as the Cause of God which He would manifest, the fierce opposition His enemies would launch, the adversities which had already befallen Him and were still to come, and the perversity and unfaithfulness of the leaders of the Bábí community who had stained the good name of, and brought shame upon, the Cause of the Báb.

After Bahá'u'lláh had spent some time in that area, a certain Shaykh Ismá'íl, the leader of the Khálidíyyih Order, a sect of Sunní Islám, came in contact with Him and was intensely attracted to His person. In the end he succeeded in persuading Him to leave His abode for the town of Sulaymáníyyih. There, within a short period of time, Bahá'u'lláh's greatness became manifest not only to the leaders of religion and men of learning but also to all the inhabitants of the area.

His recognition as a man of outstanding qualities and know-


7. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 120, for the words quoted in this sentence.

8. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán, p. 160 (Brit.), pp. 250-51 (U.S.).

ledge occurred when His exquisite penmanship was first noticed, as well as His masterly composition and the beauty of His style in the letters He wrote acknowledging some messages He had received from a few religious leaders. It is interesting to note that some of these letters written by Bahá'u'lláh to eminent personalities such as Shaykh 'Abdu'r-Rahmán, the leader of the Qádiríyyih Order, Mullá Hámid, a celebrated divine of Sulaymáníyyih, and to a few others, have been left to posterity and testify to His sorrow and anguish in those days. In a letter He wrote to Shaykh 'Abdu'r-Rahmán He laments the loss of His trusted Muslim servant, Abu'l-Qásim-i-Hamadání, who accompanied Him from Baghdád and was attacked and killed by brigands.

Bahá'u'lláh's fame thus spread in Sulaymáníyyih and to neighbouring towns. He soon became the focal point for many who thirsted after true knowledge and enlightenment. Without disclosing His identity He appeared among them day after day, and with simplicity and eloquence answered their questions on various abstruse and perplexing features of their religious teachings. Soon the people of Kurdistán, as testified by 'Abdu'l-Bahá, were magnetized by His love. Some of His admirers even believed that His station was that of a Prophet.

One of the most outstanding events of Bahá'u'lláh's sojourn in Sulaymáníyyih, which captured the hearts of the people, was the revelation in public of a poem in Arabic known as Qasídiy-i-Varqá'íyyih. The divines of Sulaymáníyyih requested Bahá'u'lláh to undertake a task, which no one had previously accomplished, of writing a poem in the same rhyme as Qasídiy-i-Tá'íyyih, one of the works of the celebrated Arabic poet Ibn-i-Fárid.

Accepting their request, Bahá'u'lláh dictated no less than two thousand verses as He sat in their midst. Amazed at such a revelation, those present were spellbound and lost in admiration at His performance. They acclaimed His verses as far superior in their beauty, lucidity and profundity to the original poem by Ibn-i-Fárid. Knowing that the subject-matter was


beyond the people's comprehension, He chose one hundred and twenty-seven verses and allowed them to be copied.

If we remember that Bahá'u'lláh was a Persian and that He had not attended a school where the intricacies of the Arabic language were studied, this poem, from the literary point of view alone, stands out as a great testimony to His genius which was born of the Divine Spirit. The words He has used in this poem are very rich in their meanings and as they blend together, they produce a divine orchestra of spiritual melodies. With the use of only one or two words Bahá'u'lláh often makes reference to a verse of the Qur'án or a certain tradition of Islám. In this way, within a line He alludes to and welds together a series of passages from the Qur'án, revealing thereby the mysteries of God's Revelation. Each one of these verses is like an ocean created from many rivers flowing together, and hidden in their depths are innumerable pearls of wisdom and knowledge.

After His return to Baghdád, Bahá'u'lláh wrote some footnotes to this poem; in these He gave the meanings in Persian of the difficult words and also interpreted some of its abstruse verses. In two or three instances He even pointed to His own apparent deviation from grammatical rules which, in the circumstances, He clearly justified.

The theme of the Qasídiy-i-Varqá'íyyih is the praise and glorification of the Most Great Spirit which had descended upon Him in the symbolic form of the 'Maid of Heaven'. There is a dialogue between Himself as the Bearer of God's Message and the Holy Spirit personified as the Maid of Heaven, whose attributes and splendours He glorifies. For His own part, He dwells on His past sufferings, recounts the cruel fashion in which His enemies had imprisoned Him with chains and fetters, speaks of His grief and loneliness and resolutely affirms His determination to arise and face, with steadfastness and joy, any calamity which might in the future descend upon Him in the path of God.

The poem demonstrates the relationship between the person of the Manifestation of God and the Holy Spirit which animates


and sustains Him. It also throws light on the immensity of the spiritual domains of God from which all Revelations have been sent down.

Apart from this poem, some prayers and meditations were revealed by Bahá'u'lláh in Kurdistán, which are written in His own hand and have been preserved for posterity. Among them is another poem known as Sáqí-Az-Ghayb-i-Baqá. This is in Persian and again, like other odes of Bahá'u'lláh, is soul-stirring and very beautiful. It expresses His longing for the day when the glory of His Countenance will be unveiled to men and the splendours of His Revelation will shed their light upon them. It affirms that those who desire to attain the light of His Revelation must detach themselves from all earthly things, and warns them that they will be acceptable in His presence only when they are ready to offer up their lives in His path.

The Day of God

Bahá'u'lláh also alludes to the greatness of His Cause by stating that Sinai, the scene of the transcendent glory unveiled to Moses, was now revolving around His Revelation and that the Spirit of Christ longed to attain it. In many of His Tablets we find similar statements indicating that this is the Day of God Himself, a Day that all the Manifestations of the past had longed to attain:

The purpose underlying all creation is the revelation of this most sublime, this most holy Day, the Day known as the Day of God, in His Books and Scriptures--the Day which all the Prophets, and the Chosen Ones, and the holy ones, have wished to witness.9

And in another passage He proclaims:

Verily I say! No one hath apprehended the root of this Cause. It is incumbent upon every one, in this day, to perceive with the eye of God, and to hearken with His ear.

9. Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 65, for this quotation.
Whoso beholdeth Me with an eye besides Mine own will never be able to know Me. None among the Manifestations of old, except to a prescribed degree, hath ever completely apprehended the nature of this Revelation.10

The statement that the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh is incomparably greater than the Revelations of the past, and that the Prophets of old were not fully informed as to its character, appears to contradict the fact that all the Manifestations of God are one and the same in reality and, as testified by Bahá'u'lláh:

...They all abide in the same tabernacle, soar in the same heaven, are seated upon the same throne, utter the same speech, and proclaim the same Faith...11

A careful study of the Writings, however, will make it clear that both these statements are valid. Just as mankind has progressively evolved from the stage of infancy into childhood and adolescence, and will eventually become mature, so Divine Revelations have unfolded in a progressive manner.

Let us consider the growth of a human being from infancy to manhood. As he grows his capacity and powers increase; yet at each stage he remains the same person and retains the same identity. When he is in the state of childhood, he manifests the characteristics of a child; and although he longs to reach maturity, he is incapable of understanding it at this stage. However, a few years later his attitude and interests will have so changed and his abilities so much increased that he will find it hard to think of himself as the same person. For him the child no longer exists and all that is left is a memory and perhaps a picture. But in essence he is the same person. Throughout his life the same principle applies, namely, oneness of identity with gradual increase of capacity.

In like manner, the Revealers of the Word of God are one and the same in essence; yet in each age the latest Manifestation of God manifests a greater measure of truth while containing


10. Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 64, for this quotation.

11. Shoghi Effendi, 'The Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh', included in The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 115.

within Himself and His Revelation the essence and reality of the former religions.

When a new Revelation is sent down by God, the preceding religion loses its spirit. Only its form remains. The power and efficacy with which its teachings were once endowed by the Almighty are withdrawn and the laws which were once the mainstay of its social institutions are abrogated. Its followers, if they are to remain faithful to their Prophet, will turn to the new Messenger of God who embodies the spirit of former Manifestations. If they fail to do this, not only will they be worshipping a form without spirit and turning to darkened horizons but, in denying God's latest Manifestation, they will be denying the essence of their own Prophet. In one of His Tablets Bahá'u'lláh has confirmed this in these words:

Be thou assured in thyself that verily, he who turns away from this Beauty* hath also turned away from the Messengers of the past and showeth pride towards God from all eternity to all eternity.12

Bahá'u'lláh has appeared at the historic time of humanity's coming of age. All that His Revelation bestows upon mankind existed potentially in the Dispensations of the past, but to reveal it then would have been premature. The analogy of the human being will demonstrate this fact, for a child has all the limbs, organs and potential faculties of an adult, but not until he attains maturity can he use them fully.

Through Bahá'u'lláh, the glory of God's Revelation to mankind is unveiled, a glory which the Manifestations of the past foretold. Indeed, Their purpose throughout all ages was to herald the coming of Bahá'u'lláh and prepare mankind for His advent. Muhammad was the last to do so, referring to Himself as the 'Seal of the Prophets', for His was the last Dispensation of the prophetic cycle of religion. With the appearance of the Báb, this cycle closed, and He announced Bahá'u'lláh, Whose Mission was not to foretell the Day of God, but to inaugurate it,


* Bahá'u'lláh.

12. Bahá'u'lláh, 'Tablet of Ahmad', included in most Bahá'í Prayer Books.
as God's supreme Manifestation. These words gleaned from His Tablets illuminate the greatness of His Revelation:

Be fair, ye peoples of the world; is it meet and seemly for you to question the authority of One Whose presence 'He Who conversed with God' [Moses] hath longed to attain, the beauty of Whose countenance 'God's Well-beloved' [Muhammad] had yearned to behold, through the potency of Whose love the 'Spirit of God' [Jesus] ascended to heaven, for Whose sake the 'Primal Point' [the Báb) offered up His life? 13

Seize your chance, inasmuch as a fleeting moment in this Day excelleth centuries of a bygone age...Neither sun nor moon hath witnessed a day such as this...It is evident that every age in which a Manifestation of God hath lived is divinely ordained and may, in a sense, be characterized as God's appointed Day. This Day, however, is unique and is to be distinguished from those that have preceded it. The designation 'Seal of the Prophets' fully reveals and demonstrates its high station.14

Bahá'u'lláh's Return to Baghdád

The fame of 'Darvísh Muhammad'* was now spreading beyond Kurdistán. When the reports of His innate greatness and knowledge reached Baghdád, His family and friends realized that He could be none other than Bahá'u'lláh Himself. This was confirmed when officials discovered the will of Abu'l-Qásim-i-Hamadání, Bahá'u'lláh's murdered servant, which bequeathed all his possessions to a Darvísh Muhammad in the mountains of Kurdistán. On hearing of it, His family dispatched the venerable Shaykh Sultán† to Kurdistán to seek out Bahá'u'lláh. He and a servant travelled for two months before being led to Him in the neighbourhood of Sulaymáníyyih. After a


* The name which Bahá'u'lláh assumed during His two-years' absence from Baghdád.

† The father-in-law of Mírzá Músá, Bahá'u'lláh's faithful brother. (See The Dawn-Breakers, index references to Sultán-i-Karbilá'í, Shaykh)

13. Shoghi Effendi, 'The Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh', included in The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 106-7.

14. ibid., p. 107.

time, Bahá'u'lláh responded favourably to Shaykh Sultán's insistent pleading that He end His two-year retirement. He returned to Baghdád, leaving behind a host of admirers and supporters who bitterly lamented His departure.

With the arrival of Bahá'u'lláh in Baghdád in March 1856, a new day opened for the company of exiles in 'Iráq. During His absence it had become apparent to friend and foe alike that the Bábí community, left for so long to the leadership of unfaithful persons such as Mírzá Yahyá and Siyyid Muhammad-i-Isfahání, had degenerated completely. Most of its members were now dispirited; unlike the early heroes and martyrs who only a decade before had demonstrated with their life-blood the staunchness of their faith, the loftiness of their character, and the depth of their love, they were now devoid of such virtues and were spiritually as dead. And they were divided among themselves. For instance, in the town of Qazvín, the home of Táhirih, that immortal heroine of the Bábí Dispensation, they had created four sects, each bearing a name. Some followed Mírzá Yahyá, others identified their faith with Quddús or Táhirih, and some considered themselves the followers of the Bayán, the Mother Book of the Bábí Revelation.

It was during this period also that no less than twenty-five people audaciously announced themselves as 'Him Whom God shall make manifest'--a designation by which the Báb had referred to Bahá'u'lláh, the Promised One of all ages, Whose Herald He was. To support their claims, some even went so far as to disseminate their own writings among the rank and file of the community. However, a number of them who attained the presence of Bahá'u'lláh in Baghdád, where they had gone with the purpose of converting Him, recognized His station, prostrated themselves at His feet and begged forgiveness for their presumption. Some, indeed, rose to such heights of servitude and faith as to rank foremost among His disciples.

Once again Bahá'u'lláh took the reins of the Cause into His hands. The clouds of uncertainty and misfortune which had


hung over the members of the Bábí community during His absence were now beginning to lift. Through His exhortations and the encouragement which He gave, both verbally and in writing, He breathed a new life into the dying community and, in a short time, succeeded in transforming some of its members into the spiritual giants of His Dispensation.

Bahá'u'lláh Himself has testified:

By the aid of God and His divine grace and mercy, We revealed, as a copious rain, Our verses, and sent them to various parts of the world. We exhorted all men, and particularly this people, through Our wise counsels and loving admonitions, and forbade them to engage in sedition, quarrels, disputes or conflict. As a result of this, and by the grace of God, waywardness and folly were changed into piety and understanding, and weapons of war converted into instruments of peace.15

After His return to Baghdád, the words of Bahá'u'lláh were revealed in great profusion. They were uttered in the presence of some of the believers but for the most part were not recorded. Nabíl-i-A'zam, the immortal chronicler of this Dispensation, has written that Bahá'u'lláh revealed the equivalent of the Qur'án within the space of a single day and night, and that He continued in this way for two whole years after His return from Kurdistán.

In addition, many Tablets were revealed which were either written in Bahá'u'lláh's own hand, or dictated to His amanuensis, Mírzá Áqá Ján. But a great portion of the papers on which they were inscribed, comprising hundreds of thousands of verses, were wiped clean with water and then thrown into the river at the direction of Bahá'u'lláh, Who asserted: 'None is to be found at this time worthy to hear these melodies'.16

The Tablets which were preserved, however, exerted such an influence upon the members of the Bábí community that within a short period of time they were revivified, their vision was broadened, their characters transformed and their minds en-


15. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 133.

16. ibid., p. 138.

lightened. Through the revelation of these Tablets and by His personal contact with them, these companions of Bahá'u'lláh became a new creation and were endowed with great spiritual powers.