Baha’u'llah’s Tablet of the sacred night I
Posted by Sen on April 12, 2010
This tablet from the pen of Baha’u'llah was translated by Zia Baghdadi and published in Star of the West Volume 10 no. 1 (March 21, 1919). I am posting it here so that it is accessible to search engines, and for the benefit of those who have not (yet) purchased the Star of the West CD. A section is translated by Shoghi Effendi in Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u'llah, section CXLVII and I have inserted this into Baghdadi’s translation.
In Bahai Scriptures page 133, it is headed ‘revealed for his Honour M. `Ali’ and it is included in Prayers, Tablets, Instructions and Miscellany (1900) among a collection of Tablets with the common theme of the family of Baha’u'llah, and that any of the family who rebelled would be expelled from the community. Indeed, it does appear to refer to Baha’u’llah’s practice of separating the believers from his unfaithful relatives and opponents (“discord and difference … may vanish … except in special ordinances revealed in the divine Books”) which would date it after 1866, when Baha’u'llah initiated this. However the contents are not consistent with it being addressed to Baha’u'llah’s faithless son Mirza Muhammad Ali, and the Leiden list (which is to say, my notes, sources not unfortunately no noted !) says that the addressee is Darvish Sidq Ali, and this is consistent with the contents.
Darvish Sidq Ali was a Sufi companion of Baha’u'llah and, in Memorials of the Faithful ‘Abdu’l-Baha tells us that Baha’u'llah, “set apart a special night and He dedicated it to Darvish Sidq Ali. He wrote that at every year…the dervishes should bedeck a meeting place, which should be in a flower garden, and gather there to make mention of God.”
Note that this is not the same as the “Tablet of the sacred night” which Juan Cole has translated, which in the Leiden list is the Tablet of the sacred night II. However Juan’s introduction to the second tablet is very illuminating as to the superogatory devotional practices intended for “this blessed night.”
The Supreme Pen says: O friends of the Truth! The purpose of bearing these continuous sufferings and uninterrupted calamities is, that the souls who are assured in God may, with utmost unity, associate with one another to such an extent that discord and difference between two individuals may vanish from them, except in special ordinances revealed in the divine Books. The man with inner sight does not see imperfection in any condition. Whatsoever happens is a proof of the greatness of his condition and of the purity of his entity. For example, if a soul becomes humble, indeed this humbleness to the friends of God returns to God, for they look at his faith. By God! In this case, if the opponents do not act similarly, or if arrogance is shown by them, the person with insight (and humbleness) is in his own sublime deed and has already received and will receive recompense.
The harm of the action of the opponents will return to them. Likewise if a soul becomes arrogant this arrogance returns to God We take refuge in God from that!
[CXLVII] The Most Great Name beareth Me witness! How sad if any man were, in this Day, to rest his heart on the transitory things of this world! Arise, and cling firmly to the Cause of God. Be most loving one to another. Burn away, wholly for the sake of the Well-Beloved, the veil of self with the flame of the undying Fire, and with faces joyous and beaming with light, associate with your neighbor. Ye have well observed, in all its aspects, the behavior of Him Who is the Word of Truth amidst you. Ye know full well how hard it is for this Youth to allow, though it be for one night, the heart of any one of the beloved of God to be saddened by Him.
The Word of God hath set the heart of the world afire; how regrettable if ye fail to be enkindled with its flame! Please God, ye will regard this blessed night as the night of unity, will knit your souls together, and resolve to adorn yourselves with the ornament of a goodly and praiseworthy character. Let your principal concern be to rescue the fallen from the slough of impending extinction, and to help him embrace the ancient Faith of God. Your behavior towards your neighbor should be such as to manifest clearly the signs of the one true God, for ye are the first among men to be re-created by His Spirit, the first to adore and bow the knee before Him, the first to circle round His throne of glory. I swear by Him Who hath caused Me to reveal whatever hath pleased Him! Ye are better known to the inmates of the Kingdom on high than ye are known to your own selves. Think ye these words to be vain and empty? Would that ye had the power to perceive the things your Lord, the All-Merciful, doth see–things that attest the excellence of your rank, that bear witness to the greatness of your worth, that proclaim the sublimity of your station! God grant that your desires and unmortified passions may not hinder you from that which hath been ordained for you.
We are hopeful that in the utmost harmony, love and friendship you may deal with one another in such a manner that the banner of oneness may be raised. Surpass ye one another in good affairs and in showing contentment.
His is the right to command! He doeth whatsoever He wisheth and ruleth whomsoever He desireth, and verily He is the Powerful, the Dear, the Mighty!
A thousand thanks to Brent Poirier who has connected the Bagdad translation with Shoghi Effendi’s translation of two paragraphs in Gleanings.
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