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Blessed is the spot …

Posted by Sen on August 23, 2018

“Blessed is the spot” is one of the most widely used devotional works from Baha’u’llah, in both the original Arabic and in translation. It is used as a prayer and as a hymn. It has often been set to music and recorded. It reads, in English:

Blessed is the spot, and the house, and the place, and the city, and the heart, and the mountain, and the refuge, and the cave, and the valley, and the land, and the sea, and the island, and the meadow where mention of God hath been made, and His praise glorified.

This extract was translated by Shoghi Effendi in The Advent of Divine Justice, as part of a compilation of scriptural verses from diverse sources, encouraging teaching activities. He quoted the Arabic text in his Naw Ruz message in Persian, in BE 100 / 1943.

“Blessed is the spot…” is one sentence in a longer tablet addressed to Mirza ‘Ali-Muhammad, a cultured and learned, and independently wealthy, Bahai teacher who is better known as the Hand of the Cause Ibn Asdaq.

In the compilation in The Advent of Divine Justice, Shoghi Effendi follows “Blessed is the spot…” with a passage from another Tablet to Ibn Asdaq (a renowned traveling teacher): “The movement itself from place to place, when undertaken for the sake of God, hath always exerted, and can now exert, its influence in the world…”

The Tablet containing “Blessed is the spot …” takes the form of sections of words from Baha’u’llah, alternating with sections in which Baha’u’llah is referred to in the third person. Adib Taherzadeh has explained:

Some of the Writings of Baha’u’llah … in answer to individuals … consisted of two different parts, each with its own distinctive style, one appearing to be the words of Mirza Aqa Jan [his secretary], and the other clearly the words of Baha’u’llah. It is an established fact, however, that every word of these Tablets, regardless of their style and content, was dictated by Baha’u’llah … ”
(The Revelation of Baha’u’llah Vol. 1, p. 40)

This Tablet was not published in its entirety in the original languages until 2005, when Vahid Rafati included it in his book Payk-i-Raastaan (Darmstadt: Aṣr-e Jadid Publishers), pages 60–71. It has long been available in at least two collections of photocopies of manuscripts, in INBA Vol. 27 page 354 and INBA Vol. 7 page 238.

One curious point is that Shoghi Effendi’s translation of the extract has “valley” in the singular, yet all the Arabic sources, including Shoghi Effendi’s citation, have the plural, valleys.

I have translated the last part of the tablet below. I am not aware of the date of this particular tablet, but Ibn Asdaq was born in 1850 and most of the tablets to Ibn Asdaq that can be dated are from 1878 or later. Since the Tablet refers to the creation of a Mashriqu’l-Adhkar (a House of Worship, in this case, a house used for worship) in Tehran, it could be related to a period when Ibn Asdaq lived in or passed through Tehran. He had a home there, through his wife, but he also traveled widely throughout his life.

In addition to the devotional vignette “Blessed is the spot,” the last section of the tablet speaks of the need for caution and wisdom in establishing these institutions. This is in the context of the conscious development of Bahai communities in Iran during the latter years of Baha’u’llah’s life. From 1881, if not earlier, Baha’u’llah had been encouraging the appointment of a resident religious teacher in each locality, in addition to the traveling teachers. One of the traveling teachers, and one of those tasked with appointing a resident teacher in each locality, was Ibn Asdaq. But Baha’u’llah made the establishment of all the institutions of the Bahai community conditional on ‘wisdom.’ For a period, even the circulation of the Kitab-e Iqan, which had already been printed, was restricted. The Kitab-e Aqdas was withheld, and the establishment of the local Houses of Justice was deferred. The Bahais were to keep a low profile, so as not to prompt their powerful enemies among the Islamic divines to even greater efforts in persecuting the Bahais, causing disorder in society in the process.

An English translation of some of this Tablet was included in a compilation of verses on the Mashriqu’l-Adhkar prepared by the Research Department in 2017. I have translated some more, until the end of the tablet, to give a context regarding the local Mashriqu’l-Adhkars that were being created in Iran in the time of Baha’u’llah, despite the persecution the Bahais were suffering there.

In his Encyclopaedia Iranica article on the Mashriqu’l-Adhkar, Moojen Momen states that Abdu’l-Baha began encouraging the establishment of local Mashriqu’l-Adhkars around 1900. But the tablet below — obviously written before June 1892 — refers to the Mashriqu’l-Adhkar in Tehran, and states that the Mashriqu’l-Adhkar “is or will be established in other places” in addition to Tehran. The process of establishing local Mashriqu’l-Adhkars could have begun as early as 1878, when the first copies of the Aqdas reached Tehran, or 1881, when the Tehran House of Justice (also called the Consultative Meeting) was put on a regular footing that would have given it the capacity to undertake such a project and encourage it in other places.

The Tablet below also says “The raising of Mashriqu’l-Adhkars in the towns and countryside of Khorasan is approved and praiseworthy.” This could refer to “greater Khorasan,” which includes Ishqabad and present-day Turkmenistan — then under Russian rule — but since Baha’u’llah refers to concealing the Mashriqu’l-Adhkars, the reference is probably to the Persian province of Khorasan.

These earlier Mashriqu’l-Adhkar projects, in Iran and Turkmenistan, can be taken as background to the much more voluminous later writings of Abdu’l-Baha about the importance and manner of establishing local Mashriqu’l-Adhkars.

Baha’u’llah (through Mirza Aqa Jan) writes:

You wrote that the Mashriqu’l-Adhkar has been established in Tehran and that, by the grace of God, it is or will be established in other places. These particulars were mentioned in the most holy Court. This is what the tongue of the Ancient of Days said in response:

Blessed is the spot, and the house, and the place, and the city, and the heart, and the mountain, and the refuge, and the cave, and the valley, and the land, and the sea, and the island, and the meadow where mention of God hath been made, and His praise glorified.

This binding command has been revealed in the Kitab-e Aqdas, but this is conditioned on wisdom. One must have regard for wisdom in all circumstances, because the rabble-rousers and malevolent are still lying in wait, hoping to find a pretext for raising a commotion.

They are all wandering in the wilderness of idle fancy and vain imagination, firm disciples of the foolish and ignorant. Yet they have been, and are, exerting unstinting efforts to put out the divine light that has dawned in the East (mashreq) of the heaven of knowledge. “Fie on them, and those who have clung to them.”I swear by the lights of his immortal countenance shining beyond the transitory world, that we have found the people of the Bayan more veiled, more doomed to fail and more debased since, even after the tearing of the veils and the bonfire of vague allusions and veiled speech, they have clung to the imaginings of the past. “They have chosen an idol for themselves, neglecting God but they are numbered among the losers in God’s perspicuous book.”

The raising of Mashriqu’l-Adhkars in the towns and countryside of Khorasan is approved and praiseworthy, for it is in accordance with the Book of God and His precepts. Their concealment, except from staunch and upright individuals, is a most important matter. Blessed is that soul who arises in the service of the Cause, and blessed be the one who circulates in the regions to disseminate the signs and tokens of the Lord of creation. However in Tehran, Shiraz and other places some delay is necessary. Grasp the cord of patience until the sun of this matter [of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkar] rises from the horizon of permission, for it is contrary to the requirements of wisdom for these matters to be visible in these regions.

If only the heedless ones, those evident hypocrites, could see themselves as they are: “We see them in great ignorance.” Anyone who can discern their own best advantage will refuse to exchange a single letter of the divine commands for the whole world. Their deeds have shut them out, far, far, from the mercy of God, and from His commands, and from recognizing God.


Please feel free to use the comments to link to recordings of the recitation of “Blessed is the spot…”, and for comments on my translation of this tablet. I will place the Persian/Arabic text to the last part of the tablet in the first comment.

Short link: https://wp.me/pcgF5-30u

Related content
House of Justice, House of Worship
It’s Friday: thank God
Words of Grace
O God, refresh and gladden my spirit
Worship as Paradise, in Gate of the Heart
Two letters of Abdu’l-Baha in praise of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkar
Abdu’l-Baha’s Tablet of Meetings as Mashriqu’l-Adhkars

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5 Responses to “Blessed is the spot …”

  1. Sen said

    As promised, the Persian/Arabic text of the section I have translated above. I’ve typed this up myself, so some errors are likely :

    و آين که مرقوم داشته بوديد که مشرق الأذکار در ارض طا معيّن شده و همچنين در بلاد اخری بعنايت حق جاری شده و ميشود اين مراتب در ساحت امنع اقدس عرض شد هذا ما نطق به لسان القدم فی الجواب

    طوبی لمحلّ و لبيت و لمقام ولمدينة و لقلب و لجبل و لکهف و لغار و لاودية و لبرّ و لبحر و لجزيرة و لدسکرة ارتفع فيها ذکر اللّه و ثنائه

    اين حکم محکم در کتاب اقدس نازل و لکن اين امور معلّق بحکمت است در هر حال بايد بافق حکمت ناظر شد چه که مفسدين و مغلّين در کمين بوده و هستند تا مستمسکی بيابند و بضوضا قيام نمايند از اصول احکام الآهی و شريعة اللّه ما بين اهل فرقان جز اسمی نمانده
    کلّ در باديهای ظنون و اوهام سالک و بجهّال ارض متمسّک مع ذلک بکمال جدّ و حهد در اطفای نور الاهی که از مشرق آسمان دانائی طلوع نموده بوده و هستند افّ لهم و للّذين تمسّکوا بهم قسم به انوار وجه باقی بعد فناء اشياء که اهل بيان محتجب تر و خاسرتر و پست تر مشاهده می شوند چه که بعد از خرق حجبات و حرق اشارات و سبحات به اوهام قبل تمسّک نمودهاند قد اتّخذوا لأنفسهم صنماً من دون اللّه الا انّهم من الأخسرين فی کتاب مبين

    ارتفاع مشارق الأذکار در مدن و ديار ارض خا محبوبست چه که مطابق کتاب اللّه و سنن اوست و ستر آن از اعظم امور الّا از نفوس مطمئنّة مستقيمه
    طوبی لنفس قامت علی خدمة الأمر و طوبی لعبد دار البلاد لانتشار آثار مالک الايجاد
    ولکن در ارض طا و يا وش و غيرها بايد توقّف نمود و به حبل صبر تمسّک جست الی ان يطلع نيّر الامر من افق الاذن چه که در اين اماکن ظهور اين امور از مقتضيات حکمت خارج است ای کاش ناس غافل منافق ظاهرۀ خود را ادراک می نمودند نريهم فی جهل عظيم هر نفس خير خود را ادراک نمايد يک حرف از اوامر الهی را به جميع عالم مبادله ننمايد هيهات هيهات قد جعلتهم اعمالهم محرومين عن رحمة اللّه و عرفانه و اوامره انتهی

  2. Alison Marshall said

    Hi Sen, I loved the translation. Tiny typo in the last sentence of the first paragraph. I think you have omitted the word “says”.

  3. Sen said

    Yes, thank you. It is
    هذا ما نطق به لسان القدم فی الجواب

  4. fpvrcmower said

    Thank you so much for your work

    I am inspired to draw the greatest name symbol into wood today on the west coast of the South Island. Only 180 people live here in a stretch of 100 miles.

    Your words in the natural beauty of the south islands is the living word in this most great 👍🏽…..

    Rod Young Ex-Chatham island 1995-1997 (end of three year plan beginning of 4 year plan)

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  5. Sen said

    We’ve come a long way from the Chathams, Rod. We could start a movement to export the tree carver’s craft, but I think it might be seen as vandalism by the ignorant and cultural appropriation by those familiar with that art in the Chathams.
    Find me on facebook – if you do facebook – as I’ve searched for you and found many people misappropriating your name. Sen McGlinn has the virtue of being one-of-a-kind.

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