On the Tablet of All Food

By Peyman Sazedj

First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #104
Centre for Bahá'í Studies: Acuto, Italy
July 9–12, 2011
(see list of papers from #104)

    The Tablet of All Food (Lawh-i-Kullu't-Ta'ám) is the first emanation of the Pen of Bahá'u'lláh in response to an inquiry and `one of the first fruits of His Divine Pen'. It was revealed in response to Haji Mirzá Kamálu'd-Din's questions on the Qur'ánic verse: "All food was allowed to the children of Israel..." Nabil testifies in his Mathnavi that if nothing else were to be revealed by His Pen, this Tablet would in itself constitute, to all eternity, a sufficient testimony of God's Revelation.

    In this Tablet Bahá'u'lláh describes some of the spiritual realms of God; explains the meaning of food in relation to these realms; further elucidates, in a second commentary, the meanings of `food', `Israel', and `the children of Israel' in relation to the Báb and His followers; alludes to His own station as the Manifestation of God destined to succeed the Báb; stresses the burden of His sufferings and the strain of His imprisonment in the Siyáh Chál; intimates the desire to depart from the midst of those around Him; confers upon Quddús the supreme appellation of Nuqtiy-i-Ukhra (the Last Point); and identifies Himself with the Imám Husayn, alluding to the tragic fate that he was made to endure, and ending the Tablet with a moving prayer attributed to that same Imám.

    The notes presented in this paper are the result of the research that went into the preparation of a new translation of the Tablet of All Food. The aim was to prepare a non-technical translation of the Tablet, aligned with the style of English employed by Shoghi Effendi. It is an attempt to bring to the attention of a wider audience the significance of this Tablet, `the beauty of its language', and `the cogency of its argument.' The notes include: the historic circumstances that led to the revelation of the Tablet; some background on its recipient; insights into the roots of the Qur'ánic verse and traditional commentaries about it; references to the Báb's commentary on the same verse; and a discussion of the realms of God and the meaning of the verse in relation to these realms.

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