Some New, Little-known, or Unstudied Writings of Bahá'u'lláh (1817-1892)

By Stephen Lambden

First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #123
Bosch Baha'i School: Santa Cruz, CA
May 22–25, 2014
(see list of papers from #123)

    "God testifieth unto His Own Self, through His Own Self (li nafsÄ« bi-nafsÄ«) that I, verily, am One that liveth in the Abhá Horizon (bi innani ana hayy fi al ufuq al abha). Wherefore doth He cry out from the Light of the Horizon in all things (min al-ufuq al-nur fÄ« kull shay'), `I verily am God, no God is there except Me, the Powerful (al-muqtadir), the Transcendent (al-muta`ÄlÄ«), the Help in Peril (al- muhaymin), the Mighty (al-`aziz), the Wondrous (al-badi`)" (From one of the seals of Bahá'u'lláh, BW V: 4 + RB1:78x).

    "This wondrous, supremely generative Sun rises up from the Dawn of Eternity and crieth out betwixt earth and heaven with the melody of "I, verily, am the One that liveth in the Most Splendid [AbhÄ] Horizon" (innÄni anÄ hayy fÄ« ufuq al abhÄ) (Bahá'u'lláh in Lawh-i Sarraj in MÄ'idih, VII:89).

    "One of the bounties specified for this Manifestation is that every soul who hath turned towards the Dawning-Place of the Cause [of God] shall have both parents - even though they did not attain unto faith in this Manifestation —enveloped by a radiant beam from the Sun of the Divine Providence. Such is indeed among the bounties unto His friends. So be thou thankful and numbered among such as give praise" (Untitled Tablet of Bahá'u'lláh in Ma'ida, IV: 172).

    "On my God! O my God! I ask Thee by the blood of thy chosen ones through which the countenances of the Supreme Concourse and the Companions of the Crimson Ark have been dyed crimson, to make of me to be one who crieth out in Thy Name and is steadfast in Thy Cause. Thou verily art the All-Powerful, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise" (Prayer of Bahá'u'lláh from an Untitled Tablet).

    Like the Báb, Bahá'u'lláh wrote or revealed much in Persian and Arabic whilst resident or imprisoned within the Persian, then Ottoman dominions of (now) Iraq, Turkey and Palestine. This was during a more than forty year period (1852-1892 CE). Both these aforementioned sacred languages are viewed as languages of revelation somewhat like the two main biblical languages, Hebrew (a Semitic language) and Greek (an Indo-European language). The few passages translated above from Persian and Arabic are among many, many thousands of texts of theological, personal and devotional importance. It would take more than a lifetime to translate and study them all.

    In many of the bulky volumes entitled The Bahá'í­ World which were published under the guidance and supervision of Shoghi Effendi, there are lists of various titled Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh from all the major periods of his lifetime. A few hundred titles are listed though this was never intended to set forth a complete listing. Very many, if not most scriptural writings of Bahá'u'lláh have no designated title. Sometimes Bahá'í­s have themselves proffered titles.

    Today many Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh remain uncatalogued and unstudied being precious among believing families and others from Iran and elsewhere in the Middle East but generally unknown. Currently in excess of 10,000 Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh are known to exist. They vary in length from a few words, sentences or paragraphs to weighty communications and apologetic treatises such as the Lawh-i Sarraj and KitÄb-i Badi`. The writings of Bahá'u'lláh are still being discovered and collected today. This gradual, ongoing task was foreseen by Bahá'u'lláh himself. Families who have come to reject the faith or become estranged from it for one reason or another, often possess quantities of Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh. They sometimes give them to individual Bahá'í­s, the World Centre, deposit them in university or other libraries. Some try to sell them for a lot of money.

    While the Báb divided up his writings into five modes or categories (five being the abjad numerical value of the title Báb; 2+1+2 = 5), Bahá'u'lláh divided his revelatory output into nine modes or categories; nine being the abjad numerical value of the word Baha' (=2+5+1+1). It is as if the founder Figures personify their revelations; the categorized totality of their revealed words forming the `Temple' of their being. A few Bahá'í­s have attempted to list the nine modes of Bahá'u'lláh's revelations, though there are duplications, omissions and idiosyncrasies. The literary forms of the Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh often correspond closely to those of the Báb (given in my other abstract). Some tentative glimpses into little known writings deriving from Bahá'u'lláh will be attempted in this presentation.

    See also Some New, Little-known, or Unstudied Writings of the Báb (1819-1850).

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