Historical and Cultural Motifs in Baha'u'llah's Tablet to Nasir al-Din Shah

By Sivan Lerer

First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #132
Center for Bahá'í Studies: Acuto, Italy
July 2–5, 2015
(see list of papers from #132)

    This tablet is the longest amongst Baha' Allah's tablets which are addressed to kings and rulers. Although the tablet was composed in Edirne, it was revealed to the public during Baha' Allah's stay in Akko, in 1869.

    The tablet is addressed to Nasir al-Din Shah, the fourth ruler of the Qajar dynasty, who reigned between the years 1848-1896. In August 1852, several Babis collaborated in an attempt to assassinate the Shah, and this traumatic event left its mark on him, especially in his profound fear and distaste of anything Babi.

    This paper examines both the historical references given by Baha' Allah (for example, the mention of Shaykh Ansari), and the cultural and religious motifs. In many instances, the historical and the religious motifs are interconnected, and need to be approached as a whole.

    The paper also discusses some of the tablet's themes, such as the role of the monarch in Baha' Allah's worldview and the treatment of minority groups in society, in light of the special relation between Nasir al-Din Shah and the Babi-Bahai religion.

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