By Muin Afnani

First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #38
Louhelen Baha'i School: Michigan, USA
October, 2001
(see list of papers from #38)

    Surah Al-Shams, The Sun:

    This Tablet was revealed in response to queries of Shaykh Mahmúd, the religious judge of Akka. He had requested for an explanation of a surah (chapter) of the Qur'an called the Sun. This Tablet is revealed entirely in Arabic. Shaykh Mahmúd became a believer in Bahá'u'lláh and collected, in the form of a book, many prophecies from Islamic traditions on the blessings of Akka, the Holy Land, and the visitors of Akka.

    In this Tablet, Bahá'u'lláh first admonishes him to leave aside question and answer, purify himself of worldly attachment, and ascend to the heaven of nearness of the Beloved. Then, He comments on the worldly knowledge that has made some people arrogant and has been the cause of Bahá'u'lláh's imprisonment. Then He proceeds to give some of the meanings enshrined in this surah. As for the word Sun, He says there are numerous meanings, of which He offers four: 1) First and foremost, Sun refers to the Primal Will of God. No one except God knows the secret of this sublime station; 2) In the second place, Sun refers to the station of Manifestations of God Who are the spiritual Suns of Divine Names and Attributes in the world of creation. For instance, those who followed Christ were illumined from the rays of that luminous Sun until it dawned again from Hijaz (Arabia); 3) Next, Sun refers to the Holy Ones who succeed the Manifestations of God, and also refers to friends of God; 4) Finally, the word Sun encompasses all the Divine Names such as All Knowing.

    Bahá'u'lláh gives explanation for other words and phrases of this surah such as Moon, Noon, Night, Heaven, Earth, etc. At the end of the Tablet Bahá'u'lláh offers a prayer for Shaykh Mahmúd so that he may be able to drink of the cup of detachment destined for the holy ones of God.

    Surah Al-Sultán, The King:

    This relatively long Tablet which is entirely in Arabic appears to have been revealed in Akka because in one passage Bahá'u'lláh refers to His calamities and exile in a land where no one was allowed to enter, which is reference to pilgrims not being allowed to enter Akka to see Bahá'u'lláh. This is one of the most beautiful Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh in Arabic from linguistic point of view. Many of the passages are in the form of rhymed prose full of metaphors and mystic expressions. It contains a wide variety of subjects from apologetics, historical points, moral teachings, and mystical concepts. The name of the Tablet, Sultán, appears to have been derived from a sentence where reference is made to the city of Sultán-Ibád, which today is known as Arák.

    Bahá'u'lláh mentions names of several individuals and to each one gives special counsels. Some of the main themes in this Tablet include:

    1. Importance of accepting the Word of God and being steadfast in His Cause.
    2. Several summons and counsels to Yahya Azal. Bahá'u'lláh tells him that while he was spending a time of comfort alongside his wives, Bahá'u'lláh was in chain defending the cause of Truth. Then He tells him that His whole being has been the target of shafts of deceit and machination launched by Azal and his associates. Even then, He harbors no anger or ill feeling toward Yahya; however, unless he changes his behavior and turns to God soon he and his associate will witness their spiritual decay.
    3. Today the only thing, which will benefit humankind, is recognition of the Manifestation of God and love of this Youth (Bahá'u'lláh).
    4. God, through His inscrutable wisdom, has hidden from people the end result of many affairs until it is beneficial to reveal them.
    5. One's actions should speak louder than his words. Attire yourselves with the ornaments of justice, forbearance, truthfulness, helping the needy, and keeping your promise.
    6. The cornerstone of faith is being steadfast in calamities for the sake of the love of God.
    7. God has built His House in the hearts of His servants. Be vigilant and safeguard this House, which is the true place for pilgrimage.

    At the end of this Tablet Bahá'u'lláh bids the handmaidens of God to be patient in the calamities they have suffered for the sake of the Cause, and assures them of His blessings.

    Tablet of Basmalah:

    This Tablet is revealed in Akka partly in Persian and partly in Arabic. From the content appears that it is revealed to some one who had harbored some enmity towards the Faith. Bahá'u'lláh admonishes him to turn his face towards the message of God; also, He ends the Tablet with a long prayer and asks the addressee to offer this prayer so that he may be forgiven for all that he has done against the Faith. The name of the Tablet is derived from the opening phrase that is used at the beginning of all, except one, of the surahs of the Qur'an, which says: "In the Name of God, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate."

    Some of the main themes of this Tablet are:

    1. The purpose of creation is the recognition of God (His Manifestation).

    2. It is incumbent upon everyone, after attaining maturity, to search after truth without any trace of prejudice or enmity. Everyone in the world is following a different creed, but if they were to look with eye of justice and fairness they would recognize the truth of the Cause.

    3. His holiness Christ was the target of countless calamities such that He ascended to the fourth heaven.

    4. That which is the cause of betterment of the world and prosperity of its people has been explained by Him (Bahá'u'lláh) at all times even when He was under the most severe persecution in the Most Great Prison (Akka).

    5. This Youth (Bahá'u'lláh) never entered any school, neither was he trained in sciences.

    6. This is the great Day of God in which the secrets of hearts will become manifest to all.

    Epistle to the Son of the Wolf

    According to the beloved Guardian, Shoghi Effendi, this magnificent Tablet was revealed one year before Bahá'u'lláh's ascension. Among the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh this Tablet occupies a significant position; for that reason Shoghi Effendi decided to translate this Tablet into English in its entirety. One of the reasons for its importance lies in the fact that Bahá'u'lláh has re-revealed some of the texts from His previous Writings such as The Hidden Words, Tablets to the King and Rulers (King of Iran, Napoleon III, Czar of Russia, Queen Victoria), the Book of Iqan (Certitude), Tablet of the Proof, and many others. The extent and scope of the themes in this Tablet are such that practically most concepts of Bahá'í Writings are mentioned in this book, e.g., moral and spiritual teachings, social principles, theology, apologetics, prophecies from the Bible and Islamic Texts, mystical expressions, issues related to civilization and world governance, the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, etc. In other words, the reader finds a summary of Bahá'u'lláh's teachings in this marvelous Tablet.

    Epistle to the Son of the Wolf was addressed to a cleric of Isfahan known as Najafí, whom Bahá'u'lláh called Son of the Wolf. He was responsible for the martyrdom of many Bahá'ís in that city, and later was instrumental in the massacre of Bahá'ís of Yazd in 1903. His father, Muhammad Baqir, who was also a cleric in Isfahan, was responsible for the martyrdom of two devoted believers known as the King of Martyrs and the Beloved of Martyrs. He was stigmatized by Bahá'u'lláh as The Wolf. Both of these two clerics fell to great misery even in their physical life. For detail see God Passes By, Notes in Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, and The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, Vol. IV, by Adib Taherzadeh.

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