Lawh-i Mallah al-Quds (The Tablet of the Holy Mariner). I-II. Trans. Exegesis ...

Lawh-i Mallah al-Quds

(The Tablet of the Holy Mariner) 

of Mirza Husayn `Ali Nuri, Baha'-Allah, April 1863.

 

 

The Tablet of the Holy Mariner, Pts. I (Arabic) and Pt. II (Persian).

Modified translation as found in Baha'i Prayers, UK ed. 19XX. rev. USA, Web.ed. with select academic transliteration and expository notes and comments.

Stephen Lambden UCMerced. 2017.

In progress : last updated  29-12-2016.

[1]

هُوَالعزيز المحبوب

He is the Gracious (al-`aziz), the Well-Beloved (al-mahbub)!

O Holy Mariner

(Ya mallah al-quds)!

Bid thine Ark of Eternity (safinat al-baqa') appear before the Celestial Concourse (malāʾ al-aʿlā),

Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!

This opening address commences with the standard Islamic and Babi-Baha'i  هُوَ huwa ( = "He-She-It is") prefix indicative of God or His Divine Manifestation Baha'-Allah. To it is attached the two divine Attributes; firstly, the Gracious (al-`aziz), and secondly the Well-Beloved or Beloved One (al-mahbub)! The first attribute expresses the divine Graciousness, Might or Power.  The second attribute al-mahbub, pictures God/His manifestation as One supremely beloved, the object of humanity as the lovers. Together as twin divine attributes  al-`aziz and al-mabub would seem to underline the close relationship between Baha'-Allah and the Godhead who is especially dear and beloved of his messenger when he is about the announce his worldly and otherworldly mission. The teachings of the Bab and Baha'-Allah make it clear that the moment of prophetic declaration is a world, cosmos changing event when great spiritual powers are generated in an all-encompassing manner. It is seen as the long-awaited, eschatological world-changing nexus of time, a focal point which is  the basis of the potentiality of a new creation. The divine declaration  of the mazhar-i ilahi (Manifestation of God) is thought to unleash multi-dimensional spiritual powers, challenges humanity, and precipitate  microcosmic and macrocosmic change. The Baha'i teachings have it that It may only happens after an extended period of a millennium or more.

The one addressed by God in Arabic as the "Holy", "Sacred" or "Sanctified" Mariner through the words, Ya mallah al-quds, is  His Divine Manifestation Baha'-Allah. Like Noah in pre-Islamic times (see Qur'an 11:41 -see below), He is  who is called upon to launch for sailing upon the primordial ocean, the safinat al-baqa', the "ship" or "ark of eternity" symbolizing his religious "Cause" or religion. The implication is that Baha'-Allah should move forward in his disclosure of the new, neo-Babi or proto-Baha'i religion at the time of his ( Ar.)  رضوان Riḍwān or  (Per.) Riḍvān declaration in the garden of Najib Pasha near Baghdad. This during the twelve day period (April 21/2-May 2nd 1963) collectively known as Riḍwān which basically means "beatitude", "contenetment", being "well-pleased" or loosely (among other things), "Paradise".

The moving on of the ark of the religious Cause of Baha'-Allah during Riḍwān, indicates the onset of a new era of universal beatitude or contentment precipitated by the first outpourings of his revealed "Word", his declaration of a new millennial long, universal message of peace and unity with no place for jihad or any other type of wafare. This during the immanent, new, post-Babi age of fulfillment. That the "ark" of the proto-Baha'i cause should be disclosed before the Malāʾ al-Aʿlā, the "Celestial Concourse" or denizens of the realms on high beyond this world, perhaps implies  its gradual earthly disclosure and/or that it is an event of such magnitude that it involves supernal spiritual beings responsible for the well-being of humanity. The phrase malāʾ al-aʿlā is qur'anic (see Q. 37:8; 38:69;  cf.  the biblical references to the "heavenly host" or "divine/angelic council", 1 Kings 22:19; Psalm 89:6-7; 1 Tim 5:21, etc). It is frequent in Babi-Baha'i sacred literatures from the earliest period. `Abd al-Baha' has explained that for Baha'is this phrase, which is often translated, "Supreme Concourse", indicates exalted inmates of a celestial realm including the Manifestations of God, such prophets as Elijah and certain sanctified martyrs (see ABL: 97). 

Noah's Ark, Mughal minature, Freer Gallery.

[2]

Launch it upon the ancient sea, in His Name, the Most Wondrous,
Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!

As indicated above, the opening paragraphs (esp.verse 2ff) of the Tablet of the Holy Mariner echo the words of God to the biblical-qur'anic Noah who is told to set off with others within the "ark" in the "Name of God" :

Embark! (arkabu) therein [the Ark] for in the Name of God (bi-sm Allah) will be its course and its anchorage.  Surely, my Lord is Forgiving (ghafur), most Merciful (rahim)....” (Qur'an 11:41)

Imami Shi`i traditions relayed from the twelver Imams have it that the ark (al-fulk) of Noah is the sacred refuge of Shi`i pathway offering protection and salvation from the tumultuous ocean of waywardness and unbelief. Like Noah's journeying in the ark, Baha'-Allah's disclosure of his messianic secret was fraught with peril. In his Lawh-i Howdaj (Tablet of the Howdah), Baha'-Allah   ...

And let the angelic spirits enter, in the Name of God, the Most High.
Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!

Unmoor it, then, that it may sail upon the ocean of glory,
Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!

Haply the dwellers therein may attain the retreats of nearness in the everlasting realm.
Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!
Having reached the sacred strand, the shore of the crimson seas,
Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!
Bid them issue forth and attain this ethereal invisible station,
Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!
A station wherein the Lord hath in the Flame of His Beauty appeared within the deathless tree; Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!

 

Wherein the embodiments of His Cause cleansed themselves of self and passion;
Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!
Around which the Glory of Moses doth circle with the everlasting hosts;
Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!
Wherein the Hand of God was drawn forth from His bosom of Grandeur;
Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!
Wherein the ark of the Cause remaineth motionless

 

even though to its dwellers be declared all divine attributes.
Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!

O Mariner! Teach them that are within the ark that which we have taught thee behind the mystic veil.

Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!

Perchance they may not tarry in the sacred snow-white spot,

Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!

But may soar upon the wings of the spirit unto that station which the Lord hath exalted above all mention in the worlds below,
Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!
May wing through space even as the favored birds
in the realm of eternal reunion;
Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!
May know the mysteries hidden in the Seas of
light. Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!
They passed the grades of worldly limitations
and reached that of the divine unity, the center
of heavenly guidance.
Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!
They have desired to ascend unto that state which
the Lord hath ordained to be above their stations.
Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious! 

Whereupon the burning meteor cast them out from them that abide in the Kingdom of His Presence,

Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!

And they heard the Voice of Grandeur raised from behind the unseen pavilion upon the Height of Glory:

Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!

"O guardian angels!

Return them to their abode in the world below,

Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!

"Inasmuch as they have purposed to rise to that sphere which the wings of the celestial dove have never attained;

Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!

"Whereupon the ship of fancy standeth still which the minds of them that comprehend cannot grasp.

"Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!

Whereupon the maid of heaven looked out from her exalted chamber,

Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!And with her brow signed to the Celestial Concourse,

Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!

Flooding with the light of her countenance the heaven and the earth,Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!And as the radiance of her beauty shone upon the people of dust,Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!All beings were shaken in their mortal graves. Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!She then raised the call which no ear through all eternity hath ever heard,Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!And thus proclaimed: "By the Lord! He whose heart hath not the fragrance of the love of the exalted and glorious Arabian Youth,

Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!
"Can in no wise ascend unto the glory of the
highest heaven."
Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!
Thereupon she summoned unto herself one
maiden from her handmaidens,
Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!
And commanded her: "Descend into space from
the mansions of eternity,
Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!
"And turn thou unto that which they have concealed
in the inmost of their hearts.
Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!
"Shouldst thou inhale the perfume of the robe
from the Youth that hath been hidden within the
tabernacle of light by reason of that which the
hands of the wicked have wrought,
Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!
"Raise a cry within thyself, that all the inmates of the
chambers of Paradise, that are the embodiments of
the eternal wealth, may understand and hearken;
Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!
"That they may all come down from their everlasting
chambers and tremble,
Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!
"And kiss their hands and feet for having soared
to the heights of faithfulness;
Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!
"Perchance they may find from their robes
the fragrance of the Beloved One."
Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!
Thereupon the countenance of the favored damsel
beamed above the celestial chambers even as the
light that shineth from the face of the Youth above
His mortal temple;
Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!

She then descended with such an adorning as
to illumine the heavens and all that is therein.
Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!
She bestirred herself and perfumed all things in
the lands of holiness and grandeur.
Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!
When she reached that place she rose to her full
height in the midmost heart of creation,
Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!
And sought to inhale their fragrance at a time
that knoweth neither beginning nor end.
Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!
She found not in them that which she did desire,
and this, verily, is but one of His wondrous tales.
Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!
She then cried aloud, wailed and repaired to her own
station within her most lofty mansion,
Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!
And then gave utterance to one mystic word,
whispered privily by her honeyed tongue,
Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!
And raised the call amidst the Celestial Concourse
and the immortal maids of heaven:
Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!
"By the Lord! I found not from these idle claimants
the breeze of Faithfulness!
Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!
"By the Lord! The Youth hath remained lone
and forlorn in the land of exile in the hands of
the ungodly."
Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!
She then uttered within herself such a cry that
the Celestial Concourse did shriek and tremble,
Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!
And she fell upon the dust and gave up the spirit. It
seemeth she was called and hearkened unto Him
that summoned her unto the Realm on High.
Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!
Glorified be He that created her out of the essence of
love in the midmost heart of His exalted paradise!
Glorified be my Lord, the All-Glorious!
Thereupon the maids of heaven hastened forth from
their chambers, upon whose countenances the eye of
no dweller in the highest paradise had ever gazed.
Glorified be our Lord, the Most High!
They all gathered around her, and lo! they found
her body fallen upon the dust;
Glorified be our Lord, the Most High!
And as they beheld her state and comprehended a
word of the tale told by the Youth, they bared their
heads, rent their garments asunder, beat upon their
faces, forgot their joy, shed tears and smote with
their hands upon their cheeks, and this is verily one
of the mysterious grievous afflictions—
Glorified be our Lord, the Most High!