Halih

A Tablet of Bahā'-Allāh of the Late Iraq Period, Lawḥ-i Halih Halih Halih Yā Bishārat! Rejoice! Rejoice! Rejoice! O Glad-Tidings!

Stephen N. Lambden. UC Merced.

 

لوح

هَلِه    هَلِه    هَلِه

يَا بِشَارَت

 

This article and translation are currently under revision - 2015.

Introductory Notes 

Reproduced below is the Persian text of Bahá'u'lláh's Lawḥ-i Halih Halih Halih Yā Bishārat* as printed in `Abd al-Ḥamid Ishrāq Khavārī's Gani-i Shayigan (Tihran 123 Badi`/1967-8 pp. 33-35) and revised slightly in the light of the ms. text contained in INBMC vol. 35: 455-6. There follows my somewhat literalistic provisional translation revised from the first edition published in the Bahā’ī Studies Bulletin. This poetic work derives its title from the refrain which follows each internally rhyming line (halih = Rejoice! or [loosely] Hallelujah!). Composed towards the end of Bahá'u'lláh's residence in Baghdad (late 1862 or early 1863 CE?) it is expressive of his claim to special communion with God through a celestial maiden (hur) and of his assuming leadership of the Bābī religious community then led by Mīrzā Yaḥyā Nurī (d. 1914) his half-brother.  Refer further, for example, to the following related scriptural writings of Bahā’-Allāh: al-Qaṣīda al-warqā'iyya (The Ode of the Dove); Hur-i `Ujab (The Wondrous Maiden); Lawḥ-i huriyya (Tablet of the Maiden).   Drawing on Qur'ānic, Sufi and Bābī imagery, Bahá'u'llāh, in his mystically oriented ode entitled Lawḥ-i Halih…, calls upon the members of the Bābī community to listen to his "wondrous new melodies" (cf. Tarikh-i Nabīl Zarandī [Pt II] cited in Ishrāq Khavārī, Ayyām-i Tis`ih, 332f).

Below then is a slightly revised translation of my earlier rendering(s) of the Halih halih halih yā  bishārat, the text of which can be found in the original printing of Bahā'i Studies Bulletin  2:3 (December 1983),105-112, which translated the text  printed in Ishrāq Khāvarī's Ganj-i-shāyigān ("The Befitting Treasury") (Tehran, 123 BE/ 1967-8, pp.33-35). On or around 16/7/1995, I posted a slightly revised version of my first translation of the Halih halih halih yā  bishārat on the USA listserve Talisman, incorporating a few minor corrections to the text. Subsequently, the Ganj text and my translation of the Halih halih halih... was discussed and commented upon by Dr. Frank Lewis (Emory Univ. Atlanta) and others. Lewis correctly suggested that in line 5 the words دو طيف  (dū ṭayf)  so Ganj, 34 (this always seemed strange to me) might actually  be دوصَيْف  dū ṣayf, ("two swords [daggers]"). I affirmed the truth of this reading by referring to the text of the Halih halih halih yā  bishārat  reproduced in INBMC 35: 445-6 

    Later Sen McGlinn (then a student at Univ. Leiden) obtained a copy of a ms. in the handwriting of `Abd al-Bahā' from the Bahā’ī World Centre. He proceeded to made a  poetical version "in rhythmic verse" based on my own translation which he came to dubb something "based on two very defective texts"! (namely, those in Ganj, 33-5  and INBMC 35:445-6 – not very defective mss.) These versions are not so much inaccurate as occasionally "defective" or exhibiting variant readings (possibly earlier?) or recensions of the same Tablet. They may well represent early or partially updated, possibly orally (and textually) transmitted versions of the evolving Halih halih halih text. Some of these various recensions, in whole or in part, may well go back to Bahā'-Allāh himself. It is known that a number of scriptural alwāḥ (Tablets) of Bahā’-Allāh exhbit an evolving, multiply `authentic’ text.

 It is very unlikely that all the  differing mss. texts of the Halih halih halih... are all "defective" versions of a single original.  On occasion Bahā'-Allāh (and /or the Bābī-Bahā'ī community?) most likely re-revealed (through continuing waḥy) or refashioned earlier texts in devotional and other circumstances. It is well-known that Baha'-Allāh re-revealed scriptural texts in sometimes complex "updated" ways. The evolving text history of many alwah of Bahā'-Allāh remains to be clarified.

The first Persian typed text below is according to that contained in Ishrāq Khāvarī's Ganj-i-shāyigān ("The Befitting Treasury") (Tehran, 123 BE/ 1967-8, pp. 33-35) with one correction. This text was translated in the BSB 2:3 (December 1983),105-112 might be said to represents one stream of the Halih halih halih... tradition.

The second Persian text of the Halih halih halih yā  bishārat  below is that of the Hadiqat al-Irfān in the light also of the typed version from the ms. in the handwriting of `Abd al-Bahā'. This is semi-critically reproduced below. To repeat myself, in some instances it is not that texts are "defective" but that varying  texts often seem to be versions or "streams" of the evolving textual tradition.

LAWḤ-I  HALIH, HALIH, HALIH, YĀ BISHĀRAT

هَلِه    هَلِه    هَلِه

يَا بِشَارَت

  The Scriptural Tablet of

  Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O Glad Tidings!

Preliminary note

At times an asterisk will mark words, phrases or lines where variants exist or where the translation remains particularly tentative, subject to possible alteration in a future revision. I have retained the "Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O Glad Tidings!" though it would not, I think, be anything untoward if in reciting it one wished to substitute "Rejoice! Rejoice! Rejoice! O Glad Tidings!" throughout, or perhaps at every other line. Some might find reciting Hallelujah something rather too `ecclesiastical' or having unbecoming evangelical associations.

Revised Translation Stephen N. Lambden,

2000+2003+ 2014.

He is the Beloved One.

هوالمحموب

[1]

The Maid of Eternity came from the Exalted Paradise!

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O Glad Tidings!

هَلِه    هَلِه    هَلِه

يَا بِشَارَت

 [2]

With harp and with song, with crimson goblet She came!

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

O Glad Tidings!

هَلِه    هَلِه    هَلِه

يَا بِشَارَت

 [3]

With amorous glances, with the taste of mystical death! With dance and with song She came!

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O Glad Tidings

هَلِه    هَلِه    هَلِه

يَا بِشَارَت

 [4]

With musky tresses, with beauteous ruby lips! From nigh unto God, She came.

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O Glad Tidings!

هَلِه    هَلِه    هَلِه

يَا بِشَارَت

[5]

Two daggers her eyebrows, one hundred arrows from her eyelashes! To pierce our hearts she came.

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O Glad Tidings!

هَلِه    هَلِه    هَلِه

يَا بِشَارَت

[6]

All souls in her path, all hearts in her embrace! Massacred when She came.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O Glad Tidings!

هَلِه    هَلِه    هَلِه

يَا بِشَارَت

 

 [7]

With snow-white hand, with raven locks! Like the dragon [serpent] of Moses She came.

 Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O Glad Tidings!

هَلِه    هَلِه    هَلِه

يَا بِشَارَت

 [8]

From the Divine Lote-Tree this sweet Davidic voice came with the Messianic Spirit.

 Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O Glad Tidings!

هَلِه    هَلِه    هَلِه

يَا بِشَارَت

[9]

With the allurement of fidelity, with the protection of Bahā'! She came from the Dawning-Place of [the Arabic letter ه] "H".

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O Glad Tidings!

هَلِه    هَلِه    هَلِه

يَا بِشَارَت

 [10]

With guiding light from the morn of the Divine Encounter! With Mount Sinai She came.

 Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O Glad Tidings!

هَلِه    هَلِه    هَلِه

يَا بِشَارَت

 [11]

This songbird of the Spirit came to her lovers from the Nightingale of "No".

 Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O Glad Tidings!

هَلِه    هَلِه    هَلِه

يَا بِشَارَت

 

[12]

With the joyful tidings of reunion this Divine Maiden came from a branch of the Tree of Blessedness.

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O Glad Tidings!

هَلِه    هَلِه    هَلِه

يَا بِشَارَت

 [13]

This annihilated lover, this earthly bird! She came as a sacrifice in the path of the Beloved.

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O Glad Tidings

هَلِه    هَلِه    هَلِه

يَا بِشَارَت

 [14]

This sword of oppression from the Throne of fidelity!  She came upon the neck of the Beloved.

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O Glad Tidings

هَلِه    هَلِه    هَلِه

يَا بِشَارَت

 [15]

This sacred missive, with an Arab messenger! She came from the city of Sheba.


Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O Glad Tidings!

هَلِه    هَلِه    هَلِه

يَا بِشَارَت

[16]

This Eternal Countenance! She came with snow-white hand from the Divine Logos-Command.

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O Glad Tidings!

هَلِه    هَلِه    هَلِه

يَا بِشَارَت

 [17]

This Ḥijāzī Falcon came with Iraqi accents from the forearm of the King.
 Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!  O Glad Tidings!

هَلِه    هَلِه    هَلِه

يَا بِشَارَت

[18]

This Pardoning Visage! She came with fetching allure from the Court of Nearness.

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O Glad Tidings!

هَلِه    هَلِه    هَلِه

يَا بِشَارَت

[19]

 This Nightingale of mystic meaning! She came from the sacred rose-bush with the hand of *ecstasy*.
 

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O Glad Tidings!

هَلِه    هَلِه    هَلِه

يَا بِشَارَت

 [20]

This luminous page! She came with light and splendor from the Midian of Spirit.

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O Glad Tidings!

هَلِه    هَلِه    هَلِه

يَا بِشَارَت

 [21]

This Witness of the Omnipotent, this heady Wine of the Beloved! She came with the goblet of Sovereignty.

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O Glad Tidings!

هَلِه    هَلِه    هَلِه

يَا بِشَارَت

 [22]

That essence of the Beauty of the True One, that jewel of the Glory of the True One! She came with the Most Great Sign.

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O Glad Tidings!

هَلِه    هَلِه    هَلِه

يَا بِشَارَت

 [23]

That Countenance of the Desired One, that Face of the Adored One! She came with the Most-Supreme Mercy.

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O Glad Tidings!

هَلِه    هَلِه    هَلِه

يَا بِشَارَت

 [24]

The souls to Her reunion, the hearts to Her Bestowal! As the Most Exalted Lord She hath come!

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O Glad Tidings!

هَلِه    هَلِه    هَلِه

يَا بِشَارَت

 [25]

This Wondrous Remembrance hath come from the Eternal Rose-garden that the lovers of the Beauty of the Adored One, hearts and souls burning with love, might, in utmost tranquility, busy themselves with these wondrous new melodies that perchance, attracted thereby, the inmates of the Kaaba of Gnosis might be shaken with ecstasy and recall their divine and sacred homeland.

____________________

Lawh-i Halih, Halih, Halih, Ya Bisharat ("Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O Glad Tidings!

An earlier version of the above translation :

He is the Beloved One.

[1] The Maid of Eternity came from the Exalted Paradise;
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O Glad Tidings!

[2] With harp and with song, with crimson goblet she came;
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O Glad Tidings!

[3] With amorous glances, with the taste of mystical death — with dance and with song she came;
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O Glad Tidings!

[4] With musky tresses, with beauteous ruby lips — from nigh unto God, she came;
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O Glad Tidings!

[5] Two daggers her eyebrows, one hundred arrows from her eyelashes — to pierce our hearts she came;
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O Glad Tidings!

[6] All souls in her path, all hearts in her embrace — massacred when she came;
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O Glad Tidings!

[7] With snow-white hand, with raven locks — like the dragon of Moses she came;
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O Glad Tidings!

[8] This sweet Davidic voice, from the Divine Lote-Tree — with the Messianic Spirit she came;
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O Glad Tidings!

[9] With the allurement of fidelity, with the protection of Baha' — from the Dawning-Place of "H" she came;
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O Glad Tidings!

[10] With guiding light from the morn of the Divine Encounter, with Mount Sinai she came;
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O Glad Tidings!

[11] This song of the spirit came to her lovers from the Nightingale of "No";
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O Glad Tidings!

[12] With the joyful tidings of reunion this Divine Maiden came from a branch of the Tree of Blessedness;
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O Glad Tidings!

[13] This annihilated lover, this earthly bird — she came as a sacrifice in the Path of the Beloved;
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O Glad Tidings!

[14] This sword of oppression, from the Throne of fidelity — she came upon the neck of the Beloved;
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O Glad Tidings!

[15] This sacred missive, with an Arab messenger — she came from the city of Sheba;
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O Glad Tidings!

[16] This Eternal Countenance, she came with snow-white hand from the Divine command;
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O Glad Tidings!

[17] This Hijazi Falcon came with Iraqi accents from the forearm of the King;
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O Glad Tidings!

[18] This Pardoning Visage, she came with fetching allure from the Court of Nearness;
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O Glad Tidings!

[19] This Nightingale of mystic meaning, she came from the sacred rose bush with the hand of *ecstasy*;
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O Glad Tidings!

[20] This luminous page, she came with light and splendour from the Midian of Spirit;
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O Glad Tidings!

[21] This Witness of the Omnipotent, this heady Wine of the Beloved — she came with the goblet of Sovereignty;
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O Glad Tidings!

[22] That essence of the Beauty of the True One, that jewel of the Glory of the True One — she came with the Most Great Sign;
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O Glad Tidings!

[23] That Countenance of the Desired One, that Face of the Adored One — she came with the Most-Supreme Mercy;
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O Glad Tidings!

[24] The souls to her reunion, the hearts to her Bestowal — as the Most Exalted Lord she hath come!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O Glad Tidings!

[25] This Wondrous Remembrance hath come from the Eternal Rosegarden that the lovers of the beauty of the Adored One, hearts and souls burning with love, might, in utmost tranquillity, busy themselves with these wondrous new melodies; that perchance, attracted thereby, the inmates of the Kaaba of gnosis might be shaken with ecstasy and remember their divine and sacred homeland.

Notes

Without attempting to comment on the Lawh-i Halih Halih in detail the following few points may be noted.

·         Line 5

It is clear from the INBA ms, as Frank Lewis brilliantly proposed, that line 5 has du sayf = lit. "two swords" and not (as in the almost certainly erroneous Ganj printing) du ṭayf  which I had earlier hesitantly translated "two phantoms". Tony Lee's first class suggestion in the light of Frank Lewis' emendation to sayf  ("sword") "two daggers" has been retained as a dagger can be a short sword, possibly curved like the maiden's eyebrows!

·         Line 7

The "Maid of Eternity" is represented as coming with the miraculous "snow-white hand" of Moses (see for example, Exodus 4:6f; Qur'an 7:108) and like his rod which turned into a "serpent" or "dragon". i.e. she manifests the signs of true prophethood.

·         Line 8

Bahá'u'lláh refers to himself or the "Divine Maiden" - who at times seems to be his celestial Self - as being capable of uttering verses comparable to those of King David the psalmist and being characterised by the spirit (ruh) of Jesus.

·         Line 9

The "dawning-place of [the letter] "H" (ha')" as the locale from which the Maiden came probably expresses the fact that she came from the most elevated divine realm or from God; "H" (ha') being the first letter of huwa (Allah) ("He is [God]) and Huwiyya ("He-ness"; the Divine Ipseity) and Hahut, the realm of the huwiyya, the exalted Divinity.

·         line 11 (Revised)

The lā = "no" indicates the Arabic negative particle and probably not lāhūt ("the divine realm"). This “no” has various senses in Persian and Arabic mystical poetry mostly relating to the "no" at the beginning of the *kalimat al-tawḥīd (lā ilāha ila Allāh) = "there is no God but God" or a Bābī version such as "there is no God except I Myself" (lā ilāha ila anā). It may be that the "lovers" are the Bābīs to whom Bahā'u'llāh appears uttering a version of the Sinaitic declaration of divinity ("There is no God except I, Myself") and calling them to attain the Divine Presence (see line 12). On the use of "no" (lā) in Persian poetry and in line 13b of Bahá'u'lláh's earlier Rashḥ-i `amā' ("The Sprinkling of the Theophanic Cloud "; see BSB 3:2 (September 1984) revised 2nd ed. p.28

Rashh-i `amā’ line 13b =

"Observe the Iraqi Harmony! Behold the Hijazi Tambourine! See thou that the rapture of "no" (lā) raineth down from the Divine Hand"

·         lines 13-14

Allusions to Bahá'u'lláh's sufferings and lamentation over the debased condition of many Babis?

·         line 15

An allusion to the message sent by the Queen of Sheba to Solomon (see Qur'an 27:20ff) through the hoopoe.

·         line 16

An allusion to Bahá'u'lláh's superiority to Mirza Yahya (?)

·         line 17

An allusion to Bahá'u'lláh's exile from Iran to Iraq (?) cf the following lines from the Lawh-i madinat al-tawhid ("Tablet of the City of the Divine Unity"; late Baghdad Period)

"Hearken on this Day in which the Caller (al-munad) crieth out in the midst of the immortal realm and the Dove of Hijaz warbleth in the region of Iraq (fi shatr al-`Iraq) summoning all unto concord.." (Ishraq Khavari, Ma'ida-yi Asmani, 4:326-7).

·         Line 19

The INBA mss, where the Ganj printed text has *kaff-i vasl(??)*, is not at all clear though there is not an alif missing. If the reading is not as above it could well be *kaff-i vujdAn* ("hand of ecstasy") or (less likely) *kaff-i vah.dAn* ("hand of singleness")?? I have followed the probable reading *kaff-i vujdAn* ("hand of ecstasy") which would seem to be OK for the rhythm. I'm still pondering on this and hoping for another clearer mss.

·         line 20

Bahá'u'lláh likens his status to that which Moses attained after leaving Midian for Egypt

·         line 24

The sense and translation of kana rabb `āla are uncertain. It may be that Bahá'u'lláh alludes to his manifestation as the "return of the Bāb", at times known among his followers as Ḥaḍrat-i Rabbī al-ā`la ("His Holiness my Lord the Most High").