TB Hardegg 2B

View of Hotel Carmel and Thomas Cook & Son building, Haifa 1911.

Some Notes and Commentary on the Lawh-i Hartik, Part Two.

Stephen N. Lambden

Under correction and completion 2015


[1] Great, great is the Cause! Peter the Apostle, in spite of his excellence and the eminence of his station, held back his tongue when asked about it. [2] Shouldst thou consider sincerely what hath heretofore come to pass, for the sake of the Lord alone, thou wilt assuredly see the Light shining before thine eyes. [3] The Truth is too manifest to be wrapped up in veils, the Path too open to be enveloped in darkness and the Certainty too evident to be obscured by doubts. [4] Those who have been held back are the ones who have followed their lusts and are today slumbering, sleeping. [5] They shall wake up and run around but find no place to  hide. [6] Blessed be such as catch the fragrance of Truth, then  awaken, that they might attain whatsoever the sincere servants attained.

It appears that Bahā’-Allāh here underlies the greatness of his revelation and that Peter, when asked about it, despite his exalted status found himself unable to disclose its loftiness. Bahā’-Allāh next exhorts Hardegg to consider what has previously happened to Bahā’-Allāh or Jesus before him or been set forth by Bahā’-Allāh and assures him that such reflection will cause him to be illumined.

`Abdu'l‑Bahā it is of interest to note at this point, explained in one of his letters that the sirr al-tanklīs  signifies that  "all the revolutionary events of the past would be reproduced exactly in the subsequent revelation" (Refer MacEoin, art. cit. 15 referring to a letter of `Abdu'l-Bahā to Mu`āwin al-Tujjār Narāqī cited in Ma'ida  II:19, 34; Rahiq 1:688). Thus, if Bahā’-Allāh at this point still has the sirr al-tanklīs  in mind and himself entertained ideas comparable to that just noted, then it may be that he was asking Hardegg to be conscious of the fact that it is not easy to understand his revelation just as it was not easy for contemporaries of Christ to believe in him. Whatever the case, Bahā’-Allāh informs Hardegg that if he ponders upon the reasons why past messengers of God were rejected, he is more likely to attain to a true understanding of his own claims and ways. When Bahā’-Allāh emphasises the apparent nature of the "Truth" (al-haqq), the openness of the "Path" (tarīq),  and the evident reality of the religious "certainty" (al-yaqīn)  there is allusion to the various "stages" of the Sufi quest for God.

VI : 1-2

[1] Know thou that We saw the exterior letter Ṣād (ص ) in the word  "Peace" (Ṣulḥ) (Ar. صُلْح  ṣulḥ).  [2] It, verily, was adorned with the ornament of the upright letter "A” (= ا ) and is what hath assuredly been mentioned in an Outspread Tablet

The Arabic letter Ṣād (ص ) is one of the letters or consonants of the twenty-eight letter Arabic alphabet. It is important in Islamic letter mystcism and constitutes one of the isolated or disconnected letters ( al-hurufat al-muqatta`a) of the Qur'an occuring before Sura  38, the Surat al-Ṣād (Chapter of the Letter Ṣ). It has an abjad numerical value of  90 and has been given a wide range of meanings in Islamic exegetical and esoteric literatures. Ṣād is the intial letter of many hundreds of Arabic words, including of the word "Peace" (Ar. صُلْح  = ṣulḥ) as is indicated in the Lawh-i Hartik (VI:1). When Baha'-Allah states that it has been adorned with the upright or standing letter "A"  a word with adjacent letters Ṣād (Ṣ) and Alif (A)  may be intended, a word beginning  ص ا  (= Ṣ +A).

One such word,  meaningful to Christians is found in the Markan New Testament story of the `Rich Young Man' (Mk 10:17ff):

17 As He [Jesus] was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, "Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"

ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτῷ Τί με λέγεις ἀγαθόν; οὐδεὶς ἀγαθὸς εἰ μὴ εἷς ὁ Θεός

18 And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good (Greek = ἀγαθόν, agathon)? No one is good (Greek ἀγαθὸς, agathos) except [he is] God alone (Greek εἷς ὁ Θεός) ...." 

In its Baha'i interpretation, the New Testament word for "Good" (Greek = ἀγαθόν, agathon) here is indicative of Baha'-Allah, as a manifestation of God  in the era of the eschatological divine theophany.

In his Lawh-i qina' and other scriptural Tablets (alwah), Bahā’-Allāh cites from the Risāla al‑Rastiyya of Shaykh Ahmad al-Ahsa'i (d. 1826) where the progenitor of al-Shaykhiyya (Shaykhism)  cites the following Islamic messianic prophecy about the time of the advent of the expected Qa'im: 

"I [Shaykh Aḥmad] state [in reply] what has been transmitted [as follows] : " After the realization of A‑L‑M‑Ṣ (=Alif‑Lām‑Mīm‑Ṣād, in Q. 7) through A‑L‑M‑R (alif‑lām‑mīm‑rā’, in Q. 13) the Mahdī [Qā’im] ‑‑ upon him be peace ‑‑  shall rise up".

Shaykh Aḥmad  comments on this tradition incorporate materials about the Arabic letters "A", "Ṣ" (= Ṣād)  and "W" ( و = wāw = w+a+w) which incorpoates an "A" at its centre when spelled out in full:

The [letter] A ا (alif) assuredly came at the realization of the [aforementioned letter] ص (= Ṣ = Ṣād). And the [letter] (ṣād) is before you more expansive than the two thighs (awsa` al‑fakhdhāyn) [the two letter w’s in wāw ?]. How then  could it  [the "A" ] [merely] be one of the two [thighs = w’s]? Furthermore, [be aware] that the [letter] و = “w” (= wāw) is [spelled with] three letters [1] [having an abjad numerical value of] six (= w) and [2] [the letter] alif  (A) and [3] six (= abjad w). [The import is that] six "days" have undoubtedly transpired and the [letter] alif (A) is the completion (al‑tammām) [of the awaited period] such that no [further] word need be uttered!

What though is [indicated by] the [second]  six (= abjad و = “w”)?  It is the other [subsequent] "days" (al‑ayyām al‑ukhar). Otherwise, why was there evident a repetition ["return" of the و  w] (al‑`aud)? Such assuredly resulted through the mystery of inversion on account of the symbol of the Ruler (sirr al‑tankīs li‑ramz al‑ra`īs).

And should this repetition [or "return" of the w] be otherwise accounted for the confirmation (al‑iqrār) thereof would be by virtue of the [existence of the] subsequent [remaining] six (= the second  w) (al‑sitta al‑bāqiyya). Then would the matter (al‑amr)  [still find realization] in the [messianic] Proof (al‑ḥujja = the Qā’im‑Mahdī) and the [personification of] the Greatest Name (al‑ism al‑a`ẓam) would be manifested in the two upright [letter] "A"s (bi’l‑alifayn al‑qā’imayn) through the letter (bi’l‑ḥarf)  which is two letters contained within Allāh )  (ḥarfān min Allāh) [1st letter of Allāh  = "A"  and last letter = "h"].  This since the two [letter A’s] are [indications of] eleven (11 = 1 beside 1) and both [also] indicate thirteen [= abjad value of  aḥad = "one" = 1+8+4 = 13 or abjad  5+6 = huwa = 13 `He is’). Thus was manifest the [letter] wāw (abjad = 6+1+6 =13) which is [also] the [letter] "H" (al‑hā’).

Where then is the differentiation [between these two letters (the و  w = (abjad) 6+1+6 = 13 and the  "H" = huwa = 5+ 6 =13]? Yet the one (al‑wāhid)   [ namely the letter “A”) is what lieth between the six ( و   = w) and the six ( و= w) [in the letter wāw = 6+1+6] realized through the completion of [the abjad value of the isolated letters?] A‑L‑M‑Ṣ (Q.7 = alif‑lām‑mīm‑ṣād = abjad 161]) through A‑L‑M‑R (Q.13 = alif‑lām‑mīm‑rā’ = abjad 231). Thus is apparent the mystery of the six [و  = wāw] ....

The words of Shaykh Ahmad al-Ahsa'i in his Risala al-Rashtiyya.

It may well be that Bahā’-Allāh alludes at the beginning of this paragraph [VI]  of the Lawh-i Hartīk  to the following words of al-Ahsā'ī in his letter to Mūsā ibn Muhammad al-Sayigh

It may well be that Bahā’-Allāh alludes at the beginning of this part [VI]  of the Law-i Hirtīk  to the following words of al-Asā'ī (in his letter to Mūsā ibn Muammad al-Sayigh; cf above) - this is the letter quoted by Bahā’-Allāh in his Law-i qinā') in interpretation of an Islamic tradition (on which see Abū al-Fal Gulpaygānī, Sharh āyāt-i muwarrikha  [Shanghai, 1925], p.7ff) about the time of the coming of the Qā'im: "And the alif ( ا )  has come upon the end of the Sād (  )  and the Sād is with you" (trans. MacEoin, art. cit., 14). If this be the case then Bahā’-Allāh may be alluding to the coming of the Bāb and linking his advent with al-sulh  - there being no clear link up with the notion of al-sulh al‑akbar (cf. also RM 1:669f).

This is the letter quoted by Bahā’-Allāh in his Lawh-i qinā' in interpretation of an Islamic tradition also cited by Mirza  Abū al-Fadl Gulpaygānī in his Sharh āyāt-i muvarrikha  [Shanghai, 1925], p.7ff) about the time of the coming of the Qā'im:

"And the alif ( ا )  has come upon the end of the Sād (       )  and the Sād is with you" (trans. MacEoin, art. cit., 14).

If this be the case then Bahā’-Allāh may be alluding to the coming of the Bāb and linking his advent with al-sulh (Peace) there being no clear link up with the notion of al-sulh al‑akbar (Greater/Most Great Peace) (cf. also RM 1:669f).

 The reference to the “Point” (= • = Ar. nuqṭa  ) from which existence originates and unto which it returns is related to the graphical for of the letter  ب   (= ”B”) or, more specifically, to the dot beneath it. The Bāb, as is well known, refers to himself as the "Point" or "Primal Point" (al-nuqṭat al-ūlā ) and associates himself by means of this title with the"origin" and "end" of prophetological and cosmological cyclic schemes. Bahā’-Allāh has similarly claimed to be the ("return" of the) "Point" (nuqṭa ).In the Lawh‑i Hirtīk   he seems to teach that the "greatest name" emerged from the "Point" perhaps having in mind the fact that the letter   (with its "point") occurs in the word bahā'   or abhā.  The implication is that Bahā’-Allāh is the one around whom the "origin" and "end" of existence revolves.

2. Bahā’-Allāh refers to the coming of the al-sulh al-akbar  "the most-great peace" in his Lawh-i malikih  ("Tablet to Queen Victoria"): see Alvā-i nāzilah..,  138, trans. Shoghi Effendi in Gleanings.., 253.

Hajji Mirza Haydar `Ali  Isfahani (d. Acre, 1921) on Shaykh Ahmad al-Ahsa'i .

For Hajji Mirza Haydar `Ali  Isfahani (d. Acre, 1921) has interpreted the words of Shaykh Ahmad "And the alif has come upon the end of the Ṣād and the Ṣād is with you, wider than the two thighs, and how shall it be one of the two?"  He suggested that according to the abjad  numerical system (hisab‑i jummal),  the letter  yad  has a value of 10  and that the letter ص   Ṣād (abjad 90) is related to this (= 9x10), hence its vale 90.

Then "A" alif (   ا ) belongs  to the units (it equals 1). When the alif comes to the end of the Ṣād (i.e. ص +  ا ) we  have  99, then add one ("A") the hundreds are reached (100). Then when the letters lam, mim and sad  are calculated, they add up to 160. Add this to the previous 100 and we get 260. "The two thighs" are a reference to the units and tens, since a standing man takes the shape of the number 11 (which contains both tens and units).

Hence Shaykh Ahmad al-Ashsa'i was indicating that the Ṣād must be made to go beyond the units and tens. It must thus be given the rank of the hundreds (i.e. it becomes 900). Since he said at the beginning "the alif has come upon the end of the Ṣād"  (now 999), this raises the whole thing to 1000. And when the aforementioned 260 is added to the 1000  and the result is 1260, "the year of the appearance of the promised one" (i.e. 1260 A.H. /1844 C.E.). Al-Ahsa'i also says "how can it be one of the two?", meaning how can the Ṣād be accounted as belonging to the units or the tens, "because if it does not reach the stage of the hundreds, the purpose in constructing the year of the manifestation would not be attained" (summary based on the transl;ation of MacEoin, 1982: XX).

VI : 3-5

The letters of the word Baha’ as the greatest Name of God.

            [3] And upon the manifestation of the lights of that Divine Word, the Gate of Heaven was opened and the Kingdom of Names appeared.  [4] And this  matter was  completed through the letter  "H" (ه ) after which it was united to the levelled letter "A" (alif  = ) which was adorned with the Point (  of the letter "B" = ب ) from which the Treasured Name, the Hidden Mystery and the Guarded Symbol ( بهاء = Bahā') emerged. [5] It, verily, is the Point ( ) from which existence hath appeared and unto which it hath returned.

 This section of the Lawh-i Hirtīk is not easy to fathom. It appears that Bahā’-Allāh is alluding to his advent as Bahā'   (considered by him to be the "greatest name of God" ) or abha  (= the most-glorious, the superlative of bahā'  = glory ) and relating this to the coming of the eschatological peace ul).  The expression al-ulh al-akbar  (= "the most-great peace") is found in Bahā’-Allāh's writings and it may be that here the meaning is that the realization of the al-sulh al-akbar   (= "the most-glorious peace") will happen as a result of the coming of Bahā 'u'llāh as the manifestation of the greatest name of God.1  Such an interpretation however, is far from certain especially since the letter ad  and  uI   appear to be directly linked with the letter alif: which association breaks down if the alif be considered the first letter of abha.  Then also, the subsequent order of letters mentioned ‑‑       then     or       (alif maqūra   = "the outstretched alif"  ?) then     ( alluded to as the "point" [nuqṭa] beneath the     ?) is not the order of letters which compose either baha' [ب       +  ه     +   ا   [+ ء  ] ) or abha  (=    +   ا + ب  + ه ). It is only by altering the order in which the various letters are mentioned that the word baha'  or its superlative form abha  can be formed and by linking the letters together in a way which the text may not suggestBahā’-Allāh refers to the coming of the al-sulh al-akbar  "the most-great peace" in his Lawh-i malika ("Tablet to Queen Victoria") see Alvāh-i nāzilah..,  138, trans. Shoghi Effendi in Gleanings.., 253.

 Yet, despite such problems attendant upon divining the words bahā'    or ( more likely) abhā   from these lines of the Lawh‑i Hartīk  the expressions "the treasured name", "the hidden mystery", "the guarded secret"  do point to this solution in that they commonly refer to the secret of the "greatest name of God" (as bahā'   or abhā ) in Bahā’-Allāh's writings. 3  Refer for example, Bahā’-Allāh, `Tablet on the Mission of Moses' in Ma'ida  4:38‑40.


The advent of the messianic Paraclete, the “Comforter” (al-mu`azzi)

[1] Then We saw the Word which uttered a Word which every community found to be according to its own tongue and language. [2] When that Word was uttered, a Sun shone forth from the Horizon of its Announcement, the Lights of which eclipsed the sun of the heavens.  [3] It said, `The head of the seventy hath been adorned with the crown of the forty and been united with the seven before the ten.' [4] Then it lamented and it said, `What is this that I see? The house doth not recognise its master neither doth the son pay heed unto his father; nor likewise is the hopeful seeker cognisant of his place of refuge and haven.'

 This next paragraph of the Lawh‑i Hirtīk sets forth in cryptic fashion the advent of Bahā’-Allāh as the "Comforter" (al-mu`azzī)  as predicted in the fourth Gospel (refer Jn 14:16f,25f;15:26f;16:7ff: in these passages the Gk.     is, in many Christian Arabic Bibles, translated as al-mu`azzī   rather than by al-faraqlit, the Paraclete).1  In abstruse qabbalistic fashion Bahā’-Allāh informs Hardegg that he has appeared aa the promised "Comforter" but laments over the fact that he has not been recognised. The following details may help to clarify the meaning of these difficult lines.

VII:1a  :  "Then We saw the Word (al-kalima) which uttered a word    (kalima)"

In this line Bahā’-Allāh is very likely referring to Jesus as "the Word" (al-kalima   cf. Qur'ān 3:40f, 52f; 4:169f) which uttered or mystically disclosed "a word", the word al-mu`azzī   with the arrival of the eschatological "hour" of fulfilment. That such is most probably the case may be gathered from the several passages in Bahā’-Allāh's writings in which the Johannine text, "I have many things to say unto you but you cannot bear them now.." (Jn 16:12) is understood to mean that Jesus held back or refused a utter "a word~' (kalima). Bahā’-Allāh, as the following quotations from his writings make clear, claimed to be that "word" (kalima)   which Jesus did not in his own day disclose:

"The Word (al-kalima)   which the Son [Jesus] concealed is made manifest in the form of the human temple in this day.." 2

"This is the Word (al-kalima) which was concealed behind the veil of grandeur. When the promised time came it shone forth from the horizon of the divine will with manifest signs." 3 

 "This is the Word (al-kalima)  which the Son [Jesus] concealed, when to those around Him He said: `Ye cannot bear it now'. And when the appointed time was fulfilled and the Hour had struck, the Word (al-kalima)  shone forth above the horizon of the Will of God."1 

 VII:1b "..which every community (izb min al‑azāb,  lit. every one of the `groups'/ `factions',`sects') found to be according to its own tongue and language (`alā lughatihi wa lisānihi)."

  That the eschatological utterance of this "word" (al-kalima)   by "the Word" (al-kalima:  returned Jesus?) was found by the various `communities' to be in its own language and tongue perhaps indicates the universality of the eschatological disclosure. As the true Paraclete‑"Comforter" (al‑mu`azzī) BA meaningfully addressed all peoples (see Acts 2). A new eschatological Pentecost took place with his advent. It is implied that all peoples should respond to Bahā’-Allāh's advent.

Something of a background in Qur'ān 14:4 could also be argued, "And We sent no Messenger (al‑rasū l)  save with the tongue of his people (bi‑lisān qawnihi),  that he might make all clear to them.." (trans. Arberry, 246). As Bahā’-Allāh addresses all mankind his message is globally  meaningful, universally understood by all groups. A background to this verse is also reflected in the fourth sūra of the Qayyūm al‑asmā',

 "Unto every people We have sent down the Book in their own language. This Book We have, verily, revealed in the language of Our Remembrance and it is in truth a wondrous language." (see SNL and SWB:45).

Bahā’-Allāh, as the returned Christ, the "Word", utters a message which is addressed and meaningful to all mankind. He utters a universal "Word".

VII:2‑3 "When it was uttered a sun shone forth from the horizon of its disclosure the lights of which eclipsed the sun of the heavens. It said: `The head of the 70 hath been adorned with the crown of the 40 and hath been united with the 7 before the 10.'"

 Here Bahā’-Allāh associates the concealed "word" (kalima)   with -- as mentioned ‑‑ his advent as the "Comforter", al-mu`azzī ,   referring to the (abjad) numerical value of the letters composing mu`azzī (comforter : i.e.          (= abjad 40 ) +        (= abjad 70 ) +        (= abjad 7 ) +       (=abjad 10 ). That the "head of the 70 hath been adorned with the crown of the 40" signifies the conjunction of the letters       (70) and       (40), the      preceding the      . These two letters are to be added to (read in sequence with) "the 7 before the 10" or the letter    (7)  preceded by the letter        (lO). The result is thus  = "Comforter".

 In several of his writings of the `Akkā period (1868-92) Bahā’-Allāh explicitly claims to  al-mu`azzī.  In his Tablet to the Pope (Pius III; Lawh-i Pāp) for example, he writes:

"This is indeed the Father (al-wālid),  whereof Isaiah gave you tidings [refer, Isa 9:6b] and the Comforter (al-mu`azzī)  whose coming was promised by the Spirit [Jesus]." 1

  VII:4‑5 "Then it lamented and it said, `What is this that I see? The house (al-bait)   doth not recognise its master (āib)   and the son (al-ibn)   doth not pay heed unto his father (ab)   ‑- nor likewise is the hopeful seeker (al-rajī)   cognisant of his place of refuge and haven."

 These lines of the Lawh‑i Hirtīk   may be compared with the following passage from Bahā’-Allāh's Law-i Aqdas :

 "We called unto her [Bethlehem] from behind the Tabernacle of Majesty and Grandeur: `O Bethlehem! This light hath risen in the orient, and travelled towards the occident, until it reached thee in the evening of its life [probably an allusion to Bahā’-Allāh's exiles]. Tell me then: `Do the sons (al-abnā')  recognise the Father (al-ab), and acknowledge Him, or do they deny Him, even as the people aforetime denied Him [Jesus]?'.." 2

 The juxtaposition or comparison of these lines suggests that in the Lawh‑i Hirtīk Bahā’-Allāh is alluding to the failure of contemporary religionists to recognize his claims. In particular there may be allusion to the failure of Jews (= al-bait?) Christians (= al-ibn?) and possibly Muslims (=  al-rājī,  who were more conscious of his appearance).


     The sense and the translation (see below) of this section of the Lawh‑i Hirtīk  is uncertain. It appears that Bahā’-Allāh informs Hardegg that someone who is aware of how certain conditions change will be able to attain spiritual beatitude.

 A comparison however, of this paragraph with a few lines in Bahā’-Allāh's Lawh-i Basīt al-Hḥaqīqat  (text in Iqtidārāt [np.nd.[Bombay 1310.A.H.], pp.105-116., and Mā'ida-yi āsmānī  7:140-7 = a letter of the (early?) `Akkā period) suggests that Bahā’-Allāh when he uses the expressions                         is alluding to himself as the outer yet concealed manifestation of (the 4 `elements', nb. [1]                [cf. WATER?]; [2]                 [cf.AIR?]; [3]                [EARTH?]; [4]                 [cf. FIRE?] of ) the "ground of being" or "element[al basis] of real being" (basī al-hḥaqīqa)  the mystery of which, if understood by Hardegg would cause him to attain spiritual beatitude. It is not, as I note above, simply that Bahā’-Allāh exhorts Hardegg ( in Para. VIII) to become aware of `how certain conditions change' but probably that he alludes to himself as the "ground of being" (basī al-hḥaqīqa)  which is "all things" yet "none of them" (to quote the axiom of Mullā adrā, d.1640 : see below)

 Perhaps, in other words, implicit in paragraph VIII of the Law-i Hirtīk,  is Bahā’-Allāh's claim as the manifestation of God -- to be the focal centre of the"ground of being" (bas īt al-hḥaqīqa), the point from which outer being emerges. The four antithetic components of being expressive of "all things" yet "none of them" (or concealed activity yet outer staticness) may also relate to the fact that Bahā’-Allāh is thinking of himself as the manifestation of God who is inwardly the transcendent "ground of being" yet outwardly the "wronged one" (al-mazlum)  subject to imprisonment or concealment in the prison of `Akkā.

 Having made these admittedly somewhat speculative suggestions, I should perhaps clarify the basis on which they are made by brief reference to the passage from the Lawḥ-i basīt al-ḥaqīqa   mentioned above ‑‑ kindly drawn to my attention by Denis MacEoin ‑‑ and suggest an alternative translation of paragraph VIII of the Law-i Hirtīk.

 Firstly, it is important to bear in mind that the Lawh-i Basīt al-Haqī qa was written in explanation of the following axiom of Mulla Sadra, "The element of real being (basīt al-ḥaqīqa) is all things (kull al-ashyā'), yet is none of them (laysa bi-shay') (cf. E.G.Browne, A Year Amongst the Persians, CUP. 1926. p.143). Towards the end of this Tablet Bahā’-Allāh informs its recipient that if he understands and is spiritually uplifted by his explanations, he would rise up for "the victory of this concealed Wronged One" [i.e. Bahā’-Allāh] and say : [ text from Iqtidārāt:114, MA 7:146]

These lines may [ there are several possibilities] be thus translated:

"Praise be unto He Who hath manifested `the inert flow', `the delimited expanse' and the `apparent hiddenness' who, should he be outwardly seen by anyone, would be found to be in the human condition between the hands of the people of tyranny. And, if inwardly contemplated, be seen to be transcendent above what is in the heavens and the earths."

 If I understand this passage correctly the implication is that Bahā’-Allāh himself is the one who is the cause of the "ground of being" (basīt al-ḥaqīqa;  expressed here by means of three antithetic expressions) and who, just as the "ground of being" is "all thingsl' yet "none of them" is the perfection of inner and outer being (cf.Ma’ida 7:140f), outwardly subject to human limitations yet inwardly transcendent or in control.

    Bearing this possible sense of the above quoted lines in mind, and assuming that the translation is on the right lines, paragraph VIII of the Law-i Hirtīk  may be translated:

" O thou who soarest in the atmosphere of mystic knowledge! He who knoweth `the inert flow', `the static soarer', `the hidden exterior' and `the veiled resplendence' [i,e. Bahā’-Allāh as the "ground of being"?] shall be seized by the attraction of the divine effulgences to such an extent that he will fly on the wings of yearning in the atmosphere of nearness, holiness and reunion."


     Hardegg, we may gather from this paragraph, had mentioned in his letter to Bahā’-Allāh something about "the darkness" (alām)  -- possibly that eschatological darkness or oppression that is mentioned in a number of Biblical and Qur'ānic texts. This Bahā’-Allāh understands as signifying the "vain imaginings" (al-auhām)  of the people which prevent them from turning towards him. The "darkness" of the last days is not to be understood literally. Scattered throughout Bahā’-Allāh's writings are several similar interpretations of the terms "smoke" (dukhān, cf.Qur'ān 44:10) "clouds" (saāb,  etc.) and "oppression" (dīq  cf. Matt 24:29ff). 1


 Bahā’-Allāh here seems to note or acknowledge the fact that "a certain person" ( probably one of the Bahā'īs with whom Hardegg had discussed Bahā'ī beliefs) had led Hardegg to believe that the Bahā'ī view of Jesus was essentially the same as his own: Jesus being referred to as the Spirit (al-ruh ). Exactly what Hardegg's Christological views were at this time (early 1870s) is not known to the present writer. Perhaps he rejected the trinity in favour of a Johannine type subordinationalist Christology. It is certainly the case that after Hoffmann had come to Palestine his views "underwent a further development and he gave up his belief in the Trinity, and in the divinity of Jesus and his expiation of man's sins." (see XXX Templers, EJ 15:col.993). If Hardegg agreed with Hofmann on these points by the early 1870s then both Bahā'īs and Muslims would indeed have much in common Christologically. 

    Bahā’-Allāh also underlines the sanctity and loftiness, the indescribability of Jesus' spiritual station; also referring to him as the "light of oneness" (nūr al-aadiyya)  and the "sign of the Ancient of Days" (āyat al-qidam). The line, "He who turneth unto Him [Jesus] hath turned unto He [God] who sent Him...etc.", reflects the language of the Christological discourses of the fourth Gospel. Jesus, Bahā’-Allāh continues, is

changeless. Human beings' perception of his station however, differs; just as the same light is reflected in different coloured or shaped mirrors in different ways.


 Perhaps throwing some light on the reason why Bahā’-Allāh communicates his claims to Hardegg in an extraordinarily abstruse fashion, he here maintains that an open disclosure of them would create havoc or confusion in the hearts of those who would be less inclined to view them favourably. The "secret which was veiled in mystery"  is probably his own station which is nowhere explicitly spelt out in the Lawh‑i Hirtīk.  At the time when the Lawh‑i Hirtīk  was written Bahā’-Allāh had probably  -- as noted--  withdrawn in the house of `Ūdī Khammār (in late 1871-early 1872?) and did not wish, at a time when the inhabitants of `Akkā viewed him with great suspicion, to draw attention to his lofty claims. His earlier, more explicit "Tablets to the kings and rulers", were probably not openly or freely circulated in the Haifa-`Akkā area at this time. The local Christians living in `Akkā at this time -- about 3,000 of them making up one third of `Akkā's inhabitants  -- were probably not aware that Bahā’-Allāh claimed to be the return of Christ or the promised "Comforter". Hardegg had to be content with a veiled declaration by Bahā’-Allāh which he may not have been able to understand.


     Finally, Bahā’-Allāh laments the fact that he is encompassed with difficulties and looks forward to a possible meeting with Hardegg.       


10. Text in [Bahā’-Allāh], Alvā.. Muluk..  76. trans. Shoghi Effendi, PDC:31.

ll. Refer (for Arabic text), TB. 1980:2, trans Shoghi Effendi in GWB:16.

12.Text in Kitāb-i Mubīn (Bombay 1896), p. 128. ET. Shoghi Effendi, PDC, p. 47.

13. That is his [1], Tablet to the Pope (Pius IXth), [2], the Tablet to Napoleon [III], [3], the Tablet to the Czar [Alexander II], [4], the Tablet to Queen Victoria and [5], the Tablet to Nāsir al-Dīn Shāh (Law-i Sultān).

14. cf. GPB:213 

15. Refer, Law-i Shaykh..   171. trans. Shoghi Effendi, ESW:170.

16. Refer, ibid, 170. trans. idem 145.

17. Refer, Ishraq Khavārī, MA 7:191.

18. Refer,  Kitāb al‑Aqdas  cited in al-asanī, al-Bābīyūn,  118, 112., trans. Shoghi Effendi, cited S&C.,  18, 23.

19. Law-i Maqūd,  text in TB 1980:158, trans TB 1978:177. cf. also the following passage from Bahā’-Allāh's Law-i pāp (Tablet to the Pope),

"This is the day whereon the Rock (al-sakhra) crieth out and shouteth and celebrateth the praise of its Lord, the All-Possessing, the Most-High" (text in Alvāh-i nāzilah-yi khitab bi Mulūk..  [see fn. lO], p. 80. ET. Shoghi Effendi, PDC. p. 32.). Shoghi Effendi appears to have understood al-sakhra,  "the Rock" in this passage as referring to Peter: since `Peter' is placed in brackets in his translation after the word "Rock" (cf. Matt. 16:18).



20. Law-i Malikih  (Tablet to Queen Victoria), text in Alvā.. Mulūk.. 132, trans. Shoghi Effendi, PDC:

21. Bahā’-Allāh cited (in trans.) Shoghi Effendi, DB:15.

22. Abū al-Fal Gulpaygānī (1844-1914) in his Kitāb al-Farā'id  (written 1898) at one point (p.58f) quotes Qur'ān 50:41-2 and comments on this and various traditions about places from which the "Caller" (al-munad)  will utter the "cry" (al-saia).  He notes that both Sunnī and Shī`ī commentators interpret Qur'ān 50:41-2 in terms of an eschatological proclamation from the "rock" of the bait al-muqaddas    (Jerusalem) and identifies this "rock" and the expression bait al‑muqaddas   with Mt. Carmel. The eschatological call of the Bāb he adds, in fulfillment of prophetic traditions (aadīth)  was raised in Mecca while that of Bahā’-Allāh was raised in the Holy Land. Thus was fulfilled various prophecies which imply the coming of twin messengers of God. Muammad Bāqir Majlisī record a tradition in his Bihār al-Anwār  (chapter on the [eschatological] signs in the Kitāb i‑Ghayba)  from the 6th Imam to the effect that Gabriel will be the first to pledge allegiance to the Qā'im. He will descend in the form of a white bird, place one foot on Mecca and one foot on the Bait al-muqaddas,  and announce the advent of the Cause (al-amr)  of God. For Gulpaygānī this tradition indicates the appearance of the Bāb and Bahā’-Allāh in Mecca and the Holy Land respectively.

            On the "rock" and various Jewish and Islamic traditions relating to it see, Hirschberg, Sources..   321ff. cf. also (+ bibliography in) Soucek, `The Temple of Solomon..', 72-123.

23. Refer for example, Mk. 10:31 = Matt. 19:30, Matt. 20:16, Luke 13:30; Bab, Persian Bayān,  II. 16, 17., VIII. 4.

24. Law-i pāp  (Tablet to the Pope), text in Alvā..Mulūk..  76. trans. Shoghi Effendi, PDC:3I.

25. On this subject refer, Winkler, 1930; Anawati, 1967:7-58. 0n some Shaykhī and Bahā'ī speculations refer, [quoting various letters of Bahā’-Allāh and `Abdu'l-Bahā] Ishraq Khavārī, MA 1:12ff. (cf. MA 3:4-5); idem. RM l:669-690; cf. idem QI 4:1642f; Māzandarānī, AA 00:238-41; MacEoin, Ritual..  41ff; idem. 1982:11-23.

26. Refer, MacEoin, 1982:16ff., esp. p. 18; al-Ahsā'īs al-Risāla al-rashtiyya  in Jawami`  X:103f (trans, MacEoin, 1982:XX). cf. also Ishraq Khāvarī, QI 4:1642f.

27. Cited MacEoin, ibid, 13-14. This letter of al-Ahsā'ī was apparently written for one Mūsā ibn Muammad al-Sayigh (refer, idem., ibid., fn. 10) and is printed in Majmū`at   61:51-3.

28. For various interpretations of the Qur'ānic phrase ulū al-`azm  refer Majlisī, Bihār 11:34f.                    

29. Refer, MacEoin, art. cit (fn. 26), p. 16ff. on some statements made in Rafati's Development of Shaykhī Thought.. 

30. Refs. given in fn. 25 below.

31.Bahā’-Allāh, letter cited MA. 1:14. See also RM. 1:682, 686, 687, where similar statements are made. In a letter addressed to a certain Asad [Allāh?] Bahā’-Allāh identifies the words, `He shall make their exalted ones their lowly ones and their lowly ones their exalted ones'  as an Islamic tradition (adīth), refer, RM. 1:687.

32. Kitab al-Aqdas, text in al-Hasani, op. cit  127.

33. Refer, MacEoin, art. cit (fn.26), p. 15 referring to a letter of `Abd al-Bahā to Muā`awin al-Tujjar Narā qī quoted in MA. 2:19, 34, RM. 1:688.

34. Bahā’-Allāh refers to the coming of the al-ul al-akbar   "the most-great peace" in his Law-i Malikih (Tablet to Quesn Victoria): see Alvā.. Mulūk..  138. trans. Shoghi Effendi in GWB:253.

35. It may well be that Bahā’-Allāh alludes, at the beginning of this part (VI) of the Lawh-i Hirtīq,  to the following words of al-Ahsā'ī  ‑‑ in his letter to Mūsā ibn Muammad al-Sayigh (see fn. 17 above), cited by Bahā’-Allāh in his Law-i Qinā'  in interpretation of an Islamic tradition: on which, relative to the time of the coming of the Qā'im (= the Bāb) see Gulpaygānī, Shar‑i āyāt..  7ff: "And the alif(  ) has come upon the end of the ād ( ) and the ād is with you.." (trans. MacEoin, art. cit. p. 14). If this be the case then Bahā'u'll āh may be alluding to the coming of the Bāb and linking his advent with al-ul  -- there being no clear link up with the notion of al-ul al-akbār.  cf. also  RN.Vol.l:669f.

36.Refer, for example, Bahā’-Allāh, `Tablet on the Mission of Moses' in MA 4:38-40.

37. Muslim apologists have traditlonally linked the paraclete prophecies in the Johannine farewell discourses with the coming of Muammad. This interpretation of Jn. 14: 16f., etc., is also found in Bahā'ī scripture.

38. Lawh-i pāp  (Tablet to the Pope), text in Alvā Mulū k..  79, trans. Shoghi Effendi, PDC:32.

39. Law-i pāp (Tablet to the Pope), text in ibid, 80.

40. Law‑i Aqdas  text in TB 1980:5, trans. TB. 1978:11.

41. Law‑i pāp  (Tablet to the Pope), text in Alvāh.. Mulūk,   85.

42. Law-i Aqdas,  text in TB. 1980:8 trans. TB. 1978:14-15.

43. Refer, for example, Baha'u'llāh, KI:19ff

44. I am not aware of exactly what Hardegg's Christological views were at this time (early 1870's). Perhaps he rejected the trinity in favour of a Johannine type Christology with unitarian tendencies. Certainly after Hoffmann had come to Palestine his views "underwent a further development and he gave up his belief in the Trinity, and in the divinity of Jesus and his expiation of man's sins." (OOOOOO `Templers ' EJ 15:993. If Hardegg agreed with Hoffmann on these points and they had come to be held by the early 1870's then Bahā'īs -‑ and for that matter Muslims ‑‑ would indeed have much in common Christologically. A detailed study of Templer organization and belief may reveal points of possible influence on Bahā'ī doctrine.


cf. also, p.17ff; Momen, op.cit. pp. 215f, 503, 506f, 521.


      1 Muslim apologists have traditionally linked the paraclete verses or prophecies in the Johannine `farewell discourses' with the coming of Muammad. This interpretation of John 14:16ff is also found in Bahā'ī scripture and its authoritative interpretation.

     2 Law‑i pāp  in Alvā‑ i nāzilah..  79; trans. Shoghi Effendi, PDC:32.

     3 Law‑i pāp  in Alvā‑ i nāzilah..  80.

     1 Law‑i aqdas  text Tablets of Bahā’-Allāh..  5, trans. TB:11.

     1 Law‑i pāp  in Alvā‑ i nāzilah..  85;

     2 Law‑i aqdas  text Tablets of Bahā’-Allāh ..  8, trans. TB:14‑15.

     1 See for example, Bahā’-Allāh, Kitāb‑i‑Iqān  (trans. Shoghi Effendi; London: Bahā'ī Publishing Trust, 1961), 19ff.