TB Naqus 1

THE LAWḤ-I  NĀQŪS  

لوح  نَاقوُس

(TABLET OF THE BELL)

9th cent CE Church in Istanbul

OF

MĪRZĀ ḤUSAYN `ALĪ NŪRĪ, BAHĀ'-ALLĀH

(1817-1892).


Introduction and trans Stephen N. Lambden 

Completed  28th July 1998. Last updated March 2 2004

 Introductory Note

Miscellaneous Bahā'ī sources indicate that the wholly Arabic Lawḥ-i nāqūs  ("Tablet of the Bell") or (after the constant refrain) Lawḥ-i subhanika yā-hū ("Tablet of Praised be Thou, O He!) is to be dated to 1280/1863 CE or to the period of Bahā'-Allāh's residence in Istanbul (Constantinople). The title Lawḥ-i nāqūs derives from the words "Strike the Bell (nāqūs) " in the opening (post introductory) line (see below). Bahā'-Allāh wrote it in his own hand on the evening of the (lunar) celebration of the declaration of the Bāb (5th of Jumādī al-Awwāl 1280 AH = October 19th 1863 CE). It was apparently on that occasion that Aqa Muhammad `Alī Tambaku Furush-i Isfahānī precipitated this revelation through the intermediary of `Abdu'l-Bahā (see letter of Shoghi Effendi to Mīrzā Badī`u'llāh Āgahabadihi.. cited Ganj, 71; Taherzadeh RB 2:18).

The non-qur'anic Arabic loan-word nāqūs derives from (Christian) Aramaic-Syriac (naposha / naqqūs) and indicates a pierced wooden clapper-board which had a gong or bell-like function in making a noise when hit with a stick. It was used in Eastern Christian regions for calling the faithful to worship or to other religious functions. Around (Eastern) Christian churches the naqūs was sounded or clapped and, like the Islamic mu`adhdhin, called the faithful to assemble for prayer. Perhaps this sound was heard by Bahā'-Allāh around Christian churches in Istanbul.

In Bābī-Bahā'ī scripture there are various references to the (eschatological) nāqūs. In a number of his writings Bahā'-Allāh personifies himself as the "Bell" (nāqūs) which summons the faithful to enter the Abhā paradise or Kingdom of God (the Bahā'ī religion). His revelation is the ringing of the "Bell" of his Person which invites humankind to the assemblage of paradise. One may recall, for example, the following opening lines from the second Tablet of Bahā'-Allāh to Napoleon III:

O King of Paris! 

Tell the priest to ring the bells [lit. `strike the clapper-boards' = nawāqīs ] no longer. By God, the True One! The Most Mighty Bell (al-nāqūs al-afkham, = Bahā'-Allāh) hath appeared in the form of Him Who is the Most Great Name (al-ism al-a`ẓam), and the fingers of the will of Thy Lord, the Most Exalted, the Most High, toll it out in the heaven of Immortality, in His name, the All-Glorious  (al-abhā) ... (trans. Shoghi Effendi, PDC: 29).

In making the following tentative provisional translation I have consulted the Arabic texts of the Lawḥ-i nāqūs  published in Adī`ah-yi hadrat-i mahbūb (Cairo 1339/1920-1) 141-153 and Risāla-yi ayyām-i tis`a (rep. Los Angeles: Kalimat Press, 1981) 100-106 as well as various unpublished manuscripts. I have also benefited from consulting the previous translations of `Alī Kuli Khan + Marzieh Gail (unpublished) and that of Denis MacEoin (Rituals in Bābīsm and Bahā'īsm   [London 1994] App. XXVI , pp. 169-172). The following translation is not, however, based upon a critically established text nor is it in any way superior to those just mentioned. As the translation is fairly literal it will at times be virtually identical to previous renderings. In diverse ways and in cryptic, mystical, Sufistic language Bahā'-Allāh celebrates the power of his recently, Riḍvān-intimated (late April early May 1863) theophanic status. As the secreted "Monk of the Divine Unicity", he is bidden by God to go some way toward disclosing his being a supreme heavenly Maiden possessed of the power of divine revelation.

In line [3] and elsewhere in the Lawḥ-i nāqūs, Bahā'-Allāh alludes to that portion of the Sūrat al-huriyya  (`Sura of the Maiden' , the 29th sura of the Qayyūm al-asmā' mid. 1844 CE) in which the Bāb makes reference to the partial yet stunning theophanic disclosure of a veiled, silken clad houri characterised by respelndent beauty (al-bahā). Both lines 4 and 5, furthermore seem to allude, for example,  to the person of Bahā'-Allāh as a conjunction or incarnation of the letters "B and "H" which constitute that Beauty-Splendour (Bahā) which, according to a well-known prophetic hadīth (greatly beloved of Rūzbihān Baqlī Shīrāzī d.1209 CE) is his pre-existent Reality. The prophet Muhammad is reckoned to have said: 

al-ward al-aḥmar min bahā' Allāh.

"The Red Rose is expressive of the Beauty-Splendor of God"  

_______

LAWḤ-I  NĀQŪS

لوح  نَاقوُس

 [0]

He is the Almighty (huwa al-`izz)

[1]

This [Tablet] is the Meadow of Paradise (rawḍat al-firdaws) wherein the melody of God, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting, hath been exalted. [2] Therein hath Houris [Maidens] of Eternity (huriyyāt al-khuld) been empowered whom none hath touched save God, the Almighty, the Sanctified. [3] Therein doth the Nightingale of Eternal Subsistence warble upon the branches of the Lote-Tree of the Extremity (sidrat al-muntahā) with such a melody as hath  bedazzaled  discerning souls (al-`uqūl). [4]  Therein is that through which the poor and needy (al-fuqarā') are made to approach the shore of independent self-sufficiency (shatī al-ghanā') and the people obtain guidance unto the Word of God (kalimat Allāh). [5] Such, indeed, is the certain Truth!

_______

[1]

In Thy Name "He" for Thou, verily, art "He".

 O "He"!

O Monk of the Divine Unicity! (rāhib al-aḥadiyya)

Strike the Bell! (al-nāqūs) for the Day of God hath been realized and the Beauty of the Divine Might  (jamāl al-`izz) been enthroned upon a Throne of Luminous Holiness.

   سبحانكَ يَاهُوَ ياهُوَ هُو يَاهُو          

So Praised be Thou O "He"!

O Thou Who art "He" Who is "He"!

O Thou besides Whom there is none other than "He".

 [2]

 O Hūd of the Verdict!  (al-ḥukm)

Sound the Bugle (al-nāqūr)  in the name of God, the Mighty, the Noble, for the Embodiment of Sanctity (haykal al-quds) hath been established upon a Mighty, Transcendent Seat (kursī).

    سبحانكَ يَاهُوَ ياهُوَ هُو يَاهُو      

So Praised be Thou O "He"!

O Thou Who art "He" Who is "He"!

O Thou besides Whom there is none other than "He".

[3]

O Countenance Eternally Subsistent! (tal`at al-baqā')

Pluck with the Fingertips of the Spirit (anāmil al-rūh)  upon a wondrous, holy Rebec (rabāb) for the Beauty of the Divine Ipseity (jamāl al-huwiyya)  is manifested in resplendent silken attire.

    سبحانكَ يَاهُوَ ياهُوَ هُو يَاهُو       

So Praised be Thou O "He"!

O Thou Who art "He" Who is "He"!

O Thou besides Whom there is none other than "He".

[4]  

O Angel of Light! (malak al-nūr)!

Sound the trumpet (al-sūr) in this theophany (al-ẓuhūr) for the letter "H" (al-hā' ) rideth upon a mighty, pre-existent letter ["B"] (bi-ḥarf `izz qadīm).

سبحانكَ يَاهُوَ ياهُوَ هُو يَاهُو        

So Praised be Thou O "He"!

O Thou Who art "He" Who is "He"!

O Thou besides Whom there is none other than "He".

[5]

 O Nightingale of Resplendence!

(`andālib al-sanā')

Warble upon the twigs in this Riḍwān according to the Name of the One Beloved (al-ḥabīb) for the Roseate Beauty (jamāl al-ward) hath been manifested from behind a thick curtain (hijāb ghalīz).

    سبحانكَ يَاهُوَ ياهُوَ هُو يَاهُو       

So Praised be Thou O "He"!

O Thou Who art "He" Who is "He"!

O Thou besides Whom there is none other than "He".

 [6]

O Nightingale of Paradise!

(bulbul al-firdaws).

Sing out upon the branches in this wondrous era (zamān badī`) for God hath divulged himself (tajalla Allāh) unto all that inhabit the created dominion (al-mulk).

    سبحانكَ يَاهُوَ ياهُوَ هُو يَاهُو       

So Praised be Thou O "He"!

O Thou Who art "He" Who is "He"!

O Thou besides Whom there is none other than "He".

[7]

O Bird of Eternity! (tayr al-baqā')

Speed in this expanse (al-hawā') for the Bird of Fidelity (ṭayr al-wafā') hath flown in a munificent, divinely intimate  firmament (fada').

    سبحانكَ يَاهُوَ ياهُوَ هُو يَاهُو        

So Praised be Thou O "He"!

O Thou Who art "He" Who is "He"!

O Thou besides Whom there is none other than "He".

[8]

O Denizens of Paradise!

(ahl al-firdaws)

Hallow ye and chant with the most beautiful, sweet voice for the melody of God (naghmat Allāh) hath been uplifted from beyond elevated, sanctified Pavilions (surādiq).

    سبحانكَ يَاهُوَ ياهُوَ هُو يَاهُو       

So Praised be Thou O "He"!

O Thou Who art "He" Who is "He"!

O Thou besides Whom there is none other than "He".

[9]

O Denizens of the Kingdom!

(ahl al-malakut)

Chant ye in the Name of the Beloved One (al-mahbūb)  for the Beauty of the Cause (jamāl al-amr) hath sparkled forth from behind ornamented, luminous veils.

    سبحانكَ يَاهُوَ ياهُوَ هُو يَاهُو        

So Praised be Thou O "He"!

O Thou Who art "He" Who is "He"!

O Thou besides Whom there is none other than "He".

[10]

O Denizens of the Kingdom of  Divine Names!

(malakūt al-asmā')

Ornament ye the very uttermost Heights (rafārif al-aqsā')  [of Paradise] for the Greatest Name hath ridden upon a sanctified, mighty Cloud.

    سبحانكَ يَاهُوَ ياهُوَ هُو يَاهُو        

So Praised be Thou O "He"!

O Thou Who art "He" Who is "He"!

O Thou besides Whom there is none other than "He".

[11]

O Denizens of the Omnipotent Kingdom of  Divine Attributes

(ahl jabarūt al-sifāt)

in the Abhā horizon! (ufq al-abhā') Be ye prepared for the Encounter with God (liqā' Allāh)  for the sanctified breezes (nasmāt al-quds) hath wafted from the Hidden Retreat of the Divine Essence (makman al-dhāt)  which is indeed a manifest Bounty.

    سبحانكَ يَاهُوَ ياهُوَ هُو يَاهُو       

So Praised be Thou O "He"!

O Thou Who art "He" Who is "He"!

O Thou besides Whom there is none other than "He".

[12]

O Riḍwān of the Divine Unicity! (riḍwān al-ahadiyya)

Be enraptured within thyself for the Riḍwān of God (Riḍwān Allāh),  the Exalted, the Powerful, the All-Knowing hath been made manifest.

    سبحانكَ يَاهُوَ ياهُوَ هُو يَاهُو        

So Praised be Thou O "He"!

O Thou Who art "He" Who is "He"!

O Thou besides Whom there is none other than "He".

[13]

O Heaven of Might ! (samā' al-`izz)

Render thanks unto God in thy very being for the Heaven of Sanctity (samā' al-quds) hath been raised up in that Firmament (hawā') which is a subtly refined heart (qalb latīf).

    سبحانكَ يَاهُوَ ياهُوَ هُو يَاهُو       

So Praised be Thou O "He"!

O Thou Who art "He" Who is "He"!

O Thou besides Whom there is none other than "He".

[14]

O Sun of the worldly dominion! (shams al-mulk)

Eclipse thy countenance for the Sun of Eternal Subsistence (shams al-baqā')  hath shed splendor from an horizon which is a brilliant Dawn.

    سبحانكَ يَاهُوَ ياهُوَ هُو يَاهُو     

So Praised be Thou O "He"!

O Thou Who art "He" Who is "He"!

O Thou besides Whom there is none other than "He".

[15]

O Earth of gnosis! (ard al-ma`rifa)

Engulf thy mystic learning (ma`ārif) for the Earth of Gnosis (ard al-ma`rifa)  hath been expanded through the Logos-Self of God (nafs Allāh), the Transcendent, the Mighty, the Munificent.

    سبحانكَ يَاهُوَ ياهُوَ هُو يَاهُو       

So Praised be Thou O "He"!

O Thou Who art "He" Who is "He"!

O Thou besides Whom there is none other than "He".

[16]

O Lamp of the worldly dominion!

 (sirāj al-mulk) 

Extinguish thy very self for the Lamp of God (sirāj Allāh)  hath radiated within the Niche of Eternity (mishkat al-baqā') illuminating thereby the inhabitants of the heavens and of the earth.

    سبحانكَ يَاهُوَ ياهُوَ هُو يَاهُو       

So Praised be Thou O "He"!

O Thou Who art "He" Who is "He"!

O Thou besides Whom there is none other than "He".

[17]

O oceans of the earth! (buhūr al-ard) 

Be stilled of thy tempestuous waves for the Crimson Sea (al-bahr al-ahmar) surgeth through an innovative directive (bi-amr badī`).

    سبحانكَ يَاهُوَ ياهُوَ هُو يَاهُو       

So Praised be Thou O "He"!

O Thou Who art "He" Who is "He"!

O Thou besides Whom there is none other than "He".

[18]

O Peacock of the divine Oneness! (tāwūs al-ahadiyya)! 

Shreik out within the thicket of the divine realm (ajamat al-lāhūt)  for the melody of God (naghmat Allāh) hath become evident from every divinely proximate locale.

    سبحانكَ يَاهُوَ ياهُوَ هُو يَاهُو        

So Praised be Thou O "He"!

O Thou Who art "He" Who is "He"!

O Thou besides Whom there is none other than "He".

[19]

O Bird of Perpetuity! (dīk al-ṣamadiyya)! 

Be muted in the thicket of the Omnipotent Realm (ajamat al-jabarūt)  for the Crier of God (munādī Allāh) crieth out from every unassailable locale (shatr manī`).

    سبحانكَ يَاهُوَ ياهُوَ هُو يَاهُو        

So Praised be Thou O "He"!

O Thou Who art "He" Who is "He"!

O Thou besides Whom there is none other than "He".

[20]

O Concourse of enraptured lovers!

(malā' al-ushshāq)

Good news for thy selves in that the separation (al-firāq)  is completed and the promised Testament (al-mithāq)  hath come to pass; the Loved One (al- ma`shūq) hath been manifested with a mighty, transcendent Beauty (jamāl `izz manī`).

    سبحانكَ يَاهُوَ ياهُوَ هُو يَاهُو        

So Praised be Thou O "He"!

O Thou Who art "He" Who is "He"!

O Thou besides Whom there is none other than "He".

[21]

O Concourse of Gnostic initiates! (malā' al-irfān)  

Rejoice within thine inner realities for era of Renunciation  ( al-hijrān) is terminated, certitude (al-īqān)  is realized and the Beauty of the Youth (jamāl al-ghulām)  hath beamed forth with an holy ornament (bi-taraz al-quds) in a Paradise of matchless name (firdaws ism makīn).

    سبحانكَ يَاهُوَ ياهُوَ هُو يَاهُو        

So Praised be Thou O "He"!

O Thou Who art "He" Who is "He"!

O Thou besides Whom there is none other than "He".

[22]

Praised be Thou, O my God,

I supplicate Thee by Thy [eschatological] Day (yawm) through which all [previous] Days have been raised up and in view of the fact that through it [matters rooted in] primordial (al-awwalīn) and latter day [eschatological] (al-akharīn) eras have been brought to account.

    سبحانكَ يَاهُوَ ياهُوَ هُو يَاهُو        

So Praised be Thou O "He"!

O Thou Who art "He" Who is "He"!

O Thou besides Whom there is none other than "He".

[23]

And by Thy Name which Thou didst make a Sovereign in the Omnipotent sphere of Names (jabarūt al-asmā') as well as a Judge (hākim) over whomsoever are in the heavens and on the earth[s].

    سبحانكَ يَاهُوَ ياهُوَ هُو يَاهُو       

So Praised be Thou O "He"!

O Thou Who art "He" Who is "He"!

O Thou besides Whom there is none other than "He".

By this means make Thou such persons to be independent (aghniyā') of all except Thee, associated with Thee and detached from whatsoever is other than Thee for Thou indeed art One Powerful, Mighty, Compassionate.

    سبحانكَ يَاهُوَ ياهُوَ هُو يَاهُو       

So Praised be Thou O "He"!

O Thou Who art "He" Who is "He"!

O Thou besides Whom there is none other than "He".

[24]

Do Thou make them, O my God, to be such as give assent to Thy Singleness (wahdāniyya) and who willingly concede Thy Uniqueness (firdāniyya) in such wise that they shall witness nothing but Thine Own Logos-Self and envision none but Thee.  In this respect Thou, verily, art One Powerful, Mighty.

    سبحانكَ يَاهُوَ ياهُوَ هُو يَاهُو       

So Praised be Thou O "He"!

O Thou Who art "He" Who is "He"!

O Thou besides Whom there is none other than "He".

[25]

Establish then in their hearts, O my Beloved (mahbūbī), the fiery warmth of Thy love (harārat hūbbika)  in such measure that the it may burn away the remem- brance of all save Thee. This such that they may witness within themselves that Thou hath ever been in the Sublime Apex of Eternity (`uluww al-baqā'),   that there hath never been anything alongside Thee, and that Thou art now the like of what Thou hath ever been. No god is there except Thee, the Munificent.

    سبحانكَ يَاهُوَ ياهُوَ هُو يَاهُو        

So Praised be Thou O "He"!

O Thou Who art "He" Who is "He"!

O Thou besides Whom there is none other than "He".

[26]

If such of Thy servants as desire to scale the heights of Thy Divine Unity (tawhīd) should content themselves with the mention of aught besides Thee, confirmation of their realization of the Divine Oneness (hukm al-tawhīd) would never be ratified neither would the mode of the Divine Uniqueness (simat al-tafrīd) be truly affirmed within their being.

    سبحانكَ يَاهُوَ ياهُوَ هُو يَاهُو

So Praised be Thou O "He"!

O Thou Who art "He" Who is "He"!

O Thou besides Whom there is none other than "He".

[27]

So praised be Thou, O our God! O my God!

given this situation do Thou send down from the clouds of Thy Mercy that which will purify the breasts of Thy lovers and that which will sanctify the hearts of such as are enraptured by Thee. Then exalt them through Thy loftiness and render them triumphant over such as inhabit the earth. This indeed is what Thou promised Thy beloved ones through Thine indubitable utterance, "We desire to shower Our favour (mann) upon such as are enfeebled on earth and to make them leaders [Imams] (a'imma) and to make them Our heirs (al-wārithīn)" (Qur'ān. 28:5).

 

    سبحانكَ يَاهُوَ ياهُوَ هُو يَاهُو        

So Praised be Thou O "He"!

O Thou Who art "He" Who is "He"!

O Thou besides Whom there is none other than "He".

 

Select Notes

 [0]

He is the Almighty

(huwa al-`izz)

[1]

Here it seems to be that the Lawḥ-i nāqūs  is referred to as what exists in the heavenly "Meadow " or "Garden" of Paradise (rawdat al-firdaws) in which its verses as "the melody of God" (naghmat Allāh) have been exalted or raised aloft. Transcendent feminine beings, the celestial Houris or Maidens (huriyyāt) (mentioned in the Qur'ān, countless Sufi writings and Bābī scripture) possibly symbolic of divine mysteries (?) have been permanently established or empowered (Q-R-R form X; istaqarrat). They are virginal, of great purity, for "none hath touched (massa) " them save God (see Q. 00:00); God alone is aware of the secrets they symbolize -- the emergent Cause of Bahā'-Allāh?

The Refrain : سبحانكَ يَاهُوَ ياهُوَ هُو يَاهُو

 

To be updated, corrected  and continued....

[3] Therein doth the Nightingale of Eternal Subsistence warble upon the branches of the Lote-Tree of the Extremity (sidrat al-muntahā) with such a melody as hath bedazzaled discerning souls (al-`uqūl). [4] Therein is that through which the needy (al-fuqarā') are made to approach the shore of [the ocean of spiritual] wealth and the people guided unto the Word of God (kalimat Allāh). [5] Such, indeed, is the certain Truth!

_______

In Thy Name "He" for Thou, verily, art "He"; O "He"!

[1] O Monk of the Divine Unicity (rāhib al-ahadiyya)! Strike the Bell! (al-nāqūs) for the Day of God hath been realized and the Beauty of the Divine Might (jamāl al-`izz) been enthroned upon a Throne of Luminous Holiness.

So Praised be Thou O "He"! O Thou Who art "He" Who is "He" ! O Thou besides Whom there is none other than "He".

[2] O Hūd of the Verdict (al-hukm)! Sound the Bugle (`Trumpet'; al-nāqūr) in the name of God, the Mighty, the Noble, for the Embodiment [Temple] of Sanctity (haykal al-quds) hath been established upon a Mighty, Transcendent Seat (`Footstool,' `Chair'] (kursī).