TB Surat al-Wafa'/ Vafa Annotated Translation III
The Surat al-Wafa'/ Per. Súriy-i-Vafá
of Mirza Husayn `Ali Nuri, Baha'-Allah (1817-1892 CE).
The Authorized Baha'i World Centre Translation with Occasional Notes and Select Transliteration.
Stephen Lambden 26-09-2015
In this annotated reproduction of the Authorized BWC translation of the Surat al-Wafa; or Sura-yi Vafa (Tablet of Fidelity/ Tablet for Vafa), I have introduced select paragraph headings which are not eaxctly part of the original Arabic though certain of them are presupposed by the various forms of address, by persons spoken about or counselled. For the sake of clarity and commentary, occasional transliteration of the original Arabic exposing rhyme and meaning, and exegetical data has also succinctly introduced at certain points. Clarificatory and other added material is placed between square brackets . None of this added data is anything but based on my personal, fallible opinion though it attempts to be informed by modern academic research. Further details about the exegesis of the Surat al-Wafa' can be found in the adjacent URLs relating to this scriptural Tablet of Baha'-Allah. The bracketed headings are not part of the original text or of the BWC translation. The select notes and points of transliteration have also be added for the purposes of clarily and commentary.
The Surat al-Wafa'/ Per. Súriy-i-Vafá of Baha'-Allah
He is the All-Knowing
Render thanks unto thy Lord for having aided thee to embrace His Cause, enabled thee to recognize the Manifestation of His Own Self and raised thee up to magnify Him Who is the Most Great Remembrance in this glorious Announcement.
Blessed art thou O Vafá,
inasmuch as thou hast been faithful to the Covenant of God and His Testament at a time when all men have violated it and have repudiated the One in Whom they had believed, and this notwithstanding that He hath appeared invested with every testimony, and hath dawned from the horizon of Revelation clothed with undoubted sovereignty.
It behooveth thee, however, to exert thine utmost to attain the very essence of fidelity. This implieth to be well assured in thy heart and to testify with thy tongue to that whereunto God hath testified for His Own exalted Self, proclaiming: “Verily, self-subsisting am I within the Realm of Glory.” Whoso is enabled in these days to solemnly affirm this truth, hath attained unto all good, and the heavenly Spirit shall descend upon him in the daytime and in the night season, shall graciously assist him to glorify the Name of his Lord and suffer him to unloose his tongue and uphold with his words the Cause of his Lord, the Merciful, the Compassionate. And none can ever achieve this except he who hath purged his heart from whatsoever is created between heaven and earth, and hath entirely detached himself from all but God, the sovereign Lord, the Almighty, the Gracious.
Arise thou to serve the Cause and say: I swear by the righteousness of God! Verily this is the Primal Point, arrayed in His new attire and manifested in His glorious Name. He at present beholdeth everything from this Horizon. Indeed He is supreme over all things. Amongst the Concourse on High He is known as the Most Great Announcement and in the Realms of Eternity as the Ancient Beauty, and before the Throne by this Name2 which hath caused the footsteps of them that are endued with understanding to slip.
Say, I swear by God! In this Revelation even before a single verse was sent down from the realm of holiness and sublimity, the supreme testimony of God had been fulfilled for all the inmates of heaven and the dwellers on earth; moreover, We have revealed the equivalent of whatsoever was sent down in the Dispensation of the Bayán. Fear ye God and suffer not your deeds to be rendered vain and be not of them that are sunk in heedlessness. Open your eyes that ye may behold the Ancient Beauty from this shining and luminous station.
Say, God is my witness!
The Promised One Himself hath come down from heaven, seated upon the crimson cloud with the hosts of revelation on His right, and the angels of inspiration on His left, and the Decree hath been fulfilled at the behest of God, the Omnipotent, the Almighty. Thereupon the footsteps of everyone have slipped except such as God hath protected through His tender mercy and numbered with those who have recognized Him through His Own Self and detached themselves from all that pertaineth to the world.
Hearken thou unto the Words of thy Lord and purify thy heart from every illusion so that the effulgent light of the remembrance of thy Lord may shed its radiance upon it, and it may attain the station of certitude.
[The Letter of Muhammad Husayn Shirazi, Vafa]
Know thou moreover that thy letter reached Our presence and We perceived and perused its contents. We noted the questions thou hast asked and will readily answer thee. It behooveth everyone in this Day to ask God that which he desireth, and thy Lord will heed his petition with wondrous and undeniable verses.
[The Question Regarding Eschatological "Return" and "Resurrection"]
Thou hast asked regarding the subject of the return. Know thou that the end is like unto the beginning. Even as thou dost consider the beginning, similarly shouldst thou consider the end, and be of them that truly perceive. Nay, rather consider the beginning as the end itself, and so conversely, that thou mayest acquire a clear perception. Know thou moreover that every created thing is continually brought forth and returned at the bidding of thy Lord, the God of power and might.
As to the Return, as God hath purposed in His sacred and exalted Tablets wherein He hath made this theme known unto His servants; by this is meant the return of all created things in the Day of Resurrection, and this is indeed the essence of the Return as thou hast witnessed in God’s own days and thou art of them that testify to this truth.
Verily God is fully capable of causing all names to appear in one name, and all souls in one soul. Surely powerful and mighty is He. And this Return is realized at His behest in whatever form He willeth. Indeed He is the One Who doeth and ordaineth all things. Moreover, thou shouldst not perceive the fulfillment of the Return and the Resurrection save in the Word of thy Lord, the Almighty, the All-Knowing. For instance, were He to take a handful of earth and declare it to be the One Whom ye have been following in the past, it would undoubtedly be just and true, even as His real Person, and to none is given the right to question His authority. He doeth what He willeth and ordaineth whatsoever He pleaseth. Moreover, in this station take thou heed not to turn thy gaze unto limitations and allusions, but rather unto that whereby the Revelation itself hath been fulfilled and be of them that are discerning. Thus do We explain for thee in a lucid and explicit language that thou mayest comprehend that which thou didst seek from thine ancient Lord.
Consider thou the Day of Resurrection. Were God to pronounce the lowliest of creatures among the faithful to be the First One to believe in the Bayán, thou shouldst have no misgivings about it and must be of them that truly believe. In this station look not upon human limitations and names but rather upon that whereby the rank of the First One to believe is vindicated, which is faith in God, and recognition of His Being and assurance in the fulfillment of His irresistible and binding command.
[The Bab on "Return" and the Day of Revelation]
Consider thou the Revelation of the Point of the Bayán [the Bab] —exalted is His glory. He pronounced the First One3 to believe in Him to be Muḥammad, the Messenger of God. Doth it beseem a man to dispute with Him by saying that this man is from Persia, the Other from Arabia, or this one was called Ḥusayn while the Other bore the name of Muḥammad? Nay, I swear by God’s holy Being, the Exalted, the Most Great. Surely no man of intelligence and insight would ever pay attention unto limitations or names, but rather unto that with which Muḥammad was invested, which was none other than the Cause of God. Such a man of insight would likewise consider Ḥusayn and the position he occupied in the Cause of God, the Omnipotent, the Exalted, the Knowing, the Wise. And since the First One to believe in God in the Dispensation of the Bayán was invested with command similar to that with which Muḥammad, the Messenger of God, was invested, therefore the Báb pronounced him to be the latter, namely His return and resurrection. This station is sanctified from every limitation or name, and naught can be seen therein but God, the One, the Peerless, the All-Knowing.
Know thou moreover that in the Day of Revelation were He to pronounce one of the leaves to be the manifestation of all His excellent titles, unto no one is given the right to utter why or wherefore, and should one do so he would be regarded as a disbeliever in God and be numbered with such as have repudiated His Truth.
[The Followers of the Bab, the "People of the Bayan]
Beware, beware lest thou behave like unto the people of the Bayán. For indeed they erred grievously, misguided the people, ignored the Covenant of God and His Testament and joined partners with Him, the One, the Incomparable, the All-Knowing. Verily they failed to recognize the Point of the Bayán, for had they recognized Him they would not have rejected His manifestation in this luminous and resplendent Being. And since they fixed their eyes on names, therefore when He replaced His Name “the Most Exalted” by “the Most Glorious” their eyes were dimmed. They have failed to recognize Him in these days and are reckoned with those that perish. Indeed, had they known Him through His own Self or by virtue of that which He hath revealed, they would not have repudiated Him when He appeared in this glorious and incomparable Name, which God hath ordained to be the Sword of His Revelation between heaven and earth, and through which truth is separated from error, even from now until the Day when mankind shall stand before the Lord of the worlds.
Know thou moreover that in the Day of His Manifestation all things besides God shall be brought forth and placed equally, irrespective of their rank being high or low. The Day of Return is inscrutable unto all men until after the divine Revelation hath been fulfilled. He is in truth the One Who ordaineth whatsoever He willeth. When the Word of God is revealed unto all created things whoso then giveth ear and heedeth the Call is, indeed, reckoned among the most distinguished souls, though he be a carrier of ashes. And he who turneth away is accounted as the lowliest of His servants, though he be a ruler amongst men and the possessor of all the books that are in the heavens and on earth.
It behooveth thee to look with divine insight upon the things We have revealed and sent unto thee and not towards the people and that which is current amongst them. They are in this day like unto a blind man who, while moving in the sunshine, demandeth: Where is the sun? Is it shining? He would deny and dispute the truth, and would not be of them that perceive. Never shall he be able to discern the sun or to understand that which hath intervened between him and it. He would object within himself, voice protests, and would be among the rebellious. Such is the state of this people. Leave them unto themselves, saying: Unto you be that which ye desire and unto us that which we desire. Wretched indeed is the plight of the ungodly.
[The Bab on "Return"]
Know thou moreover that the former Manifestation affirmed that the return and rising of the spirits would occur on the Day of Resurrection, while in truth there is a return and resurrection for every created thing. However We do not wish to mention aught that is not set forth in the Bayán, lest perchance the people of malice raise a great outcry. O would that that which interveneth between the children of men and their Creator were dispelled that they might be enabled to behold God’s invincible sovereignty and dominion, quaff from the wellspring of His heavenly streams, be sprinkled with the outpourings of the ocean of true understanding and be purged from the defilements of the ungodly and the suspicious.
[The Worlds of God]
As to thy question concerning the worlds of God. Know thou of a truth that the worlds of God are countless in their number, and infinite in their range. None can reckon or comprehend them except God, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. Consider thy state when asleep. Verily, I say, this phenomenon is the most mysterious of the signs of God amongst men, were they to ponder it in their hearts. Behold how the thing which thou hast seen in thy dream is, after a considerable lapse of time, fully realized. Had the world in which thou didst find thyself in thy dream been identical with the world in which thou livest, it would have been necessary for the event occurring in that dream to have transpired in this world at the very moment of its occurrence. Were it so, you yourself would have borne witness unto it. This being not the case, however, it must necessarily follow that the world in which thou livest is different and apart from that which thou hast experienced in thy dream. This latter world hath neither beginning nor end. It would be true if thou wert to contend that this same world is, as decreed by the All-Glorious and Almighty God, within thy proper self and is wrapped up within thee. It would equally be true to maintain that thy spirit, having transcended the limitations of sleep and having stripped itself of all earthly attachment, hath, by the act of God, been made to traverse a realm which lieth hidden in the innermost reality of this world. Verily I say, the creation of God embraceth worlds besides this world, and creatures apart from these creatures. In each of these worlds He hath ordained things which none can search except Himself, the All-Searching, the All-Wise. Do thou meditate on that which We have revealed unto thee, that thou mayest discover the purpose of God, thy Lord, and the Lord of all worlds. In these words the mysteries of Divine Wisdom have been treasured. We have refrained from dwelling upon this theme owing to the sorrow that hath encompassed Us from the actions of them that have been created through Our words, if ye be of them that will hearken unto Our Voice.
Where is the one who can help Me and shield Me from the swords of these faithless souls? Where is the man of insight who will behold the Words of God with his own eyes and rid himself of the opinions and notions of the peoples of the earth?
Warn thou the servants of God not to reject that which they do not comprehend. Say, implore God to open to your hearts the portals of true understanding that ye may be apprised of that of which no one is apprised. Verily, He is the Giver, the Forgiving, the Compassionate.
[The Ordinances of God]
Thou hast moreover asked Me concerning the ordinances of God. Know thou of a truth that whatsoever hath been prescribed in the Book is indeed the truth, no doubt is there about it, and it is incumbent upon everyone to observe that which hath been sent down by Him Who is the Revealer, the All-Knowing. Were a man to put them away despite his being aware thereof, God would truly be clear of such a one and We too would be clear of him, inasmuch as His ordinances constitute the fruits of the divine Tree and none other than the heedless and the wayward will deviate therefrom.
[The Question of Paradise]
As to Paradise: It is a reality and there can be no doubt about it, and now in this world it is realized through love of Me and My good-pleasure. Whosoever attaineth unto it God will aid him in this world below, and after death He will enable him to gain admittance into Paradise whose vastness is as that of heaven and earth. Therein the Maids of glory and holiness will wait upon him in the daytime and in the night season, while the daystar of the unfading beauty of his Lord will at all times shed its radiance upon him and he will shine so brightly that no one shall bear to gaze at him. Such is the dispensation of Providence, yet the people are shut out by a grievous veil. Likewise apprehend thou the nature of hell-fire and be of them that truly believe. For every act performed there shall be a recompense according to the estimate of God, and unto this the very ordinances and prohibitions prescribed by the Almighty amply bear witness. For surely if deeds were not rewarded and yielded no fruit, then the Cause of God—exalted is He—would prove futile. Immeasurably high is He exalted above such blasphemies! However, unto them that are rid of all attachments a deed is, verily, its own reward. Were We to enlarge upon this theme numerous Tablets would need to be written.
I swear by the righteousness of the One true God! The Pen is unable to move by reason of that which hath befallen its Lord, and it weepeth sore, and so do I weep, and likewise weepeth the eye of Him Who is the Essence of Grandeur behind the Tabernacle of Names while seated on the Throne of His glorious Name.
Purge thou thy heart that We may cause fountains of wisdom and utterance to gush out therefrom, thus enabling thee to raise thy voice among all mankind. Unloose thy tongue and proclaim the truth for the sake of the remembrance of thy merciful Lord. Be not afraid of anyone, place thy whole trust in God, the Almighty, the All-Knowing. Say, O people, fulfill whatever ye understand of the Persian Bayán and whatever ye understand not ask this unerring Remembrance that He may set forth clearly that which God hath intended in His Book, for in truth He knoweth that which is enshrined in the Bayán by virtue of the Will of Him Who is the Omnipotent, the Powerful.
[The Exile of Baha'-Allah from Iraq]
Thou hast inquired about the warning We gave to the people at the time of Our departure from ‘Iráq to the effect that when the Sun disappeareth from sight, birds of darkness will be in motion and the standards of Samírí4 will be reared high. I swear by God! Those birds have stirred in these days and Samírí hath raised his clamor. Well is it with him who recognizeth and is numbered with men of understanding. We have also warned them against the appearance of the calf. God is My witness! All Our warnings have come to pass, as indeed, they are bound to, inasmuch as they have issued from the fingers of glory and might. Beseech thou God to protect thee from the mischief of these men and to purify thee from the insinuations of the froward. Strengthen thy loins then for the promotion of the Cause and pay no attention unto the words uttered by the people of the Bayán, for they are truly incapable of understanding and have failed to comprehend the essence of the Cause as is revealed in this august, this Most Great Announcement. Thus have We inspired thee, and infused into thy heart that which will make thee independent of the allusions of mankind.
The glory of God be upon thee and upon them that give ear unto the words thou dost utter for the love of God, thy Lord, and remain steadfast in His Cause. All praise be unto God, the Lord of the worlds.