The Tablet of the Manifestation of God
The Divine Theophany (zuhur).
The opening of the Lawh-i zuhur as printed in La`ali al-hikma volume 1: 56
THE TABLET OF MANIFESTATION OF GOD [THE DIVINE THEOPHANY].
Trans. Stephen Lambden 2006 - 2015 + 2022.
Last uploaded 10-12-2022
This Beta Translation completed before 01-06-2015 remains under revision and correction.
The Arabic text translated below is that printed in Ishrāq Khavarī (comp. and ed.), Mā'ida-yi asmani vol. 4 : 161-4 (there are a few errors and alternative readings here) and in the perhaps later recension of the text found in the 143 BE/1986 CE., La'ali al-hikma vol. 1 pages 56-61 (minor errors are also present here).
- PDf. (1) Mā'idah-yi asmani vol. 4 : 161-4 Lawh-i zuhur.pdf
- PDf. (2) La'ali al-hikma vol. 1: 56-61. Lawh-i_zuhur.pdf
An early western translation (made by ?) referring to this scriptural Tablet as the "Tablet of Manifestation", appeared in the volume edited by Horace H. Holley (d. 1960) entitled Bahā'ī Scriptures (2nd ed. New York: Bahá'í Publishing Committee 1923) pp. 204-208. Nos. 373-391.
The Lawh-i Zuhur, Tablet of Manifestation/ the Theophany of Baha'-Allah.
بسم الله الاقدس الاعلم المقتدر القدير
In the Name of God,
the Most Holy, the Supremely Knowing, the Mighty, the All-Powerful.
O thou who gazeth
in the direction of the Godhead (ila shatr Allah)
and art one submerged in the Ocean of His Nearness (qurb) and of His Good Pleasure (rida').  So know thou! that the Manifestation of God (al-ẓūhur) is not compounded of the four [Empedoclean] elements (`anāṣir al-arba`a).  Nay, rather, He is the Mystery of the Divine Oneness (sirr al-aḥadiyya), the Pre-existent Being (kaynunat al-qidamiyya), the All-Enduring Essence (al-jawhar al-samadiyya) and the Hidden Ipseity [Self-Identity of the Godhead] (al-huwiyya al-ghaybiyya).  He can in no wise be known apart from His Own Self.  It is not possible for anyone to establish that He was made manifest from the four elements (`anāṣir) or indeed from such elements (ustuqus[s]āt = στοιχεῖον Gk. stoicheion = Latin elementum) as are mentioned by the tongue of the practitioners of [Graeco-Islamic] philosophy (ahl al-ḥikmat) or, additionally, from any of the four constituent natures (al-taba'i`).  Indeed! All such as this was created as a result of His Logos-Command (amr) and through His Divine Will (mashiyya).  For all eternity hath He been alone without a single thing proximate to Him. Like unto the time, that is, when the [Be! and] "it is" was, in very truth, realized (yakūn bi'l-ḥaqq) [cf. Q. 2:117].  And when He established Himself upon the Heavenly Throne (al-`arsh) the revealed verses (al-ayat) were sent down unto thee in view of the fact that there was found in thy heart the fire of His love.
 Could there be in the worldly dominion (al-mulk) anyone possessed of the power of exposition (bayan) who might, in any way, befittingly compete with Him?  Or, indeed, any Revealer of verses (manzil) who might rise up alongside Him representing His Cause? (fī amrihi)  Or, could there indeed be any existing person who might summon all-existence (al-wujud) unto his own self (li-nafsihi)?  Nay indeed! By thy Lord the All-Merciful! Before Him all are but poor and needy.  Were He to become known through any besides His Own Logos-Self, the transcendence of His Essence would never be established as beyond similitude neither would the sanctity of His Being be found to be beyond likeness, nor His Singleness be reckoned beyond mundane appearances.
 This is an Ocean (al-bahr) which it is not fitting that anyone should fixate upon since all that you witness, whether in the heavens or on the earth, was assuredly created by His Utterance (qawl).  So by My Logos-Soul (nafsī), the Ultimately Real (al-ḥaqq)!  Were His servants to become aware of His Logos-Self (nafs) according to what He actually is, they would assuredly one and all disassociate Him from everything and would find repose within His Sanctuary (fi jawari-hi).  Wherefrore, in this respect, would thou even find kings (al-muluk) glorying in the dominion of their own selves (bi'l-mamlukiyya anfusihim) although their personalistic rulership and sovereignty (salatin) summoneth their very diadems [crowns] (tijan) from behind them bidding them to hasten in His direction and walk the pathways of His Good-Pleasure (rida').  But since this circumstance was veiled from them they oriented themselves towards other than Him and soared aloft on the dual wings of selfhood (al-nafs) in the atmosphere of their limited conjectures and idle fancies.
 So bear ye witness in thy very essence and within thine own selves and likewise with thy tongues that, `He, no God is there except Him'.  No one shall ever known Him aside from He Himself.  No one should ever imagine that they could approach Him!  He hath never been a Manifestation (mazhar an) relative to His Own [Ultimate] Self (fi nafsihi)!  Nay rather, He hath ever been a Manifestation (mazhar an) by virtue of [the domain of] His existent Beingness (kaynuniyyatihi)!  This is indeed that which We have mentioned unto thee regarding the mystery of Divinity (sirr al-ilahiyya), the very Beingness [Nature] of His Lordship (kaynuniyyat al-rabbaniyya) and the Essentiality of His All-Enduringness (dhatiyya al- samadaniyya).
 Now as for the question of "bodies" (ajsad = pl. jasad). They are but Thrones (a`rash) for this Manifestation of God [Theophany] (al-zuhur) through which nobody can transmit illumination save His Own Logos-Self (nafs).  Such are these "bodies" (ajsad = pl. jasad) that they might appear in the world of originated Being [Creation] (`alam al-ibda`a) within [specified human] Temples (hayakil), that thou [and others] might behold them!  Yet, if thou should gaze upon them [their bodily persona] with the insightful eye of Reality (bi-basar al-haqiqat) and instinctual foresight (al-fitra),  thou would indeed witness whether or not they have been created from the [known Empedoclean] elements (al-`anasir).  It would then be readily apparent, that they are sanctified therefrom, since there is nothing substantiating any duality which might contradict their being expressions of incomparability (mushabahat in).
So gaze thou then upon the diamond (al-almas)!
And consider in what manner it might be related to mundane matter [stones] (al-ahjar)!  This same directive was previously sent down in the Bayan [of the Bab] on the part of thy Lord, One Mighty, the Powerful, the Omnipotent.  Were it nor for the Temples (al-hayakil) [of the Manifestations of God] the temples [bodies] of the [human] servants [of God] (hayakil al-`ibad) would not have been created!  If thou shouldst sharpen thine inner sight (al-basar), thou would indeed readily percieve that all, be they in the heavens or upon the earth, were created on account of the appearence of their [Divine] Temples (zahir hayakilihim).
 Every world among the worlds of thy Lord, hath been established for the sake of the theophany of the Manifestations of God (zuhur mazahir Allah), the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting.  In every world (`ālam), He [the Manifestation of God] is manifested according to the capacity (bi- isti`dād) of that world.  In the world of spirits (`ālam al-arwāḥ), for example, He reveals Himself (yatajalla) and is manifested (yazharu) unto them through the modes of the Spirit (āthār al-rūḥ).  So, likewise, in the [world of] bodies (ajsād), in the worlds of [the Divine] Names and Attributes (`awālim al-asmā wa'l-ṣifāt) and in other worlds (al-`awālim) which none comprehendeth save God.  They all derive their appropriate measure (nasib) by virtue of this [Divine] Theophany (Manifestation, ẓuhūr).  Wherefore doth He appear unto them in an appropriate Image (sūrat) in order that He might guide them unto God, His Lord, draw them nigh unto the Abode of His Cause (maqarr amrihi), and instruct them according to that which hath been ordained as appropriate for them.  Despie this He instructs in such manner that He will never be known as He is in His Ultimate Reality (haqiqat).  Wherefore, furthermore, do all remain unaware of even what might be correlated with His Reality; save, that is, according to a certain preordained measure (qadr in maqdur in ).
So ponder ye then upon thine inner reality!
 If it were not for this inner reality the functionality of the outer senses (hukm al-hawass) and their foundational aspects (arkan) would be decimated!  This since, in its absence, the eyesight would be rendered inoperative, the hearing be silenced and the tongue be inarticulate.  Were it not for this essential reality, even the hands would prove unable to grasp and the human form be rendered utterly motionless.  It is yet the case that this inner reality remains the sovereign reality (sultan) and the maintainer (al-hakim) of everything for God Himself enables the functioning of what is other than it by means thereof.  In view of this inner reality [empowered by Him] the eye is able to see, the ear to hear and the tongue facilitate communication through speech.  Indeed! Were thou to consider this thou would readily realize that all this results from His Grandeur for even His mode of operating is not compromized by these engagements (al-tawajjuhat) or condecensions (al-tanazzulat).
Then ponder ye then upon the goldsmith (sa'igh)!
 He might fashion a ring (khatam an) and, although He is its maker, He can ornament His finger therewith.  And He, exalted be He, should He be made manifest with the apparel of one created (bi-libas al-khalq) this is an expression of His Bounty (fadl) so that His servants might not flee away from Him but rather be moved to draw nigh unto Him and seek repose nigh His Countenance (wajh);  that they might hearken unto His wondrous melodies and be enraptured by what proceeds from His mouth, by that which is revealed from the heaven of His Divine Will (sama' al-mashiyyat).  In this there is indeed a wisdom (la-hikmat in)!  Should thou ponder upon this matter with the everlasting permanence of God, thou would, at every moment, discover things about which thou had previously been unaware.  Indeed! Should He be made manifest according to His Own modality (sha`n) and His own Form-Image (surat) or relative to whatsoever is about Him (wa ma huwa `alayhi), it would prove completely impossible for anyone to draw nigh unto Him or be on intimate terms with Him.
Then ponder ye further, for example, upon the [ordinary forms of the ultimately Divine] Seat (al-sarir), the Throne (al-`arsh) or the Pedestal (al-kursi) and their like.  Anyone can fashion such forms through their creative ability and by virtue of the confirmations which descended upon them from the heaven of His Grace and the Cloud of His Bounty.  Yet He is the One Who settles Himself upon such realities!  Prior to His enthronement thereon none are aware of their significance for they are simply considered things fashioned through the industry of human hands.  Subsequently, and after He has established Himself thereon, every [limited] association is rescinded for such [the Manifestation of God] is the very Throne of the All-Merciful (`arsh al-rahman) about which the realities of all things (haqa'iq kulli shay in) do circumambulate be they in the heavens or upon the earth!
 Wherefore are the deep senses (`irfan) of these matters interdicted from the considerations of investigators and the insights of those possessed of interior perception.  Yet whomsoever is truly possessed of illumined, luminous insight (bi-basirat al-munira al-nuraniyya) would testify to the fact that this Divine Throne was created before the creation of the heavens and of the earth.  Eternally was it ever a Divine Throne (al-`arsh) and everlastingly it has always had the likeness of what it hath ever been.  There hath never been any [limiting] relationship between it and whatsoever is other than it; neither any connection (rabt) nor any semblance (jihat) or alllusive relationship (ishara).  In reality all things (kullu al-ashya') do testify, with the tongue of their inmost reality, to the fact that they [the Manifestations of God] are indeed the Thrones of the All-Merciful [Godhead] (a`rash al-rahman).  For them [the Divine Throne = the Manifestation of God] there hath never been any semblance (shubbiha) in the created Realm (al-ibda`a) nor anything comparable in the realm of origination.
 From their [supernatural] "elements" [of the Manifestation of God] (`anāṣir) the [worldly/four Empedoclean] elements (al-`anāṣir) hath appeared [see above I:2f].  This since, as thou shalt observe, it is from their "Fire" (nar) that [this worldly] fire (al-nar) is found in the realms of existence (al-akwan).  Thus was [the Divine Call] articulated [through "Fire"] within the Blessed Branch of the Divine Unicity (ghusn al- mubaraka al-ahadiyya) on the Elevated Mount Sinai (fi sina' al-rafi`) before Moses, the One Who conversed with God [`the Speaker'] (al-kalim)!  It is on account of their "water" that thou can find immortality (baqi an) and immortal life (hayy an) for every soul (kull nafs).  So perceive ye likewise this matter in the other respects and be in a state of manifest certitude (yaqin mubin).  The foregoing is but an intimation of the signficance of that over which He is enthroned!  So how much greater must be the station of His Temple [Persona] (haykal) and that which is upstanding (qa'im an) beyond it!  Wherefore have We cast upon thee an Utterance of the True One (qawl al-haqq) to the end that thou ponder thereon and attain unto that which was destined for thee by God, thy Lord and the Lord of all the worlds.
 All that We have cast upon thee and which We have mentioned for thee in this scriptural Tablet (lawh) is in accordance with the discourse of the people of origination (bi-lisan ahl al-insha').  Otherwise, and `I swear By He in the grasp of Whose Power are all things!', it is the case that with Us are deep explanations of such matters which it is not fitting for Us to divulge during these days  in which people are in a state of contention for they cast aside the Lord of Lords (rabb al-arbab) behind their backs while they occupy themselves with idolatrous, base passion such that they become attached thereto and are to be numbered among the preoccupied.
Blessed then be thou!
in that God hath intended that thou travel in the pathway of His good-pleasure (rida') until thou attain unto His Resplendent, Incomparable Presence (tilqa' wajhihi al-mushriq al-muni`a).  From all eternity His theophany [manifestation] (zuhur) hath ever been related to His creation, through His creation (zuhuruhu li-khalqihi bi-khalqihi), just as He, in very truth, hath been gloriously manifested unto thee (tajalla `alayka) and hath thereby delivered thee from the adversities of the witterings (ghamarat isharat) of such as have disbelieved in God, waged war against His Self, and at every moment appropriated for themselves lords aside from God.  Such persons hath ever been reckoned to be persons of carnal desire and deception (ahl al-baghy wa al-dalal) in a Mighty and Manifest Book.
 Yet, despite this, should thou be submerged in an Ocean of Power and Might (bahr al-qudrat wa'l-iqtidar), thou would find certitude in the knowledge that He is capable of producing a created phenomenon (masnu`an ) from any of His created phenomina (min masnu`atihi) and empowering it with such creative potency (sani`) that whatsoever might be desired could be realized.  No God is there except Him, the All-Powerful, the Mighty.  Every expression of Power (al-qudrat) would thereby be realized as thou would indeed realize if thou were among such as reflect.  So too every expression of Divine Grace (al-fadl) as thou would realize if thou were to be numbered among such as truly bear witness.
 I indeed beseech God, thy Lord, that He would disclose His Cause (amr) among ther nations (bilad) and uplift the servants of God (al-`ibad) to a station (maqam an) in which He might mention unto them of whatsoever He desireth without concleament or veiling!  Then might he instruct them in the wonders of His knowledge and provide them with the fruits of the Lote-Tree (sidrat) of His Bounty (fadl) and of His Excellence (ihsan).  This perchance all may attain independence through His Independence and might be empowered through His Power (qudrat), the Inaccessible (al-mumtani`), the Abstacted (al-mani`).
 I swear by He Who bestoweth movement on everything through His Command [Cause] (al-amr)!  Had I discovered the people just as We created them, I would open wide one of the gates of Mercy (al-rahmat) and of Inner Reality (al-ma`ani)  to the end that all might assuredly witness the mysteries (al-asrar) with their own vision (absar)  and be enabled to subdugate all the regions (al-bilad) through the [power of the] Names of thy Lord!  But thou art one who observeth the world of the creatures and heareth that which emerges from their mouths.  On this account have We witheld the Divine Bounty (al-fadl), save, that is, to a limited degree even as thou dost witness, a mere token expressive of what He enables to sprinkle forth (tarashshuhat).  Of this [limitation] thy Lord is indeed witness and One well-aware.
 Indeed! Had We manifested Our Own Logos-Self (nafs) beyond the degree to which we did, the "dogs and the pigs" (al-kilab wa'l-khanazir) would come and surround us!  Thus doth warble the Bird of the Heavenly Throne (dik al-`arsh) for the Dove (al-warqa') hath ever sung out of divine love (hubb an).  Then beware lest ye be numbered among such as ascribe partners to God!  And praised be unto God, the Lord of all the worlds.