Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti, Pope Pius IX, (r. 16 June 1846 - 7th Feb. 1878).
The Tablet of Baha'-Allah to Pope Pius IX
(written c. 1869-70)
The Tablet of Baha'-Allah to Pope Pius IX. Introduction
Stephen Lambden UC Merced.
This webpage was last updated 11-10-2017.
The roughly five page Arabic text of the scriptural Tablet of Baha'-Allah to the long-reigning (over thirty years) Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti, Pope Pius IX, (r. 16 June 1846 - 7th Feb. 1878), was written and communicated after September 1869, the time of Baha'-Allah's arrival as an exile to the Ottoman prison city of Akka' or Acre. This Pope is especially famous for convening the First Vatican Council (1869–70) which affirmed a decree of papal infallibility. This was around the time that this Tablet was communicated and around the time of the loss of the Papal States.
Some Introductory Notes
Stephen Lambden, from the Abstract of a paper on this subject delivered in 1996.
- The Tablet of Baha'u'llah to Pope Pius IX (1846-1878)
It was perhaps a year after his being exiled to the then Ottoman prison city of Akka' (Acre, Palestine) in August 1868 CE., that Baha'u'llah (d.1892) dispatched his almost twenty-page Arabic Tablet to Pope Pius IX (Pontificate, 1846-1878). The son of a Count this pope, named Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti, was born in Senigallia (Ancona, Italy) on May 13th 1792. It may not have been long after Baha'u'llah's dispatching the Tablet to the Pope that papal temporal power was virtually ended. Following the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War and the seizure and occupation of Rome by Victor Emmanuel (Sept. 1870) Pius IX came to see himself as a dethroned sovereign and a (self-imposed) prisoner within the Vatican where he died in 1878.
it was in December 1854, after consulting the cardinals and bishops, that Pius IX solemnly defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Bull Ineffabilis Deus -- he has come to be known as `The Pope of the Immaculate Conception'. Increasing the level of Catholic Marian devotion this non-Biblical dogma basically indicates that the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus, was herself born free of the alleged "stain of original sin". Among the most important events of the reign of Pius IXth was the convocation of the first Vatican Council (1869-70) at which a definition of papal primacy and infallibility was set forth. Though precise details are not known, It may well have been during the course of this 20th ecumenical council that the `Tablet to the Pope' was communicated and received by the Pope. We neither know whether he received it, who translated it for him, or what his reaction to it might have been.
While as Christ returned in "his most great majesty" (bi-majdihi al-a`zam), Baha'u'llah extended the hand of salvation to all on earth, Pius IX maintained an intransigent attitude towards all deistic, humanistic and non-Catholic religious avenues to Truth and to God. The Pope gloried in the traditional axiom extra ecclesium nulla salus ("No salvation outside the [Catholic] church"). We do not know the reaction of Pius IX to Baha'u'llah's bold claim to be the return of Christ "come down from heaven", but it cannot have been favorable in the light of his exclusivist soteriological stance and claim of infallibility.
The Tablet to Pope Pius IX is the first of the `Tablets to the Kings' appended by Baha'u'llah to the (revised) Surat al-Haykal ("Surah of the Temple", late 1869?) expressive of the `New Jerusalem' of the Baha'i religion. It may thus also be the Tablet accorded by Baha'u'llah the apocalyptic, Qur'ānic epithet `The [Destructive] Cry [of Punishment]' (al-sayhah) (Iqtidarat, 298; cf. GPB: 212). Shoghi Effendi referred to the Tablet to Pope Pius IX as a "most weighty Epistle" and contrasted the outwardly polarized earthly conditions of its imprisioned author and the powerful ecclesiastical recipient (GPB:209).
Lawh-i Pāp (Tablet to Pope Pius IX) c. 1869.
The Tablet to the Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti, Pope Pius IX (born May 13, 1792, Senigallia, Papal States; reigned 16 June 1846 - d. Vatican City, Feb 7th, 1878). Beatified September 3, 2000.
The Authorized Baha'i Translation of 2002.
BWC English translation below, which incorporates lines and paragraphs translated by Shoghi Effendi (d. 1957), the Baha'i Guardian (vali-yi amr Allah). It is that printed in the Surat al-Haykal [Súriy-i-Haykal] of Baha-Allah as translated in Summons of the Lord of Hosts (pp. 45-54). I have occasionally reparagraphed, added points of transliterations and some further expository comments (laregly as endnotes, see below). The paragraph numbering was provided by the translators and is retained for the sake of commentary.
Tablet to Pope Pius IX
Rend the veils asunder. He Who is the Lord of Lords is come overshadowed with clouds, and the decree hath been fulfilled by God, the Almighty, the Unrestrained. Dispel the mists through the power of thy Lord, and ascend unto the Kingdom of His names and attributes. Thus hath the Pen of the Most High commanded thee at the behest of thy Lord, the Almighty, the All-Compelling. He, verily, hath again come down from Heaven even as He came down from it the first time. Beware that thou dispute not with Him even as the Pharisees disputed with Him without a clear token or proof. On His right hand flow the living waters of grace, and on His left the choice Wine of justice, whilst before Him march the angels of Paradise, bearing the banners of His signs. Beware lest any name debar thee from God, the Creator of earth and heaven. Leave thou the world behind thee, and turn towards thy Lord, through Whom the whole earth hath been illumined.
103. We have adorned the Kingdom with the ornament of Our name, the All-Glorious. Thus hath it been decreed by God, the Fashioner of all things. Take heed lest thy vain imaginings withhold thee, when once the Sun of Certitude hath shone forth above the horizon of the Utterance of thy Lord, the Mighty, the Beneficent. Dwellest thou in palaces whilst He Who is the King of Revelation liveth in the most desolate of abodes? Leave them unto such as desire them, and set thy face with joy and delight towards the Kingdom.
Say: O peoples of the earth!
Destroy the abodes of negligence with the hands of power and assurance, and raise up the mansions of true knowledge within your hearts, that the All-Merciful may shed the radiance of His light upon them. Better is this for you than all whereon the sun shineth, and unto this beareth witness He Who holdeth within His grasp the ultimate decree. The Breeze of God hath been wafted over the world at the advent of the Desired One in His great glory, whereupon every stone and clod of earth hath cried out: "The Promised One is come! The Kingdom is God’s, the Mighty, the Gracious, the Forgiving."
105. Beware lest human learning debar thee from Him Who is the Supreme Object of all knowledge, or lest the world deter thee from the One Who created it and set it upon its course. Arise in the name of thy Lord, the God of Mercy, amidst the peoples of the earth, and seize thou the Cup of Life with the hands of confidence. First drink thou therefrom, and proffer it then to such as turn towards it amongst the peoples of all faiths. Thus hath the Moon of Utterance risen above the horizon of wisdom and understanding.
106. Tear asunder the veils of human learning lest they hinder thee from Him Who is My name, the Self-Subsisting. Call thou to remembrance Him Who was the Spirit, Who, when He came, the most learned of His age pronounced judgement against Him in His own country, whilst he who was only a fisherman believed in Him. Take heed, then, ye men of understanding heart! Thou, in truth, art one of the suns of the heaven of His names. Guard thyself, lest darkness spread its veils over thee, and fold thee away from His light. Ponder, then, that which hath been sent down in the Book by thy Lord, the Almighty, the All-Bountiful.
Say: Still your pens, O concourse of divines,
for lo, the shrill voice of the Pen of Glory hath been lifted up between earth and heaven. Cast away all that ye possess and take fast hold of that which We have revealed unto you with power and authority. The Hour that was concealed within the knowledge of God hath struck, whereupon all the atoms of the earth have proclaimed: "The Ancient of Days is come in His great glory! Hasten unto Him, O peoples of the earth, with humble and contrite hearts." Say: We, in truth, have given Ourself as a ransom for your own lives. Alas, when We came once again, We beheld you fleeing from Us, whereat the eye of My loving-kindness wept sore over My people. Fear God, O ye that perceive.
108. Consider those who opposed the Son, when He came unto them with sovereignty and power. How many the Pharisees who were waiting to behold Him, and were lamenting over their separation from Him! And yet, when the fragrance of His coming was wafted over them, and His beauty was unveiled, they turned aside from Him and disputed with Him. Thus do We impart unto thee that which hath been recorded in the Books and Scriptures. None save a very few, who were destitute of any power amongst men, turned towards His face. And yet today every man endowed with power and invested with sovereignty prideth himself on His Name! In like manner, consider how numerous, in these days, are the monks who, in My Name, have secluded themselves in their churches, and who, when the appointed time was fulfilled, and We unveiled Our beauty, knew Us not, though they call upon Me at eventide and at dawn. We behold them clinging to My name, yet veiled from My Self. This, verily, is a strange thing.
109. Say: Take heed lest your devotions withhold you from Him Who is the object of all devotion, or your worship debar you from Him Who is the object of all worship. Rend asunder the veils of your idle fancies! This is your Lord, the Almighty, the All-Knowing, Who hath come to quicken the world and unite all who dwell on earth. Turn unto the Dayspring of Revelation, O people, and tarry not, be it for less than the twinkling of an eye. Read ye the Evangel and yet refuse to acknowledge the All-Glorious Lord? This indeed beseemeth you not, O concourse of learned men!
110. Say: If ye deny this Revelation, by what proof have ye believed in God? Produce it then. Thus hath the summons of God been sent down by the Pen of the Most High at the bidding of your Lord, the Most Glorious, in this Tablet from whose horizon the splendour of His Light hath shone forth. How many are My servants whose deeds have become veils between them and their own selves, and who have been kept back thereby from drawing nigh unto God, He Who causeth the winds to blow.
O concourse of monks!
The fragrances of the All-Merciful have wafted over all creation. Happy the man that hath forsaken his desires, and taken fast hold of guidance. He, indeed, is of those who have attained unto the presence of God in this Day, a Day whereon commotions have seized the dwellers of the earth and filled with dismay all save those who have been exempted by God, He Who layeth low the necks of men.
112. Adorn ye your bodies whilst the raiment of God is stained with the blood of hatred at the hands of the people of denial? Issue forth from your habitations and bid the people enter the Kingdom of God, the Lord of the Day of Judgement. The Word which the Son concealed is made manifest. It hath been sent down in the form of the human temple in this day. Blessed be the Lord Who is the Father! He, verily, is come unto the nations in His most great majesty. Turn your faces towards Him, O concourse of the righteous!
O followers of all religions!
We behold you wandering distraught in the wilderness of error. Ye are the fish of this Ocean; wherefore do ye withhold yourselves from that which sustaineth you? Lo, it surgeth before your faces. Hasten unto it from every clime. This is the day whereon the Rock crieth out and shouteth, and celebrateth the praise of its Lord, the All-Possessing, the Most High, saying: "Lo! The Father is come, and that which ye were promised in the Kingdom is fulfilled!" This is the Word which was preserved behind the veils of grandeur, and which, when the Promise came to pass, shed its radiance from the horizon of the Divine Will with clear tokens.
114. My body hath borne imprisonment that your souls may be released from bondage, and We have consented to be abased that ye may be exalted. Follow the Lord of glory and dominion, and not every ungodly oppressor. My body longeth for the cross, and Mine head awaiteth the thrust of the spear, in the path of the All-Merciful, that the world may be purged from its transgressions. Thus hath the Daystar of divine authority shone forth from the horizon of the Revelation of Him Who is the Possessor of all names and attributes.
115. The people of the Qur’án have risen against Us, and tormented Us with such a torment that the Holy Spirit lamented, and the thunder roared out, and the clouds wept over Us. Among the faithless is he who hath imagined that calamities can deter Bahá from fulfilling that which God, the Creator of all things, hath purposed. Say: Nay, by Him Who causeth the rain to fall! Nothing whatsoever can withhold Him from the remembrance of His Lord.
116. By the righteousness of God! Should they cast Him into a fire kindled on the continent, He will assuredly rear His head in the midmost heart of the ocean and proclaim: "He is the Lord of all that are in heaven and all that are on earth!" And if they cast Him into a darksome pit, they will find Him seated on earth’s loftiest heights calling aloud to all mankind: "Lo, the Desire of the World is come in His majesty, His sovereignty, His transcendent dominion!" And if He be buried beneath the depths of the earth, His Spirit soaring to the apex of heaven shall peal the summons: "Behold ye the coming of the Glory; witness ye the Kingdom of God, the Most Holy, the Gracious, the All-Powerful!" And if they shed His blood, every drop thereof shall cry out and invoke God in this Name through which the fragrance of His raiment hath been diffused in all directions.
117. Though threatened by the swords of Our enemies, We summon all mankind unto God, the Fashioner of earth and heaven, and We render Him such aid as can be hindered by neither the hosts of tyranny nor the ascendancy of the people of iniquity. Say: O peoples of the earth! Scatter the idols of your vain imaginings in the name of your Lord, the All-Glorious, the All-Knowing, and turn ye unto Him in this Day which God hath made the King of days.
O Supreme Pontiff!
Incline thine ear unto that which the Fashioner of mouldering bones counselleth thee, as voiced by Him Who is His Most Great Name. Sell all the embellished ornaments thou dost possess, and expend them in the path of God, Who causeth the night to return upon the day, and the day to return upon the night. Abandon thy kingdom unto the kings, and emerge from thy habitation, with thy face set towards the Kingdom, and, detached from the world, then speak forth the praises of thy Lord betwixt earth and heaven. Thus hath bidden thee He Who is the Possessor of Names, on the part of thy Lord, the Almighty, the All-Knowing. Exhort thou the kings and say: "Deal equitably with men. Beware lest ye transgress the bounds fixed in the Book." This indeed becometh thee. Beware lest thou appropriate unto thyself the things of the world and the riches thereof. Leave them unto such as desire them, and cleave unto that which hath been enjoined upon thee by Him Who is the Lord of creation. Should anyone offer thee all the treasures of the earth, refuse to even glance upon them. Be as thy Lord hath been. Thus hath the Tongue of Revelation spoken that which God hath made the ornament of the book of creation.
119. Consider a pearl which shineth by virtue of its inherent nature. If it be covered with silk, its lustre and beauty will be concealed. Likewise, man’s distinction lieth in the excellence of his conduct and in the pursuit of that which beseemeth his station, not in childish play and pastimes. Know that thy true adornment consisteth in the love of God and in thy detachment from all save Him, and not in the luxuries thou dost possess. Abandon them unto those who seek after them and turn unto God, He Who causeth the rivers to flow.
120. Whatever proceeded from the tongue of the Son was revealed in parables, whilst He Who proclaimeth the Truth in this Day speaketh without them. Take heed lest thou cling to the cord of idle fancy and withhold thyself from that which hath been ordained in the Kingdom of God, the Almighty, the All-Bountiful. Should the inebriation of the wine of My verses seize thee, and thou determinest to present thyself before the throne of thy Lord, the Creator of earth and heaven, make My love thy vesture, and thy shield remembrance of Me, and thy provision reliance upon God, the Revealer of all power.
O followers of the Son!
We have once again sent John unto you, and He, verily, hath cried out in the wilderness of the Bayán: O peoples of the world! Cleanse your eyes! The Day whereon ye can behold the Promised One and attain unto Him hath drawn nigh! O followers of the Gospel! Prepare the way! The Day of the advent of the Glorious Lord is at hand! Make ready to enter the Kingdom. Thus hath it been ordained by God, He Who causeth the dawn to break.
122. Give ear unto that which the Dove of Eternity warbleth upon the twigs of the Divine Lote-Tree: O peoples of the earth! We sent forth him who was named John to baptize you with water, that your bodies might be cleansed for the appearance of the Messiah. He, in turn, purified you with the fire of love and the water of the spirit in anticipation of these Days whereon the All-Merciful hath purposed to cleanse you with the water of life at the hands of His loving providence. This is the Father foretold by Isaiah, and the Comforter concerning Whom the Spirit had covenanted with you. Open your eyes, O concourse of bishops, that ye may behold your Lord seated upon the Throne of might and glory.
Say: O peoples of all faiths!
Walk not in the ways of them that followed the Pharisees and thus veiled themselves from the Spirit. They truly have strayed and are in error. The Ancient Beauty is come in His Most Great Name, and He wisheth to admit all mankind into His most holy Kingdom. The pure in heart behold the Kingdom of God manifest before His Face. Make haste thereunto and follow not the infidel and the ungodly. Should your eye be opposed thereto, pluck it out [2 = cf. Matthew 5:29; Mark 9:47]. Thus hath it been decreed by the Pen of the Ancient of Days, as bidden by Him Who is the Lord of the entire creation. He, verily, hath come again that ye might be redeemed, O peoples of the earth. Will ye slay Him Who desireth to grant you eternal life? Fear God, O ye who are endued with insight.
Hearken unto that which hath been revealed by your All-Glorious Lord, and turn your faces unto God, the Lord of this world and of the world to come. Thus doth He Who is the Dawning-Place of the Daystar of divine inspiration command you as bidden by the Fashioner of all mankind. We, verily, have created you for the light, and desire not to abandon you unto the fire. Come forth, O people, from darkness by the grace of this Sun which hath shone forth above the horizon of divine providence, and turn thereunto with sanctified hearts and assured souls, with seeing eyes and beaming faces. Thus counselleth you the Supreme Ordainer from the scene of His transcendent glory, that perchance His summons may draw you nigh unto the Kingdom of His names.
125. Blessed the one who hath remained faithful to the Covenant of God, and woe betide him who hath broken it and disbelieved in Him, the Knower of secrets.
Say: This is the Day of Bounty!
Bestir yourselves that I may make you monarchs in the realms of My Kingdom. If ye follow Me, ye shall behold that which ye were promised, and I will make you My companions in the dominion of My majesty and the intimates of My beauty in the heaven of My power forevermore. If ye rebel against Me, I will in My clemency endure it patiently, that haply ye may awaken and rise up from the couch of heedlessness. Thus hath My mercy encompassed you. Fear ye God and follow not in the ways of those who have turned away from His face, though they invoke His name in the daytime and in the night season.
126. Verily, the day of ingathering is come, and all things have been separated from each other. He hath stored away that which He chose in the vessels of justice, and cast into fire that which befitteth it. Thus hath it been decreed by your Lord, the Mighty, the Loving, in this promised Day. He, verily, ordaineth what He pleaseth. There is none other God save He, the Almighty, the All-Compelling. The desire of the Divine Sifter hath been to store up every good thing for Mine own Self. Naught hath He spoken save to acquaint you with My Cause and to guide you to the path of Him whose mention hath adorned all the sacred Books.
Say: O concourse of Christians!
We have, on a previous occasion, revealed Ourself unto you, and ye recognized Me not. This is yet another occasion vouchsafed unto you. This is the Day of God; turn ye unto Him. He, verily, hath come down from heaven even as He came down the first time, and He desireth to shelter you beneath the shade of His mercy. He, verily, is the Exalted, the Mighty, the Supreme Helper. The Beloved One loveth not that ye be consumed with the fire of your desires. Were ye to be shut out as by a veil from Him, this would be for no other reason than your own waywardness and ignorance. Ye make mention of Me, and know Me not. Ye call upon Me, and are heedless of My Revelation, notwithstanding that I came unto you from the heaven of pre-existence with surpassing glory. Rend the veils asunder in My name and through the power of My sovereignty that ye may discover a path unto your Lord.
128. The King of Glory proclaimeth from the tabernacle of majesty and grandeur His call, saying:
O people of the Gospel!
They who were not in the Kingdom have now entered it, whilst We behold you, in this day, tarrying at the gate. Rend the veils asunder by the power of your Lord, the Almighty, the All-Bounteous, and enter, then, in My name My Kingdom. Thus biddeth you He Who desireth for you everlasting life. He, verily, is potent over all things. Blessed are those who have recognized the Light and hastened unto it. They, verily, dwell in the Kingdom, and partake of the food and drink of God’s chosen ones.
129. We behold you, O children of the Kingdom, in darkness. This, verily, beseemeth you not. Are ye, in the face of the Light, fearful because of your deeds? Direct yourselves towards Him. Your All-Glorious Lord hath blessed His lands with His footsteps. Thus do We make plain unto you the path of Him Whom the Spirit prophesied. I, verily, bear witness unto Him, even as He hath borne witness unto Me. Verily, He said: "Come ye after Me, and I will make you to become fishers of men." In this day, however, We say: "Come ye after Me, that We may make you to become quickeners of mankind." Thus hath the decree been inscribed in this Tablet by the Pen of Revelation.
O Pen of the Most High!
Bestir Thyself in remembrance of other kings in this blessed and luminous Book, that perchance they may rise from the couch of heedlessness and give ear unto that which the Nightingale singeth upon the branches of the Divine Lote-Tree, and hasten towards God in this most wondrous and sublime Revelation.