THE LAWḤ-I [MUHAMMAD `ALĪ ] SAYYĀH
("TABLET OF THE TRAVELER")
1987. First posted 2006 and now under revision
Translation with Select Notes
Stephen Lambden UC Merced
The Lawḥ-i Sayyāḥ "Tablet of the Traveler" or "Courier" is also known (for reasons that are nor clear) as the Sūrat al-widād ("The Sura the Love"). It is to be dated to the early Edirne [Adrianople] period (c.1864/5?) and is wholly in Arabic being primarily addressed to Mullā [Hajjī] Muhammad `Alī-yi Sayyāh Maḥallatī, known as Adi Guzal [Turk.(?) =`Illustrious [Good of] Name' Per. nāknām (Ganj, 79] Marāghihi (d. Cyprus August 4th 1871).
The expression wādī al-nabīl (lit. `illustrious vale' or "Vale of Nabīl") in a mystical passage towards the end of this Tablet has been interpretated by Bahā'-Allāh himself as prophetic of `Akkā (Acre in Ottoman Palestine) which became his final place of exile in 1868. This in the light of the fact that the numerical (abjad) value of the words Nabīl and the place name `Akkā (like Muhammad) both equal 92. The pasage in question is as follows:
When [in fact] We discovered them in this state We wept over them and over Our [My] isolation and Our [My] withdrawal and We withdrew from them even as the [gentle] wafting of the zephyr from a sanctified, exquisitely inhabited (?) Riḍwān until We arrived in the Vale [Wādī] of Nabīl [= abjad 92 = abjad `Akkā'] (wādī al-nabīl). Such [This] is the rivulet [spring] (al-ma`āyn) by virtue of which Salsabīl cascadeth upon this Name from which the Kingdom of Names (malakūt al-asmā') hath appeared for it was supremely sanctified from depiction in all worlds.
In a lengthy untitled Persian Tablet composed almost a decade later, in a Tablet of the (mid. 1293/1876-7) `Akkā period, Bahā'u'llāh at one point states after citing and interpreting various Bābī writings and biblical texts,
"Wherefore in the Land of Mystery (arḍ al-sirr = Edirne, Adrianople] was it [`Akkā, Palestine, Holy Land, Bahā'-Allāh] designated by the Tongue of Grandeur [in the Lawḥ-i Sayyāh) as the Vale of Nabīl (wād[ī] al-nabīl) and this is that Vale (wād[ī) in which the Call [Voice] of the prophets (nidā' jamā`-yi anbiyā') was raised up..." (Ma'ida 7:[174-255], 190)
Referring to this matter in his God Passes By, Shoghi Effendi writes,
Bahā'u'llāh himself, as attested by Nabīl in his narrative, had as far back as the first years of His banishment to Adrianople, alluded to that same city [`Akkā] in his Lawḥ-i Sayyāh, designating it as the "Vale of Nabīl,"...
"Upon Our arrival We were welcomed with banners of light, whereupon the Voice of the Spirit cried out saying: "Soon will all that dwell on earth be enlisted under these banners.'" (GPB:184).
THE LAWḤ-I SAYYĀH
("TABLET OF THE TRAVELER")
Prov. Trans. from the Arabic Haifa supplied text (Feb. 1987) and INBMC 36:53-60.
Stephen N. Lambden (Rev. May 1998) and under revision 06-06-2016.
In My Name the Splendid, the All-Glorious
Bear thou witness that I, verily, am the theophany of God (ẓuhūr Allāh) in the realm of Eternity (jabarāt al-baqā'), His Interiority (buṭūn) in the Depth of the realm of the Theophanic Cloud (ghayb al-`amā'), the Ancient [Pre-Existent] Beauty (jamāl al-qidam) in the Kingdom of Glory (malakut al-bahā') and the Pristine Purity of the Spirit (sādhij al-rūḥ) in the Most Elevated Robe (qamīṣ al-a`lā).  All were created at My Command, circumambulate about My Might and are operative through My Logos-Directive.  Before My Countenance do all prostrate and take firm hold of the hem of the garment of Our Providence even if they remain unconscious of this within themselves by virtue of this wondrous Temple (al-haykal al-badi`).
`This is the Point (al-nuqṭa) from which the Words of God were realized and the sacred, pristine scriptures (ṣaḥā'if quds tajrād) and mighty, preserved Tablets (alwāḥ `izz ḥafīẓ) made manifest'.
`[He is assuredly] the Word of God (kalimat Allāh) from which the Points were manifested and unto which they are caused to return. Then it is also by virtue of this [ Word / the Points] that [things] come to pass at an appointed time'.
`The Proof (al-burhān) was made manifest from this [Word of God = the Point(s)] in all the eras and the Words of God were completed as was His Proof (ḥujjat) unto all the worlds'.
`Should He manifest but a single letter it would assuredly be utterly novel relative to all that hath been mentioned in the created domain throughout an eternity of eternities (fī azal al-āzāl) and compared to all that hath streamed forth from the [Divine] Pen (al-qalam) within mighty, perspicuous Tablets' (alwāḥ `izz mubīn).
Say: By God!
[The revelation of such a novel letter]
is sweeter indeed than all hath been uttered about it by the tongues of holiness; about which the denizens of the Supreme Concourse (ahl malā' al-a`lā) cry out and the people of the fathomless depths of the spheres of laudation (ahl lujaj al-musabbiān) do vocalize beyond the pavilions of Infallibility (surādiq al-`iṣma).
Say: By God!
Through but a Melody resulting therefrom, the Dove [Nightingale] warbleth upon the branches and the Evidence of the All-Merciful doth gleam in a Mighty Sovereign.
Say: O Concourse of Traitors!
There hath come upon ye the Punishment [Catastrophe] of God and His Wrath (`adhāb Allāh wa qahrahu) so perish ye through the fire which God hath allowed to well up within thine own selves, then place fingers of aversion into thine ears; then return ye unto the lowest depths of hell-fire upon the abyss of Gehenna.
`It is assuredly the Thunderbolt of God (ṣā`iqat Allāh) which hath indeed appeared from the cloud of the Divine Power accompanied by a stunning Meteor such that it will inhibit satanic beings from listening in to these secrets which lay beneath the veils of Power and render them remote from attaining unto God, the Mighty, the One Praised.
Say: `By God!
In this Day there is no escape for any soul other then that they should believe in this resplendent Evidence and this sufficient, complete, wondrous, matchless Proof (al-ḥujjat) or, disbelieving in the Evidences of God (ḥujjaj Allāh) which hath been set forth aforetime, along with His signs, His Messengers and His chosen ones, [as thou wouldst realize] if thou were of the truly informed.
`In this Day God will never accept a single thing from anyone even though he become prostrate before Him for an eternity of eternities or make mention of Him with all that hath been sent down from the heaven of Might at the time of the Messengers [of the past] except he should enter within these pavilions,which hath, in truth been raised up, and which the concourse of all the worlds enter beneath its shadow.  And whomsoever should fail to enter beneath the shadow of this Countenance hath ever come out from the shadow of God, and none among all the worlds shall be exempted from this decree.
`We were [sojourning] amongst you for many a year in times past and We [even] concealed Our Countenance from all possessed of clear vision, perchance anyone amongst the peoples of the earth might discern Us; and [in this respect] God beareth evident witness and is [truly] informed.  Yet when the wayward returned [to their ways], We lifted up the veil of concealment from the Countenance of [Our] Beauty (wajh jamāl). And We disclosed it even as the midmost, noonday Sun (ka-'l-shams fā quṭb al-zawāl).  So blessed be God the Originator of the totality of creatures
The Test (al-fitnah) hath appeared through the instrumentality of God, the Powerful, the Supremely Exalted, the Mighty.  The Just Balance (al-mīzān bi'l-`adl) hath appeared and by means of it all deeds hath been weighed [as thou wouldst know] if thou wert of such as bear witness.
`O concourse of the earth!
If thou desire to hearken unto the melodies of God (naghmat Allāh) then hearken unto these wondrous, sweet Melodies (al-naghamāt al-badi` al-malā).  And if thou desire that thou might witness the Beauty of God (jamāl Allāh) then witness thou this Mighty, Luminous Beauty (al-jamāl al-`azāz al-munīr).
`By God! This Day no one is capable of hearkening unto the Call of God (nidā' Allāh) save that they should purify their ears from all that hath been heard from the people and burn wholly away all the veils and take leave of the world (al-dunyā') and whomsoever thereon is within its shade.'  Endeavour ye, then ye draw nigh unto the Lote-Tree of Might (sidrat al-`izz) and hearken unto the Call of God from the [Sinaitic] Fire which blazeth from this Elevated, Invincible Tree.
O Àlī [Sayyāh]!
`By God! The Spirit (al-ruh) hath, in very truth, returned on this Eternal (al-azalī), Everlasting (al-abadī), Timeless (al-ṣarmadī), Perpetual (al-amadī), Unique (al-aḥadī) and Pre-Existent (al-qidamī) Beauty (al-jamāl).  He summoneth thee unto God, the Exalted and unto what hath been sent down in the Bayān on the part of a Mighty, Powerful Sovereign.  And He giveth thee news of the Riḍwān of God (riḍwān Allāh) and guideth thee unto a sacred, noble shore (shāṭī quds karām).
Speed ye O people!
to the guidance of God (bi-hidayat Allāh) and [the attaining of] His [eschatological] Meeting] (liqā') and do not act towards Him as ye did the Sent Messengers of God (rusul Allāh) aforetime.
Fear ye God, O People!
and be ye not [numbered] among persons corrupt  Furthermore, O people! withhold ye not the clouds of God from [pouring forth] its Bounty, the Breeze of Godfrom its being diffused, nor His Beauty (jamāl) [being made manifest] from this Luminous Ornament (al-ṭarāz al-munīr).
Wherefore deal ye equitably, O People of the Bayān!
If ye believe not these verses then for what reason did ye believe [in the Messengers of God] aforetime, if ye are [to be numbered amongst] the righteous.  Can ye [possibly] be content with thyselves when ye have committed the like of what was committed by the people of the Criterion?  Wherefore is wearied with ye, O concourse of the heedless!  Were ye were not forgetful the moment when the Sovereign of Messengers (sulṭān al-rusul), in very Truth came unto thee with the name of Alī [Muhammad = the Bāb] and with him Luminous [snow-] Whiteness (bayḍā' munīr), a Perspicuous Book (kitāb mubin) and a Mighty Tablet (lawḥ `aẓīm).  Then did the unbelievers rise up against him with calumnies which hath no precedent among whatsoever hath been created whether betwixt the heavens or the earth.  They did unto him [the Bāb] the like of which We [I] cannot deem it fit to mention; the very hearing [ear] of such as are affirmative of the Oneness of God could not bear to hearken.  Wherefore do We inform thee of what transpired aforetime perchance the people might be discerning within themselves and not act towards his servant [= Bahā'u'llāh] to an even greater degree than they had done [previously] and might be numbered among such as have returned unto God, who have reoriented themselves towards Him, and who have their [God given] abode on the [eschatological] Day in which He shall gather together [for judgment] all the creatures.
O Glorious Horseman [Knight]!
Communicate unto the servants [Bābīs] that which have divulged unto thee in [the course of] thy journey at the moment when thou didst travel [depart] from the orient of the theophanic Cloud (mashrīq al-`amā') unto the Dawning-Place of Eternal Subsistence (maṭla` al-baqā') in the most transcendent heights; when thou wert proceeding with the Cord [Mountain] of Holiness (habl al-quds) in the atmosphere of the Spirit (hawā' al-ruh).
`We journeyed until We arrived beyond the mountain of musk in the resplendent Spot (buq`at al-sanā').  Nigh this locale [Spot] We witnessed a company of the sanctified [holy] ones all but stupefied [at a standstill] (mawqūf an) bearing [but] one of the Divine Names  They were [about to be] engaged in sanctifying God above what was evident in the worlds of Names and Attributes (`awālim al-asmā' wa'l-ṣifāt) and beyond all that the assembled, most elevated denizens of contingent realms were capable of comprehending  Then did We rise up within their field of vision and sojourned amongst them and divulged Our Glory unto them through the Ornament of God (bi-ṭarāz Allāh).  Wherefore was the Decree [Cause] (al-amr) in very truth fulfilled [realized] in the Vale of the Divine Might (wād al-`izz).  We were in that condition for a period which the Pen cannot possibly do justice inasmuch the Bounty Our Mercy outstripped all the worlds, perchance they should be oriented towards He Whom they should have been engaged in sanctifying during their days and come to a knowledge of their Creator and their Master [especially] after they had been eternally supplicating him at every moment.
So when We found them taking firm hold of the Cord of Names and negligent of the Designated Sovereign, We concealed the [Divine] Face (al-wajh) from them and We went up [away] from among [between] them and departed from them until We arrived in the Paran of Holiness (fārān al-quds) beyond the Mountain of Ruby (warā' jabal al-yāqut) in the beloved Sacred Locale [Spot] (buq`at al-quds mabub an).  There We found a people engaged in eternally serving God in both their rising up and their sitting, their bowing down and their prostration [ṣalat-type devotional activities] and We thus oriented Ourself in their direction through the manifest Beauty of Holiness (bi-jamāl al- quds), perchance they might come to understand their Pre-Existent Master, be ennobled with the Encounter [Meeting] with Him and enter into the shadow in which the Countenance was radiating forth like the Sun from the Horizon of [Divine] Might.
 Then We abandoned such as were occupied with their base passion and ascended unto secreted, sacred locales.  We journeyed in the atmosphere of proximity to God (hawā' al-qurb) until we reached the termination of the realm of Existent Reality (muntahā'al-maqām fā'l-imkān) which is a Mighty, Blessed Vale.  There did We find a company [people] (al-qawm) such as celebrate the divine oneness, [devotedly] occupied in celebrating the oneness of God in their inmost reality as well as outwardly (fi'l-sirr wa'l-jahr).  They bore witness unto the Artistry of God [Divine Alchemy] (sana` Allāh) in the horizons of the domains of being and in themselves (cf. Q. 00:00).
Such was indeed the Decree [Command] (al-amr), in very truth, evident; as if they had attained the Divine Oneness (fi'l-tawḥīd) to the utmost degree, [unto] a station above which even the wings of the possessors of acme of attain- ment [understanding] can never soar; unless that is, God thy Lord and my Lord, and the Lord of all the worlds, should so will.  It was indeed as if they had in no wise witnessed a [single] thing save that they had witnessed God enthroned and self-subsistent thereover it.  Seated are they upon thrones of contemplative testimony and mystic revelation, and [occupying] mighty, unique [heavenly] seats.  They were at that [spiritual] station until there came upon them the [episode of the] trial and the tribulation such as was decreed in the Tablets [of destiny] (al-alwāḥ) and was inscribed by the Pen of [Divine] Providence (qalam al-qaḍā') upon the Tablet of the Command (lawḥ al-amr).
Then did We breathe upon them with the breezes of the All-Merciful and wafted in their direction the fragrance of the robe [of the divine Joseph] from this Youth (rā'iḥat al-qamīṣ min hadhā al-ghulām) perchance they might experience these [scented] breezes which were sent down from the Riḍwān of God.  Yet did We find them in land of heedlessness,whereby these [breezes] were communicated [unto them] by virtue of which the fragrance which diffuses from them impels all existence things (al-mawjudāt) towards a proximate, praiseworthy court.
Thereafter did We arrive through Our own True Logos-Self [not Yahyā] amongst them manifesting a beloved, sacred, Beauty (bi-jamāl quds mabūb an)perchance through the brilliance of the Countenance they might be moved to remembrance and be guided unto He Whose Oneness they had been celebrating during their days and enter into the fathomless deep of reunion which is [nothing less than] a station (maqām), separation from which the eyes of the cherubic beings [those who are nigh unto God] became tearful.  And We dwelt in observation, for months beyond measure and years without limit yet We did not find them possessed of [even] an atoms' weight of receptivity.  Thus do We recount their deeds in this Tablet which at this moment rests upon the thigh of God.  And since Our Mercy had preceded all the worlds, We abandoned them not and We moved away from the earlier position of observation.
We oriented Ourselves so as to effect an encounter with their [searching] vision.  We were patient and dwelt in that place [Kurdistan?] for a period which was exalted above the limitation of all the worldly things  This perchance they would not withold themselves from that for which they were created and be occupied during their days and in such years as were allotted for the magnification of His Oneness.  When it transpired that We found them in a state of intoxication over the Cause and heedlessness towards Him through but a letter of Whom they were created in the worlds of Names.  When [in fact] We discovered them in this state We wept over them and over Our [My] isolation and Our [My] withdrawal [separation, exile] and We withdrew from them even as the [gentle] wafting of the Zephyr from a sanctified, exquisitely inhabited Riḍwān, until We arrived in the Vale of Nabīl [= abjad 92 = abjad `Akkā'] (wādī al-nabīl).  Such is the rivulet [spring] (al-ma`āyn) by virtue of which Salsabīl cascadeth upon this Name from which the Kingdom of Names hath appeared for it was supremely sanctified above depiction within all the worlds.
And [there] We discovered a people who welcomed Us with mighty, resplendent countenances and with sacred, unique Personages [Temples] (bi-hayākil quds-a-adiyy an).  And in their hands were banners of victory [light] (a`lām al-naṣr [nūr]).  And there was written thereon with a Ruby, Crimson Pen, `By God! These assuredly are the banners of the victory of God (a`lām naṣr Allāh) which are raised up, in the shadow of this Name, as long as God endureth.'  And these are a people who, were they to express their love for God, both inwardly and outwardly, it would be as if they witnessed no other thing and naught save this was heard by them.
And if they were to praise God in their inmost reality according to this cryptically majestic Mystery (al-sirr al-mujallal), in secret according to the concealed, cryptic cipher (bi'l-sirr `ala al-ramz al-khafā marmāz an).  Wherefore did We behold them and We safeguarded their affair with something praiseworthy according to the words of God.  It was as if their deeds and their selves became the very Logos-Self of the Cause of God (nafs amr Allāh) showing neither distinction nor separation.  And they were to make mention of God in this compete (al-atamm), greatest (al-akbar), exalted (al-Àlī), all-glorious (al-abhā') Word (kalimat) which is expressive of the station which is detached from all limitations [aspects] (al-jihāt).  Wherefore hath the Herald (al-munād) ["Voice of the Spirit"] cried out, `God shall raise up He Who will cause the people to enter into the shadow of these banners (al-a`lā m) with a sovereignty which cometh from Him and a Power which is of Him that the Bounty (al-faḍl) in this season [of separation] (al-fal) might descend from the Riḍwān of the Word (ridwān al-kalimat) upon all the worlds.  Wherefore do We cast upon thee that which We witnessed on Our journey such that thou might gain insight into this matter according to the secrets which were veiled within the pavilions of the Cause (surādiq al-amr) beyond the veils of Light (ijāb al-nur).
Say: O people! Fear ye God!
Then realize ye He Who hath come unto you aforetime in a subsequent Robe (qamīṣihi al-ukhrā )  Give ear unto His melodies through these melodies which were raised up between the worlds according to the Accent of God .  Say: By God! If ye fail to recognise Him [=Bāb?] in this Beauty (al-jamāl) thou shalt not hearken unto His [the Bāb's] verses (āyāt) in these [Bahā's] verses (āyāt) neither will there be confirmed for thee the knowledge [gnosis] of His Self (`irfān nafsihi) on the Day in which He, in very Truth, came unto thee and bestowed upon thee that which thou wast promised in the sacred, preserved Tablets (alwāh quds mafuz an).
Say O people!
This is the Youth of God (ghulām Allāh), His servant (`abd) and His attendant [assistant] (khādim), His Proof (hujjat) and His Sovereign (sultān); His Beauty (jamāl) and His Might (`izz); His Grandeur (kibriy ā') and His Demonstration (burhān); His Evidence and His Bounty (fal) upon the inhabitants of the heavens and of the earth.  Thus was, this moment, the matter from the heaven of the command (samā' al-amr) in very truth concealed in this Tablet.  So let whoever so desireth speed unto the Presence of God with both the heart and through the feet.  Then whomsoever wants to act contray to this let him return unto Wrath which cometh from the Fire of Unbelief (nār al-kufr) ignited at the command of God.  Can anyone dispute [ the truth of] these verses and claim to be faithful unto His Self?  Nay! by He in Whose hand is My Self. Never for such an one will manifest disbelief in God and in His verses, His Messengers and His chosen ones.  And should thou be humiliated for the sake of My Name, be thou patient, be not saddened, and trust in God, thy Lord Who will render thee self-sufficient above all the worlds.
And if thou see the name of God Javād [-i Karbālā'i?] then spread out thy book [Tablet] between his hands so he may recite it in his heart and with his tongue, then call Us to his remembrance with a beauteous mention [remembrance] (bi-dhikr jamāl an).  Then call also to remembrance whosoever is with him to the end that the Remembrance of God (dhikr Allāh) may be with both of them and in very truth with the foremost of people.  Then [finally] call to remembrance such are were in thy region among such as have believed in God and were upright as regards the [Divine] Love. And the Spirit, the Light and the Glory (al-ruh wa'l-nur wa'l-bahā') be upon thee and upon whomsoever is with thee be they lowly or mighty.
GPB:184 = "Upon Our arrival We were welcomed with banners of light, whereupon the Voice of the Spirit cried out saying: "Soon will all that dwell on earth be enlisted under these banners.'" (GPB:184).
GPB:371-2 (Nasru'llah Mavaddat) Rev. ed. 149/1992
Text is given from the Lawh-i Sayyāh here with omissions -- seeemboldened text at 12:9 above which IN PART -- loosely corresponds to Shoghi Effendi's English ...