Lawḥ-i Aḥmad-i `Arabī , ("The [Arabic] Tablet of Aḥmad")
Stephen N. Lambden c. 1982 - being updated, 2016
For Mīrzā Aḥmad Yazdī (b. Yazd c. 1220/1805 -- d. Tehran [or Qazvīn?], c. 1320/1902), date of writing, c. 1282 / 1865-6.
Arabic text in
- (1) INBMC 36:41-2;
- (2) Risāla-yi tasbīḥ va taḥlīl, 215-218;
- (3) Ganj-i shayigan, 74-5.
* English trans. Shoghi Effendi
An early translation is found in the 1927 Prayers and Meditations, Bahā’-Allāh, `Abdu'l-Bahā, (Compiled at the request of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahā'īs of the United States and Canada), New York City: Bahā'ī Publishing Committee, 1929, 60f; also Prayers and Meditations, Bāb, Bahā’-Allāh, `Abdu'l-Bahā (Reviewed by National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahā'īs of the United States and Canada), New York City: Bahā'ī Publishing Committee, 1931, p.24f = the revised, now standard translation printed in many compilations entitled Bahā'ī Prayers.. (see Collins 4.23ff) for example, Bahā'ī Prayers . (Wilmette, Illinois: Bahā'ī Publishing Committee), 1949 67-70; Bahā'ī Prayers, A Selection., (London: BPT., 1975, 47-50).
During the early Edirne (= Adrianople) period of Bahā’-Allāh's ministry two of his major Tablets were addressed to one-time Bābīs named Aḥmad. The first and best known of these Tablets is the Arabic Tablet of Aḥmad (Lawḥ-i Aḥmad-i `Arabī). It was addressed to the centenarian Mīrzā Aḥmad-i Yazdī (b. Yazd c. 1220/1805 -- d. Tehran [or Qazvīn?], c. 1320/1902). He was a nephew of Mīrzā `Abd al-Riḍā’ Khān Yazdī, the son of Taqī Khān Yazdī who had worked in the service of a son of Fatḥ `Alī Shāh (Muḥaḍārāt, 653 cf. ZH VI:790). After travelling to India (Bombay; around 1242/1826?) as a dervish on a mystical and messianic quest, Mīrzā Aḥmad subsequently settled in Kāshān, Baghdad and other Iranian localities where he pursued his craft of hand-weaver.
Aḥmad became a Bābī in the early years of the Bāb's ministry (c.1262/1846?) through contact, among others, with Mīrzā `Abd al-Khāliq Yazdī and Mullā Ṣādiq-i-Muqaddas Khurasānī (Māzandarānī, ZH VI:790). In 1264/1847 he met the Bāb in Kāshān. Later in Baghdād, around 1274/1857-8, he entered the presence of Bahā’-Allāh; subsequently also, it seems, in Istanbul and Edirne. In another Tablet Bahā’-Allāh has confirmed that Aḥmad had "gazed upon his hidden beauty" (RB 2:113). It was in Edirne (the "remote prison") in c. 1282/1865-6, before Bahā’-Allāh had broken with Mīrzā Yaḥyā (March 1866 CE) and publicly declared his mission, that the Tablet of Aḥmad was revealed, Aḥmad apparently received it in when in Istanbul [Constantinople], in the course of a cancelled journey to Edirne (RB 2:113).
Through the widespread dissemination of this well-known Tablet in many Iranian localities (from Khurāsān to Ādhirbayjān) Aḥmad was among the first to boldly communicate that Bahā’-Allāh was "Him Whom God will make manifest" (man yuzhiru-hu Allāh). Many Bābīs responded by becoming Bahā'īs; including, for example, the Apostle of Bahā’-Allāh, Mīrzā Maḥmūd-i-Furūghī (Faizi, 15f). Mystically inclined, he travelled widely as a Bābī and Bahā'ī teacher.
Within the Tablet of Aḥmad the truth of the claims of the Bāb, the "King of the Messengers" (sulṭān al-rusul), is affirmed. Faithfulness to the Bābī revelation ( the Bayān) is enjoined for such is recorded in the archetypal umm al-kitāb, the "Mother Book" (cf. Q.3:7;13:39;43:4). Bahā’-Allāh seems to refer to himself as the "Nightingale of Paradise" (warqat al-firdaws.. warqā' lit. "pigeon"), "Most Great Beauty" (manẓar al-akbar lit. "Greatest Vista") and "Tree of Life" (shajarat al-rūḥ, lit. "Tree of the Spirit").
Often chanted in times of stress or danger, the Tablet of Aḥmad "has been invested by Bahā’-Allāh with a special potency and significance" (Bahā'ī Prayers, 47/87). Its sincere reader is promised that through its recitation "God will solve his difficulties and remove his afflictions" (ibid 50). "God", furthermore, "hath ordained for the one who chants it, the reward of a hundred martyrs and a service in both worlds" (ibid 49). In the postscript (untranslated) at the end of the Tablet, Bahā’-Allāh addresses the Bābīs of Baghdad, the "City of God" (madīnat Allāh) mentioning that God will raise them up on the "Day of Resurrection" (INBMC 36:42), by which is presumably meant the time of the open declaration of Bahā’-Allāh's mission (mid-late 1860s).
There are a few letters of Shoghi Effendi expository of phrases in the Tablet of Aḥmad (e.g. Dawn of a New Day, 200). In a letter to the Bahā'īs of Kenosha (USA), Shoghi Effendi's opinion is expressed as follows, "The Tablet of Aḥmad was revealed by Baha’u'llāh to be read when one feels himself in exceptionally difficult circumstances. There is nothing obligatory about its use, and every person has to decide for himself whether he desires to learn it by heart or not.." (cited, Lights of Guidance 2 No. 1608. p.483).
The English translation of the Arabic Tablet of Aḥmad can be found in many Bahā'ī payer books and devotional compilations. It is probably more frequently read and memorized by modern Bahā'īs internationally, than most other medium-length devotional Tablets. Late in life a son of Aḥmad named Jamāl entrusted the Arabic autograph (manuscript in the handwriting of Bahā’-Allāh) of the Tablet of Aḥmad to the Hand of the Cause and Trustee of the Ḥuquq-Allāh, Valīu'llāh Varqā. He in turn, at the direction of Shoghi Effendi, presented it to the American Bahā'īs on the occasion of the 1953 Jubilee dedication ceremony of the Wilmette, Illinois Bahā'ī Temple. It is today kept in the archives of the Bahā'īs of the United States (Faizi, 20, cf. Whitmore, Dawning Place, 229f).
Bibliography, Arabic Tablet of Aḥmad
- Kitāb-i-ẓuhūru'l-Haqq VI:790-1. Ms.
Ishrāq Khavārī (ed.),
- Muhadarāt (Tehran: BPT., 1973/130),
- `Sharh-i āl-i Aḥmad va Lawḥ-i Aḥmad' (incorporating some biographical memoirs preserved by the LSA of the Bahā'īs of Ishqābād) 653-661;
- A Flame of Fire, The Story of the Tablet of Aḥmad. (New Delhi: Bahā'ī Publishing Trust, 1969); Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Bahā’-Allāh, Vol. II (Oxford: George Ronald, 1977), pp. 102-151; Shoghi Effendi, Dawn of a New Day, Messages to India 1923-1957. (New Delhi: Bahā'ī Publishing, n.d. 1970); Helen Hornby (Comp.), Lights of Guidance 2 .