LAWḤ

(tablet), a term used distinctively in the Bahai writings as part of the title of individual compositions of Bahāʾ-Allāh addressed to individuals or groups of individuals.

 

LAWḤ "tablet," a term used distinctively in the Bahai writings as part of the title of individual compositions of Bahāʾ-Allāh (q.v.) addressed to individuals or groups of individuals. In popular, but probably inaccurate, usage, it is also used to refer to similar writings of cAbd-al-Bahāʾ (q.v.) and sometimes Shoghi Effendi. The Bāb (q.v.) did not specifically designate any of his works as lawḥ, though he occasionally referred to his writings in a generic way as alwāḥ/tablets (see for example, Bayān-e fārsi, wāḥad 3, bāb 14). The usage is traceable to the Koran, specifically the Tablets of the Law revealed to Moses on Mt. Sinai (Koran 7:145, 150, 154). In the singular, the Koran also knows the Preserved Tablet, Lawḥ-e maḥfuz (Koran 85:22), frequently identified with the Mother Book (omm al-ketāb, Koran 3:7, 13:39, 43:4). Its use in the titles of works by Bahāʾ-Allāh would appear to be for the purpose of emphasizing their revealed nature, as is the case with his use of other similar technical terms in the titles of his works, such as sura, ṣaḥifa and even ketāb. The word lawḥ can also be considered as forming a connection with Bahāʾ-Allāh’s designation of himself as the Qalam-e Aʿlā (the Most Exalted Pen), the two thus forming a metaphor for the active force and that which is its recipient, described by Bahāʾ-Allāh, in the Lawḥ-e Ḥekmat, as the cause of creation (TB/T = Majmuʿa-i az alwāḥ-e Jamāl-e Aqdas-e Abhā ke baʿd az Ketāb-e Aqdas nāzel šoda, 82-3; TB/E = Tablets of Bahāʾuʾllāh revealed after the Aqdas, 140).

As far as the term lawḥ is concerned, it must be stated at the outset that it is by no means easy to find a simple definition for it as it is used to designate Bahai writings. For example, some tablets are extended prose treatments of specific topics, and assume the proportions of a small book. Others are very brief prayers or personal communications from Bahāʾ-Allāh to various individuals. Some instances, the designation in English and other languages differs from the original (for example, the Sūra-ye ḡoṣn is usually known in English as the Tablet of the Branch). Finally, there is a sense in which all of the writings of Bahāʾ-Allāh are universally designated as Alwāḥ or Tablets. In this general sense, they are loosely described by B ahāʾ-Allāh as comprising 100 volumes (Epistle to the Son of the Wolf 115) and over 7,000 tablets of Bahāʾ-Allāh have been collected and authenticated by the Bahaʾi World Centre (personal communication, 3 Feb. 2004). Only a small proportion of these have been published and an even smaller number translated. A great deal of work still remains before these writings are cataloged, authenticated, dated, contextualized, analyzed, and critical editions prepared.

As for literary style, Bahāʾ-Allāh was a great admirer of Mirzā Abol-Qāsem Farahāni Qāʾem-maqām, who had striven to free Persian “official epistolography from the arrant bombast and rhetorical jugglery that made it sound so ridiculous” (Rypka, p. 335). B ahāʾ-Allāh’s Persian can thus be seen, from the literary viewpoint, as part of the 19th century literary “Return"” (bāzgašt) movement, which aimed for a return to the simplicity and conciseness of pre-Mongol Persian prose. Thus E.G. Browne hailed Bahāʾ-Allāh’s Ketāb-e iqān as being “as concise and strong in style as the Chahār Maqāla, composed some seven centuries earlier” (Literary History 2:89). Nevertheless, Bahāʾ-Allāh’s Persian presents difficulties for modern Iranians, filled as it is with Arabic words and phrases and often even long passages in Arabic. Bahāʾ-Allāh’s Arabic also reaches a very high literary standard in places: in the latter part of the Lawḥ solṭān and the first part of the Lawḥ-e ḥekmat (see below), for example.

In this brief survey of the form and contents of some of the most important and well-known Tablets, we will restrict ourselves to discussing works whose titles carry this designation in the original Arabic or Persian. Some seventy separate works with this designation are listed in successive volumes of The Bahaʾi World (see for example 14:461-62) and well over fifty are noticed and/or discussed in Taherzadeh (RB = Revelation of Bahāʾuʾllāh). We will describe here a few from each of the five major periods of Bahāʾ-Allāh’s ministry (Lawḥ -e in the title of these works has been abbreviated to L.).

Baghdad (1853-63). The earliest composition of Bahāʾ-Allāh’s carrying this designation is probably the L. Koll al-ṭaʿām (Arabic; MA = Māʾada-ye āsmāni 4:265-76; see also IK = Ishrāq-Khāvari, “The Writings of Bahaāʾuʾllāh,” 14:622-23) written shortly before the author went to Kurdistan in 1854 as an extended commentary on the Koranic verse 3:93, in which, among other matters, he relates the word “food” to five metaphysical realms. As with several of Bahāʾ-Allāh’s compositions of this period, the style is abstruse, employing the allusive terminology found throughout the writings of the Bāb and the Šayḵiya, together with standard Sufi technical terms. It is generally held that this Tablet was seen by Mirzā Yaḥyā Azal, the Bāb’s nominee, as a threat to his authority. Bahāʾ-Allāh went into seclusion for two years as a result of the ensuing disunity within the Baghdad refugee Bābi community.

The L. Madinat al-tawḥid (Arabic, ca 1858, MA 4:313-29; partial trans. Gleanings 24:59-60; see also RB 1:109-19 and IK 14:627) is an extended treatment of the theological problem of the unity and transcendence of God and of humankind’s knowledge of God. Here, the Bahai concept of the manifestation of God takes center stage as the solution to this problem.

The L. Āyat al-nur (also known as the Tafsir-e ḥorufāt-e moqaṭṭa’a, Arabic, MA 4:49-86; see also RB 1:125 and IK 14:627) is a work of moderate length, written at the request of a follower wanting an explanation of the famous Light Verse of the Koran (24:35) and also an explanation of the mysterious disconnected letters of the Koran.

The L. Ḥuriya (Arabic, AQA = Āṭār-e Qalam-e Aʿla2 2:647-53; poor trans. in Bahāʾi Scriptures 249-51; see also IK 14:626, Walbridge, Sacred Acts, 159-61) is in the form of a dramatic dialogue between the Maid of Heaven and the Youth (Bahāʾ-Allāh); this form occurs in several other tablets. In the course of this tablet, which is charged with very powerful imagery and motifs, Bahāʾ-Allāh expresses the loneliness and despair he feels as a bearer of divine revelation to an unresponsive and hostile humanity. The Maiden, a symbol of ineffable divine beauty, seeks to comfort him and encourage him as he languishes in the midst of sorrows so intense it has caused both his heart and liver to be consumed.

The L. Fetna (may be from the Edirne period, Arabic, MA 4:261-65; see also RB 1:128-29, 136-37) is addressed to one S3ams-e Jehān, agrand-daughter of Fatḥ ʿAli Shāh (who took the pen-name Fetna), a close friend of the remarkable Bābi heroine, Ṭāhera. The theme of this tablet is the trials and tribulations (sing. fetna) that face the devoted believer in the new religion.

The L. Mallāḥ al-qods (The Tablet of the Holy Mariner, Arabic & Persian, 5th day of Naw Ruz, 1863; AQA 4:335-41; trans. Bahaʾi Prayers 319-27; see also RB 1:228-44 and Sours, Tablet) is composed in two parts, the first in Arabic sajʿ, employing a standard refrain after each verse; the second in Persian prose. The Persian functions as something of a gloss on the earlier Arabic, which is not a little obscure in places. The basic theme is that of the appearance of the manifestation of divine beauty (the Holy Mariner) to the world and the ensuing rejection by those unable to recognize this beauty. The Maid of Heaven laments this cruel fate and attempts to comfort the Mariner.

The L. Ayyub (also known as the Sura-ye ṣabr and Madinat al-ṣabr, Arabic, AT = Ayyām Tesʿa 262-304; see also RB 1:263-73) was composed on the eve of Bahāʾ-Allāh’s departure from Baghdad in April 1863. It was written for a Bābi of Nayrīz, the scene of one of the more prominent conflicts between the followers of the Bāb and government troops. Accordingly, this lengthy tablet is a celebration of the heroism and sacrifice of the Bābis.

The L. Ḡulām al-ḵold (Arabic and Persian, c. 1863, AT 92-99; see also RB 1:211-14, BW 14:630-31, Walbridge, Sacred Acts pp. 159, 161-63, 222) is in celebration of “the year sixty” (1260) when the young merchant, Sayyed ʿAli Moḥammad declared himself to be the Bāb. It is a particularly moving composition, which like the L. Mallāḥ al-qods is in two parts: the first in sajʿ, the second in Persian prose. In the process of commemorating the advent of the Bāb and his irresistible beauty, Bahāʾ-Allāh also alludes to his own spiritual rank.

Istanbul (1863). Bahāʾ-Allāh spent some four months on the journey from Baghdad to Istanbul (April-August 1863) and less than four months in Istanbul (August-December 1863) but he wrote a number of important tablets and other works during this period. This period also saw the first of the tablets addressing kings and rulers, L. ʿAbd al-ʿAziz wa Wokalā (September 1863), the text of which appears to be lost. Among other tablets of this period are:

L. Hawdaj (also known as L. Sāmsun and Sura-ye Hawdaj, Arabic, August 1863; Laʾāli al-ḥekmat 1:12-16; partial trans. IK 14:631; see also RB 2:6-7) is said to be Bahāʾ-Allāh’s first composition after departing Baghdad. It was composed in the port of Sāmsun en route from Baghdad to Istanbul. The title is derived from the fact that it was composed as the author gazed upon the Black sea from his howdah. The theme combines the impending sea voyage to Istanbul with the dire predictions made in the L. Mallāḥ al-qods.

L. Bolbol-e ferāq (Arabic and Persian, Autumn 1863; partial text: GS = Ešrāq-Ḵāvari, Ganj-e Šaygān, 42-45 and AQA 4:324; see also RB 1:244-45). Although it is stated that this brief work was composed on the eve of Bahāʾ-Allāh’s departure from Baghdad (RB 1:244), internal evidence suggests that it was composed in Istanbul. It laments the separation of Bahāʾ-Allāh from his friends and followers in Baghdad.

L. Nāqus (also known as L. Sobḥānaka Yā Hu, from the refrain in the tablet, Arabic, October 1863, AT 100-106; see also BW 14:632, RB 2:18) is an incantatory work with much internal rhyme and rhythm, written on the anniversary of the Declaration of the Bab and announcing Bahāʾ-Allāh’s own claims (albeit in ambiguous language such that one is uncertain whether he is referring to the Bab or himself).

Edirne (Adrianople, 1863-68). The next period of the literary activity of Bahāʾ-Allāh is marked by his arrival and residence in Edirne, his open proclamation of his claim and the final separation in 1868 between him and his half-brother Mirzā Yaḥyā as a result of which the Bābi community was divided into two major groups, the Bahais, followers of Bahāʾ-Allāh, and the Azalis, followers of Mirzā Yaḥyā Azal.

Thus one important group of tablets of Bahāʾ-Allāh in this period were those announcing his claim, giving proofs for this, and refuting the claims and accusations of Azal and his supporters: L. Mobāhila (Arabic and Persian, 1867, MA 4: 277-81); L. Serāj (for ʿAli Moḥammad Serāj Eṣfahāni, Persian; MA 7:4-111; partial trans. Gleanings 50:103-4, 97:197-98; see also RB 2:262-63, 268-69); L. Ašraf (for Ašraf Zanjāni; Arabic; MAM = Majmuʿa-ye alwāḥ-e mobaraka-ye Haẓrat-e Bahāʾ-Allāh, 211-219; part. trans. Gleanings 52:104-7; see also RB 2:230-32); L. Naṣir (for Ḥāji Naṣir Qazvini; mainly Persian; MAM 166-202; partial trans. Gleanings 53:107-8, 75:153-54; see also RB 2:245-54 and Browne 1889, 949-53); and the L. Ruḥ (Arabic; AQA 2:451-79; see also RB 2:181-82, 186-88).

During this period there were also more tablets written addressing kings and rulers. These include the first tablet to Napoleon III, the L. Nāpolyun I (unpublished, partial trans. Shoghi Effendi, Promised Day 51; see also RB 2:368-69), not to be confused with L. Nāpolyun II (see below), and the L. Solṭān, which was written during this period, but sent to its addressee in the next period (see below).

Other important tablets of this period include:

L. Aḥmad (for Aḥmad Yazdi, c. 1865, Arabic; TWT = Ešrāq-Ḵāvari, Resāla-ye Tasbiḥ wa Tahlil 215-18; trans. Bahāʾi Prayers 307-11; see also RB 2:107, 116, 119-20 and Lawson, “Seeing Double”), one of Bahāʾ-Allāh’s most important prayers, in which it is stated that the person who reads this tablet “with absolute sincerity” will receive a great reward and hence this tablet has been accorded a special status among Bahais. In this brief work, Bahāʾ-Allāh in no uncertain terms identifies his own cause with the cause of the Bāb through an invocation of symbols and motifs well known to the recipient. This tablet should not be confused with another lawḥ of the same name written during this same period but in Persian for Aḥmad Kāšāni, a supporter of Mirza Yaḥyā (MAM 315-34; partial trans. Gleanings 152:322-23, 153:323-29; see also RB 2:137-51). The theme of this much lengthier tablet is steadfastness in the cause, the avoidance of evildoers, and the cultivation of praiseworthy morals. In the L. Bahāʾ (Arabic; GS 40-42; see RB 2:171, 179-80), Bahāʾ-Allāh refers, perhaps for the first time, to his own followers as the “People of Bahāʾ” in contradistinction to the followers of his half-brother Azalwho henceforth would be recognized as either Bābis, Bayānis or Azalis. This historic tablet was written for Ḵātun Jān, a faithful and heroic follower of Ṭāhera and ardent supporter of Bahāʾ-Allāh.

ʿAkka (1868-1877). Perhaps the most significant tablets of this period are those addressed to a series of kings and rulers, possibly in parallel to the epistles that the prophet Mohammad is said to have sent to the rulers of his time. Each of the following received a special lawḥ: Pope Pius IX, (L. Pap, Arabic; AQA 1:33-41; trans. Summons, pp. 54-67; see also RB 3:116-18, 133 and Browne 1889, 963-67); Napoleon III (L. Nāpolyun 2, Arabic; AQA 1:41-51; trans. Summons pp. 67-83; see also RB 3:110-15 and Browne 1889, 967-75); Czar Alexander II (L. Malek-e Rus, Arabic; AQA 1:51-55; trans. Summons, pp. 83-88; see also RB 3:118-23 and Browne 1889, 969); Queen Victoria (L. Maleka, Arabic; AQA 1:55-60; trans. Summons, 88-96; see also RB 3:123-27 and Browne 1889, 969-78), and Naser al-Din Shah (L. Solṭan, mainly Arabic; AQA 1:60-88; trans. Summons, pp. 96-137; see also RB 2:337-57 and Browne 1889, 954-60). These last five tablets were collected together with an introductory section as the Sura-ye haykal. In these tablets, Bahāʾ-Allāh claimed to be the Lord of Lords, the voice that called out from the tree on Sinai, and the bearer of the “Most Great Name” (haykal al-esm al-aʿẓam). To Napoleon III, he addresses words of rebuke for having ignored his earlier missive and predicts his overthrow; to Nāṣer al-Din Shah, he defends himself against allegations made about him; and to Queen Victoria, he writes words of praise for having promoted democracy and for the actions of her government against the slave trade, but warns of the necessity to take steps to promote international peace and stop the arms race. ʿĀli Pasha also received a tablet (L. Rāʿis, Persian; MAM 102-16; Summons, pp. 161-73; see also RB 3:33-34, 36-37) as did Manekji Ṣāḥeb (Manekji Limji Hataria), the Zoroastrian leader in Iran (L. Manekji Ṣāḥeb; MAM 261-62; part. trans. in Gleanings 106:213, poor full trans. in Star of the West vol. 1, no. 1, 1910, pp. 5-9). This last tablet was one of many written by Bahāʾ-Allāh to Zoroastrians, most of them being mainly in pure Persian (Parsi-e sara), a literary trend that was much encouraged by Manekji Ṣāḥeb. A collection of these tablets of Bahāʾ-Allāh and ʿAbd-al-Bahāʾ to Zoroastrian Bahais has been published as Yārān-e Pārsi. Among the most important of these is L. Haft Porses3 (MAM 240-48; see also RB 3:272), written in response to a Zoroastrian convert, Ustād Javānmard, and dealing with themes that were of interest to Zoroastrians such as Bahāʾ-Allāh’s ancestry.

Other well-known tablets from this period include: L.Qad eḥtaraqa al-moḵleṣun (for Sayyed ʿAli-Akbar Dahaji, usually called in the West the “Fire Tablet”; TWT 219-24; trans. Bahāʾi Prayers, pp. 312-18; see also RB 3:226-30) an incantatory work with rhyme and rhythm lamenting the opposition and betrayals that Bahāʾ-Allāh had experienced (often subsequently recited by Bahais in times of distress and persecution); and the L. Ṭebb (for Āqā Moḥammad Reẓā Ṭabib Yazdi, usually called in the West the Tablet to the Physician; Arabic and Persian, MAM 222-26; partial trans. Bahaʾi Prayers, p. 96; poor partial trans. in Star of the West vol. 13, 1922, p. 252; see also RB 3:358-60).

Mazraʾa and Bahji (1877-1892). During this period Bahāʾ-Allāh withdrew from public life and devoted himself to his writings, mainly responses to the hundreds of letters that reached him from his followers. Thus a large proportion of Bahāʾ-Allāh’s total corpus of works dates from this period.

One main subdivision of Bahāʾ-Allāh’s works from this period relates to his social teachings, some of these being given as adjuncts to the Ketāb-e Aqdas. This group includes tablets such as the Ešrāqāt (for Jalil Khuʾi, Arabic and Persian; TB/T 57-79; trans. TB/E 99-134; see also RB 4:146-60), Ṭarāzāt (for Ustād ʿAli Akbar Bannā Yazdi, Persian; TB/T 16-24; trans. TB/E 33-44; see also RB 4:168-76), Tajalliyāt (Arabic and Persian; TB/T 25-29; trans. TB/E 47-54; see also RB 4:118-44), Bešarāt (Arabic and Persian; TB/T 10-15; TB/E 21-29; see also Buck, Paradise, pp. 142-79 and RB 4:161-67), Kalemāt-e Ferdawsiya (Arabic and Persian; TB/T 30-45; trans. TB/E 57-80; see also RB 4:214-26) and the L. Donyā (for Āqā Mirzā Āqā Nur al-Din Afnān, 1891, Persian; TB/T 46-56; trans. TB/E 83-97; see also RB 4:329-50). Among the themes elaborated in these tablets are unity, world peace and the means to achieve it, the functioning of the House of Justice, the importance of education, the need for moderation, the role of religion, and various ethical injunctions.ʾ

Other important tablets from this period include: L. Aqdas, (for Fāres in Egypt, known as “Tablet to the Christians” and not to be confused with the Ketāb-e Aqdas; Arabic; TB/T 3-9; trans. TB/E 9-17; see also RB 4:227-35 and Sours, Study), addressed by Bahāʾ-Allāh to Christians announcing himself to be the fulfillment of their prophecies; L. Ḥekmat (for Molla Moḥammad ʿAli Qāʾni, Nabil Akbar, Arabic; TB/T 80-91; TB/E 137-52; see also Rādmehr, Arbāb-e ḥekmat and RB 4:33-49), in which Bahāʾ-Allāh deals with philosophy, some of the philosophers of ancient times and some philosophical subjects such as creation; L. Karmel (Arabic; TB/T 1-2; trans. TB/E 3-5; see also RB 4:351-67), an important tablet, which was considered by Shoghi Effendi to be the charter for the development of the Bahaʾi World Centre on Mount Carmel; L. arż al-Bāʾ (viz. Beirut, Arabic, TB/T 138; trans. TB/E 227-28) written on the occasion of ʿAbduʾl-Bahā’s visit there in 1880 at the invitation of Medḥat Pasha; and L. Anta ʾl-kāfi (known in the West as the “Long Healing Prayer”; Arabic, TWT 207-15; trans. Bahāʾi Prayers, pp. 102-110), a tablet in an incantatory style calling on God for protection and healing.

One group of tablets of Bahāʾ-Allāh from this period is those addressed to Islamic religious leaders in Iran. In the L. Borhān (Arabic; TB/T 125-33; trans. TB/E 205-16; see also RB 4:91-102), for example, Bahāʾ-Allāh rebukes the two leading clerics of Isfahan who had encompassed the killing of two Bahai merchants of Isfahan; in the L. Qenā (Arabic and Persian; MAM 67-87), Bahāʾ-Allāh reproves the Šayḵi leader Hāji Mirzā Moḥammad Karim Kermāni. The L. Ibn al-ḏe’b (1891, Arabic, translated as the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, also known as L. Šayḵ Mohammad Taqi), Bahāʾ-Allāh last book-length work, is written as an epistle to Šeyḵ Moḥammad Taqi, Aqa Najafi, son of Šeyḵ Moḥammad Bāqer Eṣfahāni, one of the above mentioned clerics of Isfahan, whom Bahāʾ-Allāh had stigmatized as “the Wolf.” It is in many ways an anthology and summary of Bahāʾ-Allāh’s writings.

In addition, Bahāʾ-Allāh wrote many ziyārat-nāmas, prayers to be said when visiting a shrine, which in English are called Tablets of Visitation, for prominent Bahais who died, as well as for the Imam Husayn.

The tablets of Bahāʾ-Allāh have been published in a large number of volumes over the years, beginning with individual volumes in India in the late 19th century and in Cairo in the early 20th century. The series A2ṭār qalam aʿlā was begun in Iran in 1964 and has recently begun to be republished in Canada. The series Laʿāli al-ḥekmat has also been published in recent years, as well as individual volumes that parallel the official translations into English. Recently a volume, Āyāt-e Bayyenāt, of all of the tablets addressed to the families of Šeyḵ Kāzem Samandar and his brother Nabil ibn Nabil Qazvini was published and more such volumes are forthcoming.

ʿAbd-al-Bahāʾ and Shoghi Effendi.Several works by ʿAbd-al-Bahāʾ have “lawḥ” in the title while even his letters are commonly referred to as “alvāḥ.” Although this is more from usage among the Bahais than in the authoritative Bahai texts (but see references by Shoghi Effendi to ʿAbd-al-Bahā’s writings as “lawḥ” and “alvāḥ” in Tawqiʿāt pp. 68, 327), it makes it difficult to say that the term is restricted to revelation, because technically ʿAbd-al-Bahāʾ is not seen as a revelator, rather an interpreter or expounder (viz., mobayyen). ʿAbd-al-Bahāʾ wrote in a very clear and vigorous style of Persian and Arabic and there are also a number of his writings in Ottoman and Azeri Turkish.

A good percentage of the literary output of ʿAbd-al-Bahāʾ, and indeed that of the leadership of the Bahai Faith in general, may be described as epistolary. In this context, the charming story is told of how ʿAbduʾl-Bahāʾ, in weary indulgence of the childish pleading of his beloved grandson, Shoghi Effendi, composed for him his very own “Tablet” when he was five years old. (Rabbani, Priceless Pearl, p. 8)

Among ʿAbd-al-Bahā’s most prominent alwāḥ are: Alvāḥ-e Tabliḡi (Tablets of the Divine Plan), a cycle of 14 letters written to the Bahais of the United States and Canada in the years 1916-17 bearing instructions on how best to spread the Bahai teachings and establish communities of followers not only in North America, but around the world; L. Tanzih wa taqdis (called “the Tablet on Purity” in the West, Persian: Makātib 1:324-30; trans. Selections, pp. 146-50), enjoining cleanliness on the Bahais and strongly condemning the use of alcohol, opium and tobacco; the two tablets both known as L. Hezār Bayti (Persian, 1897-98; Montak°abāti 4:232-59, 259-300), which deal with the issue of the rebellion of his half-brother, Mirzā Moḥammad ʿAli; L. Haft šamʿ (the Tablet of the Seven Candles, to Mrs. White, England, 1906; Montaḵabāti 1:27-31; trans. Selections 29-32), on seven stages towards world unity; L. Forel (the Tablet to Dr. August Forel, 1921; Ešrāq-Ḵāvari, Payām-e Malakut, pp. 315-32; trans. Bahā’i World Faith, pp. 336-48), a lengthy discussion of what might be termed religious philosophy; and two tablets to the Central Organization for a Durable Peace at the Hague (L. Lāhih I, 1919, and L. Lāhih II, 1920; Makātib 3:101-18, 118-21; part. trans. of first tablet in Selections, pp. 296-307, second tablet Star of the West vol. 11, 1921, pp. 288-89). In addition, ʿAbd-al-Bahā’s Will and Testament is usually referred to in Persian as the Alvāḥ-e Vasāyā (1901-08). In this, ʿAbd-al-Bahāʾ appoints Shoghi Effendi as Guardian of the Bahai Faith, gives instructions on the manner of electing the Universal House of Justice and defines the relative functions of these two institutions.

A series of volumes of the writings of ʿAbd-al-Bahāʾ was published in Iran under the title Makātib-e ʿAbd-al-Bahāʾ, and more recently outside Iran under the title Muntak°abāt az makātib-e Hažrat-e ʿAbd-al-Bahāʾ. A three-volume collection of his writings translated into English and entitled Tablets of Abdul-Baha was published in 1909-19 (see bibliography).

Although the annual message of Shoghi Effendi to the Persian Bahais for BE 101/1945, the start of the second Bahai century, is usually called L Qarn (see bibliography), this appears to have been a title given by the Persian Bahais and not by Shoghi Effendi himself. The term lawḥ is not ordinarily used to designate the compositions of Shoghi Effendi, although, it should be observed that a similarly-charged term is used to designate his letters and other communiqués, (viz tawqi’/tawqi’āt, q.v.). This term is also used for letters by the Ba2b and, interestingly, seems not to have been used by Bahāʾ-Allāh. The current Bahai leadership, the Universal House of Justice (Bayt al-ʿAdl-e Aʿẓam, See BAYT-AL-žADL), does not refer to any of its messages as alwāḥ, rather it communicates with the Bahai world and others through texts called nāma and payām.

 

Bibliography:

On the individual works of Bahāʾ-Allāh, see the following series: AQA = A2ṭār-e Qalam-e Aʿlā, new ed., vol. 1, Dundas, 1996; vol. 2, Hamilton, Ont., 2002; old ed., vol. 4, Tehran, BE 125/1968. Laʾāli al-ḥekmat, vol. 1-2, Rio de Janiero, 1986-90.

MA = Māʾada-ye Āsmāni (ed. ʿAbd al-Hamid Ešrāq-Ḵāvari), Tehran, BE 121-129/1964-72.

Individual volumes include: AT = A.H. Ešrāq-Ḵāvari, AyyāmTesʿa, Los Angeles, 1981.

MAM = Majmuʿa-ye alwāḥ-e moba2raka-ye Hažrat-e Bahāʾ-Allāh, Wilmette, Ill., 1978 (first published Cairo, 1920).

TWT = ʿAbd al-Hamid Ešrāq-Ḵāvari, Resāla-ye Tasbiḥ wa Tahlil, New Delhi, 1982. Yārān-e Pārsi, Hofheim, 1998.

Āyāt-e bayya2nāt, Dundas, Ont., 1999.

TB/T = Majmuʿa-i az alwāḥ-e Jamāl-e Aqdas-e Abhā ke baʿd az Ketāb-e Aqdas nāzel šoda, Langenhain, BE 138/1981, which is the parallel volume to TB/E = Tablets of Bahāʾuʾllāh revealed after the Aqdas, Haifa, 1978.

Lawḥ moba2rak ḵetāb be Shaykh Moh2ammad Taqi Mojtahed Eṣfahāni maʿruf be Najafi, Hamilton, 2001 (originally published in Cairo, 1920); translated as Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, Wilmette, 1988.

Other translations include Gleanings from the Writings of Bahāʾuʾllāh (trans. Shoghi Effendi), Wilmette, 1983 (citations give paragraph number, then page number). Summons of the Lord of Hosts, Wilmette, 2002.

Bahāʾi Prayers, Wilmette, 2002.

Bahāʾi Scriptures (ed. H. Holley), New York, 1923.

Shoghi Effendi, Promised Day is Come, Wilmette, 1980.

Translations of a more provisional nature of some of these works have been published in a photocopied journal, Bahāʾi Studies Bulletin, and on the Internet, such as at www.bahai-library.org, where can also be found a very useful annotated listing, Senn McGlinn, “The Leiden List of the Works of Bahaʾuʾllah.”

Commentaries and analysis of Bahaāʾ-Allāh’s writings include: RB = Adib Taherzadeh, Revelation of Bahāʾuʾllāh, 4 vols., Oxford, 1974-87.

GS = A.H. Ešrāq-Ḵāvari, Ganj-e šayagān, Tehran, BE 124/1967.

IK = A.H. Ešrāq-Khāvari, “The Writings of Bahāʾuʾllāh” (trans. Habib Taherzadeh), in The Bahāʾi World 14, Haifa, 1974, pp. 620-32 (based upon GS). E. G. Browne, “The Babis of Persia,” JRAS 21, 1889, pp. 485-526, 881-1009 (reprinted in Moojan Momen, ed., Selections from the Writings of E.G. Browne, Oxford, 1987, pp. 145-315).

Michael Sours, Tablet of the Holy Mariner, Los Angeles, 2002.

Todd Lawson, “Seeing Double: The Covenant and the Tablet of Ahmad” in Moojan Momen (ed.), The BahaʾiFaith and Other Religions, (Bahāʾi Studies, vol. 1), Oxford, 2004, pp. 39-86.

Christopher Buck, Paradise and Paradigm: Key Symbols in Persian Christianity and the Bahāʾi Faith, Albany, 1999.

Michael Sours, A Study of Bahāʾuʾllāh’s Tablet to the Christians, Oxford, 1990.

Farid al-Din Rādmehr, Arbāb-e ḥekmat dar lawḥ-e ḥekmat, Hamilton, Ont., 2002.

John Walbridge, Sacred Acts, Sacred Space, Sacred Time, Oxford, 1996.

Individual words and expressions in the writings of Bahāʾ-Allāh are explained and discussed in Fāżel Māzandarāni, Asrār al-āṭār, 5 vols., Tehran, BE 124-9/1967-72.

On the literary style of Bahāʾ-Allāh, see F. Lewis, “Scripture as Literature: Sifting through the layers of the text,” Bahāʾi Studies Review 7, 1997, pp. 125-146.

Other works cited include: E. G. Browne, Literary History of Persia II, Cambridge, 1906; J, Rypka, History of Iranian Literature (ed. Karl Jahn), Dordrecht, 1968; Ruhiyyih Rabbani, The Priceless Pearl, London, 1969.

Bahāʾi World Faith, Wilmette, 1956.

Tablets of ʿAbd-al-Bahāʾ can be found in Makātib ʿAbd-al-Bahāʾ: 8 vols.: vols. 1-3 Cairo (1910-22); vols. 4-8, Tehran, BE 121-34/1964-77; Montaḵabāt az makātib Hažrat ʿAbd-al-Bahāʾ: vol. 1, Wilmette, 1979; vol. 2, Haifa, 1984; vols. 3-5, Hofheim, 1992-2003.

Selections from the Writings of ʿAbduʾl-Bahāʾ, Haifa, 1978, is a translation of the first volume of the preceding series. Tablets of Abdul-Baha, 3 vols. New York, 1909-19.

A. H. Ešrāq-Ḵāvari, Payām-e malakut, New Delhi, 1986.

Tablet to Dr Forel Farāmin-e Tabliḡi-ye ḥažrat-e ʿAbd-al-Bahā, Wilmette, 1985, translated as Tablets of the Divine Plan,Wilmette, 1993.

Alvāḥ-e Veṣāyā, Nafaḥāt al-Fażl III, Dundas, Ont., 1992, translated as The Will and Testament of ʿAbduʿl-Bahā, Wilmette, 1971.

Works of Shoghi Effendi: Tawqiʿāt-e Mobāraka-ye ḥažrat-e Waliy-e Amr-Allāh Hofheim, 1992.

Lawḥ-e qarn, Tehran, BE 101/1964.

(M. Momen and B. T. Lawson)

Originally Published: July 20, 2005

Last Updated: July 20, 2005