The Tablet

Open the below footnotes to view the annotations.


He1He
a) God
b) Bahá’u’lláh
c) Báb
is the King, the All-Knowing, the Wise! Lo,2Lo
The word “calls attention to an amazing sight”.
the Nightingale of Paradise3Nightingale of Paradise
Ahmad himself referred to the tablet as “The Tablet of the Nightingale of Paradise” (p. 8).

a) Bahá’u’lláh.
b) the Báb.
c) Voice of the spirit of God.
d) Allusion to the nightingale that sacrifices itself on the altar of love.
e) Notice that nightingales are known both for sweetness and for how insistently they sing.
singeth4Nightingale of Paradise singeth upon the twigs of the Tree of Eternity
a) Allusion to a Divine Springtime following a long winter.
b) Assertion that Bahá’u’lláh is the promised fruit of the tree of divine Revelation (p. 40).
upon the twigs5twigs
The Arabic word for twigs is afnán, a word also used to designate the relatives of the Báb. This a) lends further weight to the idea of the Báb as the Nightingale and b) implies the relation of succession between the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh.
Kolstoe writes: “Twigs is plural. How can one Nightingale be on more than one twig at a time?”. He suggests that “when a believer uses direct quotations from Bahá’u’lláh, it has the effect of being the voice of the Nightingale singing from whatever ‘twig’ – or place – those Sacred Words are uttered”, going on to highlight the importance of quoting directly from the Writings when teaching the Cause.
of the Tree of Eternity,6Tree of Eternity
a) Variation of “divine Lote-Tree”, “Satradu’l-Muntahá” and the “Tree of Divine Revelation”, which are references to the Manifestation and the Revelation.
b) Notice also the analogy with Burning Bush, or the sacred Bodhi Tree at which Buddha was given supreme enlightenment. Page 39 provides other references to trees of various kinds in various religions’ holy writings.
c) Indication that the tree of divine Revelation is the Nightingale’s true home.
d) The eternal covenant of God.
with holy and sweet7holy and sweet melodies
a) Allusion to significance of Bahá’u’lláh’s divinely revealed verses.
b) The expression of a melody implies the complementary function of listening to the melody. He is counselling us to listen to the sweetness of the melody and advising us to recognise its divinity.
melodies,8melodies
a) Proclamation of Bahá’u’lláh’s mission
b) Revelation of divine verses
proclaiming9proclaiming, calling, informing, guiding
Kolstoe suggests that this series can also be a four-step process.
to the sincere ones10sincere ones
a) Those who recognise Bahá’u’lláh
b) Appeal to the followers of the Báb
the glad tidings11glad tidings
a) Glad tidings of the coming of the Promised One.
b) Proclamation that Bahá’u’lláh is alive and well.
c) Statement that, despite physical distance, Bahá’u’lláh is very near to Ahmad and to each of us.
d) Alludes to story of Joseph in the Hebrew Bible and in the Qur’án.
e) the Báb is referred to as the ‘giver of glad tidings’.
of the nearness of God,12a) Inception of the Kingdom of God on Earth (p. 49).
b) Allusion to prophecies in the Qur’án, the New Testament and the Hebrew Bible – and of their fulfillment through the coming of Bahá’u’lláh.
calling the believers13believers in the Divine Unity
Muslims.

Note that Chapter 14 discusses this expression, suggesting that it can refer to Muslims as well as to Babís. However, on page xix of the introduction, Lawson states that it is probably not reasonable to associate this expression with Babís, pointing out that, in the original, this expression is al-muwahhidún, and that muwahhid is a term frequently used to refer to “true Muslims”.
in the Divine Unity14Divine Unity
Implies the recognition of the essential unity of all the Messengers and Prophets of God and also between God and His Manifestation. In turn, this implies that the actions of the Manifestation are aligned with God’s will, which implies that believing in the Divine Unity is related to recognising the Manifestation as the source of all good.
to the court15court
Entering into a court implies a King, and that we enter it with humility, submission, and obedience. Acceptance on His part is implied. It is significant that He Himself is inviting us into the court.
of the Presence of the Generous One,16Generous One
a) Bahá’u’lláh (the Báb also describes Bahá’u’lláh as the Generous).
b) Presence of God. Bahá’u’lláh says that “No theme hath been more emphatically asserted in the holy scriptures” than “the reality of ‘attainment unto the divine Presence’.”
c) Nearness to God (the word ‘presence’ is translated from the Arabic qurb, which means nearness).
d) Re-statement that the followers of the Báb should recognise Bahá’u’lláh.
informing the severed ones17severed ones
a) This does not have negative connotations but positive ones. It refers to detachment from all but Him.
b) It’s worth noting that, like other spiritual qualities, severance is not an “all-or-nothing” concept.
c) Bahá’u’lláh mentions “the sincere ones”, “the believers”, “the severed ones” and “the lovers”. These may be different groups of people or a single group of people. In this latter sense, these qualities may represent a spiritual progression.
of the message which hath been revealed by God, the King, the Glorious, the Peerless,18the King, the Glorious, the Peerless
a) Báb (since He told His followers to expect the coming of Him Whom God shall make manifest).
b) These three terms can also signify a sequence of successive Manifestations: the Báb, Bahá’u’lláh, and He who will follow Bahá’u’lláh.
guiding the lovers19lovers
The concept of love is closely connected to the concept of sacrifice. Thus, the “lovers” should expect to make sacrifices. Sacrifice may well be the sign of love. Through making sacrifices, He guides us to the “seat of sanctity”.
to the seat of sanctity20seat of sanctity
a) The original, maq’ad al-quds, may well be alluding to the “seat of truth” (maq’ad sidq) described in the Qur’án, in which one would find oneself in the presence of the “potent King”. This is another sign of Bahá’u’lláh’s station, particularly relevant for a Muslim audience.
b) Human heart. Under this interpretation, the heart must be kept “pure”. This ties into the idea of the Manifestation as a vehicle for our sanctification. In this sense, when He says He is “guiding” the lovers, He is stating that He is fulfilling His duty.
c) The Covenant.
and to this resplendent Beauty.21this resplendent Beauty
This term has a linguistic connection to a verse in the Qur’án, implying that Bahá’u’lláh fulfills the prophecy contained in that verse: He is the one who will appear after the second trumpet blast and illumine the whole earth with His light and glory.
22 Excerpt
This excerpt, starting from “glad tidings”, is replete with allusions to specific Islamic verses and points to particular verses in the Writings of the Báb (p. 46)

Verily this is that Most Great Beauty,23Most Great Beauty
Clear and unequivocal assertion of His station.
foretold in the Books of the Messengers, through Whom truth shall be distinguished from error24truth shall be distinguished from error
a) The Manifestation is the very standard that distinguishes between the two.
b) Christ promised the coming of Bahá’u’lláh in these words: “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth” and Bahá’u’lláh, in His Tablet to the Christians, declares “Verily, He Who is the Spirit of Truth is come to guide you unto all truth”.
and the wisdom of every command shall be tested.25the wisdom of every command shall be tested
a) The Arabic is precisely the same as the 4th verse of the 44th súrih of the Qur’án. I.e., Bahá’u’lláh is quoting from the Qur’án. (footnote 219).
b) One meaning of this verse appears to be that God will separate the wicked from the righteous.
c) Reference to the fact that the ultimate purpose of every previous religion has been made clear through Bahá’u’lláh’s Revelation (as per the previous sentence).
Verily He is the Tree of Life26Tree of Life
a) ‘Abdu’l-Bahá states “The Tree of Life, of which mention is made in the Bible, is Bahá’u’lláh”.
b) Tree of Divine Revelation.
c) Symbolises the appearance of the supreme Manifestation.
that bringeth forth the fruits of God,27fruits of God
a) Bahá’u’lláh affirms that “His ordinances constitute the fruits of the divine Tree”.
b) Names and attributes of God.
c) He is asserting that He has been empowered to reveal the names and attributes of God in a fuller measure than has occurred in the past.
d) Implication that previous Manifestations have appeared under the umbrella of Bahá’u’lláh’s Revelation (as well as Manifestations appearing during the Bahá’í Cycle).
e) The people who have turned their hearts to God’s Manifestation and developed their potential as a result.
f) Can also refer to humanity as a whole – whose development will the fruit of Bahá’u’lláh’s Revelation.
g) May also be the spiritual power of the Revelation (the power of true love, kindness, righteousness) that will recreate human hearts.
the Exalted, the Powerful, the Great.

O Ahmad!28O Ahmad
In this Tablet, Bahá’u’lláh is communicating with each of us through Ahmad. “Because Ahmad arose with absolute sincerity, devotion and dedication to fulfil the wishes of his Lord, he has released the power of this sacred Tablet for each one of us. As we strive in our own lives, to the best of our ability and capacity, to follow Ahmad’s example, we too reap the immeasurable benefits and bounties Bahá’u’lláh has promised in the Tablet of Ahmad and we release more of its healing power to flow out to all humankind.” (see pp. 202-204)
Bear thou witness29Bear thou witness
a) Teach.
b) In Arabic there is a connection between this expression and being a martyr – as perhaps the ultimate expression of bearing witness.

Personal note: by directing Ahmad away from Adrianople, Bahá’u’lláh effectively directed him away from a path of persecution (and possibly martyrdom). By stating this in the Tablet, Bahá’u’lláh is possibly saying “Don’t be sad you won’t suffer persecutions with Me, there is another way you can bear witness”.
that verily He is God30He is God
a) Since He has by now clearly and unequivocally asserted His station (see p. 94), this statement may be referring to the greatness of Bahá’u’lláh’s own Manifestation (p. 96), beyond its obvious meaning. As for why Bahá’u’lláh would have referred to Himself in the third person, see the annotation for the word “Say”, in the following paragraph.
b) Indication that this is the promised Day of God, pointing also to the ultimate triumph of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh over all opposition.
c) In previous religions, God made allowances for humanity’s weaknesses and frailties, permitting His Faith to become divided into different sects. There appears to be a connection between this phenomenon and the fact that the important Islamic verse “There is no god but God” starts, in Arabic, with “La”, meaning “No”. In other words, the verse starts with a negation. Bahá’u’lláh explains that the “no” positioned before the word “Alláh”, or God, allowed the enemies of Muhammad to divide His Faith. In this dispensation, the negation is removed, and it is replaced by an affirmation.
d) Source of hope and encouragement, as it implies that Bahá’u’lláh has empowered the believers to succeed in their struggle to become spiritual beings.
e) Assertion that Bahá’u’lláh (and He alone) is the One whose appearance fulfills the prophecies of the Báb.
and there is no God but Him,31there is no God but Him
a) Close connection to the central Islamic idea of tawhid (the affirmation of divine unity). By extension, He is attesting to the the truth of the Islamic Revelation.
b) “While Ahmad was in India in search of the Promised One, he was told that if he prostrated himself and repeated the verse ‘there is no god but God’ from the Qur’án twelve thousand times, he would be guided to his heart’s desire. It is reported that Ahmad devoted himself to this task several times (…). At the time he (…) was not guided directly to the Promised One (…) He eventually returned to Persia, (…) quite disillusioned. It was much later that he was guided to the Bábí Faith and many years after that that he met Bahá’u’lláh in Baghdád and was guided by Him to recognise His true station.” In this sense, it may be that, through this excerpt in the Tablet, Bahá’u’lláh is telling Ahmad “I did hear your invocations”.
c) Indication that there is no path to God except through His chosen Manifestation – and implication that in this dispensation God can only be known through Bahá’u’lláh.
d) The name “Ahmad” (with which this paragraph is opened) is a variation of the name “Muhammad”. Bahá’u’lláh could thus be calling on the followers of Muhammad to recognise him.
the King, the Protector, the Incomparable, the Omnipotent. And that the One Whom He32He
a) God
b) Bahá’u’lláh (implying that He is the One that sent forth the Báb).
hath sent forth by the name of ‘Alí was the true One from God,33the true One from God
a) Statement that the Báb was a Manifestation of God.
b) Allusion to the connection between these two Manifestations.

Kolstoe: “Bahá’u’lláh told Ahmad to teach according to what was already in the hearts of the listeners. (…) Had Ahmad been sent among the Christians, it is possible that he would have been told to validate Christ as the Son of God and the Word made flesh”.
to Whose commands we are all conforming.34to Whose commands we are all conforming
a) Reciprocation of the homage paid to Bahá’u’lláh by the Báb, a reflection of the twin nature of their Manifestations.
b) Indication that Manifestations exercise supreme authority over all the people of the earth.
c) Indication that Bahá’u’lláh is fulfilling the will of the Báb by manifesting Himself (pp. 156-157 offer particularly interesting support for this interpretation).

Personal note: this line gains a new dimension when one considers that the Tablet of Ahmad was revealed around 1865 – after Bahá’u’lláh’s public declaration. In my humble opinion, it may be a signal to the Babís of Bahá’u’lláh’s respect for the Báb – especially since, it appears, Bahá’u’lláh expected Ahmad to travel around Persia, enlisting Babís under the banner of the Bahá’í Faith.

Say:35Say
Personal note as Gurinsky’s book does not appear to directly comment on the use of “Say”: from my (very limited) understanding, the Texts of past Dispensations were a transcript, if you will, of statements made by God to the Manifestation. The Qur’án, for example, is the voice of Alláh speaking to Muhammad. Which is why so many verses in the Qur’án are preceded by “Say”. Alláh is instructing Muhammad to “say” certain things to humanity. A similar device is found in the Bible: “Thus speaketh the Lord”. When we bring to mind that any text must be understood in light of the audience that it is intended for, we can examine the Tablet of Ahmad in light of a Muslim audience (predominant in Persia). This audience would’ve been accustomed to the term “Say” – as being uttered not by Muhammad, a Prophet, but by God Himself. In other words, it is God who says “Say”, no one else. By using this term “Say”, Bahá’u’lláh is invoking for Himself the station of Godhead – a very dramatic and unambiguous affirmation of His station.
O people be obedient36be obedient
Reminder of the duty, in light of the Covenant with God, to obey whatever laws are revealed by His Manifestations (and indeed to recognise the subsequent Manifestation). As we know, this is for our own good.
to the ordinances of God, which have been enjoined in the Bayán37Bayán
“Shoghi Effendi states that the Bayán ‘should be regarded primarily as a eulogy of the Promised One rather than a code of laws and ordinances’. The main purpose of the Bayán was to guide the Bábís to the recognition of Bahá’u’lláh.”
In other words, Bahá’u’lláh is inviting the Babís (and indeed all humanity) to recognise Him.

In Kolstoe’s book it is written that “[Ahmad] inferred from the tablet that his major task was to inform the Bábís that Bahá’u’lláh was ‘Him Whom God would make manifest’. So, he concentrated on meeting with Bábís, although he was active in teaching any and all interested seekers in all circumstances.”
by the Glorious, the Wise One. Verily He is the King of the Messengers38King of the Messengers
a) God Himself
b) The Báb
and His book is the Mother Book39Mother Book
a) “In the Qur’án, the term ‘Mother Book’ refers to the book which is in heaven with God and through whose creative power all the holy scriptures have been generated.”
b) Also, Bahá’u’lláh is testifying that the Báb had been prophesied in the Qur’án by Muhammad.
c) Word of God.
d) Assertion that the Báb is the “promised Qá’im and that, paradoxically, His Book is the source of all previous books.”
did ye but know.

Thus doth the Nightingale utter His call40utter His call
The original literally means “remind you – of something which you might have forgotten” (footnote 401).

“Ahmad is en route to Bahá’u’lláh; Bahá’u’lláh tells him: “We are reminding you that the essence of the message is: it is up to you to follow the advice given here and if you do, this will be the true path to your Lord, even though your Lord is asking you not to visit Him.” (footnote 340).

Gurinsky suggests that these sentences are the pivotal verses of the Tablet and that the remaining verses revolve around them.
unto you41unto you
This sentence could also have been written without “unto you”. The choice to include “unto you” may reflect Bahá’u’lláh’s desire to personally reach each of us through language. “he whole Tablet is, in a very real sense, Bahá’u’lláhs call to us”.
from this prison.42prison
Bahá’u’lláh twice mentions the fact that He is imprisoned. Why?
a) Perhaps so that Ahmad could realise that Bahá’u’lláh did not want Ahmad to become a prisoner with Him. The paradox here is that, by going away from Bahá’u’lláh back to Baghdád, he was “choosing the path to his Lord”.
b) By referring to a Nightingale uttering a call from prison, Bahá’u’lláh may have been signalling to Ahmad that, given that He was in prison, Ahmad was being asked to deliver His message to the people.
He hath but to deliver this clear message.43deliver this clear message
a) Striking similarity to several verses in the Qur’án. In these verses it is (if indirectly) stated that messages are brought by Messengers. As such, Bahá’u’lláh is re-affirming His station.
b) He is also explicitly saying that the message is clear. If it is clear, “if ye deny these verses, by what proof have ye believe in God?”
c) The Arabic word for “clear” is derived from the same root as bayán, mubín. This term is frequently used in the Qur’án. The term bayán itself occurs three times in the Qur’án. This reinforces the connection between Bahá’u’lláh and the Islamic and the Babí Dispensations.
Whosoever desireth,44Whosoever desireth
a) Both a warning and a promise.
b) Emphasis that virtue is its own reward.
let him turn aside from this counsel45counsel
From Isaiah 9:6: “And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
and whosoever desireth46desireth
Both a warning and a promise.
let him choose the path47path
The Arabic is sabíl, which also has a connotation of sacrifice. In other words, this is also an invitation to a station of sacrifice – only for whosoever desireth, though.
to48path to his Lord
In case it is unclear: this does not mean “choose the path you think your Lord should follow” but rather “choose the path that goes towards your Lord”.
his Lord.

O people, if ye deny these verses,49these verses
Not just the Tablet of Ahmad but the entire Revelation.
by what proof have ye believed in God?50if ye deny these verses, by what proof have ye believed in God?
a) The juxtaposition of this statement with the “call” and “clear message” above imply that Bahá’u’lláh can not be any clearer, and acceptance is now expected.
b) It also implies that His revealed verses are superior to all other proofs and testimonies (p. 191).
c) Warning to the Bábís, that if they do not heed this call, they will have failed to fulfill what the Báb expected of them.
Produce it,51Produce it
a) Assertion of the superiority of these (Divine) verses when compared to anything else.
b) There is a Quranic background to the challenge to produce verses “like it”. In Quranic studies they are referred to as the “challenge verses” and are an important part of the Quranic message. Bahá’u’lláh is invoking these here. (footnote 385).
O assemblage of false ones.

Nay, by the One in Whose hand is my soul, they are not, and never shall be able to do this, even should they combine to assist one another.

O Ahmad!52O Ahmad! (shift in tone of the Tablet)
Gurinsky argues that, having given each individual the choice to either accept or reject this message, Bahá’u’lláh now “addresses Himself with tenderness and love to the personal guidance of the individual”. In fact, Gurinsky suggests that this excerpt opens a “second half” of the Tablet, as per the several kind and encouraging statements that follow.
Forget not My bounties53bounties
a) This statement implies that the bounties are all-enveloping. By not forgetting His bounties – and by remembering the bounties given to us in the past – we can become more confident about our future.
b) Bahá’u’lláh states, elsewhere, that each soul has been endowed with the bounty of God. In this light, “Forget not My bounties” could be referring to the bounties already within each of us.
c) Personal remark: an old saying goes “If you don’t feel as close to God as you used to, who moved?” In this light, Gurinsky suggests that “Forget not My bounties while I am absent” may be a way of Bahá’u’lláh telling us “if you ever stray away from Me, forget not My bounties – you can always come closer since I am here for you.”
while I am absent.54absent
a) Physical absence from Ahmad.
b) Todd Lawson points out in footnote 418 that “‘While I am absent’ (ghaybatí) is one of the most powerful concepts in Shí’ísm: the absence or hiddenness (ghayba) of the Hidden Imám.”
c) The juxtaposition of this with the “nearness” of God, referred to above, implies that the closeness of hearts and souls cannot be separated by physical distance.
d) “[I]f we keep our inner life focused on Bahá’u’lláh, outward misfortunes and circumstances cannot affect our long term destiny, which is to be with Him in the next world” (pp. 213-214).
Remember My days55Remember My days
a) Literal statement for Ahmad to remember the time he spent in the presence of Bahá’u’lláh (well before the revelation of this Tablet).
b) “Tender and loving farewell message and reassurance to His trustee and devoted servant Ahmad” (pp. 222)
c) Indication that Bahá’u’lláh’s mission (which involves being imprisoned) is different from the mission being given to Ahmad.
All this sheds new light to the several comforting and encouraging statements made by Bahá’u’lláh in this paragraph.
during thy days, and My distress and banishment56My distress and banishment
“The Ancient Beauty hath consented to be bound with chains that mankind may be released from its bondage, and hath accepted to be made a prisoner within this most mighty stronghold that the whole world may attain unto true liberty”. When we consider “My distress and banishment in this remote prison” in light of the above quote by Bahá’u’lláh, we are again reminded (both as individuals and as humanity) of the absolute assurance of the promise of His love and bounties.
in this remote prison. And be thou so steadfast in My love57so steadfast in My love
The call to be steadfast in His love even in the face of swords of the enemies raining blows upon us and all the heavens and the earth arise against us is an indication of the constant nature of His love, that we can always rely on, regardless of what the circumstances in our lives may be like.

Kolstoe: “This almost guarantees that when you enter the teaching field, there will be tests.”
that thy heart shall not waver, even if the swords of the enemies rain blows upon thee and all the heavens and the earth58heavens and the earth
a) Quote from the Guardian: “Concerning … the meaning of passages in the Tablet of Ahmad: The figure of speech, ‘heavens’ and ‘earth’ arising against one is not to be taken literally. It means in spite of every opposition.”
b) Gurinsky: “In the Book of Certitude Bahá’u’lláh states that the terms ‘heaven’ and ‘earth’ as uses in the scriptures have a variety of meanings. The term ‘heavens’ can refer to the religious leaders, while ‘earth’ is related to the human heart (…) In another sense, the term ‘heavens’ can apply to those in authority.” (p. 226)
c) Gurinsky: “Because enemies are specifically mentioned [just prior], ‘all the heavens and the earth’ also implies persons other than one’s enemies.” (p. 227). Gurinsky considers that this suggests that we should keep serving the Cause even in the face of attacks from family and friends. He further suggests that we, by our own imperfect conduct, may “attack” our spiritual progress – but that Bahá’u’lláh is always ready to welcome us back and love us (“be thou so steadfast in My love”).
d) Quote from the Guardian: “Let him not wait for any directions, or expect any special encouragement, from the elected representatives of his community, nor be deterred by any obstacles which his relatives, or fellow-citizens may be inclined to place in his path, nor mind the censure of his critics or enemies.”
e) Kolstoe suggests that the modern lifestyle is becoming increasingly distracting: “The simpler the life-style, the less ‘earth’ is ‘rising against one’. (…) In the days of the Guardian, countless pilgrims returned quoting him as saying that Bahá’ís should simplify their lives.”
f) Kolstoe: “The ‘heavens’ rising against us can be either direct or subtle.” He discusses how easy it is to obey a decision of an institution when we agree with it – less so when we don’t. “It is important to remember that the institutions are still embryonic and made up of people with a wide assortment of flaws. The Universal House of Justice reminded us that ‘The system is perfect, but if the instruments are imperfect we must still uphold the system, knowing God will watch over and protect His Cause, and that such conditions are only temporary and will pass away as the Cause grows and the Bahá’ís mature.’ A letter written in behalf of the Guardian states, “They have to learn to obey, even when the Assembly may be wrong, for the sake of unity.'”
g) Kolstoe: “Moral choices between good and evil are relatively easy. A choice between two good things (…) is more difficult. (…) Ahmad provided an example. Faced with two aspects of heaven, one being in the presence of Bahá’u’lláh and the other was unfettered and immediate obedience to His command. He chose not to allow the ‘heaven’ of being with his Lord arise against the ‘heaven’ of instance, exact and complete obedience. (…) When given the choice of two worthy ways to serve the Faith, we might ask ourselves, as Ahmad surely did, ‘Which is more worthy?’ In all probability, he prayed long and hard before reaching his difficult conclusion.”
arise against thee.

Be thou as a flame of fire59flame of fire
a) In p. 229, Gurinsky writes: “Shoghi Effendi gave several interpretations of the significance of this verse. ‘The “flame of fire” in the Tablet of Ahmad,’ he wrote, ‘should be taken figuratively.’ On another occasion he stated that ‘The words “Be thou as a flame of fire to My enemies and a river of life eternal to My loved ones” should not be taken in their literal sense.’ He said that it means that we must be uncompromising in our loyalty to the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh and also emphasized that to be ‘a flame of fire to My enemies’ defines what our attitude should be towards Covenant-breaking and those who attack the Bahá’í Faith: “The ‘flame of fire’ in the Tablet of Ahmad should be taken figuratively. In other words, we must not tolerate the evil of Covenant-breakers of enemies of the Faith, but be uncompromising in our loyalty, in our exposure of them and in our defence of the Faith.””
b) Gurinsky also addresses the thought, by some, that this may be at variance with Bahá’u’lláh’s admonition to “Consort with all men”.
c) This excerpt adds an additional dimension to the Tablet of Ahmad (a Tablet that is so distinctively centred on teaching): the protection of the Faith.
d) To be “on fire with the love of God.”
e) To be “on fire with His love with an appeal to teach”.
f) To be a beacon of guidance to all people – fire casting its light in the darkness.
g) To be a fire burning away the enemies within – those qualities that are not God-like.
h) Kolstoe: “In thinking about fire, when used properly it warms, gives light and a host of other positive things. Problems happen when it is abused – it is not to be trifled with.”
to My enemies and a river of life eternal60river of life eternal
Source of spiritual life to all people, by teaching them.
to My loved ones,61My loved ones
a) Those who have recognised Bahá’u’lláh: in this perspective, to be a river of life eternal to His loved ones means to be a source of support to other Bahá’ís.
b) Those who seek the knowledge of God: in this perspective, to be a river of life eternal to His loved ones means to teach.
c) Qualities within us that are God-like. In this perspective, to be a river of life eternal to His loved ones means to nurture those God-like qualities.
and be not of those who doubt.62be not of those who doubt
a) Don’t doubt My assistance to you in this regard.
b) Don’t doubt that this is the mission I have given you.
c) Don’t doubt that your self-development is the purpose of your lives.
d) In pp. 243-244 Gurinsky argues that “be not of those who doubt” could be applied to other verses of Tablet, and indeed he does so.
e) To not have doubt relates to certitude, a key concept in the Bahá’í faith.
63Excerpt
Some comments on this excerpt, starting from “O Ahmad!”:
a) Guidance on the intention and attitude Ahmad should have when teaching the Cause. (p. 181)
b) Note that, in the Book of Certitude, Bahá’u’lláh “links the symbolism of the terms ‘fire’ and ‘river’ with the creative power of the Word of God. He says that the ‘river’ is the ‘river of divine knowledge’ and the term ‘fire’ means the fire of divine wisdom.” (Gurinsky, p. 236).
c) Flame of fire and river of life also imply that we must share the teaching of Bahá’u’lláh in their pure form (p. 236).

And if thou art overtaken by affliction in My path, or degradation for My sake, be not thou troubled thereby.64be not thou troubled thereby
a) Because tests are actually good for us.
b) Because it is through ordeal and opposition that the religion of God advances.
c) This is also advising us that we may expect to encounter afflictions – but we shouldn’t be troubled.
d) Kolstoe: “Affliction and degradation are common in the teaching field. It is easy to say, ‘Don’t let it bother you.’ This is something else that is easier said than done. However, not to be troubled is a command. It i s not to be taken lightly. An effective way to defeat n negative thoughts is to turn attention away from the difficulties, and, ‘Rely upon God, thy God and the Lord of thy fathers’ – a reminder that God has been a solace for generations, even eons, and is still sufficient unto us. Everyone must decide for themselves how to switch from the negative to the positive, but help is assured.”

Rely upon God, thy God and the Lord of thy fathers. For the people are wandering in the paths of delusion,65paths of delusion
Implication: we must help such people (especially in light of the fact that He Himself is in prison, as He twice reminds us in the Tablet).
bereft of discernment to see God with their own eyes, or hear His Melody with their own ears. Thus have We found them, as thou also dost witness.

Thus have their superstitions become veils between them and their own hearts and kept them from the path of God, the Exalted, the Great.

Be thou assured in thyself66Be thou assured in thyself
a) In pp. 257-258, Gurinsky states: “Bahá’u’lláh’s appeal is in reality a command (…) and expresses a fundamental spiritual principle: the purpose of our lives is to know and to love God. To truly know and love Him, we must become assured of His love and care for us. The more confident we become of God’s unfailing assistance in our daily lives, the greater will be our devotion and love for Him.”
b) We should be assured since if we turn to Him, He will assist us.
that verily, he who turns away from this Beauty hath also turned away from the Messengers of the past67he who turns away from this Beauty hath also turned away from the Messengers of the past
Expression of the Covenant of God.
and showeth pride towards God from all eternity to all eternity.

Learn well68Learn well
In p. 265, Gurinsky states: “Bahá’u’lláh tells us to ‘learn well this Tablet’. The Arabic from which ‘learn well’ has been translated is aḥfaḍ, which literally means ‘memorize’ and which also means ‘preserve’ or ‘protect’.” In footnote 518, Todd Lawson adds: “Aḥfaḍ is also used in the form Ḥafiḍ (which is also the name of the famous poet Hafez) to describe a person who has memorized the entire Qur’án. the idea is that the Qur’án is protected in the hearts of the believers, since writing and writing materials were underdeveloped at the time of its revelation, and it also protects the hearts of the believers. The believer thus becomes an ’embodiment’ of the Qur’án.”
Personal note: Persian speakers who are not versed in Arabic will likely recognise that the Persian word hifḍ, used routinely and undoubtedly rooted in Arabic, means both “memorise” and “protect”.
this Tablet, O Ahmad. Chant69Chant
a) For reference, the original in Arabic is iqrá’. In footnote 516, Todd Lawson states: “It is interesting to note that iqrá’ was the very first word revealed by God to Muhammad: iqrá’ bismi rabbika (suríh 96). It is frequently translated as ‘recite’ but a better translation is ‘intone’ or ‘chant’. A professional chanter of the Qur’án is a qárí, which is derived from the same word.”
b) In footnote 524, it is stated: “This is not to imply that reading the prayer aloud is inherently superior to or will bring more reward than reading it silently. It simply defines the verbs ‘chant’ and ‘recite’. As with other aspects of prayer and meditation, it is up to each individual to determine for himself those practices which are most beneficial to him, bearing in mind these words from Bahá’u’lláh: ‘Intone, O My servant, the verses of God … that the sweetness of thy mmelody may kindle thine own soul, and attract the hearts of all men’.”
c) Kolstoe: “In a letter written in behalf of the Guardian we find, ‘As regards the chanting of Tablets…Shoghi Effendi wishes in this connection to urge the friends to avoid all forms of rigidity and uniformity in matter of worship. There is no objection to the reciting or chanting of prayers…. It should neither be required nor prohibited…. Prayer is essentially a communion between man and God and as such transcends all ritualistic forms and formulae.’ It can be inferred that, chanting, reciting, or even reading it silently, when done with sincerity is acceptable. Whatever method is used, the point is to ‘withhold not thyself therefrom’. In other words, use the prayer in your own way. And, use it often.”
d) Kolstoe: “Another implication is that, in the future, chanting will become more universal and not primarily done by those of eastern and/or Islamic heritage.”
70Two excerpts from books by Ali Nakhjavani:

In the paragraph immediately preceding the penultimate paragraph of the Tablet of Aḥmad, we read: ‘Learn well this Tablet, O Aḥmad. Chant it during thy days . . . God hath ordained for the one who chants it . . .’ and in the penultimate paragraph, we read: ‘Should one who is in affliction or grief read this Tablet . . .’. In the paragraph before the penultimate one, Bahá’u’lláh twice exhorts Aḥmad to ‘chant’ the Tablet, whereas in the penultimate paragraph, the exhortation is to ‘read’ the Tablet. For the average Persian or Arabic reader, the two ‘chants’ and the final ‘read’ are all derivatives of the root ‘to read’. However, Shoghi Effendi as Interpreter chose to translate the first occurrences of this derivative as an act of chanting. It is interesting that the two ‘chants’ occur in the paragraph where reference is made to the ‘reward of a hundred martyrs and a service in both worlds’, whereas the word ‘read’ is in connection with someone who is in affliction or grief. Could it be that chanting calls for a form of ecstatic transport and an inner sense of rapture, which would be closer to the state of surrendering our will to the Will of God?

(Ali Nakhjavani, Shoghi Effendi: The Range and Power of His Pen, p. 72)

Q. Could you please elaborate on the significance of the word ‘chant’ used in the Tablet of Aḥmad? Does this mean that we should always try to chant the Tablet, even if we are reading it in a language other than Arabic or Persian?

A. The word ‘chant’ that Shoghi Effendi has used here is, in my opinion, an expression of ecstasy, of rapture, of spiritual upliftment and exhilaration. This is my understanding. It does not necessarily mean that if you are reading it in a language other than Arabic you should burst into singing it. Far from it! I think there is an inner meaning. When we read this Tablet, it should be with a sense of spiritual excitement, ecstasy, rapture, happiness and joy. All the martyrs, when they went to their field of martyrdom, did so with great joy. They did it for the sake of Bahá’u’lláh, as an act of love. This is the point, not that you should suddenly burst into singing that particular paragraph or that you should chant the entire Tablet. Basically, when we read it we should be in that condition of spiritual attunement to the music of the Kingdom. This is when you surrender your will to the Will of God. When you read the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh about the meaning of martyrdom, He says that there are two types of martyrdom, physical martyrdom and spiritual martyrdom. Physical martyrdom is very clear. Spiritual martyrdom, He says, is when you submit, surrender, and you subordinate your will to the Will of God. This attitude of detachment – from your own wishes, from your own will, from your own preferences, in favour of the Will of God, whatever may be His good-pleasure, is what represents true spiritual martyrdom. If you are able to surrender your will to the Will of God, you have attained the condition of supreme martyrdom. You are then detached and you are happy about your detachment. You are freeing your soul from the attachments of this world and you are happy.

(Ali Nakhjavani, Shoghi Effendi: The Range and Power of His Pen, p. 82)
it during thy days and withhold not thyself therefrom.71withhold not thyself therefrom
Implies that we should not wait for difficulties to read the Tablet. Indeed, “All the evidence suggests that the Tablet itself is one of Bahá’u’lláh’s special bounties” (p. 264). “Whoever studies the Tablet earnestly and ‘with unquestioning faith and confidence’ will find many clear messages from Bahá’u’lláh.” (p. 265)
For verily, God hath ordained for the one who chants it, the reward of a hundred72hundred
Why the reward of a hundred martyrs?
a) “The answer may be that this is the pure bounty of God. The scriptures indicate that God often rewards one act of valued service a hundredfold.” (p. 267)
b) It may be a signal that, through reading the Tablet, the fruits of the life of anyone chanting it will be magnified one hundredfold.
martyrs73martyrs
a) Re-stating to Ahmad that the path of martyrdom was not the mission he was being given. (p. 182)
b) Indication that we do not need to become martyrs in order to receive their reward.
c) Why such a reward? “It may well have been the imperative needs of the teaching work that merited this reward.” (p. 266)
d) Martyrs are rewarded with the presence of their Beloved. This Tablet, through its invitation to “choose the path” to God, offers precisely that reward (“mercy from Our presence”).
e) Indication that, if Ahmad (or indeed any of us, since the promise is for “the one who chants” the Tablet, not just for Ahmad) arises to serve, God will inspire him with the courage and strength of martyrs.
f) Note that Bahá’u’lláh does not promise the station of martyrs but rather their reward. This is an important distinction.
g) Gurinsky argues that, to receive this reward, we would need to fulfill what he describes as 4 conditions outlined in this paragraph: to ‘learn well this Tablet’, to not ‘withhold’ ourselves from it, to ‘chant’ it, and to be ‘grateful’.
h) Kolstoe: “Another possibility is that the reward for chanting this Tablet is that one hundred martyrs may be assigned to help you”. Kolstoe goes on to explore this idea over a few paragraphs.
and a service in both worlds. These favors have We bestowed upon thee as a bounty on Our part and a mercy from Our presence, that thou mayest be of those who are grateful.74grateful
a) See the above note on “bounties”, for a discussion of how all-enveloping His bounties are. If this is the case, then we can accept those bounties and be grateful. In the West we have been trained to show humility by declining favours, but this does not apply to God’s bounties. We should submit to His grace and gratefully accept the bounties. (p. 205).
b) “We can best demonstrate the sincerity of our love for Him and our gratitude for His endless bounties by striving to obey His laws and teachings and by dedicating our lives to the service of His sacred Cause.” (p. 276).

By God! Should one who is in affliction or grief read this Tablet with absolute75absolute
a) This word is daunting for many of us. But, if we know that we can not perfect any given virtue, why would sincerity be an exception? Perhaps, then, the term “absolute” has alternative meanings in this context. The original word is mubín. In footnote 539, Todd Lawson states that this word is “usually translated as ‘clear’, ‘evident’, ‘obvious’, ‘patent’, ‘final,’ or ‘irrevocable’. It might also be translated as undeniable. The usual word for absolute is mutlaq, which is used in philosophy and so on. Mubín has a more “human” and existential “feel”.
b) It may then be related to our relationship with Bahá’u’lláh, practising confiding in Him, trusting and relying on Him.
c) It may also be related with absolute need – turning to Bahá’u’lláh in times of despair (but not only in these times).
sincerity,76sincerity
In footnote 539, Todd Lawson states: “Sincerity is sidq, frequently translated as ‘truthfulness’. It could also mean ‘faithfulness’ or ‘with integrity’. Interestingly, ‘sincere’ comes the Latin for ‘clean’ or ‘pure’, meaning ‘without wax’ [sine cera]. This refers to the practices of Roman statue repairers. The dishonest ones used wax, the honest ones used ‘no wax’ (sincere).”
God will77God will …
A three-fold promise.
a) This significant promise of divine assistance “draws us to the Tablet of Ahmad like a magnet” (p. 278). Personal note: this “magnetism” may indeed be, in itself, one reason behind this promise, a means to attract us to the Tablet and enable us to reap its benefits
b) The order and sequence of this three-fold promise may be significant. It may suggest a successive process. “Bahá’u’lláh appears to be suggesting a specific approach to spiritual problem-solving. This passage suggests that Bahá’u’lláh is telling us that we must first gain control over our own emotions and mental state. This frees us to figure out what the real problem is and take appropriate action.” (p. 280) As a personal note: in these pages, Gurinsky elaborates in a very appealing way on this idea, describing how these 3 steps are within our power (with divine assistance) and elegantly tying it in with the idea of “Be thou assured in thyself”.
c) As we know, tests have a purifying function and they help us develop (in p. 290 Gurinsky makes an interesting connection between the “gold” that tests man and comforts in general).. As such it is reasonable to assume that, out of His love for us, He will sometimes immediately remove our afflictions and sometimes not. It we feel that our afflictions have not been removed it does not necessarily mean that He is not responding to our prayer. “[I]f the test is God’s gift to us, then it is our attitude towards the test that will determine its benefit (…). The only true answer to ‘Why me?’ is that God loves us.” (pp. 291-292). Gurinsky goes on to make a number of interesting comments related to dealing with tests.
dispel his sadness, solve his difficulties and remove his afflictions.

Verily, He is the Merciful, the Compassionate.78the Merciful, the Compassionate
a) The mention of these particular names of God immediately after His promise of assistance in tests would not appear to be accidental.
b) Kolstoe: “This is an especially appropriate conclusion for a teaching tablet, because, Bahá’u’lláh said, ‘If it be Our pleasure We shall render the Cause victorious through the power of a single word from Our presence….however…We have ordained that complete victory should be achieved through speech and utterance, that Our servants throughout the earth may thereby become the recipients of divine good. This is but a token of God’s bounty vouchsafed unto them.’ Thus, He reminds Ahmad and all of us, that teaching is a gift out of His mercy and compassion.”
Praise be to God, the Lord of all the worlds.79the Lord of all the worlds
a) There are statements by Imáms that the letter B, the opening letter of the Qur’án, in Arabic, “B means Bahá’u’lláh”. There is a great similarity between these opening verses of the Qur’án:

“In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful. Praise be to God, Lord of the worlds! The compassionate, the merciful! King of the day of reckoning!”

and the opening and closing lines of the Tablet of Ahmad:

“He is the King (…) Verily, He is the Merciful, the Compassionate. Praise be to God, the Lord of all the worlds.”

The opening súrih of the Qur’án is called the “Mother of the Book”, and the Báb declared that “The Lord of the Day of Reckoning (notice the similar wording to the Qur’án) will be manifested at the end of Váhid (19) and the beginning of eighty (1280 A.H.).”

With the closing line of the Tablet of Ahmad, “Bahá’u’lláh is telling us that He is the King of the day of reckoning promised by Muhammad and by the Báb.” (p. 301)

b) Kolstoe: The Tablet concludes linking the petty problems you and I have, the wellbeing of all humanity, even the inconceivable vastness of the ever-expanding universe, with the phrase: ‘Praise be to God, the Lord of all the worlds’.”

Bahá’u’lláh


Final note

As useful as the above analysis may be, it is but a limited intellectual exercise.

One should not feel overwhelmed by the abundant (and complex) possible interpretations. Indeed, it is evident that all these interpretations do not even begin to encompass the Creative Word, and the myriad meanings contained therein.

We should keep in mind these words of Shoghi Effendi (emphasis added):

“These daily obligatory prayers, together with a few other specific ones, such as the Healing Prayer, the Tablet of Ahmad, have been invested by Bahá’u’lláh with a special potency and significance, and should therefore be accepted as such and be recited by the believers with unquestioned faith and confidence, that through them they may enter into a much closer communion with God, and identify themselves more fully with His Laws and precepts.”

  • 1
    He
    a) God
    b) Bahá’u’lláh
    c) Báb
  • 2
    Lo
    The word “calls attention to an amazing sight”.
  • 3
    Nightingale of Paradise
    Ahmad himself referred to the tablet as “The Tablet of the Nightingale of Paradise” (p. 8).

    a) Bahá’u’lláh.
    b) the Báb.
    c) Voice of the spirit of God.
    d) Allusion to the nightingale that sacrifices itself on the altar of love.
    e) Notice that nightingales are known both for sweetness and for how insistently they sing.
  • 4
    Nightingale of Paradise singeth upon the twigs of the Tree of Eternity
    a) Allusion to a Divine Springtime following a long winter.
    b) Assertion that Bahá’u’lláh is the promised fruit of the tree of divine Revelation (p. 40).
  • 5
    twigs
    The Arabic word for twigs is afnán, a word also used to designate the relatives of the Báb. This a) lends further weight to the idea of the Báb as the Nightingale and b) implies the relation of succession between the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh.
    Kolstoe writes: “Twigs is plural. How can one Nightingale be on more than one twig at a time?”. He suggests that “when a believer uses direct quotations from Bahá’u’lláh, it has the effect of being the voice of the Nightingale singing from whatever ‘twig’ – or place – those Sacred Words are uttered”, going on to highlight the importance of quoting directly from the Writings when teaching the Cause.
  • 6
    Tree of Eternity
    a) Variation of “divine Lote-Tree”, “Satradu’l-Muntahá” and the “Tree of Divine Revelation”, which are references to the Manifestation and the Revelation.
    b) Notice also the analogy with Burning Bush, or the sacred Bodhi Tree at which Buddha was given supreme enlightenment. Page 39 provides other references to trees of various kinds in various religions’ holy writings.
    c) Indication that the tree of divine Revelation is the Nightingale’s true home.
    d) The eternal covenant of God.
  • 7
    holy and sweet melodies
    a) Allusion to significance of Bahá’u’lláh’s divinely revealed verses.
    b) The expression of a melody implies the complementary function of listening to the melody. He is counselling us to listen to the sweetness of the melody and advising us to recognise its divinity.
  • 8
    melodies
    a) Proclamation of Bahá’u’lláh’s mission
    b) Revelation of divine verses
  • 9
    proclaiming, calling, informing, guiding
    Kolstoe suggests that this series can also be a four-step process.
  • 10
    sincere ones
    a) Those who recognise Bahá’u’lláh
    b) Appeal to the followers of the Báb
  • 11
    glad tidings
    a) Glad tidings of the coming of the Promised One.
    b) Proclamation that Bahá’u’lláh is alive and well.
    c) Statement that, despite physical distance, Bahá’u’lláh is very near to Ahmad and to each of us.
    d) Alludes to story of Joseph in the Hebrew Bible and in the Qur’án.
    e) the Báb is referred to as the ‘giver of glad tidings’.
  • 12
    a) Inception of the Kingdom of God on Earth (p. 49).
    b) Allusion to prophecies in the Qur’án, the New Testament and the Hebrew Bible – and of their fulfillment through the coming of Bahá’u’lláh.
  • 13
    believers in the Divine Unity
    Muslims.

    Note that Chapter 14 discusses this expression, suggesting that it can refer to Muslims as well as to Babís. However, on page xix of the introduction, Lawson states that it is probably not reasonable to associate this expression with Babís, pointing out that, in the original, this expression is al-muwahhidún, and that muwahhid is a term frequently used to refer to “true Muslims”.
  • 14
    Divine Unity
    Implies the recognition of the essential unity of all the Messengers and Prophets of God and also between God and His Manifestation. In turn, this implies that the actions of the Manifestation are aligned with God’s will, which implies that believing in the Divine Unity is related to recognising the Manifestation as the source of all good.
  • 15
    court
    Entering into a court implies a King, and that we enter it with humility, submission, and obedience. Acceptance on His part is implied. It is significant that He Himself is inviting us into the court.
  • 16
    Generous One
    a) Bahá’u’lláh (the Báb also describes Bahá’u’lláh as the Generous).
    b) Presence of God. Bahá’u’lláh says that “No theme hath been more emphatically asserted in the holy scriptures” than “the reality of ‘attainment unto the divine Presence’.”
    c) Nearness to God (the word ‘presence’ is translated from the Arabic qurb, which means nearness).
    d) Re-statement that the followers of the Báb should recognise Bahá’u’lláh.
  • 17
    severed ones
    a) This does not have negative connotations but positive ones. It refers to detachment from all but Him.
    b) It’s worth noting that, like other spiritual qualities, severance is not an “all-or-nothing” concept.
    c) Bahá’u’lláh mentions “the sincere ones”, “the believers”, “the severed ones” and “the lovers”. These may be different groups of people or a single group of people. In this latter sense, these qualities may represent a spiritual progression.
  • 18
    the King, the Glorious, the Peerless
    a) Báb (since He told His followers to expect the coming of Him Whom God shall make manifest).
    b) These three terms can also signify a sequence of successive Manifestations: the Báb, Bahá’u’lláh, and He who will follow Bahá’u’lláh.
  • 19
    lovers
    The concept of love is closely connected to the concept of sacrifice. Thus, the “lovers” should expect to make sacrifices. Sacrifice may well be the sign of love. Through making sacrifices, He guides us to the “seat of sanctity”.
  • 20
    seat of sanctity
    a) The original, maq’ad al-quds, may well be alluding to the “seat of truth” (maq’ad sidq) described in the Qur’án, in which one would find oneself in the presence of the “potent King”. This is another sign of Bahá’u’lláh’s station, particularly relevant for a Muslim audience.
    b) Human heart. Under this interpretation, the heart must be kept “pure”. This ties into the idea of the Manifestation as a vehicle for our sanctification. In this sense, when He says He is “guiding” the lovers, He is stating that He is fulfilling His duty.
    c) The Covenant.
  • 21
    this resplendent Beauty
    This term has a linguistic connection to a verse in the Qur’án, implying that Bahá’u’lláh fulfills the prophecy contained in that verse: He is the one who will appear after the second trumpet blast and illumine the whole earth with His light and glory.
  • 22
    Excerpt
    This excerpt, starting from “glad tidings”, is replete with allusions to specific Islamic verses and points to particular verses in the Writings of the Báb (p. 46)
  • 23
    Most Great Beauty
    Clear and unequivocal assertion of His station.
  • 24
    truth shall be distinguished from error
    a) The Manifestation is the very standard that distinguishes between the two.
    b) Christ promised the coming of Bahá’u’lláh in these words: “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth” and Bahá’u’lláh, in His Tablet to the Christians, declares “Verily, He Who is the Spirit of Truth is come to guide you unto all truth”.
  • 25
    the wisdom of every command shall be tested
    a) The Arabic is precisely the same as the 4th verse of the 44th súrih of the Qur’án. I.e., Bahá’u’lláh is quoting from the Qur’án. (footnote 219).
    b) One meaning of this verse appears to be that God will separate the wicked from the righteous.
    c) Reference to the fact that the ultimate purpose of every previous religion has been made clear through Bahá’u’lláh’s Revelation (as per the previous sentence).
  • 26
    Tree of Life
    a) ‘Abdu’l-Bahá states “The Tree of Life, of which mention is made in the Bible, is Bahá’u’lláh”.
    b) Tree of Divine Revelation.
    c) Symbolises the appearance of the supreme Manifestation.
  • 27
    fruits of God
    a) Bahá’u’lláh affirms that “His ordinances constitute the fruits of the divine Tree”.
    b) Names and attributes of God.
    c) He is asserting that He has been empowered to reveal the names and attributes of God in a fuller measure than has occurred in the past.
    d) Implication that previous Manifestations have appeared under the umbrella of Bahá’u’lláh’s Revelation (as well as Manifestations appearing during the Bahá’í Cycle).
    e) The people who have turned their hearts to God’s Manifestation and developed their potential as a result.
    f) Can also refer to humanity as a whole – whose development will the fruit of Bahá’u’lláh’s Revelation.
    g) May also be the spiritual power of the Revelation (the power of true love, kindness, righteousness) that will recreate human hearts.
  • 28
    O Ahmad
    In this Tablet, Bahá’u’lláh is communicating with each of us through Ahmad. “Because Ahmad arose with absolute sincerity, devotion and dedication to fulfil the wishes of his Lord, he has released the power of this sacred Tablet for each one of us. As we strive in our own lives, to the best of our ability and capacity, to follow Ahmad’s example, we too reap the immeasurable benefits and bounties Bahá’u’lláh has promised in the Tablet of Ahmad and we release more of its healing power to flow out to all humankind.” (see pp. 202-204)
  • 29
    Bear thou witness
    a) Teach.
    b) In Arabic there is a connection between this expression and being a martyr – as perhaps the ultimate expression of bearing witness.

    Personal note: by directing Ahmad away from Adrianople, Bahá’u’lláh effectively directed him away from a path of persecution (and possibly martyrdom). By stating this in the Tablet, Bahá’u’lláh is possibly saying “Don’t be sad you won’t suffer persecutions with Me, there is another way you can bear witness”.
  • 30
    He is God
    a) Since He has by now clearly and unequivocally asserted His station (see p. 94), this statement may be referring to the greatness of Bahá’u’lláh’s own Manifestation (p. 96), beyond its obvious meaning. As for why Bahá’u’lláh would have referred to Himself in the third person, see the annotation for the word “Say”, in the following paragraph.
    b) Indication that this is the promised Day of God, pointing also to the ultimate triumph of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh over all opposition.
    c) In previous religions, God made allowances for humanity’s weaknesses and frailties, permitting His Faith to become divided into different sects. There appears to be a connection between this phenomenon and the fact that the important Islamic verse “There is no god but God” starts, in Arabic, with “La”, meaning “No”. In other words, the verse starts with a negation. Bahá’u’lláh explains that the “no” positioned before the word “Alláh”, or God, allowed the enemies of Muhammad to divide His Faith. In this dispensation, the negation is removed, and it is replaced by an affirmation.
    d) Source of hope and encouragement, as it implies that Bahá’u’lláh has empowered the believers to succeed in their struggle to become spiritual beings.
    e) Assertion that Bahá’u’lláh (and He alone) is the One whose appearance fulfills the prophecies of the Báb.
  • 31
    there is no God but Him
    a) Close connection to the central Islamic idea of tawhid (the affirmation of divine unity). By extension, He is attesting to the the truth of the Islamic Revelation.
    b) “While Ahmad was in India in search of the Promised One, he was told that if he prostrated himself and repeated the verse ‘there is no god but God’ from the Qur’án twelve thousand times, he would be guided to his heart’s desire. It is reported that Ahmad devoted himself to this task several times (…). At the time he (…) was not guided directly to the Promised One (…) He eventually returned to Persia, (…) quite disillusioned. It was much later that he was guided to the Bábí Faith and many years after that that he met Bahá’u’lláh in Baghdád and was guided by Him to recognise His true station.” In this sense, it may be that, through this excerpt in the Tablet, Bahá’u’lláh is telling Ahmad “I did hear your invocations”.
    c) Indication that there is no path to God except through His chosen Manifestation – and implication that in this dispensation God can only be known through Bahá’u’lláh.
    d) The name “Ahmad” (with which this paragraph is opened) is a variation of the name “Muhammad”. Bahá’u’lláh could thus be calling on the followers of Muhammad to recognise him.
  • 32
    He
    a) God
    b) Bahá’u’lláh (implying that He is the One that sent forth the Báb).
  • 33
    the true One from God
    a) Statement that the Báb was a Manifestation of God.
    b) Allusion to the connection between these two Manifestations.

    Kolstoe: “Bahá’u’lláh told Ahmad to teach according to what was already in the hearts of the listeners. (…) Had Ahmad been sent among the Christians, it is possible that he would have been told to validate Christ as the Son of God and the Word made flesh”.
  • 34
    to Whose commands we are all conforming
    a) Reciprocation of the homage paid to Bahá’u’lláh by the Báb, a reflection of the twin nature of their Manifestations.
    b) Indication that Manifestations exercise supreme authority over all the people of the earth.
    c) Indication that Bahá’u’lláh is fulfilling the will of the Báb by manifesting Himself (pp. 156-157 offer particularly interesting support for this interpretation).

    Personal note: this line gains a new dimension when one considers that the Tablet of Ahmad was revealed around 1865 – after Bahá’u’lláh’s public declaration. In my humble opinion, it may be a signal to the Babís of Bahá’u’lláh’s respect for the Báb – especially since, it appears, Bahá’u’lláh expected Ahmad to travel around Persia, enlisting Babís under the banner of the Bahá’í Faith.
  • 35
    Say
    Personal note as Gurinsky’s book does not appear to directly comment on the use of “Say”: from my (very limited) understanding, the Texts of past Dispensations were a transcript, if you will, of statements made by God to the Manifestation. The Qur’án, for example, is the voice of Alláh speaking to Muhammad. Which is why so many verses in the Qur’án are preceded by “Say”. Alláh is instructing Muhammad to “say” certain things to humanity. A similar device is found in the Bible: “Thus speaketh the Lord”. When we bring to mind that any text must be understood in light of the audience that it is intended for, we can examine the Tablet of Ahmad in light of a Muslim audience (predominant in Persia). This audience would’ve been accustomed to the term “Say” – as being uttered not by Muhammad, a Prophet, but by God Himself. In other words, it is God who says “Say”, no one else. By using this term “Say”, Bahá’u’lláh is invoking for Himself the station of Godhead – a very dramatic and unambiguous affirmation of His station.
  • 36
    be obedient
    Reminder of the duty, in light of the Covenant with God, to obey whatever laws are revealed by His Manifestations (and indeed to recognise the subsequent Manifestation). As we know, this is for our own good.
  • 37
    Bayán
    “Shoghi Effendi states that the Bayán ‘should be regarded primarily as a eulogy of the Promised One rather than a code of laws and ordinances’. The main purpose of the Bayán was to guide the Bábís to the recognition of Bahá’u’lláh.”
    In other words, Bahá’u’lláh is inviting the Babís (and indeed all humanity) to recognise Him.

    In Kolstoe’s book it is written that “[Ahmad] inferred from the tablet that his major task was to inform the Bábís that Bahá’u’lláh was ‘Him Whom God would make manifest’. So, he concentrated on meeting with Bábís, although he was active in teaching any and all interested seekers in all circumstances.”
  • 38
    King of the Messengers
    a) God Himself
    b) The Báb
  • 39
    Mother Book
    a) “In the Qur’án, the term ‘Mother Book’ refers to the book which is in heaven with God and through whose creative power all the holy scriptures have been generated.”
    b) Also, Bahá’u’lláh is testifying that the Báb had been prophesied in the Qur’án by Muhammad.
    c) Word of God.
    d) Assertion that the Báb is the “promised Qá’im and that, paradoxically, His Book is the source of all previous books.”
  • 40
    utter His call
    The original literally means “remind you – of something which you might have forgotten” (footnote 401).

    “Ahmad is en route to Bahá’u’lláh; Bahá’u’lláh tells him: “We are reminding you that the essence of the message is: it is up to you to follow the advice given here and if you do, this will be the true path to your Lord, even though your Lord is asking you not to visit Him.” (footnote 340).

    Gurinsky suggests that these sentences are the pivotal verses of the Tablet and that the remaining verses revolve around them.
  • 41
    unto you
    This sentence could also have been written without “unto you”. The choice to include “unto you” may reflect Bahá’u’lláh’s desire to personally reach each of us through language. “he whole Tablet is, in a very real sense, Bahá’u’lláhs call to us”.
  • 42
    prison
    Bahá’u’lláh twice mentions the fact that He is imprisoned. Why?
    a) Perhaps so that Ahmad could realise that Bahá’u’lláh did not want Ahmad to become a prisoner with Him. The paradox here is that, by going away from Bahá’u’lláh back to Baghdád, he was “choosing the path to his Lord”.
    b) By referring to a Nightingale uttering a call from prison, Bahá’u’lláh may have been signalling to Ahmad that, given that He was in prison, Ahmad was being asked to deliver His message to the people.
  • 43
    deliver this clear message
    a) Striking similarity to several verses in the Qur’án. In these verses it is (if indirectly) stated that messages are brought by Messengers. As such, Bahá’u’lláh is re-affirming His station.
    b) He is also explicitly saying that the message is clear. If it is clear, “if ye deny these verses, by what proof have ye believe in God?”
    c) The Arabic word for “clear” is derived from the same root as bayán, mubín. This term is frequently used in the Qur’án. The term bayán itself occurs three times in the Qur’án. This reinforces the connection between Bahá’u’lláh and the Islamic and the Babí Dispensations.
  • 44
    Whosoever desireth
    a) Both a warning and a promise.
    b) Emphasis that virtue is its own reward.
  • 45
    counsel
    From Isaiah 9:6: “And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
  • 46
    desireth
    Both a warning and a promise.
  • 47
    path
    The Arabic is sabíl, which also has a connotation of sacrifice. In other words, this is also an invitation to a station of sacrifice – only for whosoever desireth, though.
  • 48
    path to his Lord
    In case it is unclear: this does not mean “choose the path you think your Lord should follow” but rather “choose the path that goes towards your Lord”.
  • 49
    these verses
    Not just the Tablet of Ahmad but the entire Revelation.
  • 50
    if ye deny these verses, by what proof have ye believed in God?
    a) The juxtaposition of this statement with the “call” and “clear message” above imply that Bahá’u’lláh can not be any clearer, and acceptance is now expected.
    b) It also implies that His revealed verses are superior to all other proofs and testimonies (p. 191).
    c) Warning to the Bábís, that if they do not heed this call, they will have failed to fulfill what the Báb expected of them.
  • 51
    Produce it
    a) Assertion of the superiority of these (Divine) verses when compared to anything else.
    b) There is a Quranic background to the challenge to produce verses “like it”. In Quranic studies they are referred to as the “challenge verses” and are an important part of the Quranic message. Bahá’u’lláh is invoking these here. (footnote 385).
  • 52
    O Ahmad! (shift in tone of the Tablet)
    Gurinsky argues that, having given each individual the choice to either accept or reject this message, Bahá’u’lláh now “addresses Himself with tenderness and love to the personal guidance of the individual”. In fact, Gurinsky suggests that this excerpt opens a “second half” of the Tablet, as per the several kind and encouraging statements that follow.
  • 53
    bounties
    a) This statement implies that the bounties are all-enveloping. By not forgetting His bounties – and by remembering the bounties given to us in the past – we can become more confident about our future.
    b) Bahá’u’lláh states, elsewhere, that each soul has been endowed with the bounty of God. In this light, “Forget not My bounties” could be referring to the bounties already within each of us.
    c) Personal remark: an old saying goes “If you don’t feel as close to God as you used to, who moved?” In this light, Gurinsky suggests that “Forget not My bounties while I am absent” may be a way of Bahá’u’lláh telling us “if you ever stray away from Me, forget not My bounties – you can always come closer since I am here for you.”
  • 54
    absent
    a) Physical absence from Ahmad.
    b) Todd Lawson points out in footnote 418 that “‘While I am absent’ (ghaybatí) is one of the most powerful concepts in Shí’ísm: the absence or hiddenness (ghayba) of the Hidden Imám.”
    c) The juxtaposition of this with the “nearness” of God, referred to above, implies that the closeness of hearts and souls cannot be separated by physical distance.
    d) “[I]f we keep our inner life focused on Bahá’u’lláh, outward misfortunes and circumstances cannot affect our long term destiny, which is to be with Him in the next world” (pp. 213-214).
  • 55
    Remember My days
    a) Literal statement for Ahmad to remember the time he spent in the presence of Bahá’u’lláh (well before the revelation of this Tablet).
    b) “Tender and loving farewell message and reassurance to His trustee and devoted servant Ahmad” (pp. 222)
    c) Indication that Bahá’u’lláh’s mission (which involves being imprisoned) is different from the mission being given to Ahmad.
    All this sheds new light to the several comforting and encouraging statements made by Bahá’u’lláh in this paragraph.
  • 56
    My distress and banishment
    “The Ancient Beauty hath consented to be bound with chains that mankind may be released from its bondage, and hath accepted to be made a prisoner within this most mighty stronghold that the whole world may attain unto true liberty”. When we consider “My distress and banishment in this remote prison” in light of the above quote by Bahá’u’lláh, we are again reminded (both as individuals and as humanity) of the absolute assurance of the promise of His love and bounties.
  • 57
    so steadfast in My love
    The call to be steadfast in His love even in the face of swords of the enemies raining blows upon us and all the heavens and the earth arise against us is an indication of the constant nature of His love, that we can always rely on, regardless of what the circumstances in our lives may be like.

    Kolstoe: “This almost guarantees that when you enter the teaching field, there will be tests.”
  • 58
    heavens and the earth
    a) Quote from the Guardian: “Concerning … the meaning of passages in the Tablet of Ahmad: The figure of speech, ‘heavens’ and ‘earth’ arising against one is not to be taken literally. It means in spite of every opposition.”
    b) Gurinsky: “In the Book of Certitude Bahá’u’lláh states that the terms ‘heaven’ and ‘earth’ as uses in the scriptures have a variety of meanings. The term ‘heavens’ can refer to the religious leaders, while ‘earth’ is related to the human heart (…) In another sense, the term ‘heavens’ can apply to those in authority.” (p. 226)
    c) Gurinsky: “Because enemies are specifically mentioned [just prior], ‘all the heavens and the earth’ also implies persons other than one’s enemies.” (p. 227). Gurinsky considers that this suggests that we should keep serving the Cause even in the face of attacks from family and friends. He further suggests that we, by our own imperfect conduct, may “attack” our spiritual progress – but that Bahá’u’lláh is always ready to welcome us back and love us (“be thou so steadfast in My love”).
    d) Quote from the Guardian: “Let him not wait for any directions, or expect any special encouragement, from the elected representatives of his community, nor be deterred by any obstacles which his relatives, or fellow-citizens may be inclined to place in his path, nor mind the censure of his critics or enemies.”
    e) Kolstoe suggests that the modern lifestyle is becoming increasingly distracting: “The simpler the life-style, the less ‘earth’ is ‘rising against one’. (…) In the days of the Guardian, countless pilgrims returned quoting him as saying that Bahá’ís should simplify their lives.”
    f) Kolstoe: “The ‘heavens’ rising against us can be either direct or subtle.” He discusses how easy it is to obey a decision of an institution when we agree with it – less so when we don’t. “It is important to remember that the institutions are still embryonic and made up of people with a wide assortment of flaws. The Universal House of Justice reminded us that ‘The system is perfect, but if the instruments are imperfect we must still uphold the system, knowing God will watch over and protect His Cause, and that such conditions are only temporary and will pass away as the Cause grows and the Bahá’ís mature.’ A letter written in behalf of the Guardian states, “They have to learn to obey, even when the Assembly may be wrong, for the sake of unity.'”
    g) Kolstoe: “Moral choices between good and evil are relatively easy. A choice between two good things (…) is more difficult. (…) Ahmad provided an example. Faced with two aspects of heaven, one being in the presence of Bahá’u’lláh and the other was unfettered and immediate obedience to His command. He chose not to allow the ‘heaven’ of being with his Lord arise against the ‘heaven’ of instance, exact and complete obedience. (…) When given the choice of two worthy ways to serve the Faith, we might ask ourselves, as Ahmad surely did, ‘Which is more worthy?’ In all probability, he prayed long and hard before reaching his difficult conclusion.”
  • 59
    flame of fire
    a) In p. 229, Gurinsky writes: “Shoghi Effendi gave several interpretations of the significance of this verse. ‘The “flame of fire” in the Tablet of Ahmad,’ he wrote, ‘should be taken figuratively.’ On another occasion he stated that ‘The words “Be thou as a flame of fire to My enemies and a river of life eternal to My loved ones” should not be taken in their literal sense.’ He said that it means that we must be uncompromising in our loyalty to the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh and also emphasized that to be ‘a flame of fire to My enemies’ defines what our attitude should be towards Covenant-breaking and those who attack the Bahá’í Faith: “The ‘flame of fire’ in the Tablet of Ahmad should be taken figuratively. In other words, we must not tolerate the evil of Covenant-breakers of enemies of the Faith, but be uncompromising in our loyalty, in our exposure of them and in our defence of the Faith.””
    b) Gurinsky also addresses the thought, by some, that this may be at variance with Bahá’u’lláh’s admonition to “Consort with all men”.
    c) This excerpt adds an additional dimension to the Tablet of Ahmad (a Tablet that is so distinctively centred on teaching): the protection of the Faith.
    d) To be “on fire with the love of God.”
    e) To be “on fire with His love with an appeal to teach”.
    f) To be a beacon of guidance to all people – fire casting its light in the darkness.
    g) To be a fire burning away the enemies within – those qualities that are not God-like.
    h) Kolstoe: “In thinking about fire, when used properly it warms, gives light and a host of other positive things. Problems happen when it is abused – it is not to be trifled with.”
  • 60
    river of life eternal
    Source of spiritual life to all people, by teaching them.
  • 61
    My loved ones
    a) Those who have recognised Bahá’u’lláh: in this perspective, to be a river of life eternal to His loved ones means to be a source of support to other Bahá’ís.
    b) Those who seek the knowledge of God: in this perspective, to be a river of life eternal to His loved ones means to teach.
    c) Qualities within us that are God-like. In this perspective, to be a river of life eternal to His loved ones means to nurture those God-like qualities.
  • 62
    be not of those who doubt
    a) Don’t doubt My assistance to you in this regard.
    b) Don’t doubt that this is the mission I have given you.
    c) Don’t doubt that your self-development is the purpose of your lives.
    d) In pp. 243-244 Gurinsky argues that “be not of those who doubt” could be applied to other verses of Tablet, and indeed he does so.
    e) To not have doubt relates to certitude, a key concept in the Bahá’í faith.
  • 63
    Excerpt
    Some comments on this excerpt, starting from “O Ahmad!”:
    a) Guidance on the intention and attitude Ahmad should have when teaching the Cause. (p. 181)
    b) Note that, in the Book of Certitude, Bahá’u’lláh “links the symbolism of the terms ‘fire’ and ‘river’ with the creative power of the Word of God. He says that the ‘river’ is the ‘river of divine knowledge’ and the term ‘fire’ means the fire of divine wisdom.” (Gurinsky, p. 236).
    c) Flame of fire and river of life also imply that we must share the teaching of Bahá’u’lláh in their pure form (p. 236).
  • 64
    be not thou troubled thereby
    a) Because tests are actually good for us.
    b) Because it is through ordeal and opposition that the religion of God advances.
    c) This is also advising us that we may expect to encounter afflictions – but we shouldn’t be troubled.
    d) Kolstoe: “Affliction and degradation are common in the teaching field. It is easy to say, ‘Don’t let it bother you.’ This is something else that is easier said than done. However, not to be troubled is a command. It i s not to be taken lightly. An effective way to defeat n negative thoughts is to turn attention away from the difficulties, and, ‘Rely upon God, thy God and the Lord of thy fathers’ – a reminder that God has been a solace for generations, even eons, and is still sufficient unto us. Everyone must decide for themselves how to switch from the negative to the positive, but help is assured.”
  • 65
    paths of delusion
    Implication: we must help such people (especially in light of the fact that He Himself is in prison, as He twice reminds us in the Tablet).
  • 66
    Be thou assured in thyself
    a) In pp. 257-258, Gurinsky states: “Bahá’u’lláh’s appeal is in reality a command (…) and expresses a fundamental spiritual principle: the purpose of our lives is to know and to love God. To truly know and love Him, we must become assured of His love and care for us. The more confident we become of God’s unfailing assistance in our daily lives, the greater will be our devotion and love for Him.”
    b) We should be assured since if we turn to Him, He will assist us.
  • 67
    he who turns away from this Beauty hath also turned away from the Messengers of the past
    Expression of the Covenant of God.
  • 68
    Learn well
    In p. 265, Gurinsky states: “Bahá’u’lláh tells us to ‘learn well this Tablet’. The Arabic from which ‘learn well’ has been translated is aḥfaḍ, which literally means ‘memorize’ and which also means ‘preserve’ or ‘protect’.” In footnote 518, Todd Lawson adds: “Aḥfaḍ is also used in the form Ḥafiḍ (which is also the name of the famous poet Hafez) to describe a person who has memorized the entire Qur’án. the idea is that the Qur’án is protected in the hearts of the believers, since writing and writing materials were underdeveloped at the time of its revelation, and it also protects the hearts of the believers. The believer thus becomes an ’embodiment’ of the Qur’án.”
    Personal note: Persian speakers who are not versed in Arabic will likely recognise that the Persian word hifḍ, used routinely and undoubtedly rooted in Arabic, means both “memorise” and “protect”.
  • 69
    Chant
    a) For reference, the original in Arabic is iqrá’. In footnote 516, Todd Lawson states: “It is interesting to note that iqrá’ was the very first word revealed by God to Muhammad: iqrá’ bismi rabbika (suríh 96). It is frequently translated as ‘recite’ but a better translation is ‘intone’ or ‘chant’. A professional chanter of the Qur’án is a qárí, which is derived from the same word.”
    b) In footnote 524, it is stated: “This is not to imply that reading the prayer aloud is inherently superior to or will bring more reward than reading it silently. It simply defines the verbs ‘chant’ and ‘recite’. As with other aspects of prayer and meditation, it is up to each individual to determine for himself those practices which are most beneficial to him, bearing in mind these words from Bahá’u’lláh: ‘Intone, O My servant, the verses of God … that the sweetness of thy mmelody may kindle thine own soul, and attract the hearts of all men’.”
    c) Kolstoe: “In a letter written in behalf of the Guardian we find, ‘As regards the chanting of Tablets…Shoghi Effendi wishes in this connection to urge the friends to avoid all forms of rigidity and uniformity in matter of worship. There is no objection to the reciting or chanting of prayers…. It should neither be required nor prohibited…. Prayer is essentially a communion between man and God and as such transcends all ritualistic forms and formulae.’ It can be inferred that, chanting, reciting, or even reading it silently, when done with sincerity is acceptable. Whatever method is used, the point is to ‘withhold not thyself therefrom’. In other words, use the prayer in your own way. And, use it often.”
    d) Kolstoe: “Another implication is that, in the future, chanting will become more universal and not primarily done by those of eastern and/or Islamic heritage.”
  • 70
    Two excerpts from books by Ali Nakhjavani:

    In the paragraph immediately preceding the penultimate paragraph of the Tablet of Aḥmad, we read: ‘Learn well this Tablet, O Aḥmad. Chant it during thy days . . . God hath ordained for the one who chants it . . .’ and in the penultimate paragraph, we read: ‘Should one who is in affliction or grief read this Tablet . . .’. In the paragraph before the penultimate one, Bahá’u’lláh twice exhorts Aḥmad to ‘chant’ the Tablet, whereas in the penultimate paragraph, the exhortation is to ‘read’ the Tablet. For the average Persian or Arabic reader, the two ‘chants’ and the final ‘read’ are all derivatives of the root ‘to read’. However, Shoghi Effendi as Interpreter chose to translate the first occurrences of this derivative as an act of chanting. It is interesting that the two ‘chants’ occur in the paragraph where reference is made to the ‘reward of a hundred martyrs and a service in both worlds’, whereas the word ‘read’ is in connection with someone who is in affliction or grief. Could it be that chanting calls for a form of ecstatic transport and an inner sense of rapture, which would be closer to the state of surrendering our will to the Will of God?

    (Ali Nakhjavani, Shoghi Effendi: The Range and Power of His Pen, p. 72)

    Q. Could you please elaborate on the significance of the word ‘chant’ used in the Tablet of Aḥmad? Does this mean that we should always try to chant the Tablet, even if we are reading it in a language other than Arabic or Persian?

    A. The word ‘chant’ that Shoghi Effendi has used here is, in my opinion, an expression of ecstasy, of rapture, of spiritual upliftment and exhilaration. This is my understanding. It does not necessarily mean that if you are reading it in a language other than Arabic you should burst into singing it. Far from it! I think there is an inner meaning. When we read this Tablet, it should be with a sense of spiritual excitement, ecstasy, rapture, happiness and joy. All the martyrs, when they went to their field of martyrdom, did so with great joy. They did it for the sake of Bahá’u’lláh, as an act of love. This is the point, not that you should suddenly burst into singing that particular paragraph or that you should chant the entire Tablet. Basically, when we read it we should be in that condition of spiritual attunement to the music of the Kingdom. This is when you surrender your will to the Will of God. When you read the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh about the meaning of martyrdom, He says that there are two types of martyrdom, physical martyrdom and spiritual martyrdom. Physical martyrdom is very clear. Spiritual martyrdom, He says, is when you submit, surrender, and you subordinate your will to the Will of God. This attitude of detachment – from your own wishes, from your own will, from your own preferences, in favour of the Will of God, whatever may be His good-pleasure, is what represents true spiritual martyrdom. If you are able to surrender your will to the Will of God, you have attained the condition of supreme martyrdom. You are then detached and you are happy about your detachment. You are freeing your soul from the attachments of this world and you are happy.

    (Ali Nakhjavani, Shoghi Effendi: The Range and Power of His Pen, p. 82)
  • 71
    withhold not thyself therefrom
    Implies that we should not wait for difficulties to read the Tablet. Indeed, “All the evidence suggests that the Tablet itself is one of Bahá’u’lláh’s special bounties” (p. 264). “Whoever studies the Tablet earnestly and ‘with unquestioning faith and confidence’ will find many clear messages from Bahá’u’lláh.” (p. 265)
  • 72
    hundred
    Why the reward of a hundred martyrs?
    a) “The answer may be that this is the pure bounty of God. The scriptures indicate that God often rewards one act of valued service a hundredfold.” (p. 267)
    b) It may be a signal that, through reading the Tablet, the fruits of the life of anyone chanting it will be magnified one hundredfold.
  • 73
    martyrs
    a) Re-stating to Ahmad that the path of martyrdom was not the mission he was being given. (p. 182)
    b) Indication that we do not need to become martyrs in order to receive their reward.
    c) Why such a reward? “It may well have been the imperative needs of the teaching work that merited this reward.” (p. 266)
    d) Martyrs are rewarded with the presence of their Beloved. This Tablet, through its invitation to “choose the path” to God, offers precisely that reward (“mercy from Our presence”).
    e) Indication that, if Ahmad (or indeed any of us, since the promise is for “the one who chants” the Tablet, not just for Ahmad) arises to serve, God will inspire him with the courage and strength of martyrs.
    f) Note that Bahá’u’lláh does not promise the station of martyrs but rather their reward. This is an important distinction.
    g) Gurinsky argues that, to receive this reward, we would need to fulfill what he describes as 4 conditions outlined in this paragraph: to ‘learn well this Tablet’, to not ‘withhold’ ourselves from it, to ‘chant’ it, and to be ‘grateful’.
    h) Kolstoe: “Another possibility is that the reward for chanting this Tablet is that one hundred martyrs may be assigned to help you”. Kolstoe goes on to explore this idea over a few paragraphs.
  • 74
    grateful
    a) See the above note on “bounties”, for a discussion of how all-enveloping His bounties are. If this is the case, then we can accept those bounties and be grateful. In the West we have been trained to show humility by declining favours, but this does not apply to God’s bounties. We should submit to His grace and gratefully accept the bounties. (p. 205).
    b) “We can best demonstrate the sincerity of our love for Him and our gratitude for His endless bounties by striving to obey His laws and teachings and by dedicating our lives to the service of His sacred Cause.” (p. 276).
  • 75
    absolute
    a) This word is daunting for many of us. But, if we know that we can not perfect any given virtue, why would sincerity be an exception? Perhaps, then, the term “absolute” has alternative meanings in this context. The original word is mubín. In footnote 539, Todd Lawson states that this word is “usually translated as ‘clear’, ‘evident’, ‘obvious’, ‘patent’, ‘final,’ or ‘irrevocable’. It might also be translated as undeniable. The usual word for absolute is mutlaq, which is used in philosophy and so on. Mubín has a more “human” and existential “feel”.
    b) It may then be related to our relationship with Bahá’u’lláh, practising confiding in Him, trusting and relying on Him.
    c) It may also be related with absolute need – turning to Bahá’u’lláh in times of despair (but not only in these times).
  • 76
    sincerity
    In footnote 539, Todd Lawson states: “Sincerity is sidq, frequently translated as ‘truthfulness’. It could also mean ‘faithfulness’ or ‘with integrity’. Interestingly, ‘sincere’ comes the Latin for ‘clean’ or ‘pure’, meaning ‘without wax’ [sine cera]. This refers to the practices of Roman statue repairers. The dishonest ones used wax, the honest ones used ‘no wax’ (sincere).”
  • 77
    God will …
    A three-fold promise.
    a) This significant promise of divine assistance “draws us to the Tablet of Ahmad like a magnet” (p. 278). Personal note: this “magnetism” may indeed be, in itself, one reason behind this promise, a means to attract us to the Tablet and enable us to reap its benefits
    b) The order and sequence of this three-fold promise may be significant. It may suggest a successive process. “Bahá’u’lláh appears to be suggesting a specific approach to spiritual problem-solving. This passage suggests that Bahá’u’lláh is telling us that we must first gain control over our own emotions and mental state. This frees us to figure out what the real problem is and take appropriate action.” (p. 280) As a personal note: in these pages, Gurinsky elaborates in a very appealing way on this idea, describing how these 3 steps are within our power (with divine assistance) and elegantly tying it in with the idea of “Be thou assured in thyself”.
    c) As we know, tests have a purifying function and they help us develop (in p. 290 Gurinsky makes an interesting connection between the “gold” that tests man and comforts in general).. As such it is reasonable to assume that, out of His love for us, He will sometimes immediately remove our afflictions and sometimes not. It we feel that our afflictions have not been removed it does not necessarily mean that He is not responding to our prayer. “[I]f the test is God’s gift to us, then it is our attitude towards the test that will determine its benefit (…). The only true answer to ‘Why me?’ is that God loves us.” (pp. 291-292). Gurinsky goes on to make a number of interesting comments related to dealing with tests.
  • 78
    the Merciful, the Compassionate
    a) The mention of these particular names of God immediately after His promise of assistance in tests would not appear to be accidental.
    b) Kolstoe: “This is an especially appropriate conclusion for a teaching tablet, because, Bahá’u’lláh said, ‘If it be Our pleasure We shall render the Cause victorious through the power of a single word from Our presence….however…We have ordained that complete victory should be achieved through speech and utterance, that Our servants throughout the earth may thereby become the recipients of divine good. This is but a token of God’s bounty vouchsafed unto them.’ Thus, He reminds Ahmad and all of us, that teaching is a gift out of His mercy and compassion.”
  • 79
    the Lord of all the worlds
    a) There are statements by Imáms that the letter B, the opening letter of the Qur’án, in Arabic, “B means Bahá’u’lláh”. There is a great similarity between these opening verses of the Qur’án:

    “In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful. Praise be to God, Lord of the worlds! The compassionate, the merciful! King of the day of reckoning!”

    and the opening and closing lines of the Tablet of Ahmad:

    “He is the King (…) Verily, He is the Merciful, the Compassionate. Praise be to God, the Lord of all the worlds.”

    The opening súrih of the Qur’án is called the “Mother of the Book”, and the Báb declared that “The Lord of the Day of Reckoning (notice the similar wording to the Qur’án) will be manifested at the end of Váhid (19) and the beginning of eighty (1280 A.H.).”

    With the closing line of the Tablet of Ahmad, “Bahá’u’lláh is telling us that He is the King of the day of reckoning promised by Muhammad and by the Báb.” (p. 301)

    b) Kolstoe: The Tablet concludes linking the petty problems you and I have, the wellbeing of all humanity, even the inconceivable vastness of the ever-expanding universe, with the phrase: ‘Praise be to God, the Lord of all the worlds’.”