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Abstract:
Tablet in honor of Imam Husayn, the prince of martyrs, with whom Baha'u'llah identified in a mystical connection.

Tablet of Visitation for Imám Husayn

by Bahá'u'lláh

translated by Khazeh Fananapazir.
edited by Mehdi Wolf.
2002
originally revealed as "Lawh-i-Zíyárat-Namih-i-Imám Husayn".
first written or published 1891

1. About

In God Passes By, the Beloved Guardian refers to a Tablet of Visitation[1][2] revealed by Bahá'u'lláh for the Imám Husayn[3]:

    Nor should a review of the outstanding features of Bahá'u'lláh's writings during the latter part of His banishment to 'Akká fail to include a reference to the Tablet of Visitation[4] revealed in honor of the Imám Husayn, whose praises He celebrates in glowing language (Shoghi Effendi: God Passes By, p. 219)
Also, there are these references to the Imám Husayn:

    His Holiness the Exalted Báb dreamt that the Blood of the Imám Husayn touched and sanctified His lips[5] (Shoghi Effendi: Messages to America, p. 100)
The precedence of the name Husayn over ‘Alí does establish the greatness of Imám Husayn.

    Imám Husayn has, as attested by the Íqán,[6] been endowed with special grace and power among the Imáms,[7] hence the mystical reference to Bahá'u'lláh as the return of Imám Husayn,[8] meaning the Revelation in Bahá'u'lláh of those attributes with which Imám Husayn had been specifically endowed. (Lights of Guidance, p. 497)
In Gleanings, Bahá'u'lláh identifies Himself with the Imám Husayn Who was martyred on the plain of Karbilá.[9]

    How bitter the humiliations heaped upon Me, in a subsequent age, on the plain of Karbilá! How lonely did I feel amidst Thy people! To what a state of helplessness I was reduced in that land! Unsatisfied with such indignities, My persecutors decapitated Me, and, carrying aloft My head from land to land, paraded it before the gaze of the unbelieving multitude, and deposited it on the seats of the perverse and faithless.[10] (Bahá'u'lláh: Gleanings, XXXIX, p. 89)[11]
- K. Fanapazir, 2002

2. Translation

This is a Tablet of Visitation[12][13] revealed from the Supreme Horizon by My All-Glorious Pen in honour of His Holiness, the Prince of Martyrs, Husayn, the son of ‘Alí,[14] may the spirit of all else but Him be a sacrifice unto Him!

He is the Comforter, the Consoler, the Lord of Utterance, the All-Knowing!

God testifieth that there is no God but Him! And He that hath appeared[15] is the One promised in all the Books and sacred Scrolls,[16] the One remembered in the hearts of all those near unto God and the sincere ones. Through Him, the Tree of utterance hath raised its call in the kingdom of divine recognition[17] saying:

O Concourse of all Faiths![18] I swear by the All Merciful! The days of sorrow[19] have come upon Us, inasmuch as in these days there hath befallen the Dawning-place of God's proof and the Dayspring of His evidence that which hath caused the lamentations of those resident beneath the canopy of glory in the all highest paradise to be raised. It hath caused wailing in the tabernacle of grace in the supreme heaven.

God testifieth that there is no God but He,[20] and He that hath appeared[21] is the Preserved Treasure,[22] the hidden mystery[23] through whom all the secrets of what hath been and what will be are divulged. This is the Day whereon the verse revealed in the past[24] hath found its consummation and fulfillment in the verse, “The Day when mankind shall stand before the Lord of the Throne above the exalted Seat.”[25] This is the day whereon the banners of idle fancy and vain imaginings have been subverted[26] and the command, “We are from God and unto Him shall we return”[27] hath gone forth. This is the Day whereon the “Great Announcement”[28] which all the Prophets and Messengers had heralded[29] hath appeared. In this Day, those near unto God[30] have hastened to the sealed choice wine[31] and have drunk of it in the name of God, the Omnipotent, the Help in Peril, and the Self-Subsistent. On this Day too, the cry of weeping and tears is raised from every side[32] and the tongue of utterance speaketh: Sorrow belongeth to the Friends of God and His chosen ones;[33] tribulation befitteth the lovers of God and His trusted ones;[34] sadness and affliction becometh the Manifestations of God,[35] the Possessor of all things, whether of the past or the future.

O denizens of the city of names and O countenances residing in the chambers of the all-highest paradise! O companions of faithfulness in the kingdom of eternity! Change ye your glad white and red garments unto black clothes of mourning,[36] for the supreme calamity and the greatest loss hath come to pass,[37] because of which, the Messenger of God[38] hath wailed and lamented and the heart of Fátimih[39] hath melted.[40] Thereupon, the dwellers of the Abhá Tabernacle and those sailing upon the Crimson Ark,[41] seated upon seats of love and loyalty, wept with a great weeping.[42]

Ah! Ah![43] How I lament My sorrows caused by an injustice that hath set afire the realities of all beings; how I grieve over that which hath befallen the Sovereign of the Visible and Invisible at the hands of those who have violated God's Covenant and Testament and have denied His proof, repudiated His grace and disputed with His signs!

Ah! Ah![44] May the spirits of the Concourse on High be a sacrifice unto the calamity Thou didst bear, O Thou who art the Son of the Sadratu‘l-Muntahá[45] and the Mystery enshrined in the Most Exalted Word![46] O would that the command of Creation[47] and Its Return[48] hath not been made manifest, for thus eyes would not have witnessed Thy Body prostrate and wounded on the dust![49] Because of Thy calamity, the ocean of utterance[50] is prevented from billowing forth its waves of wisdom and knowledge and the breezes of God have been stilled. Because of Thy sorrow, all traces of joy have vanished, the fruits of the tree have fallen down, the wailing of the righteous hath risen to high heaven, and the tears of the pious have flowed in profusion.[51]

Ah! Ah! O Prince of Martyrs and their Sovereign, their Glory and their Well beloved![52] I testify that through Thee, the daystar of detachment hath shone forth over the firmament of creation and through Thee, the temples of the near ones were adorned with the ornament of righteousness. Through Thee, the light of divine recognition hath shone forth in the world of creation.[53] Were it not for Thee, the command to knit and join together “B” and “E”[54] would not have gone forth and the sealed “choice wine”[55] would not have been unsealed.[56] But for Thee, the Dove of divine testimony[57] would not have warbled its melodies upon the branches of the tree of utterance and but for Thee, the Tongue of Grandeur[58] would not have spoken amongst the peoples of all Faiths. Because of Thy sorrow, there hath appeared separation between the two letters “” and “Waw[59] and the wailing of the believers in Divine Unity was raised in all lands. Because of Thy misfortune, the Supreme Pen was prevented from raising Its shrill voice, the ocean of bounty stilled its waves, the breezes of grace have ceased wafting, the rivers of paradise have ceased flowing[60] and the daystar of justice was impeded from casting its rays.

I testify that Thou art the Sign of the All Merciful in the world of being; Thou art the Manifestation of proof and testimony amongst all religions.[61] Through Thee, God hath fulfilled His promise and hath revealed His sovereignty. Through Thee, the mystery of divine knowledge hath been divulged and the luminary of certitude hath shone forth above the horizon of evidence. Through Thee, the dominion of God and His cause, His mysteries and His wisdom have all been made evident. But for Thee, the well-preserved Treasure[62] could not have been disclosed and the irrevocable decree[63] would not have effected. But for Thee, the divine summons would not have been raised from the Sublime Horizon and the pearls of wisdom and utterance would not have been revealed from the treasury of the Abhá Pen. Because of Thy affliction, the joy of paradise hath been altered and the cry of the denizens of the Kingdom of Names hath been raised. Thou art He who, by Thy turning unto God, hath caused the faces of all men to be directed towards God, the Lord of All Being, and the Sacred Tree[64] hath spoken, “The Kingdom belongeth to God,[65] the Lord of both the visible and invisible.”

All things were as one in both their external and internal reality, but when they heard of Thy tribulation, they became fragmented, separated, and then appeared in different appearances, colours, and hues.[66]

May all existent beings be a sacrifice unto Thy Being, O Thou Dawning-Place of the Revelation of God and the Day-spring of His Most Great Sign! And may all souls be a sacrifice to Thy afflictions and calamity,[67] O Thou who hath manifested the Unseen in the kingdom of creation. I bear witness that through Thee, the dispensation of sacrifice was established in all the worlds of God, and in Thy separation, the hearts of the true lovers melted. I bear witness that light in its quintessence, poured lamentation over Thy afflictions and the Sacred Mount[68] was sore vexed at that which befell Thee at the hands of Thy enemies. But for Thee, the All-Merciful would not have revealed Himself in the Sinai of knowledge unto Moses, the son of Imrán.

I call on Thee and make mention of Thee, O Thou who art the manifestation of detachment in the world of creation. O Thou the secret of revelation in God's dominions! Through Thee, the portals of God's generosity were opened and because of Thee, the light of eternity shone upon all men. I testify that when Thy hands were raised in prayer and hope,[69] the hands of all humanity were raised thereby unto God, the Revealer of verses. I testify moreover, that when Thou didst fix Thy gaze on the Abhá horizon, in consequence, all beings turned unto God, the Expounder of testimonies. Thou art the Point through Whom all knowledge of the past and future was divulged and expanded. Thou art the mine from which all the jewels of science and art were discovered. By reason of Thy calamity, the Pen of destiny stopped in its traces and the tears of the sanctified ones gushed forth.

Ah! Ah! Because of Thy sorrow, the pillars of this world were shaken and the order of existence itself would have well nigh returned to nothingness! Thou art He through Whose behest every ocean was made to billow forth, every good fragrance was wafted abroad, every wise decree was enacted, the commandments of the Book were established amongst diverse peoples, and the life-giving water of divine mercy was made to issue forth on the Day of Return.[70]

I have turned to Thee, O essence of both the Torah and the Evangel, O Thou source of the Writ of God, the Almighty, the Most Beauteous. Through Thee, the city of self-renunciation was built up, and the banner of righteousness was raised upon the world's highest spots. Were it not for Thee, the fragrance of divine recognition and knowledge would have vanished from this earth, and the breath of the All Merciful would have ceased altogether. Through Thy power, the might, the sovereignty and the omnipotence of God was established and because of Thee the ocean of divine bounty was made to billow forth, and the King of Revelation established Himself on the throne of being. I bear witness that through Thee, the veils of glory were uplifted and the limbs of the people of error quaked, the traces of vain imaginings disappeared, and the fruits of the tree of idle fancy were cast down.[71] Through Thy most pure blood[72] shed in His path, the city of true lovers was adorned, and in Thy sorrow, darkness enveloped light in all environs.[73] For love of Thee, the true lovers hastened to the arena of sacrifice and eager companions hastened to attain the source of the light of divine reunion.

O Thou quintessence of being, O Thou possessor of the seen and unseen! I know not which one of thy trials I should narrate amongst mankind.[74] Thou art the descending place of all the knowledge of God, the dayspring of His most mighty signs, the daystar of the remembrance of God, and the source of His commands.

O Thou Supreme Pen! Say: The first light that hath dawned and shone and the first fragrance that has been wafted from eternity rest upon Thee, O Thou Who art the rustling of the Sadrah of divine utterance, O Thou the Tree of certitude planted in the paradise of knowledge. Through Thee, the daystar of God's manifestation shone forth, the Speaker of Sinai[75] hath spoken, and the divine behest of forgiveness and generosity hath been enforced amongst men. I bear witness, moreover, that Thou wert the way of God and His balance, the dayspring of His verses, the reflection of His sovereignty, and the repository of His binding commandments and all pervasive injunctions.

Verily, Thou art the City of love and the lovers are but its hosts and citizens; Thou art the Ark of God and the sincere ones are its companions and wayfarers.[76] By virtue of Thy utterance, the sea of divine knowledge billowed forth, O Thou who art the quintessence of knowledge.[77] Through Thee, the daystar of certitude shone above the horizon of testimony.

It was due to Thy clarion call, raised in the arena of martyrdom and struggle[78] that the cry of the embodiments of beauty were raised in the Paradise created by God, the Rich, the Most Exalted. Because of Thy appearance, the banner of righteousness and piety was raised and the traces of rebellion and wickedness were obliterated. I testify, moreover, that Thou art the Treasury of the pearls of the knowledge of God and the Repository of the gems of His utterance and wisdom.[79]

Because of Thy calamity, the Point[80] left its most sublime position, and sought for itself a station beneath the Letter Bá'.[81] Thou art truly that Most Great Tablet[82] upon which is inscribed all the secrets of the past and the future and all knowledge from all eternity to all eternity. Thou art the Supreme Pen[83] through Whose movement, earth and heaven were made to move and through Thee, all things have turned to the lights emanating from the Face of God, the Lord of the throne above and the earth below.

Ah! Ah! By virtue of Thy tragedy, lamentations, mourning, and weeping were raised in the All-Highest Paradise, and the Maids of heaven, the sacred houris, sought their abiding place on dust itself![84] Great is the blessedness of that servant who weepeth in Thy afflictions and blessed is the handmaiden of God who cries with tears for Thy tribulations. Also, blessed are those eyes from which tears are shed in Thy Cause. Hallowed is the earth bearing the inestimable honour of Thy remains! Moreover, most blessed is the spot wherein Thy most pure body was laid to rest.[85]

All[86] praise and sanctity is Thine, O my God, the Lord of Revelation, O Thou Who hast cast Thy effulgent rays on Mount Sinai![87] I adjure Thee, by this Light,[88] Which hath shone forth above the firmament of detachment and renunciation, and by Which the principle of sole reliance upon God and acquiescence unto His Will was established. Again, I adjure Thee, by those bodies slain in Thy path! I beseech Thee, by those hearts which have melted in Thy love, and by all the sacred blood shed upon the earth of resignation, [89] to forgive all those who have turned their faces unto this Supreme Station, this summit of exaltation, and that further, O my God, Thou mayest ordain for them that which will ensure that the fragrance of their acceptance and sincerity will never cease being wafted upon the divine cities of remembrance and praise.

Thou seest, O my Lord, that they are attracted by the breezes of Thy revelation and that they are severed from all else but Thee in Thy days. I beseech Thee, to cause them to drink from the hand of generosity the river of everlasting life. I beg of Thee to write down for them by Thy pen of grace and loving-kindness, the reward of such as have attained unto Thy presence. I beseech Thee, moreover, O Lord of all names, by Thy cause through which Thou hast subdued the kingdoms of earth and heaven, and by Thy sweet call which hath enthralled the denizens of Thy dominion, that Thou mayest aid all to attain that which Thou desirest and wishest and that our stations may thereby be exalted in the precincts of Thy glory and the canopy of nearness unto Thee. O Lord, we are Thy servants who have fixed our gaze unto the effulgences of the lights of the Orb of Thy revelation, which hath shone above the firmament of Thy generosity. We beseech Thee, by the waves of the sea of Thy holy utterance amongst Thy people, that Thou mayest assist us to perform those deeds which have been commanded by Thee in Thy perspicuous book.[90] Thou art He who of those who show mercy art the most Merciful[91] and Thou art the Desire of all who are in heaven and on earth.[92] I implore Thee further, O our Lord God, by Thy power that hath encompassed all created things, and by Thy omnipotence that has embraced all beings, that Thou mayest illumine the throne of tyranny[93] with the light of the daystar of Thy justice and that Thou mayest replace the seat of oppression and injustice with the throne of equity and fairness by Thy might and sovereignty.

Verily, Thou art powerful to do what Thou wishest. There is no other God but Thee, the Almighty, the Omnipotent!

Notes
    [1] According to the Leiden List of the Tablets of Bahá‘u‘lláh, this Tablet was revealed in ‘Akká, between June 27th and early August, 1891. It is published in Risalih Ayam Tis´ih pp. 235-44. In the opinion of this unlearned one, we can surmise that the Tablet was revealed late in Bahá'u'lláh's ministry for a number of reasons; first, the Imám Husayn is regarded in Islám as one who stood against all forms of oppression and persecution, just as Bahá'u'lláh had done throughout His life. In this sense, the Tablet forms a colophon on Bahá'u'lláh's Own ministry. The Tablet could also help to make the parallel between the sufferings of the Imám and those experienced by Bahá'u'lláh Himself (as the return of Husayn), and His martyred followers. (MW's note).

    [2] Regarding the Zayárat form in Bábi-Bahá'í literature, McCants writes:

      Throughout his prophetic career, the Báb wrote a number of Tablets of Visitation (ziyáratnáma) for the Imáms and his followers. In the early days of His ministry, he wrote a Tablet of Visitation for the Imám ‘Alí and later wrote one for all of the Imáms known as the Ziyára Jámi‘a al-Kabíra. The Báb also wrote a number of ziyarátnámas for the martyrs of Tabarsí and one for Fatima. (See McCants, William. The Wronged One: Shí'í Narrative Structure in Bahá'u'lláh's Tablet of Visitation for Mulláh Husayn). (MW's note)
    [3] Bahá'u'lláh wrote additional Tablets in this form: besides the Tablet of Visitation for Mullá Husayn, there are Tablets in honour of Khadijih Bagum, ‘Abdu'r-Rasul, Hají Mullá Mihdiy-i-‘Atri (The father of Varqá), Maryam, VaHíd-i-Darabi, the Báb, the martyrs of Zanján, and others. (MW's note).

    [4] The third of the Shi'ih Imáms, the youngest son of 'Alí ibn Abú-ˇalib and Fatimah, the daughter of MuHammad (MW's note).

    [5] Here follows the Báb's Own testimony regarding His vision: “The spirit of prayer which animates My soul is the direct consequence of a dream which I had in the year before the declaration of My Mission. In My vision I saw the head of the Imám Husayn, the Siyyidu'sh-Shuhadá', which was hanging upon a tree. Drops of blood dripped profusely from His lacerated throat. With feelings of unsurpassed delight, I approached that tree and, stretching forth My hands, gathered a few drops of that sacred blood, and drank them devoutly. When I awoke, I felt that the Spirit of God had permeated and taken possession of My soul. My heart was thrilled with the joy of His Divine presence, and the mysteries of His Revelation were unfolded before My eyes in all their glory.” (Quoted in The Dawn Breakers, p. 253). Shoghi Effendi mentions this vision again in God Passes By, p. 93 (MW's note).

    [6] Likely alluding to the following passage: “For no warrior could be found on earth more excellent and nearer to God than Husayn, son of ‘Alí, so peerless and incomparable was he.” (Kitáb-i-Íqán, p 126) (MW's note).

    [7] In the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf (p. 90), Bahá'u'lláh comments on Qur'án 4:59 thusly: “And likewise in the sacred verse: ‘Obey God and obey the Apostle, and those among you invested with authority.' By ‘those invested with authority' is meant primarily and more especially the Imáms-- the blessings of God rest upon them! They, verily, are the manifestations of the power of God, and the sources of His authority, and the repositories of His knowledge, and the daysprings of His commandments.” Other titles that Bahá'u'lláh bestows on the Imáms are the ‘lamps of certitude' and ‘those unquenchable lights of divine guidance'. ‘Abdu'l-Bahá' refers to them as the ‘twelve stars' mentioned in the Revelation of St. John the Divine (MW's note).

    [8] “Consider the eagerness with which certain peoples and nations have anticipated the return of Imám-Husayn, whose coming, after the appearance of the Qá'im, hath been prophesied, in days past, by the chosen ones of God, exalted be His glory. These holy ones have, moreover, announced that when He Who is the Day Spring of the manifold grace of God manifesteth Himself, all the Prophets and Messengers, including the Qá'im, will gather together beneath the shadow of the sacred Standard which the Promised One will raise. That hour is now come. The world is illumined with the effulgent glory of His countenance. And yet, behold how far its peoples have strayed from His path! None have believed in Him except them who, through the power of the Lord of Names, have shattered the idols of their vain imaginings and corrupt desires and entered the city of certitude. The seal of the choice Wine of His Revelation hath, in this Day and in His Name, the Self-Sufficing, been broken. Its grace is being poured out upon men. Fill thy cup, and drink in, in His Name, the Most Holy, the All-Praised.” (Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, IX) (MW's note).

    [9] Karbilá is roughly 55 miles (88.5 kilometers) southwest of Baghdád on the banks of the Euphrates. Aside from being the site of Imám Husayn's martrydom, it was also the last city of residence of Shaykh AHmád-i-AHsá'í before his last pilgrimage to Makkah and Madináh and the place where he had his final meeting with Siyyid Kazim. It was also in Karbilá that Siyyid Kazim was received by the Báb, and made a subtle proclamation of the Latter's Mission to his assembled Shaykhí students. (See The Dawnbreakers, pp 27-8). According to a statement of the Báb in one of His prayers, He lived in Karbilá for a full year (See Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 181). Robert Stockman, in his Notes on the Báb, states that He actually only stayed for eight months. ˇahirih lived for a period in Karbilá, after she was unable to meet the Siyyid. Nonetheless, she taught the Báb's Cause to many residents in that city before she responded to His call for all loyal followers to proceed to Khurasán. Bahá'u'lláh Himself visited Karbilá after His exile from 'Irán around July and August, 1851. It was also in that city also that Bahá'u'lláh made a private declaration of His mission to Shaykh Hasan-i-Zunuzí, in fulfillment of a prophecy of the Báb (Dawn Breakers, p. 32-3) (MW's note).

    [10] Zayd ‘Ibn-Arqam reported that the head of Husayn was carried aloft on a spear past his own house window, and that he heard the head reciting: “Or do you think that the Companions of the Cave and the inscription were among Our wonderful signs. [Qur'án 18, 9]”. According to the account in Tabarí, the head was taken through the streets of Kufah by a jubilant mob. Subsequently, a group of the inhabitants of that city proceeded to Damascus with Husayn's head to present it to Yazíd ‘Ibn Mu‘áwíyah, the first of the Umayyad Khalifs. Upon seeing the head of his slaughtered enemy, it is said that Yazíd, recited this verse: “We will split the skull of proud men (who come) against us; they were very disobedient and oppressive.” It is also recorded that the night after Husayn's death, an unseen voice was heard proclaiming these words to the people of Mecona: “O men who ignorantly killed al-Husayn; hear the news of punishment and chastisement; All the people of heaven, prophets, angels and slain, prosecute you. You have been cursed by the tongue of the son of David, and (that) of Moses and (that) of the master of the Gospels.” (MW's note).

    [11] This passage translated in Gleanings is from the Arabic Súratu'l-Damm (Súrah of Blood) which is an early proclamatory tablet addressed to Nabil-i-A‘zám and revealed around February of 1866. The text is published in Athar-i-Qalam-i-A‘la [Traces of the Divine Pen], Vol. 4 (i) pp. 59-67 and Athar-i-Qalam-i-A´la Vol. 4 (rev) pp. 1-15. Taherzadeh comments on this Tablet in The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, pp, 236-240. A full English translation of the Tablet by Juan Cole is extent (MW's note).

    [12] Source: Bahá'u'lláh. Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh. Reprinted by permission. (Wilmette, Illinois: Bahá‘í Publishing Trust,. 1978, 1984) pp. 202-211. Reprint of Majmu´ih-‘i-Matbu´ih (“Collected Tablets of Bahá‘u‘lláh”). Ed. Muhyi‘d-Dín Sabri Kurdí Sanandají Kanimishkaní. Cairo: Matba‘at as-Sa‘adah, 1920 (KF's note, with additions by MW).

    [13] Ziyáratnáma (MW's note).

    [14] i.e. the third Imám of Shi'ih Islám, the second son of ‘Alí and Fatimih. An account of the martyrdom of Husayn here follows:

      At one point the Muslims of the city of Kufah, in ‘Iráq, invited Husayn to visit them, whereupon they would publicly acclaim him as the caliph and sole legitimate ruler of the Muslim world. So many thousands of Kufans wrote to Husayn that, though advised not to by wise friends, he decided to honor the request. Husayn recognized well in advance that the Kufans, ambivalent and lacking steadfastness, might prove unfaithful. Were he to decline the invitation, though, it would signal his willingness to abide by the manifestly unjust and amoral rule of Yazíd and thereby precipitate a complete fall of his grandfather's religion. Yazíd, for his part, recognized that, were the Kufans to honor their pledge and proclaim support for Husayn, his own hold on power would become very tenuous. He had to stop Husayn.

      Yazíd commissioned ‘Ibn Ziyad, an appointee of Mu‘awiya, as governor of ‘Iráq. ‘Ibn Ziyad, upon arriving at his post, threatened all who might support Husayn with torture and death, and thereby convinced all of Husayn's declared supporters to abandon their oaths to Husayn and turn against him. By this time, though, Husayn's followers had already departed for Kufa with about seventy of his and was not aware of his supporters' change of heart. Husayn did have the foresight to send an advance envoy to Kufa to reassess his support there, but this scout was captured and beheaded before being able to warn Husayn of the changed situation. Husayn continued on his way, not knowing that ‘Ibn Ziyad had dispatched an army of thousands to meet and stop him. By the second night of the month of MuHarram in the year 61 A.H. (2 October C.E. 680), Husayn had reached an area known as the plains of Karbalá, a few dozen miles from Kufa. They were camping here when the army of ‘Ibn Ziyad came upon them. The two groups stood in a standoff for a few days, the army waiting to secure Husayn's oath of allegiance for Yazíd and Husayn and his group of followers negotiating for their freedom.

      By the ninth day of MuHarram neither Husayn nor the opposing army had yielded, and ‘Ibn Ziyad sent word that the army was to wait no longer. That night Husayn addressed his followers, saying that the army wanted no one's blood but his own and that all were free to make use of the cover of darkness and escape. Morning dawned, but none had left.

      This, the tenth day of MuHarram, or ashura (‘ashura', “tenth”), was to be the day of their deaths. Seeking a peaceful settlement, a path he believed MuHammad would have chosen, Husayn approached his adversaries with offers of reconciliation. Though unsuccessful, he did convince a few among the enemy to join his side. The rest then began their slaughter. They surrounded Husayn's small band, preventing them from reaching the nearby Euphrates to get much-needed water and killing any who tried. Husayn even tried carrying forward his dehydrated infant son and pleading for a drop of water to keep him from dying of thirst. The child was shot in the throat. With the death of his infant child, Husayn sunk down at the door of his tent to pray and grieve for all those who had been killed that morning.

      By noon, not one of the fighting men among Husayn's followers was left alive. Husayn appealed once again to ‘Ibn Ziyad's army. He reminded them with loving and respectful words that they and their fellow Kufans had pledged to support him, the grandson of the Prophet, and tried to convince them to end the slaughter. This proved to be but an invitation for the battle's most inglorious episode: Husayn himself was shot. He asked for a brief respite to say the noonday prayer and say good-bye to his family, which was granted. But no sooner had he finished praying than the final assault began in earnest. The enemy swooped upon him like birds of prey, landing so many arrows and blows of the sword upon him that he fell from his horse. They continued to attack his helpless body, but still he clung to the last strands of life. This tenacity inspired such awe that none would deal him the coup de grâce. A man named Shemr [that is, Shamir ibn Dhi al-Jawshán], sent by ‘Ibn Ziyad to accompany the army specifically for his quality of unadulterated immorality and brutality, stepped forward and struck off Husayn's head.

      The army of four thousand, now having completed its victory over a band of seventy men dying of thirst, raised the heads of the dead on spears and, leading the roped women and children still alive, returned to Kufa. (Winters, Jonah. “Martyrdom And Suffering In Shi'ism” in Dying for God: Martyrdom in the Shí‘í and Bábí Religions. University of Toronto MA Thesis, 1997) (MW's note).

    [15] In Shí'íh visitational tablets, the reciter begins with praise and greetings to previous messengers or apostles, MuHammad and the Imáms. Bahá'u'lláh instead addresses the Manifestations of the new Dispensation. This first reference, introduced by the affirmation “God testifieth..” is most likely to the Báb (MW's note).

    [16] For a litany of the expectations fulfilled by Bahá'u'lláh, see Shawqí Affandí [Shoghi Effendi], God Passes By, pp. 94-5 (MW's note).

    [17] Irfán (KF's note).

    [18] Bahá'u'lláh's universal appeal in this Tablet reflects the importance of sacrifice, which occurs across all religious traditions (MW's note).

    [19] The martyrdom of seven believers in the city of Yazd, ‘Irán, seems to be the subject of Bahá'u'lláh's allusion here, and was likely the occasion which lead to the revelation of this Tablet. Shoghi Effendi records the incident in God Passes By as follows:

      In Yazd, at the instigation of the mujtahid of that city, and by order of the callous MaHmud Mírzá, the Jalulu'l-Dawlíh, the governor, a son of Zillu's-Sultán, seven were done to death in a single day in horrible circumstances. The first of these, a twenty-seven year old youth, ‘Alí-Asghar, was strangled, his body delivered into the hands of some Jews who, forcing the dead man's six companions to come with them, dragged the corpse through the streets, surrounded by a mob of people and soldiers beating drums and blowing trumpets, after which, arriving near the Telegraph Office, they beheaded the eighty-five year old Mullá Mihdi and dragged him in the same manner to another quarter of the city, where, in view of a great throng of onlookers, frenzied by the throbbing strains of the music, they executed Áqá ‘Alí in like manner. Proceeding thence to the house of the local mujtahid, and carrying with them the four remaining companions, they cut the throat of Mullá Alíy-i-Sabzivarí, who had been addressing the crowd and glorying in his imminent martyrdom, hacked his body to pieces with a spade, while he was still alive, and pounded his skull to a pulp with stones. In another quarter, near the Mihriz gate, they slew MuHammad-Baqir, and afterwards, in the Maydan-i-Khán, as the music grew wilder and drowned the yells of the people, they beheaded the survivors who remained, two brothers in their early twenties, Ali-Asghar and MuHammad-Hasan. The stomach of the latter was ripped open and his heart and liver plucked out, after which his head was impaled on a spear, carried aloft, to the accompaniment of music, through the streets of the city, and suspended on a mulberry tree, and stoned by a great concourse of people. His body was cast before the door of his mother's house, into which women deliberately entered to dance and make merry. Even pieces of their flesh were carried away to be used as a medicament. Finally, the head of MuHammad-Hasan was attached to the lower part of his body and, together with those of the other martyrs, was borne to the outskirts of the city and so viciously pelted with stones that the skulls were broken, whereupon they compelled the Jews to carry the remains and throw hem into a pit in the plain of Salsabil. A holiday was declared by the governor for the people, all the shops were closed by his order, the city was illuminated at night, and festivities proclaimed the consummation of one of the most barbarous acts perpetrated in modern times. (God Passes By, 201-2)

    Interesting to note, this same incident also prompted the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh's Tablet to the Times of London (LawH-i-Times). See The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 4, pp. 348-9 (MW's note).

    [20] This is Bahá'u'lláh's variation on the first part of the shaháda (declaration of belief), which is commonly used in Tablets of this type in the Shí'ih tradition (MW's note)

    [21] This introduces the second appearance of the divine Theophany, i.e. Bahá'u'lláh Himself (MW's note).

    [22] Perhaps the same as the ‘ Hidden Treasure'. See Momen, Moojan. ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's Commentary on The Islámic Tradition: ‘I Was a Hidden Treasure ...' It is likely that this parable of Christ, recorded in the Gospel, is an allusion to this tradition: “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.” (Matthew 13:44) (MW's note).

    [23] See Tablets of Bahá‘u‘lláh. p 47. (MW's note).

    [24] Qur'án, 33:40: “MuHammad is not the father of any of your men, but (he is) the Apostle of God, and the Seal of the Prophets: and God has full knowledge of all things.” This verse in Bahá'u'lláh's Tablet is similar to a comment in His last major Book: “On this day the blessed words ‘But He is the Apostle of God, and the Seal of the Prophets' have found their consummation in the verse, ‘The day when mankind shall stand before the Lord of the worlds.' Render Thou thanksgiving unto God, for so great a bounty.” (Bahá'u'lláh: Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 114) (MW's note).

    [25] c.f. Qur'án 27:83-4. In this connection, Bahá'u'lláh also calls attention to Qur'án 33:44 (“Their salutation on the Day they meet Him will be ‘Peace!'”) in His major Book, the Kitáb-i-Íqán. See Buck, Christopher. Symbol And Secret: Qur'án Commentary in Bahá'u'lláh's Kitáb-i-Íqán. (MW's note).

    [26] Perhaps meant as a veiled reference to the verse: “Verily thy Lord will judge between them on the Day of Judgment, in the matters wherein they differ (among themselves)” (Qur'án 32:25) (MW's note)

    [27] See Qur'án 6:108 (MW's note).

    [28] “Concerning what are they disputing? Concerning the Great News, about which they cannot agree. Verily, they shall soon (come to) know! Verily, verily they shall soon (come to) know!” (Qur‘án, 78:1-5 (MW's note).

    [29] E.g.: “Alas for the day! for the day of the Lord is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come.” (Joel 1:15) See God Passes By, pp. 94-6 (MW's note).

    [30] “And those Foremost (in Faith) will be Foremost (in the Hereafter). These will be those Nearest to God: In Gardens of Bliss: A number of people from those of old, And a few from those of later times. (They will be) on Thrones encrusted (with gold and precious stones), Reclining on them, facing each other. Round about them will (serve) youths of perpetual (freshness), With goblets, (shining) beakers, and cups (filled) out of clear-flowing fountains: No after-ache will they receive therefrom, nor will they suffer intoxication: And with fruits, any that they may select: And the flesh of fowls, any that they may desire.” (Qur'án 56:10-21)

    [31] “Truly the Righteous will be in Bliss: On Thrones (of Dignity) will they command a sight (of all things): Thou wilt recognise in their faces the beaming brightness of Bliss. Their thirst will be slaked with Pure Wine sealed: (Qur‘án 83:22-25).” See also the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶5:Think not that We have revealed unto you a mere code of laws. Nay, rather, We have unsealed the choice Wine with the fingers of might and power. To this beareth witness that which the Pen of Revelation hath revealed. Meditate upon this, O men of insight!...” (MW‘s note)

    [32] Also from the Unbelievers; see Qur'án 69:50 (MW's note).

    [33] One can recall Jacob's response when told Joseph had been killed: “And he turned away from them, and said: “How great is my grief for Joseph!” And his eyes became white with sorrow, and he fell into silent melancholy.” (Qur'án 12:84). It is recorded that the Prophet - may peace be upon Him - was asked: “Who among men are those afflicted with the greatest calamity?' He replied:

      The prophets, then the pious, everyone according to the degree of his piety. A man is afflicted according to his faith (din); if his faith is durable, his affliction is accordingly increased, and if his faith is weak, his affliction is made lighter. Afflictions continue to oppress the worshipful servant until they leave him walking on the face of the earth without any sin cleaving to him. Musnad Ibn Hanbal.

    Bahá'u'lláh also writes in the Súriy-i-Mulúk:

      “Know ye that trials and tribulations have, from time immemorial, been the lot of the chosen Ones of God and His beloved, and such of His servants as are detached from all else but Him, they whom neither merchandise nor traffic beguile from the remembrance of the Almighty, they that speak not till He hath spoken, and act according to His commandment. Such is God's method carried into effect of old, and such will it remain in the future.” (Summons of the Lord of Hosts, M 47) (MW's note).
    [34] Possibly a play on the name ‘Karbala', a compound word meaning ‘[land of] Karb (deep sorrow) and Balá (painful trial). (MW's note).

    [35] Recall Qur'án 20:86: “So Moses returned to his people in a state of indignation and sorrow. He said: ‘O my people! did not your Lord make a handsome promise to you?'”; Isaiah 53:3: “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief..”; Mark 14:34: “And saith unto them, ‘My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death'” (MW's note).

    [36] Bahá'u'lláh seems to be alluding here to a practice in Islám, whereby it was forbidden for mourners to wear dyed clothes during periods of mourning. See SaHiH Bukharí, Vol. 7, Book 63, No. 254. Bahá'u'lláh's call here parallels the prophecy in Isaiah: “And in that day did the Lord God of hosts call to weeping, and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth:” (Isaiah 22:12) (MW's note).

    [37] Possible allusion to Isaiah 22:5: “For it is a day of trouble, and of treading down, and of perplexity by the Lord God of hosts in the valley of vision, breaking down the walls, and of crying to the mountains.” (MW's note).

    [38] i.e., MuHammad (MW's note).

    [39] the daughter of MuHammad and the wife of ‘Alí, father of Husayn (MW‘s note)

    [40] Recounting the lamentations of sincere believers, the angels, and other figures is a common motif used in traditional Shi‘ih mourning texts for the Imám Husayn. See McCants, William. “The Wronged One: Shi'ih Narrative Structure in Bahá'u'lláh's Tablet of Visitation for Mullá Husayn” It is used throughout Bahá'u'lláh's Writings (MW's note).

    [41] i.e. the people of Bahá (MW's note).

    [42] i.e. Both communities - the people of the Qur'án and the people of Bahá - are united in sorrow (MW's note).

    [43] In the opinion of this servant, these two exclamations, which are repeated throughout the Tablet, probably refer to the Twin Dispensations, i.e. the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh (MW's note).

    [44] Bahá'u'lláh here begins the address which is superficially to the Imám. More deeply, Bahá'u'lláh is seemingly addressing Himself, since, as William McCants notes, in Bahá'u'lláh's eyes, Husayn's sufferings, his trials and his sacrifice are being re-enacted in Himself. (MW's note).

    [45] Sadratu‘l-Muntahá refers to MuHammad, the Apostle of God; the reference to the son denotes the Imám Husayn. (MW's note)

    [46] Generally referring to the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, e.g. Summons of the Lord of Hosts H33; in the opinion of this servant, an allusion to Bahá (MW's note).

    [47] i.e. ‘Be'; See Qur'án 2:117: “To Him is due the primal origin of the heavens and the earth: When He decreeth a matter, He saith to it: ‘Be,' and it is.” Alluded to in John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word..” (MW's note).

    [48] See Qur'án 10:4, 10:34, and esp. 14:19 “Seest thou not that God created the heavens and the earth in Truth? If He so will, He can remove you and put (in your place) a new creation?” (MW's note)

    [49] In a symbolic sense, the Body of Husayn could be seen as the Temple of the Cause of MuHammad (MW's note).

    [50] In the opinion of this servant, Bahá'u'lláh's frequent use of the phrase, ‘the Most Great Ocean' as an allusion to the kingdom of Revelation stems from a metaphor in the Qur'án: “To God belong all things in heaven and earth: verily God is He (that is) free of all wants, worthy of all praise. And if all the trees on earth were pens and the ocean (were ink), with seven oceans behind it to add to its (supply), yet would not the words of God be exhausted (in the writing): for God is Exalted in Power, full of Wisdom.” (Qur'án 31:26-7) (MW's note)

    [51] Nabil has related the following anecdote from the time of the Báb's imprisonment at Máh-Kú: “A winter followed of such exceptional severity that even the copper implements were affected by the intensity of the cold. The beginning of that season coincided with the month of MuHarram of the year 1264 A.H. The water which the Báb used for His ablutions was of such icy coldness that its drops glistened as they froze upon His face. He would invariably, after the termination of each prayer, summon Siyyid Husayn to His presence and would request him to read aloud to Him a passage from the Muhriqu'l-Qulub, a work composed by the late Hájí Mullá Mihdí, the great-grandfather of Hájí Mírzá Kamalu'd-Dín-i-Naraqí, in which the author extols the virtues, laments the death, and narrates the circumstances of the martyrdom of the Imám Husayn. The recital of those sufferings would provoke intense emotion in the heart of the Báb. His tears would keep flowing as He listened to the tale of the unutterable indignities heaped upon him, and of the agonizing pain which he was made to suffer at the hands of a perfidious enemy.” (The Dawn Breakers p. 251-2)

    [52] Bahá'u'lláh now turns to a recitation of some of the virtues and stations of Husayn, and also the Imám's authority. The title that Bahá'u'lláh uses here, namely ‘Prince of martyrs' (Siyyidu'sh-Shuhadá'), underscores the importance of Husayn's dramatic death in Shi'ih religious polity. McCants writes:

    The central position of Husayn's martyrdom in the formation of Shí'íh identity can find no greater parallel in religious writing than the Passion of Jesus of Nazareth. Both men, as portrayed in later accounts, were betrayed by their followers. Both were left to die alone and abandoned, pierced with wounds and mourned by a few pious women. Death, however, was merely a vehicle for victory in both narratives, granting lasting influence to the men who had offered up their lives for Truth and thereby demonstrated the falsity of their persecutors acts. This core narrative of betrayal, abandonment, suffering, martyrdom, and victory forms the emotional center of both Christianity and Shí'íh Islám. (See McCants, William. “The Wronged One: Shí'íh Narrative Structure in Bahá'u'lláh's Tablet of Visitation for Mulláh Husayn”) (MW's note).

    [53] Also concerning the effects of Husayn's sacrifice, Bahá'u'lláh writes: “By the righteousness of God! Through his deed the fragrances of holiness were wafted over all things, the proof of God was perfected, and His testimony made manifest to all men.” (Summons of the Lord of Hosts, M52) (MW's note).

    [54] “Shoghi Effendi, in letters written on his behalf, has explained the significance of the ‘letters B and E'. They constitute the word Be', which, he states, ‘means the creative Power of God Who through His command causes all things to come into being” and ‘the power of the Manifestation of God, His great spiritual creative force.'” Universal House of Justice, Kitáb-i-Aqdas, n.188. (MW's note).

    [55] A reference to Qur'án 83:25-6: “Their [the righteous] thirst will be slaked with Pure Wine sealed: The seal thereof will be Musk: And for this let those aspire, who have aspirations.” (MW's note).

    [56] See Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶ 5 (MW's note).

    [57] A title of Bahá'u'lláh. See Tablets of Bahá‘u‘lláh, p.240 (MW's note).

    [58] Another title of Bahá'u'lláh (MW's note).

    [59] ‘H' and ‘W' together i.e. Huwa refer to the divine pronoun “He” (KF's note).

    [60] There are many Qur'ánic references to the rivers of Paradise, e.g.: 2:25, 74, 3:15, 195, 4:57, 122, 5:88, 9:89, 14:23, 18:31, 25:10, 47:12, 15, 48:17, 54:54, 61:12, 65:11, 85:11, 98:8. These rivers symbolize the Word of God: “Say: We have caused the rivers of Divine utterance to proceed out of Our throne, that the tender herbs of wisdom and understanding may spring forth from the soil of your hearts. Will ye not be thankful?” (Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, Section XVIII, 43) (MW's note).

    [61] Here, again following the traditional form, Bahá'u'lláh is recognizing the spiritual station of the Imám Husayn; yet, in a deeper sense, in the opinion of this servant, Bahá'u'lláh is actually addressing the ideal of sacrifice, as embodied by Husayn and taught in all the Scriptures (MW‘s note).

    [62] i.e. Bahá'u'lláh; see God Passes By, p. 94. In the story as given in the Qur'án, Joseph is dumped into a well by his brothers, but discovered by a waterboy from a passing caravan: “He said: ‘Ah there! Good news! Here is a (fine) young man!' So they concealed him as a treasure!” (Qur'án 12:19). Hence, in one of His Tablets, Bahá'u'lláh also identifies Himself as the ‘Divine Joseph'; See Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, 208. (MW's note).

    [63] Cf. Qur'án 33:38: “And the command of God is a decree determined.” (MW's note).

    [64] Qur'án 24:35 (MW's note).

    [65] “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.'” Revelation 11:15 (MW's note).

    [66] One possible interpretation: the religion of God (meaning, in this case, the Faith of MuHammad) was one before Husayn's martyrdom, but afterwards, it became divided between the Shi'ih and Sunní communities. The reference to diverse shades and hues could indicate the fall season, before the coldness of the winter, at which time the faith began to suffer serious disintegration (MW's note).

    [67] In typical visitation texts, the believer asks to be numbered among Husayn's companions at His martyrdom; Bahá'u'lláh, as a token of His grace, makes this plea on behalf of all mankind, that they will be recognized as martyrs for Husayn's cause (MW's note)

    [68] Likely a reference to Mount Hirrá', where MuHammad received revelation (MW's note).

    [69] In the account given in Tabarí, before he was martyred, Husayn raised his hands to God and prayed:

      O God, it is You in Whom I trust amid all grief. You are my hope amid all violence. You are my trust and provision in everything that happens to me, (no matter) how much the heart may seem to weaken in it, trickery may seem to diminish (my hope) in it, the friend may seem to desert (me) in it, and the enemy may seem to rejoice in it. It comes upon me through You and when I complain to You of it, it is because of my desire for You, You alone. You have comforted me in (everything) and have revealed its (significance to me). You are the Master of all grace, the Possessor of all goodness and the Ultimate Resort of all desire. (MW's note)
    [70] i.e, the Day of Judgement; many Qur'ánic references, e.g. : “They ask, ‘When will be the Day of Judgment and Justice?' (It will be) a Day when they will be tried (and tested) over the Fire!” (Qur'án 51:12-3) (MW's note).

    [71] Commenting of Husayn's possible motivations and the impact of his sacrifice, S.H.M. Jafri, a modern Shí'íh historian, has written:

      ...it is clear that Husayn, was fully aware of the dangers he would encounter and that he had a certain strategy and plan in mind to bring about a revolution in the consciousness of the Muslim community. Furthermore, it is also very clear from the sources, as has been started before, that Husayn did not try to organize or mobilize military support, which he easily could have done in the Hijaz, nor did he even try to exploit whatever physical strength was available to him...

      Is it conceivable that anyone striving for power would ask his supporters to abandon him?... What then did Husayn have in mind? Why was he still heading for Kufa?

      It is rather disappointing to note that Western scholarship on Islám, given too much to historicism, has placed all its attention on the discrete external aspects of the event of Karbalá and has never tried to analyze the inner history and agonizing conflict in Husayn's mind... A careful study and analysis of the events of the Karbalá as a whole reveals the fact that from the very beginning Husayn was planning for a complete revolution in the religious consciousness of the Muslim. All of his actions show that he was aware of the fact that a victory achieved through military strength and might is always temporal [sic], because another stronger power can in course of time bring it down in ruins. But victory achieved through suffering and sacrifice in everlasting and leaves permanent imprints on man's consciousness... The natural process of conflict and struggle between action and reaction was now at work. That is, MuHammad's progressive Islamic action had succeeded in suppressing Arab conservatism, embodied in heathen pre-Islamic practices and ways of thinking. But in less than thirty year's time this Arab conservatism revitalized itself as a forceful reaction to challenge MuHammad's action once again.. The strength of this reaction, embodied in Yazíd's character, was powerful enough to suppress or at least deface MuHammad's action. Islám as now, in the thinking Husayn, in dire need of reactivation of MuHammad's action against the old Arabian reactions and thus required a complete shake-up...

      Husayn's acceptance of Yazíd, with the latter's openly reactionary attitude against Islámic norms, would not have meant merely a political arrangement, as had been the case with Hasan and Mu'awiya, but an endorsement of Yazíd's character and way of life as well...

      Husayn prepared his strategy... He realized that more force of arms would not have saved Islamic action and consciousness. To him it needed a shaking and jolting of hearts and feelings. This, he decided, could only be achieved through sacrifice and sufferings. This should not be difficult to understand, especially for those who fully appreciate the heroic deeds and sacrifices of, for example, Socrates and Joan of Arc, both of whom embraced death for their ideals, and above all of the great sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the redemption of mankind.

      It is in this light that we should read Husayn's replies to those well-wishers who advised him not to go to ‘Iráq. It also explains why Husayn took with him his women and children, though advised by ‘Ibn'Abbas [his father's cousin] that should he insist on his project, at least he should not take his family with him. Aware to the extent of the brutal nature of the reactionary forces, Husayn knew that after killing him, the Umayyads would make his women and children captives and take them all the way from Kufa to Damascus. This caravan of captives of MuHammad's immediate family would publicize Husayn's message and would force the Muslim's heart to ponder on the tragedy. It would make the Muslims think of the whole affair and would awaken their consciousness. This is exactly what happened. Husayn succeeded in his purposes. It is difficult today to evaluate exactly the impact of Husayn's action on Islamic morality and way of thinking, because it prevailed. Had Husayn not shaken and awakened Muslim consciousness by this method, who knows whether Yazíd's way of life would have become standard behaviour in the Muslim community, endorsed and accepted by the grandson of the Prophet. No doubt, even after Yazíd kingship did prevail in Islám, and the character and behaviour in the personal lives of these kings was not very different from that Yazíd, but the change of thinking which prevailed after the sacrifice of Husayn always served as a line of distinction between Islámic norms and the personal character of the rulers.

      It would be difficult to exaggerate the impact and importance of the martyrdom of Husayn for Shí'ís. Although it was the usurpation of ‘Ali's right that is looked upon by Shí'íhs as the event initiating their movement and giving it intellectual justification, it was Husayn's martyrdom that gave it its impetus and implanted its ideas deep in the heart of the people. To this day it is the martyrdom of Husayn that is the most fervently celebrated event in the Shí'íh calendar. During the first ten days of MuHarram, the whole Shí'í world is plunged into mourning.

      Above all, the martyrdom of Husayn has given Shí'í Islám a whole ethos of sanctification through martyrdom. Although the Shí'ís were persecuted all through their early history and, according to their traditions, every single one of the Imáms suffered martyrdom, it is above all the martyrdom of Husayn that has given this characteristic to Shí'í Islám; a characteristic that recent events in Irán have demonstrated to be as strong as ever. (MW's note).

    [72] In Shi'ih visitation texts, the believer often testifies to the purity of the Imám, or mentions that His blood was spilt solely for the path of God (MW's note).

    [73] On this point, Bahá'u'lláh writes:

      “For instance, consider the pervading power of those drops of the blood of Husayn which besprinkled the earth. What ascendancy and influence hath the dust itself, through the sacredness and potency of that blood, exercised over the bodies and souls of men! So much so, that he who sought deliverance from his ills, was healed by touching the dust of that holy ground, and whosoever, wishing to protect his property, treasured with absolute faith and understanding, a little of that holy earth within his house, safeguarded all his possessions. These are the outward manifestations of its potency. And were We to recount its hidden virtues they would assuredly say: ‘He verily hath considered the dust to be the Lord of Lords, and hath utterly forsaken the Faith of God.'” Kitáb-i-Íqán. p 127-8. (MW's note)

    [74] A subtle reference, indicating that Bahá'u'lláh does not intend to recount the trials of the 'Imám, and, by extension, does not wish to follow the form of a traditional Shi'ite mourning text (MW's note).

    [75] Bahá'u'lláh. See Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 50, 52, 107 (MW's note).

    [76] lit. crew and passengers (KF's note)

    [77]Irfán (KF's note)

    [78] The mentioning of Husayn's struggle in the path of God (mujáhada) is a common element in visitation Tablets in the Shi'ih tradition (MW's note).

    [79] In the Peak of Eloquence, the Imám ‘Alí states: “We the people of the house (of the Prophet - Ahlu'l-Bayt) possess the doors of wisdom and light of governance.” (MW's note).

    [80] the Nuqtih (KF's note).

    [81] In the Writing of Arabic Letters, in the sense that Letters reflect Spiritual Realities, the Nuqtih [Point] resides below the Letter B []. The Point refers to the dot under the Arabic letter , symbolizing the entirety of the Qur‘án. By the phrase, “left its most sublime position”, the ending of the Qur'ánic dispensation is meant. The rest of the verse, “..and sought for itself a station beneath the Letter Bá'” refers to the rebirth of the Point as the second part of the same letter, which now alludes to the dispensation of Bahá, i.e. the Blessed Beauty. The implication of motion as applied to the Point, could also allude to the Báb (the Point of the Bayán), as the forerunner. The reason that these allusions are made in reference to the calamity of Husayn's martyrdom is that the spiritual and temporal consequences of that act made the Missions of both the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh all the more necessary (KF's note).

    [82] Bahá'u'lláh also speaks of Himself as the “Preserved Tablet”. See Prayers and Meditations by Bahá‘u‘lláh, p.286.

    [83] This address is used by Bahá'u'lláh throughout His Writings exclusively as a reference to Himself. See Kitáb-i-Aqdas, n. 24: “ ‘Pen of the Most High', ‘the Supreme Pen' and ‘the Most Exalted Pen' are references to Bahá'u'lláh, illustrating His function as Revealer of the Word of God.” It also echoes the statement by 'Alí, the first Imám, in the Khutbih-i-Tutunjiyyih (Sermon of the Gulf): “I was with the Pen before the Pen” (Trans. Khazeh Fananapazir) (MW's note).

    [84] The mention of the weeping of Husayn's family and his followers is a common theme of Shí'íh Visitation Tablets for the martyred Imám (MW's note).

    [85] Following their martyrdom, the bodies of Husayn and his companions were trampled on by horsemen, and then left for three days on the plain of Karbilá; in October of 680 A.D. (61 A.H.) they were buried by a passing tribe at the same spot. In August of 684, a small mosque was erected on the site, consisting of two entrances and a single dome. In June, 787, during the reign of Al-Rashíd, the dome and roof were destroyed. The building was reconstructed in October of 808 by Amín. This reconstruction was demolished by Mutawakkil who ordered that the land should be ploughed. Between 861 and 886, the gravesite was marked only by a single iron pillar. In August 977, Adzd ‘Ibn Boweih rebuilt the roof, the dome and the sepulchre, added houses to surround the site, and raised a wall around the city. These buildings were damaged by fire in 1016, and were rebuilt. In 1365, Sultán Owais ‘Ibn Hasan Jalairí remodeled the dome and raised the walls of the enclosure. In 1514, Sháh Ismail Safawí visited the holy shrine and he added an inlaid sarcophagus over the grave. In July, 1796 the Qájár monarch, MuHammad Sháh, covered the dome of the shrine with gold. His grandson, Nasír'id-Dín Sháh extended the courtyard of the shrine in May of 1866. (MW's note).

    [86] Here begins the final prayer (du‘a), which closes the Tablet. Unlike in Shi'ih works of this nature, there are no genuflections performed with this prayer, and it is addressed, not to Husayn, but to God. Also, typically, before this closing devotion, the reciter asks God to curse (la‘ana) the Imám's enemies, since, in the Qur'án, Alláh promises curses on those who reject true faith or do wrong (See e.g. 11:18: “Behold! the Curse of God is on those who do wrong!” and 2:161-2: “Those who reject Faith, and die rejecting,- on them is God's curse, and the curse of angels, and of all mankind; They will abide therein: Their penalty will not be lightened, nor will respite be their (lot).” This element is absent in Bahá'u'lláh's Tablet. However, the Báb writes: “Erelong We will, in very truth, torment such as waged war against Husayn, in the Land of the Euphrates, with the most afflictive torment, and the most dire and exemplary punishment....” (MW's note).

    [87] In this context, “Sinai” likely is a reference to the entire Judeo-Christian-Islámic tradition, and “effulgent rays” indicates divine revelation. Alternatively, it possibly refers to the revelation of divine law (MW's note).

    [88] i.e., the Imám Husayn. See the statement from ‘Alí in the Nahj-ul-Balagha (Peak of Eloquence): “I am among you like a lamp in the darkness. Whoever enters by it will be lit from it.”

    [89] Bahá'u'lláh transforms the final prayer, usually a request for intercession and forgiveness on behalf of the supplicant and his family addressed to Husayn, to one of absolution and exaltation for His followers, addressed to God Himself. Also of significance here is that the suffering of all believers in God throughout history is portrayed as having their fulfillment or consummation in this new dispensation (MW's note).

    [90] Properly, the Book of Law, i.e. the Bayán or the Kitáb-i-Aqdas; generically, it refers to a book of divine Revelation (MW's note).

    [91] See Qur'án 7:151, 12:92, 23:109 and 23:118 (MW's note).

    [92] We recall the cry of David: “Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.” (Psalms 73:25) (MW's note).

    [93] Bahá'u'lláh uses this phrase in reference to the Sublime Porte in Constantinople; likely, it refers to tyranny generally here (MW's note).

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