Note: my comments here are only partial, for two reasons: (1) much of the
information that could be included here has already been posted, in the Tablet study outline for the Seven Valleys; (2)
since the Tablet is available in translation, most students entered sufficient answers
for sections like "contents" and "themes," thereby obviating a list here.
Name of Tablet in Arabic or Persian: Chahár Vádí
Translation into English:
The Four Valleys. Most of the bibliographic material relevant to Bahá'í mysticism,
as well as some of the translation history of the Four Valleys, has been listed in the
previous masterkey for the Seven Valleys. _Bahá'u'lláh: King of Glory_ mentions it
only briefly, on p. 163, as does _God Passes By_ on pp. 122 and 140. Julio Savi
explores the themes and symbolism in the Four Valleys in his "Will, Knowledge, and
Love as Explained in Bahá'u'lláh's Four Valleys," from the _Journal of Bahá'í
Studies_ 6:1 (1994). John Walbridge discusses these in _Sacred Acts, Sacred
Space, Sacred Time_, 157-158 and 288. David Langness also meditates on the
work in his "Mystical Content and Symbology of Bahá'u'lláh's Four Valleys,"
available on the internet at Bahái-library.org/essays/four.valleys.html.
Significance of Name:
Describes four successive stages of the mystic's path from which he or she
journeys toward the goal of the Divine. Dr. Ayman adds: "The word "valley" is
translation of "vaadi". Vaadi has several meanings or connotations. It may refer to
a stretch of land between hills or mountains, often with a river flowing through it
(Oxford Dic.) or path. There are other connotations for this word in both Arabic
and Persian such as , a way of thinking, a sect or school of thought, a plain, a
desert, a stage, ...etc.. Therefore we should not always expect "vaadis" to come
one after the other. One usage of this word, in oriental Mysticism, is to refer to
consecutive stages in the path of true knowledge."
Tablet was revealed in: Persian
Name of Recipient: Shaykh 'Abdu'r-Rahman-i-Talabani of Karkuk
Reason for Revelation of the Tablet: Shaykh 'Abdu'r-Rahman, who had
met Bahá'u'lláh in Sulaymaniyyih, wrote to Him with some questions, which
unfortunately are not preserved.
Questions asked that are answered in Tablet: The (lost) questions
Date of Revelation: Though Taherzadeh does not specify, Walbridge, in
_Sacred Acts_ 157, places the date of this work at 1857.
Place of Revelation: Baghdad
Role of Amaneuensis or Secretary: As a letter, it is possible that
Bahá'u'lláh penned the Four Valleys Himself. And, on pp. 64-65, He writes: "When I
entrusted this message of love to My pen, it refused the burden, and it swooned
away. ... What I had written ere this hand hath been eaten by the flies, so sweet is
the ink. ...And now the hand can write no more, and pleadeth that this is enough."
Other Tablets revealed at about the same time: See list in masterkey for
Style: This tablet seems to have been written mostly in the tone of
"command and authority." Subject: This tablet seems to contain many subjects, such as "Writings
dealing with interpretation of the old Scriptures, religious beliefs and doctrines of
the past"; Mystical Writings"; "Tablets dealing with subjects of learning and
knowledge, divine philosophy, mysteries of creation, medicine, alchemy, etc."; and
"Tablets exhorting men to education, goodly character and divine virtues." Genre: "Essay or book revealed as a letter to an individual."
Voice of Tablet: [?] Bahá'u'lláh, using also quotations from the Qur'an to
speak for God and Muhammad, and quotations from Sufis to provide Sufi
Outline Contents of Tablet (if possible): See other student lists
List the Principal themes of the Tablet: See other student lists
Tablet's relationship to other tablets:
At the end of the Seven Valleys, Bahá'u'lláh writes that "the heart is endowed with
four stages, which would be recounted should a kindred soul be found" (41). While
Savi speculates that the Four Valleys are those Bahá'u'lláh had here promised, this
connection is not known for sure.