Name of Tablet in Arabic or Persian:
Lawh-i-Ra'ís. This is the one of three
Tablets revealed for Alí Páshá, and the second with this name. It is
sometimes mixed up with the Súriy-i-Ra'ís.
Translation into English:
The Tablet of the Ruler (an exact translation of the
word "Ra'ís" is not easy to find. It can mean "boss," "president," "ruler," "chief,"
"head," or "leader"). One sentence of this Tablet has been translated in World
Order of Bahá'u'lláh, 194. A full provisional translation, published in Star of
the West Vol.2 No.2, April 9 1911, page 3, is available online at
. (Now at bahai-library.com/writings/bahaullah/slh/rais2.html
Significance of Name:
Revealed for the "Ra'ís," the ruler, of Turkey. One
student observes that "the title 'Chief (Ra'ís)' which Bahá'u'lláh uses to
address Alí Páshá is indicative of his attachment to worldly glory and honor."
Tablet was revealed in:
Name of Recipient:
Alí Páshá, the Grand Vizir of Turkey and Bahá'u'lláh's "great
adversary" (Taherzadeh 34)
Reason for Revelation of the Tablet:
To condemn Alí Páshá for his cruelty and unjust treatment of the innocent
Bahá'ís; to remind the Páshá that his glory will disappear like that of a puppet
at the end of the puppet show, whereas the glory of those who follow the
Cause of God will be eternal; to tell the Páshá that his inhumane treatment of
the Bahá'ís has caused two to commit suicide and another two to die from the
poor conditions of the prison (Shoghi Effendi says that three died, but
Bahá'u'lláh only mentions two of them); to call the Páshá and the people of the
world to awaken from their ignorance and embrace the Cause of God.
Date of Revelation:
Shortly after the death of three Bahá'ís, who died due to
the harsh conditions of the prison (_Bahá'u'lláh: King of Glory_ 283 and _God
Passes By_ 187), which would place it at the end of summer, 1868. The _Basic
Bahá'í Chronology_ places this Tablet at around the end of August.
Place of Revelation:
The Most Great Prison, Akká
Role of Amanuensis or Secretary:
No mention is made of any direct role in the revelation or transcription of the
Tablet. However, Taherzadeh mentions that, after its revelation, Mírzá Áqá
Jan asked Bahá'u'lláh what would happen if, despite all the cruelties and the
injustices to which Alí Páshá has subjected Bahá'u'lláh and His followers, the
Páshá were to repent. Bahá'u'lláh's "emphatic response" was that whatever had
been stated in the Tablet would inevitable be fulfilled.
Other Tablets revealed at about the same time:
There were many Tablets revealed around this time, most notably the epistles
to the Kings, such as the Súriy-i-Ra'ís, Lawh-i-Fu'ád, Second Tablet to
Napoleon III, Tablet to Pope Pius IX, Tablet to Czar Alexander II, and the
Tablet to Queen Victoria.
Style, subject, and genre of the Tablet: [?]
I. Tone of Tablet:
Voice of Tablet
1. Tablets with the tone of command and authority.
II. Subjects Covered by Tablet:
4. Tablets concerning matters of government and world order, and those
addressed to the kings.
6. Tablets exhorting men to education, goodly character and divine
III. Literary Genre of Tablet:
1. Letter to an individual.
Outline Contents of Tablet:
(This summary taken from a provisional translation.) Bahá'u'lláh rebukes Alí
Páshá for his cruel and inhumane treatment of Bahá'u'lláh's followers. He tells
the Páshá that men like him have regarded God's manifestations as wrong-
doers, and this Páshá regards Bahá'u'lláh as a guilty wrong-doer. But the
Manifestations and those who believe in God have not committed the crimes of
which they're accused. It is rather the names of these rulers that are lost in
history, just as this Páshá's name, too, will be lost to history.
The Páshá has persecuted a number of people who showed no opposition to
him. Even the guards admitted that the Bahá'ís were innocent. The Bahá'ís
were locked in a gloomy dungeon and given neither bread nor water. They have
now been in this dungeon for some time, even though all the people of
Adrianople would testify that they are innocent and saintly. Upon being exiled
one Bahá'í killed himself, and a second drowned himself during the voyage. Yet
the government is increasing their hardships and giving them nothing to eat
but inedible bread.
Bahá'u'lláh says that He is not telling the Páshá these things to make him
mindful, because he is and will remain heedless. Their humiliation will not
last, just as the current glory and power the Páshá enjoys will not last. To
exemplify the ephemeralness of earthly glories, Bahá'u'lláh relates His famous
story of watching the puppet show as a child, in which many glorious
personalities and events played across the stage but at the end all went back
into the same box and were gone. In like wise, this earth has no lasting
importance in the eyes of God, and all of the earth's treasures, glories, and
haughty rulers will disappear in the tomb. In light of this, Bahá'u'lláh calls to
the Páshá to cease opposing the Bahá'ís and God's Cause.
Bahá'u'lláh then calls to the people of the Earth to listen to His message and
ponder the above story. All things must pass away, and only the cause of God
is ultimately important. Bahá'u'lláh quotes the philosopher Avicenna (Ibn Sina)
to the effect that the people of the Earth must be admonished and must wake
up. Bahá'u'lláh then speaks to the Páshá again, telling him that he has not
succeeded in conquering Bahá'u'lláh, but rather it is he, the Páshá, who is in
truth defeated. Bahá'u'lláh reminds the Páshá that He had asked for but one
favor: to grant Him an audience of ten minutes to verify the proof of
Bahá'u'lláh's statements and His mission, a request the Páshá ignored.
Bahá'u'lláh concludes by telling the Páshá that two of His followers had just
died, and the guards had stolen the money given to them to arrange for a
proper funeral. If the Páshá truly understood his low state and the true
station of Bahá'u'lláh, he would leave everything to come and live with the
Bahá'ís in the prison.
Principal themes of the Tablet:
The predominant theme is the ephemeralness of this earthly life. Bahá'u'lláh
tells Alí Páshá not to rely on his pomp and glory, for they will pass away. Only
the Cause of God is eternal. The second major theme would seem to be the
innocence of the Bahá'ís and the injustice of the Páshá's treatment of them.
Tablet's relationship to other tablets:
One student observes that it is "interesting to compare the notion of tests and
difficulties in Lawh-i-Salmán, a believer, and those tests Bahá'u'lláh says Alí
Páshá faces. In the former He tells a believer to pay no attention to them. God
does what He pleaseth and so long as we are obedient, moving in line with His
will, we will move ahead in spite of physical life's ups and downs. To the non-
believer (or disobedient 'believer') these same kinds of tests and difficulties
are shown as a terrible threat. He stresses the instability and futility of
earthly life, that pomp and glory here will vanish, 'that God's chastisement
will assail him from every direction and confusion overtake his peoples and
government, and affirms that the wrath of God has ... (permanently) surrounded
Also, as one of the epistles to the rulers of the world, this Tablet fits in with
the overall themes of informing the rulers of His station and Message and
calling them to accept the new Revelation, reminding them that their earthly
rule is not ultimately real, for only God holds true power. Another student
adds that "here we can see another proposition by Bahá'u'lláh to establish the
validity of His Revelation. He gave similar proposals to Nasiri'd-DIn Sháh of
Persia in the Lawh-I-Sultán, and a similar proposal was given to Mullá Hassan
'Amu who came to see Bahá'u'lláh in Baghdad representing a group of
dignitaries of Shiite, but in both cases there was no response from the other
Biography or bio note of the recipient of the Tablet:
A brief biography of Alí Páshá has been included in an appendix to _Bahá'u'lláh:
King of Glory_, 469:
Muhammad Amin 'Alí Páshá was born in Istanbul in February 1815, the
son of a shopkeeper. Because he had acquired a knowledge of French, he was
able to obtain a post in the translation bureau of the Ottoman government in
1833. He was sent on several foreign missions and was the Turkish Counsellor
in London, 1838-9. In 1840, he became Minister of Foreign Affairs for a short
time and returned to this position in 1846 under Rashid Páshá. In 1852 he
became Grand Vizier for a few months and then, in 1854, he was again
appointed Foreign Minister and, in 1855, Grand Vizier (until the following
year). He continued in high office for most of the rest of his life, being
Foreign Minister in 1857-8, July 1861 and November 1861 to 1867, and Grand
Vizier in 1858-9, 1861 and 1867-71. After Fu'ád Páshá's death in 1869, he
combined the posts of Foreign Minister and Grand Vizier. He was a successful
diplomat and one of a small group of Turkish statesmen determined to steer
Turkey into the nineteenth century, but he tended to be authoritarian and
overbearing in his personal manner. He died on 7 September 1871 after three
months of illness.