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Tablet of Seven Questions (Lawh-i-haft purish)

by Bahá'u'lláh

translated by Shahriar Razavi
published in Bahá'í Studies Bulletin, 7:3-4, pages 47-57

From Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh, vol. 3, pp 272-3:

The Council of Zoroastrians which was set up by Mánikchí Sáhib[1] consisted of the most prominent Zoroastrians of Yazd. At one time there were nineteen councillors, six of whom became Bahá’ís. As we have already mentioned, Kay-Khusraw-i-Khudádád, the first believer, was among them. Others who joined the Faith were men of learning or people held in high esteem by the community. Notable among them was the renowned Ustád Javán-Mard, the Secretary of the Council. He was a teacher by profession and became a devoted believer. He wrote a letter to Bahá’u’lláh and asked some questions. The Lawh-i-Haft Pursish, in pure Persian, was revealed in his honour.[2] Bahá’u’lláh, in this Tablet, calls him by a new name, Shír-Mard (Lion of a man). . . Shír-Mard was the first Zoroastrian Bahá’í to be buried instead of having his body disposed of in the Dakhmih[3] as was the custom among his people.
In the Name of the Lord of Utterance, the All-Knowing!

Praised be the Sanctified Lord Who, from the effulgence of the Sun of Grace, hath illumined the world. From the letter "'" there hath appeared the Most Great Ocean, and from the letter "Há,'" the Pure Essence. He is the Almighty, Whose purpose the power of men can never frustrate, nor can the hosts of kings hinder His utterance. Thy letter was received and from it was heard thy call. Therein the pearls of love were hid, and the mysteries of kindliness concealed. I beseech the Peerless Lord to confirm thee in aiding His Cause and to assist thee in guiding the sore-athirst in the wilderness of ignorance to the water of life. He is the Able, the All-Powerful. To that which thou hath asked of the Ocean of Knowledge and the Day Star of Wisdom, We now make reply.

   The first question: "First, in what tongue should God, the Peerless, be worshipped and in what direction is it befitting to turn?"

   The beginning of all things is the worship of God, which followeth upon recognition of Him. Sanctified must be the eyes if they are to recognise Him. Sanctified must likewise be the tongue to utter His praise. In this Day, the faces of the learned and the wise are turned in His direction; nay, every direction itself is inclined towards Him.

   O Shír-Mard! I beseech God that thou be a man of action in the arena, and by the power of the Omnipotent, arise and say: "O high-priest![4] Ears have been given you that they may hearken to the mystery of Him Who is the Self-Dependent, and eyes that they may behold Him. Wherefore flee ye? The Incomparable Friend is manifest. He speaketh that wherein lieth salvation. Were ye, O high priests, to discover the perfume of the rose garden of understanding, ye would seek none other but Him, and would recognise, in His new vesture, the All Wise and Peerless One, and would turn your eyes from the world and all who seek it, and would arise to help Him"[5]

   The second question is regarding religion and faith.

   The Faith of God hath, in this Day, been made manifest. He Who is the Possessor of the World is come to guide the people. His faith is righteousness and His ordinance forbearance. This faith bestoweth eternal life and this ordinance leadeth men to the world of detachment. Therein, all faith and religion is contained. Cling ye thereunto and hold fast.

   The third question: "In what manner should we deal with the people of this day who have segregated themselves into separate religions, each regarding their own religion and faith as superior and more exalted than others, so that we may not suffer at their hands and tongues?"

   O lion amongst men! Regard suffering when endured in the path of the Omnipotent as comfort itself. Endured in His path, every pain is a mighty remedy, every bitterness, sweetness itself and every abasement an exaltation. Were men to seek and understand, they would readily offer up their lives for this suffering, for it is the key to treasures. Outwardly, it is abhorrent, but inwardly it is pleasing. We accept and affirm that which thou sayest. The people of this day, bereft of the sun-like effulgence of the true Friend, have considered Him their enemy. Shouldst thou wish to be free from suffering, recite this utterance which hath emanated from the Pen of the All-Merciful:

   "O my God, O my God![6] I testify to Thy oneness and Thy singleness. I beg of Thee, O Thou Who Possessor of Names and Fashioner of Heavens, by the influence of Thine exalted Word and the potency of Thy Supreme Pen, to aid me with the standards of Thy power and might, and to protect me from the mischief of Thine enemies, who have broken Thy Covenant and Testament. Thou art, verily, the Almighty, the Most Powerful."[7]

   This invocation, like unto a mighty fortress and a powerful host, shall protect and deliver thee.

   The fourth question: "Our Books have announced the appearance of Sháh Bahrám with manifold signs to guide the people..."

   O friend! Whatsoever hath been in the Books hath been revealed and made clear. From every direction, the signs have been manifested. The Omnipotent one is calling, in this Day, and announcing the appearance of the Supreme Heaven. The world is illumined by the light of His appearance, yet few are the eyes to behold. Ask of the one true God to bestow wisdom upon His servants. Wisdom leadeth to understanding and hath ever been the cause of salvation. The understanding of the mind is derived from insightful vision. Were the people to gaze with their own eyes, they would, in this Day, behold the world illuminated with a new light. Say: the Day-Star of Wisdom is manifest and the Sun of Knowledge evident. Happy the one who attaineth thereunto, who seest and recognizeth Him.

   The fifth question is regarding the bridge of irá, "paradise" and "hell".

   Verily the Messengers have come and spoken the truth. That which the Divine Harbinger hath announced, hath been and shall be made manifest. The world is established upon reward and punishment. Heaven and hell have ever been and are confirmed by knowledge and wisdom, for the existence of reward and punishment requireth them. The first station and the foremost status is the paradise of Divine contentment. Whosoever attaineth His contentment, is reckoned among the denizens of the most exalted paradise, and, upon the ascension of his soul, shall attain that which mere pen and ink are powerless to describe. The irá, "the balance", "paradise", "hell-fire" and whatsoever hath been mentioned and written in the Divine Books, is clear and evident to those with seeing eyes and to men of great insight. At the hour of the manifestation and appearance of the Day-Star of inner mystery, all dwell in the same station and then God uttereth that which He willeth. He who heareth Him and accepteth Him is called an inmate of paradise. The irá, "the balance" and whatsoever hath been mentioned regarding the Day of Resurrection hath now occurred and come to pass. This day is the Greatest Resurrection. We cherish the hope that, aided by the wine of heavenly inspiration and the Fount of divine bounty, thou shouldst attain the station of discovery and vision, and witness inwardly and outwardly all which hath been mentioned.

   The sixth question: "After relinquishing the body and the departure of the soul to the other place..."

   In this regard, a while ago there appeared from the Pen of Knowledge that which sufficeth the wise and bestoweth greatest felicity upon the learned. Verily, We say, the [departed] soul deriveth happiness from goodly deeds and benefiteth from charity and generosity offered in the path of God.

   The seventh question is concerning the name, lineage and ancestry of the Noble One.

   Regarding this matter, ’Abú'l-Fadl-i-Gulpáygání, upon him be My Glory, hath written of the Heavenly Books that which bestoweth knowledge and increaseth understanding. The Faith of God is endowed with power and might. Erelong will that which the Tongue hath uttered be manifested. We beseech God to empower thee to assist Him. He is the All-Wise, the Most Powerful. Shouldst thou obtain and peruse the Súrah-i-Ra’ís and the Súrah-i-Mulúk, thou wouldst find thyself no longer in need of that which thou hast asked and wouldst arise in service to the Cause of God in such wise that neither the cruelty of the world nor the power of its people would prevent thee from rendering assistance to the Ancient and All-Possessing One. I beseech God to confirm thee in that which shall cause the exaltation and the perpetuation of thy name. Strive, perchance thou mayest obtain these aforementioned Tablets [Súrahs] and acquire therefrom a portion of the pearls of wisdom and utterance which have been revealed from the treasury of the Pen of the All Bountiful.

   Glory be upon thee and upon all who have remained sure, steadfast, firm and faithful.

    [1] A member of the Zoroastrian community of Yazd, ’Irán. The 'Council of Zoroastrians' which he founded was recognized by the Sháh as a support for the Zoroastrian community in that city. Though he did not become a believer, Mánikchí Sáhib was friendly to the Faith and received several Tablets from Bahá’u’lláh, one of which is discussed in Taherzadeh, Adib. The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh, Vol. 3, pp 270-1. For a time, Mánikchí Sáhib employed ’Abú'l-Fadl-i-Gulpáygání, as a secretary, as the latter was a recognized master of the pure Persian language, which the former highly admired (MW's note).

    [2] According to the Leiden List of the Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, this Tablet was revealed in the ’Akká period.

    [3] An open tower, usually built outside the city in which the dead bodies of Zoroastrians are placed and exposed to nature. After the flesh has been devoured by vultures, the bones are thrown into a deep well (Taherzadeh's note).

    [4] Remainder of this paragraph translated by Shoghi Effendi, cited in The Promised Day is Come, p. 77 (SR's note).

    [5] Shoghi Effendi's translation ends (SR's note).

    [6] Prayer translated by the Research Department at the Bahá’í World Center, Haifa (SR's note).

    [7] Translation by the Research Department at the Bahá’í World Center ends here (SR's note).
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