Tablet of Unity
by Bahá'u'lláhtranslated by Juan Cole
originally revealed as "Lawh-i-Ittihad" in Arabic.
He is God. Exalted be his station, of wisdom and utterance.
A letter reached this wronged one from one of those Sayyids who had advanced toward God, had heard and replied to their lord, the kind, the generous. All are mentioned before the most great countenance. We ask the Eternal Truth to confirm all of them in that which will cause them to be mentioned forever.
You asked about unity. On the primary level is unity of religion. This unity has ever been the means by which the cause of God has been made triumphant, throughout the centuries and ages. Gathering together is itself the spiritual sword of God. For instance, if a government noticed that the majority of the country's inhabitants had pierced the veils and advanced toward the horizon of the divine revelation, it would fall silent and listen to what was being said. And every soul who grants it a hearing will attain to mystical insight into the Eternal Truth, may his glory be glorified-save for those souls who are altogether distant from divine compassion and who unreservedly deserve divine wrath and chastisement. Such souls are in any case deprived and stunted.
On another level, unity is unity of speech. This is most necessary. For instance, consider that if two souls from among the friends of the Absolute Truth arrive in a land and speak about a matter so as to dispute with one another in their discourse, this would become a cause for contention. They and all the others would thereby be deprived of the bounty of unity that has been revealed by the pen of the lord of creation. Among the helpers of God is discourse. In this greatest of dispensations, deeds and ethics are the armies of God, and are busy aiding him. If discourse is delivered in a measured fashion, it is a divine mercy. If it goes to excess, it becomes destructive. In the tablets, we have advised all to employ a sort of discourse that has the characteristics of milk hidden within it, and to nurture the children of the world with it so that they might be brought to the age of maturity. In every station, discourse becomes apparent by virtue of some quality, and shines because of some impact. The scent of good or bad wafts from it.
In another station, by unity is meant unity of deeds. For differences therein become a source of difference. When this wronged one was exiled from Baghdad to Edirne, on the road I arrived at a mosque. Different daily prayers could be seen in that place. Even though it would be correct to describe each as the daily prayer, each was distinguished in some respects from the other. If the party of the Qur'an had truly implemented what was revealed by the pen of the All-Merciful, everyone on earth would have had the honor of believing in Islam. Differences in deeds became a cause of difference in the cause itself, and the cause was weakened. One prayed with hands clasped, another with hands open. One pronounced greetings during the bearing of witness, while another said "Peace." Beyond these examples, one group danced about and called it the remembrance of God. I take refuge in God, who is sanctified and purified of above such forms of mention, and is innocent of them.
Consider the Law of the messenger [Muhammad] of God--may the spirits of all else be his sacrifice--as a sea. They have hived off from this sea innumerable straits, and this has weakened the Law of God among his servants. Even to this day neither kings nor subjects, nor the poor, have understood the reason, nor how lost honor could be restored and lost knowledge recovered. They were not aware, nor are they still. One strait is Shi`i and another is Sunni; another yet is Shaykhi. One strait is Ni`matu'llahi, another is Naqshbandi. One is Malamati, another is Jalali. One is Rifa'i, another is Kharabati. "If you count the paths to hell, you will never reckon them all." Now, stones cry out and the most high pen wails. Consider what happened to this system of religious Law, the light of which was the illumination of the world, and the fire of which was the guide for peoples-that is, the fire of its love. Blessed are those who think, and those who discern, and those who are fair. This difference in deeds caused the edifice of the cause of God to be shaken. People of the Bayan, listen to the call of the wronged one. Do not inflict calamities on yourselves as past religious communities have done. He revealed the proof and made manifest the path. Take care not to differ with regard to what was revealed from the heaven of the will of your lord, the mighty, the omnipotent.
By the life of God, if someone else could have been found to speak or to arise, this servant would not have uttered a single word. The point is that God would not have delivered him into their hands-that is, the hands of the people of the Bayan. Consider, people of insight. Purify and sanctify your hearts and breasts with the water of life that flows from the pen of the All-Merciful. Busy yourselves with helping, with the troops of good deeds, pleasing ethics and divine words. This is the counsel of God that has been revealed by the most high pen in the tablets.
Among them is the unity of station. This unity is the basis for the rise and exaltation of the cause among the servants. When the idea of being higher and better appears among the servants, the world is destroyed and desolated. Those souls who have drunk from the sea of the discourse of the All-Merciful and are gazing toward the highest horizon must view themselves as dwelling in a single locality and having a single station. If this matter is established and is realized by the power and might of God, the world will become the most glorious paradise. Yes, human beings are precious, just as it is said in every one of God's verses. But to see oneself as most learned, most just, most judicious, most virtuous, most pious and most exalted is a serious error. Blessed are those souls who are adorned with the ornament of this unity and given success by God. Consider the clergy of Iran. If they had not considered themselves the most exalted and the best of the people, their poor followers would not have busied themselves with cursing and pronouncing imprecations on the desire of the worlds. A person-no, an entire world-stands bewildered at those artificial and negligent persons. The fire of pride and haughtiness has consumed all, but they are unaware and still oblivious. They have not attained even a droplet from the sea of knowledge and learning. Shame on them, and on what they have said and done on the day of recompense and on this day wherein the people have risen up for the lord of the worlds. If the most high pen desired, it could mention the levels of unity in everything and in every affair in their entirety. but this task would require it to be occupied for years.
Among them is the unity of persons and wealth, and with this station we will close our discussion of unity, by our own decree, and we are the mighty, the sovereign. This is a unity that forms the wellspring of gladness, joy and delight, if they only knew and understood. The negligent mullahs should not say, 'To whom should this wealth return?' It should return to everyone. This unity produces philanthropy, and philanthropy is beloved in the divine Book, before and after. This philanthropy relates to wealth, not to anything else above and beyond it: "Preferring others above themselves, even though poverty be their portion. And whoso is guarded against the avarice of his own soul, those-they are the ones who prosper." (Q. 59:9). This station is above equality. Equality involves depriving the servants of God of the things he had graciously bestowed on them. Enjoy the comforts of life and help others like you to enjoy them. This station is most beloved, so that all might share in the bounty and have a portion of grace. Those who prefer others to themselves enjoy, in reality, a station above other stations, and what was mentioned by the All-Merciful in the Qur'an bears witness to this saying.
Party of God: Shall the highest pen lament for itself or for what has occurred in the world? Matters have come to such a pass that puddles claim to be seas and lizards claim to be eagles. What has happened, and what clouds of smoke have encompassed the world? Does the fragrance of revelation not waft, and is it not superior to other scents? Can the straight path not be distinguished from the routes of Satan? No, by my soul. The Eternal Truth, with all its attributes and actions, is superior to all else. Those who possess insight are in no confusion about it, nor shall they ever be. The intent of the unity of souls is love of God, and the word of God, such that all should gather around it and cling to it. Everyone with insight and intellect confirms what has been revealed by the most high pen. Each of the unities that have been mentioned is a troop in the army of God and a party of the parties of God and a cause among the causes of God. The unity of souls has ever, from the beginning of creation until the present, been a help to and support for God-that is, the unity that came about because of the command of God and his divine legislation. In this station unity does not go beyond this level. The most high pen at this time ever counsels its friends to unity and concord, so that thereby the cause of God, the guardian, the subsisting, can be made manifest. The same considerations exist with regard to wisdom. Some of the divine friends have not observed wisdom and have remained oblivious to its station. They have provoked an uproar in some lands. Listen to the call of this wronged one and act in accordance with what was revealed in the tablets. Until you have a hearing, do not open your lips. Until you find blessed and fertile soil, do not sow the seed of wisdom. One shares the divine word when one finds willing eyes and ears. The same is true with regard to fertile soil. Some have occasionally spoken things that went on to cause harm to the original Lote Tree. Say: People, fear God and do not be among the wrongdoers. Fear God and do not be among the ignorant. Barren land is unsuitable for planting. The ears of idolatry are unsuited to hearing about monotheism.
Party of God, from the most high pen there has been revealed that, which is the cause of the life of the world. All must for the sake of God contemplate the divine unity, so that you will not be like adherents of the previous religion who spoke the word but were derived of the meaning, and worshipped mere names, just like those who adore idols. Even so, they considered themselves monotheists and possessors of certainty. But the Eternal Truth revealed the deeds that had been hidden and the punishment meted out to that people. On the day of judgment their degree of exaltation, loftiness, high station, status and belief in the unity of God has become clear and apparent to the peoples of the world.
My name: Deliver the greetings of this wronged one to the divine friends. Advise them to follow what God has counseled them in psalms and tablets. Blessed are the emigrants who relocated for the sake of God, until at last they arrived at this might prison. They advanced for the sake of God and turned toward God. Their reward shall be bestowed by the one who fashioned, created, nourished, aided and taught them, and who caused them to speak his mention and praise. He is, in truth, powerful above all things. The glory shining from the horizon of the heaven of my compassion be upon those whom God has made successful in acting in accord with what was revealed in his firm and incontrovertible book. Praise be to God, the lord of the worlds. We ask him at the close of this Tablet to aid and help them with both invisible and visible troops, and to make them victorious in his Cause. He is, in truth, powerful over what he wills, and in his grasp are the reins of all things. No God is there but he, the one, the mighty, the all-knowing.