(The Tablet of the Fear of God)
Mīrzā Ḥusayn `Alī Nūrī, Bahā'-Allāh
The Lawḥ al-tuqā [taqwā] (Per.
Lawḥ-i ṭuqā), (`Tablet of the Fear of God'
/ Piety /
Godliness / Righteousness...) has been twice published in the original Arabic,
but never translated into any other language or commented upon in any
currently available Baha'i publication. It only rarely receives cursory or
passing mention. This wholly Arabic Tablet is fairly brief (3-4pp) and its exact
date unknown. Internal evidence suggests the mid-latter part of the Edirne [Adrianople]
period shortly after the break with Mīrzā Yaḥyā (c.1866-7?). The Tablet has the
following revelatory prescript of Bahā'-Allāh himself,
This is the
(Tablet of the Fear of God). Therein He mentions the servant of God
who hath been
named Nabīl before Taqī
to the end that it be a memorial (tadhkira) of him and a remembrance
for whomsoever is protected within the shadow
of His Lord, the Elevated. Such indeed is an expression of great good.
The mention here of the Nabīl before Tāqī corresponds to
the name Muhammad Taqī
in that the
numerical (abjad) value of the words Nabīl and Muhammad are identical (= 92).
There were numerous Bābīs and Bahā'īs with this fairly common name, including, for example,
Hajjī Mīrzā Muhammad
Taqī Nayrīzī (the recipient of the Sūrat al-Ṣabr, `Tablet of
Patience', 1863; Hajjī Mirza Mīrzā Muhammad Taqī, Nabīl al-Dawlih Afnān and
Hajji Mīrzā Muhammad Taqī, Ibn-i Abhar; Mullā Muhammad Taqī Tabarsī and Mīrzā
Muhammad Taqī Khurasānī.
The identity of the Muhammad
Taqī referred to in this
Tablet is not at present known with certainty. Though he had not written to
Bahā'-Allāh he was mentioned and this Tablet was revealed that he and others
might be comforted and not slip on the spiritual Path.
The latter component of the name of the person referred to in
this Tablet, Taqī (= taqiyy, `Godfearing', `Pious', `Devout') is
derived from the same Arabic triliteral root (W-Q-Y., cf. form VIII = T-Q-W) as the
verbal-noun, tuqā which designates this Tablet. This word is expressive of
the `piety', `devoutness' or the characteristic quality of the `fear of God'. The fear of God (tuqā, taqwā
+ many synonyms) is an important ethical concept within the Qur'ān and Islam as
it is within the ethical and theological systems of other major Abrahamic religions (Judaism and Christianity). It is
many times mentioned in both Bābī and Bahā'ī primary scriptural
sources. The following paragraphs sketch out
something of its importance of the fear of God in these Abrahamic religions.
FEAR OF GOD
in the abrahamic religions
The Bahā'ī religion has its most central
doctrinal roots within the Abrahamic religious tradition, where the ethico-religious
implications of the "fear of God" are of great moment. The concept of the "fear
of God" is spoken about in various ways within the sacred scriptures of Judaism,
Christianity and Islām. Generally speaking, it indicates the awesome,
reverential attitude of human beings towards the authority and power of
the Almighty Creator. It should generate such spiritual characteristics as
reverence, wisdom, faith, knowledge and humble obedience (IDB 2:256ff).
The "fear of
God/of the Lord" is mentioned some 40 times in the Bible. A well-known verse
from the book of Proverbs reads, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of
wisdom" (1:7; cf. Ps. 111:10). It has been argued by the academic biblical
scholar Hans W. Wolff that the most prominent theme of the Elohist (the
persona of the so-called "E" strata of the pentateuchal sources,
c. 8th cent. BCE?) is "the Fear
of God" (Wolff, trans Crim, 57ff ). Abraham's readiness to sacrifice his son
Isaac in Genesis 22:12 ("E" source), for example, is closely related to his
exemplifying the "fear of God". An angel tells Abraham to stop and
explains, "Do not lay your hand on the lad [Isaac] or do anything to him; for
now I know that you fear God (yere elohim)." The "fear of God" is here presumed
to be that level of "obedience which does not hold back even what is most
precious, when God demands it and which commits to God even that future which he
himself has promised" (Wolff, 72). In the New Testament Apocalypse,
Book of Revelation it is prophesied that in the "latter days" an angelic
figure would proclaim an "eternal gospel" to all on earth, bidding them, "Fear
God, and give Him glory for the hour of His judgement has come" (Rev.
For the individual
to be "godfearing", to possess the "fear of God", is many times underlined in
the Qur'ān and numerous Islāmic traditions (aḥādīth/
akhbār). In the Qur'ān it is instructive to examine the contexts in
which the occurrences of words meaning "fear" and "godfearing" as derived from
the following Arabic roots: T-Q-W (more than 180 times); KH-W-F (over 120
times); KH-SH-Y (over 40 times ); SH-F-Q (10 times) (for
details and references see the Kassis Concordance : 1390; 1284f; 717f;
711 and 1127).
The "fear of God" is a central feature of Islamic piety. To be "godfearing" is
to be noble in the sight of God (Q 49:13), to be one capable of warding off
evil. It is several times stated in the Qur'ān that God loves the person who is
characterized by the "fear of God" (Q 3:76;9:4,7). Such pious souls shall
inherit paradisiacal "gardens" (Q 3:198, etc.) or inhabit "lofty chambers" in
paradise (Q 39:20, 73, 7:169, 26:80). Paralleling biblical texts the Qur'ān
states that the "fear of God" leads to God-given knowledge (Q 2:282).
Israelite-Jewish or biblical and extra-biblical legacy greatly influenced
qur'anic and post-qur'anic Islamic doctrine.
Biblical and Islamo-biblical exhortations
to piety and the fear of Gos were echoed in numerous Islamic literatures
only a few of which can be registered here. In the large Arabic compilation
of Shi`i tradition compiled by Abu Muhamad Hasan ibn `Ali ibn Shu`ba
al-Harrani (d. )
of the Intellects)
see page 254
The above is but a
limited registering of the implications of the qur'ānic teachings about the
"fear of God". The (twelver) Shī`ī Imams, whose authority is respected by
Bahā'īs, gave various points of definition and guidance about the meanings of
the `fear of God'. An important tradition deriving from the sixth Shī`ī Imām,
Ja'far al-Ṣādiq (d. c.145/765) which is partially cited by Bahā'-Allāh in his
Chahar vadi ("Four Valleys", 55) begins,
"O Isaac, Fear God as if you see Him! And if you see
Him not, He, verily, sees you" (cited Māzandarānī, Amr 3:423-4
The central importance of the "fear of God" in
early and developed Sufism is well illustrated in the following
statement attributed to the Egyptian Sufi gnostic Dhu'l-Nun al-Misri (d.
) as he is cited in the
There he as `One of the Preachers of Egypt' is
reported by Yūsuf b. al-Husayn as having said :
"God never gave to his servants a robe of
honor (khirqa) more excellent than reason [`aql]. Nor did he bestow
upon them a necklace more beautiful than knowledge ['ilm], nor any
ornament more exquisite than the gift of intuitive discernment [ḥilm].
The perfect consummation of all these is the fear of God [taqwa]" (saying 172
circles and groups devoted to an Islamic mystical path, the "fear of God" is
frequently regarded as an essential or important "state" (ḥāl) of the
human soul relative to ongoing and progressive "stations" (maqamāt)
attained by the one who seeks spiritual realization. Abū Naṣr al-Sarrāj (d.
378/988 ) in his Book of Flashes (Kitāb al-luma`) for example,
reckoned "fear" (khawf) among the ten "states" of the soul (see Nasr,
1972: 76). Sufi theorists and mystagogues pondered the importance and attempted
to fathom the significance of that "fear" which has positive import for the
mystic wayfarer. In his The Revival of Religious Sciences (Iḥyā' `ulūm
al-dīn) Abū Ḥamīd al-Ghazālī (d. 505 /1111) considered the
"fear of God" (al-khawf) one of the paramount virtues among the
nine principal "stations" of the mystic path (see Iḥyā' 4:155ff.)
born paragon of Islamic mysticism, the Great Shaykh, Muḥyī al-Dīn Ibn `Arabī (d.
638 /1240) reckoned that the one who is truly "god-fearing" is among those who
are the recipients of that spiritual knowledge [gnosis] (ma`rifah) which
is beyond ordinary learning (al-Futūḥāt II:297). Summing up Sufi
teaching Margaret Smith has written, "the true Fear of God, to the
fear of grieving Him and of doing that which may be a cause of separation from
Him" (Smith: 172, see also index, fear ).
In his seminal al-Insān al-kāmil... (The Perfect Human...) the
Shī`īte Sufī `Abd al-Karīm al-Jīlī (d. c. 832/1428) writes “God sent down
the Tawrāt unto Moses on nine alwāḥ (“Tablets”; cf. Q.
17:101). He was commanded him to communicate seven of them and abandon
two... the [seven] alwāḥ contained the scienes (`ulūm) of the ancients and
moderns”. In view of the description of the Tawrāt in Q. 5:46, al-Jīlī also
states that the first two alwah were characterized by “Light” and
“Guidance” (Insān, 1:114). The seven communicated alwah were
made of marble (ḥajar al‑marmar) each exemplifying a particular
divine quality, save the seventh which had to do with guidance on the
· Tablet 1 =
· Tablet 2 =
al‑hudā (Guidance) (cf. Q. 5:44)
· Tablet 3 =
Tablet 4 = al‑taqwā (Piety-the Fear of God)
Tablet 5 =
Tablet 6 =
Tablet 7 = "The explication (wuḍūḥ) of the way of
felicity (tarīq al‑sa`āda) as opposed to the way of distress (tarīq al‑shaqāwā)
and the clarification of what is foremost" (Insan Kamil, vol.
al-Jīlī asserts that the above sevenfold message in the Tablets was
the substance of what God commanded Moses to instruct the people. Tablet
number 4 is centered in or characterized by al‑taqwā, that is righteousness, piety
or the fear of God.
Within certain of his works the important Shī`īte philosopher Şadrā
al-Dīn Shīrāzī, often referred to as Mullā
(d.1050/1640), including his
commentary upon Kulayni's al-Uṣul al-kāfī
("What is sufficient respecting the Basics of the Sciences of Religion") there
exist citations from a range of Abrahamic sacred scriptures highlighting
the supremacy of ḥikmat ("Wisdom") and the closely related "fear of God". In his
al-uṣul al-kāfī, for example, he quotes the whole range of pre-Islamic
scripture in commenting upon the following saying of the fourth Imam, `Alī Zayn
al-Ābidīn (d. c. 96/713) in the form of a ḥadīth qudsī relayed
from the prophet Daniel:
‘If the people knew what was involved in the search after
knowledge (al-`ilm) they would assuredly seek it even though it
involved the shedding of one’s life-blood or plunging down into the abyss.’
Thus did God inspire Daniel with the words; `Abhor my servant the ignorance
of such as look despairingly upon the truth of the custodians of knowledge
(bi-ḥaqq ahl al-`ilm); denounce mere imitation of others. The most
beloved of my servants are such as incline towards the fear of God (al-taqwā),
those who seek after an abundance of merit before the learned (`ulamā’),
subordinate to the wise (al-ḥukamā’) who speak out wisdom’
(al-ḥukamā’) (Sh-Kafi, 3:86).
After quoting a saying taught to Alexander the Great and some
advice which Luqmān bequeathed to his son, Mullā Şadrā makes the
following highly ecumenical statement, "Know that the rest of the books of God
(kutub Allāh) [also] articulate the grace of wisdom (nāṭiq bi-faḍl
al-`ilm)." He comes to cites the Islamo-biblical Zabūr (Psalter),
introduced in the following way,
And as for the Zabūr, God (exalted be He), said [therein],`O
David! Say unto the learned [Rabbis] (aḥbār) of the children of
Israel and their monks (ruhbān) : `Speak of such people as are
God-fearing (al-atqiyā’). And if you do not find among them the fear
of God (taqīy an) then converse with the learned
ones (`ulamā’). And if you do not find it with them, converse with
the wise (al-`uqalā’). then [know that] the fear of God (al-taqā),
knowledge (al-`ilm) and wisdom (al-`aql) are three realities
which exhibit a degree of oneness such that if but one of them is not found
in any one of My creatures, I have desired his destruction (Sh-Kafi,
The Bāb reiterated
many of the qur'ānic statements about the "fear of God" and echoed certain Sufi
maxims about this important quality (cf. Heggie: 235-6). The need for an
eschatological "fear of God" is several times commanded in his early Qayyūm al-asmā'.
In, for example, Surah 40, the Sūrat al-Insān (Surah of the [Perfect] Man
[Humanity]), the Bāb commands Shī`ī Muslims to "fear God" relative to his
[Babi] "Cause" (al-amr = religion) and the coming greatest
messianic Dhikr-Allāh, who is one registered in the Archetypal Book and mighty
about the "Point of Fire":
يا معشر الشّيعة
اتّقوا اللّه من امرنا فی ذكر اللّه الاكبر فانّه قد كان فی امّ الكتاب من
نقطة النّار عظيماً
O Concourse of Shi'i Muslims! Fear ye God!
with respect to Our Cause, regarding him who is the Supreme Remembrance of
God. One Mighty [inscribed] indeed in the Archetypal Book,
nigh the Point of Fire.
Addressing the people
of the earth in this same work, the Bāb exhorts them to fear God on the
Day of the True One (QA. 70: 283). This again in the light of the imminent
appearance of the expected messianic Remembrance (al-dhikr), for
Baha'is both the Bāb and secondarily Bahā'-Allāh.
continued to emphasize the centrality of the "fear of God" for the spiritual
aspirant. All human beings should endeavour to be be truly godfearing. The
ethical teaching of the "fear of God" is frequently spoken about in a good many
of his major and minor Persian and Arabic revelations reckoned as scriptural
Tablets (alwāḥ). In certain of the Tablets of the two decade or so
long, Ottoman Iraq and Turkey years (1853-1868) as well as later periods,
key qur'ānic-Sufi dimensions of the "fear of God" are registered and
interpreted. Within both the Seven Valleys (Haft Vādī) and the
Four Valleys (Chāhār Vādī) the spiritual wayfarer is exhorted
to "fear God" in order to be receptive to spiritual inspiration and knowledge.
At various points
in his ethico-legalistic Most Holy Book (al-kitāb al-aqdas) (c.
1873), Bahā'-Allāh exhorts human beings to obey his laws, live a pious
though happy life and some 16 times to "fear God". In his Lawḥ-i dunyā ("Tablet
of the World "), he comments on the function of the regulations or laws of His
Most Holy Book in the light of the role of the "fear of God"
"that which guardeth and restraineth man both inwardly and
outwardly. Indeed, it is man's true protector and his spiritual guardian"
The second epigram
of Bahā'-Allāh's aṣl-i kull al-khayr ("The basis of all
good" or "Words of Wisdom") asserts that "The essence of wisdom" is, first
and foremost, the "fear of God" (al-khashiyat `an Allāh)
In his Ishrāqāt ("Splendours") Bahā'-Allāh states that he has
"admonished Our loved ones to fear God (taqwā Allāh)" commenting
that this quality is a "fear which is the fountainhead of
all goodly deeds and virtues" and is "the commander of the hosts of justice in
the city of Bahā" (TB:120). According to the fourth Ishrāq
in this particular writing, the very success of the Bahā'ī Cause relates to the
acquisition of those spiritual qualities that revolve around and are born out of
that "fear of God" which is all surrounding and all encompassing, possessing a
kind of dominion or sovereignty:
"In this revelation the hosts that can render it [
the Bahā'ī religion] victorious are the hosts of praiseworthy deeds and
upright character. The leader and commander of these hosts hath ever been the
fear of God (taqwā Allāh), a fear that encompasseth all things and
reigneth over all things" (TB:126, cf. p.121)
speaking, the "fear of God" is omnipresent. In the "first leaf" of the
firdawsiyyih ("Words of Paradise") the "fear of God"
Allāh) is reckoned as a "sure defense and a safe stronghold for the peoples
of the world"; as "the chief cause of the protection of mankind, and the supreme
instrument for its preservation" (TB:63).
that it is of paramount importance that children be taught to understand the
oneness of God and the religious laws of God through which the "fear of God"
would be inculcated. Without this bad deeds and unworthy sentiments would abound
(Bahā'ī Education, 4). In his last major work He states, "The fear of God
hath ever been the prime factor in the education of His creatures. Well is it
with them that have attained thereunto" (ESW:27)
The central importance tuqā / taqwā
within Baha'i piety is
evident in the late `Akkā period Persian Lawḥ-i Dunyā (Tablet of the
World, c. 1890?) of Bahā'-Allāh where we at one point read:
taqwā righteousness, O people of Bahā! This, verily, is the commandment
which this Wronged One (al-maẓlūm = Bahā'-Allāh) hath given unto you, and
the first choice of his unrestrained Will for every one of you." (Per. Text,
Majmu`ih.. 48; trans. Shoghi Effendi, TB:86).
Not at all a cringing terror before the Almighty Creator,
tuqā/ tawqī, the `fear of God' in Bahā'ī spirituality is an inner quality
which is closely related to the human conscience and to knowledge, wisdom and
actions expressive of piety, righteousness, equity and love.
The `Tablet of the Fear of God' begins with an affirmation of
the continuing, post-Bābī divine revelation of verses that peoples might
orient themselves "upon a path unto the vicinity of the "Spirit
nigh the Throne of their Lord", be receptive of the Bahā'ī
message of Bahā'-Allāh. The people, the primarily Bābī audience should "Fear
God! (ittaqū'llāh)" in humility before the divine Beauty
(jamāl) with the name of
(bi-ism al-bahā') in the realm of Eternal Subsistence (jabarūt al-baqā')" who is
identical with the Bāb, if they desire to manifest befitting receptivity to the
grace of God. In Tablets of the early Edirne (Adrianople) period the spiritual
identity of the Bāb and Bahā'u'llah is often and in varying ways spelled out. Baha'u'llah claimed to be the "return" of the Bab and to reveal verses
Through the Person of
Bahā'-Allāh, it is asserted that key eschatological signs have been fulfilled. Revolutionary
changes have been effected and the invitation is made to enter and travel in
"the Crimson Ark (fulk al-ḥamrā')". For
Baha'is this latter
soteriological motif which is rooted in various surahs of the Qayyūm al-asmā' (and other writings of the Bab), is representative of the Cause of
Bahā'-Allāh. Entry therein is to the end that a lofty goal might be attained, which is
guarded from the aspersions cast by unbelieving Bābīs and others.
Allusion is made to the inadequacy of such persons as Mīrzā
Yaḥyā and their known failure to accept the claim of Bahā'-Allāh. He seems to be
alluded to as "one who
publicly turned aside from God".
Others consider that such new revelations are not in
conformity with the fitra, "the natural human disposition"; they do not
feel right even though the God-given innate disposition was created by the Word
of God itself. Still others accuse Bahā'-Allāh of magic or sorcery. This is a fallacious
accusation made against all the prophets and messengers of the past.
The original spiritual creation of Mīrzā
Yaḥyā is recounted in symbolic language as is his being accorded the al-asmā' al-ḥusnā ("Most
Beautiful Names") of God and
elevated unto a station (maqām) which resulted on his being greatly
renowned among a wide spectrum of peoples. The resulted in his pride and public
renunciation of the "Logos-Self of God" (= Bahā'-Allāh).
Further paragraphs of this Tablet call peoples to righteous
piety and honesty; to the "fear of God". The strong and allusive language of the Lawḥ-i tuqā quite frequently echoes that of the Qur'ān. Bābīs should not make the errors which Muslims made in rejecting the Bāb. This
Tablet is primarily a call to the followers of the Bāb to make the transition to
faith in Bahā'-Allāh despite the hostile attitude of his half-brother, the
one-time leading Bābī Mīrzā
Yaḥyā Nūrī (c.1834-1914).
هذا لوح التقى
(The Tablet of
Piety-Righteousness- the "Fear
Prov. trans. Stephen Lambden
(Rev. May 1998)
Trans. from the Arabic Haifa
supplied text (July 1984)
Mss text also found in INBMC
83:100-103 and printed in AQA ADD.
هذا لوح التقى
This is the Lawḥ al-tuqā
(Tablet of the Fear of
عبد الله الذي سمي بالنبيل قبل تقى ليكون تزكرة له وذكرى لمن استطل في ظل ربه
وأن هذا لخيرعظيم
Therein He mentions the servant of God who hath
been named Nabīl before Taqī (= Muhammad Taqī) to the end that it be a
memorial (tadhkirat) of him and a remembrance
for whomsoever is protected within the shadow of His Lord,
Such is indeed an
expression of great good.
ألامنع الأقدس الأبهى
He is God, the Most Transcendent, the Most Holy, the
فسبحان ألذي نزل الايات بالحق من جبروت عزعليا وينطق بالحق في ملكوت الاعلى
بلسانه الا يدع الا حلى لعل الناس يتخذون، الى جهة الروح تلقاء
عرش ربهم الرحمن بالحق سبيلا
Praised be unto God Who hath, in very truth,
sent down the
verses from a mighty, elevated, domain of power and in truth crieth out in His Most Exalted Kingdom with His most-sweet, wondrous Tongue  This perchance the people might truly orient themselves upon a path
unto the vicinity of the Spirit nigh the Throne of their Lord the All-Merciful.
قل ياقوم اتقوالله ولا تتيعوا اننسكم ان ارتقبوا فضل الله وان
فضله كان عليكم محيطا
وان استشرقت عليكم شمس الكلمات عن افق طيك الا سماء
والصفا ت ازالا تستكبروا تم اسجد والجمال ربكم الذى كان
في جبروت البقا باسم البها وفي ملکوت الا شا بالعلى مذكورا
Say: `O People, Fear ye God!
and follow not your own
selves; if, that is, you befittingly await the Bounty of God and that His Grace encircle you round about.
 And if you anticipate that the Sun of the words [of God]
(shams al-kalimāt) should irradiate
you from the horizon of the King of divine Names and Attributes then wax not proud  but fall
prostate before the
Beauty of thy Lord who dwells with the name of Bahā' in the realm of
Subsistence (jabarūt al-baqā') and with the celebrated name of `Alī in the Kingdom of
Say: `O People,
disbelieve not in
the verses of God after they have been revealed!
And follow not Satan
nor your own selves as a [false] patron
(waliyy an) '.
 Beware lest you be
disturbed at the advent of He
through Whom things have been
disordered,  through whom heaven hath been
cleft asunder,  the nethermost earth
rent,  the mountains
leveled,  the oceans made to surge;
 through whom every
woman with child shall cast aside her burden  and [through whose
advent] drunkenness seized the dwellers of
both the heavens and of the earth (cf. Q. 22:2c).
Wherefore was the
Cause sent down in very truth from the Pen of Holiness, and God is
witness unto that which I say.
Cast then aside whatsoever
from God, then ascend up with the wings of detachment
unto this heaven which
hath been upraised through the Truth and was secretly carried
through my All-Glorious Name
Say: By God!
The breezes of Divine Bounty
hath wafted from the Orient of Divine Justice (mashāriq al-`adl)
thereby hath all things been rendered pregnant [as would be
evident] if thou should, in this respect,
be among those truly informed.
contingent Being (al-imkān) will assuredly cast aside its trust [burden]
whereupon you shall witness the unbelievers
in flight both to the right and to the left
of finding for themselves any secure place of refuge.
Wherefore do We inform thee of the Announcement of the Cause
to the end that thou might attain unto the mysteries veiled beyond
of divine Might (surādiq al-`izz).
Say: O people!
Take hold of the Crimson Goblet from the fingers of Bahā'!  Then be detached from whomsoever is on
the earth and in heaven and if you be capable within your own selves ride through My Supreme Name upon the Crimson Ark (fulk al-amrī')
and traverse ye the Ocean of Grandeur to the end that you may attain the [heavenly] Seat which was guarded from the matters rumored among the unbelievers.
hearken, O people!
unto the Call of God which comes from
all sides and be not inclined towards such as have disbelieved in he in whom
they [previously] had faith [Bahā'-Allāh = the Bāb] rendering them remote from the Path of the True One
 And among the unbelievers was he who made efforts (mujāhid
through his worldly goods [provisions] and relative to his own
self for the elevation of Our [My] Cause but when Our
Beauty was manifested unto him he disbelieved in it and was forthwith overturned [fleeing] upon his heels.  And O thou [Babi] servant! Although there was not presented from you a communication before the hands of the Divine Throne, yet when your name was mentioned there was revealed for you what giveth solace to your eyes and to the eyes of such as hath believed in God and stand upright upon the Ṣirāṭ
(Path) of Might.  So
stand upright within thyself perchance some [pernicious] thing might cause
you to slip upon the Ṣirāṭ
(Path)  Then render thanks unto thy Lord in that He hath sent down for you a Mighty, Wondrous Tablet
(lawḥ `izz badī` an) Thus have We been gracious unto you through the wonders of Our Bounty
and have communicated unto you that wherein you
shall find the perfumed fragrances
of thy Lord and, through refuge in the shadow of the protection of thy Lord, achieve, in very truth, a secure
And among the people was the one who publicly turned aside
from God.  If you should recite the verses of God unto him he would be dishonored
[lit. `would blacken his face'] and would revert unto his people [as] one detested.
 Among the people are also such as do say, `Such is not what
hath been sent down according to the natural human disposition (al-fitra).
Say: `By God!
The natural human disposition (al-fitra) hath indeed been created by but a single letter
thereof.'  Unto
this testifies what flows from a wondrous, sacred Pen.  And among the people are also such as calumniate against God and say,
`This is naught but a sorcerer [magician] who bewitches the people and, through what
emerges from his mouth, renders
their hopes of no effect.'  They rejected
the prophets (al-nabiyyīn) and the Messengers (al-mursalīn) and disparaged [were disdainful of] the religion of God
O People! Fear God! (khāfī `an Allāh)
and utter not
that which the unbelievers said the moment when the Sun of Pre-Existence (shams al-qidam) beamed forth with manifest sovereignty (bi-sulṭān mubīn
an) from the Dawning-Place of Hijāz.  This do the
unbelievers say at the time of every Prophet (nabī) until Days
[dispensations] were consummated with the onset of
of God (ayyām Allāh) and the Ancient Beauty (jamāl al-qidam)
forth from the horizon of an elevated Name
an) [=`Alī? Bahā'-Allāh succeeds the Bāb].
And you, O servant!
sanctify the [hearing of] the ear of
holiness (udhn al-quds; = Bahā'-Allāh) from the words of the unbelievers (kalimāt al-mushrikīn).  Then enter with the permission of thy
Lord, the All-Merciful, the overflowing waters [bounties] of
this Ocean that thou may find the priceless Pearls of Wisdom 
Say: `We took a handful of dust [=
Mīrzā Yaḥyā Nūrī]
and kneaded it with the waters of the Cause which
cometh from Us  Therein did We breathe a Spirit from Our
(al-rūḥ an min amr). 
We ornamented it with Our Most Beautiful Names
(bi-asmā'inā al-ḥusnā') in the Kingdom of Origination
al-inshā') and elevated it [him] unto a station which became
amongst all whether [young] insignificant or great
[aged] (ṣaghīr wa kabīr
an).  Yet when his maturity was fully realized
and he achieved inner repose within himself, then did he wax proud against the Logos-Self of God and His Sovereignty (nafs Allāh wa sulṭnahu)
until he publicly waged war against Him  Wherefore was the decree pronounced against
the Exalted, the Elevated Beauty of
(jamāl Allāh al-`alīyy al-`alā) by the determining finger of God.
Say: `O People, Fear God! (ittaqā
acting negligently with respect to the direction of God [cf. Q. 39:57].
 By God! This is indeed the Announcement of He through whom the eyes of the denizens
of the Concourse of Eternity
have been solaced, (qarrat `uyūn ahl malā' al-baqā')  the One preserved beyond the veils of Light through the
protection of God  When the times were completed he shone forth from the
Horizon of Holiness with a Proof which
encompassed all the worlds.  And thou, should thou ponder upon this Proof
then with what manner of proof would thy faith be confirmed?  Nay! By He through the Light of His Whose
Countenance the heavens hath beamed forth! never would thou [without due
reflection] discover for your selves an Evidence pointing
toward the True One [Truth] (al-ḥaqq).
Say: O People!
Should there there appear amongst you a
Messenger of God (rasūl Allāh) with His scriptural traces [writings] (āthār) then rise up from your couches, take firm hold of Him with the fingers of acceptance (bi-anāmil
al-taslīm), then inhale deeply
that you may find from him the perfume of God, thy
Beloved One, such that thou reject Him not.  Wherefore hath the Cause (al-amr) been sent down from
the celestial realm of holiness on the part of One Mighty and Powerful.  Furthermore, O people! Follow ye the Faith of
God (millat Allāh) and His Religion (dīn) and commit not that
which you hast been forbidden in the Book.  Fear ye God! (ittaqā Allāh) and be upright in His Cause.  The unbelievers will indeed summon someone from hereabouts and cause to enter into his
heart the hatred of God and of the Manifestation of His
Logos-Self (maẓhar nafsihi).  They shall dispatch him unto the regions
and unto you [= the believers] and with him is that which will cause the people of
turn aside from a Mighty, Luminous [Path].  Blessed be unto whomsoever is not disturbed
by the convulsions of godlessness and is upright in the Cause of his Master.  By God! He assuredly is better before God than whomsoever hath been created,
it encompass the totality of what is between the heavens and the earth.
 Such is of the announcements of the
Unseen (anbā' al-ghayb) which We shall reveal for thee and for as a
Bounty which cometh from Us upon thee and upon everyone possessed of certainty
and insight.  Glory be upon thee! and upon such as have sought refuge in the
shade of this Lote-Tree (al-sidra) which has in truth been raised up and
planted with the bounteous hand of God in the Midmost-Heart [Pivot] of Riḍwān (quṭb al-riḍwān)
SELECT EXPOSITORY NOTES
I:6 Say: `O People, disbelieve not in the verses of God after
they have been revealed! and follow ye not Satan nor thine own selves as a
[false] Patron (waliyy an).
In this verse BA* instructs the people to follow his revealed
verses not following any satanic individual
I:7 Beware lest ye be disturbed at the advent of He through
Whom things have been disordered [agitated, Dh-R-B; VIII). This is perhaps a
reference to the Bab and his revolutionary religion.
I:8 "...through Whom heaven hath been cleft asunder". The last
words here (VII, F-T-R) could have been translated "split", " ....cf. Q.19:90; 42:5;
I:9 "the nethermost earth (arḍ al-suflā) rent" (> Sh-Q-Q;
I:10 "the mountains (al-jibāl) leveled.." (> VII
D-K-K) cf. Q.69:14; 89:21ff)
I:11 ".. the oceans (al-biḥār) made to surge.." (Q. ??);
I:12 ["] every woman with child [possessor of a womb] shall cast
aside her burden ["] (taa`u kullu dhāti amlahā) [cf. Q. 22:2b] I:12
"every woman with child ([pregant] possessor of a womb) shall cast aside her
burden (taa`u kullu dhāti amlahā). This phrase is a near citation of Q.
22:2b = "every woman with child shall discharge her burden (taa`u kullu
dhāti'l-amlahā)" -- no definite article. In the Qur'ān the phrase dhāt
ḥaml (lit. possessor of a womb) indicates a "pregnant woman" or "woman with
child". The last word ḥamlahā (translated) "her burden" is indicative of
what the women will cast away or discharge (cf. also Q. 20:100; 22:12-13)
I:13 ".. and drunkenness (al-sukr) shall seize the
dwellers (sukkūn) of [both] the heavens and of the earth..". This phrase
is rooted in Q. 22:2c which immediately follows the qur`ānic reference to women
casting aside their burden (= I:12). The relevant passage in Q. 22:2c reads,
"Thou shalt see people [as] drunken (sukar˙) yet they will not be
intoxicated (sukar˙) though the Torment [Doom] of God (`ah˙bata Allāhi)
will be severe (shad˙d)." Bahā'-Allāh interprets the "drunkenness" of
"humanity" (al-n˙s) as a universal or cosmic phenomenon embracing the
inhabitants of both "earth" and "heaven".
I:14 ".. Wherefore was the command sent down in very truth
(al-amr bi'l-aqq) from the Pen of Holiness (al-qalam al-quds); and
God is witness unto that which I say..."
I:15 ".. Cast ye aside then [cf. Q.22:2b] whatsoever veileth ye
from God then ascend ye up with the wings of detachment unto this heaven wherein
the Truth (al-aqq) hath been upraised and was secretly carried aloft
through my All-Glorious Name (k˙nat `al˙ ism˙ al-abh˙' bi'l-sirr marf˙`
an)..." There is allusion back here to the near citation from Q. 22:2 with
the command to XXXXXX "Cast ye aside then [cf. Q.22:2b]
II:1 "Say: By God! The breezes of [Divine] Bounty (nas˙'im
al-fal) hath wafted from the Orient of [Divine] Justice (mashriq al-`adl)
and thereby hath all things been rendered pregant (a[m]malat?) [as would
be evident] if thou shouldst be in this respect [truly] informed.
II:2 ".. [Indeed!] Contingent Being (al-imkān) will
assurdly cast aside its trust [burden] (yaa` al-imk˙n amlah˙) whereupon
thou shalt witness the unbelievers (al-mushrikهn) in flight both to the
right and to the left though incapable of finding for themselves any secure
[place of] refuge (maqarr an am˙n an). The Arabic verbal root F-R-R is
indicative of flight or the act of fleeing. See Kasis:438 see -- Q. 26:21... Q.
33:16; 62:8; 80:34;
II:3 ".. Wherefore do We inform thee of the Announcement of the
Cause (nab˙' al-amr).." A probable allusion to Q. nab˙' al-a`am)
3b "... to the end that thou might attain unto the mysteries
(asr˙r) veiled hidden beyond the pavilions of Might (sur˙diq al-`izz).
III:1 "Say: O people! Take ye hold of the Crimson Goblet (k˙'is
al-ḥamrā') from the fingers of Bah˙'!
 Then be ye detached from all that is on earth and in heaven
and if thou be capable within thyselves ride in My Supreme Name (bi-ism˙ al-a`l˙)
upon the Crimson Ark (fulk al-amr˙') and traverse ye the Ocean of
Grandeur (bar al-kubriy˙') to the end that thou mayest attain the
[heavenly] Couch [Seat]] (maq`ad) which was guarded from the [things]
cast [aspersions] (R-M-Y) from the unbelievers..." (See Khasis 1020 cf. Q.
III:3 ".. So hearken, O people! unto the Call of God (nid˙'
Allāh) which cometh from all sides and be ye not inclined towards such as
have disbelieved in He in Whom they [previously] had faith [Bah˙'u'll˙h = the
B˙b] rendering them remote from the Path of the True One (sab ˙l al-aqq).
III:4 ".. And among the unbelievers (al-mushrik˙n) he who
hath striven after [clamoured for] (muj˙hid an ) his worldly goods
[provisions] (amw˙l) and relative to his ownselelf [as opposed to] the
elevation of Our [My] Cause (l˙ `al˙ amr˙)..."
 This such that when Our Beauty (jam˙l˙) was manifest
unto him he disbelieved in it was forthwith overturned [fleeing] upon his heels (`al˙ `aqibay[i]hi munqal[l]ib an?). VII-Q-L-B) 
III:6 ".. And thou, O thou [Babis] servant! Although there was
not presented from thee a communication before the hands of the [Divine] Throne (al-`arsh) yet when thy name was mentioned there was revealed for
thee what giveth solace to thine eyes and to the eyes of such as hath believed
in God and [stand] straight upon the Sirat [Path] of Might (sirat al-`izz).
III:7 So stand ye upright within thyself perchance some
[pernicious] thing might cause thee to slip upon the ir˙t (Path).
III: 8 ".. Then render thanks unto thy Lord in that He hath sent
down for thee a Mighty, Wondrous Tablet (law `izz bad˙` an)."
III:9 ".. Thus have We been gracious unto thee through the
wonders of Our Bounty and have despatched [sent] for thee what
A further Note of the Baha'i concept of the "fear of God"
and a bibliographical Appendix on this subject
Shoghi Effendi (c.
1896-1957), the great-grandson of Bahā'-Allāh was asked about the `exact
meaning' of the expression "fear of God" mentioned in Bahā'ī sacred scripture.
On his behalf it was pointed out that "it often means awe, but has also other
connotations such as reverence, terror and fear" (From a letter written on
behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 13, 1940, cited Lights of Guidance : No. 789.) It was also the case that on Shoghi Effendi's
behalf, some aspects of the Bahā'ī teaching about the "fear of God" were summed
up as follows,
"You ask him about the fear of God: perhaps the [Baha'i]
friends do not realize that the majority of human beings need the element of
fear in order to discipline their conduct? Only a relatively very highly
evolved soul would always be disciplined by love alone. Fear of punishment,
fear of the anger of God if we do evil, are needed to keep people's feet on
the right path. Of course we should love God -- but we must fear Him in the
sense of a child fearing the righteous anger and chastisement of a parent; not
cringe before Him as before a tyrant, but know His mercy exceeds His justice"
(Letter dated July 26, 1946, cited Lights of Guidance :No. 494.)
In explaining how
the "fear of God" should be taught to children, the Guardian of the Bahā'ī Faith
found no objection to this being done by means of parables: he added, "the child
should be made to understand that we don't fear God because He is cruel, but we
fear Him because He is just, and, if we do wrong and deserve to be punished,
then in His justice He may see fit to punish us. We must both love God and fear
Him" (Letter cited in ibid No. 313.)
From the Bahā'ī
point of view then, the "fear of God" is not a trembling consternation before a
terrible Deity. Rather, it can be viewed as an inner spiritual realization and
experience of the dictates of the Divine Will and Purpose juxtaposed alongside
one's own merely fallible human desires, will and knowledge. This can be a
positive spiritual experience. The "fear of God" should be viewed as a loving
realization of God's sublime knowledge, justice and magnanimity; a reverential
awe before the Divine Providence. Obedience to the law of God is a consequence
of the "fear of God". Born out of the love of God -- not something alien to a
positive relationship with Him -- it is an humble consciousness of His Will that
lies at the very root of true human spirituality. When the individual "fears
God" he or she takes humble note of Divine Revelation and listens to their
essential spiritual conscience operating through the "spirit of faith" which is
a "ray" of the "sun" of the Holy Spirit. Being in the state or condition of the
"fear of God" actualizes the related spiritual qualities of knowledge and love.
Ibn `Arabī, al-Futūḥāt al-makiyya, vol. 2 Beirut: Dār
The Bāb, Qayyūm al-asmā', Mss. copied in 1905-6 C.E. [Afnān
Bahā'u'llāh, Mirza Husayn `Ali Nuri,
Tablets of Bahā'u'llāh revealed after the
Kitāb-i-Aqdas, (= TB) Haifa: Bahā'ī World Centre, 1978.
Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, (= ESW)
(trans. Shoghi Effendi) Wilmette, Illinois: Bahā'ī Publishing Trust, 1971.
An Index of Quotations from the Bahā'ī Sacred
Writings, Oxford: George Ronald, 1983.
Lights of Guidance, 2nd Ed. New Delhi:
Bahā'ī Publishing Trust, 1978.
A Compilation on Bahā'ī Education, Oakham:
Bahā'ī Publishing Trust, 1976.
al-Ghazālī, `Abd al-Hamid,
Iḥyā' ulūm al-dīn. vol.4 Beirut: Dār
Kassis, H., A Concordance of the Qur'an, London:
University of California Press, 1983.
Māzandarānī, Fāil-i, Amr va
Vol. 3/4 Hofheim-Langenheim: Bahā'ī-Verlag, 1986/142 Badī`, esp. p. 423ff.
Nasr, Seyyed Hossein, Sufi Essays. Albany: SUNY
Q = Qur'ān.
Smith, M., The Way of the Mystics, The Early Christian
Mystics and the Rise of the Sufis, London: Sheldon Press, 1976.
Terrien, S., Fear, in The Interpreter's Dictionary
of the Bible, (= IDB) Vol. 2 Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1962, pp. 256-260.
BAHA'U'LLAH baha'u'llah Bahá'u'lláh