67 selections from Baha’i writings published online
Updated: May 30, 2019
Sixty-seven selections from the writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha were published for the first time today on the Baha’i Reference Library, including His two well-known and historic Tablets to The Hague. The online publication of the works is a feature of the Reference Library. Launched in September, the feature enables the release of Baha’i writings that, in the course of the work at the Baha’i World Centre, are translated and prepared for publication.
The selections—34 English translations and 33 Persian originals—include several tablets referencing communications with Leo Tolstoy, the renowned Russian writer and admirer of the Baha’i Faith, as well as Isabella Grinevskaya, also a Russian author and a Baha’i who wrote plays about the lives of Baha’u’llah and the Bab.
The Tablets to The Hague were written in the aftermath of World War I to the Central Organization for a Durable Peace in The Hague. The first Tablet, which is of substantial length, includes ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s analysis of the attainment of international peace within the context of the need for wider political, economic, and cultural change. About half of the first letter, penned on 17 December 1919, was translated and published in Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha. It is now being published in its entirety. An early translation of the second, shorter letter, written on 1 July 1920 in response to the Organization’s reply to the first Tablet, had been published in Star of the West in January 1921.
When ‘Abdu’l-Baha wrote the two letters, the Paris Peace Conference was bringing together world leaders to discuss the terms of peace following the end of World War I. The conference led to the establishment of the League of Nations. While praising the League’s aims, ‘Abdu’l-Baha was candid in explaining that it was too restricted to realize peace. He explained that peace would require a profound transformation in human consciousness and a commitment to the spiritual truths enunciated by Baha’u’llah. In the first message, ‘Abdu’l-Baha also identifies many important Baha’i principles, such as the abolition of all forms of prejudice, the harmony of science and religion, the equality of women and men, that religion must be the cause of love, and others.
In the second Tablet, ‘Abdu’l-Baha returns to the idea of the importance of religious faith to the establishment of peace, explaining that His “desire for peace is not derived merely from the intellect: It is a matter of religious belief and one of the eternal foundations of the Faith of God.”
In His message to Isabella Grinevskaya, ‘Abdu’l-Baha praised her efforts to stage theatrical performances about the Bab and Baha’u’llah but cautioned her that people’s attention at that moment was focused on “war and revolution.” However, He added, “the time for staging it will come” and it will “have a considerable impact” in Europe.
Ms. Grinevskaya’s play about the Bab was first staged in St. Petersburg in January 1904. Mr. Tolstoy read the play and wrote Ms. Grinevskaya to praise her and share his sympathy with the Baha’i teachings, according to an article by Martha Root in the 1934-1936 edition of The Baha’i World.