Tablets Revealed by Baha'u'llah in Kurdistán
A summary and analysis of some of the tablets and writings of Baha'u'llah written during his isolation in Kurdistan
Bahá'u'lláh's retirement to the mountains of Kurdistán opened a new chapter in the history of His Revelation. Here He lived in utter seclusion for some time on a mountain named Sar-Galú, far away from the world; He left behind His loved ones and admirers, as well as those who had betrayed Him and brought about, through their evil designs, the near extinction of the Cause of the Báb. He had with Him only one change of clothes which were made of coarse material of the type worn by the poor; His food was chiefly milk and occasionally a little rice; His dwelling-place was sometimes a cave and sometimes a rude structure made of stones; and His companions, as attested by Himself in a Tablet addressed to His cousin Maryam, were the 'birds of the air' and the 'beasts of the field'. In the Kitáb-i-Íqán, He refers to those days in the following words:
From Our eyes there rained tears of anguish, and in Our bleeding heart there surged an ocean of agonizing pain. Many a night We had no food for sustenance, and many a day Our body found no rest...Alone, We communed with Our spirit, oblivious of the world and all that is therein...
Alone in the wilderness, He chanted aloud many prayers and odes extolling the attributes and glorifying the character of His Revelation. These outpourings could have revivified the souls of men and illumined the whole of humanity, but were instead confined to this remote land; and these words of God were, alas, for ever lost.
He also meditated on such things as the Cause of God which He would manifest, the fierce opposition His enemies would launch, the adversities which had already befallen Him and were still to come, and the perversity and unfaithfulness of the leaders of the Bábí community who had stained the good name of, and brought shame upon, the Cause of the Báb.
After Bahá'u'lláh had spent some time in that area, a certain Shaykh Ismá'íl, the leader of the Khálidíyyih Order, a sect of Sunní Islám, came in contact with Him and was intensely attracted to His person. In the end he succeeded in persuading Him to leave His abode for the town of Sulaymáníyyih. There, within a short period of time, Bahá'u'lláh's greatness became manifest not only to the leaders of religion and men of learning but also to all the inhabitants of the area.
His recognition as a man of outstanding qualities and knowledge occurred when His exquisite penmanship was first noticed, as well as His masterly composition and the beauty of His style in the letters He wrote acknowledging some messages He had received from a few religious leaders. It is interesting to note that some of these letters written by Bahá'u'lláh to eminent personalities such as Shaykh 'Abdu'r-Rahmán, the leader of the Qádiríyyih Order, Mullá Hámid, a celebrated divine of Sulaymáníyyih, and to a few others, have been left to posterity and testify to His sorrow and anguish in those days. In a letter He wrote to Shaykh 'Abdu'r-Rahmán He laments the loss of His trusted Muslim servant, Abu'l-Qásim-i-Hamadání, who accompanied Him from Baghdád and was attacked and killed by brigands.
Bahá'u'lláh's fame thus spread in Sulaymáníyyih and to neighbouring towns. He soon became the focal point for many who thirsted after true knowledge and enlightenment. Without disclosing His identity He appeared among them day after day, and with simplicity and eloquence answered their questions on various abstruse and perplexing features of their religious teachings. Soon the people of Kurdistán, as testified by 'Abdu'l-Bahá, were magnetized by His love. Some of His admirers even believed that His station was that of a Prophet.
One of the most outstanding events of Bahá'u'lláh's sojourn in Sulaymáníyyih, which captured the hearts of the people, was the revelation in public of a poem in Arabic known as Qasídiy-i-Varqá'íyyih. The divines of Sulaymáníyyih requested Bahá'u'lláh to undertake a task, which no one had previously accomplished, of writing a poem in the same rhyme as Qasídiy-i-Tá'íyyih, one of the works of the celebrated Arabic poet Ibn-i-Fárid.
Accepting their request, Bahá'u'lláh dictated no less than two thousand verses as He sat in their midst. Amazed at such a revelation, those present were spellbound and lost in admiration at His performance. They acclaimed His verses as far superior in their beauty, lucidity and profundity to the original poem by Ibn-i-Fárid. Knowing that the subject-matter was beyond the people's comprehension, He chose one hundred and twenty-seven verses and allowed them to be copied.
If we remember that Bahá'u'lláh was a Persian and that He had not attended a school where the intricacies of the Arabic language were studied, this poem, from the literary point of view alone, stands out as a great testimony to His genius which was born of the Divine Spirit. The words He has used in this poem are very rich in their meanings and as they blend together, they produce a divine orchestra of spiritual melodies. With the use of only one or two words Bahá'u'lláh often makes reference to a verse of the Qur'án or a certain tradition of Islám. In this way, within a line He alludes to and welds together a series of passages from the Qur'án, revealing thereby the mysteries of God's Revelation. Each one of these verses is like an ocean created from many rivers flowing together, and hidden in their depths are innumerable pearls of wisdom and knowledge.
After His return to Baghdád, Bahá'u'lláh wrote some footnotes to this poem; in these He gave the meanings in Persian of the difficult words and also interpreted some of its abstruse verses. In two or three instances He even pointed to His own apparent deviation from grammatical rules which, in the circumstances, He clearly justified.
The theme of the Qasídiy-i-Varqá'íyyih is the praise and glorification of the Most Great Spirit which had descended upon Him in the symbolic form of the 'Maid of Heaven'. There is a dialogue between Himself as the Bearer of God's Message and the Holy Spirit personified as the Maid of Heaven, whose attributes and splendours He glorifies. For His own part, He dwells on His past sufferings, recounts the cruel fashion in which His enemies had imprisoned Him with chains and fetters, speaks of His grief and loneliness and resolutely affirms His determination to arise and face, with steadfastness and joy, any calamity which might in the future descend upon Him in the path of God.
The poem demonstrates the relationship between the person of the Manifestation of God and the Holy Spirit which animates and sustains Him. It also throws light on the immensity of the spiritual domains of God from which all Revelations have been sent down.
Apart from this poem, some prayers and meditations were revealed by Bahá'u'lláh in Kurdistán, which are written in His own hand and have been preserved for posterity. Among them is another poem known as Sáqí-Az-Ghayb-i-Baqá. This is in Persian and again, like other odes of Bahá'u'lláh, is soul-stirring and very beautiful. It expresses His longing for the day when the glory of His Countenance will be unveiled to men and the splendours of His Revelation will shed their light upon them. It affirms that those who desire to attain the light of His Revelation must detach themselves from all earthly things, and warns them that they will be acceptable in His presence only when they are ready to offer up their lives in His path.
Excerpt from the Revelation of Baha'u'llah by Adib Taherzadeh