Shoghi Effendi wrote:
"The revelation of the Tablets of the Divine Plan, during the somber days of that tragic conflict, had, in the concluding years of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's ministry, invested the members of the leading Bahá'í community in the West -- the champions of a future Administrative Order -- with a world mission which, in the concluding years of the first Bahá'í century, was to shed deathless glory upon the Faith and its administrative institutions."
(God Passes By, p. 405)
He also described them as "the epoch-making Tablets of the Divine Plan." (Messages to America, p. 108)
Abdu'l-Baha revealed fourteen Tablets of the Divine Plan over the course of a year - the first was this one, revealed to the Baha'is of the Northeastern States just after Naw-Ruz, in March, 1916, and the final one in March, 1917, addressed to the believers throughout the United States and Canada. Here is the text of that first immortal tablet:
Revealed on March 26, 1916, in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s room at the house in Bahjí, addressed to the Bahá’ís of nine Northeastern States of the United States: Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York.
O ye heavenly heralds:
These are the days of Naw-Rúz. I am always thinking of those kind friends! I beg for each and all of you confirmations and assistance from the threshold of oneness, so that those gatherings may become ignited like unto candles, in the republics of America, enkindling the light of the love of God in the hearts; thus the rays of the heavenly teachings may begem and brighten the states of America like the infinitude of immensity with the stars of the Most Great Guidance.
The Northeastern States on the shores of the Atlantic—Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York—in some of these states believers are found, but in some of the cities of these states up to this date people are not yet illumined with the lights of the Kingdom and are not aware of the heavenly teachings; therefore, whenever it is possible for each one of you, hasten ye to those cities and shine forth like unto the stars with the light of the Most Great Guidance. God says in the glorious Qur’án: “The soil was black and dried. Then we caused the rain to descend upon it and immediately it became green, verdant, and every kind of plant sprouted up luxuriantly.” In other words, He says the earth is black, but when the spring showers descend upon it that black soil is quickened, and variegated flowers are pushed forth. This means the souls of humanity belonging to the world of nature are black like unto the soil. But when the heavenly outpourings descend and the radiant effulgences appear, the hearts are resuscitated, are liberated from the darkness of nature and the flowers of divine mysteries grow and become luxuriant. Consequently man must become the cause of the illumination of the world of humanity and propagate the holy teachings revealed in the sacred books through the divine inspiration. It is stated in the blessed Gospel: Travel ye toward the East and toward the West and enlighten the people with the light of the Most Great Guidance, so that they may take a portion and share of eternal life. Praise be to God, that the Northeastern States are in the utmost capacity. Because the ground is rich, the rain of the divine outpouring is descending. Now you must become heavenly farmers and scatter pure seeds in the prepared soil. The harvest of every other seed is limited, but the bounty and the blessing of the seed of the divine teachings is unlimited. Throughout the coming centuries and cycles many harvests will be gathered. Consider the work of former generations. During the lifetime of Jesus Christ the believing, firm souls were few and numbered, but the heavenly blessings descended so plentifully that in a number of years countless souls entered beneath the shadow of the Gospel. God has said in the Qur’án: “One grain will bring forth seven sheaves, and every sheaf shall contain one hundred grains.” In other words, one grain will become seven hundred; and if God so wills He will double these also. It has often happened that one blessed soul has become the cause of the guidance of a nation. Now we must not consider our ability and capacity, nay, rather, we must fix our gaze upon the favors and bounties of God, in these days, Who has made of the drop a sea, and of the atom a sun.
Upon you be greeting and praise!
These Tablets were sent to the believers in North America twice. First, in 1916, they were sent by postcard, in Persian and Arabic with English translation, to the address of Joseph Hannen, a prominent early believer. Not all of them reached their destination. This was during the days of World War I and the postcards bear the Crescent and Star seal of the Ottoman censor.
|Tablet of the Divine Plan to the Northeastern States in Persian and Arabic, on the front and reverse of a postcard, and bearing the original signature of Abdu'l-Baha|
|English translation of Tablet to the Northeastern States, on the front and reverse of two postcards|
|Tablet of the Divine Plan to the Northeastern States in calligraphy by Nuri'd-Din, bearing the original signature of Abdu'l-Baha at the bottom left.|
After the war, in 1919 the same Tablet, in exquisite calligraphy, was brought to the United States.
These images were obtained from the U.S. National Baha'i Archives. The Archivist said that the National Spiritual Assembly has stated that they can be shared freely with the friends. If you copy these images and share them with others, please include the photo credit: "Courtesy, Baha'i National Archives, Wilmette." Please click on the images for larger photographs.
Please see this posting for further details about Abdu'l-Baha's signatures on the postcards and on the calligraphy, the seals on the postcards, and the return address in Haifa.
Hand of the Cause of God Amatu'l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum, wife of Shoghi Effendi, wrote of these fourteen tablets. She was herself a participant at the Annual Convention of which she writes:
"In 1919, at the Annual Bahá'í Convention in New York, the Tablets revealed by 'Abdu'l-Bahá at a time when He was in great danger during the First World War and which have come to be known as the "Vehicles of the Divine Plan" and the "Spiritual Mandate," conferred by Him on the North American Community of Believers, were unveiled. We American Bahá'ís are all familiar with their remarkable and stirring contents. We were all immensely proud to receive them. No one, however, except Martha Root and a few other venturesome souls, felt moved to do anything drastic about carrying out the instructions contained in them prior to 1936-37. It was then that Shoghi Effendi's teaching, inspiration and advice began to pour into the minds and hearts of the American Bahá'ís like an incoming tide. He called us to action. For eighteen years, we had basked happily and complacently in the praises and promises 'Abdu'l-Bahá had showered upon us in those Tablets, and in many other writings and statements. The Guardian, however, his fingers on our pulse, knew that we were now able to arise for pioneer work, and through the instruments of the Administration he had so carefully assisted us in evolving, carry forward the frontiers of our achievements. He was, thank God, not mistaken in the confidence and trust he reposed in us. He called and America responded. People from every walk of life, business men, stenographers, old ladies, young ladies, people with families, people often frail in health but iron in spirit, began to arise, and what may in future well be viewed as one of the greatest spiritual sagas of the American nation, began to take place. They were called pioneers, and into new cities, into the virgin States of the United States and the virgin Provinces of Canada-virgin as yet to Bahá'u'lláh's light-these people began to move, at the cost of great personal sacrifice and inconvenience, inspired by nothing but faith and devotion and love for their fellow men, they started to lay the foundations for new Bahá'í communities by establishing new Spiritual Assemblies as a result of their teaching activities."
(Twenty-Five Years of the Guardianship, pp. 10-11)
This Tablet to the Northeastern States, as can be seen from the postcards above, were sent in honor of Hooper Harris. A resident of New York City, he had become a Baha'i in 1899. An attorney by profession, he had joined with Harlan Ober in 1907 to answer the call of Abdu'l-Baha for American believers to travel and teach the Faith in India. The two of them traveled with Mirza Mahmud Zarqani, the chronicler of Abdu'l-Baha's three year journey to the West, and Ibn-i-Abhar, one of the four Hands of the Cause of God appointed by Baha'u'llah Himself. En route to India they attained the presence of Abdu'l-Baha on pilgrimage in 'Akka, where He gave them instructions. This teaching journey was immortalized by Shoghi Effendi's pen: "Hooper Harris and Harlan Ober traveled, during no less than seven months, in India and Burma, visiting Bombay, Poona, Lahore, Calcutta, Rangoon and Mandalay." (God Passes By, p. 261)
|L-R Mirza Mahmud Zarqani, Hooper Harris, Harlan Ober, Hand of the Cause of God Ibn-i-Abhar. Photograph taken in Bombay, India in 1907. All images, courtesy Baha'i National Archives, Wilmette, Illinois, USA|