Wednesday, November 28, 2012

More on the Tablet of Ahmad

In the paragraph immediately preceding the penultimate paragraph of the Tablet of Ahmad, we read: 'Learn well this Tablet, O Ahmad. Chant it during thy days... God hath ordained for the one who chants it...' and in the penultimate paragraph, we read: 'Should one who is in affliction or grief read this Tablet...'. In the paragraph before the penultimate one, Bahá'u'lláh twice exhorts Ahmad to 'chant' the Tablet, whereas in the penultimate paragraph, the exhortation is to 'read' the Tablet. For the average Persian or Arabic reader, the two 'chants' and the final 'read' are all derivatives of the root 'to read'. However, Shoghi Effendi as Interpreter chose to translate the first occurrences of this derivative as an act of chanting. It is interesting that the two 'chants' occur in the paragraph where reference is made to the 'reward of a hundred martyrs and a service in both worlds', whereas the word 'read' is in connection with someone who is in affliction or grief. Could it be that chanting calls for a form of ecstatic transport and an inner sense of rapture, which would be closer to the state of surrendering our will to the Will of God?

    ('Ali Nakhjavani, Shoghi Effendi - The Range and Power of His Pen, p. 72)

Q. Could you please elaborate on the significance of the word 'chant' used in the Tablet of Ahmad? Does this mean that we should always try to chant the Tablet, even if we are reading it in a language other than Arabic or Persian?

A. The word 'chant' that Shoghi Effendi has used here is, in my opinion, an expression of ecstasy, of rapture, of spiritual upliftment and exhilaration. This is my understanding. It does not necessarily mean that if you are reading it in a language other than Arabic you should burst into singing it. Far from it! I think there is an inner meaning. When we read this Tablet, it should be with a sense of spiritual excitement, ecstasy, rapture, happiness and joy. All the martyrs, when they went to their field of martyrdom, did so with great joy. They did it for the sake of Bahá'u'lláh, as an act of love. This is the point, not that you should suddenly burst into singing that particular paragraph or that you should chant the entire Tablet. Basically, when we read it we should be in that condition of spiritual attunement to the music of the Kingdom. This is when you surrender your will to the Will of God. When you read the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh about the meaning of martyrdom, He says that there are two types of martyrdom, physical martyrdom and spiritual martyrdom. Physical martyrdom is very clear. Spiritual martyrdom, He says, is when you submit, surrender, and you subordinate your will to the Will of God. This attitude of detachment -- from your own wishes, from your own will, from your own preferences, in favour of the Will of God, whatever may be His good-pleasure, is what represents true spiritual martyrdom. If you are able to surrender your will to the Will of God, you have attained the condition of supreme martyrdom. You are then detached and you are happy about your detachment. You are freeing your soul from the attachments of this world and you are happy.

    ('Ali Nakhjavani, Shoghi Effendi - The Range and Power of His Pen, p. 82)

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