The Charter for the World Centre Lawh-i-Karmil
This well-known Tablet in Arabic was revealed by Bahá’u’lláh on Mount Carmel and is one of the most momentous revealed during His Ministry. The first time Bahá’u’lláh visited Haifa was in 1868 when the Austrian Lloyd steamer arrived there in the morning of 31 August. Haifa was then a small town. Bahá’u’lláh disembarked from the ship, stayed a few hours on shore and then sailed to the prison-city of ‘Akká. About fifteen years later, when He had moved His residence to the Mansion of Bahji, Bahá’u’lláh paid a short visit to Haifa and stayed in a house in the German colony. As we have mentioned in a previous volume, a number of German Templers, expecting the return of Christ, went to the Holy Land and built houses at the foot of Mount Carmel, but none recognized Him when He appeared among them. Bahá’u’lláh even lived in their houses and revealed a Tablet for their chief, yet they remained deprived of the knowledge of the advent of the Day of God. The third visit took place in 1890 when He again stayed in the German colony; and the fourth visit, about a year before His ascension, took place in 1891 when He spent about three months in that area.
[1 Translated into English by Shoghi Effendi, Gleanings from the Writing of Bahá'u'lláh, XI.]
[2 See vol. 3, pp. 28-31.]
It is believed to be on this occasion that Bahá’u’lláh went to the Cave of Elijah on Mount Carmel. Centuries before, a Christian order had built a monastery over it in the expectation that Christ, returning in the glory of the Father, would bless it with His presence. It is not surprising that, like the German Templers, none of the monks who were present at the time recognized the station of Bahá’u’lláh when He visited that place. Bahá’u’lláh pitched His Tent in close proximity to the monastery and there revealed the Tablet of Carmel. It is well known that in the future a Mashriqu’l-Adhkar (Bahá’í House of Worship) will be built on that site.
This Tablet contains significant allusions to the establishment of the World Centre of the Faith and is considered its charter. Before the revelation of this Tablet there was apparently nothing in Bahá’u’lláh’s Writings concerning the international Seat of His world-encircling order. From the moment He blessed the mountain of God with His footsteps, mysterious forces were released for the creation of the spiritual and administrative centre of the Faith, a centre from which the world-vivifying energies latent within His Revelation will flow to mankind.
In the Tablet of Carmel Bahá’u’lláh enters into a dialogue with the mountain, Carmel. This is not unusual; in other Tablets He has similarly addressed certain cities or locations — for instance His address to the Land of Ta (Tihran), or His dialogue with Jerusalem as revealed in the Lawh-i-Aqdas. The dialogue in the Tablet of Carmel is at once beautiful, profound and moving. The sublime picture that Bahá’u’lláh has portrayed begins with Himself as He directs His footsteps towards Carmel; the first act in this divine scene is when the voices of ‘all created things’ are heard addressing Carmel. Then comes Carmel’s jubilant words in thanksgiving to its Lord and finally Bahá’u’lláh’s response.
All glory be to this Day, the Day in which the fragrances of mercy have been wafted over all created things, a Day so blest that past ages and centuries can never hope to rival it, a Day in which the countenance of the Ancient of Days hath turned towards His holy seat. Thereupon the voices of all created things, and beyond them those of the Concourse on High, were heard calling aloud: `Haste thee, O Carmel, for lo, the light of the countenance of God, the Ruler of the Kingdom of Names and Fashioner of the heavens, hath been lifted upon thee.’
Seized with transports of joy, and raising high her voice, she thus exclaimed: `May my life be a sacrifice to Thee, inasmuch as Thou hast fixed Thy gaze upon me, hast bestowed upon me Thy bounty, and hast directed towards me Thy steps. Separation from Thee, O Thou Source of everlasting life, hath well nigh consumed me, and my remoteness from Thy presence hath burned away my soul. All praise be to Thee for having enabled me to hearken to Thy call, for having honoured me with Thy footsteps, and for having quickened my soul through the vitalizing fragrance of Thy Day and the shrilling voice of Thy Pen, a voice Thou didst ordain as Thy trumpet-call amidst Thy people. And when the hour at which Thy resistless Faith was to be made manifest did strike, Thou didst breathe a breath of Thy spirit into Thy Pen, and lo, the entire creation shook to its very foundations, unveiling to mankind such mysteries as lay hidden within the treasuries of Him Who is the Possessor of all created things.’
No sooner had her voice reached that most exalted Spot than We made reply: `Render thanks unto thy Lord, O Carmel. The fire of thy separation from Me was fast consuming thee, when the ocean of My presence surged before thy face, cheering thine eyes and those of all creation, and filling with delight all things visible and invisible. Rejoice, for God hath in this Day established upon thee His throne, hath made thee the dawning-place of His signs and the dayspring of the evidences of His Revelation. Well is it with him that circleth around thee, that proclaimeth the revelation of thy glory, and recounteth that which the bounty of the Lord thy God hath showered upon thee. Seize thou the Chalice of Immortality in the name of thy Lord, the All-Glorious, and give thanks unto Him, inasmuch as He, in token of His mercy unto thee, hath turned thy sorrow into gladness, and transmuted thy grief into blissful joy. He, verily, loveth the spot which hath been made the seat of His throne, which His footsteps have trodden, which hath been honoured by His presence, from which He raised His call, and upon which He shed His tears.
`Call out to Zion, O Carmel, and announce the joyful tidings: He that was hidden from mortal eyes is come! His all-conquering sovereignty is manifest; His all-encompassing splendour is revealed. Beware lest thou hesitate or halt. Hasten forth and circumambulate the City of God that hath descended from heaven, the celestial Kaaba round which have circled in adoration the favoured of God, the pure in heart, and the company of the most exalted angels. Oh, how I long to announce unto every spot on the surface of the earth, and to carry to each one of its cities, the glad-tidings of this Revelation–a Revelation to which the heart of Sinai hath been attracted, and in whose name the Burning Bush is calling: “Unto God, the Lord of Lords, belong the kingdoms of earth and heaven.” Verily this is the Day in which both land and sea rejoice at this announcement, the Day for which have been laid up those things which God, through a bounty beyond the ken of mortal mind or heart, hath destined for revelation. Ere long will God sail His Ark upon thee, and will manifest the people of Bahá who have been mentioned in the Book of Names.’
Sanctified be the Lord of all mankind, at the mention of Whose name all the atoms of the earth have been made to vibrate, and the Tongue of Grandeur hath been moved to disclose that which had been wrapt in His knowledge and lay concealed within the treasury of His might. He, verily, through the potency of His name, the Mighty, the All-Powerful, the Most High, is the ruler of all that is in the heavens and all that is on earth.