A new volume of Bahá'í sacred writings, recently translated and comprising Bahá'u'lláh's call to world leaders, is published

1 May 2002

A new volume of recently translated writings of Bahá'u'lláh, comprising a series of powerful messages written to world leaders, has been issued by Bahá'í World Centre Publications.

Titled "The Summons of the Lord of Hosts," the 272-page book contains authoritative English translations of six major works written by Bahá'u'lláh in the latter half of the 19th century. Collectively, the works clearly enunciate Bahá'u'lláh's claim to prophethood and offer a prescription for peaceful and just leadership in the modern world.

"Never since the beginning of the world," declares Bahá'u'lláh Himself in the book, "hath the message been so openly proclaimed."

In addition to such pronouncements, Bahá'u'lláh outlines requirements of the kings and rulers, including reduction of armaments, the resolution of international conflicts, and reduction of expenditures which placed unnecessary strain on the subjects.

Specifically, the book collects the Suriy-i-Haykal [Surih of the Temple], Suriy-i-Ra'is [Surih of the Chief], Lawh-i-Ra'is [Tablet of the Chief], Lawh-i-Fu'ad [Tablet to Fu'ad Pasha], Lawh-i-Sultan [Tablet to the Shah of Iran], and Suriy-i-Muluk [Surih of the Kings].

While portions of some of these works have been translated and published before, "The Summons of the Lord of Hosts" marks the first time full-length and fully researched translations of them have been released.

The collected volume represents only a fraction of Bahá'u'lláh's output during His 40-year ministry, when He revealed thousands of tablets which altogether represent a volume more than 70 times the size of the Qur'an and more than 15 times the size of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.

Not only is the size of the revelation significant, but also -- thanks in part to access to both original documents and the historical context in which they were revealed -- the Bahá'í Faith has a much more direct link to its origins than is enjoyed by most other religions.

The primary work in the volume is the Surih of the Temple, regarded as one of Bahá'u'lláh's "most challenging works." It includes letters addressed to several individual monarchs, Napoleon III, Czar Alexander II, Queen Victoria, and Nasiri'd-Din Shah, the Emperor of Persia, and also to Pope Pius IX.

Bahá'u'lláh's address to Nasiri'd-Din Shah is the longest of all these letters, in which He offers to meet with the Muslim clergy, and to provide whatever definitive proofs of the new revelation they would require to test Bahá'u'lláh's claim.

Another major work is the Surih of the Kings, described by Shoghi Effendi as "the most momentous Tablet revealed by Bahá'u'lláh in which He, for the first time, directs His words collectively to the entire company of the monarchs of the East and West."

"Lay not aside the fear of God, O kings of the earth, and beware that ye transgress not the bounds which the Almighty hath fixed … Be vigilant, that ye may not do injustice to anyone, be it to the extent of a grain of mustard seed. Tread ye the path of justice, for this, verily, is the straight path," Bahá'u'lláh asserts in a statement outlining the requirements of just leadership.

There are also passages of spiritual significance, such as Bahá'u'lláh's exposition in the Surih of the Chief explaining the progress of the human soul in its path towards God.

To record the words of revelation as He was inspired, Bahá'u'lláh would occasionally write them down Himself; but it was typical for the revelation to be spoken aloud to His amanuensis. The dictation was sometimes recorded in what has been called "revelation writing" -- a shorthand script written with extreme quickness owing to the speed with which the words were uttered. These original "revelation writing" drafts were later revised and approved by Bahá'u'lláh.

These "revelation drafts," as well as the many other transcriptions of Bahá'u'lláh's writings are held in the International Bahá'í Archives. The collection encompasses approximately 17,000 items, some of which are in Bahá'u'lláh's own handwriting, while others are transcriptions made by either Bahá'u'lláh's amanuensis or other known scribes, under Bahá'u'lláh's direction.

The translators and scholars of the Research Department now work from photocopies of the original documents, with the originals available from the Archives if they are needed. All of the translations combine the efforts of a number of translators, who strive to follow the pattern for translation of Bahá'í sacred writings set by Shoghi Effendi, head of the Bahá'í Faith and its authorized interpreter from 1921 until his death in 1957.

The book can be ordered through the United States Bahá'í Distribution Service, 4703 Fulton Industrial Boulevard Atlanta, GA 30336-2017, USA (telephone: (800) 999-9019; email: bds@usbnc.org).

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