New volume of Baha'i sacred writings is published

31 July 2006

A new volume of selected writings by Baha'u'llah, entitled "The Tabernacle of Unity," has been recently translated and published in English.

This latest publication of the Baha'i World Centre contains five "tablets" - letters - written by Baha'u'llah to individuals of Zoroastrian background in the 1800s. As such, these tablets provide important insights into the interrelatedness of religion.

The first two tablets presented in this book are based on questions posed to Baha'u'llah by a Manikchi Sahib, a diplomat representing the Parsees of India in Persia. Manikchi Sahib had become an admirer of Baha'u'llah and therefore decided to pose certain questions that he had concerning issues of religion.

The last three tablets contained in this book are addressed to other early Baha'is of Zoroastrian background that had similar questions.

Though all of these tablets were addressed to individuals who had Zoroastrian roots, Baha'u'llah's responses to these inquiries are not limited to a Zoroastrian perspective.

"The nominal thread that unites these five Tablets is that they were all revealed over a century ago to individuals of Zoroastrian background," said Steven Phelps, a translator working in the Research Department of the Baha'i World Centre. "However, too much of a focus on this angle might make the volume seem backward-looking and irrelevant when in fact its message is very much for the here and now.

"While restating some of the central tenets of the Faith, such as the organic unity of the human race, the progressive character of divine revelation, and the world-embracing nature of Baha'u'llah's prophetic claim, the volume also opens new vistas on the Baha'i writings with its discussion of the boundary between the absolute and the relative in religious truth.

"Perhaps most importantly of all, the volume speaks eloquently to the urgent need for religion to reclaim its place as a world-unifying, world-transforming force," said Dr. Phelps.

While portions of these tablets have been previously translated, the volume represents the first time they have been presented in English in full.

For example, the well-known quotation, "Ye are the fruits of one tree and the leaves of one branch," comes from the second tablet of the book which was addressed to Mirza Abu'l-Fadl, a famous early Baha'i scholar.

The translation of this book was prepared by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice, which works from original documents. This English rendering combines the efforts of a number of translators, who strive to follow the pattern established by Shoghi Effendi, head of the Baha'i Faith and its authorized interpreter from 1921 until his death in 1957.

Although the documents identified as Baha'u'llah's primary works have been the focus of translation work so far, they represent only a small portion of His writings during His 40-year ministry.

The book can be ordered through the US Baha'i Distribution Service and a number of other Baha'i publishing trusts worldwide.

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