February 8, 2015

Risálah fi’s-Sulúk ilá Alláh (The Spiritual Journey towards God) – by the Báb [1]

-- provisional translation by Todd Lawson

“In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate” (Qur’an) [2]

Be steadfast, O seeker of piety, in the station of affirming the divine unity. As God, exalted be He, has said:

“As for those who say ‘our Lord is God’ then continue steadfast, the angels descend upon them saying ‘fear not, nor be grieved, and receive good news of the Garden which ye were promised!’” (Qur’an)

Know ye that “the paths to God are as numerous as the breaths of the creatures” yet, there is “no Soul but One” (Qur’an) and there is no religion but the one religion, and it is the “Cause of God and our Command is but a single Act” (Qur’an)

“So set thou thy face steadily towards the True Faith – the Nature made by God – in which He has made men. There is no altering in God’s creation.” (Qur’an)

Verily, Religion is supported by four pillars:

1) Affirming the divine unity
2) Prophethood
3) Guardianship, and
4) The community of true believers

These are four gates, none of which is of any use without the others.

And all of this is the “Face of God which never perish” (Qur’an). And this is the love of the Family of God which is the same as the love of God. This is the Hidden Treasure to which the Prophet, upon Him and His family be peace, openly alluded when He said: “Above each good is another good until one loves us, and when one loves us there is no good higher.” (Qur’an)

So love, beloved, lover, and Beloved are four divine signs appearing from the radiant self-manifestation of the family of God in you and in your soul. Whenever these four signs are remembered within you and your heart is illumined, and your soul stirred, and your spirit moved and your body quakes with longing, then you are truly among the people of paradise and the companions of the Commander of the Faithful, upon him be peace.

Indeed, at such a time you are in conformity with the “True Religion” (Qur’an) and the "True Balance” (Qur’an) and the obvious and clear “Path Above” (Qur’an) this station there is no good.

Thus one ascends unto the abode of the permanence of God.

There is no end to the love of God and no finish.

This is the guiding principle of the search.

There can be no question, the Sharí'a in its entirety is one method in the quest of the servant for his Lord, but it must be according to the guiding principle and goal as I have described.

As for the road to attaining the guiding principle — know that attainment to the station of your own sign is attainment to your Lord. And this is the station of pure piety towards God, exalted be He, as when one of the prophets asked of God, praised be He, “How can we attain to Thee?” (Qur’an) God, may He be exalted, said, “Cast away thyself and rise to Me.” (Qur’an)

And this is why the station of the novices is conditional upon denying the self what it passionately desires and forcing upon it what it detests because there is no veil more base for the servant than his own self.

By God! If you struggle against yourself you will by and by send it to the station of nearness and remembrance and intimacy in the shade of your Beloved and adore Him above all else, to the extent that even if you were cut to shreds you would not be negligent of His station. Because, the [true] knower is he whose heart is with God; such a one has no speech, thought, nor act except in, by, with and about God, exalted be He.

Neglect not your personal struggle and thereby forfeit “thy portion in this world but do thou good as God has been good to thee.” (Qur’an)

And if you are neglectful it will be your great loss on the Day of the Return and you will say: “Ah! Woe is me! – in that I neglected my duty towards God!” (Qur’an)

So pass on whither we have been ordered and fear not “the approaches of those who find fault. This is the grace of God which He will bestow on whom He pleaseth and God is the Owner of all Grace and the All-Knowing.” (Qur’an)

Flee from whatever distracts you from God. Indeed such is a deadly poison which will consume you in flames though you be unaware.

“Nay, were you to know with certainty of mind you would be aware. You shall certainly see hellfire. Again you shall see it with certainty of sight.” (Qur’an) 

It is incumbent upon you to abandon the world and all that is in it. Indeed, it is the chief of all evils. And in your quest do not linger in any one station. Thus a dog of the Jews is better than the people of the marketplace because the people of the marketplace are the people of spiritual torpor. Verily, this lingering is the source of that negligence which bars access to God.

Verily, the world and the hereafter are two spiritual states. If you turn towards God, exalted be He, then you are in paradise and if you are occupied with yourself then you are in hell and in the world. Therefore understand these allusions and sever thyself from all unworthy habits and lusts. Endure patiently the alienation of people and the blame of the companion and the Schadenfreude of the enemy from among family and offspring.

And when you have begun your quest according to this “method” (Qur’an) of search, then the gate of God will open to your soul and you will request entrance into the realm of the holy one.

For the people of insight these subtle allusions will suffice:

“Rend the veils of glory and allusions and efface the idle fancies and rend the veils and be attracted to the exclusive unity — the quality of affirming the divine unity until the light of dawn shines forth from” the sun of thy reality and “you enter the City of Unity while its people are unaware” (Qur’an) “and extinguish the lamp” of everything that has veiled you from God, exalted be He, so that you will attain to the “praised station” (Qur’an) that God, exalted be He, has promised the people who glorify God at night — that is to say the turning towards the absolute divine unity in the midst of intense darkness, as in the verse: “It may be that thy Lord will raise thee up to a praiseworthy station.” (Qur’an)

And “this Book” (Qur’an), on the “way” (Qur’an) of search, is kept brief for those possessed of insight and in it is that which will be sufficient for the pure amongst the affirmers of the divine unity. The particulars have been fully written about by my master, my support, my teacher, the pilgrim Sayyid Kázim al-Rashtí, may God lengthen his life and bring forth from it good results. So seek the “way of your Lord made smooth for thee. There cometh forth from their bellies a drink diverse of hues, wherein for mankind and mercy; while the oppressors increase only in ruin” (Qur’an)

(Tehran Bahá’í Archives Ms. 6006. C)
(The English translation was published in ‘Lights of Irfan, Book 3, 2002)

[1] It is believed that this is one of the Báb’s earliest extant Writings—perhaps the earliest.
[2] Passages from the Qur’an are in quotation marks and identified by accompanying source phrase: (Qur’an)