The Awakening of the Sleepers (Tanbihun Naimeen)



This book was composed by Subh-i-Azal’s and Baha’s half-sister Izziyya Khanum known as Khanum-i-Buzurg. The book is commonly called رساله عمه (The Aunt’s Epistle). It was written in reply to Sir Abb as Effendi’s communication inviting her to embrace Bahaism. The author died in A.H. 1332 (1904). Sir Abbas Effendi stepped into the shoes of his father Baha after his death in 1892. The aunt’s Epistle must have been composed between the years 1892 and 1904.

A facsimile of the letter from Abdul Baha to his aunt known as Khanum-i-Buzurg, urging her to believe in Baha and to abjure his half brother Subh-i-Azal.

1. A long reply to this from Khanum-i Buzurg, containing a considerable amount of interesting historical and biographical matter about Bahais, especially during the Baghdad period and the schism between the Bahais and Bayanis; this portion of the book being commonly called رساله عمه (the Aunt’s Epistle); the reply rebuts the pretensions of Baha;

2. A homily خطابه in Arabic followed by a refutation (رساله ردّیه) in Persian, both by Mirza Ahmad of Kerman

3. Fac-simile of the Will and Testament of Baha. The preamble and the concluding notes are in the handwriting of Baha whilst the body of the Will is the handwriting of his secretary. Baha recognised Subh-i-Azal as his chief and admitted to his authority.

Excerpts From The Book

(P. 5): Baha had “an ordinate desire for universal sway” and “an idle fancy for throne” as exalted as the heavens”. He labored under the misapprehension that if the Shah of Iran were come to grief one day, he was bound to step into his shoes.

P.4 Baha received “private tuition” at home in accordance with the norms then obtaining in Iran as regards persons whose parents were in affluent circumstances. He practiced calligraphy and learned the “rudiments of Arabic and literature”. He displayed an aptitude for the “science of philosophy” and for matters connected with “spiritual knowledge (Irfan). He frequented the company of philosophers, knowers of spiritual knowledge and Dervishes”. (PP. 7-8): Baha’s release from imprisonment following the attempt on the Shah’s life in August 1852 was subject to his expulsion from Iran.

Baha's Sufi Friends

(PP. 11-14), obsessed with his “inordinate desire” and “idle fancy”, during his stay in Baghdad, Baha uttered some remarks, which pointed to his “wickedness and insubordination” and exposed his “ulterior motives”. Believers of the first class who would not brook such “words and absurdities” called Subh-i-Azal’s attention thereto. “Reprimanded” by Subh-i-Azal for his attempt to “deviate the people of the Bayan from the fundamental Cause” and “re-enact the case of Samiri, Baha was strictly forbidden by him to make such statements in future.

With his ulterior motives thus disclosed, Baha took to flight towards Sulaymaniyya. For a time he associated with the leaders of various Orders in those regions, manoeuvring to create a position of ascendancy for himself. His labors came to naught. For a while he studied the occult science, wearied of life, and in his attempts to achieve his purpose, he appealed to Subh-i-Azal and prayed for forgiveness. Pardoned by him, he was brought back to Baghdad, and put in charge of his affairs.

P. 13: In his petition of repentance addressed to Subh-i-Azal from his self-imposed exile in Kurdistan during the Baghdad period, Baha concludes: “How am I to make mention, My God!, of what has taken possession of me by the wonders of thy dominance, and by the flashes of thy irresistible power. I would either be a pigeon in thy house or a bird in the valley of thy Oneness, or a gnat in the desert of thy Ever-abidingness or a mosquito in the wilderness of thy Eternity. My bones are dried up, and my limbs are broken. If thou forgivest me thou art in truth the Best Compassionate and if thou chastised me verily thou art the Much Forgiver, the Compassionate.”

Appropriation of the title of Baha or Bahaullah by Mirza Husayn Ali is confirmed by Tanbihun-Naimin, P.5. No such title was conferred on Mirza Husayn Ali commonly called Bahaullah.

Baha's Will and Testament of the Baghdad period is reproduced in facsimile at the end of the Tanbih-al-Naemin.

Baha's Will and Testament consists of three pages. The body of the Will appears to be in the hand-writing of Mirza 'Abd-al-Jawad of Khurasan also known as Mirza Wahab of Khurasan. The colophon at the beginning & in the end of the Will are however penned in the handwriting of Baha himself.

The colophon at the beginning sums as follows:

"This is my book of Testament of People of concourse, take notice." “……. Hear the call of the Holy Leaf [i.e. Subh-i Azal] ………… speaking unto you from behind the veils [Subh-i Azal lived in seclusion in accordance with the Point’s instructions] ………… He [i.e. Subh-i Azal] is the One whom god [i.e. the Point] hath appointed as Qayyum [self-existent, title by which Subh-i Azal is addressed by the Point in the nomination document in page 1 of the Collection entitled the Epistles of the Point and His amanuensis Sayyid Husayn] “unto …. He is the Eternal [Azaliyya] luminary ……… whomsoever turns aside from him doth perish …… He is the White Hand [alluding to the miracle of Moses] in the Mount …. For Israel of the Bayan …… There is no god but He, the Living, [Al-Hayy, title conferred on Subh-i Azal by the Point.], the powerful, the self-Existent [al-Qayyum]. …. God has ordained in the Book that after the Remainder [Az-Zikr, the name by which the Point calls himself in the nomination document] one should turn himself to the Quibble of the Cause [i.e. authority is to vest in Subh-i Azal as dictated in the nomination document ….. ‘O People of the Bayan, can anyone produce verses like unto those revealed in the Book [of Bayan]? Verily the Remnant of god [Baqiyyatullah, one of the titles of the absent Imam; this title was assumed by the Point] in these days is the Apparition of light [Tal’at-an Nur].

Nur is one of the titles conferred on Subh-i Azal by the Point. In his Dalail-i Sab’a (The Seven Proofs) the Point points out that the term ‘light’ in the passage of the prophet’s tradition of Kumayl “and in the first year thou shall see (fulfilled), there shone forth a light from the Morning of Eternity, if thou dost not thyself flee away and become troubled,” refers to Imam Husayn, son of Ali-Ibn Abi Talib, as the light is like a lamp that burns itself to illuminate others. Hence the designation of Subh-i Azal as Nur (light), or Husayn, and the Morning of Eternity by the Point. The prophetic tradition of Kumayl concerning the events of five successive years of the Point’s dispensation is quoted by Baha in his Kitab-i Iqan, in support of the Point’s divine mission, composed by him in his pre-‘manifestation’ days.

After a lengthy exordium in exaltation of Subh-i-Azal, in page 2, 1st column line 19, Baha asseverates: "In truth has god decreed in the Book, that after the reminder [i.e. Sayyid Ali Muhammad, the BءB] reference is made to the face of the cause [i.e. Subh-i Azal, title conferred on him by the Point, see Epistle in page 10 of the Epistles of the Point and his amanuensis] in these days and whoso turns aside from the injunction of his lord has in fact turned his back on the path of God."

In page 2, 2nd column, line 33, Baha affirms with solemnity:

"Bear witness in your hearts that appearance of light [i.e. Subh-i-Azal], and that the Remnant of God [i.e. He-Whom-God-Will-Make-Manifest] who will appear in the Mustaghath is truth, about which there is no doubt. And verily we are all expecting." In page 3, 1st column, line 3 Baha reiterates his allegiance to Subh-i-Azal: "Bear witness that I am a servant who has believed in God and in the appearance of light."

In page 3, 1st column, line 25, Baha makes a further solemn declaration: "Say, Is not the Face of the light all-sufficient unto you, who, from behind the veils, because of a command from God, the overseen, the self-subsistence. O people of the concourse, have I not summoned you unto god and his verses and, unto the appearance of light?"

"On you be the reminder [i.e. Sayyid Ali Muhammad] and on those who prostrate themselves before Face of God [i.e. Subh-i-Azal].

The colophon at the end runs as follows:
"Also, has God made Joseph the light [i.e. Subh-i-Azal] king of the truth in the city of the Bayan. But all the people are dead within the veils of their own selves and verily these papers are proof of my servitude to his Face, if you will know it, otherwise destroy them in the Shatt [i.e. al-Arab, in Iraq] haply [those in the realm of the possible might have faith in the verses of God, their Lord."

Baha suffered from dystaxia. P. 65 the Tanbihun Naimin (The Sleeper Awakened). This infinity affected Baha’s hands which had become shaky. Traces of this disease were noticeable in Baha’s writings written with a shaky hand.

"For long years", to quote from the Tanbih-al-Naimin (Awakening of the Sleepers, P.65," the disease ) of hernia was inseparable from the person of Baha, and those present and absent were an eyewitness to his hand's shaking continuously from palsy."

P.16: Husayn [i.e. the Imam] was the wronged-one (Mazlum) and not the wrongdoer [Yazid].” As admitted by Shoghi Effendi also, god passes by, p.114, Subh-i Azal and members of his family lived in a dilapidated quarter of the city. Their meals were provider from Baha’s kitchen. The Awakening of Sleepers (Tanbihun-Naimin), PP. 18-19.

PP. 16-17: Acting ostensibly on behalf of Subh-i Azal, Baha in Baghdad addressed circular letters to the BءBis in Persia calling upon them to return to him the Point’s writings in their possession, including Baha’s own letters wherein he acknowledged Subh-i Azal’s authority as the Point’s successor and offered his allegiance to him. Having received some of the documents, he despatched to Persia his wife Mahd-i Ulya, his own son Muhammad Ali and an attendant who went about the country and collected the Point’s writings. Laden with two chests containing the Point’s writings, they returned to Baghdad and delivered the writings to Baha.

The BءB’s epistle addressed to Baha appears in old BءBi manuscript. Following is from page 32 of the Tanbih-al-Naimin in which this historic epistle is reproduced textually.

Reference is also made to it in the Dawn Breakers, Nabil’s Narrative.

Contents of the epistle :
To “238” [Husayn Ali].
In the preamble of the epistle the BءB stresses Subh-i-Azal’s station, refers to him as “the Most Glorious [Abha] Element called Yahya”; Subh-i-Azal’s name, and notes with thanks “the tablets which have been made manifest by that Essence of Ecstasy and pure Magnet. Exercise,” the BءB then directs and instructs Mirza Husayn Ali, “the utmost vigilance for his spirit and vitality, so that simoom-winds settle not on his heart. Make available for him,” the BءB commands Mirza Husayn Ali, “the most perfect means of encouragement for calligraphy and orthography, so that he exhibits not absolutely, sorrow, overt or covert.”


از عنصر ابهی سمی یحیی الواح مسطوره که از جوهر و له سازج انجذاب متجلی گشته مشاهده شده الشکر لمجلیه جل و عز کمال تراقب در روح و ارتواح آن منظور داشته باش که اریاح مشرقه بر فؤاد آن ساکن نگردد و اسباب شوق در خط و املاء بر نهج کمال از رای او فراهم آورده که مطلق مشاهده حزنی نه سراً و نه جهرا ننماید و کمال حفظ آن و آثار مخزونه آن داشته باش تا وقت خود والله مع الصابرین

“Take the utmost Care,” the BءB enjoins upon Mirza Husayn Ali, “of him, and of his latent works [signs] till their [appearance in] due course of time, and god is with those that are patient.”

In the Badasht conference Mirza Husayn Ali was in attendance of Tahira together with a number of companions. He received the title of Baha from that great and pure lady. He became privileged by this title of which he was proud, and which he gloried among his equals.”

PP 87-90, the authoress takes her nephew Abdul Baha Abbas to severe task for his violent campaign against Subh-i Azal to involve the latter in the murder of Dayyan and quotes a passage from a letter written by Bahaullah, addressed to Aqa Mirza Muhammad Hadi wherin Baha takes full credit for having carried into effect the judgment of god to dispose of Dayyan, from which the authoress comes to the conclusion that either the father or the son is a liar, the former for his admission to have killed Dayyan and the latter for his attempt to contradict and whitewash him.

(PP 5-8) corroborates Baha’s complicity in the attempt. From the outset Baha was obsessed with personality cult. He had an inordinate lust for power; the hankered after world conquest and monarchy. He laboured under the misapprehension that if the Shah were to come to grief, he was destined to step into his shoes and accedes to the throne.

Baha'u'llah's Handwriting (British Museum)

The authoress of the Tanbihun-Naimin PP. 16-18 confirms Baha’s practice of verse-writing [ayat] preparatory to declaration of his mission.


Please Click here to view 'Awakening of The Sleepers' in Persian language.

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