On December 17th, 1919, in the aftermath of World War I, Abdu’l-Baha wrote to the Central Organization for a Durable Peace in The Hague. Abdu’l-Baha wrote a second Tablet to them in July 1920. Because of its substantial length, you might hear the first Tablet referred to as “The Tablet to The Hague” but you’ll also find both Tablets called “The Tablets to the Hague”. These two Tablets were recently published online for the first time on the Baha’i Reference Library (you can read them here), and in this article, we offer some introductory thoughts on the Tablet that was written 100 years ago, about its context and its significance.
Ahmad Yazdani and Hand of the Cause Ali Muhammad Ibn-i-Asdaq, who both lived in Tehran at the time, took great interest in the Central Organization for a Durable Peace in The Hague, since the oneness of mankind and unity are governing principles of the Baha’i Faith. They brought this organization to the attention of Abdu’l-Baha, and Ahmad, along with several other Baha’is, wrote to the organization about the principles of the Baha’i Faith in 1915 when the world was engulfed in global war. The organization replied, sending a letter for Abdu’l-Baha via Ahmad, but at that time the Holy Land was cut off from the rest of the world.
With the end of World War I, in December of 1919, Abdu’l-Baha received the letter and penned a reply, known as the Tablet to The Hague or the Tablet of Peace. Ahmad Yazdani and Ali Muhammad Ibn-i-Asdaq were summoned to Haifa and asked to travel to The Hague and deliver the response in person as a special and history-making delegation. Their voyage involved a lot more than simply delivering a letter and the second Tablet to the Hague is a continuation of this correspondence.
In terms of its content, the first Tablet to The Hague includes Abdu’l-Baha’s analysis of the attainment of international peace within the context of the need for wider political, economic, and cultural change. In an article describing newly translated Writings recently published online, the Baha’i World News Service explained:
When Abdu’l-Baha wrote the two letters, the Paris Peace Conference was bringing together world leaders to discuss the terms of peace following the end of World War I. The conference led to the establishment of the League of Nations. While praising the League’s aims, Abdu’l-Baha was candid in explaining that it was too restricted to realize peace. He explained that peace would require a profound transformation in human consciousness and a commitment to the spiritual truths enunciated by Baha’u’llah. In the first message, Abdu’l-Baha also identifies many important Baha’i principles, such as the abolition of all forms of prejudice, the harmony of science and religion, the equality of women and men, that religion must be the cause of love, and others. ((https://news.bahai.org/story/1324/))
Some of the other principles addressed include:
- the independent investigation of reality,
- the oneness of humanity,
- the need for one universal language,
- our freedom from the captivity of the world of nature,
- that material civilization should be combined with Divine civilization,
- the necessary sharing of wealth and property,
- the importance of education,
- and justice.
The Baha’i World News Service also explains:
In the second Tablet, Abdu’l-Baha returns to the idea of the importance of religious faith to the establishment of peace, explaining that His ‘desire for peace is not derived merely from the intellect: It is a matter of religious belief and one of the eternal foundations of the Faith of God.’1
This second tablet was quoted at the conclusion of the recent letter of the Universal House of Justice on world peace (dated 18 January 2019 and which can be read here, and listened to here), which to me, highlights and emphasizes its continual relevance. The House of Justice finished its letter quoting Abdu’l-Baha’s second Tablet to the Hague further and with these stirring words of its own:
[Abdu’l-Baha] observed that for peace to be realized in the world, it was not adequate that people should be informed about the horrors of war.
“Today the benefits of universal peace are recognized amongst the people, and likewise the harmful effects of war are clear and manifest to all. But in this matter, knowledge alone is far from sufficient: A power of implementation is needed to establish it throughout the world.”
‘It is our firm belief”, He continued, “that the power of implementation in this great endeavour is the penetrating influence of the Word of God and the confirmations of the Holy Spirit.”
Certainly then, none who are conscious of the condition of the world can refrain from giving their utmost to this endeavour and seeking those confirmations—confirmations for which we too earnestly supplicate at the Sacred Threshold on your behalf. Beloved friends: The devoted efforts that you and your like-minded collaborators are making to build communities founded on spiritual principles, to apply those principles for the betterment of your societies, and to offer the insights arising—these are the surest ways you can hasten the fulfilment of the promise of world peace.2