The Persian Bayān - Introduction, Extant mss. and Translations.

بيان فارسى

Bayan-i Farsi, The Persian Bayan 

Opening lines from Ms in the UCLA Library: Special Collections. Box 97, MS. 741.

The Persian Bayān Introduction, Extant mss. and Translations.

The Persian Bayān

 

Many themes unmentioned or only touched upon in the Dalā'il‑i sab`a are expounded in the Bāb's incomplete though much lengthier Bayān‑i Fārsī  (Persian Bayān). This work, the most systematic, important and best‑known book in the massive Bābī canon, contains much that is representative of the Bāb's developed thought; his new laws, rituals and regulations, his socio‑political and economic concerns and ambitions, his qabbalistic, esoteric and other doctrinal speculations as well as detailed non‑literal interpretations of Shī`ī apocalyptic eschatology. No attempt can be made here to summarize the contents of this allegedly inimitable book.

The Persian Bayān supersedes the Qur'ān with which it is essentially identical (see II:1, 15‑16). Deliberately incomplete it is subject to the future confirmation of man yuẓhiru-hu Allāh  (see III:3, etc). It may simply be noted that within it the Bāb reaffirms his "gatehood" (bābiyyā  II:l) and  claims to be identical with/ the "return" of Imām Husayn whose eschatological advent was predicted in numerous Shī`ī traditions (IV:5). In addition he claimed to occupy the rank of (subordinate) Godhead (II:11; IV:l0. cf.III:2). Yet he is a "servant" subject to physical death (lX.l). As one devoid of formal learning and whose grammar should not be criticized, he reckons that he had revealed 100‑500,000 verses. 2  

MacEoin in Appendix 1 of his Sources (pp. 181-184) lists the following 49 mss.

Bayan-i Farsi

  • 1. Cambridge, Browne F.13 7 = Sent by the Azali writer Shaykh Ahmad Ruhi Kirmani, 1891.
  • 2. Cambridge, Browne F.l2 (dated before 128211865). 8  = Given to Browne in Rafsanjan, 22 August 1888. It seems to have been transcribed before 22 Muharram 1282/ 17 June 1865,

 

The Persian  Bayān


IN PROGRESS 26-11-2017

Some Introductory Notes

Stephen Lambden UC Merced. 2000-2008+ 2017,

On occasion the Bāb gave the title Bayān (= "Exposition") to the totality of his Arabic and Persian writings or revelations. He also wrote two major, centrally important, largely legal-doctrinal works with the specific title Bayān differentiated by the two languages in which thy were written;  one was in Persian, al-Bayān-i Farsi (`The Persian Bayān') and the other, probably later more summary version, was written in Arabic, al-Bayān al-`Arabī (`The Arabic Bayān'). The ideal structural pattern of these two Bayāns of the Bāb was to be indicative of `totality' or `completeness'; they should consist of nineteen wāḥids ("Unities") each having a total of nineteen abwāb, meaning "Gates", "Subsections" or (loosely), "Chapters"). Each ideal Bayān should have nineteen wāḥids  (Unities) each with 19 abwāb (`gates'). This pattern was to indicate "totality" or "completeness" since 19 x19 totals 361 which is the abjad numerical value of the Arabic phrase kull shay' meaning  "all things" or "everything", indicating `totality', the fullness of the new eschatological revelation.

      The   probably earlier and lengthier Persian Bayān is largely incomplete. It has only eight complete Waḥīds ('Unities'), each with  nineteen abwāb (`gates'), then a final ninth Waḥīd with only ten out of a theoretical nineteen abwāb ('gates'). It thus lacks nine abwāb ('gates') in Waḥīd nine and all of the remaining 10 Waḥīds ('Unities') with their nineteen abwāb ('gates'). It appears that the the Persian and Arabic Bayāns were deliberately left incomplete for the purpose of creating messianic awareness. The Bāb's revelations were incomplete and needed to be completed. The Bāb indirectly indicated that his Bayāns would or should be completed by  the expected, future Bābī messiah figure entitled man yuẓıhiru-hu Allāh ('He whom God shall make manifest'). He should add the ten missing abwāb (`gates') to the incomplete 9th wāḥid  ("Unity") and write another ten complete waḥīds ('unities') with their 19 abwāb (`gates') to make up the ideal kull shay ("all things") of eschatological divine revelation.

        Though the form is completely different without  division into  Wāḥids  ("Unity")  and abwāb (`gates'), it is the Baha'i belief that Mirza Husayn `Ali Nuri Baha-Allah completed the Persian Bayān (or Bayāns) of the Bāb in spirit through his writing of the Kitab-i Iqan (Book of Certitude) around 1862-3 CE (see Shoghi Effendi, GPB: 138). His Bābi half-brother Mirza Yahya Nuri also claimed to have completed the Persian Bayān through his writing of the Mutammim-i Bayān which has been published in Tehran more than forty years ago by some Azalī Bābis resident in Persia.

The al-Bayān al-`Arabī (The Arabic Bayān)

 The al-Bayān al-`Arabī (The Arabic Bayān) or `The Arabic Exposition' of Sayyid `Ali Muhammad Shirazi, the Bāb (1819-1850 CE) is an innovative, post-Islamic doctrinal-legal work expressive of the mid-late Bābī religion dating to the period of its author's imprisonment in Persian Adhirbayjan (NE Persia) in 12XX/ 1848-9 CE. Like the Persian Bayān it is incomplete consisting of eleven  seemingly complete wāḥids  ("Unities") though  the first wāḥid  ("Unity") is not divided up into abwāb (`gates'). Wāḥids  ("Unities") two until eleven (II-XI)  each have nineteen abwāb (`gates'). It is thus incomplete by eight  Wāḥids  ("Unity") each of which should have nineteen abwāb (`gates').  The Arabic Bayān is more succinct than the Persian Bayān even though it extends for a further  few Wāḥids  ("Unities") by including all the early sections as well as from VIII: 11-19 then the complete ninth tenth and eleventh Wāḥids  ("Unities") which are not included in the Persian Bayān at all. 

 The Persian Bayān of Sayyid `Alī Muhammad Shirazi, the Bāb

Translation by Stephen Lambden UC-Merced 2009-10

Abbreviations -- see above for details

  • Arabic Bayān. Ms. up to Wāḥid IX in the form of a Haykal (Pentacle) Azali publication. = Ar.  Bayān-Haykal

  • Azalī Tehran lithograph

  •  al-Bābiyyūn  (see above)

  • Paris Ms.  B[ibliotheque]. N [ationale]. Suppl. Arabe 2511 = Trans. Gobineau, 1865 Livre des Préceptes (see above).

  • MacEoin, Sources.

  • Nicholas, 1905  Le Beyan Arâbe (see above).

  • Taherzadeh, SWB (= Selections from the Writings of the Bāb). 

 

I

The First Unity (al-wāḥid al-awwāl)

             بسم الله الامنع القدس

In the Name of God, the Most Inaccessible (al-amna`),

the Most Holy (al-aqdas).

 Prolegomenon

اننيى انا الله لا إله الا انا و إن ما دوني خلقي

 قل ان يا خلقي إياي فاعبدون 

قل خلقتك و رزقتك وأمتتك وأحببتك وبعتقتك وجعلتك مظهر نفسي 

لتتلون من عندي آياتي، ولتدعون كل من خلقته إلى ديني هذا صراط عز منيع

[1] I, verily, I am God! No God is there except Me. All besides Me is indeed My creation. [2] Say: `O My creation!  Render ye service before Me!' [3] I have indeed created Thee and I have provided for Thee [4] I  have protected Thee and I have  loved  Thee.  [5] And I raised Thee up and made Thee a manifestation of My Logos-Self (maẓhar nafsī). [6] This [to the end] that thou (pl.) might assuredly recite My verses (ayātī) which are indeed of Me. [7] And this to the end that all whom I have created might call out [unto God] through My religion (dīnī) [cf. Q. 10:22] for this is a Path (ṣirāṭ) which is Mighty and Impenetrable ( `izz wa manī`).

وخلقت كل شىء لك وجعلتك من لدنا سلطاا

 [8] I created all things (kull shay') for Thee and I, on My part, established Thee as a Sovereign  (sulṭān an) unto all the worlds. [9] And I gave permission for whomsoever desired to enter My Religion (dīnī) to do so through [assent to] My divine Unity (bi-tawḥīdī). [10] And I associated  this [assent] with thy Remembrance (dhikr) and then [with] the Remembrance (dhikr) of such as I made, with My permission, to be Letters of the True One [the Living] (ḥurūfāt al-ḥaqq [al-ḥayy]*). [11] And whatsoever was indeed sent down in the Bayān was [expressive of] My Religion (dīnī). [12] This indeed is that which was expressed therein, a veritable Riḍwān ("Contentment" - "Paradise") for My sincere servants (`ibādī al-mukhlisīn).

 [13]  The sun (al-shams) is but a sign (ayat) of Me in order that believing servants might thereby bear witness with every [Divine] Manifestation [theophany] (kull ẓuhūr) unto the likeness of its ascent. [14]  I did indeed create Thee through Thine Own Self then all things [everything else] (kull shay') through Thine Utterance (qawl), a veritable Command (amr an) on Our part [15] for We are indeed Supremely Powerful (qādirīn). [16]  I made Thee to be the First and the Last (al-awwāl wa'l-ākhir), the Manifest and the Hidden (wa'l-ẓahir wa'l-bāṭin). [17] And We are indeed All Informed (al-`ālamīn). [18] We did not commission anyone for Our religion save Thee, neither did We send down any Book (kitab) save for Thyself. [19] We did not commission anyone for Our religion save Thee, neither did We send down any Book (kitab) save for Thyself. [20] Such was set forth by the One Who is the Help in Peril (al-muhaymīn), the Best Beloved (al-maḥbūb).

 [21] The Bayān (Exposition) is Our Proof (ḥujjat) unto all things (kull shay') for it is an inimitable expression of His verses (ayat) for all the worlds (al-`ālimīn). [22] It enshrines all of Our verses, be they of the past or of the future, for thereby Thou, at this moment, are the totality of Our Proof (ḥujjat). [23]  We verily, enable to enter Our Mighty, Sacred Paradises (jannāt quds `aẓīm), whomsoever We desire. [24] Such is that which He originated in every religious era [dispensation] (ẓuhūr) through a [divine] Command (amr), a Command ( amr an) which derives from Us. [25] And We are indeed of the Wise ones (al-`ālamīn). [26] We did not generate any religion (dīn) save that We subsequently, on Our part, clearly promised to regenerate it ! [27] And in this respect We stand among the Forceful (qāhirīn).

 [28] And We decreed that the gates of this religion (abwāb  dhalik al-dīn) accord with the number of "all things" (kull shay') [abjad = 361]. [29] This [number] corresponds to the number of the [days = 19x19 of the] year (al-ḥawl) [19x19 = 361 days in the Bābi year] for every day is as a gate (bāb an) through which every thing (kull shay') may indeed enter the Supreme Paradise (jannat al-a`lā). [30] And there shall be for all according to the  number of al-wāḥid (the "Unity", abjad = 19), a letter of the primordial letters before God (ḥarf min ḥurūf  al-awwali li-llâh) , the Lord of the heavens [above] and the Lord of the earth [below], the Lord of all things (kull shay'), the Lord of what can be seen and the Lord of what cannot be seen, the Lord of all the worlds. 

 [31] And We determined that there be for the first al-Wāḥid (the "Unity") what God does indeed witness of His Own Logos-Self (nafs) since, He, no God is there except Him, the Lord of all things (kull shay'). [32] What is aside from Him He created for Him and all besides Him are his servants. [33] And the Essence of the Seven Letters (dhāt  ḥurūf al-sab`) [= the 7 Arabic letters of the personal name `Alī Muhammad = the Bāb] is the Gate of God (Bāb Allāh) before whomsoever is in the Kingdom of the heavens and of the earth and whatsoever lies between them. [34]  And all should be guided aright by the verses of God (āyāt Allāh) which come forth from Him.

 [35] Then every gate (bāb) is for the mention of the Name of the True One [God] (dhikr ism ḥaqq) [who is] from Us and for the mention of one of the Letters of the Living (ḥurūf al-ḥayy) for they return unto the primordial life (al-ḥayat al-awwalī) [relative] to Muhammad, the Messenger of God (rasūl Allah) with those who were witnesses before God (shuhadā' min `ind Allah). [36] So too the Gates of guidance (abwāb al-hudā) for they were created in the ultimate formation (nash'a al-ukhrā) [37] since God had promised in the Qur'ān that there would [in the fullness of time] appear the number of al-wāḥid ("the unity" = abjad 19) in the first al-wāḥid ("Unity") [of the Bābī era]. [38] This  is a Bounty (faḍl an) from before Us for We are indeed among the givers of Bounty (al-fāḍilīn).

 [39] This is indeed the first wāḥid ("unity"), the  wāḥid ("unity") enumerated through mention of the month of Bahā' (radiant "Splendor-Glory", the name of the first month of the Bābī calendar). [40] We indeed originated that [calendar] creation through Him and thereby do We initiate all festivities through Him. [41] This is indeed a promise (wa`d an)  which originated with Us for We are indeed Powerful beyond all who are possessed of power (muqtadirīn).

 [42] Thou indeed enumerated the numbers (al-a`dād) through that wāḥid ("unity") since after this there is no [real] computation and before this there is no perfection for the Letters of  the Unity (ḥurūf al-wāḥid) though the primordial verse [sign] (fi'l-āyāt al-awwalī). [43]  And they were indeed present through the proximity of their inmost hearts between Our two hands. [44] And naught is seen therein except  the  wāḥid ("unity") without enumeration. [45] Wherefore does God expound the destinies  (maqādīr) of  all things (kull shay') in the Book (al-kitāb), perchance the people might contemplate during the Days of their Lord.

Textual and other Notes to Wāḥid (Unity) 1. 

[1ff] The first Wāḥid (Unity) of the Arabic Bayān is not divided up into abwab (gates) or subdivisions of any kind and reads as a kind of theological prolegomenon to the  extended text. This first first Wāḥid (Unity) is also followed by a brief Persian synopsis reminiscent of the Persian Bayān which commences with an Arabic summary of its contents. None of the other Wāḥids (Unities) of the Arabic Bayān appear to have Persian digests of their contents. The 45 verse versification I  have introduced above is my own and is solely for the purpose of commentary. The Bāb himself did not versify the first Wāḥid (Unity) of the Arabic Bayān.

[11] Following al-Bābiyyūn,  62 line7 I have read here ḥurūfāt al-ḥaqq "Letters of the True One" while the reading ḥurūfāt al-ḥayy  "The Letters of the Living" is the text translated in SWB: 158 = Muntakhabat, 112 line 3. Gobineau, 1865 Livre des Préceptes p.

[18-19] In the original Arabic these two verses or lines are identical. The trans in SWB 159 does not reflect this and completely bypasses this repetition. The Arabic text printed in Muntakhabat, 112 lines 6-7 , however, supports this reading as does the text printed in al-Bābiyyūn,  62 lines 10-11. Whether or not this is a copyists duplicate or a repetition origianted by the Bāb remains to be critically established.

 Persian Synopsis of  Wāḥid (Unity) I of the Arabic Bayān

 [1] The singular essence of this [first] Wāḥid ("Unity") is that God, exalted and glorified be He,  for all Eternity (hamīsha) hath ever been and forever will be. [2] In every age (zamān) God, exalted and glorified be He), establishes for all creation [humanity] a Book (kitāb) and a Proof (ḥujjat)

II

The Second Unity (al-wāḥid al-thāni)

Bāb 1

Bāb 2

Bāb 3

Bāb 4

Bāb 5

Bāb 6

Bāb 7

Bāb 8

Bāb 9

Bāb 10

Bāb 11

Bāb 12

Bāb 13

Bāb 14

Bāb 15

Bāb 16

Bāb 17

Bāb 18

Bāb 19

 

III

The Third Unity (al-wāḥid)

Bāb 1

Bāb 2

Bāb 3

Bāb 4

Bāb 5

Bāb 6

Bāb 7

Bāb 8

Bāb 9

Bāb 10

Bāb 11

Bāb 12

Bāb 13

Bāb 14

Bāb 15

Bāb 16

Bāb 17

Bāb 18

Bāb 19

 

 

 

IV

The Fourth Unity (al-wāḥid)

Bāb 19

 

V

The Fifth Unity (al-wāḥid)

Bāb 1

Bāb 2

Bāb 3

Bāb 4

Bāb 5

Bāb 6

Bāb 7

Bāb 8

Bāb 9

Bāb 10

Bāb 11

Bāb 12

Bāb 13

Bāb 14

Bāb 15

Bāb 16

Bāb 17

Bāb 18

Bāb 19

 

 

VI

The Sixth Unity (al-wāḥid)

 

Bāb 1

Bāb 2

Bāb 3

Bāb 4

Bāb 5

Bāb 6

Bāb 7

Bāb 8

Bāb 9

Bāb 10

Bāb 11

Bāb 12

Bāb 13

Bāb 14

Bāb 15

Bāb 16

Bāb 17

Bāb 18

Bāb 19

 

 

VII

The Seventh Unity (al-wāḥid)

Bāb 1

Bāb 2

Bāb 3

Bāb 4

Bāb 5

Bāb 6

Bāb 7

Bāb 8

Bāb 9

Bāb 10

Bāb 11

Bāb 12

Bāb 13

Bāb 14

Bāb 15

Bāb 16

Bāb 17

Bāb 18

Bāb 19

 

VIII

The Eigth Unity (al-wāḥid)

Bāb 1

Bāb 2

Bāb 3

Bāb 4

Bāb 5

Bāb 6

Bāb 7

Bāb 8

Bāb 9

Bāb 10

Bāb 11

Bāb 12

Bāb 13

Bāb 14

Bāb 15

Bāb 16

Bāb 17

Bāb 18

Bāb 19

 

IX

The Ninth Unity (al-wāḥid)

 

Bāb 1

Bāb 2

Bāb 3

Bāb 4

Bāb 5

Bāb 6

Bāb 7

Bāb 8

Bāb 9

Bāb 10