`Abd al-Bahā's Commentary on Qur'ān 53:11.


مَا كَذَبَ الْفُؤَادُ مَا رَأَى

`Abd al-Bahā's Commentary on Qur'ān  53:11 

"The  inmost  heart (al-fū'ād) lieth not about what it envisions".

Trans. Stephen Lambden  (Newcastle 1996).

Last revised 11-12-2016.

 'Abdu'l-Bahā's Arabic tafsīr  / commentary on Qur'ān 53:11, "The [inmost] heart [al-fū'ād] lieth not about what it envisions" is published in Makatib-i Ḥadrat-i 'Abd al-Bahā' volume 2:109-113. For the most part it revolves around a consideration of the fallibility of four time-honoured mawāzin, the "balances" or "criterion of truth".


He is the All-Glorious

[1] Praised be to God Who hath shined upon the inmost hearts (ashraqa 'alā al-fū'ādiyyāt) with the light of discrimination [maturity] (bi-nūr al-rashād) and illuminateth the hearts (nawwara al-qulūb) with the radiance of the sacred verses (bi-suṭū`  āyāt al-quds) through every spirit and apposite thing (bi-kullī rūḥ wa sadād). [2] He guideth the righteous (al-mukhlisīn) towards the Fountainhed of Gnosis (ma`īn al-'irfān) through the expositions made manifest in the realities of the verses and the words (haqā'iq al-āyāt wa'l-kalimāt). He causeth the seekers (al-ṭālibīn) to set forth towards the world of light ('alām al-nūr) beyond the midst of the [veils of] shadowy darknesses (min buḥbuḥatal-zulmāt). [3] And peace, benediction and laudation radiate from the glasses of the sanctified hearts (zujajāt al-qulūb al-muqaddas) which overflow with glad-tidings (bishārāt). [4] He sent down the Faithful Spirit (al-rūh al-amīn) [Gabriel] upon his [Muhammad's] inmost heart (al-fū'ād) with well-established verses (al-āyāt al-muḥkamāt) and his pure and blessed family [the Twelver Imams] with primary evidences and established proofs between the realms of contingent being; by means, that is, of the grace of the True One (fayḍ al-ḥaqq) amongst the realms of existence (al-mawjūdāt).


[1] So know! O thou who standeth in the Path of God (ṣirat-Allāh), turning unto God and seeking illumination about the deep knowledge [gnosis] of God (ma'rifat Allah) regarding that blessed verse which were revealed in the Criterion (al-furqān), in the genuine Qur'an (bi-saḥīḥ al-qur'ān) where He -exalted be He - saith;

مَا كَذَبَ الْفُؤَادُ مَا رَأَى

"The inmost heart (al-fū'ād) lieth not about what it envisions" (Q. 53:11).

 [2] Within this verse lieth a hidden mystery (sirr al-maknūn), a preserved secret (ramz maṣūn), a radiant reality (ḥaqīqa lāmi'a)extensive modes (shū'ūn jāmi'a), distinct levels of exposition (wāḍih bayyināt) and a far-reaching proof (ḥujja bāligha) for such in existence as are given to prayerful prostration (al-rukka' al-sujūd). [3] We shall advance something of the exposition of its reality naught but remnants of the elaborate details of the criteria [balances] of understanding (mawāzīn al-idrāk) as exist among the people [Makatib, 2:110>], [considering] their [positive] elucidation (sham) and [negative] refutation (dahd) until it become evident and established through clear demonstration (al-‘iyān) that the Divine Criterion (al-mīzān al-ilāhī) is the inmost heart (al-fū'ād) and the [very] fountainhead of discrimination (manbā' al-rashād).


 [1] Know that among all the religio-philosophical groups (al-ṭawā'if) existing amongst the people there exist four criterion (mawāzīn) through which they weigh up realities, meanings and theological [“divine”; religious] issues (al-haqā'iq wa'l-ma'ānī wa'l-masā'il al-ilāhī). [2] All of them are defective [imperfect, fallible] (nāqḍa), [for through these] thou can neither quench thirst (al-ghalīl) nor heal the sick (`alīI), [2] We shall assuredly make mention of every one of them and elucidate their defectiveness (naqḍ), and their being devoid of veracity ('adm ṣidq).


 [3] The first of the criteria (mawāzin) is that of the criterion of sensory perception (mīzān al-ḥiss). [4] It is the criterion of the bulk of the European philosphers (mīzān jumhūr falāfisa al-afranjj)  this era (fī hadhā al-`aṣr). [5] They assert that it is a complete, perfect criterion (mizān tāmm kāmil) such that if anything is evaluated thereby there is no doubt or uncertainty (shubha wa irtiyāb) attached thereto [respecting its veracity]. [6] The status of this proof as a defective criterion (naqs hadhā al-mīzān) is as evident as the noonday sun (ka’l-shams fī rābita al-nahār)!

 [7] So if thou should gaze at the mirage (al-sarāb) thou wouldst see pleasant water (mā' 'azab an) or something to drink. [8] And if thou should gaze into mirrors thou wouldst see images ('forms'; ṣuwar an] therein and would be convinced of the reality of their existence. [9] And the situation is that there is an absense of realty. Nay rather! It merely consists of reflections in the glasses. [10] And if thou gazest towards a moving point (al-nuqṭa al-jawwāla) thou wouldst suppose it to be a circle or an elongated line but in reality it has no existence whatever though it is apparent to the sight. [11] And if thou gazest towards the sky [heaven] and its radiant stars thou wouldst see that they appear to be a minute entity though the reality of the matter is that every one of them is the equivalent of manifold, an hundredfold, a thousantl times the circumference of the earth. [12] And you can see a stationary shadow while, in reality it is fleeting, a continuous radiation (al-shu'ā` mustamirr an); is state is discontinuous (munqaṭ'i). [13] And [you see] the earth to be a flat expanse while in state is really spherical.

[14] Wherefore is it established that sensory perception (al-ḥiss), even in terms of the power of vision (al-quwwat al-baṣīra) which is the most powerful of the sensory powers (aqwā al-quwwa al-ḥissiya) is a defective criterion [balance] (nāqiḍa al-mīzān) and an inadequate proof (mukhtallaft al-burhān). So how could  it possibly be depended upon for the gnosis of the divine realities ('irfān al-haqā'iq al-ilāhiyya), the All-Merciful Traces (al-āthār al-raḥmaniyya) and the ontologically existent  dimensions of  being (al-shū'ūn al-kawniyya) (MAB 11:111).


 The second criterion ('balance', mīzān) which is depended upon by [both] the [Islamic] Ishrāqīs [“Neo-Platonists”] (ahl al-lshrāq) and the Peripatetic [Aristotelian] sages (al-ḥukamā' al-mashshā'ūn) is the rational criterion (al-mīzān al-'aqli). [It was] likewise with other [foundational] early branches of philosophy in the milieu [environment] of the early and medieval centuries (al-qurūn al-awwaliyya al-wusṭa). They put their trust in the intellect [reason] ('aql) and asserted that whatever is in conformity therewith is something established (al-thābit), evident (al-wāḍih) and proven (al-mubarrhan) about which there hath assuredly never been any hint of doubt (raib), uncertainty (shakk) or obscurity (shubba).

So while these religio-philosophical groups (al-ṭawā'if) one and all, collectively, are dependent upon the rational criterion (al-mīzān al-'aqli), they yet differ over all questions and are divergent in their opinions regarding all realities (al-haqā'iq). So if the rational criterion (al-mīzān al-'aqli) be the equitable (al-'ādil), veridicle (al-ṣādiq), and the sound (al-mafīn) criterion (al-mīzān), it is nonetheless the case that these [religio-philosophical groups (al-ṭawā'if)] differ [markedly] over realities and questions (al-haqā'iq wa'l-masā'il) and the individual judgements (ārā') of the former and latter [peoples] (al-awā'il wa'l-awākhir) diverge. Thus the cause of their differences and their disparity makes it evident that the rational criterion (al-mīzān al-'aqlī) is in no way perfect (kāmil). So if we come to suppose [the rational criterion] is a perfect [complete] criterion then it would assuredly be the case that in weighing 100, 000 persons, agreement over the measure would be attained. So the non-existence of their agreement is more than sufficient evidence for the disparity of the rational criterion (al-mīzān al-'aqli).


The third balance [criterion] is what is transmitted ["tradition" handed down] (naqlī). This [criterion] is likewise inadequate. Humanity (al-insān) is unable to rely thereon for the rational faculty [reason, intellect] (al-`aql) is the means of understanding the tradition (al-mudrik li'l-naql) and is the measure of its balance [the tradition] (mawzin mīzānihi).

Thus,  if the foundation is the defective balance of the rational faculty [reason, intellect] (al-'aql), how could its measure (mawzūnihi) which is what is the traditionally transmitted material (al-naqlī) be consistent with reality (yuwāfiq al-ḥaqīqa) and the realization of certitude (yufīd al-yaqīn). This is a matter which is patently obvious. Wherefore, if it be proven that such criteria (al-mawāzin) as are existing amongst the people are all inadequate,  and cannot be relied upon for [valid] realizations, they really  amount to a confused medley of dreams, speculations and fancies which fail to quench the thirst and do not enrich the seeker after gnosis (al-ṭālib li'l-irfān)" (MAB 11:112).


As for the fourth criterion (balance, mizān). It is the criterion of ilhām (personal intuition-inspiration”). Yet ilhām ("inspiration") consists of promptings of heartfelt intimations (`ibarat 'an khuṭūrāt al-qalbiyya) and devilish [satanic] whisperings (al-wasāwis al-shayṭāniyya). Additionally, it consists of intimations pertaining to the heart (khuṭūrāt tatabbu `alā al-qalb) originating with the human self (wāridāt nafsiyya). Thus if a given meaning or particular question [issue] (ma'anā min al-ma'ānī aw mas'ala min al-masā'il) is realized in the [human] heart (bi-qalb) how can it be known whether it be an All-Merciful inspiration [from the All-Merciful = God] (ilhāmāt raḥmāniyya) or some kind of devilish [satanic] whispering (al-wasāwis al-shayṭāniyya)?


 Wherefore, if it be proven that such criteria (al-mawāzin) as are existing amongst the people are all inadequate and cannot be relied upon for [valid] realizations, they in reality amount to a confused medley of dreams, speculations and fancies which fail to quench the thirst and do not enrich the seeker after gnosis (al-tālib li'l-irfān).


Now as for the real, divine [epistemological] criterion [balance] (al-mīzān al-haqīqī al-ilāhī) which is never deceptive (lā yakhtalu abad an) nor disconnected (lā yanfakku). [The divine criterion] comprehends universal realities (al-haqā'iq al-kulliyya) and issues [meanings] of great magnitude (al-ma'ānī al-'azīmat) and is the [epistemological] criterion [balance] of the inmost heart (al-fū'ād) which God mentions in the blessed verse [Q.53:11]. It [al-mīzān = al-fū'ād] is assuredly of the brilliant [radiant] theophanies (tajalliyyāt suṭū'), the Lights of the Divine Grace (anwār al-fayḍ al-ilāhī). It is the All-Merciful Mystery (al-sirr al-raḥmānī), the concrete [existent] Divine manifestation [theophany] (al-zuhūr al-wujdānī) and the Lordly mysterion   (al-ramz al-rabbānī).


 [In addition] it [al-fū'ād] is a Pre-eternal Grace (fayḍ qadīm) and a Manifest Light (nūr mubīn); a Mighty Bounty (lud 'azīm) indeed! Should God graciously bestow it upon any of his pure-saintly servants (asfiyā') or therewith bountify such as are steadfast among his loved ones, the result would be that such an one would attain the station about which he [Imam 'AIī  communicated to Kumayl ibn Ziyād al-Nakhā’ī] - upon him be peace – saying, "Should the veil be uncovered certitude (yaqīn) would in no wise be enriched".


 Wherefore is it the case that [both] visionary realization (al-naẓar) and [intellectual] demonstration (al-idtidlāl), even when preeminently realized, yet remain expressive of both feeble mindedness and comprehension. The result is thus dependent upon [these] lesser and greater requirements (muqtaḍayāt). So whatever you consider these lesser and greater factors to be, it will still result in a conclusion which cannot be depended upon. Thus do the individual judgments of the sages diverge (ārā' al-ḥukamā’).


Wherefore also O thou who inclineth towards God!

Purify thine inmost heart (al-fū'ād) from all inhibiting dispositions such as might inhibit soundness in attaining the reality of guidance (haqīqat al-rashād). Then weigh up [estimate] all divine matters through this just (al-ā`dil), certain (al-ṣādiq), mighty (al-'azīm) criterion [al-mīzān al-haqīqī al-ilāhī = al-fū'ād] which God has clarified in the noble Qur'ān and the "Great Announcement" (aL-naba' aL-'azim) such that thou might drink deep of the Fount of Certitude `ayn al-yaqīn), enjoy the Reality of Certitude (ḥaqq al-yaqīn), be guided towards the Straight Path and journey in the Upright Way. And praise be unto God, the Lord of all the worlds.