The word Baha' in Shi`i-Shaykhī Literatures.




The word Baha' in Shi`i-Shaykhī Literatures.

Stephen Lambden UCMerced.
In progress 1980s-2017.







The al-ism al-a`zam  and the use of al-Baha' in Early Shaykhism, the writings of Shaykh Ahmad al-Ahsa'i (d. 1141/1826) and Sayyid Kazim Rashti (d.1259/1843).

Stephen Lambden UCMerced.
In progress  and under revision 1980s-2017.


Sayyid Kazim Rashti  and the Sharh al‑Qasda al-lamiyya.

Sayyid Kÿzim Rashti (d. 1260/ 1843/4) likewise utilized the rich imagery of the Light verse and commented thereon. In his 1258/1842 Qasida al‑lamiyya ("Ode rhyming in the letter "L" ‑‑ original ode by `Abd al‑Baqi Afandi al‑Mawsuli, d. 1204/1789), for example, in the course of commenting upon the exalted status of the seventh Imam, Imam Musa al‑Kazim (d. 799 CE), the Sayyid several times quotes and comments upon Q. 24:35a. Imam Musa is referred to as a "Dawning‑Point for the Light of wilaya ("Guardianship") (nur walaya), one stationed [representative] before the theophany of the Sun of Prophethood [=Muhammad] (waqif li‑zuhur shams al‑nubuwwa). A quotation [from al‑Kazim] is then cited to the effect that the Light (al‑nur) is [both] the Radiance (al‑diya') and the Splendour [Beauty] (al‑baha'). Sayyid Kazim then cites the first clause of the "Light verse" -  "God is the Light of the heavens and of the earth" (Q. 24:35a) ‑‑ and comments that the "Light" (al‑nur) which is associated with "the Name"  (al‑ism) which is, in fact, the Causitive Reality (al‑`ilya [`ulliya]) for, he continues :

 ... outwardly it is the Cause which is effective through the Divinity (bi'l‑uluhiyya)  It is the Greatest, Greatest Name" (al‑ism al‑a`zam al‑a`zam). He saith ‑‑ glorified be He ‑‑ "God is the Light of the heavens and of the earth" (Q. 24:35a)  and the Light relateth to the Name which is the Cause [Causitive Reality]; outwardly it is the Cause through the wilÿya ("Custodianship‑Guardianship"). It is the Greatest, Greatest Name. It is the Name  through which God created the heavens and the earth. By means of it He created the originated mountains (jabalÿt al‑khalÿ'iq) [within creation] and through it He created the jinn, and human beings.. [cf. Shaykh Amad] ... And it is the First Light (al‑nÿr al‑awwal) which hath the First Name and the Elevated [Primordial] Reality (al‑ism al‑awwal wa'l‑aqÿqah al‑`aliyÿ). And He said, glorified be He, "Praise be unto God Who created the heavens and appointed the darknesses [shadows] and the light" (Q. 6:1a). And this "Light" (al ‑nur) is constitutive of (ma`jÿl)  of that "Light" (al‑nÿr) and its effect [trace] atharihi) and its created expression (makhluq). It [Q,6:1a] hath the Name of "the Light (al‑nur) [being the] and the Secondary Reality (al‑aqÿqaal‑thÿniyya) on the level of all enduringness (fÿ al‑rutba[t] al‑baqiyya); the Radiant Splendour in terms of Luminosity (al‑diya'  a`la al‑munir) and the Foundation and Cause (al wa'l‑`illah). Such is expressed in His saying, ‑‑exalted be He ‑‑ "He made the Sun [to be] al‑iyÿ' ("a Radiance") and the moon a light (nÿr).." (= Q.10:5a). So the Radiance (al‑diya') is the luminosity (al‑munir) for this is an attribute of the luminous Sun (al‑shams al‑munir). The "Light" (al‑nur) is a derivitive aspect (?) just as is the state of the [radiance of the] Moon [?check]. Now as for the Splendour (al‑sana') it is synonymous with [named] the Radiance (al‑diya') and the  Beauteous‑Glory (al‑baha')  and the Light (al‑nÿr)... Our Lord and Master Abÿ `Abd Allah, Ja`far ibn Muammad al‑ÿdiq said... in the Tafsir on the basmala  the "B" (al‑bÿ') is Baha'‑Allah and the "S" (al‑sin) is Sana'‑Allah ("The Splendour of God"). Thus doth the baha' have precedence [preceed] the sana' ("The Splendour") we are taught that the sana' ("The Splendour") is an [subsiduary] aspect (al‑sanÿ' furu`) the baha' is foundational (al‑bahÿ' al). It is thus the case that the al‑bahÿ' has the sense of the al‑iyÿ' (" the Radiance") and the  sana' ("The Splendour") has the sense of the Light (al‑nur)... and it [baha'!] is His Messenger (rasul) and Musa son of Ja`far, Mighty Trees (dawat) of the divine, primordial Olive Tree (al‑shajarat al‑awwaliyya al‑ilahhiyya al‑zaytuniyya) which is neither of the East nor Western (laysat l‑sharq an wa la gharbiyya)... and that Tree (al‑shajara)  is the Tree of Exterior Prophethood (sharajah al‑nubuwwah al‑zahira) expressive of wilaya ("Custodianship") (fi'l‑wilaya) and it is the Muhammadan Reality (al‑haqiqat al‑Muhammadiyya)... He said, the Great Shaykh [= Shaykh Muhyi al‑Din ibn al‑`Arabi] in the Futuhat [al‑Makkiyya]  that the Muhammedian Presence (al‑hadarat al‑muhammadaniyya) is the most proximate [to God] of the presences approaching God (aqrab al‑hadrat ila Allah)...  (Sayyid Kazim Rashti, Sharh al‑Qasda, 000 [unpaginated]) 

In his Sharh al-qaīsda   (unpaginated) then, Sayyid Kāzim, comments on the exalted status of Mūsā al-Kāzim (d.799, the seventh Imām) in connection with the divine "Light" mentioned in the Medinan Qur'ānic `Light Verse'(24:35). He explains that this "Light" is (on one level) synonymous with the  "Radiance" (al-diyā') and the "Glory" (al-bahā). At one point he writes, "the Bahā'   ("glory") is al-Diyā'   ("Radiance")." In reality it is the "Primordial Light" and the "Greatest, Greatest Name" (al-ism al-a`zam al-a`zam)  through which God created the "heavens and the earth" and whatsoever is therein.

Sayyid Kazim Rashti  and his Commentgary on the al-Khutba al-tutunjīya ("The Sermon of the Gulf"),

Also worth noting here is the fact that Sayyid Kāzim, commenting on a phrase containing the word "splendour" (diyā') in al-Khutba al-tutunjīya ("The Sermon of the Gulf"),   attributed to Imām `Ali, identified it with bahā' ("radiant glory") and wrote, "it is the light of lights, the very Light which illuminates the lights". This was alluded to in Jesus' words related by Imām Ja`far al-ādiq, "the "B" (bā') of `In the Name of God the Merciful the Compassionate' (Bismi'llah al-Ramān al-Rahīm)  which is bahā’-Allāh.. This is the bahā', Sayyid Kāzim  adds, which is mentioned in the opening line of the Shī`ī Dawn Prayer (cited above; refer, Sayyid Kāim, Sharh al-khutbat.. 20).

Muhammad Karím Khán Kirmání (d. 1288 AH/1871 CE) on the Dawn Prayer, Du`a al-Baha'

Among those Muslims who wrote a commentary on this Dawn Prayer  of Muhammad al-Baqir but remained both anti-Bábí/Bahá'í was the third head of the Kirmání Shaykhis, Hájjí Mírzá Muhammad Karím Khán Kirmání (d. 1288 AH/1871 CE). In his Arabic Treatise in Commentary upon the Dawn Prayer   (written 1274 AH/1857 CE) he records the tradition that it contained the "Greatest Name". [23] Karím Khán equates bahá'  in its opening line with the synonym  usn  (= `beauty, excellence..') and goes on to explain that  "the bahá'   of God (bahá' Alláh)   signifies the first of the effulgences of God (tajalliyát Alláh)..   higher than which there is nothing else". It is the cause of the emergence of everything other than itself and is "the Essence of Essences -- by virtue of it all existence is the station of the [first letter] "B" (Bá') of Bismi'lláh.." (see Commentary.. 19). Though antagonistic to the person of Bahá'u'lláh, Karím Khán regarded the Bahá' of God as the primordial cosmological Reality. He was aware of the exegetical traditions and of their linguistic and theological import but remained heedless and antagonistic towards the Bábí and Bahá'í religions.