Basmala Bab 1

 

 

 

The Basmala and Neo-basmala in the writings of the Bāb (1819-1850 CE).

Born a Shī`ī Muslim in Shiraz in 1819, the youthful, revolutionary generator of a new, neo-Shī`ī religion designated al-Dīn al-Sāfi (`The Pristine Religion’) in his Qayyūm al-asmā’ (and commonly designated Bābism), was named Sayyid `Alī Muhammad Shirazi, the Bāb (1819-1892). He wrote a great deal in Arabic and  Persian and made liberal use of the basmala which he also came to recreate or reformulate in various ways.

  • Risāla fi 'l-sulūk (`Trestise on the Path [to God]’)1843.
  • Risāla fī' l-tasdīd (Treatise on ,
  • Tafsīr Sūrat al-baqara (1843-4) Begun Dhū 'l-Qa`da 1259/November-December 1843. Preliminary Khutba.
  • Qayyum al-asmā' (1260 = after May 23rd 1844)
  • Ziyārat-nama for the Imam `Alī ibn `Abī Ṭālib.
  • Letters to family members : His wife Fātima Khanūm; uncle Hājj Mlrzā Sayyid `Alī
  • Letters to Muhammad Shāh, Hājī Mīrzā Āqasī ‘; Sultan `Abd al-Majīd
  • Letters to early Bābīs : Mullā Ḥusayn Bushrū’ī ; Mullā Muhammad `Alī Bārfurūshī, Quddūs; Mirza Sayyid Ḥasan
  • Letters to Shaykhis, Karīm Khān Kirmānī; Mullā Ḥasan Gawhar …
  • Letters to the `ulamā’ and to leading Sunnī Muslims of various schools : the Sharīf Sulayman of Mecca;  Hanbalī, Maghribī, and Hanafī Imams
  • Letters to Shī`ī ulamā’;  Sayyid Ja`far Shubbar
  • The Du`a-yi ṣaḥīfa = Ṣaḥīfa makhzuna =
  • al-Ṣaḥīfa bayn al-ḥaramayn 1261/1845.
  • Khutbas
  • Khuba fī’l-Jidda
  • Khutba on the sufferings of Ḥusayn
  • Khutba `iIm al-ḥurūf
  • Kitāb al-rūḥ  c. 1261/1845

Amulets and talismans.

  • Ziyara jami`a al-kabīra (The Comprehensive Visitation Devotional)
  • Ziyara jami`a al-saghīra (The Lesser Visitation Devotional)
  • Khasā'il-i saba  (1261/mid. May 1845)
  • Tafsir al-basmala
  • Ṣaḥīfa (Kitāb) `amal al-sana
  • Kitāb al-fihrist - 15 Jumādā II 1261/21 June 1845
  • Ṣahīfa-yi Ja`fariyya
  • Du`a-yi Alif
  • Ṣaḥlfa-yi ḥujjatiyya = ? Ṣaḥīfa makhzūna
  • Ṣaḥīfa-yi  `adliyya (`Treatise expressive of Justice’).
  • Tafsīr Sūrat al-kawthar
  • Kitāb al-'ulamā’
  • Risāla-yi dhahabiyya = 15th  Muḥarram 1262 /14th  January 1846.
  • al-Saḥīfa al-Raḍawiyya ??.
  • Tafsīr Sūra wa 'l-`aṣr (1846-7)
  • Risāla fī 'l-nubuwwa al-khaṣṣa

The Persian and Arabic Bayans (Exposition), c.1848.

  • The Persian Bayān III:11

“That which constitutes this [initial] verse (al-āyat) [of the Bayan, stands] in [replacement of the standard Qur'anic, Islamic] basmala [namely]

 بسم الله الامنع الاقدس  
Bism Allāh al-amna` al-aqdas

("In the Name of God, the Most Inaccessible, the Most Holy").

“The substance of this section (bab) is that all of the allusive letters (huruf-i lafziyya) are generated from the Point (Nuqta) [of the letter B]”

  • The Arabic Bayān III:11

ثم الواحد من بعد العشر ما نزل فيها في الآية الاولى

بسم الله الامنع الاقدس 

انتم الى حروف الواحد تنظرون

This  [section concerns] whatsoever was revealed therein [the Bayān] is in  the first [initial] verse [of the Bayān] (al-āyat al-awwalī) namely,  بسم الله الامنع الاقدس  Bism Allāh al-amna` al-aqdas ("In the Name of God, the Most Inaccessible, the Most Holy"). Thou should thus direct thy gaze towards the [19] `Letters of the Unity' (ḥurūf al-wāḥid).
 
 

  •  The Persian Dalā’il-i sab`a
  • The Arabic Dalā’il sab`a
  • Qur'an commentaries
  • The Lawh-i ḥurūfāt = Kitāb-i haykal l Kitab-i hayākil
  • The Kitāb al-asmā'
  • The Khuṭba-yi qahriyya

 

The Kitāb-i panj sha'n [= Shu'un-i khamsa] (The Book of the Five Modes [of Revelation]). 1850.

The first basmala in the KPS.

The neo-basmala formulations in the Kitab-i panj sha`n (The Book of the Five Modes [of Revelation) of the Bab. The first basmala in the KPS (see image above) might be translated, "In the Name of God, the Deity Most Divine (al-a'lah), the Supreme Deity (al-a'lah).  Through God is God (bi-Allāh Allāh), the Deity Most Divine (al-a'lah), the Supreme Godhead (al-a'lah)." This is repeated twice then followed by a third basmala  بسم الله المؤٍله المؤله الله لا اله الا هو "In the Name of God, the Deified, the Deified. No God is there except Him" or “In the Name of God, the  Supremely Deified, the Supremely Deified. No God is there except Him”. At KPS 1.1 (p. 8) the fourth basmala prefives a prayer and is again, as in earlier, Bismillah al-a’illah al-a’illa, "In the Name of God, the Supreme Deity, the Ultra-Deity".
 

At KPS 1.2 (p.15) we have (as above) the same neo-basmala as at the beginning followed by Bismillah al-arfa al-arfa, "In the Name of God, the Uppermost, the Uppermost".  

 

The first basmala at KPS III.1(p. 68) is written for the leading Babi   مرزا أسد الله‎ = Mirza Assad-Allah Khu`I known as Dayyān and reads:  بسم الله الاءِحد الاءِحد Bismillah al-a’ihad al-a’ihad (from the root a-h-d connoting oneness)  "In the Name of God, the Supremely One, the Supremely One". Here we have the superlative form of the Arabic word for "one" used as a Name of God denoting some form of ultra or supreme oneness. Add

 

The 5th Persian section of the Kitab-i Panj Sha’n (VII.5) includes a twice repeated superlative form of the root j-m-l- connoting beauty : Bism’llah al-ajmal al-ajmal, In the Name of God, the Most Beautiful, the Most Beautiful (see image above).
 

The Haykal al-dīn, 1850.

The very late book of the Bab entitled Haykal al-dīn (The Temple of Religion) commences with the Ya Huwa (O He!) and then al-wahid al-awwal (The first Wahid "Unity") which is followed by the new basmala of the Bab spelled out in the Persian Bayan :  Bismillah al-amna` al-aqdas. "In the Name of God the Most Inaccessible, the Most Holy". The second "Unity" of the Haykal al-Din also commences, Huwa – Bismillah al-amna al-aqdas and has the address "O letter of R and B" indicating al-Rabb meaning  Lord!).

In the Haykal al-Din each Unity usually commences with the Huwa or an address thereto, an address to the personal pronoun indicative of the Divine Self-Identity, the Ipseity (huwiyya), Ya Hu / Huwa. “O He!” though this may be (text not always clear) bi-'llah "in God". Each unity is also often prefixed with Ya Allah (O God!).  In Haykal al-Din III-VII we have Ya Allah! (O God!). These invocations are followed by the new basmala of the Bab as set down  in the Persian and Arabic Bayans Bismi’llah al-amna’ al-aqdas… This new basmala occurs at the commencement of Haykal al-Din [I]  II-VIII + X and XI but not before IX which has no basmala only the Ya Huwa (O He!") followed by the words, "I verily amd indeed God! No God is there except I myself! The Supreme Sovereign (aslat), The Supreme Sovereign (al-aslat).

The Bab’s Tafsir on select verses of his Haykal al-Din must be one of his very latest writings probably dating to late June or early July 1850. It has the Basmala : “In the Name of God the Knowing, the Master of the Dual Signs (Dhu’l-`Alamayn / `Alamin”).

 

 

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  • Ziyārat-nama

 

The Kitab-i panj sha`n

The neo-basmala formulations in the Kitab-i panj sha`n (The Book of the Five Modes [of Revelation) of the Bab.

The Kitāb-i Panj Sha`n (= KPS) (The Book of the Five Modes [or Grades]) is a fairly lengthy major work of the Bāb largely written largely in Arabic but with some (heavily Arabized) Persian sections making up 1/5th of the work. It is a very rich work existing in a large number of ms. copies dating from the 1850s. Its subject matter is representative of the last phrase of the thought and meditative devotional style of the Bāb.

The Kitāb-i Panj Sha`n is a work that the Bāb began writing at  a very auspicious time,  at the beginning of the Bābī year seven  which falls in the spring  of the year 1850 CE.  More precisely, he commenced  this work on the 1st of Bahā’  of the Badī` or Bābī (- Bahā’ī  ) year 7 (= 1850 )  which (in the Christian Gregorian calendar ) corresponds to the 19th of March 1850 CE  (= in the Islamic calendar to the 5th of Jumāda I  in the year 1266 AH). From this date onwards the Bāb wrote five Arabic-Persian grades daily in the name of specific leading Bābī disciples (to whom specific groups were sent out) until 21st Jumada I (1266).  In communicating these daily revelations   for 17 days the result was 17 x 5 or 85 grades constituting a lengthy book of   over 500  pages. The  Kitāb-i Panj Sha`n was thus fairly  speedily  completed on the 4th of April 1850  or  21 Jumādā 1st 1266 AH,  about 4 months before the martyrdom of the Bāb in Tabrīz (NW Iran) on July 9th 1850. 

The KPS contains very many basmala recreations many of which are heterodox if not heretical or extremely ghuluww by traditional Islamic norms or standards. Its first revelatory pentad (Pentad I.  KPS:1ff.) may be addressed to or for  the Bābī messiah figure man yuẓhiru-hu Allah (““Him whom God shall make manifest”), who was regarded by the Bab as a Divine Being. On account of his eschatological (subordinate) Deity it opens with lines containing the superlative of Allāh (A’llāh) and several other neologisms formed from the personal name of God, Allāh:

In the Name of God, the Deity Most Divine (al-a'lah), the Supreme Deity (al-a'lah).  Through God is God (bi-Allāh Allāh), the Deity Most Divine (al-a'lah), the Supreme Godhead (al-a'lah).

This opening pentad repeats this initial basmala twice and then follows this with a third basmala which reads as follows:

بسم الله المؤٍله المؤله الله لا اله الا هو

“In the Name of God, the Supremely Deified, the Supremely Deified. No God is there except Him”.

This is an extremely bold way of commencing a Book; with three bold neo-basmala formulas which wholly transcent Islamic norms. The Bāb would seem to be underlining the post-Islamic nature of his new religion and/or that of the Bābī messiah man yuẓhiru-hu Allāh.  On one level it is not suprising that the youth of Shiraz was