The claims to fulfillment and titles of Baha'-Allah IV. The religion of the Bab (1819-1850)

 

The claims to fulfillment and titles of Baha'-Allah IV. The religion of the Bab (1819-1850).

Stephen Lambden

In progress 02-05-2017.

The Báb had no less significantly extolled Him as the “Essence of Being,” as the “Remnant of God,” as the “Omnipotent Master,” as the “Crimson, all-encompassing Light,” as “Lord of the visible and invisible,” as the “sole Object of all previous Revelations, including The Revelation of the Qá’im Himself.” He had formally designated Him as “He Whom God shall make manifest,” had alluded to Him as the “Abhá Horizon” wherein He Himself lived and dwelt, had specifically recorded His title, and eulogized His “Order” in His best-known work, the Persian Bayán, had disclosed His name through His allusion to the “Son of ‘Alí, a true and undoubted Leader of men,” had, repeatedly, orally and in writing, fixed, beyond the shadow of a doubt, the time of His Revelation, and warned His followers lest “the Bayán and all that hath been revealed therein” should “shut them out as by a veil” from Him. He had, moreover, declared that He was the “first servant to believe in Him,” that He bore Him allegiance “before all things were created,” that “no allusion” of His “could allude unto Him,” that “the year-old germ that holdeth within itself the potentialities of the Revelation that is to come is endowed with a potency superior to the combined forces of the whole of the Bayán.” He had, moreover, clearly asserted that He had “covenanted with all created things” concerning Him Whom God shall make manifest ere the covenant concerning His own mission had been established. He had readily acknowledged that He was but “a letter” of that “Most Mighty Book,” “a dew-drop” from that “Limitless Ocean,” that His Revelation was “only a leaf amongst the leaves of His Paradise,” that “all that hath been exalted in the Bayán” was but “a ring” upon His own hand, and He Himself “a ring upon the hand of Him Whom God shall make manifest,” Who, “turneth it as He pleaseth, for whatsoever He pleaseth, and through whatsoever He pleaseth.” He had unmistakably declared that He had “sacrificed” Himself “wholly” for Him, that He had “consented to be cursed” for His sake, and to have “yearned for naught but martyrdom” in the path of His love. Finally, He had unequivocally prophesied: “Today the Bayán is in the stage of seed; at the beginning of the manifestation of Him Whom God shall make manifest its ultimate perfection will become apparent.” “Ere nine will have elapsed from the inception of this Cause the realities of the created things will not be made manifest. All that thou hast as yet seen is but the stage from the moist-germ until We clothed it with flesh. Be patient until thou beholdest a new creation. Say: Blessed, therefore, be God, the Most Excellent of Makers!” (GPB:97-98).

Titles of the Bab claimed by Baha'is to refer to  Baha'-Allah as spelled out in God Passes By and other sources.

“Essence of Being,”

“Remnant of God,”

the “Omnipotent Master,”

the “Crimson, all-encompassing Light,”

The “Lord of the visible and invisible,”

The “sole Object of all previous Revelations, including The Revelation of the Qá’im Himself.”

“He Whom God shall make manifest,”

The title Man yuzhiru-hu Allah (Him whom God shall make manifest") is perhaps the most important messianic title utilized by the Bab for the immediate successor or future cyclic successors.

 

  • The Abha Horizon (ufq al-abhā').

The “Abhá Horizon” wherein He Himself lived and dwelt, had specifically recorded His title, and eulogized His “Order” in His best-known work, the Persian Bayán..." (GPB: 97).

Towards the latter part of his life the Bāb wrote an an 8‑10 page Arabic Waṣiyyat‑nāmah  ("Will and Testament") in which (among other things) Mirza Yaḥyā's position and future role were indicated (see INBMC 64:95‑102). There can be little doubt as to the authenticity of this work. The line washadu bi‑innāni anā hayy fī ufuq al‑abhā  ("And bear witness that I, verily, am the One that liveth in the Most Splendid [Abhā] Horizon"). This echoes Qur'ān 53:7 6 and occurs in an extended proclamatory form on one of the seals of Bahā'u'lāh which probably dates to the early‑mid Adrianople period of his ministry (mid 1860s) ‑‑

 "God testifieth unto His Own Self, through His Own Self (li‑nafsī bi-nafsī) that I, verily, am One that liveth in the Abhā Horizon (bi‑innāni anā hayy f ī al‑ufuq al‑abhā).  Wherefore doth He cry out from the Light of the Horizon in all things (min al‑ufuq al‑nīr fī kull shay'), `I verily am God, no God is there except Me, the Powerful (al‑muqtadir), the Transcendent (al‑muta`ālī), the Help in Peril (al‑muhaymīn),  the Mighty (al‑`azīz),  the Wondrous (al‑badī`)" (see the seal image in The Baha'i World V: 4 + Taherxadeh, Rev. Baha'u'llah 1:78x .I am grateful to Mark Hellaby for drawing this seal to my attention and checking my reading of the text).

The aforementioned line of the Waīyat‑nāmah  of the Bāb is not infrequently cited or paraphrased in Tablets of Bahā’-Allāh. An example is the following extract from an untitled Tablet translated by Shoghi Effendi in Gleanings… CXIII (206‑7),

"God hath, through His tongue that uttereth the truth, testified in all His Tablets to these words: "I am He that liveth in the Abhá Realm of Glory..." (GWB:207‑8)

Another key Tablet of Bahā’-Allāh about the antaginism of Mīrza Yaḥyā and related themes commences as follows,            

          "He is the Eternal the All‑Knowing.

"God testifieth unto Himself by means of His Own Self [to the effect that] I [Bahā’-Allāh], verily, am He that liveth in the Abhā Realm of Glory (bi‑innāni anā hayy fī ufuq al‑abhā...). Whereupon also doth Mine Own Self, Mine Own Essence and Mine own Being, testify unto what He [God] hath testified about His Own Self [li‑nafsihi  = Bahā’-Allāh?]. And He [the Bāb/Bahā’-Allāh?] indeed, is One Who at this moment both heareth and seeth in this Horizon (al‑ufuq)" (La'alī, 3:15; prov. trans. Lambden)

Towards the end of this Tablet the following line is found :

"Say: O People! Do ye desire to contest with the Spirit (al‑rūḥ = Bahā’-Allāh) about what He hath witnessed and observed in the Abhā horizon (fī ufuq al‑abhā)  of the signs [verses] of God (min āyāt Allāh), the All‑High, the Transcendent. By God! He doth not cry out from base passion. Nay rather, in accordance with what the Spirit (al‑rūḥ) crieth out in his supremely pure and sanctified breast..." (ibid 3:18‑19).

Finally but not exhaustively, Bahā’-Allāh states at one point in his anti‑Azalī Lawḥ‑i Sarrāj,   “this wondrous, supremely generative Sun rises from the dawn of eternity and crieth out betwixt earth and heaven with the melody of  "I, verily, am the One that liveth in the Most Splendid [Abhā] Horizon" (innāni anā hayy fī ufuq al‑abhā)   (text cited in Mā'ida, VII:89)

This again contains an exact citation from the Bāb's Will and Testament of the Bab. He further states that this single "clarification from the Point of the Bayān" (yik bayān‑i nuqih‑yi Bayān  = the Bāb) should be sufficient [proof of Baha’-Allah's claims] for  all" (Ma’ida VII:94f). 

It is noteworthy then that Bahā’-Allāh expresses his elevated claims (including the claim to subordinate Divinity) by utilizing a somewhat cryptic phrase from the Will and Testament of the Bāb, from that very document in which a central role was accorded Mīrzā Yaḥyā.  It is apparently on the basis on this important line  of the Bāb's Waṣiyyat‑nāmah and/or other related alwah of Baha'-Allah, that Shoghi Effendi in his God Passes By  reckoned that the Bāb alluded to Bahá'u'lláh as the "Abha Horizon" wherein He [the Bāb] Himself lived and dwelt" (GPB: 97).

 

"had disclosed His name through His allusion to the “Son of ‘Alí, a true and undoubted Leader of men,”

Baha'-Allah and the religion of the Bab

“He around Whom the Point of the Bayán (Báb) hath revolved is come” is Bahá’u’lláh’s confirmatory testimony to the inconceivable greatness and preeminent character of His own Revelation. “If all who are in heaven and on earth,” He moreover affirms, “be invested in this day with the powers and attributes destined for the Letters of the Bayán, whose station is ten thousand times more glorious than that of the Letters of the Qur’ánic Dispensation, and if they one and all should, swift as the twinkling of an eye, hesitate to recognize My Revelation, they shall be accounted, in the sight of God, of those that have gone astray, and regarded as ‘Letters of Negation.’” “Powerful is He, the King of Divine might,” He, alluding to Himself in the Kitáb-i-Íqán, asserts, “to extinguish with one letter of His wondrous 99 words, the breath of life in the whole of the Bayán and the people thereof, and with one letter bestow upon them a new and everlasting life, and cause them to arise and speed out of the sepulchers of their vain and selfish desires.” “This,” He furthermore declares, “is the king of days,” the “Day of God Himself,” the “Day which shall never be followed by night,” the “Springtime which autumn will never overtake,” “the eye to past ages and centuries,” for which “the soul of every Prophet of God, of every Divine Messenger, hath thirsted,” for which “all the divers kindreds of the earth have yearned,” through which “God hath proved the hearts of the entire company of His Messengers and Prophets, and beyond them those that stand guard over His sacred and inviolable Sanctuary, the inmates of the Celestial Pavilion and dwellers of the Tabernacle of Glory.” “In this most mighty Revelation,” He moreover, states, “all the Dispensations of the past have attained their highest, their final consummation.” And again: “None among the Manifestations of old, except to a prescribed degree, hath ever completely apprehended the nature of this Revelation.” Referring to His own station He declares: “But for Him no Divine Messenger would have been invested with the Robe of Prophethood, nor would any of the sacred Scriptures have been revealed.” (GPB:98-99).

Conferred Divinity and Theophanological Claims and Titles.

The Bāb prefaces one of his Tablets to Mīrzā Yaḥyā Nuri (1830‑1912), a younger half-brother of  Mirza Husayn `Ali Nuri with the words "from God to God". Ṭāhira, Quddīs and other Bābis claimed (secondary) Divinity. The Bāb in fact conferred a host of elevated titles and (secondary) Divinity on a veritable pleroma of devout Bābī believers. 1 This does not mean, however, that they were incarnations or Manifestations of God in the sense of being the founders of new religious cycles. Bahā’-Allāh discussus aspects of these issues in various of his Tablets including the Lawh-i Sarraj  (c. 1867 CE). At one point in this Tablet he cites the following passage from a prayer of the Bāb,  "Say: `O my God thou verily art doubly Divine of the doubly Divine (ilahān al-ilāhayn) in order that Thou might confer Divinity on whomsoever Thou willeth". The same is stated in this prayer of the Bab in terms of "Lordship" (rububiyya) (see Ma'ida 7:64).  It may indicate that God is "doubly Divine" in the sense that He conferred His Divinity on the Bāb. 2 The Bāb is also "doubly Divine" in the sense that He conferred it on others. Hence God is "the doubly Divine of the doubly Divine (ilahān al-ilahayn)". God is Divine and Lord in a twofold sense for His Single Divinity is made dual or twofold in the terms of being conferred on the Bāb and others.  Baha'u'llah specifically comments that "Divinity" (uluhiyya) and "Lordship" (rubūbiyya) are "the greatest of stations" (a`ẓam-i maqāmāt). They were, he says, bestowed by the Bāb "upon any soul that he desired" (see Ma’ida 7:64). 3


     1. The Bab claimed Divinity many times and conferred this (secondary) Divinity on various leading Bābīs who in turn stated this in their writings. It was a sign of the onset of the Day of God.

     2. In Babi-Baha'i theology the advent of the new eschatological age was the commencement of the Day of God. For the Bab this meant that he could utter the cry -- and he did this innumerable times -- "I verily am God'. In making this claim he never meant to identify himself with the transcendent unknowable Essence. He likewise predicted that the Babi messiah * man yuẓhiru-hu Allah* would utter the same cry of Divinity. It was in this light Baha'u'llah also frequently claimed (secondary) Divinity.

     3. Bahā'u'llāh also notes that the Bāb gave his disciple Sayyid Jawad various exalted titles including `ilat-i awwaliyya  ("Primal Cause"). Bahā'u'llāh staes that this title is beyond "all the names" -- not even accorded the Prophet Muhammad! He also cites the Bab as stating "We, verily, made him [Sayyid Jawad] a *nabī* ("prophet") unto all the worlds" (Ma'ida VII:86).

The claims to fulfillment and the common and diverse titles of the Bab and Baha-Allah (1844-1850/66).

The Bab and Baha'-Allah shared many titles in common. Baha'-Allah explicitly claimed to be the "return" of the Bab in numerous scriptural Tablets especially those dating from the early Edirne period when the people of the Bayan were frequently addressed.

  • The Bab and Baha'-Allah as "The Youth".

The Bab

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Baha'-Allah

Lawh-i     Subhanaka ya hu ...    (c.1863)

[21] O Concourse of Gnostic initiates! (malā' al-irfān)! Rejoice within thine inner realities for era of Renunciation  ( al-hijrān) is terminated, certitude (al-īqān)  is realized and the Beauty of the Youth (jamāl al-ghulām)  hath beamed forth with an holy ornament (bi-taraz al-quds) in a Paradise of matchless name (firdaws ism makīn).

GWB: LIII: O Náṣir, O My servant! God, the Eternal… (c. 1866).

O Náṣir, O My servant! God, the Eternal Truth, beareth Me witness. The Celestial Youth hath, in this Day, raised above the heads of men the glorious Chalice of Immortality, and is standing expectant upon His seat, wondering what eye will recognize His glory, and what arm will, unhesitatingly, be stretched forth to seize the Cup from His snow-white Hand and drain it. Only a few have as yet quaffed from this peerless, this soft-flowing grace of the Ancient King. These occupy the loftiest mansions of Paradise, and are firmly established upon the seats of authority. By the righteousness of God! Neither the mirrors of His glory, nor the revealers of His names, nor any created thing, that hath been or will ever be, can ever [p.108] excel them, if ye be of them that comprehend this truth...