The Claims and Titles of Baha'-Allah and the Abrahamic religions III : The Qur'an and Traditions ...

The Claims and Titles of Baha'-Allah and the Abrahamic religions III.

The Qur'an, Traditions - Ahadith / Akhbar - and Islamic Literatures.

Stephen Lambden UCMerced.

In progress 2017. Last updated 11-10-2017

THE MEETING WITH GOD/ THE LORD.

Select Qur'anic verses on the Liqa; Allah / al-Rabb (The Encounter/Meeting/Theophany with God/ the Lord) :

Lost indeed are they that cried lies to the encounter with God (liqā’-Allāh) so that when the [escatological] Hour comes to them suddenly they shall say, 'Alas for us, that we neglected it!’ (Qur’ān 6: 31).

Then We gave Moses the Book, complete for him who does good, and distinguishing every thing, and as a guidance and a mercy; haply they would believe in encounter (liqā’) with their Lord (rabb) (Qur’ān 6:155).

Whoso looks to encounter God (liqā’-Allāh), God's term (ajal) is assuredly coming (Qur’ān 29: 5). [1]

[1] Most of the translations of verses of the Qur’ān cited  above (and below) are those of A. J. Arberry (d. Cambridge, 1969) with occasional modifications and/or added transliteration. He often translated liqā’ as “encounter”.

The Islamic Vision of the “Lord” (al-rabb) on the Day of Resurrection.

“God is He who raised up the heavens without pillars you can see, then He sat Himself upon the Throne... He distinguishes the signs; haply you will have faith in the encounter with your Lord (liqā’ rabbika)” (Qur’ān 13: 2).

“No indeed! When the earth is ground to powder, and thy Lord comes forth (wa jā` rabbuka ), and the angels rank on rank” (Qur’ān 89: 21-22).

“Faces [of believers] shall shine brightly (nāḍira) on that Day [of Resurrection] gazing upon their Lord (rabb)” (Qur’ān 75: 22-3).

The Islamic implications of such qur’ānic verses as have been cited above, have been well summed up in the following succinct manner by Murata and Chittick:

 “We have seen that the Koran promises in no uncertain terms that people will encounter their Lord. One of the questions that theologians often debated was whether or not this encounter implied the vision of God. Most thought that it did, and they had Koranic verses and hadiths to support them. The general picture, in fact, is that the vision of God is the greatest possible bliss, and that all those taken to paradise will achieve it. However, those who remain in hell will be barred from this vision, and this will amount to the worst possible chastisement” (Murata and Chittick, 1994: 177).

In line with those Qur’ānic passages which speak of the eschatological therophany, the encounter or meeting (liqā’) with the Lord (rabb) (see Q. 13:2) and of the eschatological vision of the Lord (rabb), there are traditions ascribed to Muhammad about a latter-day vision of God as the resplendent and luminous “Lord” (rabb).

One such frequently recorded Sunnī tradition, is registered in slightly variant forms in the Ṣaḥīḥ (the Reliable/Sound) of Muhammad ibn Ismā’īl al-Bukhharī (d.256/870), Within, for example, the Kitāb al-Tafsīr (Book of Qur’ān Commentary) the following   tradition narrated from Abū Sa'īd aI-Khudrī (c/ 65/584) is found:

During the lifetime of the Prophet [Muhammad] it was said, `O Messenger of God! Shall we see our Lord (rabb) on the Day of Resurrection (yawm al-qiyāma)?’ The Prophet said, `Yes!’ (na`am); do you have any difficulty in seeing the sun (al-shams) at midday when it is bright (ḍaw’) and there is no cloud (al-saḥāb) [in the sky]?" They replied, "No." He said, "Do you have any difficulty in seeing the moon (al-qamar) on the night of the full moon (laylat al-badr) when it is bright (ḍaw’) and there is no cloud (al-saḥāb) [in the sky]?" They replied, "No." The Prophet said, Likewise will you have no difficulty in seeing God (Allāh) on the Day of Resurrection as you have no difficulty in seeing either of them [the sun or the moon]… (Lambden, trans. Arabic Bukharī, 1997, al-Sahih, vol. 6, Bk. 65 No. 4581, pp. 90-92).

This above ḥadīth from the Sunni Islamic collection known as the Ṣaḥīḥ of al-Bukharī, which further has it  that  “On the Day of Resurrection … the Lord of the worlds (rabb al-`ālamīn)” will come to various ummat (religious communities)” in a “form”, “shape” or mode closest (adnā sūrat) to the vision of Him expected or “generated by the people themselves”. It then adds that the true eschatological vision of God will be a universal, personal vision of the Qur’ānic God.

Several Sunnī traditions about the vision of the Lord on the Day of Resurrection are also found in the Kitāb al-Tawḥīd (Book of the Divine Unity) within the Ṣaḥīḥ of al-Bukhharī where they are considered expository of Qur’ān 75:22-23 (cited above), including the following narration from a certain Jarīr ibn 'Abd-Allāh al-Bajalī (d. ca. 51/671),

We were sitting with the Prophet [Muhammad] and he looked at the moon (al-qamar) on the night of the full moon (laylat al-badr) and said, "You shall see your Lord (rabb) just as you see this [full] moon (al-qamar), and you will have no difficulty or trouble in observing Him (ru’yatihi)… (Lambden, trans Arabic Bukharī, 1997, al-Sahih, vol.9, Bk. 97 No. 7434. p. 318).

Refer further to the similar traditions about the vision of the Lord on the Day of Resurrection recorded by al-Bukharī in the Kitāb al-Tawḥīd (Book of the Divine Unity),  from Jarīr (No. 7436, pp. 318-9), from 'Ata' ibn Yazid al-Laithi as narrated from Abū Hurayrah (No. 7437, p. 319-322), from  'Aṭā' bin Yazid several times from Abū Sa'īid al-Khudrī (No. 7438, p. 322+ No. 7438, p. 322), etc  

[1] The prophetic tradition relayed from `Ikrima picturing the “Lord” as a “beardless Youth” (al-shābb) can be found in various hadith collections and in numerous Sufi and other sources including the writings of the great mystic Ibn al-`Arabī (d. 1240). See his al-Futuḥāt al-makkiyya (“The Meccan Disclosures “) vol. I: 97, 755; II: 377, 426; III: 111, 330, IV: 182, 474 etc. For further details and references in early Islamic literatures, Ritter, 2003 esp. Ch. 26 p. 460f.

More categorically, Jarīr ibn `Abd-Allāh al-Bajalī is again cited by al-Bukharī as narrating that the Prophet said:

"You will indeed see your Lord (rabb) with your own eyes" (satrūna rabbakum `iyyān an) (Lambden, trans Arabic Bukharī, 1997, al-Sahih, vol. 9, Bk. 97 No. 7435. p. 318), [1]

[1] Refer further to the similar traditions about the vision of the Lord on the Day of Resurrection recorded by al-Bukharī in the Kitāb al-Tawḥīd (Book of the Divine Unity),  from Jarīr (No. 7436, pp. 318-9), from 'Ata' ibn Yazid al-Laithi as narrated from Abū Hurayrah (No. 7437, p. 319-322), from  'Aṭā' bin Yazid several times from Abū Sa'īid al-Khudrī (No. 7438, p. 322+ No. 7438, p. 322), etc 

Such traditions about the eschatological coming of the "Lord" were appiled by Baha'-Allah himself, to his own advent as a Manifestation of God (mazhar-i ilahi) though not as the Ultimate Godhead or Divine Essence (dhat) of the transcendent, unknowable Deity.  This is clear from his late Persian Lawh-i Shaykh or  Lawh-i Ibn-i Dhi`b (Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, c. 1890 CE).

In certain of these and other early, related traditions, the expected normally formless Lord (rabb) is to appear on the Day of Resurrection in human-like (“anthropomorphic”) “form’ (ṣūrat).  In some texts this has messianic and theophan- ological implications. Within Islamic theological writings, it is admitted that God may manifest Himself in whatever manner he pleases; as, for example,  a human-like Deity (human beings are in “His image” Gen. 1:27) redolent of divine, supernatural beauty (al-jamāl). In some traditions God, the latter-day Lord, is pictured as taking on beautiful bodily forms, like that of the youthful prophet Jesus or Muhammad. Even the archangel Gabriel is said to have assumed the stunningly beautiful form of the merchant Diḥya al-Kalbī (d. c. 45/618; see Lammens and Pellat, “Diḥya”, in EI2 ). 

 

The Liqa'-Allah, the eschatological or latter-day "Encounter" or "Meeting with God".

Just as the Bible and various Jewish and Christian traditions predict the theophany or appearence of God on the Day of Resurrection, so too the Qur'an and a number of Sunni and Shi`i traditions (akhbar-ahadith). For Baha'is the liqa-Allah, :Meeting with God camn about through the meeting with his manifestations, the Bab and Baha'-Allah.

Lawh-i Naqus (The Tablet of the Bell), 1863

[11] O Denizens of the Omnipotent Kingdom of  Divine Attributes (ahl jabarūt al-sifāt) in the Abhā horizon! (ufq al-abhā') Be ye prepared for the Encounter with God (liqā' Allāh)  for the sanctified breezes (nasmāt al-quds) hath wafted from the Hidden Retreat of the Divine Essence (makman al-dhāt)  which is indeed a manifest Bounty.

We decree in this Tablet that most of the [Babi-Baha'i] friends should write Istidlaliyya 'apologetic testimonia'] tracts (lit. `tablets' alwāḥ) in establishment of this Cause and send them unto the [various] countries, perchance thereby none should be veiled from attaining the  Encounter-Meeting  with God (liqā’-Allāh [through Bahā'-Allāh), the Mighty, the Beauteous"  (Arab. text AQA 4:195,  trans. Lambden).

IN PROGRESS

See further : The Lawh-i Liqa' of Baha'-Allah. PDf,

See further : Khatamiyya (Q. 33:40) and the Liqa' Allah (the Divine Theophany).

The Tablet of the Divine Theophany (Lawḥ-i liqā’).

Arabic text from Makatib-i Hadrat-i `Abdu'l-Baha', Vol. 1:102-108. PDf. L-Liqa-Makatib-1-102f.pdf

THE ESCHATOLOGICAL CALL.

  • The Eschatological Call (al-nida ), Q.  

Tablet to `Ali Ashraf Lahijani, `Andalib :

O people of the earth! Hearken ye! By God! This is [indeed] the Call (nida') which the Beloved One [Muhammad] heard during the [night of the] mi`raj (Heavenly ascent, see Q. 17:1f)), and the Speaker (al-kalim = Moses) on the Mount of Felicity (fi tur al-ibtihaj) as well as the Spirit (al-ruh = Jesus) at the moment of his ascension unto God, the Revealer of instructions and ordinances (munzil awamir wa'l-ahkam). Wherefore doth the Tongue of Grandeur (lisan al-`azimat) so cry out,  though the people are in a state of dispute (murya) and discord (shiqaq) (Lawh-i `Andalib in AQA IV:71).

 

THE BLASTS ON THE TRUMPET

New Testament :

Matthew 24:30-31 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Pauline and pseudo-Pauline Letters.

 

  • The second Trumpet Blast (      ) Q.      /

In the second and fourth lines of the c. 1863, Constantinople-Istanbul period Lawh-i naqus  (Tablet of the Bell) we read:

[2]  O Hūd of the Verdict!  (al-ḥukm)! Sound the Bugle (al-nāqūr)  in the name of God, the Mighty, the Noble, for the Embodiment of Sanctity (haykal al-quds) hath been established upon a Mighty, Transcendent Seat (kursī).

[4] O Angel of Light! (malak al-nūr)! Sound the trumpet (al-sūr) in this theophany (al-ẓuhūr) for the letter "H" (al-hā' ) rideth upon a mighty, pre-existent letter ["B"] (bi-ḥarf `izz qadīm).

From a Tablet to Nur al-Din Afnan

Tablet to Baha'-Allah / Kadim-Allah to Nur al-Din Afnan in INBMC 31:32

" This [eschatological] "Day" all have witnessed and been thunderstruck at the blast upon the Trumpet, save, that is such as God hath Willed".

The second blast upon the Trumpet is clearly abnnounced by Baha'-Allah in his Lawh-i Ishraqat (Tablet of Splendours):

Upon Our arrival in ‘Iráq We found the Cause of God sunk in deep apathy and the breeze of divine revelation stilled. Most of the believers were faint and dispirited, nay utterly lost and dead. Hence there was a second blast on the Trumpet, whereupon the Tongue of Grandeur uttered these blessed words: ‘We have sounded the Trumpet for the second time.’ Thus the whole world was quickened through the vitalizing breaths of divine revelation and inspiration" ( Lawh-i Ishraqat  9th Ishraq trans. TBAA: 131).

`Abd al-Baha' has summed up these predictions and their Babi-Baha'i fulfillment extract from a quite lengthy scriptural alwah (Tablet) :

The Bugle [al-ṣūr]  (Q. 39:68) hath sounded, the Trumpet [al-nāqūr] (Q.74:8) hath been blown, the Crier  hath raised his call, and all upon the earth have swooned away ‑ but still do the dead, in the tombs of their bodies [qubūr al-asjād], sleep on.

 And the second clarion [al-nafkhaḥ]  (Q. 39:68) hath sounded, there hath followed the second blast after the first, (Q. 79:6) and the dread woe hath come, and every nursing mother hath forgot the infant at her breast (Q.22:2 ) --  yet still the people, confused and distracted, heed it not"  (see `Abdu'l‑Baha,  Selections, 13-15).

 

THE "YOUTH" AS AN ELEVATED TITLE

The sometimes Lordly or supernatural person of the Youth is in various ways regarded as being indicative of a pure, undefiled yet prodigious  or brilliant young person capable of guiding and mediating divine reality. Important Arabic designations of  the "Youth:include the words  al-shabb  and  al-amrad ("beardless youth"). The former is found applied to the Godhead in an influential, though for some an apparently "weak" (inauthentic) hadith. A  prophetic tradition was relayed from a certain `Ikrima within which the "Lord" is  portrayed as a “beardless Youth” (al-shābb). According to Anas ibn Mālik (d. 91-93 /708-10), Muhammad himself is said to have stated, 

I saw my Lord (rabbi) in the most beautiful form (aḥsan sūrat) like a youth with abundant hair (ka'l-shābb al-mūfìri) on the throne of grace (kursī karāmat) ...

Islamic Background : Qur'an and Hadith texts.

Select articles and literatures pertaining to al-Futuwwah (loosely, "Youthood")

There are several key Arabic and Persian words for a "youth" in Islamic literatures. The word s for youth  are important in the Qur'an, Hadith and other  Islamic literatures, including various kinds of Qur'an Commentaries, Persian mystical literatures and a wide range of Sufi and esoteric Islamic writings. Important terminology includes Fata (pl. fityan), `Youth',  as well as `Young Man' (shābb) and  amrad ( beardless youth, fem. = marda' pl. murd) as well as the Persian Javan ("Youth".

al-Sulami (b. Nishapur,  936/325 = d. Nishapur 512/1021)

Abu 'Abdu'l-Rahman Muhammad ibn al-Husayn ibn Muhammad ibn Musa ibn Khalid ibn Salim ibn Rawia al-Sulami (b. Nishapur,  936/325 = d. Nishapur 512/1021)

Michel Chodkiewicz  notes in his learned introduction to Sulaymi's `Book of Sufi Chivalry' that  "Fata in its plural form (fityan) is ... applied to the Companions of the Cavern (ahl al-kahf, Koran 18:10,13), and in its singular form it designates Moses'  companion (Koran 18:60, 62). (fn. 6 p.26)

 

This hadith can be found in various hadith collections and in numerous Sufi and other sources, including the writings of the great mystic Ibn al-`Arabī (d. 1240) especially his al-Futuḥāt al-makkiyya (“The Meccan Disclosures“). See the well-known four volume edition, vol. I: 97, 755; II: 377, 426; III: 111, 330, IV: 182, 474 etc.

The Youth as al-fata is especially important in the al-Futuḥāt al-makkiyya of the abovementioned Ibn al-`Arabi

"At the beginning of al-Futuhat al-Makkiyyah, the major work of the man who, for many Muslims, is the "Seal of Muhammad an Sanctity," Ibn 'Arabi describes a meeting in Mecca, before the Kaaba, with an enigmatic personage whom he calls "the young man" ( aljata).10 This nameless "young man" is described as "he who speaks and is silent" (almutakallim al-samit), "who is neither dead nor alive" (laysa bi-hayyin wa la ma'it). He is at the same time "simple and composed" (al-murakkab al-basit); he is "contained by all things and contains all things" (al-muhat al-muhit). He transcends ''the where and the when'' that is, space and time. He is "the knowledge, the known, and the knowing" (al- 'ilm wa 1-ma'lum wa 1-'alim) or "the contemplating and the contemplated" ( al-shahid wa 1-mashhud). I t is from the "nature" of this "young man" that Ibn 'Arabi says he has drawn "ail that is written in this book (22
THE BOOK OF SUFI CHIV ALRY

Chodkiewicz also also nptes that the Great Shaykh "devoted three chapters to Futuwwah" (loosely, {"Youthood"), in his Futuhat al-Makkiyya  (chap. 42, 1, 241-2#, and chaps. 146-147, II, 231-234).

 

 

For further details and references in early Islamic literatures, Ritter, 2003 esp. Ch. 26 p. 460f.

The "youth" figure as a mystical guide was very inportant for Ibn al-`Arabi.

Ibn al-`Arabi and the supernal Fata - "Youth".

"At the beginning of al-Futuhat al-Makkiyyah [Cairo, A.H. 1329), chap. 1 (1, 47-57]... Ibn 'Arabi describes a meeting in Mecca, before the Kaaba, with an enigmatic personage whom he calls "the young man" (al-fata). This nameless "young man" is described as "he who speaks and is silent" (al-mutakallim al-samit), "who is neither dead nor alive" (laysa bi-hayyin wa la ma'it). He is at the same time "simple and composed" (al-murakkab al-basit); he is "contained by all things and contains all things" (al-muhat al-muhit). He transcends ''the where and the when'' that is, space and time. He is "the knowledge, the known, and the knowing" (al- 'ilm wa'l-ma'lum wa'l-'alim) or "the contem--plating and the contemplated" (al-shahid wa'1-mashhud). It is from the "nature" of this "young man" that Ibn 'Arabi says he has drawn "ail that is written in this book." (from Sulaymi, 1983, Introduction by Michel Chodkiewicz, pp.21-22).

In his notes to his translation cited above, Chodkiewicz further states : "See  A detailed and penetrating analysis of this inaugural account (about which, however, 1 have certain reservations) has been given by Henri Corbin in L 'lmaination créatrice dans le Soufisme d'Ibn 'Arabi (Paris, 1958), p. 207 ff. The author translates fata as jouvenceau mystique, "mystical youth." It is worth remarking that Ibn 'Arabi has devoted three chapters to Futuwwah in his Futuhat (chap. 42, 1, 241-2#, and chaps; 146-147, II, 231-234)" (cited from 1983:26 fn.10).

 

Islamic Literatures on Futuwwah

Select articles and literatures pertaining to al-Futuwwah (loosely, "Youthood")

Abu 'Abdu'l-Rahman Muhammad ibn al-Husayn ibn Muhammad ibn Musa ibn Khalid ibn Salim ibn Rawia al-Sulami (b. Nishapur,  936/325 = d. Nishapur 512/1021)

  • Kitab al-futuwwah (The [Sufi] Way of Youthfulness [Honourable  Spiritual Conduct])
  • Kitab al-futuwwah  ed. Franz Taeschner's in Studio orientalia Joanni Pedersen ••• dicta (Copenhagen, 1953), pp. 340-351.
  • Muhammad ibn al-Husayn al-Sulami, The Book of Sufi Chivalry Lessons to a Son of the Moment, Futuwwah, translated by Sheikh Tosun Bayrak al-Jerrahi al-Halveti. New York : Inner Traditions International. Jerrahi Order of America, 1983. 

In Persian.

Morteza Sarraf (ed.)

  • Rasa'il-i javanmardan (Tehran and Paris, 1973), a collection in Persian of seven futuwwat-nameh (treatises on Futuwwah) 

The Bab as the Youth

Qayyum al-asma'

QA. LXXVI [76] Sūrat al-waraqa (The Surah of the Leaf) on Qur'ān 12:75, verse 19:

[17] O Solace of the Eyes! The people shall ask thee  about Dhī'l [Dhu'l]-Qarnayn  ("The One Possessed of Two Horns [Eras]"). Say [in reply]: `Yea! By my Lord! I am the King of the two Originations  (malik al-bad'ayn)  in the two horns [eras, dominions] (al-qarnayn). [18] I am the  elevated Possessor of an Era [Horn] [dhu'l qarn]  in the two bodies (al-jismayn)... [19] We verily, established him [Dhu'l-Qarnayn = the Bāb] in the land  and We, in very truth, bestowed a letter [of the alphabet] from the name of the Dhikr upon this Arabian Youth  (al-ghulam al-`arabī = the Bāb)  such that the ways and means to all ends became his.

An early Scriptural Tablet of the Bab published in Kitab-i Zuhur al-haqq KZH 2:16

M-H*-M-D [ = MUHAMMAD]
0 Denizens of the Throne (ahl al-`arsh)!
Hearken unto the Call of thy Lord, the All Merciful, Who, no God is there save Him, from the tongue of 'Ali (`aliyy), this Youth, the son of 'Ali , the Arab who hath been witnessed in the Archetypal [Mother] Book (umm al-kitab). Then hearken unto that which He hath inspired (w-h-y) unto thee from thy Lord, 'I, verily, I am God, besides Whom there is none other save Him' . There is not a single thing like unto Him. And He is God, One Elevated, Mighty.
0 people of the earth! Hearken ye unto the Call of the birds upon the Tree, the leaves of which are of Camphor manifest in the depiction of this Praiseworthy (al-mahmudi) 'Alid, Fatimid, Meccan, Medinan, xxxx, Iraqi, Arabian Youth (al-fata al-' arabi .....) . lndeed did the All Merciful manifest His Glory (tajalli) upon their leaves. He is indeed the the Exalted (al-`aliyy). And He is assuredly God Who hath ever been One Mighty, Praiseworthy ..

And in another place:
... For God did indeed select for the preservation of the religion of His Messengers (rusul) and His Chosen Ones (awliya) a servant`abd (the Bab) from among the non-Arabs (min al-ajamiyyin). And He bestowed upon him [the Bab] what be had not bequeated upon anyone of the worlds

 

 Baha'-Allah as the Fata and Ghulam

Lawh-i Naqus - Subhana ya Hu ...

IMAMOLOGY AND THE CLAIMS.

Imami Shi`i Muslims expect, on the basis of a very large number of traditions relayed from the Imams themselves, they they or certain of them will have a `second coming' advent or raja` ("return") in eschatological times when they will conquer and rule the world for a variously  spelled out length of time. It is thought on the basis of many Shi`i traditions,  that all of the 12 Imams  or certain of them, most notably the twelfth Imam, Mahdi or Qa'im (messianic ariser, d. in occultation 260/8XX) and the third Imam Husayn (d.     ), will reappear on earth in eschatological times when the earth will be renewed, a Shi`i theocracy be established, and the millennial or longer period of beatitude commence.

The return, second coming of Imam Husayn (rija`t-i Husayn).