Talismanic gnosis in the Sahifa bayna al-haramayn (Epistle between the two shrines) and the Khasa'il-i sab'a (The Seven Directives) of the Bab.

Ṣaīfa bayn al‑ḥaramayn from TBA. Ms. 6004c, 348.


Talisman Gnosis in the Ṣaḥīfa bayn al-ḥaramayn

("The Treatise [written] between the Two Shrines [Mecca and Medina]") and in Khasa'il-i sab'a (The Seven Directives) of the Bab.


Stephen Lambden, UCMerced -

In progress and under revision-last uploaded 12-11-2017.

That talismanic knowledge or gnosis  was important to the Bāb from the very outset of his prophetic mission, is evidenced by the fact that two  consecutive sūras of his Qayyūm al‑asmā’  are entitled, Sūrat al‑tathlīth  (QA. 90 `Sūra of the Threefold [Name?] ’(cf. the three letter of Alī) and  Sūrat al‑tarbī`  (QA. 91 `Sūra of the Fourfold [Name?]’ (cf. the four letters of Muḥammad and Husayn). These titles may allude to the (Arabic) name of the Bāb, Alī Muḥammad  (= 3 letters [Alī]+ 4 letters [Muhammad]) and thus be connected with talismanic or alphabetical gnosis. In the  29th section of the Qayyum al-asma'  entitled Sūrat al‑ḥuriyya (`Sura of the Maiden) the Bab refers to himself, echoing the words of Imam `Ali in the Khutba al-Tutunjiyya (Sermon of the Twin Gulfs),  as "this Arabic Talismanic Remembrance (al‑dhikr al‑ṭil[l]ismī al‑`arabī, QA. XXIX:105).


Talismanic Extract from the Sahifa bayna al-haramayn (Epistle between the two shrines)


Included with the  Ṣaḥīfa bayn al-ḥaramayn is a roughly ten page section about talismanic matters which Mīrzā Muḥīṭ had apparently heard (or read) in connection with the Bāb and about which he desired clarification. The Bāb’s response to these matters illustrates that for him, the parameters of talismanic gnosis went far beyond any Christian adoration of a form of the cross (shakl al-saib), and beyond a mundane concern with amulets and charms. For the Bāb, talismans encapsulated cosmological, prophetological  and other arcane mysteries associated with heavenly ascent and interior realization. This section attests the Bāb’s early fascination with numerology and talismans and certain of their cosmological, theophanological, devotional and other implications.

For some generqal details and further Translation :  See http://hurqalya.ucmerced.edu/node/407/

Certain passages of the following translation from section (bab) II of the Ṣaḥīfa bayn al-ḥaramayn, were translated in the early 1980s and remain in need revision and correction.


Translation Stephen Lambden

The Sahifa Bayn al-Haramayn of the Bab commences as follows:

Kitab [Sahifa] bayn al-Haramayn

 In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.

This Book (Kitab) was inded sent down within the sacred [holy] land (`ala al-ard al-muqaddas) between the Two Shrines [Mecca and Medina] on the part of one Elevated (`aliyy/`Ali), Praiseworthy [All-Wise] (hamid in [hakim]). It hath indeed been set forth through the instrumentality of the Dhikr (messianic Remembrance) (`an yad al-dhikr) as the Straight Pathway of God (sirat Allah) between the heavens and the earth. This in responce to the petition of the questioner (du`a al-sa'il), Hajji Sayyid `Ali Kirmani, regarding [seven aspects of the] well-established verses (ayat al-muhkamat). [It was sent down]  with the express permission of God  and as accords with manifest [well-balanced] scales [of justice] (qistas in mubin in). And this perchance it might instruct the believers about the Elevated Word (kalimat al-`ulya) within the seven mathani (twice repeated, cf. Q. Surah 1) and the Mighty Qur'an. ....


 Trans. Stephen Lambden


[CUL. Ms. Or. F7, 27-37; TBA. Ms. 6007C, 360f; Majlis ms. 72f).

[See below, Select Expository Notes].

Regarding the matter [regulation] (hukm) which the questioner hath (re)cited from [writings deriving from] Thy  tongue [of revelation, the Bab] respecting the structures [pathway[s] of the threefold-triangular (al-tathlith) and the fourfold-quadrangular (al-tarbi`) talismanic configurations (hukm al‑ṭilismāt), which came forth with the sanction of thy Lord, according to a Straight Path (`alā ṣirat al‑qawīm).

Know of a certainty (yaqin)! 

And Be aware through the  knowledge of certainty (`ilm al-yaqin)! Then bear witness with the eye of certainty (`ayn al-yaqin) [unto] the decree of thy Lord in the Manifest Book (kitab in mubin in). Had you gazed upon the Countenance of the  Divine Will (wajh al‑mashiyya) the [two] limits (al-ḥaddayn) [of this world and that] would have been negated for you with respect to the [acquisition of the] knowledge of the two [aforementioned] talismans (`ilm al‑tilismayn cf. Q. 28:88; 55:26‑27) but thou would be unable to demonstrate what they are, save  relative to their  origination (bi'l‑ibdā`) for the very path of their secret [mystery]  (fī sabīl sirrihā) is attained [during the journey] unto God, the Originator, the Chosen.

Thou should not narrate regarding the pathways [configurations] (subul) of this journey towards God, except regarding its commencement (al-ikhtira`). The profundities (balighayn)  shall be cut off [from you] with respect to the apex of [its] termination (dhirwat al-inqata`a), on account of  their allusive nature, for God shall, in this respect, doom to perdition the mystic wayfarers (al-`arifin) in view of the intensity of its abstrusity  (fi `izz al-imtana`), and in view of their turning away towards what is other than this [journey]. Indeed! Such is the decree of God regarding [even the] believers (al-mu'minin) whom God hath counted among the inmates of the Garden of Paradise (ahl jannat al-firdaws). This in accord with justice (al-`adl) by means of a manifest balance (qustas mubin).

And none knoweth what is alluded to through this statement (bi'l-tasrih) regarding the Word of communication (kalimat al-tabligh),  except  those servants of God for whom He hath written down the [eschatological] Encounter [with God] (al-liqa') in every circumstance (fi kull sha`n) relative to the created realm (al-khalq). Do ye not see this in this thine own span of time ( waqt)?  That one who is the servant of God (`abd) [destined for the Meeting] might become disassociated [separated] from thee during his days, perchance the people might come to faith in the Encounter with God (liqa' Allah)!

If thou should thou gaze in the direction of the sixth configuration [surface, countenance] (wajh al-sadis) then detatch, in line with the decree of thy Lord (bi-hukm Allah), the two [aforementioned] talismans (al-tilismayn) from the threefold shape (shalk al-tathlith) [trinitarian form of the cross] and the fourfold temple (haykal al-tarbi`) [fourfold or quadrangular talismanic phenomenon], and do not be as the bearer [master] of the Fish (sahib al-hawt) [Jonah or the Arabic letter N) within the fathomless ocean (bahr `amiq)! And know that God hath indeed forbidden the wayfarers (al-salikin) in this firmament (jaww) within this [celestial] Atmosphere [Air] (al-hawa'), any remembrance (dhikr an) other then the recollection of the Fire [hellfire] according to a [two] circumstance(s) among Our [hellish] modes of being (fi sha'n min shu'un an). He, verily, no God is there except Him, the Mighty, the Wise.

Fill up the segments of the two talismans (buyut al-talismat) with the Names of thy Lord (asma' rabbika), according to thine own purpose. Thou shalt not witness anything therein, save the Water alone (ma' wahda). With the permission of thy Lord, it shall make radiant the letters (al-huruf) in all directions. One should then conjoin [compare] the mutually opposing (al-mutadaddat) [letters] and the word[ing] of the [talismanic] expressions  which are markings [testimonia, `proof testifying'] (kalimat al-dalalat), then differentiate between those which are closely related [comparable, homogneous] (al-mutajanisat) among the letter(s) which are emblematic tokens [signs, marks, indications]  (`alamat).

And there would be manifest from the inmost heart of the letters (fu`ād al‑ḥurūf) in the [celestial] world of majestic glorifications (`ālam al‑subuḥāt) what hath in no wise been understood by the people of theBook (ahl al-kitab) [Jews and Christians, etc] (`ilm min ahl al‑kitāb),  for such is the decree of God respecting the [Islamo-Babi] believers whom God made be enthroned upon the Throne of the divine Intention (`arsh al‑irāda). So be conscious of the decree [Cause] of God if you [aspire to] be [numbered] among the righteous (al-sadiqin).             

[CUL. Ms. Or. F7, 30f].

And if thou [Kirmani(s)] are to be numbered among the people of the tempestuous billows of the waves in the midmost‑heart of a mighty exultant expanse (buḥbuḥat fī `izz al‑ibtihāj), then know then the regulation of the Triadic [Threefold] [Talisman] (ḥukm al‑tathlīth)  through thine own knowledge, and pay no heed to that fact that the Christians had deduced from this shape, the form of the cross (haykal al‑ṣalīb) and  the [heretical] descent of the Divine (lāhūt) into the [mundane] world of the creatures (al‑nāsūt). So praised be God! and Exalted and Glorified be thy Lord above the depiction of those given to [incarnation type]  assimilation [imaginations] (al‑shubbhāt).


Extract from the Khasa'il-i sab'a (The Seven Directives) of the Bab. 

The first directive of the 1261/ [May-June] 1845 Risāla Khaşā'il-i sab`a ('The Treatise of the Seven Directives") of the Bab, reads as follows :

 "[1] The First Command (al-amr al-awwal)  among the seven hallmarks (min al-shi`ār al-sab`a) [of the nascent Bābī religion] is the carrying of the blessed, impenetrable, talismanic circle (ḥaml al-dā’ira al-manī`a al-mubāraka).

The first distinguishing mark of the pious Babi was the wearing of a circular shaped talisman (al-dā’ira) as a repository of the divine verses and Names of God, etc.