KALEIDOSCOPE : Some aspects of Angelology ...


Some Aspects of Angelology, Light, the Divine Throne and Color Mysticism in Bābī and Bahā'ī Sacred Scripture


Stephen Lambden

FEB. 21 2006

 Say: O my God! O my God! I supplicate Thee by the blood of Thy chosen Ones through whom the countenances of the Supreme Concourse (malā' al-a'lā) and the companions of the Crimson Ark (aḥṣāb al-safinat al-ḥamrā') hath been dyed crimson, to make me one that crieth out in Thy Name and is steadfast in Thy Cause.  Thou, verily art the Powerful,  the Mighty,  the All Gracious.  ( Prayer of Bahā'u'llāh)

Praise be to God Who hath caused the Light to circle round the twin Mounts of His Light and made the Light to revolve around the twin Spheres of His Light. He hath caused the Light to beam forth in the Loci of His Light and made the Light to be retained in the Repositories of His Light. [Additionally] He hath caused the Light to scintillate through the impulses of His Light and made the Light to shine resplendent in the Countenances of His Light. Praise God! Praised be God! Worthy of praise is He Who establishes His Own worth, for besides Him there is none other.  (Bahā'u'llāh, Lawḥ-i kull al-ta'ām)

A kaleidoscope (Gk. kalos = beautiful + eidos = form) is an optical 'toy', a device in which beautiful colors and forms can be visually experienced. This brief paper will exhibit kaleidoscopic features in being something of a kashkul ("begging bowl") to mix my metaphors. It will contain miscellaneous notes relating to religious cosmology, angelology, color and "throne" symbolism in select Abrahamic, Bābī, Bahā'ī, and other religious and mystical texts. It will be seen that colours are related to the theology of the celestial Throne. It will be demonstrated here that angels, lights of different kinds and the Throne of God are all motifs closely related to each other. First, a few paragraphs by way of setting the scene.


Though a complex theological subject, angelology can be given a quite simple (though necessarily inadequate) definition. It may be regarded as the study of the doctrine regarding angels (Ar. malak; Per. firishtih). It is the study and mystical significance of the myriad variety of angels, including so-called archangelic beings. Bahā'is, it can be said at the outset, do not believe in the literal existence of angels as distinct, non-human, supernatural orders of celestial beings. They interpret non-literally the ontological reality of such angels and archangels as they are traditionally pictured and understood. In line with its modernistic demythologization perspectives, Bahā’ī sacred writings interpret "angels" as scriptural symbols capable of various "spiritual" significances.

With various symbolic significances "angels" are, however, quite frequently mentioned in the extensive Arabic and Persian Bābi-Bahā'i scriptural writings; those deriving from Mīrzā Ḥusayn 'Alī Bahā'-A'llāh (1817-1892; founder of the Bahā’ī religion) and His slighty younger contemporary, Sayyid 'Alī Muhammad Shirazi, the Bāb (1917-1850; the founder of the short lived, 20 year or so Bābī religion). Angels of various kinds are basically divine agents, messengers, who are very frequently mentioned in Abrahamic (Jewish, Christian and Islamic) and other religious and philosophical texts.

A vast angelological literature has existed from antiquity and continues to proliferate. Today, it is actually quite "trendy" to know about or experience angels. In various Islamic and other sources angels are said to have been created from (celestial) "light" and have diverse functions, including the performance of laudatory cosmological, envoy mediatory and other services. They were believed to "sing" the praises of the divine Creator in ways that have a positive, creative dynamic. From ancient times religious texts have related angels with light[s], colors and the performance of theologically meaningful cosmic functions.


A precise and concise definition of "color" is "a sensation of light induced in the eye by electromagnetic waves of a certain frequency — the color being determined by the frequency" (CED [1988]: 283). Light, color, colored lights are aspects of the same phenomenon. "Light" can exist in various colors. Light is more than simply "the agency by which things are rendered visible" (as a basic definition has it); it being something rather complex.1 In basic terms, as indicated, it is "electromagnetic radiation capable of producing visual sensation" (CED: 826). There are many fascinating aspects of "light" that cannot be gone into here. It will simply be noted that it 'travels' at a phenomenal speed — it can circumambulate the equator in less than l/7th of a second; its speed in a vacuum is apparently 2.997x l010 cm. sec. (MDHS: 238) Bypassing the modern technicalities of quantum electrodynamics and wave particle duality issues, "light," it should be noted, has been given countless definitions throughout the ages. So too has the phenomenon of color and the diversity of colors.  2

Light actual and Light mystical in religious scripture

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth...

 וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהים יְהִי אֹור וַֽיְהִי־אֹֽור

 And God said, “Let there be Light”; and there was light.” (Gen 1:1, 3).

The opening book of the Hebrew Bible, Genesis has it that God created “light” (Heb., awr) on the very first of the six days of creation though he did not create the “sun” until the “fourth day” (see Gen 1:14-19). From antiquity what manner of primordial “light” this was has been a subject of cosmological and theological controversy. This especially since the physical “sun” was not something initially called into being. Light and darkness were differentiated on day two of creation as was the positioning of the רָקִיעַ (Heb.) raqī`a, the light-radiating (loosely) “firmament”, “expanse”, “vault” or “sky”. This phenomenon as can be learned from ancient cosmologies is a solid dome-like “expanse” which arches over the earth

The Hebrew and Aramaic Jewish mystical text named the Sepher ha-Zohar (“The Book of Splendour”) attributed to Rabbi Simeon ben Yohai (fl. 1st-2nd cent CE ., but actually written by the Spanish kabbalist Moses de Leon, c. 1240-1305 ), makes a major shift in its deep qabbalistic exegesis of Gen 1:1ff when the implications of the divine words “And God said, `Let there be Light’” (Gen 1:3 cf.1:14) are reached (see Zohar, Bereshit I.16bf., I.31b-32a; Sperling, trans. 1:68f; Tishby, Zohar III:585f). From this point it is reckoned “we can begin to discover hidden things relating to the creation of the world in detail” (ibid).

The jussive Hebrew phrase of command, יְהִי  “Let there be [Light]” is expressed by 3 Hebrew letters derived from the Hebrew verb `to be’; namely, [1] י yod [2] ה  he and [3] י yod. When voweled and pronounced yehi these three letters signify “Let there be!” (Gen 1:3a). In the Zohar the thrust and position these three letters of yehi (= Y-H-Y) indicates the “union of the Father” (= the first yod = the sephirot ḥokmah = “wisdom”) and the “Mother” (= the he = the sephirot binah = “understanding”)”. The second occurrence of the letter י  yod in yehi (יְהִי  = Y-H-Y), “Let there be!” is believed to indicate a new beginning. Indeed, the Zohar continues to mention that this new beginning is seen when the Hebrew word for “Light” (A-W-R) integrates this (second) Hebrew letter yod within itself. It then becomes the four letter Hebrew word A-W-I-R which means “air”, “atmosphere”, “supernal air” or (loosely) “ether” (cf. Tishby, Zohar 1:314f). This configuration also relates the genesis of “Light” to that hypostatic reality which is foremost, that is “wisdom”, which, in Jewish mysticism, is often regarded as the first of the ten sephirot (see Tishby, ibid fns).

The Zohar further interprets the “light” of Gen 1:3 with “the light of the eye”. It was shown to the first man Adam who could thereby see from “one end of the  world to the other” (Zohar 1.31b). All human beings have seen, have visually experienced things. They are aware that they are wholly dependent upon “light”; primarily through its major terrestrial source, the “Sun”. Everyone knows that light exists and is fundamental to life. Both outward and inward “light” and “life” are closely associated together. Thus, for example, we read in the magnificent prologue to the fourth Gospel, “In him [Jesus, the Divine Logos] was life and the life was the light of men” (Jn 1:3).

The sacred books have it that just as we cannot live without physical light we likewise cannot truly have “faith” and live spiritually without a relationship to the “Sun of Truth”. For Bahā’īs this metaphor is indicative of the Logos-Reality (nafs) of the divine manifestation of God (mazhar-i ilāhī) which, they believe, illuminates everything seen and unseen. Relative to earthly life the “sun” is the orb of light around the life and being of which all earthly things revolve. The light-beaming Sun is the origin of everything, their quintessence and their symbolic goal. The opening of the qur’anic Light Verse (Q. 24:35) reflects the statement made in the First Epistle of John (1 John), that “God is Light” (1Jn 1:5). In splendid metaphorical rhyming prose, the Qur’ān even has it that that there exists “light upon light” (nūr ‘alā nūr). Thus we read in the celebrated and much commented upon “Light verse” (Q. 24:35):

      الله   نُورُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ      

God  is the Light of the heavens and of the earth

 مَثَلُ نُورِهِ كَمِشْكَاةٍ فِيهَا مِصْبَاحٌ

The likeness of His Light is even as [the light streaming from] a niche (mishkat) containing a lamp (al-miṣbāḥ);

 الْمِصْبَاحُ فِي زُجَاجَةٍ

the  lamp (al-miṣbāḥ) is in a glass (zujājat),

 الزُّجَاجَةُ كَأَنَّهَا كَوْكَبٌ دُرِّيٌّ

the glass even as a resplendent Star (kawkāb durriya)

يُوقَدُ مِنْ شَجَرَةٍ مُبَارَكَةٍ زَيْتُونِةٍ

enkindled from the oil (zaytūn), of a blessed Tree (shajarat mubāraka)

 لاَ شَرْقِيَّةٍ وَلاَ غَرْبِيَّةٍ

[an olive] neither of the East nor of the West.

 يَكَادُ زَيْتُهَا يُضِيءُ وَلَوْ لَمْ تَمْسَسْهُ

Its oil (zaytuhā) well nigh radiates forth even though it [Fire] hardly touches it.

نَارٌ نُورٌ عَلَى نُورٍ

It is Light upon Light [and]

يَهْدِي اللَّهُ لِنُورِهِ مَنْ يَشَاءُ

God guideth unto His Light whomsoever He willeth.

 اللَّهُ الأَمْثَالَ لِلنَّاسِ وَاللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ وَيَضْرِبُ

And God [does indeed] strike similitudes (al-amthāl) for the people for God is aware of it all things.

In Arabic, Persian and other languages, many fascinating commentaries have been written upon this verse by scores of Muslim Qur’an commentators. The frst two Shaykhi leaders, Shaykh Aḥmad al-Aḥsā'ī and Sayyid Kāẓim Rashtī the  Bāb, Bahā’-Allāh and `Abd al-Bahā’, often cited it. They variously interpreted this much celebrated “Light verse”. In his early Khuṭba al-Jidda (Sermon at Jeddah) the Bab creatively drew upon the Light verse when he listed and highlighted the magnificence of his early revelations. He also wrote a number of commentaries upon Qur’an 24:35 finding deep spiritual significances in the abjad numerological relationships between the Arabic words for nūr (=”light” abjad, 256) and nār (=”fire” abjad 251). These two words indicative of “heaven” and “hell” differ by a value of five. Light is 256 (=light) and Fire 251 (= fire), abjad 5 being the difference and 5 being abjad numrical value of Bāb (=2+1+2 = B +a+b = 5). This difference then, can indicate the messianic ”Gate” or the person of Sayyid `Alī Muhammad Shirazi, the Bāb. The Bāb is himself the “Gate” to the divine mysteries.

In his Tafsīr āyat al-nūr (Commentary upon the Light Verse) or Tafsīr al-hurūfāt al-muqaṭṭa`ah (Commentary on the Isolated Letters), Bahā'-Allāh also found deep intimations of the advent of the Bab and other lofty matters in the light verse (see bib.). He responded to his questioner, the early Bābī believer and Bahā'ī martyr [Ḥajjī] Āqā Mīrzā [Āqā] Rikab-Sāz Shīrāzī, in the following manner:

Then know thou that that which thou hast asked concerning the "Light Verse" [Qur'ān 24:35] which was sent down upon Muhammad, the Messenger of God aforetime, concerns a verse the comprehension of which the worlds cannot sustain.”

Baha’-Allah continued by saying,

“Even if whatever lieth within God's knowledge became "Pens" and all that has been decreed became oceans of "Ink" and the Fingers of Might wrote [its mysteries] for all time, this would not suffice to exhaust even a single letter of the meaning of this honorable and blessed verse which hath been revealed by the Tongue of Grandeur”

He further added,

“Nevertheless, I shall cause to be sprinkled down upon thee a dewdrop from the fathomless ocean of the sea of knowledge and wisdom in order that thou might be amongst those who have hastened to the plains of knowledge and who have drunk deep of the goblet of Divine Favour from the hand of the Youth seated upon the Throne of Paradise.”

Islamic tradition has it, according to a prophetic hadīth, that God is wrapped in 70,000 (the number varies here) veils of “Light” and “Darkness”. Interestingly, for some Sufi mystics there exists a mysterious “black light”. Just as this unusual motif is found in the Jewish Sepher ha-Zohar, so it, for example, occurs in the writings of the Sufi ‘Ayn al Quḍāt al Hamadānī (d. 526/1131) who viewed the “dark” reality as a phenomenon located behind the heavenly Throne of God (see Bowering, `Ayn al-Qudat Hamadani’ EIr. III:140ff).

Additionally, there are thought to be various colored lights associated with and even constituting the Divine Throne (al-`arsh). One cosmologically interesting Islamic tradition associates the Divine Throne, Light and Angelic beings and reads as follows:

"God exalted be He created the [Divine] Throne (al `arsh) from His Light (nūr) and the [celestial] Seat [Chair] (al kursī) conjoined (al mutaṣiq) to the [this Divine] Throne (al `arsh). Around the [Divine] Throne (al `arsh) are Four Streams [Rivers] (anhar): [1] a River of Light (nūr) which glistens, [2] a River of Fire which flames up [burns], [3] a River of White Ice (al thalj al abyaḍ), and [4] a River of [cosmic] Water (al mā’). Angels do rise up within these rivers giving praise [to God]." (Tafsīr of Ibn `Abī Khātim cited Badā` al zuhūr).

Light concepts became central to a good many systems of Islamic theology, philosophy and mysticism. In this respect it will be pertinent, by way of example, to make mention of the founder of the Ishrāqī (“Oriental”) system of philosophy and gnosis founded by the martyred medieval thinker Shihāb al Dīn Yaḥyā Suhrawardī (d. 587/1191). This founder of the Ishrāqiyyūn (the `Illuminationist school’), sometimes combines elements of Shī`ī theology, Sufi gnosis, Islamic peripatetic philosophy, Zoroastrian thought and the Hellenistic Hermetic tradition. He is especially famous for his philosophy of illumination as expounded in his weighty Ḥikmat al Ishrāq (The Wisdom of Illumination). Light is central and fundamental to his theology, philosophy, cosmology and prophetology.

It is in Suhrawardi’s Ḥikmat al Ishrāq that the probably Jewish-rooted term هورقليا which is often read hūrqalyā or havarqalyā occurs once. In its abberant Arabic form term هورقليا it was associated by Suhrawardī in the Ḥikmat al Ishrāq with the "eighth clime" and with the cosmic, supernatural cites of the shadowy interworlds Jābulqa [ā] and Jābarsa [ṣā] (the Arabic spellings sometimes vary). This word هورقليا appears to be a slightly garbled Arabic transliteration of the aforementioned biblical Hebrew הָרָקִיעַ = ha- rāqîa’ (= “hawaqalya” = “hurqalya” see Gen. 1:4b) , meaning “the firmament”, “vault”, “atmosphere” or “sky” which is clearly identified with “heaven” and separates the earthly and celestial “waters” (see Gen. 1:6ff).

    This Hebrew word הָרָקִיעַ = ha- rāqîa’ is translated “the firmament” in the Authorized (King James, 1611) version of the Bible. In various Rabbinic texts and Jewish mystical traditions the expanse that is the “firmament” (“air”) and “heaven” has a very close association with bright light and with the sun. 1 It is understood to signify a dazzlingly radiant light-beaming cosmic phenomenon also being a kind of luminous "interworld", betwixt earth and heaven. Thus, the Sepher ha Zohar (“Book of Splendour”) (see above), for example, several times identifies the (Heb./ Aram) rāqîa’ (“firmament”) as a reality of stunning brightness (Zohar 1:15aff). This important Jewish mystical text appropriately cites Dan 12:3 in this connection. The Zohar appropriately cites Dan 12:3 in asserting that the מַּשְׂכִּלִים (mashkilīm, the "wise") "shall shine (yāzhiru) like the brightness of the “firmament”, theהָרָקִיע ַ (zohar hā rāqîa’)" (Berachoth, 1.16aff).

    In view of its cosmological and other senses רָקִיעַ would not have been inappropriately adopted in an Ishrāqī cosmology of light. 4  هورقليا, hawaqalya/ hūrqalyā became an important term in Shaykhī mystical cosmology and hermeneutics. It indicated the sphere of the eschatological resurrection "body". It was adopted by Shaykh Aḥmad ibn Zayn al-Dīn al-Ahsā’ī (d. 1826) in its sense of “interrworld” (see JK 1/ii, 103). Hurqalyā does not, however, appear to have been directly adopted in the Bābī Bahā’ī demythologization of latter day "resurrection" motifs. 5

 The Divine Throne and the Angels in Select Shī`ī Islamic Hadīth

Within Shī`ī hadīth collections there are many fascinating statements about the divine Throne (`arsh) or “Seat” , “Chair” the (Arab.) kursī.  It is sometimes far more than just an object for sitting upon:  

“I inquired of Abu 'Abd-Allah [=Ja`far al-Sadiq the 6th Imam] … regarding the verse of God, the Almighty,the Great, “His kursī (“Seat”, “Chair”..) comprises the heavens  and earth” (Q. 2:255). The Imam replied, 'O Fuḍayl, all things, the heavens and the earth, all are within the kursī  (“Seat”, “Chair”)

"I inquired of Abu 'Abd-Allah (=Ja`far al-Sadiq).. regarding the words of  God, the Almighty the Great , “His Chair comprises the heavens and  earth” [= Q. 2:255); 'Do the heavens and the earth include the kursī (“Seat”, “Chair”..)  or does the  kursī (“Seat”, “Chair”..)  include the heavens and the earth?' The Imam replied: 'It is the kursī (“Seat”, “Chair”..)  which comprises the heavens, the earth and the Throne. The  kursī (“Seat”, “Chair”..)  (also) includes every (other) thing.'"

It will be seen below that throne cosmology and throne mysticism is closely related to ideas about colour as mediated by angels. First a note abour colour terminology in Arabic.

Color terminology

         The second edition of the Brill produced Encyclopedia of Islam  (= EI 2 )  contains an excellent article "LAWN”, that is  "color" by  A. Morbiya . It opens by stating that ,  

“One of the distinctive features of the Arabic language is the great richness of its chromatic vocabulary. It is as if the smallest detail, the most minute nuance, was deemed to require a nomenclature sui generis “. The article goes on to undertake “a morphological and semantic analysis of the names of colors” and sums up ways in which “Muslim thinkers, theologians and philosophers, have analysed perception of colors” ending with “the symbolic dimension of colors”. A few further extracts from this entry are worth citing,

      “The morphology of  adjectives of colour is characterised by the fact  that they are, in the majority of cases, formed on the diptote paradigm af`al in the masculine, fa`lā'  in the feminine. The af'al theme is a theme of intensity, which also supplies the elative; this common formulation of the intensive and of the adjective of colour is apparently not coincidental, and it is asserted that, semantically, the latter may have been regarded, at a certain stage in the evolution of the language, as an intensive: that which we translate as "red" may, originally, have signified "more red than..". .

 Note also from the same article these fascinating aspects of Arabic color terminology:

"Of the derived forms of the Arabic verb there are two those of the paradigm if`’alla and  if'ālla which have a particular quality: they express states (colour or deformity); they do not derive from the "bare form"  fa'ala, but are denominative in origin, formed from adjectives of the paradigm af`al expressing the  states cited above; and they denote an intensive aspect which is illustrated by the doubling of the final radical. The Xlth form (if``ālla), less common than the IXth (if`alla) seems to be a doublet of it, still more intensive. Thus we have, besides ibyaḍḍa and iswaḍḍa, meaning respectively "to become white", "to become black", ibyāḍḍa and iswāḍḍa, for "to become pure white", "to become black as ebony".” (Ibid . Morbiya, EI2 Vol. IV: 698-707)


 The Ḥadīth  of the Angelic Throne of Lights.

            The following notes pertinent to aspects of the Islamic/Shaykhī background and Bābī‑ Bahā’ī uses of colour symbolism will help to broaden and deepen the  theme of the relationships between angelology, throne  and colour symbolism – themes and motifs which need not always be so interrelated. In Shaykhi and Bābī-Bahā’ī sources such relationships can often be traced back to a seminal and very influential Islamic tradition recording a dialogue between  Imam `Alī  (d. 40 / 662)  the son‑in‑law and  (for Shī`īs Muslims and Bahā’īs) the immediate successor of the Prophet Muhammad,  and a (Catholic) Christian. Their dialogue concerned the nature of God’s enthronement. This influential tradition is recorded in the Usul al‑Kāfī  of Kulayni vol.11:129‑130 and (among other places) the Biḥār al-anwār (“Oceans of Lights”) of Muhammad Bāqir Majlisī (d. 1699) (see Biḥār 2 58:9-10). The Christian questioned Imām  `Alī  about the nature of God and his possible holding up, His bearing the divine Throne (al-`arsh). In the course of the dialogue the Imām came to express the view that the divine Throne (al‑arsh) is supported or constituted of four celestial lights; 

[1] red light (nūr ḥamrā’); 

[2] green  light (nūr akhḍar);

[3] yellow light  (al-nūr aṣfar) and

[4] white light (nūr bayāḍ) .

 "The Commander of the Faithful [Imam `Alī] said:...

`God, exalted and glorified be He, is the bearer of the Throne (ḥāmil al-`arsh) and the heavens and the earth and what lieth within and between them. Such [is in accordance with] the statement of God [in the Qur'an]: "God holds in position the heavens and the earth lest they should deviate; and should they deviate there would be none to hold them in place aside from Him. He hath ever been the One Clement and Forgiving" (Q. 35:41).


At this [the Catholic] responded and said,

`Then inform me about  His [qur'anic] saying, "and eight of them  [angels] shall bear aloft the Throne of thy Lord (`arsh rabbika) above them" (Q. 69:17). How can this be when you have said [citing the Qur'an] that He beareth the Throne and the heavens and the earth?”


He [Imam `Alī] said:

`The [celestial divine] Throne (al-`arsh) was created by God -- blessed and exalted be He -- from four Lights (anwār): [1] a Crimson [Red] Light (nūr aḥmar)  by means of which redness (al-ḥumra)  was reddened; [2] the Green Light (nūr al-akhḍar) by means of which greeness (al-khuḍra)  was made green; [3] the Yellow  Light (al-nūr al-aṣfar) by means of which yellowness (al-ṣufra)  was yellowed and [4] the [Snow‑] White Light (al-nūr al-abayḍ)  through which whiteness  (al-bayāḍ) is [whitened] realized.  This [Light-Throne phenomenon] is the knowledge  (huwa al-`ilm) which God, the Bearer  (al-ḥamla) [imparts to] such as are empowered to uphold it [the Throne]. And that Light (al-nūr)  [= knowledge] is of the Light of His Grandeur (min nūr `azimat) and of His Power  (qudrat)....“

Wherefore hath all that hath been born aloft (maḥmūl ) been born aloft by God by virtue of His Light, His Grandeur and His Power. Of their own selves (li‑nafsihi) [these realities] have no power to [actualize either ] misfortune [injury, damage] (dhurr an)  or benefit [good] (naf`);  neither do they have the power of [bestowing]  life (ḥayāt) or resurrection [from the dead] (nush¬r an). Hence,  everything is upheld [born aloft, actualized by God].  God, exalted and glorified be He is the One Who supports  these twain [the heavens and the earth, lest they dislodge] and the One Who encompasses them both and everything [besides]. He is the Life [giver] of everything and the Light of all things "So praised and exalted be He above that which they assert." (Q.17:43).

`Alī subsequently informs the Christian that ,

“Those who bear the Throne (al‑`arsh)  are the learned (al‑`ulamā’)  whom God gave the capacity to bear His knowledge. There is naught that emergeth from these four things (the [1] Throne, [2] the Chair, [3] the Heavens and [4]  the Earth ) which God has created in His Kingdom,  save that which God intended for His chosen ones (al‑‑aṣfiyā’)  and which He  showed unto His friend (Abraham) as He says (in the Qur’ān), "So We were showing Abraham the kingdom of the heavens and earth, that he might be of those having sure faith" (Q. 6:75). How can it be possible that the bearer[s] of the Throne (ḥamlat al‑`arsh)  bear God (Himself) through Whose Life is the [very] life of their [own] hearts and through Whose Light they are guided unto the gnosis [knowledge] of Him [God]  (ma`rifatihi)."  (Kulaynī, Kāfī I:129‑130; Majlisī, Biḥār, 58:9-10).                     

The celestial Throne and the Angels

          From early on in the evolution of Islamic (Shī`ī ‑ Zaydī) Qur’ān exegesis biblical materials were assimilated into qur’ānic exegesis. Muqātil b. Sulaymān (d. Basra c.150/767), probably an early Zaydī exegete,  commenting upon a phrase of the celebrated `Throne Verse’ (āyat al‑kursī = Q. 2:255) ‑‑ the  part  which reads,  "His [God’s] Seat [Chair,Throne] (kursī)  encompasses the heavens and the earth and He is not burdened by sustaining both in existence"‑   states as follows, without iṣnād (but from the Isrā’īliyyāt  of  Wahb b. Munabbih taken from the  ahl al‑kitāb = Jews or Christians):

"Four  angels bear the [divine] Throne (kursī); every angel hath four faces (arba`at wujūh). Their feet [legs] (aqdām) are [situated] beneath the [foundational] Rock (al‑saḥra) which lieth beneath the lowest earth (al‑arḍ al‑suflā) extending [for the distance of]  a 500 year journey (masīra[t]  khamsmā’at `ām); and between all [of the 7] earth[s] is a 500 year journey!

(1) [There is] an angel whose face hath the appearence of a man [human form] (`malak wajhihi alā ṣūrat al‑insān).  He had the archetypal form (? wa huwa  sayyid al‑suwar). Of God he requests sustenance for the progeny of Adam (al‑rizq li’l‑ādamiyyīn). 

 (2) [There is] an angel whose face hath the appearence of the exemplar of [master, lord of] cattle [cf. Q. 6] (`malak wajhihi alā ṣūrat sayyid al‑an’`ām) which is the ox (wa huwa al‑thawr). Of God he requests sustenance for the cattle [animals] (al‑bahā ’im).

 (3) [There is] an angel whose face hath the appearence of the exemplar of [master, lord of] the birds (sayyid al‑ṭayr) (`malak wajhihi alā ṣūrat sayyid al‑ṭawr) which is the eagle [vulture]‑‑‑ (wa huwa al‑nasr). Of God he requests sustenance for the birds (al‑ṭayr)...

 (4) [There is] an angel whose face hath the appearence of the exemplar [master, lord of] of beasts of prey (`malak wajhihi alā ṣūrat sayyid al‑sibā`) which is the lion (wa huwa al‑asad). Of God he requests sustenance for the beats of prey (al‑sibā`).

            (Muqātil b. Sulaymān, Tafsīr   I:213  on Q. 2:255b  cf. V:222)

This exegesis is obviously directly or indirectly much influenced by the Ezekiel’s quasi‑cosmological merkabah  (` throne‑chariot’) vision contained in the 1st chapter of the book of the prophet Ezekiel (cf. Chap. 10, etc). Ezekiel 1:10 speaks of the four faces of the  four creatures which he visioned.

"(5b) out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures.  And this was their appearence; they had the likeness of a man. (6) And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings.... (10) As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man [in the front], and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle [at the back]"  (KJV)


This Merkabah ([Throne] Chariot) vision was foundational for various traditions expresive of Jewish Merkabah mysticism and the Christian vision of John of Patmos of the `four living creatures’ about the celestial throne recorded in Rev 4:6b‑9.

Jews, Christians and Muslims have all developed interesting mystical doctrines about the divine Throne. Often they can be seen to have transformed earlier traditions rooted in the Bible and various post-biblical traditions.  In Islamic literatures the celestial throne of God is of central cosmological importance. It was given a variety of symbolic and esoteric significances by the Twelver Imāms and numerous Sufi thinkers, philosophers and mystagogues. In his Mirāt al‑anwār  (`Mirror of Lights’ the Shī`īte theologian and qur’ān exegete Abū’l‑Ḥasan al‑`Āmilī al‑Iṣfahānī  (d. Najaf 1138/1726) records that al‑`arsh   (among other things) is borne by the the Prophet and the Imāms etc who are the bearers [custodians] of the knowledge of God the locus of which is the `arsh ("Throne")  (`Āmilī Iṣfahānī, Mirat,  I:236‑7.).       

Commentary of Shaykh Aḥmad al‑Aḥsā’ī (d. 1826).

             A portion of the above cited tradition was cited and commented upon in some detail by Shaykh Aḥmad al-Aḥsā'ī in one of his epistles written in reply to to the ‘The Brethren from Isfahan’. 7 Interpreting the four "Lights" (al-anwār) (sing. nūr) mentioned by Imām `Alī,   Shaykh Aḥmad has it that "the confluence of these four Lights constitutes the "Throne" (al-`arsh)  in its totality." He states that the "white Light"  (al-nūr al-abyāḍ) is  the most elevated [transcendent] (al-a`lā)  [reality] situated at the right-hand side of the Throne [of God] (yamīn al-`arsh)  placing the other three lights‑‑ yellow Light (al-nūr al-aṣfar); green Light  (al-nūr al-akhḍar)  and red‑crimson Light (al-nūr al-aḥmar) ‑‑  in a supportive tetradic configuration. These four Lights are interptreted as the four laudatory exclamations;

(1) subḥān Allāh  ("Glorified be God") [= "White" [Light-Pillar]  al-abyāḍ])

(2) al-ḥamdu lilāh ("Praised be God") [=the Yellow [Light-Pillar] (al-aṣfar);

(3) lā ilāha ilā Allāh ("There is none other god but God") [=  the Green [Light-Pillar] (al-akhḍar)] and

(4) Allāh al-akbar ("God is Greatest") [= the crimson [Light-Pillar] (al-aḥmar).

       As four PiIlars (al-arkān)  they consitiute the totality of established existence  (jamī` al-wujūd al-muqayyad)  whose beginnning is the First Intellect (al-`aql al-awwal)  and whose end is the [dusty] earth  (al-thurā).  God established an [Arch‑] Angel (malak) "for every Pillar so as to bear it"; namely,

[3] Seraphiel (?) (Isrā'fīl ["Angel of last Trump"]) and [White]

[2] Michael [Mīkā'īl],    [Yellow]

[4] Azrael (`Azrā'īl [ (Principal) Angel of Death").  [Green]

[1] Gabriel [Jibrīl],  [Red]


       The Shaykh reckoned that "The meaning of [`Alī's saying] "He [God] bore it aloft" is that His gravitas was focused into this (these) [Arch-] Angel"(s)  every [Arch-] Angel having subsiduary hosts of angels (junūd min malā'ika) "the number of which none can estimate except God"  (Ibid).  For Shaykh Aḥmad God indirectly bore the "Throne" through the four  [Arch-] Angels and their celestial hosts.  Shaykh Ahmad further expounded these matters as follows:

"Know thou that the Throne (al‑`arsh) is indicative and suggestive of an intricate support (ma`ān an mukhtlifa) ...  and the confluence of these four lights constituteth the Throne (al‑`arsh) in its totality. The [Snow‑] White Light  (al‑nūr al‑abyāḍ) is  the most elevated [transcendent] (al‑a`lā)  [reality] and is at the right‑hand side of the Throne (yamīn al‑`arsh); that is to say, its right‑hand Pillar [Support] (rukn). The Yellow Light (al‑nūr al‑aṣfar) lieth beneath it while the Green Light  (al‑nūr al‑akhḍar) is at the  left‑hand side of the Throne (yasār al‑`arsh) and is its left‑hand Pillar [Support] (rukn). The Crimson Light (al‑nūr al‑aḥmar)  lieth beneath it such that the Yellow Light  (al‑nūr al‑aṣfar) is the right‑hand Pillar [Support] (rukn) beneath the White (al‑abyāḍ). The Crimson Light (al‑nūr al‑aḥmar) is the left‑hand Pillar [Support] (rukn) beneath the Green (al‑abyāḍ).

            These four Lights are subḥān Allāh ("Glorified be God") which is the "White" [Light‑Pillar] (al‑abyāḍ). al‑ḥamdu lilāh ("Praised be God") is the Yellow [Light‑Pillar] (al‑aṣfar)  while  lā ilāha ilā Allāh ("There is none other god but God") is the Green [Light‑Pillar] (al‑akhḍar)  and Allāh al‑akbar ("God is Greatest") is the crimson [Light‑Pillar] (al‑aḥmar).

            These Four PiIlars (al‑arkān) consitiute the totality of established existence  (jamī` al‑wujúd al‑muqayyad) whose  beginnning is the First Intellect (al‑`aql al‑awwal) and whose end is the [dusty] earth  (al‑thurā). He [God] ‑‑ glorified be He ‑‑ set up an [arch‑] Angel (malak)  for every Pillar so as to bear it. They are [1] Gabriel [Jibrīl], [2] Michael [Mīká'īl], [3] Isrá'fīl and [4] `Azrá'īl. The meaning of [`Alī's saying] "He [God] bore it aloft"  is that His gravitas was focused into this [Arch‑] Angel . And for every [Arch‑] Angel there are [subsiduary] hosts of angels (junūd min malā'ika) the number of which none can estimate except God. .

       The Four varieties of coloured Lights are seperately commented upon by Shaykh Aḥmad in considerable detail. It must suffice here to focus on a portion of his alchemically informed comment regarding the red or Crimson Light

"And [now regarding] the Crimson [red] Light (al‑nūr al‑aḥmar). It is an Angel (malak)  [derived] from the [snow‑] white Light  (al‑nūr al‑abyaḍ)  and  the Yellow Light  (al‑nūr al‑aṣfar).  They [alchemists] say that redness (al‑ḥumra) is born of these two [coloured lights] and they deduce that through redness cinnabar [sulphide of mercury] (bi‑ḥumra al‑ zunjufr)  [results] for this is of mercury (huwa min al‑zaybaq) and yellow sulphur (al‑kibrīt al‑aṣfar)....”


The Bāb (1819‑1850) and the `Hadīth of the Throne of Lights’

           The Bāb was very much influenced by the aformenditioned `The ḥadīth of the Throne of Lights’ originally uttered by Imam `Ali in dialogue with a Christian and mystically interpreted by the first two major figures of al-Shaykhiyya (= Shaykhism). Even before he declared his mission on May 22nd 1844 before Mullā Husayn, it is the case that, towards the very beginning of the first supplicatory  introduction to his earliest extant, pre‑delaration (early 1844)

 Tafsir  Surat al‑Baqara  ("Commentary on the Sura of the Cow Q. II).

Here the Bāb states, 

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

            Praised be to God Who manifested himself (tajalla) unto the spheres of existent Being (al‑mumkināt) through the ornament of the differentiated [disengaged] Point (bi‑ṭaraz al‑nuqṭat al‑mumfaṣilat) [sprung] out of the abyss of origination (lujjat al‑ibdā’) ‑‑ unto, in and towards Existent Being...

.... Through it He created the duality [pairing; marraige] (zawjiyya) and He  created "I‑ness" [individuality] (al‑aniyya), And the Divine Will (al‑mashiyya) was mentioned through the Dhikr of the Eternal [cosmic] alphabet, (bi‑dhikr al‑handasah al‑azaliyya) which is other than God. And it, it is indeed (fa‑hiya hiya) the Primordial Eternity (al‑azaliyya al‑awwaliyya)  without termination of eternality. Nay rather! It, it is  [indeed] the Dawning Place of the Sun of the Divine Oneness (shams al‑ahadiyya) glistening forth from the Eternal Perpetuity (al‑ṣamadāniyya al‑bāqiyya) through the Eternity of the Divine Ipseity (bi‑baqā’ al‑huwiyya) [which is]  of the Empyreal domain (al‑jabarūtiyya).

            So Oh! Truly wondrous [fairest] Ornament (fa‑ya na`ma  al‑ṭarāz)  of  the Snow‑white "A" (alif al‑bayḍā’)  coming into being subsequent to the [primordial phenomenon of the] differentiated  Point [itself sprung] out of  the Creative  Reality.

            Thus, it, it is indeed of the Ornament of Bahā’ ("Glory‑Beauty") (al‑ṭarāz al‑bahā’)  in the Pillar of Laudation (rukn al‑thanā’) !

            Then indeed it, it is assuredly the Yellow Ornament (al‑ṭarāz al‑safrā’) in the Snow‑White Pillar (rukn al‑baydā’) ! [YELLOW+WHITE]

            Wherefore indeed it, it is the Ornament of Origination (al‑ṭarāz al‑badā’) in the Green Pillar (rukn al‑khuḍrā’) !

            Then [also] it is assuredly the Ornament of Origination (al‑ṭarāz al‑badā’)  in the Soul of the Crimson Pillar ( fī nafs al‑ḥamrā’ )! [GREEN+RED]

            Shouldst thou say [RED]  Crimson (al‑ḥamrā’)  then would it be ornamented [coloured as] Yellow  through the [effect of the] Snow‑White (al‑safrā’ bi’l‑bayḍā’). And shouldst  thou say Green (al‑khuḍr ā’) it would [indeed]  be ornamented [coloured as]  Snow‑White (al‑bayḍā’) through the [effect of] the  Crimson (bi’l‑ḥamrā’)

So Oh! Blessed be this [Reality] for it, it is

[1] [the power] of eternal reddenning (muḥammirat azaliyya); [RED=CRIMSON]

[2] the [power] of perpetual whitening (mubayyiḍat ṣamadiyya), [ SNOW‑WHITE]

[3] [the] originative greenness (mukhaḍḍirat a[i]badiyya); [GREEN]

[4] and  the [power] of heavenly yellowing (muṣaffirat malakūtiyya).[YELLOW]

        Again, It, it is assuredly the reiteration of the Point in the outstretched [letter] "A" through the pre‑existent creative Power. And "no God is there except Him.... "   (INBMC 69/II:2‑3).

 Tafsir (al‑ḥurūf al‑) Basmalah

          Towards the beginning of his  Tafsir Basmalah (c. 1845‑6?)  and also at the end of this detailed commentary on "In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate"  the influence of the symbolism of the four lights is evident as it is in the course of the Bāb’s detailed `qabbalistic’, letter by letter  commentary’. Some 22 pages into this work in one of the mss. (6014C Pt. II) the Bāb mentions that God is operative according to a tetradic configuration as,

 "He Who [1]  created thee;

[2] then gave thee sustenance;

[3] then caused thee to expire then

[4] brought thee back to life"  (319)

The Bāb then continues,

"Creation (al‑khalq) deriveth from the denizens of the snow‑white dome (ahl qubbat al‑bayḍā’); providence [sustenance] (al‑rizq) deriveth from the denizens of the yellow dome (ahl qubbat al‑bayḍā’); life (la‑hayāt) deriveth from the denizens of the green dome (ahl qubbat al‑khaḍrā’) while expiration [death] (al‑mamāt) cometh from the denizens of the crimson dome (ahl qubbat al‑ḥamra)."    

In the concluding prayer towards the very end of his  Tafsir Basmalah,  the Bāb says (371); 

 "Thus She [It] is She [It] (fa‑hiya hiya)  [which is] [1] Crimson (ḥamrā’), [2] Yellow (ṣafrā’), [3] Green (khaḍrā’) and [4] Snow‑white (baydā’). They [the Angelic Lights] [ do indeed] cry out above their Throne (`arsh) in praise of their Creator (al‑badā’) through their vocalization of `There is no God except Him (lā ilāha ilā huwa)! So Praised be God who made the ornament of His authorization the  splendour‑beauty of Lordship (bahā’ al‑rabbāniyya).


The gravity of the Deity is here lauded by a tetradic color configuration which is an expression of angelic or archangelic laudation of the oneness of God

Tafsīr sūrat al‑aṣr  ("Commentary on the Sūrah of the Era [Declining Day]")

           In his detailed sometimes letter by letter (73 letters) commentary upon the 103rd chapter of the Qur’ān,  the Tafsīr sūrat al‑aṣr ("Commentary on the Sūrah of the the Era [Declining Day] cf. Lawson, 1997), the Bāb quite definitely, a number of times exhibits the influence of light mysticism. The letter "N" (nūn)  occurs and is interpreted five  times interpreted as nūr  (="light") (see below, commentary on letters 8+12+15+29+32).

  Commentary on the letter Nūn, letter no. 8

 Here the "N" is the "Light of God" (nūr Allāh)  "on the level of the essences of the theophanies of the realities of the divine realm" (fī maqām jawhariyyāt al‑tajilliyyāt al‑lāhūtiyya)".  The Bāb this continues an the levels of  [2] Jabarūt., [3] Malakūt and  [4]  Nasūt. He also cites Qur’ān cites 24:35, the “Light Verse”.

Commentary on the letter Nūn, letter no. 12 ( abjad value =  50)

             Interpreting its second occurrence as the 12th letter "N" understood to be indicative of "Light" Nūr, the Bāb gives the letter four light oriented senses.

"The twelfth letter [of the Sura 103] is the letter "N" (al‑ nun)  which [signifies]:

[1] the Pristine Light (al‑nūr al‑baḥt) in the Dawning‑Place of the Theophany of the [sacred] Presence  of the Divine Essence (ṭal`at zuhūr ḥadrat al‑dhāt);   

[2] Additionally it is  the Designated Light (al-nur  al‑muta'ayyin) [operating within] the world of [the Divine] Names and Attributes (`ālam al‑ṣifāt wa’l‑asmā’). 

[3] Additionally  it is  the Light which pertains to (al-nūr al-muta'allaq)  the third Pillar of the [Divine] Throne (al‑rukn al‑thalith min al‑`arsh) the colour (lawn) of which God made [to be]  Yellow (al‑aṣfar)  for it lieth before [opposite]  the First Pillar  (fī tilqā’ al‑rukn al‑awwal) the colour of which is that of the snow‑white pillar (lawn al‑abyaḍ). 

[4] Then  also it is  the "Light" which God created in the "Lamp" (al‑miṣbāḥ)  (Cf. Q. 24:35) which radiates the manifestation of the colors of the [Divine] Throne (zuhūr alwān al‑`arsh)  from the Yellow coloured (Light) (min lawn al‑ṣufrah) [which] followeth  the Snow‑White (Light) (ba`ad al‑bayāḍ)   as well as [lit. then] the Green [Light] (al‑akhḍā’) which preceedeth the Crimson [Red Light] (qabl al‑aḥmar)." (INBMC 69:44‑45).


Commenting upon the 15th letter "N" (al‑nūn) in Sūrah 103 the Bāb says:

"The fifteenth letter [of the Sura 103] is the letter "N" (al‑ nūn) [signifieth]

[1] the Snow‑White Light (al‑nūr al‑abyaḍ) by virtue of which is derived the snow‑whiteness (abayyaḍ) of everything Snow‑White (kull al‑bayāḍ) in existence (fi’l‑imkān).

[2] Then again it signifies  the Yellow Light (al‑nūr al‑aṣfar) by virtue of which derives the yellowness (aṣaffarat)  of everything that is Yellow in (al‑ṣufra) in the [sphere of] Essenial Reality (fi’l‑a`yān).

[3] Then  also  it signifies]  the Green Light (al‑nūr al‑akhḍar) by virtue of which derives the greenness (minhu aṣaffarat)  of everything that lieth in the heavens and upon the earth according to whatsoever the All‑Merciful intended and sent down in the Qur’ān.

[4] It furthermore signifies the Crimson [Red] Light (al‑nūr al‑aḥmar) by virtue of which derives the reddness (minhu aḥmarrat )  of everything that is Crimson  (al‑ḥamra) from the  depth [mystery] [the sphere of] Existence (fi’l‑imkā n) in the [domain of]   essenial Reality (fi’l‑a`yān).

In commenting upon the 26th letter lām   the Bāb states that this letter L" (lām) signifies the "the near ones" as assembled groups, apparently understood as "inmates of celestial spheres" then the "L" signifiesa company (lamam) whom God made to be situated beneath

“the shadow of the Yellow Pillar (al‑rukn al‑aṣfar) which is of the [Divine] Throne (min al‑`arsh). They are a people (qawm)  in whom is manifest the fruit of the [Divine] "I‑ness" (Identity) (thamara al‑aniyya) for  the most part among the wayfarers (al‑sālikīn) on the level of the First Pillar (al‑rukn al‑awwal). And thus is manifest its colour (lawn) Yellow (al‑ṣafra).”

       Then the Bāb adds that the "L" signifies a company (lamam) whom God made to be situated neath the shadow of the Green Light  (al‑nūr al‑akhḍar) which is of the third Pillar (al‑rukn al‑thālith) of the  [Divine] Throne (min al‑`arsh). The same letter, furthermore, signifies a company (lamam) whom God made to be situated beneath the “shadow of the Crimson [Red] Light  (al‑nūr al‑ḥamrā’) which is of the fourth Pillar (al‑rukn al‑rab`ah) of the  [Divine] Throne (min al‑`arsh).” And on that level , the Bāb explains,  is evident the creative effects of the Light of the first Pillar (mubādī nūr rukn al‑awwal)  in their [its]  inmost Reality (bi‑ḥaqīqat) then [also] the Pillar of the second Light through its manifestation [His theophany]; then [also] the Pillar of the third Light through its grades [His [diverse] modes]” 

 In his commentary on the 32nd  letter nūn   the Bāb continues,

    "The thirty second letter [ of the Sura 103] is the letter "N" (al‑ nūn) which signifies

[1]... The Light of Origination  (al‑nūr al‑ibdā’a ) on the level of glorification (fi rutbah al‑tasbīḥ)

[2] Then the Light of Inventiveness  (al‑nūr al‑ikhtirah) on the level of praise (fi rutbah al‑tamḥīd);

[3] Then [also] the Light of Everything (al‑nūr al‑ashyā’ ) on the level of laudation (fi rutbah al‑tahlīl);

[4] Then [also] the  Light of Beauty‑Glory (al‑nūr al‑bahā’) on the level of praise (fi rutbah al‑takbīr)

The lights and the various forms of angelic laudation are here set forth.

Commentary on the letter nūn , letter no. 32

"The thirty second letter [ of the Sura 103] is the letter "N" (al‑ nun) [signifieth]

[1] the Light of God (al‑nūr Allāh) in the Primordial "Niche" (al‑mishkat al‑awwal)

Here we again see the influence of the qur;ānic Light verse (Q. 24:35)

Commentary on the letter nūn , letter no. 55

    "The fifty fifth letter [of  Sura 103] is the letter "A" (al‑ alif)  which signifies,

[1] the hidden [letter]  "A" (al‑alif al‑ghaybiyya) by virtue of which is derived the [snow‑] whiteness (minhu abayyaḍ) of everything snow‑White (kull al‑bayāḍ) in the realm of existence (fi’l‑imkān).

In the Commentary on the letter "B" (= letter no. 56) color symbolism is again in evidence:

"The fifty sixth letter [ of the Sura 103] is the letter "B" (al‑ alif) [it signifies]

[1] the Calamity of God (al‑balā’ Allāh)  for the people of the Crimson Sandhill (kathīb al‑aḥmar)...”

The inmates or people of the kathīb al-ahmar, the red sandhill (= "crimson hill") are those who seek the divine vision in eschatological times. The calamity may be their inability to vision God .

            It is obvious, even from the above highly selected set of examples that from the very outset of his mission (1844-1850) the Bāb was revealing verses that echoed the tradition of the throne and its four lights as uttered by `Ali and interpreted by Shaykh Ahmad al-Ahsā’ī. As will now be evident Bahā'-Allāh as well as Abd al-Bahā’ were also influenced by this tradition of throne and colour mysticism. Only a few examples drawn from the Lawh-i kull al-ta`ām (The Tablet of all Food) must suffice  to illustrate this theme. The citations must largely speak for themselves.

The Influence on Bāhā’-Allāh of the hadīth of the Throne of Lights.

It should be noted that in the Lawh-i kull al-ta`ām (The Tablet of all Food) of Baha'-Allah the aforementioned colors are associated with the traditional Islamic hierarchy of "worlds":



the Snow-White Light

“It (Q. 3:87) signifieth the realm of the Paradise of Endless Duration, the Throne of the Divine Realm (Lāhūt), the Snow-White Light. It is the realm of "He is He Himself" and there is none other save Him. This Paradise is allotted unto those servants who are established upon the Seat of Glory, who quaff liquid camphor nigh unto the All-Beauteous One, and who recite the verses of Light in the Heaven of Manifest Justice. Thereby are they enraptured and from that "food" derive comfort."



the Yellow [Golden]  Land...

 "It signifieth the Paradise of the Divine Unicity, the Golden [Yellow] Land, the Depths of realm of the Divine Omnipotence (Jabarūt). [26] It is the realm of "Thou art He [God] and He [God] is Thou" allotted unto those servants who do not cried out except with the permission of God; who act according to His command and ever restrain themselves in accordance with His wisdom -- just as God hath described them [in the Qur'an] for they are the honoured servants of whom it is written: "They speak not till He hath spoken; and they do His bidding" (Q. 21:27).



 the Green [Verdent] Land...

 “It signifieth the Paradise of Justice, the Verdent [Green] Land, the Fathomless Deep of  Kingdom of God (Malakūt) allotted to those servants whom "neither traffic nor merchandise beguile from the remembrance of God" (Qur'an 24:27) since they are the companions of the Light. They enter therein with the permission of God and find rest upon the carpet of the Almighty."



 the Crimson Land, the Golden Secret, the Snow-White Mystery.

 "It signifieth the realm of the Paradise of the Divine Bounty, the Crimson Land, the Golden Secret, the Snow-White Mystery and the Point of the human realm (Nasut). In it are the proofs of the Remembrance greatest, if you are of those who are informed." 





[1] Einstein’s thought was early set in motion by his deep questions about "light". He wondered, for example, what it would be like to ride on the `waves’ of light.

[2] That thinkers, philosophers and scientists have grappled with the definition and explanation of "colour” is, for example, indicated in the Haft Vādī  or Seven Valleys of Bahā’‑Allāh. In the valley of tawḥīd (the [divine] unity)  we at one point read:  "In like manner, colors become visible in every object according to the nature of that object.  For instance, in a yellow globe, the rays shine yellow; in a white the rays are white; and in a red, the red rays are manifest.  Then these variations are from the object, not from the shining light.  And if a place be shut away from the light, as by walls or a roof, it will be entirely bereft of the splendor of the light, nor will the sun shine thereon"  (Seven Valleys and Four Valleys, 18f)

[3] The Zohar has many other things to say about the qabbalistic secrets of the word  “Light” and also of the gensis of colours, even mentioning a “black light” (refer Zohar index).  

[4]  Bab.Tal. Ḥagiga 12b; Bershith 17a, Midrash Rabbah, Gen. VI:6ff   (cf. Samuelson, 1994[7]:118f.). The Bab.Talmudr has it that the following words were uttered by the Rabbis on parting from one of their learned associates, "may your eyes be enlightened by the light of the Torah and your face shine like the brightness of the firmament (הָרָקִיעַ)  (B.Tal. Berachoth 17a).

[5] Contrary to the erroneous critiques of some Islamic anti‑Shaykhi writers hūrqalyā  is an  Ishrāqī cosmological term and was not  an invention of Shaykh Aḥmad.al-Ahsa’I who thought it was a Syriac term used by Sabaeans such as inhabit regions near Basra in Iraq.  

[6] Suhrawarī’s philosophy of illumination was also influential upon the Jewish convert to Islam Ibn Kammūna (d.c.1285) who cites the Bible frequently in his Tanqīḥ al‑abḥāthli’l‑milāl al‑thalāth (Perlman, 1971).

[7] Risāla fī jawāb ba`ḍi al-ikhwān min Iṣfahān  (Epistle in Reply to some of the Brethren from Isfahan) contained in Majmú`at al-Rasā'il  30: 193-215.



 al-Aḥsā’ī Shaykh Aḥmad, 

  • Risāla fī jawāb ba`ḍi al-ikhwān min Iṣfahān  (Epistle in Reply to some of the Brethren from Isfahan),  contained in Majmū`at al-Rasā'il.. vol. 30 (Kirmān: Matba`at al-Sa`āda, nd), 193-215.

The Bāb.

  • Tafsir Basmala = Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim. TBA ms. 6014C. fol. 301-370.

  • Tafsir  Surat al‑Baqara  ("Commentary on the Sura of the Cow Q. II), INBMC 69:1ff+157-294+377-410.


  • Lawh-i kull al-ta`ām (Tablet of All Food), full translation Stephen Lambden from published and unpublished sources mentioned at URL: 

Bowering, G.

  • 'AYN-AL-QUDĀT HAMADĀNĪ, ABU'L MA`ĀLĪ 'ABDALLĀH  B. ABĪ BAKR MUḤAMMAD  MAYĀNIJĪ (492/lO98-526/ 1131) in Encyclopedia Iranica. III:140f  

CED = Chambers English Dictionary. Cambridge: Chambers, 1988.

Kulayni, Abū Ja`far al-

  • al-Usul min al-kāfī. 2 vols.  Ed.  A.A. Ghafārī Beirut: Dār al-Adwā, 1404/1985.

Majlisi, Muhammad Bāqir,

  • Bihar = Bihar al-anwār 2nd edition (110 vols.). Beirut: Dār al-ihya al-Turāth al-`Arabī. 1376-94 =1956-74 and 1403/1982.

MDHS  =  Bynum, W. F. et al (eds.), MacMillan Dictionary of the History of Science. Macmillan, 1988.  

Morbiya, A .,

  • art. `Lawn’ [Colour] in Enc. Is 2nd ed. Vol. V  

Samuelson, Norbert, M.

  • Judaism and the Doctrine of Creation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 199

Tishby, Isaiah.

  • Zohar  = The Wisdom of the Zohar, An Anthology of Texts, Vol. III. Oxford: [Littmann Library]: Oxford University Press,1989.

  • Zohar = The Zohar., trans. Sperling, H., & Simon, M.,  5 vols.  London, Jeruslamem, New York: Soncino Press, Rep. 1972.