QA Surah Titles Part II

 

Part II :

Some comments on specific Sūrah titles in the Qayyūm al-asmā' and within the contexts of their Bābi and Islamic background.

Stephen Lambden (UC-Merced)

 It is the case that a thorough analysis of the Sūra titles of the QA necessitates a study of all the one hundred and eleven Sūrahs of the Qayyūm al-asmā' (=QA) and the possible use of the specific title in the specific surahs so entitled. This should ideally be supplemented by a study of the use of this name in the post 1260-1844 context. Post QA uses of Surah title vocabulary will often serve to clarify meanings. Such detailed study is more than can be set down below. It must suffice here to provide little but a few preliminary notes in this respect.  

(1) Sūrat al-Mulk (The Sura of the Dominion"), QA1.

قل اللهم مالك الملك تؤتي الملك من تشاء وتنزع الملك ممن تشاء

"Say: O my God! Ruler of the Kingdom [Possessor of Sovereignty] (mālik al-mulk)! Thou bestowest al-mulk (sovereignty) upon whomsoever Thou willeth and Thou removeth al-mulk (sovereignty) from whomsoever Thou desireth" (Q. 3:26a).

 و انّ الملك للّه يؤتی الملك من يشإ و ينزع الملك عمّن يشإ و هو اللّه كان علی كلّ شیء قديراً

"Dominion belongs unto God (al-mulk li-llāhi). He gives dominion (al-mulk) unto whomsoever He wills and He divests dominion (al-mulk) from whomsoever He wills. And He, God, is powerful over all things (cf. Q. 3:26a)." (QA 3:20)

        The Sūrat al-mulk  (= QA1) is pictured in many Bahā'ī sources  dependent on Muhammad Nabil-i Zarandī's history (as redacted by Shoghi Effendi in  the 1932 and later editions as `The Dawn-Breakers') to have been revealed by the Bāb on the evening of his encounter with the young Shaykhī seeker Mullā Ḥusayn Bushrū'ī (d.1265/1849) in his house in Shiraz  on the evening of 5th Jumādi al-Ūlā [Awwal] 1260 or the evening of May 22nd 1844 (Dawn-Breakers, 61ff).

        In neo-qur'ānic fashion QA1 opens with the standard Islamic basmalah  (= Bismillah al-raḥman al-raḥim, "In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate") though without any prefixed isolated letter(s) such as appear before 28 sūrahs of the 114 Sūrahs of the Q and most of the other 111 Sūrahs of the QA (except, QA 1, 52, 64, 67, 74). No single qur`ānic verse from Sūrah 12 prefixes QA1 as is the case before all of the other sūrahs of the QA which usually late in the sura comment upon a specific verse of the Surat Yusuf (Q. 12) often in succinct "rewritten" expository or "re-revealed" (waḥy) fashion.

         As QA1 has no isolated letters it can be considered a kind of prolegomenon to the QA proper perhaps like the first Qur'anic sura the Sūrat al-Fāṭiha (Q. 1), which is similarly without prefixed isolated letters). Every subsequent Sūrah of the QA from QA2 until QA111 encompasses successive, verse by verse, comment upon the whole of the Sūrah of Joseph (= Q. 12:1-111). Hence the QA is entitled the Tafsir or Sharh Surat Yūsuf and offers a complex non-literal messianic exegesis-eisegesis of Q. 12 in the light of the imminent  eschaton, end of the age. It is thus appropriate that the first sura title of the QA is surat al-mulk since the world mulk has to do with current world order and means 'dominion',  `sovereignty', `kingdom' or the like. From the Arabic root m-l-k a large number of expressions are derived having to do with kingship, kingdom, rule and dominion, including mālik (= king, master), malik (king, King [= God];  pl. mulūk),  malakūt (kingdom) cf.  Malak (angel[s]), pl. Mala'ika (angels), etc.

          The first sūrah in all of the the ms.  of the QA that I have seen is entitled Surat al-mulk. This title evidently has to do with mulk as the `rule', `dominion', `sovereignty' or `kingdom of God' in the light of the onset of a new age, that of messianic and eschatological fulfillment.  The Bab opens his important initial revelation with a note indicative of the transference of divine sovereignty, mediated by the Hidden Imam and himself as representative of God. The kingdoms of this world are about to return to God since his representatives (the Hidden Imam and the Bab) are communicating with humankind and its leaders calling them to hear the new message of God.  In verse  22  of QA1 it is clearly announced that mulk, the kingdom belongs to God and his earthly and celestial representatives, the Bab and the Hidden Imam.  On behalf of God, they claim sovereignty of the world.  Earthly dominion no longer belongs to worldly kings and potentates.

In fact the word ملك mulk occurs no less than a dozen times in QA1. It is appropriate that the Bab commences his massive commentary with a chapter announcing the imminent realization of the Kingdom of God on earth for QA1 is not just an exercise in tafsir (Qur'an commentary) but the communication of a new repository of divine revelation reinterpreting in eschatological terms the Islamic Qur'an. 

    The first occurrence of ملك mulk is half-way through QA1, in verse 22. Here the worldly, kingly rulers of this world, are told to relinquish their claim to sovereignty in the light of  a new expression of eschatological ḥaqq, truth or "reality" :

يا معشر الملوك و ابناء  الملوك

 انصرفوا عن ملك اللّه جميعكم بالحقّ علی الحقّ جميلاً

 "O concourse of kings and  the sons of kings! (yā  ma`shar al-mulūk wa abnā' al-mulūk). Lay aside, one and all  [in truth, as befits the Truth] your dominion which belongeth unto God (mulk Allāh)." (SWB: 41)

It is two verses later, at QA 1: 26, that the Bab addresses  Muhammad Shah (r.1834-1848) as the malik al-muslimūn, (loosely translated) “O king of Islam!” (BWC)   (lit. "king of the Muslims", malik al-muslimūn) who has been invested with worldly mulk (sovereignty). He bids him aid the supreme,  messianic Dhikr (Remembrance) on the yawm al-qiyāma (“Day of Resurrection”) in the task of the sakhira (`making subservient' or `subduing';  taskhīr = subjugation, subjection) of  the bilād (countries, lands, regions). According to the next verse QA 1:27 his own mulk should not, however, deceive him for  he is a  mere mortal. And QA:1:28 has it that, according to the umm al-kitāb (the Archetypal or Mother Book)  mulk is now invested with the messianic Dhikr. Then QA 1:29 reads,

 و انصروا اللّه بانفسكم و اسيافكم فی ظلّ هذا الذّكر الاكبر

 لهذا الدّين الخالص بالحقّ علی الحقّ قويّا   

“And [O kings!] give aid towards victory before God through thy very own selves and thy swords (bi-anfusikum wa asyāfikum) in the shade of the Most Great Remembrance (fi zill hadha al-dhikr al-akbar)  for the sake of this pure Religion (al-dīn al-khāliṣ)  which is, in very truth, mighty.

 At QA 1: 30 attention is given to the role of  Ḥajjī Mīrzā Āqāsī  (c.1783-1848) addressed as   "O Minister of the Shah! [King] (wazīr al-malik)”  

Fear thou God,  besides Whom there is none other God but Him, the Sovereign Truth, the Just, and lay aside thy dominion (al-mulk),  for We, by the leave of God, the All-Wise, inherit the earth and all who are upon it  (cf. Q.19:41), and He shall rightfully be a witness unto thee and unto the Shāh [King] (al-malik )." (SWB:42-3)

"Were ye to obey the Remembrance of God (al-dhikr) with absolute sincerity, We guarantee, by the leave of God, that on the Day of Resurrection,  a vast dominion (al-mulk an `aẓīm an)  shall be yours in His eternal Paradise (jannat al-`adn,  Garden of Eden)."  

QA 1:32  reminds world rulers that "Vain indeed is your dominion mulk [O Kings!] while QA 1:33  reads :

“With Us is an elevated dominion (al-mulk an  rafī` an ) in the Garden of Eternity (jannat al-khuld)  which We bestow upon such as We desire among Our servants  such, that is, as are established in this Gate (al-bāb) by God and in very truth, an upholder of His verses”

Many other references to mulk are to be found in  the QA and other writings of the Bab. One example from QA 3 (the Sūrat al-Īmān) verse 20 reads:

و انّ الملك للّه يؤتی الملك من يشإ و ينزع الملك عمّن يشإ و هو اللّه كان علی كلّ شیء قديراً

Dominion belongs unto God (al-mulk li'l-llah). He gives dominion (al-mulk) unto whomsoever He wills and He divests dominion ( al-mulk) from whomsoever He wills. And He, God, is powerful over all things (cf. Q. 3:26a).

 The Bāb  raises the call “al-mulk li-llahi” ("Dominion belongs to God!") and calls for kings, leadres and other  human beings to assist him in its evolution and development.  They must conquer all powers and forces by means of "holy war" and proclaimatory activity in order that all can acknowledge the eschatological rule of God. 

         Qur'an Sura 67 is entitled Surat al-mulk and after the basmala  the first verse reads as follows :

‏تَببَكَ ٱلَّذِى بِيَدِهِ ٱلْمُلْكُ وَهُوَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَىْءٍۢ قَدِيرٌ

(1) "Blessed be He in Whose hand is the dominion (al-mulk), and Who is Powerful over all things."

The word mulk occurs about 48 times in the Qur'an. Several of its texts underline the belief that earthly and cosmic  مُلْكُ  mulk ("rule", "dominion", "sovereignty") properly belong to God. Qur'an  2:107 reads:

أَلَمْ تَعْلَمْ أَنَّ اللَّهَ لَهُ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ وَمَا لَكُم مِّن دُونِ اللَّهِ مِن وَلِيٍّ وَلاَ نَصِيرٍ

"Are you not aware that unto God belongs the mulk (dominion, rule, kingdom) of the heavens and of the earth? Aside from God you have no Helper or Protector" (Q. 2:107).

This qur'anic sentiment is paralleled by at least fifteen other verses, including,  Q. 3:189 (186); Q. 5:17-18 (20-21); Q. 5:40 (44); Q.5:120; Q. 7:158; Q. 9:116 (117); Q. 24:42; Q. 42:49 (48); Q. 43:85; Q. 45: 27 (26); Q. 48:14; Q. 57: 2, 5;  Q. 85:0 (cf. Q. 40: 16, 29). 

 It is specifically predicted in Q. 22:56 (55) and Q. 25:26 (28)' that on the eschatological Day of God the mulk  will again "belong to God": 

الْمُلْكُ يَوْمَئِذٍ لِّلَّهِ يَحْكُمُ بَيْنَهُمْ فَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ فِي جَنَّاتِ النَّعِيمِ

"the mulk (the `Rule', 'Sovereignty', `Kingdom') on that Day shall belong unto God for He shall decree amongst  them. Those who believe and work righteous deeds will be in Gardens of Bliss (jannat al-na`īm)" (Q. 22:56. cf. Q. 42:49 (48); Q. 43:85; Q. 45: 26 (26); and Q. 40: 16, 29 cf. Q. 64:1).

الْمُلْكُ يَوْمَئِذٍ الْحَقُّ لِلرَّحْمَنِ وَكَانَ يَوْمًا عَلَى الْكَافِرِينَ عَسِيرًا

"the al-mulk (the `Rule', 'Sovereignty', `Kingdom') on that Day shall in truth belong unto the All-Merciful [God] (al-rahman). And such for the unbeliever shall be a harsh Day" (Q. 25:26 (28)).

 These latter day qur'anic predictions about the mulk of God obviously find resonance and fulfillment in the Surat al-mulk of the QA.

Both Sunni and Shi`i Islamic sources anticipate the rule of God on the Day of Resurrection (yawm al-qiyama). Recited daily countless times throughout Islamic history Q 1:4 مَـٰلِكِ يَوْمِ ٱلدِّينِ  expresses in realized eschatological fashion the hope and anticipation of the latter-day theophanic rule of God. In his Tafsīr on  Q. 1:4  the  two Jalāls (Jalalayn = Jalāl al-Dīn Muhammad ibn Aḥmad al-Maḥallī (d. 864/1459). and Jalāl a-Dīn `Abd al-Raḥman al-Suyūṭī (d. 911/1505)  comment as follows:

مَـٰلِكِ يَوْمِ ٱلدِّينِ  "Master of the Day of Judgment: that is, [the day of] requite, the Day of Resurrection. The reason for the specific mention [of the Day of Judgment] is that the mastery of none shall appear on that Day except that of God, may He be exalted, as is indicated by [God’s words] ‘Whose is the Kingdom today?’ ‘God’s’ [Q. 40:16] (if one reads it mālik [as opposed to malik], then this signifies that He has possession of the entire affair on the Day of Resurrection, or else that He is ever described by this [expression], in the same way as [He is described as] ‘Forgiver of sin’ (ghāfir al-dhanb). Thus, one can validly take it as an adjective of a definite noun).”  (Trans. Tafsir al-Jalalayn © 2008 Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, Amman, Jordan (http://www.aalalbayt.org) see also http://www.altafsir.com/Tafasir).

There are many further Islamic writers and texts which make insightful comment upon the implications of the Qur'anic word mulk and associated terminology (see Kassis, Concordance, 765-768).  The Name of God al-Mālik meaning "the King", "the Ruler" is important in Islamic theology. It is the fourth of the ninety-nine al-asmā’ al-ḥusnā (“Most Beautiful Names” [ of God]) while the eighty fourth of these special Names is the theologically loaded genitive phrase the Mālik al-Mulk , the “Ruler of Kingdom” or the “King of the worldly dominion". The forty  or more Islamic theologians and philosophers (including Ibn Barrajān; Abu Bakr al-Bayhaqī; Abu Ḥāmid al-Ghazzālī and Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī) who have commented upon the al-asmā’ al-ḥusnā have set down detailed references on the theological implications of these and related divine Names (see Hajji Khalifa, Kashf al-zunun [ed. 2008], 2: 314-217 nos. 7908-7939).

An example of the

The Mulk (Dominion) in Select later Babi-Baha'i scriptural writings

 There are numerous Bābī-Bahā'ī scriptural writings which develop the theme of the eschatological realization of the Kingdom or reign of God on earth. The establishment of some form of theocracy attendant upon the Bābī-Bahā'ī theophany or divine manifestation on the Day of God is indicated may times. Only a few relevant passages can be set down here.

 In the preamble of a scriptural Tablet of Baha'u'llah to His eminence (ḥaḍrat) Ism-i Zayn, dated 18th Dhu'l-Ḥijja 1300 = 18th October 1883 CE., (a little less than a decade before his passing in May 1892 CE) we find some remarkably apposite theological uses of  the m-l-k root relative to eschatological fulfillment and the realization of the latter day "reign" or sovereignty of God:

He is God, exalted be His grades, The Mighty, the Powerful.

Praised be to God the Ruler of the earthly dominion and of the Kingdom (al-mālik al-mulk wa'l-malakūt) and the Sovereign of Power and of the Omnipotent Realm (sultan al-`Izz wa'l-jabarūt), Who made His [Throne-] Chair [Footstall] (kursi) to be the worldly domain (al-nāsūt) to the end that He might rule therein over such as He wills. Over, that is, the Ruler [Owner, Master](al-mālik) and the dominion assigned [owned] (wa'l-mamlūk) and [over] the Kingly authorities (wa'l-mulūk). May blessings and peace be upon whomsoever He hath dispatched for the sanctification of the world (li-taqdis al-`ālam) and whom he hath safeguarded from whatsoever might withhold him from the King of Pre-Existence (mālik al-qidam) and the Gem (al-jawhar) which hath been made manifest from the mine of God (ma`dan Allah), the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting. And  [peace be upon] his family who are committed to Him

 A well-known supplication of Baha'u'llah includes words anticipating the phrase al-mulk li-llāhi ("the Kingdom belongs to God") being stamped like an eschatological  "seal" on the foreheads of the faithful:

O thou that hast remembered Me! The most grievous veil hath shut out the peoples of the earth from His glory, and hindered them from hearkening to His call. God grant that the light of unity may envelop the whole earth, and that the seal al-mulk li-llāhi , "the Kingdom is God's", may be stamped upon the brow of all its peoples" (GWB VII).

 (2). Sūrat al-`Ulamā’, QA. 2 on Q. 12:1 :  العلماء

Derived from the triliteral root `-l-m  (to know, etc) the various meanings and sense of the word `ulamā' are well known. The `ulamā' --  learned, clerics, divines, religious leaders, etc --  are the learned guides or authorities in the religion of Islam. Some of course are more intellectually learned or brilliant than others. Throughout Islamic history many have been paragons of true learning and virtue. Others have fallen short of their high religious office. The Bab calls the `ulama' to true piety and to `fear God' which spiritual quality has long been lauded as the acme of wisdom in numerous authoritative ḥadith and related texts.  A few paragraphs into QA 2 at verse 13  there is the following address :

يا معشر العلماء اتّقوا اللّه فی آرائكم من يومكم هذا  فانّ الذّكر فيكم من عندنا قد كان بالحقّ حاكماً و شهيداً

"O concourse of the `ulamā' (divines). 

Fear God! from this Day onwards in setting forth your personal opinions (arā'; sing. ra'y)  for the [messianic] Remembrance (al-dhikr) is among you by virtue of Us. He, in very truth, is Judge and Witness.”

 In sura two, the Bab moves to those persons who were ordinarily the centers of worldly power, the  `ulamā', and addresses them in the surat al- `ulamā'.  Just as in the first Surat al-mulk (QA.1) he had undercut the terrestrial rule of kings and potentates, in sura two likewise, he all but demolishes the role of the Islamic `ulamā’ and other clerical and related members of the Abrahamic religions of the Book. Authority and religion are no longer belong to human beings but are focused in God and his messianic representative on earth who in the new eschatological age communicate authoritative guidance for the peoples of the world.  For the Bāb the era of the `ulamā’ as earthly representatives of God is terminated. There is no longer any need for marja al-taqlid, mujtahids, `Ulamā’, Fuqahā’ or Akhund, etc. The authority of priests in religious and other areas is superseded by a new  divine revelation as the basis of divine guidance. Human loci of authority and patterns of guidance are no longer appropriate in the new Babi era of direct communication with the loci of Imami guidance.

At or around verse 22 of the Surat al-`ulama', the Bab addresses the non-muslim   "people of the Book" (ahl al-kitab) calling them to humility and exhorting them to  focus upon the messianic Dhikr (Remembrance):

يا ايّها الملأ من اهل الكتاب اتّقوا اللّه و لاتغترنّ بعلمكم  و اتّبعوا الكتاب من عند الذّكر* مبين

"O concourse of the people of the Book (ahl al-kitab)!

Fear ye God! and pride not yourselves in your learning. Follow the Book (al-kitāb)  which hath its origin with the Remembrance (al-dhikr), [through, in very truth, the Remembrance (al-dhikr) ] Check here cf. SWB: XX.

The individual learned divines among the Jews and Christians, etc.,  must likewise turn for guidance to the new Book of the new eschatological age. In QA 1-2, rulers and individual sources of authority must relinquish their worldly reign and religious authority.

(3) = Sūrat al-Īmān ("Faith", "Belief") QA. 3 on Q. 12:2. الايمان

URL: Sūrat al-īmān  = The Surah of Security

This word  al-īmān meaning "faith" or  "belief"  and "security" (cf. "the secure place") is not found in QA3.

As Abu'l-Qasim Afnan notes in his book `Ahd-i A`la  (p. 89;  155 fn.28) Shiraz and the house of the Bab there are associated with the Qur'anic phrases   bilad al-āmin (Q. 2:125-6) and dar al-amin ... Add here..

In this respect one might refer to the Tablet or Letter of the Bab to the leading Shaykhi and anti-Babi Mulla Hasan Gawhar

"O thou Gawhar! In the [Shiraz] House (bayt) He glorifies the people of the house (ahl al-bayt)  [Shi`i-Shaykhi Muslims] associated with the previous Bab (al-bab al-muqaddam) [Sayyid Kāẓim Rashti)... Propagate then the decree of God (hukm Allah) publicly and emerge from thy house an emigrant (muhājir an) unto the Balad al-Ami[ī]n ("the Secure Land") [Shiraz] for the sake of the covenant of the Baqiyyat-Allāh (Remnant of God), an Imam, True and Noble (haqq karīm)."   

Mubāhala ('Mutual execration') : In one mss., of Azali provenance (EGB F.11) this 3rd Sura of the QA is entitled the Surat al-mubahala or the `Sura of mutual execration'.  The alternative cannot be speedily rejected because the word al-īmān is  nowhere found in QA.3  While QA.1 has to do with the realization of the rule of God over the world, QA2 revolves around the clerical loss of power over the world of the faithful in favor of a new standard of eschatological divine guidance. QA3 raises the status or position of "true belief" or  "secure faith"  which is put to the test. This especially when there is reference to al-mubāhala ("mutual execration") in truth determination. The severe, hellish punishments for lack to receptivity to the message of God through the hidden Imam and the Bab are here depicted in graphic neo-qur'anic fashion.

ELIJAH ON MT. CARMEL

At QA3:40  there is reference to a possible eschatological trial of faith, a mubāhala ("mutual execration", tabāhila) with the unbelievers. Towards the end of QA.3 the Bāb uses a verbal form indicative of mubāhala (`mutual execration’), namely, tabāhila relative to his Islamic opponents. He rewrites Q. 3:61b = thumma nabtahil fa-naj`al` la`nata Allāh `ala al-kadhibin ( "then let us engage in humble prayer [mutual execration], mubāhala;’  So shall we invoke the curse of God upon the liars". Drawing upon Q. 3:61 the Bāb promises his opponents that should this proposed event take place, he, acting on behalf of God, would cause a destructive thunderbolt of the stone of hell-fire (ṣa`iqat min hajr al-nār) to rain upon the earth. In this way the Bāb commands terrible power if he is forced to engage in a mubāhala   confrontation with his doubting contemporaries. One is reminded at QA 3:40 of the story of Elijah and priests of Baal on Mount Carmel :

فو ربّك لو تباهل مع الكفّار ينظرون النّاس الی طرف* [طرق] السّمإ و انّا قد نرسل عليهم باذن اللّه صاعقة من حجر النّار  و لو لا دعائك لحرقت الارض و بعض من عليها انّ اللّه قد* كان علی كلّ شیء قديرا

By thy Lord! If thou [the Bāb] shouldst engage in mubāhala ("mutual execration", tabāhila) with the unbelievers, the people will gaze towards the paths of heaven and, by the leave of God, We shall send [down] upon them a thunderbolt of the rock of hell-fire (ṣa`iqat min ḥajr al-nār). And if thou dost not supplicate [God on their behalf] it shall assuredly burn up the earth and some who are upon it.  And God, verily, is powerful over all things (Q. 3:61).

 

(4) Sūrat al-Madīnah – the City (QA 4 on Q. 12:3) : المدينه

(1) TOMB OF THE PROPHET MUHAMMAD AT MEDINA  (2) THE CITY OF SHIRAZ

 URL :  Sūrat al-madīna   = The Surah of the City

        This fourth sura of the QA is entitled  al-medina meaning, "the City". This word occurs seventeen times in the Qur'an and in three different addresses to the ahl; al-madinat, the "people" or    "inhabitants of the city". At first sight these poeple might be either persons living in or around Medina or Shiraz.

        The best known Islamic usage of Madina (= Medina) is as the new designation of the ancient settlement of Jews and others originally named Yathrib (  يثرب ) but renamed Medina after its later Islamic title al-Madinat ("the City"), a short form of Madīnat al-Nabī ("the City of the Prophet [Muhammad]"). It is the second holiest city in the Islamic world after Mecca and was visited by the Bāb in connection with his pilgrimage from Shiraz-Bushire (in Persia) to Mecca-Medina (in Arabia) in 1844-5. It has been accorded the title al-Munawwara ("The Radiant"). The first pilgrimage of the Prophet was performed to the city of Medina in 622 CE and a decade or so later when he passed away he was buried there in 632 CE. Subsequently all Muslims who could manage it have been obliged to visit Medina on pilgrimage in connection with visiting the nearby most sacred  Islamic city of Mecca (approx. 220 miles from Medina). This pilgrimage to Mecca is enjoined in the Qur'an and in many supplementary traditions and books of Islamic law.

    The mention of a "city" (al-madinat) or the inhabitants or "the people of the City"  first occurs in the QA sura before  QA4 (the Sura of the City) in  QA3, the Surat al-iman (see above) and perhaps gives a clue to which "city" is intended :  

[37-38]

اذ قال * بعض من اهل المدينة نحن انصار اللّه  فلمّا جائهم الذّكر بغتةً اذا هم يعرضون عن نصرتنا ان اللّه ربّی و ربّكم الحقّ فاعبدوه و هذا صراط علیّ عند ربّك مستقيماً  فسوف يحكم اللّه بين النّاس بالحقّ ثمّ لايجدون فی انفسهم حرجاً من حكم اللّه الخالص و قد كان الامر فی امّ الكتاب مقضيّاً

"Some of the people of the City have declared, `We are the helpers of God (anṣār Allāh)' , but when the Remembrance (al-dhikr) [the Bab] came suddenly [upon them],  they turned aside from helping Us (Q. 3:52). God, verily, is my Lord and your Lord, the True One.  So serve ye Him and this the [elevated] Path of `Alī  (the Bāb? ; ṣiraṭ `Alī / `Alīyy) which is straight in the estimation of thy [sing.] Lord (rabb; .cf. Q. 3:51)." (see SWB: add [adapted]) [38] God, in very truth, will judge between the people; then they shall find themselves unable to resist the judgment of God, the Pure One (Q.4:65b). Verily, the matter (al-amr) is stipulated in the Mother [Archetypal] Book (umm al-kitab) (ibid.).

 Exactly which "City" is intended here is far from clear though it would seem much more likely to be Shiraz, the birthplace and home of the Bab as well as the scene of the revelation of the Qayyūm al-asmā'. In this city of Shiraz the Bab undoubtedly had associates who might have offered to assist him in his religious endeavors, than such persons as might have inhabited Medina in Arabia! The people of the "city" are addressed in the context of their  eventual rejection of earlier promises of assistance for the messianic Dhikr.

 For the Bab the city par excellence which he came to regard as the centre of future Babi pilgrimage was his House in the city of Shiraz in southern Persian or Iran. This became the new Mecca as the centre of Babi pilgrimage. The above verses may imply that very early on some of his Shi`i-Shaykhi associates in the city of Shiraz offered to aid, help or assist him in his messianic cause but soon turned aside as when he announced that he was in communication with the hidden imam or that the new age had "all of a sudden" ( baghtat an = a qur'anic phrase) come to be realized in unforeseen ways. Exactly what date we assign to the early suras of the QA obviously has a bearing upon what we make of the verses within early suras of the QA. The Bab had probably not yet been on pilgrimage and so the implication is that the "city" with its unreceptive inhabitants is Shiraz. The whole issue of ejection, faith and possible mubāhala (mutual execration) is raised after the issue of the rejection by (some of the) the inhabitants or people of the "city" in QA3.

It is in verse 18 of QA.4 the Surat al-Madinat (Sura of the City) proper that the inhabitants of the "City" are addressed in the following manner:

[18]

 يا اهل المدينه

    انتم المشركون  بربّكم ان كنتم آمنتم بمحمّد رسول اللّه و خاتم النّبيّين و كتابه الفرقان الّذی لايأتيه الباطلفانّا قد نزّلنا علی عبدنا باذن اللّه هذا الكتاب بمثله ان تؤمنون به فايمانكم بمحمّد و الكتاب من قبل علی الحقّ قد
كان كذبا عند اللّه مشهودا 

O people of the City!

"Ye are polytheists (al-mushrikun) in the sight of your Lord. If ye truly believe in Muhammad, the Apostle of God and seal of the prophets (khātam al-nabiyyīn) (see Q. 33: 40b) and in His Book, the Furqān [= the Qur'ān], which is devoid of error, then [acknowledge that] We, verily, have sent down, by the leave of God, this Book upon Our servant [the Bāb] which is indeed the like of it [the Qur'ān]. If ye fail to believe in him [the Bāb] then your faith in Muhammad and His Book [revealed] in the past, will, as befits the Truth, be treated as false in the estimation of God. (cf. SWB: ADD)

 The people of Shiraz are called upon to acknowledge the truth of the Bab's power of revelation otherwise they will be judged al-mushrikin ("polytheists") since he my be compared to the prophet Muhammad. The references to the "city" in QA3 and QA4 suggest that the Bab was mindful of the possible rejection of his contemporary Muslims who may not see him as the "servant of God" possessed of the power of divine revelation.

  A second address to the inhabitants of the "City" occurs in QA 4: 20ff. Its first two verses read:

يا اهل المدينه و من حولها من الاعراب

 ما لكم كيف قد كفرتم بمحمّد بعد وفاته علی غير الحقّ جهاداًالم يأخذ اللّه و نبيّه عنكم عهداً فی وصاية وليّه فی مواطن من الارض علی الحقّ بالحقّ كثيراً 

 O people of the City and such of the Arabs as are around it!

What possessed you that, disdainful of the Truth, you publicly disbelieved in Muhammad after his death? [21] Did not God and his Prophet take a covenant (`ahdan ) with you about the wiṣaya [mandate  successorship] of his waliyy ("successor" =  Imam `Alī), in very truth, [effective] throughout the regions of the earth?

The reference to the "such of the Arabs as are around it" could perhaps equally apply to Shiraz as well as to Medina.

A third address to the inhabitants of the "City" occurs in QA 4: 28f. Its first  verses read:

يا اهل المدينة

 اتّقوا اللّه من يوم لاتقدّرون لانفسكم من شیء و لقد كان الحكم منّا علی الحقّ بالحقّ مكتوبا فما لكم كيف قد كفرتم باللّه بارئكم الّذی لا اله الا هو   الّذی قد خلقكم و رزقكم بجوده و انّه قد كان عليكم بالحقّ شهيداً

 O people of the City!

Fear God with respect to [the coming of] a Day when you your selves will have no power over the least thing.  The judgment is, in very truth, written down by Us.  What then ails you that you have disbelieved in God your Fashioner, Who, no God is there except Him?  He, verily, created you and provided for you out of His Bounty and, in very truth, stands as witness over against you.

 Here the Bab calls the people of the city to piety on the coming Day of God. The identity of the "City" and its people or inhabitants is still not clear. They tend to unbelief unaware of the bestowal of the blessings of the divine providence.

(5) Sūrat Yūsuf – Jospeh (QA 5 on Q. 12:4)

 

URL : Sūrat  Yūsuf = The Surah of Joseph

 Qur'an 12:4 records the dream-vision of Joseph:

"Behold, Joseph said to his father: `O my father! I saw eleven stars,  and the sun and the moon, I saw them bowing down before me!'".

 The person and story of Joseph is important in both the Bible (Genesis 37-50) and the Qur'ān (surah 12:1-111). In these  sacred books the account of this patriarch- prophet is the longest biblical / qur'ānic narrative, an aspect of the "best of stories" (aḥsan al-qaṣaṣ). In Sunnī and Shī`ī Islamic sources Joseph is pre-eminently a model of righteous piety (al-ṣiddiq) and a paragon of handsome beauty (ḥusn, jamāl). Among numerous other Abrahamic sources, this latter hagiographical motif is, for example, indicated in the Shī`ī Tafsir Nūr al-thaqalayn (`Commentary [expressive] of the Light of the Twin Weights') of al-Huwayzī (d. 1112/1700). Therein it is recorded that the sixth Twelver Imam, Abī `Abdu'llah, Ja`far al-Ṣādiq (d. c. 126/743) stated,

Whoso reciteth the Surah of Joseph each day or during every night will be raised up by God on the Day of Resurrection such that their beauty (jamāl) will be consonant with the beauty of Joseph..." (II:408).

 Among the interpretations of this verse are the following words ascribed to one of the twelver Imams,

The inner sense (al-ta'wīl) of this dream-vision (al-ru'yā) is that he [Joseph] will rule Egypt; and there shall enter before him his father [Jacob-Israel] and his brothers. As for the "sun" (al-shams) it is Rachael (Rahil) the mother of Joseph while the "moon" (al-qamar) is Jacob (Ya`qub). Now the eleven stars (al-kawākib) are his [eleven] brothers. When they entered before him they prostrated in gratitude before God alone; the moment they caught sight of him was that of the prostration before God" (cited Baḥrānī, Kitāb al-burhan, II:243).

 The Shī`ī imamological understanding of the Joseph narrative is registered in various authoritative Shi`i traditions (aḥadīth; khabar) and tafsīr works. Aspects of its sometimes non-literal (allegorical-typological... ) exegesis had messianic implications relative to the ghayba ("occultation") and eventual advent or "return" of the expected (hidden 12th) Imam. This provided the background to the non-literal Bābī-Bahā'ī interpretation of the Joseph narrative which often has eschatological, messianic and theophanological implications.

 The Bāb's interpretation of the motifs in the dream of Joseph go way beyond this Shī`ī  interpretation expressed by Imam Ja`far al-Ṣādiq.  In QA V, the dream-vision of Joseph (Q. 12:4) is cited and commented upon. There, among other things, it is asserted that God intended by Joseph the nafs, the "Logos-Self" of the Messenger (= Muhammad) and the "fruit of the [womb of the] the Virgin" (thamarat al-baṭūl)  by which Fāṭimah's son, the martyred and expected to "return" [Imam] Ḥusayn (4/626-61/680) is intended. The "sun", "moon" and eleven "stars" seen by Joseph in his vision, symbolize Fāṭima (= "the sun"), Muhammad (= "the moon") and the [twelver] Imams (the first Imam  `Alī  (d.40/661) until the 11th Imam Ḥasan al-Askarī (d. 260/874) are kawākib, "the stars" of Q.12:7.

 In the QA the archetypal figure of Joseph  is equated by the Bāb with both the messianic figures of the Qā'im ("Ariser") and the Qayyūm ("Self-Subsisting" Deity) who indirect eschatolgical theophany was expected. Joseph is equated typologically with Husayn and with the the Qayyum since the name Joseph and the word Qayyum have identical numerical values. The third Imam Ḥusayn becomes a messianic figure in Shi`ism since he was expected to return at the eschaton though historically he was martyred on the plain of Karbala in 61/680. These latter identifications are made in the fifth Surah of the QA which in some mss. is entitled the Surah of Ḥusayn as opposed to the Surah of Joseph. This fifth surah is the first surah of the QA which deals directly with the allegorical interpretation of the story of Joseph (QA.5).

        It is clear from QA5 that for the Bāb the twelve Imams are also representative of the 12 letters of the Islamic profession of faith, the kalimat al-tawḥīd, the Islamic affirmation of the Divine Unity, which is made up of 12 letters -   la ilāha ilā Allāh ("There is none other god [Deity] but God'). This phrase is very important in the Bāb's writings, at times expressing the twin categories of negation ("There is no God") and affirmation ("but God").

See further : URL JOSEPH-YŪSUF in the Qayyūm al-asmā'

(10) Sūrat al-`Amā' (the "Divine Cloud") (QA 10 on Q. 12:9)

 QA 10 is entitled Sūrah al-`Amā’ where `amā’ most likely has a post-qur’anic theological sense such as `The Sura of the Divine Cloud’ as opposed to a forced and essentially misleading Qur’ānic based translation `The Sūrah of Blindness [of heart]’ for  `amā’ occurs twice in the Qur’ān with this sense (see Q. 41:17 and 44). The sense of Divine Cloud is based upon the developed theological use of this term in an early cosmological ḥadīth as interpreted  by numerous Sufis especially those of Ibn al-`Arabī and his school. The Great Shaykh made considerable creative reference to the `Hadith of `āmā' in his Futuhat al-Makkiyya (Meccan Openings-Revelations) and other writings. 

(62) Sūrat al-Awliya' (the Intimates) (QA 62 on Q. 12:61)

QA 62 is entitled Sūrat al-Awliyā’ (The Sūrah of the Saintly Intimates’) though in this Sūrah the Bāb is nor concerned with the saintliness of elevated awliyā’ (saints, sages, mystics) but their low estate as a result of their eschatological downfall or lack of receptivity. Only the QA context makes this clear.

(80) the Sūrat al-Zawāl (The Sūra of the Declension)

 The title of QA (80) the Sūrat al-Zawāl (The Sūrah of the Declension) utilizes a verbal-noun which occurs only once in the Qur’ān. Derived from a verb zāla = `to go away, deviate, remove, decline’ (see Kassis, Concordance 1983:1332) it probably indicates the going down or `declension’ of the sun. Within this 80th Sūra the word  zuwāl occurs twice, once in an address to the believers bidding them observe prayer at the time of the onset of the declension of the sun:

 يا ايّها المؤمنون

 اتلوا من الكتاب فی بدوالزّوال سبحان اللّه و لا اله الّا اللّه الحمد للّه الّذی لم يتّخذ صاحبة و لاولدا   و لم يكن له شريك فی الملك و لم يكن له ولیّ من الذّلّ و كبّره تكبيرا

 “O Thou Believers ! Recite ye from the Book (al-kitāb) at the beginning of the declension [of the Sun], `Subḥān-Allāh (Praised be God)! No God is there except God! Praised be to God Who in no wise adopts any consort [wife, mate] (ṣāḥiba) [cf. Q. 6:101] neither [takes for Himself] a Son (walad an cf. Jesus, cf. Q. 2:116). There is not for Him any partner (sharīk) in the [earthly] dominion (al-mulk) And there is not with respect to Him any [intimate] associate [partner] (walī) [to protect Him] from abasement [ignominy] (al-dhull). So extol Him with [befitting] magnification! (kabbiruhu takbīr an ) [= Q. 17:111b].”

 And once in an address to denizens or the “People of the Throne”

 يا اهل العرش

اسمعوا ندائی من مركز الشّمس الطّالعة من مشرق الباب انّی انا اللّه الّذی لا اله الّا هو قد اختصصت بالحقّ ذكر الذّكر فی مطلع الشّمس و مغربها و علی الزّوال مركزها صلّوا عليه كما يصلّی الرّحمن لعبده و الملئكة حافّون حول الذّكر بذكره و هو اللّه كان بكلّ شیء شهيداً

“O Thou People of the Throne!

Hearken ye unto My Call from the meridian [Central Point] of the Sun (markaz al-shams), [as] dawning forth from the east of the Gate (mashriq al-bāb)! [Exclaiming] `I am indeed God, Who, no God is there save Him. I, in very truth, have indeed singled out the remembrance of the [messianic] Dhikr (dhikr al-dhikr) at [the time of] the Dawning-Forth of the Sun  (fī maṭla` al-shams) as well as  with its  [western] Setting (maghribihā) and at [the time of] its declension  (`alā al-zawāl) at the meridian [central position at noon] (markazihā). So utter ye blessings upon it just as the All-Merciful (God) does with respect to His servant and whereat the angelic hosts (al-malā’ikat) do circumambulate about the [messianic] Dhikr in remembrance of him (bi-dhikihi). And He is God Who hath ever been Witness unto everything  (bi-kulla shay’ shahīd an).

The Bab associates the word zawāl with solar patterns, the celestial  host and ritual practice; with the dawning forth and setting of the "Sun" as well as its declension to the meridian position.  The ritual dhikr (remembrance) of the messianic Dhikr ("Remembrance") is advised as is the magnification of this solar symbolism as it reflects the glorification of the celestial angels as they circumambulate the exalted person of the Dhikr.

(90>) The ten القتال  Qitāl  and  الجهاد  Jihād  (Engagement and Holy War) QA Sūra Titles.

  •  Qitāl ("Conflagration") = QA. 90 + 91 + 96 + 97 + 102 +103.

  • Jihād ("Holy War") = QA. 98 + 99 + 100 + 101

The existence of ten adjacent or near adjacent  القتال Qitāl and الجهاد Jihād (`Engagement' and `Holy War') QA Sūras (from QA 95) constitute the most concentrated cluster of QA sūra titles. They are clear evidence that the Bab anticipated eschatological conflagration. There are  four QA jihād ("Holy War" 2 + 2= 4) sura titles, involving Qitāl, "conflagration", "slaughter" or "killing" which is also the title of six QA sura titles (3 pairs = 6). The four Jihād  QA suras = (98)-(99)+(100)-(101) and six adjacent Qitāl QA sūras  = (90)-(91) + (96)-(97) + (102)-(103), make up ten sūras relating to eschatological conflict.  There are  two sets of adjacent. duplicated, pairs of four QA suras  in a row focused upon eschatological Jihād ("holy war"). These successive titles obviously underline the centrality of the imminent expectation of messianic, Imam led, apocalyptic `holy war'. Numerous Shi`i hadith (traditions) associate the onset of eschatological jihad with the Mecca-Medina region and with Karbala in Iraq where the shrine of the martyred Imam Ḥusayn (d. 61/680) is located.

 To bring about eschatological change was central to the early mission of the Bab as representative of the hidden imam who will eventually bring about a new mulk or eschatological dominion (see QA1), an  end-time theocracy. It should be noted here that the Bab cancelled the call for "holy war" in connection with a gathering in Karbala in 1845. In later years, despite the Babi conflicts in the late 1840s and early 1850s never seems to have called upon his followers to wage militant holy war. He never abandoned making reference to its theoretical, messianic-apocalyptic  or "mythological" role of "holy war" but held back after 1845 from calling upon his followers to move in this direction.

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