Bab Ar-7 Proofs 1

The ArabicDala'il-i sab`a

(The Seven Proofs)

Stephen Lambden UCMerced.

IN PROGRESS 2009-10 -under revision 2015

 There are two books of the Bab entitled the Seven Proofs, one in Persian and another in Arabic. The shorter Arabic al-Dalā’il al-Sab`a  (Seven Proofs, written wholly in Arabic) appears to be a synopsis of the much longer, probably earlier Persian Dalā’il-i Sab`ah. Both these works appear to date to the Mah-Ku period of the Bab’s imprisonment in Persian Ādhirbayjān (1846-1848) and remain in mss. ADD details.                                      
Different mss. texts contain quite a few idiosyncrasies or unsatisfactory readings. Yet the Persian Seven Proofs was translated by the French Bahā’ī A. L .M. Nicholas (1864-1937). His translation was made from one or two mss. and was published in Paris in 1902 as Le Livre des Sept Preuves de la mission du Bab. (Paris: Maisonneuvre, 1902). Despite textual divergencies and uncertainties certain Azalī Babis of Iran (probably in the mid. 1960s) published a reasonable semi-critical edition of these both of the   Arabic and Persian Seven Proofs of the Bāb.  Yet no wholly satisfactory critical edition of either the Arabic or Persian Seven Proofs, however, has appeared. The translation below remains very tentative.

 The Persian Dalā'il‑ i Sab`ah, apparently addressed to a Shaykhī (and Bābī ?) of uncertain identity, opens with a testimony to God's uniqueness, eternality and unknowability. The essential identity, endless continuity and successive appearance of prophets, dhikrs  or human manifestations of the Primal Will of God (mashiyya) is outlined. With the termination of a 13,000 year cycle this Primal Will has, the Bāb then asserts, become known through his own Self which is the nuqṭa‑yi bayān  (Point of the Bayān), the focal center of divine revelation. After noting that the Q. should be viewed as the unique and pre‑eminent proof of the prophetic mission of Muammad the Bāb goes on to expound his "seven proofs". They, for the most part, are based upon and revolve around aspects of the nature and uniqueness of divine revelation as touched upon in the Qur'ān. The performance of outward miracles (mu`jizāt)  is deemed unimportant. The revelation of the Bāb (= the Bayān) is the inimitable miracle of an nafs‑yi ummi (unlettered person), the Bāb ( cf. Qur'ān 7:157; Dalā'il, 6ff). Proof seven relates to the Divine support of the true prophet (Dalā'il, 15f).

 Having detailed his closely related seven proofs the Bāb, among other things, argues that his imprisonment does not contradict his claim to prophethood. He dwells on the rejection of past prophets and asserts that, as the promised Qā'im, he is capable of revealing the equivalent of the Qur' ān in just five days. As one occupying the station of the foremost of creatures (awwal‑i khalq)  and the manifestation of  anā Allāh (I verily am God) he also explains how he, as an act of mercy extended  towards the people of Islām, gradually introduced his claims:

Consider the mercy of his holiness the expected one [the Bāb].. how he [initially] revealed himself as the  bāb (`gate’) of the Qā'im of the family of Muhammad [expected 12th Imam] .. and in his first work [the Qayyūm al‑asmā'] decreed observance of the laws of the Qur'ān so that men might not be disturbed by [the revelation of] a new book and a new law. (Dalā'il,  29). 

 In the light of his claim to be the Qā 'im a shift in the Bāb's eschatological views can be seen in the Dalā'il‑i sab`a.  His earlier futurist though imminent eschatological perspective begins to be transformed into a partly realized or inaugurated eschatological stance. Traditional apocalyptic and other expected latter day "signs" central to the Shī'ī messianism are given, in the light of their alleged fulfilment, non‑literal interpretations (see Lambden, 1998:581‑2).1 The eschatological liqā' Allāh (encounter with God; see Qur'ān 13:2, etc) is not a literal coming into the presence of the dhāt‑i azal (eternal divine Essence) but the meeting with the maẓhar‑i ḥaqīqat (divine manifestation of Reality [God]);  with, in fact, the Bāb on the mount of Mākū (or wherever he resides, Dalā'il,  31f; cf. 57f). Spiritually understood, the resurrection (qiyāmat)  has come to pass such that the peoples may be observed in the "paradise" of the "knowledge of the True One" (`irfān bi‑ḥāqq) or in the "fire" of separation (ihtijāb)  from Him (ibid 44, 57f). Again, the sun which, according to (both Sunnī and Shī`ī)  prophetic traditions is to rise from the west (or its setting point) is not the orb in the sky but the "sun of reality" (shams‑i ḥaqīqat ),  the `Sun of prophethood  which, with the Bāb's manifestation, rose from its setting point ("west") in Mecca and subsequently in Shīrāz in the Persian province of Fārs (land of Fā'; ibid 51‑2).

 At the same time certain more concrete prophetic traditions are interpreted literally. The ḥadīth of Ādhirbayjān for example, predicts the Bāb's presence in that north Iranian province and a tradition reported by al‑Mufaḍḍal ibn `Umār  al‑Ju`fī (a contemporary and devotee of Imām Ja`far ādiq) indicates the appearance of his "cause" (amr i.e. Bābīsm) in the "year 60" understood as 1,260 AH = 1844 CE (ibid, 48‑9). The futurist eschatological element in developed Bābī messianism is also present in the Dalā'il‑i sab`a.  In his later writings the Bāb appears to have seen his own dispensation, theophany (ẓuhūr)  as a kind of latter day messianic interregnum to be followed by further eschatons or "days of resurrection" inaugurated by successive manifestations of divinity the first of whom (as well as other divine manifestations) he designated by the originally Sufi term  man yuẓhiru-hu Allāh  (him whom God shall make manifest cf. Goldziher, 1921). A few times mentioned in the Dala'il‑i sab`ih, this Bābī messiah will, at a future date, put the Bābī s to the test (mumtahan; ibid 45,73).  

 Despite his imprisonment in Mākū and his conviction that the seven kings of the Islāmic dominions would ‑‑ if informed ‑‑ reject his cause, the Bāb predicted its future victory and establishment (Dalā'il, 33). He viewed holy war (jiād) as a necessary and ultimately merciful act waged in each religious dispensation against those who, unconvinced by proofs and arguments, adopt a position of unbelief or faith "negation" (nafy)  ‑‑ the Bāb divided peoples into those of "affirmation" (ithbāt)   and of "negation". Though there are pacifist elements within the Bāb's teachings, Bābīsm, unlike the later Bahā'ī movement, is not a wholly pacifist religion. 

 The Persian Dalā’il al-Sab`ah (Seven Proofs) of the Bab: Some Introductory Notes

 It was perhaps towards the middle or latter part of his nine-months imprisonment at Mā-kū (The Open Mountain)  between July 1847 and  April 1848 in Persian province of Ādhirbayjān (in the NW of Iran), that the Bāb composed the Persian and the shorter Arabic recension of his (Per.) Dalā’il-i sab`ih (Seven Proofs). These closely related literary works are most centrally concerned with a seven-fold proof of the divinely revealed status of a sacred book, most notably the Qur’ān and most centrally the Bāb’s own by then extensive divine revelations with are post-qur’anic yet claim to be characterized by the inimitable style of the Islamic Holy Book.
 The Arabic version of the Seven Proofs is a fairly brief, roughly fourteen page (with 19 or less lines per page) version of the more extensive Persian Dala'il-i sab`ih (Seven Proofs) which is just over 70 pages long. In literary form both of these Persian and Arabic works constitute a variety of Istidlāliyya (“Testimonia”) text designed to set forth prophetic and other proofs of an Islamic and post-Islamic claim to (Ar.) waḥy (divine revelation) and maẓhariyya, the status claimed by the Bab of being a manifestation of God. Primitive Christianity missionary outreach was much facilitated by oral and written collections of prophetic proof texts (= Testimonia) culled from the Hebrew Bible and other sacred writings. In similar fashion the two Seven Proofs works of the Bāb and Bahā’-Allāh’s major Istidlāliyya best known today as the Kitāb-īqān (Book of Certitude), are basically scriptuiral testimonia or Istidlāliyya works. The Bāb and Baha’-Allāh both wrote proofs of the truth of their new religions and encouraged their followers to do likewise.
 
MORE TO BE ADDED
 
  
In summary, the Arabic 7 proofs are that,

  • 1)

  • 2)

  • 3)

  • 4)

  • 5)

  • 6)

  • 7)
     

The Persian 7 proofs can also be summed up as follows:
 
1) The enduring qur’ānic relelation is superior to (all of) the miracles (mu`jizāt) of all previous (pre-Islamic) prophets (anbiyā’) since their books and demonstrations of power were abrogated by it (Dala'il 5-6)
2) The Bayān, the collective revelations of the Bāb, are, like the Qur’ān, inimitable ( ADD) (Dala'il, 6-9).
3) The revelation of divinely inspired verses by a nafs-i ummī (“an unlettered person”, cf. Qur’ān 7:57) (Dala'il 9-10).
4) The revelation of even a single divinely inspired verse is sufficient proof of a claim to prophethood (cf. Qur’ān 29:51) making the performance of (other) miracles un- necessary (Dala'il, 10-13).
5) The proof of the claim to prophethood revolves around the revelation of verses (see Qur’ān 17:88) and not the performance of miracles. Such is not contradicted by the fact that miracles are attributed to Muhammad for they are not set forth as demonstrations of prophethood in the Qur’ān itself. Only God is aware of the interpretation of such verses as Qur’ān 54:1 (cf. 3:7) (Dala'il, 13).
6) On rational grounds it is evident that the divine testimony (ḥujjat-i ilāhī) regarding the truth of Islam is complete, (even) if this be asserted on the basis of the Qur’ān itself. If this were not so the legitimacy of punishment after death would be called into question and this is so even if the (revealed) book is not fully appreciated or understood. So too the truth of the Bābī theophany (zuhūr-i bābī) which is something evident through inward affirmation on account of Divine Grace ( ADD), despite the abstruse nature of the Bayān (Bāb’s revelations) (Dala'il, 13-15).
7) Since He is All-Knowing (   ) God, supports and protects the true prophet not raising up an adversary against him (Dala'il, 15-ADD).
It will be observed that the two lists are not completely synonymous. ADD
   
The Persian Dala'il‑i sab`ah, addressed to a Shaykhī (and Babi?) of uncertain identity, opens with a testimony to God's uniqueness, eternality and unknowability. The essential identity, endless continuity and successive appearance of prophets, messianic Dhikrs (lit. “Remembrances”), or human manifestations of the Primal Will of God (al-mashiyya) is outlined. With the termination of a 13,000 year cycle this Primal Will has, the Bāb then asserts, become known through his own Logos-Self (Ar. nafs)  which is the "Point of the Bayān" (nuqṭa‑yi bayān),  the focal center of divine revelation. After noting that the Qur'ān should be viewed as the unique and pre‑eminent proof of the prophetic mission of Muhammad, the Bāb goes on to expound his "seven proofs". They, for the most part, are based upon and revolve around aspects of the nature and uniqueness of divine revelation as touched upon in the Qur'ān. The performance of outward miracles (mu`jizāt)  is deemed unimportant. The revelation of the Bāb (= the Bayān) is the inimitable miracle of an "unlettered person" (nafs‑yi ummi = the Bāb. cf. Qur'ān 7:157; Dalā'il, 6ff). Proof seven relates to the Divine support of the true prophet (Dalā'il, 15f)
Having detailed his closely related "seven proofs" the Bāb, among other things, argues that his imprisonment does not contradict his claim to prophethood. He dwells on the rejection of past prophets and asserts that, as the promised Qā'im, he is capable of revealing the equivalent of the Qur'ān in just five days. As one occupying the station of the foremost of creatures (awwal‑i khalq) and the manifestation of "I verily am God" (anā Allāh) he also explains how he, as an act of mercy extended towards the people of Islām, gradually introduced his claims:

"Consider the mercy of his holiness the expected one [the Bāb].. how he [initially] revealed himself as the gate (bāb) of the Qā'im of the family of Muhammad [= the expected messianic 12th Imām] .. and in his first work [the Qayyūm al‑asmā'] decreed observance of the laws of the Qur'ān so that men might not be disturbed by [the revelation of] a new book and a new law..." (Dalā'il,   29).

 In the light of his claim to be the Qā'im a shift in the Bāb's eschatological views can be seen in the Dalā'il‑i sab`ih. His earlier futurist though imminent eschatological perspective begins to be transformed into a partly realized or inaugurated eschatological stance. Traditional apocalyptic and other expected latter day "signs" central to the Shī`ī' messianism are given, in the light of their alleged fulfillment, non‑literal interpretations (see Lambden, 1995:00). 1 The eschatological "meeting with God" (liqā' Allāh; see Qur'ān 13:2, etc) is not a literal coming into the presence of the eternal divine essence (dhāt‑i azal) but the meeting with the divine manifestation of God (mazhar‑i haqīqat): with, in fact, the Bāb on the mount of Mākū (or wherever he resides: Dalā'il, 31f;cf. 57f). Spiritually understood, the resurrection (qiyāmat)  has come to pass such that the peoples may be observed in the "paradise" of the "knowledge of the True One" (`irfān bi‑hāqq) or in the "fire" of separation (ihtijāb) from Him (ibid 44, 57f). Again, the sun which, according to (both Sunnī and Shī`ī  prophetic traditions is to rise from the west (or its setting point) is not the orb in the sky but the "sun of reality" (shams‑i haqīqat i.e. the `sun of prophethood') which, with the Bāb's manifestation, rose from its setting point ("west") in Mecca and subsequently in Shīrāz in the Persian province of Fārs (land of Fā'; ibid 51‑2).
At the same time certain more concrete prophetic traditions are interpreted literally. The `hadīth of Adhirbayjān' for example, predicts the Bāb's presence in that north Iranian province and a tradition reported by al‑Mufaddal ibn `Umar al‑Ja`fī (a contemporary and devotee of Imām Ja`far Sādiq) indicates the appearance of his "cause" (amr   i.e. Bābīsm) in the "year 60" understood as 1,260 AH = 1844 CE (ibid, 48‑9).

The futurist eschatological element in developed Bābī messianism is also present in the Dalā'il‑i sab`ih.  In his later writings the Bāb appears to have seen his own dispensation (Zuhur) as a kind of latter day messianic interregnum to be followed by further eschatons or "days of resurrection" inaugurated by successive manifestations of divinity the first of whom (as well as other divine manifestations) he designated by the originally Sufi term man yuzhiru-hu-Allāh ("him whom God shall make manifest" cf. Goldziher, 1921). A few times mentioned in the Dala'il‑i sab`ih, this Bābī messiah will, at a future date, put the Bābī s to the test (mumtahan; ibid 45,73).

Despite his imprisonment in Māku and his conviction that the seven kings of the Islāmic dominions would (if informed) reject his Cause, the Bāb predicted its future victory and establishment (Dalā'il, 33). He viewed holy war (jihād) as a necessary and ultimately merciful act waged in each religious dispensation against those who, unconvinced by proofs and arguments, adopt a position of unbelief or faith "negation" (nafy) ‑‑ the Bāb divided peoples into those of "affirmation" (ithbāt) and of "negation". Though there are pacifist elements within the Bāb's teachings, Bābīsm, unlike the later Bahā'ī movement, is not a wholly pacifist religion. At the very outset of his 1863 Baghdad declaration, Baha’-Allah totally rejected the Islamo-Babi doctrine of jihad (“holy war”). He later abrogated it in his Kitab-i Aqdas (c.1873) and in numerous other Tablets.

____________
The Bab's cyclic eschatology would seem to be rooted in an Isma'li type prophetological cyclic schema. The Sunni‑ Shi`i belief that at his advent of the Mahdi‑ Qa`im will be accompanied (or followed) by that of Jesus or the Imam Husayn (d.61/680) is central as is the notion that God himself (as represented by His Messenger) will appear at the eschatological consummation.