TB Seven Valleys- Learned Grammarians

A Modern printing of the Lisan al-`Arab ...

The Mystic Knower  and the Learned Grammarians of the Valley of Search

Stephen N. Lambden UCMerced.

In progress- last updated 08-10-2015

Towards the end of the first valley of search (talab) of the Haft vadi (Seven Valleys) the following passage about a mystic knower (arif) is found :

The story is told of a mystic knower. who went on a journey with a learned grammarian as his companion. They came to the shore of the Sea of Grandeur. The knower straightway flung himself into the waves, but the grammarian stood lost in his reasonings, which were as words that are written on water. The knower called out to him "Why dost thou not follow?" The grammarian answered. "O Brother. I dare not advance. I must needs go back again."

Then the knower cried.  "Forget what thou didst read in the books of Sibâvayh and Qawlavayh. of Ibn-i-Hajib and Ibn-i-Mälik and cross the water."   The death of self is needed here, not rhetoric:  Be nothing, then and walk upon the waves. 97

Likewise is it written.

־־And be ye not like those who forget God. and whom He hath therefore caused to forget their own selves. These are the wicked doers." 98

The following notes will attempt to give a brief biography and overview of the key grammatical and other writings of the four persons listed by Baha'-Allah.



A Modern edition of the al-Kitab of Sībawayh

Sībawayh [Sibâvayh] (b. Bayda near Shiraz or Hamadan [Persia] c.   /760- d. Shiraz [Persia], 180/796-7)

= أبو بشر عمرو بن عثمان بن قنبر البصري

Abū Bishr ʿAmr ibn ʿUthmān ibn Qanbar Al-Baṣrī was known (in Arabic transliteration) as سيبويه Sībawayh after his Persian name سیبویه Sēbōē perhaps meaning or suggestive of an apple, such as the "scent of an apple (= Per. sīb )". Though having a Persian name and lineage, Sībawayh was the first Muslim to write a comprehensive Arabic grammar which came to have the title الكتاب al-Kitab, "The Book".



  • Qawlavayh
  •  Ibn-i-Hajib
  •  Ibn-i-Mälik