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QA. 7A




Part  VII [7]

سورة الزيارة

 Sūrat al-Ziyāra

(The Surah of the Visitation)


Qur'ān 12:6 



Stephen N. Lambden 

Part VII of the provisional translation of the Qayyūm al-asmā’ (= QA) of the Bāb (mid. 1844/1260) with brief introduction and selective notes consists of a full versified English translation of the Sūrat al-Ziyāra (Surah of the Visitation). This translation was done in the early 1980s though not from any critical edition. I simply consulted several good mss. The versification of the surahs of the QA remains uncertain. It is included for the sake of reference and commentary. The Bāb himself stated that there should be forty two verses in each surah (abjad of (Ar.) lī (= l+y = 30+10, "before me", +2 = 42 Q.12:4b) of the QA though I cannot always see quite how this figure is arrived at. The division into only 36 verses in QA7 is largely speculative. It would often seen that the versification of the surahs at forty two appears more symbolic than the concrete, clear cut existence of 42 bayts (verses) of rhymed prose (saj`).

QA 7 opens with the basmala followed by the citation of Q.12:6 upon which it briefly comments upon in rewritten fashion in the course of the Surah of the Visitation (Sūrah al-Ziyāra). Two isolated letters (al-ḥurufāt al-muqaṭṭa`āt) open the Surah proper; the letters Ṭ-S (Ṭā’-Sīn, abjad 69) which also occur once at the opening of the 27th Surah of the Qur'an. Aside from being neo-qur’anic their exact significance is at present unclear. Their abjad value 69 may allude to the year 1269/1853-4 which has eschatological-messianic significance for the Bab as the year "nine" when all shall attain the presence of God, perhaps through the returned Imam Husayn.

The first verse of QA7 shows how intimate is the relationship between the Q. and the QA. The QA is the Q of the Dhikr-Bāb who is a herald of the good news of the eschatological Kingdom. That the Bāb-Dhikr stands as a "harbinger" or "warner" (nadhir ) situated upon the straight, undeviating, possibly cosmic equatorial line or perhaps the alphabetical line. The khaṭṭ al-istiwā' , may also indicate the "Point" or Reality of the Bāb which traces the "letters" which form the nexus of reality and write the new revelation.

According to QA7:2 the Bāb, echoing qur’anic claims, has it that through the "favour" (ni`mat) originating with the Dhikr, God has "perfected our favour upon the people of the heavens and of the earth" (cf. Q.12:6b). The latter day "Most Great Favour" (a`ẓam al-na`ima) is the being of the exalted "Remembrance of God" (dhikr Allāh al-`Alīyy). Additionally, God has singled out the Bāb for receiving the deep, inner interpretation of the Book (ta'wīl al-kitāb). The Bāb was "foremost" in responding (al-ijāba) to the divine comission, presumably in comparison with the four celebrated Gates (al-abwāb) operative during the time of the lesser occultation of the hidden Imam.

QA7:5ff again takes up the special chosen nature of the third Imām Ḥusayn (d. 61/680), referring to him as "an Imam and a martyr [witness] (shahīd) who excelled his "brothers", the other Imams, "in the knowledge of the All Merciful". This was evidently said in the light of his special knowledge of one of the letters (ḥarf an) which is deeply shrouded in mystery. Rewriting Q. 12:6b, God is said to have "perfected His favor upon Imam Ḥusayn and his successors (awṣiyā’) " whose superiority is likened to God’s own priority over all the worlds of creation. The exaltedness of Imam Ḥusayn in Bābī-Baha’i imamology is evident here as elsewhere in numerous other scriptural writings. In his God Passes By , for example, Shoghi Effendi explicitly stated this in commenting upon Baha’u’llah’s parentally bestowed name Ḥusayn (GPB:XX).

QA7:7 indicates that God accepts the one who performs religious visitation (zā’ir) to the shrine of Imam Ḥusayn as one who has performed the visitation unto the True One Himself (bi-ziyārat al-ḥaqq bi-nafsihi), probably indicating the person of the Dhikr-Bāb. The scene of Ḥusayn’s martyrdom as a celestial "battleground" (maṣra`) is a transcendentalization associating the scene of martyrdom with the celestial the region of around the heavenly Throne (`arsh) of God. According to QA7:9 God has made inscrutable the interpretation (ta'wīl ) of even a single letter of the letters (ḥarf min al-ḥurūf) of his Ḥusayn's (messianic?) mystery (?). God has ordained that the one who visits the shrine of (Joseph =) Ḥusayn in Karbala has experienced the very encounter with His own Self, the eschatological liqā Allah / nafsihi....

It would seem possible that QA 7:13 indicates that God decreed the quadrangular figure as the four lettered name Y-W-S-F ( = Yūsuf = Jospeh) to be mystically identical with the quadrangular figure of Ḥ-S-Y-N (= Ḥusayn), which also has four letters. It is al-tarbī` fī ‘l-tarbī` lit), "the fourfold [quadrangular] in the fourfold [quadrangular]". This is thus a visitation within a visitation. It is "among the paths of the visitation with in the visitation (al-ziyāra fī’l-ziyāra)." QA 7:14 states that God singled out for Joseph "a letter configured in mystery (ḥarf an min al-sirr)". For his two "forefathers" of former times the figures Abraham and Isaac (see Q.12:6b) are allocated "a letter (harfan) within the qabbalistic or alphabetical (?) row (min al-sar) of letters which are again something "veiled in the vicinity of the mystery". These latter figures may relate to the two B’s in the word Bāb, its two letters "A" and "B" , or allude to the antitypes of Muhammad and `Alī (cf. Abraham and Isaac) as the two components of the Bāb’s own name.