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QA. 8A



Part  VIII [8]

سورة التوحيد

Sūrat al-tawḥīd

(The Surah of the Divine Unity)

on Qur'ān 12:7

Introduction  Stephen Lambden


Part VIII of the provisional translation of the Qayyúm al-asmā’ (= QA) of the Bāb (mid. 1844/1260) with brief introduction and selective notes consists of a full versified English translation of the Súrat al-tawh*īd  (Surah of the Divine Unity). 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 is often uncertain. The Bāb himself stated that there should be forty verses in each surah of the QA as accords with the  abjad  numerical value of meaning "before me"  in Q. 12:4b  (Ar. لۑ= l + ī = 30+10= 40+ 2 for the "sun" and the "moon") though I often cannot see quite how this figure is arrived at. In QA8 I tentatively count  xx verses and retain versification for the sake of reference and commentary. At times the versification of surahs of the QA at forty verses each may well be symbolic rather than a clear setting down of 40 bayts (verses) of rhymed prose (saj`),  though this seems to hold good in QA1 and QA5.

QA 8 opens with the basmalah followed by the citation of Q.12:7 upon which it briefly comments in rewritten fashion in the course of the Surah of the Divine Unity (Súrat al-Tawḥīd). Four isolated letters (al-ḥurūfāt al-muqaṭṭa`āt) open the Surah proper; the letters A-L-M-Ṣ (Alif - Lām - Mīm- S*ād, abjad 161) which also occur once at the opening of the 7th Surah of the Q. These same four isolated letters (A-L-M-Ṣ) also open another five or six Surahs of the QA (= Surahs 8+24+50+68+71+96 [+97?]). The qur’anic isolated letters A-L-M-Ṣ (Q.7) have been understood chronologically and messianically by the Bab and Baha’-Allah as in certain Shi`i sources. ADD Aside from being neo-qur’anic their exact significance of A-L-M- Ṣ in QA8 is unclear. God,

 QA 8:3 has it raised up Joseph through His "Name" making him a walī (Overseer ) stationed in the vicinity of the celestial Sinaitic Fire (nār). Verse [4] states that God made Joseph and his eleven other brothers (the son of Jacob = Israel) to be twelve in number which is equated with the twelve letter kalimat al-tawḥīd (Word of the Divine Unity) the first portion of the shahada (testimony), lā ilāha ilā Allāh meaning "There is no God but God". QA8:5 appears to indicate that the comic "Mother Book" (umm al-kitab) with the Lord God, contains this 12 letter "Word" written out in a cosmic alphabetic row which is inscribed in the vicinity of the line through which reality in spelled out (?) (fī al-saṭr al-musattār hawl al-saṭr mastūr an ).

Three different letters make four words which composed the 12 lettered phrase la ilaha illa Allah [1] "A" [2] "L" and "H". The "H" was chosen by God for Jospeh "as a reward (jazā') for his incomparable rising up in truth upon the earth on behalf of the All-Merciful on an appointed [eschatological] Day". This numerological understanding of the 12 letter shahāda is also related to those who ask or pose "questions" (li'l-sā'ilīn) though through the Bāb who is the Gate and who is evidently equated with the person of Jospeh. This al-sā’ilīn (such as pose questions) are referred to at the end of Q.12:7b. The questions are understood as those put to and resolved by the Bāb and the Gate, the one privy to the qabbalistic mysteries of the Divine Unity. Joseph, his brothers and the concept of tawhīd (The Divine Unity) are interrelated. Aside from the "questioners" such as are established within the abyss of the Divine Unicity (lujjat al-aḥadiyya) or firmly established around the Gate (al-bāb) are likewise persons aware of the authority of the Bab by virtue of an investigative consciousness.

From QA8:10-15 qur;anic rooted themes of questing and judgement are further elaborated. The issue of the eschatological questioning by God of his fearful creatures is dwelt upon. The morif od the setting up of the al-mizān (the balance) on the Day of Judgement is also present. The covenant (ahd) which God made regarding his messianic "Word" has not let to insight but blasphemy. God created humanity for the purpose of prostration before the All-Merciful "according to the way of the promised Gate (al-bāb)". There are those believers created "from water reckoned sweet in the Mother Book" (.Q.77:20, 27) and those whoae the unbelieving reality was created from "salt water, reckoned bitter in the depth of the blazing hell" (aṣl al-jahīm). Receptive to the Bab are "such as desire God", those of his "sincere and pure towards the Gate" (al-bāb).

 QA 8:26-29 states that by the name Joseph God "intended Our Exalted Word" (al-kalimat al-akbar), made manifest in the vicinity of the [Sinaitic] Fire. Joseph and the Dhikr-Bab seem again equated relative to eschatological realities. The Bab, furthermore, as a revealer of verses seems to be likened to a monk (rūhbān an), one "set apart in holiness" for the sake of God. There may be a glimpse here of the Bab’s aloneness and isolation as the largely misunderstood bearer of God’s message. Though himself "fearful" he is yet an object lesson for his contemporaries. According to QA 8:28 the Bab has taught the people "of such of His signs as the genesis of the hereafter (nash'at al-akhira) " perhcnace they might "be content with God and with His signs".

 At QA 8:29 God’s taking of a covenant (`ahd) is again mentioned. Obedience to it would have meant receptivity to the claims of the Dhikr-Bab. The covenant was taken with "all the worlds" to the end that people might midefully say "If God in His absence hath sent a man/`herald of good tidings' unto ??? Us, His Remnant (baqiyyatahu), then We did but follow him and have been guided by his judgement unto the True One Who is rightly guided.