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QA 32A





 سورة الحیّ

 Sūrat al-Ḥayy

("The Surah of the Living One")


Introductory Note

Stephen N. Lambden 2010.

The thirty second part of my provisional translation of  the Qayyūm al-asmā’ (= QA) of the Bāb (mid. 1844/1260) with selected notes was begun in the early 1980s and is now being corrected. I have not translated from a critical edition but consulted several good mss. The versification of the surahs is sometimes uncertain. The Bāb himself stated that there should be forty-two verses in each surah of the QA as accords with the  abjad  numerical value of lī   meaning "before me"  in Q. 12:4b  (Ar. لي = l + ī = 30+10= 40) and another two representative of "the sun and the moon" (40+2 = 42). This figure is explicitly confirmed in the Bāb's Khuṭba al-dhikriyya (" The Sermon of the Remembrance") where it is stated in the context of an imamologically numbered categorization of the early works (dating from 1260-1262 AH):

"The Fourth [revelational categorization] is the Ḥusaynid Book (kitāb al-ḥusayniyya)  which is the Commentary upon the Surah of Joseph  (Sharḥ Sūrat Yūsuf = Tafsīr Sūrat Yūsuf = Qayyūm al-asmā') -- upon him be peace -- which is divided up into one hundred and eleven firmly established [clearly delineated] ( muḥkamat) surahs. Every one of them is made up of forty two verses. These constitute a sufficient [messianic] testimony unto whomsoever exists  upon the earth or lieth beneath the Divine Throne (al-`arsh)..." (cited Afnan 2000: 472; cf. 445).

        The same 42 mode of surah versification of the QA., is evident in certain mss. of this work; most notably the early 1261  (QA ms. 1261) Muhammad Mahdī ibn Karbalā'ī, mss.   where  QA1 and 2 (and other surah headings) have following words after the surah title and  in between the basmala,     wa hiya ithnā' [tāni] wa arba`ūn "and it [the Surah] has forty two verses". Yet, having said this,  in QA32 I have versified very tentatively,  especially in the last few verses. 

        QA 32 is entitled `The Surah of the Living'  or the `Surah of the Living One' (surat al-hayy). The word حیّ   Ḥayy is one of the most important Names of God, of the `Essence of God' (dhāt Allāh). It is among the traditional ninety-nine 'Most Beautiful' Names spoken about by the prophet Muhammad according to both Sunni and Shi`i collections of tradition. Ḥayy has an abjad numerical value of 18 : H = 8 and Y = 10 total = 18.  The Bab's first disciples were called the hurufat al-hayy as they were 18 in number. Aside from this al-hayy has a key position among the most centrally important Names of God. It is several times paired in the Qur'an, as very frequently in Babi and Baha'i sacred writings, with the Name of God al-qayyum ("the Self-Subsisting"). God is often called  الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ   al-hayy al-qayyum = "the Living, the Self-Subsisting". A key example is found towards the beginning of the qur'anic آية الكرسى (`Throne Verse', ayat al-kursī) (Q. 2:255).

 The Qur'anic Context: Zulaykha and the women of the court (Q. 12:23ff)

12:23 The lady of the house [ Zulaykha] where he lived tried to seduce him [Joseph]. She closed the doors and said, "I am all yours." He said, "May God protect me. He is my Lord, who gave me a good home. The transgressors never succeed." 12:24 She almost succumbed to him, and he almost succumbed to her, if it were not that he saw a proof from his Lord. We thus diverted evil and sin away from him, for he was one of our devoted servants. 12:25 The two of them raced towards the door, and, in the process, she tore his garment from the back. They found her husband at the door. She said, "What should be the punishment for one who wanted to molest your wife, except imprisonment or a painful punishment?" 12:26 He said, "She is the one who tried to seduce me." A witness from her family suggested: "If his garment is torn from the front, then she is telling the truth and he is a liar. 12:27 "And if his garment is torn from the back, then she lied, and he is telling the truth." 12:28 When her husband saw that his garment was torn from the back, he said, "This is a woman's scheme. Indeed, your scheming is formidable. 12:29 "Joseph, disregard this incident. As for you (my wife), you should seek forgiveness for your sin. You have committed an error." 12:30 Some women in the city gossiped: "The governor's wife is trying to seduce  her servant. She is deeply in love with him. We see that she has gone astray."

فَلَمَّا سَمِعَتْ بِمَكْرِهِنَّ أَرْسَلَتْ إِلَيْهِنَّ وَأَعْتَدَتْ لَهُنَّ مُتَّكَأً وَآتَتْ كُلَّ وَاحِدَةٍ مِّنْهُنَّ سِكِّينًا وَقَالَتِ اخْرُجْ عَلَيْهِنَّ فَلَمَّا رَأَيْنَهُ أَكْبَرْنَهُ وَقَطَّعْنَ أَيْدِيَهُنَّ وَقُلْنَ حَاشَ لِلّهِ مَا هَـذَا بَشَرًا إِنْ هَـذَا إِلاَّ مَلَكٌ كَرِيمٌ َ

12:31 When she [Zulaikha] heard of their gossip, she invited them, prepared for them a comfortable place, and gave each of them a knife. She then said to him, "Enter their room." When they saw him [Joseph], they so admired him [Jospeh], that they cut their hands. They said, "Glory be to God, this is not a human being; this is an honorable angel."

 12:32 She said, "This is the one you blamed me for falling in love with. I did indeed try to seduce him, and he refused. Unless he does what I command him to do, he will surely go to prison, and will be debased." 12:33 He said, "My Lord, the prison is better than giving in to them. Unless You divert their scheming from me, I may desire them and behave like the ignorant ones." 12:34 His Lord answered his prayer and diverted their scheming from him. He is the Hearer, the Omniscient." (trans. Rashad Khalifa adapted Lambden). 

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