مَا كَذَبَ الْفُؤَادُ مَا رَأَى
`Abd al-Bahā's Commentary on Qur'ān 53:11
"The inmost heart (al-fū'ād) lieth not about what it envisions".
Trans. Stephen Lambden (Newcastle 1996).
Last revised 11-12-2016.
'Abdu'l-Bahā's Arabic tafsīr / commentary on Qur'ān 53:11, "The [inmost] heart [al-fū'ād] lieth not about what it envisions" is published in Makatib-i Ḥadrat-i 'Abd al-Bahā' volume 2:109-113. For the most part it revolves around a consideration of the fallibility of four time-honoured mawāzin, the "balances" or "criterion of truth".
He is the All-Glorious
 Praised be to God Who hath shined upon the inmost hearts (ashraqa 'alā al-fū'ādiyyāt) with the light of discrimination [maturity] (bi-nūr al-rashād) and illuminateth the hearts (nawwara al-qulūb) with the radiance of the sacred verses (bi-suṭū` āyāt al-quds) through every spirit and apposite thing (bi-kullī rūḥ wa sadād).  He guideth the righteous (al-mukhlisīn) towards the Fountainhed of Gnosis (ma`īn al-'irfān) through the expositions made manifest in the realities of the verses and the words (haqā'iq al-āyāt wa'l-kalimāt). He causeth the seekers (al-ṭālibīn) to set forth towards the world of light ('alām al-nūr) beyond the midst of the [veils of] shadowy darknesses (min buḥbuḥatal-zulmāt).  And peace, benediction and laudation radiate from the glasses of the sanctified hearts (zujajāt al-qulūb al-muqaddas) which overflow with glad-tidings (bishārāt).  He sent down the Faithful Spirit (al-rūh al-amīn) [Gabriel] upon his [Muhammad's] inmost heart (al-fū'ād) with well-established verses (al-āyāt al-muḥkamāt) and his pure and blessed family [the Twelver Imams] with primary evidences and established proofs between the realms of contingent being; by means, that is, of the grace of the True One (fayḍ al-ḥaqq) amongst the realms of existence (al-mawjūdāt).
 So know! O thou who standeth in the Path of God (ṣirat-Allāh), turning unto God and seeking illumination about the deep knowledge [gnosis] of God (ma'rifat Allah) regarding that blessed verse which were revealed in the Criterion (al-furqān), in the genuine Qur'an (bi-saḥīḥ al-qur'ān) where He -exalted be He - saith;
مَا كَذَبَ الْفُؤَادُ مَا رَأَى
"The inmost heart (al-fū'ād) lieth not about what it envisions" (Q. 53:11).
 Within this verse lieth a hidden mystery (sirr al-maknūn), a preserved secret (ramz maṣūn), a radiant reality (ḥaqīqa lāmi'a)extensive modes (shū'ūn jāmi'a), distinct levels of exposition (wāḍih bayyināt) and a far-reaching proof (ḥujja bāligha) for such in existence as are given to prayerful prostration (al-rukka' al-sujūd).  We shall advance something of the exposition of its reality naught but remnants of the elaborate details of the criteria [balances] of understanding (mawāzīn al-idrāk) as exist among the people [Makatib, 2:110>], [considering] their [positive] elucidation (sham) and [negative] refutation (dahd) until it become evident and established through clear demonstration (al-‘iyān) that the Divine Criterion (al-mīzān al-ilāhī) is the inmost heart (al-fū'ād) and the [very] fountainhead of discrimination (manbā' al-rashād).
 Know that among all the religio-philosophical groups (al-ṭawā'if) existing amongst the people there exist four criterion (mawāzīn) through which they weigh up realities, meanings and theological [“divine”; religious] issues (al-haqā'iq wa'l-ma'ānī wa'l-masā'il al-ilāhī).  All of them are defective [imperfect, fallible] (nāqḍa), [for through these] thou can neither quench thirst (al-ghalīl) nor heal the sick (`alīI),  We shall assuredly make mention of every one of them and elucidate their defectiveness (naqḍ), and their being devoid of veracity ('adm ṣidq).
 The first of the criteria (mawāzin) is that of the criterion of sensory perception (mīzān al-ḥiss).  It is the criterion of the bulk of the European philosphers (mīzān jumhūr falāfisa al-afranjj) this era (fī hadhā al-`aṣr).  They assert that it is a complete, perfect criterion (mizān tāmm kāmil) such that if anything is evaluated thereby there is no doubt or uncertainty (shubha wa irtiyāb) attached thereto [respecting its veracity].  The status of this proof as a defective criterion (naqs hadhā al-mīzān) is as evident as the noonday sun (ka’l-shams fī rābita al-nahār)!
 So if thou should gaze at the mirage (al-sarāb) thou wouldst see pleasant water (mā' 'azab an) or something to drink.  And if thou should gaze into mirrors thou wouldst see images ('forms'; ṣuwar an] therein and would be convinced of the reality of their existence.  And the situation is that there is an absense of realty. Nay rather! It merely consists of reflections in the glasses.  And if thou gazest towards a moving point (al-nuqṭa al-jawwāla) thou wouldst suppose it to be a circle or an elongated line but in reality it has no existence whatever though it is apparent to the sight.  And if thou gazest towards the sky [heaven] and its radiant stars thou wouldst see that they appear to be a minute entity though the reality of the matter is that every one of them is the equivalent of manifold, an hundredfold, a thousantl times the circumference of the earth.  And you can see a stationary shadow while, in reality it is fleeting, a continuous radiation (al-shu'ā` mustamirr an); is state is discontinuous (munqaṭ'i).  And [you see] the earth to be a flat expanse while in state is really spherical.
 Wherefore is it established that sensory perception (al-ḥiss), even in terms of the power of vision (al-quwwat al-baṣīra) which is the most powerful of the sensory powers (aqwā al-quwwa al-ḥissiya) is a defective criterion [balance] (nāqiḍa al-mīzān) and an inadequate proof (mukhtallaft al-burhān). So how could it possibly be depended upon for the gnosis of the divine realities ('irfān al-haqā'iq al-ilāhiyya), the All-Merciful Traces (al-āthār al-raḥmaniyya) and the ontologically existent dimensions of being (al-shū'ūn al-kawniyya) (MAB 11:111).
The second criterion ('balance', mīzān) which is depended upon by [both] the [Islamic] Ishrāqīs [“Neo-Platonists”] (ahl al-lshrāq) and the Peripatetic [Aristotelian] sages (al-ḥukamā' al-mashshā'ūn) is the rational criterion (al-mīzān al-'aqli). [It was] likewise with other [foundational] early branches of philosophy in the milieu [environment] of the early and medieval centuries (al-qurūn al-awwaliyya al-wusṭa). They put their trust in the intellect [reason] ('aql) and asserted that whatever is in conformity therewith is something established (al-thābit), evident (al-wāḍih) and proven (al-mubarrhan) about which there hath assuredly never been any hint of doubt (raib), uncertainty (shakk) or obscurity (shubba).
So while these religio-philosophical groups (al-ṭawā'if) one and all, collectively, are dependent upon the rational criterion (al-mīzān al-'aqli), they yet differ over all questions and are divergent in their opinions regarding all realities (al-haqā'iq). So if the rational criterion (al-mīzān al-'aqli) be the equitable (al-'ādil), veridicle (al-ṣādiq), and the sound (al-mafīn) criterion (al-mīzān), it is nonetheless the case that these [religio-philosophical groups (al-ṭawā'if)] differ [markedly] over realities and questions (al-haqā'iq wa'l-masā'il) and the individual judgements (ārā') of the former and latter [peoples] (al-awā'il wa'l-awākhir) diverge. Thus the cause of their differences and their disparity makes it evident that the rational criterion (al-mīzān al-'aqlī) is in no way perfect (kāmil). So if we come to suppose [the rational criterion] is a perfect [complete] criterion then it would assuredly be the case that in weighing 100, 000 persons, agreement over the measure would be attained. So the non-existence of their agreement is more than sufficient evidence for the disparity of the rational criterion (al-mīzān al-'aqli).
The third balance [criterion] is what is transmitted ["tradition" handed down] (naqlī). This [criterion] is likewise inadequate. Humanity (al-insān) is unable to rely thereon for the rational faculty [reason, intellect] (al-`aql) is the means of understanding the tradition (al-mudrik li'l-naql) and is the measure of its balance [the tradition] (mawzin mīzānihi).
Thus, if the foundation is the defective balance of the rational faculty [reason, intellect] (al-'aql), how could its measure (mawzūnihi) which is what is the traditionally transmitted material (al-naqlī) be consistent with reality (yuwāfiq al-ḥaqīqa) and the realization of certitude (yufīd al-yaqīn). This is a matter which is patently obvious. Wherefore, if it be proven that such criteria (al-mawāzin) as are existing amongst the people are all inadequate, and cannot be relied upon for [valid] realizations, they really amount to a confused medley of dreams, speculations and fancies which fail to quench the thirst and do not enrich the seeker after gnosis (al-ṭālib li'l-irfān)" (MAB 11:112).
As for the fourth criterion (balance, mizān). It is the criterion of ilhām (personal intuition-inspiration”). Yet ilhām ("inspiration") consists of promptings of heartfelt intimations (`ibarat 'an khuṭūrāt al-qalbiyya) and devilish [satanic] whisperings (al-wasāwis al-shayṭāniyya). Additionally, it consists of intimations pertaining to the heart (khuṭūrāt tatabbu `alā al-qalb) originating with the human self (wāridāt nafsiyya). Thus if a given meaning or particular question [issue] (ma'anā min al-ma'ānī aw mas'ala min al-masā'il) is realized in the [human] heart (bi-qalb) how can it be known whether it be an All-Merciful inspiration [from the All-Merciful = God] (ilhāmāt raḥmāniyya) or some kind of devilish [satanic] whispering (al-wasāwis al-shayṭāniyya)?
Wherefore, if it be proven that such criteria (al-mawāzin) as are existing amongst the people are all inadequate and cannot be relied upon for [valid] realizations, they in reality amount to a confused medley of dreams, speculations and fancies which fail to quench the thirst and do not enrich the seeker after gnosis (al-tālib li'l-irfān).
Now as for the real, divine [epistemological] criterion [balance] (al-mīzān al-haqīqī al-ilāhī) which is never deceptive (lā yakhtalu abad an) nor disconnected (lā yanfakku). [The divine criterion] comprehends universal realities (al-haqā'iq al-kulliyya) and issues [meanings] of great magnitude (al-ma'ānī al-'azīmat) and is the [epistemological] criterion [balance] of the inmost heart (al-fū'ād) which God mentions in the blessed verse [Q.53:11]. It [al-mīzān = al-fū'ād] is assuredly of the brilliant [radiant] theophanies (tajalliyyāt suṭū'), the Lights of the Divine Grace (anwār al-fayḍ al-ilāhī). It is the All-Merciful Mystery (al-sirr al-raḥmānī), the concrete [existent] Divine manifestation [theophany] (al-zuhūr al-wujdānī) and the Lordly mysterion (al-ramz al-rabbānī).
[In addition] it [al-fū'ād] is a Pre-eternal Grace (fayḍ qadīm) and a Manifest Light (nūr mubīn); a Mighty Bounty (lud 'azīm) indeed! Should God graciously bestow it upon any of his pure-saintly servants (asfiyā') or therewith bountify such as are steadfast among his loved ones, the result would be that such an one would attain the station about which he [Imam 'AIī communicated to Kumayl ibn Ziyād al-Nakhā’ī] - upon him be peace – saying, "Should the veil be uncovered certitude (yaqīn) would in no wise be enriched".
Wherefore is it the case that [both] visionary realization (al-naẓar) and [intellectual] demonstration (al-idtidlāl), even when preeminently realized, yet remain expressive of both feeble mindedness and comprehension. The result is thus dependent upon [these] lesser and greater requirements (muqtaḍayāt). So whatever you consider these lesser and greater factors to be, it will still result in a conclusion which cannot be depended upon. Thus do the individual judgments of the sages diverge (ārā' al-ḥukamā’).
Wherefore also O thou who inclineth towards God!
Purify thine inmost heart (al-fū'ād) from all inhibiting dispositions such as might inhibit soundness in attaining the reality of guidance (haqīqat al-rashād). Then weigh up [estimate] all divine matters through this just (al-ā`dil), certain (al-ṣādiq), mighty (al-'azīm) criterion [al-mīzān al-haqīqī al-ilāhī = al-fū'ād] which God has clarified in the noble Qur'ān and the "Great Announcement" (aL-naba' aL-'azim) such that thou might drink deep of the Fount of Certitude `ayn al-yaqīn), enjoy the Reality of Certitude (ḥaqq al-yaqīn), be guided towards the Straight Path and journey in the Upright Way. And praise be unto God, the Lord of all the worlds.