Skip to content

The word Baha' in traditions ascribed to the twelver Imams and select Shi`i Islamic literatures.



The word Baha' in traditions ascribed to the twelver Imams and select Shi`i Islamic literatures. A compilation with Translations.

Stephen Lambden UC Merced

The word Bahá' in the traditions of the Imáms

Last updated 10-12-2020

The traditions of the Twelver Shí`í Imáms are viewed quite positively and often cited by the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh. 

The first Imam  Ali ibn Abi Tālib, d. 40/661.

The Khutba al-Tutunjiyya / tatanjiyya  (loosely, "The Sermon of the Gulf").

A variety of Bābī and Bahā'ī scriptural sources have been influenced by an Arabic oration attributed to Imām `Alī (d.66) which is said to have been delivered between Kufah and Medina and is known as  Khutba al-Tutunjiyya / tatanjiyya  (loosely, "The Sermon of the Gulf"; cf Lambden, Sinaitic  84-5, 160). It was very highly regarded and quite frequently cited or alluded to by the first two Shaykhī leaders and by the Bāb and Bahā'u'llāh. Towards the end of this sermon reference is made to the latter-day sign of the miraculous transformation of the pebbles [or gravel] of Najaf (near Kúfa in Iraq; the site of the shrine of Imām `Alī) into precious jewels (jawhar an). These treasures, which God will scatter under the feet of the true believers, will render other precious stones relatively valueless. This unparalleled sign is associated with the radiant, confirmatory manifestation of the Divine diyā' ("splendour") and bahā ("glory") (see Bursī, Mashāriq, 169).  


The  fifth Imam Imām Muhammad al-Bāqir, d. c. 80/669-700.

The Du`ā  Saḥar


دعاء البهاء

Supplication of Glory-Beauty (al-bahā')

(Ramaḍān Dawn Prayer) of Imam Muhammad al-Bāqir.

 The opening lines of the Dawn Prayer of Muhammad al-Baqir.

O my God! I beseech Thee by Thy Bahā' (Splendor)

at its most splendid (abhā') for all Thy Splendor (bahā') is truly resplendent (bahiyy). I, verily, O my God! beseech Thee by the fullness of Thy Splendor (bahā').

The  Du`a al-Shahr (Dawn Prayer) or Du`a al-Baha' of Imam Muhammad al-Baqir as relayed through  Imam `Ali al-Rida'

Among the most important occurrences of the word bahá' in Shí`í Islámic literatures is in an Arabic invocatory prayer attributed to Imám Muhammad al-Báqir (677--732 CE) the fifth of the Twelver Shí`í Imáms.  The eighth Shí`í Imám, Riḍá' (d. 818 CE.), who transmitted this prayer, reckoned that it contained the "Greatest Name" of God (al-ism al-a`am).  It is a prayer to be recited at dawn during Ramadan (Du`á Sahar), the Muslim month of fasting. The word bahá or a derivative of the same root is contained some five times within it's opening words;

"O my God! I beseech Thee by thy Bahá'  in its supreme splendour (abhá')  for all Thy bahá' is truly luminous (bahíyy). I, verily, O my God, beseech Thee by the fullness of Thy bahá  !" 

This prayer continues in like manner, substituting the word bahá' and its derivatives with all the other of the 19 Divine Attributes utilized by the Báb in the Bábí-Bahá'í calendar -- first set forth in the (Báb's) Kitábu'l-Asmá' ("Book of Names" c.1849) and later ratified by Bahá'u'lláh in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas ("Most Holy Book" c. 1873). The scheme of names within it, directly or indirectly, lies behind a good many Bábí-Bahá'í scriptural uses of bahá' -- frequently, for example, in the Báb's Kitáb-i-panj sha'n ("The Book of the Five Grades"). It is quoted in the (Persian) Dalá'il-i-Sab`a ("The Seven Proofs" c. 1848/9?) where its first five lines are regarded as an allusion to the Prophet Muammad and the other "people of the cloak" (ahl al-kisá' see Qur'án 33:32; namely,`Alī, Fáṭima, Ḥasan and Ḥusayn; see pp. 58-9).

The sixth Imam Imām Ja`far al-Ṣādiq, d. c. 80/669-700.

Possibly based on and echoing the Dawn Prayer of Ramaḍan is the following spontaneous supererogatory supplication for the month of Ramaḍan transmitted by Abī `Abd Allāh (Imām Ja`far al-Ṣādiq, d. c. 80/669-700) cited in Majlisī's Biḥār al-anwār  from al-Iqbāl   of Sayyid Raḍi al-Dīn ibn Ṭāwūs (589/1193-664/1266),  

O my God!

I verily, ask Thee by Thy Name which is inscribed in the pavilion of glory (surādiq al-majd) and

I beseech Thee by Thy Name which is inscribed in the pavilion of Splendour  (surādiq al-bahā'). 

I verily, ask Thee by Thy Name which is inscribed in the pavilion of Grandeur (surādiq al-`aẓamat)  and

I beseech Thee by Thy Name which is inscribed in the pavilion of  radiant Power (surādiq al-jalāl).

 I verily, ask Thee by Thy Name which is inscribed in the pavilion of Might (surādiq al-`izzat)  and

I beseech Thee by Thy Name which is inscribed in the pavilion of Secrets (surādiq al-sarā'ir)  which is Foremost (al-s_b_q), Paramount (al-fā'iq), Beauteous (al-husn),  and Splendid (al-na_r). And by the Lord of the Eight [Arch-] Angels (al-malā'ikat al-thamāniyyat)  and the Lord of the Mighty Celestial Throne (rabb al-`arsh al-`aẓīm)." (Cited Majlisī, Biḥār2 58:43 trans. Lambden).

Six celestial pavilions surrounding the Divine are spoken about in this supplication relative to specific Divine attributes. They are occasionally mentioned in Bābī-Bahā'ī scripture.


Ibn Tāwūs = Raḍī al-Dīn 'Alī ibn. Mūsā ibn Ṭāwūs al-Hasanī al-Ḥillī (d. 664/1226)/ Raḍī al-Dīn ibn Ṭāwūs (1193-1266 CE).

  •  Muhaj al-du'awāt wa Manhaj al-`Abadāt, Tehran, 1416
  •  Muhaj al-da'awāt wa Manhaj al-`Abadāt, ed. Shaykh Ḥusayn al-A`lami, Beirut: Mu`assasat al-A`lamī, 1414/1993 (480pp.)

The Lifeblood of the Supplications.. (Muhaj al-da`wāt..)  is a compilation of prayers attributed to the Prophet Muhammad and the Twelver Imāms compiled by Raḍī al-Dīn ibn Ṭāwūs (1193-1266 CE). Within it is an Arabic prayer attributed to the Prophet Muhammad which came to be entitled Du`a al-ḥujub  (The Supplication of the Veils). It contains the following line which associates the word  بهاء   bahā'  with the Sinaitic theophany [19]:

"I beseech Thee [God] by the Names (al-asmā')   through which Thou didst manifest Thy glory (tajallayta)  before the Speaker [al-kalīm, Moses] upon the mighty mountain [Sinai]. When sunbeams of the light of the Veils [of Light hiding the Divinity] were manifested from the بهاء bahā' ("splendor" or “glory-beauty”) of the Divine Grandeur (al-`azimat)  such that the mountain was leveled" (cf. Qur'ān 7:143). [20] 

            Bahā’-Allāh, it will be recalled, mystically identified himself with the Divine Being Who conversed with Moses on the Sinai of inner realization. Relative to Bābī-Bahā'ī scripture the use of the word bahā' ("splendour/glory") here for the divine theophany upon Sinai, is prophetically significant (see below). It is of interest that in one of his writings the Bāb identified the "Greatest Name" with the Divine Reality which appeared to Moses on Sinai (INBA. MS 6003C 173-188). Indeed, in his Qayyūm al-asmā  sūra  LXXVII (77) he also reckoned the vehicle of this Divine manifestation the "Light of Bahā'"  (cf. below). 

Theologians,  Mystics, Poets and Philosophers of the Safavid Era

The word بهاء   Bahā'  in Select Writings of Ṣadr al-Din Shirazi (d.1050/1640)  known as Mullā Ṣadrā.

The  ḥikmat al-muta`āliyya (Transcendent Wisdom)



Mullā Muḥsīn Fayḍ al-Kāshānī (d.1091/1680), Mullā Ṣadrā’s student and son-in-law.


Tafsīr al-Ṣāfī fī tafsīr kalām Allāh al-wāfī (The Pristine Tafsīr...) 

Sayyid Hāshīm al-Baḥrānī (d. c.1110 /1697) author of the Kitāb al-burhān fī tafsīr al-Qur’ān (The Book
of the Evidence in the Commentary on the Qur’ān).

`Abd `Alī al-Ḥuwayzī (d.1112/1700), author of the Kitāb tafsīr nūr al-thaqalayn
(The Book of the Commentary on the Light of the Twin Weights)