The word Baha' in Further Sunni and Shi`i Islamic Literatures




The word Baha' in Further Sunni and Shi`i Islamic Literatures.

`Abd al-Qadir Jīlānī (d.1165 CE),

In a lengthy prayer (salāt al-kubrā)  contained in the volume entitled Lordly Graces (Fuyūdāt al-Rabbānī..)   ascribed to `Abd al-Qadir Jīlānī (d.1165 CE), the founder of the Qadirī Sufi fraternity, the Prophet Muammad is called al-nūr al-bahiyy ("the glorious light")  (refer, Jīlānī, Fuyūāt.. 148).

Shihāb al-Dīn Yaḥyā Suhrawardī ( d. 587/1191).

Ḥikmat al-Ishrāq (The Philosophy of Illumination).

"Thus in his essence he [Plato] shall see the Light (al-nur) and the Glory-Splendor-Light-Beaury... (al-baha')".

"(171) The faith of Plato and the master visionaries is not built upon such rhetorical arguments, but upon something else. Plato said: "When freed from my body I beheld luminous spheres." These that he mentioned are the very same highest heavens that some men will behold at their resurrection "on the day when the earth will be changed for another earth and heavens, and will appear before Cod, the One, the 'Triumphant" (Qur'an 14:48]. Plato and his companions showed plainly that they believed the Maker of the universe and the world of intellect to be light when they said that the pure light is the world of intellect. Of himself Plato said that in certain of his spiritual conditions he would shed his body and become free from matter. Then he would see light and splendor within his essence. He would ascend to that WI-encompassing divine cause and would seem to be located and suspended in it, beholding a mighty light in that lofty and divine place. The passage of which this is a summary ended with the words "but thought veiled that light from me." (Suhrawardi, Hikmat al-Ishraq, text p. XX trans. Ziai + Walbridge, 110).

 In his Ḥikmat al-ishrāq  Suhrawardī makes mention of the faith of the Greek philosopher Plato which went beyond mere “convincing arguments” (al-iqnā`iyyāt). He himself allegedly indicated (as argued on the basis of the so-called “[Pseudo-]Theology of Aristotle”) that, freed from the body, he had seen aflāk al-nūraniyya (“luminous spheres-firmaments”). For Suhrawardī this meant that he saw “the very same highest heavens (al-samāwāt al-`aliyy) that some men will behold at their resurrection (qiyāmat)” (as alluded to in Q. 14:48). Conscious of the fact that the “Source of Everything” (mabda’ al-kull) and the  “World of the Intellect” (`ālam al-`aql)  are “Light” (nūr), the Shaykh al-Ishrāq had it that Plato felt that he would one day experience “Light” (al-nūr) and splendor (al-bahā’) in his very essence (dhātihi) (Ḥikmat, 110). The word baha' here is used as being synonymous or in some sense supplementary to that "Light" which is the apex and centre of everything.

al-Suhrawardī, Shihab aI-Din Yaḥyā.

  • Ḥikmat = Ḥikmat al-Ishrāq (The philosophy of illumination), ed. and trans. H. Ziai and J. Walbridge, Islamic Translations Series. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1999

The Mi`rāj nāmah ("The Celestial Ascent").

A Persian work entitled Mi`rāj nāmah ("The Celestial Ascent")  is attributed to both Avicenna (d. 1087 CE) and Yaḥyā Suhrawardī (d.1192 CE), the founder of the Illuminationist (Ishrāqī) school. Within it the Arabic word bahā is associated with the Persian farr (which may also signify radiant "glory"). It is stated that the Prophet Muhammad in a pre-visionary state, "between waking and sleep", recounted that "Suddenly Gabriel the Archangel descended in his own form, of such beauty [bahā],  of such sacred glory [farr],  of such majesty that all my dwelling was illuminated." The same association of bahā and farr  occurs in an angelogical context in a subsequent line towards the end of this account of, and mystical commentary  upon, the ascent (mi`rāj) of the Arabian Prophet, " Over against the valley, I saw an angel in meditation, perfect in Majesty, Glory [farr], and Beauty [bahā]." This angel is stated to have been named Michael, "the greatest of the Angels." (See Corbin, Avicenna..  Ch.IV: 165ff., esp. p.171 + fn.13 and p.175 + fn.25.; the Arabic word bahā'  can also signify radiant `beauty').  

Bibliography, Suhrawardī, Shihāb al-Dīn Yaḥyā ( d. 587/1191)

  • Ḥikmat = Ḥikmat al-Ishrāq (The philosophy of illumination), ed. and trans. H. Ziai and J. Walbridge, Islamic Translations Series. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1999
  • Hayākil = Hayākil al Nūr (Temples of Light). Introd. And critical edition by Mohamed Abou Rayan= Muḥammad ʻAlī Abū Rayyān. Cairo: al-Maktaba al-Tiǧāriyya al-Kubrā / Cairo: Grans Librarie Commerciale, 1957.
  • Œuvres Philosophiques et Mystiques. ed. Nasr & Corbin . Tome III. Œuvres en Persan. Tehran & Paris, 1970.
  •  1970 (ed. Nasr & Corbin) Oeuvres Philosophiques et Mystiques. Tome III. Oeuvres en Persan. Tehran & Paris, 1970.
  • Hikmat = The Philosophy of Illumination. A New critical  edition of of Ḥikmat al-Ishrāq with English translation, Notes, Commentary and Introduction. John Walbridge and Hossein Ziai. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1999.

al-Miqdād ibn `Abdu'llāh al-Ḥillī (d.826/1422-3),

The word bahā' is furthermore, sometimes contained in numerous Islāmic theological, mystical and other literatures. al-Miqdād ibn `Abdu'llāh al-Ḥillī (d.826/1422-3), for example, in the course of discussing the impossibility of an anthropopathic Essence of Divinity -- God's having such emotions as joy and anguish -- in his Irshād al-Tālibīn ilā nahju'l-mustarshidīn ("The Guidance of Seekers unto the Path of Travellers")  writes that the "Necessarily Existent" (wājib al-wujūd  = God) by virtue of His being "the origin of every perfection and the cause of all bahā'  ("glory") and  jamāl   ("beauty") has the perfection of perfections and  the bahā' al-ajmal   ("most beauteous glory")." Furthermore, "all bahā'   ("glory"),  jamāl   ("beauty") perfection (kamāl) and rational good are God's, for He is the Beloved One and the One Adored... the Necessarily Existent is He Who is in the acme of kamāl  ("perfection"), jamāl   ("beauty") and bahā'  ("glory")..." (p.235).