Skip to content

Baha'‑Allah and his successors on the Qur'anic Surah of the Cave, Q. 18




Baha'‑Allah and his successors on the Qur'anic Surah of the Cave, Q. 18

Stephen Lambden UC Merced.

1980s +2017,



An important unpublished epistle of Baha'‑Allah is expostitory of Q. 18:59ff.


In a lengthy and extremely interesting untitled letter of Baha'-Allah Dhū'l‑Qarnayn is said to signify (on one level) the `Self' or Logos-Self", the exalted "Person" (nafs) of the Prophet Muhammad who was the locus or possessor of nubuwwa (`prophethood') and wilāya (`divine providence') and was, by virtue of his primordial reality, the Lord of both East and West (see letter in INBMC 56:43‑67 [esp.p.61ff]. cf.also extract from a letter of `Abdu'l‑Baha in Ishraq Khavari (ed)   Ma'ida-yi asmani,  II:43).


Moses and the page-youth al-Khidr (the "Verdant", Green One).


Baha'‑Allah's detailed interpretations of the story of Moses and the youth often identified as Khiḍr are found in his commentary upon Qur'an 13:17[18] and 18:60ff which may date from the latter period of his sojurn or exile in Ottoman Iraq (1863‑1868). He commences his allegorical interpretations as follows:

"Know thou that when Moses attained the most elevated [mystical] levels (maratib al‑a`la), traversed the paths of eternal subsistence (masalik al‑baqā') and was irradiated with the Lights of Might and Grandeur, he desired to draw nigh unto the Tree of the Divine Decree (shajarat al‑qaḍā') and the Lote‑Tree of Realization (sidrat al‑imḍā'). This that he might witness such as is decreed in a Preserved Tablet (lawḥ maḥfūẓ). Whereupon did he say unto the attendant [page, youth], `I shall not give up [but shall keep on walking] until I attain the confluence of the two seas, or [until] I have travelled for a considerable period'

And We expound [interpret] the youth [page] (al‑fata) as his [Moses'] [outer] body (al‑jism) for he [Moses] is the Divine Youth (al‑fata al‑`ilāhī) in whom the sun of Prophethood (shams al‑nubuwwa) radiated forth with the utmost Lordship (bi‑ghayat al‑rabbāniyya) though the people fail to comprehend. He, assuredly, is indeed the youth (fata) who was irradiated with the theophanic effulgences (tajalliyat) of the lights of the kingdom (anwār al‑malakūt) and was sustained by the fruits of the Sinaitic Lote‑Tree (sidrat al‑sinā') which shed light in the Mount of Eternal Subsistence (ṭūr al‑baqā') with a manifest effulgence.

He [Moses] assuredly is the youth [page] (al‑fata) who beareth the mysteries of God (asrār Allāh) and His treasures [as would be evident] if the people did but understand. Though few among the people comprehend this he [Moses] is indeed the shell in which is found the hidden pearl which is the [inner] Being of the [Sinaitic] Speaker (al‑kalim = Moses) and which sparkles with the lights of pre‑existence (anwār al‑qidam) and sheds splendour through the theophanic effulgence of the Sun of the Greatest Name (al‑ism al‑a`ẓam).

Then know , O wayfarer in the paths of God and observer of the Beauty of God that the import of the `confluence of the two seas' (majma al‑baḥrayn) is the [confluence] of the sea of Prophethood (baḥr al‑nubuwwa) and [the sea of] Divinity ( wa'l‑uluhiyya). He [Moses] attained, that is the station (maqam) of union with the ocean of Lordship (bahr al‑rububiyya) which surged in his very essence and every wave of which cried out, `He, verily, no God is there except Him. He created the creation from nothing through His command, `Be! and it is.' (Q.00) and originated existence from nothing through His utterance. And He is the Mighty, the Beloved One.'

On another level we interpret the first sea as the Sea of gnosis (bahr al‑`irfān) and the second as the Sea of [mystical] attainment (bahr al‑wuṣul)...

when He [Moses] attained the confluence of the two seas and the ocean of gnosis was united with the ocean of [mystic] attainment [realization] (as was previously mentioned) "they [two] forgot their fish" as indeed thou do observe. So know that the intention of "fish" in this verse (Q. 18:60/1) is the mundane, earthly modes [of existence] which are known to exist in the outer world. Thus when they [two = Moses] attained to the sea [of the attainment of gnosis] they forgot everything pertaining to the worlds of [earthly] dominion; such [memories] returned to its origin, basis and source. It is a sealed reality since when humanity (al‑insān) is drowned in the sea of mystical gnosis (bahr al‑`irfan) and has attained to the depth of ocean of reality in the worlds of pre‑eternity then are cast off the two "sandals" of the mundane worldly grades (na`layn al‑shu`unat al‑dunyawiyya) and carnal proclivities (al‑shawat al‑nafsaniyya) as thou would  realize if you are of such as comprehend.





Select Bibliography