A REPLY OF SAYYID `AL MUHAMMAD SHIRAZI, THE BAB, (1819-1850)
TO A QUESTION ON THE ALCHEMICAL ELIXIR
Translated c. 1985 from the Arabic mss. in INBMC 67: 203-4.
by Stephen Lambden
Stephen N. Lambden UCMerced.
Written 1980s - Last corrected 8/01/04.
Under revision 2020 - last corrected 22-02-2020.
While both Shaykh Ahmad al-Ahsa'i (d.1826) and his successor Sayyid Kazim Rashti (d. 1259/1843) wrote about alchemical matters and the nature of the so-called `Philosopher's Stone' (al-hajar), both the Bab and Baha'-Allah have responded to questions about this issue, sometimes in considerable, often arcane detail. One of the scriptural Tablets (alwah) of Baha'-Allah known as the Lawh-i iksir ( "Tablet of the Elixir") is addressed to Mirza `Ali Muhammad Varqa' is parrtilally printed in Ishraq Khavari, ed. Ma'ida-yi asmani vol. 1:19f (see this website : .... A response of the Bab to a question about this al-iksir (the elixir) reads as follows, as translated from the Arabic photocopied ms. found in INBMC 67:203-4 :
And now as regards the question about the [Alchemical] Elixir (al-iksir).
Know you that God did not create anything except He deposited within it the "letter" [portion, trace] of the Elixir" (harf al-iksir) in accordance with its level of being.
And as for the [hidden] realities (haqa'iq) of the Elixir. [If you desire to obtain it] then journey with me [Us] unto the divine Throne (al-`arsh) until you have winged your way above it through the assistance available to you; until, that is, you witness the [celestial, Sinaitic] Fire (al-nar) [which is] this Greatest Name of God (ism Allh al-akbar). Then make it to blaze forth so as to remove the covering (al-aib) from the inmost heart (al-fu'ad) then place the [alchemical] retort (al-qar`) upon the brim of the alembic (add al-inbiq) and partake of the fruit of the Tree which emerges from Mount Sinai () above [upon, about] the edge [boundary] (al-hadd) [commensurate with] on the level of the Divine Power (al-qadr) in the midmost heart of the [divine] Power (f sirr al-qadr) and let it pour forth unto its place.
You shall find that the greatest crimson oil (duhn al-amar al-akbar) [shall appear] upon this [Sinaitic] "Fire" (al-nar) more rapidly than the twinkling of an eye (lahm al-basar). In that place you are the very "sign of God" both before God and towards God and likewise in all the worlds according to their capacity; until that is, the matter (al-amr) [the alchemical work] be completed as far as the mineral world (`larn al-jamd).
Wherefore have We concealed from the vision of such as gaze towards that which bears the marks of contrariness (mash`ar al-add) and have laid it down that there, in that leaf (al-waraqa), is the mystery of the two [cosmic] alphabetic lines (sirr al-sarayn) in the two depths (fi al-sirrayn) perchance, that is, some soul might comprehend it.
Thus hath He taught Us [the elixorial mysteries] and of this is God and the Proof [the 12th lmam], in very truth, sufficient witness. And if you truly understand you shall prove able to carry out the "Art of the Elixir" ( an`a al-iksr ) and in that place readily grasp, in very truth, the reality of the matter (haqqat al-amr). And such is well-known on the part of He whom God hath enabled to witness the creation of the earth and the heavens and the creation of His Logos-Self. And there is no power, nor any strength save in God, the Exalted, the Mighty. Blessed be God above that which they have described. And praise be to God the Lord of the worlds.