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A Commentary on the Lawḥ-i kull al-Ta`ām (The Tablet of All-Food, c. 1854).

Opening of the Lawḥ-i kull al-ta`ām in INBMC 36.

A Commentary on the Lawḥ-i kull al-Ta`ām (The Tablet of All-Food, c. 1854), revised from the Baha'i Studies Bulletin (June 1984).  

Stephen N. Lambden,  UC Merced, 

The Lawḥ-i kull al-ta`ām (The Tablet of All-Food, c. 1854) is one of the earliest extant scriptural writings or Tablets (lawh, plural alwah) of Mirza Husayn `Ali Nuri, entitled Baha'-Allah, the splendour or radian  "Glory of God" (b. Tehran, 1817- d. Acre, Palestine, 1892). It was first fully translated into English by the present writer thirty-six years ago in June 1984 (or slightly earlier) and published with a brief commentary in the (now discontinued since 1993) academic periodical The Baha'i Studies Bulletin distributed from Newcastle upon Tyne, the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, in NE. England.

THE TABLET OF ALL FOOD - Text, Translation, Notes and Commentary.

Stephen Lambden, October 2020 > 2022.

In Progress - last updated 29-12-2021.

لوح كلّ الطّعام

Lawḥ-i kull al-Ṭa`ām.


هو المقتدر علی ما يشاء بامر من لدنه و هو اللّه كان علی كل شئ  قديرا

He is Supremely Powerful (al-muqtadir) in accomplishing that which He Willeth through a Logos-Command (bi'l-amr) on His part. And He is God, ever One Powerful (qadir an) over all things (kull shay').

Comment on the above, dual huwa, "He is" prefixes.

The intoductory prescript here - there seems to be no basmala (In the name of God ...) or Babi type neo-basmala - falls into two halves (0a and 0b) both commencing with  huwa phrases meaning "He / God is" is very common Islamic literary and theological phrase indicative of God's transcendance and more besides :

(0a)   هو المقتدر علی ما يشاء بامر من لدنه

"He is Supremely Powerful (al-muqtadir) in accomplishing that which He Willeth through a Logos-Command (bi'l-amr) on His part".

As far as the text here is concerned,  the Ishraq Khavari printing (probably incorrectly) has   علی ما تشاء  (according to what Thou willest", in Ma'ida-yi asmani IV: 265) for علی ما يشاء  ("according to what He willeth"). The latter reading accords with that in the (partially cited) handwritten ms. of volume IV of the Kitab-i zuhur al-haqq of the learned Baha'i scholar Fadil-i Mazandarani (d. 1957) where the clearly written opening of the Lawḥ-i kull al-Ṭa`ām ( KZH IV page 132 line 13) is as follows : 

This initial huwa theological statement celebrates God as being al-Muqtadir, "One Supremely Powerful" or the "All-Determiner" to give an alternative translation. Though the Divine Name or Attribute Qadir , 'Powerful. Omnipotent', etc occurs around 45 times in the Qur'an, God as al-Muqtadir is non-Qur'anic though this name of God from the same Arabic root (q-d-r) is often counted  among the traditional 99 Names of God as it is for al-Ghazzali, in his al-Maqṣad al-asnā fī sharḥ ma`ānī asmā’ Allāh al-ḥusnā, no. 70 (see below).

That God demonstrates His Powerful decree through His amr, His Command, Cause or Logos-Command reflects many verses of the Qur'an (see Q. 2:100, 117; 3:47, 154; 7: 54; 9:24; 11:43ff; 16:2; 17:85; 19:39; 21:27; 30:4; 36:82;  45:18; 65:5ff., etc.). Amr sometimes has senses that parallel those given the Divine kalimat or "Word" in the New Testament, Jesus being  the (Greek) Logos or "Word" (Ar. kalimat) which was "in the beginning with God (John 1:1ff). The word amr  (command, Cause, `Logos-Empowered Directive') is very frequent in Babi-Baha'i literatures as well as in Islamic Tafsir, Hadith,  `Irfani, mystical and other sources.

Something of the weight of the word al-amr ("the Command") can be seen in the famous Sunni Tafsir (Qur'an Commentary) entitled Anwār al-tanzil wa-asrār al-ta'wil (The Lights of Revelation and the Mysteries of Interpretation) of  'Abd Allāh ibn 'Umar al-Bayḍāwī (d. 685/1286). In the course of his commenting on Q. 7: 54 in this work, more specifically  that God "sat Himself upon the Throne"  in the light of the phrase "His is the creation and the command" (la-hu al-khalq wa'l-amr), this commentator associates the Divine enthronement with the exalted amr as the Power of God:

Then sat Himself upon the Throne ('arsh): Then his power (amr) was placed (on the Throne), or he took possession (of the Throne). According to our followers, the sitting upon the Throne is an attribute of God (which one accepts) 'without (asking) how' (bi-lā kaifa).  This means that when one says that God sits upon the Throne, then, in the same manner as he himself has said this (in the Qur'ān), in so doing one must keep free from (the idea) of residing or of being settled in a place. The Throne is the substance which surrounds all other substances. It is so designated because it is high, or as a simile for the seat of the ruler, since all things and regulations come down from it. Others say that the Throne signifies the lordship (mulk) (of God) ... (trans. Gatje, The Qur'an and its Exegesis (trans. A.T. Welch. Berkeley, Los Angeles : Univ. Calif. Press, 1976), p. 149).

In a Babi-Baha'i theological context the all-powerful amr of God is often focused in his mazhar-i ilahi, the Divine Manifestation who carries out his command (amr) and establishes His Cause (amr). He is an expression of the Amr Allah, the powerful Command or Cause of God. The power of God in the world of creation is executed through His amr. Examples within the writings of Baha'u'llah include the following lines from the ADD

In his Persian Kitab-i Īqān (Book of Certitude. dating to 1861 or 2) there is reference Moses' coming with the "staff" or "rod"  of the divine amr:

That holiness [Moses] appeared with the rod of the [divine] command [power] (`aṣa-yi amr) and the right-hand of gnosis (bayḍā’-yi ma`rifat). He came from the Paran of divine love (fārān–i muḥabbat-i ilāhī), with the serpent of power (thubā–i qudrat) and the all-enduring majesty (shawkat-i ṣamadāniyya) from the Sinai of light (sīnā- yi nūr)... (Kitab-i Īqān, 8-9).

(0b) و هو اللّه كان علی كل شئ  قديرا

"And He is God, ever One Powerful (qadir an) over all things (`ala kull shay')".

Here the reading `ala kull shay is  written (by Mazandarani) as bi-kull shay' (in KZH IV , see above). It is hard to decide here which reading is correct, the `ala kull shay' or the bi-kull shay' , though if a Qur'anic precedent is paramount, the preferred or better reading would be `ala kull shay' which I have retained. In fact Qur'an 3:29b (almost identical with 02)  reads as follows :

"Say: If ye conceal what is in thy breasts or ye reveal it, God is aware thereof. And He well knoweth  that which is in the heavens and upon the earth. And God  is Powerful/ Well-aware of (qadir an)  over all things".

This second huwa phrase is then closely paralleled in the Qur'an (see above). God is said to be one Powerful (qadir an) over (or fully aware of) kull shay', "everything" or "all things" more than thirty times. In fact this is closely reiterated (at least)  thirty-two times in the Qur'an. For a more or less complete list see  Q.2:20b; 106b, 109b, 248b: 3:26b, 29b, 165b, 189b; 5:17b, 19b, 40b, 120b; 6: 17b; 8:41b; 9:39b; 11:4b; 16:77b; 22:6b; 24:45b; 29:20b; 30:50b; 33:27b; 35:1b; 41:39b; 42:9b; 46:33b; 48:21b; 57: 2b; 59:6b; 64:1b; 65:12 and 67:1b. Cf. also  4:133b; 139b; 16:70b; 25:54b; 33:44b; 35:44b; 42: 29b, 50b; 60:7b; 66:8b, etc  It should be noted the vast majority of thr Qur'anic statements maintaing that  God is "Powerful over all things (kull shay')" serve to supplement or confirm preceding testmonies to the great powers or workings of God; hence the references have the adjacent letter b meaning (loosely) in the second half of the verse. See above and here is an example, from Qur'an 2: 109b.

  "God is Powerful / Well-Aware of everything".

This second huwa phrase also closely follows the style of the Qur'an rooted Qayyum al-asma'. There we find many partial parallels such as the following words from the 32nd Surat al-Hayy (The Surah of the Living One) where we read:   و هو اللّه كان علی كلّ شیء شهيداً  "And He is God who hath ever been Witness (shahid an) unto everything" (QA. XXXII [32] INBMC III:58).

While the Qur'an 32 times underlines that God is powerful over everything, Baha'u'llah at the commencement of the Lawḥ-i kull al-Ṭa`ām has this oft repeated Islamic theological axiom supplement his previous huwa celebration of the supreme power of God, al-muqtadar, His Will operating through his  latter-day, eschatological amr (Cause, Logos-Command). That God is qadir "powerfyl" or informed about something or "everything" indicates that it is part of His foreknowledge in conformity with His Will and purpose. So significant was the Qur'anic and early Muslim acknowledgement of God being Powerful over or well-aware of everything, that qur'anic text to this effect was inscribed on the inner face of an octagonal arcade within the celebrated first century AH `Dome of the Rock' (c. 72/691; see Donner,2010, App. B, 233-4).

The above mentioned  kullu shay' phrase ("everything", "all things"), one might add, is very central to the theological "pleroma" (fullness) paradigm, the comprehensive totality of the universe of  the discourse of the Bab. This most especially since kull shay' in Arabic has an abjad numerical value of 361 which is 19x19 . Thus, k= 20+ l = 30+ sh =300 + y = 10 + hamza = 1 , total = 361). The kull shay' phrase is frequent in the Qur'an and in the writings of the Bab. It has an important place in his Persian and Arabic Bayans ("Expositions") and, for example, in the Kitab al-asma' or (Book of Names, c.1849) and the Kitab-i panj sha`n (`Book of the Five Modes of Revelation', 1850). See further the Hurqalya webpage on the Kitab al-asma' of the Bab on this website.

It should be added here that two huwa phrases (= 0a+0b) at the commencement of the Lawh-i kull al-Ta`am  place some emphasis on the omnipotent power of God to accomplish things or put things right during a period of leadership crisis and inadequate or failed  guiance regarding the meaning of sacred texts. Perhaps, rather than registering a merciful standard basmala or a high theological Babi version ( a neo-basmala), Baha'u'llah felt it necessary to emphasize  the continuity of divine guidance through him as an expression of Divine Power when the Babi community was all but falling apart. In some respects the Lawḥ-i kull al-Ṭa`ām has threads of sadness and lamentation but this along with testimonies of strength, brilliance and fortitude. Another reason might be to reflect and echo the Qayyum al-asma' of the Bab in which this phrase is very common.

The Almighty knowledge and Power of God (Qadir) in the Qayyum al-asma'

It is also extremely important to note here that the words  و هو اللّه كان علی كلّ شیء قديراً  - exactly paralleling Lawh-i Kull al-ta`am 0b above are found in the Qayyum al-asma' and other writings of the Bab.  In the accusative, as  قديراً (qadir an) this word often occurs at the end of specific verses  of the Qayyum al-asma'. Here qadir is frequently found in the accusative more than one hundred and fifty times; around 157 times to be exact, perhaps once or more every surah, 111 surahs  in all. This is more then three times the frequency of qadir phrases or accusative endings in the Qur'an.  Thus in the Surah  for the Clerics (The Surat al-`ulama' = QA II) we read :

و انّ الذّكر لحقّ من عند اللّه بالحقّ و كان اللّه علی كلّ شیء قديراً

"The Dhikr (Remembrance) is indeed, in very Truth,  the True One (haqq) from God and God hath ever been All-Powerful/ Well-Informed (qadir an) of/ over everything (`ala kull shay')." (QA INBMC III: 5. cf. also another example in ibid p.6).

A few further examples within the Qayyum al-asma'  include :

Surat al-Ayman (The Surah of the Faith Confirmed). This Surah opens  after the basmala, etc as follows:

  اللّه قد انزل القرآن علی عبده ليعلم النّاس انّ اللّه قد كان علی كلّ شیء قديراً

"God did indeed send down the Qur'an unto His servant to the end that the people might be informed. God hath ever been All-Powerful (qadir an) over everything (`ala kull shay')." (QA INBMC III:6).

Surat al-`Ama' The Surah of the Theophanic Cloud (QA. X) :

ه فسبحان الّذی قد نزّل آياته كما شاء بما شاء و هو اللّه قد كان علی كلّ شیء قديراً ه

"So Glorified be God who hath indeed sent down His verses just as He willeth in whatsoever manner He willeth for God hath ever been All-Powerful (qadir an) over everything (`ala kull shay')." (QA INBMC III:17).

This exact phrase - و هو اللّه قد كان علی كلّ شیء قديراً ه  - also occurs several times in QA 11 and is the last component of Qayyum al-asma' XXIX [29] verse 15, in the suggestive and prophetic Surat al-Huriyya, The Surah of the Maiden (see below on I.c), There is a close relationshp between the `Tablet of All Food' and the Qayyum al-asma', especially QA Surah  XXIX [29, Surat al-Huriyya] evocative of the Siyah Chal experience of Baha'u'llah in the dark pit of the dungeon in Tehran in the year "nine" 1269 AH or late1852 into October 1853 CE. This is confirmed by the frequent use of و هو اللّه قد كان علی كلّ شیء قديراً ه at the very beginning of the passage of the Lawḥ-i kull al-Ṭa`ām being commented upon here.

From a Haykal (`Star Tablet') in the handwriting of the Bab.

Above is an excerpt of an enlarged segment of one of the so-called `Star Tablets' (Haykal) of the Bab in his own handwriting (date c. 1849-50)  including several Dhikr -type refrains or repetitions of the phrase inna-hu kāna `ala kull shay' qadir an  "He, verily, hath ever been Powerful over everything"- original held in the British Library Ms. Or 6887. Publication Details: 05-11-2019 ; 'The Bab’s Star Tablet' on the British Library's website'. See

The Commencement of the Sūrat al-kifāya  of Baha'u'llah (c. early 1850s)

Commencement of the Sūrat al-kifāya of Baha'u'llah

Finally in this connection, we may note that a probably early 1850s Tablet of Baha'u'llah entitled the Sūrat al-kifāya (The Surah of the Sufficiency) which commeces as shown in the image above, also contains a basic neo-basmala  followed by the Qur'an related and Qayyum al-asma' rooted  huwa verse indicative of the muqtadir an ("Supreme Power")  of God (as in Lawh-i kull al-ta`am, 01a  = see above). It may be translated as follows (including its prescript announcing its title):

This is the  Sūrat al-kifāya  (Sura of the Sufficiency). It was assuredly sent down on the part of the True One (min al-ḥaqq) regarding the question of knowledge  (fī jawāb al-`ilm).

In the Name of God, who, no God is there except Him. And He is God (huwa Allah) who  hath even been Supremely Powerful over all things (kana bi-kull shay' muqtadir an).

See further `Baha'-Allah - Sūrat al-kifāya (Sura of the Sufficiency)'

Lawḥ-i kull al-ta`ām [I] Text and Commentary


الحمد للّه مموج ابحر النور بالماء النارية الالهيه و مهيج احرف الظهور بالنقطة العمائية الفردانيه و مطور طور الغيبيه من فلك الظهور نفس البطون وجهة الازلانيه و مكور نقطة الربوبيه من طرز الابهية الصمدانية ليشهدن الكل بانه هو الحق لا اله الا هو و انّه لهو الفرد الاحد الصمد الذی لم يلد و لم يولد و ليس كمثله شئی  و هو اللّه المتكبر الجبار

[1] Praise be to God! Who hath caused Oceans of Light (abhar al-nūr) to surge in the Divine Fiery Water (al-mā' al-nāriyya al-ilāhiyya), excited the Letters of the Divine Theophany  (ḥurūf al-ẓuhūr) in the Incomparable, Cloud centered Point (al-nuqta al-`amā'iyya al-fardāniyya), and made the Hidden Mount (al-tūr al-ghaybiyya) to soar aloft about the Firmament of the Theophany (falak al-ẓuhūr), the Concealed Logos-Self (nafs al-butun), the Focal Centre of Eternality (wijhat al-azaliyya).

Commentary I:1a "Praise be to God!" الحمد للّه  al-hamdu li'llāhi. A number of Qur'ānic Suras commence with al-hamdu li-llāhi as do numerous other Islamic traditions, texts and literatures.  They often continue by spelling out the names of God or the nature of the God-generated divine providence indicated as worthy of praise or laudation.  The first Meccan Sura al-Fātihah (The Opening, Q1) after the basmala (= Bismi'llāh al-rahman al-rahim, "In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate") commences with the "al-hamdu li'llāhi" (Praised be to God!) adding that He is the rabb al-`ālamin, "the Lord of all the worlds". Then, for example, also Meccan Sūrat al-Kahf (Surah of the Cave, Q. 18), commences, "al-hamdu li'llāhi ahadhi anzal `alā `abdihi al-kitāb", "Praised be to God who sent dwon upon his servant [Muhammad] the Book [the Qur'ān]. There are around twenty-five or more verses of the Qur'an that explicitly commence with the celebration of praise of God, with verses commencing with al-hamd (Praise be to God) or something similar. Note here also that a considerable number of the paragraphs or scriptural pericopes within the Lawh-i kull al-ta`am commence with the celebration of the praise of God who has done all manner of wonderful, amazing things.

Commentary [1:1) contd.

مموج ابحر النور بالماء النارية الالهيه

"Who hath caused Oceans of Light (abhar al-nūr) to surge in the Divine Fiery Water (al-mā' al-nāriyya al-ilāhiyya)" Here the opening مُمَوَّج  = mumawwij  derives from the triliteral Arabic root m-w-j which has the basic sense of `to surge, heave, swell, roll', etc. Hence مُمَوَّج  (mumawwaj / mumawwij) as an active participle can be indicative of the force of corrugated, undulating or surging waves active, as the followng words make clear, within vast oceans of celestial light (abhar al-nur).  The imperfect active verb yamūju occurs once in the Qur'an (18:99)  in an eschatological context touching on the fate of Gog and Magog (Yajuj and Majuj) stating "On that Day We shall leave them surging on one another", at a time when the latter-day Trumpet Blast will sound (nufikha fi'l-sūr). Aside from this, the image of billowing oceans is found half a dozen times in the Qur'an (10:22; 11:42-3; 24:40; 31:32). 

That "oceans of light" (abhar sing, bahr) should be made to surge by God in divine, fiery water at I:1 , would seem to express the imminent emergence of divine guidance through the person of Baha'u'llah in the Lawḥ-i kull al-Ṭa`ām itself, and/or perhaps also by means of other Babi lamps of spiritual guidance. At the very opening of this writing of Baha'u'llah we find the impossible, syzygy-like coalescence of divine "water" (mā') as "light" and "fire" (nār) kept in balance in their symbolic expression of the positive relationship between the "water" as the cascading light of revelation and the illuminative divine, theophanic  "fire"  as the sacred persona of the Divine theophany. The reference to "water" (al-mā') that is divine or God-like (al-ilāhiyya) and  "fiery" (al-nāriyya), like the God-indwelling "burning bush" on Sinai, evokes a theophanic event of great revelatory magnitude.

The Abrahamic and Islamic Background : Celestial and Cosmic "Water" in the Qur'an and Islamic Tradition.

In Islamic, Shi`i-Shaykhi and Babi-Baha'i  cosmology there exist realms of oceanic celestial "Light" (al-nur) as well a great watery expanse (cf. Genesis 1:6f), cosmic "Water" (al-ma'). There are depths or oceans of theophanic "Fire" (al-nar) separate and wholly distinct from mundane light, water and worldly fire or hellfire. These concepts are partially rooted in the Qur'an, especially Q.21:30, "And we fashioned from [cosmic] "Water" (al-ma') everything living (kull shay hayy) and in earlier Abrahamic religious literatures. They came to be massively spoken about and celebrated within a vast array of Islamic literatures. The importance of a theology and cosmology of celestial "water" is evident in the Biblical book of Genesis (chapter 1) which is quite frequently echoed in the Qur'an and numerous prophetic and Imam relayed traditions. A good deal is registered in early Islamo-biblical traditions about primordial, cosmic and  earth supporting waters which are sometimes associated with powerful divine Names and Attributes. We find reference to "seven oceans"  and expanses of cosmic waters as well as "seven earths", heavens, firmaments and more besides in Islamic hadith, tafsir and other literatures.

In the first volume of his important Ta'rīkh al-rusul wa'l-mulūk (The History of the Prophets and the Kings) of Abū Ja`far al-Ṭabarī (d. 310/923) we read : 

Others said: God created the water before the Throne. Then He created His Throne and placed it upon the water...  We were told the same by al-Qāsim b. al-Hasan-al-Husayn b. Dāwūd-Hajjāj-Ibn Jurayj-Sa'īd b. Jubayr- Ibn 'Abbās .
He said [288] : The heavens and the earth and everything in them are encompassed by the oceans, and all of that is encompassed by the haykal [Macro-cosmic "temple / body"], and the haykal reportedly is encompassed by the Footstool. Those who said this
According to Muhammad b. Sahl b. 'Askar-Ismā'īl b. 'Abd al-Karīm-'Abd al-Samad-Wahb, mentioning some of His majesty (as being describ~ble as follows): The heavens and the earth and the oceans are in the haykal, and the haykal is in the Footstool. God's feet are upon the Footstool. He carries the Footstool. It became like a sandal on His feet. When Wahb was asked: What is the haykal he replied: Something on the heavens' extremities that surrounds the earth and the oceans like the ropes that are used to fasten a tent. And when Wahb was asked how the earths are (constituted), he replied: They are seven earths that are flat and islands. Between each two earths, there is an ocean. All that is surrounded by the (surrounding) ocean, and the haykal is behind the ocean. (Arabic text pp.35-6 / trans. Franz Rosenthal, as `The History of al-Tabarī'  SUNY Press, 1989: 207-208).

Numerous other Islamic literatures contains traditions about vast cosmic waters. Passages with the Qisas al-anbiya literatures are important in this respect, including, for example, the Qiṣaṣ al-anbiyā’ (Stories of the Prophets) literatures such as that attributed to Muhammad   ibn `Abdullāh al-Kisā’ī (10th cent. CE or later)  named Kitab al-bad' wa'l-khalq wa qiṣaṣ al-anbiyā’ (The Book of the beginning of creation and the Stories of the Prophets) as well as the `Arā’is al-majālis fī qiṣaṣ al-anbiyā’ (The Brides of the Sessions, Tales of the Prophets)  of  Abū Isḥāq Aḥmad  ibn  Muhammad al-Nīsābūrī, al-Shāfi`ī, known as al-Tha`labī  (d. 427 / 1036).

lbn Abbas said: After that, God created in the backbone of the heavens ancl the earths a white pearl with seventy thousand tongues to glorify Him. With each of these tongues it glorifies Him in seventy thousand languages.
Ka`b [al-Ahbar ibn Mati, d. c. 652 CE] said:  It has eyes so large that if the towering mountain peaks were cast into them, they would be like flies on the surface of the Great Sea. Then God spoke to the pearl; and, because of the majesty of the proclamation, it trembled so much that it became moving water, with waves swelling and crashing against each other.

In time, however, everything became lax in praising God except water, which has never ceased to glorify God, for its act of exaltation is its quaking and movement. For this reason God preferred water over any other createcl thing and made it the basis for creation, as He hath saicl: And we made every living thing of water. Will they not therefore believe? (31.30) Then the water was told, "Be still!" And it was still, awaiting Gocl's command. This is limpid water, which contains neither impurity nor foam" (al-Kisa'i, Qisas, trans. Thackston, 1978: 5-6)..

Refer for the Arabic texts to Eisenberg, (Lat.) Vita Prophetarum auctore Muhammed ben 'Abdallah al-Kisa'i, Lugduni-Batavorum: E. J. Brill. 2 vols. 1922-3;  Trans. Wheeler M. Thackston, Jr., The Tales of the Prophets of al-Kisa’i. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1978; Tha`labī, , `Arā’is al-majālis...ed and trans. William M. Brinner, as  “Lives of the Prophets” as recounted by  ... al-Tha`labī. Leiden : Brill, 2002.

Shi`i-Shaykhi Gnosis and the cosmic "Water".

In the distinctly Shi`i Khuṭbat al-Ṭutunjiyya [al-Taṭanjiyya] (The Oration of the Gulf") ascribed to Imam `Ali (d.40/661) there is a good deal relating to celestial cosmology and to surging oceans -  as well as to the elevated claims of this first twelver Shi`i Imam:

[I.4] Then He [God] adorned them with radiant stars [constellations] (al-kawākib al-muḍi`āt) and caused many a dusky cloud (sahā'ib mukfahirrat) to be restrained in the celestial sphere. [5] He created the oceans and the mountains  upon dashing, surging, concomitant, flowing waves. He tore their floodgates asunder such that  their waves formed a vast billowing sea.

 I [Imam `Ali] am the one who is stationed over the two [celestial] Gulfs (wāqif `alā al-ṭutunjayn)... I am the one who beholds the "two Easts" and the "two Wests" (al-maghribayn wa'l-mashriqayn) (cf. Q. 55:17). With the vision of mine own eyes did I see [the Mercy of ] God  ([raḥmat] Allāh ) and Paradise (al-firdaws).(cf. Q.18:107; 23:11). Such is within the seventh Ocean which flows in the celestial sphere; within its brimming oceanic expanse are the stars and their orbits (al-hubuk, cf. Q. 51:7). It was within something earthen ware [clay] (khazaf) from the right-hand Gulf (min al-tuṭunj al-ayman) which faces the East (al-mashriq) and towards the twin Gulfs (al-tuṭunjayn) which are the twin Bays of the Watery Expanse (khalijān min al-mā')  that seem to incline to the left of the twin Gulfs (al-tuṭunjayn).

XV. I [Imam `Ali] am indeed the Dispenser of the rivers (al-anhār) streaming from the billowing Watery Expanse (mā' al-taiyār) including rivers of milk (laban)  and rivers of pure honey (`aṣal), as well as rivers of wine (khamr) procured for the bliss of such as do quaff thereof.   

For details see Rajab al-Bursi (d. c. 814 /1411), Mashāriq anwār al-yāqīn... (Beirut: Dar al-Andalus), 1978, 166-172 and `The Sermon of the Gulf ascribed to `Ali ibn Abi Talib (d. 40/661)' and associated webpages on this site.

A huge amount of material touching upon the primordial "water" traditions and related gargantuan  "oceans" and other  cosmological wonders are  registered, for example, by the Safavid thinker and Shi`i philosophers Sadr al-Din Shirāzi (d.1050/1640) known as Mullā Sadra, and well as his pupil the Safavid era thelogian and philosopher Mullā Muhsin Fayd al-Kāshāni (d.1090/1679). The former in his (among other places) bulky Mafātih al-ghayb  ("The Keys of the Unseen") and the latter in his massive `Ilm al-Yaqin fi Usul al-Din (The Knowledge of Certainty regarding the Bases of Religion). Only a few further Qur'anic texts, prophetic and twelver Imami traditions and passages from these works, can be cited here :

The second category [of "worlds", al-`awālim] is the world of the [Universal] Soul (`ālam al-nafs). Its primary entrance is through the opening up of the ocean (bahr) of [the world of] Jabarut (Omnipotence) [leading] unto this "world" (al-`alam). It is that realm which is designated the "Universal Soul" (nafs al-kull) and the "Faithful Spirit" (al-ruh al-amin) as well as the "Preserved Tablet" (al-lawh al-mahfuz) and the "Perspicuous Book" (al-kitāb al-mubin). And it is the "Water" (al-mā') upon which [rests] the [heavenly] Throne of the All-Merciful (`arsh al-rahman) and which has been previously mentioned in His statement, "We made from Water (al-mā') everything' (kull shay') living (hayy)" (Q. 21:30). It is this  which is the essence of the Water of Life (`ayn mā'  al-hayat), a fountain (al-fawwāra) flowing forth in the world of corporealities (`ālam al-ajsām)... it is mentioned in His  statement, "We created you from a single Soul (nafs wāhida)"... as well as in His statement, "He sendeth down water (al-mā') from heaven which flows in channels according to their capacity" (Q. 13:17).  (Mulla Sadra,  Mafātih al-ghayb, ed. Khājavi, 1424/2003, 535-6).

When commenting upon the cosmic "Throne" (al-`arsh) and the heavenly "Pedestal" of God (al-kursi) in his `Ilm al-Yaqin, the great Muhsin Fayd al-Kāshāni (d. 1090/1679) has occasion to dwell upon the sacred cosmological mysteries surrounding primordial "water". He cites a tradition from the 5th Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (d.c. 126/743) which reads as follows :

"The first thing (shay') which God created from His creation was the entity (al-shay') by means of which things (al-ashyā') were gathered together and it is [the universal, cosmic] "water" (al-mā')" (cited Kashani, `Ilm al-Yaqin, I:231).

We may also cite here as a Shaykhi example of "water" cosmology and mysticism, a few passages from the commentary of Sayyid Kazim al-Husayni al-Rashti (d.1259/1843) upon the Khutba al-Tutunjiyya [Tatanjiyya], the so-called the literary oration referred to above wherein deep senses of sometimes oceanic cosmic "water" figure prominently. First in the adorementioned Khutba we read انا الواقف على الطتنجين "I am the one who is stationed over the two Gulfs" (wāqif `alā al-ṭutunjayn) two divisions between vast expanses of cosmic "water" or oceans. This statement was first uttered by Imam `Ali and often repeated by the Bab in  various contexts in articulating his claims.


"Fire" (al-nar), "Ice" (الثّلج , al-thalj), "Water" (al-ma') and the "Point" (al-nuqta) in the Qayyum al-asma'.

Towards the end of the very first chapter of the Qayyum al-asma', the Surat al-mulk (The Surah of the Dominion; in verse 41 of 42) we have reference to the theophanic or Sinaitic "Fire" of Divine disclosure and revelation. This is described as being held in check at the pivot of the celestial watery expanse (al-ma'). Heavenly life-giving "water" about to be set forth by the Bab as the messianic Dhikr (Remembrance), is temporarily held back  in divulging the fullness of the onrushing cascade of Arabic divine revelation (wahy).

 يا اهل الارض

و انّا نحن قد سيّرنا الجبال علی الارض والنّجوم علی العرش حول النّار فی قطب الماء من لدی الذّكر باللّه الحقّ

[41] O people of the Earth! We, verily, have set the mountains on earth in motion  as well as the stars above the heavenly Throne   in the vicinity of the Sinaitic Fire (al-nār) in the Pivot of the watery expanse (quṭb al-mā'), this by virtue of the Remembrance (al-dhikr), through God, the True One.  Not any one among you shall be left out [at the time of assembling for judgment] (Q.18:47f).

The word or symbol al-thalj, as cosmic "Ice" (frozen water) occurs about twelve times in the Qayyum al-asma'. It is associated with theophanic "Fire" and with the Generative and Primal Point (al-nuqtat) of the letter "B" which is allusive of the person of the Bab. As the new "Joseph" who is the returned Imam Husayn and the letter "H" (abjad 5),  the Bab is the "Youth"  cast into the "Pit" (jubb) by his "brothers" who sometimes represent various letters of the alphabet or al-shahada (la ilaha illa Allah, "There is no God but God"), the Islamic testimony of faith. The depth of this "well" or "pit" where Joseph was cast symbolizes the mystic and luminous  realm of `Ama', the theophanic or Divine "Cloud" (al-`ama') associated with the Deity. This realm of `Ama' is associated with al-ahadiyya (the apophatic "Divine Oneness")  where revelatory and creative Light can be disclosed through tajalli, the Self-Disclosure of the fiery theophanic radiance of scriptural revelation. This is also related to the  creative effusions of al-nuqta in which the "Point" of generative recreation and the Fire of Divine Theophany subsist on the Sinai of revelatory Disclosure. The juncture of the "Point" within "Ice" and the "Fire" of the Divine theophany lead to the realization of oceans of divine guidance through divine revelation. The alphabetical "brothers" of Joseph serve to initiate his "Cause" by inadvertently precipitating his protection and disclosure. The story of the youthful Joseph in the Qayyum al-asma'  is the symbolic tale of the experience of the Bab in his encountering and representing the Divine, his coming to disclose his hidden Cause through new divine episodes of revelation. 

The very first occurence of al-thalj ("ice") along with "fire" (al-nar) and al-nuqta (the Point)  is in the following section of the 13th Surat al-Firdaws (The Surah of Paradise) where we read:

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 و اذ قالوا يا ابانا ارسله معنا غدا علی الحقّ حتّی يسكن فی نقطة الثّلج من الجبل البرد حول نقطة الوصل بشیء من نقطة النّارمن جبل العدل حول ماء الفصل علی الحقّ بالحقّ و انّا له قد كنّا له علی الحقّ باللّه الحميد حفيظاً ه

و انّ شيعتنا سيسئلون عنا عن ظهور امرنا علی هذا الباب الاكبر بالحقّ علی الحقّ من غير حرف من علم الكتاب كثيراً ه

البرد حول نقطة الوصل بشیء من نقطة النّار من جبل

 QA XIII: [28] And thus did they [the brothers / Imams] say, "O our father [Jacob-Israel] send him [Joseph = Husayn = the Bab], in very Truth, with us [brothers] tomorrow (ghad an) perchance he should dwell within the نقطة الثّلج من الجبل البر Point of Ice (nuqtat al-thalj) abount the Mount of  Coolness [Hail-Ice] (jabal al-bard) situated about the نقطة الوصل Point of Renuion (nuqtat al-wasl) relative to the Entity [Reality] (bi-shay') from the نقطة النّار  Point of  theophanic Fire (nuqtat al-nar), from the جبل العدل Point of Justice (nuqtat al-`adl) about, in Truth, in very Truth, ماء الفصل   the celestial Water of Separation (ma' al-fisal)! This since we [brothers = Imams] were indeed, in very Truth, nigh him [Joseph = Husayn= the Bab] one preserved  (hafiz an) through God, the One Praised (al-hamid).

[29] And thus will our [Shi`i] party ask of us [brothers], in Truth in very Truth, about the manifestation-theophany of Our [religious] Cause (zuhur amrika) centering upon this the Greatest Gate (al-bab al-akbar). This aside from a single letter (harf) multiplied by virtue of the knowledge of this Book (`ilm al-kitab kathir an). [30] Thus did they [the brothers of Jospeh = Husayn] say, "Send him with us [brothers] tomorrow (ghad an) for he shall "frolic [enjoy himself] and play" (yarta` wa yal`ab = يرتع و يلعب) [Q.12:12b] for we [brothers], in Truth, in very Truth, shall safeguard and preserve (hafiz mahfuz an ) [Q,12:12b] his religious Cause (amr) by virtue of the Gate (bab) which is Mighty in God (`ala al-bab al-azim bi-llahi)".

The new Cause (al-amr) results from a creative conjunction of "Points" of "Ice" (thalj), "Reunion" (al-wasl), theophanic  "Fire" (al-nar) and the "Water" (al-ma') of life and revelation.

Towards the very beginning of the 19th Sūrat al-Sinā' (The Surah of  Mount Sinai) on Qur'ān 12:18, the Bab writes about the safeguarding of the al-nār fi nuqtat al-thalj, the theophanic "Fire" in the "Point of Ice":

[5] God hath indeed sent down the Book (al-kitab) according to the Greatest Truth (bi'l-haqq al-akbar) unto His Word (kalimat) to the end that He might teach the people that God hath made the Fire to be safeguarded (mahfuz an) in the Point of Ice (al-nar fi nuqtat al-thalj). [6] We indeed made the Dhikr (Remembrance) on Our part, in Truth, in very Truth, to be one elevated (marfu` an). [7] We, we in very Truth, made him before God to be one of established high rank (makin an) and one transcendent (`aliyy an).

This may refer to the preservation of the Cause of the Bab, the new theophanic "fire", within the as yet undisclosed safety of the Point of "Ice". Disclosure is largely held in check until the time is right, It was around a year or more before the Bab made more openly known the stipulations regulative of his new religion  and offered a guarded disclosure of his name and messianic status. The "ice" of secrecy protects the billowing "fire" of religious revolution.  Note the following few subsequent verses in this same surah: 

[23] God hath indeed willed that there be in this Book relative to Our Cause (amr), in Truth, in very Truth, a hidden mystery (sirr an), regarding Our mystery, a hidden secret indeed (min sirri-na  sirr an)! This to the end that the people might enter, in Truth, in very Truth, the houses of God (buyut Allah) prostrating and in submissive humility (sujjad an wa dhull an) through My entrances [Gates] (abwabi). 

The Surat al-Nur (Surah of Light) Qayyum al-asmā', XX [20]

So hearken ye unto that which We inspired unto thee [the Bab] from thy Lord for thou art [like Moses] in the sacred Wadi/Vale  (al-wad al-muqaddas) [nigh Sinai] upon the Point of Fire (nuqtat al-nar) in the Centre of Ice (kabd al-thalj) nigh the True One (al-haqq). And God hath ordained that it be extra-transitory (amda). This since the Genesis (al-bada') was evident in the Point of the Termination (nuqtat al-khatm).  (QA XX [20] in INBMC III:32).

The above, rather cryptic verse, is found towards the beginning of the 20th Surat al-Nur (Surah of Light) in the Qayyum al-asma'. It seems to illustrate that the revelatory experience of the Bab  was symbolized by the conjunction of theophanic "Fire" and the watery  "Ice" of the  Ocean of upper realms which may symbolize divine revelation. His self-disclosure was in evidence but its genesis was held in the "ice" of its non-disclosure or "termination", its temporary cessation and preservation.

Important also in this respect also is the relationship found in the writings of the Bab between the al-nuqta, the Point of revelatory genesis associated with "Ice" (al-thalj) and oceans of theophanic "Fire" in the tenth verse of Qayyum al-asma' XXIX [29] the Surat al-huriyya (The Surah of the Maiden) :


يا اهل الارض

O peoples of the earth!

فاعتصموا بحبل اللّه المنيع ذكرنا هذ الفتی العربیّ الّذی قد كان فی نقطة الثّلج علی ابحر النّار مستوراً 

Cleave ye tenaciously to the Cord of the All-Highest God, which is Our Dhikr-Remembrance, this Arabian Youth (al-fata al-`arabi)  - He Who standeth concealed at the Point of Ice (nuqtat al-thalj) amidst  Oceans of [Theophanic] Fire (abhar al-nar) (SWB: 54 trans. adapted).

See also verse 29 in the same Surat al-Huriyya:

[QA XXIX: 29]

و انّا بالحقّ قد ارسلناك حول النّار و بالحقّ قد نزل اللّه الفرقان عليك حول الماء
  و انّك فی امّ الكتاب لدی الاسمين قد كنت مكتوباً

And We, in very truth, assuredly sent thee nigh the theophanic [Sinaitic] Fire (hawl al-nar). And, in very truth did God reveal the Furqan [`the Criterion, Qur'an] unto thee about the [cosmic] Watery Expanse (hawl al-ma'), And thou art indeed One  inscribed in the Archetypal Book (umm al-kitab) though the two Names [= `Ali + Muhammad = the Bab].

Angels of Fire and Snow

One might also call to mind here the symbolism of the "angels" made up of "fire" and "snow" mentioned in the  Abū `Alī al-Bal'amī, (d. c. 397/997) Persian translation of the Tafsir of al-Tabari (see Bal`ami, Tafsir Tabari Per. trans. on Q. 17:1 p.185). Bahā'-Allāh gives a human psychologizing interpretation to the "angels of fire and snow" (malā'ikāt... min al-nār wa'l-thulj) traditionally believed to exist and be responsible for controlling such incompatible natural phenomena as "fire" and "ice" (see P&M 94:108 trans, 120). These "angels" find early, probably pre-Islamic mention in certain recensions of the originally Jewish Apocalypse of Baruch (cf. Daniel 7:9; 1 Enoch 14:20; 71:1; Apoc. Abraham 11:1f) and later Islamic literatures also.

As an example of the numerous weighty passages with alwah (Tablets) of Baha'u'llah which include references to "Water" and "Fire", reference should be made to the Persian text commencing "The Sun of Reality (āftāb-i ḥaqīqī) is the Divine Word (kalimat-i ilāhī)". This is an untitled Tablet of Bahā’-Allāh published in Daryā-yi Danish,  Selected from the Tablets of Bahā’u’llāh (NSA of the Baha’is of India, 1985), pp.106-7. It commences:

The Sun of Reality (āftāb-i ḥaqīqī) is the Divine Word (kalimat-i ilāhī) which is for the instruction of the denizens of the domains of spiritual meaning and exposition (ma`ānī va bayān). It is centered in Him for He is the Spirit of Reality (rūḥ-i ḥaqīqī) and the celestial “Water” of mystic meaning (mā’-i ma`navī) which hath ever been and will forever remain, by virtue of His assistance and beneficence (madad va `inayat), the “Life” [the Living force] of everything (ḥayāt-i kull-i shay’)" (p. 106 trans. Lambden)..

This text also contains reference to "Fire" centered in the Manifestation of God, the perfect Divine Man (insān).and his "Word" :

He is the Divine “Fire” (nār)! And it is on this account, that whatsoever is other than of God is burned away from within the inmost depths (ṣudūr) of the hearts of such yearning lovers (`ushshāq) as are consumed by this “Fire”. This is so on account of the conflagration precipitated by this “Fire”. Indeed! It is the very reality of the [celestial] “Water” (ḥaqīqat-i mā’) which is evident in the form of this “Fire” (nār). Its outer reality (ẓāhir) is “Fire” (nār) while its inmost depth (bāṭin) is “Light” (nūr).

It is on account of this “Water” (mā’) that all things (kull shay’) hath eternally remained and will for evermore exist [as is stated in the Qur’ān]: “Through water (mā’) are all things living (ḥayy)” (Q.21:30). We beseech God that we may drink of this divinely sweet “Water” (mā’-i `adhb-i ilāhī) through this spiritual سلسبيل‎‎  Salsabīl [a Fount of Paradise, see Qur’an 76:18] (salsabīl-i rūḥānī) and we may be detached from the world and its inhabitants (`ālam va `alamiyyān) upon the Pathway of His Love (sabīl-i muḥabbat)." (p. 106-7 trans. Lambden).

See further :

Commentary [1b] The Letters of the Theophany and the al-Nuqta (Point).

و مهيج احرف الظهور بالنقطة العمائية الفردانيه

"excited the Letters of the Divine Theophany  (ḥurūf al-ẓuhūr) in the Incomparable, Cloud-related Point (al-nuqta al-`amā'iyya al-fardāniyya). It would seem likely as the following expositoyr paragraphs suggests that this line has to do with Baha'u'llah actualizing revelatory forces as letters of the archetyal alphabet to commence a new dimension of creation. 

The word مهيج here, pointed muhayyij  as an active participle, is derived from the triliteral root h-a/y-j. The basic verbal meaning of  hāja is `to be agitated, excited, awakened', etc. The ` Letter of the Theophany' are thus pictured as being agitated, excited or awakened as a result of the Divine activity now being precipitated through Baha'u'llah.

Ahraf al-zuhur, احرف الظهور  "The Letters of the  Divine Theophany".

The use of ahruf here for "letters", the plural of harf as opposed to huruf or the irregular hurufat, might  refers to Babis in general as opposed to the eighteen `Letters of the Living'. It is more likely, however, that this word alludes to a new configuration of the archetypal Arabic letters of the alphabet ready to engrave the mysteries to come through new religious revelations. In the 27th Sūrat al-Qaraba (The Surah of the Kinsfolk), on Qur'an 12:27 in the Qayyum al-asma' we read:

الحمد للّه الّذی قد كلّم مع عبدنا بالحقّ علی احرف الاحديّة فوق السّطور الّذی قد كان علی مطلع الظّهور مشهوداً ه انّ هذا كتاب قد نزّل فی السّرّبالسّرّ الاكبر فی الخطّ القائم فی مطلع النّهار علی كنه الاسرار تنزيلاً ه المستسرّ علی السّرّ المقنّع

[4] Praised be to God who hath conversed with Our servant [the Bab], in Truth, regrading the letters of the Divine Oneness (ahruf al-ahadiyya) [situated] above the [alphabetical] Scripts [Lines] (fawq al-sutur) evident about the Dawning-Point of the Divine Theophany (matla` al-zuhur). [5] This Book was indeed revealed according to the mystery secreted within mystery (fi'l-sirr mustasirr `ala al-sirr), veiled up within the Greatest Mystery (muqanna` bi'l-sirr al-akbar) [set] within the Upright [Alphabetical] Script ["A"] (khatt al-qa'im) in the Dawning-Place of  the Daytime Sunrise (matla` al-nahar), above its Being are mysteries  revealed (asrar tanzil an)." (INBMC III:48).

The context here احرف الاحديّة  ahruf al-ahadiyya suggests the archetypal letters of the alphabet. The plural ahruf  (letters) occurs a further ten or more times in the Qayyum al-asma'. The use of ahadiyya again suggests (cf. the nuqtat al-`ama'iyya)  the primordial oneness from which reality was realized through tajalli (Divine self-revelation) attendant upon the realization of the prototypicall or archetypal entities (al-`ayan al-thabita). See also Qayyum al-asma', Surat al-Qalam LXXI [71]   احرف الاحديّة  INBMC III:144), the reference to  ahruf in Surat al-haqq (The Surah of the Real) LXXXI [81], 172)  and the perhaps more mundance use of this plural in Qayyum al-asma' CIV [104], the Surat al-Hudud (The Surah of the Limitations) :     

و انّ اللّه قد حكم بالطّواف حول البيت علی سرّ من احرف الباب بما قد قدّر اللّه فی امّ الكتاب سبعة من الاشارات محموداً ه

"And God decreed the circumambulation around the House as expressive of the mystery of the letters of the Bab (sirr ahruf al-bab). This since God  determined in the Mother Book (umm al-kitab) that there be seven such praiseworthy determinants (INBMC III:215),

بالنقطة العمائية الفردانيه

The Incomparable, Cloud-centered Point (al-nuqta al-`amā'iyya al-fardāniyya).

The word "Point" here is the Arabic al-nuqta. It  refers to the diacritical subdot  ( • ) which forms part of the orthography of the Arabic-Persian letter al-ba' or "B" (  ب = الباء . In medieval Islamic traditions ascribed to the Prophet Muhammad and/or  Imam `Ali Ibn Abi Talib (d.40/661), it is believed that the latter  voiced the claim "I am the al-nuqta (subdot) beneath of the letter al-ba' ("B"). This claim implied that `Ali was the subdot of the letter "B" commencing the Qur'anic basmala (= Bismillah al-rahman al-rahim = "In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate"). In Arabic the word "In the Name" is written Bi[ism]. The first letter of the Qur'an is thus the letter "B" which is believed to be the genesis of the Qur'an or of its initial basmala or its first Surah, the Surat al-Fatiha (The Surah of the Opening), the seven verse chapter commencing the 114 chapter Qur'an. As it is the "B" which commences this sacred book, the letter B with its subdot were though to the the creative locus of revealed Reality, a kind of Logos-like point of God-generated commencement.

أنا النقطة التي تحت الباء ...

Anā al-Nuqta allati takht al-bā' ["B"]

The Bab numerous times claimed to the the first or Primal Point, al-nuqta al-awwaliyya from which all creation was generated. The text above is derived from a letter of the Bab to Muhammad Shah Qajar, The nuqta symbolizes the Divine Will, al-mashiyya,or the Primal Will, the Arabic al-Mashiyya al-awwaliyya. This as personified by the mazhar al-ilahi or `Manifestation of God'. As a `Manifestation of God' embodying the Will of God the Bab claimed to be the central

 The words `Amā' (Cloud) and العمائية al-`Amā'iyya  (Theophanic Cloud Centered), 

In the phrase "the Incomparable, beclouded Point (al-nuqta al-`amā'iyya al-fardāniyya)" the word `ama'iyya expresses an aspect of `ama' which indicates the primordial God-hiding "cloud" which may come to disclose the tajalli or Self-revelation of the Deity, a glorious, extra-primordial expression  of a one-time isolated, transcendent, self-contained ahadiyya, the Divine Divinity or Oneness. The singular word or verbal noun  `ama' , "cloud", derives from the triliteral root `a-m-y which, as a verb, means` to become blind' or `to be obscure' as the following poem  from Rajab al-Bursi's Mashariq anwar al-yaqin (14th cent CE) expresses:

They [the twelver Imams] are the Leaders (Caliphs) Most Praiseworthy (ahmad), the Nobles (al-nuqaba') who are Wise Ones (hukama')!

Twelve Imams are they Most Noble (ashraf) of those under Heaven (samā').

Eyes are blinded (ta`miya al-`uyun) by them for they are resplendent before the Theophanic Cloud (lil-`ama').

al-`Ama'iyya means deriving from, relating to, or associated with, al-`amā', the primordial, divine or theophanic "Cloud" in which Divinity was hidden prior to creation. The key theologically loaded occurrence of the word عَمَاء (`amā' ) is that found in the `Ḥadīth of the Cloud (al‑`amā’)' which records Muhammad’s response to a question posed (axccordig to some Sunni sources) by Abū Razīn al‑`Aqīlī [or `Uqayli] about God’s location "before he created the creation". His reply was:

كان في عَمَاء  مَا فوقه هواء ومَا تحته هواء

"[He [God] was in `ama' (a Cloud), with no Air (hawa') above it [Him] and no Air beneath it [Him]. Then he created His Throne upon the [cosmic] Water (as cited Muhammad ibn Abu Jarir al‑Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-rusūl wa’l-mulūk, 1:36). 

The hadith came to be much cited and very influential within Islamic theology and mysticism especially, for example, within the writings of Ibn al-`Arabi (d. Damascus, 638/1240) and his many commentators and devotees. Like the aforementioned  `Great Shaykh',  the Bab used the term `ama' quite frequently in his writings. It  was a key cosmological, imamological and mystical term  found at least 100 times in his Qayyum al-asma',  Tafsir Surat Yusuf (Commentary on the Surah of Joseph, Q.12) also named by him the Kitab al-Husayniyya (Husaynid Book), dating to mid, 1844 (1260 AH). In this work the Bāb included addresses to a mysterious ahl al-`amā’ as the denizens of the theophanic cloud  associated with the celestial Sinaitic realm (Lambden,1984;1988). A commentary on the `Tradition of `amā’   was specifically written by the Bāb for Sayyid Yaḥyā Dārābī, Vaḥīd (d.1850 CE). The Lawḥ-i kull al-Ṭa`ām is much influenced by the style and vocabularly of the Qayyum al-asma' of the Bab.

In illustration of the transformation though interconnectedness of the theological terminology of the Bab and irfani philosophy associated with the school of Ibn al-`Arabi and others, we may ponder the following few lines of the  twelfth Sūrat al-`Āshūrā' (The Surah of `Āshūrā', on Qur'ān 12:11) in the Qayyum al-asma':

و ان اللّه قد جعلنا علی الحسين بسرّ الاحديّة المستورة حول النّار مشهوداً ه و انّ اللّه قد اخبر فی ذلك الايه عن حكم العلیّ و ابنائه علیحكم الاحديّة المحتجبة فی عماء الهويّة المستترة فی سرّ عرش الابديّة المستشرقة من نور الازليّة علی حكم الصّمدانيّة حول الماء مسطوراً

When the brothers of Joseph said unto their father [Jacob-Israel] upon the Greatest Panorama (`ala mashhad al-akbar), `What ails thee?' Do you not know us with respect to the knowledge of Joseph for We are witnesses [martyrs] (shuhada') before God, al-Qayyum (the Self-Subsisting). And God hath ever been witness (shahid an) unto all things. 

[30] And God did indeed make us relative to [the third Imam] Husayn (d. 61/680) through the concealed Mystery of the Absolute Divine Oneness (sirr al-ahadiyya), secreted away about the evidently manifest (mashhud an) [Theophanic, Sinaitic] Fire (al-mastura hawl al-nar). [31]  God indeed announced through that verse [Q. 12:10] the locus of `Ali (d. 40/661) [an elevated decree] (hukm `aliyy) and his sons [progeny] (abna') [the twelver Imams] what accords with the of [mystery of ] the Absolute Divine Oneness (al-ahadiyya) veiled up [concealed] within the Theophanic Cloud of the Divine Ipseity (`ama' al-huwiyya), secreted away [that is] within the mysterious depth of the Throne of Eternality (al-mustasirra fi sirr al-`arsh al-abadiyya) oriented luminously towards the East (al-mustasharaqa) through the Light of Pre-Eternity (al-azaliyya) as accords with the decree which is All-Perpetual (hukm al-samadaniyya) inscribed (mastur an) about the Watery Expanse (al-ma')." (INBMC III: 21).

al-Fardāniyya (the "Incomparable").


al-fardāniyya (as above) is derived from the Arabic triliteral root f-r-d which, as a basic verb, is indicative of something being singlar, unique or alone, etc. The verbal-noun fard meaning Alone, Single, Solitary can be a Name or Attribute of God though this is not found in the Qur'ān (cf. fard pl furada, Q.6:94' 19:60, 95; 21:89; 34: 46) and is not usually reckoned one of the 99 Names of God, the asma Allah al-husna, (the Most Beautiful Names). 

The word fard along with common, uncommon and new derivatives from this root, neologisms, are omnipresent in the Arabic and Persian writings of the Bab. While  al-fardāniyya (with or without the definite article) does not seem to occur in the Qayyum al-asma' the word fard is found some ten or eleven times. In Qayyum al-asmā' XXXIII [33] The Surat al-Nasr (the Surah of Victory) we find an echo of Q. 112 where we read :

  اللّه الاحد الصّمد الفرد الّذی لا اله الّا هو و ليس كمثله شیء

God is the One al-ahad), the All-Perpetual (al-samad), the Singular (al-fard) Who, no God is there except Him. Nothing is like unto Him (INBMC III:60). 

In the Name of God, the Supremely Singular (al-afrad), the Most Isolated (al-afrad)

Praised be to God Who, no God is there except Him, the Supremely Singular (al-afrad), the Most Isolated (al-afrad). And now may al-Bahā' (the Glory) from God be upon man yuzhiru-hu Allāh (Him whom God shall make manifest) then his Proofs, eternally and for evermore.

The shorter Arabic seven Proofs has a much more extended celebration of the connotations of the f-r-d root, its superlative and many other rhythmic and creative neologisms associated therewith. Only a small portion can be set down and translated here- the vowelling will be highly speculative, as will be the translation : 

In the Name of God, the Supremely Singular (al-afrad), the Most Isolated (al-afrad)

In the Name of God, the Isolated (al-fard), the Isolated (al-fard). In the Name of God, the Isolated (al-fard), the Isolated (al-fard). In the Name of God, the Isolated (al-fard), the Intrinsically One (al-firād). In the Name of God, the Isolated (al-fard), the Solitary (al-fārid). In the Name of God, the Isolated (al-fard), the Solitary (al-fārid). In the Name of God, the Isolated (al-fard), the Isolated (al-fārid). In the Name of God, the Isolated(al-fard), the Withdrawn (al-farūd). In the Name of God, the Isolated (al-fard), the Withdrawn (al-farūd). In the Name of God, the Isolated (al-fard), the Incomparable (al-farīd)....

The al-nuqta (Point") is described by a second adjectival expression following `ama'iyya, associated with the primordial al-`ama', the divine or theophanic "Cloud" in which Divinity is hidden. This through the word al-fardāniyya ("Incomparable") deriving from the triliteral root f-r-d which in its basic verbal sense means being single or alone etc. That the "Point" is al-fardāniyya most probably indicates it being utterly isolated in its singularity as a new locus of the genesis of reality and revelation. Not only is the al-nuqta (Point) associated with the theophanic al-`amā' (cloud) of God's transcendence, but also with the  all but apophatic, incomparable (fardāniyya) source of a new revelation.

The interest of the Bab in the word fard and its associated letterist theology is also evident about half-way through his Persian Seven Proofs. This following a paragraph about the greatness of his first disciple, Mulla Husayn Bushru'i (d.1849) and prefacing a series of testimonia or `proof-texts'. The reader is bidden observe "the number [numerical value] of the Name of God al-fard (the Isolated, Singular, etc)   [abjad =  80+200+4 = 284], and one mutafarrid ("Peerless") [abjad = 40+400+ 80 + 200+ 4 =  724) as well as waḥīd  ("Solitary". "Single", "Unique") [abjad = 6+8+10+4 = 28) and the similarly related mutawaḥḥid (= "Combined","Solitary", "Isolated") [abjad = 40+400+6+8+4 =  456] (P. Dala'il, 55; check spellings here ...). The word fard  ("Isolated") has an abjad vale of 284 and waḥīd  also (loosely) isolated or "solitary" as the unique "Divine Unity" has an abjad value which repeats its first two numbers, 2 and 8 (of 28).  Add details here...

Commentary [1c]

مطور طور الغيبيه من فلك الظهور

"and made the Hidden Mount (al-tur al-ghaybiyya) to move aloft about the Firmament of the Theophany (falak al-ẓuhūr)".

The first  word here مطور  echoes the second طور ( = tūr, "the Mount") with the twice t-w-r successive letters. On a grammatical level this textual reading poses problems. If though مطور   following the opening use of  mumawwaj / mumawwij this might simply give active force to t-w-r as indicative of a mountain mutawwar / mutawwir might perhaps meaning something like `a mountain building force' (cf. Q. 78:20) on which a divine theophany might occur.

Textual Notes

Alternatively, though less likely, the first word here مطور  could be regarded as an Arabic verbal noun or participle expressive of the triliteral root m-t-r meaning "to rain".  The Qur'anic Arabic root t-w-r occurs once ay Q.71:14 where there is reference to God having created the people or things in atwar an , "in stages" (sing. tawr) of creation for there are "seven heavens (sab`a samawat) one above the other (tibaq an)" (Q. 71:15b). Another alternative reading as  مطوف = m-t-w-f  (for m-t-w-r - the letter  "r" having been replaced by an  "f"), yielding mutawwif, an active participle form indicating that the tūr al-ghaybiyya (Hidden Mount) would `move around' or circumambulate (root t-w-f) the  falak al-zuhūr, effecting the heavenly zone, sphere or firmament (falak) of the person expressing the divine theophany (al-zuhūr) or manifestation. The Hidden scene of the "Mount" of the divine theophany, becomes the sphere of a new era of Divine disclosure (al-zuhūr).

The word al-tūr (the Mount) here is a Qur'anic term occuring 10 times therein. It is the title of one of its Meccan Surahs, the Surat al-Tūr (The Surah of the Mount), Surah 52 which is 49 verses long. It commences with the oath, "Wa'-Tur, "By the Mount!". This word with the definite article (al-Tūr) several times denotes Mount Sinai in the Arabic Qur'an, the famous mountain on which Moses encountered and communicated with God, indirectly self-manifesting from  a Tree (al-shajarat) which corresponds to the סנה‎,  (Heb. seneh) the "burning bush" in the Hebrew Bible (see Exodus 3:2, etc).

We may note here the interesting exegesis of the beginning of Q. 52  often attributed to the great Ibn al-`Arabī (d.638/1240) but deriving from his eminent devotee `Abd al-Razzāq al-Kāshānī (d. c. 730/ 1330) whose Tafsīr is often printed as if that of his master.  The following is an extract from Kāshānī’s commentary on the Sūra of the Mount (al-ṭūr, Q. 52:1-5);

"By the Mount!" (wa’l-ṭūr). The "Mount" (al-ṭūr) is the mountain on which Moses conversed with Him [God]. It [symbolically] signifies the human brain (al-dimāgh al-insānī) which is a manifest locus of intellect and articulation (maẓhar al-`aql wa’l-nuṭq).... its Being is the locus of the Divine Command (maẓhar al-amr al-ilāhī) and the seat of the Pre-Eternal Decree (al-qiḍā’ al-azalī). "And the Book Outstretched" (wa’l-kitāb al-masṭūr) is the all-encompassing form (ṣūrat al-kull) according to what interfaces with Him of the established order (al-niẓām al-ma`lūm). It is what is engraved in the Tablet of the Decree (lawḥ al-qiḍā’) and the Most Great Spirit (rūḥ al-a`ẓam) ... (Ibn `Arabī / al-Kāshānī, Tafsir II:553).
`Abd al-Razzāq al-Kashānī, Tafsir al-Qur'ān al-Karīm. 2 Vols 1. Edited by Mustafa Ghalib. Beirut: Dar al-Andalus, 1399/1978. 

The lengthy Persian Tafsir of  Bahā’ al-Dīn Muḥammad ibn Shaykh `Alī al-Sharīf al-Lāhijī (d.  11th/17th cent.), the Tafsīr-i sharīf-i Lāhijī (vols. 1-2 ed. Mīr Jalāl al-Din Ḥusaynī Armavī.  Vols. 3-4 ed. Muḥammad Ibrāhīm Āyatī.  4 Vols.  Tehran: Mu’assasih-i Maṭbū`āt al-`Ilmī, 1340/1961) known as the Tafsīr-i sharīf-i Lāhijī contains a basic statement about the significance of al-ṭūr (the Mount, and the Surah title) in Q. 53:1 :

"By the Mount! (wa'l-ṭūr)" This is an invocation of Mount Sinai (ṭūr sina), that is to say, a "mountain"  (Per., kūh) on which his eminence Kalīm Allāh ("He who conversed with God" = Moses) hearkened unto the Divine Discourse (kalām Allāh). And this Mount Sinai is a mountain in a city (madīnah) [in the Holy Land] and, in the Syriac-Aramaic language (zaban-i suryānī), ṭūr indicates a quintessential mountain (muṭlaq-i jabal)" (vol.4: 273).

See Tafsīr-i sharīf-i Lāhijī, ed. Mīr Jalāl al-Din Ḥusaynī Armavī. Vols. 3-4 ed. Muḥammad Ibrāhīm Āyatī. 4 Vols. Tehran: Mu’assasih-yi Maṭbū`āt al-`Ilmī, 1340/1961.

The Mount! (al-ṭūr) in the Qayyum al-asma' of the Bab.

In Qayyum al-asma' Sūrah 107, the Sūrat al-Nikah (The Surah of  Matrimony), the Bab makes the following assocations of the theophanic "Mount"

 يا اهل العرش

اسمعوا ندائی من تلك الحروف المغنّية فی ذلك التّفسيرالاكبر علی لحن الحقّ من هذا الفتی العربیّ الكرّوبیّ علی طور البهاء انّی انا الحقّ لا اله الّا انا العلیّ و انّی قد كنت بالحقّ علی العالمين محيطاً ه

O Denizens of the Celestial Throne! (ahl al-`arsh)

Hearken ye unto my Call from these letters (al-hurūf) warbled forth within this supreme Tafsir [Sūrat Yūsuf], in Truth, in very Truth, from this Cherubic (al-karrūbi) Arabian Youth (al-`fata al-`arabi) upon the Mount of Baha' (tūr al-baha'), [proclaiming], "I am indeed the True One (ana al-haqq), no God is there except I Myself, the Elevated. And I was indeed, in Truth, One All-Encompassing (al-muhit an) of all the worlds" (QA. CVII [107] INBMC III:222).

In the next Surat al-Dhikr (The Surah of the Remembrance, QA no. 108) the Bab offers a series of elevated claims some again "mountain" or `Mount Sinai' and theophany related:

و انّ هذا لهو النّور فی لانوار فی بحبوحة الجبال علی يمين العرش خلف القاف قد كان مكنوناً مخزوناً ه

اانّ هذا لهو القمص الظّهور و السّرّ البطون فی الكتب السّمإ قد كان حول السّرّمسطوراً ه

ان هذا شجرة الفؤاد علی طور السّيناء قد كان للّه الحقّ مشهوداً ه

"This is assuredly the Light (al-nur) among the Lights (al-anwar) in the mid-most heart of the Mountain (buhbuhat al-jabal) at the Right-Hand side of the Divine Throne (al-`arsh) beyond Mount Qaf. It was indeed treasured up and hidden away (maknun an makhzun an). This is indeed the Robe of the Theophany (qamis al-zuhur) and the concealed Mystery (al-sirr al-butun) within the Heavenly Books. Such was indeed concealed nigh the Mystery (hawl al-sirr). This is assuredly the Tree of the Inmost Heart (shajarat al-fu'ad) upon Mount Siani (tur al-sina'). The same hath ever been before God, the True One, a matter evident!" (QA. CVIII [108] INBMC III: 224).

In the Surat al-Insha' (The Surah of What is Willed by God!",  QA. LXVII [67]), the Bab associates himself as the messianic Dhikr (Remembrance) with the theophanic "Light" on Mount Sinai :

  و انّ هذا الذّكر لهو النّور فی الطّور الظّهور

"This Dhikr (Remembrance) is assuredly the Light (al-nur) in the Mount pertaining to the Divine Theophany (al-tur al-zuhur)" (QA 67 INBMC III: 136).

The Hidden Mount Hidden Mount (al-tur al-ghaybiyya).

That the "Mount" as the elevated locus or scene of theophanic disclosure and revelation is said to be ghaybiyya, hidden or concealed, is perhaps meant to underline the messianic secret of the person of Baha'u'llah. The time ws not right for him to eclipse the person and position of his half-brother Mirza Yahya Nuri (d. Famagusta, Cyprus, 1914), then the appointed head of the Babi community. The location of the "Hidden Mount" is described as being related to the "Firmament of the Theophany (falak al-ẓuhūr). High level activity on the "Mount" of the person of Baha'u'llah is linked with a (Ar.) falak, a circuit, celestial body or heavenly sphere, a "firmament' where divine disclosure might be realized. It is a falak al-ẓuhūr, a heavenly locality, sphere, boundary or limit where something is to be made manifest, disclosed or revealed.

We may note at this point that there appears to be a relationship between the opening paragraphs of the Lawḥ-i kull al-Ṭa`ām and certain sections of the 29th Surat al-huriyya (the Surah of the Maiden) in the Qayyum al-asma' of the Bab, In the 15th verse we read :

He is the Light (al-nur) in the [Sinaitic, theophanic] Dual Mounts (al-turayn) [cf.the two B's in the word Bab). And He is the Criterion (al-furqan) in the two dispensations [eras] (al-durayn). And He is God who hath ever been Powerful over all things (kull shay') (QA. XXIX [29]

The Bab as the Divine Youth associates himself with the twin Mounts. For Baha'u'llah  in c. 1854, this might have alluded to himself and the Bab or to himself and Yahya as representatives of the Bab. Several of the key theological phrases in the the opening paragraphs of the Lawḥ-i kull al-Ṭa`ām are also found in QA XXIX. It seems probable that Baha'u'llah drew attention to this prophetic Surah of his forerunner having had a  theophanic experience of the houri or celestial Maiden as reflected in the Rashh-i `ama' ( cf. the houri-' hahuti, the God-like, Apophtic Maiden) which came to be associated with the messianic year "nine", with 1269/ 1862-3 CE. The Lawḥ-i kull al-Ṭa`ām should be studied in connection with an analysis of parts of Qayyum al-asma' XXIX.

The Sphere-Orbit-Firmament of the Theophany (falak al-ẓuhūr).

It should be added at this point that the Arabic word falak ("firmament", sphere) is Qur'anic Arabic rooted in the biblical cosmology of the book of Genesis (1:7ff). This word occurs twice in this sacred text (Q. 21:33; Q. 36:40) and means  something like celestial "orbit", "sky"  (so A.J. Arberry, Q. trans.), firmament , sphere, etc. :

Q, Surat al-Anbiya' - 21:32-3 "[32] And We made the heaven / sky (al-sama') a well-protected roof / covering (saqf an mahfuz an). [33] He it is who created night and day, the sun and the moon, each revolving on its falak (orbit, sphere, firmament, etc)...

Q. Surat Ya-Sin - 36:40 "It behoves not the sun to overtake the moon, neither does the night outstrip the day, each revolving in its [own] falak, [or `orbit, sky, firmament' ... (kull fi falak in yasbahuna).

In the Ta'rīkh al-rusul wa'l-mulūk of al-Ṭabarī (d. 310/923) (see above) there is much of interest in the above connection as there is in the same polymatic writer's massive Qur'an commentary  entitled  Jāmi` al-bayān `an ta’wīl āy al-Qur’ān (The Assembling of the Exposition of the Exegesis of the verses of the Qur'an) on the above cited verses. In the Tarikh (History) we at one point read in a tradition closely relating the  cosmic oceans and the celestial spheres: 

"God created an ocean three farsakhs (18 kilometers) removed from heaven. Waves contained ["a well-protected roof" saqf an mahfuz an, Qur. 21:32], it stands in the air by the command of God. No drop of it is spilled. All the oceans are motionless, but that ocean flows at the rate of the speed of an arrow. It is set free to move in the air evenly, as if it were a rope stretched out in the area between east and west. The sun, the moon, and the retrograde stars " [al-khunnas in Qur. 81: 56] run in its deep swell. This is (meant by) God's word: "Each swims in a sphere." [see Qur. 21:33 and 36:40] "The sphere" is the circulation of the chariot in the deep swell of that ocean"  (trans. and notes Rosenthal,  Tarikh/ The History of al-Tabarī, 1989 1:235).

Later Islamic Tafsir and mystical philosophy made much of the concept of heavenly orbits or celestial zones referred to as falak (plural, aflak). Avicenna or Ibn Sina (d. Hamadan, 1037 CE) in his Kitab al-hudud (Book of Definitions) gave a basic definion for falak (celestial sphere) as follows, "a simple round substance, not receptive to generation or corruption, having motion naturally towards the center, enfolding it" (trans. Kiki Kennedy-Day, ` The Book of Definitions in Islamic Philosophy', London, New York: Routledge Curzon, 2003, p,108. No.47).

The number, nature, cosmic positioning, interrelationships and spiritual dimensions of these heavenly falak, the spheres,  were the subject of almost endless, often complicated correspondences. The Great Shaykh Ibn al-`Arabi (d, 638/1240) in his al-Futuhat al-Makkiyya and many other writings uses and interpretes the various celestial sometimes nine aflak (spheres) in articulating his often complex multi-faceted cosmology of the spheres. This can have deep Arabic letter centered connotations as well as human, angelological and other senses and dimensions. An example of this occurs towards the beginning of his weighty, aforementioned, `Meccan Revelations or Openings', in a complex discussion of the ma`rifat al-huruf, the gnosis of the letters of the Arabic alphabet


A key, major representative of the school of Ibn al-`Arabi, ʿAbd al-Razzāq al-Kāshānī (see above), also provides many examples of esoteric sphere related cosmology. We may recall his interpretion of verses within the Surat al-Baqara (Q. 2: 86-101 and 2:255) which registers a sometimes  biblically rooted (cf. Ezekiel 1 and 10) angelological aspects of the the celestial zones described as aflak:

"This is manifest [in meaning] and can be known from what has already been [mentioned in previous verses]. The exoteric sense is that Gabriel is the active intellect[ al-`aql al-fa`al), Michael is the spirit of the sixth celestial sphere [ruh al-falak al-sadis] , from his intellect emanates the universal vegetative soul [l'l-nafs al-nabatiyya al-kulliyya] charged with the provision of [God’s] servants [azraq al-`ibad] ; Isrāfīl is the spirit of the fourth celestial sphere [al-ruh al-falak al-rabi`] , from his intellect emanates the universal animal soul [l'l-nafs al-hawaniyya al-kulliyya] that is in charge of the animals [al-haywanat]; ʿIzrāʾīl is the spirit of the seventh celestial sphere [al-ruh al-falak al-sabi`] and he is in charge of all human spirits (arwah al-insaniyya] which he seizes by himself or through intermediaries who are his assistants whereupon he hands them over to God, exalted be He....

[> p. 101 on Q. 2:255] As for the greater glorious throne [al-`arsh al-majid al-akbar], it is the First Spirit [al-ruh al-awwal]. The representation of both [the ʿarsh and the kursī] and their image in the witnessed [world] are [respectively] the greatest sphere [al-falak al-a`zam] and the eighth [sphere] [al-thamin] which encompasses the seven heavens and all that is in them." (Kashani, Tafsīr ʿAbd al-Razzāq al-Kāshānī, Great Commentaries on the Holy Qur'an. Part I Surahs 1-18. Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, Fons Vitae;  trans. Feras Hamza  [translit added] pp. 56 and101).

Falak - Aflak in the Writings of `Abd al-Karim al-Jili [Gilani] ( d. c.XXXX /1408)

`Abd al-Karim al-Jili [Gilani] is most famous for his writing of the al-Insān al-kāmil fī ma‘rifat al-awākhir wa-al-awā’ilal (The Perfect Human ...) but it is in another shorter Arabic treatise entitled Marātib al-wujūd wa-ḥaqīqat kull mawjūd  (The Levels of Existence  and the Reality of the whole of Existent Being). Therein al-Jili sets forth a detailed forty level schemata of the modes, Source and Realities of existence from the Unseen "Essence of the Essence" which is the Godhead (dhat al-dhat), through at level 23 (as Fitzroy Morrissey translates and sums it up) " 23 The Satin Orbit (al-falak al-aṭlasī) – an essential, existential orbit that revolves below the [Divine] Footstool and above the rest of the orbits"  (Morrissey, 2020:39) mentioning many more aflak (orbits) and ending in level forty with al-insan, the man or human who is a microcosmic reality. The level referred to as firmaments and select other categories of exitence as as follows:





`Abd al-Karim al-Jili [Gilani].

  • al-Insān al-kāmil fī ma‘rifat al-awākhir wa-al-awā’il. Ed. Ṣalāḥ ibn Muḥammad ʿUwayḍah. Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-‘ilmiyyah, 1997.
  • Marātib al-wujūd wa-ḥaqīqat kull mawjūd. Cairo: Maktabat al-Qāhirah, 1420/  1999.

Morrissey, Fitzroy.

  • Sufism and the Perfect Human. From Ibn al-`Arabī to al-Jīlī.in  (Routledge Sufi Series  ed. Ian Richard Netton, No. 24), Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group : London and New York, 2020.

The Aflak, Orbits-Firmaments in the Zawahir al-hikam ("The Radiant Blossoms of the Sages") of Hakim Fadil Mirza Hasan Lahiji  (d. Qumm, 1121/ 1709)

It may also be noted here that  the Safavid era sage  Hakim Fadil Mirza Hasan Lahiji  (d. Qumm, 1121/ 1709) in his Zawahir al-hikam ("The Radiant Blossoms of the Sages") had occasion to refer to  the number and nature of the al-aflak al-kulliyya (the universal spheres, firmaments) which are often reckoned to be nine:

It is necessary for these kinds of motion that there be nine all-encompassing, interrelated  aflak (spheres) designated universal spheres (al-aflak al-kulliyya)  which are :

  • (1) The Falak (Sphere, Firmament) expressing motion, a daily motion (al-harakat al-yawmiyya). Such is the trajectory of the stars (khal al-kawakib), the traces of which are effaced (mamhi) thereby. They are thus designated al-falak al-aṭlas, the Atlas (Gk. Ἄτλας ' the personified supporter of the celestial spheres; a phenomenon sometimes referred to as the "crystalline sphere") firmament-sphere also referred to as the Supreme Falak -Sphere (al-falak al-a`la) and  the `Sphere of Spheres' (falak al-aflak), for it encompasses everything ("the All", al-kull).
  • (2) Second, Falak al-thawabit, the Sphere of the Fixed Stars.
  • (3) Third, Falak al-Zuhal, the Sphere of the planet Saturn.
  • (4) Fourth, [Falak] al-Mushtari, pertaining to the [Sphere of] the planet Jupiter.
  • (5) Fifth [Falak] al-Mirrikh, pertaining to the [Sphere of] the planet Mars.
  • (6) Sixth [Falak] al-Shams, pertaining to the [Sphere of] the Sun.
  • (7) Seventh [Falak] al-Zuhara, pertaining to the [Sphere of] the planet Venus.
  • (8) Eighth [Falak] al-`Utarid, pertaining to the [Sphere of] the planet Mercury.
  • (9) Ninth [Falak] al-Qamar, pertaining to the [Sphere of] the Moon. 

Ennumerating from the very lowest, the first [falak] is the Moon (al-qamar) and the ninth [falak] is al-Atlas [the supportive "crystalline sphere"] ... 

Arabic text translated by Lambden from Jalāl al-Dīn Āshtiyānī ed. + Corbin (introd.), Muntakhabātī az āthār-i ḥukamā-yi ilāhī-i Īrān az ʻaṣr-i Mīr̄ Dāmad va Mīr Findariskī tā zamān-i ḥāẓir, Vol. III. Tehran/ Paris 1976, pp. 266-268.

Falak (`Celestial Spheres') in Early Shaykhism

The falak or rather (plural) aflak (`celestial spheres') are interpreted within numerous texts and treatises expressive of early al-Shaykhiyya (Shaykhism), the Shi`i imamocentric school first articulated by Shaykh Ahmad al-Ahsa'i (d. near Medina, 1241/1826) and Sayyid  Kazim al-Husayni al-Rashti (d. Karbala, 1259 /1843). Something of the often complex, and esoteric dimensions of the numerous interrelated celestial realms sometimes designated falak are expressed by al-Ahsa'i in his Risala al-Qaṭīfīyya, a treatise written in reply to 71 questions posed by Shaykh Aḥmad ibn Sāliḥ ibn Tūq al-Qaṭīfī. Just a few lines within this erudite reply can be tentatively translated here as they have a bearing on the background of Babi-Baha'i primary scriptural sources (see Jawami` al-Kalim, vol. 1 Pt.ii pp, 114-147 esp. Q. 6 -7  on page 117):

Q.6. Regarding the relationship between the number of the fixed stars (al-thawabit) as a manifestation of the [single]  al-`aql [al-`uqul] (Primal "Intellect [s]") and the related yet various aflak al-kulliyya, "the univesal spheres". 

ADD Text and summary trans.

Q.7. Regarding the issue of the significance of the  aflak al-buruj, "the spheres of the zodiacal contsellations" and the associated yet differentiated falak al-manazil, "sphere of the waystations" or mansions...

Q.7 The Reply [of al-Ahsa'i], Summary translation 

Now the intention of the sphere of the constellations [of the zodiac] (falak al-buruj) and the falak (sphere) which constitute the interrelated waystations (al-manazil al-mugharirin) nigh the [heavenly] al-Kursi (the Divine Pedestal) and those supplementary to these two, is such that it is indicative of their support being something universal (al-kull), yet specifically regulated through dependece upon the cosmic Ox-Taurus (hukm al-thawr) in the lower world (`alam al-sufla). And the sphere of the constellations (falak al-buruj) is specifically regulated as dependent upon the [supernal cosmic] "Rock" (al-sakhra) which is above Taurus [the Ox] (al-thawr) and beneath the [Controlling] Angelic Being (al-malak) which is the bearer of the earth. 

As for our statement that the  Falak al-Zuhal, the Sphere of the planet Saturn

Sayyid Kazim Rashti on falak in the Khutba al-ṭutunjiyya of Imam `Ali (see above)

A few lines below Imam `Ali and the Bab's claim to be stationed over the twin cosmic "gulfs" (tutunjayn) in the Khutba al-Tutunjiyya (see above) there is reference to the celestial falak. In this cryptic sometimes cosmological literary oration we read:

وهو في البحرالسابع يجري في الفلك في زخاخيره النجوم والحبك

"Such is within the seventh Ocean which flows in the celestial sphere (al-falak); within its brimming oceanic expanse are the stars (al-nujum) and their orbits (al-hubuk, cf. Q. 51:7)".

The seventh, heavenly oceanic expanse, is said to flow within a celestial falak (sphere or domain). The celestial `music of the spheres' is also mentioned a little later in the Khutba al-Tutunjiyya where we  read :

"If it were not for the reverberation of  the summit of Paradise, the confluence of the  twin Gulfs (ikhtilaṭ al- tuṭunjayn), and the shrill sound / music of the celestial sphere (sarīr al-falak), all that are in the heavens and the earth would hearken unto the dissipation of  solar  heat (ramīm al-ḥamīm) attendant upon the descent of the sun into the [cosmic abyss,  the] black,  watery Expanse (al-mā' al-aswad)  which is the muddy well-spring (al-`ayn al-ḥami`a)  (cf. Q.18:86[84])."

In commenting upon the above lines of the Khutba al-utunjiyya, Sayyid Kazim al-Rashti makes a number of deep statements about the falak  and its various operations and definitions. Only a small portion of these observations of the second Shaykhi leader can be translated or  summed up in detail here. After discousing upon cosmological and other aspects of the "four elements" (tarbi`a  al-`anasir) and their threefold generative powers relative to the al-jaww al-awwal, "the First Firmament", The Shaykhi leader al-Rashti, notes that the al-aflak, the celestial spheres and the four meta-"elements" are interrelated. He teaches that the al-asma' wa'l-sifat, the "Divine Names and Attributes" result from this generative relationship between these cosmic realities. The result is the  al-asma' al-ilahiyya, "the Divine Names" which are taken to be "active forces" (al-fa`aliyya) which are supremely "Reality centered" (al-haqiqa) and  XXXX [text uncertain] (Sh-Khuba, I:67-8).

An extract from the Sharh al-Khutba al-Tutunjiyya ("Commentary on the Sermon of the Gulf")

"... for the first of the stations [levels, modes] of the divine theophany (maqāmāt al-zuhur) is al-wāhid (the outreaching "Unicity") since this expressed a linkge [`unitative patch'] (ratq  an cf. Q. 21:31) hence it split asunder and resulted in threefoldness (al-thalātha) through  its yielding Oneness (al-ahad) yet expressing the `ay`ān al-thābita, the "fixed / immutable entities" as well as the order (ratba) of its [various] levels [stations] (maqāmāt). These three (al-thalātha) [modes of the Divine theophany] were thus an outreach (ratq an ) which resulted in another outreach of nine  (al-tis`a) on account of its being uprooted and effected through its differentiation by virtue of the levels of its own Persona-Self (marātib nafsi-hā). Wherefore the result was Nine[fold] (al-tis`a) [realities] for these are the bases and the causes [foundations] (al-usul wa'l-`illal). So since there was a relationship between al-Ahad ("Oneness") and al-Wāhid (the outreaching "Unicity") which was expressive of Threefoldness (al-thalātha), there was [thus also] something Fourfold (al-arba`a). Thus came about the [four] Elemental Bases (al-`anāsir [ sing. `unsur]). Thus also were the al-aflāk (sing. falak), the  cosmic Spheres, associated with the [four] Elemental Bases (al-`anāsir).

And therefrom were  born the Divine Names (al-asmā' al-ilāhiyya) which are Active, Immutable Realities (al-fa`iliyya al-haqiqa al-lātnāhiyya). Thus, the first of the  al-aflāk, the cosmic Spheres which were cleft asunder  (al-maftuqa) yet consolidated (al-martuq) on account of the Divine Theophany (min al-zuhur)  is the [Personal] Name [of God] Allāh. This is the Supreme, Universal Falak (Cosmic Sphere) (al-falak al-a`zam al-kulliyya) which is All-Surrounding (al-muhit), under active compulsion to function (al-musakhkhar) relative to all the Cosmic Spheres operative through the Divine Names (al-aflāk al-asmā'iyya). And the second Cosmic Sphere (al-falak al-thāniyya) is the Name of God al-Rahman, the All-Merciful ...

He continues,

"The first of the al-aflak (spheres) is the one pre-eminent among those of interrelated appearence. This is the Name [of God] Allah which is the Most Great, Universal, All-Encompassing Sphere (al-falak al-a`zam al-kulli al-muhit) which is determinitive in functionality (al-musakhkhar) relative to all of the divinely designated spheres (li-kull al-aflak al-asma'iyya). And the second al-falak, Sphere, is the Name of God al-Rahman (the All-Merciful), "By whatever [Name] ye summon Him, to Him belong the Most Beautiful Names (al-asma al-husna)" (Q. 17:110b). Now as for the [other] seven spheres (aflak  al-sab`ah) generated from these two most mighty  spheres (al-falakayn al-a`zamayn), the seventh of them which incorporates the other four, is the Name of God al-Badi` (The Absolute Generating Cause)... And this is a foundational locale (matrah) differentiated from the manifestation of  two most Elevated Names (al-ismayn al-a`liyyayn).  It is thus dependent upon the esoteric dimension (batin) of the Name Allah (God) for it is generated by the seventh sphere (al-falak al-sabi`)  which is the Lord  [Master/Overseer] (al-rabb). And it is by virtue of its exoteric aspect (zahir) that the ninth firmament-sphere (al-falak al-tasi`) is generated for this [the moon] is something perspicuous [clear] (al-mubin).

Falak in the Qayyum al-asma'

In the Qayyum al-asma' the word فلك  falak (firmament, sphere) occurs about fourteen times. Firstly in the tenth Surat al-`Ama' (The Sirah of the Theophanic Cloud) we read :

و انّا نحن قد مننا علی يوسف و اخوته بايات من سرّ فلك الباب عظيما العظيم مبيناً

And We, verily, We cast Divine Bounty upon Joseph and his brothers through [the revelation of divinely revealed] verses by virtue of the secret mystery of the expository [pristine] (mubin an) Mighty,  All-Mighty firmament of the Gate (falak al-bab).

In the Sirat al-Qarabah (The Surah of the Kinsfolk [of the Bab = QA XXIX [29]) we find the following reference in an address to the celestial `Concourse of Lights' :

 يا ملأ الانوار

فاستمعوا ندائی فی تلك الورقة الحمراء علی تلك الشّجرة البيضاء فی فلك الطّورالسّيناء انّی انا اللّه الّذی لا اله الّا انا

O Concourse of Lights (mala' al-anwar)!

Hearken ye one and all unto My Call from this Crimson Leaf (al-waraqat al-hamra') on this Snow-White Tree (al-shajarat al-bayda') in the firmament of the Sinaitic Mount (falak al-tur al-sina'), `I, verily, am God who, no God is there except Me'...

Falak in the The Surat al-Huriyya (The Surah of the Maiden), QA XXIX [29]

و انّ اللّه لمّا خلق آدم وزوجها فی فلك الجنّة فقلنا لهما لاتقربا هذه الكلمة و اسمعا من ورق الجنّة الحان الطّيور المنغمة فی مإ المسك باذن اللّه انّی انا اللّه الّذی لا اله الّا هو و هو اللّه كان عليّاً قديماً

At the time when God created Adam and his wife in the celestial sphere of Paradise (falak al-jannat) We said to the pair of them, `Draw ye not nigh this Word (al-kalimat) but give ear unto the Leaf of Paradise (waraq al-jannat), to the Melodies of the Birds intoning, with the permission of God, within the domain of the Watery Expanse of Musk (ma' al-misk) [saying], "I, verily am God, Who, no God is there except Him. And He is God, One All-Knowing, Ancient of Days' (QA. XXIX [29] in INBMC III:51),

It will be appropriate to mention here that in his Persian Bayan II. 8 (printed ed. p.38)  the Bab mentions al-falak al-aṭlas, the Atlas (Gk. Ἄτλας ") in Persian as falak-i aṭlas, the personified supporter of the celestial spheres, as well as the falak-i kursi, "the sphere of the Divine Pedestal" located  in the heavens (samawat).

When Baha'u'llah refers to the falak al-zuhur, the "firmament of the theophany", he appears to personify his person as a celestial sphere about the shine forth with the theophanic radiance of revelatory guidance.

نفس البطون وجهة الازلانيه

[Id] the Concealed Logos-Self (nafs al-butūn), the Focal Centre of Eternality (wijhat al-azaliyya).

Commentary [I:2]

"He caused the Lordly Point (nuqtat al-rubūbiyya) to circle round the Most-Splendid, All-Enduring Ornament to the end, that all might testify that He is the True One. No God is there save Him".

Commentary [2a] He caused the Lordly Point (nuqtat al-rubūbiyya)

The phrase Lordly Point (nuqtat al-rubūbiyya) very likely indicated the generative power of the person of the Bab now living in the celestial world after his martyrdom on July 9th 1850. That this Point" now revolves around the [2b] Most-Splendid, All-Enduring Ornament perhaps indicates the person of Baha'u'llah.  As a result all Babis and others might bear witness unto the Truth through him, [2c] to the end that all might testify that He is the True One. No God is there save Him".

و مكور نقطة الربوبيه من طرزالابهية الصمدانية

Commentary [1:3] "He, verily, is the Incomparable (al-fard), the One (al-ahad), the Eternal (al-samad), Who neither begetteth nor is begotten. He can never be likened to any single thing.  And He, God, is the All-Majestic (al-mutakabbir), the All-Compelling (al-jabbār)".

و انّه لهو الفرد الاحد الصمد الذی لم يلد و لم يولد

و ليس كمثله شئی و هو اللّه المتكبر الجبار

Transliteration of 1:3 with Qur'an text indicated:

Wa innahu la-huwa al-fard al-ahad al-samad alladhi "lam yalid wa lam yulad" [Q. 112:3] "wa laysa ka-mithlihi shay'" [Q. 42:11b], Wa Huwa Allah al-mutakabbir al-jabbār...

Annotated Translation of I:3 :

[3] "He, verily, is the Incomparable, the One, the Eternal, "Who neither begetteth nor is begotten" [Q.112:3] "He can never be likened to any single thing" [Q. 42:11; cf Q. 112:4].  And He, God, is the All-Majestic (al-mutakabbir), the All-Compelling (al-jabbār)."

This third division basically has three elements, firstly, the line  ليشهدن الكل بانه هو الحق لا اله الّا هو  which indicates that the earlier activities for which God is lauded or praised have the purpose of enabling everyone or all to testify to the act that He, God himselfe or he representative is indeed the True One, al-Haqq for He alone is the Divine Being behind the creative, regenerative activity. The Oneness and Uniqueness of God is underlined when the (first part of the ) shahada  (`testimony of faith' = lā ilāha illā Allāh, "there is no God but God" ) like phrase لا اله الّا هو  lā ilāha illā huwa, "there is no God except Him (huwa)" is present. This is confirmed through the following second phrase expressing the oneness and singularity of God drawing upon the Qur'ānic Surat al-Ikhlās (Q.112) :

و انّه لهو الفرد الاحد الصمد الذی لم يلد و لم يولد و ليس كمثله شئی و هو اللّه المتكبر الجبار

Both the Bab and Baha'u'llah frequently cited, rewrote and interpreted Q.112 or verses within this centrally important Surah of the Qur'ān. The brief, four verse Meccan, Surat al-Ikhlās, `The Surah of Sincerity' or Purity, also known as the Surat al-Tawhid, the `Surah of the Divine Unity',  may be cited at this point :

A good example of the Bab's drawing upon Q.112 is found in his 1260/1844 Qayyum al-asma' or Tafsir Surat Yusuf (Commentary on the Surah of Joseph, Q.12). In the Sūrat al-Bahr (The Surah of the Ocean) - sometimes designated the Surat al-Shajarah (The Surah of the Tree) on Qur'ān 12: 20 - verse thirty-six verse we read :


يا قرّة العين

O Solace of Mine Eyes! (the Bab)

قُلْ هُوَ اللَّهُ لا اله الّا هو اللّه أَحَدٌ  صَّمَدُ لَمْ يَلِدْ وَلَمْ يُولَدْ وَلَمْ يَكُن لَّهُ كُفُوًا شريك فی الملك و كبّره بالحقّ فی نفس الباب كبيراً ه

Say: He is God (huwa Allāh) [Q, 112:1]. No God is there except Him. God [the] One (ahad), [God the] All-Eternal (samad) [Q.112:2]. [37] "He begetteth not,  neither is He begotten" (lam yalid wa lam yulad) [Q. 112:3]. There is not anything comparable unto Him [112:4a], no associate" [alongside Him] in the worldly dominion (sharik fi al-mulk). [38] And He, in very Truth greatly, supremely  magnifies Him through the Logos-Self [Person] of the Bab (nafs al-bāb). 

The four verse Surah 112 (Surat al-Ikhlas) of the Qur'an (see image above) then, forms the basis of QA XXI (21) verse 36f (verse numbering here is uncertain). There are a few additions and omissions including the definite article before samad in verse two. Verse one is cited in full followed by the "la ilaha illa Allah" (There is no God but God"; see Q. 3:18a) which is very, very often used in the Qur'an and Islamic literatures as it is in the writings of the Bab.

In his Lawḥ-i kull al-Ṭa`ām I:3, Baha'u'llah thus draws upon Q, 112 in the context of celebrating the tawhid or oneness of God.

Commentary I:3b

و ليس كمثله شئی و هو اللّه المتكبر الجبار

"And He, God, is the All-Majestic (al-mutakabbir), the All-Compelling (al-jabbār)."

This line at the end of I:3 is basically a citation of the almost last words of the eleventh verse of the forty-second Meccan Surat al-Shurā (The Surah of the Companions), wa laysa ka-mithlihi shay'. "There is nothing like unto Him". The last two Names of God al-mutakabbir the All-Majestic and al-jabbār , "the All-Compelling" occur as adjacent Names of God in the Qur'anic Surat al-Hashr (The Surah of the Confrontation),  Q. 59:23 which contains a rich and massively influential list of eight Names of God, reads as follows :

"He is God who, no God is there except Him, al-Mulk (the King), al-Quddus (the Most Holy), al-Salām (the Flawless), the Faithful (al-Mu'min), al-Muhaymin (the Help in Peril), al-`Aziz (the Mighty), al-Jabbār (the All-Compelling") al-Mutakabbir (The All-Majestic).  So Glorified be God beyond whatever thy associate with Him" (Q. 39:23).

These two final Divine Attributes  al-mutakabbir and al-jabbar  are often counted among the 99 Names of God as relayed according to various traditions through the companion Abu Hurayrah (d. d.c. 58/678) or Imam `Ali ibn Abu Talib (d.40/661). In his well-known  al-Maqṣad al-asnā fī sharḥ ma`ānī asmā’ Allāh al-ḥusnā ("The Most Brilliant Design in Commentary upon the meaning of the `Most Beautiful Names of God"), the Sunni mystic, philosopher and theologian `Abū Ḥāmid Muhammad  al-Ghazālī (d. 505/1111) offers detailed comments on both these Names of God as Nos, 10  al-mutakabbir (The All-Majestic) and No. 11  al-Jabbār (the All-Compelling") according to the prophetic tradition (from Muhammad) commented upon by him in the al-Maqsad. See :

  • Al-Maqṣad al-asnā fī sharḥ ma`ānī asmā’ Allāh al-ḥusnā.  Arabic text edited Fadlou A. Shehadi (2nd ed.) Beirut: Dar al-Machreq Editeurs Sarl, 1982. Refer pages 78-79.
  • al-Ghazali on the Ninety-Nine Beautiful Names of God: al-Maqsad, al-Asna, Fi Sharh Asma', Allah al-Husna. Translated with Notes by David B. Burrell and Nazih Daher. Cambridge: Islamic Text Society, 1993. See pages 66-67.

The Name of God   al-Jabbār - الجبار  can not only be found in the Qur'anic Surat al-Hashr (The Surah of the Confrontation  59:23b, see above) but in  all manner of theologically interesting places in Islamic and Babi-Baha'i literatures.  An Islamic example is found in the the Mashāriq  anwār  al‑yaqīn fi asrar Amir al-Mu'minin  of Rajab al‑Bursī (d. c. 814 /1411) where we read in words ascribed to the first Imam, `Ali ibn Abi Talib (d. 40/661) : "Thus the [Arabic letter] Alif ("A") is the "Word" (al-kalimat) within which He was transfigured ("Self-revealed"; tajalli fi-ha) as  al-Jabbār, "the All-Compelling" (Mashariq, 20).

Note also that in the last paragraph of his `Tablet to the Eighteenth Letter of the Living, Muhammad `Ali Bārfurushi, Quddus (the Most Holy) (d. Bārfurush [Babol], 1849), we read : "Say: Nothing can compromize mine inimitability within the Divine Realm (lāhūt), within the Omnipotent Domain (jabarūt) of everything (kull shay’). I [the Bab], verily, am the Omnipotent Ordainer [All-Compelling] (al-Jabbār), the Supremely Great [sic.](al-`ayẓūm)." See also `A  Short Treatise of the Bab explaining the Ḥadīth of Imam Ja`far al-Ṣādiq that there is neither Jabr ("Foreordination") nor Tafwīḍ ("Freewill") for the matter is a situation (al-amr) betwixt two circumstances (al-amrayn)".   Cf. also the Surat al-Waraqa (The Surah of the Leaf), Qayyum al-asma' LXXV [75] in INBMC III: 174ff.

Commentary [I: 4-6]

الحمد لله مطفح طماطم النّارية من هيكل القدوسية الساذجية و مرشح القماقم الجماليه من رشحات السبوحية المجردانيه

[4] Praise be to God Who hath caused the Fiery Depths to overflow  from the Purified, Sanctified Temple and made the Beauteous Deep to sprinkle forth refined, glorious Dewdrops.

This line [4] utilizes terminology derived from the Hadith al-Haqiqa or the Hadith in responce to the repeated question of Kumayl ibn Ziyad al-Nakha'i from Ali Ibn Abi Talib (d.40/661) about the nature of al-haqiqa, divine Reality ot the Ultimately Real. The relevant part of the Hadith al-Haqiqa reads as follows:

Commentary II"4a. "The fiery depths" (ṭamāṭim al-nāriyya)

That the طماطم النّارية,    "the fiery depths" (ṭamāṭim al-nāriyya) wil be   مطفح  "made to overflow" alludes to the supreme "outpouring" of gnosis or knowedge of the kind Imam `Ali divulged to Kumal ibn Ziyad al-Nakha'i (when seated on the back of a she-camel) in responce to his questioning about al-haqiqa (Divine Reality). It is from the person of Baha'u'llah from which knowledge pours forth as the Haykal al-qudsiyya al-sadhijiyya, the "Purified, Sanctified Temple".

Arabic dictionaries and lexica make it clear that the root  طَمَّ  or  طما  (ṭamma) and the non-Qur'anic ṭamṭām and its plural  طماطم  ṭamāṭim (so the renowned 13th cent. Lisān al-ʿArab of Muhammad ibn Mukarram Ibn Manẓur) can have meanings associated with water or surging, overflowing seas or oceans. The greatly respected 19th  cent. Arabic-English Lexicon  of Edward William Lane (1801-1876) and the Persian-English Dictionary of Francis Joseph Steingass (1825-1903) both refers to ṭamṭām as indicating "the middle of the sea" (Lexicon, Bk.X  p.1878;  Steingass, [1892] 7th impression,1984 p. 819). From the early Islamic centuries ṭ-m-ṭ-m  rooted and related words are found in  early Islamic cosmological traditions registering primordial waters or watery expanses.

In the (previously mentioned) 14th century CE., Mashāriq anwār al-yāqīn. of Rajab al-Bursi (d. c. 814 /1411), we find a lengthy tradition (not unrelated to the aforementioned Qisas al-anbiya' registered traditions about cosmic waters (see above) relayed from the Islamo-biblical Solomon (fl. 10th cent. BCE!). It refers to an oceanic cosmological hierarchy, to the structure of the universe supported by a massive "rock of green emerald", having a cosmic ocean (bahr) and (among other things) a gigantic  "fish" (hawt). There is  al-ṭamṭām or a surging expanse  and another al-ṭamṭām above the gargantuan cosmic  "fish" (Mashariq, 43). This oceanic watery expamse and associated "fish" (hawt) imagery are scattered throughout Babi-Baha'i literatures including the Qayyum al-asma' and early Tafsir al-Ha'  of the Bab and the Rashh-i `ama'.of Baha'-Allah.

The word طماطم  ṭamāṭim (plural of  ṭamṭām) in the phrase  طماطم النّارية  ṭamāṭim al-nāriyya, translated "fiery depths" is found - often also in the singular  ṭamṭām in numerous other Babi-Baha'i primary scriptural writings rooted in these aforementioned traditions. In his Khutba `Ilm al-Huruf (Oration regarding the Science of the Letters) for example,, the Bab states:                      

[5] There hath sprinkled forth from the billowing seas of God (ṭamāṭim Allāh), the Bayan (Exposition) and many multitudes of creatures have drowned therein. [6] Yet, with the permission of God, I shall proceed with respect to it,  disclosing but the merest shadow, for none is aware of [the extent of] its magnitude save God. And Glorified be God above that which they suppose.

The singular طمطام , ṭamṭām in the Tafsir Surat wa'l-Asr (Q.103) of the Bab.

In various manuscripts of the around 120 page Tafsir wa'l-Asr, the "Commentary on the Surah of  وَالْعَصْرِ "By the Afternoon!", Q. 103) of the Bab, the word طمطام , ṭamṭām  occurs nine or so times (the plural طماطم tamatim is absent). Towards the beginning of this letterist - letter by letter - commentary  we read :

ثمّ احدث بعد ظهور خلق  الارادة طمطام يمّ القدر لظهور المقدّر و جعله ربط العليّة فی مقام المعلول و ظهور المفعوليّة فی مقام التّثليث و رتبة المجعول

ليتميّز بظهور اثره فی عوالم الامكان و ظهورات الاعيان مراتب اختيارات ذوات الممكنات و يشقی من يشقی بظهور تلك الرّتبة فی المشهد الثّالث

Loosely translated this text is as follows:

"Then after the [Initial] theophanic manifestation (zuhur) He created the Divine Intention (al-iradah) which is [expressive of ] the طمطام ṭamṭām (Surging Depth) of the Sea of Destiny (yawm al-qadr) before the manifest realization of matters foreordained (li-zuhur al-muqaddir). And He made it to be the link [in the chain of] Causation (rabt al-`illat) on the level of Productive Causality (maqām al-ma`lul) as well as the manifestation of  the Probablity of [Rational] Realization (zuhur al-maq`uliyya) on that level which is expressive of threefold Actualization (maqām al-tathlith). And such. furthermore is the level of Actualization (rutba al-maj`ul) on account of the distinguishing of the manifestation of its distinctive trace (athar) in the worlds of Potentiality (`awālim al-imkān) as well as the manifestations of the [primordial] entifications (al-a`yyān) on the levels of chosen realities (marātib al-ikhtiyārāt), ....  (text from the E G Browne ms. F9 (6) BBF7, page 7).

 We gather from theis passage that the طمطام ṭamṭām (Surging Depth) of the Sea of Destiny (yawm al-qadr) has cosmological implications relative to the loci of destiny and fate. It is a phenomenon associated with the realm of fate and destiny and of the  myriad changing possibilities of the modes of individual and collective destinyin the past and the future. ṭamṭām is thus related to "the manifest realization of matters foreordained" (li-zuhur al-muqaddir). Fate is a bottomless, surging, billowing sea of possibilities which none can ever fathom. This according to a well-known hadith cited by Baha'u'llah and others. In the fourth Valley of his Chahar Vadi (The Four Valleys) of Baha'u'llah it is written:

"The Fourth Valley. .. Were all the denizens of earth and heaven to unravel this shining allusion, this darksome riddle, until the Day when the Trumpet soundeth, yet would they fail to comprehend even a letter thereof, for this is the station of God’s immutable decree, His foreordained mystery. Hence, when searchers inquired of this, He made reply, “This is a bottomless sea which none shall ever fathom.”[From a hadith attributed to Imam `Ali ibn Abi Talib (d. 40/661)] And they asked again, and He answered, “It is the blackest of nights through which none can find his way.”.

The second ṭamṭām (Surging Depth) passage in the Tafsir  وَالْعَصْرِ By the Afternoon!", Q. 103) of the Bab.

ثمّ الرّحمة الكلّيّة النّازلة فی مقام القدر طمطام زاخر موّاج الّذی فيه تميز احكام الخلايق و يسعد من يسعد بعرفان المنزلة الّتی خلق اللّه فی منتهی ذلك المقام و يشقی من يشقی بما لايشعر بما نزل اللّه فی ذلك الطّمطام الزّاخر الموّاج ثمّ الرّحمة الّتی وسعت كلّشیء و جعلها اللّه بارئها مائة جزء كما صرح بذلك العسكریّ فی تفسيره للرّحيم و رحيم بجزء واحدة منها من يوجد فی عالم الدّنيا و بتسع و تسعين جزءاً يرحم اللّه عباده يوم القيمة بما اراد و قدّر فی الكتاب و هی الرّحمة الجامعة الّتی وسعت المؤمن و الكافر و كلّ الاشيإء وانّ بتلك الرّحمة وجدت و ذوّتت جوهريّات

Commenting on the 6th letter al-ra' ("R") of Surah 103, the Bab has it that it was the "Universal Mercifulness" (rahmat al-kulliyya) by means of which God created  the المشيّة  the Primal Will through His or its Own Logos-Self (بنفسها, bi-nafsi-ha) before everything else (قبل كلّشیء , qabl kull shay')  (EGB Ms. 42). He goes on to state that He made it the "Cause of the totality of the Essential Realities (al-dhawat)" ( علّة جميع الذّوات ). Then he further interpreted this al-ra' (R) as the "Divine Mercifulness expressive of the Unique Oneness" (الرّحمة الواحديّة - al-rahmat al-wahidiyya) through which He made further creative endeavours and then empowered the another mode of the  الرّحمة الكلّيّة النّازلة   "Universal Mercifulness" (rahmat al-kulliyya) such that it descended into the level or "station of Destiny" (مقام القدر ; the maqam al-qadr) which is expressive of the mysterious  طمطام زاخر موّاج ṭamṭām zakhir mawwaj "the Surging Depth of the Oceanic swelling (zakhir) of the  Waves [of Destiny]"  by means of which  the احكام الخلايق  ahkam al-khala'iq, "the  dictates of the realms of creation were stipulated through differentiation". Then also were the  


The third ṭamṭām (Surging Depth) passage in the Tafsir  وَالْعَصْرِ By the Afternoon!", Q. 103) of the Bab.



Other ṭamṭām (Surging Depth) references in Babi Literatures.

In a letter to Mulla Husayn Bushru'i, Tahirah, Qurrat al-`Ayn (d. 1852 CE), refers to her devotion as causing her to be one drowned in the ṭamṭām hubb, the  "surging sea of His love" (see Hosseini, Tahirih,  157 BE/2000, p.424). In Babi-Baha'i sacred writings  طمطام , طماطم , ṭamṭām or  ṭamāṭim often refers to the surging depths of God-inspired and bestowed revelation communicated to humanity through the mazhar-i ilahi, the Manifestations of God.

Lawh-i Kull al-ta`am Commentary I:4b

The طمطام  ṭamṭām  ("surging sea") / طماطم ṭamāṭim ("billowing oceans") and the qamāqam  القماقم, the abyssmal "deep".

In the next phrase of the Lawh-i kull al-ta`am  (I:4b)  طمطام    ṭamāṭim  ("surging seas") rhymes with qamāqam  القماقم meaning (loosely), the abyssmal "deep". The Arabic phrase و مرشح القماقم الجماليه من رشحات السبوحية المجردانيه  tentatively translated "and made the Beauteous Deep to sprinkle forth refined, glorious Dewdrops (rashhat)" Here مرشح القماقم   is indicatives of the sprinkling forth (r-sh-h, cf. rashh in the Hadith al-Haqiqa address of `Ali to Kumayl and the opening and later lines of the Rashh-i `ama') of the revelatory sprinking or issuing forth of the abyssmal deep    ...

Lawh-i Kull al-ta`am Commentary I:5

[5] He hath attracted the Countenances characterised by the letter "H" (al-hā') through the unique, eternal melodies and enabled the Light-filled Dove to sing forth  with warblings timeless and everlasting.

We may compare this line referring to the "Countenances characterised by the letter "H" (al-hā')" with the paragraph opening the early 1850s Surat al-Kifaya (The Surah of the Sufficiency) of Baha'u'llah:

O people of the letter "H" (al-hā')!

[2] Hearken unto the melody of the Crimson Leaf  (waraqat al-ḥamrā')  in the Paradise of the Divine Cloud (jannat al-`amā') for He, verily, is the Light  [of] the Radiant Temple [Sinaitic] (haykal al-sa[i]nā') Who acteth on behalf of God, as a Manifest Light unto the worlds  (nūr an mubīn an). [4] Bear witness unto the Countenance of the theophany (ṭal`at al-ẓuhūr) through the Robe of Light (qamīṣ al-nūr)  which is evident beyond Mount Qāf, at the right-hand side of the Mount [Sinai] (al-ṭūr)." (

The letter "H" and the word Bab both have an abjad numerical value of five. Followers of the Bab seen to be referred to as persons related to the letter "h" or to the Bab as the founder of the Babi religion.


Lawh-i Kull al-ta`am Commentary [I] 6 "This, to the end, that all might become aware that He is the True One; there is none other God besides Him, the Beneficent, the Almighty  Who cannot be described by aught save His Essence or characterized by aught save His Eminence.  He, verily, is the All-Powerful, the Wrathful."

Lawh-i Kull al-ta`am Commentary [I] 7ff. The Resplendent, Theophanic Light (al-nur).

"[7] Praise be to God Who hath caused the Light to circle round the twin Mounts of His Light and made the Light to revolve around  the twin Spheres of His Light. [8] He hath caused the Light to beam forth  in the Loci of His Light and made the Light to be retained in the Repositories of His Light. [9] He hath also caused the Light to scintillate through the impulses of His Light and made the Light to shine resplendent in the Countenances of His Light.  [10] Praise God! Praised be God! Worthy of praise is He Who establisheth His Own worth, for besides Him there is none other."


Lawh-i Kull al-ta`am Commentary [II]-Last Paragraph.


So praised be Thou, O My God, O My God! Bereft of splendor am I, until I invoke Thee  through Thy sanctified verses. [2]  No glory have I until I confide in Thee  through Thine intimate Letters. [3] Without radiance am I until I experience Thee through the secrets of Thy Might. [4] And no lustre have I until I observe Thee in the hidden retreats of Thy Light.



So praised be Thou, O My God, O My God!

We failed to invoke Thee  at the moment which Thou made  Me  one saddened before the surging of the Deep Sea of Thy blissfulness, [2] and made Me one grieved in the land  nigh unto the billowing of the Fathomless Deep of Thy Joyousness.  [3] Likewise at the moment which, in Thy House,  Thou made  Me one afflicted before the  high courses of the Oceans of Thy Radiance.



So praised be Thou, O My God, O My God!

We failed to adequately bear witness unto Thee  in that Thou hast testified before all things unto Thine Own Self,  through Thine Own Self,  for Thou, verily, art God, no God is there except Thee. [2] Eternally Thou hast rested upon the Throne of Glory  and hath everlastingly been concealed by the essence of Bounty  and Justice. [3] Eternally and everlastingly Thou wast hidden  in the Image Thou hadst aforetime  in the magnificence of Glory and Beauty. [4] Not a single person is capable of fathoming the fullness of Thine Interiority and no soul is able to describe the substance of Thine Identity. [5] Whenever the holy ones attempt to  become acquainted with Thee,  they subscribe to falsity in the holy court of the King of Thy Munificence. [6] And as often as those who confess Thy Unity attempt to characterize Thee, they join partners with Thee at the intimate threshold of the Sovereign of Thy Might.



So praised be Thou, O My God, O My God!

Thou art the One who created Me  free of affliction in Thy dominions  and provided for Me in such wise that not an atom of misfortune befell me in Thy regions. [2] Such was the case, until Thou enabled Me  to recognise Thy Remembrance  and inspired Me as One acknowledging the truth for Thy sake; One obedient to His command as befits Thy Truth.  [3] Thou art the One Who deposited in Mine inmost essence  a Lamp from Thy Being, by means of which Thy Logos-Self might become known.  [4] It beamed forth in Thy Kingdom  and I found a haven in the court of Thy Might until oceans of sadness surged over Me --  a mere drop of which no soul could bear to drink.  [5] I wept to such an extent that the spirit well-nigh departed from My body. I was so filled with anxiety that the Spiritual Beings were sorely troubled. I was overcome with sorrow so as to grievously distress the Luminous Ones.



And praise be to Thee, O My Beloved, on account of all that Thou madest to appear through Thy Power,  ordained through Thy Will, decreed through Thy Judgment, and  determined through Thy power of Accomplishment,  for all these things are a proof of Thy Cause and a path unto the Sovereign of Thy Graciousness.


So praise be to Thee, O My God, O My God!

How can I call upon Thee through the wonders of Thy Remembrance when the Path to the gnosis of the boundary of Thine Essence is cut off? [3] And how can I not call upon Thee, in that Thou didst not create Me except for the remembrance of Thy benefits and the commemoration of Thy favours.  [4] So praise be unto Thee!  I, verily, stand before Thee unto Whom all bow down in adoration.  


So praise be to Thee, O My God, O My God!

We failed to entreat Thee on those darkest of nights on which the Dove of the Command sang out on Mount Sinai, from the right side of the Crimson Tree, with the melodies of Thine Eternity;  [6] or, during those lengthy periods of gloom, when the Light-filled Bird warbled beyond the veils of the realm of concealed Divinity with the warblings of Thy Perpetuity.  [7] This inasmuch as Thou raised Me up unto the Heaven of the Unseen  through the supremacy of the Sovereign of Thine Endless Permanency; [8] made Me to ascend unto the Horizon of Evident Attestation through the power of the King of Thy Divinity;  [9]  caused Me to be elevated unto the hidden retreats of Thy Oneness and ennobled Me through the meeting with Thy Countenance such that I came to abide in Thy sanctuary and found a haven in Thine Expanse. [10]  I reclined upon cushions of Light through Thy bounty and rose up above the Heaven of Manifestation through Thy Munificence.  [11] Thereby did My heart find peace, My soul comfort, My being delight and My essence equanimity,  for thereby was I numbered among those who are assured through the meeting with their Lord.


[The Address to Mirza Kamal al-Din Naraqi]


O thou glorious enquirer who art set aglow through the Fire of the Friend!

[2] Be thou assured that from the very first day that God aided Me through faith in Him and confirmation in His Cause, it was not my desire to respond to the enquiries of any among the servants. [3]  But since I found in thy heart a fire from the Proof of God  and a brand from the Light of the Manifestation of His Self, the ocean of My affection hath surged and it is My wish to reply to thee through the power and might of God. [4] My munificence overflows with the sprinklings of servitude in the Land of the Theophany,  in order that the breezes of Light might attract thee unto the summit of exhilaration, and cause thee to attain that station which God hath decreed for thee in these days in which the winds of sorrow have encompassed Me on all sides. [5] This on account of that which the hands of the people have committed  for they have calumniated me without proof or written testimony. [6] O Lord! Cast patience upon Me  and make Me to be victorious over the seditious people.



Mirza Kamal al-Din Naraqi (d. Naraq c.1881)  was a highly educated and enthusiastic Babi who came from a very distinguished twelver Shi`i family of key, ultra-learned clerics who had written much and studied with some of the best-known mujtahids, philsophers and polymaths  in Qajar and pre-Qajar Persia. His grandfather and great-grandfather in particular were highly celebrated authors and major contributors to twelver Shi`i learning.







[Interpretations of Qur'an III:93]


Then know that for this paradisiacal verse [= Q. 3:93], this choice fruit, divine song and heavenly pearl, are subtle meanings endless in their infinitude. [2] I, by the grace and bounty of God, shall sprinkle upon thee something of the superabundance of its meanings that may serve as a memorial for the believers, a guiding light for the estranged, and a stronghold for the agitated.

From Nasut to Hahut and Beyond, An Introduction to Lawh-i kull al-Ta`am IX :

  • Introduction to Lawh-i kull al-Ta`am IXf . From Nasut to Hahut and Beyond - Some Introductory Notes on the Five or more meta- "worlds" in Islamic Cosmology, Philosophy and Mysticism.



[Hāhūt, The Apophatic Beyond]


Then bear thou witness that for "food" (li'l-ta`ām) are diverse levels of meaning;  it must suffice thee, however, that We expound four of them.

[2] It signifieth the realm of the Throne of He-ness [Ipseity] (hāhūt), the Paradise of the Exclusive Divine Oneness (jannat al-aḥadiyya).

[3] None is capable of expounding even a letter of that verse relative to that Paradise. [4] This inasmuch as that realm is that of the  Mystery of Endless Duration (sirr al-ṣamadāniyya), the "I-ness ["I am"] of Exclusive Divine Singularity" (aniyya [ibniyya] al-aḥadāniyya),  the Incomparable Israelicity  (isrā'iliyya al-firdāniyya) and the Resplendent Selfhood (nafsāniyya al-lama`āniyya).  [5]  Its exoteric aspect (ẓāhir) is the  essence of its esoteric aspect (bāṭin) and its esoteric (bāṭin) aspect the essence of its exoteric (ẓāhir) aspect. [6] It is inappropriate that anyone should attempt to elucidate a single letter of it.  [7] God, however, will disclose its mysteries when He willeth unto whomsoever He willeth. [8] And I, verily, in view of My injury and My misery am not informed of even a letter thereof. [8] This inasmuch as the matter cannot be related except on the part of God, its Fashioner and its Originator.

[9] So praise be unto God, its Creator and its Lifegiver above that which those who confess the Unity of God assert. [10] By He in Whose hand is My Soul!  If oceans of Light should surge forth in that realm all who are in the heavens and on earth would assuredly be drowned; save, that is, a number of the Letters of this Dispensation  [theophany] (ẓuhūr), [11] In this respect God beareth sufficient witness  as regards both Me and thee.

IX.1 The Throne of Hahut ("He-ness") and the Meta-Universes Beyond.

 Hāhūt = هاهوت

Hāhūt and Lāhūt in select Islamic Sufis, Poets. Philosopers and Mystics.

The Arabic loanwords Nāsūt and Lāhūt are basically  Syriac (Aramiac) Christological loan words:  nāsūt = Syr. `nāšūthā  and lāhūt =  Syr .`alāhūthā. Hāhūt  generally expressive of the Apophatic Beyondness of the Unknowability of the Godhead or Divine Essence (al-dhat) is modelled in Arabic on these earlier and more common Christological loanwords. It is generally thought that the opening Hā of Hāhūt is expressive of the Arabic letter "H" (=     al-ha', abjad 5)  also being suggestive of the masculine pronoun Huwa  ("He is" [God]) and the Huwiyya or the "He-ness" of the Divine Self-Identity or Ipseity.

Ibn Mansur al-Hallaj (d. 309/922)

  • Kitab Ta’ wa Sin , [The Letters] "T" (ta') and the "S" (sin) of the Lamp.
  • Diwan

Abū Ṭālib al-Makkī (d. 386/996) was an important early generator of certain of the five Aramaic Syriac-rooted “worlds” as drawn of by Baha’-Allah. This in his Arabic works

  • Qūt al-Qulūb  = “The Nourishment of the Hearts” . In the lengthy Sufi manual we do not find the terms Malakut, Lahut or Hahut. Jabarut  is there though as we shall see this realm was sometimes reinterpreted by Ibn al-`Arabi and others.

Though published in Cairo in 1964 under his name,  al-Makki's less known (its ascription to him is dounted) is the

  • `Ilm al- Qulūb = “The Knowledge of the Hearts”.  A few of the five cosmological terms are used here though not it seems, all five.

Muhyi al-Din Ibn al-`Arabi (d. 638/1240)

  • al-Futuhat al-Makkiyya;
  • Kitab al-Mim wa'l-Waw wa'l-Nun (`Book of the M, the W and the N')
  • Insha al-Dawa'ir
  • Fusus al-Hikam; 

Sayyid Haydar-i Amuli (b. Amul, 1319- d. Najaf, 1385).

  • Tafsir al-Muḥīṭ al-aʿẓam wa'l-bahr al-makhdam ... (The Mighty Supreme  ...
  • Jāmiʿ al-asrār wa manbaʿ al-anwār  ( The Compendium of Secrets and the Dource of the Lights)
  • Naṣṣ al-nuṣūṣ (The Text of Texts), a commentary on the Fusus al-Hikam (The Bezels of Wisdom) of Muhyi al-Din Ibn al- 'Arabi
  • Majma' al-asrar wa Manba' al-anwar (Compendium of Secrets and the Source of the Lights).

Lāhījī, Shams al-Dīn Muḥammad ibn Yaḥyā (d. 918/1507).

  • مفاتیح الاعجاز فى شرح گلشن راز  = Mafatih al-`Ijaz fi Sharh-i Gulshan-i Raz (The Keys for the Inimitability of the Rose-Garden of Mystery) is a lengthy Persian commentary upon the well-known Gulshan-i Raz  of Muhammad / Maḥmūd Ibn-ʻAbd-al-Karīm Shabistarī ibn `Abd al-Karim Shabistari (b. near, Tabriz 687/1299-d. after 1340)

Maḥmūd Ibn-ʻAbd-al-Karīm  ibn Yaḥyā Shabistarī;

Ed and trans Edward H Whinfield

  • The mystic rose garden : the Persian text, with an Engl. transl. and notes, chiefly from the commentary of Muhammad Bin Yahya Lahiji'. London : Trübner, 1880.
  • Gulshan-i raz, ed. S. Muwahhid, Majmu’a-i athar-i Shaykh Mahmud Shabistari, Tehran: Kitabkhana-i tahuri, 1986.

  • Mafatih al-`Ijaz fi Sharh-i Gulshan-i Raz. ed.  Muhammad Rida Buzurgi Khaliqi and Uffat Karbasi. Tehran: Intisharat-i Zawwar, 5th ed. 1383/  

al-Lāhijī, Bahā’ al-Dīn Muḥammad ibn Shaykh `Alī al-Sharīf (d.  11th/17th cent.).

  • Tafsīr-i sharīf-i Lāhijī.  Ed. Mīr Jalāl al-Din Ḥusaynī Armavī.  Vols. 3-4 ed. Muḥammad Ibrāhīm Āyatī.  4 Vols.  Tehran: Mu’assasih-i Maṭbū`āt al-`Ilmī, 1340/1961.
  • Add HERE

Hahut in early poetical writings of Baha'-Allah

In the fourteenth couplet of the early, c.1852 CE Rashh-i `ama' (The Sprinkling of the Theophanic Cloud), we read of a relationship between Baha'u'llah and the elevated Divine  realms of Lahut and Hahut as well as Nasut and  the transcendent sphere of `ama', the theophanic cloud of unknowing in which God is hidden pending glorious  tajalli or Self-revelation:


طلعت لاهوتی بين حوری هاهوتی بين

 جلوه ناسوتی بين كز سّر عما ميريزد   

Observe the Deified-Lahut related Countenance!

Behold the God-like/ Hahut related Maiden, Houri (huri)!

See thou that the terrestrial Effulgence  rains down from the mysterious depth of the Theophanic Cloud!

The Persian Poem of Baha'-Allah, Ishq az sidra-yi a`la amad ba shu`la-i farani amad.

با شعله فارانی عشق از سدره اعلی آمد

"Rapture came forth from the Most Transcendent Lote-Tree with the firebrand from Mount Paran! It came also with the Cup of Calamity (jām-i balā) from the Court of Glorification (sāḥat-i subḥānī).

A few couplets later God addresses Baha’u’llah in the following manner :

Loosely translated we read, “… O Messianic Spirit (ruh-i masiha’i),

  • Nāsūt (this world) is for Thy “Day” (bi-ruz-i tu)!
  • Lāhūt (the Divine world) is for Thy Theophany (zuhūr-i tu)! 
  • Hāhūt (the Apophatic Beyond) is for Thy Presence (hudūr-i tu)!
  • O Jewell of the All-Merciful (gawhar-i rahmani) …

Translation Stephen N. Lambden 2014.  From the text printed in Ma’ida-yi Asmanī, vol 4. pp. 179-184.

The five "worlds" of developed Islamic mystical Cosmology

  • [1] ناسوت عالم Nāsūt.  The world  which is this "mortal world".
  • [2]عالم ملکوت    The world of Malakūt, "the world of the angels, “the Kingdom of God”.
  • [3] عالم جبروت  The world of Jabarūt, `the sphere of the Divine Omnipotence or celestial Powers". 
  • [4] عالم لاهوت    The world of Lāhūt. "the Realm of the Divine Theophany".
  • [5] عالم هاهوت   Hāhūt , “the Apophatic realm of the Unknowable Godhead” or of the Essence of Divinity (dhāt Allāh).

IX.2b  Commentary "Food" as the "the Paradise of the Exclusive Divine Oneness (jannat al-aḥadiyya).


[2] It signifieth the realm of the Throne of He-ness [Ipseity] (hāhūt), the Paradise of the Exclusive Divine Oneness (jannat al-aḥadiyya).


The late Toshihiko Izutsu in his 1971 The Concept and Reality of Existence sums matters up with great clarity when he writes,

"Theologically it ["The Absolute", self-revealing God] is dhat Allah, i.e. the very Essence of God as He is supposed to be before He is described by any Attribute at all... And since It infinitely transcends all relative distinctions, it is indescribable and ineffable. It is therefore essentially unknown and unknowable. It is a great Mystery (ghaib). The utmost we can say of this stage is that it is "one", not in the numerical sense but absolutely, in the sense that nothing is visible, nothing is discernible. Technically this stage is known as the stage of ahadiyah or "absolute Oneness" (1971:48).

Having made this point this writer observes that there are those who do not see in ahadiyah "the ultimate metaphysical stage". They include Dawud Qaysari (d. 1350) and `Abd al-Karim al-Jili (          ). They do not equate ahadiyya  "directly with "existence " itself in its "absolute purity" because it transcends all conditions (p. 49). It should be ultra-apophatic, a non-conditioned "Mystery of Mysteries". Thus it might be better defined as "the stage of the first self-determination (ta'ayyun awwal) of the Absolute" (ibid). Yet, it is from al-ahadiyya that the Absolute prompts existence to issue  forth by virtue of the al-fayd al-aqdas, the "Most Sacred Emanation" as a result of which the secondary stage of  wāhidiyya ("inclusive oneness") is realized. . 

IX.3  Commentary

IX.4f Commentary


[4] This inasmuch as that realm is that of [a] the  Mystery of Endless Duration (sirr al-ṣamadāniyya), [b] the "I-ness ["I am"] of Exclusive Divine Singularity" (aniyya [ibniyya] al-aḥadāniyya) ...  

[a] The  Mystery of Endless Duration (sirr al-ṣamadāniyya),

[b] The "I-ness ["I am"] of Exclusive Divine Singularity" (aniyya al-aḥadāniyya), 

[c] the Incomparable Israelicity  (isrā'iliyya al-firdāniyya)

[d] and the Resplendent Selfhood (nafsāniyya al-lama`āniyya).  

[5]  Its exoteric aspect (ẓāhir) is the  essence of its esoteric aspect (bāṭin) and its esoteric (bāṭin) aspect the essence of its exoteric (ẓāhir) aspect.

Cf. Rajab al-Bursi, Mashariq..


[6] It is inappropriate that anyone should attempt to elucidate a single letter of it.  

The "I-ness ["I am"] of Exclusive Divine Singularity" (aniyya al-aḥadāniyya), 

In the  preamble or khutba ("prefatory oration") prefacing his pre-declaration, early 1844 CE., Tafsir Surat al-Baqara (Commentary on the Surah oif the Cow, Q. II) : the Bab refers to the concept of aniyya

 [1] Praised be to God Who manifested himself (tajalla) unto the spheres of existent Being (al‑mumkināt) through the ornament of the disengaged Point (bi‑ṭaraz al‑nuqṭat al‑mumfaṣilat) sprung out of the Abyss of Origination (lujjat al‑ibdā’) unto, in and  towards Existent Being...  [3] Through it He created Dual modality (zawjiyya) and He created "I‑ness" [Individuality] (al‑aniyya). [4] And the Divine Will (al‑mashiyya) was mentioned through the Dhikr of the Eternal [Cosmic] alphabet, (bi‑dhikr al‑handasah al‑azaliyya) which is other than God. [5] And it, it is indeed (fa‑hiya hiya) the Primordial Eternity (al‑azaliyya al‑awwaliyya) without termination of eternality. [6] Nay rather! It, it is [indeed] the Dawning Place of the Sun of the Inclusive Divine Oneness  (shams al‑ahadiyya) glistening forth from the Eternal Perpetuity (al‑ṣamadāniyya al‑bāqiyya) through the Eternity of the Divine Ipseity (bi‑baqā’ al‑huwiyya) [which is] of the realm of Divine Omnipotence (al‑jabarūtiyya)...


`Abd al-Karām al-Jīlī [Gilānī]  (d. c. 832/ 1428) on Huwiyya.

To return to an aspect of the theology surrounding the letter “H” of the Huwa (“He is”)  and of the closely related word  Huwiyya indicative of the Divine Ipseity. [27]  It can first be noted that there is a section on هوية (huwiyya = “He-ness”) in the important, foundational al-Insān al-kāmil.. ("The Perfect Man [Human]") of the key disciple of Ibn al-`Arabī named `Abd al-Karām al-Jīlī [Gilānī]  (d. c. 832/ 1428).  This important Persian Shī`īte Sufī writes in this work:

"The Ipseity of the Ultimately Real [True One] (God; huwiyya al-ḥaqq):  this indicates His hiddenness (ghayb), the manifestation of which is impossible save by means of the totality of the [Divine] Names and Attributes. This since their Reality alludeth unto the interiority of the Divine Uniqueness (bāṭin al-wāḥidiyya); it alludeth unto His Being (kūn) and His Essence (dhāt) by means of His Names and Attrubutes: `The Ipesity (al-huwiyya) is the hiddenness of the Divine Essence which is Uniquely One (wāhid)” (Jīlī, al-Insān [1956] 1: 96-7 trans. Lambden).

The reading ibniyya "Sonship"



[Lāhūt, The sphere of the Divine]


It ["food" al-ta`ām] signifieth the realm of the Paradise of Endless Duration (jannat al-ṣamadiyya), the Throne of the Divine Realm (`arsh al-lāhūt),  the Snow-White Light (nūr al-baydā'). [2] It is the station (maqām) of "He is He Himself" (huwa huwa) and there is none other save Him (huwa). [3] This Paradise is allotted unto those servants who are established upon the Seat of Glory (kursi al-jalāl), who quaff liquid camphor (mā' al-kāfur) nigh unto the All-Beauteous One (tilqā' al-jamāl), and who recite the verses of Light (āyāt al-nūr) in the Heaven of Manifest Justice (samā' al-`adāl). [4] Thereby are they enraptured and from that "food" (al-ta`ām) derive comfort.

Commentary on X:1

1.A. Paradise of Endless Duration,= jannat al-ṣamadiyya.

1.B.The Throne of the Divine Realm, `arsh al-lāhūt.

In the eighth couplet of the probably c. 1862-3 Persian poem of Baha'-Allah entitled, Halih, Halih, halih yā Bishārat (Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, O Glad-Tidings) we read:

This sweet Davidic voice (naghmih-yi dāwūdī) came from the Divine Lote-Tree (sidrah-yi lāhūtī), with the messianic Spirit (rūḥ-i masīḥhā) ... (Per. text in Ganj, 34).

Here Baha'u'llah represents himself as coming from the sidrah-yi lāhūtī, the Divine Lote-Tree, the Lotus-Tree of the highest heaven with "the Messianic Spirit" the rūḥ-i masīḥhā, the Jesus-like Spirit, an early claim to be the "return" or second coming of Jesus. He comes as a Divine figure from the realm of the Divine, that of Lāhūt.

1.C. The Snow-White Light, nūr al-baydā'.

Commentary on X:2

The station (maqām) of "He is He Himself" (huwa huwa)

Commentary on X:3

[3] This Paradise is allotted unto those servants who are established upon the Seat of Glory (kursi al-jalāl), who quaff liquid camphor (mā' al-kāfur) nigh unto the All-Beauteous One (tilqā' al-jamāl), and who recite the verses of Light (āyāt al-nūr) in the Heaven of Manifest Justice (samā' al-`adāl).

Commentary on X:4




[Jabarūt, the Omnipotent Realm]


 It signifieth the Paradise of the Inclusive Divine Unicity (jannat al-wāḥidiyya), the Golden [Yellow] Land (ard al-sufra'), the surging Depths of realm of the Divine Omnipotence (tamātam al-Jabarūt). [2] It is the realm of "Thou art He [God] ( anta huwa) and He [God] is Thou" (wa huwa anta) allotted unto those servants who do not cried out except with the  permission of God; who act according to His command and ever restrain themselves in accordance with His Wisdom (hikmat) [3] -- just as God hath described them [in the Qur'an] for they are the honoured servants of whom it is written: "They speak not till He hath spoken; and they do His bidding" (Q. 21:27).


[Malakūt, the Kingdom of God]


It ["food" al-ta`ām] signifieth the Paradise of Justice (jannat al-`adl),  the Verdent [Green] Land (ard al-khudra'), the Fathomless Deep of Kingdom of God (qamaqam al-malakūt) [2] allotted to those servants whom "neither traffic nor merchandise beguile from the remembrance of God" (Q. 24:27) since they are the companions of the Light (ashab al-nur). [3] They enter therein with the permission of God and find rest upon the Carpet [Expanse] of the Almighty (bisat al-`izz).


[Nasūt, the Human-Mortal Realm]


It ["food" al-ta`ām] signifieth the realm of the Paradise of the Divine Bounty (jannat al-fadl), the Crimson Land (ard al-hamrā'),  the Yellow Secret (sirr al-sufrā'),  the Snow-White Mystery (mustansirr al-baydā') and [2] the Point of human realm  (nuqtat al-nasūt). In it are the proofs of the Remembrance (adila' al-dhikr) supreme (akbar),  if you are of those who are informed.



Ah! Alas! Then Ah! Alas!

If the Primal Point were alive in these days and witnessed My grief he would assuredly, at all times, comfort Me, treat Me tenderly, and fill Me with ardent joy. At every moment would he strengthen Me. [2] So Ah! Alas! Would that I had died after him, before these days, or were one quite forgotten, consigned to oblivion.


Say: O Thou Concourse! Comfort me!

Do not calumniate Me or hasten My affair for I am a servant who hath believed in God and in His signs [or verses], and there doth not remain of My days except a few. [4] God, My Lord, is sufficient protector against you since he sufficeth Me and sufficeth he whom he desired aforetime.  [5] Sufficient is the careful account of His own Self. [6] Lord! Pour out patience upon Me and make Me victorious over the disbelieving peoples who do not cry out except in accordance with their own delusions or move except as their idle fancies prompt them. [7] Say: It is not for you to ask why it is this way for you neither comprehend nor understand.



O Thou Faithful One!

When the breezes of love spilled over from the right-side of the Sinaitic Tree you were turned to the right and to the left; [2] in that place, in the Cave of Light, you were protected with the permission of God, the Exalted, for He is God, Powerful over all things. [3] And you acknowledged and understood all that We expounded for you. Then bear witness that We desire to expound further. [4] Then know that the significance of "food" is the essence of knowledge; that is, all branches of learning. [5] "Israel" signifieth the Primal Point and the "children of Israel" He whom God, on His part, made a Proof unto the people in these days. [6] " Except what Israel made unlawful for itself [or himself]"; that is, that which the Primal Point made unlawful for his elevated ones and his servants. [7] Then bear witness that all that God decreed in the Book through His command and His power of interdiction is the truth about which there is no doubt. [8] It is incumbent upon all to act in conformity therewith and to assent thereto. [9] Let not the actions of those who have been  spreading wickedness in the land veil you. They suppose that they are rightly guided.  [10]  Nay! By the Lord of the Realm of the Divine Cloud! They are liars and calumniators. [11] The nature of that party is such that they should never be allowed to eat even barley in these days.  [12] How then, can they possibly be allowed to eat what God hath forbidden in the Book? So praised be He, praised be He above that which those who make association [ascribe partners to God] assert.

Commentary on [XV]

The person addressed here as "O Thou Faithful One!" would seem to be Kamal al-Din Naraqi for whom this text was written or revealed by Baha'u'llah around 1854 CE or slightly earlier. His personal experience of disillunsionment with the inadequate tafsir on Q. 3:93 of Mirza Yahya Nuri the then leader of the Babis, his faith challenge is pictured by means of a comparison with the trials of the seven sleepers or ashab al-kahf, the "comanions of the Cave" whose story is contained in Qur'an 18:  and interpreted by the Bab in his Qayyum al-asma' and elsewhere (see QA.     ).

When the breezes of love spilled over from the right-side of the Sinaitic Tree you were turned to the right and to the left; [2] in that place, in the Cave of Light, you were protected with the permission of God, the Exalted, for He is God, Powerful over all things. [3] And you acknowledged and understood all that We expounded for you. Then bear witness that We desire to expound further.

XV: 4f Qur'an 3:93 further interpreted.

[4] Then know that the significance of "food"  (al-ta`ām) is the essence of knowledge; that is, all branches of learning. [5] "Israel" signifieth the Primal Point and the "children of Israel" He whom God, on His part, made a Proof unto the people in these days. [6] " Except what Israel made unlawful for itself [or himself]"; that is, that which the Primal Point made unlawful for his elevated ones and his servants. [7] Then bear witness that all that God decreed in the Book through His command and His power of interdiction is the truth about which there is no doubt. [8] It is incumbent upon all to act in conformity therewith and to assent thereto. [9] Let not the actions of those who have been  spreading wickedness in the land veil you. They suppose that they are rightly guided.  

[10]  Nay! By the Lord of the Realm of the theophanic Cloud (al-`ama')! They are liars and calumniators. [11] The nature of that party is such that they should never be allowed to eat even barley in these days.  [12] How then, can they possibly be allowed to eat what God hath forbidden in the Book? So praised be He, praised be He above that which those who make association [ascribe partners to God] assert.




O Thou Friend!

Since you were irradiated through the orient light of the radiance of the splendours of the Morn of Eternity (subh al-azal) -- the lights of which [or, of whom] have filled the horizons  [2]  -- and been captivated by the winning ways of the Light of Endless Duration -- the traces of which [or, of whom] have appeared upon the Temples of the Orient Light -- [3] then know that the intention of "food" in these days in which the Sun shineth in the centre of Heaven and the Lamp of Eternality hath shed splendour upon the Luminary of the Realm of Theophanic Cloud, is none other than the Bearer of the Cause. [4] "Israel" in this connection, signifieth the Primal Will by means of which God created all who are in the heavens and on the earth and what is between them. [5] The "children of Israel" are those servants who were captivated by the Light of that Primal Will in the "year sixty" (= 1260 AH = 1844 CE) and thereafter  until the "Day" on which He shall assemble the people before the Lord of the Worlds. [7] God desireth not that anyone be oppressed but the people wrong their own selves. [8] So know that the Light of God hath ever been established upon the Throne of Favour and will ever remain the like of what it was; though the people neither comprehend nor bear witness. [9] Since We have lifted you up to the summit of the Mount of Light, elevated you to the peak of the Mount of Servitude in the Land of Exhilaration, [10] enabled you to drink deep of the Water of the Divine Oneness from the Camphor Fount at the hand of the All-Beauteous Joseph, [11]  and given you rest in the Cradle of Tranquillity about which the Gladsome Ant sang forth -- therein your spirit enlivened, your soul delighted and your essence gladdened -- [12] then thank God Who created you aforetime by a command on His part and made you to be numbered among those servants who are rightly guided through the verses of God.



Now, at this moment, I cease not to complain of my sorrow and anguish unto God for He alone acknowledgeth My anxiety, is aware of My plight and heareth My lamentation. [2] By He Who hath made the Bird[s] of Light to soar aloft in the Land of the Theophany! [3] None is to be found as dejected as I, for now do I dwell at the point of dust in obscure ignonimy. [4] There is no possessor of Spirit in the Dominion of God except he weepeth over Me to the degree that the heavens are well-nigh cleft asunder, the earth split open and the mountains levelled. [5] This inasmuch as the eye of time hath not seen anyone as oppressed as I. [6] And I, verily, have been patient and forbearing;

have sat between the hands of God, trusted in Him and committed the affair unto Him, perchance He might comfort Me and protect Me from all that the people have committed.



Then know, O Kamal!

If I should expound that verse [Qur'an 3: 93] from this day until the days find their consummation in  al-Mustaghath ("the One Invoked for Help", abjad 2001] --which is the Day when the people will rise up before the Countenance of the Living One, the Wondrous, the extent to which God would favour me through His grace and bounty [with numerous explanations] could not be estimated. [2] This inasmuch as the Mystery of the Divine Oneness hath been set in motion, the Ocean of Endless Duration hath surged and the Countenance of Light in the Heavens of the Realm of Unknowing hath beamed forth from the right side of the Tree of the Command. [3] This, in these days, in which the Sun of Manifestation hath risen in unique manner though the people are neither cognisant of its magnitude nor mindful of its subtlety. [4] So Ah! Alas!

If they [the people] could but perceive, the Proof would never be hidden from them nor the Favour be beyond their grasp. [5] Say: It is not for you to ask why it is so lest you join partners with God Who created you  and aided you through a Light from before Him;  if, that is, you are of those who truly believe.



Give ear, O Kamal!

to the voice of this lowly, this forsaken ant, that hath hid itself in its hole, and Whose desire is to depart from your midst, and vanish from your sight, by reason of that which the hands of men have wrought. [2] God, verily, hath been witness between Me and His servants. God it is Who beareth witness unto Me in all respects. [3] So Ah! Alas! If the Last Point, the Countenance of My Love, Quddus were alive he would assuredly weep over my plight and would lament that which hath befallen me. [4] And I, for My part, would at this moment beseech his eminence and supplicate his holiness that he would enable Me to ascend unto the court of His might and recline on the cushion of his sanctity as I was wont to do in those days [now past] when I was free of the aforementioned misfortunes. [5] O Lord! Cast patience upon Me and make Me to be victorious over the transgressors.  



O Thou Faithful One!

If you be of those who dwell in the Snow-White Forest, the Isle of the Criterion (al-furqan), then know that "food" signifieth al-wilāya ("Divine Providence, etc) the "Custodianship" which God decreed for His people. [2] The intention of "Israel" in this connection is the Point of the Criterion (al-furqan) and of the "children of Israel" His trustees [= the Imams] who succeeded Him [Muhammad] and by means of Whom God recompenseth His righteous servants. [3] And if you be of those who dwell in the Crimson Isle, the Orchard of the Exposition (al-Bayan), then know that We abandon the "food" [of the Islamic wilāya?] and desire the Primal Point [the Bab], the Pure Wine of the Divine Oneness in an elevated station. [4] The intention of "Israel" in this connection is the Last Countenance [= Quddus ?], the Mystery of Endless Duration in an elevated station [5] and the Countenance of Light, the Disengaged Manifestation, the Temple of the Divine Oneness [= Mīrzā Yahya?) in an elevated station whom the aggressors caused to be imprisoned in the land and concealed in the cities. [6] So praised be God above that which the hands of the People commit. And God is not unaware of the actions of the people.



Since, at this moment, the fire of love surgeth in the heart of al-Bahā’ [Baha'u'llah], the Dove of Servitude singeth in the Heaven of the Divine Cloud and the Bird (Hoopoe) of Light warbleth in the midst of the firmaments, [2] the Sinaitic Tree burneth of itself through the Fire of its own self above the Ark of the Testimony beyond Mount Qaf, [in] the Land of Realization, [3] and the Ant of Servitude hideth in the Vale of the Divine Oneness in this "Night" with mystic fidelity, wherefore do I desire to further expound that verse [Qur'an 3:87]. [4] This inasmuch as God hath, at this moment, informed me about it through His grace and bounty. And He, verily, is the Mighty, the Generous. [5] Then bear witness that "food" signifieth the Ocean of the Unseen which is hidden in the Scrolls of Light and treasured up in the Inscribed Tablets. [6] "Israel" signifieth the Manifestation of the Command in these days and the "children of Israel" the people of the Bayan. [7] And that "food" was allowed for them [the Babis]; that is, for all who desire to ascend unto the Heaven of Bounty and to drink of the Water of Manifestation [or Pure Water] from that Cup, the Goblet of Servitude, which resembleth naught but a shadow in the land. [8] I, however, ask God's forgiveness on account of that limitation. So praised be God, One worthy of praise and mighty beyond the attempts of the negligent to describe Him.



So Ah! Alas! If there should surge upon me a sprinkling from the Ocean of Divine Authorization, from the Sovereign of the Realm of the Divine Cloud and King of Glory, [2] I would expound that verse [Q. 3:87] with the accents of the spiritual ones, the sanctified myriads, and the melodies of the enraptured ones. [3] Since I have not inhaled, however, the fragrance of realization or accomplishment then that which I have already set forth for you must suffice you; for it is sufficient proof unto those who were, in the days of their Lord, given to remembrance. [4] In view of the fact that you have sought and derived warmth from the Fire of Love and have found pleasure in the charm of the trace of ink in these apposite Tablets, then bear witness and be assured that I Bahā'-Allah] have claimed naught but servitude to God, the True One. [5] And God is my arbitrator against that which the people falsely allege. [6] Say: `Woe unto you on account of that which your hands have committed; hereafter shall you be brought before the Knower of  that which is hidden and that which is manifest [see Q.9:106b] and assuredly, in this respect, be questioned.'


Say: `O People of the Concourse!

Be not astonished at the handiwork of God, the mercy of God and His blessings upon you, if you are of those who are informed. [8] Fear ye God! and know that the handiwork of God radiates forth in the image[s?] of the Lamp of Eternality among the artistry of the people. How is it that you neither consider this nor bear witness unto it?'



Then Ah! Alas! By He Who hath restrained the dove of sorrow in the breast of al-Bahā' [-Allāh]! [2] All that I have witnessed from the day on which I first drank the pure milk from the breast of My mother until this moment hath been effaced from my memory in consequence of that which the hands of the people have committed. [3] And God is aware of all that pertains to the people though they are not informed.

[4] Say: `O People of the Realm of the Divine Cloud! Issue forth from your habitations and present yourselves in the Sanctum of Light, the manifest Divine Cloud, the most-great House of God, as hath been decreed, with the permission of God, the Exalted, Who beareth witness, in the Tablet of the Heart.'



I, verily, conclude this discourse in that the Dove of Light sang forth aforetime at the moment of its [His] arrival in the Land of Exhilaration and warbled with the accents of the heart. [2] And you know, O my beloved, that, for the sake of God, I desired authorization since patience, on account of my love for the unveiled beauty of God, had departed from me. [3] And you know that a son of adultery willfully desired to shed My blood. [4] Nay, by the presence of Thy Might! I do not pledge allegiance unto him, either in secret or publicly. [5] It is God alone Who causeth the day of the spilling of My blood to draw nigh and when My tears shall be sprinkled upon the dust. [6] So, O would that this My day were the day of the shedding of my blood, for my ardent desire is for the soil. [7] So praised be God, One Worthy of Praise and Mighty, above that which the associators assert with respect to His description. And praise be to God, Wondrous Lord of all the Worlds.


Āmulī, Sayyid Ḥaydar ibn ʻAlī al-Ḥusaynī al-Āmulī (d. Najaf, 1385/      / 14th cent.)

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Corbin, Henry

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