Kitab al-asma' I - The Book of Names - The Chahar Sha`n ... Introduction

كـتـاب الأسـمـاء

The Kitab al-asma' (Book of Names)

or Chahar Sha`n

(The [Book of the] Four Modes [of Revelation])

of Sayyid `Ali Muhammad, the Bab (d. Tabriz 1850).

Stephen Lambden UC Merced,

IN PROGRESS and being revised and corrected

Last updated January 24th 2018 +31-07-2020

The Kitab al-asma' (The Book of Names).

 كـتـاب الأسـمـاء

الباب الاول من الواحد الاول

  بسم الله الاسمم الاسمم  

لا الله الا هو الارشد الارشد

قل الله الارشد فوق كل ذا ارشاد 

لن يقدر ان  يمتنع عن مليك سلطان ارشده      

The First Bab (Gate) of the First Wahid (Unity).

In the Name of God the Supreme Bestower of a Name  (al-asmam),

the Supreme Namer (al-asmam).

No God is there except Him, the Supreme Guide (al-arshad), the Supreme Guide (al-arshad). Say : God is the Supreme Guide beyond every possessor of guidance (da irshad). It is inconceivable that He would inhibit  from Rulership (malik), the very Sovereign of His Guidance (sultan irshad) (text from an unpublished, Haifa located, ms.).

It appears that the Kitab al-Asma' commences as above; the translation is loose and provisional as I have not seen the original unpublished ms but the entry of Steven Phelps in his comprehensive yet ongoing database spanning Babi-Baha'i primary sources (`Partial-Inventory', Feb. 2020; see below). I have translated the unusual superlative al-asmam as if it derives from the root s-m-y (form II s-m-m) meaning `to name'. To open the Kitab al-asma', the Book of Names picturing God as the supreme generator or bestower of Names would be befitting. The superlative asmam might also be translated as indicating God as the supreme creator of the neo-basmala formulas so frequent in the writings of the Bab - `In the Name of God the XXX (Arabic superlative), the XXX (Arabic superlative) (see Persian and Arabic Bayans III.11). Less likely, perhaps, would be the translation rooted in the Arabic word samm meaning an apeture or "hole" (cf. Matthew 19:24), God being "One Beyond the Eye of a Needle" (al-asmam). This latter less likely translation does reflect Qur'anic Arabic vocabulary (see the hapax legomenon samm al-khiyat at Q. 7:40) and would support the doubled root-letter m. That God might be "Beyond the Eye of a Needle" could also point towards the hidden, cryptic Apophatic Deity whose mystery was so repeatedly celebrated by the Bab. I have bypassed the root s-m-m/ samma meaning vememous or `to poison' as well as al-samum with the sense of `hot wind' or sandstorn. Less improbable though would be a connection with the root s-m-y having the sense of exalted or towering and from which al-sama' heaven, sky or firmament is derived.

The commencement of another manuscript of the Kitab al-asma' though from Wahid VIII.1 (the opening text from INBMC 29) is as follows, 

[The Kitab al-asma', VIII.1f]

It has four levels (maratib). The First [Section] within the First [Mode-Division]:

In the Name of God, the Supreme Guide (al-arshad), the Supreme Guide (al-arshad).

God, no God is there except Him, the Supreme Guide (al-arshad), the Supreme Guide (al-arshad).  Say: God is the Supreme Guide (al-arshad), above every possessor of Guidance (al-irshād). It is inconceivable that He would inhibit  from Rulership (malīk), the very Sovereign of His Guidance (sultan irshād), from anyone whether or not they be within the heavens or upon the earth or whatsoever lieth between them. He createth whatsoever He willeth through His Logos-Command. He hath ever been One True Guide (rashshād an), the One Who Guides (rāshid an), the One Rightly-Guiding (rashīd an).

So glorified be whomsoever prostrateth before Him be they within the heavens or upon the earth or whatsoever lieth between them...

This massive and complex, though  centrally important late work of the Bab, has been little studied and has had some unfortunate negative appraisals by a few academics who had never seen the whole, complete reorganised  text (e.g. E. G. Browne and D. M. MacEoin). Today there are no critical or even semi-critical editions of this largely (if not wholly) Arabic text. Only twenty pages of the original have been published with English translation from a few adjacent Wahids (Vahids) (Unities) though with no indication of the mss. or mss. translated (see PDf. below). The extant mss. (see below) need comprehensive collection and an effort to produce a critical edition or perhaps editions. A good many extant mss. seem  confused though a very important testimony to the late Arabic style of the Bab's revelations. These mss. should be regarded as among the most theologically weighty or important writings of the Bab; rich, for example,  in messianic urgency and predictions of the theophany of  man yuzhiru-hu Allah (Him whom God shall make manifest), in invocatory depth and the intricacies of the secrets of the many Names of God (asmā' Allah) sometimes relating to high-ranking Babi believers. Many lines of the Kitāb al-asmā' are rhythmic in intensity and should be heard as powerful expressions of revelatory disclosure. Recited in the original Arabic  verses or phrases within the Kitab al-asma' were probably meant to be experienced through listening. They are  often Dhikr-like or of invocatory, rhythmic intensity.
In his The Sources for Early Babi Doctrine and History: A Survey (Leiden: Brill, 1992), Denis MacEoin writes :

"One of the most puzzling of the Bāb's works is his lengthy and tortuous Kitab al-asma', also known as the Tafsīr al-asmā' or Kitab asma'i kulli shay'i. This huge book consists mainly of lengthy variations of invocations of the names of God. Its aim, according to [Mirza Muhammmad Fadil-i] Māzandarānī, is to enumerate each divine name of which a specific believer is to be regarded as a manifestation.65 The same authority holds that the book was written during the last days spent by the Bāb at Chihrīq.66 This makes it roughly contemporary with the very similar Kitāb-i panj sha'n, and it is in fact sometimes referred to by the alternative title of Chahar sha'n [Four Grades].

The Kitāb al-asmā' was originally thought by Clement Huart 68 and Edward Browne 69 to be one of the two 'Arabic Bayāns' referred to by Gobineau... I know of twenty-six manuscripts, and I am sure many more exist. Normally found in two volumes, the entire work consists of nineteen wahids [Unities], each of nineteen abwab [gates] , each bāb containing four 'grades' or species of writing. Defective copies appear to be more or less standard." (MacEoin, Sources, 91-2).

_____________

  • 65 Asrār al-āthār, vol. 1, p. 126.
  • 66 Ibid.
  • 67 `A. F., A'ln-i Bāb (n.p., n.d.), p. 12.
  • 68. Journal Asiatique, 1887,viii, serie, volume .x.
  • 69. "The Babis of Persia II",pp.885-86.

The Date and Size of the Kitab al-asma'.

If written while the Bab was imprisioned in Maku (from March 1847-8) and  Chihriq (between Khoy and Urumia or 20 kilometers to the southwest of Salmās),  Adherbayjan (Persia), the date would be most likely be between 1264/1848 and July 1266/1850 CE. It is well-known to be very lengthy but until a complete, reconstructed ms. is complied, its exact length cannot be precisely determined. It very probably dates to c. 1849. Taken to consist of 19 Wahids or Unities  each with 19  Babs or Gates/Sections  then it would be  have 361 divisions. Then if each of the 361 divisions has 4 subsections the total portions of the work would be 1444, Then, If each of these subsections were 2 pages long the length of this volume would be  approximately 2,888 pages; If these subsections were 3 pages long the length would be  well over 3,000 pages.

Kitab al-asma' :  Wahids [Vahids] (Unities) x 19  each with 19 Babs (Gates, Sections) x 19  and  Four sh'an ( Grades, Modes of Revelation), Thus 19x19 = 361 x 4 = 1444 - with each grade or mode being 2 pages = 2,888; if 3 pages long = 4,332. Hence roughly 2,000-3000 pages is probably on the right lines. The length of each mode or section (sha`n) might be guaged from the Kitab-i Panj Sha`n, though this would be approximate - note the very differing length of the Persian and much shorter Arabic Bayans.

The Kitab al-asma' and the Kitab-i panj sha'n. 

The Kitab-i Panj sha'n (Book of the Five Grades) and the Kitab al-asma' as the [Kitab-] Chahar sh'an (The Book of the  Four Grades). Some idea of the Length and nature of the Kitab al-asma' can be gathered by comparing it with the Kitab-i panj sha'n, the Book of the Five Grades in which the 5 modes of revelation (sha'n) are given as :

  • (1) Āyāt  = Qur’anic style verses
  • (2) Munājāt = Devotional pieces, prayers, supplications;
  • (3) Khuṭbah = Literary Sermons, Orations, Homilies :   or alternatively  
  • (3) Suwar-i `ilmiyya = "Surahs expressive of divine knowledge”;
  • (4) Tafāsīr [sing. Tafsīr] = “Commentaries”, and
  • (5) Fārsī  =  Persian language revelations.

This pentadic (five-fold) configuration is clear from the Persian Bayān and other writings, especially Persian Bayan  III:17;  VI:1 and IX:2.  It is on account of this five-fold division of the Bāb’s writings that the Kitāb-i Panj Sha`n (KPS) gets its name. Panj means “five” and  sha`n  (pl.  shu`ūn) means “mode”, “category”, “grade”, etc. The KPS and related works and compilations are sometimes also referred to by the slightly abbreviated Persian equivalent Shu'ūn-i khamsa  (= “Five Modes”).The Four Grades of the Kitab al-asma' might thus be the four primary  Arabic modes of revelation within the Kitab-i panj sha'n (Book of the Five Modes of Revelation) though it seems likely that the Arabic Kitab al-asma' is earlier than the Kitab-i panj sha'n which added the fifth Persian category. It seems likely that the Kitab al-asma' as the 361 modelled four modes of revelation ( = (1) Āyāt  = Qur’anic style verses (2) Munājāt = Devotional pieces, prayers, supplications; (3) Khuṭbah = Literary Sermons, Orations, Homilies :   or alternatively  (3) Suwar-i `ilmiyya = "Surahs expressive of divine knowledge”; (4) Tafāsīr [sing. Tafsīr] = “Commentaries”) preceded and was slightly supplemented by the Kitāb-i Panj Sha`n with its five modes of revelation. A major work of the Bab containing 4 modes of revelation was complemented by one with five modes of revelation, the Persian being added to the four main Arabic modes. It is clear from the Persian Bayan and other writings that the Bab held Persian writings of equal revelatory valuie to those in Arabic.

Select Manuscripts of the Kitab al-asma'.

The openings Wahids (Unities) of the Kitab al-asma' are quite diffcult to find. Most mss. are incomplete and begin  after Wahid II or later than this. Many mss. are erratic and incomplete copies.  In his ongoing yet quite comprehensive database of the writings of the Bab, Steven Phelps registers the opening Wahid as commencing - without cleary identifyig the ms.  as I have translated above. In his sources, MacEoin states that he knows of 25 mss and adds that there are likely  "many more" (Sources 91-2)" He lists the following mss in Appendix One  p.188:

Fn. 35 (p. 188) here reads : "The B.L ms. Or. 5481 listed by Browne (Materials, p. 206) as a ms. of tbe Kitab al-asma', is not a Babi work at all.. Another ms. there (Or. 6255) contains, apart from a copy of the Kitab al-asma'  (ff. 1-265), twenty prayers (several of them titled), written mostly for the days of the week or for recitation after noon or for morning devotionals".(Sources, p. 188 fn. 35).

On the Browne Collection mss listed above see further below.

Select further ms. of the Kitab al-asma'.

  • Ms. St. Petersburg, National Library, Khanykov  (Russia's consul in Tabriz) collection. Very important early ms.  in the hand of an amanuensis of the Bab. cf. E. G. Browne, Catalogue and Description of 27 Babi MSS.  More recently identified by Youli Ioannesyan and now available by direct order. See PDfs below for Kitab al-asma', XXII in this ms. as pointed and published by Dorn in 1864-5 and translated by myself.
  • Ms
  • "Oct 10, 2010 - Sayyid `Ali Muhammad the Bab Shirazi. Kitab-i-Asma' ('The Book of Names' of All Things) Ms., private hands. This is a partial manuscript of 481 pages" This ms. may have originated from my own scanning of a Marzieh Gail Coll. ms. once held at the Bosch Baha'i Library in Santa Cruz, California. This mss opens as follows:

"The first Gate (bab) from the eighth Wahid (Unity) of the eighth month of the year [5 or 6 Badi` =18XX] on the gnosis (ma`rifat)  of the Name [of God] al-Murshid [the Guide / Guiding One]. It has four levels (maratib). The first [level] of the first division [mode = ayat, revealed verses] (al-awwal fi'l-awwal):

In the Name of God, the Supreme Guide (al-arshad), the Supreme Guide (al-arshad).

God, no God is there except Him, the Supreme Guide (al-arshad), the Supreme Guide (al-arshad).  Say: God is the Supreme Guide (al-arshad), above every possessor of Guidance (al-irshād). It is inconceivable that He would inhibit  from Rulership (malīk), the very Sovereign of His Guidance (sultan irshād), from anyone whether or not they be within the heavens or upon the earth or whatsoever lieth between them. He createth whatsoever He willeth through His Logos-Command. He hath ever been the One True Guide (rashshād an), the One Who Guides (rāshid an), the One Rightly-Guiding (rashīd an).

Glorified be whomsoever prostrateth before Him, be they in the heavens or upon the earth oe whatsoever lieth between these two....

The second section in this ms. commences al-thani fi'l-thani (the second [level] of the second [mode or division] namely, munajat (devotional revelation):

In the Name of God, the Supreme Guide (al-arshad), the Supreme Guide (al-arshad).

Glorified art Thou, O my God! We do indeed bear witness unto Thee as ineed do All-Things (kull shay') to the effect that Thou art indeed God. No God is there except Thee. Thy Oneness is without doubt for Thine is the Dominion and the Kingdom

 

The neo-Azali-Babi, Bayani  website has uploaded several impottant mss. of the Kitab al-asma'. They can be located here : 

  • XX
  • XX

The important and ongoing 21st century Baha'i generated database of Babi-Baha'i primary sources put together by Steven Phelps (see above) contains a valuable listing of mss. of the Kitab al-asma'. See

  • XX
  • XX

 

Kull Shay' : Three Hundred and Sixty One - 361 (19x19).  

Three Hundred and Sixty One, the number of Kullu shay' ("All-Things").

SOME KEY QUR'ANIC PASSAGES

"God is Powerful over kulli shay'i (everything / All-Things)" (Q. 65:12b).

"We enliven the dead and write down what they leave behind and leave unrealized. We keep an account of  kulla shay'in (All-Things")  in an imamin mubinin, a"Lucid Register" or "Manifest Imam" (Qur'an 36:12b). 

"We inscribed for him in the Tablets (al-alwah) something of kulli shay'i (everything/ "All-Things"), instructions [admonitions] and a clear explanation for kulli shay'i (everything / "All-Things"). So take hold thereof with power and order (bi-quwwat wa amr) such that thy people might take hold of the very best thereof. Then will I show thee the adode of the  wayward" (Q. 7:145).

The fairly frequent qur'anic Arabic expression kullu shay', basically meaning  "everything" or "all things" (perhaps at times, "pleroma", here translated for emphasis  "All-Things"), occurs  approximately 121 times in the Qur'an (= Q.). These qur'anic references, within forty-eight (out of 114 surahs)  both Meccan and Medinan verses, are :

Q. 2: 20, 29, 106, 109, 148, 231, 259, 282, 284; Q. 3: 26, 29, 165, 189; Q. 4: 32, 33, 85, 86, 126, 176; Q. 5: 17, 19, 40, 97, 111, 120; Q. 6: 17, 44, 80, 101 (x2), 102 (x2), 111, 154, 184; Q. 7: 89, 145 (x2), 156; Q. 8: 41, 75; Q. 9: 39, 115; Q. 11: 4, 12, 57; Q. 12: 111; Q. 13: 8, 16; Q. 15: 19; Q. 16: 77, 89; Q. 17: 12; Q. 18: 45, 84; Q. 20: 50, 98; Q. 21: 81; Q. 22: 6, 17; Q. 23: 88; Q. 24: 35, 45, 64; Q. 25: 2; Q. 27: 16, 23, 88, 91; Q. 28: 57, 88; Q. 29: 20, 42, 62; Q. 30: 50; Q. 32: 7; Q. 33: 27, 40, 52, 54, 55; Q. 34: 21, 47; Q. 35: 1; Q. 36: 12, 83; Q. 39: 62 x 2; Q. 40: 7, 62; Q. 41: 21, 39, 53, 54; Q. 42: 9, 12; Q. 46: 25, 33; Q. 48: 21, 26; Q. 49: 16; Q. 51: 49; Q. 54: 49, 52; Q. 57: 2, 3; Q. 58: 6, 7 Q. 59: 6; Q. 64: 1, 11; Q. 65: 3, 12 x 2; Q. 66: 8; Q. 67: 1, 19; Q. 72: 28; Q. 78: 29; Q.  85: 9 (Total = 121).

A few key verses are cited above but see also, for example, Qur'an  6: 44, 80, 101-2,154, 164; Q . 7:89, 145, 156; Q.13:8; Q.16:89; Q. 36:12; Q.39: 62; Q.48: 21, 26; Q. 54: 49, 52; Q. 72: 28-9; Q.78: 29 and Q, 82:5. Kullu shay' has an abjad numerical value of 361  (k=20 +l =30 + Sh = 300 + y = 10 + hamza = 1: Total = 361), Certain of the Qur'anic verses such as Qur'an 65:12b; 36:12b and 7:142 cited above, are highly theologically suggestive.

Ibn al-`Arabi among other earlier and later Islamic mystics, Sufis and philosophers considered kull shay -" All-Things".a Qur'anic phrase  numerologically, exegetically and cosmically meaningful.

Ignaz Goldziher (d. Budapest, 1921).

  • 1921. `Kleine Mitteilungen und Anzeigen, Verhältnis des Bäb zu früheren Sufi -Lehrern' in Der Islam, Zeitschrift für Geschichte und Kulter des lslamischen Oriens, Volume 11 (1921) pp. 252-4. See PDF with trans. Walker and Lambden in BSB

The Kitab al-asma' as the Kitab asma'i kulli shay'i. (The Book of the Names of All-Things)

The Kitab al-asma' of the Bab, as noted above, was sometimes referred to as the Kitab asma'i kulli shay'i. (The Book of the Names of All-Things). This in part because of its division into 19 Wahids and 19 Gates or Sections which, when multiplied yield 361 total divisions,.the abjad numerical value of Kullu shay' or All-Things (see image above). In the evolution of early or middle Babism (1844-1850s) there existed for a while a group of Babis who called themselves Kullu shay'is (loosely), "All thingers" or "The Pleroma" (Fullness). In many of his writings, especially his Kitab al-asma', Kitab-i Panj sha`n and Persian and Arabic Bayans, the phrase kullu shay' is especially important. Among hundreds of other examples, the following verses or lines may be cited here in illustration of this:

He assuredly raised up the creation of  "All-Things" (kull shay') from nothing  (shay') through Thy Power (qudrat). Then He divulged His Glory (tajalliat) unto "All-Things" (kull shay') through "All-Things" (kull shay') by virtue of Thy Might (`azimat)! Thus, whomsoever was transfigured (istijlla) through Thy Glorious Self-Revelation (tajalliyat) did so by virtue of empowerment through His Logos-Self (nafs)! (Kitab al-asma', ms. INBMC 29:6).

Some Notes on the Divisions, Recepients and Dating of select Mss of the Kitab al-asma' - in the light of their possible recipients alluded to through diverse Names of God (asma' Allah) found within headings and fourfold segments (maratib) of the kull shay'  (19x19 = 361) "Pleroma" framework within its varying Arabic neo-basmala superlative commencements.

 بسم الله الامنع الاقدس  

Bismi'llāh al-amna` al-aqdas

("In the Name of God, the Most Inaccessible, the Most Holy").

“The substance of this section (bab) is that all of the allusive letters (huruf-i lafziyya) are generated from the Point (Nuqta) [of the letter B]”. Opening words of Persian Bayan III.11

As indicated above, the Bab altered the standard basmala verse  (Bismillah al-rahman al-rahim, (loosely), "In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate") commencing all but one of the 114 Surahs of the Qur'an. In his Persian and Arabic Bayans (c.1848) he set forth a neo-basmala formula as an alternative, an again 19 letter but doubly superlative statement of sanctifying commencement expressive of God's apophatic transcendence: Bismillah al-amna` al-aqdas, "In the Name of God, the Most Inacessable, the Most Holy" (see Arabic above).

In commencing his later writings, the Bab often used this new basmala though post-1847 writings did not always follow this precedent. Many opening scriptural revelations of the Bab utilize two or more basmala theological statements often with double superlatives though not always al-amna` al-aqdas.On numerous occasions the Bab utilized an Arabic superlative that in some sense alluded to a person or persons similarly designated.

Western Scholarship on the Kitab al-asma' and the kullu shay' "All-Things".

The Kitab al-asma' was among the very first writings of the Bab to be partially published - even before Gobinaeu's rendering of the Arabic Bayan of the Bab in his Les Religiones ... (Paris 1865). From December 1864, the German born theologian, philosopher and polymathic linguist, Johannes Albrecht Bernhard Dorn or (Russ.) Boris Andreevich (d. St. Petersburg, 1881), the third head of the Asiatic Museum at St. Petersburg, gave attention to the study of certain manuscripts or writings of the Bāb. These were obtained by Nokolai Khanykov (d. Paris, 1878), a one time general Russian consul in Tabriz, (during 1853-1857). [1] Dorn analysed and published, for example, a ten page typed Arabic text (fully pointed by Dorn) deriving from an unpublished ms. which included wāḥid (Unity) XII. bāb (Section) 1 of the the Kitab al-asmā’ (`The Book of Names’, c.1849) of the Bāb. This extract is on the ma`rifa or Gnosis of the Name of God `al-Maskin’, meaning the Peaceful / Tranquil / the Dwelling / Tabernacle.[2] It was, somewhat mistakenly, thought by Dorn to be expressive of a new Bābī Qur’ān (see Dorn 1865: 4f., 25-38, 59-69; cf. Browne 1891: 202-3)

  • [1] On Khanykov see the entry on his by Volkov  in EIr.
  • [2]  On the linguistic brilliance of Dorn, see the article on him in EIr by  Luzhetskaya (in vol,.VII. fasc 5 pp.511-513). It is in the 1864/5 Die Sammlung von Morgenländischen Handschriften… where  the Pt. II is `Probe aus dem Koran der Baby’ (pp. 4-6). On pp. 59-69 of this article we find the fully pointed Arabic text of a ten page section of the Kitāb al-asmā’ (Book of Names) of the Bāb. Ater a line of preliminaries, these paragraphs are seen to commence  with the doubly superlative, neo-basmala, Bismillāh al-askan al-askan (In the Name of God, the Supremely Peaceful, the Supremely Tranquil).

Below is a PDf. of an extract from the Nokolai Khanykov ms. of the  Kitab al-asma' of the Bab  published in 1864/5 by Dorn, as photocopied by myself in the 1980s from a copy of the Russian, St, Petersburg  published book then in Newcastle University Library (England, UK) - probably originating from the heritage of the Browne family library

  • Khanykov-Dorn, The Bab, Kitab al-asma' (Book of Names)  an extract from ms. (mistitled as `Koran  der Baby' = Qur'an of the Babis) printed in St. Petersburg, 1864/5 Die Sammlung von Morgenländischen Handschriften...pp. 59-69.  PDf. Khanykov-Dorn-Kitab al-asma'.pdf
  • Lambden Translation from Kitab al-asma', XII deriving from the Khanykov- Dorn published ms. K.Asma XII.X

Edward G. Browne (d. Cambridge 1926) on the Kitab al-asma' and Mss. in the Browne Collection. 

The British orientalist Edward G. Browne (d. Cambridge 1926) was among the first western orientalists to comment upon the ms. texts of the Kitab al-asma' and the phrase kullu shay' "All-Things". The JRAS XXIV/ 04 October 1892 article on 27 Babi Manuscripts contains some very useful notes on several important mss of the Kitab al-asma' as does the summary notes within the 1932 Nicholson Catalogue of the Browne mss. collection. See especially E. G. Browne,

  • 1889.  "The Bábís of Persia  I. Sketch of Their History, and Personal Experiences amongst Them" in Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 21:3 (1889), pp. 485-526..
  • 1889. The Bábís of Persia  II. Their Literature and Doctrines, in Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, XXI/ 4 (1889), pp. 881-1009.
  • 1892.  Art. XIII.—Catalogue and Description of 27 Bábí Manuscripts. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Volume XXIV/ issue 04 / October 1892, pp 637-710.

Also 1932. Nicholson, Reynold, A.,

  • A Descriptive Catalogue of the Orental MSS. Belonging to the Late E,G, Browne. Cambridge: University Press, 1932.

It may be noted here that the initial F.  indicates some 65 `Shaykhi and Babi MSS' in the Browne Coll. The Images which follow are scanned from the Nicholson Catalogue, p.60f.

Browne Coll. Ms F.16 (9) = BBF 9 = Kitab al-asma', Vahids VIII-XIX. Described by Browne in JRAS XXIV/ 04 October 1892  pp. 648-656  as `The Bab's Commentary on the Names Vol.II' or the `The Tafsir of the Names /Tafsir al-asma'.( Cf. Nicolson, 1932:60).  

Browne Coll. Ms.  F.17 (9) = BBF.  10. = Kitab al-asma' Vahids  II-VII. Described by Browne  in JRAS 657-659 as `Part of The Book of the Names of All Things' Volume 1 (Cf. Nicolson, 1932: 60)This ms. is decribed in JRAS  as follows : "This MS., forwarded to me by Subh-i-Ezel in July or August, 1891, appears to be the companion volume of the MS. last described, with which it corresponds in size, writing, and arrangement, though its name is given somewhat differently. It contains in an incomplete form Vahids ii-vii inclusive, just as BBF. 9 contains Vahids viii-xix.
Vahid i is missing, but a statement of its contents is prefixed to the index on f. 2a. The description of the MS. is as follows:
Ff. 338 (ff. 1a-1b, 81b, 88a-88b, 120a-120b, 336b-338b - blank), 20.75 x 13 centimetres, 21 lines to the page. Written in the same clear and compact naskh as the MS. last described. Headings of chapters and marginal annotations in red..." Add PDf.

Browne Coll. Ms.  F.18 (9) = Kitab al-asma' Vahid VIII.1 to Vahid XIX.18. See Nicholson pp. 60-61. Nicholson writes, "Another voluminous " Book of Names," extending from chapter 1 of Wahid VIII to chapter 18 of Wahid XIX, beginning:

Nicholson adds, "The whole book is like this, each " Name" being treated in this way and given a whole series of derived forms, theoretically possible though not actually in use, and each chapter being, apparently, set apart for a particular day of each of the nineteen months into whieh the Babf year is divided. In some cases the name of
the person for whose benefit a chapter was "revealed" is specified in the margin, e.g. :

My own translation of the above important marginal materials identifying the names of recipients follows , along with a few tentative expository notes of my own in square brackets:

  • [p.273] "In the land of Sad [Isfahan] delivered unto the `Letter al-ra' (R) and al-ba' (B)' [= rabb, "Lord" = probably someone with the names Ali + Muhammad' = abjad 202 like Rabb = "Lord"]  the al-Shahir  through al-Nahri"
  • [p. 430] "Sent down [revealed] on the night of al-istiqlal ["Independence" = Friday] unto al-Fath-`Ali in the Most Elevated Land (ard al-a`la)".
  • [p. 466] "Unto Our Master [Lord] al-Karim for he will preserve the basis [foundational text?] by communicating the black [typeface?] through al-Mu`allim [the Instructor-Teacher] al-Subba and therein will be the completion for the al-Hujja (the Proof) = the Bab himself or perhaps  Mulla Muhammad `Ali Zanjani ?].
  • [510] [For] Sayyid Rahim in Sad [ = Isfahan].
  • [p.526] For the al-Hamdani Tabib [Hamadani Medic]. He had desired happiness (al-surur) and sadness (ghawr), [through] the pearls of the words (durar al-kalimat).
  • [p. 536] For the brother of the martyrs of the Mahdi (li-akh al-shahidin al-mahdi) and the [one named] al-Baqir al-Kindi.

Browne Coll. Ms.  F.19 (9) = Kitab al-asma', Vahid II.10 - Vahid VII.19. See Nicholson p.61.

PDf.

Browne Coll. Ms.  F. 20 (9) = = Kitab al-asma' ? See Nicholson p.61.

PDf.

Browne Coll. Ms F. 23 (9) = BBF 3, `Min Athar-i Bayan' . Composite mss. of writings of the Bab and Babi materials supplied to EGB by Mirza Yahya Subh-i Azal. Included is an extract from the Kitab al-asma' - see below on the Babi calandar and the Kitab al-asma' ms.  See JRAS 1892 `Catalogue and Description of 27 Bábí Manuscripts' p.    and Nicholson p.63.

In his edition of the Hajji Mirza Jani Kashani, Nuqtat al-Kaf  (p. LXXXVI).

In his Matetials for the Study of the Babi Religion (Cambridge 1918) Browne, rather dismissively, writes :    

"(10) Books of "Names " or " Names of All Things."
Of all the Bib's writings no category is so unintelligible, and, to the ordinary reader, so tedious and so unprofitable as this. It is represented in the British Museum by the MSS. Or. 5278, Or. 5481, Or. 5487, Or. 5488, Or. 5489, Or. 5490, Or. 5869 and Or. 6255; and in my library by BBF. 9 and BBF. 10 (see J R. A. S. for 1892, pp. 648-659), and two other volumes, corresponding to these, each to each, copied in 1330/ 1912. and sent to me in June, 1913, by the Babi copyist in Persia mentioned on p. 198 supra.  The titles of these volumes differ a little ( ADD HERE ), and I cannot say positively how far they represent identically the same work, but they are at least very similar, and are all intolerably monotonous. The six lines cited on p. 649 of the J.R A.S. for 1892 are, mutatis mutanids (i.e. substituting a new "Attribute"  or "Name " of God in each section) a fair sample of the whole. I doubt if anyone, even the most enthusiastic believer, could read or understand them, and I am certain that no one could translate them" (Materials,106).  

For further details see Goldziher, 1921.
 

A Note on the Names of God and the 19 x19 (361) x 4 (1444)       Divisions of the Kitab al-asma'.

There are numerous Islamic traditions (hadith/ akhbar) about the number and nature of the Names and Attributes of God. The theology of the Names of God is of central importance in Islamic theology and mysticism. As noted the Bab went way beyond the traditional 99 Names of God. In his Ziyarat-Nameh for himself as the al-Nuqta (Point) and the Letters of the Living he presupposed 202 such names by invoking God / the Divine Manifestation this many times by using a succession of superlatives like those within the Kitab al-asma'. Elsewhere he seems to presupppose at least 361 Names/Attribures of God or perhaps many more through multiples of kull shay' (abjad = 19x19 = 361). 

At the opening of this webpage it has been noted the the Kitab al-asma' commences at Wahid 1 section or bab 1 as follows :

الباب الاول من الواحد الاول

  بسم الله الاسمم الاسمم  

لا الله الا هو الارشد الارشد

This could be summarized as follows: W= Wahid; B = Bab; M= Mode; x 4 for the Four modes of revelation (see above) - (1) Āyāt  = Qur’anic style verses' (2) Munājāt = Devotional pieces, prayers, supplications; (3) Khuṭbah = Literary Sermons, Orations, Homilies :   or alternatively (3) Suwar-i `ilmiyya = "Surahs expressive of divine knowledge”; (4) Tafāsīr [sing. Tafsīr] = “Commentaries”,

:

  • KA W I. B1.M1 = Basmala + twice the superlative al-asmam ("The Supreme Bestower of a Name"). Next God twice has the superlative  al-arshad ("the Supremly Guided" / "Supreme Guide" associated with Himself as Allah/God.

We find here the superlative al-arshad (as at VIII  1.1f see below] from the triliteral Arabic root r-sh-d meaning `to guide'. etc (cf. irshad = "guidance"). As at VIII.1 "on the gnosis of the Name al-Murshid ("The Guide", so VIII.1) this name of God might be presupposed. It is not clear exactly why the Bab chose here the superlative al-arshad   (if this is what the original ms has) as an initial Name of God  and possibily also indicative of a personal name.  It may express a note of supreme eschatological guidance at the outset of this specific wahid, commencing the very first gate (bab) of the opening Wahid. If there is allusion to the name or title of a contemporary Babi believer it is not clear at this stage who this might be. Common names and designations from this root include Rashid (The One Guided) and Murshid (The Guide).  The triliteral root r-sh-d has a numerical value of r = 200+ sh = 300 + d = 4; total = 704. The Name or title  Rashid (The One Guided) has an abjad numerical value of  714 (the long i or y = abjad 10). 

  • KA W I. B1.M2
  • KA W I. B1.M3
  • KA W I. B1.M4
  • KA W I. B2.M1
  • KA W I. B2.M2
  • KA W I. B2.M3
  • KA W I. B2.M4
  • KA W I. B3.M1
  • KA W I. B3.M2
  • KA W I. B3.M3
  • KA W1. B3.M4
  • KA W1. B4.M1
  • KA W I. B4.M2
  • KA W I. B4.M3
  • KA W I. B4.M4
  • XX
  • XX
  • XX
  •  
  • KA W II. B1.M1 ...
  • KA W III. B1.M1...
  • KA W IV. B1.M1 ...
  • KA W V. B1.M1 ...
  • KA W VI. B1.M1 ...
  • KA W V.II B1.M1 ...
  •  
  • KA WVIII. B1.M1 Basmala + twice the superlative  al-arshad ("the Supremly Guided"  / the "Supreme Guide" associated with Himself as Allah/God.
  • KA W VIII. B1.M2 Basmala + twice the Supreme Guide (al-arshad)...
  • KA W VIII. B1.M3 Basmala + twice the Supreme Guide (al-arshad)...
  • KA W VIII. B1.M4 Basmala + twice the Supreme Guide (al-arshad)...
  •  
  • KA W IX. B1.M1 ...
  • KA W X. B1.M1 ...
  • KA W XI. B1.M1 ...
  •  
  • KA W XII. B1.M1  "The first section (al-bab) from Wahid XII on the 11th month of the [Babi] year (5 or 6 = c. 1265/1849 or later) pertaining to the gnosis of the Name [of God] al-Maskin ("the Resident" / "Indwelling" / "Tabernacled" / "Dwelling-Place") for which there are four [revealed exegetical] levels (al-maratib).[1]The commencement of the first section in the first [mode](al-awwal fi'l-awwal) : In the Name of God,al-Askan, the Most Indwelling, al-Askan, the Most Immanent.  Possibly on the Name of God  al-musakkin ("The Calmer"), so Browne, see here:
  • Khanykov-Dorn St. Petersburg ms. https://hurqalya.ucmerced.edu/node/4171/
  •  
  • KA W XII. B1.M2
  • KA W XII. B1.M3
  • KA W XII. B1.M4
  • KA W XIII. B1.M1 ...
  • KA W XIV. B1.M1 ...
  • KA W XV. B1.M1 ...
  • KA W XVI. B1.M1 ...
  • KA W XVII. B1.M1 ...
  • KA W XVIII. B1.M1 ...
  • KA W XIX. B1.M1 ...

In Progress ...

The Babi-Baha'i Calendar and the Kitab al-asma'.

Edward G. Browne on the Calendral materials in mss. of the Kitab al-asma'.

In his `Catalogue and Description of 27 Bábí Manuscripts' Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, (Jul., 1892), pp. 433-499, Browne has occasion to refer to the 200 folio composite Mss BBF3 `Min Athar-i Bayan' written by Mirza Yahya Nuri, Such-i Azal. Also referred to in Nicholson 1932 as  Browne Coll. Ms F. 23 (9) = BBF 3, `Min Athar-i Bayan' (see above). This large mss contains as Browne has it "selections from  the Bab's writings of almost every variety ; prayers ; forms of visitation; letters to Subhi-i-Ezel and other believers; extracts from the Commentary on the Sura-i-Yusuf, etc. ... To this MS., as to the last, is prefixed the title [Bayan] , evidently in that wide sense to which I have already adverted (p. 453 supra). As it contains a great number of pieces, I must, for the sake of brevity, confine myself to the briefest enumeration of all save the most interesting." (p. 470).

Browne goes on to note that Its  "58th piece" which "is an extract from the Book of the names (Kitab al-asma' ; see T.N. ii, pp. 202, 318, 338), to which are prefixed ordinances bearing on the arrangement of the Babl calendar" (JRAS., 1892: 477). He adds, "The year is here explicitly described as consisting of 361 days (19X19), and no mention is made of the intercalary days used by the Beha'is, so that these would seem to have been introduced by Beha (cf. T.N. ii, pp. 419, 422-5). This preface concludes with a command that all letters shall be fully dated, according to the Babl method, and, as a specimen, a date (seemingly that whereon this document was written) is given in full, as follows:

Browne adds the following note based on his reading of this Arabic extract: "The date thus given is "the day of Istiķlal [Friday ], the day of 'Ilm [the 12th day ] of the month 'Ilm [the 12th month] of the year Jab" [Jim =3 +1 [=A] +Ba' = 2 total  6 - I have clarified this here], so that the document must have been written during the last year of the Bab's life (October, 1849). For this reason, if for no other, it is interesting" (p.477).

Thus, as Browne realized, these words would seem to imply that this extract from the Kitab al-asma' (in Ms. BBF3) of the Bab should date to the Badi` year six  (cf. 1266 Hijri =  17th November 1849 - mid November 1850). For the Bab 12th of the month of `Ilm [= Oct-Nov. of 19 Babi months]  of the year 6 Badi` computes to mid.late 1849. The 1st of Bahā’  of the Badī` calendar year 7 corresponds to the 19th of March 1850 CE  (which is on the Hejri Islamic calendar = 5th of Jumāda I  in the year 1266 AH).  The year six obviously precedes this date.

The Guardian or head of the Baha'i religion (from 1921-1957), Shoghi Effendi Rabbani (d. London, 1957), set down some details regarding the Badi` (New, Revolutionary, Wondrous) Babi-Baha'i Calendar rooted in the Kitab al-asma' of the Bab, the Persian Bayan and select other writings.  Some details were first set forth by the aforementioned Guardian in the first half of the 20th century, in certain of the annual `Baha'i World Volumes'  (from vol. 5 1932-1934, p.360ff see below) . He and/ or his Zarandi source, did not, however, give precise details about where the calendral materials were located in the Kitab al-asma' or in which specific ms. or mss of the Kitab al-asma' of the Bab. He published some calendral details about the Badi` calendar in summary form and  largely derived from the detailed historical-doctrinal notes compiled by Muhammad Nabil-i Zarandi (d. 1892) in versions of his so-called Tarikh-i Zarandi (History of Nabil-i Zarandi, c.1888-89). These bulky and still unpublished volumes  in their original  Persian (and Arabic), have long been unavailable (save for a few extracts); details have only partially become available in a redacted form in  English translation, in the large volume entitled  The Dawn- Breakers: Nabíl's Narrative of the Early Days of the Bahá'í Revelation (1st English ed. and trans. Shoghi Effendi, 1932). In  The Baha'i World  Volume. 5 (1932-1934, p.360ff), within the section headed `Additional Materials  Gleaned trom Nabil's Narrative (Vol. 11), Regarding the Baha'i Calendar' , we find the following details (the inserted maps have been removed) :

 

    The mss, texts of the Kitab al-asma' and the Names of God.

    The Kitab al-asma'  [VIII]:1f.

    The Kitab al-asma' INBMC 29

    Lambden Translation from INBMC 29.

    [The Kitab al-asma', VIII.]

    It has four levels (maratib). The First [Section] within the First [Division]:

    In the Name of God,

    the Supremely Guided (al-arshad), the Supremely Guided (al-arshad).

    [R-Sh-D to Guide]

    God, no God is there save Him., the Supremely Guided (al-arshad), the Supremely Guided (al-arshad). Say: God proffers a Guidance (arshad) beyond every possessor of Guidance (irshad). It cannot be reckoned that He would withold from anyone, whether in the heavens or upon the earth or whatsoever lieth between them, the Ruler (malik) who is the Sovereign of His Guidance (malik sultan irshadihi). He createth whatsoever He willeth through His Command (amr). He, verily, was One Guided through Guidance (rashad an rashid) to the end tht all might be strengthened. Glorified be whomsoever is prostrate before Him whether they be in the heavens or upon the earth or whatsoever lieth between them.

    Say: All are upstanding before Him. And Praised be unto God! before whom all do utter glorification be they in the heavens or upon the earth or whatsoever lieth between them.

    Say : All are prostrate before Him. God testifieth that He, no God is there except Him, the King and the Kingdom (al-mulk wa'l-malakut), the Mighty and the Omnipotent (al-`izz wa'l-jabarut), the Powerful and the Divine (al-qudrat wa'l-lahut), the Powerful and the One Empowered, the Gemstone [Sapphire] (al-quwwat wa'l-yaqut), the One Sovereign and the mundane realm (al-sultan wa'l-nasut). He it is Who bringeth Life and causeth to die, then He causeth to die and bringeth Life. He is indeed One Living (hayy) who dieth not, the King (malik) who fadeth not, the Just One (`adl) never tyrannical, the Sovereign (sultan) never disempowered, the One Unique (fard) for nothing escapeth from His grasp be it in the heavens or on the earth or between them. He creath whatsoever He willeth through His Logos-Command (amr) for He is indeed One Powerful over All-things (kull shay').

    For further excerpts in translation see Kitab al-asma' II : http://hurqalya.ucmerced.edu/node/3701

    The Kitab al-asma' INBMC 69

    Lambden Translation from INBMC 69.

     

    Translation from VIII.1 an unidentified (from Marzieh Gail Coll ?) ms.

    The Kitab al-asma' VIII:1.

    Opening lines  in ms. text of Kitab al-asma from VIII:1,
    Trans. Stephen Lambden.

    The first Gate (al-bab) from the eighth Unity (wahid) of the eighth month of the year on the gnosis of the Name al-murshid ("The Guide") which consists of four [sub-] sections (maratib). .

    In the Name of God, the Supremely Guided (al-arshad), the Supremely Guided (al-arshad).

    God, no God is there save Him., the Supremely Guided (al-arshad), the Supremely Guided (al-arshad). Say: God  proffers a Guidance (arshad)  beyond every possessor of Guidance (irshad).

    On the Page preceeding the Kitab al-asma' VIII. 1 (above),

    The page partially set down below  preceeds that of  the Kitab al-asma; VIII. 1 translated above . It may be an unrelated work of the Bab or perhaps the end of Kitab al-asma' VII. 19 or a kind of prolegomenon to VIII. 1. In this unidentified ms,.  I shall here translate this possible page from the  Kitab al-asma on this Website at Kitab al-asma' II  : 

    For the page preceeding the first [wahid] (of Kitab al-asma; VIII:1 = end of VII. 19??) :

    The Kitab al-asma' - English Translations.

    • Section 5 from `Selections From the Writings of the Bab Haifa: Baha’i World Centre, 1982 129-49. Slightly reformatted January, 2017.

    There is no complete critical or even non-critical edition of the complete text of the Kitab al-asma'.. Almost nothing has been translated from this weighty and lengthy book save a few passages (twenty or so pages) in English within the Baha'i published (Persianized) Kitáb-i-Asmá in Selections from the Writings of the Bab, Haifa: BWC., 1978.

    The twenty or so pages of translations from the Kitāb al-asmā’ (Per. Kitab-i-Asma) set down here (from the above named compilation,SWB, pp.129-149 see PDf) were apparently done by Habib Taherzadeh and others at the Baha’i World Centre, Haifa. Israel. No identity of the original manuscript or manuscript translated is given. These extracts in English translation all come from the sixteenth XVI /16), seventeenth (XVII/17) and eighteenth (XVIII/18) vahids (Unities) only constituting a very small proportion of the perhaps 2000-3000 page original.

    The original text translated here has also been published in the volume:

    • See PDf. Section 5. Kitab al-asma' SWB. Original Texts.

    Select Bibliography relating the the Kitab al-asma' and the Qur'anic kullu shay' ("All-Things"),

    Dorn, Johannes Albrecht Bernhard / Boris Andreevich (1805-1881).

    Bernard Dorn, or (Russ.) Boris Andreevich (1805-1881), the third head of the Asiatic Museum, St. Petersburg (founded 1818).

    •  EGB = Bulletin de l'Académie impériale de Saint-Pétersbourg vol. III (1864/5) esp. 247-248.
    • 1865. Die Sammlung von Morgenländischen Handschriften: welche dir Kaiserliche Offentliche Bibliothek zu St. Petersburg in Jahre 1864 Von Hern. v. Chanykov … St. Petersburg: Buchdruckerei der Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften erwoben hat von B. Dorn.  
    • Die Sammlung von morgenländischen Handschriften [Texte imprimé] : welche die Kaiserliche öffentl. Bibliothek zu St. Petersburg im Jahre 1864 von Hern v. Chanykov erworben hat / B. Dorn / Saint-Pétersbourg : Bulletin de l'académie des sciences de St-Petersbourg , 1865
    • XXX Morgenländische Handschriften der Kais. öffentl. Bibliothek zu ST. Petersburg; Nachträge zu dem Verzeichniss der im Jahre 1864 erworbenen Chanykov'schen Sammlung [Texte imprimé] / B. Dorn / Saint-Petersburg : Académie impériale des sciences de Saint-Petersbourg , 1865

    Alexander Kazem Beg wrote on the religon of the Bab from c. 1865

    Gobineau

    Viktor R.  Rosen (1849-1908).

    • Add

    Edward. G. Browne (d. Cambridge, 1926)

    • 1889.  "The Bábís of Persia  I. Sketch of Their History, and Personal Experiences amongst Them" in Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 21:3 (1889), pp. 485-526..
    • 1889. The Bábís of Persia  II. Their Literature and Doctrines, in Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, XXI/ 4 (1889), pp. 881-1009.
    • 1892.  Art. XIII.—Catalogue and Description of 27 Bábí Manuscripts. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Volume XXIV/ issue 04 / October 1892, pp 637-710.
    • 1892. `Catalogue and Description of 27 Bábí Manuscripts' in `The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland' [= JRAS.], Cambridge University Press, vol. --(1892), pp. 433-499.
    • 1910. `Kitab-i-Nuqtatu'l-Kaf [The Point of the Letter "K"]. (Gibb-Series XV). Cambridge : CUP., 1910. 
    • 1918. `Matetials for the Study of the Babi Religion'. Cambridge : CUP., 1918.

    Ignaz Goldziher (d. Budapest, 1921).

    • 1921. `Kleine Mitteilungen und Anzeigen, Verhältnis des Bäb zu früheren Sufi -Lehrern' in Der Islam, Zeitschrift für Geschichte und Kulter des lslamischen Oriens, Volume 11 (1921) pp. 252-4. See PDF with trans. Walker and Lambden in BSB

    Reynold A. Nicholson (d. Chester, 1945).

    • 1932. `A Descriptive Catalogue of the Oriental MSS. Belonging to the Late E. G. Browne', Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1932. Rep. 2010.