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The term `Amā' عَمَاء in the Qayyūm al-asmā' of the Bāb.

The term `Amā' عَمَاء  ("Theophanic Cloud")

in the Qayyūm al-asmā'  of the Bāb (mid. 1844)

 An Appendix to the Commentary upon the Rashh-i `Amā' of Mirza Husayn `Ali Nuri, Baha'-Allah (1817-1892). Rev. and expanded from BSB 3:2 (1984).

Original BSB version of 1984. PDf. BSB Rashh-App.I.pdf

From Notes Written in the early 1980s, Last Revised Jan. 9th 2006

In progress - being completed and further revised in 2020.

Last updated 18-09-2020,

When, usually briefly and towards the end of most (but by no means all ) of 111 (2) chapters the  Qayyūm al‑asma'' (=QA)  the Bāb turns his attention to the Qur'ānic story of Joseph, he most often rewrites a specific verse (contained in sūra 12) in an abstruse manner. Utilizing a typological and qabbalistic hermeneutic he explains the Qur'ānic narrative in the light of the rank and relationship between the Imams, the position of Imam Ḥusayn or the Dhikr  and his own status as the "gate" (bāb)  of the Hidden Imam. On another level the story enshrines alphabetical or (loosely) "qabbalistic" mysteries associated with the letters which form the kalimat al‑tawḥīd  (= the twelve letters of    لا اله الا الله `There is no god except God' ) which can represent Joseph,  his brothers, the Prophet Muhammad and the first 11 of the twelver Imams (see QA. V [on Qur'ān 12:4f]).

 In the Bāb's lengthy Tafsir Surat Yusuf (Commentary of the Sūrah of Joseph) or Qayyūm al‑asmā'   (ADD) (mid. 1844) the term `amā'  occurs about 75 times ‑‑ in the singular, in a variety of genitive constructions and in dual form (see below). The contexts in which it is found are frequently obscure as the following notes will demonstrate, and, I hope, clarify.  

It is in the Xth chapter of the Qayyūm al‑asmā'  that `amā'  first occurs. The Bāb appears to teach that God will cause "Our servant" (= the Bāb himself or the hidden Imam) to be made manifest (lit.) "in a cloud of light" (fī `amā' min nūr)  to his contemporaries who look out for the  Dhikr Allāh  (the hidden 12th Imam) or (perhaps) perform the "remembrance of God"  (dhikr allāh)  in the morning and in the evening. [1] It appears that in this pericope of the QA. `amā' has the `basic sense' of theophanic  "cloud".

 The term `amā'  occurs in a number of the Bāb's eisegetical rewrites of verses in the 12th chapter of the Qur'ān.[2] He rewrites Qur'ān 12:10 in the following manner - first the verse itself:




Qayyum al-asma' XI [11] the Sūrat al-saṭr (The Surah of the Alphabetical Line) 



"Then a spokesman among the brothers of Joseph, that is, [Imam] Ḥasan son of `Alī ‑upon him be peace ‑‑ one mighty in the Mother Book [and one] about and in the Ancient [Sinaitic] Fire, said, "Do not slay Joseph! Rather, cast him into the depth of the pit of the Divine Unicity (jubb al‑aḥadīya)  concealed about the [Sinaitic] Fire. "God, verily, hath intended by the "pit" (al‑jubb)  the `amā'  (theophanic cloud) hidden in the secret and concealed air (hawa') above the mystery inscribed in the Mother Book (umm al-kitab)  about the line (`amā' al‑mustasarr fī hawā' al‑sirr al‑mustasirr `alā al‑sirr fī umm al‑kitāb ḥawl al‑saṭr mastūr an)" (QA. XI. EGB  fol. 17a + INBMC III: XX).                                

Here the use here of both `amā' and hawā' suggests that the Bāb had the `hadīth of `ama' (quoted above)  in mind. The words of Reuben (Qur'ān 12:5) are rewritten and put into the mouth of Imam Ḥasan (the brother of Imam Ḥusayn). It is not that the earthly Joseph was cast into a pit by his jealous brothers but that Imam Ḥusayn (so it seems) was cast into the "depths of the pit of the Divine Unicity" or the mysterious realm of `amā'. `Amā'  as well as jubb al‑aḥadīya  (= elsewhere lujjat al‑aḥadīya,  "the abyss of the Divine Unicity") appear to be symbolic of the locus of the primordial, mysterious, heavenly and Sinaitic heights in which the Imam Ḥusayn exists, was originated, and experienced God. They represent the highest, the unfathomable, beclouded and celestial realm associated in the Bāb's writings with the locus or light of the Prophet Muhammad, the Imam Ḥusayn, the Hidden Imam, the Logos -Self  or personified nafs  of God and the archetypal letter Alif  which, in alphabetical-qabbalistic terms is the gematric primogenitor of all the other letters of the alphabet. Such would seem the case from various passages in the QA and a reading of other of the Bab's major and minor works . Following the lines of QA. 11 (XI) translated above the Bāb, probably alluding to his role as representative of the Hidden Imam or Dhikr, states that God decreed a "caravan" (sayyārat) for travelling from "Gate" (bāb) to "Gate" (bab, cf. Qur'ān 12:19, 67 ), for pilgrims who wish to journey to the "secure sanctum" (al‑ḥaram al‑amīn) or  the celestial shrine(?) of Imam Ḥusayn. Those who so journey are spoken of as having found the occulted or celestial Ḥusayn as represented by a letter of the alphabet ( or as his locus?) which is concealed in the depths of the "pit" (the hidden celestial realm). They are the ones who travel to the "secret of the Dhikr" (sirr al‑dhikr) in the region of the Sinaitic Fire.


"So when they went with him, and agreed to put him in the bottom of the well (ghaybat al-jubb), and We revealed to him, 'Thou shalt tell them of this their doing when they are unaware.'" (Q. 12: 15. Trans. Arberry). 


A few lines later the Bāb speaks of the creation of Joseph and his brothers in the following manner:

 "God, verily, created Joseph and his brothers in sanctified worlds (`awālim al-quds)  from a sprinkling above a name, from an existing droplet of the [Heavenly] Water (min rashḥ `alā ism min qaṭrat al‑ibdā` `an dhalik al‑mā' mawjūd an ). And when We inhaled from Joseph a scent of the greatest Dhikr We, with the permission of God, clothed him in the garment of prophethood"  (QA. XI. EGB  fol. 17a )".  

These lines probably have to do with origin of the alphabetic and creative potencies symbolised by Joseph and his brothers who are the letters of the kalimat al‑tawḥīd  (= the twelve letters of    لا اله الا الله   `There is no god except God' ). Allusion is made to the creation of the reality of prophethood and to the origination of the Hidden Imam and his earthly representative (i.e. the Dhikr  and the Bāb ‑‑ see the following lines of QA.XI).  Worth noting is the fact that the word rashḥ  is used in connection with celestial Water in the context of a difficult pericope in which the terms `amā'  and hawā' are both found.

The term `amā'  also occus in the Bāb's explanation of (his rewrite of) Qur'ān 12:11 in Qayyūm al‑āsmā' chapter XII:

 "The brothers of Joseph asked their father about the supreme martyr (?`alā' mashad al‑akbar ) [= Imam Ḥusayn, unless this phrase be translated `upon the greatest spectacle [or the like] ): `Why do you not inform us of the knowledge of Joseph?' We are martyrs [witnesses] (shuhadā) of God, the Self‑Subsisting.. God created us for Ḥusayn [= Joseph ?] in the mystery of the Divine Unicity (bi‑sirr al‑aḥadīya)  concealed about the [Sinaitic] Fire. God verily announced in that verse (=Q. 12:11) the decree (ḥukm)  regarding [Imam] `Alī and his sons (= the subsequent Imams) in accordance with the decree of the Divine Unicity (ḥukm al‑aḥadīya)  veiled in the `amā'  of the Divine Ipseity (`amā' al‑huwīya) .. according to the decree of the Divine Perpetuity  (ḥukm al-ṣamadānīya)  inscribed about the [celestial] Water"  (QA. XII. EGB  fol. 18b ).

This `explanation' is as obscure as the rewrite of Qur'ān 12:11 though the following lines of QA. XII suggest that the Bāb believed that it foreshadowed the martyrdom of Imam Ḥusayn and (according to Shī`ī tradition) most, if not all of the other ten or eleven Imams. He may have thought that a judgement or decree (ḥukm) was made in the most elevated heavenly realms that the Imams ‑‑ Ḥusayn in particular -- would be martyred. Alternatively, it is possible that the decree (ḥukm)  mentioned in the passage translated above has to do with Joseph's "brothers" seen as the (twelver) Imams bowing down or `witnessing' before Joseph/ Imam Ḥusayn. In this context the genitive expression `amā' al‑huwīya might be indicative of the sphere or realm of the cloud enshrouding the Divine Ipseity or the most celestial region in which the decree of martyrdom was pronounced.

The genitive expression "land of `amā' " occurs twice in the context of the Bāb's exegetical rewrite of Qur'ān 12:17 in Qayyūm al‑Asmā'  chapter  XVIII. Having abandoned Joseph in the "pit" the brothers return from the "land of the Divine Uniqueness" (arḍ al‑wāḥidīya) [the region around the "pit" ] and say to their father:

"O our father, We went racing with one another in the land of `amā' (`alā ard al‑`amā')  and we abandoned Joseph (along) with the provisions of the Divine Unicity (mata` al‑aḥadīya)  from our Lord.. And the onlookers (al‑nazirun)  devoured (lit. ate) him by gazing [jealously] upon him (? bi'l‑ishārat alayhu)  in the abyss of the Divine Innovation (lujjat al‑bad`)  [QA XVIII. fol. 27b.]

Having rewritten Qur'ān 12:17a in this manner the Bāb states that these "onlookers" (al‑nāzirūn)  have been accorded the name of "the Wolf" (al‑dhib)  in the "Mother Book". He then rewrites Qur'an 12:17b in the following way:

 "And the letters of "There is no god but God" (the 12 letters of   لا اله الا الله  lā Iāha Ilā Allāh,  which represent the brothers of Joseph) said to `Alī in the land of `amā' (`ala arḍ al‑`amā'):  `Thou wilt never believe us with respect to our prostration [before Joseph, see Q. 12:4 and QA.V] even though we have, in very truth, borne witness to Joseph in a praiseworthy manner (QA  18 [XVIII] fol.27b) .

This  rewrite continues:

"This decree (ḥukm regarding the prostration) is the truth from God our Master for God, verily, decreed the prostration of the stars [= the Imams] before Ḥusayn [= Joseph] above the dust in accordance with the decree of the Gate (ḥukm al‑bāb) issued about the [Sinaitic] Fire.." (ibid ).

 The Bab appears to teach that Qur'ān 12:17 has to do with the great rank of Imam Ḥusayn. Joseph's abandonment in the "pit" symbolizes the exalted level of proximity to God attained or decreed by God for this Imam. Reuben, the eldest of Joseph's brothers, becomes a type of the first Shī`ī Imam, Imam `Alī, who, like Ḥusayn, has a superior rank among the hierarchy of the (12) Imams.

 It may be deduced from these difficult passages that the phrase "land of `amā'"  is esoterically descriptive of the region about the "pit" (al-jubb)  into which Joseph was thrown. It represents an exalted realm expressive of Imam Ḥusayn's elevated rank and proximity to God as contrasted with the rank and role of the other Imams.

Not infrequent in the Qayyūm al‑Asma'  (see further below), the genitive expression "ahl al-`amā'"  which may be translated "people of `amā'"  or "inhabitants of `amā'" ,  first occurs in chapter 20 (XX) of this work. In the context of a rewrite of Qur`an 12:19 where  we read:

"And We, with the permission of God, sent the Caravan of Love (siyārat al‑ḥubb)  unto this pit (al‑jubb  ‑‑ or well). [They sent their water‑carrier for water]. And he let down his bucket [into the pit or well] through interior perception (? bi‑nazar al‑fū'ād)  and he said: `Ah. there! Good news! [Here is] This Youth, the like of which eye hath not beheld! O People of `amā'!  Conceal him as a piece of [treasured] merchandise isolated from the Divine Unity [= the divine locus of his brothers the other Imams?] perchance you may be remembered by God, the Exalted, about the [Sinaitic] Fire." And We, verily, made remote from this Youth [Joseph= the Hidden Imam / Imam Ḥusayn] , the Greatest Word (al‑kalimat al‑akbar),  this Arabian Youth (fata `arabī ) [ = the Bāb himself] one righteous in the land of the Heart (arḍ al‑fu'ād).."  (QA. 20 [XX]. fol. 30a)

If I understand this passage correctly the Bāb represents himself as the one who discovered "Joseph" in the "Pit" ( traditionally a Midianite or Arab merchant). Through his interior perception or love he was able to communicate with the celestial Imam Ḥusayn (or the Hidden Imam) while he was living on earth. He communicated his secret to the ahl al‑`amā'  who are to conceal the Imam or preserve him in the depths of the "pit" (= the realm of `amā')  ‑‑ isolated even from the "Divine Unity" (= Joseph's / Ḥusayn's brothers / the Imams = the letters of the (kalimat al‑tawḥīd?).

 In this context (cf. also below) the ahl al‑`amā'  may be thought of as those who exist in the upper region of the celestial realm where the Hidden Imam or Imam Ḥusayn is in occultation ‑‑ in `amā'  (?). More concretely the major Shī`ī Imams (= in one sense `Joseph's brothers') may be intended (in certain pericopae of the Qayyūm al‑Asmā')  by the ahl al‑`amā'  inhabitants of the Divine realm of Interiority. Certain passages within the Qayyūm al‑Asma'  further suggest that they may be thought of as heavenly beings existing in close proximity to God's throne, the Hidden Imam and/or the Divine Ipseity and possibly (on another level) the Bāb's first disciples subsequently conceived to be the "return" of the Shī`ī Imams (or their `earthly counterparts') The XXth sura of the Qayyūm al‑Asmā'  contains a great deal more about the mysteries of the story of Joseph which cannot be commented on in detail. It must suffice to note that "Joseph" (= Imam Ḥusayn) is also represented as being thrown "beyond the crimson sea in al‑`amā' (warā' qulzum al‑hamrā' fi al‑`amā')  and hidden in "the midst of the splendour of the Sinaitic Mount" (fī qutb al‑bahā' `alā al‑ṭūr al‑sīnā').  (QA. XX. fol. 30a). He exists, in other words, in the centre of the Divine realm where the Sinaitic theophany took place.

 Imagery associated with the Sinai theophany is intimately related in the Qayyūm al‑Asmā' with the notion of al‑`amā' (for further details see below). The expression "crimson sea in al‑`amā'" is probably to be understood as signifying the ethereal radiance that emanates from the region of the divine interiority as the Sinaitic Fire radiated a crimson light that enshrouded the Divine Being who existed therein ‑‑ as the phrase "the midst of the splendour of the Sinaitic Mount" suggests.

 Some light is thrown on one level of the Bāb's use of the phrase ahl al‑`amā' in the 24th (XXIVth) surah of the Qayyūm al‑Asmā'. One referred to as the "Solace of the Eye" (qurrat al‑`ayn: here, most probably the Hidden Imam, Imam Ḥusayn or the Bāb) is exhorted not to be wrathful with the ahl al‑`amā' in the light of the fact that they are a sign of what is other than the Dhikr from the "Greatest Dhikr" (al‑dhikr al‑akbar). They inhabit the region about `amā' where the Dhikr or (here) the Hidden Imam (or Imam Ḥusayn) is concealed and represent him (QA. XXIV. fol. 35b). It might be possible, however,  to understand this pericope to be indicative of the Bāb's own role as a Dhikr subordinate to the Greatest Dhikr (the Hidden Imam) in the light of his own adherants being the ahl al‑`amā'.

In the same sūra,  it is further worth noting, the Bāb uses the expressions "horizon of `amā'"  and "birds of `amā'".  He claims to be both the Sinaitic Mount (al‑ṭūr) which was the scene of the Divine theophany and a "Sun" (al‑shams)  which hath risen up from the "horizon of `amā'" (ufq al‑`amā')  about which God bears witness (QA. XXIV. fol. 36a). The Dhikr Allāh is exhorted to "recite in the Name of your Lord" (cf. Qur'ān 96:1) a verse indicative of God's Oneness, summon the people to the "Path of this Gate" (= the Bābī Cause) and make the Cause (al‑amr)  to appear with the "accents of the birds of amā'  on the crimson leaves" (`alā laḥn al‑tuyūr min al‑`amā' fī al‑waraqat al‑ḥamrāt..)  of the Sinaitic Tree. ( QA. EGB  24 [XXIV]. fol. 36a., cf. the passage from the Tafsīr Sūrat al‑Baqara quoted above).  Like ahl al‑`amā' the expression ṭuyūr al‑`amā' (or the like) is indicative of the inmates of the highest celestial realm. They, as it were, reside about the region that is the focal centre of the Divine theophany ‑‑ the heart of the Sinaitic Tree and the midst of the `Cloud of Unknowing'.

In the 28th (XXVIIIth) sūra of the Qayyūm al‑asmā'   -- which the Bāb directs should be recited according to his own celestial Arabic accent --  the ahl al‑`amā'  are commanded to hearken unto the Bāb who is referred to as the "Arabian Youth" who crieth out from Sinai.  He is an Arab of the ahl al‑`amā'  and a heavenly Bird who, according to sura XLI, "warbleth melodiously in the firmament of `amā' (jaww al‑`amā',  or `atmosphere of `amā')"  (QA. XXVIII. fol.43b., cf. QA. XXXIII. fol. 52b‑53a = an address to the ahl al‑`amā'). This "firmament of `amā'"  is the locale of the "world of `amā'"  (`ālam al‑ `amā')  which was formost in assenting to the "Greatest Word of God" (kalimat Allāh al‑akbar) [ = acknowledging the truth of the reality of the Dhikr  or prophethood in pre‑eternity]  when exhibited to all creation. This "world of `amā'"  and its inhabitants are exalted above the "people of paradise" (ahl al‑firdaws) and the "people of the garden of Eden" (ahl jannat al‑`adn).  They were foremost in responding to the pre‑eternal covenant regarding the Dhikr (?). QA. 51 (LI. fol. 86a ) Other heavenly concepts and realities are mentioned in this part of the Qayyūm al‑Asmā' that subsequently (in primordial times) assented to the "Greatest Word of God". 

The Bāb makes some interesting claims in a pericope of the 54th (LIVth) sūrah of the Qayyūm al‑asmā'  which is addressed to the "people of the abyss of Paradise" (lujjat al‑firdaws).  He is directed to inform the "inmates of the [celestial] chambers" (ahl al‑hujurat)  that God has inspired him to say, "I, verily, am God, no god is there except Me "that he is the 'Itwo lights in the two mysteries" (al‑nūrayn fī al‑sirrayn),  the "two forms in the two Temples" (al‑shaklayn fī al‑haykalayn),  and the "two lamps in the two glasses" (al‑sirajayn fī al‑zujajayn) (cf. Q. 24: 35). He is the one who, through the "two letters" (harfayn),  cried out for "not a single letter was uttered by the two primordial selves (al‑nafsayn al‑awwalayn)  and not a single letter was found of the mystery of the two gulfs (sirr al‑tutunjayn)"  except through the Bāb's own self (nafs) which is the "bearer of the "two names" (hāmil al‑ismayn)  (cf. also for example, QA. CIX.fol.194b,196b and see below). On this account the inhabitants of the "celestial abyss" (lujjat al‑lahūt)  glorified God and those in the "land of `amā' "  (arḍ al‑`amā')  uttered praise "in the land of that Gate (bāb)  which is, in very truth, the greatest". (QA. LIV. fol. 91.b-92a.)  They, the dwellers about the region of the Divine Interiority where the mystery of the Bāb's primordial being is located, give glory and praise inasmuch as the name of the Bāb or his essental nafs ("Self") is Alī Muhammad (the bearer of the two names/ realities of Imam `Alī and the prophet Muhammad?). They acknowledged his occupying the office of "gatehood" (bābīyat).  The Bāb's not infrequent and cryptic use of the dual in the QA. may be related to the fact that his name was `twofold' : [Siyyid] (1) `Alī [+] (2) Muhammad [Shirazi]. This also appears to be related to the fact that bāb is spelt having two letter B's with an alif  (A)  in the centre (cf. also (the fully spelt out letter   ADD  [wāw]).

The term `amā'  occurs three times in sūra LVII of the QA. Addressing the ahl al‑ `amā' (see above) the Bāb invites them to hearken unto the call of God from the Sinaitic Tree on the leaves of which birds utter the declaration of Divinity. Then, addressing the "concourse of Lights" (malā' al‑anwār)  he writes:

 "We, by God, are the Absolute Truth (al‑haqq)!  We do not cry out according to base passion, nor hath a single letter of this Book [the Qayyūm al‑Asma]  been sent down outside of the permission of God, the True One. Fear God and doubt not the Command of God (amr Allāh).  The mystery (sirr)  of this Gate (al‑bāb) is hidden under the `amā'  of the line (`amā' al‑saṭr)  and inscribed above the veil of mystery (hijāb al‑sirr)  by the Hand of God, the Lord of both the mystery  (al‑sirr)  and the line (satr).  God, verily, created around this Gate (al‑bāb) oceans from the [celestial] Water tinged crimson with the oil of existence (al-duhn al‑wujūd)  and vitalised through the animating power of the desired fruit (al‑th`amarat al‑maqsūd). For it God decreed arks of ruby, tender (al‑raṭb,  or [refreshingly] cool), crimson‑coloured, wherein none shall ride save the people of splendour (ahl al‑bahā')..  Therein the angels of `amā' (malā'ikat al-`amā) bear up the Throne of God (`arsh Allāh)  though the eight logoi (fī al‑anfus al‑thamīn;  cf. Qur'ān 69:17)" ( QA. 57 (LVII. EGB fol. 97a. For a less literal translation see Taherzadeh SWB: 55‑6).

What, in this context is meant by the `amā' al-saṭr  is not clear. It may, as Taherzadeh's translation indicates, mean that the mystery of the Bāb is concealed beneath the verses of the QA. -- Taherzadeh translates (somewhat loosely) mastur taht `amā' al‑saṭr, "shrouded in the mystic utterances of his writ" (SWB:57). It seems to me to be more likely however, that the Bāb is teaching that the `mystery of the Gate' (his own office) is ratified by God by being inscribed both in the realm of origination ‑‑ beneath the `amā'  -- saṭr  and in the world of Divinity itself ‑‑ above the ḥijāb al‑sirr.  The expressions `amā' al‑satr  (here perhaps, "cloud of the line") and ḥijāb al‑sirr  ("veil of the mystery") are probably rooted in speculations surrounding the orthography of the letter al‑bā  (    ) seen as symbolic of the levels of Being and the `veil' or `cloud' (the     of     ) separating the "world of the Godhead" and the "world of creation": the former being above the      and the latter beneath it and symbolised by the dot or `point' which, in Bābī‑Bahā'ī scripture, is the locus of Being.

In the second part of the pericope translated above the Bāb teaches that enlivening and crimson oceans originating in the uppermost celestial Water surround his archetypal being in the exalted heavenly world. On these oceans none save the people of splendour (ahl al‑bahā') ride in specially created arks (or `ships'). It is the "angels of `amā'",  the denizens of the uppermost heavenly realm, that bear up the Throne of God (see Qur'ān 69:17) through their eight inner essences (al‑nufūs).

In a fairly large number of Bahā'u'llāh's writings the ahl al‑bahā' are understood to mean his followers. References to them in the QA and other writings of the Bāb are interpreted in a prophetic and symbolic way. See for example, untitled letter of Khadim-Allāh / Bahā'u'llāh in Athār‑i Qalam‑i A`lā  vol.6 p. 77 and the untitled commentary of AB* on some verses of the QA in Ishraq Khāvārī (ed.) Mā'ida 9: 48ff.

In the LVIIIth sura of the QA the Bāb exhorts the ahl al`amā'  to remain steadfast upon "this upright trace between the two traces" (hadha al‑khaṭṭ al‑qā'im bayn al‑khaṭṭayn=  the Alif   [= the `Straight Path' and centre of guidance] between the two    of    ?) that God might enable them to drink from the "Fountain of Manifestation" (`ayn al-ẓuhūr).  (QA. LVIII. fol. 98b‑99a. cf. the translation of Habib Taherzadeh in SWB:58. (here ahl al‑`amā' is translated "people of the Kingdom").

Mention is made, in the context of the imminent fulfilment of eschatological events mentioned in the Qur'ān, three suras later, of all being dumbfounded at the sight of "the Dhikr  in amā'"  (al‑dhikr fī al-`amā') (QA.  60 [LX.] EGB  fo]. lOOb.) The implication appears to be that the Hidden Imam will appear from the realm of `amā' or come in/on a "cloud" (`amā').

An interesting rewrite of Qur'ān 7:48f is contained in the Surah 67 (LXVII) sūra of the QA:

 "And We, verily, preserved [certain exalted] men (rijālan)  upon the [heavenly] Heights (al‑a`rāf)  who all know the [ungodly] people (al‑nās)  from their marks (bi‑simāhum).  And We decreed for [these] men an elevation [such that] the people [of the lower realm ‑‑ or hell?] did not known them from their [particular] marks (bi‑simahum). And they, upon the couch of `amā'  (sarīr al‑`amā')  shall observe [or distinguish] the [lower] people from their marks (bi‑simāhum )..  And We, when We entered the [region of hell] Fire, its inhabitants said: `O inhabitants of the Garden [in Paradise]! Pour down a drop of water upon us a dewdrop (marshhatan)  sprinkled down (marshuhan)  from that [Heavenly] Ocean. (QA. LXVII. fol. 117a.)

 Here the "men of the Heights" (rijāl al‑a`rāf)  are understood as heavenly beings who are able to recognise those beneath them on account of their distinguishing "marks". They, it appears (the translation is tentative) sit upon the "couch of `amā'  (sarīr al-amā')  and are requested to sprinkle down heavenly water by the inhabitants of the Fire of hell. Worth noting in the light of the opening line of Bahā'u'llāh's Rashḥ‑i `amā'  (see below) is the use here (as elsewhere in the Bāb's writings) of derivities of R-SH-Ḥ  in the context of the mention of `amā'

While in the verses translated above there is mention of the "couch of `amā'"  the expression "`amā'  of the throne"  (`amā'  al‑`arsh)  occurs in the LXIIst sūra of the QA. In the course of an exegetical rewrite of Qur'ān 9:109 the Bāb states:

"..Thou, verily, art, in the Mother Book (umm al‑kitāb)  the First Mosque (awwāl masjid)  with its foundations in the `amā'  of the Throne (`amā' al‑`arsh)  based on pure piety towards God, the Exalted. . " [22]

God is, furthermore, identified as the "Lord of the Throne and al‑`amā'"  (rabb al‑`arsh wa'l‑`amā')  in the LXXVIth sūra of the QA. (QA. LXXVI. fol. 133a.)

The sūrat al‑kahf  of the QA (LXXIII) contains, among other things, some extremely interesting expository rewrites of verses within its Qur'anic counterpart (Q. sūra 18). The term `amā'   occurs within the Bāb's rewrite of Qur'an 18:17:

"O Companions of the Cave! Did you not gaze toward the Sun when it rose up declining towards the Cave of your hearts toward the right‑hand side of the [Sinaitic] Fire wich crieth out from God, no God is there save Him?.. And when it [the Sun] set in the Word (al‑kalām)  [did] it [not] attract you through the mystery of power (bi‑sirr al‑qudrat)  unto the dawning‑place of the heart (matla` al‑fu'ād) [?]. And did it [the Sun] not turn away from you in the direction of al-`amā'  [or possibly `in the essence of `amā'; dhat al‑`amā'   while you were, in very truth, established within the spacious chamber of the Point (fajwat al‑nuqtat) which sprinkleth down before the Gate (al‑bāb)"  (QA. LXIII. fol. 128a.)

This passage is obviously extremely obscure and cannot be commented on in detail. Some light is thrown on the meaning in view of the fact that the Bāb had, in the paragraphs preceding this rewrite , identified himself with the "Cave" (kahf).  Its "companions" are the 7 letters of (apparently) his own name. [23]  He also taught that the episode of the sleepers in the Cave has to do with the coming to faith (so it seems) of the "forerunners" (sabiqūn=  the Bāb's first disciples). The "Sun" may be symbolic of the reality of the Dhikr or the locus of the light of the Bāb himself. Perhaps the rising of the "Sun" represents the disclosure of the Bāb's claims which attracted the persons or "hearts" of his first disciples. Its setting "in the Word" could be understood to signify the Bāb's revealing verses which also attracted the first disciples to him.That this "Sun" turned away from the companions of the Cave "in the direction of `amā'"'  (?) may be indicative of the Bāb's intimate relationship with the Hidden Imam who (cf. below) exists in the region of `amā'  (?). [24]



To be completed 2020.