Sayyid Kazim Rashtī - From the Sharh al-Qaṣīda al-Lāmiyya





Sayyid Kāzim Rashtī -  Some extracts from his Sharh al-Qaṣīda al-Lāmiyya

Trans. Stephen N. Lambden 1990s revised UC Merced 2019.

Under revision - last updated 29-04-2019.

On the Light Verse

Sayyid Kāzim al-Husayni al-Rashtī (d. 1259/ 1843) utilized the rich imagery of the Light verse and commented thereon in various of his numerous writings including his 1258/1842 Qasida al-lāmiyya ("Ode rhyming in the letter "L"; on an  original ode  of  `Abd al-Baqi Afandi al-Māwsuli, d. 1204/1789). In the course of commenting upon the exalted status of the seventh Imām, Imām Musā al-Kāzim (d.c. 183/799), the Sayyid several times quotes and comments upon Q. 24:35a. Imam Musā is referred to as a "Dawning-Point for the Light of wilāya ("Divine Intimacy") (nur walāya), one positioned or stationed before the theophany of the Sun of Prophethood [= Muhammad] (wāqif li-zuhur shams al-nubuwwah). A quotation [from al-Kāzim] is then cited to the effect that the Supernal Light (al-nur) is [both] the Divine Radiance (al-diyā') and the Divine Splendour [Beauty] (al-bahā').

Sayyid Kāzim  next cites the first clause of the "Light verse" -- "God is the Light of the heavens and of the earth" (Q. 24:35a) and comments that the "Light" (al-nur) which is associated with "the Name" (al-ism), is in reality, the very Causitive Reality (al-`ilyā [`ulliya]) for :

outwardly it is the Cause which is effective through the Divinity (bi'l-uluhiyya)  It is the Greatest, Greatest Name" (al-ism al-a`zam al-a`zam). He saith -- glorified be He -- "God is the Light of the heavens and of the earth" (Q. 24:35a)  and the Light relateth to the Name which is the Cause [Causitive Reality]; outwardly it is the Cause by virtue of the [Imamocentric] wilāya ("Intimacy Friendship, Custodianship-Guardianship"). It is the Greatest, Greatest Name. It is the Name  through which God created the heavens and the earth. By means of it He created the  mountains  of the created realms (jabalāt al-khalā'iq) whereby also He created the jinn, and human beings.

 And it is the First Light (al-nur al-awwal) which hath the First Name and the Elevated, Primordial Reality (al-ism al-awwal wa'l-haqiqah al-`aliyā). And He said, glorified be He, "Praise be unto God Who created the heavens and appointed the darknesses [shadows] and the light" (Q. 6:1a). And this "Light" (al -nur) is constitutive of that "Light" (al-nur) and its effect [trace] (ātharihi) and its created reality (makhluq). It [Q,6:1a] hath the Name of "the Light (al-nur) being the secondary Reality (al-haqiqa al-thāniyya) on the level of all enduringness (fi al-rutba[t] al-baqiyya); the Radiant Splendour in terms of Luminosity (al-diyā' `alā al-munir) and the Foundation and Cause (al-asl wa'l-`ilah). Such is expressed in His saying, --exalted be He -- "He made the Sun [to be] al-diyā' ("a Radiance") and the moon a light (nur).." (= Q.10:5a). So the Radiance (al-diyā') is the luminosity (al-munir) for this is an attribute of the luminous Sun (al-shams al-munir). The "Light" (al-nur) is a derivitive aspect (?) just as is the state of the [radiance of the] Moon  ...

Now as for the Splendour (al-sanā') it is synonymous with the Radiance (al-diyā') and the  Beauteous-Glory (al-bahā')  and the Light (al-nur)... Our Lord and Master Abi `Abd Allāh, Ja`far ibn Muhammad al-Sādiq said... in the Tafsir on the basmala, that  the [letter] "B" (al-bā') is Bahā'-Allāh and the "S" (al-sin) is Sanā'-Allāh ("The Splendour of God"). Thus doth the bahā' have precedence over [preceed] the sanā' ("The Splendour"). We are thus taught that the sanā' ("The Splendour") is a [subsiduary] aspect (al-sanā' furu`) since the bahā' is foundational (al-bahā' asl). It is thus the case that the al-bahā' has the sense of the al-diyā' (" the radiance") and the  sanā' ("The splendour") has the sense of the Light (al-nur)... and it [bahā'] is His Messenger (rasul) and Musā son of Ja`far, Mighty Trees (dawat) of the divine, primordial Olive Tree (al-shajarat al-awwaliyya al-ilāhhiyya al-zaytuniyya) which is neither of the East nor of the West. And that Tree (al-sharajah)  is the Tree of Exterior Prophethood (sharajah al-nubuwwah al-zāhira) expressive of wilāya ("Imamocentric Intimacy") (fi'l-wilāya) and it is the Muhammadan Reality (al-haqiqat al-Muhammadiyya)... The Great Shaykh [= Shaykh Muhyi al-Din ibn al-`Arabi] in the Futuhāt [al-Makkiyya]  that the Muhammadan Presence (al-hadrat al-muhammadaniyya) is the most proximate [to God] of the presences approaching God (aqrab al-hadrāt ilā Allāh)..."  (Sayyid Kāim, al-Qaida, 000 [unpaginated]) 


The phrase qubbat al-zamān ("dome of time").

Stephen Lambden 1980s - revision in progress 2018.

The phrase qubbat a/-zamān ("dome of time") occurs at various points in Bābi amd Bahā'i scripture. It has its background in lslamic/ Shaykhi literatures. At one point in Sharh al-Qasida al-lāmiyya ("Commentary on the Ode Rhyming in the Letter 'L") Sayyid Kāzim Rashti (d. 1259/ 1843) writes :

Then here is an ultimate done (qubbat ukhra) which is the dome (qubba) of Bala'yān ibn Jūr. It is also named the dome of time (qubbat al-zamān). For this dome (qubba) there is both an exterior dimension (zāhir) and an interior dimansion (bātin). With respect to its exterior dimension (zāhir), I relate on the authority of my master, my Sayyid, my Shaykh, my teachar, my helper and my support [= Shaykh Ahmad al-Ahsā'i] - may God elevate his station -- 'And He raised up in the two Abodes (dārayn; dār al-baqā' [= 'the abode of parmanent abiding', Paradise) and dār al-bawār, [= 'the abode of perdltion, Hell]) [which are] His ensigns ('standards', alām), namely Bala'yān ibn Jūr a sage (hakīm) among tha perfect sages possessed of an extendad garden ('world' ?) in knowledge (reading, dhū al-bāgh tawīl fī'l-'ilm) and one constant in certitude (rasūkh fī'l-yaqīn).

Now Noah was in a covenant relating to the Prophet of God[= Muhammad] - peace be upon him. Thus, when he heard about the flood (al-tūfān), that Noah cried out unto his people and that God promised him that He would destroy them in the flood (al-tūfān), the Sovereign [= Noah?] (al-sultān) said, 'What is the stratagem ('deceptive plot', xilat). Then he said, 'I, verily, am the Son of the Dome (ibn al-qubba) through the stellar observations (al-a~ād) and the divine prescriptions ('incantations', al-'zā'im) and its decrees (al-ahkām) through the names (bi'l-asmā) and the spiritual ones (al-ruhāniyyāt) which are compounded between the planets [angels] (amzaj bayn al-'ulwiyyan) and things terrestrial (al-sutiyāt).

And He so disposed that all-encompassing dome (al-qubba al-muxxxx ītat) relative to the solid,
physical city [21st mansion of the moon / starless zone] (bi'l-balda tartīb an ŗabī'ī an) that the flood (al-tūfān) did not enter therein such that the city (al-balda) was unharmed by the innundations (al-gharqa) ...

God, exalted be He, did not prevent  Bala'yān ibn Jūr  from imposing that dome (al-qubba) upon tha city to the end that it would be unharrnad by the innundations (al-gharqa) for He, exalted be He, may be reckoned to have desired that He should enable them to see His wisdom (hikma) which He caused to be deposited in the realities of things (haqā'iq al-ashyā')... So He preserved that city (al-baida) from innundations (al-gharqa) by means of that dome (al-qubba).

And He universalized the flood (al-tūfān) and engulfed the city and the servants and none were
secure save the denizens of tha Ark (ahl al-safīnat) and the mighty House (of the Prophet, al-bayt al-mu'azam) and the enclosure secure (al-haram al-amin) which is Mecca. Thus did God name it the House Delivered [Ancient] (al-bayt al-'atiq) ... Thus, whan that city (al-baida) was delivered God, exalted be He, filled it with fear on account of the eyes of the creatures  just as He did to the Paradise of 'Ad . .. . and thare are matters which we are not anguished to mention regarding the discourse.

And Thou designated that dome, the dome of time (qubbat al-zamān) on account of its eternity (baqā'). It was made to persist simultaneously with time (ma 'a zamān). So it is not ....


The Geography of the Celestial Regions.

The Sh-Qaṣīda of Rashtī is well-know for its abstruse, highly theosophical depiction of the levels (maḥalla), regions and inhabitants of a spiritual universe, pictured as a celestial city (al-madīna). The primary locale (al-maḥalla al-ūlā) of this "City" is the level of the divine Unity" (maḥalla al-tawḥīd) with its category of uniqueness and singularity. The second level is that of the locus of the Greatest Name (al-maḥalla al-ism al-a`ẓam) also named that of the most ancient Light ( al-nūr al-aqdam), the halting point of the world (waqf al-`ālam), the Interiority of the Mystic Meaning (al-sirr al-ma`anī) and the secret ornamented cipher (al-ramz al-munannam ? text unclear) (Sh-Qaṣīda, 119-120). This illustrates the elevated status that the "mightiest Name of God" had for Sayyid Kāẓim.

Different regions of this multi-faceted celestial, cosmic "City" according to the  Sh. al-qaṣida are overseen by various named human or superhuman creatures who often have complicated Arabic names. The Sh. al-qaṣida appears to incorporate Islamicate motifs rooted in Islami-biblical traditions. The angelological names allotted certain of the masters of the "City" are often similar to those found in al-Būnī’s Shams al-ma`ārif. They sometimes terminate with the Arabic transliteration of the suffix  (`el = Ar. XX ) indicative of the Hebrew name of God (cf. the biblical and qur’ānic Jibrā’il = Gabriel, the `Might of God’).

Other "lords" of the celestial city have names that are both abstruse and appear to be esoteric neologisms. Level 119 has as its nexus (`knot’, `aqd) the "lord of the verdant and (ṣāḥibihi arḍ khuḍrā’) in the ultimacy of beauty (nihāyat al-bahā’) whose name consists of the two words H-A-Ṭ- L-H-D and H-M-A Ḥ-Ḥ [-Ḥ] Celestial level 144 is described as a nexus 223 the overseer of which is "a man possessed of a mighty key (miftāḥ al-`aẓīm), his name being Shama`shā’il (? pointing uncertain). Finally, celestial level 170 is governed by a humanoid being ("man", insān) who sculpts iron and whose name is a conjunction of the three words ___ (Karāsiyy, lit. = `chairs, seats’) ___ Thūṭā (?) and       (Ḍ- Ḥ-Ḥ-Ḥ). [215]

Aside from these highly imaginative angelic and associated name ciphers in the Sharḥ al-Qaṣīda, Rashtī several times refers to the al-ism al-a`ẓam, the mightiest Name of God. There are occurrences of this Name modified by several of the superlatives a`ẓam as it is in certain supplications of the (Twelver) Imams recorded in Majlisī’s Persian Zād al-ma`ād (Knapsack for the Eschaton) In one instance Sayyid Kāẓim makes reference to "the Point of Origination" (al-nuqṭat al-intidā’iyya) which God summoned through his Greatest, Mightiest, Greatest Name (bi-ismihi al-a`ẓam al-a`ẓam al-a`ẓam). Later in the Sh-Qāṣida Rashtī again refers to this thrice supremely Great Name of God (Rashtī, Sh. Qaṣīda, 34, 90). In both his Kh-Ṭutunjiyya and in a specific treatise he comments upon one of the graphical forms of the Mightiest Name of God.