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The Bab : Tafsir ayat al-Nur ("The Commentary on the Light Verse" Q. 24:35)

The Tafsir ayat al-Nur ("The Commentary on the Light Verse" Q. 24:35) of the Bab

Stephen N. Lambden UC Merced.

Annotated Trans. In Progress Last Updated 22.12.2019.

The Qur'ānic Sūrat al-nūr ("The Sūrah of Light" Q. 24)  and  the  Commentary on the "Light Verse" (Q. 24:35).

 There exist at least seven writings of the Bāb that are, in one way or another, associated with various verses within the Qur'ānic Sūrat al-nūr ("The Sūra of Light" Q. 24) or with the "Light Verse" contained therein (Q. 24:35) from which the Sūrah derives its name. Of them item 21 in the Browne Collection mss F.21 (pp.155-171) held within the Cambridge University  has the heading Tafsīr mubāraka āyat al-nūr (`The Blessed Commentary  upon the Light Verse`). This Arabic text  is definitely expository of the "blessed" qur'ānic "Light verse"  unlike certain others listed by MacEoin  in his Sources (1992:198). A shorter work of the Bab -- mistakingly listed by MacEoin as Tafsīr āyat al-nūr -- is actually a reply to a question by an unnamed person  about three verses found in the Sūrat al-nūr ("The Sūra of Light" Q. 24)which is referred to as a sūrat al-nūrānī ("luminous Surah" = Q. 24); namely, Q. 24:36-38 which are cited after Q. 55:1-2 near the beginning of this work. This shorter work expository of verses in Q. 24 might be referred to as Tafsir ayāt sūrat al-nūr or "Commentary on three verses of the Sūrat al-nūr (Q. 24:36-38)

1 Mss listed by MacEoin are not all versions of the Tafsir ayat al-nur (see Sources App. One p.198 including: INBA 401C 134-137 INBA 5006C 345-357 INBA 6006C 77-78 INBA 6010C 485-488 INBMC 53: 75-77 INBMC 67 155-157. 

Complete Text from INBA ms. 6006C, pp. 77-78 and Browne Coll. Ms. F.21:155-171. PDf.



The Tafsir āyat al-nūr  (Commentary upon the "Light Verse" , Q. 24:35)  of the Bāb.

This work the Bāb opens with a double basmala  forumla, first the qur'anic norm followed by another expressive of the divine transcendence or  the apophatic theology so central to the writings of the Bab.  After several theologically oriented paragraphs ( I- ADD) reference is made to "one of the servants who desired to extract a wondrous fruit [= the Light verse] from Paradise (min al-janna[t] thamara badā`a) [the Q.] to the end that We [he = the Bāb] might make it a thing worthy [meritorious] (mustahaqqa), a  Proof (ḥaqqa) for  the denizens of the depth of Paradise" (li-ahl al-janna al-xxx) (unto thee?)."   etc. See below. In this work the Bāb, in the course of commenting on the "Light Verse", has occasion to mention the qur' ānic disconnected letters. There is a close relationship between the mystical senses of "Light" and "Fire" in both the Bāb and Bahā'u'llāh's commentaries on the "Light Verse".   A "Light" (nūr an) was necessary for a new mode of creation and eventually a letter "A" was manifest between two letter "B"s (= the Bāb ) "through which all the [other] letters (kull al-ḥurūf) were moved to speak; the denizens of the heavens and the earth [were moved] through his [he Bāb's] "Light" (nūr)... Promise him with that [Light] verse (Q. 24:35) of the Qur'ān when all that breathes in the night then and at day when it declines (?). The Bāb then states that God  quotes the whole of the Light verse... ( cf. INBMC 98:32-2).

 The Tafsir āyat al-nūr 

(Commentary upon the "Light Verse" , Q. 24:35)  of the Bāb.

Translation Stephen Lambden

(2005, Under revision and completion 2020.


 بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

بسم الله المتعالی المنيع

In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate

            In the Name of God, the Supremely Transcendent, the Inaccessible (al-mutā`alā al-manī`)!


[1] Praised be to God Who created all things through His Command and decreed the measure of all things through His Utterance (qawl), `Wherefore is He, verily, is the Ultimate Reality (al-ḥaqq)' by virue of which He created that which He created and originated that which He originated. [2] There is neither [contrary] volition within His Logos-Command (amr) nor rebelliousness effecting His power of determination (taqdīr).  [3] [Is it then] He [God], the One Towering  (qā'im) above every person with a knowledge of what he hath acquired [like unto others]? (cf. Q. 13:33a). [4] He is One Mighty over all things through His utteance, "Wherefore is He the Ultimately Real (al-haqq) for through Him He creates whatsoever He creates and originates whatsoever He originates. [5] There is neither [contrary] volition within His Logos-Command (amr) nor rebelliousness effecting His power of determination (taqdīr). [6] `Wherefore is He the Ultimate Reality (al-ḥaqq)'  by virue of which He created that which He created and originated that which He originated. [7] He cannot be visioned save through His Logos-Command (amr);  no  power (quwwat) is there save by virtue of His magnificence  (taqdīr)..... ADD 



So do I bear witness [unto Him] by virtue of what His Logos-Self (nafs) had witnessed before all things and after all things. [2] ...



 And I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and his Messenger. [2] He indeed raised him up in that primordial particle (al-dharr), a particle (dharr) through which He created the inmost hearts of all existing things (af'idat al-mumkināt) and through which he scattered abroad therein the spirits of existent realities (arwāḥ al-ka'ināt) and the ....



  وقد سئل عن ايه النور وسوره القدر فاما الثانی قد فسر باه فمن يرد فارجع اليها

واما الاول  فاعلم ان فرق النور والنار خمسه وهوالباب من يدخل فيه ليحكم الله عليه بما هو مستحقه

 "Aforetime hath it been asked about the  āyat al-nūr  (Light Verse = Q. 24:35) and the Sūrat al-qadr ("Sūra of Destiny [the Power/ Decree]" = Q. 97). As for the second, We have already expounded it [as thou art aware?] though We shall again return unto [an exposition of] it. So as for the first [topic = Q. 24:35], know thou that the difference between "Light" (al-nūr = abjad 256 [287) and "Fire" (al-nār = abjad = 251 [282]) is five which is [the equivalent abjad value of] the Bāb (2=B+1=A+2=B= 5) [the "Gate"]. Whoso entereth therein God shall assuredly decree for him what is meritorious (mustaḥaqqa).


        Know furthermore, that at the beginning of that [emergent Islamic] Cause (al-amr) the "Fire of God" (nār Allāh) dawned forth over the inmost hearts of all existing things (af'ida al-mawjūdāt). His Prophet Muhammad was thus made manifest, the foremost  of the creation of God in the kingdom of earth and heaven. This one is he who is assuredly the fivefold form (shakl al-khamsa) which, when the lines [template] of the five (khaā al-khams) were completed, there was manifested the six (al-sitta). He is the One Who is mentioned at the beginning of the Tafsīr Sūrat al-baqara (Commentary on Surah of the Cow Q. 2) in explanation of the Greatest Name (al-ism al-a`ẓam) relative to the commentary on the qur'anic disconnected letters (tafsīr ḥurūf muqaṭṭa`āt al-qur'āniyya). Wherefore dost thou [I] say --- Prior to [its being] that five (al-khamsa) [= "H" = Bāb] it was [nothing less than] the semblance of the fullness of the [letter] "W" [= abjad 6] (mithl ishbā` wāw) for it is the pure essence of the theophany (sirf al-ẓuhūr) and the Fire of the Hidden Depths (nūr al-ghuyūb); relative to the people (`ind al-nās) speech cannot encompass its form (haykal).   But thou.... 


 "He, verily, is the One Who sent down aforetime in the Qur'ān "Alif-Lām-Mīm." A covenant (`ahd) unto ye, O sons of Adam, that ye serve not Satan for he is for thee a manifest enemy.." .. When the earth of My Self was manifested I did not love that I should mention other than the Exalted Letters [expressions] (ḥurūf al-`aliyyīn) but [mere] allusion must suffice for the people of knowledge and testimony. Wherefore do I so testify! Say: After [as a result of] the Five [= Bāb] was the Fire (al-nār) realized. And Say: "God is the Light of the heavens and of the earth" [Q. 24:35a). And know that the completion of "Be! and it is" [= Q. ] (kun fa-yakūn) then there was realized through it (?) the number of the Four Gates (abwāb al-arba`ah) every one of whom was five which is the number of the gate (al-Bāb) [wherein] naught is seen except the number of the Fire (al-nār). So experience within thyself what We have instructed thee and render thanks ... for what We have inspired thee regarding the mysteries of God, may He be exalted and glorified. Thus do I instruct thee therein! So know thou that every single letter of this sanctified verse (al-āyah al-muqaddasah) is replete with oceans of generative reality [creativity] (abhur al-ibdā`) which floweth therein. But the allusion which its exegetes [people] have attained that operate on the exterior level are on but four levels.   [1] The first level is that of the Pillar of Fire (al-rukn al-nār), that is to say, the word [of Glorification] Subḥān Allāh (= "Glory [Praise] be to God"= the tasbīḥ). Its bearer [support] is denomination [alottment of Names] (al-musammā) relative to the Name Lordship on its exterior level (bi-ism al-rubūbiyya al-ẓahirihi). This is the mode of the origination (maqām ājād) on the part of God of Muhammad and `Alī as a single Light (nūr an wāḥid)...  




 وان فی السنه الاولی قد ظهر 

كشف سبحات الجلال من غير اشاره

In the first year was made manifest

"The uncovering of the splendors of the Divine Glory (subuḥāt al-jalāl) without any allusion thereto"

`It is the unveiling of the splendors of the Majestic One / vainglories of hybris (kashf subuḥāt al-jalāl)  without allusion/ any disclosure  (min ghayr ishāra)!' 


محو الموهوم، مع صحو المعلوم

Then "The obliteration of the fanciful and the  known".


هتك الستر،[ في غلبة السر]

ثم هتك الستر

Then "the removal of the veil".


  ثم جذب الاحديه لصفه التوحيد

Then "the attraction of the Divine Oneness through the nexus of the Divine Unity".


    ثم نور اشرق من صبح الازل علی هياكل التوحيد اثاره

نور يشرق من صبح الأزل فيلوح على هياكل التوحيد آثاره]

Then "a Light shone forth from the Dawn of Eternity its traces shimmering upon the Temples of the Divine Unity".


So when this [prophetic] schemata  realized its fifth [mode of fulfillment] a Light (nūr) encircled the Fire (al-nār) for its form was complete This in that its form is [realized at] five  (= the pentalpha) which is the human "image" [form] (ṣūrat al-insān) for his creation is not complete except there has transpired five years,  just as we sent thy [adult human]  "image" (form) to thee [after 5 yrs growth]. So should thou testify thereto.

See further :


Then know that all of that which God sent down in the Qur'ān regarding the Day of Resurrection (qiyamat) and the [eschatological] "Hour" hath been fulfilled in these years which before God are [reckoned] 50,000 years (cf. Q. 70:4). And the "Day of God" (yawm al-dīn)  hath indeed been realized and everything (al-kull) is  now this wondrous [new] creation, the realization of the [eschatological] "return" for it is the Barzakh (Ithmus) betwixt this world and the world of the hereafter  (al-dunyā wa'l-ākhira). [9] It [this "Day"] is [also] the commencement of the theophany of the Countenance of God (zuhūr ṭal`at Allāh) and the establishment of the reality of primordiality (ḥaqiqat al-awwaliyya) for whomsoever exists within the kingdom of genesis and termination. [10] So should thou testify thereto then know that the likeness of what I taught thee regarding the "Fire" ( al-nar) and the "Light" (al-nur) ...