Qā'imiyya - The Letter to Mullā Shaykh AIī Turshīzī entitled `Aẓīm (d. Tehran 1852)

Commencement of the Tablet to Turshizi in the Handwriting of the Bab.

Opening section as printed in Mazandarani, K. Zuhur al-Haqq III: 164f.

The Confirmation of Messianic Qā'imiyya:

A Letter or Scriptural Tablet of the Bab to Mullā Shaykh AIī Turshīzī entitled `Aẓīm (d. Tehran 1852).

Introduction and translation Stephen Lambden UC Merced, 2019.

In progress - last updated  01-11-2019 -this remains a beta translation under ongong correction.

This important, brief letter or Tablet of the Bab, was perhaps addressed in 1847 or early 1848 to the prominent Khurasānī Shaykhī and Bābī, Mullā Shaykh AIī Turshīzī entitled `Aẓīm (d. Tehran 1852). Therein the Bāb selects this prominent follower to make more generally known his claim to Qā'imiyya, to being the Shī`ī Islamic messiah, the Qā'im (Ariser), otherwise known as the Mahdi (Rightly Guided One), 12th Imam (son of Hasan al-`Askari the 11th Imam d. 260/874), Sahib al-Zaman (Lord of the Age or Final Era) and more besides. The messianic Arabic-Persian term Qā'im is an abbreviation of slightly longer descriptive epithets including, Qā'im Al Muhammad (the One who will arise of the family/progeny of Muhammad, d. 632 CE);  al-Qā'im bi'l-Haqq (the One who will arise with the Truth/with the permission of the True One / God), Qā'im bi'l-Sayf (the One who will arise with the Sword for eschatological holy war). Thousands of Imami Shi`i tradition spell out the name, age, nature, personality, mission and purpose of the expected Qā'im who was and is believed by Shi`i Muslims to have been in occultation (ghaybat - from a little after  260 AH = 873-4 CE). Tradition has it that he was the son of Hasan al-Askari (the 11th Imam) and his alleged wife Narjis (Narcissus, a slave-girl and alleged Byzantine princess), or Sarqil  in Samarra (in Iraq). He is thought to have been born at some time in the 250s AH or the late 860s or early 870s. He disappeared as a child and entered two successive periods of occultation or existence is the heavenly world(s); the (Per.) ghaybat-i sughra, the "lesser occultation" (c. 875-945 = about 70 years) during which communication with agents, representatives or with four earthly, human representative known as  gates abwab (sing. bab) and the ghaybat-i kubra (greater occultation, 945 -  today during which communication was largely impossible. For Babis and Baha'is this occultation ended symbolically and literally in  1260/1844  = 1000 years after the initial occultation of worldly withdrawal). From 1260/1844 the claims of the Bab presuppose his being the expected Qa'im (Qa'im al-muntazar) though this was not initially  realized by all or made public. It took several years before the Bab considered it safe for his messianic then theophanic claims to become more of an open secret. A messianic secret was upheld for several years (1844-1847). AIī Turshīzī, `Aẓīm was among the first to be specifically designated to make this known as is indicated in this letter reproduced and translated here which perhaps dates to about 3 years after the more or less secret declaration before the Shaykhi initiate, Mulla Husayn Bushru'i (d.1849), the first of the eighteen Huruf al-hayy  (hayy= abjad 18) or `Letters of the Living'.

It is also important to note here that the Letter of the Bab to Mullā Shaykh AIī Turshīzī also confirms that the Bab was the expected Mahdi (The Rightly Guided One) whose advent is predicted is numerous Sunni and Shi`i traditions. Several Shi`i traditions identify the Qa'im and the Mahdi and the Bab does the same in the sense that he claims to be  the Qa'im who is the Mahdi ....

The text of this Arabic scriptural Tablet is found in various mss. and is printed, for example, in the following sources:

  • In facsimilie in  [Anon] Qismati az alwāḥ-i khatt-i Nuqta-yi Ula va  Sayyid Husayn Khatib [Yazdi]. Also Reproduced in MacEoin Sources (end pages).PDf. Bab-Turshizi-Qaimiyya.pdf
  • Cited Hajji Mirza Jani Kashani. Kitab-i Nuqtat al-kaf, 209.

Printed in Fadil-i Mazandarani, Mirza AsadAllah (d.1957),

  • Kitab-i Zuhur al-Haqq III:164-6. PDf.
  • Kitab-i Zuhur al-Haqq. 2nd ed. III: 132-3. PDf.

Scriptural Tablet of the Bab to Mullā Shaykh AIī Turshīzī, `Aẓīm.

Lambden Beta Translation

God is the Most Pure (Allah athar)

O Creatures of God! Ye all should recite, then come to faith, then find certitude!

He is the Most Elevated (al-a`la)!

 Bismillah al-amna` al-aqdas.

In the Name of God, the Most Inaccessable, the Most Holy.

God testifieth that He, no God is there except Him. Unto Him belong the Creation and the Command. He giveth Life and He causeth to die then He causeth to die and He giveth Life. He is indeed One Living (al-hayy) who dieth not. In His grasp is the Kingdom of Everything (malakut kulli shay'). He createth whatsoever He willeth by virtue of His Command (amr) for He is indeed One Powerful over All things (kull shay' qadir an).

O `Alī [Turshīzī = `Aẓīm]!

We indeed chose thee at Our Divine Command and made thee to be an Angel [Messenger] (malakan) crying out at the behest of the Qā’im, that he [the Bab = the Qa'im], verily, with the permission of his Lord, is now made manifest. Such is of the bounty of God (fadl Allah) unto thee and unto the people, perchance they might be thankful.

O `Alī [Turshīzī = `Aẓīm]!

I, I am indeed the [Theophanic/Sinaitic] Fire of God (nar Allah) which God made to appear on the Day of Judgement (yawm al-qiyamat). On this account were all raised up, were resurrected, were gathered together, were presented for judgment then enabled to enter Paradise (al-jannat). Say: Those persons were such as entered the Bab (the Gate) prostrating (sajjad an)! 

Indeed! `By the Lord of the heavens, the Lord of the earth and the Lord of all the worlds!' Since God made their "Fire"  (nar = 251) to blaze according to the [numerical value of the] word  Bab (= 5  thus+ 5), it was transformed into "Light" (256 : abjad 251 "fire" + 5 = 256 abjad "light"). And such persons became aware that the Qa'im [as the Bab] was he whose Day all were expecting  and about whom all were promised. We showed patience on the Day of Resurrection for no less than 50,000 years [cf. Qur'an 70:4]. This such that everything could be properly tested (yumahhisu ; cf. Q. 3:141, 154) until there remained naught save the Face of thy Lord (see Q. 28:88), the One Possessed of Might and Glory (dhu'l-`izzat wa'l-jalal). We do not testify to the reality of the spirit of faith (ruh ayman) on this Day [of Resurrection], save as accords with the  numerical value of "Face" (al-wajh = abjad 6+3+5 = 14. cf. the last letter of wajh = h = 5)! Of this We are indeed perfectly aware!

The first of such as were engaged in mercantile activity (ba`'i) like myself, was Muhammad, the Messenger of God then [Imam] `Ali [ibn `Abi Talib] and then such [Imams] as gave testimony (al-shuhada') after him. And then the [four] gates of guidance (abwab al-huda) and [not forgetting] such as for whom God decreed this bounty (al-fadl) [of mercantile activity] among the prophets (al-nabiyyin) and the righteous ones (al-sadiqin) as well as those who gave testimony (al-shuhada') and such as believed in God and were certain about His verses even though they were not directly informed. Yet, when God testified before them, despite the fact that they had entered into the Fire of God (nar Allah) within which all were put to the test, did God raise them up from the mausoleums of their own selves (maraqid anfusihim) and recreated them after the likeness of how He had created them the first time. He indeed hath ever been Powerful over all things (kull shay'). 

Say: Since God had sent down aforetime verses in the Archetypal [Mother] Book [of Destiny] (umm al-kitab), Muhammad was indeed created as was such as He willed. Likewise, God hath, in this Day, created whatsoever He willeth through His creative imperative command, "Be! And it is!" (kun fa-yakun; see Qur'an 3: 47, 59). Whomsoever he maketh manifest subsequent to this command, is assuredly the manifestation of Guidance, the advent of the Mahdi (zuhur mahdi) or the return (raja`) of Muhammad or indeed anyone among such as believe in God and His verses. These are such persons for as have a gnosis (`ilm) about the Day when God will facilitate My return along with whomsoever hath believed in me. Such is indeed the Day of Resurrection (yawn al-qiyama)!

Wherefore are all part of a New Creation (khalq jadid) for We, we indeed originated that [new] creation.  We did indeed enable persons  to return as promised by Us for We, we are indeed All-Powerful. And whoso is well-pleased after this [New Era] was among such as were well-pleased aforetime;  with respect that is, to all that they were religious about [in the past].

Wherefore  such persons were not permitted what We sent down for them aforetime in the Qur'an for We, we indeed did demand the abrogation (n-s-kh verbal form X) of that which you are already aware! We did indeed initiate a new, eschatological creation (nash'at al-akhira) for We raised aloft everything that the people were religious about. Say : The [New] Atmosphere (al-hawa') shall render you pure after the fashion that water (al-ma') had [previously] purified you.

O servants of God! Be ye thankful! Whomsoever after this [New Era] acts aright, God will enable him to attain to the position of being a hujjat [proof, testimony] of thy Lord [the Bab]. The there will not be anything capable of thwarting him. Now this [eschatological] Day  there are, as it were, those who were given the Book (al-kitab) aforetime, for there is not now for them any legal directive (hukm) [to obey, follow] except for such as enter into the religion of God (din Allah) [the Bab] and were numbered among the righteous [pure ones] (al-mukhlisin). And whoso [today] reciteth a verse from the Book (al-kitab = the Qur'an) or transmits a subsequent hadith (Islamic tradition) desiring to act in accordance therewith, these are indeed even as the likeness of such as were enabled by God, their Lord, to enter into the [new] Religion of the True One (din al-haqq) [the Bab]. He indeed hath ever been Powerful over all things.

Say : If all of the people should gather together deciding unnimously that they would produce the likeness of that Book (dhalik al-kitab) [the Qur'an]  they would never be able to carry this out, they would never be able to accomplish this, even if they were the most acomplsihed of all on earth. Wherefore do thou command all of the people that they gather togther and night and day recite the verse which We caused to be sent down at the commencement of the Book. This to the end that they be content  as befits the contentment  of their Lord as well as certain by God about the veracity of His verses. 

Say: It is yet the case that religion follows religion (al-din min ba`ad al-din) and all should believe in God and in His [ever flowing] verses. Thou should certainly render victorious the [new] religion of the True One ( fi din al-haqq) since thou art indeed rendered supremely powerful on its account.

Say: Thou shalt not proffer the couches (al-maqa'id) upon which thou perform worship but present thyselves for the assistance of God. This to the end that thou enable the [eschatological] victory of such as have certainly returned to the primordial life (al-hayat al-ula). Then embrace, with His permission, the True One [Truth] of God (haqq Allah) for He was ever All-Knowing with respect to All-things (bi-kulli shay').

Praised be unto Thee, O my God! I bear thou witness that We, we did not in any respect exceed the proper bounds in the First Book (al-kitab al-awwal) [the Qayyum al-asma'] for We sent down therein [the claim]. "Verily He, no God is there except I myself'! Wherefore fear ye God that every soul may be certain that therein it was made clear that there is nothing supplementary to God and his verses, any tradition (hadith an) in which the people should believe.   

Praised be unto Thee, O my God! Thou did indeed decree a 50, 000 year period for the Day of Resurrection (yawm al-qiyama)! Wherefore did We not alot hell-fire (al-nar) for whomsoever entered into the Gate (al-bab) thus becoming one luminous (nur an). This was a Mercy (rahmat) from before Thee for Thou art indeed One characterized by a stupendous Mercy (rahmat an `azim an).

Say: God is indeed the True One (al-haqq)! Whatsoever  is other than God is His creation. Before Him are all given to servitude (`abidun).

O creation of God! 

Verily He, no God is there except Him. I, I indeed [the Bab] am the first of the worshippers (`abidin).

  • Say : He is indeed Muhammad returned!
  • Say: He is assuredly the promised Mahdi (la-mahdi maw`ud) in the Archetypal-Mother Book (umm al-kitab)!
  • Say : He is the  Bearer of the Truth (sahib al-haqq) about whom all were promised!
  • Say: He is assuredly the Qa'im of the True One about whom all should be certain!

We indeed sent down this Book [letter, scriptural Tablet] as a Mercy (rahmat) from before Us unto all the worlds. This perchance anyone should mistakenly assert that God hath inadvertantly taught me about the advent of the Mahdi or the return of Muhammad along with such as are witnessess (al-shuhada') after him, then also the believers (al-mu'minin), implying that this is something untoward for those deemed among such as are reckoned [upright] in the [Divine] presence (mahdarin).

Say: God is My Lord! Assuredly One All-Sufficient and All-Knowing!