Lawh-i Ḥūr-i `Ujāb (The Tablet of the Wondrous Maiden) Introduction

Lawh-i Ḥūr-i `Ujāb (The Tablet of the Wondrous Maiden).

Notes Mss. Texts, Introduction and Notes or Commentary.

Stephen Lambden, UC Merced.

In Progress - Last updated 03-07-2020.

Opening Line of the Arabic Commencement

The text of the five to seven  page (more in full translation) rhythmic poetical, initially Arabic (30+ lines ) then several page interpretive Persian prose  text (often misplaced?), of the Lawh-i Ḥūr-i `Ujāb (The Tablet of the Wondrous Maiden) commences as above.  It may be that other preliminary Arabic huwa X theological heading,  neo-basmala or lines of theological commencement (possibly with other preliminary materials also) are lost (? though they might perhaps be found, in early mss). None of the mss or printed texts consulted have anything preceeding the qad tala` jamal al-quds though such a commencement seems unusual as does the frequent misplacing or absence of the Persian second half - I assume for now that this exists and is authentic (see below on Pt,II). This scriptural Tablet of Baha'u'llah has been little studied and commented upon.

The exact date of  the  composition and sitz im lebem or circumstances of revelation of the Lawh-i Ḥūr-i `Ujāb appear to be unknown. Yet  it is usually alotted to the  late Baghdad (Iraq) period of the early 1860s. This Tablet was most likely written or revealed during or most likely after the Kurdistan years (1854-6) not too long before the declaration of Baha'u'llah in May 1863. Aside from several quite early manuscripts (see below), it has been partially published (Arabic only !) in several 20th century Baha'i compilations of the writings of Baha'u'llah; including in the well-known devotional compilation entitled  Adʻīya-i ḥaḍrat-i maḥbūb (see below) and in the `Abd al-Hamid Ishraq Khavari, (ed. and comp.) volume Risāla-yi ayyām-i tis`ah (Treatise Regarding the Nine [Babi-Baha'i] Holy Days), [Tehran] Mu'assasat-i Milli-yi Matbu`at-i Amri, 5th edition / printing, 129 Badi`/1973.

It was only a few years ago in 2016 that the Arabic text was first published in an authorized  English translation made at the Baha'i World Centre in Haifa Israel (see below) though a few earlier (partial) translations were made. Its Persian second part is an expository re-revelation of the Arabic throwing  considerable light upon and developing or disclosing its meaning. The Persian half opens with reference to Baha'u'llah as the "One who Unfolds the spirit (al-ruh) in the bodies of the words (ajsad al-kalimat) [of the Arabic of this scriptural Tablet]". This in the Light of his being  "an Impenetrable Spirit of Holiness (bi-ruh quds mani`)",  presumably as an embodiment of the astonishing beauty of the Ḥūr-i `Ujāb, "the Maid of Holiness".

Manuscripts, Printed Editions and Translations.

Select Manuscripts:

  • INBMC 36: 463-4.  Probably incorrectly dated 1280 AH - this year began on the 1st of Muharram 1280 = the 18th June 1863 and ended 7th June 1864 (31 Dhu'l-Hijjah). This early manuscript  which dates to a few years later than 1280 AH is  associated with a certain Jinab-i Jalal-i Nabili and includes both the Arabic original and an expository Persian recension re-revealed  by Baha'u'lah himself. Scanned from a photocopy obtained from the Balyuzi home in the 1980s. Text slightly enlarged.  PDf. L-Hur-i `Ujab INBMC 36.pdf
  • INBMC 36: 463-4. Another second PDf of the same (photocopied) ms : INBMC 36-463-4.pdf

This ms. (INBMC 36: 452-3) includes a (still often Arabized, cf. Pt.I) Persian recension which is also revealed by Baha'u'llah himself. It appears that the Arabic text is followed by an explanatory Persian version as, for example, was the case with such other Tablets of Baha'u'llah as the Lawḥ-i mallaḥ al-quds, the `Tablet of the Holy Mariner' (see Ma'ida-yi asmani IV: 335-339 [Arabic] + 339-341 [Persian]). The second Persian version of the Lawh-i Hur-i `Ujab, opens as follows, indicating that the Persian text includes a deep disclosure of the Arabic. Part II has a brief Arabic preface then the Persian expository text which is again fairly brief or just a few pages long. It commences:

""In My Name who, He is the One who Discloses (munfatiḥ) the Spirit (al-rūḥ) within the bodies of the [Arabic] words (ajsād al-kalimāt) by means of an Impenetrable Spirit of Holiness (bi-rūḥ quds mani`)!

Praised be to God who hath enabled the eyes of the hidden living creatures (ḥayawān-i ghayb) that are secreted away within the veils enveloping the Divine Mystery (ḥijabāt-i sirr-i ilāhi)  to be assisted (bi-ta'yid ast) for the Elevated Holy Spirit (ruḥ al-quds) hath flowed and streamed forth from the realities of the words (ḥaqā'iq-i kalimāt) ... (see further below for Lambden trans. and commentary).

INBMC 47: ? 245-9. This incomplete ms has pages repeated or `mirrored' duplicated. It may have been incorrectly photocopied. The Arabic is incomplete and the Persian no longer legible or present. See the following PDf with some preceding devotional paragraphs which may have nothing to do with the Hur-i `Ujab  :

INBMC XX -Add.

British Library Ms. Or. 15706 (unpaginated). Here the Arabic first part of the Lawh-i Ḥúr-i `Ujāb  is immediately followed by the Persian half of the Lawḥ-i mallāḥ al-quds, (the `Tablet of the Holy Mariner' (see Ma'ida-yi asmani IV: 335-339 [Arabic] + 339-341 [Persian]). After this comes the Persian Pt. II of the  Lawh-i Hur-i`Ujāb -- see below for the two known extant mss. of the Persian half of the Lawh-i Ḥúr-i `Ujāb. 

British Library Ms. Or. 15714 -not seen.

Printed Editions and Translations.

20th century.

  • Adʻīya-i ḥaḍrat-i maḥbūb... Cairo, Egypt, 76 BE/ 1920 or 21. 480 pages.
  • Adʻīya-i ḥaḍrat-i maḥbūb. Reprint, Mu`assat-i Milli-yi Matbu`at-i Amri [Tehran] np. nd.+ Reprint Pakistan 137 Badi` = 1981. The Lawh-i Hur-i `Ujab is printed here on pages 153-158. PDf. L-Hur-i `Ujab.pdf
  • Adʻīya-i ḥaḍrat-i maḥbūb : az munājāthā-i ṣabāḥ wa masāʻ wa aʻyād wa shifā wa ṣiyām wa amthāluhā. Reprint Germany- Hofheim-Langenhain : Baháʼí-Verlag, 1980. 480 pages. The Lawh-i Hur-i `Ujab is printed here on pages
  • Ahang-i Badi`  Baha'i Youth Magazine, 120 BE = 1963, A complitaion of the Baha'i Sacred Writings. This issue opens with a fully pointed text of the Arabic part of the Lawh-i Ḥúr-i `Ujāb. PDf. Ahang-i Badi` 120= 1963- Hur-i `Ujab.pdf

`Abd al-Hamid Ishraq Khavari, (ed and comp. )

  • Risala-yi Ayyam-i Tis`ah (Treatise Regarding the Nine [Babi-Baha'i] Holy Days) Mu'assat-i Milli-yi Matbu`at-i Amri, 5th edition/printing, 129 Badi`/1973. The Hur-i `Ujab Pt.1 in Arabic (only) is printed here on pages 251-254. 
  • PDf. Pointed text Ayyam-i tis`ah: 261-4 Hur-i `ujab.pdf   

21st century.

  • The authorized BWC Translation from `Days of Remembrance', Selections from the Writings of Baha'u'llah for Baha'i Holy Days. Haifa: Baha'i World Centre, 2016, No.12  pp. 58-66 (trans. reproduced below):
  • "Oceans of Lights" Website: Add details ...
  • Steven Phelps, `Loom of Reality' / `A Partial Inventory of the Works of the Central Figures of the Baha'i Faith' (Version - Feb. 8th 2020. Baha'u'llah page 65a).  .

Typed study text of the Arabic first part of the  Lawḥ-i Ḥūr-i `Ujāb  in PDf and Word format:

References, Summaries and Comments:

`Abd al-Ḥamid Ishrāq Khavārī' (d. Tehran, 1972)

  •  Ganj-i-shāyigān ("The Befitting Treasury"), Tehran: Mu'assat-i Milli-yi Matbu`at-i Amri, 124 BE/ 1968).  The Hūr-i `Ujab is unmentioned!

Adib Taherzadeh (b. Yazd 1921 - d. Haifa, Israel. 2000),

  • The Revelation of Baha'u'llah. Baghdad 1853-1863 vol.1 (Oxford: George Ronald, 1974; rev. 1974+1976. Several Reprints, 1978 p.218 ) contains the following very breif `summary' paragraphs with no mentioned of its Persian half :

"Ḥúr-i-'Ujab
"Another Tablet of Baha'u'llah's which was revealed in the same period is the Hür-i-`Ujab (The Wondrous Maiden). It is in Arabic and is similar to the two preceding Tablets, in that it conveys the same glad-tidings, is written in allegorical language and contains the symbolism of the 'Maid of Heaven'.

ln it Baha'u'llah alludes to the unveiling of His glorious station, asserts that the light of His countenance has been lifled upon men, and states that the outpouring of His Revelation has been so stupendous as to cause the pure in heart to be dumbfounded. He also denounces the perversity and blindness of the unfaithful among His companions. This is an allusion to Mlrza Yahya and his associates, who betrayed the Faith of God and caused Baha'u'llah much sorrow and pain" .

The Title and the Arabic and Persian word Ḥúr'.

The Qur'anic Arabic Ḥúr  is plural meaning  "maidens" though this or similar words are found in Persian literatures with  singular  meaning, e.g.  Houri or "Maid", Maiden, Damsel, etc. The first word of the (Persian) title Hur-i `Ujab  here حـور   namely Ḥúr is an item of Qur'anic vocabulary which is normally descriptive of  female companions of the blessed in paradise. The Qur'an thus several times refers to حـور  as  female consorts, companions or "maidens" of Paradise. In later Persian literatures, Ḥúr  sometimes had singular significance referring (loosely) to a single female figure, a "maid" or maiden of Paradise. With a long u/w vowel or consonant in the centre of the  Qur'anic Arabic -w-r,  hur is actually the plural of  حـورِيَّـة  = (sing.) ḥūriyya or حورِيّ‎ , = (sing.) ḥawra'   (a "maiden"), indicating one female figure. The singular of the plural حـور    is thus  حـورِيَّـة  = (sing.) ḥūriyya, aḥwar أحور or ḥawrā’ حوراء . In Persian poetry, as in many ofthe writings of Baha'u'llah, the word  حـور  ḥur is often used with  a singular meaning. It  indicates a celestial female figure or "maiden". The 18th century English rendering houri (pl. houris) derives from French via the Persian  huriyyat (cf. Ar. sing. ḥawrā’) and  also indicates a "maiden", "damsel" or a beautiful celestial female figure.

Translations.

20th century.

21st century.

The authorized BWC Translation from `Days of Remembrance', Selections from the Writings of Baha'u'llah for Baha'i Holy Days. Haifa: Baha'i World Centre, 2016, No.12  pp. 58-66 reads as follows. I have added select transliteration for the sake of clarification which will be taken up more fully in the commentary below. The transliteration will be based on the Arabic text printed in Ayyam-i tis`ah  (5th ed.) though possible or actual variant readings - leading to diverse or alternative transliterstion - will occasionally be explored in the notes of commentary below.

Ḥúr-i-‘Ujáb Pt. I the Arabic Scriptural Tablet.

– 12 –

 

Ḥúr-i-‘Ujáb

(Tablet of the Wondrous Maiden)

1

 قَدْ طَلَعَ جَمَالُ الْقُدْسِ عَنْ خَلْفِ الْحِجَابِ

The hallowed Beauty (jamal al-quds) shone resplendent from behind the veil (al-hijāb).

وَإِنَّ هَذَا لَشَيْءٌ عُجَابٌ

How wondrous a thing, How wondrous indeed! (la-shay' `ujāb).

2

وَانْصَعَقَتِ الأَرْوَاحُ مِنْ نَارِ الانْجِذَابِ 

And, lo, the flame of rapture (nar al-injidhab) caused all souls (arwah) to swoon away (insa`aqat).

وَإِنَّ هَذَا لأَمْرٌ عُجَابٌ

How wondrous is this, How wondrous indeed! (la-amr `ujāb).

3

ثُمَّ أَفَاقَتْ وَطَارَتْ إِلَى سُرَادِقِ الْقُدْسِ فِي عَرْشِ الْقِبَابِ

Rising up, they soared unto the blest pavilion (suradiq al-quds) ’neath the throne of heaven’s canopy (`arsh al-qibāb).

وَإِنَّ هَذَا لَسِرٌّ عُجَابٌ

How wondrous a mystery, how wondrous indeed! (la-sirr `ujāb).

4

قُلْ كَشَفَتْ حُورُ الْبَقَاءِ عَنْ وَجْهِهَا النِّقَابِ

Say: The Maiden of Eternity (hurr al-baqa'). unveiled Her face (wajh-ha al-niqāb)) —

وَتَعَالَى جَمَالُ بِدْعٍ عُجَابٌ

may her wondrous beauty (jamal bid` `ujāb) be exalted indeed!—

5

وَأَشْرَقَتْ أَنْوَارُ الْوَجْهِ مِنَ الأَرْضِ إِلَى السَّحَابِ

Shedding forth from earth to heaven its resplendent rays (anwār al-wajh)

وَإِنَّ هَذَا لَنُورٌ عُجَابٌ

How wondrous a light, how wondrous indeed! (la-nur `ujāb)

6

 وَرَمَتْ بِلِحاظِهَا رَمْيَ

A lightning glance She cast, as piercing as a shooting star (shihāb)—

وَإِنَّ هَذَا لَرَمْيٌ عُجَابٌ

how wondrous Her glance, how wondrous indeed!— (la-ramya `ujāb)

7

وَأَحْرَقَتْ بِنَارِ الْوَجْهِ كُلَّ الأَسْمَآءِ

A glance consuming every name ( al-asma') and every title (al-alqāb) in its flames (nar al-wajh)

وَإِنَّ هَذَا لَفِعْلٌ عُجَابٌ

How wondrous a feat, how wondrous indeed! (la-fi`l  `ujāb)

8

 وَنَظَرَتْ بِطَرْفِهَا إِلَى أَهْلِ الأَرْضِ

To the dwellers of the realm of dust (ahl al-ard wa'l-turāb) She turned Her gaze (tarf).

وَإِنَّ هَذَا لَطَرْفٌ عُجَابٌ

How wondrous Her gaze, how wondrous indeed! (la-tarf `ujāb)

9

إِذًا اهْتَزَّتْ هَيَاكِلُ الْوُجُودِ ثُمَّ غَابَ

And then did all creation (hayākil al-wujud) shake and pass away.

وَإِنَّ هَذَا لَمَوْتٌ عُجَابٌ

How astounding a death, how astounding indeed! (la-mawt `ujāb)

10

ثُمَّ ظَهَرَتْ مِنْهَا الشَّعْرَةُ السَّوْدَآءُ كَطِرَازِ الرُّوحِ فِي ظُلْمَةِ الْعِقَابِ

She then let fall a raven lock (al-sha`rat al-sawda'), an ornament of spirit in the darkest night (ka-tiraz al-ruh fi zulmat al-a`qāb)—

وَإِنَّ هَذَا لَلَوْنٌ عُجَابٌ

how wondrous a hue, how wondrous indeed!— ([la- kawn] lawn `ujāb)

11

 وَسَطَعَتْ مِنْهَا رَوَائِحُ الرُّوحِ وَالأَطْيَابِ

From which the fragrant breezes of the spirit (rawa'ih al-ruh wa'l-atyāb) were perceived.

وَإِنَّ هَذَا لَمِسْكٌ عُجَابٌ

How wondrous a scent, how wondrous indeed! (la-misk `ujāb)

12

بِيَدِهَا الْيُمْنَى الْخَمْرُ الْحَمْرَآءُ وَفِي الْيُسْرَى قِطْعَةٌ مِنَ الْكَبَابِ

In Her right hand She bore the ruby wine (al-khamr al-hamra') and in Her left a portion of the finest fare (qit`at min al-kabāb)

وَإِنَّ هَذَا لَفَضْلٌ عُجَابٌ

How wondrous a grace, how wondrous indeed! (la-fadl `ujāb)

13

وَكَفُّهَا بِدَمِ الْعُشَّاقِ مُحْمَرٌّ وَخَضَابٌ

With hands (kaff) encrimsoned (muhammara wa khidab) with Her ardent lovers’ blood— (dam al-`ushshāq)

وَخَضَابٌ وَإِنَّ هَذَا لأَمْرٌ عُجَابٌ

how wondrous is this, how wondrous indeed!— (la-amr  `ujāb)

14

وَأَدَارَتْ خَمْرَ الْحَيَوانِ بِأَبَارِيقَ وَأَكْوَابٍ

In cups and chalices (bi-abariq wa akwāb) She passed round the wine of life (khamr al-hayawan).

وَإِنَّ هَذَا لَكَوْثَرٌ عُجَابٌ

How wondrous a draught, how wondrous indeed! (la-kawthar  `ujāb),

15

 وَغَنَّتْ عَلَى اسْمِ الْحَبِيبِ بِعُودٍ

With harp and lute (`aud wa ribāb) She sang in praise of Her Beloved (ism al-habib).

وَإِنَّ هَذَا تَغَنٍّ عُجَابٌ

How wondrous a song, how wondrous indeed! ([la-] taghann  `ujāb),

16

إذًا ذَابَتِ الأَكْبَادُ مِنْ نَارٍ

Whereat the hearts were melted in consuming flames (nar wa'l-nihāb).

وَإِنَّ هَذَا لَعِشْقٌ عُجَابٌ

How wondrous a love, how wondrous indeed! (la-`ishq `ujāb),

17

وَأَعْطَتْ رِزْقَ الْجَمَالِ بِلا مِيزانٍ وَحِسَابٍ

Of Her sustaining beauty (rizq al-jamal) She bestowed a boundless share (bi-la mizan wa hisāb)—

وَإِنَّ هَذَا لَرِزْقٌ عُجَابٌ

how wondrous a share, how wondrous indeed!— (la-rizq `ujāb),

18

 فَسَلَّتْ سَيْفَ الْغَمْزِ عَلَى الرِّقَابِ

Then brought Her sword of charm (sayf al-ghams) upon Her lovers’ necks (`ala al-riqāb).

وَإِنَّ هَذَا لَضَرْبٌ عُجَابٌ

How wondrous a blow, how wondrous indeed! (la-darb `ujāb),

19

تَبَسَّمَتْ وَظَهَرَتْ لآلِئُ الأَنْيَابِ

Her pearl-like teeth did flash (la`la al-anyab), no sooner had She smiled.

وَإِنَّ هَذَا لُؤْلُؤٌ عُجَابٌ

How wondrous a pearl, how wondrous indeed! ([la] lu'lu' `ujāb),

20

إذًا صَاحَتْ أَفْئِدَةُ أُولِي الأَلْبَابِ

Whereat the hearts of them that know (af'idat ulu al-albab) cried out and wept.

وَإِنَّ هَذَا لَزُهْدٌ عُجَابٌ

How wondrous a piety, how wondrous indeed! (la-zuhd `ujāb),

21

وَأَعْرَضَ عَنْهَا كُلُّ مُتَكَبِّرٍ مُرْتَابٍ

But they that doubt and boast of self denied Her truth.

وَمَا هَذَا إِلاَّ مُعْرِضٌ عُجَابٌ

How astounding a denial, how astounding indeed! (mā hadha ilā mu`rid `ujāb).

22

فَلَمَّا سَمِعَتْ رَجَعَتْ إِلَى الْقَصْرِ بِحُزْنٍ وَإِنَابٍ

And, hearing this, in sorrow, She repaired to Her abode (al-qasr bi-huzn wa iyāb).

 وَإِنَّ هَذَا لَهَمٌّ عُجَابٌ

How astounding Her grief, how astounding indeed! (la-hamm `ujāb),

23

جَاءَت وَرَجَعَتْ وَتَعَالَى ذِهَابٌ وَإِيَابٌ

She returned from whence She came: How lofty were the steps She traced!

وَإِنَّ هَذَا لَحُكْمٌ عُجَابٌ

How astounding a decree, how astounding indeed! (la-hukm `ujāb),

24

وَضَجَّتْ فِي سِرِّهَا بِنِدَاءٍ يُفْنِي الْوُجُودَ

She cried a cry of anguish, as to reduce all things to naught.

وَإِنَّ هَذَا لَحُزْنٌ عُجَابٌ

How astounding Her woe, how astounding indeed! (la-huzn `ujāb),

25

وَفَتَحَتْ كَوْثَرَ الْفَمِ بِخِطَابٍ وَعِتَابٍ

And from Her lips there streamed these words of warning and rebuke—

وَإِنَّ هَذَا سَلْسَبِيلٌ عُجَابٌ

how astounding a stream, how astounding indeed!—  (la-salsabil `ujāb),

26

 وَقَالَتْ لِمَ تُنْكِرُونَنِي يَا أَهْلَ

“Why do ye gainsay Me, O people of the Book (ya ahl al-kitāb)?”

وَإِنَّ هَذَا لأَمْرٌ عُجَابٌ

How astounding is this, how astounding indeed! (la-amr `ujāb),

27

أَأَنْتُمْ أَهْلُ الْهُدَى وَهَلْ أَنْتُمُ الأَحْبَابُ

“Claim ye to be the guided (ahl al-huda) and the loved ones of the Lord (al-ahbāb)?” By God!

تَاللهِ هَذَا لَكَذِبٌ عُجَابٌ

How astounding a lie, how astounding indeed! (la-kadhb `ujāb),

28

وَقَالَتْ مَا نَرْجِعُ إِلَيْكُمْ يَا أَيُّهَا الأَصْحَابِ

“O my friends,” (ya ayyuhau al-ashab) She said, “We shall not come again,”—

وَإِنَّ هَذَا لَرَجْعٌ عُجَابٌ

how wondrous a return, how wondrous indeed!— (la-raj` `ujāb),

29

 وَنَسْتُرَ أَسْرَارَ اللهِ مِنَ الصَّحَائِفِ وَالْكِتَابِ

“But will conceal God’s secrets  (asrar Allah) in His Scriptures and His Books (min al-saha'if wa'l-kitab),”

وَإِنَّ هَذَا أَمْرٌ مِنْ عَزِيزٍ وَهَّابٍ

as bidden by One mighty and bounteous indeed! (wa inna hadha amr min `aziz wahhāb).

30

 وَلَنْ تَجِدُونِي إِلاَّ إِذَا ظَهَرَ الْمَوْعُودُ فِي يَوْمِ الإِيَابِ

“Nor shall ye find Me till the Promised One ( al-maw`ud) appear on Judgement Day (yawm al-iyāb).” By My life!

وَعَمْرِي إِنَّ هَذَا لَذُلٌّ عُجَابٌ

How astounding an abasement, how astounding indeed! (la-dhull `ujāb),

 

Notes and Comments on the Arabic Pt. I - Stephen Lambden 2020

Last uploaded 02-07-2020.

Some Notes on the Houris in the Qur'an, Hadith  and Islamic Tafsir (Commentary)

The Qur'an

There are references to ḥūr,  maidens or houris (always in the plural) in four different Surahs of the Qur'an:

[1] Qur'an, Surat al-Dukkan (The Surah of Smoke), 44:54 "we shall wed them to  bright eyed houris (pl. ḥūr `in):  "Wherefore shall We wed them [true believers] with black-eyed [companions] (bi-ḥūr `in), Maidens-Houris".

[2] Qur'an. Surat al-qamar (The Surah of the Moon), 52:20,

" they [God fearing believers] shall be reclining upon couches lined up and  We shall wed them to  bright-eyed companions, Maidens-Houris (ḥūr `in)".

[3] Qur'an, Surat al-Rahman (The Surah of the All-Merciful), 55:72

 Maidens-Houris (ḥūr): cloistered (maqsurat) in pavilions (al-khiyam) [shall be for the true believers].

[4] Qur'an. Surat al-Waqi`ah (The Surah of the Inevitable). 56: 22[-23]

"[22] And Maidens-Houris  wide-eyed (hur `in) [23] like pearls hidden within their shells (ka-amthal al-lu'lu al-maknun)

Though these Qur'anic texts hardly define what a houri is, it is clear from the context that they are female figures of pleasing or beautiful appearance. The Arabic triliteral root h-w-r from which hur (maidens) and huriyya (maiden) are derived  can apparently indicate  wide-eyed or black-eyed women with contrasting white complexion. The singular feminine adjective `in  meaning "black/bright-eyed"  following ḥūr, is often taken to mean somerthing like "wide-eyed with a deep black pupil" (Maher Jarrar, `Houri' in EQ 2: 456a). 

 

Select Hadith Text mentioning Houris

 

A few notes on the Islamic exegesis and theology.

The Maiden or Houri in Babi-Baha'i sacred writings.

 

 

In volume 3 of his Asrār al-Āthār  (The Mysteries of the Scriptural Writings) (128 BE/1972) the great Baha'i scholar  Muhammad Fadil-i Mazandarani includes a several page entry `Huriyya' (pp. 133-8 =  PDF. Huriyya = Asrar al-athar III-Huriyya.pdf ) In this entry there is a useful compilation of sacred texts a few of which may be cited, translated and occasionally commented upon here.

Add translations here

An extract from the  Surat al-bayan (The Surah of the Exposition) of Baha'u'llah which was revealed for Muhammad Ibrahim Muballigh as translated by Shoghi Effendi in his Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah (1st ed. 1932)  section CXXIX =129) - I have added some emboldening and transliteration from the text printed in Athar-i Qalam-i A`la vol. IV (pages 108-114), pages :

"Say: Step out of Thy holy chamber (ghuraf al-quds), O Maid of Heaven (al-huriyya al-firdaws), inmate of the Exalted Paradise! Drape thyself in whatever manner pleaseth Thee in the silken Vesture of Immortality (harir al-baqa'), and put on, in the name of [283] the All-Glorious (bi-ismi al-abha), the broidered Robe of Light (sundus al-sana'). Hear, then, the sweet, the wondrous accent of the Voice that cometh from the Throne of Thy Lord (`arsh rabbika), the Inaccessible, the Most High. Unveil Thy face (`an ufq al-niqab), and manifest the beauty of the black-eyed Damsel (taraz al-hawra'), and suffer not the servants of God to be deprived of the light of Thy shining countenance (anwar wajhika)...

Cry out before the gaze of the dwellers of heaven and of earth: I am the Maid of Heaven (ana al-huriyya), the Offspring begotten by the Spirit of Bahá (khalaqni al-baha'). My habitation is the Mansion of His Name, the All-Glorious (qasr ismihi al-abha). Before the Concourse on high I was adorned with the ornament of His names. I was wrapt within the veil of an inviolable security, and lay hidden from the eyes of men. Methinks that I heard a Voice of divine and incomparable sweetness, proceeding from the right hand of the God of Mercy, and lo, the whole Paradise stirred and trembled before Me, in its longing to hear its accents, and gaze on the beauty of Him that uttered them. Thus have We revealed in this luminous Tablet, and in the sweetest of languages, the verses which the Tongue of Eternity was moved to utter in the Qayyúmu’l-Asmá." (AQA IV: XX).

We may note here the influence of Islamic understanding of hur/ huriyya and western orientalist Qur'an translation of the four texts referred to above (George Sale, Rodwell, etc)

 

Some Notes in Commentary on the first part of the Ḥúr-i-‘Ujáb (Tablet of the Wondrous Maiden) of Mirza Husayn `Ali Nuri, Baha'-Allah.

Line one 1

The hallowed Beauty (jamal al-quds) shone resplendent from behind the veil (al-hijab).

The use use of حـور hur *Maiden" is again (among many other places) found at the very commencement of the Persian Tablet of Baha'u'llah of the late Iraq-Baghdad period (early 1860s), Lawḥ-i Halih Halih Halih Yā Bishārat! Rejoice! Rejoice! Rejoice! O Glad-Tidings! After the opening theological prescript "He is the Beloved One: (Huwa al-mahbub), the first line is as follows:

 

 

The Maid of Eternity (hur-i baqa') came from the Exalted Paradise (firdaws-i `ala)!

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! O Glad Tidings!

See for further details -  https://hurqalya.ucmerced.edu/node/233

The following related scriptural writings of Bahā’-Allāh, for example,  should also be consulted for imagery relating to the "Maiden" :  al-Qaṣīda al-warqā'iyya (The Ode of the Dove); Lawḥ-i huriyya (Tablet of the Maiden) and Lawh-i Ghulam al-Khuld (The Tablet of the Eternal Youth). 

Here the Maiden is referred to as one who is  jamal al-quds, literally the "Beauty of Sacred Holiness" This Arabic phrase coud be variously translated, for example,  "The Beauty of Holiness / Sanctity / Sacredness". It indicates a holy figure that exhibits jamal Beauty and sacred holiness. She is thus a "hallowed Beauty". The word hallowed means  expressing holiness or sanctity, something holy, venerated, sacred. The spiritual Being or Person of Baha'u'llah is frequently referred to in Babi-Baha'i sacred writings and discourse as Jamal-i mubarak, "The Blessed Beauty". The word Baha' or Baha' Allah as the main way of referring to the founder of the Baha'i religion, indicates  the  Glory, Splendour and Light of God, as well as the "Beauty" of God.  A central meaning of the Arabic word Baha' is jamal or Beauty. The heavenly Maiden referred to in line 1 is the sacred or holy person of Baha'u'llah who is a new expression of divine beauty and holiness. In Baha'i sacred writings motifs of beauty circle around the person of Baha'u'llah, sometimes as he represents himself  as a heavenly maiden, celestial damsel or houri.

The jamal or "beauty" of Baha'u'llah is often related to that accorded the Islamo-biblical person of the patriarch Joseph. Hebrew יוֹסֵף (Yoseph, is referred to over 200 times in the Bible as well as  throughout the 12th Surah of the Qur'an (and a few other places in the Islamic Holy Book) itself entitled Surat Yusuf, the Surah of Joseph (it has 111 verses). The name Jospeh  means "he [God -YHWH] choses to increase (the progeny of Jacob-Israel) and in Greek it is Ἰωσήφ   (over thirty times in the New Testament). Yehosef (Heb) - Yusuf  (Arabic) or Joseph  is the great-grandson of Abraham and the son of Jacob-Israel, the father of the twelve tribes. Joseph, within history or the Hebrew Bible was the 11th son of the patriarch Jacob and his wife Rachel. He was pictured as a paragon of beauty in both the Bible and the Qur'an as well as in hunreds of expository traditions. Baha'u'llah likewise pictured his spiritual Reality of Divine Being as something of great beauty, Arabic  husn or jamal.  Like the Bab he also claimed to be the a divine beauty as the spiritual "return" (raj`at) of Joseph, they both also being the new eschatological martyred  Imam Husayn (d.61/680).  As the new Joseph who emerged from the "pit" of isolation into the "Egypt" of the world, Baha'u'llah came for  with a new message for humankind. Wayward opposition to him came from his half-brother and others, as it did from the brothers of the Biblical and Qur'anic Joseph.

The Refrain

The refrain reads literally  wa inna hadha la-shay' `ujab which literally translated "And this is indeed a thing (shay') wonderful (`ujab)".  In line with some of the other verses of this poetical writing, the translators have made the refrain twofold, "How wondrous a thing, How wondrous indeed!" The aforementioned words including `ujab (wonderful, wondrous) underlines the amazing nature of the beauty of the Maiden. The key word `ujab (wonderful, wondrous) is frequently repeated as it is central to the inner amazement associated with the disclosure of the female Beauty.

The twice repeated refrain here is most probably inspired by the presence of the prefixed intensifying  particle,    Arabic particle "l" (letter lam), the  la-  before or attached to the object of wa inna hadha  la- : "And this is indeed X  something astounding indeed as well as something `ujab or "wondrous".

  • 2 And, lo, the flame of rapture (nar al-injidhab) caused all souls (al-arwah, plural of ruh = souls) to swoon away (insa`aqat; like Moses before the Divine Theophany; cf. Qur'an 7:145). How wondrous is this, How wondrous indeed!
  • 3 Rising up, they soared unto the blest pavilion ’neath the throne of heaven’s canopy. How wondrous a mystery, how wondrous indeed!
  • Say: The Maiden of Eternity unveiled Her face — may her wondrous beauty be exalted indeed!—
  • 5 Shedding forth from earth to heaven its resplendent rays. How wondrous a light, how wondrous indeed!
  • 6 A lightning glance She cast, as piercing as a shooting star— how wondrous Her glance, how wondrous indeed!—
  • 7 A glance consuming every name and every title in its flames. How wondrous a feat, how wondrous indeed!
  • 8 To the dwellers of the realm of dust She turned Her gaze. How wondrous Her gaze, how wondrous indeed!
  • 9 And then did all creation shake and pass away. How astounding a death, how astounding indeed!
  • 10 She then let fall a raven lock, an ornament of spirit in the darkest night— how wondrous a hue, how wondrous indeed!—
  • 11 From which the fragrant breezes of the spirit were perceived. How wondrous a scent, how wondrous indeed!
  • 12 In Her right hand She bore the ruby wine and in Her left a portion of the finest fare. How wondrous a grace, how wondrous indeed!
  • 13 With hands encrimsoned with Her ardent lovers’ blood— how wondrous is this, how wondrous indeed!—
  • 14 In cups and chalices She passed round the wine of life. How wondrous a draught, how wondrous indeed!
  • 15 With harp and lute She sang in praise of Her Beloved. How wondrous a song, how wondrous indeed!
  • 16 Whereat the hearts were melted in consuming flames.How wondrous a love, how wondrous indeed!
  • 17 Of Her sustaining beauty She bestowed a boundless share— how wondrous a share, how wondrous indeed!—
  • 18 Then brought Her sword of charm upon Her lovers’ necks. How wondrous a blow, how wondrous indeed!
  • 19 Her pearl-like teeth did flash, no sooner had She smiled. How wondrous a pearl, how wondrous indeed!
  • 20 Whereat the hearts of them that know cried out and wept. How wondrous a piety, how wondrous indeed!
  • 21 But they that doubt and boast of self denied Her truth.How astounding a denial, how astounding indeed!
  • 22 And, hearing this, in sorrow, She repaired to Her abode. How astounding Her grief, how astounding indeed!
  • 23 She returned from whence She came: How lofty were the steps She traced! How astounding a decree, how astounding indeed!
  • 24 She cried a cry of anguish, as to reduce all things to naught. How astounding Her woe, how astounding indeed!
  • 25 And from Her lips there streamed these words of warning and rebuke— how astounding a stream, how astounding indeed!—
  • 26 “Why do ye gainsay Me, O people of the Book?” How astounding is this, how astounding indeed!
  • 27 “Claim ye to be the guided and the loved ones of the Lord?” By God!How astounding a lie, how astounding indeed!
  • 28 “O my friends,” She said, “We shall not come again,”— how wondrous a return, how wondrous indeed!—
  • 29 “But will conceal God’s secrets in His Scriptures and His Books,” as bidden by One mighty and bounteous indeed!
  • 30 “Nor shall ye find Me till the Promised One appear on Judgement Day.” By My life! How astounding an abasement, how astounding indeed!

 

Towards a Translation and Commentary on the second Persian part of the Ḥūr-i-‘Ujáb (Tablet of the Wondrous Maiden) of Mirza Husayn `Ali Nuri, Baha'-Allah.

The Opening lines of the Persian Part II of the Lawh-i Ḥūr-i `Ujāb (The Tablet of the Wondrous Maiden).

Manuscripts containing the text of the Persian part II

The  Persian second half or revelatory translation remains virtually unknown. In volume IV of his Kitab-i Zuhur al-haqq, Mirza Muhammad Fadil-i Mazandarani (d. 1957) only makes passing mention and does not seem to cite the text of the Lawh-i Hur-i `Ujab (see ms. KZH IV: 254). The Arabic Hur-i `Ujab is only partly cited by Mazandarani in volume 3 of his Asrār al-Āthār (128 BE/1972) entry `Huriyya' (pp. 133-8). In his survey of the writings of Baha'u'llah entitled Ganj-i shayigan, `Abd al-Hamid Ishraq Khavari (d.1972) makes no mention of the Lawh-i Ḥūr-i `Ujāb though he does cite  the Arabic (only) in his Risala-yi Ayyam-i tis`ah (see below). Ḥabīb Allāh Ḥusāmī  in his Manābiʻ -i  Maṭāliʻah -i Amrī  Āthār (Vol.1) includes an entry on "Hur-i `Ujab" (p. 134-5) though very little detail is provided and no mention of the Persian is made - though there are a few useful details regarding sources. PDf. Husami-manabi - Hur-i  `Ujab.pdf

Translation from the Ms. INBMC 36: 452-3 and British Library Ms. Or.15706( see PDfs above).

The second Persian version of the Lawh-i Hūr-i `Ujab, opens as follows, indicating that the Persian re-revealed text includes a deep disclosure of the Arabic. With a brief Arabic preface the  Persian text may be loosely translated as follows:

Translation under revision and completion. Last updated 28-06-2020.

Lawh-i Ḥūr-i `Ujāb (The Tablet of the Wondrous Maiden).

[0]

"In My Name which is He who Discloses [Breathes forth] (munfatiḥ / munfakh) the Spirit (al-ruḥ) within the bodies of the [Arabic] words (ajsad al-kalimat) by means of an Impenetrable Spirit of Holiness (bi-ruḥ-i quds mani`)!

[1] Praised be to God who hath enabled the eyes of the hidden living creatures (ḥayawān-i ghayb) that are secreted away within the veils enveloping the Divine Mystery (ḥijabāt-i sirr-i ilāhi)  to be assisted (bi-ta'yid ast) [2] for the Elevated Holy Spirit ((rūḥ al-quds) hath flowed and streamed forth from the realities of the [Arabic] words (ḥaqā'iq-i kalimāt) ...  Yea! Indeed! The very Eye of Life itself (chashmeh-i hayat) beareth witness that some among the servants are engaged in the search for Him ...

This Eye / Well (chashmeh) is the Ringlet [Curling Lock] of the Beloved One (ja`da-yi mahbub)

 

 

 

Some Notes in Commentary on the Persian Part II of the Lawh-i Ḥūr-i `Ujāb (The Tablet of the Wondrous Maiden).

The Arabic Preface

"In the Name / My Name  the reading here could be bism alladhi (In the Name of the One who is ...) or bismi alladhi (In My Name Who/Which is ...)

The Arabic word munafah (m-f-h), munafakh (n-f-kh)  or munfatiḥ (f-t-h)

The mss.    has munafah or munafakh  from the root n-f-h or n-f-kh

The second possibility munfatiḥ here would  derive from the VIIIth form of the root f-t-h meaning `to open' .... It might also be translated, for example, `The One who Unravels' or `The One who Unfolds' perhaps implying thet Baha'u'llah is the one who unlocks the deep meaning of the Arabic words of part one of this weighty poetical scriptural Tablet. Something of "the  Spirit (al-rūḥ)"  within the "bodies of the [Arabic] words" (ajsad al-kalimat) is exposed in the Persian re-revelation. This by means of "an Impenetrable Spirit of Holiness" (bi-rūḥ quds mani`)!