The word `Ama' in Select Writings of Baha'u'llah

THE WORD `AMĀ' IN THE SELECT WRITINGS OF

عَمَاء

MĪRZĀ ḤUSAYN `ALĪ NŪRĪ, BAHĀ'-ALLĀH (1817-1892 CE)

 _____

Revised  and supplemented from the Baha’i Studies Bulletin (BSB) 3:2 (1984).

Stephen Lambden UC Merced, 2020.

In Progress  - Last Updated 17-09-2020.

The use of the term `amā in select writings of Mirza Husayn `Ali Bahā'u'llāh (1817-1892 ).
The following paragraphs are largely adapted and expanded from the appendix on `Ama' supplementary to the Lambden commentary upon the Rashh-i `ama in BSB (see this website). As with the writings of the Bāb a fairly large number of occurrences of `amā' are to be found in the massive corpus of Bahā'u'llāh's Persian and Arabic writings, especially mystically oriented writings dating from the earlier part of his forty year ministry (l852-1892 CE). Once again only a select amount of largely titled writings (alwah) will be referred to in the paragraphs which follow.

`Ama' in the Rashh-i `ama' (c.  late1852)

رَشْح عَمَا

هو الله

He is God

[1]

رشح عما از جذبه ما ميريزد

سّر وفا از نغمه ما ميريزد

On account of our rapture the sprinkling of the Theophanic Cloud rains down;

The Mystery of Fidelity pours forth from Our Melody.

[10]

طفح بهائی بين رشح عمائی بين

كين جمله زيك نغمه از لحن خدا ميريزد

Observe the Overflowing of Baha'!

Behold the `Ama' ("Cloud") generated Rainfall!

Through the Melody of God all this pours forth as a single Song.

As stated elsewhere, the Rashh-i `Ama' is one of the few scriptural writings of Baha'u'llāh dating from before the exile to Iraq (1853-1863). As will have been observed the term `arnā'  occurs three times in this 19 or 20  line poem. In the opening line rashh-i `amā' is probably indicative of God, the Bāb or Bahā'u'llāh's own celestial Self as the source of divine revelation.The imperative expression in line 10,  "Behold the sprinkling of the Cloud of Unknowing" (rashh-i `amā' bin) doubtless has similar import : divine revelation is being vouchsafed through Bahā'u'llah. In line 14 the genitive expression 'mystery of the Theophanic Cloud' ( sirr-i `ama') may also be taken to refer to Bahā'u'llah as one hidden in the Divine realm of `amā'. God himself was believed to be hidden there as were the potentialities of the Divine Self-Disclosure (tajalli). This with the outreaching of the doubly transcendent al-ahadiyya (the Self-Contained "Inclusive Divine Oneness") through the al-fayd al-aqdas, the "Most Holy Outpouring".

Select Writings of the Irag (Baghdad) Period (1853-1863).

The Tablet of all Food (Lawh-i Kull al-Ta`ām )
This important work of Baha'u'llāh is essentially an esoteric commentary on Qur' an 3:94 written for Hajji Mirza Kamal al-Din Naraqī (d. Naraq c. 1881) around 1270 AH (= late 1853 or early 1854). For details and full translation see A Tablet of Mirza Husayn `Ali of the Early Irag Period .. in Baha'l Studies Bulletin Vol.3. No. l, pp.

In its opening paragraph allusion is probably macle to the Bāb as the locus of divine guidance when it is mentioned that God excited the Letters of Manifestation" (ahraf al-zuhur = the archetypal realities ?) in the "Incomparable Point of the Realm of  the Theophanic Cloud" (bi'l-nugtat al-`amā'iyya al-firdaniyya ; or perhaps, 'in the Beclouded Incomparabie Point' meaning the Bāb.  Reference may be may to the text in Ishraq Khā'varī (ed) Mā'ida-yi Asmānī, Vol.4 (n.p. [Tehran] 129 Badi`), p.265f (Henceforth MA 4 ).

A few paragraphs later refererence to the leadership role of Mirzā Yahyā (then norninal head of the Bābi community) who appears to be "the Light-filled Dove" ( warga' al-nurā') which warbles beyond the"veils of `amā"' ( hajbat al-`amā') is made (Ma'ida, 4:268). At one point Bahā'u'llāh swears by the "Lord of `amā' - fa-wa rabbi'l-`amā' (cf. for example Qur'ān 51:23; MA. 4: 271) and at another refers to (mast probably) Mirza Yahyā as the ''Countenance of Light in the Heavens of `ama' the Theophanic Cloud)" (tal`at al-nur fi samawāt al-`amā') (ibid.,p.273). Towards the end of the Lawh-i Kull al-Ta`ām he characterises himself as the " Dove of Servitude" (hamāmat al-`ubüdiyya) which warbles in the "heaven of `amā"' (sama' al-`amā') (ibid., 274) , refers to God (?) as the "Sovereign of `amā' (sultān al-`ama') and addresses the ahl al-`ama' (refer, ibid, 274-5) :

"Say: 'O People of `Amā' (ahl al-`amā')!

Issue forth from your habitations and present yourselves before the Presence in the sanctum of Light (li'l hudur fi haram al-nur)  the Theophanic `Amā'-Cloud  (`amā al-zuhur), the Most-Great House of God, as hath been decreed, with the permission of God, in the Tablet of the Heart" (ibid.,pp. 275-6)

Here the  ahl al-`amā' are probably to be thought of as the denizens of the unseen world or, more concretely,  'the Bābis (?) who are commanded to present themselves in Baghdad (?) and acknowledge Yahyā's leadership role.The expression "manifest `amā'  could refer to Yahyā.  Babā'u'llāh or Baghdad as the source or centre of the Bābi  world.

The Dove 's Ode, al-qasida al-warqa'iyya.
Written during the course of his two year withdrawal in Iraqi Kurdistan from c. 1272 AH / 1855 CE the term `ama' occurs a few tirnes in Bah'ā'u'llāh's `Ode of the Dove".1

1. On this work see J. R.Cole, Baha'u'llah and the Naqshbandi Sufis in Irag, 1854-6 in From Iran East and West, Studies in Babi- Baha'i History Vol.2 (ed. J .R.Cole & M.Momen), pp.1-28; D. MacEoin, A Provisional Translation of the Qasīda al-Wargā'iyya  in Baha'f Studies Bulletin Vol.2. No. pp.

In the first hemistitch of line 3, Bahā'u'llāh refers to the fact that "the musk of `amā, " (misk al-`amā' ) has been diffused on account of the the delight of the divine female beloved or celestial Houri lauded in lines 1-16 of the Arabic qasida reflecting that od Ibn al-Farid of Cairo ( ). She, we are led to believe in the second hemistich of line 10a, resides or treads upon the "earth" (ard) ·ar region about the  "throne of `amā' " (`arsh al-`amā') . It may be that this celestial
maiden, symbolic of the vehicle of communication between God and Bahā'u 'llāh, is to be thought of as inhabiting the heavenly region of the theophanic , the God-centered Cloud or loosely, the  'Cloud of Unknowing' (`amā') wherein the throne of Divinity exists (see, for example, the text in MA. 4. p.197 (line 3 ) and p.198, line 10).

The first hemistitch of the 24th line leads us to believe-- the thought is obviously poetic-- that Bahā'u'll'āh's love and desire for complete union with the divine Beloved was such that the "ocean of `amā'" (bahr al-`amā') was dried up on account of his intense thrist (for 'reunion').
The mystic cosmology of the Bāb's Qayyum al-asmā' (and other writings), it may be noted (see above), pictures the celestial scene of God's Sinaitic disclosure from the realm of `amā' as being surrounded by an ocean of heavenly water(Refer, Qasida, in ibid., p.199 (line 24 ).

Perhaps addressing the Divine Maiden (as his own celestial self?) in the 95th line of his Arabic Qasida, Bahā'u'llāh writes (the translation is tentative):

" O Spirit of  `Amā'!

Descend from the Throne ( al-`arsh ) that there be not for thee the least portion of my abasement" ( lst hemistich ) (QarĪda line 95 in MA. Vol.4. p.206).

The throne mentioned in this line is probably the heavenly throne which, according to various Bābi-Baha'Ī texts, exists in the realm of `amā'. If the Divine Maiden as Baha'u.'llāh's celestial self is intended by the "Spirit of `Arnā' (ruh al-`ama' ) the meaning may be that his apparent abasement would cease if he disclosed his true theophanic, mazhariyya (Manifestation of God) status. The implication may be that Baha'u'llāh or the Divine Maiden sits, as the spirit (ruh ) in the 'Cloud of Unknowing', the Theophanic Cloud (`amā')  on the celestial "throne" ( al-`arsh) which exists in or is associated with that realm of the theophanic cloud.

The Commentary of Baha'u'llah on the Qasida al-warqa'iyya.

In his commentary on (select words and phrases in the Qasida al-warqa'iyya (see Athār-i Qalam-i A`lā Vol.3 (n.p. 121 Badi`, pp.196-215) the term `amā' occurs in the course of an explanation of the 117th line (see MA.4 p. 212 and AQA, Vol.3. p. 212). Without going into details, the expression "Light of the Unseen" (nur al-ghayb) is equated with an "effulgence" (tajalll) from the "lights of the morn of `amā' (anwār subh-i `amā') by which Mirzā Yahya may be intended. It may be that Baha'u'llah interprets line 117 in the light of his temporary, Kurdistan withdrawal or abandonment of his half-brother.

The Surah of the Sufficiency (Surat al-Kifaya),

For the Arabic text see INBMC Vol.36., pp. 277-80+ Lambden trans. BSB + this site at:
 This interesting Arabic work of Bahā'u'llāh very probably dates from the early-mid Baghdad period of his ministry. It contains a pericope addressed to the 'letter of jud', possibly Siyyid Jawād Karbalā'i and passages that could be interpreted in the light of its author' s upholding the
leadership role of Mirzā Yahyā. It begins;

"O People of al-Hā'!

Hearken unto the melodies of the Crimson Leaf (waragat al-hamrā') in the paradise of `amā, (jannat al-`ama') for he, verily, is the Light (al-nur), the Sinaitic Temple (haykal al-sina' or 'the Resplendent Temple' reading haykal al-sana')  who acteth, on behalf of God, as a manifest light unto the worlds." (Surat al-Kifaya, 277).