Skip to content Skip to navigation
See our Campus Ready site for the most up to date information about instruction.Campus ReadyCOVID Help

On `Ama' -The Tablet of `Abdu'l-Baha (d. 1921) to Muhammad Fahmi Effendi of Cairo.

 

 

 

The Tablet of `Abdu'l-Baha (d. 1921) to  Muhammad Fahmi Effendi of Cairo, dated 21st July 1920. PDf. Arabic Text, Notes and Translation.

Stephen Lambden 12-05-2021 - In Progress and being modified.

Annotated Baha'i World Centre Translation from `The Call of the Divine Beloved, Selected Mystical Works of Bahá’u’lláh' p.- fn.8.

In Progress - last updated 21-09-2020

For the sake of academic clarity I have added a few transliterations of the Arabic. The `Ama' (Theophanic Cloud) the individuations or "entities" -  existent and non-existent as   التعينات (al-ta`ayyinát) -  and al-Ahadiyya (Absolute Divine Oneness) are all key terms in the cosmology and mysticism of Ibn al-`Arabi and his followers and devotees such as his step-son and major disciple Sadr al-Din  al-Qunawi (d. Konya , 673/1274). .

O thou Habib (Beloved One)!

Your document (tahrir) has been received and we became aware of its intent. We offer a succinct reply in view of the paucity of these times and the magnitude of the work at hand. `Amā'

“‘Amá  [the Theophanic Cloud] is defined [in linguistic terms] as an extremely thin and subtle cloud (al-saháb al-khafif al-latif)  seen and then not seen. For shouldst thou gaze with the utmost care, thou wouldst discern something, but as soon as thou dost look again, it ceaseth to be seen. For this reason, in the usage of mystics who seek after truth (`urf al-muhaqiqin) ‘Amá [the Cloud] signifieth the Universal Reality (al-haqiqat al-kuliyya) without individuations  التعينات (al-ta`ayyinát) [as unrealized entities]  as such, for these individuations [entities]  التعينات (al-ta`ayyinát) exist [only] in the mode of uncompounded simplicity and oneness (bi-nahw al-bisata wa wahdat) and are not differentiated from the Divine Essence (al-dhāt). Thus they are [entities] individuated [entified تعين  ] and not individuated [non-entified لا  تعين (ta`ayyin wa la ta`ayyin). This is the station alluded to by the terms Aḥadíyyih [Absolute Oneness] and ‘Amá [the [Theophanic] Cloud].

This is the station of the “Hidden Treasure” (al- kanz al-makhfiy) mentioned in the Ḥadíth. The divine attributes, therefore, are individuations [entities]  (al-ta`ayyinát)  that exist in the [Divine] Essence (al-dhāt) but are not differentiated therefrom. They are seen and then not seen. This, in brief, is what is meant by ‘Amā [the Theophanic Cloud]”.

 

Further Notes.

Extract from William C. Chittick , `The Central Point – Qūnawî’s Role in the School of Ibn ‘Arabî'

" ...Nonetheless, his [al-Qūnawî's] many discussions of human perfection throw a good deal of light on the general idea. [12] Especially interesting is a passage that employs one of Ibn ‘Arabî’s best known technical terms, “fixed entity” (‘ayn thābita).

You will remember that the fixed entity is a thing’s “reality” (haqîqa), that is, the thing as known to God. The word “entity”, like the philosophical term “quiddity” (māhiyya), is contrasted with wujūd, which is God in himself. [13] In and of itself, the fixed entity has no wujūd. The entities “exist” only as objects of divine knowledge, not on their own. In an analogous way, our ideas “exist” only through the existence of our minds. God creates the universe by bestowing the color of wujūd on the fixed entities. The entities remain nonexistent and fixed in God’s knowledge, yet they appear simultaneously as “existent entities” (al-a’yān al-mawjūda), that is, creatures in the world. There is no difference between the fixed entity and the existent entity save the apparent addition of existence to the latter.

Qūnawî writes,

Know that the most perfect and complete knowledge is correspondence [mudāhāt] with the knowledge of the Real. No one gains it save him whose essence is empty of every attribute and imprint [naqsh] and who settles down in the Exact Middle of the Greatest Point, which brings together all levels and existent things; this is thetrue equilibrium [i’tidāl] that encompasses all the supraformal [ma’nawî], spiritual, imaginal, and sensory equilibriums and the relative perfections and degrees that they encompass. [Such a knower] realizes the perfect, divine nondelimitation and the First Entification, concerning which we said that it is the origin of all entifications;[18 SEE BELOW] his essence becomes like a mirror of all of the Real and creation. Every known thing whatsoever is impressed within his essence and entified within its mirrorness [mir’ātiyya] through his essence’s entification in itself.[19] 

From al-Qunawi, Nafahāt, pp.135-6 = Nafahāt al-uns, edited by Mahmūd ‘Ābidî (Tehran: Intishārāt-i Ittilā’āt, 1370/1991).

Footnote 18 = "Entification” (ta’ayyun) is one of many technical terms Qūnawî makes current among Ibn ‘Arabî’s followers. Ibn ‘Arabî uses the word, but with no special technical significance. In the technical sense, it means to be or to become an entity (‘ayn), that is, a reality distinct from other realities. The First Entification is God as known to us, who embraces all names and attributes and gives rise to all entities and creatures. Beyond the First Entification stands “Nonentification” (lā ta’ayyun), that is, Nondelimited Wujūd, or God’s Essence."

For further details see the full article at:

https://ibnarabisociety.org/qunawi-in-the-school-of-ibn-arabi-william-ch...

William Chittick on the  `Fixed Entities'  (a‘yân thâbita)  as written in his `Ibn ‘Arabî  article -first published Tue Aug 5, 2008; substantive revision Fri Aug 2, 2019 within the `Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy' : https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ibn-arabi/#WahAlWuj

4.1 Fixed Entities

Most famously, Ibn ‘Arabî discusses the things known to God as “fixed entities” (a‘yân thâbita). Early translators opted for expressions like immutable or permanent “archetypes” or “essences”, without noting that there is no difference in whatness between “fixed entities” and “existent entities” (a‘yân mawjûda). The fixed entities are the things inasmuch as they are nonexistent in themselves but known to God; the existent entities are the exact same things inasmuch as they have been given a certain imaginal or delimited existence by the engendering command. The fixed entities are not the “archetypes” of the existent entities but are rather identical (‘ayn) with them; nor are they “essences”, if by this is meant anything other than the entities’ specific whatness.

By having recourse to the fixity of entities in the divine knowledge, Ibn ‘Arabî is able to say that the dispute between theologians and philosophers over the eternity of the world goes back to their perception of the entities. Those who maintain that the world is eternal have understood that “the Real is never qualified by first not seeing the cosmos, then seeing it. On the contrary, He never ceases seeing it.” Those who maintain that the world is qualified by new arrival (hudûth) “consider the existence of the cosmos in relation to its own entity”, which is nonexistent. Hence they understand that it must have come into existence (Ibn ‘Arabî, al-Futûhât, 1911 edition, 2:666.35).

Followers of Ibn ‘Arabî sometimes distinguished between divine names and entities by calling the former “universal names” and the latter “particular names”. Ibn ‘Arabî observes theological norms when he declares that the divine names are “conditional” (tawqîfî), which is to say that we should call God only by those names that he himself uses in scripture. Ibn ‘Arabî also acknowledges, however, that every single thing is a divine name, because each designates the Nondelimited in respect of a certain delimitation. In this sense, each thing, each entity, is a “specific face” (wajh khâss) of God that differentiates it from every other thing. After quoting the prophetic saying that God has “ninety-nine” names, Ibn ‘Arabî explains that these names designate the “mothers” of the names, which give birth to all the rest. He continues:

Every one of the possible entities has a specific divine name that gazes upon it and gives it its specific face, thereby distinguishing it from every other entity. The possible things are infinite, so the names are infinite, for new relations arrive with the new arrival of the possible things. (Ibn ‘Arabî, al-Futûhât, 1911 edition, 4:288.1)

On the  al-a`yān al-thābita, the "immutable entities" and the translation see further Jaakko Hämeen-Anttila, "The Immutable Entities and Time" Paper read at the 18th Annual USA Symposium of the Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi Society, New York, 15–16 October 2005. Printed in  the Journal of the Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi Society, Vol. XXXIX, 2006.  Online at https://ibnarabisociety.org/the-immutable-entities-and-time-jaakko-hamee...

Select Shaykhi Babi and Baha'i references to the al-a`yān al-thābita, the "immutable entities"

Sayyid Kazim al-Husayni al-Rashti (d.1259/1843).

An extract from the Sharh al-Khutba al-Tutunjiyya ("Commentary on the Sermon of the Gulf")

"... for the first of the stations [levels, modes] of the divine theophany (maqāmāt al-zuhur) is al-wāhid (the outreaching "Unicity") since this expressed a linkge [`unitative patch'] (ratq  an cf. Q. 21:31) hence it split asunder and resulted in threefoldness (al-thalātha) through  its yielding Oneness (al-ahad) yet expressing the a`yān al-thābita, the "fixed / immutable entities" as well as the order (ratba) of its [various] levels [stations] (maqāmāt). These three (al-thalātha) [modes of the Divine theophany] were thus an outreach (ratq an ) which resulted in another outreach of nine  (al-tis`a) on account of its being uprooted and effected through its differentiation by virtue of the levels of its own Persona-Self (marātib nafsi-hā). Wherefore the result was Nine[fold] (al-tis`a) [realities] for these are the bases and the causes [foundations] (al-usul wa'l-`illal). So since there was a relationship between al-Ahad ("Oneness") and al-Wāhid (the outreaching "Unicity") which was expressive of Threefoldness (al-thalātha), there was [thus also] something Fourfold (al-arba`a). Thus came about the [four] Elemental Bases (al-`anāsir [ sing. `unsur]). Thus also were the al-aflāk (sing. falak), the  cosmic Spheres, associated with the [four] Elemental Bases (al-`anāsir).

And therefrom were  born the Divine Names (al-asmā' al-ilāhiyya) which are Active, Immutable Realities (al-fa`iliyya al-haqiqa al-lātnāhiyya). Thus, the first of the  al-aflāk, the cosmic Spheres which were cleft asunder  (al-maftuqa) yet consolidated (al-martuq) on account of the Divine Theophany (min al-zuhur)  is the [Personal] Name [of God] Allāh. This is the Supreme, Universal Falak (Cosmic Sphere) (al-falak al-a`zam al-kulliyya) which is All-Surrounding (al-muhit), under active compulsion to function (al-musakhkhar) relative to all the Cosmic Spheres operative through the Divine Names (al-aflāk al-asmā'iyya). And the second Cosmic Sphere (al-falak al-thāniyya) is the Name of God al-Rahman, the All-Merciful ...

"The first of the al-aflak (spheres) is the one pre-eminent among those of interrelated appearence. This is the Name [of God] Allah which is the Most Great, Universal, All-Encompassing Sphere (al-falak al-a`zam al-kulli al-muhit) which is determinitive in functionality (al-musakhkhar) relative to all of the divinely designated spheres (li-kull al-aflak al-asma'iyya). And the second al-falak, Sphere, is the Name of God al-Rahman (the All-Merciful), "By whatever [Name] ye summon Him, to Him belong the Most Beautiful Names (al-asma al-husna)" (Q. 17:110b). Now as for the [other] seven spheres (aflak  al-sab`ah) generated from these two most mighty  spheres (al-falakayn al-a`zamayn), the seventh of them which incorporates the other four, is the Name of God al-Badi` (The Absolute Generating Cause)... And this is a foundational locale (matrah) differentiated from the manifestation of  two most Elevated Names (al-ismayn al-a`liyyayn).  It is thus dependent upon the esoteric dimension (batin) of the Name Allah (God) for it is generated by the seventh sphere (al-falak al-sabi`)  which is the Lord  [Master/Overseer] (al-rabb). And it is by virtue of its exoteric aspect (zahir) that the ninth firmament-sphere (al-falak al-tasi`) is generated for this [the moon] is something perspicuous [clear] (al-mubin).

Sayyid `Ali Muhammad Shirazi, the Bāb (d.1850).

Bayan Dar Jabr  wa Tafwīḍ. ("A Clarification of the matter of Jabr ("Foreordination") and Tafwīḍ ("Freewill")" of the Bab

An Extract from a `Short Treatise of the Bab explaining the Ḥadīth of Imam Ja`far al-Ṣādiq that there is neither Jabr ("Foreordination") nor Tafwīḍ ("Freewill") for the matter is a situation (al-amr) betwixt two circumstances (al-amrayn).

وان الحكمإ لما تفكروا فيها بعقولهم انقطعوا عن معرفتها وما وجدوا لانفسهم سبيلا الا بالاعيان الثابته او بالجبر وذلك لانهم لما لم ياخذوا عن اهل العصمة  و غروا بما ادركوا بعقولهم ولم يعلموا ان عقولهم لو كانت عقولا حقيقة لا تسميه لكانت واقفه فی مقام لو دنوت انملة الی هذا المقام لاحترقت لا جرم جعلوا انفسهم تحت الشرك ولايشعرون واعلم ان حالة الاشيإ فی ذر الامكان كحالتهم فی ذر التكوين علی ما اذا سئلوا اجابوا وان السوٌال نفس الجواب علی ما هم عليه للاشيإ بما هم عليه كما هم عليه فمن قال بلی فصار من اهل الجنة ومن قال لا فصار من اهل النار وفی هذا المقام قصرت العبادة عن حد البيان واكمل التعبيرات قول الله ؟ لا حول ولا قوة الا بالله العلی العظيم فاشرب من هذا المإ واعرف قدره واكتمه عن اهله فانه فيه كفاية لمن له قلب ودراية فاذكر ذكرا جميلا فی فوٌادك حتی لا تری شيئا الا مختارا

And the sages [philosophers] (al-hukama'), when they comtemplated this matter with their intellects, were detached from [any understanding] of its gnosis (ma`rifat) and proved unable to find for themselves any pathway thereto except by virtue of the [nature of the] بالاعيان الثابته al-a`yān al-thābita, the fixed [prototypical] entities [in the mind of God] or [in contemplation of the mysteries of] al-jabr ("destiny"). Such for them was the case, when they did not derive any clarification from   اهل العصمة , the people of infallibility (ahl al-`ismat [the twelver Imams"]),...

 

Mirza Husayn `Ali Nuri, Baha-Allāh (d.1892).