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Sidra 8



Sidrah  (Lote-Tree) and

سِدْرَةِ الْمُنْتَهَى

 the Sidrat al-Muntaha  (Lote-Tree of the Extremity),

Some Apects of their Islamic and Bābī-Bahā'ī Iintepretations.


Stephen N. Lambden

In progress - last revised 9th September 2009 & April 26, 2014.

Some preliminaries - the three main Qur'anic texts:

Sūrat al-Sabā' ("The Surah of Sheba"), Qur'ān 34:16

    فَأَعْرَضُوا فَأَرْسَلْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ سَيْلَ الْعَرِمِ وَبَدَّلْنَاهُم بِجَنَّتَيْهِمْ جَنَّتَيْنِ ذَوَاتَى أُكُلٍ خَمْطٍ وَأَثْلٍ وَشَيْءٍ مِّن سِدْرٍ قَلِيل           

 Yet they turned away [from God] so We sent the flood of `Iram [the dams] upon them, and substituted their two gardens for two "gardens" yielding bitter fruit, tamarisk and something from scattered lote-trees (shay' in min sidr qalīl)...   

Sūrat al-Wāqi'ah ("The Event"), Qur'ān 56:28

وَأَصْحَابُ الْيَمِينِ مَا أَصْحَابُ  الْيَمِين ِفِي  سِدْرٍ مَّخْضُود  وَطَلْحٍ مَّنضُودٍ  وَظِلٍّ مَّمْدُود   وَمَاء مَّسْكُوبٍ   

 And the companions of the right-hand! What then are the companions of the right-hand? [They are such as shall dwell amidst] thornless lote-trees (fi sidr makhḍūd)...

Sūrat al-Najm ("The Surah of the Star"), Qur'ān 53:13-16

(وَلَقَدْ رَآهُ نَزْلَةً أُخْرَى (13) عِندَ سِدْرَةِ الْمُنْتَهَى (14) عِندَهَا جَنَّةُ الْمَأْوَى (15) إِذْ يَغْشَى السِّدْرَةَ مَا يَغْشَى  (16

I [Muhammad] had indeed seen him [Gabriel] descending another time, nigh the Sidrat al-Muntahā (Lote-Tree of the Extremity"), nearby the Garden of Repose  (jannat al-māwā), when there encompassed the Sidrah (Lote-Tree) that which covered it ... 

The qur'anic verses cited and loosely translated above are the only ones which make direct reference to sidrah ("lote trees") or to the Sidrat al-Muntaha ("Lote Tree of the Extremity") in the Arabic sacred book known as the Qur'ān. In summary, the term sidrah  (pl. [coll.] sidr),  "lote-trees" ) is used four times in three Meccan sūrahs of the Qur'ān (see above), twice in the singular (53:14,16) and twice in the plural (34:16 [15] and 56:28 [27]). Scattered lote-trees (sidr) formed part of what grew in the "bitter" substitute gardens of Sheba (34:16). According to the sūrah of "The Event" (al-wāqi`ah, 56) it seems to be implied that a select group of the righteous will, in the future paradise, dwell amidst "thornless lote-trees" (fī sidrin makhḍūd).  It is only in the Sūrat al-Najm (Surah of the Star) (Q. 53) in which reference is made to the Sidrat al-Muntahā  or to the "Lote-Tree" which is in some sense "beyond" or at "the extremity", "the limit", perhaps indicting an "ultimate location" in Paradise.

        The Arabic word  muntahā  is derived from the triliteral verbal root  N-H-W which in its VIIIth form  can, for example, mean, "to terminate, conclude, finish, etc" . The verbal noun muntahā  مُنْتَهَى  could thus be literally translated  "termination", "limit", "extremity", "boundary"  or the like. In genitive relationship with sidrah as in the qur'anic phrase Sidrat al-muntahā =    سِدْرَةِ الْمُنْتَهَى     (Q. 53:14 only), it could thus be literally translated "Lote-Tree of the Boundary", "Lote-Tree of the Limit" ,  "Lote-Tree of the Extremity" or "Lote-Tree beyond which there is no passing".  A modern, eminently straightforward Qur'an Commentary entitled Taisīr al-karīm al-raḥman fī tafsīr kalām al-manān by `Abd al-Rahman ibn Nāṣir al-Sa`idī (d. 1376/1956). puts the matter simply when commenting on Qur'an 53: 14 (=  "nigh the Sidrat al-Muntahā", Lote-Tree of the Extremity) :

"It [the Sidrat al-Muntahā] is a very large Tree (shajarat) beyond the seventh heaven. It is named the Sidrat al-Muntahā because there terminates at it  whatever ascends from the earth and whatever descends [from heaven] including what comes down from God, including waḥy (divine inspiration) and other things besides. Alternatively, [it might be said that this name is due to the fact that]  it is the Uttermost Extremity [Boundary] (intihā') for the knowledge of the creatures approaching it, relative, that is, to its Existent Being [as located] above the heavens and the earth.  So it is al-Muntahā (the Extremity, Boundary) with respect to  [all human] modes of knowledge (`ulūm) or other things besides. And God is best informed [of this matter].  Thus [it was that] Muhammad saw Gabriel in that location (al-makān) which is the domain of the pure and beautiful, elevated [celestial] Souls (maḥall al-arwāḥ al-`uluwiyya al-zakiyya al-jamīliyya)... " (Sa`idi, Tafsir, 819).

As the exact religious background to the motif of the  سِدْرَةِ الْمُنْتَهَى  remains, however, unknown, such translations are tentative and inadequate. It could be seem to be the Islamic equivalent of the Sinaitic "buning bush" (Heb. Seneh,  Exod 3:2 ) where the divine theophany was to a degree earlier experienced by the Israelite prophet Moses. Arabian Jews at the time of the Prophet or the Prophet himself in Arabizing a  biblical tradition, might have identified the Sinaitic "burning bush"  with the Sidrah or Lote-Tree and associated his visionary experiences or prophetic call with it. In some Rabbinic traditions  the "burning bush" is a lowly thorn bush (e.g. Exodus Rabba II.2 cf. Philo Vita Mos. I. 67)  just as in terrestrial terms the Sidrat al-Muntahā  is a lowly, thorny bush. The Prophet transcendentalized it and located it in or near Paradise as the  Garden of Repose  (jannat al-māwā). Just as the Burning bush was "not consumed" as a result of the divine theophany within it, so was the Sidrat al-Muntaha enveloped by a mysterious possibly protective covering (see Qur'an 53:16).

        It  might also be conjectured that this qur'anic "Lote Tree" marks the boundary of the transcendent Godhead whose divine theophany remains something of an apophatic  mystery. God is experienced at the very limit of knowing in the domain of "unknowing". Moses experienced God and spoke to Him but only saw his "back" (Exodus 33:20f), not His "face" (Heb. panim) ( ibid). The Israelite prophet Moses only indirectly experienced God in mysterious and terrifying circumstances. The visionary experience of Muhammad was in some respects similar. While the biblical "burning bush" was not consumed, the qur'anic Lote-Tree could not be bypassed. As will be seen it is the case that in various Tafsir literatures (such as that of al-Tabari ) Moses' encounter with God and the Mi`rāj vision of Muhammad are compared and contrasted (see below).

Select English translations of Qur'an 53:13-16:

       The following are a few examples of English translations of Qur'an 53:13-16 (or `Sidrat al-Munataha' rooted in Qur'an 53:14b) arranged in loose chronological order. Some are quite good translations, others less so thought most are highly speculative since the exact sense of these qur'anic verses is far from clear.

  • George Sale (1734):   [13] He also saw him another time, [14] by the lote-tree beyond which there is no passing: [15] Near it is the garden of [eternal] abode.  [16] When the lote-tree covered that which it covered..
  •  J. M. Rodwell (1861):  [13] He had seen him also another time, [14]  Near the Sidrah-tree, which marks the boundary. 3 [15] Near which is the garden of repose. [16] When the Sidrah-tree was covered with what covered it,
  • Wensinck, A. J.  (1921 [1978])  [14] "the sidra / lotus of the utmost limit"
  • E. H. Palmer (1880): [13] And he saw him another time, [14] by the lote tree none may pass; [15] near which is the garden of the Abode! [16] When there covered the lote tree what did cover it ! 
  • Marmaduke Pickthall  (1930) : [13]. And verily he saw him yet another time [14]. By the lote-tree of the utmost boundary, [15]. Nigh unto which is the Garden of Abode. [16]. When that which shroudeth did enshroud the lote-tree.
  • Abdullah Yusuf Ali ( 1938):  [13] For indeed he saw him at a second descent, [14] Near the Lote-tree beyond which none may pass: [15]  Near it is the Garden of Abode. [16]  Behold, the Lote-tree was shrouded (in mystery unspeakable!)
  • Arthur J. Arberry (1956):  [13] Indeed, he saw him another time [14] by the Lote-Tree of the Boundary [15] nigh which is the Garden of the Refuge, [16] when there covered the Lote-Tree that which covered...
  • Helmut Gätje (19XX [71]) : [13] "the Zizyphus Tree at the far end of heaven (Sidrat al-muntaha)".
  • M. H. Shakir (1983) :   [13] And certainly he saw him in another descent, [14] At the farthest lote-tree; [15 ] Near which is the garden, the place to be resorted to. [16] When that which covers covered the lote-tree
  • W. Montgomery Watt & M. V. McDonald (1988)  [13b], Sidrat al-Muntaha] "lote tree of the utmost boundary" (Tabari, Tarikh/ History VI: 79 fn.).
  • Andrew Rippin [EI2 IX:550] (1997) : "Indeed he [Muhammad] saw him [Djibrīl] another time by the lote tree of the boundary nigh which is the garden of the refuge". 
  • M.A.S Abdel Haleem (2004)  : "[13] A second time he saw him: [14] by the lote tree beyond which none may pass [15] near the Garden of Return, [16] when the tree was covered in nameless splendour [fn. `something unimaginable'." (`The Qur'an, A new translation, OUP.,: 2004, 347).
  • Tarif Khalidi (2008) : "[13] And he saw him a second time, [14] By the lote-tree of the Extremity, [15] Near which is the Garden of Refuge, .  [16] When there covered the lote-tree that which covered it." (Penguin Books, 2009, 435).

As far as the concrete significance of the word sidrah goes, Islamic sources often identify it as the  shajarat al-nabq (= Per. darakht-i  kunār), the "tree of the nabq  (fruit)". This is apparently the wild jujube or  zizyphus spina-christi  (Christ's thorn),  a tall, stout, tropical tree (see image above) with dense prickly branches which yield  a sweet reddish fruit similar to that of the jujube (the `unnāb  = zizyphus vulgaris / fruit) (Qarshayy 3:246f.; Ṭabarī, Jāmi` al-bayān 13:52f.; Lane 1:1331 ; Wehr 1103; Lambden, Sinaitic Mysteries : 68-9, 163 fn.32). If the qur'ānic mention of the Sidrat al-Muntahā has these mundane implications, this may well echo Rabbinic viewpoints about God's having (indirectly) manifested Himself in a lowly thorn-bush, the "burning bush" of Exodus 3:2 (cf. Deut. 33:16). It is interesting to note in this connection that on occasion in certain of his scriptural Tablets  Bahā'-Allāh himself conflated the motifs of the "Lote-Tree" and the "Sinaitic Tree" (shajarat al-ṭūr) or "Burning Bush" (see Pt. 2 below). 

         It is the references to the sidrah / sidrat al-muntahā in the sūra of The Star (53) which are of particular importance as far as the background to the  Bābī-Bahā'ī use of the "Lote-Tree" motif is concerned. In Islamic literatures  Qur'an 53:13ff   is frequently interpreted relative to a mystical vision which the Prophet Muhammad experienced during the course of his isrā ("Night journey") and related  mi`rāj  ("Ascension") (see the Qur'ān commentaries on 17:1f  and 53:13ff. and, for example, Montgomery Watt, 1988:54f). 

The Background for the Qur'anic motif of the Tree 

         The Qur'an commentary of the two Jalāls (Jalālayn) was jointly authored by Jalāl al-Dīn al-Maḥallī (d. 864/1459)  who began it  and Jalāl al-Dīn al-Suyūṭī (d.911/1505)  who completed it. What is stated here is very similar to the Tafsir of al-Baiḍawī and others:  

"I [Muhammad] had indeed seen him" (وَلَقَدْ رَآهُ) : that is to say, Gabriel (Jibrīl) according to his [own supernatural] "form-image"  (fī ṣūratihi)  نَزْلَةً   (= "descending" Q. 53:13a)   one time [that was another] . أُخْرَى  (= "another" Q. 53:13b)    عِندَ سِدْرَةِ الْمُنْتَهَى ("nigh the Sidrat al-Muntahā, the Lote-Tree of the Extremity" = Q. 52:14).  [This] when he [Muhammad] journeyed by night (asrā) unto it  [the sidrat al-muntahā] throughout the heavens.  It is the tree of the nabq (fruit) at the right-hand side of the [Divine] Throne (al-`arsh). No one has the ability to bypass it ( lā yatajāwuzihā [= j-w-z VIth verbal form ]) among the angels (aḥad min al-malā'ikat) or any others besides.   عِنْدَها جَنَّةُ المَأْوَى   ("nigh the Garden of Refuge" = Q. 53:15).  Thereat seek refuge the angels (al-malā'ikat) or the souls of the [martyed] witnesses  (arwāḥ al-shuhadā') [Ibn `Abbās said]  or the righteous Godfearing ones (al-mutaqūn), .إِذْ  ("when",  = Q.53:16a)   [this has the sense of  the] moment (ḥīn) [when]. يَغْشَى السِّدْرَةَ مَا يَغْشَى  there covered the Sidrah (Lote-Tree) that which covered it  = Q. 53:16b). [Indicating covering] with birds (min al-ṭayr) and other things besides.  ADD MORE     . (Tafsir Jalalayn [1984] p.XX).

Worth noting here is a footnote (3) in the 19th century Rodwell translation of Q. 53: 14 (see above) which includes the following  comment on Q. 53:14 partly based on the Tafsir of the two Jalāls (Jalālayn) and registering various legendary traditions :

Footnote in Rodwell (ADD, p.69 fn.3). "That is, Beyond which neither men nor angels can pass (Djelal). The original word is also rendered, the Lote-Tree of the extremity, or of the loftiest spot in Paradise, in the seventh Heaven, on the right hand of the throne of God. Its leaves are fabled to be as numerous as the members of the whole human family, and each leaf to bear the name of an individual. This tree is shaken on the night of the I5th of Ramadan every year a little after sunset, when the leaves on which are inscribed the names of those who are to die in the ensuing year fall, either wholly withered, or with more or less green remaining, according to the months or weeks the person has yet to live ".

The Sidrat al-Muntaha in the writings of the Bāb (1819-1850 CE). 

        Sayyid `Ali Muhammad Shiazi, the Bāb occasionally and Mirza Husayn `Ali Nuri, Bahā'-Allāh  (1817-1892 CE) frequently refer to, or in various ways claim to be the Sidrat al-muntahā, the "Lote-Tree of the Extremity" . At one point in His early Tafsīr bismillāh the Bāb highlighted the exalted station of Imām `Alī by referring to him as the "Lote-Tree beyond which there is no passing" (p.331). In His earliest major revelation, the Qayyūm al-asmā' (sūrah 93:373) He stated that God made believing women as "leaves" of the "Lote-Tree [s]" (al-shajarat al-sidr[ah]) in the proximity of the Bāb. In one of his writings he is commanded by God to proclaim his status and

"Say: This, of a certainty, is the Garden of Repose (jannat al-ma'wā [Qur'ān 53:15]), the loftiest Point of adoration, the Sidrat al-muntahā ("Tree beyond which there is no passing") , the Blessed Tree (shajarat al-ṭubā), Most Mighty Sign, the most beauteous Countenance and the most comely Face." (SWB:155).

At times the Bāb identified his Logos-Self or subordinate Divine reality with the Sidrat al-Muntahā.



The Sidrat al-Muntaha in the writings of the Baha'-Allah (1817-1892 CE). 

Sāqī āz ghayb-i baqā' 

            According to the Baha'i scholar Ishrāq Khavarī this poem dates to the years 1270-71 or between 4th Oct. 1853 and 13th Sept. 1855 (Ganj:12), or to to the time of Bahā'-Allāh's residence in Sulaymaniyah (Iraqi Kurdistan). The Persian text of the Sāqī āz ghayb-i baqā'  can be found, for example, in Ma'idah 4:209-211 and INBMC 36:455.. As cited in Ganj-i Shayigan, 12 it opens as follows:

ساقی از غيب بقا برقع برافكن از عذار   تا بنوشم خمر باقی از جمال ذوالجلال

آنچه در خم خانه داری نشكند صفرای عشق    زان شراب معنوی ساقی همی بحری بيار

Commonly referred to by means of its opening words, Saqī az ghayb-i baqā' this Persian qaṣīda (ghazal) is only fifteen couplets long. In it Baha'-Allah implores the Divine Beloved, the celestial Cupbearer, to unveil herself so that he might quaff the "wine of eternity" (khamr-i baqā') from the all-beauteous Creator. He underlines the intense ardour his desire for her mystic wine and dwells on the consuming fire of his love for her beauty (see line lff). In response to his pleading the Divine Beloved speaks of the sublime detachment necessary for the mystic wayfarer who aspires to enter her court or attain true reunion (see line 7ff). The lover who seeks to become privy to the "mysteries of love" (asrār-i `ishq) must so open his inner eye that he will perceive the Mount of Moses (ṭūr-i mūsā) circumambulating the Divine Beloved and the Spirit of Jesus (rūḥ-i `īsā) unsettled by her love (line 10, text in Ma'idih 4:210 + INBMC 36:45). It appears that Baha'-Allah addresses the Divine Beloved in line 13(b) as the "Messiah of the Age" (masīḥa-yi zamān) and, in the final couplet (15) refers to himself as the "Dervish of the World" (darwīsh-i jihān) who is passionately on fire on account of the "brand of the Divine Ravisher of Hearts".  It may be that the Saqī az ghayb-i baqā' is expressive of Baha'-Allah's own burning desire to disclose his secret messianic calling, the revelatory potentialities of his celestial Logos-Self, this being the reality of the Heavenly Cupbearer with whom union is to be sought and about which Moses and Jesus are enraptured. Worth noting in this respect is the fact that in line 8(a) it is reunion with Bahā' (waṣl-i bahā) that is to be sought.


The concluding lines are:

گر خيال جان همی هستت بدل اينجا ميا   ور نثار جان و سر داری بياو هم بيار

رسم ره اينست گر وصل بهأ داری طلب   ور نباشی مرد اين ره دور شو زحمت ميار

            Another of the earliest references to the Lote-Tree motif is found in at the beginning of an eighteen couplet  Persian poetical work of Baha'-Allah probably dating from the mid. Iraq or Kurdistan interregnum years (1854-6 CE). It begins with reference to the Sidrah which is, its third word in ithe first hemistitch: :

عشق از سدره اعلی آمد با شعله فارانی 

 `Ishq āz sidrah-yi a`lā āmad bā shu`lah fārānī

(Text as published in Ma'idih 4:179-80)

This opening line might be translated, "Enraptured love came from the Most Exalted Lote-Tree (sidrah-yi a`lā ) with a firebrand from Paran". Here Baha'-Allah seems to allude to himself as an incarnation of enraptured love (`ishq). His or the Bab's messianic advent is celebrated as if from the celestial realm of the Lote-Tree (sidrah) and  bearing a "Firebrand" (shu`lah) from Mt. Paran (faran). This latter locale is a mystical zone associated with the genesis of the Islamic faith and of Divine theophany- manifestation  in general , The motif of Paran is rooted in the Bible (see. Deuteronomy 33:2 "God came from Sinai and.. shone forth from Mount Paran..." ) and a few Islamic texts such as the the Du`a al-simat (Prayer of the Signs) transmitted from the  Shi`i   Imams Muhammad al-Baqir and Ja`far al-Ṣādiq.       

 Important reference is made to the Lote-Tree motif in the forty or more page wholly Arabic mid-Iraq period (? c. 1857-8?) scriptural tablet of Mīrzā Ḥusayn `Alī Bahā'-Allāh (1817-1892 CE) known as the Lawḥ-i āyah-yi nūr ("Tablet about the Light Verse [Q. 24:35]") or Tafsīr [Lawḥ-i] ḥurūfāt al-muqaṭṭa`āt ("Commentary on the Isolated Letters"). It was written in reply to questions posed by the early Bābī-believer and Bahā'ī martyr [Ḥajjī] Āqā Mīrzā [Āqā] Rikab-Sāz Shīrāzī, (d. Shiraz 1288/1871)  (Mazandarani, ZH VI:857-9; Ishrāq Khāvarī, Ganj, 21-2; GPB:200). Towards the beginning of this weighty scriptural Tablet it is written:

       Praise be to God who created the letters (al-ḥurūfāt)  in the worlds of the divine Cloud (`awālim al-`amā') beyond the pavilions of holiness (surādiqāt al-qūds)  in the lofty heights  of the most resplendent sphere ...

  ثمّ اقمصهن قميص السوداء لما قدر بتقديره الازلية  فی مكمن القدَر علی قباب الحمراء فيما سب العلم  بان يستر ماء الحيوان فی ظلمات عوالم الاسماء عند سدرة المنتهی  

He then clothed the letters in a black robe in accordance with what was decreed through the measure of His eternality respecting  the possibilities of divine foreordination (qadar).  This relative to the [fate regulating] Crimson Domes (qibāb al-ḥamrā')    and to the status of  [explicit] knowledge for  He has concealed the Water of Life in the shadows of the worlds of Names  nigh unto the Lote-Tree of the Extremity (sidrat al-muntahā')" . The archetypal letters of the alphabet with which all reality is inscribed on the Tablet of Destiny is associated with the fate regulating, time transcending "Crimson Domes". In this connection the "Water of Life" (ma' al-hayywan) is concealed in worldly veils nigh the cosmogonic Sidrat a-muntahā'.

 In this same Tablet of the Isolated Letters the Lote-Tree motif is conflated with the "burning bush" in  the Sinaitic encounter of Moses with God.  Baha'-Allah writes,

"When, for Moses, the appointed term in the Midian of the Divine Will was completed he returned to his people and entered the environs of Sinai in the Holy Vale at the right-hand side of the region of Paradise by the precincts of the Eternal Realm. ..

Again was Moses summoned before the shores of the Ocean of Grandeur in the Crimson Dome: "Lift up. O Moses, Your head!". When he lifted it up he saw a Light, blazing and luminous from the Furthermost Tree in the Verdant [Green] Vale. Wherefore was he guided by the Most-Great Guidance from the Fire kindled from the Eternal Lote-Tree....

The "Fire" of divine guidance within the Logos-like reality of Moses was enkindled from the eternal  "Lote-Tree". Summing up these matters himself Baha'-Allah states:

Thus do we mention unto thee something of the mysteries of knowledge and the jewels of wisdom perchance the people might be enkindled and illumined by the Fire of God in the Lote-Tree of the Remembrance  [ = the Bab] (sidrat al-dhikr). 

See further Lawh-i Hurufat especially IX:1ff; XII:1b; XVIII:6.

A Tablet of  Baha'‑Allah on Qur'ān 13:17[18] and 18:60ff: The Sinaitic Tree and the Lote-Tree.

           Baha'‑Allah's detailed interpretations of the story of Moses and the youth often identified as Khiḍr are found in his commenty upon Qur'an 13:17[18] and 18:60ff which may date from the latter period of his sojurn or exile in Ottoman Iraq (1863‑1868). It contains an interesting conflation of the Lote-Tree (sidrah) and the Sinaitic Tree or Burning Bush in which the Divine theophany was realized by Moses who is said to have been mystically  "sustained by the fruits of the Sinaitic Lote‑Tree (sidrat al‑sinā'). Bahā'‑Allāh commences his allegorical interpretations as follows:

        "Know thou that when Moses attained the most elevated [mystical] levels (maratib al‑a`la), traversed the paths of eternal subsistence (masalik al‑baqā') and was irradiated with the Lights of Might and Grandeur, he desired to draw nigh unto the Tree of the Divine Decree (shajarat al‑qaḍā') and the Lote‑Tree of Realization (sidrat al‑imḍā'). This that he might witness such as is decreed in a Preserved Tablet (lawḥ maḥfūẓ). Whereupon did he say unto the attendant [page, youth], `I shall not give up [but shall keep on walking] until I attain the confluence of the two seas, or [until] I have traveled for a considerable period'

And We expound [interpret] the youth [page] (al‑fata) as his [Moses'] [outer] body (al‑jism) for he [Moses] is the Divine Youth [servant, page] (al‑fata al‑`ilāhī) in whom the Sun of Prophethood (shams al‑nubuwwa) radiated forth with the utmost Lordship (bi‑ghayat al‑rabbāniyya) though the people fail to comprehend. He, assuredly, is indeed the youth (fata) who was irradiated with the theophanic effulgences (tajalliyāt) of the lights of the kingdom (anwār al‑malakūt) and was sustained by the fruits of the Sinaitic Lote‑Tree (sidrat al‑sinā') which shed light in the Mount of Eternal Subsistence (ṭūr al‑baqā') with a manifest effulgence. He [Moses] assuredly is the Youth [page] (al‑fata) who beareth the mysteries of God (asrār Allāh) and His treasures [as would be evident] if the people did but understand. Though few among the people comprehend this he [Moses] is indeed the "Shell" in which is found the hidden "Pearl" which is the [inner] Being of the [Sinaitic] Speaker (al‑kalim = Moses) and which sparkles with the lights of Pre‑existence (anwār al‑qidam) and sheds Splendour through the theophanic effulgence of the Sun of the Greatest Name (al‑ism al‑a`ẓam).

See further:

Lawh-i Halih-Halih-Halih Yā Bishārat

Another poetical Tablet of Baha'-Allah dating to the end of the Iraq-Baghdad period (1862-3) is entitled Lawh-i Halih-Halih-Halih Ya Bisharat (The Tablet of Hallelujah! Hallelujah, Hallelujah, O Glad Tidings! ) after this frequent refrain, celebrates his imminent assumption of leadership of the Babi community. Couplets and refrain 8-9 read as follows:


 This sweet Davidic voice came with the Messianic Spirit from the Divine Lote-Tree

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, O Glad Tidings!

هَلِه هَلِه هَلِه يَا بشَارَت


With the allurement of fidelity, with the protection of Bahā' (Glory-Beauty),

She came from the Dawning-Place of [the letter] "H"

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, O Glad Tidings!

هَلِه هَلِه هَلِه يَا بِشَارَت

See further: Halih Trans.

The Kitab-i iqan (Book of Certitude)

        The word سِدْرَةِ  Sidrah  with the sense of "Lote-Tree" occurs eleven times in Baha'-Allah's Book of Certitude (1862-2CE), mostly in gentive constructions giving this word various allegorical or figurative senses (see KI: 9, 18, 22, 23, 31,41, 47,99, 107,181).  ADD

Writings of the Edirne Period (1863-1868)

The Sūrat al-Aṣḥāb (The Surah of the Companions, c. 1864 CE)

      The important early Edirne (Adrainople) period Sūrat al-Aṣḥāb (Surah of the Companions, c. 1864CE) was written for Mirza Habīb-Allāh Maraghi'ī (= Āqā-yi Munīb) . As the "Lote-Tree of Bahā'" Baha'-Allah here associates himself with the personified "Lote-Tree"  present in a New Paradise referred to as Riḍwān (lit. "Felicity") which is associated with the divine Person of Baha'-Allah whose parentally bestowed name was Mirza Ḥusayn `Alī, a name of 4 Arabic letters (Ḥ+S+Y=N) then 3 letters (A+L+Y):


Say: The Tent of Pre-existence hath been raised up. And thou, O people of the Bayan [= Babis] withold not thyselves there from. Dwell then at its threshold! By God! The Lote-Tree of Bahā' hath borne fruit in this Riḍwān which hath appeared in the Fourfold Temple (haykal al-tarbi`) (= Ḥusayn) in Triadic form (ha'it al-tathlīth) (= `Alī). O ye denizens of the Arks of Bahā'! Draw then nigh unto it  and find pleasure in its fruits."

Throughout His ministry Bahā'-Allāh drew on the symbolic imagery contained in Qur'an Sūra 53:8ff.  While, for example in, the Sūrat al-ahsāb (Surah of the Companions) he refers to himself as "the Heaven of Refuge ( ADD) nigh unto the Lote-Tree of Holiness ( ADD                 )" (cf. Qur'ān 53:13-14), in another later untitled Persian Tablet he alludes to his exalted theophanic station by referring to himself as the one who occupies    بمقام قاب قوسين    = bi-maqām  qab quwasayn,  a "station" which is  "at the distance of two bows"  or a  "position"  very close to the Ultimate (Q.53:9) . He is, furthermore (Per.)   وراى سِدْرَةِ الْمُنْتَهَى است ,  one who has a position "beyond (!) the "Lote-Tree beyond which there is no passing" (text Majmu`ih-yi Alwah-i Mubarakah 368-71, trans..Gleanings.. XXIX  cf. Persian [29]:53). Shoghi Effendi  translated the pertinent paragraph of this scriptural Tablet as follows:

The purpose of God in creating man hath been, and will ever be, to enable him to know his Creator and to attain His Presence. To this most excellent aim, this supreme objective, all the heavenly Books and the divinely-revealed and weighty Scriptures unequivocally bear witness. Whoso hath recognized the Day Spring of Divine guidance and entered His holy court hath drawn nigh unto God and attained His Presence, a Presence which is the real Paradise, and of which the loftiest mansions of heaven are but a symbol. Such a man hath attained the knowledge of the station of Him Who is "at the distance of two bows," Who standeth beyond the Sadratu'l-Muntahá [= Sidrat al-Muntaha]. Whoso hath failed to recognize Him will have condemned himself to the misery of remoteness, a remoteness which is naught but utter nothingness and the essence of the nethermost fire. Such will be his fate, though to outward seeming he may occupy the earth's loftiest seats and be established upon its most exalted throne.

The Sūrat al-Fatḥ (c. 1865-6?)

        In an important Tablet addressed to a certain Fatḥ al-A`zam most likely dating to the mid 1860s (c. 1865-6?) and known as the Surat al-Fatḥ, Baha'-Allah  refers to himself as one who,  "did warble mystic meaning upon the twigs of the Lote-Tree of the All-Merciful (sidrat al-raḥmān) in the Riḍwān (Felicity) of this Elevated, Sanctified and Luminous Tablet" :

O Fatḥ al-A`zam!

I took firm hold of the Pen that there might be revealed for thee what will gladden thee and generate within thy heart what will attract thee towards the Sanctum of God (maqarr Allāh), the Exalted, the All Mighty. And when it inclined unto this level of Exposition (Bayān), I hearkened unto the yearning of My heart and the clamoring of My Pen for they both did warble mystic meaning upon the twigs of the Lote-Tree of the All-Merciful (sidrat al-raḥmān) in the Riḍwān (Felicity, Paradise) of this Elevated, Sanctified and Luminous Tablet.

See further :

Lawh-i Aḥmad (Arabic), The Tablet of Aḥmad.

        One of the best known and most frequently recited Tablets of Bahā'-Allāh, is the Arabic Tablet of Aḥmad. This work was revealed for a certain Mīrzā Aḥmad Yazdī (born Yazd c. 1220/1805) who died in Tehran [or Qazvīn?] at an advanced age around 1320/1902. In a rhythmic sometimes rhyming Arabic prose It dates to about  c. 1282 AH or c. 1865-6. Towards its very beginning there is an important reference to the Sidrat al-Baqā' ("the Lote Tree of Eternity"),  a phrase which Shoghi Effendi slightly non-literally translated "Tree of Eternity" without specifically identifying this Tree as a Lote-Tree:

هوالسلطان العليم الحكيم

هذه ورقة الفردوس تغنى على افنان سدرة البقاء بالحان قدس مليح   

He is the King, the All-Knowing, the Wise! 

Lo!  The Nightingale of Paradise (waraqat al-firdaws) singeth upon the twigs ( afnān) of the Lote Tree of Eternity (sidrat al-baqā'), with holy and sweet melodies, proclaiming to the sincere ones the glad tidings of the nearness of God, calling the believers in the Divine Unity to the court of the Presence of the Generous One, informing the severed ones of the message which hath been revealed by God, the King, the Glorious, the Peerless, guiding the lovers to the seat of sanctity and to this resplendent Beauty.   

            As an elevated celestial bird (warqā') Bahā'-Allāh pictures himself as one perched upon the  sidrat al-baqā'  or "Lote-Tree of Eternity" proclaiming the good news of his messianic advent to pure and receptive souls (Arabic text Risāla-yi tasbīḥ va taḥlīl, pp.  215-218);

See further: URLs:   and  

Lawḥ-i Tuqā  (Tablet of ther Fear of God),

      At the end of his  Edirne (Adrianople) period (c. 1866-7) Lawḥ-i Tuqā  (Tablet of ther Fear of God), Baha'-Allāh refers to himself as the personified Lote-Tree planted by God in the very apex of that Paradise which is Riḍwān, the  domain of celestial "Felicity":

Glory be upon thee! and upon such as have sought refuge in the shade of this Lote-Tree (al-sidra) which hath  in truth been raised up and planted by the bounteous hand of God in the Midmost-Heart  of Riḍwān [Paradise]  (quṭb al-riḍwān)"  (AQA 4:13).

 The Tablet to `Alī Muhammad Sarrāj (Lawh-i Sarrāj) c. 1867 CE.

      In Bābī-Bahā'ī scripture the Sidrat al-Muntahā is sometimes understood to refer to the individual and sometimes to the Manifestation of God. In His Tablet to `Alī Muhammad Sarrāj (Lawh-i Sarrāj) dating to about 1867 CE he explains that scriptural imagery associated with Paradise can be understood as revolving around the true believer. The faithful soul who dwells in the shadow of the Divine Lote-Tree (sidra-yi ilāhī  [= Bahā'-Allāh]) is himself accounted by God as a   sidra-yi ṭubā  ("blessed lote-tree"), while the negligent unbeliever is the very "lote-tree" of the infernal "fire of sijjīn" (cf. Qur'ān 83:7-8; see Ma'idiah  7:21-23 ). Bābī-Bahā'ī scripture thus, in various contexts, applies "lote-tree" symbolim to the human being / soul.  The Persian paragraph from the Lawh-i Sarrāj can now be fully translated:


O thou Questioner [`Ali Muhammad Sarrāj]! That which thou observeth of the various designations in the Divine Books (kitab-i ilahi) including references to the Blessed [Tree] (ṭūbā), the Sidrat al-Muntahā' (Per. Sidrah-yi muntahā =  Lote-Tree of the Extremity), the  Tree of the Extremity (shajarat-i quṣwā) its  leaves  (waraq), its fruits (thamar) and the like, ADD

        Echoing a line of the abovementioned tradition ascribed to Imām Alī, Bahā'-Allāh in His Arabic Tablet to `Alī Pashā (Lawḥ-i Rā'is, 1868 ) refers to the "soul" (nafs) of the true believer in the oneness of God as a blazing fire (al-nār) enkindled in the sidrat al-insān. the "human lote-tree" or perhaps the " lote-tree of humankind" . Similarly, at the beginning of a Persian Tablet addressed to the renowned Jewish convert to the Bahā'ī Faith, Mīrzā Mahdī Arjomand, Bahā'-Allāh refers to Himself as One crying out in the "Human Lote-Tree" (sidrat al-insān) and, subsequently, as the "Lote-Tree" which declares His advent as the eschatological appearance of God, the True One (see MH 4:455). As in Persian mystical poetry, the symbol of the sidrah / Sidrat al-Muntahā is occasionally present in Bahā'-Allāh's poetical compositions (see for example, Bahā'-Allāh's Mathnawī  cited Lambden, Sinaitic Mysteries, 127; Dehkhoda, Lughat, Sidrat al-Muntahā).

        Within one of the revelations of Bahā'-Allāh it is specifically stated that "The Holy Tree [Sidrat] is, in a sense, the Manifestation of the One True God.." (English trans. cited in Errata to Tablets , 137 fn.; see also Kitāb-i Īqān , 19 ). Those reckoned by Bahā'ī s to be Manifestations of God are often spoken about by means of the terms Sidrah and Sidrat al-Muntahā within Bahā'ī scripture ( e.g. the Prophet Muhammad in the Kitāb-i-Īqān : 71 ; see also Lambden, Sinaitic Mysteries : 118-9).

al-Kitab al-Aqdas (The Most Holy Book) c, 1873 CE.

        In His Most Holy Book (Kitāb-i  aqdas c.1873 ) Bahā'-Allāh addresses humanity and directs them, in a luminous spiritual condition, to advance towards the region where He, as the "Lote-Tree beyond which there is no passing" (Sidrat al-Muntahā), proclaims His [subordinate] Divinity. On occasion Bahā'-Allāh referred to Himself as the "All Glorious [Abhā] Lote-Tree" (see Māzandarānī, Athar  4:125f.) as well as the "Lote-Tree of Bahā'".

The Baha'i Medium Obligatory prayer' ( Ṣalāt).

        While reciting the `medium obligatory prayer' ( Ṣalāt, to be recited thrice daily) the Bahā'ī worshipper facing the Point of Adoration ( Qiblih = Bahjī, Acre ) at one point says, "God testifieth that there is none other God but Him. His are the kingdoms of Revelation and of creation. He, in truth, hath manifested Him Who is the Day-Spring of Revelation, Who conversed on Sinai, through Whom the Supreme Horizon hath been made to shine, and the Lote-Tree beyond which there is no passing [= Bahā'-Allāh] hath spoken.." (P&M:241).

 Lawh-i milād-i  ism al-a`ẓam (Tablet for the Birthday of the Greatest Name [=Baha'-Allah]).

           Important use of the Sidrah and Sidrat al-Muntahā motifs are found the scriptural Tablet of Bahā'-Allāh of the mid.-late West Galilean (Acre) period (1880s?) known as the Lawh-i milād-i  ism al-a`ẓam (Tablet for the Birthday of the Greatest Name [=Baha'-Allah]), printed in the compilation of `Abd al-Ḥamid Ishrāq Khavarī entitled Risāla-yi ayyām-i tis`ah (Treatise On the Nine Holy Days) (see pp. 48-51). In various ways this Tablet dwells upon the disclosure of the Logos-Person or Mightiest Name that was Baha'-Allah. The person of Baha'-Allah is pictured as the Sinaitic Lote-Tree,  a token from whom disclosed the mystery of his Greatest Name  unto Moses on of the Sinai of realization. A "fruit" from the transcendent "Spirit" of Baha'-Allah disclosed what enraptured the "heart" of the prophet Muhammad  on his celestial mi`raj (night ascent) when he heard the disclosure of the Greatest Name of  Baha'-Allah from beyond, the beyond, from beyond the Sidrat al-Muntahā:


[1] So, Oh what jubilation is upon such as hath received, taken and proffered His Mighty, Transcendent Love (ḥubb). [2] A ripening fruit (thamara) from it articulated the like of what was uttered by the Sinaitic Lote-Tree (sidrat al-sīnā’) upon the Blessed Snow-white Spot (buqat al-mubāraka al-bayḍā). [3] From it the ears of the Speaker [Moses] did hear what caused him to be wholly detached from existence  and enabled him to draw near unto a sanctified locale.


[1] So, Oh what jubilation on account of the Rapture of God  (jadhb Allāh), the Powerful, the Exalted, the Mighty. [2] An ultimate Fruit (thamara) voiced what caused the Spirit (al-rūḥ) to be enraptured and to ascend unto a Mighty,  Perspicuous Heaven.


 [1] So, Oh what jubilation on account of this Spirit (al-rūḥ) before the Reality of whom the Spirit of Faith (rūḥ al-amīn) did rise up empowered with an utterance of the angels of the cherubic order (malā’ikat al-muqarribīn). [2] A Fruit (thamara) did cry out the like of what enraptured the heart of Muhammad, the Messenger of God (rasūl Allāh). He rose up and experienced an heavenly mi`rāj (ascent) on account of that Most Elevated Call (al-nidā’), an ascent unto the Lote-Tree beyond which there is no passing (sidrat al-muntahā). He heard the Call of God (nidā’ Allāh) from beyond the Pavilion of Grandeur (surādiq al-kubriyā’) expressive of the mystery of My Sanctified, the Elevated and Mighty Name.


 [1] So, Oh! what jubilation on account of this Lote-Tree (al-sidra) raised up, in very truth, such that all the worlds might find shade neath its shadow. [2] O Supreme Pen! Be stilled and hold back! [3] By God, the True One, should thou cry out and make mention of the melodies of the Fruits of the Tree of God thou wouldst ever remain peerless on earth [4] for all the people would flee from attaining Thy position and would scatter abroad from the Court of Thy Holiness. [5] This is indeed a certain Truth.... 

See further:           

Lawḥ-i milād-i ism-i a`ẓam (The Tablet of the Birthday of the Greatest Name)  (II)

            Another scriptural Tablet celebrating the birthday of Bahā'-Allāh as a personification of the Greatest Name (al-ism al-a`zam) (see  Mā'idih 4:342.) commences with the  Babi-Baha'i basmala  "He is the Most Holy, the Most Great" and commences,


This is the month in which the Greatest Name (al-ism al-a`ẓam) was born, the one through whom the limbs of all mankind (farā’iṣ al-`alam) were made to quake, through whose footsteps the Supreme Concourse (al-malā’ al-a`lā) and the denizens of the Cities of Names (madā’in al-asmā) were blessed. [2] At this did such [elevated beings] shout with joy, magnified exceedingly and gave praise with their very soul and spirit (al-rūḥ wa’l-rīḥān). [3] They exclaimed, ‘By God! This is indeed the month through which all other months were made resplendent, through which the Hidden Treasure (al-kanz al-makhzūn) and the Concealed Secret (al-ghayb al-maknūn) were made manifest.’ [4] They did indeed cry out with the most elevated Call (al-nidā’) amongst the denizens of the kingdom (bayn al-warā al-mulk), exclaiming, [5] ‘This assuredly is the Day of the birth (al-mawlūd) [Bahā’u’llāh] through which the Countenance of all Existence (thaghr al-imkān) beamed with joy, [6] when trees were weighed down [with fruit,] [7] oceans were made to surge, [8] every mountain rejoiced, [9] Paradise did cry out, [10] the Rock (al-sakhra) did shout

A little later it is stated that "all things exclaimed",

‘O concourse of created existence!

Speed ye unto the Dawning-Place of the Countenance of thy Lord, the Merciful, Compassionate.’

This is the month whose Paradises attained unto the Lights of the Countenance (anwār wajh) of their Lord, the All-Merciful and the Nightingale (Dove, al-warqā’) warbled upon the Lote-Tree beyond which there is no passing (sidrat al-muntahā).

(Ma'idah 4:342).

Baha'-Allah here pictures himself as a personified Bird who warbles forth sacred verses upon the Sidrat al-Muntahā.

The Lawh-i Burhan (Tablet of the Proof)

        This weighty Arabic Tablet of Baha'-Allah was addressed to the powerful Shi`i cleric Ḥajjī  Shaykh Muhammad Bāqir Isfahānī (d. 1301/1883) and contains several important references to the Lote-Tree and associated motifs rooted in the Surat al-Najm (Qur'an 53). Baha'-Allah denounced as a "wolf" (dhi`b) the cleric addressed here who persecuted and was involved in the martyrdom of various Bahā'ī believers. The Lawh-i Burhan  contains a passage in which Baha'-Allah  clearly pictures himself as a personification of both the Sidrat al-Muntahā and the "Supreme Horizon"  (  ADD) mentioned in Q. 53 as well, it seems, as allusion to his being the  "Most mighty Sign" alluded to in  Qur'an 53:18b (min ayāt rabbihi kubrā):

O Bāqir! If thou be of them that occupy such a sublime station, produce then a sign from God, the Creator of the heavens. And shouldst thou recognize thy powerlessness, do thou rein in thy passions, and return unto thy Lord, that perchance He may forgive thee thy sins which have caused the leaves of the Divine Lote-Tree ( awrāq al-sidrat) to be burnt up, and the Rock to cry out, and the eyes of men of understanding to weep. Because of thee the Veil of Divinity was rent asunder, and the Ark foundered, and the She-Camel was hamstrung, and the Spirit [= Jesus] groaned in His sublime retreat. Disputest thou with Him Who hath come unto thee with the testimonies of God and His signs which thou possessest and which are in the possession of them that dwell on earth? Open thine eyes that thou mayest behold this Wronged One shining forth above the horizon of the will of God, the Sovereign, the Truth, the Resplendent. Unstop, then, the ear of thine heart (fu`ad) that thou mayest hearken unto the speech of the Divine Lote-Tree (al-sidrat)  that hath been raised up in truth by God, the Almighty, the Beneficent. Verily, this Tree (al-sidrat), notwithstanding the things that befell it by reason of thy cruelty and of the transgressions of such as are like thee, calleth aloud and summoneth all men unto the al-Sidrat al-Muntahā [= Baha'-Allah] and the Supreme Horizon (al-ufq al-a`la, = Q. 53:5). Blessed  [209]  is the soul that hath gazed on the Most Mighty Sign (al-ayat al-kubrā  = see Q. 53:18b), and the ear that hath heard His most sweet Voice, and woe to whosoever hath turned aside and done wickedly" (TB:208-9). 

        In this paragraph Baha-Allah associates the vision of the Prophet in Qur'an 53 with a possible vision of himself as the the "Most Mighty Sign" (al-ayat al-kubrā ) referred to in Q. 53:18b. Note also the spelling al-Sidrat al-Muntahā [= Baha'-Allah] with the definite article twice, a spelling which also occurs in certain Islamic hadith. 

        In the following paragraph of the  Lawh-i Burhan (not cited above) Baha'-Allah asks the Isfahani  "Wolf", as one who has "turned away from God",  to "look with the eye of fairness" (bi-ayn al-insaf) on his person as "the Divine Lote-Tree" (al-sidrat) which incorporates a pleroma of elevated Bahā'ī believers. Thereon he is told, he would  perceive the "marks of  his  sword",  "on its boughs, and its branches, and its leaves, notwithstanding that God created thee [Najafi] for the purpose of recognizing and of serving it [the Divine Lote-Tree]" (TB:207).

             It is in annotating this  section of the Lawḥ-i burhān the authorities at the Baha'i World Centre (Haifa, Israel) have noted that the "Sacred Lote-Tree, the Tree beyond which there is no passing (See Qur'án 53:8-18)" is  a "symbol of the Manifestation of God" (referring to Shoghi Effendi's God Passes By p. 94) (refer TB:207+fn). 

Further Passages from select alwāḥ of Baha'-Allah of the Acre /`Akka' (West Galilean period)

        Some idea of the frequency of the occurrence of Sidrah (often in genitive constructions such as sidrat al-insan = the Human Lote-Tree) or the qur'anic phrase Sidrat al-Muntahā in scriptural alwāḥ (Tablets) of the mid-late Acre (West-Galilean) period (roughly 1875-1892) can be gauged from the fact that in the Bombay  compilation of Tablets of Baha'-Allah printed at the Afnan owned Nāṣirī press in to 1314/ 18XX and entitled ADD these expressions occur no less than ADD times in ADD Persian or Arabic Tablets. They often express aspects of the developed theophanological claims of Baha'-Allah figuring as the personified celestial Lote Tree of the Extremity. In connection with this Tree,  the divine person of Baha'Allah is associated with waḥy (divine revelation) and  the al-ism al-a`zam (Greatest Name) of God identified with the word Baha' (=radiant Glory or Splendour) which embodies his eschatological personna. The following are a few succintly annotated translations from vol. 2 of  the Athar-i qalam-i a`la.:


He is the Ruler over whatsoever He willeth.

The  Transcendent Word (kalimat al-`ulyā') hath been made manifest and of it the Dove hath warbled upon the Sidrat al-Muntahā [proclaiming], `He verily is [that] "He is He Himself" ( هو ُ هو  huwa  huwa = "He  is He [God]") which  inclineth towards Him.... (AQA 2: 212 [226]).

        In this untitled mid-late Acre period Tablet Baha'-Allah pictures Himself as a celestial Bird (al-warqā') singing upon the Sidrat al-Muntahā to the effect that the claim to Divinity is realized. This in that the هو or the Divine Ipseity is actualized through Him. It derives its meaning pertinent to His Being the personification of the expected eschatological theophany or  the latter day manifestation of the divine  "Self-Persona" (nafs) of God on the Day of God. The implications of the following passage are similar:


The personified Sidrat al-Muntaha testifies to "He Who hath appeared in the Kingdom of Existence, for 'He, verily, no God is there except Him"


+ See AQA  2:154

Writings  of `Abdu'l-Bahā (1844-1921 CE) and  Shoghi Effendi (c. 1896-1957)

            In his Will and Testament  `Abdu'l-Bahā referred  to Shoghi Effendi, Guardian of the Bahā'ī Faith from 1921-1957, as a "primal branch of the Divine and Sacred Lote-Tree" grown out from the Bāb and Bahā'-Allāh, the "Twin Holy Trees". As in Bahā'-Allāh's Book of the Covenant (Kitāb-i `ahd), descendants of the Bāb and Bahā'-Allāh are designated the "branches" (afnān) and the "boughs" (aghsān) (respectively) of these "Twin Lote-Trees" (= the Bab and Baha'u'llah).  In a  passage found in the Tablet of Visitation  (a compilation of passages from Tablets of Bahā'-Allāh revealed at different times for persons distant from Him) made by Mulla Muhammad Nabīl-i Zarandī at Bahā'-Allah's instruction, we read,

"Bless Thou, O Lord my God, the Divine Lote-Tree (al-sidrah) and its leaves, and its boughs (aghṣān) , and its branches (afnān) , and its stems, and its off-shoots, as long as Thy most excellent titles will endure and Thy most august attributes will last.." (P&M:240).

        The Heavenly and cosmological Tree in Islām becomes the "Tree" or Sidrat al-Muntahā of the Person and Cause of Bahā'-Allāh. Exalted Bahā'īs are its "branches", "twigs", "leaves" and "fruits" or microcosmic versions of it. In the list of the titles of Bahā'-Allāh, singled out by Shoghi Effendi for mention in his God Passes By, there stands the "Lote-Tree beyond which there is no passing" (p.94).  For Baha'is all humankind dwells beneath the shadow of the Sidrat al-Muntahā which is Bahā'-Allāh.  The true believer is seen as but an imperfect microcosmic version of the transcendent and exalted, the Divine and "All-Glorious (Abhā) Sidrat al-Muntahā who is Bahā'-Allāh.

    Shoghi Effendi (d. 1957) grandson of Bahā'-Allāh and the Guardian or Head of the Bahā'ī religion from 1921 until 1957,  was a key translator of Babi-Baha'i sacred scripture. He frequently translated Sidrat al-Muntahā as "the Lote-Tree beyond which there is no passing" following the translation of Qur'an  53:14  by George Sale (see above) whose Qur'an translation (direct from the Arabic) he regarded as "admirable" and "the most accurate rendering" then available (Directives, 170-1). The Sale translation is itself informed by the Tafsir  of ther two Jalāls  (see Part I on this Website) where muntaha (in Sidrat al-Muntaha, Q. 53:14b) is exegetically glossed as  "no one has the ability to bypass it ( lā yatajāwuzihā [= j-w-z VIth verbal form ]) among the angels". This Sale-Shoghi Effendi translation is echoed by  a few more recent western translators  including the popular 1938 (Ahmadiyya) rendering of Abdullah Yusuf Ali and other academics who render sidrat al-muntahā,  "the Lote-Tree of the Boundary" or "Extremity".

Apparently following earlier idiosyncratic Bahā'ī transliterations Shoghi Effendi always transliterated the Arabic as "Sadratu'l-Muntahá" as, for example, did the Baha'i writer and translator Ali Kuli Khan (d. ADD) in his early 1904 and 1907 translations of the Kitab-i iqan (Book of Certitude) of Baha'-Allah (see Kuli Khan, Iqan 1904 [1907], etc, index; cf. also Holley 1923/28 Baha'i Scriptures, index, Glossary p.558, etc ).  On occasion Shoghi Effendi  rendered سِدْرَةِ sidrah (t)  which he transliterated it as Sadrih (Lote-Tree) non-literally or  "theologically"  with the biblical phrase  (burning) "Bush" or "Tree" (Lambden, Sinaitic Mysteries :150-1 and p.178 fn. 248).





al-Aḥsā'ī, Shaykh Aḥmad,

  • Jawāmi` al-kilam (= JK). 2 vols. Tabrīz: Muhammad Tāqī Nakhjavānī, 1273-76/ Vol.1 / i, ii and iii. 1273/1856 & vol. 2 /I and ii,1276/1959.


al-Ālūsī, Maḥmūd b. 'Abdallāh (d.1270/1854).

  • Ruh = Rūḥ al-ma` ānī  fī  tafsır al- Qur'ān al- 'azīm wa al-sab' al-mathānī,  30 vols, in 15, Cairo 1345/1926.
  • repr. Beirut,  n.d.

al-Askari, Hasan (11th Twelver Imam) (d. 260/873-4).

  • Tafsir al-Askari, ADD

Arberry, A. J.,

[1955] The Koran Interpreted, Oxford: Oxford University Press [World's Classics paperback], 1986.

'Ayyashī, Muhammad b. Mas'ūd al-'Ayyāshī (fl. 9th-10 cent. CE).

  • Tafsır = Tafsīr, 2 vols., Tehran 1380/1961'

The Bāb,  Sayyid `Ali Muhammad Shirazi (1819-1850).

  • Commentary on the Sūra of the Cow (Tafsīr Sūrat al-Baqara) Ms., 59-6.

  • Tafsīr Bismillah Tehran: Bahā'ī Archives, Manuscript 6014C [ pp. 297-312] ).

  • Selections from the Writings of the Bāb (= SWB.) Haifa: Bahā'ī World Centre) 1976.

  •  QA = Qayyūm al asmā’ Afnān Lib. ms.

  • P-Bayan = Bayān i farsī np. nd. [Tihran, Azali ed.]

  • P-Dala’il = Dalā'il i sab`ih. Haifa IBA (ii) mss. (= Nicolas ms.106),104bff. [2] n.p. n.d (Azalī edition [Tehran,196?]) 1 72.

  • K. Ruḥ = Kitāb al rūḥ [incomplete]. Haifa mss.

  • Kh-Jidda = Khuṭba at Jeddah. INBMC 91: 61 81

  • K. Asmā’. = Kitāb al asmā'. INBMC 29. [2] Uncat. mss. Marzieh Gail Coll. Bosch Bahā’ī Library (USA).

  • K. Panj.S = Kitāb i panj sha'n. np.nd. [Tehran Azali ed. 196?]

  • K. Haykal= Haykal al dīn. np.nd [Tehran, Azalī ed. 196?]

Bahā'-Allāh, Mirza Husayn `Ali Nuri (1817-1892 CE).

  • Ayyam-T = Risālih-yi ayyām-i tis`ih.  2nd ed. Los Angeles: Kalimat Press, 1981. 

  •  Ma’idih = `Abd al-Ḥamīd, Ishraq Khāvarī (ed.) Mā'ida-yi āsmānī. vols. 1, 4 & 7 (= writings of Baha'u'llah). Tehran: MMM., 128-9 BE.

  • Majm`a-yi alwāh-i mubraka arat-i Bahā'u'llāh Cairo: 1338 A.H. / [1919-] 1920. Rep. Wilmette, Illinois, 1982.

  • P&M (tr.) =Prayers and Meditations of Bahá'u'lláh [trans. Shoghi Effendi] London: BPT,1957.

  • Munājāt, Majmū`a adhākīr wa ad`iya min āthār ḥaḍrat Bahā' Allāh. Rio de Janeiro: Editora Bahai-Brasil, 138 BE/1981 [= Arab. & Per. text of P&M].

  • Sūrat al-Aṣḥāb (The Surah of the Companions) in AQA 4 (Tehran: BPT. 1968) :205-239.

  • Risāla-yi Tasbīḥ wa Tahlīl. comp. `Abd al-Hamid Ishraq Khavari. Rep. New Delhi: BPT., 1982.

  • Mā'idih-yi asmānī  (= Ma'idih) Ishrāq Khāvarī (comp. ) vol.7 Tehran: Bahā'ī Publishing Trust, 129 Badī`/ 1972-1973.

  • Kitāb-i-Īqān, (trans. Shoghi Effendi) London: Bahā 'ī Publishing Trust, 1961.

  •  ESW* = Lawḥ-i Khiṭāb bi-Shaykh Muḥammad Taqíī Mujtahid-i Iṣfahānī ma`ruf bi Najafī. Cairo: nd. 1338/1919-20.

  •  Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, [= ESW ] (trans. Shoghi Effendi) Wilmette, Ill.: Bahā'ī Publishing Trust, 1971.

  • A Synopsis and Codification of the Kitāb-i-Aqdas.., Haifa: Bahā'ī World Centre, 1973.

  • Tablets of Bahā'u'llāh revealed after the Kitāb-i-Aqdas, Haifa: Bahā'ī World Centre, 1978.

  • Errata to Tablets of Bahā'u'llāh revealed after the Kitāb-i-Aqdas, [np. nd., First Printing 1978].

  • Gleanings from the Writings of Bahā'u'llāh, (trans. Shoghi Effendi) London: Bahā'ī Publishing Trust, 1949.

  • Prayers and Meditations by Bahā'u'llāh, [= P&M] (comp. and trans. Shoghi Effendi) London: Bahā'ī Publishing Trust, 1957.

  • S. Qamīṣ = Sūrat al qamīṣ. AQA 4:XX XXX.

  • K. Badi` = Kitab-i badī` (c.1867). mss., (Pers. Library) [2] Prague: Zero Palm Press 148 BE/1992.

  • Jawahir = Jawāhir al-asrār. AQA 3:4-88 [2] INBMC 46:1ff [3] INBMC 99.

  • K.Badi` = K.badī` (c.1867). mss., (Pers. Library); Prague: Zero Palm Press 148 BE/1992.

  • K.Ta`am = L. kull al-ṭa`ām. INBA 36:268-77; Mā’idih 4:265-76. text comm. and trans. Lambden BSB 3/1 (1984):4-67.

  • KI = Kitāb-i īqān, Hofheim-Langenhain: Bahā'ī-Verlag, 1980/ 136 BE (= rep. K, īqān, Egypt, 1934); Kitáb-i-Iqán: The Book of Certitude (tr. Shoghi Effendi). London: BPT.,1961.

  • L. Ayyūb = (= Sūrat al-ṣabr ). Ma’idih 4: 282-313

  • L. Baha’ = Lawḥ-i Bahā’. Haifa mss. INBMC 35:70-81.

  • L. Creator = `O Thou Creator!’ mss (trans. Hebrew University, Jerusalem).

  • L. H-Qazvini = Lawh-i Ḥajjī Mullā Hadī Qazvīnī. MAM:346-62.\

  • L. Hurufat = [Tafsīr] L. Ḥurūfāt-i muqaṭṭa`ah. Haifa mss. [2] INBMC 36:212-242 ; [3] Mā’idih 4:49-86

  • L. Hikmat = Lawḥ-i Ḥikmat. MAM: 37-53

  • L. Ibn = Lawh-I Ibn-I Insān. IQ: 93ff.

  • L. Khātam = Lawḥ-i Khātam al-nabiyyūn. (mss.).

  • L. Qabl. = Lawḥ-i qabl-i ādam . IQ:68-78 cf. partial tr. SE* GWB: LXXXVII.

  • L. MalikR = Lawḥ-i. Malik-i Rūs. Tablet to Czar Nicolaevitch Alexander II of Russia A. Muluk:121-128.

  • L. Mawlūd = Lawḥ- i mawlūd- i ism-i a`ẓam. Ayyām- i tis`ah, 48-51.

  • L- Milad-i ism-i a`zam I

  • L- Milad-i ism-i a`zam II (Tablet of the Birthday of the Greatest Name) text in Ma'dah vol. 4:342.see also,'-ALLAH/milad-ism.htm

  • L.Mawlūd = Lawḥ- i mawlūd- i ism- I a`ẓam. Ayyām- i tis`a, 48-51.

  • L. Pāp = Lawḥ-i. Pāp (Tablet to the Pope Pius IX) A.Muluk:73-90.

  • L. Sarraj = Lawḥ.-i Sarrāj. (Tablet to `Alī Muhammad Sarrāj), Ma’idih 7:4-118; [2] INBA 73:198-231.

  • L. Shaykh = L. Ibn-i Dhi’b (“Epistle to the son of the Wolff” = ESW)

  • L. Sultan = (Nāṣir al Dīn Shāh) in A. Muluk: 145-201.

  • L. Vikturyia = Lawḥ-i Vikturiya (Queen Victoria), A.Muluk:131-141

  • Qasidah = al-Qaṣīdah `izz al-warqa’iyya (The Mighty Ode of the Dove) Mss. Haifa AQA 3:196-213.

  • Rashh = Rashḥ-i `amā’ . Haifa typsescript in the hand of Zayn al-Muqarrabīn [2] INBA 36:460-1; [3] Ma’idih 4:184-6. tr. Lambden. BSB 2/1 (1983): 4-114.

  • S. Muluk. = Sūrat al-mulūk. A.Muluk:3-69.

  • S. Nush = Sūrah-i nuṣḥ. INBMC 36:242-268.

  • S. Qamīṣ = Sūrat al-qamīṣ. AQA 4:XX-XXX.

  • S. Ziyara = Sūrat al-zīyāra (Surah of the Visitation) for the wife of Mullā Ḥusayn Bushrū’ī, Maidih 8:82-92.

Bayḍawī, 'Abdallāh b. 'Umar al-Bayḍāwī (d. c. 700/1300).

  • Anwar = Anwar al-tanzīl wa-asrār al-ta'wīl, ed. H.O. Fleischer, 2 vols., Leipzig 1846. 
  •  Anwār al-tanzīl wa-asrār al-ta`wīl (The Lights of the revelation and the mysteries of the Exegesis),  Beirut 1988

Bell, Richard.

  • Commentary =  A commentary on the Qur'an, ed. C.E. Bosworth and M.E.J. Richardson, 2 vols., Manchester 1991
  • Qur'an =  The Qur'an. Translated, with a critical re-arrangement of the sūras, 2 vols., Edinburgh 1939; repr. 1960.

Böwering, G.

  • Mystical = The mystical vision of existence in classical Islam. The qur'anic hermeneutics of the Ṣufī  Sahl at-Tustarī (d. 283/896), Berlin 1980

Brockelmann, C.

  • GAL =  Geschichte der arabischen Litteratur, 2nd ed., 2 vols, and 3 vols. suppl, Leiden 1943-9; with new introduction, Leiden 1996.

Dehkhoda, `Alī Akbar,

  • Lughat-nameh.. fasicle sīn entry `Sidrat al-muntahā', p. 375 (1st ed. 194?) + CDRom.

Fayḍī, Muhammad `Alī,

  • La'āli'-yi  darakhshān, Tehran: Bahā'ī Publishing Trust, 123 Badī` / 1965-6.

Al-Ghazali, `Abd al-Hamid.

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Görg, M

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  • `Gihon' in Anchior Bible Dictionary CD Rom.  

Gouda, Yehia.

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Greenwood, Ned H.

  • 1997.  The Sinai, A Physical Geography. Austin: University of Texas Press,  1997.

Holley, Horace (Comp.),

  • Baha'i Scriptures. New York: Brentano's,  1923; 2nd ed  New York: Baha'i Publishing Committee,1928.

  • Glossary, p.558 reads "Sadrat-El-Muntaha -- the tree planted by Ancient Arabs at the end of a road to guide travelers; symbolically, the Manifestation [of God] in the day of his influence".

al-Huwayzī, ADD  (d. 1112/1700),

 [Tafsīr ] Nūr al-thaqalayn  ("Commentary expressive of the Light of the Twin Weights") ADD


Ibn al-`Arabī, Shaykh Muḥyī al-Din (ADD).

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  • (trans.) Arthur Jeffrey  ADD rep.  Lahore: Aziz Publishers, 1980.

  • Kitāb al-isrā' ilā maqām al-asrā... in Rasa'il Ibn `Arabi.. ADD

  • Alchemie =   L’Alchemie du bonheur. Trans. S. Ruspoli. Paris: Berg International

  • Futuhat  =  al‑Fuṭūḥāt al‑Makkiyya. 4 Vols. Beirut: Dār Ṣadir n.d. [1968 = Cairo Ed.1911].

  • FutuhatY =  al‑Fuṭūḥāt al‑Makkiyya. Ed. O. Yaḥyā. Cairo: al‑Hay`a  al‑Miṣriyya al‑`Amma  li’l‑kitāb.  1972 (ongoing 14+ vols.), 1405/1985.

  • Insha =  Kitāb Inshā’ al‑dawā’ir.   `Ālam al‑Fikr. n.d.

  • Iluminations = Les Illuminations de La Mecque. The Meccan Illuminations. Al-Fuṭûhât al-Makkiyya. Textes choisis / Selected Texts présentés et traduits de l'arabe en français ou en anglais sous la direction de Michel Chodkiewicz, avec la collaboration de William C. Chittick, Cyrille Chodkiewicz, Denis Gril et James W. Morris. Ouvrage publié avec le concours de The Rothko Chapel. Paris: Sindbad, 1988.

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  •  Rasa’il  = Rasā'il Ibn al-`Arabī.  Hyderabad-Deccan: Dairatu'l‑Ma`arifi'l‑Osmasnia, 1948

  • Gryphon = Islamic Sainthood in the Fullness of Time, Ibn al‑`Arabī’s Book of the Fabulous Gryphon. Gerald T. Elmore. Leiden: Brill, 1999

  • Wujud = Risāla al‑wujūdiyya  (Treatise on Existence’  trans. `Whoso Knoweth Himself..` Abingdon: Beshara Publications, 1976[88].

  • Rasā’il = Rasā’il Ibn al‑`Arabī. ed. Afifi. Rep. Beirut: Dār Iḥyā al‑turuth al‑`arabī. Nd.

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Ibn Ishāq, Muhammad b. Ishaq,

  • Sıra = Sīrat rasūl Allah (recension of 'Abd al-Malik b. Hishām), ed. F. Wüstenfeld, Göttingen 1858-60.
  •  Repr. Beirut n.d.;
  • ed. Mustafā al-Saqqa et al., 4 vols, in 2, 2nd ed., Cairo 1955
  • Ibn Ishaq-Guillaume The life of Muhammad. A translation of Ibn Ishaq's Sırat rasul Allah, trans. A. Guillaume, Oxford 1955.
  • Repr. Karachi 1967

Ibn Kathīr, 'Imād al-Dīn Ismā'īl b. 'Urnar b. Kathīr  (d. 774/1373).

  • Bidaya = al-Bidāya wa-l-nihāya, 14 vols., Beirut/ Riyadh 1966; repr. Beirut 1988
  • Fadā'il  =  Faḍā'il al-Qur'ān, Beirut 1979
  • Tafsīr =  Tafsīr al-Qur'an al-'azīm, ed. 'Abd al-'Azīz Ghunaym et al, 8 vols., Cairo 1390/1971
  •  4 vols., Cairo n.d.;
  • repr. Beirut 1980
  • Tafsīr al-qur'ān al-'azīm,  1 vol. ed.  Beirut Dār Ibn Ḥazm, 1420 / 2000. *

Ibn Khaldūn, 'Abd al-Rahmān b. Khaldūn ( ADD/ADD)

  • 'Ibar = Kitāb al-'Ibar, ed. Naşr al-Hūrīnī, 7 vols., Bùlaq 1284-7/ 1867

Ibn Khaldūn-Rosenthal 

  •  The Muqaddimah, trans. F. Rosenthal, 3 vols., New York 1958; and rev. ed., Princeton 1967

Ibn al-Nadīm, Muhammad b. Ishaq b. al-Nadīm ( ADD/ADD)

     • Fihrist = Kitāb al-Fihrist, ed. G. Flügel, 2 vols., Leipzig 1871-2. • ed. Ridā Tajaddud, Tehran 1971. • ed., Beirut 1988

Ibn al-Nadīm-Dodge

  • The Fihrist of al-Nadīm, trans. B. Dodge, 2 vols., New York/London 1970

Jeffery, Arthur.

  • 1938 Foreign vocabulary of the Qur'an, Baroda 1938

al-Jīlī,`Abd al-Karīm ( ADD/ADD)

  • al-Insān al-Kāmil.. . (2 vols. in 1) Cairo:  Shirkat Maktaba wa Matba`ah Mustafa al-Babi al-Halabi, 1375/1956.

Kāshānī, Mullā Muḥsin Fayḍ Kāshānī (d. 730/1330).

  • Safi =  al-Ṣafī  fī tafsīr kalām Allāh al-wafī, ed. Husayn al-A'lamī, 5 vols., Beirut 1399/1979.
  • ADD

Kisā'ī, Muhammad b. 'Abdallāh al-Kisā'ī,

  • Kisa'i-Eisenberg = Vita prophetarum auctore Muhammed ben 'Abd-Allāh al-Kisā'ī, ed. Isaac. Eisenberg, 2 vols., Leiden 1922-3.

Klijn, A.F.J.

  • 1977   Seth in Jewish, Christian and Gnosric Literatures. Leiden: E.J. Brill.

Kuli Khan, `Ali

  • (trans.),

Lane, E.W.

  • Lexicon = An Arabic-English lexicon, 1 vol. in 8 parts., London 1863-93; New York 1955-6.
  • Repr. 2 vols., Cambridge 1984.. Beirut rep ADD +  CD-Rom

Lane, E.W.,

  • An Arabic-English Lexicon, Cambridge: Islamic Texts Society Trust, 1984.


Lambden, Stephen,

  • The Sinaitic Mysteries: Notes on Moses/Sinai Motifs in Bābī and Bahā'ī Scripture in M. Momen (Ed), Studies in Honour of the Late Hasan M. Balyuzi, Los Angeles: Kalimat Press, 1988.

Maybudī, Rashīd al-dīn ( ADD/ADD)

  • Kashf al-asrār wa `uddat al-abrār,  vol. 13 (Ed. `Alī Asghar Hikmat 10 Vols.) Tehran: Intishārāt Dānishgāhī, 1952-60.

Māzandarānī, Fāḍil-i,

  • Asrār al-athar, vol. 4 Tehran: Bahā'ī Publishing Trust, 129 Badī`/ 1972-3.

Montgomery Watt, W.,

  • Muhammad's Mecca, History in the Quran, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press 1988.

Mujāhid, Abū’l-Ḥajjaj Mujāhid b. Jabr,

  • Tafsīr = al-Tafsir, ed. 'Abd al-Rahmān b. Tāhir b. Muhammad al-Suwartī, Qatar 1976;

Muqātil b. Sulayman, [al-Balkhī / al-Khurāsānī] (d. Basra 150 /767),

  • Tafsīr Muqātil b. Sulayman,  ed. `Abd‑Allāh Maḥmūd Shakḥata.  4+1 vols. Cairo: 1979‑1988.

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al-Qāshānī, `Abd al-Razzāq, (comp.)

  • al-Iṣtilaḥāt al-sūfīyyah ("Sufi Lexicon") (trans. Nabil Safwat) A Glossary of Sufi Technical Terms (includes the Arabic text) London: Octagon Press Ltd., 1991.

Qarshāyy,`Alī Akbar,

  • Qamūs-i Qur'ān, Vol. 3 Tehran: Dār al-kutub al-islāmiyya, 1352 Sh.

Qummī, Abū’l-Ḥasan 'Alī b. Ibrāhīm al-Qummī

  • Tafsīr =, Tafsīr, ed. Tayyib al-Mūsāwī al-Jazā'irī, 2 vols., Najaf 1387/1967
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 Rashti, Sayyid Kāẓim (d. 1260/1843).

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Rāzī, Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī

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  • Tehran n.d.;
  • Beirut 1981


Rāzi, Ḥusayn b. 'Alī Rāzī = Abu’l-Futūḥ  (ADD)

  • Rawḥ = Rawḥ al-jinān wa-rūḥ al-janān, 12 vols., Tehran I282-7/ 1962-5; 5 vols.
  • ADD Qumm n.d

Rippin, Andrew.,

  • `SIDRAT AL-MUNTAHĀ'  in EI2 Vol. IX p.550.

al-Samarqandī,  Abu’l-Layth, Naṣr b. Muhammad b. Aḥmad ( ADD/ADD)

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Shoghi Effendi (c.1896-1957 CE).,

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Sulamī, Abū 'Abd al-Raḥmān Muhammad b. al-Ḥusayn al-Sulamī  ( ADD/ADD)

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Sulaymanī, `Azīzu'llāh,

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al-Suyūṭī, Jalāl a-Dīn (d. 911/1505) +  Jalal al-Din al-Maḥallī (d. 864/1459)

al-Suyūtī, Jalāl al-Din Muhammad b. Aḥmad al-Mahallī and Jalāl al-Dīn

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Tha'labī [al-Nīsābūrī], Abū Isḥāq Aḥmad b. Muhammad b. Ibrāhīm al-Tha'labī (d. 427/ 1035).

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al-Ṭabarī, Abū Ja'far Muhammad b. Jarīr al-Ṭabarī (d.  310/922)

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Ṭabarsī, Abū 'Alī  al-Faḍl b. al-Ḥasan al-Tabarsī, (ADD/ADD).

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al-Tabrizī , Walī al-Dīn ibn 'Abd Allah (d. 749/1348).

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al-Tūsī, Muhammad b. al-Ḥasan al-Tūsī  (d.740/1067)

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Tustarī, Sahl ibn 'Abd-Alları al-Tustarī (d. 283/ ADD)

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Van-Ollenbach, Aubrey.

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al-Tustari, Sahl.,

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Zamakhsharī, Maḥmūd b. 'Umar al-Zamakhsharī  (d.538/1144). 

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  •  ed. Muhammad 'Abd al-Salām Shāhīn, 4 vols., Beirut 1995.

Zarandī, Mullā Muhammad (Nabīl) (d. 1892 CE).

    • Tarīkh / The Dawn-Breakers: Nabil's Narrative of the Early Days of the Bahá'í Revelation. Trans. and ed. by Shoghi Effendi Wilmette: BPT, 1974