The Risāla fi'l-nubuwwa al-khāṣṣa
("Trestise on the specific prophethood [of Muhammad]")
Some introductory Notes and Excerpts in Transslation.
Stephen Lambden UC Merced
In progress 1980s + 2017+2021
As noted, it was Manūchihr Khān himself who asked the Bāb at the house of the Imam Jum`a of Isfahan, to write a treatise on al-nubuwwa al-khāṣṣa, the "specific prophethood" of the Arabian Prophet Muhammad (c.570-632 CE). Some Sunnī writers, including Ibn al-`Arabī (d. 638 /1240) and numerous of his Sunnī and Shī`ī devotees, have distinguished nubuwwa `amma ("The Prophetic Office") and nubuwwa khāṣṣa ("The Specific Prophetic Office" i.e. of -----). We may cite as an example, Sharaf al‑Dīn Dāwūd al‑Qayṣarī (d.751/1350), a student of the Shi`i Sufi `Abd al‑Razzāq Kashānī (d. c. 832/1428) the well-known author of the al-Insān al-kāmil (Thwe Perfect Man...). Qayṣarī wrote an important commentary on the Fuṣuṣ al‑ḥikam of Ibn al‑`Arabī. Within this massive and dense work Qayṣarī several times uses the prophetological terminology al‑nubūwwa al‑khāṣṣa (specific prophethood) as differentiated from al‑nubūwwa al‑`amma (general prophethood). The former relates to dimensions of the prophethood of a specific, comissioned prophet figure (nabī) while the latter has to do with the explication of general principles of the eternal nature, office and rank of prophethood. At the opening of the section of his commentary upon the `Ringstone of the wisdom (ḥikma) of prophecy (nubūwiyya) in the utterance [Word] of Jesus (kalimat `isawiyya). Qayṣarī writes:
Now as regards the attribution of the wisdom of prophecy (nubūwiyya) relative to the word of Jesus (kalimat `isawiyya) he [Jesus] is a prophet (nabī) according to general prophethood (bi‑al‑nubuwwa al‑`amma) which is eternal without beginning and everlasting without end (azal an abad an ) as well as according to the specific prophethood (bi‑al‑nubuwwa al‑khāṣṣa) which is actualized at the moment of arising with the [time of the prophetic] commission (ḥīn al‑ba`th). Wherefore did he [Jesus] announce his prophethood from the cradle through his saying, "He has given me the Book and he made me a prophet (nabiyy an)" (Q. 19:30b) and he [also] made announcement from the womb of his mother (fī baṭn ummuhi) on account of his eternal sovereignty (siyāda azaliyya) by means of His saying, "Grieve not for thy Lord has made beneath you [Mary] a rivulet" (Q.19:24), that is to say a sovereign [sayyid an = Jesus] over the people. Thus was he [Jesus] granted supremacy over the [other] prophets (al‑anbiyā ’) through the instrumentality of the spiritual ones (aḥwāl al‑ruḥāniyyīn) . His proclamation (du`a) was thus centered upon the interior realities (al‑bāṭin) which are supremely ascendent (aghlab)... [spefic] legalistic prophethood (al‑nubuwwa al‑tashrī`ayya) is the collective concern of various [specific] prophets (al‑anbiyā’) .. (Qayṣarī, Sh. Fuṣuṣ, 843).
It is clear from this passage that al‑nubūwiyya al‑khāṣṣa (specific prophethood) has it earthly genesis at the time of the prophetic call while al‑nubūwiyya al‑`amma (general prophethood) is al‑azaliyya, an all eternal phenomenon. The bearer of the office (ṣāḥīb hadha maqām) of general prophethood holds it eternally. Eternal realities are communicated by the prophets and the al‑awliyā’ (intimates of God, "saints") for al‑nubūwiyya al‑`amma (general prophethood) results in wilayā (divine guidance).
Is is possible, if not probable, that the Bāb's approach to his Risāla fī al‑nubuwwa al‑khāṣṣa (Treatise on the Specific Prophethood [of Muhammad]) exhibits the earlier influence of the prophetological terminology of the school of Ibn `Arabī as this was influential upon the Sufi and related groups (such as the Dhahabiyya) operative in and around early Qajar Shiraz.
Thus, in summary,
- 1) al-nubuwwa `al-amma ("general prophethood") designates the theory of the prophetic office in general terms as it applies to all those considered prophets;
- 2) al-nubuwwa al-khāṣṣa ("specific prophethood") is includes the basic historical and theological dimensions of the concrete prophetic career of a given prophet figure (nabī) within Islamic (= Muhammad) or pre-Islamic ( e.g. Israelite) salvation history. The Bab's treatise was thus about the concrete figure of the prophet Muhammad (d. 632 CE) though his treatment of the Arabian Prophet is not simple concrete history. It often brings into focus a very exalted theophanological theory of the maẓhariyya of the Prophet.
This work, which contains interesting acrostic type explanations of the names of Adam and Muhammad as well as `ilm al-ḥurūf (number letter) informed speculations oriented around the chronology of the latter's mission, the Bāb identifies the mashiyya ("divine will") as the bearer of the nubuwwa khāṣṣa in the being or body of the prophet Muhammad (see INBMC 14:321-333b).
The Risāla fi'l-nubuwwa al-khāṣṣa
(The Treatise relating to the Specific Prophethood [of Muhammad]).
BEING REVISED 2009-10+2021
Extracts in Beta provisional translation
Stephen N. Lambden, UC Merced = Last updated 27-07-2021.
In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate
 Praise be to God who made the ornament of the [Archetypal] Tablets [of Destiny] (ṭaraz al-alwāḥ) the Book of Authorization (kitāb al-idhn) which is the ornament of the Point (ṭaraz al-nuqṭah) singled out after such was willed and decreed [by God].  This before it was consummated and authorized, at the moment in which Thou elevated and determined that deliverance which causes the radiant essences of existing things (jawharāyāt kaynūniyyāt al-mutasha`sha`āt) to sparkle in the realities of the denizens of the divine Realm (ahl al-lāhūt).  This to the end that all existing things might come to know the station of the gnosis of the Divine Attributes (maqām al-`irfān al-ṣifāt) in the light of God's Self-manifestation (tajallī) in the station of the gnosis of the theophany of the divine Essence (maqām `irfān ẓuhār al-dhāt).  He, verily, no God is there except Him. For an eternity of eternities there was no reality alongside Him, apart, that is, from His Own Logos-Self.  And it is not possible in contingent existence to make adequate mention of His Own Logos-Self (nafsihi) for the essential Divinity of His Pristine Essence (al-dhātāya al-sāzijāya?), its Existent Reality (kaynānāyatihā), is detached from created things (al-badāyāt), from the level of human gnosis (maqām al-`irfān) and the limitations of the pathways of the revealed verses (subul al-āyāt). It is thus detached from clear exposition.  This since the Divine Essence is transcendent. None knows the extent of Its Existent Reality (kaynānāya). The nature of Its eternality is beyond description.  There can be no characterization of Its sublime Isolatedness (ṣamadāniyya) for what is other than Him is found to be in the station of contingent existence by virtue of [secondary] realities which come into being (maqām al-imkān bi'l-ibdā`) and exist relative to the station of existent realities by virtue of their being originated (bi'l-ikhtirā`).  Praised be He and exalted be He who was Eternally described by His Own Logos-Self and whose Essential Reality (dhātihi) is the singularity of His Own Logos-Self (nafs). And none knows how He is except He Himself. Praised and exalted be He above that which hath been described.
 And Praised be to God Who originated all that He willed by virtue of His Logos-Command (amr)  And Who made existing realities the quintessence of abstraction [from His Essence] (mujarradāt al-mujarratāt) to be a sign of His Eternity without Beginning (azaliyyatihi) and of His handiwork (handasatihi), relative, that is to the station of  His Divine Intention (maqām irādatihi) and His Proof in the station of His Mercifulness (maqām ramatihi) .  This in view of the reverberations of all things in the world of Names and Attributes through the reverberations of the theophanic traces of His Self-Subsisting Reality in the world of powers (`ālam al-jabarūt) and the qualities (shu'ūnāt) of the theophanic disclosures of divine Justice and Bounty (maẓāhir al-`adl wa'l-faḍl) on the levels of the worldly dominion and heavenly kingdom (mulk wa'l-malakūt).  This perchance no single being should be veiled from the theophany disclosures of His Countenance (ẓūhurār arat tal`atihi) and vision Him outwardly as a -------- [text unclear] Lordly Cause (mājid rābbānihi?).  No God is there save Him, One Living (al-ḥayy) in the Being of His Essence (kaynāniyyat al-dhāt); One Self-Subsisting through the essential reality of His Attributes (ṣifāt).  In view of the sublimity of His Grandeur it cannot be proposed that even the most elevated, abstracted mountain heights (shawāmikh al-jardāt [mujarradāt]) in the worlds of the mirrored reflections (`awālim al-mārayāt) ascend up unto Him.  It is not conceivable that He should be manifested unto the holy, sanctified atmosphere of the bird of the human hearts through the such manifestations as occupy the worlds of total being(`awālim al-kulliyāt).
 So praised and elevated be He, majestic and supreme is the sanctity of His Self-Subsistent Being, beyond the possibility that the hands of existing realities should grasp Him  or that it be reckoned possible to know His transcendent Essence by virtue of the modes of existing levels of being  or indeed that His Logos-Self (nafs) [should be fully disclosed] relative to any of the transcendental levels (fī maqām al-`allāmāt).  So praised and elevated be He! Whosoever has made claim to the gnosis of the substance of His Essence (`irfān kunh dhāthihi) hath assuredly meandered along the byways of impossibility (subul al-imtinā').  And this is not possible relative to even the extremity of the hidden depths of the Divine transcendence.  This since interior knowledge (al-ma`rifat) is an aspect of connectedness, and He, exalted be His mention, hath never, for all eternity, been associated with His creation and cannot be described by any metaphorical definition, nor adequately characterized by any novel theophany (ẓuhār ibdā`a )
 And praise be to God Who produced all ? for the station (?) of the gnosis of the appearance of His Justice. This to the end that all of the (pre-eternal) atoms of contingent realities (dhārrāt al-mumkināt) might testify from the Originator of Causes, unto the termination of the shadows which are the deaf and the common folk, the blind and the lame (?).  This since God has testified unto Muhammad, His Beloved, whom He singled out in Pre-existence (qidam) for the knowledge of His Bounty above the remainder of contingent realities, and selected him for the station of His wilāya (providential guidance) above all mere earthly beings.
 Now since the light of the Logos-command has dawned forth from the court of the mighty, sublime presence and the supremely transcendent excellence, who is one nigh unto his eminence the king [Muhammad Shāh, r. 1834-1848](ḥaḍrat al-khāqān), Mu`tammid Dawlih al-Sulṭān ("the trusted one of the state of the Sovereign") -- may God bestow rest through the shadow of his favor upon one alienated from His patronage --  and thus enabled him to communicate, what was destined to be realized at the ordinance of his origin and his end, unto the servant [the Bāb] who dwells in the dusky shadows of the Mercy of God and His Bounty.  This that I might make mention of the clarification of the mystery of His Oneness (sirr al-aḥadiyya) in the establishment of the specific prophethood (al-nubuwwat al-khāṣṣa), [of Muhammad]  which is expressive of the tokens of Eternality (li'l-ā`yāt al-azaliyyat), the mystery of Lordship (al-rabbāniyya), the Divine Light (al-nūr al-ilāhiyya), the Merciful Remembrance (al-dhikr al-raḥmānāya) and the glorious disclosure of the Divine Theophany (al-ẓuhār al-mutajalliyya).  Such were not completely enshrined in the abstracted form [of Muhammad, but relative to his Reality there is the matter of] the Universal Soul (al-nafs al-kulliyya), the Primordial Reality (al-awwalī), the divinely theophanic Reality (al-lāhūtiyya) as well as the Mercy-laden Outstretched (al-wāsilat?), Pristine (jalāyat), Engaged (al-qaba).  And [which is] the shimmering, radiating, transcendent Countenance and the Sanctified, Brilliant , Lordly Temple (al-haykal), which is the Dawning-Place of the Oriental, Pristine, Enrobed Reality which was made manifest through the secret mystery of the publicly visible Muhammadan expression of the Divine Oneness (sirr al-aḥadiyya), may the blessings of God be upon him and his family.  This inasmuch as the Sun of creativity (shams al-badiyya) dawned forth at the outset [of his prophetic disclosure] and the Sun of the apocalyptic end (shams al-nihāya) did set at the latter-day conclusion [of his mission].
 And when his [religious] Cause (amr) rose up and ordained dictates requiring action were decreed on the level of things prohibited, this was [from?] God.  And  he followed His command and trusted in God relative to the appearance of what God ordained through the [appearance of the heavenly] star (al-kiyān) in existence (bi'l-wujūd) [which was visible] through the outward vision (al-`ayān).  And he [Muhammad] it is that God established as eternally without peer alongside Him. And eternally was he existing in the likeness of what cannot possibly be regularly mentioned in the light of the fact that   this Universal Soul (al-nafs al-kullāya) is the basis (?) of the specific prophethood (al-nubuwwat al-khāṣṣa) in the temple of the body of Muhammad, the Messenger of God for He is totally unique.  The descent of the Primal Point (al-nuqṭa al-awwalāya?) and its arrival on the bodily level (maqām al-jasadāya) is not possible except in the Bodily Temple (al-haykal) in which he was born -- may my soul be a sacrifice unto him -- since the signs of his uniqueness were apparent to all at the moment of his birth for they were not apparent save in his being.
 So, at the moment at which his body was made manifest there was written upon his shoulder the signs of Prophethood (āyāt al-nubuwwat) in such wise that no one other than he [Muhammad] could possibly estimate the magnitude of this mighty affair.  Then, when he was established in the renown of absolute, universal Prophethood (fī dhikr al-nubuwwa al-muṭlaqa al-kullāya) and the primordial, eternal wilāya (al-wilāya al-awwāliyya al-azaliyya)  is was impossible that he [Muhammad] should hold back from the commencement of an action nigh [this would precipitate] the very cessation of the world of multiplicity (`ālam al-katharat) which is [nothing other than] the visible, world  of bodies (`ālam al-ajsād).  His [absolute prophetological] Being and the form of its essence (haykal dhātāyatihi) appeared unto the onlooker in the personalized Temple of his [Muhammad's]purified body (haykal jasadihi al-āhir).  It's foundation is subtle (laṭif) for God did not ordain any origin for its [Muhammad's body's] existence since it is impossible that the manifestation of the divine Will (ẓuhār al-mashāya) be actualized in this world except in that form in which Muhammad the Messenger of God appeared.  This inasmuch as the genesis [of Muhammad's body] was not made manifest except on the level of the seal (rutbat al-khatm).  And the Intellect (al-`aql) was assuredly made manifest in that he who is the genesis of the divine Bounty (mabdā' al-fayḍ) on the primordial level (fā maqām al-rutbat al-awwalā) [= Muhammad] could not possibly complete his manifestation save through the seal (al-khatm).  Never did anyone appear like unto him. Wherefore was Muhammad the Messenger of God, who is the Opener (al-fātiḥ) when he goes before and the Seal (al-khātam) when he moves foreword, and the Help in Peril...
.. inasmuch as the name of his father is `Abd Allāh ibn `Abd al-Muṭālib ibn Hāshim ibn `Abd al-Manāf since he was made manifest on account of the origin of the Cause [matter] (mubādā al-amr). He is naught except the manifestation of his servitude before God, praised be He, in the worlds of command and creation (al-amr wa'l-khalq) 
.. the [locus of ] specific prophethood (nubuwwa al-khaṣṣa) in his [Muhammad's] pure body (jasad al-ṭāhir) the like of which was alluded to by Imam Abu Ja`far [al-Ṣādiq, the sixth twelver Imam] in his speech [delivered] when he was asked about the [physical] appearance of the Prophet of God. He said, `The Prophet of God was ---- white, reddish, black-eyed, having conjoined eyebrows ( al-ājibān)...
in this world, thus, in the likeness of Muhammad, the Messenger of God,
"There is no difference between him and between Me [God] except that he [Muhammad] is His servant and His creation". Thus there is not in the created realms anything comparable to the name Muhammad since the letter م "M" (mīm) is the first of the letters of the divine Will (م al-mashiyya) So when that letter appeared is his name it was a proof that he is in the Pillar of the element Fire which comprises all of the levels of the degrees of receptivity and receivership since the degree of beginning is in his [Muhammad's] name. When it is interlinked with the level of receivership (maqbūl) it's number becomes forty [4 X 10 = 40, abjad mīm = 40). And that is the completion of the levels which God promised unto Moses on the primordial Mount [Sinai] (al-ṭūr al-awwāl). Thus did God, exalted be His mention, say, "We promised Moses thirty nights which We completed [them] with ten. Thus was completed the times of his Lord, forty nights" [30+10 = 40; Q.xx:xx ] [and] nothing is ruined except a letter  of the divine Unity (ḥarf al-tawḥīd) for from the letter م "M" (mīm), when the limits of receptivity (qābilāyat) and receivership (maqbūliyyat) are taken away, does not ruin (X) other than four letters which establishes the levels of reality (marātib al-ḥaqīqa) for it is not possible that they be established in existence other than through them (??).
And that letter م (M), when it is numerologically computed, manifests the second letter of his noble [4 lettered] name [Ar. محمد = م ح م د = Muhammad] which is [ the Arabic letter] ح ( ḥ ) the [abjad ] numerical [value] of which is eight. So when that letter descended it resulted in the image of the first letter for the possessors of wisdom do not know what this is except in the light of .. and this is on the level of the element fire (al-nār).. it is the letter M (al-mīm) which is the completion of (?) a theophany of a sign operative on the level of the element Air (al-hawā') ... with the mystery of the four and the first letter the number of which corresponds with the number of the letters of the word "Air" (al-hawā'). Therein is a sacred allusion and throne associated proofs (dalālāt `arshāya), wondrous signs[ verses] and
For the letter د "D" (dāl) is among the darkened letters (al-hurūf al-`alamāniyya). It is a letter indicative of self identity, I-ness (al-ḥarf al-aniyya) and a sign of limitation (al-ḥaddiyya) on the Muhammadan level
INBMC 134: 344
And as for zamān ("time"). This is that which is realized through the rising and setting of the spheres [planets] (aflak) It has a beginning and an end Thus when man testifies unto the reality of this explanation he estimates that he is aware of the moment when the body (jism) of Muhammad has appeared in the world of time (`ālam al-zamān) which is [in fact] the appearance al-mashiyya (the Divine Will) in the Primal Creation (al-khalq al-awwāl).  And after that explanation is the existence of the manifestation of the Prophet established through the soul-oriented proofs (bi-dālālāt al-nafsāniyya) in the year which is one hundred and three [years from] from the [commencement of the] seventh millennium (fā sana al-thālith wa'l-māta min al-alf al-sābi`). And it was necessary that his name his attributes be such as God had written down [especially] for him and selected for him aside from [the generality of] His creation;including such matters as : the assumption of the evening prayer (ṣalāt al-layl); the stipulation of nine women (ḥukm al-nisā' fī al-tis`a); [as welll as] what God selected for him [Muhammad] of the levels of his prophethood (aḥkām nubuwwatihi) and the circumstances of his mission.
This since it is impossible that He should verify the foregoing in the station (maqām) which God intimated with respect to him
[Muhammad] in His Book [the Qur'ān].
Through divine inspiration (al-waḥy) [in the Qur'an] there is reference to the station where God says
with respect to his [Muhammad's] truth,
"And when he [Muhammad?] was on the Supreme Horizon (al-ufq al-a`lā). Then he drew nigh and came down until he was but two bows length or even nearer and he revealed unto his slave what he revealed. The heart lied not when it saw. Will ye then dispute with him concerning what he did see? And verily he saw him yet another time. By the Lote Tree beyond which there is no passing [Lote-Tree the Extremity], nigh unto which is the garden of the Abode. When that which enshroudeth did enshroud the Lote-Tree. The eye turned not aside nor yet was overbold. Verily he saw one of the greater revelations of his Lord." (Q. 53:7-18)
And since it is impossible to estimate that knowledge of descents and geometries (CORRECT ?`ilm al-hadārāt wa handasāyāt) should encompasses him and that beyond these allusions he established the Cause which is the Path which is other than that which hath been manifested in the Bayān, .....
everything which hath been singled out in the Bayān is pertinent to the establishment of prophethood (al-nubuwwat), for the realization of the Aḥmadī Temple. He is upon the Inner Path (sabīl al-bāṭin) and the completion of the exposition (al-bayān) upon the outer Path (sabīl al-ẓāhir).. the station of.. the forty so there appeared the ten after the thirty [=40] in the level of the conjunction. And thus did God make the name of the First Dhikr (dhikr al-awwāl) which is Adam in accordance with what was manifested in this world .
his mission in Mecca thirteen years for the manifestation of the sanctified Temples in the precinct of God (ḥaram Allāh) from His Self and in order that he might teach all its sanctified environment /habitation (sukunat) upon this earth
the number of years were established.
It verily is the totality. And the ten is the upon  all Names and Attributes.
And he who [Manuchihr Khān] desired that he would prove that the specific prophethood (al-nubuwwat al-khaṣṣa)
was in the clay of `aliyyiīn ("transcendence") and not a man previously of the religion of Islam.
And when he heard a verse of the Qur'ān he believed at that very moment in Him
since aside from that Book there is no befitting proclamation of His mystery..
And in every letter of it there is treasured a mighty sign from One Powerful, Forgiving as if it is in
the station of the theophany [manifestation] (maqām al-ẓuhār) of that blessed sign.
If We sent down this Qur'ān upon a mountain you would assuredly see it humbled (khāshi`atan).
He proclaims (?) the fear of God (khashiyat Allāh?); and these parables (al-imthāl) he expoundeth for the people perchance they might understand.
And today all who desire to enter into the religion of Muhammad, the Apostle of God and the wilāya ("Guidance") of his chosen saints (awliyā') according to insight such that the reality be realized and they enter the gnosis of the Qur'ān (`irfān al-qur'ān) since it is a sign of the bosom/heart from the All-Merciful (jaybat min al-raman) . It cannot reckoned that there should come anyone among humanity (al-insān) like unto him to succeed him being established in miracles (al-mu`jizāt) through soul-like signs (bi-'l-āyāt al-anfusā ya) and the horizon-like proofs (wa'l-dalālāt al-ufqāāya) [see Q. ] in the establishment of prophethood (nubuwwat) for all such as are before him (?) breeze of the musk from the justice (al-ināf). And all of that is the source of their gnosis which culminateth unto the gnosis of the soul (`irfān al-nafs) and its consent (qubāl) though in the Qur'ān is the bosom (al-fu`ād) made firm, the spirit (al-rā) made tranquil and the soul (al-nafs) contented and the body (al-jasad) refreshed. And for it [them] is a trace in existence (āthar fā'l-wujād) that God did not make for other than Him (?). And he/it at the assembling is the greatest of the signs of God (āyāt Allāh) in the station of inner significance (maqām al-ma`ānā) and of the letters (al-urāf). And not a thing returns unto him of the bodily miracles (al-mu`jizāt al-jismāya)  since there is nothing in existence more noble than speech (al-kalām). And thus did God make articulate speech (al-bayān) between Him and between His pure ones (afiyā'ihi). And He was eternally nigh unto such as are stretched out between the True One (al-aqq) [God] and the creation (al-khalq). Thus was He the greatest of the signs/miracles (al-āyāt) in view of the fact that in the Qur'ān all miracles are evident (āhirat)..
Now as for the grades of the
Thus it was from the proof of the gnosis of the Essence (ḥujjat `irfān al-dhāt) for the gnosis is in accordance with the direction of Reality and the Perfection (al-aqāqat wa'l-kamāl) just as is alluded to by the Imam in most of the stations of gnosis (maqāmāt al-`irfān). Wherefore did `Alā say in the Du`a al-sabah ("Dawn Supplication"),
"O Thou Whose proof is by virtue of Thine Essence, through Thine Essence (dhātihi bi-dhātihi)."
And further when `Alī the son of Ḥusayn (= the 4th Imām, Zayn al-`Abidān) stated in his supplication for Abu Hamzah al-Thamxlx,
"Through Thee doth I know Thee and Thou art my proof of Thee and thou do supplicate Me with respect to thee (?) and if it were not for Thee I would not [realize] Thee."
And there is also what He, exalted be He, hath said in terms of what was revealed in the Gospel (nuzul fī al-injīl),
"Know thyself! and thou shalt know Thy Lord. Thine exterior being is for annihilation (li'l-fanā') while thine interior being is I, Myself".
And the gnosis (al-irfān) accords with the proofs (al-dalāla) ...