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Bab - Sharḥ kayfiyyat al-mi`rāj - Lambden Translation

Sayyid `Ali Muhammad Shirazi (1819-1850),

The Bab

Sharḥ kayfiyyat al-mi`rāj





Introductory Notes.

Stephen Lambden

The Sharḥ kayfiyyat al-mi`rāj  (Commentary upon the  modality of the Mi`rāj [of the Prophet Muḥammad]) ia slao known as the Risāla fī'l-jasad al-nabī  (Treatise upon the [translocation of the] body of the Prophet [Muḥammad]). 

Select mss.

  • CUL F.21 [9] Q14. `On the Mi'rāj (Night Journey) [cf. Qur'an 17:1f] in the Land of Ṣād (Isfahān) (pp. 104-106).
  • (1+2) INBA 6016C: 388-390 = INBMC 14:390-2) [translated here],
  • (3) INBMC 40:197-8,
  • (4) INBMC 53: 404-404,
  • (5) INBMC 69 : 416-8,
  • (6) Cambridge, Browne mss. F.21 item 14.



Translation Stephen Lambden

1990s+2006-7 - being revised and updated,

Last uploaded 08-10-2015.


Risāla fī'l-jasad al-nabī 

 of the Bāb



In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.

[1] Praise be to God Who hath manifested Himself (tajallī) within and through existing realities by virtue of the theophany (bi-ẓuhūr) of His Divine Will (al-mashiyyat). [2] This to the end that He might inform all levels of contingent reality (mumkināt) that God made the realities (ḥaqā'iq) of the essences (dhātiyyāt)  of their various beings (kaynūniyyāt) through modes of the Divine Activity (maqāmāt al-fi`al) and manifestations of passive receptivity (ẓuhūrāt al-infi`āl). [3] This until all were befittingly instructed about the station (maqām) of His Logos-Self (nafs) and initiated into His wisdom (ḥikma) respecting its genesis (mabda') as accords with what God decreed for it on every level. [4] This  such that it might be realized that  there is no finality (nihāya) [for the Logos-Self] either before it, through it or towards it. [5] On the level of contingent existence (al-imkān) He doth testify unto what God Himself, by virtue of His Own Logos-Self, doth testify as also do His creatures (who ever declare that) `There is no God except Him, the Mighty, the Transcendent.  


        [1] And now concerning what his exalted eminence hath asked about, that part of the address (maqām al-khiṭāb) respecting the clarification of the forms (tibyān al-ashkāl) [ of the Body] known among the rijāl al-a`rāf ("men of the heights" = the twelver Imams [?], cf. Q.7:46-8) as the "Body of the Prophet" [Muḥammad] (jasad al-nabī ), blessings and peace be upon him and his family. [2] How, in other words, [he enquired] can that jasad ("Body") exist in a single time and place when he [Muḥammad] is present in all spheres [localities] of existence (aṣqā` al-wujūd) be they hidden (al-ghayb) or apparent (al-shuhūd) ? [3] The reality of this issue is that there is no path for anyone unto the gnosis of this sublime level (al-rutbat al-saniyya) except through the knowledge of "the matter which is betwixt two matters" (al-amr bayn al-amrayn). Such is the very secret of destiny (sirr al-qadr) for existing things (al-ashyā') operate [relative to] three [spatiotemporal] modalities (al-marātib) ( = ? [1] Sarmad [2] Dahr and [3] Zamān ).


        [1] Among them is thus the level of Sarmad, beginningless eternity (rutbat al-sarmad) which relates to the mode of the Divine Activity (maqām al-fi`l). [2] God established for it a beginning (bidāya) by means of His Logos-Self (nafs) which traverseth certain of the realms by virtue of being Pre-existent (maqāmāt bi'l-qidam). [3] God did not establish for it (His nafs, Logos-Self) any finality (nihāya) relative to the various modes of the Divine Theophany (maqāmāt al-ẓuhūr) such as would necessitate the cessation and the annihilation of the Divine Emanation (li-`adam nafād al-fayḍ) on the level of existing reality (rutbat al-wujūd). 

    [4] [On this level] He [the Logos-Self] has the station of Muḥammad and his legatees (awṣiyā, sing. waṣī , the twelver Imams) -- may the blessings of God be upon them -- since no one can reckon that they could rescind a single thing from the Divine Decree (ḥukm) as it operates [through them] upon this level. 


    [1] Then there is also the level of Dahr, the eternal continuance of time (rutbat al-dahr). [2] And for it God established an origin (badā') in the station of beginningless eternity (sarmad) and an end (khatm an ) on  the level  of the interior Depths (maqām al-buṭūn). [3] This is the station of the rest of the levels of contingent existence (sā'ir al-mumkināt) among the levels of the essential realities (min marātib al-jawhariyyāt) in the various worlds of abstracted possibility (`awālim al-mujarradāt).


    [1] And there is furthermore, the level of Zamān, the duration of Time (rutbat al-zamān). [2] And God assuredly established a terminal point (limit, ḥaddan ) for its genesis (badā') as well as for its cessation (khatman). [3] In this manner He established the [spatiotemporal] reality of the movement of the celestial spheres (wujūd sair al-aflāk).

 [4] Whenever the various regulatory principles of the levels of being (ḥukm al-marātib) are established there can be no doubt that the inmost Heart (al-fū'ād) is foremost (fī rutbat al-awwalī) [5] It is clear that any given reality (al-shay') can be allotted all manner of secondary [space-time] levels (al-marātib al-thābitiyya) and similar theophanological actualizations (ẓuhūr al-ḥākiyya). [6] It was thus the Universal Body (al-jasad al-kullī) which God made to be its [His] bearer (ḥāmil)  in the arena of the Divine Activity (maḥall al-fi`l). [7] It is therefore expressive of the level of His Essence (maqām dhātihi)  and is established upon the level of Sarmad,  beginningless eternity (maqām al-sarmad).

[8] Wherefore was the body of the Prophet (Muḥammad; jasad al-nabī ) on the night of the Mi`rāj (laylat al-mi`rāj) simultaneously associated with (ma`a) the house of Ḥamīrā' [ Umm Ḥānī?] in that circumstantial news (khabr) thereof was attained [9] And it was established through consensus of opinion (al-ijmā`a) that he [the Prophet] was [simultaneously] in Heaven (al-samā'), in the various paradises and the [spheres of the] two luminous orbs [the Sun and the moon] (marātib al-janān wa'l-nayyirān). [10] This was so in that his [Muhammad's] personal essence (dhātihi) was neither veiled nor in any way [spatiotemporially] delimited (maḥdūd an ) relative to the contingent worlds (fī al-`awālim al-imkān). [11] Thus was the decree respecting his [the Prophet's] Body. 


[1] Wherefore  was it that possessors of intellects (al-`uqūl)  failed to fathom matters [spatiotemporially]  delimited (maḥdūd an). [2] Various persons failed to realize that they could witness the matter which is betwixt two matters (al-amr bayn al-amrayn) or take account of the regulating force of Sarmad, beginningless eternity (ḥukm al-sarmad)  with a measure of certainty (ḥukm al-yaqīn). [3] Thus thou hast asserted in the gathering (majlis) that [possessors] of  intellect (al-`aql)  were divided regarding this matter on account of the regulation of [spatiotemporal] limitedness (ḥukm al-ḥaddiyya), until, that is, certain souls became informed of the absence of [true] knowledge of the concreteness of the event (`ilm al-wāqi`ī) on the level of the [multi-spatial] location of the body [of the Prophet] (rutbat al-jasad).


    [1] And if God so willed and desired He could assuredly have expounded the reality of this enquiry about the secret of the concreteness of the event [of the translocation of the Body of the Prophet] (bi-sirr al-wāqi`ī ) and the decree regarding its realization (ḥukm al-bāligh) relative to his particular station (maqāmihi). [2] This in that He is fully aware of the wisdom (ḥukm) of [the actualization of] this matter (al-amr) [which is "betwixt two matters"] through the (two) levels of the divine Theophany (fī maqāmāt al-ẓuhūr). [3] And He is not veiled on account of the dawning forth of the Light of the Unseen Realities (nūr al-ghuyūb) in view of his being held back [veiled]  from the court of proximity to the Divine Presences (sāḥat qurb al-ḥuḍūr). [4] And respecting that station (maqām) the Pen engulfed two flowing rivulets [of water to express these mysteries]  yet the decree affirming the exposition (ḥukm al-bayān) was returned unto God relative to (both) its going forth (mabda`)  and coming back (al-iyāb).    

[5] And praised be unto God, the Lord of the heavenly Throne above, One beyond what the negligent assert. And peace be upon the Messengers and praised be God the Lord of all the worlds.

Some Notes and Commentary