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    خطبة  الطتنجية 

   [ التطنجية ]


IMAM `ALĪ  IBN ABĪ  ṬĀLIB  (d. 40/661).

Stephen N.  Lambden, UC Merced.

1987+2005-7. Under revision 2015. 


The  خطبة الطتنجية  /  التطنجية  Khuṭbat al-Ṭutunjiyya or Khuṭbat al-Taṭanjiyya (= Kh-T : spelling and pointing uncertain), only loosely and inadequately translated as "The Sermon of the Gulf",  is an Arabic sermon, discourse or oration ascribed to the first Shi`i Imam `Ali ibn Abi Ṭālib (d. 40/661). It is not found in the well-known compilation of around 400 sermons (and other materials) ascribed to Imam `Ali entitled  Nahj al-Balāgha (Path of Eloquence) compiled in about 400/1009-10  by Sharīf al-Radī ibn al-Ḥusayn al-Mūsawī (d.406/1015) or in other well-known collections of materials attributed to Imam `Alī. The Kh-T has been infrequently published in the original although it can be found, however, along with the allegedly Kufa delivered Khuṭbat al-Bayān ( Sermon of the Exposition) also ascribed to Imam `Alī in volume two of the Ilzām al-nāṣib fi ithbāt al-ḥujjat al-al-ghā'ib  (5th ed. Beirut: Mu'assat al-A`lā, 1404/1984) of  Hajj Shaykh `Ali al-Yazdi al-Hā'irī (d. 1333/ 1915).   Very little studied and seldom commented upon in any language, the Kh-T is a challenging, magisterial oration containing important religious doctrines relating to Shi`i walāya (on one level Imam centered "divine providence")  and high imamology as well, for example,  as important Islamo-biblical or Isrā'īliyyāt themes or motifs. Detailed academic analysis of the vocabulary, dating,  style, Islamo-biblical / Isrā'iliyyāt dimensions  and theology-cosmology-imamology of the Kh-T has yet to be befittingly accomplished though Corbin (Annuaire,1969-70) and Lawson (Ph.d., 1987, Pt. ii Chap. 3) (see bibliography below)  have made important contributions. The varied history of the Imami Shī`ī status of the "Sermon of the Gulf"  in the light of  streams of orthodox Shī`ī  thought asserting its heterodoxy or ghuluww  ("extremist") nature is also lacking. There is no critical edition of the KH-T and no full exposition of its key position in al-Shaykhiyya (Shaykhism) and the sacred writings of the Bābī and Bahā'ī religions. It is hoped that the following notes will make a tentative contribution to this somewhat neglected subject.

A few years ago I posted a revised translation of a partial rendering the  khuṭbat al-ṭutunjiyya  of Imam `Alī  by Khazah Fananapazir and myself on the Bahā'ī list serve Talisman.  More recently as will be seen below, I have retranslated this still speculative rendering (Oct., 2005) though it will be frequently corrected and updated on this Website (below). The Arabic text of the Kh-T will also gradually being added  alongside the translation as it is printed in the  recent edition of the Mashāriq anwār al-yāqīn  (Beirut: Dar al-Andalus, nd [199?]) of   Rajab al-Bursi (d. c. 814 /1411). In due course this will be semi-critically assessed in the light of  the text utilized by the second major Shaykhi leader Sayyid Kāẓim Rashtī (d.1259/1843) as printed in his lengthy though incomplete Sharḥ khuṭbat al-ṭutunjiyya  (= Sh-Kh-T) (Commentary on the Sermon of the Gulf"). This later text in its seminal 1270/1853-4 lithograph edition (cf. its Kuwait printed 3 volume reprint) is obviously related to mss. text(s) of the  Mashāriq of al-Bursi which is referred to on its very first page. Select critical notes and exegetical comments will in due course (2007-8) also be added  as an appendix to the translation of the Kh-T detailed below. Therein the textual readings will be commented upon and the position of the second Shaykhi leader  regarding the Sh-Kh-T will be succinctly and selectively noted. .

In academic sessions on this  Kh-T in the late 1960s the French Iranist Henry Corbin (1903-1978) noted that the earliest known occurrence of the Khuṭbat al-taṭanjiyya (he preferred this spelling and pointing) in Shi`i literatures was in one of the works of the 12th century Shi`i thinker Muhammad Ibn Shahrāshūb al-Māzandarānī (d. c. 588/1192), best known as the author of the Ma`ālim al-`ulamā' ("Characteristics of the Divines") and Manāqib Āl Abī Ṭālib  ("Byways of the Abī  Ṭālib Family"). As noted the Kh-T is also found in a compilation of sometimes arcane and esoteric writings ascribed to Imam `Ali by Rajab al-Bursi a few details about which will be set down.

The five "twin gulf" references in the Khuṭbat al-taṭanjiyya [ṭutunjiyya].

        The word تطنج     (in its various dual forms  with  initial ت t then ط ṭ  -- see below on the spelling) occurs five times in the Kh-T as found in the Mashāriq al-anwār  of  Rajab al-Bursi. Following the spellings in the recent Dar al-Andalus reprinting (+ ADD) the first occurrence of T-Ṭ-N-J [= Ṭ-T-N-J] from which the Kh-T ("Sermon of the Gulf")  derives its name occurs at IV:2 (see trans. below) where we have the dual form تطنجين :

انا الواقف على التطنجين

 "I [Imam `Alī] am the one who is stationed (al-wāqif ) over the two Gulfs" (al-tuṭunjayn).

 This also a few lines later at  IV:7 the word  T-T-N-J occurs in the singular then the dual:

و هي في خزف من التطنج الايمن مما يلي المشرق والتطنجان

Such is within something earthen ware (khazaf) from the right-hand Gulf (min al-tuṭunj al-ayman) which faces the East (al-mashriq) and towards the twin Gulfs (al-tuṭunjayn). 

Then again T-T-N-J occurs in the dual in the following line at IV:8 :

   الخليجان من الماء كأنهما أيسارتطنجين

[which are] the twin Bays of water (khalijayn min al-mā')  which seem to be to the left of the twin Gulfs (al-tuṭunjayn).

Finally, of the  five occurrences from the root T-Ṭ-N-J in the "Sermon of the Gulf",  the dual occurs again at V:4:

        لولا اصطكاك رأس افردوس واختلاط التطنجين وصريرالفلك

    يسمع من السماوات والأرض رميم حميم دخولها في الماء الأسود وهي العين الحمئة

 If it were not for the reverberation of  the summit of Paradise, the confluence of the  twin Gulfs (ikhtilaṭ al- tuṭunjayn), and the shrill sound [music] of the celestial sphere (sarīr al-falak), all that are in the heavens and the earth would hearken unto the dissipation of [solar] heat (ramīm al-ḥamīm) attendant upon the descent of the sun into the [cosmic abyss,  the] black,  watery Expanse (al-mā' al-aswad)  which is  the muddy wellspring (al-`ayn al-ḥami`a)  (cf. Q.18:86[84]).

All these references are rather complicated and attempts to translate and clarify them are not easy. I have attempted to make a straightforward translation without deliberately reading Shaykhi or Babi-Baha'i interpretations into this complex sermon, save for the still provisional synonymous rendering of  طتنج  or تطنج  by  خليج  or "gulf".  To be simplistic and straightforward  it would appear to be presupposed in the Kh-T that there exists in a  primordial, cosmogonic yet terrestrial and supra-terrestrial watery expanse, a dual zoned terrestrial yet supra-cosmic realm over which imam `Alī stands, governs, rules  or presides as the exalted Imam. From thence as the locus of wIlāya ("Divine providence") he can envision all realms, both the "two easts" and the "two wests" of Reality. In these cosmic zones the "earth" is somehow positioned in primordial clay or in an earthen ware state or vessel. It somehow relates to an earthy or clay like vessel (or  perhaps cleft?) deriving  from (or located in?) an area at the right-hand "Gulf" region which faces "East"', as well (it seems) as facing another "two Gulfs" again in the "East". Though these two "Gulfs" seem to be twin watery  streams or "Bays"  they may be thought of as situated to the "Left" of the "East" facing "twin Gulfs". We apparently have here cosmological or cosmogonic, exegetical ramifications of the deep senses of the qur'anic "two Easts" and "two Wests" ( see  Qur'an 55:17, cf. also Q. 55: 15).

The Arabic loanword تطنج  / طتنج  and its variant spellings. 

As previously noted, the etymologically opaque, Arabic quadriliteral loan-word (from Greek?)   تطنج  =  T-Ṭ-N-J (= taṭanj or tuṭunj ?) or  طتنج = Ṭ-T-N-J (= ṭatanj, ṭuṭunj or whatever)   has been variously spelled and pointed. Its precise derivation, spelling and pointing remain unknown. As hinted in the Kh-T itself and stated by Sayyid Kāẓim Rashti this word would seem to be is synonymous with the Arabic word for "gulf" (khalīj) and be suggestive of (cosmic)  "waters", "streams", "rivers" or the channels within which such material flows. Both spellings تطنج   and  طتنج  occur in the singular and/or the dual, either  with the emphatic "ṭ"  (ط )  first  and/ or with it  second.  Variant readings evidently exist in both the mss. and the  printed texts of the Kh-T as well as related expository literatures.

In various Shi`i and Shaykhī printed texts (e.g. Maj-Rasa'il 30:269) we have the two spellings  طتنج in [التطنج [ /ين and  تطنج  as well occasionally  as ططنج . The following notes will attempt to further clarify the spellings in select Shaykhi and  Babi-Baha'i primary and printed sources deriving from the first two Shaykhs of al-Shaykhiyya (Shaykhism), Shaykh Aḥmad al-Ahsa'i and Sayyid Kāẓim Rashti, as well as from Muhammad Karim Khān Kirmani (d. 1871), Sayyid  Ali Muhammad Shirazi, the Bab (1819-1850 CE),  Mirza Ḥusayn Ali Nuri, Baha'-Allah (1817-1892)  and a few others. A full resolution of this issues would require proper consultation of mss. certain of which not available to the present writer. It will be seen, however, that the preferred spelling in a majority of Babi-Baha'i sources can be accounted for.


 The cover page (above-click to enlarge) of the (Tabriz) printed 1270/1852-3 edition of Sayyid Kāẓim's commentary on the "Sermon of the Gulf", has the spelling  شرح خطبة الطتنجية   Sharḥ khuṭbat al-ṭutunjiyya  (= Sh-Kh-T)  with the emphatic ط = ṭ,  as the first of the two Arabic letter t's. It also occurs spelled in this way  elsewhere in the 1270/1853-4 lithograph edition of this work.  Page one includes another calligraphic heading with the title spelled as on the cover page (above) and,  for example, on page 203 of Sayyid Kazim's  Sh-Kh-T  This spelling is also found on p. 174 where Sayyid  Kāẓim  glosses الطتنجين (al-ṭutunjayn  [loosely] "two gulfs")  with the dual of   خليج   khalīj namely, khalījayn  = "twin bays") in the course of commenting on `Alī's words,  no doubt in the light of  the text  of the Kh-T itself mentioning khalījayn  (= "twin bays") (see below trans. IV:1ff); 

انا الواقف على الطتنجين

 "I am the one who is stationed over the two Gulfs" (wāqif `alā al-tuṭunjayn)

            Sayyid Kāẓim  comments upon these words in the following way:

  الطتنج هو الخليج المتشعب من البحر والطتنجين الخليجين منشعبان من البحرالواحد

كما ياتى تفسره من كلام

"The  الطتنج ( ṭ-t-n-j = ṭutunj) is the gulf [or bay, canal, stream] (al-khalīj)  branching out (mutasha``ib) from the [Cosmic] Ocean (al-baḥr). And the twin gulfs (al-ṭutunjayn) are the twin bays-streams, doubly branching out from a single Ocean; just as the exposition of something is expressed through speech... (Sh-Kh-T, 174)".

Within this website the spelling and pointing   طُتُنْج   = ṭutunj  will be followed  as in numerous Shaykhi and Babi-Baha'i literatures where this spelling is registered and where this pointing would seem to be presupposed. Many if not most mss. and printed texts of the writings of the Bab and Baha'-Allah have dual formations of طتنج  with the spelling taking the emphatic letter "t" first (not second). The Mashāriq  anwār al-yaqīn  of Rajab al-Bursī,  however,   has the spelling  تطنج    (emphatic t second) and some Shaykhi and Babi-Baha'i literatures follow this spelling as does Sayyid Kāẓim when he cites this source the opening section of his Sh-Kh-T.

The Mashāriq  anwār  al-yāqīn fi asrar Amīr al-mu'minin  of Rajab al-Bursī (d. c. 814 /1411).

       Among the numerous often `irfānī  (esoteric-gnostic) collections of tradition significant in esoteric Shiism and in the Bābī-Bahā’ī religions, is that revolving around traditions ascribed to Imām `Alī in the Mashāriq  anwār al-yaqīn fī asrār amīr al-mu’minīn  (The Dawning-Places of the Lights of Certitude in the mysteries of the Commander of the Faithful’) of Rajab al-Bursī (d. c. 814 /1411;  Lawson, 1992:261-276; Borsi [Lorey + Corbin] 1996). A number of arcane Shī`ī traditions cited by the Bāb and Bahā'-Allāh originate with this compilation of Rajab al-Bursī. In his Kitāb-i īqān, (Book of Certitude), for example, Bahā'-Allāh cites a tradition about Imām `Alī having been with one thousand Adams, each  50,000 years apart, and having repeatedly declared his wilāya   (position as a locus of the divine providence and pre-existent "successor" to the Prophet Muhammad) before them (KI:130 /tr. [SE*]107-8).

        Bursī’s Mashāriq  contains important sermons and traditions which were very highly regarded by the first two Shaykhī leaders as well as by the Bāb and Bahā'-Allāh. A considerable number of important Imamī traditions about wilāya, the `ilm al-ḥurūf  (the science of letters) the ism Allāh al-a`ẓam   and other deep, sometimes esoteric matters are scattered throughout the  Mashāriq.  The influence of the Bible and Isrā’īliyyāt is evident throughout this seminal Shi`i work.

It would seem appropriate at this point to cite from the Mashāriq al-anwar  of Rajab al-Bursi  where he introduces the Kh-T in the following manner :

"ومن خطبة له عليه السلام تسمى التطنجية، ظاهرها انيق، وباطنها عميق، فليحذر قارئها من سوء  ظنه ، فان فيها من تنزيه الخالق ما لا يطيقه احد من الخلأئق، خطبها أمير المؤمنين (ع) بين الكوفة والمدينة "

"And among the Sermons deriving from him [Imam `Alī] -- upon him be peace -- is that named Taṭanjiyya [Tuṭunjiyya]. While its outward dimension (ẓāhir) is delightfully elegant (anīq) its inward dimension (bāṭin) is  profoundly deep (`amīq). So let its reciter beware about adopting a low opinion thereof for therein are negated the anthropomorphisms of the creatures (tanzih al-khāliq) in ways which cannot be adequately encompassed by anyone within the domain of created beings (al-khalā'iq). The Commander of the Faithful [Imam `Ali] delivered this sermon between Kufa [now in Iraq] and Medina [now in Saudi Arabia]" (al-Bursi, Mashariq, 166).

We learn from the above that al-Bursī  thought that the Khuṭba al-ṭutunjiyya / taṭanjiyya  ("Sermon of the Gulf")  was delivered by the first Imam between Kūfa and Medina (Mashariq: 166-170). The Khutba is declared deep and profound. It is . defended  against accusations of an anthropomorphic high imamology and ghuluww  ("extremist") statements. Towards the beginning of his Sh-Kh-T Sayyid Kāẓim cites and comments in detail on these introductory words of al-Bursi in an extremely interesting manner (see  Sh-Kh-T 2nd ed. pp.  39-47 and below).

As will be seen both the Bab and Baha'-Allah were markedly influenced by the at times  high imamology and abstruse yet suggestive apocalyptic of the Kh.-ṭutunjiyya. It is a sermon which incorporates Islamo-biblical motifs deriving from Isrā’iliyyāt traditions including many Arabic  “I am” sayings,  at times perhaps incorporating Isra'iliyyat motifs. In the Kh-T utterances of an all but deified Imam `Alī echo the gnostic and predominantly  Johannine New Testament  “I am” logion  of Jesus. Like  Jesus, `Alī at one point utters a loose Arabic transliteration of the Greek,  انا عليوثوثا   = Gk. Έγç..[ή] άλήθgιαego eimi  aletheia,  Jn 14:6a. `Ali thus declares “I am the Truth”  (Bursī, Mashriq, 169). Numerous other theophanic claims of the virtually deified Imam `Alī are cast in the form of “I am” sayings  in the Kh-T and elsewhere in the Mashariq  (see Mashāriq, 166-170, etc). A few examples from the Kh-T and other sources in the Mashariq al-anwar of al-Bursi are as follows :

  • I am the one who presides over the two gulfs (wāqif `alā al-ṭutunjayn)..
  • I am the Lord of the first flood (ṣāḥib al-ṭūfān al-awwāl);
  • I am the Lord of the second flood [of Noah?];
  • I am the one who raised Idrīs [Enoch] to a lofty place   [cf. Q.19:57]
  • I am  the agent whereby the infant Jesus cried out from the cradle [Q. 19:29, etc]
  • I am the Lord of the Mount [Sinai] (ṣāḥib al-ṭūr) ..
  • I am the one with whom are the keys of the unseen  (mafātīḥ al-ghayb)..
  • I am Dhū’l-Qarnayn mentioned in the primordial scrolls (ṣuḥuf al-awwālī)
  • I am the bearer of the Seal of Solomon   (sāḥib khātam sulaymān)
  • I am first First Adam; I am the First Noah...
  • I am the Lord of Abraham, (ṣāḥib ibrahīm),
  • I am the inner mystery of the Speaker [Moses]  (sirr al-kalīm)...
  • I am the Messiah [Jesus] (al-masīḥ)  inasmuch as no soul (rūḥ)  moves nor  spirit (nafs) breathes without my permission...
  • I am the Speaker  who conversed (mutakallim)  through the tongue of Jesus in the cradle...
  • I am the one with whom are one thousand volumes of the books of the prophets (alf  kutub min kitāb al-anbiyā’)..   (Bursī, Mashariq, 166ff).

     Shaykh Aḥmad al-Aḥsā'ī (d. 1241/1826) and the Khuṭbat al-Ṭutunjiyya

The Qajar era generator of that branch of Shi`i thought and mystical philosophy (loosely "gnosis" )which came to be known as al-Shaykhiyya (Shaykhism) and (among other things) Kashfiyya  (the "Movement for Disclosure" of the deeper Shi`i imamological truth ) was the Arab born  mystically inclined sage-philosopher and exegete Shaykh Aḥmad b. Zayn al-Din al-Aḥsā'ī (d. 1241/1826). He and his various Shaykhī and other successors countered the allegedly non-authentic or ghuluww ("extremist") nature of the Kh-T.  They referred to it with awe and reverence.  In a treatise contained in the massive and foundational Shaykhī compilation  entitled  Jawāmi` al-kalim  ("The Comprehensive Discourse")   the great Shi`i sage-philosopher al-Aḥsā'ī himself wrote in defense of the veracity of the Kh-T. He stated that it's allegedly ghuluww  ("extremist") text  is only viewed as such by those who reject what they fail to comprehend. Shaykh Ahmad categorically stated in a Risālah in reply to questions of Shāhzadeh Muhammad Mīrzā  (one of which had to do with the veracity of the ascription of the Khuṭbat al-Bayān "Sermon of the Exposition" and the Kh-T to  Imam `Alī ) that in the Kh-T., there is    فلا عَيْبَ فيها  , "As for al-Khuṭbat al-Ṭuṭunjiyya there is no  imperfection therein". In their ignorance, Shaykh Ahmad continues to observe, some persons reject what they find difficult or incomprehensible without good reason. They take no proper account of the authoritative ḥadith texts which warn about the sometimes abstruse nature of  Shi`i materials or affairs. It was relayed from the Imams that 

"Our [Shi`i] tradition (ḥadith) is arcane (ṣa`b), bewilderingly arcane (mustas`ab),  impenetrable (lit. "coarse") (khashin), imponderable (lit. "uneven") (makhshush). None then among the people should disdainfully abandon it. Yet whoso is [truly] aware of this do they accuse of excess and disavow. So take firm hold thereof for none can bear it save three: (1) an angel brought nigh [cf. the cherubim] (malak muqarrib), (2) a commissioned [sent] Prophet (nabi mursal)  or (3) a believing servant (`abd mu'min) whose heart God has tested for faith".

They [the Imams] do furthermore say:

"Our Cause (amr) is the Truth (al-ḥaqq), the reality of the Truth (ḥaqq al-ḥaqq). It is  exterior Reality and interior Reality (ẓāhir wa bāṭin) as well as the interior Reality of the exterior Reality (bāṭin al-ẓāhir) and the interior Reality of the interior Reality (bāṭin al-bāṭin). It is the mystery (al-sirr) and the mystery of the mystery (sirr al-sirr), the very mystery of the secreted mystery (al-sirr al-mustansirr) and a mystery veiled up in mystery (sirr muqanna` bi'l-sirr)".

Similar to this was the response of [Imam Ja`far]  al-Ṣādiq say -- upon him be peace -- when he said, `What is the meaning of something' (ma`ani) for I, indeed, never utter a word (kalimat) but thereby intend seventy and one meanings [aspects]  (wajh an) up until, that is, everything is divulged. And relative to what is  transmitted, if I so will I deduce something there from and if I so will I deduce something else there from..."  (Majmu`at al-rasā'il  30 : 269)

Summing matters up Shaykh Ahmad al-Ahsa'i, among other things, underlines the fact that the two Khuṭbas he had been asked about, (the Khuṭbat al-Bayān and the Kh-T ) are "not from other than the people of infallibility [the Imams] (ahl al-`iṣmat) (Shaykh Aḥmad, JK 1: ADD and Majmu`at al-rasā'il  30, pp. 268, 270).

                ADD Sharh al-Ziyara

The  خطبة الطتنجية  ("Sermon of the Gulf")  in  the writings of Sayyid Kāẓim Rashtī

From an early period Sayyid Kāẓim refers to and cites the Kh-T. Written when he was about 20 years old  his 7,000 verse (roughly 150-200 pp)  تفسيراية الكرسى   Tafsīr āyat al-kursī   ("Commentary on the Chair [Throne] Verse" = Q. 2:255) contains several citations. Commenting in a complex fashion of the letter  ل  lām which follows the letter ا   alif  within the four letters making up the qur'anic personal Name of God  Allah   الله  Sayyid Kazim at one point writes,

و الثاني بالوجود الشرعي و المعني واحد لا اختلاف الا في العبارة فاشار الي الوجود التشريعي يعني بقوله تعالي اللام المذكورة بعد الالف و هي اشارة الي الزام خلقه الولاية اي ولاية الولي عليه السلام فان قبول ولاية الولي و الاقرار بها هو القبول و الاقرار بجميع ما جاء به الانبياء و المرسلون من عند الله تبارك و تعالي فكلما جاء به الانبياء فهو حق فكل الانبياء صادرون عن امر الولي و كلما يأمر الولي و هو امر الله  ...فكل حق فهو من امر الولي و كل باطل فهو من نهيه فالزام الخلق بولاية الولي هو الامر بكل معروف و النهي عن كل منكر و اشار بتكرر اللام الي قسمي العبادات و الاعمال فانها علي قسمين ظاهرية و باطنية و الظاهرية ظاهرة و الباطنية هي اعمال الحواس و القوي و المشاعر و الادراكات الباطنية كالفؤاد و العقل و النفس و القلب و الخيال و الواهمة و الحافظة و المفكرة و امثال ذلك من القوي الباطنية و لهم اعمال من دون ذلك اي الاعمال الظاهرة هم لها عاملون و الالف اشارة الي البرزخ المتوسط بين العالمين عالم الظاهر و عالم الباطن و هو عالم الاشباح و المثال النورانية و الابدان النورانية التي لا روح فيها فان الالف هي السراج و هو ( هو الباب خ ) الواقف بين الطتنجين مس النار و النار و الاشعة و الاظلة كما هو حال البرازخ و المثال مقرب عن وجه و مبعد من كل الوجوه اين حال السراج و البرزخ بينهما بون بعيد كما يعرفه العلماء الراسخون  ...

And secondly as relates to the legislative existence. Here the meaning is one having no difference relative to.. ADD HERE 

Sayyid Kāẓim Rashtī

The  شرح خطبة الطتنجية   Sharḥ khuṭbat al-ṭutunjiyya  (Sh-Kh-T) has been cited and referred to above. Very early on in his commentary on the opening words of the KH-T Sayyid Kazim has occasion to cite and  comment on Q.  5:64a which is a response to the qur'anic Jewish assertion that “the hands of God are chained up”, namely, “Nay rather!  Both His two hands are widely outstretched (mabsuṭtāni)” . These words indicate the twofoldness of the divine providence, [1]  the “Hand of faḍl (the Divine Bounty) and [2] the Hand of `adl (the Divine Justice) which are explicitly said to be the al-Ṭuṭunjayn (“two Gulfs”) “doubly branching out fro m the Hamd (“Praise”), from its ẓāhir (exterior aspect) and from its bāṭin (interior aspect)

         In the muqaddima (prolegomenon) towards the beginning, on page 7 of the 1st lithograph edition (and pp. 39-40  of the Kuwait 2nd ed. )  of his Commentary on the Kh-T.,  Sayyid Kāẓim Rashtī  cites Shaykh Rajab al-Bursi’s introduction to the Kt-T from his Mashāriq anwār … (translated above;  with the same spelling as in the published edition for TTNJ =  taṭanjiyya). He comments on it in some detail. The following paragraphs are of particular interest: [correct this Arabic]

أقول: إنما يقال لها التطنجية لاشتمالها على أكوار ا لوجود وأدواره منحصرة في الكرتين والدائرتين المتعاكستي السيرين المتحاذيتي السطحين والمتقابلتي الميلين، في حال اجتماعهما مفترقتان وفي افتراقهما مجتمعتان، وهما التطنجان أي الخليجان المتشعبان من البحر المحيط، وذلك البحر هو الماء الذي خلق الله منه بشرا فجعله نسبا وصهرا، فجرى خليجان أحدهما من باطنه وهو  الماء العذب الفرات السائغ شرابه ومنه انشعبت أربعة أنهار، فالنهر الذي من الماء من ميم بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم، والذي من العمسل المصفى من هائها، والذي من اللبن الذي لم يتغير طعمه من ميم الرحمن، والذي من الخمر من ميم الرحيم، وثانيهما من ظاهره وهو الماء المالح الأجاج ومنه انشعبت أربعة أنهار، عين الكبريت، وعين أبرهوت، وعين أفريقية، وجمة ماسيدان، وهو الماء الذي نزله الله سبحانه من القرأن فجعل منه خليجين أحدهما شفاء ورحمة للمؤمنين، وثانيهما عذاب ونقمة للكافرين، قال الله تعالى (ؤننزل من ألقرءان ما هو شفآء ورحمة للمؤمنين و لا يزيد الظلمين الاخسارا)

"I say, regarding what he [al-Bursi] says about the al-tuṭunjiyya  [Gulf oriented Sermon] that it pertains to the realms of existence  (akwār al-wujūd) and its cycles (adwār) incorporating two doubly repeating (al-karratayn), doubly counter-proceeding (al-mut`ākisatī al-sayyirayn),  doubly  parallel in outstretched opposition (al-mutaḥadhaytī  al-saṭaḥayn), doubly obliquely opposite each other (al-mutaqābilatī al-mailayn), doubly [expressive of a twofold] cyclic schemata (da'iratayn). In their twofold state of  conjunction they [the twin gulfs] remain doubly disengaged while in their dual disengagement  they remain doubly conjoined. 

"And the tuṭunjayn ("two gulfs") that is to say the khalijayn  (“two gulfs-bays-canals-rivulets”) do branch out from the all-encompassing Ocean (min al-baḥr al-muḥīṭ). That is the Ocean (al-baḥr) which is the [primordial] “Water” (al-mā’) out of which God created humanity (bashar an). He made it generative of affinity (nisab an), [that is] maritialy unitative (ṣahr an) such that there flowed forth two rivulets [channels-gulfs-bays] (khalījayn), one of the two deriving from its interior (bāṭin) [flow] which is the sweet water of  the [sweet watered] Euphrates (al-mā’ al-`adhb al-furāt), being palatable (sā’igh),  drinkable [wine]  (sharāba)."        

"From it [furthermore] there branched out four streams (anhār). They  are,

  • [1] the stream (al-nahr) deriving from the [cosmic] Water which is [generated] from the (letter) “M” ( m = mā’ = “Water”) of the basmala (= bismillāh al-raḥman al-raḥīm , “In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate”). And

  •  [2] that [stream] which is of Honey  (min al-`asal al-muṣaffan) from its (letter) “H” (al-hā’). Then

  •  [3] that [stream] which  of Milk (min al-laban) the tasteful flavor (ṭa`m) of which never changes,  [generated] through the  (letter) “M” of Raḥman  (= “Divine Mercy”). Again, there is

  • [4]  that [stream] which is of  Wine  (min al-khamr) [generated] through the  (letter) “M” of Raḥīm (= “Divine Compassion”).

The second of the two streams [channels-gulfs-bays] (khalījayn) derives from its [the primordial Oceans’] exterior (ẓāhir) [flow] which  is the [cosmic] watery expanse  (al-mā’) that is briny  [salty] (māliḥ), bitter (ujāj) [or ajjāj = “burning hot”]. From it there [further] branches out four  streams [rivers] (anhār), [namely],

  • [1] the wellspring of Sulphur (`ayn al-kibrīt) and
  • [2] the wellspring  ابرهوت     a-b-r-h-u-t  (cf. Ethiopia ?),
  • [3] the wellspring of  Africa (ifrīqīya) and

  • [4] the waterhole that is blackness (? jammat mā  saydān, cf. Sudan ?).

    "Such is the [nature of the primordial] Watery Expanse (al-mā’)  which God sent down, glory be unto Him, through the Qur’ān. And He made from it the two streams  [channels-gulfs-bays] (khalījayn), one of the two is a Healing  and a Mercy (shafā’ wa raḥmat) for the believers (al-mu’minīn) while the second of the two is a torture [agony- punishment-suffering-chastisement] (`adhāb) and a punishment-vengeance-adversity-retribution] (naghma)  for the unbelievers (al-kāfrirīn). God, exalted be He,  [says in the Qur’ān], “We indeed sent down from the Qur’ān what is a healing and a mercy for the believers and it did not increase for the iniquitous anything save loss.” (Q. 17:82)” (Sh-Kh-T., Lith. p. ADD ;    2nd ed. 39-40)."

    "It is the case, furthermore, that this noble sermon (al-khuṭbat al-sharīfah) consists of an explanation of the two cycles of the [letter] Kāf (dūrān al-kāf) [abjad = 20 = 10x2)... ADD   

The "twin gulfs"in other early Shaykhi literatures

In his lengthy Persian Irshād al-`awāmm  ("Guidance for the Masses"), the polymathic anti-Bābī-Baha'i Shaykhi leader and disciple of Sayyid Kāzim Rashti, Ḥajji Mirza Muhammad Karīm Khān Kirmānī (d. 1288/1871)  had  occasion to comment upon the implications of the twin gulfs spiritual cosmology  and includes a clearly written, annotated Persian translation of Kh-T IV: 2-3 (see below) ...  انا الواقف على الطتنجين..  (note the spelling). This  in the course of discoursing in Persian upon soteriological and related imamological  dimensions of the supreme Paradise of  Bihisht  and of that Hell  which is Gehenna.  Kirmani mentions the Paradise of Bihisht  as the manifestation of the ṣāḥib-i  vilāya  ("Lord of wilāya") along with the appearance of his sovereignty (salṭanat) then adds (obviously translating Kh-T., IV:2-3) that the Commander of the Faithful, his holiness Imam `Ali ( hazrat-i amir) said:

 منم واقف بر طتنجين و ناظر در مشرقين و مغربين

 manam  vāqif bar ṭutunjayn va nāẓir dār mashriqayn va maghribayn

I am indeed the one standing over  the "two gulfs" (ṭ-t-n-jayn) and gazing into the two Easts and the two Wests.

Immediately following his Persian translation, Kirmani  explains as follows, clarifying his understanding of the twofoldness in these lines of the Kh-T : 

اين طرف راه جهنم و آن طرف بهشت باشد و معلوم است كه صاحب ولايت كه مستولي بر جهنم و بهشت است ظهور سلطنتش در اينجاست چنانكه حضرت امير فرمود منم واقف بر طتنجين و ناظر در مشرقين و مغربين و طتنج نهر بزرگ است يعني منم ايستاده بر دو نهر نهر رحمت و نهر غضب و منم ناظر در مشرق انوار بهشت و مغرب جهنم پس چون اين مقام مقام كسي است كه نسبتش باهل بهشت و جهنم مساوي است چرا كه پادشاه هر دو گروه است و قسيم جنت و نار است پس اينجا مقام ظهور سلطنت ائمه باشد پس آنكه خدا ميفرمايد و علي الاعراف رجال يعرفون كلاً بسيماهم يعني بر اعراف مرداني چند هستند كه هر كس را بسيمايش ميشناسند آن مردان ائمه‌اند و الآن بر اعراف ايستاده‌اند اهل بهشت را مي‌بينند و ميشناسند و اهل جهنم را مي‌بينند و ميشناسند چرا كه هر دو در زير پاي ايشان است و ايشان بر تلهاي بلند ايستاده‌اند كه مقامهاي ولايت باشد و جنت و نار در تحت ايشان است هر دو طايفه را مي‌بينند و جماعتي در اين ميان هستند...

    Loosely translated this excerpt from Kirmani's  Irshād al-`awāmm  reads, 

"... طتنج ṭutunj indicates a large river (nahr-i buzurg), that is to say [Imam `Alī implies], `I am standing over two rivers, the River of Raḥmat ("Divine Mercy") and the River of Ghaḍb ("Divine Wrath") and I am gazing (nāzir) on the [Western] Dawning-Place of the Lights of Bihisht  (Paradise) and the East of Gehenna (Hell). So this station (maqām) is the position (maqām) of a Person whose relationship is to the denizens  of Bihisht (Paradise) and equally [also] to [those of] Gehenna (Hell). This inasmuch as he is a Sovereign (padishah) over both [these spheres] and a  co-director of [the realms of] Paradise and Hell. Thus this locale [is representative of] the station [position] of the manifestation of the Sovereignty of the Imams. In consequence, it is the case that God says "and above the Heights [Ramparts] (al-a`rāf) are Men (rijal) who recognize all by their characteristic marks" [see Q. 7:46-8].  That is to say, above the Heights are several "Men" who recognize everyone by their  characteristic marks (sīmā). Those "Men" are the Imams. Now do they stand over the "Heights" and observe and  recognize the denizens of Paradise (bihisht).  And they [also] observe and recognize the inmates of Gehenna [Hell] because both are under their feet, and they are standing on high Hills, which are the stations of Vilāyat  [Walāya] (loci of guidance) and both the Garden (jannat) and Hell-fire (nār) are beneath them. They observe both groups...  (Irshad, vol. 2: ADD)

The Khutbat al-Ṭutunjiyya in the writings of the Bāb

 From the very beginning  of his messianic career in the 1840s, the  Bāb quite frequently cited and creatively refashioned  lines of the Khuṭba al-ṭutunjiyya,   sometimes exhibiting the influence of his one-time teacher Sayyid Kāẓim Rashtī with whom he associated for perhaps 6-9 months in the early 1840s.The dual term الطتنجين  (the two gulfs") occurs some three times in the Qayyūm al-asmā', most importantly at one point in QA 54 the Sūrat al-ghulām (Surah of the Youth) and twice in QA 109, the Sūrat al-`abd (see trans. below). This latter Surah 109 and the preceding Surah 108 of the QA, form a duality having preliminary disconnected letters which successively spell the Names (1) `Ali  (`+L-Y) and (2) Muhammad (M+H+M+D), yielding when read in in succession the parentally bestowed name of Sayyid `Ali Muhammad Shirazi, known as the Bab (the Gate). As we shall see, the Bāb associated himself as the transcendental locus of messianic walāya  ("guidance") to the "two gulfs" by virtue of the duality of his his twin parentally bestowed name `Ali Muhammad. Other passages and motifs  in the Qayyūm al-asmā' draw upon or allusively expound dimensions of lines within the  Khuṭba al-ṭutunjiyya. What follows is an attempt to sum them up.

The Tafsir Surat al-Baqara (early 1844)

       Even before his May 1844 quasi-messianic disclosure before Mullā Ḥusayn Bushrū'ī (d. 1849) the Bab showed familiarity with the Kh-T. In his early 1844 CE Tafsīr Sūrat al-baqara (Commentary on the Surah of the Cow) he wrote:


The Qayyūm al-asmā' (mid. 1844)

        In expressing his own claims in sometimes cryptic though elevated terms in his lengthy Arabic Qayyūm al-asmā' ( [Deity] Self-Subsisting among the Divine Names", mid. 1844 CE) and elsewhere the  Bab often used “I am “ proclamations and dual formations echoing sayings ascribed to `Alī in the Kh-T. Thus, for example, in his claim, “I am one presiding over the ṭutunjayn ... al-khālijayn (“the two gulfs... the twin bays”) (QA. 93:374-5; 109:434-5).  In the following passage from QA  54 (on Qur'ān 12:53), the Sūrat al-Ghulām (The Surah of the Youth),  the Bāb appears to express his superiority to the first two Shaykhs of Shaykhism (al-Shaykhiyya) and underlines his authoritative exposition of the "mystery of the two Gulfs" (sirr al-ṭutunjayn) as the then locus of walāya  through the hidden Imam:

  و لقد نطقت بالحرفين و لا انطق حرفا من النّفسين الاوّليين

 و لا يوجد حرفا من سرّ الطتنجين  الّا بنفسی الحقّ حامل الاسمين

We did speak forth  through two letters although  there was not divulged even a [single] letter through the two foremost souls [= ? Shaykh Aḥmad Aḥsā'ī  and Sayyid Kāẓim Rashtiī]Not even a single letter shall be discovered of the mystery of the two Gulfs (al-ṭutunjayn), save through My Logos-Self (nafsi) the True One which is the bearer of the Two Names (ḥāmil al-ismayn )" (=  [1] `Alī  + [2] Muhammad = the Bāb?).

Qayyūm al-asmā' 4

As early as the 4th chapter of his weighty Qayyum al-asma’  (mid. 1844), the commentary on Qur’an 12:3 entitled Surat al-madinah (Surah of the City),  the Bab presupposed a detailed knowledge of the “Sermon of the Gulf” and of Sayyid Kazim’s Commentary thereon.  Addressed by God as Qurrat al-`ayn (The solace of the eyes), the Bab is told to “Strike for the people of the City the parable of the two persons (al-nafsayn)”. These two “souls” represent two contrasting religious “factions” (al-hizbayn). Individualized, the good one of the two “souls” appears (like the Bab) in the “Sacred Mosque” (al-masjid al-ḥaram; cf. Q. l7:1), a “vision of justice” (ru'yat al-`adl) while the other symbolizes a false messiah, another Gate (Bāb) in opposition to the Gate (al-Bāb) and destined for hell. That aspects of this symbolism relate  to the Shaykhi exegesis of the Khutba al-Tutunjiyya is especially clear from this verse of the Surat al-madinah, For the latter [of the two “souls”] were [provided] two rivers (nahrayn) in the land of the "two Wests" (fi arḍ al-maghribayn);  having two gardens (jannatayn) in one of  the two gulfs (khalījayn).  

 Qayyūm al-asmā' 109

 Several of the most important references and interpretations of the twin gulfs cosmology of the Kh-T in the Qayyūm al-asmā'  are found in Surah 109, the Sūrat al-`Abd (Surah of the Servant). As noted this Surah bears four isolated letters which spell the name Muhammad (M-Ḥ-M-D) and opens with an address to the "denizens of the Divine Throne" (ahl al-`arsh) followed by one addressed to the people of the earth:

يا اهل الارض

 اسمعوا نداء الطّيور علی شجرة المتورّقة من كافور الظّهور فی وصف هذا الغلام

العربیّ المحمّدیّ العلویّ الفاطمیّ المكّیّ المدنیّ الابطحیّ العراقیّ

 بما قد تجلّی الرّحمن علی ورقاتهنّ انّه هو العلیّ و هو اللّه كان عزيزاً حميداً

"O people of the earth!

Hearken unto the  Call of the birds upon the Tree leafed out in Camphor evocative of the depiction of this Youth who is at once Arabic, Muhammad related, `Alid, Fāṭimid, Meccan, Medinan, pre-   (al-abṭḥā) and Iraqi. This in that he hath indeed  divulged the glory of the All-Merciful (tajalli al-rahman) unto their  leaves [birds]  for He, verily, is Elevated. And He is God Who is One Mighty, Praiseworthy."

In the following key pericope within the Surat al-`Abd the Bāb spells out aspects of his spiritually transcendentalized appearance in a poetically and mystical suggestive fashion coming to make mention of the  سرّ الطّتنجين    or "mystery of the "twin Gulfs" ". Reminiscent of certain statements about the beautiful appearance of the occulted, hidden Imam contained in the Bihar al-anwār and elsewhere (see Majlisi, Bihar2 53:1ff) the Bāb begins,

هذا فتی ابيض فی اللّون و ازعج فی العين سوی فی الحاجبين مستوی الاطراف كاذهب المفرغ الطّریّ من العين مشاشة المنكبين كالفضّة المصفيّة المائلة فی الكأسين علوّ هيبته

The succeeding paragraph or very long verse is an esoteric, imamological expression of the claims and eschatological function of the Bab as the one (like Imam `Ali) presiding over those now recreated spheres of existence which are the "twin gulfs" etc. It contains aspects of the Bab's  eschatologically charged development of Sayyid Kāẓim Rashti's exegesis of the twin-gulfs cosmology, linking, for example, the motif of  [Imam]`Ali presiding over (wāqif `ala) the "twin gulfs" with the Bāb operating -- with the permission of God -- as the eschatological Judge (ḥākim)  throughout all existence, encompassed by the twin "gulfs" of (loosely) "heaven" and "hell". The Bāb pictures several times pictures himself as the supreme Duality presiding over the realms of cosmic duality. He is in various ways symbolically of dual nature : (1) his name is  [1] `Ali + [2] Muhammad (2) (2) he is like the barzakh (ithmus) or "barrier" differentiating two "amr"s (lit. commands") or modes of possible  being (3) he is graphically the dual structured Bāb (باب   = bāb =ب  + ا + ب  ), the spelling of which consists of a duality of "B"s with an upright letter "A" in the centre  suggestive of his presiding as "A" over two "b"-generated "gulfs"  as the Lord of Being (4) His descent as one named `Ali Muhammad, from Muhammad through [1] `Ali and [2] Fatima also suggests his being transcendentally Dual, etc.

 قد ظهرت علی هيبة الاوّلين و انبساط رحمته قد نشرت علی الملك كرحمة الحسنين لم ير قطب السّماء بمثله فی العدل كالعدلين و فی الفضل كالنّيّرين الجامع فی الاسمين من اعلی الجيبين و برزخ الامرين فی سرّ الطّتنجين الواقف كالالف القائم بين السّطرين علی مركز العالمين ً

"He [the Bāb] was indeed made manifest in the form of the two Primal Ones (al-awwalayn) [= Muhammad and `Ali?] and hath outstretched His Divine Mercy (raḥmat) such that it was diffused within the earthly dominion (al-mulk) even as the Mercy of the two [Imam] Ḥasans [No.2 son of `Ali and no. 11 al-Askarī]. It was such that its like  is never seen [even] at the [very] Pivot of Heaven (qutb al-ama') such was the  [expression of Divine] Justice (al-`adl), being tantamount to a Double [outpouring of] Justice (`al-`adlayn).  And in [the outpouring of] Divine Bounty (faḍl) he is even as the twin shining Lights (al-nayyirayn) conjoined in the two Names pertinent to the supremely elevated twin Depths [Bosoms] (al-jaybayn) as well as the Barzakh (Isthmus) of the two Causes (al-amrayn) pertinent to the secret of the two Gulfs (sirr al-ṭutunjayn), [He is ] the One presiding upright like the standing letter "A" between the two [alphabetiical] lines (al-wāqif ka'l-alif al-qā'im bayn al-saṭrayn) (cf the shape of  باب   = bāb ) above the midmost-heart of the two worlds (`alā markiz al-`alamayn).

الحاكم باذن اللّه فی النّشاتين الاخرتين سرّ العلويين و بهجة الفاطمين و ثمرة قديمة من الشّجرة المباركة المحمّرة بالنّار العمائين و قدّة من قدوة الحجب المتلألين بالخفقين الواقف حول النّار فی البحرين شرف السّمإ الی علل الارضين و كفّ من طين الارض علی اهل الجنّتين هاتين مدهامتين علی نقطة المغربين و هذين سرّ الاسمين فی خلف المشرقين المولّد فی الحرمين و النّاظر بالقبلتين من ورإ الكعبتين المصلّی علی عرش الجليل مرّتين مالك الامرين و المإ الطّاهر فی الخليجين النّاطق فی المقامين و العالم بالامامين البإ السّائرة فی المإ الحروفين و النّقطة الواقفة علی باب الالفين المدوّر حول اللّه فی الدّورين و المنطّق عن اللّه فی الكورين عبد اللّه و ذكر حجّته علی العالمين

He is the One who, with the permission of God, is [presiding as] the Judge (al-ḥākim)  throughout the twin spheres of latter-day [eschatological] generated existence (al-nishātayn al-ākhiratayn), as the Mystery of the dual  `Alid nature (sirr al-`alawiyyayn) and the Delight which is doubly Fāṭimid (bihjat al-fāṭimiyyayn).  [This concerns the Bab as] a Pre-Existent Fruit (thamara qadīma) from the Blessed Tree  (al-shajarat al-mubāraka) [Fatima] rendered  crimson through the [Sinaitic] Fire of the doubly beclouded Sphere (al-`amā'ayn); He [the Bab] is One  visibly variagated  on account of the nature of that Veil (qiddat min qudūd al-ḥijāb) which is doubly brilliant with twofold flashes [wings] (al-mutalā'lā'ayn bi'l-khafqayn). He [the Bab] is One presiding about the [Sinaitic] Fire (wāqif ḥawl al-nār) in the two [cosmic] Oceans (al-baḥrayn), one Illustrious of Heaven (sharaf al-samā') [yet inclined] towards the  defectiveness  of the two Earths (`ilal al-arḍayn). He molded the Earth  from [a mere handful of] clay (ṭīn) [then] elevated it for the denizens of the two Paradises (ahl al-jannatayn), they two  ADD

they both [for the sake] of the Throne of Glory (`arsh al-jalīl),  twice existent, thereon the King of the two Modes of the Divine Command (mālik al-amrayn) and the Purified Water

هذا الغلام يقال لجدّه ابرهيم و هو الرّوح فی الاوّلين و هو الباب بعد البابين الاخرين و الحمد للّه ربّ العاليمن و هو اللّه قد كان بالعالمين محيطا

"This is the Youth who addresses his forbear Abraham saying, `This is indeed is the Spirit of the  two Primal Ones (al-awwalayn) [= Muhammad and `Ali?] for  he [the Bab] is the Gate after the two latter Day [eschatological] Gates [Shaykh Ahmad + Sayyid Kazim?]. And praise be to God, the All-Encompassing Lord of all the worlds.   

        In another pericope or lengthy verse of the Sūrat al-`abd reference is made to the people or denizens of the sphere of the two Gulfs and to the related "two Easts" and the "two Wests":

يا قرّه العين

 فانطق باذن اللّه علی لحن الحبيبين و قل انّی انا الحقّ بالنّورين فی الحولين و انّی انا المكلّم عن اللّه فی الطّورين

و انّی انا المنزل باللّه هذين فرقانين علی الحبيبين فی الاسمين هذا علی الحبيب محمّد كبير السّنّ فی السّنّتين

هذان فرقانان من ربّ العالمين علی اهل الطّتنجين من اهل المشرقين و المغربين و انّ اللّه قد كان بالعالمين شهيداً

O Qurrat al-`Ayn (Solace of the Eye)!

Cry out with the permission of God according to the melody of the twin Beloveds (al-ḥabibayn) and say: `I am indeed the Truth (innani anā al-ḥaqq) in the two Lights (al-nūrayn) about the two [Sinaitic] Locales (ḥawlayn). And I am indeed the One Who Conversed (mukallim) with God in the twin [Sinaitic] Mounts (al-ṭūrayn). And I am indeed the revealer through God of these two Furqāns [= Qur'āns] unto the twin Beloveds (al-ḥabībayn) with the two Names (al-ismayn). The same unto the Beloved Muhammad, Mighty of Practise in the two customary formulations (sunna fi'l-sunnatayn), these two Furqāns [=Qur'āns] from the Lord of the two worlds [revealed] unto the people of the twin Gulfs (ahl al-ṭutunjayn), the denizens of the "two Easts" and of the "Two Wests". And God is indeed witness throughout all the worlds."

The Tafsīr of the Bāb on a passage in the Sharḥ Khuṭbat al-Ṭutunjiyya of Sayyid Kāẓim Rashtī

This probably early, roughly 5-6 page Arabic work of the Bāb, opens with the basmala  and straightway refers to the Kh-ṭutunjiyya of  “Our mawlānā (“Lord”)  [Imam] `Alī who, the Bab declares, opens this sermon with a “statement  expressive of  a thousand degrees of praise and salutation” (ālāf al-thanā’ wa’l-taḥiyya), namely,  “Praised be to God, who hath cleft the firmaments asunder, etc”.  He then refers to what the al-mu`allim (“the teacher) apparently his one time teacher Sayyid Kāẓim Rashtī had said ADD

In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate

 Our Master [Imam] `Alī  said (upon him be peace) in the Khuṭbat al-Ṭutunjiyya (“Sermon of the Gulf”)  according to his statement  expressive of  a thousand degrees of praise and salutation (ālāf al-thanā’ wa’l-taḥiyya),  “Praised be to God, who hath cleft the firmaments asunder, etc”.  And the teacher (al-mu`allim) [Sayyid Kāẓim Rashtī] said -- may my spirit be a sacrifice for him -- `I indeed do say, `In the Name of God’ and `Praised be to God’, for I seek commencement in God”  in commenting upon the mystery of the Word (fī sharḥ sirr min al-kalimat) which hath been commented upon by the Word of Truth (kalimat al-ḥaqq) (= Sayyid Kāẓim himself ) – may my spirit be a sacrifice unto him – respecting the Khuṭbat al-Ṭutunjiyya  (“Sermon of the Gulf”) that he might instruct the people [about] a portion of the fullness  of the gravitas of the Book (ḥazz al-kull min ḥukm al-kitāb) as befits the portion so merited (kalimat al-thawāb)  and in accordance with what God had willed respecting that snow-white Leaf (al-waraqat al-bayḍā’).


Comments of the Bāb on Khuṭbat al-ṭutunjiyya IV:4 in his Tasfīr al-hā' (I&II) and other writings.

In Kh-T Imam `Alī at one point apparently declares his having a direct vision of God and Paradise when he states at  IV:4,

رأيت (رحمة) الله والفردوس  رأي العين

With the vision of [mine own] the eyes did I see [the Mercy of ] God  ([raḥmat] Allāh ) and Paradise (al-firdaws).

The recent printing of the Mashariq al-anwar of Rajab al-Bursi referred to above does not read "I saw God" but has "I saw the Mercy of God" for direct vision of God is generally regarded as impossible in the Abrahamic religions -- Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It appears that this is a pious toning down of a controversial line in the Kh-T for the text cited by the Bab in several of his writings including his early Tafsir Surat al-Baqara ( ADD) does not have vision of the رحمة الله  ("Mercy of God")  but has `Alī declaring his direct vision of God. This is obviously designed to express Imam `Ali's superiority to Moses and others in the Jewish and Christian traditions who failed to directly vision the Godhead.

When Moses requests vision of God in Exodus 33:18-23 he asks to see God's (Heb.)  kabod ("glory") but is is only offered indirect vision not of His "face" (panim) but of His "backside" (`ahorayim) while sheltering in the "cleft of a rock". Only God's "goodness" (tobah), the providential aspect of His Being, may be experienced when protected by the divine "hand" not any aspect of his Essence, Self identity or transcendent Being. Direct vision of God is impossible in the Hebrew Bible and Jewish tradition. The Qur'an has a very similar teaching. It illustrating this matter graphically when the divine tajalli  (theophanic self-disclosure) causes a mountain near Sinai to be reduced to dust and Moses to fall down in a swoon (Q. 7:143).

 The direct vision of the absolute divine Essence of the Godhead (dhat Allah) is also regarded as impossible in both the Babi or Baha'i sacred scriptures. The Bab underlined this very strongly throughout his writings. While he cited Kh-T IV:4 at least six times he never interpreted it literally.

Tafsīr Sūrat al-baqara (Commentary on the Surah of the Cow), Q. 2:ADD. 

Tafsīr al-hā' I  (Commentary on the Letter "H" ) 

Tafsīr al-hā' II  (Commentary on the Letter "H" ) 

Tafsīr Sūrat al-ḥamd (Commentary on the Surah of the Praise", Q. )

al-Lawāmi' al-badī`  ("The Wondrous Brilliances") c. 1846/7,

In his epistle known as al-Lawāmi' al-badī`  ("The Wondrous Brilliances", c. 1846/7), the Bab interpreted this line to refer to Imam 'All's inner "vision of the [Primal] Will of God" (ru'yat al-mashiyya),  not in any way a direct vision of the transcendent Deity. This is also the case in his Commentary on the Du'a al-sabah (Dawn Prayer), where the same line from the Kh-T  is quoted and interpreted in terms of the 'Vision of the Divine Theophany" (ru'yat al-tajallī), understood as a divine Manifestation not a disclosure of the divine Essence.

The Letter in reply to Questions of  Nasir al-Din Karbala'i

The detailed and fascinating Arabic letter of the Bab

The Khuṭbat al-Jidda  (Homily from Jeddah)

The  Commentary of the Bab upon Lawḥ maḥfūẓ  ("The Preserved Tablet"), Q. 85:22

        While the opening lines of the Bāb’s early Khuṭbat al-Jidda  (Homily from Jeddah) appear to be  influenced  by the opening words of the al-Khuṭba al-ṭutunjiyya  (INBMC 91:60-61; cf. Ibid 50 [untitled]), the definite and deep influence of the Kh-ṭutunjiyya  upon the following two translated paragraphs  (VII-VIII) of the Bāb’s  commentary upon the qur’ānic phrase lawḥ maḥfūẓ  ("The Preserved Tablet", Q. 85:22) -- which has to so with the Divine Decree and human destinies -- is  obvious :


[1] And God assuredly made this to be that Book (al-kitāb) , the Supremely Great Tablet (lawh al-akbar). [2] And He foreordained therein whatsoever was called into being  at the beginning and the end [of things]  (abda` fi al-bad` wa'l-khatm). [3] God destined for that Book (al-kitab)  two Gates (bābayn) unto the depth [mystery] of the two Gulfs (li-sirr al-ṭutunjayn), through the Water of the two Bays (mā’ al-khalījayn).  [4] One of these two [streams of water] is the Water of the Euphrates of the Realities of  the Elevated Beings (mā’ al-firāt ḥaqā’iq al-`aliyyīn) [who are] of the inmates of the two Easts (min ahl al-mashriqayn) from the two [regions] most proximate [unto God] (min al-aqrabayn). [5] The second of the two [streams] is [that of] the Water of the fiery Hellish Expanse of the saline bitterness [streaming] from the inmates of the two Wests (min ahl al-maghribayn), from the two [regions] most remote [from God] (min al-ab`adayn [sic.]). And God fashioned above every entrance (`alā kull bāb)  the tripartite [trinitarian] form (ṣūrat al-tathlīth). And within the threefold form is the trinitarian Personage [= Jesus?] (haykal al-tathlīth) [leading] unto the depth of the gates of Gehenna (li-tamām abwāb al-jaḥīm)..


[1] And God fashioned above every entrance (`alā kull bāb) the triadic form (ṣūrat al-tathlīth). [2] And within the triadic  form is the trinitarian Personage [temple = Jesus as one wrongly worshipped] (haykal al-tathlīth) [leading] unto the totality of the gates of Genenna  (li-tamām abwāb al-jaḥīm),  the nineteen waystations of the pre-existent Judge (min al-ḥākim al-qadīm) (cf. Q. 74:26-31). [3] And God assuredly made in the interior dimension (bāṭin)  of that [aforementioned Guarded] Tablet [of Destiny] (al-lawḥ [al-maḥfūẓ])  [naught but]  a Mercy and a sweet repose  (raḥmat wa rāḥat)  [4] though in its exterior dimension (ẓāhir)  did he of old ordain punishment (al-`udhāb). [5] And praised be unto God, their Unifier (mawaḥḥid) transcendent above whatsoever they resolve

(The Bāb, Q. L-Maḥfūẓ,  80). See further:

 The Persian  Dalā'il-i Sab`a  (Seven Proofs).

About half way through his Persian  Dalā'il-i Sab`a  (Seven Proofs) (c. 1848)  the Bāb explicitly cites the passage from Kh-T  (XI:13 see trans. below) about the outward latter day realization of the divine theophany before Moses. He introduces his partly paraphrased  citation in the following interesting way:

و از جمله كلماتی كه قلب بان ساكن ميگردد كلام امير المؤمنين ( ع) است . كه در خطبهء تطنجيه فرموده .

الی ان قال

 فتوقعوا مكلم موسی من الشجرة الطور . فيظهر هذا ظاهر مكشوف و معاين و موصوف.

 و نظر نموده كه غير از ذكر اننی انا اللّه لا اله انا . از آن ظاهر نشده و نميشود

"And among the utterances that incline the heart towards repose is the statement of  the Commander of the Faithful (Amīr al-Muminīn = Imam `Alī) found in the Sermon of the Gulf   (khuṭbah-' tuṭunjiyya)  at the point where he says, 

"So anticipate ye the [theophany of the] He Who conversed with Moses (mukallim mūsā) from the [Sinaitic] Tree on the Mount (min al-shajarat al-ṭūr) for such shall be manifest outwardly unveiled, publicly celebrated and  clearly depicted (mawṣūf)".

Then observe that aside from the mention of "I verily, am God, no God is there except Me" [by the Bāb himself] such [ a promise] hath not been outwardly realized..."

    The Bāb implies that apart from his own uttering of the Sinaitic claim to Divinity "I, verily, am God" which parallels what God said to Moses on the Sinaitic Mount,  the promise of the Kh-T would not have been realized. He then continues to cite further eschatologicaly suggestive passages from the Kh-T (see below XIII:3 and ADD       ):

و در همين خطبه در موضع ديگر فرموده . و ان لكم بعد حين . طرفة تعلمون بها بعض البيان و ينكشف لكم صنايع البرهان.

الی ان قال . فعند ذلك ترتج الاقطار بالدعات الی كل باطل . هيهات هيهات توقعوا حلول الفرج الاعظم . و اقباله فوجاً فوجا۰

"And in another place within the very same Sermon (khuṭba) he says, "For you [there shall be a disclosure] "after a moment" (ba`ad ḥīn, abjad = 68), a twinkling novelty (al-ṭurfa) [star?] on account of which you shall  know something of the Bayan ("clear exposition") and there shall be disclosed for you wondrous evidences of demonstrative Proof (sanā'i` al-burhān)" [= XIII:2b-3a] until he [Imam `Alī further] says, " ADD REST + COMMENTS

Cf. "In due course there shall appear  a [twinkling] novelty (al-ṭurfa) [star?]  through which you shall come to realize aspects of this [matter] clearly (al-bayān).

The Khuṭbat al-Ṭutunjiyya in the writings Mirza Husayn `Ali Nuri, Baha'-Allah (d. 1892 CE).

    Both the Bāb and Bahā'-Allāh saw themselves as the eschatological theophany of the Sinaitic speaker (mukallim al-ṭūr)  whose future advent is predicted by `Alī  in the Kh-T at XI:13 in the translation below (see Bursī, Mashariq, 168; Lambden 1986, index):

فتوقعوا ظهور مكلم موسی من الشجره علی الطور

then anticipate ye the theophany of the Speaker  who conversed with Moses  (ẓuhūr mukallim mūsā)  from the Tree upon the Mount [Sinai]  (min al-shajarat `ala al-ṭūr)  for He shall assuredly be outwardly unveiled and publicly celebrated...

The  لوح جوهر حمد , Lawḥ-i Jawhar-i ḥamd.

        The Lawḥ-i jawhar-i hamd  (Tablet of the Essence of Praise) is an unpublished Persian Epistle of Bahā'-Allāh  largely addressed to the people of the world collectively. It opens with a paragraph in which God's supreme transcendence and essential incomprehensibility are clearly and categorically set forth. The next few paragraphs contain many points of interest and serve to underline the elevated status of the Manifestations or Messengers of God. The "Blessed and Primordial Word (kalimat) which shone forth from the Dawning-Place of the mashiyya  (Will) of the King of the Divine Oneness/ God" as the agent of creation is equated with the nafs (Logos-Self) of the mazhar-i ilahi  (Manifestation of God). As the exclusive intermediaries between God and creation, the great Prophets represent the Godhead and express His divinity. Prophecies about the eschatological advent of God refer to them and to Bahā'-Allāh in particular for, as the zuhúr i-a'zam ("Most Great Theophany"), he has been manifested in every age and cycle with a particular Name, and appeared on the "Day of God." Despite the fact that "He Who Conversed with the Speaker (mukallam-i kalím) [Moses]" disclosed the ism-i a'ẓam ("Greatest Name") or identity of Bahā'-Allāh, souls have remained veiled from him.

 About half way through his Tablet of the Essence of Praise, Bahā'-Allāh mentions how different religious factions have been held back from faith on account of his various claims to nubuwwa ("Prophethood") wilāya ("authoritative Guidance") and ulūhiyya ("Divinity"). He expresses astonishment that Jews, Christians, and other communities in possession of a Holy Book object to his claim to divinity and writes:

"Say: 0 thou who art dumb! Hast thou not heard the Call of God from the [Sinaitic] Tree (al-shajarat) raised up from the Luminous Spot (al-buq'a an-nūrā), "No God is there except Him." Then consider this and be not such as hearken but fail to comprehend."

It is implied that Bahā'-Allāh's claim to divinity was foreshadowed on Sinai. In defending the legitimacy of his claim to divinity, Bahā'-Allāh also quotes and comments on that line of the "blessed Sermon of the Gulf which shone forth from the horizon of the heaven of wilāya  [Imam 'Ali]" in which the advent of "He Who conversed with Moses" (mukallim musa) on Sinai is mentioned. He stresses the importance of this prophecy and declares that through it "all the peoples of the world were given the glad-tidings of the [eschatological] manifestation of God (zuhur Alláh)." Referring to himself, he explains: "Today He Who conversed with Moses (mukallam musa) hath appeared and hath cried out, 'I, verily am God.' " That a Prophet of God would be made manifest and make such claims is, Bahā'-Allāh also argues, anticipated in various Islamic traditions (hadith) and quranic texts. The "Day of Resurrection" is the time of the rising up of the "Manifestation of the Logos-Self of God" (mazhar-i nafs Alláh). (adapted from Lambden, 1987: 156-7) It is  clear from the Lawh-i Jawhar-i hamd that the above cited line (XI:13 below) of the Kh-T  is central to the theophanic self-understanding of both the Bāb and Bahā'-Allāh  who both saw themselves as the fulfillment of the words,

فتوقعوا ظهور مكلم موسی من الشجره علی الطور

... then anticipate ye the theophany of the Speaker  who conversed with Moses  (ẓuhūr mukallim mūsā) from the Tree upon the Mount [Sinai] (min al-shajarat `ala al-ṭūr) for He shall assuredly be outwardly unveiled and publicly celebrated...

The Bab and Baha'-Allah saw this line as a very significant eschatological prediction strongly suggestive of the (subordinate) Divinity of the latter-day manifestation of God. This Persian Lawḥ-i Jawhar-i ḥamd  ("The Tablet of the Essence of Praise') of Bahā'-Allāh explicitly refers  to the Kh-T as a "blessed sermon" (khuṭbat-i mubārakah)  which 'radiated forth' (ishrāq namūdah)  from  Imam `Alī  who is referred to as "the horizon of the heaven of absolute walāya ("divine guidance")  (ufq-i samā'-yi vilāyat-i muṭlaqah). The Persian text and translation of pertinent sections of the Lawḥ-i jawhar-i hamd   may now be selectively cited: and loosely translated:

     اگر چه خطبه مباركه طتنجيه كه از افق سما ولايت مطلقه اشراق نموده بلسان ابدع پارسی شرح نشده ...

  مقصود آن حضرت از ذكر خطبه اين كلمه مباركه بوده كه ميفرمايد:  فتوقعوا ظهور مكلم موسی من الشجره علی الطور

 و اين كلمه بمنزله قطب است يدور حولها رحی الحكمة و البيان و باين كلمه جميع اهل عالم را بظهوراللّه بشارت دادهاند ... اليوم مكلم موسی ظاهر و بانّی انااللّه ناطق ًانتهی

... although the blessed Khuṭbah-yi ṭutunjiyya ("Sermon of the Gulf") which shone forth from the horizon of the heaven of absolute walāya ("divine guidance") (ufq-i samā'-yi vilāyat-i muṭlaqah) hath not been commented upon in the most wondrous Persian tongue (bi-lisān-i abda`-i pārsī) ... the intention of that Holy Personage [= Imam `Alī] in delivering that Sermon (Khuṭbah [Ṭutunjiyya]) was [essentially for the sake of] this blessed statement (kalimat-i mubārakah),  wherein he says, "then anticipate ye the theophany of the Speaker  who conversed with Moses (ẓuhūr mukallim mūsā) from the Tree upon the Mount [Sinai] (min al-shajarat `alā al-ṭūr)".  And this [particular] statement (kalimat), as the locus of the revelation of the Pivot (manzilat-i quṭb) [Imam Alī],  is circled about by the very millstones of wisdom and exposition (ruḥīy al-ḥikmat wa'l-bayan) for through this statement (kalimat) all of the peoples of he world were given the glad-tidings of the [eschatological] theophany of God (ẓuhūr Allāh)... today the "One Who conversed with Moses" (mukallim Mūsās) [= Bahā'-Allāh] is apparent (ẓāhir) and crieth out [saying],  "I, verily, I am God"... (Lawḥ-i Jawhar-i ḥamd, mss. p. XX; INBMC 36: [161-8] ADD; cf. Ishrāq Khāvarī, Raḥīq  Makhtum X: XXX).

The Lawh-i Ibn-i Dhi`b (Epistle to the Son of the Wolf) (c. 1891 CE).

        One of the latest major works of Baha'-Allah this lengthy Persian epistle was addressed to Shaykh Muhammad Taqī Najafī (d. 1914) the son of Muhammad Baqir Najafi (d.       )  is fairly rich in Sinaitic and related theological materials fn. 253 and contains an important section on the question of Bahā'-Allāh's claim to divinity. About a quarter of the way through his treatise, he records that either Shaykh Muhammad or some other opponent of the Bahā'ī religion had suggested that the qur`anic Sūrat at-tawḥīd  ("Sura of the Divine Unity", Qur'an 112) be translated [into Persian], to the end that it may be clear to all that "the one true God begetteth not, nor is He begotton." This was with a view to countering the assertions of such "Bábís" (i.e., Bahá'ís) as "believe in his [Bahá'u'lláh's] Divinity", his rubūbiyya, ( lit.) "Lordship" and ulūhiyya ("Godhood" or "Divinity")". fn. 254 Immediately after recording such views, Bahā'-Allāh defends his claim to divinity in the following terms:

"This station [Divinity] is the station in which one dieth to himself (fanā' az nafs) and liveth in God (baqā' bi-Allāh)"  fn. 255

Concluding Note

        It is thus evident that many Babi-Baha'i sources have reference in Arabic (or Persian trans.) خطبة الطتنجيه  / خطبة ' طتنجيه   almost always with  the    طتنج   spelling which is most likely due to Shaykhi influence or more precisely the influence of the Sharh Khutbat al-Ṭutunjiyya of Sayyid Kazim Rashti where this spelling is dominant. Whatever the earliest or "correct" spelling of the most probably Arabic loanword (Ṭ[T]-N-J)  the spelling preferred by (Shaykh Ahmad al-Ahsa'i and) Sayyid Kazim Rashti became dominant in Babi-Baha'i literatures in which the writings of the revered second Shaykhi leader and one time "teacher" of the Bāb were very highly regarded. 


Variant readings, notes and commentary To be added 2005-6

 Pararaph I


يخلق البحار والجبال على تلاطم تيار رفيق رئيق

فتق رتجاها * فتغطمت امواجها  

* An alternative reading registered in the Dar al-Andalus printing of al-Bursi in fn.1 p. 166 is:    كذا وظاهر  رتاجها  *  

Pararaph II


 He dispatched him [Muhammad]  as a rightly guided (mahdī)

Guide for others (hadi),  one who was a dignified leader, of talismanic disposition (tilismānī).


و هي في خزف من التطنج الايمن مما يلي المشرق والتطنجان

Such is within earthen ware  (khazaf) at the right-hand Gulf (min al-tuṭunj al-ayman)

which faces the East (al-mashriq) and [towards another of ?] the twin Gulfs (al-tuṭunjayn). 

The words   هي في خزف    hiya fi khazaf   translated "Such is within an  earthen ware cleft (khazaf)"  might perhaps be translated "within an earthen ware vessel"... ADD..

It is a phrase reminiscent of Quran 55:14 which,  also on cosmological lines, mentions  the creation of man / humanity from clay ( ṣalṣāl in ), like "potter's clay", perhaps clay ready to be fashioned into shape:

خلق الانسان من صلصال كالفخار

 He created man [humanity] from fermented clay like earthenware  (khalaqa al-insān min ṣalṣāl in k'l-fakhār)  




Nigh that time there shall be convulsion in all quarters through the summoning  unto all manner of false perversion (al-bāṭil).


How preposterous! How very preposterous! [this shall be]


Yet anticipate you the onset of the supremely great repose (al-farj a`ẓam)  for such will be accepted in troops (fawj an fawj an).


بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِ
إِذَا جَاء نَصْرُ اللَّهِ وَالْفَتْحُ

وَرَأَيْتَ النَّاسَ يَدْخُلُونَ فِي دِينِ اللَّهِ أَفْوَاجًا

فَسَبِّحْ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّكَ وَاسْتَغْفِرْهُ إِنَّهُ كَانَ تَوَّابًا


When there shall come the victory of God (nasr Allah) and the triumph (al-fatḥ)


then you shall see the people entering the religion of God (dīn Allāh) in troops (afwāj an)


So glory in the praise of thy Lord and seek His forgiveness for He hath ever been inclined towards 



Select Bibliography -- to be added

al-Ahsa'i, Shaykh Ahmad b. Zayn al-Din.


Corbin, Henri,

al-Hā'irī, Hajj Shaykh `Ali al-Yazdi  (d. 1333/ 1915)

  • Ilzām al-nāṣib fi ithbāt al-ḥujjat al-al-ghā'ib vol. 2 (5th ed. Beirut: Mu'assat al-A`lā, 1404/1984)  This compilation of Shi`i messianic and apocalyptic materials contains both the Kufa delivered Khutbat al-Bayan (see vol. 2 pp. 232-242) and a recension of the Khutbat al-tutunjiyya (vol. 2 pp. 242-252) perhaps derived from

Lambden, Stephen.


Lawson, B. Todd

Rashti, Sayyid Kazim (d. 1259/1843).