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TB-Sūrat al-Man` (The Surah of the Interdiction). I



Sūrat al-Man` (The Surah of the Interdiction)

of Mirza Husayn `Ali Nuri, Baha'-Allah (1817-1892).

Introduction and preliminary Notes

Stephen Lambden

Last corrected and updated 23-02-2016.

The Arabic neo-Qur'anic and neo-Babi (see the Surah titles of the Qayyum al-asma') Surah (Chapter) title al-man` could be variousely trannslated. The Arabic triliteral root m-n-`  has to do with stopping or maintaining isolation through withdrawal or non encounter, to restrain, hold back or be withdrawn, to forbid or interdict. An Arabic verbal-noun dervied from this foundational root could thus be translated `Interdiction', `Withdrawal' `Isolation' .... On a theological level al-man` might be indictIve of the apophatic beyondness of Baha'-Allah as a Manifestation of the Transcendet Godhead such that Surat al-man`, might be rendered `The Surah of the One Beyond', `The Surah of the Unapproachable'. More probably, however, this Surah title alludes to Baha'-Allah's maintenance of his messianic secret; that a knowledge of the full disclose of his theophanic claims was not approprate for all. Some might attain his presence, others preferrably not. He should be not be approached but should (temporarily) remain unavailable. A widespead knowledge of his claims and earthly location (presumably) in Edirne (within the Ottoman Empire) could become problematic  for many at a time when elevated or competing claims were best undisclosed. While select mature Babis might approach Baha-Allah others would be best counseled to remain apart.  

Mss. and printed texts of the Surat al-man`

  • Unpublished, uncatalogued ms. Afnan Library (previously Iran).
  • INBMC 83:148-150.

The Sūrat al-Man` (The Surah of the Interdiction) of Baha'-Allah, is translated on this website from an unpublished ms. originating in Iran from copy of which I examined when it was part of the personal library of the late Hasan Balyuzi (now the Afnan Library). I have also consulted the ms. within the compilation of Baha'-Allah's writings extant in photocopied (green bound) form in INBMC 83: 148-150 which lacks the opening verse of identification. This latter opening would appear to be an authentic part of this Tablet since Baha-Allah uses similar identificatory prefaces at the commencement of many other titled Tablets:

It will also be evident that the INBMC 83 ms. text cited (or imaged above from INBMC 83: 183) is prefaced with the following line  referring to a Babi-Baha'i named Shaykh Muhammad who originated from the city, region or land of al-nun ( = Naraq, Nayriz??):

Jinab-i [His eminence] Shaykh Muhammad in [the locality designated] "N" (al-nun) who attained unto the Precinct of Nearness (shatir al-qurb) being numbered among such as have attained [the divine presence of Baha'-Allah]. 

The Sūrat al-Man` (The Surah of the Interdiction) commences as follows :


This is the Sūrat al-Man` (The Surah of the Interdiction) in which He witholdeth the servants from orienting themselves towards the Shore of Holiness (shatr al-quds);  save, that  is, such as have His permission, for He indeed is One Wise (al-hakim), the All-Knowing (al-`alim). 

This Surah preface of identification is followed by the following huwa ("He is") theological commencement evocative of the Divine transcendence and revolutionary creative power : 

 He is the Most Innovative (huwa al-abda`),

the Transcendent, the Most Transcendent (al-`ali al-a`la).

The text then continues

"This is a Book (kitāb) in which He, in very Truth, crieth out and maketh mention of one among Our servants (al-`ibād) to the end that he render thanks unto God, his Lord, and be numbered among the especially thankful (al-shākirīn)."

Its first address is to an individual, probably believing Babi who is counseld to : 

O servant!

Announce within thyself the glad-tidings for God hath called thee to remembrance and hath, this very night, gathered together the Temples of Names (hayā’kil al-asmā’) by virtue of My Transcendent, Supremely Transcendent (al-`aliyy) (al-a`lā) Sovereignty (sulṭāni) on which account cometh rapture through the Encounter with Him (liqā’) at every luminous dawn time (fajr munīra).

The wider human or Babi-Baha'i community are the addressed by the divine command "Say : O people!" followed by the terse or emphatic "By God, the True One!".