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The Bab - Ṣaḥīfa bayn al-ḥaramayn. trans. Lambden

Opening lines in ms. 6007C: 348

The Ṣaḥīfa bayn al-ḥaramayn

("The Treatise [written] between the Two Shrines [Mecca and Medina]") of Sayyid `Ali Muhammad, the Bab.

Translation in progress : last modified, corrected and updated 02-11-2016 + 12-03-2024.

Stephen Lambden, UCMerced

The early ṣāḥifā bayn al‑ḥaramayn (`Epistle Between the Two Shrines’; 1261/1845) of  the twenty‑six year old Bāb, dates to about six months after the commencement, in mid. May 1844, of the Qayyum al-asma' or Tafsir Surat Yusuf (Commentary on the Surah of Joseph. Q. 12). In making this very beta or provisional translation, I have consuted TBA. Ms. 6004C,  the ms. in the Cambridge University Library (F7[9]) and a ms. within a compilation deriving from a certain Baqir Naraqi found in  the Majlis Library Tehran (No. 1448, see Introduction). These mss. of this early work of the Bab dating to 1261 AH/mid. January 1845,  conatin  quite a few expository insertions and a fairly large number of variant and alternative readings; for a few details see the introductory page about the Sahifa bayn al-haramayn on this website. I have here and there in this translation, added a few clarificatory notes in square brackets and select transliteration in curved brackets. These and other critical  details will be spelled out in due course when a more polished semi-critical edition is realized.

This Book or Sahifa ws composed in responce to enquiries from the prominent Shaykhi Mīrzā Muhammad Ḥusayn, Muḥīṭ‑i Kirmānī and his associate Sayyid `Ali al-Kirmani. As noted by E.G. Browne (d. 1926) at the beginning of CUL. Ms F 7 (9), the Leyden ms. (see Introduction) opens as follows:

This wondrous Ṣaḥīfa was propagated between the two shrines [Mecca and Medina] in reply to such questions as were posed by  [Mirza Muhammad Husayn] al-Muhit [`the all-encompassing', al-Kirmani] and Sayyid `Ali al-Kirmani.

Kitab [Sahifa] bayn al-Ḥaramayn


("The Book [Treatise] revealed between the Two Shrines [Mecca and Medina]").

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

This Book (Kitab) was inded sent down within the sacred [holy] land (`ala al-ard al-muqaddas) between the Two Shrines [Mecca and Medina] on the part of one Elevated (`aliyy/`Ali), Praiseworthy [All-Wise] (hamid in [hakim]). It hath indeed been set forth through the instrumentality of the Dhikr (messianic Remembrance) (`an yad al-dhikr) as the Straight Pathway of God (sirat Allah) between the heavens and the earth. This in responce to the petition of the questioner (du`a al-sa'il), Hajji Sayyid `Ali Kirmani, regarding [seven aspects of the] well-established verses (ayat al-muhkamat). [It was sent down]  with the express permission of God  and as accords with manifest well-balanced scales [of justice] (qistas in mubin in). This perchance it might instruct the believers about the Elevated Word (kalimat al-`ulya) within the seven mathani (twice repeated cf. Q. Surah 1) and the Mighty Qur'an.

Such [was indeed set forth] with the permission of thy Lord, through the leaves [pages] of this Sahifa (Treatise) (waraqat tilka al-sahifa) [extant] within this Noble Sanctuary (mashhad al-karim). Such until, that is, the onlookers (al-nazirun) have indeed born witness unto these revealed verses (ayat al-nazila)  from the Sinaitic Tree (min shajarat al-sina'), the established Proof of God (hujjat Allah)  unto the devotees [people] of the twin originators (ahl al-nishatayn) [of the new era of Shaykhism = Shaykh Ahmad al-Ahsa'i and Sayyid Kazim Rashti], to the end that, one and all, might enter the Gate of the Twin Gulfs (bab al-tutunjayn) as accords with well-established proofs (bayyinat muhkamat) from God, assuredly for the elevation of the Ultimately Real (al-haqq), the One Manifest (al-mubin).

This, furtherore, that the destroyers (a-halikun) might effect annihilation in accordance with the decree of thy Lord on account [the effusions] of this purifying water (al-ma' al-tahir) effective through these twin Oceans (bahrayn) [the twin Gulfs, al-Tutunjayn; or, Shaykh Ahmad and Sayyid Kazim]. This to the end that the ones safely delivered (al-nazirun) might proffer salvation through the Word of the Book (kalimat al-kitab) after drinking of this camphorated Water (al-ma' al-kafur) from these twin rivulets (nahrayn). Such is the pleasant delight (`adhb) of the tasty Euphrates for those who might drink thereof (firat al-sa'igh al-sharibin). [On the other hand] It [another of the two streams] may also proffer the [hellish, undrinkable] salinity (milh) of the abyss (lijaj) of the melody of God (? naghmat Allah) unto the unbelievers (al-mushrikin). [Such will transpire], that it might conirm all the creatures regarding the decree of this Sahifa (Treatise) scribed out [set forth] (al-mastura) in between the two shrines (fi bayn al-haramayn) [Mecca and Medina] for this is the Word of certainty (kalimat al-yaqin) on the part of God Himself, upon clear scriptural Tablets (`ala alwah mubin).

Is it not, O thou devotees of the two [Shaykhi] stations [divisions] (ahl al-maqamayn] 

that   [all] have borne witness in the vicinity of God (bayn yada Allah), unto the decree of this Mighty Word (al-kalimat al-`azimat)? So, O two [Shaykhi] parties (hizbayn)! Be most veridicle with respect to faith if thou would be befittingly confirmed (sadiqin) in the religion of God (din Allah)! 

Is it not, O thou people of the heavens and of the earth!

that they [Shaykhis] hearkened unto the decree of the Baqiyyat Allah (Remnant of God = the hidden Imam/the Bab or the Shaykhi leaders) and enquired about the Pathway of the True One (sabil al-haqq) from the [messianic] Dhikr (Remembrance) of the Name of thy Lord [the Bab], this Arabian Youth (al-fata al-`arabi) whom thou hoped to witness relative to the [expected] decree of [fulfillment] between the two shrines (hukm al-haramayn) [Mecca and Medina], the  Word of the Dual Theophanic Cloud (kalimat al-ama'ayn), the Upright [alphabetical] Trace (al-khatt al-qa'im) [the Arabic letter A ] betwixt the two worlds (al-`alamayn)? Thus shall the Spirit (al-ruh) [cf. Jesus] assist him at every moment with the express permission of God, for He is indeed One Powerful, Mighty (quwwa `aziz).

So Know thou [Do thou act according to], O thou [two Shaykhi/Kirmani] mulla[s] [men of lerning] (mala')/ or Concourse [of Shaykhis]!

the decree of God (hukm Allah) which deriveth from  Me [the Bab]! for this is the descendent of the Messenger of God (ibn rasul Allah), this one supremely learned in the knowledge of the Divine Unity (al-tawhid) and of all of the [Divine] Attributes (sifat) pertinent to the path which has limiting stipulations (sabil al-hadd) and lauditory glorifications  (al-subuhat)!

So fear ye God!

with repesct to that which they have originated [willed] for God is indeed aware of the unseen dimension (ghayb) of the heavens and of the earth and that about which the people have enquired regarding the Dhikr (messianic Remembrance). 

So fear ye God! O possessors of intelligence (awliya al-albab)!

if you are to be reckoned [true] servants of him [the Dhikr/God]. Be not among such as are secreted away (gha'iba) within the heavens and the earth, otherwise We shall indeed make him [the Dhikr] inaccessible [hide him away] in a Preserved Book (kitab hafiz)! Say: Sufficient with God and whomsoever might be with Him, is the knowledge of the Book (al-kitab) with respect to the [now] manifest (shahid an) Dhikr of the Name of God (dhikr ism Allah)! Indeed! None is aware of its inner exegesis (ta'wil) which He hath sent down unto thee within this Book, except God Himself and whomsoeever He hath willed for He, no God is there except Him! And He is One Powerful over all things.

O thou two Mullas, men of learning [al-Muhit and Sayyid `Ali Kirmani]!

 Fear ye God! And do not dispute regarding the veracity of the verses of the Book (ayat al-Kitab) by means of a knowledge deriving from other than Us and though a Book not Preserved (la kitab hafiz)!

 [Browne Ms. p.8]

Say: Should God give thee permission to flee away according to what ill accords with the directive of the Qur'an then allow ye to enqure from the people of the Dhikr, the Remembrance (the Bab) about the Deep senses of the sacred verses of the tenets - traditions [of the Qur'an] (ta`wil  al-ayat al-ahadith) that thou do not comprehend? These are such as flee away from the Dhikr of the Name of God (dhikr ism Allah). Such are indeed among those beclouded!





[CUL. Ms. F7, 9f]  

In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate

Praised be to God Who hath indeed generated oneness through His Might (bi’l-izzat), precipitated uniqueness through His Grandeur (bi’l-`aẓimat), engendered holiness [sanctity] through His Sublimity (bi’l-kubriyā’) and greatly magnified [everything] through His Laudation (bi’l-thanā’). No God is there except Him, the Mighty (al-`aziz), the Transcendent (al-muta`āl).

I testify unto Thee, O my God!  in this my locale [station] (maqamī) in this sanctified land (al-arḍ al-muqaddasa) between Thy sacred region (al-ḥaramika), the sanctified region of the house [of God, the ka`ba in Mecca] (bayt al-ḥarām), and the sanctified region of the [shrine of] thy Beloved One (ḥabīb), Muhammad, the Messenger of God (rasūl Allāh) [in Medina] – may Thy peace and blessings be upon him and his family – for Thou do love [him] even as Thy Logos-Self (li-nafsika), for Thou art God, no God is there save Thou. There is no doubt about Thy Oneness for Thou art indeed One Elevated, Mighty.

Duplicate Translation of Ms. p. 9] O my God! I bear witness unto Thee  in my current location  [regarding my station] (fi maqami) this Most Transcendent [region] within this sacred-Holy land (al-ard al-muqaddasa) betwixt Thy Sacred [ms.p.10] Locale (haram), the Bayt al-haram, the sanctified House [the Ka`bah in Mecca] and  the Haram, sanctified Place of Thy Beloved One (habib), Muhammad, the Messenger of God (rasul Allah) - may Thy blessings be upon him and his family - on accout of the fact that Thou do love Thy Logos-Self (nafs) [reflected in him/them]  for Thou art indeed God. No God is there except Thee! There is no doubt respecting Thy Oneness

And I bear witness unto the people of Thy Loving Kindness (muhabbat) for Thou do love such as are nigh the Dawning-Place of Thy Remembrance (matla` dhikrihim) before the very Interface of Thy Countenance (tilka' wajhika) [Shaykhis]. Thou art Indeed One Who beareth witness unto all things (kull shay'). I bear witness in this night, which is the first night of the sacred month (al-shahr al-ḥarām) [= Muḥarram], the month of God (shahr Allāh). It was indeed therein that he [Imam Ḥusayn] was killed, expressing the Tasbīḥ, “the Glorification of God” and the Taḥmīd, “the Laudation of God” as well as the Letters of the Tahlīl, “the Hallowing [of the Imams]” and the Takbīr, “the Magnification [of the Imams]”, Allah al-akbar) by virtue of the killing of Thy Proof (ḥujjat), the son of Thy Proof (ḥujjat), [1] Abī `Abd Allāh, the Father of the servant of God, [Imam] al-Ḥusayn,  upon him be peace! Such was realized at the first hour of the new year year of the year sixty one; after one thousand and two hundred of the sacred Hegira (”Islamic emigration era”) (= 1261 AH).[2]


[1] By the Tasbīḥ, “the Glorification” of God, the uttering of subḥān Allāh  and the Taḥmīd, “the Laudation or Praising of God” al-ḥamnd li’llāh “Praised be to God” were expressed with the killiung or martyrdom of Imam Ḥusayn. This the Bab also closely related to his birthday. It is as if the 1st of Muharram and the 10th as the mssianic 11th (10th + 1) of Muharram are united!

[2] The Islamic years 1261 AH commenced on 

In the above lines from his Sahifa bayn al-Ḥaramayn (“The Epistle Between the Two Shrines”, c. early 1261/1845) - written not long after his XXth birthday at the commencement of  Muḥarram, 1261, 10th January  1845 - the Bab these lines which express a close relationship between the birthday of the Bab on the first of Muḥarram and the killing or martyrdom of Imam Ḥusayn on the 10th of Muḥarram. These times are somehow closely related to the very first hour of the commencement of the 1st of Muḥarram of the year 1261.   







[CUL. Ms. Or. F7, 27-37; TBA. Ms. 6007C, 360f; Majlis ms. 72f).

[See below, Select Expository Notes].

Regarding the matter [regulation] (hukm) which the questioner hath (re)cited from [writings deriving from] Thy  tongue [of revelation, the Bab] respecting the structures [pathway[s] of the threefold-triangular (al-tathlith) and the fourfold-quadrangular (al-tarbi`) talismanic configurations (hukm al‑ṭilismāt), which came forth with the sanction of thy Lord, according to a Straight Path (`alā ṣirat al‑qawīm).

Know of a certainty (yaqin)! 

And Be aware through the  knowledge of certainty (`ilm al-yaqin)! Then bear witness with the eye of certainty (`ayn al-yaqin) [unto] the decree of thy Lord in the Manifest Book (kitab in mubin in). Had you gazed upon the Countenance of the  Divine Will (wajh al‑mashiyya) the [two] limits (al-ḥaddayn) [of this world and that] would have been negated for you with respect to the [acquisition of the] knowledge of the two [aforementioned] talismans (`ilm al‑tilismayn cf. Q. 28:88; 55:26‑27) but thou would be unable to demonstrate what they are, save  relative to their  origination (bi'l‑ibdā`) for the very path of their secret [mystery]  (fī sabīl sirrihā) is attained [during the journey] unto God, the Originator, the Chosen.

Thou should not narrate regarding the pathways [configurations] (subul) of this journey towards God, except regarding its commencement (al-ikhtira`). The profundities (balighayn)  shall be cut off [from you] with respect to the apex of [its] termination (dhirwat al-inqata`a), on account of  their allusive nature, for God shall, in this respect, doom to perdition the mystic wayfarers (al-`arifin) in view of the intensity of its abstrusity  (fi `izz al-imtana`), and in view of their turning away towards what is other than this [journey]. Indeed! Such is the decree of God regarding [even the] believers (al-mu'minin) whom God hath counted among the inmates of the Garden of Paradise (ahl jannat al-firdaws). This in accord with justice (al-`adl) by means of a manifest balance (qustas mubin).

And none knoweth what is alluded to through this statement (bi'l-tasrih) regarding the Word of communication (kalimat al-tabligh),  except  those servants of God for whom He hath written down the [eschatological] Encounter [with God] (al-liqa') in every circumstance (fi kull sha`n) relative to the created realm (al-khalq). Do ye not see this in this thine own span of time ( waqt)?  That one who is the servant of God (`abd) [destined for the Meeting] might become disassociated [separated] from thee during his days, perchance the people might come to faith in the Encounter with God (liqa' Allah)!

If thou should thou gaze in the direction of the sixth configuration [surface, countenance] (wajh al-sadis) then detatch, in line with the decree of thy Lord (bi-hukm Allah), the two [aforementioned] talismans (al-tilismayn) from the threefold shape (shalk al-tathlith) [trinitarian form of the cross] and the fourfold temple (haykal al-tarbi`) [fourfold or quadrangular talismanic phenomenon], and do not be as the bearer [master] of the Fish (sahib al-hawt) [Jonah or the Arabic letter N) within the fathomless ocean (bahr `amiq)! And know that God hath indeed forbidden the wayfarers (al-salikin) in this firmament (jaww) within this [celestial] Atmosphere [Air] (al-hawa'), any remembrance (dhikr an) other then the recollection of the Fire [hellfire] according to a [two] circumstance(s) among Our [hellish] modes of being (fi sha'n min shu'un an). He, verily, no God is there except Him, the Mighty, the Wise.

Fill up the segments of the two talismans (buyut al-talismat) with the Names of thy Lord (asma' rabbika), according to thine own purpose. Thou shalt not witness anything therein, save the Water alone (ma' wahda). With the permission of thy Lord, it shall make radiant the letters (al-huruf) in all directions. One should then conjoin [compare] the mutually opposing (al-mutadaddat) [letters] and the word[ing] of the [talismanic] expressions  which are markings [testimonia, `proof testifying'] (kalimat al-dalalat), then differentiate between those which are closely related [comparable, homogneous] (al-mutajanisat) among the letter(s) which are emblematic tokens [signs, marks, indications]  (`alamat).

And there would be manifest from the inmost heart of the letters (fu`ād al‑ḥurūf) in the [celestial] world of majestic glorifications (`ālam al‑subuḥāt) what hath in no wise been understood by the people of theBook (ahl al-kitab) [Jews and Christians, etc] (`ilm min ahl al‑kitāb),  for such is the decree of God respecting the [Islamo-Babi] believers whom God made be enthroned upon the Throne of the divine Intention (`arsh al‑irāda). So be conscious of the decree [Cause] of God if you [aspire to] be [numbered] among the righteous (al-sadiqin).             

[CUL. Ms. Or. F7, 30f].

And if thou [Kirmani(s)] are to be numbered among the people of the tempestuous billows of the waves in the midmost‑heart of a mighty exultant expanse (buḥbuḥat fī `izz al‑ibtihāj), then know then the regulation of the Triadic [Threefold] [Talisman] (ḥukm al‑tathlīth)  through thine own knowledge, and pay no heed to that fact that the Christians had deduced from this shape, the form of the cross (haykal al‑ṣalīb) and  the [heretical] descent of the Divine (lāhūt) into the [mundane] world of the creatures (al‑nāsūt). So praised be God! and Exalted and Glorified be thy Lord above the depiction of those given to [incarnation type]  assimilation [imaginations] (al‑shubbhāt).

So Recite ye this! The Book [Letter] of your Lord.

Such would not prove something just (`adl) except according to  His [wise] decree for God is surely One Who Heareth, Knoweth. Then know ye of a certainity (bi'l-yaqin) that God, glorified be He, hath indeed created this [hellish] Abyss (lujjat) and what is deep therein from the Fire (al-nar) which is outwardly as Water (ma') and whose inner depth (batin) is Air (hawa')! While, furthermore, the Water (ma') is outardly Fire (nar) its inner depth (batin) is  [also] Fire (nar) constituting Fire upon Fire (nar `ala nar). Additionally, the Air (hawa') does not touch the Fire (al-nar) neither does it sprinkle forth (rashh) from the Water (al-ma')! Thus doth God strike similitudes (al-amthal) [p.31>] in the Book (al-Kitab), perchance the people might be certain about the verses [signs] of God (ayat Allah).

Wherefore do multiple dimensions (al-kathirat) [of hellish terminations] emerge within the world of finalities [ends] (al-nihaya) and what is [even] beyond this and which, with the permission of thy Lord, hath no  culminations [end-times] (la nihayat) [at all] with respect, that is, to this [hellish] Abyss (lujja). Therein the places of arrival (mawarid) are not cut off from the places of descent for the [hellish] wayfarer (manzil al-salik), except, that is, in the case of the [first] arrival therein. God indeed created these places of arrival (mawarid) to be much thinner than a [single] hair (adaq sha`r in) among [multiple] hairs (al-sha`r) and chacterized by the most severe type of the heat generated from hellfire (ashad harr an min al-nar)! It shall not even prove possible for anyone to walk thereon except according to that which might, with the pemission of God, be cast forth towards thee. So accept what We have bestowed upon thee and be ye among the thankful!

Then cast aside [discard] the numerological configuratons [pathways] (subul al-`adad) within the sectors [houses, segments] of the talismans (fi buyut al-tilismat) gazing upon the Countenance of thy Lord (wajh rabbika),  through the Light of the inmost heart (`ala nur al-fu'ad) expressed within every letter thereof, aside that is from any which are markers (mush`ir) of the multiple remembrances (bi-dhikr al-kathira). So when thou hath gazed thereon there comes the difficulty (sa'b) of the [heavenly] ascension (al-su`ud) for thou shall [experience] a disengagement [ousting] of the cord (al-habl) [of heavenly ascent] and descend unto the [CUL. F7:32>] depth of hellfire (qa'r al-nar). Such a place may thus be thy place of refuge (mahis). At this, however, God, thy Lord, may rescue thee through His Bounty (fadl). Yet hath He bound the cord (al-habl) [for ascension] beneath thy feet and that [the goal of that] binding [of the cord] is [located] above the rarified mountain (al-jabal al-raqiq), remote beyond thee relative to that [heavenly] ascension (al-su`ud) which hath not been encompassed by any knowledge of its [spatial] limitations (`ilm al-hadid)!

All then should be in line with [the gnosis of] God with respect to the talismans (al-tilismat). Thou should not be veiled by the modes of the [talismanic] markings (al-dalalat). Should thou come forth from the fatality [decree] of that [aforementioned hellish] Abyss (hukm al-lujjat) which was destined for thee, through [paying attention to] these [revealed] verses [of the Saḥifa bayn al-ḥaramayn] and pay heed to that which the [twelver Shi`i] Imam - may my soul be a sacrifice for him - said in reply to the questioner XXXX, "Thou art indeed "thou who art thou" (anta anta) and "I am not thou who art thou" for He [God] is "He Who is He" (huwa huwa). Such is the decree of God (hukm Allah) for the inmates of that [hellish] Abyss (lujjat). And whomsoever conflates [unities] the boundaries of the Godhead (hudud Allah)  shall in no wise find at the [Day of] Resurrection (al-qiyamat) any covenant (`ahd an) [about a future life] which cometh from His Lord. 

Thou [Kirmani] are indeed among the believers (al-mu'minin) for whom God destined the locale of the fourth Paradise (hukm jannat al-rabi`), [this] through the word of [Divine] foreordainment (kalimat al-qida'). So fill up the structures [pillars, configurations] of the talismans (qawa'im al-tilismat) according to the arrangement of the descending pattern (tartib al-hubut) of the verses (a-ayat) [to be written] upon those plain-white papers [tablets] (al-alwah al-bayda'). And know that God, glorified be He, did not create in the precinct of that Paradise (jannat) any refuge (hazirat) for the people, for it is the Apex of the Divine Attributes (qutb al-sifat) in the world of the Divine Names (`alam al-asma'). So when God decrees such a matter, He  advances [the operations] of His Wisdom (hikmat) and in this respect there is neither any returning (la maradd) nor any [power of] disputation [regarding its incontestability] (la murya). Such then is [a matter] appraised and sealed up (taqdir makhtum) on the part of One  Who is All-Wise (al-hakim).

And if thou should be reckoned among the inmates of the Paradise of Divine Authorization (ahl jannnat al-idhn) and whatsoever was created beyond this [locale], then take firm hold of thy document (khatt) which He hath this moment sent down [revealed] for thee within this [these] page(s), constituting a portion of the Book (nasib al-kitab)! Then praise God thy Pre-Existent Master (mawla al qadim) and be ye numbered among the thankful. Indeed! the Word of thy Lord (kalimat rabbika) was not sent down [revealed] in this Book (al-kitab), even a letter thereof (harfan), save without His express permission. And God is indeed One Hearing, Knowing. Those who beieve in the verses of God (ayat Allah) shall deduce something about he who is the speaker (al-qawl) relative to that which We sent down [revealed] unto thee in this Book. And God is One possessed of Mighty Bounty. And those who do not believe in the [eschatological] hereafter (al-akhira) cannot understand that which was now sent down [revealed] unto thee, even a single stipulation (hukm) regarding a [single] wondrous letter (harf badi`). And this [is the case even] though thou stepped forth attempting to assist them in the Pathway of thy Lord (sabil rabbika), and [in the light of the fact that] God Himself hath never been tyrannical towards any person (nafs) even to the extent of a mustard seed (khardal). And sufficiency in God is available for such as are [sincere] onlookers [seekers of truth] (al-nazirin). Then know the decree of thy Lord  for He hath indeed cast forth [stepped forth] something for thee through a noble Book (kitab karim).

Th know that the [alphabetical] Point (nuqta) [locus of the letter B, etc],  since it had scribed [travelled]  forth yielding  the [alphabetical] particulars [sciences] (fi al-`ulum), it communicated something of the [talismanic] configurations [pathways] of the True One (subul al-haqq) in the passageway of matters well-known [understood] (turq al-ma`lum). And We have indeed made mention (dhikr an) of a mere sprinkiling (rashhan)  [of divine expository revelaton] regarding its [talismanic] wisdom (hukm), to the end that all the people might become aware of the [talismanic] decree  of God (hukm Allah) regarding every wondrous letter (harf badi`) [of the alphabet]. This in that God, glorified be He, did indeed create all things according to a Haykal ('talismanic' Temple, or pentalpha, a five pointed star) consisting of levels [segments] just as He made clear in the sunna (tradition) of the family of God (al Allah)- may be peace of God be upon them. This, as exemplified in all their statements (kalimat), especially that which has it that, "There is no single thing on the earth or in heaven save [it came to be] through seven [khiṣāl = factors, or dimensions of reality], namely, [1] Mashiyya ("the [Divine] Will"); [2] Irāda ("the [Divine] Intention"); [3]  Qadar ("the [Divine] Foreordainment"); [4] Qiḍā' ("the Divine Accomplishment"); [5] Idhn ("the Divine] Authorization"), [6] Ajal ("the [Divinely] alotted Time") and [7] Kitāb ("the [Cosmic] Book") [see al-Kulaynī, al-Kāfī, 1:149).

There can be no doubt that the [talismanic] template [object] (maf`ul) is in no wise found save according to the disengaged [talismanic] Haykal (haykal al-fasl) [pentalpha, five pointed star] with its various divisions [levels](maratib). The configurations [pathways] of the [talismanic divine] realities (subul al-haqa'iq) and the [divine] Attributes (al-sifat), exist within all worlds [every dimension] expressing matters related to these seven factors  [khiṣāl = factors, or dimensions of reality]. The [talismanic] word which is threefold (kalimat al-tathlith) was indeed, something implied according to the decree of the Book (hukm al-kitab), the very mystery of the [letter] al-Kaf ("K") [the first letter (made up of three letters) of the qur'anic creative imperative = (Ar.) kun = Be!] relative to all conditions (fi kull al-umur).

If a person stipulated that the shape of the threefold (shakl al-tathlith) [talisman], is on account of its being meaningful in all directions through his Name (ism), then he hath indeed attained unto the greatest Talisman (tilism al-akbar)  and will see, through a bounty from his Lord,  that which his Master (mawla) hath assuredly willed for His servant (`abd). He is indeed One Powerful (qadir) over all things (kulli shay'). 

Now with respect to the the fourfold-quadrangular talisman (tilisman al-tarbi`). This is indeed closely associated with the word of laudation (kalimat al-tahmid = al-hamdu li-llah, "Praised be God!) within which God hath placed a [special] Bounty (al-fadl) for He hath [especially] willed the Praise (hamd) for the Messenger of God (rasul Allah = Muhammad). In reality, such is indeed, on this level, [naught but] a mention of His Beloved One (habib = Muhammad). Thou shall not be able to establish the [reality of the] three-fold word (kalimat al-tathlith) save by virtue of [ the name of] His wali [Vali,  (= the three lettered name of the 1st Imam `Ali ibn Abi Talib d.40/66; three letters = `+l+y) and not [establish] the [significance of the] fourfold-quadrangular shape [talisman] (shakl al-tarbi`) except by virtue of [the name of] His Beloved (habib = Muhammad, containing 4 Arabic letters M+h+m+d). And the [alphabetial] connections (al-iqtiranat) on every level (maratib),  hath indeed been differentiated through the manifestation of their dual [alphabetical] conjunctions [connections] (bi-zuhur iqtirani-huma) for God decreed for every phenomenon [issue] (masa'la) something relating to the mystery [depth, secret] of its circumstance (sirr al-waqi`a) as accords with its mode of receptivity [capacity] (shakl al-qubuli-ha). Relative to the outer [talismanic] haykal this accords which what hath assuredly issued forth from the sunna (tradition[s]) of his chosen [elected] ones (al-sunna al-awliya) [the twelver Imams] after the manner of their [informed] testimony according to the [authorized] chain of controlled transmitters (silsilat al-hudud). This [tradition is] such as the men of the inmost hearts (rijal al-af'ida) [the Imams] envision through the Light of their Lord (nur rabbika).

And also, according to that which some among those who are among the fearers of God (al-itqiya') know, in line with the decree of God in the world of the  proximity  and remoteness (al-taqaru[i]b wa'l-taba`id), there was not, for some of the letters, any deep exegesis (ta'wil an). Such verses (al-ayat) are themselves clarifications (bayinnat) on the part of the Dhikr (Remembrance) of the Name of thy Lord. Thou should never suppose, with respect to the verses of thy Lord (ayat rabbika), any [abstruse] estrangement [remoteness] ( bu`d an) from the wayward [sinful among of the peoples] (al-ithm), for then thou shall surely be reckoned among such are are possessed of certitude. That which this day seems darkness, is in fact, appropriately [justly],  but a tiny atom [mote] (`adl dharrat), for the measure [matter alotted] (al-hukm) was naught, on all levels (fi kull sha`n),  but what is, in the estimation of God, the Elevated, something prescribed [written down] (al-maktub). Such is this day a sufficient testimony for thyself, as as accords with that which We have sent down [revealed]  for thee.

SECTION III ON THE _______________

SECTION IV ON THE FOUR VERSES (al-bāb al-rābī` fī’l-āyāt al-rābi`a).

I have indeed already myself written a document [version] (nashhka) [a letter, or a preliminary version of the Ṣaḥīfa bayn a-ḥaramayn] in the land of Mecca (balad Makka) which I dispatched unto thee. So write out what we cast forth upon thee with respect to what is in that section [version] (al-bāb), to the end that thou be numbered among such as have attained.  

SECTION V ON THE FIFTH VERSE (al-bāb al-khāmis fī’l-āyāt al-khāmis).

[CUL. Ms. Or. F7, 41ff]

As for that which thou hast enquired relative to thine own self, about the pathways of the Journey [unto God] (subul al-suluk) and the [associated prayerful] supplications (al-da`awāt) for the summons [supplication to God] (da`wāt) during the days of the ascension unto thy Lord (al-ṣu`ūd ilā rabbika) according the path of the believer [CUL. F7, 42] in the Divine Unity (ṣirat al-muwahhidīn). So follow ye the decree which We have [already] cast upon thee from thy Lord, to the end that thou be numbered among such as are of the saved [successful] (al-falaḥīn).  

If thou do indeed desire that thou journey unto God according to the Path of the people of the Paradise [the Garden] of the Divine Oneness (ahl al-jannat al-aḥadiyya) and enter the Paradise [the Garden] of [endless] Eternality (al-jannat al-abadiyya)                     


[CUL., F7: 66ff]

Should thou love to undertake the journey towards God in the land of the crimson Sandhill [red sand dune] (arḍ kathīb al-aḥmar), in the company the nuqaba (the Shī`ī notables), then thou should journey along this most mighty Path, the Light of God within the heavens and upon the earth before which all that are in the heavens and upon the earth have prostrated and




In translating certain portions of the  above  fifth section of the Saḥifa bayn al-ḥaramayn, I have benefitted from the partial translation by MacEoin in his Rituals, App.1:93-97 and have, in this respect consulted further mss of this section of the Saḥifa bayn al-ḥaramayn in addition to  Camb. Univ. Lib. Ms. Or. F .7 (9), pp. 66-84 (the CUL ms. seems incorrectly identified in Rituals, p.96).

Select Expository Notes with translations.



Preliminary notes

Stephen Lambden

That talismanic knowledge or gnosis  was important to the Bāb from the very outset of his prophetic mission, is evidenced by the fact that two  consecutive sūras of his Qayyūm al‑asmā’  are entitled, Sūrat al‑tathlīth  (QA. 90 `Sūra of the Threefold [Name?] ’(cf. the three letter of Alī) and  Sūrat al‑tarbī`  (QA. 91 `Sūra of the Fourfold [Name?]’ (cf. the four letters of Muḥammad and Husayn). These titles may allude to the (Arabic) name of the Bāb, Alī Muḥammad  (= 3 letters [Alī]+ 4 letters [Muhammad]) and thus be connected with talismanic or alphabetical gnosis. In the  29th section of the Qayyum al-asma'  entitled Sūrat al‑ḥuriyya (`Sura of the Maiden) the Bab refers to himself, echoing the words of Imam `Ali in the Khutba al-Tutunjiyya (Sermon of the Twin Gulfs),  as "this Arabic Talismanic Remembrance (al‑dhikr al‑ṭil[l]ismī al‑`arabī, QA. XXIX:105). The first directive of the 1261/ [May-June] 1845 Risāla Khaşā'il-i sab`a ('The Treatise of the Seven Directives") of the Bab, reads as follows :

 "[1] The First Command (al-amr al-awwal)  among the seven hallmarks (min al-shi`ār al-sab`a) [of the nascent Bābī religion] is the carrying of the blessed, impenetrable, talismanic circle (ḥaml al-dā’ira al-manī`a al-mubāraka).

The first distinguishing mark of the pious Babi was the wearing of a circular shaped talisman (al-dā’ira) as a repository of the divine verses and Names of God, etc.

Included with the  Ṣaḥīfa bayn al-ḥaramayn is a roughly ten page section about talismanic matters which Mīrzā Muḥīṭ had apparently heard (or read) in connection with the Bāb and about which he desired clarification. The Bāb’s response to these matters illustrates that for him, the parameters of talismanic gnosis went far beyond any Christian adoration of a form of the cross (shakl al-saib), and beyond a mundane concern with amulets and charms. For the Bāb, talismans encapsulated cosmological, prophetological  and other arcane mysteries associated with heavenly ascent and interior realization. This section attests the Bāb’s early fascination with numerology and talismans and certain of their cosmological, theophanological, devotional and other implications.

Certain passages of the following translation from section (bab) II of the Ṣaḥīfa bayn al-ḥaramayn, were translated in the early 1980s and remain in need revision and correction.