Skip to content Skip to navigation
See our Campus Ready site for the most up to date information about instruction.Campus ReadyCOVID Help

Bāb to the Ḥurūfāt al-Ḥayy (`Letters of the Living').

حروف الحي

Ḥurūfāt al-Ḥayy

 

Stephen Lambden UCMerced

In Progress and under revision - Last posted 28-07-2021.

Facsimile colour photographs of these letters or alwāḥ (scriptural Tablets) of  the Bāb in his own handwriting and sealed with his seal with the inscription,(= عَبْدُه الذِكْر `Abdu-hu al-Dhikr', `His Servant, the Dhikr [messianic] Remembrance') are printed in Shoghi Effendi's  re-creation ("translation"  of Pt.I) of the Tarikh-i Zarandi , entitled by the Baha'i Guardian as The Dawn-Breakers (1st ed. 1932). The `Tablet to the First Letter of the Living' is translated in `Selections From he Writings of the Bab (Haifa: BWC., 1976 [82]), pp. 9-10 and that to man yuẓhiru-hu Allāh (`Him whom God shall make manifest') understood by Baha'is to refer to Baha'-Allah on pp. 3-5 (+6-8 another Tablet; see below). These twenty or so Tablets appear to date from the first-second or earliest years (1260-1262 = mid. 1844-1846) of the Bab's six year prophetic mission (mid. 1844-mid.1850 CE), though perhaps not to the time when he first dispatched the 'Letters of the Living' on their mission of proclamation in summer 1260/mid.1844. It is hoped to fully translate these texts once their original Arabic has been tentatively established. A few divergent readings are likely to persist. In this latter respect I have been grateful for the generous, insightful help of the late Dr. Muhammad Afnan (d. Canada, 2017).

The `Letters of the Living' and their numerical order are given below as they are listed in  Muhammad Nabil-i Zarandī (d.18192 CE), in the Shoghi Effendi English redaction, retitled The Dawn-Breakers. Other sources occasionally offer alternative, names, identifications or  order of `Letters of the Living'. In their original Arabic the eighteen texts are addressed to individual, numbered  haykal (pl. hayakil), or (loosely) pentadic embodiments or `Temples'. The recepients of these eighteen texts are for the most part not named  though in No.18 Quddus is explicitly mentioned. He is also referred to directly by the Bāb as  as the "eighteenth harf" or letter -e.g.  among the 18 Ḥurūf  al-Ḥayy or Letters of the Living'. As a group the  `Letters of the Living' are not directly mentioned as they are several times in the later Persian Bayan (1847-8) and elsewhere:

"`Alī before the Quadruple Configuration (ḥarf al-rubā’  رباع , rubā` = 1-M 2-H 3-M 3-D = Muḥammad =  the Bāb) is the Manifestation of Myself (maẓhar nafsī)  while the Eighteenth  Letter  [of the Living = Quddūs] among the Letters  (ḥuruf) [of the Living] is [even as] Mine Own Self (li-nafsihi). At My Command, as a result of My Command, do all derive existence! I, verily am God, no God is there except I Myself. Whatsoever is other than Me, is My creation"  (from Tablet 18 to Quddus, trans. Lambden cf. Arabic Bayan 1:1b).

 

THE ADDRESSEES, THEIR IDENTIFICATION

[1]

Mullā Ḥusayn Bushrū'ī  (d. [Ṭabarsī] 1265 /1849)

"This is that which We sent down unto the first to believe (awwal man amana) in man yuẓhiru-hu-Allāh ("Him whom God shall make manifest"), an admonition [warning] (nadhīr an)  from before Him unto all the worlds (li'l-`ālamīn)".

  • Tablet to the First Letter of the Living, a devout Shaykhī  entitled, Bāb al-Bāb (the Gate of the Gate), d. [Ṭabarsī] 1265 /1849) Trans. Taherzadeh, SWB: 9-10. PDf.

[2]

Muhammad Ḥasan Bushrū'ī

  • Tablet to the Second Letter of the Living (brother of [1] above d. [Ṭabarsī] 1265 /1849). Lambden Trans. PDf.

"This is that which We sent down unto the second to believe (thani man amana) in God and His verses ....  ".(DB: add).

[2A]

Mulla `Ali Bastamī (d. Istanbul, 1262/1846).

  • Tablet to the Second Letter of the Living  as Mulla `Ali Bastami. Lambden Trans. PDf.

"This is that which We sent down unto the second to believe (thani man amana) in God and His verses ....  ".(DB: add).

[3]

Mullā Muhammad Bāqir (nephew of [1] d. [Ṭabarsī] 1265 /1849)

Tablet to the Third letter of the Living

[4]

Tablet to the Fourth Letter of the Living

Mullā `Alī Basṭamī  (d. Istanbul d. 1262/1846)

[5]

Mullā  Khudā-Bakhsh Qūchānī  ( d. xxxx)

  • Tablet to the Fifth Letter of the Living also known as Mullā 'Alī Rāzī.

[6]

Tablet to the Sixth Letter of the Living

Mulla  Ḥasan Bajistānī (d. XXXX)

[7]

Siyyid Ḥusayn Yazdī (d. 1852)

  • Tablet to the Seventh Letter of the Living also known as `Azīz ("Mighty"),  an amanuensis (kātib) of the Bāb.

[8]

Mīrzā Muhammad Rawdih-Khān Yazdī

  • Tablet to the Eighth Letter of the Living, one invovled in the commemoration of the marytyrdom of Imam Husayn (   d. xxxx)

[9]

Shaykh Sa'īd [-i Hindī] al-Multānī

  • Tablet to the Ninth Letter of the Living, an Indian Shaykhī (d. India,18XX)

[10]

Tablet to the Tenth Letter of the Living

Mullā  Maḥūmud Khū'ī ( d.            )

[11]

Tablet to the Eleventh Letter of the Living

Mulla  Jalīl Urūmī  ( d. [Ṭabarsī] 1265 /1849)

[12]

Tablet to the Twelfth Letter of the Living

Mullā  Aḥmad Ibdāl Marāghī'ī ( d. [Ṭabarsī] 1265 /1849)

[13]

Tablet to the Thirteenth Letter of the Living

Mullā  Muhammad Baqīr Tabrīzī ( d. Istanbul c. 1881)

[14]

Tablet to the Fourteenth Letter of the Living

Mullā Yūsif Ardibilī  ( d. [Ṭabarsī] 1265 /1849)

[15]

Mīrzā Hādī ( d. [Ṭabarsī] 1265 /1849?)

  • Tablet to the Fifteenth Letter of the Living son of the Mujtahid Ḥajjī Mīrzā `Abd al-Vahhāb Qazvīnī (brother of No. 16 above ).  

[16]

Mīrzā Muhammad `Alī Qazvīnī ( d. [Ṭabarsī] 1265 /1849)

  • Tablet to the Sixteenth Letter of the Living son of the Mujtahid Ḥajjī Mīrzā `Abd al-Vahhāb Qazvīnī (brother in law of Ṭāhirih and brother of [15] above)

[17]

Fāṭima Baraghānī = Umm Salama

  • Tablet to the Seventeenth Letter of the Living the daughter of Muhammad Salih Baraghani =  Ṭāhirih (The Pure One) = Qurrat al-`Ayn (The Solace of the Eye) ( d. 1852)

[18]

Mullā  Muhammad `Alī Bārfurūshī, Quddūs ("The Most Holy")

  • Tablet to the Eighteenth Letter of the Living ( d. Bārfurūsh, 23rd Jamād II 1265/ May 16th,1849)

[19]

Sayyid `Ali Muhammad Shirazi, the Bāb.

  • Tablet to the Nineteenth Letter of the Living , apparently the Bāb Himself (d. 1850).

[20]

Mirza Ḥusayn `Alī Nūrī, Bahā'-Allāh   

  • Tablets to the Twentieth Letter of the Living, man yuẓhiru-hu-Allāh, The messianic figure "Him whom God shall make manifest", for Bahā'īs Baha'-Allah ( b. Tehran1817- d. Acre, Palestine 1892).