Hierarchy Authority and Eschatology in Early Babi ThoughtIn Iran: Studies in Babi and Bahá'í History vol. 3, ed. Peter Smith, pages 95-141
Los Angeles: Kalimat Press, 1986
In recent years, the history of the early development of the Bábí movement has undergone extensive and often trenchant rewriting at the hands of several scholars, including the present writer. There is still much work to be done, but there can be no doubt that a great deal of light has already been shed on areas not long ago regarded as impossibly dark. Problems have been usefully identified in topics long considered settled beyond any need for discussion. We now possess clear pictures, for example, of the main features in the transition from Shaykhism to early Babism, of the Báb's early career and claims, of the progress of the Bábí uprisings after 1848, or of the writing and dissemination of the Bábí scriptural canon. Advances have been made not only in the realm of factual data, which has been greatly expanded by numerous discoveries, but, more importantly, in the field of interpretative historiography, with the fresh analysis of both familiar and unfamiliar material.
There can be little doubt, however, that one period of Bábí history continues to stand out as unrelievedly obscure, namely
the years between the execution of the Báb in 1850, and the emergence of distinct Bahá'í and Azali factions within the Bábí exile community in Edirne about 1866, and subsequently in Iran. This period has for a long time been all but passed over by historians as a time of confusion, anarchy, and deep doctrinal division within Babism for which virtually no documentary evidence exists that might enable us to reconstruct its essential details. Between 1848 and 1852, the Bábí community of Iran had suffered serious losses in the course of clashes between adherents of the sect and the population at large. Between two and three thousand Bábís died violently in this period, including the Báb himself and all but a handful of the intellectual leadership of the movement. After the abortive attempt on Nasiri'd-Din Shah's life in August 1852, the survivors (a small number in terms of active affiliation with the movement) either recanted, went underground, practiced dissimulation (taqiyya), or chose to go into exile outside Iran.
The effects of this rapid disintegration of an already little-organized community (if community it can be called) were, from the point of view of the later historian, quite devastating. Numerous documents, particularly letters, were lost, destroyed, or stolen. Among the most serious casualties were undoubtedly works by the leading figures of the Bábí hierarchy who perished in the uprisings at Shaykh Tabarsi, Nayriz, and Zanjan. To make matters worse, fear of discovery led the Bábís of this period to adopt a deliberately enigmatic and idiosyncratic style that now requires considerable effort and ingenuity to decipher, with the result that many materials that have survived the tribulations of those years may often present as many obfuscation as they do glimmers of light.
And yet this is without question a period of the most extreme importance, both as a postscript to the short-lived experiment of primitive Babism and as a preamble to the later reconstructions of the movement in its Azali and Bahá'í versions. Unfortunately, it is precisely the emergence of Azali and Bahá'í Babism
that renders the task of the historian unusually arduous and confronts him with serious problems of research and interpretation. Both parties to the later dispute looked back to the earlier period, particularly the years immediately following the death of the Báb and the transfer of the headquarters of the sect to Baghdad, with visions much clouded by the demands of contemporary polemic or ex-post facto justification of current theological positions and concepts of authority. The polarization of Azalis and Bahá'ís resulted in the rapid displacement of any serious alternative definitions of Bábí orthodoxy. And, since we possess very few manuscript materials from the intermediate period, we are forced to rely almost exclusively on documents reflecting, usually quite strongly, the sectarian biases of the two opposing groups. It is, quite frankly, often impossible for the historian to choose between one or the other version of the same events. Very little corroboratory evidence is ever produced by either side, and there are almost no independent sources to which one may have recourse.
Nevertheless, it seems to me that the main outline of events and, to a lesser extent, doctrines may be reconstructed without serious prejudice to either side of the dispute. If we are willing to ignore such questions as "who was right?" or "who was wrong?" we can, I think, state what happened during this period and, as far as is possible, suggest why.
Before the main features of this period can be studied, however, there is a pressing need for a survey of certain doctrinal issues from the early years of the movement. It is the aim of this paper to provide such a survey, both for its own interest and as preparation for a future study of the later period.
EARLY THEOPHANIC AND QUASI-THEOPHANIC CLAIMS TO AUTHORITY
It will be useful to begin our investigations with a brief examination of the nature of religious claims in the early period and a survey of the later theories of the Báb that can be shown to
have influenced the tone and direction of subsequent speculations. Doctrinally speaking, Babism is a notoriously difficult movement to define. There were important shifts in belief and practice within the space of very few years, coupled with significant differences in the doctrines promulgated by various sections of the Bábí leadership, not to mention the innumerable obscurities and vagueness of even the most reliable texts. I have discussed in detail elsewhere the early claims of Sayyid Ali Muhammad, the Báb himself and will not return to that question here. Suffice to say that there is ample evidence that for several years he regarded himself and was regarded by his followers as the báb, or representative on earth of the hidden Twelfth Imám, whose appearance in 1845 was imminently expected by all the first Bábís. Exactly how his claims developed after that is not entirely clear. Even at the earliest period, there is evidence that the Báb claimed for himself and his writings a level of inspirational authority well above that normally associated with the role of babu'l-Imám. This is not to suggest that he entertained notions of a more exalted status for himself at this point, merely that the function of babiyya (or niyába) as he understood and expressed it involved the ability to reveal inspired verses and to possess innate knowledge. As I have indicated elsewhere, it was the Báb's status as a source of pure knowledge more than anything else that attracted followers to him at this time.
A Bahá'í writer, Sayyid Mahdi Dahají, basing his remarks somewhat loosely on an important passage of the Dala'il-i-Sab'a (seven proofs), has put forward the idea that, in the first year, Sayyid Ali Muhammad referred to himself as "the gate of God" (baba'lláh), in the second year as "the remembrance" (dhikr), in the third as "the proof" (hujja), in the fourth as another name, and in the fifth as the Qá'im in person. Although based on the Báb's own application of part of a tradition of the Imám Ali (hadith Kumayl) to each of the first five years of his career,
such a picture of a gradual "unfoldment" of the Báb's claims is, however, based largely on polemical considerations. The simultaneous use of terms such as báb, dhikr, and hujja is well attested from the earliest period, and there is no evidence of major changes in emphasis (apart from a period of dissimulation [taqiyyih] in 1845, when he renounced all claims) during the first five years of the Báb's career.
The Báb himself refers more than once to the radical shift that took place at the end of this period. In several passages of the Kitáb-i panj sha'n (Book of five proofs), he states that he revealed himself (or God revealed him) in the station of "gate-hood" (bábíyya) (fi 'l-abwáb; bi-ismi abwábiyyatika, [sic]) for four years, whereupon he appeared as the promised Qá'im (bi-ismi Qá'imiyyatika; bi-ismi'i-maqsúdiyya al-maw'údiyya). We possess no exact date for the initial proclamation of qá'imiyya by the Báb, but there is sufficient evidence to place this event (which was marked by the issue of a letter sent to Mullá Shaykh 'Alí Turshizi, 'Azím) in the later part of the Báb's confinement in the fortress of Mákú, that is in the early months of 1848. In the Persian Bayan, the Báb states that when the return of all that had been created in the Qur'an and the beginning of the creation of all things in the Bayán occurred, his dwelling-place was Mákú (ard-i ism-i básit). The Báb's claim to be the Qá'im was not, however, restricted to the adoption of the simple messianic role outlined for the Twelfth Imám in Shi'i prophetic literature, but also involved the assumption of theophanic status coupled with prophetic office as the inaugurator of a new religious dispensation abrogatory of Islam.
In developing the elaborate theory of theophanies and religious cycles around which all of his later thinking revolves, the Báb made use of a series of metaphysical concepts common to the main Shi'i sects. But while many of his ideas and the forms in which they are cast find important and sometimes detailed parallels in Isma'ili and Hurúfí thought in particular, it is not, I
think, necessary to look for direct influences from these sources. The main themes and terms are all to be found in Twelver Shi'i literature, including, of course, the works of Shaykh Ahmad al-Ahsá'í and Zayn al-Abidin. The root of the Báb's doctrine lies in the belief that the divine or eternal essence (dhát-i iláhi, dhát-i azal) is wholly unknowable and inaccessible to humans but since the purpose of the creation is for men to know and love God, it is necessary for the creator to reveal himself to them in a form appropriate to their condition: "in every dispensation, he makes himself known through his own creation." Although the Báb employs the conventional Islamic terminology of prophet and messenger (nabi; rasul [frequently]; payghámbar) and adopts a schema of regularly-spaced prophetic revelations (among which those of Moses, David, Jesus, and Muhammad stand out), he is less concerned with the role of the prophets as divinely-inspired legislators (shari'ah) than with their function as theophanic representations of the divinity on earth.
The Báb's doctrine of theophanies is expressed chiefly through the Arabic root zuhúr (to become visible, manifest), which appears in a number of related technical terms. Zuhúr (manifestation) is the self-revelation of God to his creation and also the period during which he is thus manifest. It is contrasted with batín (concealment), the state of God's invisibility to men and the period between one prophet and the next, during which he is hidden to men. Mazhar is the term most often used to describe the place of this revelation, the created being in whom the Divinity manifests himself to other created beings. This mazhar is in one sense the locus in which God himself is manifested to men: "the hidden reality of the divine unity (ghaybatu' l-tawhid) is only affirmed through that which is revealed in the outward aspect (zahir) of the messenger"; "know that in each zuhúr, he has been and is the representative (qá'im maqám) of the eternal and hidden essence (dhát-i ghayb-i azal)"; "bear
witness that God, may his praise be glorified, makes himself known to his creation in the place of manifestation (mazhar) of his own self, for whenever men have recognized God, their Lord, their recognition of him has only been attained through what their prophet caused them to know." In the Persian Bayán, the appearance of the Báb (as the Nuqta, Point) is thus equated with the revelation of God himself: "the self-revelation of God (zuhúru'lláh), which is the self-revelation of the Point of the Bayán; "the seat of the Point, who is the place of manifestation of Lordship."
It is emphasized by the Báb, however, that the divine essence as such is not manifested directly to men. What appears in the manifestations (mazáhir) is the Primal Will (al-mashi'yya al-awaliya), itself created by God ex nihilo: That command (i.e., the place of manifestation) is not the eternal and hidden essence, but is a Will that was created through and for himself out of nothing. In the Persian Bayán, the Báb writes that "there has never been nor will there ever be either revelation or concealment for the eternal Essence in himself, nor can any other thing either manifest or conceal him. . . instead, he created the Primal Will in the same way that he created all things by himself, creating it likewise by himself and all things (other than it) by it, and he related it to himself in its exaltation and sublimity. ... From the beginning that has no beginning to the end that has no end, there has ever been but a single Will which has shone forth in every age in a manifestation (zuhúr)."
Although the Primal Will is single, it appears in each age in a different person, whose physical form is variously expressed as its "throne" ('arsh), "seat" (kursi), "temple" (haykal), "mirror" (mir'at [the Will being described as the sun appearing in it], or simple place of manifestation (mazhar), . The Will itself in its manifest form is referred to by a variety of titles, including the Tree of Reality (shajaratu'l-haqíqa), or, most commonly, Primal Point (nuqtay-i úlá). [sic: footnotes skip 34-35 in original, though these two notes do exist at the end, in between endnotes #33 and 36. -J.W.] It is from this Point that
all things have been originated and all the prophets and revealed books sent down.
As in the case of the Imáms in Shi'i Islam, the exact status of the manifestation (mazhar) is often blurred. Just as the Imáms are referred to as God's "outward form amidst his creation" (záhiruhu fí khalqihi)," so the Báb speaks of the mazhar as the "throne of God's revelation" ('arsh zuhúri'lláh), the "representative of the divine essence," or the "locus of the manifestation of his self" (mazhar nafsihi). In the same way that knowledge of the Imáms is knowledge of God (the latter being impossible without the former) the mazáhir are, for the Báb, the only means whereby men may know their creator." God has made the manifestation "the mirror of his self. . . , in which nothing is seen but God."
The human locus of God's appearance is, therefore, an essentially ambivalent creature. Outwardly, he is merely a mortal man: "what your eyes behold of the outward form of the thrones is but a handful of clay. . . . If you did not look at what is (manifested) in them, there would be nothing (to see) but earth in its own place." Inwardly, however, these beings are divine: "Do not behold the thrones in respect of what they are in themselves, for I have shown you that they originate as a drop of sperm and return as a handful of clay. Instead, look within them, inasmuch as God has manifested himself (tajalli) to them and through them." Expressed differently, "the inward aspect (bátin) of the prophets is the words 'no god is there but God,' while their outward aspect (zahir) is the mention of their own selves in each zuhúr through what is manifested from them." It is because of this difference that the statements of the prophets differ one from the other, itself the main cause of religious disunity. Otherwise, they are all one, being compared frequently to a single sun that appears on different days or in different mirrors. The number of these places of manifestation is incalculable, nor can they be said to have any beginning or end.
This much is, I think, relatively straightforward. But the Báb's doctrine is, in fact, rather more complex than this and involves several important elements that were to influence markedly the development of the religion after his death. The existence of a problem can already be seen in the Shi'i doctrine of the Imáms. Not only are the Imáms regarded as identical one with another, they are also identical in essence with the maj or prophet figures of the past: "I," says 'Alí in one tradition, "am Adam, I am Noah, I am Abraham, I am Moses, I am Jesus, I am Muhammad; I move through the forms as I wish — whoso has seen me has seen them, and whoso has seen them has seen me." I do not wish to enter here into a discussion of what became a subtle problem for later Shi'i doctrine, namely the relationship between Imám and prophet, merely to draw attention to an apparent dichotomy between the status of the Imáms as successors of the prophet Muhammad and their identification with the prophets of the past. This dichotomy is to some extent resolved through the doctrine of hujjiyya, whereby it is maintained that there must always be on earth a proof (Hujja) from God to men, be it a prophet or Imám.
Nevertheless something of a problem remains, for it is, on the one hand, an established Shi'i doctrine that the pleroma of Muhammad and the twelve Imáms was created before and is superior to all other beings, including earlier prophets, who were indeed created after them from the residue of their light and who can only approach God through them. They are often described in terms that make them responsible for the inspiration and instruction of even the major prophets of the past: "The Commander of the Faithful said to Salmán and Abu Dharr: 'I am al-Khidr the teacher of Moses: I am the teacher of David and" or in terms that place them in a relationship to former prophets comparable to that of God: "He ('Alí) said: 'I am the one who carried Noah in the Ark at the command of my Lord; I am the one who brought Jonah out of the belly of the fish by the permission of my Lord; I am the one
who caused Moses the son of 'Imran to pass (over the Red Sea) at the command of my Lord; I am the one who brought Abraham from the fire by the permission of my Lord. On the other hand, they are identified, not only with these prophets, but also with their successors: "Whoso wishes to behold Adam and Seth, behold I am Adam and Seth; whoso wishes to behold Noah and his son Shem, behold I am Noah and Shem; whoso wishes to behold Abraham and Ishmael, behold I am Abraham and Ishmael; whoso wishes to behold Moses and Joshua, behold I am Moses and Joshua; whoso wishes to behold Jesus and Simon, behold I am Jesus and Simon." To turn this equation around, Seth, Shem, Ishmael, Joshua, and Simon are (in this instance) the Twelfth Imám, who is, in turn, the teacher of the prophets and a locus of the Primal Will.
Now this problem, like any other of its kind, can be and has been solved by the ingenuity of theologians, but I do not wish to enter into an account of that here. What is of interest in terms of the present paper is that the paradoxes involved in these concepts retained their basic dynamism throughout the early Bábí period and became critical causes of uncertainty in the Baghdad years. To begin with, there were the numerous tensions implicit in the varying statements of the Báb, not only with respect to his changing status — from "a servant" chosen to be the gate and representative of the hidden Imám, to the Qá'im, to the place of manifestation of the divinity and the promulgator of a new shari'a after that of Islam, but also with respect to each one of these roles in its different modes and emphases. Secondly, the Báb sought to endow his immediate followers, primarily the eighteen "Letters of the Living" (Huruf-i-Hayy) or "precursors" (sábiqún), with a status that made them more than mere saints or intercessors between him and other believers. The Letters of the Living were "precursors," not only in the literal sense of their being the first believers in the Báb, but more importantly in their having been the first of
mankind to respond to God's pre-eternal covenant in the "world of the first atom," that is, before the creation of the world. Shi'i tradition identifies these sábiqún with Muhammad and the Imáms (and often Fatima), and in his later works the Báb describes the Letters of the Living explicitly as the return of the Prophet, the twelve Imáms, the four gates (abwáb) who succeeded the Twelfth Imám (later rejected in Bahá'í theory), and Fatima.
The question of the status of the Letters of the Living became a crucial one for early Babism and produced considerable controversy. In 1848, the central Bábí community of Karbala in Iraq was split down the middle by a fierce argument between two factions centered on the persons of Qurratu'l-'Ayn Tahirih and Mullá Ahmad Khurasani respectively. Khurasani's supporters objected particularly to the status accorded Mullá Husayn Bushru'i and the Letters of the Living in general. Their opponents defended their position largely by extensive quotations from the Báb's writings, in which the Huruf-i-Hayy were extolled. The details of this highly interesting but little-known debate cannot be entered into here: it is enough for our purpose to note that the pro-sábiqún faction, with its emphasis on hierarchy and obedience to charismatic authority, succeeded in forcing its opponents into the background, not only in Karbala, but throughout Iran as well.
As time went on, not only the original Letters of the Living, but later converts also were accorded exalted stations by the Báb. As his own claims became more elevated, those given to his followers rose accordingly. This development is not easy to trace with any precision, but fortunately that is not essential for our present course of inquiry. According to Muhammad 'Alí Zunúzi, when the Báb abandoned the rank of Bábiyya to take that of dhikru'lláh (which on Dahájí's reckoning would have been in the second year of his career), he gave the title of báb to his earliest convert, Mullá Muhammad Husayn Bushru'i, who
had already been identified by him as the return to earth of the prophet Muhammad. This transfer of station is corroborated by the earliest Bábí history, the Nuqtatu'l-káf . The latter work also refers — with what degree of accuracy it is difficult to establish — to other shifts of status ascription between individual members of the Bábí hierarchy. Thus, the station of Bábiyya was passed on Bushru'i's death to his brother Muhammad Hasan, also a Letter of the Living; at Badasht, Mullá Muhammad 'Alí Barfuru'shi, Quddus, claimed to be the return of the prophet Muhammad, adducing in evidence of this his ability to produce verses, prayers, and homilies; later, at the shrine of Shaykh Tabarsi, Quddus is said to have referred to Bushru'i (originally understood to be the return of Muhammad) as the Imám Husayn. More controversially, the Nuqtatu'l-káf maintains that when, in the year 5, the Báb laid claim to the rank of Qá'im, "the Point of Qá'imiyya manifested itself in the temple of his holiness the Remembrance [i.e., the Bib], who became the heaven of the (Primal) Will (samá'-i mashi'ati), while the earth of illumination and volition (ardi-i ishráq wa iráda) was his holiness Azal (i.e., Mírzá Yahyá Nuri, Subh-i-Azal)." In apparent — but not, as will be shown, necessarily real — contradiction to this, the same source elsewhere maintains that Quddus was himself the Qá'im and 'Alí Muhammad his báb, the former having advanced his claims in the fourth year after the period during which the latter had summoned men to God. Quddus, it is said, made his claims independently and became the heaven of will, with the Báb the earth of volition. Similarly, Quddus is described as "the origin of the point" (asl-i nuqta), 'Alí Muhammad again being his báb. And, more confusingly, it is stated that the Báb and Quddus were both the Qá'im, in the same way that the Shi'i Imáms may all be referred to by this title.
Lest these statements seem wholly idiosyncratic and be attributed
to the unreliability of the Nuqtatu'l-káf as a source (or indeed, be adduced as evidence of that work's unreliability), it will be worthwhile to note that there is independent corroboration of the fact that Quddus was regarded by some at least as the Qá'im (either independently of the Báb or in tandem with him and/or Mullá Husayn Bushru'i) and that he himself advanced claims of a messianic and theophanic nature. An important early history of the Shaykh Tabarsi siege, the Waqáyi'-i mimiyya (Events of the letter mím), consistently refers to Quddus as "the Qá'im of Jílán" and cites a sermon by Mullá Husayn in which he refers to Quddus as "the one whose advent you have awaited for one thousand two hundred and sixty [sic] years," a claim the latter is said to have advanced in his own behalf. Another early account of the events at Shaykh Tabarsi, Lutf 'Alí Mírzá Shirází's untitled history, notes, for example, that the Bábís at the shrine regarded Quddus as the point towards which prayers were to be directed and turned to him when they performed their devotions.
The Nuqtatu'l-káf (and, following it, the later Bahá'í Táríkh-i Jadíd) applies a number of Shi'i traditions to Quddus in connection with his identification as Qá'im. Among these are 'Alí's reference to events between the months Jumada and Rajab, and the prophecy that the Qá'im would be killed by a bearded Jewish woman named Sa'ida (who is identified with Quddus's executioner, the Sa'ídu'l-'Ulamá' Bárfurúshí) The early attribution of this latter prophecy to Quddus and Sa'idu'l-'Ulamá' is confirmed by its use in the same context in the Waqáyi'-i mimiyya. Even a much later Bahá'í history, the Táríkh-i Nabil, relates Quddus's arrival at the shrine of Shaykh Tabarsi to a well-known tradition concerning the Qá'im's arrival in Mecca and his leaning his back against the Ka'ba, (a tradition which is not, curiously enough, related by Nabil or other Bahá'í writers, as far as I know, to the Báb's pilgrimage to Mecca in
1844-5), while the number of Bábí participants in the Mazandaran conflict is given as exactly 313, the number of the companions of the Qá'im.
Apart from Quddus, of course, other members of the Bábí hierarchy continued to be accorded important positions, including even that of Qá'imiyya. Mullá Husayn, as we have seen, was referred to by Quddus as the Imám Husayn, an identification supported by Nabil, but is also described throughout the Waqayi'-i mimiyya as the "Qá'im of Khurasan, " a messianic role much enhanced in several accounts by his bearing of a black banner from Mashhad. The Báb himself made it quite explicit that not only had the Prophet, the Imáms, and the nawwáb (abwáb) returned to earth in the persons of the Letters of the Living, but other prophets and saints had reappeared in other of his followers: "The first to swear allegiance to me was Muhammad the Prophet of God, then 'Alí, then those who were witnesses after him [i.e., the next eleven Imáms], then the Gates of Guidance, then those to whom God had accorded such grace of the prophets and holy ones and witnesses and those who believed in God and his verses." This same view is expressed in a letter written by Mullá Shaykh 'Alí Turshizi, 'Azím (to whom the letter from which the above quotation is taken was addressed): "The Letters of the Living are true and are the tombs in which they [Muhammad, the Imáms, and the four Bábs] have returned (hum maráqid rujú'ihim), and certain of the believers are the tombs of some of the prophets and saints and witnesses and holy ones; all have returned to the first life." In the course of the Shaykh Tabarsi struggle, Quddus is said to have written a number of letters addressed to his followers in which he identified each one of them with a prophet or saint of the past. One of them, for example, is described as the return of Shaykh Ahmad ibn Abi Talib Tabarsi, the saint buried at the shrine itself. Similarly, Zawára'í refers to the 313 companions
of Quddús as nuqabá', evidently a reference to the "directors" who were expected to return with the Qá'im.
LATER CLAIMS OF DIVINITY
Nor was the extension of hierarchical status limited to the identification of individuals as the "return" (raj'a) of a particular holy figure of the past. In the last years of his career, the Báb bestowed on large numbers of his followers individual names of God numerologically equivalent to their original names. Thus, Mullá Muhammad 'Alí Barfuru'shi was called "Quddus," Shaykh 'Alí Turshizi was "Azím," Sayyid Yahyá Dárábí and Mírzá Yahyá Núri both "Wahid" (the former being known as "Wahid-i A'zam," the "greater unity," the latter also being named "Azal"), Mírzá Asadu'lláh Khu'i "Dayyán," Mullá Rajab 'Alí Isfahani "Qahir," and so on. Each such individual seems in some sense to have been understood as a manifestation of the particular attribute of God indicated by his name. It is in this sense, but with possibly wider implications, that Muhammad 'Alí Bárfurúshí, Quddus, was called by the Báb "the last name of God"(ismu'lláh'l-akhir).
Beyond this, certain individuals were seen as manifestations of the divinity in a broader and more explicit sense. One of the most compelling examples of this is the following statement of the Báb concerning Mullá Husayn Bushru'i: "And make mention of the first to believe, for if you should travel upon the Sea of Names, you will behold him to be the Primal Will, and if you should travel on the Sea of the first creation, you will behold the one who was the first to believe in him; and know that he has ever been and always will be alive. Whoever possesses might in the Bayán has become powerful through him, and whoever possesses knowledge in the Bayán has become knowledgeable through him...."
In an interesting passage of his "Lawh-i Siraj", Mírzá Husayn 'Alí Nuri, Bahá'u'lláh, quotes in part and paraphrases in part words of the Báb concerning Haji Sayyid Javad Karbala'i, in which he describes the latter as "the primal Mirror which has from all eternity reflected and will for all eternity reflect God," as "the Primal Cause" ('illat-i awwaliyya), and as "a prophet unto all the worlds." Bahá'u'lláh himself comments on the reference to Sayyid Javad as the Primal Cause, saying that "this station is above all names, be they of the Essence of God (dhátu'lláh), or the Reality of God (kaynú-natu'lláh), or the Remembrance of God (dhikru'lláh), or the Mirror of God (mir'átu'lláh), for previously anyone who attributed such a station to the Prophet of God would have been declared an unbeliever, inasmuch as men believed the Primal Cause to be God Himself."
As in the case of claims of qá'imiyya, it seem to have been Muhammad 'Alí Barfuru'shi, Quddus, who was the Báb's chief rival in respect of claims to some form of divinity. Abbas Effendi, 'Abdu'l-Bahá, maintains that Quddus's commentary on the letter sád of the word al-samad (Qur'an 112:2) which he "revealed" (názil farmúdand) at Shaykh Tabarsi, was "from beginning to end . . . (filled with the words) "Verily, I am God." There certainly appears to be confirmatory evidence that, in the course of the Shaykh Tabarsi siege, Quddus did, in fact, make claims of this kind. Zawára'í refers to him as a "place of God's manifestation" (mazhar-i khudli) while a Bábí apostate who encountered him in Bárfurúsh after the end of the siege is said to have rebuked him with the words: "You claimed . . . that your voice was the voice of God." Quddus's own claims to divine status for himself are reinforced by many of the Báb's statements about him. In a Tablet of visitation (ziarat) written at some point after Quddus's death in 1849, the Báb writes:
"from all eternity you have existed in the exaltation of holiness and majesty, and unto all eternity you shall exist in the exaltation
of holiness and majesty. You are the one who is manifested through the manifestation of your Lord (anta 'l-záhir bi-zuhúri rabbika) and the one who is concealed through the concealment of your Lord. In the beginning when there was no beginning but you, and in the end when there will be no end save you; you ascended through all creation to a horizon unto which none preceded you." In a section of the Kitáb-i Panj sha'n written for Mullá Shaykh Ali Turshizi, the Báb explicitly declares that "the last name of God has shone forth and flashed and gleamed and become manifest; well is it with him who sees in him nothing but God."
Within the context of such statements, it may be possible to suggest a fresh dimension to our understanding of the events which occurred at the Bábí assembly at Badasht in 1848, which is generally associated with the abrogation of the Islamic laws (shari'a), the proclamation of the inauguration of a new age of inner truth (though not, I am inclined to think, at this stage the implementation of a Bábí shari'a), and the announcement of the imminent appearance of the Qá'im. (A secondary objective of the meeting was to draw up plans for the release of the Báb from prison in Azerbaijan.) In what is in some respects a curious letter, Abdu'l-Bahá states that "many have manifested divinity (ullihiyyat) and lordship (rububiyyat). . . . At Badasht, her excellency Tahirih raised to the highest heaven the cry of "Verily, I am God," as did many of the friends at Badasht." Brief as it is and lacking in direct evidence, this theologically uncharacteristic statement is nonetheless extremely suggestive and may prove an important starting point for fresh inquiries into the significance of the Badasht gathering. It may well be the case, for example, that the recorded divisions between the participants in the meeting, in particular that between Qurratu'l-'Ayn and Quddús, relate in some way to the advancement of competing claims of this kind.
Certainly a number of Bábí texts of the post-Badasht period
contain what would only a few years previously have been regarded as pure blasphemy. Some of the Báb's later writings, including numerous sections of the Kitáb-i Panj sha'n, contain exordia such as "this is a letter from God, the Protector, the Self-subsisting, to God, the Protector, the Self-Subsisting," or 'this is a letter from God to him whom God shall manifest." Even more direct is the following passage from a letter of the Báb to Mullá Ibráhim Qazvini, Rahim: "Ali before Nabil [i.e., 'Alí Muhammad, the Báb] is the Self of God (nafsu'lláh) . . . and the name of Al-Azal, al-Wahid [i.e., Mírzá Yahyá Nuri, Subh-i Azal] is the Essence of God (dhátu'lláh)." In a letter also written to Qazvini after the Báb's death, the latter's former amanuensis, Sayyid Husayn Yazdi, declares "were it not for the existence of God in my beloved, the Eternal, the Ancient (al-azal al-aqdam) [i.e., Qazvini], I should not have addressed these words to you, my beloved," and goes on to refer to the Báb's death as "the disappearance of God" (ghaybatu'lláh) and "the ascension of God" (su'údu'lláh)."
I am of necessity selecting passages in order to get across a rather neglected point, and I would not wish to suggest that I have exhausted the possibilities of late Bábí theophanic doctrine or that I have necessarily offered the most reliable picture of it. What I wish to do is to lay a basis for the study of subsequent developments by showing that there was general acceptance in the Bábí community of widespread claims to theophanic status and authority and that no very systematic or consistent doctrine had been either developed or promulgated to resolve the issues such claims inevitably brought to the surface. It is, I think, important to do this in order to balance somewhat the view put forward by the Bahá'í writer Balyuzi and others to the effect that the doctrines contained in the Nuqtatu'l-káf are merely "a reflection of the anarchy of the darkest days of the Bábí Faith" and that early Bábí leaders such as Darabi, Zanjani, Mullá Husayn, Quddús, and Qurratu'l-'Ayn could not possibly have held such opinions.
I am willing to accept the view that the doctrinal situation following the death of the Báb and the core of the Bábí leadership was confused. But I think I have shown that the roots of later speculation lay incontrovertibly in theories and events close to the heart of the Bábí movement throughout its most coherent period. The notion of a united, doctrinally unobjectionable "Bábí Faith" is merely a reflection of the retrospective systematizing tendencies of modern Bahá'ís.
THE BABI HIERARCHICAL SYSTEM
Of paramount importance for our understanding of subsequent events, among which the Bahá'í/Azali split is the most significant, is the hierarchical system of "mirrors" (mir'at), "glasses" (bulúriyát), "guides" (adillá'), and "witnesses" (shuhadá') developed by the Báb in his later writings. This is not, in the strict sense, an organized system of hierarchical grades since the terms involved are, to a large degree, mutually interchangeable and imprecisely used in the texts. Nevertheless, hierarchy is certainly involved in the concept, and there are indications that definite roles were envisaged for individuals exercising the functions associated with the titles. In this respect, Bábí doctrine offers a clear continuation of the Shi'i theory of Hujiyya, which is extended, not only to the prophet and the Imáms or their equivalents, but to other grades of a loose hierarchy as well.
In discussing the meaning of the term nujabá', applied to the saints who will accompany the Qá'im on his return, Shaykh Ahmad al-Ahsá'í refers to variants on the well-known Súfí hierarchy which includes, according to one version, a single "pole" (qutb), four "pillars" (arkán), forty "replacements" (abdal), seventy "nobles" (nuwubá), and three hundred and sixty "righteous" (salihún) Such an arrangement, al-Ahsá'í says, is not to be found in the works of Shi'i tradition, except for a
statement by the Imám 'Alí ibn al-Husayn referring to "the recognition of the meanings (al-ma'ání) in the second, the recognition of the gates (al-abwáb) in the third, the recognition of the Imám in the fourth, the recognition of the pillars (al-arkán) in the fifth, the recognition of the directors (al-nuqabá') in the sixth, and the recognition of the nobles (al-nuwuba') in the seventh." The first four of these (al-tawhid) [in a common variant, al-bayan], al-ma'áni, al-abwáb, and al-imáma) are generally regarded as referring to the Imáms: as the stations (al-maqámát) in which God is known to men; as the "meanings" of God's acts; as his knowledge, power, wisdom, and so forth; as the "gates of God"; and as Imáms in the visible realm. In Al-Ahsá'í's opinion, the four arkán are equivalent to the four nuwwúb of the Twelfth Imám, the nujabá' (whom he equates with the abdal) are the first ranks of the righteous in Shi'i Islam (khiyár al-shi'a), and the nujabá' are the second rank of these.
This hierarchical grading is linked by al-Ahsá'í to the degree of spiritual knowledge available to each of its ranks. The nuqabá' (or khasísún, "special ones"), for example, can know the Imáms in their highest stations of máqámát, ma'áni, and abwáb; whereas the nujabá' are capable only of knowing them in the rank of imáma. From a different angle, it is said that the believers receive their knowledge of God from the prophets, who in turn receive theirs from Muhammad and the Imáms, who are the first beings to whom God made himself known — a process which is compared to that of a series of mirrors reflecting the same original image in descending degrees (an analogy of importance in the present context).
Implicit in this hierarchical system is the notion of intermediacy. The Imáms are, in the first place, the primary intermediaries between men and God, being the "gates" or "paths" that link the creation with the Creator. There must, at the same
time, be further intermediaries between the Imáms and the believers in general, since not all the latter possess the same capacity. Al-Ahsá'í speaks of these latter intermediaries in the context of a much-commented quranic verse: "And we appointed, between them and the towns we blessed, manifest towns, and we measured the journey between them. Travel in them by night and by day securely." (34:18) According to a tradition related from the Imám Báqir, the "towns we blessed" are the Imáms, while the "manifest towns" (quran záhira) are the messengers and transmitters from the Imáms to the believers (shi'a) and the scholars (fuqahá') of Shi'i Islam.
The Bábí leader Qurratu'l-Ayn Tahirih also makes use of this quranic verse, referring to an alternative interpretation which identifies the "manifestations" with Shi'is in general and the four "gates (abwáb) in particular. She makes this identification in the course of a broader account of the continuing process of divine guidance through the ages, according to which God has sent a mazhar and zuhúr in every age and period. Thus prophets were dispatched until the coming of Muhammad (who is, of course, their seal). After Muhammad, men were tested through the Imáms until the disappearance of the last of them, after which the "gates" were appointed so that humanity should not be left without guidance. Following the "gates", pious ulamá guided the Shi'is until the appearance of wicked scholars who made exalted claims for themselves and corrupted the faith. Since, however, the Hidden Imám wished to distinguish the good from the wicked, he chose a perfect man to whom he taught his inner knowledge and whom he preserved from sin and error. Although she does not give his name, it is clear from subsequent references that Qurratu'l-'Ayn is here referring to Shaykh Ahmad al-Ahsá'í. On his death, she says, God appointed Sayyid Kazim Rashti to be the sign (al-áya) and proof (al-hujja) on behalf of the Imám to all men. After Rashti,
'Alí Muhammad Shirází was made the Báb and hujja. The Báb himself, she concludes, will be followed in his turn by the open appearance of the Imám in person.
In another treatise, Qurratu'l-'Ayn links the concept of the "manifest towns" to the Shaykhi theory of the "fourth support" (al-rukn al-rábi'). This later theory is fairly complex, and I do not propose to discuss it in detail here. Suffice it to say that, where traditional Shi'i theology speaks of five "bases" (usul) of religion (i.e., the oneness of God, prophethood, resurrection, the justice of God, and Imámate), Shaykhi doctrine reduces these to three: knowledge of God, prophethood, and Imámate. Added to these is a "fourth support," which is knowledge of the "friends" (awliya') of the Imáms, a term which includes the nuqaba' and nujabai', together with mujtahids and the ulamá in general. In the course of a defense of the concept of four supports, Qurratu'l-'Ayn states that the "fourth support" may be identified with the "manifest towns." She further argues that the meaning of the messenger (rasúl) in every age is the "bearer of the hidden sign," a branch of the tree that gives the fruit of true knowledge. This fruit is renewed in every age in order to put men to the test. This bearer of God's hidden knowledge is revealed at whatever time the will of God deems it proper. In this age, she says, God has revealed the "fourth support" and sent a messenger (rasul), who is the remembrance of the Imám — in other words, the Báb. This individual she then identifies as "the manifest town," later describing him as the "special shi'a (shi'ay-i khasís . . . az máqám-i ikhtisás) and one of the nuqaba' or (echoing al-Ahsá'í) "special Shi'a." She also defends the Báb's use of the words "I am he who manifested himself to Moses on Sinai" (man-am mutajalliy-i Músá dar Túr) by referring to a well-known Shi'i tradition to the effect that the one who appeared to Moses was a man from behind the throne of God, one of the shi'a of the Imáms. More widely, she states that, in this age, the nuqaba' are shining forth from the glory of
the Imáms, probably a reference to the Letters of the Living or other members of the Bábí hierarchy. The Báb himself makes use of the sevenfold concept of tahid, ma'áni, abwáb, Imáma, arkan, nuqaba', and nujaba'. Although he does not identify them with any specific individuals, he does indicate that these last two groups exist on earth and go unrecognized by men. He does, however, identify the Letters of the Living as the "manifest towns," an identification also made by Qurratu'l-Ayn in a commentary on one of the Báb's letters. Qurratu'l-Ayn significantly precedes her own reference to the sábiqún as the "manifest towns" by describing them as "the paths and gates of the Remembrance" (subul al-dhikr wa abwábuhu), epithets which draw attention to the role of the sábiqún as intermediaries between the primary manifestation of the Will and the rest of mankind.
Curiously enough, the Báb makes little use of the terms nuqabá' and nujaba', preferring instead to employ the terms already mentioned (maráyá' adillá', and shuhadá'). In the Panj sha'n, however, there occurs an important reference to the nuqabá' and nujabá'; in the context of an explanation of the Báb's theory of secondary mirrors. We have already noted that he often refers to the place of manifestation of the Will as a mirror, in which the sun of God (or of the Will) may be seen. But this original mirror, as the representative of the hidden Essence, marks only the inception of a descending hierarchy, the grades of which are themselves described as mirrors reflecting it in a manner identical to that outlined by al-Ahsá'í in his account of the hierarchy of knowledge. "If," says the Báb, "unnumbered mirrors were to be placed before him [i.e., the mazhar] and he were to decree prophethood [for them], they would be prophets (rasul); and if unnumbered mirrors were to stand in front of them and he were to decree guardianship [for them], they would be guardians (awliya'); and if unnumbered mirrors were to stand before them and he were to decree directorship, they
would be directors (naqíb); and if unnumbered mirrors were to stand before them and he were to decree nobility, they would be nobles (najíb); and likewise for every goodly name."
This sequence of primary, secondary, tertiary, and other mirrors is, according to the Báb, an actual characteristic of every revelationary cycle, not only in the lifetime of the prophet (who is the primary mirror) but throughout the subsequent period, leading up to the reappearance of the Primal Will in another prophet. "Consider," he says, "the revelation of the prophet Muhammad, how many mirrors appeared up until the time when God manifested the Point of the Bayán. . . . Similarly, behold in the Bayán, from the first moment that God sent it down upon the Primal Point until the time of the next resurrection, wherein God shall manifest him whom God shall manifest. . . all the pure glasses that have appeared, all the untouchable mirrors that have reflected..." In a lengthier passage, he describes the relationship between the primary and the other mirrors: God, he says, "has singled out from his creation a mirror indicating his firstness and his lastness, his appearance and his concealment, and has established it as his Will, inasmuch as it has only wished for that which he has wished. . . . In this mirror there is seen nothing but his most holy essence. . . . This mirror has appeared from the beginning that has no beginning in every revelation (zuhúr) with a (different) name, and in every period of concealment (butún) it has manifested itself on (different) thrones. " Although they are innumerable, these mirrors are but a single mirror in which God alone can be seen. All other mirrors exist in the shadow of this single mirror and are all manifestations (tajalliyyát) of it. This, however, raises the question of how there can be a multiplicity of mirrors in any one dispensation — to which the Báb replies that in each revelation the "speaker" (nátiq, the primary manifestation of the divine Will), which is a mirror showing the "manifest exaltation" of the zuhúr, summons men
to the revelation, while all the secondary mirrors to be illumined in that zuhúr summon others to the primary mirror. God, indeed, wishes to see innumerable secondary mirrors placed beneath the shadow of the first, all of them remaining entirely dependent on it.
This hierarchical principle is precisely observed in the Bábí dispensation. God, says the Báb, created him and made him the mirror of his self, after which unlimited secondary mirrors were created from him. Out of these latter, God again selected a single mirror to be a mirror for himself, causing it to speak on his behalf and to act as a locus (maqám) for his revelation and concealment. From this secondary mirror in turn other mirrors are to be brought into existence, all of them calling men to God, informing them about him and guiding them to him. This sequence is described in detail in a subsequent passage:
God, praised be he, has singled out in this revelation an untouchable mirror and an exalted glass in which the sun of reality is reflected, upon which the point of divinity has shone, and in which the real being of eternity is displayed. . . . This mirror shall be reflected in (another) mirror, which mirror shall be reflected in (another) mirror, which mirror shall be reflected in (another) mirror, which mirror shall be reflected in (another) mirror. Even were it to make mention (of these mirrors) to the end that has no end, the accounting of my heart would not be free of those shining reflections, those ascending manifestations. But until now only that (original) mirror has appeared with pure innate capacity (fitra mahda) ."
This series of reflecting mirrors parallels and is in some ways closely linked to the better-known hierarchical system of Babism composed of "letters" (huruf), "unities" (wahid), and "all things" (kullu shay'). Together with the Báb himself, the eighteen "Letters of the Living" formed the "first unity" (al-wahíd al-awwal) of the Bayán. It seems to have been the
Báb's intention to establish a complete and identifiable hierarchy based on the multiplication of "unities" (wáhid), beginning with the Letters of the Living. According to Nabil, the Báb instructed his first disciples to record the names of those whom they converted, lists of which were to be forwarded to him via his uncle in Shiraz. These lists were to be classified by the Báb into "eighteen sets of nineteen names each," each set constituting a single "unity" and the total, together with the first "unity" coming to 361, the number of "all things" (i.e., the numerical equivalent of the phrase kullu shay').
Although the Báb's later writings continue to contain complex references to this overall concept, there is no evidence that his original object was ever attained or that the classification of "unities" proceeded as planned. Nevertheless, there are references to a "second unity" (al-wahid al-tháni), which included the Bábí leader Sayyid Yahyá Darabi, Vahid, and to "unities" other than the first, and it seems likely that the Báb retained hopes of ultimately organizing his followers according to this scheme.
A related but more complex concept, which I cannot claim to understand or be able to explain fully at this point, is that of mirrors reflecting the letters of the unities or the unities in general. This idea is expressed simply (but unfortunately without any reference) by the Bahá'í writer Ishráq-Khavari, who states that the Báb "established eighteen mirrors beneath the shadow of each of the Letters of the Living, in order that they might form the number of wahíd (19) together with the Letters of the Living." This seems to be related to the progressive development of the Báb's claims, as he himself indicates in the Panj sha'n: "I revealed myself in the gates for four years, and it is necessary that a mirror be found for each letter, that it may be a place of manifestation (mazhar) for those letters. This sense of progression is emphasized in the following passage:
"You revealed me in the name of your gates for that number [i.e., the number of years corresponding to them], 4; wherefore, create, O my God, for each unity an untouchable mirror that may reflect your essence, and an exalted glass that may guide (men) to your oneness. Then you removed the honor of that garment and raised me up from that inaccessible horizon and revealed me in the guides to your guardianship (fi adillá' wiláyatika) and the names of your unity. Wherefore, create 0 my God, in each year for each unity an untouchable mirror and an exalted glass that will reflect from my self in all the grades of your power and the manifestations of your glory,"
"I bear witness that God manifested me in the gates for the number of [the letter] dál [i.e., 4], in which we remained speaking; and since my self has recognized all things, it is necessary that that mirror be reflected by (another) mirror. . . , indeed it is necessary that there be found in each year a mirror for each manifestation of the guides of the unity (adillá al-wáhid)."
What this appears to mean is that the Báb hoped a fresh mirror would be found to reflect each of the original Letters of the Living every year, in this way creating new unities, leading ultimately to the creation of one or more kullu shay'. It would, however, take a total of three hundred and sixty-one years to reach the first kullu shay' in this way. If, on the other hand, we think of an exponential progression, with each new unity generating subsidiary unities every year, numerous kullu shay' would rapidly come into being.
Possibly related to the above concept is that of the regular appearance throughout the Bábí dispensation of temples (haykals), apparently manifestations of each of the members of the first unity: "Nurture, 0 God, the tree of the Bayán until the
day of him you will manifest; and cause to appear, 0 God, at the beginning of every (period of) sixty-six years a temple belonging to the temples of the unity, that they may raise up your paths in the Bayán [i.e., promulgate the Bábí laws] and take hold of what you decreed from your horizons in the Bayán until the day your heaven, your earth, and all that is between them shall be illumined by the appearance of him whom you will manifest " The significance of this is somewhat clearer than that of the foregoing. In the course of his lengthy and complex discussion of the significance of "temples" in the last sections of the Panj sha'n, the Báb says that every sixty-six years of the qur'anic era passed about one letter of the first "unity". Significantly, the Báb compares the first temple (the locus of the Primal Will) and the eighteen temples beneath it to the sun and the mirrors reflecting it. It is unclear what the relationship between the two ideas must be, but in the Haykal al-din (Temple of religion), the Báb orders the renewal of all books every sixty-six years. Perhaps the idea is that fresh knowledge will be revealed every sixty-six years and that, therefore, all previous books will become worthless.
It is far from clear to what extent the Báb wished to formalize this system. Many of the references to adillá' , shuhadá', and maráyá seem quite general and open-ended. At the same time, there are hints that some sort of organization was to be introduced. In the Arabic Bayán and the Haykal al-din, for example, the Báb describes the division of the spoils of war to various groups, including "the first letters" (al-hurúf úlá) and "the witnesses" (al-shuhadá').  In the Persian and Arabic Bayáns the Báb lays down general rules for the distribution of tax revenue to the members of the unities, as well as the descendants of the Letters of the Living. In one place, he instructs future Bábí kings to select twenty-five individuals from the ulamá who are "horizons of the letters" (matáli' al-hurúf) to teach the people.
LONG-TERM ESCHATOLOGICAL EXPECTATIONS
Whether organized or not, the concept of guides and witnesses is closely linked to the Báb's anticipation of the eschatological events related to the appearance of the next locus of the Primal Will, generally referred to in his writings as "he whom God shall manifest" (man yuzhiruhu'lláh). The Báb expected his laws and teachings to be preserved and promulgated in the long term by a succession of guides who would eventually lead men to the recognition of the next prophet. It is, as we have noted previously, a basic Shi'i principle that there must always be a divine proof (hujja) for creation. The Báb himself emphasizes this doctrine in a highly important passage of the Panj sha'n, which I shall quote almost in full:
Know that [it is the case in each manifestation (zuhúr) that, until the creation of that manifestation has reached the limits of perfection, the divine Will and eternal Volition of the Living One will not return to men. From the beginning of each manifestation to the day of the next manifestation, all the guides that appear always have affirmed and always will affirm the acceptance of that revelation; and they have been and will be the ornaments embellishing that period of concealment [butún; i.e., between revelations]. They are all mirrors reflecting the sun of oneness belonging to that manifestation and shining glasses displaying the Countenance of that concealment.
And know that there has always been and always will be a proof on the part of the God unto his creation, for all things exist through the Will of God; indeed, it cannot be imagined that there should at any time be a thing and the proof for it on the part of God not be complete. . . . Just as the Living One has always existed, so there has ever been established the existence of the throne of reality among created beings. Throughout eternity his station has always existed, except that in the day of resurrection (yawm-i qiyámat) he
is manifest and shining above the horizon (mashriq), while in the days of his setting (ghurúb) he is knowing and hidden.
Yet during the period of his concealment, there have been and shall be guides to his cause in each manifestation who have preserved and shall preserve his religion. And there have been and shall be witnesses to creation on his part. These are the lights of guidance in the night of nights, through whom all (others) are guided.
Referring to the questions of how long a period will elapse between his revelation and that of him whom God shall manifest, the Báb states that, in every manifestation God chooses for the locus of manifestation guides, witnesses, preservers (huffáz), and forerunners (ruwwád) who preserve God's laws from manifestation to manifestation and summon men to God from concealment to concealment. It is men's duty to recognize the "throne of revelation" in each manifestation and cling, in each concealment, "to the guides of the one veiled in that manifestation."
It is clear that this principle is also to obtain in the period between the manifestation of the Báb and that of him whom God shall manifest. "In the days of God," the Báb writes, "every glass that rises up will be a guide to him whom God shall manifest and all shall reflect him." "While the sun is shining [i.e., while the Báb still lives], let you all obtain illumination from its light. But after that, he who recites the verses of God in their true nature (bi-fitratihá), may you obtain illumination from their [the verses] light. And if after that there should shine forth one like him, then you shall be guided by one like him and shall shine with the light of God, until such time as the unity is complete, whereupon the affair shall return to God."
This last passage seems to be made even clearer in the following lines from a letter of the Báb's to Mírzá Ibráhim Qazvini, to whom he writes: "The cause shall reach the Name al-Wahid
[i.e., Mírzá Yahyá Subh-i Azal], for his appearance in himself is a proof; and after him, should God reveal one like him possessed of proof, it [the cause] shall reach him; otherwise the cause is in the hands of the witnesses in the Bayán, until the day of him whom God shall manifest in the next resurrection." It seems evident, then, that the Báb anticipated some form of continuing hujjiyya, mediated at first through single individuals and then, if necessary, through the "witnesses" in general. That this was so is emphasized by his statement to the effect that "the creation shall be in the night of nights just as it was after Muhammad, until you [God] show beneficence towards them through the manifestation of your self in the day of resurrection."
A crucial question, of course, was that of how long the period of concealment between the Báb's death and the appearance of him whom God shall manifest would be. Although it cannot be proved, I am of the opinion that this did not actually become an issue until the mid-1860s, when conflicting Azali and Bahá'í claims about the length or brevity of this period raised it to a central position in the debate between these two factions. The Báb's own writings, as we have seen, imply an interval similar to that between any two previous prophets. The reference to temples appearing every sixty-six years would seem to preclude any manifestation before at least one such period. More telling are the numerous passages that anticipate the appearance of Bábí kings, ministers, governors, and ulamá; or the conquest of the entire earth by the Bábís; or the general application of Bábí laws, including that of pilgrimage; or the construction of mosques and tombs; or the levying of taxes; or the regulation of trade — all of which necessitate the existence of a developed and stable Bábí state.
Indeed, some of the Báb's laws, such as the regulations that books must be renewed every 66 or 202 years or that furniture must be replaced every 19 years, of themselves imply a long-term outlook on his part. But perhaps the clearest indication
of the minimum time-scale anticipated by the Báb is to be found in a passage of the Haykal al-din which, in spite of its obscurities, is quite explicit as to the number of years involved.
If he [God] wished, he could decree more than a "unity"; and if he desires he is capable [of revealing] until the day of resurrection thrones of the living (a'rásh hayy, [sic]); and if he wishes he will command you (to obey/follow?) one whose knowledge encompasses the laws of the Bayán after the sun has set. After six hundred and sixty-two years have elapsed of the Bayán, present yourselves before your ruler (malikikum, God?) every eleven years (?, fi ihá'ashar sana, [sic]), then praise [him?], that you may thus present yourselves before him whom God shall manifest.
It is worth referring, even if only in passing, to the vexed question of the terms aghyath (of ghiyath) and mustaghath, which are used by the Báb in the Persian Bayán in connection with the appearance of him whom God shall manifest. The most important passage in which the terms are used is in the sixteenth báb of the second wahid:
I promise the people of the Bayán that if, at the time of the appearance of him whom God shall manifest, you should all attain to that mightier paradise [i.e., belief in him] and that greater meeting, you shall be blessed, you shall be blessed, you shall be blessed. Otherwise, should you hear that a revelation has appeared with the signs of the former (revelation), in the number of God the Most Succouring (al-ghiyath = 1511), let you all enter in. If that should not take place and it has reached the number of the name of God the Beseeched (aI-mustagháth = 2001), and if you should hear that a Point has appeared yet you have not all been convinced, have mercy on yourselves and all in your entirety enter beneath the shadow of that manifest Point. . . . If you do not hear [that he has appeared], then abase yourself and offer up supplications that the grace of God may not be cut off from you until [the time of] mustagháth. And if you hear between now and mustagháth that he
who is my beloved and your beloved, my sovereign and your sovereign, has appeared, do not hesitate even for a single second, but enter you all together beneath God's shadow. ... 0 People of the Bayán, if anyone should hesitate even to take one breath after two thousand and one years, he shall without question no longer belong to the religion of the Bayán and shall enter hell.
Bahá'í writers have, I think, been correct in pointing out that the two figures of 1511 and 2001 years represent the latest date at which the next manifestation was to appear, and in stressing that the Báb himself held that only God knew the time of the revelation'" and that, whatever the date, all were obliged to recognize him whom God shall manifest when he came. At the same time, whatever later interpretations of these passages may suggest, it is highly unlikely that much or any early Bábí opinion anticipated the next manifestation before the passage of a considerable period of time, and certainly not as soon as the ninth or nineteenth year after the Báb's own appearance.
It is also, I think, obvious that it is impossible to maintain that the Báb clearly foretold the year of the appearance of him whom God shall manifest or identified him with a living individual, and at the same time to hold that he set no time at all or, indeed, that he felt some need to refer to the latest date of the manifestation as 1511 or 2001 years in the future.
Early Bábí opinion as to the probable lateness of the next manifestation would have been reinforced by numerous statements of the Báb, particularly in the Panj sha'n, to the effect that, unless the creation begun under one manifestation has reached a state of completion (or perfection), the next manifestation will not arrive. Such statements are almost without exception accompanied by references to the guides or mirrors who will appear to preserve the faith throughout the time of concealment. This principle of completeness preceding the recreation of all things in a new revelation is stated explicitly to apply to the Bábí dispensation: "Unless the creation of the Bayán
reaches perfection, God shall not manifest him — do you not see? All who shall appear before his appearance are guides to the fact that there is no God but him and that all are his servants." "God knows the period (that will elapse) between the Point of the Bayán and him whom he shall manifest; but if the creation in any given manifestation does not reach perfection, God will not manifest the locus of the revelation of himself in the next manifestation. "Today," he says, "the Bayán is in a state of seed; but at the beginning of the revelation of him whom God shall manifest, there will be the final perfection of the Bayán."
Related in some way to this notion of increased perfection (which has important analogies in other aspects of Bábí doctrine) is the concept that, as a revelation progresses, time becomes increasingly thin or subtle to the point that a fresh locus of manifestation has to appear. This idea may have been derived by the Báb from Shaykh Ahmad al-Ahsá'í, who employs it in relation to the appearance of the Twelfth Imám. According to al-Ahsá'í, the beginning and end of time are both subtle (latíf), while its middle is dense. As men draw closer to the time of the Imám's appearance, time becomes increasingly subtle until he finally returns. This appears to be linked to the theory that the heavens move quickly during a time of injustice and slowly during a period of justice, so that, when the Qá'im appears, a year will equal ten normal years. Al-Ahsá'í also believed that, when the Qá'im appeared, the heavens would return to their original position and commence their second revolution. It certainly seems that al-Ahsá'í conceived of time as essentially single, beginning with the creation and culminating in the appearance of the Hidden Imám. The Báb, however, while borrowing the idea that time becomes increasingly fine, sees this as a process that recommences with every fresh revelation of the Primal Will. "In every manifestation, when the era (kúr) has reached the extremity of fineness and the
cycle (túr) [has reached] the utmost degree of thinness, he [God] has manifested himself to his creation in the throne he has chosen from among men, the seat he has selected from among his servants." Thus, time became increasingly subtle through the 1,270 years of the Islamic era until God revealed the Báb, so that time is now in a state of subtlety. Since the Báb elsewhere states that God nurtured men for 1,270 years, it seems evident that the processes of temporal refinement and gradual perfecting are assumed to go hand in hand during the period of concealment.
Finally, it is worth noting in passing that the Báb hinted more than once that the time of the appearance of him whom God shall manifest could, in fact, be calculated in advance: "The length of time from this revelation to the revelation of him whom God shall manifest is known to God. But it is possible for men to know it from what they deduce through the science of letters [gematria]. Should God give anyone that knowledge in its entirety, he will make his deduction just as those who deduced [the time of] the revelation of the Point of the Bayán from poems." "The period separating one manifestation from another," he says, "is known only to God or to those to whom God has given the science of letters in its entirety ." Among other things, the final sections of the Panj sha'n are devoted to the revelation of the science of letters, with the aim of enabling men to recognize him whom God was to manifest on his appearance. And it seems to be the case that speculation employing gematria was used by many Bábís in an attempt to "decipher" the rather abstruse statements found in these passages.
SHORT-TERM ESCHATOLOGICAL EXPECTATIONS
If, as I think is correct, the vast majority (if not all) of the Bábís in the period after the Báb's death regarded the next
manifestation as an event that would occur in the distant future, possibly as much as 2001 years away, what did they expect to happen in the immediate future — in the next ten or twenty years, let us say? I should like to look at one or two indications that there was some kind of messianic expectation in primitive Babism, even after the Báb's own claims had reached their highest point. This was, as I propose to demonstrate, largely rooted in Shi'i eschatological theory and in various allusions in the writings of the Báb himself. But I think it can also be attributed in part to the actual conditions of Babism in the 1850s.
The sharp contrast between Shi'i messianic expectations relating to the earthly triumph of the Qá'im and the rapid establishment of a reign of justice under his government, on the one hand, and the physical destruction of the Báb and his leading followers, on the other, must have been a tremendous shock to the large numbers who had put their faith in the Báb as their messiah. In such a situation, the failure of prophecy will provoke a variety of responses: the abandonment of belief, more intense faith, or readjustment or rationalization of the content of the prophecy that has been deemed to have failed. Rather than simply resign themselves to the failure of their immediate hopes and patiently await the coming of him whom God shall manifest, it is probable that a large part of the Bábí community would have looked for further eschatological events and personages in the present. Shi'i prophecy relating to the events surrounding the appearance of the Qá'im, Muhammad, and the other Imáms is extremely flexible and open to varying interpretation. Even such a devout believer in the validity of Shi'i traditions as Shaykh Ahmad al-Ahsá'í was forced to admit that the prophetic traditions were full of irreconcilable contradictions. It is, therefore, possible to create a variety of scenarios for events to come, each of which can be justified by reference to different
prophecies. I do not wish to enter into a detailed discussion of these prophecies here — the interested reader may find adequate information in the standard works — but instead to draw attention to one or two that may be particularly relevant to our present discussion.
According to a number of traditions, the Qá'im will be the first of the Imáms to return to earth, after which he will rule for seven or nine years, each of which will be the equivalent of ten normal years. Al-Ahsá'í expresses a definite preference for the figure seven (seventy). After fifty-nine years of the Qá'im's rule have passed, the Imám Husayn will come forth; he will remain silent (sámit) for eleven years (i.e., until the year seventy), whereupon the Qá'im will be killed and his place taken by Husayn for nineteen years until the appearance of 'Alí.
Now, it was true that the Qá'im (i.e., the Báb) had been put to death in the sixth (thus, sixtieth) year of his "reign." The logical conclusion must, therefore, have been that the Imám Husayn would now appear to take over the task he had begun. However, this did not tally very well with strict Bábí theory. The Báb had, as we have seen, stated categorically that the Imám Husayn had already returned to earth along with Muhammad, Fatima, the other Imáms, and the four Gates. In at least one place, moreover, he had gone on to say that "whoever awaits, after this, the appearance of the Mahdi or the return (raj'a) of Muhammad or one of those who have believed in God or his verses, is of those who possess no knowledge — this shall be so until the day when God causes me and those who have believed in me to return. That shall be the day of resurrection, when all shall be in a new creation." Since the letter in which this passage occurs is known to have been widely spread among the Bábis, we must assume that this clear rejection of further "returns" was reasonably well known within the community.
And yet it must have been tempting to ignore it or interpret it away, for the Shi'i prophecies did not speak of all the sacred figures of Islam returning at once, and it was well known that Ali in particular was expected to have "two returns." There were, moreover, hints in the Báb's writings that further eschatological events could after all be anticipated in the very near future. These hints are far from easy to disentangle, but I shall attempt to give some idea of what they involved.
Let me begin by looking at a passage of the Dala'il-i sab'a where the Báb commences by quoting part of the well-known Shi'i tradition, the "Hádíth Kumayl," interspersing his citations with references to each of the first five years of his prophetic mission. Thus, in the first year there occurred "the uncovering of the veils of glory, without any indication," in the second "the extinction of what was doubtful and the clarification of what was known," in the third "the rending of the veil through the overcoming of the mystery," in the fourth "the attraction of oneness to the attribute of singleness," and in the fifth "a light shone out of the morning of eternity (subh al-azal) upon the tabernacles of oneness." He concludes by telling his correspondent that he will indeed see the light from the morning of eternity if he does not despair.
Immediately after this, the Báb turns to examine a phrase in a morning prayer (du'a al-sabar) written by the Imám Báqir, which begins with the well-known words "0 God, I beseech you by your beauty (bahá'ika) in its most beautiful [aspect], and by all your resplendent beauty. 0 God, I beseech you by all of your beauty." According to the Báb's interpretation, this first section of the prayer refers to Muhammad, the next to 'Alí, up to the fifth section (which begins, "I beseech you, 0 my God, by your light [núrika] in its most luminous aspect"), is a reference to the Imám Husayn. Identification of the word light (núr) with Husayn occurs elsewhere in the Báb's writings and can, therefore, be regarded as entirely normal in the
present context. Although he does not say so explicitly, it is clear that he is linking the light that occurs in the fifth phrase of the "Hadith Kumayl" (and hence in the fifth year of his mission) with the light that is mentioned in the du'a al-sabar and which is identified with the Imám Husayn. In other words, the Imám Husayn is the light that "shone out of the morning of eternity."
Following this, the Báb quotes a short passage from a letter written by Shaykh Ahmad al-Ahsá'í to Sayyid Kazim Rashti, ending with the words: "You shall know his call after a time (ba'da hin)." This is not the first time the phrase ba'da hin occurs in the Dala'il-i sab'a: several pages earlier, the Báb cites two passages from the Khutba al-tutunjiyya attributed to the Imám 'Alí, in the second of which the following words occur:
"After a time you shall possess a new thing (turfa) through which you shall know part of the explanation. Thereupon the regions shall be tongue-tied through men summoning others to every vanity. Beware, beware, and expect the appearance of the greatest relief."
In spite of its obvious meaning of "after a while," ba'da hin has been, interpreted numerologically, the word hin being taken as a reference to the year 1268 A.H. In other words, ba'da hin may be read as "after 68," namely the year 69 or, within the context of the Bábí dispensation beginning in 1260, the year 9. In order to get a little closer to what the Báb is trying to say in the Dalá'il-i sab'a, let us look at a number of passages in the Panj sha'n. Here, he refers to the year 9 and to what will precede and follow it. Thus, for example, he says: "This is what we promised you a time ago (min qabli bin [lit. "from before a time"]), when we replied to you: "Wait until nine has elapsed of the Bayán, then say "blessed be God, the best of creators." Immediately after this, he says (again, it appears, referring to an earlier reply) that "before nine (al-tá'), there must appear in six (al-wáw) two signs from God in the book from the early ones (al-awwalín)." I shall come back to these two signs in
a moment, but first let me quote a later section of the Panj sha'n addressed, like the first, to Mullá Shaykh 'Alí Turshizi 'Azim: "Before the maturity (bulúgh) of the Primal Point in the wombs of existence 'before nine' (qabla 'l-tis'a), [which is] the equivalent of 'before a time' (qabla hin), it is necessary that two mirrors reflect God."
It would seem that the 'two signs' and the 'two mirrors' mentioned in these passages are to be regarded as identical. But what are they references to? After the first of the passages quoted, the Báb continues as follows: "Say: the first of them [i.e., the two signs] is Yahyá the prophet [i.e., John the Baptist], and the other is the son of 'Alí." After the second, he goes on: "for from the beginning of creation (min badi' al-awwal) until this time, no one was born after the passage of six months except Yahyá the prophet and Husayn the son of 'Alí."
Both the second passages from the Panj sha'n and a similar passage quoted by Bahá'u'lláh in his Lawh-i Shaykh speak in terms of "maturing" or of the development of an embryo (a common Islamic and Bábí image). The lines just quoted explicitly bring in the notion of an embryo reaching maturity in the brief period of six months. Could, therefore, the appearance of the "two signs" (or "two mirrors") in the year 6 (1266 A.H./1849-50A.D.) be intended to indicate the actual birth of the Bábí revelation, which had previously been in a state of gestation? The Báb may have anticipated that "before nine," which seems to mean "in the year six" (nine months being, of course, the normal period of gestation), the Bayán would reach maturity in the appearance of two mirrors representing Husayn and John the Baptist. As far as Husayn is concerned, this would certainly correspond to the prophecies referring to his appearance in the sixtieth (thus, the sixth) year of the reign of the Qá'im.
But what of the "year nine" itself? There are clear references to it in some of the Báb's writings. In the Arabic Bayan, for example, he writes: "When you hear the mention of the one we
shall manifest in the name of the Qá'im, anticipate the difference between al-qá'im and al-qayyúm. Then you shall attain to all good in the year nine." This statement is echoed in somewhat different words in the Haykal al-din: "Rise up when you hear the name of the Qá'im and when you mention [it]. And you shall witness all good between the difference of al-Qá'im and al-qayyúm. numerically ('adadan) in nine years." One of the problems posed by the use of the terms al- qayyúm. (meaning something like "self-sufficient") in these passages is that it is not a normal eschatological term in Shi'i literature and cannot readily be identified with an expected eschatological figure. Normally, in fact, the word occurs as a title of the divinity. In a letter to his uncle, Hájí Mírzá Sayyid 'Alí Shirází, the Báb identifies it numerically with the name Yúsuf (=156) and says that "it means the Qá'im of the family of Muhammad," which is, of course, himself. Nor is the numerical difference between al-Qá'im and al-qayyúm. of much help, since this may amount to 5, 9, or 14, depending on the value given to the third letter (either yá' or hamza) of qá'im.
The reader — if he has persevered this far — will by now have reached the conclusion that none of this is very clear. I suspect that many early Bábís may have felt the same way. Nevertheless, it is apparent that references of this kind must have encouraged interest in the years around 1268, 1269, and 1270 A.H. (1851-54 A.D.) and suggested the possibility of the initial appearance of John the Baptist and Husayn in 1266/1848-49, possibly followed by their later activity in 1269/1852-53. And the question of Husayniyya — the claim to be the return of Husayn — did indeed come to be of more than passing interest around this period.
This paper is an expanded version of a paper written for the Second Annual Los Angeles Bahá'í History Conference, August 1984. It is
only part of a larger study of authority claims in middle Babism (c. 1850-1866) that I have undertaken. The purchase of many of the materials used in the preparation of this paper was made possible through a grant from the Research Committee of Newcastle University, to whom I wish to express my thanks.
1. The following are among the more important recent studies of the subject: D. MacEoin, "From Shaykhism to Babism: A Study in Charismatic Renewal in Shi'i Islam" (Ph.D. thesis, Cambridge University, 1979); idem., "Early Shaykhi Reactions to the Báb and His Claims," in M. Momen (ed.), Studies in Bábí and Bahá'í History Vol. I (Los Angeles: Kalimát Press, 1983); idem, "The Bábí Concept of Holy War," Religion (1982) 12: 93-129; M. Momen (ed.), The Bábí and Bahá'í Religions, 1844-1944: Some Contemporary Western Accounts (Oxford: George Ronald, 1981); idem, "The Trial of Mullá 'Alí Bastámí: A Combined Sunni-Shi'i Fatwa against the Báb," Iran (1982) 20: 113-43; idem, "The Social Basis of the Bábí Upheavals in Iran (1848-53): A Preliminary Analysis" in lJMES (1953) 15:157-83; A. Amanat, "The Early Years of the Bábí Movement: Background and Development" (Ph.D. thesis, Oxford University 1981); P. Smith, "Millenarianism in the Bábí and Bahá'í Religions," in R. Wallis (ed.), Millennialism and Charisma (Belfast: Queen's University, 1982); idem, "A Sociological Study of the Bábí and Bahá'í Religions" (Ph.D. thesis, Lancaster University, 1982); Mangol Bayat, Mysticism and Dissent: Socioreligious Thought in Qajar Iran (Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1982) ch. 4 "The Politicization of Dissent in Shia Thought: Babism."
2. On this figure, much lower than that generally given in Bahá'í sources, see D. MacEoin, "From Babism to Bahá'ism: Problems of Militancy, Quietism, and Conflation in the Construction of a Religion," Religion (1983) 13: 219-55, p. 236.
3. See letter of Sayyid Husayn Yazdi to Mullá 'Abdu'l-Karim Qazvini (dated possibly late 1850 or 1851) in [Sayyid 'Ali Muhammad Shirází, the Báb and Sayyid Husayn Yazdi] Qismati az alwáh-i khatt-i Nuqfay-i Úlá wa Aqá Sayyid Husayn Yazdi (n.p. [Tehran], n.d.) p. 39; Mírzá Husayn 'Ali Nuri, Bahá'u'lláh, "Lawh-i warqá," in Abdu'l-Hamid Ishráq-Khávarí (ed.), Ma'idih-i asmani, 10 vols. (Tehran, 1971-72-1972-73) vol. 4, p. 150; idem, Kitáb-i iqan (Cairo, 1352/
1933) pp. 168-69; Shoghi Effendi [Rabbani, God Passes By (Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1944) pp. 90-91.
4. MacEoin, "Early Shaykhi Reactions"; idem, "From Shaykhism to Babism." ch. 5.
5. See idem, "Nineteenth-century Bábí Talismans," paper delivered at the annual conference of the British Society for Middle East Studies, Cambridge, 1983, published in Studia Iranica (1985) 14:1, pp. 77-98.
6. Sayyid Mahdi Dahájí, Risálay-i Sayyid Mahdi Dahájí, MS F57. E. G. Browne Or. MSS, Cambridge University Library, p. 38.
7. Dahájí is at this point attempting to prove that the phrase "the light that dawns from the morn of eternity upon the temples of unity" (núr ashraqa min subhb al-azal 'alá hayákil al-tawhíd) refers to the Báb's appearance as the Qá'im and not to the emergence of Subh-i Azal in the fifth year. There is in existence, however, a statement by the Báb's contemporary, Mírzá Muhammad 'Alí Zunaizi, to the effect that, in the beginning, the Báb claimed to have been sent by the Hidden Imám and that his words were below those of the Imám but superior to those of al-Ahsá'í and Rashti; after that he adopted the title dhikru'lláh, then Qá'im, and finally the station of rububiyyat (lordship, divinity) — see text quoted Mírzá Asadu'lláh Fadil-i Mazandarani, Kitáb-i Zuhúr al-haqq, vol. 3 (n.p. [Tehran 7], nd.) pp. 31-33. On the later claim to rububiyyat, see the Báb, Bayán-i fársí (n.p. [Tehran], n.d.) exordium, p. 4.
8. See, for example, idem, Qayyumu'l-asma', MS Fli, E. G. Browne Or. MSS, Cambridge University Library, ff.2a, 19a, 32b, 36a, 69, 96a, 103b, 114a. In this and other early works, the term hujja is generally reserved for the Twelfth Imám and for the writings of his báb, Sayyid 'Ali Muhammad. But for an apparently early description of the Báb as al-hujja al-kubrá (the greatest proof), see Qurratu'l-'Ayn, risaila printed in Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl Gulpáyání and Mirza Mahdi Gulpáygání, Kashf al-ghita 'an hiyal al-a'dá' (Ashkhabad, n.d.) appendix, p. 2. The same writer refers to the Báb as "the Proof of God." (Risala printed in Mazandarani, Zuhar al-haqq, vol. 3, p. 361)
9. See the Bab, Kitáb-i panj Sha'n (np. [Tehran], n.d.) pp. 11, 184, 256, 280. See also idem, Dala'il-i sab'a (n.p. Tehran], n.d.) p. 29.
10. A passage quoted from this letter in the Kitáb-i nuqtatu'l-káf identifies it with that printed in the Báb and Yazdi, Qismati az alwah-i, p. 14 (transcription pp. 13-12 [sic]); see Hájí Mírzá Jani Kashani, Kitáb-i-Nutqatu'l-Káf, ed. by E. G. Browne (Leyden and London, 1910) p. 209. The text is also printed in Mazandarani, Zuhúr al-haqq, vol. 3, pp. 164-66.
11. Two main facts point to this date: the first is the Báb's own references to a period of four years elapsing before his elevation to the rank of Qá'im, the second his explicit announcement of Qá'imiyya in the pages of the Dala'il-i sab'a, a book certainly written in Mákú (see the Báb, Dala'il, pp. 25, 29, 30). The Báb left Mákú on 9 April 1848 (see Mullá Muhammad Nabil Zarandi, The Dawn-Breakers, ed. and trans. by Shoghi Effendi [Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1932] p. 259).
12. The Báb, Bayán-i fársí, exordium, p. 4 (básit =72= Máh-kú [a variant of Mákú]; the Báb himself gives, the spelling "Mákú"; ibid., 4:12, p. 136; idem, Dala'il, p. 67).
13. The link between qá'imiyya and the inauguration of a new dispensation (and not merely a new era) is to some extent indicated by a number of messianic traditions that state the Qá'im will appear with a new day, a new religion, and a new creation," or "a new book" given to him by Muhammad and 'Ali, of "a new cause, a new book, a new sunna, and a new heaven." (See texts quoted by Shaykh Ahmad ibn Zayn al-Din al-Ahsá'í in "Risala fi 'l-'isma wa 'l-raj'a," in idem, Jawámi' al-kilam, 2 vols. [Tabriz, 1856, 1860], vol. 1, part 1, pp. 62, 64, 66.)
14. The Báb, Bayán-i fársí, exordium, p. 1; 3:7, p. 81; 4:1, p. 105; 4:2, p. 110, and passim; idem, Panj sha'n, pp. 31-32, 62, 114, 125-26, 155, 165-66, and passim; idem, Dala'il, pp. 1, 31; idem, al-Bayan al-'arabi (n.p. [Tehran], n.d.), section 1, p. 3; 3:7, p. 10.
15. The Báb, Panj sha'n, p. 92.
16. Ibid., p. 245.
17. See ibid., pp. 23, 40, 102, 125, 161, 277; idem, Dalá'il, pp. 2, 3, 20 (payghambar); idem, Bayán-i fársí 2:1, p. 12 and passim.
18. In an important passage of the Kitáb-i panj sha'n, the Báb states that "this revelation [zuhúr] is the fifth revelation in two thousand seven hundred and seventy (years)." (Panj sha'n, p. 289) Elsewhere,
he breaks this figure down into portions, as follows: from Moses to David: 500 years; from David to Jesus: 500 years; from Jesus to Muhammad: 500 years more or less; and from Muhammad to himself 1270 (Or 1271) years. (See ibid., pp. 66, 199, 315, and cf. passage quoted by Mulla Rajab 'Alí Qahir Isfahání, Risálay-i Mulla Rajab Ali, MS F24, E. G. Browne Or. MSS, Cambridge University Library, f78a-f78b.)
This calculation seems to be based largely on a tradition from the Tafsir (Qur'án commentary) of 'Ali ibn Ibráhim [ibn Háshim al-Qummi], in which it is stated that five hundred years passed between Moses and David, and one thousand between David and Jesus (quoted by Shaykh Ahmad ibn Zayn al-Din al-Ahsá'í, Sharh al-ziyára al-jámi'a al-kabira, 4th. ed., 4 vols. [Kerman, 1355 sh./1976-77], vol. 1, p. 195).
The Báb was not, however, wholly consistent in his use of this schema. In the passage just referred to as quoted in Rajab 'Alí Qahir's risala, for example, he places David before Moses. There is a well-known contradiction in the Dala'il-i sab'a which at one point places Moses one thousand years before David, with the space between David and the Báb as 2,270 years (p. 18), and at another puts Moses 2,270 years in the past, as in the Panj sha'n (p. 38). In one passage of the Panj sha'n, however, the Báb speaks of Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, and himself as coming together in a single succession without David (p. 335).
Elsewhere, the Báb returns to a schema closer to that found in the Qur'án, referring to the revelation of God in Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad. (See Panj sha'n, pp. 384, 396-97; Dala'il, p. 66.) In one passage he speaks of prophets prior to Adam. (Panj sha'n, p. 241) The notion of five dispensations seems, however, to be related (albeit idiosyncratically) to the well-known Islamic theory of five major prophets, the ulu'l- 'azm or "possessors of constancy," namely Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad. (See al-Ahsá'í, Sharh al-ziyára, vol. 2, p. 155.)
19. The related verb tajalli (to become clear, manifest) and its derivatives (especially tajalli), with strong echoes of the theories of Ibn al-'Arabi, are frequently used by the Báb. (See, for example, Panj sha'n pp. 31, 54, 195.) On Ibn al-'Arabi's use of this term, see Muhyí
'l-Din ibn al-Arabi, Fusús al-hikam, ed. by Abu'l-Alá 'Afífí (Cairo, 1946) pp. 12-21; idem, The Bezels of Wisdom, trans. by R. W. J. Austin (London, 1980) pp. 149-50; T. Izutzu, A comparative study of the Key Philosophical Concepts in Sufism and Taoism: Ibn al-Arabi and Lao-Tzu, Chuang-Tzu (Tokyo, 1966) pp. 37-38.
It is impossible to tell how far, if at all, the Báb may have been directly influenced by the ideas of Ibn al-Arabi. There is no evidence that he had read any of the latter's works, although we do know that Shaykh Ahmad al-Ahsá'í was familiar with some of them, even though he strongly disapproved of Ibn al-'Arabi (see Shaykh Ahmad ibn Zayn al-Din al-Ahsá'í, Sharh al-Arshiyya, 2nd. ed., vol. 1 [Kerman, 1361/1982]. pp. 26-27; idem, Sharh al-ziyara, vol. 1, pp. 71, 219, vol. 3, p. 219).
20. The Báb, Panj shan, p. 40.
21. Ibid., p. 102.
22. Ibid., p. 125.
23. Idem., Bayán-i fársí, exordium, p. 3.
24. Ibid., p. 4.
25. On the notion that God's zuhúr to his creation can only take place metaphorically, see al-Ahsá'í, Sharh al-Arshiyya, vol. 1, p. 61.
26. The Báb, Panj sha'n, p. 31; cf. ibid., p. 390; idem, Dalá'il, p. 2. On the Imáms as loci of the Primal Will, see al-Ahsá'í, Sharh al-ziyára, vol. 2, p. 192.
27. The Báb, Bayan-i fársí 4:6, pp. 120-21.
28. Idem, Panj sha'n, p. 23 ("the rusul are the thrones of his manifestation"). For "thrones," see passim. 'Arsh al-haqíqa, "the throne of reality," is often used (e.g., ibid., pp. 21, 31). On the primary application of 'arsh to the "Reality of Muhammad" (al-haqíqa al-muhammadiyya) and 'Absolute Guardianship" (al-wiláya al-mutlaqa), of which the Imáms are the loci, see al-Ahsá'í Sharh al-ziyára , vol. 4, p. 245. On Bábí usage, see further, 'Abdu'l-Hamid Ishráq-Khávarí, Rabiq-i makhtúm, 2 vols. (Tehran, 130-131 Badi'/1974-76) vol. 2, pp. 157-60.
29. The Báb, Panj sha'n, p. 24 and passim.
30. Ibid., p. 423 and passim. This haykal is particularly described as "the temple of man": "The Will is in the temple of man ('alá haykal al-insán) from the beginning that has no beginning to the end that has
no end" (ibid., p. 388) and, more interestingly: "For the Will has always been in the temple of God ('ala haykal alláh, which is the temple of man, and all things have been created from it" (ibid., p. 389). On the Imáms appearing in different hayákil, see al-Ahsá'í Sharh al-ziyára , vol. 2, p. 160. On the wider implications of the term haykal and its relationship to talismans and the science of letters, see my paper "Nineteenth-century Bábí talismans."
31. The Báb, Panj sha'n, pp. 34, 132-33, 149-50, and passim. On the concept of the Imáms appearing in their bodies like images in mirrors, see al-Ahsá'í, Sharh al-ziyára, vol. 3, p. 128.
32. The Báb, Panj sha'n, p. 23 and passim. On the Imáms as mazáhir, see al-Ahsá'í, Sharh al-ziyára , vol. 2, p. 48.
33. The Báb, Bayán-i fársí, 2:8, p. 37 and passim. Shajarat al-zuhúr also occurs (Panj sha'n, p. 42).
34. Ibid., p. 104 and passim. In this context, the mazhar of the Will is often referred to as the "horizon" (mashriq) or "dawning-point" (matla') — see ibid., p. 51.
35. Idem., Bayán-i fársí, 3:7, p. 81 and passim.
36. Ibid., 1:1, p. 4 and passim. On the use of the titles "first point" and "last point" for the legendary saint Khidr by Abdu'l-Karim Jili, see H. Corbin, Terre celeste et corps de resurrection (Paris, 1960) p. 244. For some other terms used for the Primal Will, see the Báb, Panj sha'n
37. Idem, Bayán-i fársí 1:1, p. 4; 3:8, p. 84.
38. Ibid., 2:8, p. 37.
39. Al-Ahsá'í, Sharh al-ziyára, vol. 4, p. 269. Cf. ibid., vol. 2, p. 316.
40. The Báb, Panj sha'n, p. 423.
41. Ibid., p. 102.
42. Ibid., p. 23.
43. See al-Ahsá'í, Sharh al-ziyára , vol.2, pp. 108 233; vol. 3, pp. 29, 242.
44. See the Báb, Panj sha'n, p. 195: "If he did not reveal himself to the prophets in their own selves, how could God be known?"; ibid., p. 313: "Bear witness that the knowledge of God is not made manifest save by the knowledge of the place in which his self is manifested."
45. Ibid., p. 54; cf. idem, Dalá'il, p. 65.
46. Idem, Panj sha'n, p. 242.
47. Ibid. On the Imáms as both human and divine, see al-Ahsá'i, Sharh al-ziyára, vol. 2, P. 200.
48. The Báb, Panj sha'n, p. 40; cf. p. 314: "His inward aspect is the words "no god is there but God," while his outward aspect in the Qur'án was Muhammad, the messenger of God, and in the Bayán the Essence of the Seven Letters [i.e., 'Alí Muhammad], and in the Gospel Jesus, the Spirit of God, and in the Psalms David, the Friend of God, and in the Torah Moses, the Interlocutor of God, and after the Bayán he whom God shall manifest."
49. Ibid., p. 391.
50. Ibid., p. 31.
51. See ibid., pp. 24, 31. 59, 63-64, 156, 162, 314, 320; cf. idem, Dalá'il, p. 3.
52. Idem. Panj sha'n, p. 133.
53. Ibid., pp. 141, 228, and passim. The idea that a single spirit manifests itself in an ever-changing variety of human forms is fundamental to Ismá'ílí and Twelver (Imámi) Shiism. For the Ismá'ílis, the Imáms "are like one and the same person, only appearing in different bodies and states although being in spirit one and the same all through the ages." (W. Ivanow, Studies in Early Persian Ismailism [London, 1948], p. 2) Al-Ahsá'í says of the Imáms that "although they have appeared in numerous forms (hayákil), despite their being a single entity, there is no multiplicity in this other than from the point of view of an alteration of place, time, direction, and station." (Sharh al-ziyára, vol. 2, p. 160)
54. See previous note.
55. Hadith al-Sabába, quoted al-Ahsá'í, ibid., vol. 2, p. 54. Cf. ibid., p. 115, where the Imáms are said to have spread all the revealed religious systems (shani'i'). Al-Ahsá'i comments that, although the Imáms were created after Muhammad, they are like him in their essences. Ibid., vol. 4, p. 173)
56. For discussion of this complex problem, see Henri Corbin, En Islam iranien, 4 vols. (Paris, 1971-72), vol. 1, chapter VI; idem, Histoire de Ia philosophie islamique, vol. 1 (Paris, 1964), pp. 62-79. See comments of al-Ahsá'í, Sharáz al-ziyára, vol. 4, p. 64.
57. See A. A. Sachedina, Islamic Messianism (Albany, N.Y., 1981) p. 68 and passim.
58. See, for example, al-Ahsá'í, Sharh al-ziyára, vol. 2, pp. 41, 56-57, 114, 200 ("God created one thousand thousand worlds and one thousand thousand Adams; in each one of these worlds he caused the Prophet of God [i.e., Muhammad] to rise up, together with his offspring 'Alí'), 279; vol. 3, pp. 243, 257, 301-02, 361-62; vol. 4, pp. 173,
59. Ibid., vol. 4, p. 188.
60. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 115; cf. ibid., p. 54.
61. Ibid., p. 54.
62. Hadith from Imám Ja'far Al-Sádiq relating to the Twelfth Imám, quoted in al-Ahsá'í, "Risála fi `l-'Isma wa `l-raj'a," in Jawámi', vol. 1, part 1, p. 85; also quoted idem, Sharh al-ziyára, vol. 3, p. 92, and the Báb, Dalá'il, pp. 3-4.
63. For the use of Sábiqún in this context, see Sayyid Kázim Rashti, Usúl al-'aqá'id (Iran Bahá'í Archives, xerox collection, 4) pp. 57, 58.
64. See ibid., pp. 90-91; Háji Muhammad Khán Kirmáni, al-Kitáb al-mubin, 2nd. ed., 2 vols. (Kerman, n.d.), vol. 1, pp. 304-05; al-Ahsá'í, Sharh al-ziyára, vol. 2, pp. 53, 305 (pre-creation).
65. The Báb, Bayán-i fársi, 1:2, pp. 6-7; 1:3, pp. 8-10; idem, letter to Háji Sayyid `All Shirází, quoted Mázandarání, Zuhúr al-haqq, vol. 3, pp. 223-24; idem, letter to `All [Mullá Shaykh `All Turshizi'fí, in the Báb and Yazdi, Qismati az alwáh, p. 14 (transcription, pp. 13-12 [sic]); idem, letter in ibid., p. 18 (transcription, p. 17); idem. Panj sha'n, p. 88 (where Mullá Husayn is identified as the "throne of the Point of the Qur'án [i.e., Muhammad]"). At a later period, the Báb, while retaining this identification, stated that the Letters of the Living (Hurúf-i wáhid) possess two stations: that in which they themselves are seen, in which they are but creatures of God, and that in which only God can be seen, in which they are the "letters of truth." (Bayán-i fársi, 5:17, p. 180)
66. For a discussion of the main details of this dispute, see MacEoin, "From Shaykhism to Babism," chapter 6, section "Division within the Bábí community," pp. 203-07.
67. The main issues of this debate and some of the circumstances
surrounding it have been fortuitously preserved for us in three manuscript risálas, one by Mullá Alimad (printed in `Ali al-Wardi, Lamahát ijtimá'iyya min ta'rikh al `Iraq al-hadith, vol. 2 [Baghdad, 19691 pp. 159 ff.), another by Shaykh Sultan al-Karbalá'í (ins. in Nivishtibadi' nivishta-and [Iran Bahá'í Archives, xerox collection, 80] pp.
310-32; printed in Mázandarání, Zuhúr al-Haqq, vol. 3, pp. 245-59), and one which can, I think, be attributed to Qurratu'l-'Ayn (ins. in Nivisháfrit wa sáthiár, pp. 212-82).
68. Text quoted Mázandarání, Zuhúr aI-Haqq, vol. 3, p. 32. See also ibid., p. 121 and idem, (Mandarání), Asrár al-áthár, 5 vols. (Tehran, 1967/8-1972/73), vol. 2, p. 12.
69. Káshání, Nuqtatu'I-káf, p. 181. I have discussed the vexing question of the authorship and authenticity of the Nuqtatu'l-káf (a point much contested by Bahá'í authors) in an earlier work ("A Revised Survey of the Sources for Early Bábí History and Doctrine," unpublished dissertation, Cambridge, 1977, pp. 168-194) and will not return to it here. Suffice to note my conclusion that, although the bulk of this work is unlikely to be by the hand of Mírzá Jáni Kásháni, it is undeniably early and, whatever its theological peculiarities from a later viewpoint, remarkably reliable. It is certainly not an Azali "forgery." For issues such as those under discussion in the present paper, it is often much more useful than many later historical works.
70. Kásháni, Nuqtatu'I-káf, p. 181.
71. Ibid., p. 152.
72. Ibid., p. 169. This obviously had much to do with Mullá Husayn's name, as in the case of some later claimants to the station of busayniyya.
73. Ibid., p. 208. On inida as the origin of all worlds but itself created by the mashi'a, see the Báb, Bayán-i fársi, 2:16, p. 57; on the iráda as a mirror of the mashi'a, see ibid., 3:7, p. 82.
74. Kásháni, Nuqtatu'l-káf, p. 202; cf. ibid., p. 208.
75. Ibid., p. 207.
76. Ibid., p. 202.
77. Ibid., p. 207. On this broader use of the term qá'im, see al-Ahsá'í, Shar!i aI-ziyára, vol. 3, p. 75, Sachedina, Islamic Messianism, p. 15.
78. Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Zavára'i, Waqáyi'-i mimiyaya (Cambridge University Library, E. G. Browne Or. MSS, F.28, item 1) p. 3 and passim.
79. Ibid., p. 54.
80. Ibid., p. 70.
81. Lutf `All Mírzá Shfrázi, untitled history (Cambridge University Library, E. G. Browne Or. MSS, F.28, item 3) p. 71.
82. Kásháni, Nuqtatu'l-káf, p. 208. For the original hadith and its relationship to the appearance of the Qá'im, see al-Ahsá'í, Sharh al-ziyára, vol. 3, pp. 79, 88, and (in particular) 223.
83. Kásháni, Nuqtatu'l-káf, pp. 90; Mírzá Husayn Hamadáni,The New History (Tárikh-i-Jadid) of Mirzá Ali Muhammad, the Báb, ed. by E. G. Browne (Cambridge University Press, 1893), p. 91 (where Quddús is incidentally referred to as the "Lord of the Dispensation"). For the original prophecy, see Sharh al-ziyára, vol. 3,
pp. 60, 75.
84. Zavára'i, Waqáyi', p. 48.
85. Nabil, Dawn-Breakers, p. 352. For the original prophecy, see al-Ahsá'í Sharáz al-ziyára, vol. 3, pp. 84-85.
86. Nabil, Dawn-Breakers, p. 354. For the original prophecy, see al-Ahsá'í, Sharh al-ziyára, vol. 3, p. 48.
87. Nabil, Dawn-Breakers, p. 344.
88. Zavára'i, Waqáyi', p. 1 and passim.
89. Nabil, Dawn-Breakers, pp. 324-25. References in the tradition literature to various banners are numerous and confused, but the most significant in this context is undoubtedly to the banner presented by the Prophet Muhammad to the Qá'im (see al-Mish'i Sharh al-ziyára, vol. 3, pp. 81, 82, 83). On the appearance of black banners from Khurasan (which is, of course, related to the Abbasid revolt of the eighth century), see ibid., p. 113.
90. The Báb, letter to Mullá Shaykh `All Turshizi, in the Báb and Yazdi, Qismati az alwá!i, p. 13. Cf. letter (also to Turshizi?), ibid., p. 17; the Báb, Haykal al-din (n.p. [TehranJ, n.d. [with al-BayLin al-'arabi]), pp. 1-2. On the return of all former prophets and saints in the raj'a, see al-Ahsá'í, Sharái al-ziyára, vol. 3, p. 69. On various meanings of raj'a, see Kásháni, Nuqtatu'l-káf, p. 170. The identification of the first and second to swear allegiance to the Qá'im as
Muhammad and `All, followed by the other Imáms, is based on prophetic traditions to this effect (see, for example, text quoted al-Ahsá'í, "`Isma wa raj'a," in Jawámi', vol. 1, part 1, p. 66).
91. Turshizi, letter printed in Mázandarání, Zuhar al-haqq, vol. 3, p. 166. Cf. generally letter from Qurratu'l-Ayn to Turshizi, printed in Hamadáni, New History, p. 436 (with facsimile, p. 435; this section of the letter is not translated by Browne). The "tomb" analogy is used later by Mullá Rajab 'Alí Qahir when he refers to Turshizi as the tomb of Mullá Ijusayn Bushr(i'i (marqad-i awwal man ámana — Risála, f. 25a) and to Subh-i Azal as the tomb of Mullá Muhammad `Ali BarfurCishi, Qudd(is, (marqad-i harf-i ákhir — ibid., f. 44a).
92. Zavára'i, Waqdyi', p. 47.
93. Ibid., p. 55.
94. On the nuqabá', nujabá', etc., see below.
95. See Dahaji, Risála, pp. 32, 151 — 52. Cf. Mírzá Yahyá Núri, Subh-i Azal, Kitáb-i mustayqi; (n.p. [Tehranl, nd.) p. 17.
96. Sayyid `All Muhammad Shirázi, the Báb, Ziyára for Mulla Muhammad 'Alí Bárfurúishi, in Muhammad `All Malik Khusravi, Tdrikh-i shuhadá'-i amr, 3 vols. (Tehran, 1974) vol. 2, p. 412.
97. The Báb, Panj sha'n, p. 104.
98. Husayn `Ali Núrí, Bahá'u'lláh, "Lawh-i Sirij," in Ishráq-Khávan (ed.), Má'ida, vol. 7, p. 86.
100. Abbás Effendi, `Abdu'l-Bahá', Makátib-i Abdu'l-Bahá', vol. 2 (Cairo, 1330/1912), p. 254; cf. P. 252. No copy of the tafsir on the á.dd of al-Samad is, to my knowledge, extant. According to Nabil, the original, along with other writings, was entrusted to a certain Mullá Muhammad Hamza [Shari'atmadár Bárfurúshi, an `alim resident in Bárfurúsh (Dawn-Breakers, p. 409). Shari'atmadár (who was sympathetic to the Bábis and who lived until 1281/1864-65) wrote a work entitled Asrár al-shaháda in 1272/1856, in which he mentions having seen a tafsir by Qudd(is on the Sújrat al-tawhid, consisting of five thousand or six thousand verses (see Mázandarání, Zuhúr al-Haqq, vol. 3, p. 438). This does not, of course, necessarily imply that this work remained in Shari'atmadár's possession, but it may prove a useful starting-point for the task of locating it. In 1977, I saw briefly what seemed to me to be an autograph copy of the Asrár al-shaháda which had recently come into the possession of the Iranian National
Bahá'í Archives in Tehran, but I have no way of knowing whether or not other materials belonging to Shari'atmadár also came into their possession at the same time.
101. Zavára'i, Waqáyi', p. 48.
102. Nabil, Dawn-Breakers, p. 412.
103. The Báb, ziyára for Bárfur6shi, in Malik Khusravi Tárikh-i shuhadá', vol. 2, p. 413.
104. Idem, Panj sha'n, p. 280.
105. Abbás Effendi, Makátib, vol. 2, pp. 254-55. Unfortunately, the writer presents no documentary or testimonial evidence for this statement, although we may assume he had an eye-witness account from his father, Mírzá Husayn 'Alí, Bahá'u'lláh. What is interesting — and theologically controversial — is that Abbás Effendi goes on to refer to claims to divinity made in his father's Qasida `izz warqá `iyya without distinguishing these in any way from those made by Qurratu'l-Ayn, Quddiis, or other Bábís at Badasht. On the use of the phrase "Verily, I am God" (innani and `iláh) by the mirrors of the divine Will, see the Báb, Panj sha'n, pp. 133-34.
106. (Hádhá Kitáb mm `inda `lláh `l-muhaymini `l-qayyúm ilá `lláhi `l-muhaymini `l-qayyúm), in a letter to Subh-i Azal, in the Báb and Yazdi, Qismati az alwáh, p. 1 (facsimile of original on previous unnumbered page); also printed in [Sayyid `All Muhammad Shirázi, the Báb and Mírzá Yahyá NCiri, Subh-i Azall Majmzá'a'i az áthár-i Nuqtay-i Ulá wa Subáz-i Azal (n.p. ITehranl, n.d.) p. 38, and Hamadáni, New History, p. 427 (hand of Subh-i Azal).
107. (Hádhá Kitáb min alláh ilá man yuzhiruhu `Iláh), Panj sha'n, pp. 2, 24, 33, 57, 104, 207. Cf. Dahaji, Risála, p. 113 ("the Point of the Bayán [i.e., the Báb] revealed the words "from God to God" in numerous tablets").
108. The Báb and Subh-i Azal, Majmzá'a'i az áthár, p. 37. On the application of the term dhátu'll'åh to both the Báb and his "mirrors," see [Mullá Muhammad Ja'far Naraqil, Tadhkirat al-gháfilln (Cambridge University Library, E. G. Browne Or. MSS, F.63), p. 32. (On the authorship of this work, see introduction to `Izziyya Khánum, Tanbih al-ná'imin [n.p. (Tehran), n.d.I p. 3.) For the Báb as dhátu'lláh, see the Báb, Haykal al-din, 1:18, p. 5.
109. Qazvini is known by a number of names: "Rahim" (numerically equivalent to "Ibráhím"), "Khalíl" (the epithet of the prophet
Abraham), and the codename "Mírzá Ahmad." The divine name al-qadim and its derivatives (especially al-aqdam) are used in the section of the Panj sha'n written for him. (See ibid., pp. 327ff.)
110. Yazdi, letter in the Báb and Yazdi, Qismati az alwáh, p. 38.
111. H. M. Balyuzi, Edward Granville Bowne and the Bahá'í Faith (London: George Ronald, 1970) p. 73.
112. Al-Ahsá'í, "Isma wa raj'a," in Jawámi', vol. 1, part 1, p. 59. For further details on the Sufi grades of awliyd, see J. S. Trimingham, The Sufi Orders in Islam (Oxford, 1971) pp. 163-65; A. A. Nicholson, "Badal," The Encyclopedia of Islam, 1st ed.
113. Al-Ahsá'í, "`Isma wa raj'a," Jawámi', vol. 1, part 1, p. 59. This tradition is also quoted by al-Ahsá'í in a similar context in Sharh alziyára, vol. 3, p. 215. The Báb discusses these seven stages of marifa in his Sahlfay-i `adliyya (n.p. [Tehran], n.d.; pp. 18-33), where the arkán are identified as the four úlú `l-'azm before Muhammad (i.e., Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus) and as four prophets who acted as pillars of God's grace after Muhammad (Jesus, Khidr, Elias, and Idris).
114. On this central concept, see al-Ahsá'í Sharh al-ziyára, vol. 1, pp. 20-27, 121; vol. 2, pp. 353, 363-64 (where he places nubuwwa before ma'áni and af'ál after imáma); vol. 3, pp. 29-30, 38, 144, 149; vol. 4, pp. 171, 250, 269. For a much more detailed exposition, see Hájí Mullá Muhammad Karim Khán Kirmáni, Irshád al-'awámm, 4th ed., 4 vols. in 2 (Kerman, 1380/1960) vol. 3, pp. 96-262.
115. Al-Ahsá'í Sharh al-ziyára, vol. 3, p. 215.
116. Ibid., p. 216.
117. Ibid., p. 243. The knowledge of God vouchsafed to the Imáms themselves differs from one to the next, although all possess sufficient knowledge to perform the function of hujja, which requires fulfilling men's needs in respect to knowing God. (See ibid., vol. 2, pp. 311-12)
118. See, for example, ibid., vol. 2, pp. 64, 201, 203, 364; vol. 3, p. 11.
119. Assuming this to be a reasonably early tradition, fuqahá' here must be taken in its original wider sense of "scholars" (equivalent to `ulamá'), rather than "jurisprudents."
120. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 265.
121. Qurratu'l-'Ayn, Risála in Gulpáygáni and Gulpáygáni, Kashf al-ghitd', appendix, pp. 5-6.
122. Qurratu'l-'Ayn here quotes a version of a well-known tradition to the effect that in every age there is an arbiter (`adál) who rejects from the faith the corruptions of the errant and thus preserves it from error. For other references, see MacEoin, "From Shaykhism to Babism," p. 14.
123. Qurratu'l-'Ayn, Risála in Gulpáygáni and Gulpáygáni, Kashf al-ghitá', appendix, pp. 3-8.
124. Ibid., pp. 11-14.
125. Ibid., p. 15. This reference indicates that the Risála must predate the Báb's claim to qá'imiyya.
126. For fuller details, see MacEoin, "From Shaykhism to Babism," pp. 168-71.
127. Qurratu'l-'Ayn, Risála (MS in private hands, Tehran; copy in possession of author) pp. 8-9.
128. Ibid., p. 12.
129. Ibid., pp. 13-14. On the Báb as the "fourth support," cf. p. 30.
130. Ibid., pp. 18, 19. On the Báb as one of the nuqabá', cf. p. 30. The Báb himself refers to al-Ahsá'í as a "pure Shi'a" (shi'ay-i khális) in his Sahífay-i `adliyya. (p. 33)
131. Qurratu'l-'Ayn, Risála (in private hands) pp. 30-31. For details of this tradition, see al-Ahsá'í Sharhi al-ziyára, vol. 3, pp. 361-62; vol. 4, pp. 195, 200-201; idem, Sharh al-Arshiyya, vol. 1, p. 21.
132. Qurratu'l-Ayn, Risála (in private hands) p. 34.
133. The later Bahá'í writer Mullá Muhammad Zarandi, Nabil, appears to identify the Letters of the Living as nuqabá' under the looser title "Men of the Unseen" (presumably rijál al-ghayb ) — see Dawn-Breakers, p. 70.
134. The Báb, Sahífay-i `adliyya, pp. 20-33, especially pp. 29-31.
135. Idem, quoted Qurratu'l-'Ayn (1), Risála, in Mázandaránl, Zuhúr al-Haqq, vol. 3, p. 250. (This Risála is also reproduced in Nivishtiját, pp. 310-332; this reference p. 317.)
136. Quoted al-Karbalá'í, Risála, in Mázandarání, Zuhúr al-haqq, vol. 3, p. 248.
137. Quoted ibid.
138. See note 31. See further Rajab 'Alíi Qahir, Risála, f. 30b-31a.
This theory may owe something to the frequent use of the mirror analogy by Ibn al-'Arabi. See Ibn al-'Arabí, Bezels, pp. 50-51, 233; cf. Austin's comments, ibid., p. 48.
139. See note 117.
140. The Báb, Panj shan, p. 102.
141. Ibid., pp. 162-63.
142. Ibid., p. 133. On God's singling out a mirror from all creation, see ibid., pp. 120, 132, 141, 149. On the significance of the butún, see below.
143. Ibid., p. 133.
144. Ibid., p. 134.
145. The term náfiq, together with its corollary al-sámit, ("the silent one"), is, of course, well known in Ismailism, although it finds a certain usage in Imámi Shiism as well. Al-Ahsá'i speaks of the appearance of a náfiq and sámit in each age (Sharh al-ziyára, vol. 3, p. 151).
146. The Báb, Panj sha'n, p. 134.
147. Ibid., p. 135. On the dependence and indirectness of the secondary and subsequent mirrors, see ibid., p. 217 and idem, Bayán-i fársí, 6:7, p. 208.
148. Idem, Panj shan, pp. 149-50.
149. Ibid., pp. 199-201. It is unclear from the context whether the first mirror here refers to the Báb himself or to another individual, possibly Subh-i Azal. There are certainly references elsewhere to the latter's possession of fitra.
150. On the use of al-wáhid at-awwal, see the Báb, al-Bayán al-arabi, 1:1, p. 3; idem, Haykal al-din, 1:12, p. 3.
151. Nabil, Dawn-Breakers, p. 123. Cf. A. L. M. Nicolas (trans.), Le Báyan Persan, 4 vols. (Paris, 1911-1914), vol. 1, pp. 7-9, f.n., 13, f.n. On the relationship of this system to the Bábí calendar, see the Báb, Bayán-i fársí, 5:3, p. 153. There are parallels to the kullu shay' total in various Sufi theories, including Rúzbihán Baqlí Shirázi's concept of 366 saints linked to the hearts of various prophets. (See H. Corbin, L'homme de lumiere dans le Soufisme Iranien [Paris, 1971], p. 83.
152. Rajab `All Qahir, Risála, f.43b.
153. The Báb, al-Bayán al-'arabi, 8:16, p. 38.
154. `Abdu'l-Hamid Ishráq-Khávarí, Rahíq-i makhtúm, 2 vols. (Tehran, 1974-75), vol. 1, p. 338.
155. The Báb, Panj sha'n, p. 280. The sentence following this seems to me extremely significant, but it is, I fear, very difficult to interpret owing to the vagueness of verbs and pronouns in it. A tentative translation would continue the passage as follows: "for after I stripped off that garment [i.e., Bábiyya I and revealed myself in the name of messiah-hood (al-maqsúdiyya) and the status of the promised one (al-maw'údiyya), it was necessary that one of its temples (mm hayákilihá [reading há as a pronoun, although it is written as if separate — "one of the temples of `hd"'7I) should put it (al-Bábiyya?] on." Mullá Rajab `Ali Qahir omits the há (or há') in his quotation of this passage. (Risála, f. 76b)
156. The Báb, Panj sha'n, pp. 184-85.
157. Ibid, pp. 256-57. Also quoted Rajab `Ali Qahir, Risála, f. 76b.
158. The Báb, Salát-i Hayákil, quoted ibid, f. 58a; also quoted `Izziyya KMnum, Tanbih al-nd'imin, p. 50. The number 66 equals the word alláh. There may be eschatological significance in the period of sixty-six years. Shi'i tradition refers to the "year 66" in an eschatological context. (See al-Ahsá'í, "`Isma wa raj'a," Jawám', vol. 1, part 1, p. 84.)
159. On which see my paper, "Nineteenth-century Bábí talismans."
160. The Báb, Panj sha'n, p. 408. The passage is obscure. Sixty-six years for each letter comes to only 1254, which does not seem to be a significant year.
161. Ibid., p. 412. Cf. idem, al-Bayán al-'arabi, 5:10, p. 11, where the hayákil al-hayy (i.e., Letters of the Living) are described as mirrors before the "sun of the point" (shams al-nuqfa).
162. The Báb, Haykal al-din, 7:1, p. 27.
163. Ibid., 5:6, p. 6; idem, al-Bayán al-'arabi, 5:6, p. 19.
164. Ibid., 8:16, p. 38; idem, Bayán-i fársí, 8:16, p. 300.
165. Idem, al-Bayán al-'arabi, 11:2, p. 54.
166. Idem, Panj sha'n, p. 209. On the buija as single with other bujal in its shadow, see ibid., p. 136.
167. He also mentions qunnád (7), the meaning of which is unclear.
168. The Báb, Panj sha'n, p. 199. Cf. ibid., p. 247.
169. Ibid., p. 381.
170. Ibid., p. 258. Cf. ibid., p. 176.
171. Reading the nún of the verb as emphatic, in order to provide a singular for the imminent pronoun hu.
172. Passage from untitled word of the Báb, quoted Rajab `Alí, Risála, f. 60a.
173. Letter to Mírzá Ibráhim Qazviní, in the Báb and Núrí, Majmúá'a'i az áthár, p.38. On the use of "al-wahid" as a title of Subh-i Azal, see Browne, "The Babis of Persia. II," Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 21 (1889) pp. 996-97.
174. The Báb, passage from Kitáb al-asmá' (7), quoted Rajab `Ali Qahir, Risála, f. 20b.
175. See, for example, the Báb, Bayán-i fársí, 4:5, pp. 119-20; 5:5, pp. 157, 158; 7:16, p. 262; idem, al-Bayán al-'arabi, 9:3, p. 41; 11:2, p. 54; 11:13, p.58; 11:16, p.60; idem, Haykal al-din, 1:16, p.4; 5:19, p. 9; 3:11, p. 11; 4:9, p. 15; 7:9, p. 29; 7:16, p. 31.
176. See, for example, the Báb, al-Bayán al-'arabi, lO:16, p. 50; 10:17, p. 51; 11:2, p. 54; idem, Haykal al-din, 3:11, p. 11; t:16, p. 31.
177. See, for example, ibid., 5:5, p. 6; 5:19, p. 9; 4:9, p. 15.
178. Ibid., 7:1, p. 27.
179. Idem, al-Bayán al-'arabi, 9:14, p. 43.
180. Idem, Haykal al-din, 1:16, p. 4.
181. This topic has been discussed previously by several writers, including E. G. Browne (Nuqtat al-káf, pp. XXV-XXVI) Ishráq-Khávari (Rabiq, vol. 2, pp. 514-25) and Mázandarání (Asrár, vol. 4, pp. 427-28).
182. The Báb, Bayán-i fársí, 2:16, pp. 61-62. See also ibid., 2:17, p. 71; 3:15, p. 100; 7:10, p. 252.
183. Ibid., 3:15, p. 100; 7:10, p. 252.
184. There is evidence that Bahá'u'lláh himself may have originally held this view. In the Lawh kull al-ta'ám he writes "0 Kamál, were I to explain this verse to you from today until the days reach al-mustagháth, the day when men shall stand before the face of the Living, the Creator, I would be able to do so through what God has given me of his grace and bounty." (In Ishráq Khávarí, Má'ida, vol.4, pp. 272-73.) The implication seems to be that the time-span involved is one of great duration.
185. The Báb, Panj sha'n, pp. 162, 198, 208, 315.
186. "In every Zuhúr God renews the creation of all things." (Ibid., p. 352)
187. Ibid., p. 176; cf. p. 194. Cf. idem, Kitáb al-asmá', quoted by Rajab `Alí Qahir, Risála, f. 58b.
188. The Báb, Pani sha'n, p. 315.
189. Idem, Bayán-i fársí, 2:7, p. 31.
190. Thus, he states that all things culminate in the form of man and that man progresses from level to level until he reaches perfection as a prophet (Bayán-i fársí, 2:1, pp. 14-15); men are singled out from the rest of creation and purified by the prophets (Panj sha'n, p. 205); the Báb himself has been raised through increasingly exalted stations (ibid., pp. 184-85); clay will progress to stages of increasing refinement through the alchemical process (ibid., p. 337); the inhabitants of hell in a subsequent revelation possess a station higher than those of paradise in the one before (ibid., p. 426 — but cf. p. 403); divine knowledge is revealed progressively (ibid., p. 100); the words of the manifestation in each revelation are more exalted than in the previous one (Bayán-i fársí, 3:1, p. 79); each revelation is the same as the one before, but nobler (ibid., 3:1, pp. 79-80; cf. 4:11, p. 136); the successive manifestations resemble a child at various states of its growth (ibid., 3:12, p. 95); the paradise of each thing lies in its perfection (ibid., 5:3, p. 155); each thing has its degree of perfection in which a divine name may be applied to it (ibid., 5:6, p. 164); as the ages progress, the time will come when nothing is named save by a divine name (ibid., 5:4, p. 155); if it be in anyone's power to do a thing to perfection, he must not leave any shortcomings in it (ibid., 6:3, p. 192.
191. Al-Ahsá'i, "Al-Risála al-Rashtiyya," in Jawámi', vol. 1, part 2, p. 103. Al-Ahsá'i states elsewhere that time (zamán) may be subtle (lafif), dense (ghali;), simple (basil), or compound (murakkab). (See Sharh al-ziydrá7vol. 3, p. 305.)
192. Idem, "`Isma wa raj'a," in Jawámí', vol. 1, part 1, p. 82. This idea is in itself linked to Ibn Siná's theory that the measurement of time depends upon motion, time being the quantity or measure of motion. (See Sayyed Hossein Nasr, An Introduction to Islamic Cosmological Doctrines, [Cambridge, Mass., 1864], pp. 224-25.)
193. Al-Ahsá'i, "`Isma wa raj'a," in Jawámi', vol. 1, part 1, p. 62.
194. The Báb, Panj sha'n, p. 248.
195. Ibid., p. 319. The Báb consistently dates the Islamic era, not from the hijra in 622, but to the prophet's ba'tha, ten years previously.
196. Ibid., p. 215.
197. Ibid., p. 311.
198. Ibid., p. 199.
199. Ibid., p. 315. Cf. idem, Bayán-i fársí, 7:10, p. 252.
200. See my paper "Nineteenth-century Bábí talismans." For example of prophetic interpretation of some passages in this part of the Panj sha'n, see Mírzá Husayn `Ali Núrí, Bahá'u'lláh, letter to Muballigh-i Shirázi, Iran National Bahá'í Archives, MS 3003C (incorrectly catalogued as a work of the Báb).
201. Al-Ahsá'í, Sharh al-ziyára, vol. 3, pp. 63, 87, 115, 120.
202. See ibid., vol. 3, pp. 54-121; idem., "`Isma wa raj'a," in Jawámr', vol. 1, part 1, pp. 38-111; Muhammad Báqir Majlisi, Bábár al-anwár, 102 vols. (Tehran, 1384/1964), vol. 53; Sachedina, Islamic
Messianism, chapter 5.
203. Al-Ahsá'í, Sharh al-ziyára, vol. 3, p. 57.
204. Ibid., pp. 57-58. Other figures are also given, including 203, 309, 19, and 70.
205. Ibid., pp. 58, 60.
206. Ibid., p. 60.
207. The Báb, letter to Mullá Shaykh `Ali Turshizi, `Azím, in the Báb and Yazdi, Qismati az alwáh, p. 13.
208. See, for example, al-Ahsá'í Sharh al-ziyára, vol. 3, p. 60.
209. The Báb, Dalá'il, p. 58.
212. Ibid. This is explained metaphorically in terms of light as a lamp burning itself in order to give illumination to others (just as Husayn sacrificed himself), pp. 58-59. It also appears to be numerologically true, since "Husayn" (128) when doubled equals rnár (256). It is conceivable that the doubling in this case is an allusion to Husayn's return. For the text of the Du'á al-sabar together with a commentary, see Háji Muhammad Karim Khán Kirmáni, Sharh du'á al-sabar (Kerman, n.d.). Kirmáni identifies the núr outwardly with the Fourth Support (rukn al-rábi') and inwardly with the Qá'im. (See ibid., pp. 61, 62)
213. See the Báb, Panj sha'n, pp. 294, 321.
214. Idem, Dalá'il, p. 59. Although the text differs slightly, this is almost certainly the letter quoted in part by Rashti himself in his Dalil
al-mutahayyirin (np. [Tabrizl], 1276/1859-60), p. 37. The phrase quoted, with a slight variation, is from the Qur'án (38:88).
215. Quoted in the Báb, Dalá'il p. 46.
216. See Shoghi Effendi, in Nabil, Dawn-Breakers, p. 18, f.n. 1.
217. The Báb, Panj shan, pp. 255-56. A garbled version of this passage is given by Mírzá Husayn Ali Nári, Bahá'u'lláh in his Lawh-i Shaykh (Cairo, 1338/1920) pp. 104-05 (trans. by Shoghi Effendi, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf [Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1941], p. 142); cf. ibid., pp. 113-14 (trans. Epistle, p. 152).
218. The Báb, Panj sha'n, p. 256.
219. Ibid., p. 280. The term qabla bin occurs frequently in the phrase "in every time and before a time and after a time' (fi kulli bin wa wabla bin wa ba'da bin), much used in Bábí writing. See, for example, passages in Mázandarání, Zuhúr al-haqq, vol. 3, pp. 70, 167 (last line), 168 (last two lines); Kásháni, Nuqtatu'l-káf, pp. 429-30; the Báb, Dalá'il, p. 72; idem, letter in the Báb and Yazdí, Qismati az alwáh, p. 9, 35.
220. Idem, Panj shan, p. 256.
221. Ibid., p.280.
222. Bahá'u'lláh, Law b-i Shaykh, pp. 113-14 (trans. Epistle, p. 152).
223. The Báb, al-Bayán al-'arabi, 6:15, p. 27.
224. Reading the opening verb as an imperative, by analogy with the corresponding passage in the Bayán-i farsi, 6:15, p. 230.
225. The Báb, Haykal al-din, 6:15, p. 25.
226. Letter quoted in Mázandarání, Zuhúr al-haqq, vol. 3, p. 223. Bahá'í doctrine, however, explicitly identifies al-qayyúm as a prophetic title of Bahá'u'lláh. (See Ishráq-Khávarí, Rabiq, vol. 2, pp. 316-17; Mázandaráni, Asrár, vol. 4, pp. 259-31; Mírzá Husayn `Ali Nári, Bahá'u'lláh, letter to Shaykh Kázim Qazvini Samandar, in Alwáh-i hadrat-i Bahá'u'lláh . . . shámil-i Iqtidárát . . . (n.p., n.d.), p. 61; idem, letter in Ishráq-Khávarí, Má'ida, vol. 4, pp. 173-74.) The term appears to be used for Subh-i Azal in the Nuqtatu'l-káf, p. 253.