The Verse of Light, the Sadratu'l-Muntahá (Divine Lote Tree), and the Unfoldment of God's Plan
1. The Verse of LightIn the Holy Qur'án is found a verse at Súrih 24:35 which contains within it an abundance of meaning and significance. Islamic scholars have written many commentaries over the centuries attempting to interpret its meaning. Until the advent of the Bahá'í Revelation, apparently its significance has remained shrouded in mystery. It is interesting to study the various interpretations of this verse, and since the writer is not a learned scholar nor privy to the original Arabic, several translations of the Qur'án in English have been relied upon in order to ferret out the various implications and interpretations of this enigmatic and cryptic passage revealed by the Prophet Muhammad.
My first encounter with this verse was Shoghi Effendi's interpretation in his message addressed to the Bahá'ís attending the 1953 Inter-Continental Conference held in Chicago, Illinois, wherein he illustrates the Verse of Light as an historical record of God's Revelation from the time of Adam to the present day: the unfoldment of God's eternal plan. Many references to this verse are to be found in the Bahá'í Writings, a small compilation of which is here included.
The expressions used in this verse such as light, tree, lamp, oil are invoked profusely by the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh in their Tablets and Writings as similes and metaphors so as to enlighten our hearts and minds with the inner meanings of the Revelations of God, of our purpose in this life, and to facilitate our entrance into the Kingdom. Bahá'u'lláh's references to the Lote-Tree, the Sadratu'l-Muntahá, the Blessed Tree, the Lamp, the Oil are found throughout His Writings.
The following are some renditions of the Verse of Light by various translators of the Qur'án into English, together with some commentaries by them, as well as by other Islamic scholars.
The first is by J. M. Rodwell:
God is the Light of the Heavens and of the Earth. His Light is like a niche in which is a lamp - the lamp encased in glass - the glass, as it were, a glistening star. From a blessed tree it is lighted, the olive neither of the East nor of the West, whose oil would well nigh shine out, even though fire touched it not! It is light upon light. God guideth whom He will to His light, and God setteth forth parables to men, for God knoweth all things.Another translation is by George Sale:
God is the light of heaven and earth: the similitude of his light is as a niche in a wall, wherein a lamp is placed, and the lamp enclosed in a case of glass; the glass appears as it were a shining star. It is lighted with the oil of a blessed tree, an olive neither of the east, nor of the west; it wanted little but that the oil thereof would give light, although no fire touched it. This is light added unto light: God will direct unto his light whom he pleaseth. God propoundeth parables unto men; for God knoweth all things.George Sale's footnotes to this verse state with respect to the "blessed tree": "Some think the meaning to be that the tree grows neither in the eastern nor western parts, but in the midst of the world, namely, in Syria, where the best olives grow."
Sale also comments regarding Muhammad's reference to the light: "Or a light whose brightness is doubly increased by the circumstances above mentioned. The commentaries explain this allegory, and every particular of it, with great subtlety; interpreting the light here described to be the light revealed in the Koran, or God's enlightening grace in the heart of man; and in divers other manners."
A third translation was rendered by Arthur J. Arberry:
God is the Light of the heavens and the earth;A. Yúsuf 'Alí of Lahore, India, translated the Qur'án into English together with an extensive commentary. Here is his rendition of this celebrated verse:
God is the Light (n.2996) of the heavens and the earth,(n.2997)A. Yúsuf 'Alí's abundant interpretive notes, some of which I include herewith, set forth many of the ideas offered by Islamic scholars throughout the ages, and which may assist in illuminating the implications of the metaphors and similes of this verse which are found throughout the Bahá'í Writings.
Fn. 2996: "Embedded within certain directions concerning a refined domestic and social life, comes this glorious parable of Light, which contains layer upon layer of allegorical truth about spiritual mysteries. No notes can do justice to its full meaning. Volumes have been writing on the subject, the most notable being Imám Ghazáli's Mishkát-ul-Anwár. In these notes I propose to explain the simplest meaning of this passage, reserving a brief account of Ghazáli's exposition for Appendix VII." (printed at the end of the Súra at pp. 920-924).A. Yúsuf 'Alí includes at the completion of his translation of this Surih an extensive commentary about and by the erudite Imám Ghazáli, an Arab (Persian born) philosopher, 450-505 A.H. (1058-1111 A.D.). Abú Hámid Muhammad al-Ghazáli was born at Tús, Persia, studied under the greatest theologian of that time, and at the age of thirty-three was appointed by Nizám al-Mulk, the powerful vizier of the Turkish sultan who ruled the 'Abbasid caliphate of Baghdad, to be a professor at the university founded in that capital. Four years later, after meeting a crisis, he abandoned his worldly life to take up the life of a wandering ascetic, but later returned to the task of teaching. Al-Ghazáli has been acclaimed in both East and West, was a leader in Islam's encounter with Greek philosophy and brought orthodoxy and mysticism into closer contact.
Al-Ghazáli's treatise Mishkát-ul-Anwár deals with the verse of Light, the contrasted verse of Darkness (xxiv:40) and the sayings of the holy Prophet quoted by him from the Hadíth: "God has seventy thousand veils of light and darkness: were He to withdraw their curtain, then would the splendours of His Countenance (Wajh) surely consume everyone who apprehended Him with his sight."
Al-Ghazáli's treatise will not be discussed here at length, but a few points made by him will be mentioned.
He states that "the verses of the Qur'án, in relation to intelligence, have the value of sunlight in relation to eyesight. The Qur'án is therefore spoken of as the Light. 'For We have sent unto you a light (that is) manifest.' (iv:174) There is a world invisible, with a Light of its own, quite different from the world visible, with its own physical light. The former, the spiritual world, is far above the physical world: not in space, for there is no question of space, but in grade. Yet the World of Sense is a type of the World of the Realm Celestial. All the Prophets are Lamps, and so are the Learned: but the difference between them is incalculable. If the Prophet of God is a Lamp Illuminant, that from the Lamp is itself lit may fitly be symbolised by Fire. It is the Spirits Celestial, the angels, considered as the kindling-source of the Lamps Terrestrial, that can be compared alone with Fire. (xxviii:29-30). These Lamps Celestial have their own grades and orders, and the highest is the one nearest to the Ultimate Light." "That Ultimate Light is the final Fountain-head, Who is Light in and by Himself, not a light kindled from other lights... Thus God Most High is the only Reality, as He is the only Light."
Al-Ghazáli then describes the five faculties of spirit of the human soul, i.e. the sensory spirit which takes in the information brought by the senses; the imaginative spirit which records the information and presents it to the intelligential spirit, when required; the intelligential spirit which apprehends ideas beyond the spheres of sense and imagination; the discursive (or ratiocinative) spirit which takes the data of pure reason, combines them, and deduces from them abstract knowledge; and the transcendental prophetic spirit which is possessed by prophets and some saints; by it the unseen tables and statutes of the Law are revealed from the other world, from Realms Celestial.
He relates that the five faculties or spirits are symbolised by the niche, glass, lamp, tree and oil in the light verse. The niche is the sensory spirit; the glass the imagination which is made out of opaque substances, but is clarified and refined until it becomes transparent to the light of lamp. The lamp is the intelligential spirit giving cognizance of divine ideas. The tree is the ratiocinative spirit, which leads to conclusions, being the symbol of the olive which gives oil producing radiant illumination, and which can be multiplied infinitely. Al-Ghazáli concludes that a tree like the olive, whose oil can multiply light infinitely, is entitled to be called "blessed" above other trees like fruit trees, whose fruit is consumed in use.
Another Muslim saint, Jalál al-Dín Rúmí, a mystic and poet of 1207-1273 A.D., alludes to the Light Verse in one of his odes entitled "The Hierarchy of Saints":
In every epoch after Mohammad a Saint arises to act as his viceregent: the people are on trial till the Resurrection.In the twelfth century, about four hundred years after the advent of Muhammad, a distinct mystic school of Sufism arose, basing its doctrine on the mystical theory of light. Phillip K. Hitti discusses this outgrowth in Sufism and states that the illumination doctrine found ready acceptance among varied ranks of Muslim society and that its adoption and exposition by Muslim philosophers such as ibn-Sin (Avicenna) gave it prestige. These philosophers not only preserved the concept of light as a symbol of emanation from the divine, but also added a metaphysical element, making light the fundamental reality of things. This movement gradually developed into a distinct school of Sufism. The founder of this school was a Persian, al-Suhrawardi, who lived in Baghdad and Allepo. While he did not add much to the metaphysical theory of light, he made it popular. In his treatise Hikmat al-Ishraq (The Wisdom of Illumination) he emphasized that all that live, move or have being are but light, and even made use of light to prove the existence of God. His exposition proved to be too much for the 'ulamá (priests) and under their pressure, Salah-al-Dín's (Saladin's) viceroy in Allepo had him executed in 1191, when he was thirty-eight years old.
2. The Sadratu'l-MuntaháWe find in the Bahá'í Writings numerous references to the Sadratu'l-Muntahá, "The Divine Lote Tree", symbolizing the Manifestation of God, and is specifically referred to in the "Light Verse" of the Qur'án as the "blessed tree, an olive neither of the East nor of the West."
It is also defined as
By the star when it setteth,The following is George Sale's rendition of this same verse:
By the star, when it setteth; your companion Mohammed erreth not,Rodwell interprets the boundary as: "...beyond which neither men nor angels can pass...the Lote-Tree of the extremity, or of the loftiest spot in Paradise, in the seventh Heaven, on the right hand of the throne of God."
He also states that the Sidrah is known as a prickly plum called "ber" in India; a decoction of its leaves being used to wash the dead because of the sacredness of the tree. It may be that this plant is related to the prickly cactus fruit "sabra" which grows profusely in the Middle East.
With respect to the above verse, Rodwell, citing the commentators, says that "this tree...stands in the seventh heaven, on the right hand of the throne of God; and is the utmost bounds beyond which the angels themselves must not pass; or, as some rather imagine, beyond which no creature's knowledge can extend."
Shoghi Effendi, in describing the many titles of Bahá'u'lláh, refers to Him, among others, as the "Tree beyond which there is no passing":
In the name He bore (Husayn-'Alí) He combined those of the Imám Husayn, the most illustrious of the successors of the Apostle of God - the brightest "star" shining in the "crown" mentioned in the Revelation of St. John - and of the Imám 'Alí, the Commander of the Faithful, the second of the two "witnesses" extolled in that same Book. He was formally designated Bahá'u'lláh, an appellation specifically recorded in the Persian Bayán, signifying at once the glory, the light and the splendor of God, and was styled the "Lord of Lords," the "Most Great Name," the "Ancient Beauty," the "Pen of the Most High," the "Hidden Name," the "Preserved Treasure," "He Whom God will make manifest," the "Most Great Light," the "All-Highest Horizon," the "Most Great Ocean," the "Supreme Heaven," the "Pre-Existent Root," the "Self-Subsistent," the "Day-Star of the Universe," the "Great Announcement," the "Speaker on Sinai," the "Sifter of Men," the "Wronged One of the World," the "Desire of the Nations," the "Lord of the Covenant," the "Tree beyond which there is no passing."The symbolism of the "tree" is prevalent in all of the cultures of the world. Trees provide countless blessings, such as resplendent and fragrant flowers, luscious fruits, comforting shade and shelter, arrayed with branches and boughs nestling melodious singing birds. However, there are trees whose wood is only fit for the fire. But what are we to say of the "Blessed Tree" that overshadows all of mankind? The fable of the Tree of Good and Evil or the Tree of Knowledge and Wisdom planted in the Garden of Eden, is one of mankind's oldest legends, found not only in the Judaic-Christian Bible and in the Qur'án, but also in far-off tales from Mesopotamia and Sumer as well as in traditions from the South Pacific, and even from China. For an interesting exposition and study of these legends, you may wish to peruse The Quest for Eden written by Elena Maria Marsella (Philosophical Library, New York, 1966).
In Lee Nelson's A Concordance to the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh (Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1988), there are thirteen references to "Sadratu'l-Muntahá," more than seventy to the "Blessed Tree" or the "Tree beyond which there is no passing," thirty-eight mentions of "Lote-tree" and some thirty-seven of the "Burning Bush." There are also numerous references by the Báb and 'Abdu'l-Bahá in their Writings. Some of the many references in the Bahá'í Writings on the Sadratu'l-Muntahá follow.
3. Compilation on the Lote Tree
From the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh:
4. The Unfoldment of God's PlanIn his July 4, 1950 message, written to the American Bahá'í community, Shoghi Effendi, Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith, paid homage to the Centenary of the Martyrdom of the Báb, Forerunner and Precursor of the Faith, which occurred in Tabríz, Persia, after His six-year Dispensation, and which was to be commemorated in a few short days on July 9, 1950. Shoghi Effendi poignantly describes the events surrounding the Revelation of the Báb, using terminology from the "Light Verse" of the Qur'án, and specifically noting the creative energies released at the Hour of the Birth of His Revelation, by "endowing mankind with the potentialities of the attainment of maturity," which are "deranging, during the present transitional age, the equilibrium of the entire planet as the inevitable prelude to the consummation in world unity of the coming of age of the human race." The Guardian, describing in eloquent terms the results of the Martyrdom of the Báb, went on to say:
"...the Holy Seed of infinite preciousness, holding within itself incalculable potentialities representing the culmination of the centuries-old process of the evolution of humanity through the energies released by the series of progressive Revelations starting with Adam and concluded by the Revelation of the Seal of the Prophets, marked by the successive appearance of the branches, leaves, buds, blossoms and plucked, after six years by the hand of destiny, ground in the mill of martyrdom and oppression but yielding the oil whose first flickering light cast upon the somber, subterranean walls of the Siyáh-Chál of Tihrán, whose fire gathered brilliance in Baghdád and shone in full resplendency in its crystal globe in Adrianople, whose rays warmed and illuminated the fringes of the American, European, Australian continents through the tender ministerings of the Center of the Covenant, whose radiance is now overspreading the surface of the globe during the present Formative Age, whose full splendor is destined in the course of future millenniums to suffuse the entire planet."Shoghi Effendi again alludes to the "Light Verse" in his significant message to the nascent Bahá'í community gathered at the International Bahá'í Conference held in Chicago, Illinois, in May 1953, in which he inaugurated the Ten Year Crusade destined to spiritualize the planet and to pave the way for the fulfillment of God's Plan for this age; the unification of the human race.
Shoghi Effendi begins his message with the following words:
"On the occasion of the launching of an epochal, global, spiritual, decade-long crusade, constituting the high-water mark of the festivities commemorating the centenary of the birth of the Mission of Bahá'u'lláh, coinciding with the ninetieth anniversary of the declaration of that same Mission in the Garden of Ridván...on such a solemn and historic occasion I invite His followers, the world over, to contemplate with me the glorious and manifold evidences of this onward march of His Faith and of the steady unfolding of its embryonic World Order, both in the Holy Land and in the five continents of the globe."He then goes on to relate that
"...this infinitely precious Faith, despite eleven decades of uninterrupted persecution...involving the martyrdom of its Prophet-Herald, the four banishments and forty-year-long exile suffered by its Founder, the forty years of incarceration inflicted upon its Exemplar, and the sacrifice of no less than twenty thousand of its followers, had succeeded in firmly establishing itself in all continents of the globe...bidding fair to envelop, at the close of the coming decade, the whole planet with the radiance of its splendor."During the lifetime of its Martyr-Prophet, the Báb, the Faith had extended to two countries (Iran and Iraq); during the period of the ministry of its Author (Bahá'u'lláh) to thirteen other lands; during the course of the ministry of the Center of the Covenant ('Abdu'l-Bahá) to twenty additional sovereign states and dependencies in both hemispheres, and since the Ascension of 'Abdu'l-Bahá (1921 to 1953) it had attained to ninety-four additional countries, raising the total in 1953 to one hundred twenty-nine. Representatives from thirty-one races and twenty-four African tribes had enrolled in the Bahá'í world community, and eleven National Spiritual Assemblies had raised some two thousand five hundred centers throughout the planet. In addition, areas of land had been purchased for the eventual erection of Bahá'í Houses of Worship, recognition had been accorded by several governments for Bahá'í Holy Days, as well as their official acknowledgment of the Bahá'í marriage certificate. Additionally, the United Nations had extended to the Bahá'í Faith its recognition as an international non-governmental organization.
The major thrust of the Ten Year Crusade was the simultaneous prosecution of twelve national plans aimed at broadening the foundations of the Faith in each of the areas serving as operational bases for the prosecution of the plan, i.e. the opening of one hundred and thirty-one territories to the Faith, the consolidation of one hundred and eighteen territories, the translation and printing of literature in ninety-one languages, the construction of two Bahá'í Houses of Worship, the acquisition of sites for the future construction of eleven Temples, the formation of forty-eight national spiritual assemblies, the funding of forty-seven Hazíratu'l-Quds (national Bahá'í centers), and many other tasks too numerous to set forth here. The culmination of this World Crusade was to be the convocation of a World Bahá'í Congress commemorating the centenary of the formal assumption by Bahá'u'lláh of His prophetic office.
In his message, Shoghi Effendi emphasizes that the primary aim of that Spiritual Crusade is none other than the conquest of the citadels of men's hearts; its theater of operation the entire planet; its duration an entire decade. The Guardian characterizes this momentous undertaking in the following terms:
"Its driving force is the energizing influence generated by the Revelation heralded by the Báb and proclaimed by Bahá'u'lláh.Shoghi Effendi then goes on to delineate the process of the unfoldment of God's Eternal Plan, which commenced at the dawn of the Adamic cycle.
"...Then, and only then, will the vast, the majestic process, set in motion at the dawn of the Adamic cycle, attain its consummation - a process which commenced six thousand years ago, with the planting, in the soil of the divine will, of the tree of divine revelation, which has already passed through certain stages and must needs pass through still others ere it attains its final consummation.Since 1953 and the launching of the Ten Year Crusade, the light of Bahá'u'lláh's teachings unquestionably has illuminated and permeated the earth. April 1963 witnessed the first election of the Universal House of Justice in Haifa, Israel, with the attendance of delegates representing some fifty-six national and regional Bahá'í communities, where but ten short years earlier there had been but twelve national/regional assemblies. This historical election of the supreme institution was followed by an extraordinary centenary celebration, not in Baghdád as had been anticipated by Shoghi Effendi, but in London, England, which was attended by some 6,000 Bahá'ís representing over one hundred countries, islands and territories and from practically every race and culture throughout the world, including aborigines from Australia, Maoris from New Zealand, and members of several tribes from African nations.
With the successful completion of the Ten Year Crusade and subsequent international plans, specifically the Nine Year Plan which was inaugurated in 1964, the Five Year Plan covering the period 1974-1979, the Seven Year Plan (1979-1986), and the current Six Year Plan designed to culminate in 1992, designated as a Holy Year, with a second Centenary conference to be held in New York City, the City of the Covenant, as designated by 'Abdu'l-Bahá, in observance of one hundred years since the Ascension of the Blessed Beauty, Bahá'u'lláh, the number of Bahá'í communities throughout the world has increased more than twelve-fold, and is now established in some 217 countries, territories and islands, encompassing approximately 112,000 localities where the followers of Bahá'u'lláh reside throughout the five continents. There are, at this writing in 1991, some 2,112 tribes and minority groups represented in its membership, with Bahá'í literature translated into some 802 languages and dialects. Current statistics are not accurate and continue to change, particularly with the recent opening of the Eastern Bloc, the dissemination of the Teachings and the formation of Bahá'í communities throughout that vast region, as well as an ongoing increase in interest and acceptance of the Teachings in all communities throughout the planet.
During a period of some ten years, ending in or about 1989, the Bahá'í Faith underwent another period of persecution in the land of its birth (Iran), with imprisonments and executions of a large number of Bahá'ís, including women and children. However, the world-wide dissemination of these acts resulted in a greater awareness of the Faith, its purposes and ideals, and caused its coming out of obscurity.
In 1986, the Universal House of Justice, from its Seat in the Holy Land, directed a letter addressed to the peoples of the world, entitled "The Promise of World Peace." This moving document has been presented to many of the world's leaders, including the Secretary-General of the United Nations, to countless individuals, and has been translated into numerous languages. The world-wide appreciation of the principles of world unity, world peace, the oneness of mankind, its call for the reduction of armaments, and many other teachings promulgated by Bahá'u'lláh over a century ago, are no longer considered by the majority of mankind as idealistic, utopian concepts.
As this is being written (in early 1991) the threat of bloodshed and havoc is again raising its ugly specter in the very land where Bahá'u'lláh declared His Mission in April 1863. The world-wide recognition of this dangerous situation is resulting in an interesting development, which, for the first time, perhaps due to the dissemination of the Peace Statement, the principles of collective security enunciated by Bahá'u'lláh over one hundred years ago are being seriously attempted.
In one of His Tablets, written over one hundred years ago, Bahá'u'lláh counsels mankind that:
"The Great Being, wishing to reveal the prerequisites of the peace and tranquility of the world and the advances of its peoples, hath written: "The time must come when the imperative necessity for the holding of a vast, an all-embracing assemblage of men will be universally realized. The rulers and kings of the earth must needs attend it, and participating in its deliberations, must consider such ways and means as will lay the foundations of the world's Great Peace amongst men.. Such a peace demandeth that the Great Powers should resolve, for the sake of the tranquility of the peoples of the earth, to be fully reconciled among themselves. Should any king take up arms against another, all should unitedly arise and prevent him. If this be done, the nations of the world will no longer require any armaments, except for the purpose of preserving the security of their realms and of maintaining order within their territories. This will ensure the peace and composure of every people, government and nation..."
It would be unwieldy in this short essay to attempt to set forth the history and tremendous accomplishments of this new world Faith during its one hundred and forty-seven years. There are many books specifically devoted to this subject. But suffice it to say there are some important points to be made.
Along with the growth of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh throughout the world has been the development of its World Centre located in the twin cities of Haifa and 'Akká, Israel, with its magnificent Seat of the Universal House of Justice nestled on the slopes of Mount Carmel overlooking the Bay of Haifa (the spot where Jesus Christ Himself promised He would pitch His tent), the golden domed Shrine of the Báb, the site of His blessed remains, and the view from this vantage point across the bay to the Mansion of Bahjí and the Tomb of Bahá'u'lláh surrounded by sublime gardens in its twin city of 'Akká.
Israel, the Holy Land, became the World Centre of this fledgling Faith through the circumstances surrounding the imprisonment and exile of Bahá'u'lláh in 1853, first to Baghdád, then in 1863 to Constantinople and Adrianople in Turkey, and finally in 1868 to the prison city of 'Akká, Palestine, known then as the bastille of the Ottoman Empire, the then-rulers of a vast territory, including Syria and what is now 'Iráq, Jordan, Lebanon and Israel. This event fulfilled, in ways mysterious to the minds of men, the well-known prophecies from the Bible that the law would come down from Zion and that the Promised One would pitch His tent on Mount Carmel. Bahá'u'lláh had been a prisoner and exile of the Persian and Ottoman Empires from 1853 until His passing in 1892. For a period of forty years, the Blessed Beauty, the Voice in the Burning Bush, the Divine Lote-Tree, the Tree that is neither of the East nor of the West, the Manifestation of God for this day, revealed Tablets, Laws and Teachings to enable the human race to fulfill its destiny and attain its maturity, and to be united in one world, under the guidance and direction of the King of the World, the Creator Himself.
The Prisoner of 'Akká was brought to that despicable prison to die as a result of the hatred of His enemies and detractors, the then rulers and clergy of the realms of Persian and the Ottoman Empires. But the Hand of God stayed their schemes and by their acts they unknowingly fulfilled the prophecies handed down throughout the ages by the former Prophets of God, and revealed the reality of the awaited Messiah, long-awaited by the remnants of the followers of Moses, the Return of Christ, the appearance of the Qayyúm, the Fifth Buddha and the Shah Braham promised by Zoroaster. All these titles are evident in Bahá'u'lláh, the Glory of God, He Who would come from the East by way of the Gate, He Who would fulfill the promises of Isaiah as the Counsellor, the Prince of Peace.
The entire world is beginning to become aware that it is on the brink of a New World Order, albeit without knowledge of the origin of this perception, and the long-awaited, long-desired Universal Peace, which is being ushered in by the Voice from the Burning Bush, the "Tree that is neither of the East nor of the West." The promises of the past are being fulfilled and "the sovereign remedy and mightiest instrument for the healing of the world is the union of all its peoples in one universal Cause, one common Faith" is becoming the universal anthem for this Day.
"That which God hath ordained as the sovereign remedy and mightiest instrument for the healing of the world is the union of all its peoples in one universal Cause, one common Faith. This can in no wise be achieved except through the power of a skilled, an all-powerful, and inspired Physician. By My life! This is the truth, and all else naught but error."To close this essay, I share with you the following prayer revealed by 'Abdu'l-Bahá:
"O God my God! Praise be unto Thee for kindling the fire of divine love in the Holy Tree on the summit of the loftiest mount: that Tree which is "neither of the East nor of the West," that fire which blazed out till the flame of it soared upward to the Concourse on high, and from it those realities caught the light of guidance, and cried out: "Verily have we perceived a fire on the slope of Mount Sinai.
 George Sale, The Koran, pp. 348-349, London (the first translation dated November 1734).
 Arthur J. Arberry, The Koran Interpreted, p. 51 (George Allen & Unwin Ltd. 1955).
 These numbers refer to Mr. A. Yúsuf 'Alí's footnotes.
 A. Yúsuf 'Alí, The Holy Qur'án, pp. 907-908, American Trust Publications for the Muslim Students' Association of the United States and Canada, 2d.Ed. 1977 (originally published Lahore, India, 1934).
 ibid, p. 907
 ibid, p. 908
 The hadíth concerning seven hundred (or seven thousand) veils of light and darkness which conceal the Face of Alláh is expounded by Ghazáli in his Mishkát-al-Anwár (see Gairdner's translation, 88-89). The light-veils correspond to various degrees of saintship. (A. Nicholson, Rúmí, Poet and Mystic, at 78).
 Translated by W. H. T. Gairdner, Royal Asiatic Society, London 1924.
 Chapter and verse references are to the Qur'án.
 From the Masnavi II, 815: one of six volumes of about 25,000 rhyming couplets.
 Translated by Reynold A. Nicholson, Rúmí: Poet and Mystic, George Allen & Unwin Ltd. 1964.
 Phillip K. Hitti, Islam: A Way of Life, pp. 58-59, University of Minnesota Press 1970)
 Momen, A Basic Bahá'í Dictionary
 An edible drupaceous fruit of any of several trees of the buckthorn family. A drupe is an overripe olive.
 Qur'án, 53:10-18, from Rodwell, The Koran, pp. 69-70
 George Sale, The Koran, pp. 507-508
 ibid., p. 508
 God Passes By, p. 94
 Excerpt from the "Tablet of Ahmad", found in several editions of Bahá'í Prayers.
 Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 156
 From "Kalimat-i-Firdawsíyyih (Words of Paradise), Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 78
 Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 53-54
 ibid, fn.1, p. 137. In a Tablet Bahá'u'lláh states: "The Holy Tree (Sadrat) is, in a sense, the Manifestation of the One True God, exalted be He. The Blessed Tree in the Land of Za'farán referreth to the land which is flourishing, blessed, holy and all-perfumed, where that Tree hath been planted."
 ibid, p. 246
 The Kitáb-i-Íqán, p. 54
 Gleanings From the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 271
 Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 248
 Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, pp. 140-141
 ibid, p. 40 (from a Tablet sent to Nasiri'd-Dín Sháh, ruler of Persian 1848-1896 A.D.)
 ibid, p. 152
 Excerpts from the Qayyú'l-Asmá, Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 52
 ibid, p. 56
 ibid, p. 112
 ibid., pp. 154-155
 Some Answered Questions, p. 141 (Bahá'í Publishing Trust, Wilmette, 1954)
 Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 57
 Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 127, citing 'Abdu'l-Bahá.
 Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 67
 Citadel of Faith, pp. 80.83
 Messages to the Bahá'í World, May 1953, pp. 146-147
 ibid. p. 147
 ibid, p. 153
 ibid, pp. 153-155
 Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 249
 Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, pp. 62-63
 Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 78
 Bahá'í Prayers, pp. 200-201, Bahá'í Publishing Trust, Wilmette, 1982