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Notes:

Four Valleys (Chahar Vádí):
Wilmette Institute faculty notes

by Iraj Ayman and Muin Afnani

1999
Notes by Iraj Ayman:

"Shaykh Abdu'r-Rahman-i-Karkuki the "honored and indisputable leader" of Qadiriyyih Order (God Passes By, p.122). Karkuk is a town in Kurdistan. He never joined the Bábí/Bahá'í community to become known as a believer but was known to his followers as having high respect for and was an admirer of Bahá'u'lláh. Leading members of that Order up to now are aware of this background.

No details of the correspondence between Bahá'u'lláh and Sufi leaders are available. The opening part of Four Valleys indicates that it was not written in answer to a letter. It is apparently written in reference to Shaykh Abdu'r-Rahman's travel to Sanandaj (One of the main centers of that Order) for practicing special spiritual meditation and exercises (mystic wayfaring).

The Seeker's Path is apparently translation of the original name of Seven Valleys, i. e. "Risalih-i-Solouk". By the way there are two other documents with the same name — Resalih-i-Solouk — one was revealed by the Báb before his Declaration and the other is written by Siyyid Kazim Rashti. This epistle is addressed to Shaykh Muhyi'd-Din, the judge of the town of Khániqayn who was also one of the leaders of Qadiriyyih Order.

"A kindred soul" is used by the translator for the Persian word "Ahlash". This word literally translated means 'someone who is an insider, has the necessary preparation and background". In other words Bahá'u'lláh make it conditional that the four stages of the heart could be mentioned to such a person. There is no indication that the "kindred soul" mentioned in page 41 of Seven Valleys is "Shaykh 'Abdu'r-Rahman. There is no indication in the Bahá'í scripture to assume that Four Valleys could be taken the same as the four stages of the heart mentioned in the Seven Valleys. As a matter of fact we have not yet seen any description or explanation of the four stages of the heart in the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh.

According to the studies of one of the Persian Bahá'í scholars there are some epistles by Muslim scholars of the past in Arabic and Persian on this subject. In one of them four stages or stations for the heart are given and in another one seven states or stations are given for the heart. These interpretations belong to the writings of Muslim scholars in Fourteenth Century. Probably Bahá'u'lláh is referring to such sources and was intending to give a new interpretation on that subject."

      Iraj Ayman




Notes by Muin Afnáni:

As for the 4 words mentioned in the Four Valleys, these are terms that Sufis have used in their writings sometimes with specific meanings and intentions and more often as poetic terms. The Ancient Beauty, Bahá'u'lláh has used them in both senses: to convey specific meaning, and as beautiful literary terms.

Maqsúd ("the Intended One") in this passage is used in connection with the holy Kaba (in Mecca) and serves as an adjective for it, i.e., it means "the intended Kaba", however, from the context it is clear that this is not a physical place but rather one of the stations on the path toward God. For this reason in the English translation the word Kaba is omitted. More precisely, this is the goal which theologians and proponents of religious Laws are after, i.e., they seek to get near to God through strict observance of religious Laws. In this connection it may be interesting to remember that the founders of major schools of Law within Islam (Hanafi, Maliki, etc.) often formulated their doctrines by saying "We believe in such and such law WITHOUT ASKING HOW," meaning that we observe the Law even if we do not understand the meaning or logic behind it. For them obedience to Laws brings one closer to God, viz., Maqsúd (the Intended One).

Mahmud ("the Praiseworthy One") is one of the titles of God, as well as Muhammad. This word is used in connection with the chamber or dwelling of nearness to God which is made possible through the faculty of reason or intellect. This is in reference to Islamic philosophers who sought to get close to God through the use of logic & reason; they formulated their doctrines on this basis. For example, one of their doctrines is that God cannot be unjust because logic dictates that God should reward the pious God fearing people with just rewards. One of the traditions attributed to Muhammad says: "The first thing God created was reason." This traditions has been quoted often by Islamic philosophers in defense of their approach.

Majdhub ("Attracting One") is used in reference to Sufis for whom the path toward God is to be traversed with the faculty of heart (rather than reason or Laws). The word "Majdhub" also means "one who is attracted." In Sufi terminology, Majdhub is a Sufi who is in such a love with his Beloved (God) that is attracted and drawn to God without most of the pains and hardships that other seekers have to go through. Such a person gets attracted to the Attracting One without having to spend long periods of times in stages of the path; they go through them in less than twinkling of an eye.

Mahbub simply means "the Beloved"; for seekers it is a reference to God. In this context it is used to describe Bahá'í concept of search after truth which is the combination of the three approaches of obedience to Laws, using reason and logic (which is inspired by divine teachings), and inspiration that comes through heart. It is the station of true consciousness and Irfan.

As I mentioned before, these words not only have specific meanings but also serve a poetic literary function. One of the distinguishing features of Sufi literature is the distinct poetic beauty of the language. The Blessed Beauty has used these terms to convey specific meanings, as well as to raise the level of poetic beauty of Sufi literature that existed in nineteenth century Iran and Persian speaking regions.
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