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TAGS: Arc of ascent and descent; Creation; Seven stages of creation; Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsai; Shaykhism
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Collection of quotations from the Bab, Bahá'u'lláh, and Shaykh Ahmad, with footnotes, on the seven stages of Divine action: Will, Determination, Destiny, Decree, Permission, Term, and Book.
Originally posted at [archive]; updated version posted here with permission.

Selections from the Bahá'í Writings and from Shaykh Ahmad on the Seven Stages of Creation

compiled by Keven Brown

1. Excerpt from Gate of the Heart by Nader Saeidi (2008), from Google Books:

One of the most notable features of the writings of the Bab is their emphasis on the seven stages of divine Action through which all creation comes into being. As we have seen, the phenomenal world is the mirror of its supreme Origin, but more specifically it is a reflection of divine attributes and of the divine creative Action which unfolds through a sequence of stages comprising Will (Mashiyyat), Determination (Irádih), Destiny (Qadar), Decree (Qada), Permission (Idhn), Term (Ajal), and Book (Kitab). Elaboration of these seven stages of creation thus is a major component of the Bab's metaphysics. In various writings, the Bab describes the details of the stages of creation in order to emphasize the spiritual orientation which is the goal of His Revelation. Indeed, this purpose forms the primary context of His discussion of these stages, and the all-encompassing perspective of unity differentiates His writing from other philosophical and theological discussions on the topic.

Reference to the seven stages of creation can be found in the Traditions attributed to the Imams. The Bab sometimes refers to these Traditions, as in this passage: "Thus, the descent of the divine Command furnisheth seven stages. Hence the Imam said, 'Nothing can exist, whether on earth or in heaven, except through the seven stages of creation: Will, Determination, Destiny, Decree, Permission, Term, and Book. Whoso denieth the necessity of even one of these stages hath repudiated God's truth."' The first author who dealt with these stages extensively was Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsa'i, whose work, Sharhu'l-Fava'id, provides a systematic discussion of them. The Bab confirms many of the categories Shaykh Ahmad uses in his discussions of the stages, but the Bab addresses the issue within the unique context of His perspective of unity. However, the Bab reinterprets these stages in completely novel ways: the seven stages also represent the stages of the perpetual renewal of divine revelation in new Dispensations. Thus, as we will see, the concept of the stages of divine Action becomes historical as well as metaphysical.

All the seven stages of divine creative Action are diverse manifestations of the Word of God. The various aspects of all beings are reflections of the divine Action, and, in this way, all the different modes of the reality of phenomena refer ultimately to their common Ground, the revelation of God, and the Primal Will. It is not hard to see why reference to the seven stages of creation occurs so frequently in the Bab's sermons. Most of His tablets begin with an introductory sermon that affirms the spiritual nature of reality, reminding people of the unseen realm, connecting the visible phenomena to transcendental spiritual realities, and demonstrating that all beings are manifestations of Divine Unity.... (Read more at Google Books.)

2. Compilation, by Keven Brown (circa 2008):

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