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TAGS: Bayan-i-Farsi (Persian Bayan; Dispensation of Bahaullah (letter); World order (general)
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Abstract:
On the word nazm, "order," and how Baha'u'llah and then Shoghi Effendi extended used this as a foundation to build the concept of a Baha'i World Order, a sacred socio-political entity. Includes translation of Bayan 3:16.
Notes:
Article written in 2006, published in 2012 BSR under the new title "Sacred Text, Social Hierarchy, World Polity: The Journey of a Single Sentence That Shaped a World Religion" (see ingentaconnect.com).

Fixing the Gaze:
Reflections on "The Order of Bahá'u'lláh" in the Báb's Persian Bayan

by Ismael Velasco

published in Bahá'í Studies Review, 18:1
2006/2012
Abstract: Among the central tropes of Baha’i socio-political theology is a single sentence from the Persian Bayan which, alluded to in Baha’u’llah’s Kitab-i Aqdas became, in Shoghi Effendi’s interpretation, the ‘myth of origin’, in the sense of a starting point in sacred narrative, for the Baha’i Administrative Order structuring the Baha’i community, and for the Baha’i World Order envisaged as its culmination, ultimate purpose and eventual fruit. The passage in question states, in Shoghi Effendi’s translation, ‘well is it with him who fixeth his gaze on the Order of Baha’u’llah’. Shoghi Effendi’s interpretation of that passage as alluding to a sacred socio-political entity which is the hallmark of the Baha’i revelation and is anticipated as the embodiment and structure of the millennial promise of the unification of humankind, represents a radical interpretive leap, given that the passage in the Persian Bayan in its most intuitive reading refers, not to an institutional idea, but to the compilation and arrangement of sacred Babi texts. At the heart of this seemingly incompatible usage lies the single word nazm, which may be translated as both order and arrangement.

The present paper will explore the interpretive trajectory of the word nazm, from its roots in the earliest Qur’anic hermeneutics dating from the 2nd Islamic century, to its complex articulation in the Bab’s writings, including various instances in the Persian Bayan and in the Kitabu’l-Asma’. It will contextualize these occurrences in the Bab’s subtle and esoteric (batini) cosmogony of the universe as Text, including the simultaneity and parallelism of levels of interpretation, within which the apparently innocuous passage of the Bab is revealed to be charged with cosmological, communal and messianic dimensions, which it will be argued form the implicit substratum or at least demonstrate a substantive correlation to the counter-intuitive, although not exclusive interpretation of that passage by Shoghi Effendi as denoting likewise a communal, global and, in its deepest level, a messianic cosmic order. (from ingentaconnect.com)

1934: The Night of the Long Knives; Mao's Long March; Stalin's Great Terror; Franco's suppression of the Asturian Uprising; the anti-Jewish riots in France surrounding the Staviski Affair; Mussolini's first meeting with Hitler. Shadows heralding the impending triple darkness of World War II. Amidst the overcast skies of that oppressive year, Shoghi Effendi's treatise, The Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh, "burst upon the Bahá'ís", in the words of Ruhiyyih Khanum, "like a blinding white light."[1]

In this boldest of expository works, amidst the collapsing fracas of crumbling systems and institutions, Shoghi Effendi unveiled before the Bahá'í community perspectives on Bahá'í scripture and Bahá'í identity that had heretofore been inconceivable.

"I remember when I first read it", recalls Ruhiyyih Khanum, "I had the most extraordinary feeling as if the whole universe had suddenly expanded around me and I was looking out into its dazzling star-filled immensity; all the frontiers of our understanding flew outwards; the glory of this Cause and the true station of its Central Figures were revealed to us and we were never the same again..."[2]

A clear example of this expansion of meaning, the sudden vistas disclosed by Shoghi Effendi in this remarkable work, is his unprecedented interpretation of two pregnant passages from the Mother Books of the Bahá'í and Babí Dispensations respectively. The first concerns paragraph 181 of Bahá'u'lláh's Kitáb-i Aqdas. The second refers to the sixteenth section of the third chapter of the Persian Bayán of the Báb.

"To what else", writes Shoghi Effendi, "if not to the power and majesty which this Administrative Order — the rudiments of the future all-enfolding Bahá'í Commonwealth — is destined to manifest, can these utterances of Bahá'u'lláh allude: "The world's equilibrium hath been upset through the vibrating influence of this most great, this new World Order. Mankind's ordered life hath been revolutionized through the agency of this unique, this wondrous System — the like of which mortal eyes have never witnessed."

"The Báb Himself", Shoghi Effendi continues, "in the course of His references to "Him Whom God will make manifest" anticipates the System and glorifies the World Order which the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh is destined to unfold. "Well is it with him," is His remarkable statement in the third chapter of the Persian Bayan, "who fixeth his gaze upon the Order of Bahá'u'lláh and rendereth thanks unto his Lord! For He will assuredly be made manifest. God hath indeed irrevocably ordained it in the Bayan."[3]

Thus does the Guardian link in these passages the Báb's prophecy regarding the Order of Bahá'u'lláh, or al-nazm Bahá'u'lláh in the original Arabic, to paragraph 181 of the Kitab-i Aqdas. This nazm, or order, Shoghi Effendi in turn relates to the Bahá'í Administrative Order and ultimately to the Bahá'í Commonwealth that he anticipates as the fruit of Bahá'u'lláh's revelation.

Ten years later, as the night and chill of the Second World War began at last to dissipate, we find the same exegesis repeated in the Guardian's only book, God Passes By, in yet clearer detail:

"It should be noted," he declares, "that in the third Vahid of this Book [the Persian Bayan] there occurs a passage which, alike in its explicit reference to the name of the Promised One, and in its anticipation of the Order which, in a later age, was to be identified with His Revelation, deserves to rank as one of the most significant statements recorded in any of the Báb's writings. "Well is it with him," is His prophetic announcement, "who fixeth his gaze upon the Order of Bahá'u'lláh, and rendereth thanks unto his Lord. For He will assuredly be made manifest. God hath indeed irrevocably ordained it in the Bayan." It is with that self-same Order that the Founder of the promised Revelation, twenty years later — incorporating that same term in His Kitab-i-Aqdas — identified the System envisaged in that Book, affirming that "this most great Order" had deranged the world's equilibrium, and revolutionized mankind's ordered life. It is the features of that self-same Order which, at a later stage in the evolution of the Faith, the Center of Bahá'u'lláh's Covenant and the appointed Interpreter of His teachings, delineated through the provisions of His Will and Testament. It is the structural basis of that self-same Order which, in the Formative Age of that same Faith, the stewards of that same Covenant, the elected representatives of the world-wide Bahá'í community, are now laboriously and unitedly establishing. It is the superstructure of that self-same Order, attaining its full stature through the emergence of the Bahá'í World Commonwealth — the Kingdom of God on earth — which the Golden Age of that same Dispensation must, in the fullness of time, ultimately witness."[4]

Thus the "Order" of Bahá'u'lláh mentioned by the Báb and proclaimed by Bahá'u'lláh is said by Shoghi Effendi to refer to the administrative order outlined in the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, to the structure of the contemporary Bahá'í community, to the anticipated Bahá'í World Commonwealth and, in the last analysis, to the Kingdom of God on earth which has been the promise and goal of all previous Revelations. The originality and suddenness of Shoghi Effendi's interpretation of the word "order" (nazm) in these passages has been attested to by Hand of the Cause Hasan Balyuzi who related that until Shoghi Effendi linked the passages of the Bayan-i Farsi and the Kitab-i Aqdas to the Bahá'í Administrative Order and the Bahá'í World Commonwealth, the references to Order (nazm) in both texts were understood by Bahá'ís to refer to no more than Bahá'u'lláh's literary style.[5]

The same is recounted by founding member of the Universal House of Justice Mr. Ali Nakhjavani in a luminous article on the Order of Bahá'u'lláh published in the Persian periodical Payam-i Bahá'í. Mr. Nakhjavani explains that formerly in Iran, in study classes dedicated to the Kitab-i Aqdas, the word nazm, which the Guardian variously translates as "World Order", "world's equilibrium", and implicitly "System", was understood to refer to the shiva (elegance, skill, perfection) of Bahá'u'lláh's verses, that is, to the pre-eminent beauty of His style. The word tartib, another word for order or arrangement, which the Guardian translates in the Aqdas as "mankind's ordered life", was understood to refer to the organising structure of Bahá'u'lláh's Kitab-i Aqdas. The prevalent interpretation was that while the Báb's Persian Bayan was clearly divided into sections and chapters, constituting the tartib or structure of the Bayan, Bahá'u'lláh's Most Holy Book was not thus arranged. The absence of such strict division in the Aqdas made its arrangement altogether novel and unique (badi') and was hence understood to have revolutionised the preceding (literary) structure (tartib) established by the Báb. At the same time the beauty of His style (nazm) had eclipsed the literary skill of ages past.[6]

The hermeneutical distance between this exclusively literary interpretation of the verses of Bayan 3:16 and Kitab-i Aqdas 181on the one hand, and Shoghi Effendi's metaphysical and socio-political translation of the same terms on the other, could not be greater. The leap of vision that it demanded from Bahá'ís was as dramatic as it was characteristic of the general broadening of perspective that the Guardian imparted to the Bahá'í community in the course of his ministry.

The hermeneutical context of the word nazm.

To understand the transition from a primarily literary to a primarily spiritual and socio-political interpretation of the concept of order (nazm) in the writings of the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh, it is helpful to explore the semantic context within which subsequent Bahá'í interpretations emerged. From a purely grammatical perspective, it made sense for early Bahá'í scholars to approach the meaning of nazm in Bayan 3:16 and Kitab-i Aqdas 181 from a literary and stylistic perspective, since in contemporary literate usage, the word nazm had, and retains, primarily literary connotations. Hence Francis Joseph Steingass (1825-1903), in his classic Comprehensive Persian-English Dictionary, the standard reference work for 19th century Persian usage, defines the word nazm as follows:

"(v.n.) Joining (pearls) in a row; composing (verses); order, arrangement; a string (of pearls); poetry, verse (opp. to nathr "prose composition")."

The literary connotations are thus very clear, particularly in its associations with versified composition, while entirely absent are the spiritual and socio-political connotations perceived by Shoghi Effendi.

Such literary connotations remain present to this day in Islamic theological discussions of the Qur'an. For instance, in a well known compendium of Islamic belief based on the Persian letters of the Nakhshbandi Sufi master Shaykh Ahmad Shirindi (d. 1624 CE), and compiled by the late Turkish scholar and publisher Huseyn Hilmi I??k (d. 2002 CE), we read the following:

"Qur'an al-karim is nazm-i ilahi (the divine verse). The lexical meaning of nazm is to string pearls. It has been called nazm also because words are arranged side by side like pearls. Each poem is a nazm. The Qur'an's words are in Arabic. However, Allahu ta'ala [God, exalted be Him] arranged these words side by side. These words were not arranged by any human being."[7]

Thus the word nazm is used to denote the divinely inspired arrangement of Arabic words into the holy verses of the Qur'an. This interpretation has its roots in contemplations that crystallised into doctrine in the course of the 2nd to 3rd Islamic centuries (9th to 10th centuries CE), when a philosophical ferment took place that generated the rich heritage of Islamic thinking on the nazm of the Qur'an.

While the word nazm does not appear in the Qur'an, yet from the time of the great 'Abbasid scholar al-Jahiz (776-869 CE), doctrinal exploration of nazm was carried forward by al-Sijistaní (d. 928 CE), al-Bakhí (d. 933 CE) and Ibn al-Ikhshid (d. 937 CE). In the same period al-Rummaní and his contemporary al-Khattabí (d. 998 CE) contributed meditations on the psychological effect of the nazm of the Qur'‚n in their al-Nukat fí I'jaz al-Qur'‚n and Bayan I'jaz al-Qur'‚n respectively. The development of this doctrine culminated the following century in the work of Abd al-Qahir al-Jurjan í (d. 1078 CE) in his seminal Dal‚'il al-I'jaz, and in the writings of al-Zamakhsharí (d. 1144) and Fakhr ad-Din al-Razí (d. 1209) CE).[8]

The perspective underlying these explorations is explained by Al-Jahiz specialist Dr. Jamal el'Attar, in a paper presented to the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES) in 1992:

"According to al-Jahiz," writes Dr el-'Attar, "Arabic had been miraculously enriched, initiated and divinely nurtured until it reached its pre-Qur'anic destined stage of maturity whereby Arabic and the Arabs were both to experience and witness an unusual charming Arabic, the Qur'an, that had an unprecedented arrangement (Nazm), a new literary configuration that assembled their very own alphabets and words yet which lies beyond their literary level of superiority, and stays unsurpassable."[9]

In al-Jahiz's own words:

"The Qur'an differs from all the known rhymes of poetry and prose. It is a prose whose rhythm is not modelled on that of poetry or rhymed prose and whose configuration [nazm] stands as a magnificent evidence and as a great Divine proof."[10]

Al-Jahiz thus sees the miraculousness of the Qur'an's nazm in its distinctive poetic prose -an interpretation which already prefigures the traditional Bahá'í interpretation of the nazm verses of the Kitab-i Aqdas as related by Ali Nakhjavani and Hasan Balyuzi. Al-Jahiz' interpretation, as noted earlier, was taken up by subsequent Islamic thinkers, becoming integral to the theological doctrine of i'jaz, or the inimitability and miraculousness of the Qur'an - a doctrine which was in the fullness of time to be incorporated and refined in the writings of the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh.[11]

In recent years, partly in response to Orientalist analyses of the Qur'an which stressed its lack of structural coherence, Muslim thought on the Qur'anic nazm has shifted from a concentration on the linguistic style of the Qur'an, to the overall arrangement and sequential ordering of the Qur'anic verses. While the earliest commentators tended, like Western scholars, to see the Qur'an in terms of a more or less arbitrary collection of isolated verses and series of verses, not necessarily related in a sequential manner, a current of thought most closely associated with the Pakistani school of Hamíd al-dín Far‚hí (d.1930) and his disciple Mawl‚n‚ Amín Ahsan Isl‚hí has emerged which sees, on the contrary, a subtle but significant set of principles organising in a coherent way the structure of the Qur'an. This structural coherence is referred to by such scholars as the nazm of the Qur'an.[12] This line of reasoning is not wholly dissimilar to the early Bahá'í approach to the tartib or structure of the Aqdas in relation to the Báb's Bayani prophecy regarding the nazm of Bahá'u'lláh, as related by Mr. Nakhjavani.

From the above discussion, it becomes apparent that the early Baha'í approach to the nazm of Bahá'u'lláh is inspired in a significant way by the hermeneutical tradition of Islam, and in particular the rich heritage of linguistic and literary analysis associated with the doctrine of ijaz or inimitability of the Qur'an. In their discussions of nazm, Muslim commentators, paving the way for the early Baha'í commentators of a later age, focused on the elegance and originality of Qur'anic prose in relation to the Arabic tongue and the compositions of writers and poets, and also on the distinctive arrangement of Qur'anic verses.

There is evidence to suggest however, that nazm was not used in exclusively literary ways already previously to the Báb's revelation. In a telling exception to the rule of a literary usage of the word nazm, the great Iranian philosopher Mulla Sadra wrote that the essence of philosophy is nazm al-'alam (the order of the world).[13] This rare usage of nazm prefigures the philosophical subtext of the Báb's discussion of this theme, and resonates with Bahá'u'lláh's distinctive usage of the term in later years. It is not dissimilar to neoplatonic concepts of order, as expressed by Plotinus, who writes about the "the cosmic order which leads all in accordance with the right."[14]

One more element needs to be highlighted by way of context before analysing the concept of nazm in the Báb's Persian Bayan. While for Sunni Islam the concept of the nazm of the Qur'an is legitimised by the authority of notable and respected scholars, for Shi'ih Muslims the nazm of the Qur'an has been further hallowed by a sacred tradition from the eighth Imam himself, Abu'l-Hasan 'Ali ibn Musa ar-Ridha. The tradition is significant for our purposes insofar as it is found in a text that the eminent Canadian scholar of the Báb's writings, Todd Lawson, has identified as an important source of Islamic traditions in the Báb's Qayyum'u'l-'Asma.

The tradition in question, after recounting its isnad or chain of transmission going back to Ibn Babuwayh, states:

"He said one day in making a strong proof that the signs and miraculous nature of the Qur'an lie in its nazm: '[The Qur'an] is God's firm cord and sure handle, his exemplary path (tariqa) leading unto Paradise and away from the fire. It has not been created for a specific time, nor to be a difficulty for the tongues, for it was not made for one time over another but rather as a guidance and a proof for all of mankind. Falsehood is neither in it nor behind it, and it was sent down from the All-Wise, the Most Praised.'"[15]

The title of the chapter containing this tradition is as interesting as the tradition itself, and is translated by Lawson as follows:

"On the reason that the Qur'an was revealed in Arabic and that its miraculousness is in its arrangement (nazm) and its meaning is newly applicable through the course of time, and by it each succeeding generation will be refreshed until Day of Resurrection."[16 ]

What is most crucial in this tradition is not only the stress on the evidentiary character of the Qur'an's nazm, which sacralises for Shi'ih Muslims the ideas put forward by the religious scholars we have briefly reviewed above. It is also the emphasis in the title of this chapter on the contingent character of the meanings produced by this nazm, to be refreshed "until the Day of Resurrection". This perspective in Bahrani's Burhan anticipates, as we shall see, one of the most distinctive features of the Báb's approach to nazm, that is, its dispensationary nature.

The concept of nazm in the Báb's Persian Bayan

Nazm has a significant presence in the Persian Bayan, with two whole sections (abwabs) of that Book being devoted to its exposition (vahid 3, Báb 16; and vahid 6, Báb 1). The first of these two sections is the source of the Báb's announcement of the nazm of Bahá'u'lláh, which Shoghi Effendi writes, "deserves to rank as one of the most significant statements recorded in any of the Báb's writings". A reading of this remarkable statement in the context of the whole passage in which it appears, shows how very radical and unexpected Shoghi Effendi's exegesis truly is:

Bayan III, Báb 16[17]

It is not permissible to act save in accordance with the writings of the Point.

The sum of this chapter is this:

It is not permissible to act save according to the writings of the Point of the Bayan, for in this Dispensation the writings of the Letters of the Living proceed from the Sun of Truth Himself. Thus, sacred verses (ayat) pertain to the Point, supplications (munajat) pertain to the Messenger of God, commentaries (tafasir) to the Imams of guidance, and scientific treatises (suvar-i-'ilmiyyih) to the Gates. Yet all these traces arise from this Ocean, hence they all may be witnessed in the most noble form in the Primal Reality.

For in the presence of God and the estimation of them that are endowed with knowledge no grandeur compares to that of being swift in the path of faith, which is the most precious of all things, and all bounties are under its shadow. From the setting of this Sun, to the rising of Him Whom God shall make manifest, the authoritative texts will remain exalted and unchangeable, and the Letters of the Living and all the believers in God and in the Bayan shall be within their pale.

Nevertheless, should someone soar in the knowledge of one of the ordinances of God, be it a fundamental pillar (usul) or a secondary teaching (furu), and produce a text of his own behoof, he will be resurrected within His shade only if he doth not transgress the bounds of the Bayan. Otherwise, he shall not be worthy of mention in the presence of God and in the presence of them that are endowed with understanding. For rather, in this Dispensation it is the inner truth of issues that is mostly looked upon, the import of arguments and proofs being less. Rejoice in that which the Point of the Sun of Reality hath revealed, for His writings are like the light of the sun in relation to the glimmer of the stars. Is there any comparison? Exalted, immeasurably exalted is God above such conceptions.

However, they must strive in the science of letters, in the numerical linking of the divine Names, in the stringing together of words of like meaning and in the conjoining of compatible writings in the appropriate place. For it is permissible for each person to arrange the order of the Bayan (nazm-i Bayan) as appeareth sweetest.

Inasmuch as though it manifest itself after a thousand fashions, with one volume differing from another by reason of the ordering of verses or the conjunction of words, yet shall it all return to the soul of the Bayan (kulli raja' nafsi Bayan); nor shall a single word be added or excised therefrom.

It will be apparent that no order (nazm) shall be adopted save that it be sweeter (ahla) and better arranged (anzam) than the order (nazm) that preceded it. Well is it with him who fixeth his gaze on the Order of Bahá'u'lláh (tuba li man yanziru illa'l-nazm Bahá'u'lláh) and rendereth thanks unto his Lord! For He will assuredly be made manifest. God hath indeed irrevocably ordained it in the Bayan.

Verily, God raiseth whatsoever He willeth and bringeth down whatsoever He desireth.

The best arrangement (nazm) manifests itself in accordance with specific limits (hudud). Should there be, for instance, ten prayers, each of one hundred lines (bayts) it is best that they should be arranged together; nor should the five styles of revelation be mixed. The verses are set apart in their loftiness, the supplications in their celestial exaltation, the commentaries on their seat of grandeur, the scientific treatises (kalimat-i `ilmiyyih') in their horizon of sanctity, and the Persian writings in their gladsome heights. Thus the necessity for such ordering is not lost to the attentive observer.

This is of the bounty of God to the learned in the Bayan, that they may busy themselves in the Cause till God doth comfort them through the Manifestation (bi-zuhur) of that for which they beseech God in the daytime and in the night season. And should He be made manifest and none be found to recognise Him, yet shall His shaping (murratib farmayad) of the Bayan stand out as the Sun amidst the stars, at a time when He perceives everyone to be wrapped in veils.

In like manner, the Point of the Bayan hath written three commentaries of the Qu'ran: two in the style (nahj) of verses throughout, and one a commentary on the Suratu'l-Baqara in the manner (nahj) of a scientific treatise (shu'un `ilmiyya). A single word from His commentaries stands unequalled by the commentaries of every commentator, from the moment the Qu'ran began to descend till the rising of Him Who setteth forth commentaries (ta irtifaa`-e u tafsir namudeh). And whoso compareth the Sun's radiance to the glimmer of the stars, his gaze is unworthy of mention before God.

Will ye not, then, perceive?[18]

From these clear verses it becomes apparent that the purely literary interpretation of the nazm of Bahá'u'lláh is not to be ascribed to the general simplicity of Bahá'í thought before Shoghi Effendi.[19 ]Rather, such a reading was the natural interpretation to adopt on the basis of the evident (zahir) meaning of the text. The Báb makes clear that the nazm-i Bayán lies "in the science of letters, in the numerical linking of the divine Names, in the stringing together of words of like meaning and in the conjoining of compatible writings in the appropriate place." Hence in Professor Nader Saiedi's Logos and Civilization, which includes the only extended analysis thus far published of Bayan 3:16 and its link to Aqdas 181 and Shoghi Effendi's interpretation, we read that:

"The fact that in the Persian Bayan the concept of order refers to the writings of the Báb is beyond any doubt. Similarly, the fact that the reference to the "order" of Bahá'u'lláh also applies to the order of the writings of Bahá'u'lláh and His restructuring of the Bayan is completely obvious."[20]

He thus validates the early Bahá'í interpretations of nazm. He sees them however as preliminary layers of interpretation that, while not superseded by Shoghi Effendi's expositions and still valid today, are nevertheless exegetically incomplete, in need of further unveiling to grasp the metaphysical and social nuances that it contains. These nuances are not self-evident, so that, while the literary interpretation of the concept of nazm in this passage may be accessed at face value, Shoghi Effendi's exposition of it as referring to the present Bahá'í Administrative Order and the future Bahá'í Commonwealth is itself in need of further exegesis.

Professor Saiedi's approach is to see in the revealed word not only a literary, but also a cosmological dimension. To understand this perspective one must bear in mind two concepts. First, is that in the covenantal theology of Shi'ism contact with the transcendent God is mediated through a hierarchy of divine manifestations occupying four subordinate degrees of authority. The first such manifestation of the Unknowable God occupying the highest degree of authority is the metaphysical entity sometimes designated as "the primal Point" out of which have been generated all created things (a broad equivalent to the Johanine concept of the Logos or Word of God at the beginning of Fourth Gospel); followed by the Messenger of God (the Prophet Muhammad) who mediates human contact with the divine; followed by His divinely appointed and infallible heirs and successors (the twelve Imams); followed by the four successive representatives or "gates" (abwab) of the twelfth and last Imam, held to have gone into occultation in the year 260AH/ and expected to return as the Promised One of Shi'i Islam in the Day of Resurrection.

The second concept is that the Báb divided His writings into five styles or grades (shu'un) comprising verses, supplications, commentaries, scientific treatises, and Persian writings. The last of these modes (Persian writings) appears to be on occasion subsumed into the previous four modes, so that sometimes, as in the beginning of Bayan 3:16 the Báb speaks of only the first four styles, and sometimes, as occurs late in the same text, He distinguishes all five styles.

The key to Professor Saiedi's exegesis lies in the link that the Báb draws in Bayan 3:16 between the four principal modes or genres of scripture identified by the Báb (verses, supplications, commentaries, and scientific treatises) and the four corresponding levels of covenantal authority in Twelver Shi'ism (Primal Point, Messenger, Imams, Gates). Thus each scriptural style, in Bayan 3:16 , corresponds to a station or degree of divine authority:

"It is not permissible to act save according to the writings of the Point of the Bayan, for in this Dispensation the writings of the Letters of the Living proceed from the Sun of Truth Himself. Thus, sacred verses (ayat) pertain to the Point, supplications (munajat) pertain to the Messenger of God, commentaries (tafasir) to the Imams of guidance, and scientific treatises (suvar-i-'ilmiyyih) to the Gates. Yet all these traces arise from this Ocean, hence they all may be witnessed in the most noble form in the Primal Reality." (Bayan 3:16)

In other words, the literary form or nazm in which God reveals His Word is inextricably linked in the Báb's writings to the hierarchical form in which God exerts His authority in the world. Therefore Bayan 3:16, as Professor Saiedi writes, "recapitulates the basic structure of the entire revelation of the Báb" [21] not only in a literary, but, by implication, in a theological and covenantal way.

Hence any reformulation of scripture must imply, from a Bábí perspective, a reformulation of religious authority and thus a reconfiguration of the Covenant of God. In the past, the four scriptural genres identified at the beginning of Bayan 3:16 (verses, supplications, commentaries, scientific treatises) were associated with separate repositories of religious authority (the Point, the Messenger, the Imams, and the Gates). In the Báb's dispensation, Saiedi notes, these four genres have been revealed by one and the same the same Person, reflecting not only a stylistic shift, but a Covenantal shift in the authority of the Manifestation of God, who now speaks with the voice of the Gates, the Imams, the Messenger of God and the Primal Point Himself, reflecting the escathological climax associated with the coming of the Day of Resurrection.[22] This shift in religious authority in turn implies a change in religious hierarchy, and hence in the administrative and ultimately social order of the Bábí community.[23 ]

But the nazm of the Bayán, in Saiedi's exposition, goes even further than the implicit order of religious authority. Numerological symbolism of all kinds was very popular in the Báb's time, and constitutes one of the most common literary devices to be found in His writings. And among the rich numerological allegories found in the Báb's writings, the numbers four and nineteen are regarded by Saiedi not only as the organising principle of the Persian Bayan itself, and of the Báb's hierarchy of authority and social order, but as the cosmological structure of all things (Kullu Shay') according to the Bayan.[24] Saiedi identifies the formula "In the name of God, the Inaccessible, the Most Holy", the four words and nineteen letters of which open the Persian Bayan, as the underpinning structure of the Báb's revelation.[25 ]He draws on the first chapters of the Persian and the Arabic Bayans for evidence, where the Báb links the structure of His books to the number of all things (Kullu Shay'), as in the following passage in the exordium that opens the Persian Bayan as translated by Dennis McEoin:

"God, indeed, is powerful over all things. He structured the creation of all things according to the number of 'All Things' [Kullu Shay' = 361], through the decrees which He caused to come down from the court of His holiness and which He caused to shine forth from the sun of His own bounty, in order that all things, through the mention of all things, might reach a state of perfection for the sake of the manifestation of the next resurrection, so that He might reward each thing with the reward due to all things."[26]

The number of "all things", in abjad notation, is equivalent to 361, or nineteen times nineteen. Underlying this perspective is what Saiedi describes as "the unity and parallelism between the realms of creation (takvín) and revelation (tadvín)."[27]

Thus the nazm or order of the Bayan, based on the numerical structure of four and nineteen, while outwardly concerned with the written corpus of the Báb and the Letters of the Living, is implicitly addressing the metaphysical order of all things. "In the Persian Bayan," writes Saiedi, "the order of the Bayan is simultaneously the order and structure of authority, covenant, sacred history, and the society which embodies those writings."[28]

By implication, Saiedi explains, the nazm or order of Bahá'u'lláh proclaimed by the Báb, while ostensibly concerned with the arrangement of Bahá'u'lláh's verses and restructuring ("murratib farmayad") of the order of the Bayan, is of necessity referring also to the ordering by Bahá'u'lláh of all things, since all things are implicated in the order of the divine Book. By the nazm of Bahá'u'lláh, Saiedi argues, "the Báb is referring simultaneously to the modes of Bahá'u'lláh's revelation, the order of His writings, the order of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, and the New World Order of Bahá'u'lláh."[29]

Professor Saiedi's illuminating interpretation is somewhat weakened by his occasional lack of references for key arguments and ideas in his discussion. A close reading of the Persian Bayan shows, however, that Professor Saiedi's arguments, even where supporting references may at times be absent, are nevertheless strongly grounded in the text of the Bayan. Thus, his argument regarding the whole of creation being contained in the Bayan, and specifically in the opening invocation, "in the name of God, the Inaccessible, the Most Holy", although not linked to specific Bayani passages in Professor Saiedi's discussion, is clearly drawn from Bayan 3:8, where the Báb writes that all that to which the quality of being a "thing" is applied is contained in the Bayan, and all the Bayan is contained in its opening invocation, Bismillah al-'Amna, al-Aqdas ("In the name of God, the Inaccesible, the Most Holy"), and all the bismillah in the first letter, b, which itself stems from the Primal Point.[30]

Likewise, Professor Saiedi's linking of the four Qur'anic rivers of paradise with the four modes of revelation, also not referenced to the Bayan, evidently stems from Bayan 6:1, where the selfsame point is clearly made. The parallelism he sees between tadvin and takvin, the creation of the Book and the creation of the world, unreferenced in Professor Saiedi's book, is stated in Bayan 2:4.

Finally, as has been said, a substantial part of Professor Saiedi's exegesis is the importance not only of four, but of nineteen in the nazm of the Bayan, mirroring the structure of all creation. However, a reading of Bayan 3:16 will fail to show any particular link to the number nineteen, except, tacitly, in the references to the Letters of the Living, whose writings are specifically set apart from the Bayán, the writings of the Báb Himself. While the lack of references to supporting passages of Bayan 3:16 in relation to the number 19 might lead to the perception of a forced reading on the part of Professor Saiedi, one need only turn to Bayan 6:1 to see that, again, Professor Saiedi's discussion is based on his careful readings of the Persian Bayan.

In that section of the Bayan, the Báb enjoins that the nazm or arrangement of the Bayan should consist of no more than nineteen volumes arranged into four groups. The first three should consist of verses; the following four of supplications; the next six of commentaries; and the last six of scientific discourses. Thus we find the link clearly made between the nazm of the Bayan and the numbers nineteen and four. This arrangement is, moreover, linked not only to the word nazm in this chapter, but also in passing to the word tartib which likewise appears in conjunction with nazm in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, again underscoring the enduring validity, though not exclusiveness, of the literary interpretation of that passage.

To recapitulate then, the Báb adopts the time honoured and primarily literary concept of nazm associated with the ijaz or inimitability of the Qur'an and embeds it in a mystical metaphysics of divine revelation that sees the Word of God as the agent and pattern of creation.

We recall the great Alessandro Bausani's penetrating analysis of Bahá'í scripture in the context of the Persianate literary tradition:

"The classical Persian literary tradition in general, and particularly in its mystical literary expressions, is distinctly anti-realist, symbolist. when the mystical tradition, and classical Persian literature in general, speaks of real love and allegorical love, it intends exactly the inverse of that which we would understand by the same expression, real love being love for the absolute, allegorical love being love between a man and a woman. The axiom: "the invisible is of superior rank to the visible, the absolute is superior to the relative, the eternal to the contingent, that which is above is more real than that which is below" is the basis not only of the substance, but also of the literary form of Persian mysticism."[31]

Hence, the ordering of the realm of the Word of God, or tadvin, takes precedence over that of the realm of creation (takvin), yet is inseparably linked to it by a hierarchy of analogical relationships that begin with the four words and nineteen letters of the opening invocation of the Bayan, through the four modes of revelation corresponding to the four degrees of spiritual successorship, and the nineteen chapters and nineteen holy figures comprising the Bayán, through the cosmic arrangement of all things (kullu shay) according to the number of nineteen times nineteen, or 361.[32] As we read in the opening of Bayan 3:8: "whatsoever is in the macrocosm is in the Bayán."[33]

Thus the ordering of verses is indissolubly linked to the ordering of the whole of creation. In this context it is therefore highly significant that the Báb, in His Kitabu'l-Asma', should name God the Best Order (Anzam). This is the very same word, anzam, that occurs in Bayan 3:16 to denote the superiority of successive arrangements of the Bayán. In the Kitab al- Asma' the Báb invokes God in the following terms:

"In the name of God, the Best Arrangement of the Paramount Order. God, there is no God but Him, the Superlative arrangement of the Finest Order. Say: God is the Unsurpassed Arrangement above every pre-eminent Order." (Bismillah al Anzam al Anzam. Allah. La elaha illa Huwa al Anzam u'l Anzam. Qul: Allahu Anzam fawqa kulle zi Anzam).[34]

And again a few pages later:

"In the name of God, the Greatest Arrangement of the Most Excellent Order. Praise be to God, besides Whom there is none other God. He is the Incomparable Order of the Matchless Arrangement.

The Glory of God (Baha min Allah) rest upon the first unity (al-wáhid al-awwal)" (Bismillah al Anz.am al Anz.am. Al.H.amdu lillAh alladhi lA elAha illA huwa. al-Anz.am u'l Anz.am. wa innamA al-Baha'u min Allah 'al a alWAh.id il Awwal.)[35]

Thus nazm takes on the nature of a divine attribute, a name of God that transcends the contingent qualities of literary shape or social structure; an ultimate, spiritual dimension which our own attempts at order may at best reflect or approximate. And it seems to me that it is precisely in the tension between our human yearnings and approximations and the transcendent Order associated with God Himself that the heart and function of the Báb's concept of nazm may be found. For indeed in all the discussions of nazm in the Bayan one central aspect has so far passed unnoticed, and that is the instruction to the Báb's followers to compile their own Bayán from the Báb's writings in accordance with a nazm or order within the limits (hudud) set by God in Persian Bayan 3:16 and 6:1, and reflecting the utmost balance (i'tidal).

This, the human arrangement of the writings of the Báb, is a dimension of nazm that, although constituting the bulk and substance of the Báb's discussion in Bayan 3:16 and 6:1, has not benefited from detailed attention. Indeed, as is made clear in both Persian Bayan 3:16 above and also in Bayan 6:1, the nazm-i Bayan does not refer primarily to the order of the Persian Bayan itself, or to the Arabic Bayán for that matter, nor even to the Báb's arrangement of His revealed output, but rather to the compilation and arrangement by the Báb's followers of the wider corpus of the Báb's writings, which He collectively designates the Bayán. It is in fact we, His followers, who are challenged to reflect the cosmological structure of the divine Word in our human ordering and compilation of the Báb's writings, a cosmological structure that may find expression in a multiplicity of forms. For as Bayan 3:16 informs us, the nazm-i-Bayán may manifest itself "after a thousand fashions. yet shall it all return to the soul of the Bayán (nafs-i Bayan)".

And this appears to be ultimately the purpose of arranging the legacy of the Báb in accordance to the principles underlying the nazm-i-Bayán - to bring us in touch with the very soul of the Bayán, the nafs-i Bayan that is the vitalising spirit underlying the principles and words of the Báb's teaching. In this light we may also understand the stress, in both Bayán 3:16 and Bayán 6:1 on recognising the common spirit animating the diversity of literary expression in the Báb's writings. In Bayan 3:16 we read:

"Thus, sacred verses (ayat) pertain to the Point, supplications (munajat) pertain to the Messenger of God, commentaries (tafasir) to the Imams of guidance, and scientific treatises (suvar-i-'ilmiyyih) to the Gates. Yet all these traces arise from this Ocean, hence they all may be witnessed in the most noble form in the Primal Reality."

And in Bayán 6:1 we find:

"Behold the Bayán: it hath been ordained that it is divided into volumes; but all these volumes stem from but one source of manifestation, and this water runs through all the letters of the Unity. It is thus that there is no Creator, Nourisher, Quickener, Slayer, beside God. This first unity is His creation, which demonstrates in the world of potentialities the unity possible in the contingent world."[36]

The aim is to find, in the multiplicity of words and letters, the Primal Reality that is the soul of the Bayán (nafs-i-Bayán). It follows from Babi theology that had previous generations been in touch with the nafs (soul, self, identity) of their Holy Texts, rather than outward expressions only, they would have recognised the same nafs pulsating in the words of the subsequent divine Manifestation. Instead, they took pride in their own understanding of the sacred words while failing to see their source, the Primal Reality, now made manifest in the new revelation from God. Hence the cautions in Bayán 3:16 and 6:1 against superficial considerations:

"Nevertheless, should someone soar in the knowledge of one of the ordinances of God, be it a fundamental pillar (usul) or a secondary teaching (furu), and produce a text of his own behoof, he will be resurrected within His shade only if he doth not transgress the bounds of the Bayan. Otherwise, he shall not be worthy of mention in the presence of God and in the presence of them that are endowed with understanding. For rather, in this Dispensation it is the inner truth of issues that is mostly looked upon, the import of arguments and proofs being less. Rejoice in that which the Point of the Sun of Reality hath revealed, for His writings are like the light of the sun in relation to the glimmer of the stars. Is there any comparison? Exalted, immeasurably exalted is God above such conceptions." (Bayán 3:16)

And, from Bayan 6:1

"Take care in the Day of Manifestation of the truth you make not of these words a veil from Him, for the whole of the Bayán is His previous manifestation and He is most wise of all concerning that which he has revealed."[37]

By focusing on the nafs-i-Bayan, or soul of the Bayan, rather than its diverse expressions, we are expected to perceive the difference between essential and contingent qualities. This is made particularly clear in Bayan 3:16 in the analogy of the Sun amidst the stars, which occurs not less than three times in this brief section. Before the first occurrence of this analogy, the Báb clarifies His use of the term "sun":

"From the setting of this Sun, to the rising of Him Whom God shall make manifest, the authoritative texts will remain exalted and unchangeable, and the Letters of the Living and all the believers in God and in the Bayan shall be within their pale."

The Sun then in the first instance is the Báb, Who rises once more in Him Whom God shall make manifest. The Letters of the Living and the generality of believers occupy a rank subordinate to the writings of that Sun. The same relationship as that between the Manifestation of God and His followers and disciples likewise applies to the divine Word:

"Rejoice in that which the Point of the Sun of Reality hath revealed, for His writings are like the light of the sun in relation to the glimmer of the stars. Is there any comparison? Exalted, immeasurably exalted is God above such conceptions."

Here Báb's writings are likened to the light of the sun, this time in relation to the glimmer of the stars. In a subsequent paragraph of Bayan 3:16 we further read:

"And should He be made manifest and none be found to recognise Him, yet shall His shaping (murratib farmayad) of the Bayan stand out as the Sun amidst the stars, at a time when He perceives everyone to be wrapped in veils."

This time it is Him Whom God shall make manifest's shaping of the Bayán that will stand out as the sun amidst the stars. This theme is of such importance, that the Báb devotes the entirety of Persian Bayan 8:1 to expounding how "Him Whom God shall make manifest is in His acts as the sun, whilst the deeds of all men, when in conformity to the good pleasure of God, are like stars." Finally in Bayan 3:16 the Báb explains:

"A single word from His commentaries stands unequalled by the commentaries of every commentator, from the moment the Qu'ran began to descend till the rising of Him Who setteth forth commentaries (ta irtifaa`-e u tafsir namudeh). And whoso compareth the Sun's radiance to the glimmer of the stars, his gaze is unworthy of mention before God."

Here the Báb's Qur'anic commentaries are once more compared to the Sun amidst the stars in relation to the commentaries of every commentator. The challenge then is to recognise the one Sun through its variegated rays in each Dispensation, the nafs within the verses, rather than focus on the reflection of that light in the multiplicity of human thought and words, which are like stars before the sun.

The purpose of the Báb's instruction to His followers to compile His writings in accordance with a nazm derived from the fundamental principles of His theophanology (theology of manifestation)[38] symbolised by the numbers four and nineteen, is, as with so many of His ordinances, to prepare the Babí community to recognise Him Whom God shall make manifest.

This is made unequivocal in Bayán 6:1. There, in addition to the instruction to compile up to nineteen volumes of the writings of the Báb grouped in accordance to the four key modes of revelation, a further injunction is given to subdivide each volume into sections from the One (Wahid) to Mustagháth (meaning "He Who is Invoked" = numerical value of 2001), that is, made up of between one and 2001 verses. This instruction comes immediately after discussion of the coming of Him Whom God will make manifest. Mustagháth, as is well known, is the maximum length of time separating the advent of one Manifestation from the next as described in the Persian Bayan 7:10, where the Báb writes:

"For only God knows how long it will be from the beginning of a Manifestation until another, but if God please, it will not be more than the number of Mustagháth".[39]

Thus the very subdivision of the nazm-i-Bayán is meant to generate a sense of expectation and receptivity:

"The fruit of this nazm", writes the Báb in Bayan 6:1, "is that perchance on the Day of Resurrection (yawm al-qiyámat) all the believers in the Bayán may be guided through the assistance of the letters of unity[40] for that Day is the Day of Tests."[41]

We have already seen that the nazm-i-Bayán (Order of the Bayán) embodies in all its human multiplicity the single nafs-i-Bayan (soul or self of the Bayan), which in turn we are told is Him Whom God shall make manifest "in His previous manifestation." Our recognition of Him Whom God shall make manifest is therefore itself the test of our recognition of the soul of the Bayán (nafs-i-Bayán) permeating the order of the Bayán (nazm-i-Bayán) as Bayan 6:1 also indicates.

But why make the human compilation of the texts of the Bayán, that is of the writings of the Báb, subject to individual preference rather than to a uniform arrangement as was the case with the Qur'an? Why subject the nazm-i-Bayan to human whims? For the Báb, in Bayán 3:16, places considerable stress on the multiplicity of forms that Babí scripture may take in accordance with the individual preferences of the compiler:

"For it is permissible for each person to arrange the order of the Bayan (nazm-i Bayan) as appeareth sweetest. Inasmuch as though it manifest itself after a thousand fashions, with one volume differing from another by reason of the ordering of verses or the conjunction of words, yet shall it all return to the soul of the Bayan (kulli rAja' nafsi Bayan); nor shall a single word be added or excised therefrom."

The instructions for the division of volumes and the collation of texts by genre or mode of revelation therefore take on the character of no more than general guidelines. In Bayán 6:1, for instance, having suggested that the nazm of the Bayan should consist of "no more than nineteen volumes", the Báb explicitly stresses that this is not strictly binding and obligatory.

This multiplicity of expression itself has a function. Immediately after stressing in Bayan 3:16 that everyone should order the Bayán "as appeareth sweetest" and "after a thousand fashions", we are told that the Promised One Himself will bring His own order to the Bayán:

"It will be apparent that no order (nazm) shall be adopted save that it be sweeter (ahla) and better arranged (anzam) than the order (nazm) that preceded it. Well is it with him who fixeth his gaze on the Order of Bahá'u'lláh (tuba li man yanziru illA'l-nazm Bahá'u'lláh) and rendereth thanks unto his Lord! For He will assuredly be made manifest. God hath indeed irrevocably ordained it in the Bayan. Verily, God raiseth whatsoever He willeth and bringeth down whatsoever He desireth."

The first sentence of this verse echoes Bayán 3:4 which is entirely dedicated to this theme, explaining that "in each manifestation of the Will the words of the Lord of that manifestation are, in consequence of His intrinsic exaltation, more elevated than those from earlier times."[42]

Thus the sentence regarding the superiority of each subsequent order alludes to the dispensationary nature of nazm.

For the Bayan, this dispensationary aspect is made clear in the ensuing prophetic announcement which links the nazm of Bahá'u'lláh to the expectation of Him Whom God shall make manifest. There thus appears to be, on the one hand, the nazm created by the followers of a Messenger in each dispensation, and on the other hand, a nazm created by the new Messenger at the beginning of each new Revelation. The use of the word Anzam in this context, bearing in mind its use in the Kitáb al-Asma', simply underscores this reading.

Even greater clarity may be obtained from a subsequent passage in Bayan 3:16

"This is of the bounty of God to the learned in the Bayan, that they may busy themselves in the Cause till God doth comfort them through the Manifestation [bi-zuhur] of that for which they beseech God in the daytime and in the night season. And should He be made manifest and none be found to recognise Him, yet shall His shaping (murratib farmayad) of the Bayan stand out as the Sun amidst the stars, at a time when He perceives everyone to be wrapped in veils.

"In like manner, the Point of the Bayan hath written three commentaries of the Qur'an: two in the style (nahj) of verses throughout, and one a commentary on the Suratu'l-Baqara in the manner (nahj) of a scientific treatise (shu'un `ilmiyya). A single word from His commentaries stands unequalled by the commentaries of every commentator, from the moment the Qu'ran began to descend till the rising of Him Who setteth forth commentaries (ta irtifaa`-e u tafsir namudeh). And whoso compareth the Sun's radiance to the glimmer of the stars, his gaze is unworthy of mention before God."

Here we are explicitly told that the Promised One will give His own shape (murratib farmayad) to the Bayán. The meaning of this process is explained by analogy ("In like manner") to the Báb's own Qur'anic commentary, which may be said to have reshaped the tartib and nazm of the Qur'an. His Qur'an commentary was merely one among a host of Qur'anic commentaries produced by the followers of Islam, but stood in relation to them like the Sun amidst the stars, even as the murratib or shaping of the Bayán by the Promised One will stand out like the Sun amidst the stars of the Bábí community.

As if this was not clear enough, Bayan 6:1 concludes:

"The science of the Bayan is linked to the knowledge of its descent from its beginning to its end. For that which hath descended in the beginning conforms to the Qur'anic strictures (ahkám), while subsequently the Bayani laws appeared. One must not therefore on account of the beginning remain ignorant of the end, or by reason of the end, remain in ignorance of the beginning. but the divine purpose is most evident in the most recent verses."[43]

So we find that the first irruption of the Bayan into creation took shape within Islamic law, although in a manner that reshaped already the prevailing order,[44] giving way in the fullness of time to an altogether new order and structure (nazm va tartib), which, taking the form of a new body of scripture, also implied, as we have seen, not only a cosmic renewal but a social and political reform as well. Clearly, the Báb's expectation is that the new Order of Bahá'u'lláh will likewise unfold gradually, first of all within the context of the Bayán's ordinances. As with the Báb's Qur'an commentary, the nazm of Him who "will assuredly be manifest" will stand out as the sun amidst the stars, to be recognised by those whose hearts are looking upon "the inner truth of issues" rather than "arguments and proofs", and who are in touch with the "soul of the Bayan".[45]

Against this backdrop the Báb's reluctance to commit His followers to a rigid scriptural structure and foster a multiplicity of scriptural forms is designed to create a space, on the one hand, for the emergence of the Promised One's distinctive nazm without questions of order and structure clouding "the inner truth of issues"; and on the other hand, for His spiritually attuned followers to fix their gaze on the soul of the Bayan rather than its outward form, that they might recognise its new manifestation in the beginning, no less than in the end.

In conclusion, we may say that the reference to nazm in the Bab's Bayan, while on a superficial first reading referring simply to the literary arrangement of the Bab's corpus by His followers, is pregnant with rich metaphysical, covenantal, communal and dispensationary allusions subordinated to a logic of eschatological expectation. Shoghi Effendi, by identifying the nazm of Bahá'u'lláh in Bayan 3:16 with the famous passage in the Kitab-i Aqdas 181; with the Administrative Order outlined in the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá; with the future Bahá'í World Commonwealth anticipated in his own World Order letters, and with the Kingdom of God on earth promised in ancient scriptures, released and intensified the chiliaistic, covenantal and dispensationary charge already implicit in the allusive language and complex theology of Bayan 3/16 and 3:61; and filtered it through a uniquely Bahá'í hermeneutic of fulfilled eschatology to connect the dreams and labours of a modern Baha'í community to the millennial hopes of the Bab's foremost scriptural text.

Notes:

    1 Ruhiyyih Khanum, The Priceless Pearl, p. 213

    2 Ibid.

    3 Shoghi Effendi, "The Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh", The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 146

    4 Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p.25. See also ibid, p.324; Messages to America pp. 22, 49; Citadel of Faith, p. 5; and Summary Statement - 1947, Special UN Committee on Palestine

    5 This is reported by former member of the Universal House of Justice David Hofman in "Shoghi Effendi, Expounder of the Word of God", The Vision of Shoghi Effendi, p.97, Association for Bahá'í Studies, Ottawa, 1993.

    6 Ali Nakhjavani, "Nigáhí bih Nazm-i-Badí'-i-Iláhi", Payám-i-Bahá'í no. 149, p.17-18, April 1992.

    7 Huseyn Hilmi I??k, Se'‚det-i Ebediyye (Endless Bliss), fascicle 1, section 25, Waqf Ikhlas, Istambul. 1993. Cf. Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi, letter 100 of his maktubat

    8 Issa J Boullata, "I'jaz", in Mircea Eliade (Editor), The Encyclopedia Of Religion, Vol. 7, p.87.

    9 Jamal el'Attar, "A Rich Concept of Arabic / al-cArabiyya: al-Jahiz's Original View of "Arabic" in relation to the Holy Qur'an", Democracy in the Middle East, BRISMES 1992 Annual Conference, pp. 20-33

    10 Cited in ibid.

    11 Cf. Kavian Sadeghzade Milani and Leila Rassekh Milani, "The Proof Based on Establishment (Dalíl-i-taqrír) and the Proof Based on Verses (H.ujjiyyat-i-ayát): An Introduction to Bahá'í-Muslim Apologetics", Journal of Bahá'í Studies, 7:4 (1997)

    12 See Mustansir Mir, Coherence in the Qur'an: A Study of Islahi's Concept of Nazm in Tadabbur-i Qur'an, Indianapolis: American Trust Publications, 1986. Cf. Asma Barlas, "Believing Women" in Islam Unreading Patriarchal Interpretations of the Qur'an, ch.1, section 2, University of Texas Press (2002). This discussion is potentially relevant to current scholarly debate on the ordering of the Kitab-i Aqdas, and whether its structure is coherent and intentional or circumstantial and ad-hoc, reflecting its progressive revelation and compilation over a period of years. See Nader Saiedi, Logos and Civilization, University Press of Maryland, 2000, pp.213-235, and the references he cites in that chapter to the work of the Mirza Asadullah Fadil Mazindarani, Kamran Ekbal, and Anthony Lee

    13 Mulla Sadra, Al-Hikmat al-Muta'‡líyah fí al-Asf‡r al-'Aqliyyah al-'Arba'ah, as cited in Qamus-i Iqan by Ishráq Khávari, Volume 2, page 1108. I am indebted to the erudition of Dr. Khazeh Fananapazir for this valuable reference.

    14 Plotinus (c.250 AD), Enneads, IV.3.16, p.273, Stephen MacKenna/B. S Page, (translators), Faber & Faber, London, 1969. I am grateful to Sherveen Lotfi for this reference.

    15 al-Sayyid Hashim al-Bahrani, Kitab al-burhan fi tafsir al-Qur'an. 4 vols. Tehran, 1375/1955) v.1, third Báb, p.28 I am indebted to John Vahid Brown for locating and translating this tradition.

    16 Cited in B. Todd Lawson, The Qur'an Commentary of Sayyid `Ali Muhammad, the Báb, Ph.D. dissertation, McGill University, 1987, p. 16

    17 The following provisional translation was produced jointly by Will McCants and the present author, with help from Kavian Milani and Vahid Brown.

    18 Bayan Farsi, 3:16

    19 Cf. David Hofman, in "Shoghi Effendi, Expounder of the Word of God", The Vision of Shoghi Effendi, p.97, Association for Bahá'í Studies, Ottawa, 1993.

    20 Nader Saiedi, Logos and Civilization, University Press of Maryland, 2000, p. 294

    21 Ibid. p.295

    22 Ibid. p.295-299

    23 On the link between the metaphysics of spiritual authority in the writings of the Báb and the anticipated administrative and social regulation of the Babí community, see Dennis McEoin "Hierarchy, Authority and Eschatology in Early Bábí Thought", pp. 113-122, published in Peter Smith, ed., In Iran: Studies in Bábí and Bahá'í History vol. 3 (Los Angeles: Kalimat Press, 1986) 95-141.

    24 Saiedi, op. cit., p.297.

    25 Saiedi, op. cit., p.296.

    26 http://www.bahai-library.org/provisionals/bayan.html

    27 Ibid. p.299

    28 Saiedi, op. cit., p. 299

    29 ibid.

    30 This concept is elaborated further in Bayan 3:12

    31 Alessandro Bausani, "I Testi Sacri Della Religione Bahá'í", p.151, Saggi Sulla Fede Bahá'í, pp.147-162, Casa Editrice Bahá'í, Roma, 1991. Cf. "Considerazioni Su Alcuni Aspetti Meno Noti Dello Stile Espressivo Bahá'í", ibid., pp. 162-173, translated as "Some Aspects of the Bahá'í Expressive Style", in World Order, vol. 13, no2, p.36, (Winter 1978-79)

    32 This brief list does not begin to do justice to the recurrence and symbolical richness of the numbers four, nineteen and three hundred and sixty one in the writings of the Báb.

    33 As translated by E. G. Browne, Selections from the Writings of E.G. Browne, p.341, Moojan Momen (editor), George Ronald, Oxford (1987)

    34 Author's provisional translation from Kitab al Asma', p.517.

    35 Author's provisional translation from ibid., p. 524. I am deeply grateful yet again to the knowledge and generosity of Dr. Khazeh Fananapazir for this and the previous reference. In a further striking link to this passage, the concept of the first unity is given extended attention in Bayan 6:1 as part of the discussion of nazm.

    36 Author's own provisional translation.

    37 As translated by E. G. Browne, op.cit., p.375

    38 A very useful term coined by Juan Cole in his seminal monograph The Concept of Manifestation in the Bahá'í Writings, Bahá'í Studies monograph 9 (1982):1-38, the Association for Bahá'í Studies, Ottawa, Ontario

    39 As translated by E. G. Browne, op.cit., p.390

    40 I am tempted to follow Nicolas in seeing "letters of unity" in this sentence as denoting the writings of the Báb compiled into nineteen volumes (as per the instructions of the preceding paragraph), the word unity, vahid, being numerically equivalent to nineteen. It is also probable however that the term refers to the 19 Letters of the Living, mentioned later on in the same passage.

    41 Bayán 6:1, author's translation

    42 Bayan 3:4, Author's provisional translation.

    43 Author's own provisional translation from the original text.

    44 Cf. B. Todd Lawson, The Qur'an Commentary of Sayyid `Ali Muhammad, the Báb, Ph.D. dissertation, McGill University, 1987

    45 Bahá'u'lláh, too speaks about "the revelation of the Soul of God that pervadeth all His Laws" (Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 160). Shoghi Effendi would eventually write about "that World Order that must incarnate the soul, execute the laws, and fulfill the purpose of the Faith of God in this day." (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. xiii); of "the System designed to incarnate the soul of His Faith" (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 18)

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