Notes by Brent Poirier:
Wehr's English-Arabic dictionary defines the word Bayán
as "clear, plain,
obvious, manifest, elucidation, explanation"; it is related to a word in
Islamic law that means "self-evident proof." The Guardian translates the
title of the Báb's "Bayán" as "Exposition." (God Passes By, p. 24)
There is a related word, mubayyin,
derived from the same root as "Bayán."
It appears in paragraph 105 of the Aqdas as "lucid:" Kitáb mubayyin,
also refers to the person who makes things clear. I have
obtained from a generous friend who has the sacred Texts in the original
languages, a compilation of some other occurrences in the Writings of
Bahá'u'lláh and the Master which were translated by Shoghi Effendi, where
appears. It is most illuminating.
O Spot that art situate on the shores of the two seas! . . . We behold in
thee the foolish ruling over the wise, and darkness vaunting itself against
the light. Thou art indeed filled with manifest ["mubayyin"] pride
Aqdas p. 21
Erelong shall your days pass away, as shall pass away the days of those who
now, with flagrant ["mubayyin"] pride, vaunt themselves over their neighbor.
O Banks of the Rhine! We have seen you covered with gore ... And We hear
the lamentations of Berlin, though she be today in conspicuous ["mubayyin"] glory.
The All-Merciful is come invested with undoubted ["mubayyin"] sovereignty.
My sorrow is not for Myself, but for Him Who shall come after Me, in the
shadow of My Cause, with manifest and undoubted ["mubayyin"] sovereignty
Whether ye rejoice, or whether ye burst for fury, the heavens are cleft
asunder, and God hath come down, invested with radiant ["mubayyin"] sovereignty.
Lo, the Desired One is come with manifest ["mubayyin"] dominion!
Epistle to the Son of the Wolf 49
the Lucid ["mubayyin"] Book
He hath but to deliver this clear ["mubayyin"] message
Tablet of Ahmad
This is the luminous ["mubayyin"] Tablet, whose verses have streamed from the moving
Pen of Him Who is the Lord of all worlds.
If ye pay no heed unto the counsels which, in peerless and
unequivocal ["mubayyin"] language, We have revealed in this Tablet
God's perspicuous ["mubayyin"] Book hath been revealed
Thus have We set down Our decree in a perspicuous ["mubayyin"] Tablet.
Epistle to the Son of the Wolf 47
Even as the Lord of being hath in His unerring ["mubayyin"] Book
There is neither a thing green nor sere but it is noted in the unerring ["mubayyin"]
(Quote from Qur'an) Kitáb-i-Íqán 190
Nothing is there green or sere, but it is noted in a distinct ["mubayyin"] writing.
(Same quote from Qur'an)
Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 150
the heaven hath given out a palpable ["mubayyin"] smoke
They that have tarnished the fair name of the Cause of God, by following the
things of the flesh - these are in palpable ["mubayyin"] error!
They that dispute, as prompted by their desires, are indeed
wrapped in a palpable ["mubayyin"] veil.
Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 55
He that is careless of what hath poured out from the finger of the Will of
God liveth in manifest ["mubayyin"] error.
Every verse which this Pen hath revealed is a bright and shining ["mubayyin"] portal
that discloseth the glories of a saintly and pious life, of pure and
Religion is a radiant ["mubayyin"] light and an impregnable stronghold
The Promised Day is Come 113
His loved ones who, with manifest ["mubayyin"] sincerity, have come unto you.
By God! Should one who is in affliction or grief read this
Tablet with absolute ["mubayyin"] sincerity God will dispel his sadness
Tablet of Ahmad
With a detached heart, and a dilated breast, and an utterly ["mubayyin"] truthful
tongue, recite thou these sublime words
Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p.142
...them that, without a tittle of evidence ["mubayyin"] have treated Us with manifest
He accused Us, in his letter to thee, and thou didst believe him and
followed in his way, without seeking any proof or trustworthy evidence ["mubayyin"]
that the truth, the infallible truth, may be indubitably
manifested ["mubayyin"] unto you
With a certitude that none can question ["mubayyin"] , all men would cleave to His
commandments, and would scrupulously observe them.
... so that every one may know of a certainty ["mubayyin"] that this Wronged One hath
acted in a manner which hath been pleasing and acceptable unto men endued
Epistle to the Son of the Wolf 22
so that thou mayest know of a certainty ["mubayyin"] that whatever hath been mentioned
hath come from God
Epistle to the Son of the Wolf 38
The fear of God hath ever been a sure ["mubayyin"] defense and a safe
stronghold for all the peoples of the world.
Epistle to the Son of the Wolf 27
Were His law to be such as to strike terror into the hearts of all that are
in heaven and on earth, that law is naught but manifest ["mubayyin"] justice.
Wert thou to ponder in thine heart the behavior of the Prophets of God thou
wouldst assuredly and readily ["mubayyin"] testify that there must needs be other
worlds besides this world
that the leaders of men may fully ["mubayyin"] recognize the purpose for which the
Eternal Truth hath been revealed
Every man of discernment, while walking upon the earth, feeleth indeed
abashed, inasmuch as he is fully aware ["mubayyin"] that the thing which is the source
of his prosperity ... is the very earth . .
Epistle to the Son of the Wolf 44
Deal with them with undeviating justice, so that none among them may either
suffer want, or be pampered with luxuries. This is but manifest ["mubayyin"] justice.
... judge ye between Us and Our enemies with equity. This will, surely, be
a manifest ["mubayyin"] advantage unto you.
Should any one among you take up arms against another, rise ye all against
him, for this is naught but manifest ["mubayyin"] justice.
... no sooner did I reveal Myself to their eyes than they, with manifest ["mubayyin"]
injustice, pronounced the sentence of My death.
... they took Us forth from Our prison and made Us, with glaring ["mubayyin"]
injustice, enter the Most Great Prison.
Epistle to the Son of the Wolf 49
We had sent Moses of old with Our signs and with clear ["mubayyin"] authority to
Qur'an, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 64
Said Moses to him: 'Thou art plainly ["mubayyin"] a most depraved person.'
Qur'an, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p.66
The bells, verily, peal out My Name, and lament over Me, but My spirit
rejoiceth with evident ["mubayyin"] gladness
The Promised Day is Come 101
In the estimation of men of insight whatsoever befalleth in the path of God
is manifest ["mubayyin"] glory and a supreme attainment.
Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 125
O Fleeting Shadow!
Pass beyond the baser stages of doubt and rise to the exalted heights of
certainty. Open the eye of truth, that thou mayest behold the veilless ["mubayyin"]
Beauty and exclaim: Hallowed be the Lord, the most excellent of all
Persian Hidden Words 9
He hath achieved a glorious triumph and obtained the true ["mubayyin"] victory
Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá 264
Ere long will ye behold him and his associates, outwardly and inwardly,
condemned to utter ["mubayyin"] ruin.
The Will and Testament of Abdu'l-Bah 6
Soon thou that find thyself in evident ["mubayyin"] loss
The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh 178
Every man of discernment beholdeth thee, and such as are like thee, engulfed
in evident ["mubayyin"] folly
Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 80
Such is their blindness that, with unfeigned ["mubayyin"] severity, they have cast into
this fortified and afflictive Prison Him, for the servants of Whose
Threshold the world hath been created.
... some who were possessed of an affluent fortune and lived in the midst of
excessive riches, while others were in dire want and abject ["mubayyin"] poverty.
We find some men desiring liberty, and priding themselves
therein. Such men are in the depths of ["mubayyin"] ignorance
and yet the people are, for the most part, sunk in manifest ["mubayyin"] ignorance!
Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 92
All must seek guidance and turn unto the Center of the Cause and the House
of Justice. And he that turneth unto whatsoever else is indeed in
grievous ["mubayyin"] error.
Will and Testament 26
Such a soul hath, in truth, wandered far in the path of ["mubayyin"] error
He is ... the Expounder ["mubayyin"] of the hidden and ancient wisdom.
Justice is a powerful force. It is, above all else, the
conqueror of the citadels of the hearts and souls of men, and the revealer
of the secrets ["mubayyin"] of the world of being ...
Epistle to the Son of the Wolf 32
He is the Interpreter of the Word of God.
He is the expounder of the words of God
[mubayyin ayat alláh]
(Words of the Master referring to Shoghi Effendi, translated both ways by
Shoghi Effendi — Bahá'í Administration,
p. 7, Will and Testament p. 11)
No one is permitted to give these verses any other
interpretation. I am according to the explicit texts of the
Kitáb-i-Aqdas and the Kitáb-i-`Ahd the manifest Interpreter of the Word of
God ... Whoso deviates from my interpretation is a victim of his own fancy.
`Abdu'l-Bahá, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh 138
My station is the station of servitude — a servitude which is complete,
pure and real, firmly established, enduring, obvious, explicitly revealed
and subject to no interpretation whatever. I am the Interpreter
[mubayyin] of the Word of God; such is my interpretation [Bayán].
`Abdu'l-Bahá, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh 133
Shoghi Effendi wrote that the Persian Bayán "should be regarded primarily as a eulogy of the Promised One rather than a code of laws and ordinances designed to be a permanent guide to future generations." (God Passes By, p. 25) Perhaps this verse from the Aqdas is the source of the Guardian's guidance:
"God is My witness that the Bayán was sent down for no other purpose than to celebrate My praise,did ye but know. In it the pure in heart will find only the fragrance of My love, only My Name that overshadoweth all that seeth and is seen." (Bahá'u'lláh, Aqdas, Paragraph 179)
There is a multitude of references in the Bayán to "Him Whom God shall manifest." In addition, there were a number of references to Bahá'u'lláh by Name, and I would like to share them. These were translated by Edward Granville Browne, and are available in "Selections from the Writings of E.G. Browne" edited by Moojan Momen:
In this verse, the Báb states that He has named the first month of the year, the Month of Bahá, after Him Whom God shall manifest:
"And the first month is the Month of the Point, round which the (18) months of the Living revolve; its similitude amongst the months is as the Sun, while the rest of the months are like Mirrors, and it is named by God the month of Bahá, seeing that the splendour (Bahá) of all the months is included in it. For God hath set it apart for Him whom God shall manifest . .. ."
(Persian Bayán, Vahid 5, Chapter 3, E.G. Browne Translation, "Selections from the Writings of E. G. Browne," Momen, p. 362.)
"The best of all names are such as are related to God like Bahá'u'lláh and Jalalu'lláh, and Jamálu'lláh or Nuru'lláh or Fadlu'lláh, or Judu'lláh, and the like of these and Abdu'lláh and Dhikru'lláh. Gradually, in later Manifestations, all persons will be named with Names of God until all the Heaven and Earth and what is between them becomes filled with the Name of God. . . . He whom God shall manifest is like a touchstone, discriminating between pure gold and all beside. For instance if a person be named Bahá'u'lláh (the Splendour of God) and if he believes in the splendour (Bahá) of him who was the First to believe, then that Name becomes confirmed for him in Heaven ..."
(The Persian Bayán, Vahid V, Chapter 4, Momen, p. 362-3)
The Báb promised that eventually His faith will cover the earth:
"The object is that when He whom God shall manifest shall appear, all shall have been educated in the Bayán, that none of the believers in the Bayán may remain outside belief in Him; should one do so, the Command concerning him is as the Command concerning him who believeth not in God. I swear by God that in the Manifestation of Him whom God shall manifest all shall unite in helping [the propagation of the Faith], not one will remain on the earth who shall not enter into Paradise."
(The Persian Bayán, Vahid V, Chapter 4, Momen, p. 364)
Shoghi Effendi comments on this verse:
"In the 'Bayán' the Báb says that every religion of the past was fit to become universal. The only reason why they failed to attain that mark was the incompetence of their followers. He then proceeds to give a definite promise that this would not be the fate of the revelation of 'Him Whom God would make manifest,' that it will become universal and include all the people of the world. This shows that we will ultimately succeed. But could we not, through our shortcomings, failures to sacrifice and reluctance to concentrate our efforts in spreading the Cause, retard the realization of that ideal? And what would that mean? It shall mean that we will be held responsible before God, that the race will remain longer in its state of waywardness, that wars would not be so soon averted, that human suffering will last longer."
(From a letter dated 20 February 1932 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, cited in the Compilation on Living the Life)
This fact, that this Revelation will be recognized by every person, was prophesied in the Book of Revelation in the New Testament:
"Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him."
As to the question of how those "who pierced Him" could see Him, this is answered in the Íqán, where Bahá'u'lláh explains that the believers and the persecutors return spiritually in every Dispensation, i.e. their attributes.
Notes by Peter Terry:
: Was the Bayán considered the Book of
Laws for the Báb's Dispensation? Is the Kitáb-i-Bayán the same thing as the "Bayán?"
: I do not know of any reference to the Bayán as
Kitáb-i-Bayán, but if there is any reference thereto, it
probably refers specifically to the Persian Bayán.
Bahá'u'lláh wrote a Tablet called Lawh-i-Bayán, but that is
a different matter. Yes, the laws of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, and
contained in the other Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, supersede the
laws contained in the Persian Bayán, the Arabic Bayán and in
other Writings of the Báb. In Kitáb-i-Íqán, Bahá'u'lláh
establishes the principle that each successive Manifestation
of God reveals laws that supersede the laws promulgated by
previous Manifestations of God. In the Ishráqát (TB:132),
"Our exalted Herald — may the life of all else
besides Him be offered up for His sake — hath revealed
certain laws. However, in the realm of His Revelation these
laws were made subject to Our sanction, hence this Wronged
One hath put some of them into effect by embodying them in
the Kitáb-i-Aqdas in different words. Others We set aside.
He holdeth in His hand the authority. He doeth what He
willeth and He ordaineth whatsoever He pleaseth. He is the
Almighty, the All-Praised. There are also ordinances newly
revealed. Blessed are they that attain. Blessed are they
that observe His precepts."
The Persian Bayán is a single work, revealed in Persian.
The Arabic Bayán is also a single work, revealed in Arabic.
Neither one is a compilation of the Báb's Writings. Both of
these works contain laws, but the Persian Bayán is much
longer and more detailed, and it contains many more laws,
and in greater detail. The Báb also called the totality of
His Writings the Bayán, and Bahá'u'lláh sometimes made
reference to the Báb's Writings as the Bayán, and to the
Bábís as the people of the Bayán, so this is what might have
confused you. But the principal repository of the laws of
the Báb is the Persian Bayán. I say this with conviction
because the Persian Bayán is available in two languages that
I read fluently — in abstract form it is in English, prepared
by Professor E. G. Browne and included in the anthology of
his writings on the Bábí Faith published some years ago by
George Ronald Press and edited by Dr. Moojan Momen; in its
entirety it is in French, translated by A.L.M. Nicolas and
published in four volumes in the early years of the 20th
Notes by Christopher Buck:
An explanation of some symbols
In the Bayán,
Wahid VIII, Chapter 5, the Báb writes:
It is incumbent on him who is able to take 3
diamonds according to the number of Bism and four yellow amethysts according
to the number of Alláh and six emeralds, the number of Al-Amna` and six
rubies, the number of Al-Aqdas, that he should take them, and salute (or
submit himself to) Him whom God shall manifest and the Letters of the Living
on the day of His Manifestation."
Then the Báb mentions four lights:
These, of course, correspond to:
Which, elsewhere, may correspond to the four acts of God:
Which corresponds (see Selections from the Writings of E.G. Browne
[SWEGB] p. 353) to:
Which corresponds (see SWEGB
p. 329) to:
Land of the Heart
Land of the Spirit
Land of the Soul
Land of the Body
Which [incompletely] corresponds (see SWEGB
pp. 343-344) to:
The Station of the Manifestation of the Names of God
The Station of Spirits, arrayed with the Garment of Limitations
Which corresponds to:
The People of Heart
The People of Spirit
The People of Souls
The People of Body
Which corresponds to:
Proofs of "There is no God but God"
Proofs of the Prophet of God
Proofs of the Imáms
Proofs of the Gates
Which corresponds to:
Which may correspond (see Selections from the Writings of E.G. Browne
[SWEGB] p. 361) to the divisions of the Badí` Calendar:
Which corresponds (see SWEGB
pp. 361-362) to:
The Fire of God
The Air of Eternity without Beginning (azal
The Water of Unification
Which may (see SWEGB
p. 377) correspond to:
Which may correspond (see SWEGB
p. 393) to:
Unity of the Essence (wáhid
Unity of the Attributes
Unity of Actions
Unity of Worship and Deeds
Which corresponds (see SWEGB
p. 397) to:
Which may loosely correspond (see SWEGB
p. 375) to:
Bear in mind that, when the Báb speaks of "Body," He refers to the
"Essential Body" or subtle body, which is a subject unto itself.
See also Frank Lewis' marvellous explanation of the significance of
camphor, at bahai-library.com/essays/camphor.fountain.html
. E.G. Browne comments on one of the Báb's symbolic applications of
) which, according to E.G. Browne, "is used [by the Báb] to
denote whiteness, a compound of all colours" (SWEGB
351, n. 1). Please read
the rest of the footnote for the theological significance of this.
Notes by Moojan Momen:
Some comments on teaching and travel patterns of Bábís and the spread of the Bábí movement (see also article "The Bábí Movement: A Resource Mobilization Perspective
," which I wrote with Peter Smith):
One of the things that tends to happen in Bahá'í narratives - and this is true whether we are talking about Nabíl's Narrative dealing with events 150 years ago or with an account of a teaching campaign last year - is that people are very often taken out of their social context. Conversions are often described as though they happen wholly in a spiritual realm, completely divorced from the physical and socio- cultural world of the person involved.
But a moment's thought tells us that this cannot be the case. At the most basic level, if Bahá'í travelling teachers go to village A and they do not go to village B, because there is a bus to village A and not to B, or because one of the Bahá'ís has a friend in village A, then we should not be surprised to find that the number of people becoming Bahá'ís in village A far out-numbers the number in village B.
At a more complex level, however, cities - especially cities in a traditional society such as that of Iran - are a number of different communities and networks. Links are strong within these networks but may be weak between them. The strongest network is the family one. Next, there may be that of one's occupation (and remember that in a traditional society one follows one's father's occupation - thus family networks and occupational networks may overlap for any individual). Next there are a number of other networks that a person may belong to: the quarter of the town that one lives in may be important. There were often feuds between different quarters of a town in Iranian cities, and if the governor were weak, these would erupt into rioting and brawling. Some people entered into particular religious groupings such as Sufi orders or the Shaykhí movement. Lastly but by no means least importantly, there were patronage networks. Local notables and prominent ulama would form a network of people to whom they showed patronage.
Conversions are often portrayed as though they occur as a "Road to Damascus" type of phenomenon, a dramatic and sudden personal experience. In fact, they usually follow pre-existing positively valued social relationships (social and family networks and patronage relationships). All of the above-described networks were important in the spread of the Bábí movement. Basically if someone with whom you have strong positive relationships becomes a member of a new religion, this becomes a great incentive for you to investigate and be favourably inclined towards this religion.
When a Bábí teacher would come to a city, he would contact those people with whom he had some social links. These would then spread the Bábí movement among others within their networks. Those who were outside these networks would be in the same position as those in village B. They would have much less chance of hearing about the Báb.
If we look at individual towns, we can see that the Bábí movement spread through different networks in different towns. Initially, of course, the Bábí movement spread among the Shaykhí networks in each town and city, simply because the Báb's earliest disciples, the Letters of the Living, were all Shaykhís. When they arrived in a town, they would seek out the Shaykhís, whom they may well have met previously at Karbala attending the classes of Sayyid Kazim Rashti.
Then as the movement spread, it would enter new networks, depending on the social networks of the Shaykhís who became Bábís. In Isfahan, for example, it spread strongly among the retail shop-keepers and craftsmen. Craftsmen were formed into guilds (asnaf
) in Iranian cities and were tightly-knit communities with a leadership structure. Of the 53 Bábís from the Isfahan area present at Shaykh Tabarsi, the occupations of 34 are known. Of these 34, 23 were from this class of craftsmen and retail merchants. In Qazvin, on the other hand, the Bábí movement spread strongly among the wholesale and import-export merchants (tujjar
) and there was very little conversion among the craftsmen and retail merchants.
Where an appreciable percentage of a town became Bábís, it was often one particular quarter of the town that became Bábís. This was also often linked with patronage relationships. In Nayriz for example, the kad-khuda
(headman, responsible for order and tax-collection) of a quarter of the town became a Bábí. He was the father-in-law of Vahid, who was an important religious leader and had a house in Nayriz. Most of the population of that quarter also became Bábís. Similarly in Zanjan, Hujjat was a popular religious leader, who was at odds with the other religious leaders in Zanjan. Even before the arrival of the Bábí movement, there had been clashes between his followers and those of the other religious leaders. When he became a Bábí, those who followed him in religious matters also became Bábís, while the other religious leaders became even more strongly opposed, splitting the town along these lines.
The mobilisation of the population to follow the Báb thus followed certain patterns which become discernible when one takes a wider look at the social relationships in Iranian society at that time.
This point is only one of several points that are dealt with in this article
Notes by Jonah Winters:
The most direct relationship the Aqdas has with any previous book is with the Báb's Persian Bayán. The Báb wrote his main book of laws in two languages: a short one in Arabic, and a much longer one in Persian. He left these unfinished, explaining that the One Whom God Will Make Manifest would complete the revelation (see E. G. Browne, A Traveller's Narrative,
353-4 n.4). Though wholly dissimilar in style and even largely in content, the Kitáb-i-Aqdas can be and has been regarded as the completion of the Persian Bayán.
Taherzadeh, in ibid. 278, elaborates on this:
"The laws revealed in the Bayán by the Báb were designed to be short-lived. Some of them were incomplete, being either directly or by implication dependent upon the advent of 'Him Whom God shall make Manifest'. The laws of the Bábí religion were abrogated by the revelation of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. Only a few of the laws given by the Báb were confirmed by Bahá'u'lláh and these were reinstated in that same book. 'Abdu'l-Bahá has declared that those laws of the Báb which were not confirmed in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas are to be considered as abrogated. In another Tablet He states that any law revealed elsewhere in the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, if contrary to the laws of the Aqdas, is invalid. But those which are not contrary, or are not mentioned in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, are valid and binding."
Interestingly, the Guardian writes that Bahá'u'lláh also seems to have left His own book of laws unfinished, waiting for the Will and Testament of Abdu'l-Bahá to complete it. Shoghi Effendi explains that the Aqdas is "inseparable" from Abdu'l-Bahá's Will and Testament. His explanation is worth quoting in full:
"It would, however, be helpful and instructive to bear in mind certain basic principles with reference to the Will and Testament of Abdu'l-Bahá, which, together with the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, constitutes the chief depository wherein are enshrined those priceless elements of that Divine Civilization, the establishment of which is the primary mission of the Bahá'í Faith. A study of the provisions of these sacred documents will reveal the close relationship that exists between them, as well as the identity of purpose and method which they inculcate. Far from regarding their specific provisions as incompatible and contradictory in spirit, every fair-minded inquirer will readily admit that they are not only complementary, but that they mutually confirm one another, and are inseparable parts of one complete unit. A comparison of their contents with the rest of Bahá'í sacred Writings will similarly establish the conformity of whatever they contain with the spirit as well as the letter of the authenticated writings and sayings of Bahá'u'lláh and Abdu'l-Bahá. In fact, he who reads the Aqdas with care and diligence will not find it hard to discover that the Most Holy Book itself anticipates in a number of passages the institutions which Abdu'l-Bahá ordains in His Will. By leaving certain matters unspecified and unregulated in His Book of Laws, Bahá'u'lláh seems to have deliberately left a gap in the general scheme of Bahá'í Dispensation, which the unequivocal provisions of the Master's Will have filled..."
(World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, 3-4)