No man shall attain the shores of the ocean of true understanding except he be detached from all that is in heaven and on earth. They should put their trust in God, and, holding fast unto Him, follow in His way. Then will they be made worthy of the effulgent glories of the sun of divine knowledge and understanding, and become the recipients of a grace that is infinite and unseen, inasmuch as man can never hope to attain unto the knowledge of the All-Glorious, can never quaff from the stream of divine knowledge 4 and wisdom, can never enter the abode of immortality, nor partake of the cup of divine nearness and favour, unless and until he ceases to regard the words and deeds of mortal men as a standard for the true understanding and recognition of God and His Prophets. How many, both high and low, have, at all times, yearningly awaited the advent of the Manifestations of God in the sanctified persons of His chosen Ones. How often have they expected His coming, how frequently have they prayed that the breeze of divine mercy might blow, and the promised Beauty step forth from behind the veil of concealment, and be made manifest to all the world. And whensoever the portals of grace did open, and the clouds of divine bounty did rain upon mankind, and the light of the Unseen did shine above the horizon of celestial might, they all denied Him, and turned away from His face—the face of God Himself.

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In the first case, the article was solicited, accepted, and ultimately rejected under successive editors. In the second case, the submission was judged too lengthy.

This is the first time these texts have been published since their original publication. The Iqan also served to heighten the adventist fervor current in the Babi community, in anticipation of the advent of a messianic figure foretold by the Bab. Ahang Rabbani.

The precise date of this visit will be discussed below. See Denis MacEoin. How will the just be recompensed and the wicked dealt with? These questions typified the paradox precipitated by the advent of the Bab: the apparent contradiction between a realized eschaton prophecy fulfillment and unrealized popular expectations.

Because the Iqan was revealed in direct response to these questions, the book was first known as the Treatise for the Uncle Risala-yi Khal. This assessment appears to be based on E. The izafa Arabic: idafa is a construct--an enclitic to be precise--used for possessive, partitive, and descriptive purposes. He then uses both symbol and referent together, bound grammatically by the Persian construct, to reinforce his exegesis.

What myrtles of unity hath the soil of their hearts produced! What blossoms of true knowledge and wisdom hath their illumined bosoms yielded!

Here, eschatological "earth"--in a variant saying of Jesus--has come to signify knowledge and understanding and, generally, the capacity of the human heart to become angelic.

Rhetorical explanation: Literal texts require little interpretation beyond explication, whereas symbolic texts are not as they appear to be and require interpretation. For the latter approach to be accepted, the reader must be convinced that a text has a symbolic dimension. Trationally, as with Maimonides Guide of the Perplexed II, 29 , the most effective strategy for arguing symbolism, beyond assertion, is to predicate symbolism on figurative language. As tropical discourse, figurative language, by nature, excludes literal interpretation, which would otherwise lead to absurdity.

The danger in treating literal verse symbolically is a tendency to disregard the literal authority of the text, thus leading to antinomianism. Tradition has frequently ignored the opacity of figurative or "ambiguous" verses, and has succumbed to literalist entrapments.

Such non-transparent texts, which are in some sense "dark," may be intertextually interpreted in light of openly metaphorical texts. One example of a rhetorical-style argument is appeal to absurdity. This kind of demonstration points to a logical or phenomenological implausibility were a literal reading of a given text allowed. Following this, the case is made for a figurative reading. The test for absurdity is an attested procedure of Islamic rhetoric, as instanced in the definition of figuration majaz formulated by the rhetorician Ibn Rashiq d.

Heinrichs, Hand of the Northwind, Here, the figurative reading of a verse must not lead to absurdity. Nor should a literal reading. Such an interpretive move often involves the verdict of absurdity after having overruled the surface meaning of anthropomorphisms in scripture. And now, be fair in thy judgment.

Were this verse to have the meaning which men suppose it to have, of what profit, one may ask, could it be to man? Moreover, it is evident and manifest that no such hand as could be seen by human eye could accomplish such deeds, or could possibly be ascribed to the exalted Essence of the one true God. Nay, to acknowledge such a thing is naught but sheer blasphemy, an utter perversion of the truth" ET, Literal interpretations having thus been overruled, a positive interpretation follows: "On the contrary, by the term "earth" is meant the earth of understanding and knowledge, and by the "heavens" the heavens of divine Revelation.

Reflect thou how, in one hand, He hath, by His mighty grasp, turned the earth of knowledge and understanding, previously unfolded, into a mere handful, and, on the other, spread out a new and highly exalted earth in the hearts of men, thus causing the freshest and loveliest blossoms, and the mightiest and loftiest trees to spring forth in the illumined bosom of man. On the surface, this would seem to suggest that anyone with metaphoric competence is spiritually pure.

But at the level of received interpretation, such symbolic exegesis must first disencumber itself of the preponderant weight of centuries of traditional reading and the clerical authority with which such a reading is enforced.

The act of replacing miracle with symbol, and anthropomorphism with metaphor, divests the interpreter of an essentially magical world view. Instead, such a reading places emphasis on ethics and interiority rather than on the miraculous. The reading he offers is an engagement of spiritual law, portrayed as vivifying the visionary landscape of the heart. The reader, open to a new interpretation, will be open to a fresh source of authority. Especially in post-classical works of tafsir, the exegete has a definite agenda.

Interpretation thus becomes the vehicle for propounding that agenda. While the interpretation serves to elucidate the text, the inverse holds true, too. In such a case, exegesis is apology, written in defense of a position held. These principles have more to do with the subject of exegesis than with its procedures. The selective and tendentious use of such authorities is meant to validate what Sunni Islam rejects. According to B.

Walaya Persian: vilayat refers to divine authority, residing in the notion of "Covenant" "The Dangers of Reading," When the twelfth Imam was said to have been occulted in the Islamic year , his absence was reconstituted as a mystical presence, such that the now Hidden Imam was continued to exercise spiritual sovereignty. The Bab eventually claimed to be the "return" of the Hidden Imam.

This is a profound statement. Its implications are far-reaching. Phenomenologically speaking, revelation is somewhat tradition-bound. Despite the historical improbability of a Twelfth Imam, the existence of traditions attesting his occultation and eventual return created a kind of messianic determinism, in which a body of speculation represented as Imami akhbar raised fantastic and thus unrealistic expectations about any future religious renewal.

But the formality had to be taken with the utmost seriousness. For descriptive purposes, how does one systematize this material? Lawson provides a useful summary of the prologues of four such works.

These systematizations, propounded in the tafsir prologues, are illuminating. Hawting and A. Shareef; London and New York: Routledge, It pertains to all people at all times.

The conditions of walaya--of revelation and inspired guidance respectively personified in the Prophet and in his patrilineal successors, the Imams--was set forth in all scriptures and was made obligatory for all nations. Such a textual, or anti-textual argument is not once adduced in the Book of Certitude. There is no taghyir but rather corrupt tafsir. These are also elucidated through metaphorical "linguistic" interpretation al-majaz al-lughawi.

This systematization of Akhbari exegetical principles illuminates the immediate context of the Book of Certitude. The revelation of the Bab simply constitutes the new locus of spiritual authority, an authority-transfer cast in terms of eschatological prerogative. This transfer is legitimated in terms of prophetic "fulfillment. The first is historical and doctrinal.

It is nostalgic and purist. The Imams are revered. Various traditions ascribed to them are adduced as proof texts. This is a patently Akhbari procedure. It was institutionally spent. The Book of Certitude shares Akhbari concerns over authority, but looks ahead in historical time and in sacred time to a post-quranic and post-Imamite Dispensation. Such concerns preoccupied the immediate audience at least. This "code" ramz obviously requires decoding.

Although interpretation is still a human enterprise, the methodological guarantor of accuracy is reliance upon traditions ascribed to the Imams.

In this respect, the sacred text is imbued with the charisma of both the Prophet and the Imams. In this later phase of commentary, it is virtually impossible to distinguish between commentary, text, reader, God, Prophet, and Imam. Such a procedure was effected through Akhbari exegesis, in which the exegesis, invoking the authority of sacred Imami tradition, functionally supersedes the text it is intended to elucidate.

Through the Bab, a new eschatological landscape was outspread, canopied by a new heaven of faith. The Book of Certitude further reified this symbolic universe. In the earliest currents of Islamic consciousness, this honorific was by no means understood uniformly see Yohanan Friedmann, "Finality of Prophethood in Islam," Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam 7 [].

This, obviously, challenged the very foundations of Islam. Affirming that Muhammad was indeed the last prophet within the "Prophetic Cycle" or Adamic Cycle kur-i Adam , a new epoch of human history was said to have commenced with the advent of the Bab. And were they all to proclaim: "I am the Seal of the Prophets," they verily utter but the truth Across the horizon of history this Mediator stands. To this attainment to the presence of the immortal King testify the verses of the Book The one true God is My witness!

And yet, through the mystery of the former verse, they have turned away from the grace promised by the latter To argue the authenticity of a latter-day revelation is quite another. In Sunni Islam, the Mahdi literally, the "Guided One" is a restorer who is to reestablish a just theocracy under Islamic law. The Bab identified with this figure. The translator, Shoghi Effendi, succeeds in capturing a vigorous sense of mission on the verge of disclosure.

Such hints were not missed.





The Kitáb-i-Íqán


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