Research Notes in Shaykhi, Babi and Baha'i Studies,Vol. 2, no. 7 (September 1998)

Dating Baha'u'llah's Book of Certitude

by Ahang Rabbani

As a result of H-Bahai discussions of my paper "Conversion of the Great Uncle of the Bab" the issue came up regarding a letter of the Khal-i Akbar, dated 5 Rajab 1277 A.H. [17 Jan 1861]. In this letter the uncle of the Bab tells his son, the celebrated Vakilu'd-Dawlih, of the news of his visit with Baha'u'llah -- and by extension, the revelation of the Kitab-i Iqan (Baha'u'llah's Book of Certitude).

For the text of this letter I was relying on the version printed in the Khanidan-i Afnan. However since occasionally this book contains minor errors and I wanted to be certain about such an important date, I wrote the World Centre of the Baha'i Faith (in Haifa, Israel) and asked if the original of this letter of the uncle was on file with them.

Through the kindness of the Research Department of the World Center, I received a facsimile of the original letter which I will print in the forthcoming volume, In the Land of Refuge: Two Narratives of Mirza Habib Afnan (Oneworld Press).

The original of this letter clearly indicates its date, 5 Rajab. Therefore we can now be certain that the Kitab-i Iqan was revealed prior to mid January 1861.

In my letter to the World Centre I had asked of both "1280" and "18 years" business mentioned in the Iqan. They have replied that the "1280 years since the manifestation of the Point of Furqan" is not meant as an exact date and is simply a large number giving approximate time-frame. Also about "18 years," one should count 1260 as year 1, then 1277 would be year 18. Therefore the internal evidence of the Iqan also indicates that it was revealed in 1277 A.H, probably in Jamadiyu'th-Thani of that year, or late Dec/early Jan of 1861.

Moreover and thankfully, the Research Dept clarified another point that I had been confused about. I had noted that the Text of Baha'u'llah's Tablet in the Khanidan Afnan addressed to Mirza `Abdu'l-Hamid Shirazi in which the visit of the uncle and the revelation of the Iqan is discussed was very different than the text of the same Tablet in Nuri'd-Din's collection of Tablets.

They noted that my confusion stemmed from the fact the the author of the Khanidan Afnan had misidentified the Tablet that he quotes. The correct recipient of this Tablet should be Ibn Asdaq. The one I had discovered in the Nuri'd-Din's collection is indeed addressed to Mirza `Abdu'l-Hamid. Research Dept notes to their knowledge only these two Tablets of Baha'u'llah discuss the the revelation of the Book of Certitude.

For more on Baha'u'llah's Book of Certitude see Christopher Buck's The Kitab-i Iqan: An Introduction to Baha'u'llah's Book of Certitude Occasional Papers in Shaykhi, Babi and Baha'i Studies, Vol. 2, No. 5 (June, 1998)

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