Translations of Shaykhi, Babi and Baha'i Texts No. 1 (April, 1997)

Juan R. I. Cole

"Baha'u'llah's `Book of the Tigris' (Sahifih-'i Shattiyyih): Text, Translation,


Date: Mon, 28 Apr 1997 19:26:13 -0400
Reply-To: H-NET List for Bahai Studies
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From: "Juan R. I. Cole"
Subject: Baha'u'llah's "Book of the Tigris"
Comments: cc: Denis.Maceoin@durham.ac.uk
To: Multiple recipients of list H-BAHAI

Here is a translation of a Baghdad-era work by Baha'u'llah entitled
Sahifih-'i Shattiyyih. Sahifih means scroll and is used in the Qur'an to
refer to the books of the biblical patriarchs (a reference to the Torah
scroll no doubt). Shatt can mean river but also can refer directly to the
Tigris river upon which Baghdad is situated. Since there are other more
common words for "river" and we know Baha'u'llah was speaking of the Tigris,
I think he is using it in the latter sense, and so have translated it as
"The Book of the Tigris." The text is from `Abdu'l-Hamid Ishraq-Khavari,
ed., Ma'idih-i Asmani, 4:142-149.

It is not a book, of course, but a short letter. It quotes a Hidden Word,
No. 1 of the Arabic (but with the grammatical difference that the plural
imperative is used, whereas in the text of the Hidden Words we now have the
grammar is singular). My guess is therefore that it was written around 1857
shortly before Baha'u'llah put the Hidden Words into final shape.

This work is the clearest indication I know of Baha'u'llah's self-conception
before about 1859, when he appears to have begun telling people like Fitnih
and Nabil-i Akbar that he was the promised one. Denis MacEoin pointed out
in his 1989 BRISMES article that Baha'u'llah in this work disclaims having
any "Cause" at that point, and my rereading it now in conjunction with my
translation convinces me that Denis is right. He has no "iqbal bar amri,"
is making no claim to have a divine Cause.

This work gives us a humanist Baha'u'llah, who sternly denies being able to
work any miracles, who defers humbly to the Mirrors of the Babi
dispensation, who gives us a catechism that includes belief in God, the Bab,
Quddus, and the "Living Countenance" (Denis thinks this is Azal; I don't
know Babi terminology well enough to have an opinion). Indeed, the argument
seems to be made that just as plagues no longer break out in Iraq every 30
years as they had in past centuries (owing to Ottoman quarantines, by the
way), that after the Bab's death the age of miracles is over with. This is
in turn an announcement of a profound secularization of sorts, isn't it?

This brief letter seems to me proof that Baha'u'llah's "messianic secret"
(for which I have argued) probably should not be dated further back than
about 1859, from which time we begin getting independent eyewitness accounts
of his having privately put forth a claim. In short, it raises the most
acute questions about the nature of the "intimation" Baha'u'llah is said to
have experienced in the Siyah Chal. If one reads the account in Epistle to
the Son of the Wolf carefully, it appears that it consisted more of ilham or
inspiration than of wahy or revelation, and that Baha'u'llah began thinking
of islah or reform of Babism rather than of making any claim of his own. If
in fact the Book of the Tigris post-dates the poetry of the Sulaymaniyyah
period, I probably should retract my messianic reading of the Ode of the
Dove in favor of seeing it as an example of Sufi effusion or ecstatic
enthusiasm (shath).

On the other hand, Baha'u'llah is after all in this letter speaking rather
authoritatively and handing out spiritual advice. If the title "Sahifih"
goes back to the Baghdad period then he is using a word normally employed
for scripture. To put it bluntly, who does he think he is? A sort of Babi
Sufi shaykh? A manifestation of the attributes of Imam Husayn alongside
other Babi manifestations? What is clear is that his self-conception
changed mightily between the early 1850s and the later 1850s.


Juan Cole
Dept. of History
Univ. of Michigan

Date: Sat, 3 May 1997 23:57:32 -0400 Reply-To: H-NET List for Bahai Studies Sender: H-NET List for Bahai Studies From: "Juan R. I. Cole" Subject: Re: Book of the Tigris
Comments: To: SManeck@BERRY.EDU
To: Multiple recipients of list H-BAHAI

Dear John:

Many, many thanks for all these good questions. I don't have answers to all of them, but let me take some stabs:

> to what alleged miracles is Baha'u'llah referring in the
>first paragraph? Do accounts of these alleged miracles
>exist? Why would miracles be falsely attributed to
>Baha'u'llah and by whom?

We do not have, or at least I do not have, any contextualizing memoirs or chronicles from the 1850s that would make clear exactly what is going on here. But apparently there were, as Tony says, Babis who had a special feeling for Baha'u'llah and who attributed miracles (mu`jizAt) to him. In Iranian folk religion miracles were attributed to all sorts of people, including great Shi`ite clerics, so this is not strange. Baha'u'llah denies that he can perform miracles, and says the days of miracles are past.

> Third, I do not understand Baha'u'llah's meaning when he
>> Aside from revealing
>> verses, he {the Bab - JD} did not affirm anything.
The word in Arabic for verses is ayAt, which is the same word used for "signs," (i.e. miracles). I think Baha'u'llah is saying that the Bab did not claim to perform miracles, only to reveal verses.

> Fourth, do the parentheses and Qur'anic citations which
>appear in the translation form part of the original work of

No, these are my additions and would be in footnotes in a printed text. The Book of the Tigris is in Persian, so the Qur'an citations, in Arabic, are quite conspicuous. However, Baha'u'llah notes that he does not have a Qur'an at hand to check the quotations, so he just paraphrases from memory.
In fact, some of these "verses" are pretty hard to identify with anything in the Qur'an, but I've given the best approximations I could. Inexact quotation of the Qur'an was far more common in Muslim works than is usually recognized. What is interesting here is that Baha'u'llah denies any kind of supernatural knowledge that would enable him to quote correctly in the absence of the text. Being a noble rather than a cleric, he had not memorized the Qur'an in a rigorous way, which is why he could only paraphrase.

> Fifth, when you translate "God is he that created you,
>then he provided for you"=97do you not then see?
>(Qur=92an 30:39)", my copy of Yusuf Ali's translation of
>the Qur'an has this as Sura 30:40, not 30:39. The same is
>the case in my copy of Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall's
>translation. However, in Richard Bell's 1937 translation,
>the above verse in listed as 30:39, while what appears as
>30:39 in Ali and Pickthall appears as 30:40 in Bell. There
>are obviously differing traditions regarding verse arrangements
>within Suras, Could you please explain a little?

I gave the citations according to the Fluegel edition, which uses the Egyptian numbering system. Yusuf `Ali uses a different numbering system common in South Asia. Some Islamicists cite both numbering systems like this: 30:39/40. But I think it is inelegant and confusing, and that it is better simply to announce that you are using the Fluegel/Egyptian numbering.

> Sixth, when B writes
>> Like this river, events=
>> flow
>> in their own station. But if something appears that is contrary to that
>> destiny, then conflict arises in the world. If you can grasp this abstruse
>> and recondite enigma, which is more hidden than any other secret, you will
>> be able to dispense with the question you posed, and with all such questions
>> in the future.
> Do we know what is the question posed by Javad which
>Baha'u'llah is responding to here?

No. This Tablet as it is reproduced by Ishraq-Khavari seems to me to start awfully abruptly, and it is possible that there is a longer version somewhere that includes an introductory paragraph quoting back the question.
If such a text exists, it would be in Iranian manuscript repositories and/or at the Baha'i World Center archives, but I have not seen such a thing.

> It is interesting to analogize the river, which can only
>flow downhill, to increasing entropy. What, then, is it
>which could be "contrary to that destiny"? Why is this an
>abstruse and recondite enigma? Is this some obscure
>allusion to the power of revelation to bring about a new
>creation and a restoration of a low-entropy condition?

The Mesopotamian river valley, unlike that in Egypt, is especially given to *violent* floods, not the relatively gentle inundation common in the Nile before the Aswan dam. Iraq is arid apart from the river valley, and Baha'u'llah is struck at the contradiction that the annual floods are very destructive on the one hand, but irrigate otherwise barren land on the other. Obviously, new religions are also characterized by this tendency to destroy old edifices but to make new spaces green.

> B writes:
>> The winds of yearning begin gusting over the flooded river of essence that
>> flows from the north of unity.
> Why is north associated with unity? Is this just the
>general source of wind direction in Iran where Baha'u'llah
>lived? Or is there a symbology here connecting compass
>directions with other ideas?

Yes, apparently the North wind is a symbol in Baha'u'llah's works for the wafting of the divine breezes. The tib ash-shamAl or north wind also figures at the beginning of the Ode of the Dove. There is a symbology in Islamic mysticism of directions, and Baha'u'llah is probably drawing on it, but I don't have the citations at hand.

> Next,
>> But what shall I say?
>> I make no claim to a Cause. The intensity of the sorrow and grief that have
>> befallen me during these days has left me sorely tried between the Gog of
>> silence and the Magog of speech. I beseech God to send down an Alexander
>> who will erect a protecting wall. Hidden allusions have been concealed in
>> these phrases and sacred letters have been treasured up in these words.
> Juan, any comment on the "hidden allusions" B is talking
>about here?

Maybe he is alluding to the grief Azal and other fellow Babis have given him, despite the apparent collegiality among Babi Mirrors of the time. Your guess is as good as mine.

What's the connection between Alexander and a
>protecting wall?

The Islamic lore is that Gog and Magog were inner Asian hordes against whom Alexander built a protecting wall.

>> No one besides
>> God has any goal nor any end.
> I do not understand what this means. Obviously it does not
>mean that only God is subjectively capable of intending and
>holding up a goal. Does it therefore mean, more literally,
>"No one {in objective reality} has any goal nor any end other than the goal of
>{union with, confrontation with} God?" Could you clarify what you think the
>meaning is here?

Well, it could mean that no one has any goals that are *independent* of God's. This would translate in Aristotelian terms that he is the final cause of all things.

>> Possess a pure, kindly and radiant heart, that yours may be a sovereignty
>> ancient, imperishable and everlasting. ... This is a
>light that is not extinguished, a treasure that is not
>> exhausted, a raiment that does not wear out, and a splendor over which no
>> curtain is drawn. By it many are led astray whereas others are guided.
> How could "Possess a pure, kindly and radiant heart" could
>lead someone astray? They might ignore it, but it's hard
>to see how one could be led astray by it unless the
>kindliness and radiance being manifested were dishonest
>and a sham.

Again, your guess is as good as mine. But I'd guess that the *process* of *trying* to have a pure, kindly, and radiant heart is fraught with the dangers of spiritual pride and a feeling that you are infallible and others are lesser than you.

>> I have found nothing more
>> incontrovertible than this phrase, otherwise I would have shared it with
>> you.
> An interesting personal statement which indicates that B
>is an active comparer of pieces of wisdom, a searcher
>rather than just a kind of always passive blackboard on
>which God writes His Words.

>> With ears of sapphire listen to what has appeared
>> therefrom, in regard to the question you posed.
> Ears of sapphire? What is the connection between sapphire
>and ears or hearing?

This is part of a series of metaphors, in which legs are of iron, ears are of sapphire, etc. The reference to legs of iron may be to the Book of Revelation (this recurs in the Jawahir al-Asrar or Gems of the Mysteries, with an explicit quote from that book). I don't think the connection is intrinsic--it is just aesthetic.

Many, many thanks, again, for those thought-provoking questions and for such a close reading of the text.

Juan Cole
U of Michigan

References for Sahifih-'i Shattiyyih: Shoghi Effendi (Rabbani), God Passes By (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1970), pp. 141; Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Baha'u'llah 4 vols. (Oxford: George Ronald, 1976-1987), 1:105-108; `Abdu'l-Hamid Ishraq-Khavari, Ganj-i Shayigan (Tehran: MMMA, 124 B.E.), pp. 24-25.

Appendix added 8-22-2000

From: Juan Cole
List Editor: Negar Mottahedeh
Editor's Subject: Baha'u'llah's *Book of the River*
Author's Subject: Baha'u'llah's *Book of the River*
Date Written: Wed, Apr 5, 2000, 11:49 AM
Date Posted: Wed, 5 Apr 2000 10:58:15 -0400

Thanks to the kindness of one of the subscribers, I have now had a chance to read Nader Saiedi's article, "Concealment and Revelation in Baha'u'llah's Book of the River," in the *Journal of Baha'i Studies* vol. 9, no. 3 (1999):25-56 .

The article is a study of Baha'u'llah's "Sahifih-'i Shattiyyih" or Book of the River. On one level, I read it with great pleasure, and am glad to see that Saiedi is pursuing such research and writing, which benefits us all.

The article, of course, consists in part in a polemic with my own translation and comments on this piece, posted here on H-Bahai and then on the Web Site at /~bahai/trans/shatt.htm

Several H-Bahai subscribers had earlier asked about my reactions to the piece. I fear I don't have many, and will probably exhaust them in this message. The article is simply not written within the same universe of discourse as I and most other academics operate in. It consists of three main propositions:

1) that all of Baha'u'llah's writings, earlier and later "employ exactly the same language and and express exactly the same message" (p. 29); and that "Babi" language is irrelevant to understanding the Baha'i faith.

2) That I have misread the Sahifih on some key points and that my dating of it is unsound

3) That Baha'u'llah's later writings of the Akka period can be used to demonstrate the complete continuity and unchanging character of his revelation right from 1852 all the way to 1892; and (implicitly) that historical contextualization is not a useful approach to studying Baha'u'llah.

The first of these convictions, which is stated over and over again throughout the article, is a theological doctrine. I personally find it 'fundamentalist' in its tone and implications. The author is welcome to have whatever theology he likes, of course, but it is impossible for me to engage him on that level since my own premises and theology are completely different. I believe that it is obvious that from the 1830s through 1863 Baha'u'llah's self-understanding went through a number of important changes. It also seems obvious to me that you need to understand Babi terminology to understand Baha'u'llah's writings of the 1850s.

The third of these convictions is also tinged with a fundamentalist theology. It is contrary to basic academic methodology in textual study and history. You can't prove the meaning of an early text by reference to a very late text. You need to look at an early text within its own historical context if you are to understand it.

I was very disappointed that Saiedi has not used Tarikh-i Zuhur al-Haqq vol. 4, which is on the Web, to examine the 1850s. Nor does he use the major Babi chronicle of the 1850s, Kitab-i Nuqtat al-Kaf. He does not reference MacEoin's important articles on this period, which is in my view a major lapse in academic protocol, since even if you don't agree with a literature you have to cite it and acknowledge that you have engaged with it. Aside from the Sahifih, Saiedi does not systematically analyze any other writings that could be dated to the early to mid-1850s, such as the Qasidih-'i Varqa'iyyih nor my chapter on it in SBBH 2. Although he looks briefly at The Tablet of All Food (1853), he is solely interested in disproving any reference to Azal (an enterprise that seems Quixotic since Baha'u'llah acknowledges having supported Azal in the 1850s). The correct way to get at the meaning of the Sahifih is to look at it in the context of the mid-1850s, which Saiedi never does.

Saiedi's second major point is the only one on which I think I can have at all a fruitful discussion with him, since it is textual rather than theological. What struck me about the Sahifih was that its tone is demonstrably different from Baha'u'llah's later writings, showing great humility and deference to others in the Babi hierarchy. He denies working miracles but admits that the Mirrors of the Bab have done so. Now, we know that among those recognized as a Mirror in the early 1850s was Subh-i Azal; `Azim was another. In the context of the Babi community in the 1850s, to deny one's own miracle-working and to admit that of the Mirrors could only have been read as an assertion of lower rank. Even the implication that he was not a Mirror is of that tenor. Saiedi completely sidesteps these issues with a lot of hand-waving and sleight of hand, trying to focus on other things.

Saiedi alleges that my dating of the Sahifih to about 1857 is unsound. I was the first to admit that it is speculative. But he has not understood the grounds upon which it is based. In the Sahifih, Baha'u'llah quotes one of the Hidden Words, but with a grammatical difference from the received text. My hypothesis is that Baha'u'llah was engaged in writing the Hidden Words on his return from Kurdistan to Baghdad in 1856, finishing them and 'publishing' them in 1858. It therefore seems likely to me that his quotation of an alternative version of one of the Hidden Words indicates that he was writing this tablet before the latter had been given final form, and therefore before 1858. Otherwise, it would be extremely odd if he should have published the Hidden Words in 1858 in the current form but gone on to misquote himself later on. This is the scenario, however, that Saiedi proposes.

The opening passage about how Baha'u'llah was not even a Mirror and hadn't worked any miracles, unlike the Mirrors, is enough to substantiate my argument that this tablet is different in tone from later works and shows us an earlier stage in Baha'u'llah's evolving self-conception. In addition, at one point Baha'u'llah says, "Wa lakin, chih guyam, kih hich iqbal bi amri nadaram." I pointed out that Denis MacEoin read this phrase as "But what shall I say, I make no claim to a Cause," and this seemed to me a good reading as well.

Saiedi insists that hich iqbal bi amri dashtan is an idiom meaning that he is disinclined to say anything. Well, Persian is full of idioms that wouldn't make sense if understood literally, and idioms are notoriously the bane of any translator of Persian by a non-native speaker. If you run into one and don't recognize it as such and it isn't in the major dictionaries or lexicons, then of course you can mistakenly read it at face value. (Steingass doesn't give this one under iqba:l). So, Saiedi may be right about this. However, he does not cite any authority for iqbal bi amri dashtan being an idiom with a rigidly defined meaning holding good over a century and a half. While he quotes other passages with the word 'iqbal' in them, that is fairly useless since the meaning of the *word* isn't in doubt, the question is whether the *phrase* is an idiom. Until some sort of proof of the latter being true is offered (calling Frank Lewis, calling Frank Lewis), it seems to me that MacEoin's reading cannot be dismissed out of hand. For a Babi audience, expecting He whom God shall make manifest, the word "Amr" certainly would have tended to invoke 'divine Cause', and to advance (iqbal dashtan [=iqba:l namudan?]) toward an Amr might well signify to put forward a Claim to a Cause in mid-19th century Babi Persian.

The main thing is that my argument does not hang solely on this phrase, and so even if Saiedi's reading could be demonstrated to be the only correct one, it would not affect its main outlines.

Saiedi appends his own translation of the Sahifih, but I did not receive a copy of it, only of the article, and so have not been able to compare it to my own. He says that INBA-PP 57:10-18 is a better copy of the work than the one published by Ishraq-Khavari, upon which I based my translation. That may well be so. But at the time I did not have access to that volume (indeed, almost no one did). It is now on the Web thanks to Rob Stauffer and me (something Saiedi does not share with his JBS audience, who otherwise may as well be told that a better copy exists on the moon).

Aside from the minor textual points, the discourse of this article is largely opaque and impenetrable to *academic* argument, full of a priori faith-assertions that cannot be controverted. It has nothing to do with my own attempt to recover the Mirza Husayn `Ali Nuri Baha'u'llah of history through academic methodology.

On the other hand, the close textual work needed to examine the premises of MacEoin and myself, the process of translation and retranslation, the introduction of further texts and references, are all advances in scholarship, and I am deeply indebted to Saiedi for those advances, which can be incorporated into further work on the subject by myself and others. There are zero sum games, in which if one person gains another loses. But the Republic of Letters is not a zero sum game; therein, any time anyone makes an advance, we all benefit, even those whose work has been improved on.


Juan Cole

From: Juan Cole <jrcole@umich.edu>
List Editor: Negar Mottahedeh <nnmottah@cc.owu.edu>
Editor's Subject: Book of the River
Author's Subject: H-Bahai Book of the River
Date Written: Wed, Apr 5, 2000, 6:14 PM
Date Posted: Wed, 5 Apr 2000 20:43:31 -0400

Exception has been taken to my characterization of the recent JBS article
on the Book of the River as fundamentalist.  I think it is a wonderful
aspect of H-Bahai that fundamentalist and traditionalist points of view are
often represented here alongside liberal and academic ones.

All I was saying was that I do not see how I can engage such an argument
fruitfully on the ground of academic scholarship about the evolution of a
textual corpus.  It is being asserted in JBS that there *is no* evolution
in the textual corpus.  It is all of one piece.  Such a stance does not
leave any room for persons with my views to engage it.  If my demonstration
that the Book of the River clearly has features peculiar to the 1850s is
dismissed out of hand on the basis of a priori theological commitments,
then what reasoned, evidentiary reply can I give?  My reasoning and
evidence have already been ruled out of court.  I personally believe that
my reasoning and evidence would convince an audience of other academics, or
at least, if they rejected either they would do so on the basis that the
specific evidence or reasoning about it is faulty.  They would not say that
the whole enterprise is ruled out of court from the very beginning.

An analogy might help.  John Dominic Crossan is only the latest in a long
string of biblical scholars who have sought the historical Jesus.
Crossan's technique in studying the evolution of Jesus and of the texts
about him is almost archeological, and he is someone I admire and try to
emulate.  Fundamentalist Christians dismiss Crossan's entire enterprise.
Jesus, they say, did not change over time (being God and all), and nor did
the textual corpus about him (being divinely revealed scripture).

On recent evangelical reviewer wrote,

"It was Holy Thursday. It seemed the appropriate question: "Professor
Crossan, the Jesus Seminar just announced its conclusions on the
resurrection. The seminar, of which you are a member, has concluded that
Jesus didn't really rise from the dead. What's up with that?" Or words to
that effect. I went to hear John Dominic Crossan, professor at DePaul
University and the author of many books on the historical Jesus, including
Who Killed Jesus? Exposing the Roots of Anti-Semitism in the Gospel Story
of the Death of Jesus, with all the conservative evangelical skepticism I
could muster. To me, Crossan and the Jesus Seminar, a group of scholars
whose controversial pronouncements on the historical realities of Jesus
have angered many, are the pariahs of biblical scholarship."  See

And, I think we know who are the pariahs of Baha'i scholarship, and why
some people think so.  It is simply that the analogues of evangelicals and
fundamentalists among the Baha'is for some reason do not like to admit that
that is what they are, in contrast with the situation in Christianity.
(I'd be glad to call them by some other name if only they would designate
one;  "Baha'is" tout court is unacceptable because it concedes far too much
to a particularistic point of view;  Christian fundamentalists would also
love to have a monopoly on the term "Christian" for themselves).

But here is what the JBS article alleged:

"it can be demonstrated that Baha'u'llah's early texts are in perfect
harmony with his later ones" (p. 27)

"Moreover, these early writings of Baha'u'llah clearly show that the
incomparable author of those texts claims the highest possible spiritual
station for himself."

"the rationalists' materialistic deductions are based on their forgetting
the miraculous nature of all reality." (p. 31)

"Baha'u'llah's reference in the Book of the River to the "Living
Countenance" (Tal`at-i Hayy) is a reference to none other than himself."
P. 46

"These passages are just a few of the numerous statements of Baha'u'llah
that affirm the reality of his concealed revelation in the year nine . . .
In conclusion, all the evidence in so many ways confirms that the standard
Baha'i conception of the Siyah-Chal and the Baghdad period as a time
characterized by both concealment and revelation is the only conception
which is faithful to all the writings of Baha'u'llah himself." (p. 55).

All that I said is that these faith-assertions are not open to reasoned
rebuttal.  I personally believe that all of them are incorrect at least in
the bald way they are stated.  But I cannot use academic tools to disprove
them in an academic dialogue, because nothing I said would be admitted as
convincing evidence by my interlocutor.

My position, on the other hand, is based on evidence.  The author actually
appears to criticize me for acknowledging that there is some evidence for
Baha'u'llah privately making a claim from about 1859 in Baghdad (in the
memoirs of Fitnih and Nabil-i Akbar Qa'ini), which changed how I thought of
things.  But to my mind this change of opinion on my part was virtuous;  I
yielded to evidence.  If anyone wants me to conclude that Baha'u'llah was
making claims before 1859, all they have to do is present to me evidence as
good as Fitnih's memoirs.  The JBS author hasn't done that.  He has spent a
lot of time talking about books and tablets written in the 1860s or even
the 1880s.  I have read those works too.  They aren't evidence for

My debate with Denis MacEoin was instanced.  As I read Denis (and I may
have been being hard on him because I did not know at the time that he left
the faith because its leaders were mean to him), he was saying that only
atheists or agnostics could possibly do good academic scholarship on
religion. (There is a debate on this sort of issue in the current Journal
of the American Academy of Religion). My point there was simply that
believers should not be excluded a priori from participation in academic
discourse if they are so minded.  Belief does not rule out good academic
work, provided that the rules for producing good academic work (openness to
evidence, ability to think historically and contextually, etc.) are
followed.  After all, Crossan is a believer (a Roman Catholic priest, last
I knew); and I consider myself a believing Baha'i.  I was not saying that
believers who *reject* the rules of academic discourse are nevertheless
engaged in an academic exercise.  When I wrote what I wrote in response to
Denis, I had John Walbridge, Abbas Amanat, Jackson Armstrong-Ingram, Moojan
Momen, and Peter Smith in mind.  I didn't have Adib Taherzadeh or his
latter-day followers in mind.

As for relativism, that is an interesting possible debate.  Would [SP]
advocate that astrologers be given equal time in the *American
Scientific* and would he accede to demands that he debate them in academic
journals about his mistaken view of the stars?

cheers   Juan Cole

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