Questions of Sayyid Muhammad Shirazi
Translations of Shaykhi, Babi and Baha'i Texts, No. 2 (June, 1997)

Denis MacEoin

"Questions of Sayyid Muhammad Shirazi, Uncle of the Bab"
(in reply to which Baha'u'llah Authored the Book of Certitude Kitab-i Iqan)


Questions of Sayyid Muhammad Shirazi, "Khal":

Date: Wed, 25 Jun 1997 15:36:03 -0600
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From: Negar Mottahedeh <motta003@MAROON.TC.UMN.EDU>
Subject: translation request- Iqan
To: Multiple recipients of list H-BAHAI <>

Date: Wed, 25 Jun 1997 21:20:44 +0100 (BST) >
From: (Denis MacEoin)
Subject: Re: translation request- Iqan

>Dear all,

>This is to request from you the favour of a translation of the questions
>asked by the uncle of the Bab to Baha'u'llah that prompted the writing of
>the Iqan. I have seen summaries of the questions in Balyuzy, Buck, and
>Ishraq Khavari, but the original document in Khandan-i Afnan remains
>unavailable. I believe it would be a significant contribution to Iqan
>studies to have the actual questions available in translation. Would that
>be at all possible?



Dear Ismael (and anyone else),

I hope the following somewhat rushed effort gives the gist of the four
questions. I've ignored a few lines at the beginning, which the Bab's uncle
scribbled out. I've gone by the typewritten text, since the handwriting is
not always easy to follow, but I have checked several times against it and
found the printed version accurate. The language is not always clear, but I
think this gives the main points.



One: What was previously believed is that the promised resurrection will
take place in another world. The raising of the dead (hashr wa nashr), the
Bridge (sirat), the accounting of the deeds of all creatures, and the
reward or punishment of those deeds will take place in that world. However,
it is all in this world, and it has taken place. And the days of the
appearance of every manifestation of the truth (or manifestation of God:
mazhar-i haqq) constitute that same day of resurrection for the period
preceding it. In this new revelation, there has been no punishment for
men's deeds. Nay, the rebelliousness and corruption of the people of
tyranny and oppression have increased, even if the real meaning of reward
and punishment is nearness or distance from the divine court. This subject
is the same, regardless of which world it occurs in. The people of truth in
this world, since they exist in God's good pleasure, are in a state of
well-being; but they are outwardly caught in the grip of the people of
oppression, and are troubled by them. The people of oppression, although
they are tormented by being far from the court of God, are outwardly in a
state of comfort, and by reason of their innate ignorance (ghaflati ki
darand), are unaware of that torment. If the requital for men's deeds
(jaza-yi a'mal) and the promised punishment (? the text reads *thawab-i
'iqab-i maw'ud*, which makes imperfect sense and could be in error for
*thawab wa 'iqab-i maw'ud*, meaning the promised reward and punishment)
is this (i.e. as described above), and there is no other world than this one,
where will the oppressed seek vengeance from the one who oppressed him, and
where will the prople of punishment receive their desserts. This would be
nothing but a denial of the promised resurrection. I have not understood
this subject properly, yet it is among the most important of matters to
understand it.

He (Huwa). Two: It has been a matter of belief for all followers of the
Shi'i faith, from the beginning of Islam until now, which no-one has ever
denied, or even doubted, concerning which traditions (ahadith) and prayers
and pilgrimage prayers (ziyarat) have been written by the Imams (ahl-i
'ismat), namely that the Twelfth Imam was born from the womb of his
glorious mother, and that he was outwardly alive in this world and shall
remain alive in it until he appears. This is something which cannot be
denied. And yet, what we are now concerned with does not conform to this. I
seek elucidation of this claim [presumably, that the Hidden Imam appeared
in a different form] so that I may, God willing, attain to complete
certainty (yaqin-i kamil), nay to the essence of certitude (bi-maqam-i 'ayn

Three. The appearance of this new cause is not in conformity or agreement
with what has been understood from the reports and traditions (akhbar wa
ahadith) in the past, nor with what all men have believed. rejects all
traditions of the past, for we cannot interpret away all that the Imams
(ahl-i 'ismat) have said, nor will men's hearts believe in such a thing.
[Preceding unclear: inkar-i ahadith-i sabiq ki namitavan az ahl-i 'ismat
salat Allah 'alayhim rasida jam'an ra ta'wil namudan ham qulub tasdiq
namikunad.] The manner and custom of the pure Imams is to guide and give
direction to men. To interpret their words in such a way as to say they did
not intend the outward meaning is baseless, for it will not prove the cause
of men's guidance, rather it will cause them to be confused. In some
cases,a tradition has come down that is not to be taken literally; but to
interpret all the traditions other than by their outward meaning is in
contradiction to the way in which the Imams guide mankind. I would ask you
to favour me with a clear explanation of this topic, in such a manner that
it will create certainty in men's hearts, and so that no one will be able
to open up a path of doubt.

Four: According to those traditions which have come down to us from the
pure Imams concerning the time of the appearance of the Qa'im, it will be
as if an enemy had raised an army in Syria and went to fight with him at a
place whose name they have specified as being between Syria and Mecca, the
land shall be divided in two. An army of eight hundred thousand shall
descend all together upon the land, except for two men, who shall remain
behind. They shall go to the army of the Qa'im and give him tidings. Then
he (the Qa'im) shall rule and shall make Kufa his capital. The size of his
army shall be so great that they will demolish the mosque of Kufa and shall
build a (new) mosque with one thousand doors. There are many such accounts
in the reliable books of tradition. Yet not one of these things has come to
pass. I beseech you to provide a full explanation of this matter, that it
may be a cause of certainty for my heart, and, God wiling, lead me to
perfect faith.

Persian text published in: Muhammad `Ali Faydi, Khandan-i Afnan(Tehran: MMMA, 1970), facsimile between pp. 40-41

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