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Kitābu ‘r-Rushd wa ‘l-Hidāyat

translation by W. Ivanow (extracted from Studies in Early Persian Ismailism)


Know, - may God have mercy on thee! – that the “name (of) Allāh” is (in Arabic) written with the help of seven letters , from which fourteen (others) are derived.  (Thus) three group of seven (tasābīʿ) are again formed, because a name and a meaning (maʿnā) co-exist with everything.  In the same way (the words) “tongue (and) ear” are (together) composed of seven letters from which fourteen others can be derived.  (Thus) these also consist of groups of seven, and the tongue and ear share between themselves all human speech.

The first words of the Coran are “in the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.”  These words, in Arabic, Bismi’l-lāh, are written (with the help of) seven letters, from which twelve others can be derived.  These are followed by the twelve letters (of the end of the phrase), the words ar-Raḥmān ar-Raḥīm.  (And the first) chapter (of the Coran), entitled al-Ḥamd, is composed of seven verses.  The seven letters of the Bismi’l-lāh allegorically stand for the seven Nātiqs, great Prophets, and from these are derived twelve letters which symbolize the fact that every Nātiq is followed by twelve naqībs, or “headmen.”  Then the twelve letters (composing the words) ar-Raḥmān ar-Raḥīm, with the nineteen other letters which are derived from these, symbolize the fact that from the Nātiqs are derived the Imams, seven after each of them, with twelve ḥujjats, thus making nineteen altogether.

The seven verses which form the chapter al-Ḥamd stand allegorically for the seven degrees (i.e. basic principles) of the religion (marātibu’d-dīn as-sabʿ).  (Just as) the chapter al-Ḥamd opens the book of God, so the “degrees of religion” open the door of knowledge of the religion of God.

There are letters in the Coran, standing at the beginning of certain sūras (used in their original value, not in numerical capacity).  They at first appear to be meaningless (just as those at) the beginning of the chapter al-Baqar (ii), or in others.  The letter alif allegorizes the Nātiq, and lām stands for the Waṣī, while mīm symbolizes the Imam.  This is what the letters a-l-m at its beginning stand for.

At the beginning of the chapter al-Aʿrāf (vii) there stands the group a-l-m-ṣ.  Here the letter alif symbolizes the Nātiq, lām – the Waṣī, mīm – the Mutimm Imām, and ṣad – the ḥujjat of the Imam.   At the beginning of the chapter Yūnus (x) there stands the group a-l-r in which alif refers to the Nātiq, lām to the Waṣī, while symbolizes the Mutimm Imam.  The same applies (to other places) where appears in the beginning of the chapter.  In the chapter ar-Raʿd (xiii) there stands at the beginning a-l-m-r ….

…. because both the diacritical dots which appear above the letter q are apparent, and also because qāf and nūn symbolize the Nātiqs and Imams.  The single dot which is place above the letter n, nūn, is similar to the true believer (mu’min) because he openly professes only the Walī-ship (walāyat) of ʿAlī, which implies the plain aspect of the knowledge of the Imam.  He does not, however, discuss (in public) anything connected with the esoteric wisdom of the Imam (bāṭin ʿilmi-hi).  Likewise, the diacritical dot above its apparent bearer (fawq ẓāhiri-hā) has as its position (mustaqarru-hā) the letter nūn, symbolizing esoteric wisdom, which is concealed, - such is its symbol.  When the five diacritical dots (ʿujmāt) come together, and are added to the fourteen letters, the total thus becomes nineteen, and this forms yet another symbol for those nineteen, namely the seven Imams and twelve ḥujjats.

The number of chapters of the Coran is 114, which is symbolical.  If this number is divided…. the number testify the nineteen parts, and their beginning…. the number testify the other.  This (refers) to the Mutimm Imams and twelve ḥujjats, because between the appearance of each two successive Nātiqs it is they who fulfill their mission (maqāmātu-hum).  The period of time (waqt) between Muḥammad and the Mahdī is the “sixth time” (al-waqt as-sādis).   Muḥammad is the sixth Nātiq, the Coran was revealed to him, and the number of its chapters refers to the six periods (al-awqāt as-sitta) between the seven Nātiqs, seven Imams, and twelve ḥujjats.  There is another symbol contained in the chapters of the Coran, namely that of the seven Mutimm Imams between every two successive Nātiqs.

Similarly, with regard to the Coran, the first chapter symbolizes Muḥammad, because it was he would delivered it, and after it, continuing the chapters by seven, we find (each seventh of) them containing the mention of Muḥammad, in a like manner, in each seven, to the end of the Coran.  At the same time (each group of) seven chapters, by their number, symbolize every complete group of seven Mutimms between each two Nātiqs.  They refer in their contents to the Seventh of the Nātiqs who is due to come by the commandment of God, and the order that is going to be fulfilled (amr ḥādith).  In every seven chapters in which there is a mention of (any) commandment and order to be fulfilled (amr ḥādith) there is an indication of the Nātiq who is to come after Muḥammad (ṣlʿm), as well as a reference to and mention of Muḥammad (ṣlʿm wa āli-hi).  This is because it also refers to his mission (maqām) and the missions of those Nātiqs who came before him, as also to the Nātiq who (is to come) after him, his descendant, and seven Imams, also from his progeny, just as the Imams between the Nātiqs who..

…. the Coran is his book which he preached and called humanity to recognize himself and those (Prophets) who came before him and are to come after him.  Thus the proof contained in the number refers to him.  It (the Coran) therefore opens with his (ṣlʿm) mention.  The first chapter, al-Ḥamd, alludes to Muḥammad because it is called Ummu’l-Kitāb which was revealed to him.  And what alludes to Muḥammad, at the same time alludes to the Prophets who came before him.  Then there are six chapters, the first of them being al-Baqar (ii), and the seventh al-Anfāl (viii), which mentions the obligatoriness of the (rules concerning the division of) booties.  This symbolizes the farḍ, commandment of God concerning the Seven Mutimms, by its position as the seventh, and the Seventh of the Nātiqs by the reference to the commandment of God which it contains, as he is bound to come by the unalterable command.

Then a new group (of seven) begins after the chapter al-Anfāl , which is followed by the chapter al-Barā’at (ix).  It opens with the words “An immunity from God and His apostle….” which implies Muḥammad (ṣlʿm).  After it  there come six chapters and the seventh is an-Naḥl (xvi), which opens with “God’s bidding will come, seek not then to hasten it on.”  This alludes to all seven Mutimms, by its number, and also to the Seventh of the Nātiqs, because it refers to the “command of God” which is to come, “do not seek to hasten it,” and this means the time of his manifestation (waqt ẓuhūri-hi).

A new group begins after the chapter an-Naḥl (xvi), which is followed by “Banū Isrā’il” (xvii), which opens with “Praises be to Him who took His slave a journey by nighth….”, and this refers to Muḥammad.  After this chapter there are six more, and the seventh is the chapter an-Nūr (xxiv) which opens with “A chapter which We have sent down and determined…” This refers to the seven Mutimms, and also to the seventh of the Nātiqs in what it contains concerning the mention of the impending punishment and the victory (or: bliss).

Then begins a new group, after the chapter an-Nūr, which is followed by the chapter al-Furqān (xxv), which opens with “Blessed be He who sent down the Furqān to His slave that he might be unto the world a warner…” By this Muḥammad is meant.  After this chapter there follows six others, and the seventh is al-Jazar (xxxii) in which the Resurrection is mentioned.  It refers to all the seven Mutimms by its number, and also to the Seventh of the Nātiqs by its reference to the Resurrection.

After it a new group of seven begins, starting with the chapter al-Aḥzāb (xxxiii) which opens with “O thou Prophet! fear God….” This refers to Muḥammad (ṣlʿm).  After this sūra there are six more, and the seventh is al-Mu’min (xl).  It is the first of the chapters at the beginning of which the letters ḥ-m appear, al-ḥawāmīm.  It contains the mention of the “day of cry of despair,” the Black Day, the words such as these: “and warn them of the day when hearts are chocking in the gullets” (xl, 18), and all this refers to the time of the manifestation of the seven Mutimms, and thus also refers to the Sevenths (of the Nātiqs).  It is followed by the chapter (xli) Ḥ. M as-Sajdat, at the beginning of which (v. 2) there is “a book whose signs are detailed, an Arabic Qur’ān…” The implications of the words “Qur’ān,” or “Book,” are that it comes from the Arab Nātiq.  (The words) “its signs are detailed, the Arabic Qur’ān for the people…” mean that the degrees (marātib), i.e. sequence (?) of the Imams from his descendants have been determined.  “The Arabic Qur’ān to the people who know,” i.e. the people who know the foundations of the commandments of God concerning the Imams after His Apostles.  Then (God) adds (verse 3) “a herald of good tidings and a warner,” i.e. one Imam after another, preaching and warning.  The ordinary idea (ẓāhir) of the Coran is that it is the Book which was sent down to Muḥammad.  It is said in it (xli, 43) “naught is said to thee but was said to the apostles before thee.”  This is a reference to Muḥammad, and an address to him.  It is also said in it (xli, 25): “those who do not believe do not listen to this Qur’ān,” which is exclusively associated with this particular Apostle of God.

Then after the chapter Ḥ. M. as-Sajda there are six others, and the seventh is al-Fatḥ (xlviii), which opens with “verily, we have given thee a glorious victory” – verily God will give victory (or: bliss) to the believers by the manifestation of the Seventh of the Nātiqs, and also to the progeny (ahl bayt) of the Apostle of God (ṣlʿm wa āli-hi).

Then begins a new group of seven after this chapter which is followed by al-Ḥajarāt (xlix).  It opens with  “O ye who believe ! do not anticipate God and His Apostle.”  The latter is Muḥammad.  After this sūra there follow six chapters, and the seventh is al-Wāqiʿa (lvi) with what is mentioned in connection with its advent (i.e. of the Resurrection), and this implies the time (waqt) of the manifestation of the Seventh of the Nātiqs.

Then begin a new group of seven chapters, with al-Ḥadīd (lvii) following the preceding sūra.  It is stated in it (verse 9): “He is it who sends down upon His slave manifest signs,” and this refers to Muḥammad.  And it is stated in it also (verse 28): “O ye who believe, fear God and believe in His Apostle.  He will give you two shares of His mercy.” The Apostle, referred to here, is Muḥammad.  The words “two shares” promised to those who believe in Muḥammad (mean) that God sent them two Nātiqs from His apostles, because “mercy” (raḥmat) in ta’wīl denotes the apostles (rusul).  Then Muḥammad is the Apostle of God, and the second Nātiq (who is to come) from his progeny, is al-Mahdī, the Seventh of the Nātiqs.  Similarly, “two shares of mercy” may also mean two doses, lots, etc., because the word kifl, share, denotes also portion, part.  “And He will make a light for you to walk in” (verse 28) refers to the light of the true esoteric religion (nūru’d-daʿwati’l-ḥaqqi’l-bāṭin), and the covenant to which they call the people, as has been mentioned, commented upon, and explained above.  “And He will forgive you” (v. 28) means: by the covenants which will purify you.  “And God is forgiving, merciful” (end of verse 28) – the meaning was explained above.

Then, after the chapter al-Ḥadīd, there follow six sūras, and the seventh is at-Taghābun (lxiv).  The day of taghābun, “cheating,” is the Day of the Resurrection.  This chapter, by its number, alludes to the seven Mutimms, and to the Seventh of the Nātiqs (because) Resurrection is mentioned in it.  After this chapter follows aṭ-Ṭalāq (lxv), which opens with: “O thou Prophet! when you divorce women, then divorce them at their term.” (Thus) Muḥammad is mentioned in it.

After it there follow six chapters, and the seventh is al-Jinn (lxxii), in which are found the words (v. 25-26): “until when they see what they are threatened with, then shall they surely know who is most weak at helping and fewest in numbers.  Say, I know not if what ye are threatened with be nigh, or if my Lord will set for it a term.” The words “what you are threatened with” imply the time (waqt) of the manifestation of the Seventh of the Nātiqs, - this is the “Hour” (as-Sāʿat, xlii, 16): “and what shall make thee know whether haply the Hour is nigh?” The chapter al-Jinn, by its number, alludes to the seven Mutimms, and to the Seventh of the Nātiqs by references contained in it.  It is followed by the chapter al-Muzammil (lxxiii).  This name is addressed to Muḥammad (ṣlʿm).

After it there come six sūras, and the seventh is ʿAbbasa wa tawallā (lxxx). It contains the words (v. 33): “but when the stunning noise shall come” which refer to the time (waqt) of the manifestation of the Seventh of the Nātiqs.  It (thus) by its number alludes to the seven Mutimms, and, by a reference to the “stunning noise,” to the Seventh of the Nātiqs, which is the period of the ẓuhūr.

After it comes the chapters “Idhā’sh-shamsu kuwwirat” (lxxxi).  The sun is the symbol of the Nātiq, i.e. Muḥammad.  This chapter is followed by six more (and the seventh is) al-Ghāshiya (lxxxviii), which opens with “Has there come to thee the story of the overwhelming?”, which means the time (waqt) of the manifestation of the Seventh of the Nātiqs.  By its number it alludes to all seven Mutimms, and by the mention of the Resurrection alludes to the Seventh of the Nātiqs.

Then follows the chapter al-Fajar (lxxxix) in which Muḥammad is directly addressed in the words verse 5): “Hast thou not seen how thy Lord did with ʿĀd?” The dawn (fajar) is the symbol of the Nātiq.  This sūra (thus) refers to Muḥammad.  It is followed by six other chapters, and the seventh is (the one which opens with): Iqra’ bi-smi Rabbi-ka (xcvi), “Recite in the name of thy Lord who created man from congealed blood”.  It thus opens with a commandment and order, the words “recite, etc.” By its number it alludes to all the Mutimms, and refers to the Seventh of the Nātiqs by the implication of the commandment, and the order which is to be fulfilled.

It is followed by the sūra which opens with the words (xcvii): Innā anzalnā-hu fī laylati’l-qadr, i.e. “Verily, We sent it down on the Night of Power.  And what shall make thee know what the Night of Power is?” This is what was revealed to Muḥammad (ṣlʿm).  After it there follow six chapters, and the seventh is al-Ḥuṭmat (civ) in which (verse 6) it is said: “(it is) the fire of God kindled, which rises above the hearts.” This refers to the time (waqt) of the manifestation of the Seventh of Nātiqs which is implied in the reference to the ḥuṭma, “devouring fire,” associated with his advent.

Then follows the chapter al-Fīl (cv), which opens with the words: “Hast thou not seen what they Lord did with the people of the elephant?” This is a direct address to Muḥammad (ṣlʿm).  After this there follow six chapters, and the seventh is al-Ikhlāṣ (cxii) (opening with): “Say: He, God, is one.” It is, as they say, the most perfect form of the profession of the oneness of God (tawḥīd) which signifies the time (waqt) of the manifestation of the Seventh of the Nātiqs.  It (thus) alludes to all the seven Mutimms by its number, and to the Seventh of the Nātiqs by being the perfect expression of the profession of the oneness of God and perfection of religious beliefs which are (associated with) the time (waqt) of his manifestation.

Thus is completed the division of the number of the chapters of the Coran into groups of seven (tasābīʿ).  It refers to the seven Mutimms and seven Nātiqs.  There remain (however) two sūras, i.e. al-Falaq and an-Nās (cxiii and cxiv).  We may add both these sūras to (our scheme of) groups of seven.  The words (cxiii, 1): “Say: I seek refuge in the Lord of the daybreak” allude (generally) to the Nātiqs because the dawn is the advance of the morning in the sky, and the words (cxiv, 1): “Say: I seek refuge in the Lord of people” refers to the ḥadd, rank, of the Mutimms.  It is because the position of men is on the surface of the earth which is from the “second rank” (al-ḥadd ath-thānī).

Thus this system of proofs is supported by the arrangement of the Coran and the number of its chapters.  If thou countest those of them in which Muḥammad (ṣlʿm) is mentioned, which (also) refer to (all the) Nātiqs (generally) (thou wilt find) that they number 14….

… Muḥammad, they refer to the seven Mutimms.  Of these there are also fourteen sūras.  Those sūras which refer only to the Nātiqs (also) refer to them (i.e. Mutimms?), and the sūras which refer to the Mutimms allude to all seven of them (tamām as-sabʿ). The Seventh of the Nātiqs is also referred to in them.  They also contain the double allusion to the fact that every Nātiq has a sharīʿat, the system of religious law, which was not introduced before him, and that every Mutimm merely completes the law of the Nātiq who preceded him.  Thus for every Nātiq there are two sūras as testimonies, just as in the case of every Mutimm because there are fourteen in favor of the Nātiqs, and as many in the case of the Mutimms.  This also proves that every Nātiq must for certain have a Waṣī to complete his mission (maqāmu-hu), and that (similarly) every Mutimm must also have ḥujjats to have his mission (maqāmu-hu) completed, because the basis of his maqām (mission) is the religion (which belongs) to the Nātiqs (or: because the foundation of the religious mission, maqāmi’d-dīn, belong to the Nātiqs?).

The Mutimms are seven, as has already been mentioned above.  If therefore there are altogether fourteen sūras in the Coran which prove the truth of the Nātiqs, and a like number similarly proving that of the Mutimms, there are 28 sūras altogether, and their number corresponds with the total number of the letters of the (Arabic) alphabet, which is the basis of every kind of speech.  After such system of proof there remain only two additional sūras, just as in the alphabet there are two coupled letters, lām-alif.  These letters are just as those sūras, because they (have been joined) for being returned, together with other letters, into speech.  Similarly, the two sūras, are returned in the proof of what has already been mentioned.  Both these sūras, namely al-Falaq (cxiii) and an-Nās (cxiv) indicate the two ḥadds, or degrees.  The possessors of such two ḥadds, degrees or ranks (aṣḥābu’l-ḥaddayn) have already been mentioned in the preceding sūras.  The coupled letters, lām and alif, are added to the 28 (ordinary) letters, and symbolize the seven Nātiqs, seven Waṣīs, seven degrees (or steps to) the religion (marātibu’d-dīn as-sabʿ) which exist at every period of time, and the seven Mutimm Imams (al-A’immat al-Mutimmūn), thus making a total of twenty eight.

The two joint letters are like Muḥammad and ʿAlī, because alif stands (generally) for Nātiqs at the beginning of (various) sūras, and lām symbolizes Waṣīs.  They have been already included amongst the letters (of the alphabet), and we also mentioned (the position of) Muḥammad amongst the Nātiqs, and also the Waṣīs.  The letter y () at the end of the name of the Mahdī, who is the last of the last of the Imams and the Nātiqs, is the last of all the letters.  It stands at the end as a proof of the truth of all the sharīʿats which appeared before him (i.e. the Prophet), and that after him the advent of no new sharīʿat is predicted, in the way in which the (early) Nātiqs used to predict the advent of each other.  In this way Moses predicted the advent of Jesus (saying): “after me there will come to you the Masīḥ, Messiah” [not in the Coran].  The Jews expect him to this day.  Jesus predicted the advent of Muḥammad (ṣlʿm), as is said in the Coran (lxi, 6): “and giving you glad tidings of an apostle who shall come after me whose name shall be Aḥmad.” Similarly, Muḥammad predicted the advent of al-Mahdī (may mercy from him be on us!).  He indicated al-Mahdī will complete both the degrees, namely the degree of Prophethood and the rank of Waṣī.  He is the “Completer” (al-khattām), and the completed, makhtūm.  In this way al-Mahdī is the highest limit of both degrees, their completer.

We may add that the letter y, in accordance with the numerical value of letters of the alphabet, signifies ten, and the Seventh Nātiq is the tenth after Muḥammad, ʿAlī and the seven Imams, the Mutimms from their progeny.  He is also the seventh of the Nātiqs, and, at the same time, the eighth (thāmin) after (sic, baʿd) the Mutimm Imams.  It is to this that the word of God (lxix, 7) refers: “seven nights and eight days”.  Here the word “nights” refers to the Waṣīs, and “days” refers to the Nātiqs, because night comes after the end of the day, while after al-Mahdī there will be no (new) system of the ta’wīl which will be practiced by a Waṣī: there will be no (new) Nātiq after (that) “night”.  As God says (lxxx, 26-31): “then We have cleft the earth asunder,” – and the earth signifies a Waṣī, - “and made to grow therefrom the grain and the grape, and the hay, and the olive, and the palm, and gardens closely planted, and fruits and grass.” And the meaning of the “grass” is ʿAlī, with the seven Imams from his descendants and the Eighth, the Mahdī, the Seventh of the Nātiqs.

The Mahdī’s name is Muḥammad, or rather he has two names, each of which are written with the help of four letters.  At the end of one of these there is the letter d (dāl), while at the end of the other is a y ().  The letter d stands at the end of the name Muḥammad, who is the Apostle of God, while y stands at the end of the name ʿAlī.  It implies that it comprises the whole of the revelation (tanzīl) preached by Muḥammad, as also the whole of the esoteric doctrine, ta’wīl, preached by ʿAlī.  (This) is the proof of its comprising everything.  The end of his name is the last letter, and the end of everything is its limit (ghāyat).  Thus he (Mahdī) possesses the knowledge of both of them (i.e. the Prophet and ʿAlī) to the fullest extent, just as his name comprises all the names.

We may add that the combined letter, lām-alif, symbolizes Muḥammad and ʿAlī in his sanctity (walāyat), or his birth, descent (wilādat) in view of his comprising the degrees of both Muḥammad with his Prophethood, and ʿAlī with his Waṣī-ship.  Similarly in these letters there are (allusions to) the names of the Nātiqs who came before him, which are limited to twenty five letters.  Thus there remain, to complete 28, three letters.  The names of the Waṣīs are limited to 24, out of the 28, thus there remain four.  It has been mentioned above that four is the ḥadd, degree, or the Nātiqs and three is the ḥadd of the Waṣīs, and that the maqām, contents (?) of the religion of God at every period of time consists of nine ḥudūd (points?) which, surely, have to be complete.  And four for the Nātiq mean that he certainly must have a Waṣī, just as four certainly also contain three.  With these figures seven is complete.

This is the end of the section (faṣl).  May God bless our Lord Muḥammad with his Pure Descendants, and save them!

… And His words (xvi, 103): “and whenever We change one verse for another , (God knows best what He sends down)” mean that one Imam follows the other.  They are (therefore) Abdāl, “substitutes,” with their ḥujjats and dāʿīs, because God substitutes an Imam for his predecessor.


(to be continued, in sha Allah)