and Bahā'ī interpretations of the
Lote-Tree and Sidrat al-Muntahā
BACK TO :Part One of this paper:
IN PROGRESS 2007-8
al-Muntaha in the writings of the Bāb
The Bāb occasionally and Bahā'-Allāh frequently refer to, or in
various ways claim to be the Sidrat al-muntahā, the "Lote-Tree of the Extremity" . At one point in His early Tafsīr bismillāh the Bāb highlighted the
exalted station of Imām `Alī by referring to him as the "Lote-Tree beyond which
there is no passing" (p.331). In His earliest major revelation, the Qayyūm al-asmā' (sūrah 93:373) He stated that God made believing women as
"leaves" of the "Lote-Tree [s]" (al-shajarat al-sidr[ah]) in the
proximity of the Bāb. In one of his writings he is commanded by God to proclaim
his status and
"Say: This, of a certainty, is the Garden of Repose (jannat al-ma'wā
[Qur'ān 53:15]), the loftiest Point of adoration, the Sidrat al-muntahā
("Tree beyond which there is
no passing") , the Blessed Tree (shajarat
al-ṭubā), Most Mighty Sign, the most beauteous Countenance and the most
comely Face." (SWB:155).
At times the Bāb identified his
Logos-Self or divine reality
with the Sidrat al-Muntahā.
al-Muntaha in the writings of the Baha'-Allah
Sāqī āz ghayb-i baqā'
According to the Baha'i scholar Ishrāq Khavarī this poem dates
to the years 1270-71 or between 4th Oct. 1853 and 13th Sept.
1855 (Ganj:12), or to to the time of Bahā'-Allāh's residence in
Sulaymaniyah (Iraqi Kurdistan). The Persian text of the Sāqī āz
ghayb-i baqā' can be found, for example, in Ma'idah
4:209-211 and INBMC 36:455.. As cited in Ganj-i Shayigan, 12 it
opens as follows:
ساقی از غيب
بقا برقع برافكن از عذار تا بنوشم خمر
باقی از جمال ذوالجلال
آنچه در خم
خانه داری نشكند صفرای عشق زان شراب
معنوی ساقی همی بحری بيار
Commonly referred to by
means of its opening words, Saqī az ghayb-i baqā' this Persian
qaṣīda (ghazal) is only fifteen couplets long. In it Baha'-Allah
implores the Divine Beloved, the celestial Cupbearer, to unveil
herself so that he might quaff the "wine of eternity" (khamr-i
baqā') from the all-beauteous Creator. He underlines the intense
ardour his desire for her mystic wine and dwells on the
consuming fire of his love for her beauty (see line lff). In
response to his pleading the Divine Beloved speaks of the
sublime detachment necessary for the mystic wayfarer who aspires
to enter her court or attain true reunion (see line 7ff). The
lover who seeks to become privy to the "mysteries of love" (asrār-i
`ishq) must so open his inner eye that he will perceive the
Mount of Moses (ṭūr-i mūsā) circumambulating the Divine Beloved
and the Spirit of Jesus (rūḥ-i `īsā) unsettled by her love (line
10, text in Ma'idih 4:210 + INBMC 36:45). It appears that Baha'-Allah
addresses the Divine Beloved in line 13(b) as the "Messiah of
the Age" (masīḥa-yi zamān) and, in the final couplet (15) refers
to himself as the "Dervish of the World" (darwīsh-i jihān) who
is passionately on fire on account of the "brand of the Divine
Ravisher of Hearts". It may be that the Saqī az ghayb-i
baqā' is expressive of Baha'-Allah's own burning desire to
disclose his secret messianic calling, the revelatory
potentialities of his celestial Logos-Self, this being the
reality of the Heavenly Cupbearer with whom union is to be
sought and about which Moses and Jesus are enraptured. Worth
noting in this respect is the fact that in line 8(a) it is
reunion with Bahā' (waṣl-i bahā) that is to be sought.
The concluding lines
گر خيال جان همی هستت بدل
اينجا ميا ور نثار جان و سر داری بياو
رسم ره اينست گر وصل بهأ
داری طلب ور نباشی مرد اين ره دور شو
Another of the earliest references to the Lote-Tree motif is found in at
the beginning of an eighteen couplet Persian poetical work of
Baha'-Allah probably dating from the mid. Iraq or Kurdistan
interregnum years (1854-6 CE). It begins with reference to the
Sidrah which is, its third word in ithe first hemistitch: :
عشق از سدره اعلی آمد با شعله فارانی
`Ishq āz sidrah-yi a`lā
āmad bā shu`lah fārānī
(Text as published
in Ma'idih 4:179-80)
This opening line might be
translated, "Enraptured love came from the Most Exalted Lote-Tree (sidrah-yi
a`lā ) with a firebrand from Paran". Here Baha'-Allah seems to
allude to himself as an incarnation of enraptured love (`ishq). His
or the Bab's messianic advent is celebrated as if from the celestial
realm of the Lote-Tree (sidrah) and bearing a "Firebrand" (shu`lah)
from Mt. Paran (faran). This latter locale is a mystical zone
associated with the genesis of the Islamic faith and of Divine
theophany- manifestation in general , The motif of Paran is
rooted in the Bible (see. Deuteronomy 33:2 "God
came from Sinai and.. shone forth from Mount Paran..." ) and a
few Islamic texts such as the the Du`a
al-simat (Prayer of the Signs) transmitted from the Shi`i
Imams Muhammad al-Baqir and Ja`far al-Ṣādiq.
Important reference is made to the
Lote-Tree motif in the forty or more page wholly Arabic
mid-Iraq period (? c. 1857-8?) scriptural tablet of Mīrzā
Ḥusayn `Alī Bahā'-Allāh (1817-1892 CE) known as the Lawḥ-i
āyah-yi nūr ("Tablet about the Light Verse [Q. 24:35]") or
Tafsīr [Lawḥ-i] ḥurūfāt al-muqaṭṭa`āt ("Commentary on the
Isolated Letters"). It was written in reply to questions
posed by the early Bābī-believer and Bahā'ī martyr [Ḥajjī]
Āqā Mīrzā [Āqā] Rikab-Sāz Shīrāzī, (d. Shiraz 1288/1871)
(Mazandarani, ZH VI:857-9; Ishrāq Khāvarī, Ganj, 21-2;
GPB:200). Towards the beginning of this weighty scriptural
Tablet it is written:
Praise be to God who
created the letters (al-ḥurūfāt) in the worlds of the
divine Cloud (`awālim al-`amā') beyond the pavilions of
holiness (surādiqāt al-qūds) in the lofty heights
of the most resplendent sphere ...
ثمّ اقمصهن قميص
السوداء لما قدر بتقديره الازلية فی مكمن القدَر علی قباب
الحمراء فيما سب العلم بان يستر ماء الحيوان فی ظلمات عوالم
الاسماء عند سدرة المنتهی
He then clothed the
letters in a black robe in accordance with what was decreed
through the measure of His eternality respecting the
possibilities of divine foreordination (qadar). This
relative to the [fate regulating] Crimson Domes (qibāb al-ḥamrā')
and to the status of [explicit] knowledge for He has
concealed the Water of Life in the shadows of the worlds of
Names nigh unto the Lote-Tree of the Extremity (sidrat
al-muntahā')" . The archetypal letters of the alphabet with
which all reality is inscribed on the Tablet of Destiny is
associated with the fate regulating, time transcending
"Crimson Domes". In this connection the "Water of Life" (ma'
al-hayywan) is concealed in worldly veils nigh the
cosmogonic Sidrat a-muntahā'.
In this same
Tablet of the Isolated Letters the Lote-Tree motif is
conflated with the "burning bush" in the Sinaitic
encounter of Moses with God. Baha'-Allah writes,
Moses, the appointed term in the Midian of the
Divine Will was completed he returned to his people
and entered the environs of Sinai in the Holy Vale
at the right-hand side of the region of Paradise by
the precincts of the Eternal Realm. ..
Moses summoned before the shores of the Ocean of
Grandeur in the Crimson Dome: "Lift up. O Moses,
Your head!". When he lifted it up he saw a Light,
blazing and luminous from the Furthermost Tree in
the Verdant [Green] Vale. Wherefore was he guided by
the Most-Great Guidance from the Fire kindled from
the Eternal Lote-Tree....
The "Fire" of divine
guidance within the Logos-like reality of Moses was enkindled
from the eternal "Lote-Tree". Summing up these matters
himself Baha'-Allah states:
Thus do we
mention unto thee something of the mysteries of
knowledge and the jewels of wisdom perchance the
people might be enkindled and illumined by the Fire
of God in the Lote-Tree of the Remembrance [ =
the Bab] (sidrat al-dhikr).
especially IX:1ff; XII:1b; XVIII:6.
Tablet of Baha'‑Allah on Qur'ān 13:17 and 18:60ff: The
Sinaitic Tree and the Lote-Tree.
Baha'‑Allah's detailed interpretations of the story of Moses and
the youth often identified as Khiḍr are found in his commenty
upon Qur'an 13:17 and 18:60ff which may date from the latter
period of his sojurn or exile in Ottoman Iraq (1863‑1868). It
contains an interesting conflation of the Lote-Tree (sidrah) and
the Sinaitic Tree or Burning Bush in which the Divine theophany
was realized by Moses who is said to have been mystically
"sustained by the fruits of the Sinaitic Lote‑Tree (sidrat al‑sinā').
Bahā'‑Allāh commences his allegorical interpretations as
"Know thou that when Moses attained the most elevated [mystical]
levels (maratib al‑a`la), traversed the paths of eternal
subsistence (masalik al‑baqā') and was irradiated with the
Lights of Might and Grandeur, he desired to draw nigh unto the
Tree of the Divine Decree (shajarat al‑qaḍā') and the
Lote‑Tree of Realization
(sidrat al‑imḍā'). This that
he might witness such as is decreed in a Preserved Tablet (lawḥ
maḥfūẓ). Whereupon did he say unto the attendant [page, youth],
`I shall not give up [but shall keep on walking] until I attain
the confluence of the two seas, or [until] I have traveled for a
And We expound [interpret] the youth [page]
(al‑fata) as his [Moses'] [outer] body (al‑jism) for he [Moses]
is the Divine Youth [servant, page] (al‑fata al‑`ilāhī) in whom the Sun of
Prophethood (shams al‑nubuwwa) radiated forth with the utmost
Lordship (bi‑ghayat al‑rabbāniyya) though the people fail to
comprehend. He, assuredly, is indeed the youth (fata) who was
irradiated with the theophanic effulgences (tajalliyāt) of the
lights of the kingdom (anwār al‑malakūt) and was sustained by
the fruits of the Sinaitic Lote‑Tree
(sidrat al‑sinā') which shed
light in the Mount of Eternal Subsistence (ṭūr al‑baqā') with a
manifest effulgence. He [Moses] assuredly is the Youth [page]
(al‑fata) who beareth the mysteries of God (asrār Allāh) and His
treasures [as would be evident] if the people did but
understand. Though few among the people comprehend this he
[Moses] is indeed the "Shell" in which is found the hidden
"Pearl" which is the [inner] Being of the [Sinaitic] Speaker
(al‑kalim = Moses) and which sparkles with the lights of
Pre‑existence (anwār al‑qidam) and sheds Splendour through the
theophanic effulgence of the Sun of the Greatest Name (al‑ism
Halih-Halih-Halih Yā Bishārat
Another poetical Tablet
of Baha'-Allah dating to the end of the Iraq-Baghdad period
(1862-3) is entitled Lawh-i Halih-Halih-Halih Ya Bisharat (The
Tablet of Hallelujah! Hallelujah, Hallelujah, O Glad Tidings! )
after this frequent refrain, celebrates his imminent assumption
of leadership of the Babi community. Couplets and refrain 8-9
read as follows:
This sweet Davidic voice came with the Messianic Spirit
from the Divine Lote-Tree
Hallelujah, O Glad Tidings!
هَلِه هَلِه يَا بشَارَت
With the allurement of
fidelity, with the protection of Bahā' (Glory-Beauty),
She came from the
Dawning-Place of [the letter] "H"
Hallelujah, O Glad Tidings!
هَلِه هَلِه يَا بِشَارَت
Kitab-i iqan (Book of Certitude)
Sidrah with the sense of "Lote-Tree" occurs eleven times
in Baha'-Allah's Book of Certitude (1862-2CE), mostly in gentive
constructions giving this word various allegorical or figurative
senses (see KI: 9, 18, 22, 23, 31,41, 47,99, 107,181). ADD
Writings of the Edirne Period (1863-1868)
The Sūrat al-Aṣḥāb (The Surah
of the Companions, c. 1864 CE)
The important early Edirne (Adrainople) period Sūrat al-Aṣḥāb (Surah of the
Companions, c. 1864CE) was written for Mirza
Habīb-Allāh Maraghi'ī (= Āqā-yi Munīb) .
As the "Lote-Tree of
Bahā'" Baha'-Allah here associates himself with
the personified "Lote-Tree" present in a New Paradise
referred to as Riḍwān (lit. "Felicity") which is associated with the
divine Person of Baha'-Allah
whose parentally bestowed name was Mirza Ḥusayn `Alī, a name of 4
Arabic letters (Ḥ+S+Y=N) then 3 letters (A+L+Y):
Say: The Tent of
Pre-existence hath been raised up. And thou, O people of
the Bayan [= Babis] withold not thyselves there from.
Dwell then at its threshold! By God! The Lote-Tree of
Bahā' hath borne fruit in this Riḍwān which hath
appeared in the Fourfold Temple (haykal al-tarbi`) (=
Ḥusayn) in Triadic form (ha'it al-tathlīth) (= `Alī). O
ye denizens of the Arks of Bahā'! Draw then nigh unto it
and find pleasure in its fruits."
Throughout His ministry Bahā'-Allāh drew on the symbolic
imagery contained in Qur'an Sūra 53:8ff. While, for example in, the Sūrat al-ahsāb
(Surah of the Companions) he refers to himself as "the Heaven of Refuge
( ADD) nigh unto
the Lote-Tree of Holiness ( ADD
)" (cf. Qur'ān 53:13-14), in another later untitled Persian Tablet
to his exalted theophanic station by referring to himself as the one who
= bi-maqām qab quwasayn, a "station" which is "at the
distance of two bows" or a "position" very close to the Ultimate (Q.53:9) . He is,
وراى سِدْرَةِ الْمُنْتَهَى
one who has a position "beyond (!) the "Lote-Tree
beyond which there is no passing" (text Majmu`ih-yi Alwah-i Mubarakah
368-71, trans..Gleanings.. XXIX cf. Persian :53). Shoghi
Effendi translated the pertinent paragraph of this scriptural
Tablet as follows:
purpose of God in creating man hath been, and will ever be, to
enable him to know his Creator and to attain His Presence. To
this most excellent aim, this supreme objective, all the
heavenly Books and the divinely-revealed and weighty Scriptures
unequivocally bear witness. Whoso hath recognized the Day Spring
of Divine guidance and entered His holy court hath drawn nigh
unto God and attained His Presence, a Presence which is the real
Paradise, and of which the loftiest mansions of heaven are but a
symbol. Such a man hath attained the knowledge of the station of
Him Who is "at the distance of two bows," Who standeth beyond
the Sadratu'l-Muntahá [= Sidrat al-Muntaha]. Whoso hath failed
to recognize Him will have condemned himself to the misery of
remoteness, a remoteness which is naught but utter nothingness
and the essence of the nethermost fire. Such will be his fate,
though to outward seeming he may occupy the earth's loftiest
seats and be established upon its most exalted throne.
al-Fatḥ (c. 1865-6?)
In an important Tablet addressed to a certain Fatḥ al-A`zam most
likely dating to the mid 1860s (c. 1865-6?) and known as the Surat
al-Fatḥ, Baha'-Allah refers to himself as one who,
"did warble mystic meaning upon the twigs of the Lote-Tree of the
All-Merciful (sidrat al-raḥmān) in the Riḍwān (Felicity) of this
Elevated, Sanctified and Luminous Tablet" :
O Fatḥ al-A`zam!
I took firm hold of the Pen
that there might be revealed for thee what will gladden thee
and generate within thy heart what will attract thee towards
the Sanctum of God (maqarr Allāh), the Exalted, the All
Mighty. And when it inclined unto this level of Exposition (Bayān),
I hearkened unto the yearning of My heart and the clamoring
of My Pen for they both did warble mystic meaning upon the
twigs of the Lote-Tree of the All-Merciful (sidrat al-raḥmān)
in the Riḍwān (Felicity, Paradise) of this Elevated, Sanctified and
See further :
(Arabic), The Tablet of Aḥmad.
One of the best known and
most frequently recited Tablets of Bahā'-Allāh, is the Arabic Tablet
of Aḥmad. This work was revealed for a certain Mīrzā Aḥmad Yazdī
(born Yazd c.
1220/1805) who died in Tehran [or Qazvīn?] at an advanced age
around 1320/1902. In a rhythmic sometimes rhyming Arabic prose It dates to
about c. 1282 AH or c. 1865-6. Towards its very beginning
there is an important reference to the Sidrat al-Baqā' ("the Lote
Tree of Eternity"), a
phrase which Shoghi Effendi slightly non-literally translated "Tree
of Eternity" without specifically identifying this Tree as a Lote-Tree:
هذه ورقة الفردوس تغنى على
افنان سدرة البقاء
بالحان قدس مليح
e is the King, the All-Knowing, the Wise!
Nightingale of Paradise (waraqat al-firdaws) singeth upon the twigs
( afnān) of the Lote Tree of Eternity (sidrat al-baqā'), with
holy and sweet melodies, proclaiming to the sincere ones the glad
tidings of the nearness of God, calling the
believers in the Divine Unity to the court of the Presence of the
Generous One, informing the severed ones of the message which hath
been revealed by God, the King, the Glorious, the Peerless, guiding
the lovers to the seat of sanctity and to this resplendent Beauty.
As an elevated celestial bird (warqā') Bahā'-Allāh pictures himself
as one perched upon the sidrat al-baqā' or "Lote-Tree of
Eternity" proclaiming the good news of his messianic advent to pure
and receptive souls (Arabic text Risāla-yi tasbīḥ va taḥlīl, pp.
See further: UR L:
Tuqā (Tablet of ther Fear of God),
At the end of his Edirne (Adrianople) period (c. 1866-7) Lawḥ-i
Tuqā (Tablet of ther Fear of God), Baha'-Allāh refers to
himself as the personified Lote-Tree planted by God in the very apex of
that Paradise which is Riḍwān, the domain of celestial "Felicity":
Glory be upon thee! and upon
such as have sought refuge in the shade of this Lote-Tree (al-sidra)
which hath in truth been raised up and planted by the bounteous
hand of God in the Midmost-Heart of Riḍwān [Paradise] (quṭb al-riḍwān)" (AQA 4:13).
The Tablet to `Alī Muhammad Sarrāj (Lawh-i Sarrāj)
c. 1867 CE.
scripture the Sidrat al-Muntahā is sometimes understood to refer to the individual and
sometimes to the Manifestation of God. In His Tablet to `Alī Muhammad Sarrāj (Lawh-i Sarrāj) dating to about 1867 CE he explains that scriptural imagery associated with
Paradise can be understood as revolving around the true believer. The faithful
soul who dwells in the shadow of the Divine Lote-Tree (sidra-yi ilāhī [=
Bahā'-Allāh]) is himself accounted by God as a sidra-yi ṭubā ("blessed lote-tree"), while the negligent unbeliever is the very "lote-tree"
of the infernal "fire of sijjīn" (cf. Qur'ān 83:7-8; see Ma'idiah 7:21-23 ). Bābī-Bahā'ī scripture thus, in various contexts, applies "lote-tree" symbolim
to the human being / soul. The Persian paragraph from the Lawh-i Sarrāj
can now be fully translated:
Questioner [`Ali Muhammad Sarrāj]! That which thou
observeth of the various designations in the Divine
Books (kitab-i ilahi) including references to the
Blessed [Tree] (ṭūbā), the Sidrat al-Muntahā' (Per.
Sidrah-yi muntahā = Lote-Tree of the Extremity),
the Tree of the Extremity (shajarat-i quṣwā) its
leaves (waraq), its fruits (thamar) and the like,
Echoing a line of the abovementioned tradition
ascribed to Imām Alī, Bahā'-Allāh in His Arabic Tablet to `Alī Pashā (Lawḥ-i Rā'is,
1868 ) refers to the "soul" (nafs) of the true believer
in the oneness of God as a blazing fire (al-nār) enkindled in the sidrat al-insān.
the "human lote-tree" or perhaps the " lote-tree of humankind" . Similarly, at
the beginning of a Persian Tablet addressed to the renowned Jewish convert to
the Bahā'ī Faith, Mīrzā Mahdī Arjomand, Bahā'-Allāh refers to Himself as One
crying out in the "Human Lote-Tree" (sidrat al-insān) and, subsequently,
as the "Lote-Tree" which declares His advent as the eschatological appearance of
God, the True One (see MH 4:455). As in Persian mystical poetry, the symbol of
the sidrah / Sidrat al-Muntahā is occasionally present in Bahā'-Allāh's poetical
compositions (see for example, Bahā'-Allāh's Mathnawī cited Lambden, Sinaitic
Mysteries, 127; Dehkhoda, Lughat, Sidrat
Within one of the revelations of
Bahā'-Allāh it is
specifically stated that "The Holy Tree [Sidrat] is, in a sense, the
Manifestation of the One True God.." (English trans. cited in Errata to Tablets ,
137 fn.; see also Kitāb-i Īqān , 19 ). Those
reckoned by Bahā'ī s to be Manifestations of God are often spoken about by means
of the terms Sidrah and Sidrat al-Muntahā within Bahā'ī scripture
( e.g. the Prophet Muhammad in the Kitāb-i-Īqān : 71 ; see also Lambden, Sinaitic Mysteries : 118-9).
al-Kitab al-Aqdas (The Most Holy Book) c, 1873 CE.
Most Holy Book (Kitāb-i aqdas c.1873
) Bahā'-Allāh addresses humanity and directs them, in a luminous spiritual
condition, to advance towards the region where He, as the "Lote-Tree beyond
which there is no passing" (Sidrat al-Muntahā) , proclaims His Divinity.
On occasion Bahā'-Allāh referred to Himself as the "All Glorious [ Abhā ]
Lote-Tree" ( see Māzandarānī, Athar 4:125f.) as well as the "Lote-Tree
The Medium Obligatory prayer' ( Ṣalāt).
While reciting the `medium obligatory prayer' (
to be recited thrice daily) the Bahā'ī worshipper facing the Point of Adoration
( Qiblih = Bahjī, Acre ) at one point says, "God testifieth that there is
none other God but Him. His are the kingdoms of Revelation and of creation. He,
in truth, hath manifested Him Who is the Day-Spring of Revelation, Who conversed
on Sinai, through Whom the Supreme Horizon hath been made to shine, and the Lote-Tree
beyond which there is no passing [= Bahā'-Allāh] hath spoken.." (P&M:241).
Lawh-i milād-i ism al-a`ẓam
(Tablet for the Birthday of the Greatest Name [=Baha'-Allah]).
Important use of the Sidrah and Sidrat al-Muntahā motifs are found the scriptural
Tablet of Bahā'-Allāh of the mid.-late West Galilean (Acre)
period (1880s?) known as the Lawh-i milād-i ism al-a`ẓam (Tablet
for the Birthday of the Greatest Name [=Baha'-Allah]), printed in the
compilation of `Abd al-Ḥamid Ishrāq Khavarī entitled Risāla-yi ayyām-i
tis`ah (Treatise On the Nine Holy Days) (see pp. 48-51). In various ways this
Tablet dwells upon the disclosure of the Logos-Person or Mightiest Name
that was Baha'-Allah. The person of Baha'-Allah is pictured as the
Sinaitic Lote-Tree, a token from whom disclosed the mystery of his
Greatest Name unto Moses on of the Sinai of realization. A "fruit"
from the transcendent "Spirit" of Baha'-Allah disclosed what enraptured
the "heart" of the prophet Muhammad on his celestial mi`raj (night
ascent) when he heard the disclosure of the Greatest Name of Baha'-Allah
from beyond, the beyond, from beyond the Sidrat al-Muntahā:
Sinaitic Lote-Tree (sidrat al-sīnā’) upon the Blessed
Snow-white Spot (buqat al-mubāraka al-bayḍā).  From it the ears of
the Speaker [Moses] did hear what caused him to be wholly detached from
existence and enabled him to
draw near unto a sanctified locale.
 So, Oh what
jubilation is upon such as hath received, taken and proffered His
Mighty, Transcendent Love (ḥubb).  A ripening fruit (thamara)
from it articulated the like of what was uttered by the
 So, Oh what
jubilation on account of the Rapture of God (jadhb Allāh),
the Powerful, the
Exalted, the Mighty.  An ultimate Fruit (thamara) voiced what caused the Spirit
(al-rūḥ) to be enraptured and
to ascend unto a Mighty, Perspicuous Heaven.
 So, Oh what jubilation
on account of this Spirit (al-rūḥ) before the Reality of whom the
Spirit of Faith (rūḥ al-amīn) did rise up empowered with an
utterance of the angels of the cherubic order (malā’ikat al-muqarribīn).
 A Fruit (thamara) did cry out the like of what enraptured the
heart of Muhammad, the Messenger of God (rasūl Allāh). He rose up
and experienced an heavenly mi`rāj (ascent) on account of that Most
Elevated Call (al-nidā’), an ascent unto the Lote-Tree beyond which
there is no passing (sidrat al-muntahā). He heard the Call of God (nidā’
Allāh) from beyond the Pavilion of Grandeur (surādiq al-kubriyā’)
expressive of the mystery of My Sanctified, the Elevated and Mighty
 So, Oh!
what jubilation on account of this Lote-Tree (al-sidra)
raised up, in very truth, such that all the worlds might find shade
neath its shadow.  O Supreme Pen! Be stilled and hold back! 
By God, the True One, should thou cry out and make mention of the
melodies of the Fruits of the Tree of God thou wouldst ever remain
peerless on earth  for all the people would flee from attaining
Thy position and would scatter abroad from the Court of Thy
Holiness.  This is indeed a certain Truth....
Lawḥ-i milād-i ism-i a`ẓam (The
Tablet of the Birthday of the Greatest Name) (II)
Another scriptural Tablet celebrating the birthday of
Bahā'-Allāh as a personification of the Greatest Name
(al-ism al-a`zam) (see Mā'idih 4:342.) commences with
the Babi-Baha'i basmala "He is the Most Holy,
the Most Great" and commences,
This is the
month in which the Greatest Name (al-ism al-a`ẓam) was
born, the one through whom the limbs of all mankind (farā’iṣ
al-`alam) were made to quake, through whose footsteps
the Supreme Concourse (al-malā’ al-a`lā) and the
denizens of the Cities of Names (madā’in al-asmā) were
blessed.  At this did such [elevated beings] shout
with joy, magnified exceedingly and gave praise with
their very soul and spirit (al-rūḥ wa’l-rīḥān).  They
exclaimed, ‘By God! This is indeed the month through
which all other months were made resplendent, through
which the Hidden Treasure (al-kanz al-makhzūn) and the
Concealed Secret (al-ghayb al-maknūn) were made
manifest.’  They did indeed cry out with the most
elevated Call (al-nidā’) amongst the denizens of the
kingdom (bayn al-warā al-mulk), exclaiming,  ‘This
assuredly is the Day of the birth (al-mawlūd) [Bahā’u’llāh]
through which the Countenance of all Existence (thaghr
al-imkān) beamed with joy,  when trees were weighed
down [with fruit,]  oceans were made to surge, 
every mountain rejoiced,  Paradise did cry out, 
the Rock (al-sakhra) did shout
A little later it is stated that "all things exclaimed",
‘O concourse of created existence!
Speed ye unto the Dawning-Place of the
Countenance of thy Lord, the Merciful, Compassionate.’
This is the month whose Paradises attained unto
the Lights of the Countenance (anwār wajh) of their
Lord, the All-Merciful and the Nightingale (Dove,
al-warqā’) warbled upon the Lote-Tree beyond which
there is no passing (sidrat al-muntahā).
here pictures himself as a personified Bird who warbles
forth sacred verses upon the Sidrat al-Muntahā.
The Lawh-i Burhan (Tablet of the
Arabic Tablet of Baha'-Allah was addressed to the powerful
Shi`i cleric Ḥajjī Shaykh Muhammad Bāqir Isfahānī (d.
1301/1883) and contains several important references to the
Lote-Tree and associated motifs rooted in the Surat al-Najm
(Qur'an 53). Baha'-Allah denounced as a "wolf" (dhi`b) the
cleric addressed here who persecuted and was involved in the
martyrdom of various Bahā'ī believers. The Lawh-i Burhan
contains a passage in which Baha'-Allah clearly
pictures himself as a personification of both the Sidrat al-Muntahā
and the "Supreme Horizon" ( ADD) mentioned in Q.
53 as well, it seems, as allusion to his being the
"Most mighty Sign" alluded to in Qur'an 53:18b (min
ayāt rabbihi kubrā):
O Bāqir! If thou be of them that
occupy such a sublime station, produce then a sign from
God, the Creator of the heavens. And shouldst thou
recognize thy powerlessness, do thou rein in thy
passions, and return unto thy Lord, that perchance He
may forgive thee thy sins which have caused the leaves
of the Divine Lote-Tree ( awrāq al-sidrat) to be burnt up, and the Rock to
cry out, and the eyes of men of understanding to weep.
Because of thee the Veil of Divinity was rent asunder,
and the Ark foundered, and the She-Camel was hamstrung,
and the Spirit [= Jesus] groaned in His sublime retreat. Disputest thou with Him Who hath come unto thee with the
testimonies of God and His signs which thou possessest
and which are in the possession of them that dwell on
earth? Open thine eyes that thou mayest behold this
Wronged One shining forth above the horizon of the will
of God, the Sovereign, the Truth, the Resplendent.
Unstop, then, the ear of thine heart (fu`ad) that thou mayest
hearken unto the speech of the Divine Lote-Tree (al-sidrat) that hath been raised up in truth by God, the
Almighty, the Beneficent. Verily, this Tree (al-sidrat),
notwithstanding the things that befell it by reason of
thy cruelty and of the transgressions of such as are
like thee, calleth aloud and summoneth all men unto the
Baha'-Allah] and the Supreme Horizon (al-ufq
al-a`la, = Q. 53:5). Blessed  is the soul
that hath gazed on the Most Mighty Sign (al-ayat al-kubrā
= see Q. 53:18b), and the ear that hath heard His most
sweet Voice, and woe to whosoever hath turned aside and
done wickedly" (TB:208-9).
In this paragraph Baha-Allah associates the vision of the
Prophet in Qur'an 53 with a possible vision of himself as
the the "Most Mighty Sign" (al-ayat al-kubrā ) referred to
in Q. 53:18b. Note also
the spelling al-Sidrat al-Muntahā
Baha'-Allah] with the definite article twice, a spelling
which also occurs in certain Islamic hadith.
In the following paragraph of the Lawh-i Burhan (not
cited above) Baha'-Allah asks
the Isfahani "Wolf", as one who has "turned away from God", to
"look with the eye of fairness" (bi-ayn al-insaf) on his person as "the Divine Lote-Tree"
(al-sidrat) which incorporates a pleroma of elevated Bahā'ī believers. Thereon he is told, he would perceive the
his sword", "on its boughs, and its branches, and its
leaves, notwithstanding that God created thee [Najafi] for the
purpose of recognizing and of serving it [the Divine Lote-Tree]" (TB:207).
It is in annotating this section of the Lawḥ-i burhān
the authorities at the Baha'i World Centre (Haifa,
Israel) have noted that the "Sacred Lote-Tree, the Tree
beyond which there is no passing (See Qur'án 53:8-18)" is
a "symbol of the Manifestation of God" (referring to Shoghi
Effendi's God Passes By p. 94) (refer TB:207+fn).
Further Passages from select alwāḥ
of Baha'-Allah of the Acca (West Galilean period)
Some idea of the
frequency of the occurrence of Sidrah (often in genitive
constructions such as sidrat al-insan = the Human Lote-Tree)
or the qur'anic phrase Sidrat al-Muntahā in scriptural alwāḥ
(Tablets) of the mid-late Acre (West-Galilean) period
(roughly 1875-1892) can be gauged from the fact that in the
Bombay compilation of Tablets of Baha'-Allah printed
at the Afnan owned Nāṣirī press in to 1314/ 18XX and entitled ADD
these expressions occur no less than ADD times in ADD
Persian or Arabic Tablets. They often express aspects of the
developed theophanological claims of Baha'-Allah figuring as
the personified celestial Lote Tree of the Extremity. In
connection with this Tree, the divine person of
Baha'Allah is associated with waḥy (divine revelation) and
the al-ism al-a`zam (Greatest Name) of God identified with
the word Baha' (=radiant Glory or Splendour) which embodies
his eschatological personna. The following are a few
succintly annotated translations from vol. 2 of the
Athar-i qalam-i a`la.:
He is the Ruler
over whatsoever He willeth.
huwa huwa = "He is He [God]") which
inclineth towards Him.... (AQA 2: 212 ).
Transcendent Word (kalimat al-`ulyā')
hath been made manifest and of it the Dove hath
warbled upon the Sidrat al-Muntahā
[proclaiming], `He verily is [that] "He is He Himself"
In this untitled mid-late Acre period Tablet Baha'-Allah
pictures Himself as a celestial Bird (al-warqā') singing
upon the Sidrat al-Muntahā to the effect that the claim to
Divinity is realized. This in that the
or the Divine Ipseity is actualized through Him. It derives
its meaning pertinent to His Being the personification of
the expected eschatological theophany or the latter
day manifestation of the divine "Self-Persona" (nafs)
of God on the Day of God. The implications of the following
passage are similar:
Sidrat al-Muntaha testifies to "He Who hath appeared in the
Kingdom of Existence, for 'He, verily, no God is there
of `Abdu'l-Bahā (1844-1921 CE) and Shoghi
Effendi (c. 1896-1957)
Will and Testament `Abdu'l-Bahā referred to Shoghi Effendi, Guardian of the Bahā'ī Faith from 1921-1957, as a "primal branch
of the Divine and Sacred Lote-Tree" grown out from the Bāb and
"Twin Holy Trees". As in Bahā'-Allāh's Book of the Covenant
descendants of the Bāb and Bahā'-Allāh are designated the "branches"
and the "boughs" (aghsān) (respectively) of these "Twin Lote-Trees"
(= the Bab and Baha'u'llah). In a passage found in the Tablet of Visitation
(a compilation of passages from
Tablets of Bahā'-Allāh revealed at different times for persons distant from
Him) made by Mulla Muhammad Nabīl-i Zarandī at Bahā'-Allah's
instruction, we read,
"Bless Thou, O Lord my God, the Divine Lote-Tree
(al-sidrah) and its leaves, and its boughs (aghṣān)
, and its branches (afnān) , and its stems, and its off-shoots, as
long as Thy most excellent titles will endure and Thy most august attributes
will last.." (P&M:240).
The Heavenly and cosmological Tree in Islām becomes the
"Tree" or Sidrat al-Muntahā of the Person and Cause of Bahā'-Allāh. Exalted Bahā'īs are its
"branches", "twigs", "leaves" and "fruits" or microcosmic versions of it. In the
list of the titles of Bahā'-Allāh, singled out by Shoghi Effendi for mention in
his God Passes By, there stands the "Lote-Tree beyond which there is no passing"
(p.94). For Baha'is all humankind dwells beneath the shadow of the Sidrat al-Muntahā which is Bahā'-Allāh.
The true believer is seen as but an imperfect microcosmic version of the transcendent
and exalted, the Divine and "All-Glorious (Abhā) Sidrat al-Muntahā
who is Bahā'-Allāh.
Effendi (d. 1957) grandson of Bahā'-Allāh and the Guardian or
Head of the Bahā'ī religion from 1921 until 1957, was a key translator of Babi-Baha'i
sacred scripture. He frequently translated Sidrat
al-Muntahā as "the Lote-Tree beyond which there is no passing"
following the translation of Qur'an 53:14
by George Sale (see above) whose Qur'an translation (direct from the
Arabic) he regarded as "admirable" and "the most accurate
rendering" then available (Directives, 170-1). The Sale translation is
itself informed by the Tafsir of ther two Jalāls
(see Part I on this Website) where muntaha (in Sidrat
al-Muntaha, Q. 53:14b) is exegetically glossed as "no
one has the ability to bypass it ( lā yatajāwuzihā [= j-w-z VIth
verbal form ]) among the angels". This Sale-Shoghi Effendi translation is
echoed by a few more recent western translators including the
popular 1938 (Ahmadiyya) rendering of Abdullah Yusuf Ali and
other academics who render sidrat al-muntahā, "the Lote-Tree of the
Boundary" or "Extremity". Apparently following earlier idiosyncratic Bahā'ī
transliterations Shoghi Effendi always transliterated the Arabic as "Sadratu'l-Muntahá"
for example, did the Baha'i writer and translator Ali Kuli Khan (d. ADD) in
his early 1904 and 1907 translations of the Kitab-i iqan (Book of Certitude) of Baha'-Allah
(see Kuli Khan, Iqan 1904 , etc, index; cf. also Holley 1923/28 Baha'i
Scriptures, index, Glossary p.558, etc ). On occasion Shoghi Effendi rendered
(t) which he transliterated it as Sadrih (Lote-Tree) non-literally or "theologically" with the biblical
phrase (burning) "Bush" or "Tree" (Lambden, Sinaitic Mysteries :150-1 and p.178 fn. 248).
Here to return to
Part One of this paper:
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