THIS PROVISIONAL TRANSLATION IS NOW BEING REVISED.
Last corrected 8/01/04
Stephen N. Lambden
While both Shaykh Aḥmad al-Ahsā'ī (d.1826) and his successor Sayyid Kāẓim Rashtī (d.1844) wrote about alchemical matters and the nature of the so-called `Philosopher's Stone' (al-ḥajar) both the Bāb and Baha'-Allāh have responded to questions about this issue, sometimes in considerable, often arcane detail. A response of the Bāb to a question about this al-iksir (the elixir) reads as follows:
A REPLY OF SAYYID `ALĪ MUHAMMAD SHIRAZI, THE BAB, (1819-1850)
TO A QUESTION ON THE ALCHEMICAL ELIXIR
Translated c. 1985 from the Arabic mss. in INBMC 67:203-4.
by Stephen Lambden
Thus hath He taught Us [the elixorial mysteries] and of this is God and the Proof [the 12th lmam], in very truth, sufficient witness. And if you truly understand you shall prove able to carry out the "Art of the Elixir" ( ṣan`a al-iksīr ) and in that place readily grasp, in very truth, the reality of the matter (haqīqat al-amr). And such is well-known on the part of He whom God hath enabled to witness the creation of the earth and the heavens and the creation of His Logos-Self. And there is no power, nor any strength save in God, the Exalted, the Mighty. Blessed be God above that which they have described. And praise be to God the Lord of the worlds.
Among the Tablets of Bahā'-Allāh known as the Lawh-i iksīr ( "Tablet of the Elixir") is one addressed to Mīrzā `Alī Muhammad Varqā' parrtilally printed in Ishraq Khāvaī, ed.) Mā'idih-yi āsmānī vol. 1:19f. .... Continue
AN ALCHEMICAL EPISTLE
IN REPLY TO A QUESTION ABOUT THE PHILOSOPHERS' STONE.
trans. Stephen N. Lambden
Text translated from Ishraq Khavari (ed.)
Mā'idih-yi asmānī, vol.4: 24-26 (incomplete).
Last corrected 20/09/03
THIS TRANS. IS UNDER REVISION
He is God.
ADD MISSING TEXT And now as regards that which you hast asked about the [Philosophers'] Stone (al-ḥajar).  Know that it exists in every locality.  In it We decreed [the existence] of treasures (kunūz an) which none hath fathomed save such as We taught the knowledge (`ilm an ) which is with Us.  Verily, thy Lord is assuredly Knowing, Well-Informed.  It [the philosophers' stone] is One (wāḥid) in its Own Entity-Spirit (nafs).  From it is multiplicity made manifest.  Blessed be he who comprehends it, witnesses the Power of God within it, and is not held back from this Straight Path [by it].  It, assuredly is the "Treasure of God" (kanz Allāh) among his servants, the "Store-House of the [Divine] Mysteries" (makhzan al-asrār) among His creatures and the "Dawning-Place of [the Divine] Power" (maṭlā al-qudrat) to every clear-sighted mystic knower.
[II] Within it [the philosophers' Stone] We decreed [the existence] of "Water" (mā') and We named it "Quicksilver" [Mercury] (al-farrār).  We nurtured its "Earth" (arḍ) with this "Water" (al-mā') until there rose up through the power of the "Water" (bi-quwat al-mā) the "Oil" (al-duhn) which was concealed within it.  It, verily, is the "Red Sulphur" (kibrīt al-aḥmar), the "Crown of Crowns" (iklīl al-akālil) and the "Spirit" (nafs) about which the sages discoursed.  And [in the attempt to obtain it ?] numerous souls have died in their grief.  It [the philosophers' Stone] is "Water" (mā') in its exterior mode (manzar), "Fire" (al-nār) in its [essential] nature and "Air" (al-hawā') in its interior mode (sirr).  In it We [also] decreed [the existence] of "Earth" (al-arḍ).  We gave it to drink of its "Water" (mā') and caused the two "Breaths of Wisdom" (riyāhayn al-ḥikmat) to spring up from it.  This, verily, enshrines a Mighty Secret (sirr al-`azīm).
[III] Then know that it is the [philosophers'] Stone alone that brings the [alchemical] "Work" (al-`amal) to realization.  Nothing external (khārij) enters into it and nothing internal (dākhil) emerges from it.  God, verily, created it a sign of His Power between the worlds.  The "Foundation" (aṣl) is that about which the [alchemical initiates] sages (al-hukamā') discoursed and the "mercury" (al-zaibaq) is a "water" [liquid] (mā) which trickles [is distilled] from it.  This "water" (al-mā'), if you art of those that are informed, is the "key" of the affair (miftāḥ al-amr).  Should the "key" (al-miftāḥ) become available to thee then open therewith the "Gates" (abwāb) of the treasuries of Thy Lord in this "Stone" (al-ḥajar) from which "rivers" (anhār) gush forth from before One Wise, Well-Informed.
[IV] In its outer aspect this "key" (al-miftāḥ ) is "water" (mā') while in its inner aspect it is "fire" (nūr).  If you should set it above [by distillation?] the "earth" (al-arḍ) it would ascend through the power of the "water" (al-mā') which is the "oil" (al-duhn) [spoken] of [by] the [alchemical initiates] sages (al-ḥukamā').  It, verily, has been named with many a name.  It, undoubtedly, is "The Most-Pure Blood" (al-damm al-aṭhar), "The Penetrating Air" ( al-hawā al-nifidh), "The Ascendant Gold" (al-dhahab al-ṭā'ir ) and "The Moist Spirit" (al-nafs al-rutba).  It, assuredly, is an "Active Essence" (jawhar al-fā`il) the action of which perplexes the [inmost] hearts of the mature ones.
[V] And when you hast comprehended [discovered] the [philosophers'] "Stone" (al-hajar) and partaken of its "substance" in accordance with the extent of thy material needs, then detach it from the "fire" (al-nūr).  Then shall the "four elements" (`anāsir al-arba`a) be manifest before thee and you shall find thyself in great bewilderment. Take [then] its "Water" (mā')!  It, verily, is the "male" [principle] (al-zakar) and its spouse is its "sister" which has been named "sulphur" (kibrīt).  When days have elapsed the "water" [liquid] (al-mā') will conjoin [with?] its "Spirit" (nafs?) and a child (genesis,`birth' al-mawlud) will be made manifest.  Should you witness [this "birth"] then thank God, thy Lord and Lord of all the worlds.  It assuredly is the "reddish egg" (al-bayat al-shaqrā').  Within it We decreed the [existence of] "soul" ( al-ruh), "spirit" (al-nafs) and "body" ["Form"] (al-jasad).  We, verily, named this "egg" (al-bayḍat) the [philosophers'] "Stone" (al-hajar).  We, by God, have uncovered it['s secret].  It is not concealed from the divines (al-`ulamā'), the mystics (al-`urafā) or the philosophers (al-ḥukamā').  And your Lord is witness unto that which assert!  And should you attain it and God provide for you in this respect then this is but the beginning of the stage (maqām) of [alchemical] regulation.
[VI] Take hold of it through the strength of God and His might and extract from it the "Soul" (al-ruh), the "Spirit" (al-nafs) and the "Body" (al-jasad) and purify each of them.  Then combine ["marry"] them in a blind retort (qar`at `amyā') such that they all become a single reality.  Then shall the [alchemical] "work" [task] (al-`amal) have been completed before thee.  And then you shall see the power of thy Lord and find thyself in a state of astonishment over this mighty [alchemical] "art" (al-san`a al-`azīm).
 Then, if you should cast a mere dirham of it [the philosophers' Stone] upon a myriad well-proportioned [mineral] forms (al-asjad al-mu`tadilat), it would assuredly, with the permission of God, the Creator of existence, transform them.  And you would find them a "sun" (shams), "pure gold".  In sincerity have We thus expounded for thee a noble exposition through which shall the poor and the needy be enriched.  Yet, is it incumbent on he who understands it that he not bring it to realization for his own sake.  Such an one is of those possessed of piety.  By God! With thy Lord is the knowledge of the ancients and those of recent times.
[VII] All that which you have heard from he who hath blasphemed God is assuredly falsehood [calumny].  Say: `O you liar! Die over its [alchemy's] secret!'  You shall certainly find him in great loss.  He, verily, has committed to writing something of what he heard from Us.  He failed to grasp [even] the surface level of that which flowed from Our Pen and Our Tongue.  If you are of those characterized by justice you would come to confirm this.  He does not know the right-hand from the left or the nature of that which has been concealed within the pavilion of the Grandeur of thy Lord, the Powerful, the Preserver, the All-Knowing.  We have revealed multifarious Tablets (alwāh) about everything you have enquired about.  If it be your desire examine them in order that you may be fully assured that all branches of learning (`ulūm) are with thy Lord.  And none comprehends them save He Himself, the All-Knowing.
BAHA'U'LLAH baha'u'llah Bahá'u'lláh Baha'-Allah Bahá