Mysteries of Alast: The Realm of Subtle Entities (lam-i dharr) and the Primordial Covenant in the BabiBaha'i Writings

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Abstract:

One of the more esoteric terms in ShiiShaykhi thought that has found its way into the vast corpus of the BabiBaha'i sacred scriptures is called the realm of subtle entities or lam-i dharr (lit. world of particles). The source of inspiration for this term (dharr) in the early Shii cosmology and cosmogony lies in one of the more important and dramatic scenes which informs the whole spectrum of Islamic thought, namely the Primordial Covenant of Qur'an 7:1712. It is there, in what seems to be pre-existence, that God addresses humanity in the form of particles or seeds (dharr) saying, Am I not your Lord? (alastu bi-rabbikum) while the archetype or potential of all future generations of humanity responds with the loving reply, Yes (bal). In light of the significance of this term for the Covenant in the BabiBaha'i revelations it is surprising that there has only been but passing references to it in some secondary Baha'i sources. In this paper we will outline the history and background of this term and examine some of the interpretations or hermeneutics accorded to it by select examination of its use in Shiism, Shaykhism, and the BabiBaha'i religions. Among other themes that will be touched upon in relation to alam-i-dharr is the hermeneutics of the pre-existence of souls, the question of free will and predestination, the seven stages of creation (martib-i sabih), and the mystic colour hierarchies (alwn).

Keywords: covenant; decree; dharr; free will; pre-existence; predestination; purpose; quaternary; will

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/bsr.15.39_1

Publication date: May 1, 2009

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  • Baha'i Studies Review is an academic journal dealing with all aspects of the study of the Baha'i Faith. All papers submitted are subject to a peer review process.
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