A Study of the Meaning of the Word "Al-Amr" in the Qur'án and in the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh

By Moojan Momen

First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #22
London, England
August 27–29, 1999
(see list of papers from #22)

published in Lights of Irfan, volume 1, pages 81-94
© 2000, ‘Irfán Colloquia

    The word "amr" in Persian or "al-amr" in Arabic has a range of meaning that covers several words in English. In two instances the precise meaning has become a source of controversy and it is therefore necessary to examine this matter more carefully. In this paper, I will look in detail at the use of the word in the Qur'án in order to delineate the semantic range for this word in the Qur'án. This is in order to examine the assertion by Bahá'í apologists that the term "al-amr" in Qur'án 32:5 ("He establishes His Decree "al-amr"--from heaven to earth and it will return to Him in a Day, the length of which is one thousand years in your reckoning") refers to the appearance of a new religion one thousand years after the Prophet Muhammad. I will also examine the semantic range of the occurrence of this word in the early writings of Bahá'u'lláh in order to assess the assertion of Prof. E.G. Browne that the phrase "masdar-i-amr" which appears in the Kitáb-i-Íqán is an acknowledgement by Bahá'u'lláh of the leadership of Azal at the time of the revelation of the Íqán in about 1861-2.

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