The Báb's Commentary on the Hadith of Kumail:
What is Reality?

By Moojan Momen

First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #89
Center for Bahá'í Studies: Acuto, Italy
June 28 – July 1, 2009
(see list of papers from #89)

    According to this Tradition, Kumayl asked the Imam `Ali: "What is Reality?" `Ali at first demurred from answering and gave what appeared to be evasive responses. But after two or three such exchanges, he eventually gave a series of replies with a series of five replies to the question. These five replies have puzzled commentators down the ages although many have referred to this Tradition including Shaykh Ahmad al—Ahsa'i and Sayyid Kazim Rashti. In this paper the commentary of the Báb on this Tradition is discussed. The fifth response of Imam `Ali was "A Light shining forth from the Morning of Eternity (Subh—i Azal) and irradiating the temples of the Unity." Followers of Azal have asserted that, in view of the fact that in the Báb's Seven Questions, this Tradition was linked to the first five years of the Báb's ministry, then the phrase "Subh—i Azal" is a reference to Azal becoming the assigned successor of the Báb in the fifth year. In this paper, however, we demonstrate that the Báb refers to himself as Subh—i Azal and the reference to this occurring in the fifth year is in fact a reference to the Báb's declaration of his own true station in that year.

this paper is not yet online