ISSN: 13548697
First published in 1991
1 issues per volume
Volume 15 Issue 1
Cover Date: May 2009
Mysteries of Alast: The Realm of Subtle Entities (‘Ālam-i dharr) and the Primordial Covenant in the Babi–Baha'i Writings
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Authors:  Farshid Kazemi 

covenant, quaternary, will, purpose, predestination, decree, free will, pre-existence, dharr

One of the more esoteric terms in Shi‘i–Shaykhi thought that has found its way into the vast corpus of the Babi–Baha'i sacred scriptures is called ‘the realm of subtle entities’ or ‘ālam-i dharr (lit. world of particles). The source of inspiration for this term (dharr) in the early Shi‘i 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 7:171–2. 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’ (balā). In light of the significance of this term for the Covenant in the Babi–Baha'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 Shi‘ism, Shaykhism, and the Babi–Baha'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 (marātib-i sab‘ih), and the mystic colour hierarchies (alwān).
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