IV. AN ALI-ILAHI FRAGMENT


1 - I have relevant bibliographical references in my paper, "The Sect of Imam Shah in Gujrat," JBBRAS 1936, pp.19-70.

2 - The latest and fullest bibliography is given by V. Minorsky in his note on "Ahl-i- Hakk" Supplement, ,pp. 9-13. His translation of his text was published (in Russian) in 1911, in Moscow, under the title "Materials for the Study of the Persian Sect, People of the Truth, or Ali-ilahis". References further on are given to this original edition.

3 Kuruni is the name under which descendants of the Gurans who formed the suite and armed forces of Karim Khn Zand (1163-1193/1750-1779) are known in Shiraz. Already some thirty years ago there were practically no Ali-ilahis amongst them in the city, and the only "nest" was still in existence in the village of Talakhideshk, within a mile of the town. It may be noted that in Persian pronunciation, the syllables -an and -am, especially at the end of the word, are pronounced as -un and -um, particularly by the uneducated.

4- The crude translation of this term, "the people of the Truth", does not render the real sense of the expression and may even

GARBI 11be misleading if left without explanations. Here haqq is not the abstract truth, nor truthfulness, but the true religion, or attributeless Deity. Thus the proper rendering would be either "the followers of the (only) True Religion", or "the worshippers of the only True God". As is known many sects, including the Ismailis, apply this term to themselves.

5 - Nusayr, whose "name in the tariqat ," according to the darwish theories, was Shh Mahmd-i Ptili, appears to be wholly a legendary person who has nothing to do with the eponym of the Nusayri sect, Nusayr, or Muhammad b. Nusayr an-Namr (or Nusayri) al-' Abd who apparently flourished about the middle of the third/ninth c. The reason why some Persian speaking sectaries, especially those who usually live amongst the Persians, make themselves Nusayris, is simply because they are rather ashamed of the general style of their mythology which is so firmly connected with the tribal life of the "wild Kurds". The term "Nusayri", which for them implies little or no definite religious contents, attracts them as more "respectable", Arabic. The story of Nusayr as narrated by the darwishes and Ali-ilahis is a variant, or rather numerous variants of the Christian legend of the "slaughter of innocents". Minorsky's text (p. 56 of the translation) contains an allusion to this.

6 - The term Sarajam, "completion, fulfilment", is generally applied to the doctrine and religious literature of the sectarians. It is therefore wrong to call any book "Saranjm". Kitab-i Saranjam does not mean THE, but A Saranjam book. It is quite probable that the Sayyids may really have a library of theological and other books, but all my inquiries could never bring me information about any well-known and generally recognized , book which would occupy in the mentality of the sect the position of the Bible or Coran in the corresponding religions.

7 - The term kalam , speech, utterance, has a general sense of religious literature of the sectarians, and apparently contains an implied allusion to the fact that it always was, and probably remains for the most part preserved only orally. Of course, individual adepts who can read and write may occasionally write such matters in order to insure correct preservation. The only difficulty is that while dialects of Kurdish, which still largely continues as all unwritten language, possess no fixed and generally recognized system of spelling, writing is useless. What is written in such an obsolete and crude script as Arabic, simply cannot be read by anyone except someone familiar with the manner of the person who wrote it. It thus leads to a situation similar to that in the well-known anecdote of Mulla Nasru'd-dn : to read a letter written in this way the writer should go along with it to the addressee.

8 -- As far I could see in my contacts with the sectarians, these terms, in their eyes, have become so exclusively associated with Ithna-'ashiari Imams that it would sound extraordinary to call Ali- Imam Ali, or add this title to the names of Shh Khushin or any other incarnation. It is remarkable that in contrast, with the Ithna-'asharis they almost never refer to the sons of Al, Hasan and Husayn. I believe that one of the contributing reasons in the explanation may be the well-known "Marcionism" of Shi'ite extremists. They are reluctant to dwell on such "family" details of the Incarnation for a reason which is expressly emphasised by the Druzes: He, God, is not born by anyone, nor does not give birth to anyone. This is why the miraculous and fatherless birth of an Incarnation is the theme of many of their stories, and also why there is no mention of any Incarnation marrying and having children.

9 - It should be wrong to translate the expression yar in this sense as "friend" in Western Persia, as also in some other parts of the country, yar, yar has the colloquial meaning of "fellow" in English: in Yr ki'st? "who is that fellow ?"It corresponds with the archaic and Eastern expression kas , for some reason dropped by Persian except in some "fossilized" combinations. Therefore yarn does not necessarily convey the idea of intimate friendship, in active form, but simply of people, men, individuals.

10 - These four "angels", accompanying the Incarnated Lord, indeed, vividly recall the well-known story of the Bible in which God, accompanied by four angels, visits Abraham under that oak in Mambre. There is no doubt that Ali-ilahism is full of Christian motifs in its tradition, and this, of course, is only natural in view of long historical association.

11 - He is already discussed above, p. 150.

12 - V. Minorsky, to whom we all are indebted for much that we know of the sect, insists on treating his text as a "history" of the Ali-ilahi religion. The Bible is also a chain of instructive stories, but surely the difference between it and such accumulations of legends is immense. In Ali-ilahi stories there is no clear idea of the of the sequence of events, or intention of telling the complete history, even briefly. The fact that some of these stories narrate the miracles of the manifestation or disappearance of the Deity in no way makes them intended to be history. 2. Analysis of the Text

13 - The migrations of darwishes even during the period immediately preceding the first world war were still remarkably extensive, spreading from Constantinople to Rangoon. If it was so during the phase of complete decay of the movement, we may easily believe that under the Mongols or Timurids such "invisible" contact with India was fairly permanent. It is beyond doubt that Shi'ite darwishism in Persia shows clear and indisputable traces of Indian ascetic ideas.

14 - The same idea occurs in the speculations of the sect of the Hurufis. Cf. C. Huart, "Textes Persans relatifs la Secte des Houroufis", Gib.b Mem. Series, vol. IX, 1909, p. 6 sqq. (texts). The Hurufis, however, also add the letter g written not with the help of a flat stroke, but three dots.

15 - The text itself plainly mentions "Jawhur ki nuqta'i awwat bashad" (at the very end of p. 9 of the original copy).

16 - The term which the author uses for conveying the idea of the creation, guwhar , which in modern colloquial mostly means a Jewel (and as such is often used as feminine name), has no fixed associations of that sense. In the Ummu'l-kitb ed. W. Ivanow, "Der Islam". (Berlin, 1936) it is equally used both for the Deity and creations, as in Ga'whar-ifarinanda (228) and gawharan-i bad-bakhtan (146), while at the same time jawhar is used for the creation : jawhar-i munkiran (227). The author's use of the term seems to be individual and arbitrary.

17- It is interesting to note that Satpanth has also an incarnation of Jabr'il, plainly described as such, Chandan Vir, whom the Imam gives as a guide to Imam shah to show Paradise Jannatpuri, (sloka 50) I was interested to find more references to him, but it seems that he is mentioned only rarely, and not much is known about him. Of course, there is no need to take such reference too seriously. Mystics can say anything, without any special reason. It may be added that in the Satveni-ji Vel a comparatively very modern work, (usually attributed to the authorship of Nar Muhammad Shah, son of Imam - shah X/XVI c.), the story is narrated that Ali appointed Qanbar as the mukhi of the jamat and Salman as the kamriya . This sums up the relative attitude towards these two worthies.

18 - Such belief is refuted by Abu Hatim ar Razi at the beginning of the fourth juz' of his Kitabu'ul-Islah probably because such a theory was advanced in the Kitabu'ul Mahsul, which he corrects.

19 - In V. Minorsky's text the ithbat of the same ceremony, (though in a different detail, the preparation of the sacrificial meal, ) is narrated on p.58.

20 - The mystical hierarchy under the Qutb, with its various versions, so often referred to in books on Sufism, is sometimes regarded as derived from the Fatimid dawat hierarchy. This seems to me doubtful, because the Fatimid system was not fully developed before about the middle of the fourth/tenth c. Of course, it took time before it could have attained sufficient publicity to become a model for the mystical hierarchy chosen unintentionally and unconsciously. This would bring us well into the fifth/eleventh c., or even later. I therefore would be inclined to believe that the hierarchy had nothing to do with Ismailism. This, of course, will be perhaps properly decided when sufficient information is collected concerning the earliest traces of it in Sufic literature.

21 - The expression dharra'i kull may mean the atom, in the sense of a prototype of the universe.

22 - The sectarians whom I consulted were, apparently, rightly of the opinion that this expression refers to the idea of the creation of the rebelling spirits from fire, before the material world was created, It may be noted that in the strata to which darwishes and sectarians belong, i.e. amongst the people who are not in possession of higher, or anyhow, proper theological education, there are found a multitude of what may be called cosmological myths, of the most fantastic varieties, usually highly dramatized. Being interested in this form of folklore, I tried hard to trace the books from which they are derived, but could never lay my hands on any, except for the ubiquitous revelations of Abdul-lah b. Salam, Kabul-Ahbar, etc.,

23 - Saj-i Nar is mentioned in V Minorsky's text (p.42) where it similarly appears a place of a jam

24 - Taus peacock, one of the birds of Paradise, is associated with the Devil in legends in which it is narrated that it carried the evil spirit into Paradise (from which the Devil was expelled) on its back, in the form of a snake which later on seduced Eve and Adam (cf. Ummu'l Kitab

213, 306) The expression Malak Taus is apparently derived from the beliefs of the Yazidis, and does not seem to be usual in Ali-ilahi texts where the evil spirit is called Daud-i Rash (i.e. black) 3. Translation

25 - 1 The figures in square brackets refer to the pages of the original copy. Similar division has also been introduced in the text.

26 - All these hadths - are common in Sufic works. The one stating that "knowledge is barred" seem to be torn out of the context from a larger tradition.

27 - The terms murabbiq (explained as tarbiyat dihanda) and adib (ta'dib dihanda) appear to be synonyms. This symbolism presupposes the darwish vision of the world as a murid darwish apprentice, instructed by God as the Pir . The terms Ahad and Wahid are also used by the Nusayris (cf. Dussaud, "Histoire et religion des Nosairis," 1910, p; 141, note 3) and Druzes (cf. S. de Sacy, "Expos", l, 16-17).

28 - The author uses this word as fancifully as jawhar and gawhar . It is obvious that here hayak should stand instead of surat.

29 - All through this text one is never certain whether the author speaks of Adam, the first man, or generally of mankind. Adam-i akhar may mean the second, and "the other" man, i.e. ordinary human being.

30 - This is a strange expression, as if presuming that there are gods of various portions of the universe. My inquiries elicited no definite information as to whether such an expression is generally used.

31 - "This" seems to refer to the Jawhar , and pertains to the Incarnation.

32 - The form li'l-lh is probably given to make the author's reference to the hidden, i.e. unwritten alif more clear.

33 - The expression dibay-i fajar evidently indicates that the author here has in view not the material but the colour of the sun and moon, just as in various aftab-rang and mahtab-rang things in the Ummu'l kitab

34 - What the author undoubtedly tries to express is the idea of the "treble rhythm" in the universe, which his triads are intended to prove. This is an ordinary element of the ta'wil and Kabbalistic speculations which in the author's unskilled exposition look so helpless.

35 - Murshid (Arabic) and Pir (Persian) are synonyms. Pir -i-murshid, pir-i dalis, pir-i nazar and pir-idu'd are four honorary ranks given to the more important participants in the ceremony of initiation among darwishes. The triad here appears strange, and probably implies an error.

36 - In the text: as hikmat Thus : some (bringing an example) from philosophy.

37 - Thabit and thalith are very similar in writing. The sentence is apparently incomplete.

38 - The passage is meaningless because the text has been wrongly copied. These certainly are speculations as to Kabbalistic implications of the usual Muslim profession of faith la ilaha illah-lah which in all such theosophical works is treated as eternal, and therefore profusely interpreted in tawil speculations. It is strange, however, that the scribe, if not the author, renders so meaningless such a well-known formula. The sentence, probably transcribed from a defective original, is obviously incomplete. Sectarian educated men whom I asked to explain the passage fared no better than myself.

39 - The meaning apparently is that as all letters consist of lines, like alif it is possible with its help to write the whole alphabet.

40 - I have already referred to the similar Hurufi ideas on the point. Cf. p. 162.

41 - So I was told by some educated sectarians. Bayyina, as they think, here stands for the usual Bayan Just immediately after, however, bayyina appears to man simply the numerical value of letters. Perhaps here Zubur is not Psalms, but simply a name for Kabbalistical calculations?

42 - Cf. above, where it is pir, murshid and pir-i dalil .

43 - The expression mi-farmayand perhaps implicitly refers to some religious authorities, possibly the priest from whom the author derived this wisdom.

44 - Here shay'iq with yay-i wahdat , " something(material)"

45 - In this darwish picture of the word its relation with the Deity are those of a murid disciple, with his spiritual instructor. Such relations are projected upon everything.

46 - It is not clear what that "it" was which purified the world

47 - This is no la of negation, but the ligature lam-alif

48 - Here surat is used in the colloquial meaning of "face". Thus it is unequivocally stated that Adam was an incarnation of the Deity.

49 - Jawal namudan may simply mean "to appear" (to become apparent).

50 - In all such stories one may see continuous oscilation between the Ali-ilahi conception of Adam and the Coranic version of the myth.

51 - This simply implies the continuity of the Incarnation.

52 - As many masdars in the colloquial Persian usage, iman

53 - Thus the assistants of the Angel of Death are consubstantial with God. This sounds strange, and may be the result of an error on the part of the copyist.

54 - Here pir-i dalil is thus mentioned twice, although at the ceremony there can only be one. It is clear therefore that we should read pir-i dua as the most suitable person, to correct an error.

55 - No one could explain to me what was the amanat Another amanat (sunduq -i amanat ) is mentioned at the end of the fragment, in the possession of the evil spirit.

56 - This is simply a figurative expression, not to be taken literally.

57 - This has been discussed above, pg. 166

58 - This most probably means the exchange of information concerning the signs of the return of the Incarnation.

59 - This expression may equally mean and they held a jam according to the rules laid down for such purpose.

60 - Either the author or the copyist is extremely negligent in his writing. In addition to this he has the habit of abbreviating the sentence in such a way that it become meaningless. His sentence is obviously a contraction of two sentences : wa usul-i jam' pany ast wa in in ast

61 - This is apparently a mistake for ldhut, Divinity.

62 - Tajalli farmudan may be translated : "to shine over: or "rise above."

63 - Wali, as is known, means deputy, lieutenant. The passage is apparently full of mistakes. The usual Sufic hierarchy is 1:4:7:12:40:72:360. It is the 360 that are rijal-i ghayb.

64 - How these two "belong" to the Qutb All the sectarians to whom I showed this text could make nothing of it, and expressed surprise concerning these enigmatic two. Qutbq certainly, must be one."

65 - These meaningless sentences were apparently intended to mean the calculation of the sum of these numbers, and give an explanation of its Kabbalistic significance.

66 - In this system of filling the vacancies that periodically occur the general principle is that of the promotion of a candidate from the next lower rank. Therefore it seems probable that the word Adam at the end of the scheme simply refers to the promotion of an ordinary man to fill the vacancy amongst the seventy two.

67 - Ta'us has been discussed above. The word Ka'us is apparently simply "assonantal" ( tabi )

68 - Cf. Ummu'l-Kitab where the evil spirit is often called Jannb al-Jann (197, 200, 203, 336)

69 - No one has been able to explain to me what the amanat (deposit, security) was, and why it was kept in a box.

70 - The expression pad shah-i ishq sounds quite extraordinary. Perhaps its strangeness is the result of the interruption of the sentence in which it occurs.