Two New Books on the Covenant and the Bab: Must Haves for Your Library
Two new books are now available. Both would make excellent additions to your personal library, your Bahá’í community’s library, and a college or university library. The books are Steadfastness in the Covenant: Responding to Tests and Tribulations by Abdu’l-Missagh Ghadirian and A Most Noble Pattern: Collected Essays on the Writings of the Báb, ‘Ali Muhammad Shirazi (1819–1850), compiled and edited by Todd Lawson and Omid Ghaemmaghami and introduced by Todd Lawson.
Steadfastness in the Covenant: Responding to Tests and Tribulations
Back-cover copy for Abdu’l-Missagh Ghadirian’s Steadfastness in the Covenant: Responding to Tests and Tribulations begins by asking a question: “Bahá’ís are encouraged to study the Covenant and to acquire steadfastness in it. But what are the requirements of faithfulness to the Covenant?” The book’s several sections answer the question with chapters on the Iranian Bahá’ís as an example of steadfastness in the Covenant, the Covenant and youth, the Covenant and individuals and communities, scholarship and the Covenant, and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the Center of the Covenant. The discussion of the Covenant begins by relating it to the upheavals associated with Bahá’u’lláh’s effect on the world’s inevitable transformation into a new order:
“The emergence of the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh and its implications for the progress of civilization coincides with accelerated crises in the world. These calamities, with their associated suffering and confusion, herald the advent of a transformation in the consciousness of people and their receptivity—whether positive or negative—to the teachings of the Bahá’í Faith
“No wonder, then, that Bahá’ís have been encouraged to study the Covenant and to acquire steadfastness in it. But what are the requirements of faithfulness to the Covenant?
“The Bahá’í writings tell us that persecution and trials will occur and intensify as the Cause emerges from obscurity to full recognition. A prime example of firmness in the Covenant amidst the fire of ordeals during our time is the Bahá’í community of Iran, to which part of this book is dedicated.
“The book also discusses what the Covenant means to the present generation of young Bahá’ís, and what are the challenges in one’s individual and community life in relation to the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh.
“Two chapters discuss issues related to scholarship and the Covenant. What is the meaning of scholarship in the Bahá’í Dispensation? What do the Bahá’í writings say not only about acquiring knowledge but also about the individual virtues and character which would distinguish Bahá’í academics and scholars in a world submerged in a competitive drive for entitlement and superiority? What is the role of these souls in the defense of the Cause and extending our knowledge toward a deeper understanding and application of the Bahá’í teachings in response to questions arising from current issues of society?”
“The concluding part of the book turns to the life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as the Perfect Exemplar and the Center of the Covenant of the Bahá’í Faith.
Dr. Abdu’l-Missagh Ghadirian served the Institution of the Learned for nearly thirty years in different capacities including many years as a member of the Continental Board of Counselors in the Americas. A member of the Canadian Bahá’í community, he teaches at McGill University in Montreal.
Steadfastness in the Covenant: Responding to Tests and Tribulations (256 pages) is available from the U.S. Bahá’í Distribution Service and from George Ronald Publisher. A Kindle version is available through Amazon.com.
A Most Noble Pattern: Collected Essays on the Writings of the Báb, ‘Ali Muhammad Shirazi (1819–1850)
You may be wondering, as I was, what “A Most Noble Pattern” means. When I asked Lawson, he shared with me his introduction to the book. In it he writes: “The title of this book may call to mind, especially among older readers, an early translation of Bahá’ulláh’s Long Healing Prayer where the rather interesting and perhaps somewhat opaque divine name ‘Most Noble Pattern’ was read as one in a long litany of divine names and attributes invoked in this especially powerful prayer.” In the six-page essay Lawson explores layers of meaning contained in “A Most Noble Pattern.” He concludes by referring to Shoghi Effendi’s direction that Bahá’ís should “strive to obtain . . . a sound knowledge of the history and tenets of Islám,” thus making it clear, as Lawson, puts it, that it is “a duty of the present to study the past in order that we perceive more fully the nobility of the pattern and the meaning that it has for us today.”
The sixteen essays include:
1. A General Introduction to the Qayyúm al-Asmá’ by Muhammad Afnan (translated by Omid Ghaemmaghami)
2. The Commentary on the Sura of Joseph by Nosratollah Mohammadhosseini
3. Khutbat al‑iftikhár, introduced and translated by Khazeh Fananapazir
4. Colours in the Writings of the Báb by Vahid Rafati (translated by Omid Ghaemmaghami)
5. A Grammar of the Divine: Solecisms in the Arabic Writings of the Báb and His Thoughts on Arabic Grammar by William F. McCants
6. Secrets Concealed by Secrets: Taqiyya as Arcanization in the Autobibliographies of the Báb by J. Vahid Brown
7. The Súrat adh-Dhikr of the Qayyúm al-Asmá’ (chapter 108): A Provisional Translation and Commentary by Moojan Momen
8. The Súrat al-‘Abd of the Qayyúm al-Asmá’ (Chapter 109): A Provisional Translation and Commentary by Todd Lawson
9. The Khutba al-Jidda (The Literary Sermon at Jeddah) of the Báb by Stephen Lambden
10. Muhammad Shah Qájár in Four Early Writings of the Báb by Sholeh A. Quinn
11. A Youth of Medium Height: The Báb’s Encounter with the Hidden Imam in Tafsír Súrat al-Kawthar by Omid Ghaemmaghami
12. Phenomenology of Occultation and Prayer in the Báb’s Sahífiy-i Ja‘faríyyih by Nader Saiedi
13. The Báb’s Panj Sha’n (Five Modes) by John Walbridge
14. Undermining the Foundations of Orthodoxy: Some Notes on the Báb’s Sharia (Sacred Law) by Armin Eschraghi
15. Concealment and Burial of the Báb, translated and annotated by Peter Terry
16. Collusion and Re-creation: Dogen and the Báb as Interpreters of Scripture by Gary Fuhrman
Todd Lawson holds the position of Associate Professor at the University of Toronto. He specializes in mystical Qur’anic exegesis, Shiism, and Sufism and is the author of numerous books, including The Gnostic Apocalypse in Islam (2009), The Crucifixion and the Qur’an (2009), and Gnostic Apocalypse and Islam: Qur’an, Exegesis, Messianism, and the Literary Origins of the Babi Religion (2011). Lawson earned his Ph.D. from McGill University in 1987.
Omid Ghaemmaghami was recently appointed Assistant Professor of Arabic at Binghamton University (State University of New York). He holds a Ph.D. in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies from the University of Toronto and an M.A. in Islamic and Near Eastern Studies from Washington University in St. Louis. Ghaemmaghami has lived for extended periods in Iran and Syria and has taught and lectured on Arabic and Islamic Studies at institutions in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Egypt. His research interests include Qur’anic exegesis and Islamic eschatology. He has published several articles and translations in these and other areas and was the inaugural recipient of the Waheed Samy Award for Excellence in Arabic Writing.
A Most Noble Pattern (320 pages) is available from George Ronald Publisher.