Bahai Commentary on Surah of the Sun

Commentary on the Surah of the Sun



Commentary on the Surah of the Sun

Introduction by

Juan R.I. Cole,

Department of History,

University of Michigan

Baha'i Studies Bulletin vol. 4, nos. 3-4 (April 1990):4-22


(1) Todd Lawson, "Interpretation as Revelation: The Qur'an Commentary of Sayyid `Ali Muhammad Shirazi, the Bab (1819-1850), in Andrew Rippin, ed., Approaches to the History of the Interpretation of the Qur'an (Oxford at the Clarendon Press, 1988), pp. 223-53. (2) Baha'u'llah, Majmu`ih-yi alvah-i mubarakih-yi hadrat-i Baha'u'llah, ed. Muhy'd- Din Sabri (Cairo: Sa` dat Press, 1920; repr. Wilmette, Il.: Baha'¡ Publishing Trust, 1978), pp. 2-17. (3) "Tafsir Surat 'Wa'sh-Shams,'" in Baha'u'llah, Majmu`ih, Sabri ed., p. 11. (4) Nasiru'd-Din Abu Sa`id `Abdu'llah ash-Shirani al-Baydawi, Anwar at-tanzil wa asrar at-ta'wil (Beirut: Dar al-Jil, n.d.), pp. 800-801 for a literalist, or at least highly concrete, exegesis of the Surah of the Sun. (5) Baha'u'llah, al-Kitab al-aqdas (Bombay, n.d.), p. 107: "Inna'lladhi yu'awwilu ma nuzzila min sama'il-wahy wa yukhrijuhu `an az-zahiri, innahu harrafa kalimata'llahi." (6) Ibid., pp. 38-39. (7) I was urged by Franklin Lewis of the University of Chicago to make clearer in this revision (1 April 1994) the distinction between a perhaps more Apollonian semiotic approach that would stress polyvalence, and the more Dionysian approach of Derrida's deconstruction, which would talk of semantic ambiguity and instability. I do not myself believe deconstruction is altogether incompatible with elements of Babi-Baha'i epistemology, but in this paper I am simply opening the question. I do wish to suggest that in any case the alternative Western traditions of positivism and the Vienna circle approach to language analysis are unlikely to be as helpful in understanding Baha'u'llah's and the Bab's approaches to textual interpretation as are either semiotics or postmodernism (the latter itself diverse and not limited to deconstruction). (8) Shoghi Effendi Rabbani, The World Order of Baha'u'llah (Wilmette, Il: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1969), p. 150.
Appendix I Qur'an 91, The Surah of the Sun By the sun and its noonday brightness! By the moon when it followeth it! By the day when it revealeth its glory! By the night when it enshroudeth it! By the heaven and that which built it! By the earth and that which spread it forth! By a soul and Him who fashioned it! And informed it of its wickedness and its piety; Blessed now is he who hath kept it pure, and undone is he who hath corrupted it! Thamud in their insolence rejected their prophet, When the greatest wretch among them rushed up: Said the Apostle of God to them, "The Camel of God! Let her drink." But they treated him as an impostor and hamstrung her. So their Lord destroyed them for their crime, and visited all alike: Nor feared He the issue thereof. [Translation based on Rodwell, but modified by Cole, sometimes with reference to Arberry.]
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