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TAGS: Bab, Writings of; Calligraphy; Haykal and daira; Interfaith dialogue; Islam; Star Tablet of the Bab; Symbolism; Talismans; Translation
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Detailed analysis of the content and translation of an undated haykal; the relation between the Báb’s composition and the Qur'an; scriptural/verbal and figural/artistic modes of revelation; symbolism of the star shape; role of repetition; dominion.
Language: Arabic and English.

Haykal or "Star Tablet" Written in the Báb's Own Hand:
Form, Content, and Provisional Translation

by Dergham Aqiqi and Todd Lawson

About: This is an examination of a manuscript in the shape of a star written by the Báb in His own hand and held in the British Library (formerly British Museum). It bears the catalogue number BL Or 6887. This PDF is of a revised Power Point Presentation hosted by Dr. Kavian Milani, 29 August 2021, on Zoom. Dhergham Aqiqi and Todd Lawson’s presentation, following previous scholarship (see references in PDF), shows that the Arabic text of the talisman or haykal is typical of the Báb’s writings which are frequently characterized by a deep Qur'anic connection: the style reads and sounds like the Qur'an but the verses themselves are created by the Báb and not quoted from the Qur'an. This PDF presents a translation and enumeration of the various verses penned by the Báb for this beautiful figure.

A number of features and questions emerge:

  1. how to characterize satisfactorily the relation between the Báb’s composition and the Qur'an itself;
  2. how to understand the relation between the two modes of revelation represented here, scriptural or verbal, and figural or artistic (including calligraphic art);
  3. the symbolic meanings suggested by the star shape itself: a symbol of the perfect human? a symbol of the ongoing perfection of humanity?, a symbol for the divine manifestation?, a symbol of the Bahai revelation and cause? or all of these and more?
  4. the role of repetition in revelation and the Writings in general,
  5. the theme of the divine attribute of dominion, sovereignty and authority - mulk - mentioned repeatedly throughout this haykal and prominent throughout the Báb's writings, most notably in chapter 1 of the Qayyúm al-Asmáʾ, the Chapter of Dominion (mulk), revealed for Mulla Husayn during the Báb’s proclamation of His mission, 22 May 1844 ("2 hours and 11 minutes after sunset”).
Apart from these topics, this study also raises question about how best to translate such compositions and the significance of the numbers of repetitions and holy names and verses mentioned in the haykal. See also Further Reading, below.

Related articles and books

    Lawson, T: Art & the interconnectedness of all things

    Lawson, T: Qur’an Commentary as Sacred Performance

    Lawson, T: The Báb and James Joyce: A Comparison of Aesthetics and Method In the Qayyum al-Asma and Ulysses

    Lawson, T: The Dangers of Reading (a comparison of the Báb’s revelation with musical improvisation as in jazz)

    Lawson, T. Being Human, Los Angeles: Kalimat Press 2020

    Lawson, T. Gnostic Apocalypse, London: Routledge, 2011.

    McCants, W: A Grammar of the Divine: Solecisms in the Arabic Writings of the Báb

    Momen, M: Towards an aesthetics of the Báb

    Momen, M: published in Asian and African Studies Blog British Library, 2019-09-24, and, also accessible through

    Sahba, F., Art and Architecture: Bahai Perspective

    Haykal (pentacle talisman) #1, by Báb, The, in The Sources of Babi Doctrine and History, by Denis MacEoin (1992). Talisman drawn by the Bab; not identified. Visual Materials.

    Haykal (pentacle talisman) #2, by Báb, The. Talisman drawn by the Bab; not identified. Visual Materials.

    Haykal (pentacle talisman) #3, by Báb, The. Talisman of a prayer of the Bab; not identified. Visual Materials.

    Haykal (pentacle talisman) and da'ira (circle), by Báb, The. Talisman drawn by the Bab; not identified. Visual Materials.

    Haykal (pentacle talisman) and da'ira (circle), by Bahá'u'lláh. Talisman "prayer for protection" by Bahá'u'lláh; similar to many drawn by the Bab. Visual Materials.

    Haykal (pentacle talisman) Prayer for Protection, by Báb, The. Original text of a prayer for protection, written in the Báb’s own hand, in the form of a pentacle.

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