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COLLECTIONPersonal compilations
TITLECamphor Fountain: Compilation and Commentary
AUTHOR 1Mark A. Foster
NOTES Mirrored with permission from
TAGS- Islam; - Symbolism; 1260; Akka, Israel; Camphor; Camphor Fountain; Fountains (metaphor); Interfaith dialogue; Words and phrases
The Arabic káfúr was imported into English as camphor, but it originally comes from the Sanskrit, karpuram. Of course, camphor is a fragrance - something which is a source, or means, of attraction. The "camphor fountain" was first mentioned in the Qur'an. I have saved what I believe to be the meaning of camphor fountain until the end of this essay. -M.F.
Bahá'í References

"Blessed the one that hath drunk from the Spring of the Cow and washed in its waters, for the black-eyed damsels quaff the camphor in Paradise, which hath come from the Spring of the Cow [i.e., Aynu'l-Baqár, located in `Akká, Israel], and from the Spring of Salvan (Siloam) [located in Jerusalem, Israel], and the Well of Zamzam [located in Mecca, Saudi Arabia]. Well is it with him that hath drunk from these springs, and washed in their waters, for God hath forbidden the fire of hell to touch him and his body on the Day of Resurrection."
-- Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p.180

"I have asked the Guardian concerning the exact meaning of the word `Dayspring'. Literally it means `Dawn'. It is sometimes used in the sense of `Horizon' or `Rising point', and taken figuratively it is equivalent to fountain or source. It can also be used as referring to a Manifestation of God, as in the following expression `Dayspring of Truth'."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 19, 1935) -- Multiple Authors, Lights of Guidance, p.480

"But the righteous shall drink of a cup tempered at the Camphor Fountain, a gushing spring at which the servants of God will refresh themselves: they who keep their vows and dread the far-spread terrors of judgement-day; who, though they hold it dear, give sustenance to the poor man, the orphan, and the captive, saying: 'We feed you for Gods sake only; we seek of you neither recompense nor thanks.'"
-- Qur'an 76:5

"The first duty prescribed by God for His servants is the recognition of Him Who is the Dayspring of His Revelation and the Fountain of His laws, Who representeth the Godhead in both the Kingdom of His Cause and the world of creation."
-- Bahá'u'lláh, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p.19

"Cleave to the Root of Knowledge, and to Him Who is the Fountain thereof, that thou mayest find thyself independent of all who claim to be well versed in human learning, and whose claim no clear proof, nor the testimony of any enlightening book, can support."
-- Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings, p.177

"When one meditates over the general trend of affairs and drinks deep from the fountain of the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh and Abdu'l-Bahá he is bound to come to the conclusion that this world is no world of attachment; nay rather it constantly gives us the lesson of keeping aloof as far as possible from it."
-- From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian, Bahiyyih Khanum, p.187

Make my prayer, O my Lord, a fountain of living waters whereby I may live as long as Thy sovereignty endureth, and may make mention of Thee in every world of Thy worlds.
-- Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Aqdas: Other Sections, p.93

Beware lest ye be hindered by the veils of glory from partaking of the crystal waters of this living Fountain. Seize ye the chalice of salvation at this dawntide in the name of Him Who causeth the day to break, and drink your fill in praise of Him Who is the All-Glorious, the Incomparable.
-- Bahá'u'lláh, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p.38

"A kindly tongue is the lodestone of the hearts of men. It is the bread of the spirit, it clotheth the words with meaning, it is the fountain of the light of wisdom and understanding."
-- Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p.15

"May God cause him [Mirza Mihdiy-i-Kashani] to inhale the sweet scent of holiness in the highest Paradise, and refresh him with the crystalline wine cup, tempered at the camphor fountain. Unto him be salutations and praise. His fragrant tomb is in Akká."
-- `Abdu'l-Bahá, Memorials of the Faithful, Page: 97

Even clearer is the following statement by `Abdu'l-Bahá:

"The holy Manifestations of God were sent down to make visible the oneness of humanity. For this did They endure unnumbered ills and tribulations, that a community from amongst mankind's divergent peoples could gather within the shadow of the Word of God and live as one, and could, with delight and grace, demonstrate on earth the unity of humankind. Therefore must the desire of the friends be this, to bring together and unify all peoples, that all may receive a generous drink of this pure wine from this cup that is `tempered at the camphor fountain.'"
-- `Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá, p.278

Islámic References

"Yahya related to me from Malik from Ayyub ibn Abi Tamima as-Sakhtayani from Muhammad ibn Sirin that Umm Atiyya al- Ansariyya said, "The Messenger of Alláh, may Alláh bless him and grant him peace, came to us when his daughter died and said, 'Wash her three times, or five, or more than that if you think it necessary, with water and lotus leaves, and at the end put on some camphor, or a little camphor, and when you have finished let me know.' When we finished we told him, and he gave us his waist-wrapper and said, 'Shroud her with this.'"

It should be washed with water and sidr (lote tree leaves) and in the last washing camphor should be added to the water.

"The Prophet Himself, immaculate in His person, loved fragrances, used musk, ambergris, and camphor and used to burn aromatic woods. At one point, after not having received any revelation for some time, He said to a companion: 'How can revelations not be interrupted when you do not trim your nails, nor clip your moustache, nor cleanse your finger- joints.'"

"Bathe the [dead] body of this [girl] with water and berry leaves three times or five times or even more if required and add camphor to the water with which you bathe her.

"Bathe this girl odd number of times: three or five or seven times and begin with her right side and from the limbs by which wudu is done." (Bukhari: No. 1254)

"A dead body should be washed thrice, first with the water mixed with berry (Sidr) tree leaves, then with the water mixed with camphor and finally with pure water."áám/15.htm

"In several important traditions, the Prophet (Pbuh) has stressed on the value of purity and cleanliness in such a way that it seems to be one of the surprising Islámic issues to any intellectual.

"Cleanliness is half of faith. [Mizan al-Hikmat, v.5, p.558]

"The first thing that is considered in the Hereafter is cleanliness. [Ibid]

"The Prophet (Pbuh) was extremely sensitive to the issue of oral and dental hygiene, cleaning hair and face, clothes and furniture, lanes and streets and even the dead. He was also superior to all in following hygienic rules and cleanliness. He ordered the dead to be washed with lotus and camphor water.

From the above, it seems as though camphor fountain, or a camphor cup, may be a reference to purity. So, drinking of the camphor fountain might be a metaphor for purifying oneself from sin through the grace of God. -M.F.
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