Babism, Russia, and Islam

Discussion in 'Baha'i' started by iBrian, Mar 7, 2004.

  1. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    While I was looking around for some proper spellings to work with, I came across a Muslim website that spoke against the origins of the Bahai Faith.

    While I can appreciate that such a piece would hardly be a good place to learn about Bahai history, I'd like to reference specific parts, so that members here can correct certain claims and make counter-points. That would certainly help myself with regards to the history of the faith. :)

    A principle claim is that around the time of the rise of Babism, Iran and Russia were at a peak of conflict with one another. More specifically, that the rise of Babism was a Russian engineered tactic to help divide and conquer the peoples of Iran (this is also an old British Empire tactic :( ).

    Here's an excerpt, which claims the Russia influence was given fruit by early violence by the followers of Babism:

    I won't quote the rest because it then goes into vitriolic posturing.

    However, this part about Russian involvement bears closer inspection:

    The reasons for posting this is so that I can more properly explore the early roots of Bahai.

    I appreciate that there will almost certainly be counter-literature to these claims, but rather than simply link out to other articles, or else repost them in entirety, I would be very grateful if excerpts could be posted, interspersed by personal words and comment.

    I'm also interested in finding out how closely Bahai associates itself with Babism - are they one and the same, or is Bahai a more specialised form? Or are they not particularly related theologies?
     
  2. Ocean_Drop

    Ocean_Drop World Citizen

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    That's interesting stuff.

    Other titles also available are: -

    A History of European Jews - Author: The Nazi Party
    A History of African-Americans - Author: KKK

    The point I'm trying to make here is that there are always enemies whos' heavy bias mustn't be forgotten. For example, in the 2nd century AD, Porphyry - who was amongst the greatest Platonic philosophers - wrote a large book full of abusive attacks on His Holiness Christ and His disciples. Ferento, the tutor of one of the greatest philosophers King Antonius wrote some 15 volumes speaking against the Christian religion. Others still include Emperor Marc Antony, Epictetus and Emperor Julian, who were all eminent philosophers yet denounced Christianity and referred to them in terms such as would be improper to reproduce here.

    I could go into the specific falsities of the claims produced against the Bahai Faith. However, I feel it's evident to Bahai's, and even to those who have learned some of the Baha'i basics from reputable sources, that their claims rest on the crumbling foundations of factual error and heavy bias.

    Ocean Drop
     
  3. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    I am quite aware that the source is quite biased against Baha'i faith. What I'm doing is inviting correction on the record here, as I'm sure many members will also be quite unfamiliar with Baha'i as a faith.

    Also, as this forum is well indexed by search engines, the extent of this public record - and the ability to directly answer specific criticisms, I would recommend as an opportunity. :)

    My leaning to reading history tends to be very much Ancient Graeco-Roman, and their influence through Byazantium to it's fall. I don't tend to read much after the mediaeval period, though I have read some European history from the nineteenth century, principly the Industrial Revolution in Britain (mostly socio-political), as well as something of the life and times of Bismark and the evolution of the state of Germany (1860-1890). Russia is a country I know almost nothing about from a historical perspective, let alone a Russian-Persian conflict. Sure, I could search for informative sources online, but I fear the advent of Babism would be little more than a footnote. That's why I particularly invite a perspective from Baha'i members.
     
  4. Ocean_Drop

    Ocean_Drop World Citizen

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    On this occasion I will answer the specific statements made about the Bahai Faith on the cited page.

    At such an opportune moment, Bab with the help of the Russian Ambassador, Kiniyaz Dolgorouki, claimed himself to be the Bab (Gate) of Imam Mahdi (A Travellers Narrative, Abbas Effendi Page 4).

    FALSE. Let's see if you can find a single reference to Russia in the supposed reference http://bahai-library.com/?file=abdulbaha_travellers_narrative.html#4 .

    Then on reaching Kerbala in May 1844, under the influence of Isa Lankarani, again a Russian Agent, he claimed himself to be Imam Mahdi himself. (A Travellers Narrative Page 14).

    FALSE. Again see if you can find a single reference to Russia or Isa Lankarani in the supposed reference http://bahai-library.com/?file=abdulbaha_travellers_narrative.html#14 .

    Supposed writings of The Bab in the Bayan: -
    1. "O my followers! Surely Allah has made fighting obligatory for you. You must conquer the cities and the people for Babism and don’t be at peace with those who reject Babism". (Bayan, Arabic Chapter 1)

    2. "Allah has made obligatory on every Babi king that he should not let a single person remain alive in his kingdom who does not accept Babism. (Bayan, Arabic Chapter1 ) 3. "Loot and plunder the properties of those who do not accept Babism. (Bayan, Arabic Chapter 1) 4. "Erase all the books from the face of the earth except those written about Babism" (Bayan, Arabic Chapter 1) 5. "O enemies of Bab!! Even if you bathe 1000 times, you will never become clean", (Bayan, Persian Chapter 2 ) 6. "If a Babi acquires a thing from a non-Babi, then by the transfer of the thing, it becomes lawful for him". (Bayan, Chapter 4)


    FALSE. In fact, the Arabic Bayan has yet to be translated officially! Therefore, these are HIS TRANSLATIONS! If that isn't enough to make you question their credibility, compare them with the provisional english translation of the Persian Bayan at http://bahai-library.com/?file=bab_bayan_farsi_maceoin.html . You will find there is nothing remotely similar to what was quoted.

    As expected, the result of such a baseless and inciting utternaces led to total upheaval in Iran. Babis, the followers of Bab who were totally captivated by Bab and who advocated total submission to his will and commands, set forth to actualise his commandments. Thus, was created a scene of chaos and anarchy. The Babis started looting and plundering the adjoining villages and whatever they could lay thier hands upon. If they met with any resistance, then they would burn the entire village. For details, one can refer to the book of ‘Materials For The Study of Babism’ by Professor E. G. Browne, Page 241. In one such village the Babis saw that some non-Babis had sought protection. Mulla Hussain and some other Babis arrived at the village and killed 130 people in one night.

    Firstly, though I don't have a link for the Professor E.G. Browne reference, no such events have ever been recorded, let alone by an eminent western Baha'i (Professor E.G. Browne, Cambridge University). Next, it was the fact that the Babi's were told NOT to fight that over ten thousand of them were martyred and tortured and offered no resistance. To this testify countless records detailing one of the most brutal periods in Persia's history, with thousands of Babi's who, offering no resistance, had their eyes gouged out, horse shoes nailed to their feet, holes dug into their bodies and candles inserted then paraded publicly, hot bricks pressed against their flesh, and on and on.

    THE RUSSIAN ATTEMPT TO SAVE THE BAB: The Bab was taken from prison with one of his followers for execution in one of the squares of Tabriz which was jammed with people for watching the slaying of the apostate. The Russian consul approached the commander of the firing squad and offered him a large bribe to save the Bab.

    The Bab and his follower was tied to a large post while the people cursed him and pressed for a speedy execution. The Russian consul stood among them in astonishment. The soldiers fired 8 shots which landed in the body of the deceived follower, except one, which cut off the rope with which the Bab was tied. When the smoke cleared, the people saw the body of the follower at the foot of the post, riddled with bullets. The Bab escaped when the bullet cut off the rope. Some of the soldiers who were aware of the Bab, but ignorant of the commanders intention, peppered him with bullets, whereupon the Russian consul burst into tears. This action of the Russian consul exposes the Russian connection in this conspiracy. .... The religion of Bab and Bahaullah was a Russian brainchild, and hence the first ‘Mashriqul Azkan’ (place of worship) of the Bahaiis was set up in Ahiqabad province in Russia with the aid of the Russians. (Bahjatus Sudoor, page 271 by Mirza haider Ali Isfahani, Mumbai edition).


    I've never heard such a bizarre account of a spectacle that was witnessed by other 10,000 people. Here's a description that matches the many, many others made of this event http://martyrdom-of-the-bab.123holiday.net/ . Although Baha'i's won't use miracles as proof of their Faith, the account of The Bab's Martyrdom - as witnessed by thousands - is unrivalled in all history and has been compared to the Crucifixion of Christ.

    As for the book he cited (Bahjatus Sudoor, Mirza haider Ali Isfahani), I can find no reference of such a book existing. Even if it did, judging by the previous references it is likely that it is completely unrelated and unsupporting of his feeble arguments.

    As we can see, this page has no credibility and as previously stated, it rests on the crumbling foundations of false information and heavy bias, if not intense prejudice, against the Bahai Faith.

    Ya'Baha'El'Abha! (O Thou Glory of the Glories!!)

    Ocean Drop
     
  5. barefootgal9

    barefootgal9 Baha'i

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    Bab'i & Russian links

    Thank you Ocean, for the excellent text links.

    Brian, the relationship of the Bab'i Faith and Baha'i is comparable to the followers of John the Baptist to Christ's -- ie, His mission was a neccessary preparation for the One to follow immediately. He declared that His entire purpose was to prepare the path for "Him Whom God Wilt Manifest" - the "Qaim" or Lord of the Age.

    I must amend Ocean's comments somewhat to clarify a couple of historical points:

    The Bab did not forbid Jihad -- His followers in this respect were still following the laws of the Quran -- and thus they did arise on a number of occasions to fight their attackers. This did seem to prove the cleric's claim that it was a political uprising as well as a heresy, and helped fuel the persecutions mentioned by Ocean.

    Before His martyrdom, the Bab -- besides conferring upon Mirza Husayn Ali 'i Nuri the title of "Baha'u'llah" -- sent to Him His seals, pens, etc. and urged the Babi's to follow His guidance.

    Shortly thereafter, Baha'u'llah was arrested, along with many others perceived to be "leaders" in the Babi Movement, and it was during His imprisonment in "The Black Pit" in Teheran that Baha'u'llah became imbued with the Spirit of Revelation. Each day, guards would take one of the companions of Baha'u'llah out into the upper courtyard and execute him -- and there is no doubt that it was the intent of the clerics that Baha'u'llah, too, should be executed -- if the conditions in the prison didn't do the job for them!

    Now here is where there actually is a "Russian link" -- Baha'u'llah's brother in-law was the Russian Consul, and after pleading and reasoning failed, he threatened that Persia would have to answer to Russia if the least hair on the blessed head of Baha'u'llah should come to harm! Thus he was able, finally, to secure Baha'u'llah's release on condition that Baha'u'llah be exiled beyond the borders of Persia (parts of which at that time, including the region of Adjerbayjan, were provinces of the Russian empire, and yes, the first Baha'i House of Worship was built in Adjerbayjan -- after the Russian revolution the building was seized by the Soviets and used for government offices for a few years, until it was destroyed by an earthquake).

    Baha'u'llah was invited to emigrate to Russia, but He declined, going instead to Baghdad, where in 1863, He announced His own revelation.

    Baha'u'llah's laws supplanted and abrogated the laws of the Bab's Bayan. Among His first acts was to declare Jihad no longer lawful, and the focus of all His teachings thereafter were to transform His followers into peacemakers, and to avoid all political intrigue, and be citizens "worthy of the trust" of their nations' governments. (IMHO - The transformation of the Babi's into Baha'is, may be His greatest miracle!)

    "It behoveth the people of Bahá to die to the world and all that is therein, to be so detached from all earthly things that the inmates of Paradise may inhale from their garment the sweet smelling savor of sanctity, that all the peoples of the earth may recognize in their faces the brightness of the All-Merciful, and that through them may be spread abroad the signs and tokens of God, the Almighty, the All-Wise. " (Epistle to the Son of the Wolf)

    It took, however, many decades for most outside the movement to realize that Baha'is were no longer identical with the remnant of the Bab'is who did not recognize Baha'u'llah (the vast majority did recognize Him). In addition to this, there were many false texts written by Baha'u'llah's enemies and circulated with the claim that they were from Baha'u'llah's pen, in which all manner of sedition and heresy were seemingly promoted ... which succeeded in bringing down upon Bah'u'llah and His followers no end of suffering, imprisonments and martyrdoms! The enemies of the Faith therefore continued to stir up mob frenzy against the believers ... and sadly, continue to do so sometimes even today.

    This is overly brief ... the early history is pretty complex. But, as you can see, it is quite possible that some Muslims are still accessing and quoting texts and "historical" materials that were never anything but complete fabrications.

    Only the spiritual principle "By there fruits shall ye know them" will the Baha'is eventually become free of the false accusations. This makes it all the more imperative to Baha'is that their deeds reflect the actual teachings of Baha'u'llah, who said, after one particularly unfortunate instance when a few of His followers broke under the strain and murdered a tormenter:

    "My imprisonment doeth Me no harm, neither the tribulations I suffer, nor the things that have befallen Me at the hands of My oppressors. That which harmeth Me is the conduct of those who, though they bear My name, yet commit that which maketh My heart and My pen to lament." (Epistle to the Son of the Wolf)
     
  6. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    I am indebted that both have taken the time to explain something of this for the public record - and I am especially thankful for the historical aspect from barefootgal9, as this is especially close to my intention of asking. :)
     
  7. barefootgal9

    barefootgal9 Baha'i

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    Thank you -- I was just a little worried it might be too much!

    And thank you for the opportunity to put the (well, I shouldn't say "the" -- my understanding of the...) Baha'i viewpont "on the record" -- tho a better historian than I would probably do a better job and perhaps correct me in a few details.
     
  8. El Greko

    El Greko Active Member

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    Prophets of God or God Incarnate?

    I am one of those folk who cannot even pronounce the name of your prophets leaders let alone know a single thing about there lives, but can I ask if they claimed to be God Incarnate like Jesus or were earthly prophets like Moses and Elijah and John the Baptist?
     
  9. berinwitness

    berinwitness Member

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    It's a bit more complicated than that. Our two co-founders did not claim to be God Incarnate. According to Baha'i teaching, God cannot incarnate His essence. Instead They called Themselves "Manifestations of the attributes of God".
    But to Baha'is, Moses, Jesus, the Bab, Baha'u'llah (and some other Founders of religions) are all equal. They are all Manifestations. Elijah and John were of lesser status.
     
  10. Ocean_Drop

    Ocean_Drop World Citizen

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    Hi El Greko,

    Ok pronounciations: -

    The Bab. Pronounced: Somewhere between The Barb/The Bob
    Baha'u'llah. Prounounced: Approx. Bah - har - oo - lar
    Abdu'l'Baha. Pronounced: Ab - dool - Bah - har

    As mentioned above, we have the concept of Manifestation of God - that is to say The Bab and Baha'u'llah (the two Manifestations of the Baha'i Faith) were like perfectly polished mirrors reflecting forth the attributes of God. This maintains the Oneness and Perfection of God but also allows God to reveal His attributes to Mankind.

    Christians have the concept of the Trinity, which is likened to our concept of Manifestation of God as follows: -

    Father - the Sun
    Son - the Mirror
    Holy Spirit - the Light

    A lot of Christians have differences over the Trinity, but here we can see how Christ both is and isn't God. Were we to say "there are 3 lights, one being reflected, one in the mirror and one in the sky" you would be right. Also, were we to say "the source of the Light is Single, Undivided, Perfect and One", you would also be right.

    Hope that helps!

    Warmest,
    Ocean Drop
     
  11. El Greko

    El Greko Active Member

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    Wow thanks I love that, I just love that, I love parables and picture language...its called multi media presentation these days,

    Mirror, Sun, Light ....... How utterly heavenly this is.

    There is always the....

    Cloud

    Rain

    Ice

    All H20 but different.

    Do you know any more?



    I took a Jewish friend to lunch today (Yes some of my best friends are Jewish) and he produced his lighter and asked me if I believed my mind was more powerful than all the computers in the world.

    I replied yes.

    Then he asked me to concentrate my powerful mind to blow out the flame.

    I tried really hard, but failed.

    His verdict: You can think all you want, but you have to act!

    I asked him where he got that from and it was when he was teaching salespeople to sell jewellery for a company called Cabuchon, he hit upon it because people would concentrate on the flame more easily and when they lit up for a cigarette when sales were going bad they would be inspired!

    PS - the company went bankrupt, but my friend practices what he preaches and survived.
     
  12. Susma Rio Sep

    Susma Rio Sep Well-Known Member

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    Cliche

    History of Baha'i, another case of not the messenger but the message?

    Actually I don't really find anything substantially new in Baha'i of the good things in it.

    There is a lot of wisdom for life in the history of human thought that has absolutely nothing to do with religion.

    So, when you read some wisdom pieces for life in a religion, then just take the wisdom and forget about the religion and the religion's founder.

    How do we judge whether the wisdom is really wisdom?

    Very simple: if it keeps you physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy.

    OK, wise guy, what is it to be healthy physically, mentally, and emotionally?

    When you can live comfortably with your body, when your mind is active and productive, and when you are happy with yourself and with others, nothwithstanding the annoyances of human interactions and the constraints of life in society and in the material world. Trying to make the best of every situation.

    If you are not physically comfortable, mentally active and productive, and emotionally happy, then write to me, I will help you.

    Then I will be another shaman or another megalomaniac messiah with grandiose ideas of helping others? Better you be your own teacher and master.

    Use you head. Start with common sense. Observe your dog pet and cat pet if you have any, or the neighbors', and learn from them. But comply with the conventional morality and the tolerated new trends of your immediate human society.

    Learn to think logically and develop practical attitudes in everything.

    Susma Rio Sep
     
  13. 9Harmony

    9Harmony goin' with the flow...

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    Dear Susma,

    I respectfully disagree...

    The history of morality has everything to do with religion, if not for these divine teachers sent to us throughout history mankind would still be in a state of utter degradation. They have been the source of knowledge and wisdom on earth. Every time one of them appears He releases a renewed spiritual impetus into the world. They infuse all of creation with a new measure of divine grace. It is because of this process that we have progressed to the state we are in.

    If you really study the progress that mankind has made before and after each manifestation, you will realize what I mean.

    The apparent wisdom in human thought is made possible through the divine grace bestowed on us by our Creator through His messengers.

    The message and the messenger go hand in hand. But even if you only heed the message and disregard the messenger that doesn't mean that the messenger did not fulfill their mission. You still took the message to heart and grew from it's wisdom. Whether or not you look to it's origin.

    Just my 2 cents.

    Loving Greetings, Harmony

    P.S. As for your statement that you don't find anything new in the Baha'i Faith. That is kind of the point...all of God's messenger came to renew the same message. They all re-emphasized the teachings brought by the previous teachers, there are new teachings each time, but the underlying message is the same.
     
  14. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    Some general notes:

    One of quotes that Brian brought up in his initial post here was the following:

    "The religion of Bab and Bahaullah was a Russian brainchild, and hence the first ‘Mashriqul Azkan’ (place of worship) of the Bahaiis was set up in Ahiqabad province in Russia with the aid of the Russians.

    (Bahjatus Sudoor, page 271 by Mirza haider Ali Isfahani, Mumbai edition)."

    I also haven't had any access to the text or source referred to but had some general comments to make...

    There's certainly no internal evidence that Babism or the Baha'i Faith was a "Russian brainchild" when you consider from the historical accounts that the Russian diplomats were mostly dependent on translators and the historical origin of the Babi movemnet was from the students of Shakh Ahmad and Siyyid Kazim... in other words, Babism had its rise generally among Shaykhi sources and not from a Russian source... Any serious student of the early history of Babism would acknowledge this.

    There were French, Russian and British diplomatic missions in Persiaat the time and when persecutions of the Babis occurred on a large scale and were observed by these Europeans they were in general sympathy with the Cause of the Bab.

    So what intercessions that did occur or what sympathies were expressed by foreign observers would be explained by their natural sympathy for an oppressed, persecuted minority.....

    One other point I wanted to explain was the intervention of Prince Dolgorouki in the affair of of the arrest and imprisonment of Baha'u'llah and this is from Nabil's Narrative "The Dawn Breakers" p. 603:

    There was a Mirza Majid who was His brother-in-law that acted as a secretary to Prince Dolgorouki and that was the connection between Baha'u'llah and the Russian mission. So it was through this Secretary to Prince Dolgorouki that the Prince intervened later to ease the conditioon of Baah'u'llah and see that He was fairly treated.

    When Baha'is many years later settled in Ishkabad which i believe today is in Tajikistan and was then in the Russian Empire it was largely because of not being able to practise their religion in Persia that this occurred.... Russian authorities were tolerant and allowed the Baha'is to operate openly and build their first House of Worship there.

    See the following site:

    http://www.bahaindex.com/documents/Ashkabad/

    As Persia and later Iran have had pressures from Russia and later the Soviet Union and experienced various interventions, the enemies of our Faith have tried to connect the Baha'is with this and thus try to play on Nationalistic sympathies as well as harness the animosity of the ecclesiastics opposed to the Baha'i Faith.

    Today, many of our enemies or antagonists connect the Baha'is to Zionism and the State of Israel as our world headquarters is in Haifa... And claim that when Baha'is around the world send their support to our headquarters we are supporting Israel and Zionism .....

    The Baha'i properties around Haifa and Akka however date well before the founding of Israel and go back to the time of the Ottoman Empire after Baha'u'llah was exiled in Akka.

    - Art
     
  15. barefootgal9

    barefootgal9 Baha'i

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    History of Baha'is in Ashkabad, Turkmenistan

    Found a fascinating article on on the early Baha'i community in Turkmenistan. The community was a leading center of the Baha'i Faith in the late 19th-early 20th century, elected the first Local Spiritual Assembly and built the first Baha'i House of Worship. At its peak, the community had about 4000 members before being dispersed and and finally eliminated in the 1930s by the Soviet regime.

    http://www.northill.demon.co.uk/relstud/turkmnst.htm

    In 1989, the Local Spiritual Assembly of Ashkabad was re-established. At that time there were 61 known Baha'is there. This was the first LSA to be elected after the fall of the Soviet Union.
     
  16. BruceDLimber

    BruceDLimber Baha'i

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    Hi, Ocean! :)

    For the recorrd, there is no "R" in the pronunciation of any of these words.

    "Baha'i" is technically pronounced "ba-HA-ee," but is usually just pronounced "ba-HIGH."

    "Baha'u'llah" is a bit more complicated. (As is shown by the accents often attached to these words) the first syllable is pronounced with an "A" sound like that in the word "can't" (that is, with a rather open mouth). The second syllable has an "A" that sounds like "awe." And the "u" (which is the "of" in "Glory of God") is correctly pronounced "o," like "doe" (but "oo" like "soon" is often substituted).

    So given all this, it's "ba-Ha-o-LLAH," or more informally, "ba-Ha-oo-LLAH."

    And as for 'Abdu'l-Baha, it's "ab-Dull-ba-HA."

    Best, :)

    Bruce
     
  17. BruceDLimber

    BruceDLimber Baha'i

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    Greetings, Brian! :)

    Others have already done a great job of explaining the facts about the sorts of accusations our opponents like to throw; I'll simply point out that it's always been popular among them to try to associate the Baha'i Faith with the "enemy du jour," whoever that happens to be at the moment!

    And as to what someone else was saying about not seeing anything new in the Baha'i teachings, there are indeed a number of new teachings. Among these are the facts that:

    • The Baha'i Faith is the first major religion to prohibit slavery in its original scriptures.
    • The Baha'i Faith is the first to stress the equality of men and women as a major point.
    • The Baha'i Faith is the first to require universal compulsory education.
    • And the entire democratic-but-non-political Baha'i administrative system is new and unprecedented, as well as already being in use world wide!

    There are others as well. . . .

    Finally, as folks have clarified, the Babis did indeed permit jihad with the Islamic proviso that it is defensive ONLY and may never include aggression against someone who is not fighting (or has ceased to do so). In contrast, the scriptures of the Baha'i Faith expressly forbid waging war at all!

    Regards,

    Bruce
     
  18. smkolins

    smkolins Bahá'í

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    one of the attributes of God is Self

    I might elaborate that the Manifestation is not just "the attributes of God" but the very Self of God:

    "Alas, alas, for that which befell Him Who was the Manifestation of the Self of God, and for that which He and His loved ones were made to suffer!" Gems of Divine Mysteries, Page 22

    "Know verily that the essence of justice and the source thereof are both embodied in the ordinances prescribed by Him Who is the Manifestation of the Self of God amongst men, if ye be of them that recognize this truth."
    Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, Page 175

    In this sense I do not equate God with His Self, but that like all attributes God has a Self too of which the Prophet is a/the presentation of. Put another way:
    "It is a long time since the Sun of Truth mirrored forth by the Lord Christ has shed its radiance upon the West, for the Face of God has been veiled by the sin and forgetfulness of man." --Paris Talks, Page 34

    "`O ye peoples of the earth! Turn yourselves towards Him Who hath turned towards you. He, verily, is the Face of God amongst you, and His Testimony and His Guide unto you." --Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, Page 48

    "Consider the past. How many, both high and low, have, at all times, yearningly awaited the advent of the Manifestations of God in the sanctified persons of His chosen Ones. How often have they expected His coming, how frequently have they prayed that the breeze of Divine mercy might blow, and the promised Beauty step forth from behind the veil of concealment, and be made manifest to all the world. And whensoever the portals of grace did open, and the clouds of divine bounty did rain upon mankind, and the light of the Unseen did shine above the horizon of celestial might, they all denied Him, and turned away from His face--the face of God Himself...." --Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, Page 17

    However it is also a throny issue - one which has caused division and strife in religions in the past. In _The Brilliant Proof_ it is elaborated:

    "One of the laws and ordinances peculiar to the Baha'i religion is the law prohibiting the interpretation of the Word of God. For interpretation of the Words and exposition of the personal opinion has been of the greatest means of dissension in the former religions, the cause of darkness of the horizon of faith and concealing the real meaning of the Book of God.

    It is evident fact that learned men differ in their minds, and natural gifts of sagacity and intelligence or the lack of understanding and comprehension vary in degrees among them. Thus when the door of interpretation and perverting of the Words from their outward meaning is opened, strange opinions and curious contradictory interpretations will result and different sects will arise among the one people and one religious community.

    ...

    Thus one of the explicit commands of this great Manifestation is the ordinance abrogating differences which separate men. It is because one of the occasions of dissension is difference of scholars with regard to the station of the Manifestation of the Cause. In former religions, even as testified by history, it has become evident that when in question of this kind a difference has arisen between two of the doctors of religion, both parties were firm in their standpoints and held tenaciously to their sides, while the laity, according to their usage, would adhere some to one and some to the other, thus closing the doors to agreement and unity to such an extent that religious fraternity was changed into deep and bitter strife and warfare. This is illustrated by differences which arose between Arius the priest and Alexander the Bishop of Constantinople, regarding the Trinity, in the fourth century, A.D.; also the Nestorian differences which took place in the fifth century between Nestorius the Bishop of Constantinople and the other bishops, which caused terrible wars and the shedding of precious blood. The effect of these sad dissensions has lasted until the present day."
     

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