Bahai Faith

Topic locked
  • Reply
Bahai faith Posted Mar 15, 2008
have you heard about the Bahai faith?
I'd like to know what you think about it.

spoonman
Dubai Forums Frequenter
User avatar
Posts: 134

  • Reply
Posted Mar 15, 2008
I've studied the Bahai faiths as well as the history. I got books and discussed with practicing Bahais as well.

I've read one of their holy books - Kitab e Aqdas in full and a number of other books.

Bab, who came before Bahai-ullah, was a claimed prophethood and new revelations but he suffered the fate of false prophets - he was killed rather than died a natural death.

Baha-ullah claimed to be a 'manifestation' of God - rather than a prophet of God.

Bahais were seen as political subversives in Iran and agents of the Russians. There is much evidence to back this up - and much of the violence against Bahais were as a result of their political views rather than religion.

On a purely religious aspect, they have an intriguing way of presenting the faith. In the East they make more emphasis on being an off-shoot of Shia Islam, whereas in the West they emphasise more on the similarities with Buddhism and Christianity.

The teachings are not internally consistent either, nor do they stand to historical examination.

Initially Bahai was a disciple of the Bab - and early writings of Bahaullah showed he agreed that Bab's teachings were eternal or would last thousands of years. However, Bahaullah's teachings later diverged from those of the Bab and there was a split in the followers of the Bab, some following Bahaullah and others choosing not to.

The numbers of Bahais in the world is also highly suspect - I personally know that efforts to corroborate numbers of Bahais in certain African countries revealed that there were not the numbers claimed by Bahais there.

The political power of the Bahais is interesting - they have strong links in the US and are disproportionately powerful in the UN. If I remember correctly, Esperanto (the attempt at a universal language) was a Bahai intiative.

Anyway - the religious aspects are what interested me most and what I discovered is that the teachings are extremely flexible. Bahaullah taught that instead of 5 daily prayers, these could be said 3 times a day (if I recall rightly) - and that the prayers should not be in the direction of Mecca but towards him (so where ever he moved around, the Bahais had to know where he was so they could pray in that direction). This I discovered from Bahai sources and not from opposition writings (of which I have also read).

Ultimately, Bahaullah and Bab came from Shia Muslim traditions and I view them as other off-shoots such as the Druze in Lebanon.

Cheers,
Shafique
shafique
Dubai Shadow Wolf
User avatar
Posts: 13533

  • Reply
Posted Mar 16, 2008
Thanks Shafique,

You've managed to gather every negative comment about them in a single post.

can you please point me to any facts/articles/writings about this:
Bahais were seen as political subversives in Iran and agents of the Russians. There is much evidence to back this up - and much of the violence against Bahais were as a result of their political views rather than religion.


and this:
The teachings are not internally consistent either, nor do they stand to historical examination.
spoonman
Dubai Forums Frequenter
User avatar
Posts: 134

  • Reply
Posted Mar 16, 2008
Spoonman,

Well, I was typing from memory and therefore the lasting impression must be the negative comments! :)

As for references, sorry, I do not have my notes and papers with me in Dubai (I was wary about bringing over such material).

If you speak with the Bahais and ask them for examples of when they were persecuted and then go and refer to the records of the countries who did the 'persecution' you can compare and contrast the reasons for the punishments.

The issue is that for those in power, the Bahais etc were armed insurgents - and this was part of the teachings of the Bab - the requirement to take up arms and fight. This particular teaching was explicitly abrogated by Bahaullah in his writings (I think this is in Kitab e Aqdas) - and I remember he calls the previous teachings unjust.

That said, the actions of the Bahais did not change much (when you look at the instances when they fought with the authorities).

That they acted as agents for western powers is something that the Bahais can address. But as I said, also read up on what the authorities of the time accused them of. Certainly if you look at the way they have developed, they are almost unique in the support they get from the West, given that they are an off-shoot of Shia Islam.

As for religious teachings not being internally consistent - one is the principle of abrogation. For example they say that they do believe that Muhammad was a true prophet and that the Quran is the word of God. However, they reject the central claim of the Quran that Islam is the final religion and that worship should be directed to God alone. This is having your cake and eating it (and yes, I have discussed their logic for this inconsistency with them - and it involves rejecting the message of the Quran and accepting the view that Bahai is a manifestation of God with a newer message).

The teachings of Bahai, explicitly abrogate the teachings of Bab despite the fact Bab taught that his teachings would not be abrogated.

Also, initially both Bab and Bahai were waiting for the prophecised Muslim 'Mahdi' to arrive and were practicing Shia muslims (as were their followers). The differences between the current Bahai teachings and Shia Islam are many.

Cheers,
Shafique
shafique
Dubai Shadow Wolf
User avatar
Posts: 13533

  • Reply
Posted Mar 16, 2008
Dear Shaf,

I've read a lof of their books (almost all of them in farsi and a few in arabic , though couldn't undrestand much of the arabic ones, as my arabic is in a very basic level)

It is clearly stated that its a new religon completely different from islam while born from it. (it's like calling christianity a wild offshoot of judism)

The reason I asked was that moslems reaction toward a post-Islamic monotheistic religon could be quite nasty.

I've read a 200 page book that claimed that Muhammad never claimed he was the last prophet, though the last 'Nabi' (quite different from the word 'Rasool'). with a lot of quran verses and hadith supporting the idea.
the one I remember now is the verse in quran (va ena ja'alnakom omate vosta - we set you a nation in the middle of nations - my own translation :D)

Its quite the fly in the soup of shia muslems. Regarding the prosecutions, those were only in Islamic countries with the lowest tollerence for other beliefs. and another reason in Iran was that the first disagreements toward monarchy of Iran which led to the birth of the a parlimant and democracy was motivated and in some occasions led by Babis.

The dependecy on Russia, England and nowadays Isreal is the justification for the Iranian goverment to torture and murder them as much as they like. I dont see a logic in that, but I'm quite eager to see any connections.

and at the end the thing that matters to me about them is their take on Peace, violence and tolerance.
spoonman
Dubai Forums Frequenter
User avatar
Posts: 134

  • Reply
Posted Mar 16, 2008
spoonman wrote:Dear Shaf,

I've read a lof of their books (almost all of them in farsi and a few in arabic , though couldn't undrestand much of the arabic ones, as my arabic is in a very basic level)

It is clearly stated that its a new religon completely different from islam while born from it. (it's like calling christianity a wild offshoot of judism)


Have you read the writings of Bab and Bahaullah? I'd be interested in your views on their original teachings.

The current day books are clear about Bahaism being a new religion - this is how it is portrayed in the West. I didn't realise that this was also the case in Farsi literature. My understanding was that initial converts from Islam viewed the teachings as part of Shia teachings (Bab, for example prophecised that the time of the Mahdi was close, then Bahaullah claimed to be the fulfilment of the prophecy)

spoonman wrote:The reason I asked was that moslems reaction toward a post-Islamic monotheistic religon could be quite nasty.


For some, yes - but generally in history the variant traditions have been allowed to flourish. There are many Sufi sects who have traditions which are close to idolatory for many (just look at the list of sects the Wahabi's think are wrong!). Another sect that came from Shia traditions and has evolved into believing in reincarnation, not praying 5 times a day etc are the Druze of Lebanon.

As I said, my research has shown that the main reason for attacks against Bahais have been their political aims, not because of religion.

spoonman wrote:I've read a 200 page book that claimed that Muhammad never claimed he was the last prophet, though the last 'Nabi' (quite different from the word 'Rasool'). with a lot of quran verses and hadith supporting the idea.
the one I remember now is the verse in quran (va ena ja'alnakom omate vosta - we set you a nation in the middle of nations - my own translation :D)


All Muslims believe that there will be a reformer to come in the latter days - 'Imam Mahdi', and also that Jesus will come back. However, the Quran is quite clear that the religion of Islam represents the final evolution of religion for mankind, and that there will be no new law or religious values that will come after.

spoonman wrote:Its quite the fly in the soup of shia muslems. Regarding the prosecutions, those were only in Islamic countries with the lowest tollerence for other beliefs. and another reason in Iran was that the first disagreements toward monarchy of Iran which led to the birth of the a parlimant and democracy was motivated and in some occasions led by Babis.


It depends on whose 'spin' you are listening to. There are still Jewish people in Iran, as well as Zoroastrians and other faiths. In Shia (or Muslilm lands generally) there have not been the widespread and nasty anti-semitism found in Europe. There is a list (which Valkyrie will no doubt quote again) of incidences of violence against Jews in Muslim lands - but the list is relatively short and pales into insignificance with the European pogroms etc when you compare the numbers oppressed/killed.

Many would argue that the most oppressive muslim regimes today are Sunni (I won't name names, but note that I am a Sunni as well).

spoonman wrote:The dependecy on Russia, England and nowadays Isreal is the justification for the Iranian goverment to torture and murder them as much as they like. I dont see a logic in that, but I'm quite eager to see any connections.


Regimes throughout the world torture and murder those who oppose the ruling classes. Many countries have the death penalty for Treason. The question is what charges the Iranians are bringing against the Bahais. I believe there is no justification for torture and murder, but I do believe that governments have a right to combat insurrections.

Why would Russia support an off-shoot of Shia Islam? More interestingly, why would Israel? (My brother visited their headquarters in Israel a few years back - it is quite a wonderful building and grounds.)

spoonman wrote:and at the end the thing that matters to me about them is their take on Peace, violence and tolerance.


All religions have the same core values. I would argue that the actions matter as well - and for the Bahais, the history is not that rosy. They took up arms against the Persian rulers and Bab's teachings are pretty brutal.

This aspect is one of the inconsistencies I referred to in my previous post.

Cheers,
Shafique
shafique
Dubai Shadow Wolf
User avatar
Posts: 13533

  • Reply
Posted Mar 17, 2008
Thanks shafique,

Reading the contemporary history of Iran was my last year's obsession and these are the things I thing you were badly represented about:

1- Babi movement is seperate from Bahai, and their laws differ. as you know bab means door and he choose this name as he meant that he is the door to the promised one. Babis biggest task in life was to find the promised one (man yaz'horo allah) which Bahais claim is the Bahaulah. There are no or very few babis in Iran or anywhere else.

2- Bahais are strickly prohibited from involvement from politics. There is a Farsi verse that says: You are not a Bahai if you participate in any form of politic action. They are not allowed to show violence (even self defense) or even participate in a demonstration. The sweetest thing I've found is a verse that says if you religion was leading to violence and war, lose your religion instead of fighting.

(Both were not the exact translation, just what I remembered)

3- The reason that the Bahai headquarter is in Isreal is becuase bahaulah and his family were exiled to this place by Iran's goverment. That land was part of the ottomon's empire and no-one really cared about that place back then.


I believe that the propaganda about being politic or supported by russia or anywhere else is the muslim's justification for ingnoring them as a post-islamic religion.
spoonman
Dubai Forums Frequenter
User avatar
Posts: 134

  • Reply
Posted Mar 17, 2008
Spoonman,

I'll have to do some digging to get the references to the violent acts committed by Babis and Bahais, and also their links with Russia.

The teachings of Bahais are very well presented and marketed. This is what initially attracted me to study their teachings, and I went back to primary sources (which Bahai adherents kindly provided me with) - but this was a few years back. My study showed that when you dig into the substance of the teachings, it came out lacking (for me at least - I tend to insist on beliefs being logical :) )

A quick Google refreshed my memory about the book I read by Bab - the Al Bayan, have you read this?

The Bahai faith did break away from the teachings of Bab, but they still go and visit his shrine in Israel and revere him (even though he never identified Bahaullah as the promised one during his lifetime, and the fact that the Bayan is quite a violent and oppressive book - eg. calling for all non-Babi books to be destroyed).

I found Kitab-e-Aqdas to be less than inspiring - but I would be interested in your views. He says in there that prayers should be said towards him, and to this day Bahais pray facing his grave. This causes me some concern - praying to a person.

As an interesting side-note - on the point about Israel - did you know that Bahais aren't allowed to preach to Jews who reside or plan to reside in Israel? The universality of the Bahai religion does not extend to Jews.

http://bahai-library.com/index.php5?fil ... _in_israel


Anyway - I totally agree with their social messages and message of peace etc.

Cheers,
Shafique
shafique
Dubai Shadow Wolf
User avatar
Posts: 13533

posting in Philosophy and Religion ForumsForum Rules
1 Dubai Jobs .com The First Place to Find a Job in Dubai

Return to Philosophy and Religion Forums


  • Related topics
    Replies
    Last post