In the name of God/s, part 9: Bahá’ism/ Bahá’í faith

  • Founder/s: Mírzá Ḥusayn-`Alí Núrí (pictured above, renamed himself Bahá’u’lláh) and arguably his son ‘Abbás Effendí (renamed himself `Abdu’l-Bahá)
  • Approximate age: 152 years
  • Place of origin: Persia (Iran)
  • Holy book/s: Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Kitáb-i-Íqán, The Hidden Words (Kalimát-i-Maknúnih), The Seven Valleys (Haft-Vádí), and all of Bahá’u’lláh’s writings
  • Original language of holy book/s: Persian & Arabic
  • Demonym of adherents: Bahá’is
  • Approximate number of current global adherents: 5,000,000
  • Place of worship name/s: house of worship, mashriqul-adhkār

All my knowledge is from the Internet (especially Wikipedia and Patheos) and the book pictured below.

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Because for once I couldn’t be assed to type out the title!

Things I like about this faith:

It believes in progressive revelation, which means that unlike its Abrahamic predecessors (especially Islam) it believes God’s work on Earth isn’t done. This means it doesn’t consider itself the final eternal authority on morality. It has a more “mundane” understanding of the role of prophets/ messengers, as channels of divine truth for their people, culture & era. Including Bahá’u’lláh himself. As there were revelations in the past, there will be more in the future.

This means it also sees itself as the latest in a looooooooong-ass line of revelations.  Ultimately all religions are from the same source, and as such have unavoidable similarities. It’s basically unitarianism.

It doesn’t try to hide its origins. It’s very obviously influenced by Islam and makes no bones about it. Very unlike Yezidism. It’s explicit in stating it descended from Bábism, another post-Islamic Persian religion.

Unlike its Abrahamic predecessors, it emphasises equality of the sexes as a fundamental tenet. It’s pretty optimistic that such equality will be actualised – eventually.

In its emphasis on equality between all people, all races and colours of people were welcome to sit with Bahá’u’lláh. He stated, “A pigeon of white plumage would not shun one of black or brown” and “The coloured people must attend all the unity meetings. There must be no distinctions. All are equal“. Furthermore, he actively encouraged interracial marriages!

Dunno if this pertains to the religion or just the Persian-to-English transliterators, but I’m impressed how they retain the accents in all their writings! They make it clear that these words can’t be anglicised or mispronounced! It’s ba-haaee, not ba-hai!

Things I dislike:

The flipside of the “all-religions-are-from-the-same-source” dogma. This isn’t a dislike, merely a disagreement. It implies all religions are ultimately the same. That’s obviously not the case, as this whole post series shows. They don’t even agree on the number or nature of gods! How can they all be from him/her/them?

Its scriptures are very poetic. Strange criticism from a spoken word artist, but I’ve always felt ‘holy’ books should be prescriptive and straightforward, only speak in prose not verse*, and use metaphorical language if they intend something to be taken figuratively. Or better yet, don’t have anything that’s not meant to be taken literally! Another remnant of my Islamic ways? In regards to God, many parts of the scriptures I’ve read sound airy-fairy.

* because let’s face it, not everyone appreciates the existence of creative expression.

Contrary to its ideals, the faith is still misogynistic.

In Bahá’u’lláh’s own writings, women are not to inherit the property or belongings of the deceased. In the awaited Bahá’í state, the administrators are to have infallible authority over all social matters – and none of them will be women. Many attribute this to Bahá’u’lláh’s time in exile in the Ottoman empire, or possibly the increasing Islamic influence among his followers.

Marriage is compulsory as per the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. There is literally no choice in the matter, for marriage “causes procreation and multiplication of the servants of God”. In theory the parties must both consent, but in practise it can be very one-sided. Marriages can be arranged against both the girls’ and boys’ wills.

(Note: while his followers were only allowed one spouse, Bahá’u’lláh had 3 concurrent wives.)

 

See here for all of Bahá’u’lláh’s works.

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