Bahai world religion or failed Islamic sect?

The Bahai letter below is a good piece to begin a review of it as a World Religion:

http://www.bahai.ie/

http://www.bahai.ie/contact1.htm

http://www.bahai.ie/ireland1.htm

In Ireland they have been around for a number of years, but I came across them first in limerick in the early 70’s. Generally they had a very peaceful profile and seemed to be a helpful player when confronted by the sectarian Protestant/ Catholic conflict.

Also there was a great deal of sympathy for them as many had to flee the persecution in Iran after the Revolution in 1979.

“I would like to point out that the Baha’i Faith is not a branch any other faith but is the newest independent world religion, founded in the 19th century by Baha’u’llah (The Glory of God).”

Baha’u’llah of course contests both Christianity and Islam claiming that it is the final revelation. This is generally understated and of course they have a right to this position but I find that it is generally concealed in their public statements, but if you debate with them they are as absolute as any fundamentalist Christian or Muslim.

The Baha

Here is a Christian commentary on their views and we welcome other links and views from the Bahai perspective.

Bahai from Christian perspective

Islam sees them as being an Islamic Sect, and the claim to be the promised Holy Spirit of Christianity is quite laughable if it was not so serious. Luckily we do not kill heretics we debate with them.

Their methodology at first sight seems quite liberal and all embracing: “An essential part of its teaching is that the founder of each of the world’s major religions was inspired by God.”

However, this may be so, but ultimately their claims are absolute and held rigidly. I have helped a number of families who have found little space for any other belief system than their own.

Also their concept of World Government has been an abject failure and should lead like those millennial groups who get the date wrong to pack it in, but like a lot of NRMs they repackage and plough on.

Also we must recognise them as a World Faith otherwise we are going to participate in the their persecution:

“The recognition of the Baha’i Faith’s independence is important in the context of protecting this emerging world faith from the persecution it suffers in Iran, the land of its birth.”

Yes we must always fight for tolerance for every group, but we must look at the issue of their right to be seen as a World Religion on other grounds – The study of Religion.

Here is an article favourable to this position:

Is Bahai a world Religion

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/letters/2009/1217/1224260838117.html

The Irish Times – Thursday, December 17, 2009

Saudi plan for Dublin school

 

Madam, – While appreciating Peter Thompson’s view of the Baha’i teachings as those of “enlightenment” (December 14th), I would like to point out that the Baha’i Faith is not a branch any other faith but is the newest independent world religion, founded in the 19th century by Baha’u’llah (The Glory of God). An essential part of its teaching is that the founder of each of the world’s major religions was inspired by God. The recognition of the Baha’i Faith’s independence is important in the context of protecting this emerging world faith from the persecution it suffers in Iran, the land of its birth. – Yours, etc,

 

ALISON WORTLEY,

 

Secretary,

 

National Spiritual Assembly of

 

the Bahá’ís of the Republic of

 

Ireland,

 

Burlington Road, Dublin 4.

21 Responses

  1. The only problem Aaron is that the Baha’i strategy appears very moderate but it is making exclusive truth claims. You believe in this notion of development but I am glad you got fired up it shows underneath your apparent relativism there is an absolute belief in Baha’i.

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  2. Seems like a certain number of people commenting as detractors of the Baha’i Faith are eager to get in their licks. One has to conclude that Pharoah, Nimrod, the Saducees, and Abu Sufyan in Mecca at about the time of Muhammad’s Revelation, all would have taken to the internet if they had access to it in order to denounce Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and other Messengers as well.

    The protests of each preceding generation towards each succeeding Revelation has been a constant theme going back to the beginning of Modern Humans’ ascent.

    From Aaron in Portsmouth, NH/USA

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  3. Hello Donald, “And aren’t we a bit hypocritical when we call other people hypocrites, its like who are you to judge?”

    I am more than qualified to express myself on the subject. I am not judging nor am I hypocritial, I am stating fact.

    In 1974, when I was twenty years old, I was TORTURED into signing a letter to claim my voting rights as a Baha’i. A Member of the then Baha’i National Assembly and “Assistant Auxilary Board Member” together with an Member of the Local Assembly of Limerick, Ireland, did this to me in the then Baha’i Center in Limerick. They were aided in part by a third person who is a Member of the current Irish National Assembly.

    This was not the only time that I was physically attacked and harmed by these same three people.

    This act still effects me today, fourty years later. Both Local and National Assemblies refused to acknowledge or discuss this issue with me at the time or in the intervening years. The Baha’i World Center sent me a vauge letter hoping that I would get over my problem as they saw it.

    I expect an answer to your glib, uninformed remark.

    Edmund Punch

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  4. Just a few things about the growth of Christianity.

    It would have never gone anywhere if the early Christians had not gotten out the word. I see nothing wrong with the Baha’is spreading the word that Baha’ullah is the latest prophet if that is what they believe. I would expect them to do that. Time will tell if it is the truth or not. 150 years is simply not enough to judge the impact any religious movement. In some ways early Christians had it a bit easier. The existing pagan religions were a bit organized and they were not taken that seriously. The Baha’is have to present their faith to committed organized believers. As far as architecture goes, I saw the Baha’i temple in Panama when I was working for the army back in the 90s, and I can tell you it is really unique, especially for Latin America.(it is also a great place just to collect your thoughts). As far as the the Baha’is themselves, they seemed pretty chill. I don’t know about the hypocrisy though,but that is a human quality, and what organization isn’t plagued by it to some degree. And aren’t we a bit hypocritical when we call other people hypocrites, its like who are you to judge?

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  5. … and believe me, we all await the outcome – and work for it! Certainly, your appreciation is much appreciated on this shore of the ‘big pond’!!

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  6. You may be pleased to know that Bahais are just as big hypocrites as members of any other religion. Mobbing, bullying and attacks on individuals happen within the Bahai world. Massive egos jockey for power and position with the Bahai structures just as within any other religion or organisation.

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  7. Dennis sez: “The movement is a New Religious Movement which will either fossilize in its present form or adapt to change. But its resolute prohibition on involvement with politics, while perhaps commendable, will almost certainly rob it of a real chance to come into power anywhere.”

    Interestingly, much the same sort of smug pronouncements were made of an obscure sect of ‘Hebrews’ by the Roman historians. However, the kind of ‘power’ inherent in the Revelation of Baha’u’llah should not – and indeed, cannot be taken for granted. However much I may agree with the ‘ho-hum, so this is new?’ attitude he expresses, the remarks about architecture [how long did it take for Christianity to come up with Gothic Cathedrals” Centuries!] Those outward expressions are secondary to the message – if not tertiary.

    Aside from which, power for power’s sake is not the point. It was, in ancient days, but in these times of instantaneous distribution all over the globe, there are other ‘powers’ – other ways than he’s speculating on. …

    The fewness of the current population of Baha’is – if viewed in the light of the many places they are scattered – is more remarkable than he thinks. In the face of billions of Muslims, not to mention the billions of Christians, the current percentage of the Baha’is would seem to be – as he views it – paltry.

    Understand, however, that early Christianity attained about the same percentage – in the Roman Empire – until Constantine had his vision – and made Christianity the religion of the new Holy Roman Empire.

    It’s not highly likely that that specific kind of event will happen in these modern times – but the impact of sudden, world wide calamity is not to be ignored. As to the rest, I’d hazard a guess – and a guess it has to be, because I’m not a prophet myself – that, in the fullness of time, this literature will be seen to have the same power as all the books of ancient days – combined!

    It’s not especially perspicuous of Dennis to relegate the community of Baha’is, nor the literature of the central figures thereof, to the dust- heap of history quite yet. It hasn’t all unfolded!

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  8. It’s a pity I’ve come across this thread so late, but perhaps a few words are in order. First of all, no-one seems to get the significance of ‘the seal of the prophets’ (Ar. Khatam al-nabiyin). This term is applied by Muslims to Muhammad, meaning that there can never be a divine revelation after him. When Baha’ Allah’s predecessor the Bab and then Baha’ Allah himself claimed to be bearers of two new divine revelations, they challenged Islam in the most basic sense. Baha’ Allah does not himself claim to be the final prophet (or Manifestation of God, mazhar ilahi) but the latest in a chain from Adam into the distant future. The problem with the Baha’i claim to be a world religion is that it doesn’t match the facts: there are at most 5 or 6 million Baha’is, somewhat fewer than Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses; there is no universal Baha’i civiiization; there is no country that is a Baha’i country: the largest percentage may be around 1%; there is no Baha’i literature of world significance, no Baha’i art or music, no Baha’i universities, no Baha’i mysticism, no definable Baha’i architectural styles (their wonderful gardens and buildings in Israel are derivative, and their splendid temples are innovative but within the bounds of modern architecture), and so on. The movement is a New Religious Movement which will either fossilize in its present form or adapt to change. But its resolute prohibition on involvement with politics, while perhaps commendable, will almost certainly rob it of a real chance to come into power anywhere.

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  9. first let me thank for sharing your idea & to try for approving. But I want to know how did you make that much sure for the latest faith &religion?

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  10. Cult, sect – same deal, right?

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  11. OK, forget that last li’l sentence – I found a link to the article …

    http://bahai-library.com/essays/cult.html

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  12. Let me go back to this:

    “I raise the question as to whether in fact they are a sect in that they failed, and have not become the World Religion they had hoped to become along with World Government. The purpose of this site is not so much to debate the truth claims of the different religions or no religion rather to look at the tendencies and attitudes which enter all groups including my own, namely the attempt to sanitise the real intent of Bahais which is to claim they are the end of history as your excellent quote shows.”

    ‘end of history’? In what sense?

    All the revelations – even the minor prophets of the world, like Nostradamus, predict the end of days. Perhaps there was one of those very events on whatever world we all (in the spiritual sense) inhabited before this one became available. Very possible, you know … Somewhere in the several billions of stars, just in our own galaxy, we could have existed before. All the revelators speak of ‘the beginning that has no beginning’ to ‘the end that has no end’. Could be.

    As to sects – every major world religion on the map right now was considered a sect at some time in its early formative years. Even Christianity. None of us are exempt. I’d like to supply you a document, but the link doesn’t work any more. If you don’t mind, and if you have my email available to you, send me a personal, and I’ll attach the article to my reply. Might be educational … MRF

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  13. OK – let me expand outward just a bit – to your article:

    “Baha’u’llah of course contests both Christianity and Islam claiming that it is the final revelation. This is generally understated and of course they have a right to this position but I find that it is generally concealed in their public statements, but if you debate with them they are as absolute as any fundamentalist Christian or Muslim.”

    I don’t know whether to use the words of Baha’u’llah – since you’ve already ‘ripped me a new one’ for doing it before – but how is it that, by simply suggesting that the truth be investigated freely, that the above would even apply to the Baha’i community? That’s how we proselytize? (see below definitions)

    1. (intransitive) To encourage or induce people to join a religious movement, political party, or other cause or organization.
    * 1909, Ralph Connor, The Foreigner, ch. 14:

    “I am not sent here to proselytize. My church is not in that business.”

    2. (transitive) To convert (someone) to one’s own faith or beliefs.
    * 2001, Douglas Waller, “A Terror Threat From The South,” Time, 10 Dec.:

    Counterterrorism officials believe bin Laden has set up cells to proselytize the large Middle East expatriate population living in the area.

    I’ll admit to being absolutist – to a point. I’m absolutely in favor of humanity at least investigating the truth for (our)selves – individually – without outside influence. Sorry about that, but I do. I’m also a fundamentalist – in the sense that the fundamentals of this cause ‘encourage’ people to check it out – ‘encourage’ the oneness of humanity – not in the Shariah sense, but in the sense of the Divine Oneness that has been ‘encouraged’ by all the Divine Educators. I guess that’s under your definition of proselytization? Then I’m guilty. Am I a rabble rouser? Mebbe … you decide. Just don’t accuse me of trying to convert you, simply because I’m contesting. By your own definition, Baha’u’llah – in the quote I previously sent – does indeed contest the claim of Islam that Muhammad is the final ‘Prophet’, that Islam is the final revelation. Study that one just a bit more closely.

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  14. contest (countable and uncountable; plural contests)

    1. (uncountable) controversy; debate

    no contest

    2. (uncountable) struggle for superiority; combat
    3. (countable) a competition

    The child entered the spelling contest.

    So, you’re calling me to contest your contest? Under which of the definitions above? They are in fact taken from your cited article …

    I’m interested in how you feel I’m using the skills of recruitment by quoting from the Baha’i Writings? How does that constitute proselytising? If you call me into question, then deny me the attempt to answer – what am I to make of that?

    As for trying to convert – the purpose of proselytising in the first place – our books are wide open – you are free to choose. I see no ‘steel fist’ in that. Where, exactly, are you ‘coming from’???

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  15. It is evident that every age in which a Manifestation of God hath lived is divinely ordained, and may, in a sense, be characterized as God’s appointed Day. This Day, however, is unique, and is to be distinguished from those that have preceded it. The designation “Seal of the Prophets” fully revealeth its high station. The Prophetic Cycle hath, verily, ended. The Eternal Truth is now come. He hath lifted up the Ensign of Power, and is now shedding upon the world the unclouded splendor of His Revelation.”
    (Baha’u’llah: Gleanings, Page: 60)

    Thanks I believe this quotation makes my case. It is pretty absolute. My use of contest here refers to debating and http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/contest
    and disagree. By the way I am not calling the Bahais a sect. I raise the question as to whether in fact they are a sect in that they failed, and have not become the World Religion they had hoped to become along with World Government. The purpose of this site is not so much to debate the truth claims of the different religions or no religion rather to look at the tendencies and attitudes which enter all groups including my own, namely the attempt to sanitise the real intent of Bahais which is to claim they are the end of history as your excellent quote shows.
    Now I have no problem with this claim sincerely held, and for me this claim is false but that is irrelevant for the purposes of this blog.
    What I find not too helpful is this velvet glove, “We are all part of the truth, nicey nicey liberal trendy. Whereas in reality inside there is a fist of steel. We are the only truth.
    Like the Muslim Brotherhood who come with a moderate exterior, but in reality they want to use multiculturalism to set up Sharia law and undermine our democratic constitutions.
    I am aware for over thirty years as how they present themselves to work with youth in depressed areas etc. What they are really trying to do is to proselytise. Please do not use the skills to recruit those who are not aware. Take a leaf out of the book of the Sufi Muslims from the Gulen movement who do not attempt to convert others, in fact if they do they have failed in their dialogue. True conversion comes from God, recruitment and proselytising arise out of fear and create not true believers, but ideological statistics. Hence MB style Islam has likely not seen more than 200 converts in Ireland since 1959.

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  16. OK – I’m presuming that you’re using the word ‘contest’ in the same way I’d use ‘contend’ i.e. to claim? Let me know, and I’ll proceed from there. Baha’u’llah does claim to be the ‘Promised One’ – however you’d like to express that – for all Faiths. (I capitalize that to distinguish the world’s religions, as different from ‘sect’ which is a term used much too loosely.)

    As a former Catholic, who went through some changes as the result of going into the military, and a personal spiritual experience, I can tell you that I have examined Baha’u’llah from angles that some people wouldn’t find to be ‘orthodox’. His best answer to your question is this: ”
    It is evident that every age in which a Manifestation of God hath lived is divinely ordained, and may, in a sense, be characterized as God’s appointed Day. This Day, however, is unique, and is to be distinguished from those that have preceded it. The designation “Seal of the Prophets” fully revealeth its high station. The Prophetic Cycle hath, verily, ended. The Eternal Truth is now come. He hath lifted up the Ensign of Power, and is now shedding upon the world the unclouded splendor of His Revelation.”
    (Baha’u’llah: Gleanings, Page: 60)

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  17. Thanks for your reply Marty F.
    Does Baha’u’llah claim to be the climax of all these religious paths or merely another one on the road?
    Not speaking from Islam, but from a Christian base he claimed to be the second coming of Christ and the promised Holy Spirit.
    Our revelation contradicts this by claiming that Christ has not returned, and the third person of the Trinity – The Holy Spirit came after the
    Ascension of Christ. We contest that Baha’u’llah has completed this role and we regard him as a false prophet. That does not mean you do not have
    a right to your belief, but do not muddy the water and claim all is sweetness and light.

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  18. “Baha’u’llah of course contests both Christianity and Islam claiming that it is the final revelation. ” In reality [where we all are] Baha’u’llah doesn’t contest other religions – He accepts them. “All the prophets of God proclaim the same faith.” That is hardly a statement of contest – unless we have a different context for the term. “It (this revelation) is the changeless, ageless faith of God, eternal in the past, eternal in the future.” – These are simply examples of the ‘attitude’ of this faith toward others. I’d recommend that, whoever examines the claims of the faith, the community the revelation of Baha’u’llah do so with an open mind, an open heart, a receptive soul. I’ve been a member since 1970 – but the only difference between me and a newbie is that of a light that has been lit, to a light that just got lit.

    “The best beloved of all things in (God’s) sight is justice … by its aid, thou wilt see with thine own eyes, and not with the eyes of another; and shalt know of thine own knowledge and not through that of thy neighbor.”

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  19. I posted a bare URL, and the comments software converted it into a streamed/embedded video. The source is:

    Part 1
    youtube.com/watch?v=BMtppOFE7Yk

    Part 2
    youtube.com/watch?v=4AIlsXT-jxs

    Part 3
    youtube.com/watch?v=2AP7tcafZRw

    The BBC Northern Ireland end credits show on part 3.

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  20. On YouTube there’s a 1990 BBC Northern Ireland television programme that might be of interest to readers:

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