Chapter 1

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AMONG movements in the Mohammedan world in modern times Babi-Bahaism is one of the most interesting. It is a definite revolt from Islam within its own fold. It has won its way in Persia amid considerable persecution to a position as a separate religion. It has added another to the permanent sects of the Near East. There Christian missions, inspired to long-postponed effort to convert Mohammedanism, have come face to face with Bahaism as a new and aggressive force. It has laid out a program as a universal religion, has crossed the seas and aspires to convert Christendom. Interest in it has been increased by this propaganda in the West and by the visits to Europe for this purpose of its present head, Abdul Baha Abbas, in 1911 and 1912.

      Besides those who are interested in Bahaism as students of history and comparative religions, there are several classes who have shown marked favour to Bahaism.

  1.       One class are simply bent on seeking some novelty. They are well described by the Egyptian Gazette, of Alexandria, in speaking of the reception of Abdul Baha in London: "About the London meetings there was a certain air of gush and self- advertisement on the part of Baha's friends, which

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    was quite patent to all who are familiar with that kind of religion which will listen to anything so long as it is unorthodox, new, and sensational." [1]

  1.       Another class are believers in the truth of all great religions, and, with a vague pantheistic notion, recognize all great men as God-inspired. They are willing to put Baha Ullah and Abdul Baha on the list of true religious leaders. Such is Rev. R. J. Campbell, who, in receiving Abdul Baha in London, spoke of the "diverse religious faiths that are all aspects of the one religion," and of the services as "a wonderful manifestation of the Spirit of God." He said to the congregation: "We as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is to us and always will be the Light of the World, give greeting to Abdul Baha."

          Mr. Campbell gives opportunity to the Bahai propaganda in the Christian Commonwealth, and has enlisted Abdul Baha as a contributor.

  2.       Another class look on Bahaism as an ethical system, and Baha and Abdul Baha as world teachers. Their relation to Christ has been only that of a disciple to a teacher of morals. They recognize in Baha a new schoolmaster. Being Bahais to them consists in admiration of certain principles on which Abdul Baha is in the habit of dilating. But these are not Bahaism any more than Romans xii.--xv. are Pauline Christianity. Paul's gospel is Romans i.--viii. In its moral precepts and social principles, Bahaism is a borrower from Christ's teaching, and

1. Nov. 16, 1911, quoted in Star of the West, Dec. 11, 1911.

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    sometimes from Mohammed. However, Bahaism is a religion, not a system of morals.

  1. Some adherents regard Bahaism as Christianity continued or renewed by the Second Coming of Christ, whom they recognize in Abdul Baha. Most American Bahais are of this class, with faith in Baha Ullah as God the Father.

      How can I classify the late Prof. T. K. Cheyne of Oxford? This widely known critic in his last work (1914), "The Reconciliation of Races and Religions," bewilders me by his credulity. It is only charitable to excuse it as the product of his dotage. How otherwise could an Oxford scholar take pride in adopting the "new name" and titles given to him by Abdul Baha, sign his preface "Ruhani," Spiritual, and have pleasure in being called the "divine philosopher," "prlest of the Prince of Peace (Baha)," and being compared to St. Paul as a herald of the Kingdom, and write himself a "member of the Bahai community." At the same time Doctor Cheyne wrote himself down as a "member of the Nava Vidhan, Lahore" (Brahma-Samaj).

      At present there are Bahai congregations in sixteen of the United States, in Canada, Hawaii, South Africa, England, Germany and Russia, as well as in India and Burma,W. The future of its propaganda in Christendom lacks promise. Yet its measure of success makes it desirable to examine its claims and the facts regarding them.

      Fortunately besides the older Babi books, there is an abundance of Bahai literature. There are

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(1) Treatises of Baha Ullab, (2) Tablets (Letters) and Addresses of Abdul Baha, (3) Persian Narratives, (4) Evidential books and tracts by its propagators, (5) Narratives of pilgrimages to Acca. From an independent point of view, little has been written. Nearly all of the many articles which have appeared in periodical literature have been from the pens of Bahais, though often not so ostensibly. Prof. E. G. Browne of Cambridge University, England, has translated and edited important Babi-Bahai works. His Introductions, Notes and Appendices to these books are storehouses of erudition and enable the reader to correct the biased information of the text. They pertain for the most part to the Babi period. So do the able contributions of Mr. A. L. M. Nicolas, the Consul of France, with whom, as my neighbour at Tabriz, I have had the pleasure of valuable conversations on this subject on which he is such an authority. I have had as sources of information also a manuscript "Life of Baha Ullah" by Mohammed Javad Kasvini, the "Kitab-ul-Akdas," Most Holy Book, translated by Dr. I. G. Kheiralla, in manuscript, and various unpublished letters and documents. Besides all this, I have been in personal contact with Bahais in Persia for a generation. My language teachers were Bahais, one of them a convert to Christianity. I have found their journal, the Star of the West, a prolific source of information. I may claim not to be of the class referred to by Abdul Baha when he says, "Baha Ullah will be assailed by those who are not informed of his principles."

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After sketching, in brief, the history of Bahaism I will examine its religious, moral, political and social doctrine and life. In doing this I shall quote for the most part from the words of the "Revelation" and its adherents, in order to insure fairness and justice. In the course of the investigation, the history and character of the founders will be considered. Finally I shall describe its propaganda in the Occident.

      Bahais declare that Babism is abrogated and superseded. In reality it is dead and I do not treat of it, except as it throws light on the history or doctrines of Bahaism. To all intents and purposes, the Bab is as much an obsolete prophet as Mani or Babak.

      I am to deal with Bahaism in its latest phases. The term Babi is not appropriate to the religion of Baha nor to his followers. Of the "revelation," it may be said as Jacob said of his wages, they "have changed them ten times." The Bab altered his declarations regarding himself and his statements of doctrine. Subh-i-Azal made further changes. Baha's standpoint in the "Ikan," at Bagdad, differs greatly from that in the "Kitab-ul-Akdas," at Acca. Abbas gave the kaleidoscope another whirl and added his interpretations and emendations. Besides all these, it has been given a Western aspect for Christians. The Rev. H. H. Jessup, D. D., compares it very aptly to the town clock in Beirut, which has two kinds of dial plates. The face turned towards the Moslem quarter has the hands set to tell the hour according to Oriental reckoning; the face towards

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the Christian quarter, according to the European day. It is the face towards the Christians that I shall look at specially in the present investigation. However historical facts are the same and the main doctrines taught in the West have no essential difference from those of Persian Bahaism.

      Acknowledgment and thanks are hereby tendered to The Bibliotheca Sacra, The Bible Magazine, The East and the West, The Ghurch Missionary Review, The Missionary Review of the World The Moslem World, The Union Seminary Review, and The Princeton Theological Review for the use of materials which I have previously published in their pages.

Chapter 1

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