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Who Claimed to be the Mahdi?

Posted: Wed Oct 22, 2008 8:49 pm
by Abu Talib
I began reading about the Baha'i Faith most recently and have come to a point where I am confused. I have read that the Bab claimed that he was the emergence of the Twelth Imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi, from concealment. Though I have also read that Baha'u'llah was the manifestation spoken about by previous manifestations, e.g. Christianity/Second Coming, Shi`ah Islam/Muhammad al-Mahdi, and so on. I know for a fact that I have read these both in Baha'i books. Can someone please answer my question. Thanks.

Re: Who Claimed to be the Mahdi?

Posted: Thu Oct 23, 2008 9:29 am
by BritishBahai
Bab = Mahdi

Re: Who Claimed to be the Mahdi?

Posted: Thu Oct 23, 2008 12:21 pm
by Justice
Abu Talib wrote:I began reading about the Baha'i Faith most recently and have come to a point where I am confused. I have read that the Bab claimed that he was the emergence of the Twelfth Imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi, from concealment. Though I have also read that Baha'u'llah was the manifestation spoken about by previous manifestations, e.g. Christianity/Second Coming, Shi`ah Islam/Muhammad al-Mahdi, and so on. I know for a fact that I have read these both in Baha'i books. Can someone please answer my question. Thanks.


Hello Abu Talib,

Please don't be confused you are correct the Bab claimed to be the Mahdi, he announced the coming of a Manifestation of God who was much greater than Himself named Baha'u'llah. I believe that this arrangement had not be prophesied before but I have not found a statement to this fact yet in my studies. The Twin Manifestations as Baha'is often refer to this arrangement are said to have a profound meaning that will be better understood in the fullness of time.

Please if you have more questions about this topic that are more specific I will try to find answers as this is a topic I am very interested in.

Thank you,

Justice...

Re: Who Claimed to be the Mahdi?

Posted: Thu Oct 23, 2008 7:07 pm
by AdibM
The Bab was the Mahdi/Qa'im, depending on your sect, and the Twelfth Imam. Baha'u'llah was the return of Christ or Imam Husayn, again depending on your sect.

But in Baha'i theology, which professes progressive revelation, there is no line of distinction between any of the Messengers of God:

From these statements therefore it hath been made evident and manifest that should a Soul in the “End that knoweth no end” be made manifest, and arise to proclaim and uphold a Cause which in “the Beginning that hath no beginning” another Soul had proclaimed and upheld, it can be truly declared of Him Who is the Last and of Him Who was the First that they are one and the same, inasmuch as both are the Exponents of one and the same Cause. For this reason, hath the Point of the Bayán—may the life of all else but Him be His sacrifice!—likened the Manifestations of God unto the sun which, though it rise from the “Beginning that hath no beginning” until the “End that knoweth no end,” is none the less the same sun. Now, wert thou to say, that this sun is the former sun, thou speakest the truth; and if thou sayest that this sun is the “return” of that sun, thou also speakest the truth. Likewise, from this statement it is made evident that the term “last” is applicable to the “first,” and the term “first” applicable to the “last;” inasmuch as both the “first” and the “last” have risen to proclaim one and the same Faith.

Notwithstanding the obviousness of this theme, in the eyes of those that have quaffed the wine of knowledge and certitude, yet how many are those who, through failure to understand its meaning, have allowed the term “Seal of the Prophets” to obscure their understanding, and deprive them of the grace of all His manifold bounties! Hath not Muḥammad, Himself, declared: “I am all the Prophets?” Hath He not said as We have already mentioned: “I am Adam, Noah, Moses, and Jesus?” Why should Muḥammad, that immortal Beauty, Who hath said: “I am the first Adam” be incapable of saying also: “I am the last Adam”? For even as He regarded Himself to be the “First of the Prophets”—that is Adam—in like manner, the “Seal of the Prophets” is also applicable unto that Divine Beauty. It is admittedly obvious that being the “First of the Prophets,” He likewise is their “Seal.”

The mystery of this theme hath, in this Dispensation, been a sore test unto all mankind. Behold, how many are those who, clinging unto these words, have disbelieved Him Who is their true Revealer. What, We ask, could this people presume the terms “first” and “last”—when referring to God—glorified be His Name!—to mean? If they maintain that these terms bear reference to this material universe, how could it be possible, when the visible order of things is still manifestly existing? Nay, in this instance, by “first” is meant no other than the “last” and by “last” no other than the “first.”

Even as in the “Beginning that hath no beginnings” the term “last” is truly applicable unto Him who is the Educator of the visible and of the invisible, in like manner, are the terms “first” and “last” applicable unto His Manifestations. They are at the same time the Exponents of both the “first” and the “last.” Whilst established upon the seat of the “first,” they occupy the throne of the “last.” Were a discerning eye to be found, it will readily perceive that the exponents of the “first” and the “last,” of the “manifest” and the “hidden,” of the “beginning” and the “seal” are none other than these holy Beings, these Essences of Detachment, these divine Souls. And wert thou to soar in the holy realm of “God was alone, there was none else besides Him,” thou wilt find in that Court all these names utterly non-existent and completely forgotten. Then will thine eyes no longer be obscured by these veils, these terms, and allusions. How ethereal and lofty is this station, unto which even Gabriel, unshepherded, can never attain, and the Bird of Heaven, unassisted, can never reach!"

(Baha'u'llah, Kitab-i-Iqan, pp. 161-164)


This means that the question of "who is the Madhi, Qa'im, return of Christ, etc" doesn't really matter because from our standpoint, all the messengers of God are of the same essence, bestowed upon them by the Holy Spirit. They all held the station of Baha'u'llah, the station of Muhammad, the station of Christ, because there is no difference in that station.

I hope that makes sense. :) I think you would enjoy the Kitab-i-Iqan, but brace yourself if you decide to peruse it as it's no easy read! ;)

Re: Who Claimed to be the Mahdi?

Posted: Thu Oct 23, 2008 11:12 pm
by Abu Talib
Brothers, what comes to mind is that I thought the Baha'i belief was that Baha'u'llah was the "figure" which every founder of religions past had spoken about, like the Christ and the Mahdi. So if the Bab was the Mahdi, more specifically the Twelth Imam (as), then that means Baha'u'llah was that promised "figure" of all religions except Shi`ah Islam. As well, if you mean to say that all manifestations are the same then I can conclude that Moses (as) was the Christ and the Mahdi and the Seal of the Prophets, Muhammad (saww), and the first Prophet, Adam (as).

Also, where does this concept of Baha'u'llah being the return of Imam Husayn (as) come from. In Shi`ah Islam there is no such belief that he will return.

Re: Who Claimed to be the Mahdi?

Posted: Fri Oct 24, 2008 12:17 am
by Susan
Hi,

Are you the same Ibn Abu Talib who posts on the Theology Web? Generally speaking we would consider the Bab, not Baha'u'llah the Mahdi. However, Baha'is believe that ultimately every Manifestation is in some sense the 'return' of the previous ones. Likewise prophecies can often be applied to more than one. For instance, there is a passage in Deuteronomy where Moses says a prophet will arise 'like unto him.' Christians have applied this passage to Jesus while Muslims insist Muhammad fulfilled. From a Baha'i perspective there is no reason to think they can't both be right.

warmest, Susan

Re: Who Claimed to be the Mahdi?

Posted: Fri Oct 24, 2008 3:51 am
by Keyvan
The Bab = Imam Mahdi = Return of the 12th Imam

Baha'u'llah = Spiritual "Return" of "Christ" = Return of Imam Hussein = He Whom God Shall Make Manifest

Re: Who Claimed to be the Mahdi?

Posted: Fri Oct 24, 2008 12:33 pm
by onepence~2
Nineteenth Century Islamic Mahdism in Iran and the Sudan

A brief analysis of the teachings and influence of Ali Muhammad (The Bab) and Muhammad Ahmad (The Sudanese Mahdi)

by Jason Illari

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

... The word Mahdi is never mentioned in the Koran and therefore the concept emerges from a large canon of expanded religious traditions, known as Hadiths and Tafsirs, which one historian describes as a kind of Mahdist mythology.6 Depending on the tradition, the Mahdi will take on different titles and names, and was predicted to come from an array of geographical places. Most of these traditions describe a state of immorality and sinfulness which will exist on earth preceding the appearance of the Mahdi. 7 In addition to the spiritual battles that are to face humanity at the "end of time", the Hadiths and Tafsirs also mention earthly trials that are to accompany the Day of Judgment and the appearance of the world's great redeemer, or Mahdi. One tradition describes a worldly battle that develops after the coming of the Mahdi, which all mankind will witness. In this tradition, an epic battle takes place between the forces of good and evil and tells of “cosmic smoke, ad-dukhan, the beast, ad-dabba, a sunrise in the west, three separate eclipses, and a fire emanating from the city of Aden in southern Arabia, all of which will drive mankind to the final place of gathering.”8 Some traditions even ...

...

The uncertainty surrounding the subject is also heightened by the divergent interpretations presented by both the Sunni and Shiite schools of Islamic thought. Both have developed unique doctrines concerning the nature of the Mahdi.

For the Sunnites, the Mahdi is known as the Expected Deliverer. The word Mahdi itself is a rough translation meaning the “One led by God to the Truth.” It has also been translated as the “One who has been announced as good news.”11 Most Sunni theologians agree on three basic principles describing the Mahdi's nature and appearance. First, he is to appear in the world when the planet is filled with injustice and inequity. According to many traditions chaos will reign on earth and it will be filled with anarchy. This state of disarray, according to the reports, is to precede the end of the world. Secondly, the Mahdi is to usher in a Golden Age and through his actions restore order to the planet through the rejuvenation of time honored values and pure religious teachings. The third concept revolves around the accepted notion that the traditions provide more precise conceptualizations of who the Mahdi is specifically. This relates to things such as where the Mahdi will appear and what he might look like.12

In certain Sunni traditions the Mahdi figure is associated with the personality of Jesus. He is known as Isa Ibn Maryam (son of Mary) and, depending on which school of Sunni thought, he is speculated be the Mahdi himself or the Mahdi's assistant while the former struggles on earth against the forces of evil. Certain Muslim theologians have used one particular passage from the Koran to associate Jesus with these traditions. One historian explains, “on the assumption that the passage is continuous, the pronoun is usually taken as referring to Jesus…”13 Yet, when examining the idea of Jesus as the Mahdi, some historians maintain that this concept primarily emerges from the traditions and not from the Koran. The above-mentioned historian emphasizes, “Indeed there is no doubt among scholars that the concept of the eschatological Mahdi developed considerably later than that of Isa, and had only little by little managed to obtain a place in the already fixed scenery of the Last Things. The reason for this appearance lies undoubtedly in the fact that whatever position the figure of al-Mahdi may have enjoyed among the Muslim faithful, it remains that the word is not mentioned in the Koran.”14 Again, the subjects ambiguity.

The Shi'as take a somewhat different approach in interpreting the concept of the Mahdi. One striking difference lies in their belief that the Mahdi will be associated with the return of the twelfth Imam. This school of thought believed t...

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dh note ... interesting ... we believe there is also an "underground" movement , perhaps even "publicly" acknowledge that certain unethical people wish to cannonize that person who started the islamic revolution in Persia {forget his name, you know who we speak , ... oh yes ... ayattolah khomenia (sp?) }... yes .. cannonize , if you will allow the term cannonize ... ayattolah khomani to be the Mahdi ... sad , very sad , ... yet ... we see this happening ... the study of Mahdi ... some sort of building yes ... ??? ... was once a Baha'i House ... yes /no ??? ...

Re: Who Claimed to be the Mahdi?

Posted: Fri Oct 24, 2008 9:10 pm
by Abu Talib
Susan wrote:Hi,
Are you the same Ibn Abu Talib who posts on the Theology Web?

No I am not. Ibn Abu Talib means "son of Abu Talib", and my name is Abu Talib "father of Talib".

But anyway, how can every manifestation be the same when two or more of them can exist at one time?

Re: Who Claimed to be the Mahdi?

Posted: Sat Oct 25, 2008 11:48 am
by Sean H.
Abu Talib wrote:
But anyway, how can every manifestation be the same when two or more of them can exist at one time?

Perhaps because in their essence they are the same? They might have different personalities, different bodies, different haircuts, but the part of Them that is important is that They all reflect God's will and attributes.

Re: Who Claimed to be the Mahdi?

Posted: Sat Oct 25, 2008 5:49 pm
by nharandi
Abu Talib wrote:But anyway, how can every manifestation be the same when two or more of them can exist at one time?


I just talked a little bit about this in the "Last Prophet" thread :)

Sean H. is right however

Re: Who Claimed to be the Mahdi?

Posted: Sat Oct 25, 2008 7:55 pm
by Keyvan
Abu Talib wrote:
Susan wrote:Hi,
Are you the same Ibn Abu Talib who posts on the Theology Web?

No I am not. Ibn Abu Talib means "son of Abu Talib", and my name is Abu Talib "father of Talib".

But anyway, how can every manifestation be the same when two or more of them can exist at one time?



While The Bab and Baha'u'llah were both alive at the same time, Baha'u'llah's intimation was not until 1852, 2 years after the passing of The Bab.

Re: Who Claimed to be the Mahdi?

Posted: Sun Oct 26, 2008 3:01 pm
by Abu Talib
So the Baha'i Faith believes that Manifestations are not born manifestations but become during their life?

Re: Who Claimed to be the Mahdi?

Posted: Sun Oct 26, 2008 3:31 pm
by ciwan
No, they were manifestations even before being born.

Re: Who Claimed to be the Mahdi?

Posted: Sun Oct 26, 2008 8:59 pm
by brettz9
As ciwan pointed out, they were all Holy Manifestations before being born, but Their human side grows in awareness of this station and the beginning of Their Revelation may be represented by some temporal occurrence: e.g., Moses and the Burning Bush, Buddha under the Bodhi tree, Jesus and the Dove, Muhammad and the angel Gabriel, the Bab with the Imam Husayn, and Baha'u'llah, with a Maid of Heaven.

Then it is evident that the dove which descended upon Christ was not a material dove, but it was a spiritual state, which, that it might be comprehensible, was expressed by a sensible figure. Thus in the Old Testament it is said that God appeared as a pillar of fire: this does not signify the material form; it is an intellectual reality which is expressed by a sensible image.

Christ says, "The Father is in the Son, and the Son is in the Father." Was Christ within God, or God within Christ? No, in the name of God! On the contrary, this is an intellectual state which is expressed in a sensible figure.

We come to the explanation of the words of Bahá'u'lláh when He says: "O king! I was but a man like others, asleep upon My couch, when lo, the breezes of the All-Glorious were wafted over Me, and taught Me the knowledge of all that hath been. This thing is not from Me, but from One Who is Almighty and All-Knowing." [Extract from the letter to Násiri'd-Din Sháh.] This is the state of manifestation: it is not sensible; it is an intellectual reality, exempt and freed from time, from past, present and future; it is an explanation, a simile, a metaphor and is not to be accepted literally; it is not a state that can be comprehended by man. Sleeping and waking is passing from one state to another. Sleeping is the condition of repose, and wakefulness is the condition of movement. Sleeping is the state of silence; wakefulness is the state of speech. Sleeping is the state of mystery; wakefulness is the state of manifestation.

For example, it is a Persian and Arabic expression to say that the earth was asleep, and the spring came, and it awoke; or the earth was dead, and the spring came, and it revived. These expressions are metaphors, allegories, mystic explanations in the world of signification.

Briefly, the Holy Manifestations have ever been, and ever will be, Luminous Realities; no change or variation takes place in Their essence. Before declaring Their manifestation, They are silent and quiet like a sleeper, and after Their manifestation, They speak and are illuminated, like one who is awake.

('Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, Chapter 16)


This is also discussed in Chapter 38 of the same book. One short excerpt:

In the Gospel it is said, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God." [John 1:1.] Then it is evident and clear that Christ did not reach to the station of Messiahship and its perfections at the time of baptism, when the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in the likeness of a dove. Nay, the Word of God from all eternity has always been, and will be, in the exaltation of sanctification.


(Note that these talks addressed a Christian audience, thus the particular emphasis on His Holiness Christ.)

Brett

Re: Who Claimed to be the Mahdi?

Posted: Fri Apr 03, 2009 9:14 pm
by SpiritualSeeker
Brettz can you please help me understand the unclear prophecies and evidences?

Like according to both Sunni and Shia muslims the Prophet Muhammad said "O Ali, you are to me as Harun was to Musa, but there will be no prophet after me."

that is in the quote in the signature of Abu Talib. This is a hadith I have read many times. It seems so clear that the Prophet Muhammad was mentioning that there is NO prophet after him. I dont understand how if i took the bahai position I could say that it means only a Nabi who isnt a Rasool. I understand what the bahais are saying, but it seems just too clear what the Prophet is saying and it seems way too clear the conclusion of Muslims on the subject.

Also I dont understand while unreliable scriptures are quoted like this passage you quoted

In the Gospel it is said, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God." [John 1:1.]


In this passage I have read and heard of many Biblical scholars saying that this was an innovation into the text and thus unreliable. Yet christians and some bahais quote it but why?

Dont we have to be conscious of what was truely the bible and what is not?

Perhaps these are just ramblings of a confused person, but I am in deep need for spiritual enlightenment and I am trying to put it all together. At the same time I am trying to be just to all perspectives.

Many Thanks