I. THE PHILOSOPHICAL INQUIRY
The inquiry on the demand for "Self-consciousness"
is the starting point for numerous philosophical discourses throughout
the historical course. "How can I and must I come to be conscious
of myself ?" asks Robert C. Solomon within the framework of methodological
solipsism. This question can be a favourable starting point in the efforts
The modernization process is a grand turning point on
these philosophical inquiries. In contrary to the dominant, old world-view
that contructs and shapes itself merely around the term of religion, it
is the modernization which settled the humanbeing on the center, as the
main criterian of the universe. Dating from that transformist reform,
the humanbeing, which was previously a simple object, is henceforward
the Subject, the basis of "the Knowledge". But at its origin,
that concept of "the Subject" was abstract rather than being
an actor in the existent societal equations. The most mature form of that
understanding was Descartes' concept of cogito. "For Descartes, the
'I' of the cogito is clearly not dependent upon other persons and not
itself a person"... In his sixth Mediation, Descartes alleges that
"the 'I' is neither person nor human body, but the thinking mind".(1)
That proposition was the main allegation that influenced numerous philosophers
of the 18th century, constructed around the hypothesis of an "abstract"
Subject and individual. Following the mentioned philosophical chain, in
his dualist conceptualism, arguing that the humanbeings belongs both the
world of nature and the reason, Kant offers a more abstract and transcendental
subject, rather than a concerete individual. The concept offered by Kant
on "the Subject" was ahistoric, (...) and abstract.(2)
As a turning point, Hegel was the primary name on rejecting
that abstract fiction of the Subject isolated from societal relations.
Though criticized by Marx as reducing the subject to thougt and neglecting
to express "the real Subjects" as the starting point, Hegel
added the historical dimension and the reference of the Other to that
concept of the Subject.(3) To begin with, Hegel negotiates the mentioned
abstraction in his Phenomenology of Spirit by accepting: "Self-consciousness
is in and for itself in and through being in and for itself for another
Self-consciousness; that is, it is only as something acknowledged, or
Primarily stressing the importance of social relationships/societal
equations on the development of an individual's identity, today that predecessor
approach on the individual, or in Hegelian term the Self-consciousness,
is employed in many political arguments on the allegation that the plural
societies can be build on the basis of equal recognition of the particular
identities and/or entities. Within the complex equations of the current
global world, in consistent with the increasing belongings of the spheres
of the "shared" and the "contradictory" variables
on the question of identity, the locus of the struggle: the "struggle
for recognition" is becoming the focus of the political debates of
the present age, in which Hegel's dialectic is mostly stated as a proper
ground for a politics of civic recognition centered around the "politics
of recognition" and "multiculturalism".
In his Phenomenology of Spirit, Hegel presents mutual
recognition as "the ideal form of ethical exchange among self-conscious
beings". In the raising claims of today's society, in synonymous
with the stresses of the theorists like Charles Taylor and Martha Nussbaum
on cultural differences, a common plea for identity and recognition is
heard especially from the minority groups, namely suffering an identity
crisis mostly by that lack of recognition.
At that stage, the main question emerges: How is the mentioned recognition
attained? Is the process of conflict essential? Or can that process of
recognition be performed on the platform of reconcilation without conflict?
It can be argued that it is the emancipatory recognition of an "alien"
identity which can also be intepreted as the tragic acknowledgement of
the boundaries of your own sphere of identity. Sartre demonstrated that
"mutual recognition was impossible given the inevitably of the temptation
to the bad faith" The problematique of recognizing the Other emerges
a troublesome process, when recognizing "the Other" challenges
your legitimacy. Especially when the parties are religions, which offers
grand belongings to their adherents, the codes of belongings that claim
the invalidity of the Other. Can "the politics of recognition"
offers a satisfactory response on the claims of identity? How -or-can
the actors be demonstrated in Hegel's dialectic of "Lordship and
Bondage"? Can that historical form be applied to the claims of the
validity of their faith by the Bahâ'îs towards Islam?
In the statement of the Azhar, signed in January 1986, "Bahâ'îsm"
was argued as a "false creed", since "it is at variance
with Islam in denying the Day of Judgement, the Resurrection, Heaven and
Hell; in repudiating the Prophet Muhammad's station as the 'Seal of the
Prophets'; in claiming that God became incarnate in the person of Bahau'llah;
and in altering the forms of worship ordained by Islam.(5) Meanwhile,
in contrary to that, Bahâ'î Faith offers the annulment of the Islamic
law, the validity of the Qur'an the Prophecy of Muhammad; by the claim
of not replacement, but the fulfillment of the previous statements and
prophecies of Islam. This inclusive approach in quest for identity and
legitimacy embraces Bahâ'î Faith's total vision towards the other religions:
"the appearance of the promised "Lord of Hosts" come down
"with ten thousands of saints"; "a Buddha named Maitreye,
the Buddha of universal fellowship"; "the fulfillment of Christ's
promise to bring all people together so that "there shall be one
fold, and one shepherd"; and "the fulfillment of the promise
of the Qur'an for the "Day of God" and the "Great Announcement,"
when "God" will come down "overshadowed with clouds."
So, though recognized by most of the Islamic scholar as a radical sect
of the Shaykhiyya, these claims of being "a world religion"
performs a challenge for Islam both in the intimate and public spheres
of identity. (6)
The aim of this work is not a pretentious claim to solve that antagonism,
but to comprehend and clarify the relation between two religious traditions
Islam -which seems as taking the form of agnosticism-, and questioning
the position of the Bahâ'î identity towards Islam on the framework of
"recognition" offered by Hegel in his dialectic of "Lordship
II. HEGEL ON DIALECTIC OF LORDSHIP AND BONDAGE
Throughout the chain of philosophical discourses, interest
in Hegel has mainly been centered around the Phenomenology of Spirit.
In its all-embracing methodology, that "autobiography of man as the
image of God"(7), particularly with its chapter IV ("Self-consciousness")
including the dialectic of Lordship and Bondage, has influenced numerous
philosophers, political theorists and social psychologists. All the efforts
within a wide spectrum of philosophy were for interpreting "one of
the persistent topos in Western philosophy" that is, to John O'Neill:
"the narrative of the rise of human consciousness from within the
world of nature and a historical society that recognizes itself through
such a story."(8)
Under the heading of the Truth of the Certainty of Oneself
in the Phenomenology, Hegel introduces the transition from consciousness
to Self-consciousness as a stage within the broader framework of the unfolding
of freedom through the world history, over the key term of the desire.
In its origin, human beings are the beings, possessing consciousness.
"Consciousness passes through various stages of experience: It begins
as the consciousness of impulse, instinct, and the desire."(9) The
mentioned is a dynamic process which needs proceeding the previous ways
of certainty within a cycle that embodies "life" so that the
consciousness will transform itself into the self-consciousness. Within
that framework, by proceeding from subjectivity to inter-subjectivity,
the consciousness enters "the native realm of truth".(10) In
that stage, that self-consciousness, or our own subjectivity, bears to
the external "objective spirit" of the society, in such a way
that, as Alexander Kojeve had pointed out: "for the idea of oneself
to be a truth, it must exist not only for oneself but also beings other
In the course of the satisfaction of that desire, "Self-consciousness,
argues Hegel, learns by experience of the independence of its object."
In order that, Self-consciousness must come "outside itself",
so that its object becomes another self. To Hegel, "the desire and
the certainty attained in the satisfaction of desire is conditional upon
the object, for the certainty exists only through the doing-away of this
other; for there to be this doing away, this other must exist"(12)
Self-consciousness, through its function of the desire, must achieve self-certainty
and establish its "own self-standing independence" through overcoming
an object or an otherness by destroying the independence or "self-sufficiency"
of that object. In short, "Self-consciousness attains its satisfaction
only in another self-consciousness."(13). Hegel constructs this process
of realization over the term of recognition. To Hegel, "Self-consciousness
is in and for itself in and through the being in and for itself for another
self-consciousness; that is, it is only as something acknowledged, or
recognized."(14) By alleging the concept -or the fact- of recognition
as the fundamental means to become aware of our own selves, it can be
concluded that within Hegelian construct "one becomes a subject by
viewing oneself as an addressee or interlocutor of other subjects."(15)
It is only through this experience that the Self-consciousness will realize
Under the framework of the broader spiritual unity,
the "desire for recognition" of the two parties, that each has
the reflection of the other as another self-consciousness, obliges a hypothetical
clash for recognition between these two pre-social human beings, which
will provide one to become "a real and true man" over the acknowledgement
of the other. Namely, "Self-consciousness, argues Hegel, must do
away with this otherness it has (...) in order thereby to become certain
of itself as the essential being."(16) The stages of the dialectic
is embodied within the conduct of that speculative struggle. To Hegel,
"The relation of the two self-consciousness is hence determined in
such a way that through the combat for life and death they prove themselves
and each other. They must enter this combat, for they must raise the certainty
of themselves, of being for themselves, to truth in the other and in themselves."(17)
This is the struggle which "humanity" will come to light only
in risking own's life to satisfy that desire.
One of the main features of that struggle is that it demands mutual recognition.
In other words, as Eimear Wynee argued, vital to the Hegelian practice
of recognition is "reciprocity". One may not risk life. He can
indeed be recognized as a person, but not an independent Self-consciousness.
But although each seeks the death of the other as in staking his own life,
death damages the required sense of recognition: The one who has died
can never be recognized, and the victor no longer have an other to provide
recognition. So, this struggle to death comes to an end when one party
faced with his virtual death at the hands of the Other: this is the relationship
what Hegel calls as the Lordship and bondage; Master and slave as the
opposed forms of consciousness: "one, the independent consciousness,
to which being-for-self is the essence; the Other, the dependent consciousness,
to which life or being for another is the essence; the former is the master,
the latter the servant."(18)
By his own consent, one was put in slavery due to the
desire to save his life and is in an external relation with the master
through his labour without satisfaction. On the other hand, what Master
gains after that struggle is the "consciosness existing for itself
which is in mediate relation with itself through another consciousness
(...) The master relates himself to the servant mediately through independent
being"(19) He is the party that gets enjoyment without labouring.
In a nutshell: "the master has his acknowledgement, by another consciousness
granted him; for the other consciousness establishes itself in these moments
as something inessential, first, in the working of the thing, second,
in the dependence upon a particular existence; in both it can not achieve
mastery over being and attain absolute negation."(20)
But this not what was aimed in the logic of that struggle:
the conclusion is contradictory: a "one-sided and unequal recognizing".
The object, the inessential consciousness, which will realize the truth
of the certainty of the master is a dependent one, which could not dared
to risk his life, in maturing his Self-consciousness. On account of that
failure, the success of the master is indeed "an illusion".
Proceeding from that statement, "The master standing over against
the servant was still no truly free, for he still did not thoroughly look
on himself in the other. Consequently, it is only through the liberation
of the servant that the master, too, becomes perfectly free."(21)
However, the fear of the master, fear of that "for
its whole being" of the slave, which obliged the servant to work
for another consciousness is "the beginning of the wisdom".
Wheras the master is fixed in his mastery, through the work, the consciousness,
which is for its self in its origin,will come to itself so that it will
be transformed into "a truly independent consciousness". Passing
through the obligatory stages of fear and service: "The consciousness
that works therefore attains a consequence a view of independent being
as itself".(22) But still it is "a freedom which as yet remains
within subjection."(23) Beyond that process of "refinding of
itself by itself", the truth of the freedom is available only by
constructing a sphere of common freedom based on the rational point of
view that respects mutual recognition of the different self-consciousness.
III. THE PRACTICE: ISLAM AND THE BAHAI FAITH
After such a philosophical introduction, as we argued
in the first section of our work, we will try to analyse the relationship
between Islam and the Bahâ'î Faith, especially the position of the Bahâ'î
Faith towards Islam through the Hegelian framework of recognition in relation
to the construction of identity.
Clarifying our pattern, it will be proper to recognize
the difference of the model of Hegel. In contrary to the perennial human
condition drawn by Aristotle in his Politics, that can "never be
modified or changed"; For Hegel that label of master and/or the servant
is not given but achieved in aprocess. As Ferm argued, it is the primary
consequence of "the first struggle between man and man". "Man
is not born a slave or a master, he becomes slave or master in a historic
action" (…) For Hegel, this division is "only the start of history
(...) which will be overcome and erased in the course of history."(24)
By his labour, both transforming his position and negating the Mastery,
the slave is both a position and a site that history is "realized".
Hence, with a presupposition as recognizing the Bahâ'î
faith as the slave in its origin due to its inferior position depending
on the lack of recognition, we should begin with a description of the
history/background of the Bahâ'î faith and the forces which shaped its
A. THE HISTORICAL EVOLUTION OF THE BAHA'Ý FAITH
Although the Bâbîsm is recognized as a seperate religion
from the Bahâ'î Faith, due to the mission of Bâb, Mirza Ali Muhammed (1819-1850)
as the announcer of the coming of the "he whom God shall manifest",
we can accept the preach of Bâb on "the Day of God", 1844, as
the starting point of the Bahâ'î faith.
a. the Bâbî Movement (1844-1866)
In 1844, with his mission alike to John the Baptist,
Mîrzâ Ali Muhammad proclaimed himself to be the Bâb (Gate), "the
forerunner of one greater than himself. But as the movement spread throughout
much of Iran and Iraq, and especially after the Bab formally declared
that Bâbîsm was a new religion he was subjected to the growing confrontations
by the other Shiite 'ulamâ which will lead violence and finally his execution
by firing squad in 1850.
It was mainly the Shaykhî movement, a heterodox school
within the Twelver branch of Shiite Islam, that the Bâbî movement had
its origins. With his philosophical and mystical views, especially with
its main claim that many of the concepts within theological framework
that were understood as literally true should in fact be understood metaphorically
as spiritual truths. This was the main tendency that directed the methodology
in the Bâbî scriptures.
Following the appointed succesor, Sayyid Kâzim Rashtî,
the disciples was in search on the order of Rashti: "to disperse
and seek out the one whom they were to follow". Coming to Shiraz
in 1844, the disciples accepted the claims of the Bâb, to be "the
Promised Qa'im" awaited by the Shi'i Muslims. Bâb, called these earliest
disciples as the "Letters of the Living" and ordered them to
disperse throughout Iran and Iraq and spread his teachings. This was the
initial sphere of expansion.
It was 1848 which marks a turning point in the history
of the movement with a series of events: The first was the promulgation
of the Bayân by the Bâb, as the book of his laws; secondly he declared
that he was the Hidden Imâm, the promised Mahdí that the Shiites were
awaiting, at his trial in Tabriz (July 1848); and finally at the summer
of this year, the conference of Badasht, at which a group of Bâbîs proclaimed
the independency of the Bâbî religion. These events provided a marked
change in the future of the movement: the claim of an equal station to
the last Prophet Muhammad or in the Hegelian terms, by the aim of abrogating
the Islamic dispensation, that was the claim of gaining independence and
These claims led violence and persecutions towards the Bâbîs of Iran synonymous
with their upheavals. They were subject to a series of attacks including
the public execution of some of the religion's prominent members in Tehran
in February 1850 and finally the execution of the Bâb in Tabriz in July
Following the execution of the Bâb, the Bâbîs were leaderless. Gathering
in Baghdad, though, on account of a letter of authority that had been
sent to him by the Bâb, Mîrzâ Yahyâ Subh-i-Azal -Bahâ'u'llâh's half-brother-
claimed the leadership of the Bâbîs, with its effective leadership in
reorganizing the community, Mîrzâ Husayn Alî Nûrî -"Bahâ'u'llâh"-
aroused as a prominent figure among the Bâbî community. Especially after
performing a "dramatic" religious experience when in prison,
known as Siyah Cal (the Black Hole) in 1852 at Tehran, it was not just
a successor anymore, but the holder of the claim of a new prophetic mission
that will transform the fate of the Bâbî movement.
On his release, returning to Baghdad, after two years in solitary contemplation
in the outskirts of Sulaymaniyya, he took over the absolute leadership
of the Bâbî community, and short while before his exile to Istanbul (Constantinople)
in 1863, in the garden of Nadjib Pasha -called by the Bahâ'îs as Bag-i
Ridvan- declared himself to be "to whom God shall manifest"
(man yuzhiru' llah). After four months in Istanbul, the exiles were sent
to Edirne (Adrianople). As the declaration was not announced widely, Bahâ'u'llâh
was still regarded as a leader of the Bâbîs. Edirne was going to be the
locus of the open declaration.
b.The Emergence of the Baha'î Faith (1863-1892)
In Edirne Mîrzâ Husayn Alî Nûrî openly announced his
claim to be "He Whom God shall make manifest," the Messianic
figure promised by the Bâb. It was also the period that Bahâ'u'llâh sent
letters to the kings and the rulers of "the East and the West",
proclaiming his mission and call them to accept. His claim was opposed
by the followers of Azal. Azal's opposition caused eventually the further
exile of Bahâ'u'llâh to Akra (Acre) where he will live until his death
in 1892, and the Azalîs to Cyprus.
This period was the turning point in the history of the Bahâ'î Faith.
These include, production of a number of books in which Bahâ'u'llâh laid
out the laws and the ordinances of his religion as well as the social
and the administrative principles which would act as the basis for the
new world order which he advocated; a series of letters to many of the
leading rulers of the world, announcing his message to them; and the instructions
given by Bahâ'u'llâh for a number of his followers to take up residence
in other countries, thus spreading the new religion. With the conversion
of non-Muslims, Bahâ'î Faith was opening a new chapter in his claim of
In his will (Kitab 'ahdi), Bahâ'u'llâh appointed Abdu'l-Bahâ as his successor
and the leader of the Bahâ'î Faith. In his two important writings, the
Kitâb-i-Aqdas and the Book of the Covenant, Bahâ'u'llâh designated his
eldest son, Abbas Effendi, "Abdu'l-Bahâ" as the sole authorized
interpreter of the writings of Bahâ'u'llâh as well as the center of authority
-the center of the Covenant-.
c.The Ministry of Abdu'l-Bahâ (1892-1921)
Abdu'l-Bahâ was faced with the opposition of his half-brother,
Mîrzâ Muhammad Alî of claiming for himself a station equal to Bahâ'u'llâh.
But the majority of the world Bahâ'î community remained faithful to Abdu'l-Bahâ.
Releasing from the prison, in 1908, under the amnesty of the Young Turks,
Abdu'l-Bahâ began his missionary journeys: to Egypt (1910), to France
and Britain (1911) and to America and Europe (1912-1913).
When he took over the leadership of the community, the Bahâ'î Faith had
adherents in 15 territories through the world. The most significant development
in that period was that the spread of the Faith to North America in 1894
by the efforts of Ibrahim Kheiralla. This Western expansion spread from
Northern America to Europe and Australia. Soon there was a flow of American
and European pilgrims coming to Akka in 1898.
This Western expansion has significant consequences on the independence
of the Faith. As a consequence of the efforts the Bahâ'î Faith was introduced
to the peoples from different backgrounds than the previous believers
and converts. Though limited in scale, with a diverse background of the
new believers, Bahâ'î Faith was no longer confined to a Muslim milieu,
but rather an international framework.
These developments also lead the change in the interpretation of the Bahâ'î
teachings. In that process of reformulation, although preserving the general
Shiite understanding and conceptualization, new formulations of the Bahâ'î
teachings were developed in terms of Christian terminology. Abdu'l-Bahâ,
himself, dealt with the reformulation in religious and philosophical themes,
as in Some Answered Questions.
The other significant events in the period of Abdu'l-Bahâ's ministry were:
the transfer of the remains of the Bâb from Iran to Akka and their entombment
in a shrine built by Abdu'l-Bahâ on Mount Carmel; the writing by Abdu'l-Bahâ
of the Tablets of the Divine Plan, as the master-plan for the spread of
the Bahâ'î Faith and the first steps in constructing the administrative
institutions of the Bahâ'î Faith throughout the world; the activities
of Mîrzâ Abu'l-Fadl Gulpâygânî in teaching the Bahâ'î Faith at the University
of al-Azhar; and the international travels of a number of Bahâ'îs, which
all helped to develop the feeling of a worldwide religion.
In 1921 Abdu'l-Bahâ died in Acre and buried near the shrine of the Bâb
on Mount Carmel. When he died, there were 35 countries/territories that
the Bahâ'î Faith exists. In his will, he appointed the eldest son of his
eldest daughter, Shoggi Effendi (1899-1957), as the "guardian of
the Cause of God" and "infallible interpreter of his writings
and those of his father".
d. The Ministry of Shoghi Effendi (1922-57)
Shoggi Effendi played a key role in the development
of the Bahâ'î Faith. He performed two-sided development: building up the
Bahâ'î administrative order; and the development of the Bahâ'î world center
in Haifa. Establishing the local assemblies, Shoggi Effendi set the plans
for the expansion and consolidation of the Bahâ'î Faith.
Beside his contribution on the development of the original Bahâ'î literature
in English, on the dimension of consolidation, he assigned national plans,
first of which was the Seven Year Plan (1937-1944), in which the American
Bahâ'î community was directed to establish the Bahâ'î Faith in Latin America.
By pioneering the developments of the other national communities, in 1953
Shoggi Effendi launched the first global plan for the twelve national
spiritual assemblies, known as the Ten Year Crusade, to disperse the Faith
over the world.
e. The Interregnum of the Hands of the Cause
When Shoggi Effendi died without leaving a will in
1957, the only group which aroused to have any basis of authority for
leading the Bahâ'î Faith were the Hands of the Cause, 27 indivuduals,
who had been appointed by Shoghi Effendi between 1952-1957, as "the
Chief Stewards of Bahâ'u'llâh's Embryonic World Commonwealth". The
Hands of the Cause held a series of Conclaves. By the second one, in 1958,
they decided to bring into being, the Universal House of Justice, an institution
ordained by Bahâ'u'llâh and stated by Abdu'l-Bahâ to be under divine guidance,
at the end of the Ten Year Crusade.(25)
f. The Universal House of Justice
By the election of the nine-man of the Universal House
of Justice in 1963 by the members of the National Spiritual Assemblies
of the existing 56 national Bahâ'î communities, the Bahá'í Faith entered
a new phase of its development: the leadership of the religion changed
from hereditary leaders to an elected council. Henceforward, the dual
framework of the consolidation and the expansion of the Bahâ'î Faith was
going to be preserved and advanced by the Universal House of Justice.(26)
It continued to launch a series of international plans for the processes
of expansion and development. "Besides detailing specific goals for
the number and distribution of Assemblies and localities, these Plans
have included other goals of both a quantitative and qualitative nature.
These goals have included:
1. The development of the Bahâ'î World Centre in the
Haifa-Akka area through the acquisition of several properties connected
with the lives of Bahâ'u'llâh and Abdu'l-Bahâ, the construction of the
seat of the Universal House of Justice (1983), and the extension and beautification
of the lands surrounding the Bahâ'î shrines;
2. The collection and classification of the Bahâ'î sacred writings and
of their authoritative interpretations (by Shoghi Effendi) has been continued
so that there are now in excess of 60 000 original documents or copies
held at Haifa;
3. The translation and publication of literature. Bahâ'î literature had
by 1988 been translated into 802 languages, and published in 520 languages;
some of this published material consists only of small pamphlets but at
least one book of 60 pages or more is now available in 111 languages and
there is quite a substantial literature in several European and Indian
languages as well as languages such as Swahili and Samoan;
4. The construction of Bahâ'î Houses of Worship of which all but one of
the seven presently built were constructed during the 1957-1988 period;
5. The establishment of Bahâ'î radio stations, seven to date: five in
Latin America, one in the USA and one in Africa;
6. The fostering of the spiritual, communal and intellectual aspects of
7. The proper functioning of Spiritual Assemblies;
8. The enhancement of the role of women within Bahâ'î administration and
9. The strengthening of family life;
10. The education of children;
11. The initiation of socio-economic projects including those concerned
with literacy, education, agriculture and health."(27)
These plans that led an unprecendent growth of the religion; the seemingly
negligible, heteredox trend within Shiite Islam removed from obscurity
to the public realm on the international scale: While the Bahâ'î population
was 213.000 in 1963, it was about 4.500.000 in 1988.(28)
That growth also led to a decisive shift in the demography Bahâ'î community
internationally. By the 1960's, the majority of Bahâ'îs increasingly came
to be drawn from the "Third World", which will decrease the
ratio of the Iranian believers to 6% (1988)(29): though mostly accepted
as an obscure heterodox grouping within Shiite Islam, the Bahâ'î faith
was achieving believers throughout the world, the persons probably never
heard a Shiite term in their life.
Moving forward through these stages, the Bahâ'î Faith as a little-known
religion shaped around the hegemony of the hereditary leadership within
Iranian community in its origin has been transformed into a much better
known religion under the government of an elected council composed of
members on numerous nationalities. "Originating as a sectarian movement
within nineteenth century Iranian Shiite Islam argues Momen and Smith,
the Bahâ'î Faith has developed into a religion of considerable scope and
dynamism. Whilst elements of its Shiite origins are clearly discernible
in its corpus of beliefs and practices, the religion has transcended its
Islamic roots. It is now a distinctive and independent religious movement,
whose leaders claim for it the status of a new world religion. Validation
for this claim may perhaps be found in the religion's impressive record
However, beside having achieved in the process of expansion, this universalism
was also a given nature of the Bahâ'î faith. By proclaiming himself, to
be the promised one of all religions, Bahâ'u'llâh was putting all the
other religions in the "other" side of the equation that should
be resolved by its missionary import. From that point of view, the missionary
endeavor due to the mentioned claim of Bahâ'u'llâh, was also a dynamic
redefining process of itself depending upon the relative differences.
That claim of fulfillness obliges to define itself in dependence upon
"the Other". Or in the Hegelian term, in order to prove itself,
it needs to be "recognized". And, rather than any other religion,
Islam must be the object of that recognition, which the Bahâ'î faith claims
the annulment of its validity.
IV. ESTABLISHING THE OTHER
When we try to analyze the relationship between Islam
and Bahâ'î faith, we met a presupposition that any reconciliation between
two parties is impossible. While one party is declaring its independence
at every possible opportunity in his struggle for recognition; the Other,
Islam, rejects that recognition completely by regarding the other as a
secterian movement in its sphere of life, but not " the Other"
that has its "own" the reality. The common aspect is that, within
the boundaries of its own understanding, both is aware of "who they
are": "the Master".
Most of the interpretations on the relation between Islam and the Bahai
Faith apply merely to the theological approach, which leads the question
to agnosticism. Accepting the essentiality of that determinist approach,
we will try to apply another layer of reasoning to clarify the mentioned
relation: through an understanding of the Hegelian fact of the Master-Slave
Following the point of view that Islam performs, it is not a necessary
stage to be acknowledged by any other; within the framework of the reality
of its truth, it is "the Religion" that does need any admission
by any other, especially "a false creed" that has originated
within its boundaries. But there seems to be a lacking point, a gap that
must be filled in that presupposition. Though accepted by many Islamic
scholars and authorities as a sectarian/radical movement flourishing from
Shaykiyya, Bahâ'î Faith is in continuity within its process of expansion,
also in the Islamic heartland. That indicates that an absolute rejection
does not provide an absolute solution, indeed for Islam. Then, how can
Islam recognize "an-other" that challenges its legitimacy and
claims its invalidity? That question obliges a normative analysis. Putting
off that question, to use in our synthesis, let us turn back to our analysis
of the dialectic for the Bahâ'î Faith.
The dialectical form of the history within Hegelian philosophy is developed
through the work of the slave; so that it is the actor who shapes the
continuity of the relationship. At its origin, by being rejected, or not
recognized, Bahai Faith seems to be in the position of the Slave. So,
primarily, it will be proper to demonstrate the position of the Bahai
Faith. According to Hegel, attaining Self-consciousness" (self -aware)
is a process which necessarily involves the Other. In order to develop
Self-consciousness one must face the Other and enter a life-and-death
struggle for recognition.
As the starting point for recognition, argues Hegel,
"Self-consciousness is faced by another Self-consciousness; it has
come out of itself. This has a two-fold significance: first, it has lost
itself, for it finds itself as an other being; secondly, in doing so it
has superseded the other, for it does not see the other as an essential
being, but in the other sees its own self." This is the process that
is embodied in the claim of the fulfillment of the Bahai faith, in other
words, Bahâ'î faith finds its true identity in its relationship with the
other religion. But in contrary to Hegel's dialectic, none of the parties
give up their desire for recognition(31) ; but apply to another attitude.
Depending on the confidence that it was already awarded his prestigious
status -as a Master?- Islam, ignores the opponent's claims, without any
need of facing any process of recognition. That may be true in the framework
of theology, but not the case for Hegel's framework of the dialectic:
The Master is called the Master because he strives to prove his superiority
over nature and over the slave who is forced to recognize him as a master.
As in the case of "entering the native realm of truth", Self-consciousness
"learns by experience of the independence of its object". This
needs "the desire and the certainty attained in the satisfaction
of desire (…) conditional upon the object, for certainty exists only through
the doing away of this other."(32) The believers of the Bahâ'î Faith
are confident that Bahâ'u'llâh is the prophet of this age and the Bahâ'î
Faith is the last revelation of the God. But "Self-consciousness
(…) is only as something acknowledged, or recognized." That is the
main motive for the stage of notification, what we proposed, as the Bahâ'î
Faith entered, by the reign of Bâb for gaining converts so that it can
emphasize itself as a new religion by the annulment of the Islamic law-
and period. Whenever the Other does not "condescend" the mention
struggle for recognition, this becomes just a one-sided effort, which
in the Bahâ'î case leads the fiction of the new "Others" for
the process of "coming outside itself" to "achieve the
sense of its freedom".
Hegel proposes that by the fear of death, the process of labor which the
slave performed is the means of the aimed self-realization. We can argue
that, the stage on which "the Cause" is subjected to the adherents
of the other religions, not just the Islam; and especially by gaining
the converts with the non-Islamic backgrounds, strengthens the claims
of independence of the Bahâ'î Faith both in the demographic statics and
the interpretation of the scriptures. In other words, this ensures it
on working off a complex due to the dependence on Islam: that provides
it the station of independence. What subjected to the other side of the
equation, the enjoyment is rather not to notice the claim preached by
the Bahâ'î Faith for independence.
But all these demonstrations contain paradox for both sides. One party,
as we argued, does not ignore the Other's assertions by admitting it as
a sect flourished within its boundaries. For Islam, Bahâ'î Faith is a
"false creed", but not the Other that its reality and dignity
is recognized. Due that confidence, it does not already take it seriously
to refute its claims. On the other side, the Bahâ'î Faith, though not
recognized by Islam -as proper within its Divine logic- gains adherents
within its dynamic process, which provides itself as a worldwide religion.
But that must be, in terms of Hegelian dialectic, a "mutual recognition".
Having been guided by that presupposition, the present, agnostic, relation
may be redefined within a Hegelian logic of "mutual recognition".
That does not mean that it obliges a process of dialogue. But, whenever
Islam recognizes the Bahâ'î Faith as external to its history, recognizing
1844 as the start of the Bahâ'î Faith -again and absolutely as a "false"
claim- that process of re-naming will lead re-discovering its own "reality"
and "truth" over the Bahâ'î Faith, but not a self-destruction.
As Hans-Georg Gadamer argues, "It is essential for Self-consciousness
that the other continues to exist. Only, if the other is not simply the
other of the first Self-consciousness, not simply his other, but rather
free, can it provide confirmation of the first Self-consciousness."(33)
That method of communication eclected with a material-value may even provide
more concrete legitimations for a life-and-death struggle, if it is ought
to be realized.
* M.A., Department of Public Administration, Fatih University.
1) SOLOMON, Robert C. From Hegel to Existansialism. (UK: Oxford University
Press, 1990), p.11.
2) LARRAIN, Jorge. Ýdeoloji ve Kültürel Kimlik. (Ýstanbul: Sarmal. 1995),
3) Ibid., p. 200
4) INWOOD, Mýchael. A Hegel Dictionary. (USA: Blackwell, 1992) p. 173.
5) ENAYAT Mohsen, "A Commentary on the Azhar's Statement Regarding
'Bahâ'îs and Bahâ'îsm, in the Bahâ'î Studies Review, Vol 2.1, 1992. P.
6) For such allegations on the claim of being a world religion, see: CHOULEUR,
J. "The Bahá'í Faith: World Religion of the Future," World Order
12.1 (1977). FAZEL, Seena, Is the Baha'I Faith a World Religion, Journal
of Bahá'í Studies 6:1 (1994). MOMEN, M. "Is the Bahá'í Faith a world
religion?" In Soundings - Essays in Bahá'í Theology. Ed. S. McGlinn.
Christchurch, NZ: Open Circle, 1989. SHOGGI EFFENDI, "The Faith of
Bahá'u'lláh, a world religion," World Order 13.7 (1947). SMITH, P.
Review of "The Babi and Bahá'í Religions: From Messianic Shi`ism
to a World Religion" Journal of the American Oriental Society 103.3
(1989). SMITH, P. and MOMEN, M. "The Bahá'í Faith 1957-1988: A Survey
of Contemporary Developments," Religion 19 (1989).
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Writings. (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1985), p. 47.
8) HEGEL, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich. Ed. by J. O'NEILL, Hegel's Dialectic
of Desire and Recognition: Text and Commentary. (New York: State University
of New York Press, 1996), p. 1.
9) HEGEL, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich. Tr. by T.M. KNOX, Early Theological
Writings. (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1985), p. 48.
10) HEGEL, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich. Ed. by Michael J. INWOOD, Hegel:Selections.
(USA: MacMillan, 1989), p. 168.
11) KOJEVE, Alexandre. Introduction to the Reading of Hegel: Lectures
on the Phenomenology of Spirit. (New York: Basic Books, 1969), p. 11.
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(USA: MacMillan, 1989), p. 172.
13) Ibid., p.173.
14) Ibid., p.173.
15) WYNNE, Eimear. "Reflections on Recognition: A Matter of Self-realization
or a Matter of Justice?", ýn Thinking Fundamentals. IWM Junior Visiting
Fellows Conferences. Vol. 9: Vienna 2000., p. 3
16) HEGEL, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich. Ed. by Michael J. INWOOD, Hegel:Selections.
(USA: MacMillan, 1989), p.174.
17) Ibid., p.176.
18) Ibid., p.177.
19) Ibid., p. 177.
20) Ibid., p. 178.
21) HEGEL, G. W. F. Enzyklopadie der philosophischen Wissenschaften III.
1817, Werke 10. (EG) Tr. by William Wallace and A. V. Miller. (Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 1971), § 436 A.
22) HEGEL, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich. Ed. by Michael J. INWOOD, Hegel:Selections.
(USA: MacMillan, 1989), p. 179.
23) Ibid., p. 180.
24) FERM, Vergilius. Encyclopedia of Morals. (New York: Philosophical
Library, 1956), p. 208.
25) This decision was opposed by Charles Mason Remey, who was both one
of the Hands of the Cause and president of the International Bahâ'î Council,
by proclaiming himself to be the second Guardian.
26) House of Justice itself defined of its own powers and responsibilities
in a formal constitution which was adopted in 1972.
27) SMITH Peter and MOMEN Moojan. The Bahâ'î Faith 1957-1988: A Survey
of Contemporary Developments. in Religion (1989) vol. 19. (pp. 63- 91),
28) Ibid., p. 72.
29) Ibid., p.72.
30) Ibid., p. 63-64.
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Ali Muhammad, the Bab, had declared that he gave up all his claims in
his "Letter of Penitence" (Tövbe-nâme) which is preserved in
the National Council (Þûrâ-yý Millî). But this document does not used
even by the Muslim scholars to refute the basis of the Babî religion.
If realized evidently, that would be what Hegel called as a dead unity.
32) HEGEL, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich. Ed. by Michael J. INWOOD, Hegel:Selections.
(USA: MacMillan, 1989), p.172.
33) GADAMER, Hans-Georg. "Hegel's Dialectic of Self-consciousness",
Hegel's Dialectic: Five Heremeneutical Studies. (New Haven: Yale University
Press, 1976), p. 64
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