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from the chronology

date event locations tags see also
1942 (The early 20th Century) Bahá'í Scholarship

The publication in 1865 of the Comte de Gobineau’s (1816-1882),Les Religions et Les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale created an interest in Europe. A scholar that was inspired by Gobineau was E.G.Browne. He travelled to Iran and also visited Bahá’u’lláh in Akka in the latter days of His life. He translated two histories of the new religion and published two other books as well as a number of articles. He also made an important collection of manuscripts that he gave to Cambridge University Library. Bahá'ís have criticized Browne's work for being too sympathetic to Azal, Baha'u'llah's half-brother and implacable enemy. A.L.M. Nicolas (1864-1939) was a French consular official in Iran who researched and wrote a biography of the Bab as well as translating three of the Bab's major works into French.

     Just as the Báb was the centre of the scholarly interests of Gobineau, Browne and Nicolas, some Russian scholars who were more interested in Bahá'u'lláh. Baron Viktor Rosen (1849-1908), the director of the Oriental Department of the University of St. Petersburg was assisted by Aleksandr Tumanski (1861-1920). He spent a great deal of time with the Bahá'í community of Ashkhabad and with Mirza Abu'l-Fadl Gulpaygani. Although he did not write as much as Browne or Nicolas, what he did write was derived from a very deep and thorough investigation.

     There was much interest in scholarship in the early days of the Faith because almost all of the most important disciples of the Bab were Islamic religious scholars, as were many of the leading converts to the Bahá'í Faith in later years. The most important of these was the above mentioned Mirza Abu'l-Fadl Gulpaygani (1844-1914). He was learned in the Zoroastrian and Jewish scriptures and spent some time in the Christian West at the request of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá prior to His visit.

     During the 1930s to 1960s, a second generation of Iranian Bahá'íscholars, such as Fadil Mazandarani (1881-1957), 'Abdul-Hamid Ishraq-Khavari (1902-1972), and 'Azizu'llah Sulaymani (1901-1985) systematized Bahá'ítheology and law, developed aids for scholars such as dictionaries of Bahá'í terminology, and wrote histories and biographies. This was of course a more traditional style of scholarship than is current in the West, but it continues to be useful to all present scholars.

     The above-described initial flurry of interest in the Babi and Bahá'í religions in the West was not sustained and from the 1920s to the 1970s, there were no Western scholars who were as deeply engaged as the above-named ones and only a handful of studies that can be said to have done much to advance knowledge. From the 1970s onward, there gradually emerged a new stream of scholars who can be said to be a fusion of the above two groups, the Western and the Bahá'í scholars. This new generation of scholars mostly began as Bahá'ís, although some have subsequently left the religion. They use Western academic methodology and most operate from within Western universities but they have access to insider information and resources. Apart from these individuals, the Bahá'í Faith has been very little studied by Western scholars of religion.

     A word must also be said about what passes for scholarship on the Baha'i Faith in Iran and to a lesser extent in the rest of the Middle East. Baha'is have been persecuted in many Middle Eastern countries and rejected by Islamic leaders, and one form of this discrimination has involved the manipulation of information. For most of the last 100 years, deliberately distorted or falsified information and documents have been created mostly by some within the Islamic religious establishment and then distributed as though these were facts about the Baha'i Faith. Since the Baha'is have had no ability to respond to this material in the Middle East, these distortions have gradually become accepted in the Middle East as the truth. One example is the forged memoirs of Count Dolgorukov, the Russian ambassador to Iran in the 1840s to 1850s. This and other contradictions were so clearly spurious that even some Iranian scholars debunked them when they were first published in the 1940s. But despite this, they are often regularly cited by Middle Eastern writers up to the present day as though they are a reliable source for the history of the religion.

     Since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, this manufacturing of disinformation and forged material has increased greatly with programs in the media, articles, and books appearing on a frequent basis, especially in the government-run media. The result is that there is almost nothing published in the Middle East that has reliable information about the Baha'i Faith in it. A little of this sort of scholarship has also appeared in the West; some Christian missionaries, notably Reverend William McElwee Miller(1892-1993)(Also see WOB83) have written anti-Baha'i material and ex-Baha'is have published academic work that is calculated to make the Baha'i community resemble a cult as portrayed in the anti-cult campaigns that were carried out in the Western media in the 1980s. [The above was copied from the website Patheos and has been edited for brevity. It was contributed by Dr. Natalie Mobini]

  • See as well the publication of Der Bahā'ismus, Weltreligion der Zukunft?: Geschichte, Lehre und Organisation in Kritischer Anfrage (Bahá'ism-Religion of the Future? History, Doctrine and Organization: A Critical Inquiry) by Francesco Ficicchia under the auspices of the Central Office of the Protestant Church for Questions of Ideology in Germany.
  • Bahai Scholarship; Comte de Gobineau; E.G.Browne; A L M Nicolas; Baron Viktor Rosen; Aleksandr Tumanski; Mirza Abul Fadl Gulpaygani; Fadil Mazandarani; Abdul Hamid Ishraq Khavari; Azizullah Sulaymani; Reverend William McElwee Miller; Francesco Ficicchia; Z****
    1981 1 Jan The publication of Der Bahā'ismus, Weltreligion der Zukunft?: Geschichte, Lehre und Organisation in Kritischer Anfrage (Bahá'ism-Religion of the Future? History, Doctrine and Organization: A Critical Inquiry) by Francesco Ficicchia under the auspices of the Central Office of the Protestant Church for Questions of Ideology in Germany. This book was distributed by the Protestant Church and became the most widespread book on the Bahá'í Faith in German, and as such was widely accepted as a critical academic publication. At the time of its distribution a decision was taken to not dignify the publication with a rebuttal. This proved to be an error. Making the Crooked Straight was published in 1995 in German and translated/published by George Ronald Publishers in 2000. The purpose of the book, as the name suggests, was to address the distorted views presented in Ficicchia's publication. [MCSintroduction] Germany Opposition; Criticism and apologetics; Making the Crooked Straight (book); Bahai Scholarship; A.L.M. Nicolas; E. G. Browne; Baron Viktor Rosen; Aleksandr Tumanski; Mirza Abu'l-Fadl Gulpaygani; Alfred von Kremer
    2015 12 Feb The official opening of the new location of the Afnan Library Trust at Sandy, close to Cambridge. The Afnan Library Trust was established in 1985 to manage the collection bequeathed by Hasan Balyuzi when he passed away in 1980. It consists of some 10,000 books, as well as a vast quantity of manuscripts, original letters, maps, documents, periodicals, and unpublished items – some of them dating back to the nineteenth century. [BWNS1040] The official website can be found here.
    • "In a letter dated the 10 November and the 20 November 1979 he (Hasan Balyuzi) left instructions that all his books and document are to be kept together perpetually... and that they are to form the nucleus of the Afnán Library, founded in the name of his father, Muvaqqari'd-Dawlih, and dedicated to Khadíjih Bagum". [KBWBix]
    Sandy; Cambridge; United Kingdom Afnan Library Trust; Afnan; Hasan Balyuzi; Libraries; Bahai studies; Scholarship; BWNS; Z****

    from the main catalogue

    1. A Way Out of No Way, by Hussein Ahdieh and Hillary Chapman: Review, by Donald T. Streets, in Journal of Bahá'í Studies (2017). [about]
    2. Academic Irrelevance or Disciplinary Blind-Spot?: Middle Eastern Studies and the Baha'i Faith Today, by Ismael Velasco, in Middle East Studies Association Bulletin (2001). Possible reasons for the lack of attention to Baha'i topics in academia. [about]
    3. Academic Methodologies, by Universal House of Justice and Susan Maneck (1997). Two letters to the House on the relationship between "materialistic methodologies" and "doctrinal heresy" in the academic fields, followed by the House's detailed response. [about]
    4. Aspects of Bahá'í Scholarship, Some, by Peter J. Khan (2008). [about]
    5. Aspects of Bahá'í Scholarship, Some, by Peter J. Khan, in Journal of Bahá'í Studies, 9:4 (1999). [about]
    6. Bahá'í Scholarship: Readings, in Bahá'í Studies Review, 3:2 (1993). [about]
    7. Bahá'í Faith, Scholarship on, by Moojan Momen (1995). This article is a survey of attempts to analyse and study the Babi and Bahá'í Faith from a scholarly viewpoint. [about]
    8. Bahá'í Fundamentalism and the Academic Study of the Babi Movement, by Denis MacEoin, in Religion, 16:1 (1986). A response to Afnan and Hatcher's "Western Islamic Scholarship and Bahá'í Origins," on the issues of faith-based approaches to religious history and textual criticism. [about]
    9. Bahá'í Review: Should the 'red flag' law be repealed?, by Barney Leith, in Bahá'í Studies Review, 5:1 (1995). Argument that the current provisions for review may be anachronistic and that the benefits of deregulation might outweigh possible disadvantages. Includes responses by Roxanne Lalonde and Sepideh Taheri. [about]
    10. Bahá'í Scholarship: Definitions and Perspectives, by Moojan Momen, in Bahá'í Studies Review, 3:2 (1993). Reflections on strictly religious Bahá'í scholarship vis-à-vis secular scholarship, and how one can effectively study the Faith in different fields. [about]
    11. Bahá'í Scholarship: An examination using citation analysis, by Seena Fazel and John Danesh, in Bahá'í Studies Review, 5:1 (1995). Examines references of articles in major Bahá'í studies journals published during 1978-83 and 1988-93 to study trends in Bahá'í scholarship. [about]
    12. Bahá'í scholarship: importance, nature, and promotion of, by International Teaching Centre (1984). Information on Baha'i scholarship to devise ways to foster the development of Baha'i scholarship along lines that are in accordance with Baha'i standards and values. [about]
    13. Baha'i Studies in Iran: A Preliminary Survey, by Bijan Ma'sumian and Adib Ma'sumian, in Bahá'í Studies Review, 20 (2014). Overview of the cultivation and evolution of religious education in the Baha’i Faith in Iran in the 19th and 20th centuries. [about]
    14. Bahá'í studies Seminar in Cambridge, 30 September - 1 October 1978: Message to Participants, by Universal House of Justice, in Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1963-1986: The Third Epoch of the Formative Age, (1996). Harmony of science and religion; faith and reason; spiritual scholarship; and the institution of review. [about]
    15. Challenge of the Bahá'í Faith: A Non-Bahá'í Assessment of Reasons for Studying the Bahá'í Religion, by Vernon Elvin Johnson, in World Order (1976). Though small and young, the Bahá’í Faith is a subject of central importance not only for the student of the history of religions but for anyone interested in world problems and proposals for their solution. [about]
    16. Contemporary developments in Baha'i studies: An examination using citation analysis, by Seena Fazel, in H-Baha'i Occasional Papers in Shaykhi, Babi and Baha'i Studies, 7:1 (2003). Investigation of contemporary developments using the technique of citation analysis, a widely used method to report trends in academia. [about]
    17. Covenant-Breakers in Bahá'í Historiography, by Universal House of Justice, in Bahá'í Studies Bulletin, 5:3-6:1 (1991). Baha'i scholars may, when needed, use books by Covenant Breakers. [about]
    18. Crisis in Babi and Bahá'í Studies, The: Part of a Wider Crisis in Academic Freedom?, by Denis MacEoin, in British Society for Middle Eastern Studies, 17:1 (1990). Response to Cole's review of MacEoin's "Hierarchy, Authority, and Eschatology in Early Babi Thought" with comments on "outsider" scholarship versus faith-based approaches. [about]
    19. Dilemmas and Prospects of Writing a Bahá'í Encyclopedia, by Will C. van den Hoonaard, in Journal of Bahá'í Studies, 2:1 (1989). [about]
    20. Doing Bahá'í Scholarship in the 1990s: A Religious Studies Perspective, by Stephen Lambden, in Bahá'í Studies Review, 3:2 (1993). Argues that Baha'i studies must address contemporary world issues, dialogues in pluralism, the New Age movement, and secular ideologies. [about]
    21. Dr. MacEoin's "Problems of Scholarship...": Some Thoughts, by Stephen Lambden, in Bahá'í Studies Bulletin, 1:3 (1982). The nature of faith-based approaches to studying religion, authoritarianism, supernatural vs. human knowledge, Baha'i "review", and examination of some sources. [about]
    22. Finding a Trace of the Traceless Friend: Reflection on Bahá'í Scholarship as a Journey in the Valley of Search, by Wolfgang A. Klebel, in Lights of Irfan, 15 (2014). Prerequisites of search; independent investigation and the role of the heart, culture and tradition; dealing with distractions; exclusivity of search and sacrificing; seeking truth in every soul; and the standard of Majnún — seek her everywhere. [about]
    23. Holy Grail of Objectivity, The: Some Considerations for Balancing Sacred and Secular in Bahá'í Scholarship, by Rick Harmsen, in Deepen, No 8 Vol. 3.3 (1995). Discussion of an apologetic nature about an interpretive or hermeneutic principle relating to Baha'i scholarship articulated by Shoghi Effendi. [about]
    24. Insider and Outsider Scholarship in Bahá'í Studies, by Moojan Momen, in Lights of Irfan, Volume 9 (2008). [about]
    25. Intellectual Life of the Bahá'í Community, The, by Farzam Arbab, in Journal of Bahá'í Studies, 26:4 (2016). The 34th Hasan M. Balyuzi Memorial Lecture at the ABS conference in Montreal, on the need for us to have intellectual courage, a lack of elitism, and the harmony of science and religion. Includes video, published version, and an outline of the talk. [about]
    26. Knowledge and the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh: Invited Commentary, by Ian C. Semple, in Bahá'í Studies Review, 9 (1999). [about]
    27. List of Baha'i Studies and Translations, by Stephen Lambden. A list of content available at Lambden's personal website, Hurqalya Publications, with select links to manuscripts, texts, introductions. Includes Shaykhi and Babi studies, bibliographies, genealogies, provisional translations. [about]
    28. Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986: Third Epoch of the Formative Age, by Universal House of Justice (1996). [about]
    29. Methodology in Bahá'í studies, by Moojan Momen, in Bahá'í Studies Review, 10 (2001). How Bahá'í scholars can interact with secular academia. Bahá’í scholarship can develop in two ways: interior (scholarship that develops within the Bahá’í community, based on faith) and exterior (academic scholarship based on rationalistic methodology). [about]
    30. "Note on Maceoin's 'Bahá'í Fundamentalism'" and "Afnán, Hatcher and an old bone", by Muhammad Afnan and William S. Hatcher, in Religion, 16:2 (1986). Two shorter follow-up essays, offering closing thoughts on a previously-published debate about issues of historical accuracy, academic neutrality, and faith-based scholarship. [about]
    31. Primary Source Texts, Access to, by Universal House of Justice and Susan Maneck (1998). One scholar's query why the Baha'i World Centre's copies of primary sources in Babi and Baha'i history are not available for study, followed by the House's response. [about]
    32. Promises to Keep: Thoughts on an Emerging Bahá'í Theology, by Jack McLean (1995). A nascent Bahá'í systemic theology must have certain parameters, including spirituality, the prophetic tradition, and the "truth claims" neglected by the academic study of religion. [about]
    33. Propositions on a More Comprehensive Theology, by Jack McLean (1995). Implications of theology for science and creativity, religious language, proclamation, apologetics, the existential dimension, the relativity of religious truth, and scholarship. Theology must be a careful science. [about]
    34. Purposes and Objectives of Bahá'í Scholarship, The: Compilation and commentary, by Peter Terry (2009). Three essays on objectives of Bahá'í Scholarship, attaining to the knowledge of God, and the study of philosophy. [about]
    35. Rationality in Academic Disciplines, by K. P. Mohanan, in Singapore Bahá'í Studies Review, vol. 6 (2001). For an academic community to construct knowledge through teamwork, its members must have a shared language with the same pairings of concepts and words, and they must have shared epistemic values by which to "dialogue" and base collective decisions. [about]
    36. Response to MacEoin's "Problems of Scholarship" and "A Critique of Moojan Momen's Response," A, by Moojan Momen and Denis MacEoin, in Bahá'í Studies Bulletin, 1:4 (1983). A discussion touching on many topics, including scientific objectivity in the study of religion, faith vs reason, liberalism, academic standards, and the nature of sects vs "world religion." [about]
    37. Results of Talisman Attitudes Survey, by Eric Hadley-Ives (2000). Detailed analysis of the beliefs and community interactions of participants in the listserver Talisman2 (circa 1999). [about]
    38. Role of the Scholar: Scholarship and the Covenant, by John S. Hatcher and Abdu'l-Missagh Ghadirian (1996). Essays "The New Role of the Scholar in Baha'i Society" and "Scholarship and the Covenant." [about]
    39. Scholar Meets Prophet: Edward Granville Browne and Bahá'u'lláh (Acre, 1890), by Christopher Buck and Youli Ioannesyan, in Bahá'í Studies Review, 20 (2014). Details of E.G. Browne's handwritten notes about his meeting with Baha'u'llah, his stay in Akka in April 1890, and his correspondence with Russian academics. [about]
    40. Scholarly Activities, Development of, by Universal House of Justice, in Lights of Irfan (2009). [about]
    41. Scholars and the Administrative Order, by Universal House of Justice (1997). Letter to the House requesting guidance concerning a possible "atmosphere of distrust" among some academics, followed by a response which sets the problem in the context of the current intellectual and spiritual crisis afflicting society at large. [about]
    42. Scholarship: A Bahá'í Perspective, by William S. Hatcher, in Journal of Bahá'í Studies, 1:2 (1988). [about]
    43. Scholarship, by Bahá'u'lláh and Abdu'l-Bahá, in Compilation of Compilations, Volume 3 (2000). [about]
    44. Scholarship and the Bahá'í Community, by Moojan Momen, in Journal of Bahá'í Studies, 1:1 (1988). [about]
    45. Scholarship and the Bahá'í Institutions, Comments on, by Robert Stockman, in Associate, 33-34 (2001). The terms "scholarship" vs "scholar"; relationship between scholarship and faith; relationship with the institutions; scholarship in North America. [about]
    46. Scholarship from an Aboriginal Perspective, by Diana Rose Yoka, in Bahá'í Studies in Australasia vol. 3 (1996). [about]
    47. Scholarship, Bahá'í: Statements from the World Centre, by Universal House of Justice, in Bahá'í Studies Review, 3:2 (1993). [about]
    48. Scholarship, Bahá'í, by Shoghi Effendi and Universal House of Justice, in Bahá'í Studies Review, 3:2 (1993). [about]
    49. Selected Extracts from Letters on Scholarship, by Bahá'u'lláh and Abdu'l-Bahá (1979). Two compilations on scholarship. [about]
    50. Seven Narratives of Religion: A Framework for Engaging Contemporary Research, by Benjamin Schewel, in Journal of Bahá'í Studies, 25:1-2 (2015). Academic discourse on religion is beginning to resonate with the broader Baha'i vision. Seven narrative frameworks are examined and contrasted: subtraction, renewal, transsecular, post-naturalist, construct, perennial, and developmental. [about]
    51. Seven Valleys and the Scientific Method, The, by Robert Sarracino, in Lights of Irfan, Book 3 (2002). [about]
    52. Social Organization of Mentorship in Bahá'í Studies, The, by Will C. van den Hoonaard, in Journal of Bahá'í Studies, 8:3 (1998). [about]
    53. Spiritual Self in Bahá'í Studies, The, by Jack McLean (2003). Being philosophically informed is particularly important for Bahá'ís who are in dialogue with persons concerned with ethical, epistemological, theological and metaphysical issues. This paper introduces the topic for discussion among Baha'i academics. [about]
    54. Study of Religion, The: Some Comments on Methodology of Studying Religion, by Moojan Momen, in Bahá'í Studies Review, 1:1 (1991). Reasons for the broad variety of different theoretical frameworks from which to view religious phenomena and the lack of a unified model. [about]
    55. Study of the Bahá'í Faith, Comment on Issues Related to the, by Universal House of Justice, in Lights of Irfan, Volume 9 (2008). A follow-up to the "Issues Related to the Study of the Baha'i Faith" lettter. [about]
    56. Study of the Bahá'í Faith, Issues Related to the, by Universal House of Justice (1998). Letters from the House and the International Teaching Center, and compilation on the nature of opposition to the Faith from within academia, especially as conducted via the Internet. [about]
    57. Styles of piety: Notes on the relationship between Bahá'í scholars and the Bahá'í institutions with reference to academic methodology, by Todd Lawson, in Bahá'í Studies Review, 11 (2003). On the role of the scholar in the community, the phenomenon of the internet, and the institution of the Covenant, as seen in the light of the intellectual heritage of the Islamic world. [about]
    58. "'The Objectivity Question' and Bahá'í Studies: A Reply to MacEoin" and "A Few Words in Response to Cole's 'Reply to MacEoin'", by Juan Cole and Denis MacEoin, in British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, 18:1 (1991). Two responses to MacEoin's article "Crisis in Babi and Bahá'í Studies." [about]
    59. The Prophecies of Jesus, by Michael Sours: Review, by Christopher Buck, in Journal of Bahá'í Studies, 5:2 (1992). [about]
    60. Thoughts on the Establishment of a Permanent Bahá'í Studies Center and Research Institute, Some, by Stephen Lambden, in dialogue magazine, 2:2-3 (1988). Present state and future possibilities of Baha'i studies and academic curricula, and answers to various objections. Includes short compilation on the importance of scholarship. [about]
    61. Towards a Spiritual Methodology of Scholarship, by Chris Jones Kavelin, in Australian Baha'i Studies, Volume 4 (2003). Attempt to offer youth a vision of their sacred duty to pursue scholarship and a confidence in their unique spiritual genius to enable a world civilization to become conscious of its own Divine origin, spiritual nature, sacred purpose and glorious destiny [about]
    62. Translation and Review, by Universal House of Justice (1991). Whether certain scholars were authorized as translators, and that the institution of review is not being abrogated at this time. [about]
    63. Western Islamic Scholarship and Bahá'í Origins, by Muhammad Afnan and William S. Hatcher, in Religion, 15:1 (1985). A critique of articles by Denis MacEoin, and a defense of Baha'i interpretations of history vis-à-vis academic criticism. [about]
    64. "What I Want to Say is Wordless": Mystical Language, Revelation and Scholarship, by Ismael Velasco, in Lights of Irfan, Book 2 (2001). [about]
    65. Why We Need Bahá'í Theology, by Jack McLean (1995). A short definition of theology, its relationship with scholarship in general, and the role of apologetics. [about]
    66. Yerrinbool Report on Scholarship: 1997, by Graham Hassall (1998). Overview of worldwide Baha'i scholarship projects, publications, and events - 1997. [about]
    67. Yerrinbool Report on Scholarship: 1998, by Graham Hassall (1999). Overview of worldwide Baha'i scholarship projects, publications, and events - 1998. [about]
    68. Yerrinbool Report on Scholarship: 1999, by Graham Hassall, in Australian Bahá'í Studies, vol. 2 (2000). Overview of worldwide Baha'i scholarship projects, publications, and events - 1999; includes a progress report on the growth of the Baha'i Library Online. [about]
     
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