Re: Christology: Baha'i and the Koran

This is an archived post from the old bulletin board. For new posts, see the forum.

Posted by on April 01, 19101 at 08:58:21:

In Reply to: Re: Christology: Baha'i and the Koran posted by James Goldsmith on January 28, 19101 at 13:59:34:

Posted by James Turpin on December 16, 19100 at 04:19:29:

It is my understanding that the Baha'i believe that the Koran is more accurate than the Bible. How do you resolve the Baha'i beliefs in the Divinity and Sonship and physical death of Jesus, with the refutations of these same doctrines in verses (5.116), (4.171), (4.157) respectively of the Koran.


5.116 And behold! Allah will say: "O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men, take me and my mother for two gods beside Allah.?" He will say: "Glory to Thee! never could I say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, Thou wouldst indeed have known it. Thou knowest what is in my heart, Thou I know not what is in Thine. For Thou knowest in full all that is hidden.


4.171 O People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion: Nor say of Allah aught but the truth. Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) a messenger of Allah, and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a Spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in Allah and His messengers. Say not "Three (Trinity)" : desist: it will be better for you: for Allah is One God. Glory be to Him: (far exalted is He) above having a son. To Him belong all things in the heavens and on earth. And enough is Allah as a Disposer of affairs.

Dear James Turpin,

Your posting on the Baha’i Academics Resource Bulletin Board inspired me to write the following story. It is not yet complete, but so much time has elapsed since your posting that it seems unwise to delay sending at least some of this to you any longer. It is offered in hopes that it can be of some use. You might find interesting the fact that there were people such as Mirza Abu’l-Fadl, whose study of the Baha’i Faith was begun after they’d acquired and been recognized as possessing great knowledge of God’s previous Revelations. They then unloosed many a knot of dogma by the grace of God.

In sincerity and friendship,

Goli Collestan Young

There was a great scholar in Tehran, who in the latter half of the nineteenth century headed the capital city’s theological college. He was a recognized authority on the Old and New Testament as well as the Quran. Scholars literally studied at his feet and revered him. People in the streets and bazaars could see his excellent rank by the fineness of his robes and the grandness of his turban.

This mirza was not only well versed in the knowledge of the holy Books; he had also demonstrated a great understanding of the meanings of these Books; and he had developed spiritual qualities from immersing himself in the study of the holy Books.

Even given the superiority of Mirza’s rank and position in society, change was inevitable. The day dawned when Mirza was faced with the greatest challenge of life. On that day, he left Tehran on an outing in the company of several of his friends. The donkey he was riding out into the countryside threw its shoe and the group sought out a blacksmith. The smith, recognizing that this was a man of learning and notability, decided to pose a question to him. The blacksmith brought up an obscure religious tradition, asking if it were true. Mirza easily recollected the tradition and confirmed its truth. As he worked on the donkey’s shoe, Smith mentioned another such cryptic passage and asked if it was accurate. Probably thinking that this seemingly illiterate smith was just voicing random ruminations, the mirza offhandedly indicated that the second passage the blacksmith had quoted was also true. At that point, the blacksmith pointed out a specific condition to which both these passages applied, which then made them contradictory.

Mirza’s companions could see the shock and embarrassment play across his face. He had been confounded by a man who could not have received a formal, religious education in 19th century Iran (a society similar in its ‘classist’ restrictions to Charles Dickens’ England).

Mirza knew that years of study had helped to bring him the treasures of knowledge that constituted his great wealth. Now here was one who, seemingly poverty stricken in schooling, had still bested him. To make matters worse for Mirza, he found that the blacksmith was part of a large community. These people were known as Baha’is and were ostracized and intensely persecuted because they were thought to be heretics. Many of them were of the class of religious scholars, but others (e.g., craftsmen, cooks, caravan guides, etc) had received no traditional religious instruction. The Mirza decided to investigate the ideas of the Baha’is in an attempt to understand the source of their knowledge, which he suspected to be satanic.

The bazaar was filled with ancient, dark, little shops and stalls peppered with colorful goods. The cold, crumbling stone walls and dried, wood stalls were fired not only through blazing red and orange carpets, the cry of hand-tooled brass, the dissonant scents of spices and foods, and thousands of dissimilar objects. People with characters and dispositions as varied and disparate as their goods also colored the bazaar tableau. Among these was a drapery maker whom Mirza had befriended during his visits to the bazaar. After the mirza’s encounter with the blacksmith he found that his friend in the bazaar, the draper, was also a Baha’i.

The draper was appraised of Mirza’s humiliating encounter with the blacksmith. He decided that Mirza would be less likely to look at the Baha’i message prejudicially if the mirza were introduced to it by the unlettered, and not by the learned. Several of the Baha’is that the draper first introduced to the mirza were unschooled laborers. Regardless of this, they spoke with knowledge and wisdom about the holy Books and explained away matters that religious leaders had struggled with for centuries.

For eight months Mirza continued to meet with Baha’is and study their teachings. He learned that Baha’u’llah, the founder of the faith, taught respect for religion, writing:

"They that are possessed of wealth and invested with authority and power must show the profoundest regard for religion. In truth, religion is a radiant light and an impregnable stronghold for the protection and welfare of the peoples of the world, for the fear of God impelleth man to hold fast to that which is good, and shun all evil. Should the lamp of religion be obscured, chaos and confusion will ensue, and the lights of fairness and justice, of tranquillity and peace cease to shine. Unto this will bear witness every man of true understanding."

During these eight months Mirza found that the spirit of oneness and faith was strong in the Baha’is. In Iran, Christians, Jews, Moslems and Zoroastrians each worshiped separately. They lived side-by-side, but they did not pray or socialize together. Each community of believers was distinct from the others. Baha’is came from all backgrounds. There were Christians who had become Baha’i worshiping and even intermarrying with Moslem Baha’is.

Years later, Mirza described a meeting with Baha’is of various religious backgrounds in a sweet letter to a friend as follows:

"…How amazing that lost ones from the various religions have gathered together in the sweet creed of love for Him, that divers, separated hearts have agreed in worshiping Him, and that ancient feuds and hatreds of former nations have been replaced with true brotherly love.

On the eve of my departure from Hamadan for Kermanshah, a gathering for the purpose of fellowship and meeting the beloved of God was held in the home of one of the friends. At first friends of Muslim background, their faces shining with the light of Muhammad, arrived. After our good fortune in meeting, they bade me farewell and returned home.

Then the progeny of Abraham, the children of Israel, in whose countenances the splendor of blessedness and the perfection of Moses could be discerned. They passed an hour or two discussing theological matters. I perceived them to have the capacity, by the permission of God, to understand things that the most accomplished philosophers failed to comprehend, witnessed them plunge into oceans, the shores of which the greatest of scholars never reached, and discovered them to have attained stations denied to the greatest mystics. The hand of power had kneaded their clay with the waters of wisdom, the fingers of loving-kindness had etched on their faces the signs of grandeur, and the sun of grace had shone on their breasts with rays of love. It was as if the All-Wise had fashioned their natures so as to exalt His Cause, adorning them with lofty and praise worthy characters so as to fulfill His promise.

Praise be to God! In each one I could discern a manifest kindness, gentleness, and purity. Day and night, they busied themselves with delivering the Message to the masses of humanity, devoting themselves passionately to attaining a mystical knowledge of God, the Self-Sufficient, the Exalted. This is the power of the Almighty God. He replaced hereditary enmities with this sort of brotherhood, making the wolf and the lamb to lie down at the same watering place. Exalted be God, the All-Powerful!…"

In studying the Baha’i message, Mirza found that seeming contradictions between the teachings of different religions were resolved. Truths, which when viewed from one religious perspective appeared to contradict the teachings of another of the world’s religions, were elucidated. Christians who found fault with Jews for not having accepted the message of Jesus, yet themselves, rejected the Book of Muhammad, without having read or prayed over it, found understanding of the Moslem faith through the Baha’i writings.


Seemingly contradictory doctrine elucidated : Mirza ‘Abu’l-Fadl speaks of "Sonship" on page 25 of the compilation of his works entitled Letters & Essays.

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