Re: Why did you choose Bahaism over Islam?

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

Posted by Gordon Dicks on November 10, 1998 at 06:02:16:

In Reply to: Re: Why did you choose Bahaism over Islam? posted by Salik on November 07, 1998 at 16:37:27:

Dear Salik,

Your frank opinions (and even more so, courteous manner) are much appreciated.

I am no expert in Arabic and so am unable to challenge your assertions about
the "western bias" in the translations of certain writings. Nevertheless,
it seems to me very clear that the Baha'i Faith is a religion independent
of Islam (in the sense of being based on a unique revelation and having its
own Book). While the cultural behaviour of the leaders of the Faith has
progressively become more westernized from Baha'u'llah to `Abdu'l-Baha to
Shoghi Effendi and so on (a fact frankly acknowledged in Baha'i historical
literature) the independence of the religious foundation can be clearly
traced even as far back as the Bab.

In support of this consider the following excerpt from the Bab's writings:
"It is clear and evident that the object of all preceding Dispensations hath
been to pave the way for the advent of Muhammad, the Apostle of God. These,
including the Muhammadan Dispensation, have had, in their turn, as their
objective the Revelation proclaimed by the Qa'im [the Bab]. The purpose
underlying this Revelation, as well as those that preceded it, has, in like
manner, been to announce the advent of the Faith of Him Whom God will make
manifest [Baha'u'llah]. And this Faith - the Faith of Him Whom God will
make manifest - in its turn, together with all the Revelations gone before
it, have as their object the Manifestation destined to succeed it."
(Selections from the Bab 105-106)

It could hardly be clearer that the Bab viewed His own Revelation as distinct
from the Qur'an, and the the Baha'i Revelation as again being distinct. This
is admittedly a translation, but I find it difficult to imagine how this
implication could be any different in the original unless the translation has
been utterly perverted.

Turning to the Writings of Baha'u'llah, the Kitab-i-Aqdas as a whole (even
without examining any of its particular passages) is ample proof that He
considered the Baha'i Revelation to be distinct from Islam. If the Baha'i
Faith were merely a reform movement within Islam, how could Baha'u'llah
presume to proclaim laws which are different from the laws of the Holy Qur'an?
Would the laws revealed through Muhammad countenance pilgrimage to Shiraz
and Baghdad instead of to Mecca? What about the new obligatory prayers
(salat)? Not to speak of the numerous new social laws which are integral
parts of Baha'u'llah's teachings. Putting aside laws, consider the following:

"Joel saith: "For the Day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who
can abide it?" Firstly, in the sublime utterance set forth in the Gospel
He saith that none is aware of the time of the Revelation, that none knoweth
it except God, the All-Knowing, Who is cognizant of all. Secondly, He setteth
forth the greatness of the Revelation. Likewise, in the Qur'an He saith:
"Of what ask they of one another? Of the Great Announcement." This is the
Announcement, the greatness of which hath been mentioned in most of the Books
of old and of more recent times. This is the Announcement that hath caused
the limbs of mankind to quake, except such as God, the Protector, the Helper,
the Succorer, hath willed to exempt. Men have indeed with their own eyes
witnessed how all men and all things have been thrown into confusion and been
sore perplexed, save those whom God hath chosen to exempt." (Baha'u'llah:
Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, Pages: 143-144)

From this and numerous other passages in Baha'u'llah's Writings, it is cleat
that He claims to be ushering in the Day of Judgment promised in both the
Bible and the Qur'an. I am no student of Islam, but surely it follows from
this that His Revelation is independent of the Revelation of the Holy Qur'an?

Finally, you are probably familiar with the judgement of the Appelate (Islamic)
religious court of Beba, Egypt quoted by Shoghi Effendi in "God Pases By",
p. 365, based in large part on examination of the Writings of Baha'u'llah and
`Abdu'l-Baha, and "delivered on May 10, 1925, subsequently sanctioned by the
highest ecclesiastical authorities in Cairo and upheld by them as final,
printed and circulated by the Muslim authorities themselves". I quote it
anyway for the sake of other people reading these messages.

"The Baha'i Faith is a new religion, entirely independent, with beliefs,
principles and laws of its own, which differ from, and are utterly in conflict
with, the beliefs, principles and laws of Islam. No Baha'i, therefore, can be
regarded a Muslim or vice-versa, even as no Buddhist, Brahmin, or Christian
can be regarded a Muslim or vice-versa."

While I would hope that Baha'is, who love and accept the truth of the Islamic
Faith, would never put it quite like this, the judgement nevertheless serves
to confirm the independence of the Baha'i Faith from the point of view of its
parent religion as well as its own Writings. As you are a Shi'i Muslim you
may contest the judgment of a Sunni court. I suspect that virtually any one
of the numerous Shi'i clergymen in Iran would be happy to confirm the opinion
that Baha'is are heretics who have rejected Islam. As a former Baha'i, you
are probably also familiar with the story of the young martyr Mona
Mahmudnizhad, who was asked by a Shi'i judge why she had "rejected Islam"
and become a Baha'i. Her answer was to the effect that as a Baha'i she
accepted Islam if that meant recognition of the truth of the Holy Qur'an and
the Prophet Muhammad, but that if by Islam was meant the teachings that had
caused people to preach hate and intolerance and superstition, then that was
why she was a Baha'i. The idea of "progressive revelation" is key to
understanding the position of the Baha'i Faith. Of course, this idea exists
in a certain form in Islam as well. One of the things that distinguishes the
Baha'i understanding from the Islamic one is the concept that Islam too has,
according to Baha'u'llah, been corrupted with the passage of time (refer to the

I say this with no disrepect to that holy Faith of God, as you
no doubt understand. For the record, I am in the unusual position for a
westerner of having first believed in Mohammad's Revelation and only later in
that of Baha'u'llah, so my love of and respect for Islam is profound.

Allah'u'Akbar, Allah'u'Abha.
"Call upon God, or call upon Rahman [the Merciful]; by whatever name ye call
upon Him, (it is well); for to Him belong the Most Beautiful Names."
(Holy Qur'an 17:110)

this topic is closed - post at