Re: Why did you choose Bahaism over Islam?

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Posted by Salik on November 29, 1998 at 09:47:33:

In Reply to: Re: Why did you choose Bahaism over Islam? posted by Gordon Dicks on November 10, 1998 at 06:02:16:

: 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)

Good point and well taken. However, this is the dilema of translation and contextualization
we are speaking in this context of the advent of the Qa'im who according to Islam does
not bring a new religion but resurrects the original faith of Islam. That is Taslim, submission
before Allah as the One True God, not the clergy or administrators. And again we have to put Shoghi
Effendis putting the faith in the Islamic context.

: 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?

Actually the term for pilgrimage here is ziyarat not Hajj as is the case for Mecca and Medina.
Why did the Bab go on pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina if he had a new faith. Now returning
to ziyarat this is a common term used for visiting Sufi shrines in Iran. Again sufis saints are
considered manifestations of God (mazhar Allah).

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:

Again then why Did Baha' Allah fast Ramadhan, attend Sufi ceremonies and pray at the Mosque
even when he did not have to. There is too much historical evidence for the contrary. Salat is an verb "to pray"
in Sufism you have many extra duties and a book of Adab, customs and rituals associated
with the Sufi order you participate in. I do not see the Aqdas outside this Sufi custom.

: "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)

Again this would have a Sufi context, again the Sufi resurrection is a spiritual resurrection
of the individual annihalated in God, that is having direct gnosis of God. This gnosis
makes the limbs to quake, etc.

: 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."

Yes and this is the biggest point. It was after the fundamentalist court issued this verdict
that Shoghi Effendi was forced to make a clear and final break from the rest of the Islamic community.
Similiar rulings have been passed against sufis in the Sunni and Shi'a world. Most recently in Saudi Arabia and Iran.
And Shoghi Effendi comments on this ruling that the court went to far because Baha'is are Muslims.

: 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.

I hope you are not making an generalization here. Because some of my friends have been killed and tortured
for being Sufis in Iran. As a matter of fact more sufis have been killed in Iran because they are considered
"not Muslim" by these same judges. Basing your deduction on the false prejudices of some clergyman in Iran
does not prove the point. It only proves you are using biased data to reach a conclusion. What about those Mullahs who defend
the rights of Baha'is. I remind you I risk my own life by defending the rights of the Baha'i Faith, in and of itself. That is withstanding
my own academic conlcusions that the Baha'is revelation is Sufi inspiration and not a new religion in the ezoteric sense.

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
: Kitab-i-Iqan).

Please note my earlier comments regarding the function of the Qa'im.

: 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)

"There is no change in the religion of God" al-Qur`an



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