A Brief History of the Bahá'í Faith
Jesus promised His disciples that He would ask the Father to send "the Comforter" to guide them. Jesus spoke Aramaic (a language akin to Arabic). In Aramaic Bibles, Jesus promises His disciples that the Father will send "Muamahana" ("Praised One") to comfort and guide them:
"If you love me, keep my commandments, and I will pray to the Father and He will give you another, the Mauhamana [Aramaic: "Praised One"], that he may stay with you always, he is the Spirit of Truth." (John 14:15-17)The Arabic name for "Mauhamana" is "Muhammad".
In 610 A.D., there was an Arab man named "Muhammad" living near Mecca. Everyone called Him "Ameen"; which means "Faithful and True"; because He was a very honest and upright man, in a time of dishonesty and violence. He studied the religion of the Jews and the Christians and the Sabeans, but decided He would remain a "Hanafi" ("one who turns away from idols"); meaning a spiritual person who is not religious. Every year, He would enter a cave near Mecca to pray and meditate for several weeks.
In 610 A.D., Muhammad had His "first vision" while meditating in a cave near Mecca. A man appeared in the cave and said "Recite!". Muhammad replied, "I cannot read." The man repeated "Recite!" twice more. Muhammad ran outside the cave, in was dawn, and the man was standing in the air upon the horizon. He identified himself as Gabriel, and taught Muhammad 114 inspired poems called "The Recital" (Arabic: al-Qur'an). Over a billion people on Earth today belive that the Qur'an is God's final Revelation to mankind, and Muhammad His final Prophet for all time. Baha'is believe there is no "final" Prophet. As long as there are sinful mortals, God will send Prophets to guide them; on this planet and other material planets.
The Prophet Muhammad is described in the Book of Revelation chapter 19 (verse 11 through 16) as the one called "Faithful and True" Who rides a white horse and has a bow in His hand Whose garments were dipped in blood, and Who wore many crowns and Who makes war in order to establish justice. The nickname of Muhammad was "Ameen" (Arabic: "Faithful and True") and He was known as a fearsome archer. He made war against the pagan Arab tribes in order to establish the Justice of God, and His garments were literally "dipped in blood".
George Hinkle, a personal friend of Joseph Smith, later wrote that he heard Joseph Smith say that "Muhammad was a good man, and a true Prophet." (Correspondance and Orders, 1841, p.126).
At the age of about 50, Muhammad died. In ten years, His Muslim armies had conquered most of the Arabian penninsula. After His death, there was controversy among the Muslims as to who would succeed Him. He had said that no Prophet would succeed Him. Most of the Muslims wanted Omar to succeed Him, but some wanted Muhammad's cousin and son-in-law Ali (aw-lee) to succeed Him.
The true Successor of Muhammad was His cousin and son-in-law, the Imaam Ali (ee-mom aw-Lee). The Imaam Ali claimed to be the "return" of the WORD of God (the soul or "individuality" of Jesus). The Imaam Ali is purported to have said:"I am the First. I am the Last. I was with Noah. I am the Builder. I am the destroyer. I am the Agent whereby Jesus spoke in His Cradle. I am the WORD through Which all things were consummated. I am the ONE Who organized existence when there was no heaven as you have now nor earth as you know it now." (Sermon on the Gulf)The Imaam Ali and his follows the "Shee'aw" ("partisans") were violently opposed by the Umayyid Caliphs of Syria; a wealthy ruling family who took control of "Soonee" Islaam in the late 7th century. They send armies against the Imaam Ali and his "partisans" in Iraq. who was killed in battle in Iraq in the late 7th century. His sons succeeded him, and both were also killed, but the grandson of Ali survived, and the eldest males of the bloodline of Ali became the "Imaams" (Leaders) of Shi'ite Islaam. They found refuge in Persia. The last rightful successor of Muhammad was the Siyyid Muhammad al-Mahdi; who as a young boy of 11 years old, fell down a well near Qom, Iran, in the Muslim year 260 A.H. (874 A.D.).
The descendants of Ali wore green turbans; green being the color of the green fig leeves of Paradise. Each descendant of Muhammad was called a "Siyyid". The last Siyyid of this line was Siyyid Muhammad al-Mehdi, who "disappeared" in the year 847 A.D. (260 A.H.), near Qom, Iran.
The last Imaam of Shi'ite Islaam was the 12th Imaam. As a young boy of 11 he "disappeared" in a cellar of a house which had a deep well. The Shi'ite leaders told their followers that "Mehdi" was not dead, but that God was "hiding" him until the last days, when Mehdi would "arise" again, this time as a mature man, to restore "the True Faith" and prepare the way for the return of the Prophet Isa (Jesus). The sight of the well is now a sacred location visited by many pilgrims yearly where they right down prayers and toss the pieces of paper down the well in the hopes that the Imaam Mehdi might read their prayers and then ask Muhammad who will then ask ALLAH to grant the request asked. The well-sight is covered by an ornate dome, just outside of the city of Qom, Iran.
Shi'ites all over the Muslim world await the Day when the Imaam Mehdi will "arise" (he is called "Qa'im"--"the Riser") to establish the True Faith. According to a saying of the Prophet Muhammad:"Even if the entire duration of the world's existence has already been exhausted and only one day is left before the Day of Judgment, Allah will expand that day to such a length of time, as to accommodate the kingdom of a person out of my household and family who will be called by my name and my father's name. He will then fill the Earth with peace and justice as it will have been filled with injustice and tyranny before then." (Sunan Abu Dawud, v2, p7)All Shi'ite Muslims await the coming of "The Riser" as Christians await the Second Coming of Christ. He will "restore" the True Faith (true sect of Islaam). Shi'ites believe that the Imaam Mehdi will unite the Shi'ites, and defeat their enemies. Isa (Jesus) will at first be his disciple, but later (since Jesus is a Prophet), Jesus will lead the Shi'ites. Jesus will break all crosses, and kill all swine, and kill al-Dajjal (The Anti-Christ) who shall be from Isfahan, Iran, and have one eye. Over 150 million Shi'ites await "The Riser".
In the early 1800s, a Shi'ite named Shaykh Ahmad al-Ahsa'i appeared in Behrain, claiming to be a Moo-hawd-dawth (Arabic: "one spoken to" i.e. "Seer"). He claimed to be visited in visions by the Prophet Muhammad and the 12 Imaams, who gave to him ishrawq (Arabic: divine illumination). Shaykh Ahmad taught that the Imaam Mehdi died in the well, but that he would return, not in his original body (which had returned to the earth), but his spirit (ruh) and soul (nafs) would return to this Earth in new bodies with new names. His Spirit would return as a new Prophet (a Manifestation of God), and his Soul would return as a Mustafa (Arabic: "Chosen One"--a supra-human soul that "returns" to this material world and has supra-human spiritual insight).
Shaykh Ahmad taught that human souls do not return to this material world, but the Manifestations of God do not have human souls. He taught that Heaven was not above the stars, and Hell was not below the Earth, but one had "Heaven" or "Hell" in their soul already (i.e. these were conditions of the soul), and these "manifested" heavenly or hellish conditions in Barzakh (the spirit-world between death and the Afterlife). He taught that the stars were other suns, surrounded by other planets. He taught the existence of the Realm of the Essence (Hey-hoot), three Spiritual Realms (Law-hoot, Jaw-bar-root, Mal-law-koot) and one Material Realm (Naw-soot) were the Sun burns and wears-out the skin. If we do not purify ourselves on this material planet, we must go to another, and so on until we are purified, which was the meaning of "Hell-Fire" in this Verse in the Holy Qur'an (khoor-rawn):"And when their skins have been worn out by hell-fire We shall give them new skins in order that they may continue to feel the punishment." (4:56)This means many mortal lives on many material planets (one mortal life per planet) for human souls who are not purified. Purified (i.e. "born again") human souls become "angelic souls" (Mawl-law-koot) or "Lordly souls" (jaw-bar-root) or even "Divine Souls" (law-hoot) Who are the Names and Attributes of ALLAH.
He taught that the physical body, made of dust, returns to dust. What comes out of the grave at resurrection is not the physical body but the ethereal body, which belongs to the Unseen World and can only be seen in visions. He prophesied (praw-fess-side) that the Imaam Mehdi would "return" in the year 1260 A.H. (1000 lunar years from 260 A.H. when the young Imaam Mehdi fell down the well near Qom). That would be 1844 A.D. Shaykh Ahmad taught many other doctrines which the orthodox Shi'ites considered "heresy" and even "blashphemy". He had to flee many times to escape death. He wrote many books. He died in 1826. After his death, his disciples buried him in Medina next to the grave of the Prophet Muhammad. They founded the Shaykhi (shey-khee) school of Shi'ite Islaam, which still exists to this day.
In 1844 A.D. (1000 lunar years from the "disappearance" of the Imaam Mehdi), Siyyid Muhammad Ali al-Báb Shirazi, a merchant in Shiraz (sheer-rawz) Iran, claimed He was the "return" of the Imaam Mehdi; the young boy who fell down a well near Qom, Iran, in the Muslim year 260 A.H. (874 A.D.). The Báb declared He was "the return" of the Imaam Mehdi; who fell down the well 1000 lunar years before. The Shi'ite Muslims believed that the Imaam Mehdi (ee-mom medh-dee) would return of the same boy who fell down the well. He would return as a mature man, but not a different person. But the followers of Shaykh Ahmad believed that the RUH (spirit) and NAFS (soul) of the Imaam Mehdi would return as two different individuals.
The Báb wrote a number of books and epistles, and performed a number of miracles. He made about 40,000 converts, but the orthodox Shi'ite clergy hated Him and thought Him an imposture; because they believed that there is no "return" of the souls or spirits of the Prophets and Chosen Ones, and that the "return" of the Imaam Mehdi would be the same boy who fell down the well, but he would return as a mature man.
The Báb told His disciples, who were called the Bábís (baw-beezz) that One Greater than Himself would come after Him, Whom He called "He Whom God Will Make Manifest". The Báb said that He would be known by the letters "B" (bah) and "H" (hah).
In 1850, two Bábí teenagers whose parents had been killed on orders of the Shah (King) of Iran (ee-rhawn) then attempted to assassinate him, but their pistols carried only bird-shot. The slightly-wounded Shah was infuriated, and called for the extermination of all Bábís. The Báb and a young disciple named Ânís ("aw-niece") were arrested and imprisoned together at the Army Barracks in Tabriz (taw-breeze), Iran. He was declared a blasphemer and heretic and was sentenced to a firing-squad at the barracks. He and Ânís (aw-niece) were suspended in front of a barracks by ropes. Before their death a miracle occurred.
The Mollahs (Muslims clerics) did not want a Muslim regiment to execute The Báb; because one of the sayings of the Imams (successors of Muhammad) said that Muslims would kill the Imam Mahdi. The Báb claimed to be the Imam Mahdi. The Muslim clerics did not want The Bábis claiming that The Báb's death fulfilled Shi'ite Muslim prophecy. So, they persuaded the representatives of the Shah to ask for a Christian regiment to execute The Báb (at that time the Persian empire included most of Armenia, which was Christian). A Christian Armenian regiment stationed in Tabriz was brought in for the execution: 750 rifles. If they refused to kill the condemned men, they could be sorely punished.
The Báb and His companion Ânís were bound with ropes and suspended from a ledge. Thousands of people looked on. The command was given and the Christian Armenian regiment fired their 750 rifles at The Báb and His companion. When the smoke cleared (this was before smokeless powder) The Báb was gone. Only Ânís (aw-niece) was standing there alone and unharmed against the barracks wall. Next to the feet of Ânís were charred pieces of ropes; which had burn marks of having been severed by the bullets! The crowd thought it a miracle and started to shoud "Allah'u'Akbar! Allah'u'Akbar! A miracle! A miracle!", but the white-turbanned Mollahs (Shi'ite Muslim clerics) convinced the crowd that the 750 riflemen had purposely missed their mark and purposely aimed at the ropes! And the common people believed whatever the Mollahs told them. They believed these men were the closest men to God on earth; God's respresentatives on Earth. If they said "It was no miracle!" then it was no miracle! Period.
The Báb was unharmed. He was found later back in His cell, finishing His last instructions to His disciples. He was taken out again, but the Christian Armenian regiment refused to fire again; thinking that God had shown them a sign. So, a Muslim regiment was brought in, and this time the bullets found their mark. The ancient Muslim prophecy that the Imam Mehdi (the Promised One of Shi'ite Islam) would be killed by Shi'ite Muslims was fulfilled!
The remains of The Báb were later sealed in a air-tight lead coffin, and His remains were later taken to Baghdad, then Turkey, and finally to Mount Carmel in the Holy Land where He was buried. His Holy Shrine exists today on the northern slopes of Mount Carmel.
The Holy Shrine of The Báb (Haifa, Israel)
Afer The Báb was martyred, many of His followers were killed or exiled. Baha'u'llah was imprisoned in the "Black Pit" of Tehran; an underground prison where prisoners sat in pitch blackness most of the day, laying in their own excrement. Baha'u'llah remained in the Black Pit for four months. During that time, He had a vision of the "Maid of Heaven" Who told Him that He was the promised "He Whom God Shall Make Manifest". Some think the Maid of Heaven was Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Others think She was Fatimah, the daughter of Muhammad.
Baha'u'llah was released from the Black Pit and exiled with other followers of The Bab to Baghdad; then part of the Turkish Empire.
In 1863, in Baghdad, Baha'u'llah founded the Baha'i Faith. Baha'u'llah was the Holy Ghost Incarnate (in the flesh). He was greater than the Prophets, because He inspired the Prophets. In 1863, a Muslim mob burned His house; including His wardrobe. Baha'i women had to make a new wardrobe from red Persian drapes. After that, He wore red robes.
In 1868, Baha'u'llah was exiled to the prison city of Akka, Palestine (then part of the Turkish Ottoman Empire). From 1868 until 1890, Baha'u'llah lived in a room whose entrance and windows were covered in white veils. To discourage assissins, one had to know certain "signs and tokens" in order to part the white veil and enter His Presence.
From His white-veiled "celestial room" Baha'u'llah wrote many holy books and epistles: hundreds of books and thousands of epistles. These are among the "Holy Texts" of the Faith; considered infallible by the Believers. Many (perhaps not most) have been translated into English and other major languages. But, the translation process continues.
The apartment of Baha'u'llah in Akka (c. 1890)
In 1890, Baha'u'llah was released from Akka. In the year 1891 He went to Mount Carmel, in Haifa, and, from a Sacred Spot, He recited the Tablet of Carmel; which was His great anouncement to the World:"Call out to Zion, O Carmel! He who was hidden from mortal eyes [behind white veils] has come!" (Baha'u'llah, The Tablet of Carmel)In 1892, Baha'u'llah died. His physical body was buried under a mansion in Bahji, just north of Akka. Today, Bahji (baw-zhee) is the Most Holy Shrine of the Faith; visited by thousands of Baha'i pilgrims each year. According to one account, after His death Baha'u'llah appeared to the Muslim imaam (leader of prayer) in Akka:
"After the death of the Blessed Perfection, one day the chief of the Muhammadan priests of Akka came to our Lord ['Abdu'l-Baha] and said he had seen the door of his room open and the Blessed Perfection came into his room." (Dwight Barlow Collection, note 43-A online)Baha'is do not believe in the resurrection of the physical body. Dust returns to dust. What the Muslim imaam (ee-mom) "saw" was a vision of the ethereal body of Baha'u'llah; Whose physical body was still buried beneath the mansion at Bahji (just north of Akka). Why He appeared to the imaam is not known.
Baha'u'llah was succeeded by His Eldest Son, 'Abdu'l-Baha (awb-dull baw-HAW), Whom Baha'is revere as the Exemplar of the Faith: the "example" of what every follower of Baha'i should be. 'Abdu'l-Baha travelled to Europe and North America in the years 1911-1912, teaching Baha'i Principles. In September of 1912 He visited Salt Lake City, and, wearing the glorious red robe of His Father, knocked on the East Door of the Salt Lake Temple. Needless to say, He was not let in.
Baha'is do not believe 'Abdu'l-Baha was a Prophet, but He was not an ordinary human being either. He had a "unique station" between prophet and human being. That is why Baha'is refer to Him as "Him" and not "him" and "He" and not "he".
Baha'u'llah referred to His Eldest Son as "The Mystery of God" and "The Master" and:"A WORD which God hath adorned with the ornament of His Own Self, and made it Sovereign over the earth and all that is therein." (The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p.135)Many of the early Western Baha'is believed that 'Abdu'l-Baha (ab-dull baw-HAW) was the reincarnation of Jesus Christ. But He rejected the title of "Christ". He sais that His Father was "Christ" returned, not Him. He was simply the Servant of His Father, and took the name-title of 'Abdu'l-Baha (Arabic: "Servant of Glory"). He was quite famous in His day (early 1900s).
'Abdu'l-Baha died in 1921, and was succeeded by His eldest grandson, Shoghi Effendi (shawg-kee ef-fen-dee), who was the "Guardian" of the Faith. Shoghi Effendi (1897-1957) was not a Prophet, but he "may" have been a "Seer" (a non-prophet with prophetic abilities), since he made some amazing prophesies; such as the holocaust and the Internet, years of decades before these become realities.
Shoghi Effendi did once tell Baha'i pilgrims in Haifa that Joseph Smith was a "Seer, not a Prophet minor or otherwise". A "Seer" in Baha'i terminology means an ordinary human being who is NOT a prophet, but one who, nevertheless, possesses prophetic abilities. He purportedly said:"Joseph Smith was a Seer, not a Prophet; neither major nor minor. He had a high standard, but the Baha'is have a higher standard coupled with God's power that comes direct from God for this age." (Shoghi Effendi, Pilgrim notes of Ramona Browne, in Memories of 'Abdu'l-Baha, p.117)But, there is no 'official' Baha'i doctrine regarding Joseph Smith or The Book of Mormon. Baha'is are free to accept, or reject, Joseph Smith as an inspired Seer. They are free to accept, or reject, The Book of Mormon as an inspired book. But, for Baha'is, the Scriptures must be "infallible". Even the title page of The Book of Mormon says that it contains "the mistakes of men" (title page). The Baha'i Scriptures include:
*The Torah (five books) of Moses.
*The Injil (Gospels)
*The Qu'ran (Holy Book of Islaam)
*The Holy Texts (the Writings of The Báb, Baha'u'llah, and 'Abdu'l-Baha)
Only these works are considered the infallible Word of God. Other works may be considered "inspired" (such as the Bhagavad-Gita, teachings of the Buddha, Zoroastrian scriptures, the epistles of Paul, the letters of the apostles, the writings of Luke--the Book of Acts, etc.), but only the Books mentioned above are considered "infallible".
Some Baha'is who were formerly Mormons believe that Joseph Smith was a true Seer who prophesied (praw-fess-side) of Baha'u'llah. This belief is held as personal doctrine. It is NOT official Baha'i doctrine; which is called Accepted Doctrine. Baha'is "may" believe that Joseph Smith was an inspired SEER who prophesied of Baha'u'llah as a "personal belief" as long as they do not try force this personal belief upon others, and DO NOT promulgate this personal doctrine as "accepted doctrine".
Some Mormons who have become Baha'is believe that Joseph Smith was a religious fraud. This is also a personal doctrine which Baha'is can hold; as long as they do not try to force this belief on others, and DO NOT promulgate this "personal doctrine" as "accepted doctrine".
After the death of Shoghi Effendi in 1957, nine "Hands of the Cause" (equivolent to Apostles) called "The Custodians" headed the Faith until 1963, when the first "Universal House of Justice" was elected.
The Universal House of Justice (2009)
The Universal House of Justice is NOT a building, but a council of nine Rijals (Arabic: "distinguished gentlemen") who are elected every five years. The "House" (as it is called) is the Governing Body of the Faith worldwide. These men are not prophets, but simply highly-respected Believers who are very knowledgeable about the Faith.
The Bahá'í Faith today (2010) has over 6 million Members in over 120 countries, and is growing very rapidly in India, Africa, and South America.
The Purpose of the Bahá'í Faith
The Holy Mission of Bahá'u'lláh was to teach Humanity "all things" pertaining to establishing the Kingdom of Christ upon this planet. The Kingdom of Christ is also called "The Millennial Kingdom".
Bahá'ís refer to the Millennial Kingdom as "The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh.
Mormons believe that Jesus Christ will "set-up" His Kingdom when He returns. They believe He will return by descending from a cloud, either over Jerusalem, or over Jackson County, or perhaps over Salt Lake City Utah, or perhaps over all three cities, or perhaps over every city, village, and ship-at-sea on the planet. They believe He will reign from Jerusalem, or perhaps from the City of New Jerusalem; which Mormons believe they will help build in Jackson County Missouri (on the present site of Kansas City).
Bahá'ís believe that "Jesus Christ" refers to two Divine Beings: the "Father" and the "Son". The Father was the Name/Attribute of God known as Al-Quyyoom ("The Self-Existing"). The "Son" was the WORD of God.
The WORD of God is not a Name/Attribute of God, but rather His "Command". ALLÁH said "BE!" and created the Cosmos. This "Be!" incarnated (became flesh) as Jesus of Nazareth (John 1:1-2,14).
The Father has returned as Bahá'u'lláh, the Glory of God. He never set foot in Jerusalem, but was a prisoner in the City of Akka, Palestine, for twenty-four years. In 1891, He climbed to a "Sacred Spot" on Mount Carmel, in Haifa, and, in blood red robes, and make His great announcement.
Bahá'u'lláh referred to His Eldest Son, Abbas Effendi (Who later took the name-title of 'Abdu'l-Baha) as:"A WORD...."'Abdu'l-Bahá (ob-dull baw-HAW) did visit Jerusalem. In 1912 He came to Boston, Massachusetts, and a Syrian Christian women bowed before Him saying:"I confess that in Thee I have recognized the Son of God and Jesus Christ Himself." (God Passes By 19:24)'Abdu'l-Bah&aacuite; visited New York City, Green Acres Maine, Montreal Canada, Chicago, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco.
While in Montreal, 'Abdu'l-Bahá declared that Europe would soon be engulfed in a huge war, like no other before it. He also declared that a huge pestilence was coming. Two years later World War I commenced, and several years after that, the Spanish Flu killed over 50 million people.
Actual front-page of the Montreal Star
While in Salt Lake City He attended the National Irrigation Congress inside the Tabernacle; sitting in the "Prophet's" chair (since He was an honored guest). He visited the Utah State Fair, and also lectured at the Social Hall. One day, wearing the glorious red robe of His Father, He knocked on the East Door of the Salt Lake Temple, but was not being a faithful Mormon, He was not let in. He tried to meet with the then President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Joseph F. Smith (nephew of Joseph the Seer), but He was refused an audience.
The Salt Lake Tribune did a front-page article on Him, including His photo, with the caption "Apostle of Peace Speaks in Salt Lake City". Several dozen Latter-day Saints attended His lecture at Social Hall. A few of them later became Bahá'ís.
In 1857, Brigham Young issued this strange prophecy inside the Taberncale (his only known prophecy):???????Continued (4 of 9)