The Bahá'í Faith teaches that our souls are immortal. We all came from God and we all shall return unto Him.
The Faith accepts the Holy Qu'ran (holy book of Islaam) as divinely-inspired Scripture. The Qu'ran (khoor-raan) depicts the Afterlife thusly....
*The Faithful (believers) shall inherit Gardens of Eden, under which rivers flow, and shall lay on green carpets, and sit upon thrones, sipping nectar and eating delicious fruits; being served by beautiful male and female servants.
*The Infidels (unbelievers) shall burn in Hell-fire, having iron collars around their necks, being dragged by iron chains through fire and boiling water, and having only bitter fruit or boiling or ice-cold water to drink; being afflicted by demons. When Hell-fire wears out one skin, they will be given new skins to continue to feel the punishment.
Bahá'ís interpret the depictions in the Qu'ran as "metaphors" of things we cannot possible imagine. Most Bahá'ís do not "speculate" on what these depictions means; only that the "Good" shall be rewarded, and the "Bad" shall be punished.
Bahá'ís are allowed to hold "Personal Beliefs" (personal opinions and interpretations) on what the Afterlife is like, as long as they don't present these Personal Beliefs as "Accepted Doctrine" (doctrines all Bahá'&iacuite;s must adhere to).
ACCEPTED DOCTRINE: Teachings all Bahá'ís are required to believe.
REJECTED DOCTRINE: Teachings all Bahá'ís are required NOT to believe.
PERSONAL BELIEF: Personal opinions and interpretations that Bahá'ís can hold as long as they don't try to force this personal interpretation upon others.
THE EARTH-IS-HELL VIEW
Some Bahá'ís believe that the depictions of "Hell" in the Quran (khoor-raan) refer to any "mortal" life on a material planet. For example:
*Hell-fire: means the Sun burns and ages our skin until we die.
*Being dragged through boiling water: means human birth where we are dragged through the hot birth-water.
*Iron collars and chains: iron collars refers to opression by evil men, and iron chains to the various "additions" that bind us to the Material Realm (Nawsoot).
*Eating boiling water or ice-cold water: refers to diseases that afflict us.
*Eating bitter fruit: refers to our negative painful experiences in the Material Realm (Nawsoot).
This is called The Earth-is-Hell Theory, and it may be believed as "Personal Belief" by Bahá'ís, but it is not Accepted Doctrine (i.e. what every Bahá'í is required to believe).
In the Qu'ran, there are demons who "punish" by dragging the damned through boiling water, and giving them boiling or ice-cold water to drink, and dragging them about with iron hooks.
The Buddhist depictions of Hell are exactly the same. This is no mere coincidence.
Bahá'u'lláh, in one of His Tablets (Epistles) identified planet Earth as "the Nether World" (i.e. Hell) and "demons" as wicked men and women who live in this world:
"O servants! This nether world is the abode of demons: Guard yourselves from approaching them. By demons is meant those wayward souls who, with the burden of their evil deeds, slumber in the chambers of oblivion. Their sleep is preferable to their wakefulness, and their death is better than their life." (The Tabernacle of Unity 4:7)In other words the "Nether World" (i.e. Hell) is this world (i.e. Nawsoot--the Physical/Material dimension), and "demons" refer to what the Bible calls the "Wicked". The Wicked are:
*Opressors of the poor (capitalists)
*Con-men and con-women
These are the "demons" who force the Damned (dwellers in the Nether World) to eat "bitter fruit" and drink boiling or ice-cold water, and who are dragged through fire every morning. All these are "metaphors" of how the Wicked oppress us in Nawsoot (the Physical/Material realm).
The Demons always seek to "control" the mislead the Unbelievers, and are often quite successful:
Most Demons (wicked) do not have "power" but all of them seek to control and dominate others. The words "megalomaniac" and "socio-path" are simply other names for the Demons; who exist in our "nether world" (Nawsoot).
The slumb-lords are "demons" who seek to make riches off the suffering of others.
The drug-dealers are "demons" who seek to make riches of the suffering of others.
The slave-traders of old (and still today) are the "Demons". They seek to make riches off the oppression of the weak and powerless.
In the Qur'an it says of the Afterlife punishment of those who become Covenant-Breakers:
"The Moojreemoon [Covenant-Breakers] shall be known by their marks [some translations insert here-"black faces"] and they will be seized by their heads and their feet." (55:41)We have seen, on this planet, black races becoming the "slaves" of the white-faces; in India, and in Africa, and in the Americas. Was this merely "accidental" and against the Will of God? Or, was it part of the punishment of God upon the Moojreemoon?
"On the Day when some faces will be white and some faces will be black: To those whose faces will be black, will be said: "Did ye reject Faith after accepting it? Taste then the penalty for rejecting Faith!" But those whose faces will be white, they will be in ALLAH's mercy; therein to dwell." (3:106-107)
In other words, in the Earth-is-Hell View, those who become Covenant-Breakers on one material planet (i.e. Venus), will become literal "slaves" on another material-planet (i.e. Earth). This is God's punishment for those who were Mooj-ree-moon on another planet.
*White-Faces: Those who did not reject Faith after Believing but were never born again.
**Black-Faces: Those who rejected Faith after Believing.
***Yellow or Red or Brown Faces: Those who did not accept Faith.
Those who become "born again" during mortal life will not return to Nawsoot (material/physical realm), but will enter the Kingdom of Heaven (i.e. one of the Spiritual Realms) where there is no pain, no sorrow, no disease, no injustice, no oppression, no ageing, and no death.
The Holy Writings identify four Spiritual Realms:
*The Realm of the Essence of God (Hey-Hoot)
*The Realm of the Names and Attributes of God (Law-Hoot)
*The Realm of the Immortals (Jaw-bawr-root)
*The Realm of the Angels (Maw-law-koot)
The Essence of God (ALLAH) dwells in Hey-Hoot.
The Prophets dwell in Law-hoot.
The Immortals dwell in Jaw-bawr-root
The Angels dwell in Maw-law-koot.
The Earth-is-Hell View would say that our material world is a "punishment" for those who did not become "born again" (i.e. "saved") on another material world previous to this material world, and some are punished more greviously than others. Those with black faces have been punished more severely than others.
Most Bahá'ís would reject this View...seeing it as "racist" and therefore "it can't be true". In other words, racism and opression were never part of the Justice of God, but "accidentals" that God never intended for His children. Most Bahá'ís would interpret the above Verses from the Qu'ran as followings:
*White-Faces: Those with bright smiling faces in the Afterlife because they worked for world peace and race unity and the equality of men and women.
**Black-Faces: Those with sullen and down-cast faces because they did not work for world peace and race unity and the equality of men and women during mortal life.
Most Bahá'ís believe that "Hell" is a metaphor of something we cannot possible understand in this life; so why speculate? Some do speculate, and say that "Hell" is "mere regret" for "not working for world peace, race unity, and the equality of men and women" during this life and it has no further meaning than this.
For those who adhere to the Earth-is-Hell View, the most harsh Divine Punishment was upon those who accepted Faith, then rejected it (the Mooj-ree-moon).
But God is Merciful as well as Just! With every punishment, God provides an "ransom" from that Divine Punishment. The Manifestations of God are the Incarnations of His Names and Attributes. The Essence of God does not Incarnate, but His Names/Attributes do! Bahá'u'lláh came to offer an Atonement for the slaves and oppressed of the world. He wrote:
"The Ancient Beauty hath consented to be bound with chains that mankind may be released from its bondage, and hath accepted to be made a prisoner within this most mighty Stronghold that the whole world may attain unto true liberty. He hath drained to its dregs the cup of sorrow, that all the peoples of the earth may attain unto abiding joy, and be filled with gladness. This is of the mercy of your Lord, the Compassionate, the Most Merciful." (Gleanings pp.99-100)In other words, under the Earth-is-Hell View, slavery was a punishment of God upon those who were Covenant-Breakers on another material world, but God is also Merciful. He came Himself to offer a "ransom" for the oppressed. Bahá'u'lláh suffered for four months in the Siyah Chal ("Black Pit") of Tehran as a atonement for the Oppressed.
Because He was a follower of The Báb (the forerunner of Bahá'u'lláh and a Manifestation of God Himself), Who was considered a heretic (as was Jesus), Bahá'u'lláh was cast into the "Black Pit" of Tehran (capital of Iran) in 1853. A huge chain weiging 200 pounds was cast around Him, and for four months He sat in filth with the other prisoners in pitch blackness. It was there, in 1853, that the Maid of Heaven appeared to Him in in the Siyah Chal ("Black Pit") in 1853. He wrote:
"While engulfed in tribulations, I heard a most wondrous, a most sweet voice, calling above My head. Turning My face, I beheld a Maiden--the embodiment of the remembrance of the name of my Lord--suspended in the air before Me. So rejoiced was she in her very soul that her countenance shone with the ornament of the good-pleasure of God, and her cheeks glowed with the brightness of the all-Merciful. Betwixt earth and heaven she was raising a call which captivated the hearts and minds of men. She was imparting to both My inward and outward being tidings which rejoiced my soul, and the souls of God's honored servants. Pointing with her finger unto My head, she addressed all who are in heaven and all who are on earth, saying: "By God! This is the Best-Beloved of the worlds, and yet ye comprehend not. This is the Beauty of God amongst you, and the power of His sovereignty within you, could ye but understand. This is the Mystery of God and His treasure, the Cause of God and His Glory unto all who are in the kingdoms of Revelation and of creation, if ye be of them that perceive." (God Passes By, p.101)
Who is the Maid of Heaven? Some say Fatimah (the daughter of Muhammad), some say Mary mother of Jesus. Shoghi Effendi identified Her as "the Most Great Spirit" Who appeared to Moses in the Burning Bush and Who appeared to Mary and Muhammad as the Archangel Gabriel (ibid. p.101).
Bahá'ís do not believe that the term "Satan" has two meanings:
1) Literal: it means the main opponent of any Manifestation of God. For example, Judas was called "a devil" by Jesus (John 6:70). That doesn't mean Judas was Satan incarnate. It means that Judas was an "opposer" of Jesus. "Satan" means "enemy" or "opposer".
2) Metaphorical: Satan is a "symbol" of the EGO, or "lower nature" of all men and women. Jesus once refers to Peter as "Satan" (Matthew 16:23) because Peter told Jesus to flee from being arrested. But it was Jesus' plan to be arrested and crucified; so that He could atone for the sins of the world. Whenever we obey our Ego instead of God, we are "Satan". Whenever we speak lies, or in anger, or bear false witness, we ourselves are "Satan" because when our Ego "opposes" our spirit (the "angel" in us), we have become in fact an "adversary" ("satan") to our own higher natures.
Some men and women are totally "ruled" by their Ego (lower nature). We call such people Socio-Paths, but the Bible and Qu'ran calls them "THE WICKED". The Wicked are totally "ruled" by their own egos; which is why they are evil. For the ego is the "devil" in us all who whispers to us "Ye shall be as the gods" if we simply ignore the Will of God and obey our own will. This is the meaning that Satan is ruler of Hell--i.e the ego (satan) rules the wicked (demons), and wicked always seek to control the Unbelievers (us).
In my personal opinion, are here in Nawsoot (material/physical realm) because we were Unbelievers on the last material planet we had a mortal life on. At one time, when the Sun was smaller and cooler, Venus was like the Earth. One day, when the Sun grows and expands, the Earth will be like Venus and perhaps Mars will be like the Earth is today.
The common belief among Christians, that Satan/The Devil/Lucifer is a former angel of God who now rules Hell, comes from Greek mythology, and is based upon Pluto the ruler of Hades. The term "Lucifer" in the Bible refers to the Canaanite god "Hey-Leyl" (Venus). The Prophet Ezekiel compares the King of Tyre to "Hay-Leyl"--the arrogant Canaanite god who tried to sit upon the Throne of EL (the Most High God) but was cast out of heaven. This Canaanite myth was an explanation of why Venus appears in the dawn, but seems to be "cast out of heaven" (disappears) when the Sun rises.
Lucifer (Hey-Leyl) has no more existence than any of the other Canaanite gods or goddesses. Ezekiel was saying:
"O King of Tyre (a Canaanite city), you are like Hey-Leyl, you sought to sit upon the Throne of the Most High, but were cast out!"Ezekiel was saying: "Because you thought yourself as a god, you were humbled". That is all.
Lucifer (Hey-Leyl) is the Planet Venus, and is not an intelligent supernatural being.
Satan does "whisper" to us to commit sin; which is opposing the Will of God. But "Satan" is our own Ego, and not any supernatural being outside of our own lower nature.
Within every man and women there is a Higher Nature (Spirit/Angel) and a Lower Nature (Ego/Soul) constantly at war; each whispering to us every moment or every day. But these are not independent beings outside of us. They "are" us. Our Angel is our own Spirit, and our Devil is our own Soul.
In the Gospels we read that Jesus was "templed by the Devil" for forty days and nights in the Wilderness. This refers to His own "Lower Nature" and not to some outside supernatural being.
The Qur'an (khoor-rawn), the Holy Book of Islaam, describes "Paradise" as Gardens of Eden with green trees, delicious fruit, and many rivers. There, beautiful female servants (Hooreez) and male servants (Ghoolaamz) serve the Mo'men (Faithful); who recline upon thrones, or sit on green carpets, sipping delicious nectar and eating delicious fruits; in pleasant conversation with their children and other relatives who were also Mo'men (Faithful). There is nothing in the Qu'ran about martyrs being given "72 Virgins". That is based upon questionable "sayings" of the Prophet Muhammad which He may, or may not, have said.
Bahá'ís interpret these depictions of Paradise in the Qur'an as "metaphors" of things we cannot yet understand; just as a child in the womb cannot comprehend our world until it experiences our world.
'Abdu'l-Bahá (ob-dull baw-HAW), the Son of Bahá'u'lláh, and a Chosen One, once had a night-vision of a Bahá'í who had died named Mollah Ali-Akbar. 'Abdu'l-Bahá saw that Mollah Ali-Akbar was fatter in Paradise then he was on Earth. 'Abdu'l-Baha asked Mollah Ali-Akbar why he was fatter in Paradise, and he told Him that the food and drink were much better in Paradise than in our realm. (Memorials of the Faithful, pages 9-12)
A Bahá'í named Va'fa once asked Bahá'u'lláh if the Quranic descriptions of Paradise were "a reality" (literal) or a mere metaphor of things we cannot comprehend.. Bahá'u'lláh replied:
'As to Paradise: It is a reality and there is no doubt about it, and now in this world it is realized through love of Me and My good-pleasure. Whosoever attaineth unto it God will aid him in this world below, and after death He will enable him to gain admittance into Paradise whose vastness is as that of heaven and earth. Therein the Maids of glory and holiness will wait upon him in the daytime and in the night season, while the day-star of the unfading beauty of his Lord will at all times shed its radiance upon him and he will shine so brightly that no one shall bear to gaze at him." (Tables of Bahá'u'lláh Revealed After the Kitab-i-Aqdas, p.189)The Shi'ite Muslims of Iran believed that Paradise consisted of a Garden of Eden where a Mo'men (Faithful Muslim) and his wife or wives and children were served by male and female servants, and where the Hooreez (female servants) were also the man's sexual playthings at night. These servant-females are also called the "Maids of Glory".
In His Tablet to Va'fa, Bahá'u'lláh seemed to confirm that the depictions of Paradise in the Qur'an (including the Maids of Glory who "wait" upon the men in the day and the night season) were "realities" in the Afterlife.
The Mo'men (Faithful) are those who are true Believers. A true Believer is one who truly follows THE WAY as revealed by the Manifestation of God. A person may "claim" to be a true Believer (Mo'men), but, either outwardly or inwardly, they "pick and choose" which doctrines and holy laws to obey, and ignore what they don't like. Only God knows who the true Believers are or not. Only He can read the intents of the heart. Everyone is either a Mo'men (true Believer) or a Mu'naw'feek (Hypocrite).
Only the Faithful (Mo'men) will "go to heaven" at death. All else will go to "The Fire". Bahá'ís don't know what "The Fire" is. They believe it is a "metaphor" of something we can't grasp in this life. Other Bahá'ís believe in the Earth-is-Hell Theory, and that "The Fire" is any mortal life on any material planet where the Sun burns our skin, and where we experience pain, injustice, sorrow, separation of loved ones, disease, accident, ageing, and death.
The Earth-is-Hell View is NOT an "Accepted Doctrine" in the Bahá'í Faith! It is a Personal Belief, and Bahá'ís are allowed to hold personal beliefs and interpretations as long as...
1) They don't present them as "Accepted Doctrine" (official doctrine).
2) They don't try to "force" other Bahá'ís to hold these same Personal Beliefs.
The Earth-is-Hell View simply states that any mortal life on a material planet (i.e. nawsoot) is the meaning of Hell-fire in the Bible and the Qur'an. In other words, if we are not "born again" during this mortal life, at death we travel to another material planet to again experience "The Fire" where the Sun burns and wares out our skin, and we experience pain, sorrow, injustice, disease, ageing, and death; as it says in the Holy Qu'ran:
Bahá'ís may hold The Earth-is-Hell Theory as a Personal Belief.
Along with Prophets, the Faith also teaches the existence of "Seers"; non-prophets who nevertheless have "visions" of angels and the World of Spirits.
One such Seer was Emmanuel Swedenborg. His visions of the Spirit-World reveal the existence of a "Celestial World" that resembles very closely our own world; but with no death, no aging, no pain, and no disease. But, people had homes, gardens, places of worship, places of learning, and the highest caste among them even married and experienced "conjugial love" (sex). Swedenborg reveals that there are "Three Heavens"; the abode of God, the abode of "Celestial Angels" and the abode of "Spiritual Angels. The Celestial Angels are married and can experience "conjugial love" (sex) while the Spiritual Angels can "love" each other, but not conjugially. This corresponds to the Spiritual Realms:
Heyhoot: Realm of the Essence of God
Lawhoot: Realm of the Names/Attributes of God
Jawbawroot: Realm of the Immortals (Celestial Angels)
Mawlawkoot: Realm of the Angels (Spiritual Angels)
An American medical doctor named Andrew Jackson Davis (1826-1910) claimed to be able to visit the Spirit-World, and there he saw seven dimensions; the highest he called "Summerland" which corresponded perfectly to Swedenborg's "Celestial World".
But, again, Bahá'ís are not bound (required) to accept by anything written or seen by Seers.
The Faith teaches there is no reincarnation on this material planet for "human" souls! Human souls have only one mortal life on this planet. However, the Faith also teaches...
*We can transform our human soul into an angelic soul by being "born again".
*The Prophets and Chosen Ones do not have human souls, but Divine Souls.
The Forerunner of Bahá'u'lláh was called "The Báb" (The Gate). He claimed He was the "return" of the Imaam Mehdi; the last rightful successor of the Prophet Muhammad who "disappeared" as a young boy playing near an abandoned well in Iraq about 847 A.D. The Báb proclaimed that His first disciple, Mollah Hussein Bushru'i, was the "return" of the Prophet Muhammad. The Báb once a follower of the Shaykyi (shay-khee) sect of Sh'ite Islaam, which taught that the spirits and souls of the Prophets and Chosen Ones "return" in every Dispensation. The RUH (spirit) of a Prophet returns as a Prophet, but the NAFS (soul/individuality) of a Prophet returns as a "Chosen One"; a non-prophet who has a super-human spiritual station.
A human soul doesn't return to this planet but goes "far away" from this planet. Some Bahá'ís (those who adhere to the Earth-is-Hell View) believe that the soul goes on to another material planet, but this is not Accepted Doctrine but Personal Belief.
Bahá'ís CANNOT believe that human souls may have more than one lifetime on this material planet. There is no reincarnation for human souls back to this material planet. However, the Prophets and Chosen Ones do not have human souls, but Divine Souls. They "return" in every Dispensation.