Baha'i studies

The Names of the Bahá’í Months: Separating Fact from Fiction

Dr. Moojan Momen

In one of the forums for the course on The Writings of the Báb, a student asked this question: “If Nineteen Day Feasts are named after attributes of God how can “Questions” be an attribute?” Faculty member Dr. Moojan Momen, answered with a lesson about historical Iran and Shí’í Islam:

The key to answering the question, Dr. Momen said, lies in the first part of the question: “If Nineteen Day Feasts are named after attributes of God.”

Who says that the Nineteen Day Feasts are named after attributes of God? The names of the months of the Badí` calendar (the Bábí/Bahá’í calendar) were taken from a Shí’í dawn prayer (Du`á Sahar) for the month of the Islamic Fast (Ramadán) revealed by the Fifth Shí’í Imám, Muhammad al-Báqir, who urged his followers to recite the prayer because,

if people knew the greatness (‘azamat) of this supplication before God, the speed with which it would [enable the devotee to] be answered, they would certainly kill each other with swords in order to obtain it. And if I took an oath that the ism Allāh al-a`am (Most Great Name of God) is in this prayer, I would be stating the truth. Thus, when you recite this supplication, recite it with all concentration and humility and keep it hidden from other than his people [i.e. non-Shí’ís]. (All translations are by Stephen N. Lambden and may be found in

Full story...

The One True Church: Christian Authority and the Baha'i Faith

{josquote}Theologically, the Faith uses Eastern Orthodox language over that articulated in the Latin and Post-Latin West, which makes sense, given its Eastern origin.{/josquote}

“And if all it be so that the Greeks be Christian yet they vary from our faith. For they say that the Holy Ghost comes not out of the son but only of the father, and they are not bound to the Church of Rome nor to the pope. And they say that their patriarch has as much power beyond the Greek sea as our pope has on this side. And therefore the pope John the XXII sent letters to them showing them how that the Christian faith should be all one and that all Christian men should be obeyant to the pope as Christ’s Vicar in Earth to whom God gave full power for to bind and to loosen, and therefore they should be obedient to him. “ – Sir Mandeville’s Travels, c. 1360-1370

When I used to attend a Church of Christ with my mom and a Baptist church with my friend, I was always offered a bread-and-grape-juice communion. At the Baptist church this was only on the first Sundays of the month, while at the Church of Christ it was every Sunday. Both congregations consumed communion in unison after a period of silent reflection. When my friend and I were talking with our Catholic friend, he was shocked that we were able to take communion so openly and without any catechetical education.

Full story...

Stephen Lambden's review of "Gate of the heart"

Gate of the Heart: Understanding the Writings of the Báb (Bahá'í Studies Series, vol. 1)
Author: Nader Saiedi
Publisher: Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier Press, 2008, 423 pp.
Review by: Stephen Lambden

{amazon id='1554580560'}

Since the Victorian era of the great Western Islamicists and Orientalists, very few modern academics have been bold enough to write about the life and writings of Sayyid 'Ali Muhammad Shirazi (1819-50 C.E.), the early Qajar-era, Persian-born, messianic claimant widely known as the Bab or 'Gate' (primarily to the occulted twelfth Imam). Even fewer have attempted to translate his numerous, notoriously complex Arabic and Persian writings, the knowledge of which is indispensable to a proper comprehension of the short-lived religion that he founded in 1260/1844. The Bab was executed by a firing squad in Tabriz in 1850, but within a few years his post-Islamic religion was resurrected in a new form by Mirza Husayn 'Ali Nuri (1817-92), the founder of the now globally diffused Bahá'í religion.

Aside from the Persian Bayan and a few other writings, the corpus of the Bab for the most part remains unedited, unpublished, unstudied, and little understood. As early as 1865, with the aid of Persian assistants, the French writer and diplomat Joseph A. Comte de Gobineau (d. 1888) managed to produce a tolerable (yet wrongly titled) French translation of the Arabic Bayan of the Bab, the "Ketab al-Hukkam" [sic]. Forty years later, another sympathetic French consular official and Persianist, Louise (A. L. M.) Nicholas (d. 1939), translated the same work along with its longer Persian counterpart and a few other writings of the Bab. The great Cambridge scholar Edward G. Browne (d. 1926) wrote much about Babi history, bibliography, and factionalism, but translated and analyzed only a few items of his challenging literary output.

Full story...

DGLnotes — Scholarship on Middle Eastern history, culture, and identity

D Gershon Lewental has an interest in:

  • The Development of the Bahāʾī faith in Israel and its relations with British and Israeli authorities, 1917–present.
  • The Death of the ‘beloved son’: Mīrzā Mehdī and Abrahamic themes in Bahāʾī religious history.

Full story...

Eleven essentials: the Bahai principles as taught by Abdu’l-Baha in London

{josquote}There’s an almost identical text, again with the separation of church and state as the ninth principle, in Paris Talks (not a reliable source).{/josquote}

Towards the end of his life, Baha’u'llah wrote a number of works that included numbered lists of his teachings. Abdu’l-Baha also wrote several letters that include such numbered lists of essential teachings. Not surprisingly, Abdu’l-Baha sometimes adopted the same format when speaking to gatherings, however the records of these in English are often unreliable. One of these talks – one for which there are authenticated Persian notes (here), not just notes taken in English, caught my attention because it includes “the separation of religion and politics” as a key principle and also refers to this as “not entering into politics” — a formulation that will be more familiar to Bahais.

Full story...