Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Bab - His first declaration

The Bahais consider Ali Mohammed Shirazi, the Bab to be the return of the 12th Imam. They place of lot of importance, and rightfully so, to the first declaration of the Bab. While there are many reports while talk about the declaration, most recent reports have focused on the date of the declaration, while opposed to the actual declaration made by the Bab. I have based this article on the reports which appear in Dawn Breakers, Nabils' Narrative translated by Shoghi Effendi and Traveller's Narrative by E. G Browne.

Shoghi narrates that on the 5th of Jamadiul Awwal 1260 AH, Mulla Hussain Bushrui met Ali Mohammed Shirazi, the Bab and was in his presence at sundown.

It was about an hour after sunset when my youthful host (The Bab) began to converse with me. "Whom, after Sayyed Kazim," he asked me, "do you regard as his successor and your leader?" "At the hour of his death," I replied, "our departed teacher insistently exhorted us to forsake our homes, to scatter far and wide, in quest of the promised Beloved. I have, accordingly, journeyed to Persia, have arisen to accomplish his will, and am still engaged in my quest." "Has your teacher," He further enquired, "given you any detailed indications as to the distinguishing features of the promised One?" "Yes," I replied, "He is of a pure lineage, is of illustrious descent, and of the seed of Fatimih. As to His age, he is more than twenty and less than thirty. He is endowed with innate knowledge. He is of medium height, abstains from smoking, and is free from bodily deficiency." he paused for a while and then with vibrant voice declared: "Behold, all these signs are manifest in Me!"
(Ref: Dawn Breakers, Chapter 3, page 57)

Thereafter Shoghi writes that Mulla Hussain witnessed the narration of the exegesis on the Surah of Joseph from the Quran. The initial exegesis - the Chapter of Mulk was revealed before Mulla Hussain.

He then proceeded to say: "Now is the time to reveal the commentary on the Surih of Joseph." He took up His pen and with incredible rapidity revealed the entire Surih of Mulk, the first chapter of His commentary on the Surih of Joseph.
(Dawn Breakers, Chapter 3, page 61)

Friday, December 8, 2006

The Independent Investigation of Truth

What is Bahai Faith?

Who is Bab?

Who is Baha'ullah?

and . . . . . . .

"Baha'u'llah emphasizes the fundamental obligation of human beings to acquire knowledge with their "own eyes and not through the eyes of others."

"If only men would search out truth, they would find themselves united."


" The fact that we imagine ourselves to be right and everybody else wrong is the greatest of all obstacles in the path towards unity"


The Bab - His life, times and claims

Bab was the forerunner of the Bahai Faith - and nothing could be closer to the truth than this. For it is only the appearance of the Bab which paved the way for Bahaullah and his claims

Who is Bab?

Is He the gate to the hidden Imam Mahdi?

Or Imam Mahdi himself?

Or a new Prophet?

Or God incarnate Himself.

"Bahais believe that the Bab (1819-1850) was an independent Messenger of God, whose mission was to inaugurate a new cycle in humanity's spiritual development. His writings prepared the way for the mission of Bahaullah." (Ref: Official Bahai version on the position of the Bab)

"Bab was the gate to the hidden Imam Sahibuz Zaman, rather a rank which excelled Sahibuz Zaman, the Qaem awaited by Shiahs, the Mahdi awaited by the Sunnis, the perfection of Moses, the radiance of Jesus and the patience of Job (Hazrat Ayyub)." (Ref: God Passes By, Shoghi Effendi. One may read the article on God Passes By for the respective page numbers)

Bahaullah affirmed that the Bab was "the Herald of His Name and the Harbinger of His Great Revelation which hath caused...the splendor of His light to shine forth above the horizon of the world." The Bab's appearance marked the end of the "Prophetic Cycle" of religious history, and ushered in the "Cycle of Fulfillment." (Ref: Tablets of Bahaullah, p. 102)

The Bahai writings attest that "the greatness of the Bab consists primarily, not in His being the divinely-appointed Forerunner of so transcendent a Revelation, but rather in His having been invested with the powers inherent in the inaugurator of a separate religious Dispensation, and in His wielding, to a degree unrivaled by the Messengers gone before Him, the scepter of independent Prophethood. (Ref: The World Order of Bahaullah, p. 123)

Abdul Baha says, "The Bab, the Exalted One, is the Morn of Truth, the splendor of Whose light shineth throughout all regions. He is also the Harbinger of the Most Great Light, the Abha Luminary (Bahaullah)." (Ref: The World Order of Bahaullah, p. 127)

Strong words indeed. But not surprising considering that all these come from Bahai sources. However they only add to the confusion that is the Bab.

Was he the door (Bab, Arabic) to the hidden Imam?

Was he the hidden Imam?

Which cycle was completed by his advent?

Was he an independent prophet?

Or simply none of the above?

Was the Bab unlettered?

The hallmark of prophets divinely appointed prophets and messengers is that they were taught directly in the divine school - they did not have any human teacher who taught them the nuances of knowledge or introduced worldly sciences to them. This is a defining characteristic of true prophets and messengers.

" The Bab invited him to enter, permitted him to hear the verses which He was revealing, but refused to disclose His identity. In the concluding passages of the Tablet which He was addressing to Haji Mirza Jani, He prayed in his behalf, supplicated the Almighty to illumine his heart with the light of Divine knowledge, and to unloose his tongue for the service and proclamation of His Cause. Unschooled and unlettered though he was, Haji Mirza Jani was able, by virtue of this prayer, to impress with his speech . . ."

The Dawnbreakers,P.220-221

Abdul Baha too acknowledges this fact. He writes, "It is incumbent on every prophet that he gains knowledge from Allah alone and not from any human being and such is the practice of all prophets like Prophet Ibrahim, Hazrat Mohammed, Hazrat Bab and Bahaullah. All of them did not study in any school because the one who owes his knowledge to human schools cannot be a divine representative." (Ref: Khutubat-e-Buzurg, page 8)

But The other historians and Bab himself hold that He studied and had a teacher:

"After deep search into the truth of this matter we have found evidence to show that in childhood for a short time he used to go to the house of Shaykh Muhammad (also known as Abid) where he was taught to read and write in Persian. It was this to which the Bab referred when he wrote in the book of Bayan: `O Muhammad, O my teacher! ..."

( Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era: Ch. 2 P. 13 footnotes)

We have the Bab himself who acknowledges the contribution of his teacher. He writes," Thus wrote my leader (Sayyidi), my firm support (Mutammadi) and my teacher (Muallimi), al-Hajji Sayyed Kazim Rashty may God extend his specified eternality"... (Ref: Risala fil-Suluk, Bab)

Mirza Ali Muhammad was in the ordinary course of things sent to school, but he seems not to have remained there long. His removal thence may have been occasioned by the cruelty of his teacher, at whose hands he seems to have suffered much. (Ref: Babism, By Edward G. Browne, page 335. This is the chapter from the book Religious Systems of the World: A Contribution to the Study of Comparative Religion (London: Swann Sonnenschein), pp. 333-53. The book was first published in 1889; this was written for a later edition in 1890 [and published again in 1901)