BAHAI FAITH or BAHAISM, a religion founded in the nineteenth century by the Iranian notable Baha@÷-Alla@h (q.v.; commonly Baha‚÷ulla‚h or Baha@÷ulla@h in Western works) that grew out of the Iranian messianic movement of Babism (q.v.) and developed into a world religion with internationalist and pacifist emphases.
i. The faith.
ii. Bahai calendar and festivals.
iii. Bahai and Babi schisms.
iv. The Bahai communities.
v. The Bahai community in Iran.
vi. The Bahai community of Ashkhabad.
vii. Bahai persecutions.
viii. Bahai shrines.
ix. Bahai temples.
x. Bahai schools.
xi. Bahai conventions.
xii. Bahai literature.
i. The Faith
History. Bahaism as a religion had as its background two earlier and much different movements in nineteenth-century Shi¿ite Shaikhism (following Shaikh Ahámad Ahása@÷^ [q.v.]) and Babism. Shaikhism centered on theosophical doctrines and believed that a perfect Shi¿ite existed on earth at all times, and many Shaikhis (as well as other Shi¿ites) expected the return of the hidden Twelfth Imam in 1260/1844. Shaikhis in particular joined the messianic Babi movement of the 1840s, which shook Iran as Sayyed ¿Al^-Moháammad ˆ^ra@z^ proclaimed himself, first the ba@b or “gate” of the Twelfth Imam, and then the return of the imam himself. As the new creed spread, violence broke out between Shi¿ites and Babis, ending when Qajar government troops intervened to besiege and massacre the Babis. The government executed the Ba@b in 1850. Some Babi leaders in Tehran plotted, in revenge, the death of Na@sáer-al-D^n Shah, but the assassination failed and large numbers of suspected Babis were tortured and killed.
An Iranian notable and important Babi figure, M^rza@ H®osayn-¿Al^ Nu@r^, “Baha@÷-Alla@h” was imprisoned but found innocent after the attempted assassination. He was exiled to Iraq, in the Ottoman empire, then to Istanbul and Edirne in Turkey. He was accompanied by his younger half-brother, M^rza@ Yaháya@ Sáobhá-e Azal, whom the Ba@b appears to have pointed to in 1850 as leader of the Babi community. The Ba@b had also spoken of the advent of another messianic figure, “he whom God shall make manifest (man yozáheroh Alla@h),” and in 1863 in the garden of Necip Pa¶a in Baghdad Baha@÷-Alla@h informed a handful of close followers that he was the messianic figure promised by the Ba@b (Osta@d Moháammad-¿Al^ Salma@n^, K¨a@táera@t, ms., International Baha@÷i Archives, Haifa; Eng tr. M. Gail, My Memories of Baha@'u'lla@h, Los Angeles, 1982, p. 22). While in Edirne (1863-68) Baha@÷-Alla@h wrote letters to Babi followers in Iran openly proclaiming himself to be the spiritual “return” (raj¿a) of the Ba@b. During the Edirne period relations between Baha@÷-Alla@h and Sáobhá-e Azal became increasingly strained, and in 1867 Baha@÷-Alla@h sent his younger brother a missive demanding his obedience to the new revelation, which Azal rejected. Babis in Iran were then forced to choose between Baha@÷-Alla@h and Azal. The vast majority accepted the assertions in Baha@÷-Alla@h's writings that he was a manifestation of God (mazáhar-e ela@h^) bearing a new revelation, rejecting Azal's form of Babism. Although the Bahais date the inception of their religion from Baha@÷-Alla@h's 1863 private declaration in Baghdad, the Bahai community only gradually came into being in the late 1860s, and most Babis did not become Bahais in earnest until after 1867, though many may have been partisans of Baha@÷-Alla@h earlier (Baha@÷-Alla@h, “Su@rat damm,” AÚt¯a@r-e qalam-e a¿la@ IV, Tehran, 125 Bad^¿/1968, pp. 1-15; “Lawhá-e Nasá^r,” Majmu@¿a-ye matábu@¿a-ye alwa@há, Cairo, 1920, pp. 166-202; Salma@n^, K¨a@táera@t, tr. pp. 42-48, 93-105).
In 1868 Baha@÷-Alla@h and some close followers were exiled to ¿Akka@, in Palestine, by the Ottomans, and Azal and his partisans were sent to Cyprus. The vast majority of Babis lived in Iran, and Baha@÷-Alla@h found ways to continue to send epistles and tablets (sing. lawhá) to them. In 1873, while under house arrest in the old city of ¿Akka@, Baha@÷-Alla@h, in response to requests by the Bahai community in Iran for a new book of laws to accompany his new revelation, set down the Aqdas (al-Keta@b al-aqdas, Keta@b-e aqdas “Most holy Book” [q.v.]), meant to supersede the Koran and the Ba@b's book of laws, the Baya@n.
One of the problems facing the Babis in the 1850s and 1860s was that of religious authority. With the execution of the Ba@b and the massacre of many prominent Babi disciples, the original leadership of the religion was mown down. Regional sects developed within Babism, with local claimants to high station competing for allegiance. Azal, who followed a policy of keeping himself incognito, provided little effective leadership. Baha@÷-Alla@h won out partially because he solved these problems of legitimacy and organization. The Aqdas prescribes that in every locality a Bahai steering committee (termed bayt al-¿adl “house of justice” [q.v.] ) should be set up to administer the affairs of the religion. In addition, Baha@÷-Alla@h provided active leadership through his letters from exile, and through his close companions (called moballeg@^n “teachers”) who were sent back to Iran to implement his policies (al-Keta@b al-aqdas, Bombay, n.d., pp. 30-31; ¿Abd-al-Baha@÷, Tadòkerat al-wafa@÷, Haifa, 1924; Ka@záem Samandar^, Ta@r^kò-e Samandar wa molháaqa@t, Tehran, 131 Bad^¿/1974; M^rza@ H®aydar-¿Al^ Esáfaha@n^, Bahájat al-sáodu@r, Bombay, 1913).
After 1873 the Bahais in Iran began to organize themselves in accordance with the Aqdas and gradually began to follow its laws. For example, because of that book's emphasis on the education of children of both sexes, informal Bahai schools were set up. The Christian missionary Bruce noted in 1874 in Isfahan the rapid increase in Bahais (letter of Reverend Bruce, 19 November 1874, in M. Momen, ed., The Ba‚bí and Baha‚'í Religions, 1844-1944: Some Contemporary Western Accounts, Oxford, 1981, p. 244). J. D. Rees of the Indian civil service found in 1885 evidence of substantial Bahai followings among the merchant class in Qazv^n, and among townsmen in Hamada@n, AÚba@da, and MaÞhad (J. Rees, “The Bab and Babism,” Nineteenth Century 40, 1896, pp. 56-66, quoted in Momen, Ba@bí and Baha‚'í Religions, p. 245). The government and the Shi¿ite ¿olama@÷ carried out periodic persecution of the new religion, as in Isfahan in 1874 and 1880, in Tehran in 1882-83, and Yazd in 1891 (see missionary and consular reports in Momen, Ba‚bí and Baha‚'í Religions, pp. 251-305). Bahaism spread in this period, not only among Iranian Shi¿ites but also among the Zoroastrians in Yazd and Jews in Ka@Þa@n and Hamada@n (see the letters to the Zoroastrians by M^rza@ Abu÷l-Fazμl Golpa@yega@n^ (q.v.) in his Rasa@÷el wa raqa@÷em, ed. R. Mehra@bkòa@n^, Tehran, 1978, pp. 463-511). Internationally, Bahaism spread from the late 1860s to 1892 in Iraq, Turkey, Ottoman Syria, Egypt, Sudan, the Caucasus, Turkish Central Asia, India, and Burma.
Baha@÷-Alla@h appointed his eldest son ¿Abba@s Effendi ¿Abd-al-Baha@÷ (q.v.) to head up Bahaism after him. ¿Abd-al-Baha@÷ assumed the leadership of the religion in 1892 upon his father's death, and was accepted by almost all Bahais as the perfect exemplar of his father's teachings. Some of his younger half-brothers, led by Moháammad-¿Al^, joined a handful of Bahai “teachers” in opposing ¿Abd-al-Baha@÷'s authority, but this small group eventually died out. From 1892 to 1921, under ¿Abd-al-Baha@÷'s leadership, Bahaism spread to Tunisia, Arabia, North America, Europe, China, Japan, South Africa, Brazil, and Australia, as well as making further progress in countries where it had earlier been established, such as India. The well-organized Bahai community of the United States was particularly active in spreading the religion, and was encouraged to do so by ¿Abd-al-Baha@÷ in such of his writings as the Alwa@há-e tabl^g@^-e Amr^ka@ (in ¿Abd-al-Baha@÷, Maka@t^b III, Cairo, 1921; tr., Unveiling the Divine Plan, New York, 1919). In Iran Bahais continued to be active, and to spread their religion. They faced several waves of major persecutions. The 1896 assassination of Na@sáer-al-D^n Shah by M^rza@ Rezμa@ Kerma@n^ (q.v.), a follower of Sayyed Jama@l-al-D^n “Afg@a@n^” (q.v.), was widely blamed on Babis or Bahais at first. Pogroms against Bahais were undertaken in 1903 in RaÞt, Isfahan, and especially Yazd (Moháammad-T®a@her Malm^r^, Ta@r^kò-e Þohada@÷-e Yazd, Cairo, 1926; diplomatic correspondence in Momen, Ba‚bí and Baha‚'í Religions, pp. 373-404). They were caught in the middle of the Constitutional Revolution of 1905-11. Despite the support for constitutionalism in Baha@÷-Alla@h's writings, Bahai leaders were careful not to take sides too openly, primarily, it seems, in order to avoid provoking their opponents in the opposing camps thus endangering their vulnerable community, but probably also out of concern that their very identification with the cause might undermine it in Iran. Nevertheless, ¿Abd-al-Baha@÷ around 1906 urged Bahais to attempt to elect two aya@d^-e amr Alla@h “Hands of the cause of God” (q.v.) to parliament (copies of ms. letters in the author's possession). He later became disillusioned with the Majles and urged Bahais to dissociate themselves from politics (¿Abd-al-Baha@÷, Resa@la-ye s^a@s^ya, Tehran, 1913), a policy which gradually became frozen into a Bahai principle. Anti-Bahai attacks increased again at times of political unrest, and the early 1920s prelude to Rezμa@ Khan's coup also saw numerous pogroms (diplomatic correspondence in Momen, Ba‚bí and Baha‚'í Religions, pp. 405-52).
¿Abd-al-Baha@÷ further refined the Bahai administrative apparatus, calling for elections of local Houses of Justice or Spiritual Assemblies (maháfel-e ru@háa@n^-e maháall^) by majority vote, and preparing for the election of national Spiritual Assemblies (maháfel-e mell^) and of an international House of Justice (bayt al-¿adl-e bayn al-melal^). Also in his will and testament (Alwa@há-e wasáa@ya@, in ¿Abd-al-H®am^d EÞra@q K¨a@var^, ed., Resa@la-ye ayya@m-e tes¿a, Tehran, 103 Bad^¿/1947, repr. 129 Bad^¿/1973, pp. 456-84; tr. Shoghi Effendi, Will and Testament of ¿Abdu'l-Baha, New York, 1925) he appointed his grandson Shoghi (ˆawq^) Effendi Rabba@n^ (q.v.) leader of Bahaism after him as wal^-e amr Alla@h (Guardian of the cause of god). He stipulated that Shoghi Effendi should appoint the next guardian from among his children or close cousins. Some Bahais, like Ruth White, refused to accept Shoghi Effendi, others, like Ahámad Sohra@b thought him too authoritarian. Only a miniscule number of Bahais, however, followed them, and Shoghi Effendi's vigorous leadership and administrative abilities led to a great expansion in the number of Bahais world-wide. In his first decade of leadership he presided over the election of Bahai national Spiritual Assemblies in the British Isles (1923), Germany (1923), India (1923), Egypt (1924), the United States of America (1925), and Iraq (1931) (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, Wilmette, Ill., 1944, 1970, pp. 323-401; Ruháíyyih [Mary Maxwell] Rabba@n^, The Priceless Pearl, London, 1969).
After 1925 many Iranian Bahais began refusing to be identified by their family's ancestral religion on their passports and other official papers, and Bahai institutions began issuing marriage certificates in accordance with the laws of the Aqdas. In 1927 Bahais convened their first national conference of delegates from the nine provinces of Iran, and planned to begin annual national conventions like those held in the United States. Bahais organized for the establishment of primary schools, the improvement of the status of women, and the propagation of their religion. The secularism of the Rezμa@ Shah government in the late 1920s at first helped the Bahais, who built a Bahai center (háazá^rat al-qods) in Tehran, and began holding public meetings. There, eighty-four of the ninety-five delegates to the national convention gathered to elect the first national Spiritual Assembly in 1934 in accordance with the by-laws translated from those of the national Spiritual Assembly of the United States. Wal^-Alla@h Khan Warqa@ was elected chairman, ¿Al^-Akbar Foru@tan became secretary. National committees were set up for children's education, women's progress, and the establishment of a Bahai house of worship (maÞreq al-adòka@r) on a tract of land near Tehran (“Report Prepared by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha@÷^s of Iran,” The Baha‚÷í World: A Biennial International Record 6, Wilmette, Ill., 1937, repr. 1980, pp. 94-108; “Baha@÷^ Administrative Divisions in Iran,” Baha‚÷í World 7, Wilmette, Ill., 1939, pp. 571-75).
From 1934, however, the Rezμa@ Shah period was not a particularly happy one for the Iranian Bahai community, though violence against them occurred much less frequently because of better security and less influence over affairs by the Shi¿ite ¿olama@÷. Rezμa@ Shah's autocratic rule meant he brooked no independence and uncontrolled activity from any social or religious institutions, including Bahaism. The rise of the Bahai administrative order was perceived as a challenge to this central policy, and therefore all schools belonging to the Bahai community were closed (see bahai schools) throughout Iran. Moreover, his government refused to recognize the validity of Bahai marriage certificates, banned the printing and circulation of Bahai literature, closed some local Bahai centers, confiscated Bahai ballot boxes at district conventions in some localities, forbade Bahais to communicate with their coreligionists outside Iran, dismissed some Bahai government employees, and demoted some Bahais in the military. Elections of the national Spiritual Assembly had to be held by mail (Knatchbull-Hugessen to Simon, no. 554, 15 December 1934, FO 371/17917, quoted in Momen, Ba‚bí and Ba‚ha‚'í Religions, pp. 477-78, sec also pp. 462-81; National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahais of Iran, “Annual Report,” Baha‚÷í World 7, Wilmette, Ill., 1939, pp. 133-45).
The installation of Moháammad Rezμa@ Pahlav^ as shah in the 1940s signaled no change in the legal status of Bahaism. Looser government authority in that decade allowed an increase in major mob attacks on Bahais, such as those at AÚba@da in May of 1944, and at ˆa@hru@d in July-August of 1944. In 1946-50 the national Spiritual Assembly of the Bahais of Iran adopted a six-point plan for spreading Bahaism and for improving the status of women. For the first time, women were elected to Bahai assemblies in Iran (they had served on them in the West much before), and women's adult education and literacy classes were set up (Shiraz Diary, no. 91, 15-31 May 1944, FO 371/40162 in Momen, The Ba‚bí and Baha‚'í Religions, pp. 479-80; “Report from Persia,” ed. and tr. M. Gail, Baha‚÷í World 10, Wilmette, Ill., 1949, pp. 35-48; Horace Holley, “International Survey of Current Baha@÷^ Activities,” Baha‚÷í World 11, Wilmette, Ill., 1951, pp. 34-36).
In 1955, in a move which seems to have done as much for the appeasement of ¿olama@÷ as to divert the attention of the general populace from unpopular policies, including the forging of a US-British-sponsored military alliance (the Baghdad Pact, q.v.), the shah's military destroyed the dome of the Bahai center in Tehran, Ayatollah Behbaha@n^ (a pro-court clergyman, q.v.) sent congratulatory telegrams to the shah and to Ayatollah Boru@jerd^ the chief Shi¿ite clergyman in Qom. The ¿olama@÷ and pro-clerical deputies in the docile parliament took the opportunity to voice support for the complete outlawing of the Bahai faith, the jailing of all avowed Bahais, and the sequestration of all Bahai property. During this campaign some Bahai shops and farms were damaged by mob attacks, and a number of Bahais were assaulted. The government ultimately gave up the move, but the campaign did strengthen the hand of the ¿olama@÷ with the government until the late 1950s (S. Akhavi, Religion and Politics in Contemporary Iran, Albany, N.Y., 1980, pp. 76-87).
In the 1950s Shoghi Effendi appointed a large number of Hands of the Cause, and constituted some of them as an International Bahai Council, in preparation for the election of the Universal House of Justice. In 1953 he launched a global campaign of peaceful proselytizing for Bahaism, the “Ten-year World Crusade (jeha@d),” which sought with some success to spread the religion even to remote areas and islands. Shoghi Effendi did not live to see the end of the project, dying in London in 1957. Because he died childless, and the actions of his eligible relatives had forced him to excommunicate them, he had found it impossible to appoint a Guardian to succeed him. In 1963 the International Bahai Council convened in London a global congress and the first Universal House of Justice was elected. It included five American members, two from Britain, and two Iranians. Almost all Bahais accepted its authority, though a small number followed Hand of the Cause Mason Remey, who declared himself the Guardian despite ¿Abd-al-Baha@÷'s stipulation of descent from Baha@÷-Alla@h. The Remey movement remained tiny. The Universal House of Justice was thereafter elected every five years by members of the world's national Spiritual Assemblies. Its seat, like that of ¿Abd-al-Baha@÷ and Shoghi Effendi Rabba@n^, is in Haifa, now Israel, near the shrines of the Ba@b and Baha@÷-Alla@h. After 1957 Bahaism became a mass movement in some parts of the Third World, in Africa, South Asia, and South America. Some of the first mass conversions occurred in Uganda, India, and Bolivia (P. Haney, “The Institution of the Hands of the Cause;” letters issued by the Hands of the Cause 1957-63; and M. Hofman, “International Survey of Current Baha@÷^ Activities,” in Baha‚÷í World 13, Haifa, 1970, pp. 245-309, 333-94; B. Ashton, “The Most Great Jubilee” and “The Universal House of Justice,” Baha‚÷í World 14, Haifa, 1974, pp. 57-80, 425-43; Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, Wilmette, Ill., 1969; V. Johnson, “An Historical Analysis of Critical Transformations in the Evolution of the Baha@÷^ World Faith,” Ph.D. dissertation, Baylor University, 1974, pp. 330-90).
In the 1960s and early 1970s the lot of Bahais in Iran improved somewhat, though they still continued to labor under many legal and latent social disabilities. In 1964 Iran had 530 local Spiritual Assemblies. In 1975 Bahais feared for their safety when Moháammad-Rezμa@ Shah insisted that all Iranians join his Rasta@kò^z party. The national Spiritual Assembly of the Bahais of Iran informed the shah that although Bahais were law-abiding citizens, they could not join his party, given the non-political nature of Bahaism. In the 1970s Bahais were often watched and harassed by the shah's security apparatus, SAVAK, and the Bahai Publishing Trust in Tehran was forced to offset rather than print books and to limit the number of books it circulated in order to avoid sanctions.
A number of Bahais, such as H®ab^b T¨a@bet, Ho`abr Yazda@n^, and ¿Abd-al-Kar^m Aya@d^, grew extremely rich and powerful under the Pahlav^s, and helped form a general public impression of Bahais as a bourgeois group supportive of the unpopular policies of the regime and close to the shah or the royal family. This rekindled dormant prejudices and provoked anger and resentment towards the Bahai community as a whole but the Babi and Bahai religions were mass movements, encompassing villagers and peasants, artisans and tradesman, and working class people in the large cities, who formed the vast majority of the country's three to four hundred thousand Bahais (P. Smith, “A Note on Ba@b^ and Baha@÷^ Numbers in Iran,” Iranian Studies 15, 2-3, 1984, pp. 295-301) and who had no desire for or interest in siding with unpopular policies and alienating the majority. That these ordinary Bahais were forbidden by their national Spiritual Assembly from joining any political party, and even from voting (unlike their coreligionists in the West, who may vote if they can do so without joining a party) made their political preferences a private matter which, in normal circumstances, should have been viewed as irrelevant to the political process.
Since its inception in 1979, the Islamic Republic of Iran has, despite denials and explanations, demonstrated every intention of destroying the Bahai community altogether. It has gradually and systematically confiscated all Bahai properties and investment companies, fired Bahai civil servants, dissolved all Bahai national and local Spiritual Assemblies, and executed nearly two hundred of the country's most active and prominent Bahais. It has harassed, detained, and persecuted many others on various pretexts, ranging from violation of Islamic laws, to conspiracy with and spying for international Zionism and imperialism. Since the Islamic Republic considers the performance of Bahai marriage ceremonies heretical and illegitimate, local Spiritual Assembly members who performed them have been tried on charges of promoting prostitution. Bahais who went on visitation to shrines in Israel or sent monetary contributions to the Bahai world center in Haifa came under suspicion of supporting Zionism or spying for it, even though the establishment of ¿Akka@ and Haifa as Bahai centers dated from the nineteenth century, long before the founding of Israel. Hundreds of recantations have appeared in newspapers, the circumstances of their procurement being highly suspicious. The parliament has made it illegal for parents to pass Bahaism on to their children, has refused admittance of Bahai children to schools, and denies Bahais ration cards. The government's confiscation of membership records at the National Bahai Center in Tehran allows it to identify Bahais throughout the country (Human Rights Commission of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Switzerland, “Declaration on the State of Religious Minorities in Iran,” World Order 13, no. 4, 1979, pp. 15-20; Amnesty International U.S.A., “Under Penalty of Death: In Iran a Campaign of Terror against Baha@÷is,” Matchbox, October, 1983, p. 11).
Administrative apparatus. Bahai administration evolved gradually, but this overview will discuss current practice. Bahaism possesses no clergy formally trained to administer rituals. Rather, the administration both of religious observances and of community affairs rests with elected officials. At the level of villages, towns, cities, or counties, these officials constitute the local Spiritual Assembly, consisting of nine members elected annually on the eve of April 21 by universal adult suffrage and by secret ballot. Women as well as men serve on the local and national Spiritual Assemblies (Aqdas, pp. 30-31; ¿Abd-al-Baha@÷ in ¿A. EÞra@q K¨a@var^, ed., Ganj^na-ye háodu@d wa aháka@m, New Delhi, 1980, pp. 57-67; Shoghi Effendi, Baha‚÷í Administration, Wilmette, Ill., 1986, pp. 20-24; “The Local Spiritual Assembly,” Baha‚÷í World 14, pp. 511-30).
In addition to their own, usually closed administrative meetings, every nineteen days local Spiritual Assemblies sponsor the Bahai feast (zμ^a@fat) for the entire community, consisting of three parts. In the first part local lay believers read from Bahai writings first, and then often from scriptures of other religions, as well. In the second part community affairs are discussed. Committees of the local Spiritual Assembly and its officers give reports on their activities. Suggestions may be made from the floor for the local Spiritual Assembly to consider at its next meeting. The third part consists of friendly conversation over refreshments. Because the feast partially has the character of a community business meeting, only registered members of Bahaism may attend (Baha@÷-Alla@h, Aqdas, pp. 30-31, 61; ¿Abd-al-Baha@÷, quoted in EÞra@q K¨a@var^, ed., Ganj^na, pp. 156-58; National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha@÷is of the British Isles, comp., Principles of Baha‚÷í Administration, London, 1950, pp. 51-53).
Bahai communities are also apportioned among larger districts for the purpose of electing delegates to an annual national convention. The district conventions, held in the autumn, elect a number of delegates, based on the size of the local Bahai population, and send with them local concerns they want raised at the national convention. The national convention takes place again in April and elects nine members to the national Spiritual Assembly. Campaigning is not allowed at these elections, though discussion of issues is encouraged (Shoghi Effendi, Baha‚÷í Administration, pp. 65, 79, 89, 91). The national Spiritual Assembly, an institution created by ¿Abd-al-Baha@÷ (Baha@÷-Alla@h had spoken only of the local Houses of Justice and of the Universal House of Justice), has the responsibility of administering the affairs of the national Bahai community and of propagating the religion in its country (Shoghi Effendi, Baha‚÷í Administration, passim).
Every five years members of all the Bahai national Spiritual Assemblies in the world send their ballots to or gather at an international convention to elect nine persons to the Universal House of Justice. Of this body Baha@÷-Alla@h wrote, “It is incumbent upon the Trustees of the House of Justice to take counsel together regarding those things which have not outwardly been revealed in the Book, and to enforce that which is agreeable to them” (“Kalema@t-e ferdows^ya,” Majmu@¿a-^ az alwa@há ka ba¿d az Keta@b-e aqdas na@zel Þodand, Hofheim-Langenhain, 1980, p. 37; tr., p. 68; cf. “EÞra@qa@t,” Majmu@¿a-^ az alwa@há, pp. 75-76; tr. pp. 128-29). All these elected institutions make their decisions by majority vote, though unanimity is preferred, after long discussions called consultation (maÞwerat), in which members are urged not to become attached to their own suggestions, but to consider each motion dispassionately.
This administrative structure is complemented by appointed institutions of the “learned” (¿olama@÷ fi÷l-Baha@÷) (Baha@÷-Alla@h, Aqdas, pp. 170-71). The first body of the learned were the Hands of the Cause of God appointed by Baha@÷-Alla@h and by Shoghi Effendi. Since only the Guardian could appoint Hands of the Cause, according to ¿Abd-al-Baha@÷, the lapsing of the institution of the guardianship after 1957 meant that the institution of the Hands also lapsed. The Universal House of Justice has attempted to compensate by creating a new institution of counselors (moÞa@wer^n) who are appointed to five-year terms. They have the functions of protecting Bahaism from internal threats to its integrity such as schism, and of spreading the religion. The counselors appoint, with the consent of the Universal House of Justice, auxiliary board members with either of the specific functions of protection and propagation. The auxiliary board members appoint assistants, again with approval from their superiors. Members of these appointed institutions of the learned have no executive power, and can only advise the elected institutions (“The Institution of the Hands of the Cause,” Baha‚÷í World 14, 459-74; Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance). Since no Bahai seminaries or full-time clerical offices exist, the institutions of the learned are filled by active laymen, often teachers, librarians, or other intellectuals.
Theology. Bahai theology posits several metaphysical levels of reality. The highest of these is the divine realm of unicity (aháad^ya), wherein only God's essence and his essential attributes exist. In this station (maqa@m), God's knowledge is his essence and his essence is his knowledge; God is unmanifest and alone, and completely inconceivable. In the second station God manifests himself by his essence to his essence, bringing into existence the Word of God (kalemat Alla@h) or divine manifestation (záohu@r-e ela@h^). This primal manifestation of God then dawns forth on the world of contingency (emka@n) with all the names and attributes of God, causing the new creation to come into being. Each being can reflect an attribute of God, but only human beings can spiritually advance to the point where they can reflect all the attributes of God. They can do so only with the help of prophets and messengers, called generally manifestations of God (mazáhar-e ela@h^), who perfectly show forth the names and attributes of God in the human realm. Unlike similar Sufi schemas, in the Bahai system metaphysical realms are absolutely separate; Bahai thought rejects the Sufi theory of wahádat al-woju@d or existential monism (¿Abd-al-Baha@÷, “Tafs^r-e konto kanzan makòf^an,” Maka@teb-e ¿Abd-al-Baha@÷ II, Cairo, 1330/1911-12, pp. 2-55; Baha@÷-Alla@h, Majmu@¿a-ye matábu@¿a, pp. 339, 346).
Bahai psychology accepts a basically Aristotelian view of the various types of soul or spirit, positing a vegetative spirit with its faculty of spatial growth, the animal spirit with its sensitive and locomotive faculties, and the immortal human spirit or rational soul (nafs-e na@táeqa), with its faculty of intellectual investigation. But two further spirits are posited. The spirit of faith is a moral and ethical faculty whereby the human soul acquires the perfections of God. Finally, the holy spirit (ru@há al-qods) pertains only to the prophets and messengers, or manifestations of God. Prophets possess all of these spirits, from the bodily ones through the rational soul, and including the holy spirit (¿Abd-al-Baha@÷, al-Nu@r al-abha@ f^ mofa@wazμa@t ¿Abd-al-Baha@÷: goft-o-gu@ bar sar-e na@ha@r, Leiden, 1908, pp. 108-10, 114-17, 154).
The universal intellect (¿aql-e koll) or word of God (kalemat Alla@h), the first, preexistent emanation of God, perceives the universe directly and intuitively. It emanates this knowledge upon the prophets, allowing them to found systems of religious law which are appropriate to the conditions of society. They know the necessary connections that relate all entities in the world, and their laws are aimed at regulating and balancing this world-system. God has been sending manifestations of God, whether prophets or messengers, since the inception of the human race, and will continue to do so in the future. Baha@÷-Alla@h's writings recognized all the Judaic prophets, Zoroaster, Jesus Christ, Moháammad, the Ba@b, and Baha@÷-Alla@h himself as historical manifestations of God, and ¿Abd-al-Baha@÷ recognized such South Asian figures as Krishna and Buddha, as well. The Bahai conception of progressive revelation, which sees successive manifestations of God as having brought increasingly sophisticated religious teachings over time, allows Bahais to incorporate local religious traditions throughout the world into their schema. An essential Bahai teaching is the ultimate unity of all the great prophets and founders of the world religions. Indeed, despite their individuality and differences in station, each manifestation of God can be seen as a “return” (raj¿a) of his predecessors, not in the sense of reincarnation but in that of the return of spiritual attributes (Baha@÷-Alla@h, “Jawa@her al-asra@r,” AÚt¯a@r-e qalam-e a¿la@ III, Tehran, 129 Bad^¿/1972-73, pp. 33-37; Baha@÷-Alla@h, Keta@b-e ^qa@n, Cairo, 1900, pp. 127-29, 147-48; ¿Abd-al-Baha@÷, Mofa@wazμa@t, pp. 119-20, 123-24, 164-66).
Bahai anthropology sees human beings as burdened with the passions of an animal nature, which can be overcome only through special training and effort. The teacher in this enterprise of spiritual education is the manifestation of God. ¿Abd-al-Baha@÷ spoke of three kinds of education. The first is education for the welfare of the body. The second is education for the welfare of human society, including policy, administration, commerce, industry, sciences, and arts. This is an education for civilization and progress. The third is education for a sound character and the acquisition of divine perfections. The educator is perfect in all respects and by his teachings organizes the world, brings nations and religions together, and delivers man from vices (¿Abd-al-Baha@÷, Mofa@wazμa@t, pp. 6-7).
In the Bahai interpretation, human history has been dominated by spiritual cycles (sing. dawr) initiated by the periodic advent of a new prophet. Baha@÷-Alla@h interprets Koranic references to the resurrection day (q^a@ma) and the attainment of the presence of God (leqa@÷ Alla@h; see Koran 29:33, 18:110, 13:2, 2:46, 2:49) as symbolic allusions to the advent of a new manifestation of God (Baha@÷-Alla@h, Keta@b-e ^qa@n, pp. 115-19). ¿Abd-al-Baha@÷ taught that a great cycle in human religious history is characterized by three periods. The first is a series of manifestations of God which prepare for a universal theophany. The second period starts when the universal manifestation of God arrives and begins his dispensation. The third period within the great cycle is that of manifestations of God that succeed the universal manifestation. Although they can reveal new laws and abrogate his ordinances, they remain under his spiritual shadow. Adam (whom Bahais do not consider the first man) began the current cycle, in which the first, preparatory period extended from his time until the Ba@b. Baha@÷-Alla@h was the universal manifestation for this cycle. After no less than a thousand years, further manifestations of God may arise, but their spiritual themes will start from Baha@÷-Alla@h's principles of the political and religious unification of the earth for human welfare (¿Abd-al-Baha@÷, Mofa@wazμa@t, pp. 120-22; Baha@÷-Alla@h, Aqdas, pp. 38-39).
Social principles. Bahaism sees itself as primarily preaching the unity of mankind, and criticizes nationalist chauvinism and jingoism as productive of war. Baha@÷-Alla@h wrote, “The earth is but one country (watáan), and mankind its citizens (ahl-e a@n)” (“Lawhá-e maqsáu@d,” in Majmu@¿a-^ az alwa@há, p. 101; tr. p. 167). To unite the world Bahais advocate the adoption of a universal language, to be chosen by the leaders of the world (“BeÞa@ra@t,” no. 3, “Kalema@t-e ferdows^ya,” no. 8, Majmu@¿a-^ az alwa@há, pp. 11, 37-38). Baha@÷-Alla@h charged the Universal House of Justice with promoting peace among the secular powers to avert exorbitant defense expenditures (“Lawhá-e donya@” in Majmu@¿a-^ az alwa@há, p. 50; tr. p. 89). He urged the establishment of a world assembly of rulers to discuss peace and to prevent wars through collective security (“Lawhá-e maqsáu@d,” in Majmu@¿a-^ az alwa@há, p. 99, tr. p. 165). Baha@÷-Alla@h apparently did not mean this internationalism to detract from loyalty to national governments, since he commanded obedience to government and attempted to make the Babi community less radical (“BeÞa@ra@t,” nos. 4, 5 in Majmu@¿a-^ az alwa@há, pp. 11-12). Baha@÷-Alla@h did not, however, simply approve of the governments in power; despite both Ottoman and Qajar opposition to the principle, he advocated constitutional monarchy on the British model as a means of restraining tyranny (“BeÞa@ra@t,” no. 15, pp. 13-14).
¿Abd-al-Baha@÷ in his journeys to Europe and North America 1910-13 often listed the basic principles of Bahaism. A typical listing is (1) the independent investigation of reality (taháarr^-e háaq^qat, the opposite of taql^d or blind imitation), (2) the unity of mankind, (3) religion must be a source of unity and harmony, otherwise a lack of religion would be preferable, (4) religion and science complement one another, (5) religious, racial, political, and nationalist prejudices are destructive of human society, (6) equal rights for all human beings, (7) greater equality of income distribution (ta¿d^l-e ma¿^Þat) so that none would be needy, (8) world peace through the foundation of an international court of arbitration that would settle disputes, (9) the separation of religion from politics, (10) education and advancement for women, (11) the inculcation of spiritual virtues and ethics to complement material civilization (¿Abd-al-Baha@÷, K¨etáa@ba@t háazμrat ¿Abd-al-Baha@÷ f^ Awrobba@ wa Amr^ka@ I, Cairo, 1921, repr. Karachi, 1980, pp. 30-32). Shoghi Effendi elaborated at length on the Bahai conception of world government in his letters of the 1930s, published as World Order of Baha@÷u÷lla@h (2nd, rev. ed., Wilmette, Ill., 1974).
Laws and ethics. The basic book of laws in Bahaism is the Arabic al-Keta@b al-aqdas, though it is supplemented by a number of other works. Laws of ritual pollution are abolished, and peoples of other religions are decreed ritually pure, unlike the case in Twelver Shi¿ism (Aqdas, pp. 79-81). Believers are commanded to consort with the followers of all religions with amity and concord (p. 144). If someone shows anger to a Bahai and torments him, the Bahai must respond with kindness and lack of opposition (p. 152). Believers are forbidden to carry arms except when necessary (p. 157). The Aqdas makes it incumbent on believers to engage in productive work, interdicting begging (pp. 32-33). It insists on meticulous cleanliness and polite manners (latáa@fa; pp. 50-51 ). Slander and backbiting are forbidden (pp. 22). It is mandatory for parents to arrange for the education of both male and female children (pp. 52-53). Repentance for misdeeds is commended, but only in private and not before a clergyman (p. 53; Baha@÷-Alla@h, “BeÞa@ra@t,” in Majmu@¿a-^ az alwa@há, p. 12). Listening to music is allowed, and is recommended as a means of spiritual advance (Aqdas, pp. 53-54). Holy war (jeha@d) is forbidden (“BeÞa@ra@t,” p. 10).
The Aqdas forbids the imbibing of intoxicants and use of opium, as well as gambling (pp. 120, 153-54). It prohibits murder and adultery (p. 22). It prescribes banishment and imprisonment for theft, and the tattooing of an identifying mark on the forehead of third-time offenders (pp. 48-49). Wounding or striking another person is punishable by a set of fines, depending on the severity of the injury (p. 60). There is also a fine (d^a) to be paid to the victim's family for manslaughter (p. 185). The minimum penalty for arson and first-degree murder is life imprisonment; the maximum for arson is to be burned, the maximum for murder is execution (pp. 64-65). Slavery is forbidden (p. 75). All believers must leave a will (p. 111).
Marriage is enjoined; the Aqdas permits two wives, but recommends only one and ¿Abd-al-Baha@÷ later interpreted this verse to allow only one wife. The consent of both individuals and the permission of all four parents is required, as is the payment of a limited dowry by the man (pp. 64-67). It is permitted to marry non-Bahais (Baha@÷-Alla@h, Resa@la-ye so÷a@l o jawa@b, Iran National Bahai Archives, no. 63, Tehran, n.d., p. 36). Adultery is punishable by a fine which doubles with each offense, payable to the house of justice (Aqdas, p. 53). Divorce is allowed but only after a year of patience is waited out during which no conjugal relations take place. Remarriage is permitted (pp. 70-73). It is forbidden to marry one's father's widow, and homosexuality is prohibited (pp. 110-11).
Believers are to pay a nineteen-percent religious tax on gold and on profits beyond expenses, called the háoqu@q Alla@h (the right of God; pp. 100-01). In addition, zaka@t, another religious tax, is to be paid, in accordance with the laws of the Koran (p. 145).
Religious rituals and observances. Like Bahai administration, Bahai religious observances have evolved over time. For the sake of brevity, these will be discussed in terms of twentieth-century practice, and only widely practiced or central rituals will be surveyed. There are four basic sorts of daily ritual. The Aqdas prescribes the private recitation by individuals of verses revealed by Baha@÷-Alla@h every morning and evening (p. 149; So÷a@l o jawa@b, p. 30). In addition, believers are to go to a central place of worship (maÞreq al-adòka@r) between dawn and two hours after sunrise to recite and listen to prayers (mona@ja@t; Aqdas, p. 116; So÷a@l o jawa@b, pp. 7-8). Aside from these supplicatory prayers, believers are to pray an obligatory prayer (sáala@t, nama@z) after ablutions (wozμu@÷). Baha@÷-Alla@h set down three different obligatory prayers, a long one with prostrations to be said once in twenty-four hours, a middle prayer to be said three times a day, and a short prayer to be said once a day. Believers may choose any one of these to say individually. Congregational sáala@t is forbidden, as are pulpits (sing. menbar). The believer must face the qebla (point of adoration) while performing the obligatory prayer, which is fixed as Baha@÷-Alla@h's resting place. It is not
necessary to face the qebla when saying other sorts of prayer (Aqdas, pp. 152-53, So÷a@l o jawa@b, pp. 29-30; EÞra@q K¨a@var^, ed., Ganj^na, pp. 11-33). Finally, once a day believers should seat themselves facing the qebla and repeat the greatest name of God, Alla@ho abha@, ninety-five times (Aqdas, pp. 21-22). Another important ritual prayer is the sáala@t for the dead, which is the only sort of sáala@t Baha@÷-Alla@h permitted to be said in congregation; it is almost identical with that set down by the Ba@b in the Baya@n (wa@háed 5, ba@b 11) (EÞra@q K¨a@var^, ed., Ganj^na, pp. 136-41).
The Bahai calendar (Bad^¿, q.v.), originating with the Ba@b, consists of nineteen months of nineteen days each, in addition to a short intercalary period. At the beginning of each Bahai month, Bahais are to gather in the nineteen day feast (zμ^a@fat-e nu@zdah ru@za), discussed above under administration, where the only approximation to a ritual is the reading by lay believers of passages from scripture. The Aqdas instructed that the intercalary days be placed just before the last month, the month of fasting (¿Ala@÷). Bahais are to fast (sá^a@m) from the age of maturity (15), from sunrise to sunset for nineteen days. Since the Bahai calendar is a solar one, the fasting month always falls just before the vernal equinox. The intercalary days (ayya@m-e ha@) are set aside as a time of gift giving and feasting. The fast usually ends on 20 March, and the vernal equinox (Nowru@z) starts the new year (pp. 18-21, 126). Nowru@z is one of nine Bahai holy days on which work must be suspended. Bahais hold festive gatherings on these days. They include the anniversaries of the birth of the Ba@b and of Baha@÷-Alla@h (celebrated on 1 and 2 Moháarram in the Middle East, and on 20 October and 12 November in the rest of the world), and the first, ninth, and twelfth days of Rezμwa@n, the twelve-day (April 21-May 2) festival celebrating Baha@÷-Alla@h's declaration of his mission in Baghdad (pp. 112-15; So÷a@l o jawa@b, pp. 12). The other holy days are the declaration of the Ba@b, the martyrdom of the Ba@b, and the “ascension” (sáo¿u@d) of Baha@÷-Alla@h (texts relating to these holy days have been collected by EÞra@q K¨a@var^ in Resa@la-ye ayya@m-e tes¿a).
Pilgrimage (hajj) is required of financially able male believers once in a lifetime either to the house of the Ba@b in Shiraz or the house of Baha@÷-Alla@h in Baghdad (Aqdas, p. 32; So÷a@l o jawa@b, p. 15; EÞra@q K¨a@var^, ed., Ganj^na, pp. 67-71). Even before setting down the Aqdas, Baha@÷-Alla@h wrote out tablets containing instructions for the performance of the pilgrimage, and had Moháammad “Nab^l” Zarand^ perform the rites at the house of the Ba@b. These include the paring of nails, ablutions, the recitation of special verses, and circumambulation. But problems of security prevented subsequent performance of the rites. At present, the pilgrimage is not undertaken, given the persecution of Bahais in Iraq and the destruction of the house of the Ba@b by the revolutionary government in Iran in 1979. Visitation (z^a@rat) often psychologically took its place, many believers simply visiting the house of the Ba@b in Shiraz, the house of Baha@÷-Alla@h in Baghdad, or the Bahai properties in Edirne, Turkey, and Haifa and ¿Akka@ (now in Israel). A nine-day visitation to the Bahai shrines in Haifa and ¿Akka@ has become common among Bahais who can afford it.
Bibliography : Most of the published primary sources for Bahaism are cited in the article. A large number of community histories of Bahais in various parts of Iran are in mss. in Iranian archives and at the International Baha@÷i Archives in Haifa. An important biographical dictionary of Iranian Bahais is ¿Az^z-Alla@h Solayma@n^, Masáa@b^há-e heda@yat, 8 vols., Tehran, 1964-68?. For the relatives of the Ba@b who became Bahais see Moháammad-¿Al^ Fayzμ^, K¨a@nda@n-e afna@n, Tehran, 127 Bad^¿/1970. For Bahai doctrines see ¿A. EÞra@q K¨a@var^, Moháa@zμera@t, Tehran, 120 Bad^¿/1963. Much primary material was printed in the English-Persian periodical, Star of the West, Chicago and Washington, D.C., 1910-33. Volumes of the official Bahai yearbooks, The Baha‚÷í World, cited above, often contain documents of a primary nature. An important Western travel account of the Bahais in nineteenth-century Iran is E. G. Browne, A Year Amongst the Persians, London, 1893, and other material (mostly hostile) relating to Bahai history is in Browne's Materials for the Study of the Ba‚bí Religion, Cambridge, 1918. Diplomatic and missionary documents have been published in Momen, The Ba‚bí and Baha‚'í Religions, cited above.
A glossary of Bahai terms is M^rza@ Asad-Alla@h Fa@zμel Ma@zandara@n^, Asra@r al-a@t¯a@r, 5 vols., Tehran, 1967-72. Some material for Bahai history is also in the same author's Ta@r^kò-e zμohu@r al-háaqq, vol. 8, pts. 1 and 2, Tehran, 131-32 Bad^¿/1975-76. General histories of the Babi and Bahai movements are M^rza@ Abu÷l-Fazμl Golpa@yega@n^ and M^rza@ Mehd^ Golpa@yega@n^, KaÞf al-g@etáa@÷, Tashkent, 1919?; and ¿Abd-al-H®osayn Ava@ra, al-Kawa@keb al-dorr^ya, 2 vols., Cairo, 1923. See also for expositions of Bahai doctrine M^rza@ Abu÷l-Fazμl Golpa@yega@n^, Keta@b al-fara@÷ezμ, Cairo, 1898, and al-Dorar al-bah^ya, Cairo, 1900, tr. J. Cole, Miracles and Metaphors, Los Angeles, 1982; idem, al-H®ojaj al-bah^ya, Cairo, n.d., tr. ¿Al^qol^ Khan, Baha@÷^ Proofs, Chicago, 1914; Wilmette, Ill., 1984; Golpa@yega@n^'s letters, cited above, are a primary source.
Academic work on the general history and global growth of Bahaism includes A. Bausani, “Baha@÷^s,” in EI2, and idem, Persia Religiosa da Zoroaster a Bahâ÷u÷llâh, Milan, 1959; P. Smith, The Ba@b^ and Baha@÷^ Religions: from Messianic Sh^¿ism to a World Religion, Cambridge (forthcoming); P. Berger, “From Sect to Church: A Sociological Interpretation of the Bahai Movement,” Ph.D. dissertation, New School for Social Research, New York, 1954; idem, “Motif messianique et processus social dans le Bahaisme,” Archives de sociologie des religions 4, 1957, pp. 93-107; A. Hampson, “The Growth and Spread of the Baha@÷i Faith,” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Hawaii, 1980; V. Johnson, “An Historical Analysis of Critical Transformations” (cited above).
Further academic work on the history of Bahaism includes articles in M. Momen, ed., Studies in Ba‚bí and Baha‚÷í History I, Los Angeles, 1982, and J. Cole and M. Momen, eds., From Iran East and West: Studies in Ba‚bí and Baha‚÷í History II, Los Angeles, 1984, a continuing series of books: For the period 1863-92, see M. Momen, “Early Relations between Christian Missionaries and the Ba‚bí and Baha@÷í Communities,” in Studies I, pp. 49-84; J. Cole, “Baha@'u'lla@h and the Naqshband^ Sufis in Iraq, 1854-1856,” ibid., II, pp. 1-30; M. Caton, “Baha@÷í Influences on M^rza@ ¿Abdu÷lla@h, Qajar Court Musician and Master of the Rad^f,” ibid., II, pp. 31-66; S. Stiles, “Early Zoroastrian Conversions to the Baha@÷^ Faith in Yazd, Iran,” ibid., II, pp. 67-134; for the life of Baha@÷-Alla@h see H. M. Balyuzi, Baha@÷u÷lla@h, Oxford, 1980. For ¿Abd-al-Baha@÷ see A. Bausani and D. MacEoin, “¿Abd-al-Baha@÷,” in EIr. I, pp. 103-04; and H. M. Balyuzi, ¿Abdu÷l-Baha@÷: The Centre of the Covenant of Buha@÷u÷lla@h, Oxford, 1971. For Egypt in this period see J. Cole, “Rashid Rida on the Baha'i Faith: A Utilitarian Theory of the Spread of Religions,” Arab Studies Quarterly 5, 1983, pp. 276-91. Academic work on the American Bahai community includes: W. Collins, “Kenosha 1893-1912: History of an Early Baha@÷^ Community in the United States,” in Momen, ed., Studies SBBH I, pp. 225-54; R. Hollinger, “Ibrahim George Kheiralla and the Baha@÷^ Faith in America,” ibid., II, pp. 95-134; P. Smith, “The American Baha@÷^ Community, 1894-1917: A Preliminary Survey,” ibid., I, pp. 85-224; P. Smith, “Reality Magazine: Editorship and Ownership of an American Baha@÷^ Periodical,” ibid., II, pp. 95-134; R. Stockman, The Baha@÷^ Faith in America 1892-1900, Wilmette, Ill., 1985. For the Shoghi Effendi period see L. Bramson-Lerche, “Some Aspects of the Development of the Baha@÷^ Administrative Order in America, 1922-1936,” in Momen, ed., Studies I, pp. 255-300; and ¿A. EÞra@q K¨a@var^, Rahá^q-e makòtu@m, 2 vols., Tehran, 103 Bad^¿/1946. For comments on Bahais in modern Yazd, Iran, see M. Fischer, “Zoroastrian Iran: Between Myth and Praxis,” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Chicago, 1973. For Bahaism in India see W. Garlington, “The Bahai Faith in Malwa,” in G. A. Oddie, ed., Religion in South Asia, Delhi, 1977; idem, “Baha@÷i Conversions in Malwa, Central India,” in Momen, ed., Studies II, pp. 157-88; idem, “The Baha‚÷í Faith in Malwa: The Study of a Contemporary Religious Movement,” Ph.D. dissertation, Australian National University, 1975; and S. Garrigues, “The Baha‚÷í Faith in Malwa: Identity and Change Among the Urban Baha@÷^s of Central India,” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Lucknow, 1975. For the Bahai faith in West Africa see Anthony Lee, Ph.D. in progress, Univ. of California, Los Angeles. For Bahai religious observances see D. MacEoin, “Ritual and Semi-Ritual Observances in Ba@bism and Baha@÷ism,” paper presented at the 1980 Lancaster Conference on the Babi and Bahai faiths, Lancaster University, England.
There is a voluminous tertiary literature on Bahaism. Impartial writing about the Bahais in the Middle East is rare. Significant works, though critical, are ¿Abd-al-Razza@q H®asan^, al-Ba@b^yu@n wa÷l-Baha@÷^yu@n f^ ma@zμ^hem wa ha@zμerehem, Sidon, 1957; and Ahámad Kasraw^, Baha@÷^gar^, Tehran, 1322 ˆ./1943. Christian polemics against Bahaism are W. Miller, The Baha@÷^ Faith: Its History and Teachings, South Pasadena, CA, 1974; J. R. Richards, The Religion of the Baha@÷^s, London, 1932; and S. G. Wilson, Baha@÷ism and its Claims, New York, 1915, 1970. Intelligent surveys of Bahaism by Western converts with little training in Middle East studies include J. Esslemont, Baha‚÷u÷lla‚h and the New Era, London, 1923; J. Ferraby, All Things Made New, London, 1957; and W. Hatcher and D. Martin, The Baha‚÷í Faith: The Emerging Global Religion, San Francisco, 1984.
ii. Bahai Calendar and Festivals
The notion of renewal of time, implicit in most religious dispensations, is made explicit in the writings of the Ba@b (q.v.) and Baha@÷-Alla@h (q.v.). To give this spiritual metaphor a concrete frame and to signalize the importance of the dispensation which he came to herald, the Ba@b inaugurated a new calendar. In a significant break with the Islamic system, he abandoned the lunar month and adopted the solar year, commencing with the astronomically fixed vernal equinox (March 21), the ancient Persian new year festival of Now Ru@z (q.v.; Persian Baya@n 6:14). Baha@÷-Alla@h confirmed this calendar in al-Keta@b al-aqdas (40:258-60; see aqdas), and ¿Abd-al-Baha@÷ (q.v.) set the final number of Bahai holy days, i.e., festivals and commemorative days on which work is suspended, at nine per year. The Bahai year (see bad^¿) consists of 19 months of 19 days each, i.e., 361 days, with the addition of four intercalary days (five in leap years) between the 18th and the 19th months in order to adjust the calendar to the solar year. The Ba@b named the months after the attributes of God. The original Arabic names and their accepted English equivalents and correspondence dates to the Gregorian calendar are as follows:
#Month#Arabic name#Translation#First days##
The intercalary days are February 26 to March 1 inclusive. The 19th month is designated as the month of fasting. The nine holy days are: (1) festival of Now Ru@z (New Year), March 21; (2) 1st day of the festival of Rezμwa@n (Declaration of Baha@÷-Alla@h) April 21; (3) 9th day of the festival of Rezμwa@n, April 29; (4) 12th day of the festival of Rezμwa@n, May 2; (5) declaration of the Ba@b, May 23; (6) ascension of Baha@÷-Alla@h, May 29; (7) martyrdom of the Ba@b, July 9; (8) birth of the Ba@b, October 20; (9) birth of Baha@÷-Alla@h, November 12.
Bibliography : The Ba@b, Baya@n-e fa@rs^, n.d., n.p. Baha@÷-Alla@h, Keta@b-e aqdas, Bombay, 1908. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, Willmette, Ill., 1944. ¿Abd-al-H®am^d EÞra@q K¨a@var^, Ayya@m-e tes¿a, Tehran, 1947.
iii. Bahai and Babi Schisms
Although it never developed much beyond the stage of a sectarian movement within Shi¿ite Islam, Babism experienced a number of minor but interesting divisions, particularly in its early phase. The first of these involved the defection of three of the earliest converts of the Ba@b, led by Molla@ Java@d Val^a@n^, who transferred their allegiance to Molla@ Moháammad Kar^m Khan Kerma@n^ (q.v.) as the authentic head of the Shaikhi school (q.v.). Although the scale of this defection was small, it did have repercussions on the Babi community at Karbala@÷, whose leader, Fa@táema Barag@a@n^ (Qorrat-al-¿Ayn; q.v.), a maternal cousin of Val^a@n^, wrote a refutation of his allegations against the Ba@b. Val^a@n^'s concern centered on what he perceived as the Ba@b's break with the more conservative wing of Shaikhism. By thus distancing themselves from the Ba@b's claims, he and those who supported him helped sharpen the growing sense of division within the Shaikhi ranks and encouraged the Ba@b and his followers to demonstrate a clearer identity for themselves. (See MacEoin, “From Shaykhism,” pp. 199-203.)
A more serious split occurred soon after this at Karbala@÷ itself, where Qorrat-al-¿Ayn and a probable majority of the Babis of the region came into conflict with Molla@ Ahámad K¨ora@sa@n^ and his supporters. The issues involved in this dispute were complex (and are dealt with in contemporary materials written by the chief participants), but the central point of contention appears to have been the status accorded Qorrat-al-¿Ayn and other Letters of the Living (háoru@f al-háayy; see babism). As with Val^a@n^, K¨ora@sa@n^'s principal worry was that the Ba@b and his chief followers were claiming (or, in the case of the former, having claimed for him) a quasi-divine status out of keeping with a more conservative Shi¿ite interpretation. This quarrel appears not to have been fully resolved before Qorrat-al-¿Ayn was forced to leave Karbala@÷ for Baghdad and, eventually, Iran. (See MacEoin, “From Shaykhism,” pp. 203-07.)
Apart from her dispute with K¨ora@sa@n^, Qorrat-al-¿Ayn came into conflict with other Babis over her radical interpretations of doctrine, in particular her tendency to push for the abolition of the Islamic religious Law (Þar^¿a). Something of this division seems to have surfaced during the famous Babi conclave held at BadaÞt in Ma@zandara@n in the summer of 1847, when Qorrat-al-¿Ayn led an abolitionist party in opposition to a poorly-defined group who resisted such a radical development. There are indications that a wider split occurred between the radicals at BadaÞt and the followers of Molla@ H®osayn BoÞru@÷^ (q.v.) at Shaikh T®abars^ (see Noqtáat al-ka@f, pp. 153-54, 155).
After the Ba@b's death in 1850 and the death or dispersal of most of the Babi leadership, divisions of a more complex nature occurred within the surviving community. In Iran and in Baghdad, where a core of sect members took up residence under the leadership of M^rza@ Yaháya@ Nu@r^ Sáobhá-e Azal (q.v.), over twenty individuals made separate claims to some form of divine inspiration, usually based on the ability to compose verses (a@ya@t). Most notable among these was the Azerbaijan-based M^rza@ Asad-Alla@h K¨o÷^ Dayya@n, whose followers became known as Dayya@n^s. His movement was short-lived, however, ending after his assassination in 1856. The divisions of this period culminated in the increasingly bitter dispute between Sáobhá-e Azal and his half-brother M^rza@ H®osayn-¿Al^ Baha@÷-Alla@h (q.v.). From about 1866, this leadership quarrel hardened into a permanent division between Azal^ and Bahai Babis. (See MacEoin, “Divisions and Authority Claims.”)
The history of Bahaism as a distinct movement is punctuated by divisions of varying severity, usually occurring as responses to the death of one of the religion's leaders. It has become an article of faith in modern Bahai circles that the religion is protected from schism by the Covenant system of authoritative succession (see below). This has led to a strong emphasis on orthodoxy, with a tendency to play down or even ignore present or past divisions. Thus, “There are no Baha‚÷í sects. There never can be” (Hofman, Renewal, p. 110). At the same time, it should be stressed that there is a high degree of cohesion within the movement and that the authority of the mainstream Bahai leadership is seldom challenged.
Following the death of Baha@÷-Alla@h in Palestine in 1892, a serious clash took place between his two oldest sons, ¿Abba@s (see ¿abd-al-baha@÷) and M^rza@ Moháammad-¿Al^. It was accepted that, in his will, Baha@÷-Alla@h had appointed ¿Abba@s his successor and interpreter of the holy text, in keeping with traditional Shi¿ite notions of vicegerency (wesáa@ya). But Moháammad-¿Al^ and his partisans accused ¿Abd-al-Baha@÷ of making excessive claims for himself. Since ¿Abd-al-Baha@÷'s real claims seem to have been quite limited, it is likely that his opponents were really objecting to his somewhat radical interpretations of Bahai doctrine, particularly his social and political theories. Moháammad-¿Al^ and his supporters (who included most of Baha@÷-Alla@h's family) termed themselves Ahl al-tawhá^d or Mowaháháedu@n and were dominant for some time in Syria. ¿Abd-al-Baha@÷ drew his support chiefly from Bahais in Iran and, increasingly from the late 1890s, from the growing community in the United States, where a cult based on his personality was developed. His eventual success is attributed by Berger to his ability to sustain charismatic appeal within the new movement (“Motif messianique,” p. 102; conflicting versions of the quarrel may be found in Browne, Materials, pp. 72-112 and Balyuzi, ¿Abdu÷l-Baha@, pp. 50-61 ).
The split did, however, extend into America eventually, following the defection to Moháammad-¿Al^ of Ibrahim George Kheiralla, the first Bahai missionary to that country. By 1899, the American Bahai community was divided into two factions: a majority of those loyal to ¿Abd-al-Baha@÷ and a minority of “Behaists.” In 1900, Kheiralla founded a Society of Behaists, with himself as its Chief Spiritual Guide and with Churches of the Manifestation in Chicago and Kenosha. The Behaist faction was later reorganized as the National Association of the Universal Religion, but the number of its adherents dwindled rapidly, particularly after the successful visits to North America made by ¿Abd-al-Baha@÷ between 1911 and 1913. In Palestine, the followers of Moháammad-¿Al^ continued as a small group of families opposed to the Bahai leadership in Haifa; they have now been almost wholly re-assimilated into Muslim society (see Cohen, “Baha‚÷í Community of Acre”).
Mainstream Bahaism, as represented by ¿Abd-al-Baha@÷ and his followers, responded to the challenge of factionalism by emphasizing the doctrinal ideal of a Covenant (¿ahd, m^t¯a@q) designating a single individual head of the faith (markaz al-m^t¯a@q “Center of the Covenant”), to whom all believers were to render unquestioning obedience. The centrality of the Covenant system first became apparent in 1917-18 in the course of the Chicago Reading Room Affair, during which a group of dissenting Bahais in Chicago were expelled from the main body. (See Smith, “American Baha÷i Community,” pp. 189-94.)
Under the leadership of Shoghi Effendi (q.v., 1921-1957), the Bahai movement underwent radical structural changes with the creation of a tightly-controlled administrative organization modeled on modern Western management systems. Challenges to Shoghi Effendi's authority or that of the bodies under him were in numerous cases met by the excommunication of groups or individuals as Covenant-Breakers (na@qezμu ÷l-m^t¯a@q). The only significant breakaway groups to emerge during this period, however, were the New History Society based in New York around the anti-organization views of Ahmad Sohrab and Julie Chanler (see Johnson, “Historical Analysis,” pp. 311-18), and the German Bahai World Union which re-emerged after World War II as the World Union for Universal Religion and Universal Peace and the Free Bahais of Stuttgart. In the East, dissent tended to be even more individual, taking the form of personal defections from the movement rather than organized groupings. Faeg's Scientific Society founded in Egypt about 1923 was atypical. Since all of the schismatic groups of this period found their raison d'être in the rejection of religious organization, it was inevitable that they should be short-lived and restricted in their influence.
The death of Shoghi Effendi in 1957 presented the movement with a potential crisis of major proportions, but also allowed the administrative system established by him to demonstrate its widespread acceptance within the community at large. Between 1957 and 1963 (when a universal House of Justice, bayt al-¿adl-e a¿záam [q.v.], was elected), the religion had no leader. Shoghi had had no children, had excommunicated his entire family, and had failed to designate any other successor. From about 1958, Charles Mason Remey, President of the International Baha÷i Council, began to oppose the notion that there could be no successor to the Bahai Guardianship (wela@ya), and in 1960 he declared himself to be the second Guardian of the Bahai Faith. Under Remey's leadership, a minority group organized themselves successively as the Bahais under the Guardianship, Bahais under the Hereditary Guardianship, and the Orthodox Abha World Faith, with its headquarters in Santa Fe (see Johnson, pp. 342-80). Remey died in 1974, having appointed a third Guardian, but the number of adherents to the Orthodox faction remains extremely small. Although successful in Pakistan, the Remeyites seem to have attracted no followers in Iran. Other small groups have broken away from the main body from time to time, but none of these has attracted a sizeable following.
Bibliography : H. M. Balyuzi, ¿Abdu÷l-Baha‚, London, 1971. P. Berger, From Sect to Church: A Sociological Interpretation of the Baha÷i Movement, Ph.D. dissertation, New School for Social Research, 1954. Idem, “Motif messianique et processus social dans le Baha÷isme,” Archives de sociologie des religions 4, 1957, pp. 93-107. E. G. Browne, ed., Materials for the Study of the Ba‚bí Religion, Cambridge, 1918. E. Cohen, “The Baha‚÷í Community of Acre,” Folklore Research Center Studies 3, Jerusalem, 1972, pp. 119-41. D. Hofman, The Renewal of Civilization, London, 1960. R. Hollinger, “Ibrahim George Kheiralla and the Baha‚÷í Faith in America,” in J. Cole and M. Momen, eds., From Iran East and West: Studies in Ba‚bí and Baha‚÷í History II, Los Angeles, 1984, pp. 95-133. V. E. Johnson, An Historical Analysis of Critical Transformations in the Evolution of the Baha÷i World Faith, Ph.D. dissertation, Baylor University, 1974, esp. pp. 241-51, 306-21, 342-80, 410-15.
H®a@j^ M^rza@ Ja@n^ Ka@Þa@n^, Keta@b-e Noqtáat al-Ka@f, ed. E. G. Browne, Leiden and London, 1910. D. MacEoin, From Shaykhism to Babism: A Study in Charismatic Renewal in Shi¿i Islam, Ph.D. dissertation, Cambridge University, 1979. Idem, “Divisions and Authority Claims in the Ba@b^ Community, 1850-1866,” unpublished paper. W. McE. Miller, The Baha÷i Faith: Its History and Teachings, South Pasadena, 1974, pp. 173-85, 198-201, 260-68, 274-77, 310-23. P. Smith, A Sociological Study of the Babi and Baha÷i Religions, Ph.D. dissertation, Lancaster University, 1982, pp. 285-86, 313-16, 321-25, 330-38, 343-48. Idem, “The American Baha‚÷í Community, 1894-1917: A Preliminary Survey,” in M. Momen, ed., Studies in Ba‚bí and Baha‚÷í History I, Los Angeles, 1982, pp. 85-223. A. Sohrab, Broken Silence, New York, 1942. Idem, Abdul Baha's Grandson: Story of a Twentieth Century Excommunication, New York, 1943. R. White, The Bahai Religion and its Enemy, the Bahai Organization, Rutland, Vt., 1929.
(D. M. MacEoin)
iv. The Bahai Communities
The development of the Bahai faith (q.v.) has been accompanied by a massive transformation of the religion's social base. From being a religion predominantly composed of those of Iranian Shi¿ite background, it has become a worldwide movement comprising people of a multitude of religious and national backgrounds. Of the contemporary Bahai population, probably fewer than one in ten are Iranians.
Overall pattern of Bahai expansion. A distinctive Bahai community may be said to have come into being during the 1860s and 1870s following the open rupture between the leaders of the Babi movement. M^rza@ H®osayn-¿Al^ Nu@r^ Baha@÷-Alla@h (1817-92) had already begun to successfully reanimate and coordinate the various Babi communities in Iran and Iraq. When he laid claim to be the promised one of Babism (1866), his message was widely accepted. Most Babis became Bahais, only a minority siding with Baha@÷-Alla@h's half brother, Sáobhá-e Azal (see azali babism). Well coordinated, the emerging Iranian Bahai community possessed considerable dynamism. Successful missionary activity was soon undertaken, not only amongst Iran's Shi¿ite majority, but also amongst the Jewish and Zoroastrian minorities (from the 1880s). Further afield, small Bahai communities were established in Turkey, Syria, Egypt, India, and Asiatic Russia, mostly amongst expatriate Iranians.
Bahai expansion beyond the Middle East and the Iranian diaspora only began after the passing of Baha@÷-Alla@h (1892) and the succession of his son, ¿Abd-al-Baha@÷ (1844-1921), as leader. In the 1890s, an active community developed in North America, Americans in turn establishing Bahai groups in England, France, Germany, Hawaii, and Japan. Groups were also later established in Australia and New Zealand. Western Bahais also traveled widely in the Middle East, India, and Latin America, significantly contributing to the sense of the world community among the Bahais.
Plans for a systematic global expansion of the Bahai religion had been outlined by ¿Abd-al-Baha@÷, most clearly in his Tablets of the Divine Plan (1916-17). However, it was only under the leadership of his grandson, Shoghi Effendi Rabba@n^ (1897-1957), that such plans were actually implemented on any large scale. Devoting the early years of his ministry to consolidating and standardizing the system of Bahai administration (1922-early 1930s), Shoghi Effendi then employed this administration as a means of securing systematic expansion, at first only in selected countries, through a series of national and regional Bahai plans (1937-53), and then globally in an international Ten Year Crusade (1953-63). This approach has been continued since Shoghi Effendi's death (1957), with a series of Nine, Five, Seven, and Six Year Plans (1964-73; 1974-79; 1979-86; 1986-92). The resultant expansion has led to Bahai communities being established in most countries of the world.
Expansion and distribution. Some indication of the extent of Bahai expansion can be gained from the statistics in Table 13. These figures indicate a slow rate of expansion during the 1928-52 period, rapid growth only occurring after 1952 and the introduction of international teaching plans. Other indices of expansion include the growth in the number of languages in which Bahai literature is produced, from 8 or so in 1928, to 70 in 1953, and 757 in 1986, and in the number of tribal and ethnic groups represented in the community, from 42 in 1952 to over 2,100 in 1986 (see Baha‚÷í World II, pp. 193-210; XII, pp. 775-827); Shoghi Effendi, The Baha÷i Faith, 1844-1952; and Universal House of Justice, Department of Statistics, The Seven Year Plan, Statistical Report, Ridáva‚n 1986).
In terms of total numbers, the official Bahai estimate in April, 1985, was that there were in the region of 4.7 million Bahais worldwide. In terms of distribution, fifty-nine percent of the Bahai world total live in Asia, twenty percent in Africa, eighteen percent in the Americas, 1.6 percent in Australasia and 0.5 percent in Europe. There are relatively few Bahais in the Communist world and little organized activity is permitted. (See Table 14.)
The areas of Bahai expansion can be divided into three separate “worlds”: the Islamic heartland in which the religion first developed (the Middle East, North Africa, and Asiatic Russia); the West (North America, Western Europe, Australia, and New Zealand); and the Bahai “Third World” (including the Far East; Smith, Ba‚bí and Baha‚÷í Religions, pp. 162-71). In these terms, there has been a marked change in the distribution of Bahais during the present century. Taking the distribution of local Bahai Spiritual Assemblies as a measure of change, in 1945, out of a total of 505 Assemblies, the majority, sixty-one percent, were in the Islamic heartland (mostly in Iran), twenty-nine percent were in the West (mostly in the U.S.A.), and only ten percent were in the Bahai Third World (mostly in India and Latin America). By 1983, however, out of a total of 24,714 Assemblies, the figures were respectively two, eleven, and seventy-eight percent (calculated from Baha‚÷í World X, pp. 551-82; and Universal House of Justice, Department of Statistics, The Seven Year Plan, 1979-1986, Statistical Report 1983). Although the Assembly distribution figures underrepresent the larger local Bahai communities (such as those in Iran), the overall trend is clear. As a consequence of the international teaching plans of the last thirty years, the Bahai Faith has become a predominantly non-Islamic Third World religion.
The Bahai communities of the Islamic heartland: 1. Iran. During the years of their initial expansion, the Babis had succeeded in establishing a widespread network of groups in most Iranian cities and in rural areas in several different regions, but after the Ba@b's execution (1850), the Babi groups and network had become fragmented. Baha@÷-Alla@h's recoordination of these groups during the late 1850s and the 1860s provided the basis for the emergence of the Bahai religion as a social entity. Utilizing itinerant Bahai couriers and teachers, Baha@÷-Alla@h and ¿Abd-al-Baha@÷ (acting increasingly as chief organizer for his father) created a viable Iranian Bahai community, whilst the efficient and widespread distribution of Baha@÷-Alla@h's major writings provided the basis for doctrinal unity.
Commitment to missionary expansion was strong. Bahai groups were established in areas such as G^la@n and the Persian Gulf coast which the Babis had not reached. New converts were gained among the Shi¿ite population, including men of considerable ability and prominence such as M^rza@ Abu÷l-Fazμl Golpa@yega@n^ (q.v.), converted in 1876. Contacts were established with members of the Jewish and Zoroastrian minorities, and significant numbers of conversions made from the 1880s onwards, particularly in Hamada@n and Yazd. Of major population groups, only the nomadic tribes and the Sunni and Christian minorities remained effectively beyond the reach of Bahai missions.
In terms of social class, both the existing “Babi” membership and the new converts represented a wide-ranging diversity. European observers noted the particular success which the Bahai missionaries enjoyed among the educated classes, but craftsmen, urban workers, and peasants were also well-represented. In contrast to Babism, relatively few clerics were converted: The ¿olama@÷ now had a well-defined and negative image of the Babi-Bahai movement, and were thus more resistant to its message. Correspondingly, Bahai merchants assumed greater prominence in the leadership of the movement within Iran; Bahai ¿olama@÷, however, remained important. Bahai women also assumed importance within the community, the successful “familialization” of the religion providing a major basis for its social consolidation.
Reflecting the activity of the Bahai community, there was a recrudescence of persecution. Thus, throughout the Qajar period, there were sporadic attacks on the Bahais, a number being killed, and many more being despoiled of their property. Religious animosity towards the Bahais as unbelievers was an important motivation here, particularly for the clerics who led most of the attacks. Other factors were also involved, however. Thus, whilst increasing numbers of the Qajar elite perceived that the universalistic and pacific policies of Baha@÷-Alla@h contrasted sharply with the militancy of the Babis, there was an understandable tendency to