Baha'i World Faith
The Baha'i World Faith claims to be a religion of unique
relevance to the modern world. Few cults are better adapted to
the mentality of the 20th century than this one. Its emphasis
upon rationalism, human rights, international peace, education,
equality of the sexes, and the eradication of all forms of
prejudice gives the Baha'i Faith a very broad base of appeal. The
Baha'i cry for one world religion appeals to the ecumenical
spirit of the age, especially in light of the continuing
insistence that Baha'is are in perfect harmony with the Christian
Faith. We will look into several areas of this cult.
The Baha'i World Faith has had its headquarters on Mt.
Carmel in Haifa, Israel, since 1949. In America the center for
the Baha'is is in Wilmette, Illinois, where a 3 million dollar
temple draws over 100,00 visitors a year according to their
spokesmen. Additional temples are located in Frankfurt, Germany;
Kampala, Uganda; and Sidney, Australia. Though each one is
different, they are all nine-sided (Nine has religious
significance to Baha'is) and each is covered with a dome.
Since they are convinced they have a message the entire
world should hear, Baha'is have a strong missionary emphasis.
They are active in more than 250 countries, and though world wide
missionary work has been limited to the 20th century, total
membership totals over 5 million. The 60's and the 70's witnessed
very strong growth, especially in the United States (special
emphasis in California), where a large percentage of the
membership consists of minorities and youth. California
membership constitutes over 25% of the membership of Baha'i.
The Baha'is have three levels of administration. A minimum
of nine believers is sufficient to constitute a local spiritual
assembly, which elects a nine member administrative body each
year. These centers have no clergy or house of worship. They
employ only teachers who conduct "Firesides" or discussion groups
in homes or Baha'i centers. The second level of Baha'i is the
National Spiritual Assembly of nine members elected each year by
the delegates to the faith's national conventions. The very top
level is the UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE, which is another nine
member body elected every FIVE years by the national spiritual
assemblies throughout the world. Although the House of Justice
serves presently as the governing body for a "world" religion,
its ultimate intention is to serve as the FINAL GOVERNING
AUTHORITY for ALL THE NATIONS OF THE WORLD.
It is amazing that most of the various texts found on this
faith are duplicates of the media handed out by BAHA'I
themselves! You will note here, however, that the author makes
careful examination of the HISTORICAL record and the BIBLICAL
record (if existent) to arrive at our text files. We can do no
different, so we stay away from Encyclopedia Brittanica, etc. and
look to History for the history of this cult.
Iran, the birthplace of the Baha'i Faith, has long been a
Muslim nation. The Persians (present day Iran) embraced the
Shi'ite sect of Islam rather than the larger, more democratic
Sunni sect, which is the more traditional form of Islam. The
Shi'ites believe that Ali, the son-in-law of Muhammad and the
last of the four universally recognized caliphs (rulers of the
faith in temporal matters), was succeeded to the caliphate by
twelve of his descendants, called Imams. The Shi'ite sect, alone,
recognizes these twelve as divinely appointed leaders of Islam,
and they came to be regarded as sinless, supernatural beings. The
twelfth Imam mysteriously disappeared without leaving an heir,
and the belief began in the Shi'ites that he was still alive and
would one day return as the Messiah, or Mahdi. In addition, some
schools among the Shi'ites began to teach that the Imams were
manifestations of deity, a belief against orthodox Islam, which
denies even the possibility of divine incarnation.
Periodically, especially during times of oppression, men
would arise claiming to be the Hidden Imamorhis appointed channel
of grace. This was especially true in the early nineteenth
century when political and religious reform was badly needed in
Persia and when the 1,000 years that Shi'ite tradition affirmed
would pass between the disappearance and return of the Hidden
Imam was nearly completed. One such man was Shaykh Amad al-Ahsa,
whose followers were called "Shaykhis." He and his successor,
Sayyid Kazim, were both called Bab (The gate between the Hidden
Imam and mankind). They claimed to be in contact with the Hidden
Imam and proclaimed that he would soon become manifest.
After the death of Kazim, the sect became divided between
those who believed that the new successor was Hajji Karim Khan of
Kirman and a much larger faction which followed Sayyid Ali
Muhannad of Shiraz. The latter proclaimed in 1844 that he was the
Bab, a manifestation of God, the Mahdi for whom all had waited.
The first group continued under the name of Shaykhis; the latter
were called Babis.
Sayyid Ali Muhammad of Shirazwas born in 1820, descendant of
the family of Muhammad. He was quiet and modest and, as he grew
older, became studious and pious. He made a pilgrimage to the
shrine of the Imams near Bagdad, where he met Sayyid Kazim and
became strongly influenced by Shaykhi doctrine. When Kazim died,
the movement temporarily lacked a leader. Becoming convinced of
his own divine mission, the Bab gathered eighteen "apostles,"
whom he called the "Letters of the Living." They began to
proclaim vigorously his "divine" identity and mission, which met
with varying response in different cities. Some eagerly accepted
the "good news," while others reacted with hostility And, in some
cases, violence. "...in the History of Islam, putting forward a
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