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  • 8/8/2019 Sell - Bahaism


    ' , \IllHS EFENDl

    GENBRL EDITOR.1:5'" :1\&.. cr.a.... S&lI. '"J) '"J) - ...." ..."...ef L':l\.S.


  • 8/8/2019 Sell - Bahaism



    THE REV. CANON SELL, D.D., M.R.A.S.nLLOlt ' 0 ' ma tTlfIV.UITT OP 1lUJ)JU.1





  • 8/8/2019 Sell - Bahaism




    PREFACETHE recent visit of 'Abbas Efendf, son of the lateBaha'u' lIah, and now leader of the Baha'I community, to

    , London and Paris has drawn public attention to thereligious system known'as Bahaism.It is hoped that this historical account of the rise ofthe sect may be of some use in counteracting the extraor-dinary claims now made for Baha'u'llah and his teaching,and tbe assumption that 'Abbas Efendf is the prophet o fa new era.For typographical reasons the dots and dashes used

    in the t rans li te ra tion of cer ta in Arabic and Persianletters are omitted in the notes.

    . MADRAS,October 1, 1912


  • 8/8/2019 Sell - Bahaism


  • 8/8/2019 Sell - Bahaism


    ',. ~ ~ ...~ - . ' . "2",- ' : . .

    ; .BAHAISM

    ,THE ABWAB 3which the most remarkable instance in re'cent years isthe rise of Bahaism, a development of the earlier systemof Babiism.

    The origin of Bahaism is to be found far back in theShi'ah doctrine of the Imamat.1 The tragic end of'AIr the four th Khali fa , and h is two sons, l;Iasan andl ;Iusain' , cal led forth a deep affection for their memory.They were looked upon as the true and rightful Imams,the only legitimate successors of Mul:tammad, the greatArabian Prophet . According to the Isma'H1ans,3 one ofthe two main subdivisions of the ShI'ah sect, therewere twelve Imams, the last of whom, Abu'I-Qasim,who succeeded hi s father in A. H. 260, is supposedto be still alive, though he is now quite concealedfrom human eyes. After duly performing the funeralceremonies for his father, he secluded himself entirely.He is called al-Mahdi, the guided one, who is, therefore,able to be a guide to others. The Imams are believedto be immacu la te and infallible. Their authority isthe authority of God, their work the work of God.As mediums between God and man they hold a farhighe r position than the prophe ts. It is fur the r anar tic le of belief that the earth is never without a

    ISe. The Faith of Isldm (S.P.C.K.), pp. 108-13; 117-18.'The Imams wer e des cended f rom a i-Husa in who is said to

    have mar ri ed a cap tiv e la dy, t he daughter 01 Yezdigird III,the last Sassanian king. They were thus descendants 01 th e royalhouse of Persia, which may account for the lact t ha t th e Persiansb e = e and remain Shi'ahs. I t also explains in part their intensedevotion to the I m ~ m 9 _3 See The Cult of 'AU (C.L.S.), pp. 11-12 and The Faith of

    l l ldm (S.P.C.K.) , pp. 113-5.

    living Imam, though according to the Shl'ahs, he ISnow concealed. AI-Mahdi is said to have disappearedin the yea r A. H. 329 = A. D. 940, and to be now l iving inone of the mysterious cities-Jabulka and Jabulsa. Indue time he is to reappear, his advent being heraldedby Je sus Christ. Then injustice and misery are to bebanished, the true (Shi'ah) faith will prevail and amil len ium of happiness will be ushered in. Meanwhilehe is invisible and inaccessible to the great mass ofhis followers. Fo r a time, however, he seems in somemys te rious way to have held intercourse with a sel ectfew, who became the channels of communication be

    '. tween himself and the large body of believers. Theseintermediaries were called Abwab or gates. These menwere four in Dumber, and for sixty-nine years theywere, one after another , t he gat es through which theconcealed Imam made known his will. This period(A. H. 260 to :i29) is cal led the ghaibat i -sughra, or thelesser seclusion. When AbU'I-l;Iasan, the last Bab(gate), carne to the end of his life, the people beggedhim to appoint a successor, so that they might stilllearn the Imam's will and so be able to obey hiscommands. He, for some reason o r other, absolutely. refused to do th is , a lleg ing as his reason that ' God hath.a purpose which He will accomplish.' Now the fai thful were sad, for all intercourse with the concealedImam was at an end. This period is known as theghaibat.i.kubra, or the greater seclusion. We have inthis curious belief the origin of Babiism, of whichBahaism is a later development. The importancewhich the Babis attached to these gates is seen

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    from the following s ta tement about them made manycenturies after they had passed away: 'For God hasassociated refuge in Himself with refuge in His Apostle(Mul,1ammad) and refuge in His Apostle with refuge inhis executors (the Imams), and refuge in his' executorswi th refuge in the Abwab (gates) of his executors ..for refuge in the Apostle is the same as refuge withGod, and refuge in the Imams is the same as refugein the Apostle, and refuge in the Abwab is identicalwi th refuge in the Imams.' I

    We must now pass over many centuries unt il wecome to the t ime of Shaikh Al,1mad (A. D. 1733 to 1826)the founder of the Shaikhi sect. He was a devoutascetic and a man of independent thought . He had aprofound belief in 'All . The memory of the Imamswas dear to him. He looked upon them as creativeforces, arguing from the text, 'God the best of Creators',Ithat, if He is the best, He cannot be the only one.One of the ea rlie st wr it er s on the Babl movement,Mirza K a ~ i m Beg, in the Joumal Asiatique 3 describeshim as a celebrated teacher, who by his virtues, austerityand erudition attracted a large body of disciples. Thespecial point o f his teaching is thus described: 'Godis immanent in the universe, which proceeds from Him.All the elect of God and all the Imams are personifications of the divine attributes," Thus, the twelve Imams

    I Epi.ock o f the Bdb, p. 233. I S6ratu'l-Mu'min6n (xxiii) 14.SJournal A$iatique, S i x i ~ m e S ~ r i e . tome vii , p. 458.~ A c c o r d i n g to Mirza Kaz im Beg , the doctrine 01 the Sha ikh!

    school was that the attributes of God proceed I rom the Sup remeExistence, and by His own wilt become personified in blending withthe human soul and spiritwhich also emanate from God.

    . from 'AU downwards to alMahdi were personificationsof the attributes of God. 'AU is the chief of these andholds higher rank than Mul,1ammad.

    The successor of Shaikh Al,1mad was I:Iaji SayyidKazim, a young man so myster ious in his actions thatmany of the worldly.minded Persians looked upon himas foolish, but his followers called him ' the Enlightened'.Through his ministrations the Shaikhi doctrines spread

    , rapidly, and it is said that ther e were soon a hundredthousand disciples in 'Iraq. This does not appear tohave called forth any opposition from the Mullas, or thepolitical chiefs , for among the admirers of the Shaikh.were a number of State officials and of the clergy;al l proud of his name and enthusiastic about his philoso- ,phy. The I:Iaji died in the year A.D. 1843 and leftno successor. Apparently he and his predecessorlooked upon themselves, at leas t so the Babi writerssay, as forerunners of one who would shortly appear,and whom they called the ' Promised Proof' the ' Masterof the dispensation' and by other such like terms. ToMulla I:Iusain, one of his followers, he is reported to .have said: 'From whatever quarter the" Sun of Truth"shall arise, it will irradiate all horizons and render themirrors of the hearts of the believers capable of receiv' jng the effulgence of the lights of wisdom.'

    The Shaikhis, being now left without a leader, andbearing in mind the expressions used by those who hadbeen their late leaders, began to look about for a. spi ri tua l d irector . Mulla I:Iusain proceeded to Shlrazand there met with a young man, named Mirza 'Al i. Mui,lammad, an ardent enthusias t who claimed to have

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    6 ,BAHAISM THE SHAIKH! CREED 7'received a call to a divine miSSion. Mull! 1;Iusainthought him too young for such leadership. Then oneday Mirza 'All said: ' ~ what signs canst thou recog-nize theMaster?' Mulla Husain replied: 'B y the posses-sion of the" Point of Knowledge", which is the sourceand centre of al l the wisdom of past and future prophetsand saints.' MIrza 'All then proceeded to give a mar-vellous exposition of many abstruse questions as proofthat he possessed t he ' Point of Knowledge '. Mull!1;1 usain pondered over this extraordinary occurrence forseveral days, and at last became convinced that in theyoung man before h im he had found the 'Sun of Truth',the' True One', to whose advent 1;Iaji Sayyid Ka?;im hadlooked forward. He had no longer any doubt and wroteto his friends at Kerbela that he had found at last aman worthy to be their Murshid. This readiness toespouse the cause of the new leader and to recognize inhim the Bah or gate, brought great honour to Mull! .1;Iusain who received the t it les of Babu'l-Bab-'Gate

    ;" of the gate'; the 1;Iarf-i-Awwal-the 'First Letter'; theAwwal man amana-the ' First to believe '. Then arosea great dispute. Many of the Shaikhis refused to receivethe Bab,1 as we shall now call Mirza 'Ali MUl;1ammad,and became his bitter enemies, but in time the greatmajority accepted him, and he became the real founderof the Babi sect.

    The Shaikhis rejec ted two of the five art icles of theShi'ah creed-'adl, or justic e of God, and ma'ud or th