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Religion

Defining and Denouncing Dogma

Peter Terry | Jan 12, 2015

PART 2 IN SERIES Baha’u’llah and the Reconciliation of Religions

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

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Peter Terry | Jan 12, 2015

PART 2 IN SERIES Baha’u’llah and the Reconciliation of Religions

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

The Baha’i teachings ask us all, no matter what our beliefs, to expand them to respect the world’s major Faiths. Baha’u’llah’s new way of thinking about religion challenges old paradigms and calls into question the barriers and borders we have constructed between religious communities for thousands of years.

In the Book of Certitude Baha’u’llah writes:

Similarly, call thou to mind the day when the Jews, who had surrounded Jesus, Son of Mary, were pressing Him to confess His claim of being the Messiah and Prophet of God, so that they might declare Him an infidel and sentence Him to death. Then, they led Him away, He Who was the Day-star of the heaven of divine Revelation, unto Pilate and Caiaphas, who was the leading divine of that age. The chief priests were all assembled in the palace, also a multitude of people who had gathered to witness His sufferings, to deride and injure Him…Furthermore, it is already evident and known unto thee that those things to which the Jews and the Christians have clung, and the cavilings which they heaped upon the Beauty of Muḥammad, the same have in this day been upheld by the people of the Qur’án, and been witnessed in their denunciations of the “Point of the Bayan”—may the souls of all that dwell within the kingdom of divine Revelations be a sacrifice unto Him! Behold their folly: they utter the self-same words, uttered by the Jews of old, and know it not! How well and true are His words concerning them: “Leave them to entertain themselves with their cavilings!” [Qur’án 6:91] “As Thou livest, O Muḥammad! they are seized by the frenzy of their vain fancies.” [Qur’an 15:72] – p. 135.

He continues:

Thus hath the King of eternal glory referred in His Book to the words uttered by those wanderers in the vale of remoteness and error: “‘The hand of God,’ say the Jews, ‘is chained up.’ Chained up be their own hands! And for that which they have said, they were accursed. Nay, outstretched are both His hands!” [Qur’an 5:64] “The hand of God is above their hands.” [Qur’an 48:10]

Although the commentators of the Qur’an have related in diverse manners the circumstances attending the revelation of this verse, yet thou shouldst endeavour to apprehend the purpose thereof. He saith: How false is that which the Jews have imagined! How can the hand of Him Who is the King in truth, Who caused the countenance of Moses to be made manifest, and conferred upon Him the robe of Prophethood—how can the hand of such a One be chained and fettered? How can He be conceived as powerless to raise up yet another Messenger after Moses? Behold the absurdity of their saying; how far it hath strayed from the path of knowledge and understanding! Observe how in this day also, all these people [Muslims!] have occupied themselves with such foolish absurdities. For over a thousand years they have been reciting this verse [from the Qur’an], and unwittingly pronouncing their censure against the Jews, utterly unaware that they themselves, openly and privily, are voicing the sentiments and belief of the Jewish people! – Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, pp. 23-24.

In this passage from his letter to the Persian monarch, Nasiri’d-Din Shah, Baha’u’llah wrote about the Baha’is and their belief in the unity of all religions:

Yea, these servants regard the one true God as He Who “doeth as He willeth” and “ordaineth as He pleaseth”. Thus they view not as impossible the continued appearance in the contingent world of the Manifestations of His Unity. Should anyone hold otherwise, how would he be different from those who believe the hand of God to be “chained up”? [Qur’án 5:64 referring to those Jews at the time of Jesus who rejected his claims] And if the one true God—glorified be His mention!—be indeed regarded as unconstrained, then whatever Cause that Ancient King may please to manifest from the wellspring of His Command must be embraced by all. – The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 122.

Koran-Torah-and-BibleBaha’u’llah made great efforts to reconcile Christianity with both Judaism and Islam. He cited copiously from the Gospels, in The Book of Certitude, in his Epistle to the Son of the Wolf. He also cited occasionally from other books of the New Testament, including an Epistle of Paul to the Romans in Epistle to the Son of the Wolf and Book of Revelation of St. John in one of his letters. As in the case of citations from the Hebrew scriptures, by quoting the New Testament, Baha’u’llah affirmed the authenticity of the books, the accuracy of their predictions, and their divine origins.

As a testimony to the success of his attempt to reconcile Judaism with other religions, thousands of Jews converted to the Baha’i Faith in Iran, and thousands of Jews have become Baha’is since Baha’u’llah’s religion spread beyond the confines of Iran, to other nations where Jews reside.

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