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The Fascinating, Enigmatic Mystery Behind the Prophet Idris

Ali Helmy | Jul 5, 2021

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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Ali Helmy | Jul 5, 2021

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

Baha’is believe in the essential oneness of all religions – that each and every Faith comes from one and the same Creator. Baha’u’llah, the prophet and founder of the Baha’i Faith, wrote:

There can be no doubt whatever that the peoples of the world, of whatever race or religion, derive their inspiration from one heavenly Source, and are the subjects of one God.

Because our inspiration comes from one heavenly Source, as a Baha’i I’ve always been fascinated by the ancient prophets, especially the ones mentioned in many scriptures and Faith traditions.

One of the most fascinating – Idris, also known as Enoch – is known by myriad other names in diverse historical settings. This mysterious figure has an intriguing narrative that sheds light on enigmatic past events. 

Delving into the story of Idris can broaden our conceptual framework and perception of historical contexts, ancient cultures, and the various ways humanity has viewed and revered sacred figures. I’ve always been fascinated by how his many names stretch his reputation across several nations, and why he is respected and held sacred in all of them – but illustrated in different character types, ranks, and classifications. 

RELATED: Why We Need to Learn About Native American Prophets

Briefly speaking, Idris was a philosopher and a prophet recognized in all the Abrahamic religions – Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and the Baha’i Faith. Baha’u’llah mentioned him in the “Tablet of Wisdom:”

Indeed, he was a man of truth and a prophet … the first person who devoted himself to philosophy was Idris. Thus, was he named. Some called him also Hermes. In every tongue he hath a special name. He it is who hath set forth in every branch of philosophy thorough and convincing statements. After him Balinus derived his knowledge and sciences from the Hermetic Tablets and most of the philosophers who followed him made their philosophical and scientific discoveries from his words and statements .…

Idris is also known as the prophet Enoch, the seventh patriarch in the Book of Genesis in the Old Testament, situated in his lineage between Adam and Noah. However, all this is just the tip of the mystery trail iceberg! In the Jewish-Muslim context, he is seen as a prophetic figure with two different names – but he is also known as Houshang, a king-seer in Persian traditions; as Thoth, an Egyptian god; and as Hermes Trismegistus, the legendary philosopher in early Greek civilization. Perhaps there are more names and contexts to Idris in the chronicles and records of other civilizations which historians have not yet discovered.

The fact that he is portrayed in a diverse array of character types and figurations makes him all the more interesting. In some circumstances he was most probably mythologized as a god; seen as a legendary figure; as a prophet; and also as an oracle, culture hero, sage, a mystic, magician, and more. 

Since the Qur’an states that “In every tongue he hath a special name” then Idris was most likely manifest in yet unexplored divine passages of the Mesoamerican, African, and other continental prophetic books. This theory’s credibility is further augmented by an excerpt from the Qur’anic verse in the Surah an-Nisa: 

Verily, we have inspired you (O Muhammad) as We inspired Nooh (Noah) and the Prophets after him; We (also) inspired Ibrahim (Abraham), Ismail (Ishmael), Ishaque (Isaac), Yaqoob (Jacob), and Al-Asbat (the twelve sons of Yaqoob (Jacob)), Iesa (Jesus), Ayub (Job), Yoonus (Jonah), Haroon (Aaron), and Sulaiman (Solomon), and to Dawood (David) We gave the Zaboor (Psalms). And Messengers We have mentioned to you before, and Messengers We have not mentioned to you, and to Moosa (Moses) Allah spoke directly.

Besides that, Idris is also known for his elevated level of knowledge, wisdom, and erudition. 

Studying this mysterious figure from antiquity can imbue us with a stark paradigm shift regarding the messengers of God, and alter how they’re perceived in the multitude of contexts of several divine scriptures spanning across many nations and cultures. 

RELATED: Were Adam and Eve Black?

Personally, I used to get caught up in the semantics. I had a narrow-minded perspective on sacred figures based on the Semitic perspective in the Middle East, mainly with an Islamic background. To me either these figures were prophets or non-prophets, a black or white mentality. Anything else was seen as either mythology or a legend. 

But the historical narrative of Idris shows that different cultures have different terms and perceptions for their prophets and divine figures. In the end they’re all united, but individually they exhibit rich and multifaceted personalities and perspectives. Therefore, words such as seers, oracles, and sages may at times be interchangeable and synonymous with familiar terms such as prophet, messenger, etc., depending on the cultural context they come from.

For me, this discovery has evoked a new dimension to one of the core Baha’i principles, the oneness of religion. That paradigm shift has widened my conceptual framework on this very principle, thereby helping me correlate and find coherence with pertinent Baha’i concepts such as the universality of God’s Faith.

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Comments

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  • Tahani Ruhi Helmy
    Jul 8, 2021
    -
    Delving into the story of Idris can broaden our conceptual framework and perception of historical contexts,and the various ways humanity has viewed and revered sacred figures"
    beautiful article, thanks Ali helmy to let me know more about prophet Idris
  • Mark David Vinzens
    Jul 7, 2021
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    The student of Comparative Religions will be able to perceive the influence of the Hermetic Teachings in every religion worthy of the name...
    ~ Three Initiates, Kybalion: A Study of the Hermetic Philosophy of Ancient Egypt and Greece
    • Ali Helmy
      Jul 7, 2021
      -
      Interesting, thanks for sharing! There's a grand sense of unity to the extent that his name is mentioned in various, diverse cultures and civilizations. Also, if you have any additional data and resources on this it would be widely appreciated.
  • Mark David Vinzens
    Jul 7, 2021
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    The Hermetic Philosophy is the esoteric heart of all spiritual traditions. Read the Kybalion (the english version with the introduction by Richard Smoley)
    • Ali Helmy
      Jul 7, 2021
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      Awesome, thanks for sharing! I'll definitely check it out.
  • Thomas Wilson
    Jul 6, 2021
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    Thank you very much Ali. An enlightening article for me. I have been studying Hermetic principles (Initiation into Hermetics by Franz Bardon). Many of the concepts tie in well with some of the more mystical Baha'i Writings, and your article gives me some understanding about why that is so.
    • Ali Helmy
      Sep 1, 2021
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      That's amazing really! I believe Idris is a stupendous topic to uncover and the more it unfurls the more awe-strikingly fascinating it all gets. Thank you for both your comment and the name of the study by Franz Bardon I'll definitely check it out.
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