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What Are the Baha’i Sacred Scriptures?

Maya Bohnhoff | Jun 5, 2023

PART 3 IN SERIES Questions From a Curious Soul

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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Maya Bohnhoff | Jun 5, 2023

PART 3 IN SERIES Questions From a Curious Soul

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

The third question I was asked to address for a curious soul by my Local Spiritual Assembly was about what Baha’is consider sacred scripture: “Do you have any religious texts that you read/study?”

Yes, indeed, as you’ve no doubt guessed from the quotations I’ve already cited in answering these questions. 

Baha’u’llah, in his lifetime (1817-1892) wrote hundreds of letters, tablets, and entire books that run the gamut from mystical treatises written directly to the individual’s soul, to guidance intended for the leaders of nations, religions, and institutions of government. 

RELATED: Baha’u’llah’s Seven Valleys: the Mystical Journey Towards the Light

Baha’is consider these as holy books, sacred in nature, the creative Word of God.

Baha’u’llah’s son, Abdu’l-Baha, who was appointed by him as the only authoritative interpreter of his teachings, also wrote copiously. He has left us with multiple volumes of his talks, some given in Europe and the United States and Canada in the early 1900s, as well as many treatises on different subjects. The objective: to teach humanity how to, as Baha’u’llah put it, “… carry forward an ever-advancing civilization.” 

Baha’is not only study those texts to try to understand how we can help achieve that mandate, but for inspiration and personal guidance as well. Every Baha’i I know has their favorite scriptures. Mine include two of Baha’u’llah’s more mystical works, both of which were written in answer to questions from individuals. One is Tabernacle of Unity, which I quoted from earlier, and the other is The Seven Valleys which describes the spiritual journey of the soul toward the Beloved – God. My favorite work of Abdu’l-Baha’s is a compilation of the talks he gave in Paris, pragmatically entitled Paris Talks. 

The original handwritten texts of Baha’u’llah’s and Abdu’l-Baha’s primary works are still in existence, and are kept in a secure archive on Mount Carmel in Haifa, Israel. This archive is part of the Baha’i World Center, and scholars from around the world go there to study them.

RELATED: Exploring the Multiple Ways the Prophets Speak to Us

While the authenticated writings of Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha are both considered scripture, and are the main source of guidance for Baha’is, we are encouraged to study earlier scriptures, as well. Hence, many Baha’is (myself included) have home libraries that include such works as the Bhagavad Gita (Hindu scripture), the Bible (Torah and Evangel), Dhammapada (Buddhist scripture), Qur’an, and the collected writings of such indigenous luminaries as Black Elk (Lakota Sioux) and Deganawida (Iroquois) etc. We often include passages from these earlier scriptures in our devotional gatherings.

Baha’is are encouraged to read and reflect on the scriptures daily — watering the spiritual garden, as it were. Baha’u’llah wrote

Intone, O My servant, the verses of God that have been received by thee, as intoned by them who have drawn nigh unto Him, that the sweetness of thy melody may kindle thine own soul, and attract the hearts of all men. Whoso reciteth, in the privacy of his chamber, the verses revealed by God, the scattering angels of the Almighty shall scatter abroad the fragrance of the words uttered by his mouth, and shall cause the heart of every righteous man to throb. Though he may, at first, remain unaware of its effect, yet the virtue of the grace vouchsafed unto him must needs sooner or later exercise its influence upon his soul.

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