RELIGION LIBRARY

Baha'i

Origins

Sacred Texts

All of the writings of Baha'u'llah are regarded by Baha'is as divine revelation. The most important of these is the Kitab-i-Aqdas (the Most Holy Book). The writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha are regarded as authorized interpretations of the Baha'i teachings and are also part of Baha'i scripture. The writings of the Bab are regarded as divine revelation, but some of the laws that he gave were specifically changed or abrogated by Baha'u'llah.

Although Baha'is regard the Bab as the forerunner of Baha'u'llah, he was more than just a figure comparable to John the Baptist. Baha'is consider that the greatness of this age necessitated the coming of two great religious figures, and in this sense the Bab shares the stature of Christ, Muhammad, Baha'u'llah, and all of the founders of the world's religions. He is thus a founder of his own religion with its own scriptures and laws. The writings of the Bab are thus regarded as divine revelation.

The Bab wrote a great many works (perhaps the equivalent of 100 volumes), some of which were lost because of the turbulent nature of his ministry and the intense persecution to which his followers were subjected. For the same reason, only a small proportion of his writings achieved a wide circulation among his followers. He wrote in both Persian and Arabic, and his style is very dense and difficult for even learned people to understand. A comprehensive study of the writings of the Bab is still unavailable.

Among the writings of the Bab, one of the best-known and most widely circulated is the Qayyum ul-Asma (The Enduring of Names), his first work upon the declaration of his claim in 1844. It is in Arabic, is mainly theological in nature, and was often called the Quran of the Babis. The Bayan, a work from early 1848, is the most comprehensive of his writings, consisting of theological and social teachings as well as law and eschatology. It is in this book that the messianic figure of "He whom God shall make manifest" comes into prominence.

Another work of the Bab is the Seven Proofs in which he lays out the proofs of his mission. While Baha'is continue to use parts of the writings of the Bab, such as his prayers and his mystical and theological writings, his social provisions and laws are considered to have been superseded by those of Baha'u'llah, although Baha'u'llah did endorse and continue some of these (such as the calendar instituted by the Bab).

The Hidden Words of Baha'u'llah

O SON OF SPIRIT!

My first counsel is this:  Possess a pure, kindly and radiant heart, that thine may be a sovereignty ancient, imperishable and everlasting.

O SON OF SPIRIT!

The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice; turn not away therefrom if thou desirest Me, and neglect it not that I may confide in thee. By its aid thou shalt see with thine own eyes and not through the eyes of others, and shalt know of thine own knowledge and not through the knowledge of thy neighbor.  Ponder this in thy heart; how it behooveth thee to be.  Verily justice is My gift to thee and the sign of My loving-kindness.  Set it then before thine eyes.

During the time that Baha'u'llah was in Baghdad, before he had put forward any claim, his writings were of such quality that many of the Babis guessed his claim and were openly calling him "He whom God shall make manifest," whom the Bab had prophesied. These early writings included a book of proofs, the Kitab-i-Iqan  (the Book of Certitude); a book of spiritual and moral aphorisms, the Hidden Words; and two mystical treatises, the Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys,  as well as a great deal of mystical poetry. While Baha'u'llah was in Edirne, he wrote a large number of works announcing his claim to the Babis as well as a series of epistles to the kings and rulers of the world—proclaiming his mission, explaining his teachings, and calling upon these leaders to take the first steps toward world peace.

The bulk of Baha'u'llah's writings date from the period that he was in 'Akka, particularly his last years in Bahji where he concentrated on dictating his works, which were usually in response to the numerous letters arriving for him. His most important book, the Kitab-i-Aqdas (the Most Holy Book) dates from the early 'Akka period (1873) and contains laws, theology, social teachings, and instruction regarding Baha'i institutions. This was followed by a series of tablets (most of Baha'u'llah's shorter works are referred to as "tablets") on his social teachings and the reforms that he envisaged for the world. The Book of the Covenant also belongs to this period; this work was read aloud after his passing and appointed 'Abdu'l-Baha as his successor.

Back to Origins