Unitarian Bahaism as understood and practiced in the Unitarian Bahai Association, and mainline conservative Bahaism as practiced in the Haifa-based Baha’i Faith organization, are very different from each other. Here is a list of the major differences between these two Bahai traditions.
- Terminology: Unitarian Bahais sometimes use the academic term Bahaism – in widespread popular use until a few decades ago – to refer to the Bahai faith, as a way of distinguishing between the religion itself and the Haifan Bahai organization which refers to itself as “the Baha’i Faith.” The Haifan denomination sees itself as the only legitimate form of Bahaism, and this is why they use the same term to refer both to the religion and their organization. We consider this to be an inaccurate and presumptuous conflation. Also read about dropping the apostrophe in the word Baha’i.
- Where We Meet: Unitarian Bahais mostly meet in Unitarian Universalist churches, wherever such congregations already exist, rather than in private homes. We regard UU churches and any other buildings where all-inclusive, interfaith spiritual communities meet as the Bahai mashriq al-adhkar (house of worship).
- Gay Rights: The Unitarian Bahai Association accepts openly gay and lesbian Bahais – including those in committed same-sex relationships – as fully equal members of our organization.
- Full Equality of Women: Women are eligible to be elected to the international Board of Directors of the Unitarian Bahai Association.
- Politics: The Unitarian Bahai Association does not prohibit its members from participating in partisan politics. In fact, we encourage responsible political activism and public service in democratically elected office as ways that Bahais can work to implement the social principles of the Bahai cause.
- Multiple Religious Affiliations: Many members of the Unitarian Bahai Association choose to be full members of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), which allows its members to belong to specific religious traditions and organizations in addition to the UUA. UBA members are allowed to be members of other spiritual communities as well, such as Christian churches, Islamic mosques, Jewish synagogues, Hindu or Buddhist temples, etc. All spiritual paths have value and Bahaism is not intended to nullify one’s interest or relationship with other religions. In fact, the UBA encourages its members to explore various religious traditions and practices and to attend different worship services from time to time, to develop and maintain a full appreciation for the rich tapestry of human spirituality. Read the rest of this entry »
The following article is extracted from : http://islamqa.info/en/ref/88689
Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allaah have mercy on him) wrote a brief description of Baabism and Baha’ism, which we will quote here. He (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
This is a brief description of Baabism and Baha’ism.
In their view, the word al-Baab (lit. “the Door”) refers to an ignorant Iranian individual who claimed to be a Sufi. His name was ‘Ali ibn Muhammad al-Shiraazi. He claimed that he was the door to Baha’-Allaah Mirza Husayn ‘Ali, and that he was the messenger to whom revelation came from Baha’.
The Baabis are named after him. Every time he was put under pressure and asked to repent, he repented from Baabism and claimed to be a Ja’fari, one of the Ithna-‘Ashari Shi’ah.
The Baabis held a conference one year in the desert of Dasht to announce their views and proclaim glad tidings of the awaited imam whom they claimed had appeared.
The Baabis are not all the same in their beliefs and view of the Baab, as is stated on p. 97 of the book al-Baha’iyyah Tareekhuha wa ‘Aqeedatuha wa Sillatuha bi’l-Baatiniyyah wa’l-Suhyooniyyah (Baha’ism, its History and Beliefs and its Connection with Esotericism and Zionism), by the head of the Ansaar al-Sunnah al-Muhammadiyyah organization in Egypt, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Rahmaan al-Wakeel (may Allaah have mercy on him).
In their conference there were two groups of Baabis, one of which was led by al-Bashroo’i and al-Quddoos, and the other by al-Baha’ and Qurrat al-‘Ayn, as it says on p. 98 of this book. Their gatherings were also of two types, one just for the imams (leaders) of Baabism and another for the common folk. The topic of discussion in gatherings of the leaders was Baabism’s abrogation of Islamic sharee’ah. Their ultimate view was that the Baab was greater and higher in status than all the Messengers, and that what was revealed to him of religion was more complete and more perfect than any previous revelation or religion.
As it says in pp. 99-100 of the book mentioned, Qurrat al-‘Ayn delivered a reprehensible speech in this conference when al-Bashroo’i and al-Quddoos were not present. Al-Baha’ was also absent, claiming that he was ill. He was worried about the consequences of her speech and waited to see the reaction of the delegates and whether they would reject her ideas or not. In her speech she clearly stated that the religion of Muhammad was completely abrogated by the new religion (Baha’ism) which had come to the ummah via the Baab, even though only a little of it had come so far and they were now in an interval. The ruling of Islamic sharee’ah no longer applied and it was permissible for the people – indeed prescribed for them – to share their wealth and women.
Al-Wakeel said that this was what was clearly stated by the Baha’i historian in his book al-Kawaakib al-Durriyyah (p. 180, 210). And she clearly stated in her speech that she did not believe in the resurrection.
This Qurrat al-‘Ayn was a strong proponent of their views. She issued a fatwa before she got in touch with al-Baha’, then when she got in touch with al-Baha’ she submitted to him and attributed the fatwa to him.
The Baabis carried out an armed terrorist movement in which they shed a great deal of blood and killed hundreds of people. The Iranian state opposed them and recruited troops to put an end to them, and they achieved that; they killed Baab al-Baab al-Bashroo’i and his companion al-Qudoos in 1265 AH, as stated in the book mentioned – the book of al-Wakeel – then the Shia’h scholars issued a fatwa stating that the Baab was a kaafir and an apostate, and deserved to be executed. The government ordered that he be executed and he was killed in front of the people; before that he was imprisoned in the citadel.
Having recently read Moojan Momen’s paper “Marginality and Apostasy in the Baha’i Community” in the journal “Religion”, I believe that I see a general flaw in the paper. It appears that the cases that Dr. Momen cites to support his thesis are by and large unsupportive of that thesis. This observation is based principally upon the information that Momen provides, though my own experience does enter into it.
In the interest of fair—if not full—disclosure, I was a Bahá’í until 1988, retained my membership for another decade, and have been a somewhat outspoken—though less than outstanding—apostate over the decade since. I have visited the Internet forums to which Dr. Momen refers irregularly since April 1996, and I moderate the Yahoo! ex-bahai discussion group, so I have had some contact with most of the characters to which Dr. Momen refers, but I have never met any of them in person.
Dr. Momen specifies a particular, rather unorthodox working definition for the term “apostate” in his paper: apostates are the subset of the group of people who would typically be called apostates who
1. Are involved in contested exits, and
2. Affiliate with an oppositional coalition.
I ask that the reader consider this definition while reviewing Momen’s accounts of “apostates”, though the definition itself may be somewhat ambiguous.
Dr. Momen enumerates his conclusion in six points, though one of the six appears to be twofold. Following are those points that will not be addressed herein (some have been trimmed or summarized for brevity):
1. The majority of Bahá’í apostates have characterized the Bahá’í Faith as a cult, and have been partially successful in doing so.
2. What apostates and dissidents see as bad can be seen by mainstream Bahá’ís as good. For example, what apostates see as authoritarianism in the Bahá’í Faith can be seen by “core members” as guidance.
3. The Internet has enabled apostates and dissidents to form a community, and to a degree, to organize.
4. Although in fact only one of the apostates currently holds an academic post, apostates have been very successful in their use of the academic media to present their views. Several have published books and articles in respectable venues.
5. If religious movements want to avoid apostasy, they must act at an early stage in this process.
I do not wish to address these specific assertions. I do not intend to discuss whether the Bahá’í Faith is a cult or not, or to debate the extent to which the Bahá’í Faith is exclusivist, authoritarian, or paternalistic. I do acknowledge that a number of Bahá’í apostates and dissidents have enjoyed some success in their efforts, often enabled by the Internet, but I don’t see the point in evaluating the extent of their success.
As for the last point (5) it seems as reasonable as saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” though it appears that Dr. Momen is going further and advocating early and active resistance to marginal believers and apostates. If that is the case, he is not concise enough for his assertion to be addressed in a serious manner.
Those points aside, we are left with two points which attempt to characterize the phenomena of dissidence and apostasy as they pertain to the contemporary Bahá’í community:
1. The apostates have created an apostate mythology, with its own heroes and anti-heroes. This mythology, when combined with the apostate issues, which form something of a creed that is regularly recited; the ‘captivity narratives’ are the equivalent of salvation or conversion stories; and the medium of the Internet, creating a community, amounts almost to the creation of a religion of its own. One could call it an ‘implicit religion’. But since this ‘religion’ has no independent life and exists only to oppose, it would perhaps be more accurate to call it an anti-religion.
2. … the road that leads to apostasy is usually a long one. Clashes with the central authorities in the religion over positions, actions or strategies lead to the build up of res sentiment, which is expressed in ways that, in the Baha’i community at least, leads to further clashes. Frustration leads to marginality and in turn to rejection of the religion. The accumulated hostility can then lead to apostasy…
These assertions are not obviously representative of real Bahá’í apostate communities, and must be tested against real world observations.
The Twelve Apostates
Dr. Momen mentions 17 individuals in various degrees of variance from the mainstream Bahá’í community, one of which is an enrolled but marginal Baha’i. Twelve to fourteen are considered apostates by Momen. A number of these, however, claim to be Bahá’ís, but are probably willing to accept the “marginal” label.
Here I review the primary examples that Dr. Momen provides, and attempt to determine the extent to which each conforms to Momen’s thesis.
1. K Paul Johnson
I begin chronologically with K Paul Johnson, a young Bahá’í who resigns his membership at age 20. Twenty years later he becomes a well-known author on theosophy, known for his critical but non-antagonistic research on Madame Blavastsky.
After he became established as a theosophical historian, Mr. Johnson introduced himself to the online academic Bahá’í community in the mid-1990s, seeking assistance for a forthcoming book addressing Bahá’í history. Dr. Momen accuses Mr. Johnson of “attacking core Bahá’í beliefs”, but provides no example nor even a specific reference wherewith to validate this accusation. Still, we may allow that Mr. Johnson has criticized Bahá’í beliefs: would this information support Momen’s thesis? Would it establish that Johnson is a case of ressentiment, or someone who conforms to a community myth? No, it would only establish that Johnson has criticized Bahá’í beliefs.
Mr. Johnson has not made himself known as an outspoken antagonist of the Bahá’í Faith, but thanks to Dr. Momen, Mr. Johnson may very well have that reputation from now on.
Having myself interacted with Mr. Johnson in recent years, I have found him notably disinclined to debate with Bahá’ís. He is far from an object example of Dr. Momen’s thesis. There is no known period of marginalization, and no visible expression of hatred or envy that might be born of ressentiment. Given what I have seen, I am inclined to believe that Momen did not do adequate research on Johnson. For example, Momen’s assertion that Johnson “could be called a serial apostate” seems to have no basis whatsoever.
2. Francesco Ficcicchia
Dr. Momen credits this Swiss apostate with giving the Bahá’í Faith the reputation of a cult in Germany. Dr. Momen claims that Mr. Ficcicchia was marginalized before his apostasy, but Momen does not support this assertion. He states that Ficcicchia “had been a Baha’i from 1971 to 1974, when he declared to his former fellow Baha’is that ‘you will from now on have me as an embittered enemy who will fight you with all possible means at every opportunity’”. This sudden, angry opposition does not represent a pattern of apostasy emerging from marginality. It appears more like an epiphany. As for whether any apostate community or associated myth applies to Ficcicchia’s case, Momen admits that it does not. Ficcicchia was not a member of any marginal community or coalition.
3. Denis MacEoin
I remember hearing of Mr. MacEoin as a young Bahá’í. He was the only apostate that I was aware of, other than yours truly. I remember wondering whether I had acquired a “MacEoin syndrome”.
Dr. Momen states that Dr. MacEoin “departed after clashes with the Baha’i administration.” This tells us that MacEoin may have become unhappy with the Bahá’í administration, and even the religion itself, before he disavowed it. But was his exit contested?
MacEoin was a professor of Islamic studies, and his disagreements with the Bahá’í leadership were not, however, a typical matter of personal marginalization, but rather a matter of academic controversy. Momen admits that MacEoin, like Ficcicchia, was not part of a group of dissidents or an oppositional coalition. Though both of these men are apostates, they are not apostates by Momen’s formal definition, and certainly do not fit his model.
Dr. Momen submits no argument that either Mr. Ficcicchia nor Dr. MacEoin supported a myth of lost innocence or administrative usurpation. Their criticism of the Bahá’í Faith appears all too fundamental, comprehensive, and personally conceived to fit any such mythology. Perhaps the next generation of dissidents and apostates will better fit Momen’s model.
4. Juan Cole
Yet another respected scholar and author, Dr. Cole “voiced concerns about certain aspects of Bahá’í administration”, and upon being confronted by the Bahá’í leadership, resigned his membership amid much debate and controversy, but before long turned his attention to world affairs. I see him often on TV, discussing the Iraq war as an expert-for-hire. Again, this is not a picture of all-consuming ressentiment. This man, hardly a marginal sponge for community myths, has moved on. It seems to me that Dr. Momen ought to have recognized this, and left Professor Cole out of the picture.
5. William Garlington
Mr. Garlington is an Ex-Bahá’í author who, as far as I am aware, is not associated with a community of apostates, and Dr. Momen does not indicate anything to the contrary. Momen asserts than Garlington presented a biased weighting of the issues of the American Bahá’í community in his book The Bahá’í Faith in America, but he makes no claim that Garlington ever made any false statements or exibited any envy, hatred, or any other behavior that might be born of ressentiment.
“I believe in Baha’u’llah; I just don’t believe in that other stuff” is a common refrain heard among disillusioned, inactive, and unenrolled Baha’is. To believe in Baha’u’llah is to accept His Writings as the Revelation of God. The “other stuff” is Baha’i administration.
How did administration come to hold such a central place in the Baha’i community? The first generation of Baha’is in this country were free-wheeling seekers of truth, who looked upon their new-found faith as “the spirit of the age”, and thought nothing of participating in the worship services of Christian churches, or in mixing with Theosophists and other New Thought groups. How did their descendents become servants of an inward-looking bureaucracy?
To answer that question requires a quick look at Baha’i history:
Baha’u’llah had two concerns when he laid out the instructions for how his religion was to be governed: The first was that it was not to be ruled by professional clerics, but by the consultations of elected bodies. So he instructed his followers, in his Writings, to elect “Houses of Justice”(currently called Local Spiritual Assemblies) to consist of nine people in every city. The religion as a whole would be governed by a Universal House of Justice.
The second concern was for the unity of his faith, that it would not be divided into various sects. In his will, called “The Book of the Covenant” he appointed his eldest son, ‘Abdu’l-Baha, to be the leader of his faith and the interpreter of his Writings. The existence of a scripturally mandated central authority was meant to prevent major schisms in the religion, and has, for the most part, been successful.(There have been, throughout Baha’i history, small groups that have challenged the central Baha’i authority, but none of these have ever been viable threats to the Baha’i mainstream.)
There was little administrative development under the ministries of Baha’u’llah or ‘Abdu’l-Baha. However, ‘Abdu’l-Baha, in His Will and Testament, established the institution of the Guardianship, a hereditary office whose occupant is both the chief executive of the religion and the authorized interpreter of the Writings. The Guardian, along with the legislative body, the Universal House of Justice,would work together in governing the affairs of the Faith. This Will also appointed his eldest grandson, Shoghi Effendi Rabbani, as the first Guardian. Since all of Shoghi Effendi’s relatives were excommunicated, and he had no children, there was no one left to fill this hereditary office when he died in 1957. The Universal House of Justice was elected in 1963, but the administrative directives laid down by Shoghi Effendi are still closely followed. It is, in fact, very difficult to reform any of them, since as Guardian, he is popularly regarded as infallible.
Baha’i administration does not develop according to the needs of the community for organization, but exists as a goal in itself. In fact, many Baha’is believe that these institutions will evolve into a future world theocracy, so that in creating them, they are actually engaged in “saving” the world.
Baha’i scholars, however, have questioned this theocratic model, pointing to evidence that Baha’u’llah himself actually supported the separation of church and state. (See Juan R.I. Cole’s book “Modernity and the Millennium” for an excellent presentation of Baha’u’llah’s political thought.)
A Local Spiritual Assembly(LSA) will be formed as soon as there are nine adult members in a locality, so it is not uncommon for virtually all the active community members to be serving on it. (It is also not unheard of for inactive members to be elected to an LSA, if the community is so small there is no one else to elect.)In such a situation, it is almost impossible to be an active member and not be involved in the administration. Even brand-new converts are frequently put on Assemblies.
There are warnings against over-administration in Shoghi Effendi’s writings, but it can scarcely be avoided when the formation of an Assembly is the first thing a community is expected to do. In fact, Baha’i missionaries, called “pioneers” will relocate primarily in order to help form an LSA — going to a community that already has seven or eight members. (Those with less than nine members are encouraged to organize as a “group”, which includes electing officers.)
Another very odd regulation is the way that localities are divided up. Localities are determined by already existing government bounderies, so that the Baha’i population, no matter how small, existing within a city limit makes up one Baha’i community. Baha’is who reside outside that city limit make up another, separate community. For example, during my first year as a Baha’i, there were eight Baha’is in the city, and three in the surrounding court district that were expected to organize separately. Yet, so important was the formation of the city Assembly considered, that the first question I was asked when I was showing an interest in the Baha’i Faith was whether or not I lived in the city limits.
I personally know of people that have begged the National Spiritual Assembly to do away with this ridiculous and unnecessary roadblock in the way a small, struggling communities. But such pleas have fallen on deaf ears. It is difficult not to believe that this is done primarily to make the statistics look good. The Baha’i Faith claims to have over 1700 LSAs in this country, and no one on the outside would ever suspect that many, perhaps most, of them really have no community to manage, except for the Assembly members themselves.
The National Baha’i Center in Wilmette, IL claims that there are 140,000 Baha’is in the United States. However, it is almost axiomatic among Baha’is that half of the Faith’s enrolled members are inactive. In fact, the reality may be even worse than that. One independent poll on American religions estimated that there are only 28,000 people in this country who consider themselves Baha’is.
One reason for this huge discrepancy is that no one is ever removed from the membership rolls unless they write a letter to the National Center renouncing their belief. So a person who becomes disillusioned and simply drifts away can remain on the rolls indefinitely. While the 28,000 figure is probably low, the Baha’i assumption that there are thousands of people who consider themselves Baha’is but have no contact with the community is not realistic. (There is the possibility that some do maintain their belief in isolation, but there are not likely to be many who do so.)
What I propose to examine here are the possible reasons for that. This article is not based on scientific data, but my own observations. I would not have the resources to research something like this, even if I had the training. However, I did spend thirteen years in the Baha’i community, and watch a lot of people come and go. Also, the Internet is rife with “ex-Baha’i” stories, and I think the Baha’i community can learn something from what these people are saying. The teachings of the Baha’i Faith — the unity of religion, the individual’s right to investigate truth, racial harmony , and the agreement of reason and religion — have a wide appeal. The Baha’i Faith appears to be a religion that is wasting its potential.
I have no way of knowing which of the problems I mention is responsible for the greatest amount of convert dissatisfaction, I have therefore put them in the order that a convert is likely to encounter them:
THE FALSE FRONT
The Baha’i Faith, in its public presentations, emphasizes the more broad and tolerant aspects of Baha’u’llah’s teachings. The itself is not dishonest, since those liberal teachings are actually present in Baha’i scripture, and historically, converts into the Faith have been from among more open-minded and educated people. However, these free-spirited seekers often do not find out about the more authoritarian and exclusive aspects of Baha’i thought until after they have enrolled.
There are a few things commonly told to converts that can hardly be seen as anything other than deceptions. (To be fair, however, Baha’is often convince themselves that they are true.) One example is that the public is told that Baha’is do not proselytize; they merely teach the Faith as long as a person is interested. However, the new believer soon discovers that community life is centered around the need to gain new converts, and finds himself pressured into “teaching” plans and projects. So a person who has perhaps always held a dim view of those who try to push their religious beliefs on others now must participate in exactly that type of activity. It is hardly surprising that some of them decide that they’ve made a mistake.
One convert who rapidly left after discovering this called the Baha’i Faith “the Amway of religions.” Another more bluntly said “No proselytizing, my rear end!”
Another example is the exclusion of women from the Universal House of Justice, the religion’s supreme governing body, even though equality of the sexes is promoted as a fundamental principle. That fact also can come as a shock to a new convert, and perhaps cause them to leave. [For a more detailed look at this issue, see my Themestream article “But Some are More Equal than Others”.]
UNSATISFYING COMMUNITY LIFE
One of the least understood aspects of the Baha’i Faith by the general public is the central place administration holds in Baha’i community life. Life as a Baha’i can seem like an endless series of frustrating committee meetings. Building a multitude of LSAs scattered geographically all over the country has taken priority over building solid communities. Once a community has the nine adults necessary to form an Assembly it can be left virtually on its own. In fact, Assemblies exist on paper that never actually meet because not enough of the people in the community are active. But such Assemblies are counted in the impressive statistics given to the public.
The vast majority of Baha’i communities are too small to offer much in the way of services. In an era when mega churches that provide something for everyone are all the rage, the Baha’is look pretty thin. In a very small community, sometimes just getting together for any activity at all can be difficult. Baha’is are often enjoined to be patient, and told that the Faith is only in its infancy. Realistically, however, a religious movement that has been part of the American scene for the last 100 years can hardly continue the claim that it is “embryonic”. The simple fact is that the Baha’i Faith has just done a terrible job in creating a rich and rewarding community life for its members, and many of them drift away for that reason.
On the bright side, however, there has been some recognition of this problem on the part of the Baha’i institutions, and in some areas, greater efforts towards community development have been made.
SANCTIONS AND PUNISHMENTS
Like Judaism and Islam, the Baha’i Faith has a religious law code that adherents are expected to abide by. Persistent, public, and continued violation of one of these laws (for example, drinking alcohol, or cohabitation without marriage) can result in sanctions, most commonly the removal of administrative rights. A person so sanctioned cannot participate in any administrative activity, including Feast, the main worship service. This can prove to be an extremely alienating experience, and can result in a person leaving the Baha’i Faith altogether. Even the threat of such sanctions can be the cause of disillusionment. Also, unfortunately, some Baha’is feel it is their duty to “turn in” people who are not living up to Baha’i standards.
The most common reason for a Baha’i to be sanctioned is failure to have a Baha’i marriage ceremony, which requires the consent of all living parents. Baha’is who are married before conversion don’t have to face this, but for those who marry afterwards will not be recognized as being married unless they do so in a Baha’i ceremony. If parental permission is withheld, for whatever reason (including animosity to the Baha’i Faith itself), then a person is left with the choice of either abandoning one’s intended marriage partner or facing sanction by his religious community.
INTIMIDATION BY BAHA’I AUTHORITIES
There are abundant stories on the Internet that tell of Baha’is leaving after an encounter with a Counselor or Auxiliary Board Member (ABM). These appointed officials have the responsibility for the “protection and propagation of the Faith”. It is primarily those who have responsibiltiy for “protection” that show up to investigate cases of possible impropriety. The primary target of these officials are people who are showing an interest in one of the small Baha’i sects, known to mainstream Baha’is as “covenant-breakers”. Opposition to the current head of the faith, the Universal House of Justice, is considered to be a spiritual illness, that could possibly be contagious, so the news that someone is reading their material and openly discussing it will almost certainly bring an ABM into the community who will investigate, warn, and threaten with shunning, a person who fails to abandon such contacts.
However, with the advent of the Internet, “protection” duties will also include the monitoring of email traffic for anything that seems heterodox. The most notorious incident of this was the Talisman crackdown in 1996, where professors and intellectuals were threatened with shunning for statements made on an email forum.
Besides associating with schismatics, or email heresy,a Baha’i can attract the attention of Baha’i authorities simply for oral statements, or being seen as a “charismatic leader”. Independent and innovative thinking are viewed with suspicion, with submission to the institutions viewed as a fundamental value. This can drive some of the more talented members away from the Faith.
Author’s note: This article first appeared in Themestream December 8, 2000.
As a Bahá’í youth, I remember not being impressed with the photographs I had seen of Bahá’u’lláh. Having grown up with charming images of `Abdu’l-Bahá, my expectations were high, and unfair to Bahá’u’lláh.
Portraits of `Abdu’l-Bahá are as common as the Virgin Mary in Bahá’í households, and they have guidelines for posting these portraits in a respectful manner. In spite of this idolatrous practice, Bahá’ís consider themselves special for not displaying portraits of Bahá’u’lláh!
I don’t intend to criticize Bahá’u’lláh for his lack of physical charm. There is certainly no absolute need for a Manifestation of God to have a warm, charming appearance, but when I hear Bahá’ís wonder at the attractiveness of `Abdu’l-Bahá, I am moved to ask, why do you place significance on such matters?
I can’t help but be skeptical regarding the motives behind the Bahá’í prohibition against portraits of Prophets. Given the Bahá’í affection for graven images, I’m inclined to wonder whether the prohibition would have ever been laid down had Bahá’u’lláh been better looking.
Bahá’ís are told not to keep photos of their Prophets because such photos could too easily become idols; believers would focus on the appearance of their prophet, and be distracted from his message.
Yet, the anticipation of Bahá’ís to view the one Holy Image in the International Archives Building in Israel is only heightened by that prohibition of graven images, and Bahá’ís shudder at the prospect of seeing the image of Bahá where they ought not, as though the image itself has some kind of ominous power!
Written by an Unimpressed Bahai
Still Bahais claims that there are no sects in Bahai Faith.
And there are no conflicts among the Bahais….and bla bla bla….