Ishraqat – What is Religion For?

Gardens of the Mansion of Mazra'ih - Ishraqat

In Ishraqat we also find an explicit discussion of the purpose of religion. The fact that Bahá’u’lláh has set this out in such explicit terms is another of the unique aspects of his life’s work as a prophet. The purpose of religion … is to establish unity and concord amongst the peoples of the world; make it not the cause…

Ishraqat – Universal Education, World Language and Global Institution

Ridvan garden entrance - ishraqat

The work Ishraqat is a rich source of key teachings of Bahá’u’lláh. Among them are universal education, a world language and the establishment of the Universal House of Justice, the international governing council of the Baha’i Faith. Both Universal Education and a World Language are later identified by Abdu’l Baha as key principles of the Baha’I Faith.  The Universal House…

Ishraqat – Religion, Peace and Wisdom

Garden of Ridvan - Ishraqat

Ishraqat, like Tajalliyat, is a letter written by Bahá’u’lláh to one of his followers. Today, Bahá’u’lláh’s works are collected together and translated into many languages. It was not so when these works were created by Bahá’u’lláh. The Baha’i Faith was suppressed and it was dangerous to even possess such writings. They had to be carried in secret over thousands of…

The Divine Lote Tree Beyond Which There is No Passing

trees

In the previous article, we saw that the first Tajalli, of Bahá’u’lláh’s four Tajalliyat, draws on the symbol of the “Spirit of Truth” found in Christian scriptures. The fourth Tajalli discusses similar concepts to those in the first Tajalli, but using different symbols – in this case from Islamic scripture. The fourth Tajallí is concerning Divinity, Godhead and the like. Were a…

Tajalliyat – Radiant Lights and the Spirit of Truth

tajalliyat

Tajalliyat is a work written by Bahá’u’lláh to one of his followers. It starts with a preamble in Arabic and then switches to Persian so that the Persian people may “become aware of the utterances of the Merciful Lord” and “discover the truth”. We have seen that the question of language is one which arises repeatedly in Bahá’u’lláh’s writings. Bahá’u’lláh…

Tablet of Wisdom: dimensions of a life of wisdom

In the Tablet of Wisdom we have already seen an exploration of the harmony of science and religion. This article seeks to explore some of the ways we might understand “wisdom” from the discourse that Bahá’u’lláh unfolds in this work. Initially we may observe that part of wisdom is to appreciate that there is more to reality that the purely…

The Prophet and the Philosophers

prophet and philosophers

Bahá’u’lláh does an unusual (perhaps unique) thing for a prophet – he writes about philosophers and philosophy. There may be a precedent somewhere in human history, but if so, I haven’t yet been able to discover it. In fairness though, this has not prevented the flourishing of philosophy and science in the past. For example, despite parochial assumptions sometimes entertained…

Bahá’u’lláh is freed from the Prison City

The circumstances in which Bahá’u’lláh was freed from the prison city of Akka provide a remarkable contrast from the circumstances in which he was condemned to perpetual exile within its walls. Secular and religious opponents had brought it about. Nine years had passed since that imprisonment and over the years he had become a revered and loved figure in the…

Water Restored to Akka and Service to the Community

akka aqueduct restoring water

As time went on the people of Akka began to see the true character of Bahá’u’lláh and his followers. The initial contempt and hatred with which they had been greeted on entering the city changed into respect and even reliance. Bahá’u’lláh in this period largely ceased the open association he had followed with the people until their time in Adrianople and…

Systems Thinking in Bahá’u’lláh’s Teachings

weather systems thinking

The technological age in which we live is founded, among other things, on an analytical way of understanding the world. At the risk of over-simplification, reality is broken into discrete parts which can be understood in isolation from each other. For certain problem types, it is a very useful way of thinking that has produced many beneficial results. That success needs…

The Universal House of Justice and an ever changing world

Seat of the Universal House of Justice

The writings of Bahá’u’lláh are a very considerable religious corpus. Yet within those writings Bahá’u’lláh provides for the guidance and unfoldment of the Baha’i community over the centuries that would follow his passing. Thus in the Kitab-i-Aqdas, his book of laws, he writes: Let not your hearts be perturbed, O people, when the glory of My Presence is withdrawn, and the ocean of My utterance…

Manifestation of God and the Relativity of Religious Truth

manifestation of god

In this series of articles the term “messengers” or “prophet” is generally the one used when referring to figures such as Bahá’u’lláh, Buddha, Jesus or Muhammad. Yet such terms are inadequate, as the previous article, on the Word of God, illustrated. The exact nature of the prophetic figure has indeed been a point of disagreement within and between religions. As…