For a collection of brief notes on Bahá'u'lláh's life and station, see Lights of Guidance 471-7; on some of Bahá'u'lláh's teachings, see 477-84.
¶11.1. Bahá'u'lláh's Life and Mission
Bahá'ís believe that Bahá'u'lláh, 1817-1892, the Prophet-Founder of the Bahá'í Faith, has revealed the religion for the next stage of humanity's continuing spiritual evolution. His mission differs from that of previous Manifestations, however, in that with his revelation the preceding cycle of prophethood, the Adamic Cycle, came to an end and a new cycle, the Bahá'í Era, was inaugurated. Bahá'u'lláh marks the end of the "Prophetic Era" and the beginning of the "Era of Fulfillment."
Bahá'u'lláh writes of his own life in Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, 303-85 (Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, in toto); 426 (Gleanings, XLI-XLII); 429-434 (Gleanings, XLV-LIV); 437-44 (Gleanings, LIX-LXVII); 446-48 (Gleanings, LXXXI-LXXXII). Geoffrey W. Marks compiled autobiographical statements of Bahá'u'lláh, with occasional notes, in one source, Call to Remembrance. 'Abdu'l-Bahá describes Bahá'u'lláh's sufferings and their significance in Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, 259-64.
Esslemont, 23-48; 234-43 Huddleston, 190-204 Faizi, 8-17 Momen, 119-25 Ferraby, 50-67, 203-23 Smith 1987, 57-70 Hatcher and Martin, 28-49 Smith 1996, 51-63
No biography of Bahá'u'lláh, utilizing the methods or addressing the concerns of modern scholarship, has been written. Only one scholarly effort has been made to set Bahá'u'lláh in the social and historical context of his times: Juan R. Cole's "Iranian Millenarianism and Democratic Thought in the 19th Century," published in The International Journal of Middle East Studies, 24 (1992): 1-26. A very useful biography, however, has been written by Hasan Balyuzi titled Bahá'u'lláh: The King of Glory. Taherzadeh's four-volume Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh is also very useful, though the quantity of other details is so great that it is difficult to follow Bahá'u'lláh's life. A compilation of Bahá'í scripture on the life of Bahá'u'lláh has been published titled Call to Remembrance. David S. Ruhe examines Bahá'u'lláh's early years in Robe of Light: The Persian Years of the Supreme Prophet Bahá'u'lláh. Descriptions of encounters between Bahá'u'lláh and Westerners have been published in Moojan Momen, The Bábí and Bahá'í Religions, 1844-1944: Some Contemporary Western Accounts.
Stephen Lambden and Christopher Buck have each examined the evolving nature of Bahá'u'lláh's claims; Buck examines Bahá'u'lláh's claims regarding his station in the Baghdad period in Symbol and Secret: Qur'an Commentary in Bahá'u'lláh's Kitáb-i-Íqán: Studies in the Bábí and Bahá'í Religions, volume 7, 54-74, and Lambden the claims of the subsequent period in "Some Notes on Bahá'u'lláh's Gradually Evolving Claims of the Adrianople/Edirne Period," in Bahá'í Studies Bulletin, 5.3-6.1 (June 1991): 75-83. Buck also attempts a broad-scope analysis of the development of Bahá'u'lláh's mission in "Bahá'u'lláh as 'World-Reformer,'" in Journal of Bahá'í Studies, 3.4 (Dec. 1990-Mar. 1991). Kent Beveridge has examined one specific period of Bahá'u'lláh's life, the 1868 trip from Adrianople to 'Akká, in his "From Adrianople to 'Akká: The Australian Lloyd," in Bahá'í Studies Bulletin, 4.1 (Mar. 1986).
¶11.2. Bahá'u'lláh's Writings
Taherzadeh's series Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh is by far the most extensive source of information on Bahá'u'lláh's various writings, giving details such as when they were revealed, to whom, and under what circumstances. Unfortunately the work has no information on the Middle Eastern social and historical context of Bahá'u'lláh, and how that context influenced his writings, and is not written critically, from a scholarly point of view, and thus must be used carefully. Extensive historical-critical scholarship on Bahá'u'lláh's writings remains to be done (for one scholarly article, see Juan Cole's "Iranian Millenarianism and Democratic Thought in the 19th Century").
Much of Bahá'u'lláh's writings in English translation--save parts of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, The Proclamation of Bahá'u'lláh, and Bahá'í Prayers--have been assembled into a single collection titled Writings of Bahá'u'lláh. Bahá'u'lláh's most important book, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, was first published in early 1993. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, 138-41, 171-76, 205-20, summarizes Bahá'u'lláh's major works very succinctly and skillfully. The "Leiden List" of Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, below, is a nascent annotated bibliography of his major writings.
Esslemont, 48-49 Huddleston, 196, 200-204 Ferraby, 50-67, 221 Smith 1987, 72-85 Hatcher and Martin, 37, 43-47, 84-85 Smith 1996, 64-73
Commentaries on Bahá'u'lláh's writings are still rarely done by Bahá'ís, though the number appearing in recent years has increased, and the trend is toward higher quality. Robert McLaughlin's These Perspicuous Verses is a short commentary on three pages of Bahá'u'lláh's work titled the Tablet of Ishráqát. Michael Sours recently published A Study of Bahá'u'lláh's Tablet to the Christians. Ross Woodman has assembled two excellent commentaries, A Bahá'í Academy Course on the Gleanings and A Bahá'í Academy Course on the Kitáb-i-Íqán. Christopher Buck's Symbol and Secret: Studies in the Bábí and Bahá'í Religions, volume 7, a study of Bahá'u'lláh's Kitáb-i-Íqán, is the fullest examination of a single Bahá'í text yet published. Suheil Bushrui's The Style of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas is a shorter examination on the literary aesthetics of Bahá'u'lláh's Kitáb-i-Aqdas.
All members of the Bahá'í religion are members of its community. Bahá'u'lláh laid down a few basic principles about the organization of his followers: they were to have no clergy; they were to form governing bodies called houses of justice in each locality; they were to celebrate certain holy days together; and they were to consult together about community and personal affairs. 'Abdu'l-Bahá introduced the monthly community meeting called feast and added a few more Bahá'í holy days. Shoghi Effendi defined how the houses of justice (temporarily called spiritual assemblies) were to function and added a business portion to the feast. Individual Bahá'ís have written surprisingly little about Bahá'í community life.
Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, 160 (Synopsis and Codification extract 5 / Aqdas paragraph 30); 162 (Synopsis and Codification extract 9 / Aqdas paragraph 52); 169 (Synopsis and Codification extract 169 / Aqdas paragraph 173); 182 (fifth Glad-Tidings, in Tablets 22-23); 184 (thirteenth Glad-Tidings, in Tablets 26-27); 185 (fifteenth Glad-Tidings, in Tablets p. 28); 203-4 (eighth and ninth leaves of Paradise, in Tablets 68-71); 234-35 (sixth, seventh, and eighth Ishráq, in Tablets 127-129); prayer for the Hands of the Cause, in the Malaysian Prayer Book, page 37. Relevant quotations from 'Abdu'l-Bahá can be found in Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, 89-94. Lights of Guidance, 2-14, 43-62, 77-87, 239-48, has notes on a variety of topics of community.
Ferraby, 263-67 Huddleston, 125-27, 132-34 Hatcher and Martin, 151-52, 166-86 Momen, 47-8, 55, 64, 67-82
Robert Stockman examines the composition of the early American Bahá'í community by distinguishing and describing a few believer-types in "The American Bahá'í Identity, 1894-1921," in Bahá'í Studies Bulletin, 6.4-7.2 (Oct. [Dec.] 1992). One of the most useful non-academic presentations of Bahá'í community life is Colette Gouvion and Philippe Jouvion's The Gardeners of God: An Encounter with Five Million Bahá'ís. Written in a journalistic style and from a non-Bahá'í viewpoint, it presents a fair and complete description of the Bahá'í world community and its attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.
A crucial Bahá'í principle is consultation. It is actually a complex of attitudes toward people, toward ideas, and toward truth itself that guides the way Bahá'ís discuss issues and arrive at decisions. The literature on consultation is expanding rapidly, and it is coming to be recognized as a major Bahá'í principle, as well as a potentially significant Bahá'í contribution to the outside world.
Writings from Bahá'u'lláh, 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Shoghi Effendi, and the Universal House of Justice are contained in Consultation: A Compilation, which is reprinted in Compilation of Compilations, volume I. See also Lights of Guidance, 176-80.
Esslemont, 266-69 Hatcher and Martin, 161-63 Faizi, 100-3 Huddleston, 121-24 Ferraby, 267-68 Momen, 47, 78-80
One basic work on the Bahá'í approach is John Kolstoe's Consultation: A Universal Lamp of Guidance. An attempt to bring consultation to the business world is exhibited in Robert B. Rosenfeld and Michael H. Winger-Bearskin, "Principles of Consultation Applied to the Process of Innovation in a Corporate Environment," in Journal of Bahá'í Studies, 3.1 (1990-1991): 31-48.
Bahá'ís are encouraged strongly to teach their religion to others but must not pressure or coerce others into accepting it. The conversion process involves no ritual; those who accept Bahá'u'lláh as the Manifestation of God for this day are seen as Bahá'ís and if they are aware that Bahá'u'lláh revealed laws they must obey, they are usually enrolled as members of the Bahá'í community.
Lights of Guidance discusses topics of conversion, especially teaching, in 565-600.
Esslemont, 79-80 Momen, 103-30 Ferraby, 290-96 Smith 1987, 79, 87-8, 93-4, 146, 157-9 Hatcher and Martin, 172-76 Smith 1996, 88, 122 Huddleston, 130-32, 234-35
The most complete study of Bahá'í conversion practices and patterns is Arthus Hampson's doctoral dissertation The Growth and Spread of the Bahá'í Faith, a lengthy sociological study of the history and pattern of the Faith's diffusion around the world. A fair number of short academic studies of Bahá'í conversion are also available, usually done by non-Bahá'ís. These include Chana Ullman's The Transformed Self: The Psychology of Religious Conversion, which analyzes two personal accounts of conversion to the Bahá'í Faith in pages 95-103; Peter Smith's and Moojan Momen's "The Bahá'í Faith 1957-1988: A Survey of Contemporary Developments," in Religion 19 (Jan. 1989); James J. Keene's highly statistical anthropological study of conversion patterns "Baha'i World Faith: Redefinition of Religion," in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 6:2 (1967), and a brief critical response to this piece by Agehananda Bharati, "Baha'i Statistics and Self-Defining Design," in ibid., 7 (1968).
Susan Stiles' "Early Zoroastrian Conversions in Iran" and Peter Smith's "The Bábí Movement: A Resource Mobilization Perspective" describe conversions in nineteenth-century Iran; Robert Stockman's The Bahá'í Faith in America, volume 1 and Peter Smith's "The American Bahá'í Community 1894-1917: a Preliminary Survey," describe the process of conversion in the early twentieth-century United States. Peter Berger's doctoral dissertation, From Sect to Church: a Sociological Interpretation of the Bahá'í Movement has an excellent description of the types of people who became Bahá'ís in the United States in the 1950s. Peter Smith offers a variety of comments on Berger's work in "Motif Research: Peter Berger and the Bahá'í Faith," in Religion, 8 (Autumn 1978). William Garlington's dissertation The Bahá'í Faith in Malwa: A Study of a Contemporary Religious Movement, abridged as "Bahá'í Conversions in Malwa, Central India," in Moojan Momen, From Iran East and West: Studies in Bábí and Bahá'í History, volume 2, examines the doctrines and institutions of the Faith "as implemented in a specific cultural environment."
Many popular works address the approach Bahá'ís use in teaching their religion. Two compilations of passages from the Bahá'í writings are particularly useful: The Individual and Teaching: Raising the Divine Call and A Special Measure of Love: The Importance and Nature of the Teaching Work among the Masses. Nathan Rutstein's Spirit in Action: Teaching the Bahá'í Faith is an attempt to produce a manual to assist Bahá'ís to teach their religion more effectively. Learning About Growth: The Story of the Ruhi Institute and Large-Scale Expansion of the Bahá'í Faith in Columbia describes the efforts that caused large-scale enrollments to the Bahá'í Faith in Colombia, for the purpose of assisting Bahá'ís to apply the techniques elsewhere.
The Bahá'í Faith recognizes two covenants: the Greater Covenant, a promise God has made to humanity to send Manifestations (see progressive revelation); and the Lesser Covenant, that the Bahá'í religion will never suffer schism and sect formation. The Lesser Covenant is embodied in 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Shoghi Effendi, and the Bahá'í Administrative Order, a chain of individuals and institutions whom the Bahá'í world obeys. Its import can partly be gleaned from the number of compilations on it (below).
Relevant passages can be found in Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, 278-80 (Book of the Covenant, also in Tablets 219-223); 539 (Gleanings, CLXVI) and 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, 209-64. A compilation of Bahá'í scriptures on the Covenant has been published under the title The Covenant, which is included in Compilation of Compilations, volume I. Many of the passages in the Bahá'í scriptures on the Covenant have been compiled into a single slim work titled The Power of the Covenant. There is an excellent series in three small volumes also called The Power of the Covenant that describes the Bahá'í concept of the covenant as it relates to the Bahá'í administrative order, the problem of covenant-breaking, and opposition to the Bahá'í Faith. See also Lights of Guidance, 181-91.
Esslemont, 128-31 Momen, 77-8 Ferraby, 241-55 Smith 1987, 73-4, 111, 113-14 Hatcher and Martin, 127-33 Smith 1996, 154-5 Huddleston, 140-41
The only history and overview of the Covenant yet written is Adib Taherzadeh's The Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh; it is significant because it describes in considerable detail, never published previously, the various efforts to break the Covenant and the strategies pursued by the successive Heads of the Faith to maintain Bahá'í unity.