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COLLECTIONPublished articles
TITLEThe Word Bahá': Quintessence of the Greatest Name of God
AUTHOR 1Stephen Lambden
TITLE_PARENTJournal of Bahá'í Studies
PUB_THISAssociation for Bahá'í Studies North America
ABSTRACTThe Arabic word bahá' — meaning beauty, excellence, goodliness, majesty, glory, splendor, brilliancy, and many others — was a term of considerable import in Islamic and Bábi literature, and was occasionally seen in prophetic or messianic contexts.
NOTES Earlier version published in Bahá'í Studies Review 3:1 (1993). See also scan of original. See also
TAGS- Buddhism; - Christianity; - Hinduism; - Interfaith dialogue; - Islam; - Judaism; - Zoroastrianism; Bahá (word); Glory (general); Greatest Name; Tetragrammaton
About: This article is an attempt to explore some linguistic, historical, and theological aspects of the Arabic word bahá' which is viewed by Bahá'ís as the quintessence of the greatest name of God, one form of which is the title Bahá'u'lláh. Considered alone, the word bahá' is a verbal noun meaning, among other things, "beauty," "excellence," "goodliness," "divine majesty," radiant "glory," "splendor," "light," and "brilliancy." There exist a wide range of other nominal and verbal senses also. It was at the 1848 Bábi conference of Badasht that Mírzá Husayn-‘Alí Núrí (1817-1892), the Founder of the Bahá'í Faith and a one-time leading Bábi, bestowed a new name upon each of the 81 (= 9x9) participants. He himself, to quote The Dawn-Breakers (Táríkh-i-Zarandí), "was henceforth designated by the name of Bahá (Dawnbreakers, p. 293). Bahá'u'lláh thus, from very early on — while outwardly a leading Bábi or Sufi dervish—sometimes used the word/title (Jináb-i) Bahá' as a personal designation or proper name. It shall be illustrated below that the word bahá' was a term of considerable importance in Islamic and Bábi literatures. On occasion, it occurred in contexts that had, or came to be interpreted as having, prophetic and messianic import.
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