Baha'i Library Online

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COLLECTIONSPublished articles, Chronologies/genealogies
TITLEIslam and the Bahá'í Faith: A Brief Guide
AUTHOR 1Duane Troxel
ABSTRACTAn overview of some facts and resources about Islam Bahá'ís should know when conversing with Muslims. Includes chronology of Islam.
NOTES This is a revision of a paper published in Deepen Magazine in 1992 under the title "Islam for Bahá'ís."

Also available as PDF (1.5MB) of the original printed version from the published magazine.

TAGS- Interfaith dialogue; - Islam
    Purpose of this Guide
    Chronology of Islam
    Purpose of this Guide
    The Goals of this Presentation
    Warning Against Teaching Middle-Eastern Muslims
    Prejudice Towards Islam
    Islam and the Life of Muhammad
    Recommended Reading: an Annotated Bibliography
    For a fully-formatted version of the original magazine, with graphics, download the PDF (1.5MB)


The purpose of this guide was to permit Bahá'ís with little knowledge of Islam to give accurate presentations to other Bahá'ís on the Bahá'í view of Islam and its relation to their Faith.

Subjects covered: Importance of Islam to Bahá'ís; Prejudice against Islam in Western literature; Islam's place in Progressive Revelation; Life of Muhammad; the Qur'án; the Sunni-Shi'ah split; Immate; 1st Imam; 3rd Imam; 6th Imam, and 12th Imam. Guide also includes a chronology of Islam, notes and an annotated bibliography or recommended sources for further study. The Persian pronunciation of Islamic terms is given throughout as are the definitions for common terms such as "Sunni", "Shi'ah", etc.

The paper includes an annotated bibliography on the most useful works reviewed by the author.


c570 AD Birth of Muhammad. The Qur'án gives the year of the "Elephant", (105:1-5) as His birthdate.. This year refers to a military engagement in which elephants were employed in battle.

595 AD Muhammad married Khadijah Bint Khuwaylid who bore Him four sons (all of whom died in infancy), and four daughters, none of whom lived to age 30.

610 AD Muhammad receives a revelation on Mr. Hira. The Qur'án calls it the "Night of Qadr", or "night of power". (97:1-5). His wife Khadijah becomes the first to believe in Him.

610-613 AD Muhammad remains publicly silent as to the nature of His Mission.

614 AD Muhammad begins to teach His new Faith and proclaims Himself to be the Prophet of God.

615 AD Some of Muhammad's followers emigrate to Abysinnia (today called Ethiopia).

616-618 AD Boycott imposed on Muhammad and His followers by Meccans. 'Umar is converted to Islam.

619 AD Khadijah dies. Abu Talib, Muhammad's uncle and protector, also dies.

619 AD Muhammad goes south to the city of Taif to teach His Faith but is stoned and driven from the town.

620 AD Muhammad experiences the "Night Journey" ('Miraj'), a dream or vision in which He is transported to the Haram--the platform on which the Dome of the Rock stands today--in Jerusalem and from there to into heaven. Six visitors from Yathrib (today called Medina) accept Muhammad.

621 AD Muhammad sends a believer to Yathrib (Medina) to teach His new converts.

622 AD July 15th is given as the traditional date on which Muhammad 'emigrates' ('hegira') to Yathrib (Medina). 622 begins the Muslim lunar calendar as 1 A.H. (A.H.="After the Hegira").

623 AD Battle of Badr. Read (3:123). Muhammad and His followers rout a numerically superior Meccan army.

625 AD Battle of Uhud takes place on the western outskirts of Medina.. Muhammad and His followers lose to the Meccans.

626 AD January - Husayn born to 'Ali and Fatimah, Muhammad's son-in-law and daughter. Husayn is to become the Third Imam of Shi'ih Islam. M&TCOI, p.92.

627 AD "Battle of the Trench". Siege of Yathrib (Medina) by Meccans foiled by the military tactic of digging a trench around most of the city.

628-9 AD Muhammad enters in to a ten year truce with the Meccans called the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah.

630 AD Muhammad marches on Mecca with 10,000 men. Battle of Hunayn fought 31 January.

632 AD Death of the Prophet's son Ibrahim. Muhammad's last pilgrimage to Mecca. June 8th, traditional date on which Muhammad dies in 'A'isha's (3rd wife) arms.


How important is the study of Islam to Bahá'ís? The Guardian, Shoghi Effendi, said that for 'a proper and sound understanding of the Cause' its study was 'absolutely indispensable.'[1]

On another occasion the Guardian wrote:

'The mission of the American Bahá'ís is, no doubt to eventually establish the truth of Islam in the West.'[2]

Historically the Bahá'í Faith arose within an Islamic environment. The Báb, Bahá'u'lláh, and 'Abdu'l-Bahá were born in Persia (Iran), a Muslim country. For about fifty years (1844-1894) most converts to the Bábí and Bahá'í religions were Muslims. Many of the arguments and proofs used by the Báb, Bahá'u'lláh, and 'Abdu'l-Bahá in the Sacred Writings derive from the Qur'án and the teachings and traditions of Shi'ah Islam.

The concept of Progressive Revelation, the teaching that each of the world's major religions comes from the same God to progressively educate mankind socially and spiritually makes the study of Islam especially important to Bahá'ís. Islam is the Dispensation which immediately precedes the Twin Manifestations of the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh and is therefore a fuller Revelation than Christianity.

Over fifty years ago Shoghi Effendi wrote to a Bahá'í who was preparing a course on Islam for Bahá'ís and offered this advice:

'There is so [much] misunderstanding about Islam in the West in general that you have to dispel. Your task is rather difficult and requires a good deal of erudition. Your chief task is to acquaint the friends with the pure teaching of the Prophet [Muhammad] as recorded in the Qur'án, and then to point out how these teachings have, throughout succeeding ages, influenced[,] nay[,] guided the course of human development. In other words you have to show the position and significance of Islam in the history of civilization.'

'The Bahá'í view on that subject is that the Dispensation of Muhammad, like all other Divine Dispensations, has been fore-ordained, and that as such forms an integral part of the Divine Plan for the spiritual, moral and social, development of mankind. It is not an isolated religious phenomenon, but is closely and historically related to the Dispensation of Christ, and those of the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh. It was intended by God to succeed Christianity, and it was therefore the duty of the Christians to accept it as firmly as they had adhered to the religion of Christ.' ....

'From the standpoint of institutionalism Islam far surpasses true Christianity as we know it in the Gospels. There are infinitely more laws and institutions in the Qur'án than in the Gospel. While the latter's emphasis is mainly, not to say wholly, on individual and personal conduct, the Qur'án stresses the importance of society. This social emphasis acquires added importance and significance in the Bahá'í Revelation. When carefully and impartially compared, the Qur'án marks definite advancement on the Gospel, from the standpoint of spiritual and humanitarian progress.'[3]


The purpose of this guide is to provide some commentary to accompany the projection of each of the transparencies given in this Diversity Press Religion Series: 'Introduction To Islam.' Obviously the presenter may use his/her own comments and is free to arrange the transparencies in any sequence desired.

The narration for this guide has been carefully researched. Those presenters having little previous exposure to Islam may wish to stay close to the commentary provided in this guide.

For those who wish to continue their study of Islam a brief annotated bibliography is given at the end of the guide.

Endnotes are provided for the presenter's information in anticipation of possible questions that the audience might raise. They are not intended to be inserted into the narration unless the presenter wishes to do so.


Overall, the goals for this brief introductory presentation on Islam are to:

- Become very generally acquainted with Islam and the life of Muhammad.

- Make some correlations between Islam and the Bahá'í Faith.

- Stimulate the listener's desire and provide the means for her/him to pursue further study of Islam and the life of Muhammad.


After receiving the information in this brief presentation it may be tempting to want to try out your new-found knowledge of Islam on Muslims of your acquaintance. Before considering such a move, please observe this warning [4] (read transparency) issued by the Universal House of Justice in 1983.

It should be clear that we being told not to teach Middle-Eastern Muslims. We can teach other Muslims. Indeed, the Guardian himself advised that if one seeks to teach Muslims s/he should have acquired a 'knowledge of the Qur'án, so that' they can be given 'proofs from their own texts.' He suggested that 'the help of some of the Bahá'ís from the [sic] Islamic background' would be helpful.[5]


An unbiased study of Islam requires us to take notice of our individual responses to words such as 'Muhammad', 'Qur'án' and 'Islam.' If we find ourselves reacting negatively to these terms it should come as no surprise. Shoghi Effendi said that

'Western historians have for many centuries distorted the facts [of Islam] to suit their religious and ancestral prejudices. The Bahá'ís should try to study history anew and to base all their investigations first and foremost on the written Scriptures of Islam and Christianity.'[6]

For hundreds of years our knowledge of Muhammad, the Holy Qur'án, and Islam in general, has come to us through biased intermediaries. Literary geniuses such as Dante, Shakespeare, Gibbon, Sale, Thomas Carlyle, [7] and Washington Irving, [8] have transmitted to us opinions of the Arabian Prophet which at best can be described as 'damning with faint praise' and at worst to believing Him worthy of Hell's greatest torments.

As an example; for nearly a century Sir William Muir's (1819-1905) four volume biography, The Life of Muhammad, was held up (and to some it still is!) as the principal English language authority on the life of the Arabian Prophet. Muir said, 'The sword of Mahomet and the Coran [Qur'án] are the most fatal enemies of civilization, liberty and truth which the world has yet known.' [9]

Dante [10] is another case in point. (See accompanying transparency.) He placed Muhammad and 'Ali (Muhammad's successor) in the ninth hell of the Inferno in his epic poem, The Divine Comedy.

Philip Hitti explains that the very earliest Western sketch of Muhammad by a ninth-century Greek writer portrayed Him 'as a false prophet and imposter'; He 'was later embellished with the bright colors of oversexuality, dissoluteness, bloodthirstiness, and brigandage. In clerical circles Muhammad became the antichrist. ...

Western fablers used Maumet as one of forty-one variants of Muhammad's name listed in the Oxford English Dictionary in the sense of idol. It came to mean 'puppet' or 'doll.' In this sense Shakespeare used the word in Romeo and Juliet. Another variant of the same name Mahoun, was used in English medieval encyclical plays as an object of worship.' [11]

One of the most influential translations of the Qur'án was done in Latin by Father Lewis Marraci, a one-time confessor to Pope Innocent XI. Marraci wrote an introductory volume to the work which he titled a 'Refutation of the Qur'án.' One of the first English translations of the Qur'án was done by George Sale in 1734 using Maracci's Latin work. It was Sale's translation that Edward Gibbon used for his classic work: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, in which he says that Muhammad was an 'eloquent fanatic' who 'assumed a false commission to inculcate a salutary doctrine' in his countrymen. J.M. Rodwell, in the preface to his translation of the Koran [1861], calls Muhammad 'great though imperfect character, an earnest though mistaken teacher, 'who was subject to 'morbid and fantastic hallucinations...' [12]

All the blame cannot be laid at the door of Western writers and translators. When the Umayyads usurped the Caliphate (661-750 AD) they perpetrated many unspeakable crimes that severely damaged the reputation of Islam.

'The [Umayyad] dynasty became notorious for running the Empire for its own benefit...and it was the worldly and tyrannical nature of the umayyads, more characteristic of the pagan age than of Islam, which led to their downfall.' [13]

'Abdu'l-Bahá explained that the Umayyad dynasty was the 'beast' spoken of in The Revelation of St. John the Divine, which destroyed the 'spiritual life' of Islam, leaving it 'a lifeless body without spirit.' [14]

The historical relationship between Christianity and Islam has seriously compounded the problem of mutual understanding between the Christian West and the Muslim East. Jeremy Johns, writing on 'Christianity and Islam' in the Oxford Illustrated History of Christianity, says:

'The relationship between Christianity and Islam during the Middle Ages is usually seen, in the West, in terms of military conflict, and, in the East, in terms of the Arab contribution to Western culture. It is symptomatic of the past (and of the continuing) relationship between the two faiths, that each focuses upon an issue which the other regards as peripheral.' [15]

What can Bahá'ís do to overcome these biases inherent in our civilization? Shoghi Effendi says Bahá'ís 'must strive to obtain, from sources that are authoritative and unbiased, a sound knowledge of the history and tenets of Islam - the source and background of their Faith - and approach [it] reverently and with a mind purged from preconceived ideas...' [16] (Bold emphasis added.)

H.M. Balyuzi, in his introduction to Muhammad and the Course of Islam, offers this view of Islam's contributions: 'Over a vast area of the world, extending from the heart of Asia and the boundaries of the Pacific to the shores of the Atlantic, the power of Islam raised men to a high level of achievement and ennobled their lives. Only prejudice can ignore these facts.'17<


Islam (pronounced ess-lahm) [18] is one of the world's great religions, boasting approximately one billion followers. [19] Roughly one-sixth of the world's population is Muslim.

As you can see from the graphic, most of the Middle-Eastern countries and Africa north of and including the Sahara is predominantly Muslim. Indonesia is the biggest Muslim country of all with 160 million believers comprising about 90 percent of the population. Pakistan has over 100 million Muslims and Bangladesh has 90 million. [20]

Christianity has between one and one and one-half billion adherents, or somewhere between one-fourth and one-third of the world's population.

A reprint of the 1988 Britannica Book of the Year states that 'Christianity, Islam, and the Bahá'í Word Faith are the most global' of the world's religions. [21] Bahá'ís (ba-ha-ees) numbered only 4.6 millions as of 1987. [22] [23]

'Islam' is an Arabic word meaning 'submission to the will of God.' The proper pronunciation is ess-lahm.

A 'Muslim' is 'one who submits' to God's will. 'Muslim' is pronounced moss-lem. To call a Muslim a 'Muhammadan' is incorrect and may be considered impolite.

We will briefly review the nine great religions. This will help us to place Islam into the progressive sequence of revealed religions. The reason for listing only these nine religions is that Shoghi Effendi explained that these are the only true 'ones still existing.' [24]

(You will note that in the graphic to follow each religion has a symbol that is identified with it. These symbols aren't the only ones associated with these faiths, and are by no means to be considered official.) The first of these true religions is Sabeanism which 'flourished' in Chaldea (Iraq) thousands of years ago. Abraham was a Sabean. [25] (Except for the Báb (bob) and Bahá'u'lláh (ba-ha-ol-lah) the precise dates of each Messenger are unknown. We must rely on historians for the 'actual dates of the Prophets of the Adamic Cycle.' [26]

Next is Hinduism, founded by Krishna and symbolized by Sanskrit writing. It is between 4,000 and 5,000 years old (c. 3,000 BC). [27] Hindus acknowledge the Bhagavad-Gita a their principal Holy Book. The authenticity of present-day Hindu and Buddhist scriptures is uncertain. [28]

Bahá'u'lláh is the 'Most Great Spirit', 'Tenth Avatar' or the 'Immaculate Manifestation of Krishna' awaited by the Hindus. [29]

Judaism was founded by Moses about 3,500 years ago (c. 1750 BC). The Holy 'Book' of the Jews is the Torah ('the law'). The first five books of the Bible (the Pentateuch) are collectively called the Torah.

Bahá'u'lláh is the promised 'Lord of Hosts' anticipated by the Jews.

Next is Zoroastrianism, founded in Persia (Iran) by Zoroaster about 1000 BC. [30] The Zend-Avesta is the Holy Book of the Zoroastrians.

Bahá'u'lláh is the promised 'Shah-Bahrám' expected by the Zoroastrians.

Buddhism was founded in India by Gautama Buddha in about 500 BC. This symbol, the eight-spoked wheel, represents the Eightfold Path that each of us must traverse to attain enlightenment, or true understanding.

Bahá'u'lláh is the 'fifth Buddha' the 'Buddha named Maitreye', the 'Buddha of universal fellowship' awaited by Buddhists.

Jesus Christ arose amongst the Jews around 30 AD to proclaim a new Gospel of Christianity. Strictly speaking, the Christian Holy Book is the New Testament, which was bound together with the Old Testament resulting in the present-day version of the Bible. The four Gospels of the New Testament are the recorded sayings and doings of Jesus Christ.

Bahá'u'lláh is Christ returned 'in the glory of the Father', the promised 'Spirit of Truth' and the 'Lord of the Vineyard' Whom Christians expect.

Islam, the seventh great surviving religion, was founded by Muhammad (mo-ham-mad) in Arabia in the 7th century AD. Islam is represented by the star and crescent symbol.

Over a period of 23 years Muhammad revealed The Holy Qur'án, which--besides the Bahá'í Writings--is the only other absolutely authentic Holy Book of the nine surviving religions.

Islam is split into two major divisions: Sunni (sonne-nee) and Shi'ah (she-ah). To Sunni Islam Bahá'u'lláh is the return of Jesus Christ ('the descent of the Spirit of God'). To Shi'ah Islam He is promised Imam (eh-mom) Husayn (ho-sane).

The Bábí and Bahá'í religions--the eighth and ninth of the world's surviving great religions. [31]

Siyyid (say-yed) 'Ali (a-lee) Muhammad took the name 'Báb', which means 'Gate.' He was born October 20, 1819 in Shíráz (she-raws), Persia (Iran). He declared that He was the promised 'Hidden Imam' expected by Shi'ah Islam and the 'Mihdí' (meh-dee) ('One Who is guided') awaited by Sunni Islam [32] and that He was the Forerunner of One greater than Himself, Who would soon appear.

The Báb's Holy Book was the Bayán (buy-awn). He was the first Messenger of God that we know of to write down His Revelation in His own hand. His Ministry lasted from 1844 to 1850 and His Dispensation lasted from 1844 to 1852.

Bahá'u'lláh is 'Him Whom God will make manifest' foretold by the Báb and anticipated by the Bábís.

Mirza (mere-zaw) Husayn (ho-sane) 'Ali (a-lee) was born in Tihrán (teh-ron), Persia (Iran) on 12 November 1817. He took the title, 'Bahá'u'lláh', which means 'the Glory of God.' During His 39-year Ministry (1853-1892) He revealed more than 100 volumes of sacred Scriptures. His Most Holy Book is the Kitáb-i-Aqdas (ket-awb-eh-ack-dass), a book of laws.

Bahá'u'lláh is the 'Promised One' of the preceding eight true religions named by Shoghi Effendi.


Islam (ess-lahm) is the seventh of the nine surviving great religions. In the order of Progressive Revelation it comes after Christianity and before the Bábí religion. Shoghi Effendi explained that Islam is 'a fuller Revelation of God's purpose and law to mankind than Christianity,...' [33]

Before embarking on our study of Islam we should bear in mind Shoghi Effendi's caution to approach this subject 'with a mind purged from preconceived ideas.' [34] Western culture is embedded with a good deal of anti-Islamic sentiment. The distinguished scholar, Marzieh Gail reminds us of the standard to apply when evaluating the Life and work of Muhammad.

'Our standard for appraising Muhammad is the Bahá'í Teachings. Much of the material about Muhammad is written either by Muslims who have repeated unfounded traditions about Him, [35] or by hostile Occidentals. We are still victims of centuries of propaganda against Him.' [36]

Muhammad (mo-ham-mad), the Prophet-Founder of Islam, was born at Mecca around 570 AD. Mecca is located about midway up the west coast of the Arabian Peninsula and about 50 miles inland from the Red Sea.

Generally-speaking, Arabia is a desert region. There was little agriculture. Most people were either desert nomads or traders. In Muhammad's time Mecca was a commercial center at the hub of the great trade routes between Europe, Asia, and Africa, and it was a city of religious shrines.

Muhammad was a descendent of Abraham through his Egyptian wife Hagar and their son, Ishmael (also spelled Isma'il and pronounced ess-maw-eel). The authorities agree that Ishmael [37] is the 'father' of the Arabian peoples and Isaac is the 'father' of the Semitic peoples. (Bahá'u'lláh was a descendent of Abraham through Abraham's third wife, Keturah.)

It's interesting to note that the Prophet-Founders of five world religions were descendants of Abraham: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and the Bábí and Bahá'í Faiths. God promised Abraham: 'in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed' (Genesis 12:2-3)

'Muhammad' means 'highly praised.' He was born into the Hashim (haw-shem) clan of the Quraysh [38] tribe. His father ('Abdu'llah) died shortly before His birth and His mother (Aminah) passed away when He was just six. He was sent to live with His grandfather ('Abdu'l-Muttalib) who also died just two years later. Finally He was sent to live with His paternal uncle, Abu (aboo) Talib, who reared Him to manhood.

Around 595 AD, when Muhammad was 25, He married a wealthy widow, named Khadijah (cad-ee-jeh) who was then 40. The four sons born of this union died in infancy. Four daughters lived to be adults. The most important of these was Fátimih (faw-teh-meh). [39]

Fátimih married 'Ali [40] (a-lee) who later became the fourth Caliph (cay-liff) and the first Imam (eh-mom) of Islam. From their union came Hasan (hass-san) and Husayn (ho-sane), the second and third Imams of Shi'ah (she-ah) Islam about whom we will say more a little later on.

It was Muhammad's habit to pray and meditate in a cave on Mount Hira outside Mecca. Around 610 AD Muhammad heard a voice commanding Him to recite. Shoghi Effendi affirms that Muhammad received His Revelation in that cave when He heard 'the voice of Gabriel bade Him 'cry in the name of the Thy Lord'.' [41]

After receiving the Revelation Muhammad hurried home and told His wife Khadijah, who accepted it and became the first to believe in the Prophethood of Muhammad.

- The Qur'án (core-on) is the Holy Book of all Muslims.

Muslims have no disagreement about the accuracy and authenticity of their Holy Book, the Qur'án. They believe it is the literal Word of God and they show extreme reverence for the Word. For example, a devout Muslim will never put the Holy Qur'án on the floor.

- 'Qur'án' means 'reading' or 'recitation.'

The word 'Qur'án' means the 'reading' or 'recitation.' Muhammad recited the verses of the Qur'án when Revelation came upon Him. Because He was illiterate, the Qur'an's Revelation was considered even more miraculous. Many of His early followers committed His Revelations to memory. [42]

- It was revealed by Muhammad in Arabic over a period of 23 years.

The Holy Qur'án was revealed in Arabic by Muhammad [43] over a period of 23 years, from 610 to 632 AD. Because Arabic was the language of Revelation, many Muslims believe that Arabic is the language spoken by the angels in heaven. It is also widely believed that the Holy Qur'án can never be faithfully translated into any other language. [44]

- Comprised of 114 surihs (sue-rehs) or chapters.

The Qur'án is comprised of 114 surihs (sue-rehs) or chapters that are arranged mechanically, from longest to shortest, and comprise about 80,000 English words in translation.

- Except for the Bahá'í Writings, the Holy Qur'án is only other 'absolutely authenticated' Holy Book. [45]

The Báb emphatically declared that the Qur'án was 'free from error,...' [46] Shoghi Effendi further explained that 'The Bible is not wholly authentic, and in this respect is not to be compared with the Qur'án,...' [47]

The Bible is a 'library' of books accumulated over many hundreds of years. Various translations of the Bible exist, some of which include books others omit. The 'best' version of the Bible is the subject of some controversy among various sects of Christianity.

It is of special note that the renowned Bahá'í scholar, Mirza (mere-zaw) 'Abu'l-Fadl (ab-ol-fazz-l), stated categorically that 'one-third of the Koran consists of prophecies concerning the approach of the Day of God's coming, and the signs foreshadowing the near arrival of the Cause of God.' [48]

Muhammad's tribe--the Quraysh--had guardianship over Mecca's most sacred shrine: the Ka'bih [49] (ca-beh). The Ka'bih is a large stone building which housed some 360 idols, one for each day on the ancient calendar. [50]

Set into the southeast corner on the outside of the Ka'bih is the famous Black Stone, probably a meteorite. This stone symbolized the worship of the One God.

According to the Holy Qur'án:

'Abraham, with Ishmael, raised the foundations of the House [the Ka'bih].' (2:121-122) [51]

The Qur'án goes on to say that the Ka'bih was

'The first temple that was founded for mankind' (3:90)

Annual pilgrimages to Mecca were being made long before Muhammad declared His Mission. Over time these pilgrimages had degenerated into idol worship. Muhammad denounced the worship of these idols in His public teaching.

'Shun ye, therefore, the pollutions of idols;...' (22:31)

His attack on idol worship brought Him into conflict with His own tribe and with the Meccan merchants who stood to lose business if people stopped coming to worship idols at the Ka'bih.

Every major religion has some basic articles of Faith and imposes on its followers certain obligations. Islam is no exception. The next transparency outlines a brief summary of some of Muhammad's teachings.

- The Oneness and Transcendence of God

The Muslim concept of God as an uncreated, unknowable Essence, Who is omniscient and omnipotent is nearly identical with the Bahá'í sacred Writings on this subject. The Allah of Islam is the same God Who is the Jehovah of Judaism and the Lord of the Gospels.

- Salat - Prayer

'Salat' is the obligation of prayer. Salat is performed five times a day: at dawn, at noon, in the late afternoon, at sunset, and at night. These ritual prayers include speech and bodily movements and make clear to all who listen the role of God's Messenger:

'There is no god except God; Muhammad is the messenger of God.' All prayers are offered facing the direction of the Qiblih (keb-leh)--Point of Adoration--which is Mecca.

Bahá'ís choose from among three obligatory prayers to recite daily and they face the Most Holy Tomb of Bahá'u'lláh at Bahjí, 'the Heart and Qiblih of the Bahá'í world.' [52]

- Sawm--Fasting

Muslims observe an annual fast during the month of Ramadán, the ninth month on the Islamic lunar calendar. [53] This is a dawn to dusk fast which lasts from 28 to 30 days, depending on the appearance of the new moon. During the daylight hours Muslims must refrain from bodily appetites such as eating, drinking, and sexual activity.

The Muslim fast of Ramadán can be compared with the Bahá'í fast which takes place during the 19th and last month ('Ala--Loftiness) on the Badi' [54] solar calendar. It is a sunrise to sunset fast lasting from March 2nd to the 21st. Bahá'í's too abstain from food, drink during the daylight hours of the fast.

- Hajj--Pilgrimage

Each Muslim is to make a pilgrimage once during his/her lifetime. There are a number of important sites in Medina and Mecca that the pilgrims visit and perform certain rituals. After successfully performing all these duties one may add the title Hajj or Haji (haw-gee) to one's name.

Bahá'ís currently visit holy places in Haifa and 'Akká in Israel. In the future -- when one may travel in perfect freedom -- Bahá'í pilgrims will also visit Bahá'u'lláh's Most Great House [55] in Baghdád or the House of the Báb in Shiraz. (Bahá'í pilgrims do not earn a special title like Haji.)

- Zakát--Specified Payment

Zakát is like a tax on one's possessions. 'It may be paid directly to the poor as alms, or to travelers, or to the state.' [56]

Zakát very closely resembles the Bahá'í institution of Huququ'llah (ho-coo-ko-law) ('The Right of God'). The law of Huququ'llah is now binding on the Bahá'ís of the West.

- Jihad--Holy War

Another meaning of jihad is 'struggle.' Holy war was permitted up until the time of Bahá'u'lláh. It was not, as commonly supposed, the way Islam was spread. In the Holy Qur'án Muhammad revealed: 'Let there be no compulsion in Religion.' (2:257)

Bahá'u'lláh forbade holy war in His Dispensation.

'We have abolished the law to wage holy war against each other.' [57] Muhammad suffered a number of personal reverses in 619 and 620. In 619 His beloved wife of 25 years--Khadijah--died. Shortly thereafter His uncle and clan protector, Abu Talib, also died. Muhammad then made an unsuccessful attempt to establish His Faith at Ta'if, a town southwest of Mecca.

In 620 CE, the midst of these difficulties, Muhammad experienced the famous 'Night Journey' (Mi'ráj, meh-rawj). According to some traditions [58] -- one night during sleep -- Muhammad's Spirit traveled to Jerusalem and the site of Solomon's Temple and from there He ascended into heaven.

Today the Dome of the Rock mosque marks the spot of Muhammad's alleged point of departure. It is the third holiest site in all Islam (after Mecca and Medina) and the oldest surviving specimen of Islamic architecture.

Originally Muslims faced Jerusalem in prayer. In 624 CE Muhammad changed the Qiblih (keb-leh) from Jerusalem to Mecca. The Qiblih ('Point of Adoration') is the direction one faces in prayer.

By 622 CE Muhammad's enemies in Mecca were becoming more aggressive and hostile each day. A number of pilgrims from the city of Yathrib (yass-reb) to the north came to Mecca. They were attracted to Muhammad's Message and embraced Islam. It was these new believers who offered Muhammad sanctuary in Yathrib. (The name of Yathrib was later changed to Medina, which means 'the city" (of the Prophet).

In 622 CE Muhammad and seventy of His loyal companions emigrated to Yathrib. This emigration [59] is called the 'hegira' [60] (hedge-ra) and it marks the beginning of the Muslim calendar [61], being the year 1 AH, which corresponds to the Christian calendar 622 CE (Christian Era).

'Abdu'l-Bahá tells us that even at Medina the Meccans 'did not cease to oppress [Muhammad]; they united to exterminate him and all his followers.' [62]

Muhammad had no choice but to safeguard the lives and property of His community. 'If this oppression had fallen only upon himself he would have forgiven them,...' [63] But since the bloodthirsty Meccans sought to exterminate the entire Muslim community Muhammad had to resist them.

All Muhammad's military engagements were of a defensive nature. [64] He did not spread Islam by the sword as many of His critics assert. It is true that after Muhammad's death some of the Caliphs did expand the Islamic Empire by military means, but this was not Muhammad's way. The Holy Qur'án declares: " Let there be no compulsion in Religion.' (2:257)

In 630 CE Muhammad encamped outside of Mecca with ten thousand men. The Meccans had flagrantly violated the terms of the ten-year truce Muhammad had made with them. The Meccans negotiated the terms of their surrender with Muhammad. Victorious, Muhammad ordered the purification of the Ka'bih. All the idols of Mecca were destroyed by His command.

Muhammad died in 632 CE. He left no will [65] and was unable to designate an uncontested successor. He did say -- as attested by Bahá'u'lláh -- 'Verily, I leave amongst you My twin weighty testimonies: The Book of God and My Family.' [66]

Who would now lead Islam?

According to a Shi'ite tradition, while Muhammad was enroute back from Mecca to Medina after His 'farewell pilgrimage', He stopped at a watering place and called 'Ali to Him. 'Then it was that he took Ali's hands and raised them' saying, ''Whoever has me as his master has Ali as his master. Be a friend to his friends, O Lord, and be an enemy to his enemies. Help those who assist him and frustrate those who oppose him.'' [67]

From Muhammad's many public and private remarks and numerous traditions it is clear that Muhammad intended that 'Ali--his son-in-law--should succeed Him as head of the Faith. This did not happen.

After Muhammad's death the various clans disputed over who would lead Islam. The choice narrowed to two: 'Umar and Abu 'Ubaydah, both of whom refused the nomination. Finally Abu-Bakr [68] stepped forward and offered to pledge his loyalty to either candidate. It was then the two nominees pledged fealty to Abu-Bakr who became the first Caliph (successor) of Islam. [69] [70]

'Ali, the legitimate successor [71] to Muhammad kept silent. Following the two year reign of Abu-Bakr (632-4) 'Umar I (634-44) was elected, and then 'Uthman (644-56). Finally 'Ali (656-661) was chosen as the fourth Caliph of Islam.

These four are called 'The Orthodox Caliphs' because at that time all Muslims outwardly accepted these four. The division of Islam into two major sects did not come out into the open until after 'Ali's death in 661 AD.

Sometime after the death of 'Ali (d. 661) Islam broke into two rival factions. Those who believed that Islam's leader could be elected by the faithful were called Sunnis (sonn-nees). Sunni [72] comes from 'Sunna', which means 'the way.' What Sunnis mean by this is that they are guided, first, by the Holy Qur'án, and then by 'hadith' [73] (had-eess), which are the reported actions and sayings of Muhammad.

Shi'ahs (she-ahs) comprised the second and smallest faction. 'Shi'ah' means the 'partisans or supporters of 'Ali.' Shi'ahs believe that spiritual authority cannot be determined by human election. Rather, it is genetic and divinely ordained and passes from Muhammad to 'Ali and through 'the descendants of 'Ali and the Prophet's daughter Fatima.' [74] [75]

The Umayyad Dynasty, which seized the Caliphate after the death of 'Ali, was the great wrecker of Islam. 'Abdu'l-Bahá explained that the seven-headed, ten-horned, red dragon spoken of in the Book of Revelation is 'an allusion to the dynasty of the Umayyads...' [76]

The beliefs of the Sunnis and the Shi'ahs are theologically very close; closer for example, than the differences separating Catholics and Protestants. Their principal disagreement centers on the method of selecting Muhammad's successors, or those who will lead Islam spiritually and administratively.

From those early days down to the present the Sunni constituted the largest group of Muslims. They comprise some 85 percent. The smaller faction--the Shi'ah [77]--comprise only about 15 percent of all Muslims.

The Shi'ah recognize certain descendants of Muhammad as spiritual leaders they call 'Imams' (eh-moms). [78] The majority of Shi'ahs accept all 12 Imams [79] listed on the accompanying transparency. Shi'ahs who accept all 12 are called 'Twelvers.' There are smaller factions within Shi'ah Islam that accept various subsets of these 12; some accept only the first four, others accept the first six, etc. [80]

'Ali, the son-in-law, foster brother and cousin of Muhammad, was the first Imam of Shi'ah Islam. Shi'ah's, do not recognize the first three Caliphs of Islam as legitimate and refer to them as 'usurpers.' They believe that was not until 'Ali was made Caliph that Islam had a legitimate Caliph, or Imam. In addition to 'Ali the 1st Imam, and Muhammad ibn Hasan, the 12th Imam, there are two other Imam's who should be mentioned here. 'Ali had two sons who succeeded him as Imams, Hasan and Husayn. These two grandchildren of Muhammad were the 2nd and 3rd Imams. Both were opposed by the Umayyad clan of the Quraysh tribe.

After 'Ali's death in 661 AD, Mu'awiyah seized the Caliphate. (Hasan, the 2nd Imam, was poisoned on Mu'awiyah's order.) Mu'awiyah's son, Yazíd I, succeeded his father as Caliph and ordered an attack on Husayn, the 3rd Imam of Shi'ah Islam.

Yazid's attack on Husayn took place at Kárbilá (kar-bell-aw) at midday on Friday, the tenth of Muharram (moh-ha-ram). The tragic circumstances of Husayn's martyrdom has become the most passionately commemorated event in all of Shi'ah Islam.

Throughout Iran the martyrdom of the Imam Husayn has been commemorated for hundreds of years with a reenactment of that tragedy near the anniversary of its event. [81] [82]

For Bahá'ís too the martyrdom of Husayn has special significance. The Dawn-Breakers records the Báb's vision of the Imam Husayn, experienced in the year before His Declaration. [83] This was the Báb's first intimation of His impending Manifestation. [84]

The line of Imams lasted only 228 years, (656 AD-874 AD. The 12th Imam, Abu'l-Qásim Muhammad ibn Hasan, disappeared in AH 260/874 AD. Shi'ah Muslims believe he didn't die but went into 'Occultation', a mystical state in which he continued to guide the faithful until his promised 'return'. Another description of this state is that of the 'Hidden Imam.'

In addition to the 1st, 3rd, and 12th Imams, the last Imam who should be singled out for special mention is the sixth Imam. The 6th Imam, Ja'far-i-Sadiq [85] (ja...Far-ess-saw-deck), made a striking prophecy relating to the Manifestation of the Báb:

'He will appear in the year sixty and his name will be glorified.' This means in the year 1260 [1844 AD] which is precisely the year of the manifestation of the Báb.' [86]

The Shi'ah expect two promised 'returns': the Qá'im (caw-'em) and the Imam (eh-mom) Husayn (ho-sane). The Qá'im means 'He Who ariseth.' Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad (The Báb) is the promised Qá'im and the 'return' of the 12th, or 'Hidden Imam' [87]. Mirza Husayn 'Ali (Bahá'u'lláh) is the 'return of the Imam Husayn.' [88] [89]

It is accurate to say that the Bahá'í Faith has its roots in Shi'ah Islam, [90] and that Bahá'ís recognize the legitimacy of all 12 Imams. [91]

Although Bahá'ís recognize the legitimacy of the 12 Imams of Shi'ah Islam, that recognition does not in any way constitute an acceptance or validation of some of the fantastic theories, traditions, superstitions, and downright inventions of the various sects and leaders of Shi'ah Islam. Shi'ah Islam, and in particular the Ithna-'Ashariyyih sect of Shi'ah Islam, was the historical setting out of which sprang -- first the Bábí -- and eventually the Bahá'í Faith; in the same way that Christianity sprang from Judaism. Both Christianity and the Bahá'í Faith have gone on to become independent world religions.


- Western culture is heavily prejudiced against Muhammad and Islam. We should approach the study of Islam without preconceived ideas, using 'sources that are authoritative and unbiased.' [92]

- Roughly one out of every six people on the planet is a Muslim.

- Islam means 'submission to the will of God.' A Muslim is one who has submitted himself to God's will.

- In the chain of Progressive Revelation Islam is the seventh of the nine surviving great religions, coming after Christianity and before the Bábí Faith.

- Muhammad, Prophet-Founder of Islam, was born at Mecca, in the Arabian Peninsula, around 570 AD.

- He was a descendent of Abraham, through Abraham's wife, Hagar, and their son, Isma'il.

- 'Muhammad' means 'highly praised.' He was born into the Hashim clan of the Quraysh tribe. He was raised by His uncle.

- When Muhammad was 25 He married a wealthy 40-year old widow named Khadijah. Fátimih was born of this union.

- In 610 CE Muhammad received His Revelation in a cave on Mt. Hira outside Mecca.

- Muhammad taught His wife the Faith and she became the first to believe in Him.

- The Qur'án, which means 'reading' or 'recitation' is the Holy Book of all Muslims.

- It was revealed in Arabic by Muhammad over a period of 23 years (610-622 CE).

- It is comprised of 114 surihs roughly arranged in size from longest to shortest.

- Except for the Bahá'í Writings, only the Qur'án is completely authentic. Both the Báb and Shoghi Effendi have testified to that fact.

- Muhammad's tribe had guardianship over the Ka'bih, Mecca's most sacred shrine.

- The Ka'bih, originally built by Abraham and Isma'il, had--by Muhammad's time--degenerated into idol worship.

- Muhammad publicly denounced idol worship, bringing Him into conflict with Mecca's merchants and His own tribe.

- Muslims believe in the Oneness and Transcendence of God.

- Muslims pray 5 times a day while facing Mecca, which is their Qiblih ('Point of Adoration').

- Muslims observe an annual fast of 28 to 30 days during Ramadán, the 9th month on the lunar calendar. No eating, drinking, or sex takes place during the dawn to dusk fast.

- Once during his/her lifetime, each Muslim is obliged to make a pilgrimage to Mecca.

- Muslims are obliged to donate money to the poor or to travelers, or to the state.

- Holy War was permitted in Islam.

- In 620 CE Muhammad experienced the Night Journey into heaven from the site of the Dome of the Rock.

- In 622 CE Muhammad emigrated to Medina to avoid the oppression of the Meccans.

- In 624 CE Muhammad changed the Muslim Qiblih from Jerusalem to Mecca.

- Muhammad defended His community against the Meccan attacks.

- Eventually Muhammad was able to return victorious to Mecca and cleanse the Ka'bih of its idols and idol worship.

- Muhammad died in 632 CE. Islam became split into two main factions--Sunni and Shi'ah--over who would succeed Muhammad.

- Most Muslims were united over Muhammad's first four successors, 'Caliphs.'

- Sometime after the death of 'Ali (d. 661 CE), the 4th Caliph and the 1st Imam of Shi'ah Islam, the schism came into the open.

- Sunni Muslims believe Muhammad's successors can be elected by the faithful. Shi'ah Muslims believe successors must be descendents of Muhammad and be designated by their predecessor. Shi'ahs call these successors Imams.

- Islam's reputation was damaged by the Ummayad Dynasty.

- Most Shi'ahs believe Muhammad was succeeded by 12 legitimate successors (Imams).

- 'Ali, Muhammad's son-in-law, was the 1st Imam.

- Muhammad's grandsons, Hasan and Husayn, were the 2nd and 3rd Imams, respectively.

- The Imam Husayn's martyrdom is the most passionately observed event in Shi'ah Islam.

- Bahá'u'lláh is the 'return' of the Imam Husayn.

- The 6th Imam clearly foretold the date of the Báb's Manifestation.

- The Báb is the 'return' of the 12th Imam, the 'Hidden Imam.'

- It is accurate to say that the Bahá'í Faith has its roots in Shi'ah Islam, and that Bahá'ís recognize the legitimacy of all 12 Imams.


1 Lights of Guidance, New Delhi: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 2nd rev. and enlarged edition, 1988, #1903.

2 Lights, #1665.

3 Lights, #1664.

4 For other statements on teaching Muslims, see these items #1405-1409 in Lights of Guidance, New Delhi: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 2nd rev. and enlarged edition, 1988.

5 Lights, #2030.

6 Lights, #1664.

7 On May 8, 1840 Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) delivered a lecture titled: 'The Hero As Prophet. Mahomet: Islam.' Complete Works of Thomas Carlyle, New York: The Wheeler Publishing Co., c. 1900, Vol. I, pp. 273-306. On the whole the presentation was uncharacteristically sympathetic for its time. Nevertheless, Carlyle, who had read George Sale's translation of the Qur'án, said this about the holy book revealed by Muhammad: 'I must say, it is as toilsome reading as I ever undertook; endless iterations, long-windedness, entanglement; most crude, incondite;--insupportable stupidity, in short! Nothing but a sense of duty could carry any European through the Koran.' Ibid., p. 295.

8 Irving wrote two volumes: Mahomet and His Successors, New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1868. In his conclusion of volume one, Irving wrote: 'It is difficult to reconcile such ardent, persevering piety with an incessant system of blasphemous imposture; nor such pure and elevated and benignant precepts as are contained in the Koran, with a mind haunted by ignoble passions, and devoted to the grovelling interests of mere mortality; and we find no other satisfactory mode of solving the enigma of his character and conduct, than by supposing that the ray of mental hallucination which flashed upon his enthusiastic spirit during his religious ecstasies in the midnight cavern of Mount Hara, [Hira] continued more or less to bewilder him with a species of monomania to the end of his career, and that he died in the delusive belief of his mission as a prophet.' p. 345.

9 Vol. IV, 1861, p. 322. It is to Muir's credit that he later revised considerably some of his views about Muhammad. He was eventually able to say, 'What was Mahomet himself but an instrument in the hands of the great Worker [God]?' Quoted on page 113 of Muslim-Christian Encounters, 1991, by Watt.

10 Ironically, there is strong, though controversial, evidence that Dante may have borrowed material for The Divine Comedy from Islamic sources. See Islam and the Divine Comedy by Miguel Asin Palacios, translated by Harold Sutherland, London: Frank Cass & Co., Ltd., 1968.

11 Philip Hitti, Islam: A Way of Life, pp. 22-23.

12 Lippman, Understanding Islam: An Introduction to the Muslim World, p. 36.

13 The Concise Encyclopedia of Islam, p. 408.

14 Some Answered Questions, p. 50.

15 The Oxford Illustrated History of Christianity, Edited by John McManners, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 163.

16 Advent, p. 49.

17 H.M. Balyuzi, Muhammad and The Course of Islam, Oxford: George Ronald, 1976, p. 4.

18 All phonetic pronunciations given in this guide are Persian and were taken from Marzieh Gail's Bahá'í Glossary, Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1969.

19 Understanding Islam and the Muslims, prepared by the Islamic Affairs Dept. of the Embassy of Saudi Arabia, Washington, D.C., 1989. According to the 1990 World Almanac (p. 611) there are over 6,000,000 Muslims in the USA.

20 Thomas W. Lippman, Understanding Islam: An Introduction to the Muslim World, Rev. Ed., Mentor Books, 1990, p. x.

21 'The Bahá'í Faith: World Religions Statistics', Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1988, p. 11.

22 Ibid. 1987 Table contained within the document. Recent (1991) estimates put the number of Bahá'ís, world-wide, near 6 millions. 23 The 1990 World Almanac puts the number of Bahá'í groups in the US as 1,700 and reports the number of Bahá'ís in that country as 110,000 (page 610). [Update 2000: The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2000 puts the number of Bahá'ís, world-wide at 6,764,000 and the number of Bahá'ís in the USA at 133,00; pages 695 and 692 respectively.]

24 Helen Hornby compiler, Lights of Guidance, New Delhi: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1988, second revised and enlarged edition, #1373, p. 414.

25 Sabeanism had 'a Divinely-sent Messenger' Whose name is not known to us. We do know from Shoghi Effendi that 'Abraham is considered as having been' a Sabean. Lights of Guidance #1694, pp. 503.

26 Lights., #1696, p. 503.

27 We don't know if Hinduism is older than Sabeanism or vice versa. Lights, #1693, p. 502.

28 Lights, #1696, p. 503.

29 At the end of a brief description of each religion is a statement about Who Bahá'u'lláh represents for the followers of that religion. The information for these statements was derived from pages 94 and 95 of God Passes By.

30 'Abdul-Bahá tells us that `Zoroaster lived about 750 years after Moses' and about 'a thousand years before Christ.' Lights of Guidance, #1691, p. 502.

31 The number nine is considered sacred but is not the official symbol of the Bahá'í Faith -- a five-pointed star is. See Lights of Guidance #375, p. 110. See #1372-#1377 of Lights for more about the number 'nine'. 32 God Passes By, pp. 57-58.

33 Lights, #1670, p. 497.

34 Advent of Divine Justice, 1980, p. 49.

35 Some of these traditions are ludicrous. H.M. Balyuzi, in his book, Muhammad and The Course of Islam, (p. 2) gives an instance of just such a case in connection with the space program. 'The Arabian Prophet is not so much the Founder of a Theophany, a new Dispensation but a leader of men in the mould of a successful chieftain, courageous and bold and generous, but also full of human foibles. Some borrow from the writings of those Muslim apologists from the East, whose outlook was primitive, who related stories of angels assuming human form to take part in bloody combats, of jinn (genii) holding converse with the Prophet, and who expatiated on how Muhammad literally cleft the moon in twain. At the time of the Apollo 15 exploration of the moon, an organization in London, which called itself the Moslem Educational Bureau, was reported to have issued a statement asserting the literal fact of the cleavage of the moon and expressing its certainty that the astronauts of the Apollo 15 would find in the Hadley Rille (a crack on the surface of the moon) the positive proof of the performance of that miracle. An enterprising British journalist in one of the national dailies (known as a quality newspaper), blew up this incredible statement into a sensational story, which occupied a prominent place in a centre page under the heading: 'Mohammed's Moonshot'. It would have been laughable, were it not insulting to one of the major Faiths of mankind. Those Eastern chroniclers and theologians, who gave currency in the past to such stories, bear a heavy burden of responsibility for lowering the Arabian Prophet in the eyes of the West.'

36 Six Lessons in Islam, p. 1.

37 King James Bible 'And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly: twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.' Genesis 17:20. The 'twelve princes' is a reference to the 12 Imams of Shi'ah Islam. See the next transparency.

38 Note that the Quraysh tribe had two main branches, the Umayyad and the Hashim. The Umayyad branch eventually seized control of the Caliphate and brought great shame to the name of Islam. See 'Abdul'-Bahá's discussion in chapter 11 of Some Answered Questions.

39 Fátimih is the supreme woman of the Islamic Dispensation. Followers of Shi'ah Islam believe that a special book was revealed to Fátimih to console her following her Father's death. It is called the 'Book of Fattish'. Its contents were unknown until 1858 when Bahá'u'lláh re-revealed it in Baghdad (bag-dad). He later changed its name to the Hidden Words. See page 15, lines 25 to 29 of Epistle to the Son of the Wolf. See also Marzieh Gail's 'Book of Fátimih' note on p. 185 of the Epistle. See also Lights, #1631 and #1632.

40 His full name is 'Ali-ibn-i-Abi-Talib. See The Dawn-Breakers by Nabíl-i-A'zam, p. lii.

41 God Passes By, p. 93.

42 The Qur'án is the most widely read and memorized book in the world.

43 'Abdu'l-Bahá tells us that these utterances were written 'upon the bladebones of sheep, or on palm leaves.' Some Answered Questions, p. 27.

44 Prior to 1931 Shoghi Effendi used George Sale's English translation of the Qur'án for his translation of Qur'ánic quotations found in the Bahá'í sacred Writings. After 1931 he used James Rodwell's translation. James Heggie, Bahá'í References to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Oxford: George Ronald, 1986, p. 247.

45 Shoghi Effendi, Advent of Divine Justice, p. 49.

46 Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 46.

47 Lights of Guidance, #1688, p. 501. See also Kitáb-i-Iqán, p. 89 and 'Abdu'l-Bahá by Hasan Balyuzi, p. 145.

48 The Bahá'í Proofs (Hujaja'l-Bahiyyih), translated by Ali-Kuli Khan, Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1983, pp. 134-5.

49 Ka'bih is also spelled Kaaba, Ka'ba, Ka'bah, and Kaabah.

50 Six Lessons in Islam, p. 3.

51 All quotations from the Holy Qur'án used in this guide are taken from James Rodwell's translation 1861 translation of The Koran, published by Everyman's Library in 1909. The numbering of the surihs in this guide follows the conventional numbering scheme of the majority of English translations of the Qur'án.

52 Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1944, 110, 227.

53 One year on the Muslim calendar 'consists of twelve lunar months, some of twenty-nine, and some of thirty days; their lengths vary because of the need to round out a year otherwise only 354 days, 8 hours, and 48 minutes long.' The Concise Encyclopedia of Islam by Cyril Glasse, San Francisco: Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc., 1989, p. 82. W. Montgomery Watt says that each Christian century equals 'about 103 Islamic years'. Muhammad: Prophet and Statesman, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1961, p. 91.

54 No, this is not a misspelling, it is Badi'. See Bahá'í World, Vol. 18 (1979-1983), p. 600. The Badi' calendar was developed by the Báb and begins with the year 1260 AH, which is 1844 AD.

55 The Bayt-i-A'zam (bait-eh-a...Zam), Bahá'u'lláh's Most Great House in Baghdad, is 'regarded as a center of pilgrimage second to none except the city of 'Akká,...'. God Passes By, p. 110.

56 The Concise Encyclopedia of Islam, p. 430.

57 Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 25

58 Most Muslims believe Muhammad performed the Night Journey in the flesh. Shaykh Ahmad (and later, Siyyid Kázim) taught that Muhammad performed the Night Journey in His 'subtle body', i.e., His Spirit, as opposed to His material body. See the first footnote on page 4 of The Dawn-Breakers.

59 See 'Abdu'l-Bahá's statement in Lights, #1934, for the implications of a Messenger's exile and banishment.

60 For centuries the word 'hegira' has been wrongly translated to mean 'flight'. See Philip Hitti, Islam: A Way of Life, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1970, p. 14.

61 The year 1260 AH is equivalent to 1844 AD. The year 1413 AH is equivalent to 1992 AD. The Concise Encyclopedia of Islam, 1989, p. 83.

62 Some Answered Questions, Chapter 7. A number of pitched battles took places between the Muslims and the Meccans. At the Battle of Badr (in 624 AD) the Muslims, though outnumbered three to one, carried the day. Next came Uhud which took place about three miles from Medina. 'At first the Battle of Uhud went well for the Medinans and the Meccans were on the point of defeat when a portion of the Medinan army broke ranks in search of booty and this exposed their flank. The flow of the battle was reversed and the Medinans were forced to retreat although the victors themselves had been so badly mauled that they were unable to press home their advantage and withdrew.' Momen, Introduction to Shi'i Islam, p. 6. Next came the Battle of the Trench (627 AD) in which Muhammad supervised the digging of trenches around Medina which effectively thwarted the Meccan cavalry. 'After the Battle of the Trench and the elimination of Jewish opposition, events moved swiftly, as Muhammad felt himself strong enough to challenge the Meccans. Rather than undertake direct military confrontation, he devised a political stratagem. He and a large band of the faithful, said to number more than a thousand, set out for Mecca not as an army but as pilgrims desirous of visiting the sacred shrine. As the Muslims approached the city, the Meccans sent out a delegation to negotiate with Muhammad. The outcome was a pact known as the Treaty of Hudaibiya. Muhammad and his followers agreed to put off their pilgrimage until the following year and the Meccans acknowledged their right to make it. The Quraysh accepted Muhammad's right to preach and in effect acknowledged his legitimacy. This diplomatic compromise upset some of Muhammad's more zealous followers, but it demonstrated once again that Muhammad was a flexible pragmatic leader, not a fanatic. He was willing to see blood shed when necessary, as at Badr, but he was also willing to negotiate and compromise to minimize violence, as he did when he agreed to the Treaty of Hudaibiya, which served his objectives to establish Islam. Hitti, Islam: A Way of Life, p. 51.

63 Some Answered Questions, p. 25.

64 Some Answered Questions, p. 22.

65 According to some traditional accounts Muhammad called for writing materials to record His will and testament. In one account 'Umar -- who was to become Islam's third Caliph -- refused Muhammad's request. See The Life of Mahomet by Emile Dermenghem, translated by Arabella Yorke, New York: The Dial Press, MCMXXX, 337.

66 The Kitáb-i-Iqán, p. 201.

67 The Shi'ite Religion by Dwight M. Donaldson, London: Luzac & Company, 1933, p. 5.

68 Abu-Bakr was the father-in-law of Muhammad by the Prophet's marriage to his daughter 'A'isha (613-678). He was a member of the Quraysh tribe.

69 H.M. Balyuzi, Muhammad and The Course of Islam, Oxford: George Ronald, p. 167. Shoghi Effendi tells us that by this act the 'lawful successors' of Muhammad were 'usurped' of their authority. World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 178.

70 Shortly before His death Muhammad found that He was too ill to lead the now traditional Friday congregational prayer in the mosque. A widely respected tradition states that Muhammad deputized Abu-Bakr to lead the prayers on His behalf. If true, this did much to strengthen Abu-Bakr's claim to be Muhammad's successor. Another incident recounted by H. M. Balyuzi has Abu-Bakr making the public announcement of Muhammad's death, saying: 'Whoever worshipped the person of Muhammad, let him know that Muhammad hath died; and whoever worshipped God, let him know that God doth not die.' Muhammad and The Course of Islam, p. 165.

71 Shoghi Effendi said, 'Ali's appointment was clear to the Khalifs [Caliphs], who actually disregarded the Prophets [sic] oral statements. 'The usurpation occurred immediately after the Prophets [sic] death. 'Ali did not feel unqualified, but wished to avoid schism, which, unfortunately could not be prevented.' Lights, #1665.

72 'By far the largest sect of Islam, this includes the four so-called orthodox sects: Hanbalites, Hanafites, Malikites, Shafiites. ... Sunnites regard the first Caliphs as legitimate successors of Muhammad and accept the 'six authentic' books of tradition. They believe the Caliph must be elected and must be a member of the Quraysh--the Prophet's tribe.' From Marzieh Gail's Bahá'í Glossary, p. 49.

73 A notable presentation of this subject is Alfred Guillaume's The Traditions of Islam, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1924. See Lights, #1435 for Bahá'í treatment of traditional information (i.e., 'pilgrim's notes'). Sound Vision of Hollywood has published a computerized (DOS) electronic collection of Hadith, call 312-226-0205.

74 Understanding Islam: An Introduction to the Muslim World, p. 138.

75 Shi'ahs also accept the Holy Qur'án and many of the hadiths revered by the Sunni. In addition, the Shi'ah add the sayings and doings of the 12 Imams to the hadiths of their faith.

76 'And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the starts of heaven, and did cast them to the earth.' These signs are an allusion to the dynasty of the Umayyads who dominated the Muhammadan religion. Seven heads and seven crowns mean seven countries and dominions over which the Ummayads had power' Some Answered Questions, p. 68. Also see Revelations in King James Bible, Chapter 12.

77 Islam became the dominant religion of Iran around 650 AD. Today the Islamic Republic of Iran is the only government in which Shi'ah Islam is the state religion.

78 The Imams 'were not a group of contemporaries, like the Twelve Apostles of Jesus, but Muhammad designated the first one ['Ali], and after that each one designated his successor.' This cycle of an Imam designating a successor lasted 228 years (656-874 AD). Donaldson, Op. Cit., p. xxiv.

79 Some other references to the 12 Imams in the Bahá'í Writings: Promised Day is Come, p. 108; World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 102; Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 90; Kitáb-i-Iqán, p. 35; and Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 19.

80 For a more detailed examination of these splits see Moojan Momen's chapter on 'Schools Within Twelver Shi'ism' in his book, An Introduction to Shi'i Islam, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985, pp. 220-232.

81 Bahá'u'lláh frequently refers to this event in His Writings. For example, see pp. 126; 128-9; 167-8; 225-226 of The Kitáb-i-Iqán. For a narrative account of the Imam Husayn's martyrdom read The Prince of Martyrs by Abu'l-Qásim Faizi, Oxford: George Ronald, 1977.

82 The recital of Husayn's sufferings is called 'Rawda-khani' (rose-eh-con-ee). The reciters are called 'Rawda-khans' (rose-eh-cons). Rawda-khani has become a profession. Momen, An Introduction to Shi'i Islam, p. 119.

83 'In My vision I saw the head of the Imam Husayn, the Siyyidu'sh-Shuhada' [Prince of Martyrs], which was hanging upon a tree. Drops of blood dripped profusely from His lacerated throat. With feelings of unsurpassed delight, I approached that tree and, stretching forth My hands, gathered a few drops of that sacred blood, and drank them devoutly. When I awoke, I felt that the Spirit of God had permeated and taken possession of My soul. My heart was thrilled with the joy of His Divine presence, and the mysteries of His Revelation were unfolded before My eyes in all their glory.' The Dawn-Breakers, p. 257.

84 Shoghi Effendi said 'The Báb's descent from the Imam Husayn is no doubt a proof of the validity of the Imamate,' Lights, #1665.

85 The Kitáb-i-Iqán makes mention of the 6th Imam on these pages: 79, 131-132, 241, 247, 248, 253-254 and 255.

86 The Dawn-Breakers, French footnote #3 on the bottom of page 250. The Holy Qur'án anticipated the reappearance of the 12th Imam as the Báb in this verse: 'hereafter shall they come up to Him on a day whose length shall be a thousand of such years as ye reckon.' (Rodwell 32:4) One thousand lunar years, added to the date of the disappearance of the 12th Imam gives the date 1260 AH, (1,000 + 60 AH = 1,260). 1260 AH is equal to 1844 AD.

87 See Shoghi Effendi's introduction to The Dawn-Breakers, p. xxxi.

88 God Passes By, p. 94.

89 In the Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh, Bahá'u'lláh identifies Himself with the Imam Husayn and confers on him an 'exceptionally exalted station,' Lights, #1567.

90 Shoghi Effendi wrote, on page xii in his Foreword to God Passes By: 'I shall seek to represent and correlate, in however cursory a manner, those momentous happenings which have insensibly, relentlessly, and under the very eyes of successive generations, perverse, indifferent or hostile, transformed a heterodox and seemingly negligible offshoot of the Shaykhi school of the Ithna-'Ashariyyih sect of Shi'ah Islam into a world religion whose unnumbered followers are organically and indissolubly united...'


Probably the most useful single Bahá'í resource for understanding various points about Islam is Lights of Guidance: A Bahá'í Reference File, compiled by Helen Hornby and published by the Bahá'í Publishing Trust in New Delhi. The brief index to Islamic topics which follows was derived from the second revised and enlarged edition of Lights, which was published in 1988.

Of course the principal doctrinal work of the Bahá'í Dispensation is Bahá'u'lláh's Kitáb-i-Iqán, revealed in Baghdad about 1862. It is this work, more than any other, which holds the key to unlock the doors of meaning, leading to an understanding of the secrets hidden within Divine Revelation. The Iqan says that 'all the Scriptures and the mysteries thereof are condensed into this brief account. So much so, that were a person to ponder a while in his heart, he would discover from all that hath been said the mysteries of the Words of God, and would apprehend the meaning of whatever hath been manifested by that ideal King.' 1

The Kitáb-i-Iqán is a treasury of information about Islam, Muhammad, the Holy Qur'án, and the Imams. Some examples: Islamic traditions (hadiths) 237-48; Mi'ráj (Night Journey) 185; Qá'im 243-247; Qiblih 49-52; Qur'án 200-201; 6th Imam 79, 131-132, 241, 243, 247, 248, 253-254, 255. 2


F.E. Peters, Children of Abraham, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982. Paperback, 225 pages. Compares similarities and differences between Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Chapters on Community and Hierarchy, the Law, Scripture and Tradition, The Liturgy, Asceticism and Mysticism, and Theology.

William Montgomery Watt, Muslim-Christian Encounters: Perceptions and Misperceptions, London: Routledge, 1991. Paperback, 164 pages.
Text of the Qur'án quoted to draw conclusions about perceptions of Jews, Christians and Muslims. Past, present and future encounters between Christianity and Islam discussed and projected.


Caesar E. Farah, Islam, New York: Barron's Educational Series, Inc., 4th edition, 1987. Paperback, 351 pages. Good reference work. Includes chapters on Islam's beliefs and obligations as well as the various shades of belief that divide the sects of Islam. Contains a glossary and a useful recommended reading list.

Marzieh Gail, Six Lessons on Islam, Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1953. 34 pages. Sadly, this brief but superb introduction to Islam has been out of print since 1969. Count yourself lucky if you can obtain a copy. Ms. Gail is the translator of a number of important Bahá'í books such as The Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys (with her father, 'Ali Kuli Khan), The Secret of Divine Civilization, Memorials of the Faithful, and My Memories of Bahá'u'lláh. She is also the author of many scholarly works.

Marzieh Gail, Bahá'í Glossary, Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1969. Paper, 56 pages. Another important work out of print. This is more than a glossary and pronunciation guide. Contains a wealth of scholarship and numerous references that correlate the Bahá'í Faith to its Islamic background.

Philip Hitti, The Arabs: A Short History, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1943. Second revised paperback edition, 1970, 278 pages. Possibly the most popular history of the Arabs ever written in English. Places Islam within the context of its times and traces its evolution to modern times. Very readable.

Thomas W. Lippman, Understanding Islam: An Introduction to the Muslim World, New York Mentor Books, revised edition, 1990. Paperback, 194 pages. Lippman was Cairo bureau chief for the Washington Post. He writes clearly and insightfully. Covers Islam up to the present, including the Khomenini regime and the Salman Rushdie affair.


Allama Sir Abdullah Al-Manun Al-Suhrawardy, The Sayings of Muhammad, London: John Murray, 1938, 128 pages. 439 sayings of Muhammad, arranged topically (e.g., abstinence, backbiting, learning, reason, sin, etc.) and written simply and clearly.

Alfred Guillaume, The Traditions of Islam, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1924. A classic work long out of print. You may be able to find a copy in a university library.


'Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1964, chapter 7. Very brief biography of Muhammad's career. Explains Bible prophecies relating to Islam in general and Muhammad and 'Ali in particular.

H.M. Balyuzi, Muhammad and The Course of Islam, Oxford: George Ronald, 1976, Part I, Chapters 1-18. Excellent examination of Muhammad's Life. Correlates the authentic Shi'ah traditions to events in early Islam.

Ibn-Hisham, The Life of Muhammad, translated by Alfred Guillaume, London: Oxford University Press, 1955. Reprinted in paper by Karachi's Oxford University Press in 1967, 7th impression 1982. Paperback, 813 pages. This is the biography of Muhammad. An exhaustively detailed work which will daunt all but the most tireless reader. As one example of its tediousness, the names of every participant who engaged in the Battle of Badr--on either side!--are listed between pages 327 and 339.

W. Montgomery Watt, Muhammad: Prophet and Statesman, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1961. Paperback edition, 1974, 250 pages. Professor Watt was Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Edinburgh. He is one of the most respected orientalists in the world. His biography of Muhammad is objective, scholarly and readable.


'Abdullah Yusuf 'Ali, The Holy Qur'án, Brentwood, Maryland: Amana Corporation, 1989.
This translation was one recommended by Marzieh Gail in her Six Lessons On Islam as being 'mechanically the most legible and accessible of all' (p. 20). Dr. Peter Khan (who was raised a Muslim) also recommended it in his 'Institute on Islam', Davenport, Iowa, November, 1971 (audiotape).

A.J. Arberry, The Koran Interpreted, New York: Collier Books, MacMillan Publishing Company, 1955. Two volumes printed between the covers of one paperback. H.M. Balyuzi, the distinguished biographer of the Lives of Muhammad, the Báb, Bahá'u'lláh, and 'Abdu'l-Bahá, used this translation for Qur'anic quotations in his narratives.

J.M. Rodwell, The Koran, London: Everyman's Library, 1909. In 1987 the Guernsey Press reprinted this translation in paperback. This is the translation Shoghi Effendi used from 1931 (Kitáb-i-Iqán) onward for translating Qur'anic quotations found in the Sacred Writings. Rodwell organized this translation in chronological order, rather than the usual mechanical order of longest surihs to shortest. Fortunately, Everyman's Library printed a table in the front of the book by which one can easily translate the surihs from Rodwell's scheme to the standard arrangement.

George Sale, The Koran, London: K. Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Ltd, 1896. Prior to 1931 Shoghi Effendi used this translation as an aid to translating quotations from the Qur'án found in the Bahá'í Writings.


'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization, translated by Marzieh Gail, Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1970. This book contains a wealth of Qur'anic quotations (footnoted) and many references to Islamic culture.

Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Iqán, Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1950. The Iqan contains more than 140 quotations of verses from the Holy Qur'án.

Introduction to the Study of the Qur'án, Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1976. Paper, 21 pages. Ten lessons arranged topically. (It was Shoghi Effendi's recommendation that the Qur'án be studied topically.) Lessons: 1) The Qur'án: What it Claims to be; 2) The Nature of God; 3) Divine Unity; 4) The Prophet of God; 5) The Life of the Spirit; 6) Spiritual Laws; 7) Temporal Laws; 8) The Next Life; 9) The Latter Day; 10) The Judgments of God.


Browne, E.G., 'Distinguishing Features of Shi'ah Islam', Quoted in the Introduction to The Dawn-Breakers, Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1962, pp. li-lvii. Excellent introduction to various aspects of Shi'ah Islam.

Dwight M. Donaldson, The Shi'ite Religion, London: Luzac & Company, 1933. 393 pages. The very best single work on the Imams this writer has found. Again, the age of this work restricts its availability to university libraries and private collections.

Abu'l-Qásim Faizi, The Prince of Martyrs [Imam Husayn], Oxford: George Ronald, 1977. A moving account of the martyrdom of the Imam Husayn.

Moojan Momen, An Introduction to Shi'i Islam, Oxford: George Ronald, 1985. Paperback, 397 pages. An invaluable reference work. This exhaustively researched book yields a closely written examination of many aspects of Shi'ah Islam, covering the period from its inception to the present. Contains many useful charts and tables, a glossary, illustrations, and a valuable select bibliography of sources.
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