The Bahá'í Principles and Shi'ah Islám
The Bahá'í Principles are a somewhat arbitrary list
of the fundamentals of the Bahá'í Faith. They were numerated to
make the Bahá'í Faith more easily understandable to non-Bahá'ís,
that is, largely for purposes of proselytization. We will attempt here to categorize
the basic principles of the Bahá'í Faith, inserting central principles
here and there that were previously not included for proselytization.
We ought to begin by reviewing the Bahá'í principles that originate
(1) generally from Islám, and (2) specifically from Shi'ah Islám.
Islamic Principles Adopted by Bahá'u'lláh
(pillars of Islám noted by number)
- Oneness of God (Pillar #1)
- Oneness of Religion. Bahá'í scripture does not support any
scripture beyond (1) scripture recognized by Islám, and (2) Bahá'í
(and Bábí) scripture. Bahá'ís believe there to
have been a divine origin to all the great religions, but this does not mean
that any of the teachings of Hinduism, Buddhism, etc. can be considered to
be of divine origin unless they are corroborated by Bahá'í teachings.
All this is right in line with Islamic thought.
- Oneness of Mankind. Islám, like Christianity and Buddhism, welcomes
all people. Many people believe that Islám accepts people of color
more thoroughly than Christianity.
- Primary importance of recognizing God's Prophet/Manifestation (Pillar #1)
- Primary importance of obedience to God's laws and ordinances.
- Primary motivational importance of fear of God in men.
- Obligatory prayer and recitation of scriptural verses (Pillar #2)
- Enforced elimination of extremes of wealth and poverty (Pillar #3 –
Zakat, obligatory charity tax)
- Obligatory pilgrimage (Pillar #5) – obligatory only for men in the
Bahá'í Faith; a step backward in the spiritual status of women.
- Harmony of science and religion. Islám insists that scripture is
rational, and therefore it cannot contradict science.
- Independent investigation of truth. In Islám, this is referred to
as no compulsion in religion. There are places where the Qur'án
appears to support compulsion, but it is quite clear that by Bahá'u'lláh's
time, the dominant doctrine was no compulsion.
- Universal education, including women. Though Bahá'u'lláh made
education of children compulsory, he was basing this obligation on an established
- Polygyny (multiple wives). Bahá'u'lláh had three wives, but
he did (at a point) permit at most two wives to Bahá'ís, and
he encouraged monogamy. `Abdu'l-Bahá later prohibited bigamy as well,
but this was clearly a change in law rather than, as Bahá'ís
must insist, an interpretation. The Bahá'í Faith appears
to have evolved in this aspect, but mostly after Bahá'u'lláh's
- Prohibition against use of alcohol and drugs.
- No clergy. Clergy are not really part of Islám, though there are
a kind of pseudo-clergy in Shi'ah Islám. Still, Mullahs, Mujtahids,
and Ayatollahs do not perform religious rites as do priests. They are fundamentally
pious scholars, which is something quite common in the Bahá'í
Faith, though not established formally as an institution.
- Work is worship. This ethic was well established in Islám and throughout
the world by the time of Bahá'u'lláh.
- Prohibition against asceticism. Islám does not support or institutionalize
asceticism, nor does it place the same kind of value on celibacy that Christianity
does (in general). It is not clear whether asceticism is forbidden in Islám,
but it is certainly not promoted or supported beyond the obligation to fast.
The self-denial and spiritual martyrdom of Sufis, Shiites, and Bahá'ís
is certainly ascetic in nature, but this is not a point of departure for the
Bahá'í Faith, but rather a continuation of the Iranian mystical
- Fatimah's influence: relatively favorable toward rights of women.
- Husayn's influence: glory of martyrdom.
- Influence of `Alí and Husayn: disinterest in politics and worldly
Now, having covered the Bahá'í Principles adopted from Islám
in general and, specifically, Shi'ah Islám, we can now list the pronciples
new to the Bahá'í Faith.
Principles Original to Bahá'u'lláh (new to Islám, at
- World peace through world government
- Shunning of enemies. The penalty for apostasy in Islám is arguably
death, but there is nothing quite like the Bahá'í communicable
disease of covenant-breaking doctrine in Islám.
Islamic Moslem Religion
Let There Be
NO Compulsion in Religion
and Suffering in Islam, from Dying
for God: Martyrdom in the Shii and Babi Religions by Jonah Winters.
"Mankind was one single nation, and Allah sent messengers with glad tidings
and warnings; and with them He sent the book in truth, to judge between peoples
wherein they differed."
" Seeking knowledge is a duty of every Muslim, man or woman." (Ayisha
Lemu 1978: 25)
" The Father, if he educates his daughter well, will enter Paradise."
(The World Bank
Report July 9, 1993: 25)
" A mother is a school. If she is educated, then a whole people are educated"
"Whoever finds himself at the nightfall tired of his work, God will forgive
his sins." Concept
of Worship in Islam