Monday, August 27, 2018

Bahai comes to America

“Star of the West” is an old Bahai magazine published in the United States. Most issues have sections in both English and Persian, and the magazine is sometimes regarded as international. (The Bahai faith originated in Persia.) It also has considerable importance for the Bahais themselves, since their supreme spiritual leader at the time, Abdul-Baha, occasionally wrote articles for inclusion. His speeches during an extended visit to the United States were faithfully reproduced by the magazine staff and included, as well. To outsiders, “Star of the West” is probably of less interest, since it simply repeats the main tenets of the Bahai faith, which can be found elsewhere.

Bahai sounds very modern and “liberal”, calling for peace, global harmony, equalization of wealth, abolition of slavery, equality between the sexes, and even an international auxiliary language. The “feminist” message is especially pronounced, with Abdul-Baha expressing strong support for the suffragettes, even saying that in nature, the female animals are often stronger or better than the males! (In general, Abdul-Baha emphasizes the differences between humans and animals, however.) An article on Bahai in Canada claims that many members of the Socialist Party and the labour unions had gathered to hear the message of the new faith. It's also interesting to note, that Abdul-Baha addressed a meeting of the Theosophical Society during his visit to the United States. Another address was given to Esperantists.

Bahai claims that all monotheist prophets (a category which includes Jesus) were genuine, but their revelations have been superseded in the present age by the Bahai revelation, given to the 19th century Persian religious reformers Bab and Baha'u'llah. Abdul-Baha was the son and successor of Baha'u'llah. While the message of this new religion sounds enlightened enough, there is also an authoritarian streak. Abdul-Baha is said to be “The Center of the Covenant”, chosen by Baha'u'llah and therefore by God himself, and all Bahais owe him unquestioning loyalty and allegiance. Modern critics claim that the Bahais are really a cult, or have strong tendencies in that direction.

This volume contains issues of “Star in the West” from 1912 and 1914.
It's also available on the web.

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