Books and Code · A Miscellany

The Baha'i Faith: An Introduction, by Gloria Faizi (A Review)


I first heard about the Baha’i Faith through my experience with Esperanto. (The two have some ideological overlap and Baha’is believe in a coming universal language, hence many have learned Esperanto.) However, I picked up this little book because I met a Baha’i at a dinner party and wanted to know a bit about it. At just over 100 pages with equal parts exposition and selections from their founding writings, it was exactly what I was looking for. It is divided into three parts. Part One tells the history of the Faith. Part Two explains its primary tenets. Part Three describes how its institutions operate.

Now, regarding the Faith itself: meh. While I readily acknowledge that the doctrines of this religion are an improvement in some ways over other religions, it has some serious problems. The primary idea of the Baha’i Faith is that all major religious traditions contain true divine revelation and any disharmony between them results from two possibilities. Either (1) the invalid tenet was applicable only for that time and place or (2) it is due to human error. Each “dispensation” of divine revelation supposedly exhibits tell-tale signs which enable one to identify frauds.

There’s a lot I could say about the problems with this view, but I don’t think it is quite fair to critique a world view based on a tiny introduction. If I ever read on (which I probably won’t), the key texts are The Book of Certitude and Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah. Which reminds me, the English translations of these works (made in the 1930’s by the 3rd Guardian of the Faith, Shoghi Effendi) are done in the style of the King James Bible. This is ridiculous, annoying, and pretentious.