Dear Graeme Were,
As I am looking for academic papers on the Bahá’í Faith (I’m a 3rd semester student at the university of Luxembourg, preparing a MA thesis related to the Bahá’í Faith), I came across your article which I read with much interest. Being a member of this community for over 20 years, I just wish to make a couple of comments.
– It may be misleading as you write on page 664 that Muhammad is ‘one of the nine main prophets in the faith’. The following passage from www.bahai.org reflects more accurately the relationship between the Bahá’í Faith and Islam:
o Throughout history, God has revealed Himself to humanity through a series of divine Messengers, whose teachings guide and educate us and provide the basis for the advancement of human society. These Messengers have included Abraham, Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad. Their religions come from the same Source and are in essence successive chapters of one religion from God.
o Bahá’u’lláh, the latest of these Messengers, brought new spiritual and social teachings for our time. His essential message is of unity. He taught the oneness of God, the oneness of the human family, and the oneness of religion.
– On page 665 you mention ‘two Bahá’í missionaries, Rodney Hancock and Sister Violet Hoencke. Bahá’í’s who travel abroad to teach the Faith, spread the message are usually called ‘Pioneers’. Since we don’t have clergy, I’m not sure what you mean by ‘Sister Violet’.
– On page 666 you write that the Bahá’í centre includes photographs of Bahá’u’lláh. This is not a practice encouraged and would be inappropriate. May be the photographs are those of Bahá’u’lláh’s son, Abdu’l -Bahá’.
– On page 671, you write that the faith presents itself ‘as a new religion based on images’. This lead me to wonder whether your study included interviews by members of the Bahá’í Faith, a way to check or confirm your findings.
– Regarding the second paragraph on page 671, I wish to comment that Bahá’í ‘s regard all work carried out with a spirit of a service to mankind as a form of worship.
– Regarding the third paragraph could you please indicate possible sources stating that Bahá’í’s making monetary donations to the Ark Fund will have ‘their names placed in a purpose-built temple in Haifa’. As far as I know there is no Bahá’í temple in Israel.
I wish to thank you for your research. It is always enriching to read other perspectives on a well-known subject. Kindly let me know should you have knowledge of other studies that look at the Bahá’í community.