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The University of Haifa Lectures in Bahá’í Studies

Edited By Soli Shahvar

This volume brings together a selection of essays from the Lecture Series in Bahá’í studies at the University of Haifa. Each chapter explores an aspect of the Bahá’í religion, including its history, community, culture and theoretical perspectives on contemporary issues. The authors discuss topics including the family and descendants of the Báb (founder of the religion from which the Bahá’í Faith emerged), the influential role of Bahá’í schools in the modernization of education in Iran, the process of introducing the law of monogamy into the Iranian Bahá’í community, early connections between Swiss citizens and Bahá’ís in the Middle East, the rich and varied landscape of Persian Bahá’í poetry, and the role of African Americans in the development of the US Bahá’í community, particularly with regard to race relations and the principle of the oneness of humanity. Also presented in this volume are Bahá’í perspectives on contemporary topics including changing conceptions of work and work values, the role of apologetics in interfaith dialogue, and the issue of ‘defamation of religions’ in international human rights discourse. This book will be of interest to readers in various disciplines in the humanities and social sciences who want to become informed in more depth about a wider range of topics in the emerging field of Bahá’í studies.
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The city of Haifa and its environs have had a close historical connection with the Bahá’í religion ever since its founder, Bahá’u’lláh (Mírzá Ḥusayn-‘Alíy-i-Núrí), arrived in the harbour of Haifa in the summer of 1868 as a religious prisoner of the Ottoman Empire. Banished from his native Iran in 1853, he was sent, along with his family and a group of followers, first to Baghdad, then in 1863 to Istanbul, and two years later to Edirne. Finally, on 31 August 1868, the exiles arrived in Haifa en route to the prison citadel of Acre (‘Akká in Arabic) at the northernmost end of Haifa Bay. He lived in that city, or its vicinity, until his death in 1892, and it was during this period that he wrote some of his most important works, foremost being the Kitáb-i-Aqdas [The Most Holy Book], his book of laws.

After the Young Turk Revolution in 1908, political and religious prisoners were freed, and Bahá’u’lláh’s son and successor, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, moved his residence to Haifa. There, in 1909, he arranged for the interment of the remains of Siyyid ‘Alí-Muḥammad, the Báb – the founder of the Bábí religion and forerunner of Bahá’u’lláh – in a mausoleum built at the spot on Mount Carmel that Bahá’u’lláh had pointed out during one of the three visits he made to Haifa. The superstructure of the building would be completed in...

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