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     ¶ 53.13. Religious Dialogue: Sabaeanism

There are, historically, two distinct groups of people known as Sabaeans. One is the Sabaeans of Harrán, a "pagan" sect which flourished in the early times of Islam. Muslim writers have written extensively about the group. However, the Qur'án includes the Sabaeans as "People of the Book" three times (2:62, 5:69, and 22:17), and the Bahá'í writings list the Sabaean religion as one of the first world religions of which any record exists today and as one of the nine "true" religions surviving today. This religious group would appear to be, not the Sabaeans of Harrán, but rather a distinct religion of the Abrahamic tradition that flourished in Mesopotamia in the early centuries B.C.E., often equated with the Mandaeans. Shoghi Effendi considered Abraham to be a follower of the Sabaean religion, and elsewhere wrote that it could not be determined whether the Sabaean or the Hindu religions were older. This might seem to be a historical discrepancy, but could be resolved if the Sabaean religion is clearly identified as a form of Mandaeanism, which latter is widely acknowledged to be ancient.

The source of Bahá'í writings with the most quotations on the Sabaean religion is Extracts from the Bahá'í Writings on Buddha, Krishna, Zoroaster, and Related Subjects, in Compilation of Compilations, vol. I. Two paragraphs are in Lights of Guidance, 502.

The only full investigation into the Sabaeans by a Bahá'í--though containing no mention of the Bahá'í Faith--is Christopher Buck's attempts to untangle the identity of the Sabaeans in "The Identity of the Sabi'un: An Historical Quest," in The Muslim World 74 (July/Oct 1984). B. Hoff Conow has also written Who Were the Sabaeans? Clues to a Forgotten Religion, but this work has not been released as of this edition.


    ¶53.15. Religious Dialogue: Zoroastrianism

Zoroastrianism is one of the nine living religions which Bahá'ís regard as founded by a Manifestation of God. Certain Zoroastrian scriptures record that "a descendent of the Iranian kings" named Sháh-Bahrám will arise and bring peace to the world. Shoghi Effendi affirms that Bahá'u'lláh is Sháh-Bahrám (God Passes By 95).

Excluding the traditions of the Abrahamic trajectory, the primary Bahá'í writings mention Zoroastrianism more than any other religion. This is the only "Eastern" religion specifically addressed by Bahá'u'lláh (see, e.g., God Passes By, 211). See, for example, Extracts from the Bahá'í Writings on Buddha, Krishna, Zoroaster, and Related Subjects, in Compilation of Compilations, vol. I, for quotations on Zoroastrianism.

Ferraby 171                               Smith 1987, 92-97                         
Huddleston 38                                                                       

The history of the Bábí and Bahá'í religions has in many ways been closely intertwined with Zoroastrianism. A high percentage of early Bábí converts came from Zoroastrian backgrounds, on which topic Susan Stiles wrote her Master's thesis entitled Zoroastrian Conversions to the Bahá'í Faith in Yazd, Írán, a version of which she published in Juan Cole and Moojan Momen, From Iran East and West: Studies in Bábí and Bahá'í History, volume 2. She complemented this study under the name Susan Stiles Maneck, in "The Conversion of Religious Minorities to the Bahá'í Faith in Iran: Some Preliminary Observations," Journal of Bahá'í Studies, 3.3 (1990-1991): 35-48. Second, Michael Fischer, in his doctoral dissertation Zoroastrian Iran Between Myth and Praxis, has extensively discussed conversions to the Bahá'í Faith and also the 1903 massacre of Bahá'ís at Yazd. Parts of this have been published in Fischer and Mehdi Abedi, Debating Muslims: Cultural Dialogues in Postmodernity and Tradition and reprinted in Bahá'í Faith and Islam, "Social Change and the Mirrors of Tradition: The Bahá'ís of Yazd." The latter discusses Zoroastrianism on pages 36-41.


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