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Unities of All Things

Connections with Sufism
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Unities of All Things, including Heartfulness Inquiry, is influenced, in some respects, by Ṣūfism (Arabic1, Taṣawwuf), the Islāmic mysticism of the heart. Since, however, I am not  a Muslim, Unities of All Things  is not a Ṣūfī activity. Baháʾuʾlláh, like Each of God’s Prophets, manifests absolute Authority or Sovereignty through His Own Revelation of God’s Will. Therefore, each stage of the Religion of God, while a progression over those that preceded it, is a new  divine Dispensation. The Unicentric Paradigm  and Heartfulness Inquirye  are mostly inspired by my personal understandings  of the Baháʾí Faith.

If you are not a Baháʾí, I invite you to investigate this global religion or even to become a member online. The Baháʾí Faith teaches: the Oneness of God, the oneness of God’s revealed religions, the oneness of humanity, and the importance of daily communion with God. It is not a branch of the beautiful religion which is followed by my many Muslim (surrendered) friends. However, just as the Christianity of Jesus is rooted in the Judaism of Moses, the source of the Baháʾí Faith is Islām, the religion of Muḥammad, and the sacred Qurʾān.

Much of this article will contain technical material on Islām, types of Ṣūfism, Islāmic culture, and related areas. For instance, I will discuss similarities and differences between certain common Muslim beliefs and my understandings of Baháʾí texts on those subjects. Although I have tried to write the material as simply as possible, if you would like to explore a particular topic in greater depth, several links to other sources are provided within the text. (Most of them are PDF files stored on this website.) If you are looking for more specifics on Ṣūfism, you may also visit my Ṣūfī Information Central.

In the following passage, Shoghi Effendi provided guidance to participants in a Baháʾí “teaching campaign” (the First Seven Year Plan, 1937-1944):

... They must strive to obtain, from sources that are authoritative and unbiased, a sound knowledge of the history and tenets of Islám–the source and background of their Faith–and approach reverently and with a mind purged from preconceived ideas the study of the Qurʾán which, apart from the sacred scriptures of the Bábí and Baháʾí Revelations, constitutes the only Book which can be regarded as an absolutely authenticated Repository of the Word of God. They must devote special attention to the investigation of those institutions and circumstances that are directly connected with the origin and birth of their Faith, with the station claimed by its Forerunner [the Báb], and with the laws revealed by its Author [Baháʾuʾlláh].
Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice. Page 49.

The Baháʾí Faith is not a sect of the one established, over a millennium earlier, by the Prophet Muḥammad. Each of these religions has its own set of laws and ordinances (Šarʿīʾa, way of conduct or prescription). Both require prayer and fasting, but many of the specifics differ. Baháʾís adore Muḥammad. I often pray to Him. As Jesus, the Son of God, is (in Revelation 22:13) “the Álpha and the Ōmega,” Biblical Greek for “A to Z,” the Beloved Muḥammad is (in the Qurʾān 33:40) “the Seal of the Prophets” (Hātim an-Nabiyīn). Stories of beginnings and endings refer to God, the unknowable Essence of all things.

... were they [the Messengers of God] all to proclaim, “I am the Seal of the Prophets,” they, verily, utter but the truth, beyond the faintest shadow of doubt. For they are all but one person, one soul, one spirit, one being, one revelation. They are all the manifestation of the “Beginning” and the “End,” the “First” and the “Last,” the “Seen” and the “Hidden”–all of which pertain to Him Who is the Innermost Spirit of Spirits and Eternal Essence of Essences.
Baháʾuʾlláh, The Kitáb-i-Íqán. Page 54.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
Genesis 1:1-3. New Revised Standard Version.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:1. New Revised Standard Version.

Because Unities of All Things is a personal  Baháʾí-focused project, and not  Ṣūfī order or other community of Muslims, it cannot be considered as belonging to the beautiful religion of Islām. Nevertheless, just as a basic grasp of both the TaNaḤ (Old Testament) and Hellenistic Judaism is vital for a deeper appreciation of Christianity and its development, understanding the history and teaching of Islām is essential for a sophisticated knowledge of the Baháʾí Faith. Baháʾuʾlláh, peace be upon Him, did not, syncretically or eclectically, combine different religions into Baháʾí Faith.

The Baháʾí Faith, from a Baháʾí perspective, is the latest chapter of the religion of God. Indeed, any knowledgeable Muslim would immediately recognize that the Baháʾí Faith is not a branch of Islām. Just as Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists commonly differentiate between religions using the concept of dharma (Sanskrit for upholding or support), Muslims make a comparable distinction based upon dīn (judgment or authority) or Šarīʿa (way or path of conduct, prescription, or, in common usage, body of religious law). Islām and the Baháʾí Faith have very different sets of religious laws.

I am not, however, a triumphalist. In my view, the chapters in the Religion of God are not improvements on one another. Islām can stand on its own. People who criticize modern Muslims for adapting to the time have perhaps forgotten that the dominant tendencies within Judaism, Christianity, and Islām have all been influenced by syncretism. Religions cannot be separated from their histories. Modern rabbinical Judaism was created in the Diaspora. Later, Maimonides was influenced by Muslim philosophers. Normative Christianity, including the celebration of Christmas and Easter, syncretized the New Testament with Rome. Islāmic philosophy was partially shaped by Neoplatonism.

If religious traditions do not have an authorized means to adapt to the time, like the Baháʾí Universal House of Justice, they do it on the fly. No Orthodox Jewish movements kill adulterers or members of the GSD (gender and sexual diversity) community. Neither do the majority of Christian churches, including those who believe in Biblical verbal inerrancy, discourage women from speaking during services. Yet, according to these Biblical texts:

Sanctify yourselves ..., and be ye holy; for I am Jehovah your God. And ye shall keep my statutes, and do them: I am Jehovah who sanctifieth you. For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall surely be put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him. And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbor’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death. And the man that lieth with his father’s wife hath uncovered his father's nakedness: both of them shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. And if a man lie with his daughter-in-law, both of them shall surely be put to death: they have wrought confusion; their blood shall be upon them. And if a man lie with mankind, as with womankind, both of them have committed abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. And if a man take a wife and her mother, it is wickedness: they shall be burnt with fire, both he and they; that there be no wickedness among you. And if a man lie with a beast, he shall surely be put to death: and ye shall slay the beast. And if a woman approach unto any beast, and lie down thereto, thou shalt kill the woman, and the beast: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
Leviticus 20:7-16, American Standard Version (1901).
As in all the churches of the saints, let the women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but let them be in subjection, as also saith the law. And if they would learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home: for it is shameful for a woman to speak in the church.
St. Paul, I Corinthians 14:33-35, American Standard Version (1901).

The Faith of Baháʾuʾlláh is not Islāmic. Neither does the Baháʾí Faith conform to the Muslim Šarīʿa (way of conduct or legal code), but the history of the Baháʾí Faith, its history, and its Sacred Texts are firmly grounded in the Iṯā ʾAšarī, or Twelver, branch of Šīʾī (“Shiʾih”) Islām. Since Islām is, spiritually and culturally, “the source and background,” or mother faith, of the Baháʾí Faith, Unities of All Things  may, in a sense, be seen as Islāmicate:

“Islamdom” is ... the society in which the Muslims and their faith are recognized as prevalent and socially dominant .... Sometimes the phrase “the Islamic world” is used much in this sense....
... The adjective “Islamic” ... must be restricted to “of or pertaining to Islam” .... Unfortunately, there seems to be no adjective in use for ... the society or culture of Islamdom [the Islāmic world].... I have been driven to invent a term, “Islamicate”.... [It] would refer ... to the social and cultural complex historically associated with Islam and the Muslims, both among Muslims themselves and even when found among non-Muslims.
Michael G.S. Hodgson, The Venture of Islam. Volume 1. The Classical Age of Islam. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press. 1977. Pages 58-59.

The term, “Islāmicate,” refers to groups or movements, Islāmic or not, which began or developed within, or were strongly influenced by, a culture dominated by Muslims. For instance, there has, however, been a long  history, up to the present, of permitting non-Muslims to enter certain Ṣūfī orders. The majority of orders, regardless of their admissions policies, are Islāmic. Some are not. All of them, by accepting Ṣūfī concepts or by using a Ṣūfī vocabulary or simply by originating in Islām or in Ṣūfism, are Islāmicate. With Ṣūfism, taken as a whole, “Islāmicate” may be more accurate.

As Hodgson suggested, the noun, “Islāmdom,” might replace “the Islāmic world.” Yet, I see no reason why “Islāmicate” could not also be a noun. In the English language, a noun with the same ending, “Caliphate” (Hilāfa, successorship or representation), refers to the historical religious leadership structure of the largest branch of the Muslim population. (The Turkish government ended the Caliphate in 1924.) For this reason, I use “Islāmicate” as both  an adjective and a noun. The concept of Ṣūfism, as an example, may be defined as an Islāmicate. Unities of All Things  is partially  an Islāmicate.

An early example of Islāmicate inclusiveness is found in Dārā Šikuh (Persian, دارا شكوه, and Urdū, دارا شِكوه‎). His name translates from the Persian and Urdū as possessor of magnificance. He lived from 16151659:

... Dārā Shikōh, Muḥammad], the eldest son of the Mughal emperor Shāhjahān and Mumtāz Maḥal, was born in the city of Ajmer....
Dārā was a patron of arts, architecture, and literature and was himself a skilled calligrapher, artist, poet, writer, and translator. He wrote several works on Sufism and translated a few remarkable Sanskrit works into Persian. Dārā appears to have been interested in the Qādiriyya Ṣūfī silsila (literally, “order” [sic, chain]) from his childhood. He was formally initiated by Mullā Shāh into the Qādiriyya silsila sometime in 1639 or 1640. He remained committed to his silsila throughout his life, and as a poet he adopted “Qādirī” as his pen name.
It was his interest in Sufism that led Dārā to start writing in 1639 or 1640. His first four works were on Sufism. The first, Safīnat al-Awliyāʾ (Ship of the saints [technically crowned authority]), contains more than four hundred short biographies of Ṣūfī saints of various orders. The second, Sakīnat al–Awliyāʾ (Tranquility of the saints), encompasses the lives of twenty-eight Qādirī Ṣūfīs, mostly Dārā's contemporaries. The third work, Risāla-i Ḥaqq numāʾ (The compass of the truth), is a manual aimed at explaining the theory and practice of Ṣūfī meditation. The fourth work, Ḥasanāt al-ʿĀrifīn (Merits of the Gnostics), is a collection of the shaţḥiyyāt (ecstatic utterances) of the Ṣūfī saints from the eleventh century down to Dārā's own time. His Ṣūfī writings show that he was an enthusiastic follower of the doctrine of waḥdat al-wujūd (oneness of being) and advocated an inclusive approach towards other religions.
It was Dārā’s broad-minded Ṣūfī attitude that brought him to the study of Hinduism. He held a series of dialogues with a Hindu yogi, Bābā Lāl Dās, and discussed with him various concepts of Hinduism, at times comparing them with Islam. This conversation was later compiled as Sūʾāl-o-jawāb Dārā Shukōh-o-Bābā Lāl Dās (The dialogue between Dārā Shukōh and Bābā Lāl Dās). As a result of his discussion with Bābā Lāl and other Ṣūfīs he wrote Majmaʿ al-Baḥrayn (The Mingling of the Two Oceans). This work represents one of the most important attempts to reconcile Islam and Hinduism in the history of Indian thought, and specifically in the field of comparative religion. Yet despite its ecumenical nature, Majmaʿ became the most controversial work written by Dārā.
Perwaiz Hayat, “Dārā Shikōh, Muḥammad.” Encyclopedia of Religion. Lindsay Jones, editor. Second edition. Volume 4. Detroit, MI: Macmillan Reference USA. 2005. Pages 2218-2220.
Prince Darn Shikoh (d. 1619), the Sufi son of the Mogul Emperor Shah Jahan, was able to affirm that Sufism and Advaita Vedantism are essentially the same, with a surface difference of terminology.
Martin Lings (Abū Bakr Sirāj-ud-Dīn), What is Sufism? Lahore, Pakistan: Suhail Academy. 2005. Page 99.

Another interesting case of Islāmicate interfaith activity is found with Rām Čandra (1873-1931). He is the first known Hindū, and non-Muslim, shaykh (šayh) in any of the Ṣūfī orders in his tradition (the Naqšbandī Ṣūfī tradition). Some of the groups which are traced back to him continue to describe themselves as Ṣūfī (and Naqšbandī). Others, like Rām Čandra himself (also known as Lālaji, Sanskrit for “caressed one”), are basically Hindū. An even more striking example is connected with the liberal Ṣūfī, Śirdī Sāi Bābā (around 1837-1918). His movement (related to the Čištī tradition) is now mostly  Hindū.

Islāmicate universalism of a different kind is seen in the non-Islāmic Sufi Order of the Star (Čištī, Halwatī-Ǧirāḥī, Naqšbandī, and ʿUwaysī traditions). Although I am not a member, I happily maintain the website for my dear friend, since the 1970s, Murshid Isa Lions (Muršid ʿĪsā Lions). The order is devoted to Murshid Isa’s longtime spiritual teacher, Meher Baba (Mihr Bābā). For what it’s worth, I respect Meher Baba. Periodically, I will pray for his departed soul. He appears to have been a kind-hearted individual. However, I am devotee of Baháʾuʾlláh, my dear Best Beloved, not of Meher Baba.

Influenced by the longstanding interfaith convergence of mystical Hindūs and Muslims, the South Asian Bhaktī-Ṣūfī movement, Indian-born Hazrat Inayat Khan (Arabic and Urdū, Ḥaḍrat ʿInāyat Han), 1882-1927, started another version of Islāmicate inclusiveness, in 1914, through the specifically non-Islāmic Universal Ṣūfism (Čištī tradition). There are now several independent branches of this “neo-Ṣūfī,” or modern Ṣūfī, movement. Distinct from the others, a rather distinct breakaway group, Ṣūfism Reoriented, like Sufi Order of the Star, accepts Meher Baba as the avatār (Sanskrit, avatāra descent or incarnation of God) for the present age.

Ṣūfism, as understood by Universal Ṣūfīs, began long before the lifetime of the stainless Messenger Muḥammad. The common view held by Muslims, “Islām is the religion which was taught and followed by all the Prophets,” has been reinterpreted as, “Ṣūfism is the essence  or the heart  of all religions.” The Prophets Themselves have become “the Masters of humanity.” While making Ṣūfism more acceptible to a general Western audience, Khan partially redefined it. He and his successors, including Pir Zia Inayat Khan, developed an all-embracing mysticism:

Although Sufism is the essence of all religions and its influence is upon all, yet it can more justly be called the esoteric side of Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
Hazrat Inayat Khan, Inayat Khan: On Sufism.
Islām itself can be distinguished between name-brand Islām and generic Islām. The Qurʾān Šarīf [Noble Qurʾān] itself refers to a multiplicity of prophets. It says, “We have sent a prophet to every community.” And in the hadith [al-ḥadīṯ] literature — that is to say, in the transmission of the sayings of the Prophet Muḥammad, peace be upon him — there is reference to 124,000 messengers. These were all messengers of a single divine message, and that divine message is Islām in the generic sense, the essential religion within all existing religious forms, including the form that we call “Islām,” which is really the Muḥammadan version of Islām. That is name-brand Islām.
Ṣūfism has a deep, essential connection with both generic Islām, with universal religiosity, which is the common dimension of the depth of human experience, which can be found in the depths of all world religions, and which can be traced back to the earliest prophets. And Sufism as a historical phenomenon also has a special connection with the dispensation of the Islāmic religion, which is one form out of many of the “risāla,” of the message.
Pir Zia Inayat Khan (grandson of Hazrat Inayat Khan), “Pir Zia Inayat Khan on Sufism.” Centrum Universel. November, 2002. Retrieved on September 2, 2013.
Since much of the historical development of Sufism has been in parts of the world where Islam is the predominant form of religious practice, many Sufis worldwide are Muslims. However, the Sufi Order International inherits a stream of “universal” Sufism which began in India nearly 800 years ago, affirming the common ideals of all faiths.
FAQ.” Sufi Order International—Seattle. 2013. Retrieved on September 10, 2013.

Few Ṣūfī groups, outside India and the West, have taken inclusive approaches of this type. However, in North America, Europe, Australia, and so forth, Khan’s impression upon Ṣūfism, and on public perceptions of it, has been similar to the effect of Swami Vivekananda (Svāmī Vivekānanda) with Hindūism. Both men came from India, a land of contrasts. Each of them redefined his spiritual tradition by universalizing it. Vivekananda’s impact has been much greater and more widespread. Nevertheless, virtually all modern Ṣūfī movements have benefited, directly or not, from Khan’s reformulation of Ṣūfism.

One example of Khan’s universalizing influence, now faded from the limelight, is the non-Islāmic Shah Movement. It is grounded in the Naqšbandī, not the Čištī, Čištī tradition. The approaches taken by the brothers, Idries Shah (Idrīs Šāh) and Omar Ali-Shah (ʿUmar ʿAlī-Šāh) differed in some areas. However, many of their shared viewpoints, including universalism, resembled Inayat Khan’s. Although observing the religious laws (Šarʿīʾa, way of conduct or prescription) of the Prophet is expected of devotees (murīdūn) in the vast majority of traditional Ṣūfī orders, there is no such requirement in either the Shah Movement or Universal Ṣūfism.

The guidance offered by the Best Beloved, Baháʾuʾlláh, on the subject of obedience to God’s laws, is very different. The following passage is contained within one of His more important Ṣūfī-oriented essays:

In all these journeys the traveler must stray not the breadth of a hair from the “Law” [al-Šarʿīʾa], for this is indeed the secret of the “Path” [al-Ṭarīqa] and the fruit of the Tree of “Truth” [al-Ḥaqīqa]; and in all these stages he must cling to the robe of obedience to the commandments, and hold fast to the cord of shunning all forbidden things, that he may be nourished from the cup of the Law and informed of the mysteries of Truth.
Baháʾuʾlláh, “The Seven Valleys,” The Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys. Pages 39-40.

Among the requirements of the Baháʾí legal code is the formal annulment of the social institution of clergy. Therefore, Unities of All Things  has no Ṣūfī  guides (muršidīn). There are numerous terms2, mostly in Arabic, for the intimate relationship which is established between the devotee and the guide. For instance, the devotee may make a covenant with, even “sell” herself to, the guide. In some cases, the guide is visualized, by the devotee, as the direction for prayer (point of adoration). The goal is to receive the guide’s Ṣūfī transmissions or blessings or, with some Ṣūfī orders, life-giving waters.

However, in Unities of All Things  and, more generally, in the Baháʾí Faith, one gives one’s loyalty, as a Covenant, solely in relationship to Baháʾuʾlláh, the Best Beloved. One’s only point of prayerful adoration is the Shrine of the dearest Lord of Hosts. One then receives, by His grace, the wellspring of life, the outpourings of the Spirit, and the heavenly blessings of God. Therefore, Baháʾís are: the devotees (al-murīdūn), the lovers (al-muḥibīn), the paupers (al-fuqarā), and the students (al-ṭālibūn) of Baháʾuʾlláh, and the wayfarers (al-sālikūn) on His devotional walk of the heart.

Even so, if a Baháʾí were to accept a shaykh (šayh), or any similar Ṣūfī leader, the following contradictions might immediately result: First, the Revelation of Baháʾuʾlláh could no longer be the full yardstick for her beliefs and her conduct. Second, her ability to clearly evaluate, much less to refuse, her shaykh’s instructions would be compromised. In other words, a Baháʾí who has adopted two guides then becomes  the actual guide. As the ultimate head, judge, and standard, she must continally decide between her pair of moral authorities.

In addition, according to the Religion of Baháʾuʾlláh, no individual  has the authority (al-sulṭān) to function as a shaykh for anyone else, nor can one person accuse another of disobedience (al-ʿiṣyān). Furthermore, all the followers of the Prophet, not merely the chosen few, are the friends (al-awlīyā or, in Persian, valīān) of God. Given that the word, al-awlīyā (singular, al-walī), is sometimes translated, roughly, as saints, an intriguing comparison might be made with the Koinē (Greek, common) Greek (in the New Testament texts), hagiōi (saints), which refers to all the believers, as well.

Historically, in Islām, not all Ṣūfīs have belonged to orders or followed members of the clergy. The term, ʿUwaysī (plural, ʿUwaysīān), for instance, describes someone who obtains guidance or a specific religious calling (or “station”), within the world of spirits (al-ʿālam al-arwāḥ), from an outwardly and a physically unrelated being. These extraordinary entities, whether living or dead or even mythological, have included the dear Prophet Muḥammad, the legendary al-Hiḍr (the Green One), and departed Ṣūfī shaykhs (šuyuh, elders), such as the founders of orders (ayimma or “imāms,” pathfinders).

Within that last category of deceased clergy is, perhaps, Gohar Shahi (Arabic and Urdū, Gawhar Šāhī). He was born in 1941, but followers differ over whether he died in 2001 or 2003 or is now merely in hiding (similar to an “occultation”). Another is the major source of inspiration for Shahi’s work, Ḥaḍrat Sulṭān Bāhū (roughly, 1628-1691). Although Bāhū is regarded as the founder of the Sārwarī Qādirīyah Ṣūfī Order, he, like Rebbe Naḥman (1772-1810) of Bratslav Ḥasidic Judaism, actually refused  to appoint a replacement. Nevertheless, each has had one or more claimants to that title.

When Hazrat Gohar Shai was at about the age of thirty four, at one night Hazrat Bari Imam (tomb is in Islamabad) appeared before him and said: “My son your time has come, you must go to the shrine of Sultan Bahu to receive the Spiritual Knowledge.” Hazrat Gohar Shahi then left every thing and went to shrine of Hazrat Sultan Bahu. Sultan Bahu appeared before him and advised to read and act upon his book Nurul Huda (Light of Guidance) and go to Sehwan Sharif, Distt. Dadu, Pakistan. Hazrat Gohar Shahi read the book Nurul Huda and went to Sehwan Sharif for self-purification and peace of heart....
Shah Sahib then left his work, family and parents and went to Shorkot, where under the blessful supervision of Sakhi Sultan Bahu sahib [Gohar Shahi] made the book Nur-Al-Huda (a book written by Sultan Bahu Sahib), his journey’s companion. He then went to Sehwan Sharif for self-mortification and peace of heart and spent a period of three years in the mountains of Sehwan Sharif and the forest of Laal Baagh in self-Purification. Thereafter pursuant to a revelation Shah Sahib [Gohar Shahi] went to Jaam Shorow where he spent six months in a hut behind the Textbook Board Building, henceforth, with Almighty Allah’s will, His Holiness Shah Sahib started to shower Almighty Allah’s creation with his benevolence.
Gohar Shahi. 2009. Retrieved on September 8, 2013.
I have never claimed to be Mehdi. The false claimant is misled and ill-fated. However, I have elaborated the signs of True Mehdi. As Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) has a seal of prophet at his back. Likewise on the back of Mehdi there will be a seal of Mehdi which will be embossed by veins and who so ever will posses this sign we will accept him has Imam Mehdi.
Gohar Shahi, A Great Spiritual Personality. October, 1999. Retrieved on September 8, 2013.

The silent transmissions of inner knowledge or gnōsis, believed to be inwardly passed down from guide to devotee, are, like the individuals who have received them, commonly called ʿUwaysī. Soul to soul, and entirely within the otherworldly realms of inspired dreams (manāmāt) and visions (ruʾan), vows of Ṣūfī loyalty, like the oaths of fealty or faithfulness owed to a European feudal lord in the Middle Ages, will be pledged one to another. Many of the life histories surrounding these episodes, biographical or autobiographical, make for fascinating reading.

The word, “ʿUwaysī,” was adopted from the reported case of Muḥammad’s contemporary, ʿUways al-Qaranī. According to various traditional accounts, he swore or, literally, “sold” (bayʿah) his spiritual allegiance to the Prophet of Islām while he was having a dream. The two men never met physically. Although the events surrounding the life of ʿUways al-Qaranī may be legendary, or partially so, he has inspired individuals to claim inner spiritual direction, and sometimes even authority over Ṣūfī orders, as a result of similar experiences. For a few examples, see my ʿUwaysī Approach to Ṣūfism links page.

My reason for mentioning ʿUways al-Qaranī, and the sacred transmissions named after him, is not to compare them with Unities of All Things. Baháʾís are connected with Baháʾuʾlláh through His Covenant (ʿAhd). Since the value of any mystical gnōsis, or inner knowledge, is judged by the Baháʾí texts, a Ṣūfī “guide” would have no authority. As I suggested in an earlier chapter, basing one’s belief system upon subjective gnōsis can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. One may simply see what one expects and desires to see. My point is that following clergy has not always been required to be a Ṣūfī.

On the other hand, Baháʾuʾlláh’s conversations with the Maiden (al-Ḥūrīya or, in Persian, Ḥūrī), the Holy Spirit (Attributes of God) as the Divine Feminine, might be described, metaphorically, as a kind of ʿUwaysī transmission. Similar experiences are associated with the saintly Muḥammad as well as with other Prophets:

... the “Most Great Spirit,” as designated by Baháʾuʾlláh Himself, revealed itself to Him, in the form of a “Maiden,” and bade Him “lift up” His “voice between earth and heaven”—that same Spirit which, in the Zoroastrian, the Mosaic, the Christian, and Muḥammadan Dispensations, had been respectively symbolized by the “Sacred Fire,” the “Burning Bush,” the “Dove,” and the “Angel Gabriel.”
Messages to America: 1932-1946. Page 100.

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1 I am not fluent in Arabic, but I can work with it. Unless otherwise stated, all English translations are from the Arabic or Persian languages (or, in some cases, a “Persianized” Arabic). There are differences, which will be evident, between the system of transliteration, or romanization, of Arabic and Persian words contained in official Baháʾí texts and the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) system (or the Tiberian system for some Hebrew words) adopted in other parts of this work. (See this page on verb conjugation.) Diacritics (the signs used in transliteration) for various languages have sometimes been modified in quotations. Focusing on both translation and transliteration has, from my perspective, been a way to draw close, in my heart, to the individuals and ideas being discussed. Perhaps your experiences will be similar. Learning any “tongue” comes through love:
Speak in the Persian tongue, though the Arab please thee more;
A lover hath many a tongue at his command.
From Rūmī’s Maṯnawī (Persian, Maṯnavī), quoted by Baháʾuʾlláh, “The Seven Valleys.” The Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys. Page 58.

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2 In Arabic, entering into a relationship with the guide is “nisba.” Making a covenant or pact with her or him is “ʿahd.” Selling one’s loyalty to a Ṣūfī teacher is “bayʿah.” One may also face (tawaǧǧuh) in the direction (qibla, the term used for a prayerful point of adoration) of the guide to receive a blessing (baraka), a Ṣūfī transmission (fayḍ, outpouring or emanation), and life-giving  water (wird).

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Copyright © 2010- Mark A. Foster, Ph.D. All rights reserved.


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