Memorials of the Faithful:
The Democratization of Sainthood

By Moojan Momen

published in Lights of Irfan, volume 17, pages 205-224
© 2016, ‘Irfán Colloquia

    This paper considers the literary genre and literary history behind Memorials of the Faithful (Tadhkiratu'l-Vafá) as well as examining what is new about the book. The paper will first consider the genre of hagiography in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It will then look at the specific literary precedent set by Farídu'd-Dín's Tadhkiratu'l-Awliyá (Memorials of the Saints), which is the oldest work of this genre in Persian. Next, it looks at the contents of `Abdu'l-Bahá's book, giving some examples of the manner in which `Abdu'l-Bahá follows the hagiographic tradition and where he departs from it; in particular where he highlights particular virtues that related to the needs of the Faith. Finally the paper will examine the manner in which `Abdu'l-Bahá took this traditional literary format and used it in an innovative manner to make a profound statement about a fundamental principle of the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh.