Sabaeanism and African Traditional Religion and Some Christian Islamic and Bahá'í References

By Enoch N. Tanyi

First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #62
Centre for Bahá'í Studies: Acuto, Italy
July 8–12, 2005
(see list of papers from #62)

    According to the Bahá'í teachings, Sabaeanism is the oldest among the nine existing, major religions of the world.

    Two religious groups are referred to as Sabaeans - one group traces its origin to Seth and Enoch, and the other group is made up of the followers of John the Baptist who did not recognize Jesus as a Manifestation of God. The former group is that which is the focus of this paper. African Traditional Religion is the remnant of this type of Sabaeanism.

    The name of the original founder of Sabaeanism is unknown, but this paper shows that at least fifteen Prophets or Messengers of God appeared within Sabaeanism! These fifteen do not include any native Messengers of God who might have appeared in the Americas or elsewhere in the world. Fourteen of these Messengers appeared in a period of about 2,827years, which is the approximate minimum duration of the Sabaean dispensation that extends far into antiquity.

    The languages of revelation in Sabaeanism were, at least, four-the original language (name now unknown), Syriac, Arabic, and Hebrew. Of these four languages, the names of three are known.

    Many of the teachings of Sabaeanism are now unknown. Some, however, can be gleaned from various Sacred Writings. Notable among the essential teachings were monotheism, the oneness of mankind, love and mutual assistance, and peace. The Messengers of Sabaeanism taught the oneness of the Messengers of God and the future appearance of a Messenger at the end of time. Sabaeanism also taught the harmony between science and religion. Multifarious social teachings, most of which have been forgotten, descended from these Messengers up to the time of Shu'eyb (Jethro). However, some of the teachings extant are embodied in those of present-day African Traditional or pagan cultures.

    God entrusted non-Messenger or non-Prophet Sabaeans with missions. They are, Nebuchadnezzar II and the Roman General, Titus. Through a dream that Nebuchadnezzar dreamt, God revealed to humankind the coming of the Zoroastrian, the Christian, the Islamic and the Bábí-Bahá'í dispensations, prophesied the schism in Islam, and the global encompassment and inviolability of the covenant of Bahá'u'lláh. The Greek and Roman kings in the period spanning these two kings were the other persons who discharged divine missions. Alexander the Great was one of the Sabaean kings whose name is expressly mentioned in the Qur'án as having been divinely sent.

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