A Review of the History and Content of Anti—Bahá'í Publications

By Muin Afnani

First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #88
Bosch Bahá'í School: Santa Cruz, California, USA
May 28 – June 1, 2009
(see list of papers from #88)

    This presentation explores the historical context as well as the content of some of the accusations published against the Faith. Most of these accusations surfaced in Persian publications and later on some of them were either translated into other languages or were adapted and published elsewhere.

    Some of the attacks on the Faith are directed to the forms or styles of some of the Writings, while others attack some concepts or principles.

    The Writings of the Báb have been attacked more than others for their style and form. There are also attacks on the content of His Writings. Some examples of both form and content will be discussed and analyzed.    

    The attacks on the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh have also been leveled against their form and their content. The same is true of the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, but to a lesser degree.

    The attacks have come from various sides. The early attacks were mounted by religious fundamentalists. While this continued in later decades, some people who claimed to be secular, or at least pretended to be so, began to attack the Faith. A list of their publications and typical attacks will be shared.

    Since 1930's political accusation against the Faith became popular, and though the specifics of attacks have changed over the years this genre of attacks have remained a popular form in the anti-Bahá'í publications to this day.

    The years of 1905—1909, which was the period of Constitutional Movement in Iran, were particularly tumultuous years for the Bahá'ís because of the accusations leveled against the Bahá'í community from various groups and parties in order to exploit the situation and advance their agenda.

    In short, since 1844, the new Faith of God has been subject to attacks, verbally and in publications, by the clergy, government officials, secularists, nationalists, socialists, and other groups. The form and nature of attacks have changed over the years owning to the changing of religious, cultural, and political climates.

    The Bahá'ís have responded to the attacks, but due to lack of access to media and free press, until recently they had not been able to widely distribute their rebuttals to the accusations.

    Both the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh started the process of writing apologetics to defend the truth of their Cause. For example, Bahá'u'lláh wrote the Book of Iqán in defense of the Cause of His Forerunner, and the Book of Badi' in defense of His own Revelation.

    As time permits the context and content of various forms of attacks will be shared and analyzed.

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