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Old 09-11-2010, 08:58 PM   #1
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What is the bahai view of Holy icons?

Because typically Christians have had a long use of icons within the church and liturgical service, even going as far as to have a whole eccumenical council defend the use of Holy icons. So what is the bahai view of icons. Are they idolatrous or allowable?
 
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Old 09-11-2010, 09:20 PM   #2
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Well, there is only one physical picture of Bahá'u'lláh in existence, which is the only one Bahá'ís are allowed to look at. However, there many pictures of 'Abdu'l-Bahá that we can look at so long as we don't worship the pictures.
 
Old 09-11-2010, 09:27 PM   #3
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We have photos availible of most of our "saints" which can be displayed anywhere. As for Photos of Baha'u'llah "

"There is no objection that the believers look at the picture of Bahá'u'lláh, but they should do so with the utmost reverence, and should also not allow that it be exposed openly to the public, even in their private homes."-(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, 6 December 1939)

Other than that from what I have seen Baha'is are not huge on using paintings prefering to stay with caligraphy for religous artwork.
 
Old 09-12-2010, 06:09 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Clex19 View Post
Well, there is only one physical picture of Bahá'u'lláh in existence....
In fact, there are two such photographs.


Bruce
 
Old 09-12-2010, 06:34 AM   #5
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@Bruce Thanks. My bad. There's also a painting of Bahá'u'lláh and a painting of the Báb.

Last edited by Clex19; 09-12-2010 at 07:37 AM.
 
Old 09-12-2010, 03:41 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Orthodox View Post
Because typically Christians have had a long use of icons within the church and liturgical service, even going as far as to have a whole eccumenical council defend the use of Holy icons. So what is the bahai view of icons. Are they idolatrous or allowable?
Many Christians when they become Baha'is may have some pictures of Jesus say in their homes.. Initially we're told that they can keep them but in time they will learn that having pictures of Jesus and the Manifestations is not honoring them.

In Houses of Worship:

O people of the world! Build ye houses of worship
throughout the lands in the name of Him Who is the
Lord of all religions. Make them as perfect as is possible
in the world of being, and adorn them with that which
befitteth them, not with images and effigies. Then,
with radiance and joy, celebrate therein the praise of
your Lord, the Most Compassionate. Verily, by His 30
remembrance the eye is cheered and the heart is filled
with light.


(Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 29)

"As to the character of the meetings in the Auditorium of the Temple, he feels that they should be purely devotional in character, Bahá'í addresses and lectures should be strictly excluded. For the present, he feels that there would be no objection to having Bahá'í meetings including addresses and the business sessions of the Convention held in the Foundation Hall. Shoghi Effendi would urge that choir singing by men, women and children encouraged in the Auditorium and that rigidity in the Bahá'í service be scrupulously avoided. The more universal and informal the character of Bahá'í worship in the Temple the better. Images and pictures, with the exception of the Greatest Name, should strictly excluded. Prayers revealed by Bahá'u'lláh and the Master as well as sacred Writings of the Prophets should be read or chanted as well as hymns based upon Bahá'í or non-Bahá'í sacred Writings."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, April 2, 1931)

(Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 606)

"The prohibition on representing the Manifestation of God in paintings and drawings or in dramatic presentations applies to all the Manifestations of God. There are, of course, great and wonderful works of art of past Dispensations, many of which portrayed the Manifestations of God in a spirit of reverence and love. In this Dispensation however the greater maturity of mankind and the greater awareness of the relationship between the Supreme Manifestation and His servants enable us to realize the impossibility of representing, in any human form, whether pictorially, in sculpture or in dramatic representation, the Person of God's Manifestations. In stating the Baha'i prohibition, the beloved Guardian pointed out this impossibility."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, March 9, 1977--Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 100 )

Last edited by arthra; 09-12-2010 at 03:52 PM.
 
Old 09-12-2010, 07:51 PM   #7
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Interesting that he should deny the use of images or icons. Very interesting is all I can say. Thank you for the sources. But what does the phrase "with the exception of the greatest name" mean? The greatest name is the name of God, Yahweh.
 
Old 09-12-2010, 08:46 PM   #8
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Orthodox, when you say "Icons" do you mean people or symbols? As far as people go, it is better to not display the Prophet Baha'u'llah or other figures because it is generally seen as disrespectful or unnecessary. As far as symbols go, there is a lot of meaning in Baha'i symbols (nine pointed star, Ringstone symbol, haykal, etc). I don't think those are necessarily a problem either as long as they do not impede worship of God. In fact, these kind of symbols could even aid a person in that.
 
Old 09-12-2010, 08:49 PM   #9
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Icon is another word for image essentially as I understand it. Icons are typically pictures which represent certain historical figures within the church. Go to any orthodox church and you will see what an icon is, i garuntee.
 
Old 09-13-2010, 09:30 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Orthodox View Post
[W]hat does the phrase "with the exception of the greatest name" mean? The greatest name is the name of God, Yahweh.
The Greatest Name has a specific meaning for Baha'is, it being one of the primary symbols of our faith. It's a calligraphy of "Ya Baha'u'l-Abha," "O Glory of Glories" or "O Glory of the All-glorious" and is a symbol found in our temples and often displayed in Baha'i homes. You can see a picture of it in the article about the North American Baha'i House of Worship, which is in Wilmette, IL (just north of Chicago). The image in question is near the end of the article in a picture of the top of the dome. Here are some sites for this:

Baha'i House of Worship - Chicago, USA

Baha'i Faith Symbol Gallery

(In addition to the nine-pointed star <which has its own meanings>, there's also another symbol of the Baha'i Faith, a form commonly called the "ringstone symbol" because Baha'is tend to wear it on a ring; actually, it's another form of this same Greatest Name.)

Regards, :-)

Bruce
 
Old 09-16-2010, 11:57 AM   #11
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@ arthra

You really are one of the most knowledgeable Baha'is I have encountered on the internet Art - when I have questions I'm coming to you first from now on! (you lucky little Baha'i you....)
 
Old 09-29-2010, 03:42 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boethiah View Post
Orthodox, when you say "Icons" do you mean people or symbols? As far as people go, it is better to not display the Prophet Baha'u'llah or other figures because it is generally seen as disrespectful or unnecessary. As far as symbols go, there is a lot of meaning in Baha'i symbols (nine pointed star, Ringstone symbol, haykal, etc). I don't think those are necessarily a problem either as long as they do not impede worship of God. In fact, these kind of symbols could even aid a person in that.
Icons are objects of veneration in Orthodoxy. They can be images of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, angels, apostles and saints, in Byzantine art style, and the priests and laity commonly 'cross themselves', kiss, kneel, pray and often prostrate themselves before the icons.

Catholics go a step further and also make statues of the aforementioned 'holy ones' of their religion, which Orthodox consider 'heretical and blasphemous idol worship'. Muslims see no difference between the two and consider both to be 'idolatry', which is why images of Muhammad are forbidden.

Baha'is also have followed in this Muslim tradition by keeping the only images of the Bab and Baha'u'llah in the archives building on Mount Carmel in Israel, where only Baha'is on a formal 9 day pilgrimage are permitted to view them. (was I ever upset when I learned that only after arriving on my one and only 3 day pilgrimage in 1998!)

Photos and paintings of Abdul-Baha and the Greatest Name symbols are proudly and respectfully displayed in most Baha'i homes, but under no circumstances are they to be 'venerated'. Unlike Muslims however, we do not put out fatwahs and death sentences on those who fail to understand or show proper respect to the teachings of our faith in this matter, whether they are Baha'is or non-Baha'is.

Personally, I see both Orthodox 2-dimensional and Catholic 2- and 3-dimensional 'veneration' of religious figures as just left-over vestiges of pagan-style worship that was common in the pre-Christian Greco-Roman era. I love all of it as artwork and have a lot of Byzantine religious iconography in my home - but I don't kiss, kneel, and pray before them - or my photos of Abul-Baha. That's the difference I think. The 'veneration' of an object is an earlier and less mature tradition of Christian worship - however, the beauty of the artistic expression and symbolism to be found in the rituals, art and architecture of both Orthodoxy and Catholicism are indeed a thing of beauty and I always enjoy visiting to worship in fellowship - even if I don't choose to live there.:wub
 
Old 09-29-2010, 06:33 PM   #13
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Bahais really haven't followed the islamic position, the islamic position rejects icons completely, Bahais use pictures and icons, it is its own position. That being said, the veneration of the saints and icons is far from a left over view of paganism, it is giving the respect and reverence these things mean, the Saints were real people, Christ was truely God in flesh, this is why the Orthodox are so adamant in defending Holy icons, it is not akin to the pagan traditions, and in fact I see no evidence the pagans actually venerated or used the icons in the way we do. That being said, the faith of Orthodoxy is completely mature.
 
Old 09-29-2010, 07:51 PM   #14
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Orthodox..

Bahais really haven't followed the islamic position, the islamic position rejects icons completely, Bahais use pictures and icons, it is its own position.

You started this thread and asked what is the Baha'i view of ikons and images. Now you seem to want to argue about it..and you seem to be proselytyizing your beliefs here... Most people who have seen your posts are by now aware that you identify with your church.. If it helps you to know I doubt any one here has a problem with you venerating your Holy Ikons..

But as Baha'is we don't use images of the Manifestations of God and venerate them.. If you go to our House of Worship and there's one in Sydney Australia you will not find any ikons or images and no one is venerating or worshipping them..

I would say that what we Baha'is most often use in our devotions and prayer life are the inspired Words revealed by Baha'u'llah, the Bab and Abdul-Baha.. and we look to Their example and folow Their recommendations.

Last edited by arthra; 09-29-2010 at 07:59 PM.
 
Old 09-29-2010, 11:36 PM   #15
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argue about it? I just felt the need for correction, as I think the statement is misleading, it might make others think Muslims use images, and we should never bare a false witness against anyone. And Arthra, Im not even going to deal with your proslytising claim, its pathetic, Stop it.

That being said, I have heard hte Bahai view and thats all there is to it.
 
Old 07-25-2013, 12:05 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BruceDLimber View Post
Baha'i Faith Symbol Gallery

(In addition to the nine-pointed star <which has its own meanings>, there's also another symbol of the Baha'i Faith, a form commonly called the "ringstone symbol" because Baha'is tend to wear it on a ring; actually, it's another form of this same Greatest Name.)
Sorry, but it's not correct in next points:
1. Nine-pointed star is not the symbol of the Faifh.
Shoghi Effendi wrote:
"Concerning the number nine: the Bahá'ís reverence this for two reasons, first because it is considered by those who are interested in numbers as the sign of perfection. The second consideration, which is the more important one, is that it is the numerical value of the word "Bahá’"…

"Besides these two significances the number nine has no other meaning. It is, however, enough to make the Bahá'ís use it when an arbitrary number is to be chosen."

2. Not every five-pointed star is the symbol of the Faift - only exactly
"Strictly speaking the 5-pointed star is the symbol of our Faith, as used by the Báb and explained by Him."
 
Old 07-25-2013, 07:49 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Orthodox View Post
Icon is another word for image essentially as I understand it. Icons are typically pictures which represent certain historical figures within the church. Go to any orthodox church and you will see what an icon is, i garuntee.
As the Orthodox understand it, we don't have any equivalent of icons -- but that doesn't mean they are prohibited. Images are prohibited in the House of Worship because its architecture is meant to stimulate more of an inner focus, and leave us to our own thoughts on God -- rather than those stimulated by external stimuli.

Within private homes, it comes down to the individual believer. I know Bahá'ís who have pictures of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and scenes from early Bahá'í history. I know a handful who also have a lot of calligraphy -- but these are usually Persian Bahá'ís, and I think this is as much cultural as it is religious.

I think the following few quotes illustrate our attitude toward images and worship:

1490. Praying to Bahá'u'lláh -- As the door

"We cannot know God directly, but only through His Prophets. We can pray to Him realizing that through His Prophets we know Him, or we can address our prayer in thought to Bahá'u'lláh, not as God, but as the Door to our knowing God.

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer: High Endeavours: Messages to Alaska, p.71) 458

1491. We may Turn to the Guardian in Prayer, but Should not Confuse His Station with that of a Prophet

"We pray to God, or to Bahá'u'lláh, as we please. But if in our thoughts we desire to turn to the Guardian first and then address our prayer, there is no objection, as long as we always bear in mind he is only the Guardian, and do not confuse his station with that of the Prophet or even the Master."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, August 22, 1947)

1492. Turning toward the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh in Prayer

"In prayer the believers can turn their consciousness toward the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh, provided that in doing so they have a clear and correct understanding of His station as a Manifestation of God" (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 15, 1953)

1493. Through 'Abdu'l-Bahá one can Address Bahá'u'lláh

"If you find you need to visualize someone when you pray, think of the Master. Through Him you can address Bahá'u'lláh. Gradually try to think of the qualities of the Manifestation, and in that way a mental form will fade out, for after all the body is not the thing, His Spirit is there and is the essential, everlasting element."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 31, 1959)

The Guardian also prayed to Bahíyyíh to intercede on his behalf in Abhá Kingdom.

While none of this has anything to do specifically with physical images, we do worship through figures and ask others for their intercession - which means we do use visual aids, even though they are mental.

'Abdu'l-Bahá said that believers should use any previous religious traditions that enhance their worship experience, so long as they do not detract from the experience of others or cause harm to oneself or another. I thus think Bahá'ís are fully within the right to use Icons in their home, as long as they are aware of the intended purpose of Icons and recognize that it is not worshipping an image. I just can't think of any who choose to do this.
 
Old 10-14-2013, 03:24 AM   #18
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Catholics go a step further and also make statues of the aforementioned 'holy ones' of their religion, which Orthodox consider 'heretical and blasphemous idol worship'. Muslims see no difference between the two and consider both to be 'idolatry', which is why images of Muhammad are forbidden.

Baha'is also have followed in this Muslim tradition by keeping the only images of the Bab and Baha'u'llah in the archives building on Mount Carmel in Israel, where only Baha'is on a formal 9 day pilgrimage are permitted to view them. (was I ever upset when I learned that only after arriving on my one and only 3 day pilgrimage in 1998!)

Photos and paintings of Abdul-Baha and the Greatest Name symbols are proudly and respectfully displayed in most Baha'i homes, but under no circumstances are they to be 'venerated'. Unlike Muslims however, we do not put out fatwahs and death sentences on those who fail to understand or show proper respect to the teachings of our faith in this matter, whether they are Baha'is or non-Baha'is.
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Last edited by blackgul; 01-11-2017 at 02:31 AM.
 
Old 10-14-2013, 02:01 PM   #19
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I think that images are forbidden in the temple so as to discourage excessive attachment to the outer form of the lamp in recognition of the expectation that one day the light will come from a new lamp, and historically excessive attachment to the outer form of the old lamp has induced people to deny the light when it shines forth from a new lamp.

Although not a symbol issued by the central figures of our faith, and not subject to veneration, the 9 pointed star is commonly used on Baha'i books similarly to the way the star and crescent moon are used on many masjids.

The calligraphic Ya-Baha'ul-Abha is similar to calligraphic signs such as the Arabic form of Allah which sometimes adorns Muslim buildings.
 
Old 11-02-2013, 05:03 AM   #20
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You shared very good information about this topic. I get help from your this post.
Thank for your sharing
 
Old 11-02-2013, 06:37 AM   #21
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The Suriyi Haykal is an important Tablet.

It is the Tablet of the Temple (Body).

In this Tablet the Voice of God speaks to His Body.

May mankind come to understand.

Last edited by differenceisgood; 11-02-2013 at 06:39 AM.
 
Old 11-04-2013, 03:23 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Orthodox View Post
Interesting that he should deny the use of images or icons. Very interesting is all I can say. Thank you for the sources. But what does the phrase "with the exception of the greatest name" mean? The greatest name is the name of God, Yahweh.
Good morning Orthodox

You have commenced a most interesting thread. Thank you.

Noticing that your question had not been answered. In one sense, you are correct when you say "The greatest name is the name of God,...". In another sense, it can be viewed differently, and to a Baha'i means much more.

God, being the possessor of all Names, can be called by any one of those Names.However, there is one name which is regarded as the Greatest Name of God, and that Name is "Baha", or 'Glory'. Quoting from Note 33 of the Kitab-i-Aqdas:

Quote:
The various derivatives of the word “Bahá” are also regarded as the Greatest Name. Shoghi Effendi’s secretary writing on his behalf explains that

The Greatest Name is the Name of Bahá’u’lláh. “Yá Bahá’u’l-Abhá” is an invocation meaning: “O Thou Glory of Glories!” “Alláh-u-Abhá” is a greeting which means: “God the All-Glorious.” Both refer to Bahá’u’lláh. By Greatest Name is meant that Bahá’u’lláh has appeared in God’s Greatest Name, in other words, that He is the supreme Manifestation of God.
There are also other variations, all based around the Name "Baha".

With warm greetings

Romane
 
Old 02-12-2014, 11:00 PM   #23
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peoples are getting distracted from the icon. Now need a big change to restore the privious trend. something buzz which rebuild old belief
 
Old 02-13-2014, 01:23 AM   #24
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The icons of the orthodox church, they contain not just only icons, symbols, but in the art. They have a large variety, and it may seem like just a mass of holy figures, but its art that is mostly not destroyed, and in the orthodox it was not shaped to roman-catholic. But you may find a golden coin that used same, thats the number and the icon... either you see the money or the image...and even if, its just kept.
Belief was in the control of the written the control of the belief, so to define, and avoid any own practising, it was not for the heretics that was seen in that, but it was that it made people in that own way of faith, it was hard to fall into what was told in latin and have to believe and in that other laws that just made another lord one of world one of the sacral ... but they came to be the same, and in that came indeed to that argument... In was the renaissance that brought later back, and was overpainted also, as it was again bruned what was recovered. art is one form that make it, since its not seen, not understand, and even overpainted, not known what it would be to overpaint... so stil there
And its hard to understand, what has been destroyed, since it just not seen what is not and destroyed.

And the effort, war and destruction to achieve this, its just: People that keep it, just have no fear, and they just dont do, what you command them, if they keep to ther faith, and that in unity, its that comic asterix&obelix.. and thats a comic.. and so it has been just not one village that did that... and divide and rule that was romans empire tool

Last edited by thefrog; 02-13-2014 at 01:32 AM.
 
Old 07-07-2015, 07:31 AM   #25
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I am not sure that Orthodox Christians would use the language of 'heretical or blasphemous idol worship' of statues of saints. They prefer icons because icons are a specific form of religious art, not because statues are idolatry. In either case it is important to distinguish veneration of the prototype from worship, which belongs only to God.

Images of Mohammed have not always been forbidden. There are plenty of Islamic manuscripts which contain depictions of him; some do not show his face, some do.

It is a modern construct to say that this is entirely forbidden.
That's correct.

Went to a guitar recital at Ely Cathedral two weekends past; in the Lady Chapel. The walls are full of wee figures. During the Reformation the Chapel was attacked and wrecked. All the figures were mutilated about their heads and faces (you will have seen this at other churches); save for one lass tucked away in a corner. I wonder how she managed to escape!

Paul

Last edited by Niblo; 07-07-2015 at 07:37 AM.
 
Old 07-07-2015, 08:08 AM   #26
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Some statues escaped if the clergy were able to persuade the iconoclasts that they were kings or queens rather than saints. Or perhaps she was hidden behind coats or something.

The remains of only one saint survived in the whole of England. Every saint was torn from his or her shrine and the bones destroyed and discarded. The glorious exception to this is the Blessed Cuthbert in Durham. His coffin was opened in c 1540 or so, 850 years or so after he died (687AD), and his body was found to be intact and incorrupt. This caused a great deal of consternation; it was one thing to break up a lot of bones; another completely to destroy an incorrupt saint. So after much discussion it was decided to leave Cuthbert alone, and he was reburied with all respect and honour. And he remains to this day in his own Cathedral; still incorrupt.

http://www.durhamworldheritagesite.c...uthbert-shrine
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