What is the bahai view of Holy icons?

Sep 2010
1,318
New Zealand
#1
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?
 
Dec 2009
165
United States
#2
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.
 
Jul 2010
430
Delmarva
#3
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.
 
Dec 2009
165
United States
#5
@Bruce Thanks. My bad. There's also a painting of Bahá'u'lláh and a painting of the Báb.
 
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Jun 2006
4,316
California
#6
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 )
 
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Sep 2010
1,318
New Zealand
#7
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.
 
Jul 2010
53
Indiana
#8
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.
 
Sep 2010
1,318
New Zealand
#9
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.
 
Mar 2010
1,349
Rockville, MD, USA
#10
[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
 

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