What is the bahai view of Holy icons?

#11
@ 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....) :)
 
#12
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
 
Sep 2010
1,318
New Zealand
#13
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.
 
Jun 2006
4,313
California
#14
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:
Sep 2010
1,318
New Zealand
#15
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.
 
Jul 2013
1
Almaty
#16
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."
 
Mar 2013
101
Central Ohio
#17
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.
 
Oct 2013
1
Pakistan
#18
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.
______________
http://www.leather4sure.net/
 
Last edited:
Apr 2011
484
Sydney
#19
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.
 
Oct 2013
903
Rise with Joy
#20
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:

Similar threads