Talk:Baha'i Faith

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 Definition A monotheistic religion founded in the mid-19th century in Persia, which emphasizes the unity of all humans as one race and prior religions as all being legitimate revelations from God. [d] [e]
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I've started working on the Baha'i page. Not sure how far to go with it, since Wikipedia has about 100 Baha'i-related pages, and most of them are an ungodly mess.

Just a heads-up to any "editors" out there who may be paying attention... --Bei Dawei

Article title

The term Bahá'í Faith seems to be more common than Baha'i religion. Unless there is some distinction to be drawn between the two terms, this seems to imply that we should move to Bahá'í Faith.—Nat Krause 14:53, 7 February 2007 (CST)

"Faith" is just a synonym for "religion" that has become common in recent times because of a certain squeamishness about the latter term. I'd stick with "relgion" myself.
With regard to the capitalisation, though: I don't know if we're dispensing with the Wikipedia naming conventions, but according to those it should be Baha'i religion, as "religion" is a common noun. --Peter J. King 10:46, 12 February 2007 (CST)
Well, since "faith" and "religion" mean the same thing, and since "Bahá'í Faith" is more common, I would suggest that we should use "faith".—Nat Krause 11:31, 12 February 2007 (CST)

It's more common in journalism and on Web sites; "religion" is still much more common elsewhere so far as I can tell (and surely we shouldn't let journalists determine how we use language?). --Peter J. King 11:56, 12 February 2007 (CST)

"Bahá'í Faith" seems to be the form used by the Bahá'í church itself, and in addition it used more commonly on the web and in journalism. Which are the "elsewhere" where "Baha'i religion" is more common, and why should that have more weight than the group's own usage plus journalism and the web?—Nat Krause 12:24, 12 February 2007 (CST)
  1. They seem to be using the term to make a sort of point (The Bahá’í Faith and Other Religions).
  2. All the books and articles I have (except for the Penguin Dictionary of Religions for some reason). Wikipedia tends to go for whatever usage is most common rather than which is more common in academic or respectable circle; I'd thought that Citizendium was going for more emphasis on expertise, bit I'm new and have probably misunderstood.
  3. In searching, I found that Bahá'ísm was very popular (and fits better with Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, etc.); would that be a compromise? --Peter J. King 12:44, 12 February 2007 (CST)
I don't know what Citizendium's naming policies will end up being, but it's reasonable to suppose that they will give greater weight to academic sources than Wikipedia does. That being the case, since you say respectable circles tend to use "Baha'i religion" (and I'll certainly take your word for that), then it would be fine to use that name here. However, it seems to me that we should also take into account the naming preferences of the subject itself. With regard to facts, the subject doesn't always make a reliable source, and so we favour experts instead; but for the name, I think we should take subject's views into account. Exactly how these should balance is a bit unclear.
I don't think it really matters that the name "Bahá'í Faith" tries to make a point; it seems to me that religions typically give themselves names which imply assertions that others might find dubious. Also, I don't using Bahá'ísm is adviseable, since it is neither the more common name in academic circles (if I understand you correctly) nor is it the name used by Bahá'í followers themselves.—Nat Krause 12:01, 13 February 2007 (CST)

My point was rather that "Bahá'í faith" appears almost nowhere;* "Bahá'í religion", "Bahá'ísm" (or simply "Bahaism"), and "Bahá'í" are all used pretty frequently. "Bahá'í religion" and "Bahá'í" are the most frequent (often both being used in the same articles or books). Again, as other religions don't include terms like "faith" or "religion", wouldn't it be more consistent not to use one here either?

  • I found another usage though [I can't think how I missed it before — it's on my shelf right next to me]: Peter Smith's A Short History of the Bahá'í Faith — but he also uses "Bahá'í" on its own, and his longer, more scholarly work is The Babi and Bahá'í Religions. He's also published The Bahá'í Religion. --Peter J. King 17:21, 13 February 2007 (CST)

Haifa promotes "Baha'i Faith" as the religion's official name. That's in English, of course, but they do the same thing in other languages (e.g. "Baha'a Kredo" in Esperanto). I think somebody decided that "Faith" sounds better than "-ism." Academic writers sometimes use "Faith" (especially if they are themselves Baha'is), and sometimes "religion." Denis MacEoin uses "Bahaism."

If we're going to follow their "house style" with "Faith," then what about those faux-academic accent marks? (So help me, there are Baha'is who go around Wikipedia adding accent marks to names in Baha'i articles.) How much say should the leadership of a religion (or rather, the biggest grouping within a religion) have over such things?

I prefer "Baha'i religion" because it sounds neutral and academic. "Baha'i Faith" has the ring of piety--by design, of course. "Bahaism" should be avoided because Baha'is often find the term offensive. Not for any good reason that they can articulate (they themselves use "Babism") but hey. Bei Dawei

Peter King has convinced me that Baha'i religion is a quite acceptable title. As for whether to include the accent marks, I suppose that has to do with Citizendium's general policies on diacritics in titles. If we're using diacritics in general, then I suppose we might as well use them in Bahá'í.—Nat Krause 00:24, 19 February 2007 (CST)
Whether diacritics are used in a title depends on the usual or conventional spelling. The form of a title really depends ultimately on how the thing described by the title is usually referred to by the various concerned parties--in this case, no doubt Bahai's themselves. If, therefore, they use "Baha'i Faith" (I have no idea what the facts are!), that is a good reason to use that as a title for the article, whether it "has the ring of piety" or not. It is not the role of a neutral source of information to strip titles of rings of faith; to do so might seem to favor one view of the subject just as much as to leave them in; so the decision has to reflect a more generally-applicable rule, such as the rule of common usage. In any event, "Baha'i Religion" must be replaced by "Baha'i religion" if we're going to go with that phrase. --Larry Sanger 17:03, 9 March 2007 (CST)
If there is a problem, it should be moved, but I don't seem able to do that. Why is that? Have moves been disabled? Rob Levin 00:32, 19 February 2007 (CST)
Yep, they have, for all except constables, on account of vandalism. Ask a constable ( and somebody will do it in a jiffy. --Larry Sanger 09:04, 19 February 2007 (CST)
May I point out that the "diacritics" are in fact largely meaningless from the point of view of transliteration. It's a "House style," nothing more (and in any case would only apply to the Haifa Baha'i leadership's preferences). For reference I suppose we could consider the ideosyncratic use of umlauts in "Motley Crue," "Spinal Tap" and "Bronte".)
Another problem is, where do we stop? The Baha'is prefer "Akka" (with a slash) to "Akko" or "Acre"; "Irak" (with a slash) to "Iraq"; "Siyyid" to "Said"; "Shaykh" to "Sheikh"; and many other weirdnesses. Many of their preferred forms reflect Persianized pronounciations of Arabic. Bei Dawei
Generally speaking (perhaps with occasional exceptions), we should use one spelling for a given thing throughout Citizendium. Thus, even if we do decide to use the spelling "Bahá'í", we will presumably still use spellings like "Iraq", "Edward Said", etc. No particuilar reason to take Bahá'í preferences into account there.—Nat Krause 23:51, 22 February 2007 (CST)
A few points about this discussion. (1) Bahaism is used in French, German, Russian, and various other languages, but even in those languages the Baha'is don't particularly like the term. They definitely don't like Bahaism in English. It goes against standard scholarly standards to use a term that the adherents find offensive; that's why islam is no longer referred to as Muhammadanism or Muslims as Muhammadans. Both Baha'i Faith and Baha'i religion are acceptable, though "Baha'i Faith" is the proper name of the religion that is used in several tens of thousands of Baha'i books and pamphlets. Indeed, "Baha'i Faith" appears in print far more than any other term. Surely the term clearly preferred by the majority of adherents should be respected? (2) Regarding transliteration, since scholarly standards generally require one to follow the transliteration in quotations and the majority of Baha'i quotations use a certain transliteration system standardized in 1922, based on an 1890s system used by Orientalists (which was the most up-to-date system in 1922), it is difficult to avoid the Baha'i system altogether. Since the Baha'i system is used in all languages using the Roman alphabet (from Icelandinc to Vietnamese) and the number of titles using it probably number close to fifty thousand, the system has immense momentum behind it. So it makes sense to use it at least in outline. The Baha'i system, however, does not have to be followed exactly. Baha'is do not use the accents in press releases. Underdots have been dropped in many situations because Microsoft Word cannot accommodate it easily. And with the spread of knowledge of the Middle East, Baha'i editors now use the standard English spellings of Muhammad and Islam, and use Webster's geographical dictionary for common Middle Eastern place names. As for Akka (Arabic)/Akko (Hebrew)/Acre (the old English name of the place), Baha'i editors have been shifting to Acre in the last few years. So the Baha'is system is more flexible than has been portrayed above. That said, its eighty-six year pedigree and enormous usage in tens of thousands of publications should not be swept aside;that would be disrespectful of the tradition being described, and basic respect for a religious tradition is a standard value in religious studies. Robert H. Stockman 19:20, 23 April 2007 (CST)

Section on The Bab and Baha'u'llah

I have replaced the section on the Bab almost entirely. It does not provide his given name (Mirza Ali Muhammad) his date of birth or death, his place of birth or death, the day he declared his mission, or where he went or was exiled; all very basic and essential information. It offers no summary of the station the Bab claimed and the gradual disclosure of his station. It implies the Babies were a Shaykhi sect, which no one thought was the case. It probably overestimates the size of the Bayani community, which is not studied at all and most information about it is guesswork. It implies that all Babis were exiled from Iran when in fact many were killed, Baha’u’llah was exiled, and the rest remained in Iran (the dispersal to “Transcaspia”—really Ishqabad—was a later Bahá'í movement, and no Babis are known to have fled to India). It also says Baha’u’llah was Subh-i-Azal’s younger brother when in fact he was the older brother and Subh-i-Azal was appointed titular head of the Babi Faith as a teenager after having done nothing to distinguish himself.

Robert Stockman 21:19, 22 August 2007 (CDT)

I ahve also replaced the Baha'u'llah section almost entirely. It also lacks very basic biographic information and focuses instead on several controversies which are not central to Baha'u'llah's life. Robert Stockman 15:41, 23 August 2007 (CDT)

Article title redux

Unless there is a specific reason to capitalize 'religion', the article Baha'i Religion and the redirect page Baha'i religion should be reversed. As Larry pointed out way back in March, the article title standard is to use lowercase for all except the first word and proper nouns. See also CZ:Naming_Conventions. —Eric Winesett 22:19, 18 November 2007 (CST)

Yes, I had ask myself the same question. Maybe there is a good reason, I don't know. The editor Robert Stockman (the main contributor to this article and editor from the Religion Workgroup) could probably present us with the explanation. The religion is also known as the Baha'i Faith, so what would be the best way to called it?--José Leonardo Andrade 08:39, 20 November 2007 (CST)

I'm sorry, this last issue was already answered, I hadn't read the entire talk page. --José Leonardo Andrade 09:04, 20 November 2007 (CST)


As always I propose that this article be moved to Bahá'í Faith as that is the name that Bahá'ís themselves use. While different orthographies (e.g. "Baha'i Faith") are common and acceptable, there are no technical limitations from us using their orthography for their name. Other names such as Bahá'ísm are archaic. Please move this to the standard orthography. Justin Anthony Knapp 17:22, 13 June 2008 (CDT)

Reference would be appreciated

I'd love to see a reference for this part of the nomenclature section: "but are avoided by mainstream Bahá'ís for complex historical reasons". Not contesting it, just wondering what the complex historical resons are. --Tom Morris 13:38, 3 September 2008 (CDT)

Good idea; I can add a footnote. I am not sure "complex historical reasons" covers it very well. Basically, Baha'is see "Bahaism" as a term used by outsiders and dislike being considered as an "ism." I am not sure what all the reasons are. I'm not sure there's an official reason. Part of it, also, is that they don't like to see their Faith as a 'religion" but as a civilization-changing revelation and movement. But that's true of all major religions. Robert Stockman 12:14, 4 September 2008 (CDT)

When Westerners invented names for religions about 2 centuries ago, they called all of them except Christianity isms. Muslims have managed to persuade people to change their name, & Shinto seems to have been accepted in place of Shintoism. Some strident Wikipedians insist Buddhism should be called Buddhadharma or Buddhasasana. It's unfortunate that names get tangled up in disputes about colonialism & anticolonialism. Peter Jackson 18:30, 13 November 2008 (UTC)

Number too high?

Note 2: "This number is probably too high." Why? Three encyclopedias use the number. Why does CZ say it is too high? --Larry Sanger 19:47, 13 November 2008 (UTC)

WCE is a very thorough source & probably about as reliable as you can get from a single source, with some qualifications that don't apply here. [1] collects estimates from a variety of sources, which is very useful for getting a picture of the range of opinion.
The original edition of the Penguin Handbook of Living Religions said that Bahai claims to millions of followers were probably exaggerated & 650,000 (I think) was more likely. The revision, New Penguin Handbook of Living Religions, massively increases this to (I think) 4,000,000. Peter Jackson 15:49, 14 November 2008 (UTC)
You can find the adherents collection of figures at [2] & the next page. The WCE figure seems to be near the upper end of the range, but, as I said above, it's very thorough. Peter Jackson 15:59, 14 November 2008 (UTC)

The WCE numbers are generally higher than even Baha'i official numbers. I have spoken to the new editor of WCE, Todd Johnson, about the issue. WCE includes as "adherents" people who might have a "Baha'i identity" but who would not be on a Baha'i membership list. That's fine, but they have no easy way to estimate that number. They have 750,000 Baha'is in the USA; the official Baha'i number is now 163,000 (1/2000 of the US population); and two telephone surveys of 150,000 randomly chosen Americans conducted by researchers at I think CUNY came up with estimates of 20,000 and 80,000 Baha'is. These two numbers show the difficulty of estimating membership from a very small number of respondents (probably in the 10-40 range, out of 150,000). Over a hamburger and fries a few years ago, Johnson and I made a rough estimate that by the WCE methodology, the US would have about 250,000 Baha'is. By the way, Penguin's shift would reflect a change of editors. The statement that the numbers are probably are exaggerated probably reflects the opinion of the author of the Baha'i article, Denis MacEoin, an ex-Baha'i who has often been critical of the Baha'i community. I suspect the later edition involves a different person, who has turned to the Baha'i sources. Robert Stockman

Long article; prioritise?

This is one of the longest articles on CZ, and appears to be original, so I think could be prioritised in future editing with a view towards possible approval. John Stephenson (talk) 16:16, 18 August 2015 (UTC)

A lot is the work of the above Editor, who still pops in occasionally. I suggest you contact him. Peter Jackson (talk) 17:09, 20 August 2015 (UTC)