Bahá'í Faith in fiction

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The Bahá'í Faith and related topics have appeared in fiction in multiple forms. The mention of the Bahá'í Faith, prominent members, or even individual believers have appeared in a variety of fictional forms including science fiction, and fantasy, as well as styles of short stories, novelettes, and novels, and even diverse media of the printed word and TV series. A 2005 estimate is of more than 30 references though it could be far more.[1] Out of these near three dozen references, there are perhaps a dozen where there is a significant relationship with the religion, where the Bahá'í Faith is a crucial aspect of the story. The first occurrence known is perhaps Marie von Najmajer wrote a poem dedicated to Tahirih in Gurret-úl-Eyn: Ein Bild aus Persiens Neuzeit published in 1874.[2] After a series of works covering the events of the Bábí period most of the focus shifted towards Bahá'í specific related connections. Soon Khalil Gibran wrote two books - The Prophet and Jesus, The Son of Man - with some second hand evidence for the sustained influence of `Abdu'l-Bahá in these works.[3] In modern times the first known occurrence is of a short story by non-Bahá'í Tom Ligon The Devil and the Deep Black Void,[4] - he also wrote a sequel The Gardener.[5] The next fictional publication, in 1991, which references the Bahá'í Faith may be a short story "Home Is Where…"[1] by Bahá'í Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff,[6]

Initially, and occasionally since, reference has been made to the events and figures of Bábísm. As the history of events and coverage of these events in Persia made their way to Europe coverage tended to shift to coverage of the events and figures of the Bahá'í Faith.

Bábí focus[edit]

Early writers[edit]

Austrian Marie von Najmajer wrote a poem dedicated to Tahireh in Gurret-úl-Eyn: Ein Bild aus Persiens Neuzeit published in 1874.[2][7]

José Maria de Eça de Queiroz, a well known Portuguese novelist in the 19th century, wrote a novel Correspondência de Fradique Mendes in 1889 and spends several pages discussing the religion of the Báb and its impact.[2] The material could not all have been derived from the most widespread review of the religion in that day - the work of Arthur de Gobineau. It is speculated Queiroz encountered Bahá'ís in Egypt sometimes from late 1869 to January 1870. Story is set in 1871.

A more extensive reference to the events of the Bábí Faith comes from an obscure writer, A. de Saint-Quentin, in the book Un Amour au Pays des Mages in 1891 in the background of many events of the Bábí period.[2]

Polish/Russian playwright Isabella Grinevskaya wrote the play Báb based on the life and events of the founder of the Bábí religion[8] which was performed in St. Petersburg in 1904 and again in 1916/7,[9] and lauded by Leo Tolstoy and other reviewers at the time.[10]

As early as 1908[11] Constance Faunt Le Roy Runcie attempted to publish a romance novel about the Bab and "Persia's celebrated poetess Zerryn Taj"[12] while living in Missouri, USA.

The Indianapolis Star, Indianapolis, Indiana, 28 September 1913, printed a story "Number Thirteen by the Master of Mysteries" on pages 64 and 67 of which discusses a note that seemed to indicate the involvement of a Baha'i woman in a situation.[13]

In 1914 Stephen Leacock published a negative satire "The Yahi-Bahi Society of Mrs. Resselyer-Brown" in his Arcadian Adventures with the Idle Rich.[14]

Sherlock Holmes "The Bab Deception" by William C Paxton[edit]

Published as one of four stories (78 pages out of a total 239), "The Bab Deception" in The Hidden Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by non-Bahá'í William "Bill" Paxton (not the actor Bill Paxton) was published in 2000-1.[15][16] A published synopsis:[17] Set in August, 1896, Sherlock Holmes expounds at great length on his occult beliefs and invites Watson to a (spiritualism based) séance. Lestrade & Macintosh take Holmes & Watson to the home of Sir Randolph Gretzinger, former Ambassador to Persia, who has been murdered along with his servant. Holmes finds a copy of the Bayán) in Gretzinger's hand, and he expounds at length on Babism. Side note: Holmes is presented as having a high regard for the religion and being current on its situation enough to know that "Abo ol-Baha" is a political prisoner at that time and knowing full well that the religion would never associate with such a plot having already suffered many martyrs and known to not organize any rebellion and instead maintained a peaceful, unified vision with all mankind. He deduces that the men have been injected with poison (from small wounds in their thumbs), and expounds at length on snake venom. The following day they are summoned to the Diogenes Club, where Mycroft expounds at great length on the politics of petroleum and how this may be the true reason for the murder. After visiting the dead man's widow and urging her to continue his oil negotiations with the Shah of Persia Holmes is visited by representatives of the Bahá'í Faith who fear that the book was planted on the body to implicate them. They expound at length on the assassination of the last Shah and feel an effort is being made to frame them, but Holmes assures them he is well aware of the reputation of the Bahá'ís and believes in their innocence. Holmes & Watson are invited to a séance and Holmes expounds at length on the other guests. At the séance a spirit claiming to be Moriarty hurls a dagger at Holmes. Holmes organizes London Baha'is into a "Baker Street Baha'i", including ones in the Russian Embassy, to locate Gretzinger's missing appointment book from which Holmes is able to learn the murderers name and establish the innocence of the Bahá'ís.

Note that on 1 May 1896 Nasser-al-Din Shah was indeed assassinated and some did blame a Babí but most information points to an anarchist who had been given privileged access to the person of the Shah because of the Shah’s sympathies for his suffering.[18] Most Baha’is have some information of an acknowledged assassination plot by some Babis in 1852 for which Bahá’u’lláh was encarcerated in the Siyah-Chal and eventually found innocent albeit much property had been confiscated or lost to mobs as a result of simply being accused. This is a different incident.

Bahiyyih Nakhjavani's books[edit]

The Saddlebag: A Fable for Doubters and Seekers - a published review of the 2000 publication[19] notes:

[A] day in the life of nine 19th-century characters traveling between Mecca and Medina in this engaging first novel. Though they come from a wide variety of religious, national and socioeconomic backgrounds, all find themselves in the same caravan when it is beset by a sandstorm and a brutal bandit attack. Each chapter recounts these events from the perspective of its title character, a device Nakhjavani uses skillfully; not only does she avoid the tedium that could result from multiple retellings, but she also turns the bit player in one narrator's story into the complicated hero of another… Nakhjavani shows how God uses their respective religious orientations and the secrets bundled in a saddlebag to reveal life-changing truths to each of them. The novel's Baha'i message is beautifully rendered in these tales of multiple paths leading to one destination.

Nakhjavani has published six books - some academic and at least two fictional, as well as articles and poetry.

Another is La femme qui lisait trop (The Woman Who Reads Too Much) in 2007.[20] It tells the story of Táhirih. The writer adopts the revolving points of view, of mother, sister, daughter and wife respectively, to trace the impact of this woman's actions on her contemporaries and read her prophetic insights regarding her times, and perhaps ours too.

Others[edit]

Nazanin Afshin-Jam is set to play a role as Tahirih[21] in a film by Jack Lenz named Mona's Dream about the life story of Mona Mahmudnizhad.[22][23]

Sarah Bernhardt the best known French actress of her day asked two of her contemporary authors Catulle Mendès and Henri Antoine Jules-Bois to write a play about Tahirih and the Babis for her to portray on stage.[24]

Bahá'í focus[edit]

In 1911 Brit E. S. Drower wrote The Mountain of God around the lives of the Bahá'ís in the Haifa-Akka area and is a thinly veiled set of characters showing the influence of `Abdu'l-Bahá in the community.[2][25]

In 1912 American Gertrude Atherton wrote a novel Julia France and Her Times wherein Julia goes to Akka to meet `Abdu'l-Bahá, returns to England and convinces her friend to write a book about the Bahá'ís.[2][26]

Khalil Gibran's books[edit]

A published account notes about Khalil Gibran:[3]

It was on April 6, 1943, in her studio-room, upstairs at the front of the house, that Juliet shared with me and a few other guests, these memories of Khalil Gibran

"He lived across the street from here," said Juliet Thompson, "at 51 West 10th. He was neither poor nor rich - in between. Worked on an Arab newspaper; free to paint and write. His health was all right in the early years. He was terribly sad in the later years, because of cancer. He died at forty-nine. He knew his life was ending too soon.

"His drawings were more beautiful than his paintings. These were very misty, lost things - mysterious and lost. Very poetic.

"A Syrian brought him to see me - can't even remember his name. Khalil always said I was his first friend in New York. We became very, very great friends, and all of his books - The Madman, The Forerunner, The Son of Man, The Prophet - I heard in manuscript. He always gave me his books. I liked The Prophet best. I don't believe that there was any connection between `Abdu'l-Bahá and The Prophet. But he told me that he thought of the `Abdu'l-Bahá all through. He said that he was going to write another book with '`Abdu'l-Bahá as the center and all the contemporaries of '`Abdu'l-Bahá speaking. He died before he wrote it. He told me definitely that [the book] The Son of Man was influenced by '`Abdu'l-Bahá."

It is known that `Abdu'l-Bahá also sat for portraits at the request of Gibran.[27][28] From the above it may be concluded that `Abdu'l-Bahá and Gibran knew each other more than in passing, but that `Abdu'l-Bahá made no formal or informal claims or suggestions about Gibran's writing but cooperated whenever asked (as for sitting for the drawings.) So the influence is really at the choice of Gibran - he could as well have chosen and mention any other source of inspiration for his book. It seems he chose `Abdu'l-Bahá. As `Abdu'l-Bahá is one of the Central figures of the Bahá'í Faith and these are works of fiction, it is certainly the case that at least two of Gibran's, and his most famous, are properly mentioned here.

There are many reviews of this famous book, The Prophet. Here's one:[29]

Khalil Gibran's The Prophet is a book that has touched many people very deeply since its publishing in 1923. It has been translated into more than twenty languages, and the American edition alone has sold more than four million copies. It is considered both by Gibran himself, and by the general public to be his literary masterpiece. The Prophet is about a man who is leaving a small town called Orphalese where he has made his home for the past twelve years. He has, for that time period, been waiting for a boat to take him back to the land of his youth. We are not told where that land is, only that he has been waiting to return there for twelve years. The entire book occurs on the date of his departure. As he is about to leave, the townsfolk stop him in the town and request that he tell them about certain things. He talks to them about life's lessons and imparts his wisdom to them. He is asked about giving, and he tells the people to give without recognition, because their reward is their own joy. He also talks about things like marriage, work, friendship and also love. He speaks about each, and more, describing the way that people should deal with each issue. This book is an interesting book. It is ninety-three pages of life's lessons set down in writing. These are words to live by, and tell others to live by. This book is certainly a book that everyone should read. Even if people don't agree with some of the beliefs, they should still read the book, if only to get their mind thinking about life, and its many quandaries from a different perspective. This book is not unlike the musings of an aging man imparting his life's lessons to an audience of just about anyone whom he can gather to listen to him. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Its lessons and stories are wise beyond the ages, and still hold up to be as true today as they were when Gibran wrote them in 1923. The lessons enumerated within this pages are lessons that one would hope were followed by the general population, and I know that if more people read this book, then the world as a whole might become a more easily survivable place.

Here's one of many reviews of Jesus, The Son of Man:[30]

I find it amazing that he wrote this in the time period he did. It's very prophetic, it seems to be in line with a more modern understanding of Jesus that readers of The Course in Miracles and Marianne Williamson are a large part of vocalizing. But even fundamentalists would enjoy this book… being how it is written from the opinion of 80 different points of view, many of which do proclaim him the Son of God. Ultimately, any view can be thoughtfully stimulating because the people of any opinion have personalities and background given that support why they view Jesus with their perspective. The overall impression I received from this beautiful prose is the beauty and message of Jesus, the devotion, admiration, gratitude and love inspired by him, and the grace which he exuded with confident compassion. And whether he was God, man, a combination of both that we all are potentially, or a combination we can only idolize with an envious self-debasing distorted form of humility, this book shows him to be nothing less than relevant to our comprehension.

Curiously, this is not the only case where someone associated with the Bahá'í Faith wrote a speculative work about things the New Testament is silent on in regards to Jesus. Contemporaries of Gibran Juliet Thompson and Wellesley Tudor Pole wrote books about Jesus. Thompson wrote I, Mary Magdalen and Tudor Pole wrote The Silent Road, A Man Seen Afar, and Writing on the Ground as well as some pamphlets though these were written later in the 20th century. Both Thompson and Tudor Pole knew `Abdu'l-Bahá well having interviewed him and worked with him. Thomson wrote a diary, one of the central records of `Abdu'l-Bahá's journeys to the West as well as a portrait and Tudor Pole played a significant role in saving his life in World War I. Indeed the whole relationship between `Abdu'l-Bahá and Jesus was one `Abdu'l-Bahá was at pains to clarify both to the general public[31] and among early Bahá'ís.[32]

Tom Ligon's trilogy[edit]

Among Tom Ligon's many short and medium sized works (and one award winning science fact article published[33] in relation to Fusion rocket technology and advocate of Inertial Electrodynamic Fusion), two published in 1986 and 1993, The Devil and the Deep Black Void,[4] and The Gardener[5] in Analog Magazine, are science fiction stories which are about a Shi'a Muslim terrorist organization in a largely Muslim space-faring civilization where Bahá'ís are space colonists who undertake terraforming on a planet they named Mazra'ih (though there is brief mention of a United States National Spiritual Assembly back on Earth.)[1][34] The prequel, For a Little Price[35] about how terrorists are prevented from crashing a spaceship into the Earth (long predating the events of the September 11, 2001 attacks) was anthologized in 2008 though work began on it in 1986. In the succeeding stories some of the terrorists are instead driven to an unusual world orbiting a neutron star where Bahá'ís live which eventually reveals that civilizations have reached great levels of technology and then mysteriously disappeared. The initial thought is that the civilizations are eradicated by a periodic sterilization the planet undergoes but there is also evidence the civilizations vanished peacefully before the sterilization speculating that civilizations shortly after achieving deep space exploration reach some new level of civilization that doesn't require or sustain material civilization in deep space. The ethical conflict of pacifism, a debatable stance associated with the Bahá'í Faith, in the face of terrorists is worked out.[34] One character, who takes on the name of the historical Bábí who performed an assassination attempt on the life of the Shah of Iran, chooses the path of violence in defense of the population by way (as portrayed) of matching a strength of the Bahá'í Faith in acceptance of science compared to a weakness of Shia Islam of superstition.

The author comments:[34]

"The Devil and the Deep Black Void" had an interesting genesis. I remember being outraged by reports coming from the far east. Vietnamese "boat people" were being preyed on by pirates. I set up a situation where a political upset in a distant colony would make it likely that refugees would be preyed on by pirates. However, the story developed a mind of its own. I realized that, due to the vastness of space, the pirates would be easy to evade. The real threat was the vastness itself. Running away was certain death, and the only hope was returning to face the original problem. That quickly became the focus of the story…

I needed good victims. Recent news had offered an excellent group, the Baha'is, who had been horribly persecuted in Iran. The more I researched them, the more convinced I became that they would make excellent space colonists. My primary reference was an aged primer on the Baha'i Faith by J. E. Esselmont. I did receive some comments from several Baha'is suggesting that I'd portrayed them as too pacifistic, however, I'll stick by my guns on this. My characters, while they believe in public defense, even armies, to preserve peace, are stubborn in living by a passage I found in Esselmont's book in which Baha'u'llah forbids the Baha'is from taking up arms in the defense of the faith. The story is carefully crafted to back them into this corner. Our hero is faced with a loss of his faith, which enables him to take action to save his people, but leaves him in a spiritual dilemma.

I left him in that state for about 7 years, when I had the inspiration for the sequel, "The Gardener". Hoping to give Hab, our hero, some hint of faith back, not to mention some much-needed feminine companionship, I devised a story to show what he'd been up to in seven years of self-imposed exile on a remote continent of a planet just begging for life."

Among the special qualities to Mr. Ligon's contribution to the Bahá'í Faith in fiction is that he is a non-Bahá'í, the stories mentioned explicitly reference the religion, and indeed the religion provides some of the central context for the story line, and possibly the first publication to seriously reference the Bahá'í Faith in fictional literature context. See Persecution of Bahá'ís, Bahá'í Faith in Turkmenistan and Bahá'í Faith in Azerbaijan for cases of Bahá'í responses to violence.

Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff's works[edit]

Bohnhoff has won several awards for her works of fiction and music (especially filk music which is music tied to science fiction or related styles or issues).[36]

Bohnhoff's first work to use the Bahá’í Faith as a central aspect of a story may be her 1991 published "Home Is Where…" novelette summarized as "A Baha'i family from the year 2112 is on a time travel research assignment in midwest USA, in 1950."[1] There has not been a published review of her work noting the presence of the Bahá'í Faith in her works generally. Her first publication was in 1989 and her publications continue through 2006.[37] Bohnhoff, mother of two and married since 1981 (both true at least as of 2001),[38] has also written many short stories and novelettes, some of them with a significant basis in relation to the Bahá'í Faith, in most of the well known publishing magazines: Analog Magazine, Interzone (magazine), Amazing Stories, Realms of Fantasy, and others. Another example "The White Dog" wherein a lady whose shocking albino appearance is eventually warmly loved in accordance with the special relationship pointed out by `Abdu'l-Bahá for a little white dog.[39] Her longest work with a strong presence of the Bahá’í Faith is The Meri fantasy series which is a trilogy (The Meri published in 1992, Taminy in 1993, and The Crystal Rose in 1995).[40] The series revolves around the period of transition among the people who live on a peninsula. The chapters are headed with quotes from scripture presented as those of the religion of the people but many are in fact quotes from Bahá'í scripture, while a few are from the Bible. The first and second book also carry an acknowledgement of Bahá'u'lláh, a Local Spiritual Assembly and Bahá'í community. The plot involves a progression on the understanding of a people in relation to the role and position of women. Unknown to the people of the story, women have always been instrumental to their religion as agents of God and a chosen few have always acted as the personification of the Spirit of God, or "Meri". The first book focuses on a young girl destined to take on that role. While similar to other stories of the triumph of women it has several unique qualities most particularly a central male character being her benefactor and teacher and not an obstacle she has to overcome. The second book focuses on the return of the prior "Meri" who takes it as her mission to promulgate the new paradigm as the head of the religion. The third book focuses on her transition to being a head of state but wrestling with several of the same issues from among as well as beyond her people. Another novel she has written called The Spirit Gate has many of the same features but is written in a different context - a fantasy work set in a historical time and place of roughly 1000AD in the area today of Poland and Ukraine where two forms of Christianity and Islam met the pagan older religion. Bahá’í themes, especially in the respect granted other religions, are largely identified with the older religion, however the names of some of the central figures of the religion appear near the end without strongly hinting at any spiritual prominence (names of an ambassador and Caliph, not simply religious figures.)

Among Bohnhoff's unique contributions to the Bahá'í Faith in fiction is that she is a Bahá'í who has had more than three dozen works[37] published in many major and some minor publishing venues and she has written at least 6 full length novels of her own - four with strong Bahá'í references though mentioning something in relation to the religion in the others. In combination she has probably subtlety or directly presented themes of the Bahá'í Faith to the widest audience in literature.

Isabel Allende El Plan Infinito (The Infinite Plan)[edit]

Best selling Chilean author Isabel Allende published this novel in 1991. The main character, Greg Reeves, engages in a search for meaning and identity. His mother is a Baha'i. She is portrayed in a somewhat negative light.

Joseph Sheppherd's The Island of the Same Name[edit]

Bahá'í Joseph Sheppherd[41] uses his wide experience living in many countries[42][43] and professional knowledge as an anthropologist and archaeologist[41] to write an embracing story about the adventures and discoveries of spiritual leaders bound to an island off Africa. The center pivotal periods of the story revolve around two generations of researchers: an archaeologist and his anthropologist daughter. Each in turn visits the same African island, but make vastly different discoveries as the story travels in four different time periods: humanity's distant past, near past, near future, and far future. Published in 1997 the near past and future are near enough to have their relative positions significantly altered - the 1970s for the first and the 2000s for the second, roughly now. This book is over 500 pages long and covers a wide range of topics in careful detail from the practicalities of stone axe making, through archeological digs in tyrannical third world countries, spiritual values expressed among aboriginal peoples of the world and the practical lives of individual people occasioned by mystical experiences and those around them, and so on. It follows the form of addressing life in different times and thus a kind of science fiction, but like other entries in this article emphasizes the inward issues and spiritual discoveries more than the quasi-magical or technological leaps made as part of the plot. Mr. Shepperd prefers the term "social fiction" rather than science fiction.[41] The Bahá'ís, or any paraphrases of principles of the religion, are at best obliquely referred to until late in the second section, of the near past, when an Iranian Doctor mentions the Bahá’í Faith and his reasons for living in a place far from his home and how the principles of the religion stand in the context of the international challenges and needs of humanity. A key character in the book shows interest and later joins the religion but aside from a few specifics there is no clear statement of the future position of the religion nor how the future world culture was established (brief references to a dual process that has merged before the distant future, but doesn't state explicitly what place the Bahá’í Faith has in this pattern.) However in the header of each section there is a text presented with a dating scheme that is exactly that of the Bahá'í calendar so for example 2007 of the common calendar is year 163 of the Bahá’í Era, or BE. While the textual reference is exact it only becomes clear when the two dating schemes are cross referenced and the explicit mention of the religion had already been made. Late in the story the Universal House of Justice is mentioned as having 19 members and a metropolis called Haifaakka is mentioned. However the Bahá'í Faith is not framed as the singular or dominant theme of the story - it is but an explicit component of the plot occasionally and a subtext for specifics recognizable but not identified as specifically related to the religion. In other words the majority of the content of the book describes how the world at large arrives at a Bahá’í oriented future, but not how the Bahá’í Faith itself arrives to be in that position.

Mr. Sheppherd has published about 10 works before the year 2000[41] (and lost an additional 15 unpublished works in a house fire in 2002)[44] ranging from professional publications to Bahá'í centered works whether of formal introduction or children's literature, poetry or this science/speculative fiction analysis of the multi-century changes based on humanity's response to religion centered in the non-west, specifically an African island.

Arvid Nelson's Rex Mundi[edit]

Rex Mundi is an American comic book published by Dark Horse Comics written by Bahá'í[45] Arvid Nelson. It was first published in 2002 and has run through 2008.

The series is a quest for the Holy Grail told as a murder mystery. It is set in the year 1933, in an alternate history Europe, where magic is real, feudalism persisted, and the Protestant Reformation was crushed by a still politically powerful Roman Catholic Church. All of this is woven together as "… a meditation on the prophecies surrounding the advent of the Bahá'í era.”[46] Nelson compares a central character Genevieve with the role of the Bahá'í Faith - of trying to bring about unity[47] but the story is not used as a means to proselytize the religion.[48]

TK Ralya's The Golden Age: Thy Kingdom Come[edit]

Official synopsis:[1][49] "After one of his friends is killed in Iraq, Geoffrey Waters prays for help in understanding God's purpose for humanity. He is whisked forward in time to witness what a world could be like when the prophesies from Isaiah bring about peace on earth, and the lines 'Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven' come to fruition. The people on the planet he visits explain that God's kingdom will be established on Earth no matter what, even if a horrible calamity must occur." The Bahá'í author notes that this book is her impression of what the future may be like based on the premise of fulfilled Biblical prophecy, with specifics from Bahá'í sources. There are several quotes and paraphrases from the Bahá'í Writings as well as examples of attitudes among various characters that believe as guided by these references, and the book was approved by the Special Materials Review Committee.[1] Directly it only refers to the Bahá'í Faith as one of many religions mentioned in the foreword (which also mentions that it is meant to be the first of a trilogy.) Internally the strongest reference perhaps is the name of the Book of the religion of the future - "Qadas", which is similar to "Aqdas" - the central Book of Laws, of the Bahá'í Faith. However "Qadas" could also be rather more obscure references ("the holiness of God",[50] or a Muslim style of prayer[51] for example.) The overall feel of the story is much like Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time - of grand themes being played out not through technological achievements, but of spiritual beings and achievements. Ralya has also published[49] children’s stories, two full-length musicals, a weekly newspaper column in a Minnesota paper for about 2 years, and a novel for 9-15 year-olds which also has significant reference to the Bahá'í Faith.

Doing the Impossible official synopsis[49] mentions :"three fifteen-year-old girls are starting their sophomore year of high school. The 'impossible' thing they are trying to do is living according to God's standards in modern society. Megan gets the lead in the high school play, but her character is a rather 'loose' woman. Her leading man is more interested in 'fun' than appropriateness… Ashley has a learning disability and wrestles with feeling dumb and unattractive. Brittney is very smart, but overweight. She deals with her body image as well as where a smart female fits in society without being considered aggressive. Baha’i school on Sunday mornings adds the different perspectives of other students."

The unique contribution Ralya has made to the Bahá'í Faith in fiction is that her works center on the moral dilemmas of modern society in the west and spiritual insights and development that reflect an understanding of the teachings of the Bahá'í Faith in response to these challenges. On the one hand she has envisioned an attainable utopia (that is, not completely perfect) with specifics based on suggestions made in writings of the Bahá'í Faith. A particularly strong analysis is made of marital fidelity vs the divine law against adultery vs intense love and friendship between a man and a woman not married, though many topics are addressed including the moral and practical need for war, sustainable economics if children and mothers are of central importance to society, attitudes of the oneness of humanity vs racism, the importance of the arts and so on. On the other hand she has examined many of the same issues in young ladies lives in high school.

Karen Anne Webb's "Adventurers of the Carotian Union" series[edit]

Late in 2006, "The Chalice of Life" was released by Dragon Moon Press, a small Canadian press specializing in science fiction and fantasy. Webb's book, while intended as a fantasy adventure, includes many themes from the Baha'i Writings, including quotes from a variety of faith traditions[52] and a fantasy version of a society based on the fully realized society of the future envisioned by Baha'u'llah. Central to the plot (although the idea is referred to rather than explained with great explicitness in the first book) is the idea of the School of Transcendent Oneness and the idea that a special class of being is sent into Creation from time to time to help civilization along. She relates this to the "once and future king" concept with the introduction of the quest that forms the overall theme for the series: the search for Eliander, a Carotian prince magicked away long ago to a place outside normal space-time. In the second book, "Tapestry of Enchantment," Dragon Moon Press, 2010 this theme of the once and future king comes to the fore when the one character from a world outside the Carotian Union (the system Eliander's return is meant to save) discloses that he believes he is, in fact, living in the time of his own world's Promised One; his search for this Promised One becomes a strong theme in the series and become the pivot point of the sequel. "Lamp of Truth," the third book, is due for publication in early 2011. Dragon Moon has contracted the entire series, the longest work it has ever put under contract, and hopes to release the remainder of the books at the rate of about one every six months (slating Eliander for release sometime in late 2013). Remaining books in the series and their settings include "The Life of the Smith" (ancient Greece); "The Floodwaters of Redemption" (Mu right before it founders); "The Treasure of Mobius" (a world projected by a powerful projective telempath; yes, it has one-sided buildings); "Dwellers in the Underdark" (the Underdark, home of the terrifying Azhur race); and "The King That Will Be" (variously the planes of incarcertation of the quest's nemesis and Eliander as well as home on Caros).

Jackie Mehrabi's books[edit]

Jackie Mehrabi has written several fiction books for children and young teens, often about the lives of fictional Bahá'ís with a moral message behind each tale. and received the 2011 Joe Foster Award for Services to Education as a writer.[53]

Other books[edit]

One of the stories from Stephen Leacock's bestselling 1914 book Arcadian Adventures with the Idle Rich features a character that caricatures the religious leader `Abdu'l-Bahá.[54]

Philip K. Dick's science-fiction novel Eye in the Sky features a parallel world theocracy dominated by a church of the "Second Bab". However, no attempt is made to explore the Baha'i Faith; it reads as a satire of Christian Fundamentalism.[55]

Joe Haldeman's science-fiction novel The Accidental Time Machine mentions "B'hai all over the place"[56] in the Western United States two thousand years in the future.

James A. Michener's 1965 novel, The Source mentions the golden dome of the Shrine of the Bab as, "...golden dome of the Baha'i temple..." on its first page.

The futuristic hero of Robert Sheckley's 1960s SF novel Mindswap has visited and prayed at the Bahá'í 'hanging gardens' in Haifa, among other pilgrimages described as typical of his fictional future world.

Other popular media[edit]

In addition to being mentioned directly in a number of works, the Bahá'í Faith and/or its teachings have also been mentioned in the TV and movie industry. For example the TV series The Simpsons has twice referenced the Bahá'ís - once when Lisa Simpson is considering what religion to join in the episode "She of Little Faith" she sees "Bed, Bath and Bahá'í" on a sign[57] (she ends up converting to Buddhism) and also when Bart Simpson is playing Billy Graham's Bible Blaster, a Christian video game (where the player has to convert to Christianity) "a gentle Baha'i" is one of the images on the screen at Ned Flanders' house in the episode "Alone Again, Natura-Diddily".[58]

The movie The Matrix uses parallel terminology to the Bahá’í Faith but there is little evidence that the movie or its makers were influenced by the religion specifically (more likely Buddhism and Gnostic Christianity[59]). However a movie critic did use the Bahá’í Faith as the lead off in his review.[60]

There was also a TV medical-drama in Australia called MDA - Medical Defense Australia (MDA (TV series)) which went on the air on July 23, 2002 with an ongoing Bahá'í character, Layla Young, who is played by a non-Bahá'í[61] actress Petra Yared.[62][63]

The role-playing game Trinity by White Wolf Game Studio, in a futuristic setting, includes a faction called the Interplanetary School for Research and Advancement. Many of its members are humans with psionic powers related to clairsentience. The leader, and as a result many of his followers, is a member of the Bahá'í Faith.[64] Baha'i in Trinity; How Baha'i is Presented in Luna Rising and How to Use It [65] A second role-playing game, this one based in computer technology, is called The Seven Valleys named after the The Seven Valleys and uses it explicitly as inspirations for its adventures.[66]

The April 14, 2012 episode of a Prairie Home Companion's News from Lake Wobegone has the character Pastor Liz stopped by a highway patrolman who had grown up Lutheran from a family of Lutherans when he met and married a Bahá'í (Sasha) and converted. The section occurs about about 101:25 through 104:55.[67]

Further reading[edit]

For research and review, the reader may be interested in a few notable instances of research and materials to the presence of the Bahá'í Faith in Fiction:

  1. "Baha'is in Science Fiction and Fantasy", from Adherents.com:

"This annotated bibliography list, a subset derived from the Adherents.com Religion in Literature database, is intended as a resource for literary research. It lists both mainstream and Baha'i-oriented science fiction/fantasy novels or short stories which contain references to Baha'is. It is not necessarily a comprehensive list of such literature, but all Hugo- and Nebula-winning novels have been surveyed, as have many other major works."[1]

  1. Bahá'í Library Online - Fiction section, from bahai-library.com.

"Submissions and book excerpts welcomed. Fiction of larger scale and/or historical import is preferred, though new works by Baha'i authors can also be showcased here."[68]

  1. "The Baha'i and Science Fiction" by Lavie Tidhar, an analysis published in the British online magazine I R O S F, Vol I, No. 1 (January, 2004).[69] Note a response was written by Steven Kolins in the discussion section.[70] Mr. Tidhar has published a short work of fiction in the form of a "might have been" history of the impact the religion could have had.[71]
  2. Bahá'í Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff has an ongoing presence in several websites, notably www.mysticfig.com and as a continuing contributor at www.authorsden.com. As she says she is "hopelessly addicted to words. I get the DTs if I go too long without putting them on paper."[72] and "My family and friends have tried to break me of this addiction, but without success. I have published bunches of science fiction stories…"[73]
  3. "Aslan's Kin"[74] has a significant diversity of references to interfaith Fantasy and Science Fiction.
  4. James A. Herrick mentions the religion in his review of science, science fiction, and religion.[75] It refers to a paper, Intelligent Life in the Universe and Exotheology in Christianity and the Baha'i Writings by Duane Troxel, 1996. Herrick's is negatively reviewed by Gabriel Mckee as part of a broader reproachment.[76]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g adherents.com (2005-07-25). "Baha'is in Science Fiction and Fantasy". adherents.com. Archived from the original on 8 August 2006. Retrieved 2006-08-12. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Moojan Momen (1981). The Bábí and Bahá'í religions 1844-1944: some contemporary western accounts. G. Ronald. pp. 25, 47–51. ISBN 978-0-85398-102-2. 
  3. ^ a b Gail, Marzieh (Summer 1978). "Juliet Thompson Remembers Kahlil Gibran as told to Marzieh Gail". WORLD ORDER: A Bahá'í Magazine (Bahai-Library.com) 12 (4): 29–31. Retrieved 2009-08-15. 
  4. ^ a b Found in Analog (New York), v.106 no.1 (Jan. 1986)
  5. ^ a b Found in Analog (New York), v. 113 no. 11 (Nov. 1993)
  6. ^ Bohnhoff, Maya (2010). "The Bahá'í Faith". Retrieved 2010-10-07. 
  7. ^ Manfred Hutter (8 April 2009). Handbuch Bahāʼī: Geschichte, Theologie, Gesellschaftsbezug. W. Kohlhammer Verlag. pp. 73–74. ISBN 978-3-17-019421-2. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  8. ^ Grinevskaya, Isabella (1916). "Bab" (PDF) (reprint ed.). Retrieved 2009-03-21. 
  9. ^ Hassall, Graham (1993). "Notes on the Babi and Baha'i Religions in Russia and its territories". Journal of Bahá'í Studies 5 (3): pp 41–80, 86. Retrieved 2009-03-20. 
  10. ^ Momen, Moojan. "Russia". Draft for "A Short Encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith". Bahá'í Library Online. Retrieved 2008-04-14. 
  11. ^ [Letter 1908, Nov. 23d, St. Joseph, Missouri [to] Editors, Scribners Magazine [manuscript], (An inquiry about the return of the manuscript The Bab.)
  12. ^ [1], handwritten text by Constance Fauntleroy Runcie, circa < 1908.
  13. ^ "Number Thirteen by the Master of Mysteries". Indianapolis Star (Bobbs-Merritt Company). Sep 28, 1913. pp. 64, 67. Retrieved April 3, 2013. 
  14. ^ Leacock, Stephen; compiled by Ralph D. Wagner (1914). "The Yahi-Bahi Society of Mrs. Resselyer-Brown". Bahai-Library.com. Retrieved 2013-09-15. 
  15. ^ "The Hidden Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: A Novel and Three Short Stories [Hardcover]". 2006-06-05. ASIN 097022981. 
  16. ^ "ebay.com entry". 2006-06-05. Retrieved 2013-04-18. 
  17. ^ "SHERLOCKIAN STORY SUMMARIES - P's". 2006-06-05. Archived from the original on 10 August 2006. Retrieved 2006-08-12. 
  18. ^ "Nasr-ed-Din". 1911encyclopedia.org. 2006-04-29. Retrieved 2012-08-19. 
  19. ^ "Amazon.com". ASIN 0807083437. Retrieved 2013-04-18. 
  20. ^ Bahíyyih Nak̲h̲javání (2007). ˜La œfemme qui lisait trop. Actes Sud. ISBN 978-2-7427-7036-6. 
  21. ^ "Story of Bahá’í girl’s martyrdom to be shot in Malta". Malta Independent Online. July 27, 2008. Retrieved 2012-04-18. 
  22. ^ Kadivar, Darius (07/18/08). "Mona's Dream". Payvand Iran News. Retrieved 2012-04-18. 
  23. ^ "Progress of the Film". Mona's Dream. Jack Lenz, Producer. 2012. Retrieved 2012-04-18. 
  24. ^ Banani, Amin. Tahirih: A Portrait in Poetry, Selected Poems of Qurratu'l-'Ayn. Kalimat Press, Los Angeles, USA. ISBN 1-890688-36-3. 
  25. ^ The Mountain of God, by E. S. Stevens, published in World Order, 4:3-4:4, pages 28-52; 33-50, 1911/1970.
  26. ^ Gertrude Franklin Horn Atherton (30 September 2007) [1912]. Julia France and Her Times. Wildside Press LLC. ISBN 978-1-4344-8368-3. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  27. ^ "Kahlil Gibran". Bahai-library.com. Retrieved 2012-08-19. 
  28. ^ "Bahá'í Heritage Pictures - Display Five - 'Abdu'l-Baha". Users.whsmithnet.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-08-19. 
  29. ^ J Tinsley. "review: The Prophet". Retrieved 2006-09-013. 
  30. ^ Richard Swartz. "review: Jesus, The Son of Man". Retrieved 2006-10-01. 
  31. ^ `Abdu'l-Bahá Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání. "Mahmúd's Diary - The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling `Abdu'l-Bahá's Journey to America". Retrieved 2006-10-01. 
  32. ^ Anthony Lee. "Reconciling the Other - The Baha'i Faith in America as a Successful Synthesis of Christianity and Islam". Retrieved 2006-10-01. 
  33. ^ Ligon, Tom. "The World's Simplest Fusion Reactor: And How to Make It Work". Archived from the original on 2006-06-15. Retrieved 2006-09-05. 
  34. ^ a b c Ligon, Tom. "Devil and The Gardener". Retrieved 2006-08-12. 
  35. ^ Ligon, Tom (2008). "For a Little Price". In A. Khan, Ahmed; Aurangzeb Ahmad, Muhammad. A Mosque Among the Stars. Canada: ZC Books. ISBN 978-0-9783057-1-0.  Additional reviews at:
  36. ^ Jim Bean's Universe (2006). "Maya Bohnhoff". Jim Bean's Universe. Retrieved 2006-08-13. 
  37. ^ a b Bohnhoff, Maya. "Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff, Member SFWA, Bibliography". Retrieved 2010-10-07. 
  38. ^ Ohi, Debbie Ridpath (March 2001). "Interview with Jeff Bohnhoff". The Dandelion Report. Archived from the original on 2006-09-04. Retrieved 2006-09-10. 
  39. ^ Bohnhoff, Maya Kaathryn (1999). The White Dog. London: Interzone. 
  40. ^ Bohnhoff, Maya (2006-06-05). "The MERI is back in print!". Archived from the original on 2006-11-23. Retrieved 2006-08-12. 
  41. ^ a b c d Marshall, Alison (2006-06-05). "Alison Marshall in New Zealand of Arts Dialogue interview". Retrieved 2006-08-12. 
  42. ^ Office of Strategic Communications (2006-06-05). "Fiat Lux Mailing List Class Notes - May 2003". Retrieved 2006-08-12. 
  43. ^ Joe Keehner Jr. (2006-06-05). "Journal of Green Lifestyle 2002". Archived from the original on 4 September 2006. Retrieved 2006-08-12. 
  44. ^ The Bulletin (Bend, Oregon) (2006-06-05). "Friends, neighbors cushion a tough week for Bend woman". Retrieved 2006-08-12. 
  45. ^ Dale Roberts, Paul (2006-01-26). "ARVID NELSON, Writer of Rex Mundi". Jazma Online. 
  46. ^ Press, David (2008-07-18). "Arvid Nelson talks "Rex Mundi"". CBR News. 
  47. ^ Manning, Shaun (2008-12-18). "Arvid nelson on "rex mundi's" final arc". CBR News. 
  48. ^ "Interview with Arvid Nelson 8/20/07". Dark Horse Interviews (Dark Horse Comics). 2007-08-20. 
  49. ^ a b c "Tk Ralya". 2006-06-05. Retrieved 2006-08-12. 
  50. ^ "Qadas-Jewish" (PDF). 2006-06-05. Retrieved 2006-08-12. 
  51. ^ "Qadas-Moslem". 2006-06-05. Retrieved 2006-08-12. 
  52. ^ "The Chalice of Life by Elizabeth Lehman". Planetbahai.org. 2007-06-29. Retrieved 2012-08-19. 
  53. ^ Scottish Inter-Faith Week Events 27 November – 4 December 2011 scottishinterfaithcouncil.org
  54. ^ Wagner, Ralph D.Yahi-Bahi Society of Mrs. Resselyer-Brown, The. Accessed on: 30-07-2011
  55. ^ Anonymous Eye in the sky; Dick, Philip K. Accessed on: 30-07-2011
  56. ^ page 178, ISBN 978-0-441-01499-6, (c) 2007
  57. ^ Robinson, Benjamin (2004-06-05). "She of Little Faith Capsule Revision". The Simpsons Archive. Retrieved 2006-08-12. 
  58. ^ Robinson, Benjamin (2000-11-09). "Alone Again, Natura-Diddly Capsule Revision". The Simpsons Archive. Archived from the original on 1 September 2006. Retrieved 2006-08-12. 
  59. ^ Frances Flannery-Dailey and Rachel Wagner. "Wake Up! Gnosticism & Buddhism in The Matrix". In Paul Allen Williams. The Journal of Religion and Film (The University of Nebraska Omaha). Archived from the original on 10 September 2006. Retrieved 2006-09-11. 
  60. ^ "God-talk and The Matrix I". Terry Mattingly. 2003-05-14. Retrieved 2006-09-11. 
  61. ^ Australian Baha’i Community (2006-06-05). "First Baha'i Character" (PDF). www.bahai.org.au. Archived from the original on 2009-09-14. Retrieved 2006-08-12. 
  62. ^ Australian Broadcasting Corporation (2005). "Layla Young - Receptionist/Student Liaison Officer, MDA". abc.net.au. Retrieved 2006-08-14. 
  63. ^ Australian Broadcasting Corporation (2005). "Medical Defense Australia: Episode Guide". abc.net.au. Archived from the original on 21 September 2006. Retrieved 2006-08-14. 
  64. ^ *White Wolf Publishing, Inc (2006-12-12). "ISRA Methodology and Philosophy". Adeptus Systematus Corporation. Archived from the original on 2007-03-22. Retrieved 2006-12-12. 
  65. ^ Itai, Perez. "Baha'i in Trinity". How Baha'i Is Presented in Luna Rising and How to Use It. rpgpost.com. Retrieved 12 February 2013. 
  66. ^ Nelson, Chris (2007). "The seven valleys". Proceedings of the 2nd international conference on Digital interactive media in entertainment and arts (DIMEA '07): 179–180. doi:10.1145/1306813.1306855. ISBN 978-1-59593-708-7. Retrieved February 4, 2014. 
  67. ^ .
  68. ^ Winters, Jonah (2004-06-05). "Bahá'í Library Online - Fiction section". Jonah Winters. Archived from the original on 19 July 2006. Retrieved 2006-08-12. 
  69. ^ Tidhar, Lavie (2004-06-05). "The Baha'i and Science Fiction". Quintamid LLC. Retrieved 2008-03-21. 
  70. ^ Steven Kolins (2004-06-05). "Well that was… weird". Quintamid LLC. Retrieved 2006-08-12. 
  71. ^ Tidhar, Lavie (2004-06-05). "The Baha'i and Science Fiction" 1 (2). Doug Helbling. Archived from the original on 2006-02-17. Retrieved 2006-08-12. 
  72. ^ Bohnhoff, Maya Kaathryn (2004-06-05). "Bohnhoff biography". AuthorsDen, Inc. Archived from the original on 27 August 2006. Retrieved 2006-08-12. 
  73. ^ Bohnhoff, Maya Kaathryn (2004-06-05). "Bohnhoff Writing". Jeff & Maya Bohnhoff. Archived from the original on 2006-11-23. Retrieved 2006-08-12. 
  74. ^ Heather Elizabeth Peterson. "Aslan's Kin: Interfaith Fantasy and Science Fiction". Greenbelt.com. Retrieved 2012-08-20. 
  75. ^ James A. Herrick (15 May 2008). Scientific Mythologies: How Science and Science Fiction Forge New Religious Beliefs. InterVarsity Press. pp. 204–206, 211. ISBN 978-0-8308-2588-2. Retrieved 19 August 2013. 
  76. ^ Mckee, Gabriel (Feb 2009). "Wrong on Religion; Wrong on Science Fiction; A review of James A. Herrick's Scientific Mythologies". The Internet Review of Science Fiction 2009 (February). Retrieved August 19, 2013. 

Further study[edit]

  • Collins, William P. (1990). Bibliography of English-language Works on the Bábí and Bahá'í Faiths. Oxford, UK: George Ronald. ISBN 0-85398-315-1. 

External links[edit]