In Baháʼí cosmology reality is divided into three divisions. The first division is God, who is preexistent and on whom the rest of creation is contingent. The second division is God's Logos, the Primal Will, which is the realm of God's commands and grace. This realm pervades all created things. The Manifestations of God, Messengers from God, are appearances of the Logos in the physical world. The third division is Creation, which includes the physical world. Creation is not seen as confined to the material universe, and individual material objects, such as the Earth, are seen to come into being at particular moment and then subsequently break down into their constituent parts. Thus, the current universe is seen as a result of a long-lasting process (cosmological time scales), evolving to its current state. In the Baháʼí Faith, the whole universe is a sign of God and is dependent on him and humanity was created to know God and to serve his purpose.
Baháʼu'lláh, the founder of the Baháʼí Faith, distinguished five realms of existence. The terminology used can partly be traced back to Islamic Neoplatonism and Sufism, but this does not mean that Baháʼu'lláh supports a Neoplatonist or Sufi worldview. He views all metaphysical viewpoints as relative, reflecting only the soul or psyche and cultural background of the individual rather than any Absolute Truth. The Baháʼí teachings de-emphasize the importance of metaphysics, while focusing primarily on social and personal ethics.
God is manifested in all five realms, the Manifestations of God in all but the first realm, and humans exist between the angelic and physical realms and can choose which to live in.
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All the divine worlds revolve around this world, and all are interdependent. The divine worlds can only be described by metaphors, and can be compared with the world of dreams. The realms of Nasut and Malakut are parts of the 'world of creation' and are ruled by the same spiritual laws. The purpose of life in this world is to develop spiritual qualities that are needed in the next world.
Man has a free will to live a material life in the world of Nasut, or a life of detachment in the realm of Malakut, manifesting the names and attributes of God. Baháʼu'lláh explains that the 'realm of subtle entities' (ʻalam-i-dharr, a reference to God's primordial covenant with humanity mentioned in Qurʼán 7:172[Quran 7:172]) refers to the revelation of the Prophets. Before the Word of God is revealed, all people are considered equal in rank. Differences only appear after the Prophet reveals himself, caused by the different responses of each individual's free will.
Baháʼu'lláh also wrote of many worlds of God. In the Súriy-i-Vafa, he writes: "Know thou of a truth that the worlds of God are countless in their number, and infinite in their range. None can reckon or comprehend them except God, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise." ʻAbdu'l-Bahá, son and successor of Baháʼu'lláh, writes in the Lawh-i-Aflákiyyih (Tablet of the Universe) that there are infinite Manifestations of God in the infinite worlds of God.
Baháʼu'lláh explained that while humans should seek knowledge, no human can understand the nature of God's creation or God himself. He stated that while God had given humans a rational mind, humans are unable to comprehend the inner reality.
- Arcs of Descent and Ascent
- Baháʼí Faith and the unity of religion
- Baháʼí Faith on life after death
- Baháʼí Faith and science
- Some Answered Questions
- Cosmology in medieval Islam
- Sufi cosmology
- Religious cosmology
- Rūḥ and Nafs
- ^ Moojan Momen states that the "last four realms appear to be addressing the first realm in the Long Obligatory Prayer (salát-i kabír): "I testify unto that whereunto have testified all created things (násút), and the Concourse on high (malakút), and the inmates of the all-highest Paradise (jabarút), and beyond them the Tongue of Grandeur itself from the all-glorious Horizon (láhút), that Thou art God... " Bahá'u'lláh, Prayers and Meditations, No. CLXXXIII, p. 246/321." (the terms in between brackets do not occur in the original text. The terms used are: ashyáʼ, al-maláʼ al-aʻlá, jannat al-ʻulyá, and al-ufuq al-abhá.)
- ^ a b c d e f g Smith, Peter (2000). "metaphysics: God and the world". A Concise Encyclopedia of the Baháʼí Faith. Oxford: Oneworld Publications. pp. 245–246. ISBN 1-85168-184-1.
- ^ Smith, Peter (2000). "creation". A Concise Encyclopedia of the Baháʼí Faith. Oxford: Oneworld Publications. p. 116. ISBN 1-85168-184-1.
- ^ von Kitzing, Eberhard (1998-03-08). "Originality of Species". Retrieved 2008-04-13.
- ^ Baháʼí World Centre. One Common Faith. pp. 30-31.
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Momen, Moojan (1988). Studies in the Bábí and Baháʼí Religions vol. 5, chapter: A Basis For Baháʼí Metaphysics. Kalimat Press. pp. 185–217. ISBN 0-933770-72-3.
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Lepain, J.M. (2010) . The Tablet of All Food: The Hierarchy of the Spiritual Worlds and the Metaphoric Nature of Physical Reality. Baháʼí Studies Review 16, pp. 43–60. doi: 10.1386/bsr.16.43/1.
- ^ Kluge, Ian (2010, 2011). Neoplatonism and the Baháʼí Writings. Parts 1 and 2, published in Lights of Irfan.
- ^ Savi, Julio (2008). Towards the Summit of Reality: An introduction to Baháʼu'lláh's Seven Valleys and Four Valleys. Oxford, UK: George Ronald. ISBN 978-0-85398-522-8.
- ^ Khadem, Babak Rod. Origins of the Bahá'í Concept of Unity and Causality: A Brief Survey of Greek, Neoplatonic, and Islamic Underpinnings, in Lights of Irfan, Volume 7 (2006)
- ^ a b c d e Momen, Moojan (2003). "The God of Baháʼu'lláh". In Momen, Moojan (ed.). The Bahaʼi Faith and the World's Religions. Oxford, UK: George Ronald. pp. 1–38.
- ^ Milani, Kavian; Fananapazir, Nafeh (1999). A Study of the Pen Motif in the Baháʼí Writings. in: Journal of Baháʼí Studies, 9:1. Association for Baha'i Studies North America, Ottawa.
- ^ a b c d e Kazemi, Farshid (2009). Mysteries of Alast: The Realm of Subtle Entities and the Primordial Covenant in the Bábí-Baháʼí Writings. Baháʼí Studies Review 15.
- ^ a b c d e f g h Saiedi, Nader (2008). Gate of the Heart: Understanding the Writings of the Báb. Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press. p. 137. ISBN 978-1-55458-035-4.
- ^ a b c d Lambden, Stephen (2004). "Kaleidoscope: Some Aspects of Angelology, Light, the Divine Throne and Color Mysticism in Bábí and Baháʼí Scripture" (PDF). Irfan Colloquia. Vol. 5. Wilmette, IL: Irfan Colloquia. pp. 179–180. ISBN 1904510000.
- ^ Momen, Moojan (2000). A Study of the Meaning of the Word "Al-Amr" in the Qur'án and in the Writings of Baháʼu'lláh. Lights of Irfan, Book 1.
- ^ Lepain, Jean-Marc (2007). An Introduction to the Lawh-i Haqqu'n-Nas.
- ^ Kluge, Ian (2018). Freedom and the Baháʼí Writings. in Lights of Irfan 19.
- ^ Baháʼu'lláh (1994) [1873-92]. Tablets of Baháʼu'lláh Revealed After the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Baháʼí Publishing Trust. p. 187. ISBN 0-87743-174-4.
- ^ Hatcher, John S. (2005). Close Connections: The Bridge Between Spiritual and Physical Reality. Wilmette, Illinois. pp. 150–151. ISBN 1-931847-15-0.
- ^ 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Tablet of the Universe (Lawh-i-Aflákiyyih).
- Lepain, Jean-Marc (2015) . The Archeology of the Kingdom of God.
- Ma'sumian, Bijan. Realms of Divine Existence as described in the Tablet of All Food, in Deepen, 3.2.2, pp. 11–17, 1994 Summer.
- Mihrshahi, Robin (2013). A Wondrous New Day: The Numerology of Creation and 'All Things' in the Badíʻ Calendar.
- Momen, Moojan (2003). "The God of Baháʼu'lláh". In Momen, Moojan (ed.). The Baha'i Faith and the World's Religions. Oxford, UK: George Ronald. pp. 1–38.
- Momen, Moojan (2011). "Cosmogony and Cosmology viii. in the Bahai faith". Encyclopædia Iranica, Vol. VI, Fasc. 3. pp. 328–329.
- The Loom of Reality, thematic compilations of quotations from the Bahá’í Writings and beyond
- Reality, Soul and the Worlds of God, compilation
- Iscander Tinto: The Worlds of God (archived)
- More articles on Baháʼí cosmology and related subjects on Baháʼí Library (various authors)