Co-published with the Association for Bahá’í Studies
In 1844 a charismatic young Persian merchant from Shiraz, known as the Báb, electrified the Shí‘ih world by claiming to be the return of the Hidden Twelfth Imam of Islamic prophecy. But contrary to traditional expectations of apocalyptic holy war, the Báb maintained that the spiritual path was not one of force and coercion but love and compassion. The movement he founded was the precursor of the Bahá’í Faith, but until now the Báb’s own voluminous writings have been seldom studied and often misunderstood. Gate of the Heart offers the first in-depth introduction to the writings of the Báb.
Taking an interdisciplinary approach, the author examines the Báb’s major works in multifaceted context, explaining the unique theological system, mystical world view, and interpretive principles they embody as well as the rhetorical and symbolic uses of language through which the Báb radically transforms traditional concepts. Arguing that the Bábí movement went far beyond an attempt at an Islamic Reformation, the author explores controversial issues and offers conclusions that will compel a re-evaluation of some prevalent assumptions about the Báb’s station, claims, and laws.
Nader Saiedi’s meticulous and insightful analysis identifies the key themes, terms, and concepts that characterize each stage of the Báb’s writings, unlocking the code of the Báb’s mystical lexicon. Gate of the Heart is a subtle and profound textual study and an essential resource for anyone wishing to understand the theological foundations of the Bahá’í religion and the Báb’s significance in religious history.
About the Author
Nader Saiedi was born in Tehran, Iran, and received his master’s degree in economics from Pahlavi University in Shiraz and his PhD in sociology from the University of Wisconsin. He is a professor of sociology at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. His most recent book is Logos and Civilization: Spirit, History, and Order in the Writings of Bahái’u’lláh (2000).
Table of Contents
A Short Chronological List of the Báb's Writings 29
Part I The Interpretive Revelation
1 The Mode of Interpretation 39
2 The Divine Chemistry of Fire, Water, Air, and Earth 67
3 The Remembrance, the Gate, and the Dust 83
4 The Structure of the Qayyúmu'l-Asmá' 111
5 The Qayyúmu'l-Asmá' as Interpretation 139
Part II The Metaphysics of the Primal Will and Divine Action
6 The Sanctuary of the Heart and the Path to Truth 163
7 The Primal Will as the Unity of Subject and Object 181
8 The Stages of Divine Creative Action 201
9 The Epistle of Justice and the Root Principles of Religion 217
Part III The Primal Point and Progressive Revelation
10 Resurrection and Historical Consciousness 239
11 History and the Perspective of Unity 259
12 Community and the Primal Unity 281
13 Ethics and Laws in the Bayán 299
14 The Law of the Sword and the Twin Revelations 339