The Bahá'í religion states that the soul is immortal, continuing to exist after the death of the body. The soul, according to 'Abdu'l-Bahá, has the powers of imagination, thought, comprehension, and memory. Bahá'í scripture states that it consists of divine attributes, and a major purpose of life is to develop and express these attributes. Such development, the achievement of faith in God's latest Manifestation, and one's deeds, together define one's spiritual state after death. The next world is seen as a numberless series of spiritual planes or kingdoms, rising ever closer to God. The Bahá'í religion does not believe in a literal heaven or hell, but sees heaven and hell as referring to the soul's spiritual proximity to or distance from God. It also rejects reincarnation, believing instead in the endless advancement and progress of the soul from one plane of existence to another.
Scriptural discussions include Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, 453-56 (Gleanings, LXXIX-LXXXI) and 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, 183-201; Some Answered Questions, 223-43. A compilation of the Bahá'í writings on life after death has been assembled by Hushidar Motlagh and is titled Unto Him Shall We Return. Lights of Guidance discusses reincarnation, 536-8.
Esslemont, 188-95 Hatcher and Martin, 100, 104-06 Faizi, 59-62 Huddleston, 57-8 Ferraby, 145-51 Momen, 110-14
An excellent discussion of the Bahá'í concept of the afterlife may be found in John Hatcher, The Purpose of Physical Reality, chapter 4, "The Eternal Consequences of the Physical Experience." Many popular books and collections of scripture have been produced, including Alan Bryson's Light After Death, subtitled A comparison of the Near-Death-Experience and the teachings of the Bahá'í Faith on life after death, which presents many quotations from primary Bahá'í sources, and Farnaz Ma'súmián's Life After Death: Religious Views and Near-Death Experience a more comprehensive compilation of texts from all the world's major religions in the topic of the next world and of this-world encounters with it. Hushidar Motlagh compiled some relevant Bahá'í texts in The Glorious Journey to God: Selections from Sacred Scriptures on the Afterlife. Statements on reincarnation are included in Lights of Guidance, 536-8.
In the "Tablet of the World," Bahá'u'lláh lists the things "conducive to the advancement of mankind." He writes that "special regard must be paid to agriculture," which "preceedeth" in importance elements such as the Lesser Peace, world fellowship, education, and a univeral language. (Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, 90) Bahá'ís believe that agriculture is far more than simple farming, for it includes a whole spectrum of environmental, economic, and spiritual concerns relating to food and the ecological sustainable development of the planet.
Lights of Guidance, 547, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, 90
Ferraby, 102 Momen, 45, 64 Huddleston, 84
Iraj Poostchi's Agriculture Beyond 2000: A Bahá'í Perspective is the longest study of agriculture yet released. Paul Hanley argues for the often under-estimated importance of agriculture in "Agriculture: A Fundamental Principle," in Journal of Bahá'í Studies, 3.1 (1990-1991).
¶5. Art, Literature, Music, Architecture
The Bahá'í religion does not advocate a particular kind of art, but Bahá'ís who are artists have made various contributions to the art world, and have a unique perspective on art because of their religious beliefs. In its brief history the Bahá'í Faith has made some significant and unique contributions to the world of architecture through the construction of its Houses of Worship and the buildings of its World Centre; for details, see the entries for Houses of Worship and Holy Places.
A short compilation of scriptural texts on the arts, simply titled The Arts, is in Compilation of Compilations, volume I.
Esslemont, 153 Huddleston, 83, 172 Hatcher and Martin, 179, 181-84
One of the only compilations of original Bahá'í literature and artwork is Crystallizations: 20 Works by Bahá'í Artists, edited by Ross Woodman. This includes Juliet Thompson's dramatical play I, Mary Magdalene, essays, fiction, some visual art, and much poetry. Another source for Bahá'í visual and poetic arts is World Order magazine, which includes selections of original work in every issue. Most issues of the Bahá'í World up through volume XVIII include a final section of music, hymns, and poetry. Books about specific topics, such as on the painter Mark Tobey or the potter Bernard Leach, also contain samples of artwork.
A good overview of Bahá'í practice of, varieties of, and teachings on art is Ann Boyles' "The Language of the Heart: Arts in the Bahá'í World Community," in The Bahá'í World: An International Record, 1994-95.<* Inder Manocha published some introductory ruminations on the nature of Bahá'í art as "Bahá'í Art: Fact or Fiction?" in Bahá'í Studies Review, 3.1 (1993). The most extensive sourcebook on Bahá'í art is Michael Fitzgerald, ed., The Creative Circle: Art, Literature, and Music in Bahá'í Perspective, a collection of essays on art by Bahá'ís. Glen A. Eyford's "Aesthetics and Spiritual Education," in World Order, 14.1 (Fall, 1979) explores the importance of aesthetic experience, symbol, and myth to the communication of spiritual ideas. Ludwig Tuman's "Toward Critical Foundations of a World Culture of the Arts," in World Order, 9.4 (Summer 1975), later expanded into the book Mirror of the Divine: Art in the Bahá'í World Community, both explore the role of the arts and the artist in society, their relationship to society's worldview, and their potential in advancing the world community's future spiritual attainments. Anne Gordon Atkinson briefly examines the history of the presentation of and participation by women in art in "Women in Art," in Journal of Bahá'í Studies, 4.2 (June-Sept. 1991).
Eno Marconi's "Bahá'í Theatre?" in World Order, 8.4 (Summer 1974) discusses the Bahá'í teachings relevant to theatrical productions. Elham Afnan examines Bahá'í attitudes towards war and visions of peace as they relate to the modern novel in "The Good of the World and the Happiness of the Nations: A Study of Modern Utopian and Dystopian Literature," in Journal of Bahá'í Studies, 1.4 (1988-1989). Her "'Abdu'l-Bahá and Ezra Pound's Circle," in Journal of Bahá'í Studies, 6.2 (June-Sept. 1994), is a brief discussion of the Bahá'í Faith and some primary literary figures of the early twentieth century. One of the only examinations of Bahá'í literary expression and aesthetics is Suheil Bushrui's The Style of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. John Hatcher's The Ocean of His Words: A Reader's Guide to the Art of Bahá'u'lláh presents the writings of Bahá'u'lláh as literature and analyzes his use of metaphor and the structure, and style of his writings.
Poetry is one of the most practiced art forms in the Bahá'í world, a fact that Shirin Sabri discusses in "The Purpose of Poetry," in Journal of Bahá'í Studies, 1.1 (1988-1989). David L. Erickson and Jack McLean have each published comments on this article in the Journal of Bahá'í Studies, 2.1 (1989-1990). There is a biography of Robert Hayden (poet of the United States Library of Congress, and a Bahá'í) by John Hatcher titled From the Auroral Darkness, aspects of which he has summarized in "Racial Identity and the Patterns of Consolidation in the Poetry of Robert Hayden," in Journal of Bahá'í Studies, 3.2 (1990-1991). The Fall 1981 issue of World Order (16.1) was devoted to a series of retrospective essays on Robert Hayden; the Summer 1983 issue (17.4) was devoted to articles about Robert Hayden and contains a selection of poems. Several anthologies of poetry have been published by the Association for Bahá'í Studies: "Response to Revelation: Poetry by Bahá'ís" (Bahá'í Studies, 7); "Abiding Silence: An Anthology of Poems in Honour of the Bahá'ís of Iran" (Bahá'í Studies, 15) edited by Shirin Sabri; and Bahá'í Studies, volume 10, which consists of a collection of four essays by Bahá'ís about the artist and artistic expression. There are numerous volumes of poetry published by Roger White, such as Another Song, Another Season: Poems and Portrayals; Occasions of Grace: More Poems and Portrayals; and The Witness of Pebbles. One of the Bahá'í Faith's more famous artists was the preeminent British potter Bernard Leach, who was also a very good poet and visual artist; the most recent of his many collections of poetry and drawings is Drawings, Verse, and Belief.
Little work has been done on the visual arts. One article is Ross Woodman's "Bahá'u'lláh's Influence on the New York School of Painting: The 'Unapprehended Inspiration' of Newman and Rothko," in Journal of Bahá'í Studies, 4.1 (Mar.-June 1991), in which Woodman argues for indirect Bahá'í influences on the work of these two painters and even mentions that Mark Tobey, the renowned abstract painter and a Bahá'í, should be seen as the founder of the New York School. Books of Mark Tobey's art that contain discussions of his participation in the Bahá'í Faith include Arthur Dahl's Mark Tobey: Art and Belief, Eliza E. Rathbone's Mark Tobey: City Paintings, the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States' Mark Tobey: paintings from the collection of Joyce and Arthur Dahl, an article on one series of his paintings, Julie Badiee's "Mark Tobey's City Paintings: Meditations on an Age of Transition," in Journal of Bahá'í Studies, 1.4 (1988-1989), and Graham Hassall's essay "The Influences on Mark Tobey," in Bahá'í Studies Bulletin, 4.1 (Mar. 1986). Further, the Spring 1977 issue of World Order (11.3) was devoted to a series of retrospective essays about Tobey and his art. Much of the focus of visual arts in Islam was on calligraphy; one of Bahá'u'lláh's followers, Mishkín-Qalam, excelled in the art. An article by Julie Oeming Badiee and Heshmatollah Badiee, "The Calligraphy of Mishkín-Qalam," in Journal of Bahá'í Studies, 3.4 (Dec. 1990-Mar. 1991), discusses his life and use of symbolism and includes some beautiful examples of his art. Jalalíyyíh Quinn's notes explaining her series of paintings currently on display at the office of the Association of Bahá'í Studies in Ottawa, "Notes to the Paintings in Honor of the Vision of Shoghi Effendi," in The Vision of Shoghi Effendi," includes color prints of five of these paintings.
Music is regarded with great esteem in the Bahá'í writings, and Bahá'í musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie and the songwriting team Seals and Crofts have done much to popularize and promote the Faith.
See Kitáb-i-Aqdas paragraph 51 and Note 79. The most complete collection of quotations on music, simply titled Music, is found in Compilation of Compilations, volume II. See also Lights of Guidance, 410-13.Adib Taherzadeh discusses music in Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, volume 3, 367-9. Mentions of and essays on music can be found in The Creative Circle: Art, Literature, and Music in Bahá'í Perspective, a collection of essays on art by Bahá'ís. Kerry Hart's "The Role of Music in the Advancement of Civilization," in Journal of Bahá'í Studies, 2.1 (1989-1990), examines the effects of music on cultural and spiritual growth. Margaret L. Caton presents a picture of the place of music in 'Abdu'l-Bahá's cultural surroundings through an examination of the Bahá'í impact on one famous Middle Eastern musician in "Bahá'í Influences on Mírzá 'Abdu'lláh, Qájár Court Musician and Master of the Radíf," in Juan R. Cole and Moojan Momen, From Iran East and West, Studies in Bábí and Bahá'í History, volume 2. R. Jackson Armstrong-Ingram's Music, Devotions, and Mashriqu'l-Adhkár: Studies in Bábí and Bahá'í History, volume 4 contains detailed histories both of American Bahá'í hymnology and of the use of music in the houses of worship, as well as a detailed history of its architectural design. Robert Stockman offers differing perspectives of many topics in this book in his "Review of Music, Devotions, and Mashriqu'l-Adhkár," in Journal of Bahá'í Studies, 1.2 (1988-1989).
Besides Music, Devotions, and Mashriqu'l-Adhkár, other articles that discuss architecture and the Faith are Leo R. Zrudlo's "The Missing Dimension in the Built Environment: A Challenge for the 21st Century," in Journal of Bahá'í Studies, 3.1 (1990-1991), which asserts the lack of a spiritual dimension in much of modern architecture. Duane L. Herrman's "Houses as Perfect as Possible," in World Order, 26.1 (Fall 1994), and Tom Kubala's "Architectural Implications of the Bahá'í Community," in World Order, 9.1 (Fall 1974), describe the aesthetic styles of the Bahá'í houses of worship. Ugo Giachery's biography of Shoghi Effendi, Shoghi Effendi: Recollections, includes a lengthy section on the Bahá'í World Center and its design considerations and describes at length the actual construction of some of its buildings and gardens. A discussion of the spiritual significances of art, complete with numerous photographs of Bahá'í architecture, has been published by Faríburz Sahbá, an architect and Project Manager for the Mount Carmel Bahá'í Projects, as "Art and Architecture: A Bahá'í Perspective," in Journal of Bahá'í Studies, 7:3 (March-June 1997).
* Subtitles of The Bahá'í World are inconsistent; they go by The Bahá'í World: A Biennial International Record, The Bahá'í World: An International Record, or just The Bahá'í World.