The Bahai Doubt

The Bahais claim that after the martyrdom of Imam Hasan Askari (as), there remained no Imam on the earth. The martyrdom marked the commencement of the period of "fatrah", which continued for a period of 1,000 years. Finally, we read that on 5th Jamadiul Awwal, 1260 AH (23 May 1844), the land of Iran echoed with the declaration of a 25 year old youth - "I am the Qaem for whom you all have been waiting". This youth became famous in history with the title of the Bab. So the doubt is - Was the earth devoid of the Imam as the Bahais claim?

Our response - The Shiah Viewpoint

The period of "fatrah" is the period which passes between two prophets (who were present in person among the people). The author of Qamoos endorses this definition of "fatrah". This is notwithstanding the Islamic belief that Allah never leaves this earth devoid of His Proof (representative, either a prophet or an Imam). I present below a few traditions from the Holy Imams (as) which support this belief.

Imam Sadiq (as) said: "If the earth is devoid of the Proof of Allah, it will collapse and swallow its inhabitants" In another tradition he said, "If there remain two individuals on the face of the earth, then one of them will be an Imam. If one of them remains, that person will be the Imam designated by Allah."

The concept that Allah will never leave the earth without His designated representative (often called Hujjat) is famous and backed by traditions.

A person asked Imam Ja'fare' Sadiq (as), "Can there be a period when the believers do not recognise the Imam in it?" Imam (as) said, "It is said like that". The narrator asked, "What will be our responsibility in such a situation?" The Imam (as) replied, "Remain firm on the previous order (sayings of the prevoius Imams) so that the Imam after him becomes evident for you"

In the above tradition, it is important to note:

  1. The question posed by the narrator is about recognition of the Imam of the time and not about the absence of the Imam. Secondly, the word used in the tradition "ya'refo" indicates that the people may not be able to recognise the Imam (reinforcing the concept of Ghaybat or occulation as the Shiahs believe). The narrator does not falsify the existence of the Imam.

  2. The reply of the Imam (as), "It is said like that" indicates that such an event will take place.

  3. The subsequent question about the responsibilities of the believers in such circumstances signifies that when the Imam is not zaahir (apparent) the belivers will have duties which they must fulfill to remain firmly on the right path.

  4. The reply of the Imam (as) - "remain firm on the previous order" means that during this period, believers must not be misled and be deceived by any person (into thinking that the Imam has arrived). The words of the Imam Sadiq (as) are directed towards false claimants like Mirza Ali Mohammed Bab. He (as) did not openly take the name of the Bab in line with the tradition of the Holy Prophet (saw). The prophethood of the Holy Prophet (saw) was marked by the presence of hypocrites, however he (saw) never disclosed their names. In the same manner, Imam Sadiq (as) did not take the name of Mirza Ali Mohammed Bab, however through his traditions, he has given a clear warning that the believers should beware of imposters and fraudsters.

  5. The words of the Imam (as), "remain firm on the previous order" indicate that our responsibility during the apparent absence of the Imam is that we try and "recognise" the Imam and make ourselves conversant with his (as) reality so that our faith remains safe and we are not misled and misguided.

  6. Bahai books mention that the period preceding the Bab was one when people were despaired and tired of the war (with Russia). In such miserable conditions, the call of the Bab that he was the medium to the hidden Imam was met with enthusiasm. However when the Bab claimed to be the Hidden Imam himself, those parents who lost their sons in the skirmishes which followed the claim of the Bab, beat their faces in anguish questioning the very claim of the Bab as the Hidden Imam.

For the sake of argument even if we accept the period of fatrah, it exceeded 1,000 years. As per narrations, Imam Hasan Askari (as) was martyred on 8th Rabiul Awwal 260 AH and Bab staked his claim only in Jamadiul Awwal.

Why is the period of fatrah calculated from the martyrdom of Imam Askari (as) to the be'sat (the date of claim) of the Bab? And why not from the date of birth of the Bab. As per Islamic beliefs, an Imam is an Imam from his birth and not from the date he assumes the office of Imamate after the passing away of the previous Imam. The Bahais accept that the previous Imam - Imam Hasan Askari (as) had passed away from this world. Therefore the birth of the Bab should have signaled the end of fatrah. Why is the birth date of the Bab not considered as the date when the fatrah ended?

If the Bab was the Mahdi then why is he still referred to as the Bab (the Gate)? Why is he not referred to as the Mahdi. If a medical representative is promoted to a managerial position, he will be referred to as a Manager and not as a medical representative. If the Bab was "promoted" to the position of Mahdi (the Hidden Imam), then why was his title maintained as "the Bab"?

The prophecy of the Holy Prophet (saw) about the reappearance of the Hidden Imam is that the Imam (as) will reappear from between Rukn and Maqaam in the precincts of the Holy Kaaba. Imam Mahdi (as), as per the traditions will announce his reappearance with the words, "I am the Baqiyatullah" (referring to the verse of the Quran, Chapter of Hud, verse 86). There is definitely no mention of any Imam from Iran with the words, "I am the Qaem…".

The Bahais must arrive as a conclusion about the status of the Bab. Was he the Bab as he claimed. Or was he the Mahdi as he claimed. Or was he the forerunner of Bahaullah as the Bahais claim. Or was he an independent prophet as the Bahais claim. Or was he God as he claimed. Or was he all of these as the insane will claim.

The Bahais question the name of the true Imam Mahdi (as). However they should question how "Mirza" Reza Bazzaz is the father of "Sayyed" Ali Mohammed. The question is relevant because a "Sayyed" is one whose father is Sayyed - from the lineage of the Holy Prophet (saw). "Mirza" is the one whose mother is Sayyed, but father is not. This understanding of Sayyed versus Mirza is prevalent in Iran till today. But obviously the Bahais have not understood this. Or maybe they don't want to understand it.


The Bahais fear that the loopholes in their claims will be exposed easily. Hence as we have seen in earlier articles, they take any tradition and try to "fit" the Bab and Baha in the mould of the tradition. However as the above article will show - their concept of fatrah is flawed. We cannot go by what they think fatrah is - we will accept what our Imams (as) have said. fatrah is for Prophets and not for Imams.

Besides, the confusion over the position of the Bab is simply terrible. Bahais have to clarify his position once and for all. Or they must refer to the books of the Bab and see what he claimed for himself. And that is indeed a better way to resolve the issue. If Bab made some claims for himself, then lets hear it from him. I hope to tackle this issue with the help of my friend Imran Shaykh in a subsequent section on the Bab.

Also Read:

blog comments powered by Disqus

Bookmark and Share | GET RSS


» Bab - Life and Times
» Bab v/s Holy Prophet
» Bab v/s Imam Mahdi
» Key Bahai Teachings
» Bahai Principles Explained
» Bahaullah - Prophet or God?
» Human Equality in Bahais
» Advancing Status of Women
» Fallacy of Gender Equality
» Unreasonableness of The Faith
» Sects of Bahais
» Unity of God - Analysis
» Prophethood - Analysis
» Prophethood in Quran
» Prophethood as per Bahais
» Day of Judgement - Analysis
» Fatwas for Bahais
» Fatwas from Malaysia
» Fatwas from Saudi Arabia
» Fatwas from Iran
» Fatwas from Al Azhar
» More Fatwas - Bahai Faith
» Bahai Census Fraud
» Bahais Are Banned Everywhere
» Bahai Census - Iran
» Bahai Census - India
» Bahai Census - Russia
» UHJ: Failed Prophecy
» Another Failed Prophecy
» Another Missing Prophecy
» 5 Lies of Abdul Baha
» The Shiah Viewpoint
» Name of Imam Mahdi
» Birth of Imam Mahdi
» Books Section
» Videos Section
» (Urdu)
» God Passes By: Analysis
» Traveller's Narrative
» Some Answered Questions
» More Books
» Twelve Bahai Principles
Free online magazine for updates in the Bahai World. Subscribe today!


Aqdas in Hiding?
Bahai Fundamentalism
Understanding Laws


BahaiAwareness on Facebook

» Why This Website
» Readers View
» Give Feedback
» Sitemap