Israel News | Zionism Israel Center | Zionism History | Zionism Definitions | ZioNation | Forum | Zionism FAQ | Maps| Edit

Monday, November 27, 2006

World's Baha'i connect with past in Israel

Mon Nov 27, 2006 11:08 AM GMT

World's Baha'i connect with past in Israel
By Jonathan Saul

HAIFA, Israel (Reuters) - Some pilgrims stand in silence. Others
prostrate themselves and offer fragrant petals.

There is no clergy, no sermons, no pressing throngs of faithful.

The hushed Baha'i pilgrimage to the Holy Land focuses on personal
prayer and meditation, and is like no other in a region long torn
between religions struggling -- often noisily and sometimes
violently -- for hearts, minds and land.

"It was a spiritual journey for me," said Mutale Salimu Hobbs,
30, from Zambia in southern Africa.

"It was a great experience, with people coming together as one,"
she said on Mount Carmel, the world headquarters of the Baha'i
movement above the busy Israeli port city of Haifa.

Founded in the 19th century by a Persian nobleman, Baha'i is
considered by some scholars to be an offshoot of Islam. The faith
sees itself as an independent religion and its 5 million
followers are spread across more than 190 countries.

Baha'is say their religion is among the fastest growing in the
world, despite a ban on proselytising.

Believers are expected to share their faith with others, but
would-be members are welcomed only if they are convinced through
their own investigation and study that it is right for them to
become a Baha'i.

"Baha'is take a middle approach and see the role of religion not
to insist on blind adherence," said Douglas Moore, director of
the Baha'i office of public information.

A central tenet is that people should work to build a global
society which calls for an end to prejudice, full sexual equality
and the eradication of extremes of poverty and wealth.

The Baha'i headquarters are located close to the centre of the
intractable Middle East conflict.

Earlier this year, Haifa became a prime target for rockets fired
by Hezbollah guerrillas in southern Lebanon, some falling close
to the lush Baha'i gardens and its holy sites.

"During the war, I felt I would rather be here than anywhere
else," said Anja Nicke, a 33-year-old volunteer from Germany. "It
was very comforting to pray at the holy shrines."


Believers regard the faith's founder, Baha'u'llah, as the latest
in a line of prophets including Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Jesus and

His shrine near the Israeli coastal city of Acre is considered
the religion's holiest site and a focal point for pilgrims.

Baha'u'llah, Arabic for the "glory of God", and his followers
were exiled to Acre after being banished from his native Persia,
now Iran, for his beliefs.

Haifa's skyline is dominated by another Baha'i site -- the bronze
dome above the tomb of the Bab, a Persian merchant considered by
the Baha'is to be the forerunner to Baha'u'llah. Baha'u'llah was
a disciple of the Bab.

The Bab, Arabic for "gate", was publicly executed in 19th-century
Persia for what were considered heretical beliefs.

Despite a commanding architectural presence in Haifa, the small
cluster of Baha'is keep to themselves in the mixed city of Jews
and Arabs.

"They have contributed to the beauty of the city," said
63-year-old Haifa resident Daniel Kaufman. "But they are non-
committal in terms of being part of life here."


Baha'is say they still face persecution and discrimination in
much of the largely Muslim Middle East.

"They are developing well in the West," said Moshe Sharon, a
professor with Jerusalem's Hebrew University. "But it is a
question of survival for the Baha'is in the Middle East."

Baha'is estimate 300,000 followers live in Iran, where their
beliefs are considered heresy by the country's religious leaders.

Baha'is and human rights groups say hundreds of their faith have
been jailed and executed since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The
government denies it has detained or executed people for their faith.

Baha'is say they also suffer discrimination in Egypt, where there
is a 2,000-strong community.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, accused by opponents of
being a Baha'i, was quick to make a denial and affirm his Muslim

While Baha'u'llah instructed followers not to establish a
permanent community in the Holy Land, 700 volunteers from around
the world work as custodians at its shrines.

Haifa is also home to the Baha'i "Universal House of Justice",
the faith's global governing council.

"We have an outlook for the future which is brighter and we are
working for the community of mankind," said volunteer Alfester
Crim Jr., a Vietnam war veteran from Illinois who heads security
for the Baha'is in Haifa.

Crim, 56, became a Baha'i while he was a U.S. state trooper.

"All the proofs and my logic used as a state police officer
showed me it was the only correct thing to do," he said.

Because space is limited at Baha'i holy sites, a maximum of 500
people at one time are allowed to take part in pilgrimages to
Haifa. They have to wait up to six years to come and are only
allowed to visit again after another five-year wait.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors. Originally posted at Please do link to these articles, quote from them and forward them by email to friends with this notice. Other uses require written permission of the author.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Subscribe to
email newsletter for this site and others

Powered by

Feedblitz subcription
To this Blog only

You can receive our articles by e-mail. For a free subscription, please enter your e-mail address:

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Web Logs & Sites

This Site

Zionism & Israel
Zionation Web Log
IMO Web Log (Dutch)

ZI Group
Zionism-Israel Pages
Israël-Palestina.Info (Dutch & English)
Israƫl in de Media
MidEastWeb Middle East News and Views
MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log

Brave Zionism
Israel: Like this, as if
Israel & Palestijnen Nieuws Blog

Friends and Partners
EinNews Israel
Israel Facts
Israel Proud Adam Holland
Middle East Analysis
Irene Lancaster's Diary
Middle East Analysis
Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Israel Facts (NL)
Cynthia's Israel Adventure
Jeff Weintraub Commentaries and controversies
Meretz USA Weblog
Pro-Israel Bay Bloggers
Simply Jews
Fresno Zionism
Anti-Racist Blog
Sharona's Week
Z-Word Blog
Jewish State
Take A Pen - Israel Advocacy
Zionism on the Web
ZOTW's Zionism and Israel News
Zionism On The Web News
ZOTW's Blogs
Christian Attitudes
Dr Ginosar Recalls
Questions: Zionism anti-Zionism Israel & Palestine
Southern Wolf
Peace With Realism
Sanda's Place
Liberal for Israel
Realistic Dove
Blue Truth
Point of no Return
Christians Standing With Israel
Christians Standing With Israel - Blog

Encylopedic Dictionary of Zionism and Israel
Middle East Encyclopedia
Zionism and its Impact
Zionism & the creation of Israel
Zionism - Issues & answers
Maps of Israel
Christian Zionism Resources
Christian Zionism
Albert Einstein
Gaza & the Qassam Victims of Sderot
Zionist Quotes
Six Day War
Jew Hatred
Learn Hebrew
Arab-Israeli Conflict
International Zionism

Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
Israel Boycott
Boycott Israel?
Amnesty International Report on Gaza War
Boycott Israel?
Dutch Newspaper Reporting: A Study of NRC Handelsblad
Hamas (Dutch)
Dries van Agt (Dutch)
Isfake lobby

At Zionism On the Web
Articles on Zionism
Anti-Zionism Information Center
Academic boycott of Israel Resource Center
The anti-Israel Hackers
Antisemitism Information Center
Zionism Israel and Apartheid
Middle East, Peace and War
The Palestine state
ZOTW Expert Search
ZOTW Forum

Judaica & Israel Gifts
Jewish Gifts: Judaica:
Ahava Products

Powered by Blogger

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]

RSS V 1.0

International Affairs Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory