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Promised One (mawʿūd) or Imaginary One (mawhūm)? Some Notes on Twelver Shīʿī Mahdī Doctrine and its Discussion in Writings of Bahāʾ Allāh

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Chapter Summary

Although the Bah āʾī Faith is generally referred to as an independent religion, its relationship with Islam is complex. This chapter is restricted to one particular topic, that is, Bah āʾ Allāh's view on one of the most central features of Twelver Shīʿī theology, namely belief in the physical existence of a Twelfth Imām who has gone into occultation and who will rise one day as the Mahdī. The chapter then draws conclusions on how Bahāʾ Allāh viewed the Faith he was born into, that is, Twelver-Shīʿism. It also sheds new light on the question of whether the Bahāʾī Faith can be adequately described as a "Mahdist" movement, and if so, in what sense and to what extent the new religion deviates from its "predecessor", that is, Twelver Shīʿism. Quite notably, Bah āʾ Allāh declared all earlier prophecies "fulfilled", and did not raise new expectations.

Keywords: Bahāʾ Allāh; Islam; Mahdist movement; Twelver Shīʿī



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