Vindicating the mission of the Persian reformer known as the Báb (d. 1850) Bahá’u’lláh’s Book of Certitude (1862) focused on spiritual authority from an Islamic perspective. In this work, a subtext may be discerned, in which Bahá’u’lláh intimates his own mission in the same terms of reference. Later, in his epistles to the monarchs of Europe and West Asia (1866–1869), Bahá’u’lláh exercised that authority and spoke of world reform. This article places Bahá’u’lláh in the context of Islamic reform, with particular reference to the advocacy of constitutional democracy by prominent Iranian secularists. In an ideological ether pervaded by “Westoxication,” Bahá’u’lláh sought to reverse the direction of Western influence. Bahá’u’lláh prosecuted his own reforms in three stages: Bábí reform; Persian reform; and world reform. In the centrifugal sequence, Bahá’u’lláh is shown to have bypassed Islamic reform altogether in his professed role as “World Reformer.”
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Copyright © 1991 Christopher Buck