Islam and the Baha'i Faith
A Comparative Study of Muhammad ‘Abduh and ‘Abdul-Baha ‘Abbas
Routledge – 2008 – 256 pages
Muhammad ‘Abduh (1849-1905) was one of the key thinkers and reformers of modern Islam who has influenced both liberal and fundamentalist Muslims today. ‘Abdul-Baha (1844-1921) was the son of Baha’ullah (1817-1892), the founder of the Baha’i Faith; a new religion which began as a messianic movement in Shii Islam, before it departed from Islam.
Oliver Scharbrodt offers an innovative and radically new perspective on the lives of these two major religious reformers in 19th century Middle East by placing both figures into unfamiliar terrain. While one would classify ‘Abdul-Baha, leader of a messianic movement which claims to depart from Islam, as an exponent of heresy in Islam, ‘Abduh is perceived as an orthodox Sunni reformer. This book, however, argues against the assumption that both represent two extremely opposite expressions of Islamic religiosity. It shows that both were influenced by similar intellectual and religious traditions of Islam and that both participated in the same discussions on the reform of Islam in the 19th century.
Islam and the Baha'i Faith provides new insights into the Islamic background of the Baha’i Faith and into ‘Abduh’s own association with so-called heretical movements in Islam.
"Oliver Scharbrodt provides a striking exception to this history of disinterest and neglect. He does not just take a second look at the two movements; he places them ?rmly within the history of modern Islamic reform. The result is a compelling achievement that opens up new avenues for research in both areas and for the re-examination of matters chronologically prior to and after the two men whose careers form the basis for the present work. Scharbrodt’s own research is just what a study like this demands: detailed, wide-ranging, and careful."
- Denis MacEoin in Religion 40 (2010), pp. 72-73
1. Introduction 2. The Formative Years: Mysticism and Millenarianism 3. Into Modernity 4. Succession and Renewal 5. Charisma Routinized 6. Creating Orthodoxy: The View of Posterity Epilogue Bibliography
Oliver Scharbrodt is Lecturer in the Study of Religions at University College Cork, Ireland. His research interests lie in the study of modern Islam and of Iranian Shiism and Sufism.