Human Being in the Writings of the Báb

Reconstruction of the Concept of the Human Being in the Writings of the Báb Nader Saiedi

In discussing the perspective of the heart, we noted that the Báb defines religion as the product of a dialogue between humanity and God. This central concept already emphasizes the high station and nobility of the human being in the writings of the Báb. That is also why the concept of the covenant is so central in the writings of the Báb. A covenant is an agreement between two minds. The very fact that religion is a covenant between God and humanity means that humans appear as the images of God, as beings who are rational, spiritual, and capable of free and independent thinking. This is exactly what we find in the writings of the Báb. 1. Human Identity The concept of identity refers to the truth of human beings. In pre-modern times, the identity of people was reduced to their biological and social characteristics. Consequently, identity was defined in terms of what separated people from each other. Humans were not humans, rather they were male or female, slave or free, black or white, believer or infidel, friend or stranger, ally or enemy. The result was a hierarchical system of oppression. Then came modernity, and it talked of the equality of all human beings as rational beings. Modernity rejected religion and spiritual ideas, and reduced the human being to simply a material entity. We were just another animal, without any qualitative difference between animals and humans. This perspective wanted to save the human being, but by reducing humans to the level of jungle, the result of this new worldview was the opposite of its intention. It created a world of militarism, consumerism, destruction of the environment, wars, genocides, racism, colonialism, and imperialism. As a reaction to the failed promise of modern rationalism, we have now moved to a postmodern definition of identity. Now in fact we no longer believe in any concept of the human being. Instead, there are only biological and social categories. The identity of people is nothing but their group characteristic. We are either male or female, black or white, Muslim or Christian, Japanese or Egyptian, rich or poor, Persian speaking or English speaking, but we have nothing in common. Although the intention of the postmodern view is good, its conclusion is the same as the pre-modern ideology. Since we have nothing in common, there is nothing universally good or bad. Therefore, the only criterion of truth and value becomes one’s own culture and tradition. Therefore, return to one’s tradition becomes the only criterion of ethics and justice. That is why in postmodern ideology you can never criticize other cultures. If one criticizes the tyranny of the religious fanatics or oppression of women in another country, the Western intellectuals, instead of fighting for justice and equality, support the status quo in other cultures. The problem with all these definitions of identity is that they define human identity in terms of what separates us from each other. The result is that humans are perceived to be either strangers or enemies of each other. It is here that the worldview of the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh offer an entirely different perspective. For the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh, humans are spiritual beings, and therefore their identity is defined as the unity of all human beings. In the writings of the Báb, He argues that the human being is like a mirror. This mirror consists of two aspects. One aspect is the characteristics of the glass of the mirror. Some mirrors are circular. Some are triangular. Some are red, and some are white. In other words, our glasses are different from each other. The world so far has defined the identity of humans in terms of the different characteristics of our glasses. But the Báb says that the true identity of humans as a mirror is not in the characteristics of our glass, but rather it is in the image of God that is reflected in

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