This talk presents the content and context of my paper, “Bahá’u’lláh and the God of Avicenna,” published in vol. 31 no. 3 of The Journal of Bahá’í Studies. The paper argues that Bahá’u’lláh affirms the metaphysical principles underlying an argument for the existence of God developed by Avicenna (980-1037), the preeminent philosopher of Islam, and suggests that Avicennian metaphysics illuminates the philosophic content, and logical rigor, of Bahá’í theology.
- Why is it important to understand philosophical ideas developed by eminent thinkers in previous religious dispensations?
- How does understanding the rational foundations of Avicenna’s argument for God’s existence help one appreciate the rational structure of Bahá’í belief?
- Why is it important to have a philosophical understanding of Bahá’í theology in a secular age, in which reason and science are so often triumphed over faith?
- What does it mean to suggest that Bahá’u’lláh affirms certain philosophical ideas, as opposed from deriving His teaching from them?
- How does a rational belief in God harmonize with devotional and community life? How does it integrate with teaching the Faith and engaging in core activities?
Joshua Hall is a student at the University of Montana, majoring in Near Eastern studies and English literature, with minors in Arabic and philosophy. His chief scholarly interests include Islamic philosophy, classical theism, and Persian literature, and their relation to the academic study of the Bahá’í Faith. He has produced several provisional translations of Bahá’u’lláh’s Arabic and Persian writings, including the Tablet of the City of Divine Unity and a compilation of previously untranslated prayers and supplications, in addition to verse translations of classical Persian poetry.
The views expressed in this recording are those of the presenter and do not necessarily represent the views of the Association for Bahá’í Studies, nor the authoritative explications of Bahá’í writings.