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The Sabean Religion
One Bahá'í's Concept from
The Book of Revelation

Chapter Two


Here Bahá'u'lláh addresses the first and most ancient of the Seven Churches (Religions) and He approves (commends) it for what it has attained - and condemns those things in which they have fallen short. For each of the seven religions, in turn, He will repeat this pattern of commending (praising) some aspect of the religion, condemning some other aspect of the religion, concluding with a threat or promise and a refrain.

    "As to the religion of the Sabeans very little is known about the origins of this religion, though we Bahá'ís are certain of one thing that the founder of it has been a Divinely-sent Messenger. The country where Sabeanism became widespread and flourished was Chaldea, and Abraham is considered as having been a follower of that Faith."
    (From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian
    to an individual believer,
    November 10, 1939)
    (Lights of Guidance,
    p. 502)
Indeed, among the Sabeans, Abraham is considered to be the founder of their faith.
    Amongst the great prophets was His Holiness Abraham who, being an iconoclast and a herald of the oneness of God, was banished by the people from his native land.
    Bahá'í Scriptures,
    p. 388)
The Sabean Religion

There still remains a group of the loyal followers of the Sabean Religion near Baghdád in Iraq. Although they feel that their numbers are dwindling since they do not permit conversions to their religion and one must be born into it. They have about 80,000 members in Iraq and another group of 15,000 in southern Iran, and some very small numbers in the US and elsewhere. They fit in with the Islámic world by adopting the Islámic customs and Arab language, and they are accepted by the Iraqi people.

The Sabean book is called Kanza Rama, which is said to transmit the sayings of the ancient Prophets of Seth, Abraham and others lost to time. The group in Iraq call themselves 'Mandaean Sabeans' and they have adopted the teachings regarding baptism from John the Baptist, the forerunner of the Christian religion, in which they see baptism in playing a major role in purifying the soul.

It is interesting that the Bible does not identify John the Baptist as being Jewish but says that he followed what we identify with many ancient Sabean practices in his living close to nature in the wild. Some also feel that he should be identified with the Essene sect and the first chapter of the Gospel of St. Luke has the lengthy account of John's birth to the Priest Zacharias and Elisabeth, a cousin of the Virgin Mary. It is difficult to tell how much of the original teachings of Sabeans remain because the religion is ancient and has now interacted with so many other religions.

The Native Religions

One thesis of this book is that the Sabean religion is the foundation or First Religion to the First Peoples (the Native Peoples) throughout the world and particularly in regards to the Indians of North America. While references to water, a central factor in the Sabean religion, are prominent in regards to the third religion (in the order of the seven religions being discussed here), acceptance of the Sabean Religion as having been the first of the present day religions has been the practice of other Bahá'í writers such as Hand of the Cause William Sears (Release the Sun, p. 231) and is our practice in this book.

    "It is possible the Indians of the Americas were influenced in the remote past by Prophets in Asia. But again, as there is nothing in our teachings about it we cannot do more than speculate."
    (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi
    to an individual believer, November 25, 1950)
    (Lights of Guidance, #1576)
Further, there is reason to believe from the Book of Genesis in the Bible that all the present religions are descended from Abraham because it repeatedly says that all the nations of the earth shall be blessed of Him:
    12:1 Now the LORD had said unto Abram.
    12:3 in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

    18:18 .Abraham .all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him.

    22:15 And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven.
    22:18 .in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.

    26:4 And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed;

The role and importance of the Native Peoples and their spiritual teachings is a prominent theme in the Bahá'í Faith.
    "The original population of the United States was very dear to 'Abdu'l-Bahá's heart, and He foretold for the Indians a great future if they accepted and became enlightened by the Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh.

    "To believe in the Mouthpiece of God in His Day confers very great blessings, not only on individuals, but on races, and He hopes that you who are now numbered amongst the followers of Bahá'u'lláh will give His Message to many more of your tribe, and in this way hasten for your people a bright and happy future."

    (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi
    to an individual believer,
    December 21, 1947)
    (Lights of Guidance,
    p. 530)
    "If the light of Divine Guidance enters properly into the lives of the Indians, it will be found that they will arise with a great power and will become an example of spirituality and culture to all of the people in these countries.
    (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi
    to the National Spiritual Assembly of Central America and Mexico,
    August 22, 1957)
    (Lights of Guidance,
    p. 599)
The contributions to science and mankind's intellectual accomplisments by each of the past religions has been very great and this applies no less to the Sabean Religion.
    Every one of the eminent divines both studies and teaches the science of logic, although they consider its founder to have been a Sabean. Most of them have insisted that if a scholar has thoroughly mastered a variety of sciences but is not well grounded in logic, his opinions, deductions and conclusions cannot safely be relied upon.
    The Secret of Divine Civilization,
    p. 31)



4000 to 5000 B.C.

(according to current adherents of the Sabean religion)

Bible Verses

[1] Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;

One Bahá'í's Concept

Ephesus - Sabean - Commentary

V.1 John is told to write to the angel of the church of Ephesus. Ephesus is the name of one of the towns in Turkey where John had been teaching the Christian Faith. Most realize that the ruins are no longer significant as a church, however the name is significant, as the meaning of the word is 'Pale'. Since this is a Christian book, many would like to attribute 'Pale' to a Christian congregation, however it also relates to one of the religions of the world. This is the attribute that describes the Sabean Religion, believed to have existed since 5000 B.C. It is the oldest religion of the seven. The people who continue to refer to themselves as Sabeans, in Iraq and Iran, believe that Abraham was a founder of their religion and that John the Baptist was a Sabean.

Bahá'u'lláh, God's Manifestation for this day, is the one holding the seven stars in His right hand. The stars symbolize the seven Revealers, or Prophets that God sent to the world to guide the people of the world, and the candlesticks symbolize the world religions, thus bringing them together in unity. He is the 'Trumpet' the great voice speaking to us through 'His' writings: 'His' Pen, Bahá'u'lláh says, is God's Pen.

[2] I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:

V.2 He Commends:

The Sabean Religion is an archetype for all the very ancient Native Religions throughout the world although it may be speculative that it is their actual source. These religions feel a particular attachment to nature and patience and attachment to truth is a particular hallmark about them.

For many long centuries the followers of the Native Religions have sought the Great Spirit. Many religious teachers have come to them claiming to be spiritual leaders (apostles) but the Natives have found them not to have the true spirit.

[3] And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.

    "It is a great mistake to believe that because people are illiterate or live primitive lives, they are lacking in either intelligence or sensibility. On the contrary, they may well look on us with the evils of our civilization, with its moral corruption, its ruinous wars, its hypocrisy and conceit, as people who merit watching with both suspicion and contempt. We should meet them as equals, well-wishers, people who admire and respect their ancient decent, and who feel that they will be interested as we are in a living religion and not in the dead forms of present-day churches.
    (From letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi
    to the Comite Nacional de Ensenanza Bahá'í para los Indigenas de Sur America,
    September 21, 1951)
    (Lights of Guidance,
    p. 523)

[4] Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

V.4 He Condemns:

Like all religions, the Native religions have let dogma, superstition and vain imaginings creep into their original spiritual teachings.

[5] Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

V.5 He is asking them to consider where they have erred, and to return to the spirit of their original teachings.

The Threat:

The threat is that He will remove their religion entirely, if they don't heed His warning.

[6] But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

V.6 He commends that they hate the wrong doing of the Nicolatians, a group of people who are a symbol for those who arise actively against religion. In truth and point of fact there are few Native People anywhere in the world who are atheists.

[7] He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

V.7 The Refrain:

"He that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches:" The hope is that they will acquire a perceptive eye, and a hearing ear, so that the veils will be removed and they will understand the message that Bahá'u'lláh brings.

The Promise:

The promise is "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God." Meaning that they will recognize the Manifestation of God, which is the "Tree of Life".

Chapter Six
Bible Verses

[1] And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see.

One Bahá'í's Concept

V.1 John saw the Báb open one of the seals, and he heard the noise of thunder brought on by the Great Message the Báb has to offer. We recognize the Lamb as being the Báb because He is the Return of Christ (which is identified by Christians as being the Lamb). All the Manifestations of God are the One and the Same. The First and Last. The Only. Even as Bahá'u'lláh said:

    XLVII. If ye be intent on crucifying once again Jesus, the Spirit of God, put Me to death, for He hath once more, in My person, been made manifest unto you.
    Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh)
He opens the first seal and the 'first beast' says "come and see". The "beasts" as pointed out in Chapter Four, are rulers that will become champions of His Cause.

The first seal, though associated with the Sabean Religion, it being the oldest religion and most anciently widespread among the native peoples of the earth, is universal in its application.

[2] And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.

V.2 John saw a white horse; this is a symbol of the teaching work by all the religions of the world, as going forth to conquer. Though this horse is white, a sign of pure source, its rider's crown is not golden, which indicates that at 'the Time of the End' the religious teachers are not divinely inspired. The rider has a bow but not an arrow, which indicates that the teachings, because of man-made doctrine and ideologies, are no longer effective and are not reaching the hearts of mankind. The teaching work is not bringing the love and human kindness, honesty and spirituality towards all, as God demands. This is quite evident when we look at our world to-day.

Chapter Eight
[7] The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.

V.7 The first angel sounded:

This first angel is the Angel of the Sabean Religion which, going by the order here, was the first and most ancient of the Seven Religions. The Sabean religion, being so very ancient, and having often been supplanted by other religions is no longer very prominent in the world as an organized religion and has only this one verse dedicated to it.

The mentioning of 'hail and fire mixed with blood' and being cast to the earth and a third part of the trees and all the grass being burnt up may yet have external implications, both in regards to environmental issues and catastrophic events to come, but the internal spiritual ones are key.

Trees and greenery are symbolic of spiritual powers (such as the tree of 'knowledge' and the tree of 'life' in the Garden of Eden), however, over-time these spiritual powers and teachings have lost their heavenly vitality and have become earthly 'been cast to earth' and have become spiritually destructive to a 'third of mankind'. The grass is indicative of the general followers of the religion and the one third portion also appears in the following verses regarding other religions and this shows that a large part of the whole of mankind is in spiritual darkness.

    From the seed of reality, religion has grown into a tree which has put forth leaves and branches, blossoms and fruit. After a time this tree has fallen into a condition of decay. The leaves and blossoms have withered and perished; the tree has become stricken and fruitless. It is not reasonable that man should hold to the old tree, claiming that its life forces are undiminished, its fruit unequalled, its existence eternal. The seed of reality must be sown again in human hearts in order that a new tree may grow therefrom and new divine fruits refresh the world.
    Bahá'í World Faith,
    p. 226)

Chapter Fourteen
[6] And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,

V.6 John saw another Angel in the midst of heaven which includes all the people of the world. We relate this to the Sabean Faith which is the Ancient Faith which has touched the hearts of native mankind in every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, throughout the world from the First Nations and Inuit of Canada, and the early peoples of South America and Africa and throughout all the islands of the seas everywhere throughout the world.

All the religions of the world have been waiting for this glorious day. All the world knows of it's coming and are eagerly waiting, expecting their own Revealer to appear. God works in ways that we are not expecting. A beautiful example of this idea is found in the Book of Mormon.

    NE2 29:8 Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also.

    NE2 29:9 And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever.

    NE2 29:10 Wherefore, because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written.

    NE2 29:11 For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them; for out of the books which shall be written I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written.

    NE2 29:12 For behold, I shall speak unto the Jews and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the Nephites and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the other tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto all nations of the earth and they shall write it.

    NE2 29:13 And it shall come to pass that the Jews shall have the words of the Nephites, and the Nephites shall have the words of the Jews; and the Nephites and the Jews shall have the words of the lost tribes of Israel; and the lost tribes of Israel shall have the words of the Nephites and the Jews.

    NE2 29:14 And it shall come to pass that my people, which are of the house of Israel, shall be gathered home unto the lands of their possessions; and my word also shall be gathered in one. And I will show unto them that fight against my word and against my people, who are of the house of Israel, that I am God, and that I covenanted with Abraham that I would remember his seed forever.

[7] Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.

V.7 The Angel is telling us to Fear God, and to give Him Glory. He reminds us that God is all-powerful, that He created the earth, and also the waters, which is the symbol for All Knowledge and He also says that it is now the hour of His judgment.
    Verily I say whatsoever ye have concealed within your hearts is to Us open and manifest as the day.
    Persian Hidden Words no. 60)

Chapter Sixteen
[2] And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image.

V.2 We identify the First Angel with the Sabean Faith and Native religions spread throughout the world. The first vial poured upon the earth are the tyrannical leaders that hold sway over humankind. The 'mark of the beast' is their character.
    "The first angel is a power who will give forth wonderful signs. The first vial really means influence. Through that influence some who were apparently good, but inwardly bad, were destroyed; they were deprived of the light. These people in their characters were really like animals; the 'mark' here signifies character."
    Governments and peoples of both the developed and developing nations, and other human institutions, secular and religious, finding themselves helpless to reverse the trend of the catastrophic events of the day, stand bewildered and overpowered by the magnitude and complexity of the problems facing them.
    (The Universal House of Justice,
    Messages from the Universal House of Justice
    p. 33-34)

Chapter Seventeen
[1] And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters:

One Bahá'í's Concept

V.1 One of the seven angels that had the vials came to talk to John. This is again a start of a series of the Seven Angels speaking and this being the first would again be identified with the Sabean religion although each one is an archetype for all the religions.

The Angel shows John why the judgment was made against the great whore. (The great whore, identified here as changing the Law of God, has been differently identified by various theologians as some religious institution to which they were opposed).

The major concept here is that the great whore is the changed religion or Law of God from the spiritual teachings of love and tolerance, to those of dogmatism and hatred, that has happened around the world. The explanation is given here by the First Angel because the root problem of prejudice is associated with all the religions of the world and with all mankind.

Chapter Eight Appendix
'The Three Woes'

Because the Book of Revelation is written in archetypes there are many simultaneous meanings to the verses and therefore many simultaneous correct interpretations. It is also quite possible to wrongly interpret what is meant.

    None apprehendeth the meaning of these utterances except them whose hearts are assured, whose souls have found favour with God, and whose minds are detached from all else but Him. In such utterances, the literal meaning, as generally understood by the people, is not what hath been intended. Thus it is recorded: "Every knowledge hath seventy meanings, of which one only is known amongst the people. And when the Qá'im shall arise, He shall reveal unto men all that which remaineth." He also saith: "We speak one word, and by it we intend one and seventy meanings; each one of these meanings we can explain."
    The Kitáb-i-Íqán,
    p. 255)
The Three Woes as Three World Wars

There are those who see the three woes as applying to three world wars, and still others as to three burdens to mankind. The following is an abstract from a Native Prophecy of the Hopi Indians that can be seen as having relevance to both the Four Winds of the Euphrates and the Three Woes.

      At the beginning of this cycle of time, long ago, the Great Spirit came down and He made an appearance and He gathered the peoples of this earth together and He said to the human beings, "I'm going to send you to four directions and over time I'm going to change you to four colors."

      .To the Indian people, the red people, he gave the Guardianship of the earth.

      .To the South, he gave the yellow race of people the Guardianship of the wind.

      .To the West He gave the black race of people the Guardianship of the water.

      .To the North He gave the white race of people the Guardianship of the fire.

      .And on this black ribbon there would move a bug. And when you begin to see this bug moving on the land, that was the sign for the First Shaking of the Earth. The First Shaking of the Earth would be so violent that this bug would be shaken off the earth into the air and it would begin to move and fly in the air. And by the end of this shaking this bug will be in the air around the world.

      In 1908 the Model-T Ford was mass produced for the first time. So the elders knew the First Shaking of the Earth was about to come about- that was the First World War. In the First World War the airplane came into wide usage for the first time. That was that bug moving into the sky. And so they knew something very important would happen. There would be an attempt to make peace on earth on the west coast of this land and so the elders began to watch for this. They began to hear that there was going to be a League of Nations in San Francisco so the elders gathered in Arizona around 1920 or so and they wrote a letter to Woodrow Wilson. They asked if the Indian people could be included in the League of Nations. At that time the United States Supreme Court had held that a reservation is a separate and semi-sovereign nation, not a part of the United States but protected by it. This became a concern because people didn't want the reservations to become more and more separate. They didn't want them to be considered nations. So they did not write back and the Native people were left out of the League of Nations, so that circle was incomplete.

      .So the elders said when you see the sun rising in the east and you see the sign of life reversed and tilted in the east, you know that the Great Death is to come upon the earth, and now the Great Spirit will grab the earth again in His hand and shake it and this shaking will be worse than the first. So the sign of life reversed and tilted, we call that the Swastika, and the rising sun in the east was the rising sun of Japan. These two symbols are carved in stone in Arizona. When the elders saw these two flags, these were the signs that the earth was to be shaken again. The worse misuse of the Guardianship of the fire is called the "gourd of ashes". They said the gourd of ashes will fall from the air. It will make the people like blades of grass in the prairie fire and things will not grow for many seasons.

      .The elders tried to contact President Roosevelt and ask him not to use the gourd of ashes because it would have a great effect on the earth and eventually cause even greater destruction and a Third Shaking of the Earth, the Third World War. .

      So they knew after the Second Shaking of the Earth when they saw the gourd of ashes fall from the sky then there would be an attempt to make peace on the other side of this land. And because the peace attempt on the west coast had failed, they would build a special house on the east coast of this Turtle Island, and all the nations and peoples of the earth would come to this house and it would be called the House of Mica and it would shine like the mica on the desert shines. So the elders began to see they were building the United Nations made out of glass that reflects like the mica on the desert so they knew this was the House of Mica and all the peoples of the earth should go to it. So they met and talked about this. They said that in the 1920's they had written and they had not been responded to, so they said this time we better go to the front door of the House of Mica because things might get a lot worse.

      .When the United Nations opened they went to the front door of the house of Mica and they said these words: "We represent the indigenous people of North America and we wish to address the nations of the Earth. We're going to give you four days to consider whether or not we will be allowed to speak." They retreated to one of the Six Nations Reserves in New York State. The Six Nations Reserves are keepers of the Great Law of Peace of the prophet that appeared here in North America, Dekanwidah. And this Law of Peace is still recited, it takes four days between sunrise and noon. Each year an Indian, by memory, must recite it about this time of year. Four days later they came back and I believe the nations of the earth heard that the Indians had come to the door. And they voted to let the Indians in. They wanted to hear what they had to say. But the United States is one of five nations of the United Nations with a veto power and still they were concerned because this time the Native sovereignty was even stronger.

      (excerpts from a talk attributed to Lee Brown (Cherokee),
      1986 Continental Indigenous Council,
      Fairbanks, Alaska)
    Likewise, these Indians, should they be educated and guided, there can be no doubt that they will become so illumined as to enlighten the whole world.
    Tablets of the Divine Plan,
    p. 33)
    I hope you will continue in unity and fellowship. How beautiful to see blacks and whites together! I hope, God willing, the day may come when I shall see the red men, the Indians, with you, also Japanese and others. Then there will be white roses, yellow roses, red roses, and a very wonderful rose garden will appear in the world.
    The Promulgation of Universal Peace,
    p. 428)

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