Baha'i Faith and Slavery

Wednesday, 27 December 2017 10:35 Written by  font size decrease font size decrease font size increase font size increase font size

Both the Báb and Baha’u’llah owned slaves of African descent, and Baha’u’llah continued to do so until slavery was outlawed by the Ottoman civil authorities. 

In September 2016, I created a Wikipedia article titled "Baha’i Faith and slavery". The page quickly became contentious, and a target of true-believer editors. 


For example, one of the editors repeatedly deleted the "Partial list of slaves" section. The original initial introductory statement, "Both the Báb and Baha’u’llah owned slaves of African descent" eventually became "Baha’u’llah formally abolished the practice of slavery among Baha’is in the Kitab-i-Aqdas (ca. 1873)." In point of fact, the Aqdas clearly states, "It is forbidden you to trade in slaves" making no mention whatsoever of their ownership. 


The article, as it stands now, is pure apologia, essentially giving excuses as to why the Báb and Baha’u’llah owned slaves and never freed them. 


As an aside, there is also a mention in there of Baha’u’llah’s letter to Queen Victoria, written to her between 1868 and 1872 in which he states, "We have been informed that thou hast forbidden the trading in slaves, both men and women. This, verily, is what God hath enjoined in this wondrous Revelation. God hath, truly, destined a reward for thee, because of this." In fact, the slave trade in the British Empire was abolished by William Wilberforce's Slave Trade Act 1807 while Queen Victoria did not ascend to the throne until 1838. Furthermore, the abolition of the slave trade was an Act of Parliament, to which the reigning monarch King George III (Queen Victoria's grandfather) was constitutionally obligated to give royal assent.




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