Studies in Modern Religions and Religious Movements and the Babi-Baha'I Faiths

Studies in Modern Religions and Religious Movements and the Babi-Baha'I Faiths

Studies in Modern Religions and Religious Movements and the Babi-Baha'I Faiths

Studies in Modern Religions and Religious Movements and the Babi-Baha'I Faiths

Synopsis

In this book leading scholars contribute comprehensive studies of the religious movements in the late 18th and 19th centuries: the Hassidic movements in Judaism, the Mormon religion, in Christianity, and the B b -Bah faiths in Sh te Islam. The studies, introduced by the editor's analysis of the underlying common source of this religious activity, lead the reader into a rich world of messianism, millenniarism and eschatological thought fueling the intense modern developments in the three major monotheistic religions.

Excerpt

Moshe Sharon

The Nineteenth Century

The student of modern religions and religious movements is confronted with an outstanding phenomenon; the occurrence of intensive religious activity in the late eighteenth century and during the nineteenth century, which was particularly prolific in this regard. Almost throughout the century, one witnesses the birth of one spiritual venture or another, radiating into the subsequent century. This was not limited only to religion, but religion was one of the major features of this spiritual and intellectual eruption, which was not restricted to one country, or one continent, or one school of thought. The Ḥasidut movement in Eastern Europe revolutionized the Jewish world, and brought mystical thought and practice into the midst of everyday life and religious practice. In Sunnī Islam an intellectual movement of revivalism and renewal swept from India and Southeast Asia to North Africa, creating such interesting extremes by meeting the challenge of modernity with Western tools on the one hand, and digging deep into piety in the style of the Wahhābis on the other. As the thirteenth Islamic (hijrah) century drew to an end and the fourteenth century began (toward the end of 1882), messianic expectations exploded in the form of messianic-mahdist movements, the most famous of which was the appearance of the Mahdī in the Sudan, Muḥammad Aḥmad b. ʿAbdallāh (1843–1885). (EI s.v. cf. Holt 1958: 90–92)

In Shīʿī Islam, the messianic expectations assumed an even more millennial character. In the year 1260 of the Hijrah (1844), one thousand years after the disappearance of the Hidden Imām, (260/873–74) these expectations seemed to have reached an intensive phase, following which we witness the birth of two new religions: the Bābī and then the Bahāʾī Faiths.

On the other side of the ocean, in America, in a different world of thought, the messianic expectations of the eschatological Adventist . . .

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