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"The magic touch of progress": 'Abdu'l-Bahá on Social Transformation

Mar 27, 2021

Further Reading Suggested by Presenter

1. Ottoman Reform Movements and the Baha’i Faith, 1860s-1920s

2. Midhat Pasha and ‘Abdu’l-Baha in ‘Akka

3. “The Young Turks and the Baha’is in Palestine”

4. Filistin’de Jön Türkler ve Bahailer


Based on The Secret of Divine Civilization, his Treatise on Politics (Risalih-yi Siyasiyyih) and unpublished letters of ‛Abdu’l-Bahá written in Ottoman Turkish, this talk discusses the contributions of ‛Abdu’l-Bahá to the reform discourse in Iran and the Ottoman Empire. His discourse will be dealt within the framework of Bahá’u’lláh’s own claim as “World Reformer” which He expounds in various Writings, especially those revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas.

All this Bahá’í perspective will be presented against the historical background of the development of reforms in the Ottoman Empire and Iran where generations of forward looking intellectuals and statesmen have discussed and applied their progressive ideas for the betterment and transformation of society. Within this context especially the relationship between ‛Abdu’l-Bahá and Ottoman reformers and His attempt to infuse Bahá’í thoughts into the Ottoman and Iranian reform movement shall be described.


The seven-week online course “The Secret of Divine Civilization and Ottoman Reform,” with faculty Necati Alkan, starts April 1.

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Necati Alkan, PhD

Research Associate, University of Bamberg

I have been fascinated with Bahá’í Studies, especially history, since my youth. Studying Islamic Studies and History, then, at the university, opened new vistas for me. By learning Arabic, Persian and in particular Ottoman Turkish, beside my native Turkish and almost native (education) language German and English, I felt equipped to delve into Bahá’í Studies. I have been publishing since 2001 about various topics but I consider as my main and pathbreaking achievement my MA Thesis about the relationship of the Bahá’í Faith to Islamic reform movements in the 19th century (1998) and in a more deepened and extended fashion my PhD Thesis (2004) about the Bábís and Bahá’ís in the Ottoman Empire and Turkey, 1844-1920s. The latter was published in 2008 revised and with the title “Dissent and Heterodoxy in the late Ottoman Empire: Reformers, Babis and Bahá’ís” (ISIS Press: Istanbul, 2008). I regard my postgraduate research up to my current research as crucial because the genesis of the Bábí and Bahá’í Religions in the Ottoman context had been rather not researched. See Necati on Academia.eduSee Faculty Bio

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