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May 24, 2019

Rúmí and the Bahá’í Faith

Mark Keedwell is a man on a mission. As he himself states, he is determined to fill in the blanks in progressive revelation and has put his considerable knowledge of world religions and philosophy towards educating people about the interconnectedness of all the major faiths with an emphasis on the connection between Islám and the Bahá'í Faith.



Progressive revelation is a core tenet in the Bahá'í Faith that states that a series of divine Messengers (such as Abraham, Zoroaster, Krishna, Christ and Muhammad) will continue to appear throughout human history with teachings that are tailored to suit the needs of the time. The purpose is not only to help humanity build an ever-advancing civilization, but to help it recognize its essential spiritual reality and the source from which it comes.

Born in Ottawa in 1954 to parents who became Bahá’ís in 1957, Mark officially became a Bahá’í himself in 1971. His fascination with world religions and mysticism led him to receiving a BA in Religious Studies from Carleton University in 1978 and then a Master’s in Comparative Religion from the University of Toronto in 1980, which focused on comparing the concept of prophets in Islám and manifestations of God in the Bahá’í Faith.



Mark then lived in Orillia, St. Thomas and the Yukon, later moving to Vancouver to pursue a teaching certificate at the University of British Columbia. This path led him to become an adult educator at Yukon College, CDI and finally, Algonquin College in Ottawa, where he also designed and taught an online world religion course. He officially retired in June 2018.

His talks and courses have enlightened and stimulated both Bahá’ís and others over some 20 years. Beginning in September 2018, Mark offered a two-part course titled Rúmí and the Bahá’í Faith. The fall session focused on Rúmí’s life and mystical poetry, while the 2019 winter session focused on Bahá’u’lláh’s use of Rúmí’s poetry in His own two mystical treatises on the journey of the soul, The Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys.

Rúmí (1207-1273) is currently the most famous mystical poet in the world whose poetry has unfortunately been secularized in western society, often being reduced to paeans of more human rather than divine love. This course not only honoured Rúmí’s Islamic roots; it also provided an important foundation for understanding Bahá’u’lláh’s use of Rúmí’s poetry, as he states in the introduction to his course, “to help us discern the contours of a mysticism pruned back and revitalized by a Manifestation of God.”

Mark Keedwell intends to offer yet another course this coming fall and winter, though he is not yet ready to say what it will be. For those of us who so enjoyed the course on Rúmí and Bahá’u’lláh, and for any others who would like to attend his always thought-provoking courses, it will be worth the wait.


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