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
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.