Leo Tolstoy was one of the greatest of all novelists. His essays on religion and educational reform made him an influential and controversial figure in Russian history.  

“I have known about the Bábís for a long time, and have always been interested in their teachings. It seems to me that these teachings, as well as all the rationalistic social religious teachings that have arisen lately out of the original teachings of Brahmanism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam distorted by the priests, have a great future for this very reason that these teachings, discarding all these distorting incrustations that cause division, aspire to unite into one common religion of all mankind.

Therefore, the teachings of the Bábís, inasmuch as they have rejected the old Muhammadan superstitions and have not established new superstitions which would divide them from other new superstitions (unfortunately something of the kind is noticed in the exposition of the Teachings of the Báb), and inasmuch as they keep to the principal fundamental ideas of brotherhood, equality and love, have a great future before them.

In the Muhammadan religion there has been lately going on an intensive spiritual movement. I know that one such movement is centered in the French colonies in Africa, and has its name (I do not remember it), and its prophet. Another movement exists in India, Lahore, and also has its prophet and publishes its paper “Review of Religions.”

Both these religious teachings contain nothing new, neither do they have for their principal object a changing of the outlook of the people and thus do not change the relationship between the people, as is the case with Babiism, though not so much in its theory (Teachings of the Báb) as in the practice of life as far as I know it. I therefore sympathize with Babiism with all my heart inasmuch as it teaches people brotherhood and equality and sacrifice of material life for service to God.”

“In answer to your letter which questions how one should understand the term God. I send you a collection of writings from my literary and reading club, in which some thoughts upon the nature of God are included. In my opinion if we were to free ourselves from all false conception of God we should, whether as Christians or Muhammadans, free ourselves entirely from picturing God as a personality. The conception which then seems to me to be the best for meeting the requirements of reason and heart is found in 4th chap. St. John, 7-12-15 that means God is love. It therefore follows that God lives in us according to the measure or capacity of each soul to express His nature. This thought is implicit more or less clearly in all religions, and therefore in Muhammadanism.

Concerning your second question upon what awaits us after death I can only reply that on dying we return to God from whose Life we came. God, however, being Love we can on going over expect God only.

Concerning your third question, I answer that so far as I understand Islam, like all other religions Brahmanism, Buddhism, Confucianism, etc., it contains great basic truths but that these have become corrupted by superstitions, and coarse interpretations and filled with unnecessary legendic descriptions. I have had much help in my researches to get clear upon Muhammadanism by a splendid little book “The sayings of Muhammad.”

The teachings of the Bábís which come to us out of Islam have through Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings been gradually developed and now present us with the highest and purest form of religious teaching.”

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