Posted by Sen on February 27, 2011
A Bahai friend asked about Abdu’l-Baha’s reference to America as a “democracy,” in the talk he gave to the Orient-Occident-Unity Conference in Washington on 20 April 1912. In the course of researching it, I found a short prayer by Abdu’l-Baha for East-West unity, which I have translated, and also discovered that a much loved and quoted reference to the future of America, known as the “prayer for America,” is not authentic.
The context of this query was a discussion of whether the United States is a republic, or a democracy. The question appears to depend largely on definitions: if a republic is a state with an elected head of state and a government answerable to the people, and a democracy is a state with a government chosen in free and fair elections, with freedom of speech and protection of individual and minority rights under the rule of law, the United States would appear to aspire to be a democratic republic, at the intersection of these two terms.
Be that as it may, I was asked about the term “American democracy” in the talk Abdu’l-Baha gave at the Orient-Occident-Unity Conference. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Bahai Writings, Political science | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, Bahai Faith, bahai theology, pilgrim's notes, political theology, Shoghi Effendi, Star of the West, بهائی, بهائیت, شوقی افندی, عبدالبهاء | 6 Comments »
Posted by Sen on October 27, 2010
Towards the end of his life, Baha’u'llah wrote a number of works that included numbered lists of his teachings. Abdu’l-Baha also wrote several letters that include such numbered lists of essential teachings. Not surprisingly, Abdu’l-Baha sometimes adopted the same format when speaking to gatherings, however the records of these in English are often unreliable. One of these talks – one for which there are authenticated Persian notes (here), not just notes taken in English, caught my attention because it includes “the separation of religion and politics” as a key principle and also refers to this as “not entering into politics” — a formulation that will be more familiar to Bahais. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Bahai Writings, Church and State, Political science, Theology | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, bahai theology, Church and State, political theology, Religion and Politics, بهائی, بهائیت, عبدالبهاء | 56 Comments »
Posted by Sen on April 4, 2010
This is in response to ‘Pluralist Society is an Unethical Rabble’ on another Bahai blog on WordPress, Owen’s Meanderings. Owen says he is
“increasingly reminded of that famous biblical story about Sodom and Gommorroh,” … the men and women who sit in government seats must take their share of the blame for the inequities within a nation. However increasingly I have realized that the person living in my street is likely to be twice a corrupt as a politician. … There seems to be very few people who have self-regulating ethical decision-making process. .. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Church and State, Community, Ethics and Morality, Individualism, Political science | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, Bahai Faith, multiculturalism, pluralism, pluralist society, political theology, postmodernism, بهائی, بهائیت | 12 Comments »
Posted by Sen on October 29, 2009
[Updated, July 2012: added A Traveller's Narrative]
One of the friends asked:
What do you make of ‘Abdu’l-Baha having written:
“This House of Justice enacteth the laws and the government enforceth them. The legislative body must reinforce the executive, the executive must aid and assist the legislative body so that through the close union and harmony of these two forces, the foundation of fairness and justice may become firm and strong, that all the regions of the world may become even as Paradise itself.” (Will and Testament, 14)
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Bahai Writings, Church and State, Political science | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, Bahai Faith, bahai theology, Church and State, International Tribunal, poltical theology, Secret of Divine Civilization, Sermon on the Art of Governance, Shoghi Effendi, Supreme Tribunal, Tablet to the Hague, Will and Testament, بهائیت, شوقی افندی, عبدالبهاء | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Sen on January 30, 2009
One of the friends asked three questions:
1. After the World Order of Baha’u'llah is established and the World’s legislative & executive branches of government are arms or derivatory institutions of the Universal House of Justice (which appears to be the case from my readings) will non-Baha’is have the opportunity to vote for the National Assemblies that elect the House of Justice? Alternatively, can/will the Universal House of Justice be elected in some other way?
2. Will the World Legislature and/or Executive be elected or appointed by the Universal House of Justice? Alternatively, is the Universal House of Justice to become the World Executive? If elected, will only Baha’is have the right to vote?
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Church and State, Community, Political science | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, democracy, elections, International Tribunal, Organic unity, Shoghi Effendi, the Central Organization for a Durable Peace, World Legislature, World Order, بهائیت, شوقی افندی | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Sen on November 28, 2008
In the fifteenth Glad-Tidings, Baha’u’llah writes:
Although a republican form of government profiteth all the peoples of the world, yet the majesty of kingship is one of the signs of God. We do not wish that the countries of the world should remain deprived thereof. If the sagacious combine the two forms into one, great will be their reward in the presence of God.
I don’t think we have to suppose that Baha’u'llah was thinking about some future form of constitutional monarchy, requiring us to figure out what he meant and how it could be put into practice. There were good models of constitutional monarchy already working in his day, and most of them are still working today. In contrast, most of the republics from the time of Baha’u’llah have gone through at least one revolution, or at least a major upset, in the past century, and the absolute monarchies have fared even worse. Constitutional monarchy is the ‘leading technology’ in the field of government.
So why do constitutional monarchies work so well?
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Political science | Tagged: Baha'u'llah, Bahai, cabinet government, constitutional monarchy, fifteenth Glad-tidings, Iran, monarchy, Pahlavi, Political science, Qajar, republicanism, بـهاءالله, بهائیت | 4 Comments »