Posted by Sen on July 25, 2016
There’s a Tablet translated in Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, selection 29, that begins “O thou who art captivated by the truth …” and in which the eighth paragraph says:
Emmanuel was indeed the Herald of the Second Coming of Christ, and a Summoner to the pathway of the Kingdom. It is evident that the Letter is a member of the Word, and this membership in the Word signifieth that the Letter is dependent for its value on the Word, that is, it deriveth its grace from the Word; it has a spiritual kinship with the Word, and is accounted an integral part of the Word. The Apostles were even as Letters, and Christ was the essence of the Word Itself; and the meaning of the Word, which is grace everlasting, cast a splendour on those Letters. …
It is our hope that thou wilt in this day arise to promote that which Emmanuel foretold. …
A footnote explains the name Emmanuel, saying :
Regarding this Tablet Shoghi Effendi’s secretary wrote on his behalf, on 9 May 1938, “…this obviously refers to the Bab, as the text shows [it] clearly, and is in no way a reference to Swedenborg..”
The secretary has been misled by an earlier translation by Ahmad Sohrab, also known as Mirza Ahmad Esphahani, which says that Emmanuel was, “the forerunner of the second coming of His Highness the Christ.” The implicit reasoning is that the return of Christ is Baha’u’llah, and his Forerunner is the Bab. But the tablet of Emanuel is clearly about some lesser figure: Abdu’l-Baha uses the analogy of the relationship of the Apostles to Christ. This illustrates the danger of relying on a single word in a translation. As we will see, the Tablet of Emanuel is actually about the 18th century polymath and mystic Emanuel Swedenborg – with one ‘m’ in Emanuel.
This is interesting in two ways:
First, knowing that the tablet refers to the seer Emanuel Swedenborg makes the tablet itself understandable and consistent with Bahai teachings regarding the station of the Bab and Baha’u’llah. We can see how Abdu’l-Baha speaks to a Swedenborgian-Bahai who has found (Osbornian) relevance in a particular aspect of the Bahai teachings, and what Abdu’l-Baha has to say about this intermediate category of seers, those who have true heavenly visions that Abdu’l-Baha does not give the status of ‘a revelation direct from God’ or a new Law. This acceptance of the validity of seers is also relevant to the ‘divine philosophers’ such as Plato.
Second, the first letter on behalf of the Guardian elicited a reaction, because it was known in the American Bahai community that the letter was about Emanuel Swedenborg. We can see how successive letters from the Guardian’s secretaries cope with the fact that the first letter was incorrect, in fact and in theology. Something similar could be done with a series of letters on behalf of the Guardian by secretaries who thought that the Immaculate Conception is another term for the Virgin Birth of Jesus (a mistake the Guardian could hardly have made, given his Catholic education and interest in theology). In the process of people raising objections and getting answers, the initial error more or less gets sorted out, but is not explicitly repudiated.
The Tablet of Emanuel, background
The story of the tablet begins with Mr. E. E. Wrestling Brewster, a Swedenborgian attached to the New Jerusalem Church, a congregation of the New Church (Swedenborgian) in New York. Wrestling Brewster became a Bahai in 1906, and wrote a letter of declaration to Abdu’l-Baha, and received in reply a ‘letter of acceptance’ from Abdu’l-Baha, translated by Mirza Ameen Fareed. which Wrestling Brewster received in October 1906. Wrestling Brewster then wrote to Abdu’l-Baha regarding Emanuel Swedenborg. He later described the contents of his letter as:
… a query as to what is the relation between the Revelation of Emanuel Swedenborg and that of Baha ‘o ‘llah? The statement was given that the writer [Wrestling Brewster] was a deep student and disciple of the Swedish Seer and a communicant in the New-Church founded upon His doctrines; and further, that a resolve had been made to assist in spreading this spiritual philosophy before the masses.
In reply he received two letters, one from Abdu’l-Baha which is the subject of this posting, and one from the translator, Mirza Ahmad Esphahani (Ahmad Sohrab), who describes the Tablet of Emanuel as “one of the most wonderful Tablets that I have translated” and says that Abdu’l-Baha has instructed that it is to be translated “with the utmost correctness and … sent to the owner and [–] with the consent of its owner [–] to be printed and published.” Sohrab then asks for that permission. His covering letter is dated April 7, 1907. The full text of these letters has been posted as a separate text file.
Wrestling Brewster gave permission for the publication, and sent a copy of the translation to the Washington ‘assembly’ (a term that at that time could refer to a Bahai community rather than an institution), but it was not immediately published. In 1912, when Abdu’l-Baha came to New York, he met with Wrestling Brewster and enquired about the publication, saying, according to Wrestling Brewster, “That Tablet is intended for the world.”
It appears that this prompted Wrestling-Brewster to have the tablet printed himself, without waiting for the Bahai Publishing Society to include it in their volumes of collected tablets (Tablets of Abdu’l-Baha Abbas). The Publishing Society had apparently prepared Volume 3, in which this tablet appeared, as early as 1909, but lack of funds prevented its publication until 1916. In the interim, Wrestling Brewster published the tablet, in a booklet entitled Tablets of Abdu’l-Baha Abbas to E.E. Wrestling Brewster. This is undated but was published after he met Abdu’l-Baha in 1912. It consists of the translation of the tablet of acceptance; Ahmad Esphahani’s covering letter as the translator of the Tablet of Emanual; a Foreword from Wrestling Brewster, and Esphahani’s English translation of the tablet of Emanuel, dated March 6, 1907.
The booklet is listed in the bibliographies of Bahai literature printed in The Bahai World from Volume 4 (1930-32), where it is incorrectly dated 1907. I received a scan of the booklet from Kurt Asplund, whose help has been crucial. I would also like to thank the participants at the July 2016 Bahai Studies seminar in Oxford for their feedback.
The contents of the Tablet of Emanuel
The Persian text is available in Volume 1 of Muntakhabaati az Makaatib-e Hazrat-e Abdu’l-Bahaa, page 55, selection 29, and in two earlier collections of tablets: the Brazilian edition of Min Makaatib-e Hazrat-e Abdu’l-Baha vol. 1 p. 281 (selection 151) and the 1921 Egyptian printing of Makaatib-e Hazrat-e Abdu’l-Baha volume 3, p. 249.
The last of these names the addressee as Mr. Rosling Berestre-vod (رسلینگ برسته ود) in New York. This was the clue that led me to Wrestling Brewster and his booklet, and the certainty that the tablet is about Emanuel Swedenborg. This volume of ‘Makaatib‘ was published under Abdu’l-Baha’s supervision: its title page bears the signature of Abdu’l-Baha. In this text, but not in the more recent ‘Muntakhabaati az Makaatib‘ edition (the parallel text to Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha), Emanuel is spelled in the Persian with one ‘M’. This latest edition has changed the spelling to Emmanuel, to make it accord with the 1938 letter from a secretary that is quoted in the footnote. But this changing the evidence to match the conclusion: never a safe procedure.
I want to look just at a few points where the reading and translation is affected by knowing the tablet responds to Wrestling Brewster’s statements about Swedenborg. One section expresses the potential for the development of new branches of knowledge (علوم و معارفی) , so that “the lesson of spiritual stations will be read” (in my translation), or “the different planes of meaning be learned” in the World Centre translation. The Persian is درس مقامات معنوی خواند. I think this points forward to Abdu’l-Baha’s later explanation of the lesser spiritual station of Swedenborg, as compared to Christ or Baha’u’llah.
“Then will the cry of the Lord of the Kingdom be heard … and he will set out for the Kingdom of God, and hurry along to the realm of the spirit.” That is, when someone – such as Wrestling-Brewster – understands the lessons of spiritual stations, that person (not ‘humanity’, which is inserted in the World Centre translation), will not hesitate. This is illustrated with the metaphor of a fledgling bird: “once a bird hath grown its wings, it remaineth on the ground no more, but soareth upward into high heaven — except for those birds that are tied by the leg, or those whose wings are broken, or mired down.” This implies that if Wrestling-Brewster continues to devote his efforts to the New Church of Swedenborg, he will be like a bird with its leg tied. Rather he should relate the Bahai teachings to the “urgent needs of this present day.”
Then comes an exposition of progressive revelation, showing both the unity of divine revelation and the need to turn to the most recent revelation, since “the treatment ordered by wise physicians of the past, and by those that follow after, is not one and the same…” Abdu’l-Baha says that now, “teachings once limited to the few are made available to all.” (تعليم خصوصی عمومی گرديد) . In context, I think he is saying that there is now no need to follow a seer who gave advance glimpses of the New Jerusalem – it is now open to all. Then he gives a familiar interpretation, that “The descent of the New Jerusalem denotes a heavenly law.” In context, the point is that Swedenborg does not bring a new Law, which is required.
Finally (paragraph 8), he says “Emanuel was indeed the Herald (مبشّر = mobasher) of the Second Coming of Christ, and a Summoner [منادی = monaadi] to the pathway of the Kingdom.” These two terms affirm the legitimacy of Swedenborg and his visions, in the station of a servant.
Mobasher is the word that Sohrab translated as Forerunner, leading Shoghi Effendi’s secretary to assume a reference to the Bab. In other texts, Shoghi Effendi translates this variously as Forerunner, herald, harbinger, foreteller (“foretold” in Iqan p. 64). It’s the same root as bisharat, glad tidings: a mobasher is someone who brings glad tidings. The new translation in Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha has ‘Herald’ here, other good alternatives would be ‘messenger’ and ‘announcer.’ Olivia Kelsey’s reading (see below), that it is the station of a minor prophet, is over-specified. Every prophet could be called a mobasher, but not every mobasher is a minor prophet. I have it on the good authority of Stephen Lambden that Abdu’l-Baha calls Cheyne a mobasher, which would be translated as promulgator, since he spread the news of the Bab’s revelation in his 1914 book The Reconciliation of Races And Religions. In Swedenborg’s case, we have a voice that arose before the event, and a person whose life and writings “summoned to the pathway of the Kingdom. Perhaps Abdu’l-Baha would have accorded Swedenborg the same status as the minor prophets of Israel, had he been asked. But to assert it as the meaning of this tablet narrows the range of possible meanings.
A monaadi is “a herald; a proclaimer or crier; also, a forerunner” according to Hayyim’s dictionary; or “A crier, herald, proclaimer; a small drum that is beat about to notify or proclaim anything” according to Steingass. In both cases, the point is that such a servant is not to be equated with the person he heralds.
Abdu’l-Baha then makes a new metaphor, saying “that the Letter is a member of the Word, and this membership in the Word signifieth that the Letter is dependent … on the Word,” … “it deriveth its grace from the Word; it has a spiritual kinship with the Word, and is accounted an integral part of the Word.” Abdu’l-Baha is appropriating Swedenborg for the Bahai revelation: Swedenborg is not only the founder of the New Church within Christianity, he is “an integral part of” the new revelation. The ‘Letter’ here is both Swedenborg, and the New Church that Wrestling-Brewster had said he intended to support. Abdu’l-Baha says that through Wrestling-Brewster’s efforts the Letter (Swedenborgian movement) may become the mirror of the Word (Bahai teachings). The Bahai teachings include all the perfections and teachings of the past, and in addition it proclaims (monaadi) the oneness of humanity.
Abdu’l-Baha then makes a second analogy: Swedenborg is to Baha’u’llah, as the Apostles are to Christ. They receive his reflected light. And he addresses Wrestling Brewster, saying “It is our hope that thou wilt in this day arise to promote that which Emanuel heralded (بشارت داده).” He directs him to read some central Bahai texts available in English, to see that today these teachings are the remedy for a sick world.
What happened next
Because of Wrestling-Brewster’s publication, some Bahais in America were aware that ‘Emanuel’ in this tablet referred to Emanuel Swedenborg. An article by Olivia Kelsey in The Bahai World Vol. 6 called ‘Glimpses of Sweden,’ says, “In a Tablet addressed to an American Baha’i, E. E. Wrestling-Brewster, Abdu’l-Baha gave to Emmanuel Swedenborg the significance of [a] minor prophet.” (see p. 703) Part of the tablet is then quoted. It is possible, but not certain, that Shoghi Effendi read this article, since these volumes were prepared under his supervision by an editorial board based largely in the United States. The volume was published in 1937; most of the contents would have been collected and edited in the period 1935-1937.
As I mentioned earlier, a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, on May 9, 1938, said that this tablet “obviously refers to the Bab [-] as the text shows it clearly [-] and is in no way a reference to Swedenborg.” The letter responds to a question put by Willard Packard Hatch (1878 – 1960), a Bahai author, traveller and speaker, and Secretary of the Local Spiritual Assembly of Los Angeles, and either a man with a colourful past or an early example of participant research. He became a Bahai before Abdu’l-Baha’s visit to North America, and wrote a history of ‘Early days in Los Angeles Bahai Affairs.’ It seems likely that he had a memory, if not a copy, of Wrestling-Brewster’s publication, so why would he ask Shoghi Effendi who ‘Emanuel’ was? One explanation is that the statement in Kelsey’s article was disputed by others, and Hatch wrote to the Guardian expecting him to say that Emanuel was Swedenborg.
This 1938 letter to Willard Hatch is the one cited in the footnote in Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha. While it was addressed to an individual, it was published in Baha’i News, No. 134, March 1940, p. 2, with the consent of the Guardian (see the image below). This implies that NSA members and editorial staff around 1939 were unaware of the Wrestling-Brewster publication, for if they were aware of it, they would not have asked permission to publish what was clearly a mistake. It also implies that the identity of Emanuel was considered a matter of community interest, which is to say, disagreements. It would be most interesting to know which networks within the community were reading the tablet as referring to Swedenborg, and which were opposing that reading.
A second letter, dated October 1939 and again written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, tacitly admits that the 1938 letter to Willard Hatch was wrong:
… concerning Emanuel Swedenborg and his writings; while ‘Abdu’l-Baha praised the man and his noble efforts for social and religious reconstruction there is nothing in the Master’s Writings that can justify the believers in giving him any special station or importance beside that of an enlightened and constructive thinker of wide spiritual vision. There can be therefore no official Baha’i attitude in respect of the man or his work.
Was the writer of this letter still unaware that the ‘Tablet of Emanuel’ was about Emanuel Swedenborg? The Tablet of Emanuel does not in fact praise the “noble efforts for social and religious reconstruction” of Swedenborg, but rather the efforts of Wrestling-Brewster. It praises Swedenborg as a mystic and seer. So this October 1939 letter, which does not refer directly to a ‘tablet,’ might be a response to differences of opinion in the community about Swedenborg’s ideas, rather than an answer to a question about the Tablet of Emanuel. But since the 1938 letter to Willard Hatch is about the Tablet of Emanuel, and identifies Emanuel incorrectly as the Bab, and this letter follows just 18 months later, it appears very likely that this letter comes in response to an objection to the error in the 1938 letter, and the words “Abdu’l-Baha praised the man ..” refer to this same Tablet of Emanuel. In that case, why do the words of Abdu’l-Baha, that “Emmanuel was indeed the Herald of the Second Coming of Christ, and a Summoner to the pathway of the Kingdom” and his subsequent qualifiers on this, not constitute an official Bahai attitude to Swedenborg and his work?
The next event is the March 1940 republication of the 1938 letter, in the US Bahai News, saying that ‘Emmanuel’ refers to the Bab and not to Swedenborg. Why would the NSA do this, rather than printing the October 1939 letter which is more accurate? The most plausible explanation is that the October 1939 letter was not to a North American Bahai, so the NSA there did not get a copy.
Four years later we get two more letters on behalf of the Guardian to individuals. On May 6, 1943 a secretary writes:
…The teachings of such spiritually enlightened souls as Swedenborg, Emerson, and others should be considered as the advanced stirrings, in the minds of great souls foreshadowing that Revelation which was to break upon the world through the Bab and Baha’u’llah. Anything they say which is not substantiated by the Teachings, however, we cannot regard as absolute truth, but merely as the reflection of their own thoughts.
This is a fair summary of the contents of Abdu’l-Baha’s tablet. In place of a “forerunner” of Baha’u’llah, Emanuel Swedenborg is an ‘advanced stirring’ of the Twin manifestations. Shoghi Effendi treats Shaykh Abmad-e Ahsai and Sayyid Kazim Rashti in the same light.
The last letter is dated September 26, 1943, and switches from ‘advanced stirrings’ to ‘a herald of this Day.’ The secretary writes:
Swedenborg, because of the extreme progressiveness of his teachings may, in a way, be considered a herald of this Day. …
With the exception of the first letter in 1938, and the decision to republish it in 1940, these letters suppose that Abdu’l-Baha’s “Emanuel” is Emanuel Swedenborg, not the Bab. That gives us a rule of thumb: when dealing with contradictory letters written on behalf of the Guardian, we should give the most weight to the last letters, since the earlier ones may have initiated a feedback process from knowledgeable believers that has given the Guardian and his secretaries better information to work with. If we do not have multiple letters over a period, the letters we do have must be treated with caution because they may not be the last word.
The letters on behalf of the Guardian about the Tablet of Emanuel, and those about the Immaculate Conception, and the secretary’s letter that says that “this is the day which will not be followed by the night” refers to a never-ending line of Guardians, and the letter that says that “saying grace … is not part of the Baha’i Faith, but a Christian practice…”, and the letter that says that “The Universal Court of Arbitration … will be merged in the Universal House of Justice,” and the letter that says: “as to whether people ought to kill animals for food or not, there is no explicit statement in the Baha’i Sacred Scriptures (as far as I know) in favour or against it…,” or the letter that says that “The Prophets never composed treatises,” or the letter that says that “words Israel, used throughout the Bible, simply refers to the Jewish people and not the Chosen ones of this day” – whereas Shoghi Effendi himself reports, in God Passes By p. 116, a tablet of Baha’u’llah “in which Israel and his children [are] identified with the Bab and His followers respectively” — all these letters suggest that the Guardian’s secretaries in some cases, and perhaps in general, composed these letters themselves according to their own understanding and the knowledge available to them. In the case of ‘the day not followed by night,’ the secretary’s interpretation in 1948 contradicts Shoghi Effendi’s previous interpretation in 1944, in God Passes By, and uses a slightly different translation.
In the case of the Tablet of Emanuel, the secretary clearly did not know that it was about Emanuel Swedenborg, and perhaps the Guardian had not read Kelsey’s article in The Bahai World, or had forgotten it, and was also ignorant on this point. That is, the factual mistake might have come from the Guardian’s instructions to the secretary. However it is not credible that the Guardian would have assigned a subordinate status to the Bab in relation to Baha’u’llah, analogous to that of the Apostles to Christ. The theological mistake has clearly come from the secretary’s limited understanding and not from instructions of the Guardian. So how did the Guardian go about handling his English correspondence? What was the procedure, and what was his thinking about the correspondence he assigned to a secretary?
Shoghi Effendi wore two ‘hats’ – that of the Guardian who is the Interpreter, and that of the Head of the Bahai Community. In my opinion, there is a plausible explanation for the various secretaries’ letters about the Tablet of Emanuel, and the other questions I have mentioned briefly: that when Shoghi Effendi received these questions about the Bahai writings and teachings, he judged that they did not warrant his attention as Interpreter, and assigned them to a secretary to deal with as a pastoral or administrative matter. An individual’s question about some aspect of the Writings naturally has these two dimensions: the meaning of the text, and the needs of the believer who asks the question. A query from an NSA about the application of a text or principle is both about meanings, and about the institution’s need for a policy to follow. So pastoral and administrative matters can involve interpretations, without requiring an Interpretation with a capital I.
I suggest, as a rule of thumb, that where a letter has been assigned to a secretary to answer, we should assume that the Guardian has not put on his “Interpreter” hat, unless the letter itself indicates otherwise, and I do not know of any such exception at present. This is not to say that the letters written on behalf of the Guardian can never be a source of Bahai theology, rather that they cannot be the sole source for any point of interpretation. In the great majority of cases, the interpretive element in these letters is confirmed by the Writings, or by earlier or later writing by the Guardian himself. In a handful of cases, the interpretive element is incorrect.
Related to this is the thinking of the Guardian about his own reading and approval of an outgoing letter. We may assume, because it was the general procedure, that Shoghi Effendi saw and approved the letter written in May, 1938, that said that the Tablet of Emanuel “obviously refers to the Bab, … and is in no way a reference to Swedenborg.” A year or two earlier, he probably saw and approved the article by Olivia Kelsey which says that this Tablet is a response to Wrestling-Brewster’s question about Emanuel Swedenborg. Are we to suppose that he had forgotten this by 1938? Or that he skimmed the contents of The Bahai World without attention for details? But then we could just as well conclude, that he had skimmed the contents of the secretary’s 1938 letter without taking in its implications. Likewise, we could suppose that he didn’t really read the letter about the Immaculate Conception, the day not followed by night, saying grace, killing animals, composing treatises and so on. We could deal with all of these by saying Shoghi Effendi was sloppy, or he became tired from overwork.
An alternative is to suppose that he was careful and diligent about his own writing and his work as Head of the Faith and especially as the authorized Interpreter, but he was not a controlling personality. He allowed his secretaries and the national and local Spiritual Assemblies, and essay writers in The Bahai World, and authors and Bahais in general, to have their opinions and their areas of expertise and ignorance, to do their work according to their own lights and to bear responsibility for it, without consistent and detailed correction from the Guardian. Rather than supposing that he overlooked matters of which he could hardly have been unaware, we can suppose that he saw, and often decided that his intervention was not warranted. He praised JE Esslemont’s Baha’u’llah and the New Era and urged its speedy translation in many languages, but he could not have been unaware that it relied at some points on pilgrim’s notes, a source that Shoghi Effendi had warned against from his earliest days as Guardian. He must have known that Esslemont believed in the “mystic unity” of Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha (p 68 of the 1923 edition), yet he did not refute the idea until February 1934, in The Dispensation of Baha’u’llah, and in the interim he had urged and guided translations into 33 different languages. Why did he not correct the English text regarding this ‘mystic unity,’ in a corrigenda if not in a new edition, before he had it translated? The simplest explanation is again, that he was not a controlling personality, and was content to let others have their opinions and bear responsibility for them, intervening only after a problem had resulted for the Bahai community.
This perspective on the personality of Shoghi Effendi, and on his method and meaning in assigning issues to a secretary or dealing with them himself, has far-reaching implications for the Bahai community today. Letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, along with pilgrim’s notes, bad translations and unauthenticated texts, play a large role in the questions that divide the community. Placing a question mark beside the authority of interpretations contained in these letters will I hope soften the righteous certainty that turns differences of understanding into divisions about minor and mutable points, because ‘Shoghi Effendi said so.’
Regarding letters on behalf of Shoghi Effendi: one, two, and three.
“Anything Shoghi Effendi said is Baha’i doctrine”
On other sites:
Bahai News (USBN)
Swedenborg on Wikipedia
Swedenborg’s works in electronic format.
Short link for this page: http://wp.me/pcgF5-2JK
Posted in Bahai Writings, Theology | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, Bahai, Bahai Faith, Emanuel Swedenborg, secretaries, Shoghi Effendi, بهائی, بهائیت, عبدالبهاء | 8 Comments »
Posted by Sen on August 6, 2015
… about Mehrangiz Kar and the service of women, about open and courteous discussions, and more
This posting begins with the following letter from the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahais of the United States, dated July 31, 2015, in response to Bahai involvement in an embarrassing internet fracas. The letter itself explains the situation further: Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Community | Tagged: Bahai Faith, elections, Mehrangiz Kar, pilgrim's notes, مهرانگیز کار, women, بهائی, بهائیت | 27 Comments »
Posted by Sen on July 21, 2015
The Mashriqu’l-Adhkar is a House of Worship or Temple, built not just for Bahais but for all the people in a community to use. The name means ‘the place where God is remembered,’ and remembrance in this context has the combined senses of awareness and praise. ‘Where God is remembered’ is not just in a building: it is also in the heart, and in a devotional meeting, and in a community. For more information on the Mashriqu’l-Ahkar, see ‘The Mashriqu’l-Adhkar Handbook,’ in the ‘compilations’ section of this blog. (Opens as a PDF file) further compilation this blog. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Community, Devotions, Translations | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, Bahai Faith, Cambodia, places of worship, بهائی, بهائیت, عبدالبهاء | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Sen on July 15, 2015
On a facebook group, one Bahai wrote:
“Obviously the House of Justice needs someone w/ an appropriate background to explain the Writings to them.” This was in the context of letters that showed the Universal House of Justice’s understanding of Bahai teachings evolving over time. I will give more details below.
I am sure the suggestion was well meant, but I think it is heading in the wrong direction entirely. However first I will have to explain why the suggestion could be made. The ‘problem’ for the Bahais, is that it is clear from doctrine and practical observation that the Universal House of Justice, the head of the Bahai community, does not always understand the Bahai scriptures correctly. If there was a guarantee that it would always be correct, the Guardianship would have been unnecessary. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Community, Theology | Tagged: Bahai Faith, Bahai Studies, bahai theology, Lesser Peace, pilgrim's notes, Shoghi Effendi, Udo Schaefer, Universal House of Justice, y2k, بهائی, بهائیت, شوقی افندی | 35 Comments »
Posted by Sen on May 16, 2015
[Upate, October 26, 2015, see postscript.]
This posting will explore the principles and procedures that determine the ‘prohibited degrees of marriage’ in Bahai law. How closely does someone have to be related to you, to be too close for you to marry? The term “affinity” is used to include blood relationships and marriage relationships (and relationships by adoption ~ seen the postscript).
Bahai readers will no doubt ask, why do we need a systematic explanation of this now? It is not as if there is a problem: we do not have a prevalence of first cousin marriages in Bahai communities, our assemblies are not overburdened by requests from fathers wanting to marry their daughters. Our lack of interest in the issue is indicated by the fact that the Bahaikipedia section on marriage laws does not mention the prohibited degrees of marriage. Apparently, we are quite satisfied to obey the civil laws and use our common sense.
However the lack of a systematic presentation in terms that are understandable for people from an Islamic background has given room for numerous Islamic scholars and anti-Bahai web sites to tell the people they can influence that Bahais “marry their sisters.” Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Aqdas and Law, Defence of the Faith, Ethics and Morality, Polemics | Tagged: Bahai Faith, incest, prohibited degrees of affinity, prohibited degrees of relationship, Shoghi Effendi, Universal House of Justice, ازدواج, ازدواج بهائی, بهائی, بهائیت, عبدالبهاء | 13 Comments »
Posted by Sen on September 22, 2014
Relax – not the new Bahai calendar. But it does have 19 months
[December 26: the dates of feast days and holy days for the coming years have been added to the bottom of the blog. [Skip to the table]]
On July 10, 2014, the Universal House of Justice announced three decisions regarding the Badi` (Bahai) calendar that has been used, in two slightly different forms, by Bahais in Islamic lands and in the rest of the world. The changes take effect from the next Bahai New Year, from sunset on March 20, 2015. The full text of the letter from the Universal House of Justice is available in the documents archive of this blog. The changes modify the pattern of the Bahai year somewhat, harmonise practices for Bahais in the East and West and – in my view most significantly – they underline that the Bahai Faith is an independent religion and an independent religious community with its own identity. What are the changes about, how will they effect us in our local communities, and why are they introduced now? And the otherwise unspoken question, “Is this more than an unnecessary and irritating inconvenience, haven’t we (and haven’t they), got better things to do?”
The answers to these questions in brief are, that there are reasons in scripture and in what I will call cultural ‘politics’ why these changes should be made now, and that the new dates for feasts and holy days will not be difficult to use in practice, or very different from those we are used to. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Community | Tagged: Baha'i calendar, Bahai Faith, Calendar, بهائی, بهائیت, تقویم بهائی | 22 Comments »
Posted by Sen on August 31, 2014
When the young Shoghi Effendi was in England for his university studies, he went to Manchester, arriving there on October 1, 1921, and staying for six days. On the evening of October 2 he was at a meeting of the Bahais in home of Mr. and Mrs. Heald. Riaz Khadem (Shoghi Effendi in Oxford, p. 118) describes that meeting as largely musical. Shoghi Effendi shared some Persian poems by Abdu’l-Baha that could be used as hymns. There is more in Riaz Khadem’s account of Shoghi Effendi’s visit, but it is the mention of Samuel and Mrs. Heald that interests me here.
With a few days of his visit to Manchester, Shoghi Effendi sent a letter to Abdu’l-Baha in which he reported on the activities of the Manchester Bahais. He received the following tablet, dated October 1921, in response: Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Bahai Writings | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, Shoghi Effendi, بهائی, بهائیت, شوقی افندی, عبدالبهاء | 16 Comments »
Posted by Sen on February 3, 2014
Amended July 2015
An enquirer asked: Do Baha’is really believe that copper turns into gold after 70 years if protected from becoming dry (or solidified)?
The most important skill for understanding scriptures, including the Bahai scriptures, is not mastery of the original languages, or other arcane knowledge, but familiarity with literary language: the ability to read poetry and similar writing. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Bahai Writings | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'u'llah, bahai theology, scripture as literature, بـهاءالله, بهائی, بهائیت, عبدالبهاء | 53 Comments »
Posted by Sen on July 30, 2013
Someone asked a question in the comments to this blog, which is so important I have decided to answer in a new posting. He asks whether a government leader [in Israel] who enrolled in the Bahai community would have had temporal authority over the Guardian, had the line of guardians continued, or would the governor have had to defer to the authority of the Guardian, as the head of the Bahai community? Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Church and State, Political science, Theology | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'u'llah, Bahai, bahai theology, Church and State, Guardianship, Organic unity, Shoghi Effendi, بـهاءالله, بهائی, بهائیت, شوقی افندی, عبدالبهاء | 6 Comments »
Posted by Sen on March 23, 2013
From the moment Pope Benedict announced his retirement, the names of possible successors were being discussed, along with ideas about the right kind of Pope to lead the Church in the years to come. A South American? An African? … It all makes for good press. Bahai elections, even the forthcoming election of the Universal House of Justice, are not so newsworthy.
The Bahai community has no clergy, in the sense of qualified religious experts who lead a religious community. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Community | Tagged: Bahai, Bahai Administrative Order, Bahai Faith, elections, Universal House of Justice | 23 Comments »
Posted by Sen on July 14, 2012
One of the participants on the Facebook group Bahais United in Diversity wrote:
I’m afraid I have to point out that Abdu’l-Baha contradicts himself [in the proof of the existence of God, in the first chapter of Some Answered Questions]… First he suggests that “Nature has neither intelligence nor perception.” So God must exist. Then he says that “man is the branch; nature is the root,” and asks “can the will and the intelligence, and the perfections which exist in the branch, be absent in the root?”
So the will and the intelligence and the perception are in nature after all… and God becomes unnecessary to explain order in nature and the emergence of human life.
It’s a sharp observation, but the problem lies in the translation rather than in Abdu’l-Baha’s reasoning. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Bahai Writings, Theology, Translations | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, Bahai Faith, bahai theology, Some Answered Questions, مفاوضات, بهائی, عبدالبهاء | 8 Comments »
Posted by Sen on November 5, 2011
[Updated May 2012]
In 2008, I posted an entry about the translation of the Eighth Ishraq, which is the eighth section of one of Baha’u’llah’s shorter works, the Ishraqat or Splendours. The posting explained why I thought that the 1978 translation was incorrect where it says “All matters of State (‘umuur-e siyaasiyyah) should be referred to the House of Justice.” The earlier translation by Ali Kuli Khan, “Administrative affairs are all in charge of the House of Justice, and devotional acts must be observed according as they are revealed in the Book” was, I thought, more accurate, and more consistent with other works by Abdu’l-Baha and Baha’u’llah. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Bahai Writings, Church and State, Community, Translations | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, Administrative matters, Affairs of the people, Ali Kuli Khan, amur-e mellat, amuur-e mellat, Aqdas, ‘amuur-e siyaasiyyah, Baha'u'llah, Bahai, Bahai Faith, bahai theology, Bisharat, Church and State, Community, House of Justice, Iqan, ishraqat, lawh-e dunya, matters of state, Organic unity, politics, Religion, Shoghi Effendi, Tehran, The Art of Governance, theocracy, theocratic, Translation, بـهاءالله, بهائی, بهائیت, شوقی افندی | 24 Comments »
Posted by Sen on April 22, 2011
Abdu’l-Baha’s knighthood has never been a matter of importance to Bahais themselves, who have many much weightier reasons to admire and follow Abdu’l-Baha as the successor to his father, Baha’u’llah, as the authorised interpreter of the Bahai scripture and teachings, as the Centre of the Covenant that unites Bahais across the world, and as the best exemplar of the Bahai life. However the photograph of Abdu’l-Baha, seated at the ceremony to confer on him the honour of Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, is one of the stock images on Iranian and Islamic anti-Bahai sites that seek to present the Bahai Faith as a Western invention, Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Defence of the Faith, History, Polemics | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, Adasiyyah, Bahai Faith, British Mandate, knighthood, Tudor Pole, بهائی, بهائیت, عبدالبهاء | 33 Comments »
Posted by Sen on April 21, 2011
The Foreign and India Office, 1866
The punch line is, they show nothing. At least this time. A site called Bahaism and the British Government is presenting “Documentation pertaining to historical connections of the leadership of Bahaism with the British government.” It has just two documents so far. The site has been greeted with relief by the anti-bahai ideologues, who have been claiming for generations that the British established the Bahai Faith to weaken Islam, without finding any evidence. (For a brief treatment of the “British did it” scam, see the Wikipedia article. For a thorough treatment see Adib Masumian’s short book on anti-Bahaism in Iran (PDF))
The funny thing is, the documents are evidence that the British were not involved with the Bahais. You can click on the images to get a larger view, but I’ve typed them over so that search engines can find them – and the owners of “Bahaism and the British Government” cannot remove the evidence. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Defence of the Faith, History, Polemics | Tagged: Anti-Bahai propaganda, anti-Bahaism, Bahai Faith, بهائی, بهائیت | 16 Comments »
Posted by Sen on March 7, 2011
In a discussion on Talisman9, one friend said that he felt obliged to incorporate any statement made by the Universal House of Justice under the infallible protection of God into his corpus of beliefs, and another said that if the Universal House of Justice makes a certain understanding of doctrine an inherent part of its legislation, he felt obligated to understand and believe that. Does the *UHJ’s power of elucidation imply this? Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Theology | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, Bahai Faith, bahai theology, Shoghi Effendi, Universal House of Justice, Will and Testament, بهائی, بهائیت, شوقی افندی, عبدالبهاء | 103 Comments »
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 | 8 Comments »
Posted by Sen on February 18, 2011
There are numerous ‘pilgrim’s notes’ recording people’s memories of the words of Abdu’l-Baha or of Shoghi Effendi, some more reliable than others. But the diary entries below are Shoghi Effendi’s reports of the words of Abdu’l-Baha, dated in 1919, as the First World War was ending. They include Shoghi Effendi’s translations of sections of Abdu’l-Baha’s tablets.
The first letter contains a citation from a Tablet of Abdu’l-Baha that, so far as I know, is not published elsewhere. The third letter, dated February 10, 1919, gives some insight into the motives of the British authorities in awarding a knighthood to Abdu’l-Baha on 27 April 1920, based on a recommendation submitted by the British Administrator, Major-General Money, on 18 July, 1919. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in History | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, Bahai Faith, pilgrim's notes, Shoghi Effendi, بهائی, بهائیت, شوقی افندی, عبدالبهاء | 3 Comments »
Posted by Sen on February 10, 2011
from Remey, 'Observations' 1908
This talk by Abdu’l-Baha, given in Chicago, was published in Star of the West volume 3, No. 3, page 30, dated April 28, 1912. This is puzzling, since the talk was not given until two days later! That issue of Star of the West reports talks dated up to May 5 1912, so presumably the “April 28” number was actually printed sometime in May. The talk has been republished in Promulgation of Universal Peace, page 69, but the editor of Promulgation has nipped and tucked here and there, taking out some of the wrinkles, adding some explanations, and removing Abdu’l-Baha’s humourous references to green and blue people. A friend has asked for the unvarnished text, so I am posting it here. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Bahai Writings | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, pilgrim's notes, Star of the West, بهائی, بهائیت, عبدالبهاء | 7 Comments »
Posted by Sen on January 19, 2011
[Revised Feb. 24]
Abdu’l-Baha wrote at least two letters to the Scottish-American industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. What appears to be the earlier of these must have been written in 1912 or the first weeks of 1913, although it was not until 1915 that a translation by Ahmad Sohrab, dated 1 May 1915, was published in The New York Times (September 5, 1915) and Star of the West vol. 6 no 11, September 27 1915. I am posting the full text here to make it available to search engines. The original of the letter also exists, in the Baha’i archives in Haifa, having turned up in England in the late 1940s. I haven’t found it published in Persian Bahai sources. The original may have the date of composition on it, the translation does not. I think it must have been written in 1912, because the other letter to Carnegie is dated January 10, 1913. The letter below begins with a reference to its being sent via HH Topakyan, the Persian Consul-General in New York, as if this was new, while the January 1913 letter and its cover letter suppose that this route was known to both Carnegie and Topakyan.
I find it interesting that Abdu’l-Baha refers not only to the danger of militarism in Europe but also to the possibility – which could still be averted by effort – that racial antipathy might be added to the mix. It’s not hard to see in this, Abdu’l-Baha’s awareness that early fascism (in the sense it existed before World War I, as a nationalist and populist middle way between communism and capitalism) could evolve in a racist direction, as it later did in forms such as Aryan superiority and antisemitism. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Bahai Writings, History | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, Bahai Faith | 8 Comments »
Posted by Sen on January 13, 2011
This posting is about a story, according to which New York is the city of the Covenant because that is where Abdu’l-Baha announced the Bahai Covenant in the West, on June 19, 1912. The words of the important talk by Abdu’l-Baha, which has been called the ‘announcement,’ have been preserved in a surprisingly reliable form. As it is not published in sources such as Promulgation, I have reproduced it below. Reliable as it is, the text and the stories around this announcement, raise some questions: what exactly was newly announced, or revealed? Who named New York the city of the Covenant, when, and why? Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Bahai Writings, History | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, Bahai Faith, bahai theology, covenant, Shoghi Effendi, Star of the West, Will and Testament, بهائی, بهائیت, شوقی افندی, عبدالبهاء | 2 Comments »
Posted by Sen on January 9, 2011
This story is interesting in that it is one example of how a homosexual partnership was addressed in the time of Shoghi Effendi, and because it gives the context and full text of a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi which is otherwise published only in part.
This is not my research: it is published by Jelle de Vries in The Babi Question you mentioned (2002), a history that covers reports about the Babi and Bahai religions written by Dutch expatriates in 19th century Iran, and also the early history of the Bahai Faith in the Netherlands up to 1962. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Ethics and Morality, History | Tagged: Bahai Faith, homosexuality, Shoghi Effendi, the Hague, the Netherlands | 17 Comments »
Posted by Sen on December 16, 2010
I’m not a historian: I’m interested mainly in the timeless task of understanding the Bahai teachings, leaving history to those able, and crystal-ball gazing to those interested. But those who don’t know their history, will repeat mistakes in understanding quite needlessly, so sometimes we need to look back at the history of an idea in the Bahai community, especially where it is a mistaken idea that keeps resurfacing. In this case I am looking at some words attributed to Abdu’l-Baha, Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Community, Theology | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, Administrative Order, Agnes Parsons, Annie Boylan, Baha’i Faith in America, Bahai Administration, Bahai lore, bahai theology, Helen Goodall, House of Justice, Isabel Fraser, Louis Gregory, Mariam Haney, Mason Remey, Mirza Ahmad Sohrab, Mountfort Mills, North Shore Review, Oliver Scharbrodt, organisation, Percy Woodcock, Peter Smith, pilgrim's notes, Remey, Robert Stockman, Ruth White, Shoghi Effendi, Sohrab, Sohrab's diary, Spiritual Assembly, Thornton Chase, Y.S. Tsao | 10 Comments »
Posted by Sen on November 29, 2010
This tablet from Abdu’l-Baha, translated by Shoghi Effendi, was published in Star of the West in October, 1919, and has not been republished in full since then. It is interesting both as the source of a well-known appeal for peace (re-published in the Bahai World Centre’s Compilation on Peace, but in a different translation) and for Abdu’l-Baha’s comparison between the Testament of Baha’u’llah, which appointed Abdu’l-Baha as head of the Bahai community, in writing, and the oral traditions on which the appointment of Peter rested. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Bahai Writings | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, Bahai Faith, bahai theology, Martha Root, بهائی, بهائیت, شوقی افندی, عبدالبهاء | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Sen on November 28, 2010
In The World Order of Baha’u’llah (p. 135) , Shoghi Effendi quotes some words of Baha’u’llah:
“O Thou Who art the apple of Mine eye!” Baha’u’llah, in His own handwriting, thus addresses ‘Abdu’l-Baha, “My glory, the ocean of My loving-kindness, the sun of My bounty, the heaven of My mercy rest upon Thee. We pray God to illumine the world through Thy knowledge and wisdom, to ordain for Thee that which will gladden Thine heart and impart consolation to Thine eyes.”
The context is an exposition, by Shoghi Effendi, of the Bahai teachings regarding the unique station of Abdu’l-Baha. Shoghi Effendi also translated this tablet in full. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Bahai Writings | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Sen on November 22, 2010
This tablet by Abdu’l-Baha, dated around 1899, responds to detailed questions, “concerning the wisdom of referring some important laws to the House of Justice.” Abdu’l-Baha replies that, in principle, the Baha’i Faith is similar to Christianity, whose scriptures also specify only a few laws.
The Bahai Faith, he says, has little connection to worldly concerns. Religion’s primary function is to refine characters and bring light in darkness. However the Bahai scriptures do specify some foundations of our religious law, leaving subsidiary matters to the divinely-inspired House of Justice, which can make ‘cultural laws,’ (ahkaam madaniyyih) in accordance with time and circumstance. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Aqdas and Law, Ethics and Morality, Translations | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, Bahai Faith, Bahai law, House of Justice, religious law, بهائی, بهائیت, عبدالبهاء | 3 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. An earlier report of this talk is published in Abdu’l-Baha in London (which incidentally shows that not all talks in that book cannot be authenticated). Naturally that report, based on an interpreter’s words, is more compact than the Persian version which I have translated. Its list of principles differs, 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 September 14, 2010
Continuing with the readings from Nader Saiedi’s Gate of the Heart, I’ve turned to the first of six principles of moral and spiritual action that Saiedi finds in the Persian Bayan. He calls it ‘the mystic character of action.’ Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Aqdas and Law, Theology | Tagged: Aqdas, Bahai Faith, bahai theology, Nader Saiedi, Persian Bayan, The Bab | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Sen on August 12, 2010
Continuing with the readings from Nader Saiedi’s Gate of the Heart. I’ve selected a section beginning on page 315, where it is headed ‘Perfection and refinement’ — a title that doesn’t do justice to the implications of these concepts for a theology of positive stewardship for the natural world.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Bahai Writings, Ethics and Morality, Theology | Tagged: Bahai, bahai theology, The Bab, بهائی, بهائیت | 2 Comments »
Posted by Sen on July 20, 2010
Continuing a series of postings to give readers a taste of Nader Saiedi’s Gate of the Heart , I’ve chosen a section on pages 248-251 entitled “Worship as Paradise.” Naturally, in the book, Saiedi cites his sources, but if you want those, you will have to buy the book.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Bahai Writings, Devotions, Theology | Tagged: bahai theology, Nader Saiedi, The Bab, بهائیت | 3 Comments »
Posted by Sen on July 13, 2010
I’ve been reading Nader Saiedi’s Gate of the Heart and I’m boundlessly enthusiastic. It’s more than a milestone of Bahai Studies: it contains much understanding that will help many of us trying to live the life of Faith – which the Bab, I think, would call the life of the heart. With the author’s permission, I’m going to make paraphrases of some sections, starting with a section on the Bab’s teaching on Destiny on pages 210-216. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Theology | Tagged: Bahai Faith, bahai theology, predestination, The Bab, بهائیت | 5 Comments »
Posted by Sen on June 17, 2010
Contributed by Ahang Rabbani
Shapur (Hushang) Markazi was a Baha’i from Gilan. For a number of years he served with great distinction on the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Iran and later as an Auxiliary Board member. In the early years of the Islamic Revolution (1979), he was arrested and imprisoned in the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran. After much torture, he was executed on September 23, 1984, because of his religious convictions. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Community | Tagged: anti-Bahaism, Bahai Faith, Bahais in Iran, Iran, literature, poetry, religious persecution, torture, بهائیت | 1 Comment »
Posted by Sen on May 23, 2010
The Universal House of Justice is an elected body that serves as the head of the world-wide Bahai community. It is empowered to decide when Bahai laws are applicable for Bahais, to provide the necessary framework so that they can be applied, and to make laws and rulings for situations that are not covered in Bahai scripture. So it has a very important role in Bahai community life. Unlike all the other Bahai institutions and roles and positions in community life, membership of the Universal House of Justice is, at least for now, reserved for men. I will return to that ‘for now’ briefly, at the end of this posting. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Church and State, Community | Tagged: Church and State, feminism, House of Justice, International Tribunal, Organic unity, women's rights, World Order of Baha'u'llah, بهائیت | 44 Comments »
Posted by Sen on May 18, 2010
One of the friends asked:
I recently found out the Bab, Baha’u’llah, ‘Abdu’l-Baha, and Shoghi Effendi all revealed prayers. Only prayers of the first three have been translated into English. Why aren’t Shoghi Effendi’s prayers translated yet?
The short answer is, it has been done, but seldom, Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Bahai Writings, Devotions | Tagged: Bahai prayers, Shoghi Effendi, شوقی افندی | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Sen on May 13, 2010
One of the friends asked for the Persian text of the well-known prayer that begins, “O God! Refresh and gladden my spirit. Purify my heart. Illumine my powers. I lay all my affairs in Thy hand….”
I had to disappoint him: there is no Persian original for this. It comes from the Diary of Mirza Ahmad Sohrab for May 9, 1914. He would write his diary in Persian, and later translate parts of it into English and distribute the translations. In this case, his handwritten English translation has survived in manuscript (a friend has a copy), and contains this prayer, Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Bahai Writings, Devotions | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, Bahai lore, Bahai prayers, pilgrim's notes, Star of the West, بهائیت, عبدالبهاء | 4 Comments »
Posted by Sen on May 9, 2010
This letter from Abdu’l-Baha to Thornton Chase was published in Star of the West, and has been picked up in the Bahai-library project that is republishing these tablets. After answering a question about Baha’u’llah’s Arabic Hidden Word 13, Abdu’l-Baha discusses pantheism, incarnation, gnosticism, and reincarnation. Direct references to theosophy in Abdu’l-Baha’s writings are rare, but there are a considerable number of talks by Abdu’l-Baha addressed to theosophists, five of which have the status of Bahai scripture since they are backed by Persian notes: those given on 29 May (or 30 May), 24 July, and 4 December 1912 and on 9 January and 14 February 1913. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Bahai Writings | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, Bahai Faith, Star of the West, theosophy, Thornton Chase, عبدالبهاء | 1 Comment »
Posted by Sen on May 4, 2010
This letter from Abdu’l-Baha to Mr. and Mrs. MacNutt, written in July 1919, is interesting for its mention of an incident during Abdu’l-Baha’s time in America, when one of his entourage used his position to beg for money, for its characterisation of the fruitlessness activities of the followers of Kheiralla and Mirza Muhammad Ali as foam on the ocean waves, for the loving mention of Lua Getsinger, who had died three years earlier, and not least because it is one of the few works of Abdu’l-Baha translated by Shoghi Effendi. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Bahai Writings | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, Aminu'llah Farid, Arianism, Arius, Bahai Faith, Green Acre, Habib Mu'ayyad, Howard MacNutt, Lua Getsinger, Mary Jane Pinchot, Mary MacNutt, Marzieh Gail, Mirza Muhammad Ali, Muhammad Zarqani, Shoghi Effendi, theosphists, بهائی, بهائیت, عبدالبهاء | 3 Comments »
Posted by Sen on April 25, 2010
This is a tablet of Abdu’l-Baha, one of several selected and translated by Shoghi Effendi and published in Star of the West volume 14, no 1, April 1923. This translation does not appear to be available elsewhere, although another translation can be found in Tablets of Abdu’l-Baha page 405. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Bahai Writings | Tagged: Baha'u'llah, Bahai Faith, Bahai Writings, Shoghi Effendi, شوقی افندی, عبدالبهاء | 5 Comments »
Posted by Sen on April 23, 2010
This is a tablet of Abdu’l-Baha, one of several selected and translated by Shoghi Effendi and published in Star of the West volume 14, no 1, April 1923. It does not appear to be available elsewhere. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Bahai Writings | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, Bahai Faith, Shoghi Effendi, Translations, شوقی افندی, عبدالبهاء | 1 Comment »
Posted by Sen on April 17, 2010
In a comment on my earlier posting on the latest attempt to revive the ‘Unitarian’ variant of the Bahai Faith, as expounded by Abdu’l-Baha’s younger brother Muhammad Ali, one reader wrote:
> I dont feel I have anything to fear from Muhammed Ali or most members
> of the UBA. They simply have a different narrative based upon certain
> historical facts, progressive ideas .. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Community, History | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'u'llah, Bahai Faith, kitab-i-aqdas, Will and Testament, بـهاءالله, بهائی, عبدالبهاء | 26 Comments »
Posted by Sen on April 12, 2010
This tablet from the pen of Baha’u’llah was translated by Zia Baghdadi and published in Star of the West Volume 10 no. 1 (March 21, 1919). I am posting it here so that it is accessible to search engines, and for the benefit of those who have not (yet) purchased the Star of the West CD. A section is translated by Shoghi Effendi in Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, section CXLVII and I have inserted this into Baghdadi’s translation.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Bahai Writings | Tagged: Baha'u'llah, Bahai Faith, Bahai Writings, بـهاءالله, بهائی | 8 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 | 21 Comments »
Posted by Sen on March 30, 2010
Reza Shah's Mausoleum
The following petition was sent to Reza Shah
(1878 – 1944; father of Mohammed Reza Shah) by the NSA of the Bahais of North America back in 1926. I’m posting it here to make it accessible to search engines, and because its impressive argumentation is relevant to the current persecutions in Iran, and refutes recent claims that the Bahais of Iran were privileged ( !
) under the Pahlavi kings. Nothing could be further from the truth. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Defence of the Faith | Tagged: anti-Bahaism, Bahai Faith, Bahai World, Horace Holley, Iran, Pahlavis, religious minorities, Reza Shah Pahlavi, بهائی, بهائیت | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Sen on March 27, 2010
Mirza Muhammad Ali was a younger brother of Abdu’l-Baha who rebelled against his brother’s authority as head of the Bahai community, was able to secure possession of some Bahai properties and for some time to cause other difficulties, particularly by misrepresenting Abdu’l-Baha to the government as a threat to the Ottoman state. By the end of his life, Muhammad Ali was left without friends or followers, and had been forced to abandon the properties that he had seized, but did not have the means to maintain in a liveable condition. He died in 1937. There has been no “Muhammad Ali” sect of the Bahai Faith for seventy years past. So why mention this old history here?
In recent weeks we have seen the curious phenomenon of an attempt to revive the claims of Muhammad Ali, Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Defence of the Faith | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'u'llah, Bahai Faith, bahai theology, Guardianship, Mirza Muhammad Ali, Shoghi Effendi, Unitarian Bahai Association, بهائیت, شوقی افندی, عبدالبهاء | 39 Comments »
Posted by Sen on March 26, 2010
A google search on “killed one hundred and thirty people in one night” will turn up several repetitions of the claim that Baha’u’llah killed one hundred and thirty people in one night. The story appears to originate in June 1997, in an article by Imran Shaykh on the BahaiAwareness site. It was picked up in an article posted on ‘The Religion of Islam,’ a Muslim missionary site, in 2006. More recently it has appeared on facebook and on the candidly titled “Anti Bahai Website” and various other places.
There is a brief account of the night in question in the Tarikh-e Jadid, page 59, which is available on google books: Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Defence of the Faith, History | Tagged: anti-Bahaism, Baha'u'llah, Bahai Faith, History, بـهاءالله, بهائیت | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Sen on March 23, 2010
Portrait of Abdu'l-Baha in Badayi'u'l-athar
The following talk given by Abdu’l-Baha, on individuality and personality, is of interest both for understanding how he thought about the human person, and for its relevance to individualism in Bahai belief. It is authentic Bahai scripture, albeit in an early translation, because it is translated from Persian notes taken at the time. Abdu’l-Baha’s practice was to check and correct the Persian notes of his talks, so — assuming that was done in this case, which is a safe bet — the text below has the same status as Some Answered Questions
and Memorials of the Faithful
, which were produced in the same way. The talk was published in Star of the West
vol 4, no2, April 9 1913 from page 38. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Bahai Writings, Individualism, Theology | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, Bahai Faith, bahai theology, Individualism, personality, psychology, بهائی, بهائیت, عبدالبهاء | 3 Comments »
Posted by Sen on March 13, 2010
This is posted at the request of a friend, and to make the text accessible to search engines.
A Short Historical Survey of the Baha’i Movement in India, Burma, Java Islands, Siam, and Malay Peninsula.
by Siyyid Mustafa Roumie
Published in Star of the West 1931, Vol. 22, in 7 installments
Volume 22. No.3 pages 76-79, June 1931
The Author, one of the leading Baha’is of Mandalay, was in his youth an ardent associate and companion of the great Mirza Jamal Effendi who first brought the Baha’i Message to the countries of southern Asia. These chronicles are both fascinating themselves in the spiritual adventure they narrate, and also invaluable as a history written by one who was an eye witness.
When through the mighty Will of God, His Holiness Baha’u’llah, came out of the terrible prison walls in the fortress of ‘Akka Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in History | Tagged: Bahai Faith, Bahai history, Burma, India, Java Islands, Jelle de Vries, King of Boné, missionary activities, Persians in Asia, Sayyid Mustafa Roumie, Siam, Siyyid Mustafa Rumi, Suluwesi, travelogue, بهائی, بهائیت | 4 Comments »
Posted by Sen on March 6, 2010
The Banu Qurayza were a Jewish tribe in Medina in the time of Muhammad. In 627, when the Meccans brought a great army against Muhammad in Medina, he resolved to meet them in the city itself, which meant that the treaty of Medina would oblige all of the clans in the city – including the Jewish ones – to join in its defence. During their brief and unsuccessful siege (known as the Battle of the Trench), the Meccans apparently negotiated with the Jewish clan of Qurayza within the city, hoping that they would switch sides, and did persuade them to renounce their alliance under the treaty of Medina. Once the Meccans had withdrawn, Muhammad attacked the Qurayza. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Bahai Writings, History, Islam, Translations | Tagged: Baha'u'llah, Bahai Faith, Banu Qurayza, childhood, Medina, Muhammad, prayer for constancy, Sheriff of Medina, قريظه, بهاءالله, بهائی | 12 Comments »
Posted by Sen on February 21, 2010
Abdu’l-Baha’s “last tablet to America” was published in Star of the West and Bahai World Faith. It is a long tablet, and of some historical and doctrinal importance. It deals primarily with the importance of the Bahais shunning “any person in whom they perceive the emanation of hatred for the glorious Beauty of Abha” or “violators” — Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Aqdas and Law, Bahai Writings, Community, Defence of the Faith | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, Bahai, Bahai Faith, covenant-breaker, covenant-breaking, Star of the West, بهائی, عبدالبهاء | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Sen on February 9, 2010
The following description by Mirza Munir Zayn, of the final burial of the Bab’s remains in the Shrine dedicated to him, on Mount Carmel in Israel was published in Star of the West volume 11 page 316 (March 2 1921). In addition to its inherent interest, Zayn’s account is clearly the source of a description of the same event by Shoghi Effendi, Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in History | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, burial, Haifa, Mount Carmel, Shrine of the Bab, The Bab, بهائیت, عبدالبهاء | 3 Comments »
Posted by Sen on February 7, 2010
In the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar at Burnlaw
One of the friends asked about the “Pilgrim’s Hostel” which is mentioned by Shoghi Effendi as one of the “component parts” at the center of a Bahai community. (God Passes By, 339
) Has this become redundant, now that we fly to Israel overnight rather than walking for months to perform our pilgrimmage?
I think the meaning is wider than simply “pilgrim’s hostel.” Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Community | Tagged: Bahai House of Worship, hostels, Mashriqu’l-Adhkar, pilgrimmage, pilgrims, بهائی, بهائیت | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Sen on January 25, 2010
James Tissot, View from the Cross
One of the friends asked about the two, or three, women called Mary in this letter from Abdu’l-Baha:
There is no harm in any affliction which befalleth thee in the love of El-Baha, … Remember the hardships of the disciples, and what Mary, the Virgin; Mary, the Magdalene; and Mary, the mother of Jesus Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Bahai Writings, Theology | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, Bahai Faith, brothers of Jeus, Lesser Peace, Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of James, postmodern theology, Virgin Mary, بهائیت, عبدالبهاء | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Sen on January 1, 2010
A Pilgrim’s note
On Planet Bahai (a very good Bahai discussion forum), I had been arguing that Baha’u’llah’s World Order and the Bahai Administrative Order are two different things, to which the moderator Dale replied,
There is a pilgrim’s note, I forget the origin of it, in which Shoghi Effendi one day asked where authority resides after Baha’u’llah’s ascension….
“‘Abdu’l-Baha,” replied the person to whom he was talking.
“And where,” he then asked, “does authority reside after the Master’s passing?”
“The Guardian,” the other person replied.
“No,” he said. “It resides with the World Order of Baha’u’llah.”
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Church and State | Tagged: Bahai Administrative Order, Bahai World Order, Church and State, Emeric Sala, new world order, Organic unity, pilgrim's notes, political theology, Religion and Politics, Shoghi Effendi, بهائی, بهائیت, شوقی افندی | 2 Comments »
Posted by Sen on December 20, 2009
A friend asked about the ‘days of marriage’ which Abdu’l-Baha referred to in a letter to Alwyn Baker in late 1920. That led me to two letters from Abdu’l-Baha, one of them translated by Shoghi Effendi and available only in an edited form, the other not available in English in Ocean and the other search engines, and containing some remarks on philosophy, evolution and the eternity of creation. And, in the end, I also found out about the ‘days of marriage.’ Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Bahai Writings, Community, History | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, Alwyn Baker, Bahai community, Chicago reading room, eternity of creation, evolution, philosophy, Shoghi Effendi, Star of the West, بهائی, بهائیت, شوقی افندی, عبدالبهاء | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Sen on December 10, 2009
Mirza Hasan Rushdiyh – the father of modern Persian education
(contributed by Ahang Rabbani)
Mirza Hasan was born on 5 July 1851 in Tabriz, which one year earlier had seen the tumult associated with the execution of the Bab and which had emerged as a stronghold of Shaykhi faction of the Twelver Shiites. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in History | Tagged: Constitutional Revolution, education, modernity, Rushdiyh | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Sen on November 25, 2009
An awkward question
Anna’s come a long way – to national television, in fact. She’s being interviewed on her favourite subject: the Bahai Faith. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Bahai Writings, Church and State, Defence of the Faith | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, Anna's presentation, Bahai Faith, bahai theology, Church and State, kingship, NWO, political theology, Shoghi Effendi, بهائی, بهائیت, شوقی افندی | 4 Comments »
Posted by Sen on November 22, 2009
This posting begins by discussing a letter written on behalf of the Guardian, which refers to “the Bahai theocracy” as a divinely ordained system, and goes on from there to address the claims that there is ‘a theocratic undercurrent’ in Shoghi Effendi’s writings, or that he contradicted himself, changed his mind or concealed his real views for reasons of prudence. In addition to the few places where Shoghi Effendi speaks directly on the topic, we can look at the Bahai writings he translated, to see what teachings he thought were central and important for the English-speaking Bahais to understand.
The posting continues by looking at the future renaming of the Assemblies as Houses of Justice, and what Shoghi Effendi says about the role of the Universal House of Justice in the Bahai Commonwealth and in a future superstate, which leads to some considerations regarding the role of an established religion, or state religion, in a society. Another section looks at a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi which says that, one day, “the Bahais will be called upon to assume the reins of government,” and at another letter on behalf of Shoghi Effendi that speaks of the International Tribunal and Court of Arbitration being merged in the Universal House of Justice. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Church and State, Defence of the Faith | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'u'lah, Bahai Commonwealth, Bahai theocracy, Bernard Leach, Church and State, commonwealth of nations, establishment of religion, House of Justice, International Tribunal, John Robarts, non-involvement in politics, pilgrim's notes, Shoghi Effendi, Spiritual Assembly, William Miller, World Order of Baha'u'llah, بهایی, شوقی افندی, عبدالبهاء | 20 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, Shoghi Effendi, Supreme Tribunal, Tablet to the Hague, The Art of Governance, Will and Testament, بهائیت, شوقی افندی, عبدالبهاء | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Sen on October 16, 2009
One of the friends said:
Long ago I picked up a supposed quote from the Bab, “The mystery of sacrifice is there is no sacrifice.” Now I can’t find a source. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Community | Tagged: Bahai Faith, Bahai lore, Louise Waite, Mystery of sacrifice, Seals & Crofts, بهائی, بهائیت | 2 Comments »
Posted by Sen on October 12, 2009
In a discussion group, one of the participants recalled that Shoghi Effendi had said that the requirement for appointment as a Hand of the Cause was “instant, exact and complete obedience.” It’s a familiar phrase in Bahai discourse, but is it from the words of Shoghi Effendi? Is it about the Hands of the Cause?
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Community | Tagged: Bahai Faith, Bahai lore, Bahais, Hands of the Cause, Helene Blavatsky, Obedience, Shoghi Effendi, theosophists, بهائی, بهائیت, شوقی افندی | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Sen on October 6, 2009
In a conversation with a friend about the translation of the 8th Ishraq (discussed here), I realised that he thought the whole question of the Bahai teachings on church and state hinged in some way on doubtful matters: on the translation of the Ishraqat, on whether the words “the consummate union and blending of church and state” had been interpolated into a report of Abdu’l-Baha’s words, (See the entry ‘A consummate union’), and such like.
Nothing could be further from the truth: Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Church and State, Theology | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'u'llah, bahai theology, Church and State, Kitab-i Iqan, kitab-i-aqdas, monarchy, Quran, render to Caesar, Resaleh-ye Siyasiyyeh, separation of church and state, Shoghi Effendi, spiritual sovereignty, The Bab, بهائی, بهائیت, شوقی افندی | 2 Comments »
Posted by Sen on September 15, 2009
Abdu’l-Baha and his critics
You can ‘prove’ just about anything, by pulling words out of context. A few years ago there was an example of this tactic on a web site opposing the Bahai teachings, called ‘Answering Bahaullah.’ One page there purported to show examples of racism in Bahai scripture. That site is no longer functioning, although the web archive has a copy, but the material from that page is being recycled by various bloggers and has been reproduced in the ‘Bahai Combat Kit’ at page 73 (image later in this entry).
So let’s look at these “proofs” of racism in the Bahai scriptures. But first let’s look at Abdu’l-Baha. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Bahai Writings, Defence of the Faith, Translations | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, Africa, Africans, Bahai Combat Kit, Contextual reading, Convention for Race Amity, Louis Gregory, NAACP, racism, Rousseau, Some Answered Questions, state of nature, بهائی, بهائیت, عبدالبهاء | 43 Comments »
Posted by Sen on June 28, 2009
While Ayatollah Khomeini was in exile in Najaf in 1970, he said:
This slogan of the separation of religion and politics and the demand that Islamic scholars not intervene in social and political affairs has been formulated and propagated by the imperialists; it is only the irreligious who repeat them. Were religion and politics separate in the time of the Prophet? Did there exist on one side a group of clerics, and opposite it, a group of politicians and leaders? (As cited by Nader Hashemi)
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Church and State, Islam | Tagged: Church and State, jihad, Khomeini, Medina, Muhammad, Qurayza, مهمد در مدینت, بـهاءالله, بهائی, بهائیت | 4 Comments »
Posted by Sen on May 27, 2009
from Remey, 'Observations' 1908
I’ve been looking again at an old claim that Abdu’l-Baha’s Will and Testament
was not written by Abdu’l-Baha, that it was ‘fraudulent.’ This claim is the foundation for two small Bahai splinter groups that reject the institution of the Guardianship (established by Abdu’l-Baha in his Will and Testament
), and it has also been propagated in Germany in anti-Bahai polemics published by the Lutheran ‘Central Office for Questions of Ideology’ (EZW). In looking through the documents, I’ve noticed something that doesn’t seem to have been commented on in the past.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Bahai Writings, History, Polemics | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, Ainsworth Mitchell, Guardianship, handwriting analysis, Will and Testament, بهائی, بهائیت, عبدالبهاء | 27 Comments »
Posted by Sen on May 11, 2009
This posting points out that there is a clear procedure for the appointment of a legitimate Guardian of the Bahai Faith, and none of the claimants satisfy it. Therefore, all the past claimants and present hopefuls are counterfeit.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Aqdas and Law, Defence of the Faith | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, Guardianship, Hands of the Cause, hermeneutics, Mason Remey, secret ballot, Will and Testament, بهائی, بهائیت, عبدالبهاء | 10 Comments »
Posted by Sen on May 4, 2009
The Bahai Encyclopaedia Project has begun to put up a selection of online articles. As of today, there are 21 articles online, so it is just a small beginning. Two are classified under “teachings and laws,” but one of these is misfiled: it is on the Letters of the Living and belongs in the history category. That leaves one article on the Bahai teachings, the one entitled ‘children.’
Looking down this article, I was surprised to see that even where better sources are easily available, it draws extensively on The Promulgation of Universal Peace, which is not an authentic source. In a footnote to the footnotes the Encyclopaedia editors even list Promulgation of Universal Peace among ‘scripture and other authoritative texts.’ The author and editor are clearly not aware of source-critical issues, which is not a promising start for such a project.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Bahai Writings, Community | Tagged: Bahai Encyclopaedia, Bahai scholarship, Bahai Studies, Howard MacNutt, Joseph Hannen, new paradigm, pilgrim's notes, Promulgation of Universal Peace, source criticism, Star of the West, بهائیت | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Sen on April 26, 2009
One of the friends said:
… an elderly lady once told me that Shoghi Effendi had said that the earth would “fall off its axis and spin wildly for three days”… well, I’ve searched and searched for anything even close…
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Bahai Writings, Community, Translations | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, Ahmad Sohrab, Apocalypticism, Bahai Faith, Bahai lore, causes of World War I, militarism, polar shift, Ruth Moffet, Star of the West, survivalism, World War 1, WWI, بهائی, بهائیت | 2 Comments »
Posted by Sen on April 18, 2009
Bahais have been frequent participants in inter-faith fora, and like all the participants we need to work out what our basic stance is: are we there to protect our interests and have our say; are we counting the other participants as anonymous Bahais and including them into our project; are we there to show what we have to offer that other religions do not have, and so win converts?
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Community, Islam, Theology | Tagged: Bahai Faith, ecumenicism, future of Christianity, interfaith, prayer for Islam, Rodney Stark, بهائی, بهائیت | 8 Comments »
Posted by Sen on April 11, 2009
I happened recently to be reading the wikipedia page for the Bahai Calendar and noted that it said “Like Islam, Friday is also the day of rest in the Baha’i Faith.”
That’s not true for Islam: Friday is the day on which attendance at the congregational prayers at noon in the mosque is obligatory for those Muslims who are able, but it is not a ‘day of rest’ in Islam. But what about the Bahai Faith? We do not say our obligatory prayers in congregation (although we may say them, each for himself, during the Mashriqu’l-Adhkar service, but that is another story). Do we have a day of rest, as the wikipedia article says?
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Aqdas and Law, Bahai Writings, Community, Devotions, Translations | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, Aqdas, Badi` Calendar, Baha'i calendar, Baha'u'llah, Bahai Faith, bahai theology, Bayan, day of rest, dhikr, Friday prayers, Gerald Keil, Mason Remey, remembrance of God, sabbath, Sunday, The Bab, بـهاءالله, بهائی, بهائیت, عبدالبهاء | 10 Comments »
Posted by Sen on March 21, 2009
Is civilization to be ‘ever-advancing,’ or is it limited to moderation?
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Bahai Writings, Ethics and Morality, Translations | Tagged: Baha'u'llah, Civilization, Lawh-e Maqsuud, qanat, Shoghi Effendi, urbanisation, بـهاءالله, بهائی, بهائیت, شوقی افندی | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Sen on March 8, 2009
In a discussion on this blog, I referred briefly to Rodney Stark’s work on the dynamics of religious growth. Stark is primarily a sociologist, whose contribution to church history is to employ the statistical and analytic methods used in sociology. His book, The Rise of Christianity (1996, Princeton University Press) deals roughly speaking with the first three centuries of Christianity, and the first century of Mormonism, and offers a lot of food for thought for the Bahais.
Stark begins by estimating that there were 1000 Christians in the Roman Empire in the year 40. He notes that in the middle of the third century, Christians were by their own account few in number (p.5), but by the year 300 there were about 5 to 7.5 million Christians: so numerous that a few years later Constantine found it expedient to embrace the church. This has led the church in its own histories, and some scholars, to suppose that there was a mass conversion event in the late third century. But constant growth of 40% per decade, or 3.42% per year, is enough to explain these results: no mass conversion event is required. This is the same growth picture that Stark had found in his previous work on the Mormon church, which has grown hugely in 100 years without mass conversions, and it is supported by the archaeological evidence of church building sizes.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Community | Tagged: Bahai, Bahai Faith, Benton Johnson, conservative theology, Constantine, devotional meetings, entry by troops, Hoge, Lesser Peace, liberal theology, Luidens, mass conversion, Moonies, Mormons, Rodney Stark, Ruhi, The Rise of Christianity, triumphalism, Vanishing Boundaries, بهائی, بهائیت | 6 Comments »
Posted by Sen on February 28, 2009
We had a potluck for yummy-ha, with pecan pie. It was followed by imaginative and effective musical devotions: first all learning to sing a simple prayer with variants, and then all humming that tune while some short readings were read slooowly, the spoken phrases matching the musical phrases.
Since the potluck took place at the day and home which regularly hosts a Ruhi circle, the devotions flowed straight on to a Ruhi session, Book 1 Chapter 2, on Prayer. The first words of the chapter are “Abdu’l-Baha says that prayer is conversation with God.” No source was given. This part of the Ruhi book raises a lot of questions, and questions are always good.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Community, Devotions, Theology | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'u'llah, Baha'u'llah and the New Era, Bahai Faith, Bahai lore, Devotions, Esslemont, Laura Barney, Mirza Ahmad Sohrab, Mirza Sohrab's Diary, phatic, pilgrim's notes, prayer, Ruhi book 1, Star of the West, Tablet of Tarazat, The Divine Art of Living | 2 Comments »
Posted by Sen on February 17, 2009
It has been my experience that Bahais often become discouraged as a result of having unrealistic expectations of what is called entry by troops (EBT) and large scale conversion. I would like to look again at what the Bahai scriptures say about this, and at how Shoghi Effendi conceived the historical process of growth. The little that the scriptures say suggests to me that its importance has been over-rated, and that the time-frame of entry by troops, its nature, and how the Bahais can bring it about have all been misunderstood. From my reading of the world and of the scriptures, I suggest that we should not now be greatly preoccupied with entry by troops or large scale conversion: a concern with the needs of the age we live in, and the needs of our Bahai communities today, will indicate healthier, locally-specific priorities which – ironically – will be more conducive to actual ‘growth’ in every sense. We will start by briefly looking back over the last two generations.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Community, Ethics and Morality | Tagged: Bahai Faith, bahai theology, entry by troops, Lesser Peace, mass conversion, Matthew 16:3, millenialism, personal transformation, Shoghi Effendi, y2k, year 2000, بهائی, بهائیت, شوقی افندی | 7 Comments »
Posted by Sen on February 6, 2009
Amended April 3, 2011
The Bahai community has a tendency to get carried away with its enthusiasms for prophecies that supposedly give an insight into the immediate future. I’ve discussed one of these in Century’s end, about the expectation that “unity of nations” would be achieved by the year 2000. The story this time goes back to the beginning of the 20th century, when the Bahais were waiting for cataclysms to strike in 1917, followed by a world at peace in which “all nations shall be as one faith.”
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Community, Defence of the Faith, Theology | Tagged: 1335 days, 1917, Abdu'l-Baha, Alma Knobloch, Armageddon, Baha'u'llah and the New Era, Bahai Faith, Bahai prophecies, Barstow Collection, Corinne True, Daniel 12:11, Daniel 12:12, EG Browne, Esselmont, failed prophecy, Fanny Knobloch, Fred Mortensen, George Latimer, Hotel Sacramento, Howard MacNutt, Jean Masson, Kheiralla, Most Great Peace, North Shore Review, pilgrim's notes, qarn, Quran 3:4, Randall, San Francisco Bulletin, Shoghi Effendi, Some Answered Questions, source criticism, Stanford University, Star of the West, textual criticism, World War I, بهائی, بهائیت, شوقی افندی, عبدالبهاء | 9 Comments »
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 January 25, 2009
I was in the bazaar of Shiraz one morning early, just after sunrise in April. The sound of a sermon drew me off the main route through the bazaar: the mullah’s voice rising and falling in beautiful rhythmical Persian.
I followed the sound and came into a courtyard with shops on two floors around, and in the middle a garden with some orange trees. It appeared to be a former madrasah converted into shops. In one corner sat the mullah on a chair, rocking back and forth and gesturing left and right in time with the rhythms of the language, all built up of pairs of synonym phrases. Either he had it entirely memorised, or this was highly polished extempore art like rapping.
In front of him a cloth of perhaps 10 metres square was spread out on the ground, and about 25 merchants were sitting around the edges of the cloth, eating cucumber and flat white bread and white cheese, and drinking tea. Several of them gestured me to come and sit at an empty place, and one who made it his business to serve the others brought me some food and tea. I noticed, a little bit further away, under one of the orange trees, that there were two women also sitting on a cloth. The sermon was interrupted with some munajat, responses from the merchants, then more rhythmic Persian by way of conclusion. Then the mullah looks at his watch, jumps up, bows left and right and hurries off. I suppose it lasted 30 minutes, but I was hardly aware of time passing.
The shopkeepers fell to gossiping, and then went off one by one to raise the shutters on their shops.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Church and State, Devotions, Islam | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, Bahai Faith, Christ, Christianity, Church and State, Future of Islam, Future of religion, Iran, Islam, secular state, Shiraz, Some Answered Questions, بهائیت, عبدالبهاء | 2 Comments »
Posted by Sen on January 21, 2009
Now concerning nature, it is but the essential properties and the necessary relations inherent in the realities of things. And though these infinite realities are diverse in their character yet they are in the utmost harmony and closely connected together. As one’s vision is broadened and the matter observed carefully, it will be made certain that every reality is but an essential requisite of other realities. Thus to connect and harmonize these diverse and infinite realities an all-unifying Power is necessary, that every part of existent being may in perfect order discharge its own function.
(Abdu’l-Baha, Tablet to August Forel, pages 20-21)
In a letter dated 7 April 1999 the Universal House of Justice warns among other things of an “attempt to suggest that the Mashriqu’l-Adhkar should evolve into a seat of quasidoctrinal authority, parallel to and essentially independent of the Local House of Justice.” Although I am not aware that this idea has ever been put forward in the English-speaking Bahai world, the letter may be taken as evidence that it has or may emerge somewhere. So it seems a good idea to consider the relationship between the Mashriqu’l-Adhkar or House of Worship and the Houses of Justice (i.e., the Bahai administrative institutions, which at the local and national level are now known as Spiritual Assemblies). To understand the institutional relations at the core of the organic Bahai community, we will also have to include the guardianship.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Community, Devotions, Theology | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, Administrative Order, August Forel, Bahai, Bahai community, doctrine, Guardianship, Haziratu’l-Quds, House of Justice, House of Worship, Mashriqu’l-Adhkar, Organic unity, quasidoctrinal, Shoghi Effendi, twoness, بهائیت, شوقی افندی, عبدالبهاء | 1 Comment »
Posted by Sen on January 15, 2009
In Century’s end, I showed that Bahais of my generation widely expected universal peace to arrive in the twentieth century. Some of the texts on which this belief was based did not refer to the twentieth century; others did refer to the twentieth century or dates in the 20th century, but were pilgrims’ notes. There may be more, but I have found five such unauthentic sources:
– The Maxwell’s pilgrim’s notes, anticipating the Lesser Peace by 1953.
– Esselmont’s pilgrim’s notes, in the first edition of Baha’u’llah and the New Era, anticipating universal peace by 1957. As Dan Jensen has pointed out, the 1950 edition changed the date to 1963, but it is still just a pilgrim’s note, and universal peace was also not achieved in 1963.
– Sarah Kenny’s Haifa notes anticipating the Lesser Peace in the 20th century.
– A report in the Montreal Star on September 11, 1912, printed in Abdu’l-Baha in Canada p. 35, saying that peace would be universal in the 20th century.
– A talk reported in The Promulgation of Universal Peace page 126, and in Star of the West 3.8.14, calling the twentieth century the century of international peace.
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Posted in Bahai Writings, Community, Theology, Translations | Tagged: 7 candles, Abdu'l-Baha, Alexander Whyte, Baha'u'llah, Bahai, Bahai Faith, bahai theology, century, century of light, election, Esselmont, failed prophecy, Isaiah 11:9, Lesser Peace, pilgrim's notes, qarn, Sarah Kenny, Seven Candles of Unity, Shoghi Effendi, Some Answered Questions, The Promised Day is Come, twentieth century, unity of nations, Universal House of Justice, World Order of Baha'u'llah, `asr, بهائیت, شوقی افندی, عبدالبهاء | 13 Comments »
Posted by Sen on January 12, 2009
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 1 Corinthians 13:11
The word ‘century’ appears unproblematic: a period of a hundred years, which in common usage begins with the year 00 (although sticklers will insist that the century begins in the year 01, so that the 21st century began on 1 January 2001). But in reading the Bahai texts, things are not so simple. In this post I want to look at the peculiar significance Bahais have mistakenly attached to the 20th century and what can be learned from the whole affair; in the next posting I will look at what the Bahai writings really say about the ‘century’ (not the 20th century).
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Posted in Community, Theology | Tagged: 1 Corinthians 13:11, 20th century, 7 candles of unity, Adib Taherzadeh, Bahai Faith, Bahai lore, bahai theology, golden calf, Kheirella, Lesser Peace, millennium, Paris Talks, pilgrim's notes, Promulgation of Universal Peace, Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha'u'llah, twentieth century, Universal House of Justice, world unity, y2k, بهائیت, شوقی افندی, عبدالبهاء | 32 Comments »
Posted by Sen on January 5, 2009
One of the friends asked:
What is the ideal future envisioned in Baha’i religion? Is it a global order in which the world is composed of many diverse religions, each tolerant of one another, and the Baha’i just one amongst many? Or would the Baha’i be the organizing principle?
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Posted in Islam, Theology | Tagged: A Traveller's Narrative, Abdu'l-Baha, Bahai, Bahai Faith, bahai theology, Christianity, ecumenicism, Islam, Judaism, new world order, postmodern theology, religious diversity, religious pluralism, religious tolerance, Secret of Divine Civilization, Shoghi Effendi, بهائیت, شوقی افندی | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Sen on December 30, 2008
In Shoghi Effendi’s 1934 letter ‘The Dispensation of Baha’u’llah,’ there’s a well-known paragraph in which he says that “the Guardian of the Faith has been made the Interpreter of the Word and that the Universal House of Justice has been invested with the function of legislating …”. I want to look at the paragraph after that, which deals with the fact that the Guardian is a member of the House of Justice; so that while the spheres of the two institutions are distinct, their memberships overlap. How would that work, with the Guardian or his representative in the room, while the House of Justice was making its decisions?
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Posted in Community, Theology | Tagged: Bahai, bahai theology, Guardian, House of Justice, infallibility, interpreation and legislation, literature review, Mark 2:27, Organic unity, Remeyites, right of self-expression, sabbath, separation of powers, Shoghi Effendi, The Dispensation of Baha’u’llah, twin spheres, `ismat, بهائیت, شوقی افندی | 3 Comments »
Posted by Sen on December 25, 2008
[Revised March 2016]
Did a regiment of 750 musketmen line up to execute the Bab, in a barracks square in Tabriz, and all miss their target? Early accounts, and those closest to Tabriz, do not say that a whole regiment, or 750 men specifically, constituted the firing squad. Later reports, in the Bahai Writings, do say this. Here’s how Abdu’l-Baha tells the story:
By one rope the Báb was suspended and by the other rope Aqa Muhammad-‘Ali, both being firmly bound in such wise that the head of that young man was on the Báb’s breast. The surrounding housetops billowed with teeming crowds. A regiment of soldiers ranged itself in three files. The first file fired; then the second file, and then the third file discharged volleys. From the fire of these volleys a mighty smoke was produced. When the smoke cleared away they saw that young man standing and the Báb seated by the side of His amanuensis Aqa Siyyid Husayn in the very cell from the staircase of which they had suspended them. To neither one of them had the slightest injury resulted.
(Abdu’l-Baha, A Traveller’s Narrative, p. 26-7)
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Posted in Community, History | Tagged: A Traveller's Narrative, Abdu'l-Baha, Bahai Faith, Dawnbreakers, Kazem Beg, miracles, muskets, Shoghi Effendi, Tabriz, بهائیت, شوقی افندی | 27 Comments »
Posted by Sen on December 20, 2008
I have a lovely story to share, told to me by Brent Poirier and shared with his permission. He heard it around 1980 from Inez Greeven, whose sister was India Haggarty, the subject of our story. India Haggarty was a Bahai living in Paris in 1931. I will let Brent tell the story:
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Posted in Community | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, Bahai, Bahai Faith, Bahai lore, Brent Poirier, creativity, doors of perception, dreams, India Haggarty, Inez Greeven, inspiration in dreams, بهائیت, عبدالبهاء | 2 Comments »
Posted by Sen on December 16, 2008
Older Bahais, like me, will have noticed a new way of referring to the Universal House of Justice, as “the supreme institution.” I think I first noticed people saying this about 1985. In Anna’s Presentation we find “We have already spoken about the supreme institution, which is the Universal House of Justice…”. Paul Lample, in his Preface to A Wider Horizon, Selected Letters [of the Universal House of Justice] refers to “a continuous flow of guidance that comes from the Supreme Body.”
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Posted in Community | Tagged: Ahmadiyya, Anna’s Presentation, Bahai, Bahai Faith, constitutional monarchy, covenant, doctrinal exaggeration, Guardian, International Teaching Centre, NRMs, Paul Lample, Shoghi Effendi, The Supreme Body, Universal House of Justice, بهائی, بهائیت, شوقی افندی | 5 Comments »
Posted by Sen on December 10, 2008
In thinking about the future of the world, and of the Bahai community, and in speaking about them, we need to distinguish between the two uses of ‘commonwealth’ : the commonwealth of nations and the Bahai Commonwealth. If we do not, governments are likely to be misled and alarmed, thinking that there is something political or governmental about this ‘Bahai Commonwealth’ Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Church and State | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'u'llah, Bahai, Bahai Commonwealth, federalism, Organic unity, political theology, Shoghi Effendi, world government, World Order of Baha'u'llah, بهائی, شوقی افندی | 6 Comments »
Posted by Sen on December 5, 2008
Schools must first train the children in the principles of religion, so that the Promise and the Threat recorded in the Books of God may prevent them from the things forbidden and adorn them with the mantle of the commandments; but this in such a measure that it may not injure the children by resulting in ignorant fanaticism and bigotry.
(Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 68)
Promise and Threat, or reward and punishment, is one of those basic dynamics that acts out at several levels. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Community, Ethics and Morality | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'u'llah, Bahai, Bahai Faith, religion in schools, reward and punishment, بـهاءالله, بهائی, بهائیت, عبدالبهاء | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Sen on December 2, 2008
A person investigating the Bahai Faith had encountered theocratic ideas among the Bahais she met, and asked if these were correct, and where they came from. But in fact, she seemed to know already that these ideas must be wrong. She wrote:
> I have to say that the idea of a one-world government run by a
> religious institution of any sort whatsoever, is what I can only
> call a total nightmare. I cannot believe for one second that this
> is what Bahaullah envisaged,
She was quite right. This is certainly not what Baha’u’llah envisioned!
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Posted in Church and State, History | Tagged: A Traveler's Narrative, Abdu'l-Baha, Bahai, Bahai Faith, Bahai lore, bahai theology, Church and State, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, Hippolyte Dreyfus, Horace Holley, Kitab-i Iqan, Luke 20:20-26, Mark 12:13-17, Matt. 22:15-22, millenialism, one-world government, render to Caesar, Risaleh-ye Siyasiyyah, Shoghi Effendi, Supreme Tribunal, The Art of Governance, The Promised Day is Come, theocracy, Universal House of Justice, World Order of Baha'u'llah, بهائیت, شوقی افندی, عبدالبهاء | 18 Comments »
Posted by Sen on November 30, 2008
… i like this girl and she likes me.. my faith is bahai … she is a very strong christian. and she takes the bible very seriously, and i respect that of her, but in the bible there is a verse that says jesus is the only way to heaven, and in another it says a christian shouldn’t get involved with someone non- christian…
there in lies my problem. and she won’t go out with me until i’ve changed my mind about christ and the bible.. now we did go on a date and it went good, but in her and my art class together i got in an argument over my beliefs with her and half of the class today. let alone this wasn’t bad enough she decided not to date me until i’ve changed…
i will not change my beliefs for her. but is there any way one of you could give me some very convincing verses from the bible, or better yet some strong proof to why bahaism is better..
i need a lot of help with this one, i like her a lot and she likes me, but our strengths in our religious beliefs are getting in the way and we both tend to be stubborn, and i don’t want to see someone as amazing as her just leave me…
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Posted in Community | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, Arguing about religion, Bahai, Bahai Faith, Christianity, John 10:16, Star crossed lovers, twoness, بهائی, بهائیت | 2 Comments »
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?
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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 | 5 Comments »
Posted by Sen on November 21, 2008
In a discussion, I was asked: “You state that separation of church and state is principle in Islam. Could you explain that a bit more?”
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Posted in Church and State, Islam | Tagged: at-taghut, Baha'u'llah, Bahai, Bahai Faith, Church and State, David, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'lah, Islam, Joseph, Kings and rulers, Kitab-e Aqdas, kitab-i-aqdas, Lawh-e Ashraf, Mecca, Medina, Moses, Muhammad, Muhammad Abduh, no compulsion in religion, Pharoah, Quran, Sen McGlinn, Solomon, Surah-ye Bayan, twin seas | 16 Comments »
Posted by Sen on November 18, 2008
A poster used to advertise a thanksgiving mass
In a discussion forum, a Baha’i participant said,
“Baha’is do not join the military, except as non-combatants”
To which the response was:
“That really limits how many Bahais a Nation can have!”
But is it really a Bahai teaching that we should not serve as combatants, or is this just current practice? Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Ethics and Morality | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, Bahai, Bahai Faith, collective security, conscientious objection, Custodians, Darfur, Ethics and Morality, Hands of the Cause, holocaust, Jalal Khazeh, just war, Mai Pederson, military service, Nazi Germany, non-combatant status, Shoghi Effendi, Shu'a'llah 'Alai, Some Answered Questions, Srebrenica massacre, The Art of Governance, world peace, بهائیت, شوقی افندی | 8 Comments »
Posted by Sen on November 14, 2008
There is a delightful story – which I have reason to think is true, in broad lines at least — about the martyr and Hand of the Cause Mirza `Ali-Muhammad Varqa (Grandfather of the Hand of the Cause of the same name who died in 2007). Mr. Varqa made the pilgrimage to the Holy Land during the lifetime of Baha’u’llah. He found himself with fellow pilgrims in the presence of the Manifestation. He watched as Baha’u’llah spoke to the gathering, and thought to himself, “How fortunate I am! To have recognized the Manifestation of God for this Day, and to be in His very presence!”
Then he thought to himself, “I believe that He is the Manifestation of God. But I want to really believe. What could Baha’u’llah do, that would make me know beyond all doubt that He is the Manifestation of God?”
He thought for a time, and then thought, “I have always wondered about the verse in the Holy Qur’an, where it says that Noah brought the animals into the Ark in pairs. This can’t mean a pair of giraffes and a pair of gnats. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Church and State, Community | Tagged: Baha'u'lah, Bahai, Church and State, communism, disciples in pairs, dualism, fascism, fundamentalism, Hand of the Cause, Mark 6:6-13, nationalism, Noah's ark, ontological dualism, ontological pluralims, Organic unity, postmodernism, Quran 36:36, Shoghi Effendi, twoness, `Ali-Muhammad Varqa, بهائی, بهائیت, شوقی افندی | 1 Comment »
Posted by Sen on November 7, 2008
In many Christian churches, and in Sunni Islam in particular, prayers for the ruler or government are a routine part of collective worship. Bahais too are told to pray for their rulers. But we do not seem to be comfortable with it: how often is a prayer for the government part of a Baha’i meeting? Perhaps some background will help.
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Posted in Church and State, Community, Devotions | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'u'llah, Bahai, Church and State, Majlisi, prayer for government, Religion and Politics, Sen McGlinn, بهائی, بهائیت | 1 Comment »
Posted by Sen on October 20, 2008
I’ve been reading Paul Lample’s “Learning and the Evolution of the Bahá’í Community.” From page 15, he presents various possible roles for the “learned Bahai” in the Bahai community, saying among other things that learned Baha’i is not an “artist”, and concluding “Perhaps the learned Baha’i is more like the ‘scout’ who helps to guide an expedition on a journey into unexplored territory.” I found it striking that he did not mention the possibility that the learned Bahai could be a servant, someone who uses knowledge to minister to the faithful.
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Posted in Community, Theology | Tagged: Baha'u'llah, Bahai, Bahai scholarship, bahai theology, Community, creative theology, creativity, evolution, learned Bahai, learning, Paul Lample, postmodern, postmodern theology, scholar, scholar as archaeologist, scholar as artist, scholar as scout, scholar as servant, scholars, scholarship, Sen McGlinn, بهائیت | 6 Comments »