Divorced from the institution of the Guardianship the World Order of Baha’u’lláh would be mutilated and permanently deprived of that hereditary principle which, as `Abdu’l-Bahá has written, has been invariably upheld by the Law of God.
The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 148.
Several responses can me made in defense of of the authority of the UHJ:
1.The Guardianship still exists functionally.
2.The fact that there was one Guardian should be enough for all time.
3.`Abdu’l-Bahá declared the UHJ to be an infallible institution without mentioning the Guardianship.
A. Is the Guardianship functionally intact?
The Guardian provided the essential role of official interpreter. Who among the Guardianship-without-a-Guardian performs this service? The answer is, of course, that the UHJ does it, and quite often. Is the UHJ authorized, infallible or not, to legitimize itself by coughing up convenient translations of excerpts in the nick of time and saying, “see, this passage is saying this, that, and the other”?
How does the UHJ propose to put forward official translations of scripture without possessing the title of interpreter? Isn’t translation all about interpretation?
It’s one thing to suggest that the UHJ can perform its function without a Guardian while the Guardian is coming of age (as it would have had to do had it been elected while Shoghi Effendi was a boy). It’s another thing entirely to suggest that the UHJ can do its job unerringly without the slightest hope of ever having an unerring interpreter again.
B. Was one Guardian enough?
And to those who propose the job of Guardian was completed by Shoghi Effendi: how could the job be done without a Guardian-endorsed translation of the Most Holy Book, especially when such variations in translation as we have mentioned arise?
The reason why the Guardianship is critical to the Bahá’í Covenant is plain as day: the responsibility of authoritative interpretation rests entirely on the shoulders of the Guardian. `Abdu’l-Bahá didn’t always spell it out for everyone; Shoghi Effendi should not have had to explain it, but I suppose it’s a good thing that he did.
As things stand, there is no Guardian, so there is no final judicial authority in the Bahá’í administration. Nor is there an executive. Nonetheless, nature abhors a vacuum, and power will be awarded to those that fill the void, so we have an infallible UHJ with executive and interpretive authority. Who is there to contest with them? There is no separation of powers, no checks and balances, and no dissent.
C. Is the UHJ Infallible without a Guardian?
If one bases one’s response to this question on the writings of the Bahá’í Faith previous to the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the answer, I think, would be a qualified yes.
The Guardianship: whose idea was it?
Truth be told, I’m not convinced that Bahá’u’lláh ever had any idea that there would be an institution like the Guardianship. His writings point to the House of Justice (HJ) as a divinely inspired—if not unerring—institution, but he says nothing to even imply the functions of the Guardianship. He doesn’t even command his heirs to continue a line of inheritence-based leadership. Rather, he seems to think the HJ would suffice. The credit for conceiving the Guardianship ought to go to his son Abbas Effendi (unless the latter’s will and testament was, as some have maintained, a forgery), and Shoghi Effendi ought to get credit for laying out the concept in more detail.
It turned out that the Guardianship was plagued by the same family rivalries that infested the leadership of Bahá’u’lláh and `Abdu’l-Bahá. Perhaps Bahá’u’lláh was trying to move toward a more republican—if not infallible—system.
This was not the only big change that `Abdu’l-Bahá ever made in the name of interpretation (monogamy being an obvious example), if indeed it was his idea.
To summarize, putting aside `Abdu’l-Bahá’s Will & Testament and the statements of Shoghi Effendi, one can conclude that the UHJ is indeed to be regarded as divinely inspired, and authoritative except in the domain of worship. However, if we admit those two sources, then we must consider the doubts raised by statements expressing the necessity of having a Guardian to act as interpreter and chair of the UHJ.
Bahá’u’lláh is said to have written the Kitáb-i-Aqdas in 1873, or perhaps several years earlier. This was relatively early in his ministry, so much was added or amended afterward, but the Aqdas stands as the book that Bahá’u’lláh intended to serve as the foundation of his scriptures. The Aqdas, when viewed with its Islamic, Shi’i, Iranian, and Bayanic origins in mind, presents very little original material, and is hence a very traditional book in the Shi’i style, and it contains much that western Bahá’ís and non-Bahá’ís might find hard to swollow. It is therefore no surprise that the Bahá’í authorities did not complete an authoritative English translation until 120 years after its release in Arabic. Its release in English, along with the advent of the Internet, preceeded a surge in fundamentalism in the previously liberal western Bahá’í community.
First and foremost, the Twin Duties assigned by the Aqdas to all men are (1) belief in Bahá’u’lláh and (2) obedience to his laws and ordinances. ¶1 The Aqdas states quite clearly that good deeds—without satisfying these two duties—are worthless. This fundamentalist doctrine of salvation leaves no room for the unbeliever and those who cannot manage to live by the entirety of Bahá’u’lláh’s rules and regulations, which are—as well shall soon see—quite hard to swallow hole. The Bahá’í community, in fact, does not follow many of the directives of the Aqdas, though they claim they will one day when mankind has reached a sufficient level of maturity.
There are certainly passages in Bahá’í scripture that exhibit tolerance of the unbeliever, but there are certainly passages that exhibit a less than complimentary attitude:
The peoples of the world are fast asleep. … So bewildered are they in the drunkenness of their evil desires, that they are powerless to recognize the Lord of all being, Whose voice calleth aloud from every direction … ¶39
One of the most striking characteristics of the Aqdas, especially in light of the fact that such gravity is given to its laws and ordinances, is that a number of important issues are omitted while several less important topics are addressed in great technical detail. What the Aqdas chooses to address appears to follow the pattern of Islamic tradition and Bábí law more than issues that concern modern civilazation. Indeed, the Aqdas itself indicates that Bahá’u’lláh wrote the Aqdas to appease the many contemporary Bahá’ís who saw great importance in addressing Islamic law. ¶98
It is not enough to say that the Aqdas endorses capital punishment. In many parts of the world where capital punishment is used, it is reserved for extreme crimes. In the Aqdas, the application of capital punishment is more straightforward: if one kills (with intent), one is to be killed. ¶62
Even stronger is the punishment for arson, which appears to be the equivalent of burning at the stake. ¶62 Not to imply that arson is not a dreadfully serious crime, but isn’t that a bit cruel and unusual? Is there no other crime that calls for a punishment of proportionate cruelty?
Unfair Penalties and Allotments
Though Bahá’u’lláh dealt with a handful of topics in great detail, his handling of these topics left something to be desired with regard to fairness.
One example of this are the flat monetary fines applied to fornication ¶49 and manslaughter ¶188 and flat amounts assigned to dowries ¶66: did it ever occur to Bahá’u’lláh that this approach favors the wealthy? It has the effect of making fornication and manslaughter similarly minor offenses for those who can easily part with a little gold.
I have, on occasion, stopped to wonder how a modern criminal court system might be served by the additional load of fornication cases. I also wonder how people might come to be accused of fornication. It’s good for a laugh or two.
Manslaughter is treated as a civil offense for which the blood money is set to about 11 troy oz. of gold. The fine for first offense adultery is about an ounce.
Marriage and Inheritance
The passages of the Aqdas on marriage ¶63-70 are noticeably gender-biased. Men are permitted to have two wives ¶63 (`Abdu’l-Bahá later abrogated this allowance of bigamy). Men are presumed to be the sole bread winners, so no consideration is given to the likelihood that a woman might work ¶67. Whereas adultery is considered to be an offense that men and women can commit ¶49, divorce appears to be justifiable by female adultery only, for, in keeping with Islamic tradition, divorce is not a two-way street: the man divorces the wife; not the other way around. ¶68.
EXTRACTS FROM EDWARD. G. BROWNE’s -“MATERIALS FOR THE STUDY OF THE BABI RELIGION” ..
ABDUL BAHA ASKS MIRZA MANSUR TO KILL MIRZA YAHYA
“One of the followers of ‘Abbas Efendi named Mirza Mansur, who is now in India, was therefore commanded by his master to proceed at once to Jedda and there conspire with the Hajji above mentioned for the destruction of .Mirza Yahya. At that time the said Hajji was also at ‘Akka, But whether the plot was concocted there or .at Jedda I am unable to say. To be brief, one night Mirza Mansur succeeded in administering to Mirza Yahya a poison which killed him at once. The subtlety of this plot lay in the perpetration of this horrid deed in such a city as Jedda 1.
“Before the conspiracy had accomplished its purpose, Abbas Efendi had written from ‘Akka to one of his friends informing him that some such calamity would befall Mirza Yahya and that he would be punished, Hajji Mirza Hasan of Khurasan published in Cairo a pamphlet concerning this even and the .’Great miracle’ wrought herein by ‘Abbas Efendi. It is unnecessary to send you this lengthy pamphlet, our object being merely to make known to you the character ofthese peoples’ intrigues. You must employ every needful precaution, for, should they be unsuccessful or disappointed in inducing you to return to their party, they will endeavorby every means and without scruple’ to injure you. Concerning what befell Mirza Yahya we have heard from certain persons who were at Jedda at the time that as he had no heirs, and as his father-in-law, .the said Hajji was of ‘Abbas Efendi’s party and was also Persian Vice-Consul at Jedda, no one appeared to demand an enquiry into the causes of his death.
I therefore entreat you carefully to avoid taking from the hands of these people any food, drink, or other thing, although we know that the Lord (Glory be to Him) is the protector and Sustainer, and will without doubt protect His ends and shelter those love Him, especially him who displayed the greatest energy, and has fought so faithfully in preaching to the people the Manifestation of His Most Great Name al-Abha.
“Mirza Abu’l-Fazl [of Gulpayagan] and Hajji Mirza Hasan [of Khurasan] and the others, while they were here recently, did not visit any of the Unitarians, neither the Blessed branches (Aghsan)2 nor the others They neither wrote nor spoke to them concerning the differences of faith, and some of them used even to avert their faces from them if they happened to pass each other in the street.”
1. Where the crime would easily pass unnoticed as, in fact, was the case
2.i.e. ‘Abbas Efendi’s three younger half-brothers, Muhammad Ali, Badi’ullah and Ziya’ullah.
“If we made the requirements too rigorous, we will cool off the initial enthusiasm, rebuff the hearts and cease to expand rapidly. The essential thing is that the candidate for enrollment should believe in his heart in the truth of Bahá’u’lláh. Whether he is literate or illiterate, informed of all Teachings or’ not, is beside the point entirely. When the spark of faith exists the essential Message is there, and gradually everything else can be added unto it…”
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of South and West Africa, July 9, 1957: Teaching the Masses, p. 12) (Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 69)
The Baha’i Leadership May Spy on You, Track Your Movements, and Violate Your Privacy — Beware!
Below is a report prepared on one individual who left the Baha’i movement:
NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY OF THE BAHA’IS OF AUSTRALIA INCORPORATED A.R.B.N. 009 727 128 Incorporated in the A.C.T.) (Liability of members limited)
Phone: (02) 99113 2771 SECRETARIAT Fax: (02) 9970 7275 Email: aus…@bahai.org.au
4 November 1997
The Local Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the Gold Coast
PO Box 833 Southport 4215
Dear Baha’i Friends,
RE: MR. NIMA HAZINI
The National Spiritual Assembly of Australia has been informed by the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States that Mr. Nima Hazini occasionally spends time in Australia visiting parents and often associates with the Baha’i youth here. As Mr. Hazini’s parents are members of your community we are sharing the following information (which has been provided by the National Assembly of the United States) with your Assembly:
“…It is important for you to know that Mr. Hazini withdrew his Baha’i membership in December 1996 after expressing his strong dissatisfaction with the Baha’i community and our National Spiritual Assembly. Shortly after his withdrawal was accepted, Mr. Hazini wrote to the National Spiritual Assembly stating that he had not withdrawn from the Baha’i Faith but had withdrawn only from the Baha’i community. He provided a copy of his letter to the Universal House of Justice…When Mr. Hazini received a copy of the Universal House of Justice’s letter, he chose not to pursue reinstatement of his Baha’i membership. The last information that we had about him was that he had decided to become a follower of Sufism.”
At one stage Mr. Hazini was transferred to the United States as a Baha’i in good standing. However, in light of the information given by the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States we have made the necessary changes in our records about his status. Your Spiritual Assembly is advised to be alert to Mr. Nima Hazini’s activities in your area, when he comes to Australia to visit his parents, especially his association with the Baha’i youth.. Thanking you for your cooperation and with loving Baha’i greetings.
Gul Williams for the Secretariat
Reg. Office: Baha’i National Centre, 173 Mona Vale Road, Ingleside, NSW
Myth #1: The Bab and Baha’u’llah was anti-slavery
Truth: Both owned, bought, and sold black slaves. Baha’u’llah forbade the slave trade in the Aqdas, not slavery itself. One of the first laws that the Confederate States of America inacted was to make the slave TRADE illegal. But slavery itself continued. Baha’is in the Ottomon Empire and Egypt continued to own black slaves until these areas fell under British rule.
Myth #2: Baha’u’llah was tolerant of homosexuality because He told Baha’is to have a “sin-covering eye”.
Truth: Baha’u’llah called homosexuality HARAM (absolutely forbidden) for Baha’is. The term sin-covering eye referred to “minor sins” (sagirah). There is no one Arabic word for “sin”. There is one for major sins (sagirah) and one for minor sins (sagirah). Baha’u’llah used the one for minor sins. He considered LIWAT (male homosexual acts) and SIHAQ (female homosexual acts) to be among “satanic deeds”; another name for MAJOR sins. He likened LIWAT and SIHAQ to ZINA (adultery/fornication).
Myth #3: ‘Abdu’l-Baha was infallible.
Truth: No way. He said that Universal Peace would be established in 1957. He said that under the Law of Moses a thief’s hand could be cut off. Both untrue. He identified the “24 Elders” in the Book of Revelations as “the Bab, the 18 Letters of the Living, and 5 others” in one place, and identified the same 24 Elders as the 24 Guardians during the Baha’i Revelation in another, contradicting Himself. He did refer to the “Infallible Pen” and indeed, nothing He wrote has been contradicted by science or history, but many things He said or purported to have said have been contradictory to science, history, and even Himself.
Myth #4: Baha’i Holy Law does not mention abortion, and thus it is up to the House to rule upon it.
Truth: The Kitab-i-Aqdas was the Addendum to the Babi book of Laws, the Qayammul-Asma’, which forbade abortion and divorce. Baha’u’llah abrogates the no divorce law, but not the no abortion law. The Aqdas cannot be understood without the Asma, because it is only the Addendum to the Asma. Shoghi Effendi repeatedly said that abortion was “absolutely forbidden” for Baha’is, without making exceptions to this rule.
Myth #5: The Central Figures and Shoghi Effendi preached against racism, and proclaimed that all races are equal in every respect.
Truth: Neither The Bab or Baha’u’llah mentioned anything about the oppression of blacks. They had black slaves. They did NOT write that races are “equal”. ‘Abdu’l-Baha did NOT say that the races were equal, but that the Persian race was the most intelligent at birth. ShoghiEffendi NOWHERE wrote or said that the races are equal in intelligence. He did NOT condemn scientific racism (something he was taught at Oxford as scientifically proven fact), but rather “racialism”; the philosophy that one race can dominate others.
Myth #6: Baha’i teachings say that Jesus never arose from the dead, but His body is still buried somewhere in Jerusalem.
Truth: Baha’u’llah said that Jesus had the “Power of the Great Ether” and this is why He arose from the dead. ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s explanations of the Resurrection of Christ in “Some Answered Questions” were TA’WIL (esoteric explanations of literal events). He said that the disciples “saw Christ living” after His death. He did not arise in a physical body, but in His ethereal form which ‘Abdu’l-Baha called the “Reality of Christ”.
Myth #7: Baha’i Writings say that Christ came to unite cities, and to improve the status the rights of minorities and women.
Truth: Nothing in the Writings, nor in the Pilgrim’s Notes, says anything close to that. The Writings say that Christ came to offer Himself as an atonement for the sins of all mankind. That was His mission; nothing about uniting cities or trying to improve the rights of women or minorities.
Myth #8: Krishna was a black Manifestation of God.
Truth: Krishna was “dark blue” (the meaning of the name “Krishna”) and was born with a very rare birth-defect that turns light skin blue.
Krishna is presented in the Bhagavad-Gita, and in Hindu tradition, as an Aryan of the Warrior caste. All of the Manifestations of God in the Adamic Cycle have been Caucasian men.
Myth #9: The next Manifestation of God will be a woman.
Truth: There is NOTHING in the Writings nor the pilgrim’s notes to even suggest that. None of the Manifestations of God recognized or mentioned in the Writings or pilgrim’s notes were female.
Myth: #10: The Baha’i Writings say that all the Prophets are equal to each Others, none of Them are greater than the Others. To say one is greater than the Others is to “distinguish” between Them, which the Writings forbid.
Truth: The Writings say that the Prophets have varous “ranks”. A Tablet of ‘Abdu’l-Baha says that the Prophets can be likened to the members of a human body, with Brain, Heart, and other members. He likens Baha’u’llah to the Brain, Jesus to the Heart, and the Other Prophets to the less important Members of the Body. Shoghi Effendi called Baha’u’llah the “Supreme Manifestation of God”. By “distinguish between Them” Baha’u’llah was NOT condemning alloting to them ranks, but rather condemning what the Christians and Jews were doing his His day, accepting some and rejecting others as Prophets.
Myth #11: The World Order of Baha’u’llah will be established via the “World Peace” Message, when everyone realizes that we can only have World Peace by becoming Baha’is, then they will become Baha’is.
Truth: Baha’u’llah in a pilgrim’s note says how the World Order of Baha’u’llah will be established. It will come after a World Union is formed. The World Union will outlaw religion because of wars and terrorism and enmity between religious groups. Religion will be outlawed by the World Union. However, in one or two generations the leaders of the World Union will see that mankind will become too corrupt without organized religion, so they will choose the Baha’i Faith among all the religions as the most ecumenical and suiting of the needs of world unity, and thus all children will then be raised as Baha’is, and that will commence the World Order of Baha’u’llah.
Myth #12: The death of Jesus on the Cross was just a martyrdom, nothing more. The Bab suffered more because He was tortured before death. Baha’u’llah suffered more because He was put in the Black Pit for four months.
Truth: There is NOTHING in the Writings nor the pilgrim’s notes that says this! Shoghi Effendi recognizes only four “atonements”:
*Ishmael (offered as a test upon Abraham)
*Jesus (died the sins and iniquites “of all mankind”)
*Imam Husayn (blood atoned for collective sins of Shia Muslim community)
*Mirza Mihdi (died for the sins of the Baha’is against Baha’u’llah…allowing them to re-enter His presence)
The ONLY Manifestation of God in that list of Jesus Christ. His death was a “universal atonement” in that its effects had an effect “on all created things”.
Myth #13: The depictions of Hell-fire and Jehenna in the Qur’an are mere symbols, and were created by Muhammad as a way to frighten ignorant Arabs into getting them to follow the religion of Islam
Truth: There is NOTHING in the Writings or the piglrim’s notes that even suggests this! In His Tablet to Varqa, Baha’u’llah is quite explicit that Paradise and Hell-fire are metaphors in this life, but “realities” in the Afterlife, and that if such realities did not exist in the Afterlife, then the Cause of God was pointless.
Myth #14: The Bible is full of myths and errors of fact, and everybody knows this, and the Writings say this too. The Gospels as well are full of myths and errors, and were written many years after the events described therein.
Truth: The Writings say that the “Torah” (five books of Moses) were written by Him, contradicting what liberal scholars say on the issue. There is NOTHING in the Writings or pilgrim’s notes to even suggest that the Bible is full of “myths” or “errors” but that certain parts of the Bible should be considered parable or metaphor rather than literal (such as Eve eating a piece of fruit after being tempted by a talking snake).
Myth #15: The Baha’i Teachings are summed up in the 12 (or 11 or 13 or 14) Principles of the Baha’i Faith.
Truth: The “Principles” were first called the “Foundations of World Unity” and they were NEVER put forth as the summon bonum of Baha’i beliefs, nor even basic Baha’i beliefs. They were compiled as “Foundations” to present to world peace clubs and race unity clubs, to find common ground with them, so that Baha’is could speak at such meetings to talk to others about the Faith.
Myth #16: Baha’u’llah said that what the Afterlife was like is beyond description, meaning we cannot possibly know what it is like, therefore the Qur’anic descriptions of the Afterlife must merely be parables of something we can’t possibly understand.
Truth: Baha’u’llah described the conditions, including the stench, of the Siyah Chal (“Black Pit”) as being “beyond description”. This does not mean that we cannot imagine it, nor that the Siyah Chal was simply a metaphor or parable of some personal suffering of His that we cannot comprehend. Baha’u’llah affirms the Qur’anic descriptions of the After life in His Tablet to Varqa.
Myth #17: The Writings say that Heaven and Hell are conditions of the soul, not geographic locations. Therefore, Paradise and Hell have no existence other that in our own souls.
Truth: Sufi writings say the same thing, and Baha’u’llah once studied among the Sufis of Kurdistan. But the Sufis did not deny the existence of Heaven and Hell. They deny they are “geographic locations” as the Muslims were taught for centuries (i.e. Paradise was just beyond the fixed stars..fixed in a crystal sphere, and Hell was under the earth in great caverns of fire). The Sufis said we create our Heaven or Hell, depending upon the condition of our soul at death. In other words, if our soul is in Heaven at death, a Heaven is created for us.
If our soul is in Hell at death, a Hell is created for us, in the Unseen World, which is as real as this World, but is ethereal instead of physical. The Unseen World exists in every location where the physical Cosmos exists. For years Baha’u’llah used the title Baha’u’Din, the name of the founder of a popular Turkish Nashqabandi Sufi sect. Baha’u’llah wore a Darvish Turban of the Nashqabandi Sufi Sect from the time He lived among the Nashqabandis (1863-5) until His death in 1893.
Myth #18: The Writings say that reincarnation is not true, and impossible.
Truth: The Writings of the Bab speak of “return”, that the souls of the Prophets, the Saints, and “certain Chosen Ones” will RETURN in every Dispensation. In other words, the soul of Muhammad returned as Mulla Husayn, the first believer in The Bab. The Bab was the “return” of the Imam Mahdi, a young boy who died falling into a well 1000 lunar years before The Bab declared He was the Mahdi. Baha’u’llah wrote He was the return of “Jesus, the spirit of God”. ‘Abdu’l-Baha said that “human souls” do not return to THIS planet. The Sufis taught that when a man became a WALI (“Saint”) he no longer had a human soul, but an angel soul or a divine soul. This occurred when the Seeker extinguished his “ego” (human soul), and his nafs (self) is fana’ (“blown out like a candle”). Other incarnations on other planets are not ruled out, and seem to be at least hinted at in some Writings and pilgrim notes. The souls of Prophets are pre-existent, and thus not human souls. The souls of the Saints are not “human souls” because they have extinguished their human souls and the only eternal thing that remains in them is the Divine, or Angelic, Soul.
Myth # 19: The purpose of the Baha’i Faith is to establish World Peace/Race Unity/the Equality of Men and Women/Universal Education/equal pay for equal work/socialized medicine/national health care/Esperanto as the Universal Language, etc.
Truth: The purpose of the Baha’i Faith is to establish the Justice of God on Earth; to end injustice in all forms, so that Mankind may be spared from the Wrath of God (final extinction).
“Myths”…no matter how popular they are, cannot help the Cause of God, but hinder it. Only the TRUTH can make us free!