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Old 11-03-2014, 08:00 PM   #1
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Joined: Jun 2014
From: Wisconsin
Posts: 945
Prophetic Powers reflect Human Prides

Having tracked down an English translation of the Persian Bayan recently (I do think the Baha'i community needs to work on getting an official translation done, this book is valuable and the only translation I found was sub-par and riddled with spelling errors...) I have begun reading the words of the Báb.

Among the Bayan, I found a very interesting idea that I had not heard before about the nature of the Prophets and their miracles, that I thought I would share here. It is found in Bayan 2:1, reading:

"The substance of this chapter is that God, the Knowing, glorified be His
station, sends down His Proof in every dispensation according to whatever
is the highest degree of exaltation wherein the people of that dispensation
pride themselves. Thus, for example, in the time when the Qur'an was sent
down, all prided themselves in eloquent speech. God, therefore, revealed
the Qur'an in the highest degree of eloquence and made it the miracle of
His Prophet. In the Qur'an, God has not established the truth of His
Prophet or of the religion of Islam by any means other than its verses,
which are the mightiest of explanations."

I find this idea very interesting and, upon reflection, full of Truth. That the miracles God gives to a Prophet are in line with what society at the time values and exalts. Thus, as the above quote demonstrates, seeing as the elite at the time of Mohammed valued elogant speech and words, we have the Quran as a proof of Mohammed, with its mastery of Arabic and poetic contents. Mohammed was granted the same powers as the intellectuals of his time, just to a greater mastery than they could hope to achieve.

The Báb later in the chapter goes on to describe how this applies to himself. Since the intellectuals of his time valued scriptural study and interpretation, valuing "the subtleties of gnosis, and the exalted matters taught by the Imams", the Báb was granted mastery over scriptural interpretation, thus explaining some of the astounding things the Báb was said to have done, such as the story told about the young Báb impressing his teacher by explaining in detail the meaning of a Quranic verse on his first day of schooling.

Likewise we find Bahá'u'lláh, a Prophet in the same age, often writing on scripture verses and explaining their meaning. As examining the meaning of scripture was what the intellectual elites valued at the time of the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh, they were granted mastery over that subject.

Looking back on other dispensations, we find this same pattern repeated. Where the Prophet of God is granted the powers of the elite of his time, just to a greater extent and mastery then that elite could ever hope to command.

The wise men of Babylon prided themselves on interpreting dreams, yet found they could not explain a dream of the King, yet the Prophet Daniel was able to explain the dream with ease.

During the Cycle of Judges, the whole region of Canaan/Israel was engulfed in warfare, with many people vying for power over one another. The Judges of the time were thus granted supreme mastery and powers in the arts of war, with champions such as Samson defeating whole armies single-handedly.

And in the Prophet Moses, we find his powers reflect the intellectuals of his time as well, the sorcerers and magicians of Egypt. When Moses transmutes a staff into a snake, the Pharaoh summons his magicians, and each one of them is also able to turn a stick into a snake. However, the snake of Moses devours the many snakes of the magicians. Once again, the Prophet is granted the same powers of the elites of his time, just to a greater and more powerful extent!!

It is an interesting observation made by the Báb, to say the least, the idea that the powers a Prophet is granted are specifically tailored to reflect what the people of the time/place pride, but are also tailored to vastly outclass the elites of the time, standing testament to a proof of God.

It also seems to imply that were a Prophet to come in our time now (which is impossible according to the Aqdas, but for the sake of example) he would likely have mastery over all natural sciences, since that is what we seem to value as a sign of intellectual superiority at this time. Likely, whatever it is we value and pride ourselves in around 800 years from now will dictate the nature of the next Prophet.
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Old 11-04-2014, 07:22 AM   #2
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BlinkeyBill's Avatar
Joined: Oct 2011
From: Quilimari,Chile
Posts: 4,213
Dear friend, very interesting thoughts.

And yes I also look to the time when the Bayan may be printed in English, but of course that may take time for a close rendition of the original. In the meantime it is of interest to read what is available, as I also have done, I feel that pure souls can still reap great knowledge even from what is available. The rest of us also hopefully gain some insights. loving smile.

Loving regards to you
Old 11-05-2014, 01:42 AM   #3
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Joined: Oct 2014
From: Stockholm
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Originally Posted by Walrus View Post
...the Prophet of God is granted the powers of the elite of his time, just to a greater extent and mastery then that elite could ever hope to command.
Very interesting reflection indeed. Having been very carefully studying a number of our source books, during the last five years, for the purpose of translating them into my mother tongue, this idea resounds with me. But I'm not thinking of the Writings of the Báb, Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá right now. Instead I get to think of Shoghi Effendi. Having a higher degree in Political Science, and having taken particular interest in the Philosophy of History, rather well-acquainted with the works of e.g. Toynbee and Spengler, I find myself awe-struck by the level of thinking in the Guardian's books. It reminds me of a comment by his wife in "The Precious Pearl", where she regrets his very scarce contacts with the intellectual elite of his days. Now I really understand why she made that comment. He was an intellectual giant, and his thinking really was Nobel Prize level.
Old 11-05-2014, 03:15 AM   #4
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Joined: Mar 2013
From: Netherlands
Posts: 276
Hi Walrus,

It is indeed an interesting passage that you cited and it does make a lot of sense.

By the way, Selections from the Writings of the Bab has a great many passages from the Persian Bayan which have been authoritatively translated. I believe that priority hasn't been given to translating the full text of the Bayan because it was about preparing people in that time and place to recognise and follow Baha'u'llah, and, among other things, it was the Book of Laws for the Bab'i Dispensation, many of which were somewhat extreme by necessity in order to break the grip of religious orthodoxy on the hearts and minds of His followers and making sure these people would not offend Baha'u'llah when they met Him. These laws have been superseded by the laws of the Kitab-i-Aqdas. Personally, I imagine that having two sets of laws -- one valid set and one not -- might be confusing, especially on the internet today where quotes are often taken out of context and published far and wide.

Kind regards,

Old 11-05-2014, 07:53 AM   #5
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Joined: Apr 2014
From: Pennsylvania, USA
Posts: 158
Posted by Walrus:
Likewise we find Bahá'u'lláh, a Prophet in the same age, often writing on scripture verses and explaining their meaning. As examining the meaning of scripture was what the intellectual elites valued at the time of the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh, they were granted mastery over that subject.

Also in my opinion, not only was Bahaullah gifted with the ability to interpret scripture and gnosis like the Bab, but He was also able to make these insights and teachings relevant for the time he began his mission for the whole world. With the ideas, considerations, and problems facing the world, he taught the spiritual importance of personal experience, human unity, non violence, as well as His own profound commentaries of the human condition of the time. War, fanaticism, sectarianism, materialism, and many other things.

To me reading His writings every now and then sounds like it was written for us today. That's why I'm gradually beginning to believe that He was a Divine Messenger for our time and I see better how the Prophets are One Spirit.

That insight by Walrus does make sense.

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