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Old 07-12-2017, 06:24 AM   #1
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Will the Universal House of Justice become a civil government agency?

While reading the comments on the Kitáb-o-Aqdas, I found the following:
70. Exile and imprisonment are decreed for the thief
Bahá’u’lláh states that the determination of the degree of penalty, in accordance with the seriousness of the offense, rests with the House of Justice (Q&A 49). The punishments for theft are intended for a future condition of society, when they will be supplemented and applied by the Universal House of Justice.
Can you help me in understanding what this "future condition of society" is?
Do you envision the UHJ converted into a sort of government agency that applies force to comply with the Kitán-o-Aqdas?

I am very confused... your help, friends will be very much appreciated.
 
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Old 07-12-2017, 06:44 AM   #2
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I'm sure someone with more scholarly knowledge on the subject can give a better answer... but I'm not getting the same reading you are here:

From reading this, I think this interpretation is stating that the law does not currently apply to Baha'is, as Baha'is, at the moment, aren't in the positions of secular lawmaking and the like.

The "future condition" when the law will apply is when there is a Baha'i majority society, a society where Baha'is will determine secular laws through the function of democracy, to guide us as Baha'is in decisions in voting and secular legislation, so that our laws regarding serious crimes (like theft) are not too severe or lenient for the appropriate crime.

I take it to mean that it is not a religious law that will be enforced by the UHJ, but it is a religious law intended to guide us in the implementation of secular laws.
 
Old 07-12-2017, 07:46 AM   #3
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Your explanation is very reassuring, Walrus. Thank you!

Now I just want to make sure we both are right in this appreciation... so let's hope someone else joins the discussion and provides further guidance.

My shock came from reading that "punishments" will be "applied by" the UHJ. Meaning, UHJ as an agency to apply punishments.
So the image of theocratic regimen like Iran under a Baha'i's equivalent of the sharia came to my mind. Bahai policemen, guards, prisons, etc.
 
Old 07-13-2017, 01:29 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by camachoe View Post
Your explanation is very reassuring, Walrus. Thank you!

Now I just want to make sure we both are right in this appreciation... so let's hope someone else joins the discussion and provides further guidance.

My shock came from reading that "punishments" will be "applied by" the UHJ. Meaning, UHJ as an agency to apply punishments.
So the image of theocratic regimen like Iran under a Baha'i's equivalent of the sharia came to my mind. Bahai policemen, guards, prisons, etc.
I see the Universal House of Justice giving the required details of the law to be implemented in each country by Local Authority. Houses of Justice are envisaged right down to the Local Level.

If I am not wrong, from memory, Local and National Spiritual Assemblies are transitional names of what will be in the future Houses of Justice. (Must look it up again my guess is it will be past my time on this earth) In Kitab-i-Aqdas

49. The Lord hath ordained that in every city a House of Justice be established # 30
The institution of the House of Justice consists of elected councils which operate at the local, national and international levels of society. Bahá'u'lláh ordains both the Universal House of Justice and the Local Houses of Justice in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. Abdu'l-Bahá, in His Will and Testament, provides for the Secondary (National or Regional) Houses of Justice and outlines the method to be pursued for the election of the Universal House of Justice. In the verse cited above, the reference is to the Local House of Justice, an institution which is to be elected in a locality whenever there are nine or more resident adult Baha'is. For this purpose, the definition of adult was temporarily fixed at the age of 21 years by the Guardian, who indicated it was open to change by the Universal House of Justice in the future.
Local and Secondary Houses of Justice are, for the present, known as Local Spiritual Assemblies and National Spiritual Assemblies. Shoghi Effendi has indicated that this is a "temporary appellation" which,
...as the position and aims of the Bahá'í Faith are better understood and more fully recognized, will gradually be superseded by the permanent and more appropriate designation of House of Justice. Not only will the present-day Spiritual Assemblies be styled differently in future, but they will be enabled also to add to their present functions those powers, duties, and prerogatives necessitated by the recognition of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, not merely as one of the recognized religious systems of the world, but as the State Religion of an independent and Sovereign Power. Baha'u'llah : The Kitab-i-Aqdas - Notes

Also consider when the world is a majority of Baha'i, there will indeed be Baha'i's that have jobs in the Justice System. I see that the system will always be aimed at spiritual change to a person and not inappropriate punishment.

Regards Tony

Last edited by tonyfish58; 07-13-2017 at 01:39 AM.
 
Old 07-13-2017, 05:35 AM   #5
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Greetings Camachoe,

This question does arise from time to time. Do appreciate that at each stage of development within the Bahá'í Community, new perceptions and understandings have taken shape. So some older perceptions are clearly incorrect. This is why there are conflicting ideas about the interconnection between state and religion within the Bahá'í Community at this time.

Naturally, all Bahá'ís are given the right to hold and express viewpoints and to share these in good faith with others. But it is also expected that such views should be fair and courteous too. This can be challenging for some Bahá'ís, especially once they begin to understand the Bahá'í Administrative Order. These can and often do build up into intellectual and emotional frustrations. They are actually a natural stage in progressing as a member of the Bahá'í Faith. It is therefore a healthy process, but the experience is comparable to a child having a tantrum. Like with young children, some grow out of the tantrum phase, while others take it into adulthood with them. In the end it is simply about appreciating that the collective is something that is much bigger than ourselves.

A view is not a fact. Here is a fact. Bahá'ís and the Bahá'í Administrative Order are duty bound to obey secular law. The only time this can be challenged is if a person is denied the legal right to be a Bahá'í and practice their beliefs. As this is currently the situation within the Islamic Republic of Iran, your question is very relevant, because it is essentially asking if the Bahá'í Faith is aiming to be a theocracy where religion controls human society like it does within modern Iran.

It is important to understand that no person within the Bahá'í Faith, other than the Central Figures and the Guardian, hold the ability to interpret the Bahá'í Writings. As I sometimes put it, the Bahá'í Faith is and always will be full of amateurs. I use the term amateurs quite deliberately here because amateurs love what they do. However, it is important to understand that as time progress, more and more professionals within the academic world are going to explore the Bahá'í Faith and produce material about it. Some Bahá'ís, myself included, have had the opportunity to produce academic research on the Bahá'í Faith through an established university. When a Bahá'í does this it helps them to reshape many of their early views have were propagated within the wider Bahá'í Community. My research looked at political and religious responses towards the both the Bábí and Bahá'í movements. Since this time a few others have ventured to explore the interplay between religion and state too. For instance, Sen McGlinn went on to follow it with his masters entitled Church and State: A Postmodern Theology. Unlike my academic research, McGlinn's is published outside of the academic community. Naturally you are free to read it for yourself.

One of the difficulties that you will find with this subject matter is that there is a natural clash of ideas about how the Bahá'í Faith might evolve in the future. Some will project an image of it being a perfected human society with religion being at its beating heart. Others will express a far darker view of it becoming a totalitarian world superstate with the right to impose laws on those that violate Bahá'í law. Both of these views are totally preposterous because no one can predict the future. This is why hyperbole can be found within both camps. The Bahá'í Faith is simply a religion. Sorry to understate it, but we need to maintain a measured perspective.

All sovereign states maintain security agencies and these will naturally scan to access viable threats; foreign and domestic. In this respect if the Bahá'í Faith were ever seen to pose a threat to either a regime or its sovereign state, then they would take measures to protect themselves. It is rather hard to see how the Bahá'í Administrative Order can pose a thread to any sovereign state when it is obliged to obey secular law. This is why Bahá'í National Spiritual Assemblies have a history of either voluntarily disbanding or modifying their working mandate to comply with state legislation. Indeed one of the most interesting case studies to examine here is with the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of South Africa. In order to accommodate the law of Apartheid it elected to become a black only organisation. This means that white Bahá'ís were forbidden the right to be elected onto a Bahá'í Institution by secular law. It is good example of how the Bahá'í Community can adapt to accommodate what would now be viewed as racist legislation. Bahá'í Institutions were banned within some facist states during the build-up to and during the Second World War. Just like some Bahá'í Institutions are either banned or might face difficulties within some Islamic sovereign states today; most notably Iran. It is worth noting that within Iran Bahá'ís are persecuted for being Bahá'ís, whereas within Nazi Germany and Naza occupied states, Bahá'ís with Jewish backgrounds were persecuted as Jews. This is why Bahá'ís are martyred in Iran compared with being murdered in Nazi Germany and Nazi occupied countries.

Do understand that sovereign states are free to select their own head of state by constitutional law. In the same way sovereign states of the Commonwealth have collectively chosen to designate Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as their collective Head of State, any sovereign state, pending constitutional amendments, is free to request that the Universal House of Justice considers being their Head of State. This in not an idol preposition based on the need for a world government. It is constitutional reality. Therefore it is perfectly plausibly for the Universal House of Justice to be invited to become the Head of State for sovereign states in the world. Naturally this would have to transpire through mutual recognition and trust.

To appreciate how a head of state is expected to rule without venturing into numerous texts, you might find it helpful to read the following extract taken from Bahá'u'lláh's Tablet to Queen Victoria. This will offer you a distinct clue as to how and why the reigns of a sovereign state is best given to its peoples. It is important to reflect on the fact that the Queen of England is also the Supreme Head of the Church of England. So Her Majesty holds what would now be an identical religious role by international law as the Universal House of Justice does today. This is why it is also known as the Supreme Institution. Hopefully you will come to understand why both the head of state and the head of a religion should not impose their right of rule, but rather adopt the role of being a spiritual counsel. Such an approach is not a theocracy.

"We have also heard that thou hast entrusted the reins of counsel into the hands of the representatives of the people. Thou, indeed, hast done well, for thereby the foundations of the edifice of thine affairs will be strengthened, and the hearts of all that are beneath thy shadow, whether high or low, will be tranquillized. It behoveth them, however, to be trustworthy among His servants, and to regard themselves as the representatives of all that dwell on earth. This is what counselleth them, in this Tablet, He Who is the Ruler, the All-Wise. And if any one of them directeth himself towards the Assembly, let him turn his eyes unto the Supreme Horizon, and say: "O my God! I ask Thee, by Thy most glorious Name, to aid me in that which will cause the affairs of Thy servants to prosper, and Thy cities to flourish. Thou, indeed, hast power over all things!" Blessed is he that entereth the Assembly for the sake of God, and judgeth between men with pure justice. He, indeed, is of the blissful."

I hope this might help to allay some of your initial concerns on this subject matter and help you realise that the Bahá'í Community has a lot of growing to do. Both in numerical, intellectual, spiritual, economic and social terms before such matters can even become the faintest possibility. To help put this into material context, the Crown, under Queen Elizabeth II, currently owns more wealth and lands than the entire global Bahá'í Community put together. While the Bahá'í World Centre may rank as a United Nations World Heritage Site and the few Bahá'í Houses of Worship situated around the world have received numerous architectural accolades, the total assets of the Bahá'í Faith is still surprisingly modest.

Earth
 
Old 07-13-2017, 10:56 AM   #6
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In a word Yes. That is the ultimate goal of the Baha'i Faith A new world order under the auspices of The Faith and UHJ.
 
Old 07-13-2017, 03:53 PM   #7
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Reading this thread has reminded me of a reply I sent to one of Sen McGlinns'
posts, at
https://senmcglinn.wordpress.com/201...-the-governor/
It seems that, as in a previous occasion, he's having difficulties posting my replies.
I don't know if it was popular acclaim which forced him to previously. Anyway, he has
been excommunicated from the Faith for opposing the formation of a theocratic state.

Dear Sen,
I'm Roy who originally posed the question of the Guardian and the
Governor in a previous post, at
https://senmcglinn.wordpress.com/abo...s-14-may-2006/ .
This is intended to answer your reply to it there and here.

Someone who runs a business or is on a school board, is exercising temporal
administrative authority, which can be subject to the temporal political
authority of a Baha'i assembly, each working in its own sphere of influence and
without overstepping its limits in relation to the other. There is no
contradiction.

What you are proposing conflates the "temporal authority" of politicians and
businessmen, in such a way that there is no room for the "spiritual authority"
of Baha'i institutions to act as a go between. If one is bent on an inevitable
and irreconcilable separation of materialism and spirituality, just such a
conflation of temporal political authority with temporal administrative
authority might do the job. But it goes against the Baha'i principle of the
unity of science and religion. There is more to it than a mere intellectual
exercise.

In the current society you may see examples of politicians and businessmen
colluding and saying there is no other way to do things. But they don't have
the real interests of humanity at heart. It is all self-serving, and the poor
ignorant masses have all been duped by them. Will you follow in their
footsteps?

In the Baha'i view the high minded, praiseworthy leaders of thought are those
who have recognized that unbridled materialism is the scourge of humanity, and
can only lead to chaos and confusion. This has ever been the case, and the
Baha'i Cause is what will ultimately rid the world of the scourge of politics
and politicians, fulfilling the most ardent, hopeful dreams of all the by-gone
prophets and seers.
 
Old 07-13-2017, 08:03 PM   #8
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Thank you very much, Earth, for the time devoted in your comprehensive response.
I have some questions for you

Quote:
Originally Posted by Earth View Post
Do appreciate that at each stage of development within the Bahá'í Community, new perceptions and understandings have taken shape. So some older perceptions are clearly incorrect.
Can you give an example of a such a clearly incorrect old perception?
More importantly, could you give an example of a correct new perception?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Earth View Post
... some grow out of the tantrum phase, while others take it into adulthood with them. In the end it is simply about appreciating that the collective is something that is much bigger than ourselves.
Still, no individual can be forced by the collective to give up their fundamental rights. Do we agree on this?
No collective, for example, could use force to make you donate one of your kidneys, or donate your money to the poor, or choose a given profession, under the allegation that it helps the collective and you should give up your selfish illusion of the "self" to embrace unity with the crowd.

So, any tantrum should evolve into a rational opposition (and fight) where you have evidence that the collective, by means of any State, Court, or Law, is violating or intending to violate your rights.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Earth View Post
... your question is very relevant, because it is essentially asking if the Bahá'í Faith is aiming to be a theocracy where religion controls human society like it does within modern Iran.
Thanks for understanding my question. Now please help me with the answer, I beg you: Is the Baha'i Faith aiming to be a theocracy where religion controls human society like it does within modern Iran?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Earth View Post
Some will project an image of it being a perfected human society... Others will express a far darker view of it becoming a totalitarian world superstate... Both of these views are totally preposterous because no one can predict the future.
No one can predict the future. But everyone can envision a future, and fight for it.
What is that future you envision as a Baha'i, my friend?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Earth View Post
Therefore it is perfectly plausibly for the Universal House of Justice to be invited to become the Head of State for sovereign states in the world. Naturally this would have to transpire through mutual recognition and trust.
I agree. If the UHJ persuades the world to be an agency that preserves peace by upholding the basic rights of each individual, I can forsee this happening.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Earth View Post
Hopefully you will come to understand why both the head of state and the head of a religion should not impose their right of rule, but rather adopt the role of being a spiritual counsel. Such an approach is not a theocracy.
An spiritual counselor lacks the ability to enforce punishment by the use of arms. A court has that ability.
An spiritual counselor advices, warns, persuades.
A court executes through force.
Based on the Kitab-i-Aqdas and other Baha'i Scriptures that you have examined during your academic research, which of these roles would the UHJ play?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Earth View Post
I hope this might help to allay some of your initial concerns on this subject matter and help you realise that the Bahá'í Community has a lot of growing to do. Both in numerical, intellectual, spiritual, economic and social terms before such matters can even become the faintest possibility.
Thanks for your patience, my friend. I feel better now. I am still intrigued but not desperate. Following on your metaphor, I feel my tantrum is over and now I am just frowning and looking carefully to the object I have in front of my cradle.

I look forward to reading your answers.
May the rays of the Sun of Truth keep illuminating our souls.

Last edited by camachoe; 07-13-2017 at 08:07 PM.
 
Old 07-14-2017, 04:52 AM   #9
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We should note also that Baha'u'llah specifically taught that all nations ought to have constitutional monarchies with both a king or queen and a legislative assembly. He said kingship is a "sign of God and [he did ]not wish that nations should remain deprived thereof". Quite obviously, neither the Universal House of Justice, nor a National House of Justice can fill this role. Neither could they be considered as the required legislative body of a national government, because the relation between the parliament and the monarch is different that the role of the House of Justice.

Last edited by Jcc; 07-14-2017 at 05:15 AM.
 
Old 07-15-2017, 10:39 AM   #10
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Greetings Camachoe,

One Bahá'í that taught me said that for every question that we have answered we will find at least two more questions. So do not concern yourself too much with the road blocks that appear to obstruct you. Simply leave them be and return to them at a later date. This way you will not subject yourself to spiritual indigestion. I will therefore seek to explore your secondary questions with this in mind. I can only offer you my apologies if you need to reach for the indigestion tablets.

Q. Can you give an example of a such a clearly incorrect old perception? More importantly, could you give an example of a correct new perception?

It is important to appreciate that people's former beliefs also shape how they will perceive the Bahá'í Faith too. So in a manner of speaking, it is about learning how to cultivate the courage to move from one insight about the human condition to another. This is far more subtle than changing one's religion. This is because it goes to the very core of one's being.

Here is a very simple example of one individual going through this process. The gentleman concerned was a large biker who was the leader of a motorbike pack. When he heard about Bahá'u'lláh he cried and accepted Him. Armed with little more than he should teach the Faith he rode off. Every week, without fail, he brought a new person to enrol into the Bahá'í Faith. His community were elated. However, it slowly began to dawn on them that the people he brought into the Faith did not appear to share his enthusiasm and looked rather timid. So they decided to ask him how he taught these people about the Bahá'í Faith. Not afraid of answering the question the gentleman simply said that he would pick a fight with another biker and beat him until he consented to join the Bahá'í Faith.

Rather like this biker, all Bahá'ís have a preexisting moral code before they join the Faith. It is these codes that can be both our strength and our weakness. Sometimes we refer to it as the spiritual baggage we bring into the Bahá'í Faith with us.

Here is a simple taster of what you might have experienced in some Bahá'í homes in America before the arrival of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. On entering the house you would be offered a glass of wine. Once seated a small passage of the Bahá'í Writings in English would be shared. Then you would be invited to adjourn to witness a séance. Needless to say, when 'Abdu'l-Bahá finally reached the shores of America, He loving guided their ways to help them on the road towards acquiring better Bahá'í values. He used a simple phase that is worth bringing to mind from time to time: Little by little; day by day.

Q. So, any tantrum should evolve into a rational opposition (and fight) where you have evidence that the collective, by means of any State, Court, or Law, is violating or intending to violate your rights.

In the Bahá'í Faith we are encouraged to pray for tests. In other words we invite God to challenge us in our personal lives so that we might learn to overcome adversity and grow in our spiritual character. Therefore these tantrums, as I put it, are actually a reflection of the way we begin to acclimatise to this spiritual process. This is why I enjoy hosting youth events where people will stand up and vocally share all the uncertainties that are on their minds because the quicker a person can progress through this phase the more likely it is they will develop the capacity to truly grow. The alternative is to sit in a stagnant pond of self pity and simple endure the Bahá'í Faith out of a sense of duty. I do not advise you to do the latter.

Q. Is the Baha'i Faith aiming to be a theocracy where religion controls human society like it does within modern Iran?

Fancy that glass of wine now while we wait for an answer in that séance?

Do understand that the Kitáb-i-Aqdas follows on from the Bayán. Indeed Bahá'u'lláh refers to the Bayán as the Mother Book. Once you read the Persian Bayán, you will begin to understand that these laws are not what they might appear. For instance they have a symbolic and spiritual meaning that is far greater than their material meaning. Indeed the material meaning is often quite deceptive. This is why the Persian Bayán places great emphasis on not harming others. So Bábí and Bahá'í laws are arguably moral lessons that contain within them extremely rich spiritual insights. As an example of this, see if you can calculate how many fines for adultery the richest person in the world could pay before running out of money. By doubling the fine after each and every offence, naturally it reaches a point where even the richest person in the world cannot pay the fine. This is its point. It should also be noted that by paying such a fine one would also need to confess a sin to another person. As this is prohibited by Bahá'í law, hopefully you can start to see there is much more to this than what meets the eye because the law in itself cannot actually be applied. The same is true with some other laws in these Holy Books. However, this does not negate their spiritual importance.

If you examine political systems closely, you will begin to understand that they are all influenced by religion. Indeed the Ten Commandments are just as much alive today as they were during the time of Moses. The Guardian even went as far as to suggest that the spiritual actions of Bahá'í National Spiritual Assemblies will directly influence the spiritual behaviour of their respective governments. Now, let us ponder on this for a moment as we look around at the governments of the world. Does this mean that Bahá'í National Spiritual Assemblies are accountable for the way governments act and behave within their respective sovereign states? Well in my eyes the answer to this is a clearly resounding, yes!

This is what true spiritual leadership is all about and it is exactly what the Bahá'í Administrative Order is ultimately designed to achieve. It is not designed to sit in a stagnant pool to proliferate about how great it is or how one day it will rule the world.

A theocracy by its very nature is a government ruled by the clergy. There is no clergy within the Bahá'í Faith because no one is granted the right of interpretation. We are all equally ignorant. It is our spiritual actions that define us.


Q. No one can predict the future. But everyone can envision a future, and fight for it. What is that future you envision as a Baha'i, my , friend?

Currently the Universal House of Justice operates in Persian and English. Indeed everyone that has been elected onto it since its formation can speak either one or both of these languages; even though there are no restrictions in the electoral colleges. How then can the trustees of the Supreme Institution be open to the actual spiritual needs of the various peoples around the world if the overriding cultural perception is based on Persian and English values?

There is one member of the Universal House of Justice, who as a younger person, used to go around conventions asking delegates how they voted. He did not ask for the names, merely how many incumbents and new members they voted for. Now there is no need to respond to such an impertinent question from such an upstart. You see, in order to vote you actually have to get out and meet real people within the Bahá'í Community. When you do this you know exactly who to vote for. Therefore, in order for Bahá'í democracy to truly work, one needs to travel and get to know people. If this is not the case then the delegates from the electoral colleges will simply keep on electing the same people. This can have have the undesired effect of creating inertia within Bahá'í Institutions.

Now, to better understand this, I would like to invite you to listen to an hours presentation by Amatu'l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum at the 6th Annual Convention. While dated, her concerns are just as relevant today as they were back then. She will assist you to see what I am seeking to share with you here https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ZyI3qiApkeo


Q. Spiritual counsellor or court. Based on the Kitab-i-Aqdas and other Bahá'í Scriptures that you have examined during your academic research, which of these roles would the UHJ play?

Now that you know my education is worthless because it grants me no greater licence to talk about the Bahá'í Faith than anyone else. Hopefully you can begin to see why it can be such a challenge to try to define the Bahá'í Administrative Order in academic terms. Indeed the one value that my education did afforded me is that it allowed me to witness and better appreciate the type of prejudices that currently exist within the Bahá'í Community. This has helped me to reshape my understanding.

While there is often a degree of interest in the Universal House of Justice, the Bahá'í Administrative Order is a multifaceted entity. The following link on an official Bahá'í website should help you to better put this into context The Bahá

In reference to the above link do appreciate that the Guardian once explained that it will take at least a century before the Bahá'í Community might be ready to understand the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. The only assistance I can offer you here is that it is actually three Will and Testaments. By law only the last will and testament constitutes as being legal, unless clauses permit earlier sections to be implemented. So for instance, when Shoghi Effendi passed away, it would support the application of the second Will and Testament. Hopefully you might come to appreciate that had Shoghi Effendi produced a will and testament, it would have invalidated 'Abdu'l-Bahá's Will and Testament. So do understand that this is still a living legal document and it will remain so until the next Manifestation of God. The Guardian was exceptionally well versed in understanding how to protect the Bahá'í Covenant. As you continue to grow in your understanding, his wisdom will never cease to amaze you.

Also in reference to the above link do appreciate that the Universal House of Justice, as the Supreme Institution, is still evolving. The Constitution of the Universal House of Justice can actually be quite painful to read. This is because it offers a snapshot into the Bahá'í Community around half a century ago. It was an age when quote upon quote was needed in order to grant it legitimacy. This is because one Hand of the Cause claimed to be the second guardian in line with 'Abdu'l-Bahá's first Will and Testament. He even sought to obtain the legal rights of Bahá'í properties. The matter actually went to court because it was a property dispute. Essentially the court ruled in favour of those that would go on to support the Universal House of Justice. Therefore do understand that this event has actually shaped the way that the Constitution is written and presented. This should help you to place its unusual writing style into better context when you read it.

I hope these insights might go some way towards providing responses that you can personally relate with.

Your dear friend,
Earth

Last edited by Earth; 07-15-2017 at 10:55 AM.
 
Old 07-17-2017, 04:42 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by camachoe View Post
... My shock came from reading that "punishments" will be "applied by" the UHJ. Meaning, UHJ as an agency to apply punishments.
So the image of theocratic regimen like Iran under a Baha'i's equivalent of the sharia came to my mind. Bahai policemen, guards, prisons, etc.
Walrus has said, correctly imv, that this is " a religious law intended to guide us in the implementation of secular laws." Do not put any weight on the "applied by the UHJ" bit: the notes to the Aqdas are just the opinions of individual members of the research department, and the book was barely published before it was followed by a list of corrections to be made in the next edition.

Quote:
The House of Justice has thus made the status of the Research Department's statements, such as that previously provided to Mr. Cope, very clear: the contents are the considered views of the departmental staff, provided as "an aid to resolving perplexities or gaining an enhanced understanding". Such statements, however, cannot have the identical weight as the elucidations given by the Universal House of Justice. 2

(The Universal House of Justice, 1988 Sept 25, Function of Research Department, Various terms, p. 1)
 
Old 07-17-2017, 05:38 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Earth View Post
Greetings Camachoe,

Do understand that the Kitáb-i-Aqdas follows on from the Bayán. Indeed Bahá'u'lláh refers to the Bayán as the Mother Book. Once you read the Persian Bayán, you will begin to understand that these laws are not what they might appear. For instance they have a symbolic and spiritual meaning that is far greater than their material meaning. Indeed the material meaning is often quite deceptive. This is why the Persian Bayán places great emphasis on not harming others. So Bábí and Bahá'í laws are arguably moral lessons that contain within them extremely rich spiritual insights.
Thank you very much, Earth, for all your answers... and not just for your answers as such, but for your willingness to explain.

I take home the message you have stated in the part I am quoting. Behind a law there is the "spirit of the law" which is the one that any true follower should strive to get to. It is the spirit of the law that will influence secular governments to issue sound secular laws.

I have no problem with one global government, as long as individual rights are respected. I am not sure if the "political culture" of the audiences of Bahá'u'lláh in Persia and the Otoman Empire were familiar with the concept of individual rights. I suspect that those audiences were more familiar with the concept of a benevolent, wise monarch that enforces good behaviour and punishes bad behavior, even when "bad behaviour" happens to relate when how you treat what belongs to you and only to you (say, your body, your money). So, the Bab's and Bah'a'u'lláhs messages were perhaps formulated in such a way that people with a weaker understanding of individual rights could understand.

For Westerners it may be somewhat different. Most Westeners, for example, would know intuitively that you are entitled to throw to the fireplace a one hundred dollar bill that belongs to you, even if a poor hungry neighbour would benefit from that money.
Although throwing the bill to the fireplace would be ethically wrong (and condemmed as "bad" by believers and non believers alike), Westerners would agree that the government should not act to prevent you or to punish you from burning up your US$100 bill.

Same with ingesting drugs, for example. This is undoubtedly a bad thing. Nevertheless, you should not be punished by the police for harming your own body with cocaine (or with wine or with bacon and sausages, for that matter). Why? Because it is my right to do with my property as I choose, even if my choices are wrong... the only limit being not violating the rights of others.
For example, if I own a baseball bat, I have the right to use it, keep it in my closet, sell it, lend it, give it for free, exchange it for another good or service, throwing it to the litter bin or destroy it. I could even use it to hit my own head with it (a stupid thing to do, but I would still have the right to do it). However, I do not have the right to use it to hit my neighbour's head, because my neighbour's body does not belong to me. If I hit him with the bat, we expect the government to send the police and punish me.

A secular govermnent illuminated by Baha'i Teachings, in my view and the view of those who uphold civil rights, should not send a man to prison for throwing his $100 bill to the fireplace or for getting drunk at home... and certainly not for consensual sex outside marriage. All these things would be certainly condemned from a non-coercive standpoint so that, through persuasion, that is, by appealing to their reason and their heart, people could be educated to do better.

Last edited by camachoe; 07-17-2017 at 12:08 PM.
 
Old 07-18-2017, 01:55 AM   #13
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From: Earth
Posts: 143
Greetings Camachoe,

I am glad that you can now see that the Bahá'ís are people that are expected to adhere to secular moderation. Like it or not, Bahá'í publications really do require an extensive amount of professional third party editorial work if they are to be read and understood in an intelligent manner by wider members of the public. All young religions face this issue because if they are the publishers they can be blind to the intellectual challenges their religious writings can bring to non-believers.

My partner, who produces religious material for educational bodies around the world, is constantly less that satisfied at the standards employed within some mainline Bahá'í publications; like the Kitáb-i-Aqdas for instance. The problem here is not with the Bahá'í Writings, but rather the lack of clarity that is afforded to the general reader. This is why all core Bahá'í Writings need to be reviewed by people with the skill-set and expertise to ensure that what is being published meets acceptable intellectual criteria. If this is not the case, then understandably, good people like yourself are prone to being confused by their contents.

You are going to find this issue again and again as you read core Bahá'í material. If you wish to read some quality material on Bahá'u'lláh that is designed for wider readership, then might I suggest that you consider reading The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh by Adib Taherzadeh https://bahaikipedia.org/Adib_Taherzadeh While this 4 volume set is copyrighted, you can sample it online here STUDY THE FAITH - Revelation of Baha'u'llah The reason these volumes are so beautiful and informative to read is because they were properly edited before publication by a coherent editorial team that was established by the author.

Naturally, it has taken a few exchanges between us to help you come to a more rational view. But do appreciate that some older Bahá'ís today still prescribe to the view that the Bahá'í Faith is going to become a global theocracy. The primary reason for them thinking like this is because of the poor publishing standards of the material they have read. It is fundamentally imperative that people understand that any guidance offered to an individual from the Guardian is unique and for that person alone. The Guardian has shared some ideas that appear to support this, but they need to be examined in their full context. The Guardian has used political comparisons to help represent components of what form the Bahá'í Faith might take. In one example he lists a range of political concepts like capitalism and socialism, and while he omits theocracy, he did interestingly employ the term nihilism. There is an example of this with 'Abdu'l-Bahá in Haifa. During the food crisis, bakers started the raise the price of bread to the point where the general population could not afford to buy a loaf of bread. They turned to 'Abdu'l-Bahá and ask Him what they should do. He told them to break down the windows and doors, steal the bread for themselves and furthermore to tell these bakers that 'Abdu'l-Bahá told them to do it. The point to understand here is that in a human crisis, like a food shortage, secular laws can be used to disrespect human beings. These type of events transpire every day as the situation for humans become more and more perilous for them in various parts of the world. As such challenges radically change people's perceptions about human governance, we cannot even begin to visualise how, if indeed humanity ever will, collectively come to embrace Bahá'u'lláh.

Hopefully you can see that this is actually a manmade Bahá'í conundrum that is likely to remain until publishing standards improve. While members of the Bahá'í Faith are more versed at spanning these intellectual chasms. Members of the public do not relate to such guidance in the same way. This is why, understandably, some view Bahá'ís and the Bahá'í Faith in a less than unflattering manner.

The moral of the story here is that the Bahá'í Faith is a young religion. While we are grateful to obtain official translations from Arabic and Persian, it does not mean they will be welcomed by others. The Guardian was always highly sensitive to the way material in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas could be widely misperceived. This is why he only translated some key components and assisted the reader to put these into mature context. While Bahá'ís will applaud the Universal House of Justice for deciding to translate and publish the Kitáb-i-Aqdas into the English language in 1992, the lesson that needs to be learnt here is that translations also need to provide supporting material in order to assist general readers to put them into context too. This is because scholars study the Kitáb-i-Aqdas in its Arabic text and Persian subtext. So to really read it at source a person needs a very competent ability in both Arabic and Persian. While western scholars can learn these languages, they do not possess the cultural framework of thinking. This is why it is such a challenge for people with western minds to study the Bahá'í Faith, even if they possess the necessary linguistic skills to read material at source.

In time I envisage the learning of Persian and Arabic cultures and languages as being a basic component of learning about the Bahá'í Faith. Sadly, some Bahá'ís still have to acquire the ability to learn how to exchange basic pleasantries with a Persian or Arabic host in their own language. If some western Bahá'ís have still not even mastered this basic human etiquette, how then can they ever truly share the value of what lays at the heart of their own religion to others? There is a profound difference between Persian, Arabic and English values. Learning how to fuse and bring these together is going to take much more than scholars.

Earth

Last edited by Earth; 07-18-2017 at 01:58 AM.
 
Old 07-18-2017, 06:59 AM   #14
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Joined: Apr 2017
From: Mexico
Posts: 96
Quote:
Originally Posted by Earth View Post

... some older Bahá'ís today still prescribe to the view that the Bahá'í Faith is going to become a global theocracy. The primary reason for them thinking like this is because of the poor publishing standards of the material they have read.
Thanks, Earth, for enlighting me about the subject on the poor publishing standards. Regardless of how important good publishing standandards are for a correct understanding of the Faith, I would be skeptical in thinking this is the primary reason for older Bahais to adhere to the belief in a future theocracy. Please bear with me a little:

I think most human beings have held through ages, and still hold, an authoritarian perspective of governance.

Just ask any taxi driver, or clerk at a store what they would do if he/she was president of his/her republic, and you will start hear immediately how he/she would issue all kind of decrees that have little to do with consultation, democracy, dialogue, or even respect for some human rights. To some extent, deeply inside, it is as if the French Revolution (or the Founding Fathers of the USA) had never existed. Most people still believe that, if we had governors that were wise enough, and honest enough, and bold enough, we would not need democracy at all: they would just, somehow, fix problems and bring prosperity.

If this is still prevalent now, imagine the concept of a government among the followers of all religions over the past millenia.

Therefore, it is reasonably to think that these dreams on theocracy are merely a reflection of how people (including very good people) conceive society. The multiple references for a future theocracy that we can find in all scriptures are probably a way Prophets and Manifestations use a language their audiences can understand.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Earth View Post

It is fundamentally imperative that people understand that any guidance offered to an individual from the Guardian is unique and for that person alone.

This is an outstanding statement that resonates strongly with me. I thank you for this, Earth.

I have been asking myself: To whom the Manifestations of God spoke/wrote?
  • To their people within their culture and time?
  • To all mankind for years to come?
  • To me as an individual?

Probably They spoke to the three at different levels and contexts. It is our responsibility to approach God through these different levels and channels, which include the sacred writings of the Manifestations, but also the guidance from parents, friends, Lesser Prophets, scientists and scholars, communities, and finally and most importantly, the Holy Spirit working within the rational soul of each one of us.

Last edited by camachoe; 07-18-2017 at 07:18 AM.
 
Old 07-20-2017, 03:21 PM   #15
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Joined: Jul 2017
From: Kettering, Ohio USA
Posts: 3
Quote:
Originally Posted by ernobe View Post
Reading this thread has reminded me of a reply I sent to one of Sen McGlinns'
posts, at
https://senmcglinn.wordpress.com/201...-the-governor/
It seems that, as in a previous occasion, he's having difficulties posting my replies.
I don't know if it was popular acclaim which forced him to previously. Anyway, he has
been excommunicated from the Faith for opposing the formation of a theocratic state.


Dear Sen,
I'm Roy who originally posed the question of the Guardian and the
Governor in a previous post, at
https://senmcglinn.wordpress.com/abo...s-14-may-2006/ .
This is intended to answer your reply to it there and here.

Someone who runs a business or is on a school board, is exercising temporal
administrative authority, which can be subject to the temporal political
authority of a Baha'i assembly, each working in its own sphere of influence and
without overstepping its limits in relation to the other. There is no
contradiction.

What you are proposing conflates the "temporal authority" of politicians and
businessmen, in such a way that there is no room for the "spiritual authority"
of Baha'i institutions to act as a go between. If one is bent on an inevitable
and irreconcilable separation of materialism and spirituality, just such a
conflation of temporal political authority with temporal administrative
authority might do the job. But it goes against the Baha'i principle of the
unity of science and religion. There is more to it than a mere intellectual
exercise.

In the current society you may see examples of politicians and businessmen
colluding and saying there is no other way to do things. But they don't have
the real interests of humanity at heart. It is all self-serving, and the poor
ignorant masses have all been duped by them. Will you follow in their
footsteps?

In the Baha'i view the high minded, praiseworthy leaders of thought are those
who have recognized that unbridled materialism is the scourge of humanity, and
can only lead to chaos and confusion. This has ever been the case, and the
Baha'i Cause is what will ultimately rid the world of the scourge of politics
and politicians, fulfilling the most ardent, hopeful dreams of all the by-gone
prophets and seers.
I don't think that is the reason why he has been declared a non-Baha'i. I don't know what the reason is, but it's not that.
 
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