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Old 11-13-2010, 03:47 PM   #1
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Baha'i and fiction literature

In the Kitab-i-Aqdas, it says we are only permitted those books of science that we may profit from. In other parts of the scriptures, however, it says that human creativity is a form of worship, since we are resembling one of Gods attributes in our own creation.

This confuses me slightly on the topic of books of fiction. They are not related to science in any way, but they are a form of creativity which surely we should admire and reward should we consider it skilled?

Any insight?

(I am referring to novels, poetry, any form of literature really that expresses creativity)

Last edited by Lunitik; 11-13-2010 at 03:51 PM.
 
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Old 11-13-2010, 04:00 PM   #2
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"All knowledge is a single point, the ignorant have multiplied it."
 
Old 11-13-2010, 04:02 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lunitik View Post
In the Kitab-i-Aqdas, it says we are only permitted those books of science that we may profit from. In other parts of the scriptures, however, it says that human creativity is a form of worship, since we are resembling one of Gods attributes in our own creation.

This confuses me slightly on the topic of books of fiction. They are not related to science in any way, but they are a form of creativity which surely we should admire and reward should we consider it skilled?

Any insight?


(I am referring to novels, poetry, any form of literature really that expresses creativity)
Good question - I have given this a fair bit of thought and I do beleive that a lot of this fiction will have to go.

My thought is that by viewing or reading all that is out there that is not of God is very harmfull to manking as a whole.

My reasoning is that we do not know the power of our own minds and what influence all this has upon us and how our mid radiates this into the world of being.

So if we view pornographic images/films, Murder shows, demonic movies etc, the impressions we get are then thrown out into the world and may influence others.

We are told in the writings if an impure thought enters our mind then replace it with a pure thought immediately. When we view/read that what is not pure we are not doing this, thus allowing our thoughts to enter the world of being.

This is quite a big topic and well done bringing it to attention. I think the only way to change the world is to first change ourselves, so all of us have to decide what we should let our minds reflect upon.

Our example is Abdul'baha, did Abdul'baha read or watch any non Godly fiction? I think our creativity has to remain in the reality of what is good and avoid what is not IMHO

Cheers Tony
 
Old 11-13-2010, 04:52 PM   #4
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When referring to the Aqdas I think it best if you use an actual quote..that way we can see where you're getting your idea.

If it's the passage as follows:

77
God hath relieved you of the ordinance laid down
in the Bayan concerning the destruction of books. We
have permitted you to read such sciences as are
profitable unto you, not such as end in idle disputation;
better is this for you, if ye be of them that comprehend.

(Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 47)

I doubt personally that refers to fiction works as they don't "end in idle disputation"..at least the ones I know about. I personally think Baha'u'llah may be referring to some of the theological excesses of the Mullas of His time or maybe "sciences that begin with words and end with words" with little substantive or practical import.

2.One of the names of God is the Fashioner. He loveth craftsmanship. Therefore any of His servants who manifesteth this attribute is acceptable in the sight of this Wronged One. Craftsmanship is a book among the books of divine sciences, and a treasure among the treasures of His heavenly wisdom. This is a knowledge with meaning, for some of the sciences are brought forth by words and come to an end with words.

(Bahá'u'lláh from a Tablet - translated from the Persian)

http://bahai-library.com/compilation_arts_crafts



Also many of the laws of the Aqdas are not yet implemented and when they are the House of Justice will give us a complete explanation and guidance...

Art and literature are encouraged as far as I know and we know this because there have been works of fiction by Baha'is for a long time..

Florence Mayberry wrote mystery novels.. Florence worked with Bill Sears Hand of the Cause as Continental Counselor..

Juliet Thompson wrote "I Mary Magdalene" a fictional work many years ago.

I, Mary Magdalene

The production of books and compilations of literature alone bear witness that the output of the human mind in this century has been greater and more enlightening than all the past centuries together

(Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'i World Faith, p. 228)

A world script, a world literature, a uniform and universal system of currency, of xii weights and measures, will simplify and facilitate intercourse and understanding among the nations and races of mankind.

(Baha'u'llah, The Proclamation of Baha'u'llah, p. xi)

We don't know what shape as yet that world literature will be like..

Here are some current Baha'i poets:

Writers and Poets - Baha'i Links

Last edited by arthra; 11-13-2010 at 05:04 PM.
 
Old 11-13-2010, 05:13 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tonyfish58 View Post
I think the only way to change the world is to first change ourselves, so all of us have to decide what we should let our minds reflect upon.
For myself, I believe this is the key. If we fully comprehend that it is not real, and thus do not give it weight it does not warrant, I do not see how it could possibly be harmful.

Long before I even had heard of Baha'i, my belief has been that if we censor people excessively we are doing more harm than good. If we only allow ourselves to see one side of a disagreement, we are bound to be biased. I do not believe there is any harm in being exposed to bad provided you are aware of good, and believe good will always triumph. This allows you to maintain hope and belief, rather than scaring your soul.

I thank you for your input, however
 
Old 11-13-2010, 05:14 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arthra View Post
When referring to the Aqdas I think it best if you use an actual quote..that way we can see where you're getting your idea.

If it's the passage as follows:

77
God hath relieved you of the ordinance laid down
in the Bayan concerning the destruction of books. We
have permitted you to read such sciences as are
profitable unto you, not such as end in idle disputation;
better is this for you, if ye be of them that comprehend.

(Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 47)

I doubt personally that refers to fiction works as they don't "end in idle disputation"..at least the ones I know about. I personally think Baha'u'llah may be referring to some of the theological excesses of the Mullas of His time or maybe "sciences that begin with words and end with words" with little substantive or practical import.

2.One of the names of God is the Fashioner. He loveth craftsmanship. Therefore any of His servants who manifesteth this attribute is acceptable in the sight of this Wronged One. Craftsmanship is a book among the books of divine sciences, and a treasure among the treasures of His heavenly wisdom. This is a knowledge with meaning, for some of the sciences are brought forth by words and come to an end with words.

(Bahá'u'lláh from a Tablet - translated from the Persian)

Arts and Crafts



Also many of the laws of the Aqdas are not yet implemented and when they are the House of Justice will give us a complete explanation and guidance...

Art and literature are encouraged as far as I know and we know this because there have been works of fiction by Baha'is for a long time..

Florence Mayberry wrote mystery novels.. Florence worked with Bill Sears Hand of the Cause as Continental Counselor..

Juliet Thompson wrote "I Mary Magdalene" a fictional work many years ago.

I, Mary Magdalene

The production of books and compilations of literature alone bear witness that the output of the human mind in this century has been greater and more enlightening than all the past centuries together

(Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'i World Faith, p. 228)

A world script, a world literature, a uniform and universal system of currency, of xii weights and measures, will simplify and facilitate intercourse and understanding among the nations and races of mankind.

(Baha'u'llah, The Proclamation of Baha'u'llah, p. xi)

We don't know what shape as yet that world literature will be like..

Here are some current Baha'i poets:

Writers and Poets - Baha'i Links
As always, your input is quite valued due to its understanding and levelness, thank you again. I really have nothing to add
 
Old 11-13-2010, 05:16 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Essence of GOD View Post
"All knowledge is a single point, the ignorant have multiplied it."
I apologize, I am not sure what you are inferring here. I am not discussing knowledge but creativity.
 
Old 11-13-2010, 05:42 PM   #8
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There is nothing in Baha'i teachings that forbids reading or writing fiction. It would help if you would quote chapter and verse when you make a statement like that.

"In the third Tajalli (effulgence) of the Book of Tajalliyat (Book of Effulgences) We have mentioned: "Arts, crafts and sciences uplift the world of being, and are conducive to its exaltation. Knowledge is as wings to man's life, and a ladder for his ascent. Its acquisition is incumbent upon everyone. The knowledge of such sciences, however, should be acquired as can profit the peoples of the earth, and not those which begin with words and end with words. Great indeed is the claim of scientists and craftsmen on the peoples of the world. Unto this beareth witness the Mother Book in this conspicuous station."

In truth, knowledge is a veritable treasure for man, and a source of glory, of bounty, of joy, of exaltation, of cheer and gladness unto him. Happy the man that cleaveth unto it, and woe betide the heedless."

(Baha'u'llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 26)
 
Old 11-13-2010, 05:45 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lunitik View Post
In the Kitab-i-Aqdas, it says we are only permitted those books of science that we may PROFIT from.
key word is profit, why waste your time on some wrong information?
sure creativity is good, but to create something to hurt others, wheres the worship in that?

Last edited by Essence of GOD; 11-13-2010 at 05:47 PM.
 
Old 11-13-2010, 05:48 PM   #10
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"What Bahá'u'lláh meant primarily with "sciences that begin and end in words" are those theological treatises and commentaries that encumber the human mind rather than help it to attain the truth. The students would devote their life to their study but still attain no where. Bahá'u'lláh surely never meant to include story-writing under such a category; and shorthand and typewriting are both most useful talents, very necessary in our present social and economic life.

What you could do, and should do, is to use your stories to become a source of inspiration and guidance for those who read them. With such a means at your disposal you can spread the spirit and teachings of the Cause; you can show the evils that exist in society, as well as the way they can be remedied. If you possess a real talent in writing you should consider it as given by God and exert your efforts to use it for the betterment of society."

(Shoghi Effendi, 30 November 1932, to an individual)
(Compilations, The Importance of the Arts in Promoting the Faith)

Last edited by bwb; 11-15-2010 at 11:37 AM.
 
Old 11-13-2010, 05:59 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bwb View Post
There is nothing in Baha'i teachings that forbids reading or writing fiction. It would help if you would quote chapter and verse when you make a statement like that.

"In the third Tajalli (effulgence) of the Book of Tajalliyat (Book of Effulgences) We have mentioned: "Arts, crafts and sciences uplift the world of being, and are conducive to its exaltation. Knowledge is as wings to man's life, and a ladder for his ascent. Its acquisition is incumbent upon everyone. The knowledge of such sciences, however, should be acquired as can profit the peoples of the earth, and not those which begin with words and end with words. Great indeed is the claim of scientists and craftsmen on the peoples of the world. Unto this beareth witness the Mother Book in this conspicuous station."

In truth, knowledge is a veritable treasure for man, and a source of glory, of bounty, of joy, of exaltation, of cheer and gladness unto him. Happy the man that cleaveth unto it, and woe betide the heedless."

(Baha'u'llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 26)
I was not inferring that I had seen a passage that strictly forbade, that is why there was nothing to quote. I referred to a passage that allowed only books of science that allowed us to profit as quoted by arthra, and my confusion with texts such as you have quoted here.

I apologize if you drew more from my words than was intended
 
Old 11-13-2010, 06:04 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Essence of GOD View Post
key word is profit, why waste your time on some wrong information?
sure creativity is good, but to create something to hurt others, wheres the worship in that?
My issue is the assumption that all fiction will hurt others. It is surely a case-by-case matter, rather than a blanket case. I enjoy reading fiction prior to sleep because I find it relaxing, and I find an escape in it. For me, religious texts are much more serious in nature, and often I find my mind racing after reading as I decipher and meditate on it.

I believe it could be reasoned that this does profit me, as without such escape, I tend to be an insomniac
 
Old 11-13-2010, 06:09 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lunitik View Post
My issue is the assumption that all fiction will hurt others. It is surely a case-by-case matter, rather than a blanket case. I enjoy reading fiction prior to sleep because I find it relaxing, and I find an escape in it. For me, religious texts are much more serious in nature, and often I find my mind racing after reading as I decipher and meditate on it.

I believe it could be reasoned that this does profit me, as without such escape, I tend to be an insomniac
Thats personal,
for me i feel 100 times more pleasure in reading something useful and correct, it some how inspires me.
but if you enjoy a fictional work, by all means don't let anyone stop you.
the concern is that some stories fool people in believing in something other than the truth.
thats all
 
Old 11-13-2010, 06:16 PM   #14
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So if I were to make a fictional story (which I'm working on) and one of the characters happens to be Baha'i, its okay? So long as I don't misrepresent the faith?
 
Old 11-13-2010, 06:21 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Essence of GOD View Post
Thats personal,
for me i feel 100 times more pleasure in reading something useful and correct, it some how inspires me.
but if you enjoy a fictional work, by all means don't let anyone stop you.
the concern is that some stories fool people in believing in something other than the truth.
thats all
I agree
 
Old 11-14-2010, 11:13 PM   #16
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I'm still a bit confused on the "sciences that begin and end with words" part of the quote from Bahá'u'lláh.

If the quote does mean the science I'm used to, like physics, chemistry, astronomy, that kind of stuff, does the quote imply in a way that science which doesn't actually solve something concrete is... useless?

What I'm getting at is like, those sciences in which really, really intelligent people are trying to figure out if other dimensions exist, or what like space is made out of, how the universe is held together... all theoretical science. Doesn't this type of science begin with words and end with words? Because they're never actually finding any answers, just speculating and theorizing and thinking and thinking and thinking about these opaque concepts. The question is asked, "What is the universe made of?" and it is answered with more words, a theory, no evidence. That, in a way, would fit under "science that begins and ends with words", right? Does this mean that science which only produces theories that can never actually be proven is something we shouldn't bother ourselves with?
 
Old 11-15-2010, 03:59 AM   #17
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I have just read that link Arthra posted - I Mary Magdalane - is it a Baha'i work? I cannot believe how highly thought of Mary Magdalene is in the Baha'i Faith. More than any woman in history she seems to capture public attention and enrapture people. She is my favourite biblical personage after Jesus himself and his Mother the Blessed Virgin! I have always adored her which is why I could not quite believe my eyes when I read:

"Perusing this book one is carried back two thousand years, into the soul and consciousness of Mary, the Magdalen — into that flaming heart of the archetypal woman of all cycles, vessel created to receive in torrential measure the love of her Lord — a link between His heart and all aspiring humanity.

This is, in very truth, the age-long drama at its apogee of the evolving soul emerging from the prison of the lesser love, through the fiery crucible of agony, to the freedom and ecstasy of love divine.
"

That is totally Mary Magdalene! There is a Catholic tradition which states that when Mary came to believe in Jesus, she gave up everything for 'love' of him. All her friends and associates turned their backs on her. She suffered terrible pain and distress to be with Jesus. She witnessed his Passion while all the male disciples fled and was the first disciple to 'see' him on third day! She was the first witness to the resurrection - thus the First Christian since this is the pivotal event of our Faith - and yet all the male disciples didn't believe her because in the first Century the witness of a woman meant nothing!

But of course, Mary got the last laugh Since she is basically forgotten in Islamic literature, in the West often mixed up with other woman and in the modern world linked with fictional stories that claim she was in a sexual relationship with her Lord - it is wonderful to see another religious tradition which honours the real MAGDALENE!

Modern scholarship, as in this article by a Roman Catholic author: http://ramon_k_jusino.tripod.com/magdalene.html Shows that the 'Beloved Disciple' of John was actually Mary Magdalene and not John as was commonly believed and that she is the real inspiration behind the Fourth Gospel! By beloved disciple we mean a deep, close, Divine relationship based on mutual understanding not 'romance' as modern writers claim. Mary understood Jesus and his mission more than any other disciple.

For her special role Magdalene was given the title, "Apostle to the Apostles"! She had a message given especially to her that not even Jesus' own Twelve Male Apostles received! Whether one believes this to be a literal message (Christianity) or a real but spiritual visionary message (Baha'i - a Vision of Jesus in an afterlife state) Mary Magdalene undoubtedly witnessed the most incredible supernatural event in human history - the very epicentre and crux of the Christian Faith which without, St Paul said we are 'in vain'!

Here is the beautiful, most touching scene in the Bible where Mary 'sees' Jesus (from a Christian perspective literally and from a Baha'i perspective in a vision like the one seen by the Disciples on the Transfiguration Mount of Moses and Elijah)

Mark

9 Now after he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. 10She went out and told those who had been with him, while they were mourning and weeping. 11But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they refused to believe it.

John

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene
11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look* into the tomb; 12and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’ 14When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ 16Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew,* ‘Rabbouni!’ (which means Teacher). 17Jesus said to her, ‘Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” ’ 18Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her.


Good for you Baha'is - I really must applaud you

And here a is a beautiful sculpture of Mary Magdalene I believe by a Catholic (who in every tradition we have of her both East and West was reputed to be very beautiful)



Incident shown: Mary has been bent, huddled, distraught at the disappearance of Jesus' body. Then she hears her name spoken, and turns, looking upward to Jesus standing behind her.

Comment: This poignant image captures the moment of Mary's incomprehension, as she hears her name spoken by someone she knows is dead. After all, she has been present at the crucifixion of Jesus, seen his sagging body removed from the cross, and then been the one who laid out his corpse in the tomb. She has no doubt that Jesus is dead. But now, inexplicably, she recognizes his voice.

How is this possible? This question is the Great Mystery of the Christian Faith, the Mystery and Truth and Fact of the resurrection. And Mary's face in this beautiful sculpture captures what is for Christians the most important, turning event in human history - the central dogma of our faith. And it was Mary Magdalene, the young Jewish girl from a Gentile village, that saw it! What an honour! How Blessed is she! It is she who was the first and primary witness! 2,000 years later we rely upon her witness. The Christian Faith rests upon the primary witness of one woman!!!!!!

Here is an article describing Mary's story:

Her hometown Magdala was a thriving center of the fishing industry, producing smoked fish in large quantities. That’s how she made her money, not as a whore.
But she did have a serious illness – just what it was we do not know. People believed some illnesses like schizophrenia or epilepsy were caused by evil spirits entering the body, and she was thought to have seven of them living in her body. That meant she was very ill indeed.

But at some point in her life, Mary met an itinerant miracle worker called Jesus, and he cured her. She was bowled over by him, and became a faithful supporter. She led a group of women who traveled with Jesus, and who supported him financially. She led the women’s group, Peter led the men’s.

When things went badly wrong at Passover time in Jerusalem, she stood by Jesus. She was close to him during his life. She would be close to him when he faced death. The men disciples fled – there was every possibility they might be next. But Mary stood as near to the cross as she could, watching every dreadful action, hearing every scream. No one can imagine what it was like.

When he was finally dead, silent at last, they took him down from the cross. Then she faced the task that every Jewish woman had to do sooner or later – preparing the body of someone she loved for burial.

It all had to be done quickly – the Sabbath was about to begin. This meant that ointments and spices could not be bought. The women would have to come back after the Sabbath and complete the task.

At the earliest opportunity, they returned to the tomb where his body had been placed. There was no one there. The soldiers were nowhere to be seen, and the place seemed deserted. Jesus’ body was gone. Where was it? A young man at the tomb said that Jesus was gone – but gone where?

Mary collapsed on the ground. Everything was wrong. Then someone spoke to her, said her name, and she recognized the voice. It was Jesus. She was mute with shock. She made as if to grab hold of him, but he pulled back. Don’t hold on to me, he said. Just tell the others.

She ran back to the house where the men were hidden. He’s alive, she shouted. He’s alive.

Last edited by Yeshua; 11-15-2010 at 04:31 AM.
 
Old 11-15-2010, 11:44 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Celerity View Post
I'm still a bit confused on the "sciences that begin and end with words" part of the quote from Bahá'u'lláh.

If the quote does mean the science I'm used to, like physics, chemistry, astronomy, that kind of stuff, does the quote imply in a way that science which doesn't actually solve something concrete is... useless?

What I'm getting at is like, those sciences in which really, really intelligent people are trying to figure out if other dimensions exist, or what like space is made out of, how the universe is held together... all theoretical science. Doesn't this type of science begin with words and end with words? Because they're never actually finding any answers, just speculating and theorizing and thinking and thinking and thinking about these opaque concepts. The question is asked, "What is the universe made of?" and it is answered with more words, a theory, no evidence. That, in a way, would fit under "science that begins and ends with words", right? Does this mean that science which only produces theories that can never actually be proven is something we shouldn't bother ourselves with?
I think it refers to works of science that don't actually make any concrete statements, simply theories upon theories that support their hypothesis. I think that your assertion is correct.

We do not have the means currently to confirm such theories as you discuss, so its really a waste of time even studying such things imo - although from the opposite direction, it makes you think and thus can be interesting.
 
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