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Old 01-22-2017, 03:16 AM   #1
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Seeking a Baha'i study of the Qur'an...

I've searched the web recently for a study of the Qur'an from a Baha'i perspective. I've found several texts on interpretations of Qur'anic quotes that help support the authenticity of the Baha'i revelation. Still, I've found very little on the teachings of the Qur'an itself apart from this.

Although I've read the Qur'an, I find it one of the more difficult scriptures to absorb any spiritual meaning from. It is a harsh revelation, filled with threats and warnings. Coming from a Christian background and raised on the teachings of God's love from the New Testament, it is particularly off-putting. This has been and continues to be one of the biggest obstacles preventing me from accepting the Baha'i faith as my own. I find it difficult to reconcile the harshness of the Qur'an with the message of peace and love put forth in the Baha'i writings.

I feel I cannot be the only person who has encountered this. Surely, somewhere out there is a study of the Qur'an from a Baha'i perspective that can see beyond all the harshness and distill the spiritual teachings from the Qur'an so that they can be applied to the Baha'i faith. I know the Kitab-i-Iqan deals with Qur'anic teachings, but as one who is not familiar with the Qur'an it is a difficult read. Surely there must be something for those not familiar with the Qur'an?

If no such Baha'i guide to the Qur'an has been written, I strongly, strongly recommend that one be written to help teach the faith in the West. Surely the knowledge and resources to create such a guide exist within the ranks of Baha'is. I refuse to believe otherwise. Not having such a guide leaves a gaping hole in the efforts to teach the Baha'i faith in the West, where the Qur'an does not receive much positive press.

One could say that if I wanted to know more about the spiritual teachings of the Qur'an, why not contact Muslims? It is because, quite honestly, that I already greatly prefer the Baha'i faith over what I know of Islam. Admittedly, I know much more about Baha'i than Islam, but I can say with certainty that while I may one day become a Baha'i, the odds of me becoming a Muslim are virtually nil. Just as someone who is interested in Christianity would most likely want to study the Old Testament from a Christian perspective, so too would I like to study the Qur'an from a Baha'i perspective.

Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.
 
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Old 01-22-2017, 09:38 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scribe View Post
I've searched the web recently for a study of the Qur'an from a Baha'i perspective. I've found several texts on interpretations of Qur'anic quotes that help support the authenticity of the Baha'i revelation. Still, I've found very little on the teachings of the Qur'an itself apart from this.

Although I've read the Qur'an, I find it one of the more difficult scriptures to absorb any spiritual meaning from. It is a harsh revelation, filled with threats and warnings. Coming from a Christian background and raised on the teachings of God's love from the New Testament, it is particularly off-putting. This has been and continues to be one of the biggest obstacles preventing me from accepting the Baha'i faith as my own. I find it difficult to reconcile the harshness of the Qur'an with the message of peace and love put forth in the Baha'i writings.

I feel I cannot be the only person who has encountered this. Surely, somewhere out there is a study of the Qur'an from a Baha'i perspective that can see beyond all the harshness and distill the spiritual teachings from the Qur'an so that they can be applied to the Baha'i faith. I know the Kitab-i-Iqan deals with Qur'anic teachings, but as one who is not familiar with the Qur'an it is a difficult read. Surely there must be something for those not familiar with the Qur'an?

If no such Baha'i guide to the Qur'an has been written, I strongly, strongly recommend that one be written to help teach the faith in the West. Surely the knowledge and resources to create such a guide exist within the ranks of Baha'is. I refuse to believe otherwise. Not having such a guide leaves a gaping hole in the efforts to teach the Baha'i faith in the West, where the Qur'an does not receive much positive press.

One could say that if I wanted to know more about the spiritual teachings of the Qur'an, why not contact Muslims? It is because, quite honestly, that I already greatly prefer the Baha'i faith over what I know of Islam. Admittedly, I know much more about Baha'i than Islam, but I can say with certainty that while I may one day become a Baha'i, the odds of me becoming a Muslim are virtually nil. Just as someone who is interested in Christianity would most likely want to study the Old Testament from a Christian perspective, so too would I like to study the Qur'an from a Baha'i perspective.

Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.

I've not heard of one.. there are many verses that have been individually talked about by 'Abdu'l Bahá and the Báb.
 
Old 01-22-2017, 09:36 PM   #3
Kam
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scribe View Post
I've searched the web recently for a study of the Qur'an from a Baha'i perspective. I've found several texts on interpretations of Qur'anic quotes that help support the authenticity of the Baha'i revelation. Still, I've found very little on the teachings of the Qur'an itself apart from this.

Although I've read the Qur'an, I find it one of the more difficult scriptures to absorb any spiritual meaning from. It is a harsh revelation, filled with threats and warnings. Coming from a Christian background and raised on the teachings of God's love from the New Testament, it is particularly off-putting. This has been and continues to be one of the biggest obstacles preventing me from accepting the Baha'i faith as my own. I find it difficult to reconcile the harshness of the Qur'an with the message of peace and love put forth in the Baha'i writings.

I feel I cannot be the only person who has encountered this. Surely, somewhere out there is a study of the Qur'an from a Baha'i perspective that can see beyond all the harshness and distill the spiritual teachings from the Qur'an so that they can be applied to the Baha'i faith. I know the Kitab-i-Iqan deals with Qur'anic teachings, but as one who is not familiar with the Qur'an it is a difficult read. Surely there must be something for those not familiar with the Qur'an?

If no such Baha'i guide to the Qur'an has been written, I strongly, strongly recommend that one be written to help teach the faith in the West. Surely the knowledge and resources to create such a guide exist within the ranks of Baha'is. I refuse to believe otherwise. Not having such a guide leaves a gaping hole in the efforts to teach the Baha'i faith in the West, where the Qur'an does not receive much positive press.

One could say that if I wanted to know more about the spiritual teachings of the Qur'an, why not contact Muslims? It is because, quite honestly, that I already greatly prefer the Baha'i faith over what I know of Islam. Admittedly, I know much more about Baha'i than Islam, but I can say with certainty that while I may one day become a Baha'i, the odds of me becoming a Muslim are virtually nil. Just as someone who is interested in Christianity would most likely want to study the Old Testament from a Christian perspective, so too would I like to study the Qur'an from a Baha'i perspective.

Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.
Hi Scribe,

Something that helped me with accepting the Quran for it's harshness, was to draw parallels between the harshness of the Old Testament compared to the New Testament.

Certain populations require harsh Laws before being given the responsibilities of more nurturing progression.

Kam
 
Old 01-23-2017, 08:41 AM   #4
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Well... if none currently exists, maybe we should take the initiative and do it ourselves.

Surah 1: Al-Fatihah [The Opening]

The first Surah is a short and simple one:

Quote:
Originally Posted by 1:1-7
In the name of God, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful. All praise is to God, Lord of the worlds - the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful, Sovereign of the Day of Recompense. It is You we worship and You we ask for help. Guide us to the straight path - the path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked Your anger or of those who are astray.
So The Opening is the introduction of the Quran, beginning the Book with praise to God and a request to keep us on the right path. In my opinion, a very good way to start the study of any scripture.

Surah 2: Al-Baqarah [The Calf]

The second Surah, on the other hand, is one of the longest, so we must take it in parts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2:1
Alif, Lam, Meem.
This Surah, like many, begins with abbreviated letters, in this case (roughly) "A-L-M". There's actually quite a lot of debate over what these mean. Two explanations I have seen that both make sense to me are that they are either abbreviations of names of God, or meant to illustrate the Quran's mastery over the Arabic language, as the Quran's command of language is one of its proofs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2:2-5
This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of God - who believe in the unseen, establish prayer, and spend out of what We have provided for them, and who believe in what has been revealed to you, (Muhammad), and what was revealed before you, and of the Hereafter they are certain. Those are upon guidance from their Lord, and it is those who are the successful.
This next paragraph is meant to elaborate on what the Quran is, guidance for those who believe in God, Divine Revelation through Muhammad, and the continuation of the revelations of the Prophets of old. From the Baha'i perspective, we get themes of Progressive Revelation in these verses with "what was revealed before you".

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2:6
Indeed, those who disbelieve - it is all the same for them whether you warn them or do not warn them - they will not believe
The next verse states that those who hear the message and disbelieve will disbelieve regardless of how hard you may try to convince them otherwise. This may be a good explanation for why the Baha'i Faith forbids proselytization.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2:7
God has set a seal upon their hearts and upon their hearing, and over their vision is a veil. And for them is a great punishment.
This is probably the first "hard verse", as in, a verse that might be hard for us to understand from a Baha'i perspective. This verse seems to state that God has made it so that certain people cannot know him.

To get a clearer picture of this, we need to jump ahead briefly, to Quran 61:5: "And when they deviated, God caused their hearts to deviate. And God does not guide the defiantly disobedient people."

With 61:5 we get the cause-effect of the situation described in 2:7: It's not that God causes people to deviate and then punishes them for that, but rather saying that one first turns from God, and then in turn God does not guide them. God, in a way, allows deviation and does not force someone who does not want to follow Him to do so. His guidance is something we come to freely, without force, and something we can leave if we so choose at any time.

The second part of this verse, "And for them is a great punishment.", we know from the Baha'i writings that this refers to separation from God, which is a punishment in-and-of-itself, and thus is a self-inflicted punishment.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2:8-20
And of the people are some who say, "We believe in God and the Last Day," but they are not believers. They (think to) deceive God and those who believe, but they deceive not except themselves and perceive not. In their hearts is disease, so God has increased their disease; and for them is a painful punishment because they lie. And when it is said to them, "Do not cause corruption on the earth," they say, "We are but reformers." Unquestionably, it is they who are the corrupters, but they perceive not. And when it is said to them, "Believe as the people have believed," they say, "Should we believe as the foolish have believed?" Unquestionably, it is they who are the foolish, but they know not. And when they meet those who believe, they say, "We believe"; but when they are alone with their evil ones, they say, "Indeed, we are with you; we were only mockers." God mocks them and prolongs them in their transgression (while) they wander blindly. Those are the ones who have purchased error for guidance, so their transaction has brought no profit, nor were they guided. Their example is that of one who kindled a fire, but when it illuminated what was around him, God took away their light and left them in darkness (so) they could not see. Deaf, dumb and blind - so they will not return. Or like a rainstorm from the sky within which is darkness, thunder and lightning. They put their fingers in their ears against the thunderclaps in dread of death. But God is encompassing of the disbelievers. The lightning almost snatches away their sight. Every time it lights for them, they walk therein; but when darkness comes over them, they stand (still). And if God had willed, He could have taken away their hearing and their sight. Indeed, God is over all things competent.
This next part deals with hypocrisy, specifically those who are hypocrites while they claim to stand for and represent God. These sorts of people are portrayed as worse than someone who merely chooses not to believe, and so there are much more verses talking about them than about the non-believers.

It's also really relevant in this day and age. Consider the verse "And when it is said to them, 'Do not cause corruption on the earth,' they say, 'We are but reformers.'" in relation to modern day Islamic terrorism. Most of the extreme elements come out of the Wahhabi movement (although those within the movement itself reject that title, professing to be true Islam), and are founded on the teachings of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, who lived in the eighteenth century and is partially responsible for the power structure in modern Saudi Arabia (the Saudi dynasty promoted his teachings in exchange for his promoting their dynasty). The important part here, is that the people who follow the teachings of al-Wahhab view themselves as reformers. They think Islam has become corrupt, and thus necessitates a 'reform' of it to return it to some past glory. As the verse states, we have a group that causes corruption under the guise of "reformation". That alone makes this one of the more salient verses for today's age.

Additionally, we see they are not wholly without guidance. Their guidance comes in brief "flashes", like lightning during a storm, but most of the time they must stumble in darkness due to their deception and self-deception.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2:21-23
O mankind, worship your Lord, who created you and those before you, that you may become righteous - who made for you the earth a bed and the sky a ceiling and sent down from the sky, rain and brought forth thereby fruits as provision for you. So do not attribute to God equals while you know. And if you are in doubt about what We have sent down upon Our Servant, then produce a Surah the like thereof and call upon your witnesses other than God, if you should be truthful.
Here we get a call to believe in God as well as the common proof of the Quran: that no mortal can produce verses like it. Also from a Baha'i perspective it sets a standard for using our own Scriptures and finding the proof of them within their own passages.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2:24
But if you do not - and you will never be able to - then fear the Fire, whose fuel is men and stones, prepared for the disbelievers.
From 'Abdu'l-Baha, we know that this Fire is the separation from God, "But for the people of God separation from God is the greatest torment of all." Baha'u'llah calls it in the Fire Tablet the "fire of separation". Again the punishment is the sin itself.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2:25
And give good tidings to those who believe and do righteous deeds that they will have gardens beneath which rivers flow. Whenever they are provided with a provision of fruit therefrom, they will say, "This is what we were provided with before." And it is given to them in likeness. And they will have therein purified spouses, and they will abide therein eternally.
"[Gardens] beneath which rivers flow" is an allusion to Heaven, which is described as such in Islam.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2:26
Indeed, God is not timid to present an example - that of a gnat or what is smaller than it. And those who have believed know that it is the truth from their Lord. But as for those who disbelieve, they say, "What did God intend by this as an example?" He misleads many thereby and guides many thereby. And He misleads not except the defiantly disobedient,
I'm... sure Gnat has something to say about this verse. Hey Gnat you're proof of God!!

This verse is points to the Gnat as a proof of God, for to create even the smallest of creatures takes a tremendous amount of complexity in creation. We also get here a claim that this proof is only misleading to the "defiantly disobedient", that is, those looking to be misled.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2:27
Who break the covenant of God after contracting it and sever that which God has ordered to be joined and cause corruption on earth. It is those who are the losers.
Here we get a verse touching on the importance of Unity, and that those who would disjoint something in a state of Unity will achieve only loss.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2:28-29
How can you disbelieve in God when you were lifeless and He brought you to life; then He will cause you to die, then He will bring you to life, and then to Him you will be returned. It is He who created for you all of that which is on the earth. Then He directed Himself to the heaven, and made them seven heavens, and He is Knowing of all things.
Fitting the theme of the gnat-verse above, this is more in the theme of "Creation itself is proof of God".

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2:30-34
And when your Lord said to the angels, "Indeed, I will make upon the earth a successive authority." They said, "Will You place upon it one who causes corruption therein and sheds blood, while we declare Your praise and sanctify You?" God said, "Indeed, I know that which you do not know." And He taught Adam the names - all of them. Then He showed them to the angels and said, "Inform Me of the names of these, if you are truthful." They said, "Exalted are You; we have no knowledge except what You have taught us. Indeed, it is You who is the Knowing, the Wise." He said, "O Adam, inform them of their names." And when he had informed them of their names, He said, "Did I not tell you that I know the unseen of the heavens and the earth? And I know what you reveal and what you have concealed." And when We said to the angels, "Prostrate before Adam"; so they prostrated, except for Iblis. He refused and was arrogant and became of the disbelievers.
Here we get a story of Creation. Whether you want to take it literally, figuratively, or both (I don't see why something can't be both literal and figurative), is up to you.

Basically God announces He will give the World a Prophet. Then the angels, believing themselves perfect, question God about His intent. Will He really give such authority to a human, a less perfect being then they, being angels, are??

God affirms that he knows more than the angels ever can, and thus His decision is greater then their opinions on the subject. He appoints Adam, and all angels submit to the Prophet, except for Iblis who, again believing himself more perfect than a human, refuses to submit.

This theme is mirrored in, well, the entirety of the Kitab-i-Iqan, with a major theme of that book being "God chooses whoever He Will to be His Messenger." The Kitab-i-Iqan does this wonderfully, and points out the imperfections of the choices God made for his Prophets. (Yes, Prophets are Infallible (or Guarded from Error in the original language), but they are not necessarily so before their appointment. The Iqan makes a big deal about Moses being guilty for the sin of murder, yet still being chosen by God for Prophethood.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2:35-37
And We said, "O Adam, dwell, you and your wife, in Paradise and eat therefrom in abundance from wherever you will. But do not approach this tree, lest you be among the wrongdoers." But Satan caused them to slip out of it and removed them from that (condition) in which they had been. And We said, "Go down, as enemies to one another, and you will have upon the earth a place of settlement and provision for a time." Then Adam received from his Lord words, and He accepted his repentance. Indeed, it is He who is the Accepting of repentance, the Merciful.
Man, I could probably write like an entire book on the subject of the symbolism within specifically this part of the Creation narrative!!

But to keep it short we can glean from this that disobedience to God (and possibly the acceptance of "Knowledge" of Good and Evil (though this specific point is not in the Quranic account)) was the original cause of strife and enmity in mankind.

Interestingly, unlike the account of Genesis, the Quran also tells us of Adam repenting and God accepting and forgiving him of his transgression. An interesting addition to the story.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2:38-46
We said, "Go down from it, all of you. And when guidance comes to you from Me, whoever follows My guidance - there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve. And those who disbelieve and deny Our signs - those will be companions of the Fire; they will abide therein eternally." O Children of Israel, remember My favor which I have bestowed upon you and fulfill My covenant (upon you) that I will fulfill your covenant (from Me), and be afraid of (only) Me. And believe in what I have sent down confirming that which is (already) with you, and be not the first to disbelieve in it. And do not exchange My signs for a small price, and fear (only) Me. And do not mix the truth with falsehood or conceal the truth while you know. And establish prayer and give charity and bow with those who bow. Do you order righteousness of the people and forget yourselves while you recite the Scripture? Then will you not reason? And seek help through patience and prayer, and indeed, it is difficult except for the humbly submissive. Who are certain that they will meet their Lord and that they will return to Him.
First we have advice to follow the Prophets and Revelations of God, we have again reference to the Fire which has already been explained. A call to the people of God to remember their blessings and the Revelations of old. Furthermore is a call to be truthful, to "fear" (in older terminology this means "respect") only God, to give charity, observe prayer, and be patient.

There's also a call to not order others to be righteous without focusing on one's own righteousness, from a Baha'i lens, a call against backbiting.

There's also a statement that patience and prayer is "difficult" except for the submissive. This is more my fascination with Taoist writings that strictly Baha'i ones talking, but I take this to mean if one is "submissive", IE, accepting of the world the way it is and accepting whatever God will give, then things will generally come easier for the person because of that submissive nature. If one doesn't fault-find the world, then one can more easily accept what others would view as burden or hardship.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2:47-50
O Children of Israel, remember My favor that I have bestowed upon you and that I preferred you over the worlds. And fear a Day when no soul will suffice for another soul at all, nor will intercession be accepted from it, nor will compensation be taken from it, nor will they be aided. And when We saved your forefathers from the people of Pharaoh, who afflicted you with the worst torment, slaughtering your sons and keeping your females alive. And in that was a great trial from your Lord. And when We parted the sea for you and saved you and drowned the people of Pharaoh while you were looking on.
A call to remember a time when there were many hardships placed upon the people of God. ("[Great] trial from your Lord" here likely doesn't mean that in a literal sense (as in, God literally causing the Hebrew boys to be killed), but "great trial" as in the general Problem of Evil and how people must find ways to deal with it)

But it also calls on people to remember the many blessings God has given, and the fact that God delivered the people from their hardships.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2:51-61
And when We made an appointment with Moses for forty nights. Then you took (for worship) the calf after him, while you were wrongdoers. Then We forgave you after that so perhaps you would be grateful. And when We gave Moses the Scripture and criterion that perhaps you would be guided. And when Moses said to his people, "O my people, indeed you have wronged yourselves by your taking of the calf. So repent to your Creator and kill yourselves. That is best for you in the sight of your Creator." Then He accepted your repentance; indeed, He is the Accepting of repentance, the Merciful. And when you said, "O Moses, we will never believe you until we see God outright"; so the thunderbolt took you while you were looking on. Then We revived you after your death that perhaps you would be grateful. And We shaded you with clouds and sent down to you manna and quails, "Eat from the good things with which We have provided you." And they wronged Us not - but they were wronging themselves. And when We said, "Enter this city and eat from it wherever you will in abundance, and enter the gate bowing humbly and say, 'Relieve us of our burdens.' We will forgive your sins for you, and We will increase the doers of good (in goodness and reward)." But those who wronged changed (those words) to a statement other than that which had been said to them, so We sent down upon those who wronged a punishment from the sky because they were defiantly disobeying. And when Moses prayed for water for his people, so We said, "Strike with your staff the stone." And there gushed forth from it twelve springs, and every people knew its watering place. "Eat and drink from the provision of God, and do not commit abuse on the earth, spreading corruption." And when you said, "O Moses, we can never endure one kind of food. So call upon your Lord to bring forth for us from the earth its green herbs and its cucumbers and its garlic and its lentils and its onions." Moses said, "Would you exchange what is better for what is less? Go into (any) settlement and indeed, you will have what you have asked." And they were covered with humiliation and poverty and returned with anger from God. That was because they disbelieved in the signs of God and killed the prophets without right. That was because they disobeyed and were transgressing.
Here we pretty much get an abridged version of the story of Moses in the wilderness from the Old Testament. It pretty much covers two themes: reminding people of all the times God has forgiven transgression, and reminding people of all the times God has given blessings.

One line that sticks out to me is "And they wronged Us not - but they were wronging themselves." This seems to fit with what the Baha'i Faith says about the Fire. That separation from God is the punishment for separation from God. This seems to reinforce an idea that most sins are self-punishing. A sin does not hurt God, it hurts the sinner. Guidance isn't necessarily given because God wants to restrict certain behaviors, but rather is a message that sins will cause you harm. Sort of like a theological "Don't Walk On Thin Ice" sign.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2:62
Indeed, those who believed and those who were Jews or Christians or Sabeans - those who believed in Allah and the Last Day and did righteousness - will have their reward with their Lord, and no fear will there be concerning them, nor will they grieve.
This is a wonderful verse that tells that the believers of past Revelations are already saved!!

I also saw a translation out there that entered the phrase "(before Muhammad)" after the word "Sabeans", as if to imply that only Jews, Christians, and Sabeans prior to Muhammad's Revelation would be saved. It's sad how some people try to twist the Words.

Annnd here's where I'll end it for now. There's still plenty of the Second Surah to go!! Let me know: Is this helpful?? Is this valuable for me to continue this?? This kind of thing is what I consider to be "fun" , so if anyone would like more I can do so.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kam View Post
Something that helped me with accepting the Quran for it's harshness,
I'm not even sure it's all that harsh, to be honest. Sure, there are some rather "harsh" punishments, but as written (and generally Sharia hasn't historically been enforced, as written, unfortunately) most of the "harsh" punishments that people tend to take issue with, you can get out of by apologizing. Something I'll probably go into in more detail should I continue this.

Last edited by Walrus; 01-23-2017 at 08:50 AM.
 
Old 01-23-2017, 04:10 PM   #5
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You have to understand that the Quran is written concerning different times of the lives of Muhammads people. When reading remember this, at times the people are asked to fight and kill, but usually there are reminders that to be merciful is the better course of action, most people leave this out of their reading.
I consider when a person understands the reading of the Quran it is no different than the words of Jesus, and remember their is very little of Jesus words in the Bible.
bill

Last edited by BlinkeyBill; 01-23-2017 at 04:13 PM.
 
Old 01-24-2017, 12:40 AM   #6
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Also consider the talk of Abdul'baha in Some Answered Questions on Revelation Chapter 11 & 12.

The Revelation of Muhammad was Clothed in Sackcloth, which is Old Rainment.

Thus it was a Law based Religion such as the Torah.

Regards Tony
 
Old 01-24-2017, 03:52 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scribe View Post
Although I've read the Qur'an, I find it one of the more difficult scriptures to absorb any spiritual meaning from.
Examples?

Quote:
It is a harsh revelation, filled with threats and warnings.
Examples?

Quote:
Coming from a Christian background and raised on the teachings of God's love from the New Testament, it is particularly off-putting.
Considering you're coming from a Christian background, I'm curious how you view harsh OT and NT passages in the light of God's love and our modern sensibilities and standards (Num. 31.14-18; Dt. 7.1-2; Dt. 20.10-17; Josh. 6.17-21; Josh. 8.24-27; Matt. 15.4-7 with Ex. 21.15 and Dt. 21.18-21; Luke 19.27; 2 Peter 2.4-9; Matt. 10.14-15; Matt. 10.34).

Quote:
One could say that if I wanted to know more about the spiritual teachings of the Qur'an, why not contact Muslims? It is because, quite honestly, that I already greatly prefer the Baha'i faith over what I know of Islam.
What books have you read about Islam?

Quote:
Admittedly, I know much more about Baha'i than Islam, but I can say with certainty that while I may one day become a Baha'i, the odds of me becoming a Muslim are virtually nil. Just as someone who is interested in Christianity would most likely want to study the Old Testament from a Christian perspective, so too would I like to study the Qur'an from a Baha'i perspective.
Since your enquiry is partially about the harshness of the Qur'an, I'd like to note there are a lot of great works from Muslim scholars about the Qur'an's harsh passages. Khaled M. Abou El Fadl's The Great Theft is a nice start. So, yeah, basically my advice deviates from your current approach.

Quote:
I strongly, strongly recommend that one be written to help teach the faith in the West. Surely the knowledge and resources to create such a guide exist within the ranks of Baha'is. I refuse to believe otherwise.Not having such a guide leaves a gaping hole in the efforts to teach the Baha'i faith in the West, where the Qur'an does not receive much positive press.
I think there's a growing amount of positive press related to the Qur'an in the US. The Study Qur'an has frequently been featured in the media. In my opinion, Baha'is need not solely rely on Baha'i works. Currently I see no need for such a Baha'i work to be written to teach the Baha'i Faith in the West.


Last edited by ahanu; 01-24-2017 at 07:04 AM.
 
Old 01-24-2017, 09:53 AM   #8
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I just wanted to say that I've briefly looked over this thread, but it's going to be a few days before I have the time to give it the attention it deserves, especially the posts by Walrus and ahanu. There are many good points made, and I want to address them thoroughly.

Please note, though, that my intent is not to merely criticize and dismiss the Qur'an. I really am trying to see it in a new light, to really find a way to have it speak to me personally in ways that it never has before. I am actively trying to change my views. It seems that doing so will require a reassessment of many of my own impressions, including those of Islam in general. But I will get to all of that in a later post. In the meantime, thank you everyone for your replies.
 
Old 02-05-2017, 12:48 PM   #9
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I've been delaying a response to this thread, because honestly, I thought I'd be able to come up with something more profound and insightful to say about it. But it seems all I have are some basic reactions, so I'll settle for that.

To Walrus: Wow. Just, wow. I didn't expect an exegesis in this thread, and I commend your initiative. It is both impressive and appreciated. This is something along the lines of what I was looking for. I would have been satisfied with a less thorough study, but this was great. Thank you!

As to the other responses regarding the Qur'an: As much as I would like to be satisfied with the argument that the Qur'an was revealed at the time and place it was necessary, and that it is an older revelation not specifically meant for this day and age...that's just not enough for me. If I am ever going to formally enroll in the Baha'i faith, I need to find a spiritual connection with the Qur'an. I need to be able to apply it to my own life, in the here and now. Over the past years, the lack of my ability to do so has been the key reason why I routinely been attracted to and then drifted away from the Baha'i faith. I just thought that gaining a Baha'i perspective on things would finally help me to settle things once and for all. I want to accept the Baha'i faith, but I have to overcome a few obstacles first. This is one of them.

I will respond to ahanu in my next post....
 
Old 02-05-2017, 01:12 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Scribe View Post
I've been delaying a response to this thread, because honestly, I thought I'd be able to come up with something more profound and insightful to say about it. But it seems all I have are some basic reactions, so I'll settle for that.

To Walrus: Wow. Just, wow. I didn't expect an exegesis in this thread, and I commend your initiative. It is both impressive and appreciated. This is something along the lines of what I was looking for. I would have been satisfied with a less thorough study, but this was great. Thank you!

As to the other responses regarding the Qur'an: As much as I would like to be satisfied with the argument that the Qur'an was revealed at the time and place it was necessary, and that it is an older revelation not specifically meant for this day and age...that's just not enough for me. If I am ever going to formally enroll in the Baha'i faith, I need to find a spiritual connection with the Qur'an. I need to be able to apply it to my own life, in the here and now. Over the past years, the lack of my ability to do so has been the key reason why I routinely been attracted to and then drifted away from the Baha'i faith. I just thought that gaining a Baha'i perspective on things would finally help me to settle things once and for all. I want to accept the Baha'i faith, but I have to overcome a few obstacles first. This is one of them.

I will respond to ahanu in my next post....
To tell you the truth my Love for the Holy Scriputures were gained through the writings of Baha'u'llah. The past books are hard ro read with deep spiritual truths.

Thus reading the explanations provided by the Baha'i Writings showed me to give it time in prayer and reflection.

Meanwhile do not stop this from building Gods Kingdom, this is what is important, action and that action brings more understanding.

Regards Tony
 
Old 02-05-2017, 02:01 PM   #11
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Examples?
There are many examples of verses that I have had problems with. and with the exception of some of the later chapters in the Qur'an, they appear in almost every chapter. Namely, the extreme reliance on the threat of hell to get a person to adhere to the teachings of the Qur'an.

My first-hand experience with Christian traditions has been that of a totally different approach to God: an extreme emphasis on God's love and the offer of salvation to those who believe. But then again, maybe it's not a full picture, as you wrote:


Quote:
Originally Posted by ahanu View Post
Considering you're coming from a Christian background, I'm curious how you view harsh OT and NT passages in the light of God's love and our modern sensibilities and standards (Num. 31.14-18; Dt. 7.1-2; Dt. 20.10-17; Josh. 6.17-21; Josh. 8.24-27; Matt. 15.4-7 with Ex. 21.15 and Dt. 21.18-21; Luke 19.27; 2 Peter 2.4-9; Matt. 10.14-15; Matt. 10.34).
I am aware of most of these quotes, and while I am not proud to say it, I have dealt with them as most modern Christians have dealt with them: I ignore them. (I really wanted to come up with a better response, but who would I be kidding?)

I guess I've spent a lot of time around those who are so secure in the belief that they are in God's good graces, that they simply do not feel any threat of God's wrath could apply to them. Also, Christians have been pushing the "the idea of God must mean unconditional love" narrative for so long, that even those who are not affiliated with any religion insist that it must be true. (This stance is typical in the United States, at least.) Perhaps I have bought into this narrative a little too much. Not even Baha'i teachings, with all of their emphasis on tolerance, ever teach that our actions have no impact on our relationship with God.


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Originally Posted by ahanu View Post
What books have you read about Islam?
Ironically, the books I have read about Islam are far from antagonistic to it. Among them are The History of God by Karen Armstrong, and If the Oceans Were Ink by Carla Power. They are both by non-Muslims, but both portray Islam in a mostly positive light. The book by Carla Power, in particular, tries to see things through the eyes of a Sheikh Mohammad Akram Nadwi. Many of the issues Westerners have with Islam are thoroughly addressed in this book. I hesitate to use the word "liberal" to describe Akram, because not all of the interpretations he has of the Islam are in line with liberal thinking. Still, they are much less harsh than some of the interpretations of Islam one can come across.

These are hardly the only sources I've read on Islam. Most of the material I've been exposed to about it on the internet is from the perspective of Christians who insist that Islamic extremism is the "true" Islam. In short, it's highly unflattering stuff, meant to create a clear "us vs. them" mentality. While I have been exposed to plenty of counter-examples in books and in real life, the emotional impact of such arguments has affected me more than I would like to admit.

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Originally Posted by ahanu View Post
Since your enquiry is partially about the harshness of the Qur'an, I'd like to note there are a lot of great works from Muslim scholars about the Qur'an's harsh passages. Khaled M. Abou El Fadl's The Great Theft is a nice start. [...] The Study Qur'an has frequently been featured in the media.
I will have to look into both of these sources. The Great Theft sounds especially interesting. I also found a copy of The Study Qur'an at my local bookstore. At the cover price of $60, it's too expensive for me to purchase on impulse at the moment, but I do plan to pick up a copy eventually. (I may just order both from Amazon, as it'll be cheaper that way. I do like to support the local bookstore now and then, though...)

Quote:
Originally Posted by ahanu View Post
So, yeah, basically my advice deviates from your current approach. [...] In my opinion, Baha'is need not solely rely on Baha'i works.
You are right of course. My reasons for approaching it from this perspective are largely because I am trying to reconcile Qur'anic teachings with Baha'i teachings in order to accept Baha'i. It seems I will have to do the same with Biblical teachings, as you have pointed out. But to rely exclusively on Baha'i sources is perhaps short-sighted and unnecessary.
 
Old 02-06-2017, 06:14 PM   #12
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But to rely exclusively on Baha'i sources is perhaps short-sighted and unnecessary.
Please note that I'm still very interested in seeing further studies of the Qur'an from a Baha'i perspective. I do not expect to see a complete study here--that would be an immense undertaking. Still, if anyone has any highlights from the spiritual teachings from the Qur'an that they wish to share, I would be greatly appreciative. I've been picking random chapters and reading them lately, in an attempt to be more accepting of it. If I keep in mind the Baha'i notion that Hell isn't literal, but that separation from God is indeed very unpleasant, it all fits together more easily...
 
Old 02-07-2017, 04:25 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Scribe View Post
Please note that I'm still very interested in seeing further studies of the Qur'an from a Baha'i perspective. I do not expect to see a complete study here--that would be an immense undertaking. Still, if anyone has any highlights from the spiritual teachings from the Qur'an that they wish to share, I would be greatly appreciative. I've been picking random chapters and reading them lately, in an attempt to be more accepting of it. If I keep in mind the Baha'i notion that Hell isn't literal, but that separation from God is indeed very unpleasant, it all fits together more easily...
You're not alone in struggling to reconcile the two. My husband was born and raised Baha'i but the traumas he experienced as a child in Iran have made accepting Islam and the Quran especially difficult.

But even my husband will admit that the people Mohammed taught were animals (and I believe Abdu'l Baha refers to them as "animals," too, but don't quote me on this), and that Mohammed did bring them closer to God and farther away from their barbaric behavior. He helped civilize them and keep them in line with a strictness since that is what they needed.


You can't overturn their way of life overnight, but that is precisely why Baha'is believe we have progressive revelation. You have to graduate one grade before entering the next.

So in that sense, it may help you to study the history of the people in that region. Learn how their culture was, their laws, their treatment of people, etc. Then imagine that Mohammed is teaching *them*, not necessarily you. (This may not be totally kosher but it's just a thought experiment.)

Then see how their lives were transformed in the centuries after. Art, science, medicine, poetry, architecture, etc. all blossomed. It had a regenerative effect on them.

Baha'is believe in the "Twin Pillars of Justice" being reward and punishment. For some people, I think, the idea of perfecting themselves and seeking that reward is enough. For others, they need that "threat" of punishment to keep them in line.

Just my spotty understanding of it.
 
Old 02-08-2017, 02:08 PM   #14
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Please note that I'm still very interested in seeing further studies of the Qur'an from a Baha'i perspective. I do not expect to see a complete study here--that would be an immense undertaking. Still, if anyone has any highlights from the spiritual teachings from the Qur'an that they wish to share, I would be greatly appreciative. I've been picking random chapters and reading them lately, in an attempt to be more accepting of it.
Well, I've decided to take a crack at it anyways. I've almost finished up the whole second Surah. I'll post it when done. Again, I'm a huge religion nerd. Doing something like this is honestly what I consider "fun".

Quote:
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If I keep in mind the Baha'i notion that Hell isn't literal, but that separation from God is indeed very unpleasant, it all fits together more easily...
Yeah, there's quite a bit of hellfire in the Second Surah. It got me pondering why such language is used as a term for separation from God. And why it is so frequently used.

Thinking on it, I've come to the conclusion that allegory is probably necessary in this instance. It's hard to describe something to someone if they've never experienced something like it themselves.

I personally have synesthesia-chromesthesia. Some mixed up wiring in my brain causes sensations of color and shape whenever I hear anything. I find describing this to others difficult. The only way to do it is with allegory. Like "pipe organ music sounds like vertical beams of gray-white light" or "that electric guitar is like a dancing yellow thread" or "that throat singer has a spiky forest-green voice", but even that doesn't ever feel like I'm describing what I am hearing completely accurately. Since most people aren't chromesthetes, the only way I can describe it is with descriptions of what it is sort of like.

In similar fashion, it is difficult to describe colors to a totally color-blind person.

Lack of experience makes describing some things hard. With describing separation from God, there are similar problems. If you've both experienced connection to God and separation from God you know how the first is obviously superior to the other. But for the people the Prophets talk to, and for many they try to reach, those people have only ever experienced separation from God. With no baseline for comparison, they can't possibly fathom the negatives of separation because they have not experienced connection. So like describing color to the color-blind, the only way to explain it even slightly is by way of rough analogy. "Separation from God is like fire and eternal torment". It's the best that can be described to someone without the life experience to know the difference for themselves.
 
Old 02-11-2017, 09:52 PM   #15
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If I keep in mind the Baha'i notion that Hell isn't literal,
It seems to me you believe the idea "hell isn't literal" is only a Baha'i notion. If so, I disagree. Ismaili Muslims also accept hell has an esoteric interpretation. See point number nine here (click on the word "here"). The Qur'an describes chains, stones, and other worldly things in hell and heaven, but Islamic tradition also holds there are bounties in the afterlife "no eye has seen".

See Nasir Khusraw, a famous 11th century Ismaili scholar, for another pre-Baha'i understanding of hell here (again, click on "here").

Henry Corbin described another Ismaili scholar's view below. It describes the relational reality of hell from another perspective--the hierarchy of being--and then the writer zooms in to show this relational aspect on an individual level:
In a stirring vision Nasir Tusi describes the contiguity of all the series of beings, each communicating by its highest degree with the lowest degree of the series immediately above it. Thus the worlds of minerals, plants, and animals, the world of man, and the world of the Angel are graduated. And always the higher degree resembles Paradise for the degree below it. The same is true of the phases of a single being. The condition in which an infant cannot yet open his eyes in the sunlight is like his Hell in relation to the condition in which he can face the light, and the latter condition is then like his Paradise. But it is his Hell in relation to the condition in which he can walk and talk. Hell, again, is the condition in which the adult cannot yet attain to knowledge of the spiritual world through that of his own spirit and in which he is unable to experience the meaning of the adage: "He who knows himself (nafsahu, his anima), knows his Lord." When he attains to it, this state becomes his Paradise . 92 In this vision of an incessant rising from Hells, we see an alchemy of Resurrection operating from cycle to cycle.

It offers a series of unfoldings, of divestments and revestments, to which one must consent on pain of falling backward, beneath oneself.

. . . in the Ismaili schematization of the world , 94 the sum of the degrees of the esoteric hierarchy appears to the adept as a cycle of resurrections, each one of which must be transcended, as a succession of Paradises which must be surmounted on pain of falling back into a Hell. Each rank or spiritual degree is a resurrection (qiyamat) whereby the adept becomes conjoined with new immaterial forms which appear on his horizon.
Source: Henry Corbin's Cyclical Time and Ismaili Gnosis

Last edited by ahanu; 02-11-2017 at 10:26 PM.
 
Old 02-11-2017, 10:10 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Walrus View Post
I personally have synesthesia-chromesthesia. Some mixed up wiring in my brain causes sensations of color and shape whenever I hear anything. I find describing this to others difficult. The only way to do it is with allegory. Like "pipe organ music sounds like vertical beams of gray-white light" or "that electric guitar is like a dancing yellow thread" or "that throat singer has a spiky forest-green voice", but even that doesn't ever feel like I'm describing what I am hearing completely accurately. Since most people aren't chromesthetes, the only way I can describe it is with descriptions of what it is sort of like.
Interesting, Walrus.
 
Old 02-13-2017, 05:13 PM   #17
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I've completed writing about the Second Surah from a Baha'i lens of reading. I put it on another thread because of it's length, so it doesn't clutter everything here. I hope it prompts discussion!! : Baha'i Quranic Study #2 Al-Baqara
 
Old 02-14-2017, 10:46 AM   #18
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I've completed writing about the Second Surah from a Baha'i lens of reading. I put it on another thread because of it's length, so it doesn't clutter everything here. I hope it prompts discussion!! : Baha'i Quranic Study #2 Al-Baqara
It may be a few days before I get around to taking a look at the whole thing, but I am looking forward to it. Thank you!
 
Old 02-15-2017, 07:45 AM   #19
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The most simple interpretation is the following: "The whole of the Quran is contained in its first surih, and the whole of the first surih is contained in its primal point". And the Báb was called the Primal Point.

Then, all our Scriptures are full of references to the Quran.

And there is the book, Balyuzi, Hasan (1976). Muhammad and the Course of Islam. Oxford, UK: George Ronald. ISBN 0-85398-478-6.

Best,

from

gnat
 
Old 02-16-2017, 04:34 PM   #20
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Quran

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Originally Posted by Scribe View Post
I just wanted to say that I've briefly looked over this thread, but it's going to be a few days before I have the time to give it the attention it deserves, especially the posts by Walrus and ahanu. There are many good points made, and I want to address them thoroughly.

Please note, though, that my intent is not to merely criticize and dismiss the Qur'an. I really am trying to see it in a new light, to really find a way to have it speak to me personally in ways that it never has before. I am actively trying to change my views. It seems that doing so will require a reassessment of many of my own impressions, including those of Islam in general. But I will get to all of that in a later post. In the meantime, thank you everyone for your replies.
Scribe,
I've been a Baha'i for 37 years, and it took me about half that time to really develop an appreciation of the Quran to the level of "getting it" (just for myself) that it is indeed a Revelation from God, given to an extremely rednecked environment full of low life Nazis in the neighborhood, who had to be dealt with in the only language they comprehended: Chopping off alternative hand and foot, etc... as a "sign" of God saying: "Can you hear Me now???"

So the problem being, how to relate to a world full of ISIS Nazis, because that's who Muhammad appeared in the midst of. So these butchers you see today on the news? They're the same guys who attacked Muhammad and His peaceful band of followers, every one of whom would have been exterminated in that hostile environment.

Therefore,
Scenario 1: All Muslims would be dead
Scenario 2: Some survive by defending themselves

The second scenario is what we have.
However, Islam was largely infected by a virus. The Ummayyads usurped Islam right from the beginning, and Abdul Baha states that the Ummayyads are "The Beast" foretold in Revelation.

Therefore, this corrupted form of Islam was inevitable, barring God removing free-will from everybody, including the ISIS Nazis who took over most of it.

Consider, Every single Imam of the Faith was murdered ... by the ISIS Nazis of the Caliphate, and these same jokers are still around today.

If you have read Some Answered Questions by Abdul Baha, particularly Chapters 10, 11, 12, and 13 .. the prophecies are clear, coming from both Daniel and Revelation that the Two Witnesses, Muhammad and Ali, and the 1260 years duration of the Cycle of the Quran, would be full of bloodshed.

Now in the midst of doing battle with the Evil Empire, Muhammad revealed some incredibly profound Verses which Baha'u'llah brings to light in the Kitab-i-Iqan and other Writings which, for me, dispelled my doubts and helped me to overcome my western bias.

Recognition of Baha'u'llah to be the Spiritual Sun in the sky, means that whatever He says is true. If He says Muhammad is also a Manifestation of God, even though He defended Himself and His followers with the sword, so be it. No difference there between Him and Moses. Do you have a problem with Moses?

We have this capacity built in us to discern the truth of this matter, but God tests us. The seed has the capacity to respond to the light of the sun, but it must let go of the confines of the shell, accept the water, light, CO2, and do its job with what God gives it both from the earth, and that sun in the sky.

So we do the same.

PS Just for the heck of it, Google an Islamic Christian Calendar Converter. Type in 5-22- 1844 on the Christian side. Up pops 1260 on the Muslim side. 1260 AH = 1844 AD = ONE BE

Either thats one helluva coincidence, or a billion and a half Muslims, nearly a quarter of the world's population, popped of nowhere for a reason, that is, in response to the appearance of a Prophet of God. It isn't just the Judeo-Chrisitian religion, but the Judeo-Christian-Islamic religion.
If you drive a clutch, its going from 1st gear to 2nd to 3rd ... same transmission, same motor running it.
Then the Bab shifted us into 4th, and Baha'u'llah takes us into Overdrive.

Last edited by dale ramsdell; 02-16-2017 at 04:54 PM.
 
Old 04-19-2017, 06:35 AM   #21
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I've completed writing about the Second Surah from a Baha'i lens of reading. I put it on another thread because of it's length, so it doesn't clutter everything here. I hope it prompts discussion!! : Baha'i Quranic Study #2 Al-Baqara
It's been a while since I've attended to this thread, but I want to say that this study of the Qur'an is wonderful. Things like this go a long way in helping me to accept the Qur'an as the word of God...which is still difficult sometimes, but this helps a lot.

I wish I could find the quote, but I remember something from the Gleanings that said each Manifestation's revelation is suited for a particular time and place. That's why they seem to differ, and that alone. Perhaps I shouldn't be too dismayed, then, that the Manifestations before Baha'u'llah don't resonate with me as much. While each Manifestation's teachings are timeless in their own way, it really is the Baha'i revelation that's meant for this day and age explicitly.

This has been said before by others in different ways, but for some reason I often fail to grasp it. I guess I just needed the reminder today!
 
Old 04-19-2017, 12:19 PM   #22
Tony Bristow-Stagg
 
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It's been a while since I've attended to this thread, but I want to say that this study of the Qur'an is wonderful. Things like this go a long way in helping me to accept the Qur'an as the word of God...which is still difficult sometimes, but this helps a lot.

I wish I could find the quote, but I remember something from the Gleanings that said each Manifestation's revelation is suited for a particular time and place. That's why they seem to differ, and that alone. Perhaps I shouldn't be too dismayed, then, that the Manifestations before Baha'u'llah don't resonate with me as much. While each Manifestation's teachings are timeless in their own way, it really is the Baha'i revelation that's meant for this day and age explicitly.

This has been said before by others in different ways, but for some reason I often fail to grasp it. I guess I just needed the reminder today!
Yes Kitab-i-iquan is the quote you were after, starting from page 176;

"....We have already in the foregoing pages assigned two stations unto each of the Luminaries arising from the Daysprings of eternal holiness. One of these stations, the station of essential unity, We have already explained. “No distinction do We make between any of them.” 14 The other is the station of distinction, and pertaineth to the world of creation and to the limitations thereof. In this respect, each Manifestation of God hath a distinct individuality, a definitely prescribed mission, a predestined Revelation, and specially designated limitations. Each one of them is known by a different name, is characterized by a special attribute, fulfils a definite Mission, and is entrusted with a particular Revelation. Even as He saith: “Some of the Apostles We have caused to excel the others. To some God hath spoken, some He hath raised and exalted. And to Jesus, Son of Mary, We gave 177 manifest signs, and We strengthened Him with the Holy Spirit.” 15
192
It is because of this difference in their station and mission that the words and utterances flowing from these Well-springs of divine knowledge appear to diverge and differ. Otherwise, in the eyes of them that are initiated into the mysteries of divine wisdom, all their utterances are in reality but the expressions of one Truth. As most of the people have failed to appreciate those stations to which We have referred, they therefore feel perplexed and dismayed at the varying utterances pronounced by Manifestations that are essentially one and the same..."

This is the section talking about the twofold station of the messengers.

Regards Tony
 
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