NSA's vote for other member's of NSA for UHJ?

Dec 2012
199
Earth
#21
Greetings Larry,

Thank you for pointing out a range of quotes that assist to support some concerns raised. They should be very helpful to the readers here.

One of my late friends was the attorney to Shoghi Effendi. While he would never breach confidentiality, he did assist me to see the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá in a very different way. This of course obscures another matter, namely we have come to understand issues based on the insights of those that have inspired us, not just by that which we read. This collective experience is the pulse of the Bahá’í Community. As it grows it naturally becomes stronger and stronger. But to truly see it in new dimensions we need to travel. Unfortunately this is not always possible and this is why insights differ so much around the world.

On March 12, 2014, Paul Lample, whom as you know is soft spoken, offered a personal presentation on the Community-building Process. Within this presentation he touched on some interesting material about the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá that is not too widely known; namely the time period that the Guardian explained would need to transpire before Bahá'ís could begin to understand this legal document. The audio to this talk can be found on public domain A Talk by Mr. Paul Lample on the Current Plan and the Community-building Process - Baha'i Blog

To conclude, rather like innocent children, Bahá’ís still have many important lessons to learn. But this process will be true for every generation. This is why we should all learn to be much more open, accommodating and welcoming of each other’s perspectives. Perspectives are different from opinions. Perspectives are open, opinions are closed.

Always good talking with you.

Earth
 
Mar 2013
563
Edwardsville, Illinois, USA
#22
A general response to the discussion, especially to many points that Earth and Larry brought up:

There are many instances in the course of the development of the Faith where believers have expected certain events to occur, and may have been encouraged to do so by pilgrims notes taken from statements by Shoghi Effendi or members of the House of Justice. We have always been cautioned not to rely on pilgrims notes, but you wonder why those things were even stated to pilgrims in the first place. In some cases the pilgrims probably misinterpreted what was said or left out important conditional statements. Far beyond the question of pilgrims notes there are official statements, for instance by the Guardian describing the role future Guardians would play, when we now know that there will not be any future Guardians. He did make other statement that recognize the possibility of the line of Guardians ending and the House of Justice needed to govern the Faith without a living Guardian, although you get the impression that to his mind it would be inconceivable if that were to actually happen.

The important thing to remember is that the Guardian did not have foreknowledge of future events, even though he did have great vision. Neither did Abdu'l-Baha have complete foreknowledge, although sometimes he did get glimpses of future events when needed. Only Baha'u'llah and the Bab had true foreknowledge of all future events. They laid out God's plan for the world, yet since humans have free will, the ways in which we follow that plan is up to us and the tragic circumstances we create by not following God's plan. Baha'u'llah knew exactly how it would unfold, that's why He suffered so much.

There are many instances discussed in this thread which I could comment on, but I'll pick one randomly. There was a general expectation for great advances of God's plan by the end of the 20th century, and the notion that the completion of the Arc on Mt. Carmel would coincide with those advances. First note that the Arc is not actually complete at present. The Guardian specified that 5 buildings were to be constructed, the one that is still missing is an international lending library. If you think about how the completion of these buildings would relate to the development of the Faith, there is not really anything magical about it. The first building to be constructed was the International Archives building. That was urgently needed because all of the precious artifacts and original Scriptures needed to be kept someplace secure and befitting. By the 1980's the Faith had grown to the point where a permanent seat for the House of Justice, as well as the Centre for the Studies of the Texts and International Teaching Centre were all urgently needed and could be fully utilized. The faith has unfortunately not yet grown to the point where an International Library is needed and should be prioritized. By the time that happens, a great many other developments will need to occur, and will certainly coincide with a tremendous advancement of God's Plan.

The Universal House of Justice created the Arc Project to raise the needed funds and organize the construction of the 3 additional buildings (minus the library), as well as the construction of the Teraces, etc., all of which were vitally important. Completion of the Arc Project by the end of the 20th Century would not actually complete the Arc, but to the mind of many Baha'is at the time the two were conflated together. Why did House of Justice not make a greater effort to clarify the point and set expectations correctly? Part of the answer I think is that the House of Justice as a body (let alone the individual members) does not have foreknowledge of future events, and could not exclude the possibility that unforeseen events could occur which would greatly advance the development of the Faith, and the path to constructing the 5th building and completing the Arc would open up.

Likewise, the Guardian could not exclude the possibility that a potential successor would appear, even as the possibility must have appeared quite bleak as he advanced in age, had no children and all of the other Aghsan had violated the Covenant.
 
Mar 2015
225
Bend area, Oregon
#24
Hello Jcc.

Thank you for your comments in your “general response” (post # 22) on the several posts contributed in this thread by others, “especially to many points that Earth and Larry brought up”. I will offer the following perspectives in response to your “general” coverage of topics you have addressed.

Pilgrims Notes: I certainly do agree that the notes of the pilgrims have no authoritative weight and should not be relied upon in and of themselves. I do tend to consider and quote from pilgrims notes when they do reinforce what the Guardian “authoritatively” communicated himself in writing and through his secretaries. I also attempt to weigh the pilgrims notes within the context of his communications. One might consider that where consistency exists between the pilgrims notes, in light of the Guardian’s written communications, it is likely that there may be at least some validity in them. Also, it is unlikely that every pilgrim consistently misunderstood the Guardian or was consistently incorrect in what they heard and recorded. Why is it, I ponder, that so few believers question and/or challenge the pilgrims notes shared by many of the Hands of the Cause of God, numerous examples being those notes and recollections of Rúhíyyih Khánum and published in her many books?

“Foreknowledge” of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and the Guardian: Respectfully, yet quite frankly, it is not for us as believers to question their “foreknowledge”, or to attach limitations to these two greater and lesser spheres of the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, after all, was the “Mystery of God”, and the “Center and Pivot of Bahá’u’lláh’s peerless and all-enfolding Covenant” and within Whom “the incompatible characteristics of a human nature and superhuman knowledge and perfection have been blended and are completely harmonized.” (The ‘Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh’; ‘The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh’, p. 134) On the other hand, and as explained by Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian “remains essentially human” yet is “overshadowed by the unfailing, the unerring protection of Bahá'u'lláh and of the Báb”, and shares with `Abdu'l-Bahá “the right and obligation to interpret the Bahá'í teachings”, and “has been specifically endowed with such power as he may need to reveal the purport and disclose the implications of the utterances of Bahá'u'lláh and of `Abdu'l-Bahá which does not necessarily confer upon him a station co-equal with those Whose words he is called upon to interpret. He can exercise that right and discharge this obligation and yet remain infinitely inferior to both of them in rank and different in nature.” In Shoghi Effendi’s words above the definition of “essentially human” appears to mean mostly human but not completely human given those divinely bestowed endowments and powers necessary to fulfill those rights, duties, and obligations of the station of the Guardianship. (The ‘Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh’; ‘The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh’, p. 151) I have previously posted the following quote on other threads but it has relevance here as well: “Many of the Bahá'ís, ... while loyal to the Cause and the Guardian, do not fully grasp the implications of the Master's Will and the full station of the Guardians of the Cause. They need to study more deeply the spiritual side of the Teachings and the Will itself. And this he has advised the ... to do." (From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 5, 1949, in Lights of Guidance, no. 617) In another letter it was stated, “He is the Guardian of the Cause in the very fullness of that term, and the appointed interpreter of its teachings, and is guided in his decisions to do that which protects it and fosters its growth and highest interests.” (Letter on behalf of the Guardian and approved him dated May 13, 1945)

Buildings of the Arc “specified” by the Guardian: I am acquainted with some written communications from the Guardian in which he specifies the buildings to be constructed on Mount Carmel. He sent a cablegram about the “. . . initiation of formal negotiation with (the) central municipal authorities of same State” for acquisition of “extensive, sorely needed properties in vicinity of Báb's Sepulcher destined (to) serve as (the) site of (the) future edifices envisaged by `Abdu'l-Bahá to house (the) auxiliary agencies revolving around (the) twin institutions of (the)Guardianship and (the) House of Justice.” (Cablegram, December 24, 1951; Messages to the Bahá'í World: 1950-1957, p. 19) Again, he later communicated specifying the buildings to be constructed explaining, “The raising of this Edifice (International Achieves Building) will in turn herald the construction, in the course of successive epochs of the Formative Age of the Faith, of several other structures, which will serve as the administrative seats of such divinely appointed institutions as the Guardianship, the Hands of the Cause, and the Universal House of Justice. These Edifices will, in the shape of a far-flung arc, and following a harmonizing style of architecture, surround the resting-places of the Greatest Holy Leaf, ranking as foremost among the members of her sex in the Bahá'í Dispensation, of her Brother, offered up as a ransom by Bahá'u'lláh for the quickening of the world and its unification, and of their Mother, proclaimed by Him to be His chosen ‘consort in all the worlds of God.’ The ultimate completion of this stupendous undertaking will mark the culmination of the development of a world-wide divinely-appointed Administrative Order whose beginnings may be traced as far back as the concluding years of the Heroic Age of the Faith.” (Letter, November 27, 1954; Messages to the Bahá'í World: 1950-1957, p. 74) The first of these communications was dated the same month that he expelled from the Faith the last male member of `Abdu'l-Bahá’s family, and the second letter was dated three years after that expulsion, yet I have not found a communication from the Guardian where he specified or substituted different buildings for those two edifices that were “destined (to) serve” and “which will serve” to house the Guardianship and the Hands of the Cause. If you can provide quotes or links to communications from the Guardian where he had done so, please share them. Related to these “future edifices envisaged by `Abdu'l-Bahá” and “destined (to) serve” as the edifices housing the institutions of the Guardianship and the Hands of the Cause of God, I will draw attention to the fact that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Himself appeared to have had the “foreknowledge” that a Guardian would be providing direction to the Hands of the Cause at a time in the future when “the Supreme Tribunal, that shall include members from all the governments and peoples of the world”, would be “amicably and conclusively” settling differences should they arise. (See Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá, Part 1, paragraph 22) Of this Shoghi Effendi conveyed through his secretary, "The Supreme Tribunal is an aspect of a World Superstate; the exact nature of its relationship to that State we cannot at present foresee. Supreme Tribunal is the correct translation; it will be a contributing factor in establishing the Lesser Peace." (From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 19, 1945: Bahá’í News, No. 210, August 1948, p. 3) ‘Abdu’l-Bahá also “envisaged” in His Will a future time when the Guardian would be seated as the “scared head” and irremovable participating member of the Universal House of Justice when “(t)his House of Justice enacteth the laws and the government enforceth them.” (See Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá, Part 1, paragraph 25) Shoghi Effendi’s secretary wrote on his behalf the following clarification: “By “Government” ... is meant the executive body which will enforce the laws when the Bahá’í Faith has reached the point when it is recognized and accepted entirely by any particular nation.” (Letter dated April 18, 1941; also see 'Bahá'í World' Vol. VI)

“Statements” of the Guardian regarding the “possibility of the line of Guardians ending and the House of Justice needed to govern the Faith without a living Guardian”: Related to the Guardianship, the words “possibility” or “only a possibility” does increasingly grow in use and in popularity within the contemporary Bahá'í community. I am well acquainted with the what Shoghi Effendi wrote in his ‘The Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh’ treatise describing the deprivation and severe impacts to the Cause of God “(w)ithout such an institution” as the Guardianship, as well as the paralyzing impact to the Faith without the Universal House of Justice. Though to my knowledge, in all that he wrote, in all that he communicated through his secretaries, in all that was written by those closest to him and approved by him for publication, and in all that he told the pilgrims (all this from the beginning to the very end of his ministry) I have not found what you have described as “statements”(plural) of Shoghi Effendi indicating the “possibility of the line of Guardians ending . . . “ ? Would you please provide those “statements” or a link there to so that I can read them and correct and/or expand my perspectives?

To be clear, in all of this I am not implying that it is "possible" for an institution of the Administrative Order to conjure up a new Guardian in the same way that the Guardian's auxilary institution - the Hands of the Cause of God - has been substituted. It is what it is, but at the same time and from my perpective, it is not a topic that should explained away or ignored. We should strive to understand it based on what was revealed and expounded upon by those appointed to do so.

Thank you. -LR
 
May 2013
1,786
forest falls california
#25
Attainment of the Unity of Nations and the Lesser Peace
by Universal House of Justice
2001-04-19
The Universal House of Justice
Department of the Secretariat
19 April 2001

Dear Bahá'í Friend,

The principal issue raised in your letter is that of the timing for the occurrence of the Lesser Peace, in light of your impression that the Bahá'í Writings anticipate its coming before the conclusion of the twentieth century; i.e., the end of December 2000.

Enclosed for your information is a copy of a memorandum prepared by the Research Department, at the request of the House of Justice, on the subject of the attainment of the unity of nations and the Lesser Peace. Assembled in this document are a number of pertinent passages from authoritative texts of the Faith.

In reviewing this material it becomes apparent that there is nothing in the authoritative Bahá'í Writings to indicate that the Lesser Peace would be established before the end of the twentieth century. However, there are clear statements affirming that the unity of nations would be, in the words of `Abdu'l-Bahá, "securely established" during the twentieth century.


NOTE: Translations about the use of the term "century" are problematic, as in Persia, they don't toss around the word "century" the way we do in the West. Abdul Baha said something about a span of time, or "Dispensation", or some such, and was then translated as "Century" in relation to the Lesser Peace, and it is inaccurate, from what I've read.
So that great expectation about the year 2000 was a false assumption.

That being said, there is some semblance of a Unity of Nations, as expressed in the Institution of the United Nations, for example, which clearly did not exist in the world prior to the mid 1940s after WWII.
"Are we "there" yet?" Not exactly, but we're closer than we were in 1921 ...
 
Likes: tonyfish58
Mar 2015
225
Bend area, Oregon
#26
Earth:

Thank you for all the comments offered over time. Is there a way for me to communicate with you sometimes outside of this forum? If so and should you be willing, I would appreciate the opportunity to do so. I do give the managers of Bahá'í Forums permission to provide you with any contact information they may have for me, although I cannot remember what that might be. Thank you.

Respectfully, LR
 
Dec 2012
199
Earth
#27
Greetings Larry,

You are more than welcome for the comments.

Feel free to send me a private message if you wish. I always respond once I have an internet connection.

As far as I am aware the message system still operates since Daniel has updated the website, but if you have any issues I am sure some friendly users here will help you to better understand it.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Earth
 
Sep 2010
4,519
Normanton Far North Queensland
#28
Shoghi Effendi indicating the “possibility of the line of Guardians ending
The only one I am aware of, is in the the Kitáb-i-Aqdas.

"The endowments dedicated to charity revert to God, the Revealer of Signs. No one has the right to lay hold on them without leave from the Dawning-Place of Revelation. After Him the decision rests with the Aghsan (Branches), and after them with the House of Justice — should it be established in the world by then — so that they may use these endowments for the benefit of the Sites exalted in this Cause, and for that which they have been commanded by God, the Almighty, the All-Powerful. Otherwise the endowments should be referred to the people of Baha, who speak not without His leave and who pass no judgment but in accordance with that which God has ordained in this Tablet, they who are the champions of victory betwixt heaven and earth, so that they may spend them on that which has been decreed in the Holy Book by God, the Mighty, the Bountiful."

7 December 1969 – [To an individual] | Bahá’í Reference Library

Regards Tony
 
Mar 2015
225
Bend area, Oregon
#29
Hi Tony.

Thank you for your contribution to this topic. I am familiar with verse 42 in Bahá’u’lláh’s Kitáb-i-Aqdas – ‘The Most Holy Book’. Although I have given this verse much thought over the years, I have hesitated in providing an immediate response to your post above (#28) because when I have commented on verse 42 elsewhere in the past it seemed to stir up more opposition to my comments than to generate any positive interest or consideration. Related to this verse, what I will share following are observations rather than absolute conclusions on my part.

To be very clear, I mean no disrespect to the Universal House of Justice or to its staff at the World Center’s research and translation department(s). As I understand and recall, a translated version of this verse was first brought forth by the fledgling Universal House of Justice in 1966. It seems apparent that the translation used at that time was deemed “authoritative” by its membership, along with a sanctioned interpretation attached to it. From my perspective, the following words of Bahá’u’lláh should be the standard for what is sanctioned as “authoritative”: “Know assuredly that just as thou firmly believest that the Word of God, exalted be His glory, endureth for ever, thou must, likewise, believe with undoubting faith that its meaning can never be exhausted. They who are its appointed interpreters, they whose hearts are the repositories of its secrets, are, however, the only ones who can comprehend its manifold wisdom” (Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, LXXXIX) It seems the act of sanctioning an interpretation should remain within the domain or the sphere of the of the Guardianship, not within the sphere of the Universal House of Justice. “. . . he is . . . the guardian of the Cause of God, he unto whom all . . . must turn” and “He is the expounder of the words of God”. (Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá, Part 1) Speaking of the Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice, shoghi Effendi wrote, “Severally, each operates within a clearly defined sphere of jurisdiction”; and “. . . it is made indubitably clear and evident that the Guardian of the Faith has been made the Interpreter of the Word and that the Universal House of Justice has been invested with the function of legislating on matters not expressly revealed in the teachings. The interpretation of the Guardian, functioning within his own sphere, is as authoritative and binding as the enactments of the International House of Justice, whose exclusive right and prerogative is to pronounce upon and deliver the final judgment on such laws and ordinances as Bahá'u'lláh has not expressly revealed. Neither can, nor will ever, infringe upon the sacred and prescribed domain of the other. Neither will seek to curtail the specific and undoubted authority with which both have been divinely invested.” (Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 148 and 149-150)

In my study of `Abdu’l-Bahá’s Will and Testament and His other writings translated into English I have not found where `Abdu’l-Bahá addressed this verse or even so much as alluded to it as He had done with some other verses of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. As far as I know, the Guardian never translated this verse into English, nor did he bring it to the attention of the believers in the west in what he wrote and/or in what was communicated by him through his secretaries. Certainly, he had every opportunity to include it, or address it in some measure, in his ‘The Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh’ treatise along with all else that he quoted from the Kitáb-i-Aqdas and expounded upon in that document related to the Administrative Order, the New World Order, the Guardianship, the Universal House of Justice, and the other institutions. He also had opportunity to bring it to the attention of the believers during the six year period following the expulsion from the Faith of the last potentially eligible Aghsan in December 1951 and prior to his passing on November 4, 1957. Rather, in those last years he continued to write of the further unfoldment “in the fullness of time” of the institutions of the Guardianship, the Hands of the Cause, the International Bahá'í Council, the future Universal House of Justice destined to emerge, and the national and local assemblies.

Not to stray too far out there, but in my studies over the years of the biblical scriptures, of the Quran, and of the other great belief Systems of the world, I have found that having multiple English translations of these Works has been helpful as I sought a fuller understanding of the meanings of the verses within those Books. Of course, as I seek to better understand the Writings of the Bab and Baha’u’llah I first turn to Shoghi Effendi’s translations, where available, and his expositions where I can find them. Regarding translation, I have little knowledge of the Arabic language, excepting that I took three elementary Modern Standard Arabic courses some 30 years ago in an attempt to at least familiarize myself with that language. I was inspired to do so at that time as a result of reading a paraphrase of Baha’u’llah’s words suggesting something like, “God would be pleased if the peoples of the world were to learn the Arabic language and that it has the vastest possibilities for a universal language.” Not being able to fully implement what I learned of the Arabic language over the years since then, the best I have retained is an appreciation for the language, and that in its structure it is organic, living, and growing from root meanings. As I study the translations of the Baha’i Writings, I strive to understand the deeper “root” meanings of some of the key words translated by Shoghi Effendi and others, which finally circles me back to our focus on verse 42 of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas.

Prior to the “authoritative” English translation of verse 42 of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas being brought forth by the House of Justice, two other English full translations of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas had been completed. The first was by an early believer, Anton Haddad, in 1900 – 1901. The second translation was completed by an English scholar of Arabic, Dr. Earl E. Elder, in 1961 which I first became exposed to in 1978. It should be clarified that Dr. Elder was an associate of William McElwee Miller who was unfriendly toward the Faith. Although the Elder translation lacks poetic beauty in its style, it is not necessarily literally inaccurate when compared to the Haddad and the “authoritative” translations. Regarding verse 42, most of what is translated in the three appears to be similar with the exception to the World Center “authoritative” translation as it differs from the others where it reads: “to the House of Justice--should it be established in the world by then . . .” When doing comparisons between the three translations, this got my attention as the other two translations do not use the words “in the world”. Haddad’s translation reads: “to the House of Justice when it becomes dominately established in countries; . . .”, and Elder’s translation reads: “to the House of Justice. If His Cause is established throughout the lands, . . .” With some research, I learned that the Arabic word Bahá’u’lláh used in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas for what has been translated as “world”, “countries”, or “throughout the lands” is “belad” (also transliterated "beled" or "balad"). Doing on line research, I have found that “belad” can mean city, district, province, region, country, but no where do I find that “belad” is used for the word “world”. To be fair, one person I am acquainted with who spent many years working at the World Center Research Department assisting with translations (and currently continues to assist from a distance) told me that in some rare instances that he is aware of Shoghi Effendi did translate the word “belad” as “world”. I have no knowledge of the context or of translation examples related to those rare instances he mentioned. It appears that the selection of the word “world” as has been done in the authoritatively translated verse is to indicate that the “House of Justice” mentioned is actually intended the Universal House of Justice, rather than a word that is usually associated with cities, districts, provinces, regions, lands, or countries which could certainly change the meaning and indicate a “House of Justice” on another level.

Another interesting aspect and question I also have related to verse 42 is that Baha’u’llah addressed “endowments dedicated to charity” and the use of these endowments were first to be managed by Baha’u’llah, then by the Aghsan, and then following the Aghsan by the institution of the “House of Justice” should it be established by then. I ask this because in one of Shoghi Effendi’s letters written in April 1956 he refers to property endowments acquired in Haifia “. . . for the purpose of extending and safeguarding, on the one hand, the area of the international Bahá'í endowments on Mt. Carmel, and of providing, on the other, the much needed space for the extension and completion of the far-flung arc around which the edifices of the World Bahá'í Administrative Order are to be built. . . .” and then he concludes by writing that “. . . the transfer of the title deeds of recently acquired plots to the name of the Israel branches of the United States, the British, the Persian, the Canadian and Australian Bahá'í National Spiritual Assemblies is being expeditiously carried out.” (Messages to the Bahá'í World: 1950-1957 pp. 94 – 95) Are not the transference of these endowments to National Spiritual Assemblies (secondary Houses of Justice) similar to Haddad’s translation mentioning “to the House of Justice when it becomes dominately established in countries; . . . “ and to Elder’s translation, to the House of Justice. If His Cause is established throughout the lands, . . .”? I find it interesting that the Guardian did not place those endowments in the hands of the International Bahá'í Council, referred to by him as the embryonic Universal House of Justice, for “safeguarding”. All that said, perhaps Bahá’u’lláh was only addressing monetary “endowments dedicated to charity” in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas rather than property endowments.

Sometime soon, and after a bit more study and contemplation, it is likely that I will send a query to the Research Department about the choice of the words “in the world” selected for the “authorized” translation, and about the Guardian’s transference of those property endowments to those secondary Houses of Justice of various countries. My point in all I’ve commented on above this is that when one puts forth this verse 42 (or other verses for that matter) as an argument, and when different translations not completed by the Guardian can allude to various meanings, that without the institution of the Guardianship to establish an “authorized” meaning, and knowing that "its meaning can never be exhausted", there is room for questions to be asked and considered. Those sharing observations and asking valid questions should not be condemned.

Thank you again Tony, and take care. -LR
 
Sep 2010
4,519
Normanton Far North Queensland
#30
Hi Tony.

Thank you for your contribution to this topic. I am familiar with verse 42 in Bahá’u’lláh’s Kitáb-i-Aqdas – ‘The Most Holy Book’. Although I have given this verse much thought over the years, I have hesitated in providing an immediate response to your post above (#28) because when I have commented on verse 42 elsewhere in the past it seemed to stir up more opposition to my comments than to generate any positive interest or consideration. Related to this verse, what I will share following are observations rather than absolute conclusions on my part.

To be very clear, I mean no disrespect to the Universal House of Justice or to its staff at the World Center’s research and translation department(s). As I understand and recall, a translated version of this verse was first brought forth by the fledgling Universal House of Justice in 1966. It seems apparent that the translation used at that time was deemed “authoritative” by its membership, along with a sanctioned interpretation attached to it. From my perspective, the following words of Bahá’u’lláh should be the standard for what is sanctioned as “authoritative”: “Know assuredly that just as thou firmly believest that the Word of God, exalted be His glory, endureth for ever, thou must, likewise, believe with undoubting faith that its meaning can never be exhausted. They who are its appointed interpreters, they whose hearts are the repositories of its secrets, are, however, the only ones who can comprehend its manifold wisdom” (Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, LXXXIX) It seems the act of sanctioning an interpretation should remain within the domain or the sphere of the of the Guardianship, not within the sphere of the Universal House of Justice. “. . . he is . . . the guardian of the Cause of God, he unto whom all . . . must turn” and “He is the expounder of the words of God”. (Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá, Part 1) Speaking of the Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice, shoghi Effendi wrote, “Severally, each operates within a clearly defined sphere of jurisdiction”; and “. . . it is made indubitably clear and evident that the Guardian of the Faith has been made the Interpreter of the Word and that the Universal House of Justice has been invested with the function of legislating on matters not expressly revealed in the teachings. The interpretation of the Guardian, functioning within his own sphere, is as authoritative and binding as the enactments of the International House of Justice, whose exclusive right and prerogative is to pronounce upon and deliver the final judgment on such laws and ordinances as Bahá'u'lláh has not expressly revealed. Neither can, nor will ever, infringe upon the sacred and prescribed domain of the other. Neither will seek to curtail the specific and undoubted authority with which both have been divinely invested.” (Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 148 and 149-150)

In my study of `Abdu’l-Bahá’s Will and Testament and His other writings translated into English I have not found where `Abdu’l-Bahá addressed this verse or even so much as alluded to it as He had done with some other verses of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. As far as I know, the Guardian never translated this verse into English, nor did he bring it to the attention of the believers in the west in what he wrote and/or in what was communicated by him through his secretaries. Certainly, he had every opportunity to include it, or address it in some measure, in his ‘The Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh’ treatise along with all else that he quoted from the Kitáb-i-Aqdas and expounded upon in that document related to the Administrative Order, the New World Order, the Guardianship, the Universal House of Justice, and the other institutions. He also had opportunity to bring it to the attention of the believers during the six year period following the expulsion from the Faith of the last potentially eligible Aghsan in December 1951 and prior to his passing on November 4, 1957. Rather, in those last years he continued to write of the further unfoldment “in the fullness of time” of the institutions of the Guardianship, the Hands of the Cause, the International Bahá'í Council, the future Universal House of Justice destined to emerge, and the national and local assemblies.

Not to stray too far out there, but in my studies over the years of the biblical scriptures, of the Quran, and of the other great belief Systems of the world, I have found that having multiple English translations of these Works has been helpful as I sought a fuller understanding of the meanings of the verses within those Books. Of course, as I seek to better understand the Writings of the Bab and Baha’u’llah I first turn to Shoghi Effendi’s translations, where available, and his expositions where I can find them. Regarding translation, I have little knowledge of the Arabic language, excepting that I took three elementary Modern Standard Arabic courses some 30 years ago in an attempt to at least familiarize myself with that language. I was inspired to do so at that time as a result of reading a paraphrase of Baha’u’llah’s words suggesting something like, “God would be pleased if the peoples of the world were to learn the Arabic language and that it has the vastest possibilities for a universal language.” Not being able to fully implement what I learned of the Arabic language over the years since then, the best I have retained is an appreciation for the language, and that in its structure it is organic, living, and growing from root meanings. As I study the translations of the Baha’i Writings, I strive to understand the deeper “root” meanings of some of the key words translated by Shoghi Effendi and others, which finally circles me back to our focus on verse 42 of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas.

Prior to the “authoritative” English translation of verse 42 of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas being brought forth by the House of Justice, two other English full translations of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas had been completed. The first was by an early believer, Anton Haddad, in 1900 – 1901. The second translation was completed by an English scholar of Arabic, Dr. Earl E. Elder, in 1961 which I first became exposed to in 1978. It should be clarified that Dr. Elder was an associate of William McElwee Miller who was unfriendly toward the Faith. Although the Elder translation lacks poetic beauty in its style, it is not necessarily literally inaccurate when compared to the Haddad and the “authoritative” translations. Regarding verse 42, most of what is translated in the three appears to be similar with the exception to the World Center “authoritative” translation as it differs from the others where it reads: “to the House of Justice--should it be established in the world by then . . .” When doing comparisons between the three translations, this got my attention as the other two translations do not use the words “in the world”. Haddad’s translation reads: “to the House of Justice when it becomes dominately established in countries; . . .”, and Elder’s translation reads: “to the House of Justice. If His Cause is established throughout the lands, . . .” With some research, I learned that the Arabic word Bahá’u’lláh used in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas for what has been translated as “world”, “countries”, or “throughout the lands” is “belad” (also transliterated "beled" or "balad"). Doing on line research, I have found that “belad” can mean city, district, province, region, country, but no where do I find that “belad” is used for the word “world”. To be fair, one person I am acquainted with who spent many years working at the World Center Research Department assisting with translations (and currently continues to assist from a distance) told me that in some rare instances that he is aware of Shoghi Effendi did translate the word “belad” as “world”. I have no knowledge of the context or of translation examples related to those rare instances he mentioned. It appears that the selection of the word “world” as has been done in the authoritatively translated verse is to indicate that the “House of Justice” mentioned is actually intended the Universal House of Justice, rather than a word that is usually associated with cities, districts, provinces, regions, lands, or countries which could certainly change the meaning and indicate a “House of Justice” on another level.

Another interesting aspect and question I also have related to verse 42 is that Baha’u’llah addressed “endowments dedicated to charity” and the use of these endowments were first to be managed by Baha’u’llah, then by the Aghsan, and then following the Aghsan by the institution of the “House of Justice” should it be established by then. I ask this because in one of Shoghi Effendi’s letters written in April 1956 he refers to property endowments acquired in Haifia “. . . for the purpose of extending and safeguarding, on the one hand, the area of the international Bahá'í endowments on Mt. Carmel, and of providing, on the other, the much needed space for the extension and completion of the far-flung arc around which the edifices of the World Bahá'í Administrative Order are to be built. . . .” and then he concludes by writing that “. . . the transfer of the title deeds of recently acquired plots to the name of the Israel branches of the United States, the British, the Persian, the Canadian and Australian Bahá'í National Spiritual Assemblies is being expeditiously carried out.” (Messages to the Bahá'í World: 1950-1957 pp. 94 – 95) Are not the transference of these endowments to National Spiritual Assemblies (secondary Houses of Justice) similar to Haddad’s translation mentioning “to the House of Justice when it becomes dominately established in countries; . . . “ and to Elder’s translation, to the House of Justice. If His Cause is established throughout the lands, . . .”? I find it interesting that the Guardian did not place those endowments in the hands of the International Bahá'í Council, referred to by him as the embryonic Universal House of Justice, for “safeguarding”. All that said, perhaps Bahá’u’lláh was only addressing monetary “endowments dedicated to charity” in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas rather than property endowments.

Sometime soon, and after a bit more study and contemplation, it is likely that I will send a query to the Research Department about the choice of the words “in the world” selected for the “authorized” translation, and about the Guardian’s transference of those property endowments to those secondary Houses of Justice of various countries. My point in all I’ve commented on above this is that when one puts forth this verse 42 (or other verses for that matter) as an argument, and when different translations not completed by the Guardian can allude to various meanings, that without the institution of the Guardianship to establish an “authorized” meaning, and knowing that "its meaning can never be exhausted", there is room for questions to be asked and considered. Those sharing observations and asking valid questions should not be condemned.

Thank you again Tony, and take care. -LR
You also take care Larry.

One thing I have learnt is not to hang Faith upon single translated words or an english understanding of a passage.

In the end we have a lot more guidance to go on than pass dispensations. I see we have been left with the challenge of not breaking this Faith apart because of our different way of seeing things.

We do know that in time, we will have got it wrong, as to when and how it started to go pear shaped?

It appears that God did decree that the challenge started with the line of the Guardian ending at Shoghi Effendi. From my study, the Majority of the Hands fulfilled their role and the one who thought better, suffered the fate of thinking personal opinion was better than the whole.

We, in our time, can only work on the Unity of Humanity, bringing about the Oneness of God. To do that, does in many ways mean submission of our own preferences.

It will be an interesting future.

Regards Tony
 
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