This blog entry is a direct sequel to my earlier one: A Lost History of the Baha’i Faith
The book was put up for sale on Amazon.com, and just as I and Eric Stetson expected, Haifan Baha’is took notice of it and proceeded to attack it, even without bothering to read its contents.
on July 13, 2015This is NOT a good history of the Baha’i Faith. It is a very biased history. This would be comparable of the history of the message of Jesus Christ written by Judas Iscariot or by Caiaphas, the Jewish priest who organized His death sentence.
If you REALLY want a good and well authenticated history of the Baha’i Faith, you should try “Baha’u’llah & the New Era” by John Esslemont, a British citizen, or “God Passes By” by Shoghi Effendi, the grandson of the founder, who was educated
at Oxford with a particular interest in history.
on May 8, 2015The other reviewers comments are appreciated, as they clearly explain why this book has been written to attack the Baha’i Faith, by those who who not keep God’s covenant. There are hundreds of other books at Amazon which give a fair, accurate, and interesting perspective of the Baha’i faith.
on June 22, 2015As a former Baha’i, I was very excited to learn about the writing of this book, having been friends with the editor Eric Stetson for years. I knew nothing about the descendants of Baha’u’llah who were excommunicated from the religious community founded by their own ancestor except for the hateful, bigoted claims written about them by the propaganda writers who work for the mainstream Baha’i cult based in Haifa, Israel. At last, this book tells the other side of the story, about how those descendants were falsely labeled “covenant-breakers” when in fact they were the ones who insisted that ALL the provisions of Baha’u’llah’s Will and Testament (called the Book of the Covenant) be upheld. That Will made Baha’u’llah’s eldest son Abdu’l-Baha leader of the Faith, but also stated that the younger half brother Muhammad Ali (father of the book’s author) would be Abdu’l-Baha’s successor, not Shoghi Effendi as Abdu’l-Baha would proclaim in his own Will and Testament a generation later. By doing this, Abdu’l-Baha exalted himself above his father. So who actually broke the Baha’i Covenant? If Baha’is really believe in the independent investigation of truth, they will look at this book for themselves.
This infuriated a Haifan Baha’i named Rob Jenkins, who then made a comment on my review, resulting in a lengthy debate between us. His comments will be in red while mine will be in green.
The editor of “A Lost History of the Baha’i Faith …”, Eric Stetson, is himself a former Baha’i. According to Moojan Momen, a sociology-of-religion scholar and Baha’i, in his paper, “Marginality and Apostasy” (2007), Stetson had been a Baha’i for only four years, from 1998-2002, and, to use the sociology-of-religion terminology, he is an apostate — meaning one who attacks his/her former religion or its authorities, dedicating many years of his/her life to mounting and maintaining a relentless attack; often such individuals can’t get past their disappointment with the religion and just move on with their lives. This phenomenon is found in most, if not all, religions: there are former Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, etc., who engage in such apostate activities.
Experts in the fields of sociology of religion and religious studies state that, from a psychological perspective, such people are very much like individuals who get divorced and, even though they have been divorced from their former spouse for many years, can’t let go; they spend tremendous amounts of time and emotional energy bewailing to their listeners the failings of and injuries done to them by their former spouse, grinding continuously on all the former spouse’s failings — actual and perceived. In both types of situation — former religion, former marriage — such people engage in distortion of the actual situation, ascribing all sorts of misdeeds and sinister motives behind the putative actions of the target of their negative campaign.
Judging by statements of sociology-of-religion scholars who have researched marginal and apostate activity associated with the Baha’i Faith occurring over the last several decades, Stetson, during the last year of his membership in the Baha’i Faith, became what sociology-of-religion scholars refer to as a “marginal” — a member of the religion who sits on the fringes and criticizes and agitates for change in the religion. To quote from Momen’s paper: “Eric Stetson … was a Bahá’í for four years (1998-2002). By 2001, he had become a marginal Bahá’í (he states he had doubts about the authoritarian nature of the Bahá’í administration and about the issue of the leadership). By the end of that year, he was claiming prophethood for himself and setting up a website … where in early 2002, he published `The Book of Restoration’ with nineteen points for the reformation of the Bahá’í Faith. He also announced the setting up of the Alliance for the Reform of the Bahá’í Faith, a group that appears never to have come into existence. Later in the same year, he became a Christian, founding his own sect, Christian Universalism. He then altered his website dedicating it to discrediting the Bahá’í Faith and converting Bahá’ís to Christianity (Stetson, 2006; Stetson, 2001).”
I’ve been a Baha’i for over forty years, and have read accounts of some of the relentless polemics of some former Baha’is, and I can honestly say that I can’t recognize the religion that has been portrayed in such accounts: I’ve found such accounts to be a mixture of distorted facts and pure fantasy; many of them are, in fact, malicious attacks bent on distorting the image of the Baha’i Faith in an attempt to dissuade others from investigating it with an unbiased mind. Above all, the characterization of the Baha’i administration as “authoritarian” is an absolute fabrication.
As for the book, “A Lost History of the Baha’i Faith”, the contents are not lost; they’re merely a different “perspective” on the period in question. The book is a presentation of the account by Shu’a’ullah (son of Muhammad-Ali, a half-brother of `Abdu’l-Baha), about members of Baha’u’llah’s family who were cast out from the religion after the castoffs’ leaders — Mirza Muhammad-Ali, Badi’u’llah, as well as Shu’a’ullah, Jamal-i-Burujirdi, Mirza Aqa Jan, etc. — had attempted to subvert the Will and Testament of Baha’u’llah (the Kitab-i-Ahd: Book of the Covenant); this document had appointed Baha’u’llah’s eldest son, `Abdu’l-Baha as the leader of the Baha’i community and the lone authorized official interpreter of Baha’i scripture. Muhammad-Ali, et al., made numerous attempts to rest the leadership of the Baha’i Faith from `Abdu’l-Baha, but they failed because the vast majority of the contemporary membership of the Baha’i Faith saw them as the envious, embittered and power-hungry wretches that they were. Muhammad-Ali had disqualified himself as a successor to `Abdu’l-Baha when, out of his overarching jealously toward his older half-brother, he continuously and tirelessly worked to subvert `Abdu’l-Baha’s legitimate leadership; such activity violated both the provisions of Baha’u’llah’s will, and the very spirit contained therein and in all of His Writings. Muhammad-Ali’s actions left `Abdu’l-Baha no choice but to excommunicate him and his co-conspirators, thereby disqualifying Muhammad-Ali as a potential candidate to succeed `Abdu’l-Baha.
The contents of “A Lost History” present the last-gasp effort by Shu’a’ullah, Muhammad-Ali’s son, to recast the incidents in question in a light favorable to his castoff family’s claims. But, in so doing, this book gives short shrift to accounts from the other side of the dispute by those who were eyewitnesses to the entire affair, as well as to the court records that document the case. Hence, there is a decided lack of balance.
The principle of “the independent investigation of truth” may well be served by reading “A Lost History …”, but the former Baha’is responsible for editing this book and those who advocate reading it would do well to follow their own advice and search more deeply into the universally-recognized (by knowledgeable Baha’is, at least) authentic annals of the history of the Baha’i Faith: I particularly recommend Adib Taherzadeh’s works, “The Revelation of Baha’u’llah” (in 4 volumes), and especially “The Covenant of Baha’u’llah”; the latter lays out in detail the full episode of the machinations of Muhammad-Ali and his siblings and allies. After such reading, one would surely be in a better position to assess how “balanced” the material in “A Lost History” actually is.
If you ever actually read Baha’u’llah’s Will and Testament (The Book of the Covenant), then you would know that his commandments regarding Mirza Muhammad Ali were absolute, NOT provisional. So the depiction of Mirza Muhammad Ali as a covenant breaker by the propaganda writers of the mainstream Baha’i Faith actually discredits Baha’u’llah himself!
I’ve not only read the Kitab-i-`Ahd, I’ve read it many times, I’ve also read the Will and Testament of `Abdu’l-Baha several times.
Everything that the Manifestation of God says about an individual is provisional; it stays in effect only so long as that individual’s future conduct retains the qualities which prompted Him to so characterize that person. There were at least two Letters of the Living who rebelled against Baha’u’llah, though they were lauded by the Bab for their spiritual attainments; they subsequently threw that all away by refusing to recognize that Baha’u’llah is the Man Yuzhiruhu’llah, “Him Whom God shall make Manifest”. Christ appointed Judas Iscariot as one of His apostles, and yet, for all His infallible wisdom and insight, Judas literally sold his Lord out to the Sanhedrin.
Mirza Muhammad-Ali repeatedly violated Baha’u’llah’s Covenant by rebelling and intriguing against `Abdu’l-Baha; he repeatedly attempted to incite the Ottoman authorities against `Abdu’l-Baha with absolute lies about what He was doing and what He was about. Mirza Muhammad-Ali also attempted to turn the entire Baha’i community against `Abdu’l-Baha by sending libelous letters to various Baha’is and individual Baha’i communities. Yet the Baha’i community as a whole knew the character of Mirza Muhammad-Ali versus that of `Abdu’l-Baha; they knew that the former was a louse and the latter a saint. This is not “propaganda” by the “mainstream Baha’i Faith” — the only Baha’i Faith there is (the tiny ephemeral splinter groups notwithstanding); this is fully documented and available to any scholar who is willing to put in the time and effort to research this subject, who knows the original languages, and who doesn’t have an ideological ax to grind.
There are numerous scholars — Baha’i and non-Baha’i — who have extensively researched this period in Baha’i history. One need only read their works to understand how shallow and corrupt Mirza Muhammnad-Ali and his brother, Badi’u’llah, were, and how motivated they were by a thirst for power within the Baha’i community and for money — especially money.
Mirza Muhammad-Ali’s right to succeed `Abdu’l-Baha as leader of the Baha’i Faith was made provisional by Baha’u’llah on the former’s full submission to the authority of `Abdu’l-Baha as the Center of the Covenant. Because Muhammad-Ali so thoroughly dedicated every waking moment to trying to undermine `Abdu’l-Baha’s authority and position as Baha’u’llah’s legitimate appointed successor, and by trying to have `Abdu’l-Baha exiled or executed by the Ottoman authorities, he demonstrated his unworthiness as a potential successor to `Abdu’l-Baha, and brought upon himself his own excommunication from the Baha’i Faith and his designation as a covenant-breaker.
The descendants of Mirza Muhammad-Ali today have tried to characterize the station of Baha’u’llah as that of a mere Muslim holy man; anyone who has read the writings of Baha’u’llah knows that He claimed to be nothing less than God’s latest Manifestation, the newest Point of Revelation. Muhammad-Ali’s descendants, at least to the rest of the world outside of their family, identify themselves as Muslims. These are the people whom Stetson has tried to present as unimpeachable authorities on the history of the Baha’i Faith. The integrity and honor of Muhammad-Ali and his partisans, as the historical record shows, is demonstrably and thoroughly lacking.
Assertions prove nothing.
“Everything that the Manifestation of God says about an individual is provisional; it stays in effect only so long as that individual’s future conduct retains the qualities which prompted Him to so characterize him.”
Unfounded assumption. If Baha’u’llah had included a warning to Mirza Muhammad Ali to submit himself totally to Abdu’l-Baha or else he would be deprived of the right to succeed his brother, you would be correct. He didn’t, so you just lied.
“There were at least two Letters of the Living who rebelled against Baha’u’llah, though they were lauded by the Bab for their spiritual attainments;”
Who were they?
“There are numerous scholars — Baha’i and non-Baha’i — who have thoroughly researched this period in Baha’i history.”
Who were some of the non-Baha’i ones?
“The descendants of Mirza Muhammad-Ali today have tried to characterize the station of Baha’u’llah as that of a mere Muslim holy man;”
Do you have statements directly from them claiming this?
You can write an entire novel of baseless claims and rhetoric defending your corrupt and failed religion, but without empirical evidence of any kind, you give us NOTHING of substance. You hypocrites really need to grow up or you will be laughed at forever!
Baseless claims, eh? All the documentation in the world won’t convince someone emotionally wedded to his/her own embittered position and won’t let go. And personal abuse is the fallback of those who have nothing to back up their emotionally charged assertions but more of their own baseless claims and assertions.
“A Lost History …” consists of the assertions of one embittered man relating the narrative of his family who played fast and loose with the rules of a game they themselves concocted and went down in the flames of their own creation. Instead of moving on, they insisted on crying about their losses; poor babies — they did it to themselves! Meanwhile, there are the memoirs of numerous faithful Baha’is who were the contemporaries of Muhammad-Ali — e.g., Haji Mirza Haydar-Ali, Mirza Abu’l-Fadl, Ustad Muhammad-Aliy-i-Salmani, et al. — who have given their side of the story, but people like Eric Stetson completely ignore their testimonies to concentrate on one person whose narratives don’t stand up under the scrutiny of solid historical research.
That being said, let’s look at the testimony of Baha’u’llah in the Kitab-i-`Ahd:
“The aim of this Wronged One … hath been naught but to quench the flame of hate and enmity, that the horizon of the hearts of men may be illumined with the light of concord and attain real peace and tranquility. … God hath forgiven what is past. Henceforward everyone should utter that which is meet and seemly, and should refrain from slander, abuse and whatever causeth sadness in men.” [Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p 219f]
Muhammad-Ali broke this standard in spades; His stock in trade had been “… slander, abuse and whatever causeth sadness in men”, as I’ve pointed out in my previous two posts, thereby violating the laws which Baha’u’llah had so clearly laid out.
“Conflict and contention are categorically forbidden in His Book. This is a decree of God in this Most Great Revelation. It is divinely preserved from annulment and is invested by Him with the splendour of His confirmation.” [p 221]
As I stated previously, contention and conflict were part and parcel of Muhammad-Ali’s modus operandi with regard to his opposition to `Abdu’l-Baha’s appointment by Baha’u’llah as sole legitimate leader of the Baha’i Faith and its body of avowed adherents. I need not rehash what I stated about Muhammad-Ali’s activities made in my previous posts.
“It is incumbent upon everyone to aid those daysprings of authority and sources of command who are adorned with the ornament of equity and justice. Blessed are the rulers and learned among the people of Baha.” [Ibid.]
This is, of course, a reference to the learned members of the Baha’i community, but the One who is at the top of the “learned among the people of Baha” is none other than the sole authorized official interpreter of Baha’u’llah’s teachings, `Abdu’l-Baha. Far from aiding `Abdu’l-Baha, Muhammad-Ali did everything he could to obstruct and undermine His authority, even using lies to turn the Ottoman authorities against Him: These are all clear violations of the spirit and letter of Baha’u’llah’s will and testament, and of the entire body of His Writings. Any unbiased mind functioning in a rational manner can understand this, based on the known, demonstrable facts.
“It is incumbent upon the Aghsan, the Afnan and My kindred to turn, one and all, their faces towards the Most Mighty Branch. Consider that which We have revealed in Our Most Holy Book: `When the ocean of My presence hath ebbed and the Book of My Revelation is ended, turn your faces toward Him Whom God hath purposed, Who hath branched from this Ancient Root.’ The object of this sacred Verse is none other except the Most Mighty Branch [`Abdu’l-Baha]. … Verily God hath ordained the station of the Greater Branch [Muhammad-Ali] to be beneath that of the Most Great Branch [`Abdu’l-Baha]. …” [p 221f]
This is an unequivocal statement indicating that ALL members of the Baha’i community, including ALL MEMBERS of Baha’u’llah’s family must be subordinate to Abdu’l-Baha: this includes “the Greater Branch”, Muhammad-Ali, whose station Baha’u’llah clearly and explicitly stated in the Kitab-i-`Ahd was “beneath that of” `Abdu’l-Baha. Yet, Muhammad-Ali rebelled against `Abdu’l-Baha from the moment the contents of the Kitab-i-`Ahd became known. The position outlined by Baha’u’llah for Muhammad-Ali is very clearly provisional, based on all of His statements about personal conduct in not only the Kitab-i-`Ahd alone, but in all the other texts revealed by Baha’u’llah, and based on His clear, unequivocal statement in the Kitab-i-`Ahd that Muhammad-Ali’s station is subordinate to that of `Abdu’l-Baha.
`Abdu’l-Baha spent His entire life, every waking moment, in service to the Cause of His Father. Muhammad-Ali, by contrast, did nothing to aid in the spread of the Faith of Baha’u’llah; instead, he spent his time in leisure, pursuing a life of dissipation and diversions. His whole life clearly demonstrated that he was unqualified for the position that he so ardently craved but did nothing to prepare himself for, spiritually, morally and practically. This is attested by his contemporaries in the Baha’i community in their own accounts of those circumstances. Anyone devoted to the principle of “independent investigation of truth” would do well to look them up and read them for themselves.
As for the Baha’i Faith being a corrupt and failed religion: Funny, it keeps growing from strength to strength, having a membership in excess of 6 million in less than 200 years; the elected and appointed members of the Baha’i administration spend countless hours laboring in the vineyards of their Lord, with little or no remuneration; that’s the antithesis of corruption in just about anyone’s estimation. I’ve witnessed it myself in my 40-plus years as a Baha’i, both on and (mostly) off of local assemblies.
As for your assertion that Baha’is should “grow up” or “be laughed at forever”: The corrupt world we live in right now is blind to the folly it is mired in; its defenders may be laughing right now, but we’ll see who’s still laughing before too many more years have passed. The self-styled “sophisticated” members of our society are content to live sophomoric lives of arrested adolescence, believing their mode of behaving and thinking are the hallmark of maturity and sophistication, not realizing it’s all merely a “vapor in the desert” of “idle fancies and vain imaginings”; their mode of thinking and behaving is what’s leading human society down the brier path to ruination.
As for your other questions: I’ve done my homework; put in the effort to do your own, rather than rely on others to do the work for you. You can start by looking up the history of the Baha’i Faith on Amazon or on the Internet. You might actually learn something.
Were you there when the battles between Abdu’l-Baha and Mirza Muhammad Ali broke out? Consider that at the end of his life, Baha’u’llah was living at a mansion named Bahji, which was inherited by Muhammad Ali, not Abdu’l-Baha. Consider also that Mirza Aqa Jan, who was Baha’u’llah’s personal secretary for four decades, rejected Abdu’l-Baha’s authority. Why would either of those things happen?
The truth is, Baha’u’llah made clear in the Kitab-i-Aqdas that no one after him would claim revelation directly from God for up to 1000 years. Not even Abdu’l-Baha. There is a difference between making someone the leader of the Baha’i community, which no one disputes, and declaring that Abdu’l-Baha would have the same infallibility as Baha’u’llah himself, which would only be possible if he received revelations directly from God. If you state that Mirza Muhammad Ali is not above Baha’u’llah’s commandments, why should Abdu’l-Baha be?
Even more disturbing, Abdul-Baha made this statement in his own Will and Testament:
“The sacred and youthful branch, the guardian of the Cause of God as well as the Universal House of Justice, to be universally elected and established, are both under the care and protection of the Abha Beauty, under the shelter and unerring guidance of His Holiness, the Exalted One (may my life be offered up for them both). Whatsoever they decide is of God. Whoso obeyeth him not, neither obeyeth them, hath not obeyed God; whoso rebelleth against him and against them hath rebelled against God; whoso opposeth him hath opposed God; whoso contendeth with them hath contended with God; whoso disputeth with him hath disputed with God; whoso denieth him hath denied God; whoso disbelieveth in him hath disbelieved in God; whoso deviateth, separateth himself and turneth aside from him hath in truth deviated, separated himself and turned aside from God. May the wrath, the fierce indignation, the vengeance of God rest upon him!”
So not only was Abdu’l-Baha claiming revelation directly from God, he was also claiming that Shoghi Effendi and the members of the Universal House of Justice would also receive such revelations! Otherwise, how could their absolute God-given authority be justified? It CAN’T!
Consider also that Shoghi Effendi died without issue at the relatively young age of 60, in the midst of the Ten Year World Crusade he was leading, of Asiatic flu while on a visit to London. This falsifies the claim in Abdu’l-Baha’s Will and Testament that “The sacred and youthful branch, the guardian of the Cause of God as well as the Universal House of Justice, to be universally elected and established, are both under the care and protection of the Abha Beauty, under the shelter and unerring guidance of His Holiness, the Exalted One.” Simple logic is enough to discredit the Baha’i Faith as you proclaim it.
And that is why I call you a hypocrite, Mr. Jenkins. You condemn Mirza Muhammad Ali for denying Abdu’l-Baha’s leadership, when the descendants of Baha’u’llah say no such thing ever happened. The actual dispute was over Abdu’l-Baha rebelling against one of the most fundamental teachings of Baha’u’llah himself to claim absolute authority that was beyond the limits set in the Kitab-i-Aqdas! Unless you are prepared to claim that Abdu’l-Baha somehow outranked his own father, your assertions about Mirza Muhammad Ali are clearly libelous. They are the product of decades of thought control and censorship by the Baha’i leadership, not any objective history.
I have every right to be embittered about discovering what I believed in the past was a pack of lies. Saying otherwise is like saying a man has no right to feel hungry when he is deprived of food for several days.
Neither you, Mr./Ms. Husband, nor I, nor Eric Stetson, were there when the events in question occurred. But there were many who were, and many of those left their own memoirs; virtually all of whom, with the exception of Shu’a’ullah, came down on the side of `Abdu’l-Baha. Yes, Mirza Aqa Jan sided with Muhammad-Ali, as did others; but, if you read the accounts about Mirza Aqa Jan, it’s quite clear that he had lost his mind. Even Jamal-i-Burujirdi — a highly regarded teacher of the Faith until he broke the Covenant — sided with Muhammad-Ali; and because these individuals allied themselves with Muhammad-Ali, they alienated the vast majority of the body of Baha’is. Why? Because the majority of the early Baha’is of that time knew all of these individuals, and they especially knew `Abdu’l-Baha; it was very clear to almost all the Baha’is what the caliber and character of `Abdu’l-Baha and that of Muhammad-Ali were; and they, to a person, sided with the Master (`Abdu’l-Baha). In any court of law, when the majority of witnesses give accounts that support one side in a conflict, the court finds in favor of the side supported by the majority. Muhammad-Ali and Shu’a’ullah and their small band of partisans were the only ones who pressed their side of this case, and the vast majority of the contemporary Baha’is of that time knew them for the corrupt, ambitious rascals and liars that they were. That’s why Muhammad-‘Ali and his partisans lost their case in the court of Baha’i public opinion — and in the divine court.
Muhammad-Ali did not inherit the mansion of Bahji: he and his family illegally occupied it, unjustly denying ‘Abdu’l-Baha access to it. All of the properties under Baha’u’llah’s name were left to ‘Abdu’l-Baha, but that didn’t stop Muhammad-Ali from absconding with some of it. The corrupt Ottoman government did nothing to correct the situation; it was only later, during the ministry of Shoghi Effendi, that the court in British-administered Palestine, based on the will and testaments of Baha’u’llah and ‘Abdu’l-Baha, made the ruling that Bahji belonged to the leader of the Baha’i Faith, not to Muhammad-Ali and his heirs.
`Abdu’l-Baha never claimed to be a conduit of divine revelation, nor did He claim to share in the Most Great Infallibility; He always stated that He was merely a servant of Baha’u’llah; what infallibility He did have — relative infallibility — was conferred on Him by Baha’u’llah. Only Muhammad-Ali and his partisans asserted that `Abdu’l-Baha had made such claims; there is no evidence of Him making such a claim — aside from these covenant-breakers’ unfounded assertions. But `Abdu’l-Baha, as the appointed leader of the Faith, had the authority and duty to determine what was acceptable and unacceptable behavior, and to call a person on his/her violations of the standards established by Baha’u’llah. For a number of years, `Abdu’l-Baha gently and lovingly counseled and warned Muhammad-Ali about his activities and their potential consequences for both him and his family, and for the Baha’i community as a whole; it was only when Muhammad-Ali’s actions grew so provocative and dangerous for the Baha’i community that `Abdu’l-Baha had no choice but to excommunicate him and his partisans.
Needless to say, you’ve misinterpreted the text of the Master’s Will and Testament. In His Will and Testament, `Abdu’l-Baha was not claiming revelation from God for Himself, Shoghi Effendi, or the Universal House of Justice: He was stipulating that their authority comes from God, and to act against that authority is to act against what God, through Baha’u’llah, has mandated; acting against the institutions that Baha’u’llah created, and resorting to factionalism, is to engage in schism, which is a gross violation of the very spirit of the Covenant which Baha’u’llah has clearly established. Without the Covenant of Baha’u’llah, there is no hope for the regeneration of humankind; as the Promised One of all ages, that is Baha’u’llah’s mission, by way of the unifying power of the Covenant which He established with all humanity.
The fact that the Guardian, Shoghi Effendi, was without issue does not prove that he was not under the “protection of the Abha Beauty”; the fact that the institutions he developed — his true progeny — are not only still in existence but are multiplying and growing in scope and maturity, demonstrates that divine protection and guidance are very much still in force for those institutions that the Guardian raised, while Muhammad-Ali’s progeny have been scattered by the winds of divine judgment, entirely bereft of any power to affect, for good or ill, the Cause of Baha’u’llah which the Master and the Guardian spent all of their life’s energies to advance; this is a clear indication that Muhammad-Ali and his family had violated the Covenant of Baha’u’llah and had fallen afoul of God’s judgment because of that violation. People like Shu’a’ullah and Stetson long ago had done their best to destroy the Baha’i Faith; many with far greater power and authority than either of them could ever hope to gain and wield tried and failed; and still the Baha’i Faith keeps growing and advancing.
Mr./Ms. Husband, if you choose to be embittered, and choose to spend the rest of your life wallowing in that bitterness, that is your privilege. If you choose to spend the rest of your life attacking the Baha’i Faith, that is also your privilege, and you are welcome to it. You can claim the right to be bitter; and I do claim the right to attempt to set the record straight when anyone publishes distortions about the history and teachings of the Baha’i Faith, a religion which I have studied and joyfully served in various capacities for over 40 years.
I bear you no malice, though you clearly bear malice towards me and other Baha’is. So be it. Baha’is have been the object of such malice for nearly 200 years. Disdain for and active persecution of this Faith merely makes the Faith and its devoted followers stronger; as Tertullian stated, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” If you choose to spend your life opposing the Baha’i Faith, that’s fine: Such tests only make Baha’is stronger in their devotion to Baha’u’llah and His Cause.
I then made a comment that amazon admin saw fit to delete…..but I saved it elsewhere:
“In any court of law, when the majority of witnesses give accounts that support one side in a conflict, the court finds in favor of the side supported by the majority.”
False statement. Eyewitnesses can be mistaken and witnesses can even lie under oath, but empirical evidence can discredit even the words of 100 false claims by liars. For example, DNA testing has exonerated those accused and convicted of rape and/or murder who were condemned on the testimony of supposed victims or their relatives.
“if you read the accounts about Mirza Aqa Jan, it’s quite clear that he had lost his mind.”
And why would that happen? Accounts written by whom?
“‘Abdu’l-Baha never claimed to be a conduit of divine revelation, nor did He claim to share in the Most Great Infallibility; He always stated that He was merely a servant of Baha’u’llah; what infallibility He had — relative infallibility — was conferred on Him by Baha’u’llah.”
This is sheer nonsense; infallibility is an absolute ideal which you either have or have not, for it cannot exist in degrees. Just by engaging me with such rhetorical trickery, you discredit yourself. Next….
“Without the Covenant of Baha’u’llah, there is no hope for the regeneration of humankind.”
You stated earlier that there are six million Baha’is in the world. That is less than 1/1000th of the world’s population in 150 years! Even the Mormons, a splinter group of Christianity, have been far more successful in propagating their religion in the same time period….and BTW, I despise Mormonism and have fought with Mormons online too. Their arrogant rhetoric is similar to yours and is expressed for the same reason: they endorse dogma over reason. That is why I call the Baha’i Faith a failure, because it produces people like you. There are many examples of people whose lives have been improved by religions other than the Baha’i Faith as well as by giving up dogmatic religions and seeking truth objectively. To claim that the Baha’i Covenant alone can save humanity is to be shamefully ignorant of the totality of human experiences. And just as the “covenant breakers” are small groups compared to the world-wide Baha’i Faith, so likewise the Baha’i Faith itself is almost nothing compared to the vast numbers of Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and non-religious people in the world. When the Pope or the Dalai Lama makes a public statement, the whole world pays attention to it because many who are not followers of Roman Catholicism or Tibetian Buddhism respect those leaders…. while almost no one outside the Baha’i community ever takes notice of any statements by the Universal House of Justice. So it stands to reason that even now, Roman Catholics and Buddhists can do far more for the world than your Baha’i Faith ever has.
“The fact that the Guardian, Shoghi Effendi, was without issue does not prove that he was not under the ‘protection of the Abha Beauty’;”
Then what would, I wonder? I note that you ignored all the other aspects of his sudden death. The Will and Testament of Abdu’l-Baha clearly states “after [Shoghi Effendi] will succeed the first-born of his lineal descendents.” It then goes on to say, “should the first-born of the Guardian of the Cause of God not manifest in himself the truth of the words:-“The child is the secret essence of its sire,” that is, should he not inherit of the spiritual within him (the Guardian of the Cause of God) and his glorious lineage not be matched with a goodly character, then must he, (the Guardian of the Cause of God) choose another branch to succeed him.” And yet Shoghi Effendi expelled ALL his own relatives from the Baha’i community, making it impossible for him to obey his grandfather’s commandments. That is like cutting off the tree branch you are sitting on and falling to your death. If anyone else had done to his relatives what Shoghi Effendi did, he would be considered a sociopath. He even attacked one of his own brothers in a shameful message to the Baha’is of the world for marrying a “low-born Christian girl in Europe.” You do know there is no prohibition against Baha’is marrying non-Bahai’s, right? Such an insult to his own sister-in-law is revolting, to say the least. But that is exactly what happens when you give someone the exact same authority as God Himself; no matter what he does, he is “right” in the eyes of the believer, regardless of how disgusting it would be for anyone else to do such things. Objective truth and objective ethical standards are lacking in Baha’is.
There is nothing genuine left about the Baha’i Faith headquartered in Haifa, Israel, and your responses to me (including ad hominem attacks against me, Eric Stetson, and others who dare to contradict official Baha’i dogmas) have only shown me and others all the more why I was right to leave that faith. Goodbye, Mr Jenkins.
He was not finished with me, however:
The statement is true by force of logic. Some eyewitnesses may be mistaken; but the preponderance of the evidence of a large number of witnesses eventually leads to the point — a “critical mass”, as it were — where the eyewitnesses’ testimony on one side becomes irrefutable. But if we assume that all eyewitness testimony is suspect, as you assert, then Shu’a’ullah’s is dubious by definition, and thereby the validity of “A Lost History” is null and void and its story is pointless. “Empirical evidence” avails nothing here, as there is none; all that historians have at their disposal are memoirs and court records; since that’s all that’s left, historians have no other recourse but to rely on and deal with them, comparing and contrasting the various court records and eyewitness accounts presented on the events in question. And again, the vast majority — probably approaching 99 percent — of the membership of the Baha’i Faith of that period, the ultimate court of public opinion regarding the matter of the legitimate leadership succession of the Faith, sided with `Abdu’l-Baha. Case closed.
What caused Mirza Aqa Jan to become mentally ill? One can only guess. One likely reason is that he was elderly and was possibly afflicted with some form of dementia. It could also be that, because Baha’u’llah had cast him out of His presence, and then after the passing of Baha’u’llah, Mirza Aqa Jan, after throwing in his lot with the covenant-breakers, had further betrayed the Cause of his Lord by fabricating in His name tablets defaming `Abdu’l-Baha and praising Muhammad-Ali, and had, at the covenant-breakers’ urging, even claimed to be a recipient of revelation by way of a dream, when the covenant-breakers’ machinations fell apart and Mirza Aqa Jan subsequently realized the gravity of what he had done, the strain of those events and of that realization broke his mind. Supposition you say? Indeed. But that is all we’re left with until more information eventually comes to light — maybe by way of another piece of evidence from another memoir.
By whose testimony? Well, we can start with Haji Mirza Haydar-Ali, a direct eyewitness of Mirza Aqa Jan’s mental state as recorded in his memoirs, the English translation of which is entitled “Stories from the Delight of Hearts”. One can then explore other accounts on these matters. But since, like other avowed opponents of the Baha’i Faith for whom no account will suffice save those of other opponents, you’ll likely dismiss such accounts out of hand. There’s nothing like an open mind engaging in “independent investigation of the truth”.
How do YOU know that infallibility cannot exist in degrees? Do YOU have a direct line to God? Is He directly informing you about this and other matters? Are YOU claiming direct revelation from God? Or are you merely making assumptions based on your own predilections, prejudices and preconceived notions? I trust in the teachings of the Central Figures of the Baha’i Faith, and especially in Baha’u’llah, to inform me about what is and isn’t possible in such matters. In point of fact, all of these statements on such matters by Baha’u’llah, `Abdu’l-Baha, etc., are in the form of symbol and metaphor; they’re not to be taken literally. But obviously, you’d rather resort to personal attacks and spew venom than try to explore the ramifications of such lofty maters. So be it.
The number of Baha’is in the world being smaller than that of Mormons, I suspect, has everything to do with the fact that the LDS Church started some 20 years earlier, and had grown and developed with far less opposition and persecution than the Baha’i Faith had — and the Faith is still undergoing in the Middle East and some other places to one degree or another to this day. This would be due to where each religion appeared in the world and where and when its early formative years were spent. Also, LDS claims to be Christian, is arguably a Protestant denomination and, even with its unique doctrines, is still recognizably Christian, and has grown up in a relatively tolerant environment in the US and in the Americas — though it was persecuted in its earliest days. The Baha’i Faith, by contrast, claims to be the newest independent revelation from God, spent its formative years in the Islamic world — a part of the world that is deeply intolerant of what its clergy regard as religious “deviations”; plus, the Islamic clergy insist that there will be no new revelations after that of the Prophet Muhammad, per Qur’aan 33.40 (regarding Muhammad as the “Seal of the Prophets”); all of this resulting in Baha’is’ suffering sporadic, sometimes continuous persecution (especially under Iran’s current Islamic regime) throughout its history. So the Baha’i Faith started out with a much greater disadvantage than LDS, and that disadvantage has unrelentingly continued. Also, the Faith’s largest growth spurt didn’t start until circa the mid-20th century — some 100 years after its founding.
As regards the Pope and the Dalai Lama: They may be well known and even well regarded, but among the population outside of their respective religions they have virtually no influence; the general reaction at best of people in the West in particular is, “Isn’t that nice. What an interesting point of view. Good for them”, and then go on with their personal business unfazed and unaffected by either leader’s statements. The Pope himself has plenty of opposition within his own church; many Catholics simply ignore those of his pronouncements that they disagree with. The only Buddhists who have particular regard for the Dalai Lama are adherents of the Vajrayana branch of Mahayana Buddhism; most other Buddhists, Mahayana and Theravada, are generally unconcerned with and unaffected by what the Dalai Lama says or does.
For centuries the clergy of all the historical religions that predate the Baha’i Faith have been losing influence over their congregations and the general population as those religions’ people and clergy turn to ever-more secular ways of thinking and behaving. Most of the clergy have also been increasingly afflicted with a materialist, especially literalist, mindset regarding their own scriptures, thereby adding to the growing problems of the world, rather than effecting a cure; in many religious quarters, an intolerant strain of fundamentalism has been growing like a cancer among the clergy and adherents of these religions, leading some of them to violently attack those they see as their (internal as well as external) enemies. Only the Manifestation of God for this day, Baha’u’llah, has the remedy that can and will cure the social and spiritual ills that afflict humankind. If this sounds like doctrinaire “pie-in-the sky” thinking, it’s really a matter of one’s mindset and, especially, one’s spiritual experience. You see delusion; I see divine guidance that can lead the receptive soul to the ultimate truth. To quote the Qur’aan: “You have your religion, and I have mine” (lakum diinukum, wa-lii diinii) [Q 108.6].
The Guardian, Shoghi Effendi, could not appoint a successor as Guardian because he had, out of necessity, excommunicated the rest of the Aghsan (male descendants of Baha’u’llah) because, like the Guardian’s uncles, Muhammad-Ali, Badi’u’llah, et al., they had broken the Covenant. Since there were no Aghsan left who could be considered qualified to become Guardian, his hands were tied. Why? Because the Guardian himself is not above the laws of the Faith; he was bound by the unannulable, unabrogateable (by mere humans) text of the Creative Word, and by the provisions of `Abdu’l-Baha’s Will and Testament; ergo, there were no viable candidates for successor. Even if Shoghi Effendi had not excommunicated all of the Aghsan, none of them, by the terms and conditions set out in the Will and Testament, were qualified for the job of Guardianship; hence, no successor could be appointed. Again: Case closed.
Doing what you imply the Guardian “should’ve done” would be equivalent to a company having no one in (or out of) that company qualified to succeed its current CEO, but which nevertheless appoints SOMEONE out of sheer desperation. The result would be disastrous for that company; and such would’ve been the case if Shoghi Effendi had appointed as his successor one of the Aghsan, all of whom had proven to be unqualified, and all of whom later had subsequently broken the Covenant. …
And again, the Guardian NEVER claimed to have the same authority as God Himself, nor did the Master (`Abdu’l-Baha); their authority COMES from God, but that authority never made them EQUAL to God; but since that authority is God-given, opposing such authority is tantamount to opposing God Himself; hence, the tenor of `Abdu’l-Baha’s statements in His Will and Testament. Such assertions that the Master and the Guardian claimed equality with God is just one of the many outright fabrications of the opponents of the Faith, who take certain passages out of context and twist them to serve their own perfidious aims. That’s a much easier thing to do than to actually wrestle with the deeper meanings and implications of those passages; actually engaging with and plumbing the depths of the authoritative texts requires concentrated reading, deeply pondering and reflecting, and cross-referencing with other passages to gain a deeper insight into and a fuller understanding of the meaning and intention of the revealed words and of the authoritative interpretations of those passages. But minds burdened by hostility mixed with laziness prefer to just take statements out of context and twist their meanings; honest appraisal of the texts, as well as of the records and the accounts of all the eyewitnesses, never factors into the schemes of self-avowed enemies of the Faith. Such schemes will avail the perpetrators nothing.
What you see as “ad hominem” attacks are, in fact, simple statements of the actual facts. The truth hurts, especially for those who play fast and loose with the facts, and who eagerly cherry pick certain pieces of information and then present them in the worst possible light in order to attempt to prove their otherwise unfounded assertions; this is exactly what Stetson has done with “A Lost History”, and part of what Shu’a’ullah had done, along with the latter inserting purely fabricated elements of narrative, all motivated by a desire to mischaracterize and damage the reputation of a Faith, the leadership of which his family deeply craved but could never achieve. And so their malice burned and grew until it consumed them; and such is the case with today’s opponents, internal and external; the product of their malice and machinations is material such as “A Lost History” — a fanciful, deceitful, pitiful and impotent last gasp.
But as I said in my previous post, Mr./Ms. Husband, go right ahead with your efforts to disparage and mischaracterize the Baha’i Faith: The truth will out. The payment for such perfidious deeds always comes due eventually, and, in the broader view of eternity, the amount is always VERY steep, indeed.
The sheer hypocrisy constantly displayed by Rob Jenkins from start to finish proves one thing that my own life has also demonstrated: No amount of logic or empirically based truth will make someone give up a viewpoint that is somehow a comfort to him and rhetoric alone is enough to make someone cling to whatever he WANTS to believe, period. In my case, I always had some doubts about the faith, but I had to isolate myself from the other Baha’is in the Fort Worth area about the summer of 2004 in order to begin analyzing the issues and facts apart from their influence. Once I did, within a few months the whole case for the Baha’i Faith’s credibility came apart and crashed like the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center did. I was set free at last to be my true self: the Honorable Skeptic!
I think the most fundamental difference between Rob Jenkins and myself is not even about the Baha’i Faith, it is about what we use as the standard for judging what truth is which would be a problem no matter what religion he professes. This illustration shows what I mean: