A Critical Analysis of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Part Three

This is a continuation of my criticism of the Most Holy Book of Baha’ullah, the book of laws that is a foundational document of the Baha’i Faith. Part One and Part Two should be read first. And as before, I will include direct quotes from the book in red bold and my responses will be in blue italics. My source for this book is:

http://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/bahaullah/kitab-i-aqdas/#r=ka_en-1

O people of Bahá! It is incumbent upon each one of you to engage in some occupation—such as a craft, a trade or the like. We have exalted your engagement in such work to the rank of worship of the one true God. Reflect, O people, on the grace and blessings of your Lord, and yield Him thanks at eventide and dawn. Waste not your hours in idleness and sloth, but occupy yourselves with what will profit you and others. Thus hath it been decreed in this Tablet from whose horizon hath shone the daystar of wisdom and utterance. The most despised of men in the sight of God are they who sit and beg. Hold ye fast unto the cord of means and place your trust in God, the Provider of all means.

This sounds like a great idea, making everyone that can work for a living do so and refusing any aid to people who are lazy and unwilling to contribute to the rest of society, just like what capitalists claim to believe in. In practice, however, workers in capitalist economies only get a portion of the profits their labor generates, the rest going to the business owners and stockholders who may not even be working for the company in any sense. That is NOT justice! By contrast, in the Communist societies Karl Marx called for the standard of economics was “from each according to his ABILITY, to each according to his NEEDS”, which is why Communist countries tended to have impoverished populations, because there was never any incentive to work harder if you were never going to be paid more for doing more work. The concept was self-defeating.

Take a look at this from A Simple Lesson in Economics:
Business

It seems clear that neither crony capitalism nor state-managed communism fits what Baha’u’llah advocated. He deserves credit for rejecting both. I myself have advocated making stockholders outside a corporation’s employment illegal and requiring that all corporate executives be elected by the workers from among themselves. If only Baha’is would be a lot louder about THAT and not endlessly squawk about “race unity”.

The kissing of hands hath been forbidden in the Book. This practice is prohibited by God, the Lord of glory and command. To none is it permitted to seek absolution from another soul; let repentance be between yourselves and God. He, verily, is the Pardoner, the Bounteous, the Gracious, the One Who absolveth the repentant.

This is probably a reference to certain Roman Catholic practices like Confession, in which a parishioner goes to a priest to confess sins he has committed recently. 

O ye servants of the Merciful One! Arise to serve the Cause of God, in such wise that the cares and sorrows caused by them that have disbelieved in the Dayspring of the Signs of God may not afflict you. At the time when the Promise was fulfilled and the Promised One made manifest, differences have appeared amongst the kindreds of the earth and each people hath followed its own fancy and idle imaginings.

That’s called freedom of thought, Baha’u’llah. God apparently did not make us robots. Why say people should be exactly alike in their minds?

Amongst the people is he who seateth himself amid the sandals by the door whilst coveting in his heart the seat of honor. Say: What manner of man art thou, O vain and heedless one, who wouldst appear as other than thou art? And among the people is he who layeth claim to inner knowledge, and still deeper knowledge concealed within this knowledge. Say: Thou speakest false! By God! What thou dost possess is naught but husks which We have left to thee as bones are left to dogs. By the righteousness of the one true God! Were anyone to wash the feet of all mankind, and were he to worship God in the forests, valleys, and mountains, upon high hills and lofty peaks, to leave no rock or tree, no clod of earth, but was a witness to his worship—yet, should the fragrance of My good pleasure not be inhaled from him, his works would never be acceptable unto God. Thus hath it been decreed by Him Who is the Lord of all. How many a man hath secluded himself in the climes of India, denied himself the things that God hath decreed as lawful, imposed upon himself austerities and mortifications, and hath not been remembered by God, the Revealer of Verses. Make not your deeds as snares wherewith to entrap the object of your aspiration, and deprive not yourselves of this Ultimate Objective for which have ever yearned all such as have drawn nigh unto God. Say: The very life of all deeds is My good pleasure, and all things depend upon Mine acceptance. Read ye the Tablets that ye may know what hath been purposed in the Books of God, the All-Glorious, the Ever-Bounteous. He who attaineth to My love hath title to a throne of gold, to sit thereon in honor over all the world; he who is deprived thereof, though he sit upon the dust, that dust would seek refuge with God, the Lord of all Religions.

Here, Baha’u’llah echos a lot of what Jesus said about and to his fellow Jews.

Whoso layeth claim to a Revelation direct from God, ere the expiration of a full thousand years, such a man is assuredly a lying impostor. We pray God that He may graciously assist him to retract and repudiate such claim. Should he repent, God will, no doubt, forgive him. If, however, he persisteth in his error, God will, assuredly, send down one who will deal mercilessly with him. Terrible, indeed, is God in punishing! Whosoever interpreteth this verse otherwise than its obvious meaning is deprived of the Spirit of God and of His mercy which encompasseth all created things. Fear God, and follow not your idle fancies. Nay, rather, follow the bidding of your Lord, the Almighty, the All-Wise. Erelong shall clamorous voices be raised in most lands. Shun them, O My people, and follow not the iniquitous and evilhearted. This is that of which We gave you forewarning when We were dwelling in ‘Iráq, then later while in the Land of Mystery, and now from this Resplendent Spot.

Now stop and read this blog entry I made long ago:

https://dalehusband.com/2008/09/07/the-fatal-flaw-in-bahai-authority/

and then come back and continue with this one.

When I finally realized that one could only claim infallibility by also claiming direct revelation from God himself (by simple force of logic, since no man by himself can ever be equal to God), it put the whole issue of Abdu’l-Baha claiming to be infallible and also his claiming that Shoghi Effendi and the Universal House of Justice would be infallible as well in shocking context!  I could NO LONGER claim to believe in Baha’u’llah and also accept the absolute authority of his successors in the Baha’i Faith at the same time. The conflict in my mind that resulted led me to resign from the Faith in 2005.

Be not dismayed, O peoples of the world, when the daystar of My beauty is set, and the heaven of My tabernacle is concealed from your eyes. Arise to further My Cause, and to exalt My Word amongst men. We are with you at all times, and shall strengthen you through the power of truth. We are truly almighty. Whoso hath recognized Me will arise and serve Me with such determination that the powers of earth and heaven shall be unable to defeat his purpose.

I really wish that were true. Sadly, the Baha’i Faith has defeated itself, thanks to the corrupt authorities I just mentioned in my last comment. They are the Faith’s own worse enemies!

The peoples of the world are fast asleep. Were they to wake from their slumber, they would hasten with eagerness unto God, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. They would cast away everything they possess, be it all the treasures of the earth, that their Lord may remember them to the extent of addressing to them but one word. Such is the instruction given you by Him Who holdeth the knowledge of things hidden, in a Tablet which the eye of creation hath not seen, and which is revealed to none except His own Self, the omnipotent Protector of all worlds. So bewildered are they in the drunkenness of their evil desires, that they are powerless to recognize the Lord of all being, Whose voice calleth aloud from every direction: “There is none other God but Me, the Mighty, the All-Wise.”

Say: Rejoice not in the things ye possess; tonight they are yours, tomorrow others will possess them. Thus warneth you He Who is the All-Knowing, the All-Informed. Say: Can ye claim that what ye own is lasting or secure? Nay! By Myself, the All-Merciful, ye cannot, if ye be of them who judge fairly. The days of your life flee away as a breath of wind, and all your pomp and glory shall be folded up as were the pomp and glory of those gone before you. Reflect, O people! What hath become of your bygone days, your lost centuries? Happy the days that have been consecrated to the remembrance of God, and blessed the hours which have been spent in praise of Him Who is the All-Wise. By My life! Neither the pomp of the mighty, nor the wealth of the rich, nor even the ascendancy of the ungodly will endure. All will perish, at a word from Him. He, verily, is the All-Powerful, the All-Compelling, the Almighty. What advantage is there in the earthly things which men possess? That which shall profit them, they have utterly neglected. Erelong, they will awake from their slumber, and find themselves unable to obtain that which hath escaped them in the days of their Lord, the Almighty, the All-Praised. Did they but know it, they would renounce their all, that their names may be mentioned before His throne. They, verily, are accounted among the dead.

Amongst the people is he whose learning hath made him proud, and who hath been debarred thereby from recognizing My Name, the Self-Subsisting; who, when he heareth the tread of sandals following behind him, waxeth greater in his own esteem than Nimrod. Say: O rejected one! Where now is his abode? By God, it is the nethermost fire. Say: O concourse of divines! Hear ye not the shrill voice of My Most Exalted Pen? See ye not this Sun that shineth in refulgent splendor above the All-Glorious Horizon? For how long will ye worship the idols of your evil passions? Forsake your vain imaginings, and turn yourselves unto God, your Everlasting Lord.

Again, all these statements are similar to what Jesus taught his own followers. At least you cannot accuse Baha’u’llah of plagiarism, but these were also completely unnecessary. He could have just made references to specific passages in the Gospels with quotes from Jesus. Then this book would have been shorter.

Endowments dedicated to charity revert to God, the Revealer of Signs. None hath the right to dispose of them without leave from Him Who is the Dawning-place of Revelation. After Him, this authority shall pass to the Aghṣán, and after them to the House of Justice—should it be established in the world by then—that they may use these endowments for the benefit of the Places which have been exalted in this Cause, and for whatsoever hath been enjoined upon them by Him Who is the God of might and power. Otherwise, the endowments shall revert to the people of Bahá who speak not except by His leave and judge not save in accordance with what God hath decreed in this Tablet—lo, they are the champions of victory betwixt heaven and earth—that they may use them in the manner that hath been laid down in the Book by God, the Mighty, the Bountiful.

This may refer to Ḥuqúqu’lláh and who is to be responsible for it. “Him Who is the Dawning-place of Revelation” is Baha’u’llah himself, of course. The Aghsan is a Baha’i term for the sons or male descendants of Baha’u’llah. Both Abdu’l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi were Aghsan. Baha’is believe that when Shoghi Effendi died in 1957, the Hands of the Cause of God he had appointed to assist him fulfilled the provision of the people of Bahá who speak not except by His leave and judge not save in accordance with what God hath decreed in this Tablet”, leading the worldwide Baha’i community until the Universal House of Justice was elected in 1963. No argument from me about that. But if only Abdu’l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi had not made such a big deal about the importance of the Guardianship, the attempt in 1960 by Charles Mason Remey to usurp that position and thus the leadership of the Faith itself while the community was so vulnerable might not have happened. Remey was clearly an opportunistic bastard to have pulled such a stunt!

Lament not in your hours of trial, neither rejoice therein; seek ye the Middle Way which is the remembrance of Me in your afflictions and reflection over that which may befall you in future. Thus informeth you He Who is the Omniscient, He Who is aware.

Seek balance in life; that seems quite reasonable.

Shave not your heads; God hath adorned them with hair, and in this there are signs from the Lord of creation to those who reflect upon the requirements of nature. He, verily, is the God of strength and wisdom. Notwithstanding, it is not seemly to let the hair pass beyond the limit of the ears. Thus hath it been decreed by Him Who is the Lord of all worlds.

It was later clarified that this only referred to men, not women. I guess the Baha’i leaders after Baha’u’llah realized how absurd it was to require women to always have short hair. Also, what about cases of male pattern baldness; would that not contradict what Baha’u’llah claimed? Was he simply not paying attention? Some of the most handsome men in the world were and are naturally bald.

MV5BMTc0MzU5ODQ5OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwODIwODk1._V1_UY317_CR4,0,214,317_AL_  yul-brynner-9542628-1-402

And here is a picture of Abdu’l-Baha as a young man:

Abbaseffendi1868

Exile and imprisonment are decreed for the thief, and, on the third offense, place ye a mark upon his brow so that, thus identified, he may not be accepted in the cities of God and His countries. Beware lest, through compassion, ye neglect to carry out the statutes of the religion of God; do that which hath been bidden you by Him Who is compassionate and merciful. We school you with the rod of wisdom and laws, like unto the father who educateth his son, and this for naught but the protection of your own selves and the elevation of your stations. By My life, were ye to discover what We have desired for you in revealing Our holy laws, ye would offer up your very souls for this sacred, this mighty, and most exalted Faith.

So is that exile for the first act of theft and imprisonment for the second? And what would this mark look like? The number 666, perhaps? And if he is not accepted in “the cities of God and His countries” where could he go…..to cities and countries of Satan? What if people are driven to steal because they are starving? Seems to me that compassion should be an issue here.

Whoso wisheth to make use of vessels of silver and gold is at liberty to do so. Take heed lest, when partaking of food, ye plunge your hands into the contents of bowls and platters. Adopt ye such usages as are most in keeping with refinement. He, verily, desireth to see in you the manners of the inmates of Paradise in His mighty and most sublime Kingdom. Hold ye fast unto refinement under all conditions, that your eyes may be preserved from beholding what is repugnant both to your own selves and to the dwellers of Paradise. Should anyone depart therefrom, his deed shall at that moment be rendered vain; yet should he have good reason, God will excuse him. He, in truth, is the Gracious, the Most Bountiful.

Yes, because one should not be allowed to spread germs through food. This is a good law, actually. Even at my Unitarian Universalist church during potlucks, we typically put tongs in bowls that contain finger food items like crackers or potato chips.

He Who is the Dawning-place of God’s Cause hath no partner in the Most Great Infallibility. He it is Who, in the kingdom of creation, is the Manifestation of “He doeth whatsoever He willeth.” God hath reserved this distinction unto His own Self, and ordained for none a share in so sublime and transcendent a station. This is the Decree of God, concealed ere now within the veil of impenetrable mystery. We have disclosed it in this Revelation, and have thereby rent asunder the veils of such as have failed to recognize that which the Book of God set forth and who were numbered with the heedless.

Here again is that damning (no pun intended) issue of infallibility that got me so riled up in the final months of my being a Baha’i. Abdu’l-Baha tried to get around that by claiming he only had “conferred infallibility” from Baha’u’llah. That is bullshit; I might as well claim that I have “conferred perfection” from my own father. But perfection and infallibility are ABSOLUTE attributes or otherwise they are meaningless words. “I AM ALWAYS RIGHT BECAUSE I SAY I AM!” is the mantra of the egomaniac and the narcissist, not a legitimate leader. Even Baha’u’llah only claimed to be infallible because of his unique relationship with God, which, as I showed earlier, he denied anyone else would have for 1000 years after him…..not even his son Abdu’l-Baha.

Unto every father hath been enjoined the instruction of his son and daughter in the art of reading and writing and in all that hath been laid down in the Holy Tablet. He that putteth away that which is commanded unto him, the Trustees are then to take from him that which is required for their instruction if he be wealthy and, if not, the matter devolveth upon the House of Justice. Verily have We made it a shelter for the poor and needy. He that bringeth up his son or the son of another, it is as though he hath brought up a son of Mine; upon him rest My glory, My loving-kindness, My mercy, that have compassed the world.

Here we have a provision for both homeschooling and public schools, but it is clear that homeschooling is preferable. Problem: What if the father knows nothing about science but his son wants to be a scientist? Maybe the son can study science on his own, but he would do better with a professional science teacher. Oh, and there is that mention of the House of Justice. If that law is relevant today, does that mean that all children of poor and neglectful fathers must be sent to Haifa, where the Universal House of Justice is, for their education?

God hath imposed a fine on every adulterer and adulteress, to be paid to the House of Justice: nine mithqáls of gold, to be doubled if they should repeat the offense. Such is the penalty which He Who is the Lord of Names hath assigned them in this world; and in the world to come He hath ordained for them a humiliating torment. Should anyone be afflicted by a sin, it behooveth him to repent thereof and return unto his Lord. He, verily, granteth forgiveness unto whomsoever He willeth, and none may question that which it pleaseth Him to ordain. He is, in truth, the Ever-Forgiving, the Almighty, the All-Praised.

Official Baha’i commmentary on this paragraph says, “A mithqál is a unit of weight. The weight of the traditional mithqál used in the Middle East is equivalent to 24 nakhuds. However, the mithqál used by the Bahá’ís consists of 19 nakhuds, “in accordance with the specification of the Bayán” (Q&A 23). The weight of nine of these mithqál equals 32.775 grams or 1.05374 troy ounces.”  So the offender would pay that amount for having sex with another man’s wife or another woman’s husband, then twice that much if he does it again. I would assume the actual amount would be in the form of money, but that would assume all money follows the gold standard, and not be fiat money like we have with American dollars and many other currencies in the world.

Beware lest ye be hindered by the veils of glory from partaking of the crystal waters of this living Fountain. Seize ye the chalice of salvation at this dawntide in the name of Him Who causeth the day to break, and drink your fill in praise of Him Who is the All-Glorious, the Incomparable.

Another paragraph repeating what was said many times before.

We have made it lawful for you to listen to music and singing. Take heed, however, lest listening thereto should cause you to overstep the bounds of propriety and dignity. Let your joy be the joy born of My Most Great Name, a Name that bringeth rapture to the heart, and filleth with ecstasy the minds of all who have drawn nigh unto God. We, verily, have made music as a ladder for your souls, a means whereby they may be lifted up unto the realm on high; make it not, therefore, as wings to self and passion. Truly, We are loath to see you numbered with the foolish.

Why is music and singing an issue? Because in some versions of Islam, music is not accepted. Cat Stevens, who converted to Islam and took the name Yusuf Islam, actually quit performing the music that first made him famous for many years because he was told that Islam prohibited music. Only when he was persuaded otherwise did he take up music again. Could Cat Stevens have become a Baha’i instead? I wonder what he would have thought of that passage referring to music in the Kitab-i-Aqdas?

Thus ends the third part of my critique of the Kitab-i-Aqdas.

 

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5 thoughts on “A Critical Analysis of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Part Three

  1. Pingback: A Critical Analysis of the The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Part Four | Dale Husband's Intellectual Rants

  2. Pingback: A Critical Analysis of the The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Part Five | Dale Husband's Intellectual Rants

  3. Pingback: A Critical Analysis of the The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Part Six | Dale Husband's Intellectual Rants

  4. Pingback: A Critical Analysis of the The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Part Seven | Dale Husband's Intellectual Rants

  5. Pingback: A Critical Analysis of the The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Part Eight | Dale Husband's Intellectual Rants

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