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. Here are the links to Part One, Part Two, and Part Three. 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:
We have decreed that a third part of all fines shall go to the Seat of Justice, and We admonish its men to observe pure justice, that they may expend what is thus accumulated for such purposes as have been enjoined upon them by Him Who is the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. O ye Men of Justice! Be ye, in the realm of God, shepherds unto His sheep and guard them from the ravening wolves that have appeared in disguise, even as ye would guard your own sons. Thus exhorteth you the Counselor, the Faithful.
One of the most controversial features of the Baha’i Faith is that only men, not women, are allowed to serve on the Universal House of Justice, the supreme governing body of the Faith, even though the Faith also claims to teach the equality of men and women. I already covered the issue of Baha’i sexism and thus hypocrisy here:
Here we see why Abdu’l-Baha and those who followed him insisted on this restriction: Baha’u’llah referred to “Men of Justice”, not “People of Justice”. Indeed, thoughout the Kitab-i-Aqdas one would not get the impression that Baha’u’llah believed in the equality of the sexes at all. So one would wonder why Abdu’l-Baha would make gender equality a principle of the Faith.
Should differences arise amongst you over any matter, refer it to God while the Sun still shineth above the horizon of this Heaven and, when it hath set, refer ye to whatsoever hath been sent down by Him. This, verily, is sufficient unto the peoples of the world. Say: Let not your hearts be perturbed, O people, when the glory of My Presence is withdrawn, and the ocean of My utterance is stilled. In My presence amongst you there is a wisdom, and in My absence there is yet another, inscrutable to all but God, the Incomparable, the All-Knowing. Verily, We behold you from Our realm of glory, and will aid whosoever will arise for the triumph of Our Cause with the hosts of the Concourse on high and a company of Our favored angels.
Let it be noted that differences arose between Abdu’l-Baha and those who he condemned later as “Covenant breakers” after the death of Baha’u’llah, differences arose between Shoghi Effendi and those who he in turn condemned as “Covenant breakers” after the death of Abdu’l-Baha (including most of his own relatives), and differences also arose between the Baha’is after the death of Shoghi Effendi. Putting the matter before God and the revelations that were supposed to be from God did little to end the disputes that raged for years after they started. And if disputes among the Baha’is could not be resolved amicably, how can the rest of the peoples of the world find their differences resolved by Baha’i teachings?
O peoples of the earth! God, the Eternal Truth, is My witness that streams of fresh and soft-flowing waters have gushed from the rocks through the sweetness of the words uttered by your Lord, the Unconstrained; and still ye slumber. Cast away that which ye possess, and, on the wings of detachment, soar beyond all created things. Thus biddeth you the Lord of creation, the movement of Whose Pen hath revolutionized the soul of mankind.
Know ye from what heights your Lord, the All-Glorious, is calling? Think ye that ye have recognized the Pen wherewith your Lord, the Lord of all names, commandeth you? Nay, by My life! Did ye but know it, ye would renounce the world, and would hasten with your whole hearts to the presence of the Well-Beloved. Your spirits would be so transported by His Word as to throw into commotion the Greater World—how much more this small and petty one! Thus have the showers of My bounty been poured down from the heaven of My loving-kindness, as a token of My grace, that ye may be of the thankful.
Once again, we find Baha’u’llah making statements that are so redundant as to be tedious. I guess with such lame standards of writing as this, that might explain the tendency of the Universal House of Justice to be even more empty in its rhetoric in recent times.
The penalties for wounding or striking a person depend upon the severity of the injury; for each degree the Lord of Judgment hath prescribed a certain indemnity. He is, in truth, the Ordainer, the Mighty, the Most Exalted. We shall, if it be Our Will, set forth these payments in their just degrees—this is a promise on Our part, and He, verily, is the Keeper of His pledge, the Knower of all things.
Baha’u’llah himself did not specify the details of punishment for acts of assault and battery, so it is assumed that matter is to be left to the Universal House of Justice, which is expected to legislate on all matters not specified in the writing of the previous Baha’i leaders.
Verily, it is enjoined upon you to offer a feast, once in every month, though only water be served; for God hath purposed to bind hearts together, albeit through both earthly and heavenly means.
This refers to the Nineteen Day Feasts, because Baha’i “months” are said to be 19 days long rather than varying from 28 to 31 like in the Gregorian calendar. In practice, at least in the Baha’i communities I was part of, the feasts are usually held on the weekend closest to the actual start of the Baha’i month. Feasts are divided into three parts, an Administrative portion in which messages from Baha’i institutions like the Universal House of Justice are usually read, a worship portion including reciting of prayers and readings of Baha’i writings and finally a social portion in which actual eating and drinking may be done. Most feasts exclude non-Baha’is; a feast intended to include them is called a “unity feast” and in this the administrative portion is omitted.
I actually found the administrative portion to be almost unbearable at times, because of having to listen to SO MUCH EMPTY RHETORIC from the Baha’i leadership.
Beware lest the desires of the flesh and of a corrupt inclination provoke divisions among you. Be ye as the fingers of one hand, the members of one body. Thus counseleth you the Pen of Revelation, if ye be of them that believe.
Good advice. Too bad many Baha’is did not listen to it. By the way, if you ever hear Baha’is claim that their Faith’s community is fully united and that the “covenant breakers” are so few as to not matter at all, consider that even the majority of the Baha’is led by the Universal House of Justice are little more than a few million people scattered all over the world with almost no influence in their own homelands. What value is there in being united if you can’t do anything useful? Christians are divided into thousands of sects, yet it remains the most popular religion in the world and Christian leaders like the Roman Catholic Pope still have a strong influence that the Universal House of Justice has never had.
Consider the mercy of God and His gifts. He enjoineth upon you that which shall profit you, though He Himself can well dispense with all creatures. Your evil doings can never harm Us, neither can your good works profit Us. We summon you wholly for the sake of God. To this every man of understanding and insight will testify.
Religion is for the sake of man, not for the sake of God. And God is not affected by us. Why not make religion all about man and toss any references to theism in the garbage can of history? That would end a lot of silly arguments about religion.
If ye should hunt with beasts or birds of prey, invoke ye the Name of God when ye send them to pursue their quarry; for then whatever they catch shall be lawful unto you, even should ye find it to have died. He, verily, is the Omniscient, the All-Informed. Take heed, however, that ye hunt not to excess. Tread ye the path of justice and equity in all things. Thus biddeth you He Who is the Dawning-place of Revelation, would that ye might comprehend.
God is the Creator of all life and thus should be remembered when hunting life. I’m sure Ted Nugent would love a passage like that. Question: Should there be a penalty for someone sending a dog or falcon to catch prey without a moment to…..pray?
God hath bidden you to show forth kindliness towards My kindred, but He hath granted them no right to the property of others. He, verily, is self-sufficient, above any need of His creatures.
But it is perfectly fine for the Universal House of Justice to get a large portion of the value of a dead person’s estate, isn’t it? At least Baha’u’llah denies that nepotism is a thing to accept….unless you are Abdu’l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi, of course. Exceptions to rules abound in this Faith.
Should anyone intentionally destroy a house by fire, him also shall ye burn; should anyone deliberately take another’s life, him also shall ye put to death. Take ye hold of the precepts of God with all your strength and power, and abandon the ways of the ignorant. Should ye condemn the arsonist and the murderer to life imprisonment, it would be permissible according to the provisions of the Book. He, verily, hath power to ordain whatsoever He pleaseth.
Burning someone at the stake was a common punishment used in the Middle Ages of Europe, so Baha’u’llah recommending that in the 19th Century for the peoples of the world seems like a HUGE backward step. By making such a punishment for arson, he involves the principle of poetic justice. Likewise with executing someone in an unspecified manner for murder. But then Baha’u’llah offers life imprisonment as an alternative punishment. Maybe for murder, but for ARSON? Burning a house down is not nearly as troublesome as taking a life because it is easy to replace a house; that is what homeowner’s insurance is for. You cannot replace a life; once a person is dead, he is gone and cannot be returned to life.
God hath prescribed matrimony unto you. Beware that ye take not unto yourselves more wives than two. Whoso contenteth himself with a single partner from among the maidservants of God, both he and she shall live in tranquillity. And he who would take into his service a maid may do so with propriety. Such is the ordinance which, in truth and justice, hath been recorded by the Pen of Revelation. Enter into wedlock, O people, that ye may bring forth one who will make mention of Me amid My servants. This is My bidding unto you; hold fast to it as an assistance to yourselves.
Baha’u’llah himself had three wives because in Islam, the religion he was raised in, he was permitted to have up to four and as a member of Persian nobility he would have been expected to be polygamous. Baha’u’llah restricted Baha’is in the future to have no more than two wives (I can certainly see such a thing happening in the case of a man marrying two sisters, for example), but Abdu’l-Baha acting as the official interpreter of his father’s writings claimed that only monogamy was actually permitted at all. That’s not interpreting, that is CONTRADICTING! Then Baha’u’llah should have said, “Beware that ye never take unto yourselves more than one wife.” He actually ALLOWED bigamy, though he also did not encourage it. Here we see Abdu’l-Baha asserting himself in a way to have more authority than his own father, the founder of the Baha’i Faith itself!
O people of the world! Follow not the promptings of the self, for it summoneth insistently to wickedness and lust; follow, rather, Him Who is the Possessor of all created things, Who biddeth you to show forth piety, and manifest the fear of God. He, verily, is independent of all His creatures. Take heed not to stir up mischief in the land after it hath been set in order. Whoso acteth in this way is not of Us, and We are quit of him. Such is the command which hath, through the power of truth, been made manifest from the heaven of Revelation.
It is a safe bet that Baha’u’llah would not have been a fan of Ayn Rand who was not only an atheist but championed selfishness as a way of living. For that, I’d send her to hell myself if I were God.
It hath been laid down in the Bayán that marriage is dependent upon the consent of both parties. Desiring to establish love, unity and harmony amidst Our servants, We have conditioned it, once the couple’s wish is known, upon the permission of their parents, lest enmity and rancor should arise amongst them. And in this We have yet other purposes. Thus hath Our commandment been ordained.
The Bayan was the book of laws written by the Bab, the founder of the Babi Faith who was said to be the forerunner of Baha’u’llah, just as John the Baptist was the forerunner of Jesus. But why would the Bab bother to reveal a book of laws for a religion only intended to last a few years, rather than merely order his followers, the Babi’s to obey the laws of the Quran? Because of the Islamic dogma that Muhammad was the “Seal of the Prophets” which Baha’is interpret to mean that while lesser prophets like Elijah would not arise in the future, Messengers like Muhammad and Baha’u’llah would still come to establish new religions in the name of God. Thus the Bab had to be a Messenger of God in his own right, not a lesser prophet. Baha’is often refer to the Bab and Baha’u’llah as the “Twin Manifestations” (the term “Manifestation of God” being synonymous with Messenger).
As for marriage, it is strange to me that any religion would have to specify that marriage should be on condition of consent of both the groom and the bride involved; I cannot think of anything more perverted and unjust that FORCING a person to be married to someone he or she does not want! For all practical purposes, that is legalized and ritualized SEXUAL ASSAULT! All around the world, forced marriage at any age, of either gender, and for any reason should be ILLEGAL, period!
Another problem is the requirement that parental consent is required for marriage. This would make sense if we were talking about children being married, but adults too? What if the couple in question is interracial and the bride’s father is a racist? That means he could stop the marriage by refusing to give his consent, negating the Baha’i principle of the oneness of mankind. Adults should have control over their own lives, including who they wish to love and marry. Parents need to be willing to let go of their adult offspring and respect their choices. In both cases, the parties are being more mature.
No marriage may be contracted without payment of a dowry, which hath been fixed for city dwellers at nineteen mithqáls of pure gold, and for village dwellers at the same amount in silver. Whoso wisheth to increase this sum, it is forbidden him to exceed the limit of ninety-five mithqáls. Thus hath the command been writ in majesty and power. If he content himself, however, with a payment of the lowest level, it shall be better for him according to the Book. God, verily, enricheth whomsoever He willeth through both heavenly and earthly means and He, in truth, hath power over all things.
In ancient times, marriages were often more social contracts between families than romantic links between individuals. The payment of a dowry was usually made by one richer family towards a poorer one as a means of getting the other family to give up its membership of its son or daughter to the family making the payment. In highly sexist communities, young daughters were often merely sold by their fathers to wealthy men. Apparently realizing how offensive this idea of a dowry would be to people not of Muslim background and not in the Middle East, Baha’i commentators have attempted to whitewash this embarrassing passage, saying “The law of Bahá’u’lláh … converts the dowry into a symbolic act whereby the bridegroom presents a gift of a certain limited value to the bride.” Yeah, whatever.
It hath been decreed by God that, should any one of His servants intend to travel, he must fix for his wife a time when he will return home. If he return by the promised time, he will have obeyed the bidding of his Lord and shall be numbered by the Pen of His behest among the righteous; otherwise, if there be good reason for delay, he must inform his wife and make the utmost endeavor to return to her. Should neither of these eventualities occur, it behooveth her to wait for a period of nine months, after which there is no impediment to her taking another husband; but should she wait longer, God, verily, loveth those women and men who show forth patience. Obey ye My commandments, and follow not the ungodly, they who have been reckoned as sinners in God’s Holy Tablet. If, during the period of her waiting, word should reach her from her husband, she should choose the course that is praiseworthy. He, of a truth, desireth that His servants and His handmaids should be at peace with one another; take heed lest ye do aught that may provoke intransigence amongst you. Thus hath the decree been fixed and the promise come to pass. If, however, news should reach her of her husband’s death or murder, and be confirmed by general report, or by the testimony of two just witnesses, it behooveth her to remain single; then, upon completion of the fixed number of months, she is free to adopt the course of her choosing. Such is the bidding of Him Who is mighty and powerful in His command.
Why nine months? Perhaps because that is the length of a woman’s pregnancy and it would be highly frowned upon for a woman still pregnant with a recently lost husband’s baby to be dating another man. Note also the implied sexism here; there is no provision for a woman while traveling to keep her husband informed of her time of returning or for him to wait nine months for her to return before he remarries. Only MEN are assumed to travel for any reason, women are expected to STAY HOME!
Should resentment or antipathy arise between husband and wife, he is not to divorce her but to bide in patience throughout the course of one whole year, that perchance the fragrance of affection may be renewed between them. If, upon the completion of this period, their love hath not returned, it is permissible for divorce to take place. God’s wisdom, verily, hath encompassed all things. The Lord hath prohibited, in a Tablet inscribed by the Pen of His command, the practice to which ye formerly had recourse when thrice ye had divorced a woman. This He hath done as a favor on His part, that ye may be accounted among the thankful. He who hath divorced his wife may choose, upon the passing of each month, to remarry her when there is mutual affection and consent, so long as she hath not taken another husband. Should she have wed again, then, by this other union, the separation is confirmed and the matter is concluded unless, clearly, her circumstances change. Thus hath the decree been inscribed with majesty in this glorious Tablet by Him Who is the Dawning-place of Beauty.
Islam allows a man to divorce his wife by stating to her on three different occasions, “I divorce you!” The “year of patience” referred to is most likely to allow the woman time to give birth to any child she may have conceived from the husband in question and then make arrangements for that child to be either given to the husband, given up for adoption or otherwise dealt with before the divorce is made final. Even in the State of Texas, a divorce is not allowed if the wife is still pregnant, as I discovered in 2012 when I was going through my own divorce. I was not a Baha’i by then, thankfully. When I made the decision to leave Cheri in December of 2011, I was so fed up with her unfaithfulness, immaturity, and abuse of my love that I could not get her out of my life fast enough and a whole year of waiting for a divorce would have been truly insufferable after five years of a very dysfunctional marriage!
Refer to this blog entry for a story of how a Baha’i divorce went down:
If the wife accompany her husband on a journey, and differences arise between them on the way, he is required to provide her with her expenses for one whole year, and either to return her whence she came or to entrust her, together with the necessaries for her journey, to a dependable person who is to escort her home. Thy Lord, verily, ordaineth as He pleaseth, by virtue of a sovereignty that overshadoweth the peoples of the earth.
I wonder when such a thing could occur. In these days of rapid travel by jet plane, that seems pointless. Maybe in the distant future if they are traveling via spaceship between planets or even star systems?
Should a woman be divorced in consequence of a proven act of infidelity, she shall receive no maintenance during her period of waiting. Thus hath the daystar of Our commandment shone forth resplendent from the firmament of justice. Truly, the Lord loveth union and harmony and abhorreth separation and divorce. Live ye one with another, O people, in radiance and joy. By My life! All that are on earth shall pass away, while good deeds alone shall endure; to the truth of My words God doth Himself bear witness. Compose your differences, O My servants; then heed ye the admonition of Our Pen of Glory and follow not the arrogant and wayward.
When I discovered Cheri cheating on me, it was through her Facebook account which she was neglectful enough to leave open on her computer for me to find later. I then made screenshots of the evidence and e-mailed them to myself in anticipation of using them against her in court. Later, both she and her mother demanded I give them money they claimed I owed the soon to be ex-mother in law. Needless to say, I angrily refused and the mother-in-law threatened to sue me over it, but that never happened. I got the divorce I wanted a few months later. This is another example of a good law, but note that it also assumes that men would be the financial supporters of women rather than women working to support themselves. whether married or not. In the 21st Century, that really needs to be addressed by Baha’is.
Take heed lest the world beguile you as it beguiled the people who went before you! Observe ye the statutes and precepts of your Lord, and walk ye in this Way which hath been laid out before you in righteousness and truth. They who eschew iniquity and error, who adhere to virtue, are, in the sight of the one true God, among the choicest of His creatures; their names are extolled by the Concourse of the realms above, and by those who dwell in this Tabernacle which hath been raised in the name of God.
It is forbidden you to trade in slaves, be they men or women. It is not for him who is himself a servant to buy another of God’s servants, and this hath been prohibited in His Holy Tablet. Thus, by His mercy, hath the commandment been recorded by the Pen of justice. Let no man exalt himself above another; all are but bondslaves before the Lord, and all exemplify the truth that there is none other God but Him. He, verily, is the All-Wise, Whose wisdom encompasseth all things.
Incredibly, the Baha’i Faith was the first Abrahamic religion to explicitly ban slavery; all the previous ones accepted it. Including Christianity, the dominant religion of the United States where slavery was an institution in the southern states until four years of civil war finally ended it. Also, note the clear statement that all men must regard each other as equals….no room for racism here!
Adorn yourselves with the raiment of goodly deeds. He whose deeds attain unto God’s good pleasure is assuredly of the people of Bahá and is remembered before His throne. Assist ye the Lord of all creation with works of righteousness, and also through wisdom and utterance. Thus, indeed, have ye been commanded in most of the Tablets by Him Who is the All-Merciful. He, truly, is cognizant of what I say. Let none contend with another, and let no soul slay another; this, verily, is that which was forbidden you in a Book that hath lain concealed within the Tabernacle of glory. What! Would ye kill him whom God hath quickened, whom He hath endowed with spirit through a breath from Him? Grievous then would be your trespass before His throne! Fear God, and lift not the hand of injustice and oppression to destroy what He hath Himself raised up; nay, walk ye in the way what He hath Himself raised up; nay, walk ye in the way of God, the True One. No sooner did the hosts of true knowledge appear, bearing the standards of Divine utterance, than the tribes of the religions were put to flight, save only those who willed to drink from the stream of everlasting life in a Paradise created by the breath of the All-Glorious.
Baha’u’llah, you are about to get an F in essay composition if you don’t stop with the lame, empty passages! Consider this your final warning from Professor Dale Husband!
God hath decreed, in token of His mercy unto His creatures, that semen is not unclean. Yield thanks unto Him with joy and radiance, and follow not such as are remote from the Dawning-place of His nearness. Arise ye, under all conditions, to render service to the Cause, for God will assuredly assist you through the power of His sovereignty which overshadoweth the worlds. Cleave ye unto the cord of refinement with such tenacity as to allow no trace of dirt to be seen upon your garments. Such is the injunction of One Who is sanctified above all refinement. Whoso falleth short of this standard with good reason shall incur no blame. God, verily, is the Forgiving, the Merciful. Wash ye every soiled thing with water that hath undergone no alteration in any one of the three respects; take heed not to use water that hath been altered through exposure to the air or to some other agent. Be ye the very essence of cleanliness amongst mankind. This, truly, is what your Lord, the Incomparable, the All-Wise, desireth for you.
Meanwhile, menstrual blood is still consider a defilement, as was indicated much earlier in the book we are reviewing. Sexism so obvious as to be a wonder why any woman would want to be a Baha’i. As for washing something in pure water, that would be obvious, would it not?
God hath, likewise, as a bounty from His presence, abolished the concept of “uncleanness,” whereby divers things and peoples have been held to be impure. He, of a certainty, is the Ever-Forgiving, the Most Generous. Verily, all created things were immersed in the sea of purification when, on that first day of Riḍván, We shed upon the whole of creation the splendors of Our most excellent Names and Our most exalted Attributes. This, verily, is a token of My loving providence, which hath encompassed all the worlds. Consort ye then with the followers of all religions, and proclaim ye the Cause of your Lord, the Most Compassionate; this is the very crown of deeds, if ye be of them who understand.
All religions, really? Ironically, while Baha’is are indeed encouraged to befriend members of other faiths, they are also required to shun fellow Baha’is who have been declared “covenant breakers”. That’s like wanting to be friends with someone who is not a relative, but slamming the door in the face of your own child or parent for a simple disagreement. Damn that nonsense!
God hath enjoined upon you to observe the utmost cleanliness, to the extent of washing what is soiled with dust, let alone with hardened dirt and similar defilement. Fear Him, and be of those who are pure. Should the garb of anyone be visibly sullied, his prayers shall not ascend to God, and the celestial Concourse will turn away from him. Make use of rose water, and of pure perfume; this, indeed, is that which God hath loved from the beginning that hath no beginning, in order that there may be diffused from you what your Lord, the Incomparable, the All-Wise, desireth.
Would it be just for a man who was just badly injured and has blood on his clothing from the injury to be ignored by God if he prays in desperation for God to save him?
God hath relieved you of the ordinance laid down in the Bayán concerning the destruction of books. We have permitted you to read such sciences as are profitable unto you, not such as end in idle disputation; better is this for you, if ye be of them that comprehend.
Official commentary on this reads: “With regard to the destruction of books, the Bayán commanded the Báb’s followers to destroy all books except those that were written in vindication of the Cause and Religion of God. Bahá’u’lláh abrogates this specific law of the Bayán.”
And with good reason! The very idea of a religion calling for the destruction of books like the Harry Potter novels or Carl Sagan’s COSMOS would be most despicable. I myself would campaign relentlessly for such a religion to be opposed and debunked by all means non-violent. It seems the Bab was a maniac and a tyrant! No one should have followed him!
O kings of the earth! He Who is the sovereign Lord of all is come. The Kingdom is God’s, the omnipotent Protector, the Self-Subsisting. Worship none but God, and, with radiant hearts, lift up your faces unto your Lord, the Lord of all names. This is a Revelation to which whatever ye possess can never be compared, could ye but know it.
We see you rejoicing in that which ye have amassed for others and shutting out yourselves from the worlds which naught except My guarded Tablet can reckon. The treasures ye have laid up have drawn you far away from your ultimate objective. This ill beseemeth you, could ye but understand it. Wash from your hearts all earthly defilements, and hasten to enter the Kingdom of your Lord, the Creator of earth and heaven, Who caused the world to tremble and all its peoples to wail, except them that have renounced all things and clung to that which the Hidden Tablet hath ordained.
This is the Day in which He Who held converse with God hath attained the light of the Ancient of Days, and quaffed the pure waters of reunion from this Cup that hath caused the seas to swell. Say: By the one true God! Sinai is circling round the Dayspring of Revelation, while from the heights of the Kingdom the Voice of the Spirit of God is heard proclaiming: “Bestir yourselves, ye proud ones of the earth, and hasten ye unto Him.” Carmel hath, in this Day, hastened in longing adoration to attain His court, whilst from the heart of Zion there cometh the cry: “The promise is fulfilled. That which had been announced in the holy Writ of God, the Most Exalted, the Almighty, the Best-Beloved, is made manifest.”
And with THAT, Baha’u’llah finally gets that F grade I warned him about! I am actually starting to get SICK of reviewing this book and I am only halfway through it!
And thus ends part four of my critique of the Kitab-i-Aqdas.