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

Once again, I dig into the Most Holy Book of Baha’u’llah looking for precious metals but what I tend to find instead are tons of pyrite. Despite my frustration, I continue because I hate to leave a job unfinished.

Here are the links to Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four,  and Part Five of my critique. And as always, 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

Whoso interpreteth what hath been sent down from the heaven of Revelation, and altereth its evident meaning, he, verily, is of them that have perverted the Sublime Word of God, and is of the lost ones in the Lucid Book.

As a Baha’i, I was taught by my fellow believers that the only two people authorized to interpret Baha’i scriptures were Abdu’l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi, and that their interpretations could always be trusted because they were infallible. Once the issue of their infallibility was debunked, I could look at their interpretations in a new light. I already showed one case in which Abdu’l-Baha himself altered the evident meaning of one of Baha’u’llah’s commandments; the father permitted bigamy but preferred monogamy, while the son absolutely prohibited bigamy. If you think that is not a contradiction, please consult a dictionary; you probably have never seen one before. But seriously, Baha’is should just stop lying about the obvious!

It hath been enjoined upon you to pare your nails, to bathe yourselves each week in water that covereth your bodies, and to clean yourselves with whatsoever ye have formerly employed. Take heed lest through negligence ye fail to observe that which hath been prescribed unto you by Him Who is the Incomparable, the Gracious. Immerse yourselves in clean water; it is not permissible to bathe yourselves in water that hath already been used. See that ye approach not the public pools of Persian baths; whoso maketh his way toward such baths will smell their fetid odor ere he entereth therein. Shun them, O people, and be not of those who ignominiously accept such vileness. In truth, they are as sinks of foulness and contamination, if ye be of them that apprehend. Avoid ye likewise the malodorous pools in the courtyards of Persian homes, and be ye of the pure and sanctified. Truly, We desire to behold you as manifestations of paradise on earth, that there may be diffused from you such fragrance as shall rejoice the hearts of the favored of God. If the bather, instead of entering the water, wash himself by pouring it upon his body, it shall be better for him and shall absolve him of the need for bodily immersion. The Lord, verily, hath willed, as a bounty from His presence, to make life easier for you that ye may be of those who are truly thankful.

Of course, cleanliness is a virtue in any religion, but there is a problem here. Persia, and most of the Middle East where Islam is dominant and the Baha’i Faith began, is mostly desert and fresh water would be scarce in those areas. Persian public baths were probably an attempt to conserve water and allow people to still have some measure of cleanliness. Baha’u’llah’s demanding that people take individual baths or showers on a regular basis would be folly in a desert nation. The people there would be lucky to have enough drinking water, really.

It is forbidden you to wed your fathers’ wives. We shrink, for very shame, from treating of the subject of boys. Fear ye the Merciful, O peoples of the world! Commit not that which is forbidden you in Our Holy Tablet, and be not of those who rove distractedly in the wilderness of their desires.

This is the only mention in the entire Kitab-i-Aqdas of incest. Official commentary on this passage says, “‘Abdu’l‑Bahá and Shoghi Effendi confirmed that, while stepmothers are the only category of relatives mentioned in the text, this does not mean that all other unions within a family are permissible.”   That is what damage control looks like.

The reference to boys seems to refer to older men using underaged boys as sexual partners, a practice known as pederasty. But Shoghi Effendi would later claim this was also a prohibition against ALL homosexual activity. One of the worst slanders and libels thrown at the gay community was that they sought to recruit young boys and turn them gay. The absurd equating of pederasty with homosexuality in general is what can get gays MURDERED. I do not blame Baha’u’llah for this, however, since I myself find child molestation of either gender by adults of either gender to be abhorrent.

To none is it permitted to mutter sacred verses before the public gaze as he walketh in the street or marketplace; nay rather, if he wish to magnify the Lord, it behooveth him to do so in such places as have been erected for this purpose, or in his own home. This is more in keeping with sincerity and godliness. Thus hath the sun of Our commandment shone forth above the horizon of Our utterance. Blessed, then, be those who do Our bidding.

This is another echo of what Jesus said, when he condemned prayers done in public and recommended they only be done privately.

Unto everyone hath been enjoined the writing of a will. The testator should head this document with the adornment of the Most Great Name, bear witness therein unto the oneness of God in the Dayspring of His Revelation, and make mention, as he may wish, of that which is praiseworthy, so that it may be a testimony for him in the kingdoms of Revelation and Creation and a treasure with his Lord, the Supreme Protector, the Faithful.

Baha’u’llah himself left a will, as did Abdu’l-Baha. In both documents, provisions were given for the future leadership of the Baha’i Faith. But Shoghi Effendi violated this law and his failure to leave a will and appoint his successor was a shock and disappointment to the Baha’is around the world. Of course, one wonders why Baha’u’llah spent so much ink and paper earlier in the book giving guidelines to how property could be distributed to relatives after someone dies without a will. I guess he wanted to leave nothing to chance.

All Feasts have attained their consummation in the two Most Great Festivals, and in the two other Festivals that fall on the twin days—the first of the Most Great Festivals being those days whereon the All-Merciful shed upon the whole of creation the effulgent glory of His most excellent Names and His most exalted Attributes, and the second being that day on which We raised up the One Who announced unto mankind the glad tidings of this Name, through which the dead have been resurrected and all who are in the heavens and on earth have been gathered together. Thus hath it been decreed by Him Who is the Ordainer, the Omniscient.

Happy the one who entereth upon the first day of the month of Bahá, the day which God hath consecrated to this Great Name. And blessed be he who evidenceth on this day the bounties that God hath bestowed upon him; he, verily, is of those who show forth thanks to God through actions betokening the Lord’s munificence which hath encompassed all the worlds. Say: This day, verily, is the crown of all the months and the source thereof, the day on which the breath of life is wafted over all created things. Great is the blessedness of him who greeteth it with radiance and joy. We testify that he is, in truth, among those who are blissful.

Say: The Most Great Festival is, indeed, the King of Festivals. Call ye to mind, O people, the bounty which God hath conferred upon you. Ye were sunk in slumber, and lo! He aroused you by the reviving breezes of His Revelation, and made known unto you His manifest and Revelation, and made known unto you His manifest and undeviating Path.

This gives some details about some of the holy days celebrated in the Baha’i calendar. The “twin days” refer to the Birthdays of the Bab (October 21) and of Baha’u’llah (October 22), while the two Most Great Festivals refer to the days in which Baha’is celebrate the public declaration of Baha’u’llah’s station as the new Manifestation of God (the First, Ninth, and Twelth Days of Ridvan, April 20 or 21, April 28 or 29, and May 1 or 2) and the  day of the Declaration of the Bab (May 23 or 24). Naw-Rúz (the first day of the month of Bahá) is the Baha’i New Year (actually celebrated by many non-Baha’is across the Middle East as well, it falls on March 20 or 21).

Resort ye, in times of sickness, to competent physicians; We have not set aside the use of material means, rather have We confirmed it through this Pen, which God hath made to be the Dawning-place of His shining and glorious Cause.

One of the worst things religious parents can do to a child suffering from a deadly illness is pray for his recovery by God’s power instead of having him treated by a doctor. Personally, I think such parents should be imprisoned for the rest of their lives and banned from having another child in their care. It is sad that Baha’u’llah, or any other religious leader, would actually have to tell people to see doctors. The distinction between reasonable faith and outright stupidity in religion should be obvious, but often is not due to brainwashing by extremist cults.

God had formerly laid upon each one of the believers the duty of offering before Our throne priceless gifts from among his possessions. Now, in token of Our gracious favor, We have absolved them of this obligation. He, of a truth, is the Most Generous, the All-Bountiful.

 Here Baha’u’llah tosses out another insane commandment of the Bab. Official Baha’i commentary says,  “The Báb explained that, since the Manifestation of God is beyond compare, whatever is peerless in its kind should rightfully be reserved for Him, unless He decrees otherwise.” In short, the Bab was EXTREMELY GREEDY! Yet Baha’is still revere this lunatic?!

Blessed is he who, at the hour of dawn, centering his thoughts on God, occupied with His remembrance, and supplicating His forgiveness, directeth his steps to the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár and, entering therein, seateth himself in silence to listen to the verses of God, the Sovereign, the Mighty, the All-Praised. Say: The Mashriqu’l-Adhkár is each and every building which hath been erected in cities and villages for the celebration of My praise. Such is the name by which it hath been designated before the throne of glory, were ye of those who understand.

Curiously, this is a practice I was never expected to follow as a Baha’i.

They who recite the verses of the All-Merciful in the most melodious of tones will perceive in them that with which the sovereignty of earth and heaven can never be compared. From them they will inhale the divine fragrance of My worlds—worlds which today none can discern save those who have been endowed with vision through this sublime, this beauteous Revelation. Say: These verses draw hearts that are pure unto those spiritual worlds that can neither be expressed in words nor intimated by allusion. Blessed be those who hearken.

It is indeed common for Baha’is of Persian background to sing or chant Baha’i prayers or quotes from the writings of Baha’u’llah and I always enjoyed hearing the chanting even if I could not understand the words, since they were sung in Persian or Arabic.

Assist ye, O My people, My chosen servants who have arisen to make mention of Me among My creatures and to exalt My Word throughout My realm. These, truly, are the stars of the heaven of My loving providence and the lamps of My guidance unto all mankind. But he whose words conflict with that which hath been sent down in My Holy Tablets is not of Me. Beware lest ye follow any impious pretender. These Tablets are embellished with the seal of Him Who causeth the dawn to appear, Who lifteth up His voice between the heavens and the earth. Lay hold on this Sure Handle and on the Cord of My mighty and unassailable Cause.

If you follow Baha’u’llah, you can never obey anyone who contradicts what he revealed. Not even someone who claims to be a Baha’i himself. Remember once more that reference I made regarding what Baha’u’llah commanded or permitted regarding marriage and how Abdu’l-Baha contradicted it.

The Lord hath granted leave to whosoever desireth it that he be instructed in the divers tongues of the world that he may deliver the Message of the Cause of God throughout the East and throughout the West, that he make mention of Him amidst the kindreds and peoples of the world in such wise that hearts may revive and the moldering bone be quickened.

Baha’u’llah himself was not known to speak any other languages than Persian or Arabic. Later, Shoghi Effendi studied hard in his teens and early college years to master English and proceeded after he became Guardian of the Baha’i Faith to translate much of Baha’u’llah’s writings into English to help spread the Baha’i Faith in English speaking countries……but not the Kitab-i-Aqdas. A fully authorized translation of that book in English would not be published until 1992…..ONE HUNDRED YEARS after Baha’u’llah died! Considering how important this book was supposed to be, I would have thought the Guardian would have had this done as soon as possible.

It is inadmissible that man, who hath been endowed with reason, should consume that which stealeth it away. Nay, rather it behooveth him to comport himself in a manner worthy of the human station, and not in accordance with the misdeeds of every heedless and wavering soul.

Here, Baha’u’llah condemned alcoholic consumption as well as drug abuse or anything else that would dull the intellect of a man…..which religion itself often does, sadly.

Adorn your heads with the garlands of trustworthiness and fidelity, your hearts with the attire of the fear of God, your tongues with absolute truthfulness, your bodies with the vesture of courtesy. These are in truth seemly adornings unto the temple of man, if ye be of them that reflect. Cling, O ye people of Bahá, to the cord of servitude unto God, the True One, for thereby your stations shall be made manifest, your names written and preserved, your ranks raised and your memory exalted in the Preserved Tablet. Beware lest the dwellers on earth hinder you from this glorious and exalted station. Thus have We exhorted you in most of Our Epistles and now in this, Our Holy Tablet, above which hath beamed the Daystar of the Laws of the Lord, your God, the Powerful, the All-Wise.

((((No comment.))))

When the ocean of My presence hath ebbed and the Book of My Revelation is ended, turn your faces towards Him Whom God hath purposed, Who hath branched from this Ancient Root.

This indicates that one of Baha’u’llah’s sons will be his successor as head of the Baha’i Faith. In the Book of the Covenant or Kitáb-i-`Ahd (the will and testament of Baha’u’llah), he quoted directly from that paragraph above and specified that “The object of this sacred verse is none other except the Most Mighty Branch.” Thus Abdu’l-Baha, who was known by that title, was confirmed as Baha’u’llah’s rightful successor.

Consider the pettiness of men’s minds. They ask for that which injureth them, and cast away the thing that profiteth them. They are, indeed, of those that are far astray. We find some men desiring liberty, and priding themselves therein. Such men are in the depths of ignorance.

Liberty must, in the end, lead to sedition, whose flames none can quench. Thus warneth you He Who is the Reckoner, the All-Knowing. Know ye that the embodiment of liberty and its symbol is the animal. That which beseemeth man is submission unto such restraints as will protect him from his own ignorance, and guard him against the harm of the mischief maker. Liberty causeth man to overstep the bounds of propriety, and to infringe on the dignity of his station. It debaseth him to the level of extreme depravity and wickedness.

Nice bashing of one of the most basic political ideals of the United States, Baha’u’llah! Gee, I wonder if that explains why it took so damn long for an English translation of the Kitab-i-Aqdas to be published. Had it been published decades earlier, it might have been much harder for a strong American Baha’i community to be established. Also, I wonder if Baha’is would replace the current womanly Statue of Liberty with a one of a bull, a dog, or some other animal.

Since individual autonomy is the very foundation of human rights ideals around the world, we see here how dimly Baha’u’llah viewed human nature. He really was no more enlightened than most fundamentalist bigots, then or now!

Regard men as a flock of sheep that need a shepherd for their protection. This, verily, is the truth, the certain truth. We approve of liberty in certain circumstances, and refuse to sanction it in others. We, verily, are the All-Knowing.

Say: True liberty consisteth in man’s submission unto My commandments, little as ye know it. Were men to observe that which We have sent down unto them from the Heaven of Revelation, they would, of a certainty, attain unto perfect liberty. Happy is the man that hath apprehended the Purpose of God in whatever He hath revealed from the Heaven of His Will that pervadeth all created things. Say: The liberty that profiteth you is to be found nowhere except in complete servitude unto God, the Eternal Truth. Whoso hath tasted of its sweetness will refuse to barter it for all the dominion of earth and heaven.

Baha’u’llah is using “doublespeak”, the insidious form of language manipulation referred to in George Orwell’s novel 1984. “War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength”. As if I did not already have enough reason to reject and scorn Baha’u’llah as a so-called Messenger of God!

Here’s another example of this nonsense in the Baha’i Faith:

Equality of the sexes? Not in the Baha’i Faith!

In the Bayán it had been forbidden you to ask Us questions. The Lord hath now relieved you of this prohibition, that ye may be free to ask what you need to ask, but not such idle questions as those on which the men of former times were wont to dwell. Fear God, and be ye of the righteous! Ask ye that which shall be of profit to you in the Cause of God and His dominion, for the portals of His tender compassion have been opened before all who dwell in heaven and on earth.

I would assume Baha’u’llah would expect believers to ask him for details on how to conduct themselves during Baha’i rituals like Obligatory Prayers or celebration of Baha’i Holy Days, and not questions about what God and his angels are like.

The number of months in a year, appointed in the Book of God, is nineteen. Of these the first hath been adorned with this Name which overshadoweth the whole of creation.

This gives another detail about the Baha’i calendar; lunar months are rejected and replaced with 19 day “months” that total 19 through the calendar, for a total of 361 days. The extra four or five days do not belong to any month and go before the month of fasting.

The Lord hath decreed that the dead should be interred in coffins made of crystal, of hard, resistant stone, or of wood that is both fine and durable, and that graven rings should be placed upon their fingers. He, verily, is the Supreme Ordainer, the One apprised of all.

Here Baha’u’llah prohibits by implication cremation since the whole purpose of using such durable coffins would be to keep a dead body intact as much as possible. What a waste of resources!

The inscription on these rings should read, for men: “Unto God belongeth all that is in the heavens and on the earth and whatsoever is between them, and He, in truth, hath knowledge of all things”; and for women: “Unto God belongeth the dominion of the heavens and the earth and whatsoever is between them, and He, in truth, is potent over all things.” These are the verses that were revealed aforetime, but lo, the Point of the Bayán now calleth out, exclaiming, “O Best-Beloved of the worlds! Reveal Thou in their stead such words as will waft the fragrance of Thy gracious favors over all mankind. We have announced unto everyone that one single word from Thee excelleth all that hath been sent down in the Bayán. Thou, indeed, hast power to do what pleaseth Thee. Deprive not Thy servants of the overflowing bounties of the ocean of Thy mercy! Thou, in truth, art He Whose grace is infinite.” Behold, We have hearkened to His call, and now fulfill His wish. He, verily, is the Best-Beloved, the Answerer of prayers. If the following verse, which hath at this moment been sent down by God, be engraved upon the burial rings of both men and women, it shall be better for them; We, of a certainty, are the Supreme Ordainer: “I came forth from God, and return unto Him, detached from all save Him, holding fast to His Name, the Merciful, the Compassionate.” Thus doth the Lord single out whomsoever He desireth for a bounty from His presence. He is, in very truth, the God of might and power.

So Baha’u’llah is revealing these verses when suddenly the spirit of the Bab interrupts him and insists that something in Baha’u’llah’s burial laws be changed immediately to make them more fair to both men and women. Either that or Baha’ullah did not think to simply tear up the paper he was writing on and start over again with the improved verse. I already gave him an F in essay composition, now I am about to expel him from my class completely!

The Lord hath decreed, moreover, that the deceased should be enfolded in five sheets of silk or cotton. For those whose means are limited a single sheet of either fabric will suffice. Thus hath it been ordained by Him Who is the All-Knowing, the All-Informed. It is forbidden you to transport the body of the deceased a greater distance than one hour’s journey from the city; rather should it be interred, with radiance and serenity, in a nearby place.

When Shoghi Effendi died in 1957, he was on a visit to London and according to Baha’i law, he had to be buried in or near that city. Any other religious community would have taken his body back to where he spent most of his time, the headquarters of that religion. I simply do not believe God would insist on such silly limitations.

God hath removed the restrictions on travel that had been imposed in the Bayán. He, verily, is the Unconstrained; He doeth as He pleaseth and ordaineth whatsoever He willeth.

Question: Why would God reject moving a dead body from one part of the world to another, while allowing the living to travel everywhere?

O peoples of the world! Give ear unto the call of Him Who is the Lord of Names, Who proclaimeth unto you from His habitation in the Most Great Prison: “Verily, no God is there but Me, the Powerful, the Mighty, the All-Subduing, the Most Exalted, the Omniscient, the All-Wise.” In truth, there is no God but Him, the Omnipotent Ruler of the worlds. Were it His Will, He would, through but a single word proceeding from His presence, lay hold on all mankind. Beware lest ye hesitate in your acceptance of this Cause—a Cause before which the Concourse on high and the dwellers of the Cities of Names have bowed down. Fear God, and be not of those who are shut out as by a veil. Burn ye away the veils with the fire of My love, and dispel ye the mists of vain imaginings by the power of this Name through which We have subdued the entire creation.

((((Again, no comment.))))

Raise up and exalt the two Houses in the Twin Hallowed Spots, and the other sites wherein the throne of your Lord, the All-Merciful, hath been established. Thus commandeth you the Lord of every understanding heart.

This refers to houses that the Bab and Baha’u’llah used to live in. This is one of those commandments that CANNOT be obeyed today, since both houses in present day Iran and Iraq respectively have actually been destroyed. Such embarrassing lack of foresight by Baha’u’llah is usually ignored by Baha’is.

And so ends the sixth part of my critique of the Kitab-i-Aqdas.

 

 

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2 thoughts on “A Critical Analysis of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Part Six

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

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

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