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

At long last, I have reached the home stretch of my dealings with the Most Holy Book of Baha’u’llah. This has been a catharsis of sorts for me and I now think that once this is done, I need never write anything about my former religion again, though I will always keep and use the various blog entries I have made about it as weapons against it.

Here are the links to Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six, Part Seven,  and Part Eight of my critique of the Most Holy Book of Baha’u’llah. 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-aqda

Beware lest aught that hath been revealed in the Bayán should keep you from your Lord, the Most Compassionate. God is My witness that the Bayán was sent down for no other purpose than to celebrate My praise, did ye but know! In it the pure in heart will find only the fragrance of My love, only My Name that overshadoweth all that seeth and is seen. Say: Turn ye, O people, unto that which hath proceeded from My Most Exalted Pen. Should ye inhale therefrom the fragrance of God, set not yourselves against Him, nor deny yourselves a portion of His gracious favor and His manifold bestowals. Thus doth your Lord admonish you; He, verily, is the Counselor, the Omniscient.

Whatsoever ye understand not in the Bayán, ask it of God, your Lord and the Lord of your forefathers. Should He so desire, He will expound for you that which is revealed therein, and disclose to you the pearls of Divine knowledge and wisdom that lie concealed within the ocean of its words. He, verily, is supreme over all names; no God is there but Him, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting.

If these verses have any relevance to us today, then why to this day has the Bayan never been made more available for Baha’is around the world to read? Indeed, the only book I ever saw that contained a compilation of the Bab’s writings (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selections_from_the_Writings_of_the_B%C3%A1b) did not even include a complete version of the Bayan, though part of it was added. Shockingly enough….
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B%C3%A1b#Writings

Most of the writings of the Báb have been lost. The Báb himself stated they exceeded five hundred thousand verses in length; the Qur’an, in contrast, is 6300 verses in length. If one assumes 25 verses per page, that would equal 20,000 pages of text.[50] Nabíl-i-Zarandí, in The Dawn-breakers, mentions nine complete commentaries on the Qur’an, revealed during the Báb’s imprisonment at Maku, which have been lost without a trace.[51] Establishing the true text of the works that are still extant, as already noted, is not always easy, and some texts will require considerable work. Others, however, are in good shape; several of the Báb’s major works are available in the handwriting of his trusted secretaries

What a terrible waste! BTW, the Bab did not even bother to complete the Bayan, leaving it to be done by the Messenger who would come after him. Baha’is assume this to be Baha’u’llah, but as we saw he actually tossed the Bab’s own laws out and replaced them with the ones of the Kitab-i-Aqdas.

An incompetent writer can still occasionally produce something beautiful and inspiring and it would seem that only the very best of the Bab’s works have ever been allowed to be seen by Baha’is today, giving a badly distorted perspective of the Bab’s abilities.

The world’s equilibrium hath been upset through the vibrating influence of this most great, this new World Order. Mankind’s ordered life hath been revolutionized through the agency of this unique, this wondrous System—the like of which mortal eyes have never witnessed.

Sounds like something Karl Marx would have written at about the same time. And Communism did do a lot more to the world than the Baha’i Faith has, although it has gone down to ruin since then. At the pathetic rate the Baha’is are going, they may still be a scattered cult a century from now, if they still even exist at all as a viable religious community.

Immerse yourselves in the ocean of My words, that ye may unravel its secrets, and discover all the pearls of wisdom that lie hid in its depths. Take heed that ye do not vacillate in your determination to embrace the truth of this Cause—a Cause through which the potentialities of the might of God have been revealed, and His sovereignty established. With faces beaming with joy, hasten ye unto Him. This is the changeless Faith of God, eternal in the past, eternal in the future. Let him that seeketh, attain it; and as to him that hath refused to seek it—verily, God is Self-Sufficient, above any need of His creatures.

Say: This is the infallible Balance which the Hand of God is holding, in which all who are in the heavens and all who are on the earth are weighed, and their fate determined, if ye be of them that believe and recognize this truth. Say: This is the Most Great Testimony, by which the validity of every proof throughout the ages hath been established, would that ye might be assured been established, would that ye might be assured thereof. Say: Through it the poor have been enriched, the learned enlightened, and the seekers enabled to ascend unto the presence of God. Beware lest ye make it a cause of dissension amongst you. Be ye as firmly settled as the immovable mountain in the Cause of your Lord, the Mighty, the Loving.

More idle boasting and ego tripping! Baha’u’llah, your “ocean” is polluted and your balance has tipped over and hit the ground with a thud!

Say: O source of perversion! Abandon thy willful blindness, and speak forth the truth amidst the people. I swear by God that I have wept for thee to see thee following thy selfish passions and renouncing Him Who fashioned thee and brought thee into being. Call to mind the tender mercy of thy Lord, and remember how We nurtured thee by day and by night for service to the Cause. Fear God, and be thou of the truly repentant. Granted that the people were confused about thy station, is it conceivable that thou thyself art similarly confused? Tremble before thy Lord and recall the days when thou didst stand before Our throne, and didst write down the verses that We dictated unto thee—verses sent down by God, the Omnipotent Protector, the Lord of might and power. Beware lest the fire of thy presumptuousness debar thee from attaining to God’s Holy Court. Turn unto Him, and fear not because of thy deeds. He, in truth, forgiveth whomsoever He desireth as a bounty on His part; no God is there but Him, the Ever-Forgiving, the All-Bounteous. We admonish thee solely for the sake of God. Shouldst thou accept this counsel, thou wilt have acted to thine own behoof; and shouldst thou reject it, thy Lord, verily, can well dispense with thee, and with all those who, in manifest delusion, have followed thee. Behold! God hath laid hold on him who led thee astray. Return unto God, humble, submissive and lowly; verily, He will put away from thee thy sins, for thy Lord, of a certainty, is the Forgiving, the Mighty, the All-Merciful.

Here Baha’u’llah directly addresses his younger half-brother, Mirza Yahya, who had the title of Ṣubḥ-i-Azal.  Baha’u’llah and his brother became enemies during their time together in the Turkish city of Adrianople (now called Edirne), when Mirza Yahya rejected Baha’u’llah’s claims of being the one the Bab foretold, and insisted that he was the rightful leader of the Babis, having been appointed to that role by the Bab himself. But he proved to be so cowardly and incompetent that Baha’u’llah was able to win most of the Babis to his side, making them Baha’is, while the remaining Babis were renamed Azalis after Mirza Yahya’s title. You’d think it was obvious that the Bab had made a mistake with his appointment, but the hilarious thing about Manifestations of God like the Bab and Baha’u’llah is that THEY ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE MISTAKEN ABOUT ANYTHING! So Baha’i history has been rewritten to whitewash this issue.

A generation later, Baha’u’llah stated in his will and testament that Abdu’l-Baha was to be the rightful leader of the Baha’i community, but also stated that Mirza Muhammad-Ali, Abdu’l-Baha’s own younger half-brother, would be the first son’s lieutenant and eventual successor. But Abdu’l-Baha decided to pull the same stunt against his brother that Baha’u’llah did against Mirza Yahya, denying him any place in the hierarchy of the Faith! Again, it could not be admitted that either Baha’u’llah had made an error or that Abdu’l-Baha had been treacherous, so Baha’i history was written to make it appear that the “betrayal” was all on Mirza Muhammad-Ali after Baha’u’llah’s death, depicting this wayward son as a horrible villain and Abdu’l-Baha as a virtuous hero in ridiculously cartoonish terms. Never mind that many of Baha’u’llah’s relatives actually sided with the younger brother in this case.

The intense thought control and self-censorship of the Baha’i Administrative Order over the past century or so has allowed this sort of manipulation of history in the Baha’i Faith. We simply have no way of knowing for sure what really happened.

This is the Counsel of God; would that thou mightest heed it! This is the Bounty of God; would that thou mightest receive it! This is the Utterance of God; if only thou wouldst apprehend it! This is the Treasure of God; if only thou couldst understand!

This is an annoyance of God, if only it had never existed!

This is a Book which hath become the Lamp of the Eternal unto the world, and His straight, undeviating Path amidst the peoples of the earth. Say: This is the Dayspring of Divine knowledge, if ye be of them that understand, and the Dawning-place of God’s commandments, if ye be of those who comprehend.

(((No comment.)))

Burden not an animal with more than it can bear. We, truly, have prohibited such treatment through a most binding interdiction in the Book. Be ye the embodiments of justice and fairness amidst all creation.

Animal cruelty is not tolerated in the Baha’i Faith, another good law.

Should anyone unintentionally take another’s life, it is incumbent upon him to render to the family of the deceased an indemnity of one hundred mithqáls of gold. Observe ye that which hath been enjoined upon you in this Tablet, and be not of those who overstep its limits.

Not a bad idea, except a person who committed involuntary manslaughter may be too poor to afford that penalty. How about imprisoning him for a period of time instead?

O members of parliaments throughout the world! Select ye a single language for the use of all on earth, and adopt ye likewise a common script. God, verily, maketh plain for you that which shall profit you and enable you to be independent of others. He, of a truth, is the Most Bountiful, the All-Knowing, the All-Informed. This will be the cause of unity, could ye but comprehend it, and the greatest instrument for promoting harmony and civilization, would that ye might understand! We have appointed two signs for the coming of age of the human race: the first, which is the most firm foundation, We have set down in other of Our Tablets, while the second hath been revealed in this wondrous Book.

About the same time the Kitab-i-Aqdas was published, a Polish doctor named L. L. Zamenhof invented a new language called Esperanto, which became quite popular over several decades. Baha’is quickly adopted and promoted it for a long time, but it has since fallen out of favor and now it appears English may become the universal language Baha’u’llah called for. English is already the most widely spoken language (though Chinese is the most popular, it is not so widespread). Its biggest advantage is its borrowing so many words from other languages to enrich its own vocabulary.

It hath been forbidden you to smoke opium. We, truly, have prohibited this practice through a most binding interdiction in the Book. Should anyone partake thereof, assuredly he is not of Me. Fear God, O ye endued with understanding!

Yet another case of literary chaos; Baha’u’llah  condemned opium use once before and made a more general prohibition against taking intoxicating substances once before that.

We reach the original end of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, but in reality Baha’u’llah was not quite finished. He would later add one more part.

The Tablet of Ishráqát
The Eighth Ishráq

This passage, now written by the Pen of Glory, is accounted as part of the Most Holy Book: The men of God’s House of Justice have been charged with the affairs of the people. They, in truth, are the Trustees of God among His servants and the daysprings of authority in His countries.

So once again, Baha’u’llah repeats what was said before.

O people of God! That which traineth the world is Justice, for it is upheld by two pillars, reward and punishment. These two pillars are the sources of life to the world. Inasmuch as for each day there is a new problem and for every problem an expedient solution, such affairs should be referred to the House of Justice that the members thereof may act according to the needs and requirements of the time. They that, for the sake of God, arise to serve His Cause, are the recipients of divine inspiration from the unseen Kingdom. It is incumbent upon all to be obedient unto them. All matters of State should be referred to the House of Justice, but acts of worship must be observed according to that which God hath revealed in His Book.

So this confirms that the House of Justice is to be a future government. Concepts like separation of religion and politics will no longer be an issue, right?

O people of Bahá! Ye are the dawning-places of the love of God and the daysprings of His loving-kindness. Defile not your tongues with the cursing and reviling of any soul, and guard your eyes against that which is not seemly. Set forth that which ye possess. If it be favorably received, your end is attained; if not, to protest is vain. Leave that soul to himself and turn unto the Lord, the Protector, the Self-Subsisting. Be not the cause of grief, much less of discord and strife. The hope is cherished that ye may obtain true education in the shelter of the tree of His tender mercies and act in accordance with that which God desireth. Ye are all the leaves of one tree and the drops of one ocean.

So once again we get more BLAH BLAH BLAH that we would have seen from him many, many times before. However, that very last sentence is one of the most beloved and often quoted passages from Baha’u’llah. Remember what I said about a terrible writer occasionally making something great? There is a perfect example!

And with that, I am done!

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

  1. The translation of the 8th Ishraqat you have used is seriously misleading. In the translation by Shoghi Effendi, published in The Dawn: a monthly Bahai Journal of Burma, Vol. II, No. 7, March, 1925, The relevant section reads:

    “Administrative affairs should be referred to the House of Justice, but acts of worship must be observed according as they are revealed by God in His Book. ”

    The phrase Shoghi Effendi uses here, administrative affairs rather than “affairs of state,” was one he used throughout his ministry. In The Bahai World Volume 9, page 114 (page 141 in the pdf scan), published in 1945, the eighth Ishraq reads:

    “The affairs of the people are placed in charge of the men of the House of Justice of God. They are the trustees of God among His servants and the day springs of command in His countries. O people of God! The trainer of the world is Justice, for it consisteth of two pillars: Reward and Retribution. These two pillars are two fountains for the life of the people of the world. Inasmuch as for each time and day a particular decree and order is expedient, affairs are therefore entrusted to the ministers of the House of Justice, so that they may execute that which they deem advisable at the time. Those souls who arise to serve the Cause sincerely to please God will be inspired by the divine, invisible inspirations. It is incumbent upon all to obey. **Administrative affairs** are all in charge of the House of Justice; but acts of worship must be observed according as they are revealed in the Book.”

    This was quoted by Horace Holley in volume 10 of The Bahai World (p. 239), reprinted in volumes 12 and 13. Volume 11 includes Shoghi Effendi’s translation of the parallel text in the Tablet of Bisharat (the 13th Bisharat) which reads:

    “Administrative affairs are all in charge of the House of Justice; but acts of worship must be observed according as they are revealed in the Book.” (The Baha’i World, Volume 11 (1946-1950), page 67)

    It will be noted that the term “administrative affairs” is one that Shoghi Effendi uses often, and in one case states specifically that it does not involve any affairs of state:

    “Theirs is not the purpose, while endeavoring to conduct and perfect the **administrative affairs** of their Faith, to violate, under any circumstances, the provisions of their country’s constitution, much less to allow the machinery of their administration to supersede the government of their respective countries.”
    (The World Order of Baha’u’llah, p. 66)

    Shoghi Effendi’s translation (and his understanding of the Bahai teachings) will naturally supersede the translation in Tablets of Baha’u’llah, which is seriously misleading, and provides ammunition for those who try to present the Bahai community as a potential threat to freedom of (un)belief or the Administrative Order of the Bahais as a government-in-waiting.

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