Another Baha’i picks a fight with me on YouTube

Watch this video, which  is based on one of my first blog entries attacking the Baha’i Faith:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=02FWnoAP3tk

I expected some criticism from Baha’is, but nothing like this:

AVATAR PARADIGMS

Hello.

I’m an experimental philosopher and systems theorist. I’ve studied world religions for 19 years, beginning in the year 2000 unto the present. I was raised a Christian and, having been an atheist for some time before finding God, then reverted Islam in the mid-2000’s. After ten years I discovered the Baha’i Faith and entered into the cause in 2015.

There are many errors in this video. In the spirit of the cause, I’m taking it upon myself to correct many of Mr. Husband’s well-meaning but unfortunate misunderstandings. I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt by saying I don’t believe Mr. Husband is maliciously misrepresenting the faith intentionally; only that his doing so is motivated by a misunderstanding of this element of the Baha’i Faith because it was not made sufficiently clear to him.

Because I’m so familiar with the theoretical roots of the faith – especially in terms of Islamic mysticism and Eastern Orthodox hesychastic practices which can trace their origin all the way back to the Jewish Kabbalah during the Islamic Umayyad conquest of Spain, I’m qualified to explain the errors in Mr. Husband’s video.

Unfortunately, Mr. Husband doesn’t speak Arabic. I do – not fluently, but conversationally – and have an extensive Arabic vocabulary which, largely for research and academic purposes, consists of terms of deep theological import.

The term which Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, translates as “infallibility” is عِصْمَة. This word has no direct English corollary. Meaning “protection from sin”, and “incorruptible innocence” and “inability to do evil”, it translates loosely as “infallibility” into English.

The word is pronounced in English as “ismah.”

The history of the term begins within Shia Islam where it denotes the inherited charisma of the prophet Muhammad which was received in successive tradition from and through the 12 imams, beginning with Imam Ali and descending by degrees down through the authority of the 12 imams. The teaching is simply this: ismah is the divine attribute of a holy man being protected from sin by the will of God. As a result, the bearer of ismah is in possession of an incorruptible innocence such that one is not without the ability but without the MEANS to do evil.

What this means is simple: it is not that an individual standing in possession of ismah is incapable of error; rather, it means that an individual is incapable of providing sinful, corrupt, or spurious interpretations of holy writ because such an individual has been deprived by God of the MEANS for doing so. A prime example of this is that were the Universal House of Justice to publicly release a document with a typo or a spelling error in it, this alone is not evidence of fallibility; nor is it a repudiation of the station of “ismah.” Again, what “ismah” means is not simply infallibility, but of a specific type: the absence of a means to interpret the writings of Baha’u’llah, the Bab or Abdul Baha in an ethically corrupt and malicious way grounded on malicious intent.

To provide an example of Ismah in action, imagine a scriptural exposition provided by the Virgin Mary, or the blessed Fatimah, or even Sariputti: the disciple of Buddha. While these beloved souls are certainly capable of errors, because of their extreme purity of heart and holiness they are protected by God from issuing forth profane and morally corrupt understandings of the scripture. This is what is meant when one says Abdul Baha or Shoghi Effendi’s expositions of the writings of Baha’u’llah and the Bab are infallible. They are protected via the will of God through the power of ismah (عِصْمَة).

Baha’u’llah, in naming Abdul Baha as the center of the Covenant, had conferred upon him the status of the infallible interpreter of his writings. In the Last Will and Testimony of Abdul Baha, this charisma was conferred upon Shoghi Effendi. Shoghi’s role was the official interpreter of the writings of Baha’u’llah, the Bab, and Abdul Baha. No one else had the authority of interpreting the writings of Baha’u’llah, the Bab, and Abdul Baha.

With the death of Shoghi Effendi, because he and he alone was empowered with the right to interpret the writings, the meaning of the scriptures as they have been elucidate up until that point has been sealed. No future interpreters would come from that point forward. In this way, by an act of God, the meanings of the scriptures were permanently safeguarded from institutional corruption that would have inevitably followed over the next millennium.

Each and every Baha’i was now made responsible for arriving at their own private understanding of the writings of Baha’u’llah and the Bab, as guided by the interpretations set forth by Abdul Baha and the expositions illuminated by Shoghi Effendi. The effect of this is that the faith is safeguarded – protected, as it were – from deteriorating due to a successive chain of faulty interpretations being imposed upon the scriptures. This naturally extends to include the Universal House of Justice.

As for the question of infallibility? No Baha’i sincerely believes that were the Universal House of Justice to declare that helium is the heaviest element in the periodic table, or that the number 1 comes after 5 and before 7 in the number line, that its pontifications would be infallibly correct. Rather, what it signifies is that if the Universal House of Justice issued a writ with spelling errors in it, or handed down a ruling regarding the enforcement of a law in the Kitab’i’Aqdas which was later to be discovered in error and overturned, that these actions are not grounds for the Baha’i to accuse the Universal House of Justice of corruption, much less malicious intent.

In other words, the source of the Universal House of Justice’s ismah – it’s protection from corruption – is the believing body of the Baha’i themselves. It is not an attribute conferred upon the Universal House of Justice, but a divine obligation of the Baha’i to regard the Universal House of Justice with deference, reverence, and to always perceive them as having the best of intentions, while at the same time engaging in the democratic processes of voting to ensure that the Universal House of Justice, it’s governing body, and it’s basis of power and authority is preserved from the moral corruption and the deterioration of spiritual character that so often accompanies the possession of power, authority and it’s wielding.

The practice of striving to personally interpreting a speaker’s statements in the most logical and charitable way possibles has a long and storied history in science and philosophy. Called the Principle of Charity, the practice aims at preventing oneself from straw-manning the point of view of a speaker by ever striving to consider a perspective in its best light, by granting it the benefit of being understood in its most powerful and most ethical manner possible.

In short, the Universal House of Justice truly does possess ismah – which is to say: moral infallibility – but only to the degree that we as Baha’is do our duty to be virtuous ourselves, to observe the commandments of Baha’u’llah by regarding the Universal House of Justice with deference, reverence, and to always grant them as having the best of intentions by regarding all their statements in the most charitable and rational manner possible – all while at the same time, by engaging in the democratic process of voting for the removal of those members Universal House of Justice whose representation and service we are dissatisfied with in order to inaugurate newer, more qualified members in their place.

In conjunction with honoring and respecting the history and authority of the Universal House of Justice by holding it to the highest moral standards we can conceive of: Divine Infallibility, it is through this democratic process of Baha’is voting out representatives of the Universal House of Justice which fall short of this Divine Standard by voting in new representatives that protects the Universal House of Justice from sin, safeguards the organization from corruption, and preserves the innocence of the institution – and thus confers upon the Universal House of Justice the blessing of Ismah: the Divine Charisma of Moral Infallibility which it inherited from the Wisdom that is to be found only through obedience to the writings and authority of Baha’u’llah.

This is what we mean when we say that the Universal House of Justice is infallible; through Baha’u’llah’s command, all power in our faith has been invested in the Baha’i – one and all – and we have a responsibility to maintain the integrity of the Universal House of Justice by rightly protecting it from corruption and iniquity.  As long as we do our duty in protecting the Universal House of Justice by holding it to a divine standard of moral excellence and accountability, then the integrity of our faith is ensured until the time when the next manifestation of God appears to renew our faith with a new revelation in the age of a new dispensation.

Thank you, and allah’u’abha.

Wow, an entire novel of arrogant commentary that most people wouldn’t even bother to read!

One of my allies, Wahid Azal, jumped in to reply before I did.

N. Wahid Azal

I am happy to respond to a few of your own blatant errors because not only do I know Arabic but I am far more familiar with the issues and concepts you speak about then even you appear to be. First, you need to prove the legitimacy of Baha’ullah himself before your argument holds any water and weight; and you need to do this directly from the writings of the Bab Himself. Since you cannot do this, all of the premises of your argument regarding the UHJ fall apart and reveal themselves as mere ideological tautologies which exposes everything else you say about the UHJ as nothing more than delusional cult apologia.

You say: “…Eastern Orthodox hesychastic practices which can trace their origin all the way back to the Jewish Kabbalah during the Islamic Umayyad conquest of Spain…”

There was no Kabbalah as a system during the Ummayad conquest of Spain because the Kabbalah originates in the eastern Islamic lands in Baghdad (particularly with circles around Saadia ben Gaon) and is systematized in northern Spain and southern Provenance in the form of the Zohar by Moses de Leon and his circle many centuries after the Islamic conquest of Spain. As such your first assertion is ahistorical and proves that you are not remotely familiar with Eastern Orthodox hesychastic practices, let alone the Kabbalah, as you claim.

You say: “Universal House of Justice…the absence of a means to interpret the writings…of the Bab…in an ethically corrupt and malicious way grounded on malicious intent.”

They have actually done this, i.e. interpreting the writings of the Bab in an ethically corrupt and malicious way grounded on malicious intent, on multiple occasions too numerous to name all the way to the time of Baha’ullah himself. A prime recent example of this was in their 2004 response to Badi Villar Cardenas regarding the Will and Testament of the Bab. Taherzadeh’s “Selections” is another blatant example. The fact that they do not open their manuscript collection of the Bab’s writings to the outside world is yet another, and on it goes.

I believe that just these short rejoinders here prove that you do not know what you are talking about and are yet another glazed eyed Haifan Bahai cultist.

Finally, I answered the Baha’i with:

Dale Husband

{{{The term which Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, translates as “infallibility” is عِصْمَة. This word has no direct English corollary. Meaning “protection from sin”, and “incorruptible innocence” and “inability to do evil”, it translates loosely as “infallibility” into English. The word is pronounced in English as “ismah.” }}}

Your argument is completely bogus! We DO have an English word for “protection from sin”, and “incorruptible innocence” and “inability to do evil”: sinless. The fact that Shoghi Effendi used “infallible” and not “sinless” instead negates your whole point. Of course, a person can make an honest mistake and thus be fallible while also being sinless. But Shoghi Effendi and Abdu’l-Baha did not claim to be sinless, did they? No, they claimed to be INFALLIBLE!

Abdu’l-Baha wrote, “Whatsoever [the Baha’i leaders of the future] decide is of God. Whoso obeyeth him not, neither obeyeth them, hath not obeyed God; whoso rebelleth against him and against them hath rebelled against God; whoso opposeth him hath opposed God; whoso contendeth with them hath contended with God; whoso disputeth with him hath disputed with God; whoso denieth him hath denied God; whoso disbelieveth in him hath disbelieved in God; whoso deviateth, separateth himself and turneth aside from him hath in truth deviated, separated himself and turned aside from God.”

I believe that equating ANY human being or any man-made institution of any kind with God is BLASPHEMY! You might as well not believe in God at all if you think truth can be defined by someone claiming God’s authority. How can that authority be proven wrong? By another “authority” contradicting him and the people being divided over who to believe? Or do we look at the universe and everything in it to see the truth for ourselves? This is why science is superior to religion. And writing an entire novel of rhetorical claims matters not in the slightest in the absence of empirical evidence that the Baha’i leadership since the time of Baha’u’llah was infallible.

The next day, the Baha’i made replies to both me and Azal that so infuriated me that I blocked him, but this not only ended the pointless debate (most religious debates are actually pointless because the opponents don’t even start with the same standards of truth, which makes progress at drawing a fair conclusion impossible), but it deleted ALL of the comments made by me, Azal and the Baha’i intruder. I wish YouTube didn’t do that; I would have kept at least some of those comments! Fortunately, I had already made copies of those three comments above in the ExBaha’i subreddit.

 

Later comments in reddit were as follows:

Mr. Husband doesn’t speak Arabic. I do – not fluently, but conversationally

What does this even mean? So they are not fluent in Arabic, but they are acting as an authority on Arabic because… what? just because they can order food or have a basic conversation in Arabic?

Imagine if I wrote a criticism of Roman Catholicism and a defender of it argued against me because of my ignorance of Latin…..when my orginal critique said nothing at all about the use of Latin by Catholic Popes and theologians at all.

That is just as absurd as what was done to me in YouTube.

One thought on “Another Baha’i picks a fight with me on YouTube

  1. I found another copy of a deleted comment from that Baha’i in my email. So…..

    {{{AVATAR PARADIGMS
    ​ Dale Husband ​: You’re perpetrating a logical fallacy, friend. The name of that fallacy is an argument male fides; this is the logical fallacy of accepting premises which you know to be untrue and don’t believe in yourself as a foundation to build a case for a position you do believe in. In this case, you on one hand oppose Shoghi Effndi’s infallibility in a literal sense. On the other hand, your argument – that Shoghi Effendi’s translation of “ismah” to “infallible” is an absolutely correct and utterly infallible translation of “ismah” into English – results in a contradiction in terms; you’re arguing for the infallibility of Shoghi’s translations while denying the infallibility of Shoghi Effendi. So your central point is falsified at this exact moment.

    Also, you’re making a category error: you’re confusing essential infallibility for acquired infallibility simply because the two categories of infallibility overlap in the use of the term “infallibility. Recall that in Some Answered Questions how Abdul Baha said there are two kinds of infallibility: essential infallibility and conferred infallibility. The essential infallibility you speak of – meaning: transcending the possibility of all error, epistemological as well as ethical – is, called by Baha’u’llah as the Most Great Infallibility and is described by Abdul Baha, conferred solely upon God, whom Baha’u’llah calls the Sun of Truth. On the other hand, acquired infallibility is as I’ve defined it previously: it is not transcendence above the possibility of all error whatsoever, but is protection from corruption and sin due to the guidance of the soul by the illumination and intercession from the Sun of Truth. Abdul Baha does so far as to say where essential infallibility is the attribute of the Sun of Truth, acquired infallibility is simply a single ray of light conferred by the Sun of Truth. In other words, essential infallibility as the kind Baha’u’llah speaks of is qualitatively more intense by incomprehensible factors than a ray of sunlight. Abdul Baha affirms my understanding of acquired infallibility (which is: as ismah) – which is: protection from sin due to divine guidance – by defining it as “protection” and “guidance.” In Some Answered Question he writes: “that House of Justice will be under the protection and the unerring guidance of God.” In other words, exactly as I’ve defined infallibility – which is in terms of “protection” and “guidance” is precisely how Abdul Baha both defines the term in use.

    So your rejection of the acquired infallibility of the Universal House of Justice is, as I’ve demonstrated, grounded on three logical fallacies: the first is an argument male fides, the second is a contradiction in your argument due to arguing from bad faith by trying to build a case on premises you yourself contest and cannot coherently integrate into your argument in an intellectually consistent manner, and the third is a category error resulting in a confusion of the two modes of infallibility (ismah) spoke of.

    Last but not least: As for Abdul Baha’s quotation that those who disobey the Universal House of Justice disobey God, there’s again straw man’s fallacy in your argument. This is the error of distorting a position in order to make it easier to refute. In this case, your cherry picking of texts out of context to support an opposite point of view which the texts themselves actually endorse is your method of forming a strawman. We can demonstrate it this way. If God commands us to obey the Universal House of Justice, and the Universal House of Justice issues an order that is disobeyed by one of more Baha’is, their disobedience is to the Universal House of Justice is not disobedience to God because the Universal House of Justice is God, but because we have been commanded by God to be obedient to an institution which is most certainly not God – which is to say, the Universal House of Justice. The mere fact that the Universal House of Justice lays claim to a Divine Attribute having been conferred upon it – namely, the bounty of acquired infallibility – is not identical to the Universal House of Justice is laying claim to divinity – and your saying so is the logical fallacy of cum hoc ergo propter hoc, where you confuse two things which stand in association with one another to be identical things.

    Anyhow, it was a meaningful and important discussion we had today. If you have any other questions or concerns that I can dispel, let me know. }}}

    He seems to think that writing such loooooooong passages can intimidate me.

    I made no fallacy, he is stating a lie. Like an outright nonsensical falsehood. All I really did was note what Abdu’l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi taught, and that I disagreed with it, stating exactly why. It had nothing to do with Shoghi’s translating Arabic, because it was the Baha’i himself who brought that up!

    As for the bullshit of “essential infallibility” vs. “acquired infallibility”, that’s just more phony rhetoric.
    https://dalehusband.com/2018/06/07/the-bogus-issue-of-infallibility-in-the-bahai-faith/

    It is not a strawman to reject Abdu’l-Baha’is claim of the Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice being of equal authority with God, you liar. Once again, you insult my intelligence! My position is that no person and no man-made institution can be consider equal with God, and that is what Abdu’l-Baha claimed, period! And I deny that God was behind the Will and Testament of Abdu’l-Baha because I did a critical analysis of it that made it look ridiculous!
    http://kitab-i-aqdas-criticism.blogspot.com/2018/04/a-critical-analysis-of-will-and.html

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s